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Sunday February 13, 2005: The Mystic's view of Kali

        I originally went to V.G., an Indian Brahmin, to gain a mystical interpretation of Kali. Pictures of a black and fierce Goddess, with severed heads and human arms decorating her body, blood dripping from her tongue, and a human head held high by one of four arms – well, it definitely seemed strange by American standards. Worse, some definitions of this picture had her trampling on her dead husband Shiva, something which sounded more like the ultimate, out-of-control wife. She hardly seemed a goddess to worship if one wanted to reach divine peace and harmony. Yet, V.G. saw the concept of Kali as a pen-picture of spiritual practice, spiritual experience and philosophy.

         "Lord Shiva, white in color, lying flat on the ground, represents the Supreme reality which is Absolute-Pure-Consciousness-Bliss, free from all modifications and actions. Kali represents His Power. Kali is the Power of the Divine that is on the point of launching upon creation. When her right toe touches the heart of Lord Shiva, all His Power is transferred to Her and She proceeds to create this universe with all the living and non-living stuff.

        "The unfulfilled desires, lust, greed, anger, the sense of me-the-doer, the inflated ego -- these and many others come in the way of the individual soul trying to merge into the Divine. The individual soul is like the celestial being, pure in nature, benevolent like an angel, and struggling to get out of the clutches of the animal instincts. These baser instincts are portrayed as demons, and the individual soul is stuck. It is overpowered by these baser instincts. In spite of its best efforts, the individual soul cannot escape the onslaught of these baser instincts -- which are demons. The individual soul must seek Divine help. That is when Kali comes in, destroying these demons, and granting liberation to the individual soul.

        "Kali's dark hair stands for Her in-exhaustible power. Her blue-black colour represents Her highest state spiritually. There are 50 skulls in the garland around Her neck. Each skull stands for one alphabet in Sanskrit. These gross alphabets are made out of fine sound patterns. Thus the skulls represent various and subtle notes of sound.

        "The protruding tongue and the blood oozing out, they indicate that one should be careful and be extrovert when going beyond the throat centre. Otherwise, the aspirant will be quiet and may not come down once he goes beyond the Ajna-centre, located between the eyebrows.   

        "The head, cut off from the body, stands for ego. The sword stands for spiritual knowledge -- which alone can wipe out the ego which binds the soul to the body. Once the ego is eliminated, all bondage is over. The individual soul merges in the Supreme Reality.

        "The story of Blood-seed Demon points out that when one attempts to get rid of a single desire, hundreds more spring up in its place. Only through Divine intervention can these desires be removed once and for all."

        As I search other sources, I read of Kali being the one who sets in motion the 'Wheel of Universal Time.' Time is the great destroyer of everything in the material universe, and Kali derives her name from the Sanskrit root word for time – Kal. Just as the color black absorbs all colors into itself, Kali absorbs all the material world back into herself. 

        When viewed in all three of her forms, Kali is united in the roles of the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer. As the Virgin Mother, her form is white. As the Mother who nourishes and sustains, red. When she absorbs the world and its evil – this is her black form. In Kali’s world things appear, blossom for a while, then disappear again. She comprises the vital principles of the visible universe, with its many faces - gracious, cruel, creative, destructive, loving, indifferent - the endless possibility of the active energy at the heart of the world. 

        Kali becomes the counterpart of Shiva the destroyer – neither are negative forces, but rather male and female images epitomizing the destruction of unreality. Time itself becomes an illusion, a second-by-second series of creation/destruction cycles, reality we never see because of flaws in human perception.

        Kali’s historic function is to bring about death of the ego; to this end, there is no element of her pictorial image that does not carry significance.  Naked, clad in sky or space, Kali is free of all illusory covering. Full breasts define her as the Mother, the creation. The chaos out of which she forms the cosmos becomes her disheveled hair, a curtain of illusions. The heads of her fearsome neck garland, fifty letters from the Sanskrit alphabet, represent the source of all wisdom and the fundamental vibrations in the universe. Kali’s girdle is formed of human hands, because men work with their hands and because hands are the principal elements of Karma. The famous three eyes gaze on the past, present and future. Her gleaming white teeth, razor-sharp, symbolize translucent intelligence. These teeth hold back a red tongue which represents rajas, the activating quality of nature.

        Various stories of Kali discuss the four arms which gesture in four different ways. Most agree the left arm holds a severed head which stands for the destruction of the ego. The other left arm carries a sword which cuts the soul from the physical bondage of life. One of right hands banishes fear, while the other demands spiritual courage of the viewer.

        All these elements combine into her eternal form, the form in which she awakens and rejuvenates the supine male prostrate beneath her dancing feet. Even the roar uttered by the goddess upon her birth can be seen as significant. Some stories may define it simply as a savage cry, but it has been interpreted by some as an archetype, which, ‘ whether it takes the form of immediate experience or is expressed through the spoken word, summons up a voice that is stronger than our own. Whoever speaks in primordial images speaks with a thousand voices …’

        Viewing Kali in this manner turns destruction into a positive step of spiritual development. Armed with this knowledge, I can return to Sekhmet’s and Durga/Kali’s myths and begin to compare the symbology to the practical elements of an inner journey. To be continued.........

Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005 at 10:55AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

It is sad but not surprising that there are no comments for this journal entry.

Kali Ma is beyond a mystery to the average mind.

I am personally and Spiritually linked to Kali Ma in all of her various forms and currently working on projects that will bring her image to life.

The majority of people cannot comprehend her and what she symbolizes here on Earth.

She will only reveal herself to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear Truth and Reality. She is not for the unbelievers. She is not for Western European patriarchal minds to comprehend. She is beyond the constraints of man's machinations.

Only the Lord Shiva could be her consort and other half. He himself is a mystery to the average mind and misunderstood.

I thank the author for the above journal entry. I appreciate his comprehension of Kali Ma as well as his ability to articulate it in written form. Only who feels Kali Ma knows Kali Ma.

I am Kali Ma and Kali Ma is me!

Jai Bole nath & Ma Kali
October 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterOM

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