Legends of Lord Shiva’s Daughters•
Posted on March 28 2023
Lord Shiva is well-known in Hindu mythology as the father of Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya. It is a lesser-known fact that the god along with His consort has three other daughters. They are Ashoka Sundari, Jyoti and Manasa. Each daughter has an interesting story associated with her. Although they are not as famous or popular as their births, the lord’s daughters are still worshipped with reverence in various parts of the country.
Read on to know some interesting facts about each of these three daughters of Lord Shiva.
Ashoka Sundari is the first daughter of Lord Shiva. She was created by the lord’s consort, Goddess Parvati, from a wish fulfilling tree known as Kalpavriskha to seek relief from Her loneliness when the lord spent a long time outside Kailash fighting demons or in penance. The daughter was named Ashoka Sundari because she helped Parvati get rid of her sorrow or shok and she was also very beautiful. She is also known by the names Devi Viraja and Bala Tripurasundari. She is believed to be the goddess of beauty and reliever of problems in an individual’s life. The Padma Purana has references about this daughter of Lord Shiva.
The story goes that she was witness to the argument between Lord Shiva and Lord Ganapati and saw Shiva behead Ganapati in a whim of fury. This action scared her and she hid herself behind a sack of salt. This is why she is closely associated with salt and salt is considered to be a major taste of life today. Ashoka Sundari is widely revered in Gujarat in the Hindu month of Chaitra. She is said to have married King Nahusha, the ruler of the Moon dynasty. According to some legends, Indra, the king of gods had to once take leave of heaven for a long time. In His absence, He proclaimed Nahusha as the ruler of heaven until His return.
Jyoti is the second daughter of Lord Shiva. The term jyoti means light and hence she is represented as the goddess of light. There are two different narrations regarding her birth. According to one narration, she was born from the divine light surrounding Lord Shiva and is considered to be a physical representation of the lord’s grace. On the other hand, the other narration indicates that she was born from a spark that emerged from Goddess Parvati’s forehead. She is reference to in the Shodasam, a devotional composition compiled by sage Agasthya in which he describes her birth from the OM pranava pillar,
Jyoti is primarily worshipped in several shrines in Tamil Nadu as Goddess Jwalamukhi. The Jwalamukhi temple in Himachal Pradesh, North India is dedicated in Her honour and is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas. She is also related with the Vedic Raka in different parts of the country and is hence also referred to as Goddess Rayaki. There is also a belief that She appears formless in all temples built in honour of Her brother Lord Kartikeya, which gives her the name Saravanabhavi indicating her intertwining with Saravana or Kartikeya.
Manasa is the third daughter of Lord Shiva. However, she is not considered to be the daughter of Goddess Parvati and She made the goddess jealous. According to a popular belief, she was born when the semen of Lord Shiva made contact with a statue made by Kadru, who is considered to be the mother of snakes. She is also saifd to be the sister of Vasuki, who is claimed to be the king of snakes. The mythological stories associate her with short temper because she was rejected by Shiva, Parvati and her husband. However, she is known to be extremely kind to her devotees and those who seek refuge in her. There is a well-known temple at the summit of the Shivalik hills, that is around three kilometres away from Haridwar. Devotees consider this shrine as one among the five top holy places to visit in Haridwar. There are also temples in Her honour in Calcutta, West Bengal; Alwar, Rajasthan; Bhagalpur, Bihar and Panchkula, Haryana.
According to religious scriptures, she saved Lord Shiva when the god drank the deadly poison that emerged during the samandar manthar or the churning of the ocean. Manasa is primarily worshipped in shrines in Bengal and during the rainy season. She has no specific form and is usually revered in the form of an earthen pot, image of s snake or a branch of a tree. She is believed to cure people of snake bite and other infectious diseases like small pox and chicken pox. She is also highly regarded as a fertility deity, especially among the lower classes. Hence, people seek her blessings during their marriage or freedom from childlessness.
Although the above three names are widely known when it comes to talking about Lord Shiva’s daughters, scriptures from Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati have five daughters. However, these daughters do not have a human form. They are collectively called Nagakanyas. The story is that the divine couple were playing in the water when the lord ejaculated accidentally. As soon as He realised this, the lord kept the semen on a lotus leaf from which five formless girls were born. Unfortunately, the goddess had no idea about what had just happened.
Lord Shiva went to the lake each morning to spend time with His daughters. Goddess Parvati who noticed this daily routine of Her consort followed Him quietly one day and saw Him playing with the Nagakanyas like a father. This infuriated Her to no end and She raised Her foot to hurt them. Shiva made a timely intervention and narrated all that happened to Parvati. This pacified Goddess Parvati and She began considering Lord Shiva’s children as Her own. Lord Shiva also declared that a person who prayed to the five girls with utmost devotion on Shukla Paksha on the fifth day of the Shravan month will have no fear of snakebite along with his/her family members.
Written by - Deepthi K