Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shiva Sahasranama -- Parampara and Paramartham

Parampara :

Shiva sahasranama is a list of a thousand names of Shiva. The Shiva Sahasranama Stotram is a very ancient hymn. It, first, came from the mouth of Lord Brahma. So the parampara begins from Brahma. He imparted this secrect hymn to Sakra(Indra), From him, it was communicated to Mrityu,the death. Mrithyu communicated it to Rudras(Maruts). The Marut ganas imparted it to Sage Tandi. He later taught the same to Sukhracharya. From Shukra, it was imparted to Gautama Maharshi. Gautama, one among the saptarshis, communicated the secret names of Brahman to Vaivasvata Manu. The Supreme Sage Narayana who was mantra drasta of Purusha Suktam, learned Sahasranama from Manu. Narayana imparted it to Yama. Yama communicated the secret hymn to Nachiketa. Nachiketa imparted it to Markandeya Maharshi. Sage Upamanyu learned it from Markandeya. Later, Sage Upamanyu communicated the same to his satsanga mitra,Krishna. Krishna imparted it to Yudhisthira Like that, Siva Sahasranama is being communicated through a great parampara from time Immemorial.

The Parampara of Shiva Sahasranama Stotram 

The Anushasana Parva of Mahabharata ( 13:17: 164 - 169 ) explains about parampara as follows :

stavam etaṃ bhagavato brahmā svayam adhārayat
brahmā provāca śakrāya śakraḥ provāca mṛtyave

This hymn is a great mystery. It formerly resided in the breast of Brahma the Creator. Brahma imparted it unto Sakra. Sakra imparted unto Mrityu.

mṛtyuḥ provāca rudrāṇāṃ rudrebhyas taṇḍim āgamat
mahatā tapasā prāptas taṇḍinā brahma sadmani

Mrityu imparted it unto the Rudras. From the Rudras Tandi got it. Indeed Tandi acquired it in the region of Brahman as the reward of his severe austerities.

taṇḍiḥ provāca śukrāya gautamāyāha bhārgavaḥ
vaivasvatāya manave gautamaḥ prāha mādhava

Tandi communicated it to Sukra, and Sukra of Bhrigu's race communicated it to Gautama. Gautama in his turn, O descendant of Madhu, communicated it to Vaivaswata-Manu.

nārāyaṇāya sādhyāya manur iṣṭāya dhīmate
yamāya prāha bhagavān sādhyo nārāyaṇo 'cyutaḥ

 Manu communicated it unto Narayana of great intelligence, numbered among the Sadhyas and held exceedingly dear by him. The illustrious Narayana, numbered among the Sadhyas and possessed of glory that knows no diminution, communicated it to Yama.

nāciketāya bhagavān āha vaivasvato yamaḥ
mārkaṇḍeyāya vārṣṇeya nāciketo 'bhyabhāṣata

Vaivaswat Yama communicated it to Nachiketa. Nachiketa, O thou of Vrishni's race, communicated to Markandeya. 

mārkaṇḍeyān mayā prāptaṃ niyamena janārdana
tavāpy aham amitraghna stavaṃ dadmy adya viśrutam
svargyam ārogyam āyuṣyaṃ dhanyaṃ balyaṃ tathaiva ca

From Markandeya, O Janarddana, I obtained it as the reward of my vows and fasts.  To thee, O slayer of foes, I communicate that hymn unheard by others. This hymn leads to heaven. It dispels disease and  bestows long life. This is worthy of the highest praise, and is consistent with the Vedas.'

Paramartham and Phala Stuthi : (Greatness of Shiva Sahasranama )

Sri Krishna explained to Yudhisthira about the greatness of Shiva Sahasranama Sotram which was learned by him from Sage Upamanyu. The Anushasana parva of Mahabharata ( 13:17: 151 - 163) explains the paramartham of Shiva Sahasranama as follows :

yaṃ na brahmādayo devā viduryaṃ na maharṣayaḥ
taṃ stavyam arcyaṃ vandyaṃ ca kaḥ stoṣyati jagatpatim

Who is there that can hymn the praises of the lord of the universe, that great Lord of all who deserves our adorations and worship and reverence, whom the very gods with Brahma at their head are unable to praise and whom the Rishis also fail to sing?

bhaktim eva puraskṛtya mayā yajñapatir vasuḥ
tato 'bhyanujñāṃ prāpyaiva stuto matimatāṃ varaḥ

 Aided, however, by my devotion to him, and having received his permission, I have praised that Lord of sacrifices, that Deity of supreme puissance, that foremost of all creatures endued with intelligence.

śivam ebhiḥ stuvan devaṃ nāmabhiḥ puṣṭivardhanaiḥ
nityayuktaḥ śucir bhūtvā prāpnoty ātmānam ātmanā

By praising with these names that enhance one's auspiciousness of the great lord of blessedness, a worshipper of devoted soul and pure heart succeeds in attaining to his own self. These names constitute a hymn that furnishes the best means of attaining to Brahman

etad dhi paramaṃ brahma svayaṃ gītaṃ svayambhuvā
ṛṣayaś caiva devāś ca stuvanty etena tatparam

With the aid of this hymn one is sure to succeed in attaining to Emancipation. Rishis and the deities all praise the highest deity by uttering this hymn

stūyamāno mahādevaḥ prīyate cātmanāmabhiḥ
bhaktānukampī bhagavān ātmasaṃsthān karoti tān

The illustrious deity is always full of compassion towards his devotees. Endued with omnipotence, he it is  that gives Emancipation to those that worship him.

tathaiva ca manuṣyeṣu ye manuṣyāḥ pradhānataḥ
āstikāḥ śraddadhānāś ca bahubhir janmabhiḥ stavaiḥ

So also, they among men that are foremost, that are possessed of faith and devotion hear and recite for others and utter with reverence the praises of that highest and eternal Lord viz. Isana, in all their successive lives and adore him in thought, word, and deed, and adoring him thus at all times,

jāgrataś ca svapantaś ca vrajantaḥ pathi saṃsthitāḥ
stuvanti stūyamānāś ca tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca
janma koṭisahasreṣu nānā saṃsārayoniṣu

when they are lying or seated or walking or awake or opening the eyelids or shutting them, and thinking of  him repeatedly, become objects of reverence with all their fellowmen and derive great gratification and exceeding joy. 

jantor viśuddhapāpasya bhave bhaktiḥ prajāyate
utpannā ca bhave bhaktir ananyā sarvabhāvataḥ

When a creature becomes cleansed of all his sins in course of millions of births in diverse orders of being, it is then that devotion springs up in his heart for Mahadeva.

kāraṇaṃ bhāvitaṃ tasya sarvamuktasya sarvataḥ
etad deveṣu duṣprāpaṃ manuṣyeṣu na labhyate

 It is through good luck alone that undivided devotion to Bhava who is the original cause (of the universe) fully springs up in the heart of one that is conversant with every mode of worshipping that great Deity. Such stainless and pure devotion to Rudra, that has singleness of purpose and that is simply irresistible in its course, is seldom to be found among even the deities, and never among men

nirvighnā niścalā rudre bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī
tasyaiva ca prasādena bhaktir utpadyate nṛṇām
yayā yānti parāṃ siddhiṃ tadbhāvagatacetasaḥ

It is through the grace of Rudra that such devotion arises in the hearts of human beings. In consequence of such devotion, men, identifying themselves wholly with Mahadeva, succeed in attaining to the highest success. 

ye sarvabhāvopagatāḥ paratvenābhavan narāḥ
 prapanna vatsalo devaḥ saṃsārāt tān samuddharet

The illustrious Deity who is always inclined to extend his grace towards them that seek him with humility, and throw themselves with their whole soul upon him rescues them from the world.

evam anye na kurvanti devāḥ saṃsāramocanam
manuṣyāṇāṃ mahādevād anyatrāpi tapobalāt

 Except Mahadeva,the great Deity who frees creatures from rebirth, all other gods constantly nullify the penances of men, for men have no other source of puissance that is as great as these

iti tenendra kalpena bhagavān sad asat patiḥ
kṛtti vāsāḥ stutaḥ kṛṣṇa taṇḍinā śuddhabuddhinā

It was even thus Tandi of tranquil soul, resembling Indra himself in splendour, praised the illustrious Lord of all existent and non-existent things,--that great Deity clad in animal skins. 


  1. Yes indeed the greatness of the supreme Lord said!! I am sure Katha Upanishad should have actually had the Siva Sahasranama because of the conversation between Yama and Nachiketa ,which never took place else where ,but given to us by sages in the Katha upanishad ! I wonder if the part of manuscript is missing or was it not mentioned at all ???? what ever may be , i think Siva Sahasranama should have its roots to Katha Upanishad!! since the maruts (Rudras) are involved I am pretty sure its roots are in the Upanishads !! Thank you very much for all!! you have given me a Vital clue.if their was a better word than Thank you, I would ascribe that word to you.

  2. Hi Karthik,

    Yes. Katha Upanishad is a beautiful piece of Vedanta where we come across the legendary conversation between Yama and Nachiketa. Of course, It was later explained in other puranas too. For example in Varaha Puran the same is repeated again. Actully,It is not possible to include all the conversation that took for about 3 days between yama and Nachiketa. So Upanishad describes only the process of rebirth and about Purusha(Shiva).

    Shiva Sahasranama is a "Nama Vidya". 'Nama' means 'Name' . If anyone want to explain about the supreme reality ( ie., Parabrahman ) in human language he must use some characteristics, Some phrases,some ideas, inorder to impart the knowledge. When we assimilate all these concepts and ideas,adjectives,..etc as "NOUNs" . They are called 'Nama'.

    For example, When Svetasvatara Rishi explains about the supreme reality he used the phrase , Mahesvara. ie., "great lord'. When we use the same phrase as 'NOUN' it becomes 'NAMA'.

    Like that, Shiva Shasranama means 1000 names which are usually used by our Rishis to explain about the ultimate reality. Without using these names no one can explain about the ultimate reality. When we prepare for exams we cannot read the whole book in one night so while preparing for exams we underline the important phrases and key words in the paragraph. So just by seeing those underlined words we get an idea about the content of the paragraph. Similarly, we cannot read all vedantic works everyday So when all key phrases and key words are turned in form of NAMAS then just by listenting to it we can get the whole message of Vedanta. So Shiva sahasranama is called 'Nama Vidya'.

    Shiva sahasranama is much older than vishnu sahasranama. In fact, the NamaVidya has vedik origins. The Satarudriya ( Rudram) contains 100 names of Almighty Rudra. The Rudra Bhaktas of Vedik period were the first to use 'Nama Vidya' as a technique. It became so famous that others have also started doing same.

    There are 8 different versions of Shiva Sahasranama which shows the antiquity of sahasranama.

    Mahabharata -- Two versions Anushasan parva and shanti Parva versions
    Linga Purana -- Two versions verses 1.65.54-168 and LP verses 1.98.27-159
    Shivapurana ---- verses 4.35.1-131
    Vayu Purana ----- verses 1.30.179-28
    Brahmanda Purana ---- Verses(38.1.1-100)
    Rudra Yamala Tantra version.

    I've got 3 versions 1) Lingapurana version, 2) Anushasan parva Version and 3) Rudrayamala tantra version. I'm trying to get other versions too. Anyway, Today, i've posted those three versions onto the blog. Check them out...

  3. Fantastic work.

    Only Mortals and Ignorant few debate on Shiva versus Vishnu. The world of devas works with scalpel like precision with the duties assigned to each for a specific task of running the universe. There is no conflict in Universe. Mahadev is indeed an enigma and we fail to understand him with our limited minds.Vasudeva himself says this:
    Vasudeva Uvacha:-
    Na gathi karmaanam saakya vethumeesasya thathwatha.,
    Hiranyagarbha pramukha deva sendraa maharshaya., 20
    Vasudeva told:- Neither gods like Brahma and Indra, Nor the several great sages, Are capable of understanding, The philosophy behind the great lord.
    Na vidhuryasya nidhana maadhim vaa sookshma darshana,
    Sa kadham nama mathrena sakhyo gnathum sathaam gathi., 21
    How can one understand Him, Just by the mention of his name, Who is capable of seeing minutest things, Who does not have an end nor beginning, And who is the refuge of saints.
    Thasyaha masuragnasya kamschid bhagawatho gunaan,
    Bhavathaam Keerthiyishyaami vrathesaya yathathadam., 22
    I would tell you, few properties of that great God, Who is the God of all penances and, Who is the destroyer of asuras.