About the Shakti Initiative

The Shakti Initiative is an online clearinghouse showcasing Hindu teachings about and by women, the contributions of Hindu women throughout history, and the role both women and men play in bringing to fruition solutions that are grounded in Hindu teachings to address critical contemporary issues.

Hindus understand the Divine to be both masculine and feminine, as well as neither. Divine energy, shakti, manifests and is worshiped as the Goddess(es) and is seen to be complementary and not in competition with divine masculine powers which manifest as God(s). These magnificent, awe-inspiring feminine manifestations — at once fierce and compassionate, scary and loving, and powerful and gentle — work hand in hand with their equally awe-inspiring male consorts towards upholding dharma (cosmic order), demonstrating for us mere mortals the ideal and strength of symbiotic existence.

In the material realm, the individual soul is eternal and genderless, but when manifested in human form, it takes on in varying degrees both feminine and masculine characteristics. One oft recited prayer reminds us of where the Divine can be honored in our daily lives in our mother and our father: Matru devo bhava pitru devo bhava.

Whether mundane or ethereal, internal or societal, when both the feminine and masculine principles are in balance, we all share in the potential of functioning as a blissful whole.

Contributors

The Shakti Initiative would not be possible without an amazing team of passionate and talented writers. HAF is indebted to their tireless efforts, meticulous research, careful editing, and beautiful prose. While opinion pieces are attributed to the author, the remaining content were written by anyone of the following writers.

  • Kavita Pallod
  • Priya Pandit
  • Shuvi Jha
  • Sweta Maheshwari
  • Shweta Maruwada
  • Mat McDermott
  • Suhag Shukla

If you’d like to contribute or nominate a Hindu woman of note for our team of writers, please email shakti@hafsite.org.

Shakti Initiative Articles

Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2017

Hinduism 101: Women and Hinduism

One of the most profound attributes of Hinduism is the recognition and worship of God as feminine. In fact, Hinduism is the only major religion that has always worshipped God…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2017

In Search Of The Menstruating Goddess

This piece is republished with express permission of the author. It originally appeared on mythrispeaks.wordpress.com. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author, and not necessarily…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2017

Kali: The Demon Slaying Mother Goddess

Kali, also known as Adi Shakti and the Divine Mother, is a Hindu Goddess first mentioned in the Atharva Veda, in the Kathaka Grhya Sutra. She is a form of…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2017

Lakshmi: Goddess of Prosperity

The Goddess of Prosperity, Lakshmi, inspires much devotion. There are many accounts of her creation, but the most popular is one found in the Rāmāyanā (though there are older accounts…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2017

Meerabai

Sweta Maheshwari Meera, also known as Meera Bai or Mirabai, is a celebrated saint, well known for her extensive devotional poetry and songs dedicated to Krishna. Although she was born…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2017

Menstrual taboos and ancient wisdom

This piece is republished with express permission of the author. It originally appeared on mythrispeaks.wordpress.com. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author, and not necessarily…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2017

Remember the Goddess Within Us

An ad campaign by an Indian non-profit advocacy group for women and children called Save the Children India (not to be confused with the other Save the Children founded in…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2017

Rādhā: The Queen of Worship

According to Vaishnava theology, God is neither male nor female. Rather, God can both transcend the two or be a mixture — an entity who possess both masculine and feminine…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2016

Saraswati: A Wealth of Knowledge

Saraswati is a Goddess known for knowledge, learning, and purity. Many stories differ from where she emerged, either from Brahma’s mouth or head. She appears in the Rig Veda, the…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2016

Sita: Nature in its Feminine Form

I would try to understand the personality of Sita in this paper, as she lived and conducted herself in the remote past, on her own terms, by her own rules.…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2015

Suhag Shukla’s BAPS Women’s Conference Keynote Speech

What an honor it is to be here today. Thank you Ami for your warm welcome and guidance, and to every sister who has worked tirelessly to bring this event…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2015

Vedic Teachings About Womanhood

Education, Wisdom and Knowledge On the state of womanhood, the Vedas, a collection of ancient Sanskrit hymns and chants through which the vid, or wisdom, of the ancient sages can…
Shakti Initiative
December 6, 2015

The Vedic Woman: Who Was She and Why We Need Her Back

To stay abreast of the ins and outs of the Hindu world, I subscribe to a news service called Hindu Press International or HPI. HPI sends out daily digests of…
Shakti Initiative
November 6, 2015

Unearthing menstrual wisdom: Why we don’t go to the temple, and other practices

This piece is republished with express permission of the author. It originally appeared on mythrispeaks.wordpress.com. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author, and not necessarily…
Shakti Initiative
October 6, 2015

The Sabarimala Story: Can visiting temples affect menstruating women?

This piece is republished with express permission of the author. It originally appeared on mythrispeaks.wordpress.com. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author, and not necessarily…

About the Artist

“Shiva-Shakti”

The Hero Image for the Shakti Initiative is an original work by artist, Chandni Mishra. Chandni has a Bachelor’s in Technology and an MBA, but has left the grind of her old 9 to 5 to pursue her passion, art, full-time.

Chandni chose Shiva-Shakti as a subject for various reasons. Here’s what she shared:

“If we think in totality, Ardhanareshwar is the purest representation of all the energy forms. It is complete in its own self.No other subject could depict the complete nature of any being. It is a perfect example which depicts the equality of both the genders. It depicts how lord shiva submerged shakti in himself to make her feel what he feels in samaadhi yet he didn’t take away the true form of the goddess. They have separate identities, still they are one. What could be more beautiful?

Moreover, I am always intrigued by the beauty the Hindu gods hold, be it the way they tie their hair, their weapons, their props, their skin, their posture or their demeanour . There is a burst of energy from each and everything they possess and whatever they do.”

Chandni is a self taught artist. She discovered her fondness for sketching at the tender age of 10. She was immediately drawn to sketching Hindu Gods and Goddesses as she found them to be the most aesthetic subjects for her art. As she got older, she tried her hands in all kinds of education and jobs, but still felt art was the only avenue to correctly channel her passion and energies. Her sister was instrumental in reminding Chandni of her innate talent and encouraging her to leave days of depression resulting from feeling stuck in a 9 to 5. So started Chandni’s journey in this field. She knows nothing will make her happier in life than pursuing what she is meant to pursue.

To view more of Chandni’s work visit: https://www.facebook.com/Paintopedia-By-Chandni-195332641216139/