We know Goddess Kali as the destroyer of evil and the slayer of the demons who troubled her human devotees. But few know that she appeared to us in many forms. There are 10 forms of Kali that are prescribed by the scriptures and popularly worshiped by the masses. They are also called the Dasha Mahavidya Kali or the sisterhood of Tantric goddesses. Every avatar of goddess Kali has some significance. Kali is also known as Adishakti or Kundalini Shakti that is the soul power or light that makes the Universe live but can also burn it.
Here are nine spectacular forms of Kali that you will encounter.
Maa Kal In her 10 Slendid Forms:
1. Kali: This is the most famous form of the Goddess Kali; you could call it the core form. The myth goes that when Kali was intoxicated by the blood of the demons, she stepped on Lord Shiva (who was lying with the corpses) her husband and stuck out her tongue in shame. In this form, the dark mother can be facing south as Dakshina Kali . Maa Kali is also known as Chamunda as she had slayed the two notorious demons, Chanda and Munda. This violent form of the Goddess has a blood flowing from her mouth. Hindu God Shiva stands by her side in silent admiration as she slays the demonss.
2. Matangi Kali: She is the violent reincarnation of the Goddess of Knowledge, Saraswati. Being a tantric Goddess she lives at the edges of organised Hindu religion. The sparkling emerald green Goddess is offered half eater or stale food by the left hand (the impure hand). She is popularly called Chandalini; 'Chandal' is an untouchable caste. Thus Matangi is never worshipped at home.
3. Chhinna Masta: This is by far the weirdest form of the Goddess you will come across. Chinna Masta means beheaded. This Kali avatar hold its own severed head and the head drinks the blood coming out of the stump of her throat. At her feet are a couple in the heat of passion (either Radha and Krishna or Kamdev and Devi). It symbolizes Death and Creation together.
4. Shamsana Kali: She is the divine Goddess who presides over the affairs of the crematorium. This form of Goddess Kali can be worshiped only in the Hindu Crematorium or Shamsana. She has no protruding tongue and strangely has just two hands. A very human projection.
5. Bagala Kali: This is a violent avatar of Kaliand yet her beauty is arresting. She has a comparatively lighter complexion and is shown pulling out the tongues of the demons.
6. Bhairavi Kali: She is described as the harbinger of death in the scriptures and actually, she is only a Mother defending her children from the evils. She is mostly worshiped in Tripura.
7. Tara: The most distinct feature of this violent form of Kali is her light blue colour. She is often shown naked to the waist and then clad in tiger skin.
8. Shodoshi: In this form, Goddess Kali has been portrayed as the seductress. She is just an adolescent girl rising from the navel of Lord Shiva and the Hindu trinity of Bramha, Vishu and Maheshwar (Shiva) are paying their respects to her.
9. Kamala Kali: She is a tantric form of the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi. Down South, this form of Goddess Kali is worshiped as 'Gaja Lakshmi' as she has two elephants by her side.
10. Dhumavati: This is an exceptional representation of the Goddess as a widow. She is probably the only widowed Goddess in the Hindu mythology. This exceptional goddess is considered the 'Smoke Goddess' or a spirit of smoke. She is represented as an antithesis of Lakshmi, who stands for all things- good and auspicious. When we pray to Dhumavati or Alakshmi, we are praying her to go away from our homes.
Other than these 10 major forms, there are many other minor forms of Kali like the Dakat Kali (Goddess of Dacoits), Bhadra Kali (Similar to Bhairavi) etc.