Shakti: The Divine, Revered Feminine Power in Indian Tradition
A central idea in Indian philosophy is that of shakti, which represents the divine power of creation and the maintenance of the universe. An extremely powerful and wide-reaching concept, shakti is also identified with a distinctly feminine energy, reflecting how, for thousands of years, Indian tradition has celebrated and revered the irreplaceable role that women play in creating and maintaining life. Women represent nourishment, vitality, beauty and strength.
Because shakti reflects the fundamental act of creation, shakti manifests as a feminine energy because it mirrors how women create life through giving birth. Hindu tradition thus honors the crucial role that women play in the maintenance of the human race—without women, life could not continue! In addition, shakti also refers to goddesses, who manifest that same life-giving energy that the concept represents. There are many goddesses who fall under the umbrella of shakti, from the gentle and kind Uma to the fierce and protective Durga. Throughout the next few weeks, we will be exploring the stories behind some of these goddesses as a way to uphold one of our most important goals here at UMA: the celebration of womanhood in all of its forms.
As historians have noted, Mother Goddesses have been worshipped for thousands of years in India for their nurturing, fertile and life-giving properties. Shakti represents the ultimate instantiation of this divine female energy, and women are believed to serve as the vessels for shakti. As such, women can draw from the powerful energy of shakti to inspire strength, power and creativity within themselves.
How Shakti Guides Principles of Balance in Ayurveda
Ayurveda recognizes the presence of both male and female energy within the body. When it comes to shakti, the reverence of womanhood and divine feminine energy in ancient Hindu tradition has led to a deep Ayurvedic understanding of how to treat conditions that are faced by women in particular, such as pregnancy, menstrual cycles and menopause. For example, Ayurveda recommends taking Shatavari as a cooling herb that pacifies the Pitta dosha. Research has shown that Shatavari can reduce menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats, and promote breast milk production and overall immunity in lactating women. Ayurveda also recommends the potent adaptogenic herb Ashwagandha for balancing out low estrogen levels during menopause; ashwagandha also boosts the immune system and reduces both physical and psychological stress. If you’re interested in learning more about specific Ayurvedic practices that are beneficial to women, you can check out our blog post here.
At UMA, our celebration of womanhood is deeply connected to our Ayurvedic roots and our grounding in Indian tradition. Ancient concepts like shakti remind us of the immense strength, beauty and importance of women—and we hope that they can inspire our readers and customers to celebrate themselves, too!