Rudra Mahimai – English Translation

Based on lots of requests for English translation, Shri Karthik Sundaram ( had done a fantastic translation work.


Sri Rudra worship ranks amongst the foremost modes of worship practiced in Hinduism since ancient times. Lord Siva is referred to as “Sri Rudra” in Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and itihasas. He is also addressed as “Maha Rudra” as he is the head of the Rudra’s army (Rudra Sena). Even though “Rudra” refers to Siva paramatma, it is also to be understood that this term is also used to refer to many individuals and groups.

In Saiva agamas and traditions, the five great Gods – Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheswara and Sadasiva evolved from the Parasiva. These five Gods respectively perform the duties of creation, preservation, destruction, blessing and hiding as elucidated in the Saiva Siddanta texts. Moreover, it is understood from Saiva tantras that this universe originated from “Kalagni Rudra” and in the end attains its dissolution in Him.

Is He One..? Eleven..? Many..?

It is mentioned in the Sivapuranas that Lord Siva created the Rudras from Brahma’s forehead to help Brahma in his Creation duties. These eleven rudras are referred to as “Ekadasa Rudras”. They have been potrayed as Mahasakthi’s Guardian deities in the Sakta tantra texts. In this manner, descriptions of countless Rudras as the sentries of Sri Lalitha Tripurasundari’s “Sri Chintamani graha” can be found.

The portion of the Vedas that praise Rudras is known as ShataRudreeyam. In addition, it is understood that even humans can become part of the Rudra ganas through their power of penance. Since many groups were prevalent amongst them, they were also called as “Rudrapalganatthar” (“Rudras of many groups”).

Is Rudra a Tamil word Or a Sanskrit word? – This by itself is a topic of heavy research.

In Tamil, “Ru” means “Higher” and “diram” means “path”. Hence “Rudra” means “one who tries to walk the high path”. It was believed that for such practitioners, their third eye of wisdom would open. This third eye was referred to as “Rudra’s eye” (Rudrakkan)”. Such men came to be known “One with Rudra’s eyes” (“Rudrakkannar”). It is believed that there once existed a land called “Lemuria”, inhabited by Tamils and later consumed by the sea. Few researchers opine that many of the Tamils that lived here possessed the third eye and these were the “Rudras”. “Rudra” in Sanskrit means “one who makes you cry”. To the question “Who is made to cry?” they respond with “Bad ones”. In addition, they also refer to Rudra as the one who drives out sorrow. This meaning can be found in a couplet from the “Kandapurana”.

Eleven Rudras

Once upon a time Brahma became incapable of performing the Creation activity. When He fell down dead from exhaustion, his body split and arose in eleven forms through the grace of Lord Rudra. These eleven forms are the “Ekadasa Rudras” as per Mathysa Purana.
This story is found in other texts with some variations. On Brahma’s request, Siva created the eleven Rudras from Brahma’s forehead. On seeing them, Brahma fainted and these Rudras took up the Creation activity thereafter. Each Rudra created One Crore similar Rudras. After Brahma woke up from this stupor, he sighted Eleven Crore Rudras, became angry and cried and petitioned Siva.
Hence, Lord Siva ordered the Rudras to stop the Creation activity. He created a separate world for the Rudras and asked them to go and live there. The Linga that the Rudras worshipped is known as “Rudrakoteeswara”.

It is mentioned that these Rudras reside even beyond their world in Soldiers that fight, their Weapons of war and in their Anger.
These Rudras are not worshipped in the Idol form. Though they are typically worshipped in the form of Eleven Lingas, in the Kanchi Kailasanathar temple, idols of Ekadasa Rudras can be found.

The names of these Eleven Rudras are Mahadeva, Hara, Rudra, Sankara, Neelalohita, Esana, Vijaya, Bhimadeva, Bhavodbhava, Kapali and Sowmya.

It is also understood that in their Lingas the following weapons would be engraved respectively – “Thomaram”(??), “Kodi”(Flag), “Val”(sword), “Vajram”(Thunderbolt), “Ambu”(Arrow), “Ankusa”(??), “Mani”(Bell), “Tamarai”(Lotus), “Thandu”( Stem), “Vil”(Bow) and “Mazhu”(??)

In the Srimad Bhagavatha too, the history of Rudras is mentioned slightly differently. Their names are Aja, Ekapada, Agniputra, Virupaksha, Raivata, Hara, Padarupa, Tryambaka, Asuresa, Savitra and Sayanta.

Thirunavukkarasa has sung in praise of Kanchi Ekambara where he refers to Ekadasa Rudras worshipping the Lord Ekambara.

“Shatam” means Hundred. In this way, for the eight directions, Heaven and Underworld there are ten Rudras for each direction and these Hundred Rudras are known as “Shata Rudras”. The names of these 100 Rudras are also mentioned in many texts. The Vedas too extol them. They are mentioned as capable of flying over the Sea and Sky, bear the “Deer” and “Mazhu (??)”, and are similar to Siva in appearance.

When the Vedas refer to Indra and other devas, the “Nama:” is mentioned after their names. However, the same Vedas mention the “Nama:” before Rudra respectfully. The Vaidika Saivities firmly believe that these Vedic portions refer only to the Maha Rudra shining as the Parama Siva.

Lord Siva granted the Pasupathastra to Arjuna. The great weapon that He gave Shanmukha is known as “Rudra Pasupathastram” as mentioned in the Kandapuranam.

Sri Rudram and Sri Rudra Japa

Trayee Vidya refers to Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas and Yajur Veda is the central portion. This is branched into Shukla and Krishna Yajur vedas. In the Krishna Yajur Veda, there are Seven Cantos(parts) in the Taittireeya samhita of which Sri Rudram is the Fifth “Prasna” (chapter) of the Fourth canto.

There are Eleven “Anuvakas” (Paragraphs) in Sri Rudram. This is referred to variedly as Sri Rudram, Maha Rudram, Shata Rudreeyam and Namakam. It is a wonder of wonders that Siva Nama is embedded in the center of the Sri Rudram.

Chanting Sri Rudram standing in water is supposed to bring in the rains. This is used without fail during Siva linga Abhisheka and Siva Puja.

Many have translated Sri Rudram into Tamil and tried to give it a poetic form in Tamil. Sri Rudram is considered as a main authoritative text for Saivites.

Thirunavukkarasa Nayanar’s “Thirutthandagam” is praised as the Tamil version of Sri Rudram.

With respect to Sri Rudra chanting, Sri Ekadasarudreeyam, Rudra ekadasi, Maharudram and Atirudram are the group worship modes practiced amongst the vaidik Saivites.

Nowadays, in temples like Chidambaram, Ekadarudra homa has become very popular. As a result of these, immediate grace of Lord Siva is said to be obtained. In the Periapurana, “Rudra pasupathy Nayanar” is counted amongst the 63 Nayanars. He is one who chanted the Sri Rudram. He is not referred to as having performed any other type of worship or service to Siva Bhaktas. Hence, to highlight the benefits of chanting Sri Rudram alone, his history is said to be included in the Periapurana.
Rudraveena, Rudraprayag, Rudraparvat, RudraRishi Durvasa, Chaturdasi Rudravrata, Rudrapatta, Rudragni, Rudradeepa are to be thought of as related to Sri Rudra.

Rudra Worship

To have temples for Ruda Murti is very rare. RudraMaanikkuli BhimaRudra temple is one such popular temple. Near Kadalur, in ThiruMaanikkuli, there is the temple of “Ambujakshi” sameta “Vamanapureeswara”.

Here, in front of the Sanctum, on a Blue cloth curtain, the form of Bhimasankar is woven with Red threads. This form is done with great workmanship and is seen with Flames of fire (“Agnijwala”) and eight hands. All the pujas performed during the four times of the day are only for this deity etched in the curtain. Post the puja, only the Camphor Deeparadhana is performed for the Shivalinga in the Sanctum. The background behind this unique practice is found in the many sthala purana stories associated with this temple.

Similarly, in the Naganathaswamy temple in Kumbakonam, pujas are performed for the Pralayakaala Rudra.

In Thiruvenkadu, there is a beautiful huge form of Aghora Rudra.

In Thiruvannamalai, there is a sannidhi for KalagniRudra. But this murti is worshipped as Bhairava.

On similar lines, figures of the Ashta Rudras – Bhava, Sarva, Esana, Pasupathy, Rudra, Ugra, Bhima, and Mahadeva have been identified by researchers on the temple perimeter walls in Thirukadayur. But the names of the Ashta vasus have been framed over the above in what could be a case of mistaken identity.
It is said that Lord Siva performs the Rudratandavam (Rudra dance) in the “Mayanam” (Tamil: burial ground).
Here “Maya” means “Creation” and “Ayanam” means “following the way”. Some seniors opine that it is wrong to say that the word “Mayanam” is derived from the Sanksrit “Smasanam”(Sanskrit: burial ground). Hence, it is understood that the Rudra worshippers and Pasupathas called their way as “Maayaanam”.
The five Mayanams of Kacchhi Mayanam, Thirukadavoor Mayanam, Veezhi Mayanam, Kaazhi Mayanam and Naaloor Mayanam are shown to be of significance to Siva worshippers.
Though, at present there is no evidence of Rudra worshop in Eelam(Ceylon), in places like Naguleswaram, Munneswaram, Thirukketheeswaram there are Rudra Mayanams nearby and temple tanks in the vicinity. These highlight the possibility of Rudra worship having been performed in such places.
In a place called Avarankaal in Yaazhpanam, very close to the burial ground, the presence of a big Siva temple with Rajagopuras facing the burial ground links it to Rudra worship. It could also be inferred that in later times, this Siva worship merged with Bhairava worship.
To conclude, particulars of Rudra worship are scarce. There are many opinions and researches to identify and differentiate Rudra worship with Siva worship. Hence research on Rudra and Sri Rudram should intensify. Past researches should be popularized. By this, Tamil Saivite scholars should create more clarity on Rudra.

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20 replies

  1. can a child be named rudra?

  2. I too have done a translation which has been published by Giri Traders

  3. very good.

  4. Dear Sri Mahesh, On similar lines, I attempted an English translation of the archived Tamil piece “Sri Chakra Mahimai” and shared the document to your gmail Id few days back. Since the comments to that link are closed, am provinding this note here. Kindly share that as well based on your discretion. Regards,Karthik S



  6. Really it is a great job. Though we have been chanting Rudram regularly, after
    taking training from a Vedic Scholar, it is nice to have a translation for people who
    are beginners to understand.

    Balasubramanian NR

  7. 17.04.2013 @ 1900hours

    Beloved seekers of Truth

    Many aspects not fully backed scripturally are homogenised to give something holistiaslly, in a truly valuable domain.

    This article has succeeded in bringing to the fore a fund of information, to be further researched/substantiated and corroborated to conclude definitively in the light of sufficient & acceptably cogent evidence.

    In some aspects, there appears to be interpolations/distortions that have got twined with the core of clear but short data.Most of this could be traceable to a few devotedly exuberant do-gooders only.

    Unfortunately, I am not a lip-server to euologise this rendering, where facts warrant residual confirmation, while the package of presentation still meriting attention for what it is nobly worth.

    A suggestion to every co-traveler in this journey on Earth: We may begin to do truer service, the moment we are more seriously committed scripturally.

    From the heart, kudos to the author of this article.


  8. Rama Rama

    Various meanings of Rudra

    “Rtam (dam) Samsaara dukham draava yat iti Rudrah”.
    He destroys the sorrows of the world i.e. (Rudra).

    “Rodati Sarvamantakala” The one who makes one to suffer.

    “Rtou Naadaante dravati – draavayateeti Rudrah. The end note of the musical sound
    i.e. (Rudra).

    “Rtya – Vedarupaya, dharmadinava-loka yati praayateeti vaa Rudrah”. In the form of
    Veda Dharma is promoted i.e. (Rudra).

    “Rtya-vaagrupaya, vaakyam, prapayateeti Rudrah”. In the form of Speech, brings
    out the importance of the meaning of words i.e. (Rudra).

    Rtya-Pranava rupaya svatmanam prayateeti Rudrah”. In the name of pranava (OM)
    He makes one to realize him.

    “Rudroroutiti satye rorupamaano dravati pravashati martyaaniti Rudrah”. In the form
    truth he enters humans.

    “Rtam Sabdam Vedaatmaanam Brahmane dadati Kalpaadaaviti Rudrah”. Rudra
    presented Vedas to Brahma at the Commencement of kalpa. Rudras also means the
    persons created by Rudra as Sadrusha.

    “Rtim Raati is responsible for the sound. He is praana Svarupa. Granter of praana

    Rudram is i.e. light Teja and Ruth who binds and attracts.
    “Taam bhakte draavayati). He is even capable of driving away hat Shakti (energy).”

    Rama Rama

  9. Tks a lot to Sri Kartik Sundaram for the fine traslation into English. It is easy to understand.

  10. DEAR Sir         Namaskarams. Do you anybody can teach SriRudhram online Thanks and Regds radha


  11. Excellent contribution…Thanks a million…Rudra is the Lord of Will Chakra and of the Fire element. Worshipping Him, delivers us from meaningless pursuit of the past, deciphering the meaning of the mystic, taking responsibility for spiritual sadhana and so on…Endless series of auspiciousness follows…

  12. 11 Rudhras also part of PanchaMugam — Thirumoolar talks about Pancha Shivan and PanchaMugam — KalaBhiaravar and Shiva Parvathi — Two different route to Mocha — the best route to Shakasradhalam Thru Madha Parvathi and Shiva — The way of KalaBhiaravar — comes some thanthram — Mr. Malhothra wrote a lot about it in — Easy way Madha (Lalitha) and Pitha (Shivan)

  13. Dear Mahesh: What a coincidence to bear the name of Lord Shiva. Excellent work on Rudras, most of which unknown to many. As I experience often, we only grow in age and not in wisdom for which one has to pray always to seek the Lord’s Blessings. I shall be sending you my short write-up on Ambal Neelayadkshi-Kayaroganeswarar temple at Nagapattinam, my native place which was published in chennaionline tamil site along with Mahaperiyavaa’s blessings to Nagapattinam

    • Did not know that you’re a native of nagapattinam. Periyava had talked enough about Kayaroganeshwarar and the mahimai of praying there….In fact there are two such temples He mentioned – one is nagai and other is kumbakonam i guess. In fact He stayed for one of the chaturmasya at your place….Praying Lord Parameswaran there, one becomes part of Him – as heard from His speeches.

  14. Shri Karthik Sundaram,

    Thanks a lot for English version, you have done a good work, for the people like us.

  15. Oh fantasic effort the gentleman who wrote this.In this contest I would like to share my views with u friends, i.e, My great grand forefathers keept the vigrhams of Sri.Kiratha moorthi, it is in the form of hunter,Bhaghavathi,like vanadurga, they went to kerala Nillambur (earlier it is forest area-now it is called Mallapuram dist),were they performed poojas,Ramayana discourse daily, had a street called brahmin st. along with this vigrahams I have sort of arrow in gold is called Pasupatha.I wished to know the shostras about Pasupatha ashtra(yes there is one exists).if some one can write these slokas I will be v,much greatful. I have these idols,and pasupatha in my pooja room & performs daily poojas. Is it pralayakala rudra? Lord shiva is ominiposant. R Gopalakrishnan,Pammal.

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