Shakti, one of the most important goddesses in the Hindu pantheon, is really a divine cosmic energy that represents feminine energy and the dynamic forces that move through the universe. Shakti, who is responsible for creation and can also be an agent of change, is often manifested to destroy demonic forces and restore balance.
As a vital cosmic force, Shakti takes many forms and names, including mother goddess, fierce warrior, and the dark goddess of destruction. In Hinduism, every god has a Shakti, or energy force. It’s one of the reasons she is worshipped by millions of people throughout India.
Shakti is also known as Parvati, Durga, and Kali, She’s an archetype who you might call upon for strength, fertility, and power. You might identify with her as a powerful female figure or you might look to her as you try to repair or sustain your marriage.
As Parvati, she is the wife and energy behind the Hindu god of destruction and rejuvenation Shiva. With Shiva, she produced two sons: Kumara, who conquered the demon Taraka; and Ganesha, who became the elephant-headed god of wisdom and good fortune. Parvati symbolizes fertility, marital happiness, devotion, power, and asceticism.
She is honored as the mother goddess, a universal source of energy, power, and creativity.
Shakti is a Mahadevi, or Great goddess—which is essentially a sum of all other goddesses. In the guise of Durga, Shakti is a fierce warrior who kills the demon Mahisasur as well many other evil creatures. Kali is another form of Shakti who’s worshipped throughout India. Kali, whose name is commonly translated as “the black one,” is the dark goddess of destruction. In Hindu tradition, she symbolizes the destructive and temporary nature of life. However, her devoted adherents also believe that she protects them both on Earth and in the afterlife.
The Story of Shakti
Shakti’s many names and forms have resulted in numerous origin and adventure stories.
A favorite story is as Kali, famous for fighting Raktavija, the head of an army of demons.
According to legend, she couldn’t wound him with her weapons, so she killed him by drinking all of his blood. Because of this story, Kali is commonly portrayed as having a bright red tongue that protrudes down her chin. She is usually depicted as having four arms: In her two left hands she holds a sword and swings Raktavija’s head by his hair, while her two right hands are outstretched in blessing. She also wears a necklace of human skulls.
The Vahana of Shakti
Deities, including the many forms of Shakti, are associated with an animal or bird that acts as a vahana, or vehicle. This animal is not only a means of transport and a way to identify the god or goddess; it also is an extension of his or her powers.
The lion is the vahana for both Durga and Parvati. Durga, who encompasses the power of all of the gods and takes on the role of warrior goddess, uses her lion as a weapon and for transportation.
Inspiration from Shakti
Remember that Shakti is a universal energy force. And as such, she can be called upon for numerous purposes, such as:
- To fight your own personal demons or when seeking protection, call upon Durga.
- For fertility or if you identify with the mother goddess archetype, turn to Parvati.
- To destroy evil and restore balance, look to Kali.