Rudra, Rudras the Gods of Hinduism
Literally speaking, Rudra means the howler or the one who is red in color. The Rudras are often identified with Maruts, the Vedic gods of storms and tempests. They are said to be eleven in number and born to Kashyapa and Aditi. They are associated with Lord Siva, as his followers and part of His retinue (siva ganas). Siva, the Destroyer, is also known as Rudra in the Vedas. Rudra is the Lord of the Rudras. Also described as Rudra Siva, He is red in color, fierce in nature and described in the Vedas as the Prince of the Rudras.
In the body Rudras represent the vital breaths, while Rudra represents the Self (atma). They are mentioned with some variations in their names, qualities and appearance both in the epics and the Puranas, which described them as gods of both malevolent and benevolent nature, who wear tiger skin, matted hair and garland of snakes around their necks. In the Bhagavadgita,
Lord Krishna says that among the Rudras He is Siva. The Matsya Purana lists the names of the eleven Rudras, who assist Vishnu in fighting the demons, namely Kapali, Pingala, Bhima, Virupaksa, Vilohita, Ajesha, Shasana, Shasta, Shambhu, Chanda and Dhruva. The Vishnu Purana lists them as Manyu, Manu, Mahmasa, Mahan, Siva, Rtudhvaja, Ugraretas, Bhava, Kama, Vamadeva and Dhrtavrata.
The Rudras and Maruts are gods of commonality, who share among themselves some common features and distinctions. The Rudras are fierce by Nature, while the Maruts are gentler and benevolent. The Vedic hymns show an attitude of both reverence and fear towards Rudra, whom they describe as "strong, most bounteous, excellently wise," who is "the lord of sacrifice, hymns and balmy medicines," and pray to him for joy, health and strength.
They beseech, Aditi, the Mother Goddess, Mitra, Varuna and Soma to make more amenable and benevolent as he was believed to be the cause of diseases and death. The seeds of rudraksha, meaning rudra eyed, is derived from rudra. They are used as prayer beads in meditations and religious chanting and chains of rudrakshas are also worn by devout Hindus around their necks for the purification of the mind and body.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Abhiman or Self Pride in Hinduism
- Abhimanyu, the Son of Arjuna
- Adi in Hindu Mythology
- Adityas, the Solar Deities
- Agni, the Vedic God of Fire
- The Concept of Avatar or Incarnation in Hinduism
- The Concept of Chakras or Energy Centers Of The Human Body
- The Concept of Atman or Eternal Soul in Hinduism
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- Belief In Atman, The Eternal Soul Or The Inner Self
- Brahman, The Highest God Of Hinduism
- The Bhagavad Gita Original Translations
- The Bhagavadgita, Philosophy and Concepts
- Bhakti yoga or the Yoga of Devotion
- Hinduism And The Evolution of Life And Consciousness
- Why to Study the Bhagavadgita Parts 1 to 4
- Origin, Definition and Introduction to Hinduism
- Symbolic Significance of Numbers in Hinduism
- The Belief of Reincarnation of Soul in Hinduism
- The True Meaning Of Renunciation According To Hinduism
- The Symbolic Significance of Puja Or Worship In Hinduism
- Introduction to the Upanishads of Hinduism
- Origin, Principles, Practice and Types of Yoga