1 Rama asked, “Tell me sage, why is Goddess Kali said to be dancing about? Why is she armed with axe and other weapons and decorated with wreaths of flowers?
2 Vasishta replied:—
The vacuum of consciousness is called both Shiva and Bhairava. It is this intellectual power that is called Kali and its consorting mind. 3 As wind is one with its vibratory energy, and fire is identical with its heat, so consciousness is identical with its vibratory energy. 4 As wind is invisible even in its act of vibratory motion, and heat is unseen even in its act of burning, so consciousness is imperceptible in spite of its acting. Therefore consciousness is called Shiva, the calm and quiet.
5 It is because of the wonderful power of Shiva’s vibration that he is known to us, and without which we could have no knowledge of his existence. Know this Shiva is the all powerful Brahman, who is otherwise a motionless being, unknowable even by the learned. 6 His vibration is the power of his will which has spread out this visible appearance, just as the will of an embodied, living man builds a city according to his thought. 7 The will of Shiva creates all this world from its formless state. This creative power is the Intelligence of God and the intellect of living being.
8 This power also takes the form of nature in her formation of creation. She is called creation she assumes on herself the representation of the phenomenal world. 9 She is represented with a crest of undersea fire on her head and to be dry and withered in her body. She is said to be a fury on account of her furiousness, and called the lotus form from the blue lotus-like complexion of her body.
10 She is called Jaya and Siddha because she is accompanied by victory and prosperity at all times. 11 She is also called Aparajita (invincible), Virya (mighty) and Durga (inaccessible). She is also called Uma because she is composed of the powers of the three letters of the mystic syllable Aum. 12 She is called the Gayatri hymn because it is chanted by everybody, and Savitri also from her being the progenitor of all beings. She is also named Saraswati because she gives us an insight into whatever appears before our sight. 13 She bears the name of Gauri because of her fair complexion and Bhavani because she is the source of all beings and because of her association with the body of Bhava, or Shiva. She is also called the letter A in Aum to signify her being the vital breath of all waking and sleeping bodies.
14 Uma also means the digit of the moon on the forehead of Shiva which enlightens the worlds. The bodies of God Shiva and Goddess Uma are both painted blue and black because they represent the two hemispheres of heaven. 15 The sky appears dark and bright from the two complexions of these gods who are situated in empty forms in the space of the great emptiness itself.
16 Though they are formless as empty airs, yet they are conceived as the first-born of the void. They are figuratively attributed with more or less hands and feet and holding as many weapons in them. 17 Now know the reason why they attribute many weapons and instruments to the goddess. It is no more than showing her as the patron of all arts and their employments.
18 She is identical with the Supreme Soul. She is its power of self meditation from all eternity. She assumes the shapes of the acts of sacred ablutions, religions, sacrifices, and holy gifts as her primal forms in Vedas. 19 She is of the form of the blue sky, comely in appearance. She is the beauty of phenomena. She is the motion of all objects and the varieties of their movements are the various modes of her dancing. 20 She is the agent of Brahma in his laws of the birth, decay and deaths of beings. All villages, cities, mountains and islands hang on her agency like a string of gems about her neck.
21 She holds together all parts of the world by her power of attraction and infuses her force as momentum as if into the different parts of her body. She bears the various names of Kali, Kalika and others according to her various functions. 22 As the one great body of the cosmos, she links together all its parts like her limbs to her heart and moves them all about her, though this formless body of force has never been seen or known by anybody.
23 Know this ever vibrating power is never different or unconnected from the quiet motionless spirit of Shiva the changeless god. The fluctuating winds are never apart from the calm vacuum in which they abide and vibrate forever. 24 The world is a display of the glory of God, just as moonlight is a manifestation of the brightness of the moon which is otherwise dark and obscure. So the Lord God is ever tranquil and quiet without any change or decay in his works. 25 There is not the least shadow of fluctuation in the Supreme Soul. It is the action of this agency that appears to be moving us.
26 The tranquil spirit of the god Shiva is that which returns itself from action and reposes in its understanding apart from its goddess, the active energy which possesses the intellect. 27 The intellect resting in its natural state of understanding is called Shiva. The active energy of intellectual power is what passes under the name of the great goddess of action.
28 That bodiless power assumes the imaginary forms of these worlds with all the peoples that are visible in daylight. 29 This power supports the earth with all its seas and islands, and its forests, deserts and mountains. It maintains the Vedas, scriptures, sciences and the hymns with its limbs. 30 It ordains the injunctions and prohibitions and gives the rules of auspicious and inauspicious acts and rites. It directs sacrifices and sacrificial fires and the modes of offering cakes and oblations. 31 This goddess is adorned with sacrificial implements, like the mortar and pestle, and the post and ladle. She is also carries many weapons of warfare such as the spear, arrows, lance, 32 mace and many throwing weapons, accompanied by horse and elephants and valiant gods. In short she fills the fourteen worlds and occupies the earth with all its seas and islands.
33 Rama said, “I ask you sage, to tell me now whether the thoughts of creation in the Divine Mind existed in the Divine Soul, or they were incorporated in the forms of Rudra and which are false and fictitious?”
34 Vasishta replied:—
Rama, she is truly the power of the Intellect, as you have rightly said. Everything that she thinks is all true as her thoughts. 35 Thoughts that are subjective and imprinted in the inner intellect are never untrue, just as the reflection of our face cast in a mirror cannot be a false shadow.
36 Those thoughts are false which enter into the mind from without, such as the physical body. These fallacies are removed upon our right reflection and by means of our sound judgment. 37 But in my opinion, the firm belief of the human soul in anything whatever is reckoned as true by everyone. The picture of a thing in a mirror, the representations of things seen in a dream, and the creatures of our imagination are all taken as true and real by everyone for the time, and for their usefulness to him.
38 But you may object and say that things that are absent and at a distance from you are no way useful to you. Yet they cannot be said to be nonexistent or unreal because they come to use when they are present before us. 39 As the productions of a distant country become of use when they are presented before us, so the objects of our dreams and thoughts are equally true and useful when they are present in view. So also every idea of a definite shape and meaning is a certain reality.
40 As an object or its action seen by anyone is believed to be true by its observer, whatever thought passes in his mind is thought to be true by him. But nothing seen or thought of by another is ever believed by someone else as true to him. 41 Therefore, the embryo of the creation is contained forever in the power of Divine Consciousness. The entire universe is ever existent in the Divine Soul and it is wholly unknown to others. 42 All that is past, present, and ever to be in future, together with all desires and thoughts of others forever really exist in the Divine Spirit, else it would not be the Universal Soul.
43 Only adepts in yoga practice acquire the power of looking into others’ hearts and minds, just as others come to see different countries by traveling over the barriers of hills and valleys. 44 As the dream of a man fallen into deep sleep is not disturbed by moving his bed, so the fixed thought of anyone is never lost by his moving from place to place. 45 So the movements of Kali’s dancing body cause no fluctuation in the world that is contained within it, just as the shaking of a mirror makes no alternation in the reflection which is cast upon it.
46 The great bustle and commotion of the world, though seeming real to all appearance, yet is only a mere delusion in sober reality. It was delusion whether it moves or not. 47 When is the city seen in our dream said to be a true and when is it pronounced as false? When is it said to exist and when destroyed? 48 Know the phenomenal world exposed before you is only mere illusion. It is your sheer fallacy to see unreal phenomena as sure realities. 49 Know that your conception of the reality of the three worlds is as false as the aerial castle of your imagination or the air-drawn city of your fond desire. It is like the vision in your dream, or any conception of your error.
50 The endless error that tightly binds the mind forever is “I” the subjective and the other is the objective world. It is a gross mistake like that of the ignorant who believe the endless sky to be bounded and take it for blue. The learned are released from this blunder.