In Hindu Dharma, particularly Shaktism, Shakti is believed to be the primordial cosmic energy and stands for the vibrant forces that are believed to shift through the universe. This energy is considered to be inventive, nourishing and also damaging. It is occasionally discussed as a favorable source of energy.
Shakti is occasionally characterized as the Creatrix and is referred to as ‘Adi Shakti’ or ‘Adi Parashakti’. In Shaktism, Adi Parashakti is venerated as the Supreme Being. On every plane of creation, energy reveals itself into all forms of matter. It is believed that there are limitless forms of Adi Parashakti. One of the fierce forms of the Great Goddess Shakti or Adi Parashakti is Goddess Bhadrakali.
Who is Goddess Bhadrakali?
Bhadrakali Devi is also renowned as the Goddess of War. She is believed to be one of the most ferocious forms of Goddess Shakti or Adi Parashakti. Goddess Bhadrakali is considered to be a symbol of fortitude and fierceness.
Bhadrakali is a terrifying manifestation of Goddess Kali that defends the noble from evil, brings good fortune and success in the lives of the worshippers. Bhadrakali materialized from the third eye of Lord Shiva to slay Darika Asura.
Goddess Bhadrakali is revered in Kerala grandly as Sri Bhadrakali and Kariam Kali Murti Devi. She is observed as a deity who can alter the devotee’s fate and is therefore venerated by most people in this state of India. Those who grasp the significance of being brave to realize their dreams and have faith in this Shakti Roop of Goddess Parvati pray to her, irrespective of their location.
There are numerous temples devoted to Goddess Bhadrakali in numerous parts of India. She is worshipped by different names in various regions – Durga, Devi, Mahadevi, Mahamaya. In Kerala, she is referred to as Bhadrakali, Mahakali, Chamunda and Kariam Kali Murti. In God’s Own Country (Kerala), she is observed as the auspicious and fortunate manifestation of Mahakali who shields the noble.
Goddess Bhadrakali is chiefly venerated in four forms: Darukajit (as the slayer of the Asura Darika), Dakshajit (as the executioner of Daksha), as the killer of the Ruru demon, and as Mahajit (as the one who killed Mahishasura).
Origin of the Name
The term ‘Bhadra’ refers to ‘decent’ in Sanskrit. A religious interpretation of this name is that Bhadra is split into ‘Bha’ and ‘dra’. The letter ‘Bha’ implies ‘delusion’ or ‘Maya’ and ‘dra’ is utilized as a superlative that suggests ‘the greatest’. The translation of Bhadra comes to ‘Maha Maya’. Therefore, the Sanskrit name ‘Bhadrakali’ means ‘Mahamaya Kaali’.
Maya stands for illusion. Venerating Bhadrakali is said to be getting free of the ‘Maha Maya.’ This can be observed with the decapitated head she carries in her hand and the sickle that denotes that Goddess Bhadrakali offers liberation. It can be viewed as freeing ourselves from our ego, hence the severed head.
Origin of Goddess Bhadrakali in Hindu Scriptures
There are at least three versions of the origin of Goddess Bhadrakali. The first tale is from Devi Mahatmayam and a part of Shaktism, and it was during the war between Raktabija and Shakti. The second version is related to Daksha and Dakshayaga from Shaivism and it is even observed in a couple of Puranas. The third and the most popular version is her divine birth as the daughter of Lord Shiva to free the universe from Darika Asura.
As per the Vayu Purana and the Mahabharata, Goddess Bhadrakali came into existence due to Devi’s rage and fury. This happened when Daksha belittled Lord Shiva during the great Ashvamedha Yagna (horse sacrifice). As per the Tantra Rahasya, she materialized from the North (Uttarayana) face (Amnaya) of Shiva, who was blue and had three eyes.
Iconography of Goddess Bhadrakali
Goddess Bhadrakali is depicted with three eyes and with four or sixteen or eighteen hands. She is showcased wielding numerous weapons with flames flowing from her head as well as a small tusk jutting from her mouth.
Her fierceness is depicted in the way she holds the severed head of the Asura in one hand and several weapons in others. Her tongue is bright red with blood and has an ornamental crown on her head. She wears a garland created out of skulls. In certain depictions, she is shown standing on Lord Shiva while he lies composed beneath her.
In certain portrayals, the 18-armed Goddess has showcased blessing with her two front hands while the rest of the 16 hands are carrying an array of weapons. She was adorned in gorgeous clothes and attractive pieces of jewelry.
Overall, the iconography for Goddess Bhadrakali has depicted her powerful, ferocious form as well as her compassionate and benevolent side.
Legends Associated with Goddess Bhadrakali
As per one of the tales, once the Asuras were beaten by the Devas, they had to go back to the netherworld. Two Asura women went into deep penance and appeased Lord Brahma who granted them a boon that they would be the mother of two powerful sons. In some time, the two women gave birth to two boys named Danavendra and Darika.
Danavendra and Darika performed intense meditation and invoked Lord Brahma. They acquired the boon from Brahma that no men, gods or demons would be able to slay them. They were also granted the boon that would possess the strength of a thousand elephants. With such indomitable powers, Danavendra and Darika attacked the Devas and dragged them out of heaven.
Devas requested Sage Narada to aid them. Narada visited Kailash and asked Lord Shiva to interfere on the matter and eliminate Adharma that was imposed by the demons. Lord Shiva then opened his third eye and Goddess Bhadrakali arose from it. This form of Mother Goddess Shakti was inconceivable. Devas or humans or Asuras had never witnessed such a fierce and terrifying Goddess.
The gigantic body of Goddess Bhadrakali was jet black. She possessed three burning eyes and her mouth resembled a massive cave. Two long saber-like teeth are observed protruding from her mouth. Her long black hair is shown tumbling down her back like an unrestrained river. She came with numerous arms with each of them wielding a different weapon.
She furiously charged into the war against Danavendra and Darika. When Darika saw Bhadrakali and her army who were mostly women, he dismissed and mockingly laughed at her. He failed to remember that his boon of invincibility did not include being murdered by a woman. The demon army could not hold up to the fiery Goddess Bhadrakali. They were all crushed to death. Then Danavendra was killed. Finally, Bhadrakali severed the head of Darika as well.
Goddess Bhadrakali started the return journey to her home after slaying the two dangerous Asuras and their army. She was brimming with excitement and rage. She was seen carrying the chopped head of Darika in her left hand. When she reached Kailash, her father Lord Shiva tried to calm her fury by dancing naked in front of her and venerating her. She was pleased and composed herself. Therefore, she started to get offerings from worshippers as a boon from Lord Shiva.
There is another legend that discusses Maha Maya Bhadrakali. Goddess Bhadrakali is believed to be a form of Goddess Parvati who is the dutiful wife of Lord Shiva in his Rudra avatar. It is also cited in the Puranas that Bhadrakali is the manifestation of Goddess Parvati that was assumed to pacify Lord Shiva when he takes the form of ViraBhadra.
As per the Vayu Puranas and tales from Mahabharata, when Daksha belittled Lord Shiva during the Ashvamedha Yagna, his wife Sati was not able to bear the humiliation. In a fit of rage, she hurled herself into the fire and sacrificed herself. When Lord Shiva became aware of the tragedy, he assumed the form of VirBhadra. To complement his power, Goddess Parvati manifested into Maha Maya Bhadrakali.
Characteristic Attributes of Goddess Bhadrakali
Goddess Bhadrakali is believed to be terrifying and brutal to those who practice Adharma. She is uncompromising and cold-blooded towards them. On the other hand, she is a compassionate mother to those who practice Dharma and are noble. She is like the guardian angel to good people and will never let any harm befall her devotees who are like her children.
Significance of Goddess Bhadrakali
As per the Tantra Rahasya, the feminine form of the Devi emerged from the north face of Lord Shiva. She is blue and possesses three eyes. A couple of tantric-influenced traditions believe Goddess Bhadrakali to be the consort of Lord Shiva in his form of Mahakal or Bhairava.
A tantric interpretation observes Lord Shiva as consciousness and Kali as energy or power. Consciousness and energy are believed to be reliant on each other. Lord Shiva relies on Shakti or energy, to accomplish his responsibility when it comes to creating, maintaining and abolishing.
Goddess Bhadrakali’s worship is also connected to the Tantric tradition of the Matrikas and the belief of the ten Mahavidyas. It seems to be under the expanded umbrella of Shaktism. In a nutshell, Goddess Bhadrakali has always been observed as the most powerful Hindu Goddess.
Interesting Facts about Goddess Bhadrakali
- Maha Maya Bhadrakali is believed to be the most renowned form of Devi venerated before war by Rajputs and also for black magic.
- In Tamil Nadu, this form of Shakti is referred to as ‘Mahayala Bhagavathy’ or ‘Mahalaya Bhadrakali’, who shields her worshippers regardless of caste or religion.
- It is said that Goddess Bhadrakali guards those who practice Kalarippayattu, a traditional martial arts form, hailing from the state of Kerala.
- As per one of the legends, the renowned Indian Sanskrit poet Kalidasa became what he was owing to the divine power of Goddess Bhadrakali.
- It is believed that emperor Vikramaditya and his brother Bhatti were also avid worshippers of Goddess Bhadrakali. Her blessings led to the prosperity showered upon them.
Festivals Devoted to Celebrate Goddess Bhadrakali
Goddess Bhadrakali is a ferocious avatar of Goddess Parvati and is one of the forms of Adi Parashakti. As per Hinduism, Bhadrakali Jayanti is observed to honor the birth of the deity. The day is also commemorated as ‘Apara Ekadashi’ in specific states of India. If Bhadrakali Jayanti falls during the time of ‘Kumbh Mela’ it is deemed to carry a lot more weight. Puja Vidhi
According to Hindu Calendar, Bhadrakali Jayanti is celebrated on the Ekadashi (11th day) of the Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight of moon) in the month of ‘Jyestha’. The auspicious day usually falls in the months of either May or June as per the Gregorian calendar.
In the upcoming year, Bhadrakali Jayanti will be commemorated on 26th May 2022.
The worshippers celebrate the festival with grand pomp and fervor. They offer prayers with utmost sincerity and devotion. They are clad in either black or blue clothes on this auspicious day as these colors are deemed to be favorable. The devotees present ‘Panchamrita Abhishek’ to the idol of Goddess Bhadrakali using milk, sugar, honey, water and ghee. Later, they adorn the idol using items of ‘solah shringar’. They present coconut water to the idol. Afterward, worshippers conduct Chandan Puja and Bilva Puja. In the afternoon, devotees pray to the Goddess and recite special mantras to seek blessings and please the Devi. Then, the worshippers pay a visit to Goddess Bhadrakali temples and shrines as well as to conduct relevant rituals and ceremonies in the evening for the festival.
Benefits of Worshipping Goddess Bhadrakali
- Helps in overcoming hurdles in your life.
- All the horoscope issues including ‘Graha Dosha’ can be fully fixed.
- Offering prayers on Bhadrakali Jayanti can help realize eleven desires as this auspicious day falls on Krishna Paksha Ekadashi.
- Protects devotees from malefic and negative energies.
- Blesses worshippers with good health, success and fortune.
- Gets relief from financial issues, health problems or domestic sufferings.
- Shields devotees from evil eyes and black magic.
- Helps to treat and cure fatal and terminal diseases.
- It can help liberate the person and also steer them in the direction of attaining wisdom.