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General Info
Title(s) Goddess of motherhood
Sanskrit पार्वती
Consort Shiva
Parents Daksha (as Sati), Himavat (as Parvati)
Sibling(s) Vishnu, Ganga, Aditi, Rohini, Nakshatras, Diti, Rati
Children Ganesh
Mount Lion
Parvati is the Hindu goddess of motherhood and marriage. She is the wife of Shiva and mother of Murugan/Kartikeya and Ganesh. She was born to Daksha as Sati. She has many further forms such as Kali, Durga, Tara and Bhuvaneshwari.

Parvati (Devanagari: पार्वती, IAST: Pārvatī) is theHindu goddess of love, fertility and devotion.[1][2][3]She is the gentle and nurturing aspect of Hindu goddess Shakti. She is the mother goddess in Hinduism and has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu mythologies of India.[4] Along with Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Saraswati (goddess of knowledge and learning), she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses.[5]

Parvati is the wife of the Hindu deity Shiva - the destroyer, recycler and regenerator of universe and all life.[6] She is the daughter of mountain king Parvatand mother Mena.[7] Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha and Kartikeya.[8] Her elder sister is goddess Ganges.[9] Some communities also believe her to be the adopted sister of Vishnu.[10]

With Śiva, Pārvatī is a central deity in Saivism sect of Hinduism. In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Śiva, and she is the cause of bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release.[11][12] In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Śiva, she is symbolically represented as argha oryoni.[6] She is found extensively in ancient Indian literature, and her statues and iconography grace ancient and medieval era Hindu temples all overSouth Asia and Southeast Asia.[13][14]

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 motherMena.[6][7] King Parvat is considered lord of the mountains and the personification of the Himalayas; Parvati implies "she of the mountain".[15]

Parvati is known by many names in Hindu literature.[16] Other names which associate her with mountains are Shailaja(Daughter of the mountains), Adrija orNagajaa or Shailaputri (Daughter of Mountains), 'Haimavathi' (Daughter ofHimavan) and 'Girija' or 'Girirajaputri' (Daughter of king of the mountains).[17]

The Lalita sahasranama contains a listing of 1,000 names of Parvati (as Lalita).[4] Two of Parvati's most famous epithets are Uma and Aparna.[18] The name Uma is used for Sati (Shiva's first wife, who is reborn as Parvati) in earlier texts,[which?] but in the Ramayana, it is used as synonym for Parvati. In the Harivamsa, Parvati is referred to as Aparna ('One who took no sustenance') and then addressed as Uma, who was dissuaded by her mother from severe austerity by saying u mā ('oh, don't').[19] She is also Ambika ('dear mother'), Shakti (power), Mataji ('revered mother'), Maheshwari ('great goddess'), Durga(invincible), Bhairavi ('ferocious'), Bhavani ('fertility and birthing'), Shivaradni ('Queen of Shiva'), and many hundreds of others. Parvati is also the goddess of love and devotion, or Kamakshi; the goddess of fertility, abundance and food/nourishment, or Annapurna.[20]

The apparent contradiction that Parvati is addressed as the fair one, Gauri, as well as the dark one,Kali or Shyama, has been explained by the following legend: Once, Shiva rebuked Parvati about her dark complexion. An angry Parvati left him and underwent severe austerities to become fair-complexioned as a boon from Brahma.[21] Regional stories of Gauri suggest an alternate origin for Gauri's name and complexion. In parts of India, Gauri's skin color is golden or yellow in honor of her being the goddess of ripened corn/harvest and of fertility.[22][23]

Parvati is sometimes spelled as Parvathy or Parvaty.[citation needed]

Some scholars[24] hold that Parvati does not explicitly appear in Vedic literature, though the Kena Upanishad (3.12) contains a goddess called Uma-Haimavati. Sayana's commentary in Anuvaka, however, identifies Parvati in Talavakara Upanishad, suggesting her to be same as Uma and Ambika in the Upanishad, referring to Parvati is thus an embodiment of divine knowledge and the mother of the world.[16]

She appears as the shakti, or essential power, of the Supreme Brahman. Her primary role is as a mediator who reveals the knowledge of Brahman to the Vedic trinity of Agni, Vayu, and Indra, who were boasting about their recent defeat of a group of demons.[25] But Kinsley notes: "it is little more than conjecture to identify her with the later goddess Satī-Pārvatī, although [..] later texts that extol Śiva and Pārvatī retell the episode in such a way to leave no doubt that it was Śiva's spouse.."[24] Sati-Parvati appears in the epic period (400 BC–400 AD), as both the Ramayana and the Mahabharatapresent Parvati as Shiva's wife.[24] However, it is not until the plays of Kalidasa (5th-6th centuries) and the Puranas (4th through the 13th centuries) that the myths of Sati-Parvati and Shiva acquire more comprehensive details.[26] Kinsley adds that Parvati may have emerged from legends of non-aryangoddesses that lived in mountains.[17] While the word Umā appears in earlier Upanisads, Hopkinsnotes that the earliest known explicit use of the name Pārvatī occurs in late Haṃsa Upanishad (Yoga / Shukla Yajurveda).[27]

Weber suggests that just like Shiva is a combination of various Vedic gods Rudra and Agni, Parvati inPuranas text is a combination of wives of Rudra and Agni. In other words, the symbolism, legends and characteristics of Parvati evolved over time fusing Uma, Haimavati, Ambika in one aspect and the more ferocious, destructive Kali, Gauri, Nirriti in another aspect.[16][28] Tate suggests Parvati is a mixture of the Vedic goddess Aditi and Nirriti, and being a mountain goddess herself, was associated with other mountain goddesses like Durga and Kali in later traditions.[29]


The Puranas tell the tale of Sati's marriage to Shiva against her father Daksha's wishes. Her father Daksha and her husband Shiva do not get along, and ignore the wishes of Sati. The conflict gets to a point where Daksha does not invite Shiva to a major fire ceremony, and Shiva does not come on his own, humiliating Sati. She self-immolates herself at Daksha'syajna ceremony. This shocks Shiva, who is so grief-stricken that he loses interest in worldly affairs, retires and isolates himself in the mountains, in meditation and austerity.[30] Sati is then reborn as Parvati, the second[31] daughter of Himavat and Minavati, and is named Parvati, or "she from the mountains", after her father Himavant who is also called kingParvat.[32][33]

According to different versions of her myths, the maiden Parvati resolves to marry Shiva. Her parents learn of her desire, discourage her, but she pursues what she wants. She approaches god Kama - the Hindu god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection, and asks him to help her. Kama reaches Shiva and shoots an arrow of desire.[34] Shiva opens his third eye in his forehead and burns the cupid Kama to ashes. Parvati does not lose her hope or her resolve to win over Shiva. She begins to live in mountains like Shiva, engage in the same activities as Shiva, one of asceticism, yogin and tapas. This draws the attention of Shiva, awakens his interest. He meets her in disguised form, tries to discourage her, telling her Shiva's weaknesses and personality problems.[34] Parvati refuses to listen and insists in her resolve. Shiva finally accepts her and they get married.[34][35] Shiva dedicates the following hymn in Parvati's honor,

Parvati with Shiva and sons Ganesha (leftmost) and Kartikeya (rightmost). Parvati is depicted with green complexion, denoting dark complexion.

After the marriage, Parvati moves to Mount Kailash, the residence of Shiva. To them are bornKartikeya (also known as Skanda and Murugan) - the leader of celestial armies, and Ganesha - the god of wisdom that prevents problems and removes obstacles.[6][37]

Alternate stories

There are many alternate Hindu legends about the birth of Parvati and how she got married with Shiva. In the Harivamsa, for example, Parvati has two younger sisters called Ekaparna and Ekapatala.[19] According to Devi Bhagawata Purana and Shiva Purana mount Himalaya and his wife Mena appease goddess Adi Shakti. Pleased, Adi Shakti herself is born as their daughter Parvati. Each major story about Parvati's birth and marriage to Shiva has regional variations, suggesting creative local adaptations. In another version of Shiva Purana, Chapters 17 through 52, cupid Kama is not involved, and instead Shiva appears as a badly behaved, snake wearing, dancing, disheveled beggar who Parvati gets attracted to, but her parents disapprove of. The stories go through many ups and downs, until Parvati and Shiva are finally married.[38]

Kalidasa's epic Kumarasambhavam ("Birth of Kumara") describes the story of the maiden Parvati who has made up her mind to marry Shiva and get him out of his recluse, intellectual, austere world of aloofness. Her devotions aimed at gaining the favor of Shiva, the subsequent annihilation ofKamadeva, the consequent fall of the universe into barren lifelessness, regeneration of life, the subsequent marriage of Parvati and Shiva, the birth of Kartikeya, and the eventual resurrection ofKamadeva after Parvati intercedes for him to Shiva.

Iconography and symbolism

Parvati, the gentle aspect of Devi Shakti, is usually represented as fair, beautiful and benevolent.[39][40] 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.[3] 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.[3]

A common symbolism for her and her husband Siva 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".[41] 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.[42] 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.[42]

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.[citation needed]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".[43] 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.[44]Alternatively, if both hands of the dancer are in Ardhachandra mudra, it symbolizes an alternate aspect of Parvati.[45]

Parvati is sometimes shown with golden or yellow colour skin, particularly as goddess Gauri, symbolizing her as the goddess of ripened harvests.[46]

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.[47] 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).[48]

Symbolism of many aspects for the same goddess

Parvati is expressed in many roles, moods, epithets and aspects. In Hindu mythology, she is an active agent of the universe, the power of Shiva. She is expressed in nurturing and benevolent aspects, as well as destructive and ferocious aspects.[49] She is the voice of encouragement, reason, freedom and strength, as well as of resistance, power, action and retributive justice. This paradox symbolizes her willingness to realign to Pratima (reality) and adapt to needs of circumstances in her role as the universal mother.[49] She identifies and destroys evil to protect (Durga), as well as creates food and abundance to nourish (Annapurna).

Manifestations and aspects of Parvati

Several myths present alternate aspects of Parvati, such as the ferocious, violent aspect as Shakti and related forms. Shakti is pure energy, untamed, unchecked and chaotic. Her wrath crystallizes into a dark, blood thirsty, tangled-hair Goddess with an open mouth and a drooping tongue. This goddess is usually identified as the terrible Mahakali or Kali (time).[50] In Linga Purana, Parvati metamorphoses into Kali on the request of Shiva, to destroy a female asura (demoness) Daruka. Even after destroying the demoness, Kali's wrath could not be controlled. To lower Kali's rage, Shiva appeared as a crying baby. The cries of the baby raised the maternal instinct of Kali who resorts back to her benign form as Parvati.[51]

In Skanda Purana, Parvati assumes the form of a warrior-goddess and defeated a demon called Durg who assumes the form of a buffalo. In this aspect, she is known by the name Durga.[52]Although Parvati is considered another aspect of Sakti, just like Kali, Durga, Kamakshi, Meenakshi, Gauri and many others in modern day Hinduism, many of these “forms” or aspects originated from regional legends and traditions, and the distinctions from Parvati are pertinent.[53]

In Devi Bhagwata Purana, Parvati is lineal progenitor of all other goddesses. She is one who is source of all forms of goddesses. She is worshiped as one with many forms and name. Her different mood brings different forms or incarnation. For example,

  • Durga is demon fighting form of Parvati, and some texts suggest Parvati took the form of Durga to kill demon Durgam.
  • Kali is another ferocious form of Parvati, as goddess of time and change, with mythological origins in deity Nirriti.
  • Chandi is the epithet of Durga, considered to be power of Parvati; she is black in color and rides on lion, slayer of demon Mahishasura.
  • Ten Mahavidyas are the ten aspects of Shakti, in tantra all have importance, all different aspects of Parvati.
  • 52 Shakti Peethas suggests all goddesses are expansions of the goddess Parvati.
  • Navadurga nine forms of goddess Parvati
  • Meenakshi, goddess with eyes shaped like a fish
  • Kamakshi, goddess of love and devotion
  • Lalita, the playful Goddess of Universe, she is form of Devi Parvati.
  • Akhilandeshwari, found in coastal regions of India, is goddess associated with water.[54]
  • Annapurna the representation of all that is complete and of food.
    220px-Bronze siva

    Shiva and Parvati


Parvati was originally born as Sati, daughter of Daksha and granddaughter of Brahma. After severe fasting, she won Shiva's attention and he consented to her wish to become his wife. Daksha, who wished for his daughter to marry someone else, invited all the gods to a great sacrifice, except Sati and Shiva.

Sati went anyway and was received coldly by Daksha. She, upon hearing his insulting comments about Shiva, cast herself on the fire and died. Shiva's rage was terrible. He decapitated Daksha himself and heaped destruction upon the world.

The gods, seeing this, called upon Vishnu to console Shiva. Shiva forgave Daksha and restored him to life, but replaced his human head with that of a ram.

190px-Durga idol 2011 Burdwan


Sati was later reborn to Himavat, god of snow, with her sister as Ganga and. She later wed Shiva again and moved to the mountains to live with him.

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