SHAKTI (POWER)

Vedic Articles
  • Shakti (power) has many forms in an individual’s life – the power of the body, the power of intelligence, the power of the mind, the power of the pranas, the power of nurturing and destroying, the power of emotions and frenzy, the power of cooperation etc. The Indian philosophy is replete with the words that denote shakti. All the definitions of shakti are applicable in the life of an individual, whether it is spiritual or material or supernatural power. It is maya (illusion) which seems to be appearing in different forms of power.

    Different meanings have been arrived at by dividing the word ‘shakti’ into ‘sh’ and ‘kti.’ According to Vedvyas ‘sh’ means richness and ‘kti’ signifies bravery. shakti, therefore, means the one whose form is constituted by richness and bravery or one who is the giver of richness and bravery. There are eight forms of aishwarya (thought of God) – anima, mahima, garima, laghima, prapti, prakamya, ishitva and vashitva. Aishwaryya can be obtained only through valour.

    After satisfying his hunger, an individual’s shadow assumes the form of shakti (power). He moves forward by fulfilling his desires one by one. He involves himself in acquiring wealth and through wealth he conserves his powers. He begins to control the power of means, power of position and that of respect. He begins to feel as though he were the embodiment of power itself. The identity of an individual is established through power. In fact, power is paramount everywhere. According to early scriptures the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, too, can not do anything without shakti. That is the glory of shakti. Brahm, in itself, is inactive. It is its power of Maya that expands him and presents him in different forms. In our country those who worship shakti are known as ‘shaakt.’ Those who worship Lord Shiva are known as ‘shaiva.’ In fact, Maya, the embodiment of shakti, is all pervasive and she alone is turning the wheel of samsara.

    Just as there are external forms of shakti, so are its internal forms. We have three kinds of bodies, the gross, the subtle and the causal. Each body has its own parts and its own pranas. In the centre of each individual is seated the shodasi purusha. We are born of the union of adhidevik, adhibhotik and adhyatmik levels. The powers inherent in the above operate in us in different proportions. Our body is made up of the five elements. Brahma, Vishnu and Indra reside in our heart as our pranas. In proportion to our external powers, the storehouse within us is infinite.

    In the shaakt tradition one can come across many experiments for the awakening of these powers. The early scriptures tell us that yoga was an essential part of the initial practices relating to the awakening of shakti. The aim was the awakening of Kundalini. Thereafter, the sect included five more practices beginning with the letter ‘m’. These included use of liquor, eating of meat, copulation etc. The pure theoretical part was vitiated. Dignagacharya propounded a new principle which stated that the mind should remain pious even when the elements of corruption are present in the environment. On this basis both liquor and women became integral part of the worship of shakti. Today the entire shaakt movement is influenced by these five negative practices. The aim of eliminating perversion was lost sight of and liquor and women which have in them the power to corrupt human beings became dominant. The invoking of the shabar mantra became popular and the shaakt sect was stigmatized.

    After satisfying the primary need of hunger, the aim of life should be the development of inner powers so that man may move away from avidya and enter the domain of vidya and his path to dharma, knowledge, detachment and prosperity may widen. Unfortunately, the gross form of the Maya grips man today. He remains engrossed in satisfying his egotism all his life. This, too, is the nescient form of Maya.

    In practice too one can see that man wants to remain surrounded by woman and wine after acquiring wealth and power. Both woman and wine have become synonyms of power. Woman has all the powers of Maya which go a long way in beguiling a man. They do not allow him to come out of avidya. tamoguna (the dark nature) remains dominant in the individual. That is why yoga came to the fore.

    The moment a man focuses attention on his inner powers, he begins to develop the same. Having once tasted them, man forgets everything else. Their experience and their effect on life provide a new kind of ananda (bliss). It is shakti that makes man all in all or all powerful as he progresses. It gives him the divine power of Siva.