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IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS)
Volume 22, Issue 10, Ver. VII (October. 2017) PP 78-83
e-ISSN: 2279-0837, p-ISSN: 2279-0845.
www.iosrjournals.org
The Portrait of the Goddess in the Kalika Purana
Rashmi Rekha Bhuyan
[email protected], [email protected]
Dept. of History Dibrugarh University Dibrugarh, India-786004
Abstract: The Kalika Purana is a Hindu religious text belongs to the genre Puranic literature. Written around
the 10th-11th century AD in Sanskrit the text celebrates the power of the divine feminine in her various
manifestations centering round the goddess Kamakhya or Kalika. To this day it is used in the worship of the
goddess and is greatly revered by her devotees. In the text the goddess is portrayed as the supreme deity who
can manifest in various forms in accordance with the need of the time. Sometimes she is associated with the
male gods as consort; at some other episodes she is independent and superior to male gods. This paper attempts
to discuss the different forms of the goddess discernible in the Kalika Purana.
Keywords: Kalika, Kamakhya, Goddess, Saktism, Upa Purana
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------Date of Submission: 05-09-2017
Date of acceptance: 18-10-2017
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------
I. INTRODUCTION
The Puranas, a set of religious texts, do share certain characteristics which mark them as a distinct
genre of literature in Hinduism. Though traditionally acclaimed as eighteen in number, the real number of texts
having the suffix Purana are more than this. Considering eighteen Puranas as „Great Purana‟ (though there are
some discrepancy in lists), the other Puranas are given the title of „Upa Purana‟. Like the epics, the Puranas also
belong to group of Smriti (derive from one body of oral tradition) and they claim a connection with the Vedas.
However in many aspects the „Puranic religion made a departure from the Vedic religion‟. Unlike the Vedas, the
Puranas are sectarian by nature. They tend to be dedicated to one god or another-usually Vishnu and Siva. This
signifies the coming of new form of Hinduism, which is called „Puranic Hinduism‟, because more than the
Vedas and allied texts, the Puranas represent the essential structure of Hinduism as it is practiced today. It
represents an evolutionary stage of the history of Hinduism because of its taking the focus of religious practice
away from sacrificial ritual as well from exclusive Bhakti. [Chatttopadhyaya: 2005].
The position of the female divinity in the Puranas also differs from their counterparts in the Vedic
literature. It has been interpreted by some scholars that depending upon the particular material contexts, preeminence is given to either male or female deities. [Kosambi 1962:; Bhattacharya: 1999 ] Bhattacharyya
narrates “The accumulation of wealth occurred in primitive societies in two ways: (i) by development of
agriculture and (ii) by the domestication of animals. Where agriculture developed considerably without any
intervening pastoral stage, mother right elements became the driving forces of society. Elsewhere the stage of
highly developed agriculture was reached only after passing through a purely pastoral phase of long duration, as
with the Rigvedic tribes of India,… we have the opposite result.” The pastoral tribes require greater courage and
an efficient leadership to protect their cattle which gave rise to patriarchal societies and therefore pastoral
religion is generally identified with male divinity. This is why the Vedic goddesses (i.e. Usha, Aditi, Savitri, Sri)
are given a secondary position in the texts. Ingalls [1984] states that “such goddesses…as we meet…are
goddesses with a small „g‟ rather than the singular embodiment that that we might write with a capital.” Their
position in the Puranas is quite different, where the goddesses –Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati are portrayed as
the spouses of the male gods-Brahma, Vishnu and Siva respectively. One notable exception is found in the
Devi-Mahatmya section of the Markandeya Purana, one of the early Puranas and considered as Mahapurana, in
which the ultimate reality is understood as female, as the Goddess. Following the footsteps of Markandeya
Purana many Upa Puranas were written, in the subsequent period, which are overloaded with sectarian material
relating to Saktism. As in these texts the goddess is portrayed as the primeval power (adyasakti), needed for
creation of the universe and activate the male energy, these are given the titled as Sakta Upapurana. Regarding
the Goddess tradition, Ludo Rocher [1986] has rightly opined “Sakti worship appears, though rather
infrequently, in some of the Mahapuranas. It is far more prevalent in the Upapuranas. In some of them it is so
prevalent that they have been labeled „Sakta Upapuranas‟.” The Kalika Purana is one among the Sakta
Upapuranas. Written around the 10th-11th century CE in Sanskrit, the text celebrates the power of the divine
DOI: 10.9790/0837-2210077883
www.iosrjournals.org
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The Portrait of the Goddess in the Kalika Purana
feminine in her various manifestations centering round the goddess Kamakhya or Kalika. Among Saktas
(worshippers of divine feminine in Hinduism) the Kalika Purana is one of the revered and famous scriptures. To
this day it is used in the worship of the Goddess. Though starts with the salutation to Hari (Vishnu), the text
shifts its centrality to the goddess as the fundamental form of the universe who can manifest in various forms in
accordance of the need of the time. Sometimes she is in benign form providing wealth to her devotees, while in
some other episodes she is in terrible form destroying the evil (demon). Thus the Goddess in the Kalika Purana
is many-sided figure. She is called by more than fifty names or epithets, while many of these names are simply
honorific (for example, Mahamaya, Maheswari, Jaganmayi). This article seeks to discuss the different forms of
the goddess as portrayed in the text.
II. RELATION OF THE GODDESS WITH VISHNU:
In the first episode of the Kalika Purana the Goddess is associated with Vishnu. The text starts with the
salutation to Hari (Vishnu) and next to Hari salutation is given to the Goddess. Here she is called as
Vishnumaya (Illusion of Vishnu) and is addressed as the protectress, dispeller of ignorance and bestower of
salvation to her devotees.
Let that Maya protect you, she is Vishnumaya, because of her alluring charm of all the living beings
who like the sun dispels the darkness of ignorance (avidya) from the mind of the ascetics, who is the cause of
salvation and destroys the evil desire in the pure mind of the people. [1.2, KP]
In another episode the Goddess Prithvi is depicted in relation with Vishnu in his boar incarnation out of
which Naraka, the early ruler of Kamarupa was born. Here Goddess Prithvi is motherly by nature and takes care
of son Naraka after birth as a nurse in the form of Katyayani. Later on, as the story goes on, when Naraka
becomes rude (asura) after tying up friendship with Bana the Goddess in her form of Kali or Kalika helps Hari
in his fight against Naraka.
While fighting he observed tall Kalika by the side of Krishna similar to Kalika, with red face and red
eyes, wearing sword and sakti and also Kamakhya, the protectress of the world, the enchantress. [40.102, KP]
Thus in the text the Goddess is portrayed as the consort of Vishnu, who can create illusion and
enchanting needed for creation of universe and destruction of evil. In this way one facet of the Goddess is
Vaisnavite. Of all the male deities Vishnu is the earliest with whom the Goddess is associated in the Kalika
Purana
III. RELATION OF THE GODDESS WITH SIVA:
Out of the male gods in the Kalika Purana Siva is the mostly associated god with the goddess.
Throughout the text the Goddess is associated with Siva as his consort. Some names of the Goddess such as
Rudrani, Samkari, Sivaduti are due to her association with Siva. The text relates the story of the birth and rebirth
of the Goddess only to marry or enchant Siva for welfare of the world.
The Goddess saysIn every age of creation after dissolution of the world I, in the shape of woman, shall continue to follow Hara
with great earnestness. [6.7, KP]
In the first episode of the text, the Goddess is born as Sati, the daughter of Daksa, to enchant Hara
(Siva) as she only can do it. She is the power to create illusion (Maya) in the mind of the great ascetic. Thus the
motive behind her birth as Sati is to become the spouse of Siva. But as the story goes on she leaves her life as
Daksa does not invite Siva to the sacrifice that the former arranged. Afterwards Siva destroys the sacrifice and
Sati‟s dismembered body parts gave rise to many pithastananas (seat). The Kalika Purana enumerates the
pithasthanas as seven: Devikuta (where pair of feet lie), Uddiyana (where pair of thigh lie), Kamagiri (where
genital organ lies), on the ground of Kamagiri (where the navel lies), Jalandhara (where pair of breast lie) and
the place beyond Kamarupa (where the head lies). In every pitha the goddess is known by different names and