Shakti is an important Sanskrit term that has several levels of meaning that are essential for understanding how the forces of the universe work from a biological to a cosmic level,  relative to the totality of life and existence.

By Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)

Shakti in essence means power, energy or potency. Most specifically, Shakti refers to ruling or executive power, the power of guidance and decision making. Shakti is most commonly known in the West for its connection to feminine energy as the creative and transformative powers of Mother Nature and Mother Earth overall. We can say that Shakti is the basis of the special powers inherent in nature, but including the powers of the Self-nature, Atma-Shakti, not just the world nature or Prakriti Shakti.

There are many healing powers or Shakis in nature relative the qualities and properties and energies that make up the various forces, objects and entities in nature, including in realms  or lokas beyond the physical, extending to the Transcendent.

Shaktis as Powers of Nature

In this article we will introduce and explore the place of the Shaktis of Nature in Ayurvedic Healing. This will provide a new way of looking at Ayurveda, health, disease, and various types of treatment starting with diet and herbs.

To get anything done properly we need the right empowerment, preparation or capacity to apply the necessary forces to achieve the aimed at result. We need to be able to recognize and apply the right Shakti as per the particular condition or situation involve, which may be changing. The general rule is  that we apply the necessary force to counter imbalances and promote positive change.

In the broader sense of the forces of nature, Shakti refers to the unique or primary power that an object or force inherently possesses. For example, fire has the power to burn or Dahana Shakti, which has various usages, good or bad from cooking food to burning down a house. Water has the complementary power to moisten or Kledana Shakti, which has hydrating and nutritive powers, but can also drown us.

For healing to occur we need to energize the right healing Shakti as per the condition to counter or balance the disease causing energy, entropy or wrong judgment. Mother Nature has many healing Shaktis in the five elements, the powers of the sky and atmosphere, minerals, plants, herbs and foods, as well as in the mountains, rivers and forests. Yet everything in nature rightly used has a power or healing, but wrongly used can cause harm, just as in the case of fire.

Shaktis in Ayurveda for Body and Mind

Foods have their own properties to provide nutrition or Anna Shakti. Herbs have their own energetics or Oshadhi Shakti. For example, spicy herbs like ginger, cinnamon, sage or tulsi have a diaphoretic or sweat-inducing effect, which is Svedana Shakti, making them useful in sweating therapies in Ayurveda, particularly good for countering Kapha dosha. Oils like sesame, coconut, mustard and castor have a Snehana Shakti, a power of oleation, making them the key substances used in oil applications starting with oil massage, particularly good for countering Vata dosha.

Ayurvedic herbal energetics of taste (rasa), heating affects (virya) and special actions (prabhava) are types of Shakti at an herbal level. Prabhava or special potency is perhaps the most important Shakti of herbs. For example, certain special herbs have unique powers of Rejuvenation or Rasayana Shakti, like ashwagandha, shatavari, bala, amalaki, haritaki, shilajit, brahmi or the notable formula Chyavan Prash. They aid in the deepest level of healing and revitalization.

Yet Shaktis also exist at a subtle level and have been highlighted in Yoga texts and in Ayurvedic psychology, particularly through the power of mantra. The power of Yogic action and transformation, or Kriya Shakti, is connected to the seed mantra Kreem and Ma Kali. The power of attraction and devotion, or Aakarshana Shakti relates to the seed mantra Kleem and Tripura Sundari Devi. Such seed mantras have the power to change the energies and heal the mind and emotions.

Meditation has its own power or Dhyana Shakti, which arises through the power of concentration or Dharana Shakti. These are wakened by steady practice, detachment and turning the mind within in. Without these inner Shaktis meditation is just distraction or wishful thinking.

Healing Shakti of the Healer 

Yet, the healer must have an inner power of healing to really help others achieve lasting wellbeing. This begins with Prana Shakti or vital energy, notably a connection with the inner unitary cosmic Prana. Prana Shakti is developed through Pranayama and natural living overall. It also gives the power or Shakti of therapeutic touch.

Very important also is Ojas or the power of both physical and psychological immunity, Kshamatva Shakti, including patience and calm. Most significant is Prajna Shakti or the power of wisdom and experiential knowledge, arising from a Sattvic Buddhi necessary for right diagnosis and treatment and proper guidance.

In short, there is an entire Vedic science of healing powers or healing Shaktis within us and in the world of nature around us that we need to learn to be able to truly facilitate deep healing and know what healing substances and attitudes to employ.

These healing Shaktis are all gifts of Mother Nature (Prakriti) extending back to the Supreme Shakti or power of Consciousness (Chit-Shakti) that is the ultimate power of the Universal Mother, Parashakti.

This article first appeared in and it belongs to them.