The Divine Couple Shiva – Shakti
In the Tantric cosmology, the whole universe is perceived as being created, penetrated and sustained by two fundamental forces, which are permanently in a perfect, indestructible union. These forces or universal aspects are called Shiva and Shakti.
The tradition has associated to these principles a form, respectively that of a masculine deity and that of a feminine one. Accordingly, Shiva represents the constitutive elements of the universe, while Shakti is the dynamic potency, which makes these elements come to life and act.
From a metaphysical point of view, the divine couple Shiva-Shakti corresponds to two essential aspects of the One: the masculine principle, which represents the abiding aspect of God, and the feminine principle, which represents Its Energy, the Force which acts in the manifested world, life itself considered at a cosmic level.
From this point of view, Shakti represents the immanent aspect of the Divine, that is the act of active participation in the act of creation. Maybe exactly this Tantric view of the Feminine in creation contributed to the orientation of the human being towards the active principles of the universe, rather than towards those of pure transcendence.
Therefore, Shiva defines the traits specific to pure transcendence and is normally associated, from this point of view, to a manifestation of Shakti who is somewhat terrible (such as Kali and Durga), personification of Her own untamed and limitless manifestation.
Owing to the fact that in a way, Shakti is more accessible to the human understanding (because this regards aspects of life that are closely related to the human condition inside the creation), the cult of the Goddess (Devi) has spread more forcibly.
This cult was combined with notions of the Shamkhya philosophy and has offered the premises necessary to the later Maya doctrine, formulated by the sage Shankaracharya.
This possibility of combining, of interpenetration of two or more notions belonging to two or more spiritual systems is due to the fact that the Hindu philosophical systems are not isolated, closed systems, but complex and manageable doctrines, which may adjust and may be understood from different perspectives.