The Hymn to Kali is a famous Hindu verse wherein the religious monarch Daksha initiates a prayer to the Goddess Kali, shortly after he experiences a vision of her as an all-encompassing deity – The One.
This edition of the hymn is accompanied by scholarly commentary, wherein the spiritual and cultural significance of each verse is explained with several paragraphs of informative and insightful narration. The very construction of the poem, the syllabic patterns present, and their significance are also examined, that the reader may learn about the Hindu concepts of being and reality.
In this hymn, Kali is lauded as a manifestation of both Lakshmi and Saraswati – that is, the embodiment of everything, whilst simultaneously a formless whole. Nothing solid, liquid or gaseous is excluded from Her – there is no reality, no state of conceivable being or form, without Kali. She is what is experienced at every point in time, past and present and future, and her location is everywhere.
Sir John Tyler Woodroffe, writing here under the pseudonym ‘Arthur Avalon’, has immense knowledge of the Indian religious traditions and of the Sanskrit language. His superb reading of Kali has long been considered one of the West’s primary means of understanding this pivotal piece of ancient Hindu lore.