Bilwa Ashtakam, also spelled Bilwashtakam, Vilvashtakam, or Bilvashtakam, is the asthakam (ashtak) addressed to Lord Shiva. Bilwa Ashtakam is a highly powerful Sanskrit Shiva stotra which are the eight hymns chanted while offering Bilwa (Vilva) leaves to Lord Shiva. The Bilwa (Aegle Marmelos) leaves are one of the main offering to Lord Shiv and by offering Bilva leaves (Koovalam in Malayalam) a devotee can easily please Lord Shiva.
Bilvashtakam is in Sanskrit. It starts with bowing to God Ganesha. It is a very pious Shiva Stotra. God Shiva likes Bilva (tree) leaf. In this stotra, how Bilva leaf is pious and why it is offered to God Shiva when we worship (pooja) him, is described. While performing Pooja of God Shiva, it is said to be incomplete if we don’t offer Bilva Patra (Leaf).
Chanting Bilwa Ashtakam especially on Maha Shivaratri is considered auspicious. Here is Lyrics of Bilwashtakam with English meaning.
II shrii ganeshaaya namaaha II
tridalam triguNaakaaram trinetram cha trayaayudham I
trijanmaa paapasanhaaram eka Bilva shivaarpaNam II 1 II
trishaakhair Bilva patraisha hyaschidrai komalai shubhai I
shivapoojaam karishyaami eka Bilva shivaarpaNam II 2 II
akhanda bilvapatreNa poojite nandikeshware I
shudhyantii sarva paapebhyo eka bilva shivaarpaNam II 3 II
shaaligram shilaama ekaam vipraaNaam jaatu arpayet I
somayadnya mahaapuNyam eka bilva shivaarpaNam II 4 II
dantikotisahasraNi ashwamedha shataanicha I
kotikanyaa mahaadaanam eka bilva shivaarpaNam II 5 II
laxmyaa stnam utpanam mahadevasya cha priyam I
bilva vruksham prayachchhaami eka bilva shivaarpaNam II 6 II
darshanam bilva vrukshasya sparshanam paapanaashanam I
aghorapaapa sanhaaram eka bilva shivaarpaNam II 7 II
moolato brahma roopaaya madhyato Vishnu roopiNe I
agrataha shiva roopaaya eka bilva shivaarpaNam II 8 II
bilvashtakam ediam puNyam yaha paThet shiva sanidhou I
sarva papa vinirmuktaaha shivalokam avaapnuyaat II 9 II
II eti bilvashtakam sampoorNam II
1) I offer Bilva Patra (A Bilva Patra is so called leaf having three small leaves.) to God Shiva. This Bilva Patra is a form of the three human qualities. Good Virtue (Satva), Passion (Raja quality) and Irascible (Tama quality). This Bilva Patra is like three eyes, Sun, Moon and Fire. It is like three weapons. It is destroyer of sins committed in earlier three births. I perform pooja of God Shiva with such Bilva Patra.
2) I offer Bilva Patra to God Shiva. This Bilva Patra is very pious, soft and there are no holes on it. As such it is complete in it self. It is like three branches. I perform pooja of God Shiva with this Bilva Patra.
3) I offer Bilva Patra to God Shiva. After performing pooja of Nandikeshwar (God Shiva) by offering complete Bilva Patra (as described in 2 above) to him, we become free from our sins.
4) i) Soma Yadnya (Sacrifices and such like things) is performed to receive blessings from God, to accomplish good things in our life and to destroy our sins. ii) People who perform religious duties even for others offer Shaligram (God in the form of a very pious Stone) to God Shiva. These (i) and (ii) are very pious and good things however to offer Bilva Patra to God Shiva is much more pious thing of all. Hence I offer Bilva Patra to God Shiva.
5) i) Long time back Kings and rich people in India were donating elephants. ii) Ashwamedha Yadnya (Sacrifices and such like things) were performed. iii) At time of marriage, father of bride is donating his daughter to bridegroom, and this is considered as a very pious thing performed by him. Above i), ii) and iii) are no doubt very pious things performed however offering Bilva Patra to God Shiva is much more pious thing than all. Hence I offer Bilva Patra to God Shiva.
6) Bilva Tree is created By Godess Laxmi who is wife of God Vishnu. God Shiva Likes Bilva Tree (Bilva Patra) very much. I perform pooja of God Shiva with Bilva Patra.
7) When we see Bilva Tree and touch it, it simply destroys our sins. Even our very bad and biggest sins are removed and we become free from our sins. Hence I perform pooja of God Shiva with Bilva Patra.
8) Lower part of Bilva Patra is God Brahma, Middle part of Bilva Patra is God Vishnu and Upper part is God Shiva himself hence I perform pooja of God Shiva with Bilva Patra.
9) Whosoever recites this Bilvashtakam by sitting in front of God Shiva temple will become free from all his sins and rest in Shiva Loka along with God Shiva after his death.
Thus here completes Bilvashtakam.