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A Short Note On Sakta Cult
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A Short Note On Sakta Cult

I would like to devote this page to a short history of Shakthi worship. The origin of Shakthi worship can be traced to vedic texts like Shrisuktham, Dugasuktham, Bhavopanishad, Tripuropanishad, Bhavanopanishad, Devi Upanishad, etc. As far as Puranas are concerned, in Ramayana, there is reference to Sri Rama performing Durga puja befor slaying Ravana. Further, In Mahabharatha Yudhishtira before commencing the last year of exile in incognito and Arjuna prior to the commencement of the epic war offer pujas to Goddess Durga. In Srimad Bhagavatha it is narrated how Rugmini offers puja to Durga before marrying Krishna.  Markandeya Purana deals with  Devi Mahaathmya and Brahmanda Purana contains Lalta Sahasranama with detailed instruction regarding the Devi worship. Then sixty four agmas, Rahasyas, Yamalas, Arnavas and Tantras deals with various intricate methods of Sakthi pujas.
 
Datta Samhita by Dattatheya which contains 18000 verses which was abridged first by Parasurama and later by his disciple Sumedha is considered to be the base of Sakti cult in South india. Bhaskararaya wrote the commentaries on Nitya-shodashikarnava of Vamakeswara Tantra, Lalitha Sahasranama, and Varivasya Rahasya. These works are considered to be the Prasthanathaya of Sri Vidya.
 
Srichakra worship was introduced by Adi Shankara in his Prapancha Saara and Soundarya Lahari which have dealt Mantra, Yantra and Tantra in detail. Arthur Avlon`s works on Sakta philosophy helped to remove the misconceptions which prevailed previously. His contributions to Sakta philosophy is precious.
 
There are a number of Saktipeedhas in India. In Himalayas Mother is worshipped as Uma, in Kashmir as Amba, in Bengal as Kali, as Vishaalakshi in Varanasi, as Gouri in Kanyakubja, as Bhavani in Maharashtra, as Bala in Kanyakumari, as Sharada  in Sringeri, as Meenakshi in Madurai, as Kamakshi in Kanchipuram, as Akhilandeswari in Jambukeswaram, as Chaamundeswari in Mysore and as Bhagawathi in Kerala.
 
The Divine Mother is  worshipped in the form of Lalita Maha Tipura Sundari in the southern region of India. She is meditated upon as shining as thousand suns, three eyed, bearing noose, goad, arrows of flowers and bow of sugarcane in Her hands. The worship is done in the image of Mother or Sri Chakra.  

 Sadhana and Sadhaka
 
On this I would like to quote Anna N Subramanian of Ramakrishna Mission, Chennai from his Foreword to "Saundarya Lahari Of Sri Sankaracarya" published by Sri Ramakrisna Math, Madras:

"Mantra, Yantra and Tantra form the three corners of the triangle of Sri-Vidya.  Mantra is visualized in the Yantra. The worship of the Yantra, internal and external, and the practice of kundalini Yoga and other Sadhanas constitute the Tantra or modus operandi. The chief mantra of Sri-Vidya is Panca-dasaksari, and the chief tantra is the meditation of the identity of Mantra, Yantra and Tantra with the Devi Herself. If Sakti worship is done with understanding and appreciation and with love in the heart, then Mantra, Yantra, offerings, the procedure and paraphernalia of Puja are all transformed into forms and expressions of Cit-Sakti.  The object is to effect the transformation of the materials and acts of ordinary experience into forms revealing the play, the power and the bliss of the Divine Mother.  The Sundaryalahari says that if the worshipper practises Atmarpanam, ordinary talk is converted into Japa, normal work with the hand becomes Mudra, walking becomes Pradaksina, eating becomes Homa, Lying down Pranama-in fact whatever action is naturally done is transformed into worship.
 
The Sri Vidya Upasaka should follow certain disciplines. He should not find fault with other paths or criticize them, while being steadfast in his own.  The practice of Japa should go on as an under-current at all times.  He should not ask for favours or accept them.  He should do his duties in the world and the worship of the Deity without attachment to fruit. He should be fearless.  He should not acquire wealth and possessions with the motive of selfish enjoyment and he should consider nothing as higher than realization of the Self.
 
Sakti worship properly understood is a synthesis and harmony in which diverse and sometimes conflicting tendencies of human endeavour have been accommodated and each in union with the rest has been assured its fullest development and satisfation.  An adept in Sri-Vidya can be a Sakta at heart, a Saivite in outlook and a Vaisnavite in practice. That such a reconciliation is not only possible by necessary was revealed to us in Sri Ramakrishna, the Avatara Purusa of the age.  He has proved that all paths pursued with devotion lead to the one God, that Mantras are efficacious, that Yantras are potent, that Devatas and higher powers exist, that Siddhis do come and that step by step the Divine Mother leads the Sadhaka to higher and higher levels of perfection till he reaches the goal.
 
Sri Ramakrishna says: "That which is Brahman is also Kali, the Mother, the Primal Energy.  When inactive, It is called Brahman. Again, when creating, preserving, and destroying It is called Sakti.  Still water is an illustration of Brahman.  The same water, moving in waves, may be compared to Sakti or Kali.  What is the meaning of Kali?  She who communes with Maha-Kala, the Absolute , is Kali. She is formless and, again, She has forms.  If you belive in the formless aspect, then meditate on Kali as that.  It you meditate on any aspect of Hers with firm conviction, She will let you know Her true nature.  Then you will realize that not merely does God exist, but He will come near you and talk to you, as I am taking to you. Have faith and you will achieve everything."

Thank you very much. Jai Jagadamba!