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Ratri Sukta In Rig Veda – Hymn Addressed To Goddess Ratri

Suktas represent specific collections of Vedic mantras, serving either ritualistic purposes or as prayers. An example of this is the Ratri Sukta (Ratri Suktam) from the Rig Veda (10.127.1-8), a widely recognized composition. While the Ratri Sukta comprises only eight riks or mantras, its application in rituals often involves an additional 13 verses referred to as khila or parisisht (supplementary) mantras, all considered to have ancient origins. Additionally, there is a set of 12 verses known as phalashruti, providing a eulogy of the hymn itself and detailing the various benefits derived from its recitation or use.

A brief summary of this Ratri Sukta

Upon her arrival, Ratri, the overseeing deity of the night, gazes upon every corner through her resplendent and luminous eyes—the stars. This immortal goddess blankets the entire expanse of earth and sky with darkness, yet vivifies it with the radiant glow of her stars. After a while, she gracefully withdraws, yielding the stage to her sister, Ushas, the harbinger of dawn. Darkness, too, retreats.

Just as birds find repose in their nests during the night, so shall we securely spend our nights within the shelter of our homes. May the goddess of the night find favor with us! Indeed, as night approaches, it is a universal truth that people return to their abodes, cows and horses seek refuge in their sheds, and birds retreat to their nests.

O goddess of the night, please accept this hymn of praise, like an oblation of ghee given in a sacrifice!

The subsequent 13 khila verses delve into the description of Ratri's form and beauty, along with prayers for protection from various threats such as war, enemies, fire, robbers, and malefic planets. Following these, the succeeding 12 verses guide worshippers on how to venerate the goddess through recitation and offerings of milk and sandal-paste.

The rewards or benefits of chanting and worshiping Ratri using the sukta includes gaining fame across the three worlds, acquiring a virtuous son and wealth, restoring sight to the blind, curing diseases, and fulfilling desires. Notably, Ratri Sukta holds a significant place in the ceremonial recitation of the revered Chandi or Durga Saptashati.