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The Kali Yantra
Sadashiva is without energy (lifeless) when Mahakali is manifest. He also is like a corpse when in union with Shakti. Clearly, without Shakti, the primordial god is lifeless and cannot act – Todala Tantra, I
The Dakshinakali yantra, pictured left, conforms to the general pattern of all Shakti yantras but has its own particular form. In the centre is a group of five triangles. Each point represents one of the fifteen Kali Nityas or eternities, one for each day of the waning Moon. In the eight petals are eight Bhairavas and eight Bhairavis, coupling together. Yantras which are not inscribed with bija mantras and the matrikas are unsuitable for worship, as are those which are created by an uninitiated person, those which do not have life installed (see below). Mantras, meanwhile, are useless even if one is initiated, unless purashcarana, a preparatory rite, is performed.
Bhairava means terrifying, and these couples are particularised aspects of Dakshina Kalika, conforming to the eight tantrik directions. This is also the Kaula circle where males and females congregate on one of the dark days of the Moon to perform their uncanny rites. Each subsidiary Kali Nitya has her own yantra and mantra conforming to the nature of each of the days of the dark fortnight of the Moon.
Every tantrik deity has her or his daily puja which a devotee performs and the pattern for these sadhanas are all very similar. After first clearing and purifying a space, a yantra is drawn, and the sadhaka then performs nyasa, afterwards meditating on the Devi in her or his own heart and taking her, through the vital breath, to dwell in the centre of the yantra. Before using a yantra for this purpose, life and breath have to be installed. This rite (pranapratishta – installation of prana) uses the matrikas and gives the yantra the 36 tantrik tattvas. Yantras, too, have a definite life span, depending on the material. Gold, for example, lasts for life, silver for seven years, &c.
The image of Dakshina Kalika is awesome. She has a fanged mouth, looks terrifying, has dishevelled hair, has four arms and is adorned with a necklace of human skulls. She holds a newly severed head and a swords, her other hands shows the mudras which dispell fear and grant boons. She is the colour of a thundercloud, dusky, and is completely naked (digambara, clothed in space). Blood trickles from the sides of her mouth, and her earrings are two corpses of young boys. She has rising, large swelling breasts, and is seated in intercourse on the body of a corpse. She laughs loudly. The corpse is Mahadeva Shiva in his form of Mahakala and the whole scene is within the cremation ground.
Once installed in her form – and this can be a yantra, a statue, a flower, a book and various other sacred items – Devi is treated as being actually present, and the adept offers her various good things, food, perfume, drink, incense, and a whole host of other ritual accessories. There are five, or sixteen or sixty four upachara (ritual accessories – see the abstract of the Gandharva Tantra for details). These upacharas can be either external or internal. The true flowers, according to the tradition, are flowers such as compassion, forgiveness, kindness and the like. The attendants of the Devi are then worshipped, and offerings given to them too.
At this stage, the initiate can then perform various other rites, finally winding up by again taking the Devi into her or his heart, wiping out the yantra, and closing the rite. Things do not have to take such a formal shape, however. Devi describes a continual method of worship in the Kulachudamani Tantra.
“Dear son, my secret originates in simple practice. Those lacking this do not obtain success even in one hundred koti of births. Folk following the path of Kula and the Kulashastras are broad minded, from following the path of Vishnu, patient of insult, and always doing good to others.
“One should go to the temple of a deva, or to a deserted place, free of people, an empty place, to a crossroads or to an island. There, one should recite the mantra and, having bowed, become one with divinity and free from sorrow.
“Bow to Mahakali if you see a vulture, a she-jackal, a raven, an osprey, a hawk, a crow or a black cat, saying: “O Origin of all, greatly terrifying one, with dishevelled hair, fond of flesh offering, charming one of Kulachara, I bow to you, Shankara’s beloved!
“If you should see a cremation ground or a corpse, circumambulate. Bowing to them, and reciting a mantra, a mantrin becomes happy: ‘O you with terrible fangs, cruel eyed one, roaring like a raging sow! Destroyer of life! O mother of sweet and terrifying sound, I bow to you, dweller in the cremation ground.’
“If you should see a red flower or red clothes – the essence of Tripura – prostrate yourself like a stick on the ground and recite the following mantra: ‘Tripura, destroyer of fear, coloured red as a bandhuka blossom! Supremely beautiful one, hail to you, giver of boons.’
“If you should see a dark blue flower, a king, a prince, elephant, horse, chariot, swords, blossoms, a vira, a buffalo, a Kuladeva, or an image of Mahishamardini – bow to Jayadurga to become free of obstacles. Say: ‘Jaya Devi! Support of the universe! Mother Tripura! Triple divinity!’
“If you should see a wine jar, fish, meat or a beautiful woman, bow to Bhairavi Devi, saying this mantra: ‘O destructress of terrifying obstacles! Grace giver of the path of Kula! I bow to you, boon giver adorned with a garland of skulls! O red clothed one! One praised by all! All obstacle destroying Devi! I bow to you, the beloved of Hara.’
“Dear son, if a person sees this things without bowing, the Shakti mantra does not give success.
“I am the essence of this, beloved of the Kula folk. All the Dakinis are my parts. Listen Bhairava! One who has gained success in my simple yoga cannot be harmed by a Dakini. My devotees abound in wealth and cannot be conquered by Vatukas or Bhairavas.
“Whichever Kaula is seen by a young girl or woman, whether he be in village, city, festival, or at the crossroads, causes her to be filled with longing, her heart aching, her eyes darting glances, like a line of bees mad for honey falls on a lotus flower, greedy for nectar, like a female partridge for a cloud, like a cow for her recently born calf, like a female gazelle eager for young shoots of grass, like jackals for flesh, like a person tortured by thirst who sees water, like a dvamsi (?) at the sight of a lotus fibre, or like an ant greedy for honey.
“The sight of such a Kaula, enveloped by the Kulas, causes her lower garment to slip, she becomes mad with lust, and of unsteady appearance. Seeing her on a couch, her breasts and vagina exposed, one should fall to her feet, and, rising, fall again.
“One should impart the oral lore to an alluring female companion – in her feet resides the secret of the act of love. One attracts such female companions, with beautiful hips and beautiful breasts, like a moon to the Kaula, free from greed or modesty, devoted, patient of heart, sensuous, very inner of spirit.
“In such a happy Duti, curiosity may suddenly arise, she asking ‘Dear son, what is to be done or not to be done? Speak!’ One should perform sacrifice to the indwelling Maya and offer the remainder to the Shakti. After this, one should excite her and then perform the act of love.
“On a Tuesday, in the cremation ground, smeared with Kula vermilion, using Kula wood, one should draw a yantra. In the petals write the Camunda Mantra, ‘Sphrem Sphrem Kiti Kiti’ twice, and then the ninefold mantra of Mahishamardini. Outside this, write the mantras of Jayadurga and Shmashana Bhairavi. After writing them, worship Bhadrakali at night, meditating on Kamakhya, the essence of Kamakala.
“The Kulakaulika, naked, with dishevelled hair, should meditate on the formidable Kali, with her terrifying fangs and appearance, Digambari, with her garlands of human arms, seated on a corpse in Virasana, in sexual union with Mahakala, her ears adorned with bone ornaments, blood trickling from her mouth, roaring terrifyingly, wearing a garland of skulls, her large and swelling breasts smeared with blood, intoxicated with wine, trembling, holding in her left hand a sword, and in her right hand a human skull, dispelling fear and granting boons, her face terrifying, her tongue rolling wildly, her left ear adorned with a raven’s feather, her jackal servants roaring loudly like the end of time, she herself laughing terribly and pitilessly, surrounded by hordes of fearsome Bhairavas, treading on human skeletons, wholly occupied with the sounds of victorious battle, the supreme one, served by numberless hosts of powerful demons.
“After meditating on Kalika, the lord of Kula should then worship her. Unless one enters the other city, Kulasiddhi cannot be achieved. Because this Devi gives all success as soon as she is remembered, she is hymned in the three worlds as Dakshina.
“O Bhairava, by reciting her mantra 108 times, one can achieve whatever object is wished for. After establishing oneself at the crossroads and meditating on the Devi in your heart, one should enter the city adorned with the most beautiful sorts of jewels. After meditating on Devi in the four directions, bow to the Kulaguru and, holding the name of the object of siddhi in your left hand, pronounce the mantra.
“Smearing the eyes with anjana, one may shatter iron locks barring doors, becoming able to enter either stable, warrior’s house, Kalika temple, treasury or sacred place, and may have sexual union according to will even 100 times. After meditating on Svapnavati Devi, one should enter the pavilion of Kama.”
The Kali Tantra gives more details of the puja of Kalika:-
“Now I speak of the ritual injunction which is the all-nectar-giver of the Devi. Doing this, a person becomes like Bhairava.
“Firstly, I speak of yantra, the knowing of which conquers death. At first draw a triangle. Outside, draw another. Then draw three more triangles. “Draw a circle and then a beautiful lotus. Then draw another circle and then a bhupura with four lines and four doors. This is how the cakra should be drawn.
“Worship the guru line, the six limbs, and the dikpalas (The eight, or according to some, ten guardians of the directions, ed.). Then the mantrin should place his head at the feet of the guru.
“O dearest one, after worshipping the pedestal, set down the offering. Place the mantra in the six limbs. Then, within the heart lotus, the ultimate Kala blossoms.
“Place her in the centre of the yantra by invoking her (via the breath). After meditating on the great goddess, dedicate the ritual offerings. Bow to Mahadevi and then worship the surrounding deities.
“Worship Kali, Kapalini, Kulla, Kurukulla, Virodhini, Vipracitta in the six angles. Then Ugra, Ugraprabha, Dipta in the middle. Then Nila, Ghana and Balaka in the inner angle. Then Matra, Mudra and Mita within this triangle, and then the very dusky one holding the sword, adorned with human skulls, with her left hand showing the threatening mudra and having a pure smile.
“Worship the eight mothers Brahmi, Narayani, Maheshvari, Chamunda, Kaumari, Aparajita, Varahi and Narasimhi.
“In equal shares, give these devis animal sacrifice and worship them, smearing them with scent and offering incense and flame. After doing the puja, worship using the root mantra.
“Give food and so forth to the Devi again and again. The sadhaka should offer flame ten times. So also he should offer flower with mantra according to the rules of ritual.
“After meditating on Devi, recite the mantra 1,008 times. The fruit of reciting, which is light, place in the hands of the Devi.
“Then, placing the flower on the head, do prostration. With supreme devotion, then rub out (the yantra).”
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2022. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2022.Questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org