Maha Rudra Yagnam in Ramanashram
The word “Yajna” (Sanskrit root “yaj”) means ‘an act of pious and devotional worship’. It entails the performance of a Vedic rite with absolute devotion to the ParamAtman (Supreme Being). The Vedic Hindu tradition prescribes that ishtapoorta, which implies praying for the welfare of all through the conduct of yajnas as the highest of services. The Mahanarayana Upanishad categorizes eleven items in the discussion of moksha sadhana (the path of liberation) and speaks highly of yajnam (sacrifice) in this regard:
yajna itiyajno hi devAnAm yajnena hi devA divam gata …. yajnena dvishanto mitrA bhavanti yajne sarvam pratishThitam tasmat yajnam paramam vadanti
(Sacrifice is the means of liberation; sacrifice is indeed dear to devas. The devas attained heaven by sacrifices; by sacrifice even the unfriendly become friendly; everything is supported by sacrifice and so they say that it is the supreme means of liberation.)
The Sri Rudram hymn is an invocation to Lord Shiva. It consists of two parts, namely the Namakam and the Chamakam. The Namakam sings the glory of Lord Shiva and the Chamakam consists of prayers to the Lord asking Him to grant the devotee material and spiritual grace.. Now each of the Namakam and Chamakam consists of eleven chapters called as ‘Anuvakams’.
– Routine chanting of Sri Rudram is called ‘Roopam’ and consists of chanting the Namakam once and the Chamakam once.
– Eleven recitations of Namakam followed by one recitation of Chamakam are called ‘Ekadasa Rudram’.
– Eleven rounds of Ekadasa Rudram chanting constitute a ‘Laghu Rudram’.
– Eleven rounds of Laghu Rudram chanting constitute a ‘Maha Rudram’.
– Eleven rounds of Maha Rudram chanting constitute an ‘Athi Rudram’.
If eleven Ritviks chant the Ekadasa Rudram simultaneously, that would result in completing a Laghu Rudram. If 121 Ritviks chant the Ekadasa Rudram simultaneously that would result in completing a Maha Rudram. Typically, a Maha Rudram is completed in one day resulting in the chanting of the Rudram 1331 (121×11) times.
Recently, devotees were enthralled by an awesome Maha Rudra yagnam that was conducted in the Ramanashram. It went on for three days. On the final day, the culminating yagnam was performed in the new hall of the ashram with sacred energy and vedic excellence. The fires of the havan leaped upwards and seemed to dance with delight as the Rudram was chanted with great fervour by the venerable Agnihotras and the other brahmin priests assembled around. As is the tradition, the consecrated waters were then carried to the shrines of Ramana and the Mother and Abhishekam was performed over the deities. With such an auspicious beginning, we can look forward to a clement summer this year…