fbpx
Maa Kali- The  symbolism of kali mata in Hindu culture

Maa Kali- The symbolism of kali mata in Hindu culture

Maa Kali: the first Mahavidya is the ultimate power of consciousness and supreme reality. She is the representation of the presence of limitless time, the darkness of infinite space and depth of infinite knowledge. Maa Kali takes vigorous steps in her intoxicated dance. With every step, she destroys moments of existence in the paste and holds the future in darkness. Therefore,creating new existence in the eternal “Present”. Kali Mata is a personification of 3 qualities of nature ( gunas ). She creates with her sattva guna( quality of goodness and purity), preserves and sustains with her rajas guna (quality of motion, energy and activity) and destroys with the tamas guna ( quality of ignorance and inertia)

Symbolism of the Appearance of Kali Mata

The appearance of Maa Kali has a more deep and symbolic meaning than mere physical form that she takes. Her messy hair signifies the boundless freedom. Her dark skin is a representation of the womb of limitless reality in which creation arises. In this mysterious darkness, the universe gestates. She wears a garland of human heads and skirt of human arms. This symbolizes her as the destroyer of the illusion of ego :“I” that comes with identifying oneself with his body. The illusion about who “I am” as a person is created from our past experiences and expectations from our future. This illusion also comes through a set of labels that society, parents and peers attribute us with.

Kali Mata wears the garland of human skull to remind us of her many children, whom she has liberated from the “I” illusion and tyranny of the cycle of birth and death. The lower right hands of Maa Kali are raised benevolently to grant her kids the gifts of insight and wisdom. The upper right arm takes the shape of mudra indicating that Kali protects her children and that one should never fear. The sword in her upper left arm represents the instrument through which Kali delivers enlightenment; by delivering a blow of non-dual reality to the ego, releasing human soul from delusional self-intoxication and bondage. She holds a severed head with her lower left arm, symbolizing freedom from ego.

The white teeth of Kali symbolize serenity. Her red tongue symbolizes activity (indicating blood-dripping fangs that she uses to consume everything in creation). Her drunkenness state symbolizes inertia. The full breasts indicates that Kali Mata is the nourisher of entire life-form . Her Terrible form destroys creation to give room for new life-form. Her naked form is an indication that she is limitless, and no finite dress can cover her. Shiva lies under the feet of Kali indicating cosmic energy fueling cosmic consciousness. Shiva and Kali are inseparable, and no creation is possible without their union.

Maa Kali resides in cemeteries, with the decaying corpses, reminding us that death is inevitable. Kali dances in a vast cosmic cemetery, where universes are born, evolve, grow and ultimately die- a perpetual cycle.

 

Kali Mata and Dual Nature of Time

 

The mood of Kali Mata is unpredictable. Maa Kali is nature, who creates and nurtures but also brings death and destruction. Her nature is so flighty that she vanishes the moment you attempt to recognize her essence. The minute you endeavour to disregard her, she uncovers herself. Like, time, she is impossible to tame, and her cosmic dance seems frenzied and random. However, there is an immaculate rhythm to her random dance that makes the universe move in symphony. Yet at times, the dance becomes unpredictable and chaotic and throws the cosmos in disorder. Just as we settle down into the security of known, our situations and circumstances can rapidly spiral into the unknown.

The mood of Kali Mata is unpredictable. Maa Kali is nature, who creates and nurtures but also brings death and destruction. Her nature is so flighty that she vanishes the moment you attempt to recognize her essence. The minute you endeavour to disregard her, she uncovers herself. Like, time, she is impossible to tame, and her cosmic dance seems frenzied and random. However, there is an immaculate rhythm to her random dance that makes the universe move in symphony. Yet at times, the dance becomes unpredictable and chaotic and throws the cosmos in disorder. Just as we settle down into the security of known, our situations and circumstances can rapidly spiral into the unknown.

The unpredictable dance of Kali seems to stretch and contract the passage of time. Kali shapes the sequence of events in our life.And,these events generates our perception of time speeding up or slowing down. When everything is normal time seems to flow at ordinary pace. It is when drastic events happen in our life that we seem to pay attention to the passage of time.

For instance, time seems to stop when we are waiting for the imminent result of our competitive exams. It seems like only yesterday, when we were kids playing in our classrooms. Kali expends each involvement in life whether be it difficult or euphoric. Just the memory of that experience remains. If one thinks of “now”, it has just passed and if one considers future, it has just arrived. Death is an inescapable truth that gives space for originality of the present minute and freshness of things that is yet to come. Time is a measuring stick by which we can gauge fresh starts, development, advancements and endings.

Kali expends each involvement in life whether be it difficult or euphoric. Just the memory of that experience remains. If one thinks of “now”, it has just passed and if one considers future, it has just arrived. Death is an inescapable truth that gives space for originality of the present minute and freshness of things that is yet to come. Time is a measuring stick by which we can gauge fresh starts, development, advancements and endings.

Linear time that Kali has created gives rise to dual nature in human being. The dualistic pairs, such as good-bad, happy-sad, birth-demise, are counterparts that are manifested in linear time in human beings. What we experience in the past become hooks (references) while thinking of either side of the dual pair and this affects our future. For instance, for a duality pair of good-bad- winning a game is good, losing is bad; and a dual pair of birth-death- birth brings joy, demise brings sadness.

Because we live in linear time, it creates an ever-progressive story of our life. We cannot go back and relive past to create a different perspective, which may give rise to a different reference for looking at either side of the dualistic pair. Duality is formed by the future that is non-existent and the reality of the past. The ongoing story of our lives that is fraught with duality is insubstantial and fleeting as a dream.

The story of our life that unfolds in linear time is fraught with duality and defines the way we look at the world and judge the world. It is because of Kali’s curtain of forgetfulness we fail to come out of this cycle and are constantly engaged in the triumph, challenges, regrets and hope of the “I” i.e. self-ego. It is like a dream, in which if we are deeply engrossed. We feel that the dream is real and in a bad dream we feel our heart racing, and body sweating. We are deeply immersed in the dream. Only upon waking up, we realize that the drama was in the dream. But if we are conscious that the drama is unfolding in a dream, we remain calm and unperturbed. Similarly, to get out of the confines of linear time, we need to destroy our self-ego and aim for ultimate consciousness.

Kali Maa, as time, not only binds us in the linear time but makes us slaves to our latent tendencies called the “Vasanas”. These latent tendencies manifest in the form of aspirations, desires, lust, greed, anger etc. These vasanas are born due to the experiences of our past and what we aspire to become in future, and fuels our self-ego or the concept of “I-am-the body”. Because, these vasanas-which are also influenced by society, parents and peers-drives our actions, it defines a person as a collection of labels. So, one individual can be defined as “studious”,” good at music”,” hate pets”, “will become successful one day”; because of the vasanas one possesses. These latent tendencies again result in dualities, such as like-dislike, attachments and aversions.

Kundalini : The Primal Energy

Kali Maa is the primal energy that resides at the base of the human form: known as kundalini. The kundalini is dormant in ordinary human beings and it is upon awakening the Kundalini, one realizes his true nature of being timeless, unbound, non-dual and free of vasanas. The awakening frees us from the cycle of birth and death and ends all our sufferings.

How Kundalini is awakened? It takes a lot of practice and self-discipline to awaken the kundalini. To understand the awakening, one must be cognizant of how the life-forces work in subtle human body for its sustenance. The subtle bodies consist of innumerable energy channels called “nadis” that carry the critical life force called prana. These Nadis converge at various junctures in our body called the “Chakras”. Seven of the most important chakras are found along the spine and kundalini lies dormant, like a coiled snake, right below the last chakra in the coccyx.

3 important nadis that flow along the spine are the ida (“cold” or the “moon”) on the left, pingala (“hot” or the sun) on the right and the sushumna in the middle. The duality arise as the prana oscillates between the ida and pingala giving rise to feelings of like-dislike, good-bad, love-aversion. For a brief period the prana remains in the sushumna and switches to either side, representing Kali’s vicious cycle of life and death in linear time. Upon awakening the kundalini,this cosmic energy uncoils like a snake into the sushumna and touches each of the chakras and becomes an agent that brings about drastic transformation in the life issues.

For instance, the third chakra form the base, called the solar plexus or the Manipura, is located between the navel and breastbone and it corresponds to personal power system and shelters our ego, strength and anger. When kundalini touches this chakra, a deep feeling of inability to control oneself and fear of rejection may arise. This happens as kundalini unfolds a past experience, such as when long desired lady-love of someone rejects him. Kali determines the timing of your progress towards resolving this experience. Maa Kali, then precisely arranges the events of our life, so that we can get rid of the vasanas associated with the corresponding experience. As this healing occurs, you will start feeling confident, in control and feel immense self-esteem.

As Kundalini touches each of the chakras, it exposes all our past traumas and issues. We get an opportunity to experience them and to get healed. Finally, when the Kundalini reaches the crown Chakra, Kali embraces Lord Shiva. Their union marks the awakening from the self-ego;the end of suffering and freedom from time and death.

The Shadow of Aggression of Kali Mata

The more we remain engrossed with the self-ego and “I”, the more Kali’s shadow of aggression will bind us. This aggression manifests in the form of chaos, selfishness, ruthlessness, jealousy, violence. The major cause of this aggression is the way we view ourselves and others through the lens of judgement and comparison. The experiences we have had in our past creates a perspective about how we view the world on various issues such as religion, race, politics, sports etc. We have a sense of seeing people as different from ourselves. So, a political party which we don’t support is the other; a person who practices other religion is different; someone of other nationality is different; a poor cannot strive to be rich etc. This feeling of different gives rise to a feeling of comparison and judgement.

The choices we make and the way we act make us feel unique as compared to others, who have a way of behaving differently from us. These comparison leads to judgement and becomes a cause of aggression of Kali, as these judgements strengthens our self-ego. Comparison and judgement in our thoughts, words and intention; arise from unfulfilled desires and moves us further from attaining our true nature.

Our self-ego always keeps us unsatisfied and unfulfilled, as we always feel that something is lacking, and we constantly seek completion and contentment through external objects. Our desires are the result of the vasanas that we have acquired with our past experience and aspirations, and these desires fuel our self-ego. If we are good students in the past, we aspire to become wealthy as we believe we are intellectually superior; if we are poor we desire to become rich.

And, even if we are able fulfill our desires, our contentment and satisfaction is only temporary as our vasanas inclines us to want more. As soon as the thing that we have attained to fulfill our desire loses its freshness, our “self-ego” and “I-am-the-body” rises again. When we don’t get what we want, unfulfilled desire leaves us with regret, resentment, or wistfulness. We feel incomplete and restless until we obtain, conquer, or own the object of our desire. Thus, the cycle of desire and attaining self-satisfaction continues over and over. Kali’s shadow of aggression entraps us.

In the tales, Maa Kali has fought many evils through the ages. In one of the epic battle, Maa Kali consumes every drop of Raktabija’s blood.
Raktabija could reproduced himself from every drop of blood that fell on the ground. Our desires have similar reproducing power as the Raktabija’s blood. Relinquishing our desires and self-ego to become ever-satisfied and content is synonymous to Maa Kali consuming all our desires as the devil’s blood. Thus, awakening from our dream and attaining true consciousness, and freeing ourselves from the cycle of life and death.

Maa Kali casts the shadow of aggression when our behaviour is self-righteous one and its flaws are not immediately apparent. Even though our intention seems good, we try to be judgmental and intolerant. For instance, the one who always gives money to the beggar thinks that others who do not give or occasionally give money, are not kind enough and are inferior. In fact, such righteous behaviour is a subtle form of self-ego in genuine act of kindness. It makes us feel superior for helping out the “less fortunate”. These actions or thinking, arising from our vasanas of pity, regret, shame or guilt, can feed our self-ego and give rise to never ending cycle of suffering. We blame others for our difficulties,when Kali’s spell binds us.

The Supreme Light of Kali Mata

Kali’s light of consciousness or supreme knowledge is the ultimate remedy to all the sufferings, the dual nature, the vicious cycle of life, the death that is bound by linear time and Kali’s shadow of aggression . On close examination, one would realize that we react to our own situations, circumstances, thoughts and beliefs about people. Our vasanas mould the way we look at events, politics, challenges at work, world events, our personal relationships as right or wrong, good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. We start comparing and being judgmental.

To attain Kali’s light, we should never try to give judgemental reactions and allow something to be simply as it is. The key to atone is to always focus on our action and responses and stop judging others. While we focus on our own actions, we gain knowledge of how we should act in any situation. When we don’t depend on others to satisfy us through their actions and thoughts, we begin to unveil profound experiences and knowledge and attain the path of liberation from the entrapments of linear time. Cultivating this aspect becomes a means to merge with the supreme Goddess Kali.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu
×

Cart

%d bloggers like this: