The Shiva Tandava Stotram was written by Ravana, the greatest devotee of Shiva and a great scholar. Lankesh, the ten-headed king of Lanka and the demons, composed this hymn for singing the glories of Shiva. Its lucidity highlights the intensity of Ravana`s loving devotion for Lord Shiva. Describing his beauty and powerful tandava or the frenzied dance of Shiva at the time of the dissolution of the world, the stotram praises the God for being the ultimate energy.
He is both Rudra the destroyer who is malignant or terrific and Shiva the benefactor who is benign or auspicious.
Ravana, praying to Lord Shiva
Because of the intensity of his prayers and ascetic meditation, of which this hymn is a standing example, Ravana received from Shiva the boon of indestructibility by all the powers inhabiting heaven and earth except a human being.
1st and 2nd Verses of Shri Shiv Tandava Stotram
Jatatavee galjjalapravah pavitasthale
Galeavalambya lamhitan bhujanga tunga malikam |
Chakar Chand tandavam tanotu nah Shivah Shivam ||1||
May the one who has purified his throat region by waters of the Bhagwati Bhagirathi (a title of the river Ganges supposed to have been brought down to earth by King Bhagirath) flowing from the forest of his powerful matted locks, and is wearing garlands of cobras, the longest venomous snakes. May Lord Shankar who did the fearsome tandava while playing the damroo (a small drum having playing surfaces at both ends and its narrow middle part can be held in the hand) give us moksha or release us from the bondage of endless rebirth.
Jatakatah sambhram-bhramanni-limp nirjhari -
Vilol veechi vallari virajman moordhani |
Kishore Chandrashekhare ratih pratikshnan mum||2||
Where the frolicking waves of Bhagwati Janhavee (daughter of Jahnu,a title of river Ganges) are surging on the head of Lord Shankar as they roam in the cauldron of his matted locks and the kindled flames of fire are blazing on his forehead. May my love for such a Lord Shiva whose head is adorned with the crescent moon, be constant every moment.
3rd and 4th Verses of Shri Shiv Tandava Stotram
Dharadharendra nandini vilas bandhu bandhur -
Sphraddigant santati pramidman manse |
Kripakatakchha dhorani Niruddha - durharapadi
Kwachiddigambare manovinodmetu vastuni ||3||
The one who is ecstatic on seeing the flirtatious sidelong glance of Shri Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya, king of the mountains, the one who displays the emotions of a friend and is digambar (the directions are his clothes) or all pervasive, who dispels all the adversities of his devotees by just a compassionate glance. May my mind find happiness in such a Bhootbhavan (an epithet of Shiva, the creator of spirits), Lord Shashidhar (a title of Shiva, wearing the moon)
Jatabhujanga pingalasphuratphanamani prabha -
Kadamba kumkumadrava pralipta digvla dhoomukhe |
Madandhasindhurasphuratva guttariya mdure
Mano Vinodmadbhutam vibhartu bhootabhatari ||4||
May my mind attain great delight in Mahesh who is Bhupati or Lord of the earth. The fluid saffron of the yellow-hued glittering manis or pearls from the hoods of snakes dwelling in the matted locks of Lord Shankar, has coloured the feminine face of Shivji's directions and his body looks supremely majestic on wearing the shining garment made of the skin of an intoxicated elephant.
5th and 6th Verses of Shri Shiv Tandava Stotram
Sahastra lochana prabhritya shesh lekha shekhar -
Prasoondhooli dhorini vidhoosaran ghri peethabhuh: ||
Bhujang raj Malaya Nibadhajat jootakah:
Shriye Chiraya jayatam chakorbandhushekharah: ||5||
May Lord Siva who has the moon (related to the chakor, a type of partridge supposed to live on moonbeams) posited on his head, whose matted hair is tied by coils of Vasuki, the king of serpants, the back of whose feet are covered by grains of pollen (specks of dust) adorning the heads of the thousand-eyed Indra and other gods, bring about our well-being till eternity.
Lalatachatvara jwaladdhanan dhagaddhagaddhaga bha
Nipccta panchasayakam namannilimpanayakam |
Sudhamavookha lekhaya virajman shekharam
Mahakapali sampade shiro jatalmastu nah: ||6||
May Lord Shankar who is also worshipped by Indra, the king of the gods,who shattered the arrogance of Kamdev (the god of love) by sparks of fire from his wide blazing forehead, the one who is endowed with rays of immortality and is radiant with the crescent moon, whose matted locks are bedecked with the Ganges and who is the fiery protector of hell, enrich us with siddhis (supernatural powers) for all times to come.
Karala bhalapattika dhagaddhagaddhagajjwala -
Dhananjayahutikrita- prachanda panch sayake
Dharadharendranadini kushagra chitra patraka -
Prakalpanaikashilpini trilochane ratirmum ||7||
May I constantly love the three-eyed Shiva who sacrificed the very powerful Kamdev (god of love, equipped with five arrows) into the blazing fire raging on the vast surface of his forehead; who is the Lord of Parvati,the daughter of the king of mountains, and has the expertise of drawing accurately detailed pictures.
Naveen meghamandali niruddhadurdharsphur -
Tkuhunisheethini tamah prabandhabaddha kan darah:
Nilipa nirjhari dharastanotu krittasindhurah:
Kalanidhan bandhurah shriyam jagatdhurandharah: ||8||
May Lord Shiva who bears the burden of this entire world and is endowed with the artistic crescent moon,who is adorned with the hide of an elephant, and is carrying the Ganges, the river of the gods, whose neck is darker than the pitch dark midnight of amavasya (the last day of the dark fortnight of a lunar month) due to the newly gathered clouds, make us prosper in every possible way.
9th and 10th Verses of Shri Shiv Tandava Stotram
Praphullancela pankaja prapanch kalimaprabha -
Valambikanlhakandali ruchi prabaddha kandharam |
Smarchhidam purachhidam bhava chhidam makhachidain
Gaja chhidandhakachidam tamant kachidam bhaje ||9||
May I continue to worship the Lord Shiva with shoulders intensely radiant due to the splendour of his neck decked with the darkness of blooming blue lotuses, who is the destroyer of Kamdev (god of love) and Tripurasura (the demons who inhabit Tripura, the triple fortress of anava, karma and maya).
The one who gets rid of worldly sorrows and ruined the yagya or sacrifice of Prajapati Daksha (the father of Dakshayani or Sati,Shiva's first wife), the Lord who killed demon Andhaka (a malevolent demon) and Gajasura(demon Nila who entered the body of an elephant and attacked Shiva) and the one who vanquishes even death.
Akharvasarvamangla kala kadamabamanjari -
Rasapravah madhuri virjrimbhanam dhuvratam |
Smrantakam Purantakam bhavantakam Makhantakam
Gajanta kandha kantakam tamanta kantakam bhaje ||10||
I pray to the amorous Kamari (a tile of Shiva, the divine master of all desires) who can be likened to the capricious black bee relishing the madhurya or sweet love of budding virtuous maidens adept in the sixty-four kalas or arts which are indestructible.
The Tripurari (a title of Shiva, destroyer of Tripura the triple fortress of anava, karma and maya) who keeps a watch on worldly sorrows, ruined the yagya or sacrifice of Daksha, the killer of Gajasura (demon Nila who entered the body of an elephant and attacked Shiva) and who is even the slayer of Andhakasura (a blind demon who lusted after Parvati, Shiva's wife) and Yamaraja, the lord of death.