The divine union of Shiva and Shakti in traditional Indian Tantrism.


The divine union of Shiva and Shakti in traditional Indian Tantrism.

Article by Maya Swati Devi

“Devi, the same body is the temple; 

Jiva is the same Sadhashiva. 

Get rid of the withered flowers and loves ignorance with knowledge. 

So Ham, “I am he” 

Kularnava Tantra, Ullasa 9

The translation of the term Tantra is: “duality in unity “. Tantrism can also manifest in the physical body of a man and a woman, only if  the person  has been transformed into the androgyne manifestation. In this understanding resides the deepest mystery of Tantrism.
In India there is a symbol or figure that represents Shiva and Shakti in the form of half-man, half-woman, named  Ardhanarishvara. 

Ardhanariswara is ‘the symbol of Tantrism and means “half Shiva and half Shakti”.
This androgynous symbol is not hermaphrodite, and does not reflect ethnic decline as in the modern world.

In Tantra there is no mention of sexual preference but energies Prana (Positive pole) and Apana (Negative pole) which alternate within our subtle body.Labels are a separation that society creates  to control our lives with stereotypes and programs.A real tantrika refuse every label, every definition, and often are considered outcasts.
The Tantra aims to union and non-duality in every aspect of life and sexuality is exalted to transcend sex itself reaching mystical union. 

In every human being , if Shiva and Shakti dance together and are in balance , there is no difference between men and women as the principles come together and melt naturally.

One of the most important tantra sacred text ,  representing the union of Shiva and Shakti, is the Kularnava tantra, literally “ocean – the kaula bliss” ,Kaula means clan or family, is one of the most important texts of the tantric tradition Kaula Nath, and was written between the 10th and 15th century AD, which describes a dialogue between Shiva, the lord of yoga, and Shakti, the mother of the universe, and sets out the principles and practices of tantric path,  with the hermetic language  that characterizes most of the sacred tantric texts.

The Immutable Masculine and the Eternal Feminine

The mystic ndrogyny of  Ardhanarishvara is the symbol of a cosmic balance, where the masculine pole prevails sometimes the feminine pole and viceversa. On the metaphysical level this polarity game imparts the constant changes over the destinies of the world. In the universe  there would  be periods of absence or male concentration, followed by periods of presence or female expansion. The cosmic  male concentration  and absence of  fertilization , coincide with the decline of the dominant civilization.
Shiva, the divine seed, fertilized the entire planet in the golden era, during which reigned peace and unity, protected what is spiritually alive, respecting his function of destroyer. It is the diamond-thunderbolt (Vajra) coming  down from the cosmo.

Shiva is Bhairava that creates, protects, destroys, conceals, and his nature is revealed through the cycle of the world. The Lord Shiva, completely free (Svatantra), owns the diversity of forms of creation and destruction, by its very nature. 

The whole universe is Shakti, the energy that has the ultimate aim to recognize the nature of Shiva. 

Shakti is the personification of the universe, and her activity is to love, while Shiva shares the state of supreme consciousness. Shakti is fully and eternally complete. 

Shakti, the feminine, raises new sources of inspiration and Shiva materializes his seed through her.
Her radiance does not fade in light or in darkness, because all the light and the darkness is illuminated by the Supreme Consciousness.Shiva and Shakti are not aware of being separate , they are linked to each other as fire and heat.

Shiva and Shakti in Yoga

Yoga is the unity of all the dualities and opposites that creates lifeforce , it teaches us to understand and transcend duality, it is based on the harmonization of duality within us in a state of transformative equilibrium.

Shakti and Shiva, as the cosmic dual principles , are an intrinsic part of  Yoga, which is a natural process of integration and transformation. The recognition of the cosmic duality leads us to the practice of Yoga, which is theunion. The whole Yoga is a development of awareness of the two  opposites: Shiva, the seer of the state,  and Shakti,  its power to see, transforming the two forces from their lower manifestations to their higher reality in pure union.

Shiva is Pure Being and Shakti is the power to Become.

Each world has the nature of Shiva, higher Self or Spirit, and the  power or dynamic energy of Shakti.

Each creature has the nature of Shiva and Shakti.

Shiva is the intrinsic reality ,Shakti is the power of action. 

Shiva is beyond every action, while Shakti is the power of action at all levels. 

The divine presence has a tremendous power to act when the time is appropriate, which is the expression of his Shakti. Shiva is the underlying reality which is not manifested and Shakti creates its external appearance.

This duality of Shiva and Shakti, or being and action, also happens in the manifest realm. Shiva is reality or durability , while Shakti is the relativity, what is always fluctuating. 

All yoga practices aim to cultivate a calm awareness of Shiva and a corresponding dynamic force of Shakti. Shiva is reflected in asana’s calmness, Shakti is the power of flowing into it . Shiva is the nature of Prana in the state of  balance, Shakti is the power to develop  it. Pranayama is a inner energizing  Shakti practice. 

Shiva is the beginning of the pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses, the action of Shakti internalize our energies. Shiva is reflected in the concentrated mind and Shakti is the direct power of concentration. 

Shiva is the meditative mind and Shakti is the power of meditation. 

Shiva is the state of absorbption or Samadhi , the highest stage in meditation, in which a person experiences oneness with the universe, and Shakti is the power of bliss. 

The alignment is the balance of the union of Shiva and Shakti energies within. 

Shiva is the state of equilibrium; and Shakti is the energy of transformation that arises spontaneously from it. 

In our inner nature, we are Shiva and Shakti without limits, with an unlimited understanding and an unlimited capacity of creative actions.

While the energy of Shakti unfolds, it will bring to the state of total transformation which is the quietness of Shiva. Shiva is the Lord of Yoga and Shakti is the power in the practice of Yoga.. The whole yoga is Shiva-Shakti Yoga as the ultimate union.

Shiva and Shakti are present together reflecting each other in our lives at every level. Once you recognize this, all life becomes yoga.

The mystical union of Siva and Sakti in the traditional Tantric

Tantra is the practical application of the whole yogic wisdom, life, space and energy. If you approach it with the right intention, it can offer much more than the fulfillment of your desires, it can help you to achieve the ultimate goal of embracing the life of the whole universe into your own consciousness!

“From the meaning of Tantra (TAN) ” text or exposure “is derived the meaning of “which has proceeded “or “what has come down”.  Tantra is an extension or further development of the traditional teachings originally contained in the Vedas, the brahmanas, the Upanishads and the Puranas, claiming the dignity of a “fifth Veda.” The tantric sacred texts also state that only the techniques based on Shakti sâdhana are suitable and effective during  the actual time known as Iron age or Kali yuga , all others scriptures would act as a snake’s venom. ”

The duality, which originates in the divine couple of Shiva and Shakti, is  imprinted in Tantrism,  and it imanifest in the human expression of couple , where the man and the woman will live the myth of Shiva and Shakti on earth

The man who embraces the  tantric path (sadhaka) sees  Shakti in every woman as incarnation of Devi, whose fertile energies can play the role of the absolute experimentation.

Tantric intercourse leads to the reunion of the metaphysical dyad, the union of Shiva and Shakti , distroying  duality and revealing the fullness  as One. 

The male and the female are two opposite and complementary polarity. The “positive” pole (Prana) And the “negative” pole (Apana). During the mystical union of the Maithuna these two forces converge and create the experience of Samadhi,  in the expression of the thousand-petalled lotus (Sahasrara). 

In  Tantric union it is  important to direct the energy towards the point on the top of the head named Bindu ; which literally means “point” or  “drop” and is the nucleus from which the creation becomes manifest.

The Maithuna , Sacred ritual of the mystical tantric union,  might be the easiest way for the awakening  of Kundalini Devi or the Serpent Goddess, but few are adeguately prepared for this journey as the ordinary sex is not a mystical union. The body  must be first purified, both internally and externally, and  the mind must be free from emotions and needs. 

According to tradition, the practice of Dakshina marg , The way of the devotee, must be followed for many years, before reaching the Vama Marg,  In order to prepare the sadhaka to acquire Bhakti (Devotional attitude) toward the woman, and thus to Shakti.

Vama, in sanskrit means: “which is at the left hand side” and it refers to Ida Nadi  (subtle female channel),  located at  the left hand side of Sushumna Nadi (center channel) , and has the “lunar”, “female”, “aqueous” (kapha) character. During tantric rituals  the woman is seated “to the left” of the man, so is the woman who is “Vama” and she takes the leading role of the “Initiator”. 

Panchamakara , The ritual of the five M, practiced in the sacred ceremony  of Maithuna unfortunately has been missunderstood , reinterpreted and applied to the letter by Western Tantra, but the real secret of this ritual can only be understood by the initiated Sadhaka who perceive its symbolic value:
Madya – drink wine: is the divine inebriation
mamsa – eat Meat: is the physicality, the asanas (positions that they take with the body during the practice of yoga)
Matsya – eat fish: is pranayama (breath control)
Mudra – eating roasted cereal: is the mudra (symbolic gesture  or seal that allows the practitioner of yoga to develop
awareness of the currents of life energy within the body).
Maithuna – sexual union: is the mystical union (which has nothing to do with an ordinary intercourse).

In this expansion of consciousness a female humanbeing is transfigured into a living symbol and an earthly manifestation of the Divine Mother of the Universe (Adhi Shakti), while the man embodies the Masculine Principle or Shiva. 

This vision can be understood by knowing the  traditional tantric path:
Tantrism speaks about  the essence of the cosmo, the centers that radiate the divine realm, the astrology, the genesis and apocalypse , the spirit, the soul and the body, the  magic and the alchemy. The aim to embrace the yoga path depends on the circumstances, on the Dharma (vocation) and on the qualifications of one’s unconscious mind.

The tantric tradition considers Shakti a lifeforce that is dynamism and power, pure manifestation of the absolute action. The sexual expansion techniques aim to  liberation or Moksha, and to learn to move Shakti inside and outside of us, in order to escape from the limited experience  embracing the infinity. The Tantric path considers the woman a metaphysical center of the erotic relationship. The sexual act triggers a power that goes far beyond the physical pleasure, amplifying and expanding the sphere of desire, taking full advantage of the sexual power of love. Sexuality is the only way  to capture, magnify and interact with the process of the Cosmo. 


Tantra is,  and will remain,  a dominant force, not only in Indian spirituality but worldwide. While we recognize the popular New Age forms of Tantra as a point of entry into these teachings, it is important to recognize the wider vision and spiritual knowledge of the  authentic  and traditional Tantra.

Tantra is an inner revolution, it is to drop all the religious beliefs, morality, constraints, prejudices and create the space  within that to conceive the infinite and timeless truth. 

The moment where the mind is empty and adapts to what really happens in the present  , everything becomes union. The texture, the principle of life,  magically takes many different forms of infinite creativity. 

lTantra breaks taboos, beliefs and dogmas imposed by any religion.

If for Shiva grace , through Sadhana or the vibration of the Guru,  someone realizes the true knowledge of reality, which is the permanent state of Lord Shiva, final liberation is attained . 

This fulfillment is given to noble souls and is called liberation in life (Jivanmukti).

***Author’s notes: Some terms in Sanskrit have been rewritten to the ease of the reader’s  reading. The terms Shiva and Shakti are written in Sanskrit Siva and Sakti but for this article are written with the “H”. 

Maya Swati Devi 2018, All rights reserved.

It is forbidden any duplication or copy of this article without the permission of the author.



Italian Teacher of Traditional Tantrism, Yogini, dancer and author of  the book “The  tantric dancer”, published in italian by MIR 2016, founder of the first italian school of traditional Tantrism and Tantric yoga in Milan (IT) in 2007.

Maya’s  teachings  follows the principles of the Tantric ancient traditions: Kaula and Sakta ,  according to the sacred text “Mahanirvana Tantra” and the union of “Shiva and Shakti” of the Kaula ligneage, the inner shakti yoga, the worship of the Dasha Mahavidya (the Ten tantric wisdom goddesses) and the great Mother of  the  Sakta path and the principles of Truth , Simplicity and Love, the message  that Babaji Shiva Mahavatar left to the world.
Maya was initiated in 2000 to the Kaula tantrism by Swami Shri Anand Guptananda during her long stay in the Himalayan mountains in India. In 2007 she was recognized Tantra teacher and  student by her second  Master  Swami Shri Param Eswaran who initiated her to the Sakta  tradition. In 2014 she became a TANTRIC YOGA Certified teacher by Yoga Alliance.
She is been teaching  for many years to women about  DIVINE FEMININE, helping them to understand their femininity through the secret practices of  tantric yogini, Indian and mystical Sufi dances.
Maya is committed to spread  the tradition of TRADITIONAL  HINDU’ TANTRISM i  in Italy and abroad, through courses and annual training courses. She organizes spiritual retreats and tours in India and Indonesia and she is one of the few Western Tantra teachers invited to give seminars in India. Maya is  vegan since 1996  and  she uses natural  remedies and practices  to keep body and mind in good health, following the principles of nature and ayurveda.

LANGUAGES: ENGLISH, FRENCH, SPANISH, SANSKRIT (yoga knowledge), Hindi (speaking knowledge).

 To know more about  Maya Swati Devi and her school DEVI TANTRA YOGA please visit


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