Why Mother Kali

  • By Pravrajika Brahmaprana
  • March 2016

Editor: Prabuddha Bharata, the magazine from the Ramakrishna Mission came out with a special issue in January 2016 titled ‘Reflections on Tantra’. Esamskriti is uploading select articles from this masterpiece issue. If you like to download the entire issue (one with brown cover) Click here

Excerpts from article – “Who is this strange goddess, and why, of all the gods and goddesses in Hinduism, would Sri Ramakrishna choose to worship and invoke her as his personal Ishta, his chosen deity? Some of you, perhaps, have asked this very question. Many of you have seen various pictures of Kali. And you have probably also seen photos of the very image of Kali that was worshipped by Sri Ramakrishna. Perhaps some of you have even personally seen her in a visit to the Dakshineswar temple, so you know what she looks like.

Perhaps you also know some of the symbolism behind this image: Her dark colour represents the infinite; her three eyes represent knowledge of the past, present, and future. Her red tongue sticking out represents rajas, the quality of activity; while her white teeth, pressed on her tongue, represent sattva, the quality of calmness. Both then represent the quality of activity being controlled by calmness. The garland of fifty skulls represents the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, which also means speech. The sword in her upper left hand cuts our ignorance, or bondage; while the severed head in the lower left hand is said to bestow wisdom. As Kali stands on Shiva, who represents the Absolute aspect of God, so Kali represents the cosmic power, or Shakti, that brings creation into being.

The article includes Why Kali, The Significance of Kali Worship, The Motherhood of God, The Symbolism of Kali, Kali: The Symbol of Death.

Author is a nun at Vivekananda Retreat, Ridgely, New York.

To read article in PDF format.

This article was first published in the Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata (www.advaitaashrama.org). I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. You can subscribe online at www.advaitaashrama.org. Cost is Rs 100/ for one year, Rs 280/ for three years, Rs 1,200/ for twenty years and Rs 2,000 for twenty five years.

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