Kali comes from the Sanskrit root word Kal which means time. There is nothing that escapes the all-consuming march of time. In Tibetan Buddhism, her counterpart is male with the name Kala. Mata Kali is the most misunderstood of Hinduism. It is partly correct to say Kali is the goddess of death but she brings the death of the ego as the illusory self-centered view of reality. Nowhere in the hindu mythological stories is she’s seen killing anything but demons nor is she associated specifically with the process of human dying like Yama Raj- the god of death. It is true that both Kali and Mahadeva are said to inhabit cremation grounds and devotees often go to these places to meditate. This is not to worship death but rather it is to overcome the I am the body idea by reinforcing the awareness that the body is a temporary condition. Mahadeva and Kali are said to inhabit these places because it is our attachment to the body that gives rise to the ego. Mahadeva and Kali grant liberation by removing the illusion of the ego. Thus we are the eternal I AM and not the body. This is underscored by the scene of the cremation grounds. Of all the forms of goddess Durga, she is the most compassionate because she provides moksha or liberation to her children. She is the counterpart of Shiva the destroyer. They are the destroyers of unreality. The ego sees mother Kali and trembles with fear because the ego sees in her its own eventual demise. A person who is attached to his or her ego will not be receptive to mother Kali and she will appear in a fearsome form. A mature soul who engages in spiritual practice to remove the illusion of the ego sees mother Kali as very sweet, affectionate, and overflowing with incomprehensible love for her children. Mata Kali wears a garland of skulls and a skirt of dismembered arms because the ego arises out of identification with the body. In truth, we are beings of spirit and not flesh. So liberation can only proceed when our attachment to the body ends. Thus the garland and skirt are trophies worn by her to symbolize having liberated her children from attachment to the limited body. She holds a sword and a freshly severed head dripping blood. As the story goes, this represents a great battle in which she destroyed the demon Raktabija. Her black skin represents the womb of the quantum manifest from which all of creation arises and into which all of creation will eventually dissolve.
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