Paṅĉarudram Linga Raju
The term ‘paṅĉa’ means five, and Paṅĉarudram refers to the five sūktas in Ṛgvēda designated to the Divinity of Rudra. Rudra is one of the Divinities adored in Ṛgvēda. The earliest phase of development of Rudra as the Supreme Being is in the hymns of Ṛgvēda. Rudra is depicted as one who is the aggregate of all the powers/divinities that are worshipped, and is glorified in these hymns. These hymns are as follows. Sūkta 43 of maṇḍala one has nine mantras/verses as follows. When shall we sing the most grateful hymn to the wise the most bountiful and the mighty Rudra who is cherished in our hearts? So that Aditi/earth may be induced to grant the grace of Rudra to our cattle, our people, our cows and our progeny. That Mitra and Varuṇa, and Rudra and all the divinities may remember us and show favor. From Rudra who is the Lord of the hymns, the Lord of the sacrifices and the possessor of medicaments that confer delight, we ask for joy and health and strength. He shines in splendor like the Sun, is refulgent as bright gold, is the best among the gods and is the provider of habitations. May He grant health and well being to our steeds, our rams, our ewes, our men, our women, and our cows. O Sōma (Moon), grant us prosperity sufficient for a hundred men, and much strength-engendering food. Let not the adversaries of Sōma, nor our antagonists, hinder us; Indu, give us a share of strength. Sōma, the immortal and abiding in an excellent dwelling, have regards for your subjects, as they serve you their head, in the hall of sacrifice. Sūkta 114 of maṇḍala one has eleven verses. The descriptions of Rudra in these are as follows - Strong, Lord of the Heroes, has braided hair, bounteous one, ruler of valiant men, the wise, the wanderer, impetuous one, perfects sacrifices, wild-boar of the sky, the red, dazzling shaped, hand filled full of Sovran medicines, Maruts’ father, immortal one, most favoring benevolence, and such. Again these are all glorifying descriptions of Rudra; there is no terrifying feature. Many requests are made of Rudra, and even most of these are for his benevolence – Rudra, be well with all our cattle and all our men, in the village all be healthy and well fed, be gracious unto us, bring us joy, under your guidance may we gain health and strength, come to our families bringing them bliss, repel the anger of Gods from us, grant us protection, shelter and a secure home, grant us the food which the mortals eat, be gracious unto me, my seed and progeny. Some requests may give the impression that Rudra can be terrifying when angry - harm not either great or small of us, harm not the growing boy, harm not the full grown man, slay not a sire among us, slay no mother here and do not harm our own dear bodies, slay not our heroes in the fury of your wrath, give us happiness, far away be the dart/arrow that may kill men or cattle, your bliss be with us, be gracious unto us, bless us and protect us. Sūkta 33 of maṇḍala two is the longest with 15 mantras/verses. The adorations about Rudra are – Father of Maruts, has most saving medicines, chief of all born, armed with the thunder, mightiest of the mighty, best of all physicians, physician curing the disease of transmigration which is the cycle of births and deaths, has gracious hand, remover of the woe that Gods send, strong one, great, tawny, fair-complexioned, brilliant, has firm limbs, multiform, adorned with bright gold decorations, Sovran of this world, the mighty, carries bow and arrows, wears a necklace, no one else is mightier, the chariot-borne, the young, the famous, fierce, slaying like a dread beast of the forest, Bounteous Giver, Lord of Heroes, giver of medicines, Bounteous God and such. Sūkta 74 of maṇḍala six is titled Sōma-Rudra; it has only four verses. O Sōma-Rudra let these our sacrifices quickly reach you; placing in every house your seven great treasures, bring blessing to our quadrupeds and bipeds. Sōma and Rudra, chase the sickness that has visited our dwelling; drive away misfortune/poverty into the distance, and give us excellent and happy glories. O Sōma-Rudra, provide for our bodies all needful medicines to heal and cure us; set free and draw away the sin committed which we have still inherent in our persons. Armed with sharp shafts and weapons, kind and loving, Sōma and Rudra, be gracious unto us; release us from the noose of Varuṇa; keep us from sorrow in your tender loving-kindness.
Baandhavya September 2013