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Shaktipat or Śaktipāta is a Sanskrit word in the Hindu spiritual tradition that refers to the act of the spiritual energy of kundalini being conferred on a disciple or student, by a guru or spiritual teacher in whom it is already active. Śakti translates as spiritual energy and "pāta" as descent(to fall down).[1][2] Shaktipat can be intermediated by the spiritually enlightened master either by transmission of sacred word or mantra, a look, a thought or by touch. The touch is usually given to the ajna chakra or third eye of the disciple. Shaktipat can be transmitted in person or at a distance, through an object such as a flower or fruit, or via telephone or letter.[3]

Śaktipāt as an act of free will of God

Śaktipāt is an act of Divine Grace (anugraha), completely undetermined. It cannot be forced to come by any action but it always comes of the free will of Śiva. However, the attitude of the recipient must be open towards such influx of illuminating Śakti, otherwise it will not be imposed by force as every human being is endowed with free will, including the freedom to reject God.[4]

Śaktipāt as a contact of consciousness

The guru passes his knowledge to his disciples by virtue of the fact that his purified consciousness enters into the selves of his disciples and communicates its particular characteristic. In this process the disciple is made part of the spiritual family (kula) - a family which is not based on blood relations but on people of the same knowledge.[5]

Levels of intensity of Śaktipāt

In Kashmir Shaivism, depending on its intensity, Śaktipāt can be classified as:

  • tīvra-tīvra-śaktipāta - the so called "Super Supreme Grace" - produces immediate identity with Śiva and liberation; due to the extreme intensity of this grace the physical body dies; such a being goes on to become a siddha master and bestows grace from his abode (Siddhaloka), directly into the heart of deserving aspirants[6]
  • tīvra-madhya-śaktipāta - "Supreme Medium Grace" - such a being becomes spiritually illuminated and liberated on his own, relying directly on Śiva, not needing initiation or instruction from other exterior guru. This is facilitated by an intense awakening of his spiritual intuition (pratibhā) which immediately eliminates ignorance[6]
  • tīvra-manda-śaktipāta - "Inferior Supreme Grace" - the person who received this grace strongly desires to find an appropriate guru, but he does not need instruction, but a simple touch, a look, simply being in the presence of his master is enough to trigger in him to the state of illumination[6]
  • madhya-tīvra-śaktipāta - "Medium Supreme Grace" - a disciple who receives this grace desires to have the instruction and initiation of a perfect guru; in time he becomes enlightened however he is not totally absorbed into this state during his lifetime and receives a permanent state of fusion with Śiva after the end of his life[7]
  • madhya-madhya-śaktipāta - "Medium Middle Grace" - such a disciple will receive initiation from his guru and have an intense desire to attain liberation, but at the same time he still has desire for various enjoyments and pleasure; after the end of his life, he continues to a paradise where he fulfills all his desires and after that he receives again initiation from his master and realizes permanent union with Śiva[8]
  • madhya-manda-śaktipāta - "Medium Inferior Grace" - is similar to "Medium Middle Grace" except that in this case the aspirant desires worldly pleasures more than union with Śiva; he needs to be reincarnated again as a spiritual seeker to attain liberation[8]
  • manda - "Inferior Grace" - for those who receive this level of grace, the aspiration to be united with Śiva is present only in times of distress and suffering; the grace of Śiva needs to work in them for many lifetimes before spiritual liberation occurs[9]
Type of spiritual grace
When is the moment of liberation?
What one needs in order
to attain liberation?
What is the defining quality
of the recipient?
Super Supreme Grace
nothing exterior, only
the grace of Śiva
capability to abandon duality
Supreme Medium Grace
nothing exterior, only
the grace of Śiva
intuition of nonduality (*)
Inferior Supreme Grace
after meeting a perfect guru
the presence of
a physical guru
total surrender for his guru
Medium Supreme Grace
at the end of life in this physical plane
the initiation
and instruction of a guru
intense spiritual aspiration
Medium Middle Grace
after living for some time in a paradise
the initiation
and instruction of a guru
spiritual aspiration is more intense than worldly desires
Medium Inferior Grace
in the next physical incarnaiton
the initiation
and instruction of a guru
lower aspiration than
worldly desires
Inferior Grace
after many lifetimes of incremental progress
the initiation
and instruction of a guru and lots of time

(*) Abhinavagupta distinguishes here two sublevels:

  • those whose intuition (pratibhā) is firm
  • those whose intuition is hesitant, who need more practice in order to stabilize; they would take a guru, study the scriptures or practice yoga[1]

Modern accounts

  • Author Barbara Brennan in the book Hands of Light describes shaktipat as the actual projection of the guru's "aura" on the disciple, whereby the disciple acquires the same mental state of the guru, hence the importance of the high spiritual level of the guru. The physiological phenomena of a rising kundalini then naturally manifests.
  • Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas was born in Bihar, India. He travelled for thirty years throughout India learning from saints and yogis. In 1921 he met his final master, Shri Yogiraj Parameshwardas, who gave him Shaktipat initiation. He experienced the highest state of samadhi and attained the ultimate goal of God realization. He went to America in 1976 as part of his world-wide mission to help spiritual seekers. During his four years there, he established local groups from coast to coast, and initiated thousands into the path of Kundalini Maha Yoga. He returned to India in 1980 and spent his remaining years in residence in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Shri Dhyanyogi consciously left his physical body after 116 years, entering Maha-samadhi on August 29, 1994, the anniversary of Lord Krishna's birth. A book describing his life-story -- "This House is on Fire" (ISBN 1-883879-50-7) -- was published by Dhyanyoga Center. His current spiritual successor is Shri Anandi Ma who lives in Antioch, California. She carries on her guru's work and does Shaktipat initiation for spiritual seekers.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Abhinavagupta, The Kula Ritual, as Elaborated in Chapter 29 of the Tantrāloka, John R. Dupuche, page 155
  2. Treading the path of non-dualism: Pupil and disciple, [1]
  3. *Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Kundalini Tantra, Yoga Publications Trust (1984), p. 46.
  4. Abhinavagupta, The Kula Ritual, as Elaborated in Chapter 29 of the Tantrāloka, John R. Dupuche, page 154
  5. Abhinavagupta: The Kula Ritual, as Elaborated in Chapter 29 of the Tantrāloka, John R. Dupuche, Page 131
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Swami Lakshman Jee, Page 66
  7. Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Swami Lakshman Jee, Page 67
  8. 8.0 8.1 Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Swami Lakshman Jee, Page 68
  9. Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Swami Lakshman Jee, Page 69

ja:シャクティーパット pt:Shaktipat ru:Шактипат

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