This section is from the book "Karpuradistotram. Karpuradi Stotra Tantrik Texts", by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe). Also available from Amazon: The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga.
Sachchidananda Mahavidya, in undistinguishable union of Shiva and Shakti, can alone be worshipped with such non-dualism of feeling. Although Tantrik worshippers are divided into five communities namely Shakta, Shaiva, Vaishnava, Ganapatya, Saura the first alone are all Dvijas since all worshippers of Savitri (Gayatri) the Mother of the Veda belong to the Shakta community. The Matrikabheda Tantra says 'Savitrl the Mother of the Veda was born of the sweat of Kali's body. That Devi grants the threefold fruit and is Shakti of Brahman.' Sadhakas belonging to the other four communities worship their respective male Devatas associating with them their Shaktis. Thus the Shaivas worship Shiva under the names Uma-Maheshvara, Shiva-Durga, Kali-Shangkara, Arddhanarishvara and so forth. The Vaishnavas worship Vishnu under the names, Radha-Krishna, Lakshmi-Narayana, Sita-Rama, Shri-Hari and so forth. In the Nirvana Tantra Shrt Krishna says 'To those who do Japa of Radha first and then Krishna, to such I, of a surety, grant a happy lot even now and here.' By uttering the name Sita-Rama (Sita coming first) one utters the Tara of Mahadevt, and for this reason it is also called Taraka-Brahma. The Sauras perform their worship with the Mantra 'Obeisance to Shri Suryya accompanied by the Shakti who reveals.' Moreover the Maya-Bija (Hrim), which is the Pranava of Devi, is added to the Mulamantra by every sect. This clearly shows that all these five sects are directly or indirectly worshippers of the Brahman who is Shiva-Shakti (Shivashaktyatmaka) both in his Nirguna and Saguna aspects. Kaivalyopanishad says ' By meditation on the three-eyed, blue-throated serene Lord (Prabhu) Parameshvara, who is without beginning, middle and end, who is one and pervades all thing, who is wonderful, Chida-nanda Itself, accompanied by Uma, the Muni goes to the Source of all being (Bhutayoni) to the Witness of all, who is beyond all darkness.' Hence in the Tantra Shastra, Shiva has said that the Shiva-shakti Tattva is the cause of Tattva-jnana and therefore Japa should be done by a Mantra in which they are united. That is one attains Tattvajnana, which is liberation, by worshipping Brahman as Mother and Father. All Mantras being composed of Shiva and Shakti one should meditate on Shiva-Shakti as being one. In the Tantra Shastra also Shiva has said that there is no difference between them who are inseparably connected (Avinabhavasambandha). He who is Shiva is also Shakti and She who is Shakti is also Shiva. Fatherhood and Motherhood are: merely distinctions of name. In reality they stand for one and the same thing. The Tantra Shastra again says that Shakti, Maheshvara, Brahman all denote the same Being. Male, female, neuter are verbal and not real distinctions. Shakti, Maheshvara, Brahman; all three denote the one eternal Mahavidya who is Sachchidananda. Although the Mahavidya is in truth Nirguna and eternal, She assumes various Mayik forms, varying acccording to the Gunas, for the fruition of the desires of Sadhakas. It is said in Chandi that She ever appears to fulfil the purposes of Devas, and at such time She, who is Truth eternal, is commonly said to be generated. In the Devyagama it is said: 'Mahamaya who is Chitirupa and Parabiahmasvarupini assumes by Her grace towards Sadhakas various forms.' We may meditate on Mahadevi as either female or male, for these terms may be attributed to any gross body. They cannot however be attributed to Her in so far as She is Sachchidananda. Sadhakas of Shakti worship Brahman as Mother, for in the world the mother-aspect alone of Her who is Brahman is fully manifested. In the Yamala, Shiva says: -'Devi may, My Beloved, be thought of as female or male, or the Sachchidanandarupini may be thought of as Nishkala Brahman. But in truth She is neither a female, male, neuter being, nor an inanimate thing. But like the term Kalpavati (a word in feminine gender denoting tree) feminine terms are attributed to Her.'
In fact the main cause of the birth and nourishment of men and animals is their respective mothers. Their fathers are merely helpers (Sahakari). Every Jiva on issuing from his mother's womb, lives on her milk, and receives his first initiation with the Mantra 'Ma' (Mother). The first preceptor (Adiguru) of every man is his mother. She is his visible Devata. His first lessons are learnt of her. It is the mark also of the Earth to generate and nourish all Jivas, like a mother, by producing for them all kinds of fruits and grains and holding them in her bosom. Hence we are not wrong in saying that the world is full of the Mother.
In mathematics zero has no value and is merely an empty formless (Nirakara) thing, indicative of infinity until it is joined to an integer. But when joined to the figure 1 it converts it into
10. Similarly when She who is formless Brahman is joined to Her own Prakriti, consisting of the three Gunas, spoken of in Shruti as ' the unborn one, red, black, and white,' then She assumes for the fruition of the Sadhaka's desires ten different forms (Dashamahavidya) whose variety is due to difference in the proportions of the three Gunas. There are the ten Mahavidyas who are Shiva and Shakti (Shivashaktimayi). These ten forms are Kali and Tara, the Mahavidya Shodashl, Bhuvaneshvari, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhunmavati the Vidya, Bagala, the Siddhavidya Matanggi, and Kamala. Some Tantras mention eighteen Mahavidya, but these are forms of the ten with slight variations. Of the ten Mahavidyas, Kail is Shuddhasattvaguna-pradhana, Nirvikara, Nirgunabrahmasvarupaprakashika. It is this primordial form which alone directly gives Kaivalya. In Yoginl Tantra Devi says ' Now see my form (Rupa) which is Brahmananda and supreme. Listen, this form is the supreme state (Paramadhama) in the form of Kail. There is no Brahman-form higher than this.' In Kamadhenu Tantra Shiva says ' In the void is Kail who grants Kaivalya '. Tara, is Sattvagu-natmika and Tattvavidyadayini; Shodashl (Mahatripurasundari), Bhuvaneshvari and Chhinnamasta are Rajah-pradhana and Sat-tvagunatmika and hence they grant Gaunamukti in the form of Heaven (Svarga) Aishvaryya and so forth. The forms of Dhu-mavati, Bagala, Matanggi and Kamala are Tamah-pradhana and hence their Sadhana is done in Shatkarma, such as causing death to others and so forth. In short all the ten forms of Mahadevi give Enjoyment and Liberation directly or indirectly.