Dasa Mahavidya: Kali, the Terrifying Form of Shakti

Indian mythology has a diverse range of Vedic Story that raise goosebumps as they are so rich with meaning and wisdom. However, Shakti, the energy of Mahadeva, is incomplete without Parvati and her Dasa Mahavidya, or 10 tantric goddesses. Tridevi, Lakshmi, Parvati, and Saraswati always entice me to read them and understand the feminine energy.

To satisfy my parched soul, I began writing and learning about Hindu myths, acknowledging that the whole universe is energy.

Without Shakti, everything is Shunya (zero), unending darkness, and hollow.

Therefore, as a tiny part of the energy, I am going to narrate the story of Dasa Mahavidhya, or the 10 tantric goddesses of Shakti or Durga, to the best of my comprehension.

Dasa Mahavidya means 10 Great Wisdoms. It is a group of Tantric goddesses, namely:

  1. Kali
  2. Tara
  3. Tripura Sundari
  4. Bhuvaneshvari
  5. Bhairavi
  6. Chinnamasta
  7. Dhumavati
  8. Bagalamukhi
  9. Matangi
  10. Kamala

In Vedic Story, we will discuss how Goddess Kali, the terrifying form of Shakti, came into being and why she stood upon Shiva.

Kali: Fist Goddess of Dasa Mahavidya

Goddess Kali is considered to be the superior one among the Dasa Mahavidya, or 10 Great Wisdoms, or tantric goddesses. She is also known by different names, such as Mahakali, Bhadrakali, and Kalika.

Kali is the destruction and creation Shakti of Shiva; without her, Shiva is Shava, a dead body.

Kali is the goddess of time, creation, change, power, anger, war, and destruction. She destroys the people who are evil and saves the innocents. She bestows liberation and protects good souls.

Different Forms of Kali

According to ancient texts, Kali has various roopas, such as Dakshina Kali, Bhima Kali, Samhara Kali, Raksha Kali, Guhya Kali, and Bhadra Kali. However, different traditions have different Kali, and it is believed that there are 8, 12, and 21 forms of Kali.

Here are some of the most famous roopas of Kali:

  • Adya Kalo
  • Chintamani Kali
  • Sparshamani Kali
  • Santati Kali
  • Siddhi Kali
  • Dakshina Kali
  • Bhadra Kali
  • Smashana Kali
  • Adharvana Bhadra Kali
  • Kamakala Kali
  • Guhya Kali
  • Hamsa Kali
  • Shyama Kali
  • Kalasankarshini Kali

Why Did Kali Stand Upon Shiva?

There are several stories about Kali and the meaning of why she stood upon Lord Shiva. However, let’s discover the reason through this widely famous story of Kali, the First Goddess of Dasa Mahavidya:

Once upon a time, asuras were threatening the gods and trying to gain control over the earth. Raktabija was leading the Asura army and preparing for the war with the Devas. However, Raktabija was powerful and almost immortal, as he gained a boon from Brahma. He performed severe austerities to increase his power by a thousand times whenever a drop of blood spilled.

The War Between Durga and Raktabija

Raktabija came forth with his demon soldiers on the battlefield, and the gods were terrified with outrage. The demons began to wreak havoc on the earth and its inhabitants. The gods tried their best to fight against Raktabija but could not stand, and in desperation, they turned to Shakti, female energy, to destroy the demon.

Durga stepped onto the battlefield to protect the gods and the earth. She was armed with the weapons of the Tridevas and the gods of heaven, and she rode on the tiger into the battlefield.

Goddess Durga switched many roopas during battle to slay demons until she reached the only remaining demon general, Raktabija.

Devi Shakti battled with Raktabija and charged again and again. Blood oozed from Raktabija’s body and spilled everywhere. Each drop of blood gave birth to a thousand Raktabija. Thousands of soldiers arose from the puddles of blood and attached themselves to the goddess Durga.

They were laughing and shouting at the goddess’s dilemma. This enraged and angered Goddess Durga. Her brows knitted in fury, and from the concentration center of Durga’s third eye, Kali, the first goddess of Dasa Mahavidya, or tantric goddess, came out.

Kali: The Terrible Form of Durga

Kali’s thundering roar and terrifying appearance shook the universe. She consumed all the demons who were near her in a roaring rage.

Kali emerged naked, only covering her lower part with tiger skin. Her skin was black as one closes their eyes and sees nothing except darkness. She wore a skirt that was loosely hung. She carried a skull garland around her neck, a noose, and a sword.

Kali’s eyes were blood-red, sunken deep into her skull, and filled with anger. Goddess Kali’s third eye was flaming, and her entangled hair blew wildly.

With her furious gaze, half of the demon fell dead. She roared with a petrifying shriek, and the demons fell lifeless. The goddess Kali shoved the remaining demons into her mouth.

The skies in the universe were thundering with her ferocious and shrieking laughter while she killed the demons. She stretched out her blood-red tongue and started to swallow the demons who were fleeing from the battlefield.

Kali Killed Raktabija

Raktabija was left alone on the battlefield. Goddess Kali pierced him in the side and began to drink the flowing blood greedily with her tongue. The life of Raktabija flowed out with each drop of blood on the bowl of Kali until he turned into a corpse and drank the blood.

Why Did Kali Clench Her Tongue?

Goddess Kali was not satisfied and began dancing on the demon corpses wildly. Again, the whole universe was terrified due to the Tandav dance of Kali.

Soon the corpses of demons diminished to mush; however, Kali continued dancing, and the world came to be on the verge of destruction. Devas begged Lord Shiva to intervene and calm her to save the world.

After hearing the pleas of the gods, Lord Shiva decided to interrupt Goddess Kali’s thunderous dance. When Lord Shiva tried, Kali’s footsteps sent him flying into the air. Thereafter, Shiva understood the power and force of Kali’s fury. Lord Shiva, thereafter, called the gods to the battlefield in a hurry so that they could implore him to do something.

Then Lord Shiva called out to Goddess Kali; however, she did not hear him and continued her dancing and smashing the demon flesh into oblivion. She rattled and shook her head so hard that her hair wildly flew and caused a great wind that flew away the gods near the battleground.

She laughed crazily at such a scenario. Kali’s energy could not be matched by anyone else’s. However, Lord Shiva again called Kali, but this time too, his voice went unheard.

By this time, Shiva had turned desperate, thinking about how to stop Kali, and threw himself beneath her feet.

However, Kali, the first tantric goddess of Dasa Mahavidya, continued dancing and was on the verge of taking Shiva’s life out of his body. In a few moments, she realized that the body lying down under her feet was her husband, Lord Shiva. The realization brought her tongue out, and she turned calm.

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Archana Das
Archana Das
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