by Mantra & shlokas on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 3:24pm
We have already seen that the Maha Devi has many faces. If Lakshmi is the embodiment of all man’s delight, Kaali is the embodiment of all his disgust. Kaala is the Sanskrit word for Time – relentless, all-consuming and indomitable time which is the only killer. She is the wife of Shiva, in his form as Rudra, the destroyer. Parvati tries to curb his violence and anger but Kaali incites him to further violence and destruction. She is portrayed as black with cavernous eyes and fangs dripping blood, hanging breasts, tangled hair, dressed in black, with a red lolling tongue dripping blood. She wears a garland of grimacing skulls and a bracelet of baby cobras. Her girdle is made of hands which have been hacked off from corpses and her favourite haunts are cremation grounds and burning ghats. Her visible mask is that of Maya – Nature bringing forth all beings from her womb, feeding them at her breast then devouring and assimilating them into herself.
This is her public mask as known to science – a cosmos that seems to be superficially purposeless, a chaos of opposing qualities, creation and wanton destruction, cause and effect, light and shade, good and evil. She is like a random and willful despot, elusive and aloof. She is ruthless to the ones who hate the divine and cannot bear indifference and negligence in the performance of divine works. Her wrath is immediate and dire especially against treachery and falsehood. Force and strength are her characteristics. She looks like the embodiment of universal destruction. Without her there would be no death and therefore no life. These are the two faces of life. Her imagery is bizarre and intended to put off anyone who is not ready to accept life as it is. It is only in this century that quantum physics has shown that the universe is not an orderly whole in which atoms and molecules behave in a set and fixed pattern. The energy field from which the whole universe rises is far from being orderly. It is a seething mass of turbulent forces made up of energy particles that seem to have no observable pattern of behaviour. This was a shocking revelation to the western mind. But our Indian sages had realized this long ago. The figure of Kaali forces us to step out of the very-day world of logic into a world of unpredictability, dramatic reversals, opposites and contrasts.
Life is not just the beautiful sunset, or the lovely rose but it is also terror, war, destruction and violence. The fact is that we do not wish to see anything bad, ugly, obscene or dangerous. But life has these two faces. And these are the faces of the Maha Devi. Unless we are able to accept Her in all the aspects of her personality we will never attain complete fulfillment. We cannot accept only one face and ignore the other. It is a human weakness to acknowledge one side and disregard the other. This is reason for our unhappiness. Unless we go beyond joy and sorrow we will never be able to reach the shore of bliss.