Thus, She herself is the unique source of everything. Maa is also represented as the Benevolent Mother where she is the personification of Eternal Night of Peace. ‘Kal’ also translates as Time and ‘I’ means the Cause; Kali the Cause of Time or She Who is Beyond Time; activities Consciousness to perception, allows Consciousness to perceive. From the canons of orthodox Hinduism Kali, Durga, Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati are all different forms of the Ultimate Feminine Power that are revered on different occasions. Kali represents the crude powers to fight the evil, the core strengths required to battle your enemies. In Hindu thoughts, we are living in the Kali Age; the time of a resurgence of the divine feminine spirit.
SRI KALI: Sri Kali containing of time within her she is called Kaali or Kaliga . She appears with 8 hands carrying weapons and an Asura is under her feet.
SRI KALA RATHIRI: During death she comes as Payangiri, surrounded by 12 powers residing in the heart chakra of the mankind. She appears with 8 hands and has fire on her head.
SHRI CHAMUNDI: During the destruction of Chanda Munda Asuras, Kali cuts the head of Chanda and the body of Munda and hence she is called Chamundi or Chamundeshwari . She appears fierce with 8 hands and an asura under her feet.
SARVA MAYA MUNDI: The name denotes that she is omnipotent and everything in the universe including time. She appears with 8 hands and a glowering fire on her head.
RUDRA KALI: She appears together with Virabhadra from Rudra-Siva’s hair to slay Daksha.
BADHRA KALI: She is the one who bestows prosperity to her devotees. She appears with a fierce temper. She has 10 hands carrying weapons to destroy the evil and protect the Good. She appears seated with one leg hanging and with fire on her head.
SHRI MAHAKALI: Saptha Sathi powers Saraswathi , Lakshmi and Durgai together are called Mahakali. She appears with 14 hands carrying weapons. With fire burning on her head she is fierce and appears seated. She is the Kali of Tantra. When there were neither the creation, nor the sum, the moon, the planets, and the earth, when the darkness enveloped in darkness, then the Mother, the Formless One, Maha Kali, the Great Power, was one with the Maha Kala, the Absolute.
KUGHIZHA KALI: Of all the kali Avatars, Dakshina Kali and Kughizya Kali are the important ones. Kughizha Kali has very fascinating appearance, indicating that She was worshipped from the beginning of the Universe. Rama and Bharatha worshipped Her.
DAKSHINA KALI: She is Bava tharini in Calcutta and Sri Ramakrishna Parama Hamsar worshipped her. Her tales of glory is told in 14 volumes. She appears with one face and four hands. Dakshina Kali Chakra is enough to pray to all the other forms of Kali.
SHYAMALA KALI: The tender aspect to worship in Hindu households, She is the dispenser of boons and the dispeller of fear.
RAKSHA KALI: The Protectress, in times of epidemic, famine, earthquake, drought and flood.
SHAMSHAN KALI: Is the embodiment of the power of destruction. From her mouth flows a stram of blood, from her neck hangs a garland of human heads and around her waist is a girdle made of arms. She haunts cremation grounds in the company of howling jackals and terrifying spirits. She blesses Aghoris.
SIDDHA KALI: Kali worshiped by Tantrik sadhaks for perfection.
PHALARARINI KALI: Kali to destroy the results of their actiosn.
NITYA KALI: The eternal Kali to take away disease, grief and suffering and to give them perfection and illumination.
PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES: With 8 forms and countless number of avatars to destroy the evil asuras, Kali is worshipped in numerous forms, figures and ways. Her physical attributes gives her yet another classification .
• Kali with 2 hands carrying weapons to kill the evil and protect the good.
• Kalli with four hands is dark in colour and appears fierce. She bestows all boons to those who worship her.
• Kali with six hands is red in colour and is fierce in her temper. She appears with weapons to destroy the evil asuras and protect the good.
• Kali with eight hands has one-face three eyes and is dark in colour. With fire in her hair she is the source of Kundalini Yoga.
• Kali appear with 10 hands, 10 faces and 10 legs. Maha Kali appears in blue colour and she is the one created to destroy the Madhu Kaidabar.
• Kali appears with sixteen hands and is in different colours. With several weapons she appears fierce.
• Kali appears with 18 hands seated on a lion. With a very fierce appearance and using the spirits as her transport she is gross in her nature. With weapons she destroys the evil and protects the good.
WHO IS KALI: Devi gives her own description in the Kulachudaman Tantra. This tantra is a ‘nigama’, meaning that instead of Devi asking questions answered by Lord Shiva , he asks questions answered by Devi, the goddess. In this tantra the cult goddess is Mahishamardini, a Devi with some similarities to Durga. In seven short chapters, Devi expounds the essence of her worship, sometimes in beautiful and nearly always in colourful language. But the uncanny side of Kaula and Kali worship is dwelt on in great detail, with references to siddhi, including a mysterious process where the tantrik adept leaves his body at night, apparently so he can engage in sexual intercourse with Shaktis.
From the First Patala -The Lord asks: O Lovely Hipped One, now speak to me of their essence if you have love for me. Devi said: “Listen Deva, supremely blissful quintessence, the Lord of Kula, to the very essence of knowledge of the ocean of Kula tantra, concealed by my Maya. I am Great Nature, consciousness, bliss, the quintessence, devotedly praised. Where I am, there are no Brahma, Hara, Shambhu or other devas, nor is there creation, maintenance or dissolution. Where I am, there is no attachment, happiness, sadness, liberation, goodness, faith, atheism, guru or disciple.”
DEPICTION: Kali is the Goddess of destruction. Her image is usually shown with one foot on Lord Shiva's chest, a severed head in one hand, her sword in the other, and wearing a garland of skulls. Kali is worshipped as the Mother Goddess who protects from evil. She also epitomises strength or 'Shakti' and the darker side of life. She has several arms according to her manifestations. She holds in one a weapon, in another the head of a giant, dripping blood; the other two are raised to bless the worshipers. Her terrible appearance is made all the more gruesome with her ornaments of necklace of snakes, skulls and heads of her sons and a belt from, which hangs demon's hands. She is also the compassionate Mother. The two mudras in her right ands, 'abhaya' -protection from fear and 'vara' - granting of boons and the raised blood-smeared sword in one of her left hands with the freshly severed head of a demon dangling from the other hand, with three eyes standing for the sun, the moon and agni make her a most complex symbol of love, compassion and error. The actual puja takes place at midnight on the day of the new moon smeared with blood, or the symbolic kumkum, the brow bearing a third eye, like Shiva's.
MAHAVIDYAS: A sadhaka or sadhvika can worship the goddess -- the Devi in any of ten forms for the fruition of desires. Her ten major forms are Kali, Tara, Shodasi, Bhuvaneshvari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagala, Matangi and Kamala. These aspects are known as the Dasa Mahavidyas. How was this dynamic circle of ten Kalis was formed? In the glorious Satya Yuha, Siva and Kali are perfect couples. But Siva grows restless and gets tired of living with Kali. He gets up and wanders off! However in whatever direction Siva took, there was always a form of Kali as one of the Mahavidyas who ‘fill the four quarters in the ten directions.’ So wherever He goes, She is there in one of Her energetic forms.
RUTHRAKALI IN MYTHOLOGY: In early days Adi Parasakthi manifested as the Mahavidyas to uphold righteousness. Maa’s earliest manifestation Athya, the one who appeared first. Kali Maa story is told in Maha Kala Samhiyhai Maha Niruvana Tanthoram, Yogini Thothram, and Kamadhenu Tantram, Kandhava thantram, Sri Kalikagamam. Her manifestations as "Ruthra Kali" is equally revered. Without His Shakti, Ruthra or Siva was powerless.
The story Daksha’s yagna is mentioned in the Shiva Purana and Markandeya Purana. The enmity between Daksha and his son in law, Lord Shiva is well known. Daksha made arrangements for a great horse sacrifice. Not only was Shiva uninvited but Daksha went on to defile Shiva’s statute. Sati was also snubbed.
Being unable to tolerate the insult, Sati enters the yajna and immolates herself. Shiva’s Rudraganas rushed inside the yagya ceremony hall and starting attacking the guests but had to retreat due to Bhirgu’s counter-attacks. Hearing the news, Siva was furious of that Daksha would cause the harm of his own daughter in such manner. He burned with anger, grabbed a flock of his matted hair, tore it and sent it crushing to the ground.
From it were born the ferocious Viravhadra and Rudrakali. Virabhadra, the destroyer of ajnana, sprang from it, his tall body reached the high heavens, he was dark as clouds, he had a thousand arms, three burning eyes, and fiery hairl he wore a garland of skulls and carried terrible weapons. From Sati’s anger arose Bhadrakali. They caused havoc destroying every conceivable part of the yagna. Daksha was killed. Terrified with this the gods begged Siva to allow the yagna to continue. Daksha’s life was restored by him being given the head of a goat. Later, Daksha became a Shiva bhakta.
Thus Rudra Kali in the Shiva Purana seems to be a Rudra-Siva manifestation. The Vayu Purana gives another version. Maheswara orders that the Daksha’s yagna is to be interfered and destroyed. The mighty Virabhadra, bowed down his head to the feet of Siva and starting like a lion loosened bonds, despoiled the sacrifice of Daksha, knowing that had been created by the displeasure of Devi. She too in her wrath, as the fearful goddess Rudrakali, accompanied him, with all her train to witness his deeds. Jai Maa Kali
(draft Chap 6. Gods and Goddesses)
By Yogi Ananda Saraswati