Kali the Divine Mother

kali-lithograph
Kali Lithograph c. 1850

I had an interesting experience with the Divine Mother and one of her aspects today. Here is the net of that experience below, an excerpt from Paramhansa Yogananda’s, The Essence of Self-Realization, Ways in Which God Can be Worshiped. There are many aspects of the Creation.

Paramhansa Yogananda visits my dreams and Kali whispers in my ear. If ever I would have followed a guru and Divine Soul like the Christ, it would have been Yogananda. I would have spent some time at his feet. I feel in his words a love for creation that swells my small human breast until it might explode. They are me and we are part of the child of Creation. Who is there to follow? Who is following? Who is writing these words? Who is reading them?  – omega

Ways in Which God Can be Worshiped

“One thing I cannot appreciate in the Hindu religion,” said a Christian severely, “is its plethora of gods.”

“There are many,” agreed the Master. “Each, however, represents an attempt to remind us of God in one of His innumerable aspects. They are abstractions—a way of saying, ‘No human being can really understand what God is, but here, at least, is something that He does.’

“Take, for example, the image of the goddess Kali. This is a good case in point, because, out of all Hindu images, Kali has been the one most misunderstood by Western minds.

“Kali stands naked. Her right foot is placed on the chest of Her prostrate husband. Her hair streams out, disheveled, behind Her. A garland of human heads adorns Her neck. In one of four hands She brandishes a sword; in another,  a severed head. Her tongue, usually painted a bright red, lolls out as though in blood-lust.”

At this point the Christian shuddered. Yogananda grinned roguishly.

“If we thought that this image depicted Kali as She is,” he continued, “I grant you, it might awaken devotion in very few devotees! However, the purpose of that image is to describe certain universal functions of the Divine in Nature.

“Kali represents Mother Nature. She is Aum, the cosmic vibration. In Aum everything exists—all matter, all energy, and the thoughts of all conscious beings. Hence, Her garland of heads, to show that She is invisibly present in all minds.

“The play of life and death expresses Her activity in Nature: creation, preservation, and destruction. Hence the sword, the head, and a third hand extended, bestowing life.

“Her energy is omnipresent; hence Her streaming hair, representing energy.

paramhansa_yogananda

“Shiva, Her husband, represents God in His vibrationless state, beyond creation. Thus, He is depicted as supine.

“Kali’s tongue is protruding not in blood-lust as most people believe, but because in India, when a person makes a mistake, he sticks out his tongue. In the West, don’t you express embarrassment somewhat similarly? You put your hands to your mouth.

“Kali is depicted as dancing all over creation. This dance represents the movement of cosmic vibration, in which all things exist. When Kali’s foot touches the breast of the Infinite, however, She puts her tongue out as if to say, ‘Oh, oh, I’ve gone too far!’ For at the touch of the Infinite Spirit, all vibration ceases.

“Kali’s fourth hand is raised in blessing on those who seek, not Her gifts, but liberation from the endless play of maya, or delusion.

“Those who feel themselves attracted to Nature’s outward manifestations must continue the endless round of life and death, through incarnation after incarnation. Those devotees, however, who deeply long for freedom from the cosmic play worship God in the indwelling Self. Through meditation, they merge in the infinite Aum. And from oneness with Aum they pass beyond creation, to unite their consciousness with God—timeless, eternal Bliss.

“The statues of Kali are not intended to depict the Divine Mother as She looks, but simply to display Her functions in the aspect of Mother Nature.

“The Divine Mother is, of course, without form, though we may say also that Her body is the entire universe, with its infinity of suns and moons. She can also appear to the devotee in human form, however. When She does so, She is enshrined in supernal beauty.

“All the images of gods in India are symbolic. We must look beyond their shapes to the hidden meanings they represent.”

 

My Cosmic Mother’s Face

Fairy dream faces, like fresh flowers,
May bloom in the vase of my gaze for my soul to see;
But the Face that vanished behind space
Cannot be replaced by any of these.

There are faces of transcendent beauty,
Faces of exquisite charm, faces tender and true;
There are faces of sweetness and wisdom,
But there’s none like the face of You.

There are faces tainted by fires of lust,
Faces the wise cannot fathom, faces a child cannot trust.
There are faces of beauty, steeped in glory through and through;
But O Cosmic Mother, they are dim beside You.

There’s the violet, the lily, the lotus, the rose;
Fragrant flower-faces blooming under the snows;
There are faces of stars, and the moon and the sun.
But for me there’s One Face evermore, only one.

After my search through aeons unnumbered,
The never-ceasing streamlets of my dreams
Have melted in Thy silver ocean-face,
Where smiling love forever softly gleams.

Countless silver rays of living beauties
Have melted into one transcendent grace –
The beauties of a million, million ages –
To make, at last, Thine omnipresent face.

Without Thy face, there is no light for me
In all the unplumbed depths of land or seal
Thy beauty-rays are rainbowed over all
Eternity, while planets rise and fall.

On the lips of laughter, on roses in the dawn,
It is Thy smile forever glowing there-
An immortelle of glory, heavenly sweet
With fragrance of unceasing, selfless prayer.

On the calm lake of my breathless bosom,
Where ripplets of desire no more
Play little games like children,
The glimmer of Thy face is spreading o’er.

In the cleansed mirror of my memory,
In the deep crystal pool that is my heart,
I see Thine omnipresence trapped for me-
Of my own self forevermore a part.
As I, awakening, pass through gates of light,
Thy wisdom-face is all my soul can see.
Faded, the pale pleasure-stars of dream skies,
In the omniscient light enfolding Thee.

Auroras, lights squeezed from shimmering hives of atoms,
Flashing feelings, burning vitalities, worlds of flame,
Dumb stones and speaking minds – all melted together
To form Thy one face and to spell Thy one name.

My vision, withdrawn from viewing pulsating centuries,
Throws its countless eyes within to search eternity;
And all I seek, O Cosmic Mother, all I crave forever,
Is the light of one face – the face of Thee!

– Paramahansa Yogananda

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