Mahakaali: The kaal of evils and devils
Mahakaali or Kalka is a Hindu goddess She is known as the chief of the Mahavidyas, the group of ten tantric goddesses. She is the destroyer of the evil forces and is known to be the most powerful form of Shaktis. Over time, Kali has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. She is also seen as the divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation. Kali is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Kali is worshipped by Hindus throughout India and Nepal.
She is often regarded as the Shakti of Shiva, and is closely associated with him in various Puranas. Various stories cite the origin of mahakaali. Her most well-known appearance is in the sixth century Devi Mahatmyam.
The most famous story of origin of maa Kali is traced to the Linga Purana. It describes Shiva asking Parvati to defeat the demon Daruka, who received a boon that would only allow a female to kill him. Parvati merged with Shiva’s body, reappearing as Kali to defeat Daruka and his armies. Her bloodlust got out of control, and only calmed when Shiva intervened.
The Vamana Purana has a different version of Kali’s relationship with Parvati. When Shiva addresses Parvati as Kali, “the dark blue one,” she is greatly offended. Parvati performs austerities to lose her dark complexion and becomes Gauri, the golden one.
Mahakali, appeared from the body of sleeping Vishnu as goddess Yoga Nidra to wake him up in order to protect Brahma and the World from two demons, Madhu and Kaitabha. When Vishnu woke up he started a war against the two demons. After a long battle with Lord Vishnu when the two demons were undefeated Mahakali took the form of Mahamaya to enchant the two asuras. When Madhu and Kaitabha were enchanted by Mahakali, Vishnu killed them.
Another story cite the origin as when two demons Chanda and Munda attack the goddess Durga, She responded with such anger that it causes her face to turn dark, resulting in Kali appearing out of her forehead. Kali’s appearance is dark blue, gaunt with sunken eyes, and wearing a tiger skin sari and a garland of human heads. She defeated the two demons. Later in the same battle, the demon Raktabija was undefeated because of his ability to reproduce himself from every drop of his blood that reached the ground. Countless Raktabija clones appeared on the battlefield. Kali eventually defeated him by sucking his blood before it can reach the ground.
Mahakali is often depecited with four arms and hands, showing aspects of both creation and destruction. The most widespread interpretation of Kali’s extended tongue involves her embarrassment over the sudden realization that she has stepped on her husband’s chest when he calmed her in the battlefield.
She plays an important role in the study of practice of tantra and mantra. She is regarded as the goddess of tantrics. She dominates much of the Tantric iconography, texts, and rituals. In many sources Kali is praised as the highest reality or greatest of all deities.
Famous temples of Mahakali include Dakshineshwar Kali temple in Dakshineshwar, Kolkata, Kalighat kali temple (one of the 51 shakti peeths) in Kolkata, Chamunda Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh, Kalka Devi temple in New Delhi.