Thursday, November 24, 2022

Vivekananda: Kali The Mother

Samhara Kali 

by Raja Ravi Varma

Swami Vivekananda wrote his poem Kali The Mother, on 24 September 1898, while he was staying in Srinagar, in a houseboat on Dal Lake.  The poem is a prayer to Goddess Kali (the ferocious form of Mahakali), the ultimate deity of Shaktism, the mother of all living beings, and the Goddess of power, time, and the destruction of demonic forces. 

Vivekananda became a worshipper of Kali in 1886, after the death of his guru Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Sister Nivedita, who had accompanied Vivekananda to Srinagar, has said that on the day when he wrote the poem, Vivekananda had visited Srinagar’s Kheer Bhawani temple and was in a “fever of imagination.” He was feeling impatient till he had penned his thoughts. Nivedita was herself a devotee of Kali. Her first book on Hinduism, bearing the same title as Vivekananda’s poem, was published in 1900.

Here’s Vivekananda’s poem, Kali The Mother:

The stars are blotted out,
The clouds are covering clouds.
It is darkness vibrant, sonant.
In the roaring, whirling wind
Are the souls of a million lunatics
Just loosed from the prison-house,
Wrenching trees by the roots,
Sweeping all from the path.

The sea has joined the fray,
And swirled up mountain-waves,
To reach the pitchy sky.
The flash of lurid light
Reveals on every side
A thousand, thousand shades
Of Death begrimed and black-
Scattering plagues and sorrows,
Dancing mad with joy,
Come, Mother, come!

For terror is Thy name,
Death is in thy breath,
And every shaking step
Destroys a world for e'er.
Thou Time, the All-destroyer!
Come, O Mother, come!

Who dares misery love,
And hug the form of Death,
Dance in destruction's dance
To him the Mother comes.

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