Soma & Rudra & Amṛta : Liberation / Mukti

Śiva with Crescent Moon (Dakshina Murti)

Soma is a unique concept in the Vedas addressed with many variations. As we have discussed in the introduction, the Vedic concepts used by Rishis are of 3 categories, the material, the divine, and the Yogic plane (adhibhautikaadhidaivika, and adhibhautika). Hence Soma is a Deva and a masculine king, Somā is also a feminine divinity who accompanies Rudra. Sometimes Rudra is Somā TS4.5.8. The same Soma is the home of ṛta RV1.43, Soma is also the juice of a plant used in Yagna as a substitute for Amṛta. The Soma herb as explained in Atharva Veda is the foremost and pure AV11.6.15 and is the divine energy of all flora/vegetation AV5.24.7,GS1.16. At times, Soma is the celestial Moon described in Atharva Veda 10 & 11.6.9 which says “Soma; whom the learned men call Chandrama the Moon making all delight” and “The Supreme Being keeps making Soma, the eternal delight” which is empirical to amṛta dripping from the crescent moon on Śiva’s head, but before we make this conclusion let’s explore further. Sometimes, Soma is the full moon belonging to the Tiṣya/Pusya month, on this day oblations are given to Rudra. Monday is called Somavara and is the day of Śiva TS2.2.10. Kausitaki Brāhmaṇa 6 makes it very clear when it says “Rudra is Chandrama” which matches with Śatapatha Brahmāṇa of Śukla Yajur Veda 6.3 wherein the Mahadeva expansion of Rudra is Chandrama/moon. Similar to Rudra, the concept of Soma enters into various aspects of the Yajñá (Yagna). In this way, Soma enters into the offering of the Soma:latha juice, into clarified butter (ghee) used in Yagna, or the full moon, into medicines, into amṛta, and is the very ṛta. In other places, Somapavamana, meaning the purified/clarified/refined version of Soma, gave rise to both Indra and Viṣṇu during Yajñá RV9.96.5. This does not mean Viṣṇu takes physical birth because various divine concepts (Devas) emerge during various states of Yajñá performed by Prajāpati. Soma is also addressed as an additive to milk or ghee used as Medha (offering) of Yajñá. Soma is also used as a synonym for amṛta and it is this Soma that the Devas compete RV1.108, Indra more than others, as his strength comes from the divine Soma through which He and other Devas conquered all the worlds RV8.92/9.62.29. It is this Soma that gives them health, immortality, and strength to fight off Vṛtra, allowing room for ṛta. To this, the Maruts provide their support. Many dualities are paired among various divine concepts in the Vedas, like Mitra-Varuna, similarly, Rudra and Soma are paired together as a dual divinity across Vedas and are treated as one. Atharva Veda also pairs Bhava and Rudra as dual divinity AV11.2.15, similarly, all 8 aspects of Rudras become one concept, hence both Rudra and Soma are collective divinities, and they accompany each other, hence there is significant overlap between them until Sri Rudram TS4.5.8 definitively labels Rudra is Somā and this statement landed in Maitreya Upanishad 3.03 (Minor Upanishad associated with realization and Brahman). So what is the difference between Soma and Somā? Let’s start with the concept amṛta and analyze our way towards various aspects of Soma.

AMRTA: The term amṛta means immortality – not of physicality but of endless existence – which is the state of consciousness and eternal bliss/truth. Sri Aurobindo explains it profoundly as:

amṛta : The truth, satya, of endless existence and eternal consciousness evident in the highest world of Heaven, sat-cit-tapas, and latent here, in worlds of the Earth. It can be ours due to change of the Law of works (vrata) of the Earth in the course of its divine transformation.

Soma: is the lord of the immortalising nectar, he is the god of Ananda, the divine bliss which belongs to the Amrita or divine nature of Sacchidananda and is its foundation. The most high seat of the truth, Mahas, the pure ideal principle which links the kingdom of Immortality to our mortal worlds, is peopled with the children of Immortality — we recall at once the phrase of the Upanishad, visve amritasya putrāh, all ye children of immortality — and the lord of Ananda is to take them into his being through knowledge, the head, through enjoyment, the navel. By Ritam, the ideal Truth, the Rishi ascends through the gates of Ananda, divine beatitude, out of this death into the kingdom of Immortality, “mrityum tīrtwā amritam asnute”.

Sri Aurobindo, Lexicon of Rig Veda
Ksherasagara Madhana to achieve amṛta

This amṛta significantly applies to Soma and Rudra, later to AgniRV7.4.6 who is an intermediatory between Devas, and also to the Maruts; but in a few instances, it applies to Mitra-Varuna as they are the deliverers of Soma. Soma and amṛta signify truth, medicines, knowledge, health, and immortality which are the same as Rudra, as he is pra-jāḥ amṛtasya “immortals family possessing the amṛta” and parasmin dhāman ṛtasya “home to the highest truth (ṛtasya)” RV1.43. Rudras are also called “the physician among physicians” RV2.33.4 or “the Divine Physician VS16.5” since He possesses thousands of well-needed medicines “सहस्रं ते स्वपिवात भेष॒जा”RV7.46.3/TS1.8.22/4.5.10. Hence, the hymns “Our homage to the Immortal One, to that Rudra of the thousand eyes” AV11.2.3 as they possess the amṛta RV10.93.4, and they specifically declare that there are no young or elderly in their gana (group) RV2.33,5.58/59. We have also seen that the Maruts are addressed as the children of Pṛśni (Vedic cow of knowledge). Three profound titles describe them as “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 and omniscient) RV1.64.6-10Like all Devas is Rudra also offered Soma? It is on very rare occasions that Rudra is offered Soma, in those rare occasions it’s in a metaphorical sense because Soma is already conjoined with Rudra, why? Because Soma-Rudra becomes conceptually one entity in many hymns and the very first homage to Rudra is conjoined with Soma RV1.43, but this duality soon becomes one in Rig Ved6.74, by the time of Śrī Rudram of Taittirīya Saṃhitā Anuvākam 7, it dawns even more clearly with its primary declaration “nama somāya ca rudrāya ca” KYV 7.1 and “Lord of Soma” KYV5.4 and in contrast, He is also the “Lord of removing darkness” hence the title Andhasaspati. By the time we reach the Āraṇyakas, He is called “एतथ्सोमस्य सूर्यस्य सर्वलिङ्गग्ग् स्थापयति पाणिमन्त्रं पवित्रम्” meaning “you as this Soma and Surya and all union/signs you stand firm held with purity/holy/sinless”TA10.16.34.16. A much clearer description is given in Brahmāna 1 of Sukla Yajur Vedā Chapter 3, called Śatarudrīya, in an Anuvākam given to Drāpa as “the remover/dispeller”. So, who is this dispeller of darkness/ignorance? It is Andhasa, meaning Soma, and Rudra is Andhasaspati “अन्धसस्पते” TS4.5.10, meaning the “Lord of Soma”. Hence, in the Itihāsa and Puráńic realm, Śiva is iconified as Somnath – with a crescent moon on the forehead dripping amṛta. This concept of and its relation with Rudra gave raise to literature like Amritanada Upaniṣhads (one of the minor Upaniṣhad associated with Vedanta and Yoga Darshana). Many derivatives then emerged – like Somashekhara in Peringottukara Kerala, Somadeva, Somaskanda, even Somavāra (a day of Śiva) and Someshwara in Kolar and Somanath in Gujrat, and since Soma is called Chandra, Śiva is called Chandrashekara. Taittirīya Saṃhitā 2.2.11 gives us a brief glimpse into an event where both Ausras and Devas reach a disagreement and when they leave, Soma leaves with Rudras and Agni leaves with Vasus, Indra with Maruts and Varuna with Ādityās.

There are various names given to the three-eyed Śiva, like trayambakam and Virūpākṣa, but there exists a celebrated title “Soma:suragni Lochana“, meaning the one with Soma, Surya, and Agni as His three eyes, which we have discussed with various references in the “Appearance of Rudra” section. Finally, there also exists a unique aspect wherein Soma is described as a conjoined expression that is called bahuvrihi in Sanskrit grammar. “Soma” = “sa” (along with) + “uma” (Parvati), very similar to the title “Sambha Sadasiva” = sa” + ambha meaning along with Ambha (Uma) forever is Śiva. This conjoined expression is not by accident or oversight; many Vedic gurus and acharyas concurred with this aspect. “Sa” means to come along or to accompany, and the divinity that accompanies Rudra is Soma. Ganas/Maruts also accompany Rudra, but they are clearly stated as children. One reference can be found in Sukla Yajur Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 4.20-36, wherein Soma is addressed as the Mother and as the Goddess to Gods and says “Rudra to return safely with Soma as your companion” hence the expression “Sa+Uma”, so Soma is also addressed as Rudrā (emphasis on the ā denotes the inclusion of feminine essence in conjunction to masculine, for example when we say “om nama Śivāya” the emphasis on ā denotes both Śiva+Śivā similar to Ādityā, and Chandrā). Grihya Sutra of Paraskara Sukla Yajur Veda makes a bold description by saying “She the Mother of Rudras (Maruts) is the daughter of Vasus and the sister of Ādityas and is the center/navel of all immortality”. And we know with certainty that Soma is the center of all immortality and amrta. There is however no distinct declaration in Veda in which states Soma is Uma the daughter of Himavat, yet from the description seen above Soma is the life, creation and the means to liberation itself hence derived as Sa+Uma by many scholars. Before we enter into the next section of liberation let’s visit Rig Veda 8.48.3 and compare this with our first hymn from Rig Veda 1.43 and see how well they both fit, also this exact hymn landed in Atharvaśiras Upaniṣhad (one of the minor Upaniṣhad belonging to Atharva Veda yet referred by Adi Śankaracharya on multiple occasions).

अपाम सोमममृता अभू॒मागन्म ज्योतिरविदाम देवान् किं नू॒नमस्मान्कृणवदरातिः किमु धू॒र्तिरमृत मर्त्य॑स्य RV 8.48.3
We consumed/attained the Divine Soma, we are now immortal, We have attained the brilliance/light/wisdom, we have witnessed the divine, what have we (the ignorant mortals/suffering/illusions) to fear, being that immortal?

He is “the resort/lord to all hymns/songs”, He is “the resort/lord of all yajñá/sacrifice”, and “He is bliss”. Rudras as the family of immortals possessing amṛta/soma and this Soma is the home to Supreme Truth (ṛtasya). RV 1.43

Rig Veda 8.48.3 / 1.43

PATH OF YAMA: there is a unique hymn that defines the word immortal on a different plane, the “Path of Yama“, and the home to the Supreme Truth (ṛta). Liberation is not an act or a goal, it is to realize the true nature of the self that is superimposed with a cloud of misinformation called Avidya. Andhasah is the “remover/dispeller of A:vid” through knowledge (Vid). But knowledge of what? It is the knowledge of the true nature of the self. Atharva Veda 10.2 is a hymn by Rśi Nārāyaṇa with Devata as Pūrusha asks the question on our behalf, which is “Which Divinity, what only Deity placed sacrifice in Pūrusha? Who gave him truth and falsehood? Whence came Death and immortality?”

यद्यू॒यं पृ॑श्निमातरो॒ मर्ता॑सः॒ स्यात॑न ।स्तो॒ता वो॑ अ॒मृतः॑ स्यात् ॥ 1.38.4
Though you (यद्यू॒यं), who were born to Prishni (पृ॑श्नि :मातरो॒ = cow of knowledge), are mortal (मर्ता॑सः॒), those who sing your hymns become immortal (not physical immortality, but a state of eternal consciousness: satyam. (This hymn is explained in detail in Satarudriya Yagna later in Sukla Yajur Veda)

मा वो॑ मृ॒गो न यव॑से जरि॒ता भू॒दजो॑ष्यः । प॒था य॒मस्य॑ गा॒दुप॑ ॥1.38.5
For you (वो॑) one will not (मा ) become (भू॒दnegligible (अजो॑ष्यः) like a wild beast (मृ॒गो) or a pasturage cattle (यव॑से) Those who invoke you (जरि॒ता) attain (गा॒दु) the path (प॒था) of Yama (य॒मस्य॑).
Note: Yama here is not the Puráńic identity of physical death, but the guardian of highest truth (satyam)
pra-jāḥ amrtasya = immortals possessing the elixir (amṛta)parasmin dhāman ṛtasya = home to the highest truth || 1.43

एवा बभ्रो वृषभ चेकितान यथा देव न हृणीषे न हंसि । हवनश्रुन्नो रुद्रेह बोधि बृहद्वदेम विदथे सुवीराः ॥
Certainly (एवा ), oh mighty chief/overlord (वृषभ ) with tawny/reddish hue (बभ्रो ), henceforth we proclaim (यथा ) the all-knowing/omniscient Divine (चेकितान देव) , forgive us/not punish us (न हृणी), be not angry (न हंसि ), hear our oblation (हवनश्रुन्न) and direct us on this occasion (विदथ), oh powerful (बृहद्व) Rudra of perfect wisdom/speech (बोधि), bless us with noble and heroic successors (सुवीरा) || 2.33.15

Rig Veda 1.38/43, 2.33

Is there any reference to Rudra and Yama other than the Rig Veda? Yes, Sukla Yajur Veda Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 16.33 says “Homage to the one allied to Yama”. And Caraka-Katha Āraṇyaka III-239 states that when the yagamana (one performing the Yajñá) makes mistakes, then Rudra will become Yama (death), this deadly aspect of Rudra is called Nirṛti (निरृति), hence Rig Veda 6.74.2 requests Rudra to drive away that Nirṛti. Further, Mahābhāratam Karna Parva 34 says “The illustrious Rudra is Death’s self, the year becomes his bow; Kala Ratri the Death-night therefore, which is Rudra’s shadow” and Drona Parva – Nārāyaṇastra-mokshana Parva 203 calls Rudra “You are Yama”. Among the 70 Svayambhu Liṅgas Vrishasthāna takes the 40th position in the list and is called Yamaliṅga. Mahābhāratam in its Anushasana Parva section 141 also explains how Rudra as Maheswara tells Devi Uma that He resides in cremation grounds as this is considered most auspicious on Earth. Even Veda Vyasa also describes this in Drona Parva, Nārāyaṇastra-Mokshana Parva, Section 203. Now that we know the Path-of-Yama (of Truth) and the abode of the Supreme Truth (Rudra), how does one ask Rudra for liberation? How to ask Rudra to drive away from this Nirṛti? Well, the hymn composed by Rśi Vaśiṣṭha in three Vedas, the Rig Veda 7.56Sukla Yajur Veda Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 3.60 and Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 1.8, famously known as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra or Mokshyadayani Mantra, 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 immortals’ truth – amṛta. The concept of Mrityu is well explained in the Pravargya Yajna belonging to the Katha Śākhā, which we will explore soon. Please note the word “Sugandhim”, which usually means fragrance, but here it means the nostalgia one feels upon experiencing a certain sound or fragrance or taste. It is this nostalgia 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 – arise, and it is this nostalgia and thoughts that define the next life (upadhi). Through the path of Yoga, one has to condition their mind towards Ishwara or remove the cloud of Avidya, and through detachment from compulsions (Vairāgya), one’s true self can come forth. One must note the title “Trayambakam“, which we discussed earlier, is 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 Tryambaka performed towards the safety and prosperity after the war. This mantra is chanted while circling around the Yajñá Vedi and seeing oneself be separated from death and enter into the immortal truth. So Rudra is both the destructive death (Nirṛti) and also the liberator from the cycle of death as Tryambaka.

त्र्यंबकं यजामहे सुगंधिं पुष्टिवर्धनं । उर्वारुकमिव बंधनान्मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ॥ 7.59.12
Oh Triambaka (3 eyes/seasons), 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 (अ॒मृत॑) (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 use as negative as “not”.

Rig Veda 7.59

Before we link this hymn to Caraka-Katha Śākhā and witness its evolution, let’s take notice of how the above landed in Āraṇyaka and one of the primary Upaniṣhad:

सद्योजातं प्रपद्यामि सद्योजाताय वै नमो नमः । भवेभवे नातिभवे भवस्व माम् । भवोद्भवाय नमः ॥
Oh Sadyojatha (सद्योजात = Rudra’s west side face) I surrender on to you (प्रपद्यामि) I bow to you again and again (नमो नमः) | Existance after Existance (भवेभवे = life after life) not more do I seek to comeback (नाति-भवे) liberate me from this repetation (भवस्-व माम्) oh one who is beyond existance (भवोद्भवाय) my salutations to thy (नमः)

स एव काले भुवनस्य गोप्ता विश्वाधिपः सर्वभूतेषु गूढः। यस्मिन्युक्ता ब्रह्मर्षयो देवताश्च तमेवं ज्ञात्वा मृत्युपाशांश्छिनत्ति॥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) the divine beings (देवताश्च) merge into (युक्ताः ) by knowing him (तमेवं ज्ञात्वा) are released/cuts/free oneself (चिनत्ति) from the tethers of Death (मृत्युपाशां).

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

The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra has its linkage from Rig Veda to Yajur Veda Saṃhitās, but the Caraka-Katha School (Śākhā) of Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda places this homage into implementation as a part of its Pravargya Yajna, not that this hymn is not present in this Shaka1 so let’s see how the Yajamana of Yagna goes beyond death giving us a practical relevance to this hymn. So let’s start with a little background of Katha Śākhā’s basis and move to the context of Mrityu:
[1: Caraka-Katha Saṃhitā 9.7 & Kapiṣṭhala-Katha Saṃhita 8.10 have the same Hymn but their manuscripts are only found in fragments and as a whole are forever lost]

The Pravargya 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 thought, emerging as the theory of rebirth with karma in the Upanisads. 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 in addition, he 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.

Now, let’s understand what is rebirth (punarmrtyum) mentioned by Katha Śākhā, and how is Rudra related to this, and finally how the Yajamana can achieve what is mentioned in Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra by Rśi Vaśiṣṭha:

The Yajamana is implicitly identified with Rudra during the Pravargya (II 100-101). 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 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 Pravargay vessel that glowed during the ritual as his head. In sum, the sponsor of the ritual also becomes adiyavarna ‘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 identification 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)

From reading the above, as a seeker one must ask two questions, Is Rudra Adiyavarna “Sun-like luster”? Second, does the famous Katha Upaniṣhad concur with the above? The answer is yes to both. Rig Veda itself addresses Rudra with Sun-like luster along with other Vedic Saṃhitā. Coming to Katha Upaniṣhad which itself is a primary Upaniṣhad that belongs to Caraka-Katha Śākhā says:

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

We will go into detail about Caraka-Katha Śākhā soon but let’s explore other Vedic Saṃhitā in relevance with liberation. Here is how Atharva Ved7.42.2 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 11.2.26
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

 Atharva Veda 7.42.1-2

The synopsis of immortality and liberation and knowledge ended 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 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 ).

 Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 3.5, 3.7

Let’s 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), for 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, O bull of Bharata’s race! I know also his various acts of old. He, O 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: We discussed various dimensions to liberation, through Soma, through amrta, through the Path of Yama, and more. We also realized the Vedic Divinities associated with it. But what are the means? Is it Bhakti, Janan, Karma, or more? This is what the Upanishads are designed for, a discussion between a student and a realized Guru. Two primary Upaniṣhads, Kaivalya, and Svetasvatara Upaniṣhads are good examples:

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+योगा) bring us. One who realizes and knows thy Divine (देवम् ज्ञात्वा) through them shall release all tethers/bondages (सर्वपाशैः मुच्यते).

Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 6.13

तस्मै स होवाच पितामहश्च श्रद्धाभक्तिध्यानयोगादवैहि
(to Rishi Ashvalayana asked Lord Brahma for the highest knowledge hidden away and embraced by learned sages known as Brahma Vidya) to that The Grandsire (grandfather) (पितामहश्च) Lord Brahma said (वाच): focused confidence in teaching of Guru/Scriptures (Shraddha श्रद्धा), Dissolve/Surrender oneself in devotion without ego/aham (Bhakti भक्ति), in meditative contemplation (Dhyana ध्यान), in Yoga/Union of oneself with reality (Yoga योगा) are the means to strive (वेह)

Kaivalya Upaniṣhad 2

Note: Both Kaivalya and Svetasvatara belong to be composed in the same timeframe which is the 1st millennia BCE and are primary Upaniṣhads which take the 12th and 13th position in the list of Upaniṣhads.

DAKSHINA MURTHI: 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, hence 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” doesn’t mean facing South, it denotes the auspicious side of Him with which He always protects. The term Highest Position doesn’t 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, which seated or standing and while day and night”. While Indra, Surya, Visnu, and other solar deities are associated with 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)| o those rides of Chariots (रथैर), supreme in battels (पर भरे), we urge to you (वाजयद्भिः) who is on the furthermost(पर) rightward/prestigious position as a councilor/teacher (दक्षिणिन), oh Maruts, you are equally supreme 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 may thy Agni embody/manifest (तना॑), and by these words (गि॒रा) of invocation (ज॒रायै॒) of the Lord/resort of Wisdom (ब्रह्म॑ण॒स्पतिं॑) || May Agni (अ॒ग्निं) show us that friend (मि॒त्रं) with your brilliance.
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) is 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 to your the medicine/cure (भेष॒जी) to all entirety, you are eternal cure to all worldly ailments (विश्वाहभेषजी ) With that (तया) auspicious form (शिवा) you are the cure to our crying/suffering (रुद्रस्य) (samsara/avidya) medicine (भेषजी) is the relief to us all (न) jivas (जीवसे all living entities) comfort/solace (मृड).

Please note: नो मृड जी॒वसे᳚ : can also interpreted as “save our lives (जी॒वसे᳚) 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 /

एष ऐत्यवीरहा रुद्रो जलापभेषजी । 14.3.3
this come our Hero (वीर) Rudra with your liquid (जलाप) medicens (भेषजी).
जलाप = Controler of water/liquid

Atharvana Veda Paippalāda Saṃhitā 14.3.3

In the climax of a Yajñá the remaining water he (Adhvaryu) offers 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 to the evil/enemies and which is Highest, to that name we offer this water!”

Sukla Yajur Veda Kanda7.3.3.4 Brahmāṇa 2

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