Q: The Goddess Sati & Indian Geography

Carlos Lopez clopez at husc.harvard.edu
Sat Nov 23 15:35:08 UTC 1996

At 09:43 AM 11/23/96 GMT, you wrote:
>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.

This story is found in several puraanas: 
        vaamana p. 25.1 and following
        ziva zatarudra 33.1 -
        ziva vaayaviiya 1.18.4-
        vaamana p 6.25,-
        ziva p 2.2 and following (daksha's sacrifice)
        kaalikaa p  2-42
>(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.

There a few essays in "The Divine Consort.  Radha and the Goddessess of
Inida" which address the issue of Sati's dismemberment and the associations
of places where parts of her body fell with pithas.

Also,  David Kinsley's "The Hindu Goddess, Visions of the Divine Feminine
inthe Hindu Religious Tradition" has a chapter entitled 'The Goddess and
Sacred Geography.'

These are few places to start.

Good luck

Carlos Lopez
Dept. of Sanskrit and Indian Studies
Harvard University

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