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Who is Shiva in love with?

Shiva is one of the most important gods in Hinduism. He is part of the Hindu Trinity along with Brahma and Vishnu. Shiva is known by many names including Mahadeva, Pashupati, Nataraja, and Bhairava. He is associated with many different consorts in Hindu mythology. His wife Parvati is considered his shakti or feminine energy counterpart. But Shiva has had relationships and marriages with many goddesses over the ages. This article will explore the various loves and wives of Lord Shiva throughout Hindu texts and folklore.


In many tellings, Shiva’s first wife was Sati or Dakshayani. She was the daughter of the god Daksha. Daksha did not approve of his daughter’s marriage to Shiva since Shiva lived an ascetic lifestyle and did not conform to societal norms. At one particular sacrifice conducted by Daksha, he did not invite Shiva or Sati. Feeling insulted, Sati attended anyway but was so overcome with humiliation and grief that she jumped into a sacrificial fire and perished.

When Shiva learned of his wife’s death, he was overcome with rage and sorrow. He retrieved Sati’s burnt corpse and danced across the cosmos holding her body. Vishnu eventually cut Sati’s corpse into 51 pieces which fell to earth to become sacred sites known as Shakti Peethas. Meanwhile, Shiva retreated from the world and immersed himself in deep meditation and asceticism.


After Sati dies, Shiva mourns her for many years, renouncing the world and living as an ascetic. The gods become concerned that Shiva’s absence will leave the universe unprotected. So the goddess Parvati is born as a reincarnation of Sati. From a young age, Parvati performs austerities and penances to attract Shiva’s attention and bring him out of his grief.

After many trials and tests, Shiva finally accepts Parvati as his wife. She softens his grief over Sati’s death and brings him balance. With Parvati, Shiva becomes both the ascetic and the householder. Parvati and Shiva have two sons together, Ganesha and Kartikeya. As Shakti, Parvati is Shiva’s constant companion and equal counterpart. They demonstrate the harmony between masculine and feminine energies.

In iconography, Shiva and Parvati are often depicted seated together. Parvati calms Shiva’s destructive tendencies and channels his powers productively. Their marriage symbolizes the union between pure consciousness (Shiva) and divine energy (Parvati) that keeps the cosmos functioning.

Other names and forms of Parvati

Parvati is often referred to by many other names connecting her with Shiva:

  • Uma – Gentle and beautiful
  • Gauri – Fair, glowing
  • Shivakamini – She who loves Shiva
  • Bhavani – Giver of life

She also takes many fierce warrior forms including:

  • Durga – Warrior goddess who slays demons
  • Kali – Fierce black goddess who conquers over time
  • Chandi – Violent goddess who battles evil
  • Ambika – Mother goddess

All these forms represent Parvati’s multifaceted nature as both loving wife and fierce protector.


The goddess Ganga is another wife of Shiva, though her relationship with him is complicated. Ganga was a heavenly river brought to earth to purify the ashes of the Bhagiratha’s ancestors. But her immense power and force threatened to flood the earth.

Seeing this, Shiva caught Ganga’s waters in his tangled locks as she fell from heaven, gentling her power before releasing her in measured streams. Ganga then became the earthly river which flows from Shiva’s hair.

Some versions say Shiva took the adult Ganga as a wife. But other accounts say he took her as a daughter instead since he had calmed her impetuous nature. As his daughter, Ganga lived with Shiva and Parvati in their mountain abode of Kailash.

The Descent of Ganga

One iconic image of Hindu art is the Descent of Ganga which shows Shiva releasing the heavenly river waters trapped in his matted locks as Parvati looks on. This scene captures the harmonious relationship between Shiva, Parvati, and Ganga despite the complex mythology.


In the ancient city of Varanasi, Shiva is said to have married Annapurna, the goddess of food and nourishment. After Sati’s death, Shiva retreated from the world and refused to eat anything. He meditated without food or water, causing the earth to become barren from his ascetic heat.

To revive Shiva and the earth, Annapurna manifested as a lovely goddess bearing a pot of kheer (rice pudding). She won Shiva’s heart with her cooking and caring nature. By getting Shiva to eat again, Annapurna brought nourishment back to the world. She remained by his side providing food and abundance.

In Varanasi, the Annapurna Temple sits adjacent to the iconic Vishvanath Temple dedicated to Shiva. Pilgrims visiting Shiva must first pay respects to Annapurna for feeding the great god himself.

Annapurna: Goddess of Nourishment

  • Governs food, cooking, harvest
  • Provides nourishment to all beings
  • Bears pot ever-overflowing with food
  • Worshipped for abundance and prosperity


Mohini is the female avatar Vishnu took to trick the demons and assist the gods. But in some versions, Mohini so enchants Shiva with her beauty that he briefly takes her as a wife.

The gods wished to drink amrita, the nectar of immortality produced from churning the ocean. But the demons stole the entire pot. Vishnu transformed into the stunningly gorgeous Mohini to distract the demons. Bewitched by her beauty, they let her distribute the amrita between gods and demons.

But Mohini only gave amrita to the gods. When the demons realized the trick, it was too late. Shiva was so struck by Mohini’s loveliness that he had a dalliance with her in this form. Their union shows that even great gods can be blinded by desire and beauty.

Other accounts of Mohini-Shiva

Some versions give different details of Shiva and Mohini’s encounter:

  • Shiva recognized Mohini’s true nature and remained aloof
  • Shiva married Mohini after Parvati curses him to briefly suffer separation
  • Their union produces Lord Ayyappa, worshipped in Kerala

But in all tellings, Mohini is a temporary distraction and Parvati remains Shiva’s true love.

The Many Loves of Shiva

Shiva has many consorts as he transcends conventional married life. Each goddess bonds with him in different ways as shown in this table:

Goddess Relationship
Sati First wife who proves her devotion
Parvati Second wife, main consort balancing Shiva’s energies
Ganga Second wife or adopted daughter who irrigates the earth
Annapurna Local Varanasi consort providing food and care
Mohini Enchanting femme fatale, temporary distraction


Shiva’s relationships with goddesses reflect different aspects of his divinity. As an ascetic, he is free from marital bonds yet participates in cosmic marriages. Each goddess bonds with him in her own unique way.

While Shiva has had multiple wives and lovers, Parvati in her various incarnations remains his most beloved. Their marriage charts an immortal love story, symbolic of the sacred union of masculine and feminine energies that creates balance in the universe. Shiva and Parvati show that with love, patience, and devotion, an ascetic widower and determined goddess can find marital bliss.