The Negative Power or Kal

The Supreme Lord is self-existent and self-sustaining. He is the Cause of all. He is neither real nor non-real. He is beyond them both. He cannot be reached by mind or speech. That which was and is, is neither darkness nor light. There was motion in Him, which we can describe as a wave. By this wave both the True Lord, Sat Purush and the Negative Power, Kal Purush, were born. 

From the Negative Power the creation originated. He has two powers, namely, Time and Space. These provide the warp and woof of the creation. Space helps in spreading the creation, and time is ever bringing about changes.

The cycle of the "eighty-four" is under the Negative Power. All the lower regions such as Brahm Lok (the region of Brahma), Rudra Lok (the Region of Shankar), Inder Lok (the Region of Indra), Shiv Puri (the Region of Shiva) and Vishnu Puri (the Region of Vishnu) which people try to reach after death by doing meritorious deeds and giving alms and charities and so forth, are under the governance of Kal. These regions are not everlasting or imperishable, but are destroyed after an allotted period.

The world of Indra will doubtless end; the region of Brahma will perish, the region of Shiva will suffer death; all that is within the sway of the three-headed Maya will pass away. 

 Gauri M5, 237-8

Maya overwhelms the spheres of Indra, Shiva and Brahma. But it dares not cast its eye on those who keep the company of Saints, it ever washes their feet.

 Gujri M5, 500-5

All gods and goddesses are under the control of Kal. All gods and goddesses are lured by Maya. Without devotion to the Master Not one escapes death.

 Gauri M1, 1227-4

While living within the sphere of Kal we have to still the mind and with the power of the Lord's Name obtained from the Master, we have to rise above Kal's domain, to the regions where both Kal and Maya become powerless and ineffective.

Time and Timeless both are perplexed. When the Master stills the mind.

 Suhi M1, 764-15

Oh fool, what can Kal do to them, who have stilled their mind.

 Ramkali M1, 908-1

The Negative Power and the True Lord have their own spheres of work. Kal creates nether-worlds and upper worlds, sustains them, and then destroys them. Kal comprises the past, present and future. The Four Ages or Yugas are its revolutions; and years, months, days, hours and seconds are its divisions.

There is a story in the Mahabharata in which a Yaksha (elemental spirit) puts several questions to the great Seer Yudhistra. One of them was, 

"What is that which is worth knowing?" 

Yudhistra replied, 

"Kal is cooking all human beings in the huge pan of attachment (to his worlds and their objects) with the fire of the sun, and is stirring them with the ladle of the months and the seasons."

Everything perishes after its allotted time is over. 

Therefore, the Adi Granth has described Kal as Jam Kal or "death at the appointed time." The entire world is under the control of this Negative Power. It is completely in its bondage.

All the world is subject to Kal.

 Gauri M3, 162-12

The main work of the Negative Power is to allow no one to escape from its domain. He has, as if by magic and deceit, obtained control over all living beings. We have forgotten our original home and we are now destined to wander from door to door.

Shamas-i-Tabriz says:

To wander is our fate. We have forgotten our home. He is old and deceitful. He imprisoned us by fraud and magic.

There is another power above Kal which is described as Akal by the Masters in the line of Guru Nanak. Akal connotes Eternity, and this power possesses the qualities of the "eternal now" and unchangeable permanence. Time has nothing to do with it. He is beyond Time and Space. Because this power has no connection with Kal (Time), it is beyond the count of seconds, minutes, days, years and ages. They all merge in His eternal existence. We can conceive of all the three tenses in the existence of Akal.

A Muslim Faqir (holy man) has said:

When He (Kal) was not, I was.

Kabir Sahib says in 'Anurag Sagar' that the power of Kal originated from Sat Purush (the True Being) and spread downwards from Sach Khand (the True Region). Kal, however, is not allowed to go to Sach Khand. This means that Kal cannot penetrate into the sphere of Akal. 

Akal is real. Kal is merely His reflection. The reflection is sustained by the original. Just as the moon receives light from the sun and is illuminated by it, similarly Kal is sustained by Akal. Kal is an activated shadow of Akal. The world is sustained by him. 

The Vedas and other Hindu scriptures consider this 'Shadow Being' (Chhaya Purush) to be the all-in-all and the highest power. But he is described by the Saints as Kal Purush or the Negative Power. 

Kal is highly praised in the Vedas. In the nineteenth Chapter of the Atharva Veda there are two verses in praise of Kal. These are called the Kal verses, or Verses concerning the Negative Power.

Kal has created the Universe; in Kal does the sun rise; all creatures live in Kal.

Sukt 53, Mantra 6

Hymns originated from Kal. And so did religious rites.

Sukt 54, Mantra 3

Kal has created the bodies of all living beings. And has then imprisoned them in his dominions.

Sukt 54, Mantra 4

Saints believe that the Lord or Master or Creator has limitless consciousness. He is the Positive Power. He is an unfathomable ocean of love and bliss. He has many powers or agents who look after the creation and its maintenance. These are described as Beings or Purushas. The Supreme Lord is accordingly called the Supreme Being or Param Purusha. Amongst these powers is the Negative Power, or Kal Purush, who is the creator of the universe. 

The duration of his universe is limited, after which it must suffer dissolution. Therefore, he is called the Lord of Time or Kal Punish. He is the sustainer of all the worlds of three attributes. There are numberless universes. Each universe is looked after by a ruler appointed by the Supreme Being. Each ruler has three forces or gods – Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the sustainer and Mahesh (Shiva), the destroyer. These create, sustain and destroy a universe. All these rulers are parts of Kal Purush, who is himself sustained by the Timeless Lord (Akal Purush). All this lower creation is within the power of Kal.

Both Kal and Akal were created by the Supreme Lord. The work of creation and its evolution has been handed over to them.

Kal and Akal were created by the Lord, to annihilate this world of form. Oh Kabir, only those in the end are emancipated,  who have the treasure of the Lord's Name in their hearts.

Kabir, Maru 1104-7

The Saints have also described the Supreme Lord as the Most Merciful.

He is the sustainer of the world. Most beneficent, wise and merciful is He.

Gauri M5, Chhand 249-7

The same names have also appeared in the writings of many other Saints. 

These Beings (Purushas) have been described as:

  1. Mahadayal, Dayal and Kal.

  2. Kal, Mahakal, Satya Purush, Swami and Anami.

  3. Dharam Rai, Ram Rai and Hari Rai.

Similarly in the writings of many seers and sages, there is mention of Kal and Dayal (the Merciful One) or Akal (the Timeless One). 

Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru in the line of Guru Nanak said in one of His hymns: 

Salutation to Akal, Destroyer of death, Destroyer of Maha Kal (Great Kal) and the Destroyer of the Lord of Time.

Muslim Saints have mentioned Shaitan and Rehman, namely, Satan and the Merciful Lord. Shaitan is the same as Kal and is, they say, the Negative Power, within whose sphere fall all the three worlds and regions. The other, the Merciful One, is the Positive Power. It is the source of all power and the Negative Power works according to His directions. Kal cannot interfere with Akal. Both of them have been created by the Supreme Power which has been called variously by great Saints as Khasam (Lord), Maha Dayal (Most Beneficent One) and Swami (Master). 

The distinction between Kal and Dayal (the Negative Power and the Merciful One) is very abstruse and merits careful study. The Saints hint at it and their writings should be studied. 

The transient world is all the creation of Kal. But to one taking refuge in the Lord, Kal can do no harm. The eternal Sound or Melody is the manifestation of the Positive Power. By practising it one transcends the limits of Kal. 

Wherever there is the Melody of the Shabd or the Sound Current, Kal cannot interfere and he keeps away from there.

The dragon of death can not be slain save through the Guru's Word then it comes not near. on hearing the Word it runs afar,lest the carefree Lord kills it.

 Maru M3, 1054-15

The Master is Himself Shabd-Incarnate or 'the Word made flesh'. By giving devotion to Him, a person can escape from the clutches of Kal. Dharam Rai (Kal) then serves him. 

Dharam Rai serves those:

Who keep the company of the Saints.

Gauri M5, 271-17

At the last moment of life, the Lord of Death or Kal does not come to take away the disciple of the True Master. The Master Himself comes and takes the soul with Him. Kal does not come near a devotee.

Those who have not met a Satguru are in the power of Kal. One cannot escape from the clutches of Kal except by serving a True Master.

All gods and goddesses are lured by Maya. Without devotion to the Master None escapes death.

 Gauri M1, 227-4

Kal demands from everybody an account of all actions and in accordance with them he metes out punishments or rewards. Recitals, penances, con­tinence, reading, writing and the three gunas (qualities) are all within his sphere. 

The only way to transcend them is the practice of Shabd-Dhun, or the Divine Melody and taking shelter with the True Master. But it is only the highly fortunate few who take shelter with the Master and thus escape the clutches of Kal.