RUDRA IN THE RG-VEDA (A Rare Book)

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Prolegomenon

ima rudraya tavase kapardine
ksayad viraya par bharamahe matih/
yatha sam asad dvipade catuspade
visvam pustam grame asminn anaturam//

(Rg-veda-samhita1/114/1)


The above mentioned beautiful Rg-Vedic invocation addressed to Rudra runs as follows, "We bring these songs of praise to the strong Rudra, lord of the heroes (ksayad-viraya), with hairs knotted (in the shape of a cowry shell, kaparda), so that it will be all well with our people (dviPade) and with our livestock catuspade and so that in this village all be healthy (visvam pustam) and well fed (anaturam)."

I had been toying with the concept of Rudra as a Vedic godhead for many years now. This is because I have heard from a devotee that the way to liberation of man from the mundane fears and fetters lies in getting in tune with Rudra. I am told that Rudra represents the whole of the vibrating universe of ours and it is he who controls the great recycling world of nature in its course of emanation and evolution. Apart from anything else, I understand that word rudra also means one who imparts knowledge. For it has been stated that rut jnanam rati dadati iti rudrah. That means, rut is 'knowledge' and rati means 'gives.' In other words, that which is knowledge-giving is rudra. This is one of the ways how the word rudra is derived. Besides, I have also been enamoured to learn that at the temple of Visvanatha Siva at Varanasi, the famous Vedic hymn known as the rudradhyaya is repeatedly recited every day by the devotees. That is why I was earnestly looking forward to studying the mystery of Rudra as a member of the Vedic pantheon. But I was awfully ill-equipped to make any headway into the depth of the eluding nature of the Vedic Rudra. However, despite my shallow knowledge-base, I ventured to study the multifarious and often frightening aspects of Rudra, as has been depicted in many Vedic hymns addressed to this god as given in the rg-Veda, Yajur-Veda, the Atharva-Veda and elsewhere; and eventually I even came up with publication of a small book entitled, the Rudradhyaya authored by myself containing English and Bengali translations of the Rudra- suktas belonging to the Rg-Veda-Samhita and what is known as the Sata-rudriya section of the Yajur-Veda Samhita - initially in 1995 for limited private circulation and then finally in 2000 for open publication (by Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Calcutta).

At that point of time, I did not know that late Professor R. C. Hazra (1905-1982) had carried out a most elaborate and critical study of the history and evolution of Rudra-Siva belonging to the Vedic lore. For it was never printed during his lifetime. Professor Hazra, as I knew him, was Professor of Smrti and Purana in the Sanskrit College at Kolkata and was well recognised as an established authority on these subjects in this country. Hazra's magnum opus had been his Studies in the Upapuranas, which came out in two volumes(l958 and 1963). That Professor Hazra was equally adept in the field of Vedic studies as well was quite unknown to me. However, I am sure that my wife, Dr. Sibani Das Gupta, who was his direct student, firstly at Dacca University in the 1940s and afterwards at Kolkata in Sanskrit College, must had been knowing quite well about the great versatility of his scholarship. Alas, in my effort to bring out this work of Professor Hazra on Rudra- Siva, she is no more in this world to help me in unravelling the mystery of the Vedic Rudra, except through her shelves of Sanskrit books, which are lamentably left with me now.

Some time ago, by a strange and wonderful coincidence, I suddenly stumbled upon a big bundle of manuscripts brought down to me by Mrs. Jayanti Biswas, daughter of Professor R. C. Hazra. I was literally amazed to discover therein his scholarly work on Vedic Rudra who had been so very dear to me as a universal godhead. While I gingerly turned over the tarnished and crumbling pages of the manuscripts, I realised that these wonderful works of his, which are a quarter century old now, must have to be printed off as soon as possible. Otherwise these would be lost to the posterity for ever. From the bunch of these papers I could fish out the manuscripts of the present volume on Rudra in the rg-Veda. Now the immediate question was as to who could be approached to get this valuable work of the scholar published.

Fortunately, the Sanskrit Department of Special Assistance (DSA) of Jadavpur University - through the good offices of Professor Manabendu Banerjee of that University - most graciously accepted the manuscript for publication. I am extremely thankful to members of the DSA, Sanskrit, Jadavpur University for this great gesture of theirs. It was equally commendable that Mrs. Basanti Devi, wife of late Professor Hazra, and their daughter, Mrs. Jayanti Biswas, agreed without any hesitation to transfer the publication rights of the book to Jadavpur University so that the valuable book is now seeing the light of the day.

As an unexpected fallout of the discovery of the manuscripts of the volume and its acceptance by Jadavpur University for publication under their aegis, the task of editing and seeing the publication through the press fell on a totally incapable person like me, who has not an iota of knowledge about the subject. Had Professor Hazra been around, he would not have certainly agreed to such preposterous proposition of having his book edited by a scientist and who was never a Sanskrit scholar per se. Professor Hazra knew me only as the spouse of his studen t and as a budding teacher in a branch of science, which was far away from Sanskrit literature, and nothing more than that. With a great dear of hesitation and despite the rapidly failing capability attached to an octogenarian, I had no way out but to accept with humility the onerous responsibility - as a sacred kartavya on my part - of editing this book of such a great Sanskrit scholar as of the stature of Professor R. C. Hazra. This I do in all my ineptness, and I earnestly crave indulgence of the readers to bear with me for the blemishes that this publication may contain in spite of my utmost care and constant effort to eradicate them. But I may tell that my main concern as the editor had been to brush up the language of the faded writings here and there and to bring about a semblance of uniformity in the style of presentation and to have a sort of balance in the format of the publication. However, finally I had to add, of course, such features as an index, a bibliography, an introductory note and a set of picture plates to embellish the monograph. I have also tried to check up the numerous citations in Sanskrit quoted by the author by consulting their original sources to make them as error-free as possible. The treatise, being scholarly as it is, contains a very large number of footnotes and reference materials, which comprise the most valuable sources of information for the future researchers working on this interesting subject, the Vedic Rudra-Siva. This is why, in designing the book I have taken liberty to show the notes, comments and references actually as endnotes after every section and not as footnotes under each page, as usually done. Further, for ease of reading, I have also got these endnotes printed in the same font size as of the main texts and not on a microscopically reduced size as normally done in publishing such works.

I should also mention, in this connection, that the treatise would have contained nine chapters and three Appendices. But unfortunately, in the manuscripts available to us two sections were found missing. One of these is the Appendix III, which was to contain a general account of some Vedic rites throwing light on Rudra's character as a god, which was based on discussion of the following four Vedic rituals: (i) Panca- sdradiya, (ii) Ratna-havimsi or Ratninam-havimsi, (iii) Sulagava, and (iv) Tryambaka-homa. And the second missing section is the all-important Chapter 9 on "Conclusi


Item Code: IDE907
Cover: Hardcover
Edition: 2003
Publisher: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar
Language: English
Size: 8.7" X 5.7"
Pages: 520 (B & W Illus: 8)
Other Details: Weight of the Book: 650 gms