Rudra-Śiva: Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra for liberation

Shiva as Mrityunjaya, the Conquerer of Death, 12th century Bangladesh or India (Bengal), Pala period Black stone; H. 39 in. (99.1 cm); W. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, in memory of Alice Boney, 1991 (1991.421)

The hymn composed by the Vedic Rśi Vaśiṣṭha present in three Vedas, the RigSukla Yajur, and Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda, famously known as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra or Mokshadayini Mantra is dedicated to achieving immortality. Mrityunjaya means “victory over death”; however, it is not about protecting us from just physical death, but about liberation beyond the cycle of birth and death and into the forever state of immortal truth – amṛta. With this research, we will explore the following:

  1. The exploration of Mrityunjaya Mantra and its meaning.
  2. The concept of Mrityu, and its relation to Rudra.
  3. How the Vedic people implemented Yajna to achieve immortality/liberation?
  4. How does one ask Rudra for liberation and drive away Nirṛti (death/decay)?
  5. How do the Primary Upaniṣhads describe the approach of Yoga, Meditation, and Sankhya to achieve immortality/liberation and what to do as the final act at the time of death?
  6. What do the Itihasa and Puranas have to say about Rudra and Mrityu?
  7. Finally, the Dakshina Murti form of Rudra.

Let us start with the crucial word “Sugandhim” of this mantra. Sugandhim means fragrance; in this mantra, it means the nostalgia (recollection) one has upon experiencing a certain sound or fragrance, or taste. It is this memory that surfaces during the final moments before death, and it is in these moments that one’s core compulsions rooted deep into the conditioned mind come out. The memories that arise at the time of death define our next life (upadhi).

Please note: “Trayambakam” is a title also found in Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 4.5 (Śrī Rudram), and in Sukla Yajur Veda Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā Kanda 3.56, and also in Śatapatha Brahmāṇa Kanda 2, Adhyaya 6, Brahmana 2 – which explains the Yajñá dedicated to Rudra (as Trayambaka), performed towards safety and prosperity after the war. This mantra is chanted while circling around the Yajñá Vedi and seeing oneself being separated from death and entering into the immortal truth.

त्र्यंबकं यजामहे सुगंधिं पुष्टिवर्धनं । उर्वारुकमिव बंधनान्मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ॥ 7.59.12
Oh Trayambaka, we offer our oblation (यजाम); nourish us (पुष्टि) and bestow us (वर्ध) into the trance of fragrance (सुगंधिं) | May you untie our bonds (बंधना) like a ripened gourd fruit (उर्वारु) unties itself from the stem, and take us beyond death (मृत्यु) and deplete (र्मुक्षीय) our compulsions (र्मु) and take us (मा) into the immortal state (अमृत) (मृत्यु + मोक्ष (मोह+क्षेय) + मा-अमृतात्)
Please note: सुगंधिं does not mean physical perfume, but the nostalgia one feels upon experiencing a certain sound or fragrance or taste. So it means to bestow us into the sweetness of imagining Thy Divinity during the transcendental states of dhyana/dharana.
र्क्षीय: means to deplete, and र्मुक्षीय means to deplete our moha/compulsions arising out of Avidya. मा is also an Adj & Conj used as negative as “not”.

Rig Veda 7.59 / Sukla Yajur Veda Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 3.60 / Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 1.8

The above concept is present in the Vedic Āraṇyaka and in one of the primary Upaniṣhads:

सद्योजातं प्रपद्यामि सद्योजाताय वै नमो नमः । भवेभवे नातिभवे भवस्व माम् । भवोद्भवाय नमः ॥ Taittirīya Āraṇyaka
Oh Sadyojatha (सद्योजात ), I surrender to you (प्रपद्यामि), I bow to you again and again (नमो नमः) | Existence after Existence (भवेभवे = life after life), I no more seek to come back (नाति-भवे). Liberate me from this repetition/cycle of birth and death (भवस्-व माम्). Oh one who is beyond existence (भवोद्भवाय), my salutations to thee (नमः).
Please Note: सद्योजात = Rudra’s west side face

स एव काले भुवनस्य गोप्ता विश्वाधिपः सर्वभूतेषु गूढः। यस्मिन्युक्ता ब्रह्मर्षयो देवताश्च तमेवं ज्ञात्वा मृत्युपाशांश्छिनत्ति॥ Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 4.15
He in Time (स एव काले ), the overlord/caretaker (गोप्ता) who is the one sole ruler (विश्वाधिपः) of all celestial mansions/creation (भुवनस्य), hidden indweller (गूढः) of all beings (सर्वभूतेषु ) | In whom (यस्मिन् ) the exalted sages who attained Brahmi states (ब्रह्मर्षयो) and the divine beings (देवताश्च) merge (युक्ताः ); by knowing him (तमेवं ज्ञात्वा), one releases/cuts/frees oneself (चिनत्ति) from the tethers of Death (मृत्युपाशां).

Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 10.17-21 & Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 4.15

Summary: The Trayambaka and Sadyojatha aspect of Rudra is the one who unties our bonds and saves us from the repeating cycles of birth and death. Why? Because He is the overlord of all celestial mansions and the indweller in us all. As Viṣvarūpam, He is the ruler of all celestial worlds and as the Sūkṣma Rudra, He is the indweller of all beings. This is discussed under the research topics Viṣvarūpam Rudra and Sūkṣma Rudra.

Pravargya Yajna – Caraka Katha Śākhā of Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda

Now let us see how the Vedic people used Yajna to achieve immortality. Caraka-Katha Śākhā of Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda shows us a Yajna called the Pravargya Yajna to achieve victory over recurring death for the Yajamana (the one sponsoring the Yajna). But what is the background of Katha Śākhā and the context of Mrityu?

The Pravargya Yajna is said to beat off recurring death (punarmrtyum apahanti, III 219). The discussion of recurring death represents the intermediate state in the development of Upanishadic/Vedantic thought, emerging as the theory of rebirth with karma in the Upanishads. How ‘second-death’ is to be affected seems to be dependent on the effect of this additional and more severe diksa. It is significant that the undertaking of this special observance results just like that of a normal diksa — in a kind of rebirth of the yajamana. In the present case he not only becomes another consecrated person with a new name – a diksita – but also separates himself from death by undergoing the avantaradika in the wilderness.
The Katha (Katha Shaka) clearly stands at the crossroads of traditional brahmana ideas and the beginnings of Upanishadic thought. The idea of punarmrtyu (Katha III 219 apa punarmrtyum jayati, ya evam veda) is one of the steps leading to the Upanishadic concept of Karmic rebirth. In fact, there were several strands of belief that, for the first time in Vedic thought, resulted in the idea of constant rebirth, seen gradually developing in the older Upanishads.

Caraka Katha Āraṇyaka

Now, let us understand what is rebirth (punarmrtyum) mentioned by Katha Śākhā? And how is Rudra related to this? Finally, how the Yajamana can achieve immortality as shown in the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra by Rśi Vaśiṣṭha:

The Yajamana is implicitly identified with Rudra during the Pravargya (II 100-101) (similar to Anganyasa Karanyasa done during Shiva Abhishekam). Like Rudra, he gains a new bodily form, svargakrti (II 143, cf. III 225), a ‘heavenly body’. This can be done in several ways. After taking the Pravargya vessel (kalasha = pot of water used in the fire ritual) and the other utensils eastwards (III 177), all are laid out in the form of a man. This action creates a new body for the Yajamana, with the Pravargya vessel that glowed during the ritual as his head. In sum, the sponsor of the ritual also becomes adityavarna (sun-skinned), and goes to heaven like Rudra (III 183).
In the Katha Aranyaka, this is the Pravargya, a ritual in which a blazing clay vessel (mahavira) is identified with the Sun and Rudra Mahavira. This ritual also aims at giving the sponsor of the ritual (Yajamana) a new, heavenly body. This is established by multiple Upanishad-like identifications between various entities of microcosm (man), ritual (Yajna), and macrocosm.
Please note: this heavenly body is a subtle body to ascend to heavens (sargo vai loka auttaravedikas III 233: 91.1-2)

Caraka Katha Āraṇyaka

Reading the above complex process, as a seeker one must ask two questions.First, does Rudra Adityavarna mean having a Sun-like luster? Second, does the famous Katha Upaniṣhad belonging to the same Śākhā concur with the above? The answer is yes to both. Rig Veda itself addresses Rudra with Sun-like luster along with other Vedic Saṃhitās:

अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषोऽन्तरात्मा सदा जनानां हृदये संनिविष्टः। तं स्वाच्छरीरात्प्रवृहेन्मुञ्जादिवेषीकां धैर्येण। तं विद्याच्छुक्रममृतं तं विद्याच्छुक्रममृतमिति ॥2.3.17
The Purusha, the Spirit within, who is no larger than the finger of a man, is seated for ever in the heart of creatures; one must separate Him with patience from one’s own body as one separates from a blade of grass its main fiber. Thou shalt know Him for the Bright Immortal, yea, for the Bright Immortal.

Katha Upaniṣhad 2.3.17

Freedom from Sickness, Suffering, and Sin

Does one have to be freed from sickness, sins, and suffering throughout one’s life to practice Yajna and the methods taught by the Upaniṣhad? The Vedic Saṃhitās answer this here in the Vedic hymns addressed to Soma-Rudra, found both in Atharva Veda and Rig Veda Samhitas:

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 (विषूची) all bondages/sicknesses (अमीवा) from us and our families (गय), Oh Soma and Rudra (सोमारुद्रा ), drive away (पराचै) afar ( दूरं) our pain/suffering (बाध) and death/destruction (निरृति), liberate us ( मुक्त ) even (चिद्) from those (अस्मत्) sins/papa ( एनः) committed (कृत) 7.42.1

सोमारुद्रा यु॒वमेतान्यस्मे विश्वा तनूषु भेषजानि धत्तम् |अव स्यतं मु॒ञ्चतं यन्नो अस्ति तनूषु बद्धं कृ॒तमेनो अस्मत् ॥२॥
Oh 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) sins/crimes (एनः ) we have (अस्ति) perpetrated/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 11.2.26
Rudra (रुद्र), untie (सं -स्रा) from us (नो ) those diseases (तक्म – ना ) and those vicious poisons (विषेण मा न) and the divine fire (दिव्येनाग्निना)
Please note : सं -स्रा = untie whereas सं-स्राव = flow together

 Atharva Veda 7.42.1-2 / Rig Veda 2.74 & 6.74.2 & 6.74.3:

The above is beautifully summarized in the Upaniṣhad as:

या ते रुद्र शिवा तनूरघोराऽपापकाशिनी।तया नस्तनुवा शंतमया गिरिशन्ताभिचाकशीहि॥3.5
You (या), Rudra of auspicious (शिवा) body (तनू) and of fierce form (अघोरा), resident of the 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 calm self (शंतमया + तनू  +तया ).
ततः परं ब्रह्मपरं बृहन्तं यथानिकायं सर्वभूतेषु गूढम्‌।विश्वस्यैकं परिवेष्टितारमीशं तं ज्ञात्वाऽमृता भवन्ति॥3.7
Higher/greater than this (ततः परं) greatness known to us/our personal God (बृहन्त) is Brahman/infinite that is further/superior (ब्रह्म+परं ), who is hidden in all (सर्व+भूतेषु+गूढम् ) according to their own bodies/forms (यथानिकायम्). He alone encompasses all entirety and is its authority (विश्वस्य+ एकं+ परिवेष्टितारम + ईशाम् ); knowing/realizing this one becomes amṛta/immortal (ज्ञात्वा+अमृताः ).

 Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 3.5, 3.7

Puráńas & Itihasa

Before going to the Upaniṣhads let us try Puráńas and Itihasa, and see if they concur with Rudra and his relation with Mrityu and PunarMrityu (recurring death). Rśi Sukracharya seeks Śiva and achieves Mritasanjeevini, meaning the mantra that can bring back the dead to life. Again, in another event, the Lord of Death – Yama – throws his pasha (rope) to take the life of Rśi Markandeya, but Śiva kicks Yama on his chest and kills him. In this way, Śiva becomes the Mrityu/death to the Lord of Death himself. Adi Shankara uses this example to say that it was Devi who actually kicked Lord Yama, because the left half of Maheswara is Devi. Let us go to Mahabharatam Sauptika Parva, in which Yudhishthira (Dharmaraj), in despair for losing his children and many others to Drona’s son Ashwathama, questions Śrī Kṛṣṇa (Vasudeva), to which He replies:

The holy one said, ‘Verily, Drona’s son had sought the aid of that highest of all the gods, viz., the eternal Mahadeva. It was for this that he succeeded in slaying, single-handed, so large a number of warriors. If Mahadeva be gratified, he can bestow even immortality. Girisha can give such valor as will succeed in checking Indra himself. I know Mahadeva truly, Oh bull of Bharata’s race! I know also his various acts of old. He, Oh Bharata, is the beginning, the middle, and the end of all creatures. The entire Universe acts and moves through his energy.

Mahabharatam Itihāsa Sauptika Parva 17

Similarly, Śrī Adi Śankaracharya said:

अन्नपूर्णे सदापूर्णे शङ्करप्राणवल्लभे । ज्ञानवैराग्यसिद्ध्यर्थं भिक्षां देहि च पार्वति ॥ ११॥
Devi Annapurnae, You are forever whole/full, oh beloved eternal companion of Śankara. Bestow upon me as alms the Jnana (wisdom/core essence) that leads to the meaningful outcome of Vairāgya (detachment from desires and compulsions), oh daughter of mountains, Pārvatī.

 Annapurāstakam by Śrī Adi Śankaracharya

Means to liberation in Upaniṣhad: YOGA & SANKHYA

Apart from the Yajna approach, it is time for the Upaniṣhads to discuss the path of Yoga & Sankhya as a means for liberation. Unlike Yajna, the Upaniṣhads point out the cloud of ignorance called Avidya (negation to Vidya or knowledge) as a means to condition our minds, leading to Jnana, which then leads to detachment from compulsions called Vairāgya and finally realize one’s true self (Atman) to come forth. So Rudra is both the destructive death (Nirṛti) and also the liberator from the cycle of death. This aspect of Rudra is called the Trayambaka and Sadyojatha. Let us see what the Isha and Kena Upaniṣhads have to say about Avidya and knowledge as the first bold step:

यः विद्यां च अविद्यां च तत् उभयं सह वेद अविद्यया मृर्युं तीर्त्वा विद्यया अमृतम् अश्नुते ॥ 11
अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति येऽविद्यामुपासते। ततो भूय इव ते तमो य उ विद्यायां रताः ॥9
And that (यः) knowledge (विद्यां) of the divine, and its ignorance (अ-विद्यां), both exist together (उभयं सह); and the ignorance of Veda (वेद-अविद्यया) be overcome only through knowledge (विद्यया) – to enjoy (अश्नुते) immortality (अमृतम्) by overcoming recurring death (तीर्त्वा मृर्युं).
Those who continue to live in ignorance will continue to enter deep into a dark/blind abyss (अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति); on the other hand (उ), those (य ) who rely on and get attached to information for intellect alone (विद्यायां रताः) will go deeper into great darkness (भूय तमो). ~Isha Upaniṣhad 9/11

प्रतिबोधविदितं मतममृतत्वं हि विन्दते। आत्मना विन्दते वीर्यं विद्यया विन्दतेऽमृतम्‌ ॥ 2.4
इह चेदवेदीदथ सत्यमस्ति। न चेदिहावेदीन्महती विनष्टिः।भूतेषु भूतेषु विचित्य धीराः। प्रेत्यास्माल्लोकादमृता भवन्ति ॥ 2.5
When it is known/realized through self reflection (प्रतिबोधविदितं) and in thought/mind, then one finds the answer to immortality (मतम-अमृतत्वं विन्दते) and that energy/force (वीर्यं) towards attaining this knowledge (विद्यया) also comes forth from the very Atman (आत्मन विन्दते). This leads to immortality (अमृत). (This means there is no second entity from which knowledge arises, the power source is the very atman). ~ Kenopanishad
It is here and now (इह ) that one has to find this knowledge of the Vedas (चेद-अवेदीत), and that is the true destination/goal (सत्यम-अस्ति); else, it is in this same time and in this world that comes great demise (विनष्टिः) if this knowledge doesnt come forth (न चेदिह-अवेदीत महती) for all types of beings and happenings (भूतेषु भूतेषु विचित्य). The learned/the brave ones take a leap (धीराः); they move forward (प्रेत्य) among all worlds (अस्माल्लोक), know how to chose among these two and attain (भवन्ति) immortality (अमृत) ~Kenopanishad 2.4-5

Isha Upaniṣhad 9-11 / Kenopanishad 2.4-5 (First and Second Primary Upaniṣhads)

Please note that there are various dimensions for liberation discussed on this portal, like, the Vedic Liberator Soma, through amrta, through the Path-of-Yama, and more. But what are the means? Is it Bhakti, Janan, Karma, or more? This is what the Upanishads are designed for, they are a discussion between a student and a realized Guru. Two primary Upaniṣhads, Kaivalya Upaniṣhad and Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad, give a detailed and excellent answer to this question:

नित्यो नित्यानां चेतनश्चेतनानामेको बहूनां यो विदधाति कामान्‌। तत्कारणं सांख्ययोगाधिगम्यं ज्ञात्वा देवं मुच्यते सर्वपाशैः॥
The One Eternal (नित्य) of all that is considered eternal (नित्यानां), The One Conscious (चेतन) in all consciousnesses (awareness in all); He is the Singularity (THE ONE) (एकः), Supreme Ruler and the Judge (विदधा) over all the desires/needs (कामान्) of all beings with names and forms (बहू+नाम्); He is the one source (तत्कारणम्) to which Sankhya and Yoga (सांख्य+योग) bring us. One who realizes and knows the Divine (देवम् ज्ञात्वा) through them shall be released from all tethers/bondages (सर्वपाशैः मुच्यते).

Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 6.13

Excellent, but how does one realize the Divine? What is the method? This is where Kaivalya Upaniṣhad comes into the picture:

तस्मै स होवाच पितामहश्च श्रद्धाभक्तिध्यानयोगादवैहि || 2
विविक्तदेशे च सुखासनस्थः शुचिः समग्रीवशिरःशरीरः । अन्त्याश्रमस्थः सकलेन्द्रियाणि निरुध्य भक्त्या स्वगुरुं प्रणम्य || 4
हृत्पुण्डरीकं विरजं विशुद्धं विचिन्त्य मध्ये विशदं विशोकम् ।अचिन्त्यमव्यक्तमनन्तरूपं शिवं प्रशान्तममृतं ब्रह्मयोनिम् ॥ 5
तमादिमध्यान्तविहीनमेकं विभुं चिदानन्दमरूपमद्भुतम् । तथादि उमासहायं परमेश्वरं प्रभुं त्रिलोचनं नीलकण्ठं प्रशान्तम् । ध्यात्वा मुनिर्गच्छति भूतयोनिं समस्तसाक्षिं तमसः परस्तात् ॥ 6
स एव सर्वं यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यं सनातनम् ।ज्ञात्वा तं मृत्युमत्येति नान्यः पन्था विमुक्तये ॥ 9
(Rishi Ashvalayana asked The Grandsire (grandfather/पितामहश्च) Lord Brahma for the highest hidden knowledge called the Brahma-Vidya, which is only embraced by learned sages).

(पितामहश्च वाच) Lord Brahma said: focus and confidence in the teaching of Guru/Scriptures (Shraddha श्रद्धा), surrendering oneself in devotion without ego/aham (Bhakti भक्ति), meditative contemplation (Dhyana ध्यान) of Yoga to achieve the union of oneself with reality (Yoga योगा), are the means to strive (वेह).

Lord Brahma continued: Seated comfortably in yogic posture (सुख आसन), keeping the spine, neck and head in one line (शुचिः समग्रीवशिरःशरीरः ), in a consecrated/pure/undisturbed location (विविक्त देश), with the mind like a sage (अन्त्याश्रमस्थ) – retrieving all senses inwards/turned-off (सकलेन्द्रियाणि निरुध्य) – bow down in respect to one’s guru (भक्त्या स्वगुरुं प्रणम्य). With a pure (विशुद्धं) heart centered (विरजं) like the lotus flower (हृत्पुण्डरीकं), without despair/grief or anxiety (विशदं विशोकम्), with centered focus of thoughts (विचिन्त्यमध्ये) on that which is the unthinkable (अचिन्त्यम), the unmanifest (अव्यक्तम), the infinite timeless form (अनन्त-रूपं), which is ever-auspicious (शिवं), ever-blissful and immortal (प्रशान्तम मृतं), which is the abode/womb of creation (ब्रह्म -योनि), the one that is without (विहीन) beginning or middle or end (तम दि-मध्य-न्त), the one singularity (ऐकं), the one almighty/all-pervading (विभुं), the one who is the personification of eternal bliss of Cit (चिदानन्दम -रूपम), who is astonishing/mystical (द्भुतम्), the consort of the ever-auspicious Uma (उमा सहायं ), who is the eternal self-governing ruler (परमेश्वरं प्रभुं) with three eyes (त्रिलोचनं) and a blue neck (नीलकण्ठं), who is forever peaceful in His own self (प्रशान्तम्), mediate your thoughts on this form (ध्यात्वा). A true sage (मुनिर्गच्छति) will reach/realize the source and womb of all beings (भूत-योनिं) and the only witness to all (समस्त-साक्षिं) and beyond all unmanifest (तमसः परस्तात्). He alone is the entirety and what is now and what was before (एव सर्वं यद्भूतं), He alone is great (भव्यं), He alone is eternal (सनातनम्). Knowing/realizing Him (ज्ञात्वा तं) overcomes death (मृत्यु-मत्येति) and there is no (नान्यः) approach other than this (पन्था विमुक्तये ).

Kaivalya Upaniṣhad 2

Note: Both Kaivalya and Svetasvatara are primary Upaniṣhads composed in the same time period, the 1st millennia BCE, and take the 12th and 13th position in the list of Upaniṣhads.

The Yoga Sutras are a magnificent composition that list various methods to foster one’s body and mind towards Dhyana, Dharana, and – finally – Samadhi states of meditation. The same Kaivalya Upaniṣhad gives a quick insight into yoga which is seen in the Bhagavad Gita.


In continuation to liberation, let us understand another celebrated title – Dakshina Murthi. Many interpret the word dakshina as only “South”. In Sanskrit, dahkshina means “to be on the right side” or “correct/highest position”; another meaning is “that which is linked through Yajñá (sacrificial process)”. Hence, the word Pra:dakshina, meaning to circle around the deity towards our right, signifies the stature of the deity. Since He (Śiva) is medha-patim – “the resort of Yajñá/sacrifice” RV1.43 TS1.3.14 – and is seated at the top (pinnacle) of the Himalayan mountains with the daughter of the mountains, He overlooks everything below. Hence the title Dakshina Murthi. But is it that simple? How can one seek the identity and the source of Dakshina facing Rudra? One can seek Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 4.21, which says “हे रुद्र यत् ते दक्षिणं मुखं तेन मां नित्यं पाहि॥”; here “Dakshina Mukham” does not mean facing South, it denotes the auspicious side of Him – with which He always protects. The term Highest Position does not mean just North or limited to one specific direction, because He is “dishām ca pataye” and “Pathīnāṃ-Pataye” TS4.5.2,VS16.17 – meaning the abode/lord of all celestial quarters (directions). Hence the famous title, digambara (Digeva:ambaram:asya) – meaning the one who is clad/clothed with space and all directions. Atharva Ved11.2.14-16 says to Bhava-Rudra, “नमो यतमस्यां दिशीतः” – meaning, “our salutations to you in whatever directions you are” – and it continues by saying, “salutations to you while coming or going, while seated or standing, and while day or night”. This concept gave rise to the title Cidamabara, meaning the one clad with the very consciousness (cit), hence the Chidambaram Nataraja temple in Tamil Nadu, India. While Indra, Surya, Visnu, and other solar deities are associated with the East, Śatapatha Brahmāṇa extensively associates Rudra, Soma, Varuna, and Mitras with the Northern quarter of the Yajñá Vedi AV3.7 TS2.6.6, or the topmost position. But a top position of what? This can be found when Maruts, the children of Rudra, are addressed with the three titles vidatheṣu ā-bhuvaḥ (born in knowledge), mahiṣāsaḥ māyinaḥ:citra-bhānavaḥ (the makers of māyā and of clear vision/light) and pra-cetasaḥ viśva-vedasaḥ (conscious & omniscient) RV1.64.6-10Sukla Yajur Veda Kanda 7.2 Brahmāṇa 1 narrates the story of the dual divinities Soma-Rudra, who are the dispellers of darkness because Soma is Andhaḥ, meaning remover/dispeller RV1.122,2.33.7 and Rudra becomes Andhasaspati (the lord of Soma). They destroyed the asura Svarbhānu, who created darkness by obstructing the Sun. Rudra also destroyed the Asuras in the famous story of Tripuras (the three kingdoms made of gold, silver, and iron), using Agni as the tip of the arrow, Soma as the stem of the arrow, Viṣṇu as the arrow shaft TS6.2.3/4.5.5,MB-KarnaParva34. Similarly, they dispel the darkness in people and allow the brilliance to shine forthTS4.5.10. Now, let us look at how Rig Veda sings:

ईळे अग्निं सववसं नमोभिर इह परसत्तो वि चयत कर्तं नः |रथैर इव पर भरे वाजयद्भिः परदक्षिणिन मरुतां सतोमम रध्याम || 5.60
īḷe aghniṃ svavasaṃ namobhir iha prasatto vi cayat kṛtaṃ naḥ |rathair iva pra bhare vājayadbhiḥ par-dakṣiṇin marutāṃ stomam ṛdhyām || 5.60
We send (ईळे) our oblations through Agni (अग्निं) as you are the transmitter of Yajñá (कर्तं नः), accept our praise (नमो) now (इह) oh Agni as we hand over our oblations (परसत्तो)| Oh those riders of chariots (रथैर), supreme in battle (पर भरे), we urge you (वाजयद्भिः), who are on the furthermost (पर) rightward/prestigious position as a councilor/teacher (दक्षिणिन); oh Maruts, you are equally supreme and worthy of our praise and songs (रध्याम).

अच्छा॑ वदा॒ तना॑ गि॒रा ज॒रायै॒ ब्रह्म॑ण॒स्पतिं॑ ।अ॒ग्निं मि॒त्रं न द॑र्श॒तं ॥ 1.38.13
With the chant (अच्छा॑ वदा॒) of this hymn, and by these words (गि॒रा) of invocation (ज॒रायै॒) of the Lord/resort of Wisdom (ब्रह्म॑ण॒स्पतिं॑), may Agni manifest (तना॑) || May Agni (अ॒ग्निं) show us that strikingly brilliant friend (मि॒त्रं).
please note: अच्छा॑ = voice, but here it means the chant of this mantra. And Agni’s friends are the Maruts.

Rig Veda 5.60, 1.38.13

या ते रुद्र शिवा तनूरघो॒रापापकाशिनी  4.5.1
You (या) Rudra of auspicious (शिवा) body (तनूः)(शिवा = Śivā; unified form of Śiva+Uma due to the emphasis on ā), and of fierce form (अघोरा) are the dispeller of our darkness and karmic remnants (अ-पापकाशिनी )

या ते रुद्र शिवा तनूः शिवा विश्वाह भेषजी | शिवा रुद्रस्य भेषजी तया नोमृड जीवसे
“yate Rudra Śivā tanuhu Śivā Vishvaha Bheshaji | Śivā Rudrasya Bheshaji”
Oh Rudra, you are of Śiva (auspicious) body/form. As Śivā, you are the medicine/cure (भेष॒जी) for all entirety, you are the eternal cure for all worldly ailments (विश्वाहभेषजी ). With that (तया) auspicious form (शिवा), you are the cure for our crying/suffering (रुद्रस्य), medicine (भेषजी) to provide relief/comfort/solace (मृड) to us all (न) jivas (जीवसे = all living entities).

Please note: नो मृड जी॒वसे can also be interpreted as “save our lives (जी॒वसे), keep us away (नो ) from death (मृड)”
Note: (शिवा = Śivā is the unified form of Śiva+Uma due to the emphasis on ā)

 Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 4.5.1 /

In the climax of a Yajñá, he (Adhvaryu) offers the remaining water to Agnidhra Fire. This residual water is excess and Agnidhra is excess. The Havis are combusted in Garhapatya Fire and the oblations are made in the Ahavaniya Fire. This Agnidhra is receiving what is declared in excess. That is why this is offered to the Divine Rudra, and this northern quarter where the Agnidhra resides is the quarter of the God. He offers saying “Oh Rudra! that name of yours is effective in inflicting pain on the evil/enemies; and to that name which is the highest, we offer this water!”

Sukla Yajur Veda Kanda7.3.3.4 Brahmāṇa 2

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