The origin of 51 Shakti Peeth temples is mentioned in numerous Puranas and is associated with Shiva and Goddess Sati. The story is associated with Sati ignoring Shiva’s advice and visiting Daksha’s yajna to find out why Her husband Shiva was not invited. Daksha Prajapati was the lord of the civilization and he had created the rules of the traditional society. Shiva never accepted the traditions of society. This infuriated an ego-inflated Daksha.
To make matters worse, Sati, his youngest daughter, was an incarnation of Goddess Shakti. She was born to marry Shiva. Daksha tried all ways to keep Sati away from Shiva. But Sati (Prakriti) and Shiva (Purusha) were incomplete without each other. Daksha’s anger could not stop their union.
Daksha was unhappy about this and to show his anger, he decided to conduct a major yagna. All the gods and people were invited. But Shiva and Sati were not invited. Shiva knew very well that this was a plan to insult him.
But Sati wanted to know why her husband was not invited and went to the yagna despite the warnings given by Shiva.
At the yagna, Sati was not welcomed and respected. Instead Daksha showered insult on Shiva. His rustic ways were ridiculed and Sati soon realized the folly of not listening to Shiva. An insulted Sati could not bear the humiliation and she sat on the ground in yagna hall meditating on Shiva, the Yogi, one who is aware of the ways of the universe.
Soon she brought forth her inner fire and allowed it to consume her.
Separation from Sati aroused Krodha in Shiva. The anger caused by the death of Sati in Shiva was uncontrollable and it brought forth numerous Ganas, all ferocious killers. Their attack on the yagna field was equal to the attack of millions of rabies infected dogs. Daksha was beheaded by Virabhadra.
When Shiva’s anger subsided, he walked into the yagna hall and was moved by the bloodbath created by his anger. He realized that Kama and Krodha had trapped him in the ways of the Samsara. He restored the lives of the people. Daksha, who now realized nothing moves in the world without the knowledge of Shiva, gave him due respect.
Shiva walked away from the yagna hall with the body of Sati. He wandered across the cosmos with it. There seemed to be no end to Shiva’s anger and grief. This led to an imbalance in the cosmos. There was no regeneration. Death was everywhere. Finally, Lord Vishnu decided to decimate the body of Sati with his Sudhrashana Chakra. He cut the body of Sati into 51 pieces and the places where Sati’s body fell came to be known as Shakti Peeth.