Varahi Tantra (English Study)

by Roberta Pamio | 2014 | 29,726 words

This English essay studies the Varahi Tantra and introduces the reader to the literature and philosophy of the Shakta Tradition to which this text belongs. These Shakta Tantras are doctrines where the Mother Goddess is conceived as the Supreme deity who is immanent and transcendental at the same time. The Varahitantra (lit. the "Doctrine of th...

Chapter 24 - Kālīkrama (according to the seventh chapter of the Parātantra)

This chapter deals with the Kālīkrama, as it has been described in the seventh chapter of the Parātantra.

Questioned by the Goddess on the nature of Kālī and her many forms (vv.1-11), Sadāśiva praises her as Kālasaṅkārṣiṇī, the Devourer of Time (vv.12-14); he then says that the eternal Goddess, with countless faces and tongues, cannot be described even in a hundred years; thus, between the many distinctions of Kālīkrama, he is going to explain the one concerning the Sequence of Five Kālīs (vv.12-17).

Sadāśiva describes the Goddess in her transcendental and immanent aspect (verses 18-33): the Goddess is eternal, of the essence of the Supreme Absolute and the embodiment of the world; she is stainless, without qualities (nirguṇā) and yet she displays the world with qualities (saguna). She is not male, female, or neuter: she is manifest and unmanifest and she is the abode of the qualities of the world (vv.18-19).

Verses 36-45 speak about the pūjā of the Kālī yantra.

In verses 42"-43 it is said that Kālī can be worshipped in an image, a cloth, a platform (sthaṇḍila), a book, the heart, a khaḍga, a triśūla, a mahāpātra and a woman.

Then Sadāśiva explains her dhyānayoga (vv.44-143’) for the sake of the accomplishment of the practitioner.

He says that the Kālīkulakrama has been revealed by him to Brahmā for the creation of the world; then Pitāmaha[1] gave it to Pulastya, who then transmitted it to Kubera. All the royal family of Laṅka followed the Kālīkrama (vv.44-49). Ravaṇa, Kumbhakarṇa Vibhīṣaṇa, Hiraṇyakashipū, Bāna, Bali, Jālandhara, Ambarīṣa, Nahuṣa and the race of Haihaya were all devotes of Kālī. The group of sages starting with Nārada, Durvāsa, Gādhinandana, Virūpākṣa and the others were also followers of the Kālīkrama. Brahmā passed the Kālīkrama to Viśvāmitra and to Vasiṣṭha, who gave it to Rāma to kill Ravaṇa (vv.50-53). The mantra of Kālī by which Rāma killed Ravaṇa is given in verses 54-59; thus it has been explained how the Goddess appeared in the solar race of kings, i.e. the royal dynasty of Rāmachandra (vv.54-60).

It is said then said that Kālī, who is one, manifests in a sequence of five Kālīs, who are Sṛṣṭikālī, Sthitikālī, Saṃhārakālī, Anākhyakālī and Bhāsakālī: all these five Kālīs abide in the body of Guhyakālī (vv.61-66).

The dhyāna of Guhyakālī is given in verses 67-105: she is described dark as a blue Utpala flower, with nine faces and twenty-seven eyes;[2] her upper shining face is known as Caṇḍayogeśvarī, which is made of light and bestows Nirvāṇa; below it she has a lion’s face, which is white and radiant, and below that is a jackal’s face, black and causing tumult in the three worlds; on the left of it, in sequence, she has the face of the Lord of the Monkeys, which is red and very luminous, a bird’s face, yellow with its beak, and an elephant’s face, white and very luminous; on the right she has a pig’s face, smoke-coloured and wrathful, a yellowish makara’s face[3] and a black horse’s face. The terrific black face is the main one (vv.68-77). She carries many weapons, which are given in verses 78-84. She wears a tiger skin; she is adorned by bracelets of gold and bone, a garland of severed heads and one of red lotuses (vv.85-90). She is standing on Śiva, with one face and three eyes, adorned with the ornaments of Bhairava; he has four hands, holding a kartṛ, a kapāla, a ḍamaru and a khaṭvāṅga; below this Bhairava pīṭha there are the five pretas, which are Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Rudra, Īśvara and Sadāśiva (vv.92-93).

In verses 106-127 the five Kālīs are described.

Verses 128-143’ speak of the importance of the Guru.

In verses 143"-187 are given a few mantras of Kālī.

Footnotes and references:


Another name for Brahmā.


The text mentions ten faces, but 9 makes more sense as she has 27 eyes, with three in each head, and only 9 heads are described.


The makara is a mythological aquatic animal, similar to a crocodile.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: