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Here is Ratri Suktam from Rig Veda

CXXVII

1.WITH all her eyes the Goddess Night looks forth approaching many a spot: She hath put all her glories on.

2 Immortal. she hath filled the waste, the Goddess hath filled height and depth: She conquers darkness(Tamas) with her light.

3 The Goddess as she comes hath set the Dawn her Sister in her place: And then the darkness vanishes.

4 So favour us this night, O thou whose pathways we have visited

As birds their nest upon the tree. 5 The villagers have sought their homes, and all that walks and all that flies, Even the falcons fain for prey.

6 Keep off the she-wolf and the wolf, O Urmya, keep the thief away; Easy be thou for us to pass.

7 Clearly hath she come nigh to me who decks the dark with richest hues: O Morning, cancel it like debts.

8 These have I brought to thee like kine. O Night, thou Child of Heaven, accept This laud as for a conqueror.

Now this is a hymn dedicated to Goddess of night Ratri devi. In this hymn She is called the conqueror/destroyer of darkness/Tamas and She shares similar function of devi Kaali of the Agamas. So, is there a difference between two goddess or Is Ratri devi a form of Kaali maa?

  • 'Ratri destroying darkness'. How it could be. Don't get swayed by English translation – B.N. Bhaskar Nov 1 '17 at 15:45
  • @B.N. Bhaskar actually the word is Tamas which is translated as darkness by Griffit. – Karmanya Nanda Nov 1 '17 at 17:07
  • There are various ramifications of the term'Tamas', it could mean anger,bad things in other context. Here, in the context of Ratri, it could mean fatigue/illness which is dispelled off after a sound sleep during night. That's what I mean. – B.N. Bhaskar Nov 1 '17 at 20:34
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    Goddess Ratri of the Vedas is definitely related to Mother Goddess in a way. I will post an answer. – Rickross Nov 3 '17 at 5:54
  • @Rickross ok waiting for it:) – Karmanya Nanda Nov 3 '17 at 12:08
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You must be knowing about Sri Chandi, which is also known as the DurgA Saptashati or the Devi MAhatyam and which is a part of the MArkandeya PurAna.

Now, a Chandi PAtha is considered to be flawed or incomplete if all the Shad-Angas ( the Kavachas, the Rahasya Trayas etc) are also not chanted along with. So, chanting simply the slokas of Sri Chandi is not enough. One who does so is said to be cursed by Devi.

And, it is also mandatory to chant two Suktas from Rig Veda as an allied part viz- the Rig Vedokta Devi Suktam (which is discussed in this answer to your another question) and the RAtri Suktam ( Rig Veda Mandala 10, Sukta 127).

A correct Chandi recital actually comprises of the following (in that order):

Sankalpa, Chandi PujA, Chandi Book PujA , NavAkshara Mantra japa (the ChAmundAyai Vicce one or the Tantrik 9-lettered mantra which is comprised entirely of Beejas), Argala stotra recital ( Jaya tvam devi ChAmunde etc), Kilaka recital, Devi Kavacham recital, RAtri Suktam recital, Devi Suktam recital (Om Aham rudrevir..).

Only thereafter Sri Chandi is to be recited. Now, all these allied recitals are Devi related. So, without any doubt the RAtri Suktam is Devi related and Goddess RAtri is an aspect of JaganmAtA , the Mother of the universe, who is praised in the Chandi.

The Sankalpa Mantra for the recital of RAtri Suktam, as a part of the Sri Chandi recital, is as follows:

RAtriti suktasya kushika rishih, rAtrir devatA, gAyatri chandaha, sri jagadambA prityArthe saptashati pAthAdau jape viniyogah |

.......

For the RAtri Sukta, seer is Kushika, deity is RAtri, meter is GAyatri and, it is recited before reciting Saptashati, for pleasing the Mother of the universe (or Goddess DurgA).

Now, in the following mantra from the RAtri Sukta, there is no difference between Goddess RAtri and ParAshakti :

Ovarvapra amartyA nivato devyudvatah | JyotishA vAdhate tamah ||

.....

The Eternal Goddess RAtri (or mahAmAyA) pervaded the whole creation, the small herbs and the tall trees with her Consciousness. And destroyed the ignorance (Tamah) by her illumination (JyotishA).

However, in these Mantras at one place, Goddess RAtri is described as having a sister called UshA and at another place she is said to be daughter of Supreme-Ether (ParamAtman).

Niru swasAramaskritoshasam devyAyati | ApeduhAsate tamah ||

.........

The Goddess RAtri destroys the enveloping-power (avidyA) of her sister UshA ( swasAram=own sister). And in such a state of UshA, the veil of ignorance falls apart.

Upa te gA ivAkaram vrinishu duhitarddivah | RAtri stomam na jigyushe ||

......

O Goddess RAtri, Just like a milk cow (gA iva), i have appeased you, [by stuti-japa] (Akaram). You are the daughter (duhita) of ParamAkasha-ParamatmA (Duhitardivah). By your grace and blessings we will defeat our enemies like lust etc. Be pleased with our Hymns and Havi (offerings).

But Goddess KAli of the Tantras is the Supreme Parabrahman who does not have any sister and who obviously is the Eternal and the Primordial ( AdyA) one. So, she can not be born of something/someone.

On the contrary, it's from her, numerous universes take birth. Even the Trinities were born from her.

The same is stated by Lord SadAshiva to Sri AdyA in the MahAnirvAna Tantram:

Tvatto jyAtam jagat sarvam tvam jagajjanani shive ||
MahadAdyanuparyantam yadetat sacharAcharam |
tvayivotpaditam bhadre tvadadhinamidam jagat ||
tvamAdyA sarvavidyanam asmAkamapi janmabhuh |

.........

The whole creation has evolved out of you. O Shive! You are the Mother of the universe. O Bhadre! From Mahat-Tattva till the atoms, the subtle-gross, the mobile-immobile-universe was created by you. The universe is under your supreme control and you are the primordial. All forms of knowledge and we all are created from you.

MahAnirvAna Tantram 4.10-12.

So, we can not really map the Vedic Goddess RAtri to the Supreme Goddess KAli of the Agamas. But we can reconcile. And in the following way:

It is well known that, Mother Goddess is also known by the name MahAmAya. Now, this MahAmAya can be of two types as said in the following verses:

SA mahAmAyA dvividA vidyAhavidyA cha |
YA mahAmAyA mukterhetubhutA sA vidyA |
YA samsArabandhanahetubhutA sAhavidyA ||

.........

VidyA (Knowledge) and AvidyA (Ignorance) are the two forms of MahAmAya. The aspect which is the reason of liberation is VidyA and the one which causes worldly bondage is AvidyA.

So, we can map the VidyA aspect of Mother Goddess to the Vedic Goddess RAtri. Just like the opposites Alakshami-Lakshmi (viz-the Sri Suktam) are sisters so are VidyA-AvidyA and both of them are born of Sri AdyA (who is KAli, DurgA or Chandi etc). So, RAtri having a sister as well as being born, both facts are thus reconciled.

The MArkandeya PurAna also states the same:

SA vidyA paramA mukterhetubhutA sanAtani |
SamsArabandhahetushcha saiva sarveshareswari ||

.....

The Eternal VidyA is Supreme. She is the mother of liberation as well as being the reason for worldly bondage (SamsArabandhana). And she is the Supreme controller of all the Godheads.

And, BTW, there is also another RAtri Suktam from the BrAhmanas. The Mantras from this Suktam alludes to a few more-known attributes of the Mother Goddess (like She is holding the PAsha, She being a Yuvati etc):

OM rAtrim prapadye punarbhum mayobhum kanyAm |
Shikhandinim pAshAhastAm yuvatim kumArini mAdityah ||
Srichakshashe vAntah prAnAya somo gandhAya Apah |
SnehAya manah anujyAya prithivai shariram ||

........

The MahAmAyA Goddess (RAtri Devi), who appears again and again (Punarbhum)[for the destruction of the Demonic forces], who is the giver of bliss-happiness to all beings, who is Shikhandini ( wearing a an ornament made of peacock feathers), who holds the weapon PAsha, who is Yuvati ( denotes the fact that she is devoid of childhood and old age and thus denotes her eternal nature) and who is the sum total of all KumAri etc Shaktis; I seek refuge in (prapadye) such Goddess RAtri. Let, by her grace, the Sun God protect my eyes (or beautify them) always, the God VAyu protect my five prAnas, the God Soma protect my sense of smell, the God Varuna protect all the fatty elements in me, the Moon God protect my mind and the Earth God protect my body.

SAmavidhAna BrAhmana, 3rd Mandala, 8th AnuvAka, 2nd Sukta.

This RAtri Suktam#2 is also chanted as an Anga of the Sri Chandi recital.

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Rig Veda Book 10 - Hymn 127

रात्री वयख्यदायती पुरुत्रा देव्यक्षभिः | 
विश्वाधि शरियो.अधित || 
ओर्वप्रा अमर्त्या निवतो देव्युद्वतः | 
जयोतिषा बाधतेतमः || 
निरु सवसारमस्क्र्तोषसं देव्यायती | 
अपेदु हासतेतमः || 
सा नो अद्य यस्या वयं नि ते यामन्न्नविक्ष्महि | 
वर्क्षेन वसतिं वयः || 
नि गरामासो अविक्षत नि पद्वन्तो नि पक्षिणः | 
निश्येनासश्चिदर्थिनः || 
यावया वर्क्यं वर्कं यवय सतेनमूर्म्ये | 
अथा नःसुतरा भव || 
उप मा पेपिशत तमः कर्ष्णं वयक्तमस्थित | 
उष रणेवयातय || 
उप ते गा इवाकरं वर्णीष्व दुहितर्दिवः | 
रात्रि सतोमंन जिग्युषे || 

rātrī vyakhyadāyatī purutrā
devyakṣabhiḥ | 
viśvāadhi śriyo.adhita || 
orvaprā amartyā nivato devyudvataḥ | 
jyotiṣā bādhatetamaḥ || 
niru svasāramaskṛtoṣasaṃ devyāyatī |  apedu hāsatetamaḥ || 
sā no adya yasyā vayaṃ ni te
yāmannnavikṣmahi | 
vṛkṣena vasatiṃ vayaḥ || 
ni ghrāmāso avikṣata ni padvanto ni pakṣiṇaḥ | 
niśyenāsaścidarthinaḥ || 
yāvayā vṛkyaṃ vṛkaṃ yavaya stenamūrmye | 
athā naḥsutarā bhava || 
upa mā pepiśat tamaḥ kṛṣṇaṃ vyaktamasthita | 
uṣa ṛṇevayātaya || 
upa te ghā ivākaraṃ vṛṇīṣva duhitardivaḥ | 
rātri stomaṃna jighyuṣe || 

There is no direct relation between goddess Ratri of Rig-Veda and goddess kali of Agama and Tantra. Let's see this with some points.

Here in Rig-Veda Ratri Sukta of Mandala 10-Sukta 127. goddess Ratri is depicted as sister of goddess usha i.e. dawn - daytime. That means she is the goddess of night as usha is related to daytime. They both are personification s of day & night.

We can clearly see the relationship between them as day & night. As it's said tha Ratri devi accepted / up-coming day-time or goddess Usha as her sister.

Also note that we can't see the word Kali in the sukta , instead word Krishna (black) is used. And it's said that darkness or blackness falls at night time and it vanishishes after the arrival of goddess Usha (dawn , daytime). Instead the characteristic of night i.e. blackness /darkness is only described and this thing is not related to goddess Kali ,as she is completely of different nature and characteristics than this Ratri Devi ,darkness falls upon whose arrival.


We can find similarities between vedic goddess Nirṛti - निऋती and Agamic/Tantric goddess Kali.

Nirrti is a Ketu ruled nakshatra in vedic astrology, strongly associated with Kali in form Dhumavati.

The goddess has a dark black complexion. Similar to Devi Kali. Nirrhiti is also similar to Mahavidyas, Dhumavati. She is also named Alakshmi.

Conclusion- So mostly there seems to be no direct connection between goddess Ratri & goddess Kali.

Further reading - The Book of Kali


Here is Hindi Translation of Mandala 10 - Hymn 127

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  • Btw do you know why goddess Kali is called kaalratri? – Karmanya Nanda Nov 1 '17 at 11:08
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    We can find similarities between vedic goddess Nirṛti - निऋती and Agamic/Tantric goddess Kali.---- This is simply nonsense. When you do not know about something better not to talk about that. The Tantrik Goddess Kali is Parabrahmayai and you say there are similarities between her and Nirrti?? – Rickross Nov 1 '17 at 11:56
  • I appreciate your concern about the connection. But actually I am quoting from the Wikipedia article. Also I have provided the link of the book from my primary search about origin of Kali came from. Since the nature of the question is to prove or disprove the connection between both. I have written the answer likewise. And the article says there are "similarities" between both & not "both are the same" i.e. find similar vedic goddess who's description is somewhat identical i.e. trying to find origin. – SwiftPushkar Nov 1 '17 at 13:58
  • I appreciate yout DV and surely will search again and will improve the answer with detail search. Just allow me some time. I am off for few days since today. But still will try.:) – SwiftPushkar Nov 1 '17 at 14:00
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    It's ok take ur time but I am surprised to see that you write answers by doing google search. – Rickross Nov 1 '17 at 15:37
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Apart from this verse the term 'Ratri' appears in many other hymns of RigVeda and invariably mean night.In this verse,Rishi praises night in terms of poetic personification where Usha (dawn)is called as sister (swasar) of Ratri and daughter of Day (duhitardivah).

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