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Encyclopedia > Shaktism
Shaktism focuses worship upon the Hindu Divine Mother, here manifested as Tridevi – the conjoined forms of Lakshmi , Parvati and Saraswati.
Shaktism focuses worship upon the Hindu Divine Mother, here manifested as Tridevi – the conjoined forms of Lakshmi , Parvati and Saraswati.

Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that worships Shakti or Devi – the Hindu name for the Divine Mother – in her many forms, both gentle and fierce. Shaktism is, along with Saivism and Vaisnavism, one of the three primary schools of Hinduism. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 454 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1079 × 1425 pixel, file size: 4. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 454 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1079 × 1425 pixel, file size: 4. ... For the South Indian actress, see Laxmi (actress). ... For the Harry Potter character, see Parvati Patil. ... For the Vedic river, see Saraswati River. ... Hinduism (known as in modern Indian languages[1]) is a religious tradition[2] that originated in the Indian subcontinent. ... Lakshmi is a common aspect of Shakti Shakti meaning force, power or energy is the Hindu concept or personification of Gods female aspect, sometimes referred to as The Divine Mother. Shakti represents the active, dynamic principles of feminine power. ... It has been suggested that Shri Vidya be merged into this article or section. ... In Hinduism, the Divine Mother is the female polarity of the Godhead, the Shakti or Adi-shakti. ... Shaivism, also Saivism, is a branch of Hinduism that worships Siva as the Supreme God. ... Vaishnavism is the branch of Hinduism in which Vishnu or one of his avatars (i. ...


Shaktism reveres Devi as the absolute, ultimate godhead. She is the Supreme Brahman itself, the "one without a second," with all other forms of divinity, female or male, considered to be merely her diverse manifestations. This page deals with the Hindu concept of The Supreme Reality. ...


In the details of its philosophy and practice, Shaktism greatly resembles Saivism. However, Shaktas (practitioners of Shaktism) tend to focus worship on Shakti exclusively, as the feminine dynamic aspect of the Supreme Divine. Shiva, the masculine aspect of divinity, is considered solely transcendent, and his worship is usually relegated to an auxiliary role.[1] For other uses, see Siva (disambiguation). ...


In his seminal History of the Shakta Religion, N. N. Bhattacharyya stated, "Those who worship the Supreme Deity exclusively as a Female Principle are called Shakta. The Shaktas conceive their Great Goddess as the personification of primordial energy and the source of all divine and cosmic evolution. She is identified with the Supreme Being, conceived as the source and the spring as well as the controller of all the forces and potentialities of nature. Nowhere in the religious history of the world do we come across such a completely female-oriented system."[2]

Contents

Overview

Shakti and Shiva

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Hinduism Hinduism (known as in modern Indian languages[1]) is a religious tradition[2] that originated in the Indian subcontinent. ...

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History · Deities
Denominations · Literature Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Hinduism has prehistoric roots, including suspected survivals of traditions of the Bronze Age and right through to when yamum got down and funky. ... Within Hinduism a large number of personalities, or forms, are worshipped as deities or murtis. ... Hinduism encompasses many movements and schools fairly organized within Hindu denominations. ... Hindu mythology is a term used by modern scholarship for a large body of Indian literature that details the lives and times of legendary personalities, deities and divine incarnations on earth interspersed with often large sections of philosophical and ethical discourse. ...

Beliefs and practices

Dharma · Artha · Kama · Moksha
Karma · Samsara · Yoga · Bhakti
Maya · Puja · Mandir Hindu philosophy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... For other uses, see Dharma (disambiguation). ... Artha is a Sanskrit term referring to the idea of material prosperity. ... Kāma (Skt. ... For other uses, see Moksha (disambiguation). ... Karma is a concept in Hinduism, based on the Vedas and Upanishads, which explains causality through a system where beneficial events are derived from past beneficial actions and harmful events from past harmful actions, creating a system of actions and reactions throughout a persons reincarnated lives. ... For other uses, see Samsara (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Yoga (disambiguation). ... Bhakti (DevanāgarÄ«: भक्ति) is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning devotion and also the path of devotion itself, as in Bhakti-Yoga. ... Maya (illusion) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... A puja as performed in Ujjain during the Monsoon on the banks of the overflowing river Shipra. ... The Gopuram of temples, in south India, are adorned with colourful icons depicting a particular story surrounding the temples deity. ...

Scriptures

Vedas · Upanishads · Ramayana
Mahabharata · Bhagavad Gita
Purana · others Template:Hindu scriptures - Vedic Scriptures Hindu scripture, which is known as Shastra is predominantly written in Sanskrit. ... Veda redirects here. ... The Upanishads (उपनिषद्, Upanişad) are part of the Hindu Shruti scriptures which primarily discuss meditation and philosophy and are seen as religious instructions by most schools of Hinduism. ... For the television series by Ramanand Sagar, see Ramayan (TV series). ... For the film by Peter Brook, see The Mahabharata (1989 film). ... Bhagavad Gīta भगवद्गीता, composed ca the fifth - second centuries BC, is part of the epic poem Mahabharata, located in the Bhisma-Parva chapters 23–40. ... The Puranas are part of Hindu Smriti; these religious scriptures discuss devotion and mythology. ... The following is a bibliography of Hindu scriptures and texts. ...

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Hinduism by country
Gurus and saints · Reforms
Ayurveda · Calendar · Criticism
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Hinduism - Percentage by country The percentage of Hindu population of each country was taken from the US State Departments International Religious Freedom Report 2004. ... These are some of the most noteworthy Gurus and Saints of Hinduism (in alphabetical order): A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Adi Shankara Akhandanand Mata Amritanandamayi Sri Aurobindo Baba Lokenath Brahmachari Bhakti Tirtha Swami Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaj Bhagawan Nityananda Bhagwan Swaminarayan Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Chinmayananda Sri Chinmoy Dharmsamrat Paramhans Swami Madhavananda... Hinduism is going through a phase of regeneration and reform through the vehicle of several contemporary movements, collectively termed as Hindu reform movements. ... Shirodhara, one of the techniques of Ayurveda Ayurveda (Devanagari: ) or Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient system of health care that is native to the Indian subcontinent. ... A page from the Hindu calendar 1871-72. ... This does not cite its references or sources. ... Glossary of terms in Hinduism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Jyotisha (, in Hindi and English usage Jyotish; sometimes called Hindu astrology, Indian astrology, and/or Vedic astrology) is the Hindu system of astrology, one of the six disciplines of Vedanga, and regarded as one of the oldest schools of ancient astrology to have had an independent origin, affecting all other...

Hindu swastika Image File history File links HinduSwastika. ...

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Shaktism's focus on the Divine Feminine does not imply a rejection of Masculine or Neuter divinity. They are, however, deemed to be inactive in the absence of Shakti:

Shiva and Shakti in the half-male, half-female form of Ardhanari. (Elephanta caves, 5th century CE. Mumbai, India.)

"In practice the Shaktas focus their worship on the goddess, and Shiva is often seen as inferior or dependent, the servant or gatekeeper of the goddess. [...] Shiva would be a corpse (shava) without the power of the goddess to enliven him. [Thus] one of the most frequently seen statues of Kali [...] is the image of the goddess stepping on her husband, who is lying down like a corpse.[3] Image File history File links Download high resolution version (447x800, 111 KB) Summary (photographed by self) Licensing Licensing File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (447x800, 111 KB) Summary (photographed by self) Licensing Licensing File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... For other uses, see Siva (disambiguation). ... Lakshmi is a common aspect of Shakti Shakti meaning force, power or energy is the Hindu concept or personification of Gods female aspect, sometimes referred to as The Divine Mother. Shakti represents the active, dynamic principles of feminine power. ... Ardhanarishvara (half male-half female God) Note the sculptures left is female and the right is male, depicting Shiva and his consort Shakti/Parvati. ... The Trimurti-Sadasiva Statue The Elephanta Caves are the focal point of the Elephanta Island, located in the Mumbai harbour off the coast of Mumbai (Bombay), India. ... , “Bombay” redirects here. ...

This belief is "the basic and fundamental tenet in Shaktism."[4] Shakti (i.e., the Supreme Goddess as Power, or Energy) is considered the motivating force behind all action and existence in the phenomenal cosmos. The cosmos itself is Brahman; i.e., the concept of an unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality that provides the divine ground of all being. Masculine potentiality is actualized by feminine dynamism, embodied in multitudinous goddesses who are ultimately reconciled into one.[5] Lakshmi is a common aspect of Shakti Shakti meaning force, power or energy is the Hindu concept or personification of Gods female aspect, sometimes referred to as The Divine Mother. Shakti represents the active, dynamic principles of feminine power. ... This page deals with the Hindu concept of The Supreme Reality. ...


As religious historian V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar (1896-1953) expressed it, "Shaktism is dynamic Hinduism. The excellence of Shaktism lies in its affirmation of Shakti as Consciousness and of the identity of Shakti and Brahman. In short, Brahman is static Shakti and Shakti is dynamic Brahman."[6] In religious art, this cosmic dynamic is powerfully expressed in the half-Shakti, half-Shiva deity known as Ardhanari. Ardhanarishvara (half male-half female God) Note the sculptures left is female and the right is male, depicting Shiva and his consort Shakti/Parvati. ...


The Shakta conception views the Devi as the source, essence and substance of virtually everything in creation, seen or unseen, including Shiva. Indeed, in the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, a central Shakta scripture, the Devi declares: Devi-Bhagavata Purana popularly known as Shrimad Devi Bhagvatam, is a Hindu scripture in Sanskrit, dedicated to Devi, the Hindu name for the Divine Mother or the Divine feminine. ...

"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, and I am Neuter."[7] This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Vishnu (IAST , Devanagari ), (honorific: Sri Vishnu) also known as Narayana is the Supreme Being (i. ... For other uses, see Siva (disambiguation). ... For the Vedic river, see Saraswati River. ... For the South Indian actress, see Laxmi (actress). ... For the Harry Potter character, see Parvati Patil. ...

The religious scholar C. MacKenzie Brown explains that Shaktism "clearly insists that, of the two genders, the feminine represents the dominant power in the universe. Yet both genders must be included in the ultimate if it is truly ultimate. The masculine and the feminine are aspects of the divine, transcendent reality, which goes beyond but still encompasses them. Devi, in her supreme form as consciousness thus transcends gender, but her transcendence is not apart from her immanence."[8]


Brown's analysis continues, "Indeed, this affirmation of the oneness of transcendence and immanence constitutes the very essence of the divine mother [and her] ultimate triumph. It is not, finally, that she is infinitely superior to the male gods – though she is that, according to [Shaktism] – but rather that she transcends her own feminine nature as Prakriti without denying it."[9] Prakrti or Prakriti (from Sanskrit language) is, according to samkhya philosophy the basic matter of which the universe consists. ...


Shakti and Tantra

Another widely misunderstood aspect of Shaktism is its close association with Tantra – an ambiguous, loaded concept that suggests everything from orthodox temple worship in the south of India, to black magic and occult practices in North India, to ritualized sex in the West.[10] Not all forms of Shaktism are Tantric in nature, just as not all forms of Tantra are Shaktic in nature.[11] This article is an overview of Tantra and an in-depth look at the Tantra of Hinduism. ...

Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswathi, a modern Shakta adept and guru, performing the Navavarana Puja, a central ritual in Srividya Tantric Shaktism, at the Sahasrakshi Meru Temple at Devipuram, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswathi, a modern Shakta adept and guru, performing the Navavarana Puja, a central ritual in Srividya Tantric Shaktism, at the Sahasrakshi Meru Temple at Devipuram, Andhra Pradesh, India.

When the term "Tantra" is used in relation to authentic Hindu Shaktism, it most often refers to a class of ritual manuals, and – more broadly – to an esoteric methodology of Goddess-focused spiritual discipline (sadhana) involving mantra, yantra, nyasa, mudra and certain elements of traditional kundalini yoga, all practiced under the guidance of a qualified guru after due initiation (diksha) and oral instruction to supplement various written sources.[12] Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... A puja as performed in Ujjain during the Monsoon on the banks of the overflowing river Shipra. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Devi. ... Tantric can refer to: Tantric yoga, also known as tantra The Louisville, KY hard rock band Tantric This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Devipuram is a Hindu temple complex located near Visakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India. ... “Andhra” redirects here. ... A Sadhana is a ritualistic meditation practice from Hindu and Buddhist spiritual traditions which is followed in order to achieve a form of spiritual purification or enlightenment. ... In Tibet, many Buddhists carve mantras into rocks as a form of devotion. ... The Sri Yantra. ... A mudrā (Sanskrit, मुद्रा, literally seal) is a symbolic gesture usually made with the hand or fingers. ... Kundalini yoga is a physical and meditative discipline, comprising a set of simple techniques that uses the mind, senses and body to create a communication between mind and body. Kundalini yoga focuses on psycho-spiritual growth and the bodys potential for maturation, giving special consideration to the role of... For other uses, see Guru (disambiguation). ... In Hinduism, diksha is the ritual of initiation into the worship of some deity by a guru (diksha guru) who bestows mantra(s) and takes the karma of the initiate - at least in case of Vaishnava diksha, as per Hari Bhakti Vilasa 1. ...


In its social interactions, Tantra is "free from all sorts of caste and patriarchal prejudices. A woman or a shudra is entitled to function in the role of [guru]. All women are regarded as manifestations of Shakti, and hence they are the object of respect and devotion. Whoever offends them incurs the wrath of the great goddess. Every [male aspirant] has to realize the latent Female Principle within himself, and only by [thus] 'becoming female' is he entitled to worship the Supreme Being"[13] Shudra (IAST: ) is the fourth Varna in the traditional four-section division in historic Hindu society. ...


More controversial elements, such as the infamous "Five Ms" or panchamakara, are indeed employed under certain circumstances by some Tantric Shakta sects. However, these elements tend to be overemphasized and grossly sensationalized by commentators (both friendly and hostile) who are ill-informed regarding authentic doctrine and practice. Moreover, even within the tradition itself there are wide differences of opinion regarding the proper interpretation of the panchamakara, and some lineages reject them altogether.[14] This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


In sum, the complex social and historical interrelations of Tantric and non-Tantric elements in Shaktism (and Hinduism in general) are an extremely fraught and nuanced topic of discussion.[15] However, as a general rule:

"Ideas and practices that collectively characterize Tantrism pervade classical Hinduism. [...] It would be an error to consider Tantrism apart from its complex interrelations with non-Tantric traditions. Literary history demonstrates that Vedic-oriented brahmins have been involved in Shakta Tantrism from its incipient stages of development, that is, from at least the sixth century. While Shakta Tantrism may have originated in [ancient, indigenous] goddess cults, any attempt to distance Shakta Tantrism from the Sanskritic Hindu traditions [...] will lead us astray."[16] Veda redirects here. ... The term Brahmin denotes both a member of the priestly class in the Hindu varna system, and a member of the highest caste in the caste system of Hindu society. ...

Principal Deities

Hindus in general, and Shaktas in particular, approach the Devi in innumerable forms, depending on many factors, including family tradition, regional practice, guru lineage, personal resonance and so on. There are literally thousands of goddess forms, many of them associated with particular temples, geographic features or even individual villages. However, they are all considered to be but diverse aspects of the One Supreme Goddess.[17]

The Devi in her benign form as Parvati, suckling her son Ganesha. Opaque watercolor on paper. Jaipur, India, c. 1820. (Smithsonian Institution)

Nonetheless, several highly popular – pan-Indian or pan-Hindu – goddess forms are known and worshiped throughout the Hindu world, and virtually every female deity in Hinduism is believed to be a manifestation of one or more of these "basic" forms. The best-known benevolent goddesses of popular Hinduism include:[18] Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... For other uses, see Ganesha (disambiguation). ... , Jaipur   (Hindi: जयपुर, Rajasthan Capital), also popularly known as the Pink City, historically sometimes rendered as Jeypore, is the capital of Rajasthan state, India. ... The Smithsonian Institution Building or Castle on the National Mall serves as the Institutions headquarters. ...

  1. Adi Parashakti: The Goddess as Original, Transcendent Source of the Universe.
  2. Durga (Ambika): The Goddess as Mahadevi, Supreme Divinity.
  3. Sri-Lakshmi: The Goddess of Material Fulfillment (wealth, health, fortune, love, beauty, fertility, etc.); consort (shakti) of Vishnu
  4. Parvati: The Goddess of Spiritual Fulfillment, Divine Love; consort (shakti) of Shiva
  5. Saraswati: The Goddess of Cultural Fulfillment (knowledge/education, music, arts and sciences, etc.); consort (shakti) of Brahma; identified with Saraswati River
  6. Gayatri: The Goddess as Mother of Mantras
  7. Ganga: The Goddess as Divine River (Ganges)
  8. Sita: The Goddess as Rama's consort
  9. Radha: The Goddess as Krishna's consort
  10. Sati: The Goddess of Marital Relations; original consort (shakti) of Shiva

In Hinduism, Durga (Sanskrit: ) is a form of Devi, the supreme goddess. ... 1: In Hinduism, Devi (goddess) is the personification of the supreme God as the Divine Mother of Hinduism. ... For the South Indian actress, see Laxmi (actress). ... It has been suggested that Shri Vidya be merged into this article or section. ... Lakshmi is a common aspect of Shakti Shakti meaning force, power or energy is the Hindu concept or personification of Gods female aspect, sometimes referred to as The Divine Mother. Shakti represents the active, dynamic principles of feminine power. ... Vishnu (IAST , Devanagari ), (honorific: Sri Vishnu) also known as Narayana is the Supreme Being (i. ... For the Harry Potter character, see Parvati Patil. ... For other uses, see Siva (disambiguation). ... For the Vedic river, see Saraswati River. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Hindu Vedas mention a river named Sarasvatī. In Sanskrit saras means a pool or water body, and vatī (from vnt-ī, the female form of the -vant suffix) means she having lots of pools. Sarasvati was the biggest and most important of the seven holy rivers of the Rig Veda. ... Gayatri (Sanskrit: , IAST: ) is the feminine form of gāyatra, a Sanskrit word for a song or a hymn. ... In Hinduism, the river Ganga (Sanskrit and Hindi गंगा Gaṅgā) or Ganges River (as called by westerners) is considered sacred. ... “Ganga” redirects here. ... Lord Rama (center) with wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman. ... Rama ( in IAST, in Devanāgarī) or Ramachandra is a legendary or historical king of ancient India. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is about the Hindu deity. ... In the Hindu religion, Satī (Devanagari: सती, the feminine of sat true) or Dākshāyani is the Goddess of marital felicity and longevity; she is worshipped particularly by ladies to seek the long life of their husbands. ...

Mahavidyas, Matrikas and Yoginis

Main articles: Mahavidyas, Matrikas, and Yogini

Goddess groups – such as the "Nine Durgas" (Navadurga), "Eight Lakshmis" (Ashta-Lakshmi) or the "15 Nityas" – are very common in Shaktism. But no group better reveals the elements of Shaktism better than the Ten Mahavidyas (Dasamahavidya). Through them, Shaktas believe, "the one Truth is sensed in ten different facets; the Divine Mother is adored and approached as ten cosmic personalities."[19] The Mahavidyas are considered Tantric in nature, and are usually identified as:[20] In Hinduism, the ten mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms) are aspects of Devi. ... Matrikas, that is, the mothers, are a band of divinities, which always appear in a group. ... A 10th century sculpture of a yogini from the Smithsonian Institute A yogini (Sanskrit) is the female origin of a practicing male yogi: having a steadfast mind cultivated by the disciplined pursuit of transcendance through Yoga. ... Navadurga, which literally means nine Durgas, constitute, according to Hindu mythology, the manifestation of Durga in nine different forms. ... In Hinduism, the ten mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms) are aspects of Devi. ...

The Goddess Kali, standing on Shiva's chest. (1770) by Richard B. Godfrey (1728 - N/A); from LACMA. The Devi as Kali, In Shakta theology, this configuration symbolizes Shakti as the dynamic aspect and Shiva as the static aspect of Supreme Divinity. Neither is complete without the other.
  1. Kali: The Goddess as Cosmic Destruction, Death or "Devourer of Time" (Supreme Deity of Kalikula systems)
  2. Tara: The Goddess as Guide and Protector, or Who Saves
  3. Tripurasundari (Shodashi): The Goddess Who is "Beautiful in the Three Worlds" (Supreme Deity of Srikula systems); the "Tantric Parvati"
  4. Bhuvaneshvari: The Goddess as World Mother, or Whose Body is the Cosmos
  5. Bhairavi: The Fierce Goddess
  6. Chhinnamasta: The Self-Decapitated Goddess
  7. Dhumavati: The Widow Goddess
  8. Bagalamukhi: The Goddess Who Paralyzes Enemies
  9. Matangi: The Outcaste Goddess (in Kalikula systems); the Prime Minister of Lalita (in Srikula systems); the "Tantric Saraswati"
  10. Kamala: The Lotus Goddess; the "Tantric Lakshmi"

Another major goddess group is the Sapta-Matrika ("Seven Little Mothers"), "who are the energies of different major gods, and described as assisting the great Shakta Devi in her fight with demons."[21] According to Bhattacharyya: Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 455 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (486 × 640 pixels, file size: 181 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)Richard B. Godfrey (1728 - N/A) The Goddess Kali, 1770 Print, Colored etching on paper, Sheet: 22 1/4 x 16 3/4 in. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 455 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (486 × 640 pixels, file size: 181 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)Richard B. Godfrey (1728 - N/A) The Goddess Kali, 1770 Print, Colored etching on paper, Sheet: 22 1/4 x 16 3/4 in. ... The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, also known as LACMA, is the official art museum of the County of Los Angeles, California. ... This article or section includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... Shaktism focuses worship upon the Hindu Divine Mother, here manifested as Tridevi – the conjoined forms of Lakshmi , Parvati and Saraswati. ... This article is about the Hindu goddess. ... Tripura Sundari is one of the mahavidyas. ... Shaktism focuses worship upon the Hindu Divine Mother, here manifested as Tridevi – the conjoined forms of Lakshmi , Parvati and Saraswati. ... Bhuvaneshvari is a Hindu goddess. ... Bhairavi is a fierce and terrifying aspect of the Goddess virtually indistinguishable from Kali, except for her particular identification as the consort of the Wrathful Shiva. ... Chhinnamasta as depicted on a book cover In Hinduism, Chinnamasta (also called Chinnamastaka, is one of the mahavidyas, and an aspect of Devi. ... In Hinduism, Dhumavati is one the of mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms); she is one of the many aspects of Devi. ... Bagalmukhi In Hinduism, Bagalamukhi is one of the Ten mahavidyas. ... This article or section includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... Kamalatmika is the Goddess in the fullness of her graceful aspect. ... Matrikas, that is, the mothers, are a band of divinities, which always appear in a group. ...

"The growing importance of Shaktism [of the matrikas and yoginis in the first millennium CE] brought them into greater prominence and distributed their cult far and wide. [...] The primitive Yogini cult was also revived on account of the increasing influenced of the cult of the Seven Mothers. In Sanskrit literature the Yoginis have been represented as the attendants or various manifestations of Durga engaged in fighting with [various demons], and the principal Yoginis are identified with the Matrikas."[22] A 10th century sculpture of a yogini from the Smithsonian Institute A yogini (Sanskrit) is the female origin of a practicing male yogi: having a steadfast mind cultivated by the disciplined pursuit of transcendance through Yoga. ...

Historical & Philosophical Development

Main article: History of Shaktism
Devi portrayed as Mahishasura Mardini, Slayer of the Buffalo Demon – a central episode of the Devi Mahatmya, and one of the most famous in all of Hindu mythology.
Devi portrayed as Mahishasura Mardini, Slayer of the Buffalo Demon – a central episode of the Devi Mahatmya, and one of the most famous in all of Hindu mythology.

The roots of Shaktism penetrate deep into India's prehistory. The earliest Mother Goddess figurine unearthed in India, belonging to the Upper Paleolithic, has been carbon-dated to approximately 20,000 BCE. [23] Thousands of female statuettes dated as early as c. 5500 BCE have been recovered at Mehrgarh, one of the most important Neolithic sites in world archaeology.[24] While it is impossible to precisely reconstruct the religious beliefs of a civilization so distantly removed in time, it is widely believed, based on archaeological and anthropological evidence, that the great Indus Valley Civilization is probably a direct predecessor of the modern Shakta religion.[25] A popular Shakta print, c. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 385 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (1973 × 3069 pixel, file size: 680 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Durga Mahadevi ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 385 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (1973 × 3069 pixel, file size: 680 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Durga Mahadevi ... In Hinduism, Durga (Sanskrit: ) is a form of Devi, the supreme goddess. ... A popular Shakta print, c. ... The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. ... Mehrgarh was an ancient settlement in South Asia and is one of the most important sites in archaeology for the study of the earliest neolithic settlements in that region. ... An array of Neolithic artifacts, including bracelets, axe heads, chisels, and polishing tools. ... Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro. ...


As the Indus Valley Civilization slowly declined and dispersed, its peoples mixed with other groups to eventually give rise to Vedic Civilization (c. 1500 - 600 BCE). Shaktism as we know it began with the literature of the Vedic Age; further evolved during the formative period of the Hindu epics; reached its full flower during the Gupta Age (300-700 CE), and continued to expand and develop thereafter. The Vedic civilization is the Indo-Aryan culture associated with the Vedas, the earliest known records of Indian history. ... The Gupta Empire under Chandragupta II (ruled 375-415) The Gupta Empire was one of the largest political and military empires in the world. ...


The most central text in Shaktism is the Devi Mahatmya (also known as the Durga Saptashati, Chandi or Chandi-Path), composed some 1,600 years ago. Here, for the first time, "the various mythic, cultic and theological elements relating to diverse female divinities were brought together in what has been called the 'crystallization of the Goddess tradition.'"[26] THE PRIMEVAL ENERGY One of the unique features of Hinduism is the fact that it conceives Divinity also as Mother Goddess. ...


Other important texts include the canonical Shakta Upanishads[27], as well as Shakta-oriented Puranic literature such as the Devi Purana and Kalika Purana[28], the Lalita Sahasranama (from the Brahmanda Purana)[29], the Devi Gita (from the Devi-Bhagavata Purana)[30], Adi Shankara's Saundaryalahari[31] and the Tantras.[32] The Upanishads (Devanagari: उपनिषद्, IAST: upaniṣad) are part of the Vedas and form the Hindu scriptures which primarily discuss philosophy, meditation, and the nature of God; they form the core spiritual thought of Vedantic Hinduism. ... Purana (Sanskrit: , meaning tales of ancient times) is the name of an ancient Indian genre (or a group of related genres) of Hindu or Jain literature (as distinct from oral tradition). ... The Kalika Purana is one of the eighteen Upapuranas. ... Lalita sahasranama is a sacred Hindu text for the worshippers of the Goddess Lalita Devi, i. ... Brahmanda Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text , is considered the last of the Puranas, and it once contained Aadhyatma Ramayana. ... Devi-Bhagavata Purana popularly known as Shrimad Devi Bhagvatam, is a Hindu scripture in Sanskrit, dedicated to Devi, the Hindu name for the Divine Mother or the Divine feminine. ... Adi Shankara (Malayalam: ആദി ശങ്കരന്‍, Devanāgarī: , , IPA: ); c. ... Saundaryalahari is a famous literary work written by Adi Shankara. ... The Tantra (Looms or Weavings), refer to numerous and varied scriptures pertaining to any of several esoteric traditions rooted in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. ...


In recent times, Bhattacharyya notes, Shaktism has so infused mainstream Hinduism that it has in certain respects "ceased to be a sectarian religion," in that it presents "no difficulty for anyone to accept its essence."[33] Recent Shaktism-related developments include the emergence of Bharat Mata ("Mother India"), Shakta influences in the increasing visibility of Hindu female saints and gurus[34], and the prodigious rise of the "new" goddess Santoshi Mata following release of the Indian film Jai Santoshi Maa ("Hail to the Mother of Satisfaction") in 1975. [35]. In Hinduism, Bharat Mata is a relatively modern mother goddess of fertility. ... Santoshi Mata, meaning the mother of contentment, is a relatively recent Hindu female divinity. ... Jai Santoshi Maa is the tale of Santoshi Maa and her relationship with her believers. ...


From the Devi's earliest appearance during India's early Stone Age, through the refinement of her cult in the Indus Valley Civilization, her partial eclipse during the Vedic period, and her subsequent resurfacing and expansion in the Sanskritic tradition, it has been suggested that, in many ways, "the history of the Hindu tradition can be seen as a reemergence of the feminine."[36] Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro. ... Map of early Iron Age Vedic India after Witzel (1989). ...


Worship in Shaktism

Shaktism encompasses a nearly endless variety of practices – from primitive animism through philosophical speculation of the highest order – that seek to access the Shakti (Divine Energy or Power) that is believed to be both the Devi's nature and form.[37] Shaktism is practiced throughout the Indian subcontinent and beyond; however, its two most visible and numerically significant schools are the Srikula, or family of Sri (Lakshmi), strongest in South India; and the Kalikula, or family of Kali, which prevails in Northern and Eastern India.[38] Lakshmi is a common aspect of Shakti Shakti meaning force, power or energy is the Hindu concept or personification of Gods female aspect, sometimes referred to as The Divine Mother. Shakti represents the active, dynamic principles of feminine power. ...


Srikula: Family of Sri

The Srikula tradition (sampradaya) focuses on the worship of Lalita-Tripurasundari. Rooted in first-millennium Kashmir, it became a force in South India no later than the seventh century, and is today the prevalent form of Shaktism practiced in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Sri Lanka.[39] In Hinduism, a Sampradaya is a tradition of disciplic succession serving as a spiritual channel and encompassing a common philosophy embraced by many schools, groups, or guru lineages (called parampara). ... Lalita (sometimes written Lalitha) is another name for Devi and means elegant or beautiful. ... Tripura Sundari is one of the mahavidyas. ... Tamil Nadu (தமிழ் நாடு, Land of the Tamils) is a state at the southern tip of India. ... , Kerala ( ; Malayalam: കേരളം; ) is a state on the Malabar Coast of southwestern India. ... “Andhra” redirects here. ...

The Sri Yantra (shown here in the three-dimensional projection known as Sri Meru or Maha Meru used mainly in rituals of the Srividya Shakta sects) is central to most Tantric forms of Shaktism.
The Sri Yantra (shown here in the three-dimensional projection known as Sri Meru or Maha Meru used mainly in rituals of the Srividya Shakta sects) is central to most Tantric forms of Shaktism.

The Srikula's best-known school is undoubtedly Srividya, "one of Shakta Tantrism's most influential and theologically sophisticated movements. Its central image, the Sri Chakra, is probably the most famous visual image in all of Hindu Tantric tradition. Its literature and practice is perhaps more systematic than [that of] any other Shakta sect."[40] Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... The Sri Chakra. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Devi. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Devi. ... The Sri Chakra. ...

"Srividya's principal deity, Lalita-Tripurasundari, is a great goddess (mahadevi) conceived to subsume and surpass all others. [...] Shakti in her supreme aspect (parashakti) manifests as benign (saumya) and beautiful (saundarya), rather than as terrifying (ugra) and horrifying (ghora). Thus, Lalita is deliberately contrasted with such figures as Kali and Durga. Lalita Tripurasundari, however, is a totalization of great goddess conceptions. In other words, Lalita is identified with every aspect of the goddess, in every possible form and mode of depiction. [Her apparently opposing traits] are not mutually exclusive, but encompassing and dynamic."[41]

The Sri Chakra is worshiped as Lalita's subtle form, either as a two-dimensional diagram (whether temporarily drawn for worship or permanently engraved in metal) or in the three-dimensional, pyramidal form known as the Sri Meru. It is not uncommon to find a Sri Chakra or Sri Meru installed in South Indian temples, because – as modern practitioners report – "there is no disputing that this is the highest form of Devi and that some of the practice can be done openly. But what you see in the temples is not the srichakra worship you see when it is done privately."[42]

A modern Kaula Srividya adept performs Tantric puja at his home altar. Kerala, India, 2006.
A modern Kaula Srividya adept performs Tantric puja at his home altar. Kerala, India, 2006.

The Srividya paramparas can be broadly categorized into two streams, the Kaula (a vamamarga practice) and the Samaya (a dakshinamarga practice). The Kaula or Kaulacharya, "first appeared as a coherent ritual system" in the eighth century in central India[43], and its champion is the 18th century philosopher Bhaskararaya, generally considered "the best exponent of Shakta philosophy."[44] Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Kaula (or Ka‘ula in Hawaiian) is a small, crescent-shaped island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the state of Hawaii, about 20 miles to the west-southwest of Niihau. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Devi. ... Tantric can refer to: Tantric yoga, also known as tantra The Louisville, KY hard rock band Tantric This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... A puja as performed in Ujjain during the Monsoon on the banks of the overflowing river Shipra. ... , Kerala ( ; Malayalam: കേരളം; ) is a state on the Malabar Coast of southwestern India. ... Parampara (Sanskrit: परम्परा) denotes a long succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Indian culture. ... Kaula (or Ka‘ula in Hawaiian) is a small, crescent-shaped island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the state of Hawaii, about 20 miles to the west-southwest of Niihau. ... The two paths of Tantra - Dakshinachara (Right-Hand Path), and Vamachara (Left-Hand Path) are viewed by Tantrists as equally valid approaches to enlightenment; Vamachara, however, is considered to be the faster and more dangerous of the two, not suitable for all practitioners. ... The term Dakshinachara (Right-Hand Path) is a technical term used to refer to Tantric sects that do not engage in these heterodox practices. ... Kaula (or Ka‘ula in Hawaiian) is a small, crescent-shaped island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the state of Hawaii, about 20 miles to the west-southwest of Niihau. ... Bhaskararaya () (1690-1785) is widely considered an authority on all questions pertaining to the worship of the Mother Goddess in Hinduism. ...


The Samaya or Samayacharya finds its roots in the works of a 16th century commentator, Lakshmidhara, and is "fiercely puritanical [in its] attempts to reform Tantric practice in ways that bring it in line with high-caste brahmanical norms."[45] Many Samaya practitioners would, in fact, explicitly deny being either Shakta or Tantric; however, Brooks argues that their cult remains technically both, "even if Samayins would reject this appellation." The term Brahmin denotes both a member of the priestly class in the Hindu varna system, and a member of the highest caste in the caste system of Hindu society. ...


Outside brahamanic circles, Kaula lineages remain alive and well – though their practitioners generally prefer to worship in private, in keeping with the Hindu adage, "When in public, be a Vaishnava. When among friends, be a Shaiva. But in private, always be a Shakta."[46] Kaula (or Ka‘ula in Hawaiian) is a small, crescent-shaped island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the state of Hawaii, about 20 miles to the west-southwest of Niihau. ...


The Samaya/Kaula division marks "an old dispute within Hindu Tantrism"[47], and one that continues to be vigorously debated to this day.[48]


Kalikula: Family of Kali

The Kalikula form of Shaktism is most widely prevalent in West Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Orissa, as well as parts of Maharashtra and Bangladesh. Kalikula lineages focus upon the Devi as the source of wisdom (vidya) and liberation (moksha), and generally stand "in opposition to the brahmanic tradition," which they view as "overly conservative and denying the experiential part of religion."[49] , West Bengal (Bengali: পশ্চিমবঙ্গ Poshchimbôŋgo) is a state in eastern India. ... Assam   (Assamese: অসম Ôxôm) is a north eastern state of India with its capital at Dispur, a part of Guwahati. ... For other uses, see Bihar (disambiguation). ... , Orissa   (Oriya: ଓଡ଼ିଶା), is a state situated on the east coast of India. ... , Maharashtra (Marathi: महाराष्ट्र , IPA:  , translation: Great Nation) is Indias third largest state in area and second largest in population after Uttar Pradesh. ... For other uses, see Moksha (disambiguation). ...

The Devi as Durga, in her form as Mahishasura Mardini, "Slayer of the Buffalo Demon, Mahisha. Photographed at a pandal (temporary shrine) in Cossipore, North Calcutta, on October 17, 2004, during Durga Puja.
The Devi as Durga, in her form as Mahishasura Mardini, "Slayer of the Buffalo Demon, Mahisha. Photographed at a pandal (temporary shrine) in Cossipore, North Calcutta, on October 17, 2004, during Durga Puja.

The main deities are Kali, Chandi and Durga. Tara also enjoys a very large following, and all of the Ten Mahavidyas are worshiped. Other pan-Indian goddesses – as well as lesser-known regional local goddesses such as Manasa, the snake goddess, and Sitala, the smallpox goddess – [are also worshiped] and understood as aspects of one supreme Goddess.[50] Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1200x1330, 3001 KB)Durga, riding on her lion, attacking Mahisasur. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1200x1330, 3001 KB)Durga, riding on her lion, attacking Mahisasur. ... In Hinduism, Durga (Sanskrit: ) is a form of Devi, the supreme goddess. ... A pandal is a temporary structure set up to venerate the goddess Durga during Durga Puja. ... Durga Puja (Bengali: দুর্গাপূজা Durga Puja) is the biggest festival of Hindus in Bihar, West Bengal, East Bengal, Jharkhand, and Bengali Hindus all over the world. ... In Hinduism, the ten mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms) are aspects of Devi. ... In Hinduism, Manasa is a naga and goddess of fertility. ... Sitala, SÄ«tala Devi or Māri is the Goddess of Smallpox or the Goddess of Disease in popular or non-Vedic Hinduism. ...


Two major centers of Shaktism in West Bengal are Kalighat in Calcutta and Tarapith in Birbhum District. In Calcutta, emphasis is on devotion (bhakti) to the goddess as Kali: Kalighat (Bengali: ) is a locality of Kolkata, India. ... This article is on Calcutta/Kolkata, the city. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Birbhum district in West Bengal Birbhum (Bengali: বীরভূম) is a district in West Bengal state of India. ...

She is "the loving mother who protects her children and whose fierceness guards them. She is outwardly frightening – with dark skin, pointed teeth, and a necklace of skulls – but inwardly beautiful. She can guarantee a good rebirth or great religious insight, and her worship is often communal – especially at festivals, such as Kali Puja and Durga Puja. Worship may involve contemplation of the devotee's union with or love of the goddess, visualization of her form, chanting [of her] mantras, prayer before her image or yantra, and giving [of] offerings."[51] Durga Puja (Bengali: দুর্গাপূজা Durga Puja) is the biggest festival of Hindus in Bihar, West Bengal, East Bengal, Jharkhand, and Bengali Hindus all over the world. ...

Shakta Hindus in Dhaka, Bangladesh, pray to the goddess during Durga Puja, October 2003.
Shakta Hindus in Dhaka, Bangladesh, pray to the goddess during Durga Puja, October 2003.

At Tarapith, Devi's manifestation as Tara ("She Who Saves") or Ugratara ("Fierce Tara") is ascendant, as the goddess who gives liberation (kaivalyadayini). [...] The forms of sadhana performed here are more yogic and tantric than devotional, and they often involve sitting alone at the [cremation] ground, surrounded by ash and bone. There are shamanic elements associated with the Tarapith tradition, including 'conquest of the goddess', exorcism, trance, and control of spirits."[52] Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1600 × 1200 pixel, file size: 269 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Please see the file description page for further information. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1600 × 1200 pixel, file size: 269 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Please see the file description page for further information. ... Dhaka (previously Dacca; Bengali: Ḍhākā; IPA: ) is the capital of Bangladesh and the principal city of Dhaka District. ... Durga Puja (Bengali: দুর্গাপূজা Durga Puja) is the biggest festival of Hindus in Bihar, West Bengal, East Bengal, Jharkhand, and Bengali Hindus all over the world. ... Hatha Yoga posture Yôga, meaning union or yoking in Sanskrit, is the primary focus of Hinduisms diverse darshans or points of view. Yôga is a science of the body, the mind, the consciousness and the soul. ... Specifically, Shaman (saman) is a term in Evenk, Manchu and other Manchu-Tungus languages for an intellectual and spiritual figure; who usually possess power and influence on other peoples in the tribe and performs several functions, one of which is analogous to the function of a healer in other cultures. ...


The philosophical and devotional underpinning of all such ritual, however, remains a pervasive vision of the Devi as supreme, absolute divinity. As expressed by the nineteenth-century saint Ramakrishna, one of the most influential figures in modern Bengali Shaktism: Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (Bangla: রামকৃষ্ণ পরমহংস Ramkrishno Pôromôhongsho), born Gadadhar Chattopadhyay (Bangla: গদাধর চট্টোপাধ্যায় Gôdadhor Chôţţopaddhae) [1], (February 18, 1836–August 16, 1886) was a Hindu religious teacher and an influential figure in the Bengal Renaissance of the Nineteenth century. ...

"Kali is none other than Brahman. That which is called Brahman is really Kali. She is the Primal Energy. When that Energy remains inactive, I call It Brahman,and when It creates, preserves, or destroys, I call It Shakti or Kali. What you call Brahman I call Kali. Brahman and Kali are not different. They are like fire and its power to burn: if one thinks of fire one must think of its power to burn. If one recognizes Kali one must also recognize Brahman; again, if one recognizes Brahman one must recognize Kali. Brahman and Its Power are identical. It is Brahman whom I address as Shakti or Kali."[53]

Major Festivals

Shaktas celebrate most major Hindu festivals (albeit sometimes with a slightly different emphasis), as well as a wide variety of local, temple-specific, and/or deity-specific observances. Some of the better-known Shakta holidays include:[54]

Oil lamps are lit in honor of the goddess Lakshmi (right) - along with Ganesha (left) - on the occasion of Diwali, the "Festival of Lights," usually held in October or November.
  • Navratri ("The Festival of Nine Nights", or "Sharad [Autumn] Navratri"): The major Shakta festival of the year (together with the tenth day, known as Dusshera or Vijayadashami) commemorates the Devi's victory over various demons in the Devi Mahatmya (discussed further below).[55]
  • Durga Puja : The last four days of Navaratri, celebrated mainly by Bengali Shaktas.[56]
  • Lakshmi Puja: Most Shaktas worship Lakshmi ceremonially at home on this, the full moon night following Durga Puja.[57]
  • Diwali ("Festival of Lights"): The major Hindu holiday of Diwali, the North Indian New Year, is held on the night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Kartik (usually October or November). Shaktas (and many non-Shaktas) consider it as another Lakshmi Puja, placing small oil lamps outside their homes and praying for the goddess to come and bless them.[58]
  • Kali Puja: Kali Puja also coincides with Diwali, with some Shakta traditions focusing their worship on Devi as Kali rather than Devi as Lakshmi. [59]
  • Saraswati Puja (Vasant Panchami): There are variant dates for Saraswati Puja, depending upon region and local tradition. Commonly, on the fifth day of the Hindu month of Phalguna (January-February), students offer their books and musical instruments to Saraswati and pray for her blessings in their studies. In some parts of India, Saraswati Puja is celebrated in the month of Magh; in others, during the final three days of Navratri.[60]
  • Vasanta Navaratri ("The Spring Festival of Nine Nights" or Chaitra Navatri): Celebrated during late spring to summer (March-April) in the Hindu month of Chaitra. Many Srividya lineages celebrate this as Lalita's Navratri (as opposed to Durga's Navratri in the autumn). Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu observes its major Navaratri celebration during this period.[61]
A gopuram (tower) of the Meenakshi Amman Temple, a Shakta temple at Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, which was nominated in the "New Seven Wonders of the World" competition in 2004.
A gopuram (tower) of the Meenakshi Amman Temple, a Shakta temple at Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, which was nominated in the "New Seven Wonders of the World" competition in 2004.
  • Meenakshi Kalyanam: The auspicious occasion of Devi's (as Meenakshi) marriage to Lord Sundareshwara (Shiva) is centered around the Meenakshi temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. It runs for 12 days, counting from the second day of the lunar month of Chaitra, in April or May.[62]
  • Ambubachi Mela: A celebration of the yearly menstruation of the goddess, held in June/July (during the monsoon season) at Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam. Here the Devi is worshiped in the form of a yoni-like stone over which a naturally red-tinted spring flows.[63]
  • Ashada Navaratri ("The Summer Festival of Nine Nights"): This Navaratri is particularly important for devotees of the boar-headed goddess Varahi, one of the seven Matrikas of the Devi Mahatmya.[64]

Image File history File links Diwalipuja. ... Image File history File links Diwalipuja. ... For other uses, see Ganesha (disambiguation). ... Diwali,or Deepawali, (also called Tihar and Swanti in Nepal) (Markiscarali) is a major Indian and Nepalese festive holiday. ... It has been suggested that Dasara be merged into this article or section. ... Vijayadashami (Hindi and Marathi: विजयादशमी, Kannada:ವಿಜಯದಶಮಿ), also known as Dussehra (Hindi: दशहरा, Kannada: ದಸರ, Marathi: दसरा) or Mohani Nakha (Nepal Bhasa:मोहनी नख:) is a festival celebrated across India. ... THE PRIMEVAL ENERGY One of the unique features of Hinduism is the fact that it conceives Divinity also as Mother Goddess. ... Shaktism focuses worship upon the Hindu Divine Mother, here manifested as Tridevi – the conjoined forms of Lakshmi , Parvati and Saraswati. ... Durga Puja (Bengali: দুর্গাপূজা Durga Puja) is the biggest festival of Hindus in Bihar, West Bengal, East Bengal, Jharkhand, and Bengali Hindus all over the world. ... Navratri or Navratra is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. ... The Bengali people are the ethnic community from Bengal (divided between India and Bangladesh) on the Indian subcontinent with a history dating back four millennia. ... Diwali,or Deepawali, (also called Tihar and Swanti in Nepal) (Markiscarali) is a major Indian and Nepalese festive holiday. ... Kaartika ( Hindi: कातिक kaatik or कार्तिक kaartik) is a month of the Hindu calendar. ... Vasant Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrating Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, and art. ... Phalguna is the twelfth month of the Hindu calendar. ... It has been suggested that Dasara be merged into this article or section. ... Chaitra (Hindi: चैत cait or चैत्र caitr) is a month of the Hindu calendar. ... Lalita (sometimes written Lalitha) is another name for Devi and means elegant or beautiful. ... Vaishno Devi Mandir (Hindi: ) is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Shakti, located in the hill of Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir, India. ... Download high resolution version (535x756, 107 KB) Source Nataraja-Shiva From fr: File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Download high resolution version (535x756, 107 KB) Source Nataraja-Shiva From fr: File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Gopuram of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam Gopuram, a prominent feature of the Hindu temple architecture of South India, is the rising tower at the entrance of a temple. ... The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. ... , Madurai   (Tamil: , IPA: ) is a city and a municipal corporation with a city population of 922,913 according to 2001 census. ... Tamil Nadu (தமிழ் நாடு, Land of the Tamils) is a state at the southern tip of India. ... Location of the New Seven Wonders winners. ... Idol of Meenakshi at the Meenakshi temple in Madurai Meenakshi is a Hindu deity - sister of Lord Vishnu and wife of Lord Shiva - worshipped primarily by South Indians in India and abroad. ... For other uses, see Siva (disambiguation). ... , Madurai   (Tamil: , IPA: ) is a city and a municipal corporation with a city population of 922,913 according to 2001 census. ... Tamil Nadu (தமிழ் நாடு, Land of the Tamils) is a state at the southern tip of India. ... Chaitra (Hindi: चैत cait or चैत्र caitr) is a month of the Hindu calendar. ... Image:Kamakhya. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Matrikas, that is, the mothers, are a band of divinities, which always appear in a group. ...

Shakti Temples

Further information: List of Shakti Temples and Shakti Peethas

There are literally thousands of Shakti temples; vast or tiny, famous or obscure. Moreover, countless cities, towns, villages and geographic landmarks are named for various forms of the Devi.[65] "In this vast country, holy resorts of the goddess are innumerable and the popularity of her cult is proved even in the place-names of India."[66] The Shakti Peethas (places of strength) are places of worship consecrated to the goddess Shakti, the female principal of Hinduism and the main deity of the Shakta sect. ...


At various times, different writers have attempted to organize some of these into lists of "Shakti Peethas"; literally "Seats of the Devi", or more broadly, "Places of Power." Numbering anywhere from four to 51 (in the most famous list, found in the Tantra Cudamani), "the peethas [became] a popular theme of the medieval writers, many of whom took he greatest liberty in fabricating the place names, the goddesses and their bhairavas [consorts]."[67] The Shakti Peethas (places of strength) are places of worship consecrated to the goddess Shakti, the female principal of Hinduism and the main deity of the Shakta sect. ...


Misperceptions

Shaktism has at times been dismissed as a superstitious, black magic-infested practice that hardly qualifies as a true religion at all. Typical of such criticism is this broadside issued by an Indian scholar in the 1920s:

"The Hindoo Goddess Karle", an illustration from Dr. Scudder's Tales for Little Readers About the Heathen, by Dr. John Scudder (London, 1849).
"The Hindoo Goddess Karle", an illustration from Dr. Scudder's Tales for Little Readers About the Heathen, by Dr. John Scudder (London, 1849).

"The Tantras are the bible of Shaktism, [...] identifying all Force with the female principle in nature and teaching an undue adoration of the wives of Shiva and Vishnu to the neglect of their male counterparts. [...] It is certain that a vast number of the inhabitants of India are guided in their daily life by Tantrik teaching, and are in bondage to the gross superstitions inculcated in these writings. And indeed it can scarcely be doubted that Shaktism is Hinduism arrived at its worst and most corrupt stage of development."[68] Image File history File links 103. ... Image File history File links 103. ...

These prejudices are based principally on ignorance and misunderstanding – both on the part of uninformed observers and unscrupulous practitioners of the left-handed Tantric practices traditionally associated with some Shakta systems. "It is in this context that many Hindus in India today deny the relevance of Tantra to their tradition, past or present, identifying what they call tantra-mantra as so much mumbo-jumbo."[69]

Further muddying the waters, "a number of Indian and Western spiritual entrepreneurs have been offering 'Tantric Sex' to a mainly American and European clientele for the past several decades. Presenting the entire history of Tantra as a unified, monolithic 'cult of ecstacy' and assuming that all that has smacked of eroticism in Indian culture is by definition Tantric, New Age Tantra eclectically blends together Indian erotics, techniques of massage, Ayurveda, and yoga into a single invented tradition [...] pitched at a leisured populace of seekers who treat 'Tantric sex' as a consumer product."[70] Shirodhara, one of the techniques of Ayurveda Ayurveda (Devanagari: ) or Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient system of health care that is native to the Indian subcontinent. ...

Nor is it uncommon to encounter assertions that the Shaiva and Vaishnava schools of Hinduism lead to moksha, or spiritual liberation, whereas Shaktism leads merely to siddhis (occult powers) and bhukti (material enjoyments) – or, at best (according to some Shaiva interpreters), to Shaivism.[71] Such claims are dismissed by serious theologians within Shaktism:[72] Åšaivism, also transliterated Shaivism and Saivism, is a branch of Hinduism that worships Siva as the Supreme God. ... Vaishnavism is the branch of Hinduism in which Vishnu or one of his avatars (i. ... For other uses, see Moksha (disambiguation). ... Not to be confused with the African-descended Siddi people of India (though sometimes spelt in the same way). ...

"Each of the [Divine Mother's] vidyas [aspects of wisdom, i.e. forms] is a Brahma Vidya [path to Supreme Wisdom]. The sadhaka of any one of these [Shakta paths] attains ultimately, if his aspiration is such, the supreme purpose of life – self-realisation and God-realisation, [for] realising the Goddess is not different from [realising] one's self."[73]

Expansion Beyond South Asia

The practice of Shaktism is no longer confined to South Asia. Traditional Shakta temples have sprung up across Southeast Asia, the Americas, Europe, Australia and elsewhere – some enthusiastically attended by non-Indian as well as Indian diaspora Hindus. Examples in the United States include the Kali Mandir in Laguna Beach, California[74]; and Sri Rajarajeshwari Peetam[75], a Srividya Shakta temple in rural Rush, New York, which was recently the subject an in-depth academic monograph exploring the "dynamics of diaspora Hinduism," including the serious entry and involvement of non-Indians in traditional Hindu religious practice.[76] Location of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia is a subregion of Asia. ... World map showing the Americas CIA political map of the Americas The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere or New World, consisting of the continents of North America[1] and South America with their associated islands and regions. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... NRI redirects here. ...

A modern Western representation of the goddess Kali.

Shaktism has also become a focus of some Western spiritual seekers attempting to construct new Goddess-centered faiths.[77] An academic study of Western Kali enthusiasts noted that, "as shown in the histories of all cross-cultural religious transplants, Kali devotionalism in the West must take on its own indigenous forms if it is to adapt to its new environment."[78] However, these East-West fusions can also raise complex and troubling issues of cultural appropriation: Image File history File links Size of this preview: 455 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (576 × 759 pixel, file size: 1,020 KB, MIME type: image/png) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 455 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (576 × 759 pixel, file size: 1,020 KB, MIME type: image/png) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... This article or section includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. ...

"A variety of writers and thinkers [...] have found Kali an exciting figure for reflection and exploration, notably feminists and participants in New Age spirituality who are attracted to goddess worship. [For them], Kali is a symbol of wholeness and healing, associated especially with repressed female power and sexuality. [However, such interpretations often exhibit] confusion and misrepresentation, stemming from a lack of knowledge of Hindu history among these authors, [who only rarely] draw upon materials written by scholars of the Hindu religious tradition. The majority instead rely chiefly on other popular feminist sources, almost none of which base their interpretations on a close reading of Kali's Indian background. [...] The most important issue arising from this discussion – even more important than the question of 'correct' interpretation – concerns the adoption of other people's religious symbols. [...] It is hard to import the worship of a goddess from another culture: religious associations and connotations have to be learned, imagined or intuited when the deep symbolic meanings embedded in the native culture are not available."[79] Feminists redirects here. ... New Age describes a broad movement characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture. ...

Another powerful motivation behind Western interest in Shaktism has been suggested by Linda Johnsen, a popular writer on Eastern spirituality, who asserts that many central concepts of Shaktism – including aspects of kundalini yoga, as well as goddess worship – were once "common to the Hindu, Chaldean, Greek and Roman civilizations," but were largely lost to the West, as well as the Near and Middle East, with the rise of the Abrahamic religions: Kundalini yoga is a physical and meditative discipline, comprising a set of simple techniques that uses the mind, senses and body to create a communication between mind and body. Kundalini yoga focuses on psycho-spiritual growth and the bodys potential for maturation, giving special consideration to the role of... Babylonia was a state in southern Mesopotamia, in modern Iraq, combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. ... Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. ... Abrahamic religions symbols designating the three prevalent monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam Abrahamic religion is a term commonly used to designate the three prevalent monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam[1][2] – which claim Abraham (Hebrew: Avraham אַבְרָהָם ; Arabic: Ibrahim ابراهيم ) as a part of their sacred history. ...

"Of these four great ancient civilizations, working knowledge of the inner forces of enlightenment has survived on a mass scale only in India. Only in India has the inner tradition of the Goddess endured. This is the reason the teachings of India are so precious. They offer us a glimpse of what our own ancient wisdom must have been. The Indians have preserved our lost heritage. [...] Today it is up to us to locate and restore the tradition of the living Goddess. We would do well to begin our search in India, where for not one moment in all of human history have the children of the living Goddess forgotten their Divine Mother."[80]

Notes

  1. ^ Subramuniyaswami, p. 1211.
  2. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 1.
  3. ^ "Bengali Shakta."
  4. ^ Dikshitar, p. 85.
  5. ^ Dikshitar, p. 85.
  6. ^ Dikshitar, p. 77-78.
  7. ^ Srimad Devi Bhagavatam, VII.33.13-15, cited in Brown(a), p. 186.
  8. ^ Brown(a), p. 217.
  9. ^ Brown(a), p. 218.
  10. ^ Mohan's World.
  11. ^ Brooks(a), p. 48.
  12. ^ Brooks(a), pp. 47-72.
  13. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 131.
  14. ^ Woodroffe, pp. 376-412.
  15. ^ Hauser, Scott, "Rediscovering a Lost Spiritual 'Book'," Rochester Review, Spring 2006, Vol. 68, No. 3.
  16. ^ Brooks(a), p. xii.
  17. ^ See Kinsley(a).
  18. ^ See Kinsley(a).
  19. ^ Shankarnarayanan(a), pp. 4, 5.
  20. ^ See Kinsley(b).
  21. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 126.
  22. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 128.
  23. ^ Joshi, M. C., "Historical and Iconographical Aspects of Shakta Tantrism," in Harper, p. 39.
  24. ^ Bhattacharyya(b), p. 148.
  25. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 6.
  26. ^ Brown(a), p. ix.
  27. ^ Krishna Warrier, pp. ix-x.
  28. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 164.
  29. ^ See Dikshitar, Ch. I and II.
  30. ^ Brown(b), pp. 8, 17, 10, 21, 320.
  31. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 124.
  32. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 154.
  33. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), pp. 203-204.
  34. ^ Pechilis, pp. 3.
  35. ^ Hawley, John, "The Goddess in India," in Hawley, p. 4.
  36. ^ Hawley. p. 2.
  37. ^ Subramuniyaswami, p. 1211.
  38. ^ Subramuniyaswami, p. 1211.
  39. ^ Brooks(b), back cover.
  40. ^ Brooks(a), p. xiii.
  41. ^ Brooks(b), pp. 59-60.
  42. ^ A senior member of Guru Mandali, Madurai, November 1984, cited in Brooks(b), p. 56.
  43. ^ White, p. 219.
  44. ^ (a)Bhattacharyya, p. 209.
  45. ^ Brooks(a), p. 28.
  46. ^ Johnsen(a), p. 202.
  47. ^ Brooks(a), p. 28.
  48. ^ Active (and non-commercial) discussions of Samaya theory can be found at the Sri Rajarajeshwari Kripa, while lively (and also non-commercial) Kaula discussions take place at the Shakti Sadhana website and its associated mailing list.
  49. ^ "Bengali Shakta."
  50. ^ "Bengali Shakta."
  51. ^ "Bengali Shakta."
  52. ^ "Bengali Shakta."
  53. ^ Nikhilananda, p. 734.
  54. ^ Pattanaik, pp. 103-109.
  55. ^ "5 Things You Need to Know About Navratri: The 9 Divine Nights," About Hinduism.
  56. ^ "Durga Puja," DurgaPuja.org.
  57. ^ "Lakshmi: Goddess of Wealth & Beauty! What You Need to Know," About Hinduism.
  58. ^ "Diwali Festival", DiwaliFestival.org.
  59. ^ "Kali Pooja in Bengal," Diwali Festival.org.
  60. ^ "Saraswati Pooja," Saraswati Pooja.
  61. ^ "About Vasanta Navratri," About Hinduism.
  62. ^ "Celebrate Meenakshi Kalyanam", BlessingsontheNet.com
  63. ^ "Celebrating the Divine Female Principle." Boloji.com
  64. ^ "Regaling Varahi with different 'alankarams' in 'Ashada Navaratri'," July 24, 2007, The Hindu.
  65. ^ Pattanaik, pp. 110-114.
  66. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 172.
  67. ^ Bhattacharyya(a), p. 171.
  68. ^ Kapoor, p. 157.
  69. ^ White, p. 262.
  70. ^ White, pp. xii - xiii.
  71. ^ Subramuniyaswami, p. 1211.
  72. ^ Shankarnarayanan(a), p. 5.
  73. ^ Shankarnarayanan(a), p. 5.
  74. ^ Kali Mandir<http://www.kalimandir.org>
  75. ^ Sri Rajarajeshwari Peetham<http://www.srividya.org>
  76. ^ See Dempsey.
  77. ^ For example, "Shakti Wicca" and Sha'can
  78. ^ Fell McDermett, Rachel, "The Western Kali," in Hawley, p. 305.
  79. ^ Fell in Hawley, pp. 281-305.
  80. ^ Johnsen(b), pp. 176, 181.

References

  • Anonymous (author), Doniger O'Flaherty, Wendy (translator), The Rig Veda: An Anthology. Penguin Classics Books (London, 1981).
  • "Bengali Shakta," World Culture Encyclopedia, South Asia.
  • (a) Bhattacharyya, N. N., History of the Sakta Religion, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd. (New Delhi, 1974, 2d ed. 1996).
  • (b) Bhattacharyya, N. N., The Indian Mother Goddess, South Asia Books (New Delhi, 1970, 2d ed. 1977).
  • Bolon, Carol Radcliffe, Forms of the Goddess Lajja Gauri in Indian Art, The Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, Penn., 1992).
  • (a) Brooks, Douglas Renfrew, The Secret of the Three Cities: An Introduction to Hindu Shakta Tantrism, The University of Chicago Press (Chicago, 1990).
  • (b) Brooks, Douglas Renfrew, Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and Traditions of Srividya Shakta Tantrism in South India, State University of New York Press (Albany, 1992).
  • (a) Brown, C. MacKenzie, The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Issues of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, State University of New York Press (Suny Series in Hindu Studies, 1991).
  • (b) Brown, C. Mackenzie. The Devi Gita: The Song of the Goddess: A Translation, Annotation and Commentary. State University of New York Press (Albany, 1998).
  • Coburn, Thomas B., Encountering the Goddess: A translation of the Devi-Mahatmya and a Study of Its Interpretation. State University of New York Press (Albany, 1991).
  • Dempsey, Corinne G., The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York: Breaking Convention and Making Home at a North American Hindu Temple. Oxford University Press (New York, 2006).
  • Dikshitar, V. R. Ramachandra, The Lalita Cult, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd. (Delhi, 1942, 2d ed. 1991, 3d ed. 1999).
  • Erndl, Kathleen M., Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual, and Symbol, Oxford University Press (New York, 1992).
  • Harper, Katherine (ed.), The Roots of Tantra, State University of New York Press (Albany, 2002).
  • Hawley, John Stratton (ed.) and Wulff, Donna Marie (ed.), Devi: Goddesses of India. University of California Press (Berkeley, 1996).
  • (a) Johnsen, Linda. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism. Alpha Books (Indianapolis, Ind., 2002).
  • (b) Johnsen, Linda, The Living Goddess: Reclaiming the Tradition of the Mother of the Universe." Yes International Publishers (St. Paul, Minn., 1999).
  • Joshi, L. M., Lalita Sahasranama: A Comprehensive Study of the One Thousand Names of Lalita Maha-tripurasundari. D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd (New Delhi, 1998).
  • Kali, Davadatta, In Praise of the Goddess: The Devimahatmya and Its Meaning. Nicolas-Hays, Inc., Berwick, Maine, 2003).
  • Kapoor, Subodh, A Short Introduction to Sakta Philosophy, Indigo Books (New Delhi, 2002, reprint of c. 1925 ed.).
  • (a) Kinsley, David. Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. University of California Press (Berkeley, 1988).
  • (b) Kinsley, David. Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas. University of California Press (Berkeley, 1997).
  • Krishna Warrier, Dr. A.J., The Sākta Upaniṣad-s, The Adyar Library and Research Center, Library Series, Vol. 89; Vasanta Press (Chennai, 1967, 3d. ed. 1999).
  • Kumar, Girish, "Introduction to Tantra Sastra, Part I." Interview with Sri Girish Kumar, former director of Tantra Vidhya Peethama, Kerala, India, Mohan's World
  • Müller, F. Max (translator), The Upanishads. Realization.org
  • Nikhilananda, Swami (trans.), The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center (New York, 1942, 9th ed. 2000).
  • Pattanaik, Devdutt, Devi the Mother-Goddess: An Introduction. Vakils, Feffer and Simons Ltd. (Mumbai, 2000).
  • Pechilis, Karen (ed.), The Graceful Guru: Hindu Female Gurus in India and the United States. Oxford University Press (New York, 2004).
  • Sarma, Dr. S. A., Kena Upanisad: A Study From Sakta Perspective. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Mumbai, 2001).
  • (a) Shankarnarayanan, S., The Ten Great Cosmic Powers: Dasa Mahavidyas. Samata Books (Chennai, 1972; 4th ed. 2002).
  • (b) Shankarnarayanan, S., Sri Chakra. Samata Books (Chennai, 1971; 4th ed. 2002).
  • Subramuniyaswami, Satguru Sivaya, Merging with Siva: Hinduism's Contemporary Metaphysics, Himalayan Academy (Hawaii, USA, 1999).
  • Suryanarayana Murthy, Dr. C., Sri Lalita Sahasranama with Introduction and Commentary. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Mumbai, 2000. Rep. of 1962 ed.).
  • Urban, Hugh B., Tantra: Sex, Secrecy, Politics and Power in the Study of Religion, University of California Press (Berkeley, 2003).
  • White, David Gordon, Kiss of the Yogini: "Tantric Sex" in its South Asian Contexts, The University of Chicago Press (Chicago, 2003).
  • Winternitz, M., History of Indian Literature, 2 vols. (Calcutta, 1927, 1933, rep., New Delhi, 1973).
  • Woodroffe, Sir John, Sakti and Sakta: Essays and Addresses, Ganesh & Company (Madras, 9th Ed. 1987, reprint of 1927 edition).

Further reading

  • McDaniel, June, Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal, Oxford University Press (2004). (ISBN 0195167902)
  • Ostor, Akos, The Play of the Gods: Locality, Ideology, Structure and Time in the Festivals of a Bengali Town, University of Chicago Press (1980). (ISBN 0-226-63954-1)
  • Satyananda Saraswati, Swami, Cosmic Puja, Devi Mandir (2001). (ISBN 1-877795-70-4)
  • Sen, Ramprasad, Grace and Mercy in Her Wild Hair : Selected Poems to the Mother Goddess. (ISBN 0-934252-94-7)

External Links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Shaktism - Biocrawler (452 words)
Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that worships Shakti, the Divine Mother, in all of her forms whilst not rejecting the importance of masculine and neuter divinity.
In Shaktism, as Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, along with other scholars, noted, emphasis is given to the feminine manifest by which the masculine Un-manifest Parasiva is ultimately reached.
Shaktism as we know it today developed between the 4th and the 7th centuries CE in India.
Uttarakhand Information Centre - Shaktism (634 words)
Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that worships Shakti, or Devi -- the Hindu name for the Great Mother -- in all of her forms whilst not rejecting the importance of masculine and neuter divinity.
In pure Shaktism, the Great Goddess, or Devi, is worshiped as nothing less than the highest divinity, Supreme Brahman Itself, the "one without a second," with all other forms of Divinity, female or male, considered to be merely her diverse manifestations.
Thus, these Shaivite views often conclude that Shaktism is effectively a sub-denomination of Saivism, arguing that Devi is worshipped in order to attain union with Siva, who in Shaktism is the impersonal unmanifest Absolute.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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