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The Shaivite Philosophy of Shakti and Shiva

Ram V Chandran

Shaktism is the worship of the Supreme Power in the form of Mother, who creates, sustains and ends the universe; from cycle to cycle. Shankara in his Saundaryalahari declares:

"Shiva is able to function when united with Sakti; otherwise he is inert."

Shiva is the unchanging consciousness and Sakti its changing power, appearing as mind and matter. The Rig-Veda describes Shakti as the embodiment of power and the upholder of the universe. Sakti is represented as the sister of Krishna and the wife of Shiva. She is worshipped as Devi, who is one with Brahman. A variant of the Shaivite philosophy, which developed in Kashmir, is known as the Pratyabhijna system. Here, as Dr. Radhakrishnan says, Siva is the subject as well as the object, the experiencer as well as the experienced.

"As the consciousness on which all this resultant world is established, whence it issues, is free in its nature, it cannot be restricted anywhere. As it moves in the differentiated states of waking, sleeping, etc., identifying itself with them, it never falls from its true nature as the knower."

In the strain of Advaita Vedanta it is said,

"That alone in which there is no pleasure, no pain, no known or knower, nor again unconsciousness, really exists."

Ram V Chandran
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