Ardhanarishvara is the deity of Shiva and Parvati in one form. The power of masculinity and feminity in one God when mixed creates the essence of the world. This idol signifies that a man and woman are looked upon the same. Did you wonder how Shiva transformed himself into this avatar and why? Let’s know more…
Shiva is not only seen as A god but as the Adi Yogi, meaning the first yogi and the Adi Guru- first Guru. Thus, Shiva had taught Yoga to the Saptharishis first who were his first devotees. Among the Saptharishis Bhrigu rishi was first who see Lord Shiva in Ardhanarishvara .
Bhrigu Rishi’s Arrival
Maharishi Bhrigu was one of the seven great sages, the Saptarishis- one of the many Prajapatis (the facilitators of Creation) created by Brahma. He is intensely devoted to Lord Shiva and, as well a great bhakt of Shiva.
One day He visits Lord Shiva and shows his devotion and love only to Lord Shiva, but not Parvati. Parvati sitting beside lord Shiva in Kailash gets annoyed. Now, Bhrigu Rishi visits lord Shiva every day and He desires to circumambulate Shiv.
Devotion or Separation?
While Bhrigu rishi circumambulates Shiva three times, He says Parvati to get up and move aside! Shiva seeing pure devotion, still, Parvati doesn’t like the discrimination. He ignores her completely and goes only around Lord Shiva.
So, the next day Parvati sits close to Lord Shiva, to see that there is no way for Bhrigu rishi to give Pradakshina to Lord Shiva. But still, He asks Parvati to move. Later Parvati says, ” Why should I move?” He said I will only go around the lord and not you!
Transformations to Ardhanarishvara
Parvati is sitting close to Lord Shiva, Due to the less space to worship Shiva alone, Bhrigu rishi transforms himself into A rat and goes circumambulating around Shiva’s leg ( foot region). Shiva is amused with the Tiff that is going on between his wife and devotee.
Then, He looks at the whole thing and takes Parvati on his lap. To test Bhrigu rishi, Now isn’t it impossible to circumambulate only around Lord Shiva? But smart Bhrigu rishi transforms himself into a Bird and circumambulates only around Shiva near his head. Shiva was amused to see his devotion and the discrimination that is going on.
Shiva said Okay, let’s see what you will do now when I merge her as a part of me. So that’s what Shiva does, He just puts her into himself as a part of him. Now Shiva – The half-man, Half- woman, Half- Parvati. This is known as The Ardhanari… This was made in order to teach a lesson to Bhrigu Rishi. Now Bhrigu rishi turns himself into a bee and starts doing Pradakshina to only the right leg because this is Shiva! refusing the left because that side is Parvati! seeing this both started laughing and said This is Both Shiva and Parvati. So now Ardhanarishvara sits in a Yogic posture of Siddhasana where the Bee ( Bhrigu ) cannot even circumambulate Shiva.
The childish devotion of Bhrigu rishi is overseen by the lesson that Shiva teaches him. Partiality between a Man and Woman is not right, This avatar was made to showcase the nature of existence and to show that a man and woman are equal in all terms.