The Sanskrit for “power” or “energy,” Shakti (sakti) in Indian religion, is the energizing material power of a given Hindu god, a power personified as his wife, especially the wife of Shiva. Often depicted in a state of sexual union, the god and his Shakti together represent the Absolute, the god being nonactivated Eternity, the goddess being activated Time. The goddess, Devi, is Shakti or “Universal Power.” As Prakrti, she is the Shakti or female energy by which the original Purusha, the primal male, becomes creation. As Lakshmi, she is the manifestation of the divine energy associated with Vishnu. Shiva’s Shakti takes many forms – Uma, Durga, the terrifying Kali, and the motherly Parvati, for instance. By extension, Sita is the Vishnu avatar Rama’s Shakti in the Ramayana, and Draupadi is the Shakti of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. And by further extension, the Hindu wife is a manifestation of her husband’s Shakti. By still further extension, Shakti may be said to be the spiritual equivalent of the Jungian anima (Latin for psyche or soul) in which the anima is the subconscious inner self of the male – his feminine principle – and the related animus is the subconscious inner self or masculine principle of the female. The individual might be said to be animated by the anima/animus as the god is animated by his Shakti.
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