The Shiva Mahimna Stotra is very popular among the devotees of Lord Shiva and is considered one of the best among all Stotras (or Stutis) offered to Lord Shiva. The legend about the circumstances leading to the composition of this Stotra is as follows.
The Composition (Story of Pushpadanta)
A king named Chitraratha had constructed a nice garden . There were beautiful flowers in this garden . These flowers were used every day by the king in worshipping Lord Shiva. One day a Gandharva (Heavenly Singer in the court of Indra, the Lord of the Heaven) named Pushhpadanta being fascinated by the beautiful flowers, began to stealthem, as a consequence of which king Chitraratha could not offer flowers to Lord Shiva . He tried very hard to capture the thief, but in vain, because the Gandharvas have divine power to remain invisible.
Finally the king spread the Shiva Nirmaalya in his garden . Shiva Nirmaalya consists of the Bilva leaves, flowers, etc. which have been used in worshipping Lord Shiva . The Shiva Nirmaalya is considered holy.
The thief Pushhpadanta, not knowing this, walked on the Shiva Nirmaalya, and by that he incurred the wrath of Lord Shiva and lost the divine power of invisibility . He then designed a prayer to Lord Shiva for forgiveness. In this prayer he sung the greatness of the Lord.
This very prayer became well known as the ‘Shiva Mahimna Stotra’. Lord Shiva became pleased by this Stotra, and returned Pushhpadanta’s divine powers.
The legend has some basis since the name of the author is mentioned in verse number 38 of the stotram. The recital of this stotra is very beneficial, therefore let its recitation be beneficial to all beings!
mahimnah param te parama vidusho yadyasadrishi
stutir brahma dina mapitadava sannastvayi girah,
atha vacyah sarvah svamati parina mavadhi grinan
mamapyeshah stotre hara nirapavadah parikarah
Sri Pushpadanta said:
If it is unseemly to praise You when ignorant of the extent of’ Your greatness, then even the praises of Brahma and others are inadequate. If no one can be blamed when they praise You according to their intellectual powers, then my attempt to compose a hymn cannot be reproached. (1)
Atitah panthanam tava ca mahima vanmanasayor
atad vyavrttya yam cakita mabhi dhatte shrutirapi,
sa kasya stotavyah katividha gunah kasya vishayah
pade tvarvacine patati na manah kasya na vacah.
Your greatness is beyond the reach of mind and speech. Who can properly praise that which even the Vedas describe with trepidation, by means of’ ‘neti-neti / not this, not this’? How many qualities does He possess? By whom can He be perceived? Yet whose mind and speech do not turn to the form later taken by Him (saguna) (2)
Madhu sphita vacah paramam amritam nirmitavatas
tava brahman kim vag api suraguror vismaya padam,
mama tvetam vanim guna kathana punyena bhavatah
punam ityarthe’smin puramathana buddhir vyavasita.
O Brahman! Do even Brihaspati’s praises cause wonder to You, the author of the nectar like sweet Vedas? 0 destroyer of the three cities, the thought that by praising Your glories I shall purify my speech has prompted me to undertake this work. (3)
Tavaisvaryam yat taj jagadudaya raksa pralayakrit
trayivastu vyastam tisrishu guna-bhinnasu tanushu,
abhavyanam asmin varada ramaniyama ramanim
vihantum vyakrosim vidadhata ihaike jadadhiyah.
O Giver of boons! Some stupid people produce arguments–pleasing to the ignorant but in fact hateful– to refute Your Divinity, which creates, preserves and destroys the world, which is divided into three bodies (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) according to the three gunas, and which is described in the three Vedas. (4)
Kimihah kimkayah sa khalu kimupaya stribhuvanam
kimadharo dhata srijati kimupadana iti ca,
atarkyaish varye tvay yanavasara duhstho hatadhiyah
kutarko’yam kamshcin mukharayati mohaya jagatah.
To fulfill what desire, assuming what form, with what instruments, support and material does that Creator create the three worlds? This kind of futile argumentation about You whose divine nature is beyond the reach of intellect, makes the perverted vociferous, and brings delusion to men. (5)
Ajanmano lokah kimavayava vanto’pi jagatam
adhisthataram kim bhavavidhir-anadritya bhavati,
anisho va kuryad bhuvana janane kah parikaro
yato mandastvam praty-amaravara samsherata ime.
O Lord of gods! Can the worlds be without origin, though they have bodies? Is their creation possible without a creator? Who else but God can initiate the creation of the worlds? Because they are fools they raise doubts about Your existence. (6)
Trayi sankhyam yogah pasupati matam vaishnavamiti
prabhinne prasthane paramidamadah pathyamiti ca,
rucinam vaicitryad riju kutila nana pathajusham
nrinameko gamyas tvamsasi payasa marnava iva.
Different paths (to realization) arc enjoined by the three Vedas, by Sankhya, Yoga, Pashupata (Shaiva) (doctrine and Vaishnava Shastras. People follow different paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best, or most appropriate–and reach You alone just as rivers enter the ocean. (7)
Mahokshah khatvangam parashu-rajinam bhasma haninah
kapalam cetiyat tava varada tantro pakaranam,
surastam tamriddhim dadhati tu bhavad bhru pranihitam
na hi svatma ramam vishaya mriga trishna bhramayati.
O Giver of boons! A great bull, a wooden hand rest, an axe, a tiger skin, ashes, serpents, a human skull and other such things–these are all You own, though simply by casting Your eyes on gods You gave them great treasures which they enjoy. Indeed one whose delight is in the Self cannot be deluded by the mirage of sense objects. (8)
Dhruvam kascit sarvam sakala mapara stva dhruva midam
paro dhrau vyadhrauvye jagati gadati vyasta vishaye,
samaste’pye tasmin puramathana tair vismita iva
stuvan jihremi tvam na khalu nanu dhrishta mukharata.
O Destroyer of the demon Pura, some say that the whole universe is eternal while others say that all is transitory. Others still, hold that it is eternal and non-eternal — having different characteristics. Bewildered by all this, I do not feel ashamed to praise You; indeed my loquacity is an indication of my boldness. (9)
Tavaisvaryam yatnad yadupari virincir-hari-radhah
paricchettum yatav anala manala skandha vapushah,
tato bhakti sraddha bhara-guru-grinad-bhyam girisha yat
svayam tasthe tabhyam tava kim anuvrittir na phalati.
O Girisha, when You took the form of a pillar of fire, Brahma trying from above and Vishnu trying from below failed to measure You. Afterwards, when they praised You with great faith and devotion, You revealed yourself to them of Your own accord; does not surrender to You bear fruit? (10)
dashasyo yadbahun abhrita ranakandu paravashan,
sthirah padmasreni racita caranam bhoruhabaleh
sthiraya stvad bhaktes tripurahara visphur jitamidam.
O Destroyer of Tripura, it was because of that great devotion, which prompted him to offer his heads as lotuses to Your feet, that the ten-headed Ravana was still with arms and eager for fresh war after he had effortlessly rid the three worlds of all traces of enemies. (11)
Amushya tvatseva samadhigata-saram bhujavanam
balat-kailase’pi tvadadhivasatau vikramayatah,
alabhya patale pyalasa-calitan-gustha-shirasi
pratishtha tvayyasid dhruvamupacito muhyati khalah
But when he (Ravana) extended the valour of his arms-whose strength was obtained by worshipping You- to Kailas, Your abode, You moved the tip of Your toe, and he did not find a resting place even in the nether world. Truly, when affluent the wicked become deluded. (12)
Yadriddhim sutramno varada paramo-ccairapi satim
adhashcakre banah parijana vidheya tribhuvanah,
na taccitram tasmin varivasitari tvac caranayor
na kasya unnatyai bhavati srirasastvay yavanatih.
O Giver of boons, since Bana was the worshipper of Your feet is it to be wondered at that he had the three worlds at his command and put to shame the wealth of Indra? What prosperity does not come from bowing down the head to You? (13)
Akanda brahmanda kshaya cakita devasura kripa
vidheya syasidyas trinayana visham samhrita vatah,
sa kalmashah kanthe tava na kurute na shriya maho
vikaro’pi shlaghyo bhuvana-bhaya-bhangavyasaninah.
O Three-Eyed One, who drank poison out of compassion for gods and demons when they were distraught at the sudden prospect of the destruction of the universe, surely the dark blue stain on Your throat has beautified You. Even deformity is to be admired in one who is given to freeing the world of fear. (14)
Asiddhartha naiva kvacidapi sadeva suranare
nivartante nityam, jagati jayino yasya vishikhah,
sa pashyannisa tvam itara surasadharana mabhut
smarah smarta-vyatma na hi vasishu pathyah paribhavah
O Lord, the god of love, whose arrows never fail in the world of gods and men, become nothing but an object of memory because he looked on You as an ordinary god (his body being burnt by Your look of wrath). An insult to the self-controlled is not conducive to good. (15)
Mahi padaghatad vrajati sahasa samshaya-padam
padam visnor-bhramyad bhujaparigha-rugna-graha-ganam,
jagad-rakshayai tvam natasi nanu vamaiva vibhuta.
When You danced to save the world, the earth was suddenly thrown into a precarious state at the striking of Your feet; the spatial regions and the hosts of stars felt oppressed by the movement of Your massive club-like arms; and the heavens became miserable as their sides were constantly struck by Your waving matted hair. Indeed it is Your very mightiness which is the cause of the trouble. (16)
Viyad-vyapi tara gana-gunita phenod-gama-rucih
pravaho varam yah prishata-laghu-dristah shirasi te,
jagad-dvipakaram jaladhivalayam tena kritami-
tyane-naivon-neyam dhrita-mahima divyam tava vapuh.
The river which pervades the sky and whose foam crests look all the more beautiful because of stars and planets, seems no more than a drop of water when on Your head. That same river has turned the world into islands surrounded by waters. From this can be judged vastness of Your divine body. (17)
Rathah kshoni yanta shata-dhriti-ragendro dhanuratho
rathange candrarkau rathacarana-panih shara iti,
didhakshoste ko’yam tripura-trina-madambara-vidhir
vidheyaih kridantyo na khalu paratantrah prabhu-dhiyah.
When You wanted to burn the three cities of the demons – which were but a piece of straw to You–the earth was Your chariot, Brahma Your charioteer, the great mountain Meru Your bow, the sun and the moon the wheels of Your chariot, Vishnu Your arrow. Why all this paraphernalia? The Lord is not dependent on others. He was only playing with things at His command. (18)
Hariste sahasram kamala-balima-dhaya padayor
yadekone tasmin nija-mudaharan-netra-kamalam,
gato bhaktyu-drekah parinatim-asau cakra-vapusha
trayanam rakshayai tripura-hara jagarti jagatam.
O Destroyer of the three cities, Hari rooted out His own lotus-eye to make up the difference when one flower was missing in His offering of 1,000 lotuses to Your feet. For this great devotion You awarded the discus (Sudarshan Chakra) ~ with which Hari protects the three worlds. (19)
Kratau supte jagrat tvamasi phalayoge kratumatam
kva karma pradhvastam phalati purusha-radhana-mrite,
atas-tvam sam-preksya kratusu phala-dana-pratibhuvam
shrutau shraddham baddhva dridha-parikarah karmasu janah.
When a sacrifice has ended, You ever keep awake to bestow its fruit on the sacrificer. How can any action bear fruit if not accompanied by worship of You, 0 Lord? Therefore, knowing You to be the Giver of fruits of sacrifices and putting faith in the Vedas, people become resolute about the performance of sacrificial acts. (20)
Kriyadakso dakshah kratupati-radhisha-stanubhritam
rishinamartvijyam sharanada sadasyah suraganah,
dhruvam kartuh sraddha vidhura-mabhicaraya hi makhah.
O Giver of refuge, even that sacrifice where Daksha, the Lord of creation and expert in sacrifices, was the sacrificer, rishis were priests, gods participants, was destroyed by You who are habitually the Giver of fruits of sacrifices. Surely sacrifices cause injury to the sacrificers in the absence of faith and devotion. (21)
Praja-natham natha prasabha-mabhikam svam duhitaram
gatam rohid-bhutam rira-mayishumrishyasya vapusha,
dhanus paner yatam divamapi sapatra kritamamum
trasantam te’dyapi tyajati na mriga-vyadharabhasah.
O Lord, the fury of You who became a hunter with a bow in hand has not as yet left Brahma who, overcome by incestuous lust and finding his own daughter transforming herself into a hind, desired to ravish her in the body of a stag and keenly pierced by Your arrows, he (Brahma) has fled to the sky(22)
Svalavanya-shamsa dhrita-dhanusha-mahnnaya trinavat
purah plustam drishtva pura-mathana pushpa-yudhamapi,
yadi strainam devi yama-nirata dehardha-ghatana
davaiti tvam-addha bata varada mugdha yuvatayah.
O Destroyer of the three cities, 0 Giver of boons, is Parvati who saw the god of love, bow in hand, burnt like a piece of straw in a minute by You, still proud of her beauty and believing that You are fascinated by her, because she was allowed to occupy half Your body because of her austerities? Ah, surely all women are under delusion. You have completely conquered Your senses. (23)
Shmashanesva-krida smarahara pishacah sahacarash
cita-bhasma-lepah sragapi nrikaroti-parikarah.
amangalyam shilam tava bhavatu namaiva-makhilam
tathapi smartrinam varada paramam mangalamasi.
O Destroyer of the god of love, 0 Giver of boons, Your play is in cremation grounds, Your companions are ghosts, You smear Your body with the ashes of burnt bodies, human skulls are Your garland-all Your conduct is indeed inauspicious. But You promote the greatest good of those who remember You. (24)
Manah pratyak-citte savidha-mavadhayatta-marutah
yada-lokyah-ladam hrada iva nimajya-mritamaye
dadhat-yantas-tattvam kimapi yaminas-tat kila bhavan.
You are indeed that inexpressible Truth which the yogis realize within through concentrating their minds on the Self and controlling the breath according to the directions laid down in the scriptures, and realizing which Truth they experience rapturous thrills and shed profuse tears of joy; swimming as it were in a pool of nectar they enjoy inner bliss. (25)
Tvamarkas-tvam somas tvamasi pavanas tvam hutavahas
tvamapas-tvam vyoma tvamu dharanir-atma tvamiti ca,
paricchinnam-evam tvayi parinata bibhratu giram
na vidmas-tat-tattvam vayamiha tu yat-tvam na bhavasi.
The wise hold this limiting view of You: You are the sun, You are the moon, You are fire, You are air, You are water, You are space, You are the earth and You are the Self. But we do not know the things which You are not. (26)
Trayim tisro vrittis tribhuvana-matho trinapi sura
turiyam te dhama dhvanibhi-rava-rundhana-manubhih
samastam vyastam tvam sharanada grinat-yomiti padam.
O Giver of refuge, with the three letters A, U, M, indicating the three Vedas, three states, three worlds and the three gods, the word AUM(Om) describes You separately. By its subtle sound the word Om collectively denotes You – Your absolute transcendental state which is free from change. (27)
Bhavah sarvo rudrah pasupati-rathograh sahamahan
statha bhime-shanav iti yadabhi-dhana-shtakam-idam,
amushmin-pratyekam pravicarati deva shrutirapi
priyayasmai dhamne pravihita-namasyo’smi bhavate.
O Lord! Bhava, Sharva, Rudra, Pashupati, Ugra, Mahadeva, Bhima, and Ishana-these eight names of Yours are each treated in detail in the Vedas. To You, most beloved Lord Shankara, of resplendent form, I offer salutations. (28)
Namo nedisthaya priyadava davishthaya ca namo
namah kshodisthaya smarahara mahishthaya ca namah
namo varshishthaya trinayana yavishthaya ca namo
namah sarvasmai te tadida-mitisarvaya ca namah.
O Lover of solitude, my salutations to You who are the nearest and the farthest. 0 Destroyer of the god of love, my salutations to You who are the minutest and also the largest. 0 Three-eyed one, my salutations to You who are the oldest and also the youngest. My salutations to You again and again who are all and also transcending all. (29)
Bahala-rajase vishvot-pattau bhavaya namo namah
prabala-tamase tat-samhare haraya namo namah,
jana-sukhakrite sattvo-driktau mridaya namo namah
pramahasi pade nistraigunye shivaya namo namah.
Salutations to You as Brahma in whom rajas prevails for the creation of the universe. Salutations to You as Rudra in whom tamas prevails for its destruction. Salutations to You as Vishnu in whom sattva prevails for giving happiness to the people. Salutations to You, 0 Shiva, who are effulgent and beyond the three attributes. (30)
Krisha-parinati cetah klesha-vashyam kva cedam
kva ca tava gunasimol langhini shashva-driddhih,
iti cakita-mamandi kritya mam bhakti-radhad
varada caranayo-ste vakya-pushpo-paharam.
O Giver of boons, how poor is my ill-developed mind, subject to afflictions, and how boundless Your divinity- Eternal and possessing infinite virtues. Though terror–stricken because of this, I am inspired by my devotion to offer this hymnal garland at Your feet. (31)
Asita-giri-samam syat kajjalam sindhu-patre
sura-taruvara-shakha lekhani patra-murvi,
likhati yadi grhitva sharada sarva-kalam
tadapi tava gunanam isha param na yati.
O Lord, if the black mountain be ink, the ocean the inkpot, the branch of the stout wish-fulfilling tree a pen, the earth the writing leaf, and if taking these the Goddess of Learning writes for eternity, even then the limit of Your virtues will not be reached. (32)
The best of Gandharvas, Pushpadanta by name, composed in great devotion this beautiful hymn to the Lord, who is worshipped by demons, gods, and the best of sages, whose praises have been sung, who has the moon on His forehead, and who is attributeless. (33)
Ahara-harana-vadyam dhurjateh stotra-metat
pathati paramabhaktya shuddhacittah pumanyah.
sa bhavati shivaloke rudra-tulya-stathatra
The person who with purified heart and in great devotion always reads this beautiful and elevating hymn to Shiva, becomes like Shiva (after death) in the abode of Shiva, and while in this world gets abundant wealth, long life, progeny and fame. (34)
Maheshannaparo devo mahimno napara stutih,
aghorannaparo mantro nasti tattvam guroh param.
There is no God higher than Shiva, there is no hymn better than the hymn on the greatness of Shiva, there is no mantra more powerful than the name of Shiva, there is nothing higher to be known than the real nature of the Guru. (35)
Diksha danam tapas tirtham jnanamyaga-dikah kriyah,
mahimnah stava pathasya kallam narhanti shodashim
Initiation into spiritual life, charities, austerities, pilgrimages, practice of yoga, performance of sacrificial rites – none of these give even a sixteenth part of the merit that one gets by reciting the hymn on the greatness of Shiva. (36)
shishu-shashadhara-mauler deva-devasya dasah
sa khalu nija-mahimno bhrashta evasya roshat
stavanamidamakarsid divya-divyam mahimnah.
The Lord of Gandharvas, Pushpadanta by name, is the servant of the God of gods who has the crescent moon on his forehead. Fallen from his glory due to the wrath of the Lord, he composed this very beautiful uplifting hymn on the greatness of Shiva to regain His favor. (37)
pathati yadi manushyah pranjalir-nanyacetah,
vrajati shiva-samipam kinnaraih stuyamanah
If one with single-minded devotion and folded palms reads this unfailing hymn composed by Pushpadanta, which is adored by great gods and the best of sages and which grants heaven and liberation, one goes to Shiva and is worshipped by Kinnaras (celestial beings). (38)
Asamapta-midam stotram punyam gandharva bhashitam,
anaupamyam manohari shiva-mishvara-varnanam.
Thus ends this unparalleled sacred hymn composed by Pushpadanta and describing the glory of God Shiva in a most fascinating manner. (39)
Ityesa vanmayi puja shrimac shankara padayoh,
arpita tena devesah priyatam me sadashivah.
This hymn worship is offered at the feet of Shiva. May the ever beneficent Lord of gods be pleased with me at this! (40)
Tava tattwamna janami kidrishosi maheshwara
yadrashosi mahadeva tadrashaya namo namah
I do not know the truth of your nature and who you are- O great God my salutations to your true nature. (41)
Eka kalam dwikalam wa trikalam yah pathennarah
sarva papa vinirmuktah shivaloke mahiyate
Whoever reads this once, twice or thrice (in a day) revels in the domain of Shiva, bereft of all sins. (42)
Sri pushpadanta mukha pankaja nirgatena
stotrena kilbisha harena hara-priyena,
kanthas thitena pathitena samahitena
suprinito bhavati bhutapatir maheshah.
If a person learns by heart and recites this hymn, which flowed from the lotus mouth of Pushpadanta, which destroys sins and is dear to Shiva and which equally promotes the good of all, Shiva, the Lord of creation, becomes very pleased. (43)
Ithi Sri Pushpadanta Virachith Shiva Mahimna Stotram Samaptham
thus ends the hymn called – “Shiva Mahimna Stotra” composed by Pushpadanta
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