Parvati is the gentle and nurturing aspect of Hindu goddess Shakti. She is the Hindu goddess of love, fertility and devotion. Also, She is the mother goddess in Hinduism and source of power and beauty.
She is the perfect incarnation of Adi Para Sakthi. She has many attributes and aspects, each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 108 names in regional Hindu mythologies of India.
Along with Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Saraswati (goddess of knowledge and learning), she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses same as god trinity of Shiva Vishnu and Brahma.
Parvata is one of the Sanskrit words for “mountain”; “Parvati” derives her name from being the daughter of king Himavan (also called Himavat, Parvat) and mother Mena. King Parvat is considered lord of the mountains and the personification of the Himalayas; Parvati implies “she of the mountain”.
Parvati is the divine consort of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva who is known as the destroyer, recycler and regenerator of universe and all life. She is the daughter of mountain king Parvat and mother Mena. She is the second consort of Lord Shiva after the death of his first wife Sati. She is not just a loving wife but also a devoted mother to Lord Kartikeya and Lord Ganesha. Her elder sister is goddess Ganges. Some communities also believe her to be the adopted sister of Vishnu.
Parvati, the gentle aspect of Devi Shakti, is usually represented as fair, beautiful and benevolent. She typically wears a red dress (often a sari), and may have a head-band. When depicted alongside Shiva, she generally appears with two arms, but when alone, she may be depicted having four.
These hands may hold conch, crown, mirror, rosary, bell, dish, farming tool such as goad, sugarcane stalk, or flowers such as lotus. One of her arms in front may be in the Abhaya mudra (hand gesture for ‘fear not’), one of her children, typically Ganesha, is on her knee, while her elder son Skanda may be playing near her in her watch.
In ancient temples, Parvati’s sculpture is often depicted near a calf or cow – a source of food. Bronze has been the chief metal for her sculpture, while stone is next most common material.
A common symbolism for her and her husband Shiva is in the form of yoni and linga respectively. In ancient literature, yoni means womb and place of gestation, the yoni-linga metaphor represents “origin, source or regenerative power”. The linga-yoni icon is widespread, found in Shaivite Hindu temples of South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Often called Shivalinga, it almost always has both linga and the yoni. The icon represents the interdependence and union of feminine and masculine energies in recreation and regeneration of all life. In some temples and arts, the iconographic representation of sexuality, fertility and energies of Parvati and Shiva, is more explicit, where they are shown in various stages of their sexual form and union.
In some iconography Parvati’s hands may symbolically express many mudras (symbolic hand gestures). For example, Kataka — representing fascination and enchantment, Hirana — representing the antelope, the symbolism for nature and the elusive, Tarjani by the left hand — representing gesture of menace, and Chandrakal — representing the moon, a symbol of intelligence.
Kataka is expressed by hands closer to the devotee, Tarjani mudra with the left hand but far from devotee.
If Parvati is depicted with two hands, Kataka mudra — also called Katyavalambita or Katisamsthita hasta — is common, as well as Abhaya (fearlessness, fear not) and Varada (beneficence) are representational in Parvati’s iconography. Parvati’s right hand in Abhaya mudra symbolizes “do not fear anyone or anything”, while her Varada mudra symbolizes “wish fulfilling”.
In Indian dance, Parvatimudra is dedicated to her, symbolizing divine mother. It is a joint hand gesture, and is one of sixteen Deva Hastas, denoting most important deities described in Abhinaya Darpana. The hands mimic motherly gesture, and when included in a dance, the dancer symbolically expresses Parvati.
Alternatively, if both hands of the dancer are in Ardhachandra mudra, it symbolizes an alternate aspect of Parvati.
Parvati is sometimes shown with golden or yellow colour skin, particularly as goddess Gauri, symbolizing her as the goddess of ripened harvests.
In some manifestations, particularly as angry, ferocious aspects of Shakti such as Durga or Kali, she has eight or ten arms, and is astride on a tiger or lion.
In benevolent manifestation such as Kamakshi or Meenakshi, a parrot sits near her right shoulder symbolizing cheerful love talk, seeds and fertility. Parrot is found with Parvati’s form as Kamakshi – the goddess of love, as well as Kama – the cupid god of desire who shoots arrows to trigger infatuation.
A crescent moon is sometimes included near the head of Parvati particularly the Kamakshi icons, for her being half of Shiva. In South Indian legends, her association with parrot began when she won a bet with her husband and asked for his loin cloth as victory payment; Shiva keeps his word but first transforms her into a parrot. She flies off and takes refuge in the mountain ranges of south India, appearing as Meenakshi (also spelled Minakshi).
Swayamvara parvathi Moola Manthra:
|| Om Hreem Yogini Yogini Yogeswari Yoga Bhayankari Sakala Sthavara
Jangamasya Mukha Hrudayam Mama Vasam Akarsha Akarshaya Namaha ||
INCARNATIONS AND SWAROOP:
Goddess Parvati is the source of all forms of goddesses. She is worshiped as one with many forms and name. Her different mood brings different forms or incarnation. There are ten aspects of Goddess Parvati and these are known to be a representation of her power and knowledge. All these ten aspects are jointly known as Dasamahavidyas and each one of them is a form that she undertook to destroy evil and bless her worshippers.
- Kali is the first representation of Goddess Parvati and she was known as the destroyer (also known as the Goddess of time)
- Tara is known as the source from which the universe evolves as she is known to represent the power of the golden embryo (also represent Boundless space or void
- Sodasi is the third representation of Goddess Parvati and is known to represent perfection and fullness. The literal meaning of the term “Sodasi” is one who is sixteen years of age.
- The forces of the material world are represented by Vidya Bhuvanevari
- Desires and temptations that often lead to destruction and death are represented by the fifth form of Goddess Parvati known as Bhairavi.
- Vidya Chinnamasta is the sixth form of Goddess Parvati and is known to represent the created world in a continuous cycle of creation and destruction. She is often shown as holding her own severed head and drinking blood from it.
- Destroying the world by fire is the seventh form of Goddess Parvati and is known as Dhumavati. After the world is destroyed by fire only the smoke and ashes will remain
- Vidya Bagala is the eight form of the Goddess and is known to represent cruelty, hatred and jealousy. These are the negative aspects of any individual.
- The ninth form of Goddess Parvati is Matangi, the power of domination.
- Vidya Kamala (Goddess Lakshmi) is said to be the Goddess of fortune.
All the ten forms of Goddess Parvati are known to represent the loving and aggressive nature of the Goddess. She is also known as the Goddess of power.
Lord Shiva was married to Sati who was the daughter of Daksha. The aesthetic lifestyle of Lord Shiva was disliked by Daksha and he firmly disapproved of the marriage of his daughter to him. This anger manifested itself when he conducted a very big yagna or religious sacrifice where he invited all the Gods but purposefully forgot to call his daughter or her husband.
Knowing about this Lord Shiva asked his wife Sati not to go to the yagna but she uninvited only to be insulted and ridiculed there. Unable to stand the insult meted out to her husband she jumped into the fire of the yagna and died. Lord Shiva was livid with rage and destroyed and killed everything in his path including Daksha.
Lord Vishnu used his discus to cut the dead body of Sati into several pieces and this helped calm the anger of Lord Shiva. However he was greatly disturbed by the death of his wife and retreated into a cave to meditate.
It was during this time that the demons drove out the Gods from the heavens and the only option available to them was to seek the help of Lord Shiva. As he was not available they approached Mother Sakthi who informed them that Sati will be born as Goddess Parvati and the son from the union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati will be able to destroy the demons.
As promised to the Gods Sati was reborn as Goddess Parvati. Even as a young girl she was in love with Lord Shiva and wanted to marry him. In an effort to win his love and affection she decided to visit the cave where he was meditating and started cleaning and decorating it. However he remained unmoved by her love and dedication.
She also tried bringing fruits for him but he remained steadfast in his meditation. There are stories that indicate that Goddess Parvati was shunned by him due to her dark skin. In a final attempt to win his love and affection, she decided to do penance in the forest.
She did the toughest of penance with no food and clothes to shelter her. She continued her penance in rain and sun and her determination finally moved Lord Brahma who promised to grant her a wish. She wished to become extremely beautiful so that Lord Shiva would love her. Lord Brahma granted her wish and she was blessed with immense beauty.
She walked inside the cave radiating feminine beauty and grace and Lord Shiva was enchanted with her. He fell in love with her and they got married. Lord Kartikeya was born out of their union and went on to destroy the demons as promised to the Gods.
Lord Ganesha was created by Goddess Parvati and asked to safeguard the entrance of her abode. When Lord Shiva returned after fighting a battle with the asuras he was not allowed to enter as Lord Ganesha was not aware about him. In a fit of anger, Lord Shiva severed the head of Lord Ganesha and this greatly saddened Goddess Parvati. In a bid to pacify her he ordered his men to bring the head of the first living being that come across. They got the head of the elephant and thus was created Lord Ganesha.
Along with sons Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya and husband Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati is the perfect embodiment of a happy family.