Aug 13, 2015

Shaktism: Feminine, the Ultimate Reality

Is God male or female?

Most religions say male, few religions say female, while some might say neither. Hinduism makes room for various conceptions of ultimate reality in which the feminine is one of the prominent ones.

The Supreme Being is both nirguna (without form) and saguna (with form). As nirguna (formless) it is beyond the confines of gender. However as saguna (in form) the Divine can be masculine or feminine.

Shaktism or Shakti Dharma conceptualizes ultimate reality as feminine. Though other schools or world-views too speak of the immanent nature of the goddess, the Sakta world-view is explicit in establishing the Goddess or the Feminine as the ultimate transcendent reality as well.

Instead of Brahman, here it is Adya Sakti, the Mother of all origins, the matrix of the unborn.

Goddess worship does not belong to any particular cult. It is true that the Sakta places the feminine at centre stage. However the Goddess is worshiped by all irrespective of any distinction. In fact it is Shakti worship that is a common feature of most Hindu schools irrespective of whether they are Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakta or Ganapatya.

The Divine Mother is synonymous with Shakti, the unifying force of existence. Shakti is the Divine Power of creation, sustenance and transformation. In other words Shakti worship is nothing but worshiping the inherent Power of the Supreme Divine.

According to a particular view prevalent among both scientists as well as spiritualists everything in the universe is a manifestation of imperishable energy. According to the Shakta this energy is nothing other than the manifestation of the Divine Shakti, which exists in every form of our existence. Since this Shakti (Power or Energy) cannot be worshiped in its essential nature, it is worshiped through various symbolic manifestations that symbolise Shakti in its various phases. Thus truly speaking, all beings of the universe are Shakti worshipers, for there is none in this world who does not love power or energy in some form or the other.

Each form of the Devi has a distinctive role meant for a definite purpose. Yet every form is also identified as the Ultimate Reality of the universe. Each form of the Divine Mother is thus an embodiment of the Supreme Divinity. One form may appear different from the other. But in spirit, each such form is one more manifestation springing from the One Source, verily the Supreme Primordial Prakriti.

She is the One without the second, the Unmanifest. Hers is the Cosmic womb that gives birth to the entire universe. She not only begets the universe but also resides in it through Her power of veiling. Behind the veils of the myriad deities in human and non-human forms, there is the One formless Being call it what you want to, be it Brahman, or Satchidananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss) or the Supreme Being or simply Being.

In famous Devi Gita it is said:

"I am the Lord and the Cosmic Soul; I am myself the Cosmic Body. I am Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra, as well as Gauri, Brahmi, and Vaishnavi. I am the sun and the stars and I am the Lord of the stars. I am the various species of beasts and birds; I am also the outcaste and thief. I am the evil doer and the wicked deed; I am the righteous person and the virtuous deed.

I am certainly female and male, and asexual as well. And whatever thing, anywhere, you see or hear. That entire thing I pervade, ever abiding inside it and outside. There is nothing at all, moving or un-moving, that is devoid of me; For if it were, it would be a nonentity, like the son of a barren woman."

Re-posted from FB community page "Shaktism II: Doctrine of Power II

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