Daksh did not very much like the idea of marrying his daughter to one who had such gross looks and who roamed around cremation ground and kept the oddest company. Still Sati had her heart set on Mahadev and Brahma also encouraged ‘Daksh’ to do so, as Mahadev was one of the holy Trinity!
Sati and Mahadev lived happily in their abode at Mt. Kailash. Sati was not such a docile creature and had a mind of her own and often did not listen to her husband. She did what she herself wanted to, in spite of his telling her not to do so!
Once as they were riding around on ‘Nandi’ the bull to see if the world was functioning as ordained. They came across two handsome youths walking around in the forest, looking woebegone and extremely anxious. Seeing them Lord Shiva bowed his head and folded his hands in a namaskar saying. “It seems Vishnu has taken Ram avtar already.”
Sati asked him what he meant by that because if one of the youths according to him was Vishnu himself, why is he despondent? “Because Ram’s wife Sita has been carried away by Ravan, the King of Lanka, and Ram is searching for her in desperation” said Shiva, “If that be so why Vishnu — who is Omniscient and knows the future, be so unhappy”? Mahadev just smiled — Sati was not satisfied and decided to test the youths. She changed herself into a look-a-like of Sita, and stood in the path of Ram and Laxman.
Laxman was puzzled — but not Ram. He bowed and with folded hands asked Sati (in the garb of Sita): “Mother, why you are alone in this dense forest, and where is Shivji?” — Thus proving to her that he was really Vishnu — Sati ran back to her husband who was just about to sit down for meditation. Still He asked her, “What is the result of your research?” He quickly told him an untruth and said that she had actually believed him and did not really test the youths! Mahadev knew the actual fact and told her so.
He said, “Now that you had taken the garb of Sita who is Laxmi herself and is like a mother to me, I cannot accept you as my wife, therefore, your seat from now on is not on my left, but in front of me — as that is the place to a mother”. Sati was aghast at this pronouncement, but could do nothing about it.
She accepted her husband’s decision, although she was heart broken. One day while sitting thus she saw a lot of vimans (aeroplanes) carrying devtas and rishis and their wives dressed very well and in great excitement flying past overhead. She looked up and asked Shivji as to where all those people were going. Shivji had also got up from his meditation because of the noise, and inquired from one of his doots (the server) as to the cause of such activity.
The ‘doot’ informed him that Daksh has been given the title of ‘Prajapati’ (progenitor of the human race) and he is celebrating this honour by holding a great yagya known as ‘Brishaspati Sava’ at Kankhal near Haridwar. Sati was surprised that she and her husband had not been invited, but was very keen to go, as she felt that it was her father’s house and she really didn’t need an invitation! She said to Shivji, “Your father-in-law, my father has begun to perform a great yagna. We should also go there. We are his children.
All the devtas and rishis are there with their wives. People are still going in that direction so it is evident that it is not yet over and I want to go there my Lord — I want to meet my mother and my sisters. I am very eager to go and see the yagya.”
Mahadev told her that if it was any other person he would have gone but Daksh had purposely not invited them because at the yagna known as ‘Brahma Satra’ which was being performed by Marichi and other great sages sometime back Daksh who had already been chosen for the title of Prajapati by Brahma came in with great pride, shining like the Sun in all its glory.
Everyone got up and He (Shiva) did not. This annoyed Daksh very much, as Daksh took it as an insult for not being honoured by his own son-in-law, quite forgetting that Shiva was one of the Holy Trinity. So full of ego he was that from that day he refused to honour Shiva.
Sati was still keen to go and so she went. On reaching there her father did not welcome her at the gate where he stood welcoming all others. Only her mother and sisters came forward to embrace her. The rest were frightened of Daksh and kept quiet. Sati also saw that no one asked her the reason for her husband’s absence. There was no ‘Havis’ or portion for Shivji (the offerings that are first taken out in honour of each God).
The insult to her in not even recognising her as a daughter of the house was bearable, but the insult to her husband the ‘Great God’ was too much to her. She loved and honoured Him far too much and her anger towards her father was also too much for her. Shiva had forsaken her as a wife and she felt quite unwanted, so she in her rage jumped into the sacrificial fire and burnt herself to death.
There was great chaos at the yagna as soon as Shivji heard of it. He was furious and brought forth a terrible being named ‘Veerabhadra’ and along with him and His own army of ghosts and spirits attacked the yagshala and played havoc with the assembly. He took the body of Sati on his shoulder and would not let it go. With flaming eyes he in his wrath nearly destroyed the world. All the devtas and the people cried out to Vishnu for help.
Vishnu, realising the gravity of the situation, hurled his ‘Sudharshan Chakra’ and cut up Sati’s body into twelve pieces; each piece fell down to the earth. Each place on which any part of the body fell became a holy ‘shrine’ and is known as a ‘Shakti Peetha’. Once the body was removed from Shiva’s shoulder, he calmed down at the instance of Brahma and Vishnu and returned to Mt. Kailash leaving the people of the earth to return back to their routine and did not bother about them for a lomg time. Thus ended Shiva’s first marriage in disaster.
After the terrible uprooting of the great yagna and the indifference of Mahadev to the world it greatly upset the devtas. The gods went to Brahma to seek his advice. Brahma accompanied them and convinced Shiva that he being the ‘Almighty’ Himself, was nobleness and forgiveness personified. Any oblation offered to any God or devta was actually His. Shankar being ‘Bholanath’ (simple person) forgave everyone and shed his aloofness from the worlds which was suffering due to His neglecting it.
The yagna of Daksh — which could not be left half way — was completed with dignity and honour. Daksh lost his pride and had to wear a goat’s head from then on. Vishnu came and told the assembly that He, Brahma and Shiv were actually one and no one should forget that and so peace returned to the three worlds.