Shiva Mahimna Stotra
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Shiva Mahimna Stotra (Sanskrit: शिवमहिम्न:स्तोत्र, translit. śiva-mahimnah stotra, lit. 'Hymn about the greatness of Shiva') is a Sanskrit composition (Stotra) in devotion of Shiva that is believed has been authored by a gandharva (heavenly being) named Pushpadanta.
The thought behind the composition is ‘Enumerating the greatness of Shiva’, being a typical frame of devotion and dedication. In the verses of the Stotram lie stories about various great acts of the Mahadeva. The famous and oft-repeated Sanskrit shloka Asiti girisamam..., which means ‘if an ocean is made the inkpot, the branch of the mythical Parijata tree made the pen and Goddess Saraswati (The Goddess of Knowledge) embarks to write the glory of Lord (Shiva), it still will be impossible to comprehend the greatness of the Lord fully’ – is among the verses of this stotra.
The Composition (Story of Pushpadanta)
Pushpadanta was a Gandharva(गांधर्व), a celestial musician. Along with the kinnar (nymphs), yaksha (archangels), apsara (celestial dancers) etc., gandharva are beings which are said to live in the skies and in the atmosphere, in contact with the higher plane: that of the Gods. They are not necessarily spiritually realised, but are superior to humans.
Pushpadanta (literally, Flower-Teethed) was a divine musician of such standing, in the court of Lord Indra(King of the Gods). Pushpadanta was also a devotee of Lord Shiva and a lover of flowers.
Once he happened to see a beautiful garden adorned with charming flowers. It was King Chitraratha's royal garden, who was also a devotee of Lord Shiva. The King used to offer flowers from his palatial garden as a symbol of his devotion to Lord Shiva.
Pushpadanta was so awestruck by the beauty of the garden, that he could not control his emotions and picked up the flowers from the garden. Every day he tried to stop himself, but failed and picked up the flowers. As a result, King Chitraratha was left with no flowers to complete his prayers to Lord Shiva.
The King did all he could to address the issue. But Pushpadanta had divine powers to be invisible and hence, the king could not find the culprit. Left with no ideas to solve this problem, the king spread bilva leaves or bilipatra (बिलीपत्र - AEGLE MARMELOS tree leaves, which are considered to be sacred offerings to Lord Shiva) in his garden.
Pushpadanta was unaware of this and unknowingly stepped on the bilva leaves. This infuriated Lord Shiva and he punished Pushpadanta by taking away his divine powers.
He was shocked, but being a blessed devotee, he realized why that happened. In order to seek forgiveness and please Lord Shiva, Pushpadant composed a stotra (song of praise) in which he elaborated at length upon Shiva's greatness as a prayer. Lord Shiva, was pleased with his prayers, absolved him and returned his divine powers. This very prayer became well known as the 'Shiva Mahimna Stotra'.
"Anyone who recites this hymn with a pure heart and devotion will be blessed with fame (कीर्ति), wealth (धन), long life (आयु) and many children (सुत) in this mortal world, and will attain Kailas (Shiva's abode) after death. Benefit of singing Shivmahimna stotra is far greater than either the benefit of spiritual initiation (दीक्षा), charity (दान), austerity (तप), pilgrimage (तीर्थ), knowledge of the scriptures (ज्ञान), or the performance of ceremonial sacrifice (यज्ञ-याग)."
- Jan Gonda (1977). A History of Indian Literature: Epics and Sanskrit religious literature. Medieval religious literature in Sanskrit. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 259–. ISBN 978-3-447-01743-5.
- Anthony Kennedy Warder (1988). Indian Kāvya Literature: The bold style (Śaktibhadra to Dhanapāla). Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 78–. ISBN 978-81-208-0450-0.
- Encyclopedia of Hinduism - Volumes on Shiva Ed. by Dr. Nagendra Kr. Singh