Parvati - Etymology

Etymology

Parvata is one of the Sanskrit words for "mountain"; "Parvati" translates to "She of the mountains" and refers to Parvati being born the daughter of Himavan, lord of the mountains and the personification of the Himalayas. Other names which associate her with mountains are Shailaja (Daughter of the mountains), Adrija or Nagajaa or Shailaputri (Daughter of Mountains), 'Haimavathi' (Daughter of Himavan) and 'Girija' or 'Girirajaputri' (Daughter of king of the mountains). Parvati's name is also sometimes considered a form of 'pavitra', meaning 'sinless' or 'holy' in Sanskrit.Her consort is Shiva and she is the sagun swaroop of the Supreme Being Adi Parashakti.

She is also known by 108 names from the Durga Saptashati. These include Ambika ('dear mother'), Gauri ('fair complexioned'), Shyama ('dark complexioned'), Bhairavi ('ferocious'), Kumari ('virgin'), Kali ("dark one"), Umā, Lalita, Mataji ('revered mother'), Sahana ('pure'), Durga, Bhavani, Shivaradni or Shivaragyei ('Queen of Shiva'), and many hundreds of others. The Lalita sahasranama contains an authoritative listing of 1,000 names of Parvati.

Two of Parvati's most famous epithets are Uma and Aparna. The name Uma is used for Sati in earlier texts, but in the Ramayana, it is used as synonym for Parvati. In the Harivamsa, Parvati is referred to as Aparna ('One who took no sustenance') and then addressed as Uma, who was dissuaded by her mother from severe austerity by saying u mā ('oh, don't').

The apparent contradiction that Parvati is addressed as the fair one, Gauri, as well as the dark one, Kali or Shyama is a philosophical matter. It hints at her "twice-born" nature as Sati and then Uma. But more importantly, it suggests that the one calm and placid wife, Uma, in times of danger, can transfer back to her primal chaotic nature as Kali, who stands uncloaked, with a foot on her husband's chest. The twin opposite colors, white and black represent the two opposing nature of the Goddess. In later times, this concept was made into a short Hindu myth: Once, Shiva rebuked Parvati about her dark complexion forcing an angry Parvati to leave him. She underwent severe austerities to become fair-complexioned as a boon from Brahma.

Parvati is also the goddess of love and devotion, or Kamakshi.

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