ima rudraya tavase kapardine
ksayad viraya par bharamahe matih/
yatha sam asad dvipade catuspade
visvam pustam grame asminn anaturam//
The above mentioned beautiful Rg-Vedic invocation addressed to Rudra runs as follows, "We bring these songs of praise to the strong Rudra, lord of the heroes (ksayad-viraya), with hairs knotted (in the shape of a cowry shell, kaparda), so that it will be all well with our people (dviPade) and with our livestock catuspade and so that in this village all be healthy (visvam pustam) and well fed (anaturam)."
I had been toying with the concept of Rudra as a Vedic godhead for many years now. This is because I have heard from a devotee that the way to liberation of man from the mundane fears and fetters lies in getting in tune with Rudra. I am told that Rudra represents the whole of the vibrating universe of ours and it is he who controls the great recycling world of nature in its course of emanation and evolution. Apart from anything else, I understand that word rudra also means one who imparts knowledge. For it has been stated that rut jnanam rati dadati iti rudrah. That means, rut is 'knowledge' and rati means 'gives.' In other words, that which is knowledge-giving is rudra. This is one of the ways how the word rudra is derived. Besides, I have also been enamoured to learn that at the temple of Visvanatha Siva at Varanasi, the famous Vedic hymn known as the rudradhyaya is repeatedly recited every day by the devotees. That is why I was earnestly looking forward to studying the mystery of Rudra as a member of the Vedic pantheon. But I was awfully ill-equipped to make any headway into the depth of the eluding nature of the Vedic Rudra. However, despite my shallow knowledge-base, I ventured to study the multifarious and often frightening aspects of Rudra, as has been depicted in many Vedic hymns addressed to this god as given in the rg-Veda, Yajur-Veda, the Atharva-Veda and elsewhere; and eventually I even came up with publication of a small book entitled, the Rudradhyaya authored by myself containing English and Bengali translations of the Rudra- suktas belonging to the Rg-Veda-Samhita and what is known as the Sata-rudriya section of the Yajur-Veda Samhita - initially in 1995 for limited private circulation and then finally in 2000 for open publication (by Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Calcutta).
At that point of time, I did not know that late Professor R. C. Hazra (1905-1982) had carried out a most elaborate and critical study of the history and evolution of Rudra-Siva belonging to the Vedic lore. For it was never printed during his lifetime. Professor Hazra, as I knew him, was Professor of Smrti and Purana in the Sanskrit College at Kolkata and was well recognised as an established authority on these subjects in this country. Hazra's magnum opus had been his Studies in the Upapuranas, which came out in two volumes(l958 and 1963). That Professor Hazra was equally adept in the field of Vedic studies as well was quite unknown to me. However, I am sure that my wife, Dr. Sibani Das Gupta, who was his direct student, firstly at Dacca University in the 1940s and afterwards at Kolkata in Sanskrit College, must had been knowing quite well about the great versatility of his scholarship. Alas, in my effort to bring out this work of Professor Hazra on Rudra- Siva, she is no more in this world to help me in unravelling the mystery of the Vedic Rudra, except through her shelves of Sanskrit books, which are lamentably left with me now.
Some time ago, by a strange and wonderful coincidence, I suddenly stumbled upon a big bundle of manuscripts brought down to me by Mrs. Jayanti Biswas, daughter of Professor R. C. Hazra. I was literally amazed to discover therein his scholarly work on Vedic Rudra who had been so very dear to me as a universal godhead. While I gingerly turned over the tarnished and crumbling pages of the manuscripts, I realised that these wonderful works of his, which are a quarter century old now, must have to be printed off as soon as possible. Otherwise these would be lost to the posterity for ever. From the bunch of these papers I could fish out the manuscripts of the present volume on Rudra in the rg-Veda. Now the immediate question was as to who could be approached to get this valuable work of the scholar published.
Fortunately, the Sanskrit Department of Special Assistance (DSA) of Jadavpur University - through the good offices of Professor Manabendu Banerjee of that University - most graciously accepted the manuscript for publication. I am extremely thankful to members of the DSA, Sanskrit, Jadavpur University for this great gesture of theirs. It was equally commendable that Mrs. Basanti Devi, wife of late Professor Hazra, and their daughter, Mrs. Jayanti Biswas, agreed without any hesitation to transfer the publication rights of the book to Jadavpur University so that the valuable book is now seeing the light of the day.
As an unexpected fallout of the discovery of the manuscripts of the volume and its acceptance by Jadavpur University for publication under their aegis, the task of editing and seeing the publication through the press fell on a totally incapable person like me, who has not an iota of knowledge about the subject. Had Professor Hazra been around, he would not have certainly agreed to such preposterous proposition of having his book edited by a scientist and who was never a Sanskrit scholar per se. Professor Hazra knew me only as the spouse of his studen t and as a budding teacher in a branch of science, which was far away from Sanskrit literature, and nothing more than that. With a great dear of hesitation and despite the rapidly failing capability attached to an octogenarian, I had no way out but to accept with humility the onerous responsibility - as a sacred kartavya on my part - of editing this book of such a great Sanskrit scholar as of the stature of Professor R. C. Hazra. This I do in all my ineptness, and I earnestly crave indulgence of the readers to bear with me for the blemishes that this publication may contain in spite of my utmost care and constant effort to eradicate them. But I may tell that my main concern as the editor had been to brush up the language of the faded writings here and there and to bring about a semblance of uniformity in the style of presentation and to have a sort of balance in the format of the publication. However, finally I had to add, of course, such features as an index, a bibliography, an introductory note and a set of picture plates to embellish the monograph. I have also tried to check up the numerous citations in Sanskrit quoted by the author by consulting their original sources to make them as error-free as possible. The treatise, being scholarly as it is, contains a very large number of footnotes and reference materials, which comprise the most valuable sources of information for the future researchers working on this interesting subject, the Vedic Rudra-Siva. This is why, in designing the book I have taken liberty to show the notes, comments and references actually as endnotes after every section and not as footnotes under each page, as usually done. Further, for ease of reading, I have also got these endnotes printed in the same font size as of the main texts and not on a microscopically reduced size as normally done in publishing such works.
I should also mention, in this connection, that the treatise would have contained nine chapters and three Appendices. But unfortunately, in the manuscripts available to us two sections were found missing. One of these is the Appendix III, which was to contain a general account of some Vedic rites throwing light on Rudra's character as a god, which was based on discussion of the following four Vedic rituals: (i) Panca- sdradiya, (ii) Ratna-havimsi or Ratninam-havimsi, (iii) Sulagava, and (iv) Tryambaka-homa. And the second missing section is the all-important Chapter 9 on "Conclusion". Now it is left to the readers to draw their own conclusion, based on what the author has given to us in the rest of the book. In bringing out this monograph, all the operational errors of omission and commission can be taken to be entirely of mine and not of the author, who is no more with us.
I may also further add for information of the readers that the original idea of the author was to bring out a most comprehensive series of at least five big volumes, covering different phases of historical and cultural development of the concept of Rudra as recorded in different branches of the Vedas and other traditional post-Vedic literature of India such as the epics, puranas, dharma-sastras and smrti- texts. This publication was to have been under the general title : Rudra and Rudra Siva (An Historical Study) of which the present treatise on Rudra in the rg-Veda would have formed the very first volume. The second volume, about which Professor Hazra has mentioned as one nearing completion was on Rudra in the post-Rg- Vedic Works. The third volume of the series would have been on Ancient Tradition of the Sudra (A Critical Study), which was also stated to be awaiting publication. The fourth volume would have been on The Vraytas of Eastern India which was stated to be forthcoming. And the fifth one was on Rise of Epic and Puranic Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara. The manuscripts of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th volumes could not be found. I wonder if Professor Hazra had passed on these manuscripts to some publishers or to a press before his demise. If so, I wish some day they surface up in print from somewhere. However, a fragment of the 5th volume on the Rise of Epic and Puranic Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara has been somehow recovered and is being brought out separately to be distributed by Sri Balaram Prakash ani of Kolkata.
It will not be irrelevant now to mention, in passing, a word or two about the thrust area covered in this book and the main findings regarding Rudra that the author arrived at after critical and truly incisive study of the construction of Vedic hymns. Also, in this monograph the author has traced the possible course of evolution of the concept of Rudra-Siva and its eventual incorporation in the Vedic pantheon. For this purpose, he had made in-depth study and critical analysis - from historical point of view - of each of the several Rudra- suktas and the numerous rk mantras, wherever Rudra has been invoked as an emerging godhead. In this connection, wherever required, the author did not hesitate to refute the illogical or irrelevant contentions and wrong or distorted interpretations put forward by many of the celebrated Indian commentators and authorities like Sayana, Venkatamadhava, Uvata, Mudgala, Skandasvamin, Yaska, Mahidhara and others. In many cases these traditional commentators could not properly comprehend the import of many tricky rk mantras and they explained the meanings of such mantras in a roundabout manner. This had been due to the fact that many words and expressions used in the Rg-Veda in connection with Rudra came from foreign sources, which are of Assyrian and Babylian origin in Western Asia. Professor Hazra took advantage of many recent archeological discoveries made in Mesopotamia and other places of Western Asia and in the Indus valley in India that were helpful in tracing back the origin of the basic concept of Rudra as a god of storm from such Western Asian storm-god as like Adad or Ramman of the ancient times. Thus the final conclusion of Professor Hazra is that as per the available archeological and pre-historical evidence and according to correct interpretation of the Vedic mantras, the origin of Rudra is extra-Vedic, having come all the way-form Assyro-Babylonian god of storm, namely, Adad or Ramrnan. But eventually, this extra-Vedic god has been totally incorporated within the Vedic fold and since then has been treated as a useful Vedic godhead.
In this treatise, Professor Hazra has reinterpreted many rk mantras, which were earlier misunderstood by our ancient commentators and has instead brought out really coherent and sensible meanings of the same. Likewise, Professor Hazra has also boldly made scathing criticism of the frequent misinterpretation, wrong renderings and grotesque translations of the rk mantras, perpetrated by a great many Western scholars of repute like Max Muller, Muir, Whitney, Macdonell, Griffith, Ludwig, Wilson, Bloomfield, Lanman, Caland, Eggeling, Peterson, Bergaigne, Hopkins, Hardy, Arbman, Pischel, Renou and others. He has quoted in extenso from the works of these Western scholars in English and German languages and pinned down their faults and aberrations in interpreting and translating many a rk mantra, describing the activities of Vedic Rudra-Siva. Some of the scholars of the present times, who are oriented by the writings of these Western interpreters, may perhaps find it rather uncomfortable to easily accept the new renderings of Professor Hazra and reinterpretation of the history of development of the Vedic god, Rudra, as has been chalked out in this treatise. But it must be admitted that the author has introduced a new dimension and the right method of enquiry into the Vedic mantras.
But Professor Hazra is not at all alone in pointing out the errors of the earlier Vedic scholars in bringing out the proper meanings of many Veda-mantras and Vedic expressions. Sri Aurobindo, for example, has already pointed out, in his Secrets of the Veda, the defects of many of the earlier interpretations and he rightly emphasized upon the need to reassess the Vedas, based on correct understanding of the Vedic texts. Lately, Sri Anirvan, in his three-tome Veda-mimammsa, has brought out the real significance of the Vedic gods, which has been entirely based on new and distortion-free interpretation of the Vedic texts. Earlier, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, in his rg-Vedadi-Bhasya-bhumika, also vehemently criticised some of the traditional commentators and the Western scholars for their grossly distorted renditions of the Vedic texts. Recently, I had the opportunity of editing and bringing out a new version of Durgadas Lahiri 's famous book, jnana-veda, in five volumes, and find that Durgadas Lahiri (Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar) did also point out the great mischief done by some of the traditional commentators and the Western translators of the Vedic texts. In fact, the intelligentsia in this country and abroad has been badly oriented or even has been perhaps positively misguided by many distorted views on the Vedas, based on the works of these earlier scholiasts. So it is high time that this book on Rudra in the rg- Veda of Professor Hazra is now being brought out with the new findings based on his interpretation de novo of the Rg-Vedic texts, relating to Rudra. Now it is up to the modern Vedic scholars and the readers in general to go through this posthumous work of Professor R. C. Hazra and to see for themselves the points raised therein; but this they should do with a conducive heart of a real connoisseur and as a lover of Vedic literature and Indian cultural heritage.
Before finally wrapping it up, I thank the typesetters the Typos India Private Limited for setting the complicated text matter, which are embellished with too many diacritical marks. The typesetters must have had suffered a lot due to too many corrections and re-corrections perpetrated by me on the proofs. I thank the printers, who have done, to my mind, a neat job of it. But it will be treacherous on my part if I do not especially acknowledge the role played by Shri Debashis Bhattacharya of Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Kolkata, firstly as an assiduous go-between between me and the Jadavpur University Sanskrit Department of Special Assistance and secondly for his running about as a tireless Trojan in coordinating between all the different functionaries of the printing trade in successfully bringing out the book. At the end, as I shut down this little prolegomenon of mine, let me earnestly pray to Rudra thus -
namah sam bhavaya ca mayobhavaya ca
namah samkaraya ca mayaskaraya ca
namah sivaya ca sivataraya ca // (VS 16/41)
The purport of the above Vedic prayer is, "(May I pay) homage to the source of happiness (Sam bhavaya) and as well as to the source of delight (mayobhavaya). And (I offer) homage to the causer of happiness (Samkaraya) and to the causer of delight (mayaskaraya). Moreover, (I do pay) homage to the auspicious one (Sivaya) and to the even more increasingly auspicious one (Sivataraya)."
Chapter - 1
Chapter - 2
Chapter - 3
Chapter - 4
Chapter - 5
Chapter - 6
Chapter - 7
Appendix : I
Appendix : II
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