Divine praises in a Divine Language

There is a famous Ganesha temple opposite to my house in Bangalore. It is located on top of a huge hill on the 100 Ft Ring Road. Every year during the anniversary celebrations they invite several eminent singers from all over the State, and hold devotional recitals. During one such recitals I had heard a wonderful song on Lord Ayyappa – Harivaraasanam. Today nearly 7 years later, I chanced on that wonderful stotra once again, and even as I listen to its soothing rendering from the very voice of KJY, I am restraining the tears of joy that are almost ready to burst out of my eyes! I thought of compiling a list of someof the most melodious, soothing, enriching and simply wonderful stotras from Sanskrit.

  • Rudram and Chamakam :- Found in the 4th book of taittiriya samhita called Krishna yajurveda, these two stotras are among the most magnificent not just due to their rendition and verbal grandeur but also for the deep philosophical and religious meaning embedded in them. They sing the praise of Rudra – the destructive form of Lord Shiva, hailing him in different forms. Extremely intricate to say, these stotras are nevertheless very soothing and refreshing when one listenes to them in the early morning and late evenings.
  • Vishnu Sahasranaama :- The most celebrated stotra amongst the sahasranaamas, this is taken from the great Indian epic – Mahabharatha. It was recited to Yudhisthira by the great warrior and scholar Mahatma Bheeshma himself. It contains 1008 names of Lord Vishnu and is very easy to learn and recite. Appropriate recital is known to improve one’s pronunciation as also improve the mental abilities. The reverberations generated by appropriate pronunciation is also known to cure several ailments!
  • Lalitha Sahasranaama :- The beauty of the Hindu dharma and its basic language Sanskrit, is that enormous knowledge of science, acoustics and psychology has been vested in even the simplest of the verses. The Lalitha sahasranaama is a celebration of the Mother Godess. The deep philosophical meaning hidden in its introduction verses – that speaks of the various tantric secrets, the praaNa philosophy, and kundalini yoga only gets more and more intricate as one begins to recite the 1008 names of the Mother. Spiritually enlightening, one has to gain an indepth knowledge of it to truly appreciate the beauty of these verses.

All of the above mentioned verses have very complicated structuring and understanding that is hard to achieve for commoners like us. They ought to be learnt under the guidance of an able Guru and requires tremendous amounts of Sadhana and discipline on the part of the devotee. The following few hymns though simpler are none the less equally powerful in their devotional magnificence. They are easy to learn, easy to recite, melodious, verbally powerful, spiritually enlightening and psychologically enriching!

  • Harivaraasanam :- A stotra of 8 verses (ashtakams) that sing the praises of Lord Ayyappa.
  • Sikshaashtakam :- A composition by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, explaining the 8 fold emotions that a devotee goes through before surrendering to the supreme Lord. This has been brilliantly rendered by Smt. M S Subbulakshmi. She carries the listener to the supreme levels of spiritual ecstasy into a brilliant climax that brings tears to ones eyes. One can feel the heart rending pleads of an ardent devotee in her voice. It is a MUST LISTEN.
  • Shiva Tandava Stotram :- Composed by Ravana himself, in praise of Lord Shiva, this is one of the most magnificent stotras composed on Lord Shiva. It is beautiful in its grammatical composition, rich in its verbal treasure, and quite a mouthful if I can say so. The Onomatopoeia of this stotra makes it a gleaming example on the powerful vocabulary vested in the most ancient language of this earth!
  • Soundarya Lahari :- Shankaracharya composed this describing the beauty of Godess Parvathi. A wonderful collection of verses that not only celebrates the Universal Mother, but also instills the entire nature around us in her form and thus is also visually rich! The verses are abound with their references to natural beauty – animate and inanimate!
  • Madhuraashtakam :- Another stotra having 8 verses that extoll the beauty of Lord Krishna. It is very rhythmic, melodious and visually rich in its description of Govinda.
  • Vande Vandyam Sadaanandam :- A composition that has been used in the movie “Madhvacharya” by G V Iyer, it has been sung by Dr. M Balamurali krishna. I have no information as to the composer of this wonderful stotra. It brings together the grandeur of Lord Vishnu heralding him as the supreme person, and his role as the Moksha pradaayaka, the one who eventually relives the jiva of the worldly bonds.
  • Shyaamala Dandakam :- Another brilliant composition by Shri Shankarachaarya – this was made extremely famous by including in the movie “Kaviratna Kalidasa”. Dr Rajkumar astonishes in his impeccable rendition of this unique form of composition (a dandaka). It describes the beauty and grandeur of the destructive form of Parvathi – Goddess Kali.
  • Sivashtakam :- Extremely rhythmic with terse words, and extremely resounding to the ear, this stotra of 8 verses is extremely famous. One can easily enjoy the beauty of its composition by listening as much as by reciting it! consider this :- paTaadhrOnivaasam mahATTAttahaasam mahA pApa naasham sadA suprakASam.

Several others of such stotras include “Bhaja Govindam”, “Lingashtakam”, “Kaalabhairavaashtakam”, “Siva panchakshara stotram”, “Rama rakshaa stotram”, “Shaarada dandakam”, “Naama Raamayana”, and several others. To talk of each of these would take decades. Nevertheless at regular intervals, I would like to share a few of my knowings with you all and together relish the beauty of them.


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    • anukta on January 21, 2006 at 1:43 PM
    • Reply

    Shlokas must have got some ethereal power.That is why our teacher made us recite them everyday.We used start Sanskrit classes with the shloka:
    vagaartha viva sampruthau vaagartha pratipattaye
    jagatah pitarau vande paarvati paramEshwarau||
    Its meaning is very beautiful.

    Sanskrit knowledge should not have been confined to a particular caste.
    I appreciate your effort.
    Make sure you listen to the album “punarnava”.

    • Praveen on January 21, 2006 at 3:27 PM
    • Reply

    The compositions of some of the really famous shlokas have a lot of acoustic science behind them. Especially the way the words produce the reverberations in our body. You may want to listen to a discourse of Shri Bannanjegovindacharya on Vishnu sahasranaama. Its available at http://www.udbhava.com

    • Deepak Jeswal on January 24, 2006 at 3:56 AM
    • Reply

    I am amazed at your knowledge. Browsed through two-three posts and left a deep impression. Will be back soon. Take care…

    And thanks a ton for my link there 🙂

    • krishna on January 25, 2006 at 12:17 AM
    • Reply

    nice blog uve got here

    will come back
    plz do continue

    hare rama hare krishna

    • Giridhar Narayan on January 28, 2006 at 2:03 AM
    • Reply


    Nice blog. Great info. You will have a regular visitor from now.
    Keep posting.

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