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Quiz about Kali Rakshasas and Ghouls  Oh My
Quiz about Kali Rakshasas and Ghouls  Oh My

Kali, Rakshasas, and Ghouls - Oh, My! Quiz


Come with me as I investigate these "shirt-tail relatives" of the vampire from Hindu and Islamic tradition. Their spiritual aspects have surprised me; perhaps they'll surprise you.

A multiple-choice quiz by stuthehistoryguy. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
261,270
Updated
Jul 23 22
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Tough
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
893
Awards
Top 10% Quiz
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Question 1 of 10
1. Kali is a goddess in the Sanskrit epics who is known for her fearsome appearance and bloodlust in battle, as well as her wild, unpredictable ecstasies. She has black skin, numerous sets of arms (as is typical of many Hindu divinities), a fanged mouth with a ubiquitous protruding tongue, and wears no clothing except for a skirt made of human arms, a necklace of human heads (or skulls), earrings of babies, and serpents for bracelets. Given this description, what is the most widely accepted etymology of the name "Kali"? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Kali's most famous appearance in Hindu literature is in the "Devi-Mahatmya", where she appears as the goddess Durga's fury incarnate. In episode three of this epic, Durga is facing the seemingly invincible Raktabija who, when wounded, forms new incarnations of himself from the drops of his blood when they touch the ground. Kali emerges from Durga's forehead and summarily defeats the Antaeus-like Raktabija. How does she do this? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Another incarnation of Kali comes forth when Shiva, one of the focal figures of Hindu belief, asks the normally benign goddess Parvati to kill the evil Daruka, who can only be slain by a female. To transform into the aggressive Kali, Parvati enters Shiva's body and changes her form with the help of the black poison the great god keeps within himself. Where in Shiva's body does Parvati find this poison? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Part of Kali's fearsome reputation comes from where she typically makes her dwelling. Where is this?
Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. The most archetypal images of Kali, the Daksinakali, show her in mid-dance, tongue extended, brandishing weapons of war. This image is derived from the "Adbhuta Ramayana", which sees Kali, intoxicated by the blood she has devoured, dance uncontrollably with a ferocity that potentially threatens the entire world. This prompts Shiva to placate her, albeit in a way utterly novel and counterintuitive.

In the Daksinakali pose, we see Shiva laying prone in front of the goddess, either dead or, more probably, placidly feigning death in meditation, while Kali triumphantly poses above him.


Question 6 of 10
6. In the Sanskrit epics "Mahabharata" and "Ramayana" (both long-evolved poems whose first references date from c. 500 BCE), we find the Rakshasas, fierce creatures created from the focal Hindu deity Brahma's foot, though some sources say they are reincarnation of wicked humans. They are notorious for desecrating graves, eating human flesh, and general malevolence toward humanity. That being said, they are also legends in the battles of the "Iliad"-like "Mahabharata", using sorcery and shapeshifting when more traditional modes of fighting fail. Which of these battles does not feature Rakshasas as troops? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. The Rakshasas are also represented in Hindu art. Perhaps their best-known images are the relief sculptures in the great temple of one of the great archaeological treasures of Southeast Asia. What is the name of this UNESCO World Heritage site? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Ghouls are ostensibly loathsome creatures in Arabic culture. "The History of Sidi Nu'man" from "The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)" defines them as "wandering demons, which generally infest old buildings; from whence they rush out, by surprise, on people that pass by, kill them, and eat their flesh; and for want of such prey, will sometimes go in the night into burying-grounds, and feed on dead bodies which they dig up." Nevertheless, they are tied closely to traditional Islam both by how their stories are told (always beginning with an invocation of Allah) and by the general perception that they are a variety of another creature which is extensively mentioned in the Qur'an. What is this type of being which, along with humans, is called to revere Allah in Muslim scripture? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. Traditionally, the ghoul (or "ghul", as the term is often transliterated from the Arabic) is considered far too fearsome a creature to be discussed around women, and stories of these creatures are strictly relegated to male audiences.


Question 10 of 10
10. Though not undead humans like vampires (though they can pose as humans, as in "The History of Sidi Nu'man"), the ghoul does have more in common with the vampire than its macabre haunts and proclivity to prey on humans. Specifically, as the vampire is commonly warded off by holy icons, garlic, and the like, there do seem, from most stories, to be similar ways of dealing with ghouls. Which of these is dramatically demonstrated in the "One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)" tale "The Story of the Prince and the Ogress" (from the larger "King Yunan and the Sage Duban")? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Kali is a goddess in the Sanskrit epics who is known for her fearsome appearance and bloodlust in battle, as well as her wild, unpredictable ecstasies. She has black skin, numerous sets of arms (as is typical of many Hindu divinities), a fanged mouth with a ubiquitous protruding tongue, and wears no clothing except for a skirt made of human arms, a necklace of human heads (or skulls), earrings of babies, and serpents for bracelets. Given this description, what is the most widely accepted etymology of the name "Kali"?

Answer: Black

Kali is often the fierce manifestation of a more placid goddess like Parvati. In the Sanskrit "Vamana-purana", Parvati realizes how intensely her Kali nature has overwhelmed her, so she rigorously sheds this aspect of her personality, re-emerging as Gauri, "the golden one", though Kali survives on her own thereafter.
2. Kali's most famous appearance in Hindu literature is in the "Devi-Mahatmya", where she appears as the goddess Durga's fury incarnate. In episode three of this epic, Durga is facing the seemingly invincible Raktabija who, when wounded, forms new incarnations of himself from the drops of his blood when they touch the ground. Kali emerges from Durga's forehead and summarily defeats the Antaeus-like Raktabija. How does she do this?

Answer: Kali sucks all of Raktabija's blood and then sucks down all his blood-born duplicates

Earlier in this episode from "Devi-Mahatmya", Kali comes forth to confront Durga's enemies Canda and Munda. In a fit of rage, she tears these demons apart and consumes them.

In the nineteenth century, British Orientalists closely associated the violent Kali with the Thugee "murder cult". More recently, religious scholar Cynthia Ann Humes has argued that this association of thugs with Kali was short-sighted, that the thugs were more motivated by politics than by religion, and that their association was more a product of British shock at the fierce and eroticized Kali than real historical connection.
3. Another incarnation of Kali comes forth when Shiva, one of the focal figures of Hindu belief, asks the normally benign goddess Parvati to kill the evil Daruka, who can only be slain by a female. To transform into the aggressive Kali, Parvati enters Shiva's body and changes her form with the help of the black poison the great god keeps within himself. Where in Shiva's body does Parvati find this poison?

Answer: His throat

In the words of Kali scholar David R. Kinsley: "Kali's boon is freedom, the freedom of the child to revel in the moment, and it is won only after confrontation or acceptance of death." Unlike most deities in Hindu tradition, Kali is a classic transgressor against social roles, rather than an exemplar of them. Again in Kinsley's words, to worship Kali "is to suffer, to be disappointed in terms of worldly desires an pleasures. Kali does not give what is normally expected.

She DOES [emphasis mine] allow her devotee/child, however, to glimpse a vision of himself that is not circumscribed by physical and material limitations." Kali contradicts what one expects in the ordered universe.

In doing so, she allows her worshipers to grasp the full possibilities that more conventional deities do not.
4. Part of Kali's fearsome reputation comes from where she typically makes her dwelling. Where is this?

Answer: Cremation grounds

Kali worship is still very much a going concern in the twenty-first century. Regions with a high level of devotion include Bengal (home of the Kalighat Temple devoted to Kali in Calcutta) and Sri Lanka, where Kali has become a central figure for the Tamil minority in that country's recurrent civil wars. Worship in both areas is very distinct: in Calcutta, Kali worship is a very structured 2.5 hour ritual involving blood sacrifices (of goats) and icons. In Sri Lanka, Kali "possesses" her priests, who act as (often comforting) oracles to her beleaguered devotees.
5. The most archetypal images of Kali, the Daksinakali, show her in mid-dance, tongue extended, brandishing weapons of war. This image is derived from the "Adbhuta Ramayana", which sees Kali, intoxicated by the blood she has devoured, dance uncontrollably with a ferocity that potentially threatens the entire world. This prompts Shiva to placate her, albeit in a way utterly novel and counterintuitive. In the Daksinakali pose, we see Shiva laying prone in front of the goddess, either dead or, more probably, placidly feigning death in meditation, while Kali triumphantly poses above him.

Answer: True

In the most popular versions of the story, Kali sees the downed Shiva and, realizing what she has done, snaps out of her rage and cares for him as a mother. Thus, we see the duality of Kali as a divinity - an utterly dangerous destroyer, but also a nurturing goddess capable of great love. As such, Kali is a central figure in many schools of Tantric yoga - but that is another story.

For a more in-depth study of Kali from several different perspectives (including her association with Tantra and alternate tellings of how Shiva placated her in the above episode), see Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey J. Kripal's fine compilation "Encountering Kali" from the University of California Press, from which much of this quiz is taken.
6. In the Sanskrit epics "Mahabharata" and "Ramayana" (both long-evolved poems whose first references date from c. 500 BCE), we find the Rakshasas, fierce creatures created from the focal Hindu deity Brahma's foot, though some sources say they are reincarnation of wicked humans. They are notorious for desecrating graves, eating human flesh, and general malevolence toward humanity. That being said, they are also legends in the battles of the "Iliad"-like "Mahabharata", using sorcery and shapeshifting when more traditional modes of fighting fail. Which of these battles does not feature Rakshasas as troops?

Answer: Ragnarok

Ragnarök is the apocalyptic battle from Norse mythology that sees the death of most of the traditional deities from that pantheon, but also spawns a new, gentler world that is a veritable paradise.

The "Mahabharata" also features the hero Bhima fighting rakshasas who prey on humans and oppose his clan of five brothers, the mighty Pandava. Among these evil rakshasas were Hidimva, Vaka, Kirmira, and Jatasura.
7. The Rakshasas are also represented in Hindu art. Perhaps their best-known images are the relief sculptures in the great temple of one of the great archaeological treasures of Southeast Asia. What is the name of this UNESCO World Heritage site?

Answer: Angkor

Centered around the temple of Angkor Wat, this city was hub of the Khmer Empire, the dominant power in Southeast Asia from the ninth century CE until Angkor was sacked by the Thai in 1431. According to a study published in the August 28, 2007 issue of "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", Angkor was the largest city in the preindustrial world, spanning roughly the same amount of land as Los Angeles, CA.

Among the relief sculptures of Rakshasas at Angkor Wat are the ten-headed king Ravana fighting at the battle of Lanka and the same polycephalous monster churning an ocean of milk. Both depict the denouement of the "Mahabharata". Quite the sight.
8. Ghouls are ostensibly loathsome creatures in Arabic culture. "The History of Sidi Nu'man" from "The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)" defines them as "wandering demons, which generally infest old buildings; from whence they rush out, by surprise, on people that pass by, kill them, and eat their flesh; and for want of such prey, will sometimes go in the night into burying-grounds, and feed on dead bodies which they dig up." Nevertheless, they are tied closely to traditional Islam both by how their stories are told (always beginning with an invocation of Allah) and by the general perception that they are a variety of another creature which is extensively mentioned in the Qur'an. What is this type of being which, along with humans, is called to revere Allah in Muslim scripture?

Answer: The Jinn

The 72nd Sura of the Qur'an, titled "Al-Jinn", recounts these beings (often translated as "genies") hearing the newly dictated scripture and proclaiming the truth of Muhammad's message. The Qur'an's 114th and final Sura, "An-Nas", also counts the Jinn among the followers of Allah, reading in total:

I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,
The King of mankind,
The God of mankind,
From the evil of the sneaking whisperer,
Who whispereth in the hearts of mankind,
Of the jinn and of mankind
9. Traditionally, the ghoul (or "ghul", as the term is often transliterated from the Arabic) is considered far too fearsome a creature to be discussed around women, and stories of these creatures are strictly relegated to male audiences.

Answer: False

In fact, the opposite is true. According to scholar Inea Bushnaq's "Arab Folktales" (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library, 1986), magical tales with creatures like these were told predominantly in the household among women, although men did of course hear them in their boyhood and presumably remembered them as men.

Many of the Jinn, Ghoul, and Afreet stories collected from male informants reflect this awkwardness with the subject matter, and the creatures are often not fully fleshed out (so to speak) in these tales.
10. Though not undead humans like vampires (though they can pose as humans, as in "The History of Sidi Nu'man"), the ghoul does have more in common with the vampire than its macabre haunts and proclivity to prey on humans. Specifically, as the vampire is commonly warded off by holy icons, garlic, and the like, there do seem, from most stories, to be similar ways of dealing with ghouls. Which of these is dramatically demonstrated in the "One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)" tale "The Story of the Prince and the Ogress" (from the larger "King Yunan and the Sage Duban")?

Answer: Sincere prayer to Allah will protect one from ghouls

In fact, the female ghoul in this story comes off as quite pious, suggesting prayer for self-preservation in the first place.

Loathsome as they are on the surface, ghouls are actually quite sympathetic in many instances, provided they are treated properly. In "The Nightingale that Shrieked" from Bushnaq's collection, two ghouls show mercy on a boy who greets him properly with "Peace, O father Ghoul" (a version of the traditional Arabic greeting "As-Salamu Alaykum") then, after a helpful haircut from the lad, help the boy on his quest in the story, one even granting him the blessing: "You have brought back the light into my face, so may Allah light up the path before you." The boy also bonds with a female ghoul by surreptitiously nursing at her breast - I'll let you read the details of that one for yourself.

As always, I'd love to hear any comments you might have, especially those that will make this a better quiz. Thanks for playing.
Source: Author stuthehistoryguy

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor LeoDaVinci before going online.
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