Dear All,

Greetings and Namaste. The auspicious month of Margashirsha has two important occasions from the Hindu religion point of view viz. Vaikuntha Ekadashi and Arudra Darshanam, where the former extolling Lord Vishnu and the latter extolling Lord Shiva. In my previous mails, I had shared a few very rare and potent Stutis on Lord Vishnu including the most sacred Yoga Sara Vishnu Stotra from Padma Puranam.

In this mail, I am happy to share three rare hymns on Lord Shiva to mark the occasion of Arudra Darshanam falling on 8th Jan 2012. Arudra Darshanam extols Lord Shiva in the form of Lord Natesha who creates, protects and destroys the universe through his cosmic dance.

1. Sri Natesha Sahasranama Stotram - this is one of the few Sahasranamas on Lord Natesha, but the most important one. The source of this Sahasranam is not known. This Sahasranama was created by Lord Narayana when he did penance on Lord Shiva seeking his blessings and support for the performance of his duty (protection).

2. Sri Shiva Gadyam by Sage Sanatkumara from Shiva Puranam- This is a short prose hymn on Lord Shiva by Sage Sanatkumara from Shiva Puranam. This is followed by a rare Shiva Ashtottaram which I will share in due course separately.

3. Brahmanda Vijaya Shiva Kavacham - Brahma Vaivarta Puranam - this is a short but very potent Shiva Kavacham given to Sage Narada by Lord Narayana. Though this was originally given to Matsya Raja by Sage Durvasa, this appears as part of Lord Parashurama's severe penance on Lord Shiva seeking his boon to provide Astras/Shastras to fulfill his vow to kill 21-generations of Kshatriyas (kings) in revenge for the unjustful killing of his father, Sage Jamadagni. Lord Shiva gives him several Astras/Shastras/ Mantras/Kavachas and this is one of them. One can understand the efficacy of this Kavacham by viewing the short phalashruti.

A few snippets as usual:
1. There seem to be several Sahasranamas on Lord Natesha. I am aware of at least one more titled "Chitsabhesha Sahasranama", which is supposed to be in possession of Dikshitars in Chidambaram and only they are authorized to chant this through initiation. I have been trying to get a copy of this using many of my sources but so far unsuccessful.

2. Sri Radhakrishna Sastrigal of Sri Mahaperiyaval Trust has published two books titled Nataraja Stava Manjari and Nataraja Stuti Mala but both the books are not available in market. I have tried several sources to get these, again, without success. If any of you have these books, I would like to buy or copy.

3. I have read somewhere that there is a very potent "Shiva Tandava Stotram" in Vishnu Puranam but this is not to be found in the print edition. But there is another hymn with the same name attributed to Ravana. I am not sure whether these two are one and the same.

4. I have read some articles connecting Lord Natesha's cosmic dance with the oscillations of sub-atomic particles and origin of matter. To say the least, it goes above my head! But Vedas seem to hint these in many places with one being "a i uN RRilK GYapaTa tarai~n .. " where Maheshvara's shabdas originated the universe, as I have read somewhere.

5. Another interesting and factual observation after going through the original Puranic Texts is that, though we may currently be divided into various religions/sects/faiths such as Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktam, etc. within Hinduism, the puranic texts don't seem to subscribe to or encourage any such narrow visions or interpretations.

In fact, a majority of Vaishnavite Texts are given to mankind by Lord Shiva (including the famous Vaishnavite Agama Narada Pancharatra). In Brahma Vaivarta Puranam, Uttara Khanda, Lord Shiva declares that he is the first and foremost Vaishnavite.

On the other hand, Lord Narayana brings to fore several rare Shiva Stutis including several Shiva Sahasranamas. In fact Mahabharata, which not only contains the famous Vishnu Sahasranama, also contains two Shiva Sahasranamas one of which was given directly to Lord Krishna himself. Even the Vaishnavite manuals of worship like Varaha Puranam and Garuda Puranam contain stutis on Shiva and repeatedly reiterate futility of seeking the difference between the two (in fact trinity).

Lord Venkatesha's Ashtottaram as well as Renganatha Ashtottaram describe Lord Vishnu as the best friend of Lord Shiva (sha~Nkara priya mitrAya namaH). On the other hand, the Dhyana Shloka of Lord Shiva in Shiva Sahasranam mentions Lord Shiva as "vande mukunda priyam". In short, there seems to be no such thing as Shiva/Vishnu rivalry, as far as I have seen in the texts. They seem to have no qualms about praying each other.

On the other hand, the rivalry seems to be more with Shaivites and Vaishnavites (I am an Iyengar and I have experienced this first hand) which does not stop here - it goes further down to sub-sect/mutt level within Vaishnavism and Shaivism. Unfortunate.

Lord Narayana's Upadesha Srimad Bhagavatam, Skanda 4, Chapter 4, Verses 50-54 (as below) is worth remembering :

श्री भगवान् उवाच -
अहं ब्रह्*मा च शर्वश् च जगतः कारणं परम्।
आत्मेश्*वर उपद्रष्*टा स्वयं दृग् अविशेषणः॥ १॥
आत्म मायां समाविश्य सो ऽ हं गुणमयीं द्विज।
सृजन् रक्षन् हरन् विश्*वं दध्रे संज्ञां क्रियोचिताम्॥ २॥
तस्मिन् ब्रह्*मण्य द्वितीये केवले परमात्मनि।
ब्रह्*म रुद्रौ च भूतानि भेदेनाज्ञो ऽ नुपश्यति॥ ३॥
यथा पुमान् न स्वाङ्*गेषु शिरः पाण्यादिषु क्*वचित्।
पारक्य बुद्धिं कुरुते एवं भूतेषु मत् परः॥ ४॥
त्रयाणां एक भावानां यो न पश्यति वै भिदाम्।
सर्व भूतात्मनां ब्रह्*मन् स शान्तिं अधिगच्छति॥ ५॥

May we endeavor to seek the blessings of The Parabrahman, who is manifested in several forms.

With best regards,
K. Muralidharan (Murali)

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