Monday, June 15, 2015

What is Atirudram?

What is the Ati Rudram?

Eleven recitations of the Sri Rudram (Namakam) followed by one recitation of the Chamakam is called the Ekadasa Rudram. This also constitutes one unit of the Rudra Homam.

Eleven Ekadasa Rudram recitations make one Laghu Rudram. (11x11=121 times of Namakam and 11 times recitation of Chamakam). This is achieved if 11 priests chant 11 times the Namakam and 1/11 of the Chamakam for every single recitation of the Namakam. [Editor's Note: TheNamakam and Chamakam are each divided into 11 anuvakyas or sections. Hence for each recitation of the Namakam they chant oneanuvakya or 1/11 portion of the Chamakam].

Eleven Laghu Rudram recitations make a Maharudram (11x11x11=1331 Namakams and 121 Chamakams). This is achieved if everyday 11 priests chant 11 times for 11 days.

And eleven Maharudram recitations make an Ati Rudram! Thus, in an Athi Rudra Maha Yagnam, the Namakam will be recited 14,641 times and the Chamakam 1331 times, with the performance of 1331 Rudra Homams by 121 Ritvik priests. (121 priests x 11 times per day over 11 days).

So one can ask the question - if this yagnam is being performed since time immemorial for conferring spiritual benefit and for loka kalyanamand loka kshema, what is the necessity of reciting the Chamakam, which confers mere material benefits. The Chamakam (in this context) is now a prayer to the Lord to provide all the articles required for the homam. The list is exhaustive and comprehensive, from lentils of several varieties, to fuel, ghee and fruits. The usage of material things in the service of the Lord is after all one of the highest form of devotional service.

The 121 priests are spread over 11 homa kundams (fire pits), with each kundam associated with 11 priests. Apart from these 121 priests there will be 14 other priests who will do pujas to various deities, thus totalling to 135 ritviks who will take part in this yagnam.