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Dynamics of Rudra Yaga

www.himalayaninstitute.org

Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD

Rudra is prana shakti, the vibrant life force. This zodiac signs, stars, planets, the four directions,
intelligent energy pulls us out of inertia, makes time, the laws of cause and effect, and ultimately,
us vibrant and energetic, and puts us on the path the all-pervading force that holds the numberless
of inner fulfillment and freedom. It is represented aspects of nature together in harmony. Each step
by Rudra—the most energetic form of Shiva— of these preparatory practices is accompanied
emerging from the primordial fire. Intent on filling by the recitation of mantras and intricate ritual
the universe with life force, Rudra performs his offerings. The main course of Rudra Yaga begins
cosmic dance. In response, the goddess Durga, only after these preparatory practices have been
an embodiment of immaculate beauty, vigor, completed.
and bliss, emerges. The union of the two fills
the universe. It is in this universe everyone and The samaya method of Rudra Yaga is totally
everything lives and thrives. opposite to the ritualistic method. Here a yogi is
led to awaken kundalini shakti at the muladhara
Rudra Yaga is one of the most ancient and chakra, located at the perineum. With the help of
pristine rituals for accessing Rudra Shakti, the pranayama and mantra japa, kundalini shakti is
life-sustaining force within and without. The then brought to the manipura chakra, located at
masters in our tradition access this shakti in three the navel center.
different ways—kaula, mishra, and samaya. Kaula is
a purely ritualistic path, whereas samaya is purely The samaya method of Rudra Yaga is the specialty
yogic. The yogis following the method of mishra of the Himalayan Tradition. We are taught to take
combine rituals with meditative and pranayama extreme precautions not to get distracted during
techniques. Each of these paths has its own unique the upward journey of the vibrant energy from the
characteristics. muladhara to the manipura. Finally, we are taught
the precise method of meditating at the manipura
The ritualistic path of kaula, if followed while chakra. In the tantric tradition, the manipura
observing the precise rules of tantra, bears fruit chakra is described as the center of fire. The fire
almost instantly. The rituals are elaborate and here is a miniature cosmic fire, the ultimate vortex
require the recitation of thousands of mantras of the life force. Rudra Yaga at the navel center
unknown to casual seekers and practitioners. opens the floodgates to experiencing the divinity
The preparatory steps to the ritual-heavy Rudra that embodies the inexhaustible life force. Only
Yaga are lengthy. They consist of invoking the after we have gained access to the navel center
benevolent forces of nature that govern, guide, and become fully established there are we taught
and nourish the functions of earth, water, fire, how to meditate on the crown center, which
air, clouds, lightning, and seasons. These same subsumes all other chakras. The system of Rudra
forces nourish and guide our body and mind. The Yaga in the samaya school of tantra uses the
preparatory rituals invoke and help us connect human body itself as an altar, and all rituals are
with the forces that preside over constellations, completely internalized.

© 2017 Himalayan Institute

Dynamics of Rudra Yaga


www.himalayaninstitute.org

The mishra method of Rudra Yaga combines happiness, adepts and aspirants undertook mega-
ritualistic kaula and yogic samaya. In this system, sized group practices such as Rudra Yaga. In this
the purpose of rituals is to awaken the forces of way, enlightened souls restored peace to society,
nature and guide them to awaken the power that brought nature into balance, and created an
lies dormant in the various chakras. A specific environment where people can live without fear
segment of rituals and the power engendered and sorrow.
by them awakens the inherent power of the first
three chakras and brings it to the heart center. As part of our daily practice, Rudra Yaga could
This process frees us from fear, doubt, insecurity, be short. We can complete it in one to three
and grief. It infuses us with self-confidence, self- hours’ time. But when Rudra Yaga is performed
trust, courage, and determination. Other parts of to influence a collective consciousness, then
the rituals awaken the forces inherent in the higher the length, depth, size, and complexity of the
chakras, mainly the center between the eyebrows. practice expand proportionately. Depending on
This frees us from confusion and the cravings that the size of our desired outcome, it may take a
create turmoil from inside. Finally, the main course few days, weeks, months, or even a few years to
of Rudra Yaga commences. complete the practice. During the Kumbha Mela,
for example, the scope of the practice is such that
At the outset, most students in our tradition it will be completed in 12 days. Such a large-scale
are led through the disciplines of mishra, which practice of Rudra Yaga must be preceded by the
combine both the ritualistic approach of kaula practice of Sri Vidya, the motherly manifestation
and the yogic approach of samaya. The reason for of the Divine Being. The practice of Sri Vidya
this is that the anatomy both of the mind and of builds a strong base for collecting and containing
the pranic force, which pervades and permeates the vibrant and often overwhelming shakti of
every nook and cranny of our body, is so subtle Rudra Yaga.
that it is an impenetrable mystery. Therefore, the
practice of samaya is difficult for most seekers in Sri Vidya is the embodiment of the tantric
the beginning. Ritualistic practices are somewhat experience—all forms of tantric practices are
easier. The majority of tantric texts are ritual subsumed in it. Sri Chakra is the visual expression
manuals. Learned tantrics break lengthy rituals of Sri Vidya. Sri Chakra allows us to identify the
into smaller steps, and rearrange them in a manner supreme power of intelligence, tracing it from its
conducive to accomplishing the intended goal. most subtle form to its most visible, manifest form.

Once the ritualistic portion of the mind, we Sri Chakra is made of nine circuits, with a dot
can apply the same procedure to awaken and in the center representing transcendental love,
become fully connected to our inner core. Unlike beauty, and joy. Each circuit of the Sri Chakra is
the internal practice of Rudra Yaga, a group composed of a cluster of divinities. These divinities
of adepts and aspirants can participate in the correspond to different forces in the universe and
ritual-driven practice of Rudra Yaga. This group in our own body and mind. For example, there are
practice creates a collective consciousness that 28 divinities in the outermost circuit of Sri Chakra.
is transforming both at a micro and macro level. These divinities govern the forces that control
In the past, whenever society was suffering from and nourish our physical world, and each has its
upheaval and unable to supply the nourishment corresponding mantras. Although independent in
necessary for stable health, wealth, peace, and their own right, collectively these divinities work

© 2017 Himalayan Institute

Dynamics of Rudra Yaga


www.himalayaninstitute.org

toward a common goal—our ultimate freedom and practice of Sri Chakra. In order to include high-
fulfillment. As we go deeper into the circuits of Sri minded seekers and friends in the practice and
Chakra, our quest becomes increasingly refined help create a collective consciousness, we resolve
and fulfilling. to do Sri Chakra worship with rituals.

Just as with Rudra Yaga, the worship of Sri Chakra Both the moderately elaborate and the extremely
can be relatively simple, moderately elaborate, or elaborate practice of Sri Chakra automatically
extremely elaborate. During auspicious occasions, include practices pertaining to the divinities that
we worship Sri Chakra moderately in honor of constitute Guru pitham, Vishvedeva pitham, and
the forces that are constantly providing us with Yogini pitham. These three pithams (altars) have
guidance and nourishment. Moderately elaborate their designated spaces, and at these altars we
practice is often goal-driven and done by a group invoke the guiding forces of the lineage (Rishis),
of practitioners. In other words, it is a group the benevolent forces of creation (Vishvedeva),
practice. Yogis in our tradition arrange a group and the 64 Yoginis that preside over the infinitely
practice of Sri Chakra for the welfare of society or vast range of our samskaras, subtle traces of our
to restore nature’s equilibrium. karmas, thought processes, and temperaments.

Extremely elaborate practice is done at highly After completing the moderately elaborate
significant times, such as during the sandhi of practice of Sri Chakra, we can begin the practice
two yugas. Sandhi means “joint” or “transition.” of Rudra Yaga. Just as Divine Mother Sri Vidya
There are times when the forces of light and is worshipped in Sri Chakra, the Rudra Yaga is
darkness clash—both forces are at their peak, performed in the Rudra Yantra that is installed
both are unyielding, and a collision could wipe on the Rudra pitham, the altar designated for the
out thousands of years of human achievement. At practice of Rudra Yaga.
such times, we undertake the extremely elaborate

© 2017 Himalayan Institute

Dynamics of Rudra Yaga


Rudra Yantra at the
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Rudra Pitham

This altar is the seat of Rudra. Rudra is prana insurmountable situations; Ganesha, the one who
shakti, the vibrant life force. Rudra presides over removes the obstacles from our path; Nandi, the
our health and longevity. It is the primordial pool one who infuses our mind and heart with courage,
of healing force. The yantra of Rudra consists of enthusiasm, and joy; and, Batuka Bhairava, the
eight avarna, circuits of shaktis. The innermost one who infuses our mind and heart with intuitive
circuit is composed of a circle, and is the locus wisdom and indomitable will.
for the power of Maha Mrityunjaya mantra.
Surrounding this circle, there are seven circuits, We’ll conduct Rudra Yaga while keeping the
each consisting of eight petals. These petals Rudra Yantra at the center of our sadhana. The
serve as a locus for fifty-six shaktis that ensure invocation and propitiation of the cluster of
we live a healthy, happy, peaceful, and fulfilling divinities will follow the method of right-hand
life. They grant the protection and guidance we tantra as taught in the Sri Vidya tradition. We’ll
need in our worldly and spiritual quests. The last enter from the northern gate of Rudra Yantra,
circuit is a square with four gates. Since four with the blessings and guidance of Divine Mother
prominent divinities guard these gates, those Durga, and continue moving from outside in,
divinities are viewed as our guardians. They are clockwise, to finally reach the center. More clearly,
Durga, the force that pulls us out from helpless, the steps of the practice are as follows:

© 2017 Himalayan Institute

Dynamics of Rudra Yaga


www.himalayaninstitute.org

1. Invocation and puja of the first circuit, 5. Invocation and puja of Vishva, Vidya, etc.—
consisting of the four gates, that begins with eight shaktis that manifest in us in the form of
the invocation of Divine Mother Durga and the creativity and ingenuity
other three divinities
6. Invocation and puja of Rama, Raka, etc.—eight
2. Invocation and puja of eight loka-palas, the shaktis that manifest as beauty, tranquility, and
protectors of the directions, or the divinities sustainability
who provide directions in life
7. Invocation and puja of Sharva, Bhava,
3. Invocation and puja of Dhara, Uma, etc.—eight etc.—eight shaktis that serve as a locus for
shaktis that bring stability in life everything that exists, and hold the entire
web of life together in a mutually supportive
4. Invocation and puja of Arya, Prajna, etc.— manner
eight shaktis that infuse us with clarity,
intuitive wisdom, and power of discrimination 8. Invocation and puja of the innermost divinity,
Rudra, the primordial pool of life

After this lengthy invocation, the fire offering begins. The fire offering is done exactly in the same order
as the invocation, and is concluded with a cluster of 123 mantras, collectively known as Shata Rudriya.
Inclusive to this practice is the structured study of scriptures enabling us to understand and assimilate the
energy Rudra Yaga emits. It is important to remember that Rudra Yaga is one of the rarest and most sacred
of spiritual practices for awakening the force of change, and should be undertaken with reverence and
enthusiasm.

© 2017 Himalayan Institute

Dynamics of Rudra Yaga