Friday, September 11, 2015

Shiva Tāndava Stotram

I have been an avid reader of Captain Ajit Vadakayil's blog. It is here, that i read about Shiva Tandava Stotram first, composed by the great Dashānana - King Rāvana of Lanka. The story of this stotram goes like this (copied from Captain's blog) - 

Ravana went to meet Shiva.  Nandi the vehicle of Shiva, refused to let Ravana in.  Ravan got upset and started teasing Nandi. Nandi got annoyed and cursed Ravana that Lanka would be destroyed by a monkey.  To demonstate to Nandi his great strength, Ravana attempted to shake to lift and  move Mount Kailash the mountain on a whim.  

Shiva, annoyed by Ravana's arrogance, pressed his little toe on Kailash, pinning him firmly and painfully under it.  Not to be outdone, Ravana plucked out the nerves from his hand used Kailash as a resonator and composed and sang stotras praising Lord Shiva.   Finally Shiva got pleased with his resilience and devotion , after hearing Shiva Tandav Stotram and  released Ravana from his bondage.

You will note i have used "great" to describe Rāvana, who is popularly considered as an extremely evil personality. I feel this is an exaggerated opinion of his. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, a renowned scholar and a benevolent king. But considering his arrogance he was punished as regards the principles of Dharma, as applicable to the times of Treta Yuga.

Back to the stotram...:) It is a great example of the power and beauty of Sanskrit, a language i hope i will be able to master in this lifetime.  Most of us will identify it by its opening lines (from Wikipedia);

गलेऽवलम्ब्य लम्बितां भुजङ्गतुङ्गमालिकाम् |
चकार चण्डताण्डवं तनोतु नः शिवः शिवम् ||१||

Jata tavee gala jala pravaha pavithas thale
Galae..valambya lambitaam bhujanga tunga malikaam
Damad damad damad daman ninaa davad damar vayam
Chakara chanda tandavam tanotu naha shivaha shivam. 1

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 like a garland, 
and the Damaru drum making the sound of Damat Damat Damat Damat
Lord Shiva did the auspicious dance of Tandava 
and may He shower prosperity on us all.

The rest of the translation can be seen here.

The stotram has been used in a couple of movies, notably Lingaa (2014), Attacks of 26/11(2013) and most recently, in Baahubali, in a song named Kaun hai woh. Composed by the great M.M. Keeravani and rendered by Kailash Kher, the spirit of the song is amazing.

The intent of this post, apart from introducing this amazing sacred chant is also to share some of its best versions available. Here are the top 4 in increasing order of merit.


Album - Majhi Gaani    
Artist - Ajay Atul

Ajay - Atul have not only given some amazing music in Marathi and Hindi cinema, but also created some memorable devotional numbers. We all know Shri Ganeshaaya Dheemahi, rendered by Shankar Mahadevan, and also the rendition of Hanuman Chalisa, which is used extensively in the latest Hanuman series Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman.

This rendition is full on energy and spirit of the stotram, but is not a complete rendition. At one point, you may see Rāvana himself, if you listen carefully:)


Album - Divine Chants of Shiva 
Artist - Uma Mohan 

The album is a very good musical work, and a great attempt at making sacred chants suitable to the new age listener. Uma's voice and pronunciations are good and so are the musical arrangements. This rendition is a very popular one these days, and very good for choreographing dances, The progression is catchy and the traditional elements have been beautifully synthesised.



Album - Shiva Stuthi
Artist - Unnikrishnan

Unnikrishnan is the voice behind Ennavale Ennavale from Kadhalan, which fetched him a National Award and made him a star. He is from Kerala and blessed with a melodious voice.

This composition is the slow paced, complete version and makes for a good morning listen. I used to listen to this track everyday while i was in Pune, for a period of 6 months, and it helped me learn this long stotram very well. I recommend you find and download the whole version, if you want to learn it. Here is a small snippet of the track - very good, easy to listen arrangement, and captures the spirit of the stotram very well.


Album - Vedic Chants - Mantras & Melodies
Singer - Krishnaraj Ji

I got inspired to write on this topic on the last Shrāvana Monday of this year. On 8th, i was trying to search for some another version of the stotram, and was very happy to find this one.

This version is very beautifully rendered; it has all the elements i like, the pronunciations are very good, and instrumentation is traditional. There are a lot of delicate embellishments which make this version a treat to hear. The following video is also brilliantly made.

Dashānana Rāvana continues to be revered and remembered as a great Shiva Bhakta by countless devotees who chant this stotram everyday.

|| Sadāshivam Bhajāmyaham ||


Anonymous said...

For me, its the best of any Shiva chants I have ever heaard so far !
When are you going to translate all of the strotra ? Waiting for it :)

Shrinath Shenoy said...

I copied the translation from the Wiki page. Added the link in the post.

I hope a day comes when i can attempt translating Sanskrit. I am still taking baby steps there:)