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1 Devi Kali is the Hindu Goddess or Devi of death, time and doomsday and is often associated with sexuality and violence; but is also considered as a strong mother-figure and symbolic to motherly-love. Kali also embodies ‘shakti’ – feminine energy, creativity and fertility and is an incarnation of Parvati, wife of the great Hindu God – Lord Shiva. Devi Kali is most often represented in art as a fearful fighting figure with a necklace of heads, skin of arms, lolling tongue and brandishing a sword, dripping with blood. Naturally, when people think of the Hindu goddess, most people think of elegancy, love and the counterpart of their consorts – but Devi Kali is different in every way. Kali is the feminine form of ‘time’ or ‘the fullness of time’ (masculine form - Kala) and by extension time as changing aspect of nature that bring things to life or death. Other names include ‘Kalaratri’ (the black night) and ‘Kalika’ (the black one) - thus Kali is the feminine form of Kala (time), an Epithet of Lord Shiva and thus the consort of Lord Shiva. Devi Kali is particularly worshipped in Eastern and Southern India (specifically in Assam, Kerala, Kashmir, Bengal). She is specially worshipped in the yearly festival of ‘Kali puja’, on the Kalaratri, a night of Amavasya in the Bengali month Ashwin (November, according to Gregorian calendar). Goddess Kali, emerging in our universe : Devi Kali is said to have been born from the halhala poison, created by churning of ocean or from a lineage, created from Lord Brahma’s back . There are several traditions about how Devi Kali came into existence in our universe. One version relates about the warrior Goddess Durga, who had ten arms, each carrying a weapon and who rode on a lion or tiger in battle, fought with Mahishasura, the buffalo-demon. Devi Durga became so enraged that Her anger burst from her forehead in the form of Kali. Once born, the black Goddess went wild and ate all the demons. She came across, stringing their heads on a chain which She wore around Her neck. It seemed impossible to calm Kali’s bloody attacks , which now extended to any 2 wrong-doers and both people and the gods were at loss – what to do. Fortunately, the mighty Shiva stopped Kali’s destructive rampage, by lying down in Her path, and when the Goddess realised that upon whom She was standing on, She finally calmed down. This story explains Devi Kali’s association with battle-grounds and areas, where cremation is carried out. In another version of the Goddess’ birth , Devi Kali appeared when Parvati shed her dark skin , which then became Kali, hence one of her name is Kaushiki (the Sheath) , while Parvati is left as Gauri (the fair one). This story emphasises Devi Kali’s blackness which is a symbol of eternal darkness and which has the potential of both destruction and creation. Yet in another version of Devi Kali’s birth, there is a story about a great demon Raktabija, who had the power to produce more demons with his drops of blood. The Gods decided to work together by combining all forms of their divine energy and produce one super-being, that could destroy Raktabija and the result was Goddess Kali. Devi Kali swiftly sought out Raktabija and his demons, not to spill any more blood in the process. Devi Kali then lopped off Raktabija’s head with a sword and then drank all of his blood, making sure, that not a single drop of blood to fall on ground and thereby ensuring no more demons could menace the world. In another version, men and gods were being terrorised by Daruka, a demon, who could only be killed by a woman and Parvati was asked by the Gods to deal with that troublesome demon. Earlier Lord Shiva had swallowed the halahal poison, thus, by combining with that poison still held in Shiva’s throat and then Devi Parvati was transformed into Devi Kali. Leaping from Shiva’s throat in her new guise, Goddess Kali swiftly despatched demon Daruka and all was well with the world once more. Depiction of Goddess Kali : In the most common manifestations of Goddess Kali, the devi has four arms and stands atop as the supreme figure on Her consort – Lord Shiva. In the ten-armed version of Devi Kali, She is bright blue and is usually not standing on Lord Shiva. Devi Kali is indeed a drightful goddess to behold. Her skin is often black, Her bright red eyes are set deep into Her forehead and Her distinctive tongue lolls lasciviously from Her mouth. Her black complexion symbolizes Her all-embracing and transcendental nature. Devi Kali 3 wears a garland of severed human-heads and a skirt of severed arms. Her arms hold a severed head and a bowl with which to catch the blood running out of the head. With Her tongue sticking out, Devi Kali symbolizes wrath, power and sparks-fear in the eyes of the great lords. With the outstretched tongues, Devi Kali drinks the blood of Raktabija. A trident and a sword are also common features brandished by Goddess Kali. Devi Kali also has a sickle, sword, axe and whip along with a flower signifying ‘creation’ on Her hands. Devi Kali is actually a true monster. She is both frightening and awe-inspiring. Devi Kali emerges as an ‘Independent Goddess’ in around 1000 BCE and evolves as a controversial character. She is scary, blood-thirsty, embodiment of destruction and the ultimate protector against evil. She is spiritual and bodily, erotic and sexual, and as such courageous – according to Tantric cults, that revolve around Her. Eroticism is primarily a way of confronting ones deepest fear. The Tantric approach to Devi Kali is to display courage by confronting Her on cremationgrounds in the dead of night, despite Her terrible appearance. Devi Kali vehicles a concept in Mythology, very different from the demure, graceful ideals that are mainstream in the world around – including in India , the land that gave birth to this fierce Goddess and yet prescribes the ideal woman as dutiful submissive and obedient. Devi Kali represents ‘Nature’ at its rawest and being most untamed. She is the culmination of all that is strength and power. As an embodiment of time, Kali devours all things - She is irresistibly attractive to mortals and gods and can also represent the benevolence of Mother Goddess (particularly according to later traditions). At the time of Samudra Manthana, when Amrita (nectar) came out along with poison, Lord Shiva drank the poison to save the world from being destroyed. Lord Shiva was very much in pain due to the poison. At this moment, Lord Shiva became a child and Maa Kali fed Him with Her milk which soothed out the effect of poison – this story from Mythology depicts Devi Kali in Her benevolent, maternal aspect. Devi Kali is also a central figure in Late Medieval Bengali Devotional Literature, with notable devotee poets such as Ramprasad Sen (1718-1775). With the exception of being associated with Parvati as Lord Shiva’s consort, Devi Kali is rarely pictured in Hindu legends and iconography as a motherly figure until Bengali devotions beginning in the early 18th century. Even in Bengali traditions, the appearance of Goddess Kali and habits change little if at all. In Hindu-art, 4 Goddess Kali is most often portrayed with blue or black skin, naked and wearing a crown of clay, which is painted or gilded. She is like many Hindu deities, a multiple-armed figure with the number of arms being four, eight, ten, twelve, or even eighteen. Each arm usually holds an object and these can include a sword, dagge, trident, cup, drum, chakra, lotus-bud, whip, noose, bell and shield. Sometimes Her left-hand forms the ‘Abhaya Mudra’, while the right-hand makes the offering ‘Varada Mudra’. Actually in Hindu iconography, there is no singular, consistent, canonical image of Goddess Kali; She is depicted in a range of ways throughout Hindu cultures. Exactly where and when goddess Kali became part of the mainstream tradition in Hinduism is fully unclear. In the book ‘The Sword and the Flute’, author David R. Kinsley noted that Devi Kali does not take on Her unique characteristics until the epics written between 200 BCE and 400 CE. With this in mind, Kinsley also noted that other aspects of the goddess Durga, as well as the monstrous demon, show up much earlier, displaying many of the basic characteristics of Devi Kali. Devi Kali predates any of Her appearances in the written texts. Scientific Analysis on the concept of Goddess Kali : The word ‘Kali’ is the feminine form of ‘Kala’(time), and that is what actually goddess Kali is. ‘Kali’ is the personification of time and it is not surprising that the deity of time has a terrifying image. Time does not seem to move slow for anyone in relation to this universe. But what about, when the ‘self’ is gone? How does time move then? How Mahakali moves towards the end? – We cannot say but speculate that this simply becomes sped up. As Devi Kali controls time and the time is a relativistic experience of the consciousness, anything more cannot be said really on this subject. Time is the foremost power that defines our existence. Time is the slayer of all. Time is the very stuff that our lives are made of – to waste time is to waste life. The reason for which time is represented in feminine form is that the time is the great womb (the great mother), from which all of us are created in the universe. Similarly, time is also the force, which causes all living beings to perish. Therefore Goddess Kali is the mother who destroys the children which She has created – which is one of Her frightful features. The action of Goddess Kali may result in salvation through the action of time. Through time, over repeated births, we experience all that we have to and learn all that we must 5 learn in order to merge back into our eternal existence, from which we fell into limited time and space. Devi Kali is the deity of transformation. Through worshipping Her and accessing Her grace, Yogis unlock the transformative power which enables attachments and negative tendencies to fall away in the path towards higher states of consciousness and realisation. Does Goddess Kali actually have a separate consciousness or is She just a representation of time as an unthinking scientific principle? - Hinduism personifies what to us are abstract spiritual truths as gods and goddesses. Spiritual ideas are clothed in concrete imagery and approached as living beings. This does not reflect a lack of reasoned thinking or any attachment to form; but rather an experimental contact with the higher truths, as living forces. Hinduism creates a personal relationship between the human beings and the forces of cosmos; and eventually leads us to realise that these forces are within us rather than being anything separate. All forces of the universe are pervaded by consciousness – hence the reason as to why they are approached as living beings is because in reality, they are. The purpose of the vivid imagery is that whilst meditating upon the image, our mind is shocked into thinking into the depths of the concept that we are trying to understand, beyond our usual conditioned ideas. In that way, we can really experience the truth of time as an awesome conscious force and understand how our existence relates to it. Goddess Kali is particularly an important deity, because by understanding Her, we stop to identify ourselves as only our body – we come to terms with the utter impermanence of our body and begin to perceive the true existence of ours which lie beyond; which most people believe and wish to experience directly. Hence, Devi Kali is said to kill the ego (the attachment of pettiness), which is represented in Her image by the severed head that She hold in her hand. Goddess Kali in light of Tantra Vidya : Devi Kali demonstrates the tantric iconography, texts and rituals. In Tantra Vidya, Kali is considered as the highest of all deities. Kali is the ‘time’ Herself. Devi Kali is set to consume the world at the end of time; then the world will be dark and unbound like Her. She is the destroyer of universe as Her counterpart ‘Mahakal’ (Lord Shiva). Thus, 6 worshipping of Goddess Kali is done to symbolize the victory over the greatest power of the universe. Devi Kali is worshipped at the cremation-grounds in the darkest night. The goal of the tantric gurus is to become reconciled with death and learn to accept death, as the way it is. Devi Kali is the chief of the ‘Mahavidyas’, a group of ten Tantric goddess of the divine intelligence. Devi Kali is also known as ‘Adi Shakti’ or ‘Kundalini Shakti’, that is the soul power or light that makes the universe live but also can burn it. According to Tantra Vidya, Devi Kali is considered as ‘the ultimate reality’ and symbolizes the complete awakened consciousness. Mantra of Goddess Kali : The most important mantra for Goddess Kali is – ‘Om aim hrim klim chamundayai vicche svaha!’ Each syllable of this mantra conveys a distinct vibrational energy and who ever chants this mantra, after a short while will feel that they are tapping into a deep spiritual energy. ‘Om’ is the sound corresponding to the absolute reality in its entirety. ‘Aim’ is the syllable of knowledge (Sarasvati). ‘Hrim’ is the syllable of purification (Parvathy). ‘Klim’ is a syllable corresponding to its transformation (closely related to Kali). ‘Chamundayai’ is the name of Kali. ‘Vicche’ means cut (as in to cut off the head of the demon, demon referring to the ego) and ‘Svaha’ ends the mantra. Forms of Goddess Kali : Naturally, it is assumed that Goddess Kali is the destroyer of evil and the slayer of the demons. But it is also true that Devi Kali appeared in this universe in many forms, all of which are prescribed by the scriptures and popularly worshipped by the masses. The forms of Goddess Kali set the nature of the ten Mahavidyas, as a complete group and these individual Mahavidyas clearly reflect the character of Goddess Kali. Devi Kali is said to have 8, 12 or 21 different forms according to different traditions. Some of the popular forms are ‘Mahakali’, ‘Adya Kali’, ‘Chintamani Kali’, ‘Sparshamani Kali’, ‘Santati Kali’, ‘Dakshina Kali’, ‘Bhadra Kali’, ‘Samhasana Kali’, ‘Adharvana Kali’, ‘Kamakala Kali’, ‘Guhya Kali’, ‘Nisha Kali’, ‘Botolbahana Kali’, ‘Samhar Kali’, ‘Hamsa Kali’, 7 ‘Kalasankarshini Kali’ and many others. The appearance and names of the different forms of Goddess Kali are diverse along with the significance. 1) MAHAKALI : Mahakali , the goddess is conflated with the ultimate spiritual force of feminine power. This is her cosmic form, guarding over the cosmic order and restoring it, when it is out of balance. She is the embodiment of ‘Brahmins’, the ultimate truth of the Universe, that unites all spiritual and material laws. Thus, much power requires an equally impressive figure. Mahakali has ten arms .She is also generally depicted with ten heads and ten legs as well. All ten hands hold an instrument that represents the divine power, especially those associated with another deity , which represents that Mahakali holds the power of all these deities and furthermore that the Gods and Goddesses only have their power through Mahakali. Mahakali is also known as Classic Kali. This form is mostly popular throughout Hindu-art. 2) DAKSHINAKALI : This form of goddess Kali is mostly popular in West Bengal. Dakshina Kali is the Saumya Roopam (sublime form of Devi Kali). She has four arms with the accessories of human body-parts and is properly identifiable by the fact that she is standing on Hindu God Lord Shiva (the destroyer). It is important to remember Dakshinsa Kali in the incarnation of Parvati (Shiva’s wife). She represents the power of consciousness in its highest form. She is the embodiment of ‘shakti’, ‘buddhi’, ‘riddhi’ and ‘siddhi’. The four-armed Dakshinakali displays Vardamudra with her lower right hand – the gesture of boon-giving. Her upper right hand makes the Avayamudra, reassuring us to have no fear. The upper left hand wields the blooded sword of knowledge. She holds the head of a severe demon in her lower left hand, representing the human ego. Sree Dakshina Kalika mahamantra bestows on the sadhaka for the fulfilment of desires, wealth and comforts. Sree Dakshina Kalika Mahamantra “Om Hreem Hreem Hrum Hrum Kreem Kreem Kreem. Dakshina Kalike Kreem Kreem Kreem Hrum Hrum Hreem Hreem 8 Om Kreem Kreem Kreem Hrum Hrum Hreem Hreem Dakshina Kalike Svaha”. 3) MATANGI KALI : She is the violent reincarnation of the Goddess of knowledge (Saraswati). Being a tantric Goddess, She lives at the edges of organised Hindu religion. The sparkling emerald green Goddess is offered half-eater or stale-food by the left hand (the impure hand). She is popularly called ‘Chandalini’. Goddess Matangi is never worshipped at home. Devi Matangi governs speech, music, knowledge and arts. Her worship is prescribed to acquire the supernatural powers, especially gaining control over enemies, attracting people to oneself, acquiring mastery over the arts and gaining supreme knowledge. Devi Matangi is the abode on the periphery of traditional society. Worship of Devi Matangi is described to allow her devotee to face the forbidden and transcend pollution, leading him to salvation or allowing him to gain supernatural powers for worldly goals. 4) SHMASANA KALI : She is the divine goddess who presides over the affairs of the crematorium. This form of goddess Kali can be worshipped only in the Hindu crematorium or shmasana. She has no protruding tongue and strangely has just two hands – a human projection. She likes the flesh of dead body. She has her right foot forward on ‘sav-rupi’(dead body). She has fierce outlook (ghora roopa), unbound hair (muktokeshi) , no bondage of clothes (digambari). She is called ‘Shmasanavasini’(guardian of shmasana). Earlier the dacoids worship Shmasana Kali. 5) CHAMUNDA KALI : Devi Chamunda is worshipped during ‘sandhipuja’ on Ashtami of Durga-puja. Devi Chamunda is mentioned in Markyandya-Puran. The name Chamunda is the combination of two monsters Chanda and Munda- who were killed by Devi Chamunda. She is also one of the chief Yoginis (a group of Tantric Goddesses, who were the attendants of Parvati). She had red tongue, huge teeth and a long body. Devi Chamunda consumed the blood of the demon Raktabija. The goddess is often portrayed as haunting cremation ground or fig trees. Devi Chamunda is worshipped by the ritual of animal sacrifices, along with the offering of wine and in ancient times human sacrifices were offered too. But the practising of animal-sacrifices has become less common with 9 ‘Shaivite’ and ‘Vaishnavite’ influences. Agnipurana mentioned 8 forms of Devi Chamunda – ‘Rudracharchika’, ‘Rudrachanda’, ‘Siddhachamunda’, ‘Mahalakshmi’, ‘Siddhachamunda’, ‘Siddhajogeshwari’, ‘Rupavidya’, ‘Khoma’ and ‘Dontora’. 6) BHADRA KALI : The word ‘Bhadra’ means good. Devi Bhadrakali is a Hindu goddess, mainly popular in Southern India. She is one of the fierce form of great goddess ‘Shakti’ or ‘Adi-parashakti’ (also called ‘Durga’, ‘Mahadevi’ or ‘Mahamaya’), according to Devi-Mahatyam. In Kerala, Bhadrakali is seen as the fortunate and auspicious form of Mahakali, who protects the good in this universe. The goddess is represented with three eyes, sixteen hands. She carries a number of weapons with flames flowing from her head and a small tusk, protruding from her mouth. Her worship is also associated with the Tantric tradition of the Matrikas as well as the tradition of the ten Mahavidyas and falls under the broader umbrella of Shaktism. Devi Bhadrakali is primarily worshipped in 4 forms - ‘Darukajit’ (the killer of demon Darika), ‘Dakshajit’ (the killer of Daksha), ‘Rurujit’ (the slayer of the demon Ruru) and ‘Mahishajit’ (the killer of Mahishasura). 7) ADDYA KALI : The name of this goddess is mentioned in Mahanirvanatantra. She is actually not the devi mentioned in Addya-stotra, even not similar to the Kali of Addyapith. The skin-colour of Addyakali is as blue as the sky. She is a three-eyed goddess. There is a mark of moon in her forehead. She is dressed in red colour. Devi enjoyed the dance of Mahakala. Devi sits on red-lotus. 8) RUDRA KALI : Rudra Kali is a Rigvedic deity , associated with wind or storm, Vayu and the hunt. One translation of the name is the roarer. In the Rigveda, Rudra is praised as the ‘mightiest part of the mighty’. Rudra is the personification of terror. Mythology says that Rudra, Shiva and Kali are the originating couple of the universe but Kali even mocks Shiva by symbolically stepping on His ego. 9) SIDDHA KALI : Devi Siddha Kali is a two-handed goddess. Her right hand is uplifted with a sword, by which She destroys the disc of the moon and Devi emerges from the nectar of the moon. Siddhakali has three eyes. Her skin-colour is blue, hair is unbound and tongue is red in colour. She is dressed with glorious ornaments, two earrings at Her - like Sun and Moon 10 at Her ear and a crown on Her head. Devi Siddha Kali stands on Mahadeva in left-foot and Her right leg is at back. Inspite of existence of so many forms of Goddess Kali, not all the forms can be worshipped at home. Any household persons or any ordinary priests cannot pray all the forms of Goddess Kali. Devi Kali is also said to be the most misunderstood form of the goddesses in the Hindu religion. Devi is often feared and only considered as the goddess of witches and tantric. In a patriarchial society, Devi Kali is the true and oldest representation of the female supremacy over nature. Goddess Kali teaches us to see life not as something indifferent to life but as a part of life. She defies the definition of an ideal goddess and is beyond the understanding of human-kind and the rules of nature – ‘Created to destroy, She still has a core of love and motherhood’. *******************************************

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