- Father: Pitrs
- Mother: Svadha
- Sisters: Dhanya, Kalavati
- Husband: Himavat
- Sons: Mainaka, 99 other sons
- Daughter: Parvati
Daksha and Prasuti had many daughters, including Svadha. They were all married off to different people. Svadha married the Pitrs, the forefathers. Mena, Dhanya, Kalavati were mind-born daughters of the Pitrs. Mena was the oldest and Kalavati was the youngest. Even though they weren’t born of Mena’s womb, they are still conventionally considered her children.
Cursed by the 4 Kumaras
Once, Mena, Dhanya, and Kalavati went to Svetadwipa, the island of Lord Vishnu in the Ocean of Milk. A large assembly of people has gathered there. The three sisters came up to Vishnu and bowed. After that, the Four Kumaras (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, and Sanatkumara) arrived at Svetadwipa. Everybody in the assembly stood up and bowed to them except for the three sisters. The Four Kumaras became furious, even though they practice Yoga.
“Even though you are the daughters of the Pitrs, you still show such disrespect! Everyone bowed to us except for you. You sisters are foolish, ignorant, and don’t have any wisdom. Thus, I curse you that you will be forced to leave Swarga and will be born on Earth as humans,” Sanatkumara cursed.
On hearing the curse, the sisters fell at the feet of Sanatkumara and asked for forgiveness. “Please, oh great sage, be pleased. We committed a sin. Please take back your curse,” they begged.
Hearing their pleas, Sanatkumara’s anger was suppressed. He said, “The oldest of you will become the wife of Himavat. Parvati will be your daughter. The second daughter Dhanya will be a Yogini and the wife of Janaka. Sita will be your daughter. The youngest daughter Kalavati will become the wife of Vrishbhanu Gopa. Radha will be your daughter. Mena, your daughter Parvati will become the wife of Shiva. Dhanya, your daughter Sita will be the wife of Rama. And Kalavati, your daughter Radha shall be a companion of Krishna.”
After saying this, Sanatkumara and his brothers vanished. The three sisters went back to their abode.
Marriage with Himavat
Himavat, the king of the mountains, wanted to marry. All the gods, including Himavat, went to the abode of the Pitrs. They said, “You should unite your eldest daughter Mena with Himavat, the king of the mountains.” After thinking about the proposal, the Pitrs said yes.
The marriage of Himavat and Mena was celebrated with great festivities. All the devas were invited and gave many gifts to the couple. After the wedding, Himavat and Mena together went to the mountains.
Interaction with Sati
Mena and Himavat were like parental figures to Sati, the wife of Shiva. Whenever Sati sported in the mountains, Mena and Himavat used to take care of her. Mena regarded Sati as her own daughter. When Sati killed herself in Daksha’s yagna, Mena became really sad. Sati thought before dying, “I shall become the daughter of Mena.”
Once the devas prayed to the Goddess Shakti. The Goddess presented herself before them and said, “Oh devas, what is it that you want.”
The devas responded, “In the past, you incarnated on this Earth as Sati, the wife of Shiva. But Sati sacrificed herself in her father’s yagna and now she is no more. Lord Shiva has become very depressed. Please take birth on Earth and become the wife of Shiva.”
The Goddess assured, “I will surely take birth on Earth. Ever since I cast off my body as Sati, Lord Shiva has been very anguished. As Sanatkumara said, I will become the daughter of Mena and Himavat. I will perform a lot of penance and become the wife of Shiva.”
The devas rejoiced and went to the abode of Mena and Himavat. Himavat greeted them lovingly and then asked them why they had come. The devas told them about what had happened and instructed Mena and Himavat to perform penance to please the Goddess.
Mena and Himavat performed penance for 27 years. They would fast and worship clay idols of the Goddess. Finally, after 27 years, the Goddess Shakti was pleased and presented herself in front of Mena. “Mena, whatever it is that you desire, I will grant you,” the Goddess said.
Mena praised the Goddess. She then said, “Oh Goddess, if you desire to grant me a boon, I shall ask for one. First, let me have a hundred brave sons. Also, please incarnate on this Earth as my daughter. Please marry Shiva and satisfy the wishes of the devas.”
The Goddess Shakti granted the boons and then vanished. Mena joyfully went to her abode and told Himavat about the boon. Both of them were overjoyed.
Birth of Children
Soon, a son was born to Mena and Himavat. He was named Mainaka and would grow up to be really powerful and a lord of mountains like his father. After that, Mena became pregnant again. After ten months, at midnight, a daughter was born to Mena. This daughter was the incarnation of the Goddess. Himavat then came there with his chief priest and learned Brahmins. He was very happy to see his daughter. She was named Parvati. All the devas assembled and rejoiced. Himavat’s city flourished with prosperity.
Parvati’s Penance and Marriage
Parvati used to serve Shiva a lot in her childhood during his penance. But after the incident with Kama, Parvati had to leave. Later, Narada came to Himavat’s palace and told Parvati to perform penance to please Shiva and marry him.
Parvati went to ask permission from her father, who reluctantly agreed. But Mena instantly said no. She didn’t want Parvati to leave. Thus Parvati also became known as Uma, which means “not allowed by mother”. But, seeing Parvati’s disappointment, Mena eventually gave in.
Thus, Parvati wore the clothes of an ordinary woman and went to do penance at Gangavatarana. Once, Himavat, Mena, and Parvati’s 100 brothers all came to the Gangavatarana. They had come to try to persuade Parvati to stop her penance. Himavat, Mena, Mainaka, Mandara (another brother of Parvati) and others all tried, but all of them were unsuccessful in convincing her, so they had to leave.
Parvati’s penance continued and after a long time and many incidences, Shiva agreed to marry Parvati. Parvati went home and told her parents about the news. A great celebration was held at Himavat’s city.
Meanwhile, the devas were having a meeting in Swarga. They had realized that if Parvati married Lord Shiva, Himavat’s devotion will cause him to be transported to Shivaloka. This will be detrimental for Earth. To solve this issue, they approached their guru Brihaspati, who advised them to seek Brahma’s help. Lord Brahma said that they must pray to Lord Shiva to solve this issue.
Accordingly, the gods went to Shiva for help. Shiva said, “I shall go to Himavat’s city and rebuke myself. I will then send the Saptarishis to go convince Himavat and Mena of the marriage. Thus, they will accept the marriage, but with a little hesitation. Because of this hesitation, Himavat won’t reach Shivaloka.”
Shiva took the form of a Vaishnava devotee and reached Himavat’s city. He went to Himavat’s court and greatly criticized Shiva. Himavat and Menu were discouraged and cancelled the marriage. But then the Saptarishis arrived and convinced them to accept the marriage. Thus, Himavat accepted the marriage and sent the letter of betrothal to Shiva. A huge marriage procession formed, and it included the devas, Gandharvas, Apsaras, rishis, mountains, and everyone else.
When the marriage procession approached Himavat’s palace, Mena became curious to see Shiva because she had never seen him before. She stood on the terrace and told Narada to show her Shiva. Mena first mistook Vasu, the king of the Vasus, for Shiva. She then mistook Manigriva, the son of Kubera, for Shiva. Mena then mistook Agni, Yama, Nirrti, Vayu, Kubera, Indra, Chandra, Surya, Brihaspati, Brahma and Vishnu for Shiva, but each time Narada said no. Finally, when Shiva arrived, Narada pointed her out. She was horrified at his appearance. He had snakes around his neck and body, and ash smeared on his body. She screamed, “Kill me! I cannot let my daughter marry Shiva.” Her maids tried to calm her down, but she wouldn’t listen and soon fainted.
When Mena awakened, she started cursing everyone, including Shiva. She could not bare to see her daughter marry Shiva. Narada, Brahma, the devas, Himavat, Parvati, the Siddhas, and the 4 Kumaras all tried to calm her down, but she wouldn’t listen. Vishnu then arrived and told her about Shiva’s greatness. Finally, she agreed to the marriage if Shiva would take a more handsome form.
Narada told Shiva to take a more handsome form. Shiva agreed. When Mena saw Shiva in his handsome form, she was awed and said, “O Lord. Forgive me. Please marry my daughter.” The marriage rites then commenced and ended successfully. Happiness crowded the environment.
During the marriage, upon Rati’s begging, Shiva joyously resuscitated Kama. After many days, the wedding was complete and Shiva and Parvati went to Mount Kailash.