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Rudra

Rudra (Skt., ‘roarer’, or ‘the ruddy one’). A Vedic storm god. Rudra is sometimes identified with Agni or Indra, especially in connection with the monsoon rains. Like rainstorms, he has two aspects, one associated with fertility, healing, and welfare, the other associated with destruction, rage, and fear.

In post-Vedic times Rudra gradually becomes identified with the great god Śiva. In the Veda, śiva, ‘the auspicious one’, is one of Rudra's epithets. In later times, rudra is an epithet of Śiva, referring to his destructive aspect.

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Rudra

Rudra in the Rig Veda, a Vedic minor god, associated with the storm. In Hinduism, Rudra is also one of the names of Shiva.

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Rudra

RUDRA

RUDRA is a Vedic god and precursor of the great Hindu divinity Śiva. The name Rudra derives from the verbal root rud ("to howl, to roar"), from which he takes the epithet "the howler." The root rud also connotes "red" (as in English ruddy ), suggesting that the earliest concept of the divinity was inspired by red storm clouds or the sound of thunder. Rudra has no correlates in other Indo-European myth-ologies.

Some scholars believe that the earliest prototype of Rudra may be traced to an Indus Valley seal in which four animals surround a seated figure. This seal, and some Vedic texts, suggest Rudra's connection with animals. As the Lord of Animals (Paśupati), he is their protector as well as their destroyer, an ambivalence common in many mythologies. The animal most frequently associated with Rudra is the bull, a symbol of rain and fertility. Typically, the figure in the Indus Valley seals is seated in a posture later associated with yogic meditation, leading some to postulate a non-Aryan origin of his post-Vedic role as the ascetic mendicant par excellence.

Rudra's wife is Pśni, whose name denotes a leather water bag, clearly an association with rainwater. This association is strengthened by references in the gveda to Rudra as the bringer of fertilizing rain. Rudra is invoked in only four hymns of the gveda, although he also figures in the later Sahitās and in the Brāhmaas. The gvedic hymns describe him as a well-dressed god riding in a chariot, carrying a bow and arrows. These hymns seek to avert the wrath of a fearsome and destructive god who hurls his lethal arrows at random upon men and beasts. In addition to the wind gods, Vāyu-Vātā, Rudra's Vedic associates are the Rudras and the Maruts, who share his benign and chthonic traits respectively. The word marut, derived from the root m ("to die"), seems to signify a spirit of the dead. Cultic worship of Rudra also confirms his close connection with Yama, the god of death, with spirits of the dead, and with the dark goddess Nirti. His oblations and the venue and manner of offering them are characteristic of a chthonic god. Rudra's later Vedic consort was Rudrāī, or Mīdhuī. The latter, like Pśni, signifies Rudra's function as the "pourer," and indirectly connects him with fertility, a trait incipient from the Indus Valley period. This perhaps explains the worship of Rudra in the phallic emblem, which later almost completely replaced his anthropomorphic representation.

In the Vedic literature Rudra is intimately connected with Agni and Soma. Indeed, in his power, brilliance, and destructive capacity he is almost an alter ego of Agni. Like Soma, he dwells on a mountaintop, especially Mount Mūjavat, the abode of Soma in later literature. But from the Yajurveda onward, a syncretism begins in which the gvedic Rudra merges with other gods evidently of indigenous origin, reflecting the fusion of Aryan and non-Aryan peoples. In that text Rudra is invoked as the god of burglars, highwaymen, night rovers, and cheats. His benign characteristics persist, but dark and malevolent traits now appear, and his chthonic character is henceforth established. In later Vedic literature Rudra assumes such new names as Bhava, Śarva, Ugra, Mahādeva, and Śiva. Some of these figures are clearly of regional origin, while others are still unspecified but may be indigenous gods of non-Vedic origin. Both the Yajurveda and the Brāhmaas record the progress of Rudra's syncretism with other gods until he finally merges into Śiva, his mythological successor. The complex "Rudra-Siva" is thus often used by students of the tradition to designate the mythological and cultic fusion of Śiva and his Vedic precursor.

Because of the fairly early syncretism with other indigenous regional and tribal gods, Rudra becomes a conglomerate of disparate traits. His evident ambivalence toward the sacrifice bears testimony to this. In the subsequent Śaiva mythological cycle, the sacrifice flees from him, or he is denied a share in Daka's sacrifice. Infuriated, he destroys the sacrifice, killing men and injuring gods. These anti-Vedic traits continue to multiply until the gvedic god who granted boons, forgave sins, and blessed his devotees assumes a dual personality combining benign and malevolent traits.

See Also

Śiva.

Bibliography

Agarwala, Vasudeva S. Śiva Mahādeva, the Great God. Varanasi, 1966.

Bhandari, V. S. "Rudra as the Supreme God in the Yajurveda." Nagpur University Journal 16 (October 1965): 3742.

Bhattacharji, Sukumari. Indian Theogony: A Comparative Study of Indian Mythology from the Vedas to the Puranas. Cambridge and New York, 1970. Includes chapters on Rudra-Śiva.

Dange, Sadashiv Ambadas. "Tryambaka." Journal of the Oriental Institute (University of Baroda) 19 (1969): 223227.

Machek, Václav. "Origin of the Gods Rudra and Pūan." Archiv orientalni 22 (1954): 544562. A perceptive article.

Mayrhofer, Manfred. "Der Gottesname Rudra." Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 103 (1953): 140150. An original article on the import of the god's name.

O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. Ascetism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Śiva. London, 1973.

Pisani, Vittore. "Und dennoch Rudra 'Der Rote.'" Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 104 (1954): 136139. Seeks to trace the god's identity from the derivation of his name.

Sukumari Bhattacharji (1987)

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