parvati – How many wives did Lord Shiva have?


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scripture - What is the origin of Kumbha Mela?

parvati – How many wives did Lord Shiva have?

As I discuss in this answer, when Shiva was born, he immediately started to cry, and Brahma gave him numerous names to calm him down, as described in this chapter of the Srimad Bhagavatam:

Thereafter Brahmā said: “O chief of the demigods, you shall be called by the name Rudra by all people because you have so anxiously cried. My dear boy, I have already selected the following places for your residence: the heart, the senses, the air of life, the sky, the air, the fire, the water, the earth, the sun, the moon and austerity.” Lord Brahmā said: “My dear boy Rudra, you have eleven other names: Manyu, Manu, Mahinasa, Mahān, Śiva, Ṛtadhvaja, Ugraretā, Bhava, Kāla, Vāmadeva and Dhṛtavrata. O Rudra, you also have eleven wives, called the Rudrāṇīs, and they are as follows: Dhī, Dhṛti, Rasalā, Umā, Niyut, Sarpi, Ilā, Ambikā, Irāvatī, Svadhā and Dīkṣā.” … The most powerful Rudra, whose bodily color was blue mixed with red, created many offspring exactly resembling him in features, strength and furious nature.

Now if you notice, the fourth name on the list of eleven names is Shiva, and the fourth name on the list of eleven wives is Uma, a name of Shakti/Parvati. That’s not a coincidence; the “many offspring” of Shiva are part of a group of Vedic gods called the Rudras, and the eleven principal Rudras are denoted by the eleven names which Brahma gave to Shiva. Out of the eleven principal Rudras, the chief Rudra is Shiva himself. All the other Rudras are just manifestations of him. In any case, the other ten wives that Brahma mentioned, the Rudranis, are married to the other ten principal Rudras.

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