Is there a link to a simple explanation of the twelve Kalis in Kashmir Shaivism ?

I’m finding contradictory info online. Has some proper Hinduism academic persons or acharya written treatise on this ? From Hindu texts ?

Thank you

1 Answer 1


According to this article, Abhinavagupta discusses the system of Twelve Kālīs quoting Sārdhaśatika. Even though other authorities state different numbers, the number 12 is commonly accepted (also see this article).

The twelve Kālīs mentioned are:

1 Sṛṣṭikālī
2 Sthitikālī
3 Saṃhārakālī
4 Raktakālī
5 Svakālī (Sukālī )
6 Yamakālī
7 Mṛtyukālī
8 Rudrakālī (Bhadrakālī )
9 Paramārkakālī
10 Mārtāṇḍakālī
11 Kālāgnirudrakālī
12 Mahākālī (Parākālī, Mahākālakālī, Kālakālī )

As for academic research, this article posted in the "Journal of Indian Philosophy", researches the (Kashmir) tantric scriptures teaching the doctrine of the twelve Kālīs. In short:

For the tenth-eleventh-century polymath Abhinavagupta, the founder of the Trika, the twelve Kālīs represent the “arising of the wheel of consciousness” unfolding in the wheel of the inexplicable and they are described as such in detail in chapter IV of his Tantrāloka.

More detailled:

Kṣemarāja, in his commentary on the first verse of the Spandakārikā, identifies the twelve Kālīs—called the ‘ray-goddesses’—with the ‘wheel of powers’, which he glosses, in cosmological terms, as the cause of the creative evolution of the universe that goes through the four stages of exertion, manifestation, relishing, and dissolution.

The article contains thorough research and is worth reading if you are interested in the link between Kashmir Shaivism and the Twelve Kalis, and its origins.

  • This is very helpful, thanks so much ! I can’t seem to upvote yet, will do so when I can. The last article seems great, will slowly go through that and make some notes. Jan 7 at 1:43
  • 1
    You're welcome! Jan 9 at 20:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .