October 17th, 2007 by sabrina
I think I find the Hindu Goddesses to be the most fascinating of the ones I have encountered. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to figure out where one stops and another starts, with all their avatars or reincarnations and alternate names, but that’s part of the fun!
Parvati is the Hindu Goddess of love and devotion. She is the second wife of the Lord God Shiva, forming a trinity with Lakshmi (wife of Vishnu) and Sarasvati (wife of Brahma). After Shiva’s first wife, Dakshayani, killed herself in shame because her father had insulted Shiva, he withdrew from the world and spent his days meditating in a cave. At this time, the Gods had been driven from heaven by demons, and without Shiva, they were hard-pressed to defend themselves. The Gods went to the mother Goddess, Shakti, to find a solution. Shakti said that only a son of Shiva would be able to defeat the demons, and she volunteered to be reincarnated as the Goddess who would persuade Shiva to create this new God. Shakti was reborn as the daughter of Himavat, God of the Himalayan mountains, and Mena, an asparas or nymph, and was named Parvati, “she of the mountains”.
Parvati quickly found Shiva in his cave, and brought him gifts of fruit and flowers every day. Shiva ignored her, partly because he found her dark skin unattractive. Parvati decided to try something different, and withdrew into the mountains to develop her own spiritual powers, hoping that this would attract Shiva’s attention. She lived in the forest with no food or clothing and soon mastered her physical needs. Her powers grew to such heights that the supreme God Brahma took notice. After Parvati told him the story of her love for Shiva and his indifference to her, Brahma told her that he would grant her one wish. Knowing that Shiva disliked her dark skin, Parvati asked for golden skin instead. Brahma took away the darkness, creating the Goddess Kali with it.
When Shiva saw Parvati with her new golden skin, he was struck by her beauty and power, and agreed to marry her. Parvati, remembering the reason why she was incarnated in the first place, gave a portion of Shiva’s aura to the Gods, which they used to create the war God Skanda. Skanda defeated the demons and gave heaven back to the Gods. Parvati, meanwhile, longed for a child of her own. Shiva did not wanted to be bothered with children, so he gave her a piece of cloth and told her to make a doll and pretend that it was her child. Angered and hurt, Parvati left Shiva to live in a cave, taking the cloth with her. Parvati’s tears fell on to the cloth and it was transformed into the God Ganesha.
Ganesha’s first encounter with his father came shortly thereafter. Parvati had asked Ganesha to guard her cave and not allow any strangers to enter. Shiva, regretting his actions toward his wife, came to ask for her forgiveness, but Ganesha did not recognize him and would not permit him to pass. Shiva grew angry with this obstacle to his wife and, not knowing that Ganesha was his son, beheaded him. When Parvati discovered what had happened, her grief was immense, and Shiva promised to find a new head for his son. He could only find the head of an elephant, and used it to bring Ganesha back to life.
Through all her ordeals, Parvati’s love for Shiva never wavered. She is an affirmation that women can do whatever they set their minds to, no matter what obstacles they face. It is said that Parvati is the source of all power in the universe and that Shiva’s powers derive from her. Variations on her name include Parvarti, Parvathi, and Parvathy.
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