By Swai Harshananda
Stotra literally means ‘chant of praise’.
Meaning of Stotra
The word stotra is used in two senses:
- The Vedic
- The paurāṇic
Significance oof Stotras
The Vedic stotra is composed of verses taken mainly from the Rgveda. These verses are chanted as per the rules of intonation, especially those of the Sāmaveda. A stotra always precedes a śastra. It may be in any one of the innumerable melodies, and stobhas are added at appropriate places.
Chanting of Stotra
All stotras are chanted or sung by the udgātṛ and his assistants, prastotṛ and pratihartṛ. In Somayāgas, the stotras are spread over all the three savanas. According to the purāṇas and devotional literature, a stotra is a hymn of the outpourings of the heart of a devotee of God. Stava, stuti and nati are the equivalents for the word stotra. Though they may be in any language, either in prose or in poetry, only the Sanskrit hymnal literature will be considered here. They are legion.
Content of Strotra
The subject matter of these stotras ranges from the sublime heights of philosophy or mystical experiences, to the petitioning for the small comforts of life here and now. A few of these are mentioned here:
- Description of the form of God or a deity seen in a vision
- Request for pardon of sins committed knowingly or unknowingly
- Prayer for the removal of problems and difficulties and request for the grant of the good things of life
- Desire for obtaining devotion, knowledge and detachment that help one in spiritual life
- Spontaneous outburst of emotion after deep spiritual experience and so on.
Types of Strotras
Stotras containing 108 names, 300 names or 1008 names of a deity are also commonly met with. They are used mostly in ritual chanting or ceremonial worship. Another type called as Suprabhāta-stotras are also quite common and popular. Tradition prescribes that these stotras can be chanted after meditation or worship.
- Śastra means which is a laud that is just recited.
- Melodies means sāman.
- Suprabhāta-stotras means ‘good-morning hymns’.
Prayers addressed to Rama
Prayers addressed to Shiva
Prayers addressed to mother Goddess
Prayers addressed to Lord Ganesa
Prayers addressed to Lord Subrhamanya
Prayers addressed to Lord Ayyappa
Prayers addressed to Planet Devatas
Prayers addressed to holy rivers
Prayers addressed to Lord Anjaneya
Prayers to other Gods and General prayers
Translation Of Complete Narayaneeyam
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore