Stotra or Stotram (stotra) is a Sanskrit word, that means “ode, eulogy or a hymn of praise”. It is a literary genre of Indian texts designed to be melodically sung, in contrast to shastras which are composed to be recited.
A stotra can be a prayer, a description, or a conversation, but always with a poetic structure. It may be a simple poem expressing praise and personal devotion to a deity for example, or poems with embedded spiritual and philosophical doctrines.
Many stotra hymns praise aspects of the divine, such as Devi, Siva, or Vishnu. Relating to word “stuti“, coming from the same verb, stu (to praise), and basically both mean “praise”. Notable stotra are Shiva Tandava Stotram in praise of Shiva and Ram Raksha Stotra a prayer for protection to Lord Rama. Stotras are a type of popular devotional literature.
The nama-stotra is based on chanting a litany of names for a deity. The Sahasranama, a type of nama-stotra, is a litany of a thousand names for a particular deity. Sahasranama means “1000 names”; Sahasra means 1000 and nama means names. For example, Vishnu Sahasranama means 1000 names of Vishnu. Other nama-stotras may include 100 or 108 epithets of the deity. According to Hinduism, the names of God are valuable tools for devotion.
The subject matter of these stotras ranges from the sublime heights of philosophy or mystical experiences, to the petitioning for the small comforts of life here and now. A few of these are mentioned here:
- Description of the form of God or a deity seen in a vision
- Request for pardon of sins committed knowingly or unknowingly
- Prayer for the removal of problems and difficulties and request for the grant of the good things of life
- Desire for obtaining devotion, knowledge and detachment that help one in spiritual life
- Spontaneous outburst of emotion after deep spiritual experience and so on.
Collection Of Stuti and stotram