Once, someone asked Adi Shankaracharya if there was one thing that had the power to give liberation and material pleasures and achievements. “Shri Rudram,” said Shankaracharya Shri Rudram, also called Rudra Pooja, is a set of mantras. Rudra Puja is performed to invoke and honor Shiva tattva (Shiva energy/ principle) in the cosmos. The mantras can help us grow spiritually and also help us to achieve the material things we desire.
Let’s see how a Rudra Pooja has performed as well as the different aspects of these chants.
Components of Rudra Pooja:
Shri Rudram has five major parts:
Ganpati Atharvashirsha: All poojas begin by invoking Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Ganpati Atharva is a very old text that pays obeisance to Ganesha. It describes him as the energy that is similar to all other deities, as Brahman, the ultimate reality and truth, as Atman (the soul in oneself), and Om, which forms the building block of the universe.
Anganyas: In this process, we invoke the deity within before we pray to the deity without. Before the Shri Rudram begins, the one performing the Pooja offers flowers to all the gods, and then they put some on their own head. This is to acknowledge the energy of Rudra in themselves. Only after this is done, one can perform the Rudra Pooja.
Panchamrut Snanam: After the above procedure, the Abishekam (worship) of the Shiva Lingam is done using Panchamrut, the elements of which signify the pancha-tattvas. These are the five elements of the universe - air, space, water, fire, and earth. The Shivalingam is the symbol of this existence, as it includes all things manifest and unmanifest in the universe.
All the five tattvas are pacified when one offers the five elements of the Panchamrut. These are curd, milk, honey, jaggery, and ghee. The act of offering this mixture over a Shivalinga symbolizes the pacifying of the five tattvas. The harmony within these five elements brings peace. Hence, Shri Rudram is not done to benefit oneself. Worshipping a Shivalinga is like worshipping everything that exists in the universe.
Namakam: This is the process of recognizing the presence of Shiva tattva in all things. Quantum physics says that the same energy is in all of us, and this component of Rudram is done to recognize this fact. For instance, we pay obeisance even to the bow and arrows of Rudra. At one point, the chant says:
Vanchate Parivanchate, taskaranaye namo namaha
Here, Rudra, in the form of thieves and smugglers, is worshipped. This recognizes the fact that Rudra, the omnipresent energy, is in the best as well as the worst.
Chamakam: Here, we recognize that all things are within us. Hence, tattva or Rudra is everywhere, and all that contains that energy is within us. So we worship the presence of Rudra within us.
The final part of the Rudra Pooja may differ in different parts of India. In the north, Shri Rudram concludes with Purusha Suktam. At other places, it could end with the Durga Sukta. Worshipping of the Shiva becomes complete only with the worship of Durga.
Rudra Pooja: A powerful tool for peace:
Since the Vedic age, Rudra Pooja has been acknowledged as the most powerful tool to create peace. For this reason, the Monday Rudra Pooja has been performed with utmost commitment in all the Shankaracharya Parampara, and it is the case across all the paramparas. The Monday Rudra Puja is done by all Shankaracharyas in their own particular way. This is why Adi Shankaracharya founded four peethas or knowledge centers in four places in India so that these practices could help bring peace to the country and the world.
Benefits of Rudra Pooja:
The chief benefit of Rudra Pooja is, of course, the feelings of peace and harmony it brings. It can also give other benefits on an individual level.
Students, for instance, acquire wisdom, which will enable them to apply their knowledge for a higher purpose.
In the case of businessmen, their intuition will become sharper as Sri Rudram improves intuitive powers. The calmness induced by Shri Rudram is the reason for this. They should also do Sudarshan Kriya and meditation regularly for better results.
Women are multitaskers as they often have to manage home and work, which causes a lot of stress. It is very essential for them to remain calm and maintain their inner strength. Taking part in Rudra Pooja and doing Rudra Suktam chanting can help them develop their inner strength. Rudra pooja can be very beneficial for political leaders as well, by helping them develop depth of character.
Young people who have to deal with a lot of emotional problems because of hormones, too, will become more calm and peaceful by doing this Pooja. They will be able to control their irrational urges and strong passions and channel them constructively.