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