Once, Shiva went away to Mt. Kailash, to live as a hermit for awhile, and Shakti was not allowed to go with him. She stayed alone, below in the mountains, and felt very sad. Her longing for Shiva was so strong that she didn’t know what to do with herself. Everything around her seemed to be boring and purposeless, and she felt very restless. Shakti is inseparable from Shiva – just as heat from fire, light from the sun, night from the sky, or a reflection from the mirror.
So, Shakti went around to all the Gods to ask for advice, but they couldn’t help her. When she was most desperate, she even went to Yama (the God of death); but he refused to see her, as she was not on his list of expected visitors.
Finally, she went to Indra (God of rain) and told him about her difficulties. He listened, and then said: You will meet Shiva again. In the meantime, you must practice Sadhana; this will serve two purposes. First, it will help you to progress spiritually, and will decrease the time you have to live without Shiva. You will also feel a certain inner contact with him, as he is practicing Sadhana, also. Secondly, your restlessness will disappear. The practice is to meditate on Om, the beginning-less sound. This practice will take you very far on the spiritual path. Just sit down for meditation, close your eyes, and repeat Om loudly, every time you exhale.
So, when the evening came, Shakti sat down in Padmasana and started repeating Om loudly. She found so much peace in this simple practice that it was impossible for her to stop. She sat in deep meditation for days, months, and years. Very heavy rains poured down on Shakti, but her meditation was so deep that she didn’t notice it at all. In a short time, the ground around her was covered with water. Soon, the water level had reached her waist. It rained and rained, and still Shakti didn’t notice anything. Finally, her whole body was covered with water, but her meditation was unbroken. She was still repeating, Om, Om, Om…
This is the sound of the sea, even today. At the bottom of the ocean, Shakti is still sitting deep in meditation, repeating her mantra. Every time she breathes in, the waves go back; every time she breathes out, they come forward again. So Om, the mystical eternal sound we hear in the ocean, is the voice of God. And so the ocean will go on roaring Om, Om, Om… until Shiva and Shakti are united again. And the sea is the best storyteller in the world. Just listen. You can learn everything from it, for everything is the sound of Om. This is the word which is powerful in silence.
SHIVA symbolizes consciousness, the masculine principle.
SHAKTI symbolizes the feminine principle, the activating power and energy.
SHAKTI (or Prakriti) means energy, power, movement, change, nature. It is the maternal principle – the provider, abundance. In the human as well as in the animal kingdom the mother offers nourishment, warmth and security. There is no greater love than the love of a mother. The mother carries and nourishes the child in her own body. When it is born she provides it with mother’s milk and raises it at the sacrifice of her own self until it becomes self-reliant.
SHIVA (or Purusha), on the other hand, is pure consciousness – the unchanging, unlimited and unswayable observer. Purusha has no desires whatsoever; these are inherent only in Prakriti. Purusha is the empty, clear screen onto which Prakriti projects her colourful film.
Shiva and Shakti are manifestations of the all-in-one divine consciousness - different sides of the same coin. In many pictures these two primal powers are each depicted as being one half of the same image; one side female and one side male. The left side is the Divine Mother, Pārvatī, the “feminine” energy, and the right side represents Shiva, the “masculine” consciousness.
Shiva and Shakti exist within each of us as the masculine and feminine principles. This has an effect on the physical level – it is the cause of sexual attraction. Within man there exists a tendency towards the feminine qualities, and within woman a tendency towards the masculine. Through this the masculine consciousness is attracted by the feminine and vice versa.
Shiva resides in the Sahasrāra Chakra and Shakti in the Mūlādhāra Chakra. When Prakriti and Purusha unite in the Sahasrāra Chakra, knowledge, knower and the object of knowledge become one. Once we have experienced this no desires remain within us because we realize unequivocally that everything we have ever yearned for is carried within us. In this state of absolute consciousness there are no polarities and therefore no more sorrows; there is only everlasting joy, unconditional love, unlimited compassion and total understanding for all living beings.
For as long as consciousness is connected to the physical body it is unable to remain constantly in the Sahasrāra Chakra and so returns to the residence of the Ātmā in the Heart Centre (Anāhata Chakra). A realized person always thinks, feels and acts from the heart. Embedded in eternal love and eternal happiness, that person is always conscious of the immortal Ātmā, the ocean of bliss, and their consciousness is forever connected to the divine consciousness.