(feminine form of Sanskrit kala,”time” or “dark”), consort
of the Hindu god Shiva
in her manifestation of the power of time.
destructive mother goddess, Kali is frequently depicted
as a black, laughing, naked hag with blood-stained teeth,
a protruding tongue, and a garland of human skulls. She
usually has four arms: One hand holds a sword, the second
holds a severed human head, the third is believed by her
devotees to be removing fear, and the fourth is often interpreted
as granting bliss.
absolute, and all-pervasive—is beyond fear and finite existence
and is therefore believed to be able to protect her devotees
against fear and to give them limitless peace. Finally,
as absolute night, devouring all that exists, she is sometimes
depicted as standing on the corpse of Shiva, which, like
the garland of skulls, symbolizes the remains of finite
worshipers purportedly appeased her in the past with human
sacrifices; today she is propitiated with the blood of mammals.
Under the title Bhavani, she was invoked by the secret brotherhood
of murderers called Thugs.
The city of Calcutta (now Kolkata) received its name from
Kali; Calcutta is the Anglicized form of Kalighata, the
name of a large temple dedicated to Kali.
Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001 http://encarta.msn.com
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