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

p. 224




O MOTHER GANGĀ! co-wife 2 with the daughter of Himalaya,
Thou art the necklace on the dress of the Earth, 3
And the banner staff whereby one ascends to Heaven.
O Bhāgīrathī! 4 I pray to Thee.
May my body perish after it has lived on Thy banks,
After it has drunk Thy pure water And swung on Thy waves.
And has remembered Thy name and cast looks on Thee.


O Mother Gangā! O deliverer from Hell!

p. 225

Even a bird living in the hollow of a tree growing on Thy bank,
Even a fish or a tortoise living in Thy waters
Are greater than a King worshipped by his enemies' wives,
Made afraid by the sound of the bells on the necks of his maddened elephants. 1


Not even a bull or a bird or a horse,
Nor a serpent nor an elephant,
Suffer the pains of rebirth and redeath
If they live at Kāśī 2 on Thy holy banks.
Better off are they than even a Raja living elsewhere,
Fanned though he be with the couris 3 of courtezans, 4
Whose ever moving golden wristlets sweetly tinkle.


O our Supreme Lady Bhāgīrathī! 5
O wanderer in the three regions! 6
When shall it be that I shall be fanned
By the hands of heavenly women 7 with their beautiful couris?
When, too, shall I be happy enough to see my body
Pecked by crows, devoured by dogs, drawn along the earth by jackals.

p. 226

Carried by Thy currents, tossed upon Thy banks,
And borne by Thy waters to and fro!


May the daughter of Jahnu 1 be ever victorious and protect us,
She who is like the fresh fibrous stem of the lotus-like feet of Viṣṇu, 2
Like a garland of jasmine  3 flowers on the head of Śiva,
Like the banner of victory of Lakṣmī presiding over liberation,
She 4 who cleanses us of the stain of sin arising from the Kaliyuga. 5


May Thy sacred water be pure for my daily bathing,
Thy water covered with leaves of palm and tamāla6
Of Sāla 7 and pine, with all their creepers
On which play no rays of the Sun. 7
White and brilliant, like the conch, the Moon, and the water-lily,
Stirred by the rising breasts of the wives of the Gandharvas,

p. 227

Devas, Siddhas, and Kinnaras, 1
What time they bathe therein.


May the water of Gangā, who ever charms, sanctify us;
She who has fallen from the feet of the enemy of Mura, 2
Who wanders upon the head of the enemy of Tripurā, 3
The Destructress of sins.


May the auspicious water of Gangā ever purify us;
The Destructress of sins, the great enemy of sins,
Adorned with waves, wandering in the mountains,
Piercing through the caverns of the Lord of mountains 4
With roaring sounds.
Stealer of the dust from the feet of Lord Hari. 5


Whosoever at early dawn,
Having cleansed his body
And purified his mind

p. 228

Of all uncleanliness arising from the sinful Kaliyuga, 1
Reads this hymn to Gangā composed of eight verses,
Shall never fall into the ocean of the world again,
But shall attain liberation.


224:1 From the Brihatstotraratnākara, edited by Jagannātha Mehta (Benares).

224:2 Sapatnī. Pārvatī, the daughter of Himālaya, is one wife and Gangā the other.

224:3 The stream is compared to a necklace of pearls on the dress of a man or woman.

224:4 So named as having been called down by Bhagīratha. Vide ante, p. 188, note 7.

225:1 When the bells are rubbed against the necks of the elephants. The picture is one of victory, pomp, and beauty.

225:2 Benares.

225:3 Whisks made of yak tails.

225:4 Vārastrī.

225:5 See p. 188, note 7.

225:6 See p. 151, note 7.

225:7 Divyastrī.

226:1 See p. 188, note 7.

226:2 Gangā was born from the feet of Viṣṇu.

226:3 Mālati. Gangā, on Her fall from Heaven, touched the head of Śiva. There Her white encircling stream is compared to a wreath.

226:4 That is, Gangā.

226:5 The fourth and worst of the ages.

226:6 Names of trees. The reference to pine and palm show the descent of the stream from the Himalaya to the plains of Bengal.

226:7 In the caverns of the Himalaya.

227:1 Classes of minor divinities or Devayoni.

227:2 That is, Śrīkṛṣṇa (Viṣṇu), who slew the Daitya Mura.

227:3 That is, Śiva, who conquered the three cities made of gold, silver, and iron of the three Asuras Kamalākṣa, Tārakakṣa, and Vidyunmāli respectively.

227:4 Himālaya.

227:5 Viṣṇu, from whose feet She was born.

228:1 Vide ante, p. 163, note 6.

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