Stotras are Sanskrit hymns or eulogies sung in praise of the divine and the transcendent. Usually associated with the Hindu and Jain traditions, stotras are melodic expressions of devotion and inspiration found in other Sanskrit religious movements as well.
In the Buddhist world, the practice of singing these hymns is still alive today in Nepal. Min Bahadur Shakya, former director of the Nagarjuna Institute of Exact Methods in Lalitpur, Nepal, writes:
“In prosperity or distress, the Nepalese people worship and pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for protection, good health, prosperity, and family welfare and also for liberation from cyclic existence. The stotras or hymns throw light on various aspects of Buddhist doctrines. The stotras are sung by sadhakas during their meditation or act of devotion. The contents of these strotras are of varied nature ranging from simple act of confession, qualities of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, praises of deities of both mundane and supra-mundane [nature], iconographic data of various tantric deities and also explanation of Buddha’s teachings themselves in the form of verses. These stotras can be sung with melodious music and can imprint the devotees significantly even in this modern world through the multimedia device.”
109 Buddhist stotras preserved among the Buddhist manuscripts found in Nepal have been made widely available in Pandey, Janardan Shastri (Ed.): Bauddha Stotra Saṃgraha. Varanasi: Motilal Banarsidass. 1994.
This wonderful publication includes hymns to a wide variety of subjects, includes numerous buddhas, bodhisattvas, dākinīs, and other deities, certain aspects of the Buddha’s teachings, sacred places and the ultimate. We have added to this collection a praise to Sarasvatī stemming from the Hindu tradition. Sarasvatī is the goddess of arts and learning worshipped throughout India and Nepal, by Hindus and Buddhists alike.
We have recorded a small selection of these stotras with the hope that the listener will find inspiration and joy in them.
As with the other projects, the stotras are sung by Prof. Kashinath Nyaupane and the inputted text is published with the permission of Miroj Shakya from the Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon Project.