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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Kali literally means ‘he who ruins one’s mind by sinful thoughts’.

According to the purāṇas, Kali the presiding spirit of Kaliyuga or the Iron Age, is the personification of all that is bad and evil. It is the very antithesis of dharma. He is the son of Krodha[1] and Hinsā.[2] His wife is Durukti,[3] and his son is Bhaya.[4] Bhaya’s wife is Mṛtyu[5] and his son is Niraya.[6] All these are symbolical.

Kali’s images are very rare. He is depicted as dark in color and hideous in appearance with the tongue lolling out. Kali entered this world on the demise of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Though vanquished by the king Parīkṣit, he was allowed to live in certain places like:

  • Gambling
  • Liquor
  • Wanton
  • Women
  • Gold


  1. Krodha means anger.
  2. Hinsā means violence.
  3. Durukti means harsh and bad speech.
  4. Bhaya means fear.
  5. Mṛtyu means death.
  6. Niraya is dark hell.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore