August 16, 2010

What's behind the (screen) name, part II


 After explaining the second half of my name, guess I might as well cover the first also...

Kali (Sanskrit: काली, Bengali: কালী, both Kālī), also known as Kalika (Bengali: কালিকা, Kālikā), is the Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy. The name Kali comes from Kāla which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Kali means "the black one". Since Shiva is called Kāla - the eternal time, Kālī, his consort, also means "the Time" or "Death" (as in time has come). Hence, Kali is considered the goddess of time and change. Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation still has some influence. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shakta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also revered as Bhavatarini (literally "redeemer of the universe"). Comparatively recent devotional movements largely conceive Kali as a benevolent mother goddess.

Kali is represented as the consort of Lord Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing. She is associated with many other Hindu goddesses like Durga, Bhadrakali, Sati, Rudrani, Parvati and Chamunda. She is the foremost among the Dasa Mahavidyas, ten fierce Tantric goddesses.

Kālī is the feminine of kāla ("black, dark coloured").[2] Kāla primarily means "black," but also means "time." Kālī means "the black one" and also "time" or "beyond time." Kali is strongly associated with Shiva, and Shaivas derive her feminine name from the masculine Kāla (an epithet of Shiva). The early Sanskrit dictionary, the Shabdakalpadrum, states: कालः शिवः । तस्य पत्नीति - काली । kālaḥ śivaḥ । tasya patnīti kālī - "Shiva is Kala, thus his wife is Kali."


Kali's association with blackness stands in contrast to her consort, Shiva, whose body is covered by the white ashes of the cremation ground (Sanskrit: śmaśāna) in which he meditates, and with which Kali is also associated, as śmaśāna-kālī.

In the Mahanirvana-tantra, Kali is one of the epithets for the primordial sakti, and in one passage Shiva praises her:
At the dissolution of things, it is Kala [Time] Who will devour all, and by reason of this He is called Mahakala [an epithet of Lord Shiva], and since Thou devourest Mahakala Himself, it is Thou who art the Supreme Primordial Kalika. Because Thou devourest Kala, Thou art Kali, the original form of all things, and because Thou art the Origin of and devourest all things Thou art called the Adya [primordial Kali]. Resuming after Dissolution Thine own form, dark and formless, Thou alone remainest as One ineffable and inconceivable. Though having a form, yet art Thou formless; though Thyself without beginning, multiform by the power of Maya, Thou art the Beginning of all, Creatrix, Protectress, and Destructress that Thou art.
The figure of Kali conveys death, destruction, and the consuming aspects of reality. As such, she is also a "forbidden thing", or even death itself. In the Pancatattva ritual, the sadhaka boldly seeks to confront Kali, and thereby assimilates and transforms her into a vehicle of salvation. This is clear in the work of the Karpuradi-stotra, a short praise to Kali describing the Pancatattva ritual unto her, performed on cremation grounds. (Samahana-sadhana)
He, O Mahakali who in the cremation-ground, naked, and with dishevelled hair, intently meditates upon Thee and recites Thy mantra, and with each recitation makes offering to Thee of a thousand Akanda flowers with seed, becomes without any effort a Lord of the earth. 0 Kali, whoever on Tuesday at midnight, having uttered Thy mantra, makes offering even but once with devotion to Thee of a hair of his Sakti [his female companion] in the cremation-ground, becomes a great poet, a Lord of the earth, and ever goes mounted upon an elephant.
The Karpuradi-stotra clearly indicates that Kali is more than a terrible, vicious, slayer of demons who serves Durga or Shiva. Here, she is identified as the supreme mistress of the universe, associated with the five elements. In union with Lord Shiva, who is said to be her spouse, she creates and destroys worlds. Her appearance also takes a different turn, befitting her role as ruler of the world and object of meditation.[10] In contrast to her terrible aspects, she takes on hints of a more benign dimension. She is described as young and beautiful, has a gentle smile, and makes gestures with her two right hands to dispel any fear and offer boons. The more positive features exposed offer the distillation of divine wrath into a goddess of salvation, who rids the sadhaka of fear. Here, Kali appears as a symbol of triumph over death.

All text in this and the previous post was lifted from Wikipedia.

7 comments:

Stargazerleo said...

I thought of you often while I was here last weekend:

http://www.artic.edu/aic/

KaliDurga said...

Ah, very cool that you had time to go there while at Lolla! Looks like they have some fantastic exhibits. Did you see this one? http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/exhibition/everydayadventures

Stargazerleo said...

No, I didn't see that one. The museum was tremendous, I would love to spend more time there. Admission is free on Thursday evenings from 5-8 so in 3 hours I saw the Indian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan art exhibit ( I have a pic of me and the huge Buddha), American Modern Art (which has some great classics) and the Sculpture Court.

This reminds me that I haven't been to the Phila museum in way too long.

KaliDurga said...

I can't wait to see your photos from the trip! Have you posted them anywhere yet?

We have to plan a day to visit the Phila Museum, I still haven't been there. Probably not enough time to do that when I come up for the Laurel Hill tour on 9/19, but maybe in October?

Stargazerleo said...

Actually, I don't have any photos of my own, since my camera has been out of commission for a while. If you look at the pics on my page, you should be able to see everyone else's albums. Lots of great pics from the SG show!

I forget which day it is but I think there is one Sunday a month that PMA has free admission. We should try for that. Hopefully it won't interfere with marching band or college visits!

Story teller said...

I am impressed by your post. It is indeed a very scholarly and detailed piece on "KaliDurga". You have included vedantic, puranic, tantrik and buudhist facets of the Goddess.

You use some quotes which suggetst that you know sanskrit. Where did you learn sanskrit?

KaliDurga said...

Ah, I wish I could say that I wrote this, or that I know Sanskrit. Both this and the post about Durga came entirely from Wikipedia.

I am an internet thief, I hang my head in shame...