No other personification of the eternal principle (Brahman) has played such a role in molding the faith of Hindus in particular and Indians in general, than the personification of this principle in a female form known as “kali”. It is an ancient tradition. When we study the religious practices among the primordial Indians long before the descent of Aryans, we encounter a tradition among them, which recognizes the play of a universal energy in the nature and sanctifies and later symbolizes it in a feminine form.
Although the merging of migrated Aryans and fusion of races infused new vigor into the spiritual thoughts of India, worship of this female form of God prevailed as a major factor among their decedents, and also among the Dravidians who settled in Southern coastal parts of India. These settlers built places of worship in the form of temples, where they worshiped Her in the female form and addressed by various names. Interestingly enough one of the most common and widely accepted names was “Maari”. So powerful and natural must have been this word in the realm of human consciousness that even today it is the most revered and widely used name of cosmic consciousness in India. Historians have further traced the migration by boats of these settlers known as Sumerians during the pre-Babylonian time from the eastern and western coasts of Southern India and settled in the banks of Nile and Euphrates. Giving birth to Sumerian civilization which later laid down the foundation stones for Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations. Hence when many of the traditions practiced among the subjects of these civilizations, especially the idea of astrology, religious lore, rites and moral codes are traced, one finds astonishing reciprocity in the Southern coasts of India revealing the mystery of its birth.
These events occurred long before the coming of the “Christ”. Two hundred years later after the resurrection of “ CHRIST’, Christianity began to ferment not merely as a religion but also as a revolutionary movement countering the popular agnostic philosophies of the Greek and Roman civilizations of the time, the Christian scholars when sat to frame the biblical doctrines, had to lean heavily on the concepts of Babylonian civilization as everything originating from Rome or Greece deliberately not acknowledged no matter how true or good it was . Hence it is no wonder that Christianity happens to be the only other religion which inherited this idea of female God which was carried by the migrated Sumerians who laid the founding stones .And they named it “ Mary”. This rare concept of female God in the form of “Mary” may not be to the extent, vigor and boldness of contemplation of Indians in the form of “Maari”, nevertheless symbolizes the cosmic energy giving birth to the incarnation of the “God”. Later when Christianity split and its orthodox sect discarded the idea of female God, still the Catholics sect continued revere virgin Mary as much as if not more than the son of God “Christ” himself.
In the ancients Puranas of India, Kali’s role is ubiquitous and Devi Bhagavatha is one of the significant Puranas describing the glory of Devi Kali. Devi Mahatmya is a text on the glories of universal mother. In India it is considered to be the holiest of all readings and supposed to ward off all pains and sickness and bestow blessings of wealth, health, longevity and peace.
So intensely pervades the thought of “Kali” in the consciousness of Indian people that once it was inconceivable to address any woman in India other than by the names of the “Kali”. It can boldly said that every Indian woman was either given the direct name of “Kali” or one of her incarnations or the various adjectives used to glorify her. This tradition holds good even today. During the passage of time the culture and wealth of this land became the religious sanctuary for many of the aliens who brought along new faiths, names and rituals.
After the passage of glorious past there arises an inexplicable scene on the screen of Indian history beginning around the 11th century and lasting almost a millennium- a time when whole nation falls into a shameless state of sleep. With its leaders reduced to mere circus tigers, its youths wandering aimless, its elders taken away by euphoria, its women being totally suppressed, the whole nation sought solace in an abstract world. It is during this helpless period of Indian history different groups of foreigners took advantage, routed the people, looted the country and ruled the nation according to their whims and fancies and forced their will, tongue and faith into the masses of India. For a moment people of India seized by the merciless grip of these foreigners appeared like nations torn into new names, forms, faiths, and religions.
Alas! There once again the faith of “Goddess Kali” was reborn in Indian soil – this time in the birth of Gadadhar, in a remote village of Kamarpukur, in the State of Bengal, In 1836.This coincides the time of introduction of Western education system first time on the Indian soil in the city of Kolkata by the British. This Brahmin boy, with an unsurpassable faith, continuously experimented on this female personification of God and at the height of his devotion, demanded to barter his own life for the vision of the Goddess. What followed then is history. Gadadhar was transformed into “Ramakrishna Paramhamsa”. His experiences and ‘Sadhanas’ (Spiritual practices) have become the spiritual teachings of the modern era not only in India but in the rest of the world as well. He inspired the nation and rest of the world through Swami Vivekanand and a bunch of young disciples with a new concept ‘universality of all religions’ not just by tolerance but by acceptance of all faiths. He roused the spiritual consciousness of the whole nation. The people of India once again woke up after thousands years of slumber, found their pride and confidence in their own past. Its leaders once again roared like lions and the children of India fought, and fought for their freedom with a new weapon – a weapon never known to mankind till then, a weapon of truth, fueled with non-violence, known as ‘Satyagraha’ – weapon not merely for the liberation of India but for the masses of the world where the suppressed, down-trodden, the helpless call for the voice of the merciful – a weapon of love, truth, and justice to convert the world into a single family. “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”. Such are the glories of the personification of “Brahman” in the form of ‘Goddess kali”.
Krishna in Geetha when addresses himself as “Para Brahman” declares the cosmic consciousness as his highest Prakrithi (Nature) and first time calls it by a mystical name “Maya” (English meaning is illusion) and explains the “Maya” in chapter 7 sloka 14. “Daivi Hy Esa Gunamayi Mama Maya Durathyaya……”
“This illusion of mine ( creation of the World) is divine and impossible for anybody to cross. Those who take refuge in me, alone, can”
Is that horizon in the sky
Or the sky is in the horizon?
Or both horizon and the sky are in the veil of my eye.
Is that veil in my mind
Or my mind is in the veil?
Or my mind and veil of my eye
Are both embedded in THY.
Is that fragrance in the rose
Or rose is in the fragrance?
Or both fragrance and the rose
Are in the realm of my nose.
Is that realm in my intellect
Or intellect is in the realm?
Or both my intellect and realm are within the
MAYA of THY palm.
Is that birth in my death
Or death is in my birth?
Or both my birth and death
Are the MAYA of breath
Or YOU in the MAYA of breath
Or YOU are that breath?
I pray, prostate and surrender
Transcend me beyond my mind’s breadth.
Dr Dinker B Rai