Kaalratri (sometimes spelled Kalaratri) is the seventh form amongst the Navadurga (ie. the nine forms of Hindu Mother Goddess referenced in Durga Saptashati, Chapters 81-93 of the Markandeya Purana, the earliest known literature on Goddess Durga). Goddess Kaalratri is widely regarded as one of the many destructive forms of Mother Goddess – Kali, Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Bhairavi, Mrityu, Rudrani, Chamunda, Chandi and Durga.
Kaalratri is traditionally worshipped during the nine nights of Navratri celebrations. The seventh day of Navratri pooja (Hindu prayer ritual) in particular is dedicated to her and she is considered the fiercest form of the Mother Goddess, her appearance itself invoking fear. This form of Goddess is believed to be the destroyer of all demon entities, ghosts, spirits and negative energies, who flee upon knowing of her arrival.
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The first part of the word kalaratri is kala. Kala primarily means time but also means black in honour of being the first creation before light itself. This is a masculine noun in Sanskrit. Time, as perceived by Vedic seers, is where everything takes place; the framework on which all creation unfolds. Vedic seers therefore conceived of kala as a powerful deity as much as a concept. This then gave rise to the Vedic image of the deified Kala as devourer of all things, in the sense that time devours all. Kaalratri can also mean the one who is the death of time. In the Mahanirvana Tantra, during the dissolution of the universe, Kala (time) devours the universe and is himself, engulfed by his spouse, the supreme creative force, Kali. Kālī is the feminine form of kālam (black, dark coloured) and refers to her being the entity beyond time. A nineteenth-century Sanskrit dictionary, the Shabdakalpadrum, states: कालः शिवः । तस्य पत्नीति – काली । kālaḥ śivaḥ । tasya patnīti kālī – “Shiva is Kāla, thus, his consort is Kāli”
The second part of the word kalaratri, is ratri and its origins can be traced to the oldest of Vedas, the Rig Veda. According to the Ratrisukta of the Rig Veda, sage Kushika while absorbed in meditation realised the enveloping power of darkness and thus invoked Ratri (night) as an all-powerful goddess. Thus, the darkness after sunset became deified and was invoked by sages to deliver mortals from fears and worldly bondage. Each period of the night, according to Tantric tradition, is under the sway of a particular terrifying goddess who grants a particular desire to the aspirant. The word kalaratriin Tantra refers to the darkness of night, a state normally frightening to ordinary individuals but considered beneficial to worshippers of the Goddess.
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In latter times, Ratridevi (Goddess Ratri’ or ‘Goddess of the Night) came to be identified with a variety of goddesses – for example in the Atharva Veda, where Ratridevi is called Durga. Black references primaldarkness before creation and also darkness of ignorance. Hence this form of goddess is considered as one who destroys the darkness of ignorance.
Invoking Goddess Kaalratri therefore empowers the devotee with the devouring quality of kala (time) and the all-consuming nature of ratri (night) – allowing all obstacles to be overcome and guaranteeing success in all undertakings. In summary, Kaalratri is the personification of the night of all-destroying time.
This form primarily depicts that life also has a dark side – the violence of Mother Nature that encompasses death and destruction.
ॐ देवी कालरात्र्यै नमः॥
Om Devi Kalaratryai Namah॥
एकवेणी जपाकर्णपूरा नग्ना खरास्थिता।
लम्बोष्ठी कर्णिकाकर्णी तैलाभ्यक्त शरीरिणी॥
वर्धन मूर्धध्वजा कृष्णा कालरात्रिर्भयङ्करी॥
Ekaveni Japakarnapura Nagna Kharasthita।
Lamboshthi Karnikakarni Tailabhyakta Sharirini॥
Vardhana Murdhadhwaja Krishna Kalaratrirbhayankari॥
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु माँ कालरात्रि रूपेण संस्थिता।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥
Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Ma Kalaratri Rupena Samsthita।
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥
Day 7 – Saptami – Kaalratri – Navratri Stories
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