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Kalimath: Going beyond the form of Devi


Kali Mah­eswai Par­vathi Shankari

Sha­ranam Sha­ranam Sha­ranam Amma

dhuk­ka vinaashi­ni dur­ga jai jai kaala vinaashi­ni kaali jai jai |

Every time we vis­it Kali­math as a part of Anaadi’s Himalayan Yatra, the expe­ri­ence is unique and mov­ing. Tem­ples of the God­dess have a unique flavour: colour­ful yet fiery. In the dra­ma of life, we can get so rigid and aggres­sive that we hard­ly get oppor­tu­ni­ties to melt and become flu­id. A few moments of med­i­ta­tion at the Kali­math shrine can melt your heart and your whole being some­times. Such is Her pow­er and grace! Com­pas­sion is not the only emo­tion she evokes as a Divine Moth­er! If we need the sak­ti to counter the neg­a­tiv­i­ties of this world, we will need her fierce qual­i­ties that pul­ver­ize the neg­a­tive forces. She is the blood thirsty Bhadrakaali who had to be stopped by Shi­va and she is also the Mahakali who con­tin­u­osly show­ered her bless­ings upon a Mahat­ma like Ramakr­ish­na.

Kali­math is locat­ed close to Ukhi­math and is con­sid­ered to be one of the Shak­ti peethas. The unique thing about this tem­ple is that Maa Kali is wor­shipped in the form of a Sri Yantra. The tem­ple is a small com­plex with the Sri Yantra at the cen­ter (not vis­i­ble to the wor­ship­pers). The Sri Yantra is tak­en from the ground only on the 8th day of Navarathri and mid­night Puja is offered to it.

The Devi Bha­ga­vatam nar­rates the killing of Rak­tab­hi­ja by Devi. Rak­tab­hi­ja came with a unique boon that a new rak­tab­hi­ja would be born from every drop of his blood that spills on the ground. Rak­tab­hi­ja was severe­ly wound­ed in the bat­tle that Ambi­ka was fight­ing with Shum­ba and Nishum­ba. With his ter­ri­ble boon, more and more Rak­tab­hi­jas emerged from the drops of blood. None oth­er than Kali could han­dle this. She stuck out her tongue and start­ed lick­ing every drop of blood. It so hap­pened that Rak­tab­hi­ja start­ed mul­ti­ply­ing in her stom­ach. Maa Kali invoked the fire with­in her and through the shak­ti of her jatarag­ni she digest­ed Rak­tab­hi­ja and elim­i­nat­ed him. This form who drank the demon’s blood is also called Rak­thesh­wari. After fin­ish­ing Rak­tab­hi­ja, Maa Kali entered the shrine which we wor­ship at Kali­math today. Ayurve­da talks of 40 types of Agni that are respon­si­ble for var­i­ous trans­for­ma­tive process­es in the body. (Source: Text­book of Ayurve­da , Vas­ant Lad)


palāyanaparāndṛṣṭvā daityānmātṛgaṇārditān | yoddhumabhyāyayau kruddho raktabījo mahāsuraḥ || raktabinduryadā bhūmau patatyasya śarīrataḥ | samutpatati medinyāṃ tatpramāṇo mahāsuraḥ || yuyudhe sa gadāpāṇirindraśaktyā mahāsuraḥ | tataścaindrī svavajreṇa raktabījamatāḍayat || kuliśenāhatasyāśu bahu susrāva śoṇitam | samuttasthustato yodhāstadrapāstatparākramāḥ || yāvantaḥ patitāstasya śarīrādraktabindavaḥ | tāvantaḥ puruṣā jātāḥ stadvīryabalavikramāḥ || te cāpi yuyudhustatra puruṣā rakta sambhavāḥ | samaṃ mātṛbhiratyugraśastrapātātibhīṣaṇaṃ || punaśca vajra pātena kṣata maśya śiro yadā | vavāha raktaṃ puruṣāstato jātāḥ sahasraśaḥ || vaiṣṇavī samare cainaṃ cakreṇābhijaghāna ha | gadayā tāḍayāmāsa aindrī tamasureśvaram || vaiṣṇavī cakrabhinnasya rudhirasrāva sambhavaiḥ | sahasraśo jagadvyāptaṃ tatpramāṇairmahāsuraiḥ || śaktyā jaghāna kaumārī vārāhī ca tathāsinā | māheśvarī triśūlena raktabījaṃ mahāsuram || sa cāpi gadayā daityaḥ sarvā evāhanat pṛthak | mātr̥̄ḥ kopasamāviṣṭo raktabījo mahāsuraḥ || tasyāhatasya bahudhā śaktiśūlādi bhirbhuviḥ | papāta yo vai raktaughastenāsañcataśo‌உsurāḥ || taiścāsurāsṛksambhūtairasuraiḥ sakalaṃ jagat | vyāptamāsīttato devā bhayamājagmuruttamam || tān viṣaṇṇā n surān dṛṣṭvā caṇḍikā prāhasatvaram | uvāca kāḷīṃ cāmuṇḍe vistīrṇaṃ vadanaṃ kuru || macchastrapātasambhūtān raktabindūn mahāsurān | raktabindoḥ pratīccha tvaṃ vaktreṇānena veginā || bhakṣayantī cara raṇo tadutpannānmahāsurān | evameṣa kṣayaṃ daityaḥ kṣeṇa rakto gamiṣyati || bhakṣya māṇā stvayā cogrā na cotpatsyanti cāpare | ityuktvā tāṃ tato devī śūlenābhijaghāna tam || mukhena kāḷī jagṛhe raktabījasya śoṇitam | tato‌உsāvājaghānātha gadayā tatra caṇḍikāṃ || na cāsyā vedanāṃ cakre gadāpāto‌உlpikāmapi | tasyāhatasya dehāttu bahu susrāva śoṇitam || yatastatastadvaktreṇa cāmuṇḍā sampratīcchati | mukhe samudgatā ye‌உsyā raktapātānmahāsurāḥ || tāṃścakhādātha cāmuṇḍā papau tasya ca śoṇitam || devī śūlena vajreṇa bāṇairasibhir ṛṣṭibhiḥ | jaghāna raktabījaṃ taṃ cāmuṇḍā pīta śoṇitam || sa papāta mahīpṛṣṭhe śastrasaṅghasamāhataḥ | nīraktaśca mahīpāla raktabījo mahāsuraḥ || tataste harṣa matulam avāpustridaśā nṛpa | teṣāṃ mātṛgaṇo jāto nanartāsṛṃṅgamadoddhataḥ || svasti śrī mārkaṇḍeya purāṇe sāvarnike manvantare devi mahatmye raktabījavadhonāma aṣṭamodhyāya samāptam || āhuti oṃ jayantī sāṅgāyai saśaktikāyai saparivārāyai savāhanāyai raktākṣyai aṣṭamātṛ sahitāyai mahāhutiṃ samarpayāmi namaḥ svāhā ||

While most devi tem­ples could look sim­ple from the out­side, the pow­er­ful ener­gy is tan­gi­ble and per­ceiv­able by the tuned Bhak­ta. Not that is not avail­able to every­one! Our lifestyles have made our instru­ments (antah and bahya) so lim­it­ed that we derive only the out­er­most ben­e­fits of our tem­ples. The Shak­ta tra­di­tion or Shak­tism looks at every­thing as fun­da­men­tal­ly fem­i­nine. She is looked at the pow­er­ful, com­pas­sion­ate, all-encom­pass­ing and per­va­sive ener­gy. Every­thing, ani­mate and inan­i­mate in this uni­verse is attrib­uted to Her and noth­ing exists or moves with­out Her. Pow­er­ful and sig­nif­i­cant things are cre­at­ed with Devi’s ener­gies and acces­si­ble to all devo­tees in Her tem­ples. She not only bestows mate­r­i­al pros­per­i­ty but is a Mok­sha­dayi­ni for the one who is pre­pared enough.

May Maa Kali giv­er us the eyes to per­ceive Her in every­thing we see around and imbibe qual­i­ties that can help us oper­ate in this world with com­pas­sion, inclu­siv­i­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty!

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