Sri Rudra Prasna or Satarudriya -A Flag Post of Universality and Inclusiveness of Hinduism

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Chamakam Namakam chaiva purusha sooktam tathaiva cha |
Nityam trayam prayunjano Brahmaloke maheeyate ||
He, who ever recites Namakam and Chamakam along with Purusa Sooktam daily, will be honoured in Brahmaloka

Introduction  
Among the various Vedic Hymns Sri Rudra Prasna occupies the  pride of place. Sri Rudra Prasna also known as Rudradhyaya, Satarudriya, Rudra Namakam  & Chamakam and Rudram. Sri Rudram is a part of Krishna Yajurveda; with some  modifications. Rudra Prasna finds a place in Shukla Yajurveda also. It has two  parts called Namakam and Chamakam and each part is further divided in to eleven  Anuvakas or sections. The two are chanted together according to tradition. In  the Namakam hymn, every verse begins with "namo" or "salutation”;  in the Chamakam hymn, every verse contains the phrases "cha me ",  meaning “and me”; hence their nomenclature. Apart from its daily recital among the orthodox Hindu households  during Abhishek rituals, it is invariably chanted in most of the poojas and  havans by Vedic Pundits. To hear it chanted in chorus in the prescribed manner of intonation  (swaras) is a unique soul stirring and elevating experience. (Editor – I  heard hyms chanted as described at a Yagna in Trimbakeshwar and believe me it  was the experience of a lifetime).

Sri Rudra Prasna is a hymn in praise of and prayer to Lord Siva and  its chanting is the oldest prayer wherein the names and attributes of Lord Siva  are listed.  Through the chanting of Sri  Rudra Prasna, Lord Siva’s various characteristics and aspects are invoked and  worshipped.

Chanting the Sri Rudra Prasna is  considered to be of great material and spiritual benefit to the devotees. It is  considered highly efficacious in warding off evils and in conferring various  benefits on its votaries. Chanting of Sri Rudra Prasna can be done with or  without the accompaniment of a Vedic fire (yajna) ritual. When  accompanied with the Vedic fire ritual, it is called the Rudra Yajna.

There are several methods of reciting  Sri Rudram. They are called Rudram, Ekadasha Rudram, Laghu Rudram, Maha Rudram  and Ati Rudram - each being more potent than the preceding one. They are:
  1. Reciting the Rudram once is called ‘Avartana’.
  2. Reciting it eleven times is called ‘Ekadasini’.
  3. If the Ekadasini is repeated eleven times, it is called Laghu Rudra.
  4. Eleven repetitions of the Laghu Rudra constitute the ‘Maharudra’.
  5. Eleven Maharudras make it an ‘Atirudra’ comprising of 14,641 repetitions of Sri Rudra Prasna.

Maharudra and Atirudra are  generally performed by employing 11 or 121 priests to recite all at a time.

Significance of SRI RUDRA PRASNA 
Sri Rudra Prasna  is great because its  central point is the holiest of the holy Siva Panchaakshari Mantra "Namah  Sivaya" ((sacred  five letters of prayer) It is a mellifluous hymn offered to the all-pervading  Almighty, God, designated as Rudra-Siva. He is present in two forms viz., in an  auspicious and benign form (siva) by way of sustenance of all things  created and also as in an aggressive and terrible form (rudra) which He  assumes at the time of the dissolution and destruction of the cosmos at the end  of the cycle.

Apart from these  two major facets of the Supreme Reality, viz., the sustaining and the  destroying, or the constructive and the destructive or the positive and the  negative, there is an enigmatic, un-understandable vagueness and subtleness behind  the Reality’s presence in our practical day to day lives.

The text is important in Vedanta also where Siva  is equated to the Universal Brahman. It describes Rudra in his universal aspect  as the Supreme Being, the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient Lord of the  universe.

We can approach the Hymn Sri Rudra Prasna in two  ways through sound (chanting) and through word (by understanding its importance).  The approach through sound is very popular as stated earlier. The second  approach is a bit heavy on the grey cells because the nature of its contents is  highly cryptic and suggestive. However an attempt is made here to  explain both the parts of the hymn in brief just to elevate the attention of the readers from the popular chanting plane to a higher contemplative  plane.