Hinduism is one of the most ancient religions in the world today with millions of people practicing it. For more than 3,000 years, it has been a hub of complex stories and heroic epics that is the heart of Indian mythology. Hindu Dharma is rich with its colorful tales that showcase each deity with its unique characteristics and exceptional powers. One such Goddess whose story deserves to be told and heard more is Goddess Kamakhya.
Who is Goddess Kamakhya?
Kamakhya is believed to be a significant Shakta Tantric Goddess of Desire that developed in Kamarupa in Assam. Originally a Kirata Goddess, Kamakhya was free from Brahmanical influence till at least the 7th century. Her abode is at Nilachal hills, west of Guwahati and is venerated in the non-iconic and un-anthropomorphic form of a stone fashioned like a Yoni and fed by a recurrent stream. The Kamakhya Temple is the chief amongst the 51 Shakti Peethas that are connected to the sect that follows Sati and continues to be one of the most vital Shakta temples.
Goddess Kamakhya is renowned as the bleeding Goddess. The mythical womb and vagina of Shakti are believed to be present in the ‘Garbhagriha’ or sanctum of the shrine. In the month of Ashad (June), it is said that the Goddess bleeds or menstruates. At this time, it is whispered that the Brahmaputra River near Kamakhya changes to red. The temple is then kept shut for three days, and sacred water is dispersed among the worshippers of Kamakhya Devi.
There is no scientific proof that the blood makes the river red. Some people believe that the red colour is due to vermillion which is added into the waters to turn the water body red. Nevertheless, symbolically, menstruation is believed to be the mark of a woman’s ability to deliver babies. So, the deity and the temple are meant to be a celebration of this divine ‘shakti’ or power within every woman.
Origins of Goddess Kamakhya in Vedas and Puranas
There are numerous Hindu scriptures that cite the mythical origins of Goddess Kamakhya, each with different information, which add to varied practices in accordance with the preferred detail. Both Kalika Purana and Yogini Tantra present different versions of her origin. The Kalika Purana showcases Daksha as the son of Lord Brahma. In this version, the tale demonstrates him as a devotee of the Goddess. In response to a boon, he was presented with a daughter who was a rebirth of the Devi. The daughter was Sati.
As per the Yogini Tantra, Goddess Kamakhya has a different myth pertaining to her origin. This legend portrays a smug Brahma who exasperates Devi and makes her irritated. Devi produces Kesi, a male Asura, whose role is to obliterate Brahma. The deity agrees to not be arrogant anymore and gets help from Lord Vishnu.
After both Brahma and Vishnu worship Devi, she slays the demon in Kesipura, the place where the Gods prayed to her. Kesipura ends up becoming the site where Devi is venerated and it is believed that the place possessed the ‘Yoni Mandala’. The Devi reigns over the Pitha as Goddess Kamakhya. Depending on which origin story one considers, worship practice and treatment of the deity will be different.
Iconography of Goddess Kamakhya
Goddess Kamakhya is assumed to live in a stone yoni (female reproductive organ) at her temple of worship. She is considered to be the Goddess of Desire. Similar to numerous Hindu deities, she is portrayed with several heads and multiple arms. However, she is also believed to exist in numerous forms.
The Devi is typically portrayed as a younger female who is 16 years old and is draped in a red sari with six heads sporting different colours (white, red, yellow, green, black and multi-coloured). Each head contains a third eye. She is bedecked in rich jewellery and red flowers like hibiscus.
She has twelve arms. The ten hands carry a lotus, sword, discus, trident, bell, bow, arrows, club or sceptre, goad and shield. The two remaining two hands hold a bowl, created out of either gold or a skull. She is sitting upon a lotus, directly above Lord Shiva, who in turn lies atop a fierce lion. Goddess Kamakhya is portrayed with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu who sit beside her. They are also showcased sitting upon a lotus as well.
Legends surrounding Goddess Kamakhya
There are quite a few legends that talk about Goddess Kamakhya in Hindu mythology. One of them is the one with Lord Shiva, Goddess Sati and King Daksha. Even after she was forbidden by her husband Lord Shiva, Sati attended the yagna conducted by her father Prajapati Daksha. But Daksha had not invited either her or his son-in-law to the yagna.
After Sati arrived at the yagna site, her father Daksha began insulting and belittling Lord Shiva in front of all the residents of Tribhuvan. Unable to bear the humiliation of her husband, Sati killed herself at the Yagna spot. When Lord Shiva became aware of the tragic incident, he was filled with rage and fury. He carried Sati’s lifeless body on his shoulders and began performing the Tandava. Lord Vishnu tried to calm Lord Shiva but was not successful. Later, he dismembered the corpse of Sati into 51 pieces by using his Sudarshan Chakra.
The sites where each body part fell is now referred to as the Shakti Peethas. Kamakhya, also called Kubjika Pitha, is the area where the Yoni-Mudra (the female genitalia or the Vulva) of Goddess Sati fell. It was not discovered until Kamadeva (God of Love) sought it out to free himself from a curse by Lord Brahma. He re-claimed his rupa (beauty) after venerating this Peetha. Since Kamadeva was given his good looks back, the entire place is referred to as Kamarupa (Kamrup) and the deity is called Kamakhya or the one who is revered by Kama.
In another tale, Kamadeva (God of Love) was burnt to ashes by the fire emitted by the third eye of Lord Shiva. His wife Rati appealed to Lord Shiva and told him that it was not the fault of Kamadeva as he only did what he was asked to do by the Gods. She requested him to revive Kamadeva and restore his life. Considering he is a representation of love himself; Lord Shiva agreed to do so and gave Kamadeva his life back. But Kamadeva’s earlier good-looking appearance and striking features could not be retrieved and they were gone. Both Goddess Rati and Lord Kamadeva began worshipping Lord Shiva again to reinstate Kamadeva into his original state. The deity then suggested that Kamadeva seek out the holy Yoni Mudra in Nilachal Parvat and venerate the Devi there. He said that only after worshipping the Goddess, Kamadeva would be able to reclaim his beauty.
After several years of meditation, Kamadeva was eventually able to be blessed by Devi and regain his lost beauty. He was filled with gratitude and decided to build an enormous and majestic temple over the Yoni Mudra. Later, the area was referred to as Kamarupa as Kamadeva got his good looks or rupa back in this sacred site.
In Yogini Tantra, the tale connects to the emergence of Kamakhya as a representation of procreation. Lord Brahma became arrogant after he made the universe thanks to his power of supreme creativity. This made Goddess Sanatani Kali have the desire to punish him. She produced a demon known as Kesi out of Lord Brahma’s body.
After he was born, the Asura ran towards Lord Brahma to eat him up. Brahma escaped the situation. He approached the Goddess for help and she attacked the demon and killed him. The Goddess then informed Brahma and Vishnu to make a mountain over the dead body of the asura Kesi, where there would be grass for cattle and she also informed that Kamarupa is believed to be the holiest site on earth. Brahma and Vishnu were asked to present prayer and meditate in front of the Yoni Mandala (female genital) that came to materialize subsequently. The place was being referred to as Nilakunta Parvat or Nilachala.
Significance of Goddess Kamakhya
It is said that when the body of Sati was stabbed into pieces by the ‘Sudarshan Chakra’ of Lord Vishnu, portions of the body fell into varied places, each generating a ‘Shakti Peeth’ which are believed to be extremely holy. Similarly, the reproductive organ of Sati dropped in Pragjyotishpur of Assam, thereby giving rise to the Kamakhya Temple.
The normal biological process of a girl makes her experience the menstrual cycle.
Since Kamakhya temple is the place where the yoni and womb of Sati dropped from the sky, it is considered that the Goddess has her periods for three days in the June month due to which the doors of the temple remain shut. The yoni of Goddess is concealed with a red cloth. At the end of the festival, when it is taken, the cloth is wet. The worshippers use the red cloth as Prasad.
Vahana of Goddess Kamakhya
The vehicle or mount of Goddess Kamakhya is believed to be the lion.
Interesting Facts about Goddess Kamakhya
Goddess Kamakhya is also referred to as Mahamaya, who is assumed to take on several forms. Worshippers also refer to her as Kameshwari and Durga. She is believed to be the incarnation of Ma Parvati. The Asura King Narakasura was slain by Lord Krishna through the extraordinary powers of Goddess Kamakhya.
How to Worship Goddess Kamakhya?
- Prior to praying to Goddess Kamakhya, clean the place of worship and adorn it with flowers.
- Invite girls to your place and worship them.
- Give food and new clothes to these young women.
- Arrange a bhandara to make Maa Kamakhya happy.
- After this, chant Durga Saptashati to gain the blessings of Kamakhya Devi.
Why is Friday so Holy for Goddess Kamakhya?
Fridays are very sacred for worshipping female deities since it is devoted to the Planet Shukra (Venus) that blesses people with comfort, passion, luxury, vitality, artistic qualities and so on. The female deities such as Lakshmi, Saraswati and Mahashakti denote all the above traits, and venerating them on these days is beneficial for all. Goddess Kamakhya is believed to be Mahashakti personified who is believed to be the source of all creation and is also considered to be the symbol of fertility and desire. Rituals to the Goddess on Fridays will recover your business losses, confine the enemy and achieve all your desires.
The Kamakhya Devi Homam is believed to be an extremely powerful ritual devoted to Goddess Kamakhya – the Goddess of Desire. The ritual venerates the form of Goddess in the form of yoni, considered to be the representation of fertility and creation. This is why the universe is the spirit of creation. The homam eliminates Kalathra dosha (marriage issues) or problems associated with the seventh house in a horoscope.
It also unblocks Kanni dosha that is believed to be sinful acts against young girls and offers a solution to unclog Aikya Madya dosha (issues associated with unity in the family, society, etc. The Kamakhya Devi Homam gets rid of relationship issues, particularly between a husband and wife and bestows a childless couple with a boon for a child.
Benefits of Performing Goddess Kamakhya Homam
If you’re able to make this extraordinary Goddess happy, all issues in connection to love and relationship can be resolved. The homam steers you in the direction for progress so that you can achieve greater heights in all your endeavours. If you have not experienced success in the relationship department, you will find a solution to rekindle your connection with your estranged partner.
If you wish to enhance family relationships, then Kamakhya Homam can be fruitful. The Homam also helps free you from all negativities, particularly from adversaries who wish to cause havoc in your life. Goddess Kamakhya when summoned can help grant a childless couple with the boon of a child. Venerating the Devi will spare you from the malicious impact of a black eye and evil eye and you will get some relief from legal hassles.