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How Goddess Kali Strikes At The Conventional Sense Of Feminine Beauty?

The conventional sense of feminine beauty that is propagated by society is completely stricken out by the image of Goddess Kali in Hinduism. Excerpts from the editorial of January 2016 edition of Prabuddha Bharata magazine.

What is the general form of Kali? Kali is a goddess whose complexion is completely black. There are songs which say that she is blacker than the color black itself. She is pitch-black. In Sanskrit the word for divinity, deva or devi comes from the root div, which means light. And that is the reason why most of the gods and goddesses are very beautiful. But here is one goddess, who is very black. However good granite or marble you may use to make the image of Kali, it has to be black.

The form of women or the form of a deity, particularly a female deity, is conventionally supposed to have what is called the feminine grace. If you take the forms of Lakshmi or Saraswati, their forms are very graceful, full of femininity and feminine grace. And one thing which is a very important aspect of feminine grace is the dress. That is why we see that in the past, queens gave and even today, social queens give much importance to their dress. However, Kali does not wear anything. She is absolutely in the nude. She is stark naked. First, she strikes at the conventional sense of beauty by being pitch-black and second, she strikes at the conventional idea of feminine grace or femininity by being completely nude.

According to the conventional norms of womanly grace, it is expected that a woman talks softly. Society associates a woman with a soft sound, a soft gesture, and a gracious gait. But in Kali is a woman who has her tongue put out of her mouth. When do you do that kind of thing? When you want to insult somebody or when you are in a frivolous mood, and you are trying to make fun of someone. Both of these actions are not considered good in society. There are numerous interpretations of why Kali puts out her tongue, but the image of a feminine divine form, which is nude and black, and with the tongue put out, is quite shocking.

But the shock does not stop here. She wears a garland of heads. Another thing which is commonly associated with women is ornaments. This is the conventional idea of a feminine form and that is why we find goddesses Lakshmi or Saraswati decked with ornaments like nose rings and earrings. Every female form is associated with some ornaments. And here we have the form of Kali who is wearing a garland of heads as an ornament; not just a garland of heads, but also a garland of fingers. Whatever she is wearing as an ornament cannot be considered one even by the wildest stretch of the imagination. This is a stark contrast to our sense of decorum and aesthetics. Most people, who are grounded in traditional ideas of feminine beauty and grace are greatly shocked when they first see the form of Kali.

To top it all, the icing on the cake is that she is standing on the chest of Shiva. Here you have a feminine form which is standing on a masculine form. It is the greatest shock possible to all conventional ideas of beauty and femininity. All these aspects of Kali have a great ramification and significance.