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Shiva Shakti Symbolism And Concept In Hinduism

Shiva Shakti concept in Hinduism is the two aspects of Absolute Reality and has deep symbolism. Paramashiva is pure, intelligence, real, limitless, and infinite from the transcendental point of view. Empirically, he is omniscient and omnipotent, the creator, sustainer, and destroyer of this universe. In this transcendental aspect he is known as Shiva. He is Shakti when contemplated upon in the immanent aspect of his divine activities of creation, preservation, and absorption of all phenomena and oblivion, and revelation of his nature of purity and divinity. The duality involved in the admission of Shiva and Shakti is due to the analytical approach of the mind. Shakti is identical with Shiva, as salt is with sea water.

Like prakasha and vimarsha, Shiva and Shakti are essentially inseparable. Shiva is pure light without awareness. Shiva is also not conscious of himself without Shakti. Devoid of Shakti, Shiva would be jada (insentient) and, consequently, as good as Shava (dead body). Shiva knows himself only through his Shakti. However, Shakti also depends upon Shiva for her functioning. Both are essentially dependent upon each other (Shiva Drishti III 2).

Though God and Goddess appear as two, fundamentally they are one. Shiva is commonly said to be the male principle and Shakti the female principle. As a matter of fact, they are neither male nor female nor are they neuter. The man who worships the wisdom aspect of Reality, commonly called the male principle, is a Saiva; and the one who worships the power aspect, or the female principle, is called a Shakta.

The symbol of Ardhanarishwara (half man – half woman) is meant to suggest the unity of Shiva and Shakti. The Shaivite holds that samarasya, the equilibrium of Shiva and Shakti, is the very svarupa (nature) of the Absolute.