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Abodes of Shakti >> Parvati

Parvati the consort of Shiva is regarded as the mother Goddess Shakti, a personification of cosmic energy.

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Legend has it that Shakti took birth as Daakshaayani or Sati - the daughter of the mythological Daksha who was entrusted with the task of propagating the human race. Sati married Shiva against the wishes of her father and the vain king performed a great yagna with the sole purpose of insulting Shiva. To this yagna, Daksha invited all of the gods and goddesses with the exception of Shiva. Against Shiva's wishes Sati attended this sacrifice, was insulted by father; unable to bear the insult Sati immolated herself in the sacrificial altar.

Enraged at the insult and injury Shiva through Veerabhadra destroyed Daksha's sacrifice, severed Daksha's head and replaced it with that of a goat and restored him to life. Crazed with grief, he picked up the remains of Sati's body and engaged himself in the dance of destruction throughout the Universe. The disk of Vishnu cut through Sati's corpse and scattered her remains throughout the Indian subcontinent at sites that are now known as the Shakti Peethams.

Sati was reborn as Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king Himavat and after rigorous penance married Shiva. To this couple was born Kumara or Skanda the would-be destroyer of Tarakasura and other demons. All of these legends are woven around Shakti, Shiva and Skanda, the trinity that constitute Somaskanda, the symbol of prosperity and propagation of life.

Parvati in the form of Gowri is the gentle consort of Shiva and is representative of the caring benevolent, matronly aspects of nature. South Indian Saivite shrines inevitably have a shrine dedicated to Parvati. Iconographic portrayals of Shiva in the form of Somaskanda, Chandrasekhara etc., portray Parvati adjacent to Shiva.

Thus, Sivakaami is the consort of Shiva Nataraja; Meenakshi is the consort of Sundareswara and so on. In certain Saivite temples, an image of Bhoga Sakthi is enshrined within the sancta enshrining presiding deity Shiva in the form of a Shivalingam.

Somaskanda thus depicts Shiva as a householder while Dakshinamurthy - yet another manifestation of Shiva depicts him as a yogi.

Further more, the Ardhanaareeswara manifestation of Shiva is symbolic of the interconnectedness of matter and energy, wherein Parvati is portrayed as being a part of Shiva,; Ardhanaareeswara is portrayed as being half male and half female.

These apart, there are countless temples dedicated to Shakti-Parvati alone all over the Indian subcontinent. .

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