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We have been told that the Rudras were the incarnation of Lord Rudra (Shiva).

Who they actually were and how many were they ?

What were their duties ?

and will they come again in future?

  • There are Infinite Rudras. I'm writing an answer about it... – Tejaswee Aug 30 '17 at 13:25
  • @Tezz, by "infinite", did you mean a very large finite number? To create "Infinite something", it will take "infinite time". That again means Rudra-s are continually created irrespective of Brahma's cycle. – iammilind Aug 30 '17 at 13:30
  • @iammilind yes either infinite itself or very large finite number.. – Tejaswee Aug 30 '17 at 15:24
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The answer is there are infinite Rudras. In the SataRudriya section of YajurVeda (16th chapter) there is mention of various forms of Lord Rudra which are present in Heavens, in Earths, in Trees, in Antariksha, in heart of Gods etc.. etc..

Specially in the 11th Anuvaka various Rudra ganas are talked of which are identical to Rudra. Also in the 11th Anuvaka:

नमो रुद्रेभ्यो ये पृथिव्यां येऽन्तरिक्षे ये दिवि येषामन्नं वातो वर्षमिषवस्तेभ्यो दश प्राचीर्दश दक्षिणा दश प्रतीचीर्दशोदीचीर्दशोर्ध्वास्तेभ्यो नमस्तेनो मृडयन्तु ते यं द्विष्मो यश्च नो द्वेष्टि तं वो जम्भे दधामि ॥

We render obescience to those myriad manifestations of Rudra whose weapons are food, air and rain; who exists in earth sky and heaven. Prostrations to the east, to the south, to the east and to the north and upwards. Let them render us happy, whoever hates us and whosoever we hate consign in your wide open mouth.

The same thing is also confirmed by Grihya Sutras. For eg. Paraskara Grihya Sutra states:

  1. A forest (through which he is wandering) he addresses: 'Adoration to Rudra who dwells in the forests. Make me arrive safely.'

  2. A mountain (which he is going to cross) he addresses: 'Adoration to Rudra who dwells on the mountains. Make me arrive safely.'

  3. A burial-ground he addresses: 'Adoration to Rudra who dwells among the Fathers. Make me arrive safely.'

  4. A cow-stable he addresses: 'Adoration to Rudra who dwells among the dung-heaps. Make me arrive safely.'

  5. And wheresoever else it be, let him always say, 'Adoration to Rudra.' For the Sruti says, 'Rudra is this universe.'

And also in the Mahabharata:

He was clad in a tiger-skin, had matted locks on his head, and bore the staff in one of his hands. He was armed, besides with his Pinaka and the thunderbolt. His teeth was sharp-pointed. He was decked with an excellent bracelet for the upper arm. His sacred thread was constituted by a snake. He wore an excellent garland of diversified colours on his bosom, that hung down to his toes. Verily, I beheld him like the exceedingly bright moon of an autumnal evening. Surrounded by diverse clans of spirits and ghosts, he looked like the autumnal Sun difficult of being gazed at for its dazzling brightness. Eleven hundred Rudras stood around that Deity of restrained soul and white deeds, then seated upon his bull. All of them were employed in hymning his praises. The Adityas, the Vasus, the Sadhyas, the Viswedevas, and the twin Aswins praised that Lord of the universe by uttering the hymns occurring in the scriptures.

And in the Kurma Purana in the chapter 'Creation by Rudra' Lord Rudra begins to create himself and there becomes billions and billions of his forms.

Thus there are uncountable, billions and billions forms of Rudra. However there are special groups of Rudras which have special tasks some of which I discuss in my answer here.

The famous groups are groups of Ekadash Rudras and groups of AshtaMurti Rudras;

Ekadash Rudras are:

They were Mrigavayadha, Sarpa, Niriti of great fame: Ajaikapat, Ahivradhna, and Pinaki, the oppressor of foes; Dahana and Iswara, and Kapali of great splendour; and Sthanu, and the illustrious **Bharga. These are called the eleven Rudras. [Adi Parva, Sambhava Parva chapter 66]

AshtaMurti Rudras are:

You are Rudra. You are Sarva. You are Pasupati. You are Ugra. You are Asani. You are Bhava. You are Mahadeva. You are Ishana. (Yajurveda Shatapatha Brahmana)

I discuss significance of them in my answer here.

Thus there are uncountable very large no. Of Rudras of which 11 Rudras and 8 Rudras are quite famous.

  • Most famous rudra of Shiva is 11th rudra (Hanuman). – Vishvam Aug 30 '17 at 18:02
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    @Rishabh Hanuman was born recently, some 7000 years ago, he isn't one of the 11 Rudras. – Chinmay Sarupria Aug 31 '17 at 3:35
  • this is a where the point of doubt comes. I will ask this in a different question. – Vishwas Goswami Aug 31 '17 at 4:37
  • If Rudra is Mahadeva, then who is Shiva ? My doubt from this is that were rudras came after shiva or shiva came after rudra ? or Shiva, the almighty lord Ashutosh is one of the infinite rudras ? – Vishwas Goswami Aug 31 '17 at 4:39
  • @chinmaysarupria born recently, some 7000 years ago you say. Impossible. You should have known that 5000 years of Kali yuga has been passed. So by this 7000 years of figure your, you are saying Hanuman was born in Dwapar yuga, not in Treta yuga. See this answer to get a clue to know how many years ago Hauman was born. – Vishvam Aug 31 '17 at 5:19
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There are eleven Rudra-s. See their names in the translation from Gambhirananda:

BG 10.23 - Among the Rudras [Aja, Ekapada, Ahirbudhnya, Pinaki, Aparajita, Tryam-baka, Mahesvara, Vrsakapi, Sambhu, Harana and Isvara. Different Puranas give different lists of eleven names.-Tr,] I am Sankara, ... (Gambhirananda)

Lord Shankara is probably supreme among them, yet different from other Rudra-s.

These Rudra-s are existent in every cycle of Brahma.
I am not aware of their duties though.

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