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Daksha

by Stephen T. Naylor
Daksha probably began as one of the pre-Vedic deities of India. In Vedic and post-Vedic times he took on differing characteristics. He is named as one of the Prajapatis, the lords of creation, and is one of the children of Aditi. Later he became one of the Rishis, and is the son of Brahma, having been born of the creator-god's right thumb. He may have had aspects as a creator-god or sun god himself at one point, but these are only alluded to.

Daksha is best-known as the father of numerous daughters with his consort Prasuti. Many of these daughters married gods, and Daksha proved on more than one occasion to be a very overprotective father, sometimes at the expense of his son-in-law. Twenty-seven of his daughters were the stations of the moon, and were wed to Soma in his capacity as moon god. Soma tended to favor one of these daughters, Rohini. Daksha learned of this and was terribly upset that Soma was neglecting his other daughters. He cursed Soma with consumption so the god would die a slow and lingering death. Soma's wives pleaded with their father, however, and he commuted Soma's sentence to be periodic, which accounts for the waxing and waning of the moon.

Daksha's other famous son-in-law was Shiva. Daksha's daughter Sati was set on marrying Shiva, but her father did not approve. She did so anyway, and Daksha held an enmity toward the destroyer-god from that point on. Daksha decided to hold a holy horse sacrifice to Vishnu, and invited all the other gods to attend except Shiva, who was forbidden to be a part of such a ceremony. Sati killed herself in response to this shame. Shiva was furious at his wife's death and to have been excluded, and crashed the party with devastating effect. The gods and sages in attendance were knocked sprawling, with many being maimed in the process. Shiva ripped Daksha's head off in his rage and hurled it into the sacrificial fire. Eventually the god calmed down, and he replaced Daksha's head with that of a goat.


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