Kali Worship for Martial Victory in Mahabharata and Ramayana
by New Bihar Mandir
Aravan, the son of Arjuna and a ravishing naga princess, gave himself up as a self-sacrifice to the Goddess Kali in the ritual known as Kalappali (“sacrifice to the battlefield”) in order to assure victory for the Pandavas. He was granted several boons in relation to this act, one of which being that he was able to enjoy Mohini (Visnu in the form of a female Enchantress) as his wife the night before, as well as that his head would remain alive (after his decapitation during the sacrifice) so as to view the entire remainder of the Battle of Kuruksetra (this is certainly a glaring sign of his kshatriya prowess!)
Not only in this Mahabharata pastime, but also in the Ramayana, the theme of sacrifice to Goddess Kali in order to assure victory on the battlefield is present. During the war between Ravana and his forces and the armies of Lakshmana, Rama and Sugriva, Indrajit (son of Ravana) arranged such a ritual in order to attempt to assure the success of him and his father. Lord Brahma acting as Indrajit’s benefactor granted him the boon that once this ritual was performed in propitiation to the Goddess Kali that he would be completely invincible on the field of battle until his opponent is annihilated. However there was also the caveat that if the yajna was interrupted that he could be killed.
In order to create a diversion and lower morale in the forces of Rama through black propaganda techniques, Indrajit created a hallucinatory illusion of Sita and brought her to the battle. After taunting Hanuman and abusing the illusory Sita, Indrajit proceeded to cut her in half. This was effective enough that Hanuman and the forces under his purview and command receded from the battlefield in order to inform Lakshmana and Hanuman that their mission (the rescue of Sita) was now in vain. Indrajit then slyly withdrew himself in order to perform the yajna:
“He made his way to a sanctuary in a cavern known as Nikumbhila. There he began to perform a ritual for assuring his victory in battle. Worshiping the powerful goddess Kali, a fearful form of the personified material energy, he made offerings of blood into a huge sacrificial fire. The demon knew the final battle would soon be fought. He had been granted a boon by Brahma that once having performed the ritual at Nikumbhila, he would remain completely invincible in battle until his enemy was defeated. The time for realizing that boon had arrived. Surrounded by other Rakshasas, Indrajit sat before the fire reciting the sacred mantras.” – Ramayana, Krishna Dharma version page 353
Certain Tamil tantrics hold that the form worshiped by Indrajit is known as Nikumbhila Devi and is self-same as Sri Pratyangira Devi – there is an interesting discussion thread concerning this topic at the following link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Pratyangira/message/139 – we hope that this pastime of worship of the Goddess Kali during Ramayana war has been interest to you all.
Your Servants at New Bihar Mandir
Devotees of Their Lordships Shree Shree Kalki-Kalika