On day two of Navratri, we bow to the Goddess Bhadrakali. Bhadrakali is the form of Durga we are most familiar with in the West. Most of us have seen the heartstopping image of a goddess with many arms, a necklace of sculls, tongue hanging out deep red dripping with the blood of her enemies. In her many arms some of the things she carries are an axe, a trident, a severed human head, and a bowl of blood. Rage seems to swirl around her and she herself is the color of a thundercloud.
Westerners look at this Goddess and wonder how Hindus could worship such a hideous being. But to a Hindu she represents protection from the evils of the physical and spiritual worlds, and from our own ego. She was born out of the wrath of Mother Goddess Durga, when her beloved husband Shiva was insulted. And Bhadrakali is who the gods turn toward to fight the battles they must win against evil in order for the universe to survive. Only Bhadrakali’s ferocity can defeat the most evil demons, and can battle the human ego. She is our eternal protector, and is thus revered by many Hindus as the most important Goddess of all. Without her the Universe would perish. And without her compassion, all humans would be ruled by their egos.
In the study of spirituality it is believed that people who are attached to their egos see Kali in this hideous form. But to those who have removed the illusion of the ego, Kali appears as sweet, affectionate, and overflowing with perplexing love for them.