Shiva or Mahadev is generally considered a deity of Sanyasi/yogis. Shiva himself is the greatest yogi and lives in Smashan. But unlike most other Hindu gods, he has a proper family. Parvati is his wife, and he has two sons (Kartikeya and Ganesha) and one daughter (Ashoksundari).

I wonder why a Sanyasi god has a family while most other gods don't.? Even if they have family they a not generally portrayed as one!

Edit: @AnkitSharma has given a nice answer but I already know what he is saying. I know that many gods have family (note that many of them have children only, they never lived as a whole family). But Shiva family live with each other like any other normal family. And it had got so much popularity, in any Hindu family at least one of Shiva's family member is worshiped.

I want to know are there any historical reason such that Aryan-Native mix-up or any philosophical or mythological reasons behind it. Why Shiva a Sanyasi (asectic) god (Many Shiva followers are also Sanyasis & do not believe in family life) is associated with a concept such as marriage & family?

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    Brahma has family, Pawan, surya,indra have also son. So the facts are wrong. Jun 24 '14 at 10:41
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    and even I think Narada muni is son/grand son of Brahma. any way nice question.. The fact is God Shiva family is in highlight in many stories.
    – Mr_Green
    Jun 24 '14 at 10:46
  • Many gods have sons/daughter but none of them porteyed as a family as Shiva is porteyed. Jun 24 '14 at 10:50
  • Ancient Hindus seem to have created families to Gods when different traditions clashed. Instead of fighting they became family. For example, Karthikeya was probably a non-vedic deity who was accepted into the vedic family without disturbing his existing status among the worshipers. I.e they continued to worship him as they did before but he was accommodated by making him the son of Shiva.
    – Bharat
    Jun 24 '14 at 20:04
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    @rohanAM, Aryan Dravidian divide is a myth. Jul 4 '14 at 9:00

Not only Shiva - other gods also have families.

Surya has a son Shani from his wife Chhaya. It's a different fact that Surya didn't accept his son and blamed Chhaya for cheating him. And from another wife Sanjana, he has twins Yama and Yami (Yamuna).

Surya, Indra, and Yamraj also have demigod sons because of Kunti's boon.

For the case of Brahma, all asuras, nagas, and manavas are sons and great grandsons of his. Refer here.

Even Lord Hanuman has a wife and son Makardhwaja, and he is still considered to be a Baal Brahmachari.

So it's not only Shiva, but other gods also have families. It's the fact that Shiva's family is bit more popular than others. Also, their sons were not born by traditional means - Ganesha was made by Parvati and Kartikeya was born by an unintended accident.

  • Looking at the upvotes, I wonder how does this answer the question Jul 1 '14 at 10:39
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    @KharoBangdo to me there is not direct answer. So my answer is that not only shiva but other god's family also got worshipped together. In my hometown people also place photo of yama and yami with surya in home temples too. Jul 1 '14 at 10:49
  • I definitely got lots of new information from your answer hence did not downvote it. But could not upvote it also. Jul 1 '14 at 10:56
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    @KharoBangdo, he was refuting the premise of the question. It's a valid logical reasoning. Jul 4 '14 at 8:59
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    @pramodc84 What do you mean by your comment? Dec 18 '19 at 3:06

Shiva is portrayed and worshiped in many forms, he one of those rare naked ascetic who has even conquered over Kama, he's worshiped as a passionate lover and is worshiped along with his consort Shakti as the union, in a pacific mood with his consort Parvati and son Skanda, as the cosmic dancer (Nataraja), as a mendicant beggar, as a yogi, and as the androgynous union of Siva and his consort in one body, half-male and half-female (Ardhanarisvara).

Among his common epithets are Sambhu ("Benignant"), Sankara ("Beneficent"), Pasupati ("Lord of Beasts"), Mahesa ("Great Lord"), Mahadeva ("Great God"), Rudra ("Crying"), Asutosa ("Easily pacified"), Bhutanatha ("Lord of Ghosts"), Tripurari ("Victor over the three demoniac cities") etc. These things may seem orthogonal, but they are not.

Shiva is someone who has mastered his sexual powers through Kundalini Yoga. Quoting this Shakti, Kundalini, and the River of Tantra Yoga

There is one energy that keeps taking on new shapes and forms. In Tantra the name of that energy is Shakti, which is the manifesting, or feminine force that is actually one and the same with its only apparent companion Shiva, the latent, or masculine. Each time the energy takes on a new form, we give it a new name. Shakti becomes Kundalini Shakti, or simply Kundalini. Kundalini becomes the energy of Prana, which flows in patterns or channels called Nadis, and concentrates itself by forming intersections known as Chakras.

Shiva is considered as ideal husband and unmarried woman are asked to worship Shiva to get a suitable better half. Quoting Why is Lord Shiva considered the ideal husband?

He is also the god who is in absolute control of his emotions. He has to be, after all he has two such willful and headstrong wives! Lord Shiva does not let the determination of his wives annoy or frustrate him.

He readily listens to what they have to say agreeing or disagreeing with their opinions in a gentle manner. He treats Parvati as equals and not as subservient being. He sees them as his companion, individual with whom he can discuss anything and everything - whether it may be intellectual conversations, gathering or giving of advice or even just a light-hearted banter to make him smile.

To him her opinion has high value and he enjoys banter and conversations with her. It is these amazing traits of the God alongside his legendary virility that there are many young women in India who wish that they would have an ideal husband like Shiva.

The Ardhanarishwar image of Shiva with Shakti is portrays him as someone who has understood the true meaning of a matrimony.

The Ardhnarishwar avatar of Shiva and his acknowledgement of the different but equal status of the male and female energy, represented by the Shiv-Shakti dichotomy continues to show all and sundry the extent to which Shiva loved and treasured his female half. The process of generating and sustaining life is incomplete without the active participation of both forces. It is a reality Shiva encompasses even though he is all powerful and invincible.


  1. Siva and Durga

  2. Shiva God of Destruction


As your question is asking 'Why Shiva being an ascetic also lives a family life ?"

One has to understand 'Shiva Tatwa' to understand this. It is because everything exists in Shiva and hence he manifests himself in two opposite forms which contradict each other:

Let's see some example of Shiva Tatwam:

1) Fierceness and Auspiciousness

Begin from name. One name is 'Rudra' which means 'fierce', 'terror'. Another name is 'Shiva' which means 'auspicious', 'bliss'. Now how can auspicious and terror exist together ?

2) Destruction and affection

He is Destroyer. But he is also 'Pasupati' or Lord of creatures and Sankara (Giver of Pleasure). Now how can a destroyer become their Lord? How can a destroyer give pleasure?

3) Attachment and Detachment

He is detached from everything. He is the ideal for Sanyasi. But he cries when Sati self-immolated. How can a detached person cry and become like mad ?

4) Moha and Manmatha

He himself is the destroyer of 'Kama" but he falls in love with Mohini? How can a destroyer of Kama be attracted towards Mohini ?

5) Satwik and Tamasik

He smears himself with ash of cemetry, lives with Ghosts and Pisachas which are tamasic and considered impure. But the most purest Ganga is flowing from his head. They are existing together.

6) Family

Family of Shiva is also very mysterious. For eg. Vahana (Riding Vehicle) of Ganesh is mouse. Vahana of Shiva is Ox. Vahana of Kumara is Peacock. Vahana of Parvati/Durga is considered Cat/ Tiger. Now lets see. Cat eats mouse. Tiger eats Ox. Peacock eats snake and rat. But they live mutually in family of Shiva. This is the symbolic representation of Shiva Tatwa.

In the similar way just as fierceness and auspiciousness, love and detachment, tamasic and satwik, destruction and lordship exists simultaneously in Shiva. So, asceticism and family life also exist simultaneously. This is the beauty of Shiva Tatwa.

Sri Rudram of Yajurveda states:

रथेभ्यो रथपतिभ्यो नमो नमः नमः सुतायहन्ताय, रथकारेम्यो नमो नमः

It means:

Salutation to him who is chariot, who is rider of chariot, who is charioteer and who is maker of Chariot.

So he himself makes chariot. He himself is the chariot. He himself rides chariot. He himself drives chariot. So, everything is him everything is his Leela.


I read on the website OmOccult that alone Shiva is on a par with Shava (dead body); hence, he must be worshipped with his wife Parvati (his power) and the entire family. The entire story of the family man Shiva is duly mentioned in the Holy Scripture Shiva Purana; however, a crux of that is shared here - after assigning the task of creation to Brahma and maintenance to Vishnu, the third incarnation - Lord Shiva/Rudra decided to remain ascetic and indulged in meditation forever. Other gods, including Brahma and Vishnu, were worried that their created world – humans – will follow the same path of asceticism as Lord of the world - Shiva follows and if everybody will become an ascetic, their created world will not increase thus. Therefore, they decided to put the celibate Shiva into a married/family person. Now the Lord of Lords could not woo an ordinary lady for marriage; hence, the supreme power – goddess Durga incarnated as Parvati and wooed Shiva. After marrying goddess Parvati, Shiva begot three children, namely Kartikeya (the eldest son), Ashoksundari (the middle daughter), and Ganesha (the youngest son). Now the celibate ascetic was having a full-fledged family towards which his love was increasing day-by-day. Along with Shiva, the glory of his family in which gods were born was increasing day by day. After his marriage, Gods achieved their purpose and established the trend of marriage and forwarding the lineage. Lord Shiva does not consider himself separated from each member of his family, including bull Nandi; hence, he is worshipped along with his family than alone.

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    Welcome To Hinduism SE! Provide valid source for your answer. Answer on this site should be backed by citing from authentic Hindu scripture etc. OmOccult is not a valid source Jan 18 '20 at 15:58

Shiva is known as the third element in the Hindu Trinity, the other two members being Lord Brahma - the creator and Lord Vishnu - the protector. Shiva is the destructive form of the Almighty. As the cycle of destruction and recreation is always in a circle, Shiva’s primary responsibility is maintaining the life cycle. His symbol of Lingam or the phallus represents this reproductive power. Shiva’s body smeared with cemetery ash points to the philosophy of the life and death and the fact that death is the ultimate reality of the life.

Shiva's family does great balancing act of two extremes. Shiva represent nothingness, however Parvati represents desire to accumulate earthly assets.

Shiva's family members ornaments/vehicles are rivalries in the food chain. Snake and Peacock, Snake and Rat, Bull and Tiger, Rat and Peacock.


firstly, shiva is not an ascetic - SANYASI, ascetic is the adjective used for only a certain cadre of godly people , english is such a language in which we can't describe certain aspects of hinduism / sanatana dharma, we need sanskrit terminology which most people don't understand. Shiva is only an inspiration to ascetics for HIS simplicity and other yogic qualities derived from HIM. if shiva had been an ascetic this world would not have been created( puranically but not philosophically). the sanyasa way of life is attributed to the beings of creation but not to the creator, be it bramha, vishnu,mahesh. i can explain this in more depth but i need sanskrit words to quote which can't be true-translated to english.

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