Updated: Apr 12, 2020

I'm not a part of any religion but I am extremely interested in all of them, because they contain eons of wisdom, for those who want to look. One of the religions I have always felt close to is Buddhism, and trough years of learning about it I have grown more and more interested in Hinduism. With this painting Hinduism is the religion that inspired me.

2018. oil on canvas, 92x73cm

Mahakali - the divine mother

The hindu deity of consciousness Mahakali is described as an abstract energy and as many gods in Hinduism, this one has different manifestations. Here we can see her as Kali, surrounded by flowers used in her celebrations, the Marigolds. I painted Kali with the eight hands of virtue which connect her to the higher consciousness.  

Kali, personification of the divine mother, wife of Shiva, is often represented as standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm underneath her.

Why did I choose this scary looking deity? I feel connected to her and after you read this, I'm sure you will be able to appreciate why.

Scary freedom


When the English came to India they were scared and offended when they saw paintings of Kali. She had a frightening face, with a fericious look and her tong hanging out angrily. Her hear was wild, curly, untamed. She was naked, covered only with her hair, a skirt made of human arms and a garland of human heads. This deity was very different from the others that were usually calm ,in meditation pose. So Kali was banned, in a way. When I read this, it makes me think that we, Europeans, had to be the least open-minded people on the planet in those days. Now let me tell you about Kali and her story.

This is one of the versions of Kali's birth, from which comes the painting she is so famous for. It starts with the demon Raktabija. Every time a drop of his blood spilt to the ground it would transform into a seed and sprout a duplicate of himself. That made him indestructible and no deity was able to defeat him. According to this version of the myht of Kali, all the deities gathered to create a god that could defeat Raktabija, and they made Kali. She defeated him by drinking every drop of his blood before it would hit the ground. Losing her mind because of the demon's blood she drank, she entered a furious rampage, destroying everything around her. So Shiva let her step on him and when she realized what she was doing, she came back from her madness and fury. This was possible because Kali is actually the most kind-hearted goddess of all Hindu gods. There is another legendary stroy about how Shiva would turn into a child to win against Kali (in a game), because above all she is a mother.

Kali is the personification of that aspect of the divine mother that compassionately destroys the ego.

Of all the forms of devi, she is the most compassionate because she provides liberation to her children. She is the counterpart of Shiva the destroyer. They are the destroyers of the illusions. The ego sees Mother Kali and trembles with fear because the ego sees in her its own eventual demise. People who are attached to their ego will not be receptive to Mother Kali and she will then appear in a fearsome form to them. A mature soul who engages in spiritual practice to remove the illusion of the ego sees Mother Kali as very sweet, affectionate, and overflowing with immeasurable love for her children.

I chose to paint this deity because Kali is, for me, our true self: unapologetic, she doesn't care about what others think, she is kind to all but indifferent to other's ego and her own. Freed of her own illusions of reality, she is able to shine her true self. She is surrounded by Marigolds in celebration of the true self - celebrating my true self, celebrating...


The explanation is focused on this specific painting, but to understand where the whole idea comes from, why I did this collection, please read my artist statement on my collection ‘BEAUTY OF US’, by clicking the link:

#mahakali #beautyofus #petkovicart

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