Kali, whose name literally means “The Dark One”, is the Goddess of death and destruction, time and change, as well as being known as a Mother Goddess. Her weapons are the scimitar, the sword and trishula which is a trident. She sprang into being from Durga’s forehead. Her consort is Shiva. She is often depicted with four arms, tongue stuck out, naked except for a necklace of heads/skulls and a girdle of hands or arms, standing or dancing on Shiva. The dancing/standing part I will explain momentarily.
Unlike some of the Gods and Goddesses of Norse, Egyptian, Greek and Roman pantheons, Kali and other Hindu deities are not very well known or getting more attention in pop culture. Kali is depicted in the video game Smite as a playable character. Her face was even painted on the tin of Kali Mints (which were curry flavored mints and I am not sure how I feel about that flavor) but that went over like a lead balloon. It was cited as disrespectful to the Hindu culture and the Goddess herself.
Kali’s most famous feat was the slaughter of Raktabija, a demon. This demon was so powerful no other God or Goddess could destroy it. Every time Raktabija was wounded and a drop of his blood hit the Earth, one thousand more demons came into being. Kali was asked to stop him. To stop him Kali drank his blood before it could touch the Earth, thereby stopping more demons from being made. She devoured each demon before eating Raktabija in a single bite. In victory, Kali began to dance. She danced and danced and danced. She became frenzied and the Earth began to tremble in warning of oncoming destruction. The Gods begged Kali to stop but she would not in her crazed state. Finally her consort Shiva lay beneath her feet and she realized what she was doing. Finally she quit dancing.
Devotees and worshippers of Kali, see her as a devout and protective Mother Goddess. They believe that not only can Kali eat demons, but she can eat Death as well. Animal sacrifices are still made to Kali. It is believed at one time human sacrifices were the norm. Kali, however, was picky about human sacrifices. A band of thieves once thought it a good idea to sacrifice a human to Kali and chose a good man, a Brahmin monk who lived a pure life. His light was so bright that when they killed him, his light burned the image if Kali before their eyes. Kali came to them enraged and decapitated the entire band of thieves and drank their blood. What is the moral of the story? Be careful who or what you sacrifice to which God or Goddess. They may not like it.
What do you think of Kali? Do you have a God or Goddess you want me to cover? Let me know in the comments below. Till next week…