Links of Sandhya Devi-Arundhati-Sati-Parvati:
Shiva Purana narrated an intersting link of the most revered Devis: Lord Brahma created Sandhya and Manmatha as his ‘Manasika’ or mind born children. He got infatuated with Sandhya and Lord Rudra chastised Brahma and the latter looked for an opportunity when Rudra might also be a victim of passion and Vishnu said that Maha Deva was above such temptations. Meanwhile Sandhya Devi who was ashamed of Brahma’s passion resorted to fierce Tapasya to Maha Deva for thousand years under the tutelage of Maharshi Vasishtha in disguise as Sage Medatithi as per Brahma’s instruction. Since there was no response from Shiva she got desperate and tried to jump into the Homa Kunda (The Sacred Fire-Pit) in the Yagna being performed by Medatithi. Shiva made his appearance as she desired that none on her clan should ever be a victim like Brahma, that she should be an example of chastity and her husband should never cast a lustful eye on another woman. Shiva granted her wishes and advised that she might now fall into the fire-pit thinking of a person whom she desired to be her husband in her next birth. Shiva further gave her the boon that she would be the daughter of Daksha Prajapati as Sati Devi and as the daughter of Himavan as Parvati Devi in her subsequent two births. Sandhya then leapt into the fire-pit thinking of Medatithi (Vasishtha) as the husband in the immediate next birth. The Prana Vayu or the Vital Air of Sandhya’s burnt body was carried to the Solar System and Surya Deva converted it into three parts as Pratah Sandhya-Madhyahnika Sandhya and Sayah Sandhya or of the morning-noon-evening timings of a day. The Sages at the Yagna were wonder struck that Sandhya was re-born as a girl-child as named Arundhati and was married to Vasishta when she came of age and earned the examplary fame of chastity; the practice of Vedic weddings is followed by the visioning of the Arundhati Star on the Sky by the new-weds as a part of the wedding procedure till date.
Daksha Yagna, Sati’s sacrifice, Shiva-Parvati’s wedding, Kumara’s birth and Tarakasura Vadha
Brahma blessed Daksha Prajapati to beget a daughter with the ‘Amsha’ or part-manifestation of Devi Bhagavati as Devi Sati. Already Daksha got sixty daughters, ten married to Dharma, thirteen to Kashyapa Muni, twenty seven to Chandra, two to Bhuta Ganas, two to Kushashwa, six to Garuda and so on. As Sati Devi came of age, she fixed her mind on Rudra Deva and resorted to severe Tapasya. Rudra agreed to marry her, Brahma proposed formally and the marriage took place with pomp and show. Sati and Rudra shifted from Kailasa to Himalayas where Bhagavan enlightened Sati Devi on many matters of Spiritual Significance including the nuances of Mantra-Tantra-Yantra and Yoga. But meanwhile, Daksha Prajapati got increasingly jealous of Rudra Deva. At the ill-famed Daksha Yagna, Daksha denied ‘Pradhana Havis’or the prime part of the Yagna to Rudra as per the usual practice and even as Sage Dadhichi pointed out the lacuna, the caution was ignored. Sati Devi felt that there was a mistake made by her father and insisted on attending the yagna despite Shiva’s warning and his subsequent approval with great reluctance asNandi and Rudra Ganas accompanied her. Daksha ignored her entry at the Yagna and in fact talked disparagingly against Rudra Deva. She could not contain Daksha’s criticism of Maha Deva and having produced Yogic Fire ended herself to unite with Bhagavan. As Nandi informed Shiva of the tragedy, the latter pulled out a few hairs from his Jatajuta or the coarse knotted head- hair against a mountain and the energy so created broke the mountain into two parts, one of which having materialised Veerabhadra and another Devi Bhadra Kaali. The enraged Rudra asked them to destroy Daksha Yagna. Veerabhadra beheaded Daksha and together with Bhadra Kaali turned the Yagna into smithereens. Devi Bhagavata Purana stated that Shiva picked up the body remains of Sati Devi and performed furious Shiva Tandava to release his pent up emotions of intense love of Sati and hightened anger for Daksha; Vishnu apprehended Pralaya and used his Sudarshana Chakra to spread out the body remains of Sati and hundred and eight Shakti Peethas came into being. Veda Vyasa affirmed that worship at these Siddha Peethas or even hearing about these would destroy sins and bestow powers to the devotees concerned. Eventually, the instant fury of Shiva was cooled down by the prayers of Brahma and Devas and the ever merciful Shiva agreed to the resuscitation of Daksha by fixing the Goat-head of the Sacrificial animal. The ever grateful Daksha begged of Shiva’s clemency and re-organised Daksha Yagna once again with Maha Deva occupying the High-Seat at any Yagna eversince.
Devi Parvati’s wedding with Maha Deva:
Of the sixty daughters of Daksha Prajapati, Swadha Devi was married to Pitru Devas and gave birth to Maina, Dhanya and Kalavati. The three of them once desired to have a ‘darshan’ of Vishnu and while waiting their turn did not recognise the illustrious Sanaka-Sanandana- Sanat Kumara and Sanatana Brothers. The brothers took offence that the girls did not recognise them and cursed the girls to be born in Bhu Loka. The girls begged of forgiveness and the kind Rishis provided dispensations to the curse that Maina would be the wife of Himavanta; Dhanya would be the wife of King Janaka and secure a daughter called Devi Sita who would marry Shri Rama after breaking the Shiva Dhanush or Maha Deva’s own Bow; and Kalavati wed marry Gopa Vrisabhan and give birth to Devi Radha the Spiritual Beloved of Shri Krishna. Thus Maina Devi became the wife of Himavanta and gave birth to Jagadamba herself, besides hundred sons born with wings; Indra was jealous of the sons and clipped their wings excepting of Mainaka who hid himself in Dakshina Samudra as a mountain and years later helped Hanuman during his reconnaaissance trip to Lanka to search Devi Sita. Devi Parvati from her childhood was intensely devoted to Maha Deva and dreamt of marrying him. Her parents too were cherishing the wish to have Shiva as their son-in-law. But, after Sati Devi’s yogic end, Shiva was roaming around restlessly as a grobe trotter; his memories of Sati made him perspire once and out of his sweat were born Bhauma whom Bhu Devi nurtured and the former eventually attained a position in the Solar System as Mangala Deva or Mars.
At the instance of Devi Parvati, Himavan requested Maha Deva to assist him in his Tapasya but Shiva refused. She encountered Shiva and argued that she was Prakriti or Nature and Shiva was Maha Purusha and that his meditation would yield speedy results of his Tapasya! Shiva was impressed of her Spiritual Knowledge and finally agreed that she could assist him in his Tapasya. It was at this juncture the all- powerful Tarakasura , the son of Vajrang and the grandson of Diti, who did unprecedented Tapasya, secured Brahma’s boon of invincibility excepting by a son of Shiva, presuming that Shiva was highly disillusioned after the death of Sati and it was highly unlikely that there could be even a remote possibility of Shiva’s wedding and of the birth of a son to him. But being aware of Parvati being engaged in personal devotion to Shiva, Brahma advised Indra and Devas to pursue the prospect of Shiva’s physical nearness to Parvati and seek the help of Kama Deva Manmatha’s help to provoke Shiva’s passion. But the plan misfired as the Nirvikara Shiva was annoyed and burnt off Madana into ash by the severity of his third eye, leaving Rati Devi into lurch as she was widowed in the bargain. Her earnest prayers to Shiva that her husband was victimised for a Deva Karya or a Task to Benefit Devas, the merciful Maha Deva gave the dispensation that Manmatha would join Shiva Ganas then and could be visible to Rati Devi only and gave the further boon that eventually Manmatha would be born to Shri Krishna and Devi Rukmini as Pradyumna and Rati Devi would be his wife as Mayavati again. The highly disappointed Parvati intensified her Tapasya and Bhagavan too melted gradually and consented to marry Parvati, as convinced by Vishnu, Brahma and Indra. Shiva deputed Sapta Rishis to test Parvati’s seriousness to marry him. The Rishis returned fully convinced but Shiva himself desired to test and in the disguise of a Brahmana to dissuade her to marrya her stating that he was a Bhutanatha, a near Digambara and an uncouth and frightening entity with matted hair and serpents and ash all over his body. Parvati vehemently reacted and showed him the door. But she felt that the Tapasya apparently did not satisfy him and out of desperation tried to jump into a fire pit, when Maha Deva gave darshan to her and said: Why did you not realise that we are the Etranal Prakriti and Maha Purusha ourselves!
When the wedding announcement was made by Vishnu and Lakshmi, the entire Universe got transformed with ecstasy. Indra and Devas as also Sivaganas, especially Nandi, Bhairava; Maina and Himavanta; Sapta Matas viz.Brahmi, Mahendri, Maheswari,Kaum,ari,Vaishnavi, Vaarahi, Indri and Chamunda were overjoyed; Gandharva-Yaksha-Kinnara- Apsaras went into frenzy. The wedding was celebrated as the most memorable event of the Yugas and Kalpas.
The birth of Skanda: After the Wedding, Shiva and Parvati moved to Kailasa to spend their conjugal happiness, Tarakasura’s evil activities reached a peak and a delegation of Devas headed by Brahma approached Vishnu who in turn prayed to Shiva about the grim situation. In a great hurry to meet Vishnu, Brahma and the Delegation of Devas, Shiva spilt his semen off ground and Agni Deva transformed into a pigeon pecked up the drops but could not contain the drops. Maha Deva himself suggested to Agni that the drops be better injected into a woman of immense virtue. Agni identified six women of extraordinary virtue and injected the drops into their skin pores . They too could not contain the heaviness and of extreme effervescence and as advised by Himalaya left the drops in the flow of Ganges which carried to the bushes of reed (Sarkanda) and there appeared a boy of mysterious radiance. Even while this sequence of events were taking place, Parvati Devi was extremely furious and cursed the Deva Ganas who were all responsible for the huge wastage of Maha Deva’s virility and cursed them all to become barren!
The birth of Kartikeya, as Krittikas had a role to play, took place at the most sancrosant time viz. Krittika Nakshatra Shashti of Suddha Margasira; Sage Viswamitra arrived and gave him the name of Guhya as he bestowed the totality of Vedic Knowledge; the Six Goddesses offered their six heads and six mouths; he was known as Shanmukha. As he grew for a couple of years or so he grew restless and moved on to Krouncha Mountain and proved his valour by crumbling it. Shiva Ganas located him and brought him to Shiva and Parvati who knew no bounds of joy that he was finally home. He was crowned as the King of Kailasha puri and Indra appointed him as the Senapati or the Commander in Chief of Deva Sena. Tarakasura confronted Devas and ridiculed them that he took refuge of a boy little realising that indeed he was a ‘wizard boy’! Having despatched a few warm up weapons, Skanda Deva engaged him with light Astras which attracted ridicule but taking an opportune time, threw the Shakti missile suddenly and deftly that the Demon’s chest was pounded and the greatest menace to the Universe was smashed for ever.
The erstwhile foe’s right and left shoulders called Banasura and Pralamb who suppressed Devas into miserable submission for long many years were cut off by Skanda and the remnants of enemies were wiped too without a scar even!