Sri Matre Namaha
Shambhavi – The One Hundred & Twenty Second name in Lalitha Sahasranamam.
Sambhoh iyam (=sambhoh stri)
The wife of Siva
She who is married to Shambhu
Sambhavanam iyam (=sambhavanamiyam mata)
She is the mother of the devotees of Lord Shiva.
The word Sambhavi is also used in the technical term for a particular mudra in Yogasastra. The word also stands for a kind of diksa mentioned in Pr.KlSu. Or, it may mean a girl of eight years.
Shiva is known as Shambu and His wife is Shambhavi. Vishnu Sahasranamam nama 38 is ‘Shambhavae’ which is interpreted as ‘the one who gives comforts to devotees’. In that way both Shiva and Lalitha give comforts to their devotees. There is a mudra called ‘sambavi mudra’ which is used in kundalini meditation. Focusing both the eye balls internally towards ajna chakra and lifting the consciousness upwards, by correspondingly raising the eye balls is called sambavi mudra. There are other interpretations also. There are three types of dikshas (initiations) and one among them is sambavi diksha. The other two are shaakthi and maantri.
Worshippers of Shiva are called Shambavaas. She is the mother of Shambavaas. SL 34 says ‘shariram tvam Shambhoh’ meaning ‘you are the body of Shiva’. The next verse says ‘shiva yuvaati bhavena’ meaning ‘contemplating as the wife of Shiva’. Such narrations are plenty to affirm that She always remains as part of Shiva, both physically and mentally. Shambhavi also refers to a young girl of 8 years. There is a ritual explained in ‘Devi Bagavatam’ about worshipping Her in the form of a girl of 8 years. If such a ritual is performed as per the prescribed method, it is said that the devotee will become prosperous and wealthy.
This statement brings to light many things known and unknown.Shiva, and his consort Shakti, referred to as the Divine Couple; the ultimate union of masculine and feminine. If we look deeper though, the sexual union of Shiva/Shakti is not just about yoni’s and lingams meeting with a couple of namastes thrown in for good measure! In the Vedic tradition the Shiva Lingam and Yoni symbolize the sacred union of the inactive and dynamic aspects of consciousness. So the desire to be in Union with our partner represents the fundamental desire to be in union with the Beloved or our true nature (consciousness).Their union is often considered to be a way of living for every human being in this world.
Let me narrate the story of how parvati married shiva.
Legend goes that once Lord Shiva and his wife Sati or Shakti were returning from sage Agastya’s ashram after listening to Ram Katha or story of Ram. On their way through a forest, Shiva saw Lord Rama searching for his wife Sita who had been kidnapped by Ravana, the King of Lanka. Lord Shiva bowed his head in reverence to Lord Rama. Sati was surprised by Lord Shiva’s behavior and inquired why he was paying obeisance to a mere mortal. Shiva informed Sati that Rama was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Sati, however, was not satisfied with the reply and Lord asked her to go and verify the truth for herself. Using her power to change forms, Sati took the form of Sita appeared before Rama. Lord Rama immediately recognized the true identity of the Goddess and asked, “Devi, why are you alone, where’s Shiva?” At this, Sati realized the truth about Lord Ram. But, Sita was like a mother to Lord Shiva and since Sati took the form of Sita her status had changed. From that time, Shiva detached himself from her as a wife.
Sati was sad with the change of attitude of Lord Shiva but she stayed on at Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. Later, Sati’s father Daksha organised a yagna, but did not invite Sati or Shiva as he had an altercation with Shiva in the court of Brahma. But, Sati who wanted to attend the Yagna, went even though Lord Shiva did not appreciate the idea. To hre great anguish, Daksha ignored her presence and did not even offer Prasad for Shiva. Sati felt humiliated and was struck with profound grief. She jumped into the yagna fire and immolated herself.Lord Shiva became extremely furious when he heard the news of Sati’s immolation. Carrying the body of Sati, Shiva began to perform Rudra Tandava or the dance of destruction and wiped out the kingdom of Daksha.
Everybody was terrified as Shiva’s Tandava had the power to destroy the entire universe. In order to calm Lord Shiva, Vishnu severed Sati’s body into 12 pieces and threw them on earth. It is said that wherever the pieces of Shakti’s body fell, there emerged a Shakti Peetha, including the Kamaroopa Kamakhya in Assam and the Vindhyavasini in UP. Lord Siva was now alone undertook rigorous penance and retired to the Himalayas. Sati took a re-birth as Parvati in the family of God Himalaya. She performed penance to break Shiva’s meditation and win his attention. It is said that Parvati, who found it hard to break Shiva’s meditation seeked help of Kamadeva – the God of Love and Passion.
Kaamadeva asked Parvati to dance in front of Shiva. When Parvati danced, Kaamadeva shot his arrow of passion at Shiva breaking his penance. Shiva became extremely infuriated and opening his third eye that reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. It was only after Kamadeva’s wife Rati’s pleading that Lord Shiva agreed to revive Kaamadeva. Later, Parvati undertook severe penance to win over Shiva. Through her devotion and persuasion by sages devas, Parvati, also known as Uma, was finally able to lure Shiva into marriage and away from asceticism. For the most part Shiva and Parvati’s married and family life is portrayed as harmonious, blissful and calm. In iconography the two are typically shown sitting in happy, intimate embrace. There were also many moments of philosophical discourse between the two. While Shiva taught Parvati the doctrine of Vedanta, Parvati responded by teaching him the doctrines of Sankhya, for if Shiva was the perfect teacher, Parvati too, as a yogini was no less. Parvati was constantly by Shiva’s side, encouraging, assisting and, participating in every activity of his.
The association between Parvati and Shiva represents the perennial tension in Hinduism between the ascetic ideal and householder ideal. Parvati, for the most part, represents the householder. Her mission is to lure Shiva into the world of marriage, sex, and children, to tempt him away from asceticism, yoga, and otherwordly preoccupations. In this role Parvati is cast as a figure who upholds the order of dharma, who enhances life in the world, who represents the beauty and attraction of worldly, sexual life, who cherishes the house and society rather than the forest, the mountains, or the ascetic life. Parvati civilizes Shiva with her presence; indeed, she domesticates him. Of her role in relation to Shiva in the hymns of Manikkavacakar, a ninth-century poet-saint from South India, it has been said: “Shiva, the great unpredictable ‘madman’, is rendered momentarily sane (i.e. behaves in a socially acceptable manner) when in the company of the goddess. . . Contact with his properly cultured spouse seems to connect him with ordinary social reality and temporarily domesticates him.
“Throughout Hindu mythology it is well known that one of Shiva’s principal functions is the destruction of cosmos. In fact, Shiva has about him a wild, unpredictable, destructive aspect that is often mentioned. As the great cosmic dancer, he periodically performs the tandava, an especially violent dance. Wielding a broken battle-ax, he dances so wildly that the cosmos is destroyed completely. In descriptions of this dance, Shiva’s whirling arms and flying locks are said to crash into the heavenly bodies, knocking them off course or destroying them utterly. The mountains shake and the oceans heave as the world is destroyed by his violent dancing. Parvati, in contrast, is portrayed as a patient builder, one who follows Shiva about, trying to soften the violent effects of her husband. She is a great force for preservation and reconstruction in the world and as such offsets the violence of Shiva.
When Shiva does his violent tandava dance, Parvati is described as calming him with soft glances, or she is said to complement his violence with a slow, creative step of her own.
Parvati’s goal in her relationship with Shiva is nothing less than the domestication of the lone, ascetic god whose behavior borders on madness. Shiva is indifferent to social propriety, does not care about offspring, declares woman to be a hindrance to the spiritual life, and is disdainful of the trappings of the householder’s life. Parvati tries to involve him in the worldly life of the householder by arguing that he should observe conventions if he loves her and wants her. She persuades him, for example, to marry her according to the proper rituals, to observe custom, instead of simply running off with her. She is less successful, however, in getting him to change his attire and ascetic habits. She often complains of his nakedness and finds his ornaments disgraceful. Usually prompted by her mother, Parvati sometimes complains that she does not have a proper house to live in. Shiva, as is well known, does not have a house but prefers to live in caves, on mountains, or in forests or to wander the world as a homeless beggar. Many myths delight in Shiva’s response to Parvati’s domestic pleas for a house. When she complains that the rains will soon come and that she has no house to protect her, Shiva simply takes her to the high mountain peaks above the clouds where it does not rain. Elsewhere, he describes his “house” as the universe and argues that an ascetic understands the whole world to be his dwelling place.
Parvati, quite naturally, assumes the identity of Shiva’s Shakti. She is the force underlying and impelling creation. In this active, creative role she is identified with prakriti (nature), whereas Shiva is identified with purusha (pure spirit). As prakriti, Parvati represents the inherent tendency of nature to express itself in concrete forms and individual beings. In this task, however, it is understood that Parvati must be set in motion by Shiva himself. She is not seen as antagonistic to him. Her role as his Shakti is always interpreted as positive. Through Parvati, Shiva (the Absolute) is able to express himself in the creation. Without her he would remain inert, aloof, inactive. It is only in association with her that Shiva is able to realize or manifest his full potential. Parvati as Shakti not only complements Shiva, she completes him.
This reminds me of soundarya lahiri which states:
Shivah shakthya yukto yadi bhavati shaktah prabhavitum
Na chedevam devo na khalu kusalah spanditumapi;
Atas tvam aradhyam Hari-Hara-Virinchadibhir api
Pranantum stotum vaa katham akrta-punyah prabhavati
Lord Shiva, only becomes able.To do creation in this world along with ShakthiWithout her, Even an inch he cannot move,And so how can, one who does not do good deeds,Or one who does not sing your praise,Become adequate to worship youOh , goddess mine, Who is worshipped by the trinity.