Kala : God of Time and Death

In Western culture we have personified the idea of death in myth as the Grim Reaper. But in Hindu and East Asian stories they have a much richer conception. It is why it’s so critical as writers we look beyond our own culture for ways in which other people have used their mind’s imagination and spiritual insight to see the deeper and darker symbols that lie embedded in our shadowy unconscious.

In Java Mythology we have a more frightening concept for Time and Death in the form of a being called Kala. He comes from an earlier prototype found in Regvedic Hindu story, the original form being Yama. But Kala for the East Asians was a great demonic giant whose open mouth covered doors and portals in temples and shrines. He was thus like the Roman Janus or God of Doors, yet with a more spiritual purpose. Kala was the symbol of the destruction of one’s own spirit which was devoured as you entered the doors to these temples. It was about entering the pits of one’s one unconscious and reborn like Vishnu and the other Gods just as the universe itself will someday be destroyed by Kala as Time and reborn. The idea of using this image in stone gateways thus connects architecture with the spiritual journey, which I find fascinating and powerful.
And so these ancient cultures, unlike the West, saw death as but a gateway to rebirth, not Heaven or eternal damnation. It wasn’t the end but a NEW BEGINNING. And so Kala forms a very complex being born of Time and Change itself, frightening and yet welcoming to the initiate that walked into say the spiritual city of Borobudur in Java and climbed the great stone city from the jungle floor into the misty shrine of Buddha that lay at the summit. We thus see that Mythology is an amalgam of religions and beliefs but supersedes religion. Hinduism and Buddhism thus can merge, like Christianity and Capitalism, into a new myth. Yet all serve mythology and the culture and brain’s need to find meaning.
I’ve developed many of the characters in the Phantammeron books from both Western ideas as well as Asian and Hindu spiritual imagery. In my books I developed a similar being called Yana the Magra Oversoul, who is a violent storm sent to destroy the limitless forest called Phantaia in my first book. At the end its the Sacred Waters she devours that allow her to destroy herself through her own unlimited appetite, thereby releasing those waters into the forest to give it new life after she destroyed it. That rebirth theme, of life from death, comes from the Eastern view of Eternal Recurrence and yet the Resurrection of Christ…..combining the two ideas. But the Hindu and Java Batara Kala was my main inspiration for that being. The thousands of Gods and creatures coming in later books are also inspired by similar myths.
It’s why as we write stories and mythopoeia we should look beyond the shallow stereotypes of American culture with its hero worship and consumerism tied to the corporate mythology of happiness tied to product worship, and see in Eastern mythology a richer framework of myths, images, and ideas to inspire us towards a richer experience. All these frightening images are simply parts of our mind’s vast limitless symbology waiting to be rediscovered and enhanced. Its just up to us to revisit what our ancestors found in the vast unknown waters of the Self and use them to create even greater spiritual works in our own time.
– the Author
#kala #mythopoeia

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