Rudrashtakam finds its origins in the Ramanyan written by the Great Goswami Tulsidas(16th century AD) in Varanasi, the Holy city of Lord Shiva. He was writing the Ramayan in the Vishwanath Jyotirlinga temple and it was due to the grace of Lord Shiva that it could be composed and thus dedicated this hymn in his praise.
Salutations to You, O Ishana, whose very form is liberation,
To the all-pervasive, mighty Lord, Brahman of the Vedas.
I worship Him who shines in His own self-glory, free of physical qualities,
The changeless, desireless One who resides in the space of consciousness.
Salutations to You, O formless One, the very root of Omkara (Aum),
To Him who transcends all states, beyond speech and comprehension;
To the Lord of the Mountains, the Devourer of death itself,
The compassionate One, whose abode is beyond the universe.
I worship Him, whose form is white as pure snow,
Who radiates with the luster of a million Kamadevas,
From whose head issues forth the river Ganga,
Whose forehead is adorned by the crescent moon,
And whose neck is garlanded by serpents.
I worship Him, who wears shimmering earrings,
The compassionate One who is large-eyed and happy-faced,
Whose throat is blue, and body draped in lion skins and skull garlands.
O beloved Shankara, O Lord of all, I worship You.
I worship the Lord of Bhavani, the fierce, luminous, indivisible One
Who radiates with the luster of a million suns.
The Wielder of the Trident, the One who uproots the three-fold suffering,
Who is accessible only through divine Love.
O indivisible, ever-auspicious One, the Dissolver of great cycles,
O Tripurari, You are the very source of delight to those pure at heart,
O Dispeller of delusion, the personification of consciousness and bliss,
Be propitious, be propitious, Lord, Destroyer of Kamadeva.
Those who worship not the lotus feet of the Lord of Uma,
Find no happiness, peace or freedom from suffering,
Be it in this world or the worlds here-after;
O Lord who dwells in the hearts of all beings, be propitious.
I know not yoga, nor japa nor puja, O Lord,
But continuously and always I bow to You, O Shambhu!
Afflicted as I am by old-age, birth and other miseries,
Lord, protect me! O Shambhu, I bow to You.
Presenting the One in whose praise all this is said 🙂
There is another story of Kakbushundi singing this hymn to please Lord Shiva and seek his grace. The story goes (excerpts from http://namadwaar.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/june-5-kagabhusundhi/)
In his previous birth, Kagabhusundhi was born in the holy city of Ayodhya. Even though he was born in the birth place of Lord Rama, he was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and was hostile to all other forms, including Lord Rama. In the later years, he moved to Ujjain where he continued to worship Lord Shiva in a temple. In that temple he met a very devout Brahmin who was also a devotee of lord Shiva. Unlike Bhusundhi, the Brahmin was devoid of any arrogance. When he saw him showing disrespect to Lord Vishnu, he admonished him and advised him to worship both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
“There is only one path of devotion to Lord Shiva. That path is continued devotion to Lord Rama. Lord Shiva himself worships Lord Rama, then what to speak of ordinary human beings? It is said that Lord Shiva does incessant chanting of Rama Nama.”
One day when Bhusundi was worshipping the Lord in the temple, his guru walked in. Having known his traits, he ignored his guru and did not seek his blessings. The Guru who was compassion-personified ignored his disrespect. However, Lord Shiva, being the AdiGuru could not stand this and he spoke vehemently through an asarira-vaak.
Lord Shiva expressed his displeasure with Bhusundhi for the act of disrespecting his guru. He said a person who harbors ill-doings and disrespect to a guru will be thrown in hell for millions of years. And since he sat like a snake when his guru arrived, Lord shiva cursed Bhusundhi to take birth as a virulent snake. The guru however could not see this horrible thing happening to his disciple even though he deserved it.
Bhusundi’s preceptor could not stand the curse on his disciple. This clearly shows his compassionate nature. He cried to Lord Shiva and he sang praises of Lord Shiva called Rudrashtakam to nullify the curse and instead turn this into a blessing.
After having listened to this wonderful Stuthi, Lord Shiva replied to the Brahmin, “Even though Bhusundhi had sinned, just because of your prayer, I shall be benevolent to him”. Bhusundhi will go through cycles of births and deaths but he will not feel the pain. The lord told the brahmin that,” Bhusundhi having been born in the holy land of Ayodhya, his devotion to me (Lord Shiva), and his association with a pious soul like you, Hari Bhakti will be born in his heart”. Having said this, he also gave a very important piece of advice to Bhusundhi. “Never insult a saint. Rather consider them equal to God.” Thus due to the Lord’s curse he took countless births and in the course of which he became a great devotee of Lord Rama. In his final birth, he was born as a crow. He was blessed by a saint to remain the favorite of Lord Rama. When Lord Shiva appeared on the earth, Kagabhusundhi was a playmate for Lord Rama and he also astounded Ramayana to Garuda, the celestial vehicle of Lord Vishnu. He became a great devotee of Lord Rama only because of the grace of a Guru.
Thus we can clearly see that no good can be had by disrespecting a guru and that a mere association with Sadhus and being in a satsang can alleviate the Jivas.
Now presenting this Rudrashtakam in the voice of his Holiness and my Guru Avadhoot Baba Shivanandji. Hear it and It will take you out of this world direct to him in whose praise it is sung.
I have created a ringtone of it also. It is that good 🙂