Shivaratri Songs

As Shivaratri is being celebrated today by millions of people, lets take a look at songs commonly heard at this time.


There are many compositions by different carnatic composers describing the attributes of the god Shiva. Here are some of the trinity’s works – Tyagaraja‘s Naada Tanumanisham in raga Chittaranjani, Shambho Mahadeva and Shiva Shiva Yena Radha in raga Pantuvarali, Raga Sudha Rasa in raga Andholika, Ilalo Pranatharthi in raga Atana and Dikshithar’s Akshaya Linga in raga Shankarabharanam, Shri Matrubhootham in raga Kannada and Shri Vishwanatham Bhajesham Chathurdasa Ragamalika. Purandaradasa’s Shiva Dharushana refers to devotees visiting the Mallikarjuna temple at Srisailam on the day of Shivaratri. Here is a rendition of Shiva Shiva Ena Radha by Bombay Sisters.

Tamil compositions include Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s Irakkam Varamal and Idhuthano Thillai Sthalam in raga Behag and Papanasam Sivan’s Kapali in raga Mohanam and Samagana in raga Hindoilam. To understand more about Gopalakrishna Bharathi and his works click here. Here is Sanjay Subrahmanyan singing Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s Idhuvo Thillai in raga Sindhubhairavi.

In his composition Shiva Dharushana Namagaayitu the Haridasa mystic Purandaradasa in Kannada talks about getting a darshan of Mallikarjuna (Shiva) at Srisailam. It is a rare composition as the composer describes the divine in the form of Shiva and not Hari. For more information on this song read V. Sriram’s article in The Hindu here.




Vachanas are the works of Bhakti mystics such as Basavanna, Akka Mahadevi and Allama Prabhu. The word vachana means that which is spoken. This form of rhythmic compositions or poetry developed in the 12th century and was part of the Lingayat movement. Some of the popular vachanas are Basavanna’s Vachanadalli namamrutha, Ullavaru Shivalaya and Akka Mahadevi’s Prithviya Gelida and Naale Baruvadu Nammagimde Barali. To understand more about Basavanna read here and listen to lovely rendition of his Ullavaru Shivalaya by Amrutha Venkatesh.

One of my favourite songs Bho Shambho Shiva Shambho Swayambo, a composition of Dayananda Saraswathi in ragam Revathi, sung by the stalwart Maharajapuram Santhanam.


On a personal note, every time I visit Varanasi I feel rejuvenated. While on a tour of the BHU campus I was at the Birla mandir when I heard a beautiful bhajan in the raag Bhairagi Bhairav sung by a Hindustani vocalist. It reminded me of the song Mahadeva Shiva Shambho, a carnatic composition of Thanjavur Shankara Iyer based on a similar melodic scale – Revathi. The story and song features in my series A Song A Composer A Memory.

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