View Full Version : Why Black?

21 August 2009, 10:07 PM
hariḥ oṁ


I wrote some time back¹

Yet one may think that Kālī is only associated with the death of the individual and viewed somewhat negatively. This is the beauty of this knowledge - Kālī can be viewed and experienced as Dakṣiṇa Kālī and as Bhadra Kālī.
Dakṣiṇa is defined as the right ,straightforward , candid , sincere , pleasing , i.e. right action or right facing. So Dakṣiṇa Kālī is that śakti that brings the delight of vanquishing that is right action, straight forward.
Mother Divine's actions here are uplifting, evolutionary in nature, upholding ( dharma) for the individual or society. One can see the 'death' of bad habits, the ending of negative attributes, the removal of obstacles. She is seen as the might of the Supreme no doubt, but this might is done with discernment - right action , skill.
Without something being destroyed, consumed, there is no room for creation or advancement to occur. Even during ones meditation, one comes back from turiya anew, fresh. Something was given up, destroyed - fatigue, stress, etc.

In fact the correct way to write Dakṣiṇa as it is applied to Mother Divine would be dakṣiṇā. A beautiful word that also means right facing, a gift or reward given to the priest, and is another name for Mother Durgā. More on this word and its application in the next post.

So, the question is why do we see Kālī black? One view is black is the total absence of color - and that then is nirguṇa निर्गुण devoid of all qualities or properties, attribute-less. Dakṣiṇā Kālī is representing the Absolute, akṣara. She is akṣara, the imperishable, indestructible , undying, She does not perish.

Another view is black is that which absorbs all , the merging of all and hence even ignorance is destroyed by Her. Her bloody sword is the might of sattvia, that ignorance is severed ( Her holding a severed head in hand). Her might is so great that even Yama the lord of death ( who resides in the south or dakṣiṇa) runs away in fear. That is she destroys death for her devotees.

I find it worthy of note that that Kṛṣṇa and Kālī are depicted as black in color - the association to the transcendence and akṣara. Their bījā ¹mantras are also quite similar. Kṛṣṇa's bījā is that of Klīm ( sounding like kleem) and Dakṣiṇā Kālī's is krīm ( sounding like kreem).

More in the next post…


words and references
HDF post http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=3226 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=3226)
bījā बीजा- seed; in this application it is the 'seed' sound or mantra.

22 August 2009, 01:13 PM
hariḥ oṁ


How does the worship or adoration of dakṣiṇā kālī overcome death? Let me offer one point of view for your kind consideration. Yama is that of restraints . Yama means to rein , curb , bridle. These are not bad things as we know them from our discussion on the 5 yamas called out by Patañjali discussed on this HDF Post: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?p=31624#post31624 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?p=31624)
Yet the ultimate restraint is the halting of one's life, the halting of time kāla (some write it like this , kAla) ¹ काल.

Time is a measure of a sequence of events occuring on the continuum of eternity (this is my definition - othesr may have different views). That stoppage we give the name Yama , or death occurring along the continuum - He restrains the continuious movement.

So, how does dakṣiṇā kālī save you from this Yama? She is beyond time , beyond the 3 guna'-s and therefore not subject to death and its rules. She removes one from the clutches of Yama.
When one becomes established in the SELF, ātman, brahman, then one has gone beyond death. 'But the body dies' you say. Yes this is true, the body is subject to the laws of the 3 guna-s. Yet Ādi Śaṅkara-ji coaches us on the following:
The 158th śloka of Vivekacūḍāmaṇi says the following:
pāṇi pādādimān deho nātmā vyaṅge'pi jīvanāt |
tat- tacchakter anāśāc ca na niyāmyo niyāmakaḥ||
The body, consisting of hands, feet and so on, cannot be the SELF because one lives without these limbs and continues to function. The controlled cannot be the controller.

If you wish to read more of this, see HDF postings found here: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=4033 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=4033)

So the aligment to dakṣiṇā kālī is dakṣiṇa - right facing, right action bringing sākṣātkāra साक्षात्कार- evident or intuitive perception , realization of ones true Being. 'But we know kālī as one that destroys, how can She help me?' . The wisdom is hidden in her name ( as I see it)
kālī काली = kā+ lī

kā का - from the root kan - to seek , desire , yearn , love ; be sought after; to satisfy
lī ली - to adhere , obtain What is there to seek and obtain that is right facing, right action ? Her grace is the transformation of the seeker to the SELF.
And how does one win her favor? The alignment of Awareness with the inflowing and outflowing of the breath.
From this post: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=31576&postcount=8 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=31576&postcount=8)

As for the breath portion of this application karma yoga ( one of my favorites) - There is a substantial difference between casual, autonomic ( involuntary) breathing and breathing knowingly, with awareness. By recognizing the in-breath and the out-breath¹ , it's gaps or pauses ( some call kumbhaka¹) and several other approaches one grooms silence and the expansion of stillness. here are a few for your consideration¹


words and references

the third root kal is to calculate or enumerate - a fixed or right point of time , a space of time , time in general
http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=18322&postcount=3 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=18322&postcount=3)
http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=18381&postcount=7 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=18381&postcount=7)
what is in-breath and out-breath ? http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=3911&highlight=breath (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=3911&highlight=breath)
types of techniques : http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=18322&postcount=3 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=18322&postcount=3)
kumbhaka कुम्भक- a measure; a pot. Now how does this apply to the conversation? The pot ( lungs) can be filled with air or empty for a 'measure' of time.

23 August 2009, 12:37 PM
hariḥ oṁ


One may ask, 'what is this principle that is being offered, this adoration of dakṣiṇā kālī?'.
The principle is the following: śaivīmukham ihocyate -or- śaivī + mukham uccyate

śaivī is śakti or Śrī Devī ( or dakṣiṇā kālī) + mukham is mukha - mouth, opening or aperture. And ucyate is moving, connected or joined. uccyate also means explained.This says Śrī Devī ( or dakṣiṇā kālī) is the opening, the entrance to śiva .
It is this śakti that is non-different then śiva that is the entrance point to the intimate union with Śivabhaṭṭāraka- the great Lord ( this is called sāyujya सायुज्य ).

Hence we see that the alignment with, the adoration of Mother Divine as Śrī Devī as dakṣiṇā kālī is the entrance to the Supreme.

But who says this, surely this is not the wisdom of yajvan¹. It comes from the 20th kārikā of Vijñāna Bhairava. A conversation and
instruction between Śiva and Śrī Devī. Śiva is informing Śrī Devī ( and the sādhaka) how this union is accomplished.

When one is connected to the Supreme, then death, the 3 guna-s , sorrows, are all left behind.



sāyujya सायुज्य intimate union , communion with Śivabhaṭṭāraka- the great Lord , venerable or worshipful
uccyate components - uc उच् - to become accustomed, suitable with + yat यत् - to seek to join one's self with , make for , tend towards
yajvan यज्वन् - a worshipper; rooted in yaj , to offer, present.
We find yaj in yajamāna sacrificing, worshiping.
The moon is also known as yajvnāmpatiḥ; and the moon is considered pārvatī.

Eastern Mind
23 August 2009, 12:43 PM

Off Yajvan's topic, but does anyone know why Ayyappan devotees wear black on yatras?

Just curious.


24 August 2009, 07:59 PM
hariḥ oṁ


why is kālī often depicted naked?
She is without boundaries, boundless. Showing kālī with no clothes is the symbol (saṃketa¹) of Her Unbounded nature.

and what of these arms that hang from her waist?
Arms and hands symbolize actions, doing, the 3 guna-s, karma. She cuts away the binding influence of
action from the realized sādaka.

does that mean I no longer act? I no longer do things?
It means now you have realized the instruction given to people that wish to realize their own SELF -gaining skill in action.
This comes from Kṛṣṇa's instruction in Chapter 2, of the Bhāgavad gītā ,48th śloka:
He says, yogasthaḥ kuru karmānī- established (or steadfast) in yoga ( union) perform actions (karma).
This union is the union or possession of the SELF. Being established in yoga = being established in the SELF.

And being established in the SELF leads to skill in action.
This is the answer to Tirisilex 's question he poses on this post: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?p=31691#post31691 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?p=31691)

It is my understanding that Samskara Shuddhi is the cleansing of past Karma..
I've searched high and Ive searched low and I cannot find anything on how to practice this.. any help??
Skill in action is 'doing' yet one is outside the binding influence of karma.

...and what of the string of skulls ( 50 of them) that kālī wears around Her neck , what is that significance?
We will take a look at this in the next post.


1. saṃketa संकेत - symbol, gesture, sign, signal ~hint~.

24 August 2009, 08:57 PM
Why kali is standing on shiva's chest?

24 August 2009, 09:51 PM
hariḥ oṁ

Namasté satay

Why kali is standing on shiva's chest?
Why is kālī sometimes seen with a foot on śiva? This suggests the might of the Supreme - she is that Might.

Yet let me offer another picture… many times we see kālī with a foot on śava¹, a corpse , dead body. People sometimes at a glance mistate śava as śiva. Hence with Her foot on śava indicates Her mastery over death, over birth-after-birth which brings death-after-death.


śava शव is rooted in śū , or śvi which means " swollen ", or a corpse.

24 August 2009, 11:28 PM
Om Mahasriye Svaha
Jai Ma Kali


What is the relation about Kali Mata and Horse or Mule ?

are Mata have vahana ? what is vahana of Her ?


24 August 2009, 11:52 PM
about Sava, i know many Deitys is standing on Sava
much of them is Dakinis or Devis form

and some Vidyarajah form is standing on Mahesvara and Uma
maybe people see it will said : "Oh, Shiva and Uma is only small Deitys"

But acctually in Buddhist , some Mahayana Sutra is said Mahesvara and Uma is also is Mahabodhisattva is same with Buddha.

And the intersesting things i know is,
The first Deitys i know who standing on Shiva is Kali.
and after that i know in Buddhist also have some Deitys standing on Shiva,
this is very interseting for me, this is Shiva's Lila.

This is said Shiva is GREAT , beyond the Ignorance, many god want receive respect from others and put self higher than others,
but Shiva is not, He no need that, because He already Higher.
The true HIgher King is no need anything more, His heart is like akasha.

Even in one Mahayana Sutra,
one day Moggalana come to Shiva's palace to receive offering by Shiva.
And Shiva have tell him something and let Moggalana check this word meaning by contemplation.
But , Moggalana (Arahat), Sariputra and Kasyapa is cannot know the deep of what Shiva's talking about, they do contemplation deeply and see millions of birth and dead, but they still not know what Shiva meaning by His words.
And they is go to ask Sakyamuni Buddha,
and Buddha is smile and said "Only Buddha can know the deeply meaning of what Buddha said"
(Taisho Tripitaka No 594)

So i think Deitys who standing on Shiva is only symbolic of the Dharma Gate of this Deity is beyond Triloka who is under control by Shiva, and Shiva in feet of Deity acctually is not different with the Deitys self.

there is nothing superior or inferior

25 August 2009, 01:15 PM
hariḥ oṁ


...and what of the string of skulls ( 50 of them, some say 52) that kālī wears around Her neck , what is that significance?

When we look at the saṃskṛt assembly of akṣara¹, that is, the nāgarī¹ letters of the saṃskṛt alphabet, it is made up of vowels (svara) and consonants (vyañjāna). Together there are 50 ( for the purest - the 50 include anusvāra, or nasal and visarga or ḥ ). So lets take this idea further.

Śiva is the owner of svara and Śakti is the owner of vyañjāna. Many times we mention Śiva is prakāśa , pure light. Yes this is one quality, but there is more. Śiva has the nature of sāmānya-prakāśa-spanda - or the whole (full) pulse (vibration) of creation, manifestation.

And Śakti his consort, Śrī Devī, or kālī is of the nature to stir, stimulate this whole/full potential of creativity into sound (śabda) and form (rūpa). What else follows is color, flavor (rasa), touch (sparśa) and smell (gandha).

My teacher used to call this creation manifesting, Creative (Śakti) Intelligence (Śiva). Śiva is the full, complete (pūrṇa), pure potential and Śakti, as extension of Śiva, provides this impulse to create. It is out of the union of Śakti +Śiva that multiplicity of creation comes about.

The 16 vowels (svara) extend from a (अ) to ḥ (अः). The 34 consonants (vyañjāna) extend from ka (क) to kṣa (क्ष). These akṣara (~ phonemes, sounds, letters) are not intert letters, there are filled with this creative intelligence. They are considered the utterance of parā-vāk , the verbal power of the Divine.

It is this energy, this stir of Śakti, Śrī Devī, or kālī that is found in the the nāgarī¹ letters of the saṃskṛt alphabet. Kālī owns this, and is symbolized by the 50 skulls of garland she wears.

One thing to keep in mind Śiva & Śakti are the same. Just as one cannot separate light from fire, Śrī Devī, Mother Divine or kālī is an aspect of the Supreme, there are not two. Yet we are talking qualities.
Why do I mention this? One may think the following: In post 3 above you mention that Śiva is known through Śakti. Well if they are both the same, then it makes no difference.

It is important to remember that one quality of Śakti in us is active awareness. It is by directing the active awareness via techniques¹ that one can experience the unboundedness of the Supreme, Śivabhaṭṭāraka. So there is a method(s) that is offered by Śiva and they are based upon this ever refreshed awareness as the entry point.



nāgarī नागरी - city or town.
akṣara अक्षर- a letter, vowel, sound, word; also means imperishable
techniques = upaya उपाय or skillful means, technique or way, means of approach;that by which one reaches one's aim
संकेत saṃketa - symbol, gesture, sign, signal ~hint~.

27 August 2009, 03:33 AM
And the intersesting things i know is,
The first Deitys i know who standing on Shiva is Kali.
and after that i know in Buddhist also have some Deitys standing on Shiva,
this is very interseting for me, this is Shiva's Lila.

Kali standing on shiva: The dance of kAla (time) and the lIlA of sristi-sthiti-laya-sthiti occurs on the 'chest' shiva who is just a mute witness...mute as a dead corspe.

Buddhist deities trampling on Shiva or Kali is typically to represent the superiority complex of bauddhas vis-a-vis sanatana dharma and typically doesn't have any esoteric significant other than egoistic nastika demonstration of supremacy.

14 September 2013, 09:30 AM

Mother Kali standing on Lord Shiva's chest? A different perspective here.

When the Divine Mother transforms into Kali Ma through her rage and notions of vengeance, She is totally unstoppable!

She will kill all of the demons and bad guys, but She will not stop there. The whole world is in danger!

You have all heard how Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Well, all the powers in the universe hath no fury like a Goddess scorned.

There is only one who can stop Kali Ma when She goes on Her destructive rampages - Lord Shiva, her husband.

By laying down prostrate at Her feet, Lord Shiva hopes that Kali Ma will step on Him and realise what She is doing and stop - 'oops, I just trod on my God-husband, I really shouldn't have done that'.

Lord Shiva is saying to Kali Ma 'just take it all out on ME then calm down and go back to being the nice Goddess again...please'.

That is why Lord Shiva is seen at Kali Ma's Feet.

Aum Namah Shivaya