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Thread: A question about Shaktism

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    A question about Shaktism

    Hi,

    I have a question about shaktism. As far as my understanding goes, Shaktas consider Shakti/Devi to be one and the same as brahman. Now, this is what I don't understand. Shakti is feminine energy, and yet brahman is supposed to be genderless, neuter. How can this be? In my understanding, in other sects such as shaivism and vaishnavism God is does not have gender and only appears as male - it does not seem to be the same in shaktism.

    Thanks,

    Wilfred.

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Quote Originally Posted by wcrow View Post
    Hi,

    I have a question about shaktism. As far as my understanding goes, Shaktas consider Shakti/Devi to be one and the same as brahman. Now, this is what I don't understand. Shakti is feminine energy, and yet brahman is supposed to be genderless, neuter. How can this be? In my understanding, in other sects such as shaivism and vaishnavism God is does not have gender and only appears as male - it does not seem to be the same in shaktism.

    Thanks,

    Wilfred.
    There are two distinct religious traditions in Hinduism the one is the vedantic and the other the agamic or tantric. Shaktas are generally tantrics.
    Pure vedic tradition called shrauta is on the brink of extinction, and even todays classical vedanta is a mixture containing many practices derived from the tantras and agamas.
    Only a relatively small group of people have the qualification to follow the tradition of the vedas and read the upanishads, originally only members of the brahmin community were allowed to study the vedas. Due to that restriction, practise and study of vedanta is still not as common or widespread as is the agamic or tantric tradition.
    My estimation is that 90 % of Hindus follow a religion based on agamas and tantras against 10 % vedantic. Among the Hindus that are educated in the foreign style, this has now changed in post colonial times, partly due to the sponsoring of vedanta by the british raj, that had the impression that the vedantic tradition is more "civilised" and closer to the victorian moral values than agamic or tantric religion.

    Study and practise of the agamic or tantric religion requires not birth in a special community or certain family. Though the concept of brahman is known and discussed in agamic or tantric philosophy it is considered as another term for the dynamic and active creative highest principle described in the agamas and tantras, which is consisting of the union and active interplay of the primordial male and female principles. In the tantric theory of human cognition they are depicting the symbolic union of pure internal awareness and creative objectivity. So there is a great practical and philosophical difference between the neuter inactive brahman of later advaita vedanta who is thought to be beyond any activity and the dynamic unity and interaction of Shiva and Shakti which is, despite its differences from the vedantic concept, definend by tantrics to imply the brahman of the vedas

    But neither the impersonal concept nor the term brahman or Knowledge of brahman, is mentioned very frequently in the tantric or agamic Hinduism, which originally favoured other terms for the highest state or principle, like Mahasunya, (great void) Paramapada, (transcendent stage) Nirvana, (Extinction) Khechara, (the spacelike) Shiva Shakti samarasya (sameness of shiva shakti) etc.
    For a correct understanding of Hinduism it is vital to know that there exist side by side, these two distinct traditions that, while they share many concepts and terms, have a different emphasis and definition of these shared terms.

    There is no clear distinction between shaivas and shaktas, all shaktas will accept that the highest principle is eventually a union of shiva and shakti, as well as all shaivas will accept this same identity of shiva with shakti. One should keep in mind that shakti is the dynamic and shiva the quiescent aspect of one another.

    The only question that may remain is whether the first cause of world origin was the activity (shakti) that subsequently gave rise to the self conciousness (shiva) or that the arising of self conciousness gave in turn rise to the myriad activities. I personally prefer the view that each of the primordial principles gave rise to the other and merge in the great void (Mahasunya) when introverted and not engaged in mutual self creation.

    Since creation or awareness arises continously and has no beginning in time, one has the choice to be a shakta or shaiva or someone inbetween, there is no need for too much dissent and sectarianism between shakta and shaivaite tradition.

    Shiva and Shakti being two interacting parts of one principle, or dynamic event, they have gender and are as well neuter, depending on the circumstances.
    Last edited by MahaHrada; 12 February 2010 at 01:48 PM.

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    namaste Maha,
    Interesting post.

    Quote Originally Posted by MahaHrada View Post
    Shiva and Shakti being two interacting parts of one principle, or dynamic event, they have gender and are as well neuter, depending on the circumstances.
    satay

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    what a wonderfull post mahahrda . such deep insight !

    after reading through it i have nothing more to write . put in a better way , im not qualified to write any better .

    why dont you post more often ?

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    @ maha,
    you mean vedanta is different and tantra is diff?
    also,are parvathi,lakshmi,saraswati same like hari,hara,brahma?
    who is adi shakti?
    was chanakya a tantric?
    is soundarya lahari a work of tantra/shakti...
    i would like 2 know more in detail about this please.
    thanks
    Sarva DharmAAn Parityajya

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Quote Originally Posted by wcrow View Post
    Hi,

    ............and yet brahman is supposed to be genderless, neuter. How can this be?
    technically brahman is not male , nor female nor a eunuch . its is beyond all such definitions .

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Vannakkamm wcrow: In my personal opinion, there is no gender. There might be gender in the representations, but not in God's true nature. It is more Siva is causal, Shakti is effect. Or unmanifest cause, manifested effect. It also represents pingala, and ida currents, which are also genderless. Perhaps the French language habit of sticking a gender on genderless objects may be an analogy.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Thankyou very much MahaHrada for your enlightening and thought provoking post. I had no idea that there was a difference in hinduism between Agamic and Vedic. Do you have any more sources, information or reccomendations so that I can learn more on this topic?
    So, does the Agamic strain of hinduism reject the vedas or do they just prefer to use the agamas for information and guidance?

    When googling I found this website:

    http://www.siddha.com.my/religionoftheagamas/index.html

    Is this a good source of information on the subject?

    thanks,

    Wilfred.

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    Quote Originally Posted by wcrow View Post
    So, does the Agamic strain of hinduism reject the vedas or do they just prefer to use the agamas for information and guidance?

    though the question is meant for mahakrda , im providing my opinion in this respect .

    agamas do not reject vedas . they only say that it is difficult to attain perfection through vedic procedures in the age of kali . vedic regulations of satya era are now invalid and tantra is the modern , easier and suitable way to liberation .

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    Re: A question about Shaktism

    hari o
    ~~~~~~

    namasté


    If I may, here is one point of consideration...

    To separate śiva from śakti is to separate heat from fire, wet from water, cool from snow. So, why would one consider śakti ? Vijñāna Bhairava tells us ( me ) succinctly:

    śaivī-mukha ichocyate || 20
    śakti (which is śaivī) is the mouth (mukha) or entrance (ichocyate - it is explained , ucyate or explained)

    This sūtra informs us śakti is the entrance, but to what? The 21st sūtra informs us completely.

    yathālokena dīpasya kiraair-bhāskarasya ca|
    jñāyate dig-vibhāgāadi tadvac chatyā śiva priye||21

    Just as parts of space are known by the light of a lamp
    or the rays of the sun, in the same way O' Dear One
    Śiva is known through Śakti.



    praām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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