Nirṛti (निर्ऋति, sometimes spelled Nirruti or Nirriti) is a Hindu goddess, personifying death, decay and sorrows. In some Hindu scriptures, Nirṛti is associated with Adharma (immorality). In later Hinduism, Nirṛti and Nirṛta is also a male god, who is regarded as a dikapala ("guardian of the directions") of the southwest.
This term was used in Vedic texts to indicate a realm of non-existence and absolute darkness, which threatened to consume those who failed in their duties to sacrifice and procreate. In nirṛti, there was no light, no food, and no children: none of the necessary elements of Vedic life and ritual
Nirṛti is mentioned in the hymns of the Rigveda, mostly to seek protection from her or imploring for her during a possible departure. In one hymn (X.59), she is mentioned several times. This hymn, after summing up her nature, also asks for her in departure from the sacrificial site. In the Atharvaveda (V.7.9), she is described as having golden locks. In the Taittiriya Brahmana (I.6.1.4), Nirṛtī is described as dark, dressed in dark clothes and her sacrificial shares are dark husks. In the sacred Shatapatha Brahmana (X.1.2.9), she is associated with the southwest quarter as her region. But elsewhere in the same text (V.2.3.3.) she is mentioned as living in the kingdom of the dead.
In later Hindu texts, Nirṛti was re-conceptualized as a deity. According to some texts, she is the wife of evil Adharma (not-dharma) and the mother of three Rakshasas—Mrityu (death), Bhaya (fear) and Mahabhaya (terror)—who were collectively referred to as Nairrita. In contrast, other texts portray her as the daughter of Adharma and Himsa (violence); she married her brother—Arita (not-ṛta) and became the mother of Naraka (personification of the hell) and Bhaya. Some texts identify Nirṛti with other inauspicious goddess, Jyeshtha or Alakshmi. In this context, she is described to have emerged from the Samudra Manthan (the churning of the ocean).
Nirrti is sometimes included as one of the Rudras and described as the son of Sthanu. Varying descriptions of the god Nirṛti are found in different scriptures. According to many texts including the agamas, he has a terrifying appearance. He is often depicted dark-skinned and has two or four arms. His vahana is a man. He is the guardian (Dikapala) of the southwest direction. According to the scripture Devi-Bhagavata Purana, Nirṛti resides in a city named Krishnajana, which is located in the southwestern part of Mount Meru. The city is said to have an area of 2500 yojanas.
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