“RUDRA” is one of the names of Lord Siva, the word overtly means anger or fury. However One can understand the subtle meaning of this word ‘Rudram’ by looking at its etymology. Rudram is derived from two words – ‘Rud’ and ‘Ra’. ‘Rud’ means dukham (sorrow) or paapam (sin, demerit). ‘Rud’ also means the cause of sorrows or sins. What is the cause of sorrow or sin? It is agnyanam (ignorance). ‘Ra’ means eliminator. So Rudram means eliminator of sorrows and sins. Lord Siva get the name Rudra because he removes sorrows and sins and also the cause of those which is ignorance. Sri Rudram talks about the glory of Siva.“ Sri Rudram is a vedic hymn describing Lord Siva’s several aspects, viz. His omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence etc.
Sri Rudram finds a place as the 4th Prashna in the 4th Khanda of Krishna Yajur Samhita. It is a Maha Mantra. It consists of 164 mantras. Their recital for a stipulated time yields good results and wards off all bad happenings. It is said that regular chanting of it leads to Jnana. The Kaivalyopanishad also echoes this fact. The Anusasanika Parva of Mahabharata mentions that Lord Krishna recited it several times and explained its great power and efficacy.
Rudram has got two portions called Namakkam and Chamakkam each containing eleven chapters or Anuvakams. Most of the chapters in the first portion end with the letter namaha or namo namaha while the ending letter of the second portion is “cha me”….
There are two important and well known Mantras in Sri Rudram. Panchakshari Mantra and Mrithunjaya Mantra.
Panchakshari Mantra: The essence of this mantra can be found in the middle portion – namasivaya, i.e., Siva. (In fact, Siva occurs not only in the middle of Panchakshari mantra but also in the middle of Sri Rudram itself). ‘Nama’ means salutations. ‘Siva’ means auspiciousness. Siva, the name is considered to be the most auspicious. The meaning of the mantra is – ‘The one who eliminates all inauspiciousness, to that auspicious one, I offer my prostrations’.
The Panchakshari mantra is also known as saranagati mantra. Saranagati means surrender. We surrender to the Lord. This means we surrender to the order of the law of the Lord – the universal law of dharma and the universal law of karma.
Mrithunjaya Mantra: The Mrithunjaya mantra is a beautiful, ‘all-comprehensive’ mantra chanting which we get all the four purushaartas. It is like obtaining four mangoes with one stone. (The four purushaartas or objectives of life are dharma, artha, kama and moksha meaning righteousness, wealth, desire and liberation). Three beautiful descriptions of Lord Siva are given in this mantra: Pushtivardhanam, Sugandhi and Thryambaka.
Pushtivardhanam: Pushti means material benefits. In the beginning stages of life, we all seek material benefits – artha and kama. First and foremost we want security in terms of food, clothing and shelter. Once these basic needs are taken care of, we want some comforts. . After artha we look forward to kama. Artha and kama together is called pushti. So Rudram says if you are interested in basic needs and material benefits, come to me.
Sugandhi: After artha and kama comes dharma. Sugandhi means fragrance. Lord Siva is Sugandhi, the fragrant one. Here fragrance does not mean physical fragrance like that of perfume. The real fragrance of a person is his character. While the fragrance of perfume spreads a few feet, fragrance in the form of noble character spreads all around.
Thryambaka: Thryambaka means one who has three eyes. We all know that Lord Siva is supposed to have three eyes. Various interpretations are given for this. When Lord Siva is considered in the vishwaroopa (universal) form, the three eyes are the sun, moon and fire. These three are chosen because they are the illuminators of the world. During daytime the sun is the illuminator, during nighttime the moon is the illuminator and in the olden days, during new moon days, fire was used for illumination in the night.
In the second interpretation, two eyes are material eyes through which we experience the material world. The third eye represents atma gnana (knowledge of the atma or self) through which we can ‘see’ the higher reality. A third interpretation says one becomes a gunathita by worshipping Lord Shiva.
Having understood the greateness of Rudram, lets now enjoy listening to this superb mantra. We express our sincere thanks to Ramesh Krishnakumar for his English translation of the mesmerising chanting rendered by Vedic Priests of India.
Here’s the text in Tamil.
Sri Rudram in Tamil (PDF)” This contains Rudram, Chamakam, Purusha Suktam, Narayana Suktam, Durga Suktam & Shanti mantra.
References for the text:
1. Lectures by Swami Paramarthananda.
2. ‘Efficacy of Chanting Sri Rudram’ by Swami Abhedananda.