Story of Goddess Annapoorna and Lord Shiva



In Hinduism, Goddess Annapoorna, or Annapurna Devi, is the Goddess of food. She is an incarnation of Goddess Parvati; in essence one of the numerous forms of Shakti. In this incarnation she nourishes all living beings and therefore Hindus consider ‘Annam’ (food) as holy. There is an interesting incident involving Lord Shiva and Goddess Annapoorna, which explains that even Moksha (salvation) is not possible on an empty stomach.

Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati used to play the game of dice. Once the game became so interesting that they started betting – Parvati kept her jewels and Shiva his trident. Shiva lost the game and lost his trident.

To get back his trident, Shiva betted serpent and this time too he lost the game. Finally, when the game ended, Shiva lost all that he had including his begging bowl.

A humiliated Shiva left for the Deodar forest. Lord Vishnu approached Shiva and asked him to play again to win back all that he had lost.

Taking advice from Vishnu, Shiva played again and won all that he had lost in the previous game.

Goddess Parvati grew suspicious about Shiva’s sudden turn of fortunes and called him a cheat. This led to a verbal duel between the couple. Finally, Lord Vishnu intervened and revealed that the dice moved as per His wish and they were under the illusion that they were playing.

Symbolically, life is like a game of dice - unpredictable and beyond control.

Verbal duel soon turned to philosophical discussion and Lord Shiva said that possessions are temporary…everything is Maya (illusion)…even the food we eat is Maya.

Goddess Parvati did not agree that food is illusion. She argued that if food is illusion I am also an illusion. She wanted to know how the world would survive without food and disappeared.

Her disappearance meant Nature came to a stand still. There were no seasonal changes. Everything remained barren. There was regeneration or birth. Soon there was severe drought and shortage of food.

Shiva soon realized that he is incomplete without Shakti.

Gods, humans and demons all kept praying for food. Goddess Parvati could not see her children perishing out hunger and appeared in Kashi (Varanasi) and started distributing food.

Shiva appeared before her with a begging bowl and Goddess Parvati fed Shiva. Shiva said that food cannot be dismissed as mere illusion as it is required to nourish the body in which resides the Atma.

Since then Goddess Parvati is worshipped as the Goddess of food – Annapoorna Devi.