Shaktism (Sanskrit: शाक्त, IAST: Śākta, lit. 'doctrine of energy, power, the eternal goddess') is one of several major Hindu denominations, wherein the metaphysical reality is considered metaphorically a woman and Shakti (Mahadevi) is regarded as the supreme godhead. It includes many goddesses, all considered aspects of the same supreme goddess. Shaktism has different sub-traditions, ranging from those focused on most worshipped Durga, gracious Parvati to that of fierce Kali.
The Sruti and Smriti texts of Hinduism are an important historical framework of the Shaktism tradition. In addition, it reveres the texts Devi Mahatmya, the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, Kalika Purana and Shakta Upanishads such as the Devi Upanishad. The Devi Mahatmya in particular, is considered in Shaktism to be as important as the Bhagavad Gita.
Shaktism is known for its various sub-traditions of tantra, as well as a galaxy of goddesses with respective systems. It consists of the Vidyapitha and Kulamārga. The pantheon of goddesses in Shaktism grew after the decline of Buddhism in India, wherein Hindu and Buddhist goddesses were combined to form the Mahavidya, a list of ten goddesses. The most common aspects of Devi found in Shaktism include Durga, Kali, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Parvati and Tripurasundari. The goddess-focused tradition is very popular in eastern India particularly West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura and Assam, which it celebrates festivals such as the Durga puja, which is popular in West Bengal and Odisha.
Shaktism also emphasizes that intense love of deity is more important than simple obedience, thus showing the influence of Vaishnava idea where passionate relationship between Radha and Krishna is also the ideal relationship. These older ideas still influence modern Shaktism. Similarly, Shaktism's ideas have also influenced Vaishnavism and Shaivism traditions. In Shaktism, the goddess is considered as the Shakti/Energy of Vishnu and Shiva respectively, and revered prominently in numerous Hindu temples and festivals.
Origins and historyEdit
The earliest archaeological evidence of what appears to be an Upper Paleolithic shrine for Shakti worship were discovered in the terminal upper paleolithic site of Baghor I (Baghor stone) in Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh, India. The excavations, carried out under the guidance of noted archaeologists G. R. Sharma of Allahabad University and J. Desmond Clark of University of California and assisted by Jonathan Mark Kenoyer and J.N. Pal, dated the Baghor formation to between 9000 B.C and 8000 B.C. The origins of Shakti worship can also be traced to Indus Valley civilization. Among the earliest evidence of reverence for the female aspect of God in Hinduism is this passage in chapter 10.125 of the Rig Veda, also called the Devi Suktam hymn:
I am the Queen, the gatherer-up of treasures, most thoughtful, first of those who merit worship. Thus Gods have established me in many places with many homes to enter and abide in. Through me alone all eat the food that feeds them, – each man who sees, breathes, hears the word outspoken. They know it not, yet I reside in the essence of the Universe. Hear, one and all, the truth as I declare it. I, verily, myself announce and utter the word that Gods and men alike shall welcome. I make the man I love exceeding mighty, make him nourished, a sage, and one who knows Brahman. I bend the bow for Rudra [Shiva], that his arrow may strike, and slay the hater of devotion. I rouse and order battle for the people, I created Earth and Heaven and reside as their Inner Controller. On the world's summit I bring forth sky the Father: my home is in the waters, in the ocean as Mother. Thence I pervade all existing creatures, as their Inner Supreme Self, and manifest them with my body. I created all worlds at my will, without any higher being, and permeate and dwell within them.
The eternal and infinite consciousness is I, it is my greatness dwelling in everything.
The Vedic literature reveres various goddesses, but far less frequently than Gods Indra, Agni and Soma. Yet, they are declared equivalent aspects of the neutral Brahman, of Prajapati and Purusha. The goddesses often mentioned in the Vedic layers of text include the Ushas (dawn), Vāc (speech, wisdom), Sarasvati (as river), Prithivi (earth), Nirriti (annihilator), Shraddha (faith, confidence). Goddesses such as Uma appear in the Upanishads as another aspect of divine and the knower of ultimate knowledge (Brahman), such as in section 3 and 4 of the ancient Kena Upanishad.
Hymns to goddesses are in the ancient Hindu epic Mahabharata, particularly in the Harivamsa section, which was a late addition (100 to 300 CE) to the work. The archaeological and textual evidence implies, states Thomas Coburn, that the goddess had become as prominent as God in Hindu tradition by about the third or fourth century. The literature on Shakti theology grew in ancient India, climaxing in one of the most important texts of Shaktism called the Devi Mahatmya. This text, states C. Mackenzie Brown – a professor of Religion, is both a culmination of centuries of Indian ideas about the divine woman, as well as a foundation for the literature and spirituality focussed on the female transcendence in centuries that followed. The Devi-Mahatmya is not the earliest literary fragment attesting to the existence of devotion to a goddess figure, states Thomas B. Coburn – a professor of Religious Studies, but "it is surely the earliest in which the object of worship is conceptualized as goddess, with a capital G".
Other important texts of Shaktism include the Shakta Upanishads, as well as Shakta-oriented Upa Puranic literature such as the Devi Purana and Kalika Purana, the Lalita Sahasranama (from the Brahmanda Purana). The Tripura Upanishad is historically the most complete introduction to Shakta Tantrism, distilling into its 16 verses almost every important topic in Shakta Tantra tradition. Along with the Tripura Upanishad, the Tripuratapini Upanishad has attracted scholarly bhasya (commentary) in the second half of 2nd-millennium, such as the work of Bhaskararaya, and Ramanand. These texts link the Shakti Tantra tradition as a Vedic attribute, however this link has been contested by scholars.
The central conception of Hindu philosophy is of the Absolute; that is the background of the universe. This Absolute Being, of whom we can predicate nothing, has Its powers spoken of as She — that is, the real personal God in India is She.
Shaktas conceive the goddess as the supreme, ultimate, eternal reality of all existence, or same as the Brahman concept of Hinduism. She is considered to be simultaneously the source of all creation, its embodiment and the energy that animates and governs it, and that into which everything will ultimately dissolve. Maha Devi said in Devi Upanishad, verse 2, "I am essentially Brahman". According to V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar – a professor of Indian history, in Shaktism theology "Brahman is static Shakti and Shakti is dynamic Brahman."
I am Manifest Divinity, Unmanifest Divinity, and Transcendent Divinity. I am Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, as well as Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. I am the Sun and I am the Stars, and I am also the Moon. I am all animals and birds, and I am the outcaste as well, and the thief. I am the low person of dreadful deeds, and the great person of excellent deeds. I am Female, I am Male in the form of Shiva.[a]
Shaktism's focus on the Divine Female does not imply a rejection of the male. It rejects masculine-feminine, male-female, soul-body, transcendent-immanent dualism, considering nature as divine. Devi is considered to be the cosmos itself – she is the embodiment of energy, matter and soul, the motivating force behind all action and existence in the material universe. Yet in Shaktism, states C. MacKenzie Brown, the cultural concepts of masculine and the feminine as they exist among practitioners of Shaktism are aspects of the divine, transcendent reality. In Hindu iconography, the cosmic dynamic of male-female or masculine-feminine interdependence and equivalence, is expressed in the half-Shakti, half-Shiva deity known as Ardhanari.
The philosophical premises in many Shakta texts, states June McDaniel – a professor of Religious Studies, is syncretism of Samkhya and Advaita Vedanta schools of Hindu philosophy, called Shaktadavaitavada (literally, the path of nondualistic Shakti).
The Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda, remarked thus; about being an actual Shakti worshipper: "Do you know who is the real "Shakti-worshipper"? It is he who knows that God is the omnipresent force in the universe and sees in women the manifestation of that Force." 
The seventh book of the Srimad Devi-Bhagavatam presents the theology of Shaktism. This book is called Devi Gita, or the "Song of the Goddess". The goddess explains she is the Brahman that created the world, asserting the Advaita premise that spiritual liberation occurs when one fully comprehends the identity of one's soul and the Brahman. This knowledge, asserts the goddess, comes from detaching self from the world and meditating on one's own soul.
The Devi Gita, like the Bhagavad Gita, is a condensed philosophical treatise. It presents the divine female as a powerful and compassionate creator, pervader and protector of the universe. She is presented in the opening chapter of the Devi Gita as the benign and beautiful world-mother, called Bhuvaneshvari (literally, ruler of the universe). Thereafter, the text presents its theological and philosophical teachings.
The soul and the Goddess
My sacred syllable ह्रीम्] transcends,[b]
the distinction of name and named,
beyond all dualities.
It is whole, infinite being, consciousness and bliss.
One should meditate on that reality,
within the flaming light of consciousness.
Fixing the mind upon me,
as the Goddess transcending all space and time,
One quickly merges with me by realizing,
the oneness of the soul and Brahman.
—Devi Gita, Transl: Lynn Foulston, Stuart Abbott
Devibhagavata Purana, Book 7
The Devi Gita describes the Devi (or goddess) as "universal, cosmic energy" resident within each individual. It thus weaves in the terminology of Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. The text is suffused with Advaita Vedanta ideas, wherein nonduality is emphasized, all dualities are declared as incorrect, and interconnected oneness of all living being's soul with Brahman is held as the liberating knowledge. However, adds Tracy Pintchman – a professor of Religious Studies and Hinduism, Devi Gita incorporates Tantric ideas giving the Devi a form and motherly character rather than the gender-neutral concept of Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta.
List of 8 Shakta UpanishadsEdit
|Title||Muktika serial #||Attached Veda||Period of creation|
|Sita Upanishad||45||Atharva Veda||At least 10,000 Years Before|
|Tripuratapini Upanishad||80||Atharva Veda||At least 10,000 Years Before|
|Devi Upanishad||81||Atharva Veda||At least 10,000 Years Before|
|Tripura Upanishad||82||Rigveda||At least 10,000 Years Before|
|Bhavana Upanishad||84||Atharva Veda||At least 10,000 Years Before|
|Sarasvati-rahasya Upanishad||106||Krishna Yajurveda||At least 10,000 Years Before|
|Bahvricha Upanishad||107||Rigveda||At least 10,000 Years Before|
Sub-traditions of Shaktism include "Tantra", which refers to techniques, practices and ritual grammar involving mantra, yantra, nyasa, mudra and certain elements of traditional kundalini yoga, typically practiced under the guidance of a qualified guru after due initiation (diksha) and oral instruction to supplement various written sources. There has been a historic debate between Shakta theologians on whether its tantric practices are Vedic or non-Vedic.
The roots of Shakta Tantrism are unclear, probably ancient and independent of the Vedic tradition of Hinduism. The interaction between Vedic and Tantric traditions trace back to at least the sixth century, and the surge in Tantra tradition developments during the late medieval period, states Geoffrey Samuel, were a means to confront and cope with Islamic invasions and political instability in and after 14th-century CE.
Notable Shakta tantras are Saradatilaka Tantra of Lakshmanadesika (11th century), Kali Tantra (c. 15th century), Yogini Tantra, Sarvanandanatha's Sarvolassa Tantra, Brahmananda Giri's Saktananda Tarangini with Tararahasya and Purnananda Giri's Syamarahasya with Sritattvacintamani (16th century), Krishananda Agamavagisa's Tantrasara and Raghunatna Tarkavagisa Bhattacarya Agamatattvavilasa (17th century), as well as works of Bhaskaracharya (18th century).
Shaktas approach the Devi in many forms; however, they are all considered to be but diverse aspects of the one supreme goddess. The primary Devi form worshiped by a Shakta devotee is his or her ishta-devi, that is a personally selected Devi. The selection of this deity can depend on many factors such as family tradition, regional practice, guru lineage and personal resonance.
Some forms of the goddess are widely known in the Hindu world. The common goddesses of Shaktism, popular in the Hindu thought at least by about mid 1st-millennium CE, include Parvati, Durga, Kali, Yogmaya, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Gayatri, Radha and Sita. The rarer forms of Devi found among tantric Shakta are the Mahavidyas, particularly Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshvari, Tara, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala. Other major goddess groups include the Sapta-Matrika ("Seven Little Mothers"), "who are the energies of different major Gods, and described as assisting the great Shakta Devi in her fight with demons", and the 64 Yoginis. Eight forms of goddess Lakshmi are called Ashtalakshmi and the nine forms of goddess Durga, the Navadurgas worshipped in Navratri.
The Vidyāpīṭha is subdivided into Vāmatantras, Yāmalatantras, and Śaktitantras.
The Kulamārga preserves some of the distinctive features of the Kāpālika tradition, from which it is derived. It is subdivided into four subcategories of texts based on the goddesses Kuleśvarī, Kubjikā, Kālī and Tripurasundarī respectively. The Trika texts are closely related to the Kuleśvarī texts and can be considered as part of the Kulamārga.
Shaktism encompasses a nearly endless variety of beliefs and practices – from animism to philosophical speculation of the highest order – that seek to access the Shakti (Divine Energy or Power) that is believed to be the Devi's nature and form. Its two largest and most visible schools are the Srikula (family of Tripura Sundari), strongest in South India, and the Kalikula (family of Kali), which prevails in northern and eastern India.
Srikula: family of Lalita Tripura SundariEdit
The Srikula (family of Sri ) tradition (sampradaya) focuses worship on Devi in the form of the goddess Lalita-Tripura Sundari. Rooted in first-millennium. Srikula became a force in South India no later than the seventh century, and is today the prevalent form of Shaktism practiced in South Indian regions such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Tamil areas of Sri Lanka.
The Srikula's best-known school is Srividya, "one of Shakta Tantrism's most influential and theologically sophisticated movements." Its central symbol, the Sri Chakra, is probably the most famous visual image in all of Hindu Tantric tradition. Its literature and practice is perhaps more systematic than that of any other Shakta sect.
Srividya largely views the goddess as "benign [saumya] and beautiful [saundarya]" (in contrast to Kalikula's focus on "terrifying [ugra] and horrifying [ghora]" Goddess forms such as Kali or Durga). In Srikula practice, moreover, every aspect of the goddess – whether malignant or gentle – is identified with Lalita.
Srikula adepts most often worship Lalita using the abstract Sri Chakra yantra, which is regarded as her subtle form. The Sri Chakra can be visually rendered either as a two-dimensional diagram (whether drawn temporarily as part of the worship ritual, or permanently engraved in metal) or in the three-dimensional, pyramidal form known as the Sri Meru. It is not uncommon to find a Sri Chakra or Sri Meru installed in South Indian temples, because – as modern practitioners assert – "there is no disputing that this is the highest form of Devi and that some of the practice can be done openly. But what you see in the temples is not the srichakra worship you see when it is done privately."[c]
The Srividya paramparas can be further broadly subdivided into two streams, the Kaula (a vamamarga practice) and the Samaya (a dakshinamarga practice). The Kaula or Kaulachara, first appeared as a coherent ritual system in the 8th century in central India, and its most revered theorist is the 18th-century philosopher Bhaskararaya, widely considered "the best exponent of Shakta philosophy."
The Samaya or Samayacharya finds its roots in the work of the 16th-century commentator Lakshmidhara, and is "fiercely puritanical [in its] attempts to reform Tantric practice in ways that bring it in line with high-caste brahmanical norms." Many Samaya practitioners explicitly deny being either Shakta or Tantric, though scholars argues that their cult remains technically both. The Samaya-Kaula division marks "an old dispute within Hindu Tantrism," and one that is vigorously debated to this day.
Kalikula: family of KaliEdit
The Kalikula (Family of Kali) form of Shaktism is most dominant in northeastern India, and is most widely prevalent in West Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Odisha, as well as Nepal and Kerala. The goddesses Kubjika, Kulesvari, Chamunda, Chandi, Shamshan Kali (goddess of the cremation ground), Dakshina Kali, and Siddheshwari are worshipped in the region of Bengal to protect against disease and smallpox as well as ill omens. Kalikula lineages focus upon the Devi as the source of wisdom (vidya) and liberation (moksha). The tantric part generally stand "in opposition to the brahmanic tradition," which they view as "overly conservative and denying the experiential part of religion."
The main deities of the Kalikula tradition are Kali, Chandi, Bheema and Durga. Other goddesses that enjoy veneration are Tara and all the other Mahavidyas, Kaumari as well as regional goddesses such as Manasa, the snake goddesses, Ṣaṣṭī, the protectress of children, Śītalā, the smallpox goddess, and Umā (the Bengali name for Parvati) — all of them, again, considered aspects of the Divine Mother.
In Nepal devi is mainly worshipped as the goddess Bhavani. She is one of the important Hindu deities in Nepal. Two major centers of Shaktism in West Bengal are Kalighat where the skull of Kali is believed to be worshipped along with her 25 forms. The kali ghat temple is located in Calcutta and Tarapith in Birbhum district. In Calcutta, emphasis is on devotion (bhakti) to the goddess as Kali. Where the goddess(kali) is seen as the destroyer of evil.:
She is "the loving mother who protects her children and whose fierceness guards them. She is outwardly frightening – with dark skin, pointed teeth, and a necklace of skulls – but inwardly beautiful. She can guarantee a good rebirth or great religious insight, and her worship is often communal – especially at festivals, such as Kali Puja and Durga Puja. Worship may involve contemplation of the devotee's union with or love of the goddess, visualization of her form, chanting [of her] mantras, prayer before her image or yantra, and giving [of] offerings."
At Tarapith, Devi's manifestation as Tara ("She Who Saves") or Ugratara ("Fierce Tara") is ascendant, as the goddess who gives liberation (kaivalyadayini). [...] The forms of sadhana performed here are more yogic and tantric than devotional, and they often involve sitting alone at the [cremation] ground, surrounded by ash and bone. There are shamanic elements associated with the Tarapith tradition, including "conquest of the Goddess, exorcism, trance, and control of spirits."
The philosophical and devotional underpinning of all such ritual, however, remains a pervasive vision of the Devi as supreme, absolute divinity. As expressed by the nineteenth-century saint Ramakrishna, one of the most influential figures in modern Bengali Shaktism:
Kali is none other than Brahman. That which is called Brahman is really Kali. She is the Primal Energy. When that Energy remains inactive, I call It Brahman, and when It creates, preserves, or destroys, I call It Shakti or Kali. What you call Brahman I call Kali. Brahman and Kali are not different. They are like fire and its power to burn: if one thinks of fire one must think of its power to burn. If one recognizes Kali one must also recognize Brahman; again, if one recognizes Brahman one must recognize Kali. Brahman and Its Power are identical. It is Brahman whom I address as Shakti or Kali.
Shaktas celebrate most major Hindu festivals, as well as a huge variety of local, temple- or deity-specific observances. A few of the more important events are listed below:
The most important Shakta festival is Navaratri (lit., "Festival of Nine Nights"), also known as "Sharad Navaratri" because it falls during the Hindu month of Sharad (October/November). This is the festival that worships the Navadurgas, forms of Devi. This festival – often taken together with the following tenth day, known as Dusshera or Vijayadashami – celebrates the goddess Durga's victory over a series of powerful demons described in the Devi Mahatmya. In Bengal, the last four days of Navaratri are called Durga Puja, and mark one episode in particular: Durga's iconic slaying of Mahishasura (lit., the "Buffalo Demon"). Durga Puja also became the main religio-cultural celebration within the Bengal diaspora in the West (together with Kali and Sarasvati Pujas, if a community enough big and rich).
While Hindus of all denominations celebrate the autumn Navratri festival, Shaktas also celebrate two additional Navratris – one in the spring and one in the summer. The spring festival is known as Vasanta Navaratri or Chaitra Navatri, and celebrated in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March/April). Srividya lineages dedicate this festival to Devi's form as the goddess Tripura Sundari. The summer festival is called Ashada Navaratri, as it is held during the Hindu month of Ashadha (June/July). The Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu, with Vaishno Devi considered an aspect of Durga, celebrates Navaratri. Ashada Navaratri, on the other hand, is considered particularly auspicious for devotees of the boar-headed Goddess Varahi, one of the seven Matrikas named in the Devi Mahatmya.
Fifth day of Magha Gupta Navratri is very important for all branches of Shakta-pantha. Specially in Vindhyachal mahashakti peetham, thousands of chandipatha and other secret rituals performed this day to please Aadishakti. This is the festival of union of Shakti & Shiv (Shiva-Shiv). On the same basis Shiva-Shiv Sammoh is formed by Awadhoot Kripanandnath at Awadhoot Ashram, Vindhyachal in 1980.
Diwali and othersEdit
Lakshmi Puja is a part of Durga Puja celebrations by Shaktas, where Laksmi symbolizes the goddess of abundance and autumn harvest. Lakshmi's biggest festival, however, is Diwali (or Deepavali; the "Festival of Lights"), a major Hindu holiday celebrated across India and in Nepal as Tihar. In North India, Diwali marks the beginning of the traditional New Year, and is held on the night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Kartik (usually October or November). Shaktas (and many non-Shaktas) celebrate it as another Lakshmi Puja, placing small oil lamps outside their homes and praying for the goddess's blessings. Diwali coincides with the celebration of Kali Puja, popular in Bengal, and some Shakta traditions focus their worship on Devi as Parvati rather than Lakshmi.
Jagaddhatri Puja is celebrated on the last four days of the Navaratis, following Kali Puja. It is very similar to Durga Puja in its details and observance, and is especially popular in Bengal and some other parts of Eastern India. Gauri Puja is performed on the fifth day after Ganesh Chaturthi, during Ganesha Puja in Western India, to celebrate the arrival of Gauri, Mother of Ganesha where she brings her son back home.
Major Shakta temple festivals are Meenakshi Kalyanam and Ambubachi Mela. The Meenakshi Kalyanam is a part of the Chithirai Thiruvizha festival in Madurai around April/May, one of the largest festivals in South India, celebrating the wedding of goddess Meenakshi (Parvati) and Shiva. The festival is one where both the Vaishnava and Shaiva communities join the celebrations, because Vishnu gives away his sister Parvati in marriage to Shiva. Ambubachi Mela or Ameti is a celebration of the menstruation of the goddess, by hundreds of thousands of devotees, in a festival held in June/July (during the monsoon season) at Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam. Here the Devi is worshiped in the form of a yoni-like stone, and the site is one of Shakta Pitha or pilgrimage sites in Shaktism.
Shaktism tradition practices animal sacrifice to revere goddesses such as Kali in many parts of India but particularly in the eastern states of India and Nepal. This is either an actual animal, or a vegetable or sweet dish substitute considered equivalent to the animal. In many cases, Shaktism devotees consider animal sacrifice distasteful, and practice alternate means of expressing devotion while respecting the views of others in their tradition.
In Nepal, West Bengal, Odisha and Assam, animal sacrifices are performed at Shakti temples, particularly to mark the legend of goddess Durga slaying the buffalo demon. This involves slaying of a goat or a male water buffalo. Animal sacrifice is also an essential component as part of the Kaula tantra school of Shaktism. This practice is rare among Hindus, outside this region.
In Bengal, animal sacrifice ritual follows the guidelines in texts such as Mahanirvana Tantra.These ritual includes selecting the animal, then a priest offers a prayer to the animal, then recites the Gayatri Mantra in its ear before killing it. The meat of the sacrificed animal is then cooked and eaten by the Shakta devotees.
The Rajput of Rajasthan worship their weapons and horses on Navratri, and formerly offered a sacrifice of a goat to a goddess revered as Kuldevi – a practice that continues in some places. The ritual requires slaying of the animal with a single stroke. In the past this ritual was considered a rite of passage into manhood and readiness as a warrior. The ritual is directed by a priest. The Kuldevi among these Rajput communities is a warrior-pativrata guardian goddess, with local legends tracing reverence for her during Rajput-Muslim wars.
Animal Sacrifice of a buffalo or goat, particularly during smallpox epidemics, has been practiced in parts of South India. The sacrificed animal is dedicated to a goddess, and is probably related to the myth of goddess Kali in Andhra Pradesh, but in Karnataka, the typical goddess is Renuka. According to Alf Hiltebeitel – a professor of Religions, History and Human Sciences, these ritual animal sacrifices, with some differences, mirrors goddess - related ritual animal sacrifice found in Gilgamesh epic and in texts of Egyptian, Minoan and Greek sources.
In the 19th-century through the early 20th-century, Indian laborers were shipped by the British Empire into colonial mining and plantations operations in the Indian ocean and the Caribbean regions. These included significant number of Shakta devotees. While instances of Shakta animal sacrifice during Kali puja in the Caribbean islands were recorded between 1850s to 1920s, these were relatively uncommon when compared to other rituals such as temple prayers, community dancing and fire walking.
Shaktism versus other Hindu traditionsEdit
Shaktism has at times been dismissed as a superstitious, black magic-infested practice that hardly qualifies as a true religion at all.[page needed][page needed] A representative criticism of this sort issued from an Indian scholar in the 1920s:
The Tantras are the Bible of Shaktism, identifying all Force with the female principle in nature and teaching an undue adoration of the wives of Shiva and Vishnu to the neglect of their male counterparts. It is certain that a vast number of the inhabitants of India are guided in their daily life by Tantrik [sic] teaching, and are in bondage to the gross superstitions inculcated in these writings. And indeed it can scarcely be doubted that Shaktism is Hinduism arrived at its worst and most corrupt stage of development.
The tantra practices are secretive, subject to speculations and criticism. Scholars variously attribute such criticism to ignorance, misunderstanding or sectarian bias on the part of some observers, as well as unscrupulous practices by some Shaktas. These are some of the reasons many Hindus question the relevance and historicity of Tantra to their tradition.
Beyond tantra, the Shakta sub-traditions subscribe to various philosophies, are similar in some aspects and differ in others. These traditions compare with Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Smartism as follows:
|Vaishnava Traditions||Shaiva Traditions||Shakta Traditions||Smarta Traditions||References|
|Scriptural authority||Vedas and Upanishads||Vedas and Upanishads||Vedas, Upanishads and Tantras||Vedas and Upanishads|||
|Supreme deity||God Vishnu||God Shiva||Goddess Devi||None|||
|Ahimsa and Vegetarianism||Affirms||Recommends, Optional||Optional||Recommends, Optional|||
|Free will, Maya, Karma||Affirms||Affirms||Affirms||Affirms|||
|Metaphysics||Brahman (Vishnu) and Atman (Soul, Self)||Brahman (Shiva), Atman||Brahman (Devi), Atman||Brahman, Atman|||
3. Reliable testimony
3. Reliable testimony
3. Reliable testimony
3. Comparison and analogy
4. Postulation, derivation
5. Negative/cognitive proof
6. Reliable testimony
|Philosophy||Dvaita, qualified advaita, advaita, Visishtadvaita||Dvaita, qualified advaita, advaita||Shakti-advaita, Samkhya||Advaita|||
champions householder life
|Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga||Jivanmukta, Advaita, Yoga,
champions monastic life
There is no census data available on demographic history or trends for Shaktism or other traditions within Hinduism. Estimates vary on the relative number of adherents in Shaktism compared to other traditions of Hinduism. According to a 2010 estimate by Johnson and Grim, the Shaktism tradition is the smaller group with about 30 million or 3.2% of Hindus. Large shakta communities are particularly found in eastern states, such as West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Tripura with substantial communities also existing in Punjab, Jammu, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Central India. In West Bengal Shaktas belong to the upper castes as well as lowest castes and tribes, while the lower middle castes are Vaishnavas. In contrast, Galvin Flood states that Shaivism and Shaktism traditions are difficult to separate, as many Shaiva Hindus revere the goddess Shakti regularly. The denominations of Hinduism, states Julius Lipner, are unlike those found in major religions of the world, because Hindu denominations are fuzzy with individuals revering gods and goddesses henotheistically, with many Shaiva and Vaishnava adherents recognizing Sri (Lakshmi), Parvati, Saraswati and other aspects of the goddess Devi. Similarly, Shakta Hindus revere Shiva and goddesses such as Parvati (such as Durga, Radha, Sita and others) and Saraswati important in Shaiva and Vaishnava traditions.
Temples and influenceEdit
Shakta temples are found all over South Asia. Many towns, villages and geographic landmarks are named for various forms of the Devi. Major pilgrimage sites of Shaktism are called "Shakti Peethas", literally "Seats of the Devi". These vary from four to fifty one.
Some Shakta temples are also found in Southeast Asia, the Americas, Europe, Australia and elsewhere. Examples in the United States include the Kali Mandir in Laguna Beach, California; and Sri Rajarajeswari Peetam, a Srividya temple in rural Rush, New York.
Some feminists and participants in New Age spirituality who are attracted to Goddess worship", suggest Shaktism is a "symbol of wholeness and healing, associated especially with repressed female power and sexuality."
There has been a significant sharing of ideas, ritual grammar and concepts between Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana tradition) found in Nepal and Tibet and the Tantric Shakta tradition of Hinduism. Both movements cherish female deities, view the female creativity as the power behind the universe, and the feminine as the ontological primary. According to Miranda Shaw, "the confluence of Buddhism and Shaktism is such that Tantric Buddhism could properly be called Shakta Buddhism".
The Buddhist Aurangabad Caves about 100 kilometers from the Ajanta Caves, dated to the 6th to 7th-century CE, show Buddhist Matrikas (mother goddesses of Shaktism) next to the Buddha. Other goddesses in these caves include Durga. The goddess iconography in these Buddhist caves is close, but not identical to the Hindu Shakta tradition. The "seven Goddess mothers" are found in other Buddhist caves and literature, such as their discussion in the Buddhist text Manjusrimulakalpa and Vairocanabhisambodhi.
The secondary scripture of Sikhs, Dasam Granth attributed to Guru Gobind Singh, includes numerous sections on Shakta goddesses, particularly Chandi – the fierce warrior form of the Hindu goddess. According to Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh – a professor of Religious Studies, the stories about goddess Durga in the Dasam Granth are reworkings of ancient Shakti mythologies. A significant part of this Sikh scripture is based on the teachings in the Shakta text Devi Mahatmya found in the Markandeya Purana of Hinduism.
- Klostermaier, Klaus K. (2010). Survey of Hinduism, A: Third Edition. State University of New York Press. pp. 30, 114–116, 233–245. ISBN 978-0-7914-8011-3.
- Flood, Gavin D. (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, pp. 174–176, ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0
- J. Gordon Melton; Baumann, Martin (2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition. ABC-CLIO. pp. 2600–2602. ISBN 978-1-59884-204-3.
- "Shaktism", Encyclopædia Britannica (2015).
- Yudit Kornberg Greenberg (2008). Encyclopedia of Love in World Religions. ABC-CLIO. pp. 254–256. ISBN 978-1-85109-980-1.
- Jones, Constance; Ryan, James (2014). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. p. 399. ISBN 978-0816054589.
- Rocher 1986, p. 193.
- Katherine Anne Harper; Brown, Robert L. (2012). The Roots of Tantra. State University of New York Press. pp. 48, 117, 40–53. ISBN 978-0-7914-8890-4.
- Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Literature". Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Journal of Indological Studies (Kyoto), Nos. 24 & 25 (2012–2013), 2014, pp. 80.
- McDaniel 2004, p. 11.
- Kenoyer, J.M., An upper paleolithic shrine in India? (PDF)
- Singh, Akhileshwar (10 April 2018). "Goddess Durga: Origin, iconography and mythology" (PDF). International Journal of Applied Social Science. 5 (5).
- McDaniel 2004, p. 90.
- Brown 1998, p. 26.
- The Rig Veda/Mandala 10/Hymn 125 Ralph T.H. Griffith (Translator); for Sanskrit original see: ऋग्वेद: सूक्तं १०.१२५
- Deussen, Paul (1980). Sixty Upaniṣads of the Veda, Part 1. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 207–208, 211–213 verses 14–28. ISBN 978-81-208-1468-4.
- Charles Johnston, Kena Upanishad in The Mukhya Upanishads: Books of Hidden Wisdom, (1920–1931), The Mukhya Upanishads, Kshetra Books, ISBN 978-1-4959-4653-0 (Reprinted in 2014), Archive of Kena Upanishad - Part 3 as published in Theosophical Quarterly, pages 229–232
- Saxena, N. B. (2012). Fulkerson, Mary McClintock; Briggs, Sheila (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology. Oxford University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-19-927388-1.
- Coburn 2002, p. 7.
- Coburn 1991, p. 16.
- Krishna Warrier 1999, pp. ix–x.
- Bhattacharyya 1996, p. 164.
- Dikshitar 1999, pp. 1–36.
- Brown 1998, pp. 8, 17, 10, 21, 320.
- Brooks 1990, pp. xiii–xiv.
- Brooks 1990, pp. xvi.
- Brooks 1990, pp. 37–38.
- Brooks 1990, p. 221 with note 64.
- Dasgupta 1996, p. 3.
- Brooks 1990, pp. xiii–xiv, xvi, 21.
- Hugh Urban (1997), Elitism and Esotericism: Strategies of Secrecy and Power in South Indian Tantra and French Freemasonry, Journal: Numen, Volume 44, Issue 1, pages 1 – 38
- McDermott 2005, p. 826. sfn error: no target: CITEREFMcDermott2005 (help)
- "Complete-Works/Volume 9/Lectures and Discourses/THE WOMEN OF INDIA". Retrieved 21 December 2021.
- Bhattacharyya 1996, p. 1.
- "Devi Upanishad – Rishi Atharvan". 10 October 2016.
- "Devi Upanishad – Vyasa Mahabharata".
- "Devi Upanishad". Astrojyoti.com. 30 May 2022. Retrieved 1 September 2022.
- "Full text of "108 Upanishads English Translation"". Archive.org. 14 January 2022. Retrieved 1 September 2022.
- Dikshitar 1999, pp. 77–78.
- Brown 1991, p. 186.
- Neela B Saxena (2012). Mary McClintock Fulkerson; Sheila Briggs (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology. Oxford University Press. pp. 134–138, 140. ISBN 978-0-19-927388-1.
- Brown 1991, p. 217.
- Yadav 2001.
- McDaniel 2004, pp. 89–91.
- "Complete-Works/Volume 5/Epistles-First Series". Retrieved 21 December 2021.
- Rocher 1986, p. 170.
- Brown 1998, p. 1-2, 85-98.
- Brown 1998, p. 12-17.
- Pintchman 2015, pp. 131–138.
- Brown 1990, pp. 179–198. sfn error: no target: CITEREFBrown1990 (help)
- Brown 1998, pp. 1–3.
- Pintchman 2014, p. 26-28.
- Rigopoulos, Antonio (1998). Dattatreya: The Immortal Guru, Yogin, and Avatara: A Study of the Transformative and Inclusive Character of a Multi-faceted Hindu Deity. State University of New York Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-7914-3696-7.
- Brooks 1992, p. 94.
- Foulston & Abbott 2009, pp. 74–75.
- Brown 1998, pp. 1–3, 12–17.
- Pintchman 2015, pp. 9, 34, 89–90, 131–138.
- Foulston & Abbott 2009, pp. 15–16.
- Pintchman 2014, p. 9-10.
- Brooks 1990, pp. 47–72.
- Brooks 1990, p. xii.
- Samuel, Geoffrey (2010). Tantric Revisionings. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 60–61, 87–88, 351–356. ISBN 978-8120827523.
- McDermott 2005, p. 827. sfn error: no target: CITEREFMcDermott2005 (help)
- Keat Gin Ooi (2004). Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor. ABC-CLIO. pp. 1101–1102. ISBN 978-1-57607-770-2.
- Kinsley 1987.
- Kali 2003, p. 149.
- Monaghan, Patricia (2011). Goddesses in World Culture. ABC-CLIO. pp. 26, 94. ISBN 978-0-313-35465-6.
- Kinsley 1987, pp. 102–104.
- Kinsley 1987, pp. 1–5.
- Kinsley 1987, pp. 161–165.
- Kinsley 1998.
- Bhattacharyya 1996, p. 126.
- Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Literature." Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Journal of Indological Studies (Kyoto), Nos. 24 & 25 (2012–2013), 2014, pp. 35, 37.
- Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Literature." Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Journal of Indological Studies (Kyoto), Nos. 24 & 25 (2012–2013), 2014, pp.4-5, 11, 57.
- Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Literature." Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Journal of Indological Studies (Kyoto), Nos. 24 & 25 (2012–2013), 2014, pp. 57-65.
- Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Literature." Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Journal of Indological Studies (Kyoto), Nos. 24 & 25 (2012–2013), 2014, pp. 59-60, 68.
- Subramuniyaswami 2002, p. 1211.
- Brooks 1992, p. back cover.
- Brooks 1990, p. xiii.
- Brooks 1992, pp. 59–60.
- Brooks 1992, p. 56.
- White 2003, p. 219.
- Bhattacharyya 1996, p. 209.
- Brooks 1990, p. 28.
- McDaniel n.d. sfn error: no target: CITEREFMcDanieln.d. (help)
- Nikhilananda 2000, p. 734.
- Pattanaik 2000, pp. 103–109.
- Kinsley 1987, pp. 95–115.
- "Durga Puja," DurgaPuja.org.
- McDermott 2005, p. 830. sfn error: no target: CITEREFMcDermott2005 (help)
- Susan Snow Wadley (2004). Raja Nal and the Goddess: The North Indian Epic Dhola in Performance. Indiana University Press. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-253-11127-7.
- "Regaling Varahi with different 'alankarams' in 'Ashada Navaratri'," 24 July 2007, The Hindu.
- Kinsley 1987, p. 33.
- "Diwali Festival", DiwaliFestival.org.
- "Kali Pooja in Bengal," Diwali Festival.org.
- Jones, Constance; Ryan, James D. (2006). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. pp. 112–113. ISBN 978-0-8160-7564-5.
- Dalal, Roshen (2010). The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin Books. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-14-341517-6.
- Fuller Christopher John (2004). "4". The camphor flame: popular Hinduism and society in India (Revised and Expanded ed.). Princeton University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-691-12048-5.
- Christopher John Fuller (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton University Press. p. 141. ISBN 0-691-12048-X.
- McDermott, Rachel Fell (2011). Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing for the Goddesses of Bengal: The Fortunes of Hindu Festivals. Columbia University Press. pp. 204–205. ISBN 978-0-231-12919-0.
- Katznelson, Ira; Jones, Gareth Stedman (2010). Religion and the Political Imagination. Cambridge University Press. p. 343. ISBN 978-1-139-49317-8.
- McDermott, Rachel Fell (2011). Revelry, rivalry, and longing for the Goddesses of Bengal: the fortunes of Hindu festivals. New York, Chichester: Columbia University Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-231-12918-3. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- Lang, Olivia (24 November 2009). "Hindu sacrifice of 250,000 animals begins | World news | guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
- "Ritual animal slaughter begins in Nepal - CNN.com". Edition.cnn.com. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
- Pfeffer, Georg; Behera, Deepak Kumar (1997). Contemporary Society: Developmental issues, transition, and change. Concept Publishing Company. p. 312. ISBN 9788170226420.
- "Bali Jatra of Sonepur" (PDF). Orissa.gov.in. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- Harlan, Lindsey (2003). The goddesses' henchmen gender in Indian hero worship. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford University Press. pp. 45 with footnote 55, 58–59. ISBN 978-0195154269.
- Hiltebeitel, Alf; Erndl, Kathleen M. (2000). Is the Goddess a Feminist?: the Politics of South Asian Goddesses. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press. p. 77. ISBN 9780814736197.
- Harlan, Lindsey (1992). Religion and Rajput Women. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. pp. 61, 88. ISBN 0-520-07339-8.
- Harlan, Lindsey (1992). Religion and Rajput Women. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. pp. 107–108. ISBN 0-520-07339-8.
- Hiltebeitel, Alf (February 1980). "Rāma and Gilgamesh: the sacrifices of the water buffalo and the bull of heaven". History of Religions. 19 (3): 187–195, 211–214. doi:10.1086/462845. JSTOR 1062467. S2CID 162925746.
- Taylor, Patrick; Case, Frederick (2013). The Encyclopedia of Caribbean Religions: Volume 1: A - L. University of Illinois Press. pp. 285–288. ISBN 978-0-252-09433-0.
- Urban 2003.
- White 2003.
- Kapoor 2002, p. 157.
- White 2003, p. 262.
- Jones, Constance; Ryan, James D. (2006). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase. p. 474. ISBN 978-0-8160-7564-5.
- Dhavamony, Mariasusai (1999). Hindu Spirituality. Gregorian Press. pp. 32–34. ISBN 978-88-7652-818-7.
- Gonda, Jan (1970). Visnuism and Sivaism: A Comparison. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1-4742-8080-8.
- Partridge, Christopher (2013). Introduction to World Religions. Fortress Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-8006-9970-3.
- Gupta, Sanjukta (1 February 2013). Advaita Vedanta and Vaisnavism: The Philosophy of Madhusudana Sarasvati. Routledge. pp. 65–71. ISBN 978-1-134-15774-7.
- Eng, Lai Ah (2008). Religious Diversity in Singapore. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. p. 221. ISBN 978-981-230-754-5.
- Dhavamony, Mariasusai (2002). Hindu-Christian Dialogue: Theological Soundings and Perspectives. Rodopi. p. 63. ISBN 90-420-1510-1.
- Stephen H Phillips (1995), Classical Indian Metaphysics, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0812692983, page 332 with note 68
- Olivelle, Patrick (1992). The Samnyasa Upanisads. Oxford University Press. pp. 4–18. ISBN 978-0195070453.
- Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0, pages 162–167
- "Shaivas". Overview Of World Religions. Philtar. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- Munavalli, Somashekar (2007). Lingayat Dharma (Veerashaiva Religion) (PDF). Veerashaiva Samaja of North America. p. 83.
- Prakash, Prem (1998). The Yoga of Spiritual Devotion: A Modern Translation of the Narada Bhakti Sutras. Inner Traditions. pp. 56–57. ISBN 978-0-89281-664-4.
- Frazier, J. (2013). "Bhakti in Hindu Cultures". The Journal of Hindu Studies. Oxford University Press. 6 (2): 101–113. doi:10.1093/jhs/hit028.
- Kemmerer, Lisa; Nocella, Anthony J. (2011). Call to Compassion: Reflections on Animal Advocacy from the World's Religions. Lantern. pp. 27–36. ISBN 978-1-59056-281-9.
- Simoons, Frederick J. (1998). Plants of Life, Plants of Death. University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 182–183. ISBN 978-0-299-15904-7.
- Sivaraman, K. (1973). Śaivism in Philosophical Perspective. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 336–340. ISBN 978-81-208-1771-5.
- John A. Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791430675, page 238
- Flood 1996, p. 225.
- Eliott Deutsche (2000), in Philosophy of Religion : Indian Philosophy Vol 4 (Editor: Roy Perrett), Routledge, ISBN 978-0815336112, pages 245-248
- McDaniel 2004, pp. 177–225.
- Hurley, Leigh; Hurley, Phillip (2012). Tantra, Yoga of Ecstasy: the Sadhaka's Guide to Kundalinin and the Left-Hand Path. Maithuna Publications. p. 5. ISBN 9780983784722.
- Skoog, Kim (1996). Andrew O. Fort; Patricia Y. Mumme (eds.). Living Liberation in Hindu Thought. SUNY Press. pp. 63–84, 236–239. ISBN 978-0-7914-2706-4.
- Prasad, Rajendra (2008). A Conceptual-analytic Study of Classical Indian Philosophy of Morals. Concept. p. 375. ISBN 978-81-8069-544-5.
- The global religious landscape: Hindus, Pew Research (2012)
- Johnson, Todd M.; Grim, Brian J. (2013). The World's Religions in Figures: An Introduction to International Religious Demography. John Wiley & Sons. p. 400. ISBN 9781118323038.
- "History of Sakti Cult in Odisha". History Of Odisha. 11 March 2018.
- Flood, Gavin (2008). The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. John Wiley & Sons. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-470-99868-7., Quote: "it is often impossible to meaningfully distinguish between Saiva and Sakta traditions".
- Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-45677-7, pages 371-375
- Pattanaik 2000, pp. 110–114.
- Bhattacharyya 1996, p. 171.
- Fell McDermett 1998, pp. 281–305. sfn error: no target: CITEREFFell_McDermett1998 (help)
- Kali Mandir
- Sri Rajarajeshwari Peetham
- Dempsey 2006.
- J. Gordon Melton; Baumann, Martin (2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition. ABC-CLIO. p. 2599. ISBN 978-1-59884-204-3.
- Dalal, Roshen (2010). The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin Books. p. 332. ISBN 978-0-14-341517-6.
- Keul, István (2012). Transformations and Transfer of Tantra in Asia and Beyond. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 119–123. ISBN 978-3-11-025811-0.
- Mary McClintock Fulkerson; Briggs, Sheila (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology. Oxford University Press. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-19-927388-1.
- Brancaccio, Pia (2010). The Buddhist Caves at Aurangabad: Transformations in Art and Religion. Brill Academic. pp. 21, 202–207. ISBN 978-90-04-18525-8., Quote: "To the right of the main Buddha image, carved out of the wall of the sanctum, is an ensemble of seven female images".
- Gray, David B.; Ryan Richard Overbey (2016). Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation. Oxford University Press. pp. 47–48. ISBN 978-0-19-990952-0.
- Roberts, Peter Alan (2011). Mahamudra and Related Instructions: Core Teachings of the Kagyu Schools. Simon and Schuster. p. 715. ISBN 978-0-86171-444-5.
- Rinehart, Robin (2011). Debating the Dasam Granth. Oxford University Press. pp. 71, 107–110. ISBN 978-0-19-984247-6.
- Elsberg, Constance Waeber (2003). Graceful Women: Gender and Identity in an American Sikh Community. University of Tennessee Press. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-1-57233-214-0.
- Singh, Pashaura; Fenech, Louis E. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
- Bhattacharyya, N. N. (1977) . The Indian Mother Goddess (2nd ed.). New Delhi: South Asia Books.
- Bhattacharyya, N. N. (1996) . History of the Sakta Religion (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers.
- Bolon, Carol Radcliffe (1992). Forms of the Goddess Lajja Gauri in Indian Art. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press.
- Brooks, Douglas Renfrew (1990). The Secret of the Three Cities: An Introduction to Hindu Shakta Tantrism. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-07569-3.
- Brooks, Douglas Renfrew (1992). Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and Traditions of Srividya Shakta Tantrism in South India. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-1146-9.
- Brown, C. MacKenzie (1991). The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Issues of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana. SUNY Series in Hindu Studies. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-0364-8.
- Brown, Cheever Mackenzie (1998). The Devi Gita: The Song of the Goddess: A Translation, Annotation, and Commentary. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-3939-5.
- Coburn, Thomas B. (1991). Encountering the Goddess: A translation of the Devi-Mahatmya and a Study of Its Interpretation. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0791404463.
- Coburn, Thomas B. (2002). Devī Māhātmya, The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition. South Asia Books. ISBN 81-208-0557-7.
- Dasgupta, S (1996). Journal of the Indian Musicological Society. Vol. 27–28. Indian Musicological Society.
- Dempsey, Corinne G. (2006). The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York: Breaking Convention and Making Home at a North American Hindu Temple. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Dikshitar, V. R. Ramachandra (1999) . The Lalita Cult. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
- Erndl, Kathleen M. (1992). Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual, and Symbol. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Fell McDermott, Rachel (1998). "The Western Kali". In Hawley, John; Wulff, Donna Marie (eds.). Devi: Goddesses of India. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1491-2.
- Fell McDermott, Rachel (2005). "Bengali religions". In Lindsay Jones (ed.). Encyclopedia of Religion: 15 Volume Set. Vol. 2 (2nd ed.). Detroit, Mi: MacMillan Reference USA. pp. 824–832. ISBN 0-02-865735-7.
- Foulston, Lynn; Abbott, Stuart (2009). Hindu Goddesses: Beliefs and Practices. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-902210-43-8.
- Hawley, John Stratton (1998). "The Goddess in India". In Hawley, John; Wulff, Donna Marie (eds.). Devi: Goddesses of India. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1491-2.
- Hiltebeitel, Alf; Erndl, Kathleen M. (2000). Is the Goddess a Feminist?: The Politics of South Asian Goddesses. New York University Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-3619-7.
- Johnsen, Linda (2002). The Living Goddess: Reclaiming the Tradition of the Mother of the Universe. Yes International. ISBN 978-0-936663-28-9.
- Joshi, L. M. (1998). Lalita Sahasranama: A Comprehensive Study of the One Thousand Names of Lalita Maha-tripurasundari. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd.
- Joshi, M. C. (2002). "Historical and Iconographical Aspects of Shakta Tantrism". In Harper, Katherine; Brown, Robert L. (eds.). The Roots of Tantra. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-5305-6.
- Kali, Davadatta (2003). In Praise of the Goddess: The Devimahatmya and Its Meaning. Berwick, ME: Nicolas-Hays. ISBN 8120829530.
- Kapoor, Subodh (2002) . A Short Introduction to Sakta Philosophy. New Delhi: Indigo Books.
- Kinsley, David (1987). Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0394-7.
- Kinsley, David (1998). Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1523-0.
- Krishna Warrier, A. J. (1999) . The Sākta Upaniṣads. The Adyar Library and Research Center, Library Series. Vol. 89 (3rd. ed.). Chennai: Vasanta Press.
- Manna, Sibendu. Mother Goddess, Chaṇḍī. Punthi Pustak, Calcutta, 1993. (ISBN 81-85094-60-8)
- McDaniel, June (2004). Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-534713-5.
- Nanda, Jyotir Maya. Mysticism of the Devi Mahatmya Worship of the Divine Mother. South Miami, Fla: Yoga Research Foundation, 1994. ISBN 0-934664-58-7
- Nikhilananda, Swami (trans.) (2000) . The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (9th ed.). New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center.
- Pattanaik, Devdutt (2000). Devi the Mother-Goddess: An Introduction. Mumbai: Vakils, Feffer and Simons Ltd.
- Pechilis, Karen, ed. (2004). The Graceful Guru: Hindu Female Gurus in India and the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Pintchman, Tracy (2005). Guests at God's Wedding: Celebrating Kartik among the Women of Benares. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-6595-0.
- Pintchman, Tracy (2014). Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great Goddess. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-9049-5.
- Pintchman, Tracy (2015). The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-1-4384-1618-2.
- Rocher, Ludo (1986). The Puranas. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3447025225.
- Sarma, S. A. (2001). Kena Upanisad: A Study From Sakta Perspective. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
- Shankarnarayanan, S. (2002b) . Sri Chakra (4th ed.). Chennai: Samata Books.
- Smith, Frederick M. (2006). The Self Possessed: Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-13748-6.
- Subramuniyaswami, Satguru Sivaya (2002) . Merging with Siva: Hinduism's Contemporary Metaphysics (2nd ed.). Hawaii: Himalayan Academy. ISBN 978-0-945497-99-8.
- Suryanarayana Murthy, C. (2000) . Sri Lalita Sahasranama with Introduction and Commentary. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
- Urban, Hugh B. (2003). Tantra: Sex, Secrecy, Politics and Power in the Study of Religion. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-93689-8.
- White, David Gordon (2003). Kiss of the Yogini: "Tantric Sex" in its South Asian Contexts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-89483-6.
- Winternitz, M. (1973) . History of Indian Literature. New Delhi.
- Woodroffe, Sir John (1951) . Sakti and Sakta: Essays and Addresses on the Shâkta Tantrashâstra. Ganesh & Company. ISBN 978-1-60620-145-9.
- Yadav, Neeta (2001). Ardhanārīśvara in Art and Literature. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd.
- Chatterji, Usha (1968). "Shakta and Shakti" (PDF). Studies in Comparative Religion. 2 (4).
- Kinsley, David (1978). "The Portrait of the Goddess in the Devī-māhātmya". Journal of the American Academy of Religion. XLVI (4): 489–506. doi:10.1093/jaarel/XLVI.4.489. JSTOR 1463045.
- Koester, Hans (1929). "The Indian Religion of the Goddess Shakti". Journal of the Siam Society. 23 (1): 1–18.