The Making of Guheswori

Features Issue 110 Jan, 2011
Text by Amar B. Shrestha / Photo: ECS Media

H indu mythology is replete with fascinating tales and one of the most intriguing is that of Dakshayani. She was a daughter of Dakshya Prajapati, a descendant of Brahma, and married to Lord Shiva. However, Dakshya did not get along with his son-in-law and constantly refused to acknowledge his divine powers. One day, he performed an Asvamedha Yagya (a very important royal ritual of Vedic religion) to which all the gods and goddesses were invited except Shiva and his wife. Dakshayani, nonetheless, decided to attend the Yagya, even if uninvited. This turned out be a very bad idea because while there, she had to bear the brunt of her father’s fury and listen to him insult her husband in no uncertain terms. She could bear it only for a while and in a rage, immolated herself by jumping into the sacred fires of the Yagya. Because of this act of supreme sacrifice, Dakshayani thenceforth came to be known as Satyawati or Sati (the chaste one).

Meanwhile, Lord Shiva, on hearing the grievous news, sent Virbhadra and Mahakali (a terrible duo created from two of Shiva’s hair strands) to destroy the Asvamedha Yagya before going himself to further add to the destruction. So grieved was he that he then carried Sati’s dead body on his back and wandered over the earth in a deadly dance of destruction (the Tandava Nritya). Soon enough, the other gods started becoming anxious and devised a plan to free Lord Shiva from his dangerous obsession. Accordingly, Lord Vishnu began following the crazed dancer and with his discus (chakra), cut Sati’s dead body into pieces while it was still being carried on her husband’s shoulders.

Parts of Sati’s body fell at various places of Nepal and India and such sites became hallowed sites known as a Shakti Piths. Sati’s vagina (yoni) fell at Guheswori near the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu where her shrine then became an important pilgrimage site for all Hindus. It is believed that if one marries inside the Guheswori Temple, one will be blessed with the same soul mate for another six birth cycles. It is also said that if one is facing legal problems, doing puja (worship) at Guheswori Temple will ensure a good outcome.

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