Goddess Kamakhya – A Radio Feature

Kamakhya temple, one of the famous pilgrimage sites of Hindus,is situated on top oftheNilachal mountain ranges in Guwahati.This holy shrine is also known as Kamagiri.This venerated Shakti peetha is associated with Lord Shiva and DakshaYajnaorMaa Sati.





Kamakhya, as the name goes, means the granter of all desires. An ancient work named KalikaPurana, defines Kamakhya, the wife of lord Shiva and the daughter of Puranic god king Dakshaas the yielder of all desires and the bestower of fulfillment.

As per KalikaPurana, Daksha was unhappy that his daughter selected lord Shiva to be her husband and performed a Yajna for all deities.But he did not invite lord Shiva to that Yajna.  As a result of that, infuriated Sati threw herself onto fire to reborn as goddess Parvati. After knowing about the sacrifice of his wife in grief and rage lord Shiva lifted Sati’s lifeless body over his shoulder and started doing the dance of cosmic destruction ,which is also nown as RudraTandava. Lord Shiva vowed not to stop his Tandava until the body of Sati decomposed completely.Seeing the rage of Lord Shiva the other gods out of worry went to Vishnu to pacify Lord Shiva.Thus, Vishnu sent his discus Sudarshana to destroy the corpse of sati. Pieces of Sati’s body scattered around different parts of the universe until lord Shiva was left without even a part of the body to carry.

It will be important to mention here that this legend had given rise to the practice of Sati,the practice of sacrificing wife’s body on the pyre of her husband.

According to KalikaPurana during RudraTandava the reproductive organ or the Yoni of Sati is said to have fallen atop theNilachal mountain rangesandthe Kamakhya temple was said have been constructed on the very spot.

Kamakhya as mentioned in the KalikaPurana is the most important goddess of Tantric worship, and is referred to be Mahamaya, the “great goddess of illusion”, who takes on many forms depending on her mood. Kamakhyamata is also called Kameshwari or the beloved goddess of desire and considered to be a form of Maha Tripura Sundari, also called Shodashi. She is identified as Kali in the KalikaPurana, Yoginitantra and KamakhyaTantra.

Although, there is not any picture of Sati in the temple premises, inside a dark cave of the premises, there lies a sculptured image of Yoni of the Goddess as an object of worshipping, which is kept moist by a natural water fall all the time.

Goddess Kamakhyais pictured as a young goddess of 16 years old, with twelve arms and six heads of different colours, representing power is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, who iselegantly dressed in a red saree with beautiful jewellery along with red flowers mostly hibiscus.

She holds in each of ten hands a lotus, sword trident, discus, bell,bow, arrows, club or scepter, goad, and shield. In one of her remaining two hands she holds a bowl, which is made either of gold or a skull.

She is seated upon a lotus, which emerges from the navel of Lord Shiva who lies atop a lion.To each side of her sit Brahma and Vishnu, who are also seated upon two different lotus as well.

There is another anecdote associated withKamakhyatemple.Narakasura, a legendary Asura motivated by his evil desires wanted to marry goddess Kamakhya.With that intention when he proposed goddess Kamakhya,the goddess to save herself from the asura put a condition to him stating if he could build a temple for her atop the Nilachal hills along with a staircase from bottom of the Nilachal hills to the temple within one night before dawn, then she would definitely marry him.Narakasura took goddess’ word as a challenge and tried his best to build the staircase as stated by goddess Kamakhya within the stipulated time.When the goddess Kamakhyagot thehint  thatNarakasura was about to complete his task before dawn,she got panicky and made a rooster crow to give the impression of dawn to Narakasura before real dawn.Duped by the trick he thought it was fatal to continue building the staircase after dawn and he left it half way through and chased the rooster and killed it later.

Now that incomplete staircase is known as Mekhelaujua Path.

Although the origin of the temple is not clearly known to anyone at the present time is said that the temple is an ancient temple and was rebuilt in 1665 after being destroyed during some communal disturbance.

Being the centre for Tantra worshipping and sacrificing animals in terms of obtaining power and might, this temple attracts thousands of devotees from around the world in an annual festival,popularlyknown as AmbubachiMela.Not only during Ambubachimela but every morning devotees are seen flocking to the temple premises with goats, buffaloes, pigeon etc. in terms of offering them to Sati through sacrifice or by setting them free from constraints after chanting and offering prayers to the goddess.

Durga Puja and Manasha Puja are also celebrated inside Kamakhya Temple premises, attracting lacs of visitors every year.

Besides all these, there are hundreds of souvenir and Prasad shops spread around its premises, which paved a way for the vendors to run their respective families and earn their living throughout the year.

Umashree is a student of Mass Communication & Journalism in IDOL, Guwahati University.

She enjoys writing and field journalism. Recently she was interviewed by UNESCO for the post of an intern.