The legendary sanctuary of Maa Kamakhya or Kameswari, also known as the Goddess of Desire, is located in the core of Nilachala Hill in the western part of Guwahati in the state of Assam in North East India. MaaKamakhyaDevalaya is one of the most sacred and oldest of the 51 Shakti Peethas. It is the foundation of the extensively practiced, powerful Tantrik Shaktism in India and many powerful tantriks and Aghories live here. It is also famous for the Kamakhya school of astrology.
Kamakhya Temple‘s Legend
The prominent legend goes that once Sati fought with her husband Shiva to attend her father’s great yagna. At the grand yagna, Sati’s father Daksha insulted her husband. Sati was angered and she jumped into the fire and killed herself. When Shiva came to know that his beloved wife had committed suicide, he went insane with rage. He placed Sati’s dead body on his shoulders and did the tandav or dance of destruction. To calm him down, Vishnu cut the dead body with his chakra. The 108 places where Sati’s body parts fell are called Shakti peethas. Kamakhya temple is special because Sati’s womb and vagina fell here.
One of the many legends has it that when Kamdeva, Rati’s husband, was reduced to ashes by the fire emitted out the third eye of Lord Shiva, Rati begged Lord Shiva to resuscitate Kamadeva. Lord Shiva accepted to do so and he revived Kamadeva. However, Kamdeva’s earlier beauty was gone. Rati & Kamdeva started praying to Lord Shiva to restore Kamdeva’s earlier splendor. Lord Shiva then advised Kamdeva to find the sacrosanct Yoni Mudra in Nilachal Parvat & worship Devi there to regain his beauty. After many years of meditation, Kamdeva finally succeeded in getting Devi’s blessings and got back his lost magnificence. Indebted Kamdeva then erected a glorious temple over the Yoni Mudra with the aid of Vishwakarma. The region later came to be known as Kamarupa as Kamdeva redeemed his beauty or Rupa here.
According to the “Yogini Tantra”, ancient literature, Lord Brahma after creating the universe, became arrogant because of his superlative power. This impelled Goddess Sanatani Kali to teach him a lesson and She created a demon called Kesi out of Brahma’s body. As soon as he was born, the demon rushed towards Brahma to swallow him up, however, Brahma fled in the company of Vishnu. Brahma soon realized his turpitude and approached the Goddess for help along with Vishnu. The Goddess came to his rescue and killed the demon and told Brahma and Vishnu to create a mountain over the dead body of demon Kesi where there would be grass for cattle. She also told them that Kamarupa is the most sacred place on earth. Brahma and Vishnu were conveyed to offer prayers and meditate in front of the Yonimandala (female genital) that subsequently emerged. The place was named Nilakuta Parvat or Nilachala.
It is believed that the Garvagriha (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple houses the fabled womb and vagina of the Hindu goddess Shakti. Intriguingly enough, every year during the month of Ashaad(June), the Brahmaputra river near Kamakhya turns red. It is believed that the goddess ‘menstruates’ during this period. The temple then remains closed for 3 days and holy water is distributed among the devotees. There is no scientific proof that the blood actually turns the river red. Some people say that the priests pour vermilion into the waters. But symbolically, menstruation is the symbol of a woman’s creativity and power to give birth. So, the deity and temple of Kamakhya celebrate this ‘shakti’ or power within every woman.