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For other uses, see Parvati (disambiguation).
WLA lacma Hindu Goddess Parvati Orissa.jpg
Devanagari पार्वती
Sanskrit Transliteration Pārvatī
Affiliation Tridevi, Adi Parashakti, Devi, Shakti
Abode Mount Kailash
Mantra Om Bhagawateh Parvate Namah
Consort Shiva
Children Kartikeya, Ganesha
Mount Tiger, Lion and Nandi (bull)

Parvati (Devanagari: पार्वती, IAST: Pārvatī) is known as the motherly form of Mother Goddess Gauri Jagadamba, Parvati is another form of Shakti, the wife of Shiva and the gentle aspect of Maha Devi or Durga, the Great Goddess. Parvati is considered to be a complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti or Goddess Durga, 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 Sati, being the reincarnation of Shiva's first wife. Parvati is the mother of the Gods Ganesha, Kartikeya, Ashoka Sundari. Some communities also believe her to be the sister of Vishnu. She is also regarded as the daughter of King Himavan. Parvati, when depicted alongside Shiva, generally appears with two arms, but when alone, she is depicted having four, eight or ten arms, and is astride on a tiger or lion. Generally considered a benevolent Goddess, Parvati also has wrathful incarnations, such as Durga, Kali, Tara, Chandi, and the Dasha Mahavidyas (ten great wisdoms) Kali, Tara, Tripur Sundari (Shodashi), Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagla Mukhi, Matangi and Kamala, as well as benevolent forms like Katyayani, Maha Gauri, Kamalatmika, Bhuvaneshwari and Lalita.


Parvati as four-armed Lalita with her sons Ganesha and Skanda, Odisha, India. 11th century sculpture from the British Museum. 1872,0701.54 .

Parvata is one of the Sanskrit words for "mountain"; "Parvati" translates to "She of the mountains" and refers to Parvati being born the daughter of Himavan, lord of the mountains and the personification of the Himalayas. Other which associate her with mountains are Shailaja (Daughter of the mountains), Adrija or Nagajaa or Shailaputri (Daughter of Mountains), 'Haimavathi' (Daughter of Himavan) and 'Girija' or 'Girirajaputri' (Daughter of king of the mountains).[1] Parvati's name is also sometimes considered a form of 'pavitra', meaning 'sinless' or 'holy' in Sanskrit. Her consort is Shiva and she is the sagun swaroop of the Supreme Being Adi Parashakti that is the material form of the supreme power.

She is also known by 108 names from the Durga Saptashati. These include Durga (invincible), Shakti (power), Ambika ('dear mother'), Gauri ('fair complexioned'), Bhairavi ('ferocious'), Kali ('dark'), Umā, Lalita, Mataji ('revered mother'), Sahana ('pure'),[2] Maheshwari ('great goddess'). Bhavani, Shivaradni ('Queen of Shiva'), and many hundreds of others. The Lalita sahasranama contains an authoritative listing of 1,000 names of Parvati.

Two of Parvati's most famous epithets are Uma and Aparna. The name Uma is used for Sati in earlier texts, 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').[3]

The apparent contradiction that Parvati is addressed as the fair one, Gauri, as well as the dark one, Kali or Shyama is a philosophical matter. It suggests that the one calm and placid wife, Uma, in times of danger, can transfer back to her primal fierce and angry or (sometimes) Maternal nature as Kali, who stands uncloaked, with a foot on her husband's chest. The twin opposite colors, white and black represent the two opposing nature of the Goddess. Parvati is also the goddess of love and devotion, or Kamakshi.

Goddess of power[edit]

Parvati is the source of all the powers and weapons. She is the base of all kinds of powers that are used for doing any work. 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. That is why she is considered as goddess of power. Indeed, she is most powerful of all. When her anger reaches its peak, she can destroy the whole universe in just seconds. Even Trinity i.e. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, never try to make her angry at any cost.[4]

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 goddess of all beings (sarveshe), in whom all power exists (Sarvashakti samanvite) and who destroys all fear (bhaye bhyastrai no devi)

Rise to prominence[edit]

Parvati herself does not explicitly appear in Vedic literature, though the Kena Upanishad (3.12) contains a goddess called Uma-Haimavati.[5] 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.[6] 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.."[5] Both textual and archaeological evidence suggests Sati-Parvati appears in the epic period (400 BC–400 AD), as both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata present Parvati as Shiva's wife.[5] 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.[7] Kinsley adds that Parvati may have emerged from legends of non-aryan goddesses that lived in mountains.[1]

Prof. Weber suggests that like Shiva is combination of various Vedic gods Rudra and Agni, the Puranic Parvati is a combination of Uma, Haimavati, Ambika and earlier Parvati, identified as wives of Rudra; of others like Kali, who could be a wife of Agni and of Gauri and others inspired by Nirriti.[8] 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.[9]

Birth and marriage[edit]

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.[10] Sati is reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavat and Minavati, and is named Parvati, 'daughter of Himavant ' .[11] Sati, as well as Parvati, are considered manifestations of Mahadevi, the great Goddess.[11] 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.[3] According to Devi Bhagawata Purana and Shiva Purana mount Himalaya and his wife Mena perform extreme austerities to appease the goddess Adi Shakti. Pleased with their penance the Adi Shakti agrees to be born as their daughter. When born goddess Parvati has four arms and manifests a divine light which pervades the entire Himalaya region on the auspicious tritiya day. Mena implores to the child to withdraw its four armed form and make herself visible as a two armed normal child to which the goddess agrees and becomes a normal girl child.

Wall carvings in Ellora Caves- A scene depicting Kalyanasundara - the wedding of Shiva (four armed figure, right) and Parvati (two armed, left).

Parvati is depicted as interested in Shiva's tales and appearance from her very birth and eventually remembering her previous life as Sati.[11] 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 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.[12]

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 birth of Kumara, and the eventual resurrection of Kamadeva after Parvati intercedes for him to Shiva.

Main forms of Parvati[edit]

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.
  • Nava Durga nine forms of goddess Parvati

Several Incarnations of the Goddess[edit]

  • Goddess Meenakshi
  • Goddess Kamakshi
  • Goddess Lalita, the Original Goddess of Universe, Parvati is referred as her complete incarnation.
  • Goddess Akhilandeshwari.
  • Goddess Annapurna the representation of all that is complete and of food is Parvati Herself.

And many others[13]

Association with Shiva[edit]

Ardhanarishvara, Elephanta Caves. The sculpture's left is female and the right is male, depicting Parvati and Shiva.

Parvati's legends are intrinsically related to Shiva. In the goddess-oriented Shakta texts, that she is said to transcend even Shiva, and is identified as the Supreme Being.[1] 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, re

Shiva and Parvati, India

presented by Shiva.[14] 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.[15]

Parvati tames Shiva, the "great unpredictable madman" with her presence.[14] 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.[16] In many myths, Parvati is not as much his complement as his rival, tricking, seducing, or luring him away from his ascetic practices.[16]

Three images are central to the mythology, iconography and philosophy of Parvati:

  1. The theme of Shiva-Shakti
  2. The image of Shiva as Ardhanarishvara (the Lord who is half-woman)
  3. 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.[17]

Parvati as Annapurna, giving alms to Shiva.

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.[18] 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".[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]

Aum Girijayai cha vidmahe Shivapriyayai cha dhimahi tanno durgah prachodayat

May the goddess Durga, who is the daughter of the mountains and the beloved of lord Shiva illumine me with spiritual wisdom

Sarvamangala mangalye shive sarvardha sadhike sharanye tryambake gouri narayani namostute

I bow down to and take the refuge of the three eyed Mother Gouri(Parvati) of fair countenance,who is the embodiment of supreme auspiciousness,the giver of all the benedictions,the beloved of Lord Shiva and the power of lord Narayana.

Relationship to Vishnu[edit]

During the initial stages when Parvathi was performing intense puja to Shiva to obtain Shiva as her husband, Shiva kept testing her by destroying the Shiva lingam she constructed to perform puja. Vishnu then helped in constructing a Shiva lingam for Parvati which was not destroyed by Shiva because of the respect Shiva had towards Vishnu.Thus Vishnu helped Paravthi in continuing her puja for Shiva. This is when Parvathi tied a knot to Vishnu's hand and claimed him as her brother. This is the reason during the marriage of Shiva and Parvathi, Vishnu got involved in all the ceremonies that are supposed to be done by the bride’s brother. This is how Parvati is related to Vishnu as a sister.

The interesting story about the relationship between Vishnu and Parvati is more clearly depicted in Markandeya Purana where it is said that Mahalakshmi or Durga was the only one. Then she transforms into Mahakali and Mahasarasvati. After which she ask them to evolve pair. Here Mahalakshmi gives rise to brahma and lakshmi, Mahakali evolved Shiv and Saraswati while Mahasarsvati gave rise to Vishnu and parvati. Then Mahalakshmi ordered rest to interchange pairs for marriage and Shiv was provided with parvati, vishnu with lakshmi and brahma with saraswati. Its quite interesting that Mahasarsvati who is goddess of education gives birth to parvati and vishnu and both of them in future tells Geeta to Himalaya and Arjun respectively.

Mother of Ganesha[edit]

Shiva pouring water on the head of baby Ganesha, who is being held by Parvati

Though Ganesh is considered a son of Shiva and Parvati, the Matsya Puran, Shiva Puran and Skand Puran ascribe his birth to Parvati only, without any form of participation of Shiva.

Once while Parvati yearned 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 prepared to cleanse her body, and infused life into it, instructed by her great form, Shakti, and thus Ganesh was born. Parvati was overjoyed that her own son was born and she ordered Ganesh not to allow anyone to enter the house. Ganesh obediently followed his mother's orders. After a while Shiva returned and tried to enter the house, and Ganesh stopped him. Shiva asked the child very politely to move but failed. Lord Shiva assigned his armed men to straighten out the boy, however, the boy wasn't scared of Lord Shiva's men. Ganesh was a proficient warrior and beat them with his beating stick. The Gods, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, had watched the ordeal from above, and went to tell they Shiva that his men were beaten by the boy. Shiva told Lord Vishnu and Brahma that a naughty boy has appeared in Kailash. Lord Brahma and Vishnu came up with the idea that they would disguise themselves as saints, and would go discipline the boy. When the disguised saints appeared before Ganesh, he was unaware of Lord Brahma's and Vishnu's hidden identities. The saints tried to set the boy straight, and make him apologize to Shiva but failed. Indra, who was also watching, came down with his huge heavenly army.

Parvati came to know of her son's predicament. In a fit of fury she created two Goddesses, Kali and Gauri. Parvati ordered them to help Ganesh kill the army of Indra. When the army tried to attack Ganesh, Gauri and Kali attacked them first. Kali used her scimitar to behead the soldiers of Indra, while Gauri used her trident to impale them. Meanwhile, Indra fled the battlefield and passed on news to Shiva that Kali and Gauri were aiding Ganesh. Shiva arrived at the battlefield, where Ganesh was standing. Once again Shiva asked the boy to move out of the way, but the boy refused. Ganesh then waged a war. Shiva lost his temper and beheaded Ganesh with his trident.

When Parvati came out and saw her son's lifeless body, she was consumed by anger. She asked Lord Shiva why he killed Ganesh. Lord Shiva tried to make Parvati understand what happened, but she wouldn't listen. She immediately revealed all of her female forms which runs as follows: Devi, Shakti, Adi Shakti, Parameshwari, Gauri, Jagadamba, Maha Shakti, Bhagawati, Bhadrakali, Chandika, Kaushiki, Mahakali, Tridevi, Mahadevi, Ambika, Jagatjanani, Mateshwari, Uma, Narayani, Singhavahini, Aparajita, Vyaghravahini, Bhavani, Yudhadevi, Yogmaya, Mahamaya, Sherawali, Vindhyavasini, Rajarajeshwari, Kalika, Gayatri, Shaambhavi, Bhramari, Jumadi, Akhilandeshwari, Kamakshi, Mahadurga, Prathyangira, Meenakshi, Ramchandi, Ishwari, Gatral, Bahuchara, Hingalaj, Nagbai, Varaki, Dhavdi, Sadhi, Hadkai, Vihat, Vaishnodevi, Santoshi, Mogal, Pithad, Meldi, Umiya, Momai, Amba, Khodiyar, Jagadhatri, Modheshwari, Guhyakali, Shitala, Raktachamunda, Durga, Kali, Tarini, Shodashi (Lalita/Tripursundari), Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi, Kamalatmika, Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, Siddhidatri, Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshwari, Kaumari, Indrani, Varahi, Narasimhi, Shivduthi, Chamundai, Yamdevi, Kauberi, Saranyu, Swadha, Varuni, Vayudevi, Rohini, Ganeshi, Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi, Jaya, Vijaya, Savitri, Trishi, Dhiriti, Bhima, Jambhini, Mohini, Tripur, Rudrani and Chandavigrah, all armed with countless number of hands holding many weapons or faces. The female manifestations of Parvati asked for their orders, in front of the Trinity and the huge army of Gods. Seeking retribution for her son's death, Parvati ordered all of her forms to attack the Gods. The Goddesses obeyed their Mother's orders and attacked. They blew storms out of their mouths, burned the Gods alive, beheaded them, decapitated them by eating their skin, ate them alive, scratched them, choked them, impaled them through their chests, drank their blood, broke their bones and their necks, twisted their hands and legs, and swung them away. The Gods were getting slaughtered. All other creatures (humans, animals, Gods, and saints) were also destroyed in the raging fire.

Parvati then released her form as the Goddess Adi-Parashakti, also having endless hands holding weapons and began to destroy mountains, houses, and others. She demanded the Trinity of Gods to resurrect her son by night or she would destroy all of creation, and all the Gods including the Trinity. The Trinity obeyed her order. Later, she vanished off to destroy the universe.

Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Indra, Demi Gods and Shiva's men gazed upon the destruction Adi-Parashakti had caused. They found that one creature, an elephant, survived the carnage. Lord Shiva was overjoyed by this discovery. Lord Vishnu cut off the same elephant's head with his discus, as it would be used to replace the boy's head. Lord Brahma honored the creatures sacrifice and created a new head for the elephant. The elephant's severed head was then attached to Ganesh's body, bringing him back to life.

Adi-Parashakti was busy destroying the universe and her forms killing the Gods to notice her son's resurrection, until she heard a tiny voice: 'Mother?' Goddess Adi-Parashakti knew it was her son, Ganesh. Adi-Parashakti called back all her forms to see her son. Shiva showed the Goddess and her forms to see her son and his new head. The Gods, Trinity, Indra and other Gods sung her in a song to ask for forgiveness which runs as follows:

'Salutations to the Goddess. Salutations to that great Goddess who is the consort of Shiva, Salutations to her who is nature and she who takes care of every thing. We are saluting her with veneration after controlling our mind.

Salutations and salutations to her who does only good, who blesses all those salting her, who is greatly powerful and who is taking care of the world. Salutations and salutations to her who is the demon power, who is the power behind the kings and who is the wife of Shiva. Always salutations to her who can take over sorrow, who can take us to the other shore of sorrow, who is the cause behind everything, who is very famous, who is black in colour and who is of the colour of smoke.

We salute her who is beyond peace and anger and offer our salutations. Many salutations to her who is the basis of the entire universe, who is the power behind devas and who is action oriented. Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who is soul power in all beings.

Salutations, salutations and salutations to that goddess who is root power in action of all beings. Salutations, salutations and salutations to that goddess who lives in all beings as power of intellect.

Salutations, salutations and salutations to that goddess who lives in all beings as power of sleep Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of hunger.

Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of hunger. Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of inner strength.

Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of saving and storage. Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of patience.

Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of oneness in many. Salutations, salutations and salutations to that goddess who lives in all beings as power of shame.

Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of peace. Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of understanding.

Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of light. Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of wealth or God given assets.

Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of work. Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of memory.

Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of mercy, Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of happiness bore out of sufficiency. Salutations, salutations and salutations to that Goddess who lives in all beings as power of delusion.

Salutations and salutations to that Goddess who is the inner power and soul behind organs performing daily actions, organs performing intellectual pursuits and is the source power behind the five elements viz. earth, water, air, fire and ether. Salutations, salutations and salutations who as the form of micro power has spread all over the universe. Let that Goddess who brings good to us Who was praised in the olden times by Gods like Brahma, Who is daily being served by Indra for getting his works done, who is being praised by us Gods who are being troubled by demons, who is praised and remembered by us because devotion to her solves all our problems even when we are thinking about her and who is the reason for all good things in the world. Let her destroy all our problems.

After the song, the Goddess Adi-Parashati and her forms saw Ganesh, with a new elephant's head. The Gods would think that the Goddess will not accept her son but she did accept her new son, even though if he was different, she ordered all her forms to surround her and go back in her body, and stop fighting. Her forms did that and Adi-Parashati ordered the Gods that her son will be first worshipped among the Gods, then took back her form as Parvati. She was happy again, she, repaired the broken bones of the Gods, humans, saints etc. With the mountains too and houses.


Statue at the Mayuranathaswami Temple, Mayiladuthurai depicting Parvathi in the form of a peahen worshipping a shivalinga, the symbol of god Shiva

Naturally, Parvati’s unique characteristics have become more and more obscured, as she absorbed more and more goddesses into her iconography. Therefore, her depictions have become rather generic today. When shown with Shiva, she carries a blue lotus in full bloom, shows the abhaya mudra (hand gesture of fearlessness) and usually has one of her children on her knee. The only hint of her former occult status is the somewhat languid appearance of her eyes, as one who has recently emerged from deep meditation. Other goddesses are usually shown with large staring eyes as this is considered a mark of beauty. The consorts of the other two Gods of the trinity, Saraswati and Lakshmi, may be depicted alone, but Parvati hasn’t been depicted this way for many centuries.

The goddess is usually represented as a fair and beautiful.[22] The colour of her vestments is milk-white, the colour of enlightenment and knowledge. Since white is a combination of all hues it shows that She has all the qualities or Gunas. Since white also depicts huelesness, it indicates that She is devoid of all Gunas. Hence, She is referred to as Trigunatmika (having the three gunas—Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas)—and at the same time being Nirguna (without any gunas). She has three eyes. Her accoutrements tend to be those of a Rishi (seer). She is also usually depicted with jatamukuta or a crown of matted hair, as Shiva is usually depicted. She is also shown as having a crescent moon bound in her locks, like Shiva.

Images of Parvati, wearing a sacred thread something not many women are associated with and as this marks the second-birth or dwija it is seems an advanced concept far beyond early pashupatas, and with her hair styled in a top knot like a Rishi (seer) survive into the Chola period (approximately ninth century A.D.). In fact, these two particularities were the only means of distinguishing her statuary from the images of the Goddess Shri of the time.[citation needed]

Her Mudras (symbolic hand gestures) are Kataka—fascination and enchantment, Hirana—the antelope, the powers of nature and the elusive, Tarjani—gesture of menace, and Chandrakal—the moon, a symbol of intelligence. Kataka must be affected by one of the foremost hands as it is a means of drawing the worshiper closer. Tarjani must be described with the left hand, which symbolises contempt, and usually in the back set of hands. If Parvati is depicted with two hands, then Tarjani and Chandrakal may be dropped but Hirana and Kataka are signature except in very modern representations, where Abhaya (fearlessness), and Varada, (beneficence), are used.

Association with other goddesses[edit]

Parvati as Meenakshi

In several myths, the presence of a dark, violent side of this otherwise benign Parvati is suggested. When approached by the gods to defeat demons, Parvati morphs back to her true self, shakti, which 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.[14] In Linga Purana, Parvati summons 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. She ran around the three worlds in her mad, blind fury and creation was endangered. To lower Kali's rage, Shiva appeared as a crying baby in the middle of a battlefield.[23] The cries of the baby raised the maternal instinct of Kali who started breast-feeding Shiva and resorted back to her benign form as Parvati.[24] Kali is associated and identified with Parvati as Shiva's consort.[25]

In Skanda Purana, Parvati is said to have assumed a form of a warrior-goddess and defeated a demon called Durg who assumes the form of a buffalo. Thereafter, she is by the name Durga.[26] In myths relating to her defeat of demons Sumbha and Nisumbha, Durga emerges from Parvati when Parvati sheds her outer sheath, which takes an identity of its own as a warrior goddess.[26]

Although Parvati is considered to be synonymous with Kali, Durga, Kamakshi, Meenakshi, Gauri and many others in modern day Hinduism, many of these “forms” or incarnations originated from different sects, or traditions, and the distinctions from Parvati are pertinent.[27]

The Shastras (sanctioned works of religious doctrine) attribute the golden colour of goddess Gauri’s skin and ornaments to the story of Parvati casting off her unwanted dark complexion after Shiva teased her, but the cult of Gauri tells a different story. Gauri is in essence a fertility Goddess, and is venerated as a corn mother which would seem to suggest that she owes her colouring to the hues of ripening grain, for which she is propitiated.[28]

So whatever be said, Goddess Parvati has two main forms, what actually shaktas says out of which one is Lalita who is Supreme in Srikula family of shaktism and second one is Durga or kali who is supreme in kalikula family.

Attainment of the name Durga[edit]

Demon Durgasur takes over the three worlds by absorbing the vedas which are the sources of power to the gods by the grace of Lord Brahma. The Gods go to Lord Shiva for help who requests Parvati to kill Durgasur. The reason being, Parvati, the original representation of Adi Shakti, the source of power to the vedas themselves, could palpably be the only recourse to destroy Durgasur even if he had the vedas protecting him. She creates a clone of herself in the form of a damsel messenger known as Kaal Ratri. Parvati orders Kaal Ratri to go to Durgasur to send a message to him asking him to surrender heaven back to the gods. Kaal Ratri tells Durgasur that Parvati had sent her as a messenger and gave him a chance to surrender.Durgasur,furious,orders his soldiers to take her to custody. Kaal Ratri assumes a gigantic size as her annihilative form and vanishes. Back at Kailasa Parvati imbues Kaal Ratri inside her body again and appears in the war field to fight Durgasur. Parvati gives her introduction to Durgasur that she is nature,the primodial power, not any God, man or a demon and after a long battle destroys him. Since she destroyed the demon durgasur she was henceforth praised by the gods as Durga

This story has been taken from Srimad Devi Bhagavata Mahapurana. There is a general confusion in India regarding Durga being a combination of Parvati,Lakshmi and Sarasvati. But this is false as Durga is a form of Parvati. There has never been an involvement of Lakshmi or Sarasvati regarding Durga unlike those shown in popular mythological television shows. The exact chapter of how Parvati(without Lakshmi or Sarasvati's involvement) takes the form of Durga is from the 7th book 28th chapter of Devi Bhagavata Mahapurana. The exact word to word translation is found in इति संप्रार्थिता देवी भुवनेशी महेश्वरी। अनंताक्षिमयं रूपं दर्शयामास पार्वती॥३३॥ नीलांजनसमप्रख्यं नीलपद्मायतेक्षणम्। सुकर्कशसमोत्तुङ्गवृत्तपीनघनस्तनम्॥३४॥ Iti Sam-Praarthitaa Devii Bhuvane(a-Ii)shii Mahe[a-Ii]shvarii | Ananta-Akssimayam Ruupam Darshayaamaasa Paarvatii ||33|| Niilaanjana-Sama-Prakhyam Niila-Padma-Ayate[i-A]kssannam | Su-Karkasha-Samo[a-U]ttungga-Vrtta-Piina-Ghana-Stanam ||34||

Meaning: 33.1: Thus, when the Brahmins Prayed together to the Devi Bhuvaneshi Maheswari, ... 33.2: ... Devi Parvati Manifested Herself in a Divine Form shining with innumerable Eyes, 34.1: Her Color was distinct like the Dark-Blue Collyrium, and Her Eyes were wide like Blue Lotuses, 34.2: Her Breasts were High, Firm and Round.

In this verse the specific use of the word Parvati shows that Durga is but a form of Parvati.

Even later in the Devi Bhagavata Purana 9th book chapter one,Prakriti khanda Lord Narayana describes Durga as one of the 5 forms of Adi Shakti but specifically calls her the mother of Lord Ganesha and wife of Lord Shiva. Lord Narayana tells Narada "By Her command came out five Forms of Her, either for the purpose of creation or for bestowing Favour and Grace to the Bhaktas (devotees). Durgâ the Mother of Lord Ganesha, comes, as the first, the most auspicious, loved by Lord Shiva. She is Nârâyanî, Visnu Mâyâ, and of the nature of Pûrna Brahmâ (the Supreme Brahmâ). This eternal, all auspicious Devî is the Presiding Deity of all the Devas and is, therefore, worshipped and praised by Brahmâ and the other Devas, Munis, and Manus. This Bhagavatî Durgâ Devî, (when She gets pleased) destroys all the sorrows, pains and troubles of the Bhaktas that have taken Her refuge, and gives them Dharma, everlasting name and fame, all auspicious things and bliss and all the happiness, nay, the Final Liberation! "

Worship and festivals[edit]


Parvati worshipped as Gauri

The Gowri Habba, or Gauri Festival, is celebrated on the seventh, eighth, ninth of Bhadrapada Shukla paksha. She is worshipped as the goddess of harvest and protectress of women. Her festival, chiefly observed by women, is closely associated with the festival of her son Ganesha (Ganesh Chaturthi). The festival is popular in Maharashtra and Karnataka.[29]

In Rajasthan the worship of Gauri happens during the Gangaur festival. The festival starts on the first day of Chaitra the day after Holi and continues for 18 days. Images of Issar and Gauri are made from Clay for the festival.

Another very popular festival in regard to the Mother Parvati is Navratri, in which all her manfestations are worshiped for nine days. Actually the festival is associated with Her warrior appearance is Mother Durga, with her nine forms i.e. Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kashmunda, Skandmata, Katyani, Kalratri, Mahagauri, Siddhidaatri.

Another festival Gauri tritiya is celebrated from Chaitra shukla third to Vaishakha shukla third. It is believed that Parvati spends a month at her parent's home now. This festival is popular in Maharashtra and Karnataka, less observed in North India and unknown in Bengal. The unwidowed women of the household erect a series of platforms in a pyramidal shape with the image of the goddess at the top and collection of ornaments, images of other Hindu deities, pictures, shells etc. below. Neighbours are invited and presented with turmeric, fruits, flowers etc. as gifts. At night, prayers are held by singing and dancing.Down south in Tamil Nadu and Andhra The Kethara Gauri Vritham festival is celebrated on the new moon day of Diwali and the unwidowed women of the family fast for the whole day and prepare sweets and worship the goddess for the well-being of the family[30]

Famous temples[edit]

Annapurneshwari Temple, Cherukunnu, Kannur, Kerala is dedicated to an aspect of Parvati.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kinsley p.41
  2. ^ [1].
  3. ^ a b Wilkins pp.240-1
  4. ^ Sri Bhagwati Parvati Geeta |
  5. ^ a b c Kinsley p.36
  6. ^ Kena Upanisad, III.1–-IV.3, cited in Müller and in Sarma, pp. xxix-xxx.
  7. ^ Kinsley p.37
  8. ^ Weber in Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Purbnic By William J. Wilkins p.239
  9. ^ Tate p.176
  10. ^ Wilkins p.243
  11. ^ a b c Kinsley p.42
  12. ^ Kinsley p.43
  13. ^ Devi Bhagwat Purana, tantra Chudamani, Lalita Sahsaranaam
  14. ^ a b c Kinsley p.46
  15. ^ Kinsley p.35
  16. ^ a b Kinsley p.48
  17. ^ Kinsley p.49
  18. ^ Kennedy p.334
  19. ^ Tate, p.383
  20. ^ Coleman p.65
  21. ^ Kinsley, p. 26.
  22. ^ Wilkins pp.247
  23. ^
  24. ^ Kennedy p.338
  25. ^ Kinsley p.126
  26. ^ a b Kinsley p.96
  27. ^ Kinsley pp. 4
  28. ^ The Shaktas: an introductory comparative study Payne A.E. 1933 pp. ??
  29. ^ The Hindu Religious Year By Muriel Marion Underhill p.50 Published 1991 Asian Educational Services ISBN 81-206-0523-3
  30. ^ The Hindu Religious Year By Muriel Marion Underhill p.100


  • Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions (ISBN 81-208-0379-5) by David Kinsley
  • Researches Into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology by Vans Kennedy; Published 1831; Printed for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green; 494 pages; Original from Harvard University; Digitized Jul 11, 2005 [2]
  • Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic by William J. Wilkins; Published 2001 (first published 1882); Adamant Media Corporation; 463 pages; ISBN 1-4021-9308-4
  • Śiva, the Erotic Ascetic by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty
  • Mythology of the Hindus by Charles Coleman
  • Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations by Karen Tate

External links[edit]