Hinduism Hymns & Stotras

Gajendra Moksha Stotra

“Gajendra Moksha” a prayer, addressed to Lord Vishnu by Gajendra, the King Elephant, is one of the most  magnificent hymns of bhakti from the Bhagavat Mahapuran, embellished with the jnana and vairagya of the Upanishads. It is a legend from the 8th Skandha of Srimad Bhagavatam where Lord Vishnu comes down to earth to protect  Gajendra (King Elephant) from the clutches of death of a Crocodile. The story runs  as follows.

In one of the secluded valleys of  Mount Trikota, which was surrounded by the Ocean of Milk and intersected by  lakes and rivers of various sizes and shapes, there was a beautiful garden which belonged to Varuna, the Lord of the oceans.

Once a family of elephants, which inhabited the forest on the mountain, entered the garden led by their mammoth chief, Gajendra, and made it to a big lake in it to drink water and cool themselves. As soon as Gajendra dipped his feet in the lake, a crocodile  clutched at one of his feet and started dragging him into the water. The cow-elephant  and other fellow elephants seeing their leader in distress pulled Gajendra forcibly but they were unable to extricate him.

The long fierce tug-of-war left  the unfortunate victim exhausted in body and spirit. When all hope of rescue faded  away and death was staring at his face, Gajendra turned his thoughts to the Lord and recalled to his mind a hymn which he had learnt in his previous life  as virtuous Pandya King which he had forgotten in his present animal body.

He recalled that hymn now with great feeling, praising the Lord for his many mercies and ended with a prayer to Him to listen to his cry of distress and save him.


[Skandha 8 Chapter 3]

श्रीगजेन्द्र उवाच ||
shri-ganjendra uvacha

Gajendra said:

ओं नमो भगवते तस्मै यत एतच्चिदात्मकम
पुरुषायादिबीजाय परेशायाभिधीमहि ||
यस्मिन्निदं यतश्चेदं येनेदं य इदं स्वयम
योऽस्मात्परस्माच्च परस्तं प्रपद्ये स्वयम्भुवम ||

om namo bhagavate tasmai yata  etac chid-atmakam
purushayadi-bijaya pareshayabhidhimahi  -2
yasminn idam yatash chedam yenedam  ya idam svayam
 yo ‘smat parasmach cha paras tam  prapadye svayambhuvam -3

I salute the Supreme, Omnipotent  Lord, who is denoted by the mystical syllable OM,
who forms the bodies asprakriti,  and dwells in them as purusha,
the Self-efficient Lord, from whom this  universe emanates, and in whom it lives,
who is verily the universe itself, yet  beyond it as its unmanifest cause.

यः स्वात्मनीदं निजमाययार्पितं क्वचिद्विभातं क्व च तत्तिरोहितम
अविद्धदृक्साक्ष्युभयं तदीक्षते स आत्ममूलोऽवतु मां परात्परः ||

yah svatmanidam  nija-mayayarpitam kvachid vibhatam kva cha tat tirohitam
aviddha-drik sakshy ubhayam  tad ikshate sa atma-mula ‘vatu mam parat-paraha – 4

He is the unimpeded Awareness and  the Witness of all, who by his own Maya (power) has established in Himself this  universe,
which is seen in its manifested condition and not-seen in its causal  state by others,
but is witnessed by Himself in both these conditions. He is  the Self-conscious awareness, from whom all other centers of self-conscious  awareness (Jivas) arise.
I seek refuge  in that Being, transcending all the highest human conceptions of Him.

कालेन पञ्चत्वमितेषु कृत्स्नशो लोकेषु पालेषु च सर्वहेतुषु
तमस्तदासीद्गहनं गभीरं यस्तस्य पारेऽभिविराजते विभुः ||

kalena pancatvam iteshu  kritsnasho lokeshu paleshu cha sarva-hetushu
tamas tadasid gahanam gabhiram  yas tasya pare ‘bhivirajate vibhuhu – 5

When all the worlds and their illuminaries and protectors like Brahma had been dissolved or reduced to their primeval state by the power of Time and only the fathomless darkness or ignorance in the shape of the Unmanifest  prevailed, at that time He, the Supreme Light of Consciousness shone undimmed over such  darkness.

न यस्य देवा ऋषयः पदं विदुर्जन्तुः पुनः कोऽर्हति गन्तुमीरितुम
यथा नटस्याकृतिभिर्विचेष्टतो दुरत्ययानुक्रमणः स मावतु ||

na yasya deva rishayah padam  vidur jantuh punah ko ‘rhati gantum iritum
yatha natasyakritibhir  vicheshtato duratyayanukramanah sa mavatu – 6

The spectators in a drama do not  understand the identity of an actor because of his make up and diverse actions  on the stage.
So too, the Gods and the Sages do not comprehend Him, The Lord,  who is disguised in His own Yoga Maya.
How then an ordinary person, much less an animal like me, can understand or describe anything about His inscrutable  ways?
May that Lord, whom none knows, in truth and in reality, protect me!

दिदृक्षवो यस्य पदं सुमङ्गलं विमुक्तसङ्गा मुनयः सुसाधवः
चरन्त्यलोकव्रतमव्रणं वने भूतात्मभूताः सुहृदः स मे गतिः ||

didrikshavo yasya padam  sumangalam vimukta-sanga munayah susadhavaha
charanty aloka-vratam avranam  vane bhutatma-bhutah suhridah sa me gatihi. – 7

Let that Lord be my refuge, whom  the sages, giving up all attachments for worldly attractions,
wandering in the  forests and performing incessant penances, search for.

न विद्यते यस्य च जन्म कर्म वा न नामरूपे गुणदोष एव वा
तथापि लोकाप्ययसम्भवाय यः स्वमायया तान्यनुकालमृच्छति ||

na vidyate yasya cha janma  karma va na nama-rupe guna-dosha eva va
tathapi lokapyaya-sambhavaya  yaha sva-mayaya tany anukalam ricchati – 8

He who has neither birth nor  actions to perform, neither name and form nor is subject to the Gunas of  Prakriti,
and yet assumes all these  through His inherent power of Maya from time to time for the creation,
preservation  and dissolution of the universe – to that Supreme Being, I bow down !

तस्मै नमः परेशाय ब्रह्मणेऽनन्तशक्तये
अरूपायोरुरूपाय नम आश्चर्यकर्मणे ||

tasmai namah pareshaya brahmane  ‘nanta-shaktaye
arupayoru-rupaya nama  ashcarya-karmane – 9

To Him, the Brahman, the  formless, who, yet assumes infinite forms and performs amazing deeds,
to that  Supreme Being, I bow down!

नम आत्मप्रदीपाय साक्षिणे परमात्मने
नमो गिरां विदूराय मनसश्चेतसामपि ||

nama atma-pradipaya sakshine  paramatmane
namo giram viduraya manasash  chetasam api.-10

I bow down to the Lord who cannot  be reached by speech or by the mind
or by diverse mental faculties and who remaining as a witness to all phenomena of the world, illumines it!

सत्त्वेन प्रतिलभ्याय नैष्कर्म्येण विपश्चिता
नमः कैवल्यनाथाय निर्वाणसुखसंविदे ||

sattveno pratilabhyaya naishkarmyena  vipashcita
namah kaivalya-nathaya nirvana-sukha-samvide  -11

I bow down to the Lord who is  attainable by a wise man through purity of mind,
to the Lord who is the bestower  of final beatitude, who is Wisdom and Bliss.

नमः शान्ताय घोराय मूढाय गुणधर्मिणे
निर्विशेषाय साम्याय नमो ज्ञानघनाय च ||

namah shantaya ghoraya mudhaya  guna-dharmine
nirvisheshaya samyaya namo  jnana-ghanaya cha -12    

I bow down to the Lord who  through assumption of three Gunas appears as calm and peaceful (due to absence  of desire, greed, and anger),
who is terrible (on account of destroying the  wicked),
who is devoid of all distinctions, who is without any modifications,
remains same always and in all places and who is wisdom crystallized.

क्षेत्रज्ञाय नमस्तुभ्यं सर्वाध्यक्षाय साक्षिणे
पुरुषायात्ममूलाय मूलप्रकृतये नमः ||

ksetra-jnaya namas tubhyam sarvadhyakshaya  sakshine
purushayatma-mulaya mula-prakritaye  namaha – 13

I bow down to the Lord who is the  Knower of the field (body),
who is presiding over and witnessing everything,
who is the source of spirit and matter ( atman and prakriti)
and who is the  Original Being (Mula Prakriti).

सर्वेन्द्रियगुणद्रष्ट्रे सर्वप्रत्ययहेतवे
असता च्छाययोक्ताय सदाभासाय ते नमः ||

sarvendriya-guna-drashtre sarva-pratyaya-hetave
asata cchayayoktaya sad-abhasaya  te namaha -14

I bow down to the Lord, who is  the perceiver of all organs of perception and their objects,
who makes all the  concepts and precepts possible,
whose true nature is made known by bestowing  consciousness to the ego (I-sense)
just as the   substance  behind a shadow.

नमो नमस्तेऽखिलकारणाय निष्कारणायाद्भुतकारणाय
सर्वागमाम्नायमहार्णवाय नमोऽपवर्गाय परायणाय ||

namo namas te‘khila-karanaya nishkaranayadbhuta-karanaya
sarvagamamnaya-maharnavaya namo‘pavargaya  parayanaya -15

You are the cause of all the  causes, but you yourself are not the effect of any cause.
You are the wonderful  cause because the ordinary causes undergo change when they become the effects,
but you produce the world without undergoing any change.
You are the scriptures  and you are the ocean into which all the scriptures flow.
You are the bliss of  salvation and the refuge of great souls. I bow down to you.

गुणारणिच्छन्नचिदुष्मपाय तत्क्षोभविस्फूर्जितमानसाय
नैष्कर्म्यभावेन विवर्जितागम स्वयंप्रकाशाय नमस्करोमि ||

gunarani-cchanna-chid-ushmapaya  tat-kshobha-visphurjita-manasaya
naishkarmya-bhavena vivarjitagama  svayam-prakashaya namas karomi -16

I bow down to you, who are the  spiritual fire of consciousness which remains hidden in the fire-wood of  prakriti’s gunas.
When the equilibrium of gunas is disturbed, there arises in  you the will to create.
You shine by your own luster in the minds of those who having given up the scriptures and actions
prescribed in them and keep  themselves engaged in your contemplation.

मादृक्प्रपन्नपशुपाशविमोक्षणाय मुक्ताय भूरिकरुणाय नमोऽलयाय
स्वांशेन सर्वतनुभृन्मनसि प्रतीत प्रत्यग्दृशे भगवते बृहते नमस्ते ||

madrik  prapanna-pashu-pashu-vimokshanaya muktaya bhuri-karunaya namo‘layaya
svamshena sarva-tanu-bhrin-manasi  pratita-pratyag-drishe bhagavatebrihate namaste17

I bow down to you who bless ignorant creatures like me by severing our binding fetters of ignorance;
who  are ever free yourself and ever- watchful in bestowing your mercy
to save the  devotees and who by an atom of yourself shine in all embodied beings
as  individualized self-consciousness without any mutilation to yourself as the  Absolute Being and the Absolute Will.

आत्मात्मजाप्तगृहवित्तजनेषु सक्तैर्दुष्प्रापणाय गुणसङ्गविवर्जिताय
मुक्तात्मभिः स्वहृदये परिभाविताय ज्ञानात्मने भगवते नम ईश्वराय ||

atmatma-japti-griha-vitta-janeshu  saktair dushprapanaya guna-sanga-vivarjitaya
muktatmabhih sva-hridaya  paribhavitaya jnanatmane bhagavate nama ishvaraya -18

I bow down to you who are the  embodiment of Pure consciousness and the Lord of all who,
though indweller of  all, are difficult to approach by those who are attached to their own body,
to  relations like wife, children, kith and kin, and to possessions like property  wealth etc.
You are beyond the gunas of prakriti though functioning through  them and
who are immediately perceived in the cavity of their hearts by those who  are free from ignorance.

यं धर्मकामार्थविमुक्तिकामा भजन्त इष्टां गतिमाप्नुवन्ति
किं चाशिषो रात्यपि देहमव्ययं करोतु मेऽदभ्रदयो विमोक्षणम ||

yam  dharma-kamartha-vimukti-kama bhajanta ishtam gatim apnuvanti
kim chashisho raty api deham  avyayam karotu me‘dabhra-dayo vimokshanam – 19

O Lord! You gave Dharma, Artha,  Kama and Moksha to those who seek them from you and even bestow them with final Bliss.
You, who are so merciful, may be pleased to liberate me from the grip of  the crocodile and also from the cycle of births and deaths.

एकान्तिनो यस्य न कञ्चनार्थं वाञ्छन्ति ये वै भगवत्प्रपन्नाः
अत्यद्भुतं तच्चरितं सुमङ्गलं गायन्त आनन्दसमुद्रमग्नाः ||

ekantino yasya na  kanchanartham vanchanti ye vai bhagavat-prapannaha
aty-adbhutam tach-charitam  sumangalam gayanta ananda-samudra-magnaha – 20

Your devotees who take refuge in  you do not ask for anything except you.
They are immersed in the ocean of bliss  by singing your glories and wonderful stories.

तमक्षरं ब्रह्म परं परेशमव्यक्तमाध्यात्मिकयोगगम्यम
अतीन्द्रियं सूक्ष्ममिवातिदूरमनन्तमाद्यं परिपूर्णमीडे ||

tam aksharam brahma param  paresham avyaktam adhyatmika-yoga-gamyam
atindriyam sukshmam ivatiduram  anantam adyam paripurnam ide – 21

I glorify that Imperishable Being, the Brahman, the overlord of Brahma and others,
the one who is not  perceivable by the senses and the mind,
the Being who is attainable only by  meditation, the Being who is subtle and infinite,
the one though closest to all but appears to be far to the ignorant,
the one who is ancient, without  beginning or end and who is fully perfect.

यस्य ब्रह्मादयो देवा वेदा लोकाश्चराचराः
नामरूपविभेदेन फल्ग्व्या च कलया कृताः ||

yasya bramadayo deva veda  lokash characharaha
nama-rupa-vibhedena phalgvya  cha kalaya kritaha – 22

Brahma and the other gods, the  Vedas, living and non-living beings
with varied names and forms are all made  out of a small part of the Supreme Being.

यथार्चिषोऽग्नेः सवितुर्गभस्तयो निर्यान्ति संयान्त्यसकृत्स्वरोचिषः
तथा यतोऽयं गुणसम्प्रवाहो बुद्धिर्मनः खानि शरीरसर्गाः ||

yatharchisho‘gneh savitur  gabhastayo niryanti samyanty asakrit sva-rochishaha
tatha yato‘yam guna-sampravaho  buddhir manah khani sharira-sargaha – 23

As the sparks of a fire or the  shining rays of the sun emanate  from their source
and merge into it again and again, the mind, the  intelligence,  the senses,
the gross and  subtle material bodies, and the continuous  transformations
of the different modes of nature all emanate from the  Lord and  again merge into Him.

स वै न देवासुरमर्त्यतिर्यङ्न स्त्री न षण्ढो न पुमान्न जन्तुः
नायं गुणः कर्म न सन्न चासन्निषेधशेषो जयतादशेषः ||

sa vai na  devasura-martya-tiryan na stri na sandho na puman na jantuhu
nayam gunah karma na san na  casan nishedha-shesho jayatad ashesaha – 24

That Lord is certainly not a Deva or Asura or a human being or a beast or a male or a female or of neuter gender.
He is neither an attribute nor an action, neither cause nor effect, neither a  being (sat) nor a non-being (asat)
He is what remains after  everything has been negated (neti, neti) and constitutes all.
May all  glories go to Him!

जिजीविषे नाहमिहामुया किमन्तर्बहिश्चावृतयेभयोन्या
इच्छामि कालेन न यस्य विप्लवस्तस्यात्मलोकावरणस्य मोक्षम ||

  jijivishe naham ihamuya kim antar  bahish chavritayebha-yonya
icchami kalena na yasya  viplavas tasyatma-lokavaranasya moksha – 25

I have no desire to live on in  this world.
Of what use is life in this elephant body wherein veils of  ignorance hide the spiritual vision both from within and without?
It is not from the crocodile threatening my life that I pray for release, but from this obstructive screen of ignorance  hiding the awareness of my spiritual self
– an unhelpful veil that Time cannot  undo but only illumination can.
For, Time will put an end to the physical body  but not to ignorance which persists till your grace removes it.

सोऽहं विश्वसृजं विश्वमविश्वं विश्ववेदसम
विश्वात्मानमजं ब्रह्म प्रणतोऽस्मि परं पदम ||

so‘ham vishva-srijam vishvam avishvan  vishva-vedasam
vishvatmanam ajam brahma pranato‘smi  param padam – 26

Now, fully desiring release from  material life, I bow down to Him, who is the creator of the universe,
who is Himself the form of the universe and who is nonetheless transcendental to this cosmic manifestation for whom the world is a toy,
an object of sport, who is  the soul of the universe, who is unborn, all pervading and the Supreme Being, Brahman.

योगरन्धितकर्माणो हृदि योगविभाविते
योगिनो यं प्रपश्यन्ति योगेशं तं नतोऽस्म्यहम ||

yoga-randhita-karmano hridi  yoga-vibhavite
yogino yam prapashyanti yogesham  tam nato‘smy aham – 27

I bow down to that Lord of Yoga,
who is seen in the core of the heart by the yogis who have purified and freed themselves
from the agitations of past karma by practicing bhakti.

नमो नमस्तुभ्यमसह्यवेग शक्तित्रयायाखिलधीगुणाय
प्रपन्नपालाय दुरन्तशक्तये कदिन्द्रियाणामनवाप्यवर्त्मने ||

namo namas tubhyam  asahya-vega- shakti-trayayakhila-dhi-gunaya
prapanna-palaya  duranta-shaktaye kad-indriyanam anavapya-vartmane – 28

You have formidable strength. The  force of your three kinds of energy – sattva, rajas and tamas, is irresistible.
You are the protector of those who take refuge in you.
You manifest yourself as  the objects of the senses. You are unapproachable by those who are unable to  control their senses.
I bow down to you again and again.

नायं वेद स्वमात्मानं यच्छक्त्याहंधिया हतम
तं दुरत्ययमाहात्म्यं भगवन्तमितोऽस्म्यहम ||

nayam veda svam atmanam yach-chaktyaham-dhiya  hatam
tam duratyaya-mahatmyam bhagavantam  ito‘smy aham – 29

I offer my respectful obeisance  to that Supreme Being,
whose Yoga Maya creates the ego-sense which hides the real Self
from all in the world and whose glory and power are endless.

श्रीशुक उवाच ||

Salvation of Gajendra:

When the King Elephant, Gajendra,  thus invoked the DIVINE, it was Sri Hari who came to the scene. Seeing Sri Hari on His vehicle Garuda, with discus in hand, the elephant plucked a lotus flower with his trunk, lifted it up and said “Narayana, Preceptor of all, Bhagavan, You, endowed with all powers and excellence, I bow down to you.”.

Alighting from Garuda, Bhagavan  dragged the elephant out of water and killed the crocodile with the discus.  (8.3.30-33)

Gajendra, in his previous life was a great devotee of Sri Hari called Indradyumna who was also a great king. One day, when Indradyumna was busy with his austerities, the great Sage Agastya, came to visit the king.  Indradyumna did  not notice the sage. This enraged Agastya who cursed the king to become an  elephant in his next birth. Indradyumna was soon born as an elephant. But as a  result of his worship of Sri Hari, he had his memory restored at the last  moment of his current life which enabled him to pray Sri Hari to get himself  released from the clutches of the crocodile.

The crocodile, who was none but a  leading Gandharva by name HuHu, turned into that form under the curse of a  sage, now attained freedom from the curse by the Lord’s touch and became a beautiful Gandharva. He sang in praise of the Lord, who freed him from all the  sins.

Thus was the King Elephant  released and given a place among the Lord’s attendants. Sri Hari told the King:  “Whoever glorifies me early in the morning everyday, with this Stotra which you  sang, will be freed from all sins and I will grant them a pure understanding  before the end of their lives.” With these words Mahavishnu, the Prime Mover of  all the senses, sounded His divine conch and ascended His Garuda vehicle to  depart. The salient point to note in the whole hymn is the following appeal of  Gajendra to The Lord. “I am not asking you to save me from the clutches of the  crocodile, or that I should survive this attack! I am aware that I not only have  a body of an elephant but also a fat mind of an elephant! What is the use of  keeping this life? I want to be liberated from my Ignorant Mind which hides the  resplendent soul! I can only be saved by Your Grace!”

aum! asato maa sadgamaya!  tamaso maa jyotirgamaya!!

~ by T.N.Sethumadhavan

1. Srimad Bhagavata (2nd  Volume) – Swami Tapasyananda
2. Srimad Bhagavatam – Swamy Srikrishna Das



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  • The ultimate prayer to express ones surrender to God Almighty. The manner in which Gajendra praises the lord is magnificent and unparalleled! God bless!

  • First of all I’d like to make a correction about the curse of Maharishi Agastya.
    It’s wrong to say that King Indradyumna did NOT notice the sage.
    Indradyumna was of course busy chanting the Asht-akshari and did NOT get up at the arrival of the sage.
    This is a sin. We need to respect elders and when we don’t we’ll be committing grave sin.
    The so-called *curse* or *Shraap* of Maharishi Agastya was to save Indradyumna from grave consequences and give him a chance of repentance. What Agastya said was that instead of serious consequences and born as some terrible beast he’ll be born as the king of Elephants and he’ll get a chance to pray the LORD when the crocodile attacks it and attain salvation by LORD’s blessing.

  • And then there’s a hidden meaning behind the story.
    The life of a being is like that of Gajendra. We keep relishing in our lives, and then we get attached and we’re born and reborn in various births and get struck in the mortal world of petty pleasures and selfishness.
    And then ONE day we’re likely to commit sin after sin when the problems and consequences overpower us and pull us deep into this vicious circle of life and birth; until we remember the GOD almighty and pray for salvation.

  • AAp sab logoka dhanyabad karna chaunga jo aaplogone net ke madhyam se ham logoko jankari die he ki gajendra mokshya strotra vachan karne yogya hai aur ham to hindu hai . bahut achyaa laga dhanne bad . Hetauda nepal makwanpur Basu Karki

  • Great work ! Translation from Sanskrit is difficult. Some words in Sanskrit do not match exact English words. Even then you have simplified the verses.

  • Feel extremely blessed reading this stotram.
    I pray to Lord Narayana to bless us that we may be able to visit the Triveni site where this episode happened on earth.
    Thank you.
    Shanti juluru

  • I think this place is in Nepal, near Chitwan National Park in a village called Triveni (wher 3 rivers meet).
    Its known as Gajgadha where the King of Elephants fought and Lord Vishnu came to his rescue.

    The foot marks of Gaj can be seen engraved on the stones where it is said the incident took place and its on the banks of the river.

    There is a Shivji Temple next to it and alot of pilgrims from Nepal, UP and Bihar do visit this temple every year.