A Simple Guide to Help Understand Hindu Gods

Parvati - Shiva's Second Wife

Lord Shiva's consort is Devi, the Mother-goddess and Divine Mother Energy. She appears in many different forms which including, Sati, the goddess of marital fidelity, the more peaceful Parvati (Uma in Thailand), and Kali, the goddess of death. Shiva's first wife was Sati whose father did not approve of her marriage to him so she committed suicide by jumping into a sacrificial fire and was reborn as Parvati. Sati was then reborn as Parvati, daughter of Himavan, king of the mountains, and his wife, Mena. This time, she was born the daughter of a father whom she could respect and who appreciated Shiva ardently. Naturally, Parvati sought Shiva as her husband.

Parvati is the second consort of Shiva and known as the Mother Goddess. Whenever Parvati is present, she is always at his side. Their relationship is one of equality. Shiva and Parvati are held up as the perfect example of marital bliss by many Hindus, and one is rarely depicted without the other. Parvati when depicted alongside Shiva appears with two arms, but when alone, she is shown having four arms.

It is Shiva's relationship with his wife, Parvati which brings him balance. Their union allows him to be an ascetic and a lover, but within the bounds of marriage. Parvati is consistently depicted with bare breasts and wearing a sacred thread. Bare breasts were considered a mark of divinity in ancient India and only those Goddesses who were exclusively divine may go about "sky clad", as it were. Clothes symbolized the body and earthly attachments whereas nudity was indicative of unfettered divinity. Shiva's relationship with Parvati is so strong that Shiva is sometimes represented as half man, half woman. His figure is split half way down the body, one half showing his body and the second half that of Parvati's.

Like Shiva, and perhaps the majority of us, Parvati has two personalities: she can be a gentle woman and mother but when she goes into a rage she turns into Kali the Terrible which is manifested to fight demons and save the universe.

Parvati is the Mother of
Ganesha and Kartikeya

Although Ganesha is considered the son of Shiva and Parvati, some ascribe the birth of Ganesha to Parvati only, without any form of participation of Shiva in Ganesha's birth.

Once, while Parvati wanted to take a bath, there were no attendants around to guard her and stop anyone from accidentally entering the house. Hence she created an image of a boy out of turmeric paste which she had prepared to cleanse her body, and infused life into it, and thus Ganesha was born. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house, and Ganesha obediently followed his mother's orders. After a while Shiva returned and tried to enter the house, Ganesha stopped him. Shiva was infuriated and severed Ganesha's head with his trident. When Parvati came out and saw her son's lifeless body, she was very sad and angry. In a fit of rage she turned into Kali the Terrible and demanded that Shiva restore Ganesha's life at once. Unfortunately, Shiva's trishula was so powerful that it had hurled Ganesha's head so far off that it could not be found. Finally, an elephant's head was attached to Ganesha's body, bringing him back to life. Still upset, Parvati demanded her son be made head of the celestial armies and worshipped by everyone before beginning any activity, and the gods accepted this condition.

As Parvati (Uma in Thailand) she is often shown with Shiva and their two sons Ganesha or Kartikeya. At these times, she is depicted with a benign countenance and only two hands - one holding a blue lotus and the other hanging free.

Parvati - Wikipedia

(Editor's note, March 19, 2010: This page is now being construction so come back again.)

For more information about our travels write toBelli.

Since November 20, 2003, you are visitor number