Sati & Parvati


Hello beautiful souls! I am Parvati, wife of Shiva, and I am here to tell you about how I came to be married to my husband...

Lord Shiva meditating

            Shiva was meditating on a cold, ever-snowy peak. Madan (also known as Kama), the God of Love, told me that his mind and heart was always dwelling on his wife Sati who had died, and at present, it was no different. Madan had brought me in front of Shiva, but he had not told me why. It seemed to be a task for the gods, so I was willing to do it. I gazed at Shiva's long slender legs folded in front of him, his leopard fur loincloth disheveled from lack of care, his wild hair with the River Ganga trickling down to the earth from it. He wore snakes around his neck and looked unkempt, yet he was beautiful. Now, you must be thinking that Madan's magic must have begun to work already, but rest assured that was not the case. After I had gotten a good look at Shiva, Madan began to change the scenery. He melted all the snow, leaving fresh roses and tulips and saplings of all sorts of fragrant trees in a soft breezy environment. It was the perfect weather for romance! Shiva sensed something changing and opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was me, and it was love at first sight. We stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Then Shiva sensed something amiss and turned to look in the direction of Madan hiding behind a tree. A blinding flame erupted from the third eye on Shiva's forehead, cindering the poor god. Then Shiva went back to meditating, having overcome that wisp of love. 

Shiva burning Madan with his third eye
Source: Om Namah ShivayaS.L. Goomar. 1997.

            I did not know what to do. I had fallen madly in love with Shiva, but I knew he would not open his eyes again. Narada noticed my restlessness and consoled me. "The only way to get Shiva's attention now," he told me, "is through meditation on your part. You must strip all of your worldly possessions and meditate on the peak of a mountain just as Lord Shiva does. I am sure you can do it if you put your heart into it." I knew such penance was very harsh and difficult to do, but I couldn't imagine living without Shiva. I decided I would pray to him until he appeared before me, or I would die worshiping him. I did as Narada advised me, and I became one with the nature around me. 

The animals telling me the story of Sati while I meditated

            I do not know how long I stood there, but I learned the entire story of Sati through the living things around me. They told me that she had been a princess named Dakshayani who had loved Shiva just as I love him now. She had decided to worship him night and day to please him and that she had even given up food. Eventually, Shiva came before her and asked her to marry him, as he knew this is what she wanted. Sati was very happy and immediately said yes. However, her father, the arrogant King Daksha, was not happy with her choice. He thought of Shiva as a dirty ascetic and made it clear to Sati that he did not approve of the marriage. Sati did not care, and she happily married Shiva. A while later, Daksha organized a grand prayer, inviting all the gods and goddesses except for Shiva. Even Sati had not been invited. Shiva tried to dissuade her from going, but she was adamant, saying it was, after all, her parents' house. Daksha was rude and unwelcoming to his daughter and eventually they got into a heated argument about Shiva. Sati could not believe all these cruel things she was hearing about her wonderful husband, and she realized she was the cause of this. Her father was insulting Shiva because she had married him. She couldn't bear the thought of causing dishonor to her husband and, saying a prayer that she may one day be born to a father who respects Shiva, she threw herself into the prayer fire. 

The self-immolation of Sati

Shiva's wrath was terrible to behold. He created monsters who mutilated and murdered almost all of the people at the scene, including Daksha. Shiva came and performed his violent, wrathful Rudra Tandava of destruction with Sati's burned corpse on his shoulders. He was on the verge of destroying the entire universe when Vishnu came and allowed Sati's body to separate into 51 different pieces around the world. Only then did Shiva gain some of his composure. He allowed those who had died to come back to life, but because Daksha was the root of Sati's self-immolation, he was turned into a goat. The memory of Sati remains in his heart to this day, and she is his primary focus during his times of meditation. As the animals finished this story, I thought I would die from all the emotions flowing through me. This story of Sati felt as though it was my story from a past life. I felt as though I finally understood the mysterious Shiva. Suddenly, I sensed a powerful presence near me. 

       
The brahmin who appeared before me while I was meditating
Source: Om Namah Shivaya. S.L. Goomar. 1997.
    
            I opened my eyes, but all I saw was an ordinary brahmin. Still, I offered him some fruits; he asked me why I was praying so intensely and I told him I wanted to marry Shiva. To my dismay, he began to laugh and derided Shiva. I felt as though I was Sati all over again, trying to defend Shiva to my father Daksha. I could not stand it, and I angrily told him that Shiva was the greatest being in the Universe and to leave at once. I turned to go into my hut when I heard the most beautiful voice: "I am pleased, Parvati." I turned around and saw Shiva standing in front of me. He was even more beautiful than I remembered. "What is it you wish, Parvati?" he asked me, and I told him that I wanted to marry him. "So it shall be," he said with a smile. And on the 14th day of the month of Phalguna, the day after the new moon, we were married and that day is celebrated as Maha Shivratri today!

Shiva and I overlooking the world 


Author's note: 

        I decided to have Parvati tell the story of how she met Shiva and what it took to win his heart, especially since Shiva was still devastated over the loss of Sati. I left out why Madan and the rest of the gods wanted Parvati and Shiva to fall in love. It was because a demon named Tarak had won invincibility from Brahma, and the only one who could kill him was a son of Shiva. Shiva and Parvati did indeed have a son named Kartikeya who grew up and destroyed Tarak. Since my focus was on Parvati, I had her be ignorant to all that. She was willing to serve the gods no matter what, so it showed her good character. Parvati is the reincarnation of Sati and one of the three supreme goddesses, or devis. (The other two--Lakshmi, wife of Vishnu, and Saraswati, wife of Brahma--make up the other two parts of the Tridevi.) Generally, people who have been reincarnated do not remember their past lives, but sometimes their past can resurface in various forms, creating that déjà vu feeling. I tried to show some of that with Parvati while she meditated and afterward when Shiva insulted himself in disguise as a brahmin. Sati had also taken the same path in order to please Shiva and marry him, and she too faced criticism from someone who she would have considered respectable. Sati's act, also called "suttee" of throwing herself into the fire has been practiced by many Hindu widows who do so (or are forced into it) on the funeral pyres of their husbands, although it is illegal and frowned upon by most groups--even Hindu scholars. Also, the month of Phalguna is one from the Hindu calendar, and it usually falls between the 20th of February to the 21st of March. 

Bibliography:
Om Namah Shivaya. S.L. Goomar. 1997. 
"Dakshyani". Website: Wikipedia

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