This is the first in a series of articles on Goddesses from various religions and traditions. This article is focusing on the supreme Goddess Shakti. Hindus believe that Goddess Shakti is the originator of all Goddess energies, and so we think that this is a perfect place to start.
These guides will provide you with background information on each deity and also how you can bring the Goddesses into your practice to draw on their powers and characteristics. You can view them as archetypes – models of specific strengths and benefits, which you can invoke into your own life by connecting with their energies.
Who is Goddess Shakti?
Goddess Shakti has many names. Her full name is Adi Parashakti. She is also known as Adi Shakti, Mahashakti, Devi, Mahadevi, or simply as Shakti.
Adi Parashakti means “Original Supreme Power.” Adi = beginning, Para = supreme, highest, absolute, Shakti = a power beyond the physical universe. Her name indicates her as the Divine creator and cosmic energy of the universe.
According to the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, one of Hinduism’s Mahapuranas (ancient texts), Adi Parashakti is the original creator, observer, and destroyer of the whole universe. She is the Divine Mother of all creation, and she is the essence of all beings. Shakti is the female manifestation of this cosmic energy, and Shiva is the male.
“I am Manifest Divinity, Unmanifest Divinity, and Transcendent Divinity. I am Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, as well as Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. I am the Sun and I am the Stars, and I am also the Moon. I am all animals and birds, and I am the outcaste as well, and the thief. I am the low person of dreadful deeds, and the great person of excellent deeds. I am Female, I am Male in the form of Shiva.”– Adi Parashakti, Devi-Bhagavata Purana
Along with Lakshmi and Saraswati, she forms the Tridevi – The supreme trinity of Hindu Goddesses.
Shaktism is a major branch of Hinduism where the metaphysical reality of the universe is considered to be Divine female cosmic energy, personified as the Goddess Shakti and her many incarnations.
Shaktas, followers of Shaktism, see female creativity, embodied by Adi Parashakti,as the ultimate power behind the universe. She is the cosmos itself – the source of all creation (creator), the all-pervading energy of creation (observer), and eventually, the container into which everything will eventually dissolve (destroyer).
In Shaktism, Goddess Shakti is viewed as the personification of Para Brahman – the supreme formless energy that pervades everything, everywhere, the ultimate reality of all that exists. In that sense, we can also see Goddess Shakti as universal cosmic energy.
All Hindu deities are simply manifestations of the same supreme formless energy. As such, there are hundreds of incarnations of Goddess Adi Parashakti. They are all considered to be diverse aspects of the one ultimate Goddess. We will explore some of these incarnations in greater depth in future articles.
Some of these Goddesses you may have heard of:
In Shaktism, there is also the Mahavidya, a group of ten aspects of Adi Parashakti, formed from her incarnation as Sati. The legend says that Goddess Shakti was incarnated as the daughter of King Daksha, one of Lord Brahma’s sons. In this incarnation, she married Lord Shiva. Her father was not pleased about this marriage and cut her off from the family. He organized a special fire ritual called a yagna, but did not invite the couple. Sati decided to go anyway, against Shiva’s wishes.
When she arrived, King Daksha became angry and would not stop shouting at Sati and insulting Shiva. She became so enraged with the whole situation she transformed herself into the ten Mahavidyas scattered over the ten cardinal directions. Afterward, she reincarnated as Parvati and again took Lord Shiva as her husband.
Parvati is the nurturing and gentle aspect of Adi Parashakti, whereas her embodiments as Kali, Durga, and Chandi are much more ruthless and frightening. Durga is the warrior form of Parvati, Kali is the Goddess of time, creation and destruction, and Chandi is the terrifying and angry destroyer of evil.
The Mahavidyas are:
- Lalita Maha Tripura Sundari
- Tripura Bhairavi
Lalita Maha Tripura Sundari is considered to be the most potent incarnation of Adi Parashakti and is the foremost aspect of the Mahavidya. The Hindu text Lalita Sahasranama contains a listing of 1,000 names of Lalita, organized into hymns. Tripura symbolizes the three states of consciousness. Jagrat (awake), Swapna (dream/illusion), Sushupti (deep sleep/automatic action), Turiya (pure consciousness).
As you can tell from this brief insight into Adi Parashakti, she is deeply entrenched in Hinduism and forms the foundational aspect from which all Hindu Goddesses arise.
Family of Goddess Shakti
In legend, Shiva first married Goddess Shakti in her incarnation as the Goddess Sati. They joined together in many of her other manifestations, including the one directly after her time as Sati, when she was Parvati. The Hindu God Vishnu was her brother.
In her incarnation as Parvati, she and Shiva had three children:
- Ganesha – The elephant-headed remover of obstacles
- Kartikeya – The God of war
- Ashokasundari – The Goddess of imagination
Shiva and Shakti and the fundamental male/female aspects of the universe.
Shiva = Consciousness
Shakti = Energy/Power
Destined to be together throughout all existence, their eternal dance creates the vibration of the universe (Spanda). Shiva only has the power to create when he is united with Shakti. This union is known as Ardhanrishwara.
The dialogues between Shiva and Shakti are said to have formed the Agamas – the religious texts, which are the basis of Hinduism. These are separated into the Shaiva Agamas (Shiva), Vaishnava Agamas (Vishnu), and Shakta Agamas (Shakti). The Shakta Agamas are more commonly known as Tantras.
Your Innate Shakti Energy
Our slumbering serpentine Kundalini Shakti energy is coiled at the base of the spine in the Muladhara chakra, and Lalita Tripura Sundari sits above the head in the Sahasrara chakra. Our job is to arouse the serpent and facilitate its ascent of the chakras towards union with the Divine source energy of the universe, Lalita, or Shakti, at the Sahasrara chakra.
Your inner Shakti is trying to merge with the universal source energy Shakti. In Hinduism it the liberation from the illusion of duality of self (atman) and the universe (Brahman). This union is the highest ideal in the yogic scriptures. It is mirrored in Buddhism as enlightenment or self-realization. Realizing that nothing exists as separate entities and all phenomena are merely delusions of an unenlightened mind.
The Three Sariras
Understanding the three sariras (bodies) of Shakti that comprise each human being helps us to realize the essence and construction of our being, and that we ARE Shakti energy already. Goddess Shakti is the creator of the universe and the energy of everything in the universe, and that includes human beings.
Karina – The casual body is the source from which the subtle body and the gross body arise. The impressions of experience reside here, collected from past existences.
Sukshma – The subtle body in the spiritual realm. Sukshma is the vital energy and mind-body, and together with the Karina, forms the Jiva (soul), which separates from the Sthula (gross body) upon death.
Sthula – The gross body is the temple through which we can realize who we are, and the Shakti that is within each of us can achieve union with cosmic Shakti energy.
I Am That
We have forgotten that we are source energy. We are Shakti. We are the same. We have fallen into a deep slumber of ignorance. We need to wake up. To awaken to the truth of who we are.
So we should take time every day to remember we are that. We are divine source energy. We are Shakti, Shiva, Para Brahman. There is no difference. Therefore, we have the power to access ALL of Goddess Shakti’s incarnations and associated powers and abilities because we are the same essence.
Manifesting Goddess Shakti Energy
Goddess Shakti reveals herself to us when we feel disconnected, alone, disempowered, apathetic, and purposeless. When we need to make a transformation in our lives, and for the planet, she brings her infinite cosmic power to realign us with the energy of the cosmos.
But she doesn’t just work with softness and grace. As the destroyer through her many warrior Goddess incarnations such as Durga and Kali, she can correct things with a strong hand and be quite merciless. She does this through the destruction of certain negative characteristics that hold us back from ascending the chakra ladder towards Moksha (liberation).
Each of her aspects can help us to overcome specific obstacles. For example:
Durga and Kali destroy the endless egoic chattering thoughts inside our minds. They also destroy the primal cravings that keep us in the lower chakras i.e., sex and food. Lalita Tripura Sundari abolishes impotence, apathy, laziness, and torpor.
When we invoke Adi Parashaktias her more nurturing forms – Lalita, Parvati, Sati, Lakshmi, etc., we bring peace, nurturing, beauty, and grace into our lives. This nurturing helps us to awaken in a gentle way.
When we invoke the dark Goddesses such as Kali, Durga, and Chandi, we experience an accelerated Shakti – a fast inner process to destroying obstacles. These aspects of Adi Parashakti destroy everything in your path to self-realization. As mentioned, this can be destructive; they can cause you to lose everything, so you HAVE to wake up! You need to be ready for transformation when you call upon some of the incarnations of Goddess Shakti!
Our Top Three Ways to Invoke Goddess Shakti
There are many ways to awaken your inner Kundalini Shakti. In tantra, the essence of Shaktism, it does not really matter what sādhana (spiritual practice) you choose, the important thing is the end result of Moksha.
Here are our top three ways to connect with the essence of Adi Parashakti:
1. Kundalini Yoga to Awaken Shakti Energy
Kundalini yoga is a beautiful practice that will bring you so many benefits. Kundalini yoga includes many kriyas (completed actions) to help you awaken your Kundalini energy and open the chakras for this energy to rise. These kriyas include pranayama techniques, mantras, and physical postures. Kriyas can be very specific, down to the length of hold, breathing, and the point of gaze, and so if you are new to the practice, it is advisable to find a local Kundalini yoga class. Practicing under the guidance of an experienced teacher will help you to perform the kriyas effectively. If there are no classes near you, or group classes do not resonate with you, then you can also practice by following a guided class online. YouTube has lots of free classes. We love this one and this one.
2. Adi Parashakti Mantra Chanting
Mantras are a powerful way to change your energetic frequency. The sound vibrations literally retune your energy centers and reharmonize your being. It is effective to listen to recordings of mantra chanting. You can close your eyes and allow the energy to wash over you as you visualize your Kundalini Shakti energy in your Muladhara chakra awakening and rising upwards towards your Sahasrara.
However, to gain the best benefits from mantra, we recommend that you chant them yourself because you release the vibration inside you, and it reverberates throughout your entire being. This is like reprogramming your energetic frequency from the inside out and is extremely powerful. If you are drawn to mantra chanting, try practicing this daily for 108 days and feel the Shakti energy it awakens within you.
Adi Parashakti mantra in Sanskrit:
Adi Shakti, Adi Shakti, Adi Shakti, Namo Namo
Sarab Shakti, Sarab Shakti, Sarab Shakti, Namo Namo
Pritham Bhagvati, Pritham Bhagvati, Pritham Bhagvati, Namo Namo
Kundalini Mata Shakti, Mata Shakti, Namo Namo.”
The Mantra in English:
”First force of all creation, to You I bow.
Divine force, everywhere, to You I bow.
Creative force, primal force, to You I bow.
Rising up, Divine Mother, to You I bow.”
3. Meditating on Goddess Shakti
Meditation is always an excellent method for inner connection and realization of self. It helps us to still the incessant chatter of our monkey mind so that we can realize our truth and facilitate positive energy states such as wisdom, compassion, and peace.
You can do a simple visualization to awaken your Shakti energy. Take a few breaths to center yourself and turn your mind inwards. Focus your awareness on your Muladhara chakra, in the region of your coccyx. Imagine this area as a red lotus flower with four petals. See it spinning gently with your breath, increasing its glow as you fill it with energy. Next, visualize your Kundalini Shakti in the form of a sleeping serpent. As you build power in your Muladhara, you may see or feel your serpentine Kundalini awakening and rising up, sublimating towards the higher chakras. If you like, you can see each chakra light up as your Kundalini rises to illuminate them.
We hope that this article on Goddess Shakti has inspired you to awaken your own inner Shakti energy, and shown you that you are that. You are Shakti.