Sunday, December 21, 2008


Rudram is a beautiful hymn on Lord Shiva that occurs in the Taittariya Samhita of the Krishna Yajur Veda. It is also known as Rudraprashna or Shatarudriya or Rudradhyaya, containing two parts, Namakam (recurring 'नमो' sound) and Chamakam (recurring 'चमे' sound). Each part contains 11 anuvakas or chapters.

I wanted to write about Rudram since a long time now.. as I sit down to write, I think what do I write about the most beautiful, the most melodious, the most blissful.. how can I put that experience into words.. Rudram is the entire universe, the beauty that is the nature of the infinity, the vastness and the glory of this creation and its magnanimity..

Its like this, for example, if Lord Shiva were to stand in front of you and you had to praise him.. what would you say ? what would you sing ? This is exactly what happened to the ancient Rishis, who experienced such a blissful state in their deep meditations, that Rudram was sung from the depth of their hearts.. People who have done the Art of Living Advance course are more likely to appreciate the process of praising.

I fell in love with Rudram the first time I heard it more than 15 years ago, when a neighbor was doing the puja and I just happened to be there in his home that time. I was surrounded by 24 vedic pundits who chanted it while I was doing Abhishekam to Shiva. I didn't understand what they were chanting, but it felt very powerful and energizing.. I still can relate to that exhilarating experience.. my body was vibrating with a unknown energy as I poured Milk, honey and other anointed fluids on Shiva.. Its unforgettable..

Later on I began to study about it and meditated on it over and over again. Its just amazing.. These days whenever I hear | ॐ नमो भगवते रुद्राय | which is how Rudram starts, a smile comes to my face from I don't know where, my eyes close and I just start sipping bliss every moment.. Sipping bliss, absolute joy, thats what Rudram is..

The praises that go in Rudram are just mind boggling.. its love poetry at its pinnacle.. there are certain chants which send thrills thru my nerves..

नम्स्ते अस्तु भगवन् विश्वेश्वराय महादेवाय त्रैय्मबकाय त्रिपुरान्तकाय त्रिकाग्नि कालाय कालाग्नि रुद्राय नीलकण्ठाय मृत्युंजयाय सर्वेश्वराय सदाशिवाय श्री मन्महादेवाय नमः

The hymn is like a gushing rapid at this point.. unstoppable flow of beauty.. praise after praise.. shiva melts like butter.. for example one praise goes.. नमो हिरण्य बाहवे .. which means salutations to the one with the golden shoulders.. when carefully inferred.. who is the one with golden shoulders ? its the sun in the morning and evening.. shiva is compared to the golden rays of the sun which encompass you, me and this entire world in a warm hug.. its such a lovely feeling to have in the morning that I am in the secure embrace of the lord !.. wonderful ..

The praises can get very esoteric.. सेनान्ये दिशांच पतये नमः .. which means the directions are his armies.. hinting that space is under His command.. He overpowers and transcends space.. amazing, isnt it ?

one anuvaka goes.. नमो ज्येष्ठायच कनिष्ठाय च नमः पूर्वजायच परजाय च नमो मध्यमाय च .. it means.. salutations to the one who was born first.. to the one who was born last.. to the one who is born in the middle.. to the one who is beyond birth... and it continues..

shiva is compared to every possible thing.. the trees and the greenery of the leaves.. नमो वृक्षेभ्यो हरिकेशेभ्यः .. so whenever you see a tree.. it should remind you of shiva.. you see greenery in leaves, it is shiva..

In fact everything is said to be Shiva.. to the movements of the planets.. to the movements of ants.. to the beats of millions of hearts.. it is He who is dancing.. it is His cosmic dance that is making my fingers type this.. and your eyes read.. and the electric impulses rush in the nerves.. it is all Shiva's dance.. and all the sounds from rustling of the leaves to the explosions in the universe are the sound from his damru..

shiva is even compared to thieves.. he is called the king of thieves.. तस्कराणाम् पतये नमः the king of thieves is the one who steals the most precious, the heart. If there was ever a true romantic poetry period, it was the vedic period. Rudram is love with the lord expressed in all the exquistive-ness (if there is such a word, you know what I mean) that language can offer.

Right in the middle of Rudram is an anuvaka which begins.. नमः सोमाय च रुद्राय च .. and in the exact center of this chapter occurs नमः शिवाय .. the most powerful invocation uniting the five elements in the universe.. So, in the center of Krishna Yajur Veda lies Rudram .. and in the center of Rudram lies Om Namah Shivaya .. one can count the number of words in the hymn and for sure this is the center. This gives us an idea about the genius of the creator and also the potency of the mantra. The creator seems like an architect who gave 100% attention to detail.. its really overwhelming to see intelligence and love flowing together.. absolute perfection.

When Namakam finishes, which praises Shiva up and down, left, right and center, chamakam starts. Chamakam is all about asking the divine and anything and everything is asked. Really, things such as health, wealth, peace, progeny, all that and even rocks, mud, animals and stars !! In fact, all that Shiva was praised as in Namakam, they are being asked for in return in Chamakam !. It is really funny, because Shiva is everything that is there, so praise it and ask for the same !

Ancient scholars such as Abhinava Sankara, Sayana, Bhatta Bhaskara, Ahobala and VishnuSuri, over the centuries have written commentaries and conducted volumes of research on what Rudram means.. for example secrets of ayurvedic medicine preparation are encoded in Rudram !.. and the last part of chamakam sounds like number theory ! A lot has been written on the secrets behind those sounds and the spiritual and material benefits it bestows..

Whatever be the fruits of the puja, I feel that listening to Rudram in itself is a great fortune.. what else can be more joyful than Rudram, the divine love expressed in its highest form... it is so wonderful that every Rishi, Swami, every Shankaracharya who lived on this planet, did it every monday.. even modern Swamis and spiritual leaders such as Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar do the Puja in whichever country they are in..

Every human being on this planet should have the fortune of meditating on Rudram.. or else I feel that they have missed something wonderful.. This Navratri I had the blessing of chanting it 10 days in a row at the Bangalore ashram in Gurudev's presence. Although I was sitting in the crowd and chanting, I was worshipping my Guru, my Shiva in the silent corner of my heart.

All glories to my Gurudev, the beauty in the beautiful.