Sakti Yoga Philosophy – I
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is a chapter from the book Tantra Yoga, Nada Yoga and Kriya Yoga.
The power or active aspect of the immanent God is Sakti. Sakti is the embodiment of power. She is the supporter of the vast universe. She is the supreme Power by which the world is upheld. She is the Universal Mother. She is Durga, Kali, Chandi, Chamundi, Tripurasundari, Rajarajesvari. There is no difference between God and His Sakti, just as there is no difference between fire and its burning power.
He who worships Sakti, that is God in Mother form, as the supreme Power which creates, sustains and withdraws the universe, is a Sakta. All women are the forms of Divine Mother.
Siva is the unchanging consciousness. Sakti is His changing Power which appears as mind and matter. Sakti-vada or Sakta-darshana is a form of monism or Advaita-vada.
A Sakta does Sadhana which helps the union of Siva and Sakti through the awakening of the forces within the body. He becomes a Siddha in the Sadhana when he is able to awaken Kundalini and pierce the six Chakras. This is to be done in a perfectly practical way under the guidance of a Guru who has become perfect. The Sakti must be awakened by Dhyana, Bhava, Japa and Mantra Sakti. The Mother, the embodiment of the fifty letters is present in the various letters in the different Chakras. When the chords of a musical instrument are struck harmoniously, fine music is produced. Even so, when the chords of the letters are struck in their order, the Mother who moves in the six Chakras and who is the very Self of the letters awakens Herself. The Sadhaka attains Siddhi easily when She is roused. It is difficult to say when and how She shows Herself and to what Sadhaka. Sadhana means unfolding, rousing up or awakening of power of Sakti. Mode of Sadhana depends upon the tendencies and capacities of the Sadhaka.
Sakti may be termed as that by which we live and have our being in this universe. In this world all the wants of the child are provided by the Mother. The child’s growth, development and sustenance are looked after by the Mother. Even so all the necessaries of life and its activities in this world and the energy needed for it depend upon Sakti or the universal Mother.
No one can free himself from the thraldom of mind and matter without Mother’s grace. The fetters of Maya are too hard to break. If you worship Her as the great Mother you can very easily go beyond Prakriti through Her benign grace and blessings. She will remove all obstacles in the path and lead you safely into the illimitable domain of eternal Bliss and make you absolutely free. When She is pleased and bestows Her blessings on you, then alone can you free yourself from the bondage of this formidable Samsara.
The first syllable which a child or a quadruped utters is the name of the beloved Mother. Is there any child who does not owe its all to the affection and love of its Mother? It is the Mother who protects you, consoles you, cheers you and nurses you. She is your friend, philosopher, preceptor and guide throughout your life. Human mother is a manifestation of the Universal Mother.
The supreme Lord is represented as Siva and His power is represented as His wife, Sakti, Durga, or Kali. Just as the husband and wife look after the well-being of the family, so also Lord Siva and His Sakti are engaged in looking after the affairs of this world.
Radha, Durga, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Savitri are the five primary forms of Prakriti or Devi. Durga destroyed Madhu and Kaitabha through Vishnu. As Mahalakshmi She destroyed the Asura Mahisha. And as Sarasvati She destroyed Sumbha and Nisumbha with their companions Dhumralochana, Chanda, Munda and Raktabija.
When Vishnu and Mahadeva destroyed various Asuras the Power of Devi was behind them. Devi took Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra and gave them necessary Sakti to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. She is at the centre of the life of the universe. She is in the Muladhara Chakra in our bodies. She vitalises the body through the Sushumna. She vitalises the universe from the summit of Mount Meru.
In this system of Sakti philosophy Siva is omnipresent, impersonal, inactive. He is pure consciousness. Sakti is dynamic. Siva and Sakti are related as Prakasa and Vimarsa. Sakti or Vimarsa is the power that is latent in the pure consciousness. Vimarsa gives rise to the world of distinctions. Siva is Chit. Sakti is Chidrupini. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva do their functions of creation, preservation and destruction in obedience to Sakti. Sakti is endowed with Iccha (will), Jnana (knowledge) and Kriya (action). Siva and Sakti are one. Sakti Tattva and Siva Tattva are inseparable. Siva is always with Sakti.
There are thirty-six Tattvas in Sakti philosophy. Sakti is in Sakti Tattva, Nada is in Sadakhya Tattva, and Bindu is in Isvara Tattva. The creative aspect of the supreme Siva is called Siva Tattva. Siva Tattva is the first creative movement. Sakti Tattva is the will of Siva. It is the seed and womb of the entire world.
The first manifestation is called the Sadakhya or Sadasiva Tattva. In this Tattva there is the beginning of formation of ideas. There is Nada Sakti in this Tattva. Next comes Isvara Tattva. This Tattva is called Bindu. The fourth Tattva is Vidya or Suddhavidya. Then Prakriti modifies into the Tattvas of the mind, senses and the matter which constitutes the world.
Nada, Bindu are all names for different aspects of Sakti, Nada is really Siva Sakti. Siva has two aspects. In one aspect, He is the supreme changeless One, who is Sat-Chid-Ananda. This is Para Samvit. In the other aspect He changes as the world. The cause of the change is Siva Tattva. This Siva Tattva and Sakti Tattva are inseparable. Sakti Tattva is the first dynamic aspect of Brahman.
Nishkala Siva is Nirguna Siva. He is not connected with the creative Sakti. Maya or Prakriti is within the womb of the Sakti. Maya is the matrix of the world. Maya is potential in the state of dissolution. She is dynamic in creation. Maya evolved into several material elements and other physical parts of all sentient creatures under the direction of Sakti. There are thirty-six Tattvas in Sakti philosophy. In Sakti philosophy we have Brahman, Nada, Sakti, Bindu and Suddhamaya. In Saiva Siddhanta philosophy we have Siva, Sakti, Sadakhya and the Suddhamaya. The rest of the evolution in Sakti philosophy is same as in Saiva Siddhanta philosophy.
Knowledge of the Sakti leads to salvation. “Sakti-Jnanam vina Devi nirvanam naiva jayate”—”O Devi without the knowledge of Sakti, Mukti cannot be attained” (Isvara says to Devi). The Jiva or the individual soul thinks, when he is under the influence of Maya, that he is the doer and the enjoyer and identifies himself with the body. Through the grace of Sakti and through Sadhana or self-culture the individual soul frees himself from all fetters and attains spiritual insight and merges himself in the Supreme.
There is in Reality nothing but the one Self. The experienced is nothing but the experiencer. Brahman appears as the world through the mirror of mind or Maya. An object is nothing but the one Self appearing through Maya as non-self to Itself as subject. Triputi (or the knower, knowledge, knowable) vanishes in Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Supreme Siva or Brahman alone exists.
In the Kenopanishad it is said that the gods became puffed up with pride after a victory over the Asuras. They wrongly took the success to be the result of their own valour and power. The Lord wanted to teach them a lesson. He appeared before them in the form of a Yaksha, a huge form, the beginning and end of which were not visible. The Devas wanted to find out the identity of this form and sent Agni for this purpose. The Yaksha asked Agni “What is thy name and power?” Agni replied “I am Agni (Jatavedas). I can burn up the whole universe in a minute.” The Yaksha placed before Agni a dry blade of grass and asked him to burn it. Agni was not able to burn it. He ran away from the Yaksha in shame. The gods sent Vayu to enquire who he was. Vayu approached the Yaksha. The Yaksha asked Vayu “Who are you? What is your power?” Vayu replied, “I am wind-god. I can blow the whole world in a minute.” The Yaksha then placed a blade of grass before Vayu and challenged him to blow it away. Vayu could not make it move an inch from its place. He too left the place in shame. Last of all came Indra himself. When Indra reached the place he found that the Yaksha had vanished. Then Uma appeared before Indra and revealed to him the real identity of the Yaksha. She said to Indra: “It is the power of the Divine Mother and not that of the gods that crowned the gods with victory. It is Sakti of Uma or Haimavati, sister of Krishna that is the source of the strength of all the gods.” Sakti is the great Teacher of Jnana. She sheds wisdom on Her devotees.