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Story of Goddess Bhadrakali

May 14, 2024 | Total Views : 43
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Goddess Bhadrakali has an essential place in Hindu mythology. She is mentioned in many sacred texts of Hinduism, which describe her feats and powers. In the Shakta cult, she is the primordial cosmic energy.

She is a fierce and powerful goddess, who is a form of Goddess Parvati. In the Devi Mahatmyam, Bhadrakali is depicted as a form of the Supreme Mother Goddess, Adi Parashakti, who has both creative and destructive aspects.

The Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata recounts divine events and cosmic functions associated with her. Her stories often contain allegorical messages designed to guide the devotee’s spiritual journey.

Story of Goddess Bhadrakali

Bhadrakali is the Goddess of war. She is the protector of the virtuous and nemesis of the wicked. In Kerala, she is also referred to as Kariam kali Murti devi, a deity who has the power to alter a person’s destiny.

People worship her under different names in different regions. Maha Maya, Durga, Devi, Chamunda, and Mahakali are some of her other names.
The Goddess has 4 forms – Dakshajit, Darikajit, Mahishajit, and Rurujit. Each of these forms has a story behind it.

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In Kerala, the Goddess is worshipped mostly as "Darikajit," which means ‘slayer of Darika’. The story, "Bhadrakali Mahatmyam" or "Darika-vadham,"  is narrated in the

Markandeya Purana.

Darika was an Asura or demon. His wife, Manodari, was a chaste woman who knew a special Mantra to keep her husband safe and invincible from enemies. Darika took advantage of this invincibility to harass the denizens of the 3 worlds and conquer heaven. On hearing of Darika's evil deeds, Shiva opened his third eye, and a ferocious form emerged from it. It was none other than Bhadrakali. Shiva told Bhadrakali to kill Darika, and she set forth with a Vetala as her mount.

However, she could not kill the demon as his wife’s Mantra chanting protected him. The goddess then split into 2 forms. One was her warrior self who was fighting Darika, while the other was that of a common woman. The ‘common woman’ approached Manodari and told her that she was the wife of a soldier in Darika’s army and was worried that they were losing the battle. Manodari paused her chanting to speak to the woman and console her. The pause broke Darika's shield of invincibility. The goddess immediately vanished, leaving Manodari puzzled. On the battlefield, meanwhile, Kali wounded Darika.

As she was about to slay him, Darika supposedly appealed to her maternal instincts in a last-ditch effort to save himself with false praises and prayers. But the gods or devas who had gathered there understood his ruse and began to sing praises to the goddess (like the Mantra, "Kante Kalatmaje Kaali, Kante Kali Namostute"). This reminded the goddess of the evil deeds committed by Darika. Ignoring Darika's praises, Bhadrakali chopped his head. Holding it aloft in her left hand, she then danced around on the battlefield.

However, her anger failed to subside. So the gods asked Shiva to soothe her, as they feared that she would annihilate the universe in her angry mood. So, Shiva lay in her path in the form of a crying baby. This awakened Kali's motherly nature. She calmed down and expressed her desire to remain at that place and protect the locals. The spot where she settled down is supposedly the Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple. It is one of the 3 most auspicious temples in Kerala for Bhadrakali, along with Thirumandhamkunnu Temple and Parumala Valiya Panayannarkavu Devi Temple. It is also one of the 13 'kaavu' temples of the goddess as well as one of the main 64 Bhadrakali temples in Kerala.


This story is from the Devi Mahatmyam section of the Markandeya Purana. It describes how, during the battle between the demon Raktabija and Goddess Kaushiki (Durga), Kali took birth from the fury of Kaushiki, emerging from her forehead. She killed the demons, Chanda and Munda, thereby earning the name 'Chamundi'. She also killed Raktabija by drinking his blood without letting it fall on the ground, where each drop of blood would turn into another Raktabija. As Chamundi, she is the leader of the Sapta-Matrikas and is very popular in North India.


This well-known story is associated with King Daksha and his yajna and is found in the Shiva Purana, Vayu Purana, and the Mahabharata. Shiva’s wife, Sati immolated herself in her father’s (Daksha) Yajna fire, as he insulted Shiva. An enraged Shiva arrived at the Yajna venue to kill Daksha. He took the form of Veerabhadra (a fierce form) to do so. However, Vishnu imprisoned Veerabhadra to protect Daksha. Bhadrakali emerged from Shiva’s matted hair. He told her to free Veerabhadra, which she did. She also helped him kill Daksha, getting the name 'Dakshajit'.


The Kalika Purana says that Bhadrakali appeared during the Treta Yuga to slay Mahishasura. There were 3 Mahishasuras in total, and this was the second one. When the third Mahishasura wanted to know how he would die, he received a vision of the fair-skinned Bhadrakali who emerged from the Milky Ocean and killed him in his previous birth. He wanted to die again at her hands, so the Goddess promised him that she would take birth as the eighteen-armed Mahishasura Mardini (mentioned in the Devi Mahatmyam) and slay him. This form of the Goddess is 'Mahishajit'.


The Varaha Purana says that when Goddess Roudri (an incarnation of Parvati) was meditating at the foot of the Neeli mountain, she saw the gods fleeing in panic, unable to bear the harassment by the demon Ruru. From the embers of the angry Goddess’ rage was born Bhadrakali, and she killed Ruru, earning the epithet 'Rurujit'.


As per the Tantra Rahasya, Devi, the divine feminine form, emerged from the North (Uttaramnaya) face (Amnayas) of Lord Shiva, which is blue in color and has three eyes, as Dakshinakalika, Mahakali, Guhyakah, Smashanakalika, Bhadrakali, Ekajata, Ugratara, Taritni, Katyayani, Chhinnamasta, Nilasarasvati, Durga, Jayadurga, Navadurga, Vashuli, Dhumavati, Visalakshi, Gauri, Bagalamukhi, Pratyangira, Matangi, and Mahishamardini.

Significance of Bhadrakali

As per Kerala traditions, the incidents mentioned in the Markandeya Purana that are related to Bhadrakali (slaying Darika to free the universe from evil) occurred in Kerala, near a place called Madayi in Kannur district. The event is commemorated in Kerala’s Bhadrakali temples during traditional festivals. Devotees worship Bhadrakali as the daughter of Shiva, as she was born from his third eye. The Markandeya Purana states that worshipping the goddess purifies devotees and grants them Moksha. She protects women’s honor and bestows spiritual knowledge. Supposedly, she regarded Virabhadra as her "brother" and declined to be treated by him when the deity Vasoorimala attacked her and marked her face with smallpox. She declared that a brother should not touch his sister’s face. Hence, one can see faint pockmarks on her face in some Keralite depictions.

In Tamil Nadu, people revere her as 'Malayala Bhagavathy' or 'Malayala Bhadrakali', who protects her devotees irrespective of caste and religion. 

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