Raktabīja was an Asura (loosely translated as demon) who fought together with Shumbha and Nishumbha against Durga and Kali or Chamunda. Raktabīja had a boon that whenever a drop of his blood fell on the ground, a duplicate Raktabīja would be born at that spot (rakta=blood, bīja=seed; "he for whom each drop of blood is a seed").
The eighth chapter of the Devi Mahatmya, raktabIja-vadh, focuses on Durga's battle with Raktabīja as part of her battle against the asuras Shumbha and Nishumbha, who had disenfranchised the gods from heaven. Raktabīja was wounded, but drops of blood falling on the ground created innumerable other Raktabījas, and Durga was in difficulty. At this point, the goddess created Kali, who stretched her tongue over the earth, and licked up each drop of blood pouring from Raktabīja's body and devoured his duplicates into her gaping mouth. Ultimately, Raktabīja was annihilated.
There are also references of Kali not being created but having sprung from Durga's forehead as they were all the same goddess in different forms.
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dhallapiccola
- Devi Mahatmya, Chapter Eight.
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