DASA MAHAVIDYA MAHAKALI: This takes her iconography one step further. She is the ten headed Dasamukhi representing all the ten Mahavidya Mothers. It is the wisdom of all ten rolled into one Kali. So she is depicted in this form as having ten heads, ten arms, and ten legs to conform Her symbolisms. Her weapons are all ritualistically from Devas and Gods. The implication is that Mahakali subsumes and is responsible for the powers that these deities possess. This is in line with the interpretation that Mahakali is identical with Brahman.
The aspiring Yogi is bound to wonder if ‘Ekamukhi Kali’, instead of displaying ten heads would signify the same concept. After-all Her powers comes through Her Grace. But She has to make it known that She too is in Yoga with the Gods who have unconditionally graced Her with their weapons. So yoga with Her is Yoga with all the Gods.
If She is so graceful, compassionate and loving, then why stand wrathfully on the inert Shava of Shiva. Well, Dasa Mahakali represents the feminine energy of Shakti; the power of Pure Creation. Shiva represents pure Consciousness which is inert in and of itself. In this context Consciousness is the quality or state of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It is the subjectivity, the awareness, the experience to feel the sense of Selfhood for the executive control of the mind.
Yogis are to remind themselves of this symbolism first, lest the first spiritual ladder becomes shaky. She has to symbolically show that Shiva without Shakti is Shava. This implies that without the power of action –Shakt which is Mahakali, is inactive. Between Shiva and Shava is the difference of ‘i’. This differential ‘i’ represents the female power or Shakti that activates Creation. So she stands as embodying Shaktism on Her own Husband. There is symbolical contact to also imply that the wild destructive Mahakali can only stop her fury when in contact and presence of Shiva, the God of Consciousness. This ensures that balance of life is not run over by wild nature altogether.
YOGA OF TRUTH: How could a blissful Mother be cruel? She symbolically kills demons representing ego, greed, lust, pride, drama and masks. This punishment balances the world as prakriti and purusha union balances the Cosmos. Notwithstanding, her fierce demeanor and myths behind them, stimulates imagination. It provokes spiritual thoughts. Her cemetery dance with tongue lolling wildly is her laughing at the attachments of us mortal humans. Mahakali is out to strip away objects which we are so craze or passionate about. This includes kama, the objects of desire that in enchained in negative thought patterns and actions.
Mahakali stands for the energies of time, transformation and death. Time is a merciless energy and gives the framework in which all transformation takes place in the universe. With time order turns to chaos, life turns to death, death turns to new life, and chaos to new order. In every moment of manifestation something is dying, giving place for something new in a continuous transformation. She teaches all this in a terrible way to take us out of predefined ego-patterns. Her ways horrify and shock so that one strips away pretensions and dares to face Cosmic Truth.
So, what is this Truth that is to sprout from Mahakali Yoga? The truth is that, most of us are deluded, attached to finite things, so much so, we become incapable to comprehend the Absolute, infinite Truth. But she is also the cause of this illusion, Maya, which is the Divine Mother Dasamukhi Mahakali. Those seeking freedom from this maya and its dilemma, worship her for divine yoga. It is her grace, her feminine energy as Mother alone that one uncovers and regains the Truth.
PURUSHA YOGA. Here again, as prakriti, Mahakali’s lessons are from her yoga with the Parama Purusha. Shiva and Shakti attain transcendence through the union of the two forces whose separation was not absolute in the first place. There is creation, evolution and finally a return to the source. So, they have fused to take the Ardhanarisvara form. This is symbolic of the entire universe as a manifestation of pure consciousness.
In manifesting the universe, this pure consciousness seems to become divided into two polarities or aspects, neither of which can exist without the other. The unmanifest consciousness retains a static quality conceptualised as masculine Shiva. The dynamic, energetic, or creative polarity aspect is Shakti. In their balanced Oneness, Shakti manifests as the great Mother of the universe. It is from Ardhanarisvara that all is born.
TANTRIK YOGA: Tantric Mahakali prompts the yogi to explore the energies of the universe to thereby understand the essence behind these energies of Ten Tantric Mothers, the Mahavidyas or Great Knowledge. Vidya is knowledge and avidya is ignorance. So the Dasa Mahavidyas represent ten fundamental, archetypical energies in the Universe. Their ten faces and attributes are symbolical of one Mother.
They are energies of Kali: the Eternal Night, the Goddesses of Time, Tara: The Goddess Who Guides through Troubles, Tripurasundari: She who is Lovely in the Three Worlds, Bhuvaneshwari: She Whose Body is the World, Chinnamasta: The Self-Decapitated Goddess, Bhairavi: The Fierce and Terrible, Dhumavati: The Widow Goddess, Bagalamukhi: The Paralysing Goddess, Matangi: The Outcaste Goddess and finally Kamala, the ever-beautiful Lotus Goddess. Each of these goddesses have a cosmic function leading to universal harmony.
Going behind the myriad energies and faces, one also has Mahakali as the adolescent Child in Bala-Tripurasundari. So the fierce Mother is also of child-like innocence of Bala, her virgin version.Tripura is the milder mother version and Tripurabhairavi is the version with menstruation ceased symbolically. Each of these states have inner meanings. A yogi meditating on Mahakali, gains access to this tantric science combined with a complex methodology.
Behind Bala, Tripurasundari and Bhairavi he sees one Divinity and has his or her Blissful tears rolling down. Guidance of a tantric master may be necessary for the inner workings of Naga or Kundalini yoga. The mysterious nature of the Absolute is comprehended when one is aware of his or her place in the Universe. The ultimate path is fusion with Divine Mahakali and her vidya.
NAGA YOGA. This is a Tamil siddha reference for kundalini yoga. One given to this practice starts with a profound awakening of our potential energy, in tantra called Kundalini, stored at the base of our spines. This energy is correlated with our sexual energy. True transformation starts when we awaken this energy and channel it to higher centers of consciousness in our being. Mahakali, in all her nakedness, lures or teases the yogi to awaken kundalini energy.
The yogi sees a sensual and powerful woman in Mahakali. She has the ability of fully enjoying life. She knows the power of love. It is the egoistic mind that is afraid of nearing Mahakali’s stiff and expansive feminine energy. The yogi takes this invitation of her erotic power, which is in fact representing the life energy itself. In Naga yoga with Mahakali, the yogi does not fear the fully awakened woman. In Kundalini tantra, Mahakali is refered as Shakti, the serpent that crawls upwards progressively to be in final Yoga with Shiva.
EROTIC YOGA: The spiritual Union of Siva and Parvati can also be explained in terms of Para Siva and Para Shakti. Siva is the physical manifestation of Para-Siva and Parvati that of Para-Shakti. In their unmanifest forms they are inseparable just as one lot of wind is not separate from. In their Uma-Mahesvara dalliance in Kailash mountains, their ecstasy and sexual bliss is Cosmic romance and Union.
The predominant spiritual despondency of the spiritual seeker is yoga. One is to go beyond the Kamasutra to meet the purusharta goals enshired in Kama Shashtras and the the Sutra. In this state, the yogi becomes aware of the romance and Union of the objective character of Prakriti and subjective consciousness perceived as Purusha.
YOGA WITH DEATH: Death is imminent, yet human fear meeting it. Mahakali Yoga assists one to understand that we came with nothing; we go with nothing also. One has to transcend this fear. Her very abode is the cemetery where each mortal journey ends and she is there to welcome you. That presence is more than welcoming a corpse; it is a reminder to those alive.
Every little moment contains a death, a destruction, for events to be able to unfold through the energy of time. What does not die is the Self. Mahakali kills the ephemeral within each yogi so that he or she gets in touch with the Universal Self. She gives the courage to do things that we never dreamt of doing. Some of this teaching is idiosyncratic. For instance, aghoris are given to lying in burial pits just hours before a corpse and coffin is really houses there for eternal rotting; or lie on cremation ash while it is within tolerable heat....
Mahakali gives the strength to take the first step to the unknown where the grounds tremble but disappears beneath the feet.
New level of Consciousness is born by being in Yoga with Kali. She tells you that death is an important moment in life and the two poles of life and death are intuitively understood by her yogic ways.
Black Tara, her Tibetian equal, asks as spiritual practice to prepare the great moment of Death. Remember the coming of death – memento mori. It is a Mahakali call to die before you actually die. When death is embraced with understanding, then one is truly able to taste the other pole of life. Worst fears and ego had died and there is the resurrected Yogi. Life and death have become two sides of the same coin and there is Oneness with Mahakali.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Yoga: Mahavidya Mothers)
By Yogi Ananda Saraswathi