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The Tale of the Unknown Daughters of Lord Shiva

Shiva Puran described the journey of Lord Shiva, from hermit to householder. And this means becoming a father and taking responsibility for fatherhood. As much as we know about the Sons of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the existence of their daughter has been kept under the radar.

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The story of Ashok Sundari comes from the vrat-kathas of Gujarat and neighboring areas. She was said to have been created from a tree by Parvati to give her freedom from loneliness. She was called Ashok as she got rid of Parvati’s ‘shok’ or sorrow. And Sundari because of her beauty. Nothing much is known about her except that she was present at the time Ganesha was beheaded and she hid behind a sack of salt in fear, angering her mother, who was later pacified by her father. She is associated with salt, that ingredient without which life is unsavory.

In Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu one occasionally comes across Jyoti, the goddess of light, who emerges from Shiva’s halo and is the physical manifestation of his grace.

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In Bengali folk tales, Mansa, the goddess who cures snakebites, sister of Vasuki, king of snakes, was born when Shiva’s semen touched a statue carved by Kadru, mother of snakes. Thus she was Shiva’s daughter, but not Parvati’s child. Apparently, Parvati, known as Chandi gets wary of Mansa, even after she helps Lord Shiva when he drinks poison during the churning of the ocean and identifies herself as Shiva’s daughter. But Chandi is so enraged by jealousy that she blinds Mansa in one eye.

Later, when Mansa gets married, Chandi tells her to go into the bridal chamber wearing snakes as ornaments, frightening her husband, Jaratkaru, who runs away. Abandoned by father and husband, the unhappy Mansa becomes a bitter, angry goddess who has to be appeased if one wants to escape death by snakebite.

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