कालिकायै विद्महे श्मशानवासिन्यै धीमहि
तन्नो घोरा प्रचोदयात्।I was thinking of posting an article about Upasana/Sadhana of Maa Kali in the web site. A long unfulfilled promise.
I will now post a series about Kali Upasana, Kali Mantras and also trace the history of Kali worship in India.
Kali is worshiped all over India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. There is a mistaken impression that Kali worship is confined to eastern India. This is far from true.
We hear of Kali worship from the times of Kalidasa the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language
His famous poem on Mother Kali is Shymala Dhandakam
You can find an English translation here.
Some of you especially from South India may shout now. "Stop. Shymala Dhandakam is about Saraswathi and not Kali. I know the poem. My grandmother used to recite it. It is very popular in South India."
Yes. It is very popular in South India and is known as a poem on Saraswati. But that information is wrong. The above quoted translation is by a Tamil Brahmin. See his comments. Then Kalidasa who called himself as Kali's servant would be writing about Kali and not Saraswati. The term Shymala means dark colored one. We also call Maa Kali, Shyama. Pray when did Saraswati become dark in color? She is portrayed as fair in color in all other slokas.
Matha marakatha shyama as Kalidasa calls her.
Of course there is another theory that Shyamala is Matangi or Raja Matangi. But there is nothing to indicate that Kalidasa was a worshipper of Raja Matangi.
Maa Kali is well known for bestowing her Upasakas with Kavithvam or the ability to compose poems. There are slokas for that. About that later.
Again Kalidasa lived during the period of King Vikramaditya. We all know the stories of Vikramaditya, his minister Bhatti and of course the famous Vethaal. Vikramaditya was again a worshipper of Maa Kali. The stories are full of magical powers (Ashtama Siddhi) and Kali Upasana is well known for getting Astama Siddhi.
The place of birth of Kalidasa and Vikramaditya viz. Ujjain has played a major role in the spread of Kali worship.
By the way The mantra that Kalidasa reportedly used was the Shadakshari (six lettered ) Mantra
क्रीं - क्रीं -हुं - हुं - ह्रीं - ह्रीं