Kamakhya Temple Legends and History•
Posted on April 28 2023
The Kamakhya Temple in Assam, as the name indicates, is dedicated to the deity Kamakhya fondly known as Maa Kamakhya among her devotees. The shrine is attributed as one of the four major Shakti Peethas and is situated at 800m altitude atop the Nilachal Hill on the banks of the river Brahmaputra. It is quite popular for the black magic or tantric practices carried out in its premises. Interestingly, the shrine is deep-rooted with several mysteries and myths surrounding it.
The temple attracts millions of devotees from all over the world who come to the shrine to pay their homage to their beloved goddess. Devotees usually offer flowers to the deity but at times, animal sacrifices are also made.
Legends about the Kamakhya Temple
There are several interesting legends surrounding the temple that are worth knowing. Here, we tell you two of them.
According to the most important legend, Sati, the first consort of Lord Shiva, attended a yagna hosted by her father King Daksha who invited everyone except Sati and Shiva to participate in the same. As they were not invited, Lord Shiva asked Sati not to go but she did not concede and reached the venue. When Daksha saw her, he lost no opportunity in teasing and insulting Lord Shiva in front of all those who had gathered.
Sati did not say a word and kept listening to all that Daksha was saying. However, Daksha showed no signs of stopping himself and continued to taunt Shiva. Finally, Sati was unable to control herself and ended her life by jumping into the yagna fire. Needless to say, this enraged Lord Shiva when He came to know about this.
Lord Shiva arrived at the scene and took Sati’s body on His shoulders and engaged in His famous tandav. Lord Vishnu tried His best to pacify Shiva but failed. Finally, Vishnu cut Sati’s body into 51 pieces and scattered them to different places on the earth. These places came to be known as Shakti Peethas. The Kamakhya Temple is said to be situated at the place where Sati’s womb and genitals fell. According to a variation, this is the place where Lord Shiva and Sati first courted each other.
There is another legend about the Kamakhya Temple that is related to Lord Kama, the god of love. Kamadeva was given instructions to disrupt the penance of Lord Shiva. The god managed to do this successfully but at the cost of earning Shiva’s wrath. Shiva reduced Kama to ashes by spewing fire from His third eye.
This upset Lord Kama’s wife Rati, who fell at the feet of Lord Shiva and pleaded with Him to restore Kama to His original form. She managed to convince Shiva that what happened was not Kama’s fault and that He only did what He was told to do so. Lord Shiva was a personification of love Himself and granted Rati’s wish. Unfortunately, when Kama was revived, the god lacked His original charm and lustre. Kama and Rati started playing to Lord Shiva to show mercy to regain His original beauty.
Lord Shiva told Kama Dev to search for the Yoni mudra that was hidden in the Nilachal Parvat and offer His prayers to the Devi residing there. Kama obliged and proceeded towards the mountain. After years of meditation, the god found the hidden mudra and managed to get the blessings of the goddess as well as regain His lost beauty. Kama Dev was grateful to the goddess and built a temple in her honour over the mudra with the assistance of Vishwakarma, the architect of the gods.
Kamakhya Temple History
The Kamakhya Temple has a very ancient history associated with it. The origin of the temple dates back as early as between the 8th and 9th centuries when it was constructed during the Mleccha dynasty. The rulers of this kingdom practised Tantric cult regularly and ever since, the shrine is a key destination of tantrism.
Over time, the temple was destructed when Hussein Sha invaded the Kamata kingdom. The ruins were left unattended and undiscovered until the 1500s. It was at this time, the founder of the Vishwasingha Koch Dynasty discovered the ruins and revived the shrine. The temple was reconstructed by his son in 1565 and has ever since been considered as one of the important shrines by Hindus all over the world.
Some Interesting Facts
There are several facts about the Kamakhya Temple that are sure to interest those who would like to know about them. Read on some of them below.
- The Kamakhya Temple is known for the steps that lead to it on top of the hill from all sides and its unique architecture like the seven oval steeples with three golden pitchers on each of them.
- The Ambubachi Mela is the most popular festival celebrated in the Kamakhya Temple in June. The water from the Brahmaputra river becomes red on its own for three days during this period. No one knows how this happens but it is believed that the goddess is menstruating this time. The shrine is closed to men during this period. The deity is honoured as the Bleeding Goddess.
- Although animal sacrifices are carried out in the Kamakhya Temple, no female animals are used for the sacrifice in this shrine.
- The Kamakhya Temple is associated with fertility and supreme female power. This is because the shrine is believed to be located at the place where Sati’s womb and genitals fell when Lord Vishnu cut her body using His discus. The goddess here is said to be a representation of the power in every woman.
- The deity in the Kamakhya Temple is served non-vegetarian food as bhog. This is usually goat meat and fish and is served to the goddess for Her afternoon lunch at 1:00 PM. This is the reason why the temple remains closed from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM every day.
- Apart from the Maa Kamakhya avatar of Goddess Kali, the temple complex also houses ten other avatars of the goddess. They are Matangi, Tripura Sundari, Dhumavati, Chinamasa, Bagola, Bhuvaneshwari, Tara and Bhairavi.
- There is a special pooja in the Kamakhya Temple to ward off ghosts and dark spirits. A tantric performs this pooja to eliminate the negative energies surrounding an individual.
The temple is open on all days of the week. The doors of the shrine are opened to devotees at 8:00am and followers can come to the shrine up to 1:00 PM to offer their worship. The temple is closed from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM when it is opened again till 5:30 PM. The final arti for the goddess is performed at 7:30 PM.
Written by - Deepthi K