top of page


Among all Vedic Hymns Sri Rudra Prasna occupies the  pride of place. With some  modifications. It also finds a place in Shukla Yajurveda. It is also called Rudra namakaM; it is traditionally  recited along with another chapter of Krishna Yajurveda, called CamakaM . Namakam and Camakam are each  divided into 11  Anuvakas or sections. Apart from its daily recital by the orthodox Hindus  during Abhishek rituals, it  is invariably chanted in most of the poojas and  havans (=homams) by Vedic Pundits. To hear it chanted in chorus in the prescribed manner of intonation  (swaras) is a unique soul stirring and elevating experience. Sri Rudra Prasna is a hymn in praise of and prayer to Lord Siva and  its chanting is the oldest with the names and attributes of Lord Siva  listed.  The word Rudra means the one who melts down all sorrow. रुदं+ द्रावयतीति = रुद्रः

Through the chanting of Sri  Rudra Prasna, Lord Siva’s various characteristics and aspects are invoked and  worshipped. This chanting is considered to be of great material and spiritual benefit to the devotees, highly efficacious in warding off evils and in conferring various  benefits on its votaries. Three commentators- Sayana, Bhattabhaskara and Abhinavasankara have written vyAkhyanas (= Meanings explained).   Rudra to whom these prayers are addressed is not a sectarian deity, but the Supreme Being who is omnipresent and manifests Himself in myriad forms for the sake of the diverse spiritual aspirants. May  one meditate upon Lord Siva, who has fixed the radiant arrow that is pulled up  to the ear on the shining bow, who has a beautiful form, who has a warrior-like  body, who is young and who is united with Goddess Parvati.

Sri Rudra-prashna (Rudram chapter) occurs in the middle of Krishna Yajurveda in its 4th Kanda (out of 7 Kandas).  It is a magnificent prayer of praise to Lord Shiva. It is the holy of holies of all Vedic hymns.  In all Pujas and Havans aimed at propitiating Lord Shiva  and also in birthday celebrations in households, it is invariably recited, very often, more than once, -- to be precise,  11 ,or 121  or even 1331 times --  as the occasion demands and permits. In public functions where the welfare of the whole community is the objective, it is traditional to get its recitation done by a whole team of pundits for 14641 times counting according to the multiplicity of pundits reciting it.  It consists of 11 anuvakas (=sections or paragraphs).  When recited in chorus by the pundits it creates an unforgettable  stirring and elevating spiritual experience.  The benefits of such recitals are innumerable - from the warding off of all evils, from curing of diseases, showering pleasant benefits to the environment and the whole world, - in fact, whatever  you may want to happen for you personally and for the community in general.  In this first talk on the youtube under the auspices of the Advaita Academy the first anuvaka of Rudra-prashna is taken and meanings are explained,  whatever is  possible in one hour.  This is only an opening for you  of  the ocean of vedic bliss contained  in the hymn.  It is up to you to learn the proper recital of Rudram from knowledgeable pundits  and then soar higher to learn also its full meaning and vedantic significance. 


In the first anuvaka there are 15 mantras, each mantra being made up of two sentences;  the first mantra is:


namaste rudra manyava utota ishave namaH /

namaste astu dhanvane bAhubhyAmuta te namaH //


Meaning: .Oh! Rudra Deva! My salutations to your anger and also to your arrows. My salutations to your bow and to your two hands holding the bow and the arrow.



2. yAta ishus-shivatama shivam babhUva te dhanuH /

shivA sharavyA yA  tava tayA no rudra mRRiDaya //


Oh! Rudra! By favour of your arrow, bow, and quiver (sharavyA) , which have shed their anger and turned auspicious, please render us happy. They have become quietened.. With this quietened bow, arrow and quiver make  us happy.


3. yA te rudra shivA tanUr-aghorA.apApakAshinI /

tayAnastanuvA shantamayA girishantAbhicAkashIhi //

 Lord Rudra, you who dwell on Mount Kailas and who confer happiness, by that form of yours which is not terrible, which will not injure us, and which is highly auspicious, behold and illuminate us.

Ghora : A form which terrifies without reason;

गिरौ = कैलासे नित्याविर्भूतो यः प्राणिभ्यः शं तनोति स गिरिशन्तः

One who resides in Kailasa always and grants joys to all creatures.

गिरौ- वेदे तिष्ठन्नर्थरूपेण शं तनोति

One who resides in Vedas as their meaning and grants joys to all.

गिरौ- प्रणवे तिष्ठन् ध्येयरूपेण निरतिशयब्रह्मानन्दलक्षणं शं तनोति

In the Jabala U. अथ हैनं ब्रह्मचारिण ऊचुः किं जप्येन अमृतत्वं ब्रूहीति

स् होवाच याज्ञवल्क्यः शतरुद्रीयेण इत्येतान्येव ह वा अमृतस्य नामानि

एतैर्ह वा अमृतो भवतीति एवमेवैतत् याज्ञवल्क्यः

So here girishanta means  He who has declared through the Jabala.U. that He will confer moksha on those who repeat the names in the RudraM. One who is in Pranava (Omkara) as the one to be meditated upon and grants the matchless bliss of Brahmananda . Girishanta occurs more than once in RudraM

apaapakaasini- Here the term ‘apaapa’ indicates BrahmAtmatatvajnAna, which is opposed to sin. As Upanishad states that on rising of AtmajnAna, all sins are destroyed, it follows that AtmajnAna is the enemy of sins. The form which grants or lights up that AtmatatvajnAna is referred as ‘apaapakaasini’ here.

4. yAmishhuM girishanta haste bibharshhyastave /

shivAM giritra tAM kuru mA higumsIH purushhaM jagat //


My Lord who dwells on Mount Kailas and confers gladness to all! You, who fulfills your vow of protecting all who serve you and take refuge in you; that arrow of yours which you hold (bibharshi) ready to let fly (astave), withhold it and make it tranquil and auspicious. Do not hurt us or other beings of the world


5. shivena vacasA tvA girishAcchhAvadAmasi /

yathA naH  sarvamijjagadayakshmaguM sumanA asat //


Lord of Mount Kailash of the Vedas! We pray to attain (acchha) you by pure and auspicious words. We ask that for all our days, this entire world will be free from ills, diseases  and discord, and that we may live in amity and concord.


Recall the use of the word naH (ours, to us)  in the GAyatri also.

6. adhyavocadadhivaktA prathamo daivyo bhishhak /

ahIgumshca sarvAn jambhayan sarvAshca yAtudhAnyaH //


Let Him intercede  (adhyavocat) on my behalf and speak in my favor, even Rudra, that foremost one, held high in honor by the gods, the physician. Let him annihilate  (jambhayan) the enemies of mine like scorpions, snakes, and tigers, and the unseen enemies like the Rakshasas, spirits and demons.

adhivaktA : one who readily speaks (almost as a habit)on behalf of His devotees;  also means persuasive speaker . In V.R. Rama praises the sweet and persuasive powers of speech of Hanuman. Vishnu Sahasranamam  also has the term bheshhajaM bhishhaK. May  that Lord - who stands by his devotees, who is the foremost, who dwells as the  inner self of devas, who removes the disease of samsara and who  destroys all snakes etc. that harm from the front and all spirits etc., that  harm from behind - espouse my cause.

Prathamo daivyaH can also mean the foremost among the gods.


This mantra is a protection from all difficulties, according to Bodhayana. Pujya Sri Dayananda Saraswati Swamiji says  it is a like a bullet-proof coat that protects you from bullets!


7.  asau yas tAmro aruNa utababrussumangalaH /

Ye ce agum rudra abhito dikshu sritAssahasra so vaishAgum head Imahe //


This Sun who is copper-red (tAmraH) when he arises,  then rosy (aruNaH)  then golden-yellow (babruH) this highly auspicious and beneficent one is truly Rudra. These other Rudras who are quartered round about in all directions of this earth, may I ward off (avemahe) their anger or keenness (eshhAM heDaH) by my praise.


The  same Lord who is praised in the previous Mantras is that Sun in front of us  with reddish hue (sun rise), light red (thereafter) and then golden hue. We  pacify the anger of thousands of Rudras who have resorted to the quarters on  all sides of this earth. Recall Dakshinamurti ashtakam, where it says the Lord has eight forms, one of which is the Sun:

भूरम्भांस्यनलोऽनिलोम्बरमहर्नाथो हिमांशुः पुमान्

इत्याभाति चराचरात्मकमिदं यस्यैव मूर्त्यष्टकं

sUrya Atma jagataH tastushhashca: the Sun is the Self of the world, movable and immovable.

dhyeyaH sadA savtRmaNDalamadhyaartI nArAyaNassarasijAsana sannivishhTaH . He is to be propitiated as residing in the orbit-region of the Sun as Sri Narayana on the Kotus leaf-seat.

Since Rudra is the Sun, the Rudras are the Sun’s rays

Though Siva may not be visualised by all people, He with His great passion is available as the Sun in the sky for all to see.  This is the saulabhya aspect of the Lord

8.asau yo.avasarpati nIlagrIvo vilohitaH / utainaM gopA adRRishann-

adRRishannudahAryaH / utainaM vishvA  bhUtAni sa dRRishhTo mRRidayAti naH //

The black-throated Rudra who has assumed the form of the sun that glows red (vilohitaH) when rising. Him the cowherds, the women carrying water, and all the creatures behold. He, who is seen by all, let Him send happiness to us.

उदहार्यः- Even innocent women, who fetch water


9. namo astu nIlagrIvAya sahasrAkshhAya mIDushhe /

atho ye asya satvAno.ahaM tebhyo.akarannamaH //


Let my salutations be to the blue-throated one, who has a thousand eyes. I also bow to his followers.

Reference to nIlagrIva will remind us of the story of Siva, out of compassion for the whole world residing in his stomach, That single deed is enough to proclaim His Mercy.

नालं वा परमोपकारमिदं त्वेकं पशूनां पते

पश्यन् कुक्षिगतान् चराचरगणान् बाह्यस्थितान् रक्षितुम्।

सर्वामर्त्यपलायनौषधमतिज्वालाकरं भीकरं

निक्षिप्तं गरळं गले न गिलितं नोद्गीर्णमेव त्वया॥ (Shivananda-lahari #31)

Meaning: O Lord of souls! Is not this single supreme deed of help enough (to proclaim they Mercy)!With a view to protect the beings, moving and non-moving,residing inside your stomach, as well as outside, You placed in your throat  the flaming and fearful poison that was making the gods run for life! The poison was neither taken in nor thrown out!


10. pramuncha dhanvanastvamubhayor-aartni-yorjyAM /

yAshca te hasta ishhavaH parA tA bhagavo vapa //

O Lord! May you release the string at both ends of the bow! May you also keep the arrows in your hand out of sight.

11. avatatya dhanustvam sahasrAkshha shateshhudhe /

nishIrya shalyAnAM mukhA shivo nassumanA bhava //

You having a thousand eyes, and bearing a hundred quivers, after loosening your bow, kindly blunt the edges of your shafts. Assume your peaceful and auspicious Siva form and become well-intentioned towards us.

अवतत्य-  with untied bow-string,   शल्यानां-  of arrows,   मुखा-  edges,   निशीर्य-  blunting, 

12.vijyaM dhanuH kapardino vishalyo bANavAguM uta /

aneshannasyeshhava Abhurasya mishhangadhiH //

 Let the bow of Kapardin, Rudra of the matted locks, be without its string (विज्यं) Let there be no arrows (  विशल्यः- ) in His quiver( बाणवान् ). Let His arrows lose their capacity to strike and pierce  (अनेशन्). Let His scabbard  ( निषङ्गधिः- )   lose its power (आभुः).


13. yAte hetirmIDushhTama haste babhUva te dhanuH /

tayAsmAn vishvatastvamayakshhmayA  paribbuja //


You, Oh showerer of blessings, with your weapons and the bow in Your hand, completely protect us.

मीढुष्टम-  One who grants desires of devotees!   

या   हेतिः-  the weapons like sword which exist,    

ते हस्ते-   धनुः-  बभूव-  अयक्ष्मया-  तया-   with those weapons and bow,  

causing disease-free state of devotees,   

त्वम्-    अस्मान्-    विश्वतः- from all types of dangers,      

परिब्भुज- may protect always in all respects.

14. namaste astvaayudhaaya anAtatAya dhRRishhNave /

ubhAbhyAmuta te namo bAhubhyAM tava dhanvane //


Let there be salutations to your sturdy and potent weapons, and also to both your hands and your bow.

आयुधाय   unto thy weapon

अनातताय  inoffensive or not intended to hurt

धृष्णवे sturdy and potent

Until now there was fear from Rudra and His weapons

After all the prayer and supplication the fear is removed

The rik exudes the relief


15. pari te dhanvano hetirasmAnvRRiNaktu vishvataH /

atho ya ishhudhistavAreasmannidhehi tam //

 Let the arrow of Your bow spare us in all ways. And place your quiver of arrows far away from us.


ते-     धन्वनः   हेतिः-  weapon of arrow of the bow,   अस्मान्-  us,  परिवृणक्तु-ignore, i.e. protect by not coming near us.   अथो- Further,  ,       निधेहि- place  your,   य: इषुधिः- the quiver, which is there,   तम्-  that,     अस्मत्   आरे- in the group of our enemies, i.e. in the inimical heap of  our sins, or at a long distance

In these mantras, prostration and prayer are occurring alternately. Having prostrated through the previous mantra, the Rishi prays now: “Please do not use your arrows against us and protect us.In case there are many sins with us, hindering your protection, kindly place your weapons in that heap of sins and destroy  them Aare’ means the group of enemies. As sin is our worst enemy, ‘Aare’ may also  mean heap of sins. The meaning of group of other enemies would also be appropriate. If we take ‘Aare’ as an indeclinable particle of Samskrit grammar, we can also interpret as ‘please keep your weapons not near us, but at a very long distance from us.’

                                                                  GO TO 28.5.2

bottom of page