In Praise of Adya Kali: Approaching the Primordial Dark Goddess Through the Song of Her Hundred Names

In Praise of Adya Kali: Approaching the Primordial Dark Goddess Through the Song of Her Hundred Names

by Aditi Devi


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This book details the goddess Kali and the culture of devotion to her in West Bengal and South Asia. The term Adya means primal, original or archean. Adya Kali is the primordial energy, the shakti, that creates, preserves, and transforms/dissolves all existence. She is the womb that births all, and the tomb that swallows all.
In Praise of Adya Kali is different from most contemporary books about Kali because it offers a liturgy of worship, a type of spiritual practice (sadhana) that the reader (both male and female) can use over the course of days, weeks, or months, to cultivate a direct devotional relationship to Kali. But, beyond that, In Praise of Adya Kali is a context-setting guide. Rather than simply recommending that we recite these sacred names, each one a prayer, the author establishes this practice as a general orientation to life. Furthermore, and most compelling, the text and Commentaries on this liturgy contain an intimate revelation of how the goddess establishes herself in her devotees' bodies and thus intervenes, by unconditional love and acceptance, in their lives.
A lengthy Introduction, both scholarly and personal, describes the goddess and the possibilities that these prayers will offer. Aditi Devi guides us in how to build a shrine to Kali, various types of offerings to make to her, and suggests a schedule for how to use this liturgy with a long-term commitment over the course of 108 nights.
This book presents a serious practice, not for the faint-hearted. It requires courage, strength and joy to permit the goddess's energy to slowly, sensuously and irrevocably be invoked-conceived, allowed to gestate, birthed according to her will. And while the orientation here is toward realizing her sacred presence in the "womb” of the devotee, the practice can be undertaken by anyone. The physical form of the body is not a limitation, as the author notes: "In this lineage we practice into the depths of whatever form we have, & arise from within that, knowing that we are her, male or female. This Song of the Hundred Names is a powerful teaching that all forms are her forms.” Male, female or other gendered, we are presented with the possibility to experience the depths of our own internal feminine energies & thereby come into greater healing & wholeness, more readily able to express this often neglected part of ourselves.
Aditi Devi's long study & spiritual practice within living tantric lineages in South Asia has made this book possible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935387541
Publisher: Hohm Press
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

began the study & practice of South Asian Tantric traditions over 24 years ago. As an initiated yogini, ritualist, and lineage holder, she is authorized to teach the Kali Practices focusing on the reverence of women as embodiments of the divine. Aditi earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology and was a Fulbright scholar and college professor before turning full-time towards the ways of the yoginis and dakinis. Based in Boulder, Colorado, USA, she teaches privately, offers regular Kali Puja and Kirtan, yoga, meditation, and has established The Shala: A Classical Tantric Mystery School.

Read an Excerpt

This Song, which praises the goddess Kali, consists of her hundred names, each of which begins with the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, ka. The names themselves are a sublime garland of flowers that we devotees offer at her feet by reciting them out loud, one by one, in front of a shrine dedicated to Adya Kali. This book, In Praise of Adya Kali, is the source of support for you to deepen your relationship with Kali and for the study, practice, and contemplation of the Song of the Hundred Names of Adya Kali. Your devotion, curiosity, and willingness are all you need to begin. Here you will find instructions for building a shrine to Adya Kali, developing a spiritual practice (including the actual liturgy), and daily Contemplations focusing on each name, which can be used as a meditation in conjunction with undertaking a daily (or nightly) recitation of the liturgy.

This can be a communal practice, and while you may not personally know others who are reciting the Song, I assure you that there are yoginis and yogis all over the world who are doing this same practice right now. You are not alone.

This liturgy is found in Chapter Seven of the Mahanirvana Tantra and is sometimes referred to as the AdyaKali svarapa stotram. In some of the English-language literature, this liturgy is also sometimes referred to as the Tantrik Hymn to Kali or The Hundred Names of Goddess Kali.

The recitation of this liturgy can be undertaken by anyone (man or woman) who has a hunger to dive profoundly into his/her relationship with Kali. As spiritual pilgrims, we are more highly educated and more widely traveled than ever. Our hunger for knowledge (and the availability of so much on the internet) has enhanced our abilities to take in information that just a decade ago might have been reserved for conversations among elite scholars or whispered between esoteric practitioners in remote caves, forests, and go-downs. My hope is that the threads of scholarly information, practice wisdom, and personal experience that are intermingled here will support you on your journey of increasing depth, devotion, and connection. May this liturgy in praise of Adya Kali be an offering to you as you deepen into your own relationship to Her. May all beings benefit!

Table of Contents

Foreword Dawn Cartwright xi

I Introduction 1

1 Her Names with Rose Petals 3

2 Kali and Adya Kali 8

3 The Turning Towards: Her Darkness and Her Fierceness 19

4 Saktism, Sakti, and Tantra 32

5 The Kalikula as Gynocentric and Womb-Centric 41

6 Sakti and the Yoni as the Primordial Matrix 47

7 Kali's Tantras 57

8 Kali's Names, Her Mantras, and the Nature of Transmission 61

9 How to Practice the Song of the Hundred Names of Adya Kali 67

II Song of the Hundred Names of Adya Kali 81

III Contemplations of Adya Kali's Hundred Names 95

Acknowledgements 189

End Notes 195

Glossary 200

Bibliography 210

List of Illustrations 216

Index 218

About the Author 228

Contact Information 228

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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A truly amazing work of love an devotion to mother. If for some reason you've ended up here please try the book out. I have the last few weeks and it's been a fantastic bolster to my practice