first appeared in the Devi-Mahatmya; this explained that she
came from the brow of the goddess Durga (who is the slayer
of the demons) at some point during one of the battles
during the forces of the divine and anti-divine.
represents the virginal autonomy of the woman warrior who
spawned her, making her also a representation of the
forceful side of Durga.
Kali therefore is not only the mysterious source from
which all life is created, but also the soil from which all
things grow and where all things decompose; she creates
allÖyet she consumes all.
traditional representation of Kali is as a black woman who
has four arms. In
one of her arms, she is holding a sword, while in another;
she holds the head of a demon she has just killed.
Kaliís earrings are comprised of two dead bodies,
and she wears a matching necklace of sculls. She is completely naked save for a girdle composed of dead
menís hands. Kaliís
tongue sticks out very long from her mouth.
She has red eyes, and both her face and breasts are
covered in blood. Kaliís stance is with one foot on the thigh, and the other
on the breast of her husband.
form is fearsome and vicious, yet it remains awe-inspiring
through its abundant symbols.
black color means her transcendence of all form.
nakedness means that she lacks the covering of illusions.
is full-breasts represent her maternal nature as
garland is of 50 human heads.
Each head represents one of the 50 letters in the
Sanskrit alphabet. This
demonstrates her vast wisdom.
girdle of hands represents karma, as the hands are the main
instrument of work.
teeth are white, symbolizing purity.
long, protruding red tongue symbolizes that she consumes
four arms show the full circuit from creation to
destruction, all embodied within her.
Her right hands make the madras, which means ďfear
notĒ and they show Kaliís creative side.
Alternately, her left hands hold a sword that has
been bloodied and a severed head, showing Kaliís fierce,
head and sword themselves represent the annihilation of
ignorance and the emergence of wisdom. It is, after all, the
sword of knowledge that destroys false-consciousness
(depicted as the severed head). Kali also uses this sword to open the gates of freedom, by
cutting the eight bonds that bind human beings.
three eyes are for the sun, moon, and fire; this way she can
see three modes of time:
past, present and future.
Kali's exists in the cremation ground, which is
representative of a location in which the five different
elements cease. As
far as Kali is concerned, these elements are considered to
be: attachments, anger, lust, and other binding emotions,
feelings, and ideas.