Kalratri – The Seventh Form of Navadurga

Kalratri – The Seventh Form of Navadurga

Goddess Kalratri is worshiped on the seventh day of Navratri. The goddess was so named for her fierce appearance. The complexion of this goddess is as black as the dark night. According to the Hindu Puranas, Goddess Durga became very angry seeing the two demons Shumbha and Nishumbha and their giant army. Then she assumed this terrible form.

Appearance of Goddess Kalratri

Goddess Kalratri is depicted with abundant hair and three eyes. She wears a necklace of thunderbolts around her neck. She has four hands. She carries a sword in the upper left hand and an iron fork in the lower left hand. Her other two hands show Varada (a sword) and Abhaya (protecting) mudras. She is seated on a donkey and emits fierce flames with her breath. Goddess Kalratri is the goddess of auspiciousness even though her appearance is terrible. Hence her other name is Subhankari. The goddess is so named for her very fearsome appearance.

Ancient Myths of Goddess Kalratri

Hindu scriptures like Vedas, Bhagavata Purana, Markendeya Purana, Adbhuta Ramayana, Mahabharata, Skandapurana etc. reveal many ancient myths about Goddess Kalratri. Again according to ‘Kurmapurana’, ‘Varahapurana’, ‘Bamanpurana’, Menka’s daughter, Uma-Parvati and Kali are identical. The name Kali is also found in scriptures like ‘Niruttartantra’, ‘Chamundatantradi’, ‘Shaktisangamatantra’, and ‘Malinibijaya’. Let’s know some of these.

Goddess Kalratri in Vedas

According to the Ratri Suktam of the Rigveda, sage Kushika realized the power shrouded in darkness while meditating and thus invoked Ratri as the all-powerful goddess. As a result, darkness became the goddess after sunset and was invoked by sages to free people from their fears and bonds on earth. According to the Vedas, each phase of the night is ruled by Ratri Devi, who fulfills the wishes of the aspirants.

Ratri Devi is also seen in Atharva Veda. She was associated with several goddesses including Adi Shakti, Durga. There the goddess Ratri represents the primordial darkness that existed even before creation.

Goddess Kalratri in Bhagavata Purana

According to Bhagavata Purana, two Asuras (demons) named Chanda-Munda were running away all over the universe in fear of Mother Kali. Then mother Kali became very angry and pulled out the hair of her head. Goddess Kalratri was created as soon as that hair fell to the ground. That night, goddess Chanda and Munda were captured and mother Kali beheaded those demons.

Goddess Kalratri in Markendeya Purana

Once Shumbha and Nishumbha, the two demons, became the supreme lords of Triloka. Then Indra lost his kingdom. The gods are banished from heaven. Those two Asuras (Shumbha and Nishumbha) started doing the work that was fixed for Surya, Chandra, Kubera, Varuna and Agni. Defeated, dethroned gods recalled Adishakti Mahadevi to save them from danger. Going to the Himalayas, they collectively started worshiping the Mahashakti. Satisfied with praise, Mahadevi appeared to the gods. She asked, who are they praising? At that time Goddess Shiva emerged from the body of Mahashakti Parvati. She replied, they are praising me for being defeated by Shumbha-Nishumbha. This goddess came to be known as ‘Kaushiki’ in Triloka. She is also called Mahadevi Ambika. As Kaushiki or Ambika was created from Parvati’s body, she became black. So her another name is ‘Kalika’. There are two stories of the appearance of Kali in the ‘Markandeya’ Purana. This is the first story.

The second story goes like this – Shumbha and Nishumbha proposed marriage to Mahadevi through the messenger. The mother said to their messenger, ‘I have vowed that I will marry the person who can crush my vanity and defeat me in battle.’ Then after some more incidents a fierce battle started. Dhumralochana, the Asura commander, attempted to fight with the goddess. But he was instantly burnt to ashes by the terrible scream of the goddess. Shumbha-Nishumbha was very angry at this incident. Shumbha ordered Chanda and Munda to bring the goddess by the hair. On the order of the Asura, Chanda-Munda went to tie Mahadevi with a rope. The goddess became very angry for this. Then a black goddess came out of her forehead. That was the fiercest form of the goddess. Like her terrible form, so was her terrible voice. The whole cosmos began to tremble. Mahadevi destroyed the army of demons along with their horses, chariots and charioteers. The hearts of Asuras began to tremble at the laughter of Mahadevi. She cut off Chandasur’s head with a sword holding a lock of hair. After killing Chanda, the goddess rushed towards Munda with great speed. She also caught him with a sword. Then the goddess took two severed heads of two Asuras and said to Goddess Kaushiki, “I have given you the head of Chanda and Munda.” Satisfied Mahadevi said to Kali, “for this work of yours you will be known as ‘Chamunda’ from today.”
According to the ‘Markandeya’ Purana, the creation of Kali is said in these two ways.

Goddess Kalratri in Adbhuta Ramayana

Also different scriptures describe the creation of Kali separately. For example, in ‘Adbhuta Ramayana’, Sita Devi took the form of Kali during the killing of Ravana.

Goddess Kalratri in Mahabharata

According to the story of Mahabharata, at the time of war between Pandavas and Kauravas, Dronacharya was duped into making surrender by accepting the defeat. Then his son, Ashwatthama was keen to avenge his father’s death. So, he went to Kuru camp, where all Pandavas were in a deep sleep. Ashwatthama then started attacking those Pandava brothers with Lord Shiva’s influence. Following that, goddess Kalratri reached the spot with a blood-filled mouth and terrifying appearance.

Goddess Kalratri in Skandapurana

Skanda Purana says that once Lord Shiva requested his consort, Parvati to rescue the gods from a demon named, Durgamasura. Goddess Parvati agreed to Lord Shiva and arrived assuming the fiercest form (Kalratri) to defeat the Asura. Furthermore, it is said that Goddess Kaalratri killed the Asura by removing her golden skin and swallowing his blood.

Benefits of Worshiping Goddess Kalratri

According to Hinduism, Kalaratri suppresses evil, removes planetary obstacles and frees devotees from the fear of fire, water, beasts, enemies and night. Devotees believe that Asuras, Demons, Rakshasas and ghosts run away just by remembering goddess Kalratri.

According to Shakta scriptures, “The day when a saint’s mind stays in Sahasrara Chakra (the final of the seven primary chakra of some yoga traditions), all the Siddhis (achievements) of the universe are opened for him. The mind of a saint in this Chakra is completely fixed in the form of Mother Kalratri. When the saint meets her, he becomes a sharer of Mahapunya (great virtue). All his sins and obstacles are destroyed and he attains Moksha (salvation).”

Goddess Kalratri Pujabidhi

On the morning of Saptami Tithi, the puja should be started by taking a bath in Brahma moment. After bathing, light a ghee lamp in front of the mother. Offer him red flowers. Sweets, five types of fruits, whole rice, incense, flowers and molasses etc. are offered in Ma Kalratri Puja. Molasses is given special importance on this day. After the puja is over, chant the mother’s mantras and perform her Aarti. Also recite Durga Chalisha or Durga Saptashati.

Goddess Kalratri Mantra

ekveni japakarnapura nagna kharastitha |
lamboshthi karnikakarni tailabhyakta sharirani ||

By Krishna Das

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