I pray to her who is the cause of delight of the world and is herself the embodiment of delight, who is the creation, existence, and the end of the world, who is auspicious Lakshmi of Hari (Vishnu).
O Maheshvari! What is the ultimate reality in the form of self-illuminating light, manifested by the exposure of the pure attribute (sattva), and the ultimate resort of the world is only a part of yours.
O Jaganmayi! What is manifested as the pleasure and passion due to unequalness of rajas (light), which is the middle of the process, is a part of your parts.
You are the enchantress of all the people, you are pure, bright and the highest of the highests; you are three-fold (sattva-rajas-tamas, or Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva) and trayi (the three Vedas), the fame, you alone are the resort of the three worlds.
You are in the shape of that image by which Madhava has been supporting this earth (dhatri); that image of yours is beneficial to the world.
You are subtle, the force of the world, you are Aparajita, the greatest one; since you stand covering the top and the bottom of the world the wind blows only in the middle.
O Goddess! You are in the form of the world and its connotation; you are that undivided pure light, the cause of the universe and who remains without shelter, your supreme essence, which is your inner self, is pure, known and widely known, unmanifested and is meditated upon by the ascetics.
You are knowledge and absence of knowledge, you are with shelter and without it, you are the Primordial Force of the world, which is manifested in the form of the world, and you are the Supreme Goddess.
The goddess who resides int he throat (kantha) of Brahma is renowned as the pure one, the goddess of speech (Vac, Saraswati), who causes the manifestation of the Vedas and enlightens the world – you are that one.
You are Agni, Svaha, Pitrgana, Svadha, the Ether, the endless Time, Space, and external objects.
You are beyond comprehension, unmanifested and above form and shape. You are Kalaratri and the supreme eternal force.
The external form, which you have assumed for the welfare of the people, only that form is known to Brahma and others. Who is able to know you in your real Supreme existence?
O Mother Goddess Ambika! Be pleased with me! O Yogarupini! Be pleased with me! O dreaded one, be pleased with me, you who reside covering the entire world! I adore you!
– Kalikapurana 8:12-26
In this hymn, the pious king Daksha prays to Kali after having a vision of her as the all-pervasive One. As a result of this hymn, Kali agrees to be incarnated as Daksha’s daughter. He names her Sati. Sati marries Shiva, and the rest is a famous, tragic story of the origin of the shakti pithams, or places of divine goddess power.
Note that in this hymn, Kali is praised as both Lakshmi and Saraswati. She is praised as the manifestation of everything, as well as the formless absolute. There is nothing that is not Her. She is the pervasive reality, which can be experienced in every moment and in every place when that awareness is cultivated.
Artwork credit: Traditional women’s Madhubani painting, Bihar (artist unknown)