Kali is the Hindu goddess of death. Her name comes from Kalam and means black or dark in color. She is associated with time, change, power, war, blackness, destruction, evil, and violence. In mythology, she is the consort of Shiva, and a ferocious slayer of demons. But Kali is also a most ambiguous deity.
Many followers perceive this goddess as the Supreme Mistress of the Universe because she was created first – out of the blackness – before the rest of time began. Therefore she is the highest reality and the greatest force. And because Kali brings death, she serves as the vehicle to human salvation.
Others view Kali as the benevolent Mother. She is the Ultimate Being, and those who worship at her feet become her children. Yet she is a fearsome sight to behold. The goddess is usually portrayed as a naked blue woman with four arms, a sword, skull jewelry, matted hair, blood-shot eyes and a drooping tongue. She feeds off human flesh and blood, holds a severed head, and has Shiva laid flat at her feet. She is often accompanied by snakes and jackals. Kali is a far-remove from the Christian image of the beautiful, meek Holy Mother!
Perhaps because of these ambiguities, some Hindus fear Kali as the Dark Goddess and have turned her into a witch. Her followers are called Daayans – and many unfortunate women are currently being actively persecuted in certain regions of India today. You can read some of their harrowing stories here:
“The infinite is always mysteriously dark” (Sri Ramakrishna).
Wikipedia: “Kali” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kali
“Kali: The Dark Mother” at http://hinduism.about.com/od/hindugoddesses/a/makali.htm
“Mother Goddess As Kali” at http://www.exoticindiaart.com/kali.htm
(Picture: Public Domain)
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