Shakti means power, energy, or force. In the Indian tradition, Adishakti or Adi Parashakti or the Divine Feminine is considered to be the primordial source of all energy.
According to this, the world is produced and renewed by the dialectical play of creation and destruction, cohesion and disintegration. It is through this continuous cycle, dynamic energy is created. Adishakti is the name given to the fundamental creative dynamic force that gives rise to universes. Since the dawn of creation, human beings wondered about the source of this energy. Some realised its significance and sought to benefit mankind by discovering the pathway to this mysterious power.
Shakti is personified as Goddess energy. She is creation, sustenance and change. This is in conjunction with Shakti being ‘energy’, the creative feminine principle (Prakriti) and Shiva being consciousness or the masculine principle (Purusha). The supreme reality beyond all polarity is called ShivShakti or Ardhanareeshwara.
Adishakti is considered to be the source of all matter and energy and exists in everything animate and inanimate in the world.
She manifests in different forms, levels, and expressions, as there is no limit to how energy can manifest. She is personified as Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, Gaia, Tara and the innumerable goddesses or feminine forms in native cultures across the world. There are Kuladevatas or Kuladevis (ancestral, clan and lineage deities), and Gramadevatas or Gramadevis (village deities) who were appeased for protection, prosperity and general wellbeing.
In societies where goddess worship is still alive, different forms of goddesses that reflect a particular aspect of Shakti are invoked for specific purposes.
If one would delve deep into these different structures of goddess worship (Gaatha) , we can discover the different appearances and forms of Adishakti varying with the geographical setting, people, cultures, customs, and several other factors. Some goddesses embody the maternal in nature and are invoked for protection and prosperity, ome embody the nature of a powerful warrior and are invoked for victory and success. Some are identified with other male deities/consorts, some with the wild and wildlife (forest deities like Vana Durga), and some are personification of art, literature and culture.
The same life energy that is honoured as a goddess or Adishakti, also exists within us as ‘prana shakti’ (the force within the breath). According to yogic tradition, it exists as Kundalini Shakti that remains hidden until it is awakened through yoga, devotion or some other means. In daily life, we also see that this creative force within us has three aspects to it : ‘Iccha Shakti‘ or the energy of will or desire, ‘Jnana Shakti‘ or the energy of knowledge and ‘Kriya Shakti’ or the energy of action. All these three aspects are indispensable for any activity we undertake. While all that is known about Adishakti or Shakti or Devi is limited, it is still fascinating.
Through consecrated forms, personal deities (ishta devata), visiting sacred spaces (Yatra) and rituals, She is invoked and venerated. She manifests as expression and experience in our lives as ‘Kala-Shakti‘ through creative endeavors like art, music, poetry and dance. As ‘Svasth-Shakti’, she encompasses all aspects of wellbeing and as ‘Yog Shakti‘, she is experienced through yogic practices and rituals.
The way the world is today, we have either ignored, denigrated or distorted the feminine within us while glorifying the masculine. If we are to live a balanced life, we need to reconnect with the feminine aspect within us and resonate with the Adishakti that is alive both within us and around us.
Whatever you hold as the highest in your life, it is this energy that empowers you to seek growth and change to find purpose and fulfilment in everyday life. This is the foundation for conscious living too. When we turn inward, it is this force that empowers you to raise your consciousness, to experience yourself as part of something greater. It is this same force that manifests as the feminine, that is the essence of creativity, vibrancy and vitality in an individual.
Adishakti is ‘all that is’. As she rises in you, the magic of this primordial force unfolds; you are the same and yet you are not.