Mythology Monday ~ Parvati

Parvati is the Hindu goddess of love, marriage, children, motherhood, fertility, devotion, and strength. She has many different aspects to her personality, which are all manifested as different / separate goddesses, including Kali and Durga. Parvati is part of the Hindu trinity of goddesses, along with Lakshmi and Saraswati. Her husband is Shiva, and their children are Ganesha and Katikeya.

Correspondences

  • Love & marriage
  • Fertility
  • Devotion
  • Lotus flower
  • Tigers
  • Elephants
  • Dancing

Depiction

Parvati is most commonly depicted with tan skin, brown hair, and a crown on her head. She wears a small and humble smile. Her dress is red and decorated with gold jewelry. She typically has multiple arms, sometimes just two.

Rarely do you see Parvati on her own, as she is always with her husband Lord Shiva, son Ganesha, or son Katikeya.

Sati, Reincarnated

Lord Brahma is the god who created the universe. One of his sons includes Lord Daksha, who was commanded to populate the universe with his wife, goddess Prastuti. Daksha & Prastuti had many, many children. Their youngest daughter was Sati, and she was Daksha’s favorite. In fact he was so infatuated with her that he grew an extra head so he could always keep an eye on her.

It was in Brahma’s plan to have Sati marry Lord Shiva, as they were destined to be together. However, Sati’s father Daksha did not approve of the relationship. Daksha did not like Shiva’s isolated, ascetic lifestyle. After marriage, Sati was furious with Daksha’s disapproval. Sati had to sacrifice herself in order to spare her father’s wrath towards Shiva. Completely distraught by his wife Sati’s death, Shiva retreated back into the mountains to went once again lived an ascetic life.

Sati was reincarnated as Parvati. Parvati was destined to return to Shiva, bring him out of isolation, and share his gifts to the world.

Shiva & Parvati

Parvati was born into a wealthy, royal family. As a child, a priest came to read her fortune by looking at the marks on her body. He predicted that she would marry a great yogi — Lord Shiva. This upset her parents, as they wanted her to be with someone rich. No matter how hard they dissuaded her, they could not stop Parvati from following her destiny.

Parvati found Lord Shiva in the mountains in order to pursue him. But he shooed her away. He was far too upset about the death of his former wife, Sati. He did not want to engage in the world at all. He would not speak to Parvati or even open his eyes to observe her beauty.

Parvati was very persistent: visiting him in his cave every day, cleaning and decorating his cave, bringing him food offerings, and so on. She even called on Kama (similar to Cupid) who shot a bow and arrow at Shiva in order to provoke him. Instead, Shiva destroyed Kama by opening his third eye and turning him to dust.

Finally, Parvati decided to retreat into another cave and also become an ascetic. She gave up all her possessions in order to meditate upon Shiva. She sat still and focused all of her energy on him — no one or nothing else. Feeling her devotion, Shiva’s heart was won over and he took Parvati as his bride.

Personality

Due to the myth behind how far Parvati went to prove her devotion to Shiva, she is best known for being the ultimate loyal wife. She is called on to assist with love and marriage matters.

Also, Parvati has strong determination. She follows her heart despite what others believe.

Parvati is a serene and tranquil goddess and being in her presence is calming.

Avatars

Alternative forms of Parvati are known as “avatars” which can change upon her mood. There are many different names, some of which include…

  • Kali — death, darkness, chaos
  • Durga — fierce strength
  • Chandi — power, destroyer of evil
  • Nevadurga — nine forms of Durga
  • Meenakshi — queen of Pandya kingdom
  • Kamakshi — “she who’s eyes awaken desire”
  • Lalita — playful and youthful
  • Akhilandeshwari — “supreme goddess who rules the universe”
  • Annapurna — food and nourishment