The Sri Rudram occurs in Krishna Yajur Veda in the Taithireeya Samhita in the fourth and seventh chapters. This prayer to Rudra has two parts-the Namakam (verses ending with Nama) and the Chamakam (Verses ending with Cha May) each with eleven sections. It is also known as Satha Rudreeyam or Rudra Prasnam. While Namakam is a prayer to Rudra to forget about his avenging fierce, fearful and horrendous form and turn himself into a peaceful form and do good to us, Chamakam on the other hand lists out the blessings to be got from a prayer to Rudra and prays Him to regulate and bless our life for a moment forgetting his anger. This also has eleven parts.
Meaning of the word Rudra
There are Several meanings to the word Rudra.
Rtam (dam) Samsaara dukham draava yat iti Rudrah
He destroys the sorrows of the world i.e. (Rudra).
The one who makes one to suffer.
Rtou Naadaante dravati - draavayateeti Rudrah.
The end note of the musical sound i.e. (Rudra).
Rtya - Vedarupaya, dharmadinava-loka yati praayateeti vaa Rudrah.
Rtya-vaagrupaya, vaakyam, prapayateeti Rudrah.
In the form of Speech, brings out the importance of the meaning of words i.e. (Rudra).
Rtya-Pranava rupaya svatmanam prayateeti Rudrah.
In the name of pranava (OM) He makes one to realize him.
Rudroroutiti satye rorupamaano dravati pravashati martyaaniti Rudrah.
In the form truth he enters humans.
Rtam Sabdam Vedaatmaanam Brahmane dadati Kalpaadaaviti Rudrah.
Rudra presented Vedas to Brahma at the Commencement of kalpa. Rudras also means the persons created by Rudra as Sadrusha.
Rtim Raati is responsible for the sound. He is praana Svarupa. Granter of praana (life).
Rudram is for example light, Teja and Ruth who binds and attracts.
Taam bhakte draavayati.
He is even capable of driving away hat Shakti (energy).
Birth of Rudra
There are also several stories about the birth of Rudra. Some of them are:
- Brahma created first four rishis called Sananda, Sanaka, Sanatana and Sanal Kumara with a view to initiate the activities of creation. But all the four preferred to be ascetics and never bothered to reproduce. Then Brahma got so angry that the anger was sufficient to burn all the three worlds. This anger escaped from his eyebrows and took the form of Rudra. Rudra’s form was half woman and half man. Brahma commanded him to divide and disappeared. Rudra divided himself into Rudra the male part as well as Rudhrani the female part. This male part further got divided in to eleven parts. They were Ajan, Ekaath, Ahirbudhnyan, Twashta, Rudra, Hara, Sambhu, Tryambaka, Aparajitha, Easana and Tribhuvana.. The female aspect was called Rudrani and she also divided herself into eleven parts and became consort to the eleven Rudras.
- From Brahma’s anger was born the Rudra, from his lap Narada, from his right Thumb Daksha, from his mind the Sanaka and from his left thumb one daughter called Veeraani.
- When Brahma was deep in prayer requesting for a son similar to him, a baby deep blue in colour came on to his lap. That son started crying and Brahma told him not to cry-“Maa Ruda”The child wanted a name. Since he was crying (rudha), he was called Rudra. The child cried another seven times asking for names and another seven Rudras were formed.
First prayer in the Veda addressed to Rudra
Kadrudraaya prachetasey meelhustamaaya tavyasey. Vocheyma shantam hridey.
We sing this praise from our hearts of the great Rudra, who is a pourer for the sake of peace.
Om namah Shivaya
Maha mrutyunjaya mantra
Tryambakam yajamahe Sugandhim pushtivardhanam Urvarurkamiva bhandhanam Mrityor mukshiya ma-mrtat
We salute and respect,
Him who is naturally scented,
Him who looks after his devotees with mercy,
And him who has three eyes.
And pray and request,
To move us away from the catch of death,
Like the cucumber separated from its stalk,
And firmly put us in the path of salvation.
namaste, bhagavan, visweswara, mahadeva, tryambaka, tripurantaka, trikagni kala, kalagni rudra, neela kantha, mrutyunjaya, sarveswara, sadasiva
Salutations to you God,
Who is the lord of the universe,
Who is the greatest among gods,
Who has three eyes,
Who destroyed the three cities,
Who is master of the three fires,
Who is the Rudura who burns the world,
Who has a blue neck,
Who won over the God of death,
Who is Lord of everything,
Who is ever peaceful,
And who is the greatest God with goodness.
The Sri Rudram is divided into eleven sections called anuvaakas.
- In the first anuvaaka consisting of eleven sukthaas, Rudra is requested by the devotee to turn his fierce exterior and not use his weapons on his devotees. He is also requested to annihilate the sins committed by his devotees
- In the second anuvaaka consisting of two sukthaas the Rudra is part of nature in all its glory as plants and medicinal herbs. He is requested to untie the bonds of the day-to-day life.
- The third anuvaaka consisting of two sukthaas describe Rudra as a thief. He might have been presumed to be the stealer of ignorance from us.
- In the fourth anuvaaka, consisting of two sukthaas, Rudra is the common man with his deficiencies, angularities and described as the creator and worker of all kinds.
- In the fifth Anuvaaka, consisting of two sukthaas, several aspects of Rudra's personality, especially as God responsible for creation, preservation and destruction is described.
- In the sixth anuvaaka consisting of two sukthaas. Rudra is identified with changes of his personality over eons of time and the roles he has played in different ages. He is described as the source of the different worlds, Shrutis (Vedas) and its essence in Vedanta.
- In the seventh anuvaaka, consisting of two sukthaas, his all pervading presence in nature in all its fury and majesty is described
- In the eighth anuvaaka, Rudra is described as He who illumines other Gods and confers powers on them. The Panchakshari mantra viz. “Nama Shivaaya” occurs for the first time in Vedas in this anuvaaka.
- In the ninth anuvaaka, which consists of two sukthaas, the unfancied and hard to live places where Rudra lives is listed out. In essence it means he is all pervasive.
- In the tenth anuvaaka, Rudra is again requested not to show his furious fear giving form and appear before the devotee in a peaceful calm form. The mantras unlike the ones till ninth anuvaaka do not end in Nama after every description.
- In the eleventh anuvaaka, consisting of eleven sukthaas, Rudra’s army called Ganaas is praised and they, wherever they exist, are beseeched to protect the devotees of Rudra.
This anuvaaka is followed by six stotras of Rudra.
Methods of Chanting Rudra
The Chamakam, lists out the blessings that can be got by prayer to Rudra. The reading or chanting of Rudra is said to be complete only when chamakam also is chanted. There are five methods of chanting Rudra viz.,
- Ordinary method where first Rudram is read and then Chamakam.
- Rudra ekadasini, where after chanting Rudram, the first anuvaaka of Chamakam is chanted, again after chanting Rudram the second anuvaaka of Chamakam is chanted and so on till the eleventh chanting of Rudram followed by eleventh anuvaaka of Chamakam.
- Laghu Rudram, where Rudra ekadasinis is chanted eleven times
- Maha Rudram, where Laghu Rudram is chanted eleven times
- Athi Rudram, where Maha Rudram is chanted eleven times
- Another source mentions them as Manyu, Manu, Mahinasa, Mahaan, Shiva, Ruthudwaja, Bhava, Kaama, Vaamadeva, and Drutha Vrutha
- Yet another source mentions them as Mrigavyadga, Sarpa, Nirvrithi, Ajaikapada, Ahirbudhya, Pinakin, Dahana, Kapalin, Sthanu, Bhaga and Tryambaka.
- Ru means sound or to vibrate, Ruda is to pour or to cry and Rudra is to shed, to flow, to inflict
- This anuvaaka is chanted for all round development of the community as well as the well-being of the chanter. It provides a protective shield against diseases, devils, monsters, etc.
- This is chanted for destruction of enemies, possession of wealth, getting of kingdom and so on
- This anuvaaka is chanted to cure diseases.
- This anuvaaka is supposed to cure diseases like tuberculosis, leprosy, etc
- This is chanted to get rid of ignorance and Maya, for victory against enemies, for begetting of a son, for avoidance of problems during pregnancy and for expansion of wealth.
- This is chanted for the same aim stated in the fifth anuvaaka.
- This anuvaaka is chanted for the increase of intelligence, wealth, health and longevity.
- It is told that when you do not have time to chant the Rudra fully at least this eighth anuvaaka should be chanted
- This anuvaaka is chanted for the destruction of enemies and re -possession of one’s assets.
- This anuvaaka is chanted for obtaining wealth, a good wife, good job, and the blessings of a son who will be devoted to Lord Shiva.
- This anuvaaka is chanted for possession of wealth, cure of diseases, removal of fear, getting rid of the enmity of powerful people, absence of fear from all living beings, having the vision of Bhairava (Shiva in his most fearful aspect), absence from dangers and fears, blessings and the absolution of sins.
- This anuvaaka is chanted for acquiring knowledge of past, present and future.