Q: The Goddess Sati & Indian Geography

y.r.rani at mail.utexas.edu y.r.rani at mail.utexas.edu
Sat Nov 23 09:36:01 UTC 1996


Query:  Can someone please guide me to the text(s) in which the following
Goddess tale appears:

The story is about Sati, Shiva's wife, who, having become angry at her
father, for snubbing her famous if rather unconventional husband,  by not
inviting Him to a yajna, went to the ceremony herself, and (here's where
I've heard more than one version of the story) either spontaneously burst
into flames and exploded, her body parts flying across India. . . . Or, in
the other version, Sati leapt into the sacrificial fire.  Shiva, on hearing
that his wife had immolated herself, races to the scene, and taking her
charred remains on his shoulders, begins to dance and wreak havoc on the
earth.  The other gods take pity on the earth who is being damaged by
Siva's anger.  If I have the story right, Vishnu, by throwing his discus at
Sati's corpse, piece by piece cuts the body up, the as the parts fly across
India.  Soon there is no body left and Siva stops his dance of destruction.

My questions are:
(1)  In which text(s) can this story be located?  I have looked through
several anthologies of Puranic tales, Hindu goddess books, etc., and have
been unsuccessful at locating the exact scriptural citation.

(2)  I am interested in the last part of this tale, in which Sati's body
parts are flying far and wide across India.  I want to know where they are
suppose to have landed.  I know that one of her eyes fell in Nainital and
created the lake there, her head (I guess minus one eye) fell at Sirkanda
Devi, near Mussoorie . . . I have seen photos of other temples dedicated to
various other parts of her body (even her private parts).  Can someone
please tell me if there is an article or reference that maps the
geographical locations of Sati's discorporate body parts across the South
Asian terrain?  I have heard that there are (were?) 54 such temples or
locations to be found from Sindh to Orissa to Kanyakumari and of course in
the Himalayas.

Thank you,
Yvette C. Rosser
University of Texas at Austin

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