Who is Kalaratri?
She strikes fear and terror in the hearts of the wicked. For she is the most ferocious form of Goddess Parvati. Parvati became Kalaratri by shedding her outer, golden skin to slay the demons, Shumbha and Nishnumbha.
Kalaratri Devi is believed to rule Planet Saturn (Shani). She is also called Shubhangari due to her auspicious power.
Goddess Kalaratri is the 7th Goddess among the Navadurgas. She represents the destructive power of the Divine Mother, Shakthi. On the 7th day of Navratri, she is the primary deity who is worshipped by devotees.
Goddess Kalaratri’s ferocity is reserved for demons and wicked people. But she is very generous and kind to her devotees.
Kalaratri in the Hindu Scriptures
One can find descriptions of Goddess Kalaratri in Shaiva and Shaktheya Agamas, and the Puranas (Markhandeya Purana, Varaha Purana, Skanda Purana, Devi Bhagavata Purana, Varaha Purana, etc.)
The Ramayana and Mahabharata epics, as well as many Shaivite and Shaktheya scriptures, contain many details about her.
Kalaratri is described as a fierce form that was born from the darkness and did penance in the blue mountain to destroy enemies in the Varaha Purana.
Hymns on Goddess Lalitha mention that Kalaratri is one of the 12 Shaktis who are associated with the 12 petals of the Anahata Padma of the Anahata Chakra.
She is mentioned in the 6th hymn of the Padamala mantra vidya of Chamunda as one who is like the darkest night.
Many Mantras used to invoke Devi say that Kalaratri can eliminate obstacles and grant success.
Sadhakas in Tantra shastra and mantra vidyas worship her to achieve the power to vanish and reappear at will.
In the Puranas, the names of Kali and Kalaratri are often used interchangeably.
The Markandeya Purana says that Kalaratri, along with other Goddesses like Ekavira, constitute the distinguished form of Goddess Lakshmi.
Kalaratri is also described as a powerful Shakthi at the southern opening of Mount Kailash in some texts.
Tantric scriptures depict Kalaratri as the Goddess who rules a portion of the night.
Iconography of Kalaratri
She has the color of night (ratri) and has 4 hands. Her right hands display Abhaya and Varada mudras. In her left hands, she holds a Vajrayudha and a curved sword. Kalaratri Devi’s vahanam is the donkey. She wears a grim smile on her face and has 3 eyes.
She has bountiful hair, which is sometimes worn in a single braid. Japa flowers (hibiscus) are her ear ornaments. She has long, bloody lips and wears metal anklets with spikes. She inhales and exhales breaths of fire. Her naked body is oiled.
To accentuate her fierce form, she wears a garland of skulls, and her hands are red with the blood of the wicked.
Kalaratri Devi Significance
By worshipping Goddess Kalaratri, devotees can achieve success and wisdom. She is known for protecting her devotees and fulfilling their wishes.
The Rig Veda’s Ratri Suktam says that Sage Kushika realized the enveloping force of darkness during his meditation and invoked Ratri or the night as a powerful goddess. Thus, the darkness after sunset became a deity, and sages began to invoke it to free humans from their fears and bonds to the earth. The Goddess rules each phase of the night.
Later, Ratridevi, or Goddess of the Night, came to be associated with many Goddesses, including Durga, who made her appearance in the Atharva Veda. Black is the primordial darkness that was present even before creation.
Invoking Goddess Kalaratri during Durga Pooja endows one with the devouring quality of time and the all-consuming essence, which enables one to overcome all obstacles.
After defeating the demons, Shumbha and Nishumbha, Goddess Parvati appeared as Maa Kalaratri to fight Raktabija. Kalaratri slew Raktabija and swallowed his blood to prevent the birth of more Raktabijas.
Another legend says that Goddess Chamunda or Kali created Kalaratri. Kalaratri defeated the demons, Chanda and Munda. She has the strength of the darkest night. All living beings seek safety, shelter, and refuge in her lap at the time of final dissolution. When it is time for death, the Goddess turns into Kalaratri, who devours time in its entirety, and leaves nothing behind.
Goddess Kalaratri’s worship is common among sadhakas doing Kalaratri sadhana. But ordinary people worship her during festivals like Dussehra or Navratri, or on her auspicious days. One can worship her on any day.
There are only a few temples for Kalaratri. Her idols are often present in large Devi temples.
Some of the Kalaratri temples are:
Kalarathri temple, Varanasi
Kalarathri temple, Nayagaon
Devi Kalaratri Temple, Mirzapur
Kalaratri Devi Mantra and Hymn
Om Devi Kalaratryai Namaha
Ekaveni japa karna-puraa nagna kharaasthitha
Lambhosti karni-kakarni taila(a)bhyaktha shareerini
Vamapadollasalloha latakantaka bushana
Vardhana murdhvaja krushna Kalarathrir bhayamkari