Gowri the benevolent is a total
contrast to Kaali the terrible. Kaali is regarded as the destroyer or devourer of evil.
Legend has it that Skanda
the son of Shiva when engaged in a fierce
battle with the demon Raktabheeja sought Kaali's help.
Such was the power of the demon that a drop of blood spilled from his body would result in
countless demons being produced. Kaali solved the problem by devouring
every single drop of blood that fell from the demon's body even prior to its touching the
Legend has it that Kaali adorned herself with a garland of skulls;
intoxicated with the demon's blood she engaged in a dance of victory, destroying all that
crossed her path.
Legend has it that Shiva appeared in front of her and challenged her to a
dance duel, in which she faced defeat and regained her sobriety. (See Tiruvaalangaadu associated with the
legend of the dance duel between Kaali and Shiva Nataraja).
Yet another legend has it that Shiva took the form of a corpse and lay
down in her path. Kaali's collision with this obstruction shook her to senses. With her
foot on the corpse she breathed life back to Shiva after which Kaali regained the form of
Gowri the benevolent.
Kaali in her fearful form associated with cremation grounds and corpses
stands as a reminder of the inevitability of death and decay.
temple at Calcutta is amongst the best known of Kaali temples in India.