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Concept of Shakti In Lingayat – Vira Shaivism Teachings

Since the God of Virashaivism (Lingayat) carries out cosmic functions like creation, he must have shakti. The Vachanakaras have used the word ‘shakti’ in two distinct senses: In the sense of ‘power’, the word refers to a quality which makes one an efficient cause, and in the sense of ‘potency’ or ‘energy’ it refers to something which is able to produce some result out of itself. Thus, a goldsmith’s shakti to transform gold into ornaments is a power that makes him an efficient cause, whereas the shakti of a seed to become a tree is a potency that makes it a material or substantial cause.

Shakti is not alien to Shiva, for it is his inextricable attribute, visheshaṇa. Shiva and shakti are interdependent in the sense that one cannot exist without the other. But they are not two different substances somehow coexisting. Actually, they are ontologically one and dual only logically — like a flower and its fragrance. The dynamic nature of Shiva is called shakti and his static nature is called chit. To stress this inseparable relation between the two, the world made of shakti is regarded as ashtatanu — eightfold body comprising the five elements, the soul, the sun, and the moon, which are the building blocks of the universe — of Shiva. Therefore, statements that Shiva becomes the world and shakti evolves into the world mean the same thing. It is for this reason that Linga is called both the material and the efficient cause of the universe.

Shakti exists in two forms: manifest, in the form of the world, and unmanifest, during the pre-creation state. Being insentient, it can neither change itself nor change Shiva, on whom it depends; it remains manifest or unmanifest only under the directions of Shiva, who is Consciousness.

Shiva alone has the freedom to transform himself into the world or abstain from it.

Source – excerpts from article titled ‘Lingayat Philosophy and Vedanta’ by Prof. N G Mahadevappa in the 2010 issue of Prabuddha Bharata Magazine.