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There are many different sects in Hinduism,like Vaishnavism,Shaivaism and Shaktism.Some sects,like Vaishnavism and Shaivaism,have different branches like Gaudiya Vaishnavism,which glorifies Krishna and not Vishnu as the supreme lord, and Pasupata Shaivaism,which is the oldest school of Shaivaism which is followed by ascetics.Are there any branches/schools of Shaktism as well?

3 Answers 3

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One of the major Tantrik scripture is called the VishnukrAntA. It has within itself several other major Tantik scriptures like Nila Tantram, Niruttara Tantram and many others.

Now, AFAIK, it's only in the Niruttara Tantram, that the Shakti Deities are classified into two groups- Sri Kula and KAli Kula.

Here are the relevant verses:

KAli tArA raktakAli bhuvana mahishamardini |
TriputA tvaritA durgA vidyA prtyangirA tathA ||
KAlikulam smakhyAtam sri kulam cha parama |
Sundari bhairavi bAlA bagala kamalApi cha ||
DhumAvati cha mAtangi vidyA swapnAvati priye |
Madhumati mahAvidyA sri kulam paribhAshitam ||

..............

The ten Goddesses famous as being belonging to the KAli Kula (the family or group of KAli) are- KAli, TArA, RaktakAli, Bhuvaneswari, Mahishamardini, TriputA, TvaritA, DurgA, VidyA and PratyangirA. And the ten Goddesses who belong to the Sri Kula are- [TripurA] Sundari, [TripurA] Bhairavi, BAla [Tripura Sundari], Bagalamukhi, KamalA, DhumAvati, MAtangi, SwapnAvati, Madhumati and MahAvidya.

Niruttara Tantram Patala 1, Verses 6-8.

So, based on this there emerged two different sects. In the KAli Kula, the principle Deities are KAli, TArA, DurgA etc whereas in the Sri Kula they are Goddess LalitA, TripurA Bhairavi, BAlA TripurA Sundari etc.

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  • Whoa are RaktakAli, TriputA, TvaritA, KamalA, SwapnAvati, Madhumati and MahAvidya? Given that they are famous, they must have at least one back story each, right?
    – user4627
    Aug 11, 2017 at 10:33
  • Raktakali, Rakshakali Dakshinakali are slight variations of Goddess Kali. Triputa, Tvarita are mentioned in some other Agamas too. But they are not that well known like few of the others. Kamala is the 10th mahavidya. She is also called the Tantrik Lakshmi. I don't think i have found any other references of Swapnavati etc apart from that in the given verses. Yes, all the 10 mahavidyas have respective stories of manifestations, arrival tithis etc. I am planning to post a Q-A on this topic but i could manage it till now..@KVickneshvara
    – Rickross
    Aug 11, 2017 at 17:12
  • @KVickneshvara I have answered about Goddess Bagalamukhi here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/19333/who-is-bagalamukhi/…
    – Rickross
    Aug 12, 2017 at 5:22
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According to Wikipedia, Shaktism or Shaktidharma (Sanskrit: Śāktaṃ, शाक्तं; lit., "doctrine of power" or "doctrine of the Goddess") is a denomination of Hinduism that focuses worship upon Shakti or Devi – as the absolute, ultimate Godhead. Its two largest and most visible schools are :

1.Srikula (family of Sri), strongest in South India, the Srikula's best-known school is Srividya
The Srikula tradition (sampradaya) focuses worship on Devi in the form of the goddess Lalita-Tripura Sundari

2.Kalikula (family of Kali), which prevails in northern and eastern India. The main deities of Kalikula are Kali, Chandi and Durga.

The major difference between these two is Srividya largely views the Goddess as "benign [saumya] and beautiful [saundarya]" While in Kalikula's focus on "terrifying [ugra] and horrifying [ghora]" goddess forms such as Kali or Durga.

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  • 1
    Thank you!However,could you give some examples of the "a nearly endless variety of beliefs and practices" as well?
    – user4627
    Sep 4, 2016 at 5:43
  • 2
    @KVickneshvara This answer is more or less correct.However many feels worship of Lalita mahatripurasundari is the supreme sadhana as all Gods are worshipped thereby.One can't worship Srichakra without worshipping the Pancha Devatas (Ganapaty,Shiva,Vishnu,Ambika and Surya) as they are like guarding deities.In Kali Kula Sri Durga is the supreme deity.
    – Rickross
    Sep 4, 2016 at 5:55
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    @KVickneshvara to be honest, I had no idea about the endless practices etc. I just copy-pasted the info from Wikipedia. Also, I could not found any ref. to such thing on internet. Hence I am editing that part of my post! Sep 5, 2016 at 3:55
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    You're encouraged to cite some scriptural sources also instead only wikipedia.
    – Pandya
    Sep 6, 2016 at 11:07
  • @Pandya Yes, I am aware of that. Its just that I could not found any for this case...and not sure if scriptures can say how many branches are there for Shaktism Sep 6, 2016 at 11:29
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Now to get into Shaktism is highly complicated.
Let's start from base and then climb to the apex.
There are only 2 ways to enter Shaktism, (as Bhakti has no seperate branch as in Vaishnavism)
1. Yog
2. Kriya

1. Yogic way- This path is devoid of any rituals or has minimal rituals. The whole concept here deals with realising Bhagwati with yog. It has two paths, Hatha yoga- The person be in a particular vow or position and realize devi & second Gyan Yoga- Know devi after cutting off from world and engross in tapa.

2. Kriya- This path involes extensive rituals. Thus called as Kriya. It has two ways again-
1. Vedic
2. Tantric

1. Vedic - The vedic acharans are more linked with gentle forms of Bhagwati Mahamaya. Various mantras are used from Suktams, and Upanishads etc. Actually idk much about vedic shakas. The sadhakas here ar called Vedacharis.

2. Tantra - The tantric branch is highly complex. And majority of Shaktas prefer tantric diksha.

So, tantra has again 5 major branches to deal wid-
A. Dakshinachar- This is the right hand path where Sauch (purity) is of utmost importance. Originally only those with Yagnopavit(Janeu/upnayan) are allowed into Dakshinachar. This is the most gentle achar of Shaktism.
B. Vamachar- The school of left handed path. Here panch makars r used thus being antagonist to Dakshinachar.
C. Samyachar- To say Samayachar has both the components from Vama and Dakshina marg. Samayacharis focus on internal worship just like yogic paths. Yet, since rituals too are important to them thus clubed under Kriya.
D. Kaulachar- This is a step ahead version of Vamachar.
E. Chinnachar- Extremely rare marg to see today. This achar is exclusively dedicated to Chinnamasta.

(Let's not forget, Aghori, Kapaliks too have their ways to worship devi but mostly they are Shaiva. Thus didn't mentioned them here in list)

Futher now there are various paths depending on the isht a person wants. I will write as far as I know.

a.Vajrakula - This kula focuses on Tara the 2nd Mahavidya. Buddhism is fully flegged in Vajrakula. Whereas Hinduism has only a very little knowledge on Vajrakula or Tarakula. As, Hindu Vajrakulas only worship 8 murtis of Tara, while Vajrakula has all 28 forms of Tara with them.
b. Chinnachar - Thou it's an āchar yet, since it is exclusive to Chinnamasta, hence once again mentioned it.
c. Dhaumrakula- This deals with Dhumavati devi as the primary deity.
d. Kubjika kula- The esoteric devi Kubjika is the Adhishthatri of this Kula.
e. Kulesvari - This kula is most likely extinct by now.
f. Durgakula - This included Durga devi or Jaggadhatri as primordial deity. Now, it has merged into Kalikula.
g. Matrika Kula - This kula deals with 7/8/9 matrikas. Although now this too has merged into Kalikula.
h. Kalikula- Here the supreme devi is Mahakali. This is the school of Mahakali. Since now other kulas (Vajra, Chinna, Dhaumra, etc)are dwindling up, Kalikula now includes upasana padhati of Tara, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Baglamukhi amongst 10 mahavidyas. Thus distributing remaining 5 to Srikula.
i. Sri kula - This marg is completly dedicated to Lalitamba. Other major deities include Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi (she is Bala herself), Matangi & Kamala.

There are many such schools or branches. To say precisely, each Mahavidya had once their own Kulas which are now lost. Even Laxmi devi and Saraswati too had their own Kulas. Which too have been merged into Sri & Kali kula.
It's sad to see how Kulesvari and Kubjika cults were lost from normal masses. Now Vajrakula too have dried up. And recently Chinnachar is under threat. Since, Chinnachar needs sadhaka of finest orders as the path of Chinnamasta is no calk walk. Thus the sadhakas of Chinnachar are seen in very remotely areas around Assam or interiors of Bengal.

But, to the best the practices from any āchar or Kula must never be leaked to any wrong person.

Incase anyone wanna be a Shakta, 1st step is figure up your isht devi, ​2nd think you what you want the Yog or kriya path? 3rd ask Gyana or Hatha in yog, or choose Vedic or Tantric if opted for Kriya! 4th if selected Tantric, which Āchar does your heart asks for. And thus you will fall in the best category to reach Paramba. Although all roads lead to Bhagwati but yet, everyone has to embark their own journey on their own selected paths.

(Ps- I think there was no need to cite referances here, as these are basic names of Kulas or branches of Shaktism.)

कालिकार्पणमास्तु ।🌺

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