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What is Shakti?

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

by Sara Atia

June 26, 2022

Shakti is the divine feminine energy that is responsible for all creation. Feminine energy is associated with creativity because the womb is where life is created, yet this energy resides in all.

In Yogic science, Shakti resides at the Muladhara chakra, our root chakra at the base of our spine. Here, in most, this energy remains asleep. With Yogic techniques, we can awaken Shakti, our Kundalini energy from the base of our spine to rise up to meet Shiva- divine masculine energy. When these two energies meet, the manifestation of life happens - and that is Kundalini. The first time I heard about Kundalini, it was explained by the inspiring instructor Kara Looney, who described it as “when the sperm meets the egg… that is Kundalini energy.”

Shiva resides in the Sahasrara chakra, the crown of the head, and is what gives us consciousness. Shakti is what makes up maya - the illusion of the material world. In Tantra, one cannot exist without the other. Shiva is consciousness, the essence of life while Shakti is its material existence that brings it into physical manifestation.

The yogic mythology of how the universe came into existence strongly resembles modern scientist's theory of the Big Bang - Shiva was in deep meditation, a pure witness, and Shakti came and aroused him. He made a big roar in the sound "Om" - this was the Union of divine male and female energies which came to birth the cosmos. (This is why I like to describe an awakening as the big bang happening within you - a comforting explanation for the most common symptom that arises, shaking.)

In Vedic scriptures, the Sanskrit term Maya means "illusion," illusion that this material reality is the absolute truth. Material reality where all changes, cannot be truth. Truth is that which is eternal: all that changes is perishable, and the soul, the Atman, does not change. It remains in its pure state, that is the truth of existence. That is not to say that this material reality isn’t real at all - it is real, but there is a reality that is more real which we cannot perceive through our five senses. For example, when we are asleep and dreaming, we may be convinced that the dream is real. But when we wake up, we realize it was all a dream. This is similar to the levels of consciousness we go through when we spiritually awaken through the rise of Kundalini Shakti. We realize our whole reality, life, has been a dream. All the clinging to perishable things that once caused us suffering, the losing game in trying to find fulfillment in finite things ceases to hold any power over us. Now we see the truth - that this material world is an illusion, and reality is infinite, beyond perception of the senses. It is the Atman.

Shakti is individual consciousness, shiva is universal consciousness, the merging of the two is what destroys the illusion of maya - we become one with cosmic consciousness.

May all who read this, if not already, be inspired to start their journey towards self-realization.

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Layla Hariry
Layla Hariry
Jun 27, 2022

Thanks for clarifying, I always wondered what "Shakti" meant: creative life-force. Brilliant!

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