Does Shiva have only one wife?
One of the most popular gods from the Hindu Pantheon, it is no wonder that the life of Shiva is always wondered about. Shiva is not just known for his destructive nature or his asceticism. Another very interesting and not so well known part of his life is that of a perfect husband and father.Many people wonder about Shiva and his wife. Does Shiva have only one wife?
Shiva is an ascetic who likes nothing better to sit on top of Mount Kailash and spend eons in meditation, fighting his ego and bringing inner sayyam or balance to himself. It was only through great penance that his wife Sati managed to please him and convince him to take her as his wife. But soon after they were married, Shiva lost Sati and was inconsolable. So full of anguish was his heartbreak that he vowed he would never marry again.
So where does the question: Does Shiva have only one wife arise from?
The story of the great Goddess Parvati and how she came to be Shiva’s wife is very interesting. According to different accounts, ever since Parvati was born, she had a great interest in all the tales and chants of the Mahadeva (another name for Shiva). Eventually Parvati remembered her life as Sati the wife of Shiva. As Parvati grew older, she came to regard the great Shiva as her husband in her heart and vowed to do everything that was in her power to have him accept her as his wife and consort. She undertook a penance or tapas to please Shiva. It is written that in order to get Shiva to marry her, Parvati surpassed all the great ascetics in her tapas and went even beyond what Sati had endured. There are two stories about what happened next. Either Shiva sent an attendant or disguised himself as one and appeared to Parvati. In the guise of the attendant, Shiva criticized himself, his characteristics, his personality, his looks and his detachment. Parvati was however unfazed and her love for Shiva was only strengthened by this criticism. Moved by this unbound love for him, Shiva was drawn to her and agreed to accept her as his bride. After her dreams were fulfilled and she married Shiva, Parvati moved to Mount Kailash and set up her abode there.
The story of Shiva and Parvati is a well known one. While there are many different ways the story is told with its twists and turns, one fact remains constant- It was through her rigorous tapas that Parvati managed to get Shiva interested in worldly matters in general and her in particular.
While many will argue that since Parvati is a reincarnation of Sati, Shiva only ever had one wife: the goddess Sati. Others will argue that Parvati in her own right surpassed the rigorous tapas that Sati had performed and so has the right to be called his second wife, a strong independent entity different from Sati. None would however argue that many stories associated with the Goddess Parvati are very intrinsically intertwined with the different legends of the Mahadeva, Shiva.