India (1769? - 1821?) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Shakta (Goddess-oriented)

Poems by Kamalakanta

Kamalakanta Chakravarti, usually known simply as Kamalakanta, is thought to have been born around the year 1773 in the Bengali district of Burdwan, in pre-independence India. His father was a Brahmin priest who died when Kamalakanta was still a boy. His mother struggled to provide for the family with the meager income from the small amount of land left to them, but she managed to send Kamalakanta to higher education.

Kamalakanta was a bright student, studying Sanskrit and showing an early talent for poetry and music.

It is said that "his heart opened to the love of God" when he received the sacred thread and was initiated into spiritual practice. Kamalakanta's mother, however, was disturbed to see her teenaged son adopting the air of a renunciate, so she quickly arranged a marriage to a beautiful young woman. Soon after the marriage, however, the woman died. Kamalakanta's mother quickly found a second wife for her son, and Kamalakanta married again.

Kamalakanta eventually took Tantric initiation, integrating his spiritual calling with his worldly life and responsibilities.

In order to support his family, Kamalakanta started a small school in addition to his inherited work as a Brahmin priest. But Kamalakanta struggled to make ends meet.

After some time the reputation of the ecstatic Kali-devoted poet came to the attention of the local prince. The Maharaja asked Kamalakanta to become his guru and appointed him as a court advisor.

With his family's basic needs now taken care of, he turned more and more deeply to spiritual practice and worship of Kali.

It is said that when Kamalakanta was near death, he asked to be taken to the banks of the Ganges River. Just as he was brought there, an unexpected flood rose up and carried his body away. The Ganges, an expression of the Divine Mother whom he had worshipped all his life, had claimed him as Her own.

There is something wonderfully terrible about the devotion of the great Kali poets, particularly Kamalakanta and Ramprasad. In their poetry and their worship, they are saying, in effect, "Do whatever it takes, Mother, to bring me to you. Shatter me, if you must. Destroy me. I don't care. So long as you do not withhold yourself!" Such spiritual courage is both frightening and exhilarating to participate in.

Poems by Kamalakanta

Recommended Books: Kamalakanta

Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar