Kundalini aspects of Parvati differ according to each of her manifestations. Durga is a fierce form Mother Parvati and she goes on to manifest as the more fierce and terrible Kali. She is worshiped as Mahakali, Dakshina Kalika, Shmashanakali, Bhadrakali, Kamakali, and Guhyakali, amongst many others. Kashmir Shaivism identifies twelve forms, whereas Southern Shaivism has innumerable variations. Mother Guhya Kali is not the same as the Shmashan Kali form of Parvati. Guhya Kali, meaning Secret Kali, manifests in eight different forms, with eight different mantras, worshipped by eight great seers.
These forms of Kali appear with 100, 60, 36, 20, 10, 5, 3, 2 and a single face. In Kali Yuga, the 16-lettered mantra for the ten-faced form of Guhya Kali consists of fifty-four hands. She was worshipped by Bharata, Sri Rama’s brother. In his then circumstances, Bharata dedicated his sadhana to Guhya Kali. Rama is said to have prayed to Guhya Kali with a vidya of seventeen letters. These vidyas are held to be secret. Unlike Dakshina Kali, Guhya Kali represents both Srsti and Samhara equally.
While tantric practice of Guhya Kali remains and is to remain secretive unless instructed by a tantric guru and strict observance of tantric mandates, brief description can be made of this Mother and tantric literature. These are found in Guhyakalika, Secret Kali Kanda of Mahakala Samhita.
MAHAKALASAMHITA: This is in the form of a discourse in which Mahakala responds to questions posed by his spouse Mahakali. His answers gives us a picture of Guhya Kali shred in mysery and utmost secrecy. Mahakala commences the kanda by his willingness to reveal meditation forms being dhyana and rules for Guhya Kali worship. He also reveals eighteen mantras and yantras.
FORMS: Guhyakali, he says, has forms with 100, 60, 36, 30, 20, 10, five, three, two and one faces. Different mantras correspond to these different forms, which he then reveals, using the usual codes for the different letters of the Sanskrit alphabet employed in other tantras.
SIMHASANA: Mahakala commences the discourse if Guhyakali in simhasana, on her lion. She gives the dikpala or guardians of the directions to the five great corpses of Shiva on which she sits.
BHAIRAVA: He is the sixth pitha, described as black complexioned with four arms. Bhairava appears terrifying and he is the cause of fear. He is five faced, each with three eyes. There is a khatvanga staf and scissors in his hands. He also holds a skull and damaru. Garland of skulls adorn the fanged Bhairava.
He is on an eight petalled lotus. Four petals of the major directions symbolize dharma, jnana, vairagya and aishvarya. Varigya is dispassion and aishvarya means dominion. Shiva, above Bhairava is clothed in tiger skin. He is two-armed and holds a skull-staff and a trishula.
TEN FACED FORM: Mahakala then describes the twenty-seven eyed, ten-faced form of Guhyakali and her animal aspects represented by each of her faces. Dvipika: a leopard or possibly a panther; Keshari: a white lion; Pheru: black jackal; Vanara: red moneky; Riksha: purple bear; Nara: cochineal colored woman; tawny Garuda; Makara: turmeric color crocodile; Gaja: gold color elephant; Haya: dark or shyama color horse.
HUMAN FACE: Jagadambika, Mother of the Universe has a terrible lolling blood dripping tongue. Her laughter is sharp and shrieking. Both her garlands and earrings are skulls. She has fifty-four arms. In Her right hands she has rosary, scissors, goad, a rock, a danda, a jeweled pot, a trishula, five and arrows, a discuss, a bamboo stave, a fire hearth, a barbed hook, a man’s skeleton, young corpse and threatening mudra. She holds a bhindipala- a sling and shataghni- club studded with metal nails.
TRIPURASUNDARI: Guhyakali is the darker form of Mother Tripura. She has three major forms corresponding to creation, maintenance and destruction. Thus Guhya Kali is the sum total of Mahavidya tantric practice.
SHAMSHAN: Guhyakali dwells within the centre of eight cremation grounds. These shmashans are: Mahaghora, Kaladanda, Jvalakula, Chandapasha, Kapalika, Dhumakula, Bhimangara, and Bhutanatha.
WORSHIP: Her worship honours the Vetalas or vampires, eight tridents, vajras, jackals and corpses, Bhairavas, dakinis, Chamundas, Kshetrapalas, Ganapatis and other denizens of the cremation ground.
YANTRA: Mahakala instructs eighteen yantras. Her one letter mantra is ‘Phrem’. The first Yantra consists of a bindu, a triangle, a hexagon, a pentagon, a circle, 16 petals, eight petals and four doors, adorned with tridents and skulls.
SHRIKANTA: Shiva known as Shrikantha ‘the one with the beautiful throat’. Shiva and Shakti are in Kamakala or gods in copulation. Shakti in her Guhyakali form, has worked her kundalini upwards Shiva’s spine. This energetic depiction represents Shiva’s form dancing in ecstasy as he copulates with his consort Guhyakali. This also seems to be the Buddhist version except that the art form differs here and there.
In this depiction, Shiva’s bull and Shakti’s lion are found by their sides to identify them as Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is dancing in the pratyalidha pose, trampling on two demons lying beneath his foot. He holds his primary hands in varahamudra and abhamudra, his remaining eight hands radiating around him and holding attributes including a trishul, triatna, danda, mala and pushtaka. Devi is depicted with twelve arms and six heads, her left leg wrapped around Shiva’s waist, and her right foot trampling on a demon or lesser god, who is lying on her vehicle the lion. She holds a kapala, ghanta, capa, kartika, sara and trishula.
RITUALS: Would not be discussed here. If interest prevails, please take it up with a tantric guru in person.
Thanks to Mike Magee