By Swami Harshananda
Ādiśakti literally means ‘Primeval Power’.
The source and sustenance of all creation whether at the level of matter, mind or life, is one. It is called Śakti (power or energy). A cyclic theory of creation (sṛṣṭi), preservation (sthiti) and destruction (pralaya) goes on eternally. It is the Śakti of God that is responsible for this. This Śakti is usually conceived as a female deity, as the Consort of God. Since she is the original source, she is often called ‘Ādiśakti,’ the Primeval Power.
It is the Śaiva and Śākta Āgama works that propound this theory of Śakti, and She is fully identified with Pārvatī, Śiva’s Consort.
Māyā (the illusory power of God) of Vedānta and Durgā of the purāṇas are also called Ādiśakti since they also are identified with Pārvatī.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore