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Fierce Female Deities
by sadh Monday, Jan 31 2011, 12:08am
international / theology / opinion/analysis

Symbolism is universal language and serves to preserve hidden messages from the polluting reach of the profane that would otherwise desecrate intended meaning to suit their own purposes or particular agendas, much as the Nicean Council did with early Christian texts. According to the correspondence of the early Church Fathers, over 200 Gospels were in existence prior to the editing and burning of precious texts by the Nicean Council in 350 AD.

Today Christianity has but four Gospels, though others, which have lain buried for centuries, have recently been re-discovered. I therefore look to the ancient, respectful cultures of the EAST for valuable and hidden knowledge encoded in their symbolic, religious Art.

Kali
Kali

There are numerous ‘fierce’ deities in various cultures throughout the world, however, space limits me to dealing with one prototypical example; KALI, of the Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent.

This short analysis is meant to complement the many excellent descriptions of Kali’s symbolism available today. Kali inspires reverence, fearlessness, awe, respect and Love in all her devotees for very good reason.

Kali is referred to as the Divine Mother by her devotees, an appellation that would appear incongruous with her horrific appearance and her ‘destructive’ behaviour. Kali, unlike the male deity, Siva, ALWAYS manifests in TERRIBLE or FIERCE FORM; Siva appears in fierce aspect only as Bhairava when the occasion necessitates.

There is little in Kali’s appearance that could be described as inviting, comely or ‘pleasing;’ she is truly a dreadful looking Goddess, yet I must confess at the outset, I LOVE her -- for reasons which I hope will become plain as her symbolism is revealed.

Kali ALWAYS appears in terrible aspect with three bloodshot eyes, a bright red tongue lolling insanely from her open, bloodstained mouth; she is usually intoxicated with the freshly consumed blood of her vanquished enemies. Her unkempt appearance and free flowing hair defies formality, convention and orthodoxy. She holds a freshly severed head with one of her four arms, a bloodied sword in the other and offers beneficence and signals encouragement to her devotees with gestures (mudras) with her other two hands.

She wears a necklace of 53 human skulls representing the Sanskrit alphabet (language) and a belt/girdle of severed human arms around her black, nude, body. She is depicted as either dancing madly on a battlefield or standing on the supine, inert body of the God, Siva -- indicating that SHE is the active or kinetic principle of the universe.

In mythology Kali’s destructive, ‘murdering’ blood frenzies usually require some form of intervention in order to prevent her from completely annihilating existence. Siva in the form of an infant or lying wounded on the battlefield returns Kali to a less severe mode, nevertheless, she remains the ‘fiercest’ Deity of them all.

As her necklace would indicate we should approach ‘Kali’ linguistically; her name is derived from the Sanskrit word, Kala, which means TIME -- a signifier not to be glanced over.

We recall Krisna’s statement in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, verse 32, “I am become TIME, destroyer of all things.” So we have a correspondence. Why is it that time becomes the “destroyer,” when it is clear that time also CREATES and sustains, as inferred in the mythology of Kali?

We should be aware that Time is simply an arbitrary form of measurement superimposed on the infinite continuum of Existence!

If we again refer to Kali’s ‘necklace,’ the Sanskrit word 'Maya,' often erroneously rendered into English as, ‘illusion,’ is more accurately interpreted from its etymological cores as ‘ma-ya,’ which, according to J. Krishnamurti, means ‘to measure’ -- it begins to make sense!

We can only know/'locate' things by their FORM or measure, as all form (including our bodies) are measurable. In other words the finite universe in which we live is measurable space/time -- think of latitude and longitude measured in units of space and time as exactly the same (Ma-ya).

Measured ‘things’ have a Beginning and an end, yet REALITY or infinity is a continuum, no beginning or end; we recall that Gods are often referred to as unbegotten, self-begotten or unborn to indicate their true character as Infinite.

As we are aware, everything that has a beginning has an end, regardless of the amount of ‘time’ that passes from start to finish -- put another way, everything finite (measurable) DIES. Kali’s (kala’s) ferocious form/character as destroyer begins to make sense. However, it follows from our recently gained understanding that time (KALA) must also BEGIN, hence the notion of creation is ‘born’ or the progenitor or “Mother” idea.

Kali’s THREE eyes, signify beginning, duration and end or past, present and future! She is indeed the personification of TIME as Mother/creatrix and Destroyer.

Kali’s nude, dishevelled and abhorrent bodily ‘adornments’ defy ALL formality and convention and the niceties of learned cultural aesthetics and behaviour, I must confess, since I became enamoured of Kali I no longer receive invitations to nice social gatherings, as my manner and language seems to offend, I can’t understand it? But to forego the divine ecstasies of Kali’s ‘ravages’ for the company of lost, depressed, panic-stricken, middle class zombies, would be too big an ask!

I recall releasing a massive fart at a dinner party on one occasion; I had no idea of the power inherent in a single fart until I viewed the shocked, numbed and disdainful facial expressions of the other guests, O, well! It’s a shame society doesn’t take a dim view of all the illegal wars waged by criminal governments these days, and express a ‘little’ outrage at the overt criminality of our governments; but Freud was accurate in his assessment of western society, it’s SICK!

Essentially, Kali is the quintessential outsider and teaches us the value of letting go of inhibitions (fears) and socially learned behaviours – in other words releasing ourselves from the imposed behavioural prison of our respective cultures – all cultures from the viewpoint of LIBERATION are perverse, make no mistake! [An astonishing example of cultural perversity today is the passive acceptance of having one’s genitals groped by complete strangers at airports, yep, you guessed it, only in FEARFUL, America; a nation in DIRE NEED of the lessons and FREEDOMS Kali offers ALL her devotees.]

Now to the relationship of language, mind and consciousness.

Kali, as her linguistic necklace indicates is related to the seven little mothers or ‘Matrikas,’ the progenitors of the essential sounds that form the Sanskrit language. According to the Hindu Tantras, Sound or ‘Sabdha’ is the formative principle of the known universe and language enables us to ‘see’ what it denotes/defines. Therefore it is language that formulates our culture and shapes our ‘Realities.’ It becomes apparent that language resides in mind, as mind cannot be separated from its (linguistic/semiotic) content. Once quelled, the incessant chattering of mind reveals pure unfettered, CONSCIOUSNESS or INFINITY! While one symbol, concept, thought or whatever, remains in mind, the continuum of true Being, remains veiled.

Constant devotion or meditation focuses and quiets the mind, releasing pure, unfettered, infinite consciousness. The mind with its (linguistic) defining (f-o-r-m-ulating) function is simply a ‘coagulation’ -- for want of a better word -- on the fluid sea of infinite Consciousness/Bliss/Being!

We offer our 'heads' (separate identity) to Kali for sacrifice in order for her to sever mind (the finite) from consciousness ( the infinite) and release us from the constraints of language.

It requires fearlessness to offer one’s very identity or sanity for sacrifice. Words are easy to type but the import/meaning here is profound -- for those able to appreciate the bravery required to lose/sacrifice one’s notion of self, there is hope and I wish you ALL success and all the Divine, INFINITE bliss on offer! As for the cowardly herd, you deserve the hell in which you find yourselves, perhaps a ticket to America would be appropriate; there you can revel with like minded morons and the most fearful population on the planet. ["Let the dead bury the dead," once stated an enlightened western sage.]

Unlike all Western Gods of bondage and servility -- with the notable exception of Dionysus -- Kali offers Emancipation, Love, Devotion, Bliss and FREEDOM from FEAR!

Om Tat Sat

Abhaya mudra, signifies fearlessness
Abhaya mudra, signifies fearlessness

Varada mudra, signifies compassion
Varada mudra, signifies compassion

Kali Yantra
Kali Yantra

COMMENTS

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thank you
by devi Monday, Jan 31 2011, 7:27pm

namaste

your emphasis on the transitory, illusory nature of time and the reality of infinity is lacking in so many interpretations of the Goddess.

Kali teaches us that whatever is born dies and that our spiritual inheritance is continuity. Kali conquers time and obliterates form for us and brings us to the realisation that we are truly unborn and Eternal.

She is an awesome Goddess, I love her too

fierce aspect
by layla Tuesday, Mar 15 2011, 9:13pm

to be sure, Kali is actually the fierce form of the female deity Durga. She is an aspect of Durga much in the same way as Bhairava is an aspect of Siva.

Kali's elevation in the Bengal region has led to a 'clouding' of her origins.


 
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