The birth of Rudra and Gāyatrī

Let’s contrast a metaphysical event of Prajāpati’s Yajñá from two Vedic Śākhās, the Rig Veda Bhaskala Śākhā Kausitaki Shankhyayana Brāhmaṇa Kanda 6.1-9 and Sukla Yajur Veda Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa Kanda 6 Brahmāṇa 3 (6.1.3.10-17).

In the beginning, Prajapati was alone. He desired “may I multiply”. Upon His practicing austerity, there emerged fumes called Tapo:dhuma, from which came water (This statement matches Vrita Suktam of Atharva Veda chap15). Water wished to flourish, upon austerity came foam, which a union of air and water. Foam wished to flourish and upon austerity came clay. In this way each desired to be more and so performed austerity in the following order: water > foam > clay > sand > pebbles > stone > metal ore > gold > Akṣarā (imperishable syllables/sounds). Since this bloomed into eight-folds, the 8-syllable Gāyatrī emerge. All these became the foundation for Bhumi (Earth) which spread out (prath), hence became Pṛthvī. However, in Kausitaki Brāhmaṇa only 5 emerge, which are Agni, Vayu, Adityas, Chandrama, and Uṣas. So what really emerged from Prajapati was a “desire” which is the root cause. From this desire, various phenomena emerged. Let’s go back to the event in Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, all continued their austerity for a Sāṃvatsara, meaning one Solar cycle year, and upon its dawn (Uṣas/Auṣasī) arose a child, meaning the union of Sāṃvatsara and Uṣas gave birth to a child. Please note, it takes nine months (lunar months) from conception to child’s birth, but here it says one full year, why? If we compare later literatures, both Sri Krishna and Sri Ram were in their mother’s womb for 12 months. Coming back, who is this child? And what is the name of this child?

Mahadeva 8th Century Kashmir Sculpture with Ugra and Bhava faces. Cleaveland.com article on: “guide to gods and enlightenment”

Upon birth, this child cried (arodīt); Prajāpati held this child and said “my son you are Rudra” as he is the first roar/sound. This is why Rudra is the primordial roar. Hence, please note that Rudra didn’t come as the boy, this boy was called Rudra. 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/title.
Prajāpati said “you are Śarva and so the water became him, the boy grew in greatness and kept asking for more names.
He was named Paśūpati, from him emerged flora/fauna.
He was named Ugra (the fierce one), Vayu/Wind/Air became him.
He was named Aśani, lightning became him and so did thunder.
He was named Bhava, the rain became him and the Divinity of rain is Parjanya.
He was named Mahādeva, the highest Divinity, and the moon (Soma) became him; hence He, Mahādeva with a moon on his head.
He was named īśhana (the authority/the ruler), the Sun became him (hence the title Mīḍhuṣṭama/मीढुष्टम meaning Sun in Taittirīya Saṃhitā 4.5.5).

In Kausitaki Brāhmaṇa, the event is very similar, except the boy emerges with thousand eyes, feet, and weapons. The names given to the child are also the same, except for the order. The order starts with Bhava (Water), Śarva (Fire), Paśūpati (Animals), Ugra (Plants), Mahādeva (Sun), Rudra (Moon), īśhana (food), and Aśani (Rain/Thunder/Lightning). Please note the use of natural phenomena rather than using object names like gold, clay as done by Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa.

Please Note: Rudra here is the Agni itself. And Aśani the thunder becomes the power of Indra. Mahābhāratam 7.175.96 specifies the weapon/missile of Rudra as “aṣṭacakrāṃ mahāghorāmaśaniṃ rudranirmitām“. The Saṃhitā portion of Atharva Veda 15th Kanda 18th Prayāya, known as Vrātyas Suktam states 7 of the above titles, and the only name missing is Aśani, as if Aśani is centered among the 7. Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṃhitā 4.5.5 use the same names except for Aśani, so these titles are not new, nor limited to Brahmāṇa sections. So, this nameless boy entered all aspects of creation and became creation itself. This is why Sri Rudram says “Everything is but Rudra, there is none second to Rudra”. A much detailed event can be seen in the upcoming event of Śatarudrīya article of Shukla Yajur Veda.

In the context of the Yajñá, which was performed for one full year (Sāṃvatsara) and at the end of which arose new dawn (Uṣas), from this fire-altar/Agni came all 8 forms of Rudra. These 8 forms are called the Astamurti Tatva. Together, the Agni/fire-altar, the boy, and the 8 forms of Rudra are the 3-fold state of Agni:homa. These 8 forms are the eight syllables of Gāyatrī. Since Gāyatrī is sung in 3 padas (steps) the metre is 8×3=24. In the prominent Śatarudrīya Yajñá, Prajāpati sings Sāmans like Gāyatra using the Gāyatri metre. He does so while circling around the altar three times (pradakṣiṇa) with the altar being on his right, indicating its highest stature. Among the 70 Svayambhu Liṅgas, Mritakeśwara takes the 35th position in the list and is called Gāyatrī, and also gave rise to Gāyatrī Rahsyopnishad (one of minor Upaniṣhads emulating that Rudra/Siva as the Devata of Gāyatrī/Gāyatra Mantra). Mahābhāratam Dharma Parva Section 285 (Jaya section) concurs with this by saying “Thou art the beginning and thou art the end of the Vedas, thou art the Gāyatri and thou art OM”. Now we continue into the next chapter, Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 8.2.3.6 Brahmāṇa 1. Since the child became free (Swa) and became all (roar/sound, water, wind, living beings, lightning, rain, Soma/moon & Sun), his father the Prajāpati searched for him in Agni and in Paśūs (Puruṣa, horse, bull, ram, he-goat) but the boy was not found (Apaśyat). There was only Agni, so Prajāpati realized that everything was Agnihotra. This event of the Yajñá explains the raw, unmanifested nature of Rudra who can exist in all, the innate self of all. His three eyes are Soma, Agni, and Surya and He wears a crescent moon on His head. He is “Maha” of Devas and He is “īśha” (the authority) and He is “Swa” (free/sovereign); hence He is Maheśwara (Maha + īśha + Swa)TA10.12.28/DP203, the highest of names (paranama VS10.2 and “mahó mahī́ṁ ..gr̥ṇīmási tveṣáṁ rudrásya nā́ma” RV2.33.8)

May that (प्र) reddish brown, tawny one (बभ्रु + वे), mighty chief (वृषभ), white & pure (श्वितीचि) one with highest (महो) greatness (महीं) receive our beautiful hyms in your praise (सुष्टुतिम).
as our homage (नमस्या)
I offer my oblation and glorify (गृणीम) to your splendid and brillent (कल्मलीकि) Rudra’s (रुद्रस्य) magnificant/illustrious (त्वेष) name (नाम) RV 2.33.8
Note: Cow in Vedas symbolizes knowledge and Bull symbolizes strength and leadership.

Oh Prajāpati, none other than thee to comprehend all that is created and its forms, to fulfill our heart’s desire; I offer my oblations to thee, you are father and thy sire?
Praise to that Rudra, the abode/lord of all riches, most vital highest of names, I offer my oblations to thee! VS 10.20

Rig Veda 2.33.8 / Sukla Yajur Veda Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 10.20

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