Saturday, December 24, 2011


In ancient Vedic myth, Rudra ("howler") is the malignant god of storm and wind, and is also considered to have been the god of death. He is the personification of the uncultured nature, the symbol of unculturedness. Rudra fires arrows of sickness at gods, men and animals. He is the father of the Maruts, who are occasionally called Rudras.

His appearance and nature changes largely with the emerging of Hinduism. Rudra became a beneficent and beautiful god, the lord of the animals and the patron of hunters, and the god of auspiciousness. His name changed into Shiva, and is since then one of the most prominent deities of Hinduism.

From: Rudra
The origin of the name Rudra is uncertain; its etymologies are symbolic. Possibly, the meaning is "the red one." The god is called Rudra in the Puranas because he wept at birth, the word for weeping being the root rut-. In other versions the name may mean "Remover of Pain," for rut is the term given for three forms of pain (physical, emotional, and spiritual) found in the world. Rudra was eventually identified with Shiva, the god of the people conquered by the Aryans, and became so associated with the god that he was on of Shiva's many aspects.

In the Vedas Rudra is the god of storms, of howling winds, and is somewhat feared, being separated from the other gods in certain rituals and kept with malevolent spirits and deities. Rudra gives sinners the tortures of hell: He is death, the demon, the cause of their tears, the god that kills. He is also auspicious," the lord of songs, of sacrifices, the sweet-scented divine healer, the most generous of gods who bestows property and welfare, not just to humankind but also to horses, cows, and sheep, the mainstay of the early Aryan economy. As a warrior, he rides his chariot bearing a thunderbolt and shooting arrows from his formidable bow. A.G.H.

From: Rudra
Rudra is the god of cattle and wild animals. He sometimes appears as a man riding on a boar. However, as the lord of the cattle he is shown as a bull.
Rudra is also a healer. He is shown as being beautiful and bright as the sun.
Rudra sometimes acts as an archer who shoots arrows of death and disease at gods, men and cattle.

From: Rudra

The etymology of the word rudra is somewhat uncertain. The commentator Sāyaṇa suggests six possible derivations for the word. However, another reference states that Sayana suggested ten derivations.

The Sanskrit name Rudra is usually derived from the root rud- which means "to cry, howl."According to this etymology, the name Rudra has been translated as "the Roarer". An alternate etymology suggested by Prof. Pischel derives Rudra ("the Red, the Brilliant") from a lost root rud-, "to be red" or "to be ruddy", or according to Grassman, "to shine". Stella Kramrisch notes a different etymology connected with the adjectival form raudra, which means wild, of rudra nature, and translates the name Rudra as "the Wild One" or "the Fierce God". R. K. Sharma follows this alternate etymology and translates the name as "Terrible" in his glossary for the Shiva Sahasranama.

The adjective shiva in the sense of "propitious" or "kind" is applied to the name Rudra in Rig Veda 10.92.9. According to Gavin Flood, Shiva used as a name or title (Sanskrit śiva, "the kindly/auspicious one") occurs only in the late Vedic Katha Aranyaka Axel Michaels says Rudra was called Shiva for the first time in the Śvetāśvatara Upanishad.

Rudra is called "The Archer" (Sanskrit: Śarva) and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra.This name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, and R. K. Sharma notes that it is used as a name of Shiva often in later languages.The word is derived from the Sanskrit root śarv- which means "to injure" or "to kill" and Sharma uses that general sense in his interpretive translation of the name Śarva as "One who can kill the forces of darkness".The names Dhanvin ("Bowman") and Bāṇahasta ("Archer", literally "Armed with arrows in his hands") also refer to archery.

In other contexts the word rudra can simply mean "the number eleven".
The word "rudraksha" (Sanskrit: rudrākşa = rudra + akşa "eye"), or "eye of Rudra", is used as a name both for the berry of the Rudraksha tree, and a name for a string of the prayer beads made from those seeds.

The earliest mentions of Rudra occur in the Rig Veda, where three entire hymns are devoted to him. There are about seventy-five references to Rudra in the Rig Veda overall. In the Rig Veda Rudra's role as a frightening god is apparent in references to him as ghora ("terrible"), or simply as asau devam ("that god"). He is "fierce like a formidable wild beast" (RV 2.33.11). Chakravarti sums up the perception of Rudra by saying:
Rudra is thus regarded with a kind of cringing fear, as a deity whose wrath is to be deprecated and whose favor curried.
RV 1.114 is an appeal to Rudra for mercy, where he is referred to as "mighty Rudra, the god with braided hair."

In Rig Veda 7.46, Rudra is described as armed with a bow and fast-flying arrows. As quoted by R. G. Bhandarkar, the hymn says Rudra discharges "brilliant shafts which run about the heaven and the earth" (RV 7.46.3), which may be a reference to the destructive power of lightning.

Rudra was believed to cause disease, and when people recovered from them or were free of them, that too was attributed to the agency of Rudra. He is asked not to afflict children with disease (RV 7.46.2) and to keep villages free of illness (RV 1.114.1). He is said to have healing remedies (RV 1.43.4), as the best physician of physicians (RV 2.33.4), and as possessed of a thousand medicines (RV 7.46.3).

Rig Veda 7.40.5

Rudra is mentioned along with a litany of other deities in Rig Veda 7.40.5. Here is the reference to Rudra, whose name appears as one of many gods who are called upon:
This Varuṇa, the leader of the rite, and the royal Mitra and Aryaman, uphold my acts, and the divine unopposed Aditi, earnestly invoked: may they convey us safe beyond evil. I propitiate with oblations the ramifications (vayāḥ) of that divine attainable Viṣṇu, the showerer of benefits. Rudra, bestow upon us the magnificence of his nature. The Aśvins have come down to our dwelling abounding with (sacrificial) food.
One scholiast interpretation of the Sanskrit word vayāḥ, meaning "ramifications" or "branches", is that all other deities are, as it were branches of Vishnu, but Ralph T. H. Griffith cites Ludwig as saying "This... gives no satisfactory interpretation" and cites other views which suggest that the text is corrupt at that point.

From: Wikipedia

The Rudra of the Rig Veda is a militant god of storms and lightening and a provider of medicines. Though he did not enjoy the same status as Indra, Rudra definitely enjoyed his own importance in the Vedic pantheon because of his tempestuous nature, his association with storms and storm gods called Maruts and his ability to bring medicines to the people to prolong their lives.

He is a fierce looking god, well built and golden in color, with braided hair, of firm limbs, multiform, strong, tawny, who adorns himself with bright gold decorations. The strength of Godhead never departs from Rudra. Father of Maruts, the Rig Vedic hymns describe him eloquently: "Of your pure medicines ... those that are most wholesome and health bestowing, those which our father Manu hath selected, I crave from. Rudra for our gain and welfare."

He wields the thunder bolt, bow and arrow, and sends down streaks of lightening shaking the worlds, making people nervous with fear and trepidation and disturbing the cattle in the cow pens. Intelligent, and benevolent, he protects people from their enemies. We do not know whether the Rig Vedic Rudra was a precursor to the Rudra of later times. But the resemblance in some fundamental traits between the two and the appeal to both in prayers and supplications not to harm the cattle and the people with their anger, is too evident to be ignored.

The following hymn is one such example, which in many ways sounds like a verse from the Svetavatara Upanishad,

"O Rudra, harm not either great or small of us, harm not the growing boy, harm not the full-grown man. Slay not a sire among us, slay no mother here, and to our own dear bodies, Rudra, do not harm. Harm us not, Rudra, in our seed and progeny, harm us not in the living, nor in cows or steeds, Slay not our heroes in the fury of thy wrath. Bringing oblations evermore we call to thee."

Even as a herdsman I have brought thee hymns of praise: "O Father of the Maruts, give us happiness, Blessed is thy most favoring benevolence, so, verily, do we desire thy saving help."

Some times the hymns refer to not just one Rudra but a group of Rudras eleven in number. According to some this is a symbolic reference to the ten vital breaths and the mind or suggestive of his association with the Maruts.

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