Understanding the concept of Shiva and Shakti

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
National Vice President Elect IMA

After the life force leaves the body even the wife does not likes to come near the body (Bhaja Govindam). This life force has no weight, water cannot wet it, air cannot dry it, and weapons cannot cut it (Bhagwat Gita Chapter 2).

The scientific description of this life force comes from the first Maha Vakya, from Aitareya Upanishad in Rig Veda, which describes that “Consciousness or Intelligence is the Brahman (Pragnanam Brahma).

This life force or the intelligence represents the conscious energy, energized consciousness or energized information.

In computer language this intelligence is both the fed in data and the software to operate this data. The software is driven by the power of intention and by the process of attention.

In Vedic language the data is the “Purusha or Shiva” and the software the “Shakti” (Sakti). While the data or the Shiva is inactive and idle, without Shakti or energy, the data has no value and it makes” Shiva” a “SAVA”. When Shakti moves toward Shiva it becomes awareness or consciousness. In Vedanta language it is called as soul or Brahman.

For comparison, what relationship Matter and Energy have in Physics; Purusha and Prakruti in Samkya Philosophy; Infinite and Zero in Mathematics; Potential and Kinetic Energy in Energetics; Meaning and Word in Linguistics; Father and Mother in sociology; the same is with Shiva and Sakti in understanding the mystery of Vedanta.

Shiva and Sakti are thus two inseparable entities in Indian mysticism. Just as moonlight cannot be separated from the moon, Shakti cannot be separated from Shiva. Kashmir Shaivism says that “Shiva without Shakti is lifeless (Sava) because wisdom cannot move without power”.

Shiva and Shakti are different from the masculine and feminine aspects of the human body. In tantric spiritual path, one seeks to develop a perfect harmony and balance between masculine aspects (example mental focus, will, intellect) and feminine aspects (example sensitivity, emotion).

Shiva or the data is classified in the body in three subgroups: creation, protection and destruction. These in Hindu mythology are called the “Brahma Vishnu and Mahesh”. Some add another two more dimensions in them making them five and these are “revelation and concealment”. One can find these qualities in anything that’s alive.

The Shakti or the forces (power) are also sub classified in five sub types.

1. Chitta Shakti: Pure consciousness or the awareness of God.
2. Ananda Shakti or pure bliss.
3. Gnana Shakti or the knowledge of God. It is the pure knowledge which organizes and orchestrates the infinite correlative activity of the universe.
4. Kriya Shakti or ‘pure action’ which is the actions directed toward God (action which doesn’t have the bondage of karma. Action which has the bondage of karma comes from the ego. It’s based on beliefs and expectations and interpretations and fears and judgments and past memories, whereas non-binding action, which is non-Karmic, is called Kriya—action rooted in pure awareness and creativity)
5. Desire (Icha Sakti: the desire or intention to unite with God)

Deepak Chopra in his Book, Path of Love Describes Shakti as under:
If the voice of God spoke to you, Her powers would be conveyed in simple, universal phrases:

a. Chitta Shakti: “I am.”
b. Ananda Shakti: “I am blissful.”
c. Gnana (Gyana) Shakti: “I know.”
d. Kriya Shakti: “I act.”
e. Icha Shakti: “I will” or “I intend.”

These powers, if used towards acquiring spiritual wellbeing, any action (pure kriya) directed by the desire (pure ischa) leads to pure knowledge (pure gnana) and ends with internal bliss (ananda).

On the other hand, in routine life if these powers are governed by the ego, then the Action (Kriya) leads to Memory (Gnana) and the memory leads to desire (Icha) and then action again.

According to Tantra, Satchidananda is called Shiva-Sakti, the hyphenated word suggesting that Shiva or the Absolute and Sakti or its creative power, are eternally conjoined like a word and its meaning; the one cannot be thought of without the other.