Gurudev, you have talked about Solah Kalas (referring to the sixteen
extraordinary abilities or Divine qualities). Which are these and what
is their importance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The word Kala usually refers to the extent by
which the moon waxes (or wanes) in one day. So by this understanding,
the Moon possesses 16 different Kalas (different phases of the
Moon). You can observe this from one Amavasya (No-moon day) to the
next Purnima (Full moon day). So if you count the number of days
from one Amavasya to the next Purnima, it turns out to be 16. And
the transition from No-Moon to the Full Moon also symbolizes moving
from Zero (nothingness) to Fullness.
On the no-moon day you don’t see the moon at all, and on the full moon
day you see the complete moon. This does not mean that the Moon is not
there on the day of Amavasya. No, it is still there. So by this
understanding, these are called the Solah Kalas. On the day of solar
eclipse, for example, the Moon is there but it cannot be seen, that’s
So the word Kala is a unit of measure of one’s power, or by what
degree one has blossomed or progressed. So, someone may be like a
half-moon, someone else may have reached to three quarters of the moon
and so on. This was a means of measurement in the ancient days.
In those days, it was said that the life or Prana in a stone is equal
to one Kala, the water element is said to have two Kalas. Fire has
three Kalas, Vayu (Air element) has four, and the Space or Akash
has five. Plants and trees are said to have six Kalas. Animals have
seven Kalas. Human beings have eight Kalas.
If it is an extraordinary human being then he is said to have nine
Kalas. It is said that Lord Parashurama (one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu) had nine Kalas. They say Lord Rama has 12 Kalas. Lord
Hanuman is greater than Him in this regard and is said to have 14
Kalas. That is why he could help Lord Rama. Only a person who is stronger than us can help us.
The Devi (Mother Divine) is called Shodashakala (The One with all 16
Divine qualities or attributes). It means that she possess all divine
and noble qualities, and lacks nothing. Lord Krishna too is said to
have all 16 Kalas, which is why He is called as the Solah Kala
sampurna or the Purna Avataar. To have all 16 Kalas means to
possess all the 16 qualities or signs attributed to the total
blossoming and manifestation of Divinity.
If you see the Devi, on one side she is so beautiful and full of love
and grace, but on the other side, she is also Maa Kali (one of her
more terrifying and violent manifestations).
She is graceful and serene, but at the same time she also has a
terrifying and violent aspect to Her as. Goddess Durga is very
terrifying and awe-inspiring, while Goddess Lakshmi is very calm and
You can see all the opposite aspects of Divinity coming together in
the Devi. The all-bestowing Goddess Lakshmi rides the harmless owl
(the mount), and the vanquisher of evil and ignorance, Goddess Durga
rides the fierce lion. Just imagine, where would you see both the owl,
and the lion!
In the same way Lord Krishna is also said to have possessed all the
Solah Kalas. Why is this so? In Lord Krishna, you see the complete and total manifestation of Divinity in every way. He is so complete.
He is the King of thieves. He does not steal small things, he steals
away your very mind. That is why He is called as Chita-Chora (the
beautiful One who completely captures and steals away the mind).
He is also called as Ranchhodrai (meaning the cowardly one who flees
the battlefield) in Gujarat. They say that He ran away from the
battlefield in the middle of the war. But on the other side He lifted
up the Sudarshan Chakra (the Lord’s divine discus) to defeat
Bhishma Pitamaha (the grandsire of the Pandavas and the Kauravas in the Mahabharata) . So He is very brave and valiant too.
So, on one side he is very brave and on the other side he is like a
coward. One cannot even imagine how complete he is. He is obedient as
well, but He is also the one who breaks the rules.
In the Bhagawat, it is mentioned at many places that Lord Krishna is
perfect and complete in every possible aspect. That is why it is said
that one should not emulate Lord Krishna (Laughter). Follow the path
of Lord Rama and listen to Lord Krishna. Don’t walk in the way that
Lord Krishna did. If you go and steal the clothes of a lady, you will
be in big trouble (jokingly referring to one of the pastimes of the
Lord where He steals the clothes of some ladies bathing in the river
and hides them on a tree).