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Ashtadasa Shakti Peethas | List of 18 Shaktipeeth

The Ashtadasa Shakti Peethas are sacred temples significant in Hinduism, dedicated to the varied forms of the divine feminine, Adi Shakti. Distinct Hindu scriptures, such as the revered Srimad Devi Bhagavatam, document differing quantities of these temples, from 51 up to 108. Nonetheless, ancient Hindu texts predominantly recognise 18 as principal Shakti Peethas. Each of these 18 has a deep-rooted association with numerous Hindu mythologies, particularly the narrative surrounding the goddess Sati (also known as Dakshayani) and Lord Shiva.

Devotees from around the world visit these holy spots not only to offer prayers and seek divine blessings but also to immerse themselves in the celestial feminine energy that each Peetha channelizes. Far from being mere sites for prayers, these Peethas are cultural and spiritual anchors, home to a treasure trove of traditions and myths handed down through the ages and generations.

The esteemed Brahmanda Purana, a monumental text of Hinduism, mentions 64 unique locations intimately connected with the Goddess Parvati, referred to as the Shakti Peethas. These hallowed Ashtadasa Shakti Peethas can be found scattered across several countries, including India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, certain regions of Southern Tibet in China, and Pakistan, underlining their sacredness and significance in the international context of Hinduism.

Adi Shankara, a renowned Hindu philosopher from the 9th Century, contributed to the corpus of Hindu literature with a text that lists these divine shrines – the Shakti Pitha Stotram. It stands as a testament to the important and enlightening role of Adi Shankara in enhancing our understanding of Shakti Peethas.

Yet another document, the Mahapithapurana, written between 1690 and 1720 CE, records 52 such revered locations. Among these, most notably, 23 are found within the Bengal region, including 14 in West Bengal, India, 1 in Baster (Chhattisgarh), and 7 in present-day Bangladesh. These locations hold significant divine charm to Parvati Devi and uphold key importance in Hinduism.

Ashtadasa Shakti Peethas History:

The legend begins with a powerful king Daksha Prajapati, a son of Sri Brahma, who had 27 daughters, among them was Sati Devi. Sati Devi was wedded to Lord Shiva. In an incident, when Daksha entered a ceremonial ritual or 'yaga' performed by Agni, every attendant stood up in reverence, barring Lord Shiva. This perceived disregard from Shiva was taken as an insult by Daksha. Consequently, when Daksha conducted his own yaga, he intentionally excluded his daughter, Sati, and her husband, Lord Shiva. Despite feeling hurt by this act and against Lord Shiva's counsel, Sati decided to attend the yaga.

At the yaga, Sati was neglected and felt disrespected by the actions of her kin. When Daksha began to insult Lord Shiva, Sati, unable to bear it any longer, sacrificed herself in the ceremonial fire by creating it from earth with her right foot's thumb. Upon learning this, Lord Shiva, in his anguish, created Sri Veerabhadra from a lock of his hair, who swiftly retaliated by beheading Daksha at the yaga. Lord Shiva, cradling Sati's body, began a dance of destruction called Tandava Nritya. To cease the chaos, Lord Vishnu used his Sudarshan Chakra to dismember Sati's body. These fragments fell across India and Sri Lanka, and wherever they landed, the places became known as Shakti Peethas. 18 such places are referred to as Ashta (8) Dasa (10) Shaktipeethas.

The Essential 18 Shakti Peeths:

The 18 Shakti Peethas as Enumerated in Adi Shankaracharya's Ashtadasa Shakti Peeth Stotram:

1) Trincomalee, also known as Trincoli in Sri Lanka. The body part that fell here was the Groin. This place is now the home to the Shakti - Shankari Devi, at the Koneswaram Temple.

2) Kanchi in Tamil Nadu, Body part fallen – Navel, Name of the Shakti – Goddess Kamakshi, Kamakshi Kamakshi Amman Temple.

3) Pradyumna in Kolkata, West Bengal, Body part has fallen – Stomach, Name of the Shakti – Sri Srunkhala Devi.

4) Mysore in Karnataka, Body part fallen – Hair, Name of the Sakti – Sri Chamundeshwari Devi, Chamundeshwari Temple.

5) Alampur in Andhra Pradesh, Body part fallen – Upper teeth part of the body fallen, Name of the Sakti – Sri Jogulamba Devi.

6) Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Body part fallen – Neck part, Name of the Sakti – Bhramaramba Devi, Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Temple.

7) Kolhapur in Maharastra, Body part fallen – Left Eye, Name of the Shakti – Mahalakshmi Devi, Mahalakshmi Temple.

8) Nanded in Maharastra, Body part fallen – Back, Name of the Shakti – Eka Veerika Devi or Ekavenika Devi, Mahur Renuka Devi Temple.

9) Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Body part fallen – Elbow, Name of the Shakti – Mahakali Devi, Ujjain Mahakali Temple.

10) Pithapuram in Andhra Pradesh, Body part fallen – Left hand, Name of the Shakti – Puruhutika Devi, Kukkuteswara Swamy Temple

11) Jajpur in Odisha / Orissa, Body part has fallen – Naval (Navi), Name of the Shakti – Girija Devi / Biraja Devi, Biraja Temple

Ashtadasa Shakti Peethas

12) Draksharamam in Andhra Pradesh, Body part fallen – Navel, Name of the Shakti – Manikyamba Devi, Kumararama Bhimeswara Temple.

13) Guwahati in Assam, Body part fallen – Yoni, Name of the Shakti – Kamarupa Devi, Kamakhya Temple.

14) Prayaga in Uttar Pradesh, Body part fallen – Fingers, Name of the Shakti – Madhaveswari Devi or Alopi Devi Temple.

15) Jwala in Himachal Pradesh, Body part fallen – Mouth, Name of the Shakti – Jwalamukhi, Jwalamukhi Devi Temple

16) Gaya in Bihar, Body part fallen – Breast, Name of the Shakti – Sarvamangala Devi, Mangla Gauri Temple

17) Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Body part fallen – Earrings/Third Eye/Throat/Face (Disputed), Name of the Shakti – Kasi Vishalakshi Devi.

18) Srinagar in Kashmir, Body part has fallen – Right Hand, Name of the Shakti – Saraswathi Devi.

Ashtadasha Shakti Peethas Stotram with Meaning:

Lankayam Shankari devi, Kamakshi Kanchika pure |
Pradyumne Shrinkhala Devi, Chamunda Krouncha pattane ॥

Goddess Shankari in Sri Lanka, Kamakshi in Kanchipuram,
Goddess Shrinkhala in Pradyumna and Chamunda in Mysore

Alampure Jogulamba, Sri shaile Bhramarambika |
Kolha pure Maha lakshmi, Mahurye Ekaveerika ॥

Goddess Jogulamba in Alampur, Goddess Brhamarabika in Sri Shailam,
Goddess Maha Lakshmi in Kolhapur and Goddess Eka Veera in Mahur

Ujjainyam Maha kali, Peethikayam Puruhutika |
Odhyane Girija devi, Manikya Daksha vatike ॥

Goddess Maha Kali in Ujjain Purhuthika in Peethika,
Goddess Girija in Odhyana and goddess Manikya in the house of Daksha,

Hari kshetre Kama rupi, Prayage Madhaveshwari |
Jwalayam Vishnavi devi, Gaya Mangalya gourika ॥

Varanasyam Vishalakshi, Kashmire tu Saraswati |
Ashtadasha Shakti peethani, Yoginamapi durlabham ॥

Goddess Kama Rupi in the temple of Vishnu, Goddess Madhevaswari in Allahabad,
The flame-giving Goddess in Jwala muki and Mangala Gouri in Gaya.

Sayamkale pathennityam, Sarva shatri vinashanam |
Sarva roga haram divyam, Sarva sampatkaram shubham ॥

Goddess Visalakshi in Varanasi, Goddess Saraswathi in Kashmir,
Are the 18 houses of Shakthi, which are rare even to devas.

If read in the evening daily, it leads to the killing of all enemies,
And also cure all diseases and getting of all types of wealth.

Among these, the Shakti Peethas in Kamkhya, Gaya and Ujjain are considered the most sacred, because they symbolize the three most important aspects of the mother goddess namely:
Creation – Kamarupa Devi
Food – Sarvamangala Devi / Mangalagauri
Annihilation – Mahakali Devi

When carefully observed, we can see that they are in a perfectly straight line from Kamakhya to Ujjain via Gaya, symbolizing that each creation of this universe will one day be destroyed without fail. With Kanchi Kamakshi, Madurai Meenakshi and Kashi Vishalakshi, we have the most powerful Shat Sakthi Peethams.

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