This section is from the book "Karpuradistotram. Karpuradi Stotra Tantrik Texts", by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe). Also available from Amazon: The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga.
I make obeisance to the Lord Guru, the wish-granting Tree of Suras, eternal Consciousness and Bliss Itself, the highest of the highest, Brahman, Shiva Himself. I make obeisance to Her who by Her Shakti of three Gunas creates, maintains, and at the end of the Kalpa withdraws, the world and then alone is. Devoutly I call to mind Her, the Mother of the whole universe. Shiva Herself.
Here follows an Introduction to the Vimalanandadayini Commentary on that Lord of Hymns called the Karpuradi Stotra to Shrimat Dakshina Kalika.
All-good and all-powerful Parameshvara is without beginning or end. Though in Himself Nirguna He is the Adhara of the three Gunas. Though Himself formless He creates, preserves and withdraws the world of extended matter (Prapancha) by means of the Avarana and Vikshepa Shaktis of His own Maya which can make that possible which seems impossible. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad says that by meditation was seen the Svashakti of the Deva, who is the abode of all causes, associated with Kalatattva. In the Niruttara Tantra Shiva speaks of the three-eyed corpse-like One, Nirguna but also seat of Gunas associated with Shakti. Though Himself without beginning, middle or end, He creates and is the material Cause of the world which has a beginning, middle, and end. For this reason the Tantras and other Shastras call Him Adinatha, Mahakala
Paramashiva and Paramabrahman. It is this unlimited, undivided, beginningless, and endless Mahakala who is imagined to be limited by the Sun, Moon and Planets, and, as such, is called by the names of Kala, Kashtha, Muhurtta, Yama, Day, Night, Paksha, Month, Season, Half-year, Year-, Yuga, Kalpa and so forth. It is He who divides Time into Kala, Kashtha and so forth, and as Vyashti is called by the name Kala, and the rest. He is named Paramashiva Mahakala when creating, preserving and withdrawing the millions of worlds.
Apart from individual name and form, He exists as the Samashti of them and the Endless Supreme Greatness (Paramo mahan). Vishnu Purana says that Bhagavan Kala is without beginning or end. From him appears the limited in creation. Atharvaveda says that Kala created beings (Praja) He is Praja-pati. From Kala was self-bora Kashyapa and Tapas. Mahakala is omniscient since He is all-pervading, dependent on none, and the Atma of all. Kurma Purana also says that he is the Supreme, imperishable, without beginning or end, all pervading, independent, the Atma of all who fascinates (Manohara) all minds by His greatness. Kalamadhava cites Vishnudharmot-tara as saying that He is called Kala because of his dissolving (Kalanat) all beings, and He is Parameshvara because He is Himself without beginning or end. Mahakala is Himself Nirguna and Nishkriya, but his Shakti makes the Sun and other heavenly lights rise, stay and set.
It is by the Power of the Shakti of Kala that men and other Jivas are conceived in the womb, are born, attain childhood, boyhood, middle and old age and leave the world on death. In the Shantiparva of Mahabharata, Vedavyasa says that it is through Kala that women bear, that birth and death occur, winter, summer and rains come, and the seed germinates. Even Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra appear, stay and disappear through the Shakti of Kala. None can escape Its operation. Vishnu Samhita says that even those Devas who create and withdraw the world are themselves withdrawn by Kala. Kala or time is certainly then the stronger. Mahakala is called Mahakall because He is one and the same and not different from His eternal Shakti. It is She who is Mahavidya, Mahadevi, Maha,-maya, and Parabrahmarupini. As Adinatha Mahakala is the first creator of the world so the Shakti of Mahakala, the merciful Mahakali is the Adiguru of the world. Yogint Tantra says that Mahakali is the Mother of the world, and one with Mahakala, as is shown in the Arddhanarishvara Murtti.
It was this Brahmavidya who (Yogint Tantra, 10th Patala) at the beginning of this Kalpa was heard as a bodyless voice from the sky by Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshvara, who were then told to perform Tapasya for the acquisition of creative and other Shaktis. It was this Aniruddha-sarasvati who in the Satyayuga appeared in the Heavens before Indra and other proud Devatas in the form of a brilliant Yaksha, and crushing the pride of the Devas Agni and Vayu, in the form of all-beautiful Uma, taught Brahmatattva to Indra, the King of the Devas (See Kathopanishad).
This Kail again who is Parameshtiguru and grants Kaivalya, compassionating the sensuous and short-lived Jivas of the terrible Kaliyuga revealed the Shambhavi Vidya. This, which was taught in the form of conversations between Devi and Ishvara, had been during the three preceding ages kept as concealed as a lady of high family from public gaze. It contained three sets of sixty-four Agamas each, which revealed the path of Liberation for these Jivas. Though She is Herself eternal and Sachchidan-andarupint, She at times out of compassion for Sadhakas assumes forms fitted for their Sadhana. Similarly the Veda, Agama and the rest though everlasting portions of the Shabda-brahmarupin! are only revealed to Sadhakas at different times in the several Yugas.
When the Mahadevi who is Consciousness (Chinmayi) at the beginning of the Kalpa was pleased by the Tapasya of Deva
Rudra, floating on the Causal Waters, She assumed the Virat aspect and became thus visible to Him. At that time by the command of Mahadevi the Deva Rudra saw in the Sushumna millions of universes (Brahmanda) and millions of Brahmas, Vishnus and Maheshvaras in them. The Deva, greatly wondering in the Heart-Lotus of Mahadevi, there saw the Murtti of Shabdabrahman consisting of Agamas, Nigamas, and other Shastras (See YoginI Tantra 9th, Patala). He saw that of that Murtti, Agama was the Paramatma,' the four Vedas with their Angas were the Jivatma, the six systems of philosophy (Darshana) were the senses, the Mahapuranas and Upapuranas were the gross body, the Smritis were the hands and other limbs, and all other Shastras were the hairs of that great Body. He also saw the fifty Matrika (Letters) resplendent with Tejas on the edges and petals of Her Heart-Lotus. Within the pericarp of the Lotus of the Viratrupini He saw the Agamas, brilliant as millions of suns and moons, replete with all Dharrna and Brahmajnana, powerful to destroy all Maya, full of all Siddhis and Brahmanirvana. By the grace of Mahakali he fully mastered the Veda, Vedanta, Puranas, Smriti and all other Shastra. Later, Brahma and Vishnu received this knowledge of Agama and Nigarna from Him.