What are the secrets Shiva uses to maintain a healthy relationship with Parvati?
There are many reasons that make Shiva one of the most popular Gods in the Hindu Pantheon. Shiva’s popularity is not limited just to the countries where he is extensively worshipped – India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He is worshipped by many around the world from Indonesia to Canada and Australia to Thailand.
Shiva is considered to be the ideal husband. In fact there are many young ladies in India who pray to Shiva so that they may be blessed with a husband who is like Shiva. But what is it about him that makes this almighty god the perfect husband material?
There are many stories in the different sacred texts about the extreme nature of Shiva. He is seen as a god who is fierce in one second and dancing in another. In fact this is exactly the trait that astounds all those who worship him. The dichotomy of his nature has lead to many discussions and arguments.
But what makes Shiva the ideal husband is not his fierce nature or his ascetic behavior. Shiva treats both his wives with respect and equality. To him their opinion has high value and he enjoys bantering and conversing with them. While the very nature of Shiva the god is that of a destroyer, one who is fierce and filled with chaos, he is also the God who known to be in absolute control of his emotions. After all he has to be with two such willful and headstrong wives!
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. While there are many stories about heaven shattering fights that Shiva and his wives would be engrossed in their abode at Mount Kailash, there are also many stories that detail the passion and tenderness that Shiva feels and shares with each of his wives.
This multifaceted nature of Shiva is one of the reasons that he must meditate on Mount Kailash for a long time. For it is through meditation that Shiva can find a semblance of balance within himself. And this balance in turn helps him to deal with his sometimes overbearing wives. He does not let emotion get the better of him nor does he let himself be cowed down by his wives’ powerful personalities.
Through meditation, Lord Shiva has come to control his destructive, fierce nature. And through this meditation, he has brought sayyam or balance to his nature. And it is this balance that makes him an ideal husband. You see, Shiva is a God who maintains an equal relationship with both his wives even though they are willful and have a mind of their own. Shiva does not let himself be cowed down by their powerful personalities and yet is very sensitive to their wishes.
One of the most famous stories of Shiva and Sati is the one about Daksha’s Yagna. This story highlights the understanding 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 yagya that the great King Daksha (Sati’s father and Shiva’s father-in-law) was performing. Sati was very angry with her fathers discourteous behaviour 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 yagna. 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. But as he had not been invited, Shiva felt it would be rude for him to “just show up” and kept refusing to attend the yagna and told her not to go either as he was not going. This argument continued for a long time till finally 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, since he could not be there on his own. When Sati finally reached her fathers’ 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 and waited for a very long time as the yagna continued. Still her father refused to acknowledge her presence. The longer she waited the more angry and ashamed she became. She was stuck in a very bad spot. Her father would not accept her and so she could not go forward. And she had fought with her husband to come to this yagna. As time passed her anger towards her father grew till she could take it no more. In public, in front of all the gods present, she denounced her father and self immolated. When the news of her death reached Shiva, he let out a great roar of pain that shook the heavens and earth. He rushed to where Sati’s body lay and picked it up and ran running all over the cosmos grieving.
This story illustrates two points very clearly. One being that Shiva is an understanding devoted husband who respects the wishes of his wife. The second is that Shiva breaks all the conventional rules about how a man and woman should behave in a marriage. He is the loving, understanding husband that every woman desires!
It is safe to say that unlike the other Gods, Shiva is not bound by ego and nor does he adhere to the norm of a conventional man. When his wife Sati dies, he weeps for her death and turns into a grief stricken lover angered by the untimely death of his beloved wife to the point where he is very close to destroying the world.
Even though he is fierce and impatient at times, Shiva answers all his wives queries as a loving patient husband but admonishes them for foolish statements and behavior. Shiva is a god who refuses to adhere to the preconceived notions has been laid down by society on the relationship between a husband and wife.
It is from his intense meditation and developing a strong balance between his two contradicting sides that Shiva is the ideal husband. For without his balance, he would be unable to bare the tantrums of his wives and they would affect him in a negative manner. As a husband he lets both Sati and Parvati do whatever they like and he on the other hand gives them the support they need.
There have been many stories written in the holy texts talking about the beautiful relationship between Shiva and Parvati. In each story, Shiva is exalted as the one god who treats his wives as equals. He does not look down on them or think of them as subservient. He does not see them solely as a homemaker or a mother who has to look after his home and his children. He sees them as individuals whose intellect is at par with him. In the Puranas there are many stories depicting Shiva and Parvati discussing many abstract concepts and philosophies from Hindu theology. Shiva is always depicted as a keen listener, an understanding husband and a devout partner. Sometimes Shiva is depicted as arguing with his wife Parvati, sharing a healthy banter or exchanging ideas and philosophies both of which are necessary for a thriving relationship.
In fact there is a theory that claims that Parvati is the only one who can tame the unpredictable nature of this great god. And when Shiva is in a great rage and doing the tandav dance that can lead to the destruction of the world, it is Parvati who calms him down or compliments his violence with her graceful, slow, calm and free flowing Lasya dance so that he may be enchanted and his anger may dissipate before it destroys everything. According to some scholars, Parvati is not there to complement Shiva’s unruly, chaotic personality. Instead she is something akin to a rival who tricks and seduces Shiva away from his meditative practices.
From the many stories that talk about Shiva and his passionate side, it is always Parvati who satisfies Shiva’s wild sexual appetite. In fact according to the Shiva Puranas, Shiva’s lingam or his phallus was once cursed by the gods (maybe because he was having loud heaven shaking sex with Parvati and disturbing the other gods) and came down to the earth in flames. The lingam destroyed everything in its path and the goddess Parvati took the form of a yoni or the vagina and calmed the linga down by holding it in her yoni.
Many other gods treat their wives and consorts as lesser. Vishnu, the preserver in the Hindu Trinity, is always depicted with his wife at his feet. Lord Shiva on the other hand is always drawn or sculpted or described as standing with Parvati as an equal, at the same level. Nor is the goddess Parvati depicted as being demure with her face covered or her eyes lowered she is by Lord Shiva, a symbol of support and power – as a wife should be.
For the great Shiva, his wife is his companion, one whom he can discuss anything and everything with be it intellectual conversations, gathering or giving advice or even just a light-hearted banter to make him smile. He treats both Sati and Parvati as equals, understands and listens to them and refuses to treat them as lesser. And it is because of his amazing personality that there are many young women in India who wish that they would have an ideal husband like Shiva.