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Interpretation of Satapatha and Kaushitaki Brahmanas regarding the birth of Rudra

Note: Since interpretation of the brahmaNas is a difficult task, I take refuge in srI vedAnta desikan, known as vedAntAchAryA, kavi tArkika simham and sarva tantra svatantarar, whose srI suktIs are sufficient to make even an ignorant person understand the tattvams, who declared that by mere knowledge of the sarIrAtma bhAva, one would never be defeated in debate, thus establishing the greatness of bhagavad rAmAnujAchAryA.

It is well known that Vaishnavas, ie, vedAntins declare that Rudra is a jivAtmA. The pramANas for this come from such sources as the mahOpanishad which states Ishana (Rudra) to be absent during praLaya (eko ha vai nArAyaNa asIt, na Brahma, nEshana), the nArAyaNopanishad which emphasises “nArAyaNAt rudrO jAyatE” and of course, the satapaTha brahmaNa which talks about the birth of Rudra very explicitly and in which Rudra calls himself “anapahatapApma”, ie, not freed from pApa karmas.
The persistent argument of our opponents is this – that the brahmaNas are not to be taken literally, that it is a metaphorical interpretation, that Rudra is a “manifestation” and range from imaginative theories like Prajapati being equated to space and Usha being equated to Time, and Rudra transcending everything – you get the general picture.
While we certainly agree that the brahmaNas have inner meanings, we might point out that the knowledgeable AchAryAs like srI vedAnta desika, who doubtless had realised the essence of vedA and vedAnta, have pointed out that this is nothing more than a description of the birth of Rudra who is a jivAtma still in samsara. While both camps are agreed that these mantras talk about Shiva, the Shaivites argue the following:
  1. “anapahatapApmatvam” is spoken in play by Rudra, in reality it is the “incest” of prajApati and usha that is the sin.
  2. The “anapahatapApmatvam” is only mentioned in the satapatha brahmaNa and not in the kaushitaki brahmaNa which mentions the birth of Rudra. So apparently, we must consider “anapahatapApmatvam” as either metaphorical or as spoken in jest.
  3. The 8 names of Rudra actually purified Prajapati who committed the sin of “incest”.
Before embarking on a detailed analysis and demolition derby of these viewpoints, I will summarize the Vaishnava counter:
It is true that there is a deep inner meaning to all these stories. However, even when vedic usage involves metaphors, words like “anapahatapApma” cannot be interpreted in anyway except in a literal sense. Shaivites say Prajapati is space and Usha is Time, and that the rudra born is God who rules over these. Despite these metaphors, they still ascribe the “anapahatapApmatvam” to Prajapati because he committed incest, ie, they take incest and sin literally. If Prajapati and Usha are metaphors for space and time, then incest and sins must also be metaphors. But then, why is the sin and  incest taken literally here whereas both literal and metaphorical meanings are given to Prajapati and Usha?  This shows that words like “anapahatapApma” cannot be interpreted as metaphors by even Shaivas. They have a literal meaning and in this context, Rudra attributes this “anapahatapApmatva” to himself, not to Prajapati. We shall see this later.
No word in the Veda is ever spoken in jest and cannot be omitted. If “anapahatapApmatvam” occurs in one BrahmaNa and does not occur in the other, there is a reason for it. That will also be mentioned.
The 8 names were indeed given to Rudra to purify him.
Key behind interpreting brahmaNas
The brahmaNas are often descriptions of sacrificial rituals. In other places, there are true incidents interspersed with them. So, there are three ways to interpreting these:
  1. Some incidents really did happen and are taken literally. But they also have a metaphorical meaning which is also valid.
  2. Some incidents are entirely metaphorical.
  3. Some incidents are half–literal (ie, historical) and half-metaphorical in description.
There are 3 incidents involving “prajApati” and “rudra” in the satapaTha brahmaNa. We shall interpret all 3.
Satapatha BrahmaNa  - Incident One – PrajApati’s Incest and Rudra’s punishment
prajāpatirha vai svāṃ duhitaramabhidadhyau | divaṃ oṣasaṃ vā mithunyenayā
syāmiti tāṃ sambabhūva |” (Satapatha Brahmana 1:7:4:1-2)
“Pragâpati conceived a passion for his own daughter,--either the Sky or the Dawn. 'May I pair with her!' thus (thinking) he united with her. This, assuredly, was a sin”.
“The gods then said to this god who rules over the beasts (Rudra) 'This one, surely, commits a sin who acts thus towards his own daughter, our sister. Pierce him!' Rudra, taking aim, pierced him. Half of his seed fell to the ground. And thus it came to pass.”
This incident talks of Brahma uniting with his own daughter. This is briefly alluded to in the Bhagavata purAnA as well.
The being that pierced Brahma is called “paShupati” here. The mahAnArAyaNa Upanishad refers to anger as “paShu”. Therefore, the “paShu” referred to here is anger, or more accurately, rajO guNam, which is often described as “anger” in the text.
So, who is paShupati then? The deity that presides over rajO guNam designated as paShu, is paShupati. In other words, it is kAmadEva, the presiding deity of rajO guNam!
If so, why is kAmadEva referred to as Rudra? Because the term Rudra means “One who makes others weep”. The “weeping” is nothing but a metaphor for attachments to sorrows of samsara.When kAmadEva targets anybody, that individual will be overcome by rajO guNa and hence, experience pain and pleasure. Thus, Rudra here refers to kAmadEva as well.
Who are the devas who asked kAmadEva to pierce Brahma? We can either take it as the mind-sons of Brahma, who were disgusted with the act, or metaphorically, “dEva” could refer to the sattva guNams or the indrIyas which experience as well, which would be an enemy of the one who commits sin, ie, pApa karmas, which in this case is Brahma who desired his own daughter.
Why did kAmadEva pierce Brahma AFTER he had shown desire for his daughter? After all, is it not the duty of kAmadEva to induce love rather than piercing his victims after desire rises?  
The answer is that kAmadEva causes anger, and other qualities of rajO guNam after initial lust has risen. The pramAnams justify this fact, as below.
We must understand that kAmadEva” is referred to as “paShupati” and “rudra”, terms which signify anger and attachments which are consequence of lust. PrajApati did indeed commit a sin by desiring his own daughter. Therefore, the devas, who represent sattva guNam, decided to punish him by ensuring that he would be ensnared by his own attachments and succumb to rajO guNam.
In the Gita slOka - 2.62, it is said that anger arises from lust. The mahAnArAyaNopanishad declares “paShu” to be anger. Hence, “paShupati” or kAmadEva, the presiding deity of anger or rajO guNa, strikes with the arrow after lust has arisen.
The arrow of kAmadEva thus, signifies the aftermath of desire, which is frustration, anger and inability to wean oneself away from such attachments. In this respect, remember that the sorrows suffered by srI rAmA happened after he sighted the golden deer. Swami VedAnta dEsikan summarizes it thusly- attachment leads to desire in the same way that srI rAmA was attached to Sita and desired the deer for her. Desire leads to sorrow anger and frustration, which was experienced by srI rAmA when Sita was kidnapped.
(Here AchAryA very beautifully adds that sitA-rAmA are sAkshAt Lakshmi-nArAyaNa, devoid of attachments, so there is no blemish here. This was just play-acting by them to reveal the tattvams of the vedAntA).
The aitrEya brahmaNa also mentions that the gods created this Rudra/PaShupati from the most terrible parts of themselves. This means, the devas who represent the sattva guNa or the experience of the indrIyas took their worst proportions, ie, the tAmasa and rAjasa guNas, to create this presiding deity of rajO guNa.
Lastly, note that the usage of “prajApati” and “ushas” itself supports this interpretation. “prajApati” – One who possesses prajas, ie, the jivA who possesses attachments. “ushas” – root is “ush” which refers to heat, ie, desire or rajO guNa.
Satapatha BrahmaNa – Incident 2- The Birth of Rudra
tadyāni tāni bhūtāni | ṛtavaste 'tha yaḥ sa bhūtānām patiḥ saṃvatsaraḥ so 'tha yā soṣāḥ
patnyauṣasī |(Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:8)
Now, those beings are the seasons; and that lord of beings (prajapati) is the year; and that Ushas, the mistress, is the Dawn.”
sā tānīmāni bhūtāni ca bhūtānāṃ ca patiḥ saṃvatsara uṣasi reto 'siñcantsa
saṃvatsare kumāro 'jāyata so 'rodīt|” (Shatapatha Brahmana 6:1:3:8)
“And these same creatures, as well as the lord of beings, the year, laid seed into Ushas. There a boy (kumâra) was born in a year, he cried.”
am prajāpatirabravīt | kumāra kiṃ rodiṣi yacramāttapaso 'dhi jāto 'sīti so
'bravīdanapahatapāpmā vā asmyahitanāmā nāma ma dhehīti tasmātputrasya jātasya
nāma kuryātpāpmānamevāsya tadapahantyapi dvitīyamapi tṛtīyamabhipūrvamevāsya
tatpāpmānamapahanti |” (Satapatah Brahmana 6:1:3:9)
“Pragâpati said to him, 'My boy, why criest thou, when thou art born out of labour and trouble?' He said, 'Nay, but I am not freed from (guarded against) evil; I have no name given me: give me a name!' Hence one should give a name to the boy that is born, for thereby one frees him from evil;--even a second, even a third (name), for thereby one frees him from evil time after time”
This incident is very straightforward. SrI nigamAntha mahA desikan interprets it as the birth of pArvati pati only. This is even accepted by shaivas. The only counter arguments our opponent gives is by quoting Incident 1 and saying Rudra was already present.
“anapahatapApma” means “not freed from sins”. This is the best translation.
That argument is demolished. The first incident talked about kAmadEva. This incident talks about what happened afterwards. PrajApati after marrying his daughter was able to get rid of his pApa karmas caused due to incest by his tapas and good conduct. Then, he begot a son. This son clearly refers to himself as “anapahatapApma”, ie, having pApa karmas (evil or sin is a loose translation; “papa” means papa karmas).
Note that prajApati himself tells this boy that the birth was one born of tapas. That means any contamination of incest was wiped out by tapas and appropriate prAyaschitta. This rules out attributing “anapahatapApmatva” to incest.
In any case, it is very clear that the pApa karmas belong to Rudra only since he himself claims that he is not freed from sins. So, there is no scope of transferring anapahatapApmatva to prajApati or anyone else. 
 Note that Rudra's statement reads as "anapahatapApmA vA asmi" and not as "anapahatapApmA vA asi". Only if the latter was the case, it can be said that the sin is PrajApati's and not Rudra's. Moreover, the Satapatha concludes this incident by saying,  
"tasmāt putrasya jātasya nāma kuryāt pāpmānameva asya tadapahanti" 
[Hence, one should *give a name to the boy that is born*, for thereby one *frees him from sin*]. 
In other words, the Satapatha uses the incident where Brahma gives names to Rudra to show that naming a new born son frees the son from sin. If Brahma gave Rudra eight names to free *himself* from sin, this conclusion would not make any sense.
Being a jnAni, Rudra was intelligent from infancy himself and recognising his pitiable state of being born in samsara, cried. He was then given auspicious names which existed even prior to him.
Since Rudra is the presiding deity of the mind, all 8 names have connections with the mind. This etymology is enough to show that the boy here is none other than pArvati pati, the presiding deity of the mind. Of course, these are also bhagavad nAmAs. He has named himself out of devotion for Narasimha who possesses these names. After all, Draupadi was also called Krishna because of her blackish complexion!
There is another argument. Some say that this kumara is indeed born of karma, but is not pArvati pati. He is actually Agni. This is refuted as well. The kumara is called Agni here because Agni means “agra nEtA” – One who leads. Since this kumara is the presiding deity of the mind, he is identified (owing to close association) with the mind that leads the other senses.
These are the 8 forms of agni, ie, 8 descriptions of the mind. Each time the kumara was given a name, he attained control over his mind and by virtue of his punya, control over the elements by pervading them with his intellect. That explains why with each name, some aspect of nature is mentioned.
Now, let us see what the 8 statements of the name giving ceremony mean.
The 8 names of pArvati pati
(Note: This translation adheres to vishishtadvaita vedAnta of yati sArvabhouma and rejects the shallow online translations available for this section).
tamabravīdrudro 'sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodagnistadrūpamabhavadagniva rudro yadarodīttasmādrudraḥ ( Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-10 )
Meaning: You are Rudra, One who weeps because he knew he was not freed from pApa karmAs at the time of his birth. And because he gave him that name, Agni,  ie, the mind that leads  (agra nEta- agni) the indrIyas, became of such a nature (ie, of the form of making us weep in experience of objects of enjoyment), for Rudra (pArvati pati) is (closely associated with) Agni (the mind that leads the indrIyas).
tamabravītsarvo 'sīti | tadyadasya tannāmākarodāpastadrūpamabhavannāpo vai sarvo
'dbhyo hīdaṃ sarvaṃ jāyate ( Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-11)

 Meaning: You are Sarva, ie, He whose intellect (dharma bhUta jnAnA) pervades everywhere throughout the body, channelled by the mind or as he knows all.' And because he gave him that name, water or the subtle elements constituting the indrIyas  (Apa) became of such a nature (ie, perceiving all through intellect) for Sarva (pArvati pati with great intellect) is (ie, possesses) the indrIyas constituted by the subtle elements (Apa), in as much as from the indrIyas constituted by subtle elements (Apa) everything, ie, experiences resulting from objects of enjoyment (sarva) here is produced (perceived and enjoyed)."

“Water” in shruti denotes the subtle elements. The tanmAtras in turn correspond to the indrIyas.

támabravītpaśupátirasī́ti tadyádasya tannāmā́karodóṣadʰayastádrūpámabʰavannóṣadʰayo vaí paśupátistásmādyadā́ paśáva óṣadʰīrlábʰante 'tʰá patīyanti ( Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-12)
Meaning: You are Pasupati, ie, possessor (pati) of anger (paShu) arising from attachments of the mind ,' And because he gave him that name, medicine that is the experience of Brahman (aushadha) became of such a nature (ie, of the form of being medicine for the attachments paShupati), for Pasupati (pArvati pati who is the possessor of anger) is (ie, possesses) medicine of the form of experience of Brahman (aushada). Hence when indrIyas characterised by anger or experience of sense objects (pasava) get medicine (oushada), then they oblige the master (pati). 
támabravīdugrò 'sī́ti tadyádasya tannāmā́karodvāyustádrūpámbʰavadvāyurvā́ ugrastásmādyadā bálavadvā́yugró vātótyāhuḥ sò 'bravījjyā́yānvā áto 'smi dʰehyèvá me nāméti (( Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-13)
Meaning: “You are Ugra, ie, One who is of lofty intellect. And because he gave him that name, the mind which moves, ie, swayed towards attachments and moves away from knowledge (vAyu) became of such a nature (ie, tameable by the intellect of Ugra) , for Ugra (pArvati pati who has lofty intellect) is (closely associated with) is the mind which moves away from true knowledge and towards attachments (vAyu): hence when it (the mind) blows strongly (ie, lacks concentration), they say 'Ugra (the one of lofty intellect) is blowing (ie, swayed by the mind).' 
támabravīdaśánirasī́ti tadyádasya tannāmā́karodvidyuttádrūpámabʰavadvidyudvā́ aśánistásmādyáṃ vidyuddʰántyaśánirabadʰīdítyāhuḥ sò 'bravījjyā́yānvā áto 'smi dʰehyèvá me nāméti (Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-14)
Meaning: You are Asani, ie, One whose mind is sharp as a thunderbolt due to meditation (Ashani). And because he gave him that name, the mind which is quick as lightning because of the difficulty in concentrating on one thought (vidyut) became of such a nature (ie, of the form of being sharpened by meditation for pArvati pati) , for Asani (pArvati pati who is of sharpened mind) is (closely associated with) the mind that is quick as lightning (vidyut)  :  Hence they say of him whom the lightning strikes (ie, the target that is Brahman to be attained by the mind which is quick as lightning), 'Asani (One of concentrated mind), has smitten him (ie, the target of the mind that is Brahman) .'
The Upanishads speak of Brahman as the target of the mind that is like a sharpened arrow by meditation. Hence, “lightning strikes” is a metaphor for the mind focusing on Brahman.
támabravīdbʰavò 'sī́ti tadyádasya tannāmā́karotparjányastádrūpámabʰavatparjányo vaí bʰaváḥ parjányāddʰī̀daṃ sárvam bʰávati sò 'bravījjyā́yānvā áto 'smi dʰehyèvá me nāméti (Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-15)
Meaning: You are Bhava, ie, Producer of the Intellect, ie dharma bhUta jnAnA channelled through the mind.  And because he gave him that name, the mind which is like a rain cloud in drawing intellect like water from the jivA and chanelling it like rain (Parjanya) became of such a nature (ie, a producer or channeller of intellect for pArvati pati); for Bhava (pArvati pati from whom intellect emerges) is (closely associated with) the mind that channels intellect like a raincloud giving rain (Parjanya), since all experience of objects of enjoyment here comes (bhavati) from the mind that channels the intellect like rain from a raincloud (parjanya).

támabravīnmahā́ndevò 'sī́ti tadyádasya tannāmā́karoccandrámāstádrūpámabʰavatprajā́patirvaí candrámāḥ prajā́patirvaí mahā́ndevaḥ sò 'bravījjyā́yānvā ato 'smi dʰehyèvá me nāméti (Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-16)
Meaning: You are mahAn deva, ie, One who sports, ie, enjoys the objects of enjoyment (dEvA) by his great or manifold intellect (mahAn or mahaT).  .' And because he gave him that name, the mind which is pleasing as it enables experience of Brahman or pleasurable objects (chandramA) became of such a nature (ie, provider of bliss for pArvati pati), for the pleasing mind (chandramA) is the master of sense organs designated as “praja” (prajApati) and  the possessor of objects of enjoyment designated as “prajA” (prajApati) is pArvati pati who has the manifold intellect to enjoy all such objects (mahAn dEva).
támabravīdī́śāno 'sī́ti tadyádasya tannāmā́karodādityastádrūpámabʰavadādityo vā ī́śāna ādityo hyásya sárvasyéṣṭe sò 'bravīdetā́vānvā́ asmi mā métaḥ paro nā́ma dʰā íti (Sathapatha Brahmana VI-1-3-17)
Meaning: “You are IshAna, ie, the controller of the mind. And because he gave him that name, the mind which is luminous like the sun as it channels the luminous attributive knowledge, ie, dharma bhUta jnAnA like the sun-rays (Aditya) became of such nature (ie, controlled by pArvati pati, the controller), for ÎshAna (pArvati pati, the controller of the mind) is (closely associated with) the mind which channels the sun-like intellect (aditya), since the mind which channels the sun like intellect (adityA) rules over this All, ie, enables experience of all that is to be experienced. He said, 'So great indeed I am: give me no other name after that!'
And this clearly shows that pArvati pati, the presiding deity of the mind, was born of karma and cleansed by giving names. The names were linked to the characteristics of the mind. By virtue of his punya karma, his dharma bhUta jnAna (attributive knowledge channelled by the mind) increased each time he was given the name. Since intellect only increases by destruction of pApa karmas, it is clear that these names were given because pArvati pati was not yet cleansed of karma (anapahatapApma).
So this proves, 1) This kumara is pArvati pati, 2) He was not cleansed of pApa karmas, 3) He is not the rudra/paShupati who pierced prajApati in the previous incident, 3) He attained great expansion in dharma bhUta jnAna, ie, intellect by purification of his pApa karmas when the name giving was performed.
The great AcHAryan, srI nigamAntha mahA desikan, has quoted this incident in his isavAsya Upanishad bhAshya and declared that the “Isa” praised there is not pArvati pati, who has a birth, but nArAyaNa, whom the subalOpanishad hails as “Isha sarvabhUtAntarAtma apahatapApma divyO deva eko nArAyaNaH”.
Kaushitaki and Shatapatha BrahmaNa – Incident 3 – The Rudra with a thousand heads and feet
tasminn.enat.samasiñcat | tata.udatiṣṭhat.sahasra.akṣaḥ.sahasra.pāt | sahasreṇa.pratihitābhiḥ |
sa.prajāpatim.pitaram.abhyāyacchat | tam.abravīt.kathā.mā.abhyāyacchasi.iti | nāīt | na.vā.idam.avihitena.nāmnā.annam.atsyāmi.iti | (Kaushitaki Brahmana 6:02)
“The god (Rudra), with a thousand heads and legs is born at a sacrificial session and out of a golden bowl held by prajapati. Arisen the overpowering figure (Rudra) who grasped the father. Prajapati asked, ‘Why dost you grasp me?’ He replied, ‘Given a name’, saying, ‘For without a name assigned, I shall not eat food here in this world’.”
“śataśīrṣā rudraḥ sahasrākṣaḥ śateṣudhiradhijyadhanvā pratihitāyī bhīṣayamāṇo
'tiṣṭhadannamicamānastasmāddevā abibhayuḥ | te prjāpatimabruvan | asmādvai bibhīmo yadvai no 'yaṃ na hiṃsyāditi so 'bravīdannamasmai sambharata tenainaṃ śamayateti tasmā etadannaṃ samabharañcatarudriyaṃ |” (Satapatha Brahmana 9:1:1:6-7)
"This Rudra with a thousand heads, thousand eyes, and thousand quivers, stood with his bow strung, and his arrows fitted on the string, causing terror, and demanding food. The gods were afraid of him. They said to Prajapati,:'We are afraid of this being, lest he destroy us.' Prajapati said to them: 'Collect for him food, and with it appease him.' They collected for him this food, the satarudriya."  
This has already been interpreted on this website
A similar incident detailing the birth of "rudra" also occurs in shailAli brAhmaNa. Madhvas usually quote this shailAli brAhmaNa incident and the shatarudrIya brAhmaNa (in Satapatha 9:1:1:6-7 shown above) to show the jIva-hood of Rudra. Such a direct interpretation is also favored by a few Srivaishnava Vidwans as well. However, we do not favor a direct interpretation and instead go for a metaphorical one, due to certain reasons that we will see shortly.
“PrajApati” here signifies the jivAtmA in samsArA, which is the possessor (pati) of attachments signified by “praja”. The name “Rudra” means, “One who causes weeping”. Therefore, the Rudra here is not pArvati pati, but the mind which causes crying or attachments to objects of the senses (signified by crying). Since the mind channels the vast intellect that experiences the objects of enjoyment, it is described as possessing a thousand heads and feet. We should note that rAvaNa was “dasamukha” because he had double the senses and was a slave to them.
Alternatively, the Rudra collectively refers to mind and all sense organs, represented by a thousand quivers.
The golden vessel refers to rajO guNa. The vessel represents the guNa and the golden color signifies the objects of enjoyment that causes rajO guNa. Since these objects appear very desirable, the color is said to be golden. SrI vedAnta desika explains this as follows in his isavAsyOpanishad bhAshya:
hiranmayena pAtrEna satyasyApihitam mukham
tat tvam pUshan apAvrNu satya-dharmAya drStaye (~Isavasya Upanishad)
Meaning: The face, ie, mind of jivAtmA (Satya) is covered by the golden vessel (ie, rajas). O Pushan (nArAyaNa designated as pushan), do remove that (cover of the mind) for the sake of perceiving Brahman, which is the function (dharma) of the jivAtmA (satya).
Pushan signifies nArAyaNa who is sarva shabda vAchyan. These words, being common nouns, either directly denote nArAyaNa, or denote him via the fact that these deities are his body and he is sarvAntarAtma.
satyadharmaya - As per the shAstra vAkyams such as "satyam chAnrutham cha satyambhavath" and "satyasya satyam", the term 'satya' here denotes the jivAtmA. 'Dharma' denotes the dharma bhUta jnAnA of the jivAtmA, which when expanded sufficiently, can perceive Brahman, ie, brahmAnubhavadarshanAya.
Satyasya mukham - The mind of jivA, denoted as 'mukham' is covered by the golden vessel. Meaning, the intellect of the jivA, ie, its dharma bhUta jnAnA used to experience paramAtmA is blocked by rajas. This rajas is described as a golden vessel since 'golden' signifies 'rAga', ie, attachment towards objects of enjoyment, which is the cause of rajas. Not to be confused with the fact that rajo guna is also denoted by red color during creation.
In that sense, 'hiranmaya' describes the objects of enjoyment depending on karma. So, Bhagavan is resorted to in this mantra to destroy the obstacles to samAdhi via bhakti yoga, which has karma and jnAna yogas as ancillories.
Why are the indrIyas, ie, Rudra, angry? It means that the indrIyas are being swayed towards objects of enjoyment by the rajO guNa (golden vessel) of the jivA (prajApati). Hence, they want food. What is food demanded by the indrIyAs? It is nothing but engaging the indrIyas in bhagavad vishaya, which is diversion from attachments. Who are the devas who offered the indrIyas this food? The sAttvic tendencies. What is this food? The “satarudrIyam”, which is a praise of Lakshmi Narasimha, that consists of 11 anuvAkAs (one for each indrIya), which appeases the indrIyas by weaning them away from attachment by making them sing his praises.
That is exactly what is also seen in the satapatha brahmaNa:
athātaḥ śatarudriyaṃ juhoti | atraiṣa sarvo 'gniḥ saṃskṛtaḥ sa eṣo 'tra rudro devatā tasmindevā etadamṛtaṃ rūpamuttamamadadhuḥ sa eṣo 'tra dīpyamāno 'tiṣṭhadannamicamānastasmāddevā abibhayuryadvai no 'yaṃ na hiṃsyāditi "
Meaning: "Now offer an oblation with the 'Satarudriya'. Here this universal fire has been prepared; and here this Rudra (the mind) is the devatA ie, the mind that sports or experiences (dEva). In him the gods (the indriyAs) placed this most excellent nectarine form, ie, the objects of enjoyment that are like nectar to the jivA (amRtarUpamadhuH). Here he rose up flaming (ie, the mind full of passion or rajO guNa), desiring food (occupation of the mind to wean away from attachments). The gods (indrIyas or sattva guNa) were afraid of him, 'lest' (they thought) 'he should destroy us'." (ie, the mind may cause the indrIyas to indulge in material matters and thus result in ignorance, which is akin to destruction of the jivA’s knowledge.
After this statement, the same 8 names are given in the kaushitaki brahmaNa. But there is a difference between this and the satapatha brahmaNa.
Because of the mention of “anapahatapApmatva” and the birth of a kumara in the Satapatha BrahmaNa, that incident talks about the birth of the presiding deity of the mind, ie pArvati pati. So. This incident has a literal interpretation of the birth of pArvati pati and metaphorical interpretation of the mind.
In the Kaushitaki BrahmaNa, the incident is not literal in any sense whatever. The Rudra of a thousand quivers, etc is only the mind and/or the indrIyas, with prajApati being the jivA. That is made clear by the mention of the golden vessel as well, signifying rajasa guNa. So, this incident is wholly metaphorical and only refers to the insentient mind (personified for the sake of metaphor) and not to the presiding deity. That is why anapahatapApmatvam is absent since sins cannot be attributed to the insentient mind.
If so, why are the same 8 names given in both kaushitaki and satapatha brahmaNas? It is because these names apply to both the insentient mind as well as pArvati pati Rudra, the presiding deity of the mind. So, in the kaushitaki brahmaNa, the names are given only to the mind, whereas in the satapatha brahmaNa, the names are given to pArvati pati in connection with the mind.
Further clarification on interpreting “Rudra” as the mind in Shatarudriya Brahmana
Consider this section of the Brahmana which describes the offering of Satarudriyam to Rudra:
If we take "sahasrAkshassahasrapAt" as rudra devata, then we have to admit that he is the devata for the Rudram despite his anapahatapApmatvam, which is impossible. Now, if we take it as the mind, it can be easily explained.
Here, we call the reader’s attention to these mantras:
[He offers, with, Vâg. S. XVI, 1], 'Reverence, O Rudra, be to thy wrath!' he thereby does reverence to that wrath which remained extended within him;--'And to thine arrow be reverence, and to both thine arms be reverence!' for it was by his arrow and his arms that he was inspiring fear.
This is the first mantra, first anuvaka. The sacrifice is done to appease the mind by praising bhagavan. Our acharyas say, by meditating on the fact that he was tied by yashoda, the knots that tie us to samsara would be untied. By meditating on him being born, we would no longer be born. (ref. janma karma ca me divyam vyAkhyAna)
This seems to follow a similar pattern. By praising his anger, our anger (ie, passion or rajO guNa) vanishes. By praising the arrows and arms which inspired fear in samudra rAja, our fear (due to attachments of mind) is gone. And so on. This interpretation is possible only if we take this as the mind and not pArvati pati.
Now, note another mantra that occurs.
Now some of these (formulas) have 'reverence' on both sides, and others on one side only;--more terrible and more unappeased, indeed, are those (Rudras) that have 'reverence' on both sides: on both sides he thereby appeases them by sacrifice, by reverence.
This has been quoted by Bhatta Bhaskara as proof that the Rudram refers to Shiva and the sanskrit text is as follows,
"te haite ghoratarA rudrA ubhayato- namaskArAH | athaite shAntatarA ye.anyataratonamaskArAH"
The vaishnava interpretation is this - "ghoratarA" does not mean "terrible". It means "sublime" or "venerable", ie, indicative of paratva. "shAntatarA" is interpreted in terms of "SantiH" nama in sahasranAma - He who is always calm despite the trespasses of the jivAs and hence, this is indicative of sousIlyam, ie, taking avataras and enduring asuras like sisupala, etc.
So, the namas in rudram which have double namaskArams allude to his greatness, whereas the single nAmas allude to his simplicity. The double namaskArams occur in the 2nd anuvaka, for instance because they stress on rakshagatva of bhagavAn. Protection is a display of supremacy, as only the supreme can protect.
Now, another question arises. Why are the names given to an insentient mind? In the case of pArvati pati, names were given to purify him of karma (and also to emphasise his presidency over the mind). But here, the mind is an insentient object, so why give names to it?
That is because the names are given only as a metaphor of the jivAtma recognising the nature of the mind. Since the whole incident is a metaphor, the jivA attached to objects of enjoyment (prajApati) under rajO guNa (golden vessel) recognises the wayward mind/indriyas (rudra of a thousand quivers) and such recognition is expressed by the names Rudra, Bhava, Asani, IshAna, etc. Each time the mind, personified, asks for a name, meaning, that the name giving stops only when the jivA recognises all the characteristics of the mind in its entirety.
The same etymological meanings hold for the names in both brahmaNas. The difference is that in Satapatha BrahmaNa, it was pAravti pati, the presiding deity of the mind, who is “anapahatapApma” and hence was named. Whereas here, it is the insentient mind whose characteristics are recognised by the names.
Let us now look at each of the 8 names given to the mind in the kaushitaki brahmaNa.
The 8 names of the mind
In the previous section, we saw the names of pArvati pati. This brahmaNa is actually an explanation of the tattvam behind the name giving of pArvati pati. Because, the names given to pArvati pati are all representative of characteristics of the mind.
So, the mind can also be called Bhava, Sarva, etc. Here, it is a metaphorical description of how the jivAtma recognises the characteristics of the mind to enable the former to concentrate the mind in meditation on Brahman.
sa.vai.tvam.ity.abravīd.bhava.eva.iti / yad.bhava.āpas.tena / (KB 6.2.2-3)
Meaning: You are Bhava, , ie, the mind which produces or channels the intellect (dharma bhUta jnAnA) for the mind (Bhava) pervades, ie, the intellect channelled by the mind pervades (apa) everywhere.'
sa.vai.tvam.ity.abravīt.śarva.eva.iti /yat.śarvo.agnis.tena / (KB 6.2.13-14)
Meaning: You are Sarva, ie, the mind that experiences all the objects of enjoyment (through the indrIyas), for the mind (Sarva) is the leader (agni) of the sense organs.
sa.vai.tvam.ity.abravīt.paśu.patir.eva.iti  yat.paśu.patir.vāyus.tena ( Kaushitaki Brahmana 6-2-25 )
Meaning: You are Pasupati, ie, the mind that possesses (pati) anger (paShu) arising from attachments of the mind ,' for the mind (pasupati) is that which moves (Vayu), ie, swayed towards attachments and moves away from knowledge.
sa.vai.tvam.ity.abravīd.ugra.eva.deva.iti yad.ugro.deva.oṣadhayo.vanaspatayas.tena (Kaushitaki Brahmana 6-2-37)
Meaning: You are Ugradeva, ie, the mind which sports, ie, enjoys the kalyAna guNams of Brahman (dEva) by virtue of lofty intellect (ugra) . For the mind (ugradEva) possesses (pati) desire (vana) for Brahman, designated as medicine (oushada) by virtue of its lofty intellect.
sa.vai.tvam.ity.abravīn.mahān.eva.deva.iti / yan.mahān.deva.ādityas.tena / (KB 6.3.5-6)
Meaning:You are MahAdEva, ie, the mind which sports (dEvA), ie, allows enjoyment when the jivA assumes several bodies by virtue of great or manifold intellect (mahAn or mahaT). For the mind (mahAdEva) is luminous like the sun (Aditya) as its knowledge pervades like the rays of the sun.
: sa.vai.tvam.ity.abravīd.rudra.eva.iti /  yad.rudraś.candramās.tena / (KB 6.13.8)
Meaning: You are Rudra, ie, the mind that makes us weep in enjoyment of bhagavad kalyAna guNams upon experience. For the mind (Rudra) is of an agreeable nature (chandramAs).
sa.vai.tvam.ity.abravīd.īśāna.eva.iti /  yad.īśāno.annam.tena /
Meaning: You are IsAna, ie, the mind that is the controller of the senses. For the mind (IsAna) is (ie, enjoyer of) food, ie, Brahman designated as “annam”.  
: sa.vai.tvam.ity.abravīd.aśanir.eva.iti / yad.aśanir.indras.tena / (KB 6.3.41-42)
Meaning: You are Ashani, ie, the mind that is sharp like a thunderbolt. For such a mind (Ashani) is excellent or foremost (Indra) as it is sharpened with meditation on Brahman.
As one can see, the names progressively describe the untameable mind being weaned away from attachments and finally engaging in meditation on Brahman. Hence, this whole episode is a metaphorical description of upAsaNa and does not refer to pArvati pati at all.
In contrast, the satapatha brahmaNa is a literal incident with inner meanings as well due to the presence of terms like “kumara” and “anapahatapApma” and is the birth of pArvati pati.
A summary of the tattvams elaborated here is also given in the satapatha brahmaNa as follows:
From Prajapati, when he had become enfeebled, the deities departed. Only one god, Manyu, did not leave him, but continued extended within him. He (Prajapati) wept. The tears which fell from him remained in that 'Manyu'. He became Rudra with a hundred heads, a hundred eyes, and a hundred quivers. Then the other drops which fell from him in unnumbered thousands entered into these worlds.They were called Rudras because they sprang from him when he had wept. This Rudra with a thousand heads, eyes, and quivers, stood with his bow strung,and arrows on the string, causing terror, and demanding food. The gods were afraid of him. They said to Prajapati,:'We are afraid of this being, lest he destroy us.' Prajapati said to them: 'Collect for him food, and with it appease him.' They collected for him this food, the satarudriya (~Satapatha BrahmaNa,
Note that it says PrajApati became enfeebled. What it means is that even when the jivA grows old and all deities (ie, vital organs, strength, etc) depart, only one remains – Manyu. Which means, what remains is anger, or attachment, which is ever present with the jivA even when he is about to die. This is exactly what srI Adi Shankara mentions in Bhaja Govindam – that youth departs, but attachments still remain!
The weeping refers to the frustration or anger due to lack of fulfilment of the attachments which cause the waywardness of the indrIyas. The other meanings remain the same.
Thus ,thesatapatha brahmaNa describes the birth of the presiding deity of the mind, ie, pArvati pati. The kaushitaki brahmaNa is a metaphorical description of the mind itself.
This article, by the grace of srI yati sArvabhoumA, srI rAmAnuja muni, explains very adequately how the brahmaNas describe pArvati pati as a jivAtmA and do not attribute any form of supremacy to him.


  1. Dear sir,
    I wanted to know why is SATARUDRIYAM being depicted as the food of Rudra in these verses?
    Please reply soon!
    Your servant.

    1. Please READ the full article again. The answe has already been given in it.

  2. Comment from Sri Subbu/Adbhutam:

    This theory is against the fundamental concepts/tenets of Vedanta. First, A jnani will not be born again. If there is a continuation of embodied life for a Jnani, according to the Bramasutras and Shankaracharya, it is as an 'adhik'arika puruṣa' who is assigned a special cosmic portfolio by Iswara and this is owing to exceptional puṇya on the part of that jīva. Shankara cites the example of a muni named 'apāntaratamas' who incarnated as Vyāsa at the confluence of kali and dvāpara yuga-s.

    Moreoever, a Jnani, is a jivanmukta, with the qualities/characteristics listed in the BG 2 and other chapters. There is absolutely no room here for such a person feeling or realizing his pitiable situation in samsara. For a Jnani is one who knows very well that he has no samsara and he is no samsarin at all periods of time. There is a famous Shankara statement: pūrvasiddha kartṛtva bhoktṛtva viparitam hi trishvapi kāleshu....iti brahmavidavagacChati. So, the Brahmavit knows that he is no kartā-bhoktā at all periods of time and he is none other than Brahman. The Taittiriya upanishad explicitly says: kimaham sādhu nākaravam, kimaham pāpamakaravam iti' this kind of regret will not occur in a Jnani. Shankara is clear here too.

    In the wake of these Upanishadic pramana-s it is extremely out of your hatred for Shiva and your lack of knowledge of Vedanta that you make statements such as the above that I have quoted. To recapitulate: a jnani will never think he is a samsarin, he will never be born due to pāpa, all karmas papa and punya are burnt by jnana, only ādhikārika purusha is an exception and that too it is owing to exceptional punya. In any case he will never think or say that he is anapahatapāpmā because the very sense of his kartrtva-bhoktrva is eradicated by jnānam. If Jnanam does not insulate one from samsara, rebirth, the very claim of the mokṣa shāstra is shattered. No one will have faith in Vedanta and the mokṣa puruṣārtha.

    Our response:

    We thought it was worthwhile refuting this particular bit of nonsense you have sent us. So here it is.

    Firstly, you might have noticed that the word “jnAni” is not actually in the shruti but was used by us in our commentary. What is then, the point of even giving a long winded speech on this?

    Let us explain. We used the word “jnAni” to denote rudra according to the Vishishtadvaita understanding of “jnAni”. According to VA, mere vAkyartha jnAna does not lead to moksha. It is only upAsaNa, which must be performed after attainment of vAkyartha jnAna, which leads to mOksha. So, statements like “jnAnan mOkshO jAyatE” are only interpreted as “upAsaNa, which is jnAna viSesam and an act to be performed, leads to mOksha”. So, “jnAni” is a term that can be applied superficially to any person who has knowledge that he is wallowing in samsara and that alpa sukhams found in samsara are not the parama puruShartham.

    Rudra fits that description. He was born with knowledge that he has pApa karmas. This is again due to puNya gained in previous births that he knew he was still in samsara from the time of his birth. Hence, by Vishishtadvaitic parlance, he is a jnAni. He requires auspicious names to cleanse himself of pApa karmas to perform upAsaNa with the jnAna he has obtained.
    Now, coming to your tirade, yes, Shankara certainly defines a jnAni differently. Hence, we would say, as per advaita tradition, this shruti proves Rudra is not a jivAn mukta or a jnAni. Simple as that. He was still ignorant of “aham brahmAsmi, etc” and hence required auspicious names to cleanse his pApa karmas.

    Thank you for pointing this out. You do no favour to your position, that’s for sure. Save your breath and stop copying and pasting parts of Shankara bhAshyam that we already know.


    1. // It is therefore better to look for any other explanation to the shatapatha brahmana episodes. //

      There is none. It is a clear statement of Rudra Srishti and Rudra's declaration of his own anapahata-pApmatva that we are forced to accept the his jIvatva. No dveSham here... it is just plain coherent way of interpreting things.

      You can read from the relevant article under the menu item "Refuting Harihara Abheda vAda" how even a prominent proponent of the "harihara abheda" theory with a huge following such as Bodhendra Saraswathi utterly failed to give a convincing explanation for the concerned Satapatha Brahmana episode in a manner that Rudra's paramAtmatva is upheld. All this is not very well known to the public.

  3. Sri Subbu,

    // Someone who wails that he is a samsari and is not free from pāpam and is 'tamo guna personified' can not be a Jagadguru to give the tattva upadesha to sanaka, etc.(bhagavatam). You cannot also escape saying that Shiva was purified later and due to sadhana/ yajna became enlightened. There is no calender of events in the various vedic texts. //

    Such a chronology can easily be inferred and there is ample pramANa for it. The Mahabharata, bhAgavatam and Vishnu Purana says that Rudra engaged in various austerities after he was born, that he attained sattva after bearing Ganga (Vishnu's Sri pAda tIrtham) on his head, and that such acts led to enlightenment. There is also the Vedic pramANa "asya devasya mIDhuSho" (RV 7.40.5) and the related Mahabharata shloka "mahAdevaH sarvamedhe mahAtmA hutvA AtmAnaM devadevo babhUva" which have been quoted and commented upon by Desikan in Gitartha Sangraha shloka 27.

  4. In addition, read the article on "Shiva in the viShvarupa". The various examples given there show how Shiva as a yOgi, sometimes still succumbs to rajO and tamO guNas, but is often rescued by the timely advice of his guru and father, Brahma. The alternating between different proportions of sattva, rajas and tamas is a feature common to all yOgIs who practice intense austerities. BhIshmAcHArya was another example, as despite being essentially sattva in nature and a madhu vidya upAsakar, he still sided with the kauravas in battle even though krishNa, who is hailed by rishis as "krishnan dharmam sanAtanam", sided with the pAndavas. bhIshma was confused between sAmAnya dharma (of protecting duryOdhana) and viSesa dharma (of always obeying krishNa) due to rajas/tamas. He acknowledges this mistake in the anushAsana parva when he gives out the sahasranAma.

    Similar to mahAtmas like bhIshma is also shiva. Despite later on maturing in jnAna and keeping rajO/tamO guNas fairly under control having grown up and performing austerities, he sometimes does succumb to triguNas and side with the asurAs, fight against bhagavAn, etc. However, brahma redeems him. Take it a bit further, Brahma himself got deluded by rajO guNa once and stole the cows from krishNa. At that time, he was redeemed by bhagavAn himself.

    Point blank, no entity other than bhagavAn is free of doShas.

  5. Namaste,
    I have an interesting question for you. Since you claim

    "the satapaTha brahmaNa which talks about the birth of Rudra very explicitly and in which Rudra calls himself “anapahatapApma”, ie, not freed from pApa karmas",

    your understanding is that Rudra was born with sinful karma (pApa karmas). Now, I actually do agree with the notion that Rudra is a jiva just like any other god within the realm of material existence such as Brahma, Indra, Agni, etc, but I can not agree with the view that he was born with sin. For this, in fact, there are quite legitimate reasons. See for example Bhagavad gita 9.20:

    "Those who study the Vedas and drink the soma juice, seeking the heavenly planets, worship Me indirectly. Purified of sinful reactions, they take birth on the pious, heavenly planet of Indra, where they enjoy godly delights."

    Here I would put an emphasis on "purified of sinful reactions" (pūta-pāpā).
    See also Bhagavad gita 18.71 "And one who listens with faith and without envy becomes free (from sinful reactions) and attains to the auspicious planets where the pious dwell", where the words "so 'pi muktaḥ" acaryas explained as "one becomes free from sinful reactions".
    Taking into account what has been said above it is quite unlikely to take as possible such an advanced soul, which is a great Yogi or even the best among all yogis, to be born as Rudra, while still with sins. According to the above verse Bhagavad gita 9.20 even those souls who are not spiritually advanced, but have materialistic tendencies, will not be born in heaven with sins, and then what to say about him -- Rudra -- who is said to be the best among all yogis?

    There are a number of statements in the scriptures that speak similar to those two above from the Gita, and can be found in the Mahabharata and even in Shruti.
    Also to be noted, in the Vedanta sutra, chapter 3.1, there is a lengthy discussion on soul's ascent and descent, and it is explained by acaryas that a soul who is sinful can not reach heaven world.

    Thus the only thing that makes sense is to take that “anapahatapApma” phrase have a metaphorical meaning. It simply can't mean that Lord Rudra was born with sinful karma.

    1. I am not sure how to answer this question satisfactorily for you. All Vedantins including Shankara agree that apahatapApmatva is possible only for the Supreme Lord and for the muktAtmans.

      May be Aaryamaa will be able to answer better, but I leave it up to him whether to respond or not.

  6. "purified of sinful reactions" (pūta-pāpā). "

    A simple thing to consider is if they were purified of all sins, would they not attain liberation rather than svarga? Do not go by Internet translations.

    The answer is that "they are purified of those sins which obstruct them from attaining svarga". It does not mean they are completely without sin, as one needs prarabda karma to even exist in samsara and experience things.

    Similarly rudra is a great yogi and is divested of those sins which obstruct his meditation on Brahman. But that does not mean he is without karma.

    Indeed, when he was born, he cried because he was anapahatapApma in the sense, "I have sins obstructing me from meditation on brahman due to being born in a condition of tamO guNa (when brahma was in anger)". He was not merely crying about his birth but also about the inauspicious manner he was begotten by Brahma. That is 2hy Brahma tells him, "do not cry, I got you out of tapas, meaning, my tapas will purify you".

    Those names cleansed him of those sins which would have obstructed him from meditation.

  7. ---only thing that makes sense is to take that “anapahatapApma” phrase have a metaphorical meaning. It simply can't mean that Lord Rudra was born with sinful karma---

    If we can take something as a metaphor as per our will, them we can also subscribe to the mimamsa theory that all references to Brahman are arthavada.

    It is quite ridiculous how people misinterpret the term "sin". What is "papa karma"? It is something which causes rebirth and obstructs our true knowledge. What is punya karma? Something that allows us to experience desirable objects and also aids us, but which must also be exhausted in the future.

    Simply put, bhagavan's happiness with our actions is punya. His displeasure is papa.

    If any entity is born, it can only be due to papa karmas. Even a birth in svarga or higher world's is due to papa karmas since these are realms in samsara.

    The role of punya karmas is to allow us to be born in svarga as opposed to naraka. If the papa karmas outweigh punya, then the papa not only causes birth, but also decides the nature of birth, in naraka or as an animal, etc. and obstruct knowledge: they are aided by tamo/rajO guNa vasanas such as the situation Rudra was lamenting about, as it would induce the jiva to evil actions.

    Karmas are sanchita (the ones yet to be exhausted and which we carry as a luggage), prarabda (what we are using up by birth and experienve) and Agami (what we are collecting now to be added to the sanchita).

    A jnAni like rudra is freed of the luggage of sanchita by his tapas which impede knowledge. He can now meditate on Brahman which implies he will restrain himself from collecting Agami due to further actions. But he now is experiencing his prarabda by being in samsara itself as he is not liberated. But these prarabdas are also being exhausted by meditation on brahman.

    If he continues to be situated in Brahman and does not collect Agami, his prarabda will be exhausted by such meditation, upon which he will have a direct perception of Sriman Narayana, immediately forsake his body and attain Moksha. That will happen eventually.

    That should be enough on the subject.

  8. Lastly, let it be noted that the nature of papa karmas is to obstruct. This can be obstructing svarga, Brahma jnAna and other things.

    So, someone may be cleansed of papa karmas obstructing svarga; but he may not mnecessarily become a yogi as he may still have karmas obstructing him from realising Brahman. For example, take Yayati - we can say he was cleansed of karmas to obtain svarga but that doesn't mean he became a brahma jnAni (though eventually it would happen).

    But for a person whose karmas obstructing knowledge of Brahman are destroyed, anything, be it svarga or liberation is possible since Brahman grants all puruSharthams.

    The only reason why people become confused about this simple tattva is because of translating papa as evil or sin which imparts greater negativity to the sanskrit word than is required in some circumstances. Mere possession of papa karmas does not mean a person is inherently capable of only the uttermost evil.

  9. ADD: Just a quick summary.

    Those who reach svarga still have papa obstructing them from higher world's.

    Also note that some who go to svarga drop back to lower worlds later. This is because having exhausted their punya, they have papas obstructing them from going higher and hence fall back.

    Whereas, some go from svarga to higher worlds but are not liberated. This is because after exhausting punya in svarganubhavam, they still have enough punya to go upward. But they also have enough papa to restrict them from attaining liberation. So they end up in Satya loka etc and meditate to free themselves of papa.. This is the case of yogis like Rudra

    Those who are divested of both punya and papa attain svarga.

    1. "Those who are divested of both punya and papa attain svarga."

      That should be liberation. Hope this clarifies everything.

  10. *--- "purified of sinful reactions" (pūta-pāpā). "

    A simple thing to consider is if they were purified of all sins, would they not attain liberation rather than svarga? ---*

    *--- If any entity is born, it can only be due to papa karmas. Even a birth in svarga or higher world's is due to papa karmas since these are realms in samsara. ---*

    No, they would not have attained liberation if they were purified of all sins. First of all it should be remembered that there are two types of karma, namely, punya (pious deeds, merits), but also papa (sin, evil, impious deeds, demerits). Just because someone is freed from papa (sin, evil, impious deeds, demerits), it still does not mean he is freed even from punya (pious deeds, merits), and this in turn means that he still has karma. So he is not liberated! Since he is not liberated his material existence continues there in the heaven world.

    *--- ---only thing that makes sense is to take that “anapahatapApma” phrase have a metaphorical meaning. It simply can't mean that Lord Rudra was born with sinful karma---

    If we can take something as a metaphor as per our will, them we can also subscribe to the mimamsa theory that all references to Brahman are arthavada. ---*

    I do not take Rudra's statement as a metaphor per my will, but I am taking it to be consistent with everything I'm talking about here, such as statements from the Gita and other -- see all that I have said about that.
    There are such a statements in the scriptures that have to be interpreted metaphorically, it is not uncommon for Vedic literature.

    *--- A jnAni like rudra is ... ---*

    Here's yet another objection from my part. You talk about Rudra just as one jnani, but I do not look at him that way. He is much, much more than that. He is described in the scriptures as the greatest yogi in this universe, as one of the greatest souls at all, considering that he is one of the three main gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva). In the scriptures there are even statements that suggest that he is even more advanced soul than Brahma is! Not everyone can become a god like Brahma or Shiva (Rudra). That can be achieved only by one extremely spiritually advanced soul who is rarely to be found in the universe inhabited by billions of living beings. He is such an advanced soul, the greatest yogi, Srimad Bhagavatam 12.13.16 even says that he is the most exalted Vaishnava: vaiṣṇavānāḿ yathā śambhuḥ "Lord Śambhu [Śiva] is the greatest of Vaiṣṇavas".
    The perfect Vaishnava is untouched by sin. It is said in the Bhagavatam 4.4.14 about Lord Shiva:

    yad dvy-akṣaraḿ nāma gireritaḿ nṛṇāḿ
    sakṛt prasańgād agham āśu hanti tat
    pavitra-kīrtiḿ tam alańghya-śāsanaḿ
    bhavān aho dveṣṭi śivaḿ śivetaraḥ

    "Satī continued: My dear father, you are committing the greatest offense by envying Lord Śiva, whose very name, consisting of two syllables, śi and va, purifies one of all sinful activities. His order is never neglected. Lord Śiva is always pure, and no one but you envies him."

    Lord Shiva is auspicious (the very word "śiva" means "auspicious"), pure and sinless. Considering this, it is quite unlikely that he was born with sins.

  11. This reader who questioned us on this papa/punya karmas has replied again. We will reply back - but here is a warning - this is the last time we answer this. We do not intend to keep debating on a matter that is established beyond doubt by the Acharyas just because you do not have the ability to understand it.

    He says:

    ---Just because someone is freed from papa (sin, evil, impious deeds, demerits), it still does not mean he is freed even from punya (pious deeds, merits), and this in turn means that he still has karma. ---

    Again, forgetting the point that - 1) papa karmas cause birth, no matter where it is while punya only determines the nature of birth. If man is born, he has papa karmas. If a man is born rich and enjoys, it means he has a lot of punya as compared to the papa (which still is enough to give him birth). If a man is born poor and wretched, it means his papa karmas outweigh punya to a great extent.

    There is no situation in which a being wholly has punya or papa only. Because the very reality of birth and staying in samsara, no matter how great you are, is due to papa karma. In samsara, it is inevitable that some form of misery isvto be experienced, otherwise it is not samsara. And enjoyments due to punya are ephemeral, which again should lead to misery. We will not repeat this again.

    ---I do not take Rudra's statement as a metaphor per my will, but I am taking it to be consistent with everything I'm talking about here, such as statements from the Gita and other -- see all that I have said about that. There are such a statements in the scriptures that have to be interpreted metaphorically, it is not uncommon for Vedic literature. ---

    Statements are taken metaphorically only if the context warrants it. The context of the Satapatha clearly shows it is not a metaphor.

    You are indeed taking it as per your will. Because the same Gita declares all abodes from Satya loka to the lowest abound in misery as well. So, this includes svarga and others. Any abode that has misery (and not just happiness) is inhabited by samsaris who have papa karmas because then onpy can misery be experienced. Granted, personalities like Siva have more punya than papa, but the state of birth and existence in samsara is enough to say they have papa.

    The gita statement thus, has been taken by all acharyas as "he is cleansed of karmas obstructing him from svarga". The context is svarga here and not Moksha.

    Furthermore, it is Siva who has become clouded by tamo Guna and fought against vishNu on numerous occasions (see Ramayana and banasura charitra). Such instances are only due to his papa karmas triggered by the vasanas of his birth; of course, by virtue of his punya, he realize his mistakes once corrected by Brahma.

    Cont'd. ..

  12. He says:

    -------You talk about Rudra just as one jnani, but I do not look at him that way. He is much, much more than that. He is described in the scriptures as the greatest yogi in this universe, as one of the greatest souls at all, considering that he is one of the three main gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva). In the scriptures there are even statements that suggest that he is even more advanced soul than Brahma is! Not everyone can become a god like Brahma or Shiva (Rudra). That can be achieved only by one extremely spiritually advanced soul who is rarely to be found in the universe inhabited by billions of living beings. He is such an advanced soul, the greatest yogi, Srimad Bhagavatam 12.13.16 even says that he is the most exalted Vaishnava: vaiṣṇavānāḿ yathā śambhuḥ "Lord Śambhu [Śiva] is the greatest of Vaiṣṇavas". ---'

    Number 1 - Siva is not greater than Brahma. Brahma is the most powerful of all living beings and is hailed as "DevanaM prathamam" in the svetasvatara. Brahma is the guru and father of Shiva who always obeys tge former. Refer our article on "viSvarUpa and vibhUti yoga" to see the pramAnAs for this.

    Number two - "vaishnavanam yatha shambhu" does not mean Siva is superior to Brahma. It means he is the greatest among those who meditate on vishNu - "vaishnava" here means "knower, ie, meditator of vishnu" - it is not the popular religious term used for sects. It refers to bhakti yoga.

    Just as Suka was in a more advanced stage of yoga than veda vyAsa, shiva is in the last stage of yoga called "Sankarshana padam" (prajna in the mandukya). Just as this does not make vyAsa inferior to Sukla, it does not make brahma inferior to Shiva. Because shiva attained this perfection of yoga only by the teaching of Brahma.

    Brahma is a brahmaNa by svabhava and hence does not take up arms. That does not make him less powerful than Siva.

    The places in shastra where Brahma pays obeisance to Siva are twofold - 1) in those cases, Brahma only salutes the antaryAmin narayana and not Siva?, 2) in some cases, despite being a father and guru, he salutes his son for being a brahma jnAni. Age does not matter when one is a knower of Brahman.

    There is no pramANa that says Siva is more powerful than Brahma.

  13. He says:
    ----The perfect Vaishnava is untouched by sin. It is said in the Bhagavatam 4.4.14 about Lord Shiva:

    yad dvy-akṣaraḿ nāma gireritaḿ nṛṇāḿ
    sakṛt prasańgād agham āśu hanti tat
    pavitra-kīrtiḿ tam alańghya-śāsanaḿ
    bhavān aho dveṣṭi śivaḿ śivetaraḥ

    "Satī continued: My dear father, you are committing the greatest offense by envying Lord Śiva, whose very name, consisting of two syllables, śi and va, purifies one of all sinful activities. His order is never neglected. Lord Śiva is always pure, and no one but you envies him."

    Lord Shiva is auspicious (the very word "śiva" means "auspicious"), pure and sinless. Considering this, it is quite unlikely that he was born with sins. ------

    Similarly the sapta- rishis are called anaga or sinless etc. All these statements indicate Siva is pure in the sense of not having papa that obstructs knowledge of Brahman. It does not mean he has no papa at all since existence in samsara and obstruction of liberation is caused by papa. This was explained earlier.

    He got the name "Siva" because he acquired the Ganga from the feet of Hari on his head and became cleansed of karmas obstructing him from Brahma jnAna.

    So your idea of reconciliation is this - take every statement that says Siva has papa karma as metaphor and take every statement where it is said he is pure literally - this is not reconciliation but a bias over one set of statements above the other. One cannot freely interpret shastra without noting the context.

    The correct method is to understand that while Siva is cleansed of papa karmas obstructing him from Brahman and enough Punya to abide in a deva sarIra and meditate, he has papa karmas obstructing him from liberation, which he is currently getting rid off by experiencing birth in samsara and by his meditation as well.

    Similarly the shastra says "one who performs sandhyavandanam attains moksha" - does that mean we attain Moksha immediately after a day of performing Sandhya? No, it means, doing Sandhya cleansed papa karmas, allowing us to meditate on Brahman and attain Moksha eventually.

    That should do.

  14. No more on this. I understand that out of all traditions, it is only ISKCON which regards Siva as an "inbetween" tattva - neither jiva nor brahman or something like that. Since this is relevant to the blog, we have to say that this is not a correct understanding as besides jiva and isvara, the only thing that exists is insentient. That is why this reader seems to have this opinion. Incidentally, those translations are not even entirely correct.

    We do not want to get into ISKCON vs Gaudiyas vs other sampradaya so we request ISKCON readers to refrain from this and take what they want from this blog.

  15. Dear all,

    In the brAhmaNAs, the pravargya ceremony is described. And in the context of that rite, it is also mentioned that some devata got beheaded. The incident is here:

    Now, Shaivas think this devata who became proud and was beheaded is Vishnu and try to claim as such. Let us address this.

    This story is repeated in several other places, but the name of the devata always changes. In the Taittiriya Aranyaka, the devata that lost his head is referred to as “Makha Vaishnava” as follows:

    “tesham makham vaishnavam yashaH Arcchat” (~ TA 1.7.1-2)

    And the devata who lost his head is also referred to as “Makha” here in the Panchavimsa Brahmana:

    “teshAm makham yAshah Arcchat…yajno vai makhah…yat pravargyam pravrinjati yajnyasya eva tach chhirah pratidadhati” - Glory came to Makha – The sacrifice is Makha –When men offer the pravargya, they replace the head of Makha.

    The Taittiriya Aranyaka says it was Rudra who was beheaded:

    etadrudrasya dhanuH | rudrasyatveva dhanurArtniH shira utpipeSha | sa pravargyo.abhavat.h' - That bow belonged to Rudra. Since that belonged to Rudra, his 3 heads broke into pieces. That became the Pravargya.

    Now, who is the deity who gets beheaded here? In order to answer this question, we need to understand why the Pravargya rite is associated with stories of devatas getting beheaded as well as the story of the rishi Dadhyangatharvana getting his head cut off and a horse’s head in its’ place.


  16. Cont'd from above...

    Let us first understand why stories of devatas getting beheaded is mentioned in the context of the Pravargya.

    The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says that the opening part of the ceremonial pravargya is called “tvashtra” as it is connected with the sun god. Shri Ranga Ramanuja Muni opines that the description of the pravargya rite is followed by the story of Dadhyangatharvana because of the similarity of fixing the head.

    As the pravargya is replaced in the place of the yajna shira (Sacrificial head), it is called “tvAshtra”. Similarly, on account of the horse’s head being fixed on Dadhyangatharvana, he is referred to as pravargya.

    Thus, what is clear is that the story of the devata getting beheaded and the story of Dadhyangatharvana is not related to the pravargya ceremony in any manner, but is mentioned on account of the similarity of the fixing of the head. Meaning, this devata lost his head and was revived again and knowing this would foster a remembrance of the meaning of the pravargya.

    Who is this devata? Sayana says it is Vishnu and represents the Yajamana. This is wrong because the name “Vishnu” on account of connection to the Narayana and Vasudeva namas in the Vishnu Gayatri, can only denote the supreme being despite etymologically amenable to other interpretations and cannot denote the yajaMaNA. Even in the shiva sahasranAmAs that occur in the tAmasa purANAs, the name “Vishnu” should only be interpreted as referring to the God Vishnu on this account (can say Shiva in the form of Vishnu, but not Shiva is named Vishnu).

    Then, is it Vishnu who is referred to here? The answer is no. How can we say that it is not Vishnu, when the Satapatha clearly says “tad visnoh prathamah prApa”?

    Because, the Satapatha also says this - “Sa yah sa vishnur yajnah sa | sa yah sa yajno sau sa AdityaH|” – He who is this Vishnu (as the innerself of the deity who got beheaded) is verily Sacrifice. He who is this sacrifice is the (innerself of) that Aditya (who is the opening part of Pravargya).

    This mantra clearly talks of the antaryAmin principle after saying things like “Vishnu attained excellence among the devas”. Thus, it follows that the devata named “Vishnu” is not the Lord, but some other devata who is called Vishnu on account of having Vishnu as his antaryAmin. This devata was the one who got proud and was beheaded. This devata is called “Vishnu” here to highlight that the excellence he attained was because he was a vibhUti of Vishnu and due to the indwelling Lord’s grace.

    Note that the Satapatha uses the name "Purusho vai Narayana" to denote Brahma, who has Narayana as his antaryAmin, in the Purushamedha. On account of sharIrAtma bhAva, it is possible to label other devatas as "Vishnu" who is their antaryAmin.

    Similarly, the name “Makha” used in the Taittiriya Aranyaka denotes “Sacrifice” which again means Vishnu. The idea is, the devata who got beheaded is called “Makha” as his antaryAmin is Vishnu, who is verily the Makha (Sacrifice).

    Then, the Panchavimsa Brahmana clearly says the devata is “Makha Vaishnava”. By using the term “Vaishnava”, the idea that it refers to the Lord Vishnu is ruled out, for it means “belonging to Vishnu”, ie, the devata is a vibhUti of the Lord. Thus, “Makha Vaishnava” means “One who has Makha (yajna-svarUpi vishNu) as his innerself, who belongs to Vishnu (as his vibhUti). On account of this devata attaining unsurpassed excellence, the antaryAmitvam of the Lord is specially mentioned for him for it is his grace.


  17. Cont'd from above...

    Which means, the true identity of the devata who was beheaded is revealed by the Taittiriya Aranyaka as below:

    etadrudrasya dhanuH | rudrasyatveva dhanurArtniH shira utpipeSha | sa pravargyo.abhavat.h'

    That bow belonged to Rudra. Since that belonged to Rudra, his 3 heads broke into pieces. That became the Pravargya.

    It is Rudra, who by the grace of his antaryAmin, became unsurpassed among the gods and hence proud. Then the same indweller, who is also the indweller of Indra, impelled the latter to gnaw the bowstring and cut of the head of Rudra.

    The entire story of Rudra's beheading is mentioned in the Taittiriya Aranyaka Nampillai summarizes this incident here beautifully:

    Note Svami Nampillai's words – he says that the same antaryAmin who powered Rudra’s bow against tripurAsurAs can also cause that bow to cut off Rudra’s own head, showing that only the sankalpa of bhagavAn allows devas like Rudra to perform such acts.

    As a finality, the dvaitins quote a pramANa from the kUrma purANa to justify this as follows:

    raxitaM naiva shaknoShi svAtmAnamapi shaN^kara | yuddhe kiM jeShyasi tvaM mAM pUrvavR^ittaM mayochyate || yadA madbhaktashakrasya yaj~nadhvamsaH kR^itastvayA | tadA.ahaM te shirashChitvA tatkratU raxito mayA | tato mAM prArthayAmAsa manobhIShTAya pArvatI | tadA vai matprasAdena prANAn.h lebhe bhavAn.h shiva ||

    Meaning: (Vishnu says:) Hey Shankara, you are not capable of protecting even yourself. How can you win over me in a war? I shall recount an old account (pUrvavR^ittaM). You came to ruin the yajna performed by my devotee, Indra. Then, I protected that Yajna, having got your head severed. Then, to obtain you back, Parvati prayed to me; after which, you got your life due to my grace.

    Because Rudra lost his head and it was reattached (when he was revived), the incident is mentioned in the context of the similarity to the pravargya is replaced in the place of the yajna shira (Sacrificial head), and so the Taittiriya Aranyaka says the head of Rudra became Pravargya – “sa pravargyo.abhavat.h”

    The Yajna is referred to as the sacrifice of Indra in the Kurma Purana shloka on account of the fact that glory was meant for Indra. Thus even the Satapatha says “sa u eva makhah sa vishnuH | tataH indro makhavAn abhavat” – That Vishnu (the indweller of Rudra who was beheaded) is verily sacrifice. Therefore (by his grace), Indra became “Makhavat” – the possessor of sacrifice (can even mean, possessor of Vishnu's shakti, as an Avesha-avatAra).

    We hope this clarifies any doubts that the descriptions of the Pravargya ceremony might have caused. The Aranyakas and the Brahmanas are even more complex than the Upanishads at times and do not easily reveal their meanings.


    1. Just a clarification regarding the above explanation of the Pravargya rite (See my last 3 posts above). In his old document, "Rebuttal to the Narayanastra blog", the Mahapashupatastra author accuses us of quoting Sayana to explain "Vishnu's beheading" when we don't subscribe to Sayana.

      To clarify: We merely said back then that even Sayana did not accept it was vishNu being beheaded there, and not that we accept Sayana's explanation. We reject Sayana's idea that the yajamAna is referred to as vishNu, as the name always denotes bhagavAn everywhere. The above explanation of the pravargya rite is in line with Sri Vaishnava acharyas.

  18. Jay Sriman Narayana!!

    Swami, is Karma a tattva? If yes then please clarify whether it is chit, Achit or Ishwar.

    Reason for my confusion is that 'tattva-tray' anaaditvam. Tattva-traya is anaadi as well as can't be destroyed. However, Karma is destroyed by tapas or by experiencing pains and pleasures. After Sharnagati, sanchit and aagami karma are cleansed.

    Where does this karma lie? Where is it stored? What is it's point of Action?

    I understand and accept that karma has no beginning. But, my doubt is on what karma is?

    Humbly requesting you to clarify my doubts.

    Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
    Dasanu dasan.

    1. Karma is simply the pleasure or displeasure of the Lord that manifests in the form of vasanas, ruchis, expansions and contractions of Dharma-Bhuta-Jnana (punya-papa) which in turn lead to pleasure and pain.

      When we do good things, bhagavan is pleased and it results in Punya. Vice-versa invites his displeasure and incurs papa. One cannot say a particular action results in one type of karma only -- for eg: Stealing causes pain to others which is displeasing to bhagavan and results in papa. However, stealing money to build a temple which pleases the Lord is Punya.

      Ultimately it is what bhagavan feels about your actions that manifests as karmas. Please read the works of Pillai Lokacharya for more clarity, we cannot explain this any further on the blog.

  19. Adiyen. I would study swami. But, just kindly give clarity if its included in tattva-tray.

    1. Tattva Traya is Cit, Acit and Ishvara. That's all. I said earlier karma is his pleasure or displeasure, it is not some separate tattva.


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