Shiva showed his extremely repulsive image to Parvati’s mother Mainarani during his wedding when she became rather reluctant to marry her daughter to this apparently scary aghori. While she expected a handsome prospective bridegroom for her beautiful daughter, antithetical to her wish, she saw a gruesome figure in front of her that made her unconscious.
Once regaining her sense, Mainarani took an oath not to get her delicate Parvati uninitiated into the codes of nuptial wisdom get married to the fearsome mendicant whose only alleged family was his bhootganas -the ghosts wandering around him. “The perpetual nomad does not even have a home of his own” said Mainarani to her husband Himaraja. “How would we ensure our daughter’s well-being with someone like him”? Himaraja tried his level best to console his wife but in vain. Mainarani was adamant. There wasn’t anything that could provoke her into changing her decision. “See the snakes around his neck! My Goodness”. She went on profusely in her description. “How can you ever imagine Parvati would feel safe in his presence”! Himaraja just gave a final try by stating, “ But he is our daughter’s choice”! “How can we deprive her of her happiness! This is the only one thing that deters me from thwarting her to marry him”. “I am happy in her decision”. Mainarani looked at her husband with an expression that was enough to convey to him that she was shocked at her husband’s response on the subject. “What! Are you speaking! She retorted vehemently. “ I cannot believe this comes from you for whom his daughter is his world”! “Maina”, said Himaraja in a placating tone. “ Apparently he is indeed not one whom any woman would desire. I am also amazed at my daughter’s choice. However, from whatever sage Narada has informed me, I have managed to retain my patience in the matter and have decided though reluctantly, to be very honest, approve her to marry Shiva”.
“What do you mean”? Said Mainarani in bewilderment! “Do you not know the sage’s shrewd nature. He manipulates. Everyone knows it. I wouldn’t accept any of his explanations in the same stating that Parvati is the incarnation of Sati who was Shiva’s consort in the previous birth and has to go back to him in this birth as well. For me, Parvati is my daughter and she does not deserve this fate. This is horrible! Look at him. How frightening he is! Anointed with ash of the funeral ground! How impious! Snakes twirling around his neck! Ominous ghosts accompanying him! I can never choose him. Never will I ever approve of this nuptial! Years of Penance and my daughter gets what? This…This! No she does not deserve this…I would Myself pray hard to goddess Bhagwati and tell her to give a fruitful groom for my daughter- Just as…VISHNU…
Parvati is being informed about her mother’s decision. “Mainarani has disapproved of your marriage Parvati”. She says the groom is unworthy”! But to everybody’s surprise, Parvati just gives a smile. Her friends ask her. “Aren’t you worried! What would happen now? If Rani does not approve! Why are you smiling”? Parvati replied. “ Rani does not have to approve or disapprove my wedding”. Everyone standing there was puzzled. They asked. “What do you mean”? Parvati clarified. “Mother has to give her consent. Not Rani. “Yes”. They said. “And Mother is worried for you. That’s why she does not wish to give her approval for this marriage! Don’t you see that?” Parvati replied with a confidence in her eyes that was enough to convince everyone that she was determined to solve the issue. “Mother is testing me”. “What are you saying daughter”. Himaraja arrived there quite amazed at his daughter’s statement. “What do you mean? “Father”, said parvati with an indelible determination on her visage. “Mother wants me to prove to her that I am prepared to be fully responsible for my choice in life”. She does not wish to keep any sort of doubts in her mind”. Himaraja smiled and said. “I comprehend the import of your statement. Now what next?” Parvati replied. “Let me go and meet Ma!”
Ma! Parvati came and embraced her mother with such affection that was enough to convince Mainarani that her daughter could never bargain with her love for anybody. She was the priority in her daughter’s life. With a whirlpool of affection in her eyes, Parvati said. “What are you worried about? With bleary eyes, Mainarani replied, “About you” who else? “Why”? Said parvati with such affection that once again made her mother’s priority in her life more than conspicuous. “Because I cannot let you get married to that Aghori shamshanwasi and ruin your life forever.” That’s it. Mainrani affirmed. “Ok Mother. Fine. So let it be. I swear I wouldn’t assent for the marriage unless I get your consent for the same.” “Well didn’t you listen to me and mark my words, “I would never assent to this marriage”. You do not seem to be aware of what is right and what is wrong for you. But being your mother I know what is for your benefit and marrying Shiva is not at all something that could be in your interest.” Mainrani reacted strongly. Parvati smiled again without a tinge of anxiety she said confidently. “That’s it. Fine. So now you tell me exactly why do you disapprove of him”? Mainarani was astounded. She added in the best possible adjectives that she could Shiva’s unworthiness for her daughter. “The resident of the symmetry, he does not have a father or a mother. We do not know his lineage, bhootganas emulate him day in and day out, what more…yes. He does not have a home to reside. Where would you live after marriage? Or you too want to be a perpetual nomad all your life. Parvati marriage means settling down. Having a stable life. Don’t you want it? This man would never be able to give you a conventional nuptial life! Parvati looked into her mother’s eyes and replied, “ I never wanted to get married to have a conventional married life mother! Mainarani was surprised to get this response from her daughter. “What?” She expressed her curiosity. “Are you in your senses? Why do people get married?” Parvati said, “Indeed as they wish to live a stable life. But Shiva is himself “stability”. He is the movement and the cessation that is the only unchangeable truth of the universe. He is the one that does not have the need to begin and end anything as per the social norms of convention as he is beyond time & space. We know the World has a beginning and an end. Shiva is the creator of this creation Ma wherein life evolves through death. Therefore, his domain is the funeral ground wherein every single dead body’s ash adorns his body and the soul or the Jiva gets redeemed through this union of his body with Shiva’s form. The Jiva-Shiva blend germinates life and thus continues the ceaseless process of evolution. The snakes that adorn his neck proudly represent the insurmountable intrepidity of his indomitable persona”.
She continued, “He is “The neelkantha” that can only withstand the ill-effect of Visha or Venom which brings death. None but only Shiva could drink poison. Or rather opted to drink it Mother. Everything that is discarded by the conventional world comes to Shiva’s refuge and only he has the audacity to accept it whole-heartedly as his fate. He never craves for “Grandeur”. He abstains from it and spreads the message of simple living and high thinking which makes our life worth living and brings us closer to righteousness in life; keeps us away from avarice. Shiva’s deglamorized look invites the “virtues” or the samskaras that shape our conscience. His bhootaganas personify the guileless “Past” needed to build a firm successful “present”. These ghosts surrounding him are the embodiments not of evil but of the purity that goes beyond the “material body”. It is this purity that can enable renunciation of materialism and retain the distinction of a “Sanyasin”. The most impressive thing about Shiva is his persona of a Sanyasin that overpowers “Kama” – the desire. Only the one who can win over Kama can live a fruitful and “stable” life as desires are the root of our peril. Mother., Only Shiva can save me from the pangs of material living and can enable my spirit to escalate towards a heightened goal –i.e. union with my paramatma. Shiva is my only way of salvation Mother. He is the only one that may redeem my endless state of craving since countless births to take respite in his form -Finally”.
Listening to her daughter’s long depiction about Shiva which was indeed an implied imploration with a purpose to get her mother’s approval for marriage, Mainarani said, “ This seems to be an impressive speech but Shiva’s greatness as described in your words does not become visible in his detrimental form daughter. He looks unapproachable! How do you think ordinary mortals like us would find this appearance worthy of consideration? Even if what you’re saying is true, is there any irrationality in my doubts that for those that are uninitiated into comprehending this philosophical truth of Shiva’s personality would definitely find no reason to consider his worthiness?” Mainrani said confidently. She added. “For commoners like us, he needs to understand that our caliber is limited to the material stereotypes and we cannot go beyond the visibly “good” or “bad”, ugly or attractive. I feel the need here to therefore get assured that he deserves you and if you as our daughter find sense in my desire to assure my child’s well-being, you need to put this across to Shiva”.
Parvati went to Shiva. “Natraja”. I know. I am well aware that you do not need to prove yourself in front of anybody! I bow down to your feet and urge you the following!
“O the omniscient one, I am well aware that you already fathom my interior and I do not require becoming articulate in front of you. It would be nothing but impertinence on my part to say what I wish you to become in front of my Parents. However, as a daughter, I need to execute the duty to convey my mother’s concern with regards to our marriage and therefore, implore in front of you, the lord of the “Natas” to momentarily efface your “Dramatic” fearful exterior and unleash your sublime truth that redeems many a lifeless souls to life. I do not wish to be explicit in front of you but forgive me for I would have to say it point blank as a mother’s desire cannot be overlooked by a daughter and out of sheer love for her, I hereby express her dread candidly stating that your appearance has caused many of my family members shiver and many of them to deter from the decision of getting us married. Their trepidation is the cause of my concern that provokes me to say this to you that marriage is a conventional endeavor and one needs to abide by the worldly duties to convince the society that two people are worthy of each other throughout their life. I’m afraid, what your overt looks do is to convince every single person of my family present in the wedding hall to state that the groom is unworthy of the bride and this observation, believe me, cripples my soul. The agony I experience on hearing the distasteful comments about you is intolerable and I do not feel I need to live more after listening to all this that negates your importance in my life. O Shiva! How can you be so Nishthur – so inconsiderate as to cause such incessant pain to your Shakti that you test her at the last moment in this way! How can you do this? Wasn’t years of penance sufficient for you to examine my dedication towards you that you extend this agnipariksha – this fire ordeal for me! I cannot be a disrespectful daughter you know it well. It is my obligation towards my parents to listen to their advice and abide by their expectations. They have not only given me birth but have also forsaken every happiness in their life for my sake. How can I hurt such Parents? Mother and father have never given it a moment’s thought to see the worthiness of my desires ever. They have always believed in me. When I chose you and chose to appease you they did not hesitate sending me away from them for years to enable me fulfill my desire of having you in my life. What do they want from us? Nothing! They just want to be reassured that their daughter has chosen someone that is worthy of her. That she has not been impetuous in her decision-making! That by getting married to you she wouldn’t be unhappy for the rest of her life! O Bhagvan, you have been known as Ashutosha – the One that rejoices easily. But, then why have you become so fastidious with regards to my invocation? Why do not you listen to my requests? O Sarvashaktiman swami, do you not know that our association is something that is supposed to happen as it is an unavoidable phenomenon! Do you not know I am your Ardhangini not in this birth but since the inception of the universe? How can you be so inconsiderate as to amputate me from your life? Can Shiva and Shakti be separated ever? O lord of the Universe, you are the only one that sustains me and my existence. You are my Prana – My life! And you know it very well that without you I would cease to exist! Do you want me to perish my lord? If so, then let it be so! I Sati, Parvati would like to declare the following:
O Shiva! If you believe in my words, I expect you’d do the needful and the righteous in the matter of our nuptial. “I state invoking all the gods, the three worlds, the four directions, and the five elements that comprise the Universe that I am your consort. If I have ever dreamt of a Purusha – the Man, in my life, it is You my Lord! My persona is an embodiment of Your Form. I am the Prakriti created by you that dissolves at your own will in you. I am the one that attains her identity because of Your Being! I capitulate in front of you Bhagvana to grant salvation to the innumerable souls of mine pining since the countless Births for union with you. O Lord! The wish to blend in your form has not recently come to me as a momentary feeling having germinated from any earthly desire. It is my Tapasya- the Penance that I have been doing ever since I realized myself in “Yourself”. The difference between you and me is as superficial as the distinction perceived in the Jiva and Shiva! My eternal dwelling has been your abode and you know it well that leaving your domain is denying my very being! You know the turmoil I went through in Daskha’s fire sacrifice when I sacrificed my life just because I could not commit the blasphemy of accepting someone humiliating you! But we both are well aware that my dead body you carried on your shoulders for Yugas – epochs -was craving to come back to life and unite with you. In spite of the fact that my soul was already with you, it could not attain beatitude as it was yet to fulfill its aim to serve you for a lifetime as your soul mate. Prana and Prakriti are inseparable and yet after my death, you know how much it pined for a body to be with you in person and you too experienced the misery as much as I did as in spite of being with you, I wasn’t with you! When we both know that our perennial formless union needs the support of the tangible union of our forms for facilitating my escalation towards salvation- Moksha, why on earth are you refraining from the same and wish to give me the anguish of remaining atrupta – dissatisfied for the rest of my life and then eventually deprived of attainment of liberation from this perennial cycle of death and rebirth that would keep torturing me unless I am redeemed by your blessings. Forgive me my lord but my beatitude not everyone knows is inevitable and I would strive relentlessly to achieve it no matter how much ever you test me as I am well aware that my agony frustrates you the most! You cannot see me in this constant state of turmoil on account of our separation. I know you pretend to be unperturbed by affection, but only I know the pain you are constantly experiencing because of being away from me and forgive the audacity in my words but I state it with utmost intrepidity that I would never ever let you inflict any sort of torture upon yourself! I cannot let you undergo this extreme sense of suffering that comes every time your Shakti is away from you. I could see the torment in your refractory annoyance in Daksha’s fire sacrifice as I gave up my life. All these years, ceaselessly you endured a self-imposed quarantine as I wasn’t with you. Your incessant state of tapasya for epochs till I take a human form as Parvati and be your life time companion is the unavoidable truth of the universe. How can I afford to desert you from my life? Impossible! O Lord! I revere you as you have elevated my identity in the world by acknowledging my presence in every aspect of the universe as prakriti – the life giving force. Your volition to surrender in front of me as Shava – the lifeless one respecting me as Shakti – the strength that regulates the universe is your greatness that knows no bounds! How can I not admire the “respect” you have given me in your life as the only woman for whom you are ready to destruct everything that insults her and ready to bless everything that venerates her? What more does any woman want in her life than a Man that recognizes her identity and makes it renowned in front of the world by resigning himself in front of her in spite of being her Lord and her Master! This supposedly indifferent deportment of yours at the moment is the paradoxical approach that only I can fathom and nobody else. Only I can construe O Nataraja- “Drama King” the meaning beneath this mask of complacency that you carry on your face pretending that nothing pertaining to me affects you. But I know what it does to you to even think of separation from me! Why then are you quiet at this crucial moment when you need to be expressive. I beg of you to have mercy on me as the very thought of your agony causes me the pain that would soon lead me towards my end! O Lord if you trust my words I am sure you’d do the needful immediately. Or else I feel, I need not be in this world anymore. I choose to die at this very moment!”
Shiva looked at Parvati’s downcast face which said even more than she had already expressed. He remained calm and just added a sentence that surprised her even more. “What do you want me to do at the moment O daughter of Himalaya? “ Parvati looked at him and replied, “ Do what you feel is right. If you think my imploration is worthy of consideration, do consider it or else not”. Shiva said, “ Indeed. Whatever is right would be the course of my action. But, I wish to know one thing. What is your desire?” Parvati folded her hands in the mode of request and said, “Lord. It is improper for me to expect you surrender in front of my parents’ wish and present yourself as the desirable groom. Nonetheless, I feel you have the prowess to change their mind. So be it. Change their thinking and give them the magical ability to see your worthiness and appreciate as well as accept you the “Way you are”. Shiva smiled. He went to meet Himaraja and Mainarani but in the manner that they wished to see him, “the suitable bridegroom befitting their beautiful daughter Parvati”. And we all understand very well why he did so… Do We?