The story of Sandhya & her marriage with Vasishta – Shiva Purana
This is the story of Sandhya i.e., dawn and dusk. The upper half of her body became the Prataḥ Sandhya (dawn) and the lower half of her body became the Shyaṃ Sandhya (dusk). Before the sunrise, when the day breaks, the period is called Prataḥ Sandhya (dawn). It delights the Gods. When the sun has set and assumed the hue of a red lotus, the period of Shyaṃ Sandhya (dusk) sets in. It is delightful to the manes.
A beautiful woman was born of the mind of Brahma. She was variously called Sandhya, Divakṣanta, Sayaṃ Sandhya and Jayantika, she was very beautiful with finely shaped eyebrows capable of captivating the minds of even sages. Sandhya performed a penance on the mountain Candrbhaga, cast off her body and was reborn as Arundhati, the daughter of the excellent sage Medhatithi.
Arundhati performed sacred rites as guided by Vasishta, the mental son of Brahma. Vasishta advised her to meditate silently on Shiva, the sole first cause of all the worlds with the mantra ““Oṃ Namaḥ Saṃkaraya Oṃ”. Vasishta advised her to take only water in the first and second Ṣaṣṭakalas (a period of 4 hrs.) and to observe complete fast [without even taking water] in third Sastakala. The rites were to be performed at the end of each Ṣaṣṭakala. Sandhya worshipped Shiva with the mantra and performed penance as per procedure explained by Vasishta.
A period of four Yugas elapsed during which she continued her great penance with mind fixed and duly concentrated on Shiva. Propitiated by her penance Shiva was greatly delighted. He revealed Himself to her within and without as well as in the heaven. Shiva became visible to her in the form in which she was meditating upon him. She rejoiced much on seeing in front of her, the lord Shiva with face beaming with delight, in the same form as she was meditating on. As she remained with eyes shut, Shiva entered her heart and blessed her with divine wisdom, divine speech, and divine eyes. She thus acquired divine wisdom, divine eyes, and divine speech. Directly perceiving the lord of Durga, she eulogized the lord Shiva.
Sandhya said: --
When Shiva vanished after granting her the boons, Sandhya too went to the place where Medhatithi was performing sacrifice. She entered the sacrificial hall without being observed by anyone. Meditating on that Brahmachari Vasishta, her tutor in the mode of austerities, Sandhya thought of him as her future husband, and entered the blazing sacrificial fire unobserved by the sages.
The god of fire sent forth her body to the pure zone of the sun. The sun severed her body into two halves and placed the same on his own chariot for the propitiation of the Pitṛs and the Devas. The upper half of her body became the Prataḥ Sandhya (dawn) and the lower half of her body became the Shyaṃ Sandhya (dusk). Before the sunrise, when the day breaks, the period is called Prataḥ Sandhya. It delights the Gods. When the sun has set and assumed the hue of a red lotus, the period of Shyaṃ Sandhya sets in. It is delightful to the manes.
At the end of the sacrifice, the sage found his daughter in the sacrificial pit shining lustrously like heated gold. With very great delight the sage took up the daughter, as though she were a sacrificial article. He bathed her and kept her on his lap. The great sage gave her the name Arundhati. Surrounded by his disciples he celebrated the event joyously. The word Arundhati means “one who does not hinder sacred rites in any manner whatsoever”. She acquired this name which later became well-known in the three worlds.
The divine lady grew up in the hermitage, Tapasaraṇya, on the banks of the river—Candrabhaga. When she reached her fifth year, the chaste lady sanctified the environs of the Tapasaraṇya and the river Candrabhaga, by virtue of her good qualities. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva got her marriage celebrated with Vasiṣṭha, the son of Brahma. She secured Vasiṣṭha and bore the auspicious sons Shakti etc.
Reference: Shiva purana, Rudra-saṃhita, Sati Khanda, Chapter 5, 6 & 7
Story of Engagement of Parvati with Shiva – Shiva Purana
Gods eulogised mother goddess of universe who is the personified energy of the gods Vishnu, Brahma, and Rudra, representing the three qualities Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. On being eulogised by Gods, the mother goddess said, “I shall take a full incarnation on the earth. Later, Sati became the daughter of Himalaya and Mena. On being advised by Narada, the goddess was named Parvati. Narada informed them about her auspicious signs and that Her husband will be a naked Yogi, nirguna. On hearing Narada’s words, both Mena and Himalaya were much distressed.
Mena wished to perform the marriage of her daughter with a handsome bridegroom. But Himalaya said: --
“The sage’s statement will never be false. If you feel affectionate towards your daughter, zealously instruct your daughter. Let her perform the penance with Shiva as the object, devotedly and steadily. If Shiva is delighted, He will marry her. Everything shall be auspicious.”
Discussions of Shiva & Parvati:
When a few days passed by, lord Shiva came there and said: --
“I have come to perform penance in secret on your top. Make arrangements so that my penance can be conducted without obstacles.”
Himalaya said: --
“O lord, my daughter who is eager to serve you, I have brought here with a desire to propitiate you. Let her serve you, the benefactor, for ever, along with two of her maids. O lord, if you wish to bless me, please permit her.”
On hearing his words, the great lord of the gods broke His meditation, opened His eyes, thought a little and spoke. Lord Shiva said: --
“O mountain, you shall come every day to see me, leaving your daughter in your abode. Otherwise, I cannot be seen. I am an ascetic, a yogi, never affected by illusion. O mountain, by contact with a woman, worldliness springs up; non-attachment perishes, and the virtuous penance is destroyed.”
Parvati said: --
“O Yogi, you perform this great penance because you possess the energy of penance. Your intellect is inclined to perform penance because you are a noble soul. That energy is the Prakriti, the cause of all activities. Everything is created, sustained, and destroyed by it. You are worthy of the worship, respect, and meditation of all living beings for ever, thanks to Prakriti.” Shiva laughed and said: -
“I am destroying the Prakriti with my great penance. I remain without Prakriti. Indeed, Prakriti should not be taken in by good people. They should remain unaffected eschewing all worldly conduct.”
Parvati said. --
O lord Shiva, based on what you said how can that Prakriti ceases to exist and how can you be considered beyond that Prakriti? All these (the universe etc) are bound by Prakriti continuously. Hence you shall not say anything, not do anything. Know that speaking, doing etc. is a Prakriti activity. Without me, you are attribute less and incompetent to perform any activity.
On hearing these words of Parvati based on the Samkhya system, Shiva replied to her, upholding the Vedanta’s point of view. Lord Shiva said: --
If I am the Brahman, the supreme lord, unsullied by illusion, comprehensible through spiritual knowledge and the master of illusion what will you do then?
Then, Shiva with the permission of Himalaya started penance there. Parvati approached Shiva every day with two maids for serving Him with devotion. Parvati served Him every day with great devotion, always thinking on the form of that Great Soul.
Kama reduced to ashes:
In the meantime, Indra, other gods and the sages, being harassed by Taraka demon, eagerly sent Kama there at the bidding of Brahma to unite Parvati and Shiva in love. After reaching there Kama tried all his tricks but Shiva was not at all agitated. He reduced Kama to ashes and vanished from there.
Penance of Parvati:
When Shiva had vanished after burning Kama, Parvati became extremely agitated due to His separation. Then, Narada asked Parvati to propitiate Him by performing a great penance. Narada taught her the five-syllabled mantra of Shiva (Om Namah Shivay) in accordance with the sacred law and informed that it yields all cherished desires, bestows all worldly pleasures and salvation, and appeals much to Shiva.
She performed penance in the excellent holy centre Shṛngitirtha which (later) acquired the title “Gauri-Shikhara due to her performance of penance thereon. Fixing her mind in Shiva alone she remained firm and steady. She gradually reduced her food intake and spent three thousand years in the penance-grove performing penance. Due to Parvati’s penance, the universe started scorching.
Consent for marriage by Shiva with Parvati:
Vishnu accompanied by Brahma & other deities went to Shiva. Vishnu said: --
“O Shiva, all the gods have come here to submit to you their misery perpetrated mysteriously by Taraka. The demon Taraka will be killed only by your self-begotten son and not otherwise. Accept Parvati for marriage. She is full of noble attributes.”
Shiva said: --
“If goddess Parvati, the most beautiful lady was to be accepted by me, she will be able to resuscitate Kama on account of the marriage. Then all the gods, sages and ascetics will become lusty and incompetent in the great path of Yoga. Kama was burnt by me for the achievement of universal goal. May you all stay free from lust certainly along with me. So, you can be endowed with the supreme bliss and be free from aberrations by means of spiritual contemplation. Kama leads to hell; lust to anger, anger to delusion and delusion destroys penance.”
Shiva became quiet after resorting to meditation again. The gods eulogised Shiva with many piteous entreaties. Shiva said: — “O, Vishnu, O Brahma, O Indra, and other gods, why have you all collectively come here in my presence? Tell me the truth.”
Vishnu said: --
“O Shiva, many kinds of miseries have befallen us due to the demon Taraka. It is for that that you have been propitiated by the gods. On hearing the words of the gods, Shiva said: --
“I know the sufferings you undergo from the demon Taraka. I shall remove them. Although I am not interested at all in dalliance, I shall marry Parvati for begetting a son.”
Test of Parvati:
Shiva asked Vasishta and other six celestial sages to conduct the test the resolve of Parvati to marry him. The sages went to Gauri-Shikara and said her: --
“Why do you perform this penance? Which God do you wish to propitiate? For what purpose? Please tell us now.”
Parvati said: --
“At the behest of the celestial sage I am performing this steady penance with the desire that Rudra be my husband.”
On hearing her words, the sages honoured Parvati mentally with pleasure but spoke these deceptive false words laughingly. The sages said: --
Narada is a quibbler. He misleads others. They narrate her, how Narada misled sons of Daksha. At his instance, they never went back home to their father. At another instance, there was a Vidyadhara named Chitraketu. The sage instructed him and made him detached from his house. He bestowed his instructions on Prahlada and made him suffer much at the hands of Hiraṇyakashipu.
He is a person who splits others’ intellect. Whomsoever this sage advocates his philosophy, very pleasing to the ears, generally the same person discards his hearth and home and begins to beg for alms. You too who are honoured by the wise have followed his advice and thus become a fool. That is why you are performing this severe penance.
The trident-bearing Shiva has an inauspicious body, is free from shame and has no home or pedigree. He is naked and ill-featured. He associates with ghosts and goblins and the like. At first, he married Sati, the chaste daughter of Dakṣha, eagerly but he could not maintain the household even for a few days.
He is single without a second and without attachment. He is after salvation, how can a woman put up with him. Cast off this foolish intention. You will benefit thereby. A befitting bridegroom for you is lord Vishnu endowed with all good qualities. He is a resident of Vaikuṇṭha, lord of wealth and is skilled in sports. O Parvati, with him we shall fix your marriage that will confer all happiness on you. On hearing these words, Parvati, the mother of the universe, laughed and spoke to the wise sages. Parvati said: --
“O excellent sages, what you have said may be true according to your light and wisdom; but O brahmins, my tenacity cannot be affected. When you glorify Vishnu as the abode of noble qualities or as a sportive deity I do not contradict. As to your statement that Sadashiv is devoid of attributes, I shall tell you the reason. Shiva is Brahman, unchanging and without aberration. He assumes shapes and forms for the welfare of his devotees. He does not make a show of worldly lordship. Shiva is a supreme bliss personified and an Avadhuta in form. The lord is devoid of attributes, unborn, free from illusion, of invisible movement and a cosmic Being. Shiva does not shower His blessings on the ground of faith, caste etc. I know Shiva truly only through the blessings of the preceptor. O brahmins, if Shiva does not marry me, I shall remain for ever a virgin. Truth, I tell you the truth.”
After saying thus and bowing to those sages, the daughter of the mountain stopped and remembered Shiva with an unruffled mind. On realising the resoluteness of Parvati, the sages hailed her and bestowed excellent blessings upon her. They immediately returned to Shiva’s abode.
The sages said to Shiva: --
“Please invite and summon Vishnu with his retinue, Brahma with his sons, lord Indra,70 all the sages, Yakṣas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Siddhas, Vidyadharas, heavenly nymphs and others. All of them will jointly accomplish everything for you. There is no doubt about it. Go to the abode of Himalaya and marry Parvati in accordance with the customs for the sake of a son.”
Saying this and taking His permission the seven sages joyfully returned to their abodes praising the way of Shiva.
Himalaya on the urge of brothers & relatives, caused the letter of betrothal (engagement) to be written by Garga, his priest. He despatched the letter of betrothal to Shiva along with articles of homage through his kinsmen. Those people arrived at Kailash and handed over the letter to Shiva after applying the holy mark on his forehead. After being duly honoured by the lord, they returned highly delighted to the penance of the mountain.
The dialogues of Shiva and Parvati have lucidly explained the concepts of Samkhya and Vedanta and their relevance in human life.
Chapters 21 to 37 in Parvati Khanda of Shiva Purana
The story of birth of Sati & wedding with Shiva – Shiva Purana
Brahma ji did laudatory prayers to Goddess Durga and sought her blessings to take birth as Daksha’s daughter and become Rudra’s wife for the benefit of the universe.
Daksha begot of his wife sixty daughters. He performed their marriages with Dharma and others. Daksha gave ten of his daughters duly in marriage to Dharma, thirteen to Kashyap the sage, and twenty-seven to the moon. He gave two daughters each to Bhṛgu, Angiras and Kṛsasva. The other daughters were given to Tarkṣya. The sons and grandsons and descendants of these filled the three worlds. A detailed narration is not attempted here.
Birth of Sati:
After the birth of his daughter (Sati), Daksha Prajapati and his wife meditated on the mother of the universe with pleasure. Daksha, on seeing Sati blooming in the proper age thought within— “How shall I give my daughter to Shiva?” She too desired to attain Shiva. Her desire grew every day. After knowing her father’s idea, she approached her mother. Sati, the great Goddess of wide intellect, sought the permission of her mother to perform the penance with Shiva as the goal, for the happiness of her mother Viriṇi. Firmly resolved in her desire to secure Shiva as her husband, she propitiated him in her own house with the permission of her mother. She worshipped Shiva with great devotion and offered cooked rice with jaggery & gingelly seeds, Belva fruits & leaves, Palash, Daman & Brhati flowers, sacred threads & cloths. Keeping strict control over her diet and repeating various mantras she worshipped Shiva with different fruits, flowers and leaves fresh and readily available. The Goddess Sati who had assumed human form out of her will, became firmly devoted to the worship of Shiva on every day and month. Concluding all the sacred rites of Nanda, Sati began to meditate on Shiva with concentrated devotion. She was steady and she never thought of anyone else. She was completely engrossed in meditating on Shiva. She had reached the stage of the enlightened seers.
Eulogy of Shiva by Brahma, Vishnu & other deities and Shiva agreeing to marry:
Brahma, Vishnu & other deities approached Shiva with great joy and lauded Him with various hymns: -
After eulogising the great lord, all the Devas, Vishnu and others, stood silently in front of the lord with their shoulders stooping down with great devotion. On seeing Brahma and Vishnu in the company of their consorts, Shiva addressed them suitably and asked them the purpose of their visit.
Brahma said: --
O bull-emblemed deity, we have come here particularly for your sake. O great lord, some demons are to be killed by me, some by Vishnu, some by you and some of them would be killed by your son. The universe can attain peace and fearlessness only after destroying the demons. Though our real form is one, we are different in as much as our activities are different. If there is no functional difference, the difference in forms is meaningless. The same supreme Atman, lord Shiva manifests in three different ways due to Maya. The lord is independent in his divine sports. Vishnu and I have become united with our wives for the performance of our function. For the benefit of the universe, for the happiness of the devas, you must accept an auspicious lady as your wife. O great lord, you yourself as Shiva mentioned this to us formerly, “Brahma is the cause of creation, Vishnu is sustainer. I shall be the cause of dissolution in the form of Rudra, a Saguṇa form. I shall marry a woman and perform the excellent function.”
O Shiva, accept a beloved wife as a life companion in the same manner as Vishnu has taken the Goddess of the lotus (Lakshmi) and I have taken the goddess of speech. On hearing these words, Shiva spoke with his face beaming with a smile.
Shiva said: --
O Brahma, O Vishnu, both of you are always dear to me. On seeing you both, my delight is enhanced indeed. It is not proper for me to marry as I am detached from the world and engaged in penance. I always practise Yoga. Of what avail is a beloved to me in this world since I am in the path of abstinence delighting myself in my own soul, freed of attachment, unsullied, with the body of an ascetic, possessed of knowledge, seeing himself, free from aberrations and a non-reveller. Besides I am always unclean and inauspicious. Hence say now what can I do with a loving wife? Even as I am engaged in Yoga, I experience the mystic Bliss. Only a man devoid of perfect knowledge will make much of marriage and desire it. Considering your weighty words for the fulfilment of my promise and the goal of my task, I shall marry. She must be a Yogini when I practise Yoga and a loving woman when I indulge in love. There is another condition to which please also listen, O Brahma. If she evinces a disbelief in me or in what I say, I shall abandon her.
Brahma said: --
She is Uma. Formerly she manifested herself in the forms of Sarasvati and Lakshmi in order to fulfil her task. Lakshmi became the wife of Vishnu and Sarasvati mine. From her desire for the welfare of the world she has taken a third form. She is born now as Daksha’s daughter in the name of Sati. O lord, she will be an ideal wife. At present she is performing penance for securing you. She is firm in her austere rites. She desires you as her husband. Indeed, she is highly brilliant. Grant her the desired boon. Then lovingly marry her.
Vishnu said: --
O great lord, the lord of devas, marrying her please make the three worlds blessed with a leader with benignant look.
Sati granted the boon:
In the Hindu month of Ashvin (September-October), Sati observed a fast on the eighth day of the bright half and worshipped Shiva with great devotion. When her Nanda rites were concluded on the ninth day (Navami), while she was engrossed in meditation, Shiva became visible to her. On seeing Shiva directly, she bent her head from shyness, and she knelt at his feet.
Shiva said: --
O daughter of Daksha, of good rites, I am delighted by these rites you have observed. Choose a boon. I shall grant it whatever it may be. Suppressing her bashfulness when Sati spoke “As you please give unto me, O bestower of boons, the desired boon or the bridegroom of my desire, without any hindrance,”, did not wait for the completion of her request and said— “you be my wife.” She was highly delighted on obtaining the boon (or bridegroom) stationed in her mind.
Sati said: --
O great lord of Devas, lord of the universe, please take me with due marital rites in the presence of my father.
On hearing these words of Sati, Shiva, favourably disposed to His devotees, glanced lovingly at her and said— “So be it.” After receiving His consent, she returned to her mother with a fascinating gaiety. Shiva also returned to His hermitage. The parents who obtained the news through her friends were very glad and celebrated a great festival.
Sati’s marriage with Shiva:
While Daksha was constantly thinking of the procedure of handing over his daughter to Shiva, Brahma appeared and Daksha to offer his daughter to Shiva for whom she has been intended. On hearing these words of mine, my son Daksha was highly delighted. He said delightfully. “It is so. It is so.” Then, Brahma informed Shiva, Daksha has said “My daughter shall go to Him. She has been intended for Him. This has been my desire.” Rudra said to Brahma, “I shall go to his house accompanied by you and Narada. Remember your mental as well as physical sons—Marici and others. O Brahma, with all my attendants and with them I shall go to Daksha’s house.”
In the bright half of the month of Chaitra (March-April) on the thirteenth day when the star was Uttara Phalguna on a Sunday, lord Shiva started. The hides of elephant and tiger, the serpents, the crescent moon and the matted hair, all became fitting ornaments and embellishments at Shiva’s will. Then, Shiva reached Daksha’s abode seated on his speedy bull and along with Vishnu and others.
With great humility and boundless joy, Daksha along with his people welcomed Him. Then Daksha took Shiva within the house along with the devas and the sages. After performing the suitable worship, Daksha in the presence of respectable sages announced the marriage agreement. Then Daksha said to Brahma, his father, “the marriage rites shall be performed by you.” Then preliminary rites were performed. Daksha joyfully gave his daughter Sati to Shiva. There were great festivities
with songs and dances. Everything concluded auspiciously.
Then, Shiva said: — “O Brahma, all the rites of marriage have been performed extremely well. I am pleased. You officiated as the priest. What shall I give you as the nuptial fee?
Brahma said: --
“O lord of Devas, if you are pleased, please do as I request you with pleasure. For the purification of men from sins you will please stay for ever in this altar in this self-same form. If anyone visits this holy site on the thirteenth day in the bright half of Chaitra (March-April) when the star is Uttar Phalguna and the day is Sunday, may all his sins be quelled O Shiva; may his merits increase and may his ailments disappear. On hearing these words of mine, Shiva was pleased, and He said, “Let it be so”. After saying this, the Shiva in the company of his wife stayed in the middle of the altar creating a partial image of Himself. With the joyous consent of Daksha, Shiva seated Sati on the bull and then sitting Himself on it went to the Himalayan ridges. Vishnu, as also the Gods and sages with joyful beaming faces returned to their respective abodes.
Reference: Shiv Purana, Sati Khanda, Chapter – 14 to 18