Parvati also known as Gauri, is a Hindu goddess. Parvati is Shakti, the wife of Shiva and the gentle aspect of Mahadevi, the Great Goddess. Parvati is considered to be complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti', with all other goddesses being her incarnations or manifestations.
Parvati is nominally the second consort of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and rejuvenation. However, she is not different from Satī, being the reincarnation of Shiva's first wife. Parvati is the mother of the gods and goddess, Ganesha and Skanda (Kartikeya). Some communities also believe her to be the sister of Vishnu. She is also regarded as the daughter of the Himavan.
Parvati, when depicted alongside Shiva, generally appears with two arms, but when alone, she is depicted having four or eight arms, and astride a tiger or lion. Generally considered a benevolent goddess, Parvati also has wrathful incarnations, such as Durga, Kali, Shitala Devi, Tara, Chandi, and the Mahavidyas as well as benevolent forms like Kathyayini, Mahagauri, Kamalatmika, Bhuvaneshwari and Lalita.
Parvati as Goddess of Power
Being the physical manifestation of Adi parashakti, Parvati is the goddess of power. She is the one who gives life energy (or 'Shakti') to all beings and without her, all beings are inert. The goddess is Shakti herself, who actually lives in all beings in the form of power. Without power, one can do nothing, including yoga.
Shakti is needed by all beings, whether the Trimurti, the devas, humans, animals, or even plants. Parvati is the provider of shakti. Without her, life is completely inert. This power is required to see, to hear, to feel, to think, to inhale and exhale, to walk, to eat, and to do anything else. The goddess is worshiped by all gods, the Trimurti, rishis, and all other beings.
A Mantra in Sanskrit is meant for her:
Sarvarupe Sarveshe Sarvashakti Samanvite Bhayebhyastrahi no devi durge devi namostute
It translates to: We bow down to Devi Durga, who is source of all forms (sarvarupe), who is the God of all beings (sarveshe), in whom all power exists (Sarvashakti samanvite) and who destroys all fear (bhaye bhyastrai no devi). It is also believed that without her Shiva remains as Shava or Corpse, for she is the ultimate source of power for all beings, gods and Devas.
Birth and marriage
The Puranas repeatedly tell the tale of Sati's marriage to Shiva against her father Daksha's wishes and her subsequent self-immolation at Daksha's sacrifice, leaving Shiva grief-stricken and having lost interest in worldly affairs. In the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Sati appears before Shiva, in her divine form, and reassures him that she will return as the daughter of Himavan. Sati is reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavat and Menā and is named Kali, 'the dark one', because of her complexion. Sati, as well as Parvati, are considered manifestations of Mahadevi, the great Goddess. In the Ramayana, the river goddess Ganga is depicted as the elder sister of Parvati. In the Harivamsa, Parvati has two younger sisters called Ekaparna and Ekapatala.
Parvati is depicted as interested in Shiva's tales and appearance from her very birth and eventually remembering her previous life as Sati. As Parvati grows into a young woman, she begins tapas (austerities) to please Shiva to grant her wish to reunite with him. She is portrayed as surpassing all other ascetics in austerity, undergoing severe mortifications and fasting. Finally, Shiva tests her devotion by sending an attendant (or appearing himself in disguise) to criticize Shiva. Untouched by the act, Parvati retains her desire for Shiva, compelling him to marry her. After the marriage, Parvati moves to Mount Kailash, the residence of Shiva.
Kalidasa's epic Kumarasambhavam ("Birth of Kumara") details with matchlessly lyrical beauty the story of the maiden Parvati: her devotions aimed at gaining the favor of Shiva, the subsequent annihilation of Kamadeva, the consequent fall of the universe into barren lifelessness, the subsequent marriage of Parvati and Shiva, the immaculate birth of Kumara, and the eventual resurrection of Kamadeva after Parvati intercedes for him to Shiva.
The depiction of Parvati’s marriage to Shiva, in the Shiva Purana, could be seen as an allegory illustrating the desire of an individual to achieve a state of liberation from a life of strife and banality. If one sets aside, for the moment, the idea of Shiva as a male entity, and sees him instead as representing a state beyond human suffering, then Parvati becomes symbolic of the aspirant who wishes to achieve nirvana, and the story becomes something considerably more than a quaint romantic tale. The acharyas (scholastic saints), who wrote the Puranas, may have interpreted Parvati’s asceticism as a means of winning Shiva’s hand in marriage, in order to discourage young girls from following the goddess’s example and becoming renunciates. In modern day Hinduism the marriage aspect of this story has been inflated in importance, but the most compelling picture we are left with is Parvati as an ascetic.
Main forms of Parvati
As per devi bhagwata Purana, Goddess 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.
- Durga is demon fighting form of this Goddess, and some texts suggest Parvati took the form of Goddess Durga to kill Demon Durgam.
Kali is another aspect that was assisted by Goddess Chandi while fighting with rakta bija. She was born from the forehead of the goddess. But many interpretations of scriptures suggests that it was Goddess Chamunda who has gotten same iconography as goddess Kali who is nobody but an aspect of Kali, even Parvati is considered to be Goddess Kali herself in her ferocious form.
Goddess Chandi is the epithet of Maa Durga, who is created by the collection of all demigods and trimurti power, and then considered to be power of sagun parashakti (Parvati), She is black in color and rides on lion, she is known as the original slayer of Demon Mahishasura, considered to be a form taken by Durga herself.
- Ten Mahavidyas are the ten aspects of Shakti, in tantra all have great importance in majority, they all took birth from Goddess Sati, previous Incarnation of Shakti before Goddess Parvati. There is no difference between Sati and Parvati.
- 52 Shakti Peethas of Sati, proves that all Goddesses are expansions of the Goddess Parvati.
Association with Shiva
Parvati's legends are intrinsically related to Shiva. It is only in goddess-oriented Shakta texts, that she is said to transcend even Shiva, and is identified as the Supreme Being. Just as Shiva is at once the presiding deity of destruction and regeneration, the couple jointly symbolise at once both the power of renunciation and asceticism and the blessings of marital felicity.
Parvati thus symbolises many different virtues esteemed by Hindu tradition: fertility, marital felicity, devotion to the spouse, asceticism, and power. Parvati represents the householder ideal in the perennial tension in Hinduism in the household ideal and the ascetic ideal, represented by Shiva. In classical Hindu mythology, the "raison d’être" of Parvati, and before that of Sati, is to lure Shiva into marriage and thus into a wider circle of worldly affairs.
Parvati tames Shiva, the "great unpredictable madman" with her presence. When Shiva does his violent, destructive Tandava dance, Parvati is described as calming him or complementing his violence by slow, creative steps of her own Lasya dance. In many myths, Parvati is not as much his complement as his rival, tricking, seducing, or luring him away from his ascetic practices. Again, Parvati subdues Shiva's immense sexual vitality. In this context, Shiva Purana says: 'The linga of Shiva, cursed by the sages, fell on the earth and burnt everything before it like fire. Parvati took the form of a yoni and calmed it by holding the linga in her yoni'. The Padma Purana also tells the story of Parvati assuming the form of yoni to receive lingam of Shiva, who was cursed by sage Bhrigu to be the form of the lingam.
Three images are central to the mythology, iconography and philosophy of Parvati:
The theme of Shiva-Shakti
The image of Shiva as Ardhanarishvara (the Lord who is half-woman)
The image of the linga and the yoni
These images that combine the two deities, Shiva and Parvati, yield a vision of reconciliation, interdependence and harmony between the way of the ascetic and that of a householder.
The couple are often depicted in the Puranas as engaged in "dalliance" or seated on Mount Kailash or discussing abstract concepts in Hindu theology. Occasionally, they are depicted as quarrelling. In stories of the birth of Kartikeya, the couple are described as love-making generating the seed of Shiva. Parvati's union with Shiva symbolises the union of a male and female in "ecstasy and sexual bliss". In art, Parvati is depicted seated on Shiva's knee or standing beside him (together the couple is referred to as Uma-Maheshvara or Hara-Gauri) or as Annapurna (the goddess of grain) giving alms to Shiva.
Shaiva approaches tend to look upon Parvati primarily as the Shiva's submissive and obedient wife and helpmate. However, Shaktas focus on Parvati's equality or even superiority to her consort. The story of the birth of the ten Mahavidyas (Wisdom Goddesses) of Shakta Tantrism. This event occurs while Shiva is living with Parvati in her father's house. Following an argument, he attempts to walk out on her. Her rage manifests in the form of ten terrifying goddesses who block Shiva's every exit.
As the scholar David Kinsley explains,
The fact that [Parvati] is able to physically restrain Shiva dramatically makes the point that she is superior in power. The theme of the superiority of the goddess over male deities is common in Shakta texts, [and] so the story is stressing a central Shakta theological principle. ... The fact that Shiva and Parvati are living in her father's house in itself makes this point, as it is traditional in many parts of India for the wife to leave her father's home upon marriage and become a part of her husband's lineage and live in his home among his relatives. That Shiva dwells in Parvati's house thus implies Her priority in their relationship. Her priority is also demonstrated in her ability, through the Mahavidyas, to thwart Shiva's will and assert her own.