The Kālī bīja mantra Krīṃ

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Original artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2021. Translations are ©
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Niruttara Tantra

The wise person should draw the śaktī mantra on the forehead, surrounded by three circles. In the centre, he should write the kāmābīja (Klīṃ), adorned with (other) kāmābījas – Niruttaratantra XII, 2

This is a relatively brief work of 15 chapters, belonging to the Kālī class of tantras and written in readable and simple Sanskrit. The kind of Sanskrit even a मलेच्छ (mleccha=barbarian) like me can understand. The word Niruttara means “having no better” – so the best.

Chapter one deals with the three bhavas or temperaments of a tāntrik and describes how the different āmnāyas, a term which here refers to the five directions (north, south, west and east, including upper) relate to the classifications into divya (divine), vīra (heroic) and paśu (herd like). Verse 16 gives some definitions: “A divya is one in whom devatā predominates, while a vīra is strong-minded (uddhata). The acts of a paśu relate to the Eastern Āmnāya it is said.” Uddhata, which is translated here as strong- minded, is actually a technical term of the tāntriks – it means a person in whom the rajas or active guṇa predominates. A hot head, of either sex.

The best ‘directions’, according to this work, appear to be the Northern and the Upper, both of which have the characteristics of vīra and divya bhavas (See Kulārṇava Tantra). Vaidika worship is for the day while Kula acts are performed at night. A vīra should not worship – with wine and the rest – during the day while a paśu should not worship at night time.

The cremation ground is said to have two meanings. One is the place ‘where corpses sleep’, while the other is in the form of the yoni. But the worship must be dual. Without Kulapūja, which in this context apparently also means pūja of the lingam of Śiva-MahākālaDakṣiṇā Kālīkā isn’t happy. You can only imagine what that might mean.

Chapter two begins a description of Dakṣiṇā Kālī, her mantra, her preparatory acts (puraścaraṇa) and the results given. Śrī Śiva says: “One should know that the vagina (bhaga) is Bhagavatī, she is Dakṣiṇā and the lady of the three gunas (Triguṇeśvarī). This vagina-form is all, that which moves and that which does not move.”

At the centre of the yoni, which also here means a downward pointing triangle, is the Ha-ardha kala which is the subtle form of the Devī. The yoni is Dakṣiṇā Kālī and she is the essence of Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva. When semen is in the yoni of the devī, she becomes Mahākālī, the form of light, and gives birth to the universe. Śiva and Śakti are of two kinds, with qualities and without qualities. Without qualities they are a mass of light, the supreme absolute (Parabrahma), eternal. In reverse intercourse (viparītarata), Kālī is both with qualities and without qualities. When she takes the form of the new moon, she is without qualities and is known as Aniruddha Sarasvatī. When associated with Viṣṇu, she takes the form of Mahālakṣmī, and is Māyā herself. In her form as Dakṣiṇā Kālī, she is the real form of all vidyās (goddesses) who give siddhi (success).

Because Śiva and Śakti are one, they must be worshipped together.

Kālī Devī

Śiva then outlines the chief mantras of Dakṣiṇā Kālīkā. He then describes the dhyāna (meditation form). A devotee should worship Kālī, using vīra bhava, as formidable, with rising, swelling breasts full of milk, the colour of a thundercloud, dusky, roaring terribly, and having four arms. She carries a newly severed head, and a sword in her upper left and lower left hands. In her right, she shows the mudrās dispelling fears and granting boons. Around her bloody throat is a necklace made of 50 skulls which are the letters of the alphabet.

Two streams of blood trickle from her mouth. Around her are terrifying jackals which roar in the four directions. Her girdle is made of hands of corpses and she laughs. She is naked, with dishevelled hair, and bears a crescent moon as her diadem. She is seated on the corpse form of Mahādeva, where she has intercourse with Mahākāla in the viparīta position. Her eyes roll with liquor, – she’s had too much to drink –  her smiling face is like a lotus and she is the very terrifying Mahāraudrī who gives all bliss.

The chapter then describes vīra sādhana at night in the cremation ground. A sādhaka should first worship mentally and then may do the outer form of pūja. He should also worship Mahākāla, whose dhyāna is given as follows: Of a smoky colour, with matted locks, three eyes, united with Śakti, naked, of terrifying form, his effulgence equal to a sapphire unguent. He is both with qualities and without qualities.

Then a sādhaka should worship the 15 Kālī Nityas in the five triangles and in the eight petals of the Kālīyantra should worship Brahmī, Narayanī, Kaumarī, Maheśvarī, Aparajitā, Camuṇḍā, Vārāhī and Narahasiṃhikā, from the east first. In the four doors of the yantra are Asitangā and the other seven Bhairavas who are Rurucaṇḍa, Krodha, Bhiṣana, Unmatta, Kapali and Saṃharaka. They are given worship in pairs, from the east in order.

In the 10 directions, a sādhaka should worship the dikpālas (lords of the directions). After this worship, the practitioner should meditate on her in her form as Kullukā, using a mantra with five syllables situated in the different parts of the body. Śiva says Kullukā is Tārā as Mahānīlasarasvatī. Following this, one should recite the mantra 108 times, worship Mahākāla again with Lalitā and recite the armour (kavaca) and the hymn (stava).

Chapter three speaks of the kavaca (armour) of Dakṣiṇā Kālī. It includes Kālī’s fifteen nityās, representing the tithis of the waning moon. This, unlike other Kālī kavacas translated in Magic of Kālī, is brief and starts: ‘Siddhakali, protect my head, Dakṣiṇā protect my forehead! Kālī protect my mouth always, Kapali, protect my eyes. Kulla shield my cheeks always and Kurukullika protect my mouth. Virodhini protect the adhara (?) and Viprachitta the lips.

‘Ugra, protect my ears always and Ugraprabha my nostrils. Dipta shield my throat and Nila be protective of my lower throat.

‘Ghana protect my chest and Matra always protect my diaphragm. Mudra always protect the navel and Mita shield my lingam always.’ The kavaca goes on to use the 22 letters of the Kālī mantra to protect other parts of the body. Śiva then gives a hymn to Kālī called the Kālīkā Stotra. This is essentially an extended meditation, similar to the above.

The main subject matter of chapter four concerns puraścaraṇa, the preparatory acts a sadhikā or sādhaka must perform before she or he becomes competent to recite the mantra. Śiva first gives a set of asanas or postures and then says there are 72,000 nadis in the body. The chief nadis for praṇa (bioenergy or vital breath) are 10 and of these the most important are the Ida, the Pingala and the Sushumna nadis. Within the last is the Chitrini nadi. The three nadis are the Moon, Sun and Fire devatās while Sushumna is of the nature of Sun and Moon conjoined.

Śiva then describes the 10 vayus, which are in sets of two. When a yogi unites that which is above and that which is below, he unites Sun and Moon, realises Om and is one with Hamsa. Hamsa, the tantra explains, relates to the breath. The letter Ha is exhalation and the letter Sa inhalation. A living being (jiva) recites this supreme mantra known as the Ajapa mantra (that which is not recited) 21,600 times day and night.

The ajapa mantra is called the gāyatrī of yogis and and gives liberation. This, says the tantra, is the secret preparatory act before a mantra can become siddha. There follows a meditation on Kālī where she is conceived of as light extending from the feet to the top of the head. A yogi or yogini should offer fruit, flower, scent, clothes, gems mentally to Kālī again and again. This, explains Śiva, is the preparatory act of the northern āmnāya of Kālī Kula.

Śiva then allocates different forms of the Devī to the different directions and describes the purascharanas. A paśu, established in the southern āmnāya should use the 22 syllable mantra and recite it two lakhs (100,000), half in the day and half at night. Every tenth time, the worshipper must give sacrifice.

Vira puraścaraṇa is different. The sādhaka and his śaktī should be naked in the cremation ground. The śaktī should have Kāmakalā written on her forehead and in the centre of that should be the Devī mantra. The mantra should be recited 100,000 times and every tenth recitation should consist of an oblation of alcohol into fire. If a sādhaka does not have a śaktī, he can worship her mentally.

Without doing preparatory acts, there is no entitlement to worship. Puja done without the preparatory acts makes black magic out of a person’s recitation and sacrifice. One is also to give gifts to the guru and to his śaktī and his relatives. Success in mantra cannot be achieved without supreme devotion.

Chapter five speaks of the Rajani (“the coloured or dark female”), which here seems to mean the śaktī of a sādhaka. She should be free of shame, free of the opposites (dvandva), devoted to Śiva, pure (satva-gata) and by her own will (svecchaya) takes the viparita posture in intercourse.

A sādhaka may also meditate on her mentally, as a mass of light in the brow. In this supreme form she sheds nectar. She should also be meditated upon as Gāyatrī in the form of exhalation and inhalation. This, says Śiva, is the Brahma Gāyatrī of yogis.

To obtain success, a yogi must reject greed, lust and envy. If a yogi does pūja prompted by these, he goes to the Raurava Hell and becomes miserable. He is to reject the idea of difference and then achieves liberation. No-one should worship Kālī if hungry or thirsty. ‘After eating and drinking, one should worship the auspicious Kālīkā.’

Unless one is a vīra or a divya, one should not worship Kālīkā. That brings sorrow ‘at every step’ and a person goes to Naraka Hell. One should not worship Kālīkā if lazy, as that will bring an individual to the level of a paśu (beast). The Kālīkā darśana is the latā darśana, that is the revealed doctrine into which sexual intercourse, likened to the twining of a vine, enters. It should be performed in an empty place, in a cremation ground, at a river bank, on a mountain. There, worship Śakti. Without a guru, one best not perform ritual intercourse, otherwise it  leads to hell, destruction and poverty.

In vīra sādhana of Kālīkā,  people use meat, wine, flesh, fish and maithuna (the five Ms). The text describes forms of the Devī who are worshipped in this fashion.

Chapter six speaks of the siddhi which ensues from worship of the Rajanī, the chief of which is liberation whilst living. Śiva says that this knowledge, which destroys Saṃsāra, should never be revealed. He then describes vīra sādhana. The union of female and male is the supreme essence and is the worship of Kālīkā. It gives siddhi and is hard to obtain even for gods.

In chapter seven, Śrī Devī asks about abhiṣeka. Śiva says there are two types, that which is done in the vaidika way and also knowledge (jñāna) abhiṣeka, which is hidden in all the tantras. He says a tāntrik should do Kula-abhiṣeka, which creates peace, all that is good, dispels ailments, gives wealth, destroys great sins and the like. It gives the fruit of all bathing places (tirtha).

It is to be obtained from the guru. Śiva says that the devatās are not satisfied unless there is bliss coming from the worship of Kālī and the five Ms. Without Kulācara, it is impossible to be successful in the Kālī mantra. Without this type of abhiṣeka, all pūja turns into black magic and an individual goes to Naraka Hell – or worse, if there is worse.

One must bow to the true guru, to deva and devī, do guru pūja and then perform the abhiṣeka at the root of a bilva tree, at the junction of three paths, in the ancestral ground, in a deserted place and in other favoured Kaula spots.

Chapter eight opens with Śiva talking of arghya and the establishment of a pot to do the puraścaraṇa. He gives the mantras associated with the worship. The chapter speaks of the Mahāpūja, or great worship, and goes on to list – at great length – the different devatās of the tradition connected with the abhiṣeka. This worship gives success to a sādhaka.

In chapter nine, Devī asks how a person becomes successful in the mantras. Śiva describes the initiation of a Kula Śakti. After drawing a Kāmakalā yantra, the sādhaka should whisper the root mantra in her left ear. The initiated śaktī sits on the left of the sādhaka, wearing red clothes, smeared with various scents and adorned with different jewels. The mantra should be drawn on her forehead. By worshipping this śaktī in the Kulakula rite, devīs from everywhere are attracted to the cakra. This rite produces nirvāṇa for gods and for men. Intercourse with an initiated śaktī brings success, provided the participants are initiated by the guru, otherwise the sādhaka is cast into the Naraka underworld. Read Dante’s unrequited love for Beatrice,  for a discussion on the underworlds.

Devī says she still is unsure about the different Śaktis and asks Śiva to explain further. Śiva says he will speak specifically about the Kula sādhana. A person should not do Kula sādhana without an initiated Vīra Śakti.

He speaks of five cakras where these shaktis may be worshipped, which are the Raja cakra, the Mahācakra, the Devacakra, the Vīracakra and the Paśucakra. Brahmacharis and Grihasthas (householders) can worship in these five cakras. He speaks of various substances used in the cakras including svayambhu, kuṇḍa, gola and udbhava flowers, which are Kaula tāntrik code-terms for menstrual blood and also gives days of the waxing and waning Moon which bring success in the particular rites.

The goddess asks who are the five mothers worshipped in the rite. Śiva explains they must be initiated women. Without worship of svayambhu, gola, kuṇḍa and udbhava flowers, the rites are useless and bring harm to sādhakas.

The tenth chapter is a discussion about the different cakras in the Kaula tradition, here meaning assembies of the Kaula folk. Śiva says that Vīra or heroic sādhana may only be accomplished with an initiated Śakti. Chakras are of five types: Raja, the Mahachakra, the Devachakra, the Virachakra and the Pashuchakra. Both Brahmacharis and Grihastha (householders) can worship in all five.

Śiva gives details of the ritual accessories (upacāras) employed in these as well as the best times for creating them. The best times are the eighth and fourteenth days of the waning Moon on a Tuesday or on the fourth and seventh days of the waxing Moon on a Thursday. 64,000 forms of the Devī dwell in the different cakras. The Vira Chakra should take place on an eighth or fourteenth day of the dark fortnight in the ancestral grounds, that is the cremation ground. Śiva completes this chapter by describing the five maidens (Kanyas) and their worship.

Devī asks Śiva about sādhana of the yoni in chapter eleven. First, Śiva describes the characteristics of the sādhaka, then moves on to the sadhikā. The male should be free from duality, ego- less, generous, fearless, pure, devoted to his gurudeva, peaceful and devoid of shame and greed. He should wear red clothes and red gems.

The sadhikā (female worshipper) should have similar qualities and when having intercourse should, by her own will (svecchaya) assume the inverse sexual position (viparīta). She should be initiated in the tradition. The mantra should be recited 108 times and the Devī worshipped internally. The Kulacakra should be drawn using vajra flowers and the preparatory act completed by reciting the mantra 108 times. The mantra Hrīṃ should be drawn on the forehead of the Śakti. Śiva says that without pūja of Kāmākhyā, it is impossible to be successful in the mantra. More details are given in chapter twelve.

In chapter thirteen, the Devī asks Śiva about the Vidyās (female mantras) giving siddhi (success). Śiva relates the different goddesses to the types of Śakti. Tārā is the Caṇḍalī, Śrī Vidyā the Brahmanī, Cchinnamastā the Kapālī. This chapter also gives results from worshipping Devī for a given period of time. Doing Kaula pūja according to the Mahācinācara rule and worshipping Kāmākhyā in a cremation ground gives sovereignty.

The quite long chapter fourteen opens with Devī asking Śiva about the Veśyās. This word literally means whore but is applied in this tantra to initiated Śaktis and to Devis. Śiva enumerates seven, the Guptā Veśyā, the Mahāveśyā, the Kulaveśyā, the Mahodayā, the Rajaveśyā, the Devaveśyā and the Brahmaveśyā.

The Guptaveśya is without shame, with her eyes rolling with lust. The Mahodayā, by her own will, takes the viparīta position. The Kulaveśyā is the spouse of the Kula. The Mahaveshya is a digambari by her own will, that is, she goes naked. Then follows a eulogy of the viparīta position. If mantra is recited when in intercourse with the Śakti, she is Kālī and gives mantra-siddhi and nirvāṇa. When semen is emitted during the rite, a sādhaka becomes like Mahākāla while the sadhikā becomes like Dakṣiṇā Kālīkā. Only through the Kaula rite does a human being become enlightened.

The fifteenth chapter deals with the pañcamakāra, known as the five M’s, and used in vāmācāra rites. These are madya (wine), māṃsa (flesh), mīna (fish), mudrā (bean) and maithuna (sexual intercourse). The sādhaka, at night, sits with his Śakti to his left, doing the various types of nyāsa first. The chapter gives the rules of pūja and towards the end enumerates the ten Mahāvidyās and the other Siddha Vidyas. These are given as Kālī, Tārā, Cchinnā, Mātaṅgī, Bhuvaneśvarī, Annapurnā, Nityā, Durgā, Mahiṣamardinī, Tvaritā, Tripurāpuṭa, Bhairavī, Bagalā, Dhūmāvatī, Kamala, Sarasvatī, Jayadurgā, and Tripurasundarī. For these 18 Mahāvidyās, there is no need for purification, nor of considering day, tithi, Nakṣatra, yoga or karaṇa. So ends the Niruttara Tantra.

Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2021. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2021.Questions or comments to

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