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

p. 180




O BHAVĀNĪ, 1 the four-headed Lord of creatures, 2 is not able to worship Thee,
Nor even the five-headed destroyer of the Tripurā, 3
Nor the six-headed commander of the celestial hosts, 4
Nor even the thousand-headed Lord of serpents. 5
If, then, they cannot, tell me who else is able so to do?


O Devī! how can we speak of Thy qualities,
Which are not to be described by any Nigama6
As the sweetness of ghee, 7milk, the grape, and honey

p. 181

Cannot be distinguished and described by words,
But may be perceived by the tongue only;
In like manner Thy beauty can be seen only by the eyes of Parameśvara. 1


We ever pray to Thee, O Gaurī! 2
Youthful daughter of the Lord of mountains.
Beautiful is the betel 3 in Thy mouth
And the collyrium on Thy eyes;
Beautiful, too, are the saffron on Thy forehead,
The necklet of pearls on Thy throat,
Thy silken garment and the glittering gold waist-ornament on Thy large hips. 4


May Bhagavatī, 5 Satī, 6 whose lotus eyes sparkle, 7
Spouse of Śambhu, 8 on the slope of whose breasts
Rests a beautiful garland of the flowers of the Mandāra tree, 9
Whose earring is the pleasing sound from the vīnā10

p. 182

Who stoops (from the weight of her breasts), 1
Whose beautiful swaying gait is that of the female elephant 2--
May that Bhagavatī be ever victorious!


O beauteous Aparṇā! 3
Bestow the fulness of happiness on me,
Thou whose limbs art covered
With ornaments of gold and gems glittering like the newly risen sun,
Whose eyes are beautiful as those of a doe,
Of whom Śiva is a part, 4
Who is of the golden colour of lightning,
Beauteous in yellow garments and tinkling anklets.


Shines forth does the Devī born in the snowy mountains. 5

p. 183

Her beautiful hands are like a red leaf. 1
She is adorned with beautiful flowers and pearls.
Her head, by its weight of hair, seems covered by a swarm of bees. 2
It is She with whom Śiva seeks shelter,
Who stoops from the weight of Her breasts, 3
Whose words are sweet,
The Destructress of ills, 4
Ever and in all places pervading, 5
Tender creeper 6 of Intelligence and Bliss. 7


Others worship with reverence the plant with leaves and particular qualities,
But I know that Aparṇā alone in this world should be worshipped. 8
Then the old Śiva garmented with space

p. 184

Surely grants to Thy worshipper the fruit of full liberation. 1


Thou art the Mother of all Vedas,
The regulator of all dharmas 2
And the root of all wealth--
Thou whose lotus feet are worshipped even by the wealth-giver. 3
O Mother! Thou art the primal cause of all desires.
Victrix of Kandarpa, 4 Thou art the seed of liberation for the good. 5
Thou art the Spouse of the Parabrahman. 6


Although my mind be fickle and wanting in great devotion to Thee,
Yet by Thy mercy Thou should look auspiciously upon me.
The cloud gives sweet water to the mouth of the Cātaka 7 bird.

p. 185

I know not by what (good) fate my mind is directed. 1


O virtuous One, from the corner of Thine eyes
Cast now a glance of kindness upon me;
Neglect so to do is not proper on Thy part,
Seeing that I have reached the refuge of Thy initiation.
Alas! the creeper of desire, 2 whose very name shows that it gives desire,
Yet cannot give that which is desired,
What difference is there between it and any other common creeper?


I, though I have sought refuge with other Devatās,
Have yet placed full trust in Thy lotus feet.
If, nevertheless, your heart is not timely set on me,
Then with whom shall I in my helplessness seek shelter,
O Mother of the big-bellied one! 3


As iron touched by the touchstone becomes at once gold,

p. 186

As the water of the roadway mixed with that of the Ganges becomes pure,
In like manner will not my heart,
Greatly soiled though it be by my great sins 1
Become pure if attached with devotion to Thee?


O Īśānī, 2 as the old Lotus-Born 3 and others have said,
The rule is that if others than Thyself art worshipped,
Only the particular fruit desired is gained;
But Thou giveth more even than is asked for.
Make me, then, ever attached to Thee by day and night.


O Spouse of the great Lord of the three worlds! 4
Most pleasant is Thy abode,
The walls whereof glitter with various gems and crystals,
Whereon Thy image is reflected.
On the summit of Thy abode the quivering light waves of the moon (are shed).
Therein dwell Mukunda, 5 Brahmā, and other Devas.
It is ever victorious.

p. 187


Thy dwelling is in Mount Kailāsa. 1
Thy worshippers are Brahmā, Indra, and other Devas.
All are subservient to Thee in the three regions. 2
The number of siddhis 3 join their palms (in adoration before Thee.).
Śiva is Thy lover;
Therefore, O Daughter of the Lord of mountains 4
Nothing is equal to Thy fortune.


The old bull is (Śiva's) carrier.
Poison is his food; 5 space is his dwelling;
The cremation ground is his playground; 6
Serpents are his ornaments.

p. 188

All things in the world are known to the enemy of Smara; 1
But the wealth of all this is due to the greatness of Thy fortune,
O Mother!


The Lord of Paśus2 besmeared with ashes, sits in the cremation ground.
From his nature arises the force which destroys the world.
Out of compassion for the whole world, He held the poison in his throat. 3
O Kalyāṇi! 4 in all this I see the fruit of his companionship with Thee.


O Daughter of the mountain, 5
When Gangā had seen Thy great beauty,
She was afraid, 6 and turned to water;
Then Śiva, seeing her sad, lotus-like face,
In his mercy made a dwelling for Her on his own head. 7

p. 189


O Bhagavatī, 1 the Creator having with his own hands taken Thy bathing water
Mingled with liquid sandal, musk, saffron, and flowers,
And the dust of Thy moving feet,
Created therewith the lotus-eyed women of the city of the Devas. 2


If one but contemplates Thee, in play with Thy maidens,
In pleasing springtide with its flowers and creepers
Upon the lake, beautiful with many a blossoming lotus and flocks of geese,
The waters of which are rippled by the breeze from the Malaya mountain, 3
From such an one all fevered ills 4 pass away.


180:1 Bhava is Śiva, and is His name in the watery form of the aṣṭamūrti (eight forms). The Vāyu Purāṇa says that He is called Bhava because all things come from Him and subsist in water. The Devī is Bhavānī as the Spouse and giver of life to Bhava.

180:2 Brahmā.

180:3 Śiva.

180:4 Kārtikeya, son of Śiva.

180:5 Ananta on whom Viṣṇu reposes.

180:6 Generally Śāstra and in special technical sense Tantra in which the Devī is the Guru.

180:7 Clarified butter.

181:1 The supreme Lord.

181:2 See p. 30, note 3.

181:3 Tāmbūla, or pan, which is chewed.

181:4 Prithukatitate.

181:5 Feminine of Bhagavān.

181:6 Devī as daughter of Dakṣa (see Introduction).

181:7 Ambhoruhacatulacakṣu. Literally, the lotus eye is ever moving, now glancing here, now there. Motionless eyes in women are not considered beautiful.

181:8 Śiva.

181:9 One of the five heavenly trees in the garden and city (Amarāvatī) of Indra--viz., Mandāra, Pārijāta, Santāna, Kalpavrikṣa, Harichandana.

181:10 The stringed instrument of that name borne by the Devī as Sarasvatī.

182:1 Nātangī. So also the Annapurṇā dhyāna represents the Devī as giver of food "stooping from the weight of Her great breasts" (annapradāna niratāmstanabhāranamrām, and see verse 6 post).

182:2 Mātangīruciragati bhangī bhagavatī.

182:3 Name of the Devī. According to the Kālikā, and Brahmā Purāṇas the Devī, as the daughter of Himavat, renounced even leaves as food (a-parṇā = without leaf); hence she is called by Devas Aparṇā. According to another derivation, the name comes from apa (removing), rina (debt). So Bhāskararāya, who gives it, says in his Devīstava; "When you have not discharged your debt to me, though I respect your name, O Śivé why are you not ashamed to bear the name of Aparṇā?" (discharger of debt)? According to the Nirukta, parna = falling. Aparṇa = free from falling.

182:4 That is, it is by Her favour that Śiva forms part of Her.

182:5 Himādrehsambhūtā--that is, the Himālaya, hence She is also called Girijā (mountain-born).

183:1 Either from their natural colour or because dyed with lac.

183:2 The bee goes to the lotus; the bees (her hair) settle upon her (lotus) face.

183:3 Kucābharanatā (see note 1, p. 182).

183:4 Disease (rujānghantrī).

183:5 Literally, one who goes (gantrī).

183:6 Latikā. Dim, of latā creeper to which woman is compared, for she clings to her husband as the creeper to the tree. Hence worship with woman in the Tāntrik Pancatattva is called latāsādhana.

183:7 Cidānanda which, with sat (being), constitutes the nature of the Supreme Being (Parabrahman).

183:8 That is, some worship a particular Devatā to gain a particular result--e.g., Sarasvatī for learning, Lakṣmī for wealth etc.; but Śankarācārya worships the supreme Aparṇā, whom the Devas worship, who is without qualities, and does so only to give Her honour.

184:1 Full kaivalya mokṣa, liberation above the various pāda, sālokya, etc. (see p. 59, note 1), for muktī is of various kinds.

184:2 Law of religion, duty, etc.

184:3 That is Kubera, Deva of wealth.

184:4 A name of Kāma, God of Love (see p. 40, note 1) .

184:5 Satām. She gives liberation to them.

184:6 The Supreme Being, for it preceded Śakti, as Śruti says, "Sa aikshata," etc. As the Śāradā Tilaka (chap. i.) says: "Saccidānanda vibhavāt sakalat parameshvarāt, āsīchchaktistītonādonādbindusadmudbhavah.

184:7 A bird (cuculus melanolcucus) which is said to live on raindrops.

185:1 That is, just as the cātaka is given something, though it does not and cannot pray for it, so what the writer of the hymn receives must, since his devotion (bhakti) is so small and lacking in the force of prayer, be due to some undisclosed merit acquired as the result of past karma.

185:2 Kalpalatikā--that is, a creeper which, like the kalpa tree, grants all desires that may be asked of it.

185:3 Ganeśa.

186:1 Tattatpāpaih. Literally, "those particular sins"--the sins of the hymnist who knows what they are.

186:2 Feminine of Īśa (Lord).

186:3 Brahmā..

186:4 See p. 151, note 7.

186:5 Giver of liberation--that is, Viṣṇu.

187:1 See Introduction to Tantra Śāstra.

187:2 See p. 151, note 7.

187:3 Great powers, such as aṇimā, laghimā, etc., the power of becoming extremely light or heavy, of entering into things, etc., which, in their fulness, constitute the aiśvarya of the Lord (Īśvara), and in a lesser degree of those who approach His nature.

187:4 Himālaya, for Devī was the daughter of the Mountain-King Himavat.

187:5 See p. 16, note 2.

187:6 Dakṣa, in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, reproaching Śiva, says: "He roams about in dreadful cemeteries, attended by hosts of ghosts and spirits, like a madman, naked, with dishevelled hair, wearing a garland of dead men's skulls and ornaments of human bone, pretending to be Śiva (auspicious), but in reality Aśiva (inauspicious), insane, beloved by the insane, the Lord of Bhūtas (ghosts and spirits), beings whose nature is essentially darkness" (Muir, OṢṬ., iv. 738). The cremation ground is His abode, for there the passions are burnt away.

188:1 God of Love, whom Śiva consumed.

188:2 Paśupati: a name of Śiva: as to Paśu (see Introduction to Tantra Śāstra). Here the equivalent of Lord of men.

188:3 See p. 16, note 2.

188:4 Beneficent one. According to the Padma Purāṇa Devī is worshipped as Kalyāṇī in the Malaya mountain, to which reference is made in verse 20.

188:5 See p. 187, note 4.

188:6 Bhītaivāsīt, or may be abashed.

188:7 Jāhnavī, whence Gangā is called Jāhnavī. When Gangā fell from Heaven, Śiva first held Her in the locks of his hair, until Her anger at being called down by Bhagīratha had abated. She then fell into the Bindu lake, whence issue the seven sacred streams. One branch followed Bhagīratha wherever he went, and on the way flooded the sacrificial flame of the muni Jāhnu. In his anger he drank up its waters. Bhagīratha's work seemed to be fruitless. But after intercession, the muni allowed the waters to flow from him, and as so, issuing from him, the Ganges is called his daughter Jāhnavī.

189:1 See p. 178, note 7.

189:2 Amarāvatī, the city of Indra.

189:3 See note to verse 17.

189:4 Literally, fever-produced disease (jvarajanitapīdāpasarati).

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