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Encountering KālīIn the Margins, at the Center, in the West$
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Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey Kripal

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520232396

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520232396.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use (for details see www.california.universitypressscholarship.com/page/535/privacy-policy-and-legal-notice).date: 16 December 2018

Kālī Māyī

Kālī Māyī

Myth and Reality in a Banaras Ghetto

(p.124) Chapter 6 Kālī Māyī
Encountering Kālī

Rachel Fell McDermott

Jeffrey J. Kripal

University of California Press

The Aghorīs are one of the most enigmatic of all Hindu ascetic sects. Throughout North India, they are infamous for their extremely transgressive practices, which fly in the face of Brahmanical Hinduism's obsessive concern with ritual purity. The Aghorīs act out their denial of the distinction between spirit and substance, purity and pollution, by ingesting any form of food or intoxicant, engaging in a variety of sexual practices, ritually or otherwise, and allegedly meditating on dead bodies in cremation ground rites. Although they call themselves Śaivites, Aghorīs are nonetheless inextricably bound to the Goddess. This chapter focuses on a mysterious, spiritually masterful, and yet vulnerable Kālī in the form of a living incarnation. Kālī Māyī is an old woman, living in poverty, who acts as the priest in a small Kālī Māyī temple in Banaras. Although she is the catalyst for several transformative events in the author's life, Kālī Māyī is the victim of a local goonda, and it is the author herself, in an enraged and sympathetic response, who embodies the Goddess's compassionate revenge.

Keywords:   Aghorīs, Banaras, India, Kālī Māyī, Hinduism, Kālī, revenge

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