Who is the goddess Parvati

Bernhard Peter
The many faces of the goddess:
Parvati - Uma - Durga - Kali

Divine mother, mother goddess, universal goddess, the principle of a female goddess par excellence. The name means "goddess". Many - especially in rural folk beliefs - see the female dimension of the divine (Devi) as the source of all life and worship God as a goddess (devi) in the first place. Devi means that which divine energy is in manifestation (see the page on Shaktism). Devi is the power with which Brahma creates, with which Vishnu receives and with which Shiva destroys. Devi embodies the highest consciousness that appears in its maternal aspect. She has the universe in her lap. From the 6th century AD, the devotion of the Devi as a principle of the feminine-divine takes on an important role, the cult around numerous individual or locally widespread goddesses is bundled by the fact that they are now all viewed as manifestations of the one goddess . Devi has many names and manifestations, such as Uma, Parvati, Kali, Durga. Devi is the goddess of nature, she brings the rain and she protects against diseases. As the mother of life, Devi is mild and loving in character. As the mother of death, however, she is terrible to look at, with 8 arms, in one of which a sword. In her right hand she holds joy and pain, in her left hand she holds life and death. Lakshmi is considered to be the incarnation of Devi.

Four aspects - one goddess:
Parvati, Uma, Durga and Kali are the names for four different aspects of the same goddess. She is Shiva's wife or Shakti. In a solemn ceremony she was married to him with Brahma himself as a priest. She is the mother of the elephant god Ganesha and Skanda (Karttikeja) as well as Viraka. Parvati himself is the daughter of the Himalayas (Himavan, Himavats) and the mountain nymph Mena (Menga), who herself is descended from the world mountain Meru. Parvati has a sister, Ganga. Parvati can take on many manifestations, while those as Parvati and Uma are the gentle, gracious and peaceful ones, those as Durga (Durgha) and Kali are the terrible and avenging ones, whereby Kali is a few degrees more terrible than Durga, which is the more moderate form of the angry Goddess is. She appears as Durga and Kali to fight evil.

1st aspect: Parvati:
Properties: Parvati is the world mother, the graceful, gentle and benevolent goddess and divine mother. She is the master of life and death, can give life, but also destroy. She is the Shakti of the high god Shiva - Shiva can do nothing without her, because in Shaktism she is the feminine-dynamic and active counterpart to him. The name "Parvati" means "daughter of the mountains" and reflects her ancestry. Parvati is also the rebirth of Sati.

Presentation: sitting or standing, holding a lotus bud in the right hand. In plastic sculptures, the fingers of the right hand are often closed in a ring so that the believers can give their fresh lotus. Lakshmi is portrayed in the same position, but Lakshmi can be recognized by a chest band, which Parvati is missing. Parvati is dark-skinned. Your mount is a lion.

2nd aspect: Uma:
Properties: The word Uma means "mother of the whole world". Other names are: "the giver of the blessing", "the shining one". Meek aspect of the goddess. Uma symbolizes the responsibility and the greatness of an ideal and perfect wife, but probably more according to the ultra-conservative KKK image (children's kitchen church: the perfect woman lovingly takes care of her paschal husband, raises the children and provides for the well-being Family itself about their own life). Shiva subjected Uma to severe trials to test her devotion to him and her fitness as a wife. Uma emerged victorious in every test. Satisfied, Shiva took her to be his wife. Uma represents the ideal Hindu woman because of her complete devotion to her husband Shiva.

Presentation: Hand in hand with her husband Shiva, in a caressing position, sometimes sitting on Shiva's lap, in cozy and tender togetherness. Uma is accompanied by a lion (Simha).

3rd aspect: Durga:
Properties: As a fierce, terrible, avenging goddess Durga or Kali, Parvati appears to fight evil. Durga is still regarded as the more moderate form, Kali as the more terrifying form of the goddess. Durga is "the invincible" who competes against the evil in the world. She is kind, gracious, and gracious to those who are devoted to her. In the world it has the task of destroying demons that tyrannize or oppress gods and people. In a figurative sense, it helps to destroy our inner negative forces and weaknesses that harm us. Believers turn to Durga to destroy their own earthly drives and to develop their highest selves.

Presentation: As Durga she rides a tiger, she has the shape of a yellow woman. The number of arms can be 6, 8 or even 10. Your mount is a lion or a tiger. Since she is the wife of Shiva, she is also allowed to use his attributes: trident, sword, bow, snake. Sometimes she is also shown with a club, conch shell and discus, which actually belong to Vishnu. Vishnu apparently lent her his weapons there in order to cope better with the buffalo demon Mahisha (Mahisa, Mahishasura, Mahishasura, Mahisa = buffalo, Asura = demon). This demon could not be killed by men or animals after Brahma had granted him the favor of being defeatable only by a woman. Mahisasura arrogantly terrorized the world and prevented people from making sacrifices to the gods. Durga-Kali equipped himself with the weapons of Shiva and Vishnu and set out on her riding lion to kill the demons. It was only on the tenth day of the fight that Durga was able to cut off the head of the buffalo demon. However, since he was a demon, he still lived on, in human form, whereupon Durga thrust Shiva's trident into his chest in order to wipe out the demons completely. In Bengal the festival called Durgapuja is celebrated annually to commemorate the victory over the buffalo demon (September / October). On the tenth day, young buffaloes are sacrificed in honor of the Durga-Kali by cutting their heads with a sword. And that was not the only heroic deed of Durga: with great ease she killed other powerful demons such as Shumbha, Raktajiva or Nishumba.

4th aspect: Potash:
Properties: "The dark one", "the terrible one", "the black one", the "mistress of time". The word Kali comes from the word "kaala" which means both black and time. Kali embodies time and nature. Horrible, violent and terrifying aspect of the goddess. Bloodthirsty goddess of destruction. Goddess of death and at the same time protective goddess, conqueror of demons. On the outside it is death and destruction, but inside it is loving and caring. She appears to her most sincere followers in a most loving and protective form. To the onlookers, Kali's anger appears frightening and destructive, but to the beloved admirer it brings freedom and protection from his own destructive self. When one worships Kali with love, her drastic aspect ceases to instill fear. She is at home on pyres and cremation sites. Accordingly, Kali is also accompanied by animals that live in cremation areas: wolf (Vrka), jackal (Srgala) or dog (Svan). Kali is also the smallpox goddess, Sitala, "the cold one".

Presentation: As Kali, she is shown in black with a skull chain and a skirt made from severed hands. She wears snakes or a garland of skulls around her neck (51 human skulls represent the 51 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet), and in her hand she often holds cut-off human heads. Kali is depicted with a terrifying face, large, protruding fangs (the bright white teeth symbolize sattwa, purity), an outstretched tongue (meaning rajas, the active principle in nature) and a third eye on the forehead. Your three eyes see the past, the present and the future. In Bengal in particular, her representations are a grimace mask with protruding red eyes, an oversized, broad face of dark color, with a tongue hanging out and bared tusks as teeth. As Kali, the goddess has 4 arms. One hand shows a mudra, the gesture of encouragement (abhayamudra, driving away fear and promoting spiritual strength). The other hands hold a stylized trident, a noose formed from a snake, which are both symbols of Shiva, as well as a bowl that can be interpreted as both an alms bowl and a blood bowl. Or she is depicted with a sword (Churi, sacrificial sword, with which she severed the bond of bondage) and a severed demon head (Rakshasamunda) or a human head (indicates the destruction of the ego of her followers). Kali is also depicted with a flame aureole around her head. Kali is associated with the left-turning swastika.

Kali cult: Potash has been linked to blood sacrifice. The belief is that only through destruction can something new arise. Kali means the divine power of destruction and at the same time the granting of grace and the expulsion of fear. Kali destroys that which keeps man apart from his divine origin. Love for Kali destroys the fear of death that prevents progress on the spiritual path. It constantly reminds the seeker that salvation cannot be achieved as long as time, space and human limitations bind him. It destroys these limitations and brings freedom. Kali as a divine force fights everything that is unfavorable or not related to God, such as B. Limitations, barriers to enlightenment, ignorance or falsehood. Potash is especially venerated in Bengal, especially Calcutta. In ancient India, human sacrifices were made to the kali. In the temples consecrated to Kali, animal sacrifices (billy goats) are still sometimes offered, although most Hindus reject these animal sacrifices. Blood in any form is forbidden in most temples. For this reason, many temples are not allowed to be visited by people with wounds or by women on their period. Kali is also worshiped because of the heroic victory over the buffalo demon described in the Durga aspect. In Bengal, Kali is celebrated during the Kalipuja festival in October / November.

Sati, Shiva's first wife:
Sati was the daughter of King Daksha and Shiva's first wife. Her death came as follows: Sati's father, Daksha, had performed a mahayagna. Since he did not respect his son-in-law Shiva, he did not invite him and deliberately insulted Shiva in the presence of all guests and his daughter Sati. Sati, who was a devoted woman, could not stand the insults of her husband and burned herself inside and gave up her life. Shiva then fell into inconsolable grief. Parvati is considered to be the rebirth of Sati.

Hindu Mythology Lexicon:

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© Text, graphics and photos: Bernhard Peter 2005