Chapter 81 — The Dance of Kali, Bhairavi

Vasishta related:—

Afterwards, O Rama, I saw the same Rudra standing in the same sky dancing with a hideous form. This body became so big as to fill the whole atmosphere, and as deep and dark black as to cover the ten sides of the sky under the shadow of its dark appearance. Its three eyes flashed with the flaming lights of the sun, moon and fire. His body, black as the fumes of a dark flame, was as silent as the ten sides of the naked sky. The eyes blazed with the flame of the undersea fire and the arms were as big as the huge surges of the sea. The blue body seemed like the consolidated form of waters rising from the blue universal ocean.

As I was looking upon this enormous body, I saw a form like that of its shadow rising from it, jumping about as if dancing. I was thinking in my mind, “How could this shadow appear in this dark and dreary night when the heavens were hidden under darkness and there was no light shining in the sky?” As I was reflecting in this manner, in the foreground of that ethereal stage I saw a strong phantom of a dark dingy female with three eyes, prancing and dancing and glancing all about.

She was of a large and lean stature with dark black complexion. Her flaming eyeballs burned like fire. She covered with wild flowers all over her body. She was as inky black as pasted pitch and as dark as the darkest night. Her body of darkness looked like the image of primeval night. 10 With her horrid and wide open jaws, she seemed to view the spacious vacuum of air. With her long legs and outstretched arms, she appeared to measure the depth and breadth of open space on all sides.

11 Her frame was faint, as if reduced by long enduring fast, and it stooped lower and lower as if pressed down by hunger. It was wavering to and fro, like a body of dark clouds is driven backward and forward by driving winds. 12 Her stature was so lean and long that it could not stand by itself. Like a skeleton, it was supported by bands of ribs and arteries to keep it from falling. 13 In a word, her stature was so tall and towering that it was by my daily journey in the upper and lower skies that I came to see the top of her head and the base of her feet.

14 After this I saw her body. Held together by its complicated bands of tendons and arteries, it looked like a bush of tangling thickets and thistles. 15 She was wrapped in vests of various colors and her head was decorated by luminaries, like a headdress of lotus flowers. She was encompassed by the pure light of heaven and her robe flashed like fire enflamed by the breath of winds. 16 The lobes of her long ears were adorned with rings of snakes and earrings of human skulls. Her knee bones were as prominent as two dried gourd shells and her two dark mammary glands hung loosely upon her chest. 17 The braid of hair on the top of her head was adorned with feathers of young male peacocks and defied the crowned head of the lord of the gods and the circle of his discus. 18 Her moonlike teeth cast their luster like moonbeams. They glistened amidst the dark ocean of chaotic night, just as moonbeams play upon the surface of waves of the dark blue deep.

19 Her long stature rose like a large tree in the sky. Her two limbs resembled two dry gourds growing upon it and as she turned about in the air, these clattered like the rustling of a tree by a breeze. 20 As she danced about in the air, her dark arms lifted on high, they resembled the rising of the waves of the dark ocean of eternity. 21 Now she lifts one arm and then many more, and at last she displays her countless hands to play her part in the playhouse of the universe. 22 Now she shows only one face and then another, and afterwards many more without end in order to represent her various and infinite parts in the vast theater of the world. 23 Now she dances on one foot, then instantly on both feet. She stands on a hundred legs in one moment and on her numberless feet at another.

24 I understood this person to be the figure of chaos. The wise name her Goddess Kali or eternal night.

25 The sockets of her triple eyes flashed with a flame like that of the furnace of a fire engine. Her eyebrow was as glaring and flaring as burning Indranila Mountain. 26 Her cheek bones were as frightful as two high hills projecting over her hideous open mouth, which appeared like a mountain cave capable of swallowing the whole world. 27 Her shoulder blades were as high as two mountain peaks piercing the starry frame where they were decorated by clusters of stars, like strings of pearls.

28 She danced with her outstretched arms resembling the waving branches of trees. She displayed the brightness of her nails, like that of blooming blossoms upon them, or like so many full moons shining under the blue sky. 29 As she turned and tossed her dark hands on every side, she looked like a dark cloud moving in the sky. The luster of her nails appeared to shed the splendor of stars all around. 30 The face of the sky resembled a forest filled the black trees of her two dark arms. Her outstretched fingers, looking like the twigs of trees, were covered by the blossoms of their pearly nails which waved like flowers in the blue sky.

31 With legs taller than the tallest palm and tamara trees, she stalked over the burning earth and put to shame the largest trees that grew upon it. 32 The long and flowing hairs on her head reached and spread over the skies. They formed black coverings for the dark elephantine clouds moving about in the empty air. 33 From her nostrils she breathed a rapid gale of wind which carried mountains aloft in the air and blew great gales in the sky resounding with loud sounds of thunder from all sides of its boundless spheres. 34 The breath of her nostrils and mouth blew in unison all about the circle of the universe and kept the great sphere in its constant rotation, as if with regular harmonic tones of progression.

35 Then, as I looked on her attentively, I saw that her stature was enlarging with her dancing, until at last I found it to fill the whole space of the air and sky. 36 As long I continued to observe her dancing, I saw great mountains hanging all about her body like a string of jewels. 37 Dark antediluvian clouds formed a black costume about her body, and the phenomena of the three worlds appeared as the various decorations that adorned her body. 38 The Himalaya and Sumeru Mountains were like her two silver and golden earrings and the rolling worlds looked like ringing bells and belts about her waist. 39 The ranges of the boundary mountains were like the chains and flower wreaths upon her body, and cities, towns, villages and islands were like the leaves of trees scattered about her. 40 All the cities and towns of the earth appeared as adornments on her body, and all the three worlds and their seasons and divisions of time were as ornaments and garments upon her body.

41 She had the streams of the holy Ganga and Yamuna Rivers hanging down like strings of pearls from the ears of her other heads. The virtues and vices decorated her ears. 42 The four Vedas were her four breasts which flowed with sweet milk like her sweat. The doctrines of other scriptures flowed like milk from their nipples. 43 Her armor and arms, the various weapons such as sword, shield, spear and club which she carried, decorated her body like wreaths of flowers. 44 The gods and all fourteen kinds of animal beings were situated like lines of hair on her body in her form of animated nature itself.

45 Cities, villages and hills situated in her body all joined in their merry dance with her in the expectation of being restored to life in the same forms again. 46 The unstable moving creation which rested in her appeared to me as if situated in the next world, dancing with joy in the hope of its restoration of life.

47 Chaotic Kali, having devoured and assimilated the world in herself, danced with joy like a peacock with a snake in its belly that it has greedily eaten at the appearance of a dark cloud. 48 The world continued to remain and exhibit its real form in her wide extended figure like the shadow of a thing seen in a mirror, and the locations of countries shown on a map. 49 I saw her sometimes standing still, with the whole world and all its forests and mountains moving and dancing in her body, and all forms repeatedly reduced and produced from her. 50 I saw the harmonious vibration of the whole in the mirror of that body. I saw the repeated rising and setting of the world in that circle, without its utter extinction. 51 I marked the revolution of the stars and the rising of mountains within its perimeter, and I observed the host of gods and demigods assembling and dispersing on her in time, just as flights of gnats and flies are driven to and fro by the winds in open air.

52 All these heavenly bodies and these islands in the ocean were moving around her like the flying wheels of a broken war-car. They whirled up and down about her like rocks and wood in a whirlpool. 53 She was clad in the robes of blue clouds, rolled up and folded by the breezes of air. The cracking of wood and bones under her feet answered the sound of her footsteps and anklets. 54 The world filled with the noise of the concussion and separation of its objects, and the tumult of worldly people appeared like passing shadows in a mirror, or like the entrance and exits of actors in a play on stage. 55 The high-headed Meru and the long armed boundary mountains seemed to be dancing about her like moving clouds, and the forest trees seen in the clouds seemed to perform their circular dance all around. 56 High-swelling seas heaved their waves to heaven, carrying with them the uprooted woods from the coasts on high, then throwing them down and sinking them in the waters below. 57 Cities were seen rolling with a tremendous noise in the waters below. No traces of houses or towers or any human homes were found beneath.

58 As chaotic night was thus wandering at random, the sun and moon, with their light and shade, found shelter in the tops of her nails where they sparkled like threads of gold. 59 She was clad in the blue covering of the clouds, adorned with necklaces of frost and icicles. Worlds hung about her like the trickling dewdrops of her perspiration. 60 The blue sky formed a veil about her head, the infernal region her footstool, the earth her bowels, and the several sides were so many arms on her. 61 The seas and their islands formed the cavities and pimples on her body. Hills and rocks made her rib bones and the winds of heaven were her vital airs.

62 As she continued her dancing, huge mountains and rocks swung and reeled about her gigantic body like her attendant satellites. 63 Mountain trees turning around her appeared to weave garlands and dance about, congratulating her for commencing a new kalpa cycle. 64 Gods and demigods, hairless serpents and worms, and all hairy bodies are only component parts of her body. Being unable to remain motionless while she is in motion, they all turned round with her.

65 She weaves the three-fold cord of the sacred thread, consisting of acts, sacrifices and knowledge, which she proclaims aloud in the thundering voice of the triple Vedas. 66 Before her, there is no heaven or earth. One becomes the other by its constant rotation like the wheel of a vehicle. 67 Her wide open nostrils constantly breathe out harsh currents of her breath which give rise to the winds of air and their loud roaring and whistling. 68 Her hundred-fold arms revolving in all four directions give the sky the appearance of a forest filled with the tall heads of trees and their branches, shaken by a furious tornado in the air.

69 At last my steady eyesight grew tired seeing the varieties of productions from her body and their movements resembling the manners of an army in warfare. 70 Mountains were seen rolling as if by an engine and the cities of the celestials fell downward. All these appearances were observed to take place in the mirror of her person. 71 Meru Mountains were torn and carried away like branches of trees and the Malayas were tossed about like flying leaves. The Himalayas fell down like dewdrops and all earthly things were scattered like straw. 72 Hills and rocks fled away and the Vindya Mountains flew like aerials in the air. Forests rolled in whirlpools and stars floated in the sea of heaven like swans and geese in lakes below. 73 Islands floated like straws in the ocean of her body and seas were worn like a bracelet on her. The homes of the gods were like lotus flowers blooming in the large lake of her person.

74 As we see the images of cities in our dream and a fair sky light in the darkness of night, so I saw all things in her dark body as vividly as if shining in broad daylight. 75 All things, even immovable such as mountains, seas and trees, appeared moving and dancing in her body. 76 Wandering worlds danced in the great circle of her spacious body as if they were mere straw in the vast ocean of creation. Thus the sea rolled on mountains and high hills pierced the hollow of heaven above. This heaven, with its sun and moon, turned below the earth. The earth with all its islands, mountains, cities, forests and flower gardens danced in heaven around the sun. 77 Mountains wandered in the surrounding sky and the sea passed beyond the horizon. Cities and all human houses traversed the skies. Rivers and lakes passed through other regions like objects reflecting themselves in different mirrors or like a storm-tossed branch is hurled far away. 78 Fish glided in the desert air as they swam in the watery plain. Cities were situated in empty air as firmly as if fixed on solid earth. Clouds raised waters to heaven, then were driven back by winds to pour their waters on mountain tops.

79 Groups of stars wandered about like lights from a thousand lamps in the sky. They seemed to shed gems with their rays as they rolled, or scatter flowers from all sides on the heads of gods and aerial beings. 80 Creations and destructions accompanied her like fleeting days and nights, or like jewels of brilliant black gems on her body. They were like two fortnights resembling her white and black wings. 81 The sun and moon were the two bright gems on her body and clusters of stars formed her necklaces of lesser gems. The clear sky was her white dress and flashes of lightning formed the brocaded fringes of her garment. 82 As she danced her giddy dance of destruction, she threw worlds together under her feet like anklets, making a jingling sound like that of her trinkets.

83 In her warfare with the jarring elements, rolling on like waves of the ocean and darkening the daylight as by the waving swords of warriors, she listened to the tumult of all the worlds and their peoples. 84 The gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, together with the rulers of sun, moon and fire and all other gods and demigods who shine in their respective offices, were all made to fly before like a flight of gnats with the speed of lightning.

85 Her body is a collection of conflicting elements and contrary principles: creation and destruction, existence and non-existence, happiness and misery, life and death, and all injunctions and prohibitions. 86 The various states of production and existence, and the continuance of action and motion and their cessation which appear to take place in her body, as they do in all physical beings, together with the earth’s revolution and all other worlds in empty air, are all only false delusions of our minds because there is nothing in reality except a boundless emptiness. 87 Life and death, peace and trouble, joy and sorrow, war and truce, anger and fear, envy and enmity, faith and distrust and all other opposite feelings accompany this worldly life. They dwell together in the same body like gems stored in a chest.

88 The intellectual sphere of her body abounds with ideas of multifarious worlds which appear like phantoms in the air, or like fallacies of vision to a dim sighted man. 89 Whether the world is unmoving in the intellect or a passing phenomenon of outward vision, it appears both as stable and as moving, like the reflection of objects in a revolving mirror. 90 All worldly objects fluctuate like the changing shows in a magic play. They forsake their forms and assume others as quickly as the fickle desires of whimsical children are ever shifting from one object to another.

91 Combinations of causal powers cause the production of bodies. Their separation effects their dissolution. In the same way, accumulation of grain makes a granary and their removal tends to its disappearance.

92 The goddess now appears in one form, then in another. Now she becomes as small as a thumb, then in a moment she fills the sky. 93 That goddess is all in all. She is changed through everything in world. She is the cosmos itself and also the power of the intellect. She fills the whole curved hallow vault of the sky with her form of pure emptiness. 94 She is the intellect that embraces all, whatever is contained in the three worlds and in all three times. She expands the worlds contained in her, like a painter draws figures pictured in his mind. 95 She is the all comprehensive and plastic nature or form of all things. Being one with the intellectual spirit, she is equally as calm and quiet as the other. Being thus uniform in her nature, she is changed to endless forms in the twinkling of her eye. 96 All these phenomena appear in her like lotuses and carved figures marked in a hollow stone. Her body is the hollow sphere of heaven. Her mind is full of all forms appearing like waves in the depth of sea, or like objects reflected in a crystal stone.

97 The very furious goddess Bhairavi, the consort of the dreaded god Bhairava, the lord of destruction, was thus dancing about with her fierce forms filling the whole firmament. 98 On one side the earth was burning with fire issuing from the eye on the forehead of all destroying Rudra. On the other was his consort Rudrani, dancing like a forest blown away by a hurricane. 99 She was armed with many weapons, such as a spade, a mortar and pestle, a club, a mace, and others which adorned her body like a garland of flowers. 100 In this manner, she danced and scattered the flowers of her garlands all around in her acts of destructions and recreation. 101 She hailed god Bhairava, the ruler of the skies, who joined her dancing with his form as big and tall as hers.

102 May god Bhairava with his associate goddess Kalaratri (Chaotic Night) preserve you all in their act of heroic dance, with the beating of loud drums and the blowing of their buffalo horn, as they drink their bowls of blood and are adorned with wreaths of flowers hanging down from their heads to the breasts.