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Shiva Stuti in Karna Parvan

As we have already proven with the Shiva Sahasranama, any alleged instances in the mahAbhArata showing shiva as Brahman are but attempts at interpolations. However, there is a genuine stuti occurring in the karNa parva, just prior to the description of Tripura samhAra. Here, the devas, acting on the instructions of Brahma, seek refuge in Shiva for destroying the asurAs. There is nothing anomalous in this; as srI krishNa himself says, the devas beginning with Indra seek shelter of Shiva who in turn seeks refuge in Brahma, who in turn seeks vAsudevA as his refuge. Thus a simple hierarchy of IndrAdi devatA < shiva < brahma < nArAyaNa is established. Even the nArAyaNasUkta is in that descending order “sa brahma sa siva sEndra” and hanuman describes these three devas in the same descending order in the rAmAyaNa, also saying that srI rAma is superior to all 3 of them single or combined.  Brahma is of course, the most exalted jivAtma in the Universe.
In this genuine section of the mahAbhArata, the devas seek refuge of Shiva, who is extolled as a yOgin par excellence and a mahAtman, and recognising this, they compose a hymn that directly addresses the antaryAmin of shiva, ie, nArAyaNa, who is in his sankarshana-narasimh arUpa in the cave of rudra’s heart.  Thus, the stuti addressed to shiva is a direct praise of his antaryAmin and not a praise of shiva as anything other than a vibhUti.
We can easily prove this because the same section itself says:
“viShNurAtmA bhagavatO bhavasya amitatejasaH” – vishNu is also (besides being the arrow tip used to kill the tripurAsuras) the antaryAmin of the effulgent Bhava. Thus, the strength of Rudra comes from his antaryAmin. The devas, recognising that this act of defeating asurAs would be accomplished by paramAtma (sriman nArAyaNa) via the vibhUti of rudra, composed this stuti in praise of srI lakshmi narasimha.
Since this is a beautiful section that obviously is relevant to the blog, I have written short notes explaining it. The most popular English translation available on the internet, the one given in the Sacred Texts web site, are quite superficial and shallow translations. These translations that are often incorrect; Nevertheless, I have used it to give modified and correct explanations where necessary. I have also incorporated some verses from the Kumbhakonam edition which were omitted from the sacred texts website.
Let this endeavour also be a lesson to those who blindly copy and paste from Sacred Texts. Using that site as a superficial reference is okay, but relying on those wayward translations are not – they are seldom correct.
There are some Veerashaivas and others on the net who do not understand the pramAnAs and would assume this talks about Shiva, when the context clearly establishes nArAyaNa is the antaryAmin. Hence, this article will explain these things clearly.
iti tasya vacaḥ śrutvā devāḥ śakrapurogamāḥ brahmāṇam agrataḥ kṛtvā vṛṣāṅkaṃ śaraṇaṃ yayuḥ|| 36||
Meaning: Hearing these words of his (Brahma), The gods with Indra at their head, making Brahma their guide, sought the protection of Shiva, having the bull for his mark.
The devas made Brahma their guide in seeking the protection of Shiva since the latter always abides by the directions of the former (as we have explained in this article). The bull is a symbol for dharma and the idea is that Shiva abides by dharma, hence he will help them as is his duty.
tapaḥ paraṃ samātasthur gṛṇanto brahma śāśvatam ṛṣibhiḥ sahadharmajñā bhavaṃ sarvātmanā gatāḥ || 37||
Meaning: Those knowers of the eternal dharma (vishNu as the means) accompanied by rishis, devoted to the knowledge (meditation) of the supreme (paraH) and uttering the eternal words of the Vedas, fully sought Bhava.
“tapaH paraM” – Those who perform upAsaNa on the supreme – “nArAyaNa param brahma, tattvaM nArAyaNa para:”.
Note the usage of “dharma~jnAH” to describe the devas. It shows that they were well aware and knowledgeable of the eternal dharma. What is that dharma? The mahAbhArata describes it as “Krishnan dharma sanAtanam” and “sarva dharmAn parityajya mAm ekam saraNam vraja”. Thus, srI krishNa alone is the eternal dharma. The term “dharma” here refers to bhagavAn being the means to secure the end, ie, his upAyatva. It goes without saying the rishis knew it as well.
The name “dharma” occurs in the vishNu sahasranAma. Bhattar’s vyAkhyAna is - He sustains all beings by conferring prosperity and salvation on them.  In yuddha kANDa brahma says of Lord rAma - lokAnAm tvam paramo dharmah – You are the Supreme Dharma in all the worlds.  In mahAbhArata ~ sAkshAt devahpurANO'sau sa hi dharmah sanAtanah - He is primordial deva and also the eternal dharma".  
The mahAbhArata says this about krishNa as well -
ye ca vedavido viprAh ye ca adhyAtmavido janAh           |   te vadanti mahAtmAnam kr*shNam dharma sanAtanam  ||
"Those brAhmins who are well-versed in veda-s, and those who realized the Brahman, declare in one voice that the great SrI kr*shNa is the eternal dharma".
Therefore, the “dharmaj~na” devas are those who are aware that vishNu is the means. So, the devas sought Bhava with the knowledge – “this Shiva, is the vibhUti of nArAyaNa, and by surrendering to his antaryAmin, will act for the good of the world”.
The name “bhava” used here is also significant. It refers to production or the act of bringing forth. What does Shiva bring forth? It is the knowledge of vishNu. “jnAnam icchet iShvarAt”, “vaiShNavAnAM yathA shambhuH” are the pramAnAs. Thus, this also proves Shiva himself was aware of his own status as a vibhUti. He is a brahma jnAni.
The Kumbhakonam edition contains the following - tapaH paramamAjagmurgR^iNanto brahma shAshvatam. This doesn’t change the meaning.
After this, the Kumbhakonam edition contains one more sloka which does not occur in other recensions, which occurs prior to the succeeding sloka. I will translate this here:
devadevaM paraM sthANuM varadaM tryambakaM shivam sharvamIDyamajaM rudraM shashA~NkA~NkitamUrdhajam
Meaning: (The husband of Uma is) the Chief of Devas (devadeva), superior to or detached from material enjoyments (paraM), firm in yOga or meditation on vishNu (sthANuM), the bestower of boons (varadaM), the three-eyed as he is the knower of the 3 vedas (tryambakaM), agreeable to his true nature (shivaM), the remover of ignorance (SharvaM), the praise-worthy (IDyam), the mover or instigator of the mind towards paramAtma (ajaM), the one who wept as he knew he was not freed from karmas (rudraM), whose hair is marked by the moon (shashA~NkA~Nkita mUrdhajam).
This sloka elaborates the reason why the devas decided to go to Shiva. This speaks of the glories of Shiva. If we analyse this, each of the names sequentially indicate why Shiva would help the devas as follows:
  • He is the chief of devas who are sAttivkas in nature, therefore  he is most celebrated and hence is called “paraM” (paraM means utkRshtaM)

  • As he is the chief of sAttvikas and celebrated, therefore he is firm and unwavering in yOga or the meditation on vishNu, hence he is called sthAnu    

  • He is firm in meditation of vishNu, therefore by the grace of bhagavAn, he has the power to bestow boons to all, thus known as varada

  • He is able to bestow boons therefore, he knows the three Vedas, since only a person devoted to study of the Vedas can grant boons to others
  • He knows the three Vedas, therefore he is always agreeable to his own true nature which is seshatva or servitude to paramAtma sriman nArAyaNa. Meaning, he strives to act in accordance to the wishes of bhagavAn which is the fruit of the study of the veda and hence is known as “shiva”.

  • As he acts in accordance with his true nature, therefore he can also remove the ignorance of others by teaching them of their true nature which is subservience to vishNu. Thus, he is “Sharva” or the remover of ignorance.

  • As he removes ignorance, therefore, he moves the minds of others towards paramAtma (ajaM) and therefore, is praiseworthy. Here, the anvaya is changed. Also, “ajaM” is derived from the root “aj-“ signifying movement.

  • Since he is the praiseworthy one removes ignorance and provides knowledge of vishNu, therefore he wept on being born as he knew he had pApa karmas. The idea being, his knowledge and merits or puNya allowed him to recognise his nature upon birth itself. Only a jnAni can recognise his own faults due to puNya from previous births, during infancy itself.

  • As he wept on being born due to pApa karmas, therefore he is marked by the moon which symbolises that he was able to cleanse himself of the karmas/tamO guNa and become lustrous and cool or sheltered from the heat of samsAra by his austerities, which is symbolised by the cool moon.

  • As he is sheltered from the heat of samsAra by being cool and lustrous due to his penances, therefore he is always cheerful.

Thus, these are the reasons for calling shiva by these names. As noted earlier, this sloka occurs in the Kumbhakonam edition. Now, continuing onward.
tuṣṭuvur vāgbhir arthyābhir bhayeṣv abhayakṛttamam sarvātmānaṃ mahātmānaṃ yenāptaṃ sarvam ātmanā || 38||
Meaning: And they praised, O king, in the high words of the Vedas, that dispeller of fears in all situations of fear that (Rudra) whose intellect (jnAnA) pervades everywhere (sarvAtmA), who is a noble soul (mahAtma) due to his jnAna and thus is a friend to all others (yenAptaM sarvam Atmana).
Using choice epithets from the Vedas, in the vein of “gurur devO bhava” the gods praised Rudra who is a jnAni and hence, a guru. He dispels the fear of samsAra by giving knowledge of vishNu. His attributive knowledge (dharma bhUta jnAna) is expanded so that he can assume many bodies by virtue of his austerities. As karmas are cleansed, knowledge expands like light blossoming from a lamp. And the greater the expansion of the knowledge, the more powers one can have – such as ability to control several bodies and assume different forms by knowledge (as saubhari muni did and rudra does when he fights with Arjuna) and of course, perception of paramAtma tattva clearly. Rudra is such a jnAni that he does not see differences between gods, men, etc. He knows they, like himself, are the body of vishNu, who is the indweller of all. Thus, he does not like or dislike anyone and is a yOgi.
Such a mahatma or devotee is praised with the chanting of the vedic portions like puruSa sUkta and others as he is worthy of being respected on an equal footing with paramAtma.
It is similarly said in guru paramparA that sri vaishnavas used to praise swami manavAla mAmunigal with chanting of the puruSa sUKta and “vedAhamedaM puruSham mahAntam...”. Thus, a guru can be praised with such sUktas and this is bhAgavata dharma.
tapo viśeṣair bahubhir yogaṃ yo veda cātmanaḥ yaḥ sāṃkhyam ātmano veda yasya cātmā vaśe sadā || 39||
Meaning: The one (Rudra) who, by dint of austerities, knowing the natural or independent means, ie, bhagavAn nArAyaNa who is the upAya designated by the term “yOga” and also the (nature of the) AtmAn (as the servant of paramAtma), who know by reflection (via meditation) via the mind (sAnkhyAtmanO) (this truth), by which the mind is kept under control (cAtmavashesadA)
The vishNu sahasranAma says “yOgO yOgavidAm netA” – BhagavAn is called “yOga” because he is the natural and independent means to liberation. SrI bhattar comments that this means he does not need the help of anybody else to aid his devotees. They need to understand he ALONE accomplishes everything.
Rudra knew this tattva and also recognised the individual self as the natural servant (dAsabhUta) of the Lord. He knew this by constant reflection on the essential nature of the jivAtma (as the servant) and paramAtma sriman nArAyaNa (as the master).
By knowing these truths, Rudra kept his mind under control. Under control from what? From delusions like “I, Rudra, standing before the devas, is verily paramAtma” or “I, Rudra, am equal to vishNu”. Rudra, knowing the tattvas well, understood that the devas’ surrender to himself is a surrender to his own antaryAmin (nArAyaNa) with Rudra as the vibhUti. And he also knew that they, by their nature of seshatva or servitude, should not resort to anyone other than paramAtma, and also that nArAyaNa does not require any assistance from anyone; His acting through rudra is merely His will and because of the puNya karma earned by rudra.
This sets the precedent for the succeeding slokas. The devas are going to see the glories of Rudra, and then by virtue of their tapas, they would see nArAyaNa, the antaryAmin of rudra who is responsible for the latter’s glory.
te taṃ dadṛśur īśānaṃ tejorāśim umāpatim ananyasadṛśaṃ loke vratavantam akalmaṣam || 40||
Meaning: They beheld him - Ishana, the consort of Uma, who is resplendent due to knowledge, who has no equal in the world (among living beings), who is connected with vrata or the proper  performance of duties (karma yOga),the sinless.
With such knowledge of nArAyaNa as “yOga” or the means as mentioned before, the devas do two things – they first behold Rudra in all his glory. This is covered in this sloka. In the next sloka, they realise the paramAtman, sriman nArAyaNa, who is the cause of Rudra’s glory.
Here, they beheld Rudra as IshAna. He is known as “iSAnas sarvavidyAnAm” because he is an AvEsha avatArA of sriman nArAyaNa and is possessed of the knowledge of vishNu. He is the Lord of Uma, that pArvati who herself is revered as a teacher of the devas in the kenOpanishad. Rudra is tejasvi as he is a bhakti yOgI, meditating on vishNu. He has no equal in the sense that he is the most proficient at bhakti yOga (VaishnavanAm yatha shambhu – shambhu is blissful as he is the greatest meditator or knower of vishNu).
He performs karma yOga or the discharge of his duties with the knowledge – “I am not the doer, paramAtma sriman nArAyaNa, who is the self of all, is the doer and he alone enjoys the fruits”.  Thus he is vratavan as karma yOga is an ancillary to bhakti yOga.
In this way, Rudra is sinless or “akalmashaM”. This should not be taken as Rudra being completely devoid of karmas. All beings have prArabdha karma and the cancellation of all karmas happen only after death. However, very virtuous beings like the rishis and the devas like Brahma and Rudra are called sinless as they are knowledgeable and work only for the good of the Universe.
The sahasranAma begins with “vyAsam vasishta naptAram Sakteh pautram akalmasham”. Here, the term has been used to denote rishis. Hence, like the term “bhagavAn” is used to denote others besides nArAyaNa out of respect and does not literally mean they limitlessly possess the 6 attributes, similarly “akalmasham” is used to denote very virtuous souls. Here it means rudra has only cleansed himself of the karmas which are obstacles to bhakti yOga, by studious performance of karma yOga with the knowledge he is the servant and vishNu is the master.
The Kumbhakonam edition contains the following version of this sloka:
taM te dadR^ishurIshAnaM tejorAshimumApatim. `pareNa yatnena bhavaM tridashAH sharvamIshvaram'. ananyasadR^ishaM loke pratapantamakalmaSham
This simply means as follows:  They beheld Ishana, the consort of Uma, who is resplendent due to knowledge. By (virtue of) the Supreme Lord nArAyaNa denoted by “paraH”, by effort (of upAsaNa), he who brings forth intellect, ie Shiva (bhavaM), He is the possessor of wealth which is the knowledge of vishNu (iSvaram) who removes the ignorance of the devas (sharvam), who has no equal in the world (among living beings), who shines with the heat of tapas, the sinless.
Just an extra line added here. “parEna yatnEna” - this refers to the performance of bhakti yOga or upAsaNa by Rudra.
“parEna” shows that upAsaNa of Rudra is effected by the grace of paramAtma sriman nArAyaNa who is denoted by “para”, coupled with Rudra’s own efforts or physical and mental faculties (yatnEna) required for upAsaNa.
ekaṃ ca bhagavantaṃ te nānārūpam akalpayan ātmanaḥ pratirūpāṇi rūpāṇy atha mahātmani||
parasparasya cāpaśyan sarve paramavismitāḥ|| 41||
Meaning: They mentally conceived that One (in that he is the Self of all Beings), who is also bhagavAn (nArAyaNa as he has the 6 auspicious attributes) as having many forms, ie, is present in every form as the antaryAmin. They perceived every form of the Atman (i.e., Sriman Narayana their indweller) and subsequently perceived each others’ form in that great soul (mahAtman). They were thus highly amazed.
After describing Rudra, the next sloka talks about nArAyaNa. As mentioned before, first the devas, with perfected knowledge, beheld Rudra. Now, they meditate on nArAyaNa, the cause of Rudra.
Because, once the devas perceived the greatness of Rudra as a jnAni, accompanied by his wife Uma, etc., they now understand that the greatness of Rudra is nothing but a vibhUti of his antaryAmin, nArAyaNa. That sets the context of this sloka.
This sloka shows that the devas, after beholding Shiva, meditated on the status of Shiva as the vibhUti of Brahman in that he has nArAyaNa as his inner self. How so? Because this is a description taken straight from the katOpanishad which states:
Katopanishad (2-2-9):
agnir-yathaiko bhuvanam pratishTo rUpam rUpam pratirUpo babhUva / ekastathA sarva-bhUtAntarAtmA rUpam rUpam pratirUpo bahiSca //
Meaning: Just as fire, though one, having entered the world, has become such that its form is present in every form, similarly the One inner self of all entities has as its form (as antaryAmin) present in every form and outside too.
Just as the primordial fire which is part of the elements used in the tripartite combination is present in all material things, similarly the antaryAmin is present in every form and is outside in the sense it is independent of these forms. By saying “everything is the form of the antaryAmin”, it is meant everything is its body.
Who is this antaryAmin? The subalOpanishad says “eSha sarvabhUtAntarAtmA apahatapApma divyO deva ekO nArAyaNa:”
A pUrvapakSin may question why we cannot consider this slOka to say rudra is the paramAtma hailed as the “bhagavantaM”, the sarvAntarAtma? Well, firstly, in the sloka 39 – “tapo viśeṣair bahubhir yogaṃ yo veda...”- it is stated that Rudra himself had already realised nArAyaNa as paramAtma, the eternal means and the devas, including himself, as servants. That set the stage to first see Rudra, which they did in sloka 40 and then, to meditate on the antaryAmin, nArAyaNa, which they are doing now in sloka 41. Thus, this is a perfect continuity in saying nArAyaNa is the referent here.
Secondly, the same section says vishNu is the antaryAmin of rudra later on (viShNurAtma bhagavato bhavasya amitatejasaH) because of which Rudra accomplished the killing of asurAs. So, the context here is the physical presence of Rudra before the devas, his acting as a result of being impelled by his antaryAmin and hence any reference to all-pervasiveness would be out of context *unless* it is linked to the fact that Rudra’s glories and the acts that he is about to perform in this section are due to him being a vibhUti of nArAyaNa. And hence, the sarvAntaryAmitvam of nArAyaNa whereby he carries out acts for the good of the Universe via his vibhUtIs is lauded.
Thirdly, it is well known from shruti and smriti that rudra is born of nArAyaNa (eko ha vai nArAyaNa AsIt, na brahma, nEshAna; nArAyaNAt rudro jAyate). The same mahAbhArata (srI krishNa’s words) also calls Rudra as “nArAyaNatmaka” (having nArAyaNa for his inner Self). So, this clearly shows that Rudra is not the referent here.
Fourthly, even the Linga PurAna (Chapter 25) too states the following (spoken by Nandi, the Bull), identifying “bhagavAn” who pervades all as janArdhana:
sarvAtmAnam mahAtmAnam paramAtmAnam ISvaram ||te dRshTvA prAha vai brahmA bhagavantam janArdanam ||
Meaning: The indwelling self of all (sarvAtma), the great self as he as One pervades all these (mahAtma), that Self for whom there is no superior (paramAtma), is the Ruler as he can exercise his Will unimpeded (iSvara). They indeed perceive (that paramAtma) and speak of (him as) the Supreme Brahman (Brahma), BhagavAn (One with 6 auspicious attributes) and Janardhana.
The usage of “bhagavantaM” is thus a standard appellation to the all-pervasive self, nArAyaNa. It is to indicate that though nArAyaNa is the antaryAmin of various entities, he himself remains unchanged and undiminished with all 6 attributes of jnAna, bala, aishwarya, veerya, shakti and tejas. “neha nAnAsti kincana” – There is no diversity.
The Linga PurAna which addresses the antaryAMin as mahAtmA, bhagavAn and janArdhana thus shows that it is nArAyaNa alone and not Rudra being referred to here.
(Note that mahAtma, sarvAtma, etc when used for jivAs like rudra do not connote supremacy. The alternate meanings have already been explained. It is only when they are used to connote nArAyaNa that they denote supremacy).
Up till now, the devas had meditated on the essential nature of paramAtma as the inner self of all beings. Seeing Rudra, they meditated now on Rudra being the body of the indwelling paramAtma. Then they understood that all forms in the Universe, are the forms of paramAtma because he is their indweller. Thus, the tattva remains the same; the focus of meditation shifts to understand it clearly.
This Brahman, sriman nArAyaNa, is thus the great Self (mahAtmA) of all by virtue of itself (AtmanaH). In other words, he is not dependent on anyone and is the Atman of all by virtue of his own natural prowess; nobody is his antaryAmin.
What is the purpose of shifting meditation to focus on Rudra being a form of the antaryAmin nArAyaNa, as opposed to meditating on nArAyaNa as the indweller of Rudra? Because the act of destroying the asurAs is to be done by Rudra as the vibhUti of nArAyaNa; as paramAtmA acts through Rudra, the status of Rudra as the body of paramAtmA, who is dependent and acts according to the will of paramAtma, is to be known.
Having seen Rudra as the body of paramAtma sriman nArAyaNa and understanding EVERY entity in the Universe as the forms of paramAtma in that he is the Self of all, the devas saw each other's’ form in Him. In other words, they recognised that their nature was identical in that they were all the bodies of paramAtma, they all had the same paramAtma as their indweller and they all had the same nature of seshatva or servitude/dependence to that paramAtma, just like Rudra. Thus, they were not different from each other in their essential nature and in the nature of pervasiveness of paramAtma. This brahma dRshti was a cause for wonder.
sarvabhūtamayaṃ ceśaṃ tam ajaṃ jagataḥ patim devā brahmarṣayaś caiva śirobhir dharaṇīṃ gatāḥ|| 42||
Meaning: That entity (nArAyaNa) pervading all beings (is) also the Ruler of all (by virtue of pervasiveness), the Unborn (as he is disconnected from the effects of prakrti) is the Lord of the Universe. (Understanding this) the gods and the brahmarSis all touched the Earth with their heads.
Understanding the above truths very clearly, they worshipped Rudra. In other words, by the act of worship, they did not regard Rudra as paramAtma, but directed their obeisance to the antaryAmin of Rudra.
The presence of this slOka coupled with the non-diversity of all beings clearly shows that it is nArAyaNa who is being talked about as sarvAntarAtmA. This gives justification for the devas bowing before Rudra and hence, it stands proven that this is a reverence directed towards nArAyaNa only.
tān svasti vākyenābhyarcya samutthāpya ca śaṃkaraḥ brūta brūteti bhagavān smayamāno 'bhyabhāṣata 43||
Meaning: Shankara (he who causes happiness) venerated them with the word “svasti” and raising them from their bent postures. BhagavAn (Rudra) addressed them smilingly, saying, 'Tell us the object of your visit.'
Here, Shiva is called “Shankara”. “Sham sukham karOtiiti Shankara”. He causes happiness by doing good to the world and bestowing the knowledge of vishNu. It must be noted that the devas and rishis understood the tattvas when Rudra appeared before them; thus he acted as their guru. For his part, he considered the devas and rishis as jnAnIs as well, so he venerated them by saying “svasti” or “may you live long, may auspiciousness prevail upon you”. Because Brahma, his father and guru, was also among the devas assembled before him.
“BhagavAn” is a term used for respect as explained by parAshara maharShi in vishNu purAna. It only denotes the 6 attributes when used for sriman nArAyaNa, otherwise it just is the equivalent of “respected one” for devas like Shiva.
tryambakeNAbhyanuj~nAtA stataste.asvasthachetasaH |
namo namaste.astu vibhotataityabruvan bhavam || 44||
Meaning: Given assurance (of long life and auspiciousness) by the Three-eyed One, they whose minds were uneasy, now became confident of bhagavad anugraha and their fears were dispelled, then said these words unto him, 'Our repeated salutations to you, O nArAyaNa (the indweller of Rudra) known as “Bhava” (The cause of the Universe).
Shiva is called three eyed to signify that he possesses the knowledge of vishNu. The three eyes symbolise knowledge of the three vedas. Or, it can mean he has accomplished feats like the burning of kAma with his third eye, so he is very much detached from material attachments and hence is a jnAni.
Whenever a mahAtma, who has knowledge of Brahman, says words like “svasti” – “may you live long, may you be auspicious” – it implies that the favour of bhagavAn himself is upon them (as bhagavAn loves those whom his devotees love). The devas who until now were afraid of the asurAs, now became confident of bhagavad anugraha and their fears were dispelled.
The second part of the sloka begins the stuti proper. “bhava” refers to nArAyaNa here.
Here we come to the actual stuti. Having read all of the above, it must be clear that the stuti is only directed to sriman nArAyaNa, the antaryAmin of rudra. I will elaborate on it. I am not going to post lengthy explanations, but only translate the stuti since it is fairly straightforward. The source of my understanding comes from srI parAshara bhattar’s bhAshya on vishNu sahasranAma primarily and other sources secondarily. So, even if I haven’t mentioned it, many names in the stuti are explained as they occur in the sahasranAma by Bhattar.
Let us begin. It must also be noted that the stuti seems to address srI Lakshmi narasimha, who, as has been proven earlier, is sankarshaNa rUpi and the antaryAmi rUpam of rudra.
namo devAtidevAya dhanvine chAti manyave |
prajApatimakhaghnAya prajApatibhirIDyase || 45||

Meaning: Salutations to (sriman nArAyaNa, the antaryAmin of rudra) the possessor of auspicious attributes (devAtideva) unique and excelling all others, to the holder of the bow symbolizing the mind (dhanvine), to the One who is the sacrifice or the means to liberation (manyavE), to the destroyer of the actions of mind which rules the senses (prajApati makhagnAya), to the One who is adored (via meditation) by those who rule over their senses (prajapatibhrIDyase)

namaH stutAya stutyAya stUyamAnAya mRRityave |
vilohitAya rudrAya nIlagrIvAya shUline || 46||

Meaning: To the One who alone is worthy of praise as he alone has auspicious attributes (stutAya), to the One who is the form of that praise as he alone blesses us to praise him (stutyA), to the One who is being praised by everyone for the attainment of their desires, to One who is death to the deaths of his devotees, ie, he ends their cycle of births and deaths (mRityu). To (Lord Narasimha) who is reddish colored (vilohitAya), the Lord who drives away the misery of the cycle of births and deaths (rudrAya), the One whose throat is black, ie, his open mouth inspires fear (nIlagrIvAya), the One who is armed with Death against Hiranyakasipu, ie the enemies of devotees (shUline)

amoghAya mRRigAkShAya pravarAyudhayodhine |
durvAraNAya shukrAya brahmaNe brahmachAriNe || 47||

Meaning: To One who grants the fruits desired to those like PrahlAda who worship him (AmoghAya), the One with eyes of anger at Hiranyakasipu (mRgAkshA),the One who fights with the most excellent of weapons, ie, his nails(pravarAyudhayOdhine). To the irresistible One (durvAraNaya), the One of lucid mind that thinks of protecting his devotees (shukrAya), He who has as his body the individual selves and matter (brahmaNe), who lives (ie, is revealed) in the Vedas (brahmachAriNe)

IshAnAyAprameyAya niyantre charma vAsase |
taponityAya pi~NgAya vratine kRRittivAsase || 48||

Meaning: To One who is the controller of all (ishAnAya), One who is beyond the senses(apraymeyAya), One who is of the form of the restrained senses (niyantrine) who is the (self of) the individual self that resides in the hide, ie, the body(charmavAsa). To the One who is ever of the nature of knowledge to lead devotees out of the cycle of births and deaths (tapOnityAya), who has taken a vow to protect those who resort to him (vratine), the golden One (pingAya) as he is always associated with effulgence of Sri mahAlakshmi who is responsible for bringing these attributes of his to the surface, who abides with affection in the body covered with skin near the individual self (kRttivAsa).

kumArapitre tryakShAya pravarAyudhadhAriNe |
prapannArti vinAshAya brahmadviTsa~NghaghAtine || 49||

Meaning: The One who is the root cause (pitR) of that (knowledge) which destroys obstacles, ie, sins (kumAra), the Eye of the three vedas (tryakSHaYA), who bears the foremost of weapons, ie, the pAnchajanya which destroys ignorance (pravarAyudhadhArine). To the destroyer of the distress of those surrendered to him (prapannArti vinAshAya), to the destroyer of those opposed to dharma (brahmadviTsanghaghAtine)

Note 1: kumara = ku + mAra. That which destroys obstacles, ie, pApa karmas that hinder experience of Brahman, which is knowledge. “pitR” – refers to akAra, the root cause. “akArasyavisnoH” and hence it refers to bhagavAn as the root cause of such knowledge. If “kumara” occurs alone without pitrE, it also directly denotes bhagavAn as the destroyer of obstacles.

Note 2: He destroys the distress of devotees by appearing before them. Their distress is only that they cannot see him and enjoy him; so his mere appearance is enough. This is “paritrAnAya sAdhunAm”. Destroying those opposed to this dharma, ie, the experience of bhagavAn, is “vinAshAya ca duskRtam”. To allow his devotees to enjoy him properly, he needs to remove the weeds, namely the asurAs who try to obstruct the devotees from their experience. This is explained by srI rAmAnuja in the gitabhAshya.

vanaspatInAMpataye narANAM pataye namaH |
gavAM cha patayenityaM yaj~nAnAM patayenamaH || 50||

Meaning: To the master of those who possess desire or longing, ie, the devotees (vanaspatInAMpatayE), the master of auspicious attributes known as “naras” which are longed for by devotees (narAnAmpatayE), also To the lord of those who have been conquered by the beauty of his form and attributes (gayAm ca patayE), to one who is ever possessed of sacrifices, ie, always and ever performing acts for his devotees (yajnAnAmpatayE)

namo.astute sasainyAya tryambakAyogratejase |
mano vAk karmabhir deva tvAM prapannAn bhajasvanaH || 51||

Meaning: To One who is at the head of those devotees who are always associated with him (sasainyA), to the One who is the foundation of the three worlds (trayambaka), to One who has the most excellent power to overcome enemies (agratejasE). By thought, word and deed, you, who are associated with Sri Mahalakshmi and hence called “Deva”, are worshipped by those surrendered to you.

“shraddhAya devO devatvam asnute” – Sruti says he becomes a deva or one endowed with vAtsalyam (affection) and other attributes only due to association of srI mahAlakshmi. She precipitates his grace in our favour.

That concludes the stuti.
After this, some words of praise for Rudra occur after this section, spoken by Brahma in the spirit of “lokahitaM vacaH” (which is explained below). The Kumbhakona recension is a bit different, so I have explained the two versions separately:
pitRdevarSisaMghebhyo vare datte mahAtmanA satkṛtya SaMkaraM prAha brahmA lokahitaM vacaH
Meaning: After the fears of the devas, rishis and pitrs had been dispelled by the noble soul (Rudra), Brahma, offering obeisances to Shankara, spoke words (in a manner) agreeable to the Vedas.
Note the word “lokahitaM” – “loka” refers to shAstra, which is the veda. “lokahita” – in a manner agreeable to the shAstra.
This is because Brahma is currently bowing to his son Rudra and is going to praise the latter. The usage of “lokahita” shows that Brahma is doing all this in a manner conducive to the Veda, ie, he is saluting the antaryAmin of Rudra, namely, nArAyaNa and is not going against the Veda by worshipping Rudra as supreme. That is key here.
tavātisargād deveśa prājāpatyam idaṃ padam mayādhitiṣṭhatā datto dānavebhyo mahān varaḥ tān atikrānta maryādān nānyaḥ saṃhartum arhati  tvām ṛte bhūtabhavyeśa tvaṃ hy eṣāṃ praty arir vadhe sa tvaṃ deva prapannānāṃ yācatāṃ ca divaukasām   kuru prasādaṃ deveśa dānavāñ jahi śūlabhṛt
Meaning: Brahma says: O Ruler of the devas! By your consent, I have the position of Lordship over all beings. By virtue of this position, I have given boons to the Daityas. None else other than you can destroy these transgressors. you are the Lord of the past, present and future (as you have pervaded all entities as in the inner controller at all times and states).  You indeed are competent to destroy the enemies of those devas, who are residing in the celestial abodes, who have surrendered to you asking for protection.  Show your grace to them, O Ruler of the Devas, and kill the Asuras, O bearer of grief or death!
All this denotes the inner controller of Rudra, namely nArAyaNa. This was made clear by the use of “loka hita vacaH” mentioned earlier. Brahma is speaking in accordance to the shAstra, and directly addresses the indwelling nArAyaNa here. There are two ways to take it as referring to nArAyaNa:
  1. Mode of PratIkOpAsaNa or meditation of Rudra as the inseparable attribute of nArAyaNa - The names “dEvEsha”, “sUlabrt”, can be taken as “Rudra, is Devesha,  sUlabrt since that is the condition of nArAyaNa who has him as his body”. Since the body is the inseparable attribute of the self, Rudra is the inseparable attribute of nArAyaNa who is devesha, rtam and sUlabrt and thus it can be said Rudra is in this condition.
  2. Alternatively, the meditation is directly on nArAyaNa as the indweller of Rudra bypassing the need to meditate on Rudra. By both ways, it is bhagavAn who is the referent of this praise.
  3. “bhUtabhAvyESa” – This is a reference to the all-pervading nature. As he is “SarvAntaryAmin”, he is the Lord of the past, present and future. The reference to all-pervasiveness clearly also indicates this praise of Rudra refers to the antaryAmin. “RtaM satyaM param brahma” and “viShvashambhuvaM” according to the nArAyaNa sUkta reinforce this.
“sUlabrt” – Taken by using method 1), it refers to nArAyaNa, who has the trident bearing Rudra as his inseparable attribute. Alternatively, using method 2), It refers to nArAyaNa, who bears “sUla” that is death or grief for the asurAs. Either way, it only denotes bhagavAn.
A slight modification is seen in the Kumbhakonam recension where instead of “lokahita vacah”, we see “lokapitAmahah” – an adjective of Brahma. It does not change the meaning.
pitR^idevarShisa~Nghebhyo.abhaye datte mahAtmanA. satkR^itya shaMkaraM prAha brahmA lokapitAmahaH..imAnyasuradurgANi lokAMstrInAkramanti hi. kashcha prajApatirghorAMstAnsrarvA~njahi mA chiram..varAtisargAddevesha prAjApatyamidaM param. mayA.adhitiShThatA datto dAnavebhyo mahAnvaraH.. nAstyanyo yudhi teShAM vai nihantA iti naH shrutam. tAnatikrAntamaryAdAnnAnyaH saMhartumarhati.  tvAmR^ite sarvabhUtesha tvaM hyeShAM tvaM deva prapannAnAM yAchatAM cha divokasAm. kuru prasAdaM varada dAnavA~njahi saMyuge.. tvatprasAdAjjagatsarvaM sukhamaidhata mAnada. sharaNyastvaM hi devAnAM vayaM tvAM sharaNaM gatAH.. 8-25-(1-6)
Meaning: After the fears of the devas, rishis and pitrs had been dispelled by the noble soul (Rudra), Brahma, the Grandsire of the worlds, offering obeisances to Shankara, spoke  -O Ruler of the devas! By the foremost act of consent (by nArAyaNa), I have the highest position of Lordship over all beings. By virtue of this position, I have given boons to the Daityas. None else other than you can battle with and punish these asurAs, we have heard. None other than you can destroy these transgressors. You are the Controller of all beings (as you have pervaded all beings as the inner controller and you are pervading Rudra as well). You are competent to destroy the enemies of those devas, who are residing in the celestial abodes, who have surrendered to you asking for protection.  Show your grace to them, O Bestower of Boons, and kill the Asuras! By your grace the entire Universe attains bliss. You indeed are resorted to by the devas. We surrender to you.  
Note that despite the fact that “lokahita vacaH” has changed to “loka pitamahaH”, the meaning does not change, ie, all this is still addressed to nArAyaNa. This is because of the usage of “tvaM sarvabhUtEsha” – a reference of the Lord being the controller of all Beings, which in turn is because of his “sarvAntaryAmitva”. This is mentioned to indicate that the Supreme Brahman pervades all, and here he is pervading Rudra as his indweller, and hence is alone being referred to by these terms.
Therefore, whichever recension is taken, the meaning remains the same.
Then the incident of Tripura samhAra is described. Here, it clearly mentions that shiva, by the aid of nArAyaNa, as his antaryAmin, destroyed the tripurAsuras.
The above should clarify two things: 1) How genuine stutis differ from bogus interpolations like shiva sahasranAma in that the former is logical and fits in the context of mahAbhArata as opposed to the latter which have nonsensical meanings and seem out of place as well as clash with the other sections of mahAbhArata, 2) How even in the genuine stutis of devas like Indra, Shiva and Brahma, it is only vishNu who is extolled.