It’s a Parvati Party

Holy Hanuman, Hindu mythology sure is complicated! I guess that’s what you get when many different religious groups are combined into one. Modern Hinduism deals pretty heavily with aspects, that are only a few true gods (or in some views only one), but they manifest themselves to humanity in many different ways. I’ve never quite understood why it’s such a popular belief that gods all have multiple personalities, but there you go. One goddess who comes up quite a lot is Parvati, who has at least 1000 different names and probably just as many personalities to match.

As Shakti, she represents cosmic energy and feminine creative power, because apparently even the very forces that give the universe order enforce gender stereotypes. No, actually the Wikipedia article indicates that this power can manifest in men as well, so maybe we should be generous and interpret “masculine” and “feminine” in this sense as simply convenient labels, even if they’re somewhat sexist ones.

Durga, the invincible, is the purest manifestation of the ultimate power in creation, and is associated as the slayer of the demon Durgamaasura.

Kali is the dark, fierce one, whose anger is terribly destructive but also leads to renewal and change.

Ambika is the goddess of motherhood and family. It appears that the name Parvati literally means “daughter of the mountain” in Sanskrit, although it’s also been linked to the word pavitra, meaning “holy.” It appears that Parvati was originally known primarily as a mountain goddess, the daughter of Himavan, deity of the Himalayas.

In all of her better-known manifestations, Parvati is associated with Shiva, one of the three main Hindu gods. She’s usually identified as his wife, and when in the form of Kali it’s Shiva who restrains her anger. According to mythology, Shiva’s first wife was named Sati, but her father Daksha disapproved of the marriage. This eventually led Sati to suicide by immolation, and Shiva to retire in grief to the life of a mountain hermit. Although it took a long time to do so, Parvati eventually won Shiva over, and it was revealed that she was the reincarnation of Sati.

Together, they are the parents of the demon-killing war god Kartikeya and the elephant-headed Ganesh, although the latter is sometimes said to be the offspring of Parvati without Shiva being involved, sort of like how Hephaestus is occasionally regarded as the child of Hera with no male assistance.

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3 Responses to It’s a Parvati Party

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