One of the prominent aspects of Shiva is Shakti. Shakti is the feminine aspect of the divine – parambrahm. Hindu philosophy is probably the only religious doctrine in the world that realizes and emphasizes on the motherhood of the God. Devi sukta appears in the tenth mandal of the Rigveda. This of course often creates a debate on singularity and gender of the supreme power. Here we try to understand Shiva, Shakti and Prambrahm.
Shiva and Shakti
Shiva and Shakti are not two; they are just inseparable. They are complementary aspect of the same divine being. Understanding them as separate being like a man and woman doesn’t sufficiently explain the idea.
Shiva and Shakti are just like body and soul; identified as two and still are just one. Body is the doer of actions; it executes what the soul desires, it consumes and utilizes the energy. It’s all powerful in presence of the soul. Soul, on the other hand is inert. It Can’t do anything without the body or the energy of the body. Yet it is the soul that makes the body do whatever it wants. Soul without body will fail to do anything; body without soul has nothing to do. Shiva is the soul; its inert and dormant without the soul. Shakti is the body; its the doer of action. The body (Shakti) does what the soul (Shiva) wishes.. Shakti gives expression to the Shiva the way body gives expression to body.
Shiva and Shakti is together like an ocean. Shiva is the still water; shakti the wave. Without water there can be no wave. Without wave it will be just a still water . Together Shakti and Shiva is ocean.
Shiva is the transcendental supreme being; Shakti is the manisfested aspect. They are one. Thats it.
Adi Shankaracharya, has very clearly mentioned this aspect in the very first paragraph of Saundarya Laheri which goes like this:
शिवः शक्त्या युक्तो यदि भवति शक्तः प्रभवितुवं
न चेदेवं देवो न खलु सुशलः स्पन्दितुमपि।
प्रणंतुं स्तोतुं वा कथमकृतपुण्यः प्रभवति ॥1॥
Lord Shiva, only becomes able. To do creation in this world along with Shakthi Without her, Even an inch he cannot move, And so how can, one who does not do good deeds, Or one who does not sing your praise, Become adequate to worship you Oh , goddess mine, Who is worshipped by the trinity.
It may be noted that when trinity hails a supreme being and worship – they essentially do it to Shiva and the Shakti as one and not as separate being.
Shiva and Kali
We have seen the depiction of Goddess Kali (another form of Shakti or Durga) dancing on the breast of Shiva. And sure there is a popular legend associated with the same. The anger of the goddess is clearly visible. Shiva lied down his path to pacify her anger and when unknowingly she steps over the Lord she all of a sudden realizes the mistake and the realization pacifies him.
But then there is another subtle symbolism attached here. Look at Shiva he lying motionless, with eyes closed. He is absolutely calm as if in Samadhi. And Kali, the manifest of shakti is in terrible form. Shakti is vitalized; she creates and works. She keeps up the play (lila) of this universe.
And Shakti dances on the breast of Shiva. He is action less and changeless. He is absolutely untouched by the cosmic play going on his breast. His mere presence keeps up shakti running the world. He is the cosmic consciousness. He is in all names and forms and yet he is above all. He is without forms or attributes.
Shiva without Shakti
There are sufficient ancient literatures and teachers who have repeatedly emphasized the inseparable aspect of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is Shakti and Shakti is Shiva. There are other mentions also which refers to just the Shiva aspect and there Shiva is mentioned without any attribute or affliations. One such reference is in Rudrastaka written by Tulsidas in Ramcharitramanas:
नमामी शमीशान निर्वाण रूपं, विभुं व्यापकं, ब्रह्म वेदस्वरूपम् ।
निजं, निर्गुणं, निर्विकल्पं, निरीहं, चिदाकाशं आकाशवासं भजेहं ।।
O Shiva, you who is omnipresent, without any form, or attribute, duality or comparison or affliation, and you are the Supreme Being as per Vedas. You are the moksha (the ultimate salvation) and you encompass the world (you said to be wearing the skys). I salute thee.
In a subsequent paragraph, He is mentioned as the vanquisher of the God of Death. As a doer and as powerful being he is essentially considered as whole and complete with Shakti.