We all know that Lord Shiva had three sons: Kartikeya, Ganesha and Ayyappa, but very few know that he fathered three daughters too. Their names are Ashok Sundari, Jyoti and Manasa (also called Vasuki). Although, they are not as famous as their brothers, Shiva’s three daughters are worshipped in different parts of India even today.
Many religious scriptures, stories, including the most authentic ‘Shiva Purana’ has mentioned about them. For reference, readers can look up Rudra Samhita: Section II – Sati Khanda of Shiva Purana.
Her birth is recorded in detail in the religious scripture, ‘Padma Purana’. The story of Ashok Sundari comes from the ‘Vrat-Kathas’ of Gujarat and neighboring areas. Accordingly, she was created by Goddess Parvati, who wished to reduce her loneliness. She was called Ashok as she let Parvati get rid of her ‘shok’ or sorrow and Sundari because she was beautiful.
A tale goes that she hid behind a sack of salt in fear when Ganesha was beheaded by Lord Shiva. She is associated with salt, an ingredient without which life is unsavory. She is mainly worshipped in Gujarat.
Goddess Jyoti is also known as the Hindu goddess of light. She has two different stories of her birth. In the first, she emerges from Lord Shiva’s halo and is a physical manifestation of his grace. In the second, she is born from a spark from Goddess Parvati’s forehead.
She is worshipped in many temples in Tamil Nadu. In some parts of India, she is worshipped as goddess Rayaki, who is associated with the Vedic Raka. In North India, she is known as the goddess Jwalaimukhi.
In Bengali folk tales, Manasa, is sister of Vasuki, the king of snakes. She was born when Shiva’s semen touched a statue carved by Kadru, the mother of snakes. Thus, she was Shiva’s daughter, but not Parvati’s child.
Her myths emphasize her bad temper and unhappiness due to rejection by her father, husband, and step-mother, Parvati.
She is generally worshipped without an image in the form of a branch of a tree, an earthen pot or snake. The cult of Manasa is most widespread in Bengal. The goddess is widely worshipped in the rainy season, when the snakes are most active. She is believed to cure snake bites, and infectious diseases like chickenpox.