Ati Rudra Yajnam at Poconos , PA

V. Sadagopan 75041.3037 at CompuServe.COM
Mon Jun 2 20:48:57 CDT 1997

Dear VedAbhimAnis :

I am delighted to read the posting of Sri Vidyasankar
on the plans for the above special Yajnam . The initative
to conduct an Yajnam of this magnitude with strict observance
of the rules for such YajnAs is a very welcome  and rare event .
It is a great sight to see the conductance of Athirudra Yajnam
at Trisoor in the famous temple for Lord Siva there during
MahA Sivarathri night ..

Sri Rudram is the holiest of all prayers addressed to Lord Siva .
It is found in the middle of Yajur Veda and provides the home for
the sacred manthram for Lord Siva known as PanchAkshari .

Sri Rudram has  been described as " YajushAm Saaram " by
Vedic Scholars. It has 169 manthrAs organized in 11 anuvAkams
or chapters. Sri Rudram is also known as RudrOpanishad and
Satha Rudreeyam . The latter name is associated with the fact
that the UpAsana Murthy of Sri Rudram is praised in all the 101
branches (SaakAs ) of Yajur VedAs as inferred fromthe comments of
Sri Bhatta BhAskarA , a celebrated commentator of Sri Rudram .

Besides Sri Bhatta BhAskarA , Sri SayanA , Sri Abhinava Sankara
and most recently , Brahma Sri Mutthu KrishNa SaastrigaL have
written commentaries on Sri Rudram . Sri SaastrigaL's commentary
is in Tamil and was written in 1956 as a Hitha BhAshiNi release .
Sri sayanA's commentary dates back to the era of Vijaya nagara empire.
The Abhinava Sankara's Bhashyam includes the listings of appropriate
Rishis , Chandas (metres) and DevathAs (Godheads ) for each of the 169
manthrAs of Sri Rudram .

Back in 1991 , I wrote an English commentary on Sri Rudram for the benefit
of American residents of Indian Origin , who worship Lord SivA at the many
temples and in their homes across the landscape of this continent.
This monograph is a summary of these three commentaries . I have given
this monograph as my contribution to Sri T.R.Ramachandran , the President
of the Sringeri VidhyA Bharathi Foundation headquartered in Piscataway , NJ.
I have requested him to feel free to reproduce and distribute the copies
of this monograph to raise some funds for SambhAvanAs for the Rthviks.

As a Vedic Text , Sri Rudram is a delight to listen to . The ganam
rendering of the PanchAkshari section is thrilling to listen to .
The long lasting benefits of recitation of Sri Rudram has been
elaborated in religious texts such as MahArNavam , Sootha SamhithA ,
Kurma and Linga PurANAs ,smrithis such as
Adhri , Yajnavalkya and sathapapatha , IthihAsam such as MahA Bharatham .

Sri Rudra PaarayaNam is recommended particularly for Pradhosham
days and MahA SivarAthri night . Daily PaarAyaNam is recommended for
those , who wish to get Brahma JnAnam  by Sootha samhithai .

Individual manthrAs have particular significance . For Instance, the sixth
manthram is designated as a kavacham for Sri Rudram by BhodhAyana
Maharishi and the DhyAna Slokam corrsponding to this manthram
is an image of great beauty . The 17 manthrAs of the third anuvAkam
are treated as one unitary manthram and they share the same Rishi,
Devas and Chandas . The chandas is Bruhathi ; ther Rishi and DevathA
is Parameswaran Himself. The 8 slokams constituting the DhyAnam
for the third anuvAkam is a splendid treat to worshippers of Sri Rudran .
Here , He is visualized as Kiratha Bhairavan moving about the forest
in the garb of  a handsome hunter accompanied by His consort Bhairavi .
The summary of this splendid  word picture of Kiratha  Bhairavan
for DhyAnam is as follows :

He is brimming with youthful strength and beauty and he looks like a forest

He looks in his beauty as young saplings of PunnAga and Mango trees with their
full blososms of flowers . He is wearing peacock feathers in His tresses.
He is also adorned by 25 nakshathrAs in His coiffure. His face is like
a full moon in its beauty and it is free of any blemish . He is wearing
a dress made of animal skin , which makes Him look like the just blossomed
lotus of the morning in its beauty. On the left and right side of His body ,
He is wearing the lovely yellow flowers known as Konrai . From His waist
down  to His ankles , he is wearing a dress made of KathambhA flowers . His
is such that even His enemies are overcome by it. He reminds one of
the fully decorated woman possessing all the 32 SaamudhrikhA lakshaNams
of beauty because of His overpowering presence.

He has given His bow and arrow to His consort and with that
freed hand of His , He is resting it over Her shoulder in a posture
of embrace. With His other (right)  hand , He is holding a bunch
of flowers close to His nose to enjoy its fragrance. While He moves around
the forest in the company of His consort , the gentle breeze caused by the
movement of the leaves on the trees cools Him. He is surrounded by
enchanting  dogs and little children , as He moves around as a hunter
in the forest ( VeejyamAnO mandha mandham vanapallava  saakhayA: I
samAvrutthO Baalakaisccha svabhiscchApi manOharai: II ). The dhayana
slokams conclude with an injunction to meditate on this form of the lustrous
teacher of the Universe ( ---DhyAthavoyO JagathAm Guru : I
Yevam RupO mahAtejA KirAthavapureevara: II ) .

There are many pasages and  slautations in Sri Rudram , which are
moving to contemplate as Veda Manthrams .

Vedam is common to all of us . Independent of the multilayerd
intrepretations that has been given to the Veda Manthras from literary
to deeply esoterical , One can not take away the pleasure of listening to
the Vedic recitation handed down through the oral tradition from
time immemorial , whether  we undrstand their meanings are not.
May that sacred Vedic sound resonate with us always and bring
auspiciousness all around !

NirmalAya prasAnthAya DakshiNAmoorthayE Nama:

Oppiliappan Kovil VaradAchAri Sadagopan

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