Holy gatherers in benediction for universal good

‘Sri Maha Rudra Yagnyam’ creates a record in Auckland 

First of Two Parts 

Ragavan Rengachariar 

In Hindu orthodoxy, Holy Congregation is sanctified by pious people, irrespective of their economic status, getting together to chant the name of God.

Hinduism prescribes the concept of one God or even a ‘Formless Supreme Entity,’ with neither a beginning nor an end; its monolithic status has seldom been challenged. In that sense, the male and female form is seen in unison.

However, Hindus ascribe several names and forms for their Gods and Goddess, which, over thousands of years, have given rise to groups such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism (worshippers respectively of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu).

Lord Shiva as Rudra

Lord Shiva is often considered to be a ‘serious God’ (compared to Lord Vishnu who is seen as a ‘relaxed God’) partly because he is associated with ‘Shakti’ (Power) and partly because he is the Supreme Lord of all Arts including Dance.

His stance as ‘Rudra’ is stated to be one of ferocity, often to destroy evil.

The Marathon Prayer

The Vedas prescribe chanting of the ‘Sri Maha Rudra Mantra’ to appease the Lord, while ‘Sri Maha Rudra Yagnyam,’ is a more intrinsic exercise of seeking the blessings of the Lord for the betterment of humankind with augmented peace, harmony and goodwill.

Religious leaders in New Zealand (predominantly from Auckland and Hamilton) gave vent to their fervour last fortnight organising ‘Sri Maha Rudra Yagnyam,’ the first of its kind in the country.

The grand veneration, held over a two-day period on May 13 and May 14 at Sri Shirdi Saibaba Temple in Onehunga, Auckland witnessed unheard of congregation of priests, people of piety and knowledge, men, women and children who participated in its making as cooks, runners and volunteers and hundreds of other devotees.

Organised by Bhajan Satsatsang, RAMS Foundation and Sri Shirdi Sai Sansthan of New Zealand (which owns and manages the Temple) the religious marathon had the benefit of participation of many community organisations including the Auckland Aasthika Bhaktha Sangeerthana Samajam and New Zealand Kannada Koota.

Unique experience

It was a unique experience in many ways, the first of which was the assembly of many ‘Ritwiks’ (scholars and priests who chant Vedic hymns as per tradition) led the Papakura Shri Ganesh Temple Chief Priest Parameswaran Chandru, with simultaneous recitation by

Priests Dakshinamurthy (Sri Shirdi Sai Sansthan), Maharajan, aka Manikandan (or Mani) and Ganapathy Subramaniam Karthik (Thiru Subramaniyar Aalayam), Venkatraman (Otahuhu Sri Thirumurugan Temple) and members of the community always seen at weekly religious congregations and Temple festivals and prayers.

‘Sri Maha Rudra Yagnyam,’ entails a substantial range and number of Pooja items, dress materials and other ornaments to decorate the Deities and to offer the Ritwiks, none of which is available locally. As if ordained by Lord Shiva Himself, we were able to obtain all these with considerable ease, thanks to many friends and volunteers, one of who undertook a journey to India specially for purchase of the required items.

Context and Meaning

‘Maha Rudram’ means recital of the Krishna Yajur Veda verses by 121 Ritwiks, each of them chanting 11 times totalling 1331. Each recital could take up to 20 minutes.

It is customary to begin any programme, including Prayer at Temples, with obeisance to Lord Ganesh, the Remover of All Obstacles.

The ‘Maha Rudram’ began with ‘Purvanga’ (Preparatory) Pooja, followed by prayers to Lord Varuna, ‘Swasthi Punyagam’ and ‘Maha Nyasa.’

‘Maha Nyasa’ is a personal purification process which takes an hour, although daily prayers could be completed in a few minutes.

The eleven Ridwicks and a Priest for each Gana (circle) to help the ‘Gana Yajaman’ (Sponsor) with prayers throughout the Recital.

The arrangement of items in the conduct of ‘Sri Maha Rudra Yagnyam’ are well specified in Hindu traditional worship and prayers. These include special Kumbhas set up (12 for each Gana), over a cloth spread, properly arranged with paddy, banana leaf, rice, dharbha (grass), coconut, mango leaves inserted, and flower garland.

There are several other procedures and prayers, each of which was followed at the solemn occasion.

Solemnity personified

The ‘Maha Rudra Yagnyam’ was in the making for long.

It was the cherished desire of Venkatachalam of Bhajan Satsangh for many years.

Having participated in such events in India, he was keen to organise Maha Yagnyam programme in Auckland.

We are fortunate that there are Vedic scholars and priests in our community.

The correct tonal recital generates positive vibrations, accrues good health, promotes peace and energises environment.

Thus charged, the energy permeates to the neighbourhood, the suburbs, the city, the region, and eventually the country.

Ragavan Rengachariar is Founder-Trustee of the RAMS Foundation, a Trust registered under the New Zealand Charities Commission. An Auckland resident, he writes extensively on Temples and spiritual and religious matters.


Photo Caption:

  1. Priests and Scholars performing the Maha Rudra Yagnyam
  2. The pious group has elders and youngsters
  3. Our women are a source of great strength



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