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Kali

Kali, the feminine force in the Hindu pantheon is none but the destroyer of sorts. Revered throughout India, in different forms, she is in the form of destroyer. Even today, we cannot digest the fact that women and the feminine force existing even in animals can ever destroy! A woman is ‘care’ personified, chirpy as a young girl, radiating with hope as a young maiden, empathizing as a wife, nurturing as a mother, and wise as a crone! But, the human psyche finds it hard to accept her as a person capable of rage and fury.

Kali is a force to reckon with. She is the dark, fierce mother who delivers her devotees from the evil forces that scare or engulf them.

If you have several children to look after and you patiently deal with each of them, dispensing wisdom through stories, teaching them life skills, feeding them, and goading the one lagging behind. You are at your benign best! You are Goddess Lakshmi ever-smiling! 

Amongst your children, one is naughty and enjoys upsetting the entire brood! You’d keep engage him in work, so that his energies are diverted. Your guidance can enable him to realize his behavior and remedy the situation. As you are educating this child, the rest of the brood learns too. You are the Goddess of wisdom-Goddess Saraswati!

However, despite your several pleas, your rational methods, the child continues with his mischief and in fact becomes disruptive and scares the others. As a mother, you’d naturally assume a fierce form and march towards the errant child and perhaps spank him! Don’t you want to protect your other children from harm? In doing so, you’re putting an end to perhaps the bully’s self-defeating behavior. That is Goddess Kali personified.

Pictorially, she is seen as sporting a fierce look, with human skulls strung around her neck, a sword in one hand, yet blessing and protecting her devotees with another hand. While correcting the bully, you are reassuring the others that you are there to manage. And yet, in a second, you are Kali and Saraswati personified! By your assertive reaction, the most timid of your children will be shaken from lethargy and will learn to take the bull by their horns. They learn a lesson too. Sometimes, when the bully is punished, the mildest child learns too. The lesson here for the on-looking children is, that in order to achieve success, you got to conquer sloth, timidity and have the courage to face challenges. 

According to the Devi Mahatmiya of the 5th century, Kali is the incarnation of Durga. When her son Skanda could not defeat the demon Raktabhija, he appealed to his mother Durga(Parvati), who took on the form of the mighty Kali and entered the battlefield to fight Raktabhija. The demon was so unconquerable that each time a drop of his blood fell on the ground; a thousand demons would spring to life from each drop! Kali who was overcome with rage, went on a killing spree, vanquishing every demon with her mighty strength. Overcome by blind fury, she went about destroying everything in the universe that her eyes fell on. When her consort Lord Shiva realized that the universe would come to an end, he lay in her path calm and inert like a corpse.

When Kali’s feet hit Shiva’s body, she presumed she had killed him too. Filled with remorse, she placed one foot on Shiva’s chest and brought him back to life. To mellow her fury, Shiva assumed the form of an infant and cried pathetically, which stirred the maternal instinct in Kali, who yielded and at once became Gauri-the mother.

You will find a striking familiarity of the legend to any household unit even in today’s life! Women are the primal feminine force- an embodiment of Mother Parvati-creative, sustaining other life forces. They are Goddess Saraswati dispensing wisdom, Goddess Lakshmi radiating hope and also Kali in fury when dispensing justice!

While psychologist Carl Jung called the force anima and animus, in Tao it is the ‘yin’ and the ‘yang’ and in Hinduism it is the masculine and feminine force each existing in you and me and in every human being. When she is Shiva’s consort, she is Parvati the homemaker and dutiful wife of Shiva. Sometimes, as a woman you are forced to wear the pants in the family and sometimes rouse your husband from passivity.

When he is immersed in his world of cares, you got to arouse him with your feminine charms and when he is enjoying himself nonchalantly, you assume the assertive role, bringing him back to his senses! And when you are the one fuming to bring order and semblance into your lives, it is your partner who uses his feminine and passive grace to strike a balance!

“As above, so below”, says the Tao. Life too cannot be perfect. You have to strike a balance now and then, being forceful once and yielding at another time.

  In west Bengal, India, Durga pooja marks an important festival during Navratri, when for 9 (nav) nights (ratri), the trinity in the Hindu pantheon is worshipped as the creative and nurturing force, the force form which you learn the mysteries of the universe and how to handle the challenges lying outside and within you. 


 

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