Veeraswamy Krishnaraj

Siva faces an irate Sati. Sati wanted to attend the Sacrifce conducted by her father Daka.  She morphed into Jagadhama and still later into ten Mahavidyas.

 Brahma and Aditi had a son named Daka.  Daka means Right and is cognate with Latin Dexter. Daka held a sacrifice for which gods and goddesses of heaven were invited. That list included Siva, Brahma and Vishnu. When Daka walked into the assembly hall, everyone stood up except Siva. Siva is second to none. Why should he stand up for anyone? Daka being the Father-in-Law expected respect from his Son-In-Law, Siva. Yes, Siva married Doksa’s daughter Sati. Daka was furious and held a grudge against Siva.

There was another sacrifice. Daksha’s daughter, consort of Siva, heard the news over the celestial grapevine. Sati saw the finely clothed celestials and their consorts fly by in their aerial cars to attend the sacrifice. Sati felt left out because she wanted to meet her mother, sisters and their consorts at the sacrifice, which was the place to be then. She pleaded with Siva for permission to attend the sacrifice. Siva tried to reason with her. Daksha’s wickedness, lack of judgment, and failure to see the greatness of exalted Souls compromised and canceled his learning, austerity, wealth, beauty, youth, and pedigreed heritage. They (Siva and Sati) should not visit Daksha clouded by poor judgment, suspicious mind, and anger. He dissuaded and forbade her from attending the ceremony, for he foresaw death of Sati and Daksha, the latter inflicting indignity on Siva, the Supreme Being, the Lord of the Universe.    

Sati wanted to go. Siva forbade. Daka thought little of his son-in-law Siva. Who wants a S-I-L with a matted hair, white ash on the body, rags for clothes, a begging skull-bowl ...

Sati became angry with Siva. Sati thought Siva was shrouded and drunk with vanity of a husband. She wanted to teach him a lesson.  She became Jagadamba. She developed an antipathy to her father and her husband. She opened her eyes spewing fear and parted her lips indicating parting ways with Siva.

Siva Maheśvara became deluded at the sight of Sati-Jagadamba. Siva wondered whether she could be his real consort. He looked at her. She was clad in space. Her golden complexion lost its luster. She became pitch-dark like the collyrium (Anjana). [Since then, she remained black, while Siva was always white.] Her hair was unruly and flying in the air. Flames of anger was emanating from her eyes. Her tongue was lolling out of her cavernous mouth. Her four hands were flailing all over. She was drenching in sweat. She wore a garland of skulls. She was talking thunder and flashed lightning. On seeing the Tejas (razzle-dazzle), Siva lost his self-control. Fear enveloped him. Peals of laughter emanated from her. Siva wanted to take a flight out of there. She blocked him by splitting into ten women in all ten directions. Siva was corralled.  (Ten directions are N; NE; E; SE; S; SW; W; NW; Above and Below.) Siva was frightened to death.  He tried to run but could not. Now that Siva was subdued, she became mellow. Siva shut his eyes and a little later opened them. Syama (Black Sati-Jagadamba) was standing before him. Between the shut and open eyes, the ten Mahavidyas became one woman. She wore a lotus-like face, had large turgid breasts, wide eyes, unkempt hair, four hands, an effulgent black body clothed in space and bathed in ten million suns. Siva-Mahesvara was confused and questioned her on who she was.

Devi answered: "My Lord Mahadeva, I am Sati, your consort. Don't you know me? Why do you look so confused?"

Siva replied: " You look black and induce fear in me, unlike Sati (who is white). Who is this terrible being who stands in my way in all ten directions? You don't look like Daka's daughter and my consort, Sati."

Jagadamba in the form of Sati-Syama replies: "I am subtle beyond speech and comprehension. I am Sati, your consort. I don't mean any harm to You. I was born a daughter of Daka and performed penance to obtain You as my husband. (Actually, Sati was the adopted daughter of Daka.) I have assumed this form to destroy Daksha's Yajna.  I was trying to block Your exit only out of love for You."

Siva said: "Forgive me, O Paramesvari. I said many unkind words to you. The great illusion blocked my vision. Tell me now who these ten fearful forms are."

Sati in the form of Jagadamba replied: "O Mahadeva consider yourself as the center; in front of you are Tara and Kali, the former above the latter; behind you are Bagala below Bhairavi; to your right is Chinnamasta; to your left is Bhuvanesvari; to the northeast is Shodasi; to the southeast is Dhumavati; to the south west is Kamala; to the northwest is Matangi."

The frightening ten: Tara had scissors in hands. Dhumavati was ugly holding a basket.

Kali – The ultimate form of Brahman, "Devourer of Time" (Supreme Deity of Kalikula systems). Kali was fierce standing on supine Siva. .

Tara – The Goddess as Guide and Protector, or Who Saves. Who offers the ultimate knowledge which gives salvation (also known as Neel Saraswati).  Tara is similar to Kali in her disposition.

Tripura Sundari (Shodashi) – The Goddess Who is "Beautiful in the Three Worlds" (Supreme Deity of Srikula systems); the "Tantric Parvati" or the "Moksha Mukta". Sodasi sits on a couch having Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, and Mahesvara as the legs. She is a three-city (-world) beauty.

Bhuvaneśvarī – The Goddess as World Mother, or Whose Body is the Cosmos. Bhuvaneśvarī is the sovereign of the universe.

Bhairavi – The Fierce Goddess. Bhairavi is deified Fright.

Chinnamasta – The self-decapitated Goddess. Chinnamasta self-decapitated herself causing three streams of blood from her neck, one falling in the mouth of her own head, the second and the third falling into the mouths of her attendants.

Dhumavati – The Widow Goddess, or the Goddess of death. Dhumavati is personified smoke, poverty, widowhood...and sits in a humongous cart without a moving force.

Bagalamukhi – The Goddess Who Paralyzes Enemies. Bagalamukhi has the power to stun, immobilize, paralyze and subdue the enemy. She pulls the tongue of liars.

Mātagī – the Prime Minister of Lalita (in Srikula systems); the "Tantric Sarasvati" Mātagī is an outlier. She keeps company with people at the periphery, the impure... and gorges on the leftover food (uchista).

Kamala – The Lotus Goddess; the "Tantric Lakshmi" Kamala is a gentle goddess, auspicious, divine... and brings wealth and prosperity.

Ref: Description of Mahavidyas: Varied sources, Wikipedia 
Dasamahavidyas are not blood and gore as the images indicate. Here is their real nature and personae. Kali is mother. Tara is Wife. Lalita is Guru. Chandi is Mentor. Shyama is Child/L:over. Chinnmasta is Friend. Bagalamukhi is Advisor. Varahi is Refuge. Kamala is Wealth.

Sati-Paramesvari says the following. All these forms destroy the fear of Samsara (birth and rebirth). These ten forms are the best among the 90 million manifestations of mine. Sadakhas worshipping my ten forms get Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksa and also powers of causing Marana, Ucchatana, Ksobana, Mohana, Dravana, Stambhana and Vidvesana. These Mahavidyas are to be kept secret. You reveal Agama Sastras from your mouth. Agama and Veda are the two arms by which I support this universe. Vaishnavas worship the ten Mahavidyas with their heart abiding in me. My intention is to destroy my father's Yajna with your (Siva's) permission; you should let me go to the sacrifice."  (Sati was upset with her father Daksa, because he did not invite her husband Siva and her for the Yajna. Yajna is not complete without the presence of Siva. Yajna is sacrifice and an essential element is the sacrificial fire (the divine Agni) into which oblations are poured, as everything that is offered in the divine Agni is believed to reach the Devas.--Wikipedia.).

[Artha (wealth), Dharma (Righteousness), Kama (desire), and Moksa (liberation)].

 Marana (death), Ucchatana (ruining an adversary), Ksobana (causing agitation), Mohana (causing confusion), Dravana (Putting to or instigating fight) , Stambhana (Immobilization and paralysis),and Vidvesana (Stirring up hatred)

The above appears to be a good strategy in war. Nobody could have written a better manual of stratagems.  Did Mahavidyas get credit for them?

Before her departure, she withdrew into her all ten forms out of which Ambika emerged. Another source tells that Tara merges with Kali and others simply vanish. Another source tells that Sati asks the Mahavidyas to attend to Siva in her absence, while she is away to Daksha's sacrifice. Students of Saktas (worshippers of or Sakti or Mother Goddess) point to the power and restraint Mahavidyas pose on Siva, thus, showing her to be a superior power. Saktas believe in Mother Goddess. Western analytical minds portray a picture of Sati as the victim of spousal and parental abuse and neglect, in that Daksha did not invite his daughter Sati for the sacrificial ceremony and Siva did not grant permission to His spouse Sati to go to the sacrifice. This is man analyzing and judging god and goddess.  This is superficial and proximate thinking on the part of some minds; the deeper meanings and the internecine feuds and disputes among gods to bring forth a moral lesson to man does not even register in their minds. Siva and Sakti are one and each needs the other to form one whole. Sakti is not sequacious; Siva without Sakti is sava (dead); Sakti (Power) without Siva has no Consciousness. Siva being the Yogi of yogis foresees death of Daksha and Sati, if Sati were to attend the sacrifice. There is no spousal neglect or abuse in prevention of death. Daksha was a lout among the celestials because he offered sacrifice for the rise of wealth over spirit, when the embodiment of spirit, Siva, was not invited and every sacrifice demands the presence of Siva and offering of holocaust (burnt offerings) to Siva. Daksha never liked his son-in-law, Siva,  because he was poor, smeared himself with ash, and wore animal skin and matted russet hair.

The view from the West,  Sep/29/2008

The West suggests that there is a twist in the Daksa' sacrifice. Daksa was the follower of Vedic religion. The Siva devotees at that time were the Pasupatas on the rise, who the West says were subversive and disruptive. The destruction of Daksa's sacrifice was symbolic of  growing importance of Saivism and Pasupatas, and the denigration of Vedic religion. According to legend, Rudra, a form of Siva created Pasupata Saivism when He destroyed Daksa's sacrifice. Pasupata sect opposed the Vedic Caste System and was supported by wise men. Pasupatas were the forerunners of Agamic Saivites. At human level, Lakulisa before the 6th Century was the founder of the Pasupata sect, which was mostly the sect of  ascetics and Yogis. The householders had only to utter Siva Mantra Namasivaya to adhere to the sect. The ascetic is naked except for a piece of  cloth covering his private parts. He was smeared with ash all over his body and did austerities among the five fires. He meditated in the temples. Once his guru declared he attained maturity, he was allowed to practice antinomian behavior, which included shouting obscenities, lewd gestures at women, idle prattling, pretend sleep, loud snoring on purpose and so on and so forth. The idea of this wild behavior was to victimize oneself by lewd or other behavior towards others and invite punitive response which eventually transferred good merits from the abuser to the ascetic perpetrator. Though the Pasupata ascetic was allowed to exhibit extravagant lewd gestures and his upright erect asset, he was to remain strictly a Brahmacharya without any private verbal or physical encounter with women. Most of the ascetics were of normal behavior though they were allowed by the Guru to practice such acts. Society and some Puranas were putting the breaks on this kind of behavior.