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Siva, Kali and Indian terms/gods

Path: Supernews69!!not-for-mail
From: (nagasiva)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.tantra,,talk.religion.misc,alt.pagan,talk.religion.newage
Subject: Siva, Kali and Indian terms/gods
Date: 9 Jul 1997 16:58:06 -0700
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49970701 aa2 Hail Satan!  Hail Siva!!

om krim nama kaliya

as always, I make no claims toward traditional associations, being eclectic
and iconoclastic in nature.  take what I say as that which I have learned
from reading about the tantra of others, from my own experience and from
studies with an entity I know as 'Kali'.

[from private email: perm received for public posting]

to the heart of it then.

#>#What does "nagasiva" mean?

#>...literally it is a Sanskrit word
#>meaning 'siva of the nagas'.  siva is an Indian deity among monks and others
#>and nagas are serpentine entities of varying power and character.  I notice
#>in the iconography of Kali, to whom I am dedicated, that siva is typically
#>covered in snakes.

#...Do you also know what the snakes typically represent?  

snakes symbolize many things.  transformative power, magical ability,
sometimes the phallus, wisdom or knowledge, deceptive slyness, illusion
and duplicity, initiation.

#...what do they think of this siva deity?  

monks of India think of siva as their god, pre-eminent among ascetics,
the master of magic and power (siddha), the masculine active, symbolized
by the lingam or phallus, whose partner and feminine counterpart is
Kali or other forms of Sakti such as Parvati or Uma, whose magical weapon
is the trident, whose power animal is the bull named Nandi, who sometimes
keeps the worship of Vishnu in response to Vishnu's responding worship,
who with Kali are known as gods of destruction, dwelling in the cremation
grounds covered in ash, in the mountain forests dancing and hemp-smeared,
whose dreads are mammoth, whose sons include Ganesha or Skandha.

others think of him as a demon or asura, a radical yogi with magic power 
out to destroy all of creation, wearing human bones, human and/or tiger 
skins and consuming human flesh, whose meditative eye opens and blasts 
the cosmos into complete dissolution!

#What do the snakes represent to you?  

snakes - magic beings of ancient and primordial power, snakes are to me
the symbol of the energies of my body and of deep consciousness, power 
encoiled and engaged through a harmonizing with Terra, children of the 
water dragon or naga....

nagas - fantastic earth spirits whose countenance and depth extend
beyond the range of human comprehension, reputed to have secured the
advanced instructions of the Buddha until human beings were ready to
receive it and the mysteries of the mahasiddhas or great masters of
yoga, often dwelling in waters deep and calm, streams, lakes, seas, 
in fabulous palaces.  nagas serve the power of the wild and 
protect the ancient wisdom (tantra).

#And what does the word "nagasiva" mean to you?  

born of naga and human, siva of the nagas straddles both worlds as 
a bridge and emissary, agent of transformation and clarion of the 
message Kali and the earth demons send forth in their agitation,
compassionate and dedicated to Her, siva of the nagas lays before
the feet of Kali in Her dance of final destruction, securing their
eternal unification and becoming the first sacrifice to Her black
angry ways, inspiring the veneration of nature and appeasing Kali's
wrath, communicating the power of earth magic in exchange for 
sincere dedication to wild nature (Satan).

#Does it describe the way you see yourself?  

sometimes.  I have never been asked to reflect on it in this way 
before.  yours is therefore an initiatory question.  typically my 
focus is on Kali, not myself or siva.

#Or is it something else?  

sometimes my epitome, the myth or psychic pattern from which my
life is wrought, sometimes my reflection in a magic mirror.

#Am I blabby this morning or what? 

given those choices, I would select 'what'.  your incisive 
questions demonstrate a keen mind in tune with sakti.

#Sorry for all the questions.

I bow before you (nama) in your perfection (ste).


#Have a great day,

you have secured it as such.  thank you.

tyagi (monk)


49970702 aa2 Hail Satan!  Hail Siva!  Hail Kali!

#Yes!  Thank you for being such an excellent listener, Tyagi.  I love going
#to the heart of things and it is just what I was hoping you would do.  I
#appreciate your taking the time to help me find my answers here.

you offer me a real self-reflection (or at least a reflection on the
most exalted description in my life path via name).  your ability to
ask questions is more valuable than anyone's ability to answer them,
as I see it.

#>#...what do they think of this Siva deity?  
#>monks of India think of Siva as their god, pre-eminent among ascetics,
#>the master of magic and power (siddha), the masculine active, symbolized
#>by the lingam or phallus, whose partner and feminine counterpart is
#>Kali or other forms of Sakti such as Parvati or Uma,
#A male god with a feminine counterpart?  Cool.  Would you please help me to
#understand the words Sakti, Kali, Parvati and Uma?  

we're now approaching the limitations of my familiarity.  especially by
those who worship Siva-Sakti (often 'saktas' or 'saktis') the term 'sakti'
which literally translates as 'power' is implied as 'the power of the god'
and sometimes becomes a functionary of the specific Indian deity to which
She is appendage.  I would say this fairly describes Sita as Rama's
'sakti' (Rama is an avatar or manifestation of Visnu described at least
in _The Ramayana_).

often the various goddesses are thus taken to be emanations or specific
manifestations of a central 'Sakti', a goddess who provides pairing for
all the male Indian gods.  there is an old story about 'Durga' (roughly
'the Great Goddess' of some Indian literature) and how the gods like
Siva and Visnu and others appealed to Her to defend them, so She
manifested in manifold form as their power or sakti.  I don't think it
is easily clarified or reconciled within the vast Indian corpus, and
modern re-interpretation (of which some may have misinformed my review)
seems to unify and consolidate where it may not at all be warranted.

the gods of India are described by scholars at times as existing within
two real traditions: the 'Greater' (or more expansive or universal) 
tradition which contains the Trimurti (Siva/Visnu/Brahma) and quite
possibly other major thematic correlates like Durga, and the 'Lesser'
or more regional tradition which varies so tremendously that it is
really difficult to say anything beyond describing what any one
specific village or province seems to believe about the particular god
of their favor, this god perhaps having some elements in common with
the described gods of the Greater tradition.  

thus we may have a goddess of a village or clan who will a name,
like 'Bhairavi', which is regionally accurate.  this goddess might
may well share featuers of the goddess Kali, for example, and yet
greatly divurge based on local customs and preferences.  the Greater
tradition is a kind of derivation from this confluence of lesser
geographic expanse.  

for this reason people sometimes mistake the Greater for the *only*
religion of India without understanding the true diversity present.
note that I have never been to India, have spoken to few Indians,
and am mostly relaying information I have obtained in books and films.

with all that said, 'Sakti' is popularly known as 'the Goddess'
among many tantrics in a sort of generic sense, sometimes 
equating to a kind of energy without personality (such as when
Her gurus provide what they call 'saktipat' -- unsure of literal
meaning -- to their chelas; or when speaking of 'kundalini', a
serpentine interior energy which can be awakened and manipulated
by the adept and is presumed to be one's own sakti or the specific
manifestation of Sakti in the body).  sometimes all preconceived 
'feminine' aspects of the cosmos are identified with Sakti, in a
massive polarity for saktas between Siva and Sakti as both
personal entitites and dynamic components of the world.

the other names I mentioned appear to be less metaphysical in
their reference, deriving from Indian scripture, often regarding
the consorts or wives of Siva (these are probably most often 
mentioned in what are called 'the Tantras', important instructions 
and stories, usually provided from Siva to His consort and highly
regarded by Saivites -- worshippers of Siva).  

Parvati is usually the model housewife, Uma appears to be a more
disciplined and ascetic consort who lures Siva back from His
abandonment in hemp-suffused indulgence, and as far as I know,
Kali is simultaneously described as paired with Siva and a
goddess on Her own (Parvati and Uma appear to be rather
completely Siva-associated).  

as the latter has Her own extensive tradition behind Her in a 
manner comparable if not quite so massive as that of Siva, aside
from the brief and biased mention of Her below I would refer you 
to more reliable resources on both of them than myself, such as 
Western scholars of Indian religion like Kinsley or more
specialized (and therefore less reliable :>) dedicants like
Ramakrishna or Muktananda.

#>whose magical weapon
#>is the trident, whose power animal is the bull named Nandi, who sometimes
#>keeps the worship of Vishnu in response to Vishnu's responding worship,
#Who is Vishnu?

Vishnu (or Visnu, the s being pronounced roughly like an sh -- this is 
why you'll see 'Shakti/Sakti', 'Krishna/Krisna', 'Shiva/Siva', 
'Vishnu/Visnu', and many other Sanskrit words acquire variety in 
translation) is known popularly (within at least the Greater tradition as 
identified by scholars of religion) as 'the Preserver', and makes up one
third of what is popularly known (by monists? :>) as 'the Trimurti'
along with Brahma (the Creator, not to be confused with 'brahman',
which is a variable metaphysical term though it may be related) and
Siva (the Destroyer).  Visnu is often described as manifesting in
the world as an 'avatar', and the most popular of these appear to be
Rama (_The Ramayana_, possibly other scriptures) and Krisna (_The 
Bhagavad Gita_, and surely other scriptures).

#>who with Kali are known as gods of destruction,
#What do they destroy?  And why?

this is a matter of some debate among the dedicated.  typically the
yogi or devotee/chela will describe what is destroyed as something 
which is an *obstacle* to the chela as a kind of gift.  thus 
Kali is described, for example, as destroying 'demons/asuras', 
often understood as adversarial energies inside or outside the
mind/body.  sometimes the gods are said to provide a liberating
destruction of the obstacle of the 'small I' or 'ego' in the
sense of limited social persona.  more rarely they are said to
destroy ontological or metaphysical things such as one's karma
(action related to moral or metaphysical condition) or even the
obstacles hindering the attainment of one's desires.

there are some of us who are more daring than this (or simply
instructed differently by our sources for whatever reason) who
will also identify the target of destruction as including
items which are valued.  this can range anywhere from objects
to which we are too strongly attached or even the devotee
hirself (Kali will kill me as I understand it), to the 
complete destruction of the entire cosmos (whether as prelude
to a subsequent re-creation, as I prefer it, something final).

you can sort of figure based on my descriptions above why it
might be that the gods destroy the items described.  at times
it is for the benefit of the devotee, at times it is at the
whim of the god, at times it is because they are pissed, as
when in one story Siva is said to have calmed Kali's wrathful
exuberance by laying at Her feet while if He had not done so
it would have led to the destruction of all known things (the
Dance of the Destruction of the Universe).  it varies alot,
and due to the controversy *about* destruction, perhaps you
can see why.

#>others think of him as a demon or asura, a radical yogi with magic power 
#>out to destroy all of creation, wearing human bones, human and/or tiger 
#>skins and consuming human flesh, whose meditative eye opens and blasts 
#>the cosmos into complete dissolution!
#Leave it to a man to blast away. (Hahahahahahaha.  Sorry.  I couldn't pass
#it up.)  What happens when Kali's eye opens? (When my meditative eye opens
#the cosmos just seems to dissolve peacefully. ;-))

almost without except I have known Kali to be depicted with Her eye
already opened.  perhaps it was Her eye (kteis/yoni/vagina) opening 
which created all things.  sometimes esoterically the 'Eye of Siva'
is simultaneously inferred to describe the third eye on the forehead 
and the aperture of the urethra on the penis, though I'm sure this 
last interpretation is more controversial.

#...I love water and wild things, don't you?

as with all things I prefer moderation.  :>  too much water and I will
drown.  too much wildness and my life will become threatened.  in general
I support the restoration to uncontaminated water and as much wilderness
as we can manage, even should this prove difficult and/or dangerous or 
costly to humans.

re nagasiva and what the word means to me:
#>agent of transformation and clarion of the 
#>message Kali and the earth demons send forth in their agitation,
#>compassionate and dedicated to Her, Siva of the nagas lays before
#>the feet of Kali in Her dance of final destruction, securing their
#>eternal unification and becoming the first sacrifice to Her black
#>angry ways, inspiring the veneration of nature and appeasing Kali's
#>wrath, communicating the power of earth magic in exchange for 
#>sincere dedication to wild nature (Satan).
#Why is Kali angry?

She is sometimes called 'the Mad Mother'.  this has implications on 
Her emotion and for psychospiritual state, as well as the ability
of the devotee to make sense of Her actions/instructions.  why She
is angry seems to vary greatly.  typically She is described as
justly upset in a battle-frenzy while defending Her devotees or 
Durga from the nasty asuras/demons.  sometimes She is attributed
anger on account of not being properly worshipped or abused in some 
fashion (priests not observing proper rites, monks who take Her
worship too lightly, etc.).  

I tend to think that Kali is seen as angry because people have this
perception of Terra, and especially the Earth Goddess, implying a
(justifiable) adversarial relationship with their natural 
surroundings and the beings with whom we live.  given the careless
and violent attitudes of human beings, particularly of the industrial
West, it is understandable that if Kali is somehow associated with the
defense of the wild She may be righteously angry at the massive
despoilage now taking place.  this may also relate to childhood
memories of experiencing maternal frustration and anger or in
reflection of a female of any species protecting Her young.

generally I think people (myself inclusive) may understand Her to 
be 'mad' in the sense of 'insane' because we have lost touch with
ourselves and our surroundings to such an extent that we can neither 
concoct a rational explanation for nor empathize with the variety 
of natural events we may interpret as originating from Her will
(Kali is sometimes associated fairly directly with disease,
storms and other uncontrollable natural dangers as we come
to perceive them, for example).

#>...typically my focus is on Kali, not myself or Siva.
#Siva of the nagas' focus can be said to be on Kali too, can it not?

I'm unsure of that.  I have not had insight into that as yet.  I have
never seen description, for example, of the motivation or focus on
Kali to which the Siva of nagas depicted in blatant Kali-related iconography
may relate.  that within the Siva-Sakti pair inclusive of Siva-Kali
He is entranced by contemplation of Her is unquestioned.  whether He 
changes relation with Her is at issue.  alone typically Siva is described 
as much more self-absorbed (often meditatively).  it would not surprise 
me if there were descriptions of Siva which include naga-relationship 
which have very little if anything to do with Kali.

#>sometimes my epitome, the myth or psychic pattern from which my
#>life is wrought, sometimes my reflection in a magic mirror.
#"Sometimes my reflection in a magic mirror"?  What a beautiful and musical
#way of putting it.  I like listening in on your mind like this.  It's
#especially fascinating, imeo.  Thanks for taking the time to reflect on my
#questions and send me your thoughts.     

thank you for your compliments and attentions.  it displays the bounty
of your heart and the generosity of your spirit.

#P.S. What does "om krim nama kali" mean?

I am a poor translator but have intended that it convey the sense of
an adulatory and magical phrase of worship to Kali.  literally I would
translate 'nama kali' in a manner like 'namaste', being that I bow
before the perfection (or divinity) of Kali.  'om' is a cosmic word
of tremendous power and popularity indicating a great many things
inclusive of the creation, destruction and silence of the cosmos.
'krim' is traditionally known as a 'seed syllable' or 'bindu mantram'
in association with Kali in particular.  it may afford or imply a
greater familiarity with the goddess or be a reflection on the center
of the devotee in a manner which 'om' functions on an entirety.

jai kali!
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