Mahakali- the first of the 10 Mahavidyas or great
wisdom is a powerful Hindu Tantric deity, worshipped by Tantrikas as the Adi
Shakti, primordial energy, and feared by the demons as Kali- the one who rules
over Kaal, a term that means both death and time. Though a form of Maa Durga
and Parvati in the textual traditions, in Tantricism, Mahakali surpasses all in
terms of the potency and grandeur of her form. She becomes creation,
destruction, and everything in between.
According to the legend in Devi Mahatmya, after
slaying the enemies of Durga, Mahakali drunk on blood started slaying anyone
who came in her way. Afterwards, she started dancing, and such was the power of
her dance that the world almost came to an end. This story has given birth to
the idea that- when everything is submerged in the waves of time, all that
remains is Kali. This greatness of Kali has inspired the artist into making
this brilliant watercolour.
of any clothes, Devi is adorned with queenly ornaments and an imposing crown.
Her attire includes Mundamala- garland made of skulls of demons and a girdle
made out of their severed hands. In her eight arms, the goddess holds a sickle,
a demon’s chopped head, and a cup to collect the blood that trickles from it, a
trident, a snake, an ax, and a bowl full of tongues she pulled out from the
mouths of her enemies. Her blood-stained tongue is a symbol of freeing oneself
from the dichotomy of pure and impure and understanding the highest truth that
exists beyond societal rules. While being engrossed in her dance, the goddess
can see past, present, and future with her three beautiful eyes. Muktakeshini
(one whose hair is let loose) Mahakali is extraordinary in the paradox she
embodies. Frowning and fearsome, the goddess who spares none and makes the
heart shudder with her appearance, holds her hand in the benevolent Abhaya
Mudra- the gesture of fearlessness. Maa Mahakali thus is not destruction but
the personification of a divine fearlessness, of the knowledge that destruction
and creation are two sides of the same coin.
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