Shakti
Overview
 
Shakti also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: शक्ति) from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine
Femininity
Femininity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Though socially constructed, femininity is made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors...

 creative power, sometimes referred to as 'The Great Divine Mother' in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

.
Encyclopedia
Shakti also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: शक्ति) from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine
Femininity
Femininity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Though socially constructed, femininity is made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors...

 creative power, sometimes referred to as 'The Great Divine Mother' in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. On the earthly plane, Shakti most actively manifests through female embodiment and creativity/fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form.
Not only is the Shakti responsible for creation, it is also the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation, its most significant form being the Kundalini
Kundalini
Kundalini literally means coiled. In yoga, a "corporeal energy" - an unconscious, instinctive or libidinal force or Shakti, lies coiled at the base of the spine. It is envisioned either as a goddess or else as a sleeping serpent, hence a number of English renderings of the term such as 'serpent...

 Shakti, a mysterious psychospiritual force. Shakti exists in a state of svātantrya
Svatantrya
Svātantrya is the Kashmiri Shaivite concept of divine sovereignty...

, dependence on no-one, being interdependent with the entire universe.

In Shaktism
Shaktism
Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that focuses worship upon Shakti or Devi – the Hindu Divine Mother – as the absolute, ultimate Godhead...

, Shakti is worshiped as the Supreme Being
Supreme Being
The term Supreme Being is often defined simply as "God", and it is used with this meaning by theologians of many religious faiths, including, but not limited to, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Deism. However, the term can also refer to more complex or philosophical interpretations of the...

. However, in other Hindu traditions of Shaivism
Shaivism
Shaivism is one of the four major sects of Hinduism, the others being Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. Followers of Shaivism, called "Shaivas," and also "Saivas" or "Saivites," revere Shiva as the Supreme Being. Shaivas believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer,...

 and Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

, Shakti embodies the active feminine energy Prakriti of Purusha
Purusha
In some lineages of Hinduism, Purusha is the "Self" which pervades the universe. The Vedic divinities are interpretations of the many facets of Purusha...

, who is Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 in Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

 or Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

 in Shaivism
Shaivism
Shaivism is one of the four major sects of Hinduism, the others being Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. Followers of Shaivism, called "Shaivas," and also "Saivas" or "Saivites," revere Shiva as the Supreme Being. Shaivas believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer,...

. Vishnu's female counterpart is called Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

, with Parvati
Parvati
Parvati is a Hindu goddess. Parvati is Shakti, the wife of Shiva and the gentle aspect of Mahadevi, the Great Goddess...

 being the female half of Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

.

Evolution

Female teacher Swami Mayatitananda notes that at the beginning of Creation, as it is written in the Shakta Advaita, the Divine Mother took form and set in motion the wheel of manifestation. She bestowed her healing spirit into the womb and regenerative energy of every female of every species of the earth. According to the Vedas (as written or sung by the rishika), a woman's femininity cannot exist apart from her Shakti, and Shakti is a metaphor for womanhood.

David Kinsley believes that the concept of "Shakti" may be derived from Lord Indra's consort Sachi (Indrani), meaning power. Indrani is part of a group of seven or eight mother goddesses called the Matrikas
Matrikas
Matrikas , also called Matara and Matris , are a group of Hindu goddesses who are always depicted together. Since they are usually depicted as a heptad, they are called Saptamatrikas : Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kaumari, Varahi and Chamunda or Narasimhi...

 (Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kumari, Varahi and Chamunda and/or Narasimhi), who are considered shaktis of major Hindu gods(Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Skanda, Varaha/Yama and Devi and Narasimha respectively).
The Shakti goddess is also known as Amma (meaning 'mother') in south India, especially in the states of Karnataka,Tamil Nadu,Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. There are many temples devoted to various incarnations of the Shakti goddess in most of the villages in South India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

. The rural people believe that Shakti is the protector of the village, the punisher of evil people, the curer of diseases, and the one who gives welfare to the village. They celebrate Shakti Jataras with a lot of hue and great interest once a year. Some examples of incarnations are Gangamma, Aarti, Kamakshamma, Kanakadurga, Mahalakshmammma, Meeenakshamma, Poleramma and Perantalamma.

Shakti/Parvati/Sati Peethas

There are 4 Adi Shakti Pith and 51
51
Year 51 was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Caesar and Scipio...

 important centres of Shakti worship
Worship
Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something, for example, Christian worship.Evelyn Underhill defines worship thus: "The absolute...

 located in the Indian sub-continent, which are located in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. These are called Shakti Peethas
Shakti Peethas
The Shakti Pithas are places of worship consecrated to the goddess Shakti or Parvati or Sati or Durga, the female principal of Hinduism and the main deity of the Shakta sect...

. Most Shakti peethas have since developed into famous temple complexes, including: Jwalaji (Himachal), Tara Tarini (Berhampur
Berhampur
Brahmapur , nicknamed "The Silk City", is a city located in the eastern coastline of Ganjam district of the Indian state of Orissa, about south to state capital, Bhubaneswar.It is also dubbed as "The Dance City" of Orissa after Prince Dance Group and Harihar Das made the state famous in India's...

, Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

), Katyayani (Chattarpur
Chhatarpur Temple
Shri Adhya Katyani Shakti Peeth Mandir is popularly known as Chhatarpur Temple since it is located in a down town area in south of Delhi - Chattarpur. This is the second largest temple complex in India, and is dedicated to Goddess, Katyayani...

, Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

), Kamakhya
Kamakhya
Kamakhya is an important Tantric mother goddess closely identified with Kali and Maha Tripura Sundari, according to the Tantric texts that are the basis for her worship at the Kamakhya temple, a 16th century temple in the Kamrup district of Assam...

 (Assam), Naina
Naina
Naina is a Hindi horror film released in India in 2005. It stars Urmila Matondkar. It is an uncredited remake of the Hong Kong film The Eye, meaning the original writers received no compensation as opposed to that provided by the American remake The Eye.Its release caused controversy in India...

 Devi
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

 (Himachal), Manasa
Manasa
Manasa is a Hindu folk goddess of snakes, worshipped mainly in Bengal and other parts of northeastern India, chiefly for the prevention and cure of snakebite and also for fertility and prosperity. Manasa is the sister of Vasuki, king of Nāgas and wife of sage Jagatkāru...

 devi (Chandigarh
Chandigarh
Chandigarh is a union territory of India that serves as the capital of two states, Haryana and Punjab. The name Chandigarh translates as "The Fort of Chandi". The name is from an ancient temple called Chandi Mandir, devoted to the Hindu goddess Chandi, in the city...

).

Main pithas in Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 are Tuljapur
Tuljapur
Tuljapur is a city and a municipal council in Osmanabad district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the administrative seat of Tuljapur taluka.The town is home to a famous temple, Tulja Bhavani Temple, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Bhavani...

 (Jagdamba), Kolhapur (Mahalaxmi
Mahalaxmi
Mahalaxmi can refer to:* Mahalaxmi : the Hindu goddess of wealth and patron goddess of the city of Kolhapur, Maharashtra.* Mahalaxmi : a location in the city of Mumbai....

), vani-Nashik (Saptashrungi
SaptaShrungi
Saptashrungi or Saptashringi is a site of pilgrimage situated 60 kilometers from Nashik. According to Hindu tradition, the goddess Saptashrungi Nivasini dwells within the seven mountain peaks. It is located in Vani, a small village near Nashik in India...

) and Mahurgadh (Renukamata).

Adi Parashakti

Adi-Shakti or Adi parashakti is a Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 concept of the Ultimate Shakti, the ultimate feminine power inherent in all Creation. This is especially prevalent in the Shakta denomination within Hinduism, which worships the Goddess Devi
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

 in all Her manifestations.

Bhajans and Mantras

There are many ancient Shakti devotional songs and vibrational chants in the Hindu and Sikh traditions (found in Sarbloh Granth
Sarbloh Granth
The Sarbloh Granth is a poem that recites the story of gods and demons. The Sarbloh Granth was allegedly authored by Guru Gobind Singh at Hemkund Sahib, although archeological and lingistic evidence does not authenticate this fact. Thus, its validity remains questionable and is rejected by some...

). The recitation of the Sanskrit bij mantra MA is commonly used to call upon the Divine Mother, the Shakti, as well as the Moon.

Kundalini-Shakti-Bhakti Mantra
Adi Shakti, Adi Shakti, Adi Shakti, Namo Namo!
Sarab Shakti, Sarab Shakti, Sarab Shakti, Namo Namo!
Prithum Bhagvati, Prithum Bhagvati, Prithum Bhagvati, Namo Namo!
Kundalini Mata Shakti, Mata Shakti, Namo Namo!


Translation:
Primal Shakti, I bow to Thee!
All-Encompassing Shakti, I bow to Thee!
That through which Divine Creates, I bow to Thee!
Creative Power of the Kundalini, Mother of all Mother Power, To Thee I Bow!


"Merge in the Maha Shakti. This is enough to take away your misfortune.
This will carve out of you a woman. Woman needs her own Shakti, not anybody else will do it… When a woman chants the Kundalini Bhakti mantra, God clears the way. This is not a religion, it is a reality. Woman is not born to suffer, and woman needs her own power.”

“When India and Indian women knew this mantra, it dwelt in the land of
milk and honey.”
~ Yogi Bhajan (Harbhajan Singh)

Shaktism

Shaktism
Shaktism
Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that focuses worship upon Shakti or Devi – the Hindu Divine Mother – as the absolute, ultimate Godhead...

 regards Devi (lit., "the Goddess") as the Supreme Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 itself, the "one without a second", with all other forms of divinity, female or male, considered to be merely Her diverse manifestations. In the details of its philosophy and practice, Shaktism resembles Saivism. However, Shaktas (Sanskrit: ), practitioners of Shaktism, focus most or all worship on Shakti, as the dynamic feminine aspect of the Supreme Divine. Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

, the masculine aspect of divinity, is considered solely transcendent
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

, and Shiva's worship is generally relegated to an auxiliary role.


from Devi-Mahatmya -

By you this universe is borne,
By you this world is created,
Oh Devi, by you it is protected



from Shaktisangama Tantra -

Woman is the creator of the universe
the universe is her form;
woman is the foundation of the world,
she is the true form of the body.

In woman is the form of all things,
of all that lives and moves in the world.
There is no jewel rarer than woman,
no condition superior to that of a woman.

Vaishnavism

Like Shiva-associated Shaktism, Shakti embodies the active feminine energy and power of male supreme deity Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 in Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

. Vishnu's female counterpart is called Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

. However, in Srivaishnavism, a school of Vaishnavism, Lakshmi or Sri does not play any particular part in the creative function of the Lord, because Prakriti is the manifest aspect of the Lord. In Srivaishnavism, Vishnu alone is the great creator, although Sri is coeval with Him. As Vishnu is the Father who stands for absolute justice, Sri is the Mother of the universe and is considered to be important element in the redemption of mankind, and is the interceder with Vishnu on behalf of spiritual seekers.

Smarta Advaita

In the Smarta Advaita sect of Hinduism, Shakti is considered to be one of five equal bonafide personal forms of God in the panchadeva system advocated by Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (IAST: pronounced , (Sanskrit: , ) (788 CE - 820 CE), also known as ' and ' was an Indian philosopher from Kalady of present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta...

.

Shakti force: Devi Prakriti

Devi
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

 Prakriti (a Shakti) in the context of Shaktis as forces unifies Kundalini
Kundalini
Kundalini literally means coiled. In yoga, a "corporeal energy" - an unconscious, instinctive or libidinal force or Shakti, lies coiled at the base of the spine. It is envisioned either as a goddess or else as a sleeping serpent, hence a number of English renderings of the term such as 'serpent...

, Kriya
Kriya
Kriya most commonly refers to a "completed action", technique or practice within a yoga discipline meant to achieve a specific result. Types of kriya may vary widely between different schools of yoga. Another meaning of Kriya is the outward physical manifestations of awakened kundalini...

, Itcha
Itcha shakti
Iccha-shakti is a Sanskrit term translating to "will-power". It is used as a technical subdivision of Shakti in Shaktism.Helena Petrona Blavatsky in her The Secret Doctrine also introduces the conceot of "itcha shakti":...

, Para
Para
Para may refer to:*Para Loga, one among the seven Logas in Ayyavazhi mythology*Para-quaternions, expression from algebra in mathematics*Paramedic is a first response ambulance crew member...

, Jnana
Jnana
Jñāna or gñāna is a Sanskrit and Pali word that means knowledge. It has various nuances of meaning depending on the context. The idea of jnana centers around a cognitive event which is recognized when experienced...

, Mantrika
Mantrika shakti
Mantrika Shakti in Hinduism is 'the force or power of letters, speech, or music,' i.e. Word 'Mantrika' refers to mantras but may mean something besides a Shakti. The great sage Patanjali has said that a person who always speaks the truth will possess the power of materializing his words...

 Shaktis. Each is in a chakra
Chakra
Chakra is a concept originating in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" .Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices...

.

Standard representation

The Adi Shakti has a Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 representation of U+262C on the Miscellaneous Symbols
Miscellaneous Symbols
The Miscellaneous Symbols Unicode block contains various glyphs representing things from a variety of categories: Astrological, Astronomical, Chess, Dice, Ideological symbols, Musical notation, Political symbols, Recycling, Religious symbols, Trigrams, Warning signs and Weather.-Tables:Note: These...

 table. This symbol is also known as the Khanda used in Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

.

Further reading

  • Shakti and Shakta, by John Woodroffe
    John Woodroffe
    Sir John George Woodroffe , also known by his pseudonym Arthur Avalon, was a British Orientalist whose work helped to unleash in the West a deep and wide interest in Hindu philosophy and Yogic practices.- Life :...

    , Published by Forgotten Books, 1910. ISBN 160620145X.
  • Hymns to the Goddess, Translated by John George Woodroffe, Ellen Elizabeth (Grimson) Woodroffe, Published by Forgotten Books, 1952 (org 1913). ISBN 1606201468.
  • Hymn to Kali:Karpuradi Stotra, by Sir John Woodroffe. Published by Forgotten Books. 1922. ISBN 1606201476.
  • Datta, Reema and Lowitz, Lisa. Sacred Sanskrit Words, Stonebridge Press, Berkeley, 2005.
  • Feuerstein, Georg. The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, Shambhala Publications, Boston, 2000
  • Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1994
  • Tiwari, Bri. Maya. The Path of Practice: A Woman's Book of Ayurvedic Healing, Motilal Banarsidass Press, 2002
  • Shakti : Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Women’s Empowerment in India/edited by Ranjana Harish and V. Bharathi Harishankar. New Delhi, Rawat, 2003, ISBN 81-7033-793-3.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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