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

p. 175




Thou art the playful garland on the head of Hara; 2
Such as but touch a drop of the spray of Thy waters
Recline on the lap of the fan-holding women of the city of the immortals, 3
Freed of the fear arising from the sinful Kālī age. 4


(O Devī Gangā!) may you purify us,
Thou who separateth the earth from Heaven, 5
Gladdening the creeper-like matted hair on the head of Hara, 6
Descending from the region of heaven,
Oozing from out the cave of the golden mountain, 7
Falling upon the surface of the earth,

p. 176

Purifier (as the River Mandākinī) of the city of the Devas,
Who art the powerful Destructress of the multitude of men's sins.


The trunks of elephants and their young make play with Thy waters,
Fragrant with ichor-maddened swarms of bees,
Trickling from the temples of elephants bathing therein.
Thy stream is browned with the sandal paste
Dropping from the breasts of Siddha women 1 who bathe therein.
And nigh the river bank Thy water is strewn with Kuśa 2 grass and flowers,
There thrown by sages 3 at morn and even. 4
May the water of the Ganges protect us!


This divine sin-destroying Bhāgīrathī 5 now on earth
Was in the beginning water in the vessel 6 of the Primeval Grandfather. 7
Then it was pure water from the feet of the Lord (Viṣṇu),

p. 177

Who sleeps on the serpent. 1
Again it was the gem adorning the matted hair of Śiva, 2
And, lastly, the daughter of the great sage Jahnu. 3


May the entrancing 4 Gangā falling on the matted hair 5 of Hara, 6
Descending from the Lord of Mountains,
Moving sinuously like a serpent to the ocean,
Flowing by the city of Kāśī, 7
Dispeller of countless worldly fears, 8
Saviour of those who bathe in Her waters,
Be ever victorious.


How can he who has seen Thy wave be bound by illusion?

p. 178

To him who has drunk of Thy water thou givest a dwelling in the city of the yellow-clad Deva. 1
O Gangā! what time the bodies of those who assume body 2 fall on Thy lap, 3
For such, O Mother, 4 even Shatakrīta's 5 grandeur 6 is but a small thing.


O Bhagavatī! 7 on Thy bank I drink Thy water only.
I worship Kṛṣṇa, all thirst for worldly enjoyment having gone.
Destroyer of all sin, Whose companionship is the stairway to Heaven, 8
O Devī! Gangā of lightsome, tremulous wave,
Be gracious to me.


O Mother! O Spouse of Śambhu! 9
Who art ever associated with Śambhu
At death, upon Thy banks, with my hands folded upon my head,

p. 179

Remembering Thy name and the feet of Nārāyaṇa, 1
May my devotion to Hara and Hari 2 ever endure
At the time of the festival of life's departure! 3
He who of pure mind reads this sacred eight-versed hymn to Gangā
Will be wholly released of all sin
And will go the region of Viṣṇu. 4


175:1 The River Ganges, in whom the Devī manifests.

175:2 Śiva. The Ganges in its descent from heaven at the call of Bhagīratha was caught in the matted hair of Śiva.

175:3 Amarāvatī. The city of India.

175:4 Kaliyuga. The fourth, and, according to orthodox views, the present age, marked by the prevalence of sin.

175:5 By the celestial Ganges called Mandākinī.

175:6 See note 2 ante.

175:7 Sumeru.

176:1 Siddhas are celestial spirit (devayoni) of great purity.

176:2 A species of grass used in worship.

176:3 Munis.

176:4 The flower and grass is thrown by them when they worship the Ganges in the morning and evening.

176:5 Gangā is called Bhagirathi, because She was brought down from heaven by the prayer of Bhagīratha, son of the solar race, in order to secure heavenly bliss for his kinsmen.

176:6 Kamaṇḍalu, a gourd-shaped vessel used by ascetics.

176:7 Pitāmaha. Brahmā is so called.

177:1 The thousand-headed serpent Ananta Deva (see Viṣṇu Purāṇā).

177:2 Ante p. 175, n. 2.

177:3 Hence the river is called Jāhnavī. The verse speaks of the stages of the descent of the heavenly stream. Ṛṣi Jahnu swallowed the Ganges, and then, at the prayer of Bhagīratha, he let it issue from his thigh. The Ganges is called his daughter as She issued from him.

177:4 Manohārinī ("mind stealer").

177:5 Śiva, like the ascetics, wears a coil of matted hair (Jaṭa)

177:6 Śiva.

177:7 Benares, through which the Ganges flows.

177:8 Fearlessness is the special gift of the Devī. The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇā says: "When You are remembered in times of difficulty, You take away all fear of all beings." She is Bhayāpahā (remover of fear); for Śruti says ("Tai Up." ii. 9, 1): "By knowing the bliss of that Brahman none fear anything."

178:1 That is, Viṣṇu, who is clad in yellow, and whose city is His heaven (Vaikuṇṭha).

178:2 Men.

178:3 That is, when on death, they are thrown into the Ganges.

178:4 The Devī is the Holy Mother (Śrīmātā), the first of Her names.

178:5 Indra, King of the celestials.

178:6 Pada or portion.

178:7 Feminine of Bhagavān, a term applied to God, and which means He who possesses Bhaga.

178:8 Svarga.

178:9 Śiva.

179:1 Viṣṇu.

179:2 Viṣṇu and Śiva.

179:3 Death (prāṇaprayāṇotsava), for it is the entrance to heavenly bliss.

179:4 Vaikuṇṭha (see p. 178. n. 1).

Next: Waves of Bliss (Ānandalaharī)