- Stotras (from stu, to praise) are shorter or longer chants in praise of various divinities, gurus, and personages. They have been a timeless feature in all native Indian traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, JAINISM, and SIKHISM. There are stotras of 1,000 verses, such as Vishnu Sahasranama (in praise of Vishnu) and Lalita Sahasranama (in praise of Sri Lalita), that consist of 1,000 verses; many others consist of 108 verses, but verses of almost any length can be found.From very early times Hindus believed that chanting stotras could induce the gods to grant benefits in this world and, if done with sufficient devotion and frequency, lead to liberation from birth and death. By contrast, in JAINISM and early Buddhism stotras could not gain benefit from spiri-tual teachers such as MAHAVIRA or BUDDHA, because such yogis (unlike gods) did not confer grace; sto-tras were merely capable of calming the mind.Further reading: Jan Gonda, Medieval Religious Litera-ture in Sanskrit. Vol. 2, Fascicle 1, History of Indian Liter-ature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977); Nancy Ann Nayar, Poetry as Theology: The Srivaisnava Stotra in the Age of Ramanuja (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1992); Nancy Ann Nayar, trans., Praise-Poems to Visnu and Sri: Sthanakavasi, a Jain monk with mouth covering to practice ahimsa, in Gujarat (Constance A. Jones)The Stotras of Ramanuja’s Immediate Disciples (Bombay: Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute, 1994).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.