The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “description af parvati’s penance” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 22 - Description af Pārvatī’s penance

Brahmā said:—

1. After your departure, O celestial sage, convinced that Śiva could be achieved by means of penance, Pārvatī became glad and decided to perform penance.

2. She took her maids Jayā and Vijayā into confidence and through them made her parents acquainted.

3. First she wanted her father Himavat, the lord of mountains, to hear her humble words.

The maids said:—

4-5. O Himavat, let the words of your daughter be heard through us. She wishes to make her body, beauty and family fruitful. This can be achieved through penance and not otherwise.

6. O excellent mountain, the permission may kindly be given—“Let Pārvatī go to the forest and perform penance there”.

Brahmā said:—

7. O excellent sage, thus requested by Pārvatī through the maids, the lord of the mountains carefully considered the proposal and said:

Himācala said:—

8. This appeals to me. I it appeals to Menā as it ought to be, what else can be a better course?

9. There is no doubt about it that my House will be fortunate. If her mother also likes this, what can be more auspicious than this?

Brahmā said:—

10. After hearing the words spoken by her father and (in a way) commanded by him, the two maids went to her mother along with her.

11. O Nārada, approaching Pārvatī’s mother, they bowed down and with palms joined in reverence they respectfully spoke thus.

The maids said:—

12. O mother, O gentle lady, please listen to the words of your daughter. Obeisance be to you. You will listen with pleasure and act accordingly.

13. For the sake of attaining Śiva, your daughter wishes to perform a severe penance. She has secured the permission of her father. She now wants to seek it from you.

14. O chaste lady, she is desirous of making her beauty fruitful. If your permission too is received, the penance can be performed.

Brahmā said:—

15. O excellent sage, after saying this, the maids became silent. Distressed in mind, Mena did not accept the proposal.

16. Then Pārvatī herself spoke to her mother joining her palms in humility and remembering the lotus-like feet of Śiva.

Pārvatī said:—

17. O mother, I shall be going in the morning for performing penance to achieve Śiva. Please permit me to go to the penance-grove for the task.

Brahmā said:—

18. On hearing the words of her daughter, Menā was distressed. That chaste lady called her daughter near and spoke to her in dejection.

Menā said:—

19. O daughter Śiva, if you are distressed, if you wish to perform penance, you can do it at home. O Pārvatī, do not go out.

20. Where do you wish to go for performing penance? All the deities are in my house. All the holy centres and the different temples too are here.

21. Do not be stubborn, dear daughter. You shall not go out of your home. What did you achieve when you went out previously? What are you going to achieve at present?

22. Dear child, slender is your body and hard is the penance. Hence you shall perform penance here. You shall not go out.

23. For a woman to go to a penance-grove for the realisation of her desire is what we have never heard of before. Hence, dear daughter, do not go out for penance.

Brahmā said:—

24. Thus, in various ways, the daughter was dissuaded by her mother. But she did not find any pleasure except in propitiating Śiva.

25. Pārvatī acquired the name Umā since she was prevented from going to forest by Menā and forbidden to perform penance.

26. O sage, on realising that Pārvatī was quite dejected, Menā, the beloved of the mountain, permitted her to perform penance.

27. O excellent sage, on getting permission from her mother, Pārvatī remembered Śiva and felt happy.

28. Bowing to her parents with joy, Pārvatī remember

ed Śiva and set out for performing penance along with her maids.

29. Discarding all the fine clothes of her taste, she wore tree-barks and the fine girdle of Muñja grass.

30. She eschewed necklace and wore the pure deer skin. She arrived at Gaṅgāvataraṇa[1] for performing penance.

31. The Gaṅgāvataraṇa was in the Himālayan ridge where Kāma was burnt by Śiva who was performing meditation.

32. Oh dear, that Himalayan ridge devoid of Śiva was painfully seen by Pārvatī, the mother of the universe, the daughter of the mountain.

33. She stood for a while in the place where formerly Śiva had performed penance and became dispirited by the pangs of separation.

34. Crying aloud “Alas O Śiva” she, the daughter of the mountain, lamented sorrowfully and anxiously.

35. Suppressing the delusion with fortitude after a long time Pārvatī, the daughter of Himavat, got herself initiated for the observance of ritualistic activities.

36. She performed penance in the excellent holy centre Śṛṅgitīrtha which (later) acquired the title “Gaurī-Śikhara[2]” due to her performance of penance thereon.

37. O sage, many beautiful holy plants were laid there by Pārvatī for testing the fruitfulness of her penance.

38. Neatly cleaning the ground, the beautiful lady built the altar. Then the penance, difficult to be performed even by the sages, was begun.

39. Suppressing her sense-organs with her mind, she started the great penance in a place within the proximity.

40. In the summer she kept a perpetually blazing fire all round and remaining within continued muttering the mantra.

41. In the rainy season she continuously remained sitting on the bare ground on the rock and got herself drenched by the downpour of rain.

42. During the winter, with great devotion she remained in water throughout. During snowfall and in the nights too she performed her penance observing fast.

43. Performing such austerities and engrossed in the muttering of the five-syllabled mantra, Pārvatī meditated on Śiva, the bestower of fruits of our cherished desires.

44. Everyday during leisure time she used to water the trees planted by her along with her maids and extended acts of hospitality.

45. Chill gusts of wind, cool showers, and unbearable heat she bore with equanimity.

46. Different sorts of worries she did not mind at all. O sage, fixing her mind in Śiva alone she remained firm and steady.

47. The first year she spent in taking fruits, the second in taking leaves, in the course of her penance. She spent many years thus.

48. Then Śivā, the daughter of Himavat, eschewed even the leaves. She did not take any food. She was engrossed in the performance of penance.

49. Since she, the daughter of Himavat, eschewed leaves from her diet she was called Aparṇā by the gods.

50. Then Pārvatī performed great penance standing on one leg and remembering Śiva, she continued muttering the five-syllabled mantra.

51. Clad in barks of trees, wearing matted hair and eager in the meditation of Śiva, she surpassed even sages by her penance.

52. Pārvatī thus spent three thousand years in the penance-grove performing penance and meditating on lord Śiva.

53. Remaining for a short while in the place where Śiva had performed penance for sixty thousand years, Pārvatī thought like this.

54. Does not the Supreme lord know me observing these ritualistic activities now? Wherefore am I not followed by him though engaged in penance?

55. In the Śāstras and the Vedas, lord Śiva is always sung in praise by the sages as the bestower of welfare, omniscient, all-pervading and all-seer.

56. The lord is the bestower of all riches, the moulder of fine emotions, the bestower of the desires of devotees and the remover of their distress.

57. If I am devoted to the bull-bannered lord, discarding all desires, may He be pleased with me.

58. If the mantra of the Nārada Tantra, consisting of five syllables has been continuously repeated by me with great devotion may He be pleased with me.

59. If I am a devotee without aberrations of Śiva, the lord of all, may He be extremely pleased with me.

60. Pondering frequently like this incessantly, she performed penance for a long time, with her face turned downwards, her apparel of bark and mind without any aberrations.

61. She performed penance difficult to be performed even by the sages, so much so that people were struck with surprise.

62. All of them came there to witness her penance. Considering themselves blessed, they proclaimed thus approvingly.

63. “To follow the standard of the virtuous personages is declared to be conducive to greatness. There is no delimitation in penance. Virtue shall be honoured by the wise always.

64. After seeing or hearing about the penance of this lady what penance will be pursued by a man? A penance greater than this has never been before, nor will it ever be”.

65. Saying thus, they praised the penance of Pārvatī and joyously returned to their abodes. Even persons of sturdy countenance praised her penance.

66. O sage, listen to another surprising influence of the penance of Pārvatī, the mother of the universe.

67. Even the naturally inimical beings in and around her hermitage became free from animosity due to her power.

68. Lions and cows prone to the passions of love, hatred etc. ceased to harass one another, thanks to her greatness.

69. O excellent sage, creatures like cats, mice etc. who are born enemies to one another did not exhibit any bad characteristics there.

70. O excellent sage, trees bore fruits, grasses grew in plenty and flowers of variegated nature and colour blossomed there.

71. The entire forest became comparable to Kailāsa as it were the achievement of her penance.

Footnotes and references:


See No. 22, P. 515.


It it one of the famous peaks of the Himālayas.