Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that worships Shakti, the Divine Mother, in all of her forms whilst not rejecting the importance of masculine and neuter divinity. In Shaktism, as Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami noted, emphasis is given to the feminine manifest by which the masculine Un-manifest Parasiva is ultimately reached. The Divine Mother is thus the mediatrix, and bestows advaitic moksha on those who worship Her. Hence, Shaktism is effectively a sub-denomination of Saivism as Devi is worshipped in order to attain union with Siva, who in Shaktism is the impersonal unmanifest Absolute.
This form of Hinduism is strongly associated with Vedanta, Samkhya and Tantra Hindu philosophies and is ultimately monist, though there is a rich tradition of Bhakti yoga associated with it. The feminine energy (Shakti) is considered to be the motive force behind all action and existence in the phenomenal cosmos in Hinduism. The cosmos itself is Brahman, the concept of the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality that is the Divine Ground of all being, the "world soul". Masculine potentiality is actualized by feminine dynamism, embodied in multitudinous goddesses who are ultimately reconciled in one.
The keystone text is the Devi Mahatmya which combines earlier Vedic theologies, emergent Upanishadic philosophies and developing tantric cultures in a laudatory exegesis of Shakti religion. Demons of ego, ignorance and desire bind the soul in maya (illusion) (also alternately ethereal or embodied) and it is Mother Maya, shakti, herself, who can free the bonded individual. The immanent Mother, Devi, is for this reason focused on with intensity, love, and self-dissolving concentration in an effort to focus the shakta (as a Shakti worshipper is sometimes known) on the true reality underlying time, space and causation, thus freeing one from karmic cyclism. A common hymn describing the 1000 names of Devi is the Lalitha sahasranama.
For an excellent overview of Shaktism, please see the following web site, http://www.hinduism-today.com/archives/2003/10–12/44–49_four_sects.shtml.
- http://www.dlshq.org/download/hinduismbk.htm#_VPID_103 (describes Shaktism)
To connect with a living community of Shakta practitioners, visit the Shakti Sadhana website at http://www.shaktisadhana.org and its affiliated discussion board at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Shakti_Sadhana/.