The Shiva Mahimnah 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:
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 (Singer in the court of Indra, the Lord of the Heaven) named Pushhpadanta being fascinated by the beautiful flowers, began to steal them, as a consequence of which king Chitraratha could not offer owers 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 Mahimnah Stotra’. Lord Shiva became pleased by this Stotram, and returned Pushhpadanta’s divine powers.
The recital of this stotra is very beneficial, and Shri Ramakrishna, one of the famous saints of the nineteenth century, went into samadhi just by reciting a few verses from this hymn.
SHIV MAHIMANH STOTRAM
If the praise of Thee by one who is ignorant of the extent of Thy greatness be unbecoming, then the praises of even Brahma and others are inadequate for Thee. And if all remain unblamable by praising Thee according to their intellectual powers, then even this attempt on my part to compose a hymn is free from any blemish.
Thy greatness is beyond the reach of mind and speech. Who will praise That which even the Vedas describe with trepidation by the method of ‘not this,not this’ ? – how many qualities does That possess ? and can be perceived by whom ? Yet to the form taken later, whose mind and speech do not turn ?
O Brahman! Does the praise of even Brihaspati cause any wonderment to Thee who art the author of the nectar like sweet Vedas ? O Destroyer of Tripura, the thought that by praising Thy glories I shall purify my speech has prompted me to undertake this work.
O Giver of boons, in refutation of Thy Divinity which is described by the three Vedas, which creates, preserves and destroys the world, and which is divided into three bodies according to the different qualities , some thick headed persons offer arguments, which are pleasing to the ignorant but in reality hateful.
To fulfill what desire, having what body with what instruments, support,and materials does that creator indeed create the three worlds ? – this kind of vain argumentation with regard to Thee whose Divine nature is beyond vociferious to the delusion of mankind.
O Lord of gods, can the worlds be without origin though they have parts ? Is creation of the worlds possible without a creator ? Who else but God can begin the creation of the worlds ? Because they are fools, they raise doubts as regards Thy existence.
There are different paths of realization as enjoined by the three Vedas, Samkhya, Yoga and Pasupata doctrine and Vaishnava Sastras. Persons following different paths – straight or crooked according as they consider that this path is best or that one is proper due to the difference in temperaments, reach Thee alone just as rivers enter the ocean.
O Giver of boons, a great bull, a wooden club, an axe, a tiger skin, ashes, a human skull and the like – these are Thy sole possessions, though by the mere casting of eyes Thou gave the gods great treasures which they enjoy. Indeed, the mirage of sense – objects cannot delude one whose delight is in the Self.
O Destroyer of Pura some say that the whole universe is eternal, while others say that all is transitory. Yet others maintain that all these are eternal and non-eternal – having different characteristics. Bewildered, as it were by them I do not feel ashamed to praise Thee. Indeed this garrulity indicates my audacity.
O Girisha, Brahma trying above and, Vishnu trying below failed to measure Thee who took the form of a pillar of fire. Afterwards when they praised Thee with great devotion and faith, Thou revealed Thyself to them of thy own accord, indicating whether Thy worship can go without bearing result.
O Destroyer of Tripura, that the ten-headed Ravana, after riding the three worlds of any trace of enemies, remained with arms eager for fresh war is due to the fact of his having great devotion to Thee devotion which prompted him to offer his heads as lotuses to Thy feet.
When Ravana extended the valour of his arms whose strength was obtained by worshipping Thee – to Kailasa, Thy abode, Thou moved the tip of Thy toe , and he did not get a resting place even in the nether world. Verily, when affluent the wicked becomes deluded.
O Giver of boons, that Bana, who had the three wolrds at his command, put to shade the wealth of Indra is not to be wondered at – he being the worshipper of Thy feet. what prosperity does not result from bowing down the head to Thee ?
O Three eyed one, it is not that the dark stain on the throat of Thee who drank poison as an act of favor to gods and demons at their being panicky at the threatened destruction of the universe all on a sudden, has not beautified Thee. Even deformity is admirable in one who is given to freeing the worlds of fear.
O Lord, the god of love whose arrows do not fail anywhere in the world of gods, demoms and men but are always successful became simply an object of memory by looking upon Theeas an ordinary god. For an insult to the self controlled does not conduce to good.
In order to save the world when Thou danced, the earth wondered at the striking of Thy feet, whether it would not come to sudden end; so felt the spatial region along with the planets, oppressed by the movement of Thy iron-cube like arms; and the heaven became then miserable – its side being struck by Thy waving matted hair. Ah, Thy very mightiness is the cause of trouble.
The river which pervades the sky and whose foams look all the more beautiful because of stars and planets, seems no more than a drop of water when on Thy head. That again has turned the world into islands surrounded by waters. And by this should be inferred how vast is Thy divine body.
When Thou wanted to burn the three cities which were but a piece of straw, the earth was Thy chariot, Brahma Thy charioteer, the great mountain Meru Thy bow, the sun and the moon the wheels of Thy chariot, Vishnu Thy arrow why this paraphernalia ? The Lord is not dependent on others – He was playing with things at his command.
O Destroyer of Tripura, Hari rooted out his lotus eye to make deficiency when one flower was missing in his offering of a thousand lotuses to Thy feet; this great devotion transformed into a discus is alert in protecting the three worlds.
The sacrifice being destroyed Thou ever remainest the connecting link between the sacrificers and the fruit of the sacrifice. when does the destroyed sacrifice bear fruit, if not accompanied by the worship of the Lord ? Therefore knowing Thee to be the giver of fruits and putting faith in the Vedas,people become resolute about the performance of sacrifical rites.
Thou Giver of refuge, even the sacrifice where Daksha, the Lord of creation expert in sacrifices was the sacrificer, Rishis were priests, gods were supervisors, was destroyed by Thee though Thou art bent upon giving fruits of the sacrifices. Surely the sacrifices cause injury to the sacrificers in the absence of devotion.
O Lord, the fury of Thee who became a hunter with a bow in hand has not as yet left Brahma though, keenly pierced by Thy arrow and terror stricken , he has fled to the sky.
O Destroyer of Tripura, O Giver of boons even on seeing in front the god of love, bow in hand burnt like a sraw in a trice by Thee, if Parvati proud of her beauty thinks that Thou art under her fascination, because she was allowed to occupy half of Thy body on account of austerities, ah, surely the young women are under delusion.
O Destroyer of the god of love, O Giver of boons, Thy play is in cremation grounds, Thy companions are the ghosts, Thou besmearest Thy body with the ashes of burnt bodies and human skulls are Thy garlands all Thy conduct indeed is thus full of evil. But Thou conducest to the great good of those who remember Thee.
Thou art indeed that unspeakabale truth which the Yogis realize through meditation on the Self, on controlling the breath according to the srciptural directions, and realize which they shed tears of thrilling joy and swimming as it were in a poolof nectar, enjoy inner bliss.
O Giver of refuge, with the three letters A,U,M indicating the three Vedas, the three states, the three worlds and the three gods, the word OM mentions Thee seperately. United by the subtle sound the word OM collectively mentions Thee – Thy Absolute Trancendent State.
O Lord, Bhava, Sarva, Rudra, Pasupati, Ugra, Mahadeva, Bhima and Isana – these eight names are mentioned even in the Vedas. To Thee who artbeloved and effulgent I bow down. .
O Lover of solitude, my salutations to Thee who are very near as also very far, far away. O Destroyer of the god of love my salutations to Thee who art the minutest as also the largest. O Three eyed One, my salutations to Thee who art the oldest as also the youngest. This is my salutations to thee who art all as also transcending all.
Salutations to Brahma in whom Rajas preponderates for the creation of the universe, salutation to Rudra in whom Tamas preponderates for the destruction of the same. Salutation to Vishnu in whom Sattva preponderates for giving happiness to the people, Salutation to Shiva who is effulgent and beyond the three attributes.
O Giver of boons, why is my ill- developed mind subject to misery and where is Thy Divinity – eternal and possessing infinite virtues ? Though terror stricken because of this , I am forced by my devotion to offer this hymn at Thy feet.
O Lord if the blue mountain be the ink, the ocean the ink-pot, the branch of the heavenly tree be pen, the earth the writing leaf, and by taking these if the Goddess of Learning writes for eternity, even then the limit of Thy virtues will not be reached.
The best of the demi-gods, Pushpadanta by name, composed in great devotion this beautiful hymn of the Lord, who is worshipped by demons, gods and the best of sages, whose praises have been sung who has got the moon on His forehead and who is attributeless.
The person who with purified heart and in great devotion always reads this beautiful hymn to Shiva becomes like Shiva after death in the abode of Shiva, and while in this world gets much wealth, long life, many children as also fame.
There is no God better than Shiva, there is no hymnn better than the Hymn on The Greatness of Shiva, there is no sacred word better than the name of Shiva, there is nothing better to be known than the real nature of spiritual teacher.
Getting initiation into the spiritual life, charity, austerity, pilgrimage, knowledge of the scriptures the performance of sacrifical rites – these do not give one – sixteenth part of the merit that is got by reciting the Hymn on the Greatness Of Shiva.
The Lord of Gandharvas, Pushpadanta by name is the servant of the great God who has the crescent moon on His forehead. Fallen from his glory due to the anger of the Lord, he composed this very beautiful Hymn on the Greatness Of Shiva to regain His favor.
After worshipping Shiva, who is adored by gods and who grants heaven and liberation, if one with single minded devotion and folded palms reads the unfailing hymn composed by Pushpadanta, one goes to Shiva, being worshipped by Kinnaras.
This unparalleled, sacred hymn composed by Pushpadanta and describing the glory of God is all very fascinating from start to finish.
This hymnal worship is offered to the feet of Shiva. May the ever – propitious Lord of gods be pleased with me at this.
O Lord , I do not know the true nature of Thy being – of what kind Thou art. Of whatever nature Thou mayest be, O Great God to That my salutation again and again.
The person who reads this hymn once, twice or thrice is glorified in the abode of Shiva, being freed from all sins.
If a person learns by heart,reads or keeps in the home this hymn, which came out of the lips of Pushpadanta and which destroys sins and is dear to Shiva, Shiva the Lord of creation becomes very pleased.