Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kali - transcendent vs mythic


Another example of the Transcendent vs Mythic nature of deity popped into my head that makes a good story.

When I was living in Pharping I used to go to Dakshin Kali on Saturdays for the sacrifices. For those that don't know Dakshin Kali is a huge open air temple complex in the foothills of Kathmandu. Dozens, sometimes hundreds, of devotees line up in queues with animals that they bring to the temple. The head is removed usually with one blow and the idols are sprayed with the blood. The animal is than given back to the family and cooked. The blood on the floor of the place can get almost ankle deep.

I asked two separate Yogis there on two separate occasions about the need for the blood sacrifice.

The first yogi I asked explained Kali in transcendent terms. The physical blood is a reminder of impermanence and the destructive power in the universe. The sacrifice of the animal cultivates generosity and insured a higher rebirth for the animal.

The second yogi that I asked the following week had a much more down to earth answer: During the war between the Devas and Asuras the Gods sent Durga in to do battle. She would with her many arms be able to slay almost all the enemy. The problem was the more enemies sprang from the blood of the slain, doubling thier number. So Durga had to manifest as Kali who would not only slay the enemies but drink their blood.

Why the weekly blood sacrifices?

"She gets hungry"

2 comments:

Optimystic said...

Have you seen/read the graphic novel of "the book of Shiva" (in the India Authentic series)? There's stunningly beautiful scenes, art, and stories of these very themes.

Persephone said...

"She gets hungry."

I love this story. It so clearly illustrates the point you were making in the last post.

It also reminds me of how every few weeks I need to eat a cheeseburger. I get hungry, and require blood sacrifice.

P