From the Jacket
Sakti, the divine mother, being very important member of the Hindu pantheon, commands much respect and worship in India. The present study deals with the intriguing problems pertaining to Saktism. The idea of Sakti based on Upanisadic philosophy and propagated by Advaita Vedanta including Samkara, reaches its highest culmination in the Tantras where Sakti is identified with Brahmana. Epigraphical sources and the Puranas proclaim the popularity of Saktism in India. The book presents the manifold aspects of this important branch of Indian religion. Author has a deeper understanding of the subject, sincerity and sublimity in his treatment. The study will certainly be fascinating and thoughtful.
About the Author
Dr. Pushpendra Kumar (b. 14-7-1936). Reader, Sanskrit Department, South Delhi Campus, University of Delhi, Delhi.
Saktism i.e, worship of the Goddess in various forms is
undoubtly one of the most important and fascinating aspects
of the history of Indian religions. It is attested from the
very beginning of the known history of the country and still
occupies a prominent place in the religious life of the Indian
people. In the recent years the interest of scholars has increased
in the study of this aspect of Indian religion. Saktism at best
is a federation of cults and embraces within its fold, elements
of the most diverse nature and origin. The terms Sakta and
Tantric has often been used arbitrarily by modern writers.
These two terms neither can be identified. as former is older
and the latter is very late in its origin. nor can he distinguished
sharply as there is much overlaphing. The word Shakta presents
the idea of supreme power as femimine and Tantricisrn is based
on mystical-magical symbolism. with which the Sakta-ideology is
generally found associated. Sakti the divine Mother commends
almost as much respect and worship in India as does Visnu and
his incarnations. Sakti is very important member of the Hindu
Saktism, the worship of the supreme deity as a female
principle. occupies a very important place among the present
day Hinduism. all over India. In modern Times it has attracted
the attention of the scholars all over the world. According to
the Saktas. the heighest reality is the great goddess. She is.
the personification of primordial energy and the source of all
divine and cosmic evolution. She is the controller of all the
forces in the world and the source of all.
The idea of Sakti is as old as man. Man is great to the
extent that the Sakti inherent in him, is magnified and his highest
endeavour is to rouse this Sakti. The author has given a
philosophical perview of the cult of Sakti as propounded by the
different schools of Indian Philosophy. The book presents the
various aspects of this important branch of Indian religion.
Author has a deeper understanding of the subject and sincereity
as well as sublimity in his treatment. This study will certainly
be fascinating and thoughtful.
The Present study deals with the intriging problems pertain-.
ing to Saktism. The idea of Sakti is based on upanishadic ,
philosophy and the vedic Mantras. It is propagated by Advaita .
Vedant including Sankara and reaches its highest culmination.
in the tantras where Sakti is identified with Brahman. Epigraphi- .
cal sources proclaim the popularity of Saktism, the nature of
Sakta Sadhana, including the sacrifice of one's own self has been
dealt with. The Puranas provide us the sufficient information
about the prevalance of Saktism in India during various periods .
The goddess Kaili is the supreme goddess of the tantras, Thus
this study will be able. I hope. to provide some importent clues
to the various aspects of Saktism. The articles incorporated here
were written from time to time and hene present before readers
the various stages of thinking.
r am very grateful to all my friends and collegues for their
help and time to time encouragement. I am thankful to Mr.
Shyamlat ji, propriter, Eastern book linkers, Delhi, who happily
undertook the task of publishing this book. Lastly I would like
to seek the forgiveness of the scholars for the mistakes which
might have cropped in this book. This humble venture is to
stimulate the interest of the scholars in the field of Saktism.
Sakti, as the very word itself denotes, means power. It can
be seen through the different phenomena of life itself. Durga-
Sapta Sati says i.e. everyone
of us has inherent power called Sakti, which is a part and mani-
festation of Para Sakti, the supreme goddess. The powers of
the gods came to be known and worshipped by the different
names and epithets. The Vaisnavi Saktis like Lakshrni, Sri,
Prthivi etc. and Saiva Saktis like Durga, Parvati, Kali and so
on. The trinity of Brahma, Visnu and Siva, work through their
Saktis for the creation, maintenance and anihilation of the world.
In the choice between the worship of the power and the possessor
of the power (though being identical) it was natural for the
human mind to veer round the power, that lay behind even the
gods. It is this that explains that in certain periods of history
and in certain regions of the country, the worship of Sakti, the
female deities, surpassed that of the male deities. The common
belief in the principle of power led to the thinking that the life
is also rooted through same power. Thus there are the principal
deities in every village, town, cities, countries, forests, rivers
which came to be worshipped. These have provided solace to
the afflicted mind of the worshipper who have sought through
worship, communion with these goddesses.
In the concept of Sakti we find a happy blending of two
elements, one empirical and the other speculative. On the empi-
rical side the idea of Sakti is associated witn the idea of
cosmogony. The man believed that there cann't be any creation
without the union of the two i.e. the male and the female. Thus
man concluded the idea of the Primordial Father and the
Primordial Mother. In the primitive stage of the human society
the mother held the most important position and thus the
cosmic mother became the most important deity. In India, from
the ages of the Indus civilization down to the present time Sakti
was represented by the Yoni and Siva by the linga symbols.
In all the primitive societies of the world, all cultural traits
including habits, norms of behaviours, inherited traditions, etc.
were formed by and transmitted through the females. The woman
was not only the symbol of generation, but the actual producer
of life. Her organs and attributes were thought to be endowed
with generative power, and so they were the life-giving symbols.
This has been proved by the plentiful discovery of palaeolithic
female figurines in bone, ivory, and stone with the female organs
Even in the earlier stages of human history, the Mother
goddess was a composite deity. Basically, she was the symbol
of generation, the Female principle, conceived as the actual
producer of life. She was also identified with earth who
became the womb in which the crops were sown. All over
the world, the earth spirit is generally regarded as female and
the presiding deities of agriculture are mainly goddesses,
because the idea of fertility and reproduction is connected with
women. The idea that the goddess of fertility must herself be
fertile, obviously led to the conception of the Mother Goddess
as the protectress of children. The protectress of children
cannot forsake them even in their youth and old age. She has
to protect them from diseases and other troubles. That is why
all over the world Mother Goddesses have been conspicuously
associated with diseases. In this way many other attributes
were added to her original conception, making her a compo-
site deity representing the basic facts of human life. With
the development of conceptual thought, the attributes and
functions, in their turn, also became deified, differentiated and
The identification of earth with women, implies that the
functions of the earth and those of women are alike. To bring
natural productivity under control, the primitive people attach-
ed supreme importance to the human generative organs and
employed sexual union, or its immitation, as a means to achieve
their end. The rituals of the human generative organs were
once widespread and their relics are still found in the backward
countries. At Mohanjodaro we come across the models of linga
and yoni, which were probably used as life-bestowing amulets,
while at Harappa a number of conical lingas, representing the
male organs and large undulating ring of stones, thought to
symbolise the female principle, have been recorded." The origin
of the tantric yoni-cult is deeply ingrained in this pre-historic
substratum of the Hindu religion of the third millenium B.C.
The tantric Sri Chakra is nothing but the representation of the
female generative organ." Primarily, the linga was the symbol
of the act of cultivation while the yoni represented Mother
earth, this finds support in a statement of Manu.
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