Sri Rudram- Meanings and benefits- Anuvaka 1- Mantras 1-5

Mantra  1

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’.

Mantra  2

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.

Mantra 3

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).

Mantra 4

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.”

Mantra  5

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.


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