Kālī Māyī

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:
Kālī Māyī

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The Aghorīs are one of the most enigmatic of all Hindu ascetic sects. Throughout North India, they are infamous for their extremely transgressive practices, which fly in the face of Brahmanical Hinduism's obsessive concern with ritual purity. The Aghorīs act out their denial of the distinction between spirit and substance, purity and pollution, by ingesting any form of food or intoxicant, engaging in a variety of sexual practices, ritually or otherwise, and allegedly meditating on dead bodies in cremation ground rites. Although they call themselves Śaivites, Aghorīs are nonetheless inextricably bound to the Goddess. This chapter focuses on a mysterious, spiritually masterful, and yet vulnerable Kālī in the form of a living incarnation. Kālī Māyī is an old woman, living in poverty, who acts as the priest in a small Kālī Māyī temple in Banaras. Although she is the catalyst for several transformative events in the author's life, Kālī Māyī is the victim of a local goonda, and it is the author herself, in an enraged and sympathetic response, who embodies the Goddess's compassionate revenge.

Keywords: Aghorīs; Banaras; India; Kālī Māyī; Hinduism; Kālī; revenge

Chapter.  9825 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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