Shiva and Sati are considered inseparable and epitomize one of the most ideal marital union in Hindu mythology. Sati is the Hindu goddess of marital bliss and longevity. There are many stories about why the goddess agreed to take human form. Some devotees of Shiva believe that Sati the goddess was asked by Brahma to take a human form so that she could bring Shiva out of his ascetic life and into one of wedlock. It seems that Brahma was tired of Shiva and his bachelor lifestyle and he was tired of Shiva making fun of Vishnu and his wedded life and the misery that it sometimes caused them.
Sati was born to the chief of the Manas Putras or the human sons of Brahma. This chief was better known as the learned and valiant Daksha. Since Brahma had asked her to take human form to get her married to the wild god Shiva, Sati right from the early days of her youth, was focused in her thoughts of Shiva. She loved all the Shiva tales, hymns, chants, songs and knew the Shiva stotras by heart. Every day she would pray to the great lord so that he would accept her. As Sati grew older, her beauty grew with her. Soon she grew into a beautiful, carefree girl whose heart was set on the great Shiva. Her father, Daksha, however had other plans. Kings and princes from all over came and asked for her hand in marriage but Sati had her heart set on Shiva. Her refusal of all her suitors frustrated her father. His fury finally compelled Sati to set out alone in her pursuit of Shiva. She forsook all the luxuries and security of her father’s palace and withdrew to the forest. In the forest she lived the life of an ascetic, forsaking comfort for devotion. Such was the passion to achieve her eventual goal of marrying Shiva, that Sati soon gave up all forms of nourishment. She followed this rigorous path for a long time till Shiva finally relented and agreed to have her as his bride. Her rigorous penance paid off and Sati got what she had always wanted, what she had been born for – to be Shiva’s wife.
One of the most famous stories of Shiva and Sati is the one about Daksha’s Yajna. This story highlights the passionate yet considerate nature of this great god. One day when Sati was outside her home on Mount Kailash, she noticed many gods heading in one direction. Wondering where they were all heading, she asked one of them. The god she asked looked shocked and replied that they were all headed to the yagna that the great King Daksha (Sati’s father and Shiva’s father-in-law) was performing. Sati was very upset with her father’s indiscretion and went to Shiva to ask him if he knew about this yagna. When Shiva replied in the affirmative, Sati was appalled that Shiva one of the most prominent gods of the Hindu Pantheon and the supreme power according to Shaivism had not been invited to the yajna. It was considered a great dishonor not to call upon The Destroyer when performing a yagna. Sati insisted that they must go to the yagna, but Shiva refused. While Shiva was not angry at not being invited to the yagna, (he was an ascetic after all) he could understand the shock and hurt that Sati felt. Since he had not been invited, Shiva felt it would be rude of him to “just show up” and refused to attend the yagna, asking Sati to not bother about going either. Their argument continued for a long time until Sati, in a fit of rage, decided that she would head to the yagna without her husband. Shiva warned her yet again that doing so was not a good idea, but Sati believing that her father would not ignore his beloved daughter was determined to go. Before she set off on her own Shiva decided to send his ganas or vassals with her to protect her on the road and to address her every grievance, in his absence. When Sati finally reached her father’s palace where the yagna was just beginning, no one came to greet her or welcome her home. In fact all the gods stood with their back to her and ignored her. Sati waited for a very long time as the yagna continued. Her father refused to acknowledge her presence. The longer she waited the more angry and ashamed she became. Her father would not acknowledge her and she could not go forward and attend the ceremony. She had fought with her husband to attend such a yagna! As more time passed her anger towards her father grew till she could take it no more. She accosted Daksha in front of all the gods present, who in turn, denounced Shiva in extremely derogatory terms. Upon witnessing such blatant abuse of her husband and the indifference of the others present at such affront being heaped upon Shiva’s honour, Sati cursed them all and called upon her cosmic powers as “Adi Shakti” (the form of the eternal mother Goddess) and immolated herself.
When the news of her death reached Shiva, he let out a great roar of pain that shook all of creation. Shiva pulled off a strand of hair from his head, and dashed it to the ground summoning Veerbhadra– his mightiest Bhairava form. Veerbhadra was charged to destroy Dakhsha and everything that kept him from attaining his objective. Part of Daksha’s impudence had arisen due to the fact that all the attendee Gods and Sages of the Yajna including Lord Vishnu himself was sworn to protect the yajna and him against all harm. True to their promise, the Gods and Rishis amassed an army but Veerbhadra cut them down in no time. It came down to Lord Vishnu to stop Veerbhadra. He magically tried to bind Veerbhadra but Shiva sent Bhardakali- the female destructive energy of Aadi Shakti who joined her consort and broke free of the bondage. The only means to stop this form of Shiva would have involved Lord Vishnu using his primary weapon- the Sudarshan Chakra. The resultant clash would have destroyed all of creation. Lord Vishnu stepped away and Veerbhadra destroyed the yajna, severing Daksha’s insolent head, casting it into the fire of the yajna.
Shiva having slipped into a fit of rage could not be pacified even with the death of Daksha failed to appease him. He was so enraged at the premature demise of his beloved Sati that he started to dance the Tandav Nritya or the “Dance of Destruction”. With Sati’s charred body wrapped tight in his arms, Shiva was a fierce sight. The gods were afraid for they knew that the end of this dance meant the end of all creation. What happened next has two slightly different versions. In one, as Shiva got more and more fearsome and his dance became more and more chaotic, Lord Vishnu used his Sudarshana Chakra and dismembered the body of Sati into 51 pieces, which fell down to earth and Shiva’s trance was broken. According to the other version, Shiva’s fearsome momentum during the increasingly violent dance causes Sati’s body to come apart in 51 pieces which then fell to earth. It is only then that Shiva realized his folly and began to calm down.
As Shiva calmed down and beheld the damage he had brought to everyone and everything before and during his Tandav Nritya, he grew remorseful and in one sweep of his arm restored the life and limb of all those who had faced his wrath, bringing back even Daksha to life. The once impudent king’s head was destroyed in the fire and was replaced by that of a goat. In addition to this Shiva created Shakti Pithas around all the spots where Sati’s dismembered body had fallen, assigning a Bhairav to each of the site to protect the site and the city near it for all times to come. The story of Shiva and Sati is one of tragic romance that transcends death to find fruition when Sati reincarnates as the Goddess Parvati and becomes one with her eternal mate Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva is one of the most popular and loved deities in the Hindu mythology. His first wife was Sati and his second wife was Goddess Parvati.The Shiv-Parvati relationship is thought be a model of perfection and Lord Shiva is often considered to be an ideal husband. Unmarried women keep a fast commonly known as the ‘16 somvar vrat’ and pray to Lord Shiva and ask for a husband like him. Lord Shiva is known to be an ascetic who often meditated on the top of Mount Kailash, he is simultaneously known to be a householder, deeply involved with his wife and his two sons. Historical texts say that Lord Shiva and Parvati share a very loving and cordial relationship. He is mostly seen in ‘shamshaan ghaats’ or funeral grounds with ash smeared all over his body, when however, he is with his wife, she has his undivided attention and love. Lord Shiva holds that for the sustenance of the world men and women need to be interdependent.
Lord Shiva is known for his martial prowess while Goddess Parvati is known to be soft hearted. This made them a couple that truly complimented each other. When Shivji performs the destructive ‘Tandav’ dance, his wife matches steps with him but in a slow and subtle manner to cool his temper. It was her deep desire to become a mother but Lord Shiva was not ready to take the responsibility of fatherhood because he felt it would distract him from his ascetic pursuits. With the passage of time, Parvarti ji’s motherly desire won the battle against Lord Shiva’s resistance and they became parents to two sons. After their marriage, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati had moved to Mount Kailash to lead their married life. It was there, amidst the cold mountains that their love blossomed and their passion soared unchecked. Lord Shiva is known to be a zestful lover and his love was so intense and passionate that it shook the cosmos and frightened the other Gods at times.
The Shiva-Parvati relationship represents the union of the male and female energies in the form of ecstasy and sexual happiness. It is mentioned in some of the ancient texts that Parvati ji tames Lord Shiva’s sexual prowess and his immense sexual vitality. Shiva taught his wife transcendent knowledge while she gave him the knowledge of the cosmos.
Sometimes the Shiva-Parvati relationship is also given adjectives like ‘offbeat’. The prime reason for this can be the setting (snowy mountains and sometimes dense forests) in which they lived and the way their relationship evolved. Since Goddess Parvati is Lord Shiva’s second wife it took some time after their marriage for love to blossom between the two of them, but once it did there was no looking back. It is said that there is a divine strength that connects them and thus in Indian culture they are referred to as the ideal couple. When an elder in the family calls a couple ‘Shiv – Parvati’ Jodi, it means that that couple is a balanced example of love and understanding like Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It was due to Parvati ji’s strong will power that Lord Shiva was transformed from an ascetic to a complete householder.
The couple together symbolise renunciation and marital bliss. They are at most times depicted as the happy couple, either meditating in the mountains or deep in discussion. In most of their pictures, one may note that Goddess Parvati is either seen standing next to Lord Shiva which depicts equality or she is seen sitting near him, which is considered to be an ideal family pose.
From all that has been discussed here it can be gathered that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are a happily married couple with an ever enduring bond of love binding them through all of time. When one has such a loving companion the journey of life automatically becomes more enjoyable. So do enjoy your life with your partner along the lines of the Shiv-Parvati relationship and keep seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva.
Om Namah Shivaya!!!
Lord Kartikeya who is also popularly known as Murugan is the second son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He symbolizes perfection and is considered Dev Senapati or commander-in-chief of the divine army, who was birthed specifically to destroy demons. There are many stories of how Lord Kartikeya was born.
Legend has it, that before marrying goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva had married Sati, the daughter of King Daksha- a direct descendant of Lord Bramha. Lord Shiva is known to be the destroyer who had cursed Lord Brahma to a state where he would not be worshipped by mortals due to a foul play on Bramha’s part during a competition between him and Lord Vishnu. As such, King Daksha held an unyielding antipathy towards Lord Shiva. At a yagna ceremony Daksha publicly insulted Lord Shiva. Sati could not tolerate the insult of her husband and immolated herself. From then on ‘fire’ or Agni was cursed. It is said that the curse would cause extreme and unbearable inflammation in Agni’s body due to the fluid from Lord Shiva’s body. After Sati immolated herself, Lord Shiva went hysterical and destroyed the yagna and KaalBhairav, one of Shiva’s Rudra (enraged) avataar’s beheaded King Daksha despite the combined efforts of all the God’s and Goddesses to save the latter. Lord Shiva’s anger knew no bounds and the result was the impending destruction of all of creation, averted only by the active involvement of Lord Vishnu, who destroyed the body of Sati and broke Lord Shiva’s trance. When his rage subsided, Shiva brought King Daksha back to life, attaching to his torso, the head of a goat. It is believed that Sati was reborn as Goddess Parvati and later married Lord Shiva.
As Agni was cursed, only Lord Shiva could lift the curse. He told Agni that he would be relieved only when the ‘fluid’ from Lord Shiva’s body is transferred into the womb of a woman. Agni obeyed Lord Shiva’s orders and went to search for a woman who would bear Shiva’s child. He kept searching and reached a far off place to wait for the right woman to arrive. While he was waiting there, six Kritikas arrived to take shelter from the bitter cold. Agni held them and transferred the fluid into their wombs. All six of them got pregnant. When the Kritikas went back, their husbands found out that their wives were pregnant. They presumed adultery and cursed them to become a constellation in the sky. Before their transformation into stars, all the six Kritikas aborted their foetuses in the snow covered mountains of the mighty Himalayas. Seeing this sight, the holy Ganges carried the foetus to a secluded place called Sara Vana, which was extensively covered with reeds. After the passage of some time, Lord Kartikeya was born with six heads. There are many legends that explain the reasons behind Kartikeya having six heads. But the most common one ascribes the anomaly to the fact that he came from six mothers. The six heads symbolize the five senses and the brain. It is also believed that because of his six heads he could see in all directions. Upon his birth all the Gods and Goddesses rejoiced and blessed him.
In another version of the story, is it said that Agni carried six sparks that fell from Lord Shiva’s third eye instead of the fluid from his body. He deposited the sparks in a lake in Sara Vana where six children were born. It was the Kritikas who nursed the babies and took care of them. Later when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati arrived there, Parvati ji picked up all the six babies in her arms and merged their bodies into one, but the multiple heads did not fuse into one. The baby was Lord Kartikeya and thus he has six heads.
Lord Shiva blessed Kartikeya and he was made the commander-in-chief of the Devas. With all his powers and the blessings of Lord Shiva he destroyed all Asuras (demons) both in the physical domain, in the form of evil doers and at the emotional domain in the form of evil thoughts and machinations.
In some southern states of India, it is believed that he is the younger son of Lord Shiva whereas according to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana he is the elder son and Lord Ganesha is the younger of the two.
What is it that makes Shiva the ideal husband? Is it his passionate nature or his ascetic disposition?
The answer to the question may be drawn from both of these aspects of Lord Shiva. While the very nature of Shiva the god is that of a destroyer, one who is fierce and filled with the potential to create chaos, he is also the god who is in absolute control of his emotions. He has to be after all, he has two such willful and headstrong wives! Lord Shiva does not let the determination of his wives annoy or frustrate him. He readily listens to what they have to say agreeing or disagreeing with their opinions in a gentle manner. He treats both Sati and Parvati as equals and not as subservient beings. He sees them as his companions, individuals with whom he can discuss anything and everything- whether it may be intellectual conversations, gathering or giving of advice or even just a light-hearted banter to make him smile. To him their opinion has high value and he enjoys banter and conversations with them. It is these amazing traits of the God alongside his legendary virility that there are many young women in India who wish that they would have an ideal husband like Shiva.
One must bear in mind that the times in which the legends of Shiva were written by sages was characterized by a kind of patriarchal hegemony that relegated the women in society to a secondary position when compared to their husbands or other male members in family life. This trend operated even in mainstream mythology since it was derived from mainstream culture. The legends of Shiva alone shows the kind of harmony and equality of status between husband and wife we strive for even in contemporary times in societies around the globe.
Whether it was with his first wife Sati or his second wife Parvati, Shiva always had immense love and respect for them. It was only after the death of his first wife that Shiva agreed to re-marry, that too after considerable coaxing by various Gods and Goddesses. Unlike other Gods, Shiva is not promiscuous except when it came to the charms of Mohini- the damsel avatar of Lord Vishnu. One may pardon him this indiscretion, considering the fact that Lord Vishnu was as powerful as him and could as such, manage to lead him astray.
The Ardhnareshwar avatar of Shiva and his acknowledgement of the different but equal status of the male and female energy, represented by the Shiv-Shakti dichotomy continues to show all and sundry the extent to which Shiva loved and treasured his female half. The process of generating and sustaining life is incomplete without the active participation of both forces. It is a reality Shiva encompasses even though he is all powerful and invincible.
Therefore when unmarried women pray to Shiva and Parvati to be blessed with husbands like Shiva, one may read in it, a conscientious and well reasoned choice. It symbolizes the appropriate choice for a man who is not materialistic in a narrow sense but has a passionate temperament, capable of introspection, sensitive thought and compassionate action.