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Hymns to the Goddess, by John Woodroffe (Arthur Avalon), [1913], at

p. 31




Now I pray for the attainment of all blessings to Bhuvaneśvarī,
The cause and Mother 3 of the world,
She whose form is that of the Śabdabrahman, 4
And whose substance is bliss.


Thou art the primordial One, 5
Mother of countless creatures,
Creatrix of the bodies 6 of the lotus-born, 7 Viṣṇu and Śiva.
Who creates, preserves, and destroys the three worlds.
O Mother! by hymning Thy praise I purify my speech.

p. 32


O Daughter of the Mountain-King, 1
Thou art the cause of the world-destroying energy of Śiva, 2
Who manifests in earth, water, fire, ether, the sacrificer, the sun and moon, 3
And who destroyed the body of Manmatha. 4


O Mother! men only worship the triple-streamed Gangā 5
Because She shines in the matted hair of Śiva, 6
Which has been purified
By the dust of Thy lotus feet.


As the moon 7 delights the white night lotus 8 and none other,

p. 33

As the sun delights the day lotus 1 and none other,
As one particular thing only delights one other,
Thou, O Mother! delightest the whole universe by Thy glances.


Although Thou art the primordial cause of the world,
Yet art Thou ever youthful;
Although Thou art the Daughter of the Mountain-King, 2
Yet art Thou full of tenderness.
Although Thou art the Mother of the Vedas, 3
Yet they cannot describe Thee. 4
Although men must meditate upon Thee,
Yet cannot their mind comprehend Thee. 5


O Mother of the worlds!
Those who have reached that birth amongst men
Which if so difficult to attain,
And in that birth their full faculties,
Yet nathless do not worship Thee,

p. 34

Such, though having ascended to the top of the stairs,
Nevertheless fall down again. 1


O Bhavānī!
Such as worship Thee with fragrant flowers and sandal paste,
Ground with cool water 2 and powdered camphor,
Gain the sovereignty of the whole world.


O Mother! like the sleeping King of serpents, 3
Residing in the centre of the first lotus, 4
Thou didst create the universe.
Thou dost ascend like a streak of lightning, 5
And attainest the ethereal region. 6

p. 35


Thy body, having been moistened with the nectar flowing from That, 1
Thou dost again reach Thy abode 2 by that way. 3
O Mother and Spouse of Maheśvara!
They in whose heart Thou glitterest are never reborn.


O Gaurī! with all my heart
I contemplate Thy form,
Beauteous of face,
With its weight of hanging hair,
With full breasts 4 and rounded slender waist, 5
Holding in three hands a rosary, 6 a pitcher, 7 and a book,
And with Thy fourth hand making the jnānamudrā8


O Bhuvaneśvarī
Yogis who have restrained their senses
And have conquered the six enemies, 9
In yoga with calm minds behold Thee
Holding noose and a goad,

p. 36

And making the vara and abhaya mudrās1


Thou art Lakṣmī,
Rivalling the lustre of molten gold,
Holding two lotuses in two of Thy hands,
And with the other two making the gestures which grant boons and dispel fear. 2
Four elephants holding jars (in their trunks),
Sprinkle Thy head with nectar. 3


O Bhavānī! Thou art Durgā, 4 seated on a lion,
Of the colour of durvā grass, 5

p. 37

Holding in Thy eight hands various kinds of dreadful weapons,
And destroying the enemies of the immortals. 1


I remember again and again the dark 2 primeval Devī 3 swayed with passion, 4
Her beauteous face heated and moist with the sweat (of amorous play), 5
Bearing a necklace of Ganjā berries, 6 and clad with leaves.


O Spouse of Śrīkaṇṭha, 7
I place on my head Thy blue lotus feet,
Which are followed by 8 the Vedas,

p. 38

As swans are lured by the tinkling sound of an anklet.


O Bhavānī! I worship thy body from ankle to knee, 1
Upon which the bull-bannered one 2 gazes with great love,
And who, as if not satiated by looking thereon with two eyes,
Has yet made for himself a third. 3


I call to mind thy two thighs, 4
Which humble the pride of the trunk of an elephant,
And surpass the plantain-tree in thickness and tenderness. 5
O Mother! youth 6 fashioned those thighs
That they may support as two pillars the weight of thy (great) hips, 7

p. 39


Looking at thy waist, 1 it would seem as if it had been absorbed
And become the great bulk of thy breasts and hips. 2
By the youth 3 which clothes the body with hair, 4
May it ever be resplendent in my heart!


O Devī! may I never forget thy navel, 5
As it were a secure inviolate pool, 6
Given to Thee by Thy blooming youth,
Filled with the liquid beauty 7 of the beloved of Smara, 8

p. 40

He who was fearful of the fire from the eyes of Hara. 1


Thy two lotus-like breasts, smeared with sandal,
Which bear ashes telling of Śiva's embrace, 2
Call to mind the vermilion-painted temples moist with ichor 3
Of some (impassioned) elephant
Rising from his bath in waters,
Flicked with foam. 4


O Mother! Thy two arms, beauteous with the water
Dripping from Thy body bathed from neck to throat,
Seem to have been formed by the crocodile-bannered One, 5
As long nooses wherewith to hold the throat of his enemy 6 (Śiva).

p. 41

May I never forget them!


O Daughter of the Mountain-King,
Again and again have I looked upon Thy shapely neck,
Which has stolen the beauty of a well-formed shell,
And is adorning with pleasing necklace and many another ornament;
Yet am I never satiated.


O Mother! he has not been born in vain 1
Who oft calls to his mind
Thy face, with its large round eyes and noble brow,
Its radiant cheeks and smile,
The high, straight nose,
And lips red as the bimba fruit. 2


Whoever, O Devī! contemplates upon Thy wealth of hair,
Lit by the crescent moon, 3
Resembling a swarm of bees hovering over fragrant flowers,
Is freed of the ancient fetters which bind him to the world. 4

p. 42


The mortal who in this world
Devoutly from his heart reads this hymn,
Sweet to the ears of the wise,
Attains for ever all wealth in the form of that Lakṣmī
Who attends the crowned kings who are prostrate at Her feet.



31:1 The Devī in her aspect as Lord and Ruler of the world.

31:2 P. 567.

31:3 Ambikā.

31:4 Sākṣātsabdabrahmasvarūpiṇī: the "sound" or manifested Aparabrahman, as opposed to the absolute, the Parabrahman. The Devī and the Śabdabrahman are, in fact, one, though men speak of Her as His Śakti (power).

31:5 Ādyā.

31:6 Vapuhpratipādayitrī. The Devas have bodies, subtle though they be, as the Śabdabrahman Himself has.

31:7 Brahmā.

32:1 Himavat, whose daughter, as Pārvatī, the Devī was.

32:2 For they derive their power from the Devī, the All-Mother, whose children they are, and who also manifests as their Spouse.

32:3 These constitute the eight-fold forms (aṣṭamūrti) of Śiva, viz, Sarva, Bhava, Rudra, Ugraha, Bhīma, Paśupati, Īśāna, Mahādeva.

32:4 The Deva of Love.

32:5 Trisrotah, for there are three Ganges: the heavenly (Mandākinī), earthly (Alakanandā), and that of the nether world (Bhogavatī).

32:6 As to the descent of Gangā into the jaṭa of Śiva (see Hymn to Gangā, post).

32:7 Literally Lord of Kalā. Kalā is a digit of which there arc sixteen in the moon. The amākatā is that from which the nectar is distilled.

32:8 Kumudinī, which blooms and opens at night.

33:1 Kamalinī.

33:2 Mountain (Śaila), which is that which is made of masses of stone (Śilā)--a rhetorical comparison between the hardness of stone and Her tenderness.

33:3 Trayā. The whole Veda is so called because it consists of song, prose, and verse; or because the Rik, Yajus, and Sāma are alone referred to as Veda.

33:4 Cf. verse 2 of Mahimnastava of Puṣpadanta.

33:5 Literally, "Though thou art to be meditated upon, thou dost not stay in the path of mind" (cf. Mahimnastava, loc. cit, and Śruti, which says, "Yato vāco nivarttante aprāpya manasā saha.")

34:1 That is, as the subsequent fall makes the ascent useless, so human incarnation is without avail for those who, without excuse in such incarnation, do not worship the Devī.

34:2 Kālidāsa in the Ritusamhāra says that in the hot weather women should wear fine cloth, powder their hair with fragrant scent, and smear their breasts with sandal, ground with cool water.

34:3 She as Kuṇḍalinī resembles a sleeping serpent with three and a half coils abiding in the mūlādhāra.

34:4 The Mūlādhāra cakra (see last note).

34:5 Vidyullatā balaya vibhramamudvahanti. This is the sense of the passage which may literally mean that the Devī carries the beauty (vibrahma) of wristlets, like a streak of lightning, or "the Devī is sporting like a streak of lightning."

34:6 Khamasnuvānā. Kham is here Śiva in the Sahasrāra, whither the Devī repairs when Her passion is aroused by the lightning of the Kāmāgni around Her fanned by the leftward revolution of the red Kandarpavayu.

35:1 That is the Sahasrārapadma.

35:2 Mūlādhāra.

35:3 Margenātena--that is, the nādī suṣumnā.

35:4 Apīvarastanatatīm.

35:5 Tanuvrittamadhyām.

35:6 Japamāla, with which japa or recitation of mantra is done.

35:7 Kalaśa.

35:8 Literally, holding cintā, which is a name for the jñāna mudrā, or manual gesture so called.

35:9 The six sins (see p. 27, n. 3).

36:1 That is, the gestures (Mudrā) which grant boons and dispel fear. In the first the hand is held horizontally, the palm open, the fingers close to each other, and the thumb across the palm and touching the root of the third finger. The second is the same, but the hand is held upwards vertically, the palm being shown to the spectator.

36:2 That is, the vara and abhayamudrās, ante.

36:3 In this form the Devī is represented as being surrounded by four elephants, which pour nectar over 'her from jars held in their trunks.

36:4 One of the names of Bhuvaneśvarī (see p. 171 of Prosanna Kumar Shastri's "Daśamahāvidyā").

36:5 Of a dark green. It is not clear why this colour is here mentioned, as the colour of Durgā is a golden yellow. It is, however, the colour of other forms, which are those of the one and the same Devī. Thus the colour of Kālī is that of anjana (black, collyrium), Tārā is nīlā (dark blue), Mātanginī is asitā (black) or shyāmāngī (dark green). The hue of Shodashī (Śrī) is that of the rising sun (bālārkākanti), at it is that of Bhuvaneśvarī (uddaddinakaradyuti). The colour of Bhairavī is said to be that of a thousand rising suns; of Chinnamastā that of a million suns; p. 37 Dhūmāvati is of an ashen colour (vivarnā); Bagalāmukhī is all yellow (pītavarṇā), and Kamalā is said to be like lightning (saudāminisannibhā)--see Prosanna Kumar Shastri's "Daśamahāvidyā".

37:1 The Daityas, enemies of the Devas, whose Protectress the Devī is.

37:2 Asitakānti. It is difficult to arrive at English translations for some Sanskrit words of colour. Mātanginī here referred to is also spoken of as shyāmāngī or dark green; and dark green and dark-blue seem also to be used interchangeably.

37:3 Mātanginī, one of the Daśamahāvidyā.

37:4 Anangatantrām--influenced or swayed by Ananga ("the bodiless one"), a name of the Hindu God of Love, Kāma.

37:5 Avirnidāsha jalashikharashobhivaktrām. The cause is shown in the preceding line--play and union with her Lord.

37:6 Red and black berries used as goldsmiths' weights.

37:7 Śiva, the "beautiful throated," also called Shitikaṇṭha ("peacock-throated"), from the colouring caused by His drinking the venom which arose at the churning of the ocean.

37:8 Anugamyamānau--that is, the Vedas worship and adore Her.

38:1 Janghā. cf. Lalitāsahasranāma, verse 18, where the Devī's calves are compared to "the sapphire-studded quiver of the God of Love, with rounded ankles and instep arched like the back of a tortoise."

38:2 Śiva, also called Vriṣaddhvaja.

38:3 Śiva is always represented with three eyes, the third being the eye of wisdom, which in man opens on the realization of divinity.

38:4 Uru (cf. Lalitāsahasranāma, verse 17. "The symmetry and smoothness of Her thighs are known only to Kāmeśa (Śiva). Her knees shine like jewelled discs."

38:5 Cf. First Canto of Kālidāsa's Kumāra Sambhavam.

38:6 Madhyamenabayasā.

38:7 Shroni.

39:1 Murtirmadhyastava.

39:2 Shronyaustanauchayugapat prathayishyatochchairbālyāt parena bayasā parihristasārah--that is, the waist is so slender and the breasts and hips so heavy that it would seem that the greater part of the body, which goes to the making of the waist, had been taken away and put into the breasts and hips, and formed their bulk.

39:3 Bālyātparenabayasā. Literally the age which follows childhood, which is the cause of these changes in woman's body.

39:4 Romāvalivilāsitena, which appears with puberty (cf. verse 15 of the Lalitā).

39:5 Nābhi, which also means any navel-like cavity.

39:6 Pallalamapradhriśyam--from all but Śiva: a similar idea to that of verse 17 of the Lalitā, where it is said that the beauty of the Devī's thighs are known only to Her Lord Kāmeśa (Śiva).

39:7 Lāvanyavāribharitāng.

39:8 That is, Rati, Spouse of Kāma or Smara, the God of Love, son of Kṛṣṇa and Rukminī. The son of Kāma is Aniruddha, and his companion is Vasanta, the spring. He is armed with a bow-and-arrows, the bow string being a line of bees, and the arrows flowers of different plants.

40:1 When the Devas desired a commander for their forces in their war with Tāraka, they sought the aid of Kāma in drawing Śiva towards Pārvatī, whose issue alone could destroy the demon. Kāma undertook the mission, and shot his arrows of love at Śiva, when the latter was doing tapas. Śiva, however, who was offended at this disturbance of his devotions, burnt Kāma down with a flash from the fire of His third eye. Subsequently Kāma was reborn in the form of Pradyumna at the request of Rati.

40:2 For Śiva's body is covered with ashes.

40:3 Samadasyakumbhau, the ichor which exudes from the temples of elephants in rut.

40:4 The ashes are thus compared to foam, and the sandal paste to the vermilion with which the temples and foreheads of fine elephants are painted.

40:5 That is, Kāma, the God of Love.

40:6 For Śiva burnt him (see ante n. 5). The Devī's arms embrace the neck of Śiva.

41:1 Sa eva jātah. Literally, "He is indeed born." His birth is fruitful.

41:2 The fruit of the tree called tyālākucho in Bengali, which, when ripe, is very red, and to which the lips of young women are often compared (cf. Meghadūta, verse 2, "Pakvabimbādharoṣthī").

41:3 The Devī bears the crescent moon on her head as does Śiva.

41:4 Tasya svayam galati Devī purāṇapāshā--that is, he is freed of rebirth, the fruit of Karma. Here commences the phala (fruit or result portion) of the stotra.

Next: Ādyakālī (Ādyākālīsvarūpastotra), from the Mahānirvāṇa Tantra