By Sharika Sharma
The 21st Century has generated an unprecedented measure of leisure, freedom, and entertainment for mankind through technological inventions, such as the mobile phone, internet-connectivity, i-pads, i-pods, drones, live streaming and virtual reality. These inventions have made the world smaller and life easier and more fun, yet we are witnessing a wide-scale decline in tolerance on our planet, inter personally and between groups with not only opposing but also similar ideologies. With greater exposure, communication, and knowledge one naturally expects people to come closer. The opposite, however, appears to be happening. As a result, concepts of “faith” and “belief” are taking a bruising. As if they are the root cause. When, in fact, if correctly practiced, they are the solution.
If you put your faith into something- a tree, a person, a rock, a symbol, an idea, or God- it will give you strength. A stone may not be living, nor is an idea; though an idea may be brought to life by the power of ones will and concerted effort. But what is living, is the belief inside you. It has the strength to turn ideas into action, to make a symbol take on significance, and, possibly, “move mountains.”
As a woman, to me it makes most sense to put my faith into my own higher self: Kali, or Shakti, the personification of female strength. Kali is universal. She may be worshiped in the form of a tree or a rock. She may inspire her aspirants as an abstract idea. Kali belongs to everyone. Sri Ramakrishna, arguably the greatest devotee of the Goddess, preached, “As many faiths, so many paths.” Kali is time, and also the devourer of time. The ensuing formlessness is she, as is the dark interim between creation and destruction. Kali is sound: the sound that created this universe. This transcendental sound, that yogis can hear, contains all knowledge.
Kali’s drinking of blood is related to her form as Prakriti, or nature. Shedding of blood makes way for generation of new blood: the lioness kills the deer to feed her cubs. The depiction of Kali having sex with Shiva too is reminiscent of her as nature. Sex is a creative force: without sexual activity life cannot exist.
Her acceptance of all of humanity is evident in the fact that polluted substances and clothes worn by the recently deceased are offered to Kali. People suffering from addictions and mental illness, persons of lower castes, anyone living on the margins of society; are embraced by the Mother. She accepts whatever they have to give; for their minds at the moment of giving are free from negativity, in search of a truth higher than themselves. And that, in effect, is meditation. By accepting pollution as an offering, Kali disposes of it. What are the battles she wages with demons but the ridding of our existences from negative influences? The demons represent the wars going on within us. They are the wars between our higher and lower selves, our divine and demonic natures, primal instinct and self-control. The sword and trident are Kali’s weapons of choice to annihilate the wicked that have gone beyond the possibility of reformation: murderers, pedophiles, poachers, and rapists. She uses the noose to capture them. Hanging in her hand by its hair, dripping with blood, why does the head that is severed smile? It smiles because the sinner is happy to be free of his/her ego, the ego that causes jealousy, selfishness, greed, insincerity, lethargy and cruelty. Kali’s upraised hand is blessing you with love, and stopping evil from coming your way. The hand with the open palm, lower down, is bestowing prosperity upon you.
Most images from antiquity are of females and depicting fertility. So how did modern civilization come to be largely patriarchal? In the Neolithic world women were revered, and their ability to give birth, worshiped. Once agriculture became widespread and civilizations came into being, men began to demarcate territories; and subsequently fought over those territories. As a consequence, females were restricted to the home and their role as caretaker of children; becoming possessions of men, like cattle and land.
Now, in the 21st Century, women have come out of the home to contribute to the economy and general well being of the planet. We are biologically built to nurture; be it children, men, or our planet. So, though its true that recent innovations have done much to make the world a smaller place but less than could be expected to bring people closer, women- as wives, mothers and independent, free thinking beings- can, through their brand of sensitivity, spread a message of unconditional acceptance; humanity’s dire need. Through belief in ourselves and faith in a collective future, let us instill kindness and tolerance in our world. Let us be strong. Stand up, learn, and get heard. Teach justice and love. Awaken the Kali within you; and in so doing empower the world to make it livable for not only the able-bodied but also the disabled, not only the haves but also the have-nots, not only the strong but also the weak, not only the white but also the black, not only the male but also the female; for all of humanity.
Pic Courtesy: Google
About the Author
Writer Sharika Sharma dons many caps. She’s written on archaeological discoveries in the country for Education Times and the Asian Age newspaper, fiction for television, essays and poetry. She is presently completing her first novel, Oestrus, due to release at the end of the year.