I have read somewhere that if we are reciting any particular stotra with its viniyoga to achieve some goal in mind, in order for a stotra to work, one must know the meaning of the stotra. Is it true?

  • 1
    While starting the Stotra section of the Brihat Tantrasara (of Agamvagish) the translator mentions something like "Since it is enough to recite the Stotras with correct pronunciations to get benefits of them hence I'm omitting their translations" but I doubt this.
    – Rickross
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 12:27
  • The rules pertaining to Stotra recital are given in this answer (hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/33848/4732) but your concern is not addressed in it.
    – Rickross
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 12:30
  • There are arguments on both sides. Opinions. Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 6:32

2 Answers 2


I don't know if this is what you are looking for, but, in the last two verses of Sāhib Kaul’s Śārikāstrotra:

(17) Having attained the strength of true intelligence through Jñānasvāmin, I know what there is to know and everywhere contemplate my own self. I, Sāhib Kaula, have composed this hymn to the lineage deity Śārikā, which contains the construction of her Mantra.

(18) Whoever chants this rich hymn of praise with perfect devotion, hears it or has it recited, even if he be without mantra, he will, O supreme Goddess, without doubt reap the great fruit of this mantra.

Note that “hymn” is the translation of stotra here.

According to Jürgen Hanneder, the author of the article in which this translation appears:

This final stanza explains the idea behind this work. A person who is not initiated into the recitation of the mantra of Śārikā and may not even know how to decode the mantroddhāra can still benefit from this type of substitute recitation. In this the work is similar in approach to the Sūryastutirahasya of Sāhib Kaul’s contemporary Ratnakaṇṭha, where the Vedic Gāyatrī-mantra is hidden within a hymn addressed to the sun as an acrostichon.

The aim in both cases is apparently to enable persons who lack proper adhikāra—for Vedic mantras, in the case of Ratnakaṇṭha, or Tantric mantras, in the case of Sāhib Kaul—to gain at least some kind of access to these restricted parts of the religion. This technique of “hiding” the actual form of the mantras in a stotra meant for religious recitation is not so much a way to conceal it from the outsider, but a method to enable him or her to use it without breaking religious rules, in other words a method to bypass religious and social restrictions. Theologically the matter is of course complicated, because Ratnakaṇṭha’s stotra actually contains the sounds that make up the Gāyatrī, so in a sense by reciting the stotra one does recite the Gāyatrī. In the case of the Śārikāstava, since only code names are given, one does not utter the sounds that make up the mantra of Śārikā.

Source: Śārikā’s Mantra by Jürgen Hanneder in “Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions” (pp. 349-363)


As per the book Hindu Dharma, hosted by Kamakoti, based on the speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji

According to the Nirukta (one of the six Angas of the Vedas) a Brahmin comes under a curse by chanting the Vedas without knowing their meaning.

Arthur Avalon ( Sir John George Woodroffe) comments in his

Chapter XXVI, Shakti and Shakta

The utterance of a Mantra without knowledge of its meaning or of the Mantra-sādhanā is a mere movement of the lips and nothing more. The Mantra sleeps.

Since stotras are generally a collection of shlokas, and some are also part of Vedas, thus, we may extend the above given opinions to Stotras too.

Therefore, reciting a Stotra without knowing it's meaning might be an futile exercise with little to no benefit. May sometimes even incur sin in case of Vedic Stotras. That's why it's always best to do perform and conduct religious activities as per the direction and under the guidance of a guru.


This excerpt from Shiva Purana seem to suggest that recital of a stotra without its meaning known yields half the fruit, while recital with meaning known yields complete fruit

Chapter 30, Vāyavīya-saṃhitā (2), Shiva Purana

अर्थं तस्यानुसन्धाय पर्वण्यनशनः पठेत् । अष्टाभ्यां वा चतुर्दश्यां फलमर्धं समाप्नुयात् ॥ १०२ ॥

  1. If any one thinks into the hymn, observes fast on the full moon and the new moon days and recites it on those days or on the eighth or fourteenth day, he shall derive half the benefit.

यस्त्वर्थमनुसंधाय पर्वादिषु तथा व्रती । मासमेकं जपेत्स्तोत्रं स कृत्स्नं फलमाप्नुयात् ॥ १०३ ॥

  1. He who thinks over the meaning, observes rites on Parvan and other days and performs the Japa of this stotra for a month derives full benefit.

English Translation by J.L Shastri

  • 5
    OP asks about Stotra not Mantra. Your answer talks about mantras not stotras. They are completely different.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 16:50

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