Rudra is an ancient God of Storms and Wind in ancient belief. Rudra is given many names, and is generally viewed as a terrifying god, as befits his status of storm god. He is known as the Terrible, as the Howler, and as the Wild One. In some of the Vedas, Rudra’s name is said to be derived from the word for ‘weeping’ connected with a story that as son of Prajapati and Usha, he was found weeping for not being assigned a name. So he was named Rudra – Weeper. Rigveda -“Boy, why dost thou weep, since thou hast been born after toil and austerity? The boy said: “My evil has not been taken away and a name has not given to me, give me a name. 'Rud' means weep. ” Prajapati said “Thou art Rudra.”
As the Hindu pantheon of gods developed, the darker sides of Rudra diminished more and more, and he became viewed as a benevolent god and an independent deity. He also became synonymous with a form of Shiva, except that his bull became Nandi. This later cult of Shiva associated weeping with despair at the condition of eternal life, in turn linked with Destructive aspects of Shiva in the life and cosmic cycle.
Early Rudra was a complex figure with opposite qualities. He was viewed as a foul god of wild nature. He was of wild temper, as if uncivilized, murderous, spitting like a wild beast and ridinga boar. As God of Death, Rudra was a divine archer shooting arrows that caused sickness and plague at cattle, humans and gods alike. He was associated with hunting, lord of cattle and wild life. Those affected by Varuna’s wreath invoked Rudra for protection. Thus Rudra considered himself as a judge, smiter of the
workers of evil and nourisher of the virtuous. As a healer well-versed with healing art, Rudra was depicted as a shining sun. He was a beautiful singer, and a generous god, giving gifts to people, gods, and animals alike. He was the giver of disease, but also the god who cured illness. When he was benevolent, he was good and kind, but at a moment’s notice he could turn foul and angry, and often did so with no seeming provocation.
AGNI –RUDRA SIVA:
In the Rig Veda and by early worshippers, Rudra is identified as Agni. In Hindu teachings, death is not death in the sense of passing into non-existence, but simply a change into a new form of life. He who destroys therefore causes beings to assume a new phase of existence. Thus the Destroyer is really a re-Creator and
hence the name Shiva, the Bright and Happy One. In the epics and Puranas, Shiva’s praise was celebrated for Him to gain reverence. Seeing no difference, He was declared to be the Rudra of the Vedas.
In Vedic literature, the relationship between Agni and Rudra is an important factor for the gradualdevelopment into the later character of Rudra-Siva. The ancient text of etymology, the Nirukta, states that Agni is Rudra. Both Agni and Rudra are destroyers of life.The fire myths of Rudra Siva center around the potentialities of illumination or jnana. The similarities between Agni and Rudra is evident in (i) Satarudriya in the Rigveda; (ii) epithets such as Sasipanjara – of the golden red hue and (iii) Tivasjamati – flaming light which envision Siva as the God of Fire. In some texts Agni is also described as Bhairava which yet again is an epithet of Siva.
From his connections with Agni, Rudra is further elevated to a higher platform in the Atharva Veda which represents a transitional stage between the conception of the Rudra in the Rigveda and the systematic philosophy of Saivism in the Svetasvatara Upanishad. The Atharva Veda exalts Rudra as Eka-vratya, meaning Vratya par excellence. It speaks of seven attendants of Eka-vratya as Bhava in the intermediate space of the eastern region, Sarva of the southern region, Pasupati of the western region, Ugra of the northern region, Rudra of the lower region, Mahadeva of the upper region and Isana of all the intermediate regions.
Although they appear as seven distinct deities, still they were allied and were looked upon as different manifestations of Eka-vratya who is represented to have been fond of the strong sura and is brought into a very special relation to Magadha. It is not clear who the magadhas were but are believed to be a priestly tribe who migrated to the Indus valley. The vratya cult afterwards developed into Shaivism of the Indus valley civilization.
The Shiva Thandava is also known as Rudra Thandava where, Nataraja is shown dancing a circle of agni. In the
Vedas Agni is described as a bull. Rigveda 2.33.4 states “May we not, Bull Rudra, provoke thy wrath by bowing down to thee, by praising thee ineptly, By invoking thee with others, Raise up our men with healing remedies, best of physicians, so do I hear thee.” Rudra protected wild life and nature. He was master of the natural world. In that status he was represented as a bull. This would follow his later version as Shiva’s Nandi vahana.
The Vedic hymns in Rigveda 2.33.1 describe Rudra as the ’Father of Maruts’, a group of storm gods: “Father of the Maruts! May thy grace come down, do not withhold from us the vision of the sun! May our warriors on horseback remain unscathed, Rudra, may we bring forth progeny abounding.” Thus Rudra is said to have sired
the Maruts on the goddess Miti. She keeps her pregnancy for hundreds of years to grow a child within the womb so be equal if not better than Indra in strength. In wanting to end this, Indra throws a thunderbolt at Miti’s womb. That breaks open and spill splintered individual Maruts. In another account he enters into Miti’s womb to fragment the baby. These little Maruts, about 60 in number caused havoc, knocking down trees and causin storms. But Indra’s sons go on to become powerful storm gods themselves and over power the Maruts.
There are reasons to believe that Rudra-Shiva of Puranic Hinduism is a continuation of the Vedic Indra. For example, both Shiva and Indra are known for their addiction to Soma. Both are associated with such popular symbols as mountains, rivers, male fertility, fierceness, fearlessness, warfare, transgression of established
mores, the Aum sound, and the Supreme Self. In Rig Veda 2.20.3, 6.45.17 and 8.93.3 the term Shiva is used as an epithet to describe Indra.
The comparisons of Rudra as a Vedic god, fell into the oblivion giving way to the describable aspect of Shiva, who then was Pasupathi lording over animals and presiding over winds. That would be the interpretation of
religious writers. Pashupati was a reference to Lord Shiva as Paramatma and pointed to the early origin of Shaiva Siddhanta. The Tamil populace and Tamil Sangam literature have held that Rudra was only an early name for Shiva in his terrible and even Tantric aspects. This ran parallel to equally terrible looking Kali and Bhairavi. The words ‘Rudra Thandavam’ and ‘Rudra Kali’ precedes accounts of Puranic deities.
It was found by Rishi Markandeya and kept as a secret. This great mantra is dedicated to Rudra and is called the Great Death Conquering mantra. It is also called Rudra mantra referring to the furious aspect of Siva; the Tryambakam mantra alluding to Tryambaka -Siva’s three eyes. It is found as a verse in Rigveda 7.59.12 and reoccurs in Yajurveda 3.60. Once Daksha curses the moon and there was total darkness. Rishi Markandeya thus gave the Mahamrityunjaya mantra to Sati, Rudra’s consort to troubleshoot. Chandra was relieved of the curse. Shiva then took Chandrama on his head. Thereafter the mantra becomes common knowledge. Along with Gayatri mantra, Mritryunjaya is the most known mantras in the Hindu world.
Ambika, is the sister of Rudra in both Vajasaneyi Samhita and Satapatha Brahmana. “Ambika, indeed is the name of Rudra’s sister; and this share belongs to him conjointly with her; and because that share belongs to him conjointly with a woman, stri, therefore these oblations are called Tryambakah. She is given the same identity in the Taittiriya Brahmana, where she appears as ‘sarat’ – autumn and helps Rudra when he carried out his work of killing. As a matter of fact, the sarat – autumn has been looked upon as the most dangerous part of the year since the early Vedic period.
Rudra is shown as a sectarian god and represented as Mahesvara, Great Gods among the Gods, Isvaras and as the Supre Deity among the divinities. “Tvam isvaranam paramam Mahesvaram, tam devatanam paramam ca daivatam” – Svetasvatara Upanishad V.1.7.
In another hymn, Rudra is mentioned as one who created Brahman and delivered Vedas to him: ‘Yo Brahmanam vidadhati purvam, yo vai vedamsca prahinoti tasmai” – Svetasvatara Upanishad VI.18.
In the same Upanishad IV.12, we have “He, the creator and supporter of the gods, Rudra, the great seer, the lord of all, he who formally gave birth to Hiranyagarbha, may he endow is with good thoughts.
And also in III.9 “this whole universe is filled by this Purusha, to whom there is nothing superior.”
In Svetasvatara Upanishad III.2, Rudra appears as the creator, preserver and destroyer when this Upanishad says that ‘there is one Rudra only, they do not allow a second, who rules all the worlds by his powers. He stands behind all persons and after having created all the worlds he, protector, rolls up at the end of time.”
In Svetasvatara Upanishad, Rudra is endowed with a number of names, Hara, Mahadeva, Isa, Isana, Mahesvara and Bhagavat. Mahadeva and Isana involve prominence of this deity compared with other Gods, indicating sectarian worship. The word Siva, in the vedic hymn, was mostly used as an adjective and was attributed to more than one deity.
In Svetasvatara Upanishad, the name Siva occurs in several passages mainly as an attribute of Rudra and the process of transforming the adjective into noun for designating a cult God has already begun in Vedic literature. He is here the great lord, the Mayin with Maya as his Prakriti and invoked both woman and man. Thus the Svetasvatara Upanishad is said to stand at the door of the Bhakti school and pours its loving adoration on Rudra Siva.
Forming part of the Yajurveda, it is extolled as the death defying hymn to the deity Rudra, symbolizing nature and the indivisible Tattwa which runs through Life, Death and Afterlife.. Sri Rudram is also known as Rudraprasana, a hymn devoted to Lord Siva. Sri Rudram is in two parts: (1) Chpt 16 known as Namakam using Namo repeatedly and (2) Chapter 18 Chamakan using Chame repeatedly. Apart from being a hymn devoted to Lord Siva, Sri Rudram contains hidden secrets in coded format. It is divided into 11 sections called Anuvakas.
Anuvakas: In the 1st Anuvaka, Rudra is aksed to turn away his fierce appearance - Ghora rupa. In the 2nd Anuvaka, Rudra is prayed to as one who pervades the earth and green foliage. In the 3rd Anuvaka Rudra is Sarvatma, the Self of all. In the 4th Rudra is creator and worker of all kinds. In the 5th Rudra’s existence in running waters is praised and 5 activities are described: Creation, preservation, destruction at the time of Pralaya, bondage in ignorance and release of moksha. In the 6th Anuvaka, Rudra is identified as Kalarupa – time and source of different worlds, Shrutis (Vedas) and essence of Vedanta. In the 7th Anuvaka, Rudra’s is all-pervading nature is described. In the 8th, he illumines other Gods and confers powers.
In the 9th
Anuvaka, Rudra’s strength and power of his attendants is described. In the 10th Anuvaka Rudra is gain asked to shed his Bhairava fury and shower benevolence by displaying his Pinaka bow and gracefully appear with his tiger skin. In the 11th Anuvaka Rudra’s accomplishment are profusely praised.
The Rudra of the Mahabaratha is not very different from that of the Satadriya. In later literature he rises in importance and his attributes are more clearly defined. He was no more a subordinate deity, now illustrated by numerous legends. He sends Agni, Vayu,Surya, Mitra and Varuna to the background. Even Indra, the God of the Heavens was quite unable to compete in power and popularity. Rudra stood dignified together with Vishnu and became subject matters of exclusive worship.
There is early mention of Siva in the Yajur Veda thus throwing away the theory of Siva being a Puranic god. In the Vajasaneyi recension of the White Yajur Veda, Rudra is addresses “Thou art gracious Siva by name. This is extended in a prayer in Yajur Veda “Shine upon us dwellers in the mountain with that blessed body of thine which is auspicious, May he who glides away, blue necked, to the thousand eyed, to the bountiful, and to the lord of spirits.” Rudra’s accounts agrees with that of Vishnu and Markandeya Purana but it is not as definite as Vishnu’s avatars. All that can be gleamed is that Rudra appeared dwelt frequently Benares, his home being Kailasa on the Himalayas. These were literature Lord Shiva really.
Repeats the stories Daksha’s yagna with Rudra and Siva interchangeably used. Rudra marries Uma, daughter of Daksha. There is fear that their children would be dangerous to live with, so the gods entreat Siva and Uma to live a life of chastity but this did not prevent the birth of Karthikeya. Uma declares that the wives of all the gods should be childless. Rudra takes a prominent position amongst the gods at the churning of ocean; he drank the poison as nectar that was produced before the amrita, which caused his blue neck, hence Nilakanta, the blue necked.
Explains why Rudra-Siva adopted the dress and habits of a religious mendicant. Brahma created Ahankara -consciousness of individual existence, which immediately pervaded the nature of both gods; and under its influence Rudra said to Brahma, "Say, O lord? how earnest thou hither, and by whom wert thou created?" Brahma asks in return, "And where have you come from?" In the resulting quarrel, Siva is inflamed and cuts off Brahma’s fifth head which uttered the boastful words. But the head would not fall off and remained in his hand. Brahma invokes giants to slay Siva but he fled to Benares. The city’s sanctity absolved him from his great sins but the episode records that Siva carried around the kabala and wandered around like a mendicant – a story linked to the Kapalikas and Aghoris.
This is a staff carried by Lord Rudra and Lord Siva and has great significance in Shaivite pantheon. Both were thus refered to as ‘Khatwangi’ for bearing this staff. It is a must for Shaivite Kapalikas and Aghoris who frequented places of austerity. The kapalikas are described as miscreants sentenced to a term of penance. The khatavanga and kapala carried by Kapalikas and aghoris are connected to the Vamuna Purana story above.
The Shiva Purana considers the ‘Samharamurti’ or the destructive aspects of Rudra Shiva. According to this purana, Bhairava is the purana-rupa or complete form of Rudra with a fearsome image. Bhairava etymologically means he is bharana or one that protects the universe because he is ‘bhaa’ – terrifying. Thus Rudra is also called Kala Bhairava for even time trembles before him. The Brahma head carrying story is retold in the Shiva Purana where Bhairava roams the world, begs for arms with the skull – kapala vrata, as a begging bowl until reached the holy city of Kasi. Iconography of Bhairava portrays Kapalikas and Aghoris as god realized humans – the transgressive Bhairavas. Indeed the aghori ascetic is himself a symbol of the Rudra Shiva in Bhairava form. They also carry the trident which affiliates him to other Shaiva and Shakta traditions. In their belief Bhairava or Rudra Shiva is perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and pure and therefore there cannot be anything in this universe.
AGHORA RUDRA SADHANA:
In this sadhana, the deity is in the ferocious form of Rudra Shiva. Aghoris practice it for understanding of the mantra devata. The biji mantra is ‘sleem pashu hum phal.’ For the Moola mantra and practice, one should approach a guru well versed in this field as it is a twin bladed razor to practice without supervision.
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi