As I Know: The Lord of the Mountains – Shiv Purana: 68
Continued from Previous Page
Parvati prepares to undergo austere tapa, arrives at the sacred place Gangotri and begins tapasaya to please Shiva …she confronts many hurdles nature creates but she is resolute …the intensity of penance surprises and therefore, sages arrive at the ashrama of goddess
It was the same place where Shiva’s fury had reduced Kamadeva to ashes as he had disturbed him in tapa. Parvati also known as Gauri began to undergo tapa at this place and therefore, people call the place as Gauri-shikhar. Shiva planted many enriching, pure and beautiful fruit trees to test the capacity of Parvati’s tapa. To what extent nature and the beauty of nature could disturb, she knew. She purified the entire ground and built up a vedi (a raised mount of earth, stone, or a pedestal) on which she could sit and meditate. This kind of tapa was difficult even for the great monks.
Now, she controlled senses and began the most arduous tapasya. The incessant chanting of mantra of Shiva continued without a break. During summers, she meditated with intensity and at that time, burning fire surrounded her. During winters, she sat on the vedi (on a huge stone) and meditated and when it rained, it not only made her uncomfortable but also soaked body. During winters, she did not take any food, and in the thought of Sankara, she stood midst chilly water and at night, sat on icy rocks. In the intensity of tapa, she continued to think of lord Shiva and not for a moment, diverted attention elsewhere. When free and calm, she looked after the plants and trees along with her friends. If there was any guest, she attended to him properly.
Parvati proved she was very strong, for terrific storm, intense cold and torrential rain in different seasons of the year, and scorching heat of summer did not deter her from tapasya. She suffered during tapa but ignored. Objective was obvious. During the first year, she took fruit and in the next year, she ate leaves of trees as food. She continued to undergo tapa for many years. Later on, she left even eating leaves and roots and continued to undergo tapa. With each passing day, relentless and unwavering commitment and love for Shiva continued to increase.
In truth, Parvati underwent tapa in the most difficult ways. Chanting of mantra continued even in the mind. Even she left eating leaves, stood on one leg, and meditated. No other sage or monk had undergone tapa so rigorously previously and therefore, Parvati overwhelmed wise men, and earned praise from the holy men. She spent three thousand years in meditation and never looked back.
Once she thought, “Does he know that I adhere to the principles of meditation and undergo tapa for him? If the lord knew then why did not he arrive? What is the reason? I must find out.” She thought seriously, as many questions arose and distressed.
“The Vedas, all the lokas and people eulogize Shiva. Monks and sages of intense tapa, praise Shiva. All wise and holy men say that he is omniscient, the soul of created beings, a divine seer, a visionary, the provider of luxuries and wealth, a god of heavenly powers, the knower of feelings and thoughts of all living beings, the divine fulfiller of all inner wishes and the eradicator of sufferings of devotees. I am devotee of lord Shiva and am fond of him and therefore, left worldly desires and underwent penance. The great benevolent lord looking after the wellbeing of living beings should be contented and happy with the tapa I undergo.” She deliberated for a long time.
Later on, she said, “If I have followed strict principles of religious tenets, underwent tapa, japa and meditation, chanted Shiva-mantra devotedly, then the lord should be happy. If I meditated on the lord of gods with perseverance and courage, and with a pure heart, lord Sankara should be happy.”
Thus, Parvati tried to evaluate the intensity of tapa and contemplation. She knew she was very intense and genuine in undergoing tapa.
An intense and terrific tapa continued and all the sages and monks were amazed. The tapa of Jagdamba (Parvati or Uma also called Kaali or Sati) astonished everyone. The sages and the wise men, and living beings and others, who had doubts or were against tapa, went to the ashrama of Parvati. Cleansed of evils and jealous feelings, they never thought to create hindrances in the path of tapasya of Jagdamba. All the birds and beasts lived in harmony and peace, and none harboured thoughts of enmity or hatred for anyone. Nature was generous as trees perennially full of delicious fruit and flowers continued to bloom and emitted fragrance. Men of penance and wisdom compared the area of ashrama with Kailasa Mountain.
Parvati spent many years in tapasya but lord Shiva did not appear. Even Parvati analysed the depth of tapa and arrived at the conclusion that she was meticulous. Thousands of years passed but the lord did not bless Parvati. Himchal, Maina, Meru and many holy souls came to the ashrama, tried to convince that it was difficult to attain lord Shiva through strenuous and backbreaking tapa, and therefore, advised her to terminate penance midway.
Parvati was a goddess of terrific resolve and determination. All sympathetic and noble souls and parents told her to end tapa. She thought seriously for a while and then said calmly, “O father, O dear mother and friends, I think you forgot what I told you earlier. Anyway, you listen to the vow I took. I know lord Shiva burnt down Kamadeva with the fire of anger. I know he is detached. Even then, I shall try to satisfy lord Shiva, who loves devotees. Do not worry. I want you to go back. Mahadeva will definitely be satisfied, and it needs no further thought. He reduced Kamadeva to ashes and burnt the entire forest I know. Now, I shall call the great lord Shiva with the strength of tapa. O wise men, try to understand. With the strength of austere tapa alone, one can enjoy the privilege of serving Shiva. You must know the truth.”
She told parents gently and wisely and persuaded them not to insist. After sometime, she was quiet. All relations, friends and learned men, who tried to dissuade Parvati, left the thought of disagreement or argument, but after they understood her firmness, they praised Parvati and then, returned. Now, Parvati began tapa with vigor, fierceness and dedication, and started putting up exhausting stresses. Tapa and dedication of Parvati’s terribly stirred the three worlds. The intensity and heat of tapa tremendously scorched all gods, asuras, human beings, created beings and the three worlds. The influence of severe tapa spread everywhere. The gods of heavens, celestial beings, asuras, yakasas, kinners, charans (singers of glory of kings, rulers and patrons as if they were the public relations department), siddhas, realised souls, monks, vidhyadharas, renowned nagas, prajapatis, guhakas and other great beings of the three worlds, suffered because of the zealous and austere tapa of Parvati. However, the holy souls were unable to understand the basic reason of pains, miseries and obstacles arising out of the intense penance of Parvati.
To be Continued