Updated: Jun 17, 2020
English language hardly has any vocabulary for Subtler and Causal Dimensions/planes of existence. Hence, we face this challenge while Translating. Power/Energy are gross/physical, Shakti is not.
First of all, let's understand why so many Sanskrit/Hindi spiritual "terms" cannot be translated into the English language? Why do we have Sanskrit Non-Translatable Terms?
The Answer to the above questions is that - English language hardly has any vocabulary for Subtler and Causal Dimensions/planes of existence. Hence, we face this challenge while Translating. Approximate/rough division of the Gross, Subtle and Causal can be as below and it changes when you are looking from different perspectives and for different purposes:
GROSS – This includes Physical Body, Mind, Thoughts, Emotions
SUBTLE – This includes Prana, Pranamaya Kosha, Vigyanmaya Kosha, Anandamaya Kosha and many more
CAUSAL – Atman, Brahman, Adi Shakti or Shakti, Shiva and their many forms Also “Words” are for Physical/Gross dimension and they can be translated. Means a word can have a meaning. But Subtle & Causal dimensions requires Interpretation and have “Terms”. Terms can be interpreted, explained but cannot have direct/one-to-one translation. The “definition” of the English word “Subtle” itself is where the “difficulty, inability” of the English language starts from.
SHAKTI IS NOT POWER or ENERGY
Shakti is a Sanskrit Non-Translatable Term.
Power and Energy both belong to the Gross/Physical plane/dimension of existence. Shakti is Causal. Without Shakti, nothing will manifest from the Brahman or Shiva. Brahman or Shiva moves through Shakti. Shakti is the Dynamic Source through which entire creation manifests.
Due to the Dynamic Force that Shakti is, Power, Energy can be felt, can be perceived. Hence Shakti is the “causal” factor for Power or Energy to exist and to be experienced, then how can they be same. It’s like saying Mother is her own Child as well. Yes, ultimately everything is Shakti and there are many dimensions of Shakti, many planes of existence of Shakti. But the Causal/Cause and the Manifestation are not one and the same. Creator and Creation are not One and the same. If they were same then they can be substituted. Means if there is no Guru to Initiate you, Transmit Shakti to you, then you can put your finger in the Electricity Plug point and can electrocute yourself. This is if you look at Power and Energy as if in Electricity or Electro-Magnetic form or Cosmic Energy.
Another way to look at Power is as in “Feeling Powerful” in the body, or mind. Shakti is also “not” this feeling of Power. Because the feeling of Power is perceived by the Gross/Physical part of you. Shakti’s after effect can be felt at the level of Gross/Physical dimension but that itself cannot be equated with the “Causal” factor that Shakti is. In other words, “Ice” can give you a “feeling of freeze/extreme cold”, but Ice and Extreme Cold are not one and the same thing, because even a Viral Fever can give you cold shivering in the hot summer month. So, in a nutshell, “causal” cannot be replaced or substituted with “gross”. Not only that Shakti is Alive, but Shakti is also the Cause of Life. While Power and Energy are “non-living”, Gross/Physical and are not the “Cause of Life” itself.
During Shaktipath, Shakti is Transmitted by the Guru and that means “Causal” Dimension is super-imposed once again to your Subtle dimension, to help you evolve spiritually. Due to Vasanas/Sanskaras/Chitta-Vritti/Karma, our Subtle Dimension which is the Reflection of the Causal Dimension gets some blockages and by Initiating you with Shakti, by igniting the Causal Fire again in you it helps you remove those blockages. Shakti causes a transformation in your Subtle dimension if you allow it to, if you provide the necessary ground for it, else it can stay within you as a Seed, which will sprout when the conditions are right.
Shakti has many forms and names and each form/name is a different plane/dimension of existence and has a different purpose. The first and the foremost dimension/plane of existence comes into existence because of Adi-Shakti. Shakti is the “Feminine” aspect of Creation/Existence while Power/Energy has Positive charge, Negative charge and Neutral all three. Feminine principle in existence is required for the propagation of Source/Brahman/Shiva. Because it is a Feminine principle it is often shown with “female body”, but in reality, it is Formless. Though most of the time Shakta (Tantra Sadhak) instils the Shakti in Female Body Form Deities because it is easier to connect with them that way and it is easier for the Aham to bow down to Shakti in certain forms. Shakta is a person, a being who is capable of handling Shakti the Causal factor of life and different dimensions of life, and practices Tantra Sadhana. Shakti and Shakta are the Terms of Tantra.
Hence Shakti is Sanskrit Non-Translatable term and must be accepted as is and should not be translated as “power, energy” or any other gross/physical dimensional word in English. Now, you may wonder why many Gurus, Spiritual Teachers, even Indian Spiritual Teachers just use the word "power or energy" and do not stick to the Term Shakti?
There could be several reasons: They themselves are not Shakta, means Tantra Sadhak, Tantra Practitioner and have not perceived the Shakti as a Causal Factor. Most Spiritual Gurus are from Vipassana or Hatha or Bhakti.
Traditions and are not well versed in the reality of Tantra which is beyond Body, Mind, Emotions or anything gross/physical.
They may not have realized that English and many other languages do not have vocabulary for Subtle and Causal planes of Existence.
It may be just convenient to keep on using the wrongly translated word, without realizing the fact that in the English language this term means something gross/physical, hence many Westerners may get confused. An understanding that says "it's hard for the Westerners or other language speakers to remember, understand, pronounce the Sanskrit/Hindi words". But how can you justify "wrong translation"? Would it be OK, acceptable if I start calling "Animal as Electricity"?
Because both of them runs.
It's difficult to stop, think and make correction and cause a paradigm shift.
On the name of convenience we have accepted many things which are incorrect fundamentally. Hence we must stop, think and make correction as we go before it's too late.
The most important thing to understand here that, it is not about which language is being used, it's not the fight between two languages, and it's not about the "words" either, it's about "the meaning, the concept" which cannot be conveyed through wrong translation to those who do not have direct experience, embodied wisdom of Shakti yet. Those who are Shakta and/or are Tantra Sadhak it doesn't matter for them, because they have grasped the real meaning, the concept of it, the Shakti herself. The correct meaning and translation of the words like "Bike & Biking" matter to those who are reading them and trying to understand, not to those who are Bikers and have experienced Biking. So for those people who are new and are being introduced to themselves through the path of Yoga, the correct meaning, translation of these words matter a lot. Hence we should stick to the word "Shakti" until & unless English language authorities, dictionaries come up with another equivalent Term.