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Durga, a goddess regarded to be a popular form of Shakti
AffiliationAdi Parashakti, Parvati, Mahadevi, Kali, Durga, Devi, Sati, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Radha, Indrani
ConsortBrahma (Saraswati)[1]
Vishnu (Lakshmi)[2]
Shiva (Parvati)[3]

In Hinduism, especially Shaktism (a theological tradition of Hinduism), Shakti (Devanagari: शक्ति, IAST: Śakti; lit. "Energy, ability, strength, effort, power, capability"[4]) is the primordial cosmic energy, female in aspect, and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the universe.[5] She is thought of as creative, sustaining, as well as destructive, and is sometimes referred to as auspicious source energy.

Shakti is sometimes personified as the creator goddess, and is known as "Adi Shakti" or "Adi Parashakti" ("inconceivableprimordial energy"). In Shaktism, Adi Parashakti is worshipped as the Supreme Being. On every plane of creation, energy manifests itself into all forms of matter; these are all thought to be infinite forms of Parashakti. She is described as anaadi (with no beginning, no ending) and nitya (forever).


One of the oldest representations of the goddess in India is in a triangular form. The Baghor stone, found in a Paleolithic context in the Son River valley and dating to 9,000–8,000 BCE,[6] is considered an early example of a yantra.[7] Kenoyer, part of the team that excavated the stone, considered that it was highly probable that the stone was associated with Shakti.[8] The veneration of Shiva and Shakti was also prevalent in Indus valley civilization.[9]


The Shakti goddess has been syncretised with the Amman[a] of South Indian tradition, especially in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. There are many temples devoted to various incarnations of the Shakti goddess in most of the villages in South India. The people of the countryside believe that Amman is the bringer of rain, the protector of the village, the punisher of evil people, the cure of diseases, and the one who gives welfare to the village. They celebrate Shakti festivities with great pomp annually. Some examples of the deities assimilated into Shakti are Mahalakshmi, Kamakshi, Parvati, Lalita, Bhuvaneshwari, Durga, Meenakshi, Mariamman, Yellamma, Poleramma, Saraswati and Perantalamma.


Sri Guru Amritananda Nath Saraswati, performing the Navavarana Puja, an important ritual in Srividya Tantric Shaktism, at the Sahasrakshi Meru Temple at Devipuram, Andhra Pradesh, India

Shaktism regards Devi (lit., "the Goddess") as the Supreme Brahman itself with all other forms of divinity considered to be merely Her diverse manifestations. In the details of its philosophy and practice, Shaktism resembles Shaivism. However, Shaktas (Sanskrit: शक्त, Śakta, ), practitioners of Shaktism, focus most or all worship on Shakti, as the dynamic feminine aspect of the Supreme Divine. Shiva, the masculine aspect of divinity, is considered solely transcendent, and Shiva's worship is usually secondary.[10]

From Devi-Mahatmya:

By you this universe is borne,
By you this world is created,
Oh Devi, by you it is protected.[11]

From Shaktisangama Tantra:

Woman is the creator of the universe,
the universe is her form;
woman is the foundation of the world,
she is the true form of the body.

In woman is the form of all things,
of all that lives and moves in the world.
There is no jewel rarer than woman,
no condition superior to that of a woman.[12]

Adi Parashakti[edit]

Smarta Advaita[edit]

In the Smarta Advaita sect of Hinduism, Shakti is considered to be one of five equal personal forms of God in the panchadeva system advocated by Adi Shankara.[13]

Bhajans and mantras[edit]

There are many ancient Shakti devotional songs and vibrational chants in the Hindu tradition. The recitation of the Sanskrit mantras is commonly used to call upon the Divine Mother.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

  • Ammavaru – Hindu goddess
  • Iccha-shakti – Philosophical term
  • Kundalini – Form of divine energy believed to be located at the base of the spine
  • Mohini – Hindu goddess of enchantment, the only female avatar of Vishnu
  • Prakṛti – Nature in Hinduism
  • Purusha – Cosmic man or Self, Consciousness, and Universal principle
  • Shakti Pitha – Shrines in Shaktism, goddess-focused Hinduism
  • Tridevi – Trinity of chief goddesses in Hinduism


  1. ^ Amma is an honorific for a respected feminine person and even used for boys. The mother in English denotes a person with a child. Sakti is not represented as married or with a child.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Monier-Williams, Monier. "Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary". University of Washington. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2017. śaktí f. power, ability, strength, might, effort, energy, capability
  5. ^ Datta, Reema; Lowitz, Lisa (2005). Sacred Sanskrit Words. Berkeley, CA: Stonebridge Press. p. 111.
  6. ^ Insoll, Timothy (2002). Archaeology and World Religion. Routledge. p. 36. ISBN 9781134597987. Archived from the original on 5 May 2022. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  7. ^ Harper, Katherine Anne; Brown, Robert L. (2012). The Roots of Tantra. SUNY Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780791488904. Archived from the original on 5 May 2022. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  8. ^ Kenoyer, J.M.; Clark, J.D.; Pal, J.N.; Sharma, G.R. (1983). "An upper palaeolithic shrine in India?". Antiquity. 57 (220): 93. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00055253. S2CID 163969200.
  9. ^ Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (May 2002). History of Ancient India: Earliest Times to 1000 A.D. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 26. ISBN 978-81-269-0027-5. Archived from the original on 1 October 2022. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  10. ^ Subramuniyaswami, p. 1211[full citation needed]
  11. ^ Klostermaier, Klaus K. (1989). A Survey of Hinduism. New York, NY: SUNY Press. pp. 261, 473 footnote [1].
  12. ^ Bose, Mandakranta (2000). Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern India. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 115. ISBN 0195352777. OCLC 560196442.
  13. ^ "[no title cited]". Himalayan Academy. Archived from the original on 13 March 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2008.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "Shakti". VedaBase. Listing of usage in Puranic literature. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009.