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Goddess Kali in Tantrism
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Goddess Kali in Tantrism has received much prominence and particularly in tantric texts of Kashmir. These works were written by Abhinavagupta where Kali has been designated as one of the forms of Shakti. In Trantraloka several forms of Kali has been mentioned. Kali has been portrayed as Shakti Cakra which is described as a wheel of energy representing the evolution and dynamics of consciousness.
The presence of Kali has also been dominant in Tantrism of eastern India especially in Bengal. Texts that have been written in Bengal comprise of manuals for the worship of the deity. They also illustrate about the appearance, mantra and yantra and hymns sung in her praise. These hymns are known as the Nama Stotras that consist of hundred eight or thousand names. In other tantric works like the Tantrasara, Saktapramoda and Pranatosini Goddess Kali plays a significant role and even has many forms. Few of these forms have been explained like the Dakshina Kali, Mahakali, Smasana Kali, Ghya Kali, Camunda Kali, Bhadra Kali, Hamsa Kali, Siddha Kali, Kamakala Kali. She is widely worshipped throughout eastern India according to tantric rites.
In Tantrism although Goddess Parvati is said to be the recipient of Shiva's wisdom, it is goddess Kali who rules over tantric iconography, texts and rituals. Nirvana-tantra proclaims that the gods Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva arise from her like bubbles from the sea, incessantly appearing and passing away. In Nigama- Kalpataru, Picchita Tantra, Yogini, Kamakhya and Niruttara Tantras Kali is considered as the greatest of all the Vidhas and declared to be the most essential form of the Mahadevi. In Mahanirvana Tantra Kali is one of the most important epithets for the primordial Shakti.
The figure of Kali conveys death, destruction, terror and all consuming aspect of reality. The Karpuradi stotra states Kali to be more than just a ferocious slayer of demons who serves Durga and Shiva in the battlefield. She is said to be the supreme mistress of the cosmos who is in union with Shiva and thus creates and destroys the universe. In Tantrism she is the most appropriate symbol of rituals and meditative techniques. She is thus the ultimate reality and an embodiment of the highest truths.