namo babhlushaya in Shri Rudram anuvaka 2-what does truly mean in sanskrit?is it saying he rides a bull?

what does babhlu mean?

  • Sri Vaishnavas take it to mean Vishnu who lies down on Adiseshan, described in the Vishnu Sahasranamam as Babhru or the supporter of worlds. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 11 '20 at 7:54

namo babhlushaya does not mean that Rudra rides on a bull. The traditional translations take it to mean that Rudra rides on a bull. For example, the below link -


Shri Rudram 2.4

|| AUM namo bhagavate rudrAya ||

chaturthaM yajuH

namo babhlushAya vivyAdhine .annAnAM pataye namaH |

Salutations to Him who rides the Bull (babhlushAya), Him who pierces the enemies (vivyAdhine) and Him who is the Lord (pataye) of foods (annAnAm.h).

sAyaNAchArya's commentary:

bibharti rudramiti babhrurvR^ishhabhaH sa eva babhlU raLayorbhedAbhAvaH | tasmin.h shete tishhThatIti babhlushaH sa cha vidveshhiNAM visheshheNa vidhyatIti vivyAdhI tathAvidhAya vivyAdhine namo .astu | yashcha-annAnAM pAlako rudrastasmai namo .astu |

He who bears Rudra is "babhru", the bull (vR^ishhabha, nandI). (That bull) is "babhlU" only because there is no difference between "ra" and "La" here. He who rests or rides on that (babhlU) is called "babhlusha". He also pierces or excellently destroys the enemies, those who hate. Salutations to such a Rudra who is vivyAdhI (and babhlusha). And may salutations be to Him who is the Lord of foods, the Guardian of foods.

However, the translation of babhru as bull is questionable. Babhlu simply means brownish. The sacred texts website gives a more accurate translation -


iv. 5. 2. a Homage to the golden-armed leader of hosts, and to the lord of the quarters homage! b Homage to the trees with green tresses, to the lord of cattle homage! c Homage to the one who is yellowish-red like young grass, to the radiant, to the lord of paths homage! d Homage to the brown one, to the piercer, to the lord of food homage!

The rudram is not saying that rudra rides a bull.


The word babhlu is translated by some commentators as "brown" or "tawny red", and some other commentators as as bull.

The volumes published by Sakshi, edited by Prof. R.L. Kashyap's edition give both meaning.

https://vedah.com/product/yajur-veda-taittiriya-samhita-volume-3-kanda-4/ (Krishna Yajur Veda) https://vedah.com/product/yajur-veda-vajasaneyi-samhita-part-2/ (Shukla Yajur Veda)

Ralph Wilson takes the meaning "brown coloured" (http://www.parimalpublication.com)

His Holiness Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidya takes it to mean bull. His Holiness interprets it as bull, which according to the Holiness signifies tamas. From there His Holiness interprets this to mean The Lord who subjugates tamo guna.

Sri Rajagopala Aiyar's interpretation of Rudram (published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan) states this to mean "tawny coloured".

I believe the followers of Arya Samaj and its founder Sri Dayananda Saraswati probably take a different, and more indirect interpretation of this.

Please treat the above as references. Not all of them are available on the Internet so I am unable to post the links for all those. But if you search you will get those publications.

  • That answer provided, I like to add a comment reflecting my own opinion. Based on my study of The Vedas, I came to a conclusion that many of these terms are not supposed to be taken literally. Often the meaning is indirect which makes it hard to be sure. Personally, I would take this to mean tawny / brown coloured, which I don't take to mean a human with brown colour skin. I subscribe to the notion of formless Brahman so many of these characterizations are attributes that apply for the purpose of upasana. I don't take them as actual / physical attributes as they could from limiting adjuncts. – Vidyarthi Jan 11 '20 at 23:00

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