We have travelled to the moon and back. We have probed various planets. And yet, the creation of the universe and the origin of life on earth remain a mystery to us. Naturally, several philosophers have put forth theories about this. Socrates, the 4th century BC Greek philosopher, believed that during primordial times, there was only pure universal energy. It was only much later that the physical universe came into being.
In fact, many Greek alchemists believed the universe is a living entity with an intelligent soul. They called it Anima Mundi. They further theorised that over several incarnations, this soul divided, physically manifesting as polar opposites–masculine and feminine–only to reunite again.
Vedic scholars call this universal soul Purusha, which is represented by Lord Shiva who symbolises masculinity. Physical manifestation of this universal soul is Prakriti (nature), which is represented by Goddess Shakti, Shiva’s consort. She symbolises feminine energy. The scholars believe the fusion of masculine and feminine energies is necessary for creation, and so, the two forces always co-exist. This fusion is depicted by the union of Shiva and Shakti, as the androgynous deity Ardhanareshwara.
Even the Chinese concept of Yin-Yang elucidates the duality of the masculine and feminine in the universe. According to Taoism, the light half–Yang–represents light, sun, and day. It is masculine–active, analytical, dominant and aggressive. The dark half is Yin, which represents darkness, moon, and night. It is feminine–passive, intuitive and submissive. While the two may not always be in harmony, they nevertheless co-exist.
Interestingly, this duality is not limited to the cosmos. Within each of its creation too is an inherent energy duality. After all, every individual on this earth harbours a masculine and a feminine side. According to Swami Vivekananda’s Patanjali Yoga Sutra, within every human body is the ida and the pingala. These are energy channels or nadi which represent the basic duality of existence. Ida and pingala stand for masculine and feminine, logic and intuition, respectively.
The central nadi along the spine, sushumna, is the pathway that helps unify and transcend the duality of masculine and feminine energies.