Goddess Kali is the primordial goddess of Hinduism. She is dark, violent, a figure of annihilation, the ultimate reality that is Brahman and source of all being. She is the redeemer of the universe and the benevolent mother goddess as well. She is associated with Shiva her consort. She is related to many other Hindu goddesses and she is the foremost goddess among the Dasa Mahavidyas.
Goddess Kali is associated with death, sexuality and violence. She is dark, black and fierce goddess of death and she carries the destructive power of eternal time. She is seductive, terrible and wonderful and has always something to offer. She is the primary reality, the enfolded order, formless void yet full of energy, passion, potential and form. To her worshippers, goddess Kali represents all of life from conception to the ultimate reality of death.
Goddess Kali: The symbolism behind her fearsome nature
She is the all pervading divine mother of the universe and her name in Sanskrit is derived from the word Kal which means time. As nothing can escape from time, so nothing can escape from Kali. Her consort is Shiva and both of them inhabit the cremation grounds. The symbolism behind this abode is that the body is just temporary and any attachment to the body and the resultant ego is also temporary. Her devotees go to the cremation ground to mediate and overcome the I-am-the-body idea. Her appearance and ornaments has special significance and meaning. The garland of 52 skulls and her skirt made of dismembered arms symbolizes the destruction of the body and hence the ego attached with the body. With these ornaments she is sending a message to her devotes that she can offer liberation to them from the attachment of the temporary body. In two of her hands, she holds a sword and a freshly severed head that is dripping blood. This represents a great battle in which she defeated the demon Raktabija.
Her black skin represents the womb of the unmanifest from which all of creation is born and into which all of creation will eventually return. Goddess Kali is depicted as standing on a white skinned Shiva who is lying beneath her. His white skin is in contrast to her black or sometimes dark blue skin. He is showing a blissful detached look on His face. Shiva is pure formless awareness sat-chit-ananda (being-consciousness-bliss) while she represents "form" eternally sustained by the underpinning of pure awareness.
Goddess Kali: The destroyer of the Ego:
She frees us from the prison of our own ego as she brings the death of the ego as the delusional self-centred view of reality. Kali and Shiva give liberation by dissolving the illusion of the ego. Thus we learn that we are the ever-existing I AM and not the impermanent body and the ego represented by the impermanent body. This is emphasized by the scene in the cremation grounds where both Kali and Shiva dwell. They are the destroyers of unreality.
When the ego sees Mother Kali it trembles with fear because the ego sees in her its own eventual demise. An individual who is attached to his/her ego will not be able to receive the vision of Mother Kali and she will appear in a fear invoking or "wrathful" form. A mature soul who engages in spiritual practice to remove the illusion of the ego sees Mother Kali as very sweet, affectionate, and overflowing with incomprehensible love for her children.
Goddess Kali: The benevolent nature of Goddess Kali:
She is associated with motherly love. Out of all the Devi forms, Kali is the most compassionate because she provides moksha or liberation to her children. She is the supreme feminine manifestation of compassion and she is ready to shower her love and affection on to anyone who care to turn their gaze toward her luminous heart.
Goddess Kali the liberator of souls:
She is the goddess of liberation or enlightenment. She is the Liberator of Souls and destroyer of all negativity in us. In fact she makes us understand that we are beings of spirit and not flesh and so liberation can only prevail when our attachment to the body comes to an end.
Her worship consists of fertility festivals as well as sacrifices and her initiations expand one's consciousness by many means, including fear, ritual sexuality and intoxication with a variety of substances. Kali, the Divine Mother, is the symbol for the infinite diversity of experience. "Kali represents the entire physical plane. She is the drama, tragedy, humor, and sorrow of life. She is the brother, father, sister, mother, lover, and friend. She is the fiend, monster, beast, and brute. She is the sun and the ocean. She is the grass and the dew. She is our sense of accomplishment and our sense of doing worthwhile. Our thrill of discovery is a pendant on her bracelet. Our gratification is a spot of color on her cheek. Our sense of importance is the bell on her ankle.
Goddess Kali: Her place in Hindu Religion
In time Kali has become such a dominating figure in the Indian pantheon, that many other goddesses have been assimilated into her, and she herself has been ascribed an ever growing number of aspects and manifestations. Many of these, for example the so-called "One Hundred Names of Kali", are names that begin with the letter 'K'. In their translations, these names define the goddess much more directly and intimately than any intellectual summary can do.
The One Hundred Names occur in the adyakali svarupa stotra, a hymn to Kali that is part of the Mahanirvana Tantra. What emerges when reading this hymn, is an exposition of Kali in a variety of strikingly different aspects.
Further to know goddess kali more intimately we must study in detail the following topics related to her existence.
1. Origin of Goddess Kali
The more we take initiative to discover Goddess Kali the more we shall be pushed by the godmother towards the path of enlightenment and liberation.
So let’s walk the discovery path by knowing
1. Kali as revealer, benefactress and embodiment of the Kula school of tantrics, their teachings, rituals and lifestyle
Article by Sanjay Nair
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