By Swami Harshananda
Rātrisukta literally means ‘the hymn addressed to the goddess Rātri’.
Suktas are certain special groups of Vedic mantras. They may be used either for certain rites and rituals or as prayer. The Rātrisukta of the Ṛgveda is one such well-known piece. Though it has only eight ṛks or mantras, its use in rituals often includes 13 more verses called khila or pariśiṣta mantras which are also considered as of hoary antiquity. Then comes another group of 12 verses which are the phalaśruti.
A brief summary of this sukta is as follows:
- As she arrives, Rātrī sees or observes every place through her beautiful and bright eyes.
- She, the immortal goddess, has filled the whole earth and the sky with darkness, enlivening it however with the light of her stars.
- After some time she departs, making way for her sister, Uṣas.
- Darkness is also withdrawn along with her.
- Just like the birds rest in their nests in the night, we too safely spend the night in our houses.
- May she, the goddess of night, be pleased with us!
- Is it not a fact that as soon as night approaches, all people return to their homes, the cows and the horses to their sheds and the birds to their nests?
- O goddess of the night, please accept this hymn of praise, like an oblation of ghee given in a sacrifice!
- The 13 verses of the khila section that follow, describe her form and beauty.
- They also contain prayers for protection against the dangers of wars, of enemies, of fire, of robbers and of the evil effects of malefic planets.
- The 12 verses that come next describe how to worship the goddess using these verses by reciting them and offering milk and sandal-paste.
Chanting of Rātrisukta
This Rātrisukta is chanted as a part of the ceremonial recitation of the famous Candi or Durgāsaptaśatī also.
Fruits of Reciting Rātrisukta
The results of this recitation and worship are also given. Some of them are:
- Attaining fame in the three worlds
- Being blessed with a worthy son and wealth
- Blind person regaining eyesight
- Person suffering from diseases being cured of them
- Getting whatever one desires
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore