6 Schools | 8. Shaktism


The Śaktī Yoga Philosophy


In this system of Śaktī Yoga philosophy, Śiva is omnipresent, impersonal and inactive. He is pure consciousness. Śaktī is dynamic. Śiva and Śaktī are related as Prakāśa and Vimarśa.

Śaktī or Vimarśa is the power that is latent in the pure consciousness. Vimarśa gives rise to the world of distinctions.

Śiva is Chit. Śaktī is Chidrupini. Brahma, Vishnu and Śiva do their functions of creation, preservation and destruction in obedience to Śaktī.

Śaktī is endowed with Ichchā (will), Jñāna (knowledge) and Kriya (action). Śiva and Śaktī are one. Śaktī-Tattva and Śiva-Tattva are inseparable. Śiva is always with Śaktī.

Śiva-Tattva and Śaktī-Tattva

The creative aspect of the supreme Śiva is called Śiva-Tattva. Śaktī-Tattva is the will of Śiva. It is the seed and womb of the entire world.

Śiva has two aspects.

In one aspect, He is the supreme, changeless One who is Satchidānanda. This is Para Samvit. Niṣkala Śiva is Nirguṇa Śiva. He is not connected with the creative Śaktī.

In the other aspect, He changes as the world. The cause of the change is Śiva-Tattva. Śaktī-Tattva is the first dynamic aspect of Brahman. This Śiva-Tattva and Śaktī-Tattva are inseparable.

Śaktī – The Ruler of Māyā

Māyā or Prakriti is within the womb of Śaktī.

Māyā is the matrix of the world. Māyā is potential in the state of dissolution.

She is dynamic in creation. Māyā evolves into several material elements and other physical parts of all sentient creatures, under the direction of Śaktī.

There are 36 Tattvas or principles in the Śaktī philosophy.

Śaktī- the Active Aspect of the Immanent God

The power or active aspect of the immanent God is Śaktī.
Śiva or Brahman is the unchanging consciousness.
Śaktī is His changing Power that appears as mind and matter.

Śaktī is the embodiment of power. She runs this world-show. She maintains the sportive play or Lila of the Lord. She is the supporter of the vast universe.

She is the supreme Power by which the world is upheld:

She is the Universal Mother. She is Durga, Lakshmi, Sarasvatī, Kali, Chaṇḍī, Chāmuṇḍā, Tripurasundarī and Rājarājeśvarī. She is Lalitā, Kundalini and Parvati.

There is no difference between God and His Śaktī, just as there is no difference between fire and its burning power.

Devi is Śaktī of Lord Śiva. She is Jada Śaktī and Chit Śaktī. Prakriti is Jada (insentient) Śaktī. Suddha Māyā is Chit Śaktī.

[Note: Chit = The principle of universal intelligence or consciousness.]

Nada, Bindu and the rest are only names for different aspects of Śaktī. Śaktī is Prakriti, Māyā, MahaMāyā and Śrī Vidyā. Śaktī is Brahman Itself.

Śaktī manifested Herself to Lord Śiva in the 10 forms as the Daśa-Maha-Vidyās, viz.:

Kālī, Bagalāmukhī, Chhiṇṇamastā, Bhuvaneśvarī, Mātaṅgī, Ṣoḍaśī, Dhūmāvatī, Tripura-Sundarī, Tara and Bhairavī.

Śaktī is Chidrupini. She is pure, blissful, Consciousness.
She is the Mother of Nature. She is Nature Itself.
She is Jagat-Janani, Creatrix of the world;
Mahiṣāsuramardinī, destroyer of Mahishasura (the demon);
Bhrantinasini, destroyer of illusion or Avidya; and
Daridryanasini, destroyer of poverty.

The world is a manifestation of Śaktī. The countless universes are only the dust of Divine Mother’s holy feet:

Her glory is ineffable. Her splendour is indescribable. Her greatness is unfathomable. She showers Her grace on Her sincere devotees. She leads the individual soul from Chakra to Chakra, from plane to plane, and unites him with Lord Śiva in the Sahasrāra.

Manifestations of the Divine Mother

The Supreme Lord is represented as Śiva and His power is represented as His consort-Śaktī, also called Durgā or Kālī. Just as the husband and wife look after the well-being of the family, so also Lord Śiva and His Śaktī are engaged in looking after the affairs of this world.

Divine Mother is everywhere triple. She is endowed with the three Guṇas, viz., Sattva, Rājas and Tamas. She manifests Herself as Will (Ichchā Śaktī), Action (Kriya Śaktī) and Knowledge (Jñāna Śaktī).

She is Brahma-Śaktī (Sarasvatī) in conjunction with Brahma,
Vishnu-Śaktī (Lakshmi) in conjunction with Vishnu and
Śiva-Śaktī (Gauri or Uma) in conjunction with Śiva.
Hence She is called Tripurasunda.

Rādhā, Durgā, Lakshmi, Sarasvatī and Sāvitrī are the five primary forms of Prakriti or Devi.

Durgā destroyed Madhu and Kaitabha through Vishnu.
As Mahālakṣmī, She destroyed the Asura Mahiṣa; and
as Sarasvatī, She destroyed Śumbha and Niśumbha with their companions Dhumralochana, Chaṇḍā, Muṇḍa and Raktabīja.

The Abode of the Divine Mother

The abode of Tripurasundarī, the Divine Mother, is called Śrī-Nāgara:

This magnificent abode known as Mani-Dvīpa, is surrounded by 25 ramparts which represent the 25 Tattvas. The resplendent Chintāmaṇi Palace is in the middle.

The Divine Mother sits in the Bindu- Pīṭha in Sri-Chakra in that wonderful palace. There is a similar abode for Her in the body of man also.

The body is Śaktī. The needs of the body are the needs of Śaktī. When man enjoys, it is Śaktī who enjoys through him.

She sees through his eyes, works through his hands and hears through his ears. Body, mind, Prāṇa, egoism, intellect, organs, and all functions are Her manifestations.

The whole world is Her body. Mountains are Her bones. Rivers are Her veins. Ocean is Her bladder. Sun and moon are Her eyes. Wind is Her breath. Agni (fire) is her mouth.

The Indescribable Glory of Devi

The Story of the Yakṣa

In the Kena Upanishad, it is said that the gods became puffed up with a victory over the Asuras. They wrongly took the success to be the result of their own valour and powers.

The Lord wanted to teach them a lesson. He appeared before them in the form of a Yakṣa- a huge form, the beginning and end of which were not visible.

The Devas wanted to find out the identity of this form and sent Agni for this purpose:

The Yakṣa asked Agni (fire): “What is thy name and power?”
Agni replied: “I am Agni, Jātavedas. I can burn up the whole universe in a minute.”

The Yakṣa placed before Agni a dry blade of grass and asked him to burn it. Agni was not able to burn it. He ran away from the Yakṣa in shame.

The gods then sent Vāyu to enquire who he was. Vāyu approached the Yakṣa:

The Yakṣa asked Vāyu: “Who are you? What is your power?”
 Vāyu replied; “I am the wind-god. I can blow away the whole world in a minute.”

The Yakṣa then placed a blade of grass before Vāyu and challenged him to blow it away. Vāyu could not make it move an inch from its place. He, too, left the place in shame.

Last of all came Indra (king or ruler of heaven) himself: When Indra reached the place, he found that the Yakṣa had vanished.

Then Uma appeared before Indra and revealed to him the real identity of the Yakṣa. She said to Indra:

“It is the power of the Divine Mother- and not that of the gods- that crowned the gods with victory. It is the Śaktī of Uma or Haimavatī, sister of Krishna that is the source of the strength of all the gods”.

Śaktī is the great Teacher of Jñāna. She sheds wisdom on Her devotees.

The Devi behind the Gods

When Vishnu and Mahādeva destroyed various Asuras, the power of Devi was behind them.

Devi took Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra and gave them the necessary Śaktī to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction.

She is at the centre of the life of the universe.
She is in the Mūlādhāra Chakra in our bodies.
She vitalises the body through the Sushumna.
She vitalises the universe from the summit of Mount Meru.

The Mother That Protects

Śaktī may be termed as that by which we live and have our being in this universe:

In this world, all the wants of the child are provided by the mother. The child’s growth, development and sustenance are looked after by the mother.

Even so, all the necessities of life, life’s activities in this world and the energy needed for it, depend upon Śaktī or the Universal Mother.

The first syllable is the name of the beloved mother. Is there any child who does not owe its all to the affection and love of its mother?

It is the mother who protects you, consoles you, cheers you and nurses you.
She is your friend, philosopher, preceptor and guide throughout your life.
The human mother is a manifestation of the Universal Mother.

The Scriptures of the Śakta School

The Devi-Sūkta of the Rig-Veda, Śrī-Sūkta, Durgā-Sūkta, Bhu-Sūkta and Nila-Sūkta,

and the specific Śakta Upanishads such as the Tripurā Sundarī Upanishad, Sītā Upanishad, Devi Upanishad, Saubhāgya Upanishad, Sarasvatī Upanishad, Bhāvan Upanishad, Bahvricha Upanishad, etc.

- all emphatically declare the Mother aspect of God.

Śaktism- A Universal Cult

He who worships Śaktī, that is, God in Mother form, as the Supreme Power that creates, sustains and withdraws the universe, is a Śakta.

Worship of Śaktī, or Śaktism, is one of the oldest and most widespread religions in the world.

Everybody in this world wants power and loves to possess power. He is elated by power. He wants to domineer over others through power. War is the outcome of greed for power. Scientists are followers of Śaktism.

He who wishes to develop will-power and a charming personality is a follower of Śaktism.

Scientists say now that everything is energy only, and that energy is the physical ultimate of all forms of matter:

The followers of the Śakta school of philosophy have said the same thing long ago. They further say that this energy is only a limited manifestation of the infinite Supreme Power or Maha Śaktī.

Vedanta and Śaktism

The basis of Śaktism is the Veda:

Śaktism upholds that the only source and authority (Pramāṇa) regarding transcendental or super-sensual matters such as the nature of Brahman, etc., is the Veda.

Śaktī Vāda or Śakta Darśana is a form of monism or Advaita Vāda. Śaktism is only Vedanta. The Śaktas have the same spiritual experiences as those of a Vedāṅtin.

Śaktism speaks of the personal and impersonal aspects of Godhead. Brahman is Niṣkala or without Prakriti, and Sakala or with Prakriti.

The Vedāṅtins speak of pure Nirguṇa Brahman without Māyā, and Saguṇa Brahman (with Upādhi or Māyā) or Saguṇā Brahman:

It is all the same. Names only are different. It is a play of words or Śabda Jala. People fight on words only and carry on lingual warfare, hair-splitting, logical chopping and intellectual gymnastics. In reality, the essence is one.

Clay only is truth; all modifications such as pot, etc., are in name only.

In Nirguṇa (without attributes) Brahman, Śaktī is potential; whereas, in Saguṇā (with attributes) Brahman, Śaktī is dynamic.

Śaktī-Yoga Sādhana

Śaktism is not mere theory or philosophy:

It prescribes systematic Sādhana (austerity) of Yoga, regular discipline according to the temperament, capacity and degree of evolution of the Sādhaka.

Sādhana means unfolding, rousing up or awakening of the power of Śaktī. Śaktism helps the aspirant to arouse the Kundalini and unite Her with Lord Śiva and to enjoy the supreme bliss or Nirvikalpa Samādhi.

A Śakta does Sādhana that helps the union of Śiva and Śaktī through the awakening of the forces within the body. He becomes a Siddha in the Sādhana when he is able to awaken Kundalini and pierce the six Chakras.

The mode of Sādhana depends upon the tendencies and capacities of the Sādhaka.

Bhava or Attitude

The aspirant thinks that the world is identical with the Divine Mother:

He moves about thinking his own form to be the form of the Divine Mother and thus beholds oneness everywhere. He also feels that the Divine Mother is identical with Brahman.

The advanced Sādhaka feels: “I am the Devi and the Devi is in me”. He worships himself as Devi instead of adoring any external object. He says: “Saham” (I am She (Devi).

The Awakening of Kundalini

The Śaktī must be awakened by Dhyāna, Bhava, Japa and Mantra Śaktī.

The Mother, the embodiment of the 50 letters, is present in the various letters in the different Chakras.

When the chords of a musical instrument are struck harmoniously, fine music is produced:

Even so, when the chords of the letters are struck in their order, the Mother who moves in the six Chakras and who is the very Self of the letters, awakens Herself.

The Sādhaka attains Siddhi easily when She is roused. It is difficult to say when and how She shows Herself, and to what Sādhaka.

When Kundalini sleeps, man is awake to the world. He has objective consciousness.

When She awakes, he sleeps. He loses all consciousness of the world and becomes one with the Lord. In Samādhi, the body is maintained by the nectar that flows from the union of Śiva and Śaktī in the Sahasrāra.

Paśu Bhava and Divya Bhava

Physical contact with a female is gross Mithuna. This is due to Paśu-Bhava or animal attraction or brutal instinct.

Mother Kundalini Śaktī unites with Lord Śiva in the Sahasrāra during Nirvikalpa Samādhi. This is a real Mithuna or blissful union. This is due to Divya-Bhava or divine disposition.

You must rise from Paśu-Bhava to Divya-Bhava through Satsang, service of Guru, renunciation, dispassion, discrimination, Japa and meditation.

Indispensability of Guru’s Guidance and Mother’s Grace

Śaktī Yoga Sādhana is to be practised in a perfect, practical way under the guidance of a Guru who has become perfect. Guru is indispensable for the practice of Śaktī Yoga Sādhana. He initiates the aspirant and transmits the divine Śaktī.

No one can free himself from the thraldom of mind and matter without Mother’s grace. The fetters of Māyā are too hard to break.

If you worship Her as the great Mother, you can very easily go beyond Prakriti through Her benign grace and blessings. She will remove all obstacles in the path, lead you safely into the illimitable domain of eternal bliss, and make you absolutely free.

When She is pleased and bestows Her blessings on you, then alone you can free yourself from the bondage of this formidable Samsāra.

Knowledge of Śaktī Leads to Salvation

Knowledge of Śaktī leads to Salvation:

“Śaktī-Jñāna Vina Devī Nirvanam Naiva Jayate” – O Devī! Without knowledge of Śaktī, Mukti cannot be attained, says Śiva to Devi.

The Jīva or the individual soul thinks, when he is under the influence of Māyā, that he is the doer and the enjoyer and identifies himself with the body.

Through the grace of Śaktī and through Sādhana or self-culture, the individual soul frees himself from all fetters and attains spiritual insight and merges himself in the Supreme.

Worship of the Divine Mother, intense faith and perfect devotion and self-surrender, will help you to attain Her grace. Through Her grace alone you can attain knowledge of the Imperishable.

Glory to Śrī Tripura Sundarī, the Mother of the world, who is also Rājarājeśvara and Lalitā-Devi! May Her blessings be upon you all! May you all obtain the grace of Śaktī, the Universal Mother and enjoy the supreme bliss of final emancipation!