Thursday, March 5, 2009
KALI: A Goddess for Thugs and Bi-Polar Women . . . And Me Too.
So the devas are fighting a huge contingent of demons, and are finding themselves quite overwhelmed. Well, naturally they go to get the big guns (so to speak, in spite of my distaste for firearms). At first seeking Siva, but discovering he's unavailable--off meditating, of course. So they enlist Kali, a clear sign of the desperation of the situation, and a case of a cure potentially worse than the illness.
So Kali goes to work, cutting down thousands of demons with but a single swing of her blade. Once all the demons are slain, however, her wrath goes on unabated. Kali's blade continues to swing, cutting deep gashes into the earth, and felling forests with swaths miles wide.
Whilst typing the above paragraph, and specifically when penning in the phrase "cutting deep gashes into the earth" I thought of the gorges in and around Ithaca, NY, and then thought broader in scale to consider the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York as clear candidates for those ancient scars of Kali's rage loosed and manifest as signature for ages to come of her might. Just a musing, mind you . . . but not too unlikely if you'll glance at other evidences of Divine imprints upon the earth (see post, "Reading the Map Like Constellations").
Well, these other deities, of so may faces of Divine Being, decide they've now a peril in Kali's continued rant and wrath, so they interrupt Siva's meditation, figuring He'd know what to do. Well, Kali's Consort lays down amidst so many bodies on the battlefield and waits for Her to pass. As She comes to Him, Kali either recognizes her Lover and is halted there, else whilst stepping over is entered by a Divine Erection and is given cause to pause--thus her extended tongue, though the coital version or vision of this myth's not depicted in the depiction above.
The Dance above depicted is called Tandava, wherein in concert with Consort, Kali wildly and in perfect beauty moves Her body in relationship to Her Partner, expressing and manifesting creation, maintenance and destruction by mudras and asanas, movements and emotion.
Bhowanee is a name by which Kali is called by the notorious Thuggee of India. The English word "thug" is derived from these bandits who were known to strangle their victims. My guess as to why these worship Devi Kali is that She's the only Goddess can command respect amongst such an unruly bunch. That, and cuz She's extremely badass, and wears human arms and skulls as Her attire.
Writ within these sometimes startling stories are archetypally and psychologically and often sexually well considered cycles of human behavior that function at both the small and large scales. Kali's rage is emblematic of the fury of the protective mother, an impetus inscribed into DNA and issuing from the subtle source of Mind. Perhaps not always rational, as once that primal rage is unleashed or invoked, anyone or anything that happens in her way is in grave danger regardless of whether or not a threat. Indeed, as crass as this might seem to a feminist perspective, it is often by the proper key fitted into her, linga in yoni, that said rage is quelled, or better, transformed. Another version has it that Siva turns into a baby and lays amidst the dead demons on the battlefield to elicit a different, perhaps more direct turn of the protective maternal from the destructive-protective to the nurturing.
The wonder of sanAtana dharma is that these cycles have been considered over thousands of years in continuous lineages, scientifically and spiritually, and unlike so many other cultures' myth cycles, sanAtana dharma has figured and been shown and shows how to turn those common cycles to a good page in the "choose your own adventure" of life. In such a well ordered (if seeming chaotic) and contemplatively and meditatively considered set of subtle blueprints for Being, no one ends up pushing a rock up a hill forever. At some point, if perhaps after many years of such sadhana (practice towards liberation) dharma finds the transformation of all such ill cycles, for if that unfortunate other is not dualistically separate from any other then it is in some guise everyones responsibility to see to it that every other is on the path of moksha, so indeed we might all be free.