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Erudite scholars of the Dasam Granth, and Sri Sarbloh Granth, have concluded that Kali plays an important role in both scriptures. She is a metaphor for associating femininity with the Akal. In this article I hope to highlight the societal, and familial factors which convinced Guru Gobind Singh Ji to utilise Kali in his works. The Dasam Granth residences a plethora of mystical-cum-spiritual metaphors which are fecund spectres of an ubiquitous vision. One such spectre is that of Kali, the dark Goddess. Evolving from a primeval genesis, Kali is presently a household deity amongst the sub-continent's denizens. Possessing a bloody historicity, to rival that of the Mexica pantheon, Kali for the Khalsa is not a reverential deity but a figurative utility for it's femininity. The often bloody historicity of the Khalsa has marginalized it's feminism, in pursuit of a more hyper-masculine monomania. Despite it's Gurus' emphasis on gender equivocalism, the latter principle is found ardently lacking in practice. Even today the pseudo-inter religious governing body, the SGPC, veto's women from performing Kirtan in the cardinal Darbar Sahib. A similar strain is also visible in the collective Sikh psyche of today. Despite acknowledging the existence of a formless God in their ethos, they will still opt for a more patricentric God in an emulation of Semitism. Ironically this is a notion which directly contradicts the feminism invoked in the Dasam Granth. To understand why the Dasam Granth utilises Kali, to showcase femininity, one has to understand the historic milieu orbiting it's creation. Authored by Akali-Nihung Guru Gobind Singh Ji, it was written at a time when the societal segregation of Hinduism was at it's peak, and subsequent Islamic invasions had divided sub-continental society in believer and non-believe. The elite strata, of Hinduism, had escaped the greater Islamic penchant for persecution via allying themselves with the Mughal dynasty. Approving the latter course, the Mughal nucleus had readily allowed the latter a constrained practice of their faith. Summarily the nadir strata of Hinduism now faced two dangers. The orthodox hegemony lead by the fanatical Brahmins, or religious clerics, and the whims of Islamic radicals. Simultaneously the Brahmins restrained the performance and observance of religiosity to themselves and their male hierarchy, whilst forbidding women and the servile classes from emulating them. In the periods which followed the servile classes, and women, were slowly deprived of their deities, until penultimately Kali was left. Kali herself was perceived as being an ostracised deity by the Brahmins. Born during a mythical era of warfare, her figurative symbolism had been lost through the ages until ultimately her figure was defined in numerous modes. For the ostracised layers of Hinduism she represented a sporadic escape, an hearkening to an era where she would manifest and slaughter the malesh (filth) plaguing them. Her persona spoke volumes to the Guru who not only wanted to parent a distinct socio-religious parcel but also uplift the proletariat regardless of the latter's allegiances, associations and beliefs. Decrying her worship, he nonetheless adopted her as a clandestine metaphor for his literary works. Kali's spectral prowess over death was employed by him to depict the maternal aspect of the Akal, or the deathless entity. Simultaneously her ability to consume time was another element which he favoured and aligned with the Akal who fluidly exists over time and it's offshoots. Other factors, which were pivotal, in the Guru's adoption of Kali are found in his own life and hierarchy. Wendy Doniger argues that 'other people's myths' assist one in bettering one's own persona and traits. These 'other myths' provide an anti-inertial, and diverse, balance in one's understanding of one's own life and environment. The Khalsa Gurus' resided during a time when the folklore of Hinduism was a sub-continental phenomena, thus to assist their apostles in understanding their own unique dictums they employed well-recognised and known figures to assist them. His predecessor's anti-inertial devices were not lost on the Guru, who also forwarded the latter tradition. Secondly, despite his masculine attributes and generalship he was also close to feminism himself. His father had been executed by the fanatical Aurangzeb, and he had been left in the care of a mother who had acted as a decisive vizier for him in his early years. His own grandfather, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, had also deputed his wife and mother as his regents when he himself was imprisoned by the Mughals. Thus his family had seen a balance between male and female paradigms, a course not lost on him. Thirdly he employed a sublime figure. Kali is not overly beauteous, but nor was her role as an embodiment of warfare. Acknowledging this reality, the Guru added her to his own growing repertoire of literal arsenals. Fourthly Kali, for the Guru, became a stereotypical element of his own war against the contemporaneous polity. The dark, almost devilish, goddess wars against injustice in order to liberate her pantheist brethren. Simultaneously the Guru also uplifted the servile out castes of his milieu and armed them to fight the tyranny inflicted upon them. In Kali he found a kindred spirit and acknowledged this element in his writings. Fourthly the Guru gifted a parental Kali to the embryonic Khalsa. For him the purity of a female was beyond doubt, and the Khalsa too would have to imbue the same spirit in order to wage it's perpetual war against abibek. Conclusively, for the Guru, Kali became an integrative element of his revitalising of society. The fact that he could envision a female wielding a sword depicts the importance of both masculinity and femininity in human society. In the post-Guru era, Khalsa women would foster a strong tradition of warrior-dom and leadership. Mata Bhag Kaur, the Guru-mother's Mata Sahib Kaur and Sundar Kaur, Sada Kaur, Rani Jind Kaur are only few of the names which come to mind when acknowledging the matriarchal aspect of Khalsa historicity. Thus one cane easily summarise that for the Guru, Kali was a multi-faceted deity which he employed for anti-inertial and figurative upliftment. http://tisarpanth.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/why-kali.html?view=magazine
Despite forming an extensive component of the sub-continental psyche, Durga still remains an elusive individual in the ongoing taxonomy between literal and metaphorical. An amalgamation of tenderness and blood-thirstiness, Durga unfortunately escapes all notions of definition and recognition. Who is she? And what truly is her purpose in the veiled religiosity which encapsulates all sub-continental faiths? The answers are numerous and disparate on many terms, subsequently a new precedent was ingrained for Durga when Gurmat became prevalent. No more was she a goddess worthy of worship but a metaphor for the multi-tapestried dictums birthed by the latter. The Akali-Nihung, the Nirmala and Udasi school identified her as an extrapolation of the metaphorical construction which aimed to signify and provide a human-based identification of spiritual precepts. Her very anatomy was an exegesis of broad spiritual concepts which had universal parallels. Their identifications are still retained by their descendants and disciples even in the contemporary period. Durga's limbs not only provide striking magnetism which one gravitates towards on viewing her, but are representatives of much broader practicalities. Each limb makes a unique distinction with it's contemporary and defines one of the nine modes of devotion, prevalent in many orientalist traditions. Usually these nine modes are professed towards a deity but in Gurmat they are reserved for the 'Shabad' or the word, a physical embodiment of the creator and the inheritor of the Guru's doctrines. Despite being victims of extensive scrutiny and unwarranted criticism, these modes are prevalent in Sikh shrines even today. 1.) 'Sravan'- This is the first representation of Durga's limbs. It defines the hearing of the creator's praises (or one's indigenous deity). As per Gurmat 'Sravan' occurs when one listens to the 'Shabad(s)' contained within the three parallel Granths. 2.) 'Kirtan'- The musical recitation of the creator's praises, it has become a tradition of profound importance in the Khalsa ethos and is practiced even today. Despite undergoing successive evolution(s), as per time, Khalsa tradition still retains the mystical procedure of performing 'Kirtan' as done by it's early forebears. 3.) 'Simran'- Remembrance (contemplation) of the creator's name(s). As per Western doctrines this can easily be taxonomized as being meditation. It is central to the Khalsa ethos, and suffers from heavy ignorance. 4.) 'Padsevena'- Voluntary (heavily emphasized) service and offering at the creator's abode. The Sikh Guru's heavily emphasized this dictum amongst their disciples. 5.) 'Arachana'- Worship of the creator. 6.) 'Bandana'- Reverential submission before the creator. 7.) 'Dasyam'- The cultivation and observance of emotions, which dictate one to be a servant of the creator. 8.) 'Sakhyam'-Preservation of an emotional bond of companionship attached to the creator. 9.) 'Atma-Nivedana'- The final act of devotion, surrender of oneself to the creator. By adopting an indigenous deity, and the vernacular associated with her, Gurmat constructed a new precept for it's adherents; one which did not stratify the deity's original disciples yet established the creator above her. http://tisarpanth.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/an-exegesis-of-multi-limbbed-durga.html