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Kl (/kli/; Sanskrit: , IPA: [kli]), also known as Klik (Sanskrit:

), is the in!" #o!!ess asso$iate! with e%&ower%ent, shakti' She is


the (er$e as&e$t o) the #o!!ess *"r#a (Par+ati)'[,] -he na%e Kali $o%es
)ro% kla, whi$h %eans .la$k, ti%e, !eath, lor! o) !eath: Shi+a' Sin$e Shi+a
is $alle! Kla/ the eternal ti%e / the na%e o) Kl, his $onsort, also %eans
0-i%e0 or 0*eath0 (as in 0ti%e has $o%e0)' en$e, Kli is the 1o!!ess o) -i%e
an! 2han#e' Altho"#h so%eti%es &resente! as !ark an! +iolent, her earliest
in$arnation as a (#"re o) annihilation o) e+il )or$es still has so%e in3"en$e'
4ario"s Shakta in!" $os%olo#ies, as well as Shkta -antri$ .elie)s, worshi&
her as the "lti%ate realit5 or 6rah%an' 2o%&arati+el5 re$ent !e+otional
%o+e%ents lar#el5 $on$ei+e Kli as a .ene+olent %other #o!!ess'[7] Kl is
re&resente! as the $onsort o) 8or! Shi+a, on whose .o!5 she is o)ten seen
stan!in#' Shi+a lies in the &ath o) Kali, whose )oot on Shi+a s".!"es her
an#er'
2ontents
, 9t5%olo#5
7 :ri#ins
; <orshi& an! %antra
= -antra
> 6en#ali tra!ition
? 8e#en!s
?', Sla5er o) @akta.iAa
?'7 *akshina Kali
?'; S%ashan Kali
?'= Baternal Kali
?'> Bahakali
C I$ono#ra&h5
C', Po&"lar )or%
C'7 Shi+a in Kali i$ono#ra&h5
D *e+elo&%ent
E In Few A#e an! neo&a#anis%
,G Fotes
,, @e)eren$es
,7 H"rther rea!in#
,; 9Iternal links
9t5%olo#5
Kl is the )e%inine )or% o) kla% (0.la$k, !ark $olo"re!0)'[;] Kla &ri%aril5
%eans 0ti%e0 ."t also %eans 0.la$k0 in honor o) .ein# the (rst $reation
.e)ore li#ht itsel)' Kl %eans 0the .la$k one0 an! re)ers to her .ein# the
entit5 o) 0ti%e0 or 0.e5on! ti%e'0 Kli is stron#l5 asso$iate! with Shi+a, an!
Shai+as !eri+e the %as$"line Kla (an e&ithet o) Shi+a) to $o%e )ro% her
)e%inine na%e' A nineteenthJ$ent"r5 Sanskrit !i$tionar5, the
Sha.!akal&a!r"%, states: J klaK Li+aK tas5a
&atnti kl J 0Shi+a is Kla, th"s, his $onsort is Kli0 re)errin# to *e+i Par+athi
.ein# a %ani)estation o) *e+i BahaKali'
:ther na%es in$l"!e Klartri (0.la$k ni#ht0), as !es$ri.e! a.o+e, an! Klik
(0relatin# to ti%e0)' 2o."rn notes that the na%e Kl $an .e "se! as a &ro&er
na%e, or as a !es$ri&tion o) $olor'[=]
KliMs asso$iation with !arkness stan!s in $ontrast to her $onsort, Shi+a, who
%ani)este! a)ter her in $reation, an! who s5%.olises the rest o) $reation a)ter
-i%e is $reate!' In his s"&re%e awareness o) Ba5a, his .o!5 is $o+ere! .5
the white ashes o) the $re%ation #ro"n! (Sanskrit: L%aLna) where he
%e!itates, an! with whi$h Kli is also asso$iate!, as L%aLnaJkl'
:ri#ins
"#h Nr.an notes that altho"#h the wor! Kl a&&ears as earl5 as the
Athar+a 4e!a, the (rst "se o) it as a &ro&er na%e is in the Kathaka 1rh5a
S"tra (,E'C)'[>] Kali is the na%e o) one o) the se+en ton#"es o) A#ni, the
[@i#+e!i$] 1o! o) Hire, in the B"n!aka N&anisha! (7:=), ."t it is "nlikel5 that
this re)ers to the #o!!ess' -he (rst a&&earan$e o) Kli in her &resent )or% is
in the Sa"&tika Par+an o) the Baha.harata (,G'D'?=)' She is $alle! Klartri
(literall5, 0.la$k ni#ht0) an! a&&ears to the Pan!a+a sol!iers in !rea%s, "ntil
(nall5 she a&&ears a%i!st the (#htin# !"rin# an atta$k .5 *ronaMs son
Ashwattha%a' She %ost )a%o"sl5 a&&ears in the siIth $ent"r5 *e+i
Bahat%5a% as one o) the shaktis o) Baha!e+i, an! !e)eats the !e%on
@akta.iAa (06loo!see!0)' -he tenthJ$ent"r5 Kalika P"rana +enerates Kli as
the "lti%ate realit5'
A$$or!in# to *a+i! Kinsle5, Kli is (rst %entione! in in!"is% as a !istin$t
#o!!ess aro"n! ?GG 29, an! these teIts 0"s"all5 &la$e her on the &eri&her5
o) in!" so$iet5 or on the .attle(el!'0[?] She is o)ten re#ar!e! as the Shakti
o) Shi+a, an! is $losel5 asso$iate! with hi% in +ario"s P"ranas' -he Kalika
P"rana !e&i$ts her as the 0A!i Shakti0 (H"n!a%ental Power) an! 0Para
Prakriti0 or .e5on! nat"re'
<orshi& an! %antra
Kali $o"l! .e $onsi!ere! a #eneral $on$e&t, like *"r#a, an! is %ostl5
worshi&e! in the Kali K"la se$t o) worshi&' -he $losest wa5 o) !ire$t worshi&
is Baha Kali or 6ha!ra Kali (6ha!ra in Sanskrit %eans M#entleM)' Kali is
worshi&e! as one o) the ,G Baha+i!5a )or%s o) A!i Parashakti (1o!!ess
*"r#a) or 6ha#a+ath5 a$$or!in# to the re#ion' -he %antra )or worshi& is [C]
$alle! *e+i Ar#ala Stotra%'[D]
Sanskrit: !"# $
% &' ' ()* )# + * , !"# $
(Sar+a%aO#ala%O#al5P Li+P sar+rthas!hikP ' LaraQ5P tr5a%.akP #a"ri
nr5aQi na%RMst" tP'
:S Aa5ant %an#ala kl .ha!rakl ka&lin ' !"r# kTa% Li+ !htr s+h
s+a!h na%RMst" tP')[E]
-antra
Kali Uantra
1o!!esses &la5 an i%&ortant role in the st"!5 an! &ra$ti$e o) -antra Uo#a,
an! are aVr%e! to .e as $entral to !is$ernin# the nat"re o) realit5 as are the
%ale !eities' Altho"#h Par+ati is o)ten sai! to .e the re$i&ient an! st"!ent o)
Shi+aMs wis!o% in the )or% o) -antras, it is Kli who see%s to !o%inate %"$h
o) the -antri$ i$ono#ra&h5, teIts, an! rit"als'[,G] In %an5 so"r$es Kli is
&raise! as the hi#hest realit5 or #reatest o) all !eities' -he Fir+anaJtantra
sa5s the #o!s 6rah%a, 4ishn", an! Shi+a all arise )ro% her like ."..les in the
sea, $easelessl5 arisin# an! &assin# awa5, lea+in# their ori#inal so"r$e
"n$han#e!' -he Fir"ttaraJtantra an! the Pi$$hilaJtantra !e$lare all o) KliMs
%antras to .e the #reatest an! the Uo#iniJtantra, Ka%akh5aJtantra an! the
Fir"ttaraJtantra all &ro$lai% Kli +i!5as (%ani)estations o) Baha!e+i, or
0!i+init5 itsel)0)' -he5 !e$lare her to .e an essen$e o) her own )or% (s+ar"&a)
o) the Baha!e+i'[,,]
In the Bahanir+anaJtantra, Kli is one o) the e&ithets )or the &ri%or!ial sakti,
an! in one &assa#e Shi+a &raises her:
At the !issol"tion o) thin#s, it is Kla [-i%e] <ho will !e+o"r all, an! .5
reason o) this e is $alle! Bahkla [an e&ithet o) 8or! Shi+a], an! sin$e
-ho" !e+o"rest Bahkla i%sel), it is -ho" who art the S"&re%e Pri%or!ial
Klika' 6e$a"se -ho" !e+o"rest Kla, -ho" art Kli, the ori#inal )or% o) all
thin#s, an! .e$a"se -ho" art the :ri#in o) an! !e+o"rest all thin#s -ho" art
$alle! the A!5a [the Pri%or!ial :ne]' @eJass"%in# a)ter *issol"tion -hine
own )or%, !ark an! )or%less, -ho" alone re%ainest as :ne ineWa.le an!
in$on$ei+a.le' -ho"#h ha+in# a )or%, 5et art -ho" )or%less; tho"#h -h5sel)
witho"t .e#innin#, %"lti)or% .5 the &ower o) Ba5a, -ho" art the 6e#innin# o)
all, 2reatriI, Prote$tress, an! *estr"$tress that -ho" art'[,G]
-he (#"re o) Kli $on+e5s !eath, !estr"$tion, an! the $ons"%in# as&e$ts o)
realit5' As s"$h, she is also a 0)or.i!!en thin#0, or e+en !eath itsel)' In the
Pan$atatt+a rit"al, the sa!haka .ol!l5 seeks to $on)ront Kali, an! there.5
assi%ilates an! trans)or%s her into a +ehi$le o) sal+ation'[,7] -his is $lear in
the work o) the Kar&"ra!iJstotra,[,;] a short &raise o) Kli !es$ri.in# the
Pan$atatt+a rit"al "nto her, &er)or%e! on $re%ation #ro"n!s' (Sa%ahanaJ
sa!hana)
e, : Bahkli who in the $re%ationJ#ro"n!, nake!, an! with !ishe+elle!
hair, intentl5 %e!itates "&on -hee an! re$ites -h5 %antra, an! with ea$h
re$itation %akes oWerin# to -hee o) a tho"san! Akan!a 3owers with see!,
.e$o%es witho"t an5 eWort a 8or! o) the earth' :h Kli, whoe+er on -"es!a5
at %i!ni#ht, ha+in# "ttere! -h5 %antra, %akes oWerin# e+en ."t on$e with
!e+otion to -hee o) a hair o) his Shakti [his ener#5/)e%ale $o%&anion] in the
$re%ationJ#ro"n!, .e$o%es a #reat &oet, a 8or! o) the earth, an! e+er #oes
%o"nte! "&on an ele&hant'[,7]
-he Kar&"ra!iJstotra $learl5 in!i$ates that Kli is %ore than a terri.le, +i$io"s,
sla5er o) !e%ons who ser+es *"r#a or Shi+a' ere, she is i!enti(e! as the
s"&re%e %istress o) the "ni+erse, asso$iate! with the (+e ele%ents' In "nion
with 8or! Shi+a, she $reates an! !estro5s worl!s' er a&&earan$e also takes
a !iWerent t"rn, .e(ttin# her role as r"ler o) the worl! an! o.Ae$t o)
%e!itation'[,=] In $ontrast to her terri.le as&e$ts, she takes on hints o) a
%ore .eni#n !i%ension' She is !es$ri.e! as 5o"n# an! .ea"ti)"l, has a
#entle s%ile, an! %akes #est"res with her two ri#ht han!s to !is&el an5 )ear
an! oWer .oons' -he %ore &ositi+e )eat"res eI&ose! oWer the !istillation o)
!i+ine wrath into a #o!!ess o) sal+ation, who ri!s the sa!haka o) )ear' ere,
Kali a&&ears as a s5%.ol o) tri"%&h o+er !eath'[,>]
6en#ali tra!ition
Kali P"Aa )esti+al in Kolkata'
Kali is also a $entral (#"re in late %e!ie+al 6en#ali !e+otional literat"re, with
s"$h !e+otees as @a%&rasa! Sen (,C,DXC>)' <ith the eI$e&tion o) .ein#
asso$iate! with Par+ati as Shi+aMs $onsort, Kli is rarel5 &i$t"re! in in!"
le#en!s an! i$ono#ra&h5 as a %otherl5 (#"re "ntil 6en#ali !e+otions
.e#innin# in the earl5 ei#hteenth $ent"r5' 9+en in 6en#li tra!ition her
a&&earan$e an! ha.its $han#e little, i) at all'[,?]
-he -antri$ a&&roa$h to Kli is to !is&la5 $o"ra#e .5 $on)rontin# her on
$re%ation #ro"n!s in the !ea! o) ni#ht, !es&ite her terri.le a&&earan$e' In
$ontrast, the 6en#ali !e+otee a&&ro&riates KliMs tea$hin#s a!o&tin# the
attit"!e o) a $hil!, $o%in# to lo+e her "nreser+e!l5' In .oth $ases, the #oal o)
the !e+otee is to .e$o%e re$on$ile! with !eath an! to learn a$$e&tan$e o)
the wa5 that thin#s are' -hese the%es are well a!!resse! in @%&ras!Ms
work'[,C] @%&ras! $o%%ents in %an5 o) his other son#s that Kli is
in!iWerent to his well.ein#, $a"ses hi% to s"Wer, .rin#s his worl!l5 !esires to
nothin# an! his worl!l5 #oo!s to r"in' e also states that she !oes not
.eha+e like a %other sho"l! an! that she i#nores his &leas:
2an %er$5 .e )o"n! in the heart o) her who was .orn o) the stoneY [a
re)eren$e to Kali as the !a"#hter o) i%ala5a]
<ere she not %er$iless, wo"l! she ki$k the .reast o) her lor!Y
Ben $all 5o" %er$i)"l, ."t there is no tra$e o) %er$5 in 5o", Bother'
Uo" ha+e $"t oW the hea!s o) the $hil!ren o) others, an! these 5o" wear as
a #arlan! aro"n! 5o"r ne$k'
It %atters not how %"$h I $all 5o" 0Bother, Bother'0 Uo" hear %e, ."t 5o"
will not listen'[,D]
-o .e a $hil! o) Kli, @%&ras! asserts, is to .e !enie! o) earthl5 !eli#hts
an! &leas"res' Kli is sai! to re)rain )ro% #i+in# that whi$h is eI&e$te!' -o the
!e+otee, it is &erha&s her +er5 re)"sal to !o so that ena.les her !e+otees to
re3e$t on !i%ensions o) the%sel+es an! o) realit5 that #o .e5on! the
%aterial worl!'[,D][,E]
A si#ni($ant &ortion o) 6en#ali !e+otional %"si$ )eat"res Kli as its $entral
the%e an! is known as Sh5a%a San#eet (0B"si$ o) the Fi#ht0)' Bostl5 s"n#
.5 %ale +o$alists, to!a5 e+en wo%en ha+e taken to this )or% o) %"si$' :ne
o) the (nest sin#ers o) Sh5%a Sn#eet is Pannalal 6hatta$har5a'
In 6en#al, Kli is +enerate! in the )esti+al Kali P"Aa, the new %oon !a5 o)
Ashwin %onth whi$h $oin$i!es with *iwali )esti+al'
In a "niZ"e )or% o) Kli worshi&, Shanti&"r worshi&s Kli in the )or% o) a han!
&ainte! i%a#e o) the !eit5 known as Poteshwari (%eanin# the !eit5 !rawn on
a &ie$e o) $loth)'