Commentary by Sri R. Muthukrishna Sastri [Former Editor of Hitabhashini, Thanjavur] & Dr. S. Srinivasa Sarma [Srimatham, Kanchipuram]
Translated from Tamil by P. R. Kannan
नमस्ते रुद्र मन्यव उतोत इषवे नम:।
नमस्ते अस्तु धन्वने बाहुभ्यामुत ते नम:॥ १
Meaning: रुद्र- Parameswara! ते- your, मन्यवे- to anger, नमः- prostration. उतो -Further, ते-your, इषवे- to the arrow, नमः -prostration. ते- your, धन्वने- to the bow, नमः अस्तु- may my prostration be. उत- Further, ते- your, बाहुभ्यां- to the two arms, नमः- prostration.
Explanation: Three commentators- Sayana, Bhattabhaskara and Abhinavasankara- have written commentaries for Sri Rudram. This present explanation has been written in accordance with these three commentaries.
There are a total of 11 Anuvakams (sections) in Sri Rudram. In the first Anuvakam, the angry Sri Rudra is pacified. From the second to the ninth Anuvakams, Sri Rudra is eulogised in many ways and obeisance paid to him. In the last two Anuvakams, prayers are offered to Sri Rudra and Rudraganas.
There are many terrible and calm forms of Sri Rudra. In order to pacify the terrible form of his, obeisance is paid to his anger, weapons etc. How can there be anger in Sri Parameswara, the blemishless one with all good attributes? The answer is that his anger in order to punish those, who transgress his commands contained in Srutis, Smritis etc. and bring them over to the right path, is only a good quality and not a fault.
Following the etymology रुदं+ द्रावयतीति = रुद्रः, as Sri Parameswara drives away grief, or sin which causes grief, he is called 'Rudra'. As he is prayed here for ridding his anger and being calm, it is but proper that he is addressed as 'Rudra'. As anger is the basic cause of all types of grief, anger is propitiated at the beginning itself. When Parameswara gets angry, his arrow will come in front; he will then look at his bow. Then his two arms will go on to hold them. Hence anger, arrow, bow and arms are prayed to in that order.
Parameswara's arrow etc. are to be worshipped like Devatas. Hence praying and paying obeisance to them is but appropriate. Once Arjuna forgot the method of using Paasupatastra. In order to learn it, Sri Krishna and Arjuna went to Kailasa. Parameswara asked them to bring a certain weapon from the adjacent divine lake. When they both went to the lake, they noticed that the weapon looked very terrible, surrounded by poisonous flames. Sri Krishna then chanted Sri Rudram in order to pacify it and make it come to his hands. The weapon then reached his hands in a calm and peaceful form. This has been mentioned in the Mahabharata. This shows that Sri Parameswara's weapons like arrow etc. are full of dynamism and need to be worshipped.
It is said that it is necessary to know the Rishi, chandas and Devata of every mantra, Abhinasankara's commentary describes these details. For this first mantra, Rishi is Aatreya, chandas is Anushtup and Devata is Sri Rudra.
आकर्णकृष्टे धनुषि ज्वलन्तीं देवीमिषुं भास्वति सन्दधानम् ।
ध्यायेन्महेशं महनीयवेषं देव्या युतं योधतनुं युवानम् ॥
"One should meditate upon Maheswara, who yokes a brilliant arrow to his shining bow, pulled to the ear; of handsome form, appearing like a warrior, youthful and accompanied by Devi."
This mantra will be fully efficacious to one who practises Praajaapatya krichchram and chants the mantra 11000 times. By doing circumambulation and prostration, while chanting this mantra, Parameswara's grace, destruction of sins and leadership in society will result. The other practices using this mantra are described in works like 'Rudra Kalpaarnavam'.
यात इषुः शिवतमा शिवं बभूव ते धनुः ।
शिवा शरव्या या तव तया नो रुद्र मृडय ॥
Meaning: रुद्र-Parameswara! ते- your, या इषुः- which arrow, शिवतमा- most auspiciously, बभूव- exists, ते- your, धनुः- which bow, शिवं बभूव- is auspicious, तव- your, या शरव्या- which quiver, शिवा- is auspicious, तया- with that arrow, bow and quiver, नः- us, मृडय- make us happy.
As usage of ‘lit’ is done in present tense also in Veda, Bhattabhaskara’s commentary states that for the word ‘babhuva’, the present tense meaning of ‘exists’ should be understood. The other two commentaries state the meaning: ‘Please grant me happiness from the arrows etc., which were worshipped by me in the previous mantra and became calm-formed.’ On this basis, the term ‘babhuva’ is interpreted in past tense.
The Rishi for this second mantra is Aathreya; chandas is Anushtup; Devata- Sambhu.
ध्यायेद्देवं सस्मितं स्यन्दनस्थं देव्या सार्धं तेजसा दीप्यमानम् ।
इष्विष्वासालन्कृताभ्यां भुजाभ्यां शूराकारं स्तूयमानं सुरौघैः ॥
“One should meditate on Deva, who is seated in a chariot along with Devi, shining brilliantly, with the form of a valiant warrior, with both arms decorated with bow and arrow, extolled by Devaganas and with a smiling face.”
If this mantra is chanted constantly for twelve days excluding nights and without obstructing Nitya karmas (daily obligatory duties), one will get the full efficacy of the mantra. This is a Mahamantra meant for driving away famine and national calamities.
या ते रुद्र शिवा तनूरघोरापापकाशिनी ।
तया नस्तनुवा शन्तमया गिरिशन्ताभिचाकशीहि ॥
रुद्र- Parameswara! ते- your, अघोरा- that which does not terrify (with weapons), शिवा- granting worldly pleasures, अपापकाशिनी- granting Atmagnana, the cause of the happiness of Liberation, या- which, तनूः- body, तया- that, शन्तमया- granting the highest happiness of Liberation, तनुवा- with the body, गिरिशन्त- Parameswara, who, being the object indicated by Vedas, grant all pleasures right upto Liberation, नः- us, अभिचाकशीहि- grant the knowledge of Atmatatva (Self-Principle).
Abhinavasankara comments that having prayed for worldly pleasures in the previous mantra, happiness of Liberation is prayed for in this mantra. Bhattabhaskara comments that some of the calm forms of Sri Parameswara have weapons; some do not have; in the previoua mantra, the form with weapons was prayed to and in this mantra, the form without weapons is worshipped.
Aghora- Form with weapons which terrifies persons without any reason is ‘ghora’; form which is not terrifying is ‘aghora’.
Sivaa- auspicious, i.e. that which grants worldly pleasures also.
Apapakaasini- Here the term ‘Apapa’ indicates Brahmatmatatvagnana, which is opposed to sin. As Upanishad states that on rising of Atmagnana, all sins are destroyed, it follows that Atmagnana is the enemy of sins. The form which grants or lights up that Atmatatvagnana is referred as ‘Apapakaasini’ here.
Girisantha- This term denoting Parameswara has been interpreted in many ways.
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
One who is in Pranava (Omkara) as the one to be meditated upon and grants the matchless bliss of Brahmananda.
The Rishi for this mantra is Kaasyapa; chandas is svaraatanushtup; Devata is Sambhu.
स्मेराननं चन्द्रकलावतंसं गंगाधरं शैलसुतासहायम् ।
त्रिलोचनं भस्मभुजंगभूषणं ध्यायेत्पशूनां पतिमीशितारम् ॥
“One should meditate upon Iswara, who has a smiling face, wears crescent moon on his head, bears Ganga, has the daughter of Himavan (Parvatharaja) on his side, has three eyes, wearing Vibhuti and serpents as ornaments and is the lord of Jivas (Pasus).”
Chanting and homam of this mantra are prescribed for the peace of Pasus (Jivas).
यामिषुं गिरिशन्त हस्ते बिभर्ष्यस्तवे ।
शिवां गिरित्र तां कुरु मा हिंसीः पुरुषं जगत् ॥
गिरिशन्त- Parameswara! यां इषुं- which arrow, अस्तवे- for discharging on sinners, हस्ते- in the hand, बिभर्षि- hold, गिरित्र- Resident and protector of Kailasa, तां- that arrow, शिवां कुरु- make auspicious, पुरुषं- men belonging to me, जगत्- other moving and non-moving properties, मा हिंसीः- do not harm.
Having prayed for attaining fulfillment of desires in second and third mantras, the Rishi prays now in this fourth mantra for freedom from adversities. When Iswara has been addressed as ‘Girisantha’, the purport of using the additional term of address of ‘Giritra’ has been described in Abhinavasankara’s commentary as follows: “Sri Parameswara has assured that if one worships him now, though he might have erred in the past, Iswara will grant him a virtuous mind and protect him. ‘Giri’ is the word of assurance; ‘trayate’ means he protects, being firm in his assurance.”
शिवेन वचसा त्वा गिरिशाच्छा वदामसि ।
यथा नस्सर्वमिज्जगदयक्ष्मं सुमना असत् ॥
गिरिश- Parameswara, residing in Kailasa! त्वा- you, अच्छा- to attain, शिवेन वचसा- with auspicious words (of praise), यथा- in which manner, नः- our, सर्वं जगत् इत्- these moving objects like men and animals, अयक्ष्मं- free from disease, सुमनाः- with good minds, i.e. being comfortable, असत्- will become, in that manner, वदामसि- we pray.
In this fifth mantra, fulfillment of desire and prevention of misery are both prayed for.
Girisa- Variously interpreted as resident of Kailasa, propounded in Vedas, Iswara of Kailasa, clouds and Pranava (omkara).
Achcha- This word is ‘Avyaya’ (an indeclinable particle in Samskrit grammar); is used ‘long’ (dirgha) (achchaa) in Vedic time. Sayana has interpreted this term to mean ‘Praptum’ (to attain); Bhattabhaskara as ‘abhimukhikaranam (to make one see him). But Abhinavasankara interprets this term as one of addressing Parameswara, meaning ‘Pure One!’ A special meaning results from this interpretation: By contact with the praises of sinners, Parameswara does not acquire any blemish; he remains ever pure. By contact with impure water from the streets, the water in the ever pure Ganga does not become sullied. On the other hand, the other waters, by contact with the Ganga, become pure, like the Yamuna. Similarly, the words in praise of the ever pure Parameswara uttered by sinners become very sacred by contact with Parameswara. Hence such words are described in this mantra as ‘Sivena vachasa’.
The fourth and fifth mantras together form one mantra; the Rishi is Gautama; chandas, Gayatri; Devata, Rudra.
सांग्रामिकेन वपुषा प्रविराजमानं देवं पुरत्रयविनाशनमन्दहासम् ।
दैत्यान् दिधक्षुमचलेश्वरचापपाणिं ध्यायेत्पुरारिमथ भूमिरथाधिरूढम् ॥
“One should meditate on Sri Parameswara as shining with the apparels of war worn on the body, with a gentle smile which destroys the Three Cities, intending to destroy the demons, having Meru mountain as bow in his hand, seated in the chariot of Earth and the enemy of Three Cities.”
This sloka brings out the appearance and attitude of Sri Parameswara during the destruction of the Tripura. If these two mantras are recited constantly for 21 days, the full power of the mantras will be attained. Evils like untimely death etc. will go away by chanting this mantra.
अध्यवोचदधिवक्ता प्रथमो दैव्यो भिषक् ।
अहींश्च सर्वान् जम्भयन् सर्वाश्च यातुधान्यः ॥
अधिवक्ता- One who speaks in favour of devotees, प्रथमः- the best, दैव्यः- the in-dweller among even Devas, भिषक्- Parameswara, who is the doctor, who treats all troubles including sin, disease, samsara, poverty etc., सर्वान् अहींश्च- serpent, scorpion etc. which trouble directly, सर्वाश्च यातुधान्यः- demons, ghosts etc. who trouble indirectly, जम्भयन्- destroying, अध्यवोचत्-
may speak in my favour.
Even if we worship and pray to Sri Parameswara, how can he protect us, when there are Yama, Chitragupta et al, who prescribe punishments in accord with sins, and Devas, who are witnesses to the sins? This mantra states in response to this doubt that nobody else can cause any trouble to those who have received the grace of Parameswara.
Adhivakata- one who speaks in favour of his devotees. As a fruit of the excellent act of worship of Parameswara, he speaks in favour of his devotees. Hence it is not a deficiency.
Prathama:- This term settles the doubt as to whether Yama would cease to punish even if Parameswara recommends.
"यो देवानां प्रथमं पुरस्ताद्विश्वाधिको रुद्रो महर्षिः"
"तमीश्वराणां प्रथमं महेश्वरं तं दैवतानां प्रथमं च दैवतम्"
"यो देवः सर्वदेवेषु महादेव इति स्मृतः-
तस्मै नमस्तु कुर्वाणा दिवि तिष्ठन्ति देवताः ॥"
“The first among Devas, the best in the world”.
“Maheswara, the first among Iswaras, the first among Devatas”.
“One who is called Mahadeva among Devas- Devas prostrate to him and live in Devaloka”.
From the above passages of Sruti, Smriti and Itihasa, it is clear that Parameswara is the greatest. How can a devotee of his, who worships him, be punished by others, who also adore him?
It is not only that the devotee of Parameswara will not be troubled by others, but praised indeed. This is signified by the term ‘Daivya:’, which means the in-dweller of Devas. Being the in-dweller, Parameswara induces Devas to praise the devotee of his.
Bhishak- This term means doctor. Like bodily disease, there are many other afflictions like sin, grief of samsara, poverty etc. Sri Parameswara treats all these afflictions. Hence another Sruti says ‘Bhishktamam tva bhishajaam srunomi’ (the best among doctors). ‘Bhishak’ also indicates that Parameswara is full of compassion. One, who diagnoses the cause of a disease, may sometimes resort to surgery. Though surgery is troublesome to the sick person, as it is performed for the ultimate well being of the patient, the surgeon is praised as compassionate and not castigated as cruel. Similarly though Parameswara, the doctor who treats the disease of Samsara, punishes the evil Rakshasas, serpents etc., their sins get washed away this way and they might attain good state in course of time; hence it becomes certain that Parameswara is kind-hearted even in that act.
निदानज्ञस्य भिषजो रुग्णे हिंसां प्रयुञ्जतः ।
न किञ्चिदत्र नैर्घृण्यं घृणैवात्र प्रयोजिका ॥
In this sloka from Sivapurana, it is said that the term ‘Bhishak’ refers to the compassion of Parameswara.
Jambhayan Adhyavochat- The prayer is that after destroying the devotee’s enemies, Parameswara should speak in his favour. If Parameswara is not capable of destroying the devotee’s enemies, whoever they might be, the prayer would be that he should first speak in the devotee’s favour and then destroy the enemies. As Parameswara is capable of easily destroying anybody at any time, the prayer is that first he should destroy the enemies and then speak in the devotee’s favour. If he punishes others for the sake of protecting the devotee, who has taken refuge with him, the other Devas might ask ‘Is it proper to protect this person, who has committed many sins?’ At that time, Parameswara would say ‘This person surrendered to me and praised me in many ways. Where is his sin still left? Is he not an excellent person of merit?’ etc. That is why the mantra does not say ‘adhibruvan jambhayatu’, but says ‘jambhayan-adhyavochat’.
Hunters, who indulged in many sinful deeds in the forest, once climbed a bilva tree and kept plucking bilva leaves and throwing them down. There was a Sivalingam at that place; the hunters were unaware of it. However, as the bilva leaves dropped by them fell on the Sivalingam, Parameswara considered the hunters as his devotees and ordered after their death that they be brought to Kailasam. When the emissaries of Parameswara came to take them to Kailasam accordingly, Yama’s emissaries opposed them. Parameswara’s emissaries defeated the emissaries of Yama and took the hunters to Kailasam. Later when Yama, Chitragupta et al approached Parameswara and asked him, ‘These hunters, who have committed many cruel sins, deserve to be punished by us. How can they be brought to Kailasam?’ Parameswara replied, ‘As these hunters have dropped bilva leaves on me knowingly or unknowingly, their sins have been washed away. Hence you have no power to punish them.’ Many such stories are found in the Puranas of Siva. In these stories it is seen that after the emissaries of Yama were driven away, Parameswara spoke to Yama, Chitragupta et al in favour of the hunters.
In this same Rudram, it has been stated ‘Raksha cha no adhicha Devabruhi’, which means protection first and then making favourable recommendation.
Chanting this mantra is capable of completely destroying miseries from Rakshasas, spirits, poison, fever etc. Hence this mantra has been hailed as ‘kavacham’ (armour) by Maharishi Bodhayana.
Rishi of this mantra is Kanva; Chandas is Anushtup; Devata is Sambhu.
चन्द्रार्धमौलिं कालारिं व्यालयज्ञोपवीतिनम् ।
ज्वलत्पावकसंकाशं ध्यायेद्देवं त्रिलोचनम् ॥
“One should meditate on Deva, who wears half-moon on the head, conqueror of Yama, having snake as yagnopavita, brilliant as blazing fire and three-eyed.”
Reciting this mantra 50,000 times will confer its full power on the person who recites.
असौ यस्ताम्रो अरुण उत बभ्रुस्सुमङ्गलः ।
ये चे माँ रुद्रा अभितो दिक्षु श्रिताः सहस्रशो वैषाँ हेड ईमहे ॥
यः- Parameswara, who has been described in the previous mantras, ताम्रः- red-coloured (at dawn), अरुणः- of a bit less deep red-colour after dawn, उत- further, बभ्रुः- golden-coloured (after some time), सुमङ्गलः- very auspicious, असौ- shines as Surya, directly perceptible. इमां- to this earth, अभितः- on all four sides, दिक्षु- in the directions, श्रिताः- staying, सहस्रशः- in thousands, ये च रुद्राः- whosoever Rudras are, एषां- of all these, हेडः- anger, अव ईमहे- get rid of by praise, prostration etc.
Parameswara has eight forms- Earth, Water, Agni, Vayu, Akasa, Chandra, Surya and Yajamana (individual sacrificer). Of them, Parameswara of the form of Surya is praised in the 7th and 8th mantras. The zone around Surya appears red-coloured at dawn time, a less deep red in colour after some time and golden later. Surya mandalam is praised as ‘Sumangala:’ –very auspicious, because it drives away darkness, dew etc. and brings comfort to all. Were there no Surya, the entire world will become inauspicious, enveloped in darkness. Just as Sun’s rays pervade the entire world, thousands of Parameswara’s ganas (armies), whose appearance is same as Parameswara’s, are spread in the earth region all around in many places and bless or curse people according to the merits and sins they commit. We douse the anger of Sri Parameswara of the form of the Sun’s zone and Rudraganas, who are spread everywhere in thousands, by songs of praise, prostration etc. May all of them bless us.
Heda:- This word has two meanings- dishonour and anger. Dishonour arises by not performing acts as laid down in Vedas and anger because of performing acts prohibited in Vedas. It is said that we nullify these two aspects.
असौ योsवसर्पति नीलग्रीवो विलोहितः ।
उतैनं गोपा अदृशन्नदृशन्नुदहार्यः ॥
उतैनं विश्वा भूतानि स दृष्टो मृडयाति नः ॥
य:- Parameswara (who), नीलग्रीवः- he, whose neck is black-coloured due to retaining Kalakuta poison, विलोहितः- deep red in colour, असौ- present in the directly visible Suryamandala, अवसर्पति- travels in the sky. गोपा उत- Even cowherds, एनम्- this Rudra of the form of Surya, अदृशन्- see. उदहार्यः- Even innocent women, who fetch water अदृशन्- see. एनम्- This Rudra, विश्वा भूतानि- all creatures (like bull, sheep etc. see). सः- Parameswara of the form of Aditya, दृष्टः- being seen by us, नः- us, मृडयाति- may give us comfort.
Having pacified through the 7th mantra, the Rishi prays in this 8th mantra for fulfillment of desires. Sri Parameswara himself travels in the sky in the form of Suryamandala every day owing to compassion that everyone might see him. Hence even unlettered, innocent people get an opportunity to look at Sri Rudra directly. Generally, while referring to uneducated people, it is usual to cite cowherds as examples. It is a practice to say ‘Aabaalagopalam’. In accord with that, ‘गोपा अदृशन्’ has been mentioned. Women, who fetch water, and who lack even the knowledge possessed by cowherds, look at this Rudra of the form of Suryamandala. Not only that; even animals like bull and sheep see and enjoy the Sun. The true form of Advaita, Sachchidananda, is beyond the reach of anyone’s intellect. The form with attributes, residing in Kailasam, is capable of being known only by worshippers. However the form of Sri Parameswara as the Suryamandala can be seen and enjoyed by all creatures. May Sri Parameswara, who, out of great compassion, travels in the sky so that all may have darshan and attain to higher state, bestow comfort on us; this is the prayer.
Chandas for 7th mantra: Aasthaara pankti; for 8th mantra: Jagati chandas, having six parts. Rishi for both the mantras is Marutvaang; Devata is Sri Parameswara of the form of Aditya.
मण्डलान्तरगतं हिरण्मयं भ्राजमानवपुषं शुचिस्मितम् ।
चण्डदीधिति मखण्डितद्युतिं चिन्तयेत्मुनिसहस्रसेवितम् ॥
“One should meditate on Sri Parasmeswara, who is in the Suryamandala, of golden hue, with a brilliant form, with pleasant smile, served by thousands of ascetics, possessing power not subdued anywhere and having harsh rays.”
By performing Prayaschitta called ‘kruchchram’ first, followed by chant of the two mantras- 7th and 8th- continuously for 16 days without break, one will attain the full power of the mantras. If one, who has performed Purascharanam (repetition of mantra along with homam) as mentioned above, chants this mantra during drought, there will be rain.
नमो अस्तु नीलग्रीवाय सहस्राक्षाय मीढुषे ।
अथो ये अस्य सत्वानोsहं तेभ्योsकरं नमः ॥
सहस्राक्षाय- possessing thousands of eyes, मीढुषे- bestowing everything desired by worshippers, नीलग्रीवाय- to Sri Parameswara, with blue throat, नमः अस्तु- may my obeisance be. अथो- Further, अस्य- to this Parameswara, सत्वानः- Pramathaganas nearby, ये- who are present, तेभ्यः- to them, अहम्- I, नमः- prostration, अकरम्- perform.
The Rishi prays to Sri Parameswara, who sports a blue throat, for obtaining his grace. As Parameswara holds Kalakuta poison in his throat, he is called Nilagriva. As he is worshipped here with this name, we are reminded of a special greatness of his. When the Milky Ocean was churned for obtaining Amrita (nectar), poison, Chandra et al came out. Of them, Parameswara took the poison and Chandra; he kept the terrible poison in his throat, thus hiding it from sight and placed Chandra, who gives happiness to all, on his head. In the same way, as he ignores the defects in us and hails our good qualities, it is clear that he can be very easily pleased.
Sahasraakshaya- The term ‘Sahasra’ here does not mean a thousand, but innumerable. As his vision extends everywhere, it is clear that he will directly see us worshipping him, wherever we are. As Sahasraaksha also refers to Devendra, the interpretation can be that Parameswara is also in the form of Devendra.
Midhushe- This term can also be interpreted as one who showers rain and protects the world, or being male, he produces baby by bestowing his virya.
Chandas of this mantra is Anushtup; Rishi is Sambhu; Devata is also Sambhu.
शरच्चन्द्रप्रकाशेन वपुषा शीतलद्युतिम् ।
ध्यायेत्सिह्मासिनासीनमुमया सहितं शिवम् ॥
“One should meditate on Sri Parameswara, whose form is splendorous like Chandra of the autumn season, with brightness causing happiness; who is seated on a throne and accompanied by Parvati.”
By reciting this mantra repeatedly, one can get the blessing for a good son.
प्रमुञ्च धन्वनस्त्वमुभयोरार्त्नियोर्ज्याम् ।
याश्च ते हस्त इषवः पराता भगवो वप ॥
भगवः- Bhagavan Parameswara! धन्वनः- of your bow, उभयोः आर्त्नियोः- (tied) in the two ends, ज्यां- the bowstring, त्वं- you yourself, प्रमुञ्च- untie. ते- your, हस्ते- in the hand, याः- which, इषवः- arrows (are present), ताः च- them also, परावप- take away (from direct presence).
Bhagavan Parameswara! Please untie yourself the string tied at both ends of your bow. Please also hide from our vision the arrows that you have.
The Rishi prays for withdrawal of weapons through six mantras starting from this tenth mantra.
Bhagavan is so called as he has six qualities, viz. lordship, vigour (or dharma as per certain texts), fame, wealth, knowledge and dispassion. As it is not possible for anyone else to nullify the bow-string, arrows etc. held in the hands of Sri Parameswara, who has the six qualities in full, the prayer is that the Lord himself should nullify them. Only if the string is strung in the bow, it is possible to string arrows and discharge them. In order to prevent that, the Rishi prays to the Lord to untie the string itself. Even after the bow-string is untied, as the arrows in the Lord’s hands look awful as if waiting to devour the entire world, the Rishi prays that those arrows be also hidden from his vision.
अवतत्य धनुस्त्वं सहस्राक्ष शतेषुधे ।
निशीर्य शल्यानां मुखा शिवो नः सुमना भव ॥
सहस्राक्ष- One with many eyes! शतेषुधे- One with many quivers! त्वं- you, धनुः- your bow, अवतत्य- with untied bow-string, शल्यानां- of arrows, मुखा- edges, निशीर्य- blunting, नः- to us, शिवः- with auspicious form, सुमनाः- with favourable thoughts, भव- be.
After praying for removal of the arrows from sight, the Rishi, still feeling afraid, prays now for blunting the edges of the arrows. If one is capable of seeing only limited places and has only limited arrows, he can be made to be favourable to us, once he has thrown away the arrows. As Sri Parameswara has limitless number of eyes, is capable of seeing everywhere and possesses limitless quivers and arrows, the Rishi uses the two terms of address, ‘Sahasraaksha’ and ‘Satheshudhe’ to indicate this fact. Even if the arrows have been blunted, if the discharging warrior is cruel, he might trouble us somehow. Hence the Lord is prayed to be ‘Sivo bhava’. As there is no use of showing a kind face if there is no compassion in the mind, the prayer also says ‘Sumana bhava’.
विज्यं धनुः कपर्दिनो विशल्यो बाणवाँ उत ।
अनेशन्नस्येषव आभुरस्य निषङ्गधिः ॥
कपर्दिने- Of Parameswara, धनुः- bow, विज्यं- may be bereft of string. बाणवान् उत- also quiver, विशल्यः- be bereft of arrows. अस्य- Of this Parameswara, इषवः- arrows, अनेशन्- be destroyed with no powers to harm, निषङ्गधिः- sheath of sword, आभुः- be bereft of sword. (Alternative meaning: निषङ्गधिः- sword, आभुः- be powerless.)
Rishi of the three mantras-10, 11 and 12 is Narada; Chandas is Anushtup; Devata is Rudra.
उद्यद्भास्करकोटिप्रकाशं आदीप्तदहनमूर्धानम् ।
भीषणभुजङ्गभूषं ध्यायेद्विविधायुधं रुद्रम् ॥
“One should meditate on Sri Rudra, who is brilliant like a crore of Suryas, with flaming Agni on the head, with awful serpents as ornaments and having many types of weapons.”
या ते हेतिर्मीढुष्टम हस्ते बभूव ते धनुः ।
तयाsस्मान् विश्वतस्त्वमयक्ष्मया परिब्भुज ॥
मीढुष्टम- One who grants desires of devotees! या- which, हेतिः- the weapons like sword which exist, ते- your, हस्ते- in the hand, धनुः- the bow, बभूव- is present, अयक्ष्मया- causing disease-free state of devotees, तया- with those weapons and bow, त्वम्- you, अस्मान्- us, विश्वतः- from all types of dangers, परिब्भुज- may protect always in all respects.
After praying in the previous three mantras for withdrawing all weapons, the Rishi prays now for protection using those weapons.
नमस्ते अस्त्वायुधायानातताय धृष्णवे ।
उभाभ्यामुत ते नमो बाहुभ्यां तव धन्वने ॥
ते- Parameswara! Your, अनातताय- not ready to harm, धृष्णवे- but capable of harming, आयुधाय- to weapons, नमः अस्तु- may my prostration be. उत- Further, ते- your, उभाभ्यां- both, बाहुभ्यां- to the hands, तव- your, धन्वने - to the bow, नमः- prostration.
Having prayed in the previous mantra, the Rishi prays again to the weapons etc. The term ‘bahubhyam’ denotes two hands; hence saying ‘ubhabhyam’ again is due to the fear causing shiver on seeing the weapons in the hands.
परिते धन्वनो हेतिरस्मान् वृणक्तु विश्वतः ।
अथो य इषुधिस्तवारे अस्मन्निधेहि तम् ॥
ते- Parameswara! Your, धन्वनः- of the bow, हेतिः- weapon of arrow, अस्मान्- us, परिवृणक्तु- ignore, i.e. protect by not coming near us. अथो- Further, तव- your, य: इषुधिः- the quiver, which is there, तम्- that, अस्मत्- our, आरे- in the group of enemies, i.e. in the inimical heap of sins, or at a long distance, निधेहि- place.
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’ was interpreted to 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.’
For the three mantras- 13th, 14th and 15th- Rishi as well as Devata is Sri Parameswara himself; Chandas is Anushtup.
अनवरतमनुस्मरेत्भवान्या सह जगतां पितरं पिनाकपाणिम् ॥
“One should meditate constantly on Parameswara, whose twin feet are reddened by the pollen of the flowers from the garlands worn by groups of Devas on their heads, who is the father of all the worlds, holding the bow called ‘Pinaka’ in his hand and accompanied by Parvati.”
The fruit for these three mantras is said to be destruction of enemies.
नमो हिरण्यबाहवे सेनान्ये दिशां च पतये नमः ।
हिरण्यबाहवे – with arms decorated with golden ornaments, or with golden arms, सेनान्ये – being head of the army, दिशां – of directions, पतये च - to Parameswara, lord also of, नमः – prostration.
Parameswara with weapons etc. was adored in the fifteen mantras of the first Anuvaka. The Rishi pays obeisance to Parameswara in the eight Anuvakas starting from the second, by describing his manifold glory. Here he prays to Parameswara as Sarveswara (lord of all).
From this mantra upto the mantra ‘श्वभ्यः श्वपतिभ्यश्च वो नमः’, the mantras have ‘nama:’ at the beginning as well as at the end of each mantra; hence these mantras are called ‘ubhayato namaskara mantras’. That is, ‘नमो हिरण्यबाहवे सेनान्ये दिशां च पतये नमः’ is one mantra; like this many mantras are seen further.
Disam cha pataye nama:- If obeisance is paid to Parameswara, who is the lord of directions, the doubt arises as to how he becomes the lord, when Indra, Agni et al are famous as the lords of different directions. To dispel this doubt, the descriptive term ‘senanye’ has been given. This makes it clear that Devas, Gandharvas, humans et al are all armies and that Parameswara is their lord. Hence the lord of directions is also Parameswara. Under his orders Indra et al are ruling the different directions.
In order to clarify that Sri Parameswara alone is the lord of all moving and non-moving objects like Indra and others, another descriptive term ‘Hiranyabahave’ has been used. This can be interpreted to mean ‘one with arms decorated with golden ornaments’, or ‘one with golden arms’. ‘Golden arm’ is but an ‘upalakshanam’ (characteristic indicative of much larger canvas). It means that from toe-nails to the hair on the head, everything is golden. Vedic passages like ‘Aabhranakat sarva eva suvarna:’; ‘Hiranyabahave hiranyavarnaya’; ‘yathapasy: pasyate rukmavarnam’ etc. describe Parameswara as golden. There is a vidya called ‘Antaraaditya vidya’ in Chandogya Upanishad. There the golden Parameswara is said to be the lord to be worshipped. The term ‘hiranyabahave’ here also refers to the golden Parameswara mentioned in that vidya. In that vidya, Parameswara is described as the lord of all worlds. Hence the term ‘Hiranyabahave’ indicates that Parameswara is the lord of all Devas including Devendra.
नमो वृक्षेभ्यो हरिकेशेभ्यः पशूनां पतये नमः ।
हरिकेशेभ्यः- with leaves of karmas of satvic, rajasa and tamasa (tranquil, passionate and dull karmas), वृक्षेभ्यः- to Rudras in the form of trees forming the universe, नमः- prostration. पशूनां पतये – to Parameswara, who is the lord of all creatures, नमः- prostration.
Pasunam pataye nama:- The term ‘Pasu’ here does not indicate just animals like bulls and sheep. It refers generally to all creatures with two legs, four legs etc. Parameswara is the lord of all the creatures. The two terms ‘Harikesebhya:’ and ‘vrikshebhya:’ describe how all creatures are called ‘Pasu’ and Parameswara as ‘Pasupati’. It is common that animals which are tethered with rope are called ‘Pasu’ and one who controls the Pasu as he pleases is called ‘Pasupati’. Similarly as all creatures are bound by the ropes of samsara of their karmas, they are called ‘Pasu’; Sri Parameswara is called ‘Pasupati’ as he induces them to engage in respective actions and opens the knots finally.
In the latter mantra ‘Namo vrikshebhyo harikesobhyo namastaraya’, Sri Parameswara is described to be in the form of trees; hence ‘vriksha’ here is interpreted to mean ‘samsaravriksha’. Upanishad, Gita etc. describe samsara as tree. Just as trees grow on account of green leaves on top, the world grows on account of many types of karmas given in Karmakanda; hence karmas are shown as leaves for the tree of world (samsara). As leaves are at the top of tree, they are called ‘kesam’ (hair) here.
It is usual to describe satva guna as white, rajoguna as green or red and tamoguna as black. In Karmakanda, many karmas of satvic, rajasic and tamasic types are described. Hence the term ‘Hari’, which denotes the green-coloured rajasic karma, is ‘upalakshanam’ (characteristic indicative of much larger canvas) for the other two types of karmas.
नमस्सस्पिञ्जराय त्विषीमते पथीनं पतये नमः ।
सस्पिञ्जराय – of mixed colour of red and yellow, like tender grass, त्विषीमते- brilliant with Gnana, पथीनां - for the Vedic and Tantric paths, पतये – to Parameswara, who is the pioneer of, नमः – prostration.
The path shown by Vedas to attain Moksha (Liberation) is said to be ‘Vedic’ and that shown by Tantras is ‘Tantric’. Now a doubt arises as to why Tantric path is mentioned here, when it is an established truth that as some of Tantric paths are opposed to Vedas, they are not to be followed. In order to dispel this doubt, the descriptive term ‘tvishimate’ has been given. Parameswara, brilliant with Gnana, i.e. omniscient, has written Tantra Sastras also with the benevolent intent that though those who have right to follow Vedas are not to follow the Tantric path, those who have no such right to Vedas may attain the high state by following Tantric path at least.
नमो बभ्लुशाय विव्याधिनेन्नानां पतये नमः ।
बभ्लुशाय- Seated on the Bull, विव्याधिने- harming much (the evil persons through their food itself), अन्नानां- of all foodstuff, पतये- to Parameswara, who is the lord of, नमः- prostration.
Skanda Puranam says that it is Dharma, which has become the Bull, the vehicle of Parameswara. As all foodstuffs grow through dharma alone, it is but proper that the Lord, seated on the Bull, which is of the form of Dharma, should be the lord of all foods grown through dharma. It is also understandable that Parameswara, the Lord of foods, harms some people through the very food they eat.
नमो हरिकेशायोपवीतिने पुष्टानां पतये नमः ।
हरिकेशाय- To one with dark hair (ever young), उपवीतिने- wearing yagnopavita, पुष्टानां- of those filled with knowledge, wealth etc., पतये- to Parameswara, the Lord of, नमः- prostration.
Samaveda says that Parameswara is the brahmana among Devas. The term ‘upavitine’ here may be understood to denote that also. As others have become well nourished by worshipping him, he is also called ‘Pushtipathi’. As one has to be in excellent state of health to bestow nourishment on others, the term ‘Harikesaya’ indicates that the ever youthful Parameswara is full of all nourishments.
Or, ‘Pushtanam pathaye’ can be interpreted as ‘lord of nourishments’, i.e. their protector. ‘Pushtis’ are of ten types: Vak (speech); Gnana (knowledge); Sarirendriya (sense organs); Grihakshetra (home and fields); Dhanadhanya (wealth and food); Praja (offspring); Pasu (animals); Grama (village); Dharma (righteousness); Animadi (eight great Siddhis like Anima etc.)
नमो भवस्य हेत्यै जगतां पतये नमः ।
भवस्य- Of creation, हेत्यै- one like a weapon, जगतां- of the world, पतये- to Parameswara, the Lord of, नमः- prostration.
Sri Parameswara is like a weapon to cut off the tree of samsara. The idea is that the samsara bondage will be cut off only with his grace. The terms ‘Pasunam pataye nama:’ and ‘Jagatam pataye nama:’ both refer to his being the lord of the worlds. However, ‘Pasunam pataye nama:’ means that he is the cause of bondage of Jivas and ‘Jagatam pataye nama:’ refers to his being the cause of their Liberation.
नमो रुद्रायातताविने क्षेत्राणां पतये नमः ।
रुद्राय- To the destroyer of the sorrow of samsara, आतताविने- one who protects the world with bow readily strung, क्षेत्राणां- of the bodies, पतये- to Parameswara, who is the protector and lord of, नमः- prostration. This can also mean that he is the lord of holy places.
नमस्सूतायाहन्त्याय वनानां पतये नमः ।
सूताय- Charioteer, driving the chariot of the world, अहन्त्याय- of the form of Atmajyoti (Light of Self), incapable of being harmed by anybody, वनानां- of forests, पतये- to Parameswara, the lord also of, नमः- prostration.
नमो रोहिताय स्थपतये वृक्षाणां पतये नमः ।
रोहिताय- Of red colour, स्थपतये- Remaining everywhere and protecting everything, वृक्षाणां पतये- to Parameswara, who is also the lord of trees, नमः- prostration.
It is noted that the complexion of Parameswara, who is the origin of trees, is red.
नमो मन्त्रिणे वाणिजाय कक्षाणां पतये नमः ।
मन्त्रिणे- To Lord of seven crore Mahamantras and secret Upanishads, वाणिजाय- Knower of dealings in all regions, like a trader, कक्षाणां- Of areas difficult of access like mountains, rivers, forests etc., पतये- to Lord of, नमः- prostration.
The last passage can also be interpreted to mean that Parameswara is the lord of very esoteric secrets of dharma and adharma, languages and regions.
नमो भुवन्तये वारिवस्कृतायौषधीनां पतये नमः ।
भुवन्तये- To one who nourishes the earth, i. e. all inhabitants of earth, वारिवस्कृताय- residing in devotees, ओषधीनां पतये- to Parameswara, the protector of trees, plants etc., नमः- prostration.
Vaarivaskritaaya- This can also be interpreted as Bestower of wealth; help in earning wealth; of the form of Vishnu or Varuna whose abode is in water. There are a lot of passages in Puranas in support of the fact that Parameswara resides in the devotees’ bodies:
"यथायोग्निसमावेशान्नायो भवति केवलम् ।
तथैव मम सान्निध्यान्नते केवलमानुषाः ॥"
"शिवस्य परिपूर्णस्य किन्नाम क्रियते नरैः ।
यत्कृतं शिवभक्तानां तच्छिवस्य कृतं भवेत् ॥
अकायो भक्तकायः स्यात् " etc.
“Just as iron heated red-hot in fire is no longer ordinary iron, my devotees will no longer be ordinary persons in my presence.” The idea is that they should be considered as forms of Siva only. “What is there to be done by men to Siva, who is complete in himself? Whatever is done to devotees of Siva is as good as done to Siva himself. For Siva, who has no body, the devotee’s body is his.”
नम उच्चैर्घोषायाक्रन्दयते पत्तीनां पतये नमः ।
उच्चैर्घोषाय- To one who makes loud sound (in war etc.), आक्रन्दयते- destroyer of enemies, पत्तीनां पतये- To Easwara, who is the lord of soldiers, नमः- prostration.
As this mantra says Siva is the lord of soldiers, there may arise a doubt as to whether he would need their help in conquering his enemies. The term ‘Aakrandayate’ serves to dispel this doubt. This means that he is capable of destroying his enemies without the assistance of others. He is also not in need of any weapons for this purpose. The term ‘Uchchairghoshaaya’ conveys that his ‘hunkara’ sound is itself enough for that. For Parameswara, who destroyed Tripuras with a smile, Manmatha by a mere look and Yama with nails, where is the need for weapons?
नमः कृत्स्नवीताय धावते सत्वनां पतये नमः ।
कृत्स्नवीताय - Pervading in all worlds, धावते- One who runs (in order to save devotees), सत्वनां पतये - to Parameswara, the lord of the virtuous, नमः- prostration.
Siva is hailed as the lord of the virtuous, as he runs in order to save them, like a cow after its calf. The fact that pervading everywhere, he protects all is mentioned in detail in the Grihya of Vaajasaneyis. The mantras there like "नमो रुद्रायाप्सुपदे स्वस्ति मा सम्पारय" meaning: ‘While drowning in water, traveling on foot, going in forest, prostration to Rudra present in those places; may he bestow well being on me’ must be chanted.
The whole of this second Anuvakam is a single mantra; Rishi is Manduka; Chandas is Maha Gayatri; Devata is Sri Rudra.
मुक्तालंकृतसर्वाङ्गमिन्दुगङ्गाधरं हरम् ।
ध्यायेत्कल्पतरोर्मूले समासीनं सहोमया ॥
“One must meditate on Parameswara, wearing pearls on all limbs and crescent and Ganga on the head and seated at the foot of Kalpaka tree along with Umadevi.”
By chanting this mantra a number of times as per rules, destruction of enemies and attracting people and wealth will be attained.
नमस्सहमानाय निव्याधिन आव्याधिनीनां पतये नमः ।
सहमानाय- To one who subdues enemies, or bears devotees’ faults, निव्याधिने- capable of striking enemies well, आव्याधिनीनां- of armies, capable of facing and striking all, पतये- to Parameswara, the lord of, नमः- prostration.
Like in the second Anuvakam, here in the third Anuvakam also, Parameswara is worshipped as the Supreme Lord in the first eight Yajurmnatras. For the term ‘Aavyaadhininam pataye’ meaning the lord of valorous armies, the two adjectives ‘sahamanaya’ and ‘nivyadhine’ explain the reason. Is it not natural that Parameswara, who subdues and rules over all and strikes the enemies, is the lord of valorous armies? Though he is the head of valorous armies and strikes the enemies, when it comes to his devotees, he ignores their faults and bestows his grace; this is conveyed by the adjective ‘sahamanaya’.
नमः ककुभाय निषङ्गिणे स्तेनानां पतये नमः ।
ककुभाय- the best (among thieves), निषङ्गिणे- holding sword in the hand, स्तेनानाम्- of thieves, who steal stealthily, पतये- to the Lord, नमः- prostration. (स्तेन:- thief, who steals stealthily; तस्कर:- robber, who steals openly.)
Parameswara, the lord of all, is also the lord of thieves. That does not cause any blemish to him. Sri Parameswara pervades the bodies of persons like thieves in the form of Jiva and Easwara. Of them, it is the form of Jivatma of thieves, which is reviled in Sastras. That the all-pervasive Paramatma also pervades the bodies of thieves is what is conveyed through descriptions like ‘Sthenaanam pataye’ etc. The import is that mediation on Parameswara in that manner also leads to accrual of merit.
Alternatively, the import could be that Parameswara, who is kind to devotees, being the lord of thieves also, rids them of their sins and protects them, if they surrender to him.
This should not be interpreted to mean that Parameswara is omnipotent and hence is also the best of thieves and steals others’ property.
नमो निषङ्गिण इषुधिमते तस्कराणां पतये नमः ।
निषङ्गिणे- Holding arrow in hand for stringing in the bow, इषुधिमते- having quiver of arrows, तस्कराणां- of robbers, who steal openly, पतये- to Parameswara, the lord of, नमः- prostration.
In the previous mantra, the term ‘nishanga’ was interpreted to mean sword. Here the term ‘nishanga’ has been interpreted as arrow held in hand for stringing in the bow. Another meaning based on the etymology नितरां+ सङ्गी = तस्मै, very kind to devotees, has also been given. But in the context of तस्कराणां पतये, this meaning does not seem appropriate.
नमो वञ्चते परिवञ्चते स्तायूनां पतये नमः ।
वञ्चते- In the form of one who cheats the master and steals his material sometimes, being his confidante, परिवञ्चते- also in the form of one who cheats the master at all times and in all matters, स्तायूनां- of people associating as confidante and yet stealing without others’ knowledge, पतये- to Parameswara, the lord of, नमः- prostration.
One who comes from outside and steals at night without anybody knowing it is ‘Sthena:’. One who is with the master and yet steals any time, either in day or at night, with nobody knowing it is ‘Sthayu’. वञ्चन्- One who is confidante of the master, but cheats and steals some things at some times. परिवञ्चन्- One who cheats in all matters and at all times.
नमो निचेरवे परिचरायरण्यानां पतये नमः ।
निचेरवे- One who moves about in the master’s house with alertness for stealing things, or, one who moves about in forest along with thieves, परिचराय- one who moves about in marketplace etc. for stealing things, आरण्यानां- of thieves who are in the forests, पतये- to Parameswara, who is lord of, नमः- prostration.
नमः सृकाविभ्यो जिघांसद्भ्यो मुष्णतां पतये नमः ।
सृकाविभ्यः- One who protects himself with equipment, जिघांसद्भ्यः- one who desires to harm animals, मुष्णतां- those who steal grains in fields etc., पतये- to Parameswara, the lord of, नमः- prostration.
One who protects himself with protective gear and desires to harm others can only be the head of thieves. Hence सृकाविभ्यः and जिघांसद्भ्यः are both adjectives to मुष्णतां पतये . As this is Veda, the singular is interpreted as plural.
नमोसिमद्भ्यो नक्तंचरद्भ्यः प्रकृन्तानां पतये नमः ।
असिमद्भ्यः- Those who wield sword, नक्तंचरद्भ्यः- those who move about in night, प्रकृन्तानां- of thieves who kill others and steal their belongings, पतये- to Parameswara, the lord of, नमः- prostration.
नम उष्णीषिणे गिरिचराय कुलुञ्चानां पतये नमः ।
उष्णीषिणे- Those who wear headgear like villagers, गिरिचराय- one who moves about in mountains, कुलुञ्चानां- of those who rob houses, fields etc., पतये- to Parameswara, the lord of, नमः- prostration.
कुलुञ्चानां- Those who rob houses, fields etc. are of two kinds: those who are in villages, wear headgear etc. like villagers and steal houses, fields etc. of the poor; and, those who live in forests etc. and rob houses, fields etc.
नम इषुमद्भ्यो धन्वाविभ्यश्च वो नमः ।
इषुमद्भ्यः - To those who have arrows in hand, धन्वाविभ्यः- those who have bows in hand, वः- to you, नमः- prostration.
In the 21 mantras starting from ‘Namo Hiranyabaahave’ upto the previous mantra (No.8), it was mentioned that Parameswara is the lord of the entire universe. From this mantra onwards, the Rishi describes him as being in the forms of many objects and pays obeisance to him. This establishes the quality of Parameswara being the soul of all. Many of the forms of Parameswara are terrible too. They are now worshipped with expression of obeisance two times, at the beginning and end of the mantra and addressed directly, using ‘va:’ (to you).
नम आतन्वानेभ्यः प्रतिदधानेभ्यश्च वो नमः ।
आतन्वानेभ्यः- To those who string the bow, प्रतिदधानेभ्यः- those who string the arrow to the bow, वः- to you, नमः- prostration.
नम आयच्छद्भ्यो विसृजद्भ्यश्च वो नमः ।
आयच्छद्भ्यः- To those who pull the bow-string, विसृजद्भ्यश्च- those who pull and discharge arrows, वः- to you, नमः- prostration.
नमोस्यद्भ्यो विद्ध्यद्भ्यश्च वो नमः ।
अस्यद्भ्यः- To those who throw arrows upto the desired aim, विद्ध्यद्भ्यः- those who strike at the desired aim, वः- to you, नमः- prostration.