Bhadrakali and the Thieves
Bharata, a saint, was afraid of attachment to his family, because in a previous life he had turned away from his Lord and devoted his time to the care of an orphaned deer. As a result of his actions, in his second life he was incarnated as a deer. So here, in his third life, he presented himself to the world as an insane, blind, and deaf idiot to avoid the folly of his past. However, his mind actually rested solely on the contemplation of the Lord.
A king of thieves wanted to have a child, and in order to do that successfully, he was to sacrifice a man to the goddess Bhadrakali. Luckily, the man intended for the sacrifice escaped.
The king ordered the thieves to chase after the escapee, but they were unable to find him. In their search, they came across Bharata who was seated in a field, supposedly guarding it. So, finding him to be dull-witted and without bodily defects, they believed he would serve their king's purpose.
The thieves bound Bharata and took him to the temple of Candika (Bhadrakali). They ritually bathed him, clothed, decorated, and fed him. With the accompaniment of loud music, they sat him down before an image of the ferocious Bhadrakali.
Bharata's holy Brahmanic brilliance fiercely scorched the goddess. Here, the goddess noticed Bharata, who had become one with the sacred essence of All, and was friend to all things. Bhadrakali's face twisted with rage, for none should harm the pure of heart.
The king of thieves raised his enchanted sword, charmed with magickal spells, ready to behead Bharata. Bharata merely sat as he was with his mind resting on his Lord, not an ounce of fear in him, and seemingly unaware of what was going on around him.
The sheer insolence of the priest-king at what he was about to do further enraged the Black Goddess. Bhadrakali Herself leapt from Her image with an earth trembling RRRRROOOOOOOAAAAAAAAARRRRRRR!!!!!!!! She snatched away the sword with which the king had meant to commit the sacrifice. And with high-pitched and gleeful laughter She immediately sliced off the heads of her own worshippers.
Her attendants soon joined Her and together They drank the blood- wine of the newly decapitated king and his thieves. Becoming intoxicated with the elixir, They sang at the top of Their voices. They played games with the heads of the slain, kicking them around in Their play.
Thus, Bhadrakali saved the life of Bharata. Lovers of the sacred essence and creator of Life should not be harmed, even if they be devoted to a god of a different name.
Such is the nature of Kali.
© 1999 Moon SpiritWolf
This story originally appears in the Bhagavata-Purana in Skandha V.