Eight Stanzas on Rudra
~ by Goswami Tulsidas
Salutations to You, O Ishana, whose very form is liberation,
To the all-pervasive, mighty Lord, Brahman of the Vedas.
I worship Him who shines in His own self-glory, free of physical qualities,
The changeless, desireless One who resides in the space of consciousness. (1)
Salutations to You, O formless One, the very root of Omkara (Aum),
To Him who transcends all states, beyond speech and comprehension;
To the Lord of the Mountains, the Devourer of death itself,
The compassionate One, whose abode is beyond the universe. (2)
I worship Him, whose form is white as pure snow,
Who radiates with the luster of a million Kamadevas,
From whose head issues forth the river
Whose forehead is adorned by the crescent moon,
And whose neck is garlanded by serpents. (3)
I worship Him, who wears shimmering earrings,
The compassionate One who is large-eyed and happy-faced,
Whose throat is blue, and body draped in lion skins and skull garlands.
O beloved Shankara, O Lord of all, I worship You. (4)
I worship the Lord of Bhavani, the fierce, luminous, indivisible One
Who radiates with the luster of a million suns.
The Wielder of the Trident, the One who uproots the three-fold suffering,
Who is accessible only through divine Love. (5)
O indivisible, ever-auspicious One, the Dissolver of great cycles,
O Tripurari, You are the very source of delight to those pure at heart,
O Dispeller of delusion, the personification of consciousness and bliss,
Be propitious, be propitious, Lord, Destroyer of Kamadeva. (6)
Those who worship not the lotus feet of the Lord of Uma,
Find no happiness, peace or freedom from suffering,
Be it in this world or the worlds here-after;
O Lord who dwells in the hearts of all beings, be propitious. (7)
I know not yoga, nor japa nor puja, O Lord,
But continuously and always I bow to You, O Shambhu!
Afflicted as I am by old-age, birth and other miseries,
Lord, protect me! O Shambhu, I bow to You. (8)
The Rudrashtakam hymn comes to us from a famous Vaishnava devotional text called the Ramacharitamanas, the Avadhi language rendering of the Ramayana epic composed by Goswami Tulsidas (16th century CE). It may come as a bit of a surprise that a hymn glorifying Shiva in the highest of terms should be found in a Vaishnava devotional text. But, the fact of the matter is that Tulsidas repeatedly glorifies Shiva throughout his work, even though in most cases he does so using Vaishnava framework. The reason behind Tulsidas' repeated eulogy to Shiva is likely due to the fact that he composed his work in
As is typical of post-Vedic hymns, we find in the Rudrashtakam a blending of philosophical concepts and Puranic legends. The hymn begins with high philosophy, identifying Shiva as the changeless, desireless, formless Brahman of the Vedas. He resides in the space of consciousness; He is beyond all understanding and description. Next, Shiva's personal form is eulogized, as it is known in popular imagination and Puranic legends. He is kind, compassionate, pure as snow, garlanded with skulls, clad in lion-skins, has a blue hue about Him, and brighter than a million suns. Then, a devotional element is added. Shiva is the personification of consciouness and bliss, there is no happiness without submitting to Him. The reciter has now become the a devotee asking the Lord to be propitious unto him. He knows not the complexities of yoga or japa or puja, he simply takes refuge in the Lord, and submits with the prayer, "Lord, protect me! O Shambhu, I bow to You."
Aum Namah Shivaya.
For printable version, click here (Sanskrit text, transliteration and translation).
© Agnideva, 2007. All rights reserved.
Take a listen: