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Rudraprashna – Importance Of Chanting Rudra Prashna

The Rudraprashna, positioned as the fifth section in the fourth chapter of the Taittiriya Samhita within the Krishna Yajurveda, is also referred to as Rudra, Rudradhyaya, or Namaka. Comprising eleven anuvakas or extended stanzas, Rudra Prashna delves into the formidable deity Rudra, armed with a bow, arrows, and a sword.

The first anuvaka emphasizes that by appeasing the ferocious Rudra through appropriate prayers, one may receive his benevolence and have desires fulfilled.

Subsequently, the following eight anuvakas (2 to 9) elucidate the diverse forms and attributes of Rudra, each accompanied by a reverent obeisance (namah). This gives rise to the appellation Namaka. Various aspects include - 

  • Hiranya Bahu (golden-armed); 
  • Bablusha (seated on the bull Nandi); 
  • Harikesha (with dark hair); 
  • Sthapati (master); 
  • Niceru (one who moves constantly); 
  • Ashvapati (leader of monks); 
  • Gritsapati (leader of intelligent persons); 
  • Bhava (origin of all beings); 
  • Rudra (remover of all miseries); 
  • Sharva (destroyer of sins); 
  • Pashupati (lord of beings bound in samsara),
  • Sahasraksha (one with a thousand eyes); 
  • Midhushtama (giver of rains); 
  • Samvridhvan (glorious one); 
  • Agriya (primeval being); 
  • Ashu (all-pervading); 
  • Shlokya (established in Vedic mantras); 
  • Dhrishnu (adept in protecting); 
  • Vastavya (one who resides in wealth); 
  • Soma (one who is with his consort Uma); 
  • Tamra (who is red like the rising sun); 
  • Hantri (destroyer of enemies); 
  • Tara (one who helps the jivas to transcend samsara); 
  • Shambhu, Shankara (producer of happiness); 
  • Shiva (the auspicious one); Tirthya (purifier); Kapardin (one with matted hair) among others.

The tenth anuvaka is a protracted prayer seeking blessings such as freedom from misery and fear, happiness for all beings in this world and the next, and a transition from Rudra's fierce form to a vision of his benign form. It also urges the speaker's organ of speech to extol Rudra.

The eleventh and final anuvaka portrays the countless forms assumed by Rudra, with accompanying obeisance. Ritualistically, before initiating a Vedic sacrifice, a vedi or brick platform would be constructed, culminating with an 'abhisheka' or milk bath of the last brick using the mantras from the Rudra Prashna.

Traditionally, the Rudra or Namaka, along with the Camaka (Taittiriya Samhita 4.7), is recommended for daily chanting, often accompanied by the Purusha Sukta. There are several methods of chanting the Rudraprashna (and Camaka) ceremonially. One such method prescribed by the Sage Shatatapa is as follows:

  1. Rudra: Chant the Namaka (Rudra) once, followed by the first anuvaka of Camaka. This is repeated a second time and so on, each time adding the next anuvaka of the camaka, the total chanting being eleven times. This is called a ‘Rudra’.
  2. Rudraikadashini: If eleven persons chant the Rudra (as stated above) eleven times or one person recites it 121 times, it becomes ‘Rudraikadashini’.
  3. Maharudram: This is achieved if eleven persons recite the Rudra eleven times a day for eleven days. Alternatively, if 121 persons chant it eleven times or 1331 persons chant it once, in a day, it becomes ‘Maharudra’.
  4. Atirudram: If eleven persons chant it 11 times per day for 121 days, it becomes ‘Atirudra’. The same will be the result if 1331 persons chant it eleven times in a day (just for one day), or, 114,641 persons recite it once, in a day. 

Maharudra and Atirudram are chanted to avert societal or national calamities.