Shakti – The Divine Feminine and Shiva’s Consort
from our Angel Messenger Creative Team
In the ancient Indian tradition, Shakti is the consort of Shiva. She represents the Divine Feminine while Shiva constitutes the Divine Masculine. It is their sacred union that brought the material world into existence.
Shiva is the great void – the emptiness or yang energy. In Shiva, nothing exists and yet everything exists within him. Shakti, on the other hand, is the primordial or yin energy. She is the creative force who gives birth to everything that exists within creation. Yet she herself exists within Shiva – just like water is contained within the confines of an ocean.
Both Shiva and Shakti are incomplete without each other. Nothing can be created without their sacred marriage.
Making Divinity Accessible
It is important to understand that the Puranas (in which the legend of Shiva and Shakti is narrated) have been written in such a way that a person whose consciousness is still confined to the world of the five senses can understand the lofty principles of male and female energy not as energy itself but by their representations in human form. Hence, in the Shiv Mahapuran, Shiva is depicted with human traits and so is his consort, Parvati or Shakti.
The ancient Indian seers (known as ‘Rishis’) carefully crafted these great texts so that everyone can gain an understanding of divinity on some level.
If you read the Vedas or Upanishad, you will realize that no such personification of God has been presented there.
The highest teaching of the Vedas is ‘aham brahmasmi’ that translates as ‘I am God’ or ‘I am that I am.’ This does not refer to the ego-self but to the Self that one becomes at the moment when all ideas of individual identity dissolve – just like a cup of water becomes one with the ocean and loses its individuality, thereby, becoming the ocean itself.
The Divine Feminine and The Divine Masculine
One of the strongest desires that any human being possesses is a desire for union with another individual. Such a union is necessary for the procreation of the species. However, it is not merely guided by a biological need. If that was the case, then one would not crave a romantic relationship in old age when sexual desires fade considerably.
The need for romance and an overwhelming desire to merge into ‘the other’ is a universal longing in almost all men and women across the globe.
Polarity is the very basis of attraction. It is not merely based on biological differences. While it is true that biology plays a crucial role in making men masculine and women feminine, the energy that each person carries is far more important.
For instance, there are feminine women and masculine men. There are also masculine women and feminine men. Even in homosexual relationships, one partner identifies more strongly with the masculine or the feminine … because it is the soul that identifies as Divine Masculine or Divine Feminine. A powerful attraction is synonymous with forceful polarity.
Hence, the union of man and woman in a marriage is also symbolic of the union between the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine.
Shakti as Kundalini Energy
The coming together of man and woman to create a new life is both functional and symbolic. At the gross material level, this union is necessary for human life to continue itself on planet earth. At the symbolic level, it signifies the importance of both male and female energy to be in balance and complementary.
In the human body, Shakti represents herself as Kundalini energy located at the base of the spine or the Muladhara chakra. Shiva, on the other hand, is located at the center of the skull or the Sahasrara chakra (also known as the seventh chakra). All spiritual ‘Sadhana’ (mastery of the self through the application of yogic principles and practice of various forms of penance) is meant to raise the Kundalini energy so that she can travel through the spine and reach the Sahasrara where she becomes one with Shiva.
One who experiences such a union gets to taste pure bliss which is also the true nature of the Self. Hence, this union is a spiritual birth through which one realizes what is real and what is illusory.
The Legend of Shakti
Another name for Shakti is Durga. Legend has it that Daksha Prajapati, a devout worshipper of the Goddess and a man who had been childless for a long time, underwent severe penance for 3000 years. Finally, the Goddess appeared before him.
He asked for a boon that she be born on Earth as his daughter. Goddess Durga granted him the boon on the condition that if ever her respect is reduced or her word is ignored, she will immediately abandon her earthly form and never return back.
When Shakti was born as an earthly princess, she felt a deep longing to become united with Shiva. She practiced austerities and penance to win Shiva as her husband.
Finally, the two were united in celestial marriage. Sati went to live with Shiva in Kailasha, his abode in the Himalayas.
One day, Sati found out that her father was conducting an important ritual at his palace but her husband, Shiva, had not been invited to it. Trembling with rage, Shakti told Daksha that she would no longer address him as her father and that it was time for her to destroy the only thing she had received from him – her earthly body. She jumped into the sacrificial fire and immolated her mortal form.
When Shiva found out about the tragedy, his consternation knew no bounds. He manifested himself in an avatar called Virabhadra. Virabhadra and Mahakali (the goddess of destruction) destroyed the venue of Daksha’s rituals. He also cut off Daksha’s head. When the Gods pleaded with him to cease the destruction as it was going to destroy the entire planet, he finally agreed to restore Daksha’s head.
Later on, the rituals were conducted once again with proper homage paid to Shiva. Shiva returned back to Kailasha without his consort Sati.
This legend is symbolic of the fact that man can never excel in his worldly pursuits without the blessings of the Divine Mother and Father. One must master the divinity that resides within, and also learn to honor the divine who resides in all human forms.
This legend sheds light on the importance of the husband-wife relationship. The devoted wife can never bear an insult inflicted on her husband. The husband, on the other hand, would do anything to protect and look after his wife as best as he can.
A marriage that is based on high moral ground can truly become a sacred union of Shiva and Shakti in human form.
Much Love & Angel Blessings,
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