In the grand collection of Hindu mythology, there are countless deities and divine beings, each with their unique stories and significance.
Yet, amidst the pantheon of gods and goddesses, there exists a lesser-known character – Ashoksundari, the forgotten daughter of Lord Shiva.
Her story is a fascinating and often overlooked chapter in the epic narratives of ancient India.
Typically, when viewing depictions of Lord Shiva’s family, you’ll often encounter four central figures — Lord Shiva himself, his beloved consort Goddess Parvati, and their two sons, Kartikeya and Ganesh.
However, it’s crucial to note that Lord Shiva’s family extends beyond these four members and is often not known to a majority who people who follow Hindu traditions.
In fact, Lord Shiva has a total of six children. In addition to his two well-known sons, Kartikeya and Ganesh, there are two more sons — Andhakasura, who is often portrayed as a demon, and Lord Ayyapan, also commonly referred to as Hariharan.
Furthermore, Lord Shiva also has two daughters — Devi Mansa and Devi Ashoksundari, the latter also being known as Devi Viraja.
Devi Mansa holds a revered position as the goddess of snakes, presiding over the serpent kingdom. Her worship is widespread and fervent, extending to regions like Himachal Pradesh.
On the other hand, Ashoksundari remains relatively obscure and lacks a significant following. Here, we’ll delve into the enigmatic figure of Ashoksundari, also known as Viraja, and explore the reasons behind her limited worship.
The Birth of Ashoksundari
Ashoksundari’s story begins with her birth, which was far from ordinary. According to sacred texts, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati longed for a child.
Their earnest prayers and devotion led to the birth of Ashoksundari, whose name translates to “She who dispels sorrows” or “The beautiful one who alleviates all worries.”
The Goddess was born from a magical wish-fulfilling tree known as Kalpavriksha. According to the Puranas, when Lord Shiva was busy in meditation, Kartikeya in warfare, and Ganesh in penances — Devi Parvati used to be alone in the Kailash.
Loneliness enveloped her, for her husband and all her children were far from her side. In a search to relieve her solitude, she undertook a journey to the Kalpavriksha, appealing for a daughter to accompany her.
It was from this sacred tree that Goddess Ashoksundari was born, fulfilling her heartfelt yearning.
Ashoksundari is regarded as the goddess of beauty and a reliever of problems. Worshipped in the form of Bala Tripurasundari, She becomes the guarding deity of beauty and gorgeousness.
Her Divine Characteristics
Ashoksundari is typically depicted as a young girl, symbolizing purity and innocence. Her iconography often features a youthful form, adorned with divine attributes, and radiating grace and charm.
She is believed to embody compassion, and her presence is said to bring solace and relief to those who seek her blessings.
Her Role in Mythology
While Ashoksundari may not be as widely worshipped as some other deities, her presence in Hindu mythology is significant.
She is often associated with alleviating the sorrows and anxieties of devotees, providing them with solace and mental peace. Her benevolent nature reflects the Hindu belief in the multifaceted aspects of divinity, with each deity representing various qualities and attributes.
The Mythical Legends
Although her stories are not as well-documented as those of more prominent deities, there are legends that revolve around Ashoksundari.
One such tale describes her as being married to Nahusha, a mortal king who was later transformed into a serpent due to a curse. He is regarded as the king of the Moon dynasty. Ashoksundari’s unwavering love and devotion ultimately played a role in his redemption.
The tale narrates that he was as mighty as King Indra. It is believed that once upon a time, Indra had vanished and there was nobody to rule in Heaven.
In his absence, Nahusha was made the king of heaven. But soon after he became arrogant and began doing evil things. Due to this Sage Agastya gave him a curse that he would become a serpent and roam in the forests.
It is when Dwapara Yuga came, that Yuddhisthira found him in the forests. After that Nahusha was released from his curse.
Why Is Devi Ashoksundari Not Worshipped?
It is not clearly known why she is not worshipped in Hinduism to the extent she being the daughter of Lord Shiva would merit.
One of the most prominent reasons could be her lack of mention in most of the sacred texts of Puranas for Hindus. Puranas have a widespread impact on Hinduism and its current tradition, while Vedas remain the most sacred text.
This lack of stories and legends around her could be the reason that she’s very little worshipped, only in some towns or villages of South India.
Another possible reason could be that she is not very popular in Hindu culture. She didn’t have much influence or association with major events in the sagas of Hinduism.
Even in the scriptures, her story is only mentioned in the Padma Purana.
Rediscovering Ashoksundari Today
In modern times, Ashoksundari’s significance is experiencing a revival as more people delve into the depths of Hindu mythology. Devotees are turning to her for comfort and solace, seeking her blessings for peace of mind and the resolution of life’s challenges.
Ashoksundari, the forgotten daughter of Lord Shiva, may not occupy the central stage in Hindu mythology, but her story is a testament to the diversity and richness of the ancient Indian religious tradition.