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. Kṣemarāja, the brilliant student of Abhinavagupta belonging to the Trantra/Yoga branch of literature defined Rudra as samastarugdrāvi meaning, drāvi means remover and ruk means illness of life. Adi Śankaracharya also defined Rudra in multiple ways in his Vishnu Sahasranama Bashya, a 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”Adi Śankaracharya Vishu Sahasranama Bashya.
“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”
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 रुद्राहीSayanacharya commentory on Vedas 13th century
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)
Kṣemarāja (student of Abhinavagupta) said:
Bhairava or Śiva is called Rudra, because ru stands for ruk (disease), and dra stands for drāvi (melter, dissolved). samastarugdrāvi – Rudra is one who dissolves all the ills (of life).Vijñānabhairava Tantra or Divine Consciousness, book by Jaideva Singh p3.
These 3 aspects of Rudra (Cry, makes us cry, and removes our cries) are perfectly captured in Mahābhāratam 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”.Mahābhāratam Harivamsha Parva Section 2.74
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॥Sri Rudram conclusion hymn of Namakam
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)
Let’s explore other Vedic Saṃhitā. Here is how Atharva Veda 7.42.2 addresses Soma-Rudra, with hymns also found in Rig Veda 2.74 & 6.74.2 & 6.74.3:
सोमारुद्रा वि वृहतं विषूचीम् अमीवा या नो गयम् आविवेश । बाधेथां दूरं निरृतिम् पराचैः॒ कृतं चिद् एनः प्र मुमुक्तम् अस्मत् ॥१॥
Cast away (वृह), and separate us (विषूची) from all bondages/sicknesses (अमीवा) from us and our families (गय) O Soma and Rudra (सोमारुद्रा ), drive away (पराचै) afar ( दूरं) our pain/suffering (बाध) and death/destruction (निरृति) liberate us ( मुक्त ) from those (अस्मत्) even if (चिद्) they are committed (कृत) sins/papa ( एनः) 7.42.1
सोमारुद्रा यु॒वमेतान्यस्मे विश्वा तनूषु भेषजानि धत्तम् |अव स्यतं मु॒ञ्चतं यन्नो अस्ति तनूषु बद्धं कृ॒तमेनो अस्मत् ॥२॥
O Soma and Rudra (सोमारुद्रा ) always bestow (ध – धत) upon us (यु॒वम +एतानि +अन्य्) the cure, with all (विश्वा) your medicines (भेषजानि) tied to our bodily realm (तनू) | liberate us/untie us (मुञ्चति) from those (अस्मत्) we have (अस्ति) done(कृ॒त) , which (य) are connected (बद्ध) with our physical/bodily realm (तनू) 7.42.2.
Please note: (यु॒वम +एतानि +अन्य्) means all these for us, used as 2nd person pronoun.
Soma and Rudra! Bring all these medicines to our bodies! Untie, get rid of from us the sin committed that is bound to our bodies.
मा नो रुद्र तक्मना मा विषेण मा नः सं -स्रा दिव्येनाग्निना 11.2.26Atharva Veda 7.42.1-2 / Rig Veda 2.74 & 6.74.2 & 6.74.3
Rudra (रुद्र) untie (सं -स्रा) for us (नो ) those diseases (तक्म – ना ) and those vicious poisons (विषेण मा न) and from the divine fire (दिव्येनाग्निना)
Please note : सं -स्रा = untie where as सं-स्राव = flow together
The synopsis and knowledge ended in the Upaniṣhad as:
या ते रुद्र शिवा तनूरघोराऽपापकाशिनी।तया नस्तनुवा शंतमया गिरिशन्ताभिचाकशीहि॥3.5Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 3.5, 3.7
You (या) Rudra of Auspicious (शिवा) body (तनू), and of fierce form (अघोरा) resident of highest place (गिरिशन्त) with your brilliant design/thought (अभिचा +काश्) which removes our avidya and karmic cycle of pāpa (अ-पापकाशिनी ) make us (नः) realize our blissful clam self(शंतमया + तनू +तया )
ततः परं ब्रह्मपरं बृहन्तं यथानिकायं सर्वभूतेषु गूढम्।विश्वस्यैकं परिवेष्टितारमीशं तं ज्ञात्वाऽमृता भवन्ति॥3.7
Henceforth/moreover, further than (ततः परं) Greatness known to us/our personal God (बृहन्त) is Brahman/infinite that is further/superior (ब्रह्म+परं ) thought each enjoyed their own bodies/individuality (यथानिकायम्) He is the indweller hidden in all (सर्व+भूतेषु+गूढम् ) he along encompasses all entirety and is its authority (विश्वस्य+ एकं+ परिवेष्टितारम + ईशाम् ) knowing/realizing that one becomes amṛta/immortal (ज्ञात्वा+अमृताः ).
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.
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 अस्त्वाहुतिभागाKṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 5.5.9 & Atharva Veda 7.87.1 & Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa Kanda 6 Brahmāṇa 3 (126.96.36.199-17) & Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 2.17 / 3.2
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