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Rudra (Samskrit: रुद्रः) is generally considered to be a form of Shiva. One of the Prajapatis, Rudra is said to be of tamasic guna and is known to be of fierce nature. The birth of Rudra is from Brahma. Like Vishnu, Rudra is not said to have taken many avataras.
व्युत्पत्तिः || Etymology
Amarakosha gives many names to Shiva or Rudra, a few of which are Shambhu, Isha, Pashupati, Shuli, Pinaki, Sthanu, Bhutesha, Vamadeva, Gangadhara, Vyomakesha, Tripurantaka, Kaparthi among others.
शम्भुरीशः पशुपतिः शिवः शूली महेश्वरः ।। १.१.७२ ।।
ईश्वरः शर्व ईशानः शंकरश्चन्द्रशेखरः ।। १.१.७३ ।।
भूतेशः खण्डपरशुर्गिरीशो गिरिशो मृडः ।। १.१.७४ ।।
मृत्युञ्जयः कृत्तिवासाः पिनाकी प्रमथाधिपः ।। १.१.७५ ।।
उग्रः कपर्दी श्रीकण्ठः शितिकण्ठः कपालभृत् ।। १.१.७६ ।।
वामदेवो महादेवो विरूपाक्षस्त्रिलोचनः ।। १.१.७७ ।।
कृशानुरेताः सर्वज्ञो धूर्जटिर्नीललोहितः ।। १.१.७८ ।।
हरः स्मरहरो भर्गस्त्र्यम्बकस्त्रिपुरान्तकः ।। १.१.७९ ।।
गङ्गाधरोऽन्धकरिपुः क्रतुध्वंसी वृषध्वजः ।। १.१.८० ।।
व्योमकेशो भवो भीमः स्थाणू रुद्र उमापतिः ।। १.१.८१ ।।
अहिर्बुध्न्योऽष्टमूर्तिश्च गजारिश्च महानटः ।। १.१.८२ ।।
कपर्दोऽस्य जटाजूटः पिनाकोऽजगवं धनुः ।। १.१.८३ ।। (Amar. Kosh. 1.1.72-83)
Role of Rudra
Rudra and his more calmer form Shiva (in the later ages), have been revered from Vedic times for his role in creation. Shiva as one of the trimurthis is said to control death and pralaya (destruction of creation). Although a few mantras/suktas of the Rigveda are devoted to describing and praising Rudra, there is a whole section of Taittriya Samhita, the Rudraprasna dedicated to him. Some of the attributes of Rudra are summarized as follows
- भिषक् ॥ Bhishak or Vaidya (वैद्या ॥ doctor) : Rudra is hailed as the bhishak (doctor) as are the Asvini Kumaras in the later ages.
- लयकारः ॥ Layakara: Rudra is known for his role in the destructive process of creation from the early times of Rigveda.
- मृत्युन्जयः ॥ Mrtyunjaya: Rudra or Shiva is one of the main deities worshipped to overcome death and attain immortality. For example Markandeya intensely performed tapas to propitiate Shiva for longevity.
- भूतनाथः ॥ Bhutanath: He is regarded as the palaka or ruler of the bhutaganas (the being of rudraloka).
- नटराजः ॥ Nataraja: Known for his cosmic dance, Rudra or Shiva represents the eternal dancer and hence called as Nataraja.
- नीलकण्ठः ॥ Neelakantha: Rudra or Shiva came to be known as Neelakantha after he consumed the kalakuta poison which arose from samudra manthan.
Birth and Family
According to Vishnu Purana, Brahma at the beginning of the kalpa created Sanatkumara and his brothers (Sanaka, Sanandana and Sanatana). Being enlightened, these four rshis not desiring materialistic pleasures were not prepared to obtain progeny. Due to this Brahma became angry to such an extent that he was prepared to destroy the worlds. He became furious, and from his furrowed forehead and eyebrows emanated a figure, Rudra, shining with unbearable radiance like the mid-day sun.
तस्य क्रोधात् समुदूभुतज्वालामालाविदीपितम् । ब्रह्मणोऽभूत् तदा सर्व्व त्रैलोक्यमखिलं मुने ।। ९ ।।
समुत्पन्नस्तदा रुद्रो मध्याह्रार्कसमप्रभः ।। १० ।।
अर्द्धनारीनरवपुः प्रचण्डोऽतिशरीखान् । विभजात्मानमित्युत्तवा तं ब्रह्मान्तर्दधे ततः ।। ११ ।।
तथोक्तोऽसौ द्रिधा स्त्रित्वं पुरुषत्वं तथाकरोत् । बिभेद पुरुषत्वं च दशधा चैकधा च पुनः ।। १२ ।। (Vish. Pura. 1.7.9-12)
Rudra, having a body, half-male and half-female, was terrific, was instructed by Brahma to "divide yourself". Instantly Rudra split himself into a man and a woman. And then he divided the male into one and ten parts. These eleven figures are the eleven Rudras. The names of the eleven Rudras are given differently in different Puranas. Vishnu Purana further explains in Adhyaya 8 of the same chapter about the creation of Rudra and his further role in creation.
रुदन् वै सुस्वरं सोऽथ द्रवंश्च द्रिजसत्तम । किं रोदिषीति तं ब्रह्मा रुदन्तं प्रत्युवाच ह ।। ३ ।।
नाम देहीति तं सोऽथ प्रत्युवाच प्रजापतिम् । रुद्रस्त्वं देव नाम्नासि मा रोदीर्धैर्य मावह ।। ४ ।। (Vish. Pura. 1.8.3-4)
Brahma at the beginning of creation was thinking about a child resembling himself and then on his lap there appeared a child of blue complexion. When he was crying aloud, Brahma asked him "why are you crying"? He replied "I must be named", and because he was crying (rodana), Brahma named him "Rudra" (one who cries). He continued to cry further and since he cried so for seven more times Brahma gave him seven more names, described their forms, gave names of their wives and children.
स्थानानि चैषामष्टानां पत्नीः पुत्रांश्च स प्रभुः । भवं सर्व्वमथेशानं तथा पशुपतिं द्विज ।। ६ ।। भीममुग्रं महादेवमुवाच स पितामहः ।
सूर्यो जलं मही वायुर्वह्निराकाशमेव च । दीक्षितो ब्राह्मणः सोम इत्येतास्तनवः क्रमात् ।। ७ ।। (Vish. Pura. 1.8.6-8)
Pitamaha Brahma named them Bhava, Sarva, Ishana, Pasupati, Bhima, Ugra, and Mahadeva. They reside in Surya (Sun), Jala (water), Earth, Air, Fire, Space, Brahmana who took Diksha (in yajnas) and Soma (Moon) respectively. Suvarchala, Usha, Sukeshi, Shivaa, Svaha, Disha, Diksha, and Rohini respectively are the names of the wives of the eight forms of Rudras named Surya and others. Their offsprings, sons and grandsons have filled the universe. Sanaischara, Suka, Lohitanga, Manojava, Skanda, Sarga, Santana, Budha are respectively the sons of the eight forms of Rudras (Vish. Pura. 1.8.9-12).
Rudra - As form of Agni
Rigveda mentions Rudra as Agni "तमग्नेरुद्रो" while Atharvaveda proclaims "तस्मै रुद्राय नमो अस्त्वग्नये"। Another version of the eight forms of Rudra representing the earthly materials are as follows
|Forms of Rudra||Represents|
In this way, Rudra represents Agni, which resides in every form of the creation, as well as the Agni tejas with which he shines forth.
Rudra in Vedas
Earliest mention of Rudra occurs in the Vedas and he is praised for his valour and as a vaidya. He is described as one of the important but considered lesser than Indra, Agni etc deities in whose praise there are many suktas in Rigveda.
While the highest number of suktas in Rigveda pertain to Indra, Rudra has been exclusively praised in three to five suktas and mentioned about fifty times in context with other devatas. In Rigveda Rudra occupies a place of lesser importance, however in Yajurveda and Atharvaveda Rudra plays a prominent role.
Rudra Sukta (1.43) of Rig Veda praises the qualities of Rudra that he is a Jnani (Knowledgeable), as one who gives good health and happiness along with longevity and as one who removes all the causes for ill-health. Along with Mitra, Varuna, Rudra aids in dispelling causes of diseases and ill-health.
Rigveda (2.33.1) further describes Rudra as the father of Marutganas. He is extremely fierce in dealing with those on the wrong path, while he is very kind to his bhaktas.
Rigveda (7.46) is a short sukta consisting of four rks, two of which are as follows
इमा रुद्राय स्थिरधन्वने गिर: क्षिप्रेषवे देवाय स्वधाव्ने । अषाळ्हाय सहमानाय वेधसे तिग्मायुधाय भरता शृणोतु नः ॥१॥
स हि क्षयेण क्षम्यस्य जन्मन: साम्राज्येन दिव्यस्य चेतति । अवन्नवन्तीरुप नो दुरश्चरानमीवो रुद्र जासु नो भव ॥२॥
Summary : This sukta in praise of Rudra describes Him as a protector (as one bearing a strong bow capable of shooting fast arrows), nourisher (providing anna or food), and provider of astras which makes His worshippers as winners. He is known as one who brings prosperity to both the beings of Prthvi (earth) and Svarga (heavens) and protects one who worships Him by dispelling diseases and granting many divine aushadhas (medicinal herbs). The sukta says - O Rudra! do not harm our children and their progeny, and let us not be part of those bound by your Krodha (anger). Do not kill us but do not leave us, please come for our yajnas and protect us.
Scholars opine that from the Rigvedic times, the mantras of the five Rudra Suktas have been used in the daily worship of people, a practice seen even in the present day. These suktas are known famously as the Pancha Rudra Suktas. They include mantras in suktas 1.43.9 (Kanva), 1.114.11 (Kutsa Angirasa), 2.33.15 (Ghrtsamada), 6.74.4 (Bharadvaja), and 7.46.4 (Maitravaruna Vasishta). Some others include the rks 4.3.1 and 5.42.11 also for the worship of Rudra.
Rudradhyaya present in both Krishna Yajurveda (Taittriya samhita, Kanda 4, 5, 7 Prapathakas) and Shukla Yajurveda Samhita (Adhyaya 16) is a very important part dedicated to Rudra describing his qualities.
The 11th Kanda, sukta 2 of Adharvaveda pertains to Rudra. In whom the Adityas, Rudras and Vasus are held together; in whom are set firm the worlds; that which was and that which shall be � tell me of that Support � who may He be? (Atharvaveda Samhita X.7.22)
AJAIKAPAT I. He was one of the eleven Rudras, who were born to Sthanudeva, the son ofBrahma. The eleven Rudras are :
1 . Mrgavyadha 7. Dahana
2- Nirrti 8. I^vara
3. Ahirbudhnya 9. Kapali
4. Pinaki 10. Bharga
5. Sarpa 11. Sthanu.
The names of the Eleven Rudras given in the Visnu Purana, Part I, Chapter 5 are: Hara, Bahurupa, Tryambaka, Aparajita,Vrsakapi, Sambhu, Kapardi, Raivata, Mrgavyadha, Sarva, Kapali.
A total number of 100 Rudras are mentioned in the Puranas.
Aparajita : One of the eleven Rudras, the other
ten being Hara, Bahurupa, Tryambaka, Vrsakapi,
Sambhu, KapardI, Raivata, Mrgavyadha, Sarpa and
Kapali. (Agni Purana, Chapter 18) .
3) Bhuta Chief. In the Puranas, Rudra is acknowledged
as the Bhuta chief. That is why Rudra is known by such
names as "Bhutanayaka", "Gananayaka", "Rudranucara",
"Bhavaparisada" etc. But since the common
name Rudra is used for the ruler (king) of all the
Bhutas, Vamana Purana declares that Rudra is not an
individual. Both Vamanapurana and Matsyapurana
represent Virabhadra and Nandikesvara as two Rudras
who are the masters of Bhutas. (Matsyapurana 181,
2; Vamanapurana 4, 17).
In Vamana Purana, the number of Bhutas is given as
1 1 crores. Skanda, Sakha, Bhairava are the chief among
them. Under them are innumerable Bhutas, Ashes
and Khatvamga etc. are their weapons. The emblem
on the banner is a cow or a bird. That is how the
Gananayakas have got the titles like "Mayuradhvaja",
"Mayuravahana". (Vamana Purana 67, 1-23).
4) War with Asuras. In the war between Siva and
Andhakasura, the Bhutas fought on the side of Siva.
It was Vinayaka, the master of the Bhuta hordes who
first came into conflict with the Asura. In that battle
Andhaka defeated Vinayaka. After that, Nandi, another
leader of the Bhutas, attacked Andhaka jointly
with Vinayaka and defeated him. At last, Andhaka
approached Siva himselffor protection, and Siva received
him and appointed him as commander of one of his
hordes of Bhutas. It is this Andhakasura who later
became famous under the name of Bhriigi.
In this way, the Bhutas had fought many battles with
the Asuras, joining the party of the Devas. But at the
time of Daksa's yajna, they joined the party of the Asuras
and opposed the Devas.
Sri Rudram occurs in the fourth Kanda of the Taittirya Samhita in the Yajur Veda. It is a preeminent Vedic hymn to Lord Shiva as the God of dissolution, chanted daily in Shiva temples throughout India.
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