The word rudrashtakam is a combination of two words ‘Rudra’ and ‘Ashtakam’. Rudra stands for the manifestation of Lord Shiva and Ashtakam stands for a collection of eight stanzas. This prayer was composed by Swami Tulsidasji and finds its respectable place in the Hindi epic Ramcharitmanasa, Uttarkand (107th doha or couplet).
Namaam-Iishamishaana Nirvaana-ruupam Vibhum vyapakam Brahama-veda-swaruupam l
Nijam Nirgunnam Nirvikalpam Niriiham Chidakashama-akaasha-vaasam Bhaje-[A]ham II1II
I salute the Lord of all Lords, whose state constitutes eternal nirvana. Lord Shiva is resplendent, omnipresent, and is Lord Brahma and Ved in entirety. I adore you, who is by self, formless, without change, like the sky and who abides in the sky. You remain captivated in your own self which is beyond the three gunas, namely sattva (purity and wisdom), rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance)
Nirakaarram-ongkara-muulam Turiiyam Giraa-jnyaana-Go-[A]tiishamtm Giriisham l
Karaalam Mahakaala-kaalam Kripalam Gunna[A]agaara-sansaara-paaram Nato[A]ham lI2II
I pray to Lord Shiva as who is without a form, is the root of sounds (from where the Omkara arises), the fourth impersonal state of the atman, is beyond the scope of expression, knowledge, and sense organs, who is the Lord, and the Lord of Himalayas (Girish). Lord Shiva is fierce who takes the dangerous form of mahakaal (a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva), he is the destroyer of fierce kaala (time), he is benevolent, is the abode of qualities, and is beyond the universe. I bow down to Lord Shiva who helps in crossing this samsara
Tusaara-adri -samkaasha-gauram Gabhiram Mano-bhuutat-kotti-prabhaa-shrii Shariiram l
Sphuran-mauli-kallolinii caaru ganggaa Lasad-bhaala-baale[a-I]ndu kanntthe bhujanggaa ll3II
I adore Shankara, who shines like the white snow, is profound, is the intellect, is in the form of living beings, who has immense splendor and wealth.
Lord Shiva’s forehead glimmers with river Ganga atop which surges forth towards the World. His head is adorned with a crescent moon, and has a snake garland in his neck.
Chalat-kunddalam bruu-sunetram Vishaalam Prasanna-[A]ananam Niila-kantntham dayaalam I
Mrga-adhiisha-carma-ambaram Mundamaalam Priyam Shankaram Sarva-natham Bhajaami II4II
I adore Lord Shiva, who wears swaying earrings, his forehead has a third eye which is spread out between eyebrows and large beautiful eyes. His face always radiates with elegance and delight. He has blue throat, and is warm-hearted and compassionate.
He has tiger skin around his waist (signifying that he is the lord of animals) and wears a skull garland on his neck (signifying that he can tame the evils). I adore him who is the Lord of all and who is loved by all.
Prachandam Prakishtam praghallam paresham Akhandam Adam bhanukotiprakasham I
Trayeshoolnirmoolnam shoolpaanim Bhajeham bhavani patim bhaavgamyam II5II
I adore the lord who is an illustrious devotee of Devi Bhavani, who is fierce, immense, mature and brave, beyond all, indivisible, unborn, and resplendent like millions of sun.
Lord Shiva is the one who uproots the three negative qualities (tamas, rajas, and sattva), holds a trident and who can be achieved with emotions and devotion.
Kalaatiita-Kalyaana kalpa-anta-kaarii Sadaa sajjna-[A]aananda-daataa pura-arii I
Chid-aananda-samdoha moha-pahaarii Prasiida prasiida prabho manmathaa-Arii II6II
Lord Shiva is the destroyer of Mahmaya (illusions), his propitious nature is beyond the elements of material world, he is beyond imagination, he is auspicious, and causes the end of the world (a cycle of creation when all worldly elements of greed get dissolved). Lord Shiva is the one who provides pleasure to wise human beings, he is perpetual ecstasy and the one who vindicates bountiful passion. We just pray that O Lord, please be happy. He is the destroyer of the Tripurasuras (demons who represent adharma). O the destroyer of enemies please be gracious to me.
Na yaavad umanatha padaa-raravindam Bhajanti-iha loke pare vaa naraannaam I
Na taavat-sukham shaanti santaap -naasham I Prasiida prabho Sara-bhututa-adhi-vaasam II7II
Meaning: As long as the lotus feet of goddess Uma’s lord (Lord Shiva) is worshipped in the world, so long triumph, tranquility and end of misery can be experienced in life. So, hey Lord Shiva, please be courteous, you reside within all beings.
Na jaanaami yogam sapam naiva puuhaam Nathan sadaa sarvadaa shamble-tubhyam I
Jaraa-janama-dukhau-gha taatpyamaanam Prabho paahi Aapanna-maam-iisha shambho II8II
Hey Lord Shiva, I am ignorant and don’t know how to perform yoga, japa (prayer) or puja (how to perform rituals). I always at all times only bow to you almighty my Shambhu (other name of lord Shiva). Lord, please protect me from the sorrows of birth and old age, also save me from the sins which lead to sufferings. I pray to you Lord to protect me from indispositions.
Rudraassttaka-Idam Proktam Viprena Hara-Tossaye Ye Patthanti Naraa Bhaktyaa Tessaam Shambhuh Prasiidati
These eight verses (Rudrashtaka) are the applause of Rudra and have been composed by the wise for pleasing Hara (yet another name of Lord Shiva). Residing this with devotion and whole heart will please Lord Shiva.