Essays About Shaivism

History, Philosophy, Beliefs and Practices of Shaivism,

Shakti Yoga , the Worship of Shakti

The power or active aspect of the immanent God is Shakti. Shakti 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, Rajesvari. There is no difference between God and His Shakti, just as there is no difference between fire and its burning power.

He who worships Shakti, that is, God in Mother form, as the supreme power which creates, sustains and withdraws the universe, is a Sakta. All women are forms of the Divine Mother.

Shiva is the unchanging consciousness. Shakti is His changing power which appears as mind and matter. Shaktivada or Saktadarsana is a form of monism or Advaitavada.

A Sakta does Sadhana which helps the union of Shiva and Shakti, 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 perfect practical way under the guidance of a Guru who has become perfect. The Shakti must be awakened by Dhyana, by Bhava, by Japa, by Mantra-Shakti. 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 or Shakti. Mode of Sadhana depends upon the tendencies and capacities of the Sadhaka.

Shakti 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 Shakti 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 free. When She is pleased and bestows Her blessings on you, then alone you can 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 which 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, protector and guide throughout your life. Human mother is a manifestation of the Universal Mother.

The Supreme Lord is represented as Shiva and His power is represented as his consort, Shakti or Durga or Kali. Just as the husband and wife look after the well-being of the family, so also Lord Shiva and His Shakti are engaged in looking after the affairs of the 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 Shakti to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. She is at the centre of the universe. She is in 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 Shakti philosophy, Shiva is omnipresent, impersonal, inactive. He is pure consciousness. Shakti is dynamic. Shiva and Shakti are related as Prakasa and Vimarsa. Shakti or Vimarsa is the power that is latent in the pure consciousness. Vimarsa gives rise to the world of distinctions. Shiva is Chit. Shakti is Chidrupini. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva do their functions of creation, preservation and destruction in obedience to Shakti. Shakti is endowed with Iccha (will), Jnana (knowledge) and Kriya (action). Shiva and Shakti are one. Shakti Tattva and Shiva Tattva are inseparable. Shiva is always with Shakti. There are thirtysix Tattvas, in Shakti philosophy. Shakti is in Shakti Tattva, Nada in Sadakhya Tattva, Bindu in Isvara Tattva. The creative aspect of the Supreme Shiva is called Shiva Tattva. Shiva Tattva is the first creative movement. Shakti Tattva is the will of Shiva. It is the seed and womb of the entire world.

The first manifestation is called the Sadakhya or SadaShiva Tattva. In this Tattva there is the beginning of formation of ideas. There is Nada Shakti 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 mind, senses and the matter which constitutes the world.

Nada, Bindu are all names for different aspects of Shakti. Nada is really Shiva Shakti. Shiva has two aspects. In one aspect, He is the supreme changeless one who is Satchidananda. This is Para Samvit. In the other aspect, He changes as the world. The cause of the change is Shiva Tattva. This Shiva Tattva and Shakti Tattva are inseparable. Shakti Tattva is the first dynamic aspect of Brahman.

Nishkala Shiva is Nirguna Shiva. He is not connected with the creative Shakti. Sakala Shiva is associated with the creative Shakti. Maya or Prakriti is within the womb of Shakti. Maya is the matrix of the world. Maya is potential in the state of dissolution. She is dynamic in creation. Maya evolves into the several material elements and other physical parts of all sentient creatures under the direction of Shakti. There are thirtysix Tattvas in Shakti philosophy. In Shakti philosophy we have Brahman, Shakti, Nada, Bindu and Suddhamaya. In Saiva Siddhanta philosophy we have Shiva, Shakti, Sadakhya and the Suddhamaya. The rest of the evolution in Shakti philosophy is the same as in Saiva Siddhanta philosophy.

Knowledge of Shakti leads to salvation. “Shaktijnanam vina devi nirvanam naiva jayate—O Devi without the knowledge of Shakti, 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 Shakti and through Sadhana or self-culture, the individual soul frees himself from all fetters, 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 knower, knowledge and knowable vanishes in Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Supreme Shiva or Brahman alone exists.

In the Kenopanishad, it is said that the gods became puffed up with a victory over the Asuras. They wrongly took the success to be the result of their own valour and prowess. 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 your 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 nor able to burn it. He ran away from the Yaksha in shame. The gods then sent Vayu to enquire who the Yaksha was. Vayu approached the Yaksha. The Yaksha said to Vayu: “Who are you? What is your power?” Vayu said: “I am wind-god. I can blow up the whole world in a minute.” The Yaksha then placed a blade of grass before Vayu and told him to blow that away. Vayu could not make it move an inch from its place. He 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 the Shakti or Uma or Haimavati, sister of Krishna, that is the source of the strength of all the gods.” Shakti is the great teacher of Jnana. She sheds wisdom on her devotees.

May you all obtain the grace of Shakti or the Universal Mother and enjoy the supreme bliss of the final emancipation.

Part II

Shakti is Chidrupini. She is pure, blissful Consciousness. She is the Mother of Nature. She is Nature itself. She is power of Lord Shiva or Brahman. She runs this world-show. She maintains the sportive play or Lila of the Lord. She is Jagat-Janani (creator of the world), Mahishasuramardini (destroyer of Mahishasura) Bhranti-nasini (destroyer of illusion or Avidya), and Daridrya-nasini (destroyer of poverty).

Devi is Shakti of Lord Shiva. She is Jada Shakti and Chit Shakti. She is Iccha Shakti, Kriya Shakti and Jnana Shakti. She is Maya Shakti. Shakti is Prakriti, Maya, Mahamaya, Sri Vidya. Shakti is Brahman itself. She is Lalita, Kundalini, Rajesvari, Tripurasundari, Sati and Parvati. Sati manifested to Lord Shiva in the ten forms as the Dasa Maha Vidyas, viz., Kali, Bagalamukhi, Chinnamasta, Bhuvanesvari, Matangi, Shodasi, Dhumavati, Tripurasundari, Tara and Bhairavi.

Worship of Shakti or Shaktism is one of the oldest and most widespread religions in the world. Everybody in this world wants power, loves to possess power. He is elated by power. He wants to domineer over others through power. War is the outcome of greed for power. Scientists are followers of Shaktism. He who wishes to develop will-power and charming personality, is a follower of Shaktism. In reality, every man in this world is a follower of Shaktism.

Scientists say now that everything is energy only and that energy is the physical ultimate of all forms of matter. The followers of the Sakta school of philosophy have said the same thing, long ago. They further say that this energy is only a limited manifestation of the Infinite Supreme Power of Maha Shakti.

Shakti is always with Shiva. They are inseparable like fire and heat. Shakti evolves Nada and Nada Bindu. The world is a manifestation of Shakti. Suddha Maya is Chit Shakti. Prakriti is Jada Shakti. Nada, Bindu and the rest are only names for different aspects of Shakti.

The countless universes are only dust of Divine Mother’s holy feet. Her glory is ineffable. Her splendour is indescribable. Her greatness is unfathomable. She showers Her grace on Her sincere devotees. She leads the individual soul from Chakra to Chakra, from plane to plane and unifies him with Lord Shiva in the Sahasrara.

The body is Shakti. The needs of the body are the needs of Shakti. When a man enjoys, it is Shakti who enjoys through him. His eyes, ears, hands and feet are Hers. She sees through his eyes, hears through his ears. Body, mind, Prana, egoism, intellect, organs and all the other functions are Her manifestations.

Shaktism speaks of personal and the impersonal aspects of Godhead. Brahman is Nishkala or without Prakriti and Sakala or with Prakriti. The Vedantin speaks of Nirupadhika Brahman (Pure Nirguna Brahman without Maya) and Sopadhika Brahman (with Upadhi or Maya) or Saguna Brahman. It is all the same. Names only are different. It is a play of words or Sabda Jalam. People fight on word only, carry on lingual warfare, hair-splitting, logical chopping and intellectual gymnastics. In reality the essence is one. Clay is the truth. All the modifications such as pot, etc., are in name only. In Nirguna Brahman, Shakti is potential, whereas in Saguna Brahman, it is kinetic or dynamic.

The basis of Shaktism is the Veda. Shaktism upholds that the only source and authority (Pramana) regarding transcendental or supersensual matters such as the nature of Brahman, etc., is Veda. Shaktism is only Vedanta. The Saktas have the same spiritual experience as that of a Vedantin.

The Devi-Sukta of the Rig-Veda, the Sri-Sukta, Durga-Sukta, Bhu-Sukta and Nila-Sukta, and the specific Sakta Upanishads such as Tripuratapini Upanishad, Sitopanishad, Devi Upanishad, Saubhagya-Upanishad, Sarasvati Upanishad, Bhavanopanishad, Bhavrichopanishad, etc., emphatically declare about the Mother-aspect of God. The Kena Upanishad also speaks of Uma (Haimavati) who imparted wisdom of the Self to Indra and the Devas.

Divine Mother is everywhere triple. She is endowed with the three Gunas, viz., Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. She manifests as Will (Iccha Shakti), Action (Kriya Shakti) and Knowledge (Jnana Shakti). She is Brahma Shakti (Sarasvati) in conjunction with Brahma, Vishnu Shakti (Lakshmi) in conjunction with Lord Vishnu, and Shiva Shakti (Gauri) in conjunction with Lord Shiva. Hence She is called Tripurasundari.

The abode of Tripurasundari, the Divine Mother is called Sri Nagara. This magnificent abode is surrounded by twentyfive ramparts, which represent the twentyfive Tattvas. The resplendent Chintamani palace is in the middle. The Divine Mother sits in the Bindu Pitha in Sri Chakra in that wonderful palace. There is a similar abode for Her in the body of man also. The whole world is Her body. Mountains are Her bones. Rivers are Her veins. Ocean is Her bladder. Sun and moon are Her eyes. Wind is Her breath. Agni is Her mouth.

The Shakti enjoys Bhukti (enjoyment in the world) and Mukti (liberation from all worlds). Shiva is an embodiment of Bliss and Knowledge. Shiva Himself appears in the form of man with a life—mixture of pleasure and pain. If you remember this point always, all dualism, all hatred, jealousy, pride will vanish. You must consider every human function as worship or a religious act. Answering calls of nature, talking, eating, walking, seeing, hearing, become worship of Lord, if you develop the right attitude. It is Shiva who works in and through man. Where then is egoism or individuality? All human actions are divine actions. One universal life throbs in the hearts of all, sees in the eyes of all, works in the hands of all, hears in the ears of all. What a magnificent experience it is, if one can feel this by crushing this little ‘I’! The old Samskaras, the old Vasanas, the old habits of thinking, stand in the way of your realising this experience—Whole.

The aspirant thinks that the world is identical with the Divine Mother. He moves about thinking his own form to be the form of the Divine Mother and thus beholds oneness everywhere. He also feels that the Divine Mother is identical with Para Brahman.

The advanced Sadhaka feels: “I am the Devi and the Devi is in me”. He worships himself as Devi instead of adoring any external object. He says: “Sa-aham—I am She (Devi)”.

Shaktism is not a mere theory or philosophy. It prescribes systematic Sadhana of Yoga, regular discipline, according to the temperament, capacity and degree of evolution of the Sadhaka. It helps the aspirant to arouse the Kundalini and unite Her with Lord Shiva and enjoy the Supreme Bliss or Nirvikalpa Samadhi. When Kundalini sleeps, man is awake to the world. He has objective consciousness. When She awakes, he sleeps. He loses all consciousness of the world and becomes one with the Lord. In Samadhi, the body is maintained by the nectar which flows from the union of Shiva and Shakti with Sahasrara.

Guru is indispensable for the practice of Shakti Yoga Sadhana. He initiates the aspirant and transmits the divine Shakti.

Physical contact with a female is gross Maithuna. This is due to Pasu Bhava or animal disposition or brutal instinct. Mother Kundalini Shakti unites with Lord Shiva in Sahasrara during Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This is real Maithuna or blissful union. This is due to Divya Bhava or divine disposition. You must rise from Pasu Bhava to Divya Bhava, through Satsanga, service of Guru, renunciation and dispassion, discrimination, Japa and meditation.

Worship of the Divine Mother with intense faith and perfect devotion and self-surrender will help you to attain Her grace. Through Her grace alone, you can attain knowledge of the Imperishable.

Glory to Tripurasundari, the World-Mother, who is also Raja-Rajesvari and Lalita Devi. May Her blessings be upon you all!

Shiva and Shakti

Shakti Tattva is really the negative aspect of the Shiva Tattva. Though they are spoken of separately they are really one. Shakti Tattva is the will of Shiva.

Ambal, Ambika, Gauri, Jnanambika, Durga, Kali, Rajesvari, Tripurasundari are all other names for Shakti. Shakti is Herself pure, blissful consciousness and is nature itself born of the creative play of Her thought. This Shakti cult is the conception of God as the Universal Mother.

Shakti is spoken of as Mother, because that is the aspect of the Supreme in which She is regarded as the genetrix and nourisher of the universe. But God is neither male nor female. He is named according to the body in which He is manifested.

Hinduism is the only religion in the world which has emphasised much the motherhood of God. The Devi-Sukta appears in the tenth Mandala of the Rig-Veda. It was revealed by Bak, the daughter of Maharshi Ambrin. In this Rigvedic hymn addressed to the Divine Mother, Bak speaks of her realisation of God as Mother who pervades the whole universe. In Bengal, Mother-worship is very prevalent. ‘Ma’ is always on the lips of every Bengali.

Shiva and Shakti are essentially one. It is said in the very first verse of Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa that Shakti and Shiva stand to each other in the same relationship as the word and its meaning. Just as heat and fire are inseparable, so Shakti and Shiva are inseparable. Lord Shiva cannot do anything without Shakti. This is emphasised by Sri Sankaracharya in the first verse of Saundarya Lahari.

Shakti is like the snake with motion. Shiva is like the motionless snake. Waveless ocean is Shiva. Ocean with waves is Shakti. The transcendental Supreme Being is Shiva. The manifested, immanent aspect of the Supreme is Shakti. Shiva is attributeless. He is Nishkriya. Shakti is with attributes. She creates. Shakti is compared to a rope made up of tricoloured threads.

Mother Kali dances on the breast of Shiva. She has terrible form but She is not really terrible. She is all-merciful and gentle. She wears a garland made up of the skulls. What does this mean? She wears the heads of Her devotees. How loving and affectionate She is to Her devotees!

Kali is the Divine Mother. She is the Shakti or power of Lord Shiva. She is the dynamic aspect of Shiva. Shiva is the static aspect. Lord Shiva is like a dead corpse. What does this signify? He is absolutely calm, motionless, breathless, with His eyes closed in Samadhi. He is actionless, changeless. He is untouched by the cosmic play or Lila that is eternally going on, on His breast.

He is absolutely dead to the world. He is beyond the three Gunas. There is no duality, no plurality, no relativity, no differentiation between subject and object, no distinction, no difference, no Triputi, no Dvandvas, no Raga-Dvesha, no good and evil in Him. He is ever pure, Nirlipta (unattached). And yet He is the source, substratum, support, first cause for this universe. He simply gazes. Shakti is vitalised. She works and creates. In His mere presence Shakti keeps up the play of this universe or Lila. The whole world is a mere vibration or Spandana in Him. He is superconscious and yet He has cosmic consciousness. He constitutes all the names and forms and yet He is above all names and forms. This is a great marvel and a supreme mystery which cannot be comprehended by the finite intellect.

Without Shiva, Shakti has no existence and without Shakti, Shiva has no expression. It is through Shakti that the Impersonal Supreme Being Shiva or Nirguna Brahman becomes the Personal Being or Saguna Brahman. Shiva or Nirguna Brahman becomes the Personal Being or Saguna Brahman. Shiva is the Soul of Durga or Kali. Durga or Kali is identical with Shiva. Shiva is Satchidananda. Durga or Kali is Satchidananda Mayi. Shiva and Shakti are one and neither is higher than the other. Shakti is Chit, Chidrupini, Chinmatra Rupini.

Shiva and Parvati

O Devi! all auspicious one, giver of success and prosperity, we bow to Thee! Shower peace and amity on this earth and protect us ever more by Your kind compassion at a glance!

The daughter of the king of Parvatas, Himavan is Parvati. She is the wife or Shakti of Lord Shiva. She is the matrix of the universe. She is the revealer of Brahman. She is not only Loka-Mata or World-Mother but also Brahma-Vidya. One of Her names is Shivajnana-Pradayini. She is also called Shivaduti, Shivaradhya, Shivamurti and Shivankari.

The grace of Devi is an indispensable factor for the attainment of God-realisation. Parvati or Shakti is all-in-all. You must rouse the Shakti by Yoga. Then the grace of Shakti will lead you to God-realisation and the attainment of the final emancipation and the achievement of infinite, eternal supreme bliss.

The glorious story of Parvati is related in detail in the Mahesvara Kanda of the Skanda Purana. Sati, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, the son of Brahma, was wedded to Lord Shiva. Daksha did not like his son-in-law on account of His queer form, strange manners and peculiar habits. Daksha performed a sacrifice. He did not invite his daughter and son-in-law. Sati felt the insult and went to Her father and questioned him. He gave Her a displeasing reply. Sati got enraged at this. She did not want any more to be called his daughter. She preferred to offer Her body to fire and to be born again as Parvati to marry Shiva. She created fire through Her Yoga’s power and destroyed Herself in that Yogagni.

Lord Shiva sent Virabhadra. He destroyed the sacrifice and drove away all the Devas who assembled there. The head of Daksha was cut off and thrown into the fire. Lord Shiva had a goat’s head stuck to the body of Daksha at the request of Brahma.

Lord Shiva repaired to the Himalayas to do austerities. Asura Taraka had a boon from Brahma that he should die only at the hands of the son of Shiva and Parvati. Therefore the Devas requested Himavan to have Sati as his daughter. Himavan agreed. Sati was born as Parvati, the daughter of Himavan. She served Lord Shiva during His penance and worshipped Him. Lord Shiva married Parvati.

Narada proceeded to Kailasa and saw Shiva and Parvati with one body, half male, half female in the form of Ardhanarisvara. He wanted to see their play at dice. Lord Shiva said He won the game. Parvati said that She was victorious. There was a quarrel. Shiva left Parvati and went to practise austerities. Parvati assumed the form of a huntress and met Shiva. Shiva fell in love with the huntress. He went with her to her father to get his consent for the marriage. Narada informed Lord Shiva that the huntress was Parvati. Narada told Parvati to apologise to Her Lord. They were reunited.

Shiva assumed the form of Arunachala hill as a Linga. He subdued the pride of Brahma and Vishnu who were quarrelling as to their relative greatness. Arunachala is a Tejolinga. Parvati saw Shiva as Arunachala-Isvara. Shiva took Parvati back to His side and made Her again Ardhanari.

Asura Taraka greatly oppressed the Devas. Mahi-Sagara-Sangama-Kshetra was his capital. Lord Subrahmanya, the second son of Parvati, killed the Asura on the seventh day after his birth.

Parvati created a child with the face of an elephant for Her pleasure. He was Lord Ganesa. He was made the Lord of all creatures to remove their obstacles. One day Lord Shiva offered a fruit saying that it would be given to that child who would go round the world first. Lord Subrahmanya proceeded on a tour round the world. Lord Ganesa went round His father Shiva, the Maha Linga who enveloped the whole universe, and got the fruit.

Parvati had a dark skin. One day Lord Shiva playfully referred to Her dark colour. She was much touched by Shiva’s remark. She went to the Himalayas to perform austerities. She attained a beautiful complexion and came to be called Gauri. Gauri joined Shiva as Ardhanarisvara by the grace of Brahma.

One day Parvati came behind Lord Shiva and closed His eyes. The whole universe lost life and light. Shiva asked Parvati to practise austerities in order to make amends for Her folly. She proceeded to Kanchi (Kanjivaram) and did rigorous penance. Lord Shiva created a flood. The Shiva Linga which Parvati was worshipping was about to be washed away. She embraced the Linga. The Linga remained there as Ekambaresvara. She remained there as Kamakshi for the welfare of the world.

Parvati ever dwells with Shiva as His Shakti. She is the Divine Mother of this universe. She sheds wisdom and grace on Her devotees and makes them attain union with Her Lord. Salutations to Parvati and Shiva, the real Parents of all beings.

The Divine Mother

Children are more familiar with the mother than with the father. Mother is an embodiment of affection, tenderness and love. She looks after the wants of the children. Whenever a child wants anything it approaches the mother rather than the father. In spiritual matters also the aspirant has more concern with Mother Kali than Father Shiva. Shiva is indifferent to the external world. He is unattached. He is lost in Samadhi with His eyes closed. It is Shakti or the Divine Mother alone who really looks after the affairs of the world. She will introduce to Her Lord for the attainment of final emancipation when She is pleased with the earnestness of the devotee.

Shiva and Shakti are inseparable. This is shown in Ardhanarisvara—Shiva and Parvati (with one body, half-male and half-female). Lord Shiva has Parvati as the left half of His body.

Shiva-Jnana leads us on to the realisation of Self and bestows on us eternal bliss and frees us from births and deaths. It shows us the light of life. It is the eye of intuition. It is the third eye of Shiva. This third eye destroys all illusions and passions.

Shakti is thought of in various forms. Sarasvati is the Goddess of learning. Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth. Parvati or Uma is the bliss-bestowing Goddess.

The Markandeya Purana contains seven hundred verses which are known as the Sapta-sati or the Chandi or the Devi-Mahatmya. It is one of the most famous religious texts of the Hindus. It ranks almost equal with the Gita. It describes in an allegorical form, that in the path of salvation the chief obstacles are our own desire, anger, greed and ignorance and we can overcome them through the grace of Divine Mother if we sincerely worship Her.

The book gives a beautiful description of the three aspects of the Mother as Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Maha Sarasvati—the Tamasic, the Rajasic and the Sattvic aspects of the Divine Mother.

The Devas were oppressed by the Asuras. The gods invoked the blessings of Divine Mother. She appeared as the above three forms and destroyed the Asuras and protected the gods. The Divine Mother has given men as well as gods, Her definite and infallible promise that whenever they would remember Her in danger or difficulties She would save them.

Shakti Energises the Trimurtis

O Lord Shiva! Silent adorations unto Thee! Thou art the only refuge, the only object of adoration, the one Governor of the Universe, the self-effulgent Being. Thou art the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe. Thou art the Highest, the Immovable, the Absolute.

Shakti is the energy or the vital power that makes any activity possible. When a man does any work he does it only by virtue of his Shakti. If he is unable to do the work he says that he has no Shakti to do that work. Hence Shakti is that which enables one to work. Shakti is Devi. Shakti is the Divine Mother. Mind is Shakti. Prana is Shakti. Will is Shakti.

Devi Bhagavata deals with the forms of Prakriti. Devi took the Trimurtis to Her abode in Manidvipa, gave them their consorts Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati and sent out for the life of universe in the new Kalpa.

Lord Narayana created Brahma from His navel. Brahma did not know what to do. Vishnu and Shiva also did not know how to set going the life of a new universe in a new Kalpa after the dissolution. They were lifted in a Vimana or celestial car and they soon reached a strange region where they were transformed into women. They were in a land of women headed by Devi. It was Manidvipa in the Sudha Samudra, the ocean of nectar. The newly made women stayed there, for a hundred years. They did not know who they were, why they were there and what they were to do.

Then they were put in the company of men and they themselves became men. They were coupled, Brahma with Sarasvati, Vishnu with Lakshmi and Shiva with Parvati. They found themselves at once in their original place and they knew what to do. They understood their functions. The Trimurtis attain Shakti through association with the Devi.

Parvati is the Shakti of Lord Shiva who bestows Jnana and Mukti on men. Lakshmi is the Shakti of Vishnu who gives prosperity to the people. Sarasvati is the Shakti of Brahma who creates the world. Radha is the Shakti of Lord Krishna who leads humanity to Mukti through Bhakti.

May Shakti bless you all with Shakti!

Mother Ganga

The Ganga is the most sacred river of India. Lord Krishna says in the Gita: “I am the Ganga among rivers”. No germ can flourish in the waters of the Ganga. It is saturated with antiseptic minerals. In the West, doctors prescribe Ganga water for rubbing in the treatment of diseases of the skin. Ganga is not merely a river. It is a sacred Tirtha. It is possessed of mysterious powers which are not found in any other rivers of the world. Even scientists have admitted the efficacy of the Ganga water.

Dr. F.C. Harrison of McGill University, Canada, writes: “A peculiar fact, which has never been satisfactorily explained, is the quick death (in three or five hours) of the cholera vibrio in the waters of Ganga. When one remembers sewage, by numerous corpses of natives (often dead of cholera) and by the bathing of thousands of natives, it seems remarkable that the belief of the Hindus, that the water of this river is pure and cannot be defiled, and that they can safely drink it and bathe in it, should be confirmed by means of modern bacteriological research.” A well-known French physician Dr. D. Herelle, made similar investigations into the mystery of the Ganga. He observed some of the floating corpses of men dead of dysentery and cholera and was surprised to find that only a few feet below the bodies, where one would expect to find millions of these dysentery and cholera germs, there were no germs at all. He then grew germs from patients having the disease and to these cultures added water from the Ganga. When he incubated the mixture for a period, much to his surprise, the germs were completely destroyed.

A British physician Dr. C.E. Nelson, F.R.C.S. tells us of another striking fact. He says: “Ships leaving Calcutta for England take their water from the Hugli river which is one of the mouths of the filthy Ganga and this Ganga water will remain fresh all the way to England. On the other hand, ships leaving England for India, find that the water they take on in London will not stay fresh till they reach Bombay, the nearest Indian port, which is a week closer to England than Calcutta. They must replenish their water supply at Port Said, Suez or at Aden on the Red Sea. It is no wonder that the Indian people should hold that the Ganga is very sacred and possessed of mysterious powers.”

For a Hindu the word ‘Ganga’ has its own sacred association. Every Hindu thirsts for a dip in the Ganga, and for a drop of water at the time of his death. Aspirants and mendicants build their huts on the banks of the Ganga for practising penance, and meditation. Bhishma spoke very highly on the glory of the Ganga in his parting instructions to the Pandavas from his bed of arrows.

Whenever a pious Hindu goes to take his bath, he invokes first the Ganga, and feels Her presence in the water before he takes a plunge in the river. If he lives in a place far away from the Ganga, he intensely yearns to see Her on some day and feels blessed by bathing in the holy waters. He carries some water to his house and carefully saves it in a vessel so that he may use it for purposes of purification.

Hindus believe that all their sins are washed away if they take a dip in the sacred waters of the Ganga.

In the Satya Yuga, all places were sacred. In the Treta Yuga, Pushkara was considered as the most holy place. In the Dvapara Yuga, Kurukshetra was regarded as the most sacred place. In Kali Yuga, the Ganga has that glory. Devi Bhagavata says: “He who utters the name of Ganga even from hundreds of miles afar, is freed from sins and attains the abode of Lord Hari”.

The Ganga comes out of the Supreme Being. She enters the feet of Lord Hari and reaches Vaikuntha. She issues from Goloka and passes through the regions of Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, Dhruva, Chandra, Surya, Tapah, Janah, Mahah, and reaching Indraloka flows as Mandakini.

The Ganga entered the matted locks of Lord Shiva at the request of Bhagiratha who did rigorous penance for the descent of Ganga to Patala for the redemption of his ancestors, the thousand sons of Sagara, who had been burnt to ashes by sage Kapila.

Thereupon, She flowed down from the locks of Lord Shiva. She was drunk up by the sage Jahnu, as the water inundated the Yajnasala of the sage. Then again She issued out of the ear of the sage and acquired the name of Jahnavi. She is also known by the name Bhagirathi, daughter of Bhagiratha. The Ganga flowed into Patala as Bhagirathi. The ancestors of the king were raised to Svarga by the touch of the sacred waters of the Ganga.

Ganga had to take a human form on account of Her own fault in behaviour in the presence of Brahma. She became the wife of Santanu. Santanu also was a celestial being known as king Mahabhisha. He had to take birth in the world for his fault in conduct in the presence of Brahma by showing vanity. Ganga gave birth to Bhishma, the illustrious hero and sage.

Ganga consented to bear the seed of Lord Shiva which was transferred to Her by Agni. She gave to the world Lord Subrahmanya, the great commander of the army of Devas, who killed the formidable Asura Taraka.

Ganga is the form of Vishnu. Her sight is soul-stirring and elevating. She flows in the valleys and lives by the side of Parvati, daughter of Himavan. How magnificent She is when She flows in the valley of Rishikesh! She has a blue colour like that of the ocean. The water is extremely clear and sweet. Rich people from the plains get water from Rishikesh. They take it in big copper-vessels to far off places in India.

To have a look at the Ganga in Rishikesh, is soul-elevating. To sit for a few minutes on a block of stone by the side of the Ganga, is a blessing. To stay for some months in Rishikesh on the bank of the Ganga and do Anushthana or Purascharana, is great Tapes which will take the aspirant to the abode of Lord Hari. To live for ever on the banks of the Ganga and spend the life in meditation is Shivanandam.

May Mother Ganga bless you all! May She help you to live on Her banks and practise Yoga and Tapas!

Tripura Rahasya

The three cities are Anava Mala (egoism), Karma (bondage of Karma) and Maya (the illusory power of Lord Shiva which veils the individual souls). Destroy the first city Anava Mala through self-surrender to Lord Shiva and consequent descent of His grace (Anugraha). Annihilate the second impurity, viz., Karma, through consecrating the fruits of your actions to the Lord and destroying the idea ‘I am the doer’, by developing the Nimitta Bhava, the Bhava that Lord Shiva is working through your various organs and that you are a mere instrument in His hands (Chariyai and Kiriyai). You will not be bound by actions. You will attain purity of heart and through purity of heart, realisation of Shivanandam or eternal bliss of Shiva. Annihilate the third impurity, viz., Maya, through the recitation of Panchakshara, worship of Guru, hearing and reflection of the attributes of the Lord and His various Lilas and meditation on His form and Satchidananda aspect.

This is the destruction of the three cities or castles. This is Tripura Rahasya.

Destroy Tamas through Rajas and convert Rajas into Sattva, by developing various virtuous qualities, by taking Sattvic food, by Satsanga, Japa of Panchakshara and meditation on Lord Shiva. Transcend Sattva also. You will attain oneness with Lord Shiva.

This is the destruction of the three cities or castles. This is Tripura Rahasya.

Annihilate the evil tendencies or Asubha Vasanas, viz., lust, anger, greed, hatred, jealousy, through Subha Vasanas or good tendencies, viz., Japa, meditation, study of religious books, Kirtan or singing Lord’s praise. You will enjoy the eternal bliss of Shiva.

This is the destruction of the three cities or castles. This is Tripura Rahasya.

Serve the Guru. Purify your heart by serving him with faith and devotion. Learn the Yogic practices which lead to the awakening of Kundalini from him and practise them. Study the Yoga Sastras under him. Observe celibacy. Kill the Shadripus or six enemies. Look within. Take the Kundalini through the Sushumna Nadi and break the Granthis through the Chakras and unite Her with Her Lord SadaShiva at the Sahasrara Chakra at the crown of the head and enjoy the eternal bliss of Lord Shiva.

This is the destruction of the three cities or castles. This is Tripura Rahasya.

Kill the three bodies, i.e., transcend the three bodies, viz., the gross or physical body (Sthula Deha), subtle body (Sukshma Deha) and causal body (Karana Sarira). Go above the five sheaths or Kosas (Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vijnanamaya and Anandamaya), through meditation on Lord Shiva and attain Shiva Sayujya.

This is the destruction of the three cities or castles. This is Tripura Rahasya.

Become a witness of the three states, viz., waking, dreaming and deep sleep states. Stand as a spectator. Withdraw yourself from the objective consciousness. Live within. Attain the Turiya state or the fourth state or Shiva Pada.

This is the destruction of the three cities or castles. This is Tripura Rahasya.

Go above physical consciousness, subconsciousness and mental consciousness and attain the superconsciousness state or Nirvikalpa or Asamprajnata Samadhi.

This is the destruction of the three cities or castles. This is Tripura Rahasya.

Go above instinct, reason, understanding and open the eye of intuition, the third eye of Shiva (Divya Chakshus) and merge yourself in the supreme light of Shiva. Go above thinking, willing and feeling and enter the supreme silence or thoughtless state of Shiva Nirvana.

This is the destruction of the three cities or castles. This is Tripura Rahasya.

Tripura Sundari is the Shakti of Lord Shiva. She and Shiva are one. She is extremely beautiful. She attracts the devotees to Her blissful Self and sheds wisdom, devotion and divine light on them. Hence, She is called Tripura Sundari. She helps the aspirants to destroy the three cities or castles mentioned above.

The whole world is under Her control. The entire universe is under the sway of Her three Gunas. All the ties and bonds of Karma can be broken down; the wheel of births and deaths can be rent asunder only by Her worship and benign grace. All sins can be destroyed and the eternal bliss of Shiva can be realised only through singing Her praise and repetition of Her Names.

She is called Tripura, the three cities. The body of a man or a woman is one of the forms assumed by Her. The whole world is Her body. All the Devas are Her forms only. All the triplets of the sacred texts are contained in Her. The triplets, viz., the three Gunas, the three states of consciousness, the three fires, the three bodies, the three worlds, the triple power (Iccha Shakti, Kriya Shakti and Jnana Shakti), the three Svaras (Udatta, Anudatta and Svarita), the Trivarnikas, the three kinds of Karmas (Sanchita, Agami and Prarabdha), the Trimurtis, the three letters A, U, M, and the triad Pramata, Pramana and Prameya, knower, knowledge and knowable, seer, sight and seen, are all contained in Tripurasundari.

All the Devatas dwell in this body. They are the presiding deities of the various organs. The Lord Tryambaka dwells in Muladhara, Jambukesvara in Svadhishthana, Arunachalesvara in Manipura, Nataraja in Anahata, Kalahastisvara in Visuddha, Visvesvara in Ajna and Srikanthesvara in Sahasrara.

All the sacred places are in this body—Kedar in the forehead, Amaravati in the tip of the nose, Kurukshetra in the breasts and Prayaga in the heart.

All the nine planets have their special abodes in the body. Sun is in the Nada-Chakra, moon in the Bindu-Chakra, Mars in the eyes, Mercury in the heart, Jupiter in the Manipura, Venus in the Svadhishthana, Saturn in the navel, Rahu in the face and Ketu in the thorax.

Countless rivers and hills are also allotted special places in the body. Whatever is found in the outer world is found in the body also. This body is microcosm. It is Pindanda.

This is Tripura Rahasya.

May you attain the grace of Tripurasundari and understand the Tripura Rahasya and attain Shivananda or eternal bliss of Lord Shiva.

Kamakshi and the Dumb Poet

The word ‘Muka’ means dumb. A certain devotee was performing rigorous austerities in the temple of Goddess Kamakshi at Kanchi to obtain Her Grace. Kamakshi appeared in the form of a beautiful maiden before the devotee to bless him. The devotee took Her to be an ordinary human maiden and did not show any veneration. She left him and found a person sleeping in another corner of the temple. He was dumb from his birth. She woke him up. He was extremely joyous when he saw Her. The Goddess wrote the Bijakshara on his tongue and blessed him with the power of speech. He became the celebrated Muka Kavi (dumb poet). He sang five hundred verses called the Panchasati which describe the glory of Devi, of Her lotus-feet, of Her grace, of Her gracious glance and of Her loving maternal smile. One hundred verses are devoted to each of these five aspects. Hence the work is called ‘Mukapanchasati’.

The dumb poet became the Acharya of the Kama Koti Pitha at Kumbakonam and occupied the seat for thirtynine years.

The Mukapanchasati is read with intense devotion during the Navaratri celebrations in South India by all religious-minded persons.

Kalidasa was an unlettered shepherd. He also was turned into India’s most talented poet through the benign grace of Mother Kali. Kalidasa in his famous Syamaladandaka, has praised Devi in a charming manner.

Glory to the Devi who is the giver of the power of speech!

Hymn for Forgiveness to Mother

Mother is more dear to the child than the father. Mother is gentle, soft, sweet, tender and affectionate. She is full of smiles. Father is stiff, harsh, rude, rough and hard-hearted. The child runs towards the mother for getting presents, sweets, fruits and other gifts. The child can open the heart more freely towards the mother than to the father.

Even so, poets and saints also are more familiar with the Divine Mother than with the Divine Father. They open their heart more freely towards the Divine Mother. They have found much more intimate cries of the heart when they speak of the Deity as their Mother, than when they address themselves to God as Father. Go through the following hymn to Mother by Sri Sankara. You will feel and realise the truth of the above statement.

By my ignorance of Thy commands
By my poverty and sloth
I had not the power to do that which I should have done
Hence my omission to worship Thy feet
But O Mother, auspicious deliverer of all
All this should be forgiven,
For, a bad son may sometimes be born, but a bad mother never.

O Mother! Thou hast many sons on earth
But I, Thy son, am of no worth
Yet it is not meet, that Thou shouldst abandon me
For, a bad son may sometimes be born, but a bad mother never.

O Mother of the world! O Mother!
I have not worshipped Thy feet
Nor have I given abundant wealth to Thee
Yet the affection which Thou bestowest on me is without compare
For, a bad son may sometimes be born, but a bad mother never.


Source: Reproduced, with the general permission, from Lord Shiva and His Worship, WWW edition 2000, By Sri Swami Shivananda © The Divine Life Trust Society