Dominating Kālī

Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey J. Kripal

in Encountering Kālī

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780520232396
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928176 | DOI:
Dominating Kālī

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In 1991, the authors investigated the meanings that Oriya Hindus living in the temple town of Bhubaneswar attach to a particular Tantric icon of the goddess Kālī—the one in which the Goddess is depicted with her eyes bulging and tongue out, equipped with the weapons and emblems of all the male gods, grasping a bloody decapitated head, and with her foot placed squarely on the chest of a supine Śiva. This chapter suggests that this unmistakably Tantric icon with its emphatic, extreme representation of female power has been almost completely assimilated into mainstream Hinduism as it is practiced today in Bhubaneswar. The icon is used to uphold Hindu family values, especially those encouraging female self-control and self-restraint. The chapter also argues that an Oriya text, dating back to the fifteenth century—the Candzī Purāna—provided the conceptual framework for a creative interpretation of this Tantric icon, an interpretation that has today become a powerful way of persuading listeners of the importance of respectful self-restraint in maintaining social relations and preserving harmony within the family.

Keywords: Kālī; Hinduism; family values; Bhubaneswar; Oriya Hindus; Tantric icon; female power; self-control; self-restraint; Candzī Purāna

Chapter.  8195 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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