Many believe that Sri Rudra prashna of Taittariya Samhita is dedicated to Lord Shiva only. Do these mantras have an alternative meaning? Is there any different interpretation of these mantras in a different way?
To whom deity a hymn is addressed is known through the 'Devata' of the hymn.
As clearly seen from above the hymn is addressed to Rudra and Rudra Ganas. (Rudra Ganas are those which appear similar like Lord Rudra).
What is the appearance of Lord Rudra in the Vedas?
People might be confused that how the God 'Rudra' is described in Vedas. As the name of Lord Vishnu in Vishnu Sahasranãma is also Rudra some people may refer that 'Rudra' is name of Vishnu. Although if the hymn was addressed to Vishnu then the Vedas will also list the Devata as Vishnu. But still we can see how the appearance of Lord in the hymn with Devata 'Rudra' is described:
1) Three Eyed One:
RigVeda 7.59.12, YajurVeda 3.60 etc.. verses whose Devata is 'Rudra' call the deity as 'Trayambakam' ie. 'One having three eyes.'
2) Holder of Pinaka:
Sri Rudram Anuvaka 10 states 'Pinaka Bibhradãgahi' ie. 'Come holding your Pinaka bow.'
3) Wearer of animal skin:
Sri Rudram Anuvaka 10 states 'Krittivasãn' ie. 'Who wears animal hide.'
4) Who also has form of NilaLohita:
Sri Rudram also calls Lord as 'NilaLohita' which means having complexion of blue and red.
5) Blue Necked one:
Sri Rudram also calls Lord as 'Nilagriva' (eg. 5th Anuvaka) many times which means 'Lord who is blue necked.'
6) Rider of bull:
Sri Rudram Anuvaka 2 states Lord as 'Bablusãye bi vyadhibe' ie. 'Who is the rider of bull'.
7) Who has matted hair;
Sri Rudram calls the Lord many times by the name 'Kapardin' (eg. 9th Anuvaka) which means who has matted hairs.
8) Who lives in mountains:
Sri Rudram calls the name 'Girishantãbhichãkasihi' ie. Who lives in mountains and also the names like 'Girisha" etc...
9) Who is Pashupati and destroyer of Tripuras:
Sri Rudram gives the name 'Pashupati' many times and it should be noted that Vedas calls Lord Rudra as Pashupati many times in other hymns also. Now, he who is PashuPati is the same who destroyed the 'Tripuras'. YajurVeda Taittariya Samhita is very clear on it, it states;
तेषामसुराणां तिस्त्रः पुर आसन्नयस्मय्यवमाथ रजताथ हरिणी ता देवा जेतुं नाशक्नुवन्ता उपसदैवाजिगीषन्तस्मादाहुर्यश्चैव वेद यश्च नोपसदा वै महापुरं जयन्तीति त इषु समस्कुर्वताग्निमनीकं सोमं शल्यं विष्णुं तेजनं तेऽब्रुवन्क इमामसिष्यतीति रुद्र इत्यब्रुवन्रुद्रो वै क्रुरः सोऽस्यत्विति सोऽब्रवीद्वरंवृणा अहमेव पशूनामधिपतिरसानीति तस्माद्रुद्र पशूनामधिपतिस्ता रुद्रोऽवासृजत्स तिस्त्रः पुरो भित्वैभ्यो..... [YajurVeda 6.2.3 ]
The Asuras had Tripuras; the lowest was of iron, then there was one of silver, then one of gold. The gods could not conquer them; they sought to conquer them by siege; therefore they say--both those who know thus and those who do not--'By siege they conquer great citadels.' They made ready an arrow, Agni as the point, Soma as the socket, Visnu as the shaft. They said, 'Who shall shoot it?' 'Rudra', they said, 'Rudra is fierce, let him shoot it.' He said, 'Let me choose a boon; let me be overlord of Pashus.' Therefore is Rudra overlord of Pashus. Rudra let it go; it cleft the Tripuras and drove the Asuras away from these worlds.
As clearly seen from above passage, Vishnu has become the shaft of arrow in Tripura Samhara event and it is Lord Rudra who destroyed the Tripuras and became Pashupati. So, it is clear that the PashuPati term used in YajurVeda (or other Vedas) is for Lord Rudra and not for Lord Vishnu. So, it is very clear that the deity addressed in Sri Rudram is;
Lord PashuPati who has three eyes, blue neck, matted hairs, who wears animal skin, who holds Pinaka bow, who rides on a bull, who lives in mountains and who is the destroyer of Tripuras.
And same thing is also shown by the Mahabharata and all other Puranas. For instance one should also see what Lord Lord Krishna himself says about Sata Rudriyam. Also how SataRudriya stotra was used by Lord Krishna and Arjuna while reacquiring MahaPashupatastra
तौ नागावुपतस्थाते नमस्यन्तौ वृषध्वजम् ।
गृणन्तौ वेदविदुषौ तद्ब्रह्म शतरुद्रियम् ।।
अप्रमेयं प्रणमन्तौ गत्वा सर्वात्मना भवम् ।
And as they approached the snakes, conversant as they were with the Vedas, they uttered the SataRudriya hymn of the Vedas, bowing the while with their sincere souls unto Bhava of immeasurable power.
And in many other places of Mahabharata same thing is shown. So, saying Sri Rudram as hymn to Vishnu is like saying; Vishnu Suktas are hymns to Shiva as Shiva Sahasranãma mentions 'Vishnu' as one of the name of Shiva.