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Daughters of Shiva

Jan 10, 2013 | Articles ( , Indian Mythology (

/indian-mythology) .



Published in Devlok, Sunday Midday, Dec.

16, 2012

With the appearance of Ashok Sundari on the

“Devon ke dev Mahadev” teleserial on LifeOK

channel, many are wondering since when did

Shiva father daughters? Everyone has heard of

his famous sons: Ganesha and Kartikeya. But

daughters? Ashok Sundari? Where did she

come from?

The whole idea of Shiva Puran is to describe the

gradual socialization of Shiva, from hermit to

householder. And this means becoming a father

and taking responsibility for fatherhood. As a hermit, Shiva is detached and disengaged with the world. But the Goddess

is determined to make him participate. In that, she is helped by Vishnu and all the other gods. In Tamil temple lore,

Vishnu is her brother and Brahma her father. Together they want this ascetic to establish a home. Only then will his great

wisdom and his powers benefit the world at large.

And so children are required. Thus sons are born. Notice how the two popular sons take care of humanity’s most basic

needs. Ganesha is associated with food that helps us cope with our fear of starvation. Kartikeya is associated with

warfare that is necessary to defend ourselves from predators. Thus through his two sons, Shiva provides and protects.

But this ‘male preference’ has not been unnoticed by the devotees and the sages. And so across folk traditions there are

references to his daughters.

Daughters of Shiva : Devdutt Pattanaik

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The story of Ashok Sundari comes from the vrat-kathas of Gujarat and neighboring areas. She was created from a tree

by Parvati to give her freedom from loneliness. She was called Ashoka as she got rid of Parvati’s ‘shok’ or sorrow. And

Sundari because she was beautiful. Nothing much is known of her except that she was present at the time Ganesha was

beheaded and she hid behind a sack of salt in fear, angering her mother, who was later pacified by her father. She is

associated with salt, that ingredient without which life is unsavory.

In Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, one occasionally comes across Jyoti, the goddess of light, who emerges from Shiva’s

halo and is the physical manifestation of his grace. She is commonly associated with Kartikeya.

In Bengali folk tales, Mansa, the goddess who cures snakebites, sister of Vasuki, king of snakes, was born when Shiva’s

semen touched a statue carved by Kadru, mother of snakes. Thus she was Shiva’s daughter, but not Parvati’s child,

much like Kartikeya, who was born of Shiva’s semen but not in Parvati’s womb. Parvati, known in the folktale as Chandi,

does not like Mansa and is even jealous of her, suspecting she may be Shiva’s secret wife. It is Mansa who saves Shiva

when he drinks poison during the churning of the ocean and identifies herself as Shiva’s daughter. But Chandi is so

blinded by jealousy that she blinds Mansa in one eye. Tired of household quarrels, Shiva abandons Mansa but gives her

a companion called Neta. Later, when Mansa gets married, Chandi tells her to go into the bridal chamber wearing

snakes as ornaments, frightening her husband, Jaratkaru, who runs away. Abandoned by father and husband, the

unhappy Mansa becomes a bitter angry goddess who has to be appeased if one wants to escape death by snakebite.

The idea of devotees ‘creating’ gods and goddess is not unknown to Hinduism. Few realize that Santoshi-maa did not

exist in the Hindu landscape before the famous film in the 1970s. Is Ashok Sundari the next of our 330 million gods?


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Daughters of Shiva : Devdutt Pattanaik

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What's this? ALSO ON DEVDUTT

Show me the original

Shirish Kirtiwar — I wish, if you could translate @least

some of your previous books(especially the 2 'seven


When brothers fight

Anjan — Brilliant as always.

When teachers learn and students teach

Guest — It's interesting that ancient Indian education

system was so liberal in the learning process, wherea…

Which way is the right way?

Anudip Samui — As per your last line, "There is not

truth out there, only stories well told." Does this mean


Discussion Community ##Share

• Reply •

Jayasankar Chidambaram • 10 days ago

Mahadev serial is a useless serial and Purana's are Wrognly interpreted by the Director and

story writer. It is better we all lodge a protest against these Crooks.

• Reply •

Jayasankar Chidambaram • 10 days ago

It is just a nig imagination of this author. There is nothing like Ashok Sundari. Please ignore these

Crook Writers.

• Reply •

Raghav Venkataraman • 14 days ago

"Is Ashok Sundari the next of our 330 million gods?" - I am from Tamilnadu and have not seen the

Mahadev serial too. For me it is 330 million +1



9 comments • 9 days ago 6 comments • 16 days ago

2 comments • 12 days ago 3 comments • a month ago


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