Kali Vanquishes the Demon Army
2002, acrylic on canvas, 26 x 26", by Jenny Badger Sultan
On our last day in Nepal, we were invited to the home of a family of artists for a meal and to get the masks they had made for us. I noticed a painting on the wall that looked like a group of people standing on a red carpet. I asked about it and was told it was a picture of Kali, and that it was her tongue which had helped her to win the battle with the demons.
When I got back home I researched the story. It’s very complex, but when the gods were losing their battle with the demonic asuras, the Goddess Durga was born from the combined energies of the male deities. She battled fiercely and then Kali emanated from her brow and defeated the demon Raktabija by absorbing his blood with her tongue, since any time a drop of his blood fell on the ground new demons would emerge.
The battle was won and Kali-Durga disappeared from the battlefield, promising to return in time of need. Ajit Mookerjee in “Kali, The Feminine Force” writes "...the feminine action in the cosmic drama is without retentive, ego-seeking ambition."
I was very impressed by this attitude, so very different from the warring energies that were being unleashed by 9/11, in Afghanistan, and soon in Iraq.
After a while I lent the painting to my cousin in Berkeley, but I called it back home when I became ill with lymphoma in 2009 and felt I needed Kali’s fierce energy.