Origin of Mahimnastava

Today is Pradosh Vrat, the most auspicious day to worship Lord Shiva and seek the great Lord’s divine blessings. As per the traditional Hindu calendar, this occasion falls on the 13th day (also known as Trayodashi) after both Purnima and Amavasya days. Today let us recollect the story behind the composition of Mahimnastava, a beautiful sloka written by a gandharva called Pushpadanta.

Legend

Pushpadanta was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He was a great poet, scholar and a singer who performed in the court of Indra. Being an ardent devotee of Bholenath, the gandharva conducted pujas in His honor with plenty of different beautiful flowers. One day, Pushpadanta happened to pass by the kingdom of Chitraratha, a great king and devotee of Shiva. He immediately got attracted to the beautiful gardens abutting the kingdom and decided to visit the palace of Chitraratha, which was surrounded by gardens of beautiful flowers. Lost in the beauty of the flowers, the gandharva unknowingly plucked some to worship Lord Shiva. He later realized that he had in fact stolen the flowers but assured himself thinking that he was stealing them to worship Lord Shiva. On coming to know that some person was stealing flowers from his garden, King Chitraratha asked his guards to spread Bilva leaves around the trees thinking that the leaves would rustle and alert the guards as and when the thief steps on them. Pushpadanta, being a Gandharva, was invisible to the guards; but he fell into the trap and stepped on the Bilva leaves. Lord Shiva who adores the Bilva leaves felt uneasy as and when Pushpadanta stepped on them. He immediately decided to teach the gandharva lesson and took away his power of invisibility. The palace guards were now able to see Pushpadanta and immediately arrested him. A dejected gandharva spent his time in prison thinking about Lord Shiva and composed the great Mahimnastava in His honor. On coming to know about Pushpadanta, King Chitraratha released him from prison and the great Lord Shiva, pleased with the Mahimnastava, restored his gandharva powers.

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