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Before beginning anuvaka 2 there is a tradition in southern India to recite a praise of salutation beginning with Namaste astu bhagavan to Lord Shiva in his various names and forms listed below:


visveshvarAya  : to the Lord of the universe

mahAdevAya : to the The great one among the gods

tryambakAya: to Him with three eyes – Sun, Moon and the third eyetripurAntakAya : to the Lord whose third eye burnt three Asuras; Allegorically the spiritual knowledge burning the three states

trikAgnikAlAya : to the Sandhyakala when the three sacred fires are lit

trikAlAgnikAlAya (alternate version): to the final pralaya time when the three fires of                destruction burn and consume the whole universe

kAlAgnirudrAya:  to Rudra in his duty of dissolution

nIlakaNThAya : to  the one who has a blue throat

mRRityunjayAya : to Him who conquered Yama (cf. the story of Markandeya)

sarveshvarAya : Lord of everything, animate and inanimate

sadashivAya : to the always auspicious One

shriman mahAdevAya : to the glorious and great God (A reiteration )


The three anuvakas 2,3, and 4 constitute the double namah portion of Rudram. The brahmana part of the veda says that the double namah yajus are addressed to the ghora form of Rudra  and the single namah portion to the shanta svarupa of Rudra, viz., Shiva.  By the way, the namaH is not mere bodily genuflexion but is really a sharaNAgati, utter surrender of oneself, taking refuge in God, through body, mind and soul        The first anuvaka was praying to the Lord to come out of his terrific form, which, to us, appears to hinder the descent of His Grace but really His ferociousness is only towards our sins and our sinning habits. Now the next three anuvakas get into the real style of Rudram that keeps on listing the multifarious epithets describing His immanence that shines in every name and form whether  human or  non-human, whether animate or inanimate, whether of the good or of the bad, whether of the ugly or of the lovely, whether of the gruesome or of the enchanting. The advaita declaration  of the Upanishads that everything is nothing but the manifestation of the mighty Absolute, is the main  current  (not only under-current) in the almost unending sequence of names and manifestations of Rudra-Shiva which is what reverberates  in the recitation of Rudram. The meanings that the commentators have unearthed  in the words of this vedic soliloquy reach heights  of profundity, religious and spiritual.  Come ye all, enjoy it all along with me and let us hope that some of it will sink into our system and clear part of the  rubbish within.



13 mantras of # 2 and  first 8 mantras of # 3 are of one kind.  They depict the Lordship of Rudra-Shiva or sarveshvaratvaM. They address the Lord in the third person. The under-current of meaning is: He is the Self of all. In whatever shapes, forms men exist, He too exists in that shape, form


  1. Namo hiraNyabAhave senAnye dishAmca pataye namah


Salutation to the Lord, who has hands that are  decorated with golden ornaments (or with golden arms), who leads the armies, and who is the Lord of  all the directions. The first five mantras here refer to five different colors:golden; green; red & yellow, tawny-red; and black.  These are the colours   of the Pancha-brahma svarupa of Rudra-Shiva,sadyojAta, vAmadeva, aghora, tatpurushha and IshAna Recall from Maha-nArAyaNopanishad:

namo hiraNyabAhave hiraNyavarNAya hiraNyarUpAya hiraNyapataye. ambikApataye umApataye pashupataye namo namaH


2. Namo vRRikshebhyo harikeshabhyah pashUnAm pataye namaH


Salutation to the Lord, who is in the form of trees  that have fresh green leaves and who is the Lord of all beings.vRRiksha here is the samsara tree mentioned in the Gita and Katha U. The green leaves are the karmas of satvic, rajasa and tamasa  (tranquil, passionate and dull karmas),  Rudra binds all beings by the ropes of this samsara;  so they are the pashus and He is the pashupati


3. namaH saspinjarAya tvishImate pathInAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who has the mixed color of red and yellow, (saspinjarAya) like tender grass, who is brilliant with Jnana and who is the Lord of all  Vedic and Tantric paths. The Vedic paths  are of two kinds – Dakshina and Uttara. The first one  is of those who perform only ishtApoortha rituals; acc to the vedas, they go to svargaloka and come back to the earth after their merit is exhausted. The uttaramarga is that prescribed as jnAna marga by B.G. & U., they go to Brahma loka and never return to the mortal world.  Third path which also has the sanction of the vedas is the tantric path. It is for those who do not have rights to study the vedas. For all the three paths Lord Shiva is the pati.

4. Namo babhlushhAya vivyAdhine.annAnAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who is seated on a bull, who  severely afflicts the wrong doers (through their food itself) and who is the Lord of all foods. Here the bull is mentioned because vrishhabha stands for dharma. For those who follow the principles of dharma, dharma itself pours (varshati). µ dharma is known as vRRishhabha. Cf. vRRishhAhI vRRishhabho vishhNuH. Bablusha has the other meaning , namely the tawny-red colour

5. Namo harikeshAyopavItine pushhTAnAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who has black hair (ever young), who has the  holy thread across (in accordance with dharma-shastras) and who is the Lord of those who are well nourished (who are filled with knowledge, wealth,etc.)

6. Namo bhavasya hetyai jagatAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who is the weapon of destruction for the life of  limitation (of creation) and who is the Lord of the universe. Bhavasya hetiH means  the keen axe which destroys this samsAra. This mantra is one of the most important mantras of Sri Rudram, because it will lead to moksha by a ceaseless repetition of this mantra. Note the distinction between pashUnAM pataye (2nd mantra) and jagatAM pataye.  Both appear to mean the same thing, but the former indicates bondage (samsara) and the latter indicates Release (moksha)

7. Namo rudrAyAtatAvine kshhetrANAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who liquidates the sorrow of samsara,  who protects the world with a bow readily strung, and who is the Lord of all  bodies (of all holy places). Kshetra has two meanings:  body  (B.G. Ch.13); holy place अत्र हि  (In this holy place like Kashi) जन्तोः प्राणेषु उत्क्रममाणेषु रुद्रस्तारकं ब्रह्म व्याचष्टे येन असौ अमृतो भूत्वा मोक्षी भवति  (Jabala Upanishad)

8. namassUtAyAhantyAya  vanAnAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who drives the chariot called the  universe, who being of the form of Atmajyoti (Light of Self) cannot be destroyed by anyone and who is the Lord of all forests.

Cf. Ishvaras-sarvabhUtAnAM   B.G. ch.18. AhantyAya: he who destroys the worlds; ahantyAya :  He who is not subject to destruction  (hantum ashakyaH); He who regards the world as ‘I am all this’.  Also, He who is the indestructible effulgent Self. He is the ego in all : because of which Saint Manikkavasagar says

யான்எனதுஎன்று அவரவரைக்கூத்தாட்டுவானாகி நின்றாயை என்சொல்லிவாழ்த்துவனே

9. Namo rohitAya sthapataye vRRikshhANAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who is of red color, who  remaining everywhere is the protector of everything and who is the Lord of all trees.Sthapataye :Lord; confectioner, architect, builder of houses; he who stands in the trees and protects them

10. Namo mantriNe vANijAya kakshhANAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the Lord of all secrets (the Upanishads as well as seven crore mahamantras), who is revealed  by the words of the Vedas (knower of dealings in all regions, like a trader) and who is the Lord of inaccessible places (like mountains and rivers and forests)

11. Namo bhuvantaye vArivaskRRitAyaushhadhInAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who causes (nourishes) the growth of the  earth and its inhabitants, who abides in the devotees and blesses them and who is the Lord of all herbs. vArivaskRRitAya : Maker or Creator of riches; A lover of devotees who do great service (varivaha) to Him; He who lives in the water as Vishnu or Varuna.

12. Nama ucchairghoshhAyAkrandayate pattInAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who makes loud noise in war etc.,  who makes the enemies weep and who is the Lord of the soldiers.

13. namaH kRRitsnavItAya dhAvate sattvanAM pataye namaH


Salutation to the one who pervades everything, (who surrounds his enemies completely) who is  on the run to protect his devotees and who is the protector of all good people who have taken refuge under Him



The 3rd and 4th anuvAkas usually possess a problem  to new readers. Rudram does not hesitate to identify the Lord also as the Prince of cheats, gamblers, thiefs and assassins.We cannot forget the teaching of the U. Brahman has entered into all Jivas by means of name and form. Since He is the Self of all, whatever the direct meaning of words may be the lakshyArtha is Isvara, the divine form.atharva veda, brahmasUkta, has the  straight-forward declaration brahma dAshA, brahma dAsA brahmaiveme kitavAH’ meaning ‘The fishermen are brahman; the slaves are brahman and even the gamblers are brahman’.All the distinctions of thief, cheat and murderer.are on the lower vyAvahaarika level. We have to rise to the higher spiritual level. Katha U.: anyatra dharmAt anyatra adharmAt.  Only when we comprehend the whole of jagat as a manifestation of God and of our own Self, nothing in this world will be repulsive – tato na vijugupsute  (I.U)

  1. namaH sahamAnAya nivyAdhina AvyAdhinInAM pataye namaH


NamaH to Him who can not only withstand the shock of the onset of His enemies, but overpower them. He who can effortlessly pierce His enemies; the Lord of those who can fight on all sides, NamaH to Him.

2. Namah kakubhaya nishangine stenanam pataye namaH

NamaH to Him who stands prominent, the wielder of the sword; to the prince of thieves,NamaH.


3. Namo nishangina ishudhimate taskaranam patayou namo |


NamaH to Him who holds a dart in His hand to fit in His bow, who has a quiver in His back; to the Lord of those who thieve openly, NamaH.

4. Namo vanchate pari vanchate stayunam pataye namo |


NamaH to Him who is an occasional cheater and to the one  who cheats systematically; to the chief of those who pretend to be an acquaintance but steals and misappropriates articles, NamaH.

5. Namo nicherave paricharayaranyanam pataye namo |

NamaH to Him who moves about guardedly ever with intention to steal; to Him who moves amidst crowds and thronged places for pick-pocketing; to the Lord of forest thieves,NamaH.

6. Namah shrukavibhyo jigham sadbhyo mushnatam pataye namo |


NamaH to Him who is in the form of those who protect themselves in armor, who wantto kill others; to the Lord of those who want to steal crops and wealth, NamaH.

7. Namo simadbhyo naktam charadbhyah prakruntanam pataye namo ||

NamaH to Him who is in the form of swordsmen who wander about at night; to the Lordof those who kill and seize others possessions, NamaH.

8. Nama ushnishine giricharaya kuluncha nam pataye namo |


NamaH to Him who wears a turban, who wanders about the mountains; to the leader of the landlords, NamaH.


So far the address was to the Rudras in the third person. There is a change in the style and topic from here on.   Hereafter they are addressed directly in the second person:  “vo namaH”. Instead of considering Rudra as just the foremost of the Rudras (jagadishvara) hereafter the thought is about Rudra as sarvAtmaka , the Self in all beings. And we begin with very ordinary people  in whom we do not expect to see any 'Ishvaratva'. 


9. Nama ishumadbhyo dhanvavibhyascha vo namo |


NamaH to you who bear the arrows, who carry bows;  – of countless Rudras  ever engaged in thir divine work of judging men and meting out reward and punishment according to their actions.

Nos. 9, 10, and 11 are describing the activities of Rudras, seen by a spiritual vision.

10. Nama Atanvanebhyah pratidadhane bhyascha vo namo|

NamaH to you who string your bows and you who fit arrows in them; 

11. Nama Ayacchadbhya visrujad bhyascha vo namo|

NamaH to you who pull the bowstrings and let fly the shafts;

12. Namo syadbhyo vidhyad bhyascha vo namo ||

NamaH to you who loosen the arrows (asyadbhyaH) and pierce the persons you aim at; to you NamaH


So far the warrior aspect of the Rudras was being talked about in this anuvaka.  In the rest of the anuvaka the human aspect of men engaged in their daily tasks is taken up.

13. Nama Asinebhyash shayane bhyascha vo namo |

NamaH to you Rudras who are seated and who are reclining, NamaH.

14. Namah svapadbhyo jagrad bhyascha vo namo |

NamaH To you Rudras who are in the form of those who are asleep and awake, NamaH.

15. Nama stishthadbhyo dhavad bhyascha vo namo |

To you Rudras who are in the form of those who stand and those who run, NamaH.

16. Namah sabhabhyas sabhapati bhyascha vo namo|

To you Rudras who are in the form of those who sit as members of assemblies and those who preside over them, NamaH.

NOTE BY VK:  I use this No.16 as an introductory prostration every time  I address an audience on spiritual or religious matters.

17. Namo ashvebhyo svapati bhyascha vo namah ||

To you Rudras who are in the form of horses and those who command them, NamaH.


1 & 2: Nama avyadhinibhyo vividhyanti bhyascha vo namo

nama uganabhya strumhati bhyascha vo namo 


NamaH to you who can hit and pierce from all sides, and you who can pierce in diverseand manifold ways. NamaH to you who are in the form of the superior female Gods and the fierce vengeful and powerful Goddesses.

3 & 4.Namo grutsebhyo gratsapati bhyascha vo namo

namo vratebhyo vrata pati bhyascha vo namo 


NamaH to you the covetous and greedy, and the leaders of such men. NamaH to you of diverse crowds and races, and the leaders of them.

5 & 6. Namo ganebhyo Ganapati bhyascha vo namo

namo virupebhyo vishvarupe bhyascha vo namo


NamaH to you Ganas and their lords. NamaH to you who assume grotesque and monstrous forms and other diverse shapes.

7 & 8. Namo mahadbhyah kshullake bhyascha vo namo 

Namo rathibhyo .arathe bhyascha vo namah


NamaH to you the great ones and the small ones. ​namaH to you who ride in chariots and you who ride on no conveyance, but walk on foot. NamaH to you who are in the form of chariots and those who own them

9 & 10. Namas senabhya senani bhyascha vo namo 

namah kshattrubhya sangrahitru bhyascha vo namah

. NamaH to you in the form of armies and the leaders of such armies. NamaH to you who are in the form of those who teach the chariot driving to others, and those who drive the vehicles themselves.

11 & 12Nama stakshabhyo ratha karebhyascha vo namo 

Namah kulalebhyah karmare bhyascha vo namah

NamaH to you who are in the form of carpenters and fashioners of chariots. NamaH to you who are in the form of those who mold clay and make mud vessels, and artisans working in the metals.

13 & 14. Namah punjishtebhyo nishade bhyascha vo namo 

Nama ishukrudbhyo dhanva krud bhyascha vo namah

NamaH to you who are in the form of fowlers who net flocks of birds and fishermen who net shoals of fish. NamaH to you who are in the form of makers of arrows and of bows.

15 & 16. Namo mrugayubhyah sva ni bhyascha vo namo 

Namah svabhyah svapati bhyascha vo namah

NamaH to you who are in the form of hunters and the  leaders of hounds. NamaH to you who are in the form of dogs and the owners or lords of such dogs

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