Edited Extracts from
By Swami Sivananda Saraswati
The power or active aspect of the immanent God is Sakti. Sakti is the embodiment of power. She is the supporter of the vast universe. She is the supreme power by which the world is upheld. She is the Universal Mother. There is no difference between God and His Sakti, just as there is no difference between fire and its burning power.
He who worships Sakti, that is, God in Mother form, as the supreme power which creates, sustains and withdraws the universe, is a Sakta. All women are forms of the Divine Mother.
Siva is the unchanging consciousness. Sakti is His changing power which appears as mind and matter.
A Sakta does Sadhana which helps the union of Siva and Sakti, through the awakening of the forces within the body. He becomes a Siddha in the Sadhana, when he is able to awaken Kundalini and pierce the six Chakras. This is to be done in a perfect practical way under the guidance of a Guru who has become perfect. The Sakti must be awakened by Dhyana, by Bhava, by Japa, by Mantra-Sakti. Sadhana means unfolding, rousing up or awakening of power or Sakti. Mode of Sadhana depends upon the tendencies and capacities of the Sadhaka.
Sakti may be termed as that by which we live and have our being in this universe. In this world all the wants of the child are provided by the mother. The child’s growth, development and sustenance are looked after by the mother. Even so, all the necessaries of life and its activities in this world and the energy needed for it, depend upon Sakti or the Universal Mother.
No one can free himself from the thraldom of mind and matter without Mother’s grace. The fetters of Maya are too hard to break. If you worship Her as the great Mother, you can very easily go beyond Prakriti through Her benign grace and blessings. She will remove all obstacles in the path and lead you safely into the illimitable domain of eternal bliss and make you free. When She is pleased and bestows Her blessings on you, then alone you can free yourself from the bondage of this formidable Samsara.
The Supreme Lord is represented as Siva and His power is represented as his consort, Sakti. Just as the husband and wife look after the well-being of the family, so also Lord Siva and His Sakti are engaged in looking after the affairs of the world.
She is at the centre of the universe. She is in Muladhara Chakra in our bodies. She vitalises the body through the Sushumna. She vitalises the universe from the summit of Mount Meru.
In this system of Sakti philosophy, Siva is omnipresent, impersonal, inactive. He is pure consciousness. Sakti is dynamic. Sakti Tattva and Siva Tattva are inseparable. Siva is always with Sakti. The creative aspect of the Supreme Siva is called Siva Tattva. Siva Tattva is the first creative movement. Sakti Tattva is the will of Siva. It is the seed and womb of the entire world.
Knowledge of Sakti leads to salvation. “Saktijnanam vina devi nirvanam naiva jayate—O Devi without the knowledge of Sakti, Mukti cannot be attained” (Isvara says to Devi). The Jiva or the individual soul thinks when he is under the influence of Maya that he is the doer and the enjoyer and identifies himself with the body. Through the grace of Sakti and through Sadhana or self-culture, the individual soul frees himself from all fetters, attains spiritual insight and merges himself in the Supreme.
There is in reality nothing but the One Self. The experienced is nothing but the experiencer.
Sakti is pure, blissful Consciousness. She is the Mother of Nature. She is Nature itself. She is power of Lord Siva or Brahman. She runs this world-show. She maintains the sportive play or Lila of the Lord.
Sakti is always with Siva. They are inseparable like fire and heat.
The countless universes are only dust of Divine Mother’s holy feet. Her glory is ineffable. Her splendour is indescribable. Her greatness is unfathomable. She showers Her grace on Her sincere devotees. She leads the individual soul from Chakra to Chakra, from plane to plane and unifies him with Lord Siva in the Sahasrara.
The body is Sakti. The needs of the body are the needs of Sakti. When a man enjoys, it is Sakti who enjoys through him. His eyes, ears, hands and feet are Hers. She sees through his eyes, hears through his ears. Body, mind, Prana, egoism, intellect, organs and all the other functions are Her manifestations.
Saktism speaks of personal and the impersonal aspects of Godhead. Brahman is Nishkala or without Prakriti and Sakala or with Prakriti. The Vedantin speaks of Nirupadhika Brahman (Pure Nirguna Brahman without Maya) and Sopadhika Brahman (with Upadhi or Maya) or Saguna Brahman. It is all the same. Names only are different. It is a play of words. People fight on word only, carry on lingual warfare, hair-splitting, logical chopping and intellectual gymnastics. In reality the essence is one. Clay is the truth. All the modifications such as pot, etc., are in name only. In Nirguna Brahman, Sakti is potential, whereas in Saguna Brahman, it is kinetic or dynamic.
The Sakti enjoys Bhukti (enjoyment in the world) and Mukti (liberation from all worlds). Siva is an embodiment of Bliss and Knowledge. Siva Himself appears in the form of man with a life—mixture of pleasure and pain. If you remember this point always, all dualism, all hatred, jealousy, pride will vanish. You must consider every human function as worship or a religious act. Answering calls of nature, talking, eating, walking, seeing, hearing, become worship of Lord, if you develop the right attitude. It is Siva who works in and through man. Where then is egoism or individuality? All human actions are divine actions. One universal life throbs in the hearts of all, sees in the eyes of all, works in the hands of all, hears in the ears of all. What a magnificent experience it is, if one can feel this by crushing this little ‘I’! The old Samskaras, the old Vasanas, the old habits of thinking, stand in the way of your realising this experience—Whole.
The aspirant thinks that the world is identical with the Divine Mother. He moves about thinking his own form to be the form of the Divine Mother and thus beholds oneness everywhere. He also feels that the Divine Mother is identical with Para Brahman.
The advanced Sadhaka feels: “I am the Devi and the Devi is in me”. He worships himself as Devi instead of adoring any external object. He says: “Sa-aham—I am She (Devi)”.
Saktism is not a mere theory or philosophy. It prescribes systematic Sadhana of Yoga, regular discipline, according to the temperament, capacity and degree of evolution of the Sadhaka. It helps the aspirant to arouse the Kundalini and unite Her with Lord Siva and enjoy the Supreme Bliss or Nirvikalpa Samadhi. When Kundalini sleeps, man is awake to the world. He has objective consciousness. When She awakes, he sleeps. He loses all consciousness of the world and becomes one with the Lord. In Samadhi, the body is maintained by the nectar which flows from the union of Siva and Sakti with Sahasrara.
Worship of the Divine Mother with intense faith and perfect devotion and self-surrender will help you to attain Her grace. Through Her grace alone, you can attain knowledge of the Imperishable.
May Her blessings be upon you all!
OM TAT SAT