Goddess Kalratri, also known as Maa Kaali, is the seventh avatar of Goddess Durga. Devotees worship her on the seventh day of Navratri. They seek her blessings to eliminate all troubles from their lives. This form of Maa Durga is believed to destroy all demons, ghosts and negative energies. She is also believed to be the destroyer of time and death. Although intimidating in appearance, this Devi is benevolent towards all worshipers.
There are many mythological stories that tell us about the transformation of Goddess Durga into Maa Kalratri. According to the most common legend, two demons Shumbha and Nishumbhainvaded and defeated devlok (the realm of demigods). These demigods prayed to Goddess Parvatifor help who readily transformed herself into Goddess Chandika, to battle with demons on behalf of all devtas. Goddess Chandika, also known as Chamunda, transformed herself into Goddess Kalratri and killed both these demons. Maa Kalratri fought another demon called Raktveej and kept drinking his blood till he was completely dead, causing her tongue to appear blood-red.
For the protection of dharma and for the destruction of the demons, whenever sages and noble men have prayed to the god, he has time and again incarnated on the earth as a divine power to save the living beings. In the same way, goddess Durga manifested out of the energies of all the gods for the very same reason. The seventh form of goddess Durga manifested on the seventh day of Navaratri and she is known as “Kaala-raatri”. She manifested for the welfare of devas and human beings of the earth. Because Puranas speak of the legend that in the ancient times, when demons like Mahishasura, Shumbha, Nishumbha etc. after obtaining boons, dominates and tortures the beings of earth and heavens, the religion or dharma starts to get diminished on the earth. Humans on the earth started forgetting their human values and righteousness and demonic energies started spreading everywhere. Noble qualities like yajnas, charity, social service, dharma, kindness, forgiveness etc. started disappearing. When god worship was abandoned and gods, parents, gurus were not respected. During such darkness in the world when the whole of humanity was sinking deep in the demonic qualities, goddess Kalaratri incarnated to save humanity from the oppression of the demons. She is the embodiment of auspiciousness and is the destroyer of demons and evils of the earth. She is the giver of fearlessness to the whole of humanity and celestial beings. Goddess Kali is known by this name due to her powers. Because she is the energy which even transcends the death and time, meaning even death is helpless in front of her. She was known as “Kaala- raatri” by her devotees because she is the end of even the kaala (death). The word “Kaala” literally means time and time is also known with respect to death and hence “kaala” also means death.
Kaala is the destroyer of everything. Kaala engulfs everyone at right time. Goddess Kali is even more fierce and intense than the kaala. In front of her, no demons or even kaala can stand. Thus, Sri Kaali is the savior of this world and heavens. She saves her devotees from ghosts, demons, fears, sorrow, poverty, diseases, pains etc. and grants them fearlessness. She blesses the devotees with peace and prosperity. The seventh form of Durga is known as Kalaratri which is famous since the ancient times. Even though her appearance is very frightening, but she is the source of eternal light and wisdom and takes such fierce form only for the welfare of her devotees. The form of the goddess has four arms and in the upper right hand, she holds the boon gesture as she blesses her devotees with the desired results. In the lower right hand, she holds the fearlessness gesture which ensures the protection of her devotees. She holds the mighty sword in the upper left hand and a trident in the lower left hand. Her hair is dense, black and is scattered which makes her look very fierce. She has three eyes which are round as the shape of the universe and are extremely fearsome. It has the luster of the lightning thunder and also appears like extreme darkness at the same time. She exhales heavy flames of fire as her exhalation. She is having a great garland in her neck and she has a mule as her vehicle. All kinds of troubles and diseases are taken away by her worship and one gets back the peace and happiness in his life.
Mythological tale of goddess Kaalratri
Mother Kalaratri is always compassionate towards all of her devotees. We find several instances in Puranas about goddess Kalaratri. Among the scriptures, Durga Saptashati is the foremost which gives a detailed account of nine forms of Durga in an authentic manner. Apart from this, some portions of the stories are also found in Devi Bhagavata and related Puranas. It is believed that Kalaratri is a form of goddess Kali only. She is the giver of visible results in the age of Kaliyuga. Because Kali, Hanuman, and Bhairava are gods which can be invoked easily and grants the desired fruits to the devotees. There are several names and forms of goddess Kali but by her devotees, she is called by the names like Bhadrakali, Dakshina Kali, Matra Kali, and Maha kali. All these forms are equally powerful and auspicious hence she is also known as Shubhankari which means the one who always does welfare of the people. In Durga Saptashati there is a mention of Goddess Bhadrakali slaying the demon Mahishasura. It is mentioned that during the battle, as the demons approached near the goddess with their mighty army, they showered so many arrows on the goddess as if clouds are pouring the rain drops on the peak of mount Meru. In return, goddess broke these arrows with her giant arrows in an effortless manner and also killed the chariot riders and horses as well. Apart from that, she also destroyed their bows and their military flags. After cutting their bows, she pierced them with her mighty arrows. Then Sri Bhadrakali threw the “shola” weapon which destroyed their weapons and the demons including great Mahishasura lost their lives.
In the same manner, goddess Kali, whose face is very fierce, incarnated for the destruction of demons named Chanda and Munda. Some portion of her story is as follows Sages says that– Meanwhile, after getting the orders from Shumbha, demons like Chanda and Munda departed with their great Chaturangini army and mighty weapons. After reaching the golden peak of the Himalayas, they saw the goddess sitting on the lion. Soon they started struggling to get hold of the devi. During this time, goddess showed anger towards the demons due to which her face got darkened. Her eye brows got frowned and from her kali emerged with a terrifying face and form who was holding pasha and sword. She is holding a strange khatvanga weapon and wearing the garments of leopard’s skin. She was also wearing a garland of skulls as an ornament. Her body was slim with less flesh she was looking horrific due to her body which as nearly a skeleton. Her face was very big and she further looked fearsome due to her moving tongue. She was making a great roaring sound which was resonating in all the directions. By slaying the demons she soon broke up on to the army of demons and destroyed everyone with her mighty power.