Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 13 Nov 2019


Is Brahman the goal of spirituality or is it Shakti?

Vedānta philosophers say that Brahman is the goal whereas, the Śākteyas say that Śakti is the goal. How can both these views be correlated? [This question is part of a mahā satsaṅga or a great spiritual discussion between Swami and several devotees who had come from various places, seeking the clarification of their doubts.]

Swami replied: There is only one ultimate absolute reality. It is the unimaginable God, who is called Parabrahman or Brahman. This ultimate God, being unimaginable, is neither masculine nor feminine nor neuter in gender. God is referred to as masculine, only as per convention. The concept of gender exists only in the imaginable creation. Brahman does not mean male and Śakti does not mean female. Brahman refers to the possessor of the power and Śakti means the possessed power. Both the possessor of the power and the possessed power are unimaginable. Two unimaginable items cannot coexist since it is impossible to differentiate between them, when they are basically unimaginable. So, even though we may refer to two unimaginable items for convenience, we are actually referring to just one unimaginable item. Thus, when you know that God is unimaginable, that God can equally be called either Brahman or Śakti. Thus, there is absolutely no fundamental difference between the Vedānta and Śākteya philosophies.

It is only in the imaginable creation that we can differentiate between the possessor of a power, such as the sun and its power, like the sunlight. God is the cause and creation is the effect. The created-world is called as Kārya Brahman or the product created by Brahman. The same world is also called Kārya Śakti or the product created by Śakti. The Creator can be called Kāraṇa Brahman or Kāraṇa Śakti. When this Kāraṇa Brahman or Kāraṇa Śakti incarnates, the Incarnation is the mediated Kāraṇa Brahman or the mediated Kāraṇa Śakti. Even though power has no gender, some have a wrong impression imprinted on their minds that Brahman is male and Śakti is female. So, Śiva is taken to be Brahman and Pārvatī is taken to be Śakti.

There is also another misunderstanding that Śiva is the cause or Puruṣa, whereas Pārvatī is the effect, product or prakṛti. But if we take Pārvati as the cause, She appears as Ādi Parāśakti, Mahā Kālī or Durgā. All this is a magical circus of various misinterpreted words. Following such strongly misunderstood concepts, which have now become the convention, we can say that Śiva is God, whereas Pārvatī is His strongest devotee since she did a lot of penance for Śiva. Pārvatī can be a soul or creation (prakṛti) since the soul is said to be parā prakṛti.

Pārvatī can also be considered to be a dualistic incarnation of God, as the Goddess. A dualistic incarnation of God means a climax devotee whom God treats as His own master. God Himself becomes the servant of such devotee. This concept is seen in the story of Pārvatī becoming Mahā Kāli and dancing on Śiva. All this seems to be fun involving gender-related fights! If you see Pārvatī, she is a devotee of Śiva. When Pārvatī became the climax devotee of Śiva, she became the master and Śiva became the servant. When Śiva became the Human Incarnation, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya, it was a monistic Incarnation in which the devotee (Śaṅkara) only became equal to Śiva. But in a dualistic incarnation, Pārvati as Mahā Kāli (master) became even greater than Śiva (her servant). Pārvatī doing penance for Śiva represents the devotee-soul, who becomes equal to Śiva as Ardhanārīśvarī. This represents a monistic Human Incarnation. The same Pārvatī remaining as a devotee, but with her devotion reaching the climax, became the dualistic incarnation, whereas Śiva became her servant, lying under her feet!

These concepts are correct and the climax-devotee is indeed greater than Incarnation of God! The devoted Hanumān defeated Rāma in a battle and the devoted Arjuna defeated Krishna in a battle! Krishna pressed the feet of Rādha! We must understand the concepts underlying these external funny stories. People prefer to worship Śakti who is taken to be the climax devotee. They feel that she can recommend their case to God because they share some commonality with her. Both Śakti and the worshipping devotee are souls belonging to prakṛti or creation. So, they feel closer to her. This is indirect worship. It is like trying to influence an officer by buttering his wife up, who is his ‘home-minster’. The person seeks a favour from the officer claiming to have a blood-relation with the ‘home minister’!

| Shri Dattaswami | Prakruti Shakteya purusha Shakti Kaarana Brahman Kaarana Aadiparaashakti Ardhanaariishvarii Shankara Mahaakaali Shankaraachaarya Shiva