Shiva Tandava Stotra

Shiva Tandava Stotra (िशवताण्डवस्तोत्रम्) is a hymn of praise in the Hindu tradition that describes Shiva's power and beauty. It was sung by the demon-king Ravana. Both the fourth and fifth quatrains of this hymn conclude with lists of Shiva's epithets as destroyer, even the destroyer of death itself. Alliteration and onomatopoeia create roiling waves of resounding beauty in this example of Hindu devotional poetry.

In the final quatrain of the poem, after tiring of rampaging across the Earth, Ravana asks, "When will I be happy?" Because of the intensity of his prayers and ascetic meditation, of which this hymn was an example, Ravana received from Shiva the boon of indestructibility by all powers on heaven and earth — except by a human being. Disdaining the seeming weakness of humans, Ravana abducted the wife of Rama, Lord Vishnu incarnate. India's great epic, the Ramayana, tells the story of this abduction and of the battle between Lord Rama and Ravana which shook the universe.


It is said that when he tired of rampaging across the earth, Ravana returned to Lord Shiva to request moksha, release from the bondage of endless rebirth. Shiva replied that he had granted Ravana the boon of indestructibility, and that Ravana must instead seek moksha from Lord Vishnu. In this version of Ravana's story, his battle with Rama can be interpreted as a pretext to attain death, and through death, liberation. Ravana's poignant cry in the final quatrain of poetry — "When will I be happy?" is echoed by modern man in his quest for earthly fulfillment and ultimate liberation from its bondage.

A compelling and complex personality, Ravana is for many Hindus a legendary hero, a scholar of immense intelligence and the devoted husband of one of India's traditional five perfect women, Mandodari. Exploring the modern psychological aspects of this story, choreographer Janaki Patrik links Ravana's passionate devotion to Lord Shiva to his fatal flaw — passionate attraction to Rama's wife Sita. Attraction was as pure as a love of mother and child.

Ravana's great-grandfather was Brahma (God of Ultimate Knowledge). He had advanced knowledge of mathematics, science and Ayurveda. He was obsessed with his powers and was egoistic, and to display and prove his powers he was about to move Mount Kailash (the abode of Shiva who was his ancestor god). He managed to lift the mountain but Shiva immediately placed it back crushing Ravana's fingers in the process. That is when Ravana sings "Tandav Stotra" and he was spared and blessed with invulnerability against all beings of heaven and earth except humans.

Poetic characteristics

The stotra is in the Aryageeti (आर्यागीित) style, a variant of the Arya (आर्या) style. There are 32 syllables per half shloka:

.. िशवताण्डवस्तोत्रम् ..

जटाटवीगलज्जलप्रवाहपािवतस्थले matted hair-thick as forest-water-flow-consecrated-area गलेऽवलम्ब्य लम्िबतां भुजङ्गतुङ्गमािलकाम्
in the throat-stuck-hanging-snake-lofty-garland डमड्डमड्डमड्डमन्िननादवड्डमर्वयं damad-damad-damad-damad-having sound-drum-this चकार चण्ड्ताण्डवं तनोतु नः िशवः िशवम् ||१|
did-fierce-Tandava-may he shower-on us-Siva-auspiciousness

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.

जटाकटाहसंभ्रमभ्रमन्िनिलम्पिनर्झरी- matted hair-a well-agitation-moving-celestial river - िवलोलवीिचवल्लरीिवराजमानमूर्धिन
agitating-waves-rows-glorified-head धगद्धगद्धगज्ज्वलल्ललाटपट्टपावके Dhagad-dhagad-dhagat-flaming-forehead-flat area-fire िकशोरचन्द्रशेखरे रितः प्रितक्षणं मम ||२|
baby-moon-crest jewel-love-every moment-for me

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.

धराधरेन्द्रनन्िदनीिवलासबन्धुबन्धुर King of mountains-daughter-sportive-kith-beautiful- स्फुरद्िदगन्तसन्तितप्रमोदमानमानसे
glorious-horizon-all living beings-rejoicing-mind कृपाकटाक्षधोरणीिनरुद्धदुर्धरापिद compassion-look-continuous flow-obstructed-hardships क्विचद्िदगम्बरे मनो िवनोदमेतु वस्तुिन ||३|
some time-in the omnipresent-mind-pleasure-may seek-in a thing

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).

लताभुजङ्गिपङ्गलस्फुरत्फणामिणप्रभा creeping-snake-reddish brown-shining-hood-gem-luster- कदम्बकुङ्कुमद्रवप्रिलप्तिदग्वधूमुखे
variegated-red dye-melting-applied-directions-beloved-face मदान्धिसन्धुरस्फुरत्त्वगुत्तरीयमेदुरे intoxicated-elephant-glittering-skin-upper garment-covered मनो िवनोदमद्भुतं िबभर्तु भूतभर्तिर ||४|
mind-pleasure-wonderful-may it seek-in him who supports all life

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.

सहस्रलोचनप्रभृत्यशेषलेखशेखर Indra/Vishnu-and others-all-lined up-heads- प्रसूनधूिलधोरणी िवधूसराङ्घ्िरपीठभूः
flower-dust-force-grayed-feet-seat भुजङ्गराजमालया िनबद्धजाटजूटकः snake-red-garland (with) tied-locked hair श्िरयै िचराय जायतां चकोरबन्धुशेखरः ||५|
for the prosperity-for a long time-may he be-Cakora bird-relative-on head

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.

ललाटचत्वरज्ज्वलद्धनञ्जयस्फुिलङ्गभा- forehead-flat area-flaming-fire-sparks-luster - िनपीतपञ्चसायकं नमन्िनिलम्पनायकम्
devoured-God of Love-bowing-Gods-leader सुधामयूखलेखया िवराजमानशेखरं cool-rayed-crescent-beautiful-head महाकपािलसम्पदेिशरोजटालमस्तु नः ||६|
for the Siddhi-prosperity-head-locked hair-may it be-to us

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

करालभालपट्िटकाधगद्धगद्धगज्ज्वल- dreadful-forehead-flat area-dhagat-dhagat-flaming द्धनञ्जयाहुतीकृतप्रचण्डपञ्चसायके
fire-offered-powerful-God of Love धराधरेन्द्रनन्िदनीकुचाग्रिचत्रपत्रक- king of mountains-daughter-breast-tip-colorful-decorative lines - प्रकल्पनैकिशल्िपिन त्िरलोचने रितर्मम ||७|
drawing-sole-artist - in the three-eyed -deep interest-mine

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.

नवीनमेघमण्डली िनरुद्धदुर्धरस्फुरत्- new-cloud-circle - obstructed-harsh-striking- कुहूिनशीिथनीतमः प्रबन्धबद्धकन्धरः
new moon-midnight-darkness-tightly-tied-neck िनिलम्पिनर्झरीधरस्तनोतु कृत्ितिसन्धुरः celestial-river-wearing-may he bless-skin-red कलािनधानबन्धुरः श्िरयं जगद्धुरंधरः ||८|
moon-lovely-prosperity-universe-bearer of the burden

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.

प्रफुल्लनीलपङ्कजप्रपञ्चकािलमप्रभा- well-opened-blue-lotus-universe-darkness-luster - वलम्िबकण्ठकन्दलीरुिचप्रबद्धकन्धरम्
hanging-inside-temple-luster-tied-neck स्मरच्िछदं पुरच्िछदं भवच्िछदं मखच्िछदं Manmatha-killer-city-destroyer-mundane life -destroyer-sacrifice destroyer गजच्िछदांधकिछदं तमंतकच्िछदं भजे ||९|
elephant-killer-demon-killer-him-destroyer of Lord Yama-I worship

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.

अखर्वसर्वमङ्गलाकलाकदंबमञ्जरी great-all-auspicious-art-variegated-bunch- रसप्रवाहमाधुरी िवजृंभणामधुव्रतम्
enjoyment-flow-sweetness-flaring up-bees स्मरान्तकं पुरान्तकं भवान्तकं मखान्तकं Manmatha-destroyer-city-destroyer-worldly bond-destroyer -sacrifice-destroyer गजान्तकान्धकान्तकं तमन्तकान्तकं भजे ||१०|
elephant-killer-Andhaka-demon-killer-him-Yama-controller-I worship

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.

जयत्वदभ्रिवभ्रमभ्रमद्भुजङ्गमश्वस- victorious-foot-sky-whirling-roaming-snake-breath- - द्िविनर्गमत्क्रमस्फुरत्करालफालहव्यवाट्
coming out-shaking-evident-dreadful-forehead-fire िधिमद्िधिमद्िधिमध्वनन्मृदङ्गतुङ्गमङ्गल Dhimid-dhimid-dhimid-sounding-drum-high-auspicious- ध्विनक्रमप्रवर्ितत प्रचण्डताण्डवः िशवः ||११|
sound-series-caused-fierce-Tandava dance-Siva

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.

स्पृषद्िविचत्रतल्पयोर्भुजङ्गमौक्ितकस्रजोर्- touching-varied-ways-snake-embodied-garland - गिरष्ठरत्नलोष्ठयोः सुहृद्िवपक्षपक्षयोः
most precious-gems-brilliance-friends-enemies-two wings तृष्णारिवन्दचक्षुषोः प्रजामहीमहेन्द्रयोः grass-lotus-eyes people and the great emperor समप्रवृत्ितकः (समं प्रवर्तयन्मनः) कदा सदािशवं भजे ||१२|
equal-behaviour-always-Lord Siva-worship-I

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

कदा िनिलम्पिनर्झरीिनकुञ्जकोटरे वसन् when-celestial river-bush-hollow place(in)-living िवमुक्तदुर्मितः सदा िशरःस्थमञ्जिलं वहन्
released-bad mind-always-on the head-folded hands- िवमुक्तलोललोचनो (िवलोललोललोचनो) ललामफाललग्नकः agitation-shaking-eyes-the best-forehead-interested िशवेित मंत्रमुच्चरन् कदा सुखी भवाम्यहम् ||१३|

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.

इदम् िह िनत्यमेवमुक्तमुत्तमोत्तमं स्तवं This-indeed-daily-thus-said-the best of the best-stotra पठन्स्मरन्ब्रुवन्नरो िवशुद्िधमेितसंततम्
reading-remembering-saying-a person-sanctity-gets-always हरे गुरौ सुभक्ितमाशु याित नान्यथा गितं in Siva-in Guru-deep devotion-quickly-gets-no-other-way िवमोचनं िह देिहनां सुशङ्करस्य िचंतनम् ||१४|
removal of delusion-indeed-for the people-blessed Siva's thought

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.

पूजावसानसमये दशवक्त्रगीतं यः worship-end-time-Ravana-sung शंभुपूजनपरं पठित प्रदोषे
he-who-Siva-worship-dedicated-reads-early in the morning तस्य स्िथरां रथगजेन्द्रतुरङ्गयुक्तां to him-stable-chariot-elephant-horse-having लक्ष्मीं सदैव सुमुिखं प्रददाित शंभुः || १५|

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.

इित श्री रावणकृतम् िशवताण्डवस्तोत्रम् सम्पूर्णम् thus sri Ravana-done Siva-tandava-stotra ends.

Thus ends the auspicious Siva-Tandava Stotra written by Ravana.

External links

* [ English translation and meaning.]

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