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The origin and legend of the goddess kali

Here, Kali is depicted in classical form as a terrifying black skinned skeletal figure. In the eyes of westerners, Kali is a goddess dark of mind, body and soul, a mysterious goddess of death and destruction. However her story is far more complex and far-reaching; she cannot be easily fitted into a typical western narrative of good verses evil, and in fact transcends both.

It is another 400 years before Kali is described as an individual in her own right, when she appears around 600 CE in the Devimahatmya as a battlefield goddess personifying the wrath of Durga. Her aspect at this time is terrible — a skeletal and frightening crone, coloured black a literal interpretation of her namewearing animal skins and carrying a khatvanga, the skull-topped staff associated with tribal shamans.

Other texts of the period associate her beginnings with Shiva.

KALI GODDESS

Parvati merges with Shiva, reappears as Kali and does the deed, but at a terrible cost; her bloodlust becomes uncontrollable, only calming when Shiva intervenes.

When Shiva addresses Parvati as Kali, "the black one," she is affronted and performs certain austerities to lose her dark complexion, ultimately generating Kali as a separate entity. Kali is often associated with Shiva. She is closely linked with him in many of the Puranas and when she appears in these writings besides Shiva, she plays an opposite role to that of Parvati.

Kali – A Most Misunderstood Goddess

While Parvati soothes Shiva, neutralising his destructive tendencies, Kali actively provokes and encourages him. A 14th century Nepalese image of Kali as Chamunda, battlefield demon killer, in her most frightening aspect.

David Nelson In her earliest appearances, Kali was frequently associated with violent endeavours on the battlefields of the gods. The origin and legend of the goddess kali one legendary battle with the demon Raktabija, she is manifested by Durga to deal with a situation that has gotten badly out of hand.

Every drop of blood spilled by the wounded Raktabija becomes a deadly fighting clone, but Kali turns the battle around and defeats him by draining his blood before it touches the ground, then devours his replicates. In this story she is brought in to play when decisive action is required, when dark deeds must be matched with dark deeds, when resolve must be shown - attributes not always associated in the west with the archetypal woman.

In another story, Kali is summoned by a group of criminals who decide to sacrifice a human to her image in order to gain her favour. She manifests but proceeds to horribly kill her erstwhile worshipers by decapitating them and drinking their blood. Here, Kali demonstrates her refusal to be controlled by those who think they understand her and her triumph over the attributes of ignorance and evil, as well as the absolute impartiality of her nature.

While Kali was well integrated into the Vedic, or orthodox, Hindu tradition from the first, she also developed a parallel relationship with Tantra.

In this aspect she is considered to stand outside of the constraints of space-time and have no permanent qualities; she existed before the universe was created and will continue to exist after the universe ends. Limitations of the physical world such as colour, light, good and bad do not apply to Kali. She is a symbol of Mother Nature herself — primordial, creative, nurturing and devouring in turn, but ultimately loving and benevolent.

  1. But Kali, the true Kali, will continue to defy all attempts to tame and domesticate her, as she has since the beginning of time.
  2. Her hair is generally disheveled, her eyes red, and her tongue sticks out, suggesting a state of rage and fury befitting a goddess of violence.
  3. While her right hands are generally associated with positive gestures, her left hands hold weaponry — depending on the number of arms she is portrayed as having, a bloodied sword or trident, a freshly severed head and a skull cup to catch the blood.
  4. In this lesson, we'll examine her four most widely utilized ones and see what this iconography represents. Kali is most often depicted with four arms Kali in this form has four arms, generally shown holding specific items.

In this aspect of goodness she is referred to as Kali Ma, Mother Kali, or Divine Mother, and many millions of Hindus revere and worship her in this form.

It is worth noting that Shiva, in his role of destroyer of worlds, also stands outside the boundaries of the physical universe and is well complimented by his association with Kali. From the 14th century to the 19th century, a cult group called the Thuggee from the Hindu word to deceive was operating at will in India.

A hereditary sect, Thuggee membership was passed from father to son, although outsiders, particularly criminals, could be recruited if found worthy — or might end up as victim if not. During its peak, the group is believed to have had thousands of followers and during the 600 years of its operation its members are estimated to have killed anywhere between 500,000 and 2 million people.

Thuggees proudly traced their origin to the battle of Kali against Raktabija, and considered themselves her children, created from her sweat.

  1. Kali Yantra A story of light, love and bodacious spiritual adventures. Kali is most often depicted with four arms Kali in this form has four arms, generally shown holding specific items.
  2. If you sincerely interested in understanding the philosophy of any Devi Goddess and Siva please read David frawley's "Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses " This is a very small book but give enough knowledge on Dasa Maha Vidyaas and Kali is first among them.
  3. This can also be confirmed by going to any of the Hindu websites such as www. Mother Kali is the most misunderstood of the Hindu goddesses.
  4. Thus the garland and skirt are trophies worn by Her to symbolize having liberated Her children from attachment to the limited body. Mahakali If you think classic Kali is intimidating, just wait until you see her Mahakali form.

The British finally wiped out the Thuggees in the mid 19th century, and the cult of religious stranglers ceased to exist except in myth and folklore. It is difficult to discover any concrete information about this group of women — their name, the extent to which they practiced in India, whether they were associated with the Thuggee cult, and whether they died out or continue to exist within the many Tantric sects extant today.

Forms of the Goddess Kali: Classic, Mahakali, Daksinakali & Shamshan Kali

Here Kali is shown in her post 17th century, rehabilitated form: Author Surendra Nath Khar. In part because of her dread characteristics and habit of acting unpredictably, at least to those who tried to control her, devotion came late in the game to Kali — even devout Hindus were wary of her wrath.

However in the seventeenth century Kali received a makeover from the Tantric Bengali poets in northwest India.

No longer a terrifying red-eyed crone, she began to be depicted as voluptuous, motherly, young and beautiful, with a gentle smile, attractive ornaments and pleasing blue complexion. While she continued to brandish weaponry and severed heads, two of her right hands now made soothing gestures - the mudras of fearlessness and blessing.

The Classic Form of Kali

The origin and legend of the goddess kali, her image reflects her duality. Kali is depicted in the act of killing but smiles engagingly. Her protruding red tongue signals both modesty a Bengali tradition and her thirst for blood. Her dishevelled hair hints at unrestrained blood lust and alternatively the metaphysical mystery of death that encircles life.

Her three eyes represent omniscience, her voluptuous breasts both sexual lust and nurturance. Her nakedness simultaneously represents carnality and purity. Her necklace of severed heads and girdle of severed arms signifies her killing rage but are also tantric metaphors for creative power and severance from the bonds of karma and accumulated deeds. Even her stance is imbued with dual meaning. While her right hands are generally associated with positive gestures, her left hands hold weaponry — depending on the number of arms she is portrayed as having, a bloodied sword or trident, a freshly severed head and a skull cup to catch the blood.

However, even these are symbols of greater purpose. The sword symbolises higher knowledge, the head the human ego that must be severed in order to exit from the cycle of life and rebirth.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, many western feminist scholars have adopted Kali as a mascot of female empowerment, or have politicised her as a symbol of the supposed former matriarchal golden age that came before our present state of patriarchal control and decline. New Age Tantric practitioners adapt her obvious sexual manifestations as a therapeutic tool, while Hollywood employs her as a convenient symbol of malevolence. But Kali, the true Kali, will continue to defy all attempts to tame and domesticate her, as she has since the beginning of time.

Would the real Kali please stand up. Kali can be depicted in various aspects, both as a terrible force for violence and retribution, and as a loving protective chaste figure.