What is Shakti?
Each human being has both masculine and feminine characteristics. This basic polarity is part of you whether you are a man or woman. The balance between the masculine and feminine side is very important. Shiva represents the non-manifest and Shakti the manifest; Shiva is formless and Shakti is beautifully formed; Shiva is consciousness and Shakti is energy, not only in the cosmos as a whole but in each and every individual. The roots of Shakti are in Shiva. Hinduism believes that the masculine side is Shiva and the feminine side is Shakti.
Everything that has Shakti is alive, radiant and desired. Shakti is a Sanskrit word which means power and energy. Energy gives us power to work. Shakti is phenomenon, it is a force responsible for our life and its various stages of lifecycle. It is the force responsible for the growth in the nature; be it vegetation, forest, river, animals or human beings. It is responsible for the movement of all things. The movements of planets around the sun results into Shakti, she makes the winds blow and the oceans churn. Shakti is manifest as the very affective ability of all the forces of nature. She is the heat of fire, the brilliance of the sun, the very life force of all living beings. She is the power of intelligence (buddhi), kindness (daya) and divinity love (bhakti) among her many other functions. It is Shakti which keeps the universe going. Without the presence of Shakti all creation would be rendered feeble.
Shakti is a completely feminine principle. Shakti is synonymous with the Devi (Goddess). She is omnipresent. Hinduism sees Shakti in many forms of Goddesses. The Rig Veda has mentioned of about 40 goddesses, these include Sarasvati – goddess of knowledge; Ushas – the dawn; Aditi – also called the Adimaya; Laxmi – the goddess of wealth; Kali – the goddess of power. Part of the Rig Veda is known as the “Devi Sukta” which consists of Shakti as a cosmic principle.
The various schools of Indian philosophy have reference of Shakti as the inherent power of all things.
Nature is seen as dynamic energy; Prakriti is originally passive, immobile and pure potentiality by nature but her contact with the kinetic Purusha which she unfolds into different forms such as forest, river, vegetation etc in the most colorful form. The universe with all its diversity and prosperity remains likened to the divine desire as conception before manifestation. It is manifested in the course of basic evolution which has started under the influence of the creative will of the Divinity whom we call the Shakti.
So friends, Shakti is the essence of vibrancy, health, good feeling and vitality overall. Good health gives a glow to life. When you have Shakti you have the energy to engage with life in meaningful ways. Shakti empowers you to seek growth and change to find purpose and fulfilment in everyday life. Shakti is the foundation for a conscious life. When Shakti is directed inwards it empowers you to raise your consciousness, to experience yourself as part of something greater. You face the stress with courage, you breathe well, and you can easily digest food and experience vigor in life. Your body expels toxins from your body and mind effortlessly.
Three main forms of Shakti are Gyana – the power to know, Iccha – the will power and Kriya – the power to act or perform. These three Shakti’s can be thought of as intent, formulation and manifestation. You can increase Shakti by expressing gratitude to everything right from your family, friends, relationship, career, and hobbies – whatever you feel blessed with. This will immediately put you in a better and happier frame of mind. Be friends with people who have high energy. Growth is a very powerful energy fuel. Learning new things makes us feel motivated and that will translate to positive energy. When we do something that we have never done before, we feel fulfilled and this fulfillment fuels our energy and increase our level of happiness.
Instead of waiting for the big things to happen, find happiness in the small things that can easily happen every day. Little things such having breakfast with our loved ones in the early morning, being early for work, complementing our colleagues. Notice these small pleasures on a daily basis make a big difference in the quality of your life. You feel the happiest not when you receive but when you are able to give. By caring for others, helping them, cheering them up, all these little actions will give you satisfaction and happiness. Trust me, these positive approaches increase your energy levels.
India has some holy places of cosmic power which are called Shakti Peethas. There is a story behind how those Shakti Peethas were created: Lord Brahmas’s son was Daksha Prajapati. It seems he had 27 daughters and Sati devi was one among them. Sati devi got married to Lord Shiva. When Dashka entered the arena of a yaga performed by Agni, everyone except Lord Shiva stood up as a mark of respect. Daksha felt insulted by Lord Shiva’s conduct. Later when Daksha conducted a yagna himself, he did not invite his daughter Sati and his son in law Shiva. Though Sati felt bad because of the non-invitation, she wanted to attend the yagna against the wish of Lord Shiva. When Sati, attended the yagna nobody cared for her and she felt terribly insulted by the actions of her sisters and parents. She felt so humiliated that it seems she created fire (agni) from earth with her right thumb of her foot and she entered the agni. When Shiva realized this, he removed one bunch of Jhatha (bunch of hair) from his head and hit it on the earth.
From that Lord Veerabhadra was born and rushed to yagna spot and killed Daksha by cutting his head. Later Shiva went to the spot and took the body of sati from the fire and started dancing with it. The world was terrorized from his Tandava Nritya. Vishnu – the lord of preservation used his Sudarshan chakra and completely cut the Sati’s body in to pieces. These body parts have fallen at various places in India and Srilanka. All those places where her body parts fell are called Shakti peethas. There are 18 such places.
Shakti through all her forms, encompasses the essence of liberation and sacrifice. She is the mother of abundance and wealth, as also of beauty and knowledge. Express gratitude to all that is happening in your life, and augment the Shakti in you.