Human beings are emotional. Among the navarasas, or nine emotions, anger is probably the one that’s most difficult to master. Many of us are short-tempered, some of us might be patient but when pushed beyond a point, really lose it! When it comes to the gods, everything happens at a grand, cosmic level. So what happens when a god is angered?
The goddesses Durga and Kali are both representations of Shakti, the feminine ideal in Hindu mythology. Durga was born to put an end to the king of asuras, Mahisasura, who was a terror to deal with. Today, we associate softness and weakness with the feminine gender. The popular idea is that men are strong while women are weak; men go to war while women look after babies. However, if you take a look at stories from the past, you will see plenty of examples of men and women taking on gender roles that are vastly different from those we see today. Durga was born to fight battles… and what about Kali?
Kali was born to fight a battle which required even more anger and wrath than Durga’s! According to legend Durga was fighting two evil demons, Shimbhu and Nishumbhu. The two of them proved to be a handful and kept distracting Durga with various tricks. Finally, Durga was so enraged that Kali, another form of herself, was born out of her brow to deal with the demons. Kali was fearsome to look at and her fury was uncontrollable. The demons trembled at the very sight of her.
When Kali unleashed her wrath upon them, the demons ran helter skelter. They knew that they were done for! The goddess pursued them, her bright red tongue hanging out of her mouth. After a fierce battle, the two demons were destroyed. Kali was successful in what she set out to do, but her anger did not abate.
She was so furious, maddened by rage, that she began destroying everything in her sight. She had to somehow give vent to her emotions or she would explode. Now even the gods were scared of Kali! They did not know what to do. She was so out of control that only Shiva, who was Shakti’s masculine form, could do anything about it.
And so Shiva lay down in Kali’s path! Kali was so blinded by rage that she did not even see Shiva as she strode down the path. When she realised that she was stepping on someone, she looked down and was surprised to see that it was Shiva she was standing on!
Shiva was very dear to Kali and she did not want to destroy him. Kali was so taken aback at the sight that she was finally able to see beyond her anger. She began to calm down and removed her foot from Shiva’s chest, gently helping him up from the ground. Shiva smiled at Kali’s apologetic face. And all was well the world again.
The story is a good illustration of how anger can often lead us to destroy the things that we hold dear to our hearts because we simply cannot think or see clearly when our emotions take control of our rationality.
Kali’s rage was righteous to begin with but then she became so consumed by it, she almost ended up destroying Shiva, her loved one. It also shows us that approaching an angry person with love rather than indignation, like Shiva did, can lead to better results!