The Shakti Principle

The Shakti Principle
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

In the traditional idea of Shakti we find a blending of two elements, one empirical and the other speculative. On the empirical side the idea of Shakti is associated with cosmogony. It has been the un- contradicted experience of man from the dawn of understanding that there cannot be any origination whatsoever without the union of the two principles of Shiva and Shakti, the Male and Female aspects. The human analogy was naturally extended to the universe as a whole, and thus we came to the concept of the primordial Father and Mother.

In India, from the age of the Indus civilisation of Harappa and Mohanjoi-daro down to the present, the Father God is represented by a linga (the male symbol) and The Mother Goddess by the yoni (the female symbol). This conceptual representation of Shiva and Shakti by the linga-yoni is quite common and in many temples the two are worshipped in their symbolic form. In both Hindu and Buddhist literature the lord (male deity) is symbolically represented by a white dot (shveta bindu) thus suggesting the likeness with semen, while the devi (female deity) is symbolically represented by a red dot (rakta bindu) to suggest the analogy with menstrual blood containing the ovum.


From the speculative side it was observed that everything which existed, did so by virtue of its power or powers. So God who exists as the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe must possess infinite power through which He creates, maintains and destroys. In. fact, His very being presupposes infinite power by virtue of which He himself exists. This belief is a universal one. Tantrics tend to view this power or universal energy as something like a female counterpart of the possessor of the power. Shakti, being conceived as the counterpart of the possessor (Shiva), came to be recognised as the consort of Shiva.

This is responsible for the fact that, not only in the Shakti tradition (believers in Shakti in whatever form as the supreme deity) but in almost all other traditions - the Saivas (believers in Shiva as the supreme) the Sauras (believers in the Sun), the Ganapatyas (believers in Ganesha), and the Vaishnavas (believers in Vishnu) - an important place is occupied by Shakti. There is seldom a god or demi- god for whom a consort is not conceived as an inseparable shakti.

A strong belief in this Shakti has brought about a popular synthesis among philosophies like Sankhya, Vedanta, Vaishnavism and Tantra. Sankhya speaks of 'Purusha' and 'Prakriti' as two independent and ultimate realities whose interaction is a mere attribute resulting from the contact of the two. In the Puranas and other literature. Prakriti is plainly conceived of as being the female counterpart of Purusha, and as such the two realities have been practically identified with the Shakti and Shiva of the Tantras. In a similar manner the principle of Maya (illusion) has been conceived as the Shakti of Brahman, These pairs were later viewed in the form of Vishnu and his Shakti, Lakshmi: of Sita and Ram, and later of Radha and Krishna. Thus, in popular belief, Shiva-Shakti of the Tantras, Purusha-Prakriti of Sankhya, Brahman-Maya of Vedanta, and Vishnu- Lakshmi, Sita-Ram and Radha-Krishna of Vaishnavism, all mean the same.

The philosophy of Shakti is clearly suggested by the two passages in the Brihadaranyak Upanishad (1:4, 1:3) where it is said that in the beginning was the Cosmic Being as the Atman in human form, who could never feel satisfied and content for he was all alone. So he desired a complementary aspect. His being was something like a natural point where the ultimate principles of male and female lay unified as it were in a deep embrace. He divided himself into two, male and female, which formed the first pair, and all the pairs of creation are said to be the replicas of this original pair.

These passages of the Brihadaranyak Upanishad have been used extensively in the Puranas, Tantras and later Buddhist and Vaishnava Sahajiya in which Shakti played an important part. Whatever has been created in this phenomenal process has been created from the union of the two- energy and matter, the consumer and the consumed. They represent the two aspects of the one non-dual truth, one internal and the other external; one illuminating, unchangeable and immortal and the other obstructive, gross and perishable.

Distinct mention of the various powers of God is found in the Swetaswatar Upanishad, in which it is said"'Various powers are heard of this Brahman. It possesses power as knowledge and power as force or activity by virtue of its very nature." (6:8)."Know Maya (the unspeakable mysterious power) as Prakriti and the possessor of the Maya as the Great Lord Maheshwara (a name of Shiva)" (4:10)."He who is one and colourless brings forth various colours through the agency of his various types of powers" (4:1), The possessor of Maya created the universe, and beings are fettered by his Maya.

Vaishnavism & Shaivism

The elaboration of this Shakti-vada is to be found in most of the Puranas, Upa-Puranas, samhitas and mainly in the Tantras, both Hindu and Buddhist. There is no systematic discussion on the philosophy of Shakti in the Puranas, even in the Markan day a Purana, which contains the Chandi, the most important text of The Mother worshipers in India; discussion on Shakti in the Puranas is sporadic and scrappy. The main discussions are found in Tantric literatures. So far as the Hindu tantras are concerned, they seem to have flourished in the two borders of India-Kashmir in the north-western border and Bengal, the easternmost province.

So far as the tantric literature of Bengal is concerned, scholars are disposed to think that none of these texts were composed earlier than the 10th century A.D. The tradition of the tantras in Kashmir seems to be earlier. The well-known Trika school of Kashmir Shaivism seems to have derived many of its ideas from the earlier tantras of Kashmir, some of which have been quoted and referred to in important texts of Shaivism. The Kashmir school of Shaivism most probably flourished between the 9th and 10th century A.D.

Some of the tantric texts must have been composed earlier but it has to be noted that some of the Samhita texts belonging to the Pancharatna school of Vaishnavism (sometimes referred to in the Trika school of Kashmir Shaivism) were composed earlier than the Shaivite texts, and the Ahirabudhya Samhita, belonging to the Pancharatna school, contains a good exposition of the philosophy of Shakti, though of course of Shakti as associated with Vishnu and not Shiva.

It has been said in this text that the ultimate being has two aspects, one of which is the inactive or negative state, where all his creative impulses lie dormant within Him, and the whole universe lies infinitely contracted in. Him as a mere possibility and potency. This negative state may be said to be a state of nothingness. Even in this state there is Shakti, but she remains perfectly absorbed in the Lord, as if in a union of deep embrace. With the urge of the first creative impulse, there comes from within the Lord, a determination (sankalpa), which results in his 'willing'. This 'willing' of the Lord may be recognised as the first vibration of the Shakti - the first cosmic rhythm in the absolutely calm and quiet ocean.

When Shakti first wakes from her absorption in deep embrace, into the first vibration of activity, she acquires something like independence and tends to manifest herself in her triple functions of 'willing' (icchha), 'knowing' (jnana), and 'ctivity' (kriya), These three functions are symbolised by the inverted triangle, yantra of the Mother Goddess. Sometimes it Is held that Shakti is nothing but a figurative representation of the Lord, for the power cars never be viewed as being a separate entity from the agent that possesses the power.

The rise or awakening of Shakti therefore means the awakening of the Lord from his infinitely contracted state to the state of full- fledged 'I-ness'. Shakti is thus the full 'I-ness' of the Lord. Her nature is infinite bliss. This Shakti can again be viewed in two of her aspects - the internal aspect in which she coexists with and is in the Lord (samavayini shakti), and the external aspect in which she, as Prakriti, and the repository of the three natural qualities, manifests herself as the external universe.

According to the tantric texts of Kashmir also, Shakti inheres in the Ultimate Being as a latent potency of infinite possibilities, as a seed of the future worlds, mobile and immobile. As the Ultimate Being is real and eternal, so is Shakti, who is coexistent with Him. The awakening of Shakti is something like a self-projection of the 'I- ness' of God which is accompanied by an internal process of self creation.

Shiva and Shakti

There are different views on the relation of Shiva and Shakti as propounded in the Puranas and Tantras. One view holds that neither Shiva nor Shakti represents the absolute truth; that the absolute reality is a State of neutrality where Shiva and Shakti remain in a state of perfect union (yamala). This is called the 'samarasya', where all things become one in a unity of blissful realisation. Shiva and Shakti ate two aspects of the one truth - the static and dynamic, the negative and the positive, the abstract and the concrete, the male and the female.

Another view holds Shiva as the Ultimate Being to whom Shakti eternally belongs. Nevertheless, neither Shiva nor Shakti is 'real' without the other. As Shakti cannot be conceived of without Shiva, so also Shiva becomes 'shava' (dead) without Shakti. The two are therefore eternally and inseparably connected.

A third view considers Shakti as the highest truth and Shiva as the best support for Shakti. Shakti is more important as 'the contained', while Shiva is the 'container'. Shakti is the all-creating, all- preserving and all-destroying power of which Shiva is the adhara (base).

In some of the Puranas the male deity, as the Shaktimat (the possessor of Shakti) has been described as the male aspect of the Ultimate Truth which is Shakti. It is from this point of view that The Mother worshipers would give a subsidiary place to Shiva, where the Shakti as Mother is taken to be the highest object of adoration. In this, her sovereign majesty, the Goddess, is sometimes called Lalita Devi from whom the male deity proceeds as a transformation of her own self. Apart from this conception of the Goddess, Lalita often stands as the general Mother Goddess of India. She is called Tripurasundari in the Tantras.

Puranas: Chandi Saptashati

Shakti as the Great Mother and highest truth has found an elaborate exposition in the Devi Mahatmya, (Glory of the Goddess) of the Markandeya Purana, and this portion of the Purana, comprising thirteen chapters, is regarded as the most sacred text of Mother worshipers and is known as Chandi or Durga Saptashati. Here the goddess is seen as Devi and becomes well known later as Durga. The name Durga has been variously interpreted in Puranic and Tantric literature which means she is The Mother Goddess who saves us from all sorts of misery and affliction, from all dangers and difficulties. She is also known as Chandi the fierce goddess as she incarnates whenever occasion demands, for the purpose of destroying the asuras (demons) who may threaten mental peace and the heavenly domain of the divine beings.

Durga is The Mother Goddess whose worship during the Autumn is a most celebrated one. She is also worshipped as Annapurna or Annada (goddess of corn and food). In Autumn she is also worshipped as Jagadhatri (the maintainer of the world). During the Spring she is Vasanti (Goddess of Spring). In some Of the Puranas Devi is said to be worshipped by 108 names in 108 sacred places (in the Matsya Purana, chapter 13, it is said that, though she is all-pervading and underlies all forms, the devotee desirous of attaining perfection should worship her in different places).

In the Devi Kavacha of the Chandi, the Devi as Nawadurga is described as Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda Skandamata, Kutyayani, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri. Other forms of Shakti are Chamunda (seated on a corpse), Varahi (on a buffalo), Aindri (on an elephant), Vaishnavi (on the bird Garuda), Maheswari (on a bull), Kaumari (on a peacock), Lakshmi (on a lotus), Ishwar (on a bull) and Brahmi (on a swan). Many of the Shaktis are associated with different godheads, such as Varahi, Shakti of Varaha (the boar-god), Narasimhi of Narasimha (the man-lion god).

Some Shakti forms are also found within the Buddhist tradition. For instance, Tara, a popular Indian goddess, is also a famous Buddhist goddess, while Chhinnamasta may be compared to Vajrayogini of the Buddists.

The story of Chandi first introduces Shakti as the principle of great illusion (mahamaya) which prevents us from viewing the things of life and the world around us in their true perspective. It creates in the mind a fierce attachment to the world and thus binds us down to a lower plane of existence. But where does the principle of objective illusion originate? It is an aspect of the same divine power which is responsible for the creative process, and which is shaping the universe eternally to its end. It was there as one with the Supreme Being even when the cosmos was not, and it remains there absorbed in the existence of the Supreme Being even after the dissolution, as a potency, a seed of future creative manifestation. It has its sway, not only on all animates but also on the Supreme Being, and in connection with the latter it is called Yogamaya, the maya which is a direct part of the Lord.

Mahamaya, as the Mahashakti, remains absolutely inactive at the time of dissolution and this inactivity of the Shakti lulls the Supreme Being lo profound sleep in the ocean of causal potency. She is the Mahakali since she contracts eternal time (kala) within her and from her time proceeds again as an endless flow of creative vibration. It is incorrect to consider this power as being spiritual alone. She is athe' power - spiritual, mental, intellectual, physiological and biological. Whatever exists is due to Her; whatever works, works due to Her.

The Shakti Principle

The fulfillment of the promised divine eschatological instruction
“The original meaning of the word ‘apocalypse’, derived from the Greek apokalypsis, is in fact not the cataclysmic end of the world, but an ‘unveiling’, or ‘revelation’, a means whereby one gains insight into the present.” (Kovacs, 2013, 2) An apocalypse (Greek: apokalypsis meaning “an uncovering”) is in religious contexts knowledge or revelation, a disclosure of something hidden, “a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities.” (Ehrman 2014, 59)
Shri Mataji
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi (1923-2011) was Christian by birth, Hindu by marriage, and Paraclete by duty.
“The Paraclete will come (15:26; 16:7, 8, 13) as Jesus has come into the world (5:43; 16:28; 18:37)... The Paraclete will take the things of Christ (the things that are mine, ek tou emou) and declare them (16:14-15). Bishop Fison describes the humility of the Spirit, 'The true Holy Spirit of God does not advertise Herself: She effaces Herself and advertises Jesus.' ...
It is by the outgoing activity of the Spirit that the divine life communicates itself in and to the creation. The Spirit is God-in-relations. The Paraclete is the divine self-expression which will be and abide with you, and be in you (14:16-17). The Spirit's work is described in terms of utterance: teach you, didasko (14:26), remind you, hypomimnesko (14:26), testify, martyro (15:26), prove wrong, elencho (16:8), guide into truth, hodego (16:13), speak, laleo (16:13, twice), declare, anangello (16:13, 14, 15). The johannine terms describe verbal actions which intend a response in others who will receive (lambano), see (theoreo), or know (ginosko) the Spirit. Such speech-terms link the Spirit with the divine Word. The Spirit's initiatives imply God's personal engagement with humanity. The Spirit comes to be with others; the teaching Spirit implies a community of learners; forgetful persons need a prompter to remind them; one testifies expecting heed to be paid; one speaks and declares in order to be heard. The articulate Spirit is the correlative of the listening, Spirit-informed community.
The final Paraclete passage closes with a threefold repetition of the verb she will declare (anangello), 16:13-15. The Spirit will declare the things that are to come (v.13), and she will declare what is Christ's (vv. 14, 15). The things of Christ are a message that must be heralded...
The intention of the Spirit of truth is the restoration of an alienated, deceived humanity... The teaching role of the Paraclete tends to be remembered as a major emphasis of the Farewell Discourses, yet only 14:26 says She will teach you all things. (Teaching is, however, implied when 16:13-15 says that the Spirit will guide you into all truth, and will speak and declare.) Franz Mussner remarks that the word used in 14:26, didaskein, "means literally 'teach, instruct,' but in John it nearly always means to reveal.” (Stevick 2011, 292-7)
Stephen E. Witmer, Divine instruction in Early Christianity   
F. B. Meyer, Love to the Utmost Robert Kysar, John, the Maverick Gospel 
Danny Mahar, Aramaic Made EZ Lucy Reid, She Changes Everything
David Fleer, Preaching John's Gospel: The World It Imagines Berard L. Marthaler, The Creed: The Apostolic Faith in Contemporary Theology
George Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament In Spirit and Truth, Benny Thettayil
Jesus and His Own: A Commentary on John 13-17 Marianne Meye Thompson, The God of the Gospel of John
Eric Eve, The Jewish Context of Jesus' Miracles D. R. Sadananda, The Johannine Exegesis of God: an exploration into the Johannine understanding of God
Michael Welker, God the Spirit Georg Strecker, Theology of the New Testament
Tricia Gates Brown, Spirit in the writings of John Michael Welker, The work of the Spirit: pneumatology and Pentecostalism
Robert Kysar, Voyages with John: Charting the Fourth Gospel John F. Moloney, The Gospel of John
Harvey Cox, The Future of Faith Robert Kysar, John
Robert E. Picirilli, The Randall House Bible Commentary George Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament 
“The teaching of the Paraclete, as the continuation of Jesus' teaching, must also be understood as the fulfillment of the promise of eschatological divine instruction.”
Stephen E. Witmer, Divine instruction in Early Christianity

“Jesus therefore predicts that God will later send a human being to Earth to take up the role defined by John .i.e. to be a prophet who hears God's words and repeats his message to man.”
M. Bucaille, The Bible, the Qur'n, and Science

“And when Jesus foreannounced another Comforter, He must have intended a Person as distinct and helpful as He had been.”
F. B. Meyer, Love to the Utmost

“The Paraclete has a twofold function: to communicate Christ to believers and, to put the world on trial.”
Robert Kysar, John The Meverick Gospel

“But She—the Spirit, the Paraclete...—will teach you everything.”
Danny Mahar, Aramaic Made EZ)

“Grammatical nonsense but evidence of the theological desire to defeminize the Divine.”
Lucy Reid, She Changes Everything

“The functions of the Paraclete spelled out in verses 13-15... are all acts of open and bold speaking in the highest degree.”
David Fleer, Preaching John's Gospel

“The reaction of the world to the Paraclete will be much the same as the world's reaction was to Jesus.”
Berard L. Marthaler, The Creed: The Apostolic Faith in Contemporary Theology

Bultmann calls the “coming of the Redeemer an 'eschatological event,' 'the turning-point of the ages.”
G. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament

“The Paraclete equated with the Holy Spirit, is the only mediator of the word of the exalted Christ.”
Benny Thettayil, In Spirit and Truth

“The divine Paraclete, and no lessor agency, must show the world how wrong it was about him who was in the right.”
Daniel B. Stevick , Jesus and His Own: A Commentary on John 13-17

Stephen Smalley asserts that “The Spirit-Paraclete ... in John's Gospel is understood as personal, indeed, as a person.”
Marianne Thompson, The God of the Gospel of John

“The Messiah will come and the great age of salvation will dawn (for the pious).”
Eric Eve, The Jewish context of Jesus' Miracles

“The remembrance is to relive and re-enact the Christ event, to bring about new eschatological decision in time and space.”
Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda, The Johannine Exegesis of God

“The Spirit acts in such an international situation as the revealer of 'judgment' on the powers that rule the world.”
Michael Welker, God the Spirit

The Paraclete's “Appearance means that sin, righteousness, and judgment will be revealed.”
Georg Strecker, Theology of the New Testament

“While the Spirit-Paraclete is the true broker, the brokers they rely on are impostors.”
T. G. Brown, Spirit in the writings of John

“The pneumatological activity ... of the Paraclete ... may most helpfully be considered in terms of the salvific working of the hidden Spirit.”
Michael Welker, The work of the Spirit

“The pneuma is the peculiar power by which the word becomes the words of eternal life.”
Robert Kysar, Voyages with John

“The gift of peace, therefore, is intimately associated with the gift of the Spirit-Paraclete.”
Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of John

“This utopian hope, even when modestly expressed, links Jesus and the prophets to a much wider history of human longing.”
Harvey Cox, The Future of Faith

“Because of the presence of the Paraclete in the life of the believer, the blessings of the end-times—the eschaton—are already present.”
Robert Kysar, John

“They are going, by the Holy Spirit's power, to be part of the greatest miracle of all, bringing men to salvation.”
R. Picirilli, The Randall House Bible Commentary

“The Kingdom of God stands as a comprehensive term for all that the messianic salvation included... is something to be sought here and now (Mt. 6:33) and to be received as children receive a gift (Mk. 10:15 = Lk. 18:16-17).”
G. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament

“But today is the day I declare that I am the one who has to save the humanity. I declare I am the one who is Adishakti, who is the Mother of all the Mothers, who is the Primordial Mother, the Shakti, the desire of God, who has incarnated on this Earth to give its meaning to itself; to this creation, to human beings and I am sure through My Love and patience and My powers I am going to achieve it.

I was the one who was born again and again. But now in my complete form and complete powers I have come on this Earth not only for salvation of human beings, not only for their emancipation, but for granting them the Kingdom of Heaven, the joy, the bliss that your Father wants to bestow upon you.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh
December 2, 1979—London, UK

“I am the one about which Christ has talked... I am the Holy Spirit who has incarnated on this Earth for your realization.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh
New York, USA—September 30, 1981

“Tell all the nations and tell all the people all over the Great Message that the Time of Resurrection is here. Now, at this time, and that you are capable of doing it.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh
Cowley Manor Seminar, UK—July 31, 1982

“This is the transformation that has worked, of which Christ has talked, Mohammed Sahib has talked, everybody has talked about this particular time when people will get transformed.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Chistmas Puja, Ganapatipule, India—25 December 1997

“The Resurrection of Christ has to now be collective Resurrection. This is what is Mahayoga. Has to be the collective Resurrection.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Easter Puja, London, UK—11 April 1982

“Today, Sahaja Yaga has reached the state of Mahayoga, which is en-masse evolution manifested through it. It is this day�s Yuga Dharma. It is the way the Last Judgement is taking place. Announce it to all the seekers of truth, to all the nations of the world, so that nobody misses the blessings of the divine to achieve their meaning, their absolute, their Spirit.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
MAHA AVATAR, ISSUE 1, JUL-SEP 1980 (Date and place unknown)

“The main thing that one has to understand is that the time has come for you to get all that is promised in the scriptures, not only in the Bible but all all the scriptures of the world. The time has come today that you have to become a Christian, a Brahmin, a Pir, through your Kundalini awakening only. There is no other way. And that your Last Judgment is also now.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi

“You see, the Holy Ghost is the Mother. When they say about the Holy Ghost, She is the Mother... Now, the principle of Mother is in every, every scripture — has to be there. Now, the Mother's character is that She is the one who is the Womb, She is the one who is the Mother Earth, and She is the one who nourishes you. She nourishes us. You know that. And this Feminine thing in every human being resides as this Kundalini.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Radio Interview Oct 01 1983—Santa Cruz, USA

“It is the Mother who can awaken the Kundalini, and that the Kundalini is your own Mother. She is the Holy Ghost within you, the Adi Shakti, and She Herself achieves your transformation. By any talk, by any rationality, by anything, it cannot be done.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi

“She is your pure Mother. She is the Mother who is individually with you. Forget your concepts, and forget your identifications. Please try to understand She is your Mother, waiting for ages to give you your real birth. She is the Holy Ghost within you. She has to give you your realization, and She's just waiting and waiting to do it.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Public Program Mar 22 1981—Sydney, Australia

“The Kundalini is your own mother; your individual mother. And She has tape-recorded all your past and your aspirations. Everything! And She rises because She wants to give you your second birth. But She is your individual mother. You don't share Her with anybody else. Yours is a different, somebody else's is different because the tape-recording is different. We say She is the reflection of the Adi Shakti who is called as Holy Ghost in the Bible.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Press Conference July 08 1999—London, UK

The Great Goddess is both wholly transcendent and fully immanent: beyond space and time, she is yet embodied within all existent beings; without form as pure, infinite consciousness (cit) ... She is the universal, cosmic energy known as Sakti, and the psychophysical, guiding force designated as the Kundalini (Serpent Power) resident within each individual. She is eternal, without origin or birth, yet she is born in this world in age after age, to support those who seek her assistance. Precisely to provide comfort and guidance to her devotees, she presents herself in the Devi Gita to reveal the truths leading both to worldly happiness and to the supreme spiritual goals: dwelling in her Jeweled Island and mergence into her own perfect being.” (Brown, 1998, 2)

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