ShaShTi

ShaShTi is the wife of the terrible 6-headed lord of the bhUtas. She is the daughter of yama or indra. When grandson of manu was still-born he was revived by the great ShaShTi. She is also known as devasenA or senA and is worshipped on the shri pa~nchamI, the 5th day after dIpAvali. A tarpaNaM performed to her and kumAra with the mantras from the bodhAyana dharmasUtra. Usually the tarpaNaM is performed under a large ashvatta tree or some other tree. A cat’s face may be draw on a cloth or a leaf and left there as to invoke her. Then a cat is offered milk as it is the vAhana of ShaShTi and she is supposed to accept offerings that form. This day marks her marriage with the great kumAra. She is also invoked on the 6th day after the birth of a child to keep away the awful agents of her husband from obliterating the child. She is accordingly invoked in the Ayushya homa performed for safe-guarding the lives of kids. She is worshipped by thieves and knaves on the 6th day of the waning moon for success in thievery. Another important rite of ShaShTi is the AraNya ShaShTi that is performed around May-June during the first 6th digit of the waxing moon. The rite is usually done under a kadamba tree in a forest, where an idol of ShaShTi may be installed. Then oblations are offered in the fire with the AraNya sUktaM of the R^ig veda and then a tarpaNaM for kumAra and devasenA is done. An oblation is also offered to the mAtrika lohitAyani, a female gaNa of kuMAra. Then food is left for a fishing cat or a lynx and women are given a thread to wear around their wrist.

ShaShTi is invoked as residing in the bindu at the heart of the ShaTkoNa yantra perpetually conjoined with kumAra. She is shining blue in color and is held in the tight embrace of the red kumAra, with his hands around her saffron-smeared full breasts, even as he draws her glorious face closer to this own central face. Seated on his lap she plays with the opposite face of the kumara which is in the form of a goat.

ShaShTi and kumAra are depicted frequently on the coins of the yaudheya janapada.

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