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Sree Rudram and Chamakam (also known as Namakam and Chamakam) are among the sacred mantras of Yajur Veda. These mantras occur in the fourth Kanda (out of seven Kandas) of the Taittiriya Samhita of Yajur Veda. Sree Rudram occurs in the middle portion of the fourth Kanda, thus, at the center portions of the whole Taittiriya Samhita. The words ‘Namah Sivaya’ (also known as the Siva Panchakshari Mantra, the five-akshara mantra of Lord Siva) that occur in the eighth ‘anuvaka’ (or lesson) of Sree Rudram is said to be the center of Sree Rudram. Thus, the word ‘Namah Sivaya’ occurs at the exact center of the whole of Taittiriya Samhita of Yajur Veda. While many readers may not attach much significance for Sree Rudram because of such positioning, most devotees, and researchers of the Vedas, consider such facts adding to their wonder and amazement. Sree Rudram’s claim as ‘the most sacred’ among mantras is not only due to its positioning, and placement, at the very center of the Taittiriya Samhita; certainly, that in and of itself is of great importance. Its claim for eminence among mantras is primarily due to the belief that there is no other mantra that is said to please Lord Rudra more than the chanting of Namakam and Chamakam by His devotees. Describing all the greatness of Sree Rudram is neither feasible nor is it the intent of the author herein; however, few additional aspects of the greatness and grandeur of the Sri Rudram mantra can be seen by the references to Sree Rudram as ‘Satarudriyam’, ‘Rudropanishad’ etc. It is known as ‘Satarudriyam’ because it occurs in all one hundred and one sakhas of the Yajur veda. It is known as ‘Rudropanishad’, giving it the status of vedantic or jnana literature. Thus, in addition to its role of ritual worship of Lord Rudra Siva as part of Karma Kanda providing to the devotees the ‘bhukthi’ or ‘bhoga’ benefits, Sree Rudram is said to deliver to the devotees the ‘mukthi’ or ‘liberation’ benefits of Jnana Kanda. All these give Sree Rudram great importance among all mantras.
The ways of chanting the Sree Rudram and Chamakam to please Lord Rudra Siva are:
  • The Namakam - Chamakam (one person chanting all 11 anuvakams of rudram and chamakam once)
  • The Rudram (one person chanting rudram eleven times and chamkam once)
  • The Rudraikadashini (a gana or group of eleven persons, each person chanting rudram eleven times and chamakam once), or, a total of 121 times rudram and 11 times chamakam
  • The Maharudram (eleven ganas – each gana with eleven persons – each person in each gana chanting rudram eleven times and the chamakam once) or 121 persons chanting rudram eleven times each and chamakam once each, or, a total of 1,331 times rudram and 121 times chamakam, and
  • The Atirudram ( one hundred and twentyone ganas – each gana with eleven persons, each person in each gana chanting rudram eleven times and chamakam once, or, a total of 14,641 times rudram and 1,331 times chamakam
The ‘Krama’ form of chanting is one of the many ways our rishis, ancestors and forefathers preserved Vedas in the Guru-Sishya Parampara. In this system, the various ways Vedas were taught and chanted to maintain the correctness, akshara sudhdhi (purity of the characters and words of the Vedas), the proper swara and proper chanting are: the veda pada, jata, krama, ghana and so on. The normal chanting with swara is called the Veda pada and paata. Taking two words together and in reverse order constitute the ‘jata’. If the words of veda pada or paatha are numbered consecutively from 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on, the ‘jata’ from of chanting will take the first two words and chant the two words normally and in reverse order as 1-2, 2-1 ! 3-4, 4-3! and so on. The ‘krama’ form takes the two words together by first taking word 1 and word 2 together, then word 2 and word 3, then word 3 and word 4 etc. In between, of course, compound words, if any and whenever they occur, will be split into its constituent words. The chanting order for ‘krama’ form is thus 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5! etc. The ‘ghana’ form is one of the most difficult where the sequence and order take three words together and arrange them as follows: 1-2, 2-1, 1-2-3, 3-2-1, 1-2-3 ! 2-3, 3-2, 2-3-4, 4-3-2, 2-3-4 ! 3-4, 4-3, 3-4-5, 5-4-3, 3-4-5 ! It can thus be seen that each word of the mantra is repeated 13 times in the ‘ghana’ of chanting and requires great efforts to study and chant the ‘ghana’ paatha!

The ‘krama’ form of Sree Rudram is chanted wherever any of the forms of the Sreerudram explained earlier (rudraikadashini etc.) are chanted. In addition, it is customary to chant the ‘krama’ on special occasions like during a special archana for Siva and/or during ‘pradosha’ sandhya japa.