THE CONCEPT OF ‘ARDHNARISHWARA’
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 universal aspects are ‘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, Bhagwan Shiva represents the constitutive elements of the universe, while Shakti is the dynamic potency, which makes these elements come to life and act. 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 and life itself. As set out in the first line of Adi Shankara’s renowned Shakta hymn, Saundaryalahari (c. 800 CE): “If Shiva is united with Shakti, he is able to create. If he is not, he is incapable even of stirring.”
This is emphasized in the widely known image of the goddess Kali striding atop the seemingly lifeless body of Shiva. Shakti is considered to be the cosmos itself – she is the embodiment of energy and dynamism, and the motivating force behind all action and existence in the material universe. Shiva is her transcendent masculine aspect, providing the divine ground of all being. So The concept of Ardhnarishwara clearly brings out the fact that “There is no Shiva without Shakti, or Shakti without Shiva. The two in themselves are One”. Source: Shivshakti