The ultimate Reality is one and only one. It is Shiva or Shakti or Shiva-Shakti and is (‘samvit’) of the nature of pure consciousness. The relationship between Shiva and Shakti is like that of fire and its burning power or the word and its meaning. They are two in one or one in two, always inseparable. In the inactive state it is Shiva and in the active it is Shakti. The former is also called Nirguna-parameshvara (the Lord without attributes) wherein the Shakti is inherent and dormant. When this Shakti starts awakening, Parameshvara becomes 'Sagun'. The first evolute of the process of creation is Shakti. From Shakti proceeds para-nada (the unmanifest sound or vibration which gives rise to para-bindu, the higher bindu or point).from it proceed the apara-bindu (lower bindu or point, identified with the Shiva-principle), the bija (identified with the Shakti-principle) and the apara-nade (the lower sound or vibration) considered as the union of the Shiva and the Shakti principles.
From bija or Shakti (also called Shabda-brahma, Parashakti or Paradevata) proceed the 23 tattvas or cosmic principles, viz., mahat, ahankara, the ten indriyas and the mind, the five subtle elements and the five gross elements like the earth, water etc. Together with Shakti, they are 24.
From apara-bindu, identified with Shiva, proceed the five deities viz., Sadashiva, Isana, Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma. By adding seven more principles like purusha (the individual soul) and kala (time), the total number of tattvas is raised to 36.
In the human body, Shakti resides as the Kundalini, the power resembling a coiled serpent at the muladhara-chakra, situated at the base of the spine. When roused through proper sadhanas or spiritual exercises, it rises through five more chakras like the svadhishthana and the anahata, and, finally reaches the sahasrara in the crown of the head, resembling a lotus of a thousand petals, there it merges with Shiva, resulting in moksha or liberation for that individual self.
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