Shiva and Parvati had a bitter quarrel one day. It was about the usual problems that Parvati had over Shiva’s gambling habit and other such matters. But this time she was truly furious and she left their home, smearing her face with charcoal and water to make it look darker.

She left Shiva and went to forest where dressed like a local member of the Korpalu tribe. One day Shiva approached her but she told him that he was not right to do so. She was a low caste forest woman and Shiva, a god. But Shiva argued that they were the same human beings after, the same blood ran through their veins. So the two spent a few nights together in the forest, after which Shiva decided it was time to go back home. The Korpalu woman who was really parvati told him that he could go if he so pleased but, what would she do if she found out she was pregnant with his child.

Shiva said he was not leaving her without providing for their future and handed her a golden knife, a silver case for lime and a silver snuff box. And then he left to go home. But no sooner did he turn his back, Parvati ran home taking another way. She cleaned up quickly but before she had time to get completely ready, Shiva came back.

Parvati confronted him as he entered. Did he have a good time, she asked him, cavorting with a forest woman. Shiva, of course, denied any such thing. But then she showed him the gifts, saying that the forest woman had come and told her everything. And she promptly produced the three things that Shiva had given her as evidence.

Where did the woman see Parvati? Shiva asked but Parvati was not one to be bullied by such questions and she answered him quietly that the woman had come to her and left the gifts behind. At that Shiva said that he now knew that Parvati had no defects and the two should live together harmoniously, in peace.

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Story collected by: Arundhuti Dasgupta

Source: The ring of truth: Myths of sex and jewelry by Wendy Doniger

Location: Karnataka