Daksha

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Daksha
God of Ritual skills and People
Daksha two depictions.jpg
Two depictions of Daksha — One with normal human features (left) and another with goat face (right)
Devanagariदक्ष
AffiliationPrajapati, Manasputra
TextsRigveda, Brahmana, Taittiriya Samhita, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Purana
GenderMale
Personal information
Parents
ConsortPrasuti and Asikni[a]
Children

In Hinduism, Daksha (Sanskrit: दक्ष, IAST: Dakṣa, lit. "able, dexterous, or honest one"[1]) is one of the Prajapati, the agents of creation, as well as a divine king-rishi. He is also a Manasputra, mind created son of the creator god Brahma. The artwork shows him as an obese man with a stocky body, protruding belly, and a handsome face or the head of a goat. Scriptures mention two Daksha, born in two different Manvantara (ages).

In the Rigveda, Daksha is an Aditya and is associated with priestly skills. Many Puranic scriptures mention him as the father of many daughters, who became the progenitor of various creatures. According to one legend, Daksha conducted a yajna (fire sacrifice) and didn't invite his youngest daughter Sati and her husband Shiva. He was beheaded by the god Virabhadra for insulting Sati and Shiva, but Daksha was resurrected with the head of a goat. Many Puranas state that Daksha was reborn to Prachetas in another Manvantar.

Etymology and textual background[edit]

The meaning of the word "Daksha" (दक्ष) is "able", "expert", "skillful" or "honest".[2][3] According to the Bhagavata Purana, Daksha got this name as he was talented in producing offerings.[4] The word also means "fit", "energetic" and "fire".[2]

Some of Daksha's earliest appearances are found in the Rigveda. He is mentioned to be an Aditya and specifically associated with the skilled actions of sacrificers.[5] Later in the Brahmanas, he is identified with the creator deity Prajapati.[6][7] Key elements of Daksha including his yajna and ram head, which later became a key feature in the Puranic iconography, are first found in the Taittariya Samhita.[6][8] The Ramayana and the Mahabharata also mention Daksha in brief. Most of the legends related to Daksha are described in the Puranas.[8][9]

Birth and rebirth[edit]

According to most Hindu texts, there were two births of Daksha, one emerging from the creator god Brahma, another who was his reincarnation, born to the brothers Prachetas and Marisha.

The Mahabharata describes Daksha and his wife emerging from the right and left thumbs of creator god Brahma respectively.[10] According to Matsya Purana, Daksha, Dharma, Kamadeva and Agni were born from Brahma's right thumb, chest, heart and eyebrows, respectively. According to many texts including the Bhagavata Purana, Daksha is born twice because he humiliated the god Shiva. He was a Manasputra of Brahma. After the events of Daksha yajna, he was reborn to Prachetas and Marisha.[11]

The Vedic version of Daksha's birth contrasts with other versions. In the Rig Veda, Daksha and Aditi emerge from one another, thus he is both her son and father. The verse "Daksha sprang from Aditi and Aditi from Daksha" is seen by Theosophists as a reference to "the eternal cyclic re-birth of the same divine Essence"[12] and divine wisdom.[13] However the commentator Yaska remarks in the Nirukta that how could this be possible. He suggested that they may have had the same origin ; or, according to the nature of the gods, they may have derived their substance from one another.

Marriages[edit]

A sculpture of goat faced Daksha with his wife.

The names and numbers of Daksha's wives are uncertain due to the difference in the textual sources. According to many scriptures, Daksha married Prasuti in his first birth and Asikni in his second birth.[14]

Prasuti is described to be the daughter of the patriarch Svayambhuva Manu and his wife, Shatarupa. Some texts suggest that she originated from the left thumb of Brahma.[7] Daksha and Prasuti had 16, 24 or 60 daughters.[15][16]

Asikni, also referred to as Panchajani and Virani, is described to be the daughter of another Prajapati named Virana or Panchajana. Legends narrate that Daksha helped the creation using his mind, but when he found out that it did not help increase the number of species. He decided to reproduce offerings through the union of the male and female and thus, went to the Vindhyas to gain a wife. After Daksha performed a rigorous penance, the god Vishnu appeared and advised him to marry Asikni.[17][18]

Children[edit]

Daughters[edit]

The number of Daksha's daughters varies from one scripture to another. With Prasuti, Daksha had 16 - 60 daughters (24 is found in most texts). All of Prasuti's daughters represent virtues of mind and body.[19] They were married to different deities.[20]

Another listing is found in many texts including the Mahabharata (Harivamsa), the Devi Bhagavata Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana and the Vishnu Purana. According to this version, Daksha had 60 daughters with Asikni — who were the progenitors of various species.

According to Mahabharata, these daughters are announced Puttrikas since all his thousand sons became the disciples of Narada, who taught them the philosophy of Sankhya (for which they abstained themselves from reproduction). This meant that the sons of these daughters would be the kings of Daksha's territory.

After losing Tara, Chandra's lust for union grew. To satisfy his lust, he married twenty-seven daughter of Daksha, who are the twenty-seven Nakshatras or Constellations on the Moon's orbit.

Of his 27 wives, Chandra fell in love with his chief wife, Rohini. He spent most of his time with her. This enraged the other wives of Chandra and they complained this to their father. Daksha realised Chandra's intentions and cursed him to lose his glory. Chandra felt guilty of his act and asked for forgiveness. Shiva, later partially restored Chandra's glory.[21]

One of the daughters of Daksha (often said to be the youngest) was Sati (Dakshayani), who had always wished to marry Shiva. Daksha forbade it, but later reluctantly allowed her and she married Shiva. She found in Shiva a doting and loving husband.

Daksha Yajna[edit]

Daksha insults Shiva while arguing with Sati.

Daksha Yagna was an important turning point in the creation and development of sects in Hinduism. It is the story behind the 'Stala Purana' (Origin story of Temples) of Shakti Peethas. There are 51 (some say 108) Shakti Peethas shrines all over South Asia. The story replaced Goddess Sati by Shree Parvati as Shiva's consort and led to the story of Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya.

Once, Daksha organised the Brihaspatistava Yajna and intentionally avoided Shiva and Sati. Even though discouraged by Shiva, who told her not to go to a ceremony performed by Daksha where she and her husband were not invited, the parental bond made Sati ignore social etiquette and her husband's wishes. Sati went to the ceremony alone. She was snubbed by Daksha and insulted by him in front of the guests. Sati, unable to bear further insult, ran into the Sacrificial fire and immolated herself. Some other legends say that she invoked Yogic flames & immersing herself in it, burnt to death. Shiva, upon learning about the terrible incident, in his wrath invoked Virabhadra and Bhadrakali by plucking a lock of hair and thrashing it on the ground. Virabhadra and the Bhoota ganas marched south and destroyed all the premises. Daksha was decapitated, and the Yagna shaala was devastated during the rampage. Bhrigu, the chief priest of the Yajna, invoked the Ribhus to fight the Ganas, but the former was tied to a pillar & his beard was forcibly plucked off. According to Horace Hayman Wilson, "Vahni's hands were cut, Bhaga's eyes were plucked out, Pusha had broken teeth, Yama's mace was broken, Goddesses' noses were cut, Soma was pummelled, while Yajneshwara, the Indra of Swayambhuva Manvantara, tried to escape in the form of a deer, but was decapitated. Daksha also tried to escape, but Virabhadra held him & cut off his head (some legends say that he plucked off Daksha's head with his own hands). The head was thrown to the fire, & Virabhadra returned to Kailasa, along with his hordes.

Later, Shiva's anger cooled down, & he forgave Daksha & brought him back to life, but with a goat's head. Bhrigu & the others were restored their respective parts, which they lost. With Vishnu as the chief priest, Daksha offered a share of the oblations to Shiva, & the sacrifice was successfully completed.

Vishnu attempted to pacify Shiva, who was in deep grief upon seeing the half-burned corpse of his beloved wife. However, Shiva, unable to part with Sati, carried her corpse on his shoulder and wandered about the world. Vishnu restored calm and rid of Shiva's attachment by severing Sati's body into multiple pieces with his divine discus, the Sudarshan Chakra. Sati's severed body parts fell in various places where Shiva had traveled. The places where Sati Devi's body parts fell came to be known as Shakti Peethas.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary
  2. ^ a b Gandhi, Maneka (1993). The Penguin Book of Hindu Names. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-012841-3.
  3. ^ Monier-Williams, Sir Monier; Leumann, Ernst; Cappeller, Carl (1899). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages. Motilal Banarsidass Publishing House. ISBN 978-81-208-3105-6.
  4. ^ Prabhupada, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (31 December 1975). Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sixth Canto: Prescribed Duties for Mankind. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. ISBN 978-91-7149-639-3.
  5. ^ Stephanie Jamison (2015). The Rigveda –– Earliest Religious Poetry of India. Oxford University Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0190633394.
  6. ^ a b Dowson, John (1870). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History, and Literature.
  7. ^ a b Coulter, Charles Russell; Turner, Patricia (4 July 2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-96390-3.
  8. ^ a b Klostermaier, Klaus K. (1 October 2014). Hinduism: A Short History. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-78074-680-7.
  9. ^ Coulter, Charles Russell; Turner, Patricia (4 July 2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-96390-3.
  10. ^ Coulter, Charles Russell; Turner, Patricia (4 July 2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-96390-3.
  11. ^ Prabhupada, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (31 December 1974). Srimad-Bhagavatam, Fourth Canto: The Creation of the Fourth Order. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. ISBN 978-91-7149-637-9.
  12. ^ The Secret Doctrine 2:247n
  13. ^ "Adi-Ag: Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary". Theosociety.org.
  14. ^ Purāṇam. All-India Kasiraja Trust. 2001.
  15. ^ Vishnu Purana, Vol-I, H.H. Willson. Book-I,Ch-#7, Page 109
  16. ^ Wilkins, W.J. (2003). Hindu Mythology. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld (P) Limited. p. 373. ISBN 81-246-0234-4.
  17. ^ the Horse-sacrifice of the Prajapati Daksha The Mahabharata translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli (1883–1896), Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: Section CCLXXXIV. p. 317. “I am known by the name of Virabhadra’’ and I have sprung from the wrath of Rudra. This lady (who is my companion), and who is called Bhadrakali, hath sprung from the wrath of the goddess.”
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ Chawla, Janet (2006). Birth and Birthgivers: The Power Behind the Shame. Har-Anand Publications. ISBN 978-81-241-0938-0.
  20. ^ Sen, Ramendra Kumar (1966). Aesthetic Enjoyment; Its Background in Philosophy and Medicine. University of Calcutta.
  21. ^ Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. pp. 393–394. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ see the section § Marriage for further details

External links[edit]