Today is Election Day in my country. My beloved had the entire morning’s activities planned out for us when the sun set days ago. You see, he intended for us to awake very early, be out the door only minutes later, and among the first in line at our local voting location. The fact that this week happens to also be the week during which he’s due into the office an hour earlier than usual made this particularly painful. However, much to his relief, I’m sure, everything went virtually exactly as planned. We were, indeed, among the first in line at our voting site and everything went really well except for the machines didn’t work at first. Apparently, the voting machines all over my county (Hamilton) were giving the operators some kind of error when they tried recalibrating them. I have to admit, after hearing about some Ohio machines being owned by Romney’s son, it wasn’t too comforting to know there was a “problem” with the machines in my own majority-conservative locale. After about twenty minutes, though, things were somehow ironed out and the voting began. Within seventy-five minutes’ time my vote was cast and my tired butt was headed to work.
After all of this, and because I wasn’t able to rest my eyes, I pulled my phone out and began seeing what Facebook might be looking like already. At that time, still rather early, there wasn’t much going on. By the time I’m writing this, it seems the rest of god and the US population has awakened and are posting. One of the earliest posts for today that I noticed was a call from Sister Unity Divine. Her post was a simple request that folks recite the Rudram today while the election is in process. Her post carried a photo of Shiva Nataraj before a background of the American flag.
I’ve heard of the Rudram before, but I’m mostly unfamiliar with it. Since I arrived at work so early, I decided to take the extra time before other arrived for a little sadhana, and meditated on all Shiva means, focusing on His aspect as the embodiment of pure consciousness. It makes perfect sense to perform Shiva pujas and do other sadhanas pertaining to Lord Shiva, like reciting the Sri Rudram Chamakam. In an attempt to access a little knowledge about the Rudram, I used my work computer to Bing the Rudram and, as would be expected, found a Wikipedia result high on the list.
(Allow me to offer a slight disclaimer on using a source like Wikipedia. Certainly, it should never be cited as credible in academic writing. Beyond that, however, it should be noted that Wikipedia has upped its security requirements in regard to who is able to post/amend their entries, hopefully meaning there’s less actual crap to be found. Also, whether one considers an entry on Wikipedia as credible or not, anyone serious about their inquiry would do well to scroll to the very bottom of the result’s page to view the “Notes,” “References,” and “External Links” sections. Even if the entry itself contains pure bologna, which is very possible, one can usually find valuable information –or sources to such –at the bottom.)
Here’s what I’ve learned about the Sri Rudram Chamakam on this Election Day.
1) Rudra is a name for a fierce manifestation Shiva dating back to Vedic times, and during that period was associated with storms, wind, and thunder. A translation of Rudra is “The Roarer.”
2) The Sri Rudra, as a text, is a hymn pulled from the Yajurveda.
3) The Sri Rudram is an early example of sahasranama.
4) Although Shiva is viewed as the Supreme Godhead by Shaivites, Shiva is understood to be a non-sectarian aspect of Brahman who manifests in “myriad forms for the sake of diverse spiritual aspirants.”
5) Within the Sri Rudram, one can find the Shaivite Panchakshara((OM) Namah Shivaya) as well as the mantra Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya.
6) Dating back to Vedic times, Rudra is assigned the number 11, and of the thirty-three deities named in the Vedic pantheon, 11 of them are attributed to forms of Rudra.
The Shri Rudram seems to be associated with sacrifice. The sacrifice is meant to be external and/or internal. I find this terrific on account of the association between our consciousness (Shiva) and our external, material-based form. The external sacrifice referred to is one offered in a havan/homa/yagna, although in modern times everyone makes sacrifices in other ways, often much more personal in nature than a community coming together to toss oblations into a holy fire. The notion of internal sacrifice is something I’m very keen on. Humans (especially in Kali Yug) operate from a largely emotional and egoic place internally, the two often working together to create an immense and complicated cycle that proves instrumental to our entrapment in Maya and prolonging our journey toward Moksha. I recognize the value of external rituals, but for me personally the value of internal sacrifice has always been of greater value, although exponentially tougher to perform.
Sri Rudram is a useful thing to recommend on a day like today, as Sister Unity Divine has done. Speaking in the context of internal sacrifice, the entire nation would do well to consider this all day. If you haven’t already voted, you should be considering why you plan to vote the way you will. It’s a rare person, indeed, who honestly and objectively is able to look within and discern the ugly details behind the way he or she is planning to vote. Further, in the event that one’s hoped-for candidate isn’t the victor of today’s election, the Sri Rudram and the notion of internal sacrifice is definitely applicable.
It might make for an experience of growth if those who voted for the losing candidate make swallowing their pride into an internally sacrificial ritual. This is obviously easier said, than done.