“This book contains Sri Rudram, a hymn from the Vedas, the sacred book of the Hindus. Diving deeply into the book brings Isvara into one’s life so that one comes out with namah on one’s lips and Isvara in one’s heart.”
I am very happy that Arsha Vidya Research and Publication Trust is bringing out a second edition of Sri Rudram. The first edition would not have been possible but for the efforts of Swamini Pramananda, who carefully transcribed and edited it at the Anaikatti Gurukulam. Smt. Nirmala Shankar with her vision and commitment spared no efforts to publish the book.
I have gone through the book and have made some changes here and there. At the request of many devotees, I have added the few mantras that are traditionally chanted at the end, although the Rudra Prasna is complete with the mantra before ‘tryambakam’.
It is indeed a book of blessing. May Lord Rudra bless the reader.
Sri Rudram, a hymn in praise of Lord Rudra, appears in many sakhas of the Veda namely, the Kama and Madhyandina sakhas of the Sukla—Yajur-Veda, and the Taittiriya, Kataka, Maitrayani sakhas of the Krsna- Yajur—Veda. Although in the different sakhas, the mantras differ slightly from each other, all the mantras beautifully reveal the omnipresence of the Lord. Sri Rudram, as commented upon by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, is based on the mantras of the Taittiriya sakha of the Krsna—Yajur Veda.
In Sayanacarya’s Veda—bhasya, Sri Rudram is looked upon as an anga for both karma and jnanam. As an anga for karma, Sri Rudram blesses the vaidika with prosperity here and in the hereafter; while the mantras chanted with no desire for results, niskama—karma, supported by an understanding and contemplation of the Lord as revealed in the mantras, form a prayer. As a prayer, when Sri Rudram is recited by a seeker, the mantras become an aid in the discovery of oneself as non- separate from the Lord.
Sri Rudram consists of eleven sub-divisions called anuvakas. The mantras of these anuvakas include individually in some sections and collectively in some other sections, details such as the name of the rsi, the sage, who discovered the mantras; the chandas, the meter of the mantra; the phala, the result that accrues to the one who chants the mantras a specific number of times; and the dhyana sloka, verses for contemplation upon the Lord before chanting the mantras.
This book has been compiled from a series of talks given by Pujya Swamiji to the three year resident students of Vedanta at Anaikatti, Coimbatore, in 1997. I thank Swami Sakshatkritananda for his Sanskrit editorial assistance and formatting of this book. It has been a great joy for me to transcribe and edit these manuscripts. This work has been symbolic of my own journey into discovery of Isvara’s omnipresence, through Pujya Swami’s beautiful unfoldment of bhagavat-svarupa. Like a beacon of light in a dark forest, Pujya Swamiji’s life and teachings have been a guide to hundreds of seekers throughout the world. I am sure Sri Rudram as presented by Pujya Swamiji, will be another great source of inspiration and discovery of the Lord’s countless glories. With the kind support of Smt. Sneha Parija, a student of Pujya Swamiji, this book has been published in memory of her late father, Shri Birakishore Sahoo, for sharing the sacred message of Sri Rudram with seekers of truth.
Among the various Vedic hymns recited daily by a vaidika, the Sata Rudriua occupies a prime place. Popularly known as Sri Rudram it is in praise of and prayer to the Lord. A part of both Sukla and Krsna Yajur- vedas, the hymn is a source of inspiration for the namavalis consisting of one thousand and eight names that reveal and praise the Lord invoked in a particular form. In the epic Mahabharata, Bhisma gives thousand names of Lord Visnu, known as Visnu-sahasranama. Many such namavalis are mentioned in various puranas. Both in form and content these namavalis are not different from the Vedic Rudram. Even in the Vedas, one does not see a section like SrI Rudram consisting of many names of the Lord along with the word, namah, salutation. The famous five-syllabled mantra, namassivaya, is from this great hymn.
Nama-japa is perhaps one invariable element in the religious life of a vaidika. Even now one can see religious people from different parts of India doing mental or oral japa daily. The kirtan groups that sing 'Hare Rama ... Hare Krsna' are in fact doing japa. The mode of repeating different names of the Lord has crossed geographical and cultural borders. A devout Muslim repeats the ninety-nine names of Allah.
This repetition is japa. A faithful Christian tells the rosary beads repeating a sentence seeking mercy from the Lord. This too is japa. The most ancient source of this mode of prayer is Saia Rudriya.
The hymn is also called Namaka because the word namah is added to a word or words in the dative case depicting the Lord. The words in the verses of Visnu- sahasranama are only in the nominative case and therefore namah has no place. But in a ritual of offering flowers unto the altar of Visnu, namah is added to every name appropriately modified to dative case, giving the sense, 'unto'.
There are three types of prayer based upon the predominant means of accomplishing an act of prayer: kayika, vacika and manasa.
Kayika: A Vedic fire ritual is kayika because the physical limbs and materials are involved in the ritualistic prayer. The Vedic ritual is substituted by a more popular form of worship, that of the Lord at an altar, as is done in a temple. Worship of the Lord either at home or in a public place of worship is also kayika. Though the form of prayer is kayika, it implies the use of speech and the mind.
Vacika is oral prayer. It is popular in all religious traditions. In this form, the organ of speech, vak, as well as the mind are involved. Any form of recitation, including that of a choir in the church, comes under this category.
Manasa is an act of prayer done purely by the mind, manah, which is why it is called manasa, meaning mental. It is also called dhyana, meditation. When the physical act of worship, kayika, is mentally done, it is meditation. Only the mind is involved here. The Sata Rudriya is used in all three forms of prayer. The whole hymn is used in a kayika ritual, implying either an altar of Siva or of fire. It is also used for oral japa which is vacika. When a part or the whole of the hymn is repeated mentally, it is manasa.
Besides being a hymn of prayer, Sata Rudriya is like an upunisad revealing the truth of jiva, the individual, jagat, the world and Isvara, the Lord. It also provides the means for gaining eligibility for the knowledge unfolded by the upanisad. The different names of the Lord chanted in one's prayer also reveal the truth of the Lord as one and non-dual, the vision of the upanisad. The hymn, therefore, is rightly called Rudropanisad. The implied meaning of the words of the Lord serve as upanisad and the words in the hymn with their simple meaning become a means for gaining the eligibility for knowledge. This hymn is also considered very efficacious in neutralising the result of wrong actions. A human being is subject to punya and papa. The difficulties people go through in their lives are often the papas of previous actions actualised in the form of obstructions for a person in pursuit of spiritual knowledge. Sata Rudriua is one of the efficacious means to neutralise them. Even for citta- naiscalya, freedom from emotional upheavals in one's life, Sata Rudriya is highly recommended by people who know the Vedic tradition very well. In one of the upunisads it is said, "The one who repeats Sata Rudriya is freed from the papa incurred by hurting a brahmana, robbing somebody's wealth and so on ... "
The Vedic japa is reverentially talked about even in the puranas, In the Kurma-purana, there is a story of a king called Vasumanas, who did gayatri-upasana for many years. As a result of his prayer, the Lord appeared to the king in the very form he was praying to. Requested by the king for the means to moksa from samsara, the Lord told him, "Listen to these secret names of mine given in one place, even though they are mentioned individually in different parts of the Vedas. Add namah to each word and do namaskara,living a life of dharma. You will free yourself from samsara" What is the logic here? It needs to be discussed.
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