Shakti’s Place in the Hindu Pantheon and Mythology
Shakti (Devanagari: शक्ति, IAST: Śakti; .lit “power, ability, strength, might, effort, energy, capability”), is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism and Shaktism.
Shakti is the concept or personification of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as “The Great Divine Mother” in Hinduism. As a mother, she is known as “Adi Shakti” or “Adi Parashakti”. On the earthly plane, Shakti most actively manifests through female embodiment and creativity/fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form. Hindus believe that Shakti is both responsible for creation and the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation, its most significant form being the Kundalini Shakti, a mysterious psychospiritual force.
David Kinsley mentions the “shakti” of Lord Indra’s as Sachi (Indrani), meaning power. Indrani is part of a group of seven or eight mother goddesses called the Matrikas(Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kumari, Varahi and Chamundi or Narasimhi), who are considered shaktis of major Hindu gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Skanda, Varaha/Yama and Narasimha respectively).
The Shakti goddess is also known as Amma (meaning ‘mother’) in south India, especially in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. There are many temples devoted to various incarnations of the Shakti goddess in most of the villages in South India. The rural people believe that Shakti is the protector of the village, the punisher of evil people, the curer of diseases, and the one who gives welfare to the village. They celebrate Shakti Jataras with great interest once a year. Some examples of Shakti incarnations are Ganga, Yamuna , Kamakshi, Kanakadurga, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati , Meenakshi, Manasa, Mariamman, Yellamma, Poleramma, Gangamma and Perantalamma.
One of the oldest representations of the goddess in India is in a triangular form. The Baghor stone, found in a Paleolithic context in the Son River valley and dating to 9,000-8,000 years BCE, is considered an early example of a yantra. Kenoyer, part of the team that excavated the stone, considered that it was highly probable that the stone is associated with Shakti.
The Cult of Shakti
Shaktism regards Devi (lit., “the Goddess”) as the Supreme Brahman itself with all other forms of divinity considered to be merely Her diverse manifestations. In the details of its philosophy and practice, Shaktism resembles Shaivism. However, Shaktas (Sanskrit: Śakta, शक्त), practitioners of Shaktism, focus most or all worship on Shakti, as the dynamic feminine aspect of the Supreme Divine. Shiva, the masculine aspect of divinity, is considered solely transcendent, and Shiva’s worship is usually secondary.
By you this universe is borne, By you this world is created, Oh Devi, by you it is protected.
From Shaktisangama Tantra:
Woman is the creator of the universe, the universe is her form; woman is the foundation of the world, she is the true form of the body.
In woman is the form of all things, of all that lives and moves in the world. There is no jewel rarer than woman, no condition superior to that of a woman.
Adi Parashakti, whose material manifestation is Tripura Sundari, is a Hindu concept of the Ultimate Shakti or Mahashakti, the ultimate power inherent in all Creation. This is especially prevalent in the Shakta denomination within Hinduism, which worships the Goddess Devi in all her manifestations. Her human or Shakti swaroop/form, Parvati, was married to Shiva, while her knowledge/gyan swaroop form, Saraswati, weds Lord Brahma and her wealth/Dhan swaroop form, Lakshmi, becomes the consort of Lord Vishnu.
Tree of Life Attribution
The Hindu Deities correspondence for Binah according to Crowley’s classification are Bavani (all forms of Sakti), Prana (as Force), Yoni. (Aleister Crowley, 777, p. 9) To explain this attribution, Israel Regardie reminds his readers that Binah being the third of the Sephiroth, brings to mind that three, also, is Sakti,37 the consort of the god Shiva, who is the destroyer of life. In this context “Sakti is that universal electric vital power which unites and brings together all forms, the constructive power that carries out, in the formation of things, the plan of the Thought Divine, which is Chokmah. Binah is maya, the universal power of illusion,38 Kwan Yin of Chinese Buddhism,39 the yin of Taoism,40 the goddess Kali of the orthodox Hindu religions and the Great Sea wherefrom we are sprung. (Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 43) The aspect or attribute of being associated with the feminine, is why Binah is often associated with various occult things that reflect the females. It is related to the Yoni, and to the womb.