Daksha Prajapati was the manasaputra of Lord Brahma. He got married to a beautiful woman called Prasuti. Together they were blessed with many beautiful daughters but Daksha’s most loved one was the youngest, her name was Sati. As Sati was growing up and coming to the right age for marriage . Daksha started to think about the best husband for his Sati, someone who can give her a prosperous, luxurious and a happy life. Little did he know that his daughter Sati had only one person in mind and that was Lord Shiva.She was in love with Lord Shiva and only wanted him as her husband and nobody else, but Daksha disliked Lord Shiva. He disagreed with Sati saying that Lord Shiva is not fit for her. He tried to convince Sati that he could find someone better than Lord Shiva, but Sati only wanted Shiva and nobody else.
Finally, Daksha arranged a Swayamvara for Sati. Devatas, Warriors and Kings from everywhere came to attend this Swayamvara. The Garland was given in Sati’s hand, she walked through everyone and put the Garland over Lord Shiva’s idol. Everyone was shocked to see what Sati had done, because they knew Daksha did not like Shiva. Now Daksha had no choice; he had to get Sati married to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva appeared before Sati, and the wedding was held, with great pomp, joy and celebrations, all around the world everyone was celebrating this union of Lord Shiva and Sati. Nandi, the Vahana of Lord Shiva, took both of them and returned to Kailasha, His abode.
Lord Shiva and Devi Sati were very happy in Kailasha. Back in Daksha’s place, Daksha was planning for a great Yajna. He invited many rishis, all the Devatas and people all around the world, but he did not invite Shiva and Sati. In Kailasha, Sati saw people heading towards Daksha’s palace. Sati was curious and wanted to go too. She wanted to go to her father’s place, it had been a long time since she had met her sisters, her mother and Daksha. So She asked Lord Shiva for permission but He politely told Her that it might not be in Her best interest to go there. But Sati kept on insisting and so Lord Shiva gave Her the permission. She went to Daksha’s palace and all the arrangements were already over and the ceremony was about to start when Daksha saw Sati. He mockingly let out a laugh and asked who had invited her over here. He started insulting Lord Shiva. Unable to bear it anymore, Sati jumped into the sacred pyre of the Yajna.
It was havoc! Screams and cries resounded. The news went to Lord Shiva and in His fury He tore one strand of hair and lashed it on the ground. Out came Virabhadra. He charged furiously to the Yajna and cut off Daksha’s head. Lord Shiva looked at Sati’s body, held her and walked around the universe in lamentation. Lord Vishnu saw this and sent forth His Sudarshana Chakra. The Sudarshana cut Sati’s body into 52 pieces, which fell on the earth. (Shakti Peethas), Lord Shiva’s anger calmed down, and he went into a very deep tapasya. After Sati’s death, Sati was reborn again to Himavat and Mainavati and her name was Parvati.
While all this was happening, there was an Asura named Tarakasura who wanted the power to become the ruler of all the three worlds. He immersed himself in intense tapasya. He gazed at the sun and stood with his arms raised,on one leg and on the toes of his feet. A hundred years passed with no food to eat. For the next hundred years, he gave up food and water and lived only on air. A hundred years were spent in performing tapasya inside water bodies, another hundred years on earth and a hundred more inside fires. For a hundred years he performed tapasya upside down, standing on his hands. And for yet another hundred years, he hung upside down from the branches of trees. His tapasya pleased Lord Brahma. He appeared before Tarakasura, and Tarakasura asked for two boons :”Oh Brahma give me two boons – The first boon should be that no one created by you should be as strong as me. The second boon should be that I should be killed only by Shiva’s son”. Tarakasura knew very well that Lord Shiva had no sons. Even though Devi Sati, was born again as Parvati, she still wasn’t with Lord Shiva. Taking advantage of this, Tarakasura started troubling everyone.
Parvati grew up into a beautiful woman. One day, Himavat took Parvati along with him for his daily pooja to Lord Shiva on Kailasha. As they reached Kailasha, when Parvati’s eyes met Lord Shiva, she fell in love. She came everyday to perform pooja for Lord Shiva and would serve him all day. Meanwhile, Lord Indra, the King of Devatas, was starting to get worried because Tarakasura was going out of control. The only way Tarakasura could be stopped is if Lord Shiva had a son, but Shiva was not reciprocating Parvati’s love for Him. In order to catalyze their relationship, Lord Indra ordered Kamadeva to go to Lord Shiva’s abode, and shoot his arrows of love at him. Kamadeva hesitated but still went. He took out His bow and shot arrows. Lord Shiva’s third eye opened and burned Kamadeva to ashes. Rati Devi, the consort of Kamadeva was furious at Parvati because her beloved incurred the wrath of Lord Shiva for the sake of Parvati. Rati Devi cursed Parvati, that she would never be able to bear a child in Her womb.
This incident made Parvati’s resolve stronger. She decided to take up Maha Tapasya to gain Lord Shiva’s love. With her parents’ blessings she embarked upon this journey. Her meditation lasted through years. Her tapasya was firm and powerful and the heat radiating from Her was affecting all the worlds.
Seeing Parvati’s intense Tapasya, Lord Shiva took the form of a man, and went to Parvathi and tried to discourage Her. He tried convincing Her that Shiva was weak and He was an ascetic. But Devi Parvathi was firm with Her resolve. Lord Shiva was very pleased with Parvati’s devotion and showed Her His true form. Parvathi was overjoyed to see Lord Shiva. Shiva accepted Her hand in marriage and the news reached Himavat and his wife Mainavati. They made arrangements for the great marriage. Everything went according to the rituals, Parvati and Shiva were alas united. Nandi took the divine couple and returned to Kailasha where they lived happily.
One day, the Devatas worriedly approached Devi Parvati and Lord Shiva and told them about the situation of Tarakasura and that only their son could kill him. They requested help. Lord Shiva and Parvathi knew a son was necessary or Tarakasura would cause destruction for all the three worlds. They looked at each other understandingly and both of them closed their eyes and went into deep meditation. As they were meditating, their Powers were coming together, to create an energy being, a ball of fire with the brilliance of a thousand suns. The energies of Shiva and Shakti were coming together slowly for a grand fusion.
Meanwhile, back in Tarakasura’s palace, he heard about the news of Shiva and Parvati’s marriage. He got to know they were about to create a son. He furiously headed towards Kailasha to destroy that ball of energy. Seeing this, the other Devatas got worried. Agni ran into the cave where Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati were meditating, their eyes closed. He grabbed the ball of fire. The heat was unbearable for Agni himself!! He ran out of the cave and handed it over to Bhoomi Devi. Even She could not bear the heat of the energy ball. Soon a part of Bhoomi broke out and became a Graha called Mangala or Mars. Bhoomi Devi approached Devi Ganga for help. Only Devi Ganga was able to bear the energy. As Ganga carried it, the fireball split into 6 parts, and developed into 6 lotuses which had beautiful babies on them. As the lotuses floated and reached a forest, the 6 Krittika Nakshatra sisters saw the babies. They carried the babies in their arms and started nursing them.
Parvati was deeply saddened that Her own son was not with Her. She thought that She was never going to see Her son again. She is the mother of the whole world, but couldn’t bear Her own son in Her womb! She approached Lord Shiva with Her concerns. She told Him how she felt by the separation and shared her sorrows. Lord Shiva looked at Her with a calm smile on His face. He knew what she must be feeling. He told Parvathi, “Dear Parvathi, don’t worry. You have a strong connection with your son. He is not physically with you, but whatever you do, say, think or feel will still reach our child. Take this Bhasma, the dust of My Body and make a doll out of it. Infuse Prana into the doll, and start having conversations with it, like you would have had with our son if he were in your womb”. Parvati created the doll lovingly and did the Prana Pratistha. She looked at the doll and started having conversations with it. Parvathi’s words reached Lord Skanda, as He grew up in the womb of Mother Ganga and later in the arms of the Krittikas. The conversations that Devi Parvathi had with Lord Skanda is called the Garbha Gita.
Tarakasura‘s keen eyes were on Kailasha, waiting for a chance to destroy the son of Shiva before He could consolidate into His complete being. Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati decided that their son should remain with the Krittika sisters for some time. The Krittika sisters brought up Lord Skanda. They loved and nurtured him. When it was time for Devi Parvati to get Lord Skanda back, she went her way to the forest where Lord Skanda lived with the Krittika sisters. When she approached Skanda, she told him who She was. “I am your mother!” (Uma-Putra). Hearing this the Krittikas immediately reacted saying “He is our son!” (Kartikeya). Ganga appeared over there “He is my son” (Gangeya). Hearing Ganga telling this Agni appeared “He is my son!” (Agni – Putra). Hearing Agni telling this, Prithvi Devi appeared “He is my son!” (Bhumi Putra). Lord Shiva smilingly said, He is my son (ShivaKumara). The conflict was becoming serious. Lord Shiva resolved the situation stating “This child is born from the energy of Shiva and Shakti’s Union and has received His powers and knowledge from words of the Divine Mother Herself. Hence He is Skanda. Everyone was happy and peaceful again. Parvathi and Shiva took Skanda back to Kailasha. Parvathi was overjoyed to see Skanda after such a long time, and she embraced Him. The three worlds rejoiced at the return of Skanda.