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Related to Kali: Shiva, Kali Yuga


(kä`lē) [Hindi,=the Black One], important goddess in popular Hinduism and TantraTantra
, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, esoteric tradition of ritual and yoga known for elaborate use of mantra, or symbolic speech, and mandala, or symbolic diagrams; the importance of female deities, or Shakti; cremation-ground practices such as meditation on corpses; and,
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. Known also as Durga [the Inaccessible] and as Chandi [the Fierce], Kali is associated with disease, death, and destruction. As Parvati she is the consort of ShivaShiva
or Siva
, one of the greatest gods of Hinduism, also called Mahadeva. The "horned god" and phallic worship of the Indus valley civilization may have been a prototype of Shiva worship or Shaivism.
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. Although often represented as a terrifying figure, garlanded with skulls and bearing a bloody sword in one of her many arms, she is worshiped lovingly by many as the Divine Mother. Her cult, popular among many lower castes in India, especially in Bengal, frequently includes animal sacrifice. Kali was patroness of the ThugsThugs
, former Indian religious sect of murderers and robbers, also called Phansigars [stranglers]. Membership was primarily hereditary and included both Hindus and Muslims, but all were devotees of the Hindu goddess Kali and committed their murders as sacrifices to her.
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Nineteenth-century print depicting the Dance of Kali. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Literally the "the Black One." In Hindu myth, Kali is the destructive aspect of Parvati, consort to Shiva. She is usually depicted draped with severed human heads and trampling on the body of her slain husband. She is simply one aspect of the ultimate goddess, Devi.

She is often called Kali Ma, "the Black Mother," and in addition to being a necessary destroyer, she is also a powerful creative force. Many of her rituals are orgiastic in nature. According to Patricia Monaghan, Kali first manifested herself when the demon Daruka threatened the gods. The great goddess Parvati frowned at Daruka, knitting her brows in fury. From her sprang Kali, armed with a trident. She chased off the demon and made the heavens safe again.

Myths tell of Kali dancing with Shiva, her dancing becoming wilder and wilder. She pauses, but, should she continue, she could shake the world to pieces with her wildness. Despite the seeming negativity of this goddess, she is one of the most popular in India and is adopted by some Witchcraft covens.

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Kali, the bloodthirsty Hindu deity.


(pop culture)

A major deity in the mythology of India, Among other characteristics, Kali was known for her thirst for blood. Kali first appeared in Indian writings around the sixth century C.E. in invocations calling for her assistance in war. In these early texts she was described as having fangs, wearing a garland of corpses, and living at the cremation ground.

Several centuries later, in the Bhagavat-purana, she and her cohorts, the dakinis, turned on a band of thieves, decapitated them, got drunk on their blood, and played a game of tossing the heads around. Other writings called for her temples to be built away from the villages near the cremation grounds.

Kali made her most famous appearance in the Devi-mahatmya, where she joined the goddess Durga in fighting the demon Raktabija. Raktabija had the ability to reproduce himself with each drop of spilled blood; thus, in fighting him successfully, Durga found herself being overwhelmed by Raktabija clones.

Kali rescued Durga by vampirizing Raktabija and eating the duplicates. Kali came to be seen by some as Durga’s wrathful aspect. Kali also appeared as a consort of the god Siva. They engaged in fierce dance. Pictorially, Kali was usually shown on top of Siva’s prone body in the dominant position as they engaged in sexual intercourse.

Kali had an ambiguous relationship to the world. On the one hand she destroyed demons and thus brought order. However, she also served as a representation of forces that threatened social order and stability by her blood-drunkenness and subsequent frenzied activity.

Kali became the dominant deity within Tantric Hinduism, where she was praised as the original form of things and the origin of all that exists. She was termed Creatrix, Protectress, and Destructress. In Tantra, the way of salvation was through the sensual delights of the world—those things usually forbidden to a devout Hindu—such as alcohol and sex. Kali represented the ultimate forbidden realities, and was thus to be taken into the self and overcome in what amounted to a ritual of salvation. She taught that life fed on death, that death was inevitable for all beings, and that in the acceptance of these truths—by confronting Kali in the cremation grounds and thus demonstrating courage equal to her terrible nature—there was liberation. Kali, like many vampire-deities, symbolized the disorder that continually appeared amid all attempts to create order. Life was ultimately untamable and unpredictable.

Kali survived among the Gypsies, who had migrated from India to Europe in the Middle Ages, as Sara, the Black Goddess. However, her vampiric aspects were much mediated by the mixture of Kali with an interesting French Christian myth. According to the story, the three Marys of the New Testament traveled to France where they were met by Sara, a Gypsy who assisted them in their landing. They baptized Sara and preached the gospel to her people. The Gypsies hold a celebration on May 24–25 each year at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the small French village where the events are believed to have occurred. A statue to Sara was placed in the crypt of the church where the Gypsies have kept their annual vigil.


Chatterji, Shoma. Goddess Kali of Kolkata. New Delhi: UBS Publishers’ Distributors, 2005. 140 pp.
Clébert, Jean-Paul. The Gypsies. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1967. 282 pp.
Harding, Elizabeth A. Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar. Lake Worth, FL: Nicolas-Hays, 1993. 352 pp.
Kindler, Babji Bob. Twenty-four Aspects of Mother Kali. Greenville, NY: SRV Associations, 1996. 226 pp.
Kinsley, David. Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1986. 281 pp.



one of the names for the great goddess (Mahadeva) re-vered in Hinduism, the embodiment of the creative and destruc-tive forces of nature, wife of the god Siva and his femalehypostasis. Kali is honored both in the form of a goddess benevo-lent to people and in a terrible, frightening form. The cult of Kaliis especially widespread in eastern India.


Hindu goddess to whom Thug sacrificed victims. [Hinduism: Brewer Dictionary, 600]
See: Death


A data parallel language.

["Supporting Shared Data Structures on Distributed Memory Architectures", C. Koelbel et al in Second ACM SIGPLAN Symp on Princ and Prac of Parallel Programming, pp.177-186, Mar 1990].
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