Throughout India, Shri Shiva Mahimnah Stotram or “Hymn to the Glory of Shiva” is one of the most well-known and loved Sanskrit poems written in praise of Lord Shiva. The hymn is attributed to Pushpadanta, a legendary gandharva [celestial musician] who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. The legend says that Pushpadanta once unwittingly offended Lord Shiva by accidentally stepping on bilva leaves, which are used for worship of the Lord. To atone for his error he composed and offered this magnificent stotram to Lord Shiva, who was so pleased by it that he instantly forgave any offense Pushpadanta might have caused.
As one might expect from a celestial musician, the verses are composed in Sanskrit poetic meters that lend themselves to being sung in lyrical melodies. Various verses sing Lord Shiva’s praises by referring to well-known stories that illustrate his unrivalled power over all that exists, as well as the boundless compassion and benevolence he shows to his devotees. Other verses are more philosophical, and exult Lord Shiva as the goal of meditation, as the all-pervasive source and sustenance of the Universe, as dwelling beyond the senses and the mind—in short, as the inner Self that is the goal of sadhana.
One such verse says: “Different paths to realization are described by the three Vedas and by the various ancient scriptures of yoga and philosophy. People follow different paths, straight or crooked, considering one best or most appropriate for their temperament, but all paths lead to You, O Lord, just as different rivers flow into the same ocean.” i
By 1967, when Baba Muktananda had established the Siddha Yoga Ashram daily schedule in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, Shri Shiva Mahimnah Stotram was the centerpiece of the daily Evening Chant. Over the years, Gurumayi has often led recitations of Shri Shiva Mahimnah Stotram during her Teachings Visits and in Siddha Yoga Ashrams, and has ensured that Shri Shiva Mahimnah Stotram remains a regularly recited svadhyaya scripture.
Commenting on Shri Shiva Mahimnah Stotram, Gurumayi teaches about the benefits that flow from chanting the Lord’s praises during our practice of svadhyaya. Gurumayi says: “Many times you cannot really experience the Lord in every action. However, when you chant the praises of the Lord, you glimpse His greatness; you have the darshan of the One who resides in your heart.” ii