Stuti” literally means praise and “stotram” is a hymn or song of praise. The scriptures abound with passages sung in praise of the Lord. Sanskrit literature is full of stotrams written by famous saints like Shri Gaudapadacharya, Adi Shankaracharya and others.
We may well ask — is it necessary to praise the Lord? Would He be affected by our praises and does He need them? And lastly, what are the benefits that accrue from singing His glory?
From our experiences of dealing with the empirical world, we are aware of the need for applauding an action well done. It is also incumbent on us to offer our thanks if we have gained or benefited from someone’s actions. If we receive a gold ring from somebody, do we not instantly thank the giver? How is it then, that we forget to thank the giver of the finger, without which we would not be able to enjoy the joy of wearing the ring?
We can argue that the Lord is not affected by our expressions of gratitude or lack of them. He just does what He has to, without expecting any rewards or hoping to have His praises sung. Though He remains unaffected, we are greatly benefited from singing His glories. When we build a house, the walls do not expect us to beautify them; we do it because it brings us pleasure. God is not gratified, pleased or overjoyed by our worship. He is happy that we want to do something to show our appreciation.
Devotees gain on three major fronts when they praise the Lord. Firstly, we become aware of the many blessings we have received from Him. Secondly, we express our gratitude for what we have received. Lastly, we develop respect for His gifts and use them well and efficiently. Swami Chinmayananda said, “What we have is His gift to us and what we do with it is our gift to Him!”
When we praise someone, there is normally an element of exaggeration. This is true when we speak of human beings. But in the case of God, no praise can ever be enough. It is something like saying that the light of the Sun equals the light of billions of glow-worms.
We act in the world after fully understanding the benefits that may accrue from our actions. Similarly, we need to know the reason for singing the Lord’s glories. Singing His glory cleanses the heart, removing from it the accumulated dross and impurity. This is the greatest benefit that we get. Like a mantra, the Lord’s name protects the devotee and purifies his or her mind and heart. In such a clean and sanctified heart, devotion takes birth and through this we are led to the Guru, who eliminates the darkness from us. Through understanding, we are finally liberated.