The Shiva Mahimnah Stotra is very popular among the devotees of Lord Shiva and is
considered one of the best among all Stotras (or Stutis) offered to Lord Shiva.
The legend about the circumstances leading to the composition of this Stotra is
A king named Chitraratha had constructed a nice garden. There were beautiful
flowers in this garden. These flowers were used every day by the king in
worshipping Lord Shiva.
One day a Gandharva (Singer in the court of Indra, the Lord of the Heaven) named
Pushhpadanta being fascinated by the beautiful flowers, began to steal them, as
a consequence of which king Chitraratha could not offer owers to Lord Shiva. He
tried very hard to capture the thief, but in vain, because the Gandharvas have
divine power to remain invisible.
Finally the king spread the Shiva Nirmaalya in his garden. Shiva Nirmaalya
consists of the Bilva leaves, flowers, etc. which have been used in worshipping
Lord Shiva. The Shiva Nirmaalya is considered holy. The thief Pushhpadanta, not
knowing this, walked on the Shiva Nirmaalya, and by that he incurred the wrath
of Lord Shiva and lost the divine power of invisibility.
He then designed a prayer to Lord Shiva for forgiveness. In this prayer he sung
the greatness of the Lord. This very prayer became well known as the `Shiva
Mahimnah Stotra'. Lord Shiva became pleased by this Stotram, and returned
Pushhpadanta's divine powers.
The recital of this stotra is very beneficial, and Shri Ramakrishna, one of the
famous saints of the nineteenth century, went into samadhi just by reciting a
few verses from this hymn.