Mahakali Mantra

For those who would like information on Kali chants.

The easiest mantram is:
Om Kali Ma

Next is:
Om Sri Maha Kalikayai Namah
This is to invoke her transformative nature

while eradicating negative qualities within our self and the world.

Pronunciation details:
Kali – KI – A

Then a mantram that covers her many aspects:
Om Aim Hrim Klim Camundayai Vicche Svaha

Pronunciation details:

Cah – moon – dI – A

Aim = Saraswati/knowledge;
Hrim = Parvathi/purification;
Klim = Kali’s transformative power (her bija / seed sound);
Camundayai = Kali’s fierce aspect;
Vicche = to cut, to remove (one’s ego);
Svaha = hail!, so be it.

Listen here ..

Then a mantra to ‘reach’ her, or understand her:
Om Kring Kalikaye Namaha

Pronunciation detail:

KrEE – M (Sanskrit ‘g’ is closer to English ‘m’)

Listen here ..

And her Maha Mantra, or “Great” Mantra, the Sri Mahakali Mantram:
Om Hrim Srim Krim
Paramesvari Kalike
Hrim Srim Krim Svaha

Pronunciation detail:

Param – esh – varEE
Kali – key
Svah – ha

Prem and Metta!

~ ~ ~

Picture of Kali Ma, original watercolor by Sri Sahadevan from Vanamali Ashram.


The Infinite Woman

The Infinite Woman, by Edison Marshall, is a book I first read as a teen.  It was one of my mother’s books, and at the time – and because she kept it hidden – I thought it some great mystery for me to discover.

I was not wrong.

When I was eleven years young I was introduced to Yoga by way of a book: The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, by Swami Vishnudevananda.  I still have the 1965 hardback copy with cover.   So it was then, at an early age, I became taken with Yoga.  Then, a scant two years later, discovering The Infinite Woman, my soul was awakened yet again.


In my first introduction to Yoga, I was immediately and intimately attracted to Siva.  I quickly and whole-heartedly knew the teachings I found there, as laid out by Swami Sivananda Saraswati and the Divine Life Society.   Two years later I met Kali Ma, also in the pages of a book.  Where Siva had been my father, she became my mother.

And I met her through The Infinite Woman.  The author, Edison Marshall, was quite the man’s man during the 1950s: a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, a novelist, adventurer, and tiger hunter.  He wrote over 23 novels and short stories, and all of them can best be described as a mix between manly action/adventure and romance.

The book’s heroine is Lola Montaro, who casts a striking image on every page.  She is a true rogue .. glamorous and exotic, sensuous and mysterious, innocent yet complicated.  And she was my first non-Yoga introduction to Kali:

I walked hand in hand with Manu, until the moonlight showed us

the form and face of Kali under a stone cowl.

She was pit-black with four arms, each with a red-palmed hand;

her eyes were red, and her tongue and face

and breasts were stained with blood; her teeth were pointed fangs,

and around her neck was a string of skulls

and about her waist a girdle of twisted snakes.

-page 19

But before you think our heroine is simply the dream of a fanciful and lust filled author, think again, for she is based on the quite real and equally intriguing, Lola Montez.

The book is filled with chapters that conjured vast and mystifying images in my thirteen year young mind: India, The Novice, The Worldly, Krishna the Joyous, and The Dark Mother.  As the titles suggest, our heroine never forsakes Kali; from the moment she first embraced her as a child, discovering her dark terror at a cremation ground, until she watches her lover embrace death as he falls through darkness – laughing.

This book spurred me to find books on Kali at the local library, but such specialized books were too much to ask for.  There were plenty of books on Yoga – its history, practice, science and the like, to keep me busy – but none to fill in the gaps found in Lola’s adventures.  Especially any that would expound on her unswerving devotion to Her.

Not until I asked Her.

When I was 15, having exhausted my search – yet never tiring – I asked Kali to guide me, to “Show me your true form.”  And She did, via the Karpuradi Stotra, by Sir John Woodroffe (aka: Arthur Avalon).  Here, she is detailed in all the glory and gore that Edison Marshall described.  She is portrayed as the “forbidden thing”, as death personified, as the assimilating and transformative force of nature as experienced and lived by the fictional Lola.

From Her Panca Tattva dance upon the ashen grounds of cremation, to her fierce gaze and matted hair, to the fragrant Akanda flowers at her feet, and to the midnight mumblings of mad priests.  Her many faces are oceans apart, yet close as drops upon the soul.  She is vicious and gentle, slayer and creatrix, Mistress of the Five Elements and Mistress to Hara.  She is creator and destroyer, the object of meditation and the non-self, bringer of fear and boon .. even Time stands still before Her.

O Mother!  There are those who worship

many other devas than thyself,

thinking they grant greater boons.

But they are devoid of discrimination,

knowing nothing of what is real,

for they are separated from the truth.

So great my Bhakti, my desire for You,

that it controls my approach to You –

the Primordial One, She of the Present Moment –

who was before the beginning of the world.

You who enjoys the Great Bliss of Union –

the Union of Sivasakti, the Kundalini Sahasrara –

and who is worshiped by

Vishnu, Siva, Brahma and all other Devas,

for they worship You – Mother of All.

-verse 13

I pulled my copy of The Infinite Woman today, and laid it on the desk next to Hymns to the Goddess and Hymn to Kali.  I have been reading them all day .. lingering among memories that seem as rough and unhewn as Her temple stones; yet fresh as the violet bloomed Akanda .. and like its gentle wafting Buri’r Chul .. my soul is carried deftly towards Her.
Prem and Metta!

Test Drive

Today begins my one month (or more) adventure into 80/10/10.


I bought the book in December and have been reading it.  It is very similar to my very first raw food book, Love Your Body: Live Food Recipes, by Viktoras Kulvinskas.   (I bought my copy in 1972 and still have it.)


The largest difference between the two is, perhaps, emphasis on spirituality and science.  Love Your Body certainly has its share of science to support its claims, with much to say on overall health, woman’s health, and children’s health, but the focus is on living closer to the s/Source, of being one with nature (the environment).


80/10/10 .. not so much.  It’s focus is – either directly or indirectly – on athleticism.  For example, Love Your Body specifically recommends Yoga, and does include a section entitled “Body Building Program” (page 77), its stance is more on longevity through Metta (loving kindness) and Shanti (peace), digestion and healing, and overall mindfulness.  In all, Love Your Body has a very loving, nurturing and supportive approach .. but then, back-in-the-day, this is what being a ‘vegetarian’ was all about.


You see, during the late 1960’s early 1970s, no one ate “live food”, but “lived” this “lifestyle”; and we were all called ‘vegetarians’.  We simply did not demarcate or, as seen today, discriminate.


For us, it was all about living a simple life of devotion and grace, of gratitude and joy.  By way of comparison, today, many ‘vegans’, ‘raw vegans’, ‘vegetarians’, and the like, not only seem to love labeling themselves, but are often hate-full and intolerant towards others who do not share their ideas.  Its almost as if their approach to eating is more a burden than an expression of bliss.


But hey .. Im an old-schooler hippy-type so dont mind me and my ramblings.


Prem and Metta


Early Spring Fast

The Shala will be closed Friday, February 3 for Disting/Imbolc/Vasant Panchami – the first of Spring.

February 3 marks the beginning of Spring.  Not actual Spring – which comes with the Spring Equinox in March – but the seasonal shift that marks a turning away from Winter’s cold.

Disting means ‘woman’s assembly’, and is a traditional European tide that celebrates the beauty and strength of female energy.  Likewise, this time of year – between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox – was considered a time of Learning, a time for concentration and deliberation, of contemplative thought, and dreams.

Likewise, Vasant Panchami, meaning “Spring Fifth Day”, also falls during this time.  This holiday is dedicated to Saraswati, whose feminine energy is that of serene and calm expression.

Both tides are excellent opportunities to fast (meaning ‘refrain’ rather than ‘abstain’).  And with such occasions, there is also a central theme on which to focus .. in this case, a simple question:

Know what you are in the hour of sleep ~

a mere body, a subtle soul, or a secret retreat of Light.

A fun family tradition here is the making of Corn Dollies, which can be given as gifts or hung in the home to bring good luck.  (*)

I will be marking this tide in nature .. beneath moon and stars, sunshine or shade, at water’s edge and about a fire.

Have a joyous weekend and see you all on Monday (February 6).

Prem and Metta!


~ ~ ~

*Earth Rites: Fertility Practices in Pre-Industrial Britain, by Janet and Colin Bord

Mushroom and Brown Rice Soup

What to eat on Wheatless Wednesday?  How about something warm and umami!



4 cups vegetable stock (pure water based)

Mushrooms (2 portabella, OR a small box of buttons, OR 8 shiitakes), sliced

3 green onions, diced (OR ½ a small onion)

2 seaweed strands (OR 1 sheet nori, OR 2 Tbls Bragg’s Amino Acids, OR 2 Tbls miso paste)

½ cup brown rice, dry



-Cook brown rice.


-In a saucepan, over medium heat, add the veggie stock, mushrooms, onions and seaweed.  Bring to quick boil, then reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 5 minutes.


When the rice is done, add the soup.  Enjoy!

Pad Thai – Live Vegan Style!

Soaked Cashews:

1/2 cup cashews

1 Tbls sesame oil

1/2 cup nama shoyu

juice of 1 lime

2-4 chilies, seeded and chopped (to taste)

1-2 Tbls sweetener

2 tsp sea salt

Soak cashews for an hour in all the ingredients.  When finished, blend until smooth.

Pad Thai sauce:

1 Tbls sesame seeds

1 Tbls sesame oil

1 small red pepper to taste (or use 1 tsp red pepper flakes)

6 sundried tomatoes, soaked in water for 2-3 hours, drained

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp sea salt


Zucchini shreds / noodles

1/4 cup snow peas, julienned

1/4 cup red bell pepper, julienned

1/4 cup bean sprouts (mung)

1-2 scallions, chopped

1/4 cup chopped cashews (dry)

Put it all together!

Toss veggies (except zucchini noodles) in with the soaked cashew blend.  Coat well, set aside.

Put zucchini noodles in bowl, coat/mix with Pad Thai sauce .. add the veggie/cashew blend.


The Space Between

Hamsa .. the singular mantra that every breathing being is born and dies with.


Ham is our first breath from the womb.

Sah is our final relaxation as we shed the body.


Traditional Yoga relates that Yoga occurs ‘between the breath’, or the natural retention of  the breath (kumbhaka).   Due to a misunderstanding, many will hold their breath, seeking the elusive sensation of Yoga.


Think on this:

First there is birth and with it, our first breath .. Ham.

Then there is death and with it, our last breath .. Sah.

What occurs between those two is life .. or the retention / kumbhaka.


This is no mystery.  Breath naturally falls into three parts: inhale, retention, exhale .. repeat.  So lets look at it another way ..

Beginning, Now, End

Morning, Noon, Night

Below, Middle, Above

Child, Adult, Senior

.. and the list can go on.


Poetically, yes, ‘life occurs between breaths’, but from a practical perspective, it means the entirety of our life and the stillness of our life.


Yet another poetic expression is that Hamsa means “goose, swan”, and in Traditional Yoga is a symbol of vitality, purity, divine knowledge, prana, and highest spiritual accomplishment.  As a mantra its role is said to encapsulate all the Upanishads (practical wisdom teachings), specifically:

Hamsa = I Am That

Soham = That I Am

So with every breath we are affirming: I Am That, That I Am!


As a Westerner, when I think of ‘swan’ I think of Mother Goose and the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.   Mother Goose is either an old, wise woman, or a bonnet wearing goose that dispenses wisdom; she is a fertility goddess, a giver of life, wellbeing and nourishment.  Likewise, the goose gifted its golden egg – divine aid – only to the most humble.  Additionally, in Western mythology, the stork / swan / goose delivers a new born baby, whereas in Traditional Yoga the supreme swan is a degree of highest emancipation.  So there again, where East meets West, is the Beginning / Ham, and the End /Sah.


Back to the Middle .. our life is filed with business, working, learning, studying, all on several levels of consciousness.  All this amounts to experience, and the more experience we can have during a lifetime – the space between breaths – and approach these experiences in a positive manner, the more capable we are of balancing the instinctive with the intellectual, the better able we are to mold the atoms / Atman (soul) so that it aligns with the spiritual force that is the Absolute Reality.


You see .. the instinctive mind will re-act and resent some experiences, and the intellectual mind will rationalize others, but when we tame the two, we find the middle ground – Raja, Tao, Middle Way – of the superconscious , which is the gateway to our spiritual self.


Ham = instinctive

Sah = intellectual

the Still Quiet Center = our true self


So it is that we should identify with the kumbhaka, the retention, the pause between breaths, for therein lies true Yoga.


Prem and Metta!

Yogini Devi


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