Summary: With instruction, a powerful little book.
Comment: Swami Satyananda Saraswati's Kali Puja book is breathtaking in its beauty and scope. Devotees who are serious about performing puja will find this to be an invaluable guide, providing all of the mantras and many of the mudras necessary for traditional household worship.
However, I suspect that this book was not meant to be used in a vacuum - that is, it seems designed to be used within the context of practical instruction with a qualified teacher. Beginners will find this book overwhelming and intense - except for a short and beautiful introduction on the nature of Kali as the Divine Mother, there is very little explanation of procedures and the deeper meanings of mantras. The translations are very literal, and thus can be difficult to parse - for instance, it is difficult for one who has never received diksha (initiation) to understand that the "subtle body" relates to the mind and all of those things which can be thought of. This is never explained in the text (though a good teacher should be able to elaborate on these things, and in fact www.devimandir.com has many Q&A; sessions in its archives that answer many of these questions, as well as free online courses on performance of various pujas).
If you are serious about performing traditional Kali Puja, this book is a necessity, but so is a qualified teacher. It may be easiest simply to read it through the first time and sit with it a while before attempting to actually perform any puja. I find this book most useful for its rich source material - things that were nearly impossible to find all in one place before the publication of this volume. If you want the correct spelling of Sanskrit mantras for Kali, this book is invaluable.
Summary: This text is not worth the paper its printed on
Comment: This book serves as a practical guide to worshipping the Goddess Kali. However, there are various downfalls to this book and I intend to discuss only the most pressing of these issues.
Firstly the methodology and most portions of this book are based on Maha-Nirvana Tantra; a contemporary kulachara (the tradition or sect of school) text which entails a generalized discussion between various methods, styles and classes of worshipping the Goddess.
It, in no way is the basis of true orthodox tantric stylus of invoking Devi. Texts like Maha Kala Samhita, Brihad Nila Tantra (incorporating Chinese and Nepali style of worshipping Kalika), Devi Rahasyam and Siddha Kapala Bhedana Samhita are texts which truly pertain to the "Tantric" worship of Kali; a feat which cannot be done so easily.
The book entails worshipping which is normally conducted (usually on a Monthly basis) in most Hindu homes dedicated to the orthodox worshipping of the Maha Vidyas (A list of ten Goddesses, most commonly incorporating Kali - no definite list is known) where Kalika is the major diety.
Kali Puja in reality incorporates a concept known as Prayoga, this simply translated means "application". Most people know that anyone devoute to their religion worship their God/Gods regularly. The same is true for most Hindus, and the regular Puja (prayer) is often classified as sadhana.
Sadhana is an archaic protocol based practice which is passed from generation to generation. Texts containing the architecture and practice of Sadhana are often called Tantras or Samhitas (lit. Compendium). The regular application of Sadhana results in the mastery of the practice, furthermore such masters apply their commonly routined practice into elaborate applications which result in various effects (i.e. premenitions, attracting a particular target and so on).
This book does not entail any such sadhana, it is a mere abstract of various different hymns and commonly used rituals. It does not even explain their symbolism, esoteric nature nor their potency, all of which are a MUST to be known by the practitioner prior to commencing such rituals. This is clearly stated in a text known as Mantra- Purushcharana; the big daddy of books when it comes to the ritualistic worship of most Dieties.
So In conclusion, the book has no orthodox practice pertaining to Tantric Worship. It may result in no "Tantric effects" such as prayogas nor will it yield any siddhi.
As Shiva said in the Rudrayamala tantra
"Without a master and without full knowledge, the application of tantra is merely like a helpless child crying in forest"
Bhairava in his Agamas also states that those who ignorantly invoke the power of the Goddess will get nothing but harm from it.
Namasmarana (recitation of Devi's Name), Bhakti (devoution to her) are different from Prayoga and Siddhanta (Application and Perfection). Truth be told, the first two are a must and are the platform for the latter but it does not translate to be the latter. Therefore be careful as to where hopeful practitioner's get their knowledge.
I strongly reccomend (English Books) the Saundarya Lahiri for worshipping. There is also a website htttp://sanskrit.gde.to which has a lot of material and praying to Goddess. One does not need to do Tantric worship (which is volatile and therefore potentially harmful) to appease her.
Summary: very complete and very traditional - but how useful is it?
Comment: This is a good book, but it is not exactly an easy book to use. The various sections are not clearly separated from one another, and the book really almost reads as one continuous piece from beginning to end at first glance.
The method of Kali worship outlined here is very traditional and very particular. There are many Hindu terms used, even in the English translation, where no explanation is given, and this is not particularly helpful either.
In short, this is really a book that is designed for the person who wishes to worship Kali in the way that the authors do, and the book probably goes well with their teachings. It will not be useful to someone who is not already familiar with Kali worship and Hinduism, and may in fact confuse them terribly.
The problem with the book and the teachings within is that they are not practical for the person who has to deal with everyday life. Very few people have the time, or can make the time, to do these worship exercises in the way this book recommends. The poetry that appears throughout the book is beautiful, but it is difficult to read, given the line by line translation of the text, which is given first in Sanskrit, then in phonetic Sanskrit, then in English.
Overall, I must admit, I found this book to be a disappointment, and I certainly would not recommend it for someone who is just being introduced to the Dark Goddess. This is a book that is very definitely oriented toward a particular type of Kali worship, and very specifically Kali worship as it is practiced and taught by Shree Ma and Swami Satyananda. If you are not a follower of those people or that particular path, this book may not be what you are looking for.
If you are a follower of Shree Ma and Swami Satyananda, this book of course will go well with your studies - and you will also have the benefit, I suppose, of other material provided by them that will explain some of the terms not translated in the book, as well as the reasoning behind why the rituals are conducted in this way.
However, without this knowledge, this beautiful book is quite difficult, and I suspect even if one was a student of the teachers named above, the lack of any sort of layout, section, or chapter separation would be daunting. Perhaps it would have been better to release the book simply with the English translation by itself, and provide a separate section with the Sanskrit and the phonetically translated Sanskrit text.
For someone discovering Kali I would probably recommend Lex Hixon's "Mother of the Universe" before this. This book is primarily useful for disciples of Shree Ma and Swami Satyananda; others will find it difficult.
Summary: Jai Ma Kali!
Comment: KALI PUJA
by Swami Satyanananda Saraswati and Shree Maa
For those of you who want to worship the Holy Mother as Kali this is a great book to get. It offers a traditional way of worshipping Kali. You will learn the mantras, the mudras, traditional worship and tantric offerings to Kali. It is written in Sanskrit, Roman phonetic translation, and in english. I do wish the Roman phonetic translation was more understandable. Also I wish that they listed all the things that are required for the diffrent sections of this book as well, otherwise its a wonderful book on the Worship of Kali. You can do this book all the way through which will take hours or do a chapter or two at a time. The chapters are: Kali Puja, Sankalpa, Ganesha Puja, Kali Dhyanam, Adya Stotram, Puja Naivdeya- Offerings of worship, Adya Kalikadevyah Shatanama Stotram, Kali Kavacam, Sri Kalisahasranama Stotram, Consecration of Tantric Offerings, Gharbha Dhana Viddhi, Mudras for Worship. The Mudras are hand signals that are used to call the diety into yourself are call forth the ancestors. The Ganesha Puju is a small chapter in calling Ganesha and worshipping him the son of the Divine to remove all obstacles and to announce your desire to worship Kali. Sometimes when i can not pronounce the mantras in the sanskrit I use the english translations mixed with the Sanskrit or should i say the Roman phonetic translations.
From the back of the book
Kali is the Goddess who takes away darkness. She cuts down all impurities, consumes all iniquities (evil) purifies Her devotess with the sincerity of Her Love. Now we can worship Her according to the ancient tradition. Kali puja is a treasure house of Her Wisdom. It contains abundance Kali's living tools for living: Her sattvic worship, Her Hundred Names, Her Thousand Names, Her Armor, the mantras for offering bhanga, alcohol, animal sacrifice and how to give birth to spiritual children. These offerings have great spirtual significance when preformed with the mantras which explain the meanings and appropiate circumstances for such worship. Shree Maa, the Respected Holy Mother from Kamakhya in Assam, has devoted her entire life to the worship of the Divine Mother. Swami Satyananda Saraswati has translated numerous volumes of Samskrita Scriptures published in India and abroad, and both are teachers respected around the world. Kali Puja is presented in the original Samskrita, a Romanized phonetic transliteration, and a complete English Translation. This is without doubt the first time that many of these mantras have been translated from their original language. At last the rest of the world is invited more deeply into the mystery of the Divine Mother.
This is a great book as now the secrets have been revealed! Finaly we the rest of this world can worship Ma Kali traditionally. There is no other book that I know of today that gives details into the worship of the Mother like this, at least not one that is published in English.
Despite my two gievences with this book it deserves 5 stars
Summary: A book of prayers/affirmations made Kali personal to me...
Comment: An excerpt: "She who is pleased as the autumn moon, She whose purity shines in her lotus eyes. She who has great laugh in extreme pleasure, she who speaks words of remembrance, She who has excellent expression, she whose lotus lips smile" ~~ This book contains many such mantras and prayers....you could open to any page and find something peaceful, insightful..and motivating. This book will not tell you about the history of Kali, this book is more of experiencing Kali through meditative mantras /prayers....
I open this book at random , usually before bed...for something to ease any stress or thoughts of the day...I highly recommend this book to devotees of Kali, but make sure to also get a historical book as well!