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In Sanskrit, shaktipat literally means the descent of grace or the descent of cosmic energy. It is commonly used in Kundalini Yoga, where it refers to the initiation of a disciple by his or her guru, by touch or by direct gaze. The guru initiates the disciple by awakening the Kundalini energy lying dormant at the base of their spine, which rises, granting the disciple many strange experiences, and sometimes strange abilities. Because of the overwhelming power of this experience, shaktipat is never granted lightly by a guru, who must be very confident that his disciple is ready for the Kundalini awakening.

There are many interpretations and uses of the word shaktipat outside of the Kundalini tradition, and in these there is more emphasis on the alternative translations of 'Shakti' as 'blessing' or 'grace' rather than simply energy. An often-cited example from the Gospels is the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus after his death, in the form of tongues of flame. After this blessing, many unusual abilities manifested in the disciples, including the ability to be understood in many different languages.

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