Prologue:- Mahā Kālī is the aspect of the Divine Mother Śakti, representing time and also the timeless bliss of the deep meditative samādhi state called Turīya. She is the darkness from which emerges the light and is also referred by the epithet Kālarātrī, the dimension beyond time where nothing exists, not even time, matter or space - only pure bliss, which is Mahā Kālī. Just as all colors combine into black, She is perceived as dark in complexion as the entire Creation merges into Her, during the stage of annihilation or pralaya, the Great Crunch.
Guhya Kālī is a very secretive aspect of Kālī, Who is highly praised in the Mahā Kāla Saṃhita. An aspect of Guhya Kālī is Kāmakalā Kāli, Whose desire and action is the destruction of ignorance and granting of liberation. She is depicted as red in color, and Her meditative verses are gross in description. The inner meaning and objective is to rise beyond the body and the physical realm we live in and witness the beyond, which is Herself in the state of pure bliss. She is the path and action to attain liberation. Kāmakalā also represents śiva-śakti-aikya or the union of the static and dynamic aspects of the super-consciousness.
The entire English translation is posted in the article describing Her dhyāna. The verses are posted below with the translation at the individual verse level. It is not necessary to read all the verses for Her mantra japa, but it is more important to understand the meaning of Her dhyāna and contemplate upon it, before reciting the mantra.
dhyānam-asyāḥ pravakṣyāmi kuru cittaikatānatām ।
udyad-ghanā-ghanā-śliṣyaj-javā-kusuma-sannibhām ॥ 1 ॥
ध्यानमस्याः प्रवक्ष्यामि कुरु चित्तैकतानताम् ।
उद्यद्घनाघनाश्लिष्यज्जवाकुसुमसन्निभाम् ॥ १ ॥
Let us pray to the Divine Mother Śrī Kāmakalā Kālī with single pointed devotion and concentration. She is like the rising sun swiftly moving across the clouds and depositing a reddish hue, as well as, like the appearance of a cluster of red hibiscus flowers.
The red color signifies activity as She conceives the entire Creation and sustains it through Her various energies called śaktis and finally, She leads us on the path of liberation.
matta-kokila-netrābhāṃ pakva-jambū-phala-prabhām ।
sudīrgha-prapadā-lambi-visrasta-ghana-mūrddhajām ॥ 2 ॥
मत्तकोकिलनेत्राभां पक्वजम्बूफलप्रभाम् ।
सुदीर्घप्रपदालम्बिविस्रस्तघनमूर्द्धजाम् ॥ २ ॥
She is also like the deep red eyes of an overjoyed cuckoo bird and also like a ripened red rose apple plant. Her loosened, disheveled tresses of hair reach her feet.
She is the deep seated inner joy or pure bliss and also the deep sense of satisfaction and joy that we can perceive. The loosened hair signifies Her reach to the depths of Creation and signifies Her omniscience.
udyac-chārada-sampūrṇa-candra-kokanadānanām ॥ 3 ॥
उद्यच्छारदसम्पूर्णचन्द्रकोकनदाननाम् ॥ ३ ॥
She is three-eyed with the eyes resembling burning coals red in color. Her appearance is like the rising full moon red in color and also like that of a blossomed red lotus flower.
The ājñā cakra is signified here and the blossoming of higher consciousness that leads us towards self-realization.
vitasti-mātra-niṣkrānta-lalaj-jihvā-bhayānakām ॥ 4 ॥
वितस्तिमात्रनिष्क्रान्तललज्जिह्वाभयानकाम् ॥ ४ ॥
She has two long protruding upper teeth appearing like lotus petals. She has a protruding and lolling tongue, about half a cubit (8 inch) long, sporting a terrific appearance, causing great fear.
The white protruding teeth signify the sattvic guṇa (peaceful, non-violent, blissful temperament). The red lolling tongue signifies the rajasic (passion, activity, desire) nature. She uses the tongue to swallow the innumerable thoughts and desires we have (represented as the asura Raktabīja in the Devi Mahatmyam) and ultimately lead us to self-realization and true bliss.
vyāttāna-natayā dṛśya-dvā-triṃśad-danta-maṇḍalām ।
nirantaraṃ vepamānottam-āṅgāṃ ghora-rūpiṇīm ॥ 5 ॥
व्यात्ताननतया दृश्यद्वात्रिंशद्दन्तमण्डलाम् ।
निरन्तरं वेपमानोत्तमाङ्गां घोररूपिणीम् ॥ ५ ॥
She has a wide gaping mouth with the jaws dropping downward and all her thirty-two teeth becoming visible. Her entire body is vibrating vigorously lending to Her terrifying appearance.
The wide gaping mouth is to tear into our internal enemies such as anger, pride, ego, mind and even our physical, astral and causal bodies, housing our accumulated karma of past and current lifetimes. Her vibration is the pulsation of time, signifying the events to come and also reminding us of the time gone past.
aṃs-āsakta-nṛ-muṇḍ-āsṛk pibantīṃ vakra-kandharām ।
sṛkka-dvandva-sravad-rakta-snāpitoroja-yugmakām ॥ 6 ॥
अंसासक्तनृमुण्डासृक् पिबन्तीं वक्रकन्धराम् ।
सृक्कद्वन्द्वस्रवद्रक्तस्नापितोरोजयुग्मकाम् ॥ ६ ॥
Her shoulders carry a garland of human skulls wrapping around Her front, and She bends to drink the blood dripping from the mouths of the skulls, giving Her a bent-neck appearance. The blood seems to be wetting Her all the way to the breasts and the chest region.
Sucking up the blood indicates the transformation of the physical body to the elements of nature. The skulls around Her neck and chest indicate the letters and sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet, and all the various śaktis and mātṛkās that are invoked by the pronunciation of the alphabet. She is the destroyer who also brings about the transformation of the organic matter to the base elements of fire, air, water, ether and earth. She is also the Creator, who will once again seed the conscience in new bodies and is also the Sustainer, Who nourishes the Creation.
saśīt-kṛti-dhayantīṃ tal-lelihāna-rasajñayā ॥ 7 ॥
सशीत्कृतिधयन्तीं तल्लेलिहानरसज्ञया ॥ ७ ॥
The oozing blood falling on Her chest is adding to Her red complexion as She relishes the blood. She is uttering a murmuring sound, darting Her tongue out and slurping up the blood.
She seeds all the known forms of sound and they emanate from Her aspect as Śabda Brahman, the super-consciousness descended as sound. She is the cause of all transformation – body to matter, matter to body, as well as the ascent of the subtle individual consciousness to the universal super-consciousness.
lalāṭe ghana-nārāsṛg-vihit-āruṇa-citrakām ।
sadyaś-chinna-galad-rakta-nṛ-muṇḍa-kṛta-kuṇḍalām ॥ 8 ॥
ललाटे घननारासृग्विहितारुणचित्रकाम् ।
सद्यश्छिन्नगलद्रक्तनृमुण्डकृतकुण्डलाम् ॥ ८ ॥
Her forehead is adorned with human blood giving Her a reddish glowing picturesque appearance. She is adorned with earrings of instantly and freshly severed human heads.
The human heads signify such traits as ego, pride, and mind, which are our internal enemies that She consumes to finally liberate us. Unless one conquers the internal enemies, the divinity within us in the form of consciousness, does not ascend and one cannot attain self-realization and proceed towards liberation, from the cycle of life and death and attain permanent unity with the Divine Mother.
sravad-asr-aughayā śaśvan-mānavyā muṇḍa-mālayā ॥ 9 ॥
स्रवदस्रौघया शश्वन्मानव्या मुण्डमालया ॥ ९ ॥
Her shining hair locks around the ears are hanging down till the shoulders and are like a ring-shaped ornament. The ever flowing blood from the human head earrings, adds to the redness and presents a horrific sight. She also sports a garland of human skulls.
She does not tire in Her efforts of transformation. She will continue forever to destroy the internal evils that have taken a seat in us.
ākaṇṭha-gulpha-lambiny-ālaṅkṛtāṃ keśa-baddhayā ।
śvetāsthi-gulikā-hāra-graiveyaka-mahojjvalām ॥ 10 ॥
आकण्ठगुल्फलम्बिन्यालङ्कृतां केशबद्धया ।
श्वेतास्थिगुलिकाहारग्रैवेयकमहोज्ज्वलाम् ॥ १० ॥
The garland of dazzling white skulls extends from the throat to the knees and also ties Her disheveled hair falling from the head to the feet, giving Her a frightening appearance. She also wears a white necklace of balls made from bones enhancing Her dazzling appearance.
Her frightening appearance is a reminder that the physical world and the material joys that we enjoy are not permanent. Unless we make efforts towards spiritual transformation, there is a great danger ahead and at some point of time that suffering is imminent. Her hair in this context corresponds to Her reach from top to bottom. She gets to everyone, no matter how high or low they maybe in the strata of society or physical location. She is present everywhere and She is also like the gravitational force that exists everywhere.
kaṭhora-pīvarottuṅga-vakṣoja-yugalānvitām ॥ 11 ॥
कठोरपीवरोत्तुङ्गवक्षोजयुगलान्विताम् ॥ ११ ॥
The five long fingers of corpses adorn Her thighs as bracelets. She appears well-endowed and curvaceous, with a large and firm bosom.
The five fingers represent the pañca-tattva or five natural cosmic elements such as fire, earth, air, water and ether. She is the Creator and She is present in all of them. She as the Divine Mother, is also the sustainer, who provides nourishment to the entire Creation.
viśāla-jaghanā-bhogām-ati-kṣīṇa-kaṭi-sthalām ॥ 12 ॥
विशालजघनाभोगामतिक्षीणकटिस्थलाम् ॥ १२ ॥
She is embellished with a large emerald stone ring ornament around Her hips. Her buttocks and hips are very broad and the waist is very slender, making Her look very enticing.
She charms the entire Creation and is the cause of the virtual cosmic reality called Mahāmāyā. We are all lost in the Creation by accepting it as the reality, while the real Truth and true bliss is nothing but Her and She is pure consciousness at its highest level.
supīna-ṣoḍaśa-bhujāṃ mahā-śaṅkh-āñjad-aṅgakām ॥ 13 ॥
सुपीनषोडशभुजां महाशङ्खाञ्जदङ्गकाम् ॥ १३ ॥
She is adorned with anklets of tinkling bells made of children heads interwoven with intestines. She has very long sixteen arms, anointed with the human temporal bones and other organs.
She is the Divine Mother and is the cause of Creation. She holds the entire Creation close to Herself and takes care of all its needs, which also includes transformation through destruction. Her arms indicate all Her means and tools that shape the Creation, Sustenance and its Destruction. She is present in everyone and is everywhere.
śavānāṃ dhamanī-puñjair-veṣṭitaiḥ kṛta-kaṅkaṇām ।
gratitaiḥ śava-keśa-srag-dāmabhiḥ kaṭi-sūtriṇīm ॥ 14 ॥
शवानां धमनीपुञ्जैर्वेष्टितैः कृतकङ्कणाम् ।
ग्रतितैः शवकेशस्रग्दामभिः कटिसूत्रिणीम् ॥ १४ ॥
She is adorned with wrist rings (bangles) made of nerves and veins, taken from dead corpses. She has a waist band of braided locks of hair derived from corpses.
This is to represent that She is in our blood, veins and every nerve of our body. She is present inside and outside the body as well and is everywhere. She is the cause of all the support mechanisms that the entire Creation uses for its existence. Acknowledging that we are but Her and not our own selves identified by our ego, helps us reach towards self-realization.
śava-pota-kara-śreṇī-grathanaiḥ kṛta-mekhalām ।
śobhamān-āṅgulīṃ māṃsa-medo-majj-āṅgulīyakaiḥ ॥ 15 ॥
शवपोतकरश्रेणीग्रथनैः कृतमेखलाम् ।
शोभमानाङ्गुलीं मांसमेदोमज्जाङ्गुलीयकैः ॥ १५ ॥
She is adorned with a chain of young dead animal paws strung together, along Her hips. Her beautiful fingers are adorned with rings made of meat, brain and bone marrow fused together.
She is present not only in the human beings, but also in the entire Creation. She is in the birds, animals, fish and every organic and inorganic matter. It is only Her and nothing else. Due to the veil of Māyā, we are unable to perceive Her true reality. We also cannot truly perceive Her through the faculty of our senses, but can only do so with our consciousness, when it ascends to the higher levels.
asiṃ triśūlaṃ cakraṃ ca śaram-aṅkuśam-eva ca ।
lālanaṃ ca tathā kartrīm-akṣamālāṃ ca dakṣiṇe ॥ 16 ॥
असिं त्रिशूलं चक्रं च शरमङ्कुशमेव च ।
लालनं च तथा कर्त्रीमक्षमालां च दक्षिणे ॥ १६ ॥
She holds a sword, trident, cakra, quiver of arrows, an elephant goad, a venomous animal resembling a mouse, and a rosary of rudrākṣamālā or a chain made of bones in Her right hands.
Her weapons represent various actions that She performs to take care of the Creation. The sword slashes our ego, the trident represents the triads such as the physical, astral and causal bodies, which need to be transcended, in order to perceive Her in Her true glory. The cakra cuts through the toughest of karmas. The arrows pierce our cakras and help us ascend spiritually. The elephant goad controls our toughest obstacles, as well as calm the rash of emotions, that may beset us at times. The mouse like creature represents Her ability to cut through all knots, especially the spiritual knots that block the flow of the dormant Kuṇḍalini energy. The rosary is the means of attaining Her grace through mantra japa and meditation.
pāśāṃ ca paraśuṃ nāgaṃ cāpaṃ mudgaram-eva ca ।
śivā-potaṃ kharparaṃ ca vas-āsṛṅ-medas-ānvitam ॥ 17 ॥
पाशां च परशुं नागं चापं मुद्गरमेव च ।
शिवापोतं खर्परं च वसासृङ्मेदसान्वितम् ॥ १७ ॥
In Her left hands, She holds a noose, axe, a snake, bow, hammer, a small jackal cub, skull filled with blood, fat and marrow.
The noose brings back those who are lost in the material world back to the spiritual reality. The axe is to sever toxic relationships and habits, eradicate diseases and enemies. The snake represents the inherent and dormant Kuṇḍalini energy that is awakened by Her grace. The bow pairs up with the arrows in inducing love, passion and helps in the procreation activities. The hammer shapes the terrain and helps with the Sustenance. The jackal cub is for scavenging the dead organic matter and its transformation to the natural elements. The skull with the organic matter is representative of Creation as well as the continuous life and death cycle, which is the order of the divine, enforced as the law of karma.
lambat-kacaṃ nṛ-muṇḍaṃ ca dhārayantīṃ sva-vāmataḥ ।
vilasan-nūpurāṃ devīṃ grathitaiḥ śava-pañjaraiḥ ॥ 18 ॥
लम्बत्कचं नृमुण्डं च धारयन्तीं स्ववामतः ।
विलसन्नूपुरां देवीं ग्रथितैः शवपञ्जरैः ॥ १८ ॥
Her garments are adorned with hanging human skulls swaying to the left. Her feet and toes are garnished with anklets and toe rings made of skeletal ribs of corpses.
We have no other means, but to cling on to Her through any means such as, devotion, prayer, mantra japa, meditation or just good karmic deeds, to obtain Her grace. She will crush our ego and pride as and when necessary, to once again rein us in towards Her path. We are the iron filings and She is the magnet.
adho-mukha-mahā-dīrgha-prasupta-śava-pṛṣṭhagām ॥ 19 ॥
अधोमुखमहादीर्घप्रसुप्तशवपृष्ठगाम् ॥ १९ ॥
She is present in the raging fires of a crematorium and is standing on the back of a swollen corpse, which is in a deep sleeping pose.
She is the power of transformation and is not a physical form made of matter, which can burn. She is eternal and exists at all times and at every place. She is the consciousness that exists beyond the body and gets reinserted into another physical body, as per accrued karma.
protthāyaiva hi tiṣṭhantīṃ pratyālīḍha-pada-kramām ॥ 20 ॥
प्रोत्थायैव हि तिष्ठन्तीं प्रत्यालीढपदक्रमाम् ॥ २० ॥
Fires emerging from Her mouth are spreading across the entire space paradigm in all directions. She takes a stance of extending Her left foot forward and drawing back Her right foot.
She is the fire of transformation that sweeps across the entire Creation and helps in the material as well as spiritual transformation. It is symbolic of the burning of karmas leading us to liberation. The left foot forward represents the vāma mārga or the left hand path, which is very popular amongst the worshippers of the Divine Mother Kāli. The vāma mārga also represents the worship of the Divine Feminine (Mother) as the ultimate singular reality – Brahman.
vāma-dakṣiṇa-saṃsthābhyāṃ nadantībhyāṃ muhurmuhuḥ ।
śivābhyāṃ ghora-rūpābhyāṃ vamantībhyāṃ mahānalam ॥ 21 ॥
वामदक्षिणसंस्थाभ्यां नदन्तीभ्यां मुहुर्मुहुः ।
शिवाभ्यां घोररूपाभ्यां वमन्तीभ्यां महानलम् ॥ २१ ॥
From time to time, She raises Her left or right foot roaring and vibrating in jubilation. She is surrounded by two jackals appearing like fiery spewing burning coals and lending a horrific appearance.
She is pleased with devotion and Her devotees may choose either the left handed vāma mārga or the ritualistic dakṣiṇa mārga. Her grace and agents will devour through all karma and elevate us spiritually.
vidyud-aṅgāra-varṇābhyāṃ veṣṭitāṃ parameśvarīm ।
sarvadaiv-ānulagnābhyāṃ paśyantībhyāṃ maheśvarīm ॥ 22 ॥
विद्युदङ्गारवर्णाभ्यां वेष्टितां परमेश्वरीम् ।
सर्वदैवानुलग्नाभ्यां पश्यन्तीभ्यां महेश्वरीम् ॥ २२ ॥
The two jackals which surround Her, are endowed with electricity and heated charcoals. They are always watching and attending on Śrī Kāmakalā Kālī.
She has at Her disposal, powers that can burn karmas to cinders at the subliminal level, and also completely eliminate all negativity and enemies at the material level.
atīva bhaṣam-ānābhyāṃ śivābhyāṃ śobhitāṃ muhuḥ ।
kapāla-saṃsthāṃ mastiṣkaṃ dadatīṃ ca tayordvayoḥ ॥ 23 ॥
अतीव भषमानाभ्यां शिवाभ्यां शोभितां मुहुः ।
कपालसंस्थां मस्तिष्कं ददतीं च तयोर्द्वयोः ॥ २३ ॥
She feeds the two howling jackals surrounding Her at all times, with the severed heads stored in a cup made of skulls. The feeding continues in a cyclic manner and never stops.
She is incessantly preoccupied with the activities of Creation, Preservation and Destruction. This cycle never stops and continues continuously. The feeding of the jackals is symbolic of the transformation of the organic matter to its intrinsic elements and recycling for reuse.
digambarāṃ mukta-keśīm-aṭṭahāsāṃ bhayānakām ।
saptadhā naddha-nārāntra-yoga-paṭṭa-vibhūṣitām ॥ 24 ॥
दिगम्बरां मुक्तकेशीमट्टहासां भयानकाम् ।
सप्तधा नद्धनारान्त्रयोगपट्टविभूषिताम् ॥ २४ ॥
She is minimally dressed and has disheveled hair and laughs menacingly creating great fear. She is adorned with seven knots of human intestines bound together. She looks horrific in appearance.
She is infinite and cannot be clothed literally, as She is also subtle and is pure consciousness. She is in the form of all wavelengths and frequencies represented by Her incessant laughter, evoking all sounds represented by the Mātṛkā goddesses. The seven knots represent the seven cakras wound around the spine through which the spiritual latent force called Kuṇḍalini traverses through.
saṃhāra-bhairaveṇaiva sārddhaṃ sambhogam-icchatīm ।
ati-kāmāturāṃ kālīṃ hasantīṃ kharva-vigrahām ॥ 25 ॥
संहारभैरवेणैव सार्द्धं सम्भोगमिच्छतीम् ।
अतिकामातुरां कालीं हसन्तीं खर्वविग्रहाम् ॥ २५ ॥
The Divine Mother Śrī Kāmakalā Kālī, is overjoyed and elated in Her union with Saṃhāra Bhairava, Which is Her cherished desire. She appears to be of shorter stature, when laughing incessantly and wildly.
The union of Śiva and Śakti is the coming together of the static and dynamic aspects of the super-consciousness leading to pure bliss. This is experienced after the individual consciousness merges into the dynamic superconsciousness, which is nothing but Her. She stoops to pick us up and take us into Her lap, to experience the true bliss of the union.
mahā-pralaya-koṭyarkka-vidyud-arbuda-sannibhām ॥ 26 ॥
महाप्रलयकोट्यर्क्कविद्युदर्बुदसन्निभाम् ॥ २६ ॥
During the great crunch called pralaya, when the multi-dimensional multi-verse collapses with infinite energies coming together like great lightnings and infinite fires from all the suns, raging and burning everything to cinders, She remains without any impact as a witness.
This is the same as the Saundarya Lahari śloka 26. She is cause and source of all powers and śaktis, which dissolve into Her, at the time of the great crunch, which is also the process of involution of the Creation into the source, which is Her.
kalpānta-kāriṇīṃ kālīṃ mahā-bhairava-rūpiṇīm ।
mahābhīmāṃ durnirīkṣāṃ sendrairapi surāsuraiḥ ॥ 27 ॥
कल्पान्तकारिणीं कालीं महाभैरवरूपिणीम् ।
महाभीमां दुर्निरीक्षां सेन्द्रैरपि सुरासुरैः ॥ २७ ॥
She ends the entire cycles of time called yugas (epochs) between each annihilation. She is Kālī the consort and power of Mahā Bhairava. She is enormous and extremely difficult to be conceived, even by the mighty celestials like Indra and the surās and their cousins, the asurās.
She is infinite and pure bliss. She is timeless and beyond all the dimensions. She is impossible to be fully conceived and can only be perceived by our consciousness.
śatru-pakṣa-kṣaya-karīṃ daitya-dānava-sūdanīm ।
cintayed-īdṛśīṃ devīṃ kālī kāmakalābhidhām ॥ 28 ॥
शत्रुपक्षक्षयकरीं दैत्यदानवसूदनीम् ।
चिन्तयेदीदृशीं देवीं काली कामकलाभिधाम् ॥ २८ ॥
She is the destroyer of all enemies, the vanquisher of the extra dimensional daityas and dānavas.
Let us meditate upon the qualities of Devī Kāmakalā Kālī to attain liberation.
She eliminates all enemies, internal and external, burns the karmas and all our bodies – physical, astral and causal and liberates the individual conscience to unite into Her.
This article is written by Krishna Vallapareddy.