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Sestet of Offerings to the Supreme Being
by Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B. Bookmark and Share

Shivoham, Shivoham: Shiva I Am

Literature in Hindu society is unique. Religion and spirituality have been the most important subjects and themes right from the times of Ramayana and Mahabharata. There are compositions in Sanskrit, the language of the elite and it is revered as devabhasha. Southern languages, Telugu Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam contributed treasures to devotional literature. Religion, spirituality, and prayer are all closely related. Prayer is a universal category applicable to all religions in all regions and climes. People everywhere strongly believed and still believe that there is a Supreme Being and this being can be propitiated by prayer, an offspring of spirituality, or call it religion, if you will. Prayer comes from faith and devotion. Faith has no relation to social status. But for this, faith could not have been sustained down the ages and the millennia.

In South India we have a number of highly adored devotees who composed lyrics, stotras, keertans, tarangas, ashtapadis and various songs of praise to the divine, all these signifying devotional, poetic thoughts in mystic compositions set to melodious music. These divine beings sang the praises of God, His qualities and accomplishments not only for ennobling themseless but also to attract the ordinary people to celestial sublimity. These compositions are prayers sung by yogis, sadhakas and mahatmas of diverse achievements. Many of the great devotees have been vaageyakaras and in the South we have had the good fortune of their lyrics set to delectable music. Narayana Teertha (Tarangams), Sadashva Brahmendra (Keertans), Kshetrayya (Padams), Tyagaraja (Keertans) Annamayya (Pada kavitas) and Ramadas (Keertans) are devotees that would bless and inspire us to turn the searchlight inwards and have the darshan of the Supreme Being in our own hearts. Some left behind their compositions written and sung in Sanskrit and some like Kshetrayya, Annamayya and Tyagaraja wrote in Telugu.

Prayer is a universal category applicable to all climes and all regions and even the oldest of civilizations knew that there is a Supreme Being and the Being can be propitiated by prayer though there might have been several different other ways too. Prayer comes from Faith and Devotion. Fortunately these are not related to the devotee’s societal status, riches or any other accomplishments. But for this, Faith could not have sustained itself down the millennia. The scriptures in all religions have deified the ravages of time. Sometimes one is struck with the devotion of the poorest of the poor. Religion and faith draw perhaps the unlettered ones more than people of the upper strata.

Nirvanashatkam brings out the eminence of superb intellectuality in Sanskrit devotional compositions. Intellectuality is the trait of the Supreme Being shared by Man’s realized soul. This is a sestet, a composition in six stanzas an asseveration of Paramashiva, the Supreme Being Himself. A rough and ready rendering in English follows a transliterated text part by part. Knowing the meaning of the text adds to the satisfaction of the devotee, who can otherwise just recite the composition out of sheer devotion to the Supreme Being.


mano buddhyahankaara cittaani naaham
na ca shrotra jihve na ca ghraana na netre
na ca vyoma bhoomir na tejo na vaayoo
cidaananda roopah shivoham shivoham

Not I the mind-heart, intellect, ego-sense, or perception; no ears, speech, or nose have I, not I the elements space, earth, light or air, I am the form of Supreme Bliss perceived, ever the pristine, ever auspicious. Shiva I am.

na ca praanasamjno na vai pancha vaayoo
na vaa saptadhaatoo na vaa pancakoshaa
na vaakpaanipaadam na copastapaayoo
cidaananda roopah shivoham shivoham

Not I the vital life-force not I the five winds, not I the seven body materials, not I the five pouches, five organs; I am the form of Supreme Bliss perceived, ever the pristine, ever auspicious. Shiva I am.

(Five winds - pancha vaayus are praana, apaana, vyaana, udaana, samaana in the body.

Five Pouches, (koshas) are annamaya, praaNa maya, manOmaya, vijnaanamaya and anandamaya koshas.

Seven body materials are marrow, bone, fat, flesh, blood, inner skin and outer skin.

Five organs are mouth, hands, legs, genitals and anus.)

na me dvesharaagau na me naiva maatsarya bhaavaah
na dharmo na caartho na kaamo na mokshah
cidaananda roopah shivoham shivoham

No likes, desires or dislikes have I, no greed no miserliness, no arrogance no jealousy: no objectives of life (like those of the holy order, riches, desire or salvation), I am the form of Supreme Bliss perceived, ever the pristine, ever auspicious. Shiva I am

(Four objectives of life are dharma, artha, kaama and moksha. Holy order, riches, desires and salvation)

na punyam na paapam na saukhyam na dukham
na mantro na teertho na yajnaah
aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhoktaa
cidaananda roopah shivoham shivoham

No sin, no merit, no comfort no grief, no incantation, no pilgrimage, no fire ritual for me; no meal, no eater, no eatable for Me, I am the form of Supreme Bliss perceived, ever the pristine, ever auspicious. Shiva I am.

na me mrtyuur nashankaa na mejaati bhedah
pitaa naiva maataa naiva na janmaa
na bandhur na mitram gururnaiva shishya
cidaananda roopah shivoham shivoham

No fear of death, no distinction of species or caste, no father, no mother, no birth for Me, no relations, no friends, no preceptor or disciple for Me, I am the form of Supreme Bliss perceived, ever the pristine, ever auspicious. Shiva I am.

aham nirvikalpo niraakaara roopo
vibhutvamcca sarvatra sarvendriyaanaam
na va bandhanam naiva muktir na bandhah
cidaananda roopah shivoham shivoham

No thought, no form have I; free lord I am of all organs: no attachment no detachment for Me, no bondage and no liberation for Me, I am the form of Supreme Bliss perceived, ever the pristine, ever auspicious. Shiva I am.

This sestet, the unique composition of Adi Sankara, defies all labelling; this is not a prayer, not self-praise either. This is a thunderous declaration of the Supreme Being negating everything; the highest of abstract power and glory which is in no way different from Supreme Bliss.

Stortras in Sakskrit are devotional compositions like hymns. Their main purpose is to offer prayer to the deity. These are uttered in a language that is euphonious, elevated and devout. They reflect deep sincerity and dedication to the godhead. Like hymns they offer worship by high praise. These compositions are by diverse hands in diverse prosodic systems. The Hindu pantheon is by far the most numerous for it is said there are as many as thirty million deities, male and female, animate and inanimate.

The stotras contain elaborate adulatory descriptions of the deity, exhaustive in epithets, words of supplication, lists of the various attributes (gunas), and descriptions of the physical forms (roopa) besides an extensive enumeration of the myriad appellations by which the deity has come to be known.

The greatness of compositions like these lies in the fact that millions of people use these both in temples and their homesteads where usually a small room or even a simple corner is used to worship deities privately. Poojagruh and some images before which lamps are lit is a common sight in every devout home, small or big. Even the poor man’s hut is no exception to this. It is believed that stotras have a power and efficacy similar to mantra, or an incantation.

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More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.
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Comments on this Article

Comment dear friend truth is one as the Supreme One
'Sin is behovely and all shall be well and all manner of things'
This statement of St Juliana of Norwich centuries does not exonerate sin. It only gives a kind of hope for the goodness of mankind.
Sin is punishable and is punished as we can see in the belief of all religions.
More about that, if it is willed by the Divine.
Rama Rao

ramarao vadapalli v.b
03/03/2014 18:35 PM

Comment It is interesting you make the point that people have always believed in a deity, faith being independent of social order. This is a universal truth of the greatest import, since it proves a one-to-one relationship with the deity open to everyone. It also removes all religious discrimination since, whatever the religion, the individual's relationship to God is the same; that religion is merely an outward form that varies from custom to custom. In this respect, believers in God of whatever religion, HIndu, Christian, Muslim et al, can identify with each other in principle, the principle of truth that sustains life; and they meet as brothers, equals before God. The doctrinal dIfference between religious faiths so often the cause of contention through history cannot touch the individual's (within each faith) devotion to God, and should one be swayed from this by religious doctrinal fervour, it is to be rendered blind to the Divine principle of true believers.

03/03/2014 08:26 AM

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