Shakti, meaning sacred "force", "power", or "energy", is the Hindu concept or personification of the divine feminine aspect, sometimes referred to as 'The Divine Mother'. Shakti represents the active, dynamic principles of feminine power. In
Shaktism, Shakti is worshiped as the Supreme Being. However, in other Hindu traditions of Shaivismand Vaishnavism, Shakti embodies the active feminine energy Prakritiof Purusha, who is Vishnuin Vaishnavismor Shivain Shaivism. Vishnu's female counterpart is called Lakshmi, with Parvatibeing the female half of Shiva.
In traditional Shiva-associated Shaktism
Shaktism regards Devi (lit., "the Goddess") as the Supreme
Brahmanitself, the "one without a second", with all other forms of divinity, female or male, considered to be merely Her diverse manifestations. In the details of its philosophy and practice, Shaktism resembles Saivism. However, "Shaktas" ("Sanskrit: IAST|Śakta, _sa. शक्त"), practitioners of Shaktism, focus most or all worship on Shakti, as the dynamic feminine aspect of the Supreme Divine. Shiva, the masculine aspect of divinity, is considered solely transcendent, and Shiva's worship is generally relegated to an auxiliary role. [Subramuniyaswami, p. 1211.]
Like Shiva-associated Shaktism, Shakti embodies the active feminine energy and power of male supreme deity
Vishnuin Vaishnavism. Vishnu's female counterpart is called Lakshmi. However, in Srivaishnavism, a school of Vaishnavism, Lakshmi or Sri does not play any particular part in the creative function of the Lord, because Prakritiis the manifest aspect of the Lord. [ Swami Tapasyananda, Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, pg. 52, Ramakrishna Mission ] In Srivaishnavism, Vishnu alone is the great creator, although Sri is coeval with Him. [ Swami Tapasyananda, Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, pg. 53, Ramakrishna Mission] As Vishnu is the Father who stands for absolute justice, Sri is the Mother of the universe and is considered to be important element in the redemption of mankind, and is the interceder with Vishnu on behalf of spiritual seekers. [ Swami Tapasyananda, Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, pg. 53, Ramakrishna Mission ]
In Smarta Advaita tradition
Smarta Advaitasect of Hinduism, Shakti is considered to be one of five equal bonafide personal forms of God in the panchadevasystem advocated by Adi Shankara. [http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resources/books/dws/dws_mandala-02.html]
David Kinsley believes that the concept of "Shakti" may be derived from Lord Indra's consort
Sachi(Indrani), meaning power. [Hindu Goddesses Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Tradition by David Kinsley page 17 minor vedic Goddesses] Indrani is part of a group of seven or eight mother goddesses called the Matrikas(Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kumari, Varahi and Chamunda and/or Narasimhi), who are considered shaktis of major Hindu gods(Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Skanda, Varaha/Yama and Devi and Narasimha respectively).
The Shakti goddess is also known as Amma (meaning 'mother') in south India, especially in the states of Tamil Nadu,Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. There are many temples devoted to various incarnations of the Shakti goddess in most of the villages in
South India. The rural people believe that Shakti is the protector of the village, the punisher of evil people, the curer of diseases, and the one who gives welfare to the village. They celebrate Shakti Jataras with a lot of hue and great interest once a year. Some examples of incarnations are Gangamma, Aarti, Kamakshamma, Kanakadurga, Mahalakshmammma, Meeenakshamma, Poleramma and Perantalamma.
51important centres of Shakti worshiplocated in the Indian sub-continent, which are located in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Tibetand Pakistan. These are called Shakti Peethas. Most Shakti peethas have since developed into famous temple complexes, including: Amarnatha( Jammuand Kashmir), Jwalaji( Himachal), Katyayani( Chattarpur, Delhi), Kamakhya(Assam), Naina Devi( Himachal), Manasadevi ( Chandigarh).
Main pithas are Tuljapur(Jagdamba), Kolhapur(Mahlaxmi), vani-Nashik(sptashrungi), Mahurgad(Renukamata)
Adi-Shakti or Adi Shakti is a Hindu concept of the ultimate
Shakti, the ultimate feminine power inherent in all Creation. This is especially prevalent in the Shaktadenomination within Hinduism, which worships the Goddess Deviin all Her manifestations.
hakti force: Devi Prakriti
The Adi Shakti has a
Unicoderepresentation of U+262C (Unicode|☬) on the Miscellaneous Symbolstable. This symbol is also known as the Khanda.
*cite book|first=June|last=McDaniel|year=2004|title=Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal|publisher=New York: Oxford University Press
* [http://www.webonautics.com/mythology/shakti.html Indian Mythology: Shakti]
* [http://www.om-guru.com A site containing short biographies of several Shakta devotees from the Indian state of Bengal]
* [http://www.vedabase.net/s/sakti Shakti: Listing of usage in Puranic literature]
* [http://www.celextel.org/adisankara/soundaryalahari.html Shakti temples of India] (Includes articles on Shaktism)
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