September 12, 2011 on 7:00 am
Dear Spiritual Explorer: How many wives did Shiva have? Ronald P., Frankfurt, Germany
Dear Ronald: I have to admit it is very confusing as to how many wives Shiva had exactly. They all appear to be different aspects of Shiva’s energy. The stories are varied and wonderful about how they won his interest. Apparently Shiva was mostly interested in staying in meditation. Brass Meditating Shiva is the statute most representative of this ascetic god, in full lotus posture with eyes closed in meditation.
AdiShakti was the heavenly wife of Shiva, Lord of all lords. However, when AdiShakti or the great Shakti or Kali incarnates upon the earth, she must do so in the more earthly forms of Sati, Parvati, Uma and Gauri, all of whom had their work cut out to get this guy’s attention. We have all been regaled with the story of Parvati who washed his feet, wiped his brow and laid 16 offerings before him, all to no avail. Advised by the sage Narada to recite Om Namah Shivaya through wind, rain, storm and severe drought, Parvati finally got the notice of Shiva. Another story of Shiva’s hard to get attitude is the story of Uma, who fasted for 10,000 years on nuts and berries to win his heart. Then there is the sad story of Sati who when she felt that her father disrespected Shiva by neither acknowledging his virtues nor inviting him to a particular celebration, she self immolated. The term sati or suttee, a form of suicide, is derived from Sati’s act of self immolation. It used to be a tradition that a woman who had lost her husband in India would commit this act. Hopefully this custom no longer proliferates.
The question always is, what do we women have to do to get attention of men? In the case of Shiva, it would appear to be great transcendence of desires and transmutation of earthly desires where women through sacrifice of human desires, finally win the attention of their beloved. Someone today mentioned that women are still trying to gain the attention of men not as worthy as Shiva by also changing their forms by enlarging or diminishing certain parts of their anatomy. At this venerated time of my life, I would much prefer to say Om Namah Shivaya and have the hope of receiving the attention of a God who feeds my soul rather than my yearnings for transient desires. But that’s my opinion.
Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namah Shivaya!
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