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Samyukta hastas

16. Nirriti ('Goddess of Disorder')

16. Nirriti ('Goddess of Disorder')

Nirriti is made by the right hand in Shakata mudra (Bhramara) and the left hand in Katva hasta.
Katva                Shakata
Abhinayadarpanam states:

"Khatavacha shakataschaiva keertitau nirrtti karaha"


Niriti's Hand Gestures

☽◯☾ Viniyogas (Meanings) ☽◯☾

Niriti (निर्ऋति:) means "absence of ṛta, lawless". The masculine form of the name, Nirita, is a name of Adharma (Lawless). She is a goddess of destruction and death (of the Moonlight), the regent of the deathly hidden realms and sorrows of the south-west direction, being one of the Ashta-dikpālas (Eight guardians of cardinal directions). According to Monier-Williams’s Sanskrit-English Dictionary, she represents the south.

Album leaf painting of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Vishnu appears here at the base of the cosmic churning pole as the turtle Kūrma and also seated on top of Mount Mandara. The gods (to left) pull on the rope made of the serpent Vasuki, while demons pull on the right side. Several gifts can be seen in the upper part of the painting. Painted on paper. 1800
Niriti is known as Alakshmi (Unhappiness). When the Milk ocean was churned by the Devas and the Asuras to get amrita (immortal light), the venom Kala-kuta (End of Time) appeared, from which a goddess was born. As the goddess Lakshmi (Wealth and Happiness) was born after her, Niriti is considered as the elder sister of Lakshmi.

Sagar_mathan_Various scenes from the samudra manthan episode (c. 1820). In right bottom corner, Jyestha is depicted as a dark woman, wearing dirty clothes and carrying a broom and a pan

Niriti is a Ketu ruled nakshatra in Vedic astronomy. It means one of the 27-28 Lunar asterisms in which the ascending Lunar node called Ketu is situated. The goddess has dark black complexion similar to Devi Kali (Black Time of eclipse) in the form of one of the Mahavidyas called Dhumavati (Smoky). Dhumavati is the seventh of the ten Mahavidya Goddesses. Devi Dhumavati is an old widow and is associated with things considered inauspicious and unattractive. Niriti wears black dress and iron (black loha) ornaments.

Nirṛti is mentioned in a few hymns of the Rigveda, in which the Vedic rishis (symbols of the Solar Draconian years) seek protection from the negative influence of the Solar or Lunar eclipses or implore for her departure from the sacrificial site (astronomical observatory or temple).

In the rigvedic hymn (X.59), she is mentioned several times. In the Atharva Veda (V.7.9), she is described as having golden locks. In the Taittiriya Brahmana (I.6.1.4), Nirṛti is described as dark, dressed in dark clothes and her sacrificial shares are dark husks. In the Shatapatha Brahmana (X.1.2.9), she is associated with pain and as the southwest quarter is her region, pain is associated with the southwest. But elsewhere in the same text (V.2.3.3.) she is mentioned as living in the south, the direction of the kingdom of the dead (Moons).

She uses a large crow as her vehicle or rides on a lion. She holds scimitar and as a weapon a Kundayudha.

Other dikpalas are Indra, Agni, Varuna, Vayu, Yama, Ishana and Kubera. Including Brahma the number of dikpalas raises to nine forming Nava-sangha (Union of Nine).


  1.    Kinsley, David (1987, reprint 2005). Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Faminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0394-9, p.13
  2. Bhattacharji, Sukumari (2000). The Indian Theogony: Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, New Delhi: Penguin, ISBN 0-14-029570-4, pp.80-1

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