Lord Shiva Sahasranama Stotra
Lord Shiva is one of the most popular deities of the Hindu religion. He has over a million followers worldwide, though most of his worshippers live in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
As one of the most important and well known deities of Hinduism, Lord Shiva has many hymns and chants to his name. In fact one of the most famous hymns that is chanted to evoke Lord Shiva is the Lord Shiva Sahasranama Stotra. The Sahasranama is a devotional hymn, also known as stotra’s in Sanskrit, which lists the many names of the deity who is being invoked, in this case it is meant to invoke Lord Shiva, hence the name Lord Shiva Sahasranama a list of a thousand names of Lord Shiva. There are at least eight different versions of the Lord Shiva Sahasranama Stotra in the Mahabharata, Linga Purana, Lord Lord Shiva Purana, Vayu Purana, Brahmanda Purana and the Mahābhāgavata Upapurana. The word Sahasranama means a thousand names. Sahasra is the Sanskrit word for one thousand and nama, the Sanskrit word for names.
In the Mahabharata, the version of the Lord Shiva Sahasranama Stotra that appears in Book 13 is said to be the main hymn that is used by Shaivites and those who follow the Hindu traditions and rituals. In this version, it is Lord Krishna who recites the 1008 names of Lord Shiva to Yudhisthira. The chapter begins with Yudhisthira asking Bhishma about the thousand names of Lord Shiva when Bhishma proclaims his ignorance, it is Krishna who recites the names.
The Sahasranama Stotra is a very unique hymn. This stotra has appeared over and over in many different variations in various different sacred ancient texts of the Hindus. The fact that this hymn can be found in so many different texts covering a vast period of time only lends to the idea that Lord Shiva is and has always been a very popular deity. In fact, an in-depth study of the various ancient texts shows that Shaivism was a widespread and influential form of Hinduism before the beginning of the Islamic Era and the Vaishnavite movements. These texts can be found interspersed in at least eighteen different Hindu books of wisdom including the Mahabharata, Linga Purana, Shiva Purana, Vayu Purana, Brahmanda Purana and the Mahābhāgavata Upapurana.
Besides the Sahasranama Stotra, there are a few other stotras that are popular amongst the devotees of Lord Shiva. There is the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, the Shiva Mahimna Stotra and the Shiva Panchaksara Stotra.