The Shiva Taandav Stotra—This Stotra (hymn) is dedicated to Lord Shiva’s cosmic
dance form that represents creation, sustenance and destruction of creation. It is the most
complex, and of all the hymns of Lord Shiva it is the most enchanting to hear when
incanted by expert singers, as its lyrics are very emphatically bold, robust and rhythmic.
The unique quality of this Stotra is that it was composed by Ravana, the demon king of
Lanka. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, and used to offer daily prayers to him.

 The Lord (Shiva) who wears a crown of dense matted hairs on his head from which falls 
the holy river Ganges, washing and bathing the Lord’s throat around which a thick 
garland of serpents is dangling as its stream cascades down (to reach the plains of the 
land below), the Lord who dances ecstatically to the loud sound emerging from his 
Damaru (a hand-held tabor shaped like an hour-glass) that he shakes vigorously—let that 
divine Lord Shiva grant us our welfare and well-being. (1)
 The Lord (Shiva) whose head is adorned by the thick mat of coiled hairs that form a 
virtual cauldron in which the bubbling and frothing currents of river Ganges swirl 
vigorously, the Lord on whose forehead the fire is raging and leaping forth with a roaring 
sound, the Lord on whose head the newly formed moon (crescent moon) looks 
admirable—let me have infinite affection and devotion every moment of my life towards 
such a divine form of Lord Shiva. (2)

 The Lord (Shiva) who feels exceedingly happy when he observes that all the directions 
are illuminated by the magnicient ornaments worn by the daughter of the mountains (i.e. 
Parvati or Uma who is his divine consort) when she is in a cheerful mood, the Lord by whose mere gracious glance the greatest and the gravest troubles and problems are 
dispelled or eliminated—let my mind and heart find their peace, happiness, succour and 
solace in Digambar (naked; unpretentious; one who wears the sky as his attire) form of 
the Lord (Shiva). (3)

 All the directions of the world are being illuminated by the diffused golden-hued light 
radiating out from the ‘Manis’1
 present on the hoods of wonderful serpents that have 
raised their hoods as high as the equally wonderful lock of hairs on the Lord’s head, 
swaying majestically there, and the thick hide of the elephant that the Lord wears on the 
upper part of his body as an overgarment gives the Lord’s appearance a glazed and 
smooth sheen—let my mind and heart find happiness and joy by remaining engrossed in 
the remembrance of this Lord of Bhuts (living beings; ghosts; mortal creatures). (4) 
Mani—It is believed that certain category of serpents effuse a sap from their heads that 
dries up to form a gem-like structure from which a divine glow effuses. Its colour is like that of 
The Lord (Shiva) whose footwear has become covered by the flowers and their petals that 
have fallen down from the heads of Indra (king of Gods) and other Gods when they 
bowed their heads before the holy feet of the Lord to pay their respects to him, the Lord 
whose majestic lock of hairs on the head is girdled on all the sides by a ring formed by 
the coiled body of Naag-raj, the king of serpents (i.e. Lord Seshnath)—let that Lord 
Chandrashekhar (the Lord who has the moon on his head, the moon that resembles a gem 
studded on his crown of hairs—i.e. Lord Shiva) be a bestower of everlasting wealth and 
prosperity for me. (5)
 The Lord (Shiva) had destroyed the God of passions and lust known as Kaamdeo with the 
flames leaping out of the ferocious fire raging brilliantly in the altar represented by his 
forehead (i.e. from the fire spewing out of the third eye located in the middle of his 
forehead above the root of the nose), the Lord to whom Indra (king of Gods) regularly 
pays his respects, and the crown of locked hairs on whose head is adorned by the ever-
changing form of the magnificent moon—let that Lord known as ‘Maha-kapali’ (i.e. Lord 
Shiva with a broad and high forehead) be a source of my wealth and well-being. (6)
 The Lord (Shiva) had offered the sacrifice of Kaamdeo (God of passions and lust) by 
burning him to ashes in the fire-pit of the blazing fire that rages on his broad and high 
forehead, and the only Lord who can expertly decorate the breast of the daughter of the 
mountains (i.e. goddess Parvati, his divine consort) with leaves and petals—let me be focused on the Lord with three eyes, known as ‘Trilochan’, and let me remember him and 
meditate upon him. (7)
 The Lord (Shiva) who has a dark-coloured throat1
 that is as dark as the night of the dark 
moon when the sky is covered with a thick blanket of dark clouds, the Lord who has the 
hide of an elephant wrapped around his body, and the Lord whose beautiful complexion 
shines/glows with the subtle light emanating from the magnificent moon present on his 
forehead—let that Lord known as ‘Ganga-dhar’ (i.e. the Lord who bears the holy river 
Ganges on his head) enhance my wealth and prosperity, and let it spread and grow. (8) 
Lord Shiva’s throat is dark because he had gulped the poison that was produced at the 
time of churning of the celestial ocean by the Gods and the demons in search of Amrit, the elixir 
of eternity and bliss. Though Shiva had gulped the poison to prevent it from being spilled over 
and burning this creation, he had however kept it in his throat instead of actually allowing it to 
enter his stomach. The horrible and corroding poison had burnt the throat from the inside, and this 
resulted in its complexion turning black.]
 The Lord (Shiva) whose dark-coloured throat has the same hue as the petals of a dark-
coloured lotus flower, and it resembles the throat of a deer, and the Lord who had 
vanquished Kaamdeo (the God of passions and lust), the demon Tripura, Bhava (the 
mortal world, thereby freeing the creature from its fear), the fire-sacrifice of Daksha-
prajapati, the elephant, the demon Andhakaasur, and Yamraj (the God of Death) 
himself—verily, I worship and adore this Lord (Shiva). (9)
 The Lord (Shiva) who is like the bee that constantly drinks and the ever-increasing 
supply of sweet nectar overflowing from the core of the lotus flower represented by the 
charm and beauty of the daughter of the mountains (i.e. Parvati, Shiva’s divine consort) 
who has no sense of pride and false airs of superiority at all (i.e. Parvati is simple, humble 
and courteous inspite of her being the Mother Goddess of creation), and is the one who 
had destroyed Kaamdeo (the God of passion and lust), the demon Tripura, Bhava (fear of 
the mortal world), the sacrifice of Daksha-Prajapati (because he had become arrogant and 
haughty), the elephant, the demon Andhakaasur and the God of death known as Yam—
verily, I worship and adore the same Lord Shiva. (10)
 Glory to Lord Shiva on whose forehead the fierce fire that burns there iternally is being 
whipped and fanned by the hot breath that emanates with a fierce hissing sound from the 
swaying hood of the mighty serpent that slithers swiftly from side to side on the head of 
the Lord, and who is dancing the fierce ‘Taandav Dance’ (of death and destruction) at a slow pace, with gravity, somberness and intense seriousness of demeanours, to the beat of 
the ‘Mridang’ (a timbrel; a kind of tambourine). (11)
 When will I understand and realise the great spiritual truth of ‘non-duality’ that would 
make me wise enough to grasp the essence (Tattva) of Lord Shiva as being the ‘universal, 
uniform and non-dual Truth’ of creation, as being the Lord who is the Supreme Being 
and the cosmic Consciousness that has been revealed in the form of this creation, that the 
Lord lives in each unit and entity of creation in a uniform manner irrespective of the 
physical form the individual units or entities take, and that there is nothing in creation 
that is not Shiva. In other words, whatever exists is a form of Shiva. 
 Therefore, when will I be able to worship and offer my obeisance to this Supreme 
Lord of creation by seeing him everywhere, in each unit and entity of creation, equally 
and without discrimination? When will I be wise and enlightened enough to see and 
worship my Lord in a stone as well as a soft bedsheet, in a serpent as well as a garland of 
pearls, in a collection of priceless gems and precious stones as well as a pod or ball of 
clay or earth, in a friend as well as in an ememy, in an unattractive blade of reed or grass 
as well as in a charming woman with beautiful eyes that resemble a lotus flower, and a 
benevolent Lord who takes care of his subjects and is easily accessible to them as well as 
an emperor who rules over the vast earth (and therefore is inaccessible to a common man 
and is unconcerned about individual problems). (12)
 When will I be overwhelmed with ecstasy and spiritual bliss as I remain focused on the 
most charming form of Lord Chandrashekhar who has a broad forehead on which the 
crescent moon looks admirable, after I have abandoned all my evil thoughts and 
demeanours while I live in a secluded forested area on the banks of the holy river 
Ganges, with hands held together above my head in a posture of prayer and submission, 
as well as with my eyes full of tears of affection for the Lord and having an intense 
eagerness to have a divine vision of the adorable Lord as I faithfully and constantly 
repeat his holy Mantra ‘Shiva-Shiva’? (13)
 In this way, any person who reads, remembers, repeats and chants this excellent hymn 
regularly on a daily basis remains always pure and holy. He is soon able to obtain Bhakti 
(devotion) for Lord Shiva who is the Guru (moral preceptor and guide) of even the Gods. 
Such a man never confronts adversities and situations that are detrimental for his well-
being, whether spiritual or worldly. Verily this is a fact that having devotion for Lord 
Shiva and constantly remembering the Lord or meditating upon him eliminates all sorts 
of delusions and spiritual miseries of all living beings. (14)

A person who invokes the blessings of Lord Shiva by using this Stotra composed by 
Ravana to worship Lord Shambhu after having completed his daily routine worship 
rituals in the evening pleases the Lord who bestows the worshipper with wealth and 
prosperity symbolized by chariots, elephants, horses etc. (representing all sorts of worldly 
comforts and material well-being comparable to a king’s) that are stable and lasting. (15) 
 Thus ends the Shiva-Taandav Stotra composed by Ravana (the demon king of 
Lanka and one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva). 
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Ajai Kumar Chhawchharia
 Ayodhya (Faizabad, U.P.)
Full address—36-A, Rajghat Colony, Parikrama Marg,
 P.O.—Ayodhya, Pin—224123
 Distt.—Faizabad, U.P. India.