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This hymn is by Sage Patanjali, the author and compiler of the famous yogasuutra. Once upon a time, as the story of the origin of the hymn goes, Nandi, Shiva's carrier would not allow Patanjali Muni to have Darshan of the Lord Shiva (Nataraja of Chidambaram). In order to reach Lord Shiva, Patanjali, with his mastery over grammatical forms, spontaneously composed this prayer in praise of the Lord without using any extended (`diirgham') syllable, (without `charaNa' and `shRiNga' i.e. leg and horn) to tease Nandi. Shiva was quickly pleased, gave Darshan to the devotee, and danced to the lilting tune of this song. The place where this incidence is said to have happened is Chidambaram (also known as Thillai), located about a hundred miles from Madras, Tamilnadu, India. It is considered to be one of the holiest places in India. In this temple, which has a gold covered roof, Lord Nataraja is present in a cosmic-dancing form. Many books have been written on the greatness of the temple and its deity and can also be inferred from various hymns composed in praise of the Lord by the Shaiva Siddhanta Saints.
.. atha charaNashRuN^garahita naTaraajastotram.h .. .. अथ चरणशृण्गरहित नटराजस्तोत्रम.ह .. सदञ्चित मुदञ्चित निकुञ्चित पदं झलझलञ्चलित मञ्जु कटकम.ह पतञ्जलि दृगञ्जन मनञ्जन मचञ्चलपदं जनन भञ्जन करम.ह । कदम्बरुचिमम्बरवसं परमम्बुद कदम्ब कविडम्बक कगलम.ह चिदम्बुधि मणिं बुध हृदम्बुज रविं पर चिदम्बर नटं हृदि भज ॥ १॥ Heartily resort to the great dancer Shiva, residing in the holy place, Chidambaram. He is called Hara (the destroyer) who smashed the three cities (of demon tripura). He is worshipped by good people. While dancing he has lifted one foot which is bent. His lovely bracelets are set in motion of dance movements and hence are making a jingling sound. He is like ointment to the eyes of Patanjali by whose application the vision gets clear for receiving knowledge. However, he is free from contamination of any kind. He destroys the cycle of birth (and death). He possesses the loveliness of Kadamba tree; wears the sky as garment . His throat is dark like the multitude of rainy clouds. He is the jewel in the ocean of consciousness. He is the the Sun blossoming the lotus- heart of wise persons. हरं त्रिपुर भञ्जनं अनन्तकृतकण्कणं अखण्डदय मन्तरहितं विरिञ्चिसुरसंहतिपुरन्धर विचिन्तितपदं तरुणचन्द्रमकुटम.ह । परं पद विखण्डितयमं भसित मण्डिततनुं मदनवञ्चन परं चिरन्तनममुं प्रणवसञ्चितनिधिं पर चिदम्बर नटं हृदि भज ॥ २॥ Heartily resort to the great dancer, Shiva, residing in the holy place, Chidambaram. He is the destroyer of the world, who destroys sin and grants emancipation. He has destroyed the three cities of demon tripura, representing the three types of sorrows. He is wearing the great serpent, ananta, like a bracelet. He is incessantly showering compassion and is endless. "God Brahma, Indra and the other devatas meditate upon his feet. The crescent moon adorns his crown." The great one has crushed yama by his feet. His body is decorated with ash. He is inclined to brush aside cupid. His preciousness is saturated in the syllable - AUM. अवन्तमखिलं जगदभण्ग गुणतुण्गममतं धृतविधुं सुरसरित.ह\- तरण्ग निकुरम्ब धृति लम्पट जटं शमनदम्भसुहरं भवहरम.ह । शिवं दशदिगन्तर विजृम्भितकरं करलसन्मृगशिशुं पशुपतिं हरं शशिधनञ्जयपतण्गनयनं परचिदम्बर नटं हृदि भज ॥ ३॥ Heartily resort to the great dancer, Lord Shiva, residing in the holy place, Chidambaram, who protects all the world. His lofty place is due to the indestructible good qualities. It is difficult to grasp his nature. He has held crescent moon in his forehead. His matted hair is covetous of holding the multitude of waves of the divine river, Ganga. He has dispelled the vanity of Yama and is capable of delivering men from the pangs of worldly life. The Lord of creatures, the auspicious God, in whose hand a young deer is dancing, has spread his hands in all ten quarters. The great destroyer has moon, fire and sun as his eyes. अनन्तनवरत्नविलसत्कटककिण्किणिझलं झलझलं झलरवं मुकुन्दविधि हस्तगतमद्दल लयध्वनिधिमिद्धिमित नर्तन पदम.ह । शकुन्तरथ बर्हिरथ नन्दिमुख शृण्गिरिटिभृण्गिगणसण्घनिकटम.ह सनन्दसनक प्रमुख वन्दित पदं परचिदम्बर नटं हृदि भज ॥ ४॥ Heartily resort to the great dancer, Shiva residing in the holy place, Chidambaram. The tiny bells attached to his bracelets which are shining with innumerable gems of nine kinds are making a sweet jingling sound. The dancing movements of his feet are accompanied by the drum in the hands of Mukunda (vishnu) and vidhi (brahma). He is closely surrounded by Vishnu, riding a chariot to which a bird (Garuda) is yoked, by kartikeya, riding a charior to which a peacock is yoked, by a troupe of Gana-s consisting of Srngi, Riti, Bhrngi etc headed by Nandi. Prominent sages like Sananda and Sanaka are saluting his feet. अनन्तमहसं त्रिदशवन्द्य चरणं मुनि हृदन्तर वसन्तममलम.ह कबन्ध वियदिन्द्ववनि गन्धवह वह्निमख बन्धुरविमञ्जु वपुश्हम.ह । अनन्तविभवं त्रिजगन्तर मणिं त्रिनयनं त्रिपुर खण्डन परम.ह सनन्द मुनि वन्दित पदं सकरुणं पर चिदम्बर नटं हृदि भज ॥ ५॥ Heartily resort to the great dancer, Lord Shiva, residing in the holy place called Chidambaram. His lustre is beginningless and endless. His feet are revered by the gods. The pure one who is free from all blemishes resides in the interior of sages hearts. He wields a lovely body made up of the following components - water, sky, moon, earth, wind, fire, sacrificer (atman) and Sun. His riches are infinite; he is the jewel of the three worlds having three eyes, he is incline to smash the three cities of Tripura. The god who takes pity (on the distressed) is saluted by Sage Sananda. अचिन्त्यमलिवृन्द रुचि बन्धुरगलं कुरित कुन्द निकुरम्ब धवलम.ह मुकुन्द सुर वृन्द बल हन्तृ कृत वन्दन लसन्तमहिकुण्डल धरम.ह । अकम्पमनुकम्पित रतिं सुजन मण्गलनिधिं गजहरं पशुपतिम.ह धनञ्जय नुतं प्रणत रञ्जनपरं पर चिदम्बर नटं हृदि भज ॥ ६॥ Heartily resort to the great dancer, Shiva, residing in the holy place, Chidambaram. He is not capable of being understood by the faculty of thinking. His dark colored throat is attractive with its resemblance to the colour of a multitude of bees. His complexion is white like a bunch of blooming Kunda flowers. He wears a glittering appearance when saluted by Vishnu, gods, and Indra, the killer of balasyre. His ear ornament consists of serpent. He is free from fear and hence unmoved. However, he took pity on Rati. He is a reservoir of all auspicious things for good persons. The destroyer of Gajasure is the Lord of creatures, praised by Arjuna. He is inclined to be delightful to persons who bow down to Him. परं सुरवरं पुरहरं पशुपतिं जनित दन्तिमुख श्हण्मुखममुं मृडं कनक पिण्गल जटं सनकपण्कज रविं सुमनसं हिमरुचिम.ह । असण्घमनसं जलधि जन्मकरलं कवलयन्त मतुलं गुणनिधिम.ह सनन्द वरदं शमितमिन्दु वदनं पर चिदम्बर नटं हृदि भज ॥ ७॥ Heartily resort to the great dancer Shiva residing in the holy place Chidambaram. He is the best among gods, destroyer of the three cities for the benefit of the world. That Lord of creatures has given birth to elephant-headed Ganesha for warding off obstacles and to six-faced Kartikeya for leading divine army. The benevolent god has hair that is brownish like gold. He is like Sun who causes the blooming of the lotus in the form of sage Sanaka. Having a mind kind to all, he weilds the lustre of snow. His mind is not attached to anything, even to Parvati. He has swallowed poison arising out of ocean in order to save the world from its adverse effects. He is a store-house of quailities, not comparable to anyone else. He has given boons to sage, Sananda. Having a face which is delightful like the moon, he has attained the blissful state. अजं क्शितिरथं भुजगपुण्गवगुणं कनक शृण्गि धनुश्हं करलसत.ह कुरण्ग पृथु टण्क परशुं रुचिर कुण्कुम रुचिं डमरुकं च दधतमं । मुकुन्द विशिखं नमदवन्ध्य फलदं निगम वृन्द तुरगं निरुपमं सचण्डिकममुं झटिति संहृतपुरं परचिदम्बर नटं हृदि भज ॥ ८॥ Heartily resort to the great dancer, Lord Shiva, who resides in the holy place, Chidambaram, and He is without birth. The earth itself is his chariot. The great serpent, Vasuki is his bowstring. The golden peaked Meru is His bow. In His hands shines a deer, a big sword and an aze. He weilds a damaru (drum) which has the color of lovely kumkuma. Mukunda himself is his arrow. He effectively grants the desire to those who salute him. The multitude of Vedic texts are his horses (or mind). The incomparable God accompanied by Chandika has quickly destroyed the cities of demon tripura. अनण्गपरिपन्थिनमजं क्शिति धुरन्धरमलं करुणयन्तमखिलं ज्वलन्तमनलं दधतमन्तकरिपुं सततमिन्द्रमुखवन्दितपदम.ह । उदञ्चदरविन्दकुल बन्धुशत बिम्बरुचि संहति सुगन्धि वपुश्हं पतञ्जलिनुतं प्रणवपञ्चर शुकंपर चिदम्बर नटं हृदि भज ॥ ९॥ Heartily resort to the great dancer, Lord Shiva, who resides in the holy place, Chidambaram. Birthless, he is an enemy of Cupid. He bears the burden of the earth, He is intensely compassionate to all. The killer of demon Andhaka is capable of holding buring fire. Gods headed by Indra are constantly falling at His feet. He is having a body which has got the lustre of a group of hundred rising suns and is fragrant. He is praised by Patanjali and is like a parrot in the cage of the syllable Omkara. इति स्तवममुं भुजगपुण्गव कृतं प्रतिदिनं पठति यः कृतमुखः सदः प्रभुपद द्वितयदर्शनपदं सुललितं चरण शृण्ग रहितम.ह । सरःप्रभव सम्भव हरित्पति हरिप्रमुख दिव्यनुत शण्करपदं स गच्च्हति परं न तु जनुर्जलनिधिं परमदुःखजनकं दुरितदम.ह ॥ १०॥ Here ends the praise song composed by Patanjali who is an incarnation of the great serpent Shesha. One who learns it by heart and recites it will find a seat in the assembly of Gods. The praise song is charming. The words in it lead to the perception of the the Lord's pair of feet. It flows on, being beginningless and endless (composed of the meter charaNashri.ngarahita). It contains the description of Shankara praised by the divine beings headed by Brahmadeva, Lords of the Quarters and Vishnu. One who recites this hymn,quickly reaches the highest goal and does not steep into the ocean of worldly existence which causes great sorrow and sinfulness. ॥ इति श्रीपतञ्जलिमुनिप्रणीतं चरणशृण्गरहित नटराजस्तोत्रं संपूर्णम.ह ॥