My grandma used to tell me this bedtime story. King Daksha’s daughter Sati married the penniless Lord Shiva, much against his wish and after a long penance. Years later, the king organized a big Yagna and invited everyone. He also invited his daughter, now Goddess Sati. The King insulted Lord Shiva in front of everyone, calling him pitiable, not to adorn his wife with gold jewelry. Sati was so livid that she immolated herself in the Yagna fire. When Shiva heard the news he was enraged and grief-stricken. He held the lifeless body of his wife in his arms, opened his third eye and danced the Tandava – a dance to destroy the universe. Fearing the destruction of the world and to shock Lord Shiva out of his grief, Lord Vishnu threw his Sudarshana Chakra and the body of divine feminine Sati was cut into 52 pieces and scattered all over India. Each of these places where her body parts fell was consecrated as a Shaktipeet (seat of power).
Danteshwari Temple is the place where the tooth of Goddess Sati fell- hence the name. (Dant means tooth). It is situated in Dantewada, 80 km from Jagdalpur in Chattisgarh. The temple is situated at the confluence of two rivers Shankini and Dhankini, both having different colored water.
The drive from Jagdalpur is scenic. The surroundings are beautiful green undulating lands intercepted by streams and rivers. There is a nip in the air. Nearer to the Temple, the sides of the road are lined with colorful stalls selling knickknacks, coconuts, flowers, garlands and other stuff necessary for the worship of the Goddess.
The temple complex is small and has many single storied structures. From outside, it seems like a simple humble temple made of bamboo-the local building material. It lacks the size and grandeur of some of the South Indian temples. However, it is an antique temple built in the 14th century. Ancient Hindus could spot strong energies and would build temples around it. Therefore I am hoping the temple lives up to the name ‘Shaktipeeth’.
There is a peculiar custom here. You are not allowed to go in wearing stitched clothes. You have to wear a lungi or dhoti.
In front of the temple’s main entrance is a Garudastambha, a pillar with a Garuda (an Eagle) carved on top. A legend goes that if standing against the pillar, facing the main temple, you can embrace the pillar until your hands meet at the back; then your wish gets fulfilled. I tried doing it. Stretched and stretched my hands back around the pillar, but my hands did not find each other! I assumed that it was in my best interest that my wish is not granted and thanked the deity.
At the main entrance stand two Dwarpals (guards) carved in black stone, holding a mace and a snake in hand. The temple has four halls before you reach the sanctum sanctorum. Each of the halls is decorated with beautiful pillars and idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha and Lord Vishnu.
As I walk in I feel the positive energies of the place. Instead of feeling just peace and tranquility, the feeling is that of being powerful and tremendously confident. I am astounded!
In the sanctum stands a beautiful black, 6 handed idol of Shakti, the divine feminine. Her face oozing with love and compassion. She holds a trident and exudes powerful positive energies. It is difficult to take your eyes off her.
I sit there bathing in the energy, soaking them in as much as I can and hoping to spread them around in the world.