Rudra: Cry – Makes us Cry – Removes our Cry

We keep seeing these contradictions in Rudra. ‘Rud’ means weep/cry/roar, Rudra as defined by Br̥hadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 3.9.4 is the one who causes us to weep, which is his feared aspect. In contradiction, all three profound commentators Sāyaṇācārya, Bhattabhaskara, and Abhinavasankara defined Rudra as रुदं द्रावयतीति इति रुद्र, meaning the one who removes the cause of our grief is Rudra. Adi Śankaracharya also defined Rudra in multiple ways in his Vishnu Sahasranama Bashya, few of them are:

“He who gives voice (Rud, the first cry at birth, when all vayu (air) enters our body and the first breath is taken) so he is Rudra”
“He who makes others cry during their dissolution, hence he is called Rudra”
He who destroyed suffering and it’s cause, is Rudra”
“He who dispells our crying/sorrows is Rudra”

Adi Śankaracharya Vishu Sahasranama Bashya.

रोडयाति सर्वं अंतकले इति रुद्रा:
He who makes everyone (सर्वं) cry (रोडयाति) at the end of life and creation (अंतकले) is that Rudra (इति रुद्रा:)

यादव रुत संसारद:ख् | तद द्रवयती अपगमयति विनसयाति इति रुद्रा: ||
Rut (रुत) is that cycle of creation and its suffering/klesha (दुखम्) know as the samsara (संसार), and he who drives it away (द्रवयती अपगमयति) he who vanquish it (विनसयाति) that (तद) suffering/klesha is that Rudra (इति रुद्रा:)

शब्द-रूपः उपनिषदः तबीर द्रुयते गम्यते प्रतिपद्यते इति रुद्रः
And so Rut (रूतः) is the very (तबीर) wisdom/intelligence (यद्वा) bestowned (प्रतिपद्यते) in the form and the sound (शब्द-रूपः) of exploration (द्रुयते) of Upanishad (उपनिषदः) meaning to come closer to they wisdom/truth which is the destination (गम्यते)

यद्वा रुन्नाधि अविरोति इति रुद अंधकारदी | तद द्रिनाति/दृणाति विदरायति इति रुद्राही
That caus (दृणाति) that is uncertain (अविरोध) is also the darkeness/the unknown (अंधकारदी) an he who dispelles (विदारयति) it is that Rudra (इति रुद्राही)

Sayanacharya commentory on Vedas 13th century

These 3 aspects of Rudra (Cry, makes us cry, and removes our cries) are perfectly captured in Mahābhāratam Harivamsha Parva Section 2.74 in which Sri Krishna says: “रुद्रो देव त्वं रुदनाद् रावणाञ्च रोरुयमाणो द्रावणाच्चवातिदेवः” meaning “oh divine Rudra it’s your cry, makes other cry and removes our cry”. Let’s go into the Vedas to find its linkage. Vayu is the very source of wind, and air and this intern is the Prāṇā (lifeforce). Both Vaśiṣṭha Yogam and Br̥hadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 3.9.4 clearly say that Rudra is the 10 Prāṇās and when these Prāṇās depart all relatives cry (Rud). Prajapati in Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa says to the child with the “first cry” as arodīt, meaning the Prāṇā has now entered the body and the child has grasped its first breath. So both, when Prāṇā departs and when Prāṇā enters its Rudra. What about Rudra being the remover of our sorrow (cry), Rig Veda Saṃhitās 6.74.4 says, “Oh Soma Rudra free us/liberate us from the tethers of Vayu” because it’s Vayu what tethers this body and its life and that very Prāṇā is Rudra, and its the same Rudra that can liberate us from this tether of Vayu. The conclusion hymns of Sri Rudram also state

प्राणानां ग्रन्थिरसि रुरो मा विशान्तकः। तेनान्नेनाप्यायस्व॥
Oh Rudra, you are the vital force (प्राणानां) that connects (ग्रन्थि) us all (मा) and you are the cure/an end (अन्तक) to all ill and malicious (विश)

Sri Rudram conclusion hymn of Namakam

One can compare this with the hymn given by Rśi Vaśiṣṭha famously known as Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra in Rig Veda 7.59 and Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 1.8 which asks Rudra “May you untie our bonds like a ripened gourd fruit unties itself from the stem, and take us beyond death and deplete our compulsions and take us into the immortal state”. One has to take note of how synchronous and consistent various Rishis/Ṛṣi have been when they addressed Rudra.

The fire/Agni is Rudra; He is born when the Agni:Homa is completely piled up with sacrifice; just as a calf desires its mothers teat on birth, so He (Rudra) seeks His portion; if he were not to offer a libation to Him, He would consume the Adhvaryu (performer of Homa) and the sacrificer. He offers the Çatarudriya (oblation); verily he appeases Him with his own portion; neither Adhvaryu nor sacrificer goes to ruin. TS 5.4.3

Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 5.4.3/

Please note that what we saw about Rudra and Vayu, made many later scholars consider Hanuman, the son of Vayu as one of the Rudra. Now, let’s look at the system of linkage that evolves from Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā to Śatapatha Brahmāṇa to Atharva Veda and finally the clarity with which it ended in the Upaniṣhad.

यो रुद्रो अग्नौ यो अप्सु य ओषधीषु यो रुद्रो विश्वा भुवनाविवेश तस्मै रुद्राय नमो अस्त्वाहुतिभागा
Its you (यो ) Rudra (रुद्रो) is Agni (अग्नौ), in the waters, herbs/medicinal plants (ओषधी), entirety (इमा -विश्वा ) and its worlds (भुवन), salutations to that (तस्मै) Rudra to whom we submit your share (भागा ) fire oblations (आहुति). TS 5.5.9

यो अग्नौ रुद्रो यो अप्स्व् अन्तर् य ओषधीर् वीरुध आविवेश । य इमाविश्वा भुवनानि चक्लृपे तस्मै रुद्राय नमोऽस्त्वग्नये ।। AV 7.87
Its you Rudra (रुद्रो) who is (यो) in Agni (अग्नौ), who dwells in waters and floods, to Rudra who hath entered into herbs/medicinal plants (ओषधी +र्वीरुध ) , to Him who formed and fashioned all these entirety (इमा -विश्वा ) and its worlds (भुवन), to this (तस्मै) Rudra, we give our homage (स्त्वग्नये) and salutations (नमो) AV 7.87.1

Prajāpati held this child and said “my son you are Rudra” (the first roar/sound). This boy could not be contained and wished to encompass everything and so said, “with my name I have to become greater” and asked for another name. Prajāpati said: you are Sarva, water became him, as Paśūpati, from him emerged flora/fauna/plants. As Ugra (the fierce one), Vayu/Wind/Air became him. As Aśani, lightning/thunder, as Bhava, the rain, as Mahādeva, the highest Divinity, and the moon (Soma) became him, as īśhana (the authority/the ruler), the Sun became him. ~Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa 6.3

यो देवोऽग्नौ योऽप्सु यो विश्वं भुवनमाविवेश। य ओषधीषु यो वनस्पतिषु तस्मै देवाय नमो नमः॥ Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 2.17
that Divinity (देव) who is (यो) in the fire (अग्नौ), who is (यो) in the water (अप्सु), who is (यो) in the plants/herbs/medicens (ओषधीषु), who is (यो) in the forests/trees (वनस्पतिषु), who has (य) pervaded/encompasses (आविवेश) all that exists and all its celestial dimensions (विश्वम् भुवनम्) to that divine (तस्मै देवाय) I surrender and salute again and again (नमो नमः) Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 2.17

तत् एव अग्निः तत् आदित्यः तत् वायुः तत् उ चन्द्रमाः तत् एव शुक्रम् तत् ब्रह्म तत् आपः तत् प्रजापतिः॥ SV 3.2
That (तत्) itself is (एव ) the fire (अग्निः) and is that billiance of Sun (आदित्यः) and is that air/wind (वायु) and is the moon (चन्द्रमाः ); that itself is self-luminous (शुक्रम् ), is that whole/infinite Brahman (ब्रह्म ), That itself is that waters (आप), and the source and origin to all progeny (प्रजापति) ~Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 3.2

Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 5.5.9 & Atharva Veda 7.87.1 & Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa Kanda 6 Brahmāṇa 3 ( & Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 2.17 / 3.2

“One should fill the Agni:Homa with sacrifice.” The fire is Rudra, and it is as if one stirs up a sleeping lion. TS 5.4.10
The fire is Rudra, His are three missiles, one that comes straight on, one that strikes transversely, and one that follows up. Having piled the fire he should give a bow with three arrows to a Brahman, unasked; verily to them, he pays homage and offers himself. Agni is Rudra; just as a tiger stands in anger, so He also stands; when the Yagna Fire is filled with these, he reverences him; verily with homage, he soothes Rudra. TS 5.5.7

Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 5.4.10/5.5.7

सहस्राक्षम् अतिपश्यं पुरस्ताद् रुद्रम् अस्यन्तं बहुधा विपश्चितम्।मोपाराम जिह्वयेयमानम् ॥AV 11.2.17
Oh Rudra (रुद्र), thousand-eyed (सहस्राक्षम्) overseeing all /all-seeing through and through/directly (अति + पश्यसि + पुरस्तात्), at the end of our Yagna’s chanting Anuvākam (अस्य) Oh Multifold (बहुधा) wise (विपश्चित्) with prudent tough/divine speech ( जिह्व) gone after (येय) even and respectful ( मानम् )

Atharva Veda 11.2.17

Agnir vai rudrah III-239
Agni is Rudra Mahāvira II-226
Agni is Rudra Mahāvira and that is the Sun III-233, 238 (mantra: jatavedas; pose: asau va adityo rudro Mahāviras)
Fire is speech, the Sun is the eye. (Both are Pranas, therefore) the Sun is the fire (on Earth) and that fire (in the Sun). The two eyes (of Rudra) he praises thus.
This implies a further identification of the heavenly eye (the Sun) and the mundane one (the fire) with the eyes of Rudra III-219

Caraka-Katha Āraṇyaka, Harvard Oriental Series 65, Michael Witzel

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