A powerful goddess; a form of Shakthi in a fierce aspect. She signifies annihilation through which the seed of life emerges. She inspires terror and love at the same time.
▵ Goddess Kali – The Fierce One
What is the significance of goddess Kali and her fearsome depiction? Sadhguru speaks about the origins of this goddess as a certain energy form created for a specific dimension of life.
Sadhguru: In India, various kinds of gods and especially goddesses have been created. Certain yogis and mystics created particular forms for specific purposes. Some of these forms are pleasant, some fierce, some are very vibrant. There are forms of various kinds, which are meant to be used for specific dimensions of your life. I would say these are different kinds of tools.Certain yogis and mystics created particular forms for specific purposes. Some of these forms are pleasant, some fierce, some are very vibrant.
To use an analogy, today in the field of education, there are so many well-established branches. But there was a time when education meant everyone learned everything there was to be learned. However, today, different people choose to specialize in different fields. In the same way, these yogis established energy forms in different ways so that the forms are available to people as they need it for certain aspects of their life. And they created a whole system as to how one could access those forms.
Such a science also existed in South America, but their forms are much cruder. They usually created animal forms, which they used to gain power. But in India’s culture, very sophisticated forms were created. If you have the necessary mastery, you can invoke them and incredible things can be done out of that.
▵ Kali – A Fierce Woman
Kali is a very fierce form. You need a different kind of skill to manage a woman like that! In many ways, she is very easily approachable compared to other forms, but at the same time, very, very fierce. When you invite someone very fierce, if you do not know how to manage them, they may eat you up! There are others which are even more fierce and terrible. Usually, the yogis created very fierce forms because these are fierce people – they cannot live with a tame woman. They want someone really wild.Kali is not just an idol or something you believe in. She can become a living reality for you.
These forms respond to certain processes which attract that kind of energy. Kali is not just an idol or something you believe in. She can become a living reality for you. She can walk in front of you because once an energy body is created, if you want, you can build a physical body over that.
For example, Dhyanalinga is the energy body of the highest kind of being. In theory, it is possible to build a physical body for it. But it involves too much work and it is not worthwhile in the end. What is the point in creating another human being? Right now, the only reason you do not experience me the way I am is because I am in a physical body. I speak like you and I do things like you. If I was in some other form, it would be so much easier for people. Once you see someone as a human being, he has to fit into your logical ways. If he does not, you will not see him as enlightened. You will think he is crazy. So there is no advantage in creating a physical body.
Dhyanalinga includes all dimensions. But Kali is a specific dimension of energy. These yogis created this form and left it loose. It has been enshrined in many places in certain ways, and one can approach it – a very powerful force in the existence.
Kali is not the only one. There are so many of them which are all part of the yogic lore and traditions. Usually, we do not enter those spaces with people because for most people, such things are not needed. Only those who want to do a specific kind of work need to know these things. Others who are just seeking their liberation need not even enter such spaces because there are too many complexities. It is like trying to play the creator.
It is not that it is a bad thing, but it is like putting a child – who has just begun to walk – in a marathon race. He will for sure cause damage to himself. When you are not ready for it, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
▵ Shiva and Kali: The Tantric Symbolism
Sadhguru, I have seen quite a few images of Kali standing on the chest of Shiva’s corpse. What is the significance of this scene?
▵ How Kali Killed Shiva
Sadhguru: This is a certain story trying to depict how the feminine dimension of energy functions. Once, it so happened that various demons started dominating the world. Many evil forces started taking over the world. So Kali went into a fury. When she went wild, there was no stopping her. She just went and slaughtered everything.
Her fury would not stop. It was going on, beyond reason, beyond the necessary action needed for that situation, beyond everything. Because her fury had picked up such momentum and it would not subside, and because she was continuing the slaughter, no one dared to go and stop her. They approached Shiva and said, “She is going on like this. She is your woman. Please do something to rein her in.”
Shiva approached Kali as he knew her. He went towards her without aggression, not in a battle mode. He simply went. But Kali’s energy went to such a scale that it knocked Shiva himself down. Only when she stood over him did she realize what she had done. Then she slowed down and once again breathed life into him.
▵ Devi Takes Off Her Own Head
There are various tantric processes which are based on this particular event. You might have seen images and paintings of tantrics who have taken off their own head and are walking, holding the head in their hand. Or you may have seen Devi herself, depicted as taking off her head and holding it in her hand and walking. There are various tantric processes involved where people actually decapitate themselves and once again fix the head back. There are certain rituals through which this is done.
▵ Tantra: Unmaking and Making Life
I know that today, most people think tantra means unbridled promiscuity. This is because most of the tantric books today are written by Americans, and people read about tantra from magazines and books. Tantra does not mean promiscuity. Tantra means extreme discipline. Tantra means a technology, a method, a capability to unmake life and make life again. Tantra is to have such mastery over the system that you can dismantle life completely and put it back again.
▵ The Symbolism of Kali Killing Shiva
You can have such mastery over life that life and death are both so completely in your hands, that you can dismantle life and put it back again. You can even kill the Divine and bring him back. This is not a feat that you are trying to show off to somebody. It is because you want to have such mastery over life.
Unless you have some mastery over life, you cannot do anything. Everyone has some mastery over life. Otherwise, what could you do? The level of mastery that you have determines how much you can do.
The image of Kali standing on Shiva essentially symbolizes having total mastery over the process of life. It means that you can kill God himself and then give life back to him. That is audacious, isn’t it? That is how the technology of tantra is.
▵ Goddess Kali – The Fierce One (Isha)
▵ Shiva and Kali: The Tantric Symbolism (Isha)