Salutation to Rudra: a Prayer to Bestow the Blessings of Grace, Not Destruction, on the People

Sri Aurobindo translates Nilarudra Upanishad, First Part, Verses 4-5:  “Salutation to thee who bringeth the world into being, salutation to thee, the passionate with mighty wrath.  Salutation be to thy arms of might, salutation be to they angry shaft.  The arrow thou bearest in thy hand for the hurling, O thou that liest on the mountains, make an arrow of blessing, O keeper of the hills, let it not slay my armed men.”

Sri Aurobindo provides his own commentary on these verses:  “In the fourth verse he salutes the God.  Rudra is the Supreme Ishwara, Creator of the World, He is the dreadful, wrathful and destroying Lord, swift to slay and punish.  … Bhamamanyave … means, one who is full of the passion of violent anger.  Rudra is being saluted as a God of might and wrath, it is therefore to the arms as the seat of strength and the arrow as the weapon of destruction that salutation is made.”

“Rudra is coming in a new form of wrath and destruction in which the Aryans are not accustomed to see him.  Apprehensive of the meaning of this vision, the King summons the people and in assembly prayer is offered to Rudra to avert possible calamity.  The shaft is lifted to be hurled from the bow; it is prayed that it may be turned into a shaft of blessing, not of wrath.  In this verse the Prince prays the God not to slay his men, meaning evidently, the armed warriors of the clan.”

We find here the reaction of the human individual to an overwhelming intensity of vision where the destructive powers of existence are unveiled in their unrestrained might.  Arjuna had a similar experience in the vision he was vouchsafed by Sri Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, and, witnessing the predetermined destruction of the Kuru race in the forthcoming battle, and the power that was making this come to pass, he prayed for Grace and to see the beneficent form once again, as the vision of the  destructive aspect of the creation is overwhelming to the human being who has been granted this vision.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Nilarudra Upanishad, pp.393-396

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