Shiva and Shakti

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Written by Sir John Woodroffe, Book: Introduction to Tantra Sastra 


THAT eternal immutable existence which transcends the turiya and all other states in the unconditioned Absolute, the supreme Brahman or Para-brahman, without Prakṛ ti (niṣ kala) or Her attributes (nir-guṇ a), which, as being the inner self and knowing subject, can
never be the object of cognition, and is to be apprehended only through yoga by the realization of the Self (ātma-jāna), which it is. For, as it is said, “Spirit can alone know Spirit.” Being beyond mind, speech, and without name, the Brahman was called “Tat,” “That,” and then “Tat Sat,” “That which is.” For the sun, moon, and stars, and all visible things, what are they but a
glimpse of light caught from “That” (Tat)?


Brahman is both niṣ kala and sakala. Kalā is Prakṛ ti. The niṣ kala-Brahman or Para-brahman is the Tat when thought of as without Prakṛ ti (Prakṛ teranyā). It is called sakala when with Prakṛ ti.1 As the substance of Prakṛ ti is the three guṇ as It is then sa-guṇ a, as in the previous state It was nir-guṇ a. Though in the latter state It is thought of as without Śakti, yet (making accommodation to human speech) in It potentially exists Śakti, Its power and the whole universe produced by It.
To say, however, that the Śakti exists in the Brahman is but a form of speech, since It and Śakti are, in fact, one,


1 Śārada-tilaka (chap. i), and chap. i. of Śāktānanda-taran ̣ gini (“Waves of Bliss of Śaktas), both Tantrika works of great authority.



and Śakti is eternal (Anādi-rūpā).1 She is Brahma-rūpā and both viguṇ a (nir-guṇ a) and sa-guṇ ā; the Caitanyarūpiṇ i-Devī, who Manifests all bhūta. She is the Ānandarūpin ī Devī, by whom the Brahman manifests Itself,2 and who, to use the words of the Śārada, pervades the universe as does oil the sesamum seed.


In the beginning the Niṣ kala-Brahman alone existed. In the beginning there was the One. It willed
and became many. Ahaṃ -bahu-syām ̣ —“may I be many.” In such manifestation of Śakti the Brahman is known as the lower (apara) or manifested Brahman, who, as, the subject of worship, is meditated upon with attributes. And, in fact, to the mind and sense of the embodied spirit (jīva) the Brahman has body and form. It is embodied in the forms of all Devas and Devīs, and
in the worshipper himself. Its form is that of the universe, and of all things and beings therein.

As Śruti says: “He saw” (Sa aikṣ ata, ahaṃ bahu syām prajāyeya). He thought to Himself “May I be many.” “Sa aikṣ ata” was itself a manifestation of Śakti, the Paramāpūrva-nirvāṇ a-śakti of Brahman as Śakti.3 From the Brahman, with Śakti (Parahaktimaya) issued Nāda (Śiva-Śakti as the “Word” or “Sound”), and from Nāda, Bindu appeared. Kālicharana in his commentary
on the Ṣ aṭ cakra-nirūpaṇ a4 says that Śiva and Nirvāṇ aŚakti bound by a māyik bond and covering, should be thought of as existing in the form of Paraṃ Bindu.


1. Pranamya prakṛ tiṃ nityaṃ paramātma-svarūpinim (loc. cit. Śāktānanda-taraṇ giṇ i).
2. Kubjika-Tantra, 1st Patala.
3. Ṣ aṭ -cakra-nirupaṇ a. Commentary on verse 49, “The Serpent Power.”
4. Ibid., verse 37.


The Sāradā1 says: Saccidānanda-vibhavāt sakalāt parameśvarāt āsicchaktistato nādo, nadad bindusamudbhavah. (“From Parameśvara vested with the wealth of Saccidananda and with Prakṛ ti (sakala) issued Śakti; from Śakti came Nāda and from Nāda was born Bindu”). The state of subtle body which is known as Kāma-kalā is the mūla of mantra. The term mūlamantrātmikā,
when applied to the Devī, refers to this subtle body of Hers known as the Kāma-kalā.2 The
Tantra also speaks of three Bindus, namely, Śiva-maya, Śakti-maya, and Śiva-Śakti maya.3

The paraṃ -bindu is represented as a circle, the centre of which is the brahma-pada, or place of Brahman, wherein are Prakṛ ti-Puruṣ a, the circumference of which is encircling māyā.4 It is on the crescent of nirvāṇ a-kalā the seventeenth, which is again in that of amā-kalā, the sixteenth digit (referred to in the text) of the moon-circle (Candra-maṇ ḍ ala), which circle is situate above the
Sun-Circle (Sūrya-maṇ ḍ ala), the Guru and the Haṃ sah, which are in the pericarp of the thousand-petalled lotus (saharārapadrna). Next to the Bindu is the fiery
Bodhinī, or Nibodhikā (v. post). The Bindu, with the Nirvāṇ a-kalā, Nibodhikā, and Amā-kalā, are situated in the lightning-like inverted triangle5 known as “A, Ka,


1 Śārada-tilaka (chap. i).
2 See Bhāskararāya’s Commentary on the Lalitāsahasranāma, verse 36.
3 Prāṇ a-toṣ ini (p. 8).
4 Māyābandhanacchaditaprakr tipuruṣ a-paraṃ binduh. Commentary to verse 49 of the Ṣ aṭ -cakra-nirupaṇ a.
5 The Devī-Puraṇ a says that Kuṇ ḍ alinī is so called because She has the Śṛ n ̣ gaṭ āka or triangle form, the three angles being the icchā, jāna and kriyā-Śaktis (see also Yoginī-hṛ daya).


Tha” and which is so called because at its apex is A; at its right base is Ka; and at its left base Tha. It is made up of forty-eight letters (mātṛ kā); the sixteen vowels running from A to Ka; sixteen consonants of the kavarga and other groups running from Ka to Tha; and the remaining sixteen from Tha to A. Inside are the remaining letters (mātṛ kā), ha, la (second), and kṣ a.1 As
the substance of Devī is matṛ ka (mātṛ kāmayī) the triangle represents the “Word” of all that exists. The triangle is itself encircled by the Candra-maṇ ḍ ala. The Bindu is symbolically described as being like a grain of gram (caṇ aka), which under its encircling sheath contains a divided seed. This Paraṃ -bindu is prakṛ ti-Puruṣ a, Śiva-Śakti.2 It is known as the Śabda-Brahman
(the Sound Brahman), or Apara-brahman.3 A polarization of the two Śiva and Śakti-Tattvas then takes place in Paraśakti-maya. The Devī becomes Unmukhī.  Her face turns towards Śiva. There is an unfolding which bursts the encircling shell of Māyā, and creation then takes place by division of Śiva and Śakti or of “Haṃ ” and “Sah.” 4 The Śārada says: “The Devatāparaśakti-
maya is again Itself divided, such divisions being known as Bindu, Bīja, and Nāda.5 Bindu is of the nature of Nāda of Śiva, and Bīja of Śakti, and Nāda has

1 Ṣ aṭ -cakra-nirupaṇ a.
2 Ṣ aṭ -cakra-nirupaṇ a, Commentary, verse 49.
3 Śārada-tilaka, (Chap. i):
Bhidyamant parad bindoravyaktatmaravo’bhavat
Śabda-brahṃ eti tam prāhuh.
“From the unfolding Paraṃ bindu arose an indistinct sound. This bindu is called the Śabdu-brahman.”
4 Ṣ aṭ -cakra-nirupaṇ a, verse 49.
5 That is, tese are three different aspects of It.


been said to be the relation of these two by those who are verse in all the Āgamas.”1 The Śārada says that before the bursting of the shell enclosing the Brahmapada, which, together with its defining circumference, constitutes the Śabda-brahman, an indistinct sound arose (avyaktātmā-ravo’ bhavat). This avyaktanāda is both the first and the last state of Nāda, according as it
is viewed from the standpoint of evolution or involution. For Nāda, as Rāghava-bhaṭ ṭ a 2 says, exists in three states. In Nāda are the guṇ as (sattva, rajas, and tamas), which form the substance of Prakṛ ti, which with Śiva It is. When tamo-guna predominates Nāda is merely an indistinct or unmanifested (dhvanyatmako’- vyaktanādah3) sound in the nature of dhvani. In this state, in which it is a phase of Avyakta-nāda, it is called Nibodhikā, or Bodhinī. It is Nāda when rajo-guna is in
the ascendant, when there is a sound in which there is something like a connected or combined disposition of the letters.4 When the sattva-guna preponderates Nāda assumes the form of Bindu.5 The action of rajas on tamas is to veil. Its own independent action effects an
arrangement which is only perfected by the emergence of the essentially manifesting sattvika-guṇ a set into play by it. Nāda, Bindu, and Nibodhikā, and the Śakti,

1 Chapter 1:
Paraśaktimayah sākṣ at tridhāsau bhidyate punah.
Bindurnādo bījam iti tasya bhedāh samīritah.
Binduh Śivātmako bījaṃ Śaktirnādastayormithah.
Samavāyah samākhyatāh sarvāga-maviśaradaih.
2 See Commentary on verse 48 of the Ṣ aṭ -cakra-nirupaṇ a.
3 Tamo-guṇ ādhikyena kevala-dhvanyātmako’vyakta-nādah. Avyakta is lit. unspoken, hidden, unmanifest, etc.
4 Raja’adhikyena kiṃ cidvarṇ a-nyāsātmakāh.
5 Sattvādhikyena bindurūpah.

of which they are the specific manifestations, are said to be in the form of Sun, Moon and Fire respectively.1 Jāna (spiritual wisdom2) is spoken of as fire as it burns up all actions, and the tamo-guṇ a is associated with it. For when the effect of cause and effect of action are
really known, then action ceases. Icchā is the Moon. The moon contains the sixteenth digit, the Amā-kalā with its nectar, which neither increases nor decays, and Icchā or will is the eternal precursor of creation. Kriyā is like Sun for as the Sun by its light makes all things visible, so unless there is action and striving there cannot be realization or manifestation. As the Gitā says: “As one Sun makes manifest all the lokas.”

The Śabda-Brahman manifests Itself in a triad of energies—knowledge (jānaśakti), will (icchā-śakti), and action (kriyā-śakti), associated with the three guṇ as of Prakṛ ti, tamas, sattva, and rajas. From the Param Bindu who is both bindvātmaka and kalātma—i.e., Śakti—issued Raudri, Rudra and his Śakti, whose forms are Fire (vahni), and whose activity is knowledge
(jāna); Vāmā and Viṣ ṇ u and his Śakti, whose form is the Sun and whose activity is Kriyā (action): and Jyeṣ ṭ ha and Brahma and his Śakti, whose form is the Moon and whose activity is desire. The Vāmakeśvara- Tantra says that Tri-purā is three-fold, as Brahmā, Viṣ ṇ u and Īśa; and as the energies desire, wisdom and


1 Tataśca nāda-bindu-nibodhikāh arkenduvahnirūpah (Ṣ aṭ cakra, verse 49, note). See also the Śāradā (chap. i), which says te (that is, Raudri, Jyeṣ ṭ ha, and Vāmā) jānecchākriyātmano vahnīndvarka-svarūpiṇ ah.
2 Jāna is the knowledge which gives liberation. All other knowledge is called vijāna.



action;1 the energy of will when Brahman would create; the energy of wisdom when She reminds Him, saying “Let this be thus,” and when, thus knowing, He acts, She becomes the energy of action. The Devī is thus Icchā-śakti-jāna-śakti-kriyā-śakti svarūpiṇ i.2


Para-Śiva exists as a septenary under the form, firstly, of Śambhu, who is the associate of time (Kālabandhu). From Him issues Sadā-Śiva, Who pervades and manifests all things, and then come Iśāna and the triad, Rudra, Viṣ ṇ u and Brahma, each with His respective Śakti (without whom they avail nothing3) separately and particularly associated with the guṇ as, tamas,
sattva and rajas. Of these Devas, the last triad, together with Iśāna and Sadā-Śiva, are the five Śivas who are collectively known as the Mahā-preta, whose bīja is “Hsauh.” Of the Mahā-preta, it is said that the last four form the support and the fifth the seat, of the bed on which the Devī is united with Parama-śiva, in the room of cintāmani stone;4 on the jewelled island clad with clumps of kadamba and heavenly trees set in the ocean of Ambrosia.5


1 See Prāṇ a-toṣ ini (pp. 8, 9). Goraksha Sanm ̣ ita and Bhuta-shuddhi-Tantra. See also Yoginī-Tantra, Part I, chap x.
2 Lalitā, verse 130 (see Bhāskararāya’s Commentary).
3 And so the Kubjika Tantra (chap. i) says : " Not Brahma, Viṣ ṇ u, Rudra create, maintain or destroy; but Brahmi, Vaiṣ navi, Rudrāni. Their husbands are as but dead bodies.”
4 The “stone which grants all desires” is described in the Rudrayāmala and Brahmānda-Purāṇ a. It is the place of origin of all those Mantras whichbestow all desired objects (cintita).
5 See Ānandalahari of Sam ̣ karācarya, (verse 8), and Rudrayāmala. According to the Bahurpastaka and Bhairavayāmala, the bed is Śiva, the pillow Maheśana, the matting Śadaśiva, and the four supports Brahma, Hari, Rudra and Iśāna. Hence Devi is called Pancha-preta-mancādhisāyini (verse 174, Lalitāsahasran āma).

Śiva is variously addressed in this work as Śambhu, Sadā-śiva, Śaṃ kara, Maheśvara, etc., names which indicate particular states, qualities and manifestation of the One in its descent towards the many; for there are many Rudras. Thus Sadā-śiva indicates the predominance
of the sattva-guṇ a. His names are many, 1,008 being given in the sixty-ninth chapter of the Śiva-Purān a and in the seventeenth chapter of the Anuśāsana-Parvan of the Mahābharata.1

Śakti is both māyā, that by which the Brahman creating the universe is able to make Itself appear to be different from what It really is,2 and mūla-prakṛ ti, or the unmanifested (avyakta) state of that which, when manifest, is the universe of name and form. It is the primary so-called “material cause,” consisting of the equipoise of the triad of guṇ a or “qualities” which are sattva (that which manifests), rajas (that which acts), tamas (that which veils and produces inertia). The three gunas represent Nature as the revelation of spirit, Nature as the passage of descent from spirit to matter,
or of ascent from matter to spirit and nature as the dense veil of spirit.3 The Devī is thus guṇ a-nidhi4 (treasure- house of guṇ a). Mūla-prakṛ ti is the womb into


1 See also the Agni, Padma, Bhaviṣ yottara, Varaha, Kūrma, Vāmana Purāṇ as, and in particular, the Linga and the Kāsikhānda of the Skanda Purāṇ a.
2 The Devī Purāna (chap. xiv), speaking of this power of the Supreme, says: “That which is of various cause and effect; the giver of unthought-of fruit which in this world seems like magic or a dream; that is called māyā”;
Vicitra-kāryakāraṇ ācintitāphalapradā
Svapnedrajālavalloke māyā tena prakirtita.
3 See post, sub voce “Guṇ a.”
4 Lalitā-sahasra-nāma, (verse 121). For though the Guṇ as are specifically three they have endless modifications.

which Brahman casts the seed from which all things are born.1 The womb thrills to the movement of the essentially active rajo-guṇ a. The equilibrium of the triad is destroyed and the guṇ a, now in varied combinations, evolves under the illumination of Śiva (cit), the universe which is ruled by Maheśvara and Maheśvari. The dual principles of Śiva and Śakti, which are in such dual
form the product of the polarity manifested in Parāśakti- maya, pervade the whole universe and are present in man in the Svayambhū-Linga of the muladhara and the Devī Kuṇ ḍ alinī, who, in serpent form, encircles it. The Śabda-Brahman assumes in the body of man the form of the Devī Kuṇ ḍ alinī, and as such is in all prāṇ is (breathing creatures) and in the shape of letters appears
in prose and verse. Kuṇ ḍ ala means coiled. Hence Kuṇ ḍ alinī, whose form is that of a coiled serpent, means that which is coiled. She is the luminous vital energy (jīva-śakti) which manifests as prāṇ a, She sleeps in the mūlādhāra and has three and a half coils corresponding in number with the three and a half bindus of which the Kubjikā-Tantra speaks. When after closing the ears the sound of Her hissing is not heard death approaches.

From the first avyakta creation issued the second mahat, with its three guṇ as distinctly manifested. Thence sprung the third creation ahaṃ kāra (selfhood), which is of threefold form—vaikārika, or pure sāttvika ahaṃ kāra; the taijasa or rājasika ahaṃ kāra; and the tāmasika or bhūtādika ahaṃ kāra. The latter is the origin of the subtle essences (tanmātrā) of the Tattvas,
ether, air, fire, water, earth, associated with sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell, and with the colours—

1 Bhagavad-gitā (Chap. xiv).


pure transparency, śyāma, red, white, and yellow. There is some difference in the schools as to that which each of the three forms produces but from such threefold form of Ahaṃ kāra issue the indriyas (“senses,” and the Devas Dik, Vāta, Arka, Pracetas, Vahni, Indra, Upendra, Mitra, and the Aśvins. The vaikārika, taijasa, and bhūtādika are the fourth, fifth, and sixth creations, which are known as prākrita, or appertaining to Prakṛ ti. The rest, which are products of these, such as the
vegetable world with its upward life current, animals with horizontal life current and bhūta, preta and the like, whose life current tends downward, constitute the vaikrta creation, the two being known as the kaumāra creation.

The Goddess (Devī) is the great Śakti. She is Māyā for of Her the māyā which produces the saṃ sāra is. As Lord of māyā She is Mahāmāyā.1 Devī is avidyā (nescience) because She binds and vidya (knowledge) because She liberates and destroys the saṃ sara.2 She is Prakṛti,3 and as existing before creation is the Ādyā (primordial) Śakti. Devī is the vācaka-śakti, the manifestation
of Cit in Prakṛ ti, and the vāchya-Śakti, or Cit itself. The Ātmā should be contemplated as Devī.4 Śakti or Devī is thus the Brahman revealed in Its mother aspect (Śri-māta) 5 as Creatrix and Nourisher of the worlds. Kālī says of Herself in Yogini-Tantra:6 “Saccid-


1 Mahāmāyā without māyā is nir-guṇ ā; and with māyā Sa-guṇ a; Śaktānanda tarangini, Chap. 1.
2 Śāktānanda-tarangini (chap. i).
3 Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇ a (chap. i). Pakṛ tikhānda. Nāradīdya Purāṇ a.
4 See chap. ii. of Devī-bhāgavata.
5 Devī is worshipped on account of Her soft heart: (komalāntahkaranam). Śāktānanda-tarangini (chap. iii.)
6 Part I, Chapter X.


ānanda-rūpāhaṃ brahmai-vāhām sphurat-prabham.” So the Devī is described with attributes both of the qualified1 Brahman and (since that Brahman is but the manifestation of the Absolute) She is also addressed with epithets, which denote the unconditioned Brahman. 2 She is the great Mother (Ambikā) sprung from the sacrificial hearth of the fire of the Grand consciousness (cit); decked with the Sun and Moon; Lalitā, “She who plays”; whose play is world-play; whose eyes playing
like fish in the beauteous waters of her Divine face, open and shut with the appearance and disappearance of countless worlds now illuminated by her light, now wrapped in her terrible darkness.3

The Devī, as Para-brahman, is beyond all form and guṇ a. The forms of the Mother of the Universe are threefold. There is first the Supreme (para) form, of which, as the Viṣ ṇ u-yāmala says,4 “none knows.” There is next her subtle (Sūkṣ ma) form, which consists of mantra. But as the mind cannot easily settle itself upon that which is formless,5 She appears as the subject of contemplation
in Her third, or gross (Sthūla), or physical form, with hands and feet and the like as celebrated in the Devīstotra of the Purāṇas and Tantras. Devī, who as Prakṛti is the source of Brahma, Viṣhṇu, and Maheśvara,6 has


1 Such as Mukunda, an aspect of Viṣ ṇ u. Lalitā-sahasra-nāmā, verse 838.
2 Ibid, verse 153, and Commentator’s note to Chapter II where Devi is addressed as Supreme Light (paraṃ -jyotih) Supreme Abode (paraṃ dhāma) Supreme of Supreme (parātparā).
3 See the Lalitā-sahasra-nāmā.
4 Mātatsvat-param-rūpam tanna jānāti kaṣ chan (see chap. iii of Śāktānanda- tarangini).
5 Amūrtaucit-sthrio na syāt tato mūrttiṃ vicintayet (ibid. chap. i, as was explained to Himāvat by Devi in the Kūrma Purāṇ a).
6 Ibid., and as such is called Tripurā (see Bhāskararāyas Commentary on Lalitā, verse 125.

both male and female forms.1 But it is in Her female forms that she is chiefly contemplated. For though existing in all things, in a peculiar sense female beings are parts of Her.2 The Great Mother, who exists in the form of all Tantras and all Yantras,3 is, as the Lalita says, the “unsullied treasure-house of beauty”; the Sapphire Devī,4 whose slender waist,5 bending beneath the burden of the ripe fruit of her breasts,6 wells into jewelled hips heavy7 with the promise of infinite maternities.8 As the Mahadevi 9 She exists in all forms as Sarasvatī, Lakṣ mi, Gāyatrī, Durgā, Tripurā-sundarī,


1 Ibid., chap. iii, which also says that there is no eunuch form of God.
2 So in the Candi (Mārkandeya-Purāna) it is said:
Vidyah samastastava devī bhedah
Striyah samastāh sakalā jagatsu.
See author’s “Hymns to the Goddess.” The Tantrika more than all men, recognises the divinity of woman, as was observed centuries past by the Author of the Dabistān. The Linga-Purāna also after describing Arundhati, Anasūyā, and Shachi to be each the manifestation of Devī, concludes: “All things indicated by words in the feminine gender are manifestations of Devī.”
3 Sarva-tantra-rūpā; Sarva-yantrātmikā (see Lalitā, verses 205-6).
4 Padma-purāṇ a says, “Viṣ ṇ u ever worships the Sapphire Devī.”
5 Āpivara-stana-tating tanuvrittamadhyām (Bhuvaneśvaristotra), “tanūmadhyā (Lalitā, verse 79) Krisodar (Ādyakālisvarūpa stotra, Mahā-nirvāṇ a- Tantra, seventh Ullāsa).
6 Pinā-stanādye in Karpūrādistotra, pinonnata-payodharām in Durgādhyāna of Devī Purāṇ a: Vaksho-kumbhāntari in Annapūrṇ āstava, āpivarastana- tatim in Bhuvaneśvaristotra; which weight her limbs, hucha-bharanamitāngim in Sarasvatī-dhyāna; annapradāna-niratāng-stana-bhāra-namrām in Anna-pūrṇ āstava.
7 So it is said in the tenth sloka of the Karpūrākhyastava—samantādā pīnastana jaghanadhrikyauvanavati. Śaṃ karācaryā, in his Tripura-sundarīstotra speaks of her nitamba (nitamba-jita-bhūdharām) as excelling the mountains in greatness.
8 The physical characteristics of the Devī in Her swelling breasts and hips are emblematic of Her great Motherhood for She is Śrīmātā (see as to Her litanies, “Hymns to the Goddess.”
9 She whose body is, as the Devī Purāṇ a says, immeasurable.


Annapūrṇā, and all the Devīs who are avataras of the Brahman.1

Devi, as Sati, Umā, Parvati, and Gaūrī, is spouse of Śiva. It was as Sati prior to Dakṣ a’s sacrifice (dakṣ ayajna) that the Devī manifested Herself to Śiva2 in the ten celebrated forms known as the daśa-mahāvidya referred to in the text—Kālī, Bagalā, Chinnamastā, Bhuvaneśvarī, Mātanginī, Shodaśi, Dhūmāvatī, Tripurasundari, Tārā, and Bhairavī. When, at the Dakṣ ayajna She yielded up her life in shame and sorrow at the treatment accorded by her father to Her Husband, Śiva took away the body, and, ever bearing it with Him, remained wholly distraught and spent with grief. To
save the world from the forces of evil which arose and grew with the withdrawal of His Divine control, Viṣhṇu with His discus (cakra) cut the dead body of Sati, which Śiva bore, into fifty3-one fragments, which fell to earth at the places thereafter known as the fifty-one mahāpītha-sthāna (referred to in the text), where Devī, with Her Bhairava, is worshipped under various names.

Besides the forms of the Devī in the Brahmāṇ ḍ a, there is Her subtle form Kuṇḍalinī in the body (piṇḍāṇda). These are but some only of Her endless forms. She is seen as one and as many, as it were, but one moon reflected in countless waters.4 She exists, too, in


1 Śāktānanda-taranginī (chap. iii).
2 In order to display Her power to Her husband, who had not granted at her request, His permission that she might attend at Dakṣ a’s sacrifice. See my edition of the “Tantra-tattva” (Principles of Tantra), and for an account of the daśa-mahāvidyā—their yantra and mantra—the daśa-mahāvidyaupāsana- rahasya of Prasanna Kumāra Śāstri.
3 The number is variously given as 50, 51 and 52.
4 Brahma-bindu Upaniṣ ad, 12.


all animals and inorganic things, the universe with all its beauties is, as the Devī Purāṇ a says but a part of Her. All this diversity of form is but the infinite manifestation of the flowering beauty of the One Supreme Life, 1 a doctrine which is nowhere else taught with greater wealth of illustration than in the Śākta-Śāstras and Tantras. The great Bharga in the bright Sun and all devatas, and indeed, all life and being, are wonderful, and are worshipful but only as Her manifestations.
And he who worships them otherwise is, in the words of the great Devī-bhāgavata,2 “like unto a man who, with the light of a clear lamp in his hands, yet falls into some waterless and terrible well.” The highest worship for which the sādhaka is qualified (adhikāri) only after external worship3 and that internal form known as sādhāra, 4 is described as nirādhārā. Therein Pure Intelligence
is the Supreme Śakti who is worshipped as the very Self, the Witness freed of the glamour of the manifold Universe. By one’s own direct experience of Maheśvari as the Self She is with reverence made the object of that worship which leads to liberation.5

1 See the Third Chapter of the Śāktānanda-taranginī, where it is said “The Para-brahman, Devī, Śiva, and all other Deva and Devī are but one, and he who thinks them different from one another goes to Hell.”
2 Hymn to Jagad-ambikā in Chapter XIX.
3 Sūta-saṃ hitā, i.5.3, which divides such worship into Vedic and Tāntrik (see Bhāskararāya’s Commentary on Lalitā, verse 43).
4 In which Devī is worshipped in the form made up of sacred syllables according to the instructions of the Guru.
5 See Introduction to Author’s “Hymns to the Goddess.”
















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