In the Tantric cosmology, the term Shakti defines an unbelievable and complex aspect of the universe, which bears numerous nuances, including: cosmic creative force, mother who gave birth to everything, cosmic energy, seductive woman, devoted sister, terrible power who destroys all limitations, Goddess who grants divine gifts, feminine force residing especially in beautiful, vital and spiritual women, fundamental energy Kundalini Shakti, etc.
The Tantrics assert that in order to define Shakti one has to know Her.
The problem arises once one gets to truly know what Shakti is because then any attempt to classifying it disappears as any concept cannot comprise the sublime of Shakti, regardless of its potential degree of philosophical value.
According to the tantric view of Shakti, She has innumerable ways of manifesting herself.
She is the famous energy Kundalini or the snake coiled at the base of the spine, immense energy that yogis awaken and contemplate with fascination and fear equally, totally charmed by it. Nevertheless, the snake is merely a symbol of the spiritual path, not the path itself.
The divine energy, Shakti, as tantric philosophy has it, cannot be confined in any form, formula or ritual. Subtle as the earth, imperceptible as the water, bright as the fire, free as the air, infinite as space she traverses all elements belonging to this world, without assuming the identity of any.
The renowned master Vimalananda said once that speaking of enlightenment without knowing Shakti is simply a joke.
There is a Hindu myth about how Shakti first appeared; the importance of this myth is in its symbolism.
The legend says that a monstrous demon, Mahisa, was threatening the foundation of the universe itself, and the existence of all gods. Brahma and the whole pantheon called Shiva and Vishnu for help. Enraged, the gods emitted their energies as a fire coming out from their mouth.
These different divine flames unified into a one as a burning cloud, and finally took the shape of a goddess with eighteen arms. This goddess, Shakti was the one who succeeded in defying the demon and at the same time saving the universe.
The important thing to note here is that the gods seem to have somehow restored their energies to the Primordial Force, the Source from which everything emerged in the very beginning.
In Tantra, Shakti also represents the force of transformation and regeneration, an extraordinary ascendant force that may lead to ecstasy.
Furthermore, according to the same sources, Shakti represents the beatific force of orgasm, the thrill of sexual pleasures amplified through the profound fusion between the two lovers. She is the divine game of love itself. She is also called "Lalita" or " Lila ", both meaning "the one who plays."
Tantra says: "everything perceivable through the eyes is definable in terms of frames of mind, but not Her who is the Mother", and "she is ineffable and beyond perception/conception; having a form, she is nonetheless formless."
The tantrics have distinguished two aspects in which she becomes manifested; static and dynamic. Shakti is Maya (illusion), who appears as the phenomenal world and hides the Absolute Consciousness from the ignorant. As subtle and undifferentiated energy of the universe, she is Parashakti. These forms are not separated, but co-exist in a fundamental manner.
In her supreme form, Shakti is identified with Mahadevi or Mahamaya, the Great Goddess, the power who creates and destroys, often represented as the mysterious uterus from which everything emerged and in which everything dissolves.
In the tantric cosmology, the whole universe (the macro cosmos) is considered to have emerged and to be permanently sustained by two forces, opposed in term of polarity: Shiva (masculine) and Shakti (feminine).
The sacred books, the Tantras, speak of the goddess Dakini, totally and eternally free, who is the Supreme Absolute itself: "when there exists nothing, Sun, Moon, planets, nothing else but the void, then and there my Divine Formless Mother exists."
For the well-known master SRI AUROBINDO the Cosmic Mother "always mediates between the human personality and the Divine Nature", facilitating the access to the later.
She is the colossal force, who supports the biologic, psychic, affective and mental processes of the human being. She does not manifest only through the laws of nature, but also through the processes of life, through attitudes, frames of mind, etc.
Everything that is movement and consequently life (micro cosmic or macro cosmic) is in reality the action of Shakti, the Cosmic Mother, who embraces everything and is at the same time beyond everything..