Please understand from the outset that I am a Westerner who is very new to the idea of bringing Hindu precepts into my life formally, so anything foolish or ignorant I say should be taken with that in mind. So here are my thoughts as briefly as I can state them (I apologize in advance for the length of this post but I want to give some explanation before my question):

I have been very attracted to the idea of Kali Ma for as long as I've known about her, ie. from childhood. Recently however, I had to undergo surgery and knew I needed to face the idea of my mortality in a more honest way, not running from it as Westerners tend to. I knew I must learn meditation and open myself to reality. My first thought was to just take meditation and yoga classes - again, as Westerners tend to - but knew I would be more elevated if I were to approach reality with genuine spirituality rather than mere "exercise", and Hinduism is of course the root and source of this spirituality.

So with a lot of excitement but very heedlessly and without formal instruction, I began acquiring devotional objects and researching ways to practice devotional life. I was amazed very quickly to find that there seems to be as much diversity of opinion as there are believers, which I guess won't surprise anyone here. Every viewpoint from "you must follow the traditional ways under the guidance of a guru" to "anything goes as long as you are genuinely devoted" is available, as well as a wealth of material on Shakta and Tantrik beliefs and practice.

I have already spent a lot of time researching my questions and have come up empty, so am turning to this obviously helpful forum, so here we go:

  • Is it necessary to do puja with shivling and honor Shiva in order to develop as a Shakta? Or should it perhaps be avoided?

  • Is there any reason to worship multiple forms of Devi, such as Kali, Lalita, Durga, Bhairavi etc, or should it perhaps be avoided? I find myself deeply attracted to many of Her forms including Shri Yantra, as they represent different aspects of Her power and grace.

  • I have seen it said that bhakti alone is sufficient to earn some grace from Devi and does not require a guru and diksha, but that puja DOES require initiation. Does this sound correct?

I want to apologize again, this is a long post and contains a few questions, but they are all interrelated and sum up my big overarching issue in one package. Thank you very much in advance for any thoughts.

  • welcome! I would recommend you to limit your question to just one rather than two, three etc.
    – Rajam
    Jul 10 at 19:10
  • Read Kauarnava Tantra. You'll get all the answer. The idea is complete surrender to one's ishta. On complete surrender, ishta alone will pave the path to Guru. Once one receives the grace of Guru after peer observation from both party as described in Kaularnava, one must surrender themselves completely to Guru and follow him blindly. Shakta mArga is like a fire, one should be mentally prepared before jumping into it.
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Jul 11 at 6:21
  • Thanks to all who have responded, I know I asked for a lot in this post. I have found an English translation of Kularnava Tantra, as well a commentary on it.
    – emspace
    Jul 11 at 16:17
  • @emspace Yoga & Meditation is not mere exercises for body and mind. It is deeply spiritual. Follow Ashtang yoga (Eight limbs of yoga) It will accelerate your spiritual journey. Since you are attracted to Sri Yantra and Goddess, start with Lalita Sahasranama as beginning of your journey. Search Lalita Sahasranama on youtube and listen it daily so will start having bhakti for the goddess. Lalita Sahasranama is recitation of 1000 names of goddess . Here is a wikipedia page en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lalita_Sahasranama
    – parag
    Jul 14 at 12:54
  • @parag, thanks very much for your advice on Lalita Sahasranama! But I want to say that I only referred to the way yoga and meditation are taught in the West, where teachers make a point of avoiding any "taint" of spirituality. There is even a famous rapper who just went to prison for selling 100 kilos of cocaine, who is a "yoga practitioner" with a famous teacher in New York City. Yoga and meditation as presented here is sanitized and packaged like any exercise program, I was in no way referring to genuine yoga and meditation.
    – emspace
    Jul 15 at 14:11


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