Daksha, the father of Sati or Bhavani and father-in-law of the great god Siva, institutes a great sacrifice.
The gods and sages assemble on the occasion, Daksha accords them a cordial reception. He bows down to the feet of the gods, and puts the dust from under them upon his head. He then proceeds to the place of sacrifice, reading or reciting the usual formulae. He orders the attendants to distribute rice to the Brahmans, for the purpose of invoking their benedictions. They receive the rice, scatter it and pronounce the Swasti Vachana, or benedictory text. He offers oblation to fire.
Dadhichi now comes to the sacrifice, when a dispute ensues between him and the sacrificer, upon the impropriety of omitting to invite Siva; and the dispute becoming rather hot, Daksha orders his guest to be turned out. The gods partake of Dadhichi’s indignation at the disrespectful mention of Siva, and rise to depart. Daksha orders his servants to guard the door and prevent their going forth: the gods, however, force their way.
The sages then also withdraw, on which Daksha goes out, exclaiming, “I will give double presents to those who remain.” Nareda goes to Kailas with the news. He enters playing the Vina and singing hymns in honour of the great god. Nareda’s communication to Siva and Bhavani is very brief.
Siva asks, “Now, Nareda, whence come you?” Nareda replies, “Your godship is omniscient, you know all that has happened, but have asked me through a wish to hear it from my lips. We were all invited to Daksha’s sacrifice. Dadhichi, finding that you were not invited, took Daksha to task pretty sharply, and walked off, upon which I come to pay you my respects.” Having said this and prostrated himself on the ground, the sage, with his lute hanging upon his neck, departed.
Sati now asks leave to go and see her father.
Siva replies, “It is quite contrary to etiquette, to go without an invitation.” She answers, “I need not stand on ceremony with my father.”
Siva observes, “How! would you impose upon me with falsehoods? Daksha is not your father, nor is his wife your mother, you are the father of all things, the mother of the universe. Those versed in the Vedas declare you male and female too.”
In the end, she is allowed to follow her own inclinations.
She comes to her father, and vainly endeavours to impress him with respect for her husband. She quits him to throw herself into the sacrificial fire.
Nareda then appears and tells Daksha to prepare for the consequences of his folly. Virabhadra, Siva’s attendant, then enters and plays some antics. Shaking the earth with his tread, and filling space with his extended arms, he rolls his eyes in wrath. Some of the gods he casts on the ground and tramples on them; he knocks out the teeth of some with his fists, plucks out the beards of some, and cuts off the ears, arms, and noses of others; he smites some, and he tosses others into the sacrificial fire. He decapitates the cause of his master’s indignation, the haughty Daksha.