It was the intense sound that first drew Parvati to the mouth of the cave. The daughter of the mountains was not unfamiliar with the caves nestled deep within her kingdom. But this one was different. It radiated with an effulgence and an undeniable energy that coiled around her, gently urging her closer and closer to the cave.
She was unprepared for what she saw once inside the dense, dark cave. A figure sat shrouded in shadow, and yet self illuminated. His eyes half closed, His body straight like a column, his hair matted and hanging down his back like great vines decorating a, strong tree. Vibrating the syllable “Om” the sound seemed to come from both inside and outside the cave all at once.
With all her soul she wanted to know more about the personality in front of her, but her voice had fled, along with her heart.
“That is Mahadev. The gods need his assistance. We need Lord Shiva.” Parvati heard her father’s words as though he were miles away. Only his name had penetrated her haze. Mahadev. Lord Shiva. And she knew without a doubt: I belong to him.
The situation was more dire than anyone wanted to admit. Wicked asuras were attacking. The devas had been driven from the heavens. They needed Lord Shiva to defeat them, and the god of destruction was no longer interested. In anything. There was no one who could encourage him to break his meditation. He was uninvolved, unmoved and heartbroken. Parvati’s determined heart, however, would hear no objections.
‘My sweet fragile daughter, what will you do with a life filled with penance? You have been raised a princess. You belong in the palace.” Her father’s sad eyes pleaded with Parvati to reconsider. She comforted him with a gentle smile.
“I belong with my Lord. That is the only place I can ever truly belong. I was born to be with him. I know it as surely as I know the sun will rise in the morning.”
The mountain king saw the fire of determination in her eyes, and knew there would be nothing to dissuade his strong willed daughter. With a raised hand in blessing, he bade her farewell.
Matting her long hair to look exactly like his, Parvati donned a sari as white as the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas and left home. She journeyed to the same cave where she had first seen her beloved. His name whispered with her every breath as a near constant mantra.
She lost herself in her meditation on Mahadev. She refused to eat, and she refused to sleep. She had accepted the role of a Brahmacarini. A yogini. Her life held nothing but austerity. If that was the only way she could dedicate herself to Lord Shiva then she would do so until she took her last breath.
Oh beautiful goddess, even engaged in harsh austerities, your form glows with an exquisite brilliance. With a mala in your hand, you constantly chant the name of your beloved. With an unmatched resolve and intense longing within your heart, you seek to do the impossible. And not through brute strength, but through sheer force of will. You remind us that in order to achieve the greatest things in life, namely loving devotion, we have to adopt an attitude of fixed determination and patience. Oh merciful Brahmacarini, all glories to you. Please bless us with a fraction of your love, devotion, and patient enthusiasm, for that is the only way to attract the heart of the Supreme.