Behind every yoga posture (asana), a story can be found! Behind the iconic Warrior sequence, there is a colorful story of passions. This particular story is a love story, a tragedy, a drama and a cautionary tale with elements of attachment, shame, violence, sadness, compassion and renunciation.
Are you ready for this tale!? Read On. . .
Once upon a long time ago, lived a great king - Daksha, a nobly born son of Brahma. Daksha was very rich and powerful, blessed with 100 beautiful daughters, and he served as the high priest to the ASURAS (Gods). Out of his 100 beautiful daughters, his favorite was the youngest- Sati, who happened to be an incarnation of Parvati. As one would suppose, an incarnation of Parvati would be drawn to Shiva, and so it was Sati was helplessly in love with Shiva, and was determined to marry him. Daksha disliked Shiva intensely, and was determined that this unorthodox yogi, god of death, destruction and transformation, who hung around graveyards smoking bhang, and keeping company with goblins, ghouls and other unmentionables, wearing tattered skins and nappy dreadlocks - would never wed his daughter. Love won out however, and Lord Shiva and Sati wed and lived happily in the pleasure city Shiva created for them on Mt. Kailash.
Shortly after Sati had left home to her new domicile, Daksha, being the high priest to the gods organized a HUGE yagna or ritual sacrifice. Ritual celebrations in themselves are not a bad thing, but this one was for the wrong reasons. Rather than devotion , the purpose of this yagna was to show off his wealth, his social standings and to intentionally avoid Shiva and Sati. Daksha invited anyone who was anyone back in Long Ago BC: all the Gods and demi gods, nymphs, air spirits, celestial beings, nature elementals, wealthy kings, shamans, priests, etc. Think Kardashian wedding of long ago B.C. Everyone that is except for Shiva and Sati. Shiva could have cared less. Life up on Mt. Kailash was sweet and he told Sati to leave well enough alone. Sati was heartbroken at not being invited, and insisted upon crashing this party. So, despite Shiva's admonitions Sati ignored social etiquette and her husband's wishes and went without Shiva to the ceremony. Upon seeing her at the yagna, rather than embrace her, Daksha belittled, embarrassed and ridiculed her in front of the guests. All the guests present laughed. Humiliated, Sati was unable to bear further insult, decided that she wanted nothing more to do with her father, including the body he had given her. She fell into a mystic trance and began to increase her inner fire through yogic exercises until she burst into flames and perished.
When news of Sati's death reached Shiva, he was shocked, sadden- and enraged. The Lord of Destruction fell into blackness. He tore his clothes, ripped out his hair and shrieked in fury. He picked up the dreads he had torn out, and from these he fashioned the fiercest warrior to carry out his revenge, Vira (hero) Bhadra (friend) - and gave him the task of retribution for his lost Sati. He sent him to the yagna to kill Daksha and the guests who had humiliated his love.
Shiva arrives at Daksha's palace to see the damage that Virabhadra has ravaged. His anger is gone, but now he is full of profound sorrow for himself, for Sati, for Daksha. Sorrow turns to compassion as he sees the bloody aftermath of his rage. He finds Daksha's headless body and he brings him back to life, giving him a goats head in place of the one lost. Daksha, overwhelmed by this generous action, bows in awe and humility to Shiva Shankar (Benevolent one). All follow his suite and honor Shiva. Sati, however is still dead. Shiva gathers up the body of his bride, and wanders the earth crazed w/ grief knowing that somewhere somehow, they will be together again.
Moral of the story
The higher self (Shiva) slays the prideful ego (Daksha) for the sake of the heart (Sati). Through infinite compassion, the higher self forgives the ego. The essential nature of the heart is the power of love, which will be brought back to life again in another form. . .but that is another story.