Being the daughter of King Himavat (King of Mountains/Himalaya), her name became Parvati meaning ‘daughter of the mountain.’ Generally represented as a caring and gentle form of mother, she is the goddess of fertility, love, marriage, and adherence to divine strength and supremacy.
Goddess Parvati is expressed in many roles, forms, moods, epithets, and characteristics, and each of her forms is worshipped as an individual goddess. There are more than 100 names given to her for her roles in Hindu stories. Despite that, as a goddess Lalita or Lalita Maha Tripura Sundari (one of the 10 Mahavidyas), Parvati contains her 1000 other names listed in Lalita Sahasranama (text from Brahmanda Purana). Goddess represents the wide range of what women can do for society and her family.
Parvati is the consort of Lord Shiva and the mother of Hindu Gods, Ganesha, Kumar/Kartikeya, and Ashokasundari. Puranas also depict her as a sister of Lord Vishnu. In Shaivism, worshipping Shiva without the goddess Parvati is seen as a useless act as Parvati is the divine energy of Shiva and vice versa. Without Shiva, there is no Shakti, and without Shakti, there is no Shiva.
Besides the unfathomable power and tales related to the goddess, here are some of the few facts about the goddess Parvati:
1. Adi Parashakti – Mother of Universe
Goddess Parvati is also known as Adi Parasahakti (First Supreme Energy). Adi Parashakti is described in Puranas (Kalika Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Devi Bhagavata Purana, and Shiva Purana) as a mother whose energy is responsible for the creation preservation, and destruction of the universe. Divine Parashakti created the trinity of gods (Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwar/Shiva).
It is said that Shiva got his attainment after worshipping and meditating Adi Parashakti for thousands of years using the Beeja mantra. She is considered to be the supreme spirit beyond any form yet can take any desirable forms.
2. Dasa Mahavidya (Ten Mahavidya)
The ten cosmic personalities of the Divine mother goddess are known as Das Mahavidya. Dasa Mahavidyas are wisdom goddesses, where “Dasa” means ‘Ten,’ Maha means ‘Great’ and Vidya means ‘Wisdom.’ Each form has her own name, story, personality, and mantras. They are Kali, Tara, Maha Tripura Sundari, Bhuwaneshwari, Bhairabi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Banglamukhi, Matangi, and Kamala.
This Mahavidya form of goddess Parvati is regarded as controlling and operating all the nine planets and maintaining cosmic order.
3. Parvati as Sati or Dakshyani
Parvati is the incarnation of Devi Sati or Dakshyani, a daughter of Daksha, who married Lord Shiva, going against her father’s decision. During a great yajna performed by Daksha, Sati and Lord Shiva were insulted. The angered Sati took her original form of Adi Parashakti, cursed Daksha, and ended her mortal life by burning herself through the fire of yagna.
After the death of Sati, sad and depressed Shiva promised never to marry again and live detached from worldly attachment. However, gods persisted in the goddess to rebirth as Parvati to get the lord back from his ascetic isolation.
Ardhanarishwara is the combined form of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, depicted as a single body – the right half is of Shiva, and another half is of Parvati. Parashakti created Shiva out of herself to balance both the feminine and masculine energies.
When Adi Parashakti devolved her power as a Parvati and became the consort of Shiva, it was important to show the whole world that Shiva and Parvati are a single entity; there are both father and mother, both ascetic and worldling, both fearsome and gentle and both constructive and destructive, by showing their Ardanarishvara form.
5. Maa Tara: Goddess who saved Shiva from Halahala poison
Goddess Tara is the second of the Dasa Mahavidyas. She is said to be the one who created 1st seed from which Lord Vishnu took birth, as stated in Shakti Mahabhagawat. During Samundra Manthan (churning of the ocean), when Lord Shiva fell unconscious after drinking the powerful poison Halahala, goddess Parvati appeared as Maa Tara in the form of mother and took the Lord on her lap. Goddess Tara then feeds Shiva with breast milk which helps Lord Shiva to get back his consciousness. Since then, Lord Shiva became Nilkantha, and Goddess Tara became Maa Neel Saraswati for absorbing the poison inside her.
6. Goddess Annapurna
One day, Lord Shiva and Parvati were arguing about the importance of Prakriti (nature) as Shiva said that everything materialistic is an illusion. More angered was Parvati when he added that even the food we eat is an illusion. So, to show the importance of food, Parvati disappeared from Kailash. Because of her disappearance, food also disappeared, and the world started to starve, including Lord Shiva, because of why they started begging the goddess to come back. Thus, Parvati returned as goddess Annapurna and offered food to the Kailash family, making the world realize the importance of Prakriti.
7. Goddess Meenakshi
Goddess Meenakshi, one of the incarnations of Goddess Parvati, was born to a childless King Malayadwaja Pandyan and Queen Kanchanamala of Madurai from a fire pit. She was called Meenakshi because of her fish-shaped eyes. The strange thing was the goddess had three breasts. The king was told that her third breast would disappear the day she met her soulmate.
She was raised as an undefeatable warier and crowned the kingdom’s successor. She reached Mount Kailash and met Lord Shiva as “Sundareshwor,” Her third breast disappeared in conquering the world. Thus, she took the Lord to her kingdom and got married.
According to Karna Parva of Mahabharata, King Malayadwaja died in the battle of Kurukshetra. Goddess Meenakshi ascended to the throne immediately after the Mahabharata war and ruled the kingdom with Lord Shiva as a mortal.
8. Fisherwoman Parvati
When Parvati lost her concentration while Shiva was explaining the mysteries of the Universe and Vedas, he cursed her to be reborn in mortal land as a fisherwoman to learn to concentrate. After this curse, Parvati immediately disappeared and was born as a baby girl sheltered under a large tree, who was then found by the chief of the fisherman of that area.
The fisherman took her in as his daughter and named her “Parvati.” She grew up to be a beautiful woman, and to get her back, Lord Shiva also took the form of a fisherman, impressed Parvati, and got married to her.
9. Andakhasura – Asura Son of Parvati
As mentioned in Shiva Purana, one day, when Parvati covered Shiva’s eyes from behind, Parvati’s hand sweated from the massive energy, and a sweat droplet fell on the ground. From the sweat was born a dark blind child. Shiva and Parvati named their son Andakha (meaning born in darkness). Later Shiva offered Andakha to asura Hiranyaksha, who has prayed Shiva for a child.
Over time, Andakha, who was granted a boon from Brahma, tried to abduct the gorgeous goddess Parvati without knowing that she was his mother. Later Shiva fought with Andakha and taught him a lesson, which made him realize that goddess Parvati was his real mother. Andakha realizing his mistakes, asked for forgiveness and forgiven by both Shiva and Parvati.
10. Vahana (Vehicle) of Goddess Parvati
Vahana of goddess Parvati is a lion named ‘Dawon,’ also a half tiger. The gods offered Dawon to serve the goddess Parvati as her vahana (vehicle). In Hindu stories, Dawon is also known as Ghatokbahini Singha, i.e., a hybrid of lion and tiger. (Vehicles of Hindu Gods and Goddesses)