In her lotuslike hands she holds the severed head of the creator of the world. She smiles and sounds satisfied She devours the mover of the entire universe Like limp darbha grass she holds the bodies of Vishnu and Shiva I meditate upon Bhadrakali glowing like new clouds standing upon a corpse.
This painting shows the divine Mother Goddess in her wrathful and awesome aspect. The four-armed Devi stands firmly planted on a corpse. She is nude except for a girdle of severed hands tied around her waist, and a large amount of jewelry on her short and stout, burly body. She has large drooping breasts, with dark nipples hanging down. With one right hand she supports the severed head of Brahma, while the corresponding left holds the limp bodies of Shiva and Vishnu.
The upper left arm grips a sharp edged sword, and at the same time the Great Goddess gobbles up the faceless corpses held in her upper right hand. Indeed, according to the Tantrasara, Bhadrakali is defined as a form of Kali, who is hungry, and ready to devour everything.
This image of Kali, in a variety of ways, teaches man that pain, sorrow, decay, death, and destruction are not to be overcome or conquered by denying them or explaining them away. Pain and sorrow are woven into the texture of man's life so thoroughly that to deny them is ultimately futile. For man to realize the fullness of his being, for man to exploit his potential as a human being, he must finally accept this dimension of existence. Kali's boon is freedom, the freedom of the child to revel in the moment, and it is won only after confrontation or acceptance of death. To ignore death, to pretend that one is physically immortal, to pretend that one's ego is the center of things, is to provoke Kali's mocking laughter. To confront or accept death, on the contrary, is to realize a mode of being that can delight and revel in the play of the gods. To accept one's mortality is to be able to let go, to be able to sing, dance, and shout. Kali is Mother to her devotees not because she protects them from the way things really are but because she reveals to them their mortality and thus releases them to act fully and freely, releases them from the incredible, binding web of "adult" pretence, practicality, and rationality.