The story of the Bleeding Goddess
Kamakhaya Temple is one of the oldest among the 51 Shakti-Peeths. It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya.
Like any other pilgrim destination, Kamakhaya too has many interesting stories of origin. My favourite, Khamakhaya was built where the ‘Yoni-Mudra’ [vagina] of Goddess Sati fell! As per legends, when Sati was insulted by Daksha [Sati’s father] during a religious ceremony, she couldn’t bear the pain and jumped into the ceremonial fire. When Shiva came to know about Sati’s death, he created havoc with his Tandav [dance of destruction] holding on to his beloved’s mortal remains. Shiva was unstoppable in his grief! Lord Vishnu stepped in to pacify Shiva, and cut the body of Sati with his Sudarshana Chakra. Pieces of her body fell at 51 different places, each known as a Shakti Peeth.
According to popular belief, every year in the month of June, the Goddess mensurates, when Brahmaputra river around the temple turns red in colour.
By Force or By Faith
I usually don’t go to temples but when I do it is usually to admire the architecture, relish the `Prasad` [offering of sweets/fruits] and for the stories & pictures. Recently, I visited Kamakhya Temple for the third time in 5 years. Every time I visit, the practices there repulse me more – separate lines for people who can pay extra to get a front row meeting with God, shops indirectly forcing you to buy stuff from them in return for petty services, priests threatening you with ill luck for donations.
Such drama, executed with impeccable planning & precision! An iota of faith is all you need to get caught up in this web of deceit.
Goddess is sleeping!
The first time I visited Kamakhaya, it was around late noon and the gates were closed. The Goddess was resting, but a panda [priest] promised me to wake Her up & get Her blessings for Rs.500. I wouldn’t have to stand in line and wait for the turn or even move from where I was standing other than shelling out Rs.500. No points in guessing what i did!
I left without seeing the Goddess. I offered my prayers outside her abode, which were later fulfilled 🙂
An audience with Her
The second time at Khamakhaya, I returned to thank Her. Walking past the usual queues & pandas, I chanced upon an adjoining temple from where I could see Her through the iron grills. I was elated to see Her and pray to Her. I couldn’t understand the need to be inside the dark hall or the sense of accomplishment in touching the idol! Will She like me more if I touched her?
One Last Time at Kamakhaya Temple
I visited Kamakhaya two weeks back. A friend wanted to go and I tagged along. This time I saw animals being prepared for ritual sacrifices. People being extorted by pandas. A priest almost ignored us and very reluctantly put tika [vermilon on forehead] as we didn’t donate any money to the temple fund.
Every visit to Khamakhaya is a new experience. Over the years, I have become more tolerant and patient.
Religion sells more than anything in India. Fear of the unexplainable, forces us mortals to follow rules that are senseless to sane minds. I wouldn’t call myself an atheist but I am not a devotee either. I lost faith early in my childhood days.
But with age, I have realised that the acceptance of his existence gives us hope & peace. So I believe in God, but despise the rituals & practices in It’s name! Do we really need messengers to communicate with such a divine & supernatural force?