Lord Shiva’s consort, Parvati, daughter of Mount Himalaya and Maina was Daksha’s daughter in her previous Avatar (birth). In that birth too she was Shiva’s wife. During that life, once both of them, Shiva and Parvati, went to Agatsya Muni’s Ashram (abode) to listen to the Muni’s sermon. In the course of the sermon, Agatsya Muni talked about Ram and his virtues and compared him to Brahma. When they were returning from the sermon to their home on Kailash peak by air route (aakash marg), they saw Ram in totally disheveled condition roaming about in jungle calling after Sita. Sri Ram looked lost and forlorn, not anywhere near what Agatsya Muni had described him to be.
It so happened that it was the time when Ravana had abducted Sita. Ram still did not know about Sita’s whereabouts and both Ram and Laxman were trying to find her. Ram, sad and weeping, was asking every living and non-living beings if they knew something about Sita. He was asking trees, flowers, animals, leaves, stones or whatever came in his way, if they had seen Sita. Nobody had, so none could help him.
Upon seeing him from high above, Lord Shiva bowed his head and paid his obeisance to Ram. Shiva felt sorry for him but knew it was Ram’s Lila, that is, Ram was playing his part he was supposed to play, that of a lost and torn husband. But Parvati thought otherwise and was not impressed. She thought Ram being Ram, God’s own form, weeping and mourning like an ordinary mortal on earth, didn’t suit him. People were exaggerating in paying their obeisance to Ram. He didn’t look that great right then. She didn’t feel it necessary to follow Siva and bow to Ram.
So thinking, she decided to test Ram’s character. She took form of Sita. Shiva was not happy and warned Parvati against this foolish action. But Parvati did not listen. She went down to earth and confronted Ram on earth in the guise of Sita against Shiva’s wishes. Shiva didn’t stop her. (Equal rights for women even then?).
Ram instantly recognized her and asked: “Mother, who are you, what are you doing all alone in this terrible jungle? Do you know anything about Sita and why did you have to take Sita’s form? What can I do for you?” And he touched Parvati’s feet. A sure sign that he was not fooled.
Parvati realized her mistake but the deed was done. She was repentant. Shiva did not forgive her. He did not accept her upon her return from the earth and abandoned her. Parvati, on her part submitted herself to fire in her father Daksha’s Yagna only after making sure that she would join Shiva in her next Avatar.