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Kali is the feminine form of kala ("black, dark coloured"). Kala primarily means "black" but also means "time." Kali means "the black one" and also "time" or "beyond time." Kali is strongly associated with Shiva, and Shaivas derive her feminine name from the masculine Kala (an epithet of Shiva). A nineteenth-century Sanskrit dictionary, the Shabdakalpadrum, states: ???? ???? ? ???? ??????? - ???? ? kala? siva? ? tasya patniti kali - "Shiva is Kala, thus, his wife is Kali."
Kali's association with black stands in contrast to her consort, Shiva, whose body is covered by the white ashes of the cremation ground (Sanskrit: smasana) in which he meditates, and with which Kali is also associated, as smasana-kali.
Kali is frequently confused with the word kali, as in Kali Yuga or the demon Kali. However, the words Kali ("black, time") and kali ("weak, crude, inarticulate") are etymologically unrelated, and the goddess Kali is not associated with Kali Yuga.
Hugh Urban notes that although the word Kali appears as early as the Atharva Veda, the first use of it as a proper name is in the Kathaka Grhya Sutra (19.7). Kali is the name of one of the seven tongues of Agni, the [Rigvedic] God of Fire, in the Mundaka Upanishad (2:4), but it is unlikely that this refers to the goddess. The first appearance of Kali in her present form is in the Sauptika Parvan of the Mahabharata (10.8.64). She is called Kalaratri (literally, "black night") and appears to the Pandava soldiers in dreams, until finally she appears amidst the fighting during an attack by Drona's son Ashwatthama. She most famously appears in the sixth century Devi Mahatmyam as one of the shaktis of Mahadevi, and defeats the demon Raktabija ("Bloodseed"). The tenth-century Kalika Purana venerates Kali as the ultimate reality or Brahman.
According to David Kinsley, Kali is first mentioned in Hinduism as a
distinct goddess around 600 CE, and these texts "usually place her on
the periphery of Hindu society or on the battlefield." She is often regarded as the Shakti of Shiva, and is closely associated with him in various Puranas. The Kalika Purana depicts her as the "Adi Shakti" (Fundamental Power) and "Para Prakriti" or beyond nature.
Goddesses play an important role in the study and practice of Tantra Yoga, and are affirmed to be as central to discerning the nature of reality as are the male deities. Although Parvati is often said to be the recipient and student of Shiva's wisdom in the form of Tantras, it is Kali who seems to dominate much of the Tantric iconography, texts, and rituals. In many sources Kali is praised as the highest reality or greatest of all deities. The Nirvana-tantra says the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva all arise from her like bubbles in the sea, ceaselessly arising and passing away, leaving their original source unchanged. The Niruttara-tantra and the Picchila-tantra declare all of Kali's mantras to be the greatest and the Yogini-tantra, Kamakhya-tantra and the Niruttara-tantra all proclaim Kali vidyas (manifestations of Mahadevi, or "divinity itself"). They declare her to be an essence of her own form (svarupa) of the Mahadevi.
In the Mahanirvana-tantra, Kali is one of the epithets for the primordial sakti, and in one passage Shiva praises her:
The figure of Kali conveys death, destruction, and the consuming aspects of reality. As such, she is also a "forbidden thing", or even death itself. In the Pancatattva ritual, the sadhaka boldly seeks to confront Kali, and thereby assimilates and transforms her into a vehicle of salvation. This is clear in the work of the Karpuradi-stotra, a short praise to Kali describing the Pancatattva ritual unto her, performed on cremation grounds. (Samahana-sadhana)
The Karpuradi-stotra clearly indicates that Kali is more than a terrible, vicious, slayer of demons who serves Durga or Shiva. Here, she is identified as the supreme mistress of the universe, associated with the five elements. In union with Lord Shiva, who is said to be her spouse, she creates and destroys worlds. Her appearance also takes a different turn, befitting her role as ruler of the world and object of meditation. In contrast to her terrible aspects, she takes on hints of a more benign dimension. She is described as young and beautiful, has a gentle smile, and makes gestures with her two right hands to dispel any fear and offer boons. The more positive features exposed offer the distillation of divine wrath into a goddess of salvation, who rids the sadhaka of fear. Here, Kali appears as a symbol of triumph over death.
One of the most well respected author Dr. David Frawley, also known
as Vamdeva Shastri, has explained the meaning of Beeja Mantra of Ma
(Mother) Kali in a lucid manner. The mantra is "AUM AIM HREEM KLEEM
CHAMUNDAYE VICHCHE SWAHA |" Usually this mantra is sung during Bali or
animal slaughter. But it has a dominating knowledge aspect to it, which
is now very well understood in various world literatures.
Aum — Prayer; Aim — Symbolic of knowledge by Goddess Saraswati; Hreem — Symbolism of transformation; Kleem — Symbolism of confidence or strength; Chamundaye Vichche — Decapitation (Considered as fall of EGO) and Swaha — Sacrifice or Yajna prayer.
This interpretation states that Goddess Kali through knowledge brings transformation in a devotee by excising the Ego, and then blesses the devotee with enormous strength and confidence.
So by this interpretation, animal slaughter is not required for
prayering Goddess Kali as Dravya Yajna (material sacrifice). Prayers can
be offered to Goddess Kali through Pure Knowledge or Gyan Yajna that is
Kali is also a central figure in late medieval Bengali devotional literature, with such devotees as Ramprasad Sen (1718–75). With the exception of being associated with Parvati as Shiva's consort, Kali is rarely pictured in Hindu mythology and iconography as a motherly figure until Bengali devotions beginning in the early eighteenth century. Even in Bengali tradition her appearance and habits change little, if at all.
The Tantric approach to Kali is to display courage by confronting her on cremation grounds in the dead of night, despite her terrible appearance. In contrast, the Bengali devotee appropriates Kali's teachings adopting the attitude of a child, coming to love her unreservedly. In both cases, the goal of the devotee is to become reconciled with death and to learn acceptance of the way that things are. These themes are well addressed in Ramprasad's work.
Ramprasad comments in many of his other songs that Kali is indifferent to his wellbeing, causes him to suffer, brings his worldly desires to nothing and his worldly goods to ruin. He also states that she does not behave like a mother should and that she ignores his pleas:
To be a child of Kali, Ramprasad asserts, is to be denied of earthly delights and pleasures. Kali is said to refrain from giving that which is expected. To the devotee, it is perhaps her very refusal to do so that enables her devotees to reflect on dimensions of themselves and of reality that go beyond the material world.
A significant portion of Bengali devotional music features Kali as its central theme and is known as Shyama Sangeet ("Music of the Night"). Mostly sung by male vocalists, today even women have taken to this form of music. One of the finest singers of Shyama Sangeet is Pannalal Bhattacharya.
In a unique form of Kali worship, Shantipur worships Kali in the form of a hand painted image of the deity known as Poteshwari (meaning the deity drawn on a piece of cloth).
Joined: 11 December 2010
In Kali's most famous myth, Durga and her assistants, the Matrikas, wound the demon Raktabija, in various ways and with a variety of weapons in an attempt to destroy him. They soon find that they have worsened the situation for with every drop of blood that is spilt from Raktabija he reproduces a clone of himself. The battlefield becomes increasingly filled with his duplicates. Durga, in need of help, summons Kali to combat the demons. It is said, in some versions, that Goddess Durga actually assumes the form of Goddess Kali at this time.
The Devi Mahatmyam describes:
Out of the surface of her (Durga's) forehead, fierce with frown, issued suddenly Kali of terrible countenance, armed with a sword and noose. Bearing the strange khatvanga (skull-topped staff ), decorated with a garland of skulls, clad in a tiger's skin, very appalling owing to her emaciated flesh, with gaping mouth, fearful with her tongue lolling out, having deep reddish eyes, filling the regions of the sky with her roars, falling upon impetuously and slaughtering the great asuras in that army, she devoured those hordes of the foes of the devas.
Kali destroys Raktabija by sucking the blood from his body and putting the many Raktabija duplicates in her gaping mouth. Pleased with her victory, Kali then dances on the field of battle, stepping on the corpses of the slain. Her consort Shiva lies among the dead beneath her feet, a representation of Kali commonly seen in her iconography as Daksinakali.
In the Devi Mahatmya version of this story, Kali is also described as a Matrika and as a Shakti or power of Devi. She is given the epithet Ca?u??a (Chamunda), i.e. the slayer of the demons Chanda and Munda. Chamunda is very often identified with Kali and is very much like her in appearance and habit.
In her most famous pose as Daksinakali, it is said that Kali, becoming drunk on the blood of her victims on the battlefield, dances with destructive frenzy. In her fury she fails to see the body of her husband, Shiva, who lies among the corpses on the battlefield. Ultimately the cries of Shiva attract Kali's attention, calming her fury. As a sign of her shame at having disrespected her husband in such a fashion, Kali sticks out her tongue. However, some sources state that this interpretation is a later version of the symbolism of the tongue: in tantric contexts, the tongue is seen to denote the element (guna) of rajas (energy and action) controlled by sattva, spiritual and godly creatures who served as assassins.
If Kali steps with right foot and holds sword in left hand she is considered to be Dakshina Kali. Dakshina Kali Temple has important religious associations with Jagannath Temple and it is believed that Daksinakali is the guardian of the kitchen of the Lord Jagannath Temple. Puranic tradition says that in Puri, Lord Jagannath is regarded as Daksinakalika. Goddess Dakshinakali plays an important role in the 'Niti' of Saptapuri Amavasya.
One South Indian tradition tells of a dance contest between Shiva and Kali. After defeating the two demons Sumbha and Nisumbha, Kali takes up residence in a forest. With fierce companions she terrorizes the surrounding area. One of Shiva's devotees becomes distracted while performing austerities, and asks Shiva to rid the forest of the destructive goddess. When Shiva arrives, Kali threatens him, claiming the territory as her own. Shiva challenges Kali to a dance contest, and defeats her when she is unable to perform the energetic Tandava dance. Although in this case Kali is defeated, and is forced to control her disruptive habits, there are very few other images or other myths depicting her in such a manner.
Joined: 11 December 2010
The gods were now in a quandary. Although Kali had destroyed their enemies, they themselves could not return to their homes. They were terrified that she would attack them as well. To counter the bloodlust within his consort, Lord Shiv devised a plan. He lay down before her. When she unknowingly stepped on him in the heat of the moment, she came to her senses and repented for her transgression. It is to celebrate this occasion that the Kali pooja is performed.
Joined: 11 December 2010
Kali puja (like Durga Puja) worshipers honor goddess Kali in their homes in the form of clay idols and in pandals (temporary shrines or open pavilions). She is worshipped at night with Tantric rites and mantras. She is prescribed offerings of red hibiscus flowers, animal blood in a skull, sweets, rice and lentils, fish and meat. It is prescribed that a worshipper should meditate throughout the night until dawn. Homes may also practice rites in the Brahmanical (mainstream Hindu-style, non-Tantric) tradition with ritual dressing of Kali in her form as Adya Shakti Kali. Animals are ritually sacrificed on Kali Puja day and offered to the goddess. A celebration of Kali Puja in Kolkata is also held in a large cremation ground where she is believed to dwell.
The pandals also house images of god Shiva - the consort of Kali, Ramakrishna and Bamakhepa- two famous Bengali Kali devotees along with scenes from mythology of Kali and her various forms along with Mahavidyas, sometimes considered as the "ten Kalis". The Mahavidyas is a group of ten Tantric goddesses headed by Kali. People visit these pandals throughout the night. Kali Puja is also the time for magic shows and theatre, fireworks. Recent custom involves drinking wine.
In the Kalighat Temple in Kolkata, Kali is worshipped as Lakshmi on this day so as to reflect an essence of Vaishnava Haldars on Kali worship. The temple is visited by thousands of devotees who offer animal sacrifices to the goddess. Another famous temple dedicated to Kali in Kolkata is Dakshineswar Kali Temple. The famous Kali devotee Ramakrishna was a priest at this temple. The celebrations have changed little from his time.Firework
Joined: 23 October 2010
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