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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Mahakala, MahAkAla, Mahaakaala

Mahākāla literally means ‘Great Time’, ‘Great Destroyer’.

‘Mahākāla’ is one of the well-known epithets of Śiva. He brings about the destruction of the universe at the end of the cycle of creation.

The Śivaliṅga at Ujjayinī[1] is one of the twelve jyotirliṅgas. It is also called ‘Mahākāla’. Sometimes Mahākāla is described as an offspring of Śiva. He is the leader of his troops, pramathagaṇa.

Some works of the tantras like the Tantrasāra picturize him as a terrific deity who can be appeased for destroying one’s enemies. He has a fierce appearance. He is dressed in a tiger-skin and has two arms carrying:

  1. Daṇda - cudgel
  2. Khaṭvāṅga - magical wand

He wears a garland of severed heads and is the husband of Mahākālī.


  1. Ujjayinī is the modern Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore