Shakti Peethas: centres of Maa Adishakti’s divinity

Maa Adishakti is the force from whom the Trimurtis draw their power. At the beginning of creation when Brahma Dev need energy to create the universe, Mahadev separated Devi Shakti from Himself thus helping Brahma to complete His creation. Maa then vowed that she would be born in human form and unite with Mahadev. Prajapati Daksh, manasputra of Brahma Dev, then did penance to get Maa Adishakti as his daughter. His daughter Sati was Maa Adishakti Herself whose time to unite with Shiva was at hand. However, Daksh had become arrogant and blinded by hatred for Mahadev which was an outcome of his arrogance. Much against his wishes Sati and Shiva were married.

When Daksh organised a Yagna, he did not invite his son-in-law Mahadev. However, taken in by paternal affection Devi Sati decided to attend the Yagna against the wishes of Mahadev. There, unable to bear the insult meted out to Her husband by Her father, Devi Sati immolated Herself. Unable to bear the loss, Mahadev ordered Veer Bhadra to destroy everything and kill Daksh. Lord Shiva then visited Daksh’s home to carry away the body of His wife. He was so grief stricken that he wandered around with Sati’s body. Recognising that this wasn’t good for the universe, Lord Vishnu used His sudarshan chakra which cut the body of Sati into several pieces. The places where the parts of Her body fell were enshrined as Shakti Peethas by Mahadev and a Kala Bhairava was assigned the task of protecting each temple. There are 51 Shakti Peethas besides the 4 Adi Shakti Peethas which are located all over Aryavarta (Indian subcontinent). Each Peetha has a presiding deity and a corresponding Bhairava guarding the place.

1) Amarnath and Shri Parvat in Ladakh: The Devi here is known as Mahamaya who is guarded by Trisandyeshwar. These are the places where the throat and anklets of Devi Sati fell

2) Attahas: This village in Birbhum district of West Bengal is where the lips of the Goddess fell. The shrine guarded by the Bhairava Vishvesh is where Devi is known as Phullara

3) Bahula near Katwar, West Bengal: is where the left arm fell. Here Devi Bahula is the presiding deity and Bhiruk is the guardian Bhairava

4) Bakreshwar, Birbhum: Vakranath guard the temple of Devi Mahishmardini here. The portion between eyebrows fell at this place

5) Bhairavparvat, Ujjaini: Devi is worshipped as Avanti where Sati’s elbow fell. The guardian Bhairava is named Lambkarna

6) Bhabanipur: is located in Bangladesh where the left anklet fell. The Bhairava here is known as Vaman and the presiding deity is Devi Aparna

7) Chhinamastika: Devi Chhinamastika temple, the site where Sati’s feet fell, is located at Chintpurni in Una district of Himachal Pradesh. Rudra Mahadev guards this site

8) Gandaki, Nepal: Chakrapani guards the temple of Devi Gandaki Chandi. This is the site where her temple fell when Shri Vishnu dismembered the body of Devi Sati

9) Nasik: Here her chin fell and the presiding deity was named Bhramari Devi with Vikritaksh being the corresponding Bhairava

10) Hinglaj: in Pakistan houses the temple of Kottari Devi, also known as Hinglaj Mata (body-part- Bramharandhra meaning part of the head), where Bhimochan is the Bhairava

11) Jaintia Hills District, Meghalaya: is home to Adishakti in the form of Devi Jayanti (body part- left thigh). Bhairava is known as Kramadishwar

12) Jessoreswari, Bangladesh: This temple lies in Ishwaripur which was the erstwhile capital of Maharaja Pratapaditya. Devi is Jashoreshwari (palms of hands and soles of feet fell here) and Bhairava is Chanda

13) Jwalaji, Kangra: is one of the most popular Shakti Peethas in Himachal Pradesh. Unmatta Bhairav is the guardian Bhairava where Devi is known as Ambika and Her tongue fell

14) Kalipeeth, Kalighat: in Kolkata is one among the several well known Devi shrines. Devi is Kalika (body part- right toes) and corresponding Bhairava is Nakuleshwar

15) Kalmadhav: This temple in Madhya Pradesh is home to Devi Kali (part- left buttock) and Bhairava Asitang

16) Kamgiri, Assam: Temple of Kamakhya Devi where Umanand is the guardian Bhairava (part- genitals)

17) Kankalitala: Devi is Devgarbha (part- pelvis) and her consort Bhairava is Ruru

18) Kankyakumari: Sarvani Devi and Bhairava Nimish are the deities in the Bhagavathi temple in Kanyakumari where Devi Sati’s back fell

19) Karanat, Kangra: in Himachal Pradesh (part- both ears) houses Devi Jayadurga and Bhairava as Abhiru

20) Kireet, Murshidabad: where Her crown fell is located the temple of Devi Vimla guarded by Bhairava Sanwart

21) Ratnavali, Hooghly: where Her right shoulder fell is located the temple of Devi Kumari guarded by Bhairava Shiva

22) Jalpaiguri and Amta: where Her left leg and part of left knee fell is located the temple of Devi Bhraamari guarded by Bhairava Ambar

23) Manas, Tibet: where Her right hand fell is located the temple of Devi Dakshayani guarded by Bhairava Amar

24) Ajmer: where Her wrists fell is located the temple of Devi Gayatri (also known as Chamunda Mata Mandir) guarded by Bhairava Sarvanand

25) Mithila, Indo-Nepal border: on the Nepal side where Her left shoulder fell is located the temple of Devi Uma guarded by Bhairava Mahodar

26) Nainativu, Sri Lanka: where Her anklets fell is located the temple of Devi Indrakshi (Bhuvaneshwari) guarded by Bhairava Rakshaseshwar

27) Nepal: near the famous Pashupatinath Temple, where both Her knees fell is located the temple of Devi Mahashira guarded by Bhairava Kapali

28) Chandranath hill, Chittagong: in Bangladesh where Her right arm fell is located the temple of Devi Bhawani guarded by Bhairava Chandrashekar

29) Lohaghat, Uttarakhand: where Her lower teeth fell is located the temple of Devi Varahi guarded by Bhairava Maharudra

30) Prabhas, Gujarat: where Her stomach fell is located the temple of Devi Chandrabhaga guarded by Bhairava Vakratund

31) Devprayag, Uttar Pradesh: where Her finger fell is located the temple of Devi Lalita guarded by Bhairava Bhava

32) Kurukshetra, Haryana: where Her ankle fell is located the temple of Devi Savitri (Bhadrakali) guarded by Bhairava Sthanu

33) Maihar, Madhya Pradesh: where Her right breast fell is located the temple of Devi Shivani guarded by Bhairava Chanda

34) Sainthia: where Her necklace fell is located the temple of Devi Nandini guarded by Bhairava Nandikeshwar

35) Rajamundry, Andhra Pradesh: where Her cheeks fell is located the temple of Devi Rakini/Vishweshwari guarded by Bhairava Vatsnabh/Dandpani

36) Naina Devi temple, Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh: where Her eyes fell is located the temple of Devi Mahishmardini guarded by Bhairava Krodhish

37) Shondesh, Madhya Pradesh: where Her right buttock fell is located the temple of Devi Narmada guarded by Bhairava Bhadrasen

38) Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh: where Her right anklet fell is located the temple of Devi Shrisundari guarded by Bhairava Sundaranand

39) Shri Shail, Sylhet, Bangladesh: where Her neck fell is located the temple of Devi Mahalaxmi guarded by Bhairava Sambaranand

40) Suchindram, Tamil Nadu: where Her upper teeth fell is located the temple of Devi Narayani guarded by Bhairava Sanhar

41) Shikarpur, Bangladesh: where Her nose fell is located the temple of Devi Sugandha guarded by Bhairava Tryambak

42) Udaipur, Tripura: where Her right leg fell is located the temple of Devi Tripurasundari guarded by Bhairava Tripuresh

43) Ujaani, West Bengal: where Her right wrist fell is located the temple of Devi Mangal Chandika guarded by Bhairava Kapilambar

44) Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi: where Her earring fell is located the temple of Devi Manikarni/Vishalakshi guarded by Bhairava Kalbhairav

45) Vibhash, West Bengal: where Her left ankle fell is located the temple of Devi Kapalini guarded by Bhairava Sarvanand

46) Viratnagar, Rajasthan: where Her left toes fell is located the temple of Devi Ambika guarded by Bhairava Amriteshwar

47) Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh: where Her ringlets of hair fell is located the temple of Devi Uma guarded by Bhairava Bhutesh

48) Jalandhar, Punjab: where Her left breast fell is located the temple of Devi Tripurmalini guarded by Bhairava Bhishan

49) Baidyanath Dham, Jharkhand: where Her heart fell is located the temple of Devi Jaya Durga guarded by Bhairava Baidyanath

50) Jajpur, Odisha: where Her navel fell is located the temple of Devi Biraja

51) Kshirgram, West Bengal: where Her great toe fell is located the temple of Devi Jogadya guarded by Bhairava Ksheer Kantak

52) Pithapuram, Andhra Pradesh: where Her part of the hip fell is located the temple of Devi Purohotika guarded by Bhairava

53) Ambaji, Gujarat: where She is worshipped as Devi Amba and is guarded by Batuk Bhairav

54) Jwaladevi, Uttar Pradesh: where Her tongue fell is located the temple of Jwala Devi guarded by Bhairava Anmata

55) Dantewada, Chhatisgarh: where Her tooth fell is located the temple of Danteshwari Devi who is guarded by Kapalbhairav

The four Adi Shaktipeethas are Bimala Devi within Jagannath temple complex in Puri, Tara Tarini Devi temple in Behrampur, Kamakhya Devi Temple in Guwahati and Dakshina Kalika temple in Kolkata. While the Brahmanda Purana mentions 64 Shaktipeethas of Devi Parvati, Adi Shankara’s composition lists 18 Maha Shaktipeethas. There may be slight variations with regards to the modern locations of these Peethas. However, the most important thing to remember here is that whatever be the number these places are not just centres of pilgrimages but locales where humans are expected to gain spiritual ascendance in their ultimate goal of ‘Mukti’. The aim of going on a pilgrimage shouldn’t just be restricted to seeking the blessings and gaining materialistically. In fact, one should be able to transcend the materialistic world and take baby steps towards practising ‘detached attachment’. After all the story of Devi Sati was also about transcending the human body and identifying the divinity within.