The Kālī bīja mantra Krīṃ

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Original artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2022. 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 a simple Sanskrit. The word Niruttara means “having no better”. The edition we consulted for this abstract is unnumbered. Chapter one deals with the three bhāvas 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, as well as upper) relate to the classifications into divya (divine), vīra (heroic) and paśu (herdlike).

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 Amnaya it is said.” Uddhata, which is translated here as strong-minded, is actually a technical term of the tāntriks —it means a person has a nature where the rajas or active guṇa predominates. The dictionary definition is “raised”, or perhaps struck like a stringed instrument, or perhaps “elevated”.

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 bhāvas. Vaidika worship is for the day while kula acts are performed at night.

A vīra should not worship during the day, while a paśu should not worship at night-time. The cremation ground is declared 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.

Chapter two begins a description of Dakśiṇā Kālī, her mantra, her preparatory acts (puraścaraṇa) and the results it gives. Śrī Śiva says: “One should know that the vagina (bhaga) is Bhagavatī, she is Dakśiṇā and the lady of the three guṇas (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 Hakārdha kalā which is the subtle form of the Devī. The yoni is Dakśiṇā 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 115 mass of light, the supreme absolute, eternal.

In reverse intercourse, 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 Aniruddhā Sarasvatī. When associated with Viṣṇu, she takes the form of Mahālakṣmī, and is Māyā herself. In her form as Dakśiṇā 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. Śiva then outlines the chief mantras of Dakśiṇā Kālīkā and starts to describe her dhyāna (meditation form). A devotee should worship Kālī, using vīra bhāva, 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 reverse position. Her eyes roll with liquor, her smiling face is like a lotus and she is the very terrifying Mahāraudrī who gives all bliss. The chapter then describes vīra sādhanā at night in the cremation ground. A sādhaka should first worship mentally and then may do the outer form of pūjā.

He should also worship Mahākāla. He is 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 Nityās in the five triangles and in the eight petals of the Kālīyantra should worship Brāhmī, Nārāyaṇī, Kaumārī, Māheśvarī, Aparājitā, Cāmuṇdā, Vārāhī and Nārahasiṃhikā, from the east first. In the four doors of the yantra are Asitāṇga and the other Bhairavas who are Ruru, Caṇḍa, Krodha, Bhīṣaṇa, Unmatta, Kapāli and Saṃhāraka. They are to be worshipped 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, meditated on as being 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 Dakśiṇā Kālī. This is brief and starts: “Siddhakālī, protect my head, Dakśiṇā protect my forehead! Kālī protect my mouth always, Kapālī, protect my eyes. Kullā shield my cheeks always and Kurukullikā protect my mouth. Virodhinī protect the adhara (?) and Vipracittikā the lips. Ugrā, protect my ears always and Ugraprabhā my nostrils. Dīptā shield my throat and Nīlā be protective of my lower throat. Ghanā protect my chest and Mātrā always protect my diaphragm. Mudrā always protect the navel and Mitā shield my liṇgam always.” The kavaca goes on to use the 22 letters of the Kālī mantra to protect other parts of the body.

The kavaca, says the text, protects a person from the bhūtas, the pretas, the piśācas, kūṣmāṇḍas, rākṣasas and planets. 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 to be performed before a sādhaka becomes competent to recite a mantra.

Śiva first gives a set of āsanas or postures and then says there are 72,000 nāḍīs in the body. The chief nāḍīs for prāṇā (bioenergy or vital breath) are 10 and of these the most important are the iḍā, the piṇgalā and the suṣumnā nāḍīs. Within the last is the citriṇī nāḍī. The three nāḍīs are the moon, sun and fire devatās while suṣumnā is of the nature of sun and moon conjoined. Śiva then describes the 10 vāyus, 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 oṃ and is one with haṃsa. Haṃsa, the tantra explains, relates to the breath. The letter Ha is exhalation and the letter Sa inhalation. A living being (jīva) recites this supreme mantra known as the ajapā mantra (that which is not recited) 21,600 times day and night.

The ajapā 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 yoginī 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 puraścaraṇas. A paśu, established in the southern āmnāya, should use the 22 syllable mantra and recite it two lakhs (200,000), half in the day and half at night.

Every tenth time, the worshipper must give sacrifice. Vīra puraścaraṇa is different. The sādhaka and his śakti should be naked in the cremation ground. The śakti should have Kāmakāla 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 śakti, he can worship her mentally. Without doing preparatory acts, there is no entitlement to worship. Pūjā 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 śakti and his relatives. Success in mantra cannot be achieved without great devotion. Chapter five speaks of the Rajanī (“the coloured or dark female”), who here seems to mean the śakti of a sādhaka.

She should be free of shame, free of the opposites (dvandva), devoted to Śiva, pure (satvagatā) and by her own will (svecchaya) takes the viparīta 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 pūjā 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, one should worship Śakti. Without a guru, one should not perform ritual intercourse, which leads to hell, destruction and poverty. In vīra sādhanā of Kālīkā one should 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 siddhis 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 sādhanā.

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 the 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 (tīrtha). 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 pūjā turns into black magic and an individual goes to Naraka Hell or worse. One must bow to the true guru, to deva and Devī, do guru pūjā 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 mahāpūjā, 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. At the end of the chapter, the Śrīguru speaks, saying that kulācāra should be carefully hidden.

A śakti should be worshipped by body and by mind. In chapter nine, Devī asks how a person becomes successful in the mantras. Śiva describes the initiation of a Kula Śakti. After drawing a Kāmakāla yantra, the sādhaka should whisper the root mantra in her left ear. The initiated śakti sits on the left of the sādhaka, in a cremation ground, wearing red clothes, smeared with various scents and adorned with different jewels. The mantra should be drawn on her forehead.

By worshipping this śakti in the Kula rite, devīs from everywhere are attracted to the cakra. This rite produces nirvāṇa for gods and for men. Intercourse with an initiated śakti brings success, provided the participants are initiated by the guru, otherwise the sādhaka is cast into the Naraka underworld.

In chapter 10, the 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 sādhanā. A person should not do Kula sādhanā without an initiated vīra Śakti. He speaks of five cakras where these śaktis may be worshipped, which are the Rājacakra, the Mahācakra, the Devacakra, the Vīracakra  and the Paśucakra. Brahmacāris and Gṛhasthas (householders) can worship in these five cakras.

He speaks of various substances used in the cakras including svayaṃbhū, 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 maidens worshipped in the rite.

Śiva explains they must be initiated women. Without worship of svayaṃbhū, gola, kuṇḍa and udbhava flowers, the rites are useless and bring harm to sādhakas. A sādhaka is to worship his own śakti again and again and should drink the left overs (ucchiṣṭa). Śiva gives details of the ritual accessories (upacāras) employed in these rites 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 Vīracakra should take place on an eighth or fourteenth day of the dark fortnight in the ancestral grounds, that is the cremation ground.

Devī asks Śiva about sādhanā of the yoni in chapter 11. First, Śiva describes the characteristics of the sādhaka, then moves on to the sādhikā. 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 sādhikā (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 pūjā of Kāmākhyā, it is impossible to be successful in the mantra. More details of the sādhanā are given in chapter twelve. Kulapūjā performed in front of a paśu causes the participants to go to hell. At the end of chapter 12, Śiva describes a paśu.

There are two types, an initiated paśu and an unitiated paśu, who is described as a mahāpaśu. The kula path is to be obtained from an initiated guru. In chapter 13, the Devī asks Śiva about the vidyās (female mantras) giving siddhi (success). Śiva relates the different goddesses to the types of Śakti. Śyāmā vidyā is related to the nāpitāṇgā (hairdresser); Tārā to the Cāṇḍālī; Śrī Vidyā to the Brāhmāṇī; Cchinnamastā the Kāpālī.

This chapter also gives results from worshipping Devī for a given period of time. The eighth and 14th days of the waning moon are the best times ( to perform this sādhanā. Doing kaula pūjā according to the Mahācīna rule and worshipping Kāmākhyā and the Rajanī while seated on a corpse in a cremation ground gives sovereignty.

The quite lengthy chapter 14 opens with Devī asking Śiva about the veśyās. This word, literally, means whore but is applied in this tantra to initiated Śaktis and to Devīs. Śiva enumerates seven, the Guptaveśyā, the Mahāveśyā, the Kulaveśyā, the Mahodayā, the Rājaveśyā, the Devaveśyā and the Brahmaveśyā. The Guptaveśyā 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 kaula.

The Mahāveśyā is a digambarī by her own will, that is, she goes naked. Then follows a eulogy of the viparīta position. When a veśyā, of her own will, assumes this position, she becomes Kālī. If mantra is recited when in intercourse with the Śakti, she is Kālī and gives mantra-siddhi and nirvāṇa. The cremation ground (śmaśāna) is where Sadāśiva dwells. The eighth and 14th days in either the waxing or waning fortnights are the ideal times to perform sādhanā.

The yoni is mother and Kālikā, while the liṇgam is father and Mahākāla. When semen is emitted during the rite, a sādhaka becomes like Mahākāla while the sādhikā becomes like Dakśiṇā Kālīkā. Only through the Kaula rite does a human being become enlightened. The different types of veśyā are related to different cities and places while a series of Devīs are described as being kula devatā including Kālī, Tārā, Sarasvatī, Bhairavī, Rādhā, Chinnamastakā, Sundarī, Mahiṣamardinī, Bhuvanā, Bālā, Bagalāmukhī, Dhūmāvatī, Mātaṇgī, Annapūrṇā, Tripuṭā, and Tvaritā.

A eulogy of kulapūjā says that without it, it is not possible to become liberated, or siddha in the worship of numerous forms of Devī. The Śakti mantra gives accomplishment, and no other. A long list of women suitable to be a śakti is given which extends the usual list of eight found in other tantras.

The list includes yoginīs, a “cooker of dogs”, a queen, a cowgirl, a flower girl, a washer girl, and others. Chapter 15 deals with the five substances, known as the five “ms”, and used in kaula rites. These are madya (wine), māṃsa (flesh), mīna (fish), mudrā (bean) and maithuna (sexual intercourse)7 . They should be purified. The sādhaka, at night, sits with his Śakti to his left, doing the various types of nyāsa first. The chapter goes on to describe the rules of pūjā and gives various mantras to purify the different substances used. Towards the end, Śiva enumerates the ten Mahāvidyās and the other Siddhavidyās. These are given as Kālī, Tārā, Cchinnā, Mātaṇgī, Bhuvaneśvarī, Annapūrṇā, Nityā, Durgā, Mahiṣamardinī, Tvaritā,  Tripurāpuṭā, Bhairavī, Bagalā, Dhūmāvatī, Kamalā, Sarasvatī, Jayadurgā, and Tripurasundarī.

For these 18 mahāvidyās, there is no need for purification, nor of considering day, tithi, nakṣatra, yoga or anything else.

Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2022. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2022.Questions or comments to

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