Kamalakanta : Is my black Mother Syama really black?

Kamalakanta Bhattacharya (1769-1821 CE) was a Brahmin priest from Bengal who became famous as a singer poet. HIs songs were made in devotion to Kali, wife of the god Shiva, the black-skinned goddess most often portrayed as a destroyer, with bloodstained lips and a garland of skulls. Syama or Shyama means dark-skinned.

Is my black Mother Syama really black?
People say Kali is black,
but my heart doesn’t agree.
If She’s black,
how can She light up the world?
Sometimes my Mother is white,
sometimes yellow, blue, and red.
I cannot fathom Her.
My whole life has passed

She is Matter,
then Spirit,
then complete Void.

It’s easy to see
how Kamalakanta
     thinking these things
went crazy.

Translation Rachel Fell McDermott

2 Replies to “Kamalakanta : Is my black Mother Syama really black?”

  1. Puran

    Hi Murshid,

    Just a short question:

    When the poet says “I cannot fathom her” does it mean that God cannot be measured ?

    Thank you ,


    • Nawab Pasnak Post author

      Beloved brother Puran, thank you for the question. In this case, ‘to fathom’ probably means ‘to get to the bottom of,’ or ‘to understand.’ So, not quite as definite as ‘cannot be measured,’ but moving in that direction.


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