Meditating on the Goddess Kali
The import of Kali Puja to the West
On this most auspicious day of Kali Puja in 2017, we share here for the first time, a music video depicting worship and celebrations of Kali Puja 2016, performed by sincere practitioners of Her Dharma in the United States. The full three hour puja recording, which has been condensed into 18 minutes and set to sublime instrumental music, can be considered a true meditation on her formless form .
To a viewer of this offering, the physical actions are perceived quite fully, but the subtle mental actions cannot be captured on video. As the external is a manifestation of the internal, we provide below a small glimpse into the thoughts going through the mind of the pujari during this offering. These are also points considered for any worship and full consecration of the Devi into one’s life. Therefore, we present to our readership these instructions, as advised by Herself from the Devi Gita found in the Srimad Devi Bhagavatam.
Kali Devi’s dearest and deepest children both know and love Her. They worship Her but also study Her word in the shastras. For the seers, saints, and sages are Her select children sent to earth to maintain and transmit Her wisdom as saving grace.
The sincere aspirant whose love for the Goddess is pure and constant will ardently follow this guided contemplation inside the mind every morning, enjoying and benefiting by its results. A chart is seen below with these instructions surrounding the Devi. The proper order, given next with commentary, is as follows:
1) “Remember and envision the blessed Guru.”
Spiritual life is always attended by the spiritual guide. Those who are without a guru are as yet still seeking such a boon. They may be unprepared for such an advent, or still dabbling in spiritual pursuits via recourse to a host of teachers on the surface level. When the true guru, called the Mantri Guru, is found, the mantra is transmitted in sacred ceremony and authentic spiritual life begins. The guru will be there eternally for reference and guidance. Thus, remembering that divine personage daily brings auspiciousness to one’s self-efforts. This consists of envisioning the form of one’s guru in the heart, in company with the Chosen Ideal (Ishtam) to whom the mantra the guru has duly transmitted correlates. Envisioning and saluting the preceptor is thus a part of the seeker’s everyday ritual.
2) “Meditate on My Form in the Fire of Kundalini in the Muladhara.”
The serpent fire is called Kala Kundalini, and it is red, inflamed, and always intoxicated. Yogis who meditate upon the Muladhara Chakra coax the Fire to rise and penetrate the higher Chakras. The Fire is primal, intense, and can be looked at as the initial entrance into one’s higher Awareness — an appropriate atmosphere in which to begin the act of “straightening one’s coil.” A goodly amount of time each day can be spent basking in and realizing the import of this unique, purifying spirit. Thus, different forms of Agni, the deity of fire, are utilized as aids in sadhana.
3) “Contemplate My Hrillekah Mantra in tandem with the chakras.”
Receiving the Mother mantra from the guru, the practice of japa ensues based upon knowing what all the matras (letters) of the mantra signify. This knowledge, combined with meditation, will help unlock the doors to the various lotuses. In this way the mantra acts as a password, or key, that allows one freer access to the internal realms of Consciousness.
4) “Ruminate on the Four Boons.”
The four boons are: Dharma (righteousness/divine life), Jnana (wisdom), Vairagyam (detachment), and Lakshmi (prosperity). It is good to meditate on the opposites of these qualities as well (unrighteousness, attachment, ignorance, and lack of wealth) so that the nature of ordinary mind, which is dual, can be comprehended and transcended. These boons are to be considered as the four directions, so that everywhere and on all sides there is auspiciousness — and protection.
5) “Meditate on the Five Seats of the Devi, all situated under My Feet.”
The Five Seats of the Devi are Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Ishvara, and Sadasiva. They are all Her representatives on the earth plane, as well as being openings to higher Consciousness. In the scriptures, The Devi states:
Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Ishvara, and Sadasiva are my Divine Regents. They are the presiding deities of earth, water, fire, air, and akasha respectively. No one will see the Goddess without first perceiving them. It would be easier for a man to capture the elements and the akasha as if they were an antelope skin than to root out and destroy all the miseries of this world without first knowing these five deities and the Goddess. In other words, it is impossible. Therefore, My Svetashvatara Upanisad states that ‘Those who are engaged in deepest meditation, only they see through the tamas, rajas, and sattva of the forms incarnated respectively of these five great deities.’
The Five Seats have the earthly correlation of the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, but their spiritual significance goes even deeper. The Five Seats correspond to the five states of awareness: waking (jagrat), dreaming (svapna), deep sleep (sushupti), transcendent (turiya), and beyond transcendent (atitarupa). Thus, there is much to contemplate with this rich and variegated form of rarefied quintuplication.
6) “Perform concentrated japa and offer the results to Me, the Devi.”
Arriving at the essence of the practice, here the mantra has its chance to penetrate deep into the subconscious and unconscious levels of the mind and do its purificatory work. After the previous stages of this prescribed meditation have been instigated and engaged, this phase of real practice brings forth both major shifts and hidden abilities in human awareness. These are brought about in conjunction with repetition of the mantra in formal sitting practice, not just in a general usage of the mantra during daily activities. That is, the mantra has a certain facility when utilized out in the world amidst the public, but its greatest benefit is conferred during formal meditation.
7) “Perform puja for Me with devotion, and with all sacred offerings.”
Though pujas can be long and varied, a shorter description of the Mother’s worship according to Her in the Srimad Devi Bhagavatam, is placed below:
Beginning with arghya, the worshiper should purify the elements and prepare the offerings, sprinkling them while reciting the Astra mantram, ‘phat!’ Then, closing the ten quarters with the Chotika Mudra, the worshiper should bow down to his guru. Then, taking his permission from the Devi, he should envision his external seat and purify it with his mind’s thought and meditate on his inner seat (heart chakra). Then he should invoke the Devi and place Her on these two seats by steady concentration (prana prathistha) and perform the Avahana Mudra.
Presenting Her with green grass, rice, and water (arghya), water for bathing Her feet (padya), water for Her bath (snaniya), some fine clothes (vastra), and all sorts of valuable ornaments, scents, flowers and other necessary articles — all with the utmost devotion — he should then also worship Her attendant deities. He can then offer Her sanctified foods and tasty dishes (naivedhya).
8) “Make offerings to all the deities of My sacred Mandala.”
As is related above, making offerings to the attendant deities on the altar and in the shrine room is auspicious. If one cannot do this daily, the Devi says, it can be done once a week. The scriptures advise that this is best performed on Fridays.
9) “Recite My many Names and read My Upanisads.”
The sacred act of scriptural study is indispensible for spiritual life. The so-called spiritual lives of many seekers are devoid of this element, rendering their power for penetrating maya and piercing the chakras ineffective. Thus, most aspirants remain on the outside of spiritual life, and many teachers do as well — all due to their underestimation, or resistance, to scriptural study. The Devi concurs, asking all votaries to complete this most important phase of Her worship. In one of Her Upanisads, the Taittiriya, it is written in this regard: “Speak the truth. Follow prescribed conduct. Be not heedless of the solemn study and recitation of the scriptures. Never be indifferent about receiving and imparting the wisdom of the Vedas.”
Puja is slow, gradual beauty, distilled — God slowed down in vibration so that the senses can actually perceive Her.
10) “Dance joyfully and sing My Names.”
Not to be taken as an excuse or license to engage in egoic showboating or prideful demonstration, the sincere devotee will enter into such practices in the proper spirit. The entire heart is to be offered to the Goddess, as well as the body and its movements. Then no false premises or pretenses will arise. Natural and spontaneous movement will be the result.
11) “Feed the hungry, the holy, and the devotees.”
Far from being a mere act of occasional charity, such a directive from the Goddess — She who feeds all beings — is really permission to keep the mind on all beings so as to serve them at every juncture of spiritual life. This divine act of remembrance is far above the likes of an altruistic endeavor, and far beyond the realm of individual good karma. It is actually the service of God in all beings. For, if one strives to serve human beings, they will tend to act like human beings. But if one serves God in living beings, they will instead tend to act Godlike. This is the secret of work as Worship, labor as Love.
12) “Perceive youth, the aged, the poor, and the public, all as forms of Me.”
One of the most defining and challenging of all spiritual practices is the attempt at seeing God in everyone, in everything. This is “eyes open meditation.” Instead of expecting all to flow easily, as many pseudo-devotees do, the real devotees of the Divine Mother know the real value of the relentless testing of the soul, as well as its purifying properties. The lessons around the inscrutable presence of maya are then well learned, and a return to any form of ignorance in the future will be rendered impossible. In this way weakness will get replaced by strength, indeterminate behavior by clarity and force of will. For, all of the four classes of beings listed here exhibit positive and negative qualities. Seeing the Goddess residing in them all is a teaching for the individual and for all involved.
13) “Perform all actions in the light of the great Devi Mantra.”
As is said, even in the West, “Thought is father to the deed.” Knowing this, the seeker of Truth brings sensitivity and higher Consciousness to bear on all acts undertaken in life. Just as a deep awareness of the meaning of food and its conscious ingestion forms an integral part of initial practice in Kundalini Yoga, so too does constant repetition of the mantra play an important role in rendering all acts pure and free of karma. Care must be taken by the aspiring seeker, however, to make sure and use the mantra in deep meditation, not just in action (as is mentioned in step three and six of this meditation and commentary). Otherwise the mind may tend towards external life only and fail to develop the ability to go within and realize the more subtle aspects of Consciousness.
14) “Meditate on My Thousand-petalled Lotus.”
A step seldom advised by many teachers, especially until the prerequisites of spiritual practice are well attained, this final phase of meditation invites the seeker into the indiscernible realm of formlessness. There, in that spaceless space, all is an indeterminate mass of pure, conscious Awareness and Bliss. The reuniting of Kundalini Shakti with Paramasiva in this lotus is the final word in spiritual realization, equivalent to the Asamprajnata Samadhi of Patanjala, and the Nirvikalpa Samadhi of the Vedanta. As the Goddess Herself is wont to say, “This is the greatest secret of all Gitas, so carefully contemplate it in your heart of hearts.”