4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :
News reached Lord Siva. He could have opened his third eye and burnt everybody if he wanted, but he had something else in his mind.
He pulled a hair from his head and struck it on the ground. A fierce giant rose up.
“Order, master!” said the giant.
“Go and destroy the yajna of Daksha,” said Siva.
With the fierce retinue of Rudra, this giant called Virabhadra rushed to the sacrificial area of Daksha where all were seated, and when this fierce onrush of militant demoniacal forces entered the yajna, the ritviks, the priests performing the yajna, were frightened. They immediately invoked a counterforce from the fire, which rose up by the millions and attacked Rudra’s retinue. There was a tussle between the two forces, but suddenly Virabhadra overcame all the opposition and severed the head of Daksha.
Rudra came to know all this. He was mad with rage. He ran, hugging the body of Sati, and rolled all over like a crazy person, as if he was dancing the final tandava of destruction before him. The whole world was terrified because nobody knew what he was going to do. He would not stand in one place. He ran from place to place—over the whole creation, as it were—holding Sati’s body, looking as if he was inebriated and had lost his senses. He was conscious only of the dead body of his Sati, and was moving fiercely like a whirlwind, like a tornado, like a tempest.
All the gods were frightened. They went to Lord Vishnu and said, “Please do something. Everything is in danger. He is not going to leave her body; and what he will do finally, nobody knows.”
Then Sri Vishnu—Narayana—released his sudarshana chakra, which sliced Sati’s body into little pieces; and because of the ravaging movement of Siva, the pieces were scattered and fell in seven different places. It is believed that all the spots where parts of Sati’s body fell are shakti sthalas, and even today they are worshipped in various parts of India.
To be continued ...