Shakti Upasana or ‘Worshiping Shakti’ is a very ancient tradition in the Indian subcontinent. The Shakti or Devi (as she is referred to in this region) upasana finds mention in Vedas as well. The followers and adherents of Shakti have been great Rishis, Tantra adepts, sages and Mahatmas but in present times we see that most of the people are not fully aware of even the basics of what Shakti Upasana is.
Goal of Shakti Upasana
Upasana (Upa = Near, Asana = To sit or Seat) essentially means to “sit nearby on being in vicinity”. So it can be said that the Sadhana is the way or the means by which one gets to sit near the “One who is worshiped or revered.” But the question would be where is that Shakti? The Shakti is a Tattva within us through which one can control and transcend the Maya (illusion). Thus, Shakti Upasana is the means or method by which one can control Maya and when Maya is subdued one gets freed from attachments leading to Moksha (Salvation).
So Shakti Upasana becomes the means to achieve Moksha or liberation from the clutches of illusory suffering that this worldly experience is all about. However mostly we find that Shakti Upasana is done for various worldly achievements and success instead of its true goal. So here it becomes important for us to understand various forms of Shakti Upasana.
Yatha Pinde Tatha Brahmande
Human body is a small universe in itself. All the components of the universe are present within the human body, most of them in their subtle forms and some in grosser manifestations. Through Sadhana a Sadhak/Sadhika (practitioner) essentially tries to connect with the various tones and hues of energies within him/her only.. thus gradually acquires control over some or all of them to achieve success. Success is a subjective matter and shakti is capable of whatever your desire.. yet in Srividya tradition of Tantra a practitioner is primarily desirous of Salvation. Therefore connecting with the Shakti Tattva within and strengthening it to allow one’s passage to Shiva-Shakti consciousness is THE success in this case.
Shakti Upasana : Not means to an end
Going by the principle of ‘Yatha Pinde Tatha Brahmande’ even if we are trying to connect to Shakti in “a form” outside us (as many at times in ritualistic methods done), we are essentially connecting to Shakti within us. Because the seemingly different Pramaataa-Prameya and Pramaan is unbroken continuum of Shakti only. The common thread always remains the same – the awareness of highest kind (Turya). So there should not be any doubt whatsoever in one’s mind whether one is engaged in ‘antar-upasana’ (inner esoteric means) or ‘bahya upasana’ (ritualistic means).. both lead to the same experience at the end. The only superficial difference lies in the beginning.. later it leads to the similar experience of unified Shakti. The Shakti which is in ‘form’ is transmuted to ‘formless’ and vice versa. This ultimate experience is liberating in the sense that it destroys sadhaka’s all preconceived notions about the direction cognition of this world and most importantly about The Shakti herself.
Now comes the question what are the various means through which we can connect and experience communion with different overtones, hues and attributes of the Shakti.
Mantra Yoga : The Essence of Tantra
There are two means one is Yog Sadhana and other is Mantra Sadhana. Yog Sadhana has many branches like Ashtang Yog, Layayog, Rajyog, Surat shabdayog, and even Mantra Jap is one of them. So we can say there is only one means to the end and it is the end in itself too; connecting with Shakti is Yog. Remember in every spiritual system the means has to merge in the end. Therefore Tantra is that Yog where sadhaka merges in Shakti through use of mantra. Mantra Sadhana seems to be the most easy means in today’s time, as we see most of the people seeking Gurus do not want to be inducted in some Sadhana, but to get some Mantra that can be beneficial to them on all the levels.
Receive and use Mantra carefully
But there are rules and regulations under Mantra yog which are important to be known for all the seekers and concerned. The success of Mantra Sadhana depends on three things, one is pronunciation of the Mantra. In Chandogya Upanishad, importance is exerted on pronunciation of Mantras. It is said even a little mispronunciation destroys the effects of the Mantra. The other is method of Mantra jap. Wrong and incomplete methods also fail to bring desired results. We have seen people keep doing mantra jap without getting any results and finally lose hope and stop it. They further say that this is all fake and waste of time. But the reality is that they do not know the right way to do Mantra Jap. The third and most important thing is the emotional connect and Trust on Guru’s intent while accepting the transmission of the mantra.
Above all this – in Tantra, before starting any Sadhana, Tattva Shuddhi is an essential part without which a Sadhak cannot move further in his/her Sadhana. When Mantra received from a capable Guru is taken up and done properly (using complete method and correct pronunciation) after Bhuta Shuddhi it shall never fail to give its results to the practitioner.
Some people have doubt on the efficacy of Mantra but we all know that every spoken words releases a vibration in the universe. Majority of your personal life if not all is sum-total of words expressed by you. When words are spoken loudly, outer universe reverberates and when spoken mentally, the inner universe reverberates. The words spoken mentally are more effective. The vibration produced by the word forms a symbol and this symbol stays in the universe till it is absorbed by matter or till it becomes dull and inactive. Varying pronunciations of the same word form various symbols. Also regulated and determined articulation of sounds produces continuous symbols. By understanding the above principles we can say that every Mantra jap has to produce some result. And when Mantra jap is done the right way its results are also reproducible.
In the next post we shall talk about various forms of mantra jap and how do they produce their results…
– Ma Shakti Devpriya