3 Himavat


   Literally “possessed of snow,” Himavat is the personification of the Himalayas found in Indian literature and mythology. His wife is Mena.
   Many stories are told of Himavat, his wife, and their family. One story holds that the couple had three daughters, Ragini, Kutila, and KALI, and one son, Sunabha. The first daughter, Ragini, was reddish colored and dressed in red. The sec-ond daughter, Kutila, was fair and wore garlands and clothes of white. The last daughter was the dark Kali.
   Six years after each girl’s birth they all began to practice austerities. Successful in her austerities, Kutila was taken to heaven by certain divinities to meet BRAHMA, as there was a need for someone to bear a son to SHIVA to save the universe from tor-ment by the demons. Brahma told the divinities that this fair girl could not bear such a son, but in her temerity she insisted to Brahma that she could. This incurred his anger and he cursed her to become the river in his land (later to be taken to earth in the form of Ganga or the GANGES).
   The second, ruddy, daughter, Ragini, did aus-terities and was also cursed by Brahma when she too became angry at him. Because of her ruddy complexion, she was turned into the twilight.
   Finally, it was time for the dark one, Kali, to go to heaven because of her austerity. At this point Mena, in anguish at the prospect of losing yet another daughter, shouted out, “u! ma!” (Sanskrit for Oh, no!). UMA is another name for PARVATI, and at this point her name was officially changed. She, of course, was successful in becoming Shiva’s wife.
   There are many stories of Himavat’s encoun-ters with his divine son-in-law, Shiva. Usually, they show him and his wife to be uncomfortable with the antisocial ascetic with whom their daughter had fallen in love. In one example, Himavat has a ragged beggar thrown from his house only to learn later that this was Parvati’s beau Shiva, with whom she had become enthralled.
   Further reading: Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buite-nen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978); E. Washburn Hopkins, Epic Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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