Next scene – as Shiva’s foot touched the bridal pandhal, the wedding diaz, He changed form, glittering in a beautiful wedding robe, with golden ornaments and splendid clothing.....and his entourage emanated fragrance. Shiva's new beauty coupled with his immense cosmic powers finally convinced Himavan and Mena to consent to the marriage, and with the wedding vows the heavens rejoiced. What an illustration of Shiva lila…..? Then, Meena gets up. Probably she faked the whole fiasco! The implication here is that, other than Parvati, the rest were only seeing the external aspect and appearance of Shiva!
But this ‘golden’ transformation may not find much favour in Tamil Sangam literature. As in Purva Karana Agama, Shiva Kalyana Sundarar, had on him the three snakes, Vasuki, Tashaka and Pushkara fulfilling the role of any wedding jewel. His necklace, hara and his hand bracelet Keiura were serpents as symbols of His mysterios power.
Parvati’s wedding is a repeated tell-tale of various Puranas. Sati married against Daksha's wishes; subsequent event was self-immolation at Daksha's yagna. Grief-stricken Shiva lost interest in worldly affairs. In the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Sati and Parvati are interchangeably named as manifestations of Goddess Mahadevi. But Parvati breaks the ice afterall…….
BRIDE: Each of Parvati’s names afford special significance. She is most commonly called Parvati; however, with the same mountain connotation she is also known as Girija and Shailaja. Because the goddess is the wife of Shiva, sometimes called Bhava, or Shiva, she is also recognized as Bhavani. Interestingly, it was Bhavani's devotion to Bhava and her hope of eventually winning him, that earned her the name Sarvamangala or ‘loyal one’ and established her as the source of all good things to all those who have faith and follow the path of virtue.
The Poet Kalidasa, describes the marriage with poetic beauty in his work, Kumarasambhava. He describes the Himalayas as a place for lovers who want to find happiness in life; it is also an ideal retreat for those who want to meditate. The bride, Parvati, in course of time she blossomed into a girl of matchless beauty. She was very good-looking, like a fine portrait drawn by a master-painter. Women wear jewelry with a feeling that their beauty is enhanced by it. But the neck of Parvati appeared to enhance the beauty of the necklace itself. Parvati’s speech was sweet as the playing of the Veena. And her bearing reminded one of a deer.
SUNDARI: Tamil literature triggers a hypothesis that the bride Parvati is Sundari opposite the groom Sundara. As Sarvamangala, the divine couple are accessible everywhere. This hyposthesis of them being is in a close and deep connection with the extremely favourable moments, occurs cyclically two days before the period of full moon. Also it is the most favourable monthly cyclic moment of the manifestation of the deeply beneficial subtle influence of the great cosmic powers of beauty and of love divine, Tripura Sundari. Sundara and Tripurasundari are said to manifest with greatest ease for those who call them with love and faith.
VIVAHIKAMURTI: Shilpa Ratna by Srikumara, is a South Indian classical text on performing arts. It is particularly influential in painting and theatrical performance. ‘Shilpa’ means sculptural and Ratna means gems. It describes artistic forms that either uses the body as a medium of expression. It ranks after Natya Shahstra and Abhinaya Darpana. Vivahika Murti is described in the Silpa ratna as one of Shiva’s forms, when the divine groom stands together with the bride Parvati. Parvati is in a state of profound self-absorption and totally independent of the surrounding conditions.
GROOM AS KALYANA SUNDARAR: By etymological implication, Kalayanasundrar mean God of Welfare. This is one of the main manifestations of Lord Siva. In Tamil ‘kalyanam’ means wedding; ‘sundaram’ means bliss. So Kalyanasundaram implies Shiva and Shakti as blissful eternal bride and bridegroom. One of the most important meanings of the name Siva in Shaiva Siddhanta, is ‘welfare’. So ‘Shivanamastu’ and the word ‘Kalyanamastu’ bring the same purport to mean ‘May you be blessed’. Lord Shiva is also referred to as Kalyanasundereshvar.
Shiva as bridegroom, Sundara, is represented as being an extraordinarily beautiful being, in his early youth, and with a face that is very bright, full of love bursting with a sublime, transfiguring eroticism, Sringara. Tamil Sangam literature often describes Sundara as adorned with many bright, multi-coloured jewels, and has an appearance which is full of goodwill. The colour of his skin is similar to the hue of red coral. He is standing with his left leg perfectly straight, while the right leg is slightly bent.
Shilpa Ratna: ‘Having his body the colour of bright red coral, Induram, with his third eye bright and full of happiness, his shoulders strong that resembles the four eras of the existence of macrocosm, the Yugas, wearing a necklace and bracelets of unparalleled beauty, with multi-coloured clothes, gleaming in his wedding clothes, with a enchanting and beautiful body and face, he, Shiva Kalyanasundra, holds the hand of his beloved Parvati in his divine hand, while in the others he holds a lotus, antelope, axe, and in his hair are caught the moon and heavenly Ganges’.
PANCHAMUKHA: Kalyanasundaram is the representation of Shiva embodying the true spirit of blessedness. The panchamukhas as Ishana, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vamadeva and Sadyojata. Lord Shiva is said to serve all life forms with five faces, two on the left as Vama-deva and Kalagni; two on the right as Daksineshvara and Ishana and one in the centre as Kalyanasundaram, the Supreme Controller.
WEDDING FUNCTION: The highlight of the wedding is the attendance of Lord Mahavishnu himself. Despite all that is written in the Puranas and Upapuranas about the tensions between the Trimurtis, it is also equally true that Mahavishnu had a fair share in prompting the mendicant meditative Shiva to be householder. The universe was becoming bleak and dark when Lord Shiva goes into his Mahayogi state for centuries on end. At the instance of young Gauri praying to Brahma, Mahavishnu sends Kama to pierce an arrow but Kama is reduced to ashes by Shiva’s third eye. Kama is later brought back to shape as Manmata by Shiva himself. But by then the cupid’s arrow has been struck and he lays eyes on Gauri-Parvati.
In line with Trinity harmony, Mahavishnu himself descends to view the great wedding event. Intellects, siddhars, rishis and celestial beings were there in the thousand to view this wedlock. It is said that the weight offsets the balance on earth, so the sage Agastiyar was sent south of India to call it a balance. That actually implies the greatness of Agastiyar as one man opposed to the thousands who attended the wedding. It is said that as the beauty of the divine couple turned everyone breathless with excitement and reverence as the great Lord was to tie the nuptial knot with his beloved. Parvati had earned it by her severe austerities and tapas to win over Kalyanasundram.
Another highlight of this wedding is Lord Mahavishnu’s direct role in giving away the bride. The ambiance is charged for it is Lord Mahavishnu Himself who gives Parvati in hand to Lord Shiva who accepts her has his wedded wife. This famous depiction is often reflected in art and temple sculptures. It would be quite improper for Shaivites, knowingly or unknowingly, saying things to the contrary.
The Shiva Purana states that ‘with the conch shells blowing and the drums beating, the universe echoes just one note, the primordial sound of creation. The intensity is high and the great souls themselves have been driven to excitement and high emotion. The sheer brilliance of the moment, the shimmering lights, the shining glow on the faces of these great beings makes this an exalted experience that one cannot forget, for it is not driven by time but its driven by high blissful emotion that renders any great soul who is a part of this pantheon a complete slave to this supreme blissful state’.
Most iconography on the Shiva-Parvati wedding show the couple surrounded by subtle guardian beings of the directions of space, dihalpa, by Gods, Devas, together with their wives, Shaktis and also the demigods and spiritually accomplished being, Siddhars and sages, and the wise men, such as Narada, the matrikas and a multitude of beings from the seven mysterious realms of existence.
Meditative Lord Shiva now, a married man, gets into celebrative mood. So He dances for in front of the assembly. Shiva Tandava of the wedding day was a rare bonanza. The wedding hall was shining the brilliance of a million suns glowing together. It was a day in which everyone got to see Shiva Nataraja in all smiles as his skin glowed and fragrance of flowers spread in the hall. Nandikeshswara’s mridangam beat and Lord Shiva’s salangai sound and beat reverberated the whole of the universe.
Lord Shiva was the natya master of the day. His eyes twinkled as the primordial sound of the Damaru shook the hall vigorously. The Ganges was flowing over with bliss and the whole of Prakriti was in celebration mode. While the audience witnessed Shiva’s serpents dancing with gem studded hoods, the sages below heard all of this as silence. The wedding hall was representative of Prakriti as Parvati set the stage as Shiva’s material energy, His grand performance of life. The dance of vigor, the rhythms of the movements, the Bliss and Grace was undisputedly the half of Her that the Lord relied on. This was the Ananda Tandava.
The divine couple then departed for Kailasha for their honeymoon. As Shiva and Parvati proceeded towards the new palace, they were escorted by the invitees. The wives of munis led by Arundhati, wife of sage Vasishtha, performed arati for the couple as they stepped into the Kailas. You know the rest of the stuff, Kamasutra, so on so forth…..
UNION: Shiva-Shakti yoga is much written about in srutis, smrtis and much more in the Tantric texts. They have been the subject matter in the Kamashastras and Kamasutra also. Kalyanasundra Murthi is a direct reference to the wedding proper. It signifies the union of Truth-Siva; Wisdom-Shakti and resulting birth of Ananda-Skanda. Thus it is the birth of Bliss and Tantra has a different way of explaining this Bliss. In many Shaivite temples, the Shiva-Shakti wedding that is tied to spiritual Yoga is celebrated annually and also to celebrate Mother Parvati blessing the universe with the birth of Kumara, the destroyer of demons.
TEMPLE: Thirumanancheri is located near Kuttalam in South India. It is one among the popular temples of Lord Shiva, where He is devotedly worshiped as Kalyanasundareswarar and His consort, mother Parvati as Goddess Kokilaambal. In Sanskrit the lord is also called as Uthvaanganathar. In Tamil they are addressed as 'Arul Vallal' and 'Kuyilinmenmozhiammai'. It is a belief that Manmathan worshiped Lord Shivaat this stahalam. The Thrimanacheri shrine is linked to the divine wedding. ‘Thiruman’ means wedding. According to legends, this temple overcomes the obstacles of marriage. The usual offerings are wedding garlands and bhaktas returning for their prasada.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Parvati Kalyanam)
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi