Shaktaism

 Maha Meru

Shakthaism

In the details of its philosophy and practice, Shaktism resembles Shaivism. However, Shaktas  practitioners of Shaktism, focus most or all worship on Shakti, as the dynamic feminine aspect of the Supreme Divine. Shaktism regards Devi  ‘the Goddess’ as 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.

Shiva, the masculine aspect of divinity, is considered solely transcendent, and his worship is usually relegated to an auxiliary role.

Over the course of its history, Shaktism has inspired great works of Sanskrit literature and Hindu philosophy, and it continues to strongly influence popular Hinduism today. Shaktism is practiced throughout the Indian subcontinent and beyond, in numerous forms, both Tantric and non-Tantric; however, its two largest and most visible schools are the Srikula (lit., family of Sri), strongest in South India, and the Kalikula (family of Kali), which prevails in northern and eastern India.

Shaktas may approach the Devi in any of a vast number of forms; however, they are all considered to be but diverse aspects of the one supreme goddess.

With the many names used to refer to her – Devī, CHandika, Ambika, Kali, and a profusion of others – it is easy to forget that the Devi is indeed one.

In the Shakta scripture Devi Mahatmyam, the Devi reveals that she is one without a second, saying, “I am alone here in the world. Who else is there besides me?” Following this proclamation of divine unity, which has been called the mahavakya, or great dictum of Devimahatmya, she explains that all other goddesses are but projections of her power, as are all the other forms she inhabits.

The primary Devi form worshiped by a Shakta is his or her ishta-devi. The selection of this deity can depend 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. Nonetheless, several highly popular 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:

Adi Parashakti (Shree Bhagavathy): The Goddess as Original, Transcendent Source of the Universe.

Durga (Amba, Ambika): The Goddess as Mahadevi, Material Manifestation of Supreme Divinity (Brahman)

Lakshmi (Sri): The Goddess of Material Fulfillment (wealth, health, fortune, love, beauty, fertility, etc.); consort (shakti) of Vishnu

Parvati (Gauri, Uma): The Goddess of Spiritual Fulfillment (divine love; the saguna [i.e. having material qualities] form of Adi-Parashakti); consort (shakti) of Shiva

Saraswati: The Goddess of Cultural Fulfillment (knowledge/education, music, arts and sciences, etc.); consort (shakti) of Brahma; identified with the Sarasvati River

Gayatri: The Goddess as Mother of Mantras

Ganga: The Goddess as Divine River; identified with the Ganges River

Sita: The Goddess as Rama’s consort

Radha: The Goddess as Krishna’s lover

Sati (goddess) (Uma): The Goddess of Marital relations; original consort (shakti) of Shiva

The majority of the worship is to Durga or Kali. Durga as such is rarely worshiped, Durga is rather a general terminology for mother goddess, mostly her deity are worshiped in temple the name of Bhagavathy or Mahadevi, A generalized term used in temples for worshiping Mother Goddess etc. In that, most of the temples for doing rites assume certain forms of Durga as the deity, E.g. The Bhagavathy Temple of Kanyakumari is a Durga or Devi temple, but the Sankalpa is that of Devi Kathyayani. Any of the Navadurga is considered as Sankalpa while worshiping Devi Durga. The Navadurga are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Kathyayini, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, Siddhidaatri; these are the forms of Durga for worshiping.

Kali is directly worshiped as such in the form of Bhadrakali ( Mahamaya Kali, ‘Bha’ means delution or maya and ‘dra’ is a superlative means the most or the mightiest, in south India and Maha Kali in Bengal region.

“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.

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