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Ram-headed Daksha being blessed by Lord Shiva with Shivaganas in the background

Daksha

Daksha was a mind-born son of Brahma and a king. He had many daughters with his wife Prasuti, including Sati. At his yagna, he was decapitated by Virabhadra but then revived by Shiva. Later, Daksha was reborn in Chakshusha Manvantara (if you don’t know what a Manvantara is, visit Time in Hinduism) as a son of the 10 Prachetas and their wife Marisha. In this birth too, Daksha had multiple offspring with his wives to expand the population of the universe.

Family

1st Birth

  • Father: Brahma
  • Wife: Prasuti
  • Daughters: Shraddha, Lakshmi, Dhriti, Tushti, Pushti, Medha, Kriya, Buddhi, Lajja, Vasu, Shanti, Siddhi, Kirrti, Khyati, Sati, Sambhuti, Smriti, Priti, Kshama, Sannati, Anurupa, Urjja, Svaha, Svadha, Rati

2nd Birth

  • Father: 10 Prachetas
  • Mother: Marisha
  • Wives: Asikni, Virini
  • Sons: 10,000 Haryasvas, 10,000 Savalasvas
  • Daughters: Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhvasha, Ira, Kadru, Vishva, Muni, Maruvati, Vasu, Jami, Lamba, Bhanu, Urjja, Sankalpa, Mahuratha, Sadhya, Visva, Krttika, Rohini, Mrigashirsha, Ardra, Punarvasu, Purbabhadrapada, Pushya, Aslesha, Magha, Svati, Chitra, Purvaphalguni, Hasta, Radha, Vishakha, Anuradha, Jyeshta, Mula, Purbashadha, Uttarashara, Sravana, Uttaraphalguni, Satabhisha, Uttarabhadrapada, Revati, Ashwini, Bharani

Birth

During the creation of the universe, after the birth of Shiva (Rudra) and the Rudras, Brahma realized that he needed some peaceful people in the universe. He created 10 Manasputras (mind-born sons): Marichi, Atri, Pulaha, Pulastya, Angiras, Kratu, Vashishta, Narada, Daksha, and Bhrigu. He also created Kardama and Dharma. After that, a beautiful lady sprung from Brahma’s mind. On seeing her, Daksha, his 9 brothers, and his father all got up, various thoughts running through them. Because of this, Kama (god of love) was born. Daksha was assigned to get a suitable wife for Kama.

Birth and Marriage of Rati

After Brahma had finished his creation, Kama decided to test his powers. He made Brahma, Daksha, and his brothers attracted to Sandhya. Daksha was overcome by lust. Later, Dharma prayed to Shiva, who told them that what they are doing is wrong. Out of embarrassment for his actions, Daksha started sweating. Out of this sweat, Rati was born. Brahma was enraged at Kama and cursed him, but then blessed him. After Brahma and Shiva had disappeared, Daksha decided that his daughter Rati was a perfect match for Kama. The marriage of Rati and Kama was celebrated with great festivities.

Daksha’s Penance

After the marriage, everyone went back to their appropriate abodes. At Satyaloka, Brahma started thinking about what had just happened. He then had an idea. He went to the abode of his Daksha, his brothers, Rati, and Kama. Brahma said, “Shiva is a Yogin, so he despised us being attracted to a woman. If he doesn’t allow men to be attracted to women, then the creation won’t progress. We must have Shiva take up a wife! Only Kama and Rati are capable of this feat. Kama, you and your wife shall pursue Shiva wherever he travels and seduce him.”

Kama tried multiple times but failed every time. Finally, Brahma prayed to the Goddess Shakti, who said she would incarnate as the daughter of Daksha and marry Shiva.

Brahma told this to Daksha and his wife Prasuti, the daughter of Swayambhava Manu. Daksha agreed to go do penance. For hundreds of years, Daksha performed a rigorous penance, worshiping the Goddess. After many years, the Goddess presented herself in front of Daksha. She told him to ask for a boon.

“No one is competent enough to enthrall Lord Shiva except for you. Please take birth on Earth as my daughter and marry Shiva. This is the only boon I wish of you. It fulfills the interests of everyone. I have been instructed by Brahma to ask for this,” Daksha asked.

“Dear Daksha, I will surely take birth in your wife’s womb and marry Shiva. But there is one condition. If ever, in the future, you are to disrespect me, I will cast off this body and take birth somewhere else,” the Goddess warned as she vanished.

Daksha then returned to hermitage. He was overjoyed because the Goddess was going to take birth as his daughter.

Birth of Daughters

A few years passed and Daksha and Prasuti had 23 daughters. But the Goddess still hadn’t incarnated as one of their daughters. They meditated and soon enough, Prasuti was pregnant with a daughter who was the incarnation of the Goddess. After 10 months of pregnancy, the daughter was born. Everybody rejoiced and there was a wonderful atmosphere on Earth. The devas showered flowers on the newborn. Daksha named this daughter Sati. The gods and sages came to the festivities and praised Sati, Daksha, and Prasuti. Many people were playing musical instruments. It was a time of joy.

Marriage of Shiva and Sati

When Sati grew older, she decided to go do penance to appease Shiva and marry him. After taking permission from Daksha, she left and started performing severe penance. Seeing Sati’s penance, Brahma, Vishnu, the devas, and the sages went to Shiva and convinced him to marry Sati. Shiva then appeared in front of Sati and gave her the boon of marriage.

Shiva then called Brahma and told him what had happened. Brahma was relieved that his goal had finally been achieved. “Your daughter has propitiated Shiva, who has granted her the boon. Shiva is in love with Sati and cannot even focus on his meditation anymore. I will bring Shiva here for the marriage,” Brahma said. Daksha agreed to the marriage and started preparations.

Brahma went and told Shiva that Daksha had agreed to the marriage. Shiva was delighted and got ready to go to Daksha’s palace. Accompanied by Brahma and his Manasputras, Vishnu, the devas, and the sages, Shiva went to the palace of Daksha. Shiva and his entourage were welcomed by Daksha and his citizens. Then Daksha told Brahma to perform the marriage rites. After a minor conflict between Shiva and Brahma, the marriage rites ended. Daksha joyfully gave his daughter to Shiva and everything ended auspiciously and joyfully. After that, Daksha gave various gifts to Shiva as dowry. After the marriage had ended, Shiva and Sati sat on Nandi and started making the journey to Mount Kailash. Halfway, Daksha and Prasuti departed. Soon, Shiva and Sati reached Kailash.

Brahma’s Yagna

Once, Brahma performed a great yagna at Prayaga. All the great rishis and kings were called there. All the Prajapatis, devas, and devis, and others also assembled there to celebrate the occasion. Lord Shiva and Sati also came to the yagna. Daksha also arrived at the site of the yagna. Everybody stood up and bowed to him except for Brahma and Shiva. Brahma didn’t bow to him because he is his father. Shiva didn’t bow to him because he is of a higher position. But Daksha was very arrogant. He was enraged when Shiva didn’t bow to him.

“All the devas and Brahmins bow to me. Everyone bowed to me except this wicked man,” Daksha said, pointing at Shiva. “I curse him that he will be expelled from all sacrifices!”

Hearing what Daksha had said, Nandi was infuriated. He thundered, “Oh foolish Daksha, how dare you curse Lord Shiva! Your curse will not do anything. It does not affect him.”

“All of you followers of Shiva will also be expelled from sacrifices and Vedic rites. No Brahmin will ever perform a sacrifice for any of you. You will become heretics who drink wine and keep matted hair,” cursed Daksha.

Daksha’s second curse really made Nandi mad. He yelled,” Your curse on Shiva’s followers is also useless, Daksha! Along with you, there are many others here who disrespect Lord Shiva, such as Bhrigu. They will all become beggars and conduct the sacrifices of the lowest caste. Some will even become Brahminical Rakshasas. Brahma, who also doesn’t understand the greatness of Lord Shiva, will become a hater of Shiva. And you Daksha, in the future you will have a goat head for your sins.”

Shiva them calmed Nandi. He said, “I have not been cursed, Nandi. So your curses on the Brahmins have gone in vain. Please, be free of anger.”

Shiva, Sati, and their followers then returned to Kailash. Daksha, still harboring enmity against Shiva, went back to his abode.

Daksha’s Yagna and Death

Once, Daksha decided to start a huge yagna. He called all the rishis that lived on the Earth and in other regions. He invited all of the devas and devis. He also invited Brahma, Vishnu, and their respective followers. He even invited supernatural beings such as Nagas, Gandharvas, and Vidyadharas. Kings, with their friends, ministers, and armies were also invited. But he did not call Shiva because of his recent enmity with him. A large mansion was built by Twastra for the accommodations. Vishnu presided over the yagna and Brahma was the guide for the Vedic rituals. Sage Dadichi, noticing the absence of Shiva, remarked, “Oh Daksha, why have you not called Shiva. He is crucial to any sacrifice. Go call Sati and Shiva right now.”

Daksha said, “I have invited Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. I have invited Brahma, the creator of the universe. I have called all of you. Who else is there to call. Shiva is an evil-minded man and is unworthy.”

“Your destruction is imminent, Daksha. A sacrifice without Shiva is a non-sacrifice,” said Dadichi. He then left the sacrifice, followed by a couple other followers of Shiva.

Suddenly, Sati showed up at the yagna. She was mad because Shiva and herself hadn’t been invited to her own father’s yagna. But Daksha did not even pay attention to her presence. She became furious and said, “How can all of you forget about Shiva. What is a sacrifice without Shiva’s presence? Do you think he is on par with ordinary devas! How could this yagna be started without Shiva.” Sati then described incidents in which Shiva had shown his greatness. She further described the greatness of Shiva. Daksha then ridiculed Sati and insulted Shiva. In response, Sati insulted her father for his foolishness. She then became silent. She slowly threw her body into the Yogic fire and it turned to ashes and her soul left her body.

The ganas that had accompanied Sati were infuriated and started causing havoc. Some even killed themselves. Sage Bhrigu then created beings which countered the attacks of the ganas. Suddenly, a celestial voice came from the sky. It said, “Oh Daksha, how could you not listen to the warnings of Dadichi? How could you disrespect Sati, the great goddess? This sacrifice will surely be destroyed, along with you. Anyone who helps you will also be destroyed!”

There was great confusion when this voice was heard. The remaining ganas quickly fled to Mount Kailash to inform Shiva. They briefly told Shiva everything that had occurred at the yagna. They then requested, “Please rid us of our fear and deal with these fools.” On hearing their words, Shiva called Narada. Narada then went into detail about what had happened to Sati. Shiva was enraged when he heard what had happened. The plucked a cluster of matted hair from his hair. This hair cluster split into two. From one part, Virabhadra was born. From the second part, Mahakali was born. Virabhadra asked Shiva for his orders. Shiva told him to destroy Daksha’s sacrifice.

So, Mahakali, Virabhadra, the nine Durgas, and hundreds of millions of ganas and Shiva’s followers marched to the site of the yagna. Meanwhile, at the yagna, Daksha and everybody else witnessed several bad omens that indicated destruction. Vishnu then told Daksha that he had been a fool to insult Shiva. He told him about Shiva’s greatness, but promised to protect the yagna.

Suddenly, all the ganas arrived at the yagna. Indra and all the devas rode on their mounts and got ready to fight. A violent battle occurred between the devas and the ganas. In the beginning, the devas were winning, but soon, the ganas started defeating the devas. Many devas fled back to Swarga and only Indra and a couple others remained. Indra and the other devas asked Brihaspati what to do. Instead, he told them about Shiva’s greatness and their mistake. Virabhadra then approached and another battle started. Soon, all the remaining devas had fled. The ganas then entered the sacrificial hall and encountered Vishnu, ready to fight. Virabhadra asked Vishnu why he was supporting Daksha. Vishnu replied, “I know Daksha is unrighteous. But he is a devotee of mine and has sought my refuge, so I must protect him.”

Vishnu then blew his conch. The devas who had fled returned to fight the ganas. Another battle began. Indra fought Nandi, Agni fought Asman, and Kubera fought Kusmandapati. Mahaloka fought with Yama and Chanda fought Nairrata. Munda battled Varuna and Bhringi attacked Vayu. Mahakali and Kshetrapala went around sucking the blood of enemies. Seeing this, Vishnu threw his Sudarshan Chakra at Kshetrapala. But Kshetrapala caught it and Vishnu had to forcefully take it back. A heroic battle then ensued between them. Virabhadra joined Kshetrapala in attacking Vishnu. Virabhadra hit Vishnu really hard with his trident and Vishnu collapsed. But Vishnu stood up again and got ready to throw his chakra at Virabhadra. But, Vishnu’s chakra suddenly stopped moving. He couldn’t throw the chakra. Vishnu started chanting shlokas and the chakra was freed from the stunned state.

Suddenly, a voice came from the sky and told Vishnu, “The Ganas are invincible.” Enlightened, Vishnu left for his abode. Brahma also left for Satyaloka. Virabhadra caught hold of Dharma, Kashyapa Arishtanem, Angiras, Krasava Rishi, and Sage Datta and kicked them all in their heads. He then cut off the noses of Saraswati and Aditi. He approached Bhrigu and threw him on the ground. Manibhadra kicked him and plucked off his moustache. Chanda shattered Pusan’s teeth and Nandi plucked out Bhaga’s eyes.

Virabhadra then spotted Daksha hiding behind the sacrificial altar. He grabbed Daksha by the cheeks. Virabhadra tore off his head and threw it in the fire, ending the life of Daksha.

Resuscitation

After Shiva’s ganas left, the devas and sages went to Brahma to ask for help. When they told him about the death of Daksha, Brahma was really distressed. He didn’t know whst to do. Brahma, the sages, and the devas then went to Vishnu and asked him for a solution. Vishnu told them to fall at the feet of Shiva and apologize. Thus, Vishnu, Brahma, the devas, and the sages went to Mount Kailash. They praised him and asked him to fix everything.

Shiva went to look at the damage and called Virabhadra. He said, “Oh Virabhadra, why did you destroy everything and harm so many people. Anyways, bring me Daksha’s body.” Virabhadra immediately presented it before Lord Shiva. “Where is Daksha’s head,” Lord Shiva asked.

“I threw it in the sacrificial fire,” Virabhadra responded. Shiva said, “Bring me the head of the sacrificial animal, the goat.” Bhrigu quickly brought presented it before Shiva. “Attach this goat head to Daksha’s body. Bhrigu did so and Daksha was revived.

Daksha fell at the feet of Lord Shiva and apologized. Vishnu and Brahma also apologized for taking the side of Daksha. Shiva said that Daksha would be reborn in Chakshusa Manvantara as the son of the Prachetas. Shiva added that Vashishta, Atri, Pulastya, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Bhrigu, and Marichi would also be reborn in Chakshusa Manvantara. Daksha then went back to his abode.

Birth in Second Life

King Prachinabarhi was a great king born in the lineage of King Prithu. He had ten sons collectively called the Prachetas. Prachinabarhi had been told by Brahma to make this Earth filled with more people. Prachinabarhi passed on this job to his ten sons. He told them to pray to Lord Vishnu to complete this task.

The Prachetas performed ten-thousands years of intense penance under the ocean. Finally, Lord Vishnu granted them the boon. When the Prachetas emerged from the ocean, they saw that the Earth was covered with a lot of trees. To fill the Earth with more people, the trees would have to be removed. So they created a lot of wind and fire and started destroying the trees. Chandra deva, the god of vegetation, was very upset when he saw this and approached the Prachetas. He told them about the importance of trees and tried to appease them by giving them a woman named Marisha in marriage. The Prachetas accepted her as their wife. Soon, Marisha gave birth to Daksha.

Daksha and Narada

To fulfill the goal of the Prachetas, Daksha created various living entities. But he wasn’t satisfied. He went to the Aghamarshan, a holy place near the Vindhya Mountains, and started doing penance to please Vishnu. Vishnu appeared in front of Daksha and told him to ask for a boon.

Daksha told Vishnu about his desire. Vishnu said, “Asikni is the daughter of Panchajana. If you marry her, you can have many children to increase the population of the universe.”

As advised by Vishnu, Daksha married Asikni and had 10,000 sons called the Haryashvas. When they grew up, Daksha ordered them to have children. The Haryashvas went to Narayana-saras, a holy place near the mouth of River Sindhu, and became purified. They performed severe austerities to beget children. One day, Narada approached the boys and told them about the path to liberation. Narada knew that they were eligible for liberation, so they shouldn’t become entangled in family life. Narada discouraged them to follow the orders of their father. Encouraged by Narada, the Haryashvas abandoned their father’s wishes and took the path of spirituality.

When Narada told Daksha what had happened, Daksha was frustrated. From his other wife Virini, Daksha produced 10,000 more sons called the Savalasvas. Once again, the Savalasvas went to Narayan-saras to perform penance for their father’s cause. But once again, Narada convinced them to take the path of spirituality. When Daksha heard from others about how his second set of sons had also abandoned materialism and chosen spirituality, he became enraged.

Narada decided to come to Daksha’s palace and try to convince Daksha himself to take the path of spirituality. But instead, when Narada came, Daksha started insulting him. Daksha said, “Narada! I curse you that you will never find a home. You will wander all around the universe, but you will never have a permanent abode or residence.” Instead of cursing Daksha back, Narada silently accepted the curse. Daksha then had 60 daughters from his wife Asikni. All these daughters were given in marriage to various people.

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