View Full Version : Kali!

September 12th, 2001, 07:34 PM
I've been feeling closer to this Goddess lately, and I really needed to take my mind off of everything-- I'm sure you guys know what I mean-- so I figured I'd ramble for a little bit. I searched through for any previous threads, but didn't find any, so...according to what I've been reading...


Kali is an Indian Goddess. I've read that in India (for the most part, anyway--they might be exceptions, as are everywhere) they think of all Goddesses as aspects of the one great Goddess. Which is how I think also. This is a retelling of the myth from Lindell Barker -Revell's "The Goddess: Myths and Stories." I've read it so many times, so some things may be exact. It's not meant as plagiarism, lol. And the first quote was looked up because I love its exact wording. :)

Kali was born at a time when the creator-God Shiva, Lord of the Dance, and Goddess Parvarti--who in her battle form was called Durga-- were fighting legions of demons who were threatening their kingdom.

Kali sprang forth from the angry brow of Durga and preceded to rip the demons open with great joy. Durga tried to recall her, but Kali could not be contained. When Durga questioned this, Kali responded, "Durga, you must know me. I am Kali-Ma, great Mother Time. Neither God nor human can control me. When there was nothing, neither sun, nor moon, stars nor any world, I was there. Where there was darkness I held the seeds for the new universe. For I am the Formless One, Maha-Kali, the Great Power, Maha-Kali, the Absolute."

One of her myths tells the story of when she fought the great demon Raktavija. After she destroyed thousands of his demons, he decided to attack the Goddess himself. Kali was amused at this, but soon found, to her fury, that he was a very ancient demon with great power, and each drop of blood she spilt gave birth to a thousand more demons.

Soon the demon's numbers were so vast that even Shiva, from within his burning circle of flames where he kept world order, was skeptical that she would survive it. Then Kali lashed out with her great tongue and licked up Raktavija's foul blood. A horde of demons were unleashed within her, and consumed by her immortal essence.

Kali grew more confident as Raktavija weakened. Soon, the demon and all his spawn lay dead at her feet.

Kali let out a great cry that shook the earth, and began a dizzying dance of triumph atop Raktavija's corpse. She whirled with such fury and joy that she became numb to all but the dance, not even hearing her husband Shiva's voice cry out for her to stop. Her dance was shaking the earth, shaking the order of things which Shiva himself maintained.

Kali continued to dance, and Shiva, in desperation, left his burning circle to try and stop her. But he became caught up in Kali's dance as well, until unbeknownst to Her, she was dancing atop his body.

Weakly, Shiva called out to her in one final plea, "Maha-Kali, Kali-Ma, Mother!"

Kali immediately stopped. "Surely a demon cannot speak my Sacred Name." She looked down in realization and horror, and gathered Shiva's trod-upon body in her four Mother's arms. "I'm sorry, Sweet Lord, I did not hear you." Lovingly, she cleaned him and placed him back in his circle of flames, where he resumed maintaining world's order.

Shiva looked upon his wife's many faces-- destroyer, All, mother-- and felt an understanding come upon him. A deep, intense look passed between them, and joy fell upon the lands from that day forward.

Because of this story, Kali is thought of as the Great Mother who will always hear the cry of one of her children.

September 12th, 2001, 07:39 PM
There are a lot of things I love about this story. Before reading it, I thought of Kali as only Destroyer. I love how this myth turns her from destroyer to Mother in almost the same breath.

Even though Kali's appearance can be thought of as frightening-- she's traditionally said to have 3 eyes, 4 arms, a necklace of skulls around her neck, severed arms around her waist, and swords or severed heads in each hand-- to me she also seems motherly and comforting.

As always when I post, I forget half of what I want to say. :D So I'll be back later, and I'd love if you guys share your thoughts as well. :D

September 12th, 2001, 07:46 PM

Let's see if that works...

September 12th, 2001, 07:48 PM
Originally posted by loopy

Kali is an Indian Goddess. I've read that in India (for the most part, anyway--they might be exceptions, as are everywhere) they think of all Goddesses as aspects of the one great Goddess.

Actually, that's not what they originally believed. They told the christian missionaries that all their gods were one god "The Godhead".

Which is how they were able to keep their religion, most of it anyway.


September 12th, 2001, 07:49 PM
Very interesting, thank you for sharing. :)

September 12th, 2001, 08:08 PM
Originally posted by loopy

Even though Kali's appearance can be thought of as frightening-- she's traditionally said to have 3 eyes, 4 arms, a necklace of skulls around her neck, severed arms around her waist, and swords or severed heads in each hand-- to me she also seems motherly and comforting.

She sounds pretty extreme!

Do you think she might have any negative effects on your life???


September 12th, 2001, 08:19 PM
She sounds pretty extreme!
She does, doesn't she? :D

Do you think she might have any negative effects on your life???

No. I thought about that question for a while. I think this quote really cinched it for me: "... Kali is entreated as the Great Mother who will always hear the true cry from the deep heart of any of her children."

Kali seems frightening, but looking at the myth, she only tore apart demons who were attacking her kingdom. Like any warrior, she just fought for what was hers, the way a lot of Gods, soldiers, etc did.

When it comes down to it, I really can't think that any Goddess/God would intentionally hurt anyone who prayed to them, you know?

I'm really looking at her as a Protector, defender, comforter, strength ... this is the impact she has on my life, and it's definitely not negative. :) Yesterday, when everything was happening, I found myself wandering back to her myth, and it lent me comfort. So she was a little overzealous and had a taste for blood. *shrug* So did Caesar. :D

And if she helps me manifest some anger, I think that's all right as well... anger is best not kept bottled up, IMO, you know?

September 12th, 2001, 10:43 PM
Thanks for sharing loo

(says Willow, who's spent the last couple months with Hecate and knows EXACTLY what you mean)

September 12th, 2001, 10:45 PM
Originally posted by Willow Raven
Thanks for sharing loo

(says Willow, who's spent the last couple months with Hecate and knows EXACTLY what you mean)


September 20th, 2001, 12:07 AM
This is my view on Kali. Fact mingled with a bit of personal opinion, and a school speech ;)

The ancient Hindu deity Mahadeve, also referred to as Devi, is a Goddess who assumes many forms and plays many roles in fantastic Hindu legends; Some of the most memorable legends of Mahadeve where told about her most formidable and frightening form, the goddess Kali. Mahadeve is a Hindu name meaning ‘Great Goddess’, and Devi means ‘Divine Mother’. This Goddess is worshiped around the globe, and in modern day Hinduism Mahadeve is the most ancient deity worshiped.
Mahadeve is depicted as being married to the popular Hindu God, Lord Shiva, because she is composed of his shakiti, or female nature. Similar to her spouse Shiva, Mahadeve assumes three different forms. She cycles through the manifestation of a ‘maiden’, a ‘mother’ and a ‘crone’.

Sati, or ‘good woman’, is the ‘maiden’ form of Mahadeve, a young and loving wife Shiva. In this form, Mahadeve is also called Parvati, a Hindu name meaning ‘Golden One’ or ‘Mountain Child’.

Her name meaning ‘Mother of the World’, Jaganmata is Lord Shiva’s child bearer, the ‘mother’ form of Mahadeve. She is depicted as a plump, unclothed and charismatic woman who is also called Umä in this form. With Mahadeve in the form of Jaganmata, Shiva had two children. Shiva’s eldest, Gansha is the Hindu god of wisdom, scribes and children. He has the head of an elephant. The six-faced son of Shiva, Kartikeya is the god of communication in the time of war. Out of all the manifestations of Mahadeve worshiped today, Jaganmata ranks one of the least popular. The most worshiped form of Mahadeve in Hinduism today is Durga.

Durga, is the fiery form of Mahadeve whose name means ‘the inaccessible’. She would fit the ‘crone’ title of Mahadeve’s appearances. She is a terrible warrior, Lord Shiva’s sworn protector and wife. Durga is portrayed as a Caucasian woman surrounded by cats, while she rides on a massive golden tiger. She has eight arms. Durga herself takes on many of her own dangerous forms in Hindu myth. Some, like Kalaratri were beautiful Goddesses, and some, like Kali, were strong fighters any foe would fear. The great Goddess Kali is Durga’s most popular manifestation.

Mahadeve takes the form of Kali when she wishes to destroy. Kali’s name means ‘destroyer’ or ‘black woman’. In Sanskrit it simply means ‘black’. She is described as black, like the abyss of time she stands for. Her flesh may also be depicted as blue, or purple. Her hair is long, black and matted. Her eyes are bloodshot and are said to reflect the soul of the person looking into them. It is a Hindu saying that when the eye of Kali is seen in your window, you will die shortly after. Her tongue lolls out, a long tongue usually dripping with blood, her front two teeth are yellowed tusks. Dry, withered and hideous, most sources describe her as a hag, unsightly and scabbed. Though one specific resource names her the ‘epitome of darkness and beauty’, her image is that of an emaciated hag.

Kali is unclothed except for the symbols of her power. Draped around her is a wiry haired elephant hide, and many miniature arms link together to form Kali’s belt.

Around her neck she wears a long string of skulls. They are human skulls taken forcibly from the Brahmas, the Hindu creators of the five Yugas. Yugas are very long periods of time and Kali’s necklace shows that she is beyond time because she has seen the rise and fall of all the Yugas. Kali is sometimes called “the Mother of Time” because of her necklace.

Kali has two sets of arms and in each of her four hands she holds a different item. Kali’s two top appendages hold symbols of terror; weapons used to destroy. She is depicted holding a bladed hook, a large scythe, a sword, a spear, a trident, or noose in one hand and the severed head of the demon Raktavija in the other hand. Kali is often pictured holding Raktavija’s head up to her mouth and drinking his blood. In her lower two arms she holds symbols of prayer which she uses to bless her devotees. One arm is extended openly, alternating between removing fear from her followers and blessing them with timelessness, removing them from the endless cycle of time. The other lower hand holds sacred Hindu prayer beads, a book of prayer or a black candle that burns endlessly.

Many of the most fantastic Hindu legends are about Mahadeve’s form, Kali. The Hindu religion is renowned for it’s legends composed of heroic battles between demon and deity. Kali’s first battle is such a legend.

Born from Durga’s forehead, Kali was born smeared with blood. Described as “more deadly than all the demons and Gods”, by her husband Shiva, Kali was spawned to save the world from a group of rampaging demons. Kali succeeded in destroying the demons but afterwards she continued to kill mortal men and women. Horrified that life on Earth would be terminated if Kali continued the killings, the Gods sent her powerful husband, Shiva down to Earth to stop her. Pleading with her, Shiva could not persuade Kali to stop her murderous dance. Desperate to save humanity, the Hindu lord Shiva threw himself over the Earth. When the goddess, Kali felt her husband under her feet, she was removed from her trance, and stopped her bloody rampage. Still atop her husband, Kali stuck out her tongue as a sign of shame. In many Hindu sculptures and paintings, Kali is portrayed like this, dancing atop her husband Shiva, and sticking out her tongue.

Another reason Kali is shown with her lolling tongue sticking out can be explained by a second legend. Perhaps the most popular Mahadeve legend, it is the Legend of Raktavija.
The Gods were faced with a horrible problem. A dangerous demon, Raktavija, pronounced war on the entire divine population of Hindu myth. The Gods attempted to kill him, but whenever a drop of Raktavija’s blood touched the ground, a thousand duplicate copies of him would be formed. Mahadeve was summoned to come up with a plan. In the form of Kali, Mahadeve approached Raktavija with her husband, Shiva not far behind her. Kali then stuck out her tongue, preventing any of the demon’s blood from touching the Earth. Shiva slew him; Kali caught him on the tongue before he could touch the ground. Kali became a Hindu hero. Kale became an even bigger hero when she changed her name.

Many Gods and Goddesses took on the name, or a variation of the name, of a demon they slew. Once, Kali killed two powerful demons, Chandra and Mundra, who were two Gods that had succumbed to darkness. They had ravaged the land, and no God could touch them, because they are composed of the same Godly energy as the Gods themselves. Mahadeve, in the form of Kali, solved this problem by dashing in between the two demons. Chandra and Mundra slashed out with their swords to kill her but she was too quick. They ended up killing each other. They died, and Kali changed her name to Chamunda, a compound of both demons names.

Because of all the demons she slew, most believed Kali to be a horrible Goddess only capable of destroying. But if you can see past the terrifying aspects of time and power, says Charles White, Kali is the goddess of tender love and motherly care. This, he says, is shown by the compassion she gives to her devotees. A Hindu temple at Caliphate is devoted to her. Caliphate a takeoff from Kălighăt, which is a word meaning Kali’s steps. Worshipers there of the dark Hindu Goddess are called Sakti, a Sanskrit term for power. Most of her devotees are female. Sakti sacrifice black goats to Kali at Caliphate, as well as black cattle and sheep. Hindu Thuggs (a Hindu word adopted into English) offer her a different type of sacrifice, they prefer to rob, and brutally murder their victims of black flesh to leave for Kali at her temples.
No matter if Kali is regarded to as a malevolent crone or the compassionate black mother, she will continue to be a popular deity in the growing Hindu religion.

September 20th, 2001, 02:56 AM
Thanks for sharing that. :D

Something interesting I came across: (from this website) http://pagan.drak.net/thewheel/kali/worship.html

The current representation of Kali is relatively new. Sometime in the mid to late 16th century, Krsnananda Agamavagisa, a Bengali mystic (born about 1500 AD.) had a powerful experience which caused him to formalize and tell of a "new" form of Kali. According to Dr. S.C. Banerji, a noted historian of Tantra, "Krsnananda is credited with the conception, for the first time, of the Kali image current in Bengal."

It is said that Krsnananda Agamavagisa went to bathe in a river near a cremation-ground (either at Tarapith or Bakreshwar, both in West Bengal). There he happened to disturb a dark-skinned tribal girl who, believing she was alone, had stripped nude and was washing herself using a discarded skull-cap from a nearby funeral pyre. She had her long black hair untied and was engrossed in her ablutions. Embarassed by Krsnananda's sudden presence, she stuck out her tongue in shyness (a reflex action still done by village girls in India). Krsnananda, who had been trying to understand how best to comprehend the many varied forms of the Dark Goddess, and how to get a direct vision of Her, had a sudden spiritual insight. He viewed this tribal girl as a living Kali, and took the "vision" of her naked dark body, long dishevelled hair, extended tongue and skull in hand as a new and especially potent icon of the Great Goddess.

Using this insight as his meditation, he became perfected. He had images made of this "new" and potent form of Kali and worshipped them as his deeper Self. He spread this special form of Kali far and wide. In about 1580 AD. he wrote a text known as the Tantrasara, a "Compendium of Tantras", in which he gave the following description of the Dark Goddess and which forms the basis of the typical "Bengali" Kali icon:

"Possessed of complexion like the color of sapphire, blue like the sky, extremely fierce, defeating gods and demons, three- eyed, crying very loudly, decked with all ornaments, holding a human skull and a small sword, standing on the moon and sun."

Krsnananda described other forms of Kali, named Daksina Kali, Guhya Kali, Bhadra Kali, Smashana Kali and Maha Kali - meaning "Right, from the South, Kali", "Secret Kali", "Adamantine Kali", "Cremation-ground Kali" and "Great Kali", respectively. Of these, the form of Daksina Kali, also referred to as DaksinaKalika, is described by him thus:

"Dishevelled hair, garland of human heads, face with long or projecting teeth, four arms, lower left holding a human head just severed, upper left holding a sword, lower right hand posed as if giving a boon, the upper right hand posed granting freedom from fear, deep dark complexion, naked, two corpses or arrows as ornaments in the two ears, girdle of the hands of corpses, three eyes, radiant like the morning sun, standing on the chest of Mahadeva(Shiva) lying like a corpse, surrounded by jackals."

September 24th, 2001, 04:06 PM
I have felt drawn to Mother Kali also. When I feel that no one else hears my cries, she does. Thank you for sharing all that information. It made me feel even closer to Kali.

September 24th, 2001, 09:00 PM
I had interest in Kali, and to further it, I did a lot of research on my own. Then, lucky me, we had to do a report in english for our speech unit. Well, I had the info, so my topic was Kali...

But you didn't need to know that. I, too, feel connected to her in many, many ways.