When someone asked Adi Shankaracharya what is that one thing that can give you liberation as well as all material pleasures and achievements, Shankaracharya replied, “Shri Rudram.”
Shri Rudram or Rudra Puja is a set of mantras that are done to invoke and pay obeisance to the Shiva tattva (Shiva energy/ principle) in the cosmos. These mantras will not only help one grow spiritually, but it will also help one achieve everything else that they desire in their material life. Let’s find out how a Rudra Puja is performed and what are the different aspects of these chants.
Ganpati Atharvashirsha: Any puja or ritual would not start without invoking Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Ganpati Atharva is the oldest surviving text on Lord Ganesha that pays obeisance to the elephant-faced god. In this, Ganesha is described as the energy that is same to every other deity, as the ultimate reality and truth (brahman), as Atman (soul in oneself), and as Om, the building block of the universe.
Anganyas: Anganyas is the process in which one invokes the deity within themselves before they can pray to the deity outside them. Before the Shri Rudram starts, the person performing the puja offers flowers to all the gods and then puts some on their own head. This act is done to recognize that there is the energy of Rudra in themselves. Only after the invocation of Rudra in oneself, one becomes eligible to perform the Rudra Puja.
Panchamrut Snanam: After Anganyas, the abhishekam (worship) of the Shiva Lingam is done with the panchamrut. The elements of the panchamrut represent the pancha-tattvas (the five elements of which the universe is made - space, air, fire, water, and earth). Shivalinga itself is the symbol of this existence, including all manifest and unmanifest universe.
All the tattvas in this existence are pacified by offering the five components of the panchamrut. These components are - milk, curd, jaggery, honey, and ghee. Offering a mixture of these five over a Shivalinga is symbolic of pacifying the five elements across the existence. It is the harmony within these five elements that allows peace to pervade. So, the Shri Rudram is not done for the benefit of self because worshipping a Shivalinga is like worshipping the entire existence.
Namakam: Namakam is recognizing the presence of Shiva tattva in everything. As per quantum physics, we are all made up of the same energy. This part of Rudram is done to recognize that the same energy pervades in everyone and everything. For example, obeisance is paid even to the bow and arrows of the Rudra. At one place, the chant mentions:
The art of performing a Puja or a Ritual at Hindu households has always remained a matter of concern unless you have a "Family Pandit".