Who among us doesn’t know about lord Shiva and his consort goddess Sati who is the manifestation of Adi Parashakti- the supreme source of energy, the supreme power who has given birth to universe and all the planetary positions and all the demigods along with the three prime gods of Hindu pantheon who form a holy trinity- Brahma Vishnu and Shiva. Goddess sati was the first form of goddess Adi Shakti who took human form to marry lord Shiva. Sati loved Shiva since childhood but his father Daksh Prajapati was a staunch devotee of lord Vishnu but at the same time he barred people from worshipping lord Shiva. Not only this but he abhorred lord Shiva to such an extent that he disliked people who had any inclination towards Shiva. So much was this hatred that he abandoned his daughter sati whom he had loved the most in his life just because she had married Shiva against his wishes.
Daksh Prajapati is considered as one of the sons of Brahma who after creating ten manas putra (born of his mind), created sons Daksh, Dharma, Kamadev, and Agni from his right thumb, chest, heart, and eyebrows respectively. It is believed that Daksh with his wife Prasuti practiced penance for thousands of years to get adi Parashakti as their daughter and happy with their devotion, devi gave them boon that she will be born to them and sati was born as daughter who was devi herself.
With passage of time, Daksh turned arrogant with power and sense of feeling that even demigods and saptarishis come to meet him at his will and many of them are his sons-in-law. But he could not stop Sati from loving and worshipping Shiva despite of the fact that she loved her father a lot and was in extreme agony as to what to do with her life as she couldn’t let her father down and at the same time could not stop herself from loving Shiva as they were inseparable since the beginning of time.
However, there came a time when sati married Shiva and left Daksh’s palace to live with Shiva on Kailash Mountains. Major turning point, however, in the development of sects of Shaivism and Shaktism was Daksh Yagna in which he invited all the gods, demigods, rishis and nobles from heavens and all over the universe but intentionally avoided inviting Shiva and Sati. Sati out of filial affection wanted to attend the grand yagna but Shiva stopped her from doing so because he could see the catastrophe that lay in the womb of time. After much discussion, sati got infuriated. It is believed that it was the first time when ten Mahavidyas of Devi durga emerged from the body of sati. Mahavidyas-the ten fiercest forms of Devi durga-are said to be emerged only because she got angry being stopped by Shiva. Hence Shiva allowed her to go to yagna.
When sati reached her father’s palace which she had left some time ago, she was extremely glad to see all her sisters, her mother her relatives and others. But what she realized there stunned her to the core. Her sisters, relatives and her own mother neglected her and did not show any affection to her. No one spoke to her there and among all the demigods, saints and sages, and in front of whole society she felt extremely humiliated. But she could take it all had it not been the question of the respect and dignity of her husband, lord Shiva because what Daksh Prajapati did next was unacceptable to her. Daksh started insulting lord Shiva by calling him immoral, dirty roaming ascetic who accompanies ghosts and goblins. Sati unable to bear it took the form of adi Parashakti and made Daksh realize his mistake. All the guests present there got extremely petrified and that form of her struck terror into their hearts.
Atmosphere of yagna turned into that of rampage when Shiva got to know it. He invoked Veerbhadra and Bhadrakali to destroy Daksh yagna. Veerbhadra beheaded Daksh and Bhadrakali destroyed Daksh yagna which is the reason that one of maa Durga’s 108 names is Dakhshyagnavinashini (one who destroyed the yagna of Daksh).
When Shiva reached the locale and heard all the cries and witnessed the bloodshed, he resurrected all those who were slaughtered and blessed them as he is known to forgive all. He also forgave Daksh and replaced his head with that of a goat. But it didn’t help grief stricken Shiva and he couldn’t get peace in his heart and mind.
All these Shakti Peeths also have lord Shiva in his Bhairav form. And this is how Shakti Peeths came into existence.
Now there are places on this earth where parts of sati’s body fell and devotees throng from all around the world to these holy Shakti Peeths to seek blessings of maa shakti. I visited one such temple recently in Dhanaulti near Mussoorie. Maa Surkanda Devi’s temple is believed to be the place where the head of sati fell. Though there are other temples which are believed to be the location where sati’s head fell, Surkanda Devi temple is a very known and revered temple.
As the head of sati fell here it was originally called as Sirkhanda which with the passage of time became Surkanda. Temple has a black idol of maa durga which is beautiful and makes the devotees extremely ecstatic and delighted. It was a great experience for me to behold that look of maa durga with motherly affection and tranquility. The temple premise has a temple of Bhairav and maa Kaali as well like other Shakti Peeths.
Besides, it also has lord Shiva and lord hanuman temples.
It is situated on top of a hill in Dhanaulti from where the picturesque hills and valleys can be seen along with the Himalayan peaks. It’s so serene to be at the top of the hill, to have a look on the beautiful foggy hills that one really loves to get lost in the peaceful ambience of the temple. Open area outside temple gives beautiful scenic view to the devotees. The tiring trek to the temple vanishes with such experience and that is a great feeling one gets on top of the hill in temple.
So this is the story of Devi Surkanda where the head of maa sati fell, and Shiva, Shakti (Sati) and Daksh and how Shakteepeeths came into existence. This is the story of love and pain of separation. This is the story of ignorance of Daksh who later felt remorseful and became a devotee of lord Shiva and spent all his life worshipping lord Shiva; passed his life visiting temples dedicated to lord Shiva.
But this could not end the love of Shiva and Shakti which is beyond time and reach of mortals. Sati once again took birth as Parvati as daughter of Himavan-king of mountains and Devi Maina. This time she married Shiva and they got their love to cherish it forever.
And this was my journey to the Surkanda Devi temple which I had been wishing to visit since last few years being a devotee of maa Shakti. The peace of mind that one gets at the temple of maa Shakti is beyond words. I simply can’t describe the motherly affection I feel I get from maa durga. So all that I can say or describe is that if you really wish to feel that divine affection of maa Surkanda or innocent Maa Sati and that serene atmosphere, you must visit the hill station of Mussoorie-Dhanaulti and must visit this divinely great temple amidst the colossal hills and beautiful valleys.
Pictures courtesy- Except wallpapers, all the pictures were clicked by me and some are originally posted on my Facebook page Shekhar’s photography-www.facebook.com/Shekharsphotography001/