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How Shiv Got the Name Rudra
Read the story of the  Birth of Rudra

Once Brahmaa and Vishnu were talking and talking and talking endlessly. In everything, they are endless! When they are silent, they do not utter a word for thousands of years; and then again, when they resume talking, they can talk for thousands of years uninterruptedly.

On this occasion, they were enjoying one of their birthless and deathless talks that all of a sudden, Shiv appeared there. For some reason, Shiv sometimes assumes a very rough manner. On that day, everything about him was uncouth. Shiv is not polished like the other cosmic gods. He wears a garland of skulls around his neck; he adorns himself with snakes; his dear ones are ghosts and his favorite place is the cremation ground. Shiv's manners are also not very refined. He is not sociable, let us say.

It was in this unseemly guise that he came to Brahmaa and Vishnu. Vishnu recognized Shiv, but Brahmaa could not. In fact, Brahmaa became furious at the intruder. "How dare you come and stand in front of us?" he exclaimed, "We are two cosmic gods talking and you have no respect for us?"

Didn't you recognize Shiv? said Vishnu.
"That is not Shiv." insisted Brahma. At that moment, Vishnu opened up Brahmaa's third eye.
"O my God," said Brahmaa, "It is Shiv." He said to Shiv, "Please forgive me, forgive me."

"All right, I forgive you." Shiv agreed. At first, Shiv had been furious when Brahmaa was insulting him. Shiv wanted to open up his third eye and destroy Brahmaa then and there, but when Brahmaa asked for his forgiveness, he forgave him unconditionally. Still Brahmaa was not fully satisfied. He said to Shiv, "You have to prove that you have forgiven me."

"What kind of proof do you want from me?" asked Shiv.
"You have to take incarnation in my family." declared Brahmaa, "You have to take birth as my son."
"Fine, fine," said Shiv, "I shall surely take incarnation in your family. I will be born as your son."
After it was decided that Shiv would be born
as Brahmaa's son on earth, Shiv left the presence of Vishnu and Brahmaa.

Since Vishnu and Brahmaa had talked for such a long time, both of them were now completely exhausted. Vishnu said, "Let me take a little rest."
Brahmaa added, "Let me also enjoy rest, a very short rest."As soon as Vishnu lay down, He fell asleep and started snoring. He was completely in another world. Brahmaa also lay down very near to Vishnu, practically side by side, but Brahmaa was still partially awake.

The moment Vishnu fell asleep, something curious happened. From one of his ears a tiny being emerged, and that being wanted to eat some honey.
A few minutes later, Vishnu woke up. Meanwhile, from his other ear, another being was coming out. This other being was like an insect. The very nature of an insect is to bite, so it wanted to bite Brahmaa. These two tiny beings were hostile forces, or demons. Their names were Madhu and Kaitabh. Madhu means honey and Kaitabh is from the word kit, meaning insect. [Our Indian mythology is flooded with these two names.]

Madhu and Kaitabh found that the person nearest to them was Brahmaa, and so both of them went to kill him. They were evil incarnate. Although one was like an insect and the other one was also very tiny, demons can take any form they wish. So Madhu and Kaitabh suddenly became huge and powerful. They were extremely ugly looking, plus unbearably fat.

After assuming these huge and frightening forms, Madhu and Kaitabh caught Brahmaa off guard and started fighting with him. He shouted, "What are you doing?" He fought with them, but he could not kill them and they also could not kill him. Then Vishnu entered the picture. He was furious. He scolded them - "You two came out from my body and this is how you are behaving? He then proceeded to destroy the two demons. He did that.

Brahma was very happy to see Madhu and Kaitabh lying dead. He started meditating. All of a sudden he thought, "Shiv promised me that he would take incarnation in my family. He said he would be my son. Look at his lies. Shiv never keeps his promises, never, never, never." Brahmaa reflected for a moment and continued, "I must pray to Shiv and again remind him of his promise, that he promised me that he would come to me as my son."

So Brahmaa prayed to Shiv for five thousand years, but Shiv did not appear at all. One day, Brahmaa began shedding tears because Shiv had failed to keep his promise. Brahmaa said, "I cannot go on in vain. Even after seeing my tears, Shiv is not coming. I am crying like an infant, but he is deaf to my prayers. I will commit suicide. Shiv is a liar. He is not going to come. So the best thing is for me to immolate myself."

After saying these words, Brahmaa committed suicide. As soon as he committed suicide, Shiv came out of Brahmaa's mouth. While coming out, Shiv was crying and crying, and at the same time Brahmaa was also revived. Brahmaa was so happy to see his son. But when he noticed Shiv's tears, he became very concerned. He asked - "Why are you crying, why are you crying, my child?

Shiv told that he was crying while taking human incarnation because he was entering into world of ignorance. For this reason Brahmaa gave him the name Rudra, meaning he who cries pitifully. There is also another aspect to the name, which is he who destroys. In the course of time, Shiv also manifested this other aspect using the power of his third eye.

So this is the story of how Shiv came to have the name Rudra.



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Created and Maintained by Sushma Gupta
Created on March 15, 2003 and Updated on November 26, 2013