“The higher planetary systems begin with the sun planet, which is situated in the middle of the universe. Beyond the sun there are other planetary systems where persons who are elevated by great austerities and penances are situated. The entire material universe is called Devidhama, and above it there is Shivadhama, where Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati eternally reside.” (Teachings Of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 14)Download this episode (right click and save)
The material world is in good hands. Obviously, many people would beg to differ. They could take the current day’s newspaper as proof. The perception gleaned from the many stories brings to mind the famous saying, “Rome is burning.”
After all, children are being killed in the womb. Though the mother is the first protector of the newborn, a nurturer by nature, to redress the mistake of sense gratification gone wrong, there is abortion. Though there are plenty of grains, milk, fruits, vegetables, and water available for consumption, man is addicted to intoxicants and insistent on killing innocent animals for food. Politicians lie, cheat and steal to get ahead. The more dishonest they are, the more popular they become.
Nevertheless, everything is going according to plan. The laws of karma are flawless; that is they work without fail. The material nature operates under the combination of mother and father, known as Parvati and Shiva. These are two famous divine figures of the Vedic tradition. The details of their marriage speak to the impeccable character found in each.
1. Shiva was married before, but actually to the same person
Eka-patni-vrata. This is Mahadeva’s vow. He is the great god, almost equivalent to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is not a conditioned living entity temporarily filling the role of demigod. Lord Shiva perpetually worships the lotus feet of Shri Rama, which is a special form of the Supreme Lord.
Mahadeva is known for his dispassion. He takes only one wife, as he is not lusty. After seeing her husband insulted by her father Daksha, Sati voluntarily enters into fire to end her life. Lord Shiva maintains his vow to keep only one wife, but Sati is born again to the mountain king named Himavan.
Shiva is destined to marry the king’s daughter, who is known as Parvati. She is also known by other names, such as Durga and Bhagavati. She is Gauri due to her beautiful, fair complexion. Though Shiva marries again, his vow is not violated.
2. Parvati undergoes tremendous austerities prior to the marriage
The traveler of the three worlds, Narada Muni, visits the house of Himavan and informs the king that Parvati is destined to marry Shiva. Hearing these words and taking them to heart, Parvati goes to the forest to undergo rigid austerities for many years. This is for the purpose of purification. Though she was already qualified to marry the husband she had from a previous life, she took the words of her spiritual master very seriously.
3. She turns down the offer to marry Vishnu
Mahadeva was hesitant to marry again, but he agreed to after Shri Rama made the request. Lord Shiva is the perfect devotee in that way; he sacrifices his own desires for the will of the Divine. When he heard about Parvati’s austerities, Mahadeva sent the seven rishis to test her.
First, they attempted to put down Shiva, calling him a homeless person who has no desires. They also brought up how every person that Narada advises ends up leaving home; implying that his advice shouldn’t be taken seriously. They then even offered to have Parvati marry Vishnu. Vishnu is non-different from Shri Rama. He is one of the three guna-avataras who manage the creation.
Parvati politely declined the offer. If they had said something earlier, then maybe she would follow that route. But Narada’s instructions were already given. Having an impeccable character, Parvati was not about to go back on her vow. She would either marry Mahadeva or forever remain unmarried.
4. Parvati’s mother and friends pity her
In his role as guna-avatara, Mahadeva is in charge of the mode of ignorance. Put more simply, the worst kind of people worship him, those who don’t know what is right and wrong, and who have no idea how to properly advance in life even materially. Mahadeva is an ideal match for people in ignorance. He looks quite strange, as he has no clothes, has snakes all over him, and has ashes smeared on his body. Indeed, the full picture is so out there that it would easily win first prize in a Halloween costume contest.
Lord Shiva’s entourage arriving for the wedding looked even more strange. The picture was so frightening that many children of attendees of the wedding ran back to their parents. The parents then explained what was going on. Parvati’s mother was in tears upon seeing Mahadeva. She lamented that the creator had basically cursed the family by giving such an ugly husband to her beautiful daughter.
The ever-wise Parvati then explained everything to her mother. Every person’s happiness and sadness is already predetermined. There is no reason to lament something that apparently looks bad. Moreover, Shiva is all-auspicious, in spite of the external appearance.
5. Shiva is the ideal husband
In their married life, the husband is the guru and the wife the reverential, respectful, and attentive disciple. What does Lord Shiva teach? What are his instructions? He simply narrates the glories of the Supreme Lord. Lord Shiva is a highly qualified speaker of Rama-katha. He takes great delight in the fact that Rama’s glories are endless. This allows him to keep speaking, and he has the perfect audience in his wife.
The entire universe is under the control of the origin, after all. That origin knows what He is doing; therefore He has put the best people in charge of managing different areas. Shiva and Parvati are the ideal married couple, as they are devoted to Shri Rama in thought, word and deed. Through their blessings, a person can make rapid advancement in bhakti-yoga.
Parvati of universe the mother,
Determined for Shiva, no other.
For austerities to the forest she went,
Listened not to dissuading messengers sent.
When of groom and attendants having a look,
Pity for the bride the family took.
Still glories of her husband knowing,
Couple the ideal married life showing.