Bilwa Ashtakam _ बिल्वाष्टकम्

Bilwa Ashtakam, also spelled Bilwashtakam, Vilvashtakam, or Bilvashtakam, is the asthakam (the eight hymns) addressed to Lord Shiva. Bilwa Ashtakam is a highly powerful Sanskrit Shiva stotra which are chanted while offering Bilwa (Vilva) leaves to Lord Shiva. The Bilwa (aegle marmelos) leaves are one of the main offering to Lord Shiv and by offering Bilva leaves, a devotee can easily please Him.

Chanting Bilwa Ashtakam especially on Maha Shivaratri is considered auspicious.

प्रसिद्ध बिल्वाष्टकम् में बेल-पत्र के गुणों और उसके प्रति शिव के प्रेम का वर्णन किया गया है।

Tridalam Trigunakaaram Trinethram Cha Triyayusham,
Trijanma Papa Samharam Eka Bilwam Shivarpanam _1

त्रिदलं त्रिगुणाकारं त्रिनेत्रं च त्रियायुधम्
त्रिजन्मपाप संहारं एक बिल्वं शिवार्पणम् II1.II

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
Which has three leaves,
Which causes three qualities,
Which are like the three eyes of Shiva,
Which is like the triad of weapons,
And which destroys sins of three births.

Trishakhai Bilwapathraischa Hyachidrai Komalai Shubai,
Shiva Poojam Karishyami, Eka Bilwam Shivarpanam _2

त्रिशाखैः बिल्वपत्रैश्च अच्चिद्रैः कॊमलैः शुभैः
तवपूजां करिष्यामि ऎकबिल्वं शिवार्पणं II2.II

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
Which(Bilwa leaf) has three shoots,
Which do not have holes,
Which are good and pretty,
And worship Lord Shiva.

Aganda Bilwa Pathrena Poojithe Nandikeshware,
Shudhyanthi Sarva Papebhyo, Eka Bilwam Shivarpanam _3

अखण्ड बिल्व पात्रेण पूजिते नन्दिकेश्र्वरे
शुद्ध्यन्ति सर्वपापेभ्यो एक बिल्वं शिवार्पणम्  ॥3.॥

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
For if an uncut leaf is offered,
To his steed the god Nandi,
We get cleaned of all our sins.

Salagrama Shilamekaam Vipranam Jatha Cha Arpayeth,

Soma Yagna Maha Punyam, Eka Bilwam Shivarpanam _4

शालिग्राम शिलामेकां विप्राणां जातु चार्पयेत्
सोमयज्ञ महापुण्यं एक बिल्वं शिवार्पणम्  II4.II

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
For it is equal to, offering a saligrama to a Brahmin,
Or the great blessing got out of performing Soma Yaga,

Dandi Koti Sahasrani Vajapeya Sathani Cha,

Koti Kanya Maha Danam, Eka Bilwam Shivarpanam _5

दन्तिकोटि सहस्राणि वाजपेय शतानि च
कोटि कन्या महादानं एक बिल्वं शिवार्पणम्  II5.II

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
For it is equal to gifting thousand elephants,
Or the performing of hundred fire sacrifices,
Or giving away billions of girls.

Lakshmyasthanutha Uthpannam Mahadevasya Cha Priyam,

Bilwa Vruksham Prayachami, Eka Bilwam Shivarpanam _6

लक्ष्म्या स्तनुत उत्पन्नं महादेवस्य च प्रियम्
बिल्ववृक्षं प्रयच्छामि एक बिल्वं शिवार्पणम्  ॥6.॥

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
For it is equal to giving a tree of Bilwa,
Which was born from the breast of Lakshmi,
And which is very dear to the Lord Shiva.

Darshanam Bilwa Vrukshasya, Sparsanam Papa Nasanam,
Aghora Papa Samharam, Eka Bilwam Shivarpanam _7

दर्शनं बिल्ववृक्षस्य स्पर्शनं पापनाशनम्
अघोरपापसंहारं एक बिल्वं शिवार्पणम्  ॥7.॥

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
As seeing and touching of a tree of Bilwa,
Washes away ones sins and also very great sins.

Moolatho Brahma Roopaya, Madhyatho Vishnu Roopine
Agratha Shiva Roopaya, Eka Bilwam Shivarpanam _8

मूलतो ब्रह्मरूपाय मध्यतो विष्णुरूपिणे
अग्रतः शिवरूपाय एक बिल्वं शिवार्पणम्  ॥8.॥

I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,
As Brahma resides at its bottom,
Lord Vishnu lives in its middle,
And Lord Shiva lives in its tip.

Phalasruti _ Benefits of this Chant

Bilwashtakam Idham Punyaam, Padeth Shiva Sannidhou,
Sarva Papa Nirmuktha Shiva Loka Maapnuyath

बिल्वस्तोत्रमिदं पुण्यं यः पठेश्शिव सन्निधौ |
शिवलोकमवाप्नोति एकबिल्वं शिवार्पणं ॥ 

Reading this holy octet of Bilwa,
In the presence of Lord Shiva,
Would save one from all sins,
And in the end take him to the world of Shiva.

Symbolism of Samudra Manthan

The story represents the spiritual endeavor of a person to achieve self-realisation through concentration of mind, withdrawal of senses, control of desires and practice of austerities and asceticism.

  • The Devas and Asuras represent the positives and negatives respectively of one’s personality. The participation of both the Devas and the Asuras signifies that when one is seeking bliss through spiritual practice, one has to integrate and harmonise both the positive and negative aspects and put both the energies to work for the common goal.
  • The ocean of milk is the mind or the human consciousness. The mind is like an ocean while the thoughts and emotions are the waves in the ocean.
  • Mandhara, the mountain symbolises concentration. The word Mandhara is made up of two words Mana (mind) and Dhara (a single line) which means holding the mind in one line. This is possible only by concentration.
  • Mount Mandhara was upheld by Lord Vishnu as a Kurma (tortoise). The tortoise here symbolises the withdrawal of the senses into oneself (just as a tortoise withdraws its head into its shell) as one practices mental concentration and meditation or contemplation.
  • Vasuki (snake) symbolises desire. Vasuki used in the churning of the ocean denotes that the Devas and the demons held desire (to seek immortality) as a rope and churned the mind with the help of concentration and withdrawal of the senses. Desire, if not controlled will overpower and destroy an individual.
  • The Halahala poison symbolises suffering and pain (counter-reaction of the mind and body) that one undergoes at the beginning of spiritual sadhana (practice). When the mind is subjected to intense concentration, the first thing that comes out of the process is intense suffering and great inner turmoil. These must be resolved otherwise further progress is not possible.
  • Lord Shiva symbolises the ascetic principle. His role in this story as the consumer of poison suggests that one can deal with the early problems of spiritual life by cultivating the qualities of Lord Shiva, namely, courage, initiative, willingness, discipline, simplicity, austerity, detachment, compassion, pure love and asceticism.
  • The various precious objects that come out of the ocean during the churning stand for the psychic or spiritual powers (Siddhis) which one gains as s/he progresses spiritually from stage to stage. The seeker should be careful about these powers as they can hamper her/his progress unless s/he uses them judiciously, not for selfish gains but for others’ welfare. This is the reason why the Gods and demons distributed these objects as they did not want to lose sight of their original aim which was to gain immortality.
  • Dhanvantari (heavenly doctor) symbolises health and signifies that immortality (longevity, to be correct) or spiritual success can be achieved only when the body and the mind are in a perfect state of health.
  • Mohini symbolises delusion of the mind in the form of (or originating from) pride. It is the pride of achievement to which the asuras or the demons succumbed and thus lost sight of their goal. Pride and egoism are the last hurdles one has to overcome in spiritual life before experiencing self-realisation.
  • The Amrit symbolises the ultimate achievement of the goal of self-realization.
  • Lakshmi represents universal enrichment which comes as an automatic by-product of the internal self-realization or Amrita