Coercing the Gods: Fasting as Protest and Transformation

I can think. I can wait. I can fast.

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Pārvatī had a singular desire—to win Śiva, the greatest of gods, as her husband.

At first, she attempted to beguile him with her beauty and charm, which he ignored entirely with his eyes firmly shut in samādhi. She then sent Kāmadeva, the Cupid of love, to transform his ascetic’s cave into a pleasure garden replete with spring blossoms, singing birds and celestial dancing nymphs hoping to entice Śiva away from his meditation. Instead, the scene aroused only his anger as he reduced all that beauty to ash with a flare of wrath shot forth from his third eye.

Śiva then returned to his chillum smoking and tapasya, while Pārvatī fumed. Again and again, she tried to attract his attention to no avail. He simply was not interested in giving her what she wanted.

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