Shiva Tandava Stotram is a stotra (Hindu hymn) that describes the Hindu god Shiva’s power and beauty. It is traditionally attributed to Ravana, the rakshasa King of Lanka and devotee of Shiva. Both the ninth and tenth quatrains of this hymn conclude with lists of Shiva’s epithets as destroyer, even the destroyer of death itself. Alliteration and onomatopoeia create roiling waves of resounding beauty in this example of Hindu devotional poetry.
In the final quatrain of the poem, after tiring of rampaging across the Earth, Ravana asks, “When will I be happy?” Because of the intensity of his prayers and ascetic meditation, of which this hymn was an example, Ravana received from Shiva powers and a celestial sword.
When Ravana was tired of rampaging across the earth, he returned to Shiva to request moksha, release from the bondage of endless rebirth. Lord Shiva replied that he had granted Ravana the boon of indestructibility. Ravana’s poignant cry in the final quatrain of poetry — “When will I be happy?” is echoed by modern man in his quest for earthly fulfillment and ultimate liberation from its bondage.
A compelling and complex personality, Ravana is for many Hindus a legendary hero, a scholar of immense intelligence and the devoted husband of one of traditional five perfect women, Mandodari. Ravana married Maya’s daughter, Mandodari, who was a very beautiful & righteous wife. He had a son by her, named Meghanaada (which means the ‘sound of the clouds’ or the ‘sound of thunder’). Meghanaada defeated Indra, the king of Gods, and earned the title of ‘Indrajit’. Ravana’s great-grandfather was Brahma (God of Ultimate Knowledge). He had advanced knowledge of mathematics, science and Ayurveda.
He was obsessed with his powers and was egoistic, and to display and prove his powers he was about to move Mount Kailash (the abode of Shiva who was his ancestor God). He managed to lift the mountain but Shiva immediately placed it back just by pressing his toe crushing Ravana’s fingers in the process. That is when Ravana sings “Shiva Tandava Stotra” and he was spared and blessed with chandrahas (moon sword by Shiva) considered one of the most powerful weapons in Hindu mythology.