Uma ~ Devi Pārvatī ~ Sati

So, where is Uma or Devi Pārvatī described in the Veda?

त इदुग्राः शवसा धर्ष्णुषेणा उभे युजन्त रोदसी सुमेके |अध समैषु रोदसी सवशोचिरामवत्सु तस्थौ न रोकः ||

We praise (इदु) the mighty/strong (शवसा) who stood to break (उभे) the impertinence/disrespect (धार्ष्ट्), stood for the moment (चिरा – मवत्सु) with their mighty weapons surrounding (समैषु) the Divine Supreme (सवशो) Rodasī (रोदसी) of Earth and Heaven; under (अध ) Her command they stood steady (चिरा – मवत्सु) in Her assistance (तस्थौ), as She stood shining with the splendor (रोकः) of Her innate brilliance.

Rig Veda 6.66
Lalitha Sculpture with Ganesha (right) and Kartikeya (left) (Wikimedia)

She is addressed as Rodasī RV 5&6 the mother of Maruts. The definition of Rodasī is the Divine Mother of all (both of Heavens and Earth). Rodasī means Rud:ā:suni (consort of Rudra, or the duality of Rudra) but Rodasī is not specifically described as a personification on the material level nor is She paired with Rudra like Soma. As we have seen the pairing of Soma and Rudra are prominent across many Vedic Śākhās, but Grihya-sutra of Paraskara Sukla Yajur Veda makes a bold description by saying “She the Mother of Rudras (Maruts) is the daughter of Vasus and the sister of Adityas and is the center/navel of all immortality”. And we know with certainty that Soma is the center of all immortality and amrta. In the Puráńas, She is addressed with the same title as Śiva, because She is never different or separate from Śiva; hence it is said “without Śakti, Śiva is shava”, meaning Śiva becomes inert or un-manifest like the dark space without Śakti. When it is Śiva it’s masculine, together they are Śivā; to Rudra, She is Rudrāni/RodasīGS3.8 together they are Rudrā; to Bhava She is Bhavani GS3.8; to Sharva She is SharvaniGS3.8; to Vīra:Bhadra She is Bhadrakali. In all of His 8 forms described in the Yajur Veda, She is his equal companion. Even during the dissolution of Creation, She is the only witness; hence the title MahāPralaya Sakshini. What about Uma? This name was used both in Yajur Veda as “UmapathiTA10.22.40.22 and in Kenopanishad (2nd primary Upanishad) which says:

Indra questioned as to who and what is this mighty fierce form of fire, to seek that knowledge he went forward as it disappeared before him. This fire/form spoke as such, that everything is eternal and ever-expanding, and within that everything flourishes and so does Indra to reach his greatness. It’s then that he realized that this was Brahman.

Kenopanishad 3.12 – 4.1
Somaskandamurti. Shiva with Uma and Son Skanda 11th Century, Tamil Nadu, Chola Period. Met Museum 1982.220.10

Coming back to Rodasī, She is described as the gift bearer of the mountains, who is always accompanied/surrounded by the mighty Maruts, like the Ganas who always surround the Divine Mother Pārvatī (Pārvata Raja Putri) RV 5.56 6.66. The hymn describes how magnificently She stood in brilliance surrounded by the mighty Maruts RV 6.66, which reminds us of how She (Sati) stood in front of Daksha Yajñá surrounded by mighty Ganas and how they were led by fierce Vīrabhadra to decimate Daksha’s Nir:īśvara:Yajñá (a Yajñá without īśvara). One has to raise the question, how can the Rudra who is the resort of Yajñá/sacrifice (medha-patimRV1.43 TS1.3.14) be excluded from Yajñá? This is what Prajāpati Daksha tried to do and suffered the wrath of Pāraśakti (Sati), which led to his beheading and, later, mutation with a goat head as an example for times to come. Now, is this reference only of the Mahābhārata Itihāsam 12.274 and Siva Maha Puráńas or does it have any reference to the Vedas? The account can be found both in Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 2.6.8/5.4.3 as well as Aitareya Brahmāṇa (3.34) of the Rig Veda.

Agni is Rudra; He is born then when the Agni:Homa is completely piled up with sacrifice; just as a calf desires its mothers teat on birth, so He (Rudra) seeks His portion; if he were not to offer a libation to Him, He would consume the Adhvaryu and the sacrificer. He offers the Çatarudriya (oblation); verily he appeases Him with his own portion; neither Adhvaryu nor sacrificer goes to ruin. TS 5.4.3
 “When one should not pile the Agni:Homa with sacrifice”. The fire is Rudra, and it is as if one stirs up a sleeping lion. TS 5.4.10

Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 2.6.8/5.4.3,10

A German researcher, Michael Witzel states in his research of the long lost Caraka-Katha Āraṇyaka manuscripts:

When the gods (devas) had succeeded in going to heaven (heavenly realms) they could not recognize him, as he eventually approached them (devas), Sun-colored and boasting of his power. This version is unique and has gone so far unnoticed. It is one of the earliest stories that explain some of Rudra’s many names (Bhava, Sharva, Siva, Mrda). The way the gods (the Yajamana) obtain heaven was by performing a ritual, the Pravargya. From this they excluded Rudra, told in another slightly version (II 115, III 207). This merely relates the threat by Rudra, with bow and arrow in hand and the compliance of the gods by including him into the Pravargya ritual.

Caraka-Katha Aranyaka, Harvard Oriental Series 65, Michael Witzel

Now, let’s check the 2nd section of the Manuscript of Caraka-Katha Āraṇyaka II-100/101 and do keep notice of 5 names with which Rudra is addressed and how they mimic the five faces of Shiva linga, also this exact hymn landed in Atharvaśiras Upaniṣhad (one of the minor Upaniṣhad belonging to Atharva Veda).

evāitad āha. divi prsto yajatas suryatvag iti || devā vai rudram svargaṃ lokaṃ gataṃ na vyajānann ādityavarṇaṃ carantan. te .abruvan: ko .asīti (question). ahaṃ rudro, aham indro, aham ādityo, ahaṃ sarvasyāvayā haraso divyasyeti. te bruvan: nirbhajāmainam iti. tān ruvann abhyavadat. tān prādhrajat. te bruvan: bhavān sarvam iti. yad ruvann abhyavadat, tad rudrasya rudratvam. yad bhavān iti, tad bhavasya bhavatvam. yat sarvam iti tac charvasya śarvatvam. sa śivo bhavat. tac chivasya śivatvam. tebhyo mṛlata tan mṛlasya mṛlatvam. taṃ devā abruvan bhavasya bhūtasya bhavyasyādhipatyam iti. sarvasyādhipatyaṃ yajamānaṃ gamayati. anavadyabhis sam u jagmabhir iti. hotra va anavadyas. tabhir va esapravargye sangaschate. tabhir eva pravargyam sangamayati. sanudra asam sadanam va ahur iti. veda vai samudras. tesu va e-

Wandering Rudra in the heavenly realm (svargaṃ lokaṃ) with a sun-like luster/brilliance (ādityavarṇaṃ). The Devas who ascended to the heavenly realm saw and sought Rudra as to who he was (.abruvan: ko .asīti). I am Rudra (ahaṃ rudro), I am Indra (aham indro), I am the Āditya (aham indro, aham ādityo), I am divine brilliance the encompases entirity ( ahaṃ sarvasyāvayā haraso divyasyeti). The Devas claimed no offering to Rudra. He Roared fiercely towards them (rudratvam). The devas realized this and addressed him with due reverence by calling him Bhava. They said Bhava the entirety is thy Sarva. Because they said you are all this that revealed Śarva’s [prowess] as an archer. Because he then became favorable that is Śiva’s benevolence. Because he became kind to them [the other deva-s] that is Mṛḍa’s compassion. The deva-s said to him: “The overlordship of the present, the past and the future [is yours]. [If he knows this while performing the ritual, i.e. offering the portion for Rudra] it leads the ritualist to lordship over all.

Caraka Katha Āraṇyaka 2.100/101
Shiva and Parvati, 900-13th Century Tamil Nadu Chola period. Cleveland Museum of Art c.950–60

After Sati left Her manifestation, it was not Śiva who was furious. Rarely do we see Śiva being furious; it is always His Rudras. So when Maruts (ganas) came to Him to share the story of Sati, Śiva created Veerabhadra and Bhadrakali. By the time of the Rig Veda, Rudras have been receiving homage but there is an issue – chapter by chapter, in the Rig Veda RV7.46, they keep describing Rudras as independent (self-ruling and self-supreme), unparalleled in power, and these hymns seem to indicate that they are not aligned with the Vedic Pantheon order. They were referred to as solo/independent clans with no real relationship with the Devas (Indra or Solar deities like Viṣṇu or Surya). In many cases, Viṣṇu and Indra took their assistance in various battles. There are many hymns in Rig Veda Mandala 5, where Indra is urged by Maharśi not to be averse towards Rudras, and Indra never overrides the boons bestowed by Rudras. Also, Rudras are the lords of amṛta (Soma), the elixir of immortality (similar to sanjeevani given by Śiva to Maharśi Guru Śukracharya as mentioned in Mahābhārata Itihāsa). This was an issue for the Devatas ruled by Devendra and for others. Rudras were immortal of their own accord even before the kṣīrasāgara maṃthana, but the word “amṛta” was used in the early Rig Vedic period in hymns for Rudras. However, it is very difficult to date events like kṣīrasāgara maṃthana in Vedic chronology, so let us not take that too literally. Ironically, when Halahala (kālákuta = anti-creation element) emerged during the manthan, all the Devas sought Śiva, who then drank it to save them. Coming back, there was some divide between the Devas and the Rudras (two separate groups). This would have caused an issue with Prajāpati Daksha when his daughter wed Rudra. So, he disowned Her and insulted Her, then came Rudra and decimated his Yajñá. That means, since the Rig Veda, homages were paid to Rudras, but after Sati went to Rudra, Daksha’s hate drove him to a new Yajñá called Nir:īśvara:Yajñá (Yajñá without īśvara). It was not just him, many other Rishis (Ṛṣi) and Vedic deities sided with Daksha and encouraged him to disregard Rudras due to their independence. One important note that many misunderstand – it was never Surya who was insulted by Rudras during the destruction of this Yajñá, it was Pūṣaṇ (one of the other solar deities). This explains why Tantric literature is so vast and has its own evolution from the Vedic Nigamas, but in due time they both merged. Also, we will look into the concepts of “Isha” and “īśvara” soon.

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