This is a temple tale from Madurai which explains how Minakshi the supreme goddess of Madurai fell in love with Lord Shiva.
The King of Madurai was childless and was distraught worrying about his successor to the throne. After much deliberation his priests advised him to perform one hundred horse sacrifices (asvamedha-s ) to gain highest spiritual merit or punya which would enable him attain a son as heir to the throne.
When he had completed successfully the ninety ninth sacrifice, Indra the Lord of heavens got alarmed. As he knew the hundredth sacrifice would dislodge him from his position of ruler of heavens, Indra appeared before the King and told him to perform instead the sacrifice of putra kameshti to obtain a son. The King took the advice and offered the sacrifice as per the rules, but to the amazement of all, a girl with a three breasts was born.
The King was troubled as he wondered how a girl with three breasts would carry on his legacy and rule the land? . Just then, a voice from the heaven advised him“ Oh pious King do not worry. Bring her up like a son. Teach her all the skills that are expected of a prince. When she meets the appropriate suitor, her third breast would disappear.”
Reassured by divine voice, the king named her Minakshi as she had the most beautiful eyes, like a pair of fish (mina= fish. aska= eyes). He brought her up like a son and taught her all the skills of a warrior. When the king died she ascended to the thrown. Minakshi- the princess was a fierce warrior and enemies feared her valor . No king could match her brevity and skills in war. Soon she set out to conquer the world.
In no time her army reached Kailasa and confronted the armies of Shiva. Shiva’s army were no match to Minakshi’s troops and began to loose the battle. Finally Shiva took to the battle field. A fierce battle broke out and Minakshi and Shiva came face to face. The moment she saw Shiva, she was transfixed and fell in love with the man before her. As the heavenly voice had predicted her third breast disappeared and Minakshi was overcome with modesty, innocence and shyness. The king’s advisor who had accompanied Minakshi immediately recognized that the prediction had come true. He approached Minakshi and said “Princess ! This man is your bridegroom” and explained to her the story of her birth.
Princess took Shiva to Madurai and married him in a grand ceremony. There Shiva reigned as Cuntarapantiya and ruled the land.
Story collected by : Vidya Kamat
Text source: Tamil Temple Myths, by David Dean Shulman, Princeton University, 1980
Location: Tamil Nadu
Image Details: Goddess Minakshi .
“Painting of the goddess Minaksi. She is depicted crowned, two-armed and with a green parrot perching on her right hand. An impression of perspective is provided by a lightly sketched in foreground. On-laid European paper watermark shows an armorial design and the letters ‘W T’.”
Artist : unknown
Image Source: Wikipedia