Daughter of the Mountains
The demons lead by Taraka, rose from the netherworld and drove the devas, gods, out of the heavens. The gods sought a warrior who would help them regain the celestial realm.
“Only Shiva can father such a warrior,” informed Brahma.
But Shiva, immersed in meditation, was oblivious to the problems of the gods. As he performed tapas, meditations that produce great heat and energy, his mind was filled with great knowledge and his body became resplendent with energy. But all this knowledge and energy, bottled within his being, was of not use to anyone.The gods invoked the mother-goddess, who appeared before them as Kundalini, a coiled serpent. “I will coil myself around Shiva, wean out his knowledge and energy for the good of the world and make him father a child,” said Shakti. Shakti took birth as Parvati, daughter of the Himavan, lord of the mountains, determined to draw Shiva out of his cave and make him her consort.
Everyday Parvati would visit Shiva’s cave, sweep the floor, decorate it with flowers and offer him fruits hoping to win his love.
These goddesses entered Shiva desolate cave and transformed it into a pleasure garden filled with the fragrance of flowers and the buzzing of bees.
Guided by Priti and Rati, Kama, the lord of desire, raised his sugarcane bow and shot arrows dripping with desire into the heart of Shiva.
Shiva was not amused. He opened his third eye and released the flames of fury that engulfed Kama and reduced his beautiful body to ashes.
The death of Kama alarmed the gods. “Without the lord of desire man will not embrace woman and life will cease to be.”
Parvati went into the forest and performed rigorous tapas, wearing nothing to protect her tender body form the harsh weather, eating nothing, not even a leaf, earning the admiration of forest ascetics who named her Aparna.
Aparna matched Shiva in her capacity to cut herself from the world and completely master her physical needs. The power of her tapas shook Shiva out of his mediation. He stepped out of his cave and accepted Parvati as his wife.
Shiva married Parvati in the presence of the gods following the sacred rites and took her to the highest peak of the cosmos, Mount Kailasa, the pivot of the universe. As the world revolved all around them the two became one and Kama was reborn.
The goddess awakened Shiva’s concern for the world by questioning him on various issues. As he spoke, he revealed the secrets of the Tantras and the Vedas that he had gathered in eons of mediation.
Inspired by her beauty, Shiva became the fountainhead of the arts, of dance and drama. He sang and danced to the delight of the gods who were pleased to see his enchantment with the goddess.
Parvati gave Shiva’s aura to the gods. “From this will rise the warlord you seek,” said the goddess.
The gods gave Shiva’s aura to Svaha, consort of Agni, the fire god. Unable to bear the heat of the auro and the god Agni for long, Svaha gave the aura to Ganga the river goddess who cooled it in her icy waters until Shiva’s aura turned into a seed.
Aranyani, the goddess of the forest, embedded the divine seed in the fertile forest floor where it was transformed into a robust child with six heads and twelve arms.
Six forest nymphs called the Krittikas found this magnificent child in a lotus. Over come by maternal affection they began nursing him. The six headed son of Shiva, born of many mothers, came to be known as Kartikeya.
Skanda took command of the celestial armies, defeated Taraka in battle and restored the heavens to the gods.
With Parvati by his side, Shiva became a family man. But he did not abandon his ways as a hermit: he continued to meditate and immerse himself in narcotic dreams. His carefree attitude, 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, of marriage, motherhood and family.