Mysticism in Hinduism is so rich, precise and of such depths that the extremely poetic minds of our later Rishis tried to express it all in the form of stories. Such mystical stories have a significance of their own, revealing the final conclusions arrived at in our Upanishads.
Not fully realising these secret suggestions people read, sung, worshipped our deities and thus maintained the dry skeleton without the soft flesh and its pulsating beauty and its bursting mirth.
The Reality is Peace, Good, Beauty (Satyam Shivam Sundaram). But our life in this world of names and forms is experienced as just the opposite. This paradox is explained as caused by a mysterious inherent power in the Supreme called Maya.
It is a natural trick of the human inner equipment of mind and intellect. When the intellect cannot apprehend a thing rightly, at this non - apprehension, the mind starts projecting delusory images and creates a thousand misapprehensions. The dual effect of this non - apprehension and its consequent mis - apprehensions is termed as this mighty Maya Power (Shakti, Divine Mother).
In all religions, in the earlier days God was conceived as an unrelenting father, a severe disciplinarian, ready to punish His children for all their trespasses. It is an evolution in religious thought that brought the idea of an all loving, all forgiving, Mother God. This is Devi: Consort of Shiva, the Supreme.
The Supreme with Maya is Ishwara, the Creator - Sustainer - Destroyer, Lord of the Universe. Shiva minus Devi is Pure Consciousness and Maya merges with the Supreme Self.