Mahakali is the fiercest form of the Mother Goddess. For many she is the symbol of devotion, for many she is the matter of fear and for many she goes beyond any level of understanding.
Maa Kali represents the oldest form of mother worship; she blends the ancient with the timeless. Mother Goddess is considered the most revered creator of the cosmos. She is the primordial force that intrigues the ultimate consciousness, i.e., Shiva to evolve into a cosmic design together. Knowing and understanding about Maa Kali eradicates all the fears and bestows the highest form of knowledge to the person.
Appearance of Maa Kali
In Shakt tradition of Hinduism, Mother Goddess is considered the creator of the cosmos and even Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. She manifests as the Shakti of each Deva as Brahmani (Sarasvati), Lakshmi and Parvati respectively.
Mahakali is the form which appears in dark complexion, in the most rustic attire, holding a fierce sword in her hand with protruding tongue. Mother Kali ensures fearlessness in her devotee and destroys all the evil powers.
She adorns herself with the mund-maal (garland of skulls). The mund –maal depicts the cycle of life and death which is in the control of Mahakali. Understanding the meaning of this appearance is difficult for very knowledgeable people too. Her one leg is on the lying Shiva and tongue protruding out. This is the most common form which everybody knows.
Shamashan Kaali- The Kali of the Cremation Ground
One of the rarely found form of Goddess Kali is Shamshan Kali. This form is generally not worshipped by the householders. Rather, the Tantrics and sanyasis perform the worship of this form. Shamshan Kali gives the knowledge of death and liberates oneself. Worshipping Shamshan Kali is for those who want to leave everything that is worldly and want emancipation from the cycle of death and birth. She is considered the most dangerous incarnation.
Known among the ten mahavidyas, Maa Tara is another form of Maa Kali. Maa Tara is mostly worshipped in tantric ways and she is among the highest liberator. Her colour is blue and she is also known as Neel Sarasvati. According to the puranic tales, Parvati took form of Maa Tara when Shiv drank the halahal poison from the samudra-manthan.
In Bengal there is one the biggest Tara Shaktipeeth, one of the greatest of Shakt centre of Tantra.
Dakshin Kali of Dakshineshwar
Dakshineshwar, Kalighat near Kolkata is the most famous peethas of Maa Kali where Ramkrishna Paramhans used to worship. This form of Kali appears in the most benevolent form, like a mother with four hands. The gracious appearance of mother in Dakshineshwar takes away all the pains. This name appears through Yama who is the lord of death. Lord Yama or death comes from the direction of south (dakshin) but when he heard the name of Kali he fled. This gives the mother Goddess name of Dakshin Kali.
Bhadrakali- The Gentlest of All
Bhadrakali signifies the gentle form of Kali. After all the destruction and drinking of the blood of demons, mother Goddess put her leg on the chest of Mahadev. To pacify her Mahadev had lied down on the ground. This pacified form of Kali when she is all at peace and calm, is called Bhadrakali. This majestic and graceful form of Kali is embellished with all forms of gold jewelleries and mild smile on her face.
Another form of Kali that is not known to many people and worshipped mostly in Bengal is Krishna –Kali. Here, this form is an amalgamation of Shri Krishna and Kali. Because Krishna is also dark-skinned and in the form of Vishnu he calls Parvati as his sister. Therefore, in the form of Kali both Krishna and Kali are the brother-sister duo who are dark-skinned.
There are stories which depict that Draupadi and Krishna are Krishnakali who were the major force slaying the adharmiks in Mahabharat war.
Other forms of Kali
Maa Kali appears in many other subtler forms which are mostly worshipped by the Tantrics and are not for the householders. Kali is beyond this material dimension and therefore understanding her every nuance is a difficult task. As we know, there are many major and minor traditions in Bharat, there is importance of Kali in every sampradaya (sect).
The different subtler forms of Maa Kali are like Chintamani Kali, AdyaKali, Kamkala Klai (relates to the skeleton), Guhya Kali, Hmsa Kali, Kalasankarshini Kali.
Taking the name of Kali and singing the greatness of Mother is impossible for a common human being. Every material and abstract form present in this universe is a manifestation of the Shakti, i.e. Kali. Therefore, the grace and blessings of Kali resides in respecting nature and every bit of existence we have around. To attain the blessings of Kali, one has to be deeply devoted and surrendered before her. Although she is a fearful Mother, but her vicinity gives utmost satisfaction and protection to the devotee.