Kāla (time)


Kāla (time)

IAST|Kālá is a Sanskrit word for "time". It denotes a fixed or right point in time (compare rtu, kairos). It is also the name of a deity, in which sense it is not always distinguishable from "IAST|kāla" meaning "black".

Monier-Williams's widely-used Sanskrit-English dictionary [ [http://webapps.uni-koeln.de/tamil/ Sanskrit, Tamil and Pahlavi Dictionaries] ] lists two distinct words with the form "IAST|kāla".

"IAST|kāla" 1 means "black, of a dark colour, dark-blue ..." and has a feminine form ending in "IAST|ī" – "IAST|kālī" – as mentioned in IAST|Pāṇini 4-1, 42.

"IAST|kāla" 2 means "a fixed or right point of time, a space of time, time ... destiny, fate ... death" and has a feminine form (found at the end of compounds) ending in "IAST|ā", as mentioned in the "IAST|ṛgveda" "IAST|Prātiśākhya".

According to Monier-Williams, "IAST|kāla" 2 is from the verbal root "IAST|kal" "to calculate", while the root of "IAST|kāla" 1 is uncertain, though possibly the same.

As applied to gods and goddesses in works such as the "IAST|Devī" "IAST|Māhātmya" and the "Skanda" "IAST|Purāṇa", "IAST|kāla" 1 and "IAST|kāla" 2 are not readily distinguishable. Thus Wendy Doniger, translating a conversation between IAST|Śiva and IAST|Pārvatī from the "Skanda" "IAST|Purāṇa", says "IAST|Mahākāla" may mean " 'the Great Death' ... or 'the Great Black One' ". [Doniger O'Flaherty, Wendy; "Hindu Myths;" Penguin, 1975; ISBN 0-14-044-306-1 footnote to page 253.] And IAST|Swāmī IAST|Jagadīśvarānanda, a Hindu translator of the "IAST|Devī" "IAST|Māhātmya", renders the feminine compound "IAST|kāla-rātri" (where "IAST|rātri" means "night") as "dark night of periodic dissolution". [IAST|Jagadīśvarānanda trans; "Devi Mahatmyam" (Sanskrit and English); Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras, 1953; chapter 1 verse 78.]

As Time personified, destroying all things, Kala is a god of death sometimes identified with Yama. As a traditional Hindu unit of time, one "kālá" corresponds to the 900th part of a day, or 96 seconds.

In Javanese mythology, Kala is the god of destruction, husband to Durga. Kala is depicted as giant, born of the sperm of Bathara Guru, the kings of gods.

In Borobudur, the gate to the stairs is adorned with a giant head, making the gate look like the open mouth of the giant. Many other gates in Javanese traditional buildings have this kind of ornament. Perhaps the most detailed Kala Face in Java is on the south side of Candi Kalasan.

References

ee also

*Kalachakra
*IAST|Kālī


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