Kali Ma - The Goddess of Our Age
This post is part of a series featuring the works of Professor LeBoeuf 's students in her Hindu Goddess Worship course!
The political leader of the free world is Donald Trump, who’s only notoriety to the populace is his wealth and fame. A nation, disenfranchised and made to believe that wealth is virtue, have elected Adharma as their leader.
The first nuclear bomb used as a weapon by the US sounded out like a church bell; the next war fought largely on implications of apocalypse. Fear has wound its hands tightly in the reins of humanities chariot, riding the coarse to who knows where.
And where amongst the clutter of the world is there true Sainthood? In this time when the Dharma is obscured, the Goddess Kali is more alive and so desperately needed. In Kinsley's book Hindu Goddesses, he describes Kali, “A hymn to the goddess describes her as dancing wildly and making the world shake. She has a gaping mouth, wears a garland of skulls, is covered with snakes, showers flames from her eyes that destroy the world.” Certainly the earth is shaking, humanity has seen to it that the environment is beginning to respond violently to mistreatment. Collectively, we are approaching the apex of environmental degradation, overpopulation, resource depletion, and capitalist colonization.
In these times, how may we consider Kali and her domain as an aspect of Divine Love, when she is so fierce and terrible? Kali Ma, though when first approached has the appearance of terror, is considered by Saints and Sages as a manifestation of pure love. In the words of the Satguru Paramahamsa RamaKrishna from the book The Gospel of Sri RamaKrishna: “The Divine Mother revealed to me in the Kali temple that it was She who had become everything. She showed me that everything was full of Consciousness. The image was Consciousness, the water was Consciousness, the altar was Consciousness, the water vessels were Consciousness... the marble floor was Consciousness-all was Consciousness.” (345)
So yes Kali appears terrible, but a deeper understanding of Kali must be attained in order to see the depth of divinity there. In a person's life, they may experience sickness, death of loved ones and all kinds of unplanned suffering. These moments rattle people, but contain within them lessons for growth. This can be appreciated as Kali’s domain. A person who learns to learn from the good and the bad all the same will not fear Kali but will understand her purpose. Global conditions are no different. Nobody wants resource depletion or climate migrations, but they contain invaluable lessons for humanity. Kali is a teacher who’s harsh action is forcing humanity into a space of learning and reconciliation. Like Kali’s teaching, only a fool tests twice to see how hot a fire is. When humanity sees the depth and horror of bad actions, they will move all the more fervently towards the good. And it is this kind of teaching the humanity needs, as subtle wisdom has all but vanished.
In Kinsley’s words: “In general, then, we may say that Kālī is a goddess who threatens stability and order.” When the world forgets the cosmic order, worldly order is greatly churned. From this churning, only temporal stability and order may be threatened, as the cosmic stability is unshakable.
The Society that we live in today has gathered a lot of data, and people are hard pressed to be proven wrong about anything. Kali is there to break the tough nuts of people’s mental bodies. As Kinsley describes her: “Kālī’s shocking appearance and unconventional behavior confront one with an alternative to normal society.” Upon being confronted by Kali’s ways, space is created for new understanding. Kinsley goes on to say: “In her differentness, strangeness, indeed, in her perverse-ness, Kālī is the kind of figure who is capable of shaking one’s comforting and naive assumptions about the world. In doing this she allows a clearer perception of how things really are.” Herein lies the hope, that when 200 million environmental refugees pour over the earth in search of basic life that people will be moved out of comfort into tremendous compassion.
Kinsley, David R. Hindu Goddesses : Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. vol. 1st pbk. print, University of California Press, 1988. Hermeneutics: Studies in the History of Religions. EBSCOhost
Ramakrishna, and Nikhilananda. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 2007.
Srimad Bhagavatam. “SB 12.2: The Symptoms of Kali-Yuga.” Bhaktivedanta Vedabase, 25 Apr. 2012, www.vedabase.com/en/sb/12/2.