The wisdom of the Mahavidyas, the ten wisdom goddesses who represent the interconnected darkness and light within all of us, has been steeped in esoteric and mystical descriptions that made them seem irrelevant to ordinary life. But with this book, written by a respected cardiologist who found herself on a spiritual search for the highest truth, you’re invited to explore this ancient knowledge and learn how it can be applied to daily struggles and triumphs—and how it can help you find unreserved self-love and acceptance.
The pursuit of contentment is an innate part of the human experience, arising from a fundamental sense of lack or inadequacy—all the things we believe to be wrong with us when we compare or judge ourselves. In our search for peace and happiness, we may find ourselves fighting the shadows within us, trying to repress or disown certain qualities, especially our anger, violence, discomfort, craving, and disappointment. But in order to stop this fight, we must expand our understanding beyond the dualities of good versus bad, right versus wrong, and beautiful versus ugly, and accept the parts of ourselves we’ve tried to deny.
Pulling from Eastern traditions including tantra and yoga, and focusing on the feminine principle of divine energy also known as Shakti, this book bridges the divide between dualistic concepts and non-dual philosophy. By exploring the symbolism of the Mahavidyas (Kali, Tara, Tripurasundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Tripura Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Baglamukhi, Matangi, and Kamalatmika)—each with a veiled face representing a destructive quality that perpetuates ignorance and suffering, and a true face representing the wisdom that stimulates profound transformation and liberation—you’ll learn to embrace and incorporate every aspect of who you are.
With practices, self-inquiry prompts, and stories from the author’s own spiritual seeking, this exploration of the divine feminine will gently reveal the source of your fear, pain, and suffering, showing you that when you allow those parts of yourself to arise and simply be, you can finally begin to heal, overcome your limitations, and open to the light and beauty of your true nature.
Foreword 1. The Hidden Path 2. The Path of the Divine Feminine 3. Kali 4. Tara 5. Tripura Sundari 6. Bhuvaneshwari 7. Tripura Bhairavi 8. Chinnamasta 9. Dhumavati 10. Bagalamukhi 11. Matangi 12. Kamalatmika 13. The Dynamic Shakti in Our Life Acknowledgments Resources Notes Glossary of Sanskrit Terms Bibliography
Kavitha M. Chinnaiyan, MD, became drawn to the Direct Path through the teachings of Greg Goode and Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon. She has studied yoga, Sri Vidya Sadhana, Vedanta, and tantra through Chinmaya Mission and the teachings of Sri Premananda, Sally Kempton, and Paul Muller-Ortega. Chinnaiyan blends her expertise in cardiology with her knowledge of Ayurveda, yoga, Vedanta, tantra, and the Direct Path in her program for patients to discover bliss amid chronic illness. She is an integrative cardiologist at Beaumont Health System, and associate professor of medicine at Oakland University Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, MI.
Foreword writer Greg Goode is known for a unique combination of penetrating insight, comfort with both Eastern and Western sources, and a down-to-earth sense of humor. He is author of Standing as Awareness, The Direct Path, and After Awareness, and coauthor of Emptiness and Joyful Freedom. He became drawn to self-inquiry through the work of Brand Blanshard, George Berkeley, the Chinmaya Mission, and the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam. Goode is a member of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association (APPA). He lives in New York City.
“Shakti Rising exposes in a deep way the practices of the Mahavidyas as an ensemble to arouse and balance the energy of the Shakti in us. Kavitha Chinnaiyan underlines the constant cosmic play of the ten goddesses as if they were dancing in our unconscious, to unify and bring out the balance between light and darkness. This guide of self-discovery, based on a profound comprehension of yoga, Advaita, and tantra, is also very practical, and the exercises proposed are efficient. The images of the Mahavidyas will make the primal energy of the Shakti shine and manifest in front of your eyes. The reading itself is a sadhana. A precious book!” —Daniel Odier, author of Tantric Kali, Tantric Quest, and Desire: The Tantric Path to Awakening
“Kavitha Chinnaiyan is a gifted and insightful scholar-practitioner. Her book is original, practical, and rooted in her deep understanding of the yoga and tantric traditions. Kavitha brings new wisdom to the mystery of the Mahavidyas, the feminine energies of transformation. Highly recommended.” —Sally Kempton, author of Awakening Shakti
“A remarkable journey along a path whose pavestones are the ten Mahavidyas, the creative forces of existence that are energetic doorways to either suffering or freedom. Read Shakti Rising in order to understand how the swirling energies of life have meaning for you, how you may transform their shadow qualities into light qualities, and how to go beyond and see that what you truly are is awareness itself. You will emerge from this reading as you unwittingly entered: free and joyous.” —Jerry Katz, editor of One: Essential Writings on Nonduality, and founder of www.nonduality.org
“Finally, and just in time, we are waking up to the vital need to honor the deep feminine. Kavitha’s wise writing on the great wisdom goddesses shows how to respect and understand the feminine powers of life that have been maligned and suppressed for so long. Her timely book is the perfect interweaving of goddess awareness within a structure of practices that deepen wisdom and help us to live a fuller, deeper life, embracing feminine consciousness through the ten great wisdom goddesses. Read this book, and awaken to the power of the feminine resurgence in your life.” —Uma Dinsmore-Tuli, author of Yoni Shakti
“With the charming combination of personal insights gained through ardent spiritual practice, research, and study, Kavitha brings the Mahavidyas to life, where they become portals to inner beauty, joy, and fulfillment. I recommend Shakti Rising highly.” —Shri Param Eswaran, father of ParaTan Inner Sakthi Yoga, and founder of the Mahavidya Temple in Tamil Nadu, India, and Mahavidya Inner Health in Seremban, Malaysia
“This book is filled with marvelous paradoxes—it unites both progressive and direct spiritual paths, and although rooted in rich and arcane Vedic imagery, it remains perfectly accessible and simple to apply. Above all, Kavitha has somehow captured the quintessence of a timeless wisdom and brought it down from the mountaintops for us all to learn from. I bow to both the author and the teaching.” —Richard Rudd, author of Gene Keys, and founder of www.genekeys.com
“With the deft use of everyday examples that all readers can relate to, and an engaging, conversational writing style, Kavitha Chinnaiyan brings the Mahavidyas down from their lofty mystical perches so that they may tease our imaginations, sport with us, inspire us, and eventually lead us from the shadows to the light. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever wished to delve deeper into the subject, and of course, for anyone seeking to access and unlock the divine energy that resides within all of us.” —Roopa Pai, author of the award-winning The Gita: For Children
“Shakti Rising is my favorite kind of book. In our overly busy, twenty-first-century lifestyles, many of us ‘seekers’ find ourselves with more desire than time to explore topics that pique our interest. Through her extensive breadth of knowledge, practice, and experience, Kavitha distills the Mahavidyas in an extremely digestible way for those of us who might fantasize about becoming renunciates, but have unavoidable things like jobs, families, bills, and responsibilities to tend to, to create a useful work we can integrate into daily spiritual practice and inquiry.” —Elizabeth DiAlto, author of Untame Yourself, and host of the Untame the Wild Soul podcast
“In Shakti Rising, Kavitha Chinnaiyan presents an in-depth look at the Mahavidyas, ten aspects of the divine mother. Although there are a few books in English out there on this subject, she gives a deeper meaning to each goddess, which has helped me gain more clarity on their aspects. I really liked the practical meditations, creating a deeper and personal connection to the dark and light side of the goddess. I look forward to using this book with my students.” —Mavis Gewant, sacred artist