rudram and chamakam (fwd)

Sankaran Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Wed Feb 23 10:25:35 CST 2000

I asked a couple of questions on rudram-chamakam to shrI Subhanu Saxena
and the answers given were so informative that I'm forwarding it to the
list, since I'm sure many others would benefit from them.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 14:23:42 PST
From: subhanu saxena <subhanu at>
To: kartik at
Subject: Re: rudram and chamakam

Namo namaha. Please see my answers below after each of your questions:

>I have two questions on rudram-chamakam:
>1) In the shrI rudram.h, we say "namaste astu bhagavan.h vishveshvaraaya
>mahaadevaaya tryaMbakaaya tripuraantakaaya ..."
>I heard that this is not part of the rudra-prashnaH. Is this correct? If
>so, which part of the Veda does this verse occur in, and why do we chant
>it in the middle of the rudram?

These mantras are not part of the vedic corpus and are recited as "Arsha
prayoga", ie the tradition handed down by the veda rishis. There are in fact
a number of variations how these particular mantras are recited:

i) after tripurAntakAya, we have trikAgnikAlAya in one tradition

ii) in another tradition, we have trikAlAgnikAlAya

ii) Normally we end sarveshwarAya sadAshivAya SrImanmahAdevAya namaha.  In
Mattur village and parts of Hassan district, we have shankarAya sadAshivAya
sarveshwarAya SrImanmahAdevAya namaha

Also, if we look in the samhita, the actual anuvAka ends at "tam vo jambhe
dadhAmi.  The mantra's "triyambakam yajAmahe...." (RV), "yo rudro agnau
...." (Taittiriya Samhita) "tamu STuhi..." (RV)"ayam me hasto"(RV) "ye te
sahasram.." (Mahanarayana Up) are khila or ancilliary, again as handed down
by tradition.

Also, some people end by reciting "sadA shivOm" before Om shantih shantih

When we recite krama pATHAh we only recite those portions that actually
belong to the samhita. So, we do not recite krama pATHah of all the above
extra sections

As to why we chant this way, we need to remember that we have 2 traditions:

i) Srauta tradition

The rudrAnuvAkah is actually recited during the agnicayanam fire piling, the
mantras for which are mainly found in Taittiriya Samhita 4th kANDa (This
kANDa begins with the famous "yunjAnah prathamam manah..., and quote from RV
"SRNvanti viSwe amrtasya putrAh", which was recited by Swami Vivekananda at
the Chicago parliament of world religions).  It is a milk offering poured
over one of the specific bricks that are used to build the bird shaped

ii) The grhya/puranic tradition

We find in the dharma sutras, Shiva puranam etc, by which time rudram had no
doubt attained fame far and wide, the recommendation to recite rudram for
prayer/pooja/upasana etc etc..  Various ways of doing this (via
Shodashaupachara puja, mahanyAsa, laghu nyAsa  etc) are given.  It is during
this period that the addition of the extra portions described above probably
became established (my guess only).  Also, as you know, because of rudram's
supreme philosophic content, many call it rudropanishat

>2) What is the subject matter of chamakam.h which comes immediately after
>the rudra-prashnaH? There is a repetition of the words "cha me," which to
>my knowledge means, "and mine". Is this is a prayer to attain prosperity?
>Why is this chanted following rudram.h?

Chamakam, so called because of the continuous refrain "cha me", which indeed
means "and this is for me" (eg dhErghAyutwam cha me anamitram cha me abhayam
cha me-long life for me, no enmity with anyone for me, no fear for me) is
known as the vasOr dhArA , or flow of wealth, in the Srauta tradition. The
cha me's ask for both physical wealth in various forms, spiritual wealth and
emotional wealth. It is the final anuvAka of of the 4th kANDa as it appears
in the Taittiriya Samhita (I dont have readily at hand the exact references
for where rudram and chamakam are found in the Shukla yajur veda tradition,
but they are in the samhita portion there also), and is an oblation of a
continuous flow of Ajyam or ghee from a long pipe into the sacred fire at
the end of homa. It is quite a spectacular sight.  The brAhmaNa portion for
this mantra explains that he who performs vasor dhArA attains overlordship
in this world, since the refrain is all "for me".  This may seem a little
contradictory to the spirit of the veda/vedanta, but remember we are talking
karma kANDa, where the fruits were believed to accrue through the
performance of such ritual. Also, from the vyavahAra standpoint, we are all
entitled to the 4 puruSArtha's of dharma artha kAma and mOxa.  Once we have
exhausted our desires (but only through the means prescribed by the
shAstra!), we can do good.   You may know the following Sankskrit Sloka:

vidyA dadAti vinayam, vinayAt yAti pAtratAm
pAtratwAt dhanam Apnoti, dhanAt dharmam, tatah sukham

Knowledge yields humility, humility yields status
Status brings wealth, from wealth can one implement dharma, from dharma
(alone) then comes happiness

Note how the acquisition of wealth is to be grounded in knowledge and
humility. It is with this frame of mind only that chamakam is to be chanted.
  From the wealth thus acquired, and with the required mindset, one can
perform good in this world and use such wealth acquired for the benefit of
all. Therefore chamakam is not a selfish prayer.

Chamakam is recited together with rudram because (a) the style is similar,
with constant namo namah in rudram and cha me in chamakam. The resultant
effect of the sound of the mantras and their vibrations is therefore highly
pleasing and beneficial

Also, through rudram, we have the "paramArthic" vision of oneness, and in
chamakam the "vyavaharic" call, which complement each other. Successful
application of "wealth" obtained through chamakam leads one to the
realisation described in rudram

I hope this answers your questions. There is an excellent book on rudram and
chamakam published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mumbai, based on the
Taittiriya recension. You will find the original devenagari (no swara
though) with english translation and commentary from a learned pandita in
this book


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