Parvati is one face of the divine female energy, often called Devi (the shining one) or Shakti (power), that many Indians worship as the power above all deities. The goddess is personified in many forms, including Saraswati, goddess of learning and consort of Brahma, and Lakshmi, goddess of fortune and consort of Vishnu.
Parvati came into being when a female demon was terrorizing the world, smug in the knowledge that only a son of Shiva could kill her. But Shiva had withdrawn from the world to practice ascetics high in the Himalayas. He wouldn't even look at a woman, much less sire a son.
In an effort to woo Shiva, Shakti, the great mother goddess, took the form of Parvati. Shiva scorned her until she engaged in austerities of her own. Impressed, Shiva accepted her as his wife, and they produced a son who destroyed the demon.
Smart and curious, Parvati questioned Shiva about the Vedas and other sacred texts, whose secrets he whispered into her ears. But the couple also had their spats, one of which resulted in Ganesha: Parvati was frustrated that none of Shiva's ganas (attendants) would swear allegiance to her, so she created a boy and instructed him to let no one enter her home. When Shiva arrived, the boy blocked his way, so the god chopped off his head. Parvati was sick with grief. To appease her, Shiva fused the head of an elephant onto the boy's body and breathed life back into it—and named him Ganesha, "leader of the ganas."
Today, Parvati is the epitome of determination and discipline. She refuses to let Shiva's scorn intimidate her and doesn't take no for an answer. Instead, she wins with grace and dignity, something we can all aspire to.
Subscribe to YJ
Join Yoga Journal's Benefits Plus
Liability insurance and benefits to support
teachers and studios.