The Shiva Tandava Stotra

Tandava, Shiva's cosmic dance.

I wanted to share this transtation of the Shiva Tandava Stotra. This translation and the original Sanskrit are available on the Sanskrit Documents Site.

It is said to have been written by Ravana, who was granted indestructibility by Shiva. After rampaging across the Earth Ravana realises that this is not the route to happiness, and returns and asks Shiva for moksha. This Stotra is Ravana’s praise for Shiva and pleading for moksha (the two verses starting “When will I be happy …?”)

With his neck, consecrated by the flow of water flowing from the
thick forest-like locks of hair, and on the neck, where the lofty snake
is hanging garland, and the Damaru drum making the sound of
Damat Damat Damat Damat, Lord Siva did the auspicious dance of
Tandava and may He shower prosperity on us all.

I have a very deep interest in Lord Siva, whose head is glorified by
the rows of moving waves of the celestial river Ganga, agitating in
the deep well of his hair-locks, and who has the brilliant fire flaming
on the surface of his forehead, and who has the crescent moon as a
jewel on his head.

May my mind seek happiness in the Lord Siva, in whose mind all the
living beings of the glorious universe exist, who is the sportive
companion of Parvati (daughter of the mountain king), who controls
invincible hardships with the flow of his compassionate look, who is
all-persuasive (the directions are his clothes).

May I seek wonderful pleasure in Lord Siva, who is supporter
of all life, who with his creeping snake with reddish brown hood and
with the luster of his gem on it spreading out variegated colors on the
beautiful faces of the maidens of directions, who is covered with a
glittering upper garment made of the skin of a huge intoxicated
elephant.

May Lord Siva give us prosperity, who has the moon (relative of the
Cakora bird) as his head-jewel, whose hair is tied by the red snake-
garland, whose foot-stool is grayed by the flow of dust from the
flowers from the rows of heads of all the Gods, Indra/Vishnu and others.

May we get the wealth of Siddhis from Siva’s locks of hair, which
devoured the God of Love with the sparks of the fire flaming in His
forehead, who is bowed by all the celestial leaders, who is beautiful
with a crescent moon .

My interest is in Lord Siva, who has three eyes, who has offered the
powerful God of Love into the fire, flaming Dhagad Dhagad on the
flat surface of his forehead who is the sole expert artist of drawing
decorative lines on the tips of breasts of Parvati, the daughter of
the mountain king.

May Lord Siva give us prosperity, who bears the burden of this
universe, who is lovely with the moon, who is red wearing the skin,
who has the celestial river Ganga, whose neck is dark as midnight
of new moon night covered by many layers of clouds.

I pray to Lord Siva, whose neck is tied with the luster of the temples
hanging on the neck with the glory of the fully-bloomed blue lotuses
which looked like the blackness (sins) of the universe, who is the
killer of Manmatha, who destroyed Tripuras, who destroyed the
bonds of worldly life, who destroyed the sacrifice, who destroyed the
demon Andhaka, the destroyer of the elephants, and who controlled
the God of death, Yama.

I pray to Lord Siva, who has bees flying all over because of the sweet
honey from the beautiful bunch of auspicious Kadamba flowers, who
is the killer of Manmatha, who destroyed Tripuras, who destroyed the
bonds of worldly life, who destroyed the sacrifice, who destroyed the
demon Andhaka, the killer of the elephants, and who controlled the
God of death, Yama.

Lord Siva, whose dance of Tandava is in tune with the series of loud
sounds of drum making Dhimid Dhimid sounds, who has the fire
on the great forehead, the fire that is spreading out because of the
breath of the snake wandering in whirling motion in the glorious sky.

When will I worship Lord Sadasiva (eternally auspicious) God, with
equal vision towards the people and an emperor, and a blade of grass
and lotus-like eye, towards both friends and enemies, towards the
valuable gem and some lump of dirt, towards a snake and a garland
and towards varied ways of the world

When will I be happy, living in the hollow place near the celestial
river, Ganga, carrying the folded hands on my head all the time, with
my bad thinking washed away, and uttering the mantra of Lord Siva
and devoted in the God with glorious forehead with vibrating eyes.

Whoever reads, remembers and says this best stotra as it is said here,
gets purified for ever, and obtains devotion in the great Guru Siva.
For this devotion, there is no other way. Just the mere thought of
Lord Siva indeed removes the delusion.

Early morning, at the end of Puja, whoever utters this stotra
dedicated to the worship of Siva, Lord Siva blessed him with very
stable Lakshmi (prosperity) with all the richness of chariots, elephants
and horses.

Thus ends the Siva-Tandava Stotra written by Ravana.

Symbolism

Since first posting on this some people have commented about the symbolism in this stotra. I find it interesting that the stotra is attributed to Ravana. I believe he is usually associated with Vishnavism, yet the stotra clearly expresses the Saivite view that Shiva is the ultimate godhead and the source of everything.

The Kambada flowers have many legends associated with them. In southern India these sweet-scented flowers are associated with Parvati.

The Cakora or Chakora bird is a bird that feeds only on the rays of the moon. It is said to be a symbol of longing, either of unfrequented love or of the spirit for moksha, as it can never reach the moon, its sustainer.

Aum Namah Shivaya!

9 responses to “The Shiva Tandava Stotra

  1. I enjoyed reading this post.. I like listening to the Shiva Tandava stotra.

    I dont think at the time of Ravana, there were distinct sects of Vaishnavas or Shaivas. Although there was the concept of Istadeva. That could be the reason that Ravana maybe associated with Vaishnava and Shaiva banners. I also find it fascinating that inspite of Ravana being a Brahmin(if you look at his birth and learnedness), he is generally called an Asura/Rakshas. There is also a background story about who Ravana was in reality. Look for the incarnations of Jaya and Vijaya, its a fantastic read.

    • mysoul,
      Thanks, I will look up these references. Hinduism must have been veru different before Ravana, which was of course before Krishna and Rama.

  2. A minor correction :- It was Brahma who gave the boon that he would be felled only by a Human [not “indestructability” as mentioned],not Shiva as mentioned.
    There was Shaivism and Vaishnavism even then,but lord Vishnu was worshiped as Narayana then.Rama was also a worshipper of Shiva.{the RamanathaSwamy temple of Rameswaram is believed to be installed by him}.It was not a fight between Shaivism and Vaishnavism or Aryan or Dravidian. but against ‘Right’ and wrong.

  3. Thank you Sita. I have put a query on wikipedia about whether Brahma or Shiva granted invulnerability to Ravana, as different articles say different things. Its possible that they get these from different sources, I’ll wait and see

  4. The Ramayana would give you this information.

  5. Inspiring song from Ravana. It’s Bhrahma who gave boons to Ravana. Ravana then sets out to bully the gods. He tries to bully Lord Shiva and finds him, the granddad of all bullies. Then the humbled Ravana obviously, tries to please Shiva with this song. Ravana would have been ignored as another aggressive person, if not for his lust.

    I too recommend reading Ramayana. It’s the very foundation of Indian culture. The story teaches how big calamities result due to a few moments of bad impulses (such as anger,greed,jealousy,revenge and lust).

  6. I am not an authority on Ramayana or Mahabharatha or any other scriptures of Hindu religion though I myself am a Brahmin.

    Regarding blessing of indestructibility to Ravana, it was Lord Brahma, the grandfather or great grandfather or great great grandfather, (I am not sure), of Ravana that bestowed him the blessing. Ravana was a descendant of Lord Brahma. A Brahmana by birth.

    As for the Siva Thandava Stotra, the story as per my knowledge, is that once Ravana was flying past the Himalayas in the Pushpaka vimana. But while passing the Mt. Kailash, Puspak stopped flying. Ravana already having won the devatas, was drunk with his proud and tried to move the Mt. Kailash from the path of the Pushpaka. Knowing the outcome of what Ravana was about to do, Lord Siva starts his Tandava. Ravana unable to move the Mt. Kailash then tries to lift it and almost succeeds. Lord Siva at precisely that moment, presses down the Mt. Kailash with the thumb finger of his right foot and keeps it so. Ravana having tried with all his might to lift the Mt. Kailash, loses all his energy, then realizes that he can never win over Lord Siva with his muscle but only through submission. It is during the time of his trying to lift the Mt. Kailash and his failure that Ravana recites the Siva Tandava Stotram. As Ravana recited the hymn at the time of Lord Siva’s Tandava, it is called as Siva Tandava Stotram.

    This is as per the knowledge gained by me from my elders. If any one can come up with a more authentic explanation, I am all ears.

    Basically, Hinduism is consists of three religions, the Sivaites, Vaishanavaites and the followers of Maa Durga. Ravana was a Sivaite and he like the rest of Asuras sought Lord Vishnu to kill him.

  7. please I want this word in Hindi languese , That i saw here in saskriti.
    please help any one .

  8. Pingback: The Shiva Tandava Stotra (via Western Hindu) « Hindu Internet Defence Force

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