Goddess Parvati is known by different names like Lalita, Uma, Gauri, Kali, Durga, Haimavati etc. Two of her fierce but very powerful forms are Durga (Goddess beyond reach) and Kali (Goddess of Destruction). As the mother of the universe, Parvati is known as Amba and Ambika, which means 'mother'. As Lalita, she represents the aspect of beauty.
Appearance of Goddess Parvati
When shown along with Shiva, Goddess Parvati has only two hands, the right one holding a blue lotus and the left hanging loosely by the side. When represented independently, Parvati Ma is shown with four hands, two hands holding red and blue lotuses and the other two exhibiting the varada and Abhaya mudras.
Goddess Parvati has a charming personality. Married women adore Parvati for her happy married life. Picture of Lord Shiva, Parvathi and their sons Ganesha and Kartikeya depicts an ideal example of family unity and love.
Parvati as Sati or Dakshayani
According to Puranas, in her first incarnation, Parvati Devi was Sati or Dakshayani, the daughter of Daksa and was married to Lord Shiva. Once, Daksha performed a great yagna or sacrifice and insulted Lord Shiva by not inviting him or Sati. Even then, Sati went to attend the yagna. To her great disappointment, Daksha did not acknowledge her presence and did not offer prasad for Lord Shiva. Utterly depressed by the treatment meted out to her, Sati ended her life by igniting herself through the fire of yagna.
After the death of Sati, Lord Shiva became very sad and depressed. He renounced the world and went into deep meditation in the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas. Meanwhile, the demons lead by Taraka, rose from the netherworld and drove devas out of the heavens. The gods sought a warrior who would help them regain the celestial realm. Lord Brahma said, only Shiva can father such a warrior, but he is oblivious of the world.
At the persistence of the Gods, Sati agreed to take a re-birth as Parvati, the daughter of Himavan and Mena. It was only after performing intense austerities that Goddess Parvathi succeeded in pleasing Shiva and making him accept her again as his consort.
The Divine Homemaker
With Parvati by his side, Shiva became a family man. Inspired by her beauty, Shiva became the fountainhead of the arts, dance and drama. But he did not abandon his ways as a hermit and continued to meditate. His carefree attitude and his refusal to shoulder household responsibilities sometimes angered Parvati. But then she would come to terms with his unconventional ways and make peace. The consequent marital bliss between Shakti and Shiva ensured harmony between Matter and Spirit and brought stability and peace to the cosmos. Parvati thus became Ambika, Goddess of the household, marriage, motherhood and family.
Ten Aspects of Parvati
- Given here are the ten aspects of Parvati, termed as Dasamahavidyas. These are the representations of transcendent knowledge and power.
- The first is Kali who is the goddess of time that destroys everything.
- The second one, Tara is the power of golden embryo from which the universe evolves. She also stands for void or the boundless space.
- The third one Sodasi literally means 'one who is sixteen years old. She is the personification of fullness and perfection.
- The fourth, Vidya Bhuvanevari represents the forces of the material world.
- The fifth one, Bhairavi stands for desires and temptations leading to destruction and death.
- The sixth Vidya Chinnamasta represents the continued state of self-sustenance of the created world in which is seen continuous self-destruction and self-renewal, in a cyclic order. She is a naked deity holding her own severed head in hand and drinking her own blood.
- Dhumavati, the seventh one personifies the destruction of the world by fire, when only smoke (dhuma) from its ashes remains.
- The eighth, Vidya Bagala is a crane - headed goddess. She represents the ugly side of living creatures like jealously, hatred and cruelty.
- Matangi, the ninth Vidya is the embodiment power of domination.
- The tenth and the last Vidya Kamala is the pure consciousness of the self, bestowing boons and allaying the fears of the supplicants. She is identified with Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune.