In Hinduism, Nirṛti निरृति is the goddess of death and corruption, one of the dikpāla (Guardians of the directions), representing the southwest (or—according Monier-Williams’s Sanskrit-English Dictionary—the south). The name nir−ṛt- has the meaning of "absence of ṛta, lawless". The masculine form of the name, Nirṛta, is a name of Rudra.
Nirṛti is mentioned in a few hymns of the Rigveda, mostly to seek protection from her or imploring for her departure. In one hymn (X.59), she is mentioned several times. This hymn, after summing up her nature, also asks for her departure from the sacrificial site. 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.
Her name's correct original pronunciation is three syllables with all vowels short: "Ni-rṛ-ti"; the first 'r' is a consonant, and the second 'r' is a vowel as in "grrr". (In the Stargate series the 'irr' in her name is pronounced like British English "er" in "fern".) A common modern Indian pronunciation is "Nir-ri-ti".
In popular culture
In the video game Ninja Gaiden 2, the dual-wielded swords have a technique called Blade of Nirrti.
In Roger Zelazny's novel Lord of Light, set on a world where humans with vastly advanced technology have set themselves up as the gods of Hinduism, Nirriti the Black is one of their enemies. In that work, Nirrti is male, and actually a Christian clergyman.
- Dallapiccola, Anna L. (December 2002). Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-51088-1.
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