– Aparna Chatterjee
Mystics all around the world have thrived on the concept of duality. Parties on the opposite side of the see-saw and the balance between them dictated the equilibrium of the human mind and society. India, for one, has come far by accepting these concepts in its culture and religion more than others. Although the traditions and the ancient mythology might not be in great synchronicity, the importance of Shakti has never been undermined.
The names may differ from place to place. In China, people call it Yin-Yang, Hun-Po from East Asia, Ka-Ba from Egypt, or Olympic–Chthonic in ancient Greece. It meant that both Feminine and Masculine characteristics should be balanced. Although, there were other interpretations where duality consisted of good and evil. The whole idea is that good and evil are necessary to maintain balance.
Feminine and Masculine energy-
Shakti- the Feminine aspect has always been associated with chaos, emotions, freedom, and motherly traits. Hence, in almost all ancient religions, a female deity is related to love and war. Because a mother will care for her children day and night, but she will fight for them if any danger comes, just like we have Devi Parvati- a docile manifestation of Shakti who is worshipped for the protection of children and pregnant women, Devi Kaali- a warrior manifestation of Shakti who is known for slaying demon Raktbeej. We have goddesses of similar nature in ancient Greek mythology—Athena- the goddess of war, and Aphrodite- the goddess of love and fertility. The same goes for ancient Mesopotamian mythology. Inanna was the first goddess of love and a Sumerian goddess for love and war.
Shiva- the Masculine aspect has been associated with order, logic, clarity, and paternal traits. In Sanatana Dharma, we have the holy trinity for maintaining law & order and conserving life. We have Lord Brahma- the creator; Lord Vishnu- the protector; and Lord Shiva- the destroyer. It is believed that in every yug, a new alter of Shiva and Vishnu came to protect, control, and destroy evil. Ancient Greek alter of Lord Shiva is also known as Dionysus or the ‘God of the Orient.’ People also drag out the similarities between Poseidon and Lord Shiva.
While we have concrete reasons that one might worship Shakti, Masculine counterparts are honored for anything from abundance to removing obstacles. Lord Ganesha, for instance, is called ‘Vighnaharta,’ which means the one who curbs all your problems. We can also see similar attributes associated with Lord Shiva and the ancient Egyptian gods Atum and Seth. These gods were all worshipped for worldly needs and were associated with justice, the destruction of evil, and so on.
The concept of duality is the only thing that remains common in all ancient religions. Names of the deities may change from religion to religion, from culture to culture. Different demigods and manifestations are present for one to choose and pray as per their needs. In simple terms, Shiva is a portal, and Shakti is the fuel one needs to get there.
Concept of Chakras–
Yoga has been developed to make one’s body ready to use and enhance Shakti in a certain way. Chakras or nodal points have been identified that help give a map for those pursuing them. There are 114 chakras, seven of which are in the spine’s alignment, which is the most prominent and relatively easy to work on. Each chakra is associated with various emotions, colors, and mantras, which can be used to ease the passage of energy or Shakti through them. For example, if you’re feeling low in confidence or guilty for not sticking up for yourself, working on the Solar plexus chakra, which is situated near your navel, will help. It is associated with the color yellow and the sound of RM. When you come across phrases like ‘Chakra is blocked’ and ‘Energy blocks,’ it primarily means that Shakti’s energy flow is inefficient.
Mysticism all around the world has explored these areas in different ways. While some were called witchcraft, some established well-operated cults that helped others explore this inner energy we all have.
Fasting has been crucial in almost every religion we know. People fast on a specific auspicious day or a day of the week; some fast for days in a row. Science has now found multiple benefits of fasting. Intermittent fasting, water fasting, and dry fasting are famous worldwide. Fasting has been proven to render people better health and clarity and has been shown to improve neurogenesis. The energy used to digest loads of food in the body is utilized to heal ailments. According to the mystics, fasting helps us have better antennas to receive power and keep the vessel(body) clean to store and drive the flow of this energy. Ancient Yogic traditions promote fasting and eating more energy-prone food like fruits, vegetables, leafy vegetables, etc.
Universal consciousness is the idea that we are a part of the same entity/ energy/ consciousness we worship. It parallels Newton’s first energy law- Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The energy changes its form from one to another. The concept of energy, its dual types, its balance, and that it is part of the universal energy have been changed in one form or another. Spirituality is the salient fabric of any religion. But spirituality is mutually exclusive from any religion. It is beyond the physical aspects of a human being. Hence, it is seen as something sacred and omnipresent.
Some spiritual practices can bring peace and clarity to someone who has become too busy in the mundane world. The purpose is not to outdo someone else or even gain something of a higher purpose; the aim is to be your true self and enrich what you are. Being this far ahead in life, we are sure that we do not merely exist to fight for survival and die. What is the use of the gift of life if one can’t understand its true nature?
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