By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Rudraprasna, RudrapraZna, Rudraprashna
The Rudrapraśna is the fifth praśna of the fourth kāṇḍa of the Taittirīya Samhitā or the Krsna Yajurveda. It is also known as the Rudra or the Rudrādhyāya or the Namaka. It has eleven anuvākas or long stanzas.
Before starting a Vedic sacrifice, a vedi or a platform of bricks had to be built. After keeping the last brick in place, it used to be bathed in milk. This process is terned as ‘abhiṣeka’. It is done with the recitation of mantras of this Rudrapraśna. This is a time-honoured tradition that the Rudra or Namaka and Camaka are to be chanted daily along with the Puruṣasukta.
Contents of Rudrapraśna
God Rudra, as his very name indicates, is a terrible deity. He is armed with a bow, arrows and a sword. If he is pacified with appropriate prayers, he will shower his mercy on the supplicant and fulfill his desires. This is the gist of the first anuvāka.
Anuvāka 2 - 9
The next eight anuvākas describe the various forms and aspects of Rudra along with an obeisance attached to each of the names. Hence the name Namaka. Some of these aspects are:
- Hiraṇyabāhu - golden-armed
- Babhluśa - seated on the bull Nandi
- Harikeśa - with dark hair
- Sthapati - master
- Niceru - one who moves constantly
- Aśvapati - leader of monks
- Gṛtsapati - leader of intelligent persons
- Bhava - origin of all beings
- Rudra - remover of all miseries
- Sarva - destroyer of sins
- Paśupati - lord of beings bound in sansāra
- Sahasrākṣa - one with a thousand eyes
- Mīḍhuṣṭama - giver of rains
- Sariivṛdhvan - glorious one
- Agriya - primeval being
- Āśu - all-pervading
- Slokya - established in Vedic mantras
- Dhṛṣṇu - adept in protecting
- Vāstavya - one who resides in wealth
- Soma - one who is with his consort Umā
- Tāmra - who is red like the rising sun
- Hantṛ - destroyer of enemies
- Tāra - one who helps the jīvas to transcend sansāra
- Saṅkara - producer of happiness
- Siva - the auspicious one
- Tirthya - purifier
- Kapardin - one with matted hair
The tenth anuvāka is a long prayer asking for the following boons:
- Freedom from misery and fear for all the members of the family and the livestock
- Life of happiness for all in this world and in the next
- Withdrawal of his fierce form and granting a vision of his benign form
- Urging one’s organ of speech to praise Rudra
The eleventh anuvāka describes the innumerable forms that Rudra takes and obeisance is offered.
Methods of Chanting Rudrapraśna
There are several methods of chanting the Rudrapraśna and Camaka ceremonially. One such method prescribed by the sage Sātātapa is as follows:
- Rudra: Chant the Namaka once, followed by the first anuvāka of Camaka. This is repeated a second time and so on, each time adding the next anuvāka of the camaka, the total chanting being eleven times. This is called a ‘Rudra’.
- Rudraikādaśini: If eleven persons chant the Rudra as stated above eleven times or one person recites it 121 times, it becomes ‘Rudraikādaśini’.
- Mahārudra: 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 ‘Mahārudra’.
- Atirudra: 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.
Generally, Mahārudra and Atirudra are performed to ward off calamities for the society or the country.
- Praśna means the section.
- Kāṇḍa means chapter.
- Taittirīya Samhitā 4.7
- Obeisance means namah.
- It refers to Rudra.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore