Kali is considered to stand, outside of the constraints of space-time and have no permanent qualities; she existed before the universe was created and will continue to exist after the universe ends. Limitations of the physical world such as colour, light, good and bad do not apply to Kali.
Awe Inspiring, Protective Qualities of Goddess Kali Pt.2
In her earliest appearances, Kali was frequently associated with violent endeavours on the battlefields of the gods.
In one legendary battle with the demon Raktabija, Kali is manifested by Durga to deal with a situation that has gotten badly out of hand. Every drop of blood spilled by the wounded Raktabija becomes a deadly fighting clone, but Kali turns the battle around and defeats Raktabija by draining his blood before it touches the ground, then devours his replicates. In this story Kali is brought in to play when decisive action is required, when dark deeds must be matched with dark deeds, when resolve must be shown.
- Attributes not always associated in the west with the archetypal Woman. In another story, Kali is summoned by a group of criminals who decide to sacrifice a human to her image in order to gain her favour. They unwisely choose a young Brahmin monk of upstanding character, however his saintliness shines so brightly that her statue is scorched in his presence. Kali manifests but proceeds to horribly kill her erstwhile worshipers by decapitating them and drinking their blood. Here, Kali demonstrates her refusal to be controlled by those who think they understand her and her triumph over the attributes of ignorance and evil, as well as the absolute impartiality of her nature.
While Kali was well integrated into the Vedic, or orthodox, Hindu tradition from the first, she also developed a parallel relationship with Tantra. Tantric teachings are a collection of ancient magical stories and folk practices that exist alongside the Vedic tradition, and could be considered to hold to the wild tribal origins of Kali more faithfully than the Vedic.
One of the meanings of Kali’s name is
“FORCE OF TIME”.
In this aspect, Kali is considered to stand, outside of the constraints of space-time and have no permanent qualities; she existed before the universe was created and will continue to exist after the universe ends. Limitations of the physical world such as colour, light, good and bad do not apply to Kali.
Kali is a symbol of Mother Nature herself, – Primordial, creative, nurturing and devouring in turn, but ultimately loving and benevolent. In this aspect of goodness she is referred to as Kali Ma, Mother Kali, or Divine Mother, and many millions of Hindus revere and worship her in this form. In Tantric meditation, Kali’s dual nature leads practitioners to simultaneously face the beauty of life and the reality of death, with the understanding that one cannot exist without the other. It is worth noting that Shiva, in his role of destroyer of worlds, also stands outside the boundaries of the physical universe and is well complimented by his association with Kali.
Kali’s worship was not always so benign. From the 14th century to the 19th century, a cult group called the Thuggee (from the Hindu word to deceive) was operating at will in India. A hereditary sect, Thuggee membership was passed from father to son, although outsiders, particularly criminals, could be recruited if found worthy – or might end up as victim if not. During its peak, the group is believed to have had thousands of followers and during the 600 years of its operation its members are estimated to have killed anywhere between 500,000 and 2 million people. Thuggees proudly traced their origin to the battle of Kali against Raktabija, and considered themselves her children, created from her sweat. Pandering to the fiercest aspects of Kali and her requirement for death, destruction and human sacrifice, the Thuggee believed that they were doing Kali’s sacred work (although it should be noted that they had no hesitation in also robbing their victims). The British finally wiped out the Thuggees in the mid 19th century, and the cult of religious stranglers ceased to exist except in myth and folklore.