Guru Stotram

The term “stotram” refers to the hymn addressed to a deity with the most common forms being a conversation, a description and a prayer. Keep in mind that an stotram praise certain aspects of the deity being worshiped, said deity of which may be Vishnu, Shiva or Devi. Thus, a guru stotram can be described as a hymn addressed to a deity considered as the ultimate guru of mankind.

Examples include:

• The Guru Gita, which is a dialogue between Lord Shiva and his wife, Parvati. It is part of the Skanda Purana specifically in the Uttarakhand section. In it, Parvati asks Lord Shiva to teach her about the Guru. Shiva then proceeds to describe the principle of Guru, the benefits of repeating the hymn, and the proper worship of the Guru.

• The Shiva Tandava stotram consists of 16 syllables per line in the quatrain; the laghu and guru characters alternate. It describes the immense power and beauty of Shiva with the conclusion listing down the deity’s epithets as the ultimate destroyer even of death. This is arguably the most popular guru stotram partly because of the riveting story involving Ravana receiving the boon of indestructibility from Lord Shiva himself.

• Ram Raksha Stotra is a hymn asking for the protection of Lord Rama. It was written by Budha Kaushika, a saint, during the Vedic period. Its literal meaning is “Protection given by Lord Rama” and it was supposedly sung by Lord Rama himself to Budha Kaushika, the former appearing in a dream to the latter. It consists of 38 stanzas, which are recited in public during religious festivals particularly during the Navaratri.

It must be noted that a guru stotram is not bound by any of the strict rules applied to the ancient Indian scriptures notably the Vedas. You can make up your own hymns of praise to the guru/deity of your choice. The most important thing is that it is sung from the heart and soul.

For example, you can chant the litany of known names and attributes of Lord Shiva. You have now just recited a guru stotram in praise of the Divine and, in the process, elevated your soul.

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Bhajan of Anuradha Paudwal Compared to Songs By Anup Jalota

Take any bhajan of Anuradha Paudwal and compare it to one of the songs by Anup Jalota and you will arrive at a single conclusion – it is no use comparing apples to oranges for the simple reason that these are as different as, well, apples and oranges.

The quality of their voices is different, their style of singing is different, and their personalities are different. It then comes as little surprise that their bhajans sound as different as the male and female gender.

But this we will confidently say – both the bhajan of Anuradha Paudwal and the bhajan of Anup Jalota have their fair share of merits. For one thing, their devotional songs truly praise the Divine in ways that uplifts the soul. Bhajans, after all, are sung to worship Lord Shiva and the other gods in the Hindu pantheon.

For another thing, their bhajans are pleasing to the ears so much so that you can listen to their performance for hours on end. Yes, indeed, the songs of Anup Jalota are widely popular that radio stations, digital record sites and brick-and-mortar record shops stock up on these records. Anup Jalota is, indeed, the Bhajan Samraat or Emperor of Bhajans!

According to Anup Jalota himself, bhajan is his passion in life. He also believes that classical music is the only constant presence in the rapidly changing Indian music industry. He asserts that every music genre in the modern world has a classical base so much so that nothing has really changed in terms of the essence of music especially bhajans.

This may be said of any bhajan of Anuradha Paudwal. The words may change but the essence of the music remains – worship of the Divine.

Anuradha Paudwal continues to sing devotional songs, which are still considered her forte even with her previous reputation as a singer in films. Her career highs included winning the National Film awards and the Filmfare Awards. Her voice continues to enthral audiences even long after she has retired from the movies.

The next time you are tempted to compare a bhajan of Anuradha Paudwal with any of the devotional songs by Anup Jalota, don’t. You will find that each singer provides for a heavenly experience in his or her own right so there’s no sense in making comparisons. Just enjoy their music!

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