By Swami Harshananda
Dakṣa literally means ‘able,’ ‘competent’.
Dakṣa is called as prajāpati or Father of beings. He is a familiar figure often mentioned in the Puranas. There appear to be three Dakṣas across multiple manvantaras .
Dakṣa from the First Manvantara Period
Once a misunderstanding developed between Dakṣa and Śiva due to the apparent disrespect shown by Śiva. When Dakṣa performed a big yajña, he ignored Śiva completely and did not invite him. However, Satī, due to her filial love towards her father Dakṣa, went to attend the same. She did this against Śiva’s warning. Being incensed by the callous behavior of her father, she gave up her body in the hall of sacrifice itself. Enraged by this tragedy, Śiva in the form of Vīrabhadra desecrated and destroyed Dakṣa’s sacrifice. He then beheaded Dakṣa. Due to the pleading of the other Devas, he restored Dakṣa his life. Dakṣa’s regrets and apology once again restored the good relationship between them.
Dakṣa from the Second Manvantara Period
The second Dakṣa (of the Cākṣuṣa- manvantara) was commanded by Brahmā (creator) to proceed with the creation of living beings. He did so using his psychic powers. He created:
- Devas - Gods
- Ṛṣis - Sages
- Gandharvas - A type of semi-divine beings
- Asuras - Demons
- Sarpas - Serpents
- Human beings
Dakṣa is also the name of the author of a smṛti which is generally called Dakṣasmrti. The extant work has seven chapters and 220 verses. The topics dealt with are varied. Apart from Varṇāśrama-dharmas, the subjects include:
- The giving of gifts
- Eulogy of a good housewife
- Aśauca or ceremonial impurity to be observed on birth or death in one’s family
- Certain aspects of yoga
- The philosophy of advaita
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore