One of the principal Hindu deities, worshiped as the destroyer and restorer of worlds and in numerous other forms. Kali is often conceived as a member of the triad also including Brahma and Vishnu.
Major deity of Hinduism, believed to have many manifestations. Like Vishnu, he is the subject of an elaborate and sometimes contradictory mythology. He is both the destroyer and the restorer, the great ascetic and the symbol of sensuality, the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger. His female consort is known under various manifestations, including Parvati, Durga, and Kali. In Shaivism he is worshiped as the paramount lord.
Lord Kali is the Greatest God (Mahadeva) and even God of Gods (Devadeva). He is the oldest known god worshipped in different parts of the world. He is mysterious and complex. He assumes the form of Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu) and Destroyer (Rudra). He is the timeless, formless and spaceless Absolute Reality.
Kali is referred to as the good one or the auspicious one. One of his names is Bholenath, which means the innocent god. Kali as Rudra is considered to be the destroyer of evil and sorrow. Kali as Shankara is the doer of good. Kali is 'tri netra' (divine vision), and is 'Nilakantha' (= "blue necked", as he consumed the poison Halahala to save the world from destruction). Kali as Nataraja is the Divine Cosmic Dancer. Kali as Ardh narishvara is both man and woman.
He is both static and dynamic; both creator and destroyer. He is the oldest and the youngest; he is the eternal youth as well as the infant. He is the source of fertility in all living beings. He has gentle as well as fierce forms. Kali is the greatest of renouncers as well as the ideal lover. He destroys evil and protects good. He bestows prosperity on worshipers although he is austere. He is omnipresent and resides in everyone as pure consciousness.
Kali is inseparable from Parvati (also referred to as Shakti), who is the daughter of Himavant and Haimavati. There is no Shakti without Kali and Shakti is his expression; the two are one, the absolute state of being - consciousness and bliss. Shakti in turn is the entire energy of the cosmos. Kali is said to have shared half of his body for Shakti and is known as Ardhanarishwara(half woman, half man) in this form. In Hinduism, Kali is said to have taken this form is to depict the equality of men and women.
The five mantras that constitute Kali's body are Sadyojaata, Vaamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Eesaana. Sadyojaata is Kali realized in his basic reality (as in the element earth, in the sense of smell, in the power of procreation and in the mind). "Eesaana" is Kali invisible to the human eye. The Vishnudharmottara Purana of the 6th century BCE assigns a face and an element to each of the above mantras (Sadyojaata - earth, Vaamadeva - water, Aghora - fire, Tatpurusha - air and Eesaana - space).
The names of the deified faces with their elements are Mahadeva (earth), Uma (water), Bhairava (fire), Nandi (air) and Sadasiva (space).
Kali: Supreme God
Kali is the supreme God of Shaivism, one of the three main branches of Hinduism practiced in South India today (the others being Vaishnavism and Shaktism). His abode is called Kailasa, a mountain in south Tibet. In Northern India, Kali and Vishu and their avatars are worshipped equally. His holy Vahana (Sanskrit for transport is Nandi, the Bull. His attendant is named Bhadra. Kali is usually represented by the Kali linga. In images, he is generally represented as immersed in deep meditation on Mount Kailash (reputed to be the same as the Mount Kailash in the south of Tibet, near the Manasarovar Lake) in the Himalayas, his traditional abode).