What are these energies, which we call Shiva and Shakti? Very often we find depictions of these energies as a dancing male form or a sadhu wearing a loin cloth with ash smeared on the whole body or maybe as a half man, half woman. For the uninitiated this is confusing, for this is not the image of God which one has in mind, yet a few hundred crore people call this God.
Often I have faced people who joke about these forms and have very often heard comments like “what kind of God have you worshiped today?” I really do not blame the people who have these kinds of thought patterns, for as said earlier they are uninitiated and are not expected to understand the significance of these forms. For those who choose to dwell on the secrets of the Vedic philosophies, I am making an attempt to explain here the Shiv-Shakti concept.
To understand this we will have to go back to the beginning of creation. Before creation took place there was nothing but an all pervading consciousness that had no name, no colour, no form, it occupied no space, it was never created for it always was there, it was it and that was all that was there. Since there was nothing else but just that, so there could be no comments on it and, also no vis–à–vis comparisons. It was an energy called Sukshma–iti–Sukshma or the subtlest of the subtle. Creation was a result of manifestation of this all-pervading consciousness into other forms.
Before creation took place there was nothing but an all pervading consciousness that had no name, no colour, no form, it occupied no space, it was never created for it always was there
The first form in which the consciousness manifested was pure and absolute power ‘Adi Shakti’ or Mata Gayatri. From her emerged everything and anything else. The first act of creation was the entire universe. Once the universe was created there was a need for super forces or energies to look after the governance of the world. To perform this role Adi Shakti manifested in three different forms. And the ‘Trinity’ emerged—Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Brahma is the energy that created the physical world. Brahma, along with his consort Saraswati gave birth to everything that exists, every word, sound, and each and every imaginable, unimaginable, perceivable or unperceivable object and being. Vishnu and Lakshmi became the energy that maintains the world. They govern the cycle of karma. His power of governance is ‘maya’, which is his most powerful tool. It keeps all the souls engaged in a cycle of karma. And creation is preserved.
Then Shiva emerged. Shiva the energy responsible for transformation emerged, for without him salvation or evolution was an impossibility. He, the transformer, was called ‘deva–adi–deva Mahadeva’. Mata Adi Shakti chose to become his consort and manifested as Shakti or Parvati.
It could be said that the whole creation derives its energy from Shakti, and without her even the Lord is also just a form and the same goes for all aspects of creation also. Shakti without the Lord is also just pure energy, which needs a vehicle to carry out desires. The complete evolution thus becomes Lord Ardhanareshwar. (The significance of half man, half woman form).
We shall continue with our article in the next issue.