Glorious Rudra Devotional (A)Art(I) For Woden’s Day

Now this is Woden’s Day devotional posting !



A rather excellent RigVedic Rudra hymnal follows, but before we get to that .. a few points of interest to note therein:

i) respect is absolutely paramount. There’s a line in here asking for the Great God not to take offence if the supplicant has inadvertently said the wrong thing. There’s also another in which the singer declares that they Bow to Rudra “even as a boy before the sire who greets him.” An excellent illustration – Which I mention because for some strange reason some people remain curiously resistant to bowing before Gods.

ii) now as for the reason why one must bow – well, one is asking for aid, so it is only appropriate to do so with proper respect. Even before we consider that this is a quite literally Terrific Deity of such power that even the rest of the Gods are afraid of Him. It’s rather like approaching an Emperor – not something to be done lightly or trivially – and most definitely ‘at your own peril’ if done poorly or insouciantly.

iii) in terms of why make such an approach – despite what you may have read elsewhere, Rudra is prayed to in order to ask for positive boons – not merely to ask that His wrathful attentions be directed elsewhere. We can see this here, wherein health and medicine are asked for … as well as well as, to be sure, the Weaponry and the Wrath of Rudra to be aimed at somebody other than the supplicant. But this is also a plea for protection – as in, Rudra protects the person praying in this way by smiting down enemies.

It goes along with the asking of the Great God to look upon the supplicant with “compassion”, and the mention of His Hand as “the hand that giveth health and bringeth comfort”. And, given the times which we are living in, the beseeching of Him for protection and availment against disease. All of which help to present a more ‘positive’ perspective upon Him than what some would have you believe.

I mention this because there is this incessant effort in various quarters to paint Rudra as a Deity that is only asked – indeed, *begged – to leave us alone. And that is simply not true.

This does not mean that Rudra is an easily ‘approachable’ deity – hence the importance emphasized at various points in this Hymn of the proper respect being shown … and the terrifying consequences of provoking His Anger through heedless lack of concern.

iv) Earlier, I suggested thinking of Rudra as an Emperor – indeed, *the* Emperor – via way of explaining both the power and the respect involved in such a prayer. The immense power called upon, the great respect that ought be shown for same – and great gratitude into the bargain should the Blessing (asked for , or otherwise) be bestowed. That notion of Rudra as God-Emperor is not an idle metaphor – other than Shiva’s customary title of “Ishvara”, which means exactly that, we have what Griffith renders as “Sovran of this world”. This is not incorrect, although the actual Sanskrit – Isanadasya Bhuvanasya – is perhaps rather grander in scale … think Universe. [I should also point out that ‘Bhuvana’ can also occasionally mean ‘Mankind’ .. which would render Isanadasya Bhuvanasya potentially also interprable as “The God-Emperor of Mankind” , “Master of Mankind”]

v) One of the frequent symbols we find for the Sky Father – Dyaus Pitar – is the Red Bull. Which is observed here about line 15, and goes with an array of other scriptural evidence found in the Vedas to hail Rudra as the Sky Father.

vi) The word that is translated as “Thunder” in the third line, is actually “Vajra” in the original Sanskrit. Now, I think that Jamison & Brereton in the recent Oxford edition have made an error by merely rendering it as “Mace” – as it is quite clearly meant to mean Thunder. We have well-attested mention not only of the Sky Father wielding the Thunder in various forms and ways … but also subsequent Shaivite and Shakta traditions which identify the Spear-style armament(s) of the Great God and Great Goddess with the Vajra. I highlight this, because there is another persistent belief that only the Striker/Thunderer deific can or should wield Thunder – which is quite patently not the case.

There is quite a lot more that I can and should say about this Hymnal … but for now, we shall simply let it speak for itself.

“Loud may we speak, with heroes, in assembly”, indeed!

RigVeda Mandala II , Hymn 33 – Griffith Translation :

“1. FATHER of Maruts, let thy bliss approach us: exclude us not from looking on the sunlight. Gracious to our fleet courser be the Hero may we transplant us, Rudra, in our children.
2 With the most saving medicines which thou givest, Rudra, may I attain a hundred winters. Far from us banish enmity and hatred, and to all quarters maladies and trouble.
3 Chief of all born art thou in glory, Rudra, armed with the thunder, mightiest of the mighty. Transport us over trouble to well-being repel thou from us all assaults of mischief.
4 Let us not anger thee with worship, Rudra, ill praise, Strong God! or mingled invocation. Do thou with strengthening balms incite our heroes: I hear thee famed as best of all physicians.
5 May I with praise-songs win that Rudra’s favour who is adored with gifts and invocations. Ne’er may the tawny God, fair-checked, and gracious, swifthearing, yield us to this evil purpose.
6 The Strong, begirt by Maruts, hath refreshed me, with most invigorating food, imploring. As he who finds a shade in fervent sunlight may I, uninjured, win the bliss of Rudra.
7 Where is that gracious hand of thine, O Rudra, the hand that giveth health and bringeth comfort, Remover of the woe that Gods have sent us? O Strong One, look thou on me with compassion.
8 To him the strong, great, tawny, fair-complexioned, I utter forth a mighty hymn of praises. We serve the brilliant God with adorations, we glorify, the splendid name of Rudra.
9 With firm limbs, multiform, the strong, the tawny adorns himself with bright gold decorations: The strength of Godhead ne’er departs from Rudra, him who is Sovran of this world, the mighty.
10 Worthy, thou carriest thy bow and arrows, worthy, thy manyhued and honoured necklace. Worthy, thou cuttest here each fiend to pieces: a mightier than thou there is not, Rudra.
11 Praise him the chariot-borne, the young, the famous, fierce, slaying like a dread beast of the forest. O Rudra, praised, be gracious to the singer. Let thy hosts spare us and smite down another.
12 I bend to thee as thou approachest, Rudra, even as a boy before the sire who greets him. I praise thee Bounteous Giver, Lord of heroes: give medicines to us as thou art lauded.
13 Of your pure medicines, O potent Maruts, those that are wholesomest and health-bestowing, Those which our father Manu hath selected, I crave from. Rudra for our gain and welfare.
14 May Rudra’s missile turn aside and spare us, the great wrath of the impetuous One avoid us. Turn, Bounteous God, thy strong bow from our princes, and be thou gracious to our seed and offspring.
15 O tawny Bull, thus showing forth thy nature, as neither to be wroth, O God, nor slay us. Here, Rudra, listen to our invocation. Loud may we speak, with heroes, in assembly.”

ॐ नमः शिवाय

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