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Lord Rudra is Human destructive aspect of Supreme Shiva or Sada Shiva.

According to Vaishnav philosophy Lord Vishnu as Maha Vishnu lays in the Causal ocean and breathes out the number of universes. How Vishnu creates and maintains the universes is described in my answer here. So when a universe is created, there are 3 personalities that are directly incharge of

  1. Maintenance-Lord Vishnu
  2. Creation-Lord Brahma
  3. Annihilation -Lord Rudra.

Lord Vishnu is Vishnu-Tatva or Sva-amsha(direct expansion) of Maha-Vishnu;i.e. to say Jiva can never become Vishnu in a universe. Brahma is generally a jiva-tatva(Jivatma; a living entity like us) but sometimes when there is no living entity qualified to take up the position of Brahma, Lord Vishnu takes up the position of Brahma.

If in some kalpa there is no suitable living entity who can act in Brahmā’s capacity, Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu Himself becomes Brahmā and acts accordingly.

Now as I've said in very 1st statement of this question,Lord Rudra is Human destructive aspect of Supreme Shiva or Sada Shiva. That is, He is Shivatma(Shiv-tatva**).

But here is what Srila Rupa Goswami says in His Laghu-Bhagavatamrit.

The scriptures explain that, as Brahma' is, so Siva is sometimes a jiva soul and sometimes an amsa-avatara like Lord Sesha.

Here Rupa Goswami gives analogy of Lord Shesha, thats because Gaudiya Vaishnavas believe that Shesha-Nag on whom Lord Vishnu lies is expansion of Vishnu(Vishnu-Tatva); whereas Shesha-Nag who carries universe on His hoods is a separate ; and He could be a Jivatma sometimes.

Now my question is

Is lord Rudra always an expansion of Shiva(i.e. Sada-Shiva ; just like Anant-Shesha being always an expansion of Lord Vishnu); or can a Jiva become Lord Rudra sometimes in a universe?

** Shiva-Tatva ,Jiva-tatva, Shakti-tatva, Vishnu-Tatva: These are different types of living entities that I've heard of in Vaishnav terminology.

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    As far as i know, there are no stories of Jiva taking position of Rudra in Puranas. Shaiva Puranas say Rudra is Sada Shiva Himself (like Vishnu in Vaishnava Purana) and Vaishnava Puranas say Rudra (they use Shiva) is destructive aspect of Supreme Vishnu.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 11:08
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    Rudra is not human, although he is certainly a manas putra of Bramha. Since he is born in every Manvantara along with other devtas I think qualified jeevatmans can take that position.
    – Yogi
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 11:12
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    Shiva Purana many times tell 'Those who do (this Puja) become Rudra himself.' But I think this is talking about getting form of Rudra (ie. Sarupya Mukti) and not about Destroyer Rudra... I'm not sure whether Shiva has made some Jeevas as Rudra or not...
    – Tezz
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 11:17
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    @Yogi yes, he is not human; he is Human destructive aspect as in expansion of Sada-Shiva in material world. According to Skanda Purana, in one Vikalpa Vishnu creates other two trimurtis and in other Vikalpa Shiva creates other two trimurtis (quotting Destroyers comment above from hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/10584/…) Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 11:18
  • 1
    @Vishalprabhulawande nice question. If it is a title then other jeevas could take up ... Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 12:25

5 Answers 5

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There are several statements in Puranas and other texts where it is stated that the positions of not just Rudra but Vishnu or Brahma too can be attained by a jiva through certain karmas. Of course, Depending on how one chooses to interpret such statements, they can either be taken literally or simply viewed as Arthavāda (exaggeration).

Narada Purana III.89.175-176

तिथ्यावृत्त्याखिलानिष्टानयन्तादाप्नुयान्नरः ।। षोडशावृत्तितो भूयान्नरः साक्षान्महेश्वरः ।। ८९-१७५ ।। विश्वं स्रष्टुं पालयितुं संहतु च क्षमो भवेत् ।। मंडलं मासमात्रं वा यो जपेद्यद्यदाशयः ।। ८९-१७६ ।।

By repeating these (Thousand Names of Goddess Lalita) sixteen times every day, A Man becomes Mahesvara directly. He will be competent to create, Sustain and Annihilate the universe.

There are similar statements for the other two Trimurtis too in several texts, For example-

Bhavisya Purana Madhyam parva, part 1, Chapter 10

शतरोपी च ब्रह्मत्वं विष्णुत्वं च सहस्रके ।। ५६ ।।

Growing a hundred saplings of a particular tree leads to Brahma post, and growing a thousand saplings leads to Vishnu post.

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Yes, Agni Purana mentions How a Jiva can attain the position of Brahma, Vishnu or Rudra through Tvarita homa. Following which he attains Moksha by attaining Sadasiva Pada.

In the below excerpt the States of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra are all stated to be attainable by any Jiva just like how one attains the states of plants, animals, reptiles, humans etc.

Agni Puran Chapter 311

The fire of the Goddess would glow with the final oblations made with the mantra. Then oblation should be made with the principal mantra a hundred times and a tenth of that with the subordinate (mantra). Then it should be dedicated to the Goddess. Then the disciple should be ushered in.

19-23a. After striking with (the repetition of the mantra of) the weapon, the secret subordinate (mantras) should be located in the disciple. The disciple should be bound with the subordinate (mantras) and then charged with the subordinate (mantras). Then the disciple should be made to throw a flower. He is then led to the sacrificial pit. One hundred oblations should be made with the principal mantra with barley, grains, sesamum and clarified butter. The first oblation (is intended for) the state of a plant, the next one for the state of reptiles (like the serpents), and (the subsequent oblations are) for the states of being a bird, animal and human beings, mortals, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra. The concluding oblation would be at the end. The disciple would become initiated by a single oblation. (The disciple) would have the authority in this way. Listen to me! I shall hereafter describe (the way to gain) liberation.

Hindi Translation by Chowkhamba-

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Yes, a jiva can become Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Indra, Surya anything. Basically, they can get the the Swaroopa Moksha with them before getting Moksha.

Mundaka Upanishad.:

III-i-1: Two birds that are ever associated and have similar names, cling to the same tree. Of these, one eats the fruit of divergent tastes, and the other looks on without eating.

III-i-2: On the same tree, the individual soul (Jiiva) remains drowned (i.e. stuck), as it were; and so it moans, being worried by its impotence. When it sees thus the other, the adored Lord (Ishwara), and His glory, then it becomes liberated from sorrow.

Srimad Bhagwat Gita 13.23.:

Within the body also resides the Supreme Lord Maheśhvaraḥ. He is said to be the Witness, the Permitter, the Supporter, Transcendental Enjoyer, the ultimate Controller, and the Paramātmā (Supreme Soul).

Mundaka Upanishad.:

III-ii-9: Anyone who knows that supreme Brahman becomes Brahman indeed. In his line is not born anyone who does not know Brahman. He overcomes grief, and rises above aberrations; and becoming freed from the knots of the heart, he attains immortality.

Some Puranas, also mentions about becoming these deities.

Sri Shiva Purana 7.2.33.7-8.:

Brahmā attained his Brahmāhood, Viṣṇu his Viṣṇuhood, Rudra his Rudrahood and Indra his Indrahood. It is by means of this rite that Gaṇeśa attained his Gaṇeśahood. The linga shall be bathed with white sandal water. Therein Śiva find Śivā shall be worshipped with full-blown white lotuses and bowed to.

Skanda Purana/Khanda. 8 (Ambika Khanda), Chapter 21.:

13-14. Pleased with Nandi’s devotion, Lord Shiva offers him boons.: Ask whether you want Brahmatva, Vishnutva, Indratva, or something else – Aditya or Rudra.

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..

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There Are Texts which speak of Trimurtis Attaining their respective positions through various means.

पूजयित्वा रविं भक्त्या ब्रह्मा बह्मत्वमागतः ।।

विष्णुत्वं चापि देवेशो विष्षुराप तदर्चनात् ।। १ ।।

शंकरोऽपि जगन्नाथः पूजयित्वा दिवाकरम् ।।

महादेवत्वमगमत्तत्प्रसादात्खगाधिप ।। २ ।।

Brahma Vishnu Rudra worshiped Surya and attained their respective positions – Bhavishya Purana.

(भविष्यपुराणम् /पर्व १ (ब्राह्मपर्व)/अध्यायः १७४)

इन्द्रत्वमेवमिन्द्रोऽसौ लेभे दुर्गां समर्च्चयन् ॥ ब्रह्मत्वमपि विष्णुत्वं रुद्रत्वञ्च महेश्वरि ! । देवत्वं सर्व्वदेवानामभवच्चण्डिकार्च्चनात् ॥

Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra , Indra and all devas attained their respective positions by worshipping Chandikaa - Katyayani Tantra

(कात्यायनीतन्त्रे ७८ पटलः ॥)

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Liberated souls can't have the power to create, preserve and destroy the universe.

Fate of the Liberated soul

Except overlordship (on the world), they become equal to Brahma in affluence, glory, form (appearance) and objects.

Vayu Purana I.7.29

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