|[aras-image:7Ao.065,,10,,,Figure 4 Figure and torso of Kali.]|
Ajit Mookerjee tells of the origin of Kali in the following story:
"Kali manifested herself for the annihilation of demonic male power in order to restore peace and equilibrium. For a long time brutal asuric (demonic) forces had been domination and oppressing the world. Even the gods were helpless and suffered defeat at their hands. They fled pell-mell in utter humiliation, a state hardly fit for the divine. Finally they prayed in desperation to the Daughter of the Himalayas to save gods and men alike. The gods sent forth their energy in streams of fire, and from these energies emerged the Great Goddess Durga... As the 'forceful' aspect of Durga, Kali has been dubbed 'horrific' or terrible' in masculine-biased commentaries, without understanding the episode's inner meaning."
Mookerjee continues by noting that the images of Kali in generally black because "all colours disappear in black, so all names and forms disappear in her". In Tantric rituals she is described as "garbed in space, sky-clad." Naked, she is free from all illusion. "She is full-breasted; her motherhood is a ceaseless creation. She gives birth to the cosmos parthenogenetically, as she contains the make principle within herself." She wears a garland of fifty human heads which represent the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, and also represent the fifty fundamental vibrations in the universe. She wears a girdle of human hands. Since hands are the principal instruments of work, they signify the action of karma, "thus constantly reminding us that ultimate freedom is to be attained as the fruit of karmic action." Her three eyes represent the past, present, and future. Kali has four hands (or, occasionally, two, six or eight.) One left hand holds a severed head, indicating the annihilation of ego-bound ego force, the other carries a sword to cut the thread of bondage. "One right hand gestures to dispel fear and the other exhorts to spiritual strength. In the form she is changeless. limitless primordial power, acting in the great drama, awakening the unmanifested Shiva at her feet. Many representations of Kali show her standing on the prone, inert body of Shiva. In Mahakali.. there is an overwhelming intensity, a mighty strength, a force to shatter all obstacles. She is there for swiftness, for immediate and effective action, for the direct stroke, the frontal assault that carries everything before it... Awe-inspiring, determined and ruthless, she destroys evil force."