No character in the history of all religions is as fierce as the Hindu goddess Kali in India. Kali is known as the dark goddess when Western scholars encountered Kali. Their first reaction was that of shock and surprise.
1. Kali: Manifestation of Shakti
For one thing, they had trouble swallowing the idea that the female could be divine. The closes they had come to such a Goddess was the kindly and virginal mother Mary in the 20th century, with the rise of women's rights, feminists came to view Kali as the embodiment of feminine power. They found her to be liberating. The image of Kali that exists in the West is rather different from the way most Indians see her. Kali, the name, which means time in Sanskrit, is an intensely frightening and the most powerful manifestation of Shakti.
2. Ma Kali: Appearance
There are many depictions of the different forms of Kali. The most common form often shows Kali as black naked, with angry red sunken eyes wearing skulls around her neck as jewelry and limbs around her waist. Her blackness represents that she is “Nirguna” meaning beyond all qualities of nature. She has four arms showing aspects of both creation and destruction. With a blood sword in one of her hands, she deflects the enemies and carries the head of a demon, on the other hand, she holds the bowl in the third hand, where the blood of the enemy is collected and the last hand is held out in blessing. She has an open mouth with blood drooling down her tongue while she stands on the body of her husband, Lord Shiva.
Although Kali is associated with blood, death, and destruction, she is also seen as a mother figure and often referred to as ma Kali, meaning mother Kali. Kali is the dramatic expression of a fierce mother’s anger and the feminine power that awakens to attack those who threaten her children.
3. Ma Kali Killed Raktabeej
The birth or origin of Kali is popularly known through the story of her fight in Markandeya Purana. In Hindu mythology, Raktabeej was a demon or Asura who had been given a boon by Lord Brahma that every time a drop of his blood fell on the ground, a new version of his own would be created.
Having received the boon, he made the life of people and gods miserable more so with this power to produce more Raktabeej every time he sheds a drop of his blood. Hence the gods reached out to goddess Durga or Shakthi for help. Armed with all the weapons, the goddess charged at the demon, but as soon as she wounded him with her sword and his blood fell on the earth, the demon multiplied with more attempts at killing Raktabeej he kept on multiplying. Huge armies of Raktabeej were formed by the drops of blood which fell on the earth. Enraged by this the Devi took the fierce and infuriated form of Kali.
She went on to destroy the demon with her sword in her hand. She slew each demon and collected their blood in her bowl, and drank it immediately. Soon she finished the whole army of Raktabeej and only the real Raktabeej was left. Then she killed him down and drank his blood until he fell lifeless, not realizing that the real Raktabeej was dead, the Goddess continued her destruction and drank the blood of the innocent. She continued to kill anybody that appeared her way.
4. Shiva Laid in Front of Kali
Seeing this, the gods became extremely worried and approached Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva went and laid down amongst the corpses where the goddess was madly dancing for blood. Accidentally Kali stepped on Shiva and soon she realized her mistake. It was then, that she stuck out her tongue out of embarrassment and calm down.
She was ashamed that her bloodlust had prevented her from recognizing her husband. Soon she came back to her original form and the destruction was stopped. Shiva lying at the feet also symbolizes the supremacy of nature over man.
5. Various Forms of Kali
It clearly shows that without Kali or Shakti, even a powerful force, like Lord Shiva is inert. Kali is associated with many different forms and stories. Some of her forms are Maha Kali, Bhadra Kali, Dakshina Kali, and Chandika. The image of Kali has traveled from the east to the west and has made a home in the eyes of many, but in truth, the Kali does not exist in front of us. She exists in the space behind our eyes. She exists in our minds and our minds she has many shapes and forms and many meanings.