The Shiva Thandava Stotram, a Hindu hymn, was written in praise of Shiva, one of the Trimurti (one among three) of Hindu Gods. The Stotram resonates with the description of Shiva’s power and beauty.
Origin of Shiva Thandava Stotram
Ravana, the King of Lanka, was an ardent devotee of Shiva and an accomplished scholar in Navavyakarana (nine forms of Sanskrit grammar). The story goes that Ravana was a mighty king and a consummate Sanskrit scholar who was renowned for his knowledge. Ravana’s power made him greedy, wanting to attain more wealth and power. Legend has it that once he tried to take over Kailasa, the abode of Shiva. Shiva was angered and placed his big toe on Kailasa, which crashed onto Ravana. He then realized Shiva’s power and his own folly. To appease Shiva, Ravana composed and sang the verses, dedicating them to Shiva. These verses form the Shiva Thandava Stotram.
Importance of Shiva Thandava Stotram
Creation is drawn back into the Great Void, and it ends. The ‘Maha Pralaya’ (great holocaust) starts when Shiva starts his Thandava, his cosmic dance. Ravana’s pride and reckless disrespect angered Shiva, and his Thandava, an aggressive dance, releases destructive energies and destroys creation. The Stotram highlights how every part of Shiva resonates when he dances and impacts nature too. The hymn has 16 verses, and each of them describes Shiva‘s eternal beauty and power in great detail.
Translation and Meaning of the Shiva Tandava Stotram
गलेऽवलम्ब्य लम्बितां भुजङ्गतुङ्गमालिकाम् ।
चकार चण्डताण्डव तनोतु नः शिवः शिवम् ॥१॥
Galeavalambya lambitam bhujangatungamalikam
Damad damad damaddama ninadavadamarvayam
Chakara chandtandavam tanotu nah shivah shivam .. 1
Shiva, when he starts performing the Tandav (cosmic) dance, has the holy Ganges start to flow from his matted locks through his neck, around which the revered snake, Vasuki, coiled majestically, sits like a graceful garland. Shiva’s drum, the Damaru (symbol of infinity), has a powerful rhythm and releases spiritual energy when he dances. The drum beats of the Damaru was the base for the recognition of the Sanskrit language. Shiva’s dance denotes masculinity, vigor, and power. Shiva danced the cosmic dance to bless and shower human beings with prosperity.
In the above verse, Ravana describes Shiva, the Supreme Being within Shaivism. He is Mahadev, the deity of deities, and has the power to transform the universe. As Shiva starts the Thandava (cosmic dance), Ravana describes his appearance, in terms of beauty unleashed in a wild, natural, and untamed way. He also describes the physique of Shiva, the features that adorn him like jewels, and the spiritual energy radiating from him as he dances.
किशोरचन्द्रशेखरे रतिः प्रतिक्षणं मम ॥२॥
Kishorachandrashekhare ratih pratikshanam mama .. 2
Shiva performs the Thandava, and his long locks fly around his head. The river Ganges moves in an agitated manner through Shiva’s hair, creating waves in motion that glorify his head. His forehead dazzles as he dances, looking like fire. In converse, the crescent Moon shines on his head, worn like an ornament. In this verse, Ravana sings the praise of Shiva and the vigor of his movements. Shiva’s grace as a dancer is legendary, and his every move impacts nature, whether it is the flow of the Ganges, or the luminous Moon, radiant and beautiful.
क्वचिद्दिगम्बरे मनो विनोदमेतु वस्तुनि ॥३॥
Kvachidigambare manovinodametuvastuni .. 3
Ravana says that he seeks happiness in Shiva, in whose mind exist the glorious beings of the universe. Ravana considers Shiva to be a sporting and affectionate companion to Parvati, daughter of the king of mountains. Shiva can be easily angered, but he is very compassionate and forgiving, and he can remove any hardship with his sympathetic glance that can be so persuasive, and the directions are his clothes.
मनो विनोदमद्भुतं बिभर्तु भूतभर्तरि ॥४॥
Mano vinodamadbhutam bibhartu bhutabhartari .. 4
Here, Ravana seeks pleasure from Shiva, who supports life and has the elements of nature adorning him like jewels. With Vasuki’s reddish-brown hood swaying through his matted locks, and whose gem spreads its radiance across the faces of beautiful maidens in all directions and covered with the skin of an intoxicated elephant, the leader of mystical souls guarding Kailasa.
प्रसूनधूलिधोरणी विधूसराङ्घ्रिपीठभूः |
श्रियै चिराय जायतां चकोरबन्धुशेखरः ||५||
Shriyai chiraya jayatam chakorabandhushekharah .. 5
Ravana prays that prosperity comes in abundance from Shiva, with his matted locks holding the crescent moon (a relative of the Cakora bird) like a shining jewel, whose hair is tied by the snake garland. Shiva’s footstool, colored gray by the constant and seamless flow of flower dust from the heads of Indra, Vishnu, and others.
निपीतपञ्चसायकं नमन्निलिम्पनायकम् |
महाकपालिसम्पदेशिरोजटालमस्तु नः ||६||
Mahakapalisampade shirojatalamastunah .. 6
Ravana prays for Siddhis, wealth, from Shiva’s locks of hair, that consumed the God of Love Kama, with the fire flaming in his forehead. Shiva is Mahadev, the deity of the deities, and Indra bows to him. Shiva wears on his head the crescent moon with the same ease as he wears the skulls around his neck.
प्रकल्पनैकशिल्पिनि त्रिलोचने रतिर्मम ॥७॥
Ddhanajnjaya hutikruta prachandapajnchasayake
Prakalpanaikashilpini trilochane ratirmama .. 7
Ravana expresses interest in Shiva is the only God with three eyes that delivered the God of Love Kama, to be consumed by fire, that flamed with thirst on his forehead, and who is the sole expert artiste to draw decorative lines on the tip of Parvati’s bosom.
8) नवीनमेघमण्डली निरुद्धदुर्धरस्फुरत्_
कुहूनिशीथिनीतमः प्रबन्धबद्धकन्धरः ।
कलानिधानबन्धुरः श्रियं जगद्धुरंधरः ॥८॥
Kalanidhanabandhurah shriyam jagaddhurandharah .. 8
Ravana prays for Shiva, who bears the burden of this earth, whose neck is as dark as the midnight of the New Moon covered by layers of clouds, who is handsome, wearing the crescent Moon, and the celestial river Ganges on his head, to bless everyone with wealth.
स्मरच्छिदं पुरच्छिदं भवच्छिदं मखच्छिदं
गजच्छिदान्धकच्छिदं तमन्तकच्छिदं भजे ॥९॥
Smarachchidam purachchhidam bhavachchidam makhachchidam
Gajachchidandhakachidam tamamtakachchidam bhaje .. 9
Ravana prays to Shiva, whose neck is darkened by the full-bloomed blue lotuses, on whom temples depend for prayer. Ravan prays to Shiva, who destroyed Manmatha, God of Love, the Tripuras, the bonds of worldly life, and those who demolished sacrifices, the demon Andhaka, the destroyer of elephants and who controlled, Yama, God of Death.
स्मरान्तकं पुरान्तकं भवान्तकं मखान्तकं
गजान्तकान्धकान्तकं तमन्तकान्तकं भजे ॥१०॥
Smarantakam purantakam bhavantakam makhantakam
Gajantakandhakantakam tamantakantakam bhaje .. 10
Here, Ravana prays to Shiva, who has bees flying all over him, emanating from the sweet honey from the bunch of auspicious Kadamba flowers. He prays to Shiva, who destroyed Manmatha, God of love, the three cities, who destroyed the bonds of worldly life, the Yagna destroyers, the demon Andhaka, annihilator of elephants, and who controlled Yama, God of Death.
ध्वनिक्रमप्रवर्तितप्रचण्डताण्डवः शिवः ॥११॥
Dhimid dhimid dhimidhvanan mrudangatungamangala
Dhvanikramapravartita prachandatandavah shivah .. 11
Shiva dances the Thandava to the rhythmic, auspicious drum that beats Dhimmi, Dhimmi, with the fire on his forehead that is spread out by the breadth of the snake in whirling motion into the glorious skies.
गरिष्ठरत्नलोष्ठयोः सुहृद्विपक्षपक्षयोः ।
समप्रवृत्तिकः कदा सदाशिवं भजाम्यहम् ॥१२॥
Samapravrutikahsamam pravartayanmanahkada sadashivam bhaje .. 12
Ravana asks when he would get to worship the eternally auspicious Shiva, who has a neutral vision. Shiva is known to view everything equally, be it the people or a king, who eyes a blade of grass or lotus eyes the same, who shows equanimity towards gems and a lump of dirt, towards friends and enemies, towards a snake and a garland and other ways of the world.
13) कदा निलिम्पनिर्झरीनिकुञ्जकोटरे वसन्
विमुक्तदुर्मतिः सदा शिरस्थमञ्जलिं वहन् ।
शिवेति मन्त्रमुच्चरन्कदा सुखी भवाम्यहम् ॥१३॥
Kada nilimpanirjharinikujnjakotare vasanh
Vimuktadurmatih sada shirah sthamajnjalim vahanh
Shiveti mantramuchcharan sada sukhi bhavamyaham .. 13
Ravana asks when he would be happy, living in a hollow place near the celestial river Ganges. Ravana wants to meditate with folded hands on his head all the while, uttering the name of Shiva and washing away all evil thoughts, only reciting the Shiva mantra, with complete devotion to the God with a flaming forehead and vibrant eyes.
14) इदम् हि नित्यमेवमुक्तमुत्तमोत्तमं स्तवं
पठन्स्मरन्ब्रुवन्नरो विशुद्धिमेतिसंततम् ।
हरे गुरौ सुभक्तिमाशु याति नान्यथा गतिं
विमोहनं हि देहिनां सुशङ्करस्य चिन्तनम् ॥१४॥
Idam hi nityamevamuktamuttamottamam stavam
Hare gurau subhaktimashu yati nanyatha gatim
Vimohanam hi dehinam sushankarasya chintanam .. 14
Anyone who reads this Stotra, remembers and recites it, will get purified forever. A devotee becomes utterly devoted to Shiva, as the mere thought of Shiva removes any delusion, and will lead to salvation. It will make anyone who recites this Stotra, pure and eternal.
15) पूजावसानसमये दशवक्त्रगीतं यः
शम्भुपूजनपरं पठति प्रदोषे ।
तस्य स्थिरां रथगजेन्द्रतुरङ्गयुक्तां
लक्ष्मीं सदैव सुमुखीं प्रददाति शम्भुः ॥१५॥
Yah shambhupujanaparam pathati pradoshhe
Tasya sthiram rathagajendraturangayuktam
Lakshmim sadaiva sumukhim pradadati shambhuh .. 15
Whoever recites this Stotra, at the end of the Pooja, after sunset, on Pradosham after worshipping Shiva, will have the abundant blessings of Lakshmi (prosperity), with the wealth of chariots, horses and elephants.
इति श्रीरावण – कृतम् शिव – ताण्दव स्तोत्रम् सम्पूर्णम्
Thus ends the Shiva Thandava Stotram (prayer of Shiva in cosmic dance) composed by Ravana.
Benefits of Chanting Shiva Thandava Stotram
Chanting the Shiva Thandava Stotram or listening to it can confer beauty, power, and mental strength to any individual.