Image used with permission.
representation of the goddess Devi.
She is the goddess of violence
cruelty, but all of that force is said to
be directed against evil. She is
worshipped primarily by the Shaktism
of Buddhism and by the lower castes of
Hinduism, especially in the Bengal
reason that Kali is seen as cruel is
because she is also known as
Power-of-Time. Time eventually
brings on the death of everything, and
what Kali symbolizes and is in control
of. In her depictions, she laughs
because she knows that no one can
escape the ultimate end of time, no
how hard they try. Kali is the
only one that is beyond fear and
believe that when they accept the
harsh truths that Kali represents, that
too will be relieved of fear.
Death to the ego is her primary
the self-centered illusion held by most
humans, thereby eradicating fear.
Although Kali is such a vicious
goddess, according to Ramakrishna (a
century Bengali saint who had visions of
Kali) she is actually the goddess of
tender love, if one can see the “Divine
Mother” beyond the eternal aspects of
Time. Her power is greater than
any other god’s. Calcutta was
named after the goddess Kali
because she was the primary deity of
Alternate Names: Mahakali,
through blood sacrifices, primarily
animal. The cult of the Thagis,
worshipped Kali, used to sacrifice
human beings to the goddess up until
late nineteenth century when it was
prohibited by the British. The
word “thug," is derived from the
name of this cult. Goats are
still sacrificed to
her daily at temples, especially in the
well-known Kalighat temple in Calcutta.
body is typically shown as black or dark
blue which symbolizes the abyss of
She is typically naked with
sagging breasts. She wears a
necklace of skulls which symbolize the
inseparableness of life and death, and
a belt of severed limbs from the
Time. She is sometimes pictured
with a snake around her neck as well.
Her face is in a grimace,
with her blood-red
tongue hanging out and down her lipless
mouth with fangs on either side.
has four arms, two of which holding
weapons and employed in the work of
death, one pointing downwards and
alluding to the universal chaos that
surrounds her, and a last one which
points upwards promising the
of nature by way of a new creation.
Kali is depicted either standing
tiger or, more often, standing or
dancing on Shiva’s prone body. This gruesome
form of Kali is meant to frighten
sinners into repentance and virtue.
Blood: Kali is said
developed a taste for blood when she
was asked to kill the demon Raktavija.
When this demon’s blood fell to
the earth, he made 1000 more of
appear with each drop. Thus,
Kali has to drink every drop of
before it reached the ground after
piercing him with a spear and holding
above her in order to defeat him.
Riding Animal: Tiger
considered to be one of Shiva’s many consorts, however she is not
be a loving, faithful wife. The
energy that she gives Shiva is destructive,
with an all-pervading time aspect.
Since her power is so great, she
the power of the male counterpart.
References on the Karma-to-Grace
Is there a Devil in Hinduism?
Vankateswami and the God of the Untouchables.
Scared of My Eternal Destiny by R.
“Kali”. New York
P.F. Collier. 1995.
Faiths . Downer’s Grove,
IL: InterVarsity Press. 1998.
Dani é The
Myths and Gods of India.
Inner Traditions International.
“Kali”. Danbury, CT:
Grolier, Inc. 2001.
Hindu Pantheon. Los
The Philadelphia Research Society,
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