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Parvati is the power and consort of Siva, the god of disintegration and destruction. A majority of goddesses of Hinduism are aspects and variations of Parvati. She is known by different names like Uma, Gauri, Kali, Durga, Haimavati etc.
Like her consort Siva, she also has two aspects: the mild and the terrible. When shown along with Siva she has only two hands, the right one holding a blue lotus and the left hanging loosely by the side. When represented independently she is shown with four hands, two hands holding red and blue lotuses and the other two exhibiting the varada and Abhaya mudras.
Her vehicle is Lion.
According to the Pauranic accounts, in her first incarnation, Parvati was Daksayani, the daughter of Daksa. She was married to Lord Siva. When Daksa undertook the performance of a great sacrifice, he insulted Siva by not inviting him or his wife. However, Daksayani went to the sacrifice uninvited and being insulted she ended her life by igniting herself through the fire of yaga. Hence she came to be known as Sati, the chaste one.
She was next reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavan and Mena. After performing intense austerities she succeeded in pleasing Siva and making him accept her again as his consort. As the mother of the universe, Parvati is known as Amba and Ambika which means 'mother'.
Aspects of Parvati
Ten aspects of Sakti are termed as Dasamahavidya's. 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 and 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 are 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 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.
The three major aspects of Parvati or Sakti (Devi) are Durga, Kali and Lalita. Durga and Kali represent the aspects of power of the goddess and Lalita represents the aspect of beauty.
Durga is the most widely worshipped aspect of Sakti. Durga represents the total personification powerof gods. Durga literally means one who is difficult to approach or difficult to know. Being the mother of the Universe she is the personification of tender love and possesses different forms and aspects.
Durga is the mysterious power, with the combination of both pleasant and terrible nature. She is the personification of knowledge, wisdom and memory. She is pleasant, beautiful and horrifying. This combination of opposite qualities is possible only for Durga.
According to the prayer of devotees this Devi assumes diverse forms. She is worshipped in 64 forms. Durga can have four, eight, ten, eighteen or even twenty hands. She has three eyes and her hair is dressed up as a crown (called karandamukuta). She is gorgeously dressed with red cloth and several ornaments. Among, the objects held in hands the more common ones are conch, discus, trident, bow, arrow, sword, dagger, shield, rosary, wine cup and bell. She may be shown as standing on a lotus or on a buffalos head or as riding a lion.
Kali is the most enigmatic form of the Hindu pantheon. The word Kali comes form the well known work Kala means time. Kali is the power of time. Kali is completely naked, except for an apron of human hands. She wears a garland of fifty human heads or skulls. Her luxuriant hair is completely disheveled. She has three eyes and four hands. In her upper hands she holds a freshly severed and bleeding human head and also the sword (or chopper) used in the carnage. The two lower hands are in the Abhaya and Varada Mudras. Her face is red and the tongue protruding.
Kali represents the state where time space and causation have disappeared without any trace as it were. Hence she is black.
Lalita Tripurasundari is another aspect of the Devi which is more widely worshipped in South India. As Lalita represents the aspect of beauty her form is depicted as extremely beautiful and the worship more refined.
Lalita is usually depicted as slightly red in colour (as that of the dawn) and extraordinarily beautiful. In her four hands she is holding a bow of sugarcane, arrows, the goad (Ankusa) and the noose (pasa). Sometimes she is shown holding a wine cup made of diamond. One of her feet, usually the left, is shown resting on a pedestal is also of diamond.
The worship of Lalita's emblem, the 'Sricakra' are extremely popular. The Sricakra is essentially a yantra, (two dimensional engraved figure) the form and pattern of the deity. It is a rather complicated geometrical figure of forty three triangles formed by the intersection of nine triangles, of which five have their apexes downward and the other four upward. This is surrounded by concentric circles with eight and then sixteen lotus petals. The whole figure is skirted by a square of three lines with openings in the middle of each side. There is a dot in the centre of the entire diagram. This dot represents the combination of Siva and Sakti.