Shivastotra by Shankara-Acharya
Introduction by Anand Hudli

The term Shiva means ‘auspicious’. The God Shiva is all-auspiciousness. The mantra ‘namah Shivaya’, used to offer salutations to Shiva, is an effective prayer to propitiate Shiva. This mantra appears in many places in Vedic and Puranic literature. For example, the famous Shri Rudra hymn from the Yajur Veda, commonly employed to perform the worship of the Shiva linga, says: namah shivaya cha.

The daridrya dahana stotra of VasishhTha says:
daridryaduhkha-dahanaya namah sivayaSalutations to Shiva who burns up the grief caused by poverty!’
Here poverty does not necessarily mean material poverty; it also means spiritual poverty.
This pancha-akshara (five syllabled) mantra [na-ma-śi-va-ya] is sometimes called the mula mantra or basic mantra of Shiva. Each of the five syllables, na, ma, shi, va, and ya, is held to be so sacred that it represents Shiva even by itself.

The following is the Shiva-pancha-akshara stotra composed by Adi Sankara-Acharya. One may worship the Shiva linga by reciting this stotra and offering bilva leaves.

Shiva-Pancha-Akshara-Stotra

Text 1
नागेन्द्रहाराय त्रिलोचनाय
       भस्माङ्गरागाय महेश्वराय ।
नित्याय शुद्धाय दिगम्बराय
       तस्मै 'न'-काराय
 नमः शिवाय ॥ १॥
nāgendrahārāya trilocanāya
bhasmāṅgarāgāya maheśvarāya |
nityāya śuddhāya digambarāya
tasmai Na-kārāya namaḥ śivāya || 1||
Salutations to Shiva, who wears the King of snakes as a garland, the Three-eyed God, whose body is smeared with ashes, the great Lord, the eternal and pure One, who wears the directions as His garment, and who is represented by the first letter ’na’. (1)


Text 2
मन्दाकिनीसलिलचन्दनचर्चिताय
       नन्दीश्वरप्रमथनाथमहेश्वराय ।
मन्दारपुष्पबहुपुष्पसुपूजिताय
       तस्मै 'म'-काराय
 नमः शिवाय ॥ २॥
mandākini-salilacandana-carcitāya
nandīśvara-pramathanātha- maheśvarāya |
mandārapuṣpa-bahupuṣpa-supūjitāya
tasmai Ma-kārāya namaḥ śivāya || 2||
I bow to Shiva, who has been worshipped with water from the Ganga (Mandakini-River) and anointed with sandalwood paste, the Lord of nandi, the Lord of the host of goblins and ghosts, the great Lord, who is worshiped with mandara and many other kinds of flowers, and who is represented by the syllable ‘ma’. (2)


Text 3
शिवाय गौरीवदनाब्जवृन्द-
       सूर्याय दक्षाध्वरनाशकाय ।
श्रीनीलकण्ठाय वृषध्वजाय
       तस्मै 'शि'-काराय
 नमः शिवाय ॥ ३॥
śivāya gaurīvadanābja-vṛnda-
sūryāya dakṣādhvaranāśakāya |
śrīnīlakaṇṭhāya vṛṣadhvajāya
tasmai śi-kārāya namaḥ śivāya || 3||
Salutations to Shiva, who is all-auspiciousness, Who is the sun that causes the lotus face of Gauri (ParvatI) to blossom, Who is the destroyer of the Yajna of daksha, whose throat is blue (Nilakantha), whose flag bears the emblem of the bull, and who is represented by the syllable ‘si’. (3)

Text 4
वसिष्ठकुम्भोद्भवगौतमार्य-
       मुनीन्द्रदेवार्चितशेखराय
चन्द्रार्कवैश्वानरलोचनाय
       तस्मै 'व'-काराय
 नमः शिवाय ॥ ४॥
vasiṣṭha-kumbhodbhava-gautamārya
munīndra-devārcitaśekharāya |
candrārka-vaiśvānaralocanāya
tasmai Va-kārāya namaḥ śivāya || 4||
Vasishhtha, Agastya, Gautama, and other venerable sages, and Indra and other Gods have worshipped the head of (Shiva's linga). I bow to that Shiva whose three eyes are the moon, sun and fire, and who is represented by the syllable ‘va’. (4)


Text 5
यक्षस्वरूपाय जटाधराय
       पिनाकहस्ताय सनातनाय
दिव्याय देवाय दिगम्बराय
       तस्मै 'य'-काराय
 नमः शिवाय ॥ ५॥
yakṣasvarūpāya jaṭādharāya
pinākahastāya sanātanāya |
divyāya devāya digambarāya
tasmai Ya-kārāya namaḥ śivāya || 5||
Salutations to Shiva, who bears the form of a Yaksha, who has matted hair on His head, Who bears the Pinaka bow in His hand, the Primeval Lord, the brilliant God, who is Digambara (naked), and who is represented by the syllable ‘ya’. (5)


पञ्चाक्षरमिदं पुण्यं यः पठेच्छिवसन्निधौ ।
शिवलोकमवाप्नोति शिवेन स
ह मोदते ॥
pañcākṣaramidaṁ puṇyaṁ yaḥ paṭhecchivasannidhau |
śivalokamavāpnoti śivena saha modate ||

Anyone who recites this sacred five-syllabled mantra,
(namah shivaya) - [om namo shivaya]
attains the abode of Shiva and rejoices there with Shiva.

|| iti śrī śiva pañcākśara stotraṁ sampūrṇaṁ ||
- thus ends the hymn 'śiva pañcākśara stotraṁ' -


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