Who or what is Shakti? Is Shakti a goddess or an energy? What are the qualities of Shakti? Discover Shakti: the creative pulse, in this 5-minute read.
Far from being patriarchal or matriarchal, yoga philosophy perceives the masculine and the feminine as interconnected and inseparable: one does not exist without the other. Tantra considers Shiva, the masculine, to be the source of consciousness, but he cannot move without the power of Shakti – the feminine.
I offer salutations to the God and the Goddess: the infinite parents of the world.
The lover, out of boundless love, has become the beloved.
Because of Her, He exists,
And without Him, She would not be.
~ Janeshwar Maharaj
Shakti is the creative energy that arises within consciousness to give birth to endless forms. If Shiva is the creator, she is the creative power. If he is the dancer, she is the movement in dance.
Everything in the world exists and moves by the power of Shakti. There are several stories in the Puranas, ancient Vedic texts, whereby her intervenance is essential for the gods to perform some action in this world.
Living beings are both spiritual and material in nature. They have a spiritual essence made of Satchitananda – truth, cognisance and bliss – which is governed by material energy, or Shakti, in this world.
Shakti brings things into form and she dissolves them. In human beings, Shakti manifests herself through thoughts, emotions and action. She is the energies of awareness, the senses, feeling, desire and action.
It is important to recognise that Shakti has several facets. She may be nurturing like Parvati or feisty like Durga. She is not always gentle, and her enormous power is often mistaken as “masculine energy,” especially in women. If you thought as much, get ready to meet Kali and Durga.
There are several goddess archetypes from different traditions: Hindu, Buddhist, Greek and Egyptian, for example. In Yoga, each goddess is a personal manifestation of a particular kind of energy, or perhaps vice versa: each goddess exudes a particular type of energy into this world.
|Ma Durga is a counterpart of Shiva, or Rudra, the destroyer, who stands alongside Vishu, the sustainer, and Brahma, the creator. She is depicted with eight arms holding various weapons and riding a tiger. Durga is a warrior, protector and mother. She fights for what is good and just, and wreaks havoc (of what does not serve the whole) to allow for creation (of what serves the whole).|
|Ma Kali is also a counterpart of Shiva. She is usually depicted with four arms, her tongue out and wearing a garland of heads and a skirt of arms as she stands on Lord Shiva. Kali is complex in nature: she is the fury of Durga and a mother; the seemingly unmerciful removal of material identification and attachment, which is born of compassion, and which is appeased by conscious awareness.|
|Parvati Ma is the gentler counterpart of Shiva. Parvati is a mother and wife within sacred marriage with Shiva, representing fertility, love and devotion, but who nonetheless could access the powers of Durga and Kali if needed.|
|Lakshmi is the counterpart of Vishnu, or Narayana, the sustainer, and is depicted sitting on a lotus as gold coins pour out of her hands. Lakshmi is beauty, spiritual and material fortune, inner and outer abundance, and wealth.|
|Saraswati is the counterpart of Brahma, the creator. She is depicted riding a swan and playing an instrument. Saraswati is inspiration, talent, learning and knowledge. She is creative intuition and creativity. She is music, language and speech.|
When you are awake, asleep or in meditation; when you are feeling love, joy or desire; when you learn or acquire a skill, it is the play of Shakti acting through you. Every thought, word and action exists because of the power of Shakti.
Shakti is literally in every breath you take – Prana Shakti is the essence that unites all of creation and every aspect of ourselves.