Different Forms of Mother Kali
Kali is a powerful and complex goddess with multiple forms. In times of natural disaster she is invoked as the protective Rakshakali. At the magnificent Dakshineswar Temple in Calcutta, she is revered as the beautiful Bhavatarini, Redeemer of the Universe. The Tantras mention over thirty forms of Kali. The Divine Mother is also known as Kali-Ma, the Black Goddess, Maha Kali, Nitya Kali, Smashana Kali, Raksha Kali, Shyama Kali, Kalikamata, Bhadra Kali, Ugra Chandi, Bhima Chandi, Sidheshvari, Sheetla (the goddess of smallpox) and Kalaratri. Maha Kali and Nitya Kali are mentioned in the Tantra philosophy. When there were neither the creation, nor the sun, the moon, the planets, and the earth, when the darkness was enveloped in darkness, then the Mother, the Formless One, Maha Kali, the Great Power, was one with the Maha Kala, the Absolute. Shyama Kali has a somewhat tender aspect and is worshipped in Hindu households. She is the dispenser of boons and the dispeller of fear. People worship Raksha Kali, the Protectress, in times of epidemic, famine, earthquake, drought, and flood. Shamshan Kali (Shmashanakali) is the embodiment of the power of destruction. From her mouth flows a stream of blood, from her neck hangs a garland of human heads, and around her waist is a girdle made of arms. She haunts the cremation grounds in the company of howling jackals and terrifying female spirits. Tantrics worship Siddha Kali to attain pefection. Phalaharini Kali to destroy the results of their actions; Nitya Kali, the eternal Kali, to take away their disease, grief, and suffering and to give them perfection and illumination. She is also known as Kalikamata (“black earth-mother”) and Kalaratri (“black night”). Among the Tamils she is known as Kottavei. Kali is worshipped particularly in Bengal. Her best known temples are in Dakshineshwar and Kalighat in Kolkata (Calcutta) and Kamakhya in Assam.