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Rudra Shiva | 11 Rudra Avatars

What is Rudra Shiva and the 11 Rudra avatars of Shiva?

Rudra is one of the names of Lord Shiva and in Sanskrit means ‘the roarer’. The word Rudra also means ‘roaring storm’, ‘fierce’ and ‘destruction’. The word Rudra signifies the fierce angle of Shiva which is destruction. He is also called Rudra Shiva. In the trinity Shiva is called the destroyer and the name Rudra Shiva fits well.

The word Shiva means ‘the ‘auspicious one’. The word Rudra has the opposite meaning to the word Shiva and so Rudra Shiva represents the different features of Lord Shiva. While Rudra represents the destructive nature of Shiva the word Shiva represents the auspicious one and the one who blesses the devotees with boons.

Rudra Shiva

Rudra Shiva | Image Resource : indusscrolls.com

Lord Shiva is also called Rudra because he punishes all the evil deeds and sinners. Shiva is also called Lord Rudra. As Rudra Lord Shiva is portrayed as the highest God, a mighty archer, terrible form, fire god and more. All these express the fiery nature of Lord Shiva. Rudra avatar of Shiva is well known in Hinduism.

Shiv Rudrabhishek

Rudrabhishek is done to please Lord Shiva. He is known as the protector of deities and destroyer of all evils. Rudraabhishek is done in temples but it can be done at home too. You have to follow a few rules when you perform Rudrabhishek.

  1. You should perform Rudrabhishek on an auspicious day. You should consult a Brahmin for the right Muhurat.

  2. You have to fast throughout the day when you perform Rudrabhishek. You also have to fast a day before performing Rudrabhishek. You have to fast for two days. During the fast you can consume only liquids like milk with ghee. You cannot consume solid foods. You can drink water.

  3. During Rudrabhishek focus on the ceremony and perform it peacefully without any disturbances.

  4. You cannot take a break once the Rudrabhishek begins. If you take a break then the effect of Rudrabhishek will nullify and the ceremony will be ruined.

Ingredients required for Rudrabhishek

The ingredients required for the ceremony are milk, curd, ghee, honey, water, roli, chandan, bhasma (ashes), bel patra (leaves of Bilva tree) and flowers.

The mantra chanted during Rudrabhishek is the Shri Rudram. In Rudrabhishek Lord Shiva is worshipped in his Rudra form. This ceremony helps to eliminate all evils and bring prosperity.

Doing Rudrabhishek with full devotion can help to create vibrations which helps the person to be free of all fears.

When to perform the ceremony?

The best day to perform the ceremony is prodoshan (13th day of every fortnight in the Hindu calendar) or you can do the ceremony on Monday. Prodoshan is a favourite day of Lord Shiva. The auspicious time to perform Shiv Rudrabhishek is 1 and ½ hours before and after the sunset. The best month to do the ceremony is the Shravan month.

History behind the ceremony

The story is that Lord Rama installed a Shivlingam and performed the Rudrabhishek ceremony at Rameshwaram before he crossed the sea to reach Lanka. He expressed his devotion to Lord Shiva and took his blessings. He relieved Sita from Ravana. He performed the ceremony to wash off his sins and bring happiness to his family.

There are different types of Rudrabhishek ceremony. They are as follows:

Eka rudrabhishek

This ceremony is done to invoke the Rudra Shiva who is considered the most powerful force in the Vedas.

Eka Rudrabhishek with Mrityunjaya havan

This ceremony is done with the Mrityunjaya havan. The Mrityunjaya mantra is recited and it helps to overcome all the fears and confusions. It gives clarity of mind.

Ekadash Rudrabhishek

In this ceremony all the 11 rudras are worshipped. It is an elaborate ceremony. It is performed by 11 pandits and the Shri Rudram is recited 11 times.

Maha Rudrabhishek

This ceremony is done to remove the negative effects of the nine planets and achieve victory over death.

Laghu Rudrabhishek

In this ceremony Panchamrit puja is offered to Lord Shiva. It is done to fulfill the desires of the person who performs the ceremony.

Importance of Rudrabhishek

This ceremony is done to achieve victory over death, to remove the negative effects of the planetary influences, it can be done on an auspicious day based on a person’s planetary influences, destroy all evils and bring happiness and prosperity to the family.

Shri Rudram mantra

This Shri Rudram is one of the most sacred mantras found in Krishna Yajurveda. It is found in the fourth chapter. The mantra pays homage to Rudra which is a form of Lord Shiva. It consists of two parts Namakam and Chamakam. Chamakam is found in the seventh chapter.

In Namakan the mantra acknowledges the fierce form of Lord Shiva and asks Him to show his peaceful nature. It requests forgiveness of all sins. In Chamakam it asks for the fulfillment of wishes.

The Shri Rudram mantra throughout acknowledges the power of Rudra Shiva. The mantra praises the fierce nature of Rudra Shiva and due to this Rudra Shiva is calmed. Lord Rudra Shiva can be easily pleased. He agrees to bless his devotees as per their wishes.

One of the powerful Rudra mantras is ‘ Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya’.

This mantra is widely used for worshipping and meditation. It praises Lord Shiva Rudra and it is chanted to get the blessings of Lord Shiva.

Legend related to the origin of Rudra

There are different legends relating to the origin of Rudras. They are as follows:

First legend according to Shiva Puran

According to the legend Brahma asked Rudra to create some other beings as he was bored of creating simple mortals. It is said that Shiva created 11 forms of Rudra. They are called Kapali, Pingala, Bhima, Virupaksa, Vilohita, Ajesha, Shasana, Shasta, Shambhu, Chanda and Bhav.

As Lord Shiva created them He is also called Rudra. Lord Shiva is referred as Rudra in Rig Veda.

The 11 forms are associated with fighting with the demons and protecting the Gods.

Second legend

Indra the God of thunder ruled the deities in the city called Amrawati Puri. In one of the battles with the demons Indra was defeated by the demons and the Gods had to flee the city. The deities reached the ashram of Maharshi Kashyap. He is also the father of Indra.

The God told the Maharshi how they were dethroned and asked to solve their problem. The Maharshi was known for his knowledge and ability to meditate. The Maharshi set out to find a solution. He formed a Shivlingam and started to meditate there. Pleased by his meditation Lord Shiva appeared before him.

Lord Shiva asked the Maharshi to make a wish. The Maharshi wished that Lord Shiva be born as his son to solve his problems. Lord Shiva granted his wishes. The Maharshi’s wife gave birth to 11 sons who were forms of Lord Shiva and called Rudras.

Lord Shiva Rudra

In Bhagavad Gita the word Rudra is used to refer to Lord Shiva. The Rudras were born to protect the deities and fight the rakshasas.

As per Vishnu Purana Rudra emerged from the eye-brows of Brahma. He is said to be created from the rage of Brahma.

When Brahma created his sons and asked them to do the same. His sons were interested in liberation and they expressed unwillingness. As the sons refused to take their fathers order too much anger was generated in the mind of Brahma.

Brahma’s anger came between his eyebrows and Rudra emerged. The child began to cry and asked Brahma to give him a name and place. Brahma named this child Rudra and gave the child other 11 names.

It is believed that Rudra is the other form of Lord Shiva due to the qualities exhibited. Lord Shiva is also referred as Lord Shiva Rudra.

Rudra avatars

There are 11 Rudra avatars. According to Vishnu Puran Rudra was born out of the anger of Brahma. The Rudra was in ‘Ardhanari’ form which means half of His body was male and the other half was female. Rudra divided Himself into to male and female.

The male split into 11 forms and formed 11 Rudras. Some of them were white and gentle while the others were dark and fierce.

The eleven Rudra avatars are called Manyu, Manu, Mahmasa, Mahan, Siva, Rtudhvaja, Ugraretas, Bhava, Kama, Vamadeva and Dhrtavrata.

From the female 11 Rudranis were formed who became wives of Rudras.

19 avatars of Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva has 19 avatars and all of them have importance. The avatars teach about the welfare of the people.

Piplaad Avatar

Lord Shiva in this avatar forced Shani to fall. He agreed to set it right only if Shani would not trouble anybody before 16 years of age. You can pray to this avatar of Lord Shiva to get rid of Shani dosha.

Nandi Avatar

Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Nandi in many parts of India. He is shown to have a bull face and four hands. He is depicted as the protector of the herds.

Veerbhadra Avatar

Daksha was performing a yagna and Goddess Sati immolated herself at the yagna. This made Lord Shiva fierce. He plucked a hair strand from His head and threw it to the ground. Veerbhadra and Rudrakali were born from this strand. This is the most fierce avatar of Lord Shiva. Veerbhadra avatar of Lord Shiva beheaded Daksha.

Bhairava Avatar

When Brahma and Lord Vishnu fought for superiority Lord Shiva took this avatar. This avatar cut off Brahma’s fifth head when Brahma lied about His superiority. This made Him feel guilty and he carried the skull of Brahma for 12 years. In this avatar Lord Shiva guards all Shakti peethas.


During the churning of the ocean for ‘Amrut’ Lord Shiva consumed what came out first. It was poison. A ‘vish purush’ emerged and Lord Shiva blessed him. Lord Shiva blessed him and said he would be born as the son of Drona on earth. He would kill the kshatriyas. Thus a ‘vish purush’ called Ashwatthama was born.

Sharabha Avatar

In this avatar Lord Shiva is half bird and half lion. It is said He took this form to tame Narsimha who was a lion avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Girhapati Avatar

Lord Shiva was born to a Brahmin called Vishwanar and was named Girhapati. At the age of 9 Girhapati's parents were informed that He is going to die. So Girhapati went to Kashi to conquer death.


Lord Shiva took the form of Sage Durvasa and was known to be short-tempered. He took this form to maintain discipline in the world.


Lord Shiva took this form to serve Lord Ram who was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Rishabh avatar

In this avatar Lord Shiva took the form of an ox and killed all the evil sons of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu saw Lord Shiva in the form of ox and returned home.

Yatinath Avatar

Aahuk and his wife were devotees of Lord Shiva. One day Lord Shiva decided to visit them and took the Yatinath avatar. They welcomed the guest in the small hut where they lived. As there was no place Aahuk slept outside and was killed by a wild animal. On seeing this his wife also decided to kill herself. Lord Shiva came in His right form and blessed them. He gave them a boon and they would be born as Nala and Damayanti and Lord Shiva would unite them.

Krishna Darshan Avatar

Lord Shiva took this avatar to teach the importance of yagna and rituals.

Bhikshuvarya Avatar

Lord Shiva took this avatar to protect human beings from all kinds of danger.

Sureshwar Avatar

To test a devotee Lord Shiva took the form of Indra. And He was called Sureshwar. The devotee proved his devotion for Lord Shiva to be true. Lord Shiva blessed him and this avatar of Lord Shiva is called Sureshwar.

Keerat Avatar

Lord Shiva took the form of a hunter or Keerat. He and Arjuna stuck the boar with their arrow. The boar was actually a demon. On seeing Arjuna’s bravery Lord Shiva blessed him and gifted him His Pashupata.

Santander Avatar

Lord Shiva took this avatar to ask for the hand of Parvati from her father Himalaya.

Brahmachari Avatar

Lord Shiva took this avatar to test Goddess Parvati. Lord Shiva tested her determination to marry Him as Brahmachari.

Yakeshwar Avatar

Lord Shiva took this avatar to eliminate false ego from the minds of the Gods.

Avadhut Avatar

Lord Shiva took this avatar to crush Lord Indra’s arrogance.

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