Kali Ma – The Most Misunderstood Hindu Goddess

Even if you’re unfamiliar with Indian or Hindu mythology, I am almost certain you’ve seen at least a picture of Kali Ma (meaning Kali mother) or Goddess Kali! She is one of the most famous Indian deities in the west. However, she is also the most misunderstood!

Kali The Most Misunderstood Hindu Goddess

Most people only know the frightening form of the Kali goddess. She is usually associated with destruction, blood, and death! However, Kali is known as the mother goddess too! She is called the dark mother or the divine mother in Hindu tradition.

Although she is heavily worshipped in the Hindu tantric tradition associated with darkness, Ma Kali is regarded as the loving primordial mother goddess. So, do not get frightened by her battle form! Let me share the rich history of Kali’s origins and the philosophy that Ma Kali represents.

The History of Kali Puja

Puja means worshipping. According to ancient texts, Kali is the form of a demon. Kali is mentioned in the Maha Bharata, where she is the bearer of war and animal spirits and is known as Kalratri Kali.

However, many other stories and forms are also associated with Kali. Some well-known forms are Bhadra kali, Dakshina kali, Maha kali, Chandika, etc.

According to the Hindu scriptures, Kali worshipping is one of the main rituals in the Tantra school of thought. If people who believe in the power of Tantra and Mantra want to have mystical powers, many do Kali Puja with devotion.

Kali is worshiped in the Tantric method in various manners, i.e., chanting mantras on the night of the new moon. In earlier days, sacrifices were made to appease the goddess.

In this case, goats, and buffaloes, were sacrificed in the zamindar’s house, and even today, in many places, the practice of worship is seen through sacrifice. In ancient times it is heard that various bandits worshiped Kali through Narbali or human sacrifices!

However, many people worship Raksha Kali for their protection. Also, luchi and various fruits are given to her as offerings. The Shakta Bengalis also worship Kali as Shyama Kali, the goddess of power!

So, even though some literature may regard her as a dark or demonic goddess, she does not only represent destruction but also creation and protection according to Hindu religious tradition.

The Origin of Goddess Kali

Kali is a bit different from other Hindu goddesses. While goddess Durga or Lakshmi looks very much like any other mythological goddess, the word “Kali” is the feminine form of the word “Kala”( Lord Shiva is regarded as Kala), meaning black or “doomsday/death/time.” So, you can already tell she is unlike any other! Her origin story is also very interesting!

Shiva, Kali, and Parvati

Goddess Durga, Parvati, and Kali are the same figure! They are just different forms of Goddess Mahamaya, who is the wife of Shiva. While destroying evil, Durga turns into Kali!

However, according to Vamana Purana, the origin story is told a bit differently. It is said that when Shiva addressed Parvati as Kali or the dark one, she got very offended; she performed many austerities in the hope of losing her dark complexion.

When her prayers got heard, she lost her dark sheath and became Gauri (the golden one), while the sheath turned into Kaushikhi, who became Kali while enraged!

According to Sanatan Dharma Shastra, the appearance of Maa Kali was caused by the ancient monsters Shumbha and Nishumbha, who terrorized the entire universe. After being defeated by the two giants, the gods surrendered, handing over heaven to them!

Then the King of Gods, Indra, performed Devi Durga, or Mahamaya’s austerities, for her help to win back heaven; When Durga was satisfied with Indra’s worshipping, she appeared before him. 

Then, another goddess known as Kaushikhi formed from Mahamaya’s cells! Goddess Kaushiki assumed black color when she emerged from the body of Mother Mahamaya, who is believed to be the original form of Kali Ma.

There is another legend about Kali’s birth. When the Asuras or demons rage in the sky, attempting to take over the gods’ heavenly kingdom, the gods create the goddess Durga.

The chief demon, Raktavija ( Blood Seed), had a boon from the gods. According to the legend, when a drop of Durga’s blood dropped to the ground, it gave birth to a slew of demons. Mother Durga gave birth to Mother Kali from her two brows to deal with the problem.

Rudra Murti Of Kali and the Defeat of Raktabija

Rudra Kali, or the enraged form of Kali, is a dreadful idol, and asuras were slaughtered in her hands. Kali drew out her tongue and began swallowing blood dripping from the demon’s body. This is how she initially destroyed the demons piece by piece!

Then Kali slaughtered the demon Raktabija and drank all of his blood. She did this to ensure that not a single drop of blood fell. She eliminated the demons by absorbing the demon’s blood and discarding his bloodless body.

Shiva is lying beneath Kali’s feet in the form we worship her. The story behind this is: Kali began Nitya, or dance, after beating the Asuras and achieving a huge victory. She fashioned waistbands and necklaces from the demon’s skin!

Kali Realizing her husband is laying beneath her

Everything was on the verge of falling apart as a result of this. Then, to appease Kali, Shiva laid before her to stop the dancing. She sliced her tongue with her teeth after kali realized her husband Shiva was lying beneath her feet. According to mythology, the form from that period is still revered now.

The Philosophy of Kali Puja

Along with the devotion of Goddess Lakshmi on the new moon night, the relevance of Kali Puja is very significant. Even in the ferocious appearance of Goddess Kali, the loving and caring mother may be sensed! She extinguishes all negative elements that surround her believers.

She is the embodiment of absolute power. She purges her worshipers of all evil, filth, hostility, and gloom. By worshiping Goddess Kali, a devotee receives eternal blessings, and she purifies her devotees of all wicked deeds.

Every human being possesses six evils called Sharipu inside us. These are lust, anger, greed, gluttony, drink, and greed. These six sins mislead us.

Because Maa Kali is the Goddess of Adya Shakti, she is worshiped to develop the power and fortitude to reject these evils. We may control this Sharipu within us by worshiping Kali. We can strive to eradicate society’s gloom by removing all the darkness in our minds. That’s why every believer must perform Shakti worship.


In a nutshell, Kali is worshipped for the repression of evil and the upholding of virtue. Shakti worship has been practiced in India since the time of the ancient Aryans. Humans could not adequately describe natural forces at the time. They were defenseless in the face of natural disasters. As gods, they revered all those astonishing and powerful powers.

Nature was regarded as the mother of crops and beauty. However, in nature, we can also see destruction and death! Hindu mythology puts so much importance on Kali and God Shiva because they teach us that only beauty can not fulfill all needs; sometimes, you need a little bit of destruction!

So, we still have a lot to learn from ancient civilizations, can’t we?

Nilanjana Das

I love investigating the unknown and exploring the weird and unexplained. I find it fascinating how our minds can create whole worlds of mystery and suspense. What's even more exciting to me is uncovering these mysteries and looking for evidence that they actually exist!

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