Saturday, May 26, 2018

Ashtakam | Ashtottara Shata Namam | Sahasra Namam

There are many types of lyrical praise of Gods composed by devotees based on the length of those lyrics and the number of names included in those stotras.

When these names are uttered in a lyrical form, they are known as "Stotram". If the same is uttered in a name form, they are known as "Namavali".

Stotram is a praise of God.

Namavali is the worship done by chanting individual names in a row, one after one.

While worshiping God with Namavali, you will be offering flowers or any other worship material like kumkum, turmeric, turmeric-mixed rice, or any leaves or grass that is regarded as a worship material.

But, when you worship with the stotram method, you need not offer those worship materials at each name. You will offer those flowers at one time before doing the worship and you may keep some flowers to be offered at the end of the worship.

Now, let us talk about those types of stotras or naamaavaLi.

Previously, I mentioned about Panchakshari and Ashtakshari forms of worship.

Now, I will tell about Ashtakam, Ashtottaram, and Sahasranamam.


Ashtakam is a combination of eight slokas, stanzas or musical hymns in praise of any God for worship. Normally, each stanza is made up of four lines. But, at times, it can be of two-liners also.

Some popular examples for ashtakam are:
Hari Ashtakam, Shiva Ashtakam, Krishna Ashtakam, Mahalakshmi Ashtakam, Vaidyanatha Ashtakam, etc.

When you do the worship, you can offer flowers at the end of each ashtakam.

Ashtakam is generally concluded with one or more stanzas extra that explain the benefits of reading that ashtakam.

Ashtottara Shata Namam

Ashtottara shata namam is a unique composition style wherein, 108 names of God/Goddess are mentioned for worship. 

It can be either in a stotram form or in mere names format.

When it is sung in a lyrical form, it is known as Ashtottara Shatanama Stotram. 

When the worship is done by pronouncing each name separately, prefixing with "Om" and suffixing with "namaha", it is known as Ashtottara Shata Namavali.

Popular among those ashtottara stotram are, the Krishna Ashtottara Shata Nama Stotram, Laxmi Ashtottara Shata Nama Stotram, Shiva Ashtottara Shata Nama Stotram, Durga Ashtottara Shata Nama Stotram, etc.

Examples for Ashtottara Shata Namavali are: Sri Rama Ashtottara Shatanamavali, Krishna Ashtottara Shatanamavali, Laxmi Ashtottara Shatanamavali, etc.

Thes worships can be done offering 108 flowers, one at each name.

Sahasra Namam

The word "Sahasra" means the number "one thousand". So, sahasra namam refers to the compilation that contains 1000 names of God.

But, one thousand is considered as an incomplete number for any God. So, they add eight more names to complete it. 

So, literally, it becomes 1008 names which can be referred to as "Ashtottara Sahasra Nama Stotram" or "Ashtottara Sahasra Namavali".

These modes of worship reciting the 1008 names are mostly done for special purpose puja or worships. You may offer these worships in your daily routine also if you can afford the time. You may do it weekly once or monthly once. But, mostly, you can find these special worships during festival times, or during celebrating any life-events like celebrating the birthday or naming ceremony, upanayanam, marriage, etc.; or on occasions of starting new constructions, projects, or any major events of life.

Popular Sahasra Nama Stotrams are the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram, Lalitha Sahasra Nama Stotram, etc. 

Sahasra Namavali worship is more popular for worshiping Vishnu, Shiva, Maha Laxmi, Durga, Goddess Lalitha, Gayatri, Saraswati, Ganesha, and others. It is done with 1008 flowers. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Panchakshari and Ashtakshari

You might have noticed while performing some of those Hindu rituals that the priests or pundits refer to Panchakshari Mantra sometimes and to Ashtakshari Mantra at other times.

So, you may like to know the meaning of these two phrases and the difference between these two versions of worshipping.

What is Panchakshari?

It is the combination of two small Sanskrit words: Pancha + Akshara.

Pancha in Sanskrit refers to the number 5.

Akshara refers to a single letter of the language. "Akshari" means that which contains letters.

So, Panchakshari means that which contains five letters.

Panchakshari Mantra is an utterance of a divine rhythmical phrase (consisting of five letters) that is recited to immerse oneself in the meditation and companionship of the Supreme Being.

Example for Panchakshari Mantra

One famous and most popular Panchakshari Mantra is that of Lord Shiva "Om Namashivaya". In this mantra, the panchakshari is "Namashivaya" and "Om" is the prefix to it. This mantra is always recited during the worship of Lord Shiva at all occasions.

What is Ashtakshari?

An "ashtakshari" is a word or phrase comprising eight letters. 

The word "Ashta" refers to the number 8.

So, Ashtakshari means the word or phrase consisting of eight letters.

Ashtakshari Mantra is a mantra or divine utterance that is made up of eight letters for worship or meditation purposes.

Example for Ashtakshari Mantra

The most popular Ashtakshari Mantra recited by the Vaishnava community is "Om Namo Narayanaya". It is spelled as "Om NamO NArAyanAya". 

The eight letters are "om + na + mo + na + ra + ya + na + ya".

This mantra is used for worshipping Lord Vishnu in his various forms.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

108 Names of Lord Rama | Sri Rama Ashtottara

108 Names of Lord Rama describe his supreme powers and virtues. It is known as Ashtottara Shatanamavali because it contains 108 names.

Ashtottara is 8 number after something. It is ashtottara shatanamavali meaning 8 more after 100 names.

The 108 names are to be recited while doing your puja; chanting each name separately and offering a flower to God at each name. If you do not have enough flowers to offer, even then, you can chant these names and offer flowers at gaps of each ten names or so.

It does not matter whether you offer flowers or not. It is your true devotion that counts. You can experience the thrill and joy of chanting these names and enjoy some extreme satisfaction which cannot be expressed in words.

Each name starts with "Om" and ends with "namaha".

"Om" is the underlying blissful sound of the universe that continuously keeps vibrating all through the atmosphere.

The word "namaha" is an expression of your act of showing reverence to God. You can keep both your palms together while saying "namaha" at each name or at intervals. Or, you may simply keep reciting the names and bow to the Lord at the end of all the names.

I am providing the meanings for each name (without giving the meaning for those affixes and suffixes of "Om" and "namaha") in the below-charted Table of names.

Points to Remember While Pronouncing the 108 Names of Rama

  • I used the vowel articles twice to signify the need for prolonging of the stretch of that article like 'a' and 'e'.
  • Double "a" should be stretched softly.
  • Double "e" should be stretched like prolonging the vowel "i" in the word 'in'.
  • Capital "E" is used to signify prolonged stretch for vowel "e" just like when you used 'e' in the middle of the word "where".
  • The letter "d" is to be pronounced just like you pronounce the letter 't' in the word "there".
  • The letter "t" is to be pronounced like the letter "t" in the word "with".
  • The letter "N" or "L" when used in capital letters signify some special type of pronunciation which is very difficult to explain in words. It can be known only when a Hindu pronounces it.

108 Names of Lord Rama - Sri Rama Ashtottara Shatanamavali

Sl. No.
Names to be Recited
Meanings of the Names
Om SriRaamaaya namaha
The provider of Happiness by destroying sins
Om Raamabhadraaya namaha
One who cares and protects
Om Raamachandraaya namaha
The Gentle and Cool as the Moon
Om Shaaswataaya namaha
The Permanent One
Om RaajeevalOchanaaya namaha
Beautiful-eyed One
Om SreematE namaha
The most-wise and Revered One
Om RaajEndraaya namaha
The king of Lords
Om Raghupungavaaya namaha
The scion of Raghu clan or dynasty
Om Jaanakeevallabhaaya namaha
The consort of Janaki (Sita)
Om Jaitraaya namaha
The Victorious One
Om Jitaamitraaya namaha
The Conqueror of enemies
Om Janaardanaaya namaha
The Liberator of people from their miseries
Om Viswaamitrapriyaaya namaha
The Beloved of Viswaamitra sage
Om Daantaaya Namaha
The quality of Serenity
Om SharaNatraaNatatparaaya namaha
One who craves for and protects his devotees
Om Vaalipramadhanaaya namaha
The slayer of monkey king Vali
Om VaangminE namaha
The Wisdom Speaker
Om SatyavaachE namaha
The Speaker of Truth always
Om Satyavikramaaya namaha
One who is Truly Powerful
Om Satyavrataaya namaha
One involved in Truth Penance
Om Vratadharaaya namaha
One Determined to Penance
Om SadaaHanumanaashritaaya namaha
One who is sheltered by Hanuman always
Om KausalEyaaya namaha
The Son of Kausalya
Om KharadhwansinE namaha
The destroyer of demon Khara
Om Viraadhavadhapanditaaya namaha
The One who killed Viradha with wisdom
Om VibheeshaNaparitraatE namaha
One who offers protection to VibheeshaNa
Om HarakOdandakhandanaaya namaha
One who broke the bow of Shiva named ‘HarakOdanda’
Om SaptataaLaprabhEtrE namaha
One who pierced the Seven trees of “Taal” (Palm trees)
Om DashagreevasirOharaaya namaha
The slayer of ten-headed Ravana
Om Jaamadagnyamahaadarpa-daLanaaya namaha
The destroyer of Parasurama’s pride, son of sage Jamadagni
Om Taatakaantakaaya namaha
The destroyer of demon Tataki
Om VEdaantasaaraaya namaha
The Essence of Vedas
Om VEdaatmanE namaha
The Abode of Vedas
Om BhavarOgasyabhEshajaaya namaha
The remover of all earthly diseases and illness
Om DooshaNatrisirOhantrE namaha
One who killed the demons named Dushana and Trisira
Om TrimoortayE namaha
One who has Three Forms
Om TriguNaatmakaaya namaha
The source of Three Qualities
Om Trivikramaaya namaha
The Conqueror of Three Worlds
Om TrilOkaatmanE namaha
The Abode of all three worlds
Om PuNyachaaritrakeertanaaya namaha
The Subject of Hymns sung in praise of his Sanctity
Om TrilOkarakshakaaya namaha
The Protector of Three Worlds
Om DhanvinE namaha
One who carries the Bow
Om DandakaaraNyavartanaaya namaha
One who treaded through DandakaaraNya forest
Om Ahalyaashaapashamanaaya namaha
One who relieved Ahalya from her curse
Om Pitrubhaktaaya namaha
The Worshipper of  His Father
Om Varapradaaya namaha
One who Bestows  Boons
Om JitEndriyaaya namaha
Conqueror of Senses
Om JitakrOdhaaya namaha
Conqueror of Anger
Om Jitamitraaya namaha                (it is ‘Jita + mitra’ not “Jita + amitra” here)
Winner of Friends (differs with the title at 11)
Om JagadguravE namaha
The Teacher of entire Universe
Om RukshavaanarasanghaatinE namaha
The Companion of Monkeys and Bears
Om Chitrakootasamaashrayaaya namaha
One who took shelter at Chitrakoot
Om JayantatraaNavaradaaya namaha
One who saved the life of Jayanta (son of Indra, harmed Sita in the form of a crow)
Om SumitraaputrasEvitaaya namaha
One who is served by Sumitra’s son Lakshmana)
Om SarvadEvaadidEvaaya namaha
One who is the Lord of all Lords
Om Mrutavaanarajeevanaaya namaha
One who blessed the dead monkeys with re-birth
Om MaayaamaareechahantrE namaha
The slayer of fake deer-shaped Maareecha
Om MahaadEvaaya namaha
The Supreme Lord
Om Mahaabhujaaya namaha
The Mighty-Armed
Om SarvadEvastutaaya namaha
One who is praised by all Gods
Om Soumyaaya namaha
The Gentle and Cool One
Om BrhmaNyaaya namaha
One who possesses the supreme qualities of Brahman
Om Munisamstutaaya namaha
One who is praised by all sages
Om MahaayOginE namaha
The Great Yogi
Om MahOdaaraaya namaha
 Extremely Compassionate One
Om SugreevEpsitaraajyadaaya namaha
One who returned the kingdom deserved by Sugriva
Om sarvapuNyaadhikaphalaaya namaha
One who rewards good deeds abundantly
Om Smrutasarvaaghanaashanaaya namaha
One who destroys all sins by simply taking His Name
Om Aadipurushaaya namaha
The First or Primal Being
Om Paramapurushaaya namaha
The Supreme Being
Om Mahaapurushaaya namaha
The Greatest Being
Om PuNyOdayaaya namaha
The Embodiment of Sanctity
Om Dayaasaaraaya namaha
The Essence of Kindness
Om PuraaNapurushOttamaaya namaha
The Best of all Scriptural Heroes
Om Smitavaktraaya namaha
One with a Smiling Mouth or Face
Om MitabhaashiNE namaha
One who talks less
Om ApoorvabhaashiNE namaha
One who talks Uniquely
Om Raaghavaaya namaha
The descendant of Raghu Clan
Om AnantaguNagambheeraaya namaha
One who is Dignified due to His Abundant Virtues
Om DheerOdaattaguNOttamaaya namaha
One who is Excellent in Valor and Kindness
Om Maayaamaanushachaaritraaya namaha
One who incarnated as a Human Being using his illusion
Om MahaadEvaadipoojitaaya namaha
One who is worshiped by Mahadeva or Shiva and others
Om SEtukrutE namaha
One who built the bridge
Om JitavaaraashayE namaha
One who conquered the ocean
Om Sarvateerthamayaaya namaha
One who is embodiment of all sacred places
Om HarayE namaha
Destroyer of all Sins
Om Shyaamaangayaaya namaha
The Dark-Skinned One
Om Sundaraaya namaha
The Beautiful One
Om Sooraaya namaha
The Brave
Om PeetavaasasE namaha
One who wears Yellow Clothes
Om Dhanurdharaaya namaha
One who holds a Bow
Om Sarvayajnaadhipaaya namaha
One who is the presiding deity of all yagna or sacrifices
Om YajvanE namaha
One who is the Yagna Himself
Om JaraamaraNavarjitaaya namaha
One who is free from the cycles of Birth, Old-Age, or Death
Om VibheeshaNaraajyapratishtaatrE namaha
One who established VibheeshaNa on the throne
Om SarvaavaguNavarjitaaya namaha
One who destroyed all bad qualities
Om ParamaatmanE namaha
The Supreme Soul
Om ParasmaibrahmaNE namaha
The Supreme God
Om Sachchidaanandavigrahaaya namaha
The One whose form is made up of true Knowledge and bliss
Om ParasmaijyOtishE namaha
The One with Eternal Radiance
Om ParamdhaamnE namaha
The Supreme Abode
Om Paraakaashaaya namaha
The Supreme Space
Om Paratparaaya namaha
The Greatest of all
Om ParEshaaya namaha
The Supreme Lord
Om Paaragaaya namaha
The Uplifter of helpless
Om Paaraaya namaha
The Ultimate
Om SarvadEvaatmakaaya namaha
One who dwells in all gods
Om Parasmai namaha
The Supreme Being