Sunday, October 2, 2011

What Does Kali Yuga have to do with Kali, the Goddess?


‘Religious movements and revolutions have come and gone or left their mark but after all and through all the Veda remains to us our Rock of the Ages, our eternal foundation.... The Upanishads, mighty as they are, only aspire to bring out, arrange philosophically in the language of later thinking and crown with the supreme name of Brahman the eternal knowledge enshrined in the Vedas. Yet for some two thousand years at least no Indian has really understood the Vedas.’ Sri Aurobindo, India’s Rebirth (emphasis added). 

It is worth considering that the 2,000-year extended lack of understanding of the Vedas that Sri Aurobindo points out, extends our modern-day understanding of the Yuga cycles. I have been reading up on the characteristics of Kali the Goddess, figuring there must be clues to the true nature of the Kali Yuga as a measure of the Precession of the Equinoxes in the mythology and iconography of the goddess. As pointed out in a previous note, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet describes the Kali Yuga as a unit of measure covering 4 astrological ages of the 12-age Precession. 3 Kali Yuga (Treta Yuga) equals a full Precessional cycle. In this seeing of the Yugas, Kali Yuga is a measure, not a manifest age. Interestingly enough the goddess Kali is traditionally known to have 4 arms and to carry the 3 pronged Trident as her weapon. She is also known as an incarnation of Shakti/Parvati who is the wife of Shiva (a member of the Trimurti or Trinity of Vedic Gods: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva). I read this about her on Wikipedia:
‘She is often depicted naked which symbolizes her being beyond the covering of Maya since she is pure (nirguna) being-consciousness-bliss and far above prakriti. She is shown as very dark as she is brahman in its supreme unmanifest state. She has no permanent qualities — she will continue to exist even when the universe ends. It is therefore believed that the concepts of color, light, good, bad do not apply to her — she is the pure, un-manifested energy, the Adi-shakti.’
With these characteristics in mind, is not too farfetched, to see Kali Yuga as ‘unmanifest’ and to understand the Goddess and the Yuga as inseparable from the Trinity that is so fundamental to Vedic mythology and gnosis. [See 'Revisiting the Measure of the Yugas, continued'] The mathematics of Kali’s persona do beg some consideration … the 4 arms and a 3 pronged trident are the very essence of the 12 month Zodiac, which is divided into 4 seasons of 3 months each, and is also based on the 4 elements (fire, water, air and earth) and 3 gunas (rajas, sattva, tamas or creation, preservation, destruction/dissolution). Also Kali wears a garland of 108 human heads. The sacredness of the number 108 is literally a product of its factors 9 and 12 (9 x 12 = 108). These are the formative numbers of our cyclical-circular 9/0 number system and our 12 month year inherited from Vedic civilization. Learning to see these two numbers as formative divisions of the One Circle of life, just as the 3 and the 4 are formative divisions of the One Circle of life is an important key to developing some understanding of the Vedic cycles of time (as discussed in The Gnostic Circle). 



Trying to understand the Yuga cycles without these keys, I truly think, is something of a wild goose chase … trying to decipher, read and accurately interpret an ancient sacred code with the wrong cipher. 

Shakti (part of the Tridevi of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati/Shakti) is known as the source of all forms (sarvarupe) and as the power that mobilizes the immobile. In other words, she informs the geometries and dynamics of time and space. The whole matrix comes to being and into motion through her geometries and dynamics. Shakti’s incarnation as Kali, ‒ the dark one, associated with death and the destructive nature of time ‒, can better be understood in terms of how the Mother/Material Creation seems when TIME IS NOT SEEN and EXPERIENCED in its proper measures and proper light … i.e. She is seen and experienced by our ‘darkened’ consciousness as fearsome and destructive … as a killer. But this is not Ma Shakti’s (Parvati’s) true nature. The fact alone that our Vedic ancestors structured their gnosis and hence their civilization firmly on a vision of a Triadic-Oneness, should give students of the Yugas reason enough to seriously consider that our Vedic ancestors also measured the Precession of the Equinoxes in terms of a Triadic-Cycle – i.e. one great cycle made up of 3 Yugas (TretaYuga), each Yuga consisting of 432,000 seconds of degrees of celestial arc.


Related Links:

'Updating the Vedic Altar' (a series by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet on Puranic Cosmology Updated)

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