Creative force, designated Shakti, is inherent in Brahman. Shakti is the dynamic power, but Shaktiman is the wielder of that power and Her names are legion. Parashakti, Mahashakti, Mahamaya — these names are most worthy of worship, invite all praise and verily shout “Victory!” The Mahashakti gets Her work accomplished by four main sub-shaktis. These four shaktis — Her will, wisdom, spontaneity and activity — are one with the Divine Mother like vibration is one with music.
Iccha shakti is Mother’s powerful will that determines what Her creation will consist of in any given age (yuga or Mahayuga), in what sequence all occurrences that are to take place will manifest, and how embodiment will take place. All of this is to be seen in terms of both the physical universe which we experience with our senses, and of other worlds less changeful than ours in which Her fixed powers, lovingly known as the gods and goddesses, reside.
Jnana shakti, Mother’s wisdom force, contains and implements all subtle powers for manifestation. As intelligence, this shakti extends to the highest and deepest regions and permeates them all. In her is vested the power for revealing the Four Manifestations of the Word — Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari — stages wherein pure conscious Awareness lends Itself to gradual degrees of expression ending in the creation of the physical universe. She is Mother’s force of truth and meaning and symbolizes all that is, was or will ever be.
Kriya shakti pours life-force into the gross and subtle creations, permeating all worlds and realms with vitalizing power. She is the breath of the Mahashakti. Not only is she responsible for the activating force, she also acts in and through that which she animates. In short, the doings of all living beings proceed through her impetus. In her purest condition, she is the free expression of effortless and spontaneous design in action, totally unencumbered. When interacting with Jnana shakti at the highest level, insightful realizations spring forth. She awakens and reveals the presence of genius and drives everything to its innermost potential.
Dravya shakti, known as the producer of substances, manifests the five elements and distributes them proportionally throughout the vast creation. In her role as producer, she helps mold the nether worlds and heavenly realms as well, interlacing them together with gross and subtle substances. Thus, the solid foundation of the universe, as well as the etheric nature of the lokas, are all due to her presence and activities. At the time of dissolution, pralaya, she assists in the breakdown of all insentient principles, dissolving forms entirely.