Shakta (Sanskrit: "doctrine of power.") The spiritual tradition followed by those who worship the Supreme as the Divine MotherShakti or Devi — in Her many forms, both gentle and fierce. Shakta is one of the four primary sects of Hinduism. In philosophy and practice, Shaktism greatly resembles Saiva, both faiths promulgating, for example, the same ultimate goals of advaitic union with Shiva and moksha. But Shaktas worship Shakti as the Supreme Being exclusively, as the dynamic aspect of Divinity, while Shiva is considered solely transcendent and is not worshiped. There are many forms of Shaktism, with endless varieties of practices which seek to capture divine energy or power for spiritual transformation. See: Amman, Goddess, Ishta Devata, Kali, Shakti.

Geographically, Shakta has two main forms, the Srikula "family of the Goddess Shri (or Lakshmi)," which respects the brahminical tradition (a mainstream Hindu tradition which respects caste and purity rules) and is strongest in South India; and the Kalikula, "family of Kali," which rejects brahminical tradition and prevails in Northern and Eastern India. Four major expressions of Shaktism are evident today: folk-shamanism, yoga, devotionalism and universalism. Among the eminent mantras of Shakta is: Aum Hrim Chandikayai Namah, "I bow to Her who tears apart all dualities." There are many varieties of folk Shaktism gravitating around various forms of the Goddess, such as Kali, Durga and a number of forms of Amman. Such worship often involves animal sacrifice and fire-walking, though the former is tending to disappear.


1. Hinduism's Online Lexicon, Himalayan Academy

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