In Hinduism, Lord Shiva and Lord Parvati are considered the saviors of the world. While Lord Shiva is one among the Trimurtis who takes care of the universe, Lord Parvati is considered the mother of all living beings.
It is very well known that Lord Shiva and Parvati had two sons, Lord Ganesh and Lord Balasubramanian (Karthikeya). But when we ask if Lord Shiva and Lord Parvati had third child, then most people assume it to be Lord Ayyappa. But the fact is Lord Shiva and Parvati had another child which most people do not know.
Yes, Lord Shiva and Parvati had another child apart from Ganesh and Subramania and she was Ashoka Sundari. Ashoka Sundari was born even before Lord Ganesh and she was the second child of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Ashoka Sundari’s story is described in the Padma Purana where she is also referred to as the Tripurasundari.
Ashoka Sundari was born with the power of Lord Parvati who was craving for a child after Karthikeya goes away from home. Lord Shiva and Parvati’s first child Lord Karthikeya leaves parents and moves out of Mount Kailash in search of his destiny. At the same time, Lord Shiva who was bound to save the universe from Demon Tarakasura’s children also goes away leaving Parvati alone.
Parvati faces loneliness and starts missing her son Karthikeya and wishes to have another child. Her loneliness takes her to a place near the tree Kalpavruksha. She remembers Lord Shiva’s words about Kalpavriksha solving everyone’s problem. Sitting under the tree she wishes to have a daughter who could end all her sorrows. She makes a model of a girl using mud and prays the Kalpavriksha to give life for the girl. Her wish will be granted and the girl will gain life. Parvati who will be excited to see her, names the girl Ashoka Sundari, Ashoka meaning the one who ended the sorrows and Sundari describing her beauty.
When Lord Shiva returns back to Kailash, he will be very happy to see his daughter who will be as beautiful as Parvati herself. He blesses her daughter that her existence will help the Dharma survive in the universe.
Ashoka Sundari was said to be very mild and soft girl. It is said that when Lord Shiva chops off Ganesh’s head, Ashoka Sundari gets terrified at the scene and hides herself behind a sack of salts. Parvati who learns about Ganesha’s fate curses everyone including Ashoka Sundari assuming to have involved in the act. As a result, Ashoka Sundari turns into salt. Only after Lord Shiva restores Lord Ganesh’s head, Parvati gives back life to Ashoka Sundari.
One day while Ashoka Sundari was spending time in Nandanvana with her maids, a demon Hunda sees the beautiful girl and falls in love with her. He tries to lure Ashoka Sundari with his power but fails to even gain her attention. Irked with her response, he disguises himself as a widow and requests Ashoka Sundari to accompany her to the hermitage of her husband. But she gets to know the treachery of the demon and curses him to be killed by a person called Nahusha, who would later become her husband.
Ashoka Sundari grows big and marries Nahusha of the Lunar dynasty, who would be as powerful as Indra. The Hunda demon again tries to abduct Ashoka Sundari and Nahusha finally kills the demon. Nahusha and Ashoka Sundari gets married and it is said that she gives birth to a son called Yayati and hundred beautiful daughters.
Ashoka Sundari or Tripurasundari is said to be one of the Goddess responsible for the spread of Dharma through her acts and conduct. She represents the divine love of mother and daughter and the one who ends the sorrows of parents.