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Who is Daksha?

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In the Hindu religion, Daksha is a son of Brahma. His name translates loosely to mean "able," "competent," or "intelligent." He is one of the Prajapatis, divine creatures who were said to have been born from the mind of Brahma. He is also identified with the Rishis, the seven legendary seers and sages of the Hindu mythic times.

According to the Mahabharata, Daksha was born from the right thumb of Brahma. His consort, Prasuti, provided him with numerous daughters, the recorded number ranging anywhere from twenty-four to sixty depending on the source. Many of these daughters went on to wed various Hindu gods, with at least ten becoming the wives of Dharma and thirteen the wives of Kasyapa. Twenty-seven daughters were wedded to Soma, the god of the moon, and came to represent the moon's twenty-seven stages.

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Woman in breeze

Daksha was known to be overprotective of his many daughters, often to the detriment of his sons-in-law. When it appeared that Soma was favoring one of his daughters, Rohini, over all the others, he became enraged and cursed the moon god to wither away and die. Fortunately for Soma, his wives appealed to their father to show mercy on him. Moved by his daughters' pleas, he agreed to lessen Soma's sentence. The wasting would not kill him, but would come and go in cycles. In Hindu myth, this accounts for the monthly waxing and waning of the moon.

Another of Daksha's daughters, Sati, wished to wed Shiva. Her father did not approve of the union, but Sati ignored his wishes and married Shiva anyway. A bitter enmity was born between Daksha and Shiva as a result. This antagonism was brought to a head when he forbade his son-in-law to attend a holy sacrifice to the god Vishnu. Shamed by her husband's exclusion from the ritual, Sati killed herself by throwing her body into a fire.

Shiva was enraged by his wife's death and sent an army of demigods to destroy the sacrifice, resulting in the maiming of countless gods and others in attendance. Daksha himself was decapitated during the attack, his head hurled into the sacrificial fire. He later restored those he had injured after being calmed by Vishnu. When Daksha's head could not be found, Shiva replaced it with the head of a goat or a ram. Ashamed of his own ignoble actions and humbled by Shiva's act of mercy, Daksha became one of Shiva's most devout attendants.

According to the Sthala Purana, the location of Daksha's sacrifice was a forested area of the Kannur District in Kerala. Today the placed is marked by a temple called Kottiyur.

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Discussion Comments


Many Hindu deities have festivals dedicated to them. Is there one for Daksha? If so, what are the customs? When is it held?

I'd like to travel to India sometime and would like to go during a festival of some sort to really get a feel for some of the local culture.

Also, does anyone know the best time of year to travel to India? Is winter a good time? I know I don't want to travel there in the summer. It's hot enough where I live; I don't want to go somewhere even hotter!

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