The Trimurti is the basis of the Hindu spiritual teaching which makes it possible to clarify the manifested world in which we evolve: Brahma represents the creative principle, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer who allows renewal. These three forces are inseparable, complementary and opposed.
Pudma Purana relates that to preserve the world he had created, Brahma drew Vishnu from his right flank and to be able to destroy it, he drew Shiva from his left flank.
Parvati, is a complex deity, as is Shiva. She is both benevolent and terrifying (in the form of Durga and Kali).
She is worshipped as much as Shiva, both as a representative of the absolute but also in the form of the destructive energy. Her place in the pantheon goes far beyond her role as Shiva's shakti (wife, feminine aspect, energy): if we evoke the Shakti or Devi (mother goddess) alone, then we are talking about Parvati.
Very often it is the union Shiva-Parvati which is honored: it then takes the name of Ardhanarishvara, a unique androgynous form, symbiosis of the two deities.
The two deities are in fact inseparable. Shiva embodies the Absolute in the unmanifested form, pure consciousness, while Parvati personifies the materialized Absolute. On the one hand, the contemplative aspect (the Lord of Sleep) and on the other, the active aspect. She can thus be considered as the Mother of the universe (Devi), it is thanks to her energy (Shakti) that pure consciousness takes shape. As a couple, they are called Umâmaheshvara.
Story of Parvati
In the Hindu myths of the creation of the world, Shiva was not concerned with finding a wife, he was absorbed in his state of pure consciousness, yet Brahma knew the need for Shiva to manifest himself so that the world he had created could function harmoniously, so that the Dharma (order, balance) could be fulfilled. With Vishnu, they begged him, Shiva accepted, but on his terms, "Offer me a woman with good looks, expert in the practice of Yoga and able to receive my virile seed. She must be a great Yogini when I practice Yoga and a lover when I devote myself to love.
Thus was born Sati, daughter of Daksha, one of the sons of Brahma (one of the Prajapati, fathers of creation) who conquered Shiva's heart. However, Daksha did not appreciate Shiva, a god withdrawn from the world, living alone in the midst of wild beasts, occupied by his asceticism, and so he did not invite him to a major sacrifice: Sati was outraged and decided to destroy himself by fire. Shiva, mad with pain, carried Sati's body everywhere with him: his moans, laments and tears (which formed two lakes in Pushkar and Ketaksha) filled the universe. Vishnu then decided, with the help of his disc, to cut up Sati's body, which fell to 51 places on earth: these places are today venerated as places of pilgrimage.
At the same time, Brahma had promised Shiva that Sati would be reborn in another form: it was Parvati, totally in love with Shiva who, after a very long asceticism, succeeded in conquering Shiva who had returned to his life as a hermit.
The couple Shiva-Parvati represents in India (just like Vishnu-Lakshmi's) the ideal couple: happiness, conjugal love, harmony and complicity on all levels (intellectual, sentimental and sexual), parity and complementarity.
In this couple, each one sacrifices a part of what it is, of itself at the time of the marriage but thanks to that, their union enriches each one of them and reinforces them in their daily life and in their spiritual quest (which is still for a large majority of the Indians the goal of the existence).
They symbolize the union of opposites, the One: Shiva, the latent state, Parvati, the dynamic state which allows the concrete manifestation. Symbolically the form of the Lingam is very significant: the phallus is inseparably linked to the Yoni (the vulva).
Shiva's sexual prowess is abundantly recounted in certain Hindu texts, but the important thing is the possibility of transcending duality in the practice of sexual intercourse. This is the deep meaning of Tantrism where fundamentally all experience is used to get closer to the Absolute. Shiva and Parvati are both lovers and ascetics. They reconcile the possibility of combining life in the world (Bogha, enjoyment, in the noblest and broadest sense, of appreciation of what is, here and now) and Sadhana (spiritual search).
Shiva can also represent the intellect and Parvati the ether or destruction and sweetness, cold and warm, sleep and creation.
So without Parvati no manifestation, the world would remain as being latent, formless, pure Absolute, unchanging (Shiva). They can then be called Prakiti (cosmic matter) and Purusha (cosmic spirit).
Parvati the mountain girl
Adored alone, she embodies the feminine pole of the Absolute.
Reincarnation of Sati, Parvati is represented as a beautiful woman, with generous forms. She is adorned with many jewels: bracelets, necklaces, earrings, crown.... Her golden skin hasn't been always.. While Shiva teased her about her black skin, Parvati became angry and began a long period of asceticism: Brahma, touched by her devotion, offered her a gold skin. She embodies feminine beauty, intelligence, sensuality, accomplished lover and mother.
Her forehead is adorned with Bindu, a red dot symbolizing the smallest manifested form from which energy springs and unfolds, thus marking her creative capacity (Indian women wear it daily).
She often has four arms, two can hold a lotus (red or blue) while the other two make the gesture of giving and blessing. She can hold a mirror (Darpana underlines the emptiness: the mirror is a neutral witness, it reflects everything but does not identify with anything. Its neutrality is total: it doesn't judge, doesn't compare, doesn't denigrate and doesn't grasp what is presented to it: it is a formidable symbol of pure consciousness. It can also express, more concretely, the attachment to what is unreal, namely the reflection, the surface of things (which is therefore illusory (Maya) in the meaning that it is only an apparent reality like a mirage: the manifest as opposed to the absolute which is the essence of reality).
It can be accompanied by a pot of earth topped with a coconut which represents its nourishing aspect.
Its mount is the lion. It is obviously a symbol of power, strength, sovereignty and therefore protection (justice): it is thus present on the coat of arms of India.
, form of Parvati which insists on her nourishing function, her generosity. The mother who nourishes, she is thus the protective divinity of Varanasi.
Gauri, the white one
, form of Parvati that emphasizes beauty, grace, the happy and accomplished wife, fullness. Indian women worship her a lot, she is a model both as a woman and a wife but also through the couple she forms with Shiva. Many festivals are dedicated to her (Gauri Vrata, the festival of Teej, Gangaur...).
Durga Mahishasuramardini : the slayer of the buffalo demon
Durga is one of the forms taken by Parvati in her destructive form. Durga expresses a terrible serene force: she symbolizes the victory of knowledge over obscurantism but also power. Her benevolent aspect is however present because she is also the protective, generous mother (she comes to the aid of the weakest), the one who re-establishes the order of the world: she can then be called Aparâjitâ, the invincible...
From time immemorial, Mahishasura, the buffalo demon, thanks to many austerities, gained great strength and Brahma granted him, not immortality but the privilege of being killed only by a woman. Conceited and become an invincible giant, Mahishasura fought and defeated the Gods who had to call upon Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu: from their anger emerged Durga, of perfect beauty and endowed with all the powers personified by her many arms and weapons provided by the gods. Helped by Kali, she easily defeated Mahishasura's army and cut off his head after an epic battle.
Durga is often depicted with eight arms armed eight weapons provided by the gods :
The conch (the primordial sound) given by Vayu, the god of Wind; the mass (strength) given by Vishakarman, the craftsman of the gods; the rosary (knowledge) given by Brahma; the wheel or disc (the sun, the light) given by Vishnu; the spear (power) given by Kumara, the god of war, lord of the divine armies; the sword given by Yama, lord of death; the trident given by Shiva as well as the damaru, the lotus. ..
The weapons, numerous and diverse, indicate that to triumph over an ultimate threat, many qualities must be combined, both physical (strength,...) and spiritual.
Kali, the black one
Kali is a form of Durga. Kali destroys, she expresses rage, primitive terrors, she is often represented in a terrifying form, full of blood, disheveled, dancing naked on corpses - but it is also the ultimate force that allows one to overcome, to go beyond the deepest and the most archaic fears.
In Devimâhâtmya, Kali is born from the wrath of Durga: she springs from her forehead, howling with rage from birth, she is black, ready to deliver the world of demons. Kali is the last resort: in Hindu mythology, she helps the powerless gods. In the battle against Shamba and Nishumbha, Kali intoxicated by the blood of demons began to dance as long as the vibrations threatened the very existence of the universe. Shiva threw himself at her feet to save it by absorbing this terrible force. She was then named Chamunda.
Kali means black but it is also the feminine of kâla, time: she is the master of time (Mahakali), the equivalent of Mahakala, Shiva.
In this terrifying form, Hinduism reminds us that in us there is benevolence as well as violence, light as well as darkness: it is a question of Seeing (in the sense of knowing) and of attacking our inner demons, our mind, but also of drawing on our primordial forces to defeat our terrors. It is not possible to achieve liberation without a fierce, epic struggle: what is destroyed is not life but the illusions that keep us in the prison of identification with the ego. Then the compassionate aspect of Kali is revealed!
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