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. 

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