The Story of Parvati-Jatila dialogue – Shiva Purana
In Chapter 26 to 29 of Parvati Khanda of Siva Purana, there are dialogues of Shiva and Parvati whence Shiva came in guise of Jatila (an ascetic with matted hair) to test the penance of the goddess. He went to the forest of penance of Parvati. He took the form of a very old man with the body of a brahmin.
On seeing that brahmin of wonderful refulgence come, goddess Parvati worshipped Him with all the articles of worship.
Parvati said: --
“Who are you and whence have you come in the guise of a Brahmachari? You are making this forest refulgent by your splendour.”
The brahmin said: --
“I am an aged brahmin roaming about as I please. I am an intelligent ascetic bestowing happiness and helping others. Who are you? What is your parentage? Why do you perform penance in this isolated forest? Your penance cannot be surpassed even by the sages of eminent status. You are neither a small girl nor an old woman. You appear to be an auspicious young woman. How is it that you are performing this penance even when you are unmarried? O gentle lady, are you the wife of an ascetic who does not provide you with food and shelter and so leaving you has gone to another place? Tell me, in which family are you born? Who is your father? What are your undertakings? You are very fortunate. Futile is your interest in penance. Are you the mother of the Vedas? Are you Lakshmi or Sarasvati? I dare not guess who you are?”
Parvati said: --
“O brahmin, I am not the mother of the Vedas, nor Lakshmi nor Sarasvati. I am the daughter of Himalaya, and my name is Parvati. Previously I had been born as Sati, the daughter of Dakṣha. By Yogic means I cast off my body since my husband was insulted by my father. Even in this life, Shiva came to me but due to ill luck, He reduced Kama to ashes, left me and went away. O brahmin, when Shiva went away, I came out of my father’s house, being greatly dejected, to perform this steady penance on the banks of the celestial river. Even after performing this severe penance for a long time, I could not attain Him. I was just to consign myself to fire but on seeing you, I have stopped for a while. Now you can go. I shall enter fire since I have not been accepted by Shiva. Wherever I take birth I shall woo only Shiva.”
“After saying so, Parvati jumped into the fire in the presence of the brahmin although she was forbidden by Him again and again. Even as she jumped into the fire, it became as cool as sandal paste due to her ascetic power. The brahmin stopped her standing on her way as she was trying to go away and asked her laughingly. O gentle lady, I cannot understand anything. Your penance is wonderful. Your body is not charred by the fire. Still your desire remains unsatiated so far. Let me know about your desire; I am a brahmin who can bestow pleasure upon everyone. Please tell me everything truly and methodically. Since we have become friends, nothing should be kept a secret from me. I wish to ask you now. Whom do you wish to have as your husband? It is in you that the fruit of penance is seen. If your penance is for others or for the supreme object, wherefore should you perform it at all? You had a jewel in your hand, you cast it off and have taken up a base metal instead. Hence tell me the reason, truthfully, for this penance.”
Thus, asked by him, Parvati urged her maid. She of good rites made everything narrated to him through her maid.
The maid informed: -
“This my friend is the daughter of Himalaya, lord of mountains. She is the daughter of Menaka named Kali but famous as Parvati. She is not married to anyone, nor does she desire any other than Shiva for her husband. She has performed this penance for three thousand years. My friend has been performing severe penance at the bidding of Narada to make her beauty fruitful, to embellish her father’s race and to bless Kama. She has directed this penance to lord Shiva. O holy ascetic how is it that her desire is not fulfilled.”
The ascetic said: --
“The maid has said something, but I deduce only a huge joke therefrom. If it be true, let the gentle lady herself speak out.”
Parvati said: --
“I am telling you the truth and not a lie. Shiva has been wooed by me, by mind, speech, and action as well as by means of ascetic feelings.”
The brahmin said: --
“So long I had been desirous of knowing what our gentle lady craves for that she performs this great penance. I have now known it through your own words. I am now going away from this place.”
After saying these words to her when he proposed to go, goddess Parvati bowed to and spoke to the brahmin.
Parvati said: --
“O excellent brahmin, why do you go? Stay and tender me wholesome advice”.
When she said thus, the staff-bearing brahmin stopped and spoke. The brahmin said: --
“If you are stopping me with devotion, truly desirous of hearing then I shall explain everything whereby you may gain some wisdom. I know Shiva through and through with all His weighty attributes. I shall tell you the truth. The great lord is bull-bannered. His body is smeared with ashes. His hair is matted. He is clad in the hide of a tiger. He has covered His body with the hide of an elephant. He holds the skull. Serpents twine round His limbs. Poison has left a mark on his neck. He eats even forbidden stuffs. He has odd eyes and is awful. His birth and pedigree cannot be traced. He is devoid of the enjoyment of a householder. He has ten arms. He is mostly naked and is ever accompanied by ghosts and goblins. What is the reason whereby you wish Him to be your husband? O gentle lady, where has your wisdom gone? Think well and tell me.
You are a jewel among women. Your father is the king of all mountains. Why do you crave for a husband like this and that too by means of a severe penance? Discarding the life at home you yearn for a life in the forest. There is no matching beauty between you both. Your friend Kama was burnt by Shiva. He insulted you also by leaving you off and going elsewhere. His caste is not recognised. He has no learning or wisdom. His assistants are the ghosts. Poison is seen even in His throat. He also moves about in isolation. He is detached from everything particularly. Hence you cannot fix your mind in Him. Where your necklace and where the garland of skulls that he wears? Where your rich divine unguent and where the ash from the funeral pyre that He has on His body?
Real Form of Shiva explained by Ma Parvati:
On hearing these words of that brahmin, Parvati said angrily to the brahmin who discredited Shiva. Parvati said: --
“So long I have been thinking that someone else has come. Now everything has become clear. You are a person who cannot be killed. You have now come in the form of a student ascetic for the sake of deceiving me. Using false arguments, you have spoken fraudulent words. I know the real form of Shiva very particularly. I shall therefore explain Shiva’s reality. He is in fact devoid of attributes- But for some reasons He takes up attributes. How can He have a birth, he who is really attribute less but takes up attributes? Of what avail is learning to Him who is perfect and the supreme soul? At the beginning of the Kalpa, all the Vedas were given by Shiva to Vishnu in the form of breath. Who can be a good lord equal to Him? How can He be measured in age, He who is primordial to everything and everyone? Even primordial nature (Prakriti) is born of Him. Of what avail is then Energy to Him? With the threefold Energies, Shiva blesses those who worship Him always as the lord of Energies. Every individual soul becomes fearless and conquers death by worshipping Him. Hence His designation ‘the conqueror of death’ is famous in all the three worlds. Vishnu attains and retains his Vishnu-hood by His favour. Similarly, Brahma his Brahma-hood and the gods their godhood. Whenever the lord of the gods wants to see Shiva, he has to propitiate His gatekeepers, the ghosts etc. What is deficient in that lord? Does Sadashiv like me? Even if a person is perpetually poor for seven lives, after serving Shiva, his prosperity becomes unhampered. How can he find benefit inaccessible—he in whose presence the eight Siddhis (Superhuman faculties) dance always for the sake of propitiation with speechless mouths or with lowered faces. Although Shiva resorts to inauspicious things yet by thinking on Him everything becomes auspicious. His worship fulfils all desires. How can there be aberration in Him who always remains in an unmodified state. If, as you say, the ash from the funeral pyre is unholy, how is it that the same transferred to Shiva’s body is taken thence and worn on the head by the gods? How can He be easily realised, He who is the deity that creates, sustains, and annihilates the worlds, all the same who is devoid of attributes and is termed Shiva? The form of Shiva, the supreme soul, is that of Brahman, devoid of attributes. You have censured Shiva of immeasurable splendour and I have worshiped you, hence I have become sinful. On seeing a person who hates Shiva one should take bath along with one’s clothes. On seeing a person who hates Shiva one should perform expiatory rites. O wicked one, you profess knowledge of Shiva. But you should know that the eternal Shiva is not known at all. Whatever may be the form or feature of Shiva, He is still He is my favourite. He is without aberration and beloved of the good. Neither Vishnu nor Brahma can equal that noble soul. How can then the gods and others be? They are always dependent on Time and are not eternal. After realising this with my sharp intellect factually, I have come to this forest and am performing the elaborate penance for attaining Shiva. My ambition is to attain the supreme lord who is favourably disposed to His devotees and who blesses the distressed.”
After saying this, Parvati, the daughter of the mountain, stopped and meditated on Shiva with unaffected mind. On hearing the words of the goddess when the brahmin ascetic began to say something, Parvati whose mind was fixed on Shiva and who was averse to hear any disparaging remarks about Shiva spoke immediately to Vijaya, her maid.”
Parvati said: --
“This base brahmin must be prevented strenuously. He is inclined to say something again. He will surely censure Shiva. Not only does he who disparages Shiva incur sin but also, he who hears the same. A person who disparages Shiva is worthy of being killed by Shiva’s attendants. If it is a brahmin he must be dismissed, or the hearer shall go away from that place immediately. Let us leave this place at once and go elsewhere. Let there be no more talk with this ignorant man.”
Saying this, even as Parvati was about to step ahead, the brahmin manifesting as Shiva clasped his beloved. After assuming the handsome form in the manner Parvati had meditated upon and manifesting it to Parvati, Shiva addressed her while she stood with her lowered head.
Shiva said: --
“Where will you go, leaving me? You are not to be discarded again by me. I am delighted. Tell me what boon I shall grant you. There is nothing that cannot be given to you. From today I am your slave bought by you by performing penance. I have been bought by your beauty. Even a moment appears like a Yuga. O Parvati, O great Goddess, you are my eternal wife. Let this shyness be eschewed. You please ponder with your keen intellect. O steady-minded one, you have been tested by me in various ways. Let my guilt be excused in following this worldly game. Even in the three worlds I do not see a beloved like you. O Parvati, in every respect I am subservient to you. You can fulfil all your desires. O beloved, come on near me. You are my wife. I am your bridegroom. I shall immediately go to my abode—the excellent mountain, along with you.”
When the lord of the gods spoke in this way, Parvati rejoiced. Whatever distress she had felt during penance she cast off as something old. In fact, when the fruit is realised, the exertion felt during the process of undertaking perishes.
Shiva (in real form)-Parvati dialogue:
On hearing the words of Shiva, the great Soul and on seeing His pleasant form and features Parvati was delighted much. Goddess Parvati replied: -
“O lord of gods, you are my husband. Has it been forgotten by you why you destroyed the sacrifice of Dakṣa formerly with great tenacity? I am born of Mena for the achievement of the task of the gods terrified to the quick by Taraka. If you are delighted, if you are sympathetic, O lord, become my husband. With your permission I am going to my father’s abode. Let your pure great glory be made well known. O lord, you will please go to Himalaya. Be the mendicant and beg of him, me as your alms. Thus, you start your householder’s life. There is no doubt that my father with his kinsmen will accede to your request as he has already been urged by the sages lovingly.
Formerly as Dakṣa’s daughter I was offered to you by my father. But the marriage rites were not duly performed then. The planets were not worshipped by my father. Therefore, a great defect occurred in our marriage in regard to the planets. Hence, O lord, you will celebrate marriage in accordance with the rules for the fulfilment of the task of the gods.”
On hearing these words, Sadashiv was highly delighted. Laughingly and lovingly, He spoke to Parvati. Shiva said --
“See that our marriage rites are performed in the proper manner without deficiency. All the living beings Brahma and others are non-eternal. All these visible things are perishable. The attribute less took over the attributes. That which is self-luminous had other lights imposed on it. O gentle lady, I, the independent, have been made subservient by you. You alone are the great illusory power, the Primordial nature that creates. This entire universe has been made of illusion; it is held by the supreme soul with His great intellect. It is united and enveloped by the Gaṇas of the nature of pervading souls of meritorious deeds, akin to the nature of supreme soul. We two have created the universe different in attributes and actions for the sake of the devotees and with a disposition favourable to them. You are indeed the subtle primordial nature consisting of Rajas, Sattva and Tamas. You are capable of perpetual activity. You are both possessed and devoid of attributes. Of all living beings I am the soul without aberration without yearnings. I take up bodies at the requests and wishes of my devotees.
O daughter of the mountain, I will not go up to Himalaya your father. I will not become a mendicant and beg of him for you.
O daughter of the lord of mountains, even a weighty person endowed with great qualities, even a noble soul, is considered base immediately after uttering the words— “Please give me”.
Parvati said: --
“You are the cosmic soul, and I am the cosmic nature. There is nothing to deliberate on this. We two are independent and subservient to the devotees. We two are both possessed and devoid of attributes. O lord Shiva, with effort, you will please do according to my request. O Shiva, beg of Himalaya for me. O great lord, be sympathetic. I am your devotee for ever. I am your wife for ever in ever birth. You are Brahman, the great soul, devoid of attributes greater than primordial nature, without aberration, free from yearnings, independent, great lord. Still, you are possessed of attributes too and enthusiastic in the uplift of the devotees. You sport about in your own soul engrossed in it and you are clever in your different sports. Take pity on me.”
Thus, addressed by her, Shiva of the noble soul, just to follow and imitate the worldly conventions thought that it should be so. Being desirous of doing so he rejoiced. Then Shiva vanished. With a great delight He went to Kailash.