The Goddess or Divine Mother holds the key to the spiritual regeneration of humanity in this ecological age. Without reconnecting to the deeper feminine energy of the universe, we are unlikely to solve our current global crisis that is based, to a great extent, upon ignoring the Divine presence of the Goddess in Nature and in ourselves.
Of the various aspects of the Goddess, it is her dark forms that carry the key to her secrets and her power, her connections to the Earth, the night, fertility, mystery, magic and transformation. It has been our inability to understand her dark forms and integrate them in our religious and social orders, which has led us to ignore the Goddess and even to become afraid of her saving grace that is the real power of inner growth and the enlightenment of awareness.
There are many dark forms of the Goddess in various spiritual and religious traditions, viewed with both reverence and awe. Of the great goddesses of the world, perhaps none is as mysterious and enigmatic as the Hindu Goddess, Kali, who represents the Dark Goddess in all her primeval glory and all-conquering power. To really uncover the meaning of the Dark Goddess, one must encounter and come to understand the inner reality of Kali.
Kali is probably the most misunderstood and wrongly portrayed Goddess in the Hindu tradition, if not in the spiritual traditions of the entire world. She is a subject of extensive sensation, drama and distortion. The refined, beautiful, aesthetic or philosophical side of her nature is seldom recognized, if ever clearly portrayed. Much mystery shrouds this dark form of the Goddess who holds all the energies of life and death, and the great journey back to the Absolute beyond time and space.
Even the origins of Kali worship are a subject of much confusion. There is little understanding of her Vedic roots as the deep blue flame of the Fire Goddess or as the ‘dark blue light of the Sun’ that is reflected inn the dark pupil of the eye and its ability to see. The greater connections of the Dark Goddess to the forces of Nature, particularly the electrical energies of life and perception, are seldom noted. Kali’s cosmic role as the Goddess of infinite space and eternal time is ignored for her more creaturely dimensions. Her pre-eminent place as the yoga Shakti or inner power of yoga to return us back to our Divine source is not addressed in any meaningful way.
Scholars, lacking inner experience, approach Kali with their own psychological, sociological and cultural preconceptions that fail to recognize her spiritual energy, beauty and majesty. They stop short at the fierce image of her outer forms and do not see the transcendent light reflected through them. They dwell on her dark power and project on to that the negative aspects of their own assessment of human nature. They see superstition or suppressed emotion in what is in fact the supreme power of the Goddess to take us beyond all ignorance and sorrow. They usually do the same thing with the other forms of the Dark Goddess in the world, looking at them not as an expression of spiritual mystery but, rather, as primitive impulses.
It is best to set such accounts aside and learn to approach Kali with our inner heart and inner eye, as the spiritual mother who can take us beyond the limitations of the world. It is best to approach Kali directly within our own deeper awareness, but for this we need some keys, tools and much inspiration. This is what Shambhavi Chopra offers in her book on the great Dark Goddess. She approaches Kali through an inner intuitive vision and yogic sadhana, letting the Goddess unfold in and through her, providing us a new and unique approach to her reality.
India has maintained a continuous tradition of Goddess worship throughout the centuries. Its spiritual teachings have never rejected the role of the Goddess in either creation or spiritual development. At the same time, India has maintained a continuous tradition of women gurus, saints, teachers and yoginis. It is from the ancient Goddess tradition of India, carrying its stream of wisdom and grace, that Shambhavi speaks to us today, affording India’s Goddess tradition a new voice and practical teaching that all can understand.
In Yogic Secrets of the Dark Goddess: Lightning Dance of the Supreme Shakti, Shambhavi provides us with a direct experience of Kali, the Mother, as she is in her inner reality, circumventing all the confusion and distortion about her. She brings us into a direct and living contact with the reality of the Dark Goddess, both in the external universe and in our own deeper nature. Shambhavi reveals to us the gentle face of Kali and her beautiful forms which come to us once we let go of the darkness and limitations inside ourselves and in our world.
Shambhavi shows us how Kali actually manifests to her sincere and dedicated devotees in the ongoing experience of life and in the continuous spiral of deep sadhana. Kali is not some mere folk deity, some ancient Goddess, or a strange object for intellectual curiosity or cultural image. She is the Supreme Power of the magical, awesome, cataclysmic universe in which we live, of which we are all but brief expressions, and to which we must all bow down in reverence in the end. Kali holds our life and our death within her embrace that is kind to the soul but can be painful to the ego, delaying or restricting the soul’s unfoldment.
Purification, which implies the destruction of negativity, must precede any great creation or transformation. Kali provides that purification but brings about the new creation and transformation as well. Her destructive force is only for the destruction of negativity, limitation and sorrow - an invitation for us to look beyond the boundaries of death, suffering and ego, to an inner reality not touched by these shadows.
Kali is the beginning and the end of everything. She has the first and the last word, as she is the Divine word in its primal essence before and beyond any particular expression. Kali stands before and after, below and above any mere human teacher, saint, prophet, guru or even avatar. Even Lord Krishna could only take birth after her descent! Kali holds all time, all beings and all dharma in her power. All that is sacred are but reflections of her lightning force linking all beings into a unity that is everywhere dynamic, transformative and overflowing.
This great Goddess pervades and underlies all the formulations of God through monotheism and monism. She is the deepest flame of the burning bush that spoke to Moses and the Vedic fire through which the great Himalayan rishis were born. All the goddesses and all great women gurus are aspects of her force. She is the supreme space of awareness, the Dark Mother, whose pure or white forms are but one aspect of a light that has no boundary and gives its grace to all.
Kali provides us the energy to do our spiritual practices, whatever that may be. She is the Divine breath, word, thought and perception. She is the blood of light through which body, life and mind project their play through all creatures and all worlds. We may give her another name or not recognize her by name and form at all, but we cannot deny the presence and power of the Dark Goddess who embraces us on every side.
We must learn to worship Kali, both in all her forms as well as the formless space beyond every representation, through both meaningful outer rituals and by deeper inner meditation. While every form reveals her beauty, she is beyond all manifestation. She encompasses every approach that we may adopt to expand our horizons to the unbounded energy behind our world. Inner worship of Kali is the direct path to yogic realisation.
Those on whom Kali showers her grace are provided a clear horizon beyond this world of samsara. They can hold all time and space, all history and evolution, in the lotus of their own hearts as a single flash of lightning from the smile of the Goddess.
Kali comes to us at all the important transitional or transformational movements of life, of which death is the most notable. Yet, She is their with the movement of every breath, every heart-beat, and every cry, whether of joy or sorrow. She gives our life meaning, depth, feeling and sensitivity. She takes our life-experience to its crescendo at death so that we can return to the Divine flame that gave us birth. She is hidden between every moment and action of our lives as the space and energy that allows us to function.
It was the power of Kali that enabled Ramakrishna Paramhamsa to first project India’s great spiritual traditions into the global arena through his disciple Swami Vivekananda, at the turn of the 20th century. As the power of transformation through time, Kali holds the keys to the planetary changes that we need today to move beyond our current global crisis. The prevailing Kali Shakti remains active and will take any and all forms that it needs to lead us through and beyond all time.
There is much more that Kali has to say to us. Unless we face and surrender to the transforming power to the Mother, in the depths of her mystic darkness, our world cannot move beyond its present division, suffering and pain. Only the unifying power of the Mother can bring about the healing of humanity, not any more war-gods or exclusive ideologies or divisive beliefs.
Shambhavi allows Kali to speak through her, work through her and guide the movement of her life. She shows us how to do the same. Shambhavi serves as a conduit for the grace of Kali to enter into our lives and take residence within our hearts. She shows us how to approach Kali and awaken her power within us at the core of our being. This inner resurgence of the Goddess is not a matter of strictly following some mere ritual or even faithfully doing a particular yoga practice, however helpful it may be. It rests first of all upon an attitude of the heart, an impulse to go directly to the Mother as the source of one’s being, as one’s closest companion, rather than relying on any intermediary, be it a person, a form, an idea or a technique.
Shambhavi presents the great Mother to us in her pure essence, apart from all distortions, secondary interpretations and indirect views from a distance only. Through her voice, Kali comes alive and begins to stir within us, bringing about changes and setting into motion our hearts. She shows us how to approach Kali and awaken her power within us at the core of our being. This inner resurgence of the Goddess is not a matter of strictly following some mere ritual or even faithfully doing a particular yoga practice, however helpful it may be. It rests first of all upon an attitude of the heart, an impulse to go directly to the Mother as the source of one’s being, as one’s closest companion, rather than relying on any intermediary, be it a person, a form, an idea or a technique.
Shambhavi presents the great Mother to us in her pure essence, apart from all distortions, secondary interpretations and indirect views from a distance only. Through her voice, Kali comes alive and begins to stir within us, bringing about changes and setting into motion our inner energies that we might not have thought possible for us. Her entire book is a means of bringing the energy of Kali into our world and into our psychology, restoring the magic of what is beyond the human mind to vitalize our deeper feelings and perceptions.
Shambhavi’s first book Yogini, which unfolds the life of inner yogic experience from many angles and facets, naturally leads us to Kali who is the great yogini or ‘mahayogini’, the supreme yogini of which all the yoginis are but manifestations. In the inner yoga, one must honour Kali if one wants to quickly cross the barriers of death, darkness and sorrow into the higher realm of immortality, light and bliss.
Shambhavi’s purpose is not merely to revel us in some sensationalized experience of Kali at cremation grounds or in old temples, but to show us the gentle face of Kali that can smile away all death and suffering from within our hearts. Her book is a new and unique revelation of the Goddess, taking the reader into a deeper understanding through which Kali can manifest for all with grace charm and power.
To really connect with Kali it would be better for the reader to focus on this book and leave both the old manuscripts and modern perspectives aside. Yogic Secrets of the Dark Goddess is one of the most important contributions on Kali, as well as one of the most original and insightful, to arise in the modern era. It shows the Goddess as a living power of transformation, a matrix of the deepest and the highest, the most primal and transcendent power in unbounded unity. Every article in the book reveals a facet of the Goddess, portraying all the myriad colours of her manifold and indefinable reality.
For those who know little about Kali, this book is probably the best place to begin and will help prevent the usual misconceptions about her from arising. The Dark Goddess is only dark in the sense of carrying the fertility of the Earth and the expanse of infinite space and eternal time, in which all potentials reside. The deeper darkness of her mystic night can dispel all the darkness of the human mind and heart, fears, desires, anger, aggression, sorrow and pain. May the book awaken the reader to the inner Goddess, the Supreme Mother, who leads us to our highest nature and divinity!
Ma Kali, the Dark Goddess, remains an enigma for me! The mystery of her power has been all consuming, ever drawing me into her heavenly realms of wonder. Experiencing her profound mysticism, I never again looked back at life as an expression any less than extraordinaire. Kali opened up spheres of sheer magic, allowing me to move and expand according to the dictates of my own heart. Life took on the adventurous curiosity of finding my way through her magical labyrinth in the footfalls of a child-woman.
I seemed to be viewing life through deep shades of rose-tinted glasses, with soft hues permeating both my inner and outer life there was a new richness of experience weaving its warp and weft into the intricacies of a magnificent tapestry. It adorned the mantle of my being, bringing about a deep sense of fulfillment and the joyousness of its all.
The secret of this ecstasy was a complete surrender to the reigning queen of all time and space - Mahakali, the exalted Dark Goddess, the devi incarnate. In my surrender to her, great power of charm and illusion. There was a sense of unbounded freedom in my search for the ultimate reality. There wasn’t the need for any desperate seeking, or any rigorous discipline; it was just the simple sweetness of unqualified surrender into her fold.
Ma Kali opened up the windows of my heart to her beatitude and Divine grace. She gently drew me into a magical world of her amazing marvels, where I met beautiful people with similar resonances in the inconceivable surroundings of her secret creation. There was profound awareness alone with a worldly intelligence at viewing life’s large picture. Maybe one was placing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together into their idyllic places, completing the picture of a blissful seventh heaven right here on Mother Earth.
I soon realized that the reality of Shiva was seeded deep within me. The eternal presence of his light rests in each soul and is not something one need reach out for. Nor is Shiva’s light circumscribed or restricted by any effort or design. An aggressive or desperate approach to the spiritual life never works, for Shiva and Kali have to be experienced through bhakti, deep love and fervent invoking. Clarity of thought, astute awareness and deep shraddha, faith and belief, must be experienced in tandem with the universal forces.
It is like romancing a dark night, luring the new Moon into allowing one to experience its luminescent dance as it moves into its full phase of splendour on the night of Purnima, the full Moon. The rasa of Shiva and Kali’s legendary saga calms the inner flux, silencing the surrounding din and clamour of our mind, heart and soul. The sweet spell of their romance has its own magical veil and on sifting through its folds, one discovers the wonders of Tantra.
The Dark Goddess appeared in my life, luring me out of my worldly stupor, her magnetic deep blue hues holding me captive in their embrace. Experiencing her intense vibrations left me in a pool of sweat and gentle trembling. The resounding Om reverberated in my resting haven, encircling me within its reticent powers. The devi’s presence brought home the truth of a higher order.
Kali guided me in seeking out the purity and mystique of the essence of oneself, allowing the light of her eternal presence to illumine my prevailing awareness. Life never changed, but my approach to its myriad experiences took on a new mantle. Through her grace, one embellished the fabric of the mantle with rich hues of varied designs and motifs of deep experiences.
All the emphasis on psychology that one finds in books today has driven people into analyzing their suffering, often blaming others for it, rather than learning how to catalyse it into sheer bliss. I tried my best not to dwell on the emotional hurts and traumas and instead transformed the psychology into a deeper love and joyousness, embracing its with gratitude and willing to move forward by shifting its energy to higher planes of nirvana.
The gentle prodding and nurturing by Vamadeva Shastri (Dr David Frawley) allowed me to cast my dice into the fray of cosmic play. Without his guidance, this book would remaining complete. He gently unfolded the essence of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s teachings through the poetic verses of Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni and through deeper Vedantic teachings. The stars unfolded deeper secrets of the heavens through his yogic perception and I began to understand the jnana or Divine wisdom of ancient seers.
Nature continued to be the support of a veritable guru, unraveling its wonder and beauty, wherever I chose to be. Mother Nature has no religion; her scriptures are open-ended without boundaries. Our inner consciousness relates to the abundance and beauty of Nature’s world, the Divine spirit of the tree, the mountain rocks and flowing rivers.
The winds picked up whispers of forget-me-not flowers above tree line, carrying their messages down mountain streams in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Molten rock faces mirrored the promises of Nature, guiding me along the way. And Gautam Thapar’s beautiful home on the banks of roaring Ma Ganga above Rishikesh allowed me the happiness of basking in meditative energies of Anandamayi Ma, the saintly yogini who used to visit there. These were among my countless blessings in this lifetime.
The yogini is actually the inner guru. The one who inspires us from within is the real guru, not the one who sermonizes from a pedestal! The yogi sustains the flow of rasa and soma and is the true form of guru Shakti. The yogi can only provide the space and the presence for that, but the yogini carries the powerful currents.
The continuous support of my family and friends afforded me the threshold to experience my other world. Professor Lokesh Chandra’s gentle persuasion led me to share my experiences of Ma Kali with everyone. And I hold a deep appreciation for my publisher, Shobit Arya, who took my second venture into the world of written expression.
I have heartfelt gratitude for the beautiful depictions of Ma Kali and Shiva Maheshwara captivated in the line drawings by Kanika Tripathi, who at the young age of 22 seems to read my soul. She captures the sweetness and mystical powers of Kali’s magnificence.
A deep gratitude abides in me for the appreciation and support for my first work of writing - Yogini, Unfolding the Goddess Within - that so many people have expressed. The Dark Goddess continues to unravel her deep secrets, for which my heart seeks out Kali ever more lovingly.
Yogic spirituality is a path of deep introspection, self-inquiry, observation and contemplation. It is a search to know the true nature of one’s self, of life and of the universe at large. The answers must come through a seeking from the heart, not merely the mind which tends to intellectualise and conceptualise everything. My heart captivated the purity of nishtha, single-minded devotion.
Blanking out the mind or one’s senses is not a magical technique; it is a running away from the reality of existence. Today spirituality confers on our mindset the idea that someone else or some technique will solve all our issues for us, with little or no effort on our part. We seem quite content with the physical, outer yogic exercises, endless social satsangas and the comfortable spacing out of our senses in group meditation.
Tantra has no techniques, dogmas or beliefs. It is an expression of divinity, which unites each being to the reality within. The tantrika’s life experiences consciousness through divinity. A tantrika evolves her consciousness through the deeper symbolism of the union between Shiva and Bhairavi, searching the limitless, timeless totality of the Divine Self.
One’s consciousness is what is eternal, paving the spiritual path to a ‘great awakening’. Supreme consciousness rests in samadhi, the ultimate dwelling space of the devatas. The secret to a sadhaka’s success lies in knowing and understanding when to invoke the power of Kali’s dasha mahavidya forces, her manifestation as the Ten Wisdom Goddesses into our sadhana. We need to tune into our silence and our inner intuitive voice will guide us to approach her mystical forms, allowing the Dark Goddess to unravel her magic into the flow of our lives.
The inner yogic experience is sought by dealing with the deeper issues of our daily lives. Moving beyond them will alleviate our restlessness. A yogic lifestyle, which balances the sattvic, rajasic and tamasic natures through meditation, pranayama and astute awareness will bring about a peaceful and happy existence at both personal and universal levels.
A simple prayer resonates within my heart:
The yogini lives an effusive life, cultivating awareness of depth, maturity, clarity, tolerance and compassion, while enjoying the fruition and abundance that the universe spontaneously provides. The spiritual path requires discrimination and insight, allowing us a thorough comprehension of life’s ways, not turning a blind eye to our worldly existence. The yogini is ever mindful of witnessing the presence of every moment with deep reverence. The joyousness of life should be a flow of continuous celebration.
The self is the Divine being; there is no ambiguity of ‘knowing’ the self - purely resting in the true self is nirvana. Our true being holds no concepts, beliefs, visions or convictions. These are perceptions or views of the human mind.
The beauty and brilliance of the spiritual path rests beyond our human mind, its beliefs, concepts and dictates. Political, historical and religious identities are not the essence of one’s reality. A tolerant and respectful view must be awakened to extend its horizons into our own personal fields of activity. These are not the ‘killing fields’ of modern mindsets but fields of deep awareness that should yield a bounty of abundance, love and compassion for us and for our future generations to cherish.
My fervent prayer is for each one of us to experience the wonder of Shiva and Kali, unveiling the mystery of their mystical play, allowing us to release the trappings of bondage in search of the true self. For me life has always been a flourish of beauty, subtler emotions and intuitive intelligence. May the Divine essence of these powers energise all that we can experience!
Shakti as the supreme energy has few fires burning in the world today - we must enkindle these inner fires again within us to create the kunda, vessel, to hold Kali’s energy. Her force will rise again, ever stronger in the days and years to come, until we learn to dwell once more in the sacred.
I bow deeply before the Divine resting in our spiritual heart, pervading the vastness of the Heaven and the Earth which vibrate its resonance.
Back of the Book
Yogic Secrets of the Dark Goddess unfolds the mystic beauty of Kali, the most powerful but misunderstood of the great goddesses of India. The book is a living experience of the Goddess, both at a personal level and throughout the world of Nature. It unfolds a vast panorama of insight, devotion, mantra and meditation that propels the reader into a new vision of reality beyond life and death. Probably the most comprehensive and innovative examination of Ma Kali is recent decades, the book reveals all dimensions of life and consciousness in Kali’s transformative dance.
Original Tantric Texts (18)
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