The Sri Rudram occurs in Krishna Yajur Veda in the Taithireeya Samhita in the fourth and seventh chapters. This prayer to Rudra has two parts-the Namakam (verses ending with Nama) and the Chamakam (Verses ending with Cha May) each with eleven sections. It is also known as Satha Rudreeyam or Rudra Prasnam. While Namakam is a prayer to Rudra to forget about his avenging fierce, fearful and horrendous form and turn himself into a peaceful form and do good to us, Chamakam on the other hand lists out the blessings to be got from a prayer to Rudra and prays Him to regulate and bless our life for a moment forgetting his anger.
The Sri Rudram is divided into eleven sections called anuvaakas.
1.In the first anuvaaka consisting of eleven sukthaas, Rudra is requested by the devotee to turn his fierce exterior and not use his weapons on his devotees. He is also requested to annihilate the sins committed by his devotees
2.In the second anuvaaka consisting of two sukthaas the Rudra is part of nature in all its glory as plants and medicinal herbs. He is requested to untie the bonds of the day-to-day life.
3.The third anuvaaka consisting of two sukthaas describe Rudra as a thief. He might have been presumed to be the stealer of ignorance from us.
4.In the fourth anuvaaka, consisting of two sukthaas, Rudra is the common man with his deficiencies, angularities and described as the creator and worker of all kinds.
5.In the fifth Anuvaaka, consisting of two sukthaas, several aspects of Rudra’s personality, especially as God responsible for creation, preservation and destruction is described.
6.In the sixth anuvaaka consisting of two sukthaas. Rudra is identified with changes of his personality over eons of time and the roles he has played in different ages. He is described as the source of the different worlds, Shrutis (Vedas) and its essence in Vedanta.
7.In the seventh anuvaaka, consisting of two sukthaas, his all pervading presence in nature in all its fury and majesty is described
8. In the eighth anuvaaka, Rudra is described as He who illumines other Gods and confers powers on them. The Panchakshari mantra viz. “Nama Shivaaya” occurs for the first time in Vedas in this anuvaaka.
9.In the ninth anuvaaka, which consists of two sukthaas, the unfancied and hard to live places where Rudra lives is listed out. In essence it means he is all pervasive.
10.In the tenth anuvaaka, Rudra is again requested not to show his furious fear giving form and appear before the devotee in a peaceful calm form. The mantras unlike the ones till ninth anuvaaka do not end in Nama after every description.
11.In the eleventh anuvaaka, consisting of eleven sukthaas, Rudra’s army called Ganaas is praised and they, wherever they exist, are beseeched to protect the devotees of Rudra.
This anuvaaka is followed by six stotras of Rudra.
Methods of Chanting Rudra
The Chamakam, lists out the blessings that can be got by prayer to Rudra. The reading or chanting of Rudra is said to be complete only when chamakam also is chanted. There are five methods of chanting Rudra viz.,
1.Ordinary method where first Rudram is read and then Chamakam.
2.Rudra ekadasini, where after chanting Rudram, the first anuvaaka of Chamakam is chanted, again after chanting Rudram the second anuvaaka of Chamakam is chanted and so on till the eleventh chanting of Rudram followed by eleventh anuvaaka of Chamakam.
3.Laghu Rudram, where Rudra ekadasinis is chanted eleven times
4.Maha Rudram, where Laghu Rudram is chanted eleven times
5.Athi Rudram, where Maha Rudram is chanted eleven times