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Topic: the Chakras
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Shiva and Shakti

The Tantrics call the Self-creative Power of the Supreme Absolute Shakti (usually transliterated as "S'akti"), from the Sanskrit root S'ak, "to be able, to have force to do, to act" [Arthur Avalon, Shakti and Shakta, Dover books, p.  ].

Without Shakti, there is no Creation.  As the Bengali Shakta Tantrics are fond of saying: "Shiva (the Absolute Consciousness-Being) without Shakti is a corpse" (i.e. lifeless, inert).  Hence there must also be a Power of manifestation.  This is Shakti.

So the Absolute Reality is made up of two fundamental principles: Shiva, the Absolute in its own essential, perfect, unchanging, non-dual Consciousness, nature; and Shakti, which is that Absolute's own Power of self-manifestation.  As Jaideva Singh explains, "Shakti is nothing separate from Shiva, but is Shiva Himself in His creative aspect" [p.9].

Shiva is nivritti (state of rest) and Shakti is pravritti (state of activity), in the ultimate state they remain in a union of  oneness.  This is the principle of non-duality (advaya) which is  described in the Tantric texts in terms of maithuma (sexual intercourse) or kama-kala ("unit of desire").  One text, the  Kama-kala-vilasa describes Shiva or Mahesha as pure illumination  or self-shining (prakasha-matra-tanu) with all the principles of  activity contracted within it.  Shakti the seed of the future world (bhavi-chachara-bijam).  Shiva realises himself through Shakti, reflection [Shashibhusan Dasgupta, Obscure Religious Cults, p.333 (1969 Firma KLM Private Ltd, Calcutta)]




Abhinavagupta on the Absolute Godhead



no photo available cover
Shakti and Shakta
by Arthur Avalon
Sakti Sadhana: Steps to Samadhi - A Translation of the Tripura Rahasya
by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait


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page uploaded 28 May 1998, last modified 16 April 2007