Etymology of Shakti
The term Shakti means "The everlastingly boundless supremacy". She is the control beyond the creation. She is the active energy that can be both form and can destroy the whole universe.
Legends of Shakti
There are two main appearances of Lord Shiva. His first appearance is all persistent, wholesome, heavenly and absolute. In other words, he is the eternally constant Supreme God. His second form is ‘Shaktitattva’ or Divine Energy Principle, which is always working for the universe. The origin of Shakti is in the form of vibrations. Shakti is not separated from Lord Shiva but is a part of Lord Shiva. Shakti’s purpose is to stimulate Lord Shiva who is in a motionless state.
In Hinduism, Shakti is represented as one of the five equal scripture sanctioned forms of God in the ‘panchadeva’ system. In Vaishnavism, Lord Vishnu signifies the Shakti. He is the active energy and power of male supreme deity. Vishnu's Shakti consort is Goddess Lakshmi. As a mother, she is known as "Adi Shakti" or "Adi Parashakti". Shakti embodies the active feminine energy of Lord Shiva and is synonymously identified with Tripura Sundari or Parvati. With Lord Shiva, she has two sons namely Kumara, who defeated the demon Taraka and Lord Ganesha, who became the elephant-headed god of wisdom and good wealth.
A popular myth of Shakti is as Goddess Kali, who fought with demon Raktavija, the head of an army of demons. According to myth, she couldn’t kill him with her weapons, so she killed him by drinking all of his blood. For this, Goddess Kali is generally represented as having a red tongue. Shakti has never been mentioned with the name of ‘Adi Shakti’ excluding the ‘Shakta Puranas’. Shiva Purana states ‘Adi Parashakti’ incarnated in entire worldly form as ‘Param Prakriti’ from the left half of Lord Shiva. Skanda Purana and Markandeya Purana talks about Goddess Durga or Goddess Chandi as the heavenly mother of all formation of Shakti. Goddess Durga, Lord Hanuman and Lord Murugan are the triad of Shakti. Shaktism considers the metaphysical realism and the Devi is ultimate. Shaktism has different sub-traditions. The Hindu concept, the ultimate Shakti is ‘Adi Parashakti’, whose material expression is Tripura Sundari, the ultimate power inbuilt in all formation.
Vahana of Shakti
A lot of forms of Shakti are associated with an animal or bird that performs as a ‘vahana’, or vehicle. The lion is the ‘vahana’ for both Goddess Durga and Goddess Parvati. Goddess Durga, who includes the power of all of the gods and takes on the character of warrior goddess, uses her lion as a weapon and for moving.
Shakti Peethas of Shakti
Some of the religious texts like the Shiva Purana, the Devi Bhagavata, the Kalika Purana and the Asta Shakti differentiate 4 major Shakti Peethas centres explicitly:
Apart from these 4 major Shakti Peethas, there are 51 famous Shakti Peethas recognized by different spiritual texts. These are located at Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Punjab, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Murshidabad.
Shakti is also known as Amma in south India, particularly in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Shakti is both responsible for formation and the agent of all transform. Shakti is celestial subsistence as well as deliverance, its most important form being the Kundalini Shakti, an unexplained psycho religious power.