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Rudra in the Upanishads: An analysis


Note 1): This page is a contribution of the Srivaishnava sampradAya follower who represented the side of Vaishnavism with me against the author of the mahapashupatastra blog page.

Note 2): There are innumerable verses found in Itihasas, Puranas, and other Smrtis that explain that all the dEvatAs' names belong to none other than Vishnu only, because of etymology. Here are a few examples:

Pramana #1, from Mahabharata Shanti Parva (credit goes to Sri Krishna Kadiri for pointing out this to us. He is a learned contributor to the dvaita list at http://dvaita.info/mailman/listinfo/dvaita-list_dvaita.info)
Arjuna uvAcha:
vedeSu sapurANeSu yAni guhyAni karmabhiH
teSAM niruktaM tvatto.ahaM zrotum icchAmi kezava
na hy anyo vartayen nAmnAM niruktaM tvAm Rte prabho

[Arjuna Said: 'O holy one, O Supreme ordainer of the Past and the Future. O Creator of all Beings, O immutable one, O Refuge of all the worlds, O Lord of the universe, O dispeller of the fears of all persons, I desire to hear from thee in detail, O Kesava, the significance of all those names of thine, O God, which have been mentioned by the great Rishis in the Vedas and the Puranas in consequences of diverse acts of thine. None else than thee, O Lord, is competent to explain the significations of those names.']

Sri Krishna uvAcha:
Rgvede sayajurvede tathaivAtharvasAmasu | purANe
sopaniSade tathaiva jyotiSe.arjuna |
sAMkhye ca yogazAstre ca Ayurvede tathaiva ca | bahUni
mama nAmAni kIrtitAni maharSibhiH
gauNAni tatra nAmAni karmajAni ca kAni cit | niruktaM
karmajAnAM ca zRNuSva prayato.anagha

[Krishna Said: 'In the Rigveda, in the Yajurveda, in the Atharvans and the Samans, in the Puranas and the Upanishads, as also in the treatises on Astrology, O Arjuna, in the Sankhya scriptures, in the Yoga scriptures, and in the treatises also on the Science of Life, many are the names that have been mentioned by the great Rishis. Some of those names are derivable from my attributes and some of them relate to my acts. Do thou hear, with concentrated attention, O sinless one, what the import is of each off those names (in particular) that have reference to my acts. I shall recite them to you.']

Pramana #2, occurs in Brahma Purana, quoted by Madhva in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya at 1.3.3 (courtesy: http://fiindolo.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/6_sastra/3_phil/vedanta/bbdip13u.htm)
caturmukhaśśatānando brahmaṇaḥ padmabhūriti /
ugro bhasmadharo nagnaḥ kapālīti śivasya ca /
viśeṣanāmāni dadau svakīyānyapi keśavaḥ //
iti ca brāhme
Translation:
Kesava has given special names, which are also his names, to Brahma as caturmukhaH, shatAnandaH, and padmabhUH, and to Siva, the names such as ugraH, bhasmadharaH, nagnaH, and kapAlI.

Pramana #3, occurs in Brahmanda Purana, quoted by Madhva in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya at 1.3.3 (courtesy: http://fiindolo.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/6_sastra/3_phil/vedanta/bbdip13u.htm)
brahmāṇḍe ca -
rujaṃ drāvayate yasmādrudrastasmājjanārdanarḥ /
iśānādeva ceśāno mahādevo mahattvataḥ //
pibanti ye narā nākaṃ muktāssaṃsārasāgarāt /
tadādhāro yato viṣṇuḥ pinākīti tataḥ smṛtaḥ //
śivaḥ sukhātmakatvena śarvaḥ śaṃrodhanāddhariḥ /
kṛtyātmakamimaṃ dehaṃ yato vaste pravartayan //
kṛttivāsāstato devo viriñcaśca virecanāt /
bṛṃhaṇādbrahmanāmāsāvaiśvaryādindra ucyate //

Translation by Prof. Pandurangi:

Janardana (i.e., the redeemer, Vishnu) is called Rudra; for He cures the disease (of life).
He is Ishana (the ruler) for He rules the lords of the world;
He is Mahadeva; for He is great and splendid;
He is known as Pinakin; for those that have crossed the sea of life and obtained release, take their stand on Him and drink in pure pleasure.
He is Siva, for, He is absolutely blissful.
Hari is Sarva, for He closes (the gates of) happiness against (the wicked).
The Lord is called Krittivasa, for He shelters or dwells in the body covered over with skin, to guide it in life.
He is called Virincha; for He produces the world out of Himself;
He is Brahma, for He is perfect and He is Indra (the wealthy), for He is the sole Lord

This article is to be seen in light of the above pramANas, and it will be clear that this is not  'Vaishnava sectarian jugglery'.
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RUDRA IN THE UPANISHADS

This is an article that expounds the meaning of the rudra mantras in svetAsvatArA and mahAnArAyaNa upanishads.

As has been explained already in this website, the terms such as ‘Rudra’, ‘Shiva’, ‘Akasa’, ‘Shambu’, ‘Indra’, ‘Agni’, ‘Isa’, ‘Prana’, etc  which occur in the Upanishads are common nouns and hence, apply to the supreme brahman only. That this supreme brahman is Sriman nArAyaNa only and not other devatA-s has been established on this website, both through the words of authoritative acharyas as well as shruti and smriti pramAnAs. 

Thus, it stands to follow, that the Rudra of the Upanishads is sriman nArAyaNa and not the well known pArvati pati, as the latter has been declared to be 1) absent during pralaya in the mahOpanishad, 2) born of karma in the satapatha brahmana and 3) born of nArAyaNa in the nArAyaNopanishad and smritis. These pramAnAs have already been mentioned in the satarudriya section of the website.

In addition, the etymological meaning of Rudra is as follows, which had also been explained in the Satarudriya section:

1) rum drAvayati iti rudra: - He is Rudra as he is the destroyer of the disease of SamsarA.

2)    rOdayati iti rudra:  - He is Rudra as he makes one shed tears of joy by enjoying his kalyAna gunams.

3)   rudya vAgrUpAya, vAkyam, prApayatEti rudra: - He is Rudra as he is the one who gives the vedic speech to Brahma before creation.

Thus, Rudra is a name of nArAyaNa and occurs in the vishNu sahasranAmA as well. SrI parAshara bhattar gives the above meanings for the name.

The vedA mainly dwells on the kalyAna gunas he exhibited in rAmA and narasimhA avatArams because as rAmA, he revealed all his kalyAna gunAs to their fullest extent and as narasimhA, he proved that the purpose of his activities was only to protect his devotees such as prahlada and his avatAram was spontaneous. So, often these sections relate to Narasimha or Rama only as Rudra. The two avatAras are even related – SrI rAmA addresses himself as one who can kill his enemies by his nails in the vAlmiki rAmAyaNa!

Having said that, let us understand the true meanings of the mantras addressed to this parama purushan known as Rudra, ie, nArAyaNa.


MANTRAS IN THE MAHANARAYANA UPANISHAD 

There are three Rudra mantras in this Upanishad known as tvaritharudra mantrAs. These are recited for fulfilment of one’s desires.


Mantra 106

sarvo vai rudra-stasmai rudraaya namo astu | purusho vai rudra-ssanmaho namo
namah | vishvam bhootam bhuvanam chitram bahudhaa jaatam jaayamaanam cha yat |
sarvo hyesha rudra-stasmai rudraaya namo astu ||
Meaning: Rudra is verily everything. Let our obeisance be to that Rudra. Possessing all valor, Rudra is verily the great. Obeisance unto him again and again. All this universe, all these entities, all the wondrous worlds that were variedly born or are being born – all that is verily this Rudra alone. To that Rudra, our obeisance is offered.

The etymology of the term ‘Rudra’ has already been explained and here it denotes nArAyaNa. Because of the statements like ‘sarVo vai rudrO’ and ‘purushO vai rudrO’, vyAsArya interprets ‘Rudra’ as paramAtma only and not the well known pArvati pati.
 Ranga rAmAnuja muni states that Rudra is known as ‘Sarva’ because he is carrying on this world, ie he is jagathnirvAhaka.  The name ‘Sarva’ occurs in the sahasranAma as ‘sarva sharva shivas sthAnur’ and SrI parAshara bhattar commenting on ‘sarva’ gives the meaning as ‘One who is the creator and destroyer of all, the ruler of the universe and supremely omniscient. Being the origin and end of jivAs and prakrti, he knows all and hence, is Sarva.

The Bhagavad Gita is sufficient pramAnam to show that vAsudeva krishNa is indeed ‘Sarva’ – It is doubtful anyone, even a layperson, is ignorant of the relevant gita slokas declaring krishNa as the creator, destroyer, etc and I do not need to quote them here.
PurushO vai RudrO can be interpreted in two ways. The meaning of ‘Purusha’ is ‘sarvavIryasampaNam’ and hence, the valor, ie, vIryam, of the parama purushan is mentioned here. We are reminded of the valor of SrI rAmA. vAlmiki asks, ka: vIryavAn. One of his names is mahAvIra. In this respect, vide the following slokas in the introductory portion of rAmAyaNa (slokas 1.1.8 to 1.1.18):

samudra iva gAmbhIrye dhairyeNa himavAniva|  vishNunA sadRSo vIrye… (vAlmiki rAmAyaNa)

Meaning: rAma has gAmbhIrya like an ocean, dhairya of himavAn and vIrya of vishNu.

But if we take the word ‘Purusha’ as ‘vedAhamEdham purusham mahAntam’, then it simply refers to Rudra (nArAyaNa) as the parama purushan of the vedA.

Mantra 107

kadrudraaya prachetase meeDhushTamaaya tavyase | vo chema shantamagm hrude | sarvo hyesha rudra-stasmai rudraaya namo astu || 

Meaning:  He functions as a creator and hence is a creaton (kan). May we utter a pleasing praise to Rudra who is acutely intelligent, who drenches the world with rain and others, who is an ascetic and who is pleasing to the heart.

‘kam ivAcharathIthi kan’ – He acts like chaturmukha brahma (Ka) and hence, he is the creator.
‘prachEtasE’ means ‘prakrushta buddhishAlina’. He is intelligent because he understands the sufferings of the jivAs very well and knows how to protect us. Indeed, there is a slOka in the rAmAyaNa, where the citizens of ayOdhyA say to DasarathA regarding SrI rAmA, the following:

vyasaneshu manushyANAm bhrusham bhavati du:khita:, utsaveshu cha sarveshu piteva paritushyati (vAlmiki rAmAyaNa)

Meaning: SrI rAmA suffers greatly when he sees someone suffering and is very happy upon seeing others’ happiness.

Thus, he is well aware of the sufferings and joys of the chEtana and knows their desires, hence is extremely intelligent.

 mEdhushtamA means ‘sektRthmAya’. The shAstra says that rains must occur 3 times a month for a conducive atmosphere to undergo vaidika anushtanams. As he is parabrahman, he is the giver of these rains. This is the interpretation of sri ranga rAmAnuja muni. Or, it could be taken that the ‘rains’ refer to Bhagavan granting all sorts of purushArthams as per Gita, ‘chatuvidA bhajantE mAm…’ sloka.

He is an ascetic as evidenced in the rAmAyaNa again as follows:

Vyaktamesha mahA-yogI paramAtmA sanAtanah (yuddha khAnda 114.4)

These are the words of mandOdari who recognises SrI rAmA as the parama purushan. The term ‘mahA yOgI’ refers to srI rAghavan’s determination to protect the world, being his only goal always. He is always meditating on ways to save the jivAtmA and grant moksha.

Alternately, he is also a yOgI because he meditates on his own kalyAna gunAs and derives anandam from himself as per the pramAnAs such as ‘anandamaya’.

Also, refer the Vishnu SahasranAmA which says that he is ‘mahat tapaH’. The ‘tapas’ refers to the ability to direct and order others, ie, he is the supreme ruler of all.

Lastly, he is indeed very pleasing to the heart . ‘shantham’ means ‘manaH sukhAvaham stOtra’. The very name ‘rAmA’ means ‘one who gives pleasure to everyone’. Hence, he gives ananda to everyone and we praise him.


Mantra 108

namO hiranyabAhavE hiranyapatayE umApatayE ambikApatayE namO namaha:
Meaning: Obeisances to Rudra, who is the consort of Ambika and/or Uma, whose arms are bedecked with gold ornaments and who is the master of riches.

‘HiranyabAhavE’ occurs in the Satarudriyam as well. Only nArAyaNa is referred to in both the Rudraprashnam as well as in this mantra.

AmbikapatayE, umApatayE is repeated because of the great respect the Upanishad has for this Bhagavan. VyAsArya interprets Rudra as nArAyaNa here as well. The terms ‘umApati’ and ‘ambikApati’ are related to srI narasimha as revealed in the narasimha tApanIya Upanishad which also calls him Shankara and Nilalohita. ‘UmapatayE’ simply refers to the Lord of great splendour (Uma being a common noun) and similarly for Ambika.

At this juncture, it would be pertinent to mention that the narasimha tApanIya Upanishad is indeed accepted by all vaidikas and has been quoted by Shankara, Sureshvara, Vedanta Desika, Vidyaranya, Madhva and Ranga Ramanuja Muni. Hence, it is indeed an authentic Upanishad. This is meant to address those who may not be familiar with this Upanishad. It is accepted in its present form by all Advaitins,  Vishishtadvaitins and Dvaitins.

The vedA bhAshyakArars make a reference to narasimha tApanIya while commenting on this famous mantram of Satarudriyam:

stuhi shrutaM gartasadaM yuvAnaM mR^igaM na bhImamupahatnumugram.h |
mR^iLA jaritre rudra stavAno .anyaM te asman nivapantu senAH || (Satarudriyam 10.8)

Meaning:  Praise the famous Rudra who dwells in the cave of the heart, who is eternally young, and who is fierce like a lion. O Rudra! Being praised by our words, confer happiness to us who have been afflicted by having a body subjected to old age and death. Let your forces annihilate others who are Your enemies and spare us.

As established in the Shri Rudram section of this website, the entire Rudraprashnam is a praise of nArAyaNa only. Note that this same mantra occurs in the narasimha tApanIya, with a slight modification:

stuhi srutam gartasadaM yuvAnaM mrgam na bhImamupahatnum ugram.h |
mrDA jaritre simha: stavAno .anyam te asmin nivapantu senAH | (Nr.Tap. Up. 2.1)

The word ‘Rudra’ is replaced by the word ‘Simha’ in the tApanIya. This is enough to show that the Rudra of the Upanishads and Satarudriyam is none other than nArAyaNa.
Vedanta Desika mentions in his kAmAshikAshtakam that Sri Narasimha is the essence of the uttara bhAgam of the VedA, ie, the Upanishad and is revealed by the tApanIya. He has also explained the mantra rAja pada portion of the Upanishad.


Mantra 134

There are 5 mantras beginning from 134 in this Upanishad which are interpreted by other commentators such as bhatta bhAskara as referring to the 5 faces of pArvati pati (Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Isana and Tatpurusha). Sri ranga rAmAnuja muni states that this is not the correct interpretation as these mantras are referred to as ‘pancha brahma mantrAs’ and hence, must only refer to the parabrahman, who is nArAyaNa.  The Upanishad only refers to parama purushan by all these names. Sri ranga rAmAnuja muni further states that srutis and smritis support the interpretation of these mantras as nArAyaNa and quotes them in defence of the interpretation. These will be indicated below.

In addition, these mantras occur after some prayers to Medha for jnAnA. Medha here refers to Lakshmi. Once jnAnA is attained from Lakshmi, Vishnu is resorted to and hence, these mantras are positioned after Medha Sukta in the mahAnArAyaNa Upanishad. Taking all these factors, these mantras refer to nArAyaNa only.
That being said, let us take a look at the 134th mantra:

sadyojaataM prapadyaami sadyojaataaya vai namo namaH|
bhave bhave naatibhave bhavasva maam.h . bhavodbhavaaya namaH||

Meaning: I surrender to SadyojAta, who was born at the moment of his will. Obeisance to Sadyojata, who was born at will. May I not be born in births after births. Do bless me. Obeisance unto him from whom all effects emerge.
‘SadyojAta’ is a name of Vishnu. The Narasimha tApAniya refers to Narasimha as ‘IshAnas sarvavidyAnAm’ and hence, ‘Sadyojata’ is a suitable name of Narasimha. Furthermore, the nirvAna khAnda of Skanda Purana refers to SrI rAmA as ‘Sadyojata’ and gives the following etymology – ‘SadyojAta pravrtti sattvam IshIshE kshEtrarakshaka’.

As mentioned previously, the vedas glorify parabrahman in his Rama and Narasimha avatArams primarily.

The vedA here states that he was born at the moment of his will. This refers to satya sankalpatvam. As per the pramAna ‘sambhavAmi yugE yugE’, bhagavan takes avatArams out of his will and never due to karma.

The Vishnu sahasranAmA contains the nama ‘SambhavO bhAvanO bhartA’. Bhattar interprets ‘SambhavA’ as ‘Like a hidden treasure, he is One who manifests himself at will, at any place and time, and in any form such as matsya, kruma, narasimha, etc to those who sincerely seek him’.

This mantra in particular can refer to Narasimha because he exemplified being born at the moment of his will, ie, manifesting in that pillar exactly at the moment when Prahlada mentioned him to be there.

Sri Ranga Ramanuja Muni adds – Sankalpasamaya eva karanAntara nairapEkshan chidachidrUpEna bhagavathO jAthvAth sadyojAthathvam, nAthibhavE – athishayEna nothpadhEya, mAm bhajasva – mAm anugrahAna.
Bhavasya – kAryavargasya uRdhvaH yasmAth thadrushAya namaH.


Mantra 135

vaamadevaaya namo jyeshhThaaya namaH| shreshhThaaya namo rudraaya
namaH kaalaaya namaH| kalavikaraNaaya namo balavikaraNaaya namo
balaaya namo balapramathaaya namaH| sarvabhuutadamanaaya namo
manonmanaaya namaH||

Meaning: Obeisance to vAmadEva, the auspicious God. Obeisance to the eldest (jyEshta). Obeisance to One who drives away the disease of samsArA (rudra). Obeisance to the destroyer (kAla). Obeisance to him who is the cause of causing the divisions of moment, muhurtA, etc of time. Obeisance to the One who strikes even the mighty. Obeisance to the One who subdues all living beings. Obeisance to the One who is the disturber of the mind.

‘vAmadEvA’ is mentioned to signify SrI rAmA as well in the nirvana khAnda of the skanda purAnA as follows - ‘vAmadEvaH praTishtAyA vAsanAm tanumAsritam’. He is vAmadEvA as he is auspicious. He is manomanAya pertaining to his nAmam as ‘hrshikEsha’. He is the destroyer (kAla) as per the Gita 11.32 ‘kAlosmi lOkakshaya’.

The purpose of this mantra is to show that paramAtma is the supreme ruler and the master of the universe. None can oppose him. His power is immeasurably greater than others, He saves his devotees from migration in samsArA. Nobody can stand before him as an equal and he crushes the asurAs ruthlessly as he did hiranyakasipu, rAvana and the entire kaurava army.


Mantra 136

aghorebhyo.atha ghorebhyo ghoraghoratarebhyaH | sarvataH sharvasarvebhyo namaste astu rudraruupebhyaH||

Meaning: O paramAtmA known as Sarva! Obeisance to those auspicious forms of yours that are not terrible, or terrible or terribly terrible. Obeisance to you, who has these forms bestowing good.

The terms ‘aghOrEbhyO’, ‘ghOrEbhyO’ and ‘ghoraghoratarebhyAH’ signify all the Universes and all the things, ie, sentient and insentient that are present within these universes, which are classed as terrible, auspicious, or terribly terrible and these are saluted as the body of sriman nArAyaNa. This is as per the brihadAraNyaka which states ‘yasya AtmA sarIram’ and ‘yasya prithvi sarIram’, and the subalOpanishad, which states ‘esha sarvabhUtAntarAtma apahatapApma divyO deva eko nArAyaNaH’.

This mantra confirms that the universe and all within it constitute the body, ie, the forms of Bhagavan. Thus, all these forms are forms of Rudra (rudrarupEbhyaH). Rudra denotes nArAyaNa as does Sarva. These names has been explained earlier.


Mantra 137

tatpurushhaaya vidmahe mahaadevaaya dhiimahi . tanno rudraH||
prachodayaat.h||

Meaning: We meditate upon that Purusha (nArAyaNa) (OR) we meditate on that pArvati pati rudra who belongs to nArAyaNa. For that we pray to mahAdEva (pArvati pati rudradeva). May that Rudra fulfil it by motivating us.

Here, the Rudra gAyatri is mentioned because the shAstras say that pArvati pati Rudra grants knowledge of Brahman. So, the Upanishad exhorts the upAsaka, ie, the bhakti yogi, to pray to pArvati pati and attain the knowledge of nArAyaNa through him.
Bhagavatam says ‘vaishnavam yatha shambhu:’ Uma is a teacher of the devas in the kenOpanishad. We also have shAstra vAkyams like ‘shankarOpAsanasya bhagavathupAsanahEtuthvAth’ and ‘jnAnam iccheth sankarAth’. So, pArvati pati imparts jnAnA about nArAyaNa to the upAsakAs.

The relevance of praying to pArvati pati rudra for brahma jnAnam is also established in another way by Vishnu and Garuda purAnAs. The Vishnu Purana says Narasimha is an amSha of Samkarshana vyUha of BhagavAn. The Garuda Purana declares that pArvati pati rudra is in the penultimate stage of bhakti yOgA presided by sankarshana murthi (known as prajna in the mAndukya Upanishad). So, as the Upanishad mantras talk of narasimhA and pArvati pati is meditating on Sankarshana, the context is established.

‘TatpurushA’ is interpreted in two ways. If we take it as ‘sa chAsou purushashcha’, it refers to nArAyaNa, who is the purusha of the veda. If we interpret ‘Tatpurusha’ as indicating pArvati pati rudra directly, it is taken as ‘tasya paramAtmanaH purushAya’, ie, ‘Rudra, who belongs to that paramAtmA’. As per ‘yasya AtmA sarIram’ all entities are the body of nArAyaNa and are vibhUtIs belonging to him. ‘Tat’ signifies nArAyaNa, the parabrahman only as per ‘Om tatsadhithi nirdeshaH’.

The grace of pArvati pati is invoked by bhakti yOgIs to progress in their bhakti towards nArAyaNa. Note that the Vishnu gAyatri, unlike the other gAyatris contains ‘nArAyaNa’ and not ‘tatpurusha’ thereby identifying vishnu with nArAyaNa himself.


Mantra 138

iishaanaH sarvavidyaanaamiishvaraH sarvabhuutaanaaM|
brahmaadhipatirbrahmaNo.adhipatirbrahmaa shivo me astu sadaashivom.h||

Meaning: The Lord of all branches of knowledge, the Lord of all living beings, the Supreme master of the vedas, the Lord of Chaturmukha Brahma, the One who has Brahma as his body, the One who is ever free from anything defiling, the One who is signified by the syllable OM, may he be the bestower of good for me.

As mentioned previously, the Narasimha tApAniya refers to Narasimha as ‘IshAnas sarvavidyAnAm’. SadAshivaH means sarvadA niravadhyaH. BrahmA means one who has BrahmA as his body (yasya AtMA sarIram – br.Up and jagath sarvam sarIram tE – vAlmiki rAmAyaNa). shivOmeastu means shivapradhOstu. OM refers to praNavavAchyan, who is nArAyaNa. Or, OM also means the one (nArAyaNa), whose name is praNava.

This ends the pancha brahma mantras. It may be remarked that after this, the next mantra belonging to the couplet known as trisuparna mantras address BhagavAn as ‘Soma’. This name too is a name of nArAyaNa as ‘Soma’ means – southi uthpAdaya thithi sOmaH and hence denotes paramAtmA. Sri ranga rAmAnuja muni adds – yA prajAH tAH sarvO tE tava sEshabhUthA ityartha.

Even the meaning ‘Sa Uma’ for Soma denotes nArAyaNa as mentioned previously in ‘umApatayE ambikapatayE’.

MANTRAS IN THE SVETASVATARA UPANISHAD

Here there are some mantras that designate paramAtmA as Rudra. These too refer to nArAyaNa only. Since a detailed explanation has already been provided, a brief account will suffice here.

Mantras 3.5 and 3.6 are also part of Shri Rudram and have been explained in the Shri Rudram section. They will not be explained here.


Mantra 3.4

yo devaanaaM prabhavashchodbhavashcha vishvaadhipo rudro maharshhiH |
hiraNyagarbha.n janayaamaasa puurva.n sa no buddhyaa shubhayaa sa.nyunaktu ||

Meaning: May that Rudra, who is the cause of the origination of gods, who is the cause of their glory, who transcends this entire world, who is a great seer (ie, omniscient) and who created Hiranyagarbha first, unite us with an auspicious mind.

The etymological meaning of Rudra has already been explained and this is a name of nArAyaNa (rudrO bahushirA babhru: as per Vishnu SahasranAmA). And we have pramAnAs like nArAyaNat brahma jAyatE to show that Brahma was born of nArAyaNa only. He is called ‘maharishiH’ as he is omniscient.


Mantra 3.11

sarvaanana shirogriivaH sarvabhuutaguhaashayaH |
sarvavyaapii sa bhagavaa.nstasmaat.h sarvagataH shivaH||

Meaning: Having the faces, heads and necks of all as his, he resides in the cave of the hearts of all entities. Bhagavan is pervading everything. Therefore he is everywhere and also auspicious.

As per ‘yasya AtmA sarIram’ and ‘yasya prithvi sarIram’ (Br.Up), all bodies are his bodies and hence, he has all faces, heads and necks.  The term ‘shiva’ signifies he is free of all defects. Shiva is a name of nArAyaNa (sarvaH sharvaH shivassthAnu in the Vishnu sahasraNAma).


Mantra 4.10

maayaa.n tu prakR^iti.n vidyaanmaayina.n cha maheshvaram.h |
tasyavayavabhuutaistu vyaapta.n sarvamida.n jagat.h ||

Meaning: Prakrti is to be known as mAyA. The great Lord (MaheshwarA) is the mover of mAyA. All this universe is pervaded by the jivAs (ie, they fill the universe) who are his inseparable attributes.

‘MahEshwarA’ is also a name of nArAyaNa which simply means ‘great lord’. Furthermore, since nArAyaNa alone is signified by AkAra  (akArasya visnoH), he is denoted by the meaning of the name ‘mahEshwara’ and hence, that name belongs to him.

The words of Krishna are relevant in this context, vide, mama mAyA durataya (Gita – 7.14) and sarva loka mahEshwaram (Gita – 5.29) which establish beyond a doubt that nArAyaNa is referred to by this mantra as mahEshwara.


Mantra 4.21

ajaata ityeva.n kashchidbhiiruH prapadyate |
rudra yatte dakshiNaM mukha.n tena maaM paahi nityam.h ||

Meaning: O Rudra (driver of the disease of samsArA), knowing that you are unborn, I, a cursed one, afraid of samsArA, meditate upon your face that is full of compassion. Save me always from samsArA, being pleased with this meditation.

‘Rudra’ means ‘samsArarugdrAvakaH’ and hence, the term ‘Rudra’ refers to nArAyaNa. He is ajaata, ie, not subject to birth and others. ‘DakshinaM mukhan prapadyathe’ is the prose order - ‘dAkshinyashAli prabuddhamugdhAmbhujachArulochanam’ and ‘shuchismitham komalagandamunasam lalAtaparyanthavilambithAlakam mukham dhyAyAmi’. ‘prapadyatE’ means ‘prapadyE’.


Mantra 4.22
maa nastoke tanaye maa na aayushhi maa no goshhu maa na ashveshhu riirishhaH |
viiraan.h maa no rudra bhaamito vadhiirhavishhmantaH sadaamit.h tvaa havaamahe ||

Meaning: O Rudra (driver of the disease of samsArA), do not harm us, we who are interested in our children or longevity of life of interested in cattle or in horses. Being angry, do not harm the vigorous ones such as jnAnA and vairAgya. We do worship you alone always bringing oblations in the assembly.

The meaning of this mantra is that the seeker of brahman asks nArAyaNa to not harm him (ie, bind him to samsArA and the chains of punya/pApa karmas) even if he (the upAsaka) desires children, cattle or horses. This is because articles such as children, cattle or horses are required as accessories for the development of bhakti yoga. Since bhakti yoga has karma and jnAna yoga as ancillaries, these items come in use for the performance of karma yoga. The upAsaka further says that “You (nArAyaNa) are also worshipped by the kamya karmas”.

bhaamith: refers to the anger of bhagavan on account of our offenses.
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This ends the article. I hope readers find it informative. It is an unbiased interpretation, fully compatible with accepted rules of grammer, adhering faithfully to context, supported by quotations from authentic texts and provided by srI ranga rAmAnuja muni, whose knowledge and status among vedAntins is unquestionable.