Since times immemorial, unmarried girls in India are instructed and advised to hold lord Shiva in the highest regard among the gamut of other hundred Gods described in Hinduism. Young Hindu women in India offer prayers, offerings, and sacrifice appetites to innumerable fasts to petition the God (and sometimes his wife, Parvati) to be matched up with a mortal, imbibing the qualities of the lord Shiva himself. Because together, Lord Shiva and his consort symbolize the epitome of successful union in the mythological universe and thus their relationship seems like a logical blueprint that each devotee aspires to replicate in their lesser lives. From the limited images I could recall from childhood watching glimpses of the pair in mythological programs, the duo seemed happy and spirited in their debates, banter and game of dice. It did seem like a marriage/relationship you would want to have.
Recently, probably for the first time in television history, the story of lord Shiva is being presented in a series called Mahadev and I thought it was a great opportunity sneak-peak into the relationship that we have been idealizing for centuries, or exactly what the men on earth were pitted against. Since I have very little knowledge of the scripture itself, my account here only encompasses my observations on the telly. Well, of course, Shiva is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating of the Gods – that in the unconventional way of living without godly comforts. His magnanimity, forgiveness, fairness apart from the absolute raw power he exudes, that which is capable of inception and destruction at will. Qualities that any man on earth might aspire for, consequently becoming the partner that any woman would gravitate towards.
But Parvati’s ( Shiva’s second consort, a reincarnation of his first wife Sati) troubles in the series tell a different story to me. Undoubtedly, there is immense love shared between the married couple, where Lord Shiva juggles roles of mentor, guide and husband to his dutiful and opinionated wife. She is mostly agreeable to her very rational husband while playing her own multitude of roles assigned by him for the benefit of the world at large – that of Sati, Matsya, Kali and others. Unfortunately, Parvati is more human in her mental/emotional makeup than her husband, who also happens to be the father of the universe or jagatpita. So even if some decisions would tear his wife apart (like asking her to give up her newborn to be raised by other women), or separate them for a whole generation (he ordered her reincarnation as Matsya when she disobeyed his rules during her tantric initiation), he still holds his ground for the larger good, often preceded by an elaborate monologue supporting it. And of course Parvati even in her role as the mother of the universe is often seen begging or pleading with her husband to change his stance on various decisions for the sake of her happiness (which are rarely whims). Of course, she never wins.
SO! The big buzz in my mind through these weeks was, why exactly are we women being asked to seek Shiva-like mortals? Maybe some of us want to be with these super rational, fairness and all that jazz men but really, how easy is it to live with someone like that? Because, don’t we humans err all the time, and what better perks are there to a relationship if not comfort and forgiveness? If the Shiva-Parvati was about transformation from her emotional/attached existence to see the greater good and be god-like, wouldn’t we be happier in a world where, husbands entertained a little whim here and a little irrationality there, or took our sides sometimes even if we were wrong?!?
No offence Lord Shiva (in case you are reading, and I know you are already very pissed with me), but I’d take a man over a God, please.