Sati or Dakshayani, the favourite daughter of Daksha, the first wife of Lord Shiva and a form of Goddess Adi Shakti or Goddess Parvati has a dual aspect to her personality. She was known to be extremely tempered but also gracious and compassionate. She resided in Mount Kailash and was the daughter of Daksha and Prasuti. She was beautiful, graceful and often dressed up in red and was decked up with jewellery.
Sati along with Parvati are the Goddesses who got Lord Shiva involved in Samsara (the material world).
Daksha and Prasuti had always wished for a daughter. They went to Lord Brahma to request him to bless them with a daughter. Lord Brahma said to them that they should pray to Goddess Adi Parashakti and please her to be the parents of a daughter. The couple went into a forest, meditated and prayed against all storms, wild animals and any obstacles that may cause a hindrance to them. Finally, after seeing their dedication and strong wish, Goddess Adi Parashakti appeared in front of them and asked for what they wished.
They replied back to her with the demand of a daughter. The Goddess agreed to their wishes and told them that she herself would come to them in the form of their daughter. She however warned them that if ever she was insulted, she would leave this form, abandon everyone and return to her original form. They agreed to her clauses and welcomed their daughter.
Sati, also known as Dakshakanya (daughter of the King Daksha) was very fond of Lord Shiva from her childhood. She used to love listening to stories of Lord Shiva from Narada. Her liking continued to grow with age. Her grandfather, Lord Brahma (father of King Daksha) had set her destiny in such a way that she was to marry Lord Shiva when the time came.
Sati realised that if she had to win over Lord Shiva, she would have to work hard for it. She decided to leave her comfortable life and start her journey towards hardship and struggle. She went into the forest and engaged herself in meditation and penance. She became so used to this lifestyle that she started giving up on water and food. Her name – Uma was given to her when she refused to touch even one morsel. Later she gave up on her garments and fought the cold, rains and scorching heat. She continued to meditate and remember Lord Shiva. This is how she got her name Aparna.
Lord Shiva was very impressed with this dedication and decided to pay her a visit. She convinced him to take her as his wife. She went back to the palace and waited patiently for Shiva to come and marry her. Her father, King Daksha was not very happy with this arrangement. He was an ardent follower of Vishnu and he thought less of Lord Shiva. Paying no heed to any of this, Sati married Shiva and began her journey to Mount Kailash to live with her husband. King Daksha continued to dislike Shiva and even decided to disown his own daughter and separate her from the family for this act.
Once, Daksha arranged a Yagna (Hindu ritual) where gods and goddess were invited in huge numbers. Sati and Shiva however were not sent an invitation for this yagna. Sati wished to attend it and begged Shiva to take her. Lord Shiva did not wish to participate in it and simply asked her to not go as well. He knew that King Daksha would not treat them with respect if they went there uninvited. Sati, however, decided to go on her own. Daksha was taken aback by Sati’s presence and started insulting her and her husband Lord Shiva while attending the yagna. He insulted her in front of every god and goddess present there.
Sati reminded Daksha of her warning and took her original form of Adi Parashakti. She told them that if they ever insult her, she would return to her original form and abandon them all. She rushed towards the burning fire and jumped in it sacrificing her human body. When Lord Shiva came to know of this, he turned furious and started destroying every creature he saw. He turned mad with rage. After this episode, he went on to taking penance and disconnected himself from the rest of the universe. This is where we can see the origin of the tradition of Sati which is now abolished but held a very important role in the early 1820s.
Goddess Sati is the true form of love, devotion and passion for her husband. She did not hesitate once to sacrifice herself to keep the dignity and respect intact of her husband and herself.