Lord Brahma created this world along with the mortal humans living here. The initial humans were children of Brahma himself. Daksha was one of them. Daksha became a proud and strong king. He ruled over his subjects fairly, but made sure that everyone followed the Vedas.
He had many children. The eternal goddess – Adi Shakti had helped Lord Brahma in the creation of this world. Adi Shakti then wanted to live amongst the mortals for some time. For this, she chooses to be born as Daksha’s daughter, Sati.
Daksha did not know that her sweet little daughter was the greatest goddess herself. After all, Daksha had many other daughters to take care of as well.
When Sati’s sisters were old enough, Daksha married 27 of his daughters to the moon god Lord Chandra. Chandra however loved one of his wives Rohini more than his other 26 wives. So, naturally, he spent most of his time with Rohini. This made his other wives feel ignored and hurt. They all went to their father Daksha and complained to him.
Daksha was a loving father, and he loved all of his daughters equally. He went to Lord Chandra and told him to equally love all his wives. Chandra promised to spend his time equally. But love knows no bounds, and he quickly forgot his promise.
When Chandra’s other wives again complained to Daksha, he got furious. This time Chandra was not only ignoring his 26 wives, he was also ignoring the promise he made to Daksha. It was now time for stern action.
Daksha cursed Chandra that his body would perish. Now, this curse would leave the entire world without any light at night. So even other gods had to get involved.
Finally, Lord Shiva was the one who gave refugee to Chandra and even modified the curse. Now Chandra’s body would perish but it will grow again. Thus Chandra was trapped in a cycle of waxing and waning.
This made Daksha more furious. This time his anger and hatred were focused on Lord Shiva instead. He felt that Lord Shiva was trying to show that he was more powerful than Daksha and Lord Brahma as well. Basically, Daksha’s ego got hurt.
What Daksha didn’t know was that his daughter Sati had already decided to marry Lord Shiva. She refused any suitor her parents invited for her. Instead, she left home and went to Lord Shiva and got married against her parent’s approval.
This was the last stroke for Daksha. He now hated her daughter along with Lord Shiva. His ego was making him blind with anger.
Sati and Lord Shiva didn’t let this bother them. They lived happily in Kailash – the abode of Lord Shiva.
Time went by, but Daksha’s hatred didn’t subside. He organised a grand yajna and invited everyone. Every mortal, every god, every king, everyone was invited. But he didn’t invite Sati and Lord Shiva.
When Sati found out about the grand yajna, she wanted to go too. She asked Lord Shiva to accompany her as well. Shiva however understood that Daksha didn’t have good intentions. Shiva tried to convince Sati to not go uninvited. But Sati was missing her family, and she said that she didn’t need an invitation from her parents to visit them.
Sati went to Daksha’s yajna. When Daksha saw her, he insulted her for coming without an invitation. Daksha then proceeded to insult Lord Shiva as well. Sati was shocked by her father’s behaviour. She was hurt by the insults thrown at her, but the insults thrown at her husband really broke her. As a wife, she couldn’t believe her father could be so hateful towards her husband. She realised that her father will never change his mind and accept her and her husband.
She felt guilty for coming here against her husband’s advice. She realised that it was time for her to end her life as Sati and go back to being Adi Shakti. Thus Sati jumped in the yajna fire and ended her life.
As soon as Sati jumped into the fire, Lord Shiva knew something was wrong. He immediately came to Daksha’s palace and saw Sati’s charred body. Shiva’s grief was so great that he killed Daksha and anyone who came in front of him.
Shiva finally lifted Sati’s body into his arms and went deeper into his grief. In that grief, Shiva started his Tandav dance. He kept dancing, holding Sati’s lifeless body. Every step was bringing the world closer to its end.
This worried every god. Everyone tried to stop Lord Shiva, but he was a force that couldn’t be stopped.
Ultimately Lord Vishnu used his weapon Sudarshana Chakra and cut the charred body of Sati. As pieces of Sati’s body slipped from Shiva’s hands, he became aware of his surroundings and stopped.
The Tandav was finally over. The world was safe again.
But Shiva’s grief still consumed him. And now he didn’t even have Sati’s body. Sati’s body parts had fallen in different places in the mortal world. Shiva took forms of different Bhairava’s and went to live in the places where any part of Sati was present.
As per the scriptures, Sati’s body parts fell in many places. Each of these locations is called a Shakti Peetha. Every Shakti Peeth contains some part of Sati’s body. And at every Shakti Peetha, there is a temple for Shiva’s Bhairava form.
The scriptures are not very clear about the locations of these Shakti Peetha. Over years, many temples were lost to time, and many others got the status of being a Shakti Peetha. There is no consensus to even the exact number of Shakti Peeth.
Despite all the contradictions, every list agrees that while most of the Shakti Peethas are in India, there are several in Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Sri Lanka.