Kali (“the black one”) is the Hindu mother goddess, symbol of dissolution and destruction. She destroys ignorance, maintains the world order, and blesses and frees those who strive for the knowledge of God. In the Vedas the name is associated with Agni, the god of fire, who had seven flickering tongues of flame, of which Kali was the black, horrible tongue. This meaning of the word has meanwhile been replaced by the goddess Kali, the grim consort of Shiva.
Her appearance is fearsome: baleful eyes, a protruding tongue, and four arms. In her upper left hand she wields a bloody sword and in her lower left hand she holds the severed head of a demon. With her upper right hand she makes the gesture of fearlessness, while the lower right hand confers benefits. Draped around her is a chain of severed human heads and she wears a belt made of dismembered arms. As the Divine Mother she is often represented dancing or in sexual union with Shiva. As Bhavatarini, the redeemer of the universe, she stands upon the supine form of her spouse. She is also known as Kalikamata (“black earth-mother”) and Kalaratri (“black night”). Among the Tamils she is known as Kottavei. Kali is worshipped particularly in Bengal. Her best known temples are in Kalighat and Dakshineshvara.
What follows is a description of the age of Kali as found in the Vedic scriptures. Kali-yuga (the age of quarrel) started 5,000 years ago (3,102 B.C.) and is scheduled to last a total of 432,000 years, leaving 427,000 years to go. At the end of Kali-yuga (i.e., in 427,000 years) The yuga-cycle will start over with Satya-yuga, the Age of Truth. We should all note the Bhagavatam’s mentioning that in Kali-yuga many cheaters will claim themselves to be God, as we can see that practically today. In the fourteenth chapter of the last canto of the “Paramahamsa Samhita” portion of the Vayu Purana, named “Sri Gauranga Candra Udaya”, Lord Brahma prays to the Supreme Lord Sri Hari thus:
“In the age of Kali, people are spontaneously attracted to sinful activities and are devoid of the regulations of the scriptures. The so-called “twice-born” are degraded by their low-class activities and those who are born in low-class families are alway s hostile to brahminical culture. The twice-born are low-class by quality and do business by selling mantras. These so-called learned men are absorbed in their intestines and genitals and their only identification is the thread they wear. Indulging in ove reating, absorbed in bodily consciousness, lazy, intellectually dull and greedy for others properties, they are consistantly against God-consciousness. Due to being overly inclined towards false paths without essence, they manufacture their own processes for self-realisation. Neglecting their actual duties they are expert in blaspheming You (the Supreme Personality of Godhead) and the saintly persons; hence again Mother Earth is in tears due to this burden. Therefore, Oh Lord of the Universe, destroyer of the miseries of the destitute, please mercifully do what is befitting for the protection of the Earth and the living entities.”
“The very day and moment the Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna, left this earth, the personality of Kali, who promotes all kinds of irreligious activities, came into this world.” (S.B. 1.18.6)
“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” (S.B. 1.1.10)
Foreseeing the incompetencies of the people in this age of Kali or the iron age of quarrel, great sages and saintly people throughout the ages have sort to benefit the general mass of people by revealing to them the knowledge contained in the scriptures, whereby they may attain relief from the inflictions of this most degraded and dangerous of all ages.
Elaborate description of the anomolies of Kali-yuga and the plight of the living entities is given in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Therein it is described how as the sun rose and after taking his morning ablutions in the waters of the Sarasvati, Vyasadeva sat alone to concentrate. “The great sage Vyasadeva saw anomilies in the duties of the millennium. This happens on the earth in different ages, due to unseen forces in the course of time. The great sage, who was fully equipped in knowledge, could see, through his transcendental v ision, the deterioration of everything material, due to the influence of the age. He could also see that the faithless people in general would be reduced in duration of life and would be impatient due to lack of goodness. Thus he contemplated for the welf are of men in all statuses and orders of life.” (S.B. 1.4.16-18)
In the purport to these verses Srila Prabhupada describes Kali-yuga in this way: “The unmanifested forces of time are so powerful that they can reduce all matter to oblivion in due course. In Kali-yuga, the last millennium of a round of four millenniums , the power of all material objects deteriorates by the influence of time. In this age the material body of the people in general is reduced, and so is the memory. The action of matter has also not so much incentive. The land does not produce food grains in the same proportions as it did in other ages. The cow does not give as much milk as it did formerly. The production of vegetables and fruits is less than before. As such, all living beings, both men and animals, do not have sumptuous, nourishing food. Due to want of so many necessities of life, naturally the duration of life is reduced, the memory is short, intelligence is meager, mutual dealings are full of hypocricy and so on.
The great sage Vyasadeva could see this by his transcendental vision. As an astrologer can see the future fate of a man, or an astronomer can foretell the solar and lunar eclipses, those liberated souls who can see through the scriptures can foretell the future of mankind. They can see this due to their sharp vision of spiritual attainment.
And all such transcendentalists, who are naturally devotees of the Lord, are always eager to render welfare service to the people in general. They are the real friends of the people in general, not the so-called public leaders who are unable to see what is going to happen five minutes ahead. In this age the people in general as well as their so-called leaders are all unlucky fellows, faithless in spiritual knowledge and influenced by the age of Kali. They are always disturbed by various diseases. For exa mple, in the present age there are so many TB patientsand TB hospitals, but formerly this was not so because the time was not so unfavourable.” Elsewhere in the Srimad Bhagavatam Srila Prabhupada further reveals the degredation of human society. “In the Kali-yuga the population is just a royal edition of the animals. They have nothing to do with spiritual knowledge or godly religious life. They are so blind that they cannot see anything beyond the jurisdiction of the subtle mind, intelligence or ego, but they are very much proud of their advancement in knowledge, science and material prosperity. They can risk their lives to become a dog or hog j ust after leaving the present body, for they have completely lost sight of the ultimate aim of life.” (S.B.1.3.43)
The people of the world in this age of Kali are always full of anxieties. Everyone is diseased with some kind of ailment. From the very faces of the people of this age, one can find out the index of the mind. Everyone feels the absence of his relative wh o is away from home. The particular symptom of the age of Kali is that no family is now blessed to live together. To earn a livelihood, the father lives at a place far away from the son, or the wife lives far away from the husband and so on. There are suf ferings from internal diseases, separation from those near and dear, and anxieties for maintaining the status quo. These are but some important factors which make the people of this age always unhappy.
With the progress of the age of Kali, four things particularly, namely the duration of life, mercy, the power of recollection, and moral or religious principles will gradually dimminish. Since Dharma, or the principles of religion, would be lost in the p roportion of three out of four, the symbolic bull is standing on one leg only. When three fourths of the whole world become irreligious, the situation is converted into hell for the animals. In the age of Kali, godless civilizations will create so many so -called religious societies in which the Personality of Godhead will be directly or indirectly defied. And thus faithless societies of men will make the world uninhabitable for the saner section of people.
Beef is forbidden in the scriptures, and the bull and cows are offerred special protection by the followers of the Vedas. But in this age of Kali, people will exploit the body of the bull and the cow as they like, and thus they will invite sufferings of various types.
The people of this age will not perform any sacrifice. The mleccha population will care very little for performances of sacrifices, although performance of sacrifice is essential for persons who are materially engaged in sense enjoyment. The mlecchas, ho wever, make plans to install slaughterhouses for killing bulls and cows along with other animals, thinking that they will prosper by increasing the number of factories and live on animal food without caring for performance of sacrifices and production of grains.
In this age of Kali, the women and the children, along with the brahmanas and cows, will be grossly neglected and left unprotected. In this age illicit connection with women will render many women and children uncared for. Circumstantially, the women wil l try to become independent of the protection of men, and marriage will be performed as a matter of formal agreement between man and woman. In most cases the children will not be taken care of properly. The brahmanas are traditionally intelligent men, and thus they will be able to pick up modern education to the topmost rank, but as far as moral and religious principles are concerned, they shall be the most fallen. Education and bad character go ill together, but such things will run parallel. The adminis trative heads as a class will condemn the tenets of Vedic wisdom and will prefer to conduct a so-called secular state, and the so-called educated brahmanas will be purchased by such unscrupulous administrators. Even a philosopher and writer of many books on religious principles may also accept an exalted post in a government which denies all the moral codes of the sastras. The brahmanas are specifically restricted from accepting such service. But in this age they will not only accept service, but they wil l do so even if it is of the meanest quality. These are some of the symptoms of the Kali age which are harmful to the general welfare of human society.
In this age, people are indulging in the necessities of life, eating, sleeping, defending and mating, without following the rules and regulations, and this deterioration of social and moral rules is certainly lamentable because of the harmful effects of such beastly behavior. In this age, the fathers and the guardians are not happy with the behavior of their wards. They should know that so many innocent children are victims of bad association awarded by the influence of this age of Kali. In this age of Kali the poor innocent students are daily victims of cinemas which attract men only for sex indulgence.
Nowadays, men without proper training by culture and tradition are promoted to exalted posts by the votes of the people who are themselves fallen in the rules and regulations of life. How can such people select a proper man when they are themselves falle n in the standard of life? Therefore, by the influence of the age of Kali, everywhere, politically, socially or religiously, everything is topsy-turvy, and therefore for the sane man it is most regrettable. (S.B.1:16:19-22).
In the twelth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam Srila Sukadeva Goswami relates how after the thorough degredation of the brahminical and administrative classes these and other symptoms of Kali-yuga increase to an intolerable level.
“Sukadeva Goswami said: Then, O King, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali. In Kali-yuga, wealth alone will be considered a sign of a man’s good birth, proper behavior and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power. Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit. Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex, and a man will be known as a brahmana just by his wearing a thread. A person’s spiritual position will be ascertained merely according to external symbols, and on the same basis people will change from one spiritual order to the next. A person’s propiety will be seriously questioned if he does not earn a good living. And one who is very clever at juggling words will be considered a learned scholar. A person wil l be judged unholy if he does not have money, and hypocrisy will be accepted as virtue. Marriage will be arranged simply by verbal agreement, and a person will think he is fit to appear in public if he has merely taken a bath. A sacred place will be taken to consist of no more than a reservoir of water located at a distance, and beauty will be thought to depend on one’s hairstyle. Filling the belly will become the goal of life, and one who is audacious will be accepted as truthful. He who can maintain a f amily will be regarded as an expert man, and the principles of religion will be observed only for the sake of reputation.
As the earth becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power. Losing their wives and properties to such avaricious and merciless rulers, who will behave no bet ter than ordinary theives, the citizens will flee to the mountains and forests. Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completel y ruined. The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety. The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali-yuga will become fifty years.
By the time the age of Kali ends, the bodies of all creatures will be greatly reduced in size, and the religious principles of followers of varnasrama will be ruined. The path of the Vedas will be completely forgotten in human society, and so-called reli gion will be mostly atheistic. The kings will mostly be theives, the occupations of men will be stealing, lying and needless violence, and all the social classes will be reduced to the lowest level of sudras. Cows will be like goats, spiritual hermitages will be no different from mundane houses, and family ties will extend no further than the immediate bonds of marriage. Most plants and herbs will be tiny, and all trees will appear like dwarf sami trees. Clouds will be full of lightning, homes will be dev oid of piety, and all human beings will have become like asses. At that time, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear on the earth. Acting with the power of pure spiritual goodness, He will rescue eternal religion.” (S.B.12.2.1-16)
“In the age of Kali only one fourth of the religious principles remains. That last remnant will continuously be decreased by the ever-increasing principles of irreligion and will finally be destroyed. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In the age of Kali people tend to be greedy, ill-behaved and merciless, and they fight one another without good reason. Unfortunate and obsessed with material desires, the people of Kali-yuga are almost all sudras and barbarians. When there is a predomin ance of cheating, lying, sloth, sleepiness, violence, depression, lamentation, bewilderment, fear and poverty, that age is Kali, the age of the mode of ignorance. Because of the bad qualities of the age of Kali, human beings will become shortsighted, unfo rtunate, gluttonous, lustful and poverty-stricken. The women, becoming unchaste, will freely wander from one man to the next. Cities will be dominated by theives, the Vedas will be contaminated by speculative interpretations of atheists, political leaders will virtually consume the citizens, and the so-called priests and intellectualls will be devotees of their bellies and genitals. The brahmacaris will fail to execute their vows and become generally unclean, the householders will become beggars, the varn aprasthas will live in the villages, and the sannyasis will become greedy for wealth.
Women become much smaller in size, and they will eat too much, have more children than they can properly take care of, and lose all shyness. They will speak harshly and will exhibit qualities of theivery, deceit and unrestrained audacity.
Businessmen will engage in petty commerce and earn their money by cheating. Even when there is no emergency, people will consider any degraded occupation quite acceptable. Servants will abandon a master who has lost his wealth, even if that master is a s aintly person of exemplary character. Masters will abandon an incapacitated servant, even if that servant has been in the family for generations. Cows will be abandoned or killed when they stop giving milk.
In Kali-yuga men will be wretched and controlled by women. They will reject their fathers, brothers, other relatives and friends and will instead associate with the sisters and brothers of their wives. Thus their conception of friendship will be based ex clusively on sexual ties. Uncultured men will accept charity on behalf of the Lord and will earn their livelihood by making a show of austerity and wearing a mendicant_s dress. Those who know nothing about religion will mount a high seat and presume to speak on religious principles.
In the age of Kali, people’s minds will always be agitated. They will become emanciated by famine and taxation, my dear King, and will always be disturbed by fear of drought. They will lack adequate clothing, food and drink, will be unable to properly re st, have sex or bathe themselves, and will have no ornaments to decorate their bodies. In fact, the people of Kali-yuga will gradually come to appear like ghostly, haunted creatures.
In Kali-yuga men will develop hatred for each other even over a few coins. Giving up friendly relations, they will be ready to lose their own lives and kill even their own relatives. Men will no longer protect their elderly parents, their children or the ir respectable wives. Thoroughly degraded, they will care only to satisfy their own bellies andgenitals.
O King, in the age of Kali people’s intelligence will be diverted by atheism, and they will almost never offer sacrifice to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the supreme spiritual master of the universe. Although the great personalities who cont rol the three worlds all bow down to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, the petty and miserable human beings of this age will not do so.
Terrified, about to die, a man collapses on his bed. Although his voice is faltering and he is hardly conscious of what he is saying, if he utters the holy name of the Supreme Lord he can be freed from the reaction of his fruitive work and achieve the su preme destination. But still people in the age of Kali will not worship the Supreme Lord.” (S.B.12.3.24-44).
All kings occupying the earth in the Kali Age will be wanting in tranquillity, strong in anger, taking pleasure at all times in lying and dishonesty, inflicting death on women, children, and cows, prone to take the paltry possessions of others, with character that is mostly tamas, rising to power and soon falling. They will be short-lived, ambitious, of little virtue, and greedy. People will follow the customs of others and be adulterated with them; peculiar, undisciplined barbarians will be vigorously supported by rulers. Because they go on living with perversion, they will be ruined.
And Dharma becomes very weak in the Kali age, and people commit sin in mind, speech, and actions…Quarrels, plague, fatal diseases, famines, drought, and calamities appear. Testimonies and proofs have no certainty. There is no criterion left when the Kali age settles down. People become poorer in vigor and lustre. They are wicked, full of anger, sinful, false, and avaricious. Bad ambitions, bad education, bad dealings, and bad earnings excite fear. The whole batch becomes greedy and untruthful. Many sudras will become kings, and many heretics will be seen.
“There will arise various sects; sannyasins wearing clothes colored red. Many profess to have supreme knowledge because, thereby, they will easily earn their livelihood. In the Kali age, there will be many false religionists. India will become desolate by repeated calamities, short lives, and various diseases. Everyone will be miserable owing to the dominance of vice and Tamoguna; people will freely commit abortion.
“Earth will be valued only for her mineral treasures. Money alone will confer nobility. Power will be the sole definition of virtue. Pleasure will be the only reason for marriage. Lust will be the only reason for womanhood. Falsehood will win out in disputes. Being dry of water will be the only definition of land. Praise worthiness will be measured by accumulated wealth. Impropriety will be considered good conduct, and only feebleness will be the reason for unemployment. Boldness and arrogance will be equivalent to scholarship. Only those without wealth will show honesty. Just a bath will amount to purification, and charity will be the only virtue. Abduction will be marriage. Simply to be well dressed will signify propriety. And any hard-to-reach water will be deemed a pilgrimage site. The pretense of greatness will be the proof of it, and powerful men with many severe faults will rule over all the classes on earth. Oppressed by their excessively greedy rulers, people will hide in valleys between mountains, here they will gather honey, vegetables, roots, fruits, birds, flowers and so forth. Suffering from cold, wind, heat and rain, they will put on clothes made of tree bark and leaves. And no one will live as long as twenty-three years. Thus in the Kali Age humankind will be utterly destroyed.”
The Kalki avatar
Avatar is a word that is commonly heard but rarely understood. In English, the word has come to mean “an embodiment, a bodily manifestation of the Divine.” However, the Sanskrit word Avatara means “the descent of God” or simply “incarnation.” Here is the definition based on India’s ancient Vedas, the oldest and most comprehensive spiritual literature known to man:
The Avatara, or incarnation of Godhead, descends from the kingdom of God for [creating and maintaining the] material manifestation. And the particular form of the Personality of Godhead who so descends is called an incarnation, or Avatara. Such incarnations are situated in the spiritual world, the kingdom of God. When They descend to the material creation, They assume the name Avatara. ( Chaitanya-caritamrita 2.20.263 -264)
An Avatara is a personal form of the Supreme Being and innumerable such divine forms reside in an eternal spiritual realm. When a personal form of God descends from that higher dimensional realm to the material world, He (or She) is known as an incarnation, or Avatara.
By referring to the form of God as an “incarnation,” one invokes a Western conception describing a physical symbol which represents or embodies an abstraction. In fact, the Latin root carnis means “flesh.” However, in this context, this may be somewhat misleading, since the divine forms of God do not “become flesh” or “take on a material body.” An ordinary soul may take on a gross material body, but in the case of God, His ‘soul’ and His ‘body’ refer to the same spiritual essence.
In fact, the Avataras exhibit God’s essential features: They are eternally existent and free from the laws of the matter, time and space. Although They have no obligation to come into contact with the material energy, the Avataras descend into this world for our own protection, instruction and redemption. Although They may potray human weaknesses such as grief and anger, They are never to be considered ordinary people. Human beings act out of earthly desire, fear and anger. The Avatar, however, acts out of His own blissfully divine nature performing exhuberant pastimes for the pleasure of His pure devotees.
God is one, yet He manifests Himself in innumerable forms within this world. There is the Darling Krishna Avatar whose beauty enchants the hearts of all; and the awesome Narasimha (the Man- Lion Avatar) who outwitted an ingenious demonic tyrant; and the regal form of Lord Rama Avatar whose example of truth and virtue is emulated even today. Each and every one of those forms has a particular mission; each Avatar being a unique revelation of the Absolute Truth.
Although the Avatars appear in different forms at different times, places and circumstances, They are the Selfsame Supreme Lord and Their purpose is one: to reveal the Absolute Truth in this world and remind its inhabitants of their eternal lives of blissful service to God in their original homeland, the spiritual world. This divine purpose is eloquently expressed by Lord Krsna in the world-famous Bhagavad-gita (4.7-8):
Whenever there is a decline in religious practice and a predominant rise of irreligion–at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to establish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.
The ultimate mission of incarnations is to arouse love of God everywhere.
In fact, a very systematic analysis of the Avatars based on thse Vedic texts was expounded in the early sixteenth century by the devotional saint Shri Chaitanya, Himself an Avatara. In 1528, He went to Benares, a renowned academic center in India, and met His disciple Sanatana Goswami. During the meeting, He gave an elaborate description of the Avatars. How exactly does God descend? Who is a genuine incarnation? Can anyone become an Avatara? How can one experience the Avataras? What is the Absolute Truth beyond all Avataras? And from Lord Chaitanya’s answers emerges an in-depth look into the most fascinating phenomena of all–the descent of the Avatar.
The tenth and the last avatar of Vishnu, Kalki, is yet to appear. Kalki will appear at the end of the Kali-Yuga riding his white horse with a drawn flaming sword blazing like a comet. He shall come finally to destroy the wicked, to exterminate the evil. His task will be to restart the new creation and to restore the purity of conduct in people’s lives, to restore the Dharma. Thus will begin a new cycle, again will start the Satya Yuga. He will be “the one who comes back”. “When justice is crushed, when evil rules supreme, then I come. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the evil-doers, for the sake of firmly establishing righteousness, I am born in age after age.” (Bhagavad-Gita 4.7-8)
THE CULT OF KALI
This excerpt is taken from the booklet Cult of Kali, which in its whole is taking up many more aspects of the dark hindu goddess, and the cult surrounding her.
Kali means â€˜The black oneâ€™ or â€˜the blackâ€™. In Vedic days this name was associated with Agni (meaning fire) a personification of the sacrificial fire, who had seven flickering tongues of flame devouring oblations of butter (ghee). The seven tongues or flames of Agni, alluded to as the â€˜Seven Red Sistersâ€™. Of these seven Kali was the black or terrific tongue. This meaning of the word is now lost, but has developed into the goddess Kali, the fierce, jet black and bloody consort of Siva (Shiva). The concept of the great goddess is called Sakti (Shakti), the word itself means â€˜powerâ€™, a personification of the female principle and lifeforce in universe. As her male counterpart she is a both destructive and creative and appears in many aspects and shapes, under various names. Two ancient Hindu symbols is the phallus (linga), which can be found outside temples, it is surrounded by a circle which represent the vagina called yoni.
Siva is linga, Sakti is yoni. The symbols express the creation of the world, and thereby a much deeper meaning than just the sexual act. Sakti is the incarnated femininity, working as guru for male gods, a timeless archetype, mothergoddess, risen to the highest dignity in Hindu cosmogony.
Because of Saktis despotic situation, she appears in many shapes. In the shape of Parvati and Uma, daughter of Himalaya, she is a personification of the towering mountains at Indias northeast borders. Parvati is the beautiful wife of Siva and mother of his children, filled of grace and femininity, while Durga is wild and protective, Kali is cruel and destructive. Other names of Sakti is Devi meaning â€˜great goddessâ€™ (notice the similarity between Devi and devil), Mahadevi, Sati, Bhavani, Bhairavi, Chandi, Hariti, Shashti, Mariyamman, Minakshi, Sitala (the goddess of smallpox), Manasa (snake goddess) and thousand more… With Kali follows seven Matrikas (little mothers) which form her armies in battle.
As a creative and lifegiving mother she calls to all living things, good and loving, but are as her male consort in the same breath both destructive and creative.
Saktis most dynamic aspect; Durga (difficult of access), the name was taken by the aspect Devi, when she overcame the demon with similar name. She is both protective and to her enemies lethal, she takes the form with many arms, wieling swords and spears as in the myth of her battle with the mountaindemon (asura) called Mahisha. In parts of India Durga is adored as Kali, but are recognized by her attribute, the phanter, and sometimes her husbands trident.
From a mystical point of view, Sakti represents the supreme realization of truth. the state beyond manifestation, the paramatman. Through Saktis most horrifying aspect; Kali, Kalika or Chandi, she also symbolize the time and the everlasting cycles of nature and hence she both gives life and destroys it.
It would not be wrong to see the brutality as a growing process. The earliest images of Kali has not the negative attributes to them, but are more seen as a creative power as in the cosmogony, where she plays an important meaning as time. The Appearance of Kali is described as a hideous four-armed emanciated with fanglike teeths, who devours all beings (sometimes the image differs and increase its number of arms). The lower left arm holds a bloody severed head from that of a demon or giant (muda), the upper left arm wields a sword (khadga). With her right upper arm she makes a geasture of fearlessness and with the lower hand she confers benefits. These two arms are raised to bless the worshipper. Her hands end in claws. The meaning of the severed head is that there is no escape from time, and that individual lives and deaths are merely minute episodes in the time continuum. This is also the significance of her association with crematoria and burial grounds. Taken from the Tantra is the image of Virya-Kali. Visualized in the centre of an aura of blinding light and contemplated as the innermost vibrancy (spande) of consciousness. She has six faces and her hair is wreathed with flames. She adorned with the severed heads and dismembered limbs of the lower deities, she rides on the shoulders of Kalagnirudra. In this form she has twelve hands which carries a noose, a goad, a severed head, a sword, a shield, a trident-khatvanga (skull-topped staff), a thunderbolt (vajra), a ringing bell, a damaru-drum, a skull-cup, a knife, a bleeding heart and a elephant-hide. The weapons denote her powers of destruction.
The Rudra who forms her vehicle (vahana) is black on one side of the body and red on the other, symbolizing the two breaths, the ingoing (apana) and the outgoing (prana). Tantra also mention Here Mahakali (great Kali), which is worshipped in the form of a black circle a vermilion border surrounded by a ring of twelve such circles containing Kalis who differ her in their names but are identical in appearance.
Kali is often seen naked, with only â€˜ornamentsâ€™ in form of earrings made from little children, a necklace of snakes, one of skulls and another made from the heads of her sons, and a belt from which hang demonsâ€™ hands. Her nakedness indicates that she has stripped off all the veils of existence and the illusion (maya) arising from them. Her only garment is space. Thus she also described as black, the colour in which all distinctions are dissolved; or she is eternal night, in which she stands upon â€˜non-existenceâ€™, the static but potentially dynamic state that precedes manifestation. The unmanifest is represented by the corpse (sava) of her husband Siva on which she stands. In some pictures she is seen dancing on Siva which has the name Kala (time) who lies down, with one eye open, this is a symbolic scene, which leads to speculation. The mother or the â€˜little timeâ€™ dances upon the â€˜big timeâ€™ or the â€˜eternityâ€™ (another name for Siva). She had conquered and subdued her own husband. Siva is also recognized in a dubbelfigure (Shiva-shava) under Kali. Her body is smeared with blood, an interest developed after killing the demon Raktavira whom Brahma (the supreme god, the creating force) had granted a boon whereby every drop of blood which fell from his body was able to produce thousand more like him. The only way in which Kali could kill him therefore was to hold him up, pierce him with a spear and drink all his blood as it gushed out. She is often portrayed with a tongue hanging out and her mouth dripping of blood.
Kali is the goddess of all plagues, earthquakes, floodings and storms and in temple paintings seen with a pair of scissors, which she uses to cut the thread of life, and thereby becoming death. But she is also a destroyer of ignorance and act as the maintainer of world order and blesses those who strive for knowledge, a symbol for her own knowledge is her third eye (saiva), which is often identified with the pineal gland, the third eye is an organ used to observe the astral world. it is placed on her forehead together with the moon-sickle of Siva ( jata) which represents fertility and creative principle.
The insatiable appetite for blood, her cruel and wild character, the snakes entwined round her neck. the skulls and her fearless sexuality is for the modern western society a unbelievable way for a goddess to behave. Kali probably the last of the â€˜vampire-godsâ€™, still worshipped openly through blood sacrifices, today by animals, not to long ago by humans. Hindusâ€™ believe it to be folly not to accept the dark and destructive parts of nature aswell as the good sides. Everything is divine, and should be worshipped.
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