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Goddess Kali in the decorations of temples of West Bengal

Dr. A K Chatterjee is a seasoned writer with more than 330 blogs in English and Bengali and 10 books mostly on travel, trekking and temples.

Kali; terracotta relief; Ananda Bhairavi temple; Sukharis, Hooghly

Kali; terracotta relief; Ananda Bhairavi temple; Sukharis, Hooghly

Introduction

Worshiping the Almighty God in His/Her Absolute Formless form is extremely difficult, almost impossible for the common man, hence the importance of Symbols comes in. In every religion, there are symbols in some form or other which represents the Almighty. These symbols are easy to imagine and perceive, and are routinely used in the rituals of worship. In Hinduism, the Almighty or Absolute Being is Bramha (not to be confused with Bramhaa, the Creator who has anthropoid form) Who is Formless, Genderless, Featureless and Quality-less. But common people cannot imagine or perceive this, so gods and goddesses enter. Gods and goddesses possess anthropoid forms which may be magnified &/or modified in the majority of cases, usually with multiple body parts like multiple heads or arms (for example 4 heads of Lord Bramhaa, 5 heads of Lord Shiva or 6 heads of Lord Kartikeya; 4, 6, 8, 10 or 18 arms of Goddess Durga, 4 arms of Lord Vishnu etc.). Sometimes these forms are part human and part animal (like Elephant-headed Lord Ganesha or some of the Avatars of Lord Vishnu).

Moreover, genders are applied to these manifestations of the Absolute for the benefit of the common man - thus we get gods and goddesses who are nothing but the comprehensible forms of the Absolute Bramha. Moreover, Hinduism has given a wide variety of choice to the common man to chose the deity which is closest to his liking and imagination, be it a/many gods or goddesses. Thus we see the emergence of various sects like the Shaivites (who primarily worship Lord Shiva in His various forms), the Vaishnavites (who primarily worship Lord Vishnu in His various forms) or the Shakta-s (who primarily worship Mother Goddess Shakti in Her various forms).
The Shakta-s worship the Primal Energy or the Mother Goddess Shakti in many forms like Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati etc. This list also includes some minor or regional goddesses like Manasa (the goddess of the snakes), Shitala (the goddess who controls dreaded diseases like small pox) etc.
The subject is vast and very complicated, and in this article we are not entering into that. Here, our subject of discussion is Goddess Kali in the decorations of the temples of West Bengal, though we'll touch a little bit on Goddess Kali Herself which are relevant to our discussion.

Lord Bramhaa with 4 heads on a swan; terracotta; Pancharatna Shiva temple; Itanda, Birbhum

Lord Bramhaa with 4 heads on a swan; terracotta; Pancharatna Shiva temple; Itanda, Birbhum

Panchanan Shiva (Shiva with 5 heads); terracotta; Jagannath temple, Sujagunj, Medinipur

Panchanan Shiva (Shiva with 5 heads); terracotta; Jagannath temple, Sujagunj, Medinipur

Goddess Durga in two different forms Chandraghanta and Kushmanda (both with 10 arms); painted stucco; Shtala temple, Medinipur town.

Goddess Durga in two different forms Chandraghanta and Kushmanda (both with 10 arms); painted stucco; Shtala temple, Medinipur town.

Goddess Kali

Goddess Kali is one of the fierce manifestations of the Mother Goddess. Though later assimilated in the Vedic culture, Goddess Kali predates the Aryan civilization. Experts have opined that the origin of Kali can be traced back to Pre-Aryan Harappan civilization. The cult of worshiping the Mother Goddess was prevailing in the Harappan period, and that is linked to Kali worship with some modification. In Bengal and adjoining region, this ancient cult of worshiping a Mother Goddess who had a bird like face is thought to be the precursor of Kali cult. However, the subject is complex, and not suitable to be discussed in this article which has a different objective. In any case, Goddess Kali was later incorporated in the Vedic tradition, though retaining some of the rituals of the previous Non-Vedic era. In the Puranic stories, Goddess Kali was created from the body of Goddess Durga to Kill evil demons Shumbha and Nishumbha.

She is generally depicted as dark complexioned, with 4 arms, naked except wearing a short skirt made of severed human hands, wears a garland of 50 severed human heads and usually Lord Shiva is shown lying at Her feet with the goddess putting a feet on Lord Shiva's chest. She is usually accompanied by Her two companions Jaya and Vijaya and some fierce looking demigods. There are volumes of discussions about Goddess Kali's appearance, but we are not entering into those here.
Goddess Kali is widely worshipped by the Hindus all over the world in Her various forms. In Bengal Goddess Kali is perhaps the most revered form of the Mother Goddess if we consider the number of temples dedicated to Her. Almost every Bengali Hindu keeps a picture of Goddess Kali in his/her home, and whenever and wherever possible, Bengali people establish a Kali temple. Some famous medieval and modern sages of Bengal like Bama Khyapa, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Ramprasad, Kamalakanta, Bhabaa Pagla etc. to name a few are staunch worshippers of Goddess Kali. Songs written with Kali as the subject are called "Shyama Sangeet" ("Shyama" being the other name of Goddess Kali and "Sangeet" means songs). Shyama Sangeet is a unique property of the Bengali literature. Not only the Hindus, famous Muslim poets like Kaji Nazrul Islam has also written some beautiful Shyama Sangeet.

Though Goddess Kali is worshipped in various forms, the common forms are Dakshina Kali, Vama Kali, Shyama Kali, Raksha Kali, Shmashan Kali, Siddheshwari Kali, Kokamukhi Kali, Vidyutjihbha Kali, Krishna Kali etc.

Goddess Kali in Dakshina Kali form. Lord Shiva is lying at Her feet, and She has put her right foot on Shiva's chest. Kali is accompanied by her companions.

Goddess Kali in Dakshina Kali form. Lord Shiva is lying at Her feet, and She has put her right foot on Shiva's chest. Kali is accompanied by her companions.

Dakshina Kali

This is the commonest form of Goddess Kali as worshipped in Bengal and adjoining areas. Most of the Kali temples have this Kali Murti (image) installed in the sanctum.

Some important features of Dakshina Kali are : i) Dark black complexion; ii) the upper right hand is in Varada Mudra, the lower right hand is in Abhoya Mudra, the upper left hand holds a Kharga (sword like weapon) and the lower left hand holds a severed human head with dripping blood. Lord Shiva is lying in a North-South direction at her feet, and She puts Her right foot on Shiva's chest. In the"Tantra" scriptures, this form of Kali is called "Pratyaleedpada".

As already said, majority of Kali temples have this form of Goddess Kali. Some of the famous Dakshina Kali temples are Kali temple of Dakshnineshwar of Ramakrishna Paramahansa fame; Bramhamoyee Kali temple of Mulajore, Shyamnagar, North 24-Parganas district (associated with legends of the famous saint-poet Ramprasad); Shyama Sundari Kali of Halishahar,North 24-Parganas; Kripamoyee Kali of Baranagar, North Kolkata; Punte Kali of North Kolkata; Kali of Adyapith, North 24-Parganas; Prasannamoyee Kali of Gobardanga, North 24-Parganas; Dayamoyee Kali of Chunchura, district Hooghly; Anandamoyee Kali of Krishna Nagar, district Nadia; Dakshina Kali of Malancha, Kharagpur, ditrict Medinipur; Dakshina Kali of Makrapara , Madarihat near Indo-Bhutan border and the famous Kali of Kalighat, South Kolkata.
There are a large number of Dakshina Kali temples which are not mentioned here.

The famous Kali temple of Kalighat, Kolkata

The famous Kali temple of Kalighat, Kolkata

Vama Kali

In this form, which is rather uncommon, Goddess Kali is depicted with Her left foot on the chest of Lord Shiva who is lying at Her feet. In the "Tantra" scriptures, this form of Kali is called "Aaleedpada". With a minor difference of the fact that Vama Kali holds a Kharga in Her right upper hand, She is otherwise almost like the Dakshina Kali form.

Vama Kali; stucco; Giri Govardhan temple; Kotulpur, Bankura

Vama Kali; stucco; Giri Govardhan temple; Kotulpur, Bankura

Shyama Kali

This is milder form of Dakshina Kali with a lighter grey-blue complexion. In this form Goddess Kali is usually worshipped by the house-holders. As per scriptures, Shyama Kali should be worshipped in the public places as during the annual festival of Kali Puja.

Raksha Kali

Goddess Kali is worshipped in this form to get rid of epidemics and natural disasters. The name "Raksha Kali" means She protects Her devotees from those calamities ("Raksha" = Protection).

Classically, Raksha Kali is slightly different from the above mentioned Kali Murtis. She is dark black in complexion, wears a tiger skin, stands on a lion with Her right foot on it and the left foot on Lord Shiva, and in Her 4 hands She holds a Kharga (right upper hand), Bow and arrow (right lower hand), a vessel filled with alcohol ("Madya Patra" in left upper hand) and a severed human head in Her left lower hand. However, when Goddess Kali is worshipped by common people, this classical form is not always followed.

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Shmashan Kali

"Shmashan" means the Cremation ground where the dead bodies are cremated, and "Shmashan Kali" is the form of Goddess Kali who resides in the cremation ground. This is the fiercest form of Goddess Kali. In iconography Shmashan Kali is similar to Dakshina Kali. This form of Kali is not worshipped by common people or house-holders. Priests with special qualities or Sadhus are entitled to perform the Puja of Shmashan Kali.

In many famous and not-so-famous cremation grounds, Shmashan Kali temples can be seen.

Siddheshwari Kali

This is a milder form of Goddess Kali. She wears a dress ("Saari") in this form in stead of the skirt of severed Human hands. One very important feature of Siddheshwari Kali is that Lord Shiva who is lying at Her feet is positioned in an East-West direction.

Siddheshwari Kali is often equated with "Dakatey Kali" (Kali as worshipped by dacoits or bandits). There are many Shiddheshwari Kali temples in Bengal, some bearing the name "Dakat/Dakatey Kali" temples.Some notable Siddheshwari Kali temples are Firingi Kali temple and Thanthania Kali temple of Kolkata; Siddheshwari Kali temple of Bagbazar, Kolkata; "Dakat Kali" of Singur, district Hooghly; Siddheshwari Kali of Ranaghat, district Nadia etc.

Siddheshwari Kali; Damodar temple; Hadal-Narayanpur, Bankura

Siddheshwari Kali; Damodar temple; Hadal-Narayanpur, Bankura

Dakat Kali temple; Singur, Hooghly

Dakat Kali temple; Singur, Hooghly

Krishna-Kali

In this form, Goddess Kali and Lord Krishna are merged together. The mythological story goes like this. Once while Lord Krishna was with Radha who personified Love for the Lord but in worldly life was the wife of Ayan Ghosh who was the brother of Yashoda, the foster-mother of Lord Krishna. Suddenly Ayan Ghosh came there. Ayan Ghosh was suspecting that his wife was having an affair with Krishna. But Lord Krishna knew about Ayan's moves beforehand, and He transformed Himself into a Kali Murti, so that Radha could be seen as worshipping Goddess Kali. Henceforth, this form of Goddess Kali became known as "Krishna Kali".

In this form, Goddess Kali is usually seen standing with a crossed-leg posture which was a well-known posture of Lord Krishna.

There is a temple dedicated to Krishna-Kali at Keoratala Cremation Ground in South Kolkata.

Krishna Kali Vigraha; Keoratola cremation ground; Kolkata

Krishna Kali Vigraha; Keoratola cremation ground; Kolkata

Krishna Kali from a templeof Joypur village, district Bankura

Krishna Kali from a templeof Joypur village, district Bankura

Kokamukhi Kali and Vidyutjihva Kali

These are rare forms of Goddess Kali. As Kokamukhi Kali She appears with a face of a jackal or wolf while fighting with the demons, and the Vidyutjihva form is a variant of the Kokamukhi form where the goddess with the face of a jackal/wolf has a very long protruding tongue by which she captures and devours the demons. These are fierce forms of the goddess and are very rare.

Shibikhya is a goddess with similar form. Shibikhya and Kokamukhi Devi are two rare forms of Goddess Kali/ Chandi. There is a "Thaan" (primitive temple with a piece of rock as the deity) of goddess Shibikhya near "Surath Raja-r Dhibi" in Birbhum district. Apart from this, the present author has no knowledge about the presence of any temple dedicated to Kokamukhi or Vidyutjihva Kali, though She is depicted in these forms in terracotta panels in the decoration of some temples.

Kokamukhi Kali; terracotta; Shiva temple; Baghtikra, Purva Bardhaman

Kokamukhi Kali; terracotta; Shiva temple; Baghtikra, Purva Bardhaman

Goddess Kali in the decorations of temples in West Bengal

Goddess Kali has been depicted in the decorations of many temples in West Bengal.

Here is an interesting point to note - the temples where Goddess Kali is depicted in the decorations are mostly dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna. Only few Kali temples has Goddess Kali in their decorations (eg. Hadkata Kali temple, Itanda, district Birbhum and Ananda Bhairavi temple of Sukharia, district Hooghly). This means that there was a universal acceptance of Goddess Kali among the devotees of different sects like the Shaivites, the Vaishnavites or the Shakta-s.

Materials and methods

The present article is the result of a field study conducted overs several years covering more than 200 temples with external decorations from different districts of West Bengal by the author.
The author personally visited the temples, extensively photographed the decorations and done an analysis of the photos. The results are presented here.

District-wise distribution of the temples where Kali is found in decorations

1. Bankura - 08 (17.1%)

2. Birbhum - 15 (31.9%)

3. Hooghly - 05 (10.7%)
4. Murshidabad - 07 (14.9%)
5. Paschim Bardhaman - 02 (4.3%)
6. Paschim Medinipur - 03 (6.3%)
7. Purva Bardhaman - 06 (12.7%)
8. Purulia - 01 (2.1%)

Total - 47 temples

Gods and goddesses as the presiding deity in the temples visited for field study

1. Shiva - 150 (72.5%)

2. Vishnu/Krishna - 39 (18.9%)
3. Kali - 8 (3.8%)
4. Others - 10 (4.8%)

Total = 207 temples

Deity-wise distribution of the temples where Kali is found in decorations

1. Shiva - 32 (68.1%)

2. Vishnu/Krishna - 11 (23.4%)

3. Kali - 03 (6.4%)
4. Others - 01 (2.1)

Total = 47 temples.

Presence of Goddess Kali in different temples in this series :

Temple ---- Total number ---- Kali present

Shiva temple --- 150 ------ 32
Vishnu/Krishna ---- 39 ------ 11
Kali ----- 08 ------- 03
Miscellaneous ----- 10 -------- 01

Total ------ 207 ------- 47 (22.7%)

So, in nearly one fourth of the temples visited for this study have Kali in sime form in their decorations. This is an important observation.

Presence of Goddess Kali in the decorations of Kali temples

1. In this series of 207 temples, there are 08 temples dedicated to Goddess Kali (3.8%). Of these 08 temples, terracotta or stucco decorations are present in 06 temples (75%).

2. Out of the 06 temples with terracotta/stucco decorations, only 3 (50%) have Goddess Kali in their decorations.

3. So, it is clear that it is not the rule that Kali temples will have Goddess Kali in their decorations.

Hadkata/Jorbangla Kali temple; Itanda, Birbhum. This is a Kali temple with Kali in its terracotta wall decoration.

Hadkata/Jorbangla Kali temple; Itanda, Birbhum. This is a Kali temple with Kali in its terracotta wall decoration.

Ananda Bhairavi Temple; Sukharia, Hooghly. This is another Kali temple with Kali in its terracotta wall decoration.decoration.

Ananda Bhairavi Temple; Sukharia, Hooghly. This is another Kali temple with Kali in its terracotta wall decoration.decoration.

Number of Kali images in all forms found in this series :

1. Shiva temples (33 in number) - Kali images found = 38

2. Vishnu/Krishna temples (11 in number) - Kali images found = 13

3. Kali temples (03 in number) - Kali images found = 06
4. Others (01 in number) - Kali images found = 02

So, the total number of Kali images found in these 47 temples with Kali in their decorations is 59.
This is because some temples have more than 1 pictures of the goddess in their decorations.

Medium of decorations

In general, temple decorations in West Bengal are principally of terracotta plaques and the second most common medium is stucco. Other mediums like stone-work, wood-carving, metal-carving and paintings like murals or fresco are not common.

In the present series, following this general pattern, all except a few cases are in terracotta plaques. The exceptions are :

i) Kali in stucco : In Giri Govardhan temple of Bhadra family of Kotulpur, and in Ekteshwar Shiva temple, both in Bankura district;
ii) Kali in mural/painting : in Kalleshwar Shiva temple, district Birbhum;
iii) Kali in wood carving : In Radhakantajiu temple in Medinipur Town a Krishna Kali image can be seen in wood carving.

Kali in terracotta; Charbangla temple, Baronagar, Murshidabad

Kali in terracotta; Charbangla temple, Baronagar, Murshidabad

Kali in stucco (painted); Ekteshwar Shiva temple; Bankura

Kali in stucco (painted); Ekteshwar Shiva temple; Bankura

Kali in mural; Kalleshwar Shiva temple, Birbhum

Kali in mural; Kalleshwar Shiva temple, Birbhum

Krishna Kali in wood carving (painted); Radhakantajiu temple, Medinipur

Krishna Kali in wood carving (painted); Radhakantajiu temple, Medinipur

Analysis of various forms of Goddess Kali in this series

Before going into the analysis proper, certain facts need explanation.

1. It is already said that the direction of Lord Shiva lying at the feet of Goddess Kali is an important feature in different forms of the goddess (in Dakshina Kali and its variants, Lord Shiva is in North-South direction and in case of Siddheshwari Kali He is in East-West direction). But since all of these examples are in relief work on terracotta or stucco, it is almost impossible to differentiate between the directions of Lord Shiva.

2. It has to be kept in mind that in the terracotta and stucco works which are mostly 100-250 years old and eroded to various degrees for being constantly exposed to the elements, it is not always easy or even possible to identify finer details so that the variants of Dakshina Kali (like Shyama Kali or Shmashan Kali) are in most cases indistinguishable. So, for practical purposes, we see basically 07 types of Kali images in temple decorations :

i) Dakshina Kali (13);
ii) Vama Kali (03);
iii) Siddheshwari Kali(12),
iv) Krishna Kali (09);
v) Kokamukhi Kali (Vidyutjihva Kali is a variant of Kokamukhi Kali) (05);
vi) Tantrik Kali (03);
vii) "Saadaa" Kali (03).

Besides these, there are few Kali images which are of special types (discussed later).

3. In the decorations of temples in West Bengal, the present author has failed to find any Kali wearing the tiger skin (as described in scriptures for Raksha kali).

Dakshina Kali in Bengal temple decorations

Dakshina Kali is the most common form of Goddess Kali, and this is reflected in the present series (05 case out of 39 Kalis; 12.8%).

The identifying points are
i) Upper left hand holds the Kharga.
ii) Right foot placed on Shiva's chest.

iii) Right hands are in Abhoya and Varada Mudra-s.

Some of the temples having Dakshina Kali in their decorations are :
i) Laksmi Janardan temple of Ghurisha, district Birbhum;
ii) Damodar temple of Hadal-Narayanpur (Mejo Taraf); district Bankura;
iii) Ananda Bhairavi temple of Sukharia, distirict Hooghly;
iv)Shiva temple of Bankati, Paschim Bardhaman district;
v) Charbangla temple, Baronagar, district Murshidabad.
vi) Shiva temple, Bankati, Paschim Bardhaman district;
vii) Lakshmi Janardan temple, Ghurisha, district Birbhum;
viii) Giri Govardhan temple, Kotulpur, district Bankura (this is in stucco);
ix) Kalleshwar Shiva temple; Birbhum (this is in painting/Mural);
x) Ekteshwar Shiva temple; Bankura district (painted stucco);
xi) Nabaratna Shiva temple; Panchthupi, disrtict Murshidabad;
xii) Nandeshwar temple; Sahachak, Malancha, Kharagpur, Paschim Medinipur;
xiii) Shiva temple, Sribati, Purva Bardhaman district.

Dakshina Kali; terracotta; Damodar temple; Hadal-Narayanpur, Bankurs

Dakshina Kali; terracotta; Damodar temple; Hadal-Narayanpur, Bankurs

Dakshina Kali; terracotta; Pancharatna Shiva temple; Panchthupi, Murshidabad

Dakshina Kali; terracotta; Pancharatna Shiva temple; Panchthupi, Murshidabad

Dakshina Kali in terracotta; Lakshmi Janardan temple; Ghurisha, Birbhum

Dakshina Kali in terracotta; Lakshmi Janardan temple; Ghurisha, Birbhum

Vama Kali in Bengal temple decorations

The identifying point of Vama Kali is the placement of the left foot of the goddess on Lord Shiva's chest.

This is rather rare in the decorations of temples in West Bengal. Three examples in this series are :
i) Giri Govardhan temple; Kotulpur
ii) Charbangla temple of Baronagar, Murshidabad district;
iii) A Shiva temple of Surul, district Birbhum;

Vama Kali ; Giri Govardhan temple, Kotulpur, Bankura

Vama Kali ; Giri Govardhan temple, Kotulpur, Bankura

Vama Kali; Charbangla temple, Baronagar, Murshidabad

Vama Kali; Charbangla temple, Baronagar, Murshidabad

Siddheshwari Kali

Identifying point of this milder form of Goddess Kali is that the goddess is seen as dressed in a "Saari"". Kali as Siddhashwari is seen in some temples. Notable examples are :

i) Damodar temple of Hadal-Narayanpur, district Bankura;
ii) Charbangla temple of Baronagar, district Murshidabad;
iii) Rajrajeshwar temple of Dwarhatta, district Hooghly;
iv) Pancha Ratna Shiva temple, Itanda, district Birbhum;
v) A Shiva temple in Nanur, district Birbhum;
vi) A Shiva temple of Uchkaran village, district Birbhum;
vii) A Shiva temple at Bankati, Paschim Bardhaman didtrict;
viii) Damodar temple; HNpur (Mejo Taraf);
ix) Rajrajeshwar temple, Dwarhatta, district Hooghly;
x) Dakshina Kali temple; Sahachak, Malancha, Paschim Medinipur (this is wihout Shiva) - 2 terracotta palques show Siddheshwari Kali. One of those has Her left foot on Shiva's chest like the standard Vama Kali.
xi) Sridhar temple; Sonamukhi, district Bankura. This Siddheshwari image is without Shiva.

xii) Radha Govinda temple, Aantpur, district Hooghly.

Siddheshwari Kali; terracotta; Uchkaran Shiva temple, Birbhum

Siddheshwari Kali; terracotta; Uchkaran Shiva temple, Birbhum

Siddheshwari Kali; Dakshina Kali temple; Sahachak, Malancha; Paschim Medinipur

Siddheshwari Kali; Dakshina Kali temple; Sahachak, Malancha; Paschim Medinipur

Siddheshwari Kali in terracotta; Pancharatna Shiva temple; Itanda, Birbhum

Siddheshwari Kali in terracotta; Pancharatna Shiva temple; Itanda, Birbhum

Siddheshwari Kali in terracotta; Radha Govinda temple; Aantpur, Hooghly district temple

Siddheshwari Kali in terracotta; Radha Govinda temple; Aantpur, Hooghly district temple

Krishna Kali

Krishna Kali is depicted in some temples. Mostly these are in terracotta, though in Radhakantajiu temple of Medinipur town we can see a Krishna Kali in wood carving. Also, there is an image of Krishna Kali in stucco in the Giri Govardhan temple of Kotulpur, district Bankura :

i) Narayana temple of Joypur village, district Bankura (whole story is depicted in a fine terracotta panel);

ii) Giri Govardhan temple of Kotulpur, district Bankura ( a stucco work, and a terracotta relief);
iii) A Shiva temple of Ajodhya village, Paschim Bardhaman district;
iv) Damodar temple of Hadal-Narayanpur, district Bankura;
v) A Shiva temple of Surul, district Birbhum;
vi) Radhakantajiu temple of Medinipur town (it is a wood carving);
vi) Shiva temple, Sribati, Purva Bardhaman district.

vii) Pratapeshwar temple, Kalna, Purva Barddhaman district.

Krishna kali in terracotta; Shiva temple; Ajodhya, Paschim Bardhaman.

Krishna kali in terracotta; Shiva temple; Ajodhya, Paschim Bardhaman.

The full story of Krishna Kali is depicted in terracotta; Narayan temple; Jaipur, Bankura

The full story of Krishna Kali is depicted in terracotta; Narayan temple; Jaipur, Bankura

Krishna Kali; Giri Govardhan temple; Kotulpur, Bankura

Krishna Kali; Giri Govardhan temple; Kotulpur, Bankura

Krishna kali; Shiva temple; Surul, Birbhum

Krishna kali; Shiva temple; Surul, Birbhum

Krishna Kali; Pratapeshwar temple, Kalna; Purva Barddhaman district

Krishna Kali; Pratapeshwar temple, Kalna; Purva Barddhaman district

Kokamukhi Kali and Vidyutjihva Kali

As already discussed, these are rare forms of Goddess Kali. As Kokamukhi Kali She appeares with a face of a jackal or wolf while fighting with the demons, and the Vidyutjihva form is a variant of the Kokamukhi form where the goddess with the face of a jackal/wolf has a very long protruding tongue by which she captures and devours the demons. These are fierce forms of the goddess and are very rare and can be seen in terracotta panels in the decoration of some temples like :

i) A Shiva temple in Baghtikra, district Purva Bardhaman;
ii) the Raghunath Shiva temple of Ghurisha, district Birbhum;

iii) Radha Vinod temple; Cheliama, district Purulia.

iv) Charbangla temple; Baronagar, Murshidabad district.

Kokamukhi Kali in battle; Radhavinod temple; Cheliama, Purulia

Kokamukhi Kali in battle; Radhavinod temple; Cheliama, Purulia

Kokamukhi Kali; terracotta; Shiva temple; Baghtikra, Purva Bardhaman

Kokamukhi Kali; terracotta; Shiva temple; Baghtikra, Purva Bardhaman

Kokamukhi Kali; Raghunath Shiva temple; Ghurisha, Birbhum

Kokamukhi Kali; Raghunath Shiva temple; Ghurisha, Birbhum

Vidyutjihva Kali; Baghtikra, Purva Bardhaman

Vidyutjihva Kali; Baghtikra, Purva Bardhaman

Some special forms of Goddess Kali as seen in Bengal temple decorations

These are :

1. Goddess Kali sitting on two Shiva-s : This is often called "Tantrik Kali" (Kali as per the tradition of Tantra). Here, two Shiva-s are depicted lying one on top of the other below Goddess Kali who is sitting on the op Shiva in a posture known as "Bipareet-Rataa-Tura" (meaning in reverse copulation posture where the female is on the top).
In this form, the Shiva lying at the bottom is called "Sadashiva" (Inert Shiva, equated with Inert Brahma) and the Shiva on top is called "Mahakal Shiva" (Active Shiva,