Feb 07, 2023
Feb 07, 2023
by P C K Prem
As I Know: The Lord of the Mountains – Shiv Purana: 74
Lord Shiva arrives at the ashrama of Parvati and the attendants of goddess observe a jetted-hair brahmin with an aura of immense luminosity, radiance and splendor…again the goddess enters the roaring blaze
Even after the seven sages told everything about the terrific resolve of Parvati, Shiva thought over again and decided to put goddess Parvati to test so that he knows the real purpose of severe tapasya. It appeared he was still doubtful. At the same time, he was extremely happy. Such are the mysterious ways of gods. Faith is the ultimate yardstick of true bhakti and determination. Disguised as a brahmin of tapa with jetted hair Sambhu arrived at the ashrama of Parvati situated in a thick forest. Jetted-hair brahmin was full of radiance and appeared very happy when he arrived at the ashrama with a divine danda (a wooden stick) and a chhatra (umbrella) in hands. Arriving at the hermitage, he observed goddess Shiva sitting on the holy seat of tapa while devoted friends Jaya and Vijaya surrounded the goddess in penance.
In the guise of a celibate brahmin, he went to the devotee of Shiva, goddess Parvati and showered love and warmth. He appeared divinity incarnate brahmin to goddess Shiva. Therefore, she hurriedly gathered necessary material for prayer and worship and then, devotedly worshipped him. She reverently greeted and worshipped the guest, gave a seat, and then said happily, “O brahmin, you are welcome. How should I serve you? What brought you here? Please tell.”
After a pause, she said, “O brahmin, who are you in the guise of a celibate? Where did you come from? You appear a great pundit of the Vedas, and illuminate the entire forest. I asked you many things, please tell.”
The brahmin understood genuine curiosity Parvati exhibited.
He said, “I am an old brahmin of penance, pure intellect and heart wandering around at will. I always give comforts and joys to others and am interested in the wellbeing of people. Do not doubt. However, O woman, who are you? Whose daughter you are? Why do you undergo severe tapa in a dense forest and for whom? It is difficult to undergo tapa for a woman like you. Even great monks may not do. O woman, I am surprised. I am inquisitive and wish to know the objective you nurse zealously. Please let me now.”
He was quiet and observed everything carefully, thought of the words she spoke and then said, “O holy woman, you are neither a girl nor an old woman but you appear a young beautiful woman. Why do you undergo harsh tapasya in the forest alone… and without husband? O woman, are you a woman of a man of penance undergoing tapasya? Does your husband in tapa no longer look after you? Has he gone somewhere? Where is the family, O girl? Let me know about the dynasty. Who is your father? What is your name? You look a very fortunate woman. However, I feel, your love for tapa is a waste. Are you the mother of the Vedas? Are you Laksmi or Sarswati? Who are you among the three, I am unable to decide?”
The Brahmin put many questions to Parvati, who appeared calm and tranquil and imagined the interest of an unknown brahmin. She looked at him with a benign and bright face.
Parvati deliberated over the brahmin’s eagerly asked questions. She was silent but after a few moments, emitted a smile, arranged words within, and then said, “O brahmin, I am neither Gayatri, the mother of the Vedas nor Laksmi or Sarswati. I am daughter of Himachal, Parvati. In earlier birth, I was daughter of prajapati Daksa and at that time, I was Sati. Once father Daksa humiliated my husband lord Shiva and therefore, I was infuriated. Thereafter, I relinquished the mortal frame through the power of yoga. Even in this life, lord Shiva is my husband but as it was destined to happen, he was angry with Kamadeva and so he reduced the lord of love to ashes and afterward, lord Shiva left. O brahmin, I was disillusioned and sad after he left me and so I decided to undergo terrific penance. Therefore, I left the house of father Daksa – Himachal and arrived at the bank of river Ganges.”
“After I underwent tapa for a long time, I was not able to attain lord Shiva. I am still determined to get him as husband, and for that reason, I am engaged in penance to gratify the lord. Now, you may go. I shall enter fire and finish life because lord Shiva did not accept me even after severe penance. However, I may tell you that wherever, I take birth I shall always desire lord Shiva as swamy.”
She was self-assured, decisive and spoke of faith and resolve, and subsequently, entered the blazing fire and disappeared though the brahmin tried to stop continuously. However, the terrific influence of tapasya of Parvati, extinguished the fire and everything was calm. Parvati stayed in the fire for some time and then, she began to rise upward, when lord Shiva in the guise of a brahmin suddenly laughed and said, “O woman, what a tapa! What is precisely the intent behind, O holy woman? I did not understand anything. The fire did not burn the body and it symbolised the intensity of tapasya but you did not achieve the objective. It is failure of tapa and penance. Therefore, O goddess, please reveal the most cherished inner wish that grants supreme pleasure to all.”
When, Parvati heard soft and generous words of an unknown brahmin, she signaled, inspired and asked friend Vijaya to answer, who knew about the supreme tapa, and then, looked at the brahmin with long jetted hair.
After a moment, Vijaya said, “O holy man, I shall describe the sacred character of Parvati and also tell you the reasons of tapa. Please listen, as you are anxious. She is a daughter of Himachal and Maneka, the king and queen of the mountains. However, I tell you, people know her as Parvati and Kaali. No one has married her until now. She does not want anyone as husband except lord Shiva. To attain lord’s blessing, she has been undergoing austere tapa for the last three thousand years. Yes, O brahmin, to get lord Shiva as husband, she is undergoing harsh penance.”
Again, she added, “Now, O brahmin, I revealed the reasons of austere tapa. Parvati, the daughter of Himachal, does not want Brahma, Vishnu, Indra or any other god as husband. She wants lord Shiva only and she will accept him as a consort. Long back, celestial sage Narada advised to adopt a rigorous course of tapa. O holy brahmin, I told whatever you asked and therefore, revealed the purpose. What else do you wish to hear?”
Rudra in the guise of a brahmin laughed and said, “Whatever you told, appears a great joke. If what you say is correct, why it is that Parvati does not say so. Let Parvati speak the truth.”
Brahmin was brusque and a bit irritated. It appeared a huge breakdown in significant interaction. Apparently, the wise friend of goddess Parvati spoke the truth but the holy brahmin did not admire.
For some time, no one said anything. Wise Parvati reflected over the impasse and stood up to satisfy the curiosity of the holy brahmin when she heard brahmin’s unforgiving words.
To pacify the holy brahmin, she said, “O learned brahmin, listen to the entire truth of life. Whatever Vijaya told is correct and true. I find no untruth in it. I speak truth through mind, words and deeds. I never tell lies. I accepted lord Shiva as a husband. Yes, within heart I decided to become his consort whatever may be the circumstances? I can think of no other man. Though I know I can attain the most difficult objective, yet an earnest yearning bubbling within coerces and hence, I am engaged in terrific tapa.”
After she said mildly, Parvati was silent. Brahmin listened, thought and said, “O woman, until now I nursed a keen desire to know about the most difficult thing you wanted to get for which you made strenuous and painful efforts through tapa. I heard everything and the objective you wish to achieve. Now, I would like to go.” The wise brahmin said and was ready to go.
At this moment, Parvati bowed reverentially and said, “O holy brahmin, why should you go? Please stay and speak of eternal positive truths.”
Wise brahmin with a stick in hand stopped after he heard pleas from Parvati and said, “O goddess, you are interested to listen to the eternal truth with feelings of devotion I understand. You request and ask me to stay so that I tell you something of truth and the great tattva, and when you know about tattva (essence), you come to know what is good, and what is beneficial. I claim little intelligence and so I only know the glory of lord Shiva. Therefore, I tell you the truth and you listen carefully.”
He resumed after a moment, “With a flag bearing the symbol of a bull on the divine vehicle, Mahadeva smears the body with ashes, wanders around and goes to different places with jetted hair tied up on the head. Instead of a dhoti (a long piece of cloth some Hindus wear while some use it when they perform religious ceremony), he bears skin of a lion, and instead of a wide sheet of cloth, he covers body with the skin of an elephant. He holds an empty skull for begging. Many bands of snakes continue crawling around the body of the lord. He stays healthy even as he takes poison. He eats prohibited food, and eyes appear ugly and dreadful.” He slowly tried to reveal the ugly figure and not very fine qualities of lord Shiva.
After a thought, he said again, “When and where was he born, nothing is known? Who is lord’s father? The answers to the questions remain alive and no one knows anything. He runs away from the responsibilities of a householder. He moves around half-naked while he keeps company of ghosts and pisachas. He has ten arms but to talk of one or two… O goddess, I do not understand the reasons as to why do you desire him as husband. Where your better sense is gone? Please think over and let me know. Daksa did not invite daughter Sati to the great yajna because she was a consort of a beggar with a bowl made of a skull. Not only this, Daksa invited all sages, monks, celestial beings and various gods but ignored Sambhu. Sati was angry and extremely disturbed because of the affront and disgraceful conduct of Daksa, and therefore, plunged into the fire and for this reason, left Sankara.”
He scrupulously flattered Parvati.
After a deep thought, he resumed, “O Parvati, you are a jewel among the women and father Hima is the king of mountains. Even then, you undergo austere tapa so that you get Shiva as husband. Why it is so? You wish to give coins of gold, and instead want simple kancha (a little glass ball sans value) coins. You reject glitzy chandana (sandal paste) and wish to put layers of mud on the body. You want to forego the light of Surya and wish to live in the dim light of a firefly. You wish to throw out silken clothes and want to put on skins. You desire to leave the palace and wish to live in the jungle around a dhuni (a tiny bonfire sadhus or babas lit in the open or under a scanty shed to mark time while engaged in discourses on life and existence). It is disgusting. O goddess, after you rejected gods like Indra and lokapals, if Shiva captivates you, it is definitely an attempt to discard a treasure of wonderful jewels as you concur to accept a gift of iron. It is an accepted principle of a worldly life. Your relations with Shiva are incongruous, improper and inauspicious. One fails to understand the rationale behind it.”
He continued, “O woman, your lotus flowers like eyes look beautiful and enchanting. Look at the ugly three eyes of Rudra. You are as beautiful as a moon and face appears calm and cool like Moon (chandrama-chandramukhi) whereas Shiva with five heads (panchamukha) looks dreadful. Your hair is wonderful and then, just imagine about the ugly and awful hair of Shiva. It instills fears. Your sacred body emits fragrance of chandana (sandal) whereas a thin layer of ashes covers the body of Shiva.”
Thus, the brahmin continued to speak against Shiva. He did not notice any good quality in Shiva, who was without equal. After a little interval, he said again, “He looks ugly and ill mannered. He lives among the ghosts and pisachas and covers the body only with a piece of skin of lion. To make ugliness look horrible, Shiva puts ashes on the body and appears discouraging and awe-inspiring. How can you make such a choice?” Parvati listened without disturbing him but did not react. However, she thought and thought deep and continued to look at the face of the brahmin, who tried hard to transform the mind and heart of the goddess.
He continued, “O goddess, you are the most beautiful goddess and the divine beauty you possess is not fit for Shiva, who is devastatingly ugly and frightening. He is poor and destitute. If he is rich and wealthy, why he is semi-naked with a bowl of skull in hand and goes about begging? He has a vehicle, an old bull only and you find nothing else with him.”
He told that Shiva possessed no virtues or qualities that could give happiness to a woman. “Men display many qualities that give joy and comforts to women but he cannot give any pleasure, happiness or delight.”
“He does not possess a single quality…you know the disrespect, he showed the moment he left and went away. O goddess, he has no caste. He is not wise and is without knowledge. One cannot find anything conspicuous or remarkable in him. You can see pisachas as attendants and observe he has so much poison in the throat. He loves to live alone and appears detached. O virtuous woman, you should not attach your name with Shiva. He is not a suitable match and cannot make a noble husband. Look, such a beautiful and divine necklace in the neck and look at him, he wears a garland of human skulls around his neck. I find nothing worth comparing. You hold amiable features but he frightens. Therefore, O goddess, I do not approve of this relationship. Even then, if you want to continue, I have nothing to say. Do whatever you like. You appear to love and admire whatever is unhygienic, unsanctified and infected in the world.” He appeared quite unhappy. He made it clear that he did not approve of what she wanted. Shiva was not fit to be her husband, he said in many words.
At last, he said, “O goddess, I say divert heart and mind from the great asata (untruth). Otherwise, whatever you wish to do, do. I will not say more.”
Parvati was not very happy, for the brahmin looked inelegant, gently humiliating and disgraceful in language against Shiva. She never expected a righteous man of wisdom to use appalling and repugnant language. On many occasions earlier, she had never tolerated a word against Shiva, who she revered so ardently. Disguised as Brahmin Shiva miserably failed to convince Parvati and as a result, she refused to abandon her resolve. However, as said earlier she further asked about the eternal truths.
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More by : P C K Prem