Question: In that picture, Mother Kali is represented doing different things with her four arms. What is she actually doing?

Sri Chinmoy: These paintings are done by contemporary Indian artists. They are usually calendar illustrations. The ones of Kali show her in her vital aspect, not as she appears in the highest transcendental worlds. There she is all golden and extremely beautiful. But in these paintings, we see Kali as the divine warrior, sometimes looking very grotesque and even hideous. She wears a garland of skulls and has her tongue stuck out. The objects in her four arms differ according to the particular artist, but often with one arm she is blessing. With the second arm, she is holding the beheaded Ravana, the embodiment of evil. With a third arm, she is fighting the hostile forces with the bloody scimitar, and in her fourth arm, she is holding Lord Shiva’s trident. I shall explain this later. Now in the picture, Kali is placing her foot on the chest of her husband, Shiva. How can a wife place her foot on her husband’s chest? In India especially, this is unbelievable. Some people say that she brought out her tongue in surprise when she realised that she was stepping on her husband’s chest. But it actually means that when this particular Mother was fighting with the hostile forces and their blood was running profusely, she was drinking the blood of these hostile forces. That is why her tongue is stuck out. When Kali was killing the great hostile force, Ravana, she saw that from one drop of his blood, millions and billions of hostile forces were taking birth. So after killing him and cutting off his head, she is drinking his blood so that no more hostile forces would be born. In some pictures of Kali, instead of one hand blessing the divine forces, this hand holds a bowl, into which is dripping the blood from Ravana’s beheaded head.

And now, why is she seen to be standing on her husband? When she was fighting, it was all water and flowing blood. She needed space. When the divine starts fighting, both the dynamic and the static states are brought into play. Dynamism can take place only where there is a static base. Somebody must remain solidly anchored and still; Kali’s own husband offered. She was moving while fighting, so she needed some place where she could get a footing. Lord Shiva played the part of her static base by lying down and allowing her to stand upon his chest.

Each goddess has a secret and special name. While this Goddess is normally known as Kali or Mahakali (Great Kali), her secret name is Kring. Many years ago, when I started worshipping her, I had to say her name most powerfully: AUM, Krinng, Krinnng, Krinnng…. All fear, all the world’s fear has to leave when you repeat her name, her secret name. I used to repeat her secret name thousands and millions of times when I was thirteen or fourteen years old.

With other Goddesses, for example, if we invoke Saraswati, it is a softer and more gentle vibration. Saraswati’s secret name is Ohing. You invoke Ohing, Ohing, Ohing. Sarawasti will bless you with inner illumination, musical capacity and perfectionism. But for this goddess Kali, you have to break your palate when you invoke her mantra, Kring. Here I am not doing it powerfully. When I used to chant it repeatedly in full voice, it was infinitely more powerful and sonorous than now.

Sri Chinmoy, Earth's cry meets heaven's smile, part 3.First published by Agni Press in 1978.

This is the 412th book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.

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by Sri Chinmoy
From the book Earth's cry meets heaven's smile, part 3, made available to share under a Creative Commons license

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