Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his two days visit to Bangladesh offered his prayers at Jeshoreshwari temple in Bangladesh’s southwestern Shatkhira district. In the temple renovated for the occasion of PM Modi’s visit, a hand-made, gold-plated silver crown to the Goddess was offered by him. Saying that he prayed to the Devi to help humankind in its struggle against the pandemic, his other words after the visit carry a cultural significance.
“Ahead of Chaitra Navratri, I got the opportunity to visit one of the 51 shakipeeths. When I came to Bangladesh in 2015, I offered my prayers to Maa Dhakeshwari. Today, I was fortunate enough to bow my head before Maa Kali. I wished to visit all the shaktipeeths if I get the chance.”
First, it shows the extent to which the present Prime Minister of India is aware of the great cultural legacy of Bharat. For PM Modi, building relationships with neighbours is not just about modern-day geopolitics.
Second, when PM Narendra Modi mentions Shakti peeths and his wish to visit all the 51 of them, it evokes curiosity and spurs conversation among his followers, especially the younger generation, which itself is a great service.
So, what are these Shakti peeths? What is the significance of them?
Shakti Peeths Depict the Idea of Bharat
The geopolitical map of Bharat may have been redrawn in recent times due to various reasons. However, there are many instances that prove that a large landmass and its people were strongly connected through culture, and they have common stories to share from time immemorial. Shakti Peeths that have spread across Bharatvarsha are one such example.
The story goes that due to some problems, Daksha refrained from inviting his daughter Sati and her husband Shiva when he performed a major Yaga. Nevertheless, Sati attends the Yajna uninvited, but she did not receive due honor. Humiliated, she sacrifices herself in the yajna. After knowing about this Shiva’s rudra avatar Virbhadra storms the place and kills Daksha. However, Shiva’s grief and anger do not subside, and Shiva roams with the burning corpse of Sati across the universe. The story goes that to save the universe and restore Shiva’s sanity, Lord Vishnu cut Sati’s lifeless body using his Sudarshan Chakra into 51 pieces. These pieces fell at various places and came to be known as Shakti Peeths. All these 51 places are considered to be holy lands and pilgrimages.
The Geographical Spread
Though most of the Shakti Peeths are in India, 4 are in Bangladesh, 3 in Nepal, 1 in Tibet which is now with China, 1 is in Sri Lanka, 1 is in Pakistan and one is in Pakistan Occupied J&K.
Hinglaj Mata Mandir in Pakistan’s Baluchistan is still a worshipping place. A large number of Hindu Sindhi and Muslim devotees visit the temple during Navratri. But the Sharada Peeth in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir has become an abandoned place painfully.
In India, Vaishno Devi, Kamakhya, Mysuru Chamundeshwari are some of the major Shakti peeths that draw lakhs of devotees.
By showing his reverence with a mention of the Shakti Peeths, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has provided an opportunity to reflect on the idea of Bharat and its links and stories across the vast geographical spread.