Tag Archive: gauri


Goddess Gujeswari

“Anapurnadevi – Hindu Goddess of Abundance” by Geoglyphiks

“Gujeswari’s themes are Earth, water, abundance, offering and prayer. Her symbol is a bowl of water. Gujeswari is a potent Nepalese Goddess of Earth and all its bounty, and today is Her festival day, known as Gujeswari Jatra. In many temples, the Goddess’s presence is represented by a simple bowl of water, the life-giving substance and purifier of body, mind and spirit.

Buddhists and Hindus in this region honor the mother Goddess Gujeswari today by giving Her offerings, usually preceded by fasting and prayer.  Follow this example, and put a bowl of fresh water on your altar or a special place where it won’t be disturbed for the day. If physically feasible, abstain from eating one meal today to honor the Earth and Gujeswari’s goodness by returning (or preserving) some of that bounty. Otherwise, simply abstain from a favorite food for the day as a kind of sacred sacrifice.

At the end of the day, just before you go to bed, sprinkle the water from the bowl around your living space. First, go counter-clockwise to banish negative energy that hinders free-flowing blessings. Then go clockwise, allowing Gujeswari’s water to cleanse and renew the ambiance in every room.  If you have some left over, sprinkle your pets (for health), your car (for safety in travel), and children’s beds (to protect them from nightmares), and dab some on mechanical objects to keep them working smoothly.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

I really couldn’t find anything on today’s Goddess or the festival; it seems as if this Goddess and festival are some big secret.  The only information I could find was on a temple called Guhyeshwari Temple, that I had initially assumed would be dedicated to Her.  “Guhyeshwari Temple, also spelled Guheswari or Guhjeshwari, is one of the revered holy temples in KathmanduNepal. This temple is dedicated to Adi Shakti. This refers to the popular legend where Shiva distressed was carrying the corpse of Devi Sati and Vishnu annihilated it with his Sudarshan Chakra. Shiva later declared the 51 such places where Devi Sati’s body parts fell to be worshipped as the Shakti Peethas and meditated at all these places as various forms of Bhairavas. The place where Devi Sati’s knees fell is Guheswari in Kathmandu. In Nepal the form of Shakti is Mahashira and the form of Bhairava is Kapali. King Pratap Malla built this temple in the 17th century.

The temple name originates from guhya (cave) and ishwari (goddess). Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter this temple.

Guheswari Temple is located near Pashupatinath Temple. It represents female force.” [1]

  

In another piece I read on nepal.com, it states: “The two main religions in Nepal are Hinduism and Buddhism and very often worshipers from the two faiths intermingle at temples and shrines. This sort of interfaith is practiced throughout the country though really each person is worshiping his or her equivalent of the god to which the temple or shrine is dedicated. There are a few exceptions to this intermingling of believers though and the Guheswari Temple is one of them. The temple is strictly a Hindu temple and all non-Hindus – whether the person is Christian, Buddhist or from some other faith – are not allowed access to the temple courtyard let alone the temple itself.

The Guheswari Temple in Nepal is a very sacred temple which is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati. The name ‘Guheswari’ is sometimes also spelled ‘Guhyeshwari’ or ‘Guhjeshwari’. The temple has a strong sexual connotation that is not only linked to its fabled beginning but also to its name. According to legend the wife of Lord Shiva, Parvati, sacrificed Her life by burning Herself to death in Her father’s ritual fire. Her distressed husband then chose to wander the world, carrying the body of his dead wife as he did so. As he passed over the spot where the Guheswari Temple is located today it is said that Her ‘yoni’, or female sex symbol, fell to the earth. In the 1653 King Pratap Malla saw fit to restore the magnificent Gushewari Temple. This temple represented the female force that Parvati was the very embodiment of.

Guhyeshwari (Guhjeshwari) Temple by goutammitra

The Guheswari Temple is located in Kathmandu not far from the Pashupatinath Temple. The actual temple does not house any images of the legendary Goddess but there are a lot of other things here worth seeing. The building is ornate and beautiful and the worship of the people here is usually very sincere and touching. Many believe this to be the temple to go to in order to pray for marital fidelity and a lot of different Hindus will make the trip here to ensure that their marriages do not suffer.” [2]

Several other articles I read also said that this is where Her yoni had fallen.  This makes more sense to me as when you break Guheswari down: guhya (cave) and ishwari (goddess) – the cave is a very earthy and primordial symbol of the womb; which is exclusively female – making it a female force.   Also, I found that “devotees offer wine, eggs etc. in a holy orifice which has been regarded as the place of  worship since times immemorial.” [3]  Again, eggs being a very feminine symbol and this holy orifice symbolizing the yoni.

“Yoni” by ~aerphis

So, in conclusion, I do not believe that Gujeswari is a Goddess per se, but more of a primal force, aspect or attribute of Parvati, who is considered as complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti (who is considered to be truly spirit without form – the Great Divine Mother Goddess, the source of all other Goddesses).  Good stuff to wrap your head around, eh?

 

 

 

Sources:

Geneeyuss-placesofpilgrimageofnepal.blogspot.com, “GUHESWARI TEMPLE“.

Nepal.com, “Guheswari Temple“.

Wikipedia, “Guhyeshwari Temple“.

 

Suggested Links:

Nkdedhann.com, “List of 51 Shakti Peetha of Goddess Durga“.

Wikipedia, “Adi Parashakti“.

Wikipedia, “Mother Goddess [Hinduism]“.

Goddess Durga

“Durga’s themes are power over evil and negativity, knowledge and sustenance. Her symbols are fire, yellow-colored items, lions, rice bowls and spoons.  The Hindu warrior Goddess Durga is typically depicted as a beautiful woman with ten arms that bear divine weapons to protect all that is sacred – including you. Her role in Indian mythology is so powerful that the national anthem sings Her praises as a guardian. According to the stories, Durga overpowered the great demon who threatened to destroy not only the earth but the gods themselves.

Durga’s festival (Durga puja or Durgotsava) comes during the early fall, when the skies are growing darker. As this happens, she offers to zealously defend goodness against any malevolence that dwells in those figurative shadows.  If there is a special person or project that you want protected, pray for Durga’s aid today. Light a yellow candle (or any candle) and say:

‘Durga, protectress and guardian
Watch over (person, situation or project)
with all due diligence
Take the sword of truth
the power of justice
and the light of decency
to stand guard against any storms that come
So be it.’

Blow out the candle and relight it anytime you need safety.

To encourage Durga’s providence, set a bowl of rice on your altar with a spoon today. This is the symbol of Annapoorna, an aspect of Durga who supplies daily food.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“All Goddesses in Hindu belief are ultimately the same Goddess, often called simply ‘the Goddess’ or ‘Devi.’ But She appears in different forms with different names. One of the fiercest of Devi’s forms is Durga. She was also the eldest: during the primordial war between gods and antigods, Durga was the first manifestation of Goddess-energy. The war was a standoff; neither side was winning, and the battles dragged on without victory. Almost hopeless, the gods gathered and concentrated their energies. Flames sprang from their mouths and formed Durga, the first female divinity in the universe. Although produced by the gods, the Goddess was stronger than any of them, or all of them together, and She was fiercely eager to fight.

Recognizing Her power, the gods handed their weapons to Durga. She mounted a lion to ride toward the antigods’ chief, the demon Mahisa. That magical being, terrified of this new apparition, used his powers to assume one fearsome form after another. Still the Goddess advanced, until finally, as the demon assumed the form of a buffalo, Durga slaughtered him. The demon nonetheless tried to escape through the dying beast’s mouth, but Durga caught him by the hair and butchered him, thereby freeing the earth for the gods to inhabit.

The Goddess in this form not only symbolizes the fierce power of the combat against evil but also the rule of the intellectual sphere, for Durga (‘unapproachable’) represents the end of all things; to seek to understand Her is to engage in the most powerful intellectual exploration possible” (Monaghan, p. 106 – 107).

Shri Gyan Rajhans explains the Mother Goddess Durga and Her symbolism: “The word ‘Durga’ in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of ‘Durga’ is ‘Durgatinashini,’ which literally translates into ‘the one who eliminates sufferings.’ Thus, Hindus believe that Goddess Durga protects Her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.

 The Many Forms of Durga

There are many incarnations of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari, et al. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered Her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon ‘Mahishasur‘. Her nine appellations are Skondamata, Kusumanda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri, Brahmacharini, Maha Gauri, Katyayani, Chandraghanta and Siddhidatri.

Durga’s Many Arms

Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands. These represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism. This suggests that She protects the devotees from all directions.

Durga’s Three Eyes

Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred to as ‘Triyambake’ meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).

Durga’s Vehicle – the Lion

The lion represents power, will and determination. Mother Durga riding the lion symbolizes Her mastery over all these qualities. This suggests to the devotee that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego.

 

Durga’s Many Weapons

  • The conch shell in Durga’s hand symbolizes the ‘Pranava’ or the mystic word ‘Om’, which indicates Her holding on to God in the form of sound.
  • The bow and arrows represent energy. By holding both the bow and arrows in one hand ‘Mother Durga’ is indicating Her control over both aspects of energy – potential and kinetic.
  • The thunderbolt signifies firmness. The devotee of Durga must be firm like thunderbolt in one’s convictions. Like the thunderbolt that can break anything against which it strikes, without being affected itself, the devotee needs to attack a challenge without losing his confidence.
  • The lotus in Durga’s hand is not in fully bloomed, It symbolizing certainty of success but not finality. The lotus in Sanskrit is called ‘pankaja’ which means born of mud. Thus, lotus stands for the continuous evolution of the spiritual quality of devotees amidst the worldly mud of lust and greed.
  • The ‘Sudarshan-Chakra’ or beautiful discus, which spins around the index finger of the Goddess, while not touching it, signifies that the entire world is subservient to the will of Durga and is at Her command. She uses this unfailing weapon to destroy evil and produce an environment conducive to the growth of righteousness.
  • The sword that Durga holds in one of Her hands symbolizes knowledge, which has the sharpness of a sword. Knowledge which is free from all doubts, is symbolized by the shine of the sword.
  • Durga’s trident or ‘trishul’ is a symbol of three qualities – Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity) – and she is remover of all the three types of miseries – physical, mental and spiritual.

Devi Durga stands on a lion in a fearless pose of ‘Abhay Mudra’, signifying assurance of freedom from fear. The universal mother seems to be saying to all Her devotees: ‘Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release thee from all fears’. [1]

 

 

Here is a beautiful rendition of the Shree Durga Chalisa for your listening and viewing pleasure

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Durga”.

Rajhans, Shri Gyan. About.com – Hinduism, “The Goddess Durga“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Dollsofindia.com,Goddess Durga: the Female Form as the Supreme Being“.

Jade. Order of the White Moon, “Durga“.

Koausa.org, “Goddess Durga“.

Kumar, Nitin. Exoticindiaart.com, “Goddess Durga – Narrative Art of Warrior Goddess – Exotic India Art“.

Laka. Order of the White Moon, “Durga“.

Wikipedia, “Durga“.

Goddess Parvati

“Parvati’s themes are fertility, femininity, cleansing and devotion. Her symbols are lotus, elephants and dance.  The celebrated Hindu Goddess of women is the center of festivities in Nepal today. Parvati’s domain is that of faithful companionship and fertility as She is the consort of Shiva. Art often shows Parvati dancing in the company of Shiva or with an elephant’s head.

Try following Nepalese custom. Wash your hands and feet with henna (or henna-based soap product) for Parvati’s productive energy. Or, go out and swing on a swing set singing sacred songs; this draws Parvati to you.

Another way to invoke Parvati is by giving a special woman in your life (a friend, lover, relative, etc.) a gift of thankfulness for her companionship. The Goddess exists within that friendship and will bless the relationship. Take a ritual bath to cleanse yourself of negativity and problems of the last year. Water offerings are also a suitable gift to the Goddess. Pour a little bit on the ground and then drink some to internalize any of Her qualities that you need.

Wearing fine clothing and flowers is also customary, because all things of beauty please Parvati. So get out your finery for your celebrations and put on a boutonniere! Or wear something with a flower pattern to draw Parvati close to your side.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“One of the greatest Goddesses of India is the daughter of the Himalayas, known as Uma, Gauri, and sometimes Shakti (‘energy’).  She was the consort and enlivening force of Shiva, the lord of life’s dance, and many myths surround Her.

She gained Shiva’s attention by practicing magical asceticism until She had such power that he could not resist Her.  Thereafter he spent this time sexually pleasing the Goddess.  Once, when interrupted before She was satisfied, Parvati cursed the gods so that their consorts were barren but they themselves were pregnant.  They were most miserable with the affliction, until Shiva allowed them to vomit up the semen that had impregnated them.

Parvati had one son of Her own.  It was no thanks to Her spouse, for Shiva did not want to be bothered with children.  As they argued about it one day, Parvati cried out that She wanted a child to hold and caress. Shiva teased Her, ripping a piece of Her skirt and handing it to Her, telling Her to fondle that.  Hurt and betrayed, Parvati grasped the red cloth to Her breast, and – touching the nipples of the mother Goddess – the cloth took form and began to nurse.  Thus was Ganesha, the benevolent god, born.  But Shiva, angry and jealous, found an excuse to behead the child, saying that he had slept in a ritually incorrect way.  Parvati was desperate with grief, and Shiva, ashamed, told Her he would find the boy another head.  The only one he was able to locate – Parvati must have received this news suspiciously – was an elephant’s.  And so Ganesha was reborn half human, half elephant.

Shiva’s Shakti is also called Kali and Durga, for She is at times a fierce form of femininity.  One legend explains how the Goddess divided Herself.  Originally, it seems, She had dark skin, about which Shiva teased Her once too often.  Furious at him – for She felt less than beautiful, wishing that Her skin was golden like his – She set off for the mountains, intending again to practice asceticism until She gained Her desire.  Ganesha accompanied Her; She left Viraka, Shiva’s attendant, to guard his bedroom so that he didn’t enjoy other women’s company during Her absence.  But a demon disguised as Parvati attempted to kill Shiva.  He lured the god to bed after loading his illusory vagina with real nails.  Shiva recognizing the deceit, put a sword on his penis and dispatched the demon.

Parvati’s informants spread the word that a woman had been seen entering Shiva’s bedroom, and Parvati exploded with anger.  Her anger shot out of Her mouth in the form of a lion; She cursed the false guardian Viraka to become a rock.  Then She continued practicing yoga until Brahma took pity on Her and asked Her what She wished.  When She said She wanted a pure golden skin, he blessed Her.  From Her body sprang another Goddess, one ugly and black, usually named Kali.

Now golden and beautiful, Parvati started home.  Viraka, still on guard, refused to let Her enter, not recognizing the Goddess in Her new skin.  Realizing that She made a mistake in cursing him – but unable, so powerful are a Goddess’ words, to recall Her ill wish – Parvati mitigated it by allowing him to be reborn as a girl named Rock” (Monaghan, p. 248 – 249).

“Parvati represents the part of ourselves that creatively brings forth nourishment even in the midst of what seems to be rejection and disapproval. She is a wonderful affirmation that there are no limits to what a woman can do when she uses her spiritual energy in the pursuit of any goal she chooses.  When we embrace love, Parvati is there to bless us.” [1]

 

 

 
Sources:

Goddessgift.com, “Parvati: The Hindu Goddess of Love and Devotion“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Parvati”.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Goddessparvati.com, “Goddess Parvati“.

Kumar, Nitin. Exoticindiaart.com, “Parvati the Love Goddess: Tales of Marriage and Devotion in Art and Mythology“.

Lotussculpture.com, “Hindu Goddess Parvati – Daughter of the Mountain“.

Soulcurrymagazine.com, “Goddess Parvati – Wife of Lord Shiva“.

Wikipedia, “Parvati“.

Goddess Gauri

Maha Gauri

“Gauri’s themes are spring, protection, fertility, harvest, beauty, humor, youthfulness, wishes and equality.  Her symbols are balsam, golden-colored items, milk, mirrors and lions.  This fertile Hindu Goddess extends spring-like youth, beauty and tenderness into our lives. Gauri has a sympathetic ear for all human needs and wishes. In works of art She is depicted as a fair maiden, attended by lions and bearing wild balsam and a mirror. She was born of a milky sea, and Her name translates as ‘golden one’, indicating a connection with the sun. She is offered rice to ensure a good rice crop.

Holi is India’s most colorful festival, filled with Gauri’s equitable spirit. It celebrates an epic tale in which the sun (Gauri) is freed from a god’s mouth by getting him to laugh! Customarily, caste restrictions are shed today in order for people to simply have fun. Everyone squirts colored water at one another, and by the end of the day, no one can tell who is a servant and who is a king! This translates into a good-humored water-balloon toss. Focus on a goal while you play. When a balloon breaks, it releases Gauri’s youthful joy and productivity into your life.

Hindu custom suggests eating sweets to generate Gauri’s beauty and pleasantness in your spirit today. Or, pour Her a libation of milk while making a wish for something you’d like to ‘harvest’ in your life. Hang balsam in your home to foster Gauri’s fairness in your family’s interactions.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Goddess Gauri is one of the manifestations of Goddess Parvati.  She is the divine energy, Mother Goddess.  She is considered as a perfect wife for Her husband, Lord Shiva.  She is a clear representation of purity and austerity.  She is the Kanya (Kumari or unmarried girl) who performed severe tapas (penance) to marry Lord Shiva.  After the conclusion of Her ferocious form Goddess Kali, She observed a severe penance to get rid of Her black complexion.

In another version I read, Parvati first sought out Shiva to seduce him, Shiva found Her dark skin to be unattractive. Parvati retreated into the forest, where She lived a very austere life, developing Her spiritual powers. Brahma took notice of Parvati’s mastery of Her physical self, and decided to grant Her one wish. Parvati asked that Her dark skin be taken away, so that Shiva would love Her. Brahma took the darkness and created the Goddess Kali with it, leaving Parvati with golden skin, and She became the Goddess Gauri.   Because of Her golden color, She is associated with rice and grains, taking on the role of a fertility Goddess.

Gauri Worshipping Lord Shiva

Gowri Puja is an important ritual during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.  Married women worship Goddess Gowri with Sindoor or kumkum for their sowbhagyam (marital bliss).  Unmarried girls worship Her in order to get virtuous husbands.  One prays to Goddess Gauri because according to Puranas, She is the Divine Mother and the origin of the Universe.  Mother Goddess, Shakti, has various celestial manifestations like Goddess Sri Raja Rajeshwari, Goddess Gauri, Lalitha Tripura Sundari Devi, etc. [1][2][3]

 

 

Sources:

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Gauri“.

The Hindu Universe, “Goddess Gauri“.

Hindupad, Goddess Gauri – Gowri Devi“.

Goddess Kali

“Kali” by Lisa Iris

“Kali’s themes are rebirth, cycles, joy, courage, hope, cleansing and change.  Her symbols are flowers, dance, iron, swords, peacock feathers and honey.  Kali, a Hindu Goddess whose name means ‘time’, is the genetrix of natural forces that either build or destroy. Even in destruction, however, She reminds us that good really can come of bad situations. If you find your hopes and dreams have been crushed, Kali can change the cycle and produce life out of nothingness. Where there is sorrow, She dances to bring joy. Where there is fear, She dances in courage.

During the Festival of Shiva, or Maha Shivratri, Hindus gather at Shiva’s temples to honor this celestial dance of creation, and Kali dances with them in spirit. Beforehand, they fast and bathe in holy waters for purification. Doing similarly (in your tub or shower) will purge your body and soul of negative influences. Add some flower petals or sweet perfume tot the bath to invoke Kali’s power.

To invoke Kali’s assistance in bringing new life to stagnant projects or ruined goals, leave her an offering of honey or flowers, and make this Kali amulet: Take any black cloth and wrap it around a flower dabbed with a drop of honey, saying:

 ‘Kali, turn, dance, and change
Fate rearrange
End the devastation and strife
what was dead return to life.’

Carry this with you until the situation changes, then bury it with thankfulness.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Who can comprehend the Divine Paradox of Mother Kali?  Fierce, black in color, large, shimmering eyes, destructive, triumphantly smiling amidst the slaughter of billions of demons, wearing a necklace of skulls and a skirt of severed arms, glowing effulgently like the moon in the night sky, holding the head of a demon, a Trident that flashes like lightning and a knife etched with sacred mantras and infused with Divine Shakti, Kali stands peaceful and content, suffused with the fragrances of jasmine, rose and sandalwood!

Goddess Kali

Goddess Kali is equated with the eternal night, is the transcendent power of time, and is the consort of the god Shiva. It is believed that its Shiva who destroys the world, and Kali is the power or energy with which Shiva acts. Therefore, Kali is Shiva’s Shakti, without which Shiva could not act. Frequently, those not comprehending Her many roles in life call Kali the Goddess of death and destruction.  It is partly correct to say Kali is a Goddess of death, but She brings the death of the ego as the illusory self-centered view of reality. Nowhere in the Hindu stories is She seen killing anything but demons nor is She associated specifically with the process of human dying like the Hindu god Yama (who really is the god of death). It is true that both Kali and Shiva are said to inhabit cremation grounds and devotees often go to these places to meditate. This is not to worship death but rather it is to overcome the I-am-the-body idea by reinforcing the awareness that the body is a temporary condition. Shiva and Kali are said to inhabit these places because it is our attachment to the body that gives rise to the ego. Shiva and Kali grant liberation by removing the illusion of the ego. Thus we are the eternal I AM and not the body. This is underscored by the scene of the cremation grounds.

According to Hindu myth, The Goddess Kali is an incarnation of Parvati. She assumed this form in order to vanquish the demon Raktabija, whose name means “the seed of blood”. The gods could not kill the demon Raktabija because he had received from Brahma the boon of being born anew a one thousand times more powerful than before, each time a drop of his blood was shed. Every drop of his blood that touched the ground transformed itself into another and more powerful Raktabija. Within a few minutes of striking this demon the entire battlefield covered with millions of Raktabija clones. In despair, the gods turned to Shiva. But Shiva was lost in meditation at the time and the gods were afraid to disturb him. Hence they pleaded with his consort Parvati for Her assistance.

“Kali” by maigo-no-kirin

The Goddess immediately set out to do battle with this dreaded demon in the form of Kali or “the Black One”. Her eyes were red, Her complexion was dark, Her features gaunt, Her hair unbound, and Her teeth sharp like fangs. As Kali came in to do battle, Raktabija experienced fear for the first time in his demonic heart. Kali ordered the gods to attack Raktabija. She then spread Her tongue to cover the battlefield preventing even a single drop of Raktabija’s blood from falling on the group. Thus, She prevented Raktabija from reproducing himself and the gods were able to slay the demon. Another form of the legend says that Kali pierced Raktabija with a spear, and at once stuck Her lips to the wound to drink all the blood as it gushed out of the body, thus preventing Raktabija from reproducing himself.

Drunk on Raktabija’s blood, Kali ran across the cosmos killing anyone who dared cross Her path. She adorned herself with the heads, limbs and entrails of her victim. The gods were witnessing the balance of the universe being shattered. As a last resort they had to rouse Shiva from his meditation. To pacify Her, Shiva threw himself under Her feet. This stopped the Goddess. She calmed down, embraced Her husband, shed Her ferocious form to became Gauri, “the Fair one”.

Kali intends Her bloody deeds and destruction for the protection of the good. She may get carried away by Her gruesome acts but She is not evil. Kali’s destructive energies on the highest level are seen as a vehicle of salvation and ultimate transformation.  She destroys only to recreate, and what She destroys is sin, ignorance and decay. The Goddess Kali is represented as black in color. Black in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit is kaala –the feminine form is kali – so She is Kali, the black one. Black is a symbol of The Infinite and the seed stage of all colors. The Goddess Kali remains in a state of inconceivable darkness that transcends words and mind. Within Her blackness is the dazzling brilliance of illumination. Kali’s blackness symbolizes Her all-embracing, comprehensive nature, because black is the color in which all the colors merge; black absorbs and dissolves them.

Kali’s nudity has powerful meaning. In many instances She is described as garbed in space or sky clad. In Her absolute, primordial nakedness She is free from all covering of illusion. She is Nature (Prakriti in Sanskrit), stripped of ‘clothes’. It symbolizes that She is completely beyond name and form, completely beyond the effects of maya (illusion). Her nudity is said to represent totally illumined consciousness, unaffected by maya. Kali is the bright fire of truth, which cannot be hidden by the clothes of ignorance. Such truth simply burns them away.

“Kali” by Dazy-Girl

She is full-breasted; Her motherhood is a ceaseless creation. Her disheveled hair forms a curtain of illusion, the fabric of space – time which organizes matter out of the chaotic sea of quantum-foam. Her garland of fifty human heads, each representing one of the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, symbolizes the repository of knowledge and wisdom. She wears a girdle of severed human hands – hands that are the principal instruments of work and so signify the action of karma. Thus the binding effects of this karma have been overcome, severed, as it were, by devotion to Kali. She has blessed the devotee by cutting him free from the cycle of karma. Her white teeth are symbolic of purity (Sans. Sattva), and Her lolling tongue which is red dramatically depicts the fact that She consumes all things and denotes the act of tasting or enjoying what society regards as forbidden (i.e. Her indiscriminate enjoyment of all the world’s “flavors”).

Kali’s four arms represent the complete circle of creation and destruction, which is contained within her. She represents the inherent creative and destructive rhythms of the cosmos. Her right hands, making the mudras of “fear not” and conferring boons, represent the creative aspect of Kali, while the left hands, holding a bloodied sword and a severed head represent Her destructive aspect. The bloodied sword and severed head symbolize the destruction of ignorance and the dawning of knowledge. The sword is the sword of knowledge, that cuts the knots of ignorance and destroys false consciousness (the severed head). Kali opens the gates of freedom with this sword, having cut the eight bonds that bind human beings. Finally Her three eyes represent the sun, moon, and fire, with which She is able to observe the three modes of time: past, present and future. This attribute is also the origin of the name Kali, which is the feminine form of ‘Kala’, the Sanskrit term for Time.

Kali is considered to be the most fully realized of all the Dark Goddesses, a great and powerful black earth Mother Goddess capable of terrible destruction and represents the most powerful form of the female forces in the Universe. Worship of the Goddess Kali is largely an attempt to appease Her and avert Her wrath. Her followers gave her offerings of blood and flesh, which was important in Her worship, just as blood sacrifice was important in worship of the early Biblical God, who commanded that the blood must be poured on his alters (Exodus 29:16) for the remission of sins (Numbers 18:9).  As mistress of blood, She presides over the mysteries of both life and death.  Regardless, Her followers still found Her to be a powerful warrior Goddess and found Her greatest strength to be that of a protector.

Kali is not always thought of as a Dark Goddess.  Despite Kali’s origins in battle, She evolved to a full-fledged symbol of Mother Nature in Her creative, nurturing and devouring aspects. Some groups of people, unfamiliar with the precepts of Hinduism, see Kali as a satanic demon probably because of tales of her being worshipped by dacoits and other such people indulging evil acts. By not understanding the story behind Mother Kali it is easy to misinterpret Her iconography. In the same way one could say that Christianity is a religion of death, destruction and cannibalism in which the practitioners drink the blood of Jesus and eat his flesh.  Of course, we know this is not the proper understanding of the communion ritual. Rather, She is referred to as a great and loving primordial Mother Goddess in the Hindu tantric tradition. In this aspect, as Mother Goddess, She is referred to as Kali Ma, meaning Kali Mother, and millions of Hindus revere Her as such.

Of all the forms of Devi, She is the most compassionate because She provides moksha or liberation to Her children. She is the counterpart of Shiva the destroyer. They are the destroyers of unreality. The ego sees Mother Kali and trembles with fear because the ego sees in Her its own eventual demise. A person who is attached to his or her ego will not be receptive to Mother Kali and she will appear in a fearsome 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Bijjam Snaps, The Story of Kali

The Buddha Garden, The Hindu Goddess Kali

Dolls of India, Kali the Goddess: Gentle Mother…Fierce Warrior

Exotic India, Mother Goddess as Kali – The Feminine Force in Indian Art

Infinite Goddess – Embracing the Divine Mother, Kali Goddess

Mythical-Folk, Kali Ma

Rise of Womanhood, Goddess of Destruction

Sathya Sai Baba, Hindu Gods & Goddesses in India – Hinduism, Mother Kali – Goddess Kalika Devi

 

 

Suggested Links:

Kila. Matrifocus: Cross-Quartly for the Godess Woman, “Reconciling Kali and Gauri: Goddess Thealogy and the Art of Peace“.

Pirera, Anna. Goddess Gallery, “Kali“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Kali: chaotic kindess“.

Stolan, Mihai. Liveonlineyoga.com, “Yoga of the Ten Great Cosmic Powers“.

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