Sacred Texts  Tantra  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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

p. 135




IT is by Thy power only
That Brahmā creates, Viṣṇu maintains,
And at the end of things Śiva destroys the universe.
Powerless are they for this but by Thy help.
Therefore it is that Thou alone art the Creatrix,
Maintainer, and Destructress of the world. 3


Thou art fame, mind, remembrance,
And our refuge, the mountain-born, 4
Companion, kindness, faith, and patience,
Earth, Kamalā, 5 health, 6 the arts, and victory,

p. 136

Contentment, ever victorious, 1 Umā, 2 Ramā, 3
True knowledge, and the highest buddhi4


Science, forgiveness, beauty, retentiveness art Thou, 5
Who art Known in the three worlds as all in all.
Who is there that unaided by Thee can do ought?
Thou art the abode wherein all men dwell. 6


Thou art the upholder.
Were Thou not so, how could the tortoise and serpent uphold the Earth? 7
Thou art the Earth itself.
Were this not so, how could this weighty world rest on Ether? 8


Those who through Thy māyā pray to Devas,
Such as 9 the four-headed One 10, Viṣṇu, Rudra, 11 Fire,

p. 137

The White-rayed one 1 Yama, 2 Vāyu, 3 and Gaṇeśa 4
Are indeed ignorant, 5
For can these do anything without Thy power? 6


O Mother! those who do homa,  7 with ghee on fire,
With great ceremony in the name of the Devas,
Are of but small intelligence. 8
If Thou art not svāhā9 then how can they make sacrifice?
Do they not worship Thee?
If not they are ignorant. 10


In this world Thou art the giver of enjoyment
To things which move and are still. 11
Thou givest life to all things being as they are parts of Thee.

p. 138

O Mother! as Thou nourisheth all Thy Suras, 1
So also dost Thou nourish others.


O Mother! as men who are of good heart,
Never for the mere pleasure thereof
Cut down leafless and bitter (fruited) trees
Which have sprung up in the forest.
Therefore Thou dost even greatly protect the Daityas. 2


Though Thou slayest in the battlefield with Thy arrows the enemies,
Knowing their desire for amorous play with celestial women, 3
Yet such is Thy nature that even then Thou showest kindness to them.
For Thou so slayest them
That in another body 4 they may obtain fulfilment of their desires.

p. 139


Most wonderful it is that Thou hast assumed body
For the destruction of the Dānavas, 1 famed for their power,
When Thou mightest have slain them by Thy mere will.
The cause of this is Thy play 2 and nothing else, 3


Alas! of a verity unhappy are they
Who when the Kālī age, the worst of ages, has come,
Do not worship Thee.
Men cunning and skilled in the Purāṇas
Have made the people devoted to the worship of Hari and Śankara, 4
Who are but Thy creatures. 5


Those who worship with devotion Devas,
Though they know that they are distressed, harassed by Asuras, and subject to Thy control,
Are of a surety like unto a man

p. 140

Who with, the light of a clear lamp in his hands,
Yet falls into some waterless and terrible well. 1


O Mother! Thou art the remover of the pains which arise from birth,
And art known by those desirous of liberation
As the giver of happiness when Thou art vidyā2
And of unhappiness when Thou art avidyā2
Surely it is only the ignorant who do not worship Thee,
Such as are attached to enjoyment without wisdom. 3


Even Brahmā, Hara, and Hari, as all other Suras, 4
Ever worship Thy lotus feet, which are our refuge.
But those who are of small intelligence and beset with error
Do not worship Thee.
And so ever repeatedly fall into the ocean of the world. 5

p. 141


O Caṇḍī! 1 it is most surely by the favour of the dust on Thy lotus feet
That Brahmā in the beginning of things creates, Shauri 2 protects, and Hara 3 destroys the whole world.
He is indeed unfortunate
Who in this world does not worship Thee.


O Devī! Thou art the Devatā of speech of both Suras and Asuras.
Without power of speech are even the foremost of Devas
When Thou abidest not in them.
If men do speak, it is because they are not deprived of Thee. 4


Hari, 5 when cursed by the greatly angered Bhrigu, 6

p. 142

Became Fish, Tortoise, Boar, and Man-lion, 1 and Dwarf. 2
How can those who worship Him
Escape the fire of death?


As is well-known, the linga of Śambhu 3 in the forest
Fell on earth in like manner by the curse of Bhrigu.
How can those, O Mother! who on earth worship Him 4 who holds a skull
Attain to happiness either in this world or the next?


They who worship the elephant-faced Lord of Ganas, 5
Who was born of Maheśa,
With Him in vain take shelter.
They know Thee not, O Devī! Mother of the Universe,
Who art easy of worship 6 and the giver of the fruit of all desires.

p. 143


Wonderful it is that through Thy compassion
Even the multitude of enemies slain by Thy sharpened arrows
Have thus been made to reach Heaven.
For had they not been so slain
Calamities and the most painful of painful states would they have suffered
In that hell which is the result of their (evil) karma.


Even Brahmā, Hara, and Hari
From pride 1 know not Thy power.
How, then, are others able to know it,
Bewildered as they are by Thy (three) guṇas of incomparable power? 2


Even Munis 3 suffer, who, being ignorant (of Thee).
Do not adore Thy thought-transcending lotus feet,
And are set upon the worship of sun and fire. 4
By them, even though they read hundreds of Śruti, 5

p. 144

The Supreme object of desire 1 is not known, which is the essence of all Vedas.


Methinks it is Thy (three) guṇas,
The power of which is so famed on earth,
Which makes men turn away from devotion (to Thee),
And attaches them to Viṣṇu, Īśa, 2 Bhāskara, 3 Gaṇeśa,
By (the teaching of) various Āgamas 4 of their own devising. 5


O Ambikā! (so great is Thy mercy)
That Thou art not angry with,
But showest kindness to, and maketh greatly prosperous
Even those who, skilful in the mantra of delusion, 6

p. 145

Make the best of men 1 turn away from Thy feet
By Agamas made by themselves, 2
Teaching of devotion to Hari and Hara. 3


In the Satya age 4 the sattva guṇa 5 was very powerful,
Therefore there were no Asadāgamas6
But in the Kalī age learned folk conceal Thee (from the people).
And adore those Devas imagined by them (to be objects of worship). 7

p. 146


Munis, 1 in whom the sattva guṇa 2 is very pure,
Meditate upon Thee,
Who art the giver on earth of the fruit of liberation,
Who art perfect in yoga 3 and the supreme knowledge.
Such never again suffer pain in the womb of a mother. 4
They are only praiseworthy who are absorbed in Thee.


Cītśakti 5 is in Paramātmā,
Therefore also it is manifested 6 in the world,
Wherein it is known as the cause of its creation, maintenance, and destruction. 7

p. 147

Who else in this world without Thee and of his own power
Is able to create, move and destroy? 1


O Mother of the world!
Can the Tattvas2 deprived of Cit3 create the world?
They are lifeless things. 4
O Devī! can the indriyas 5 with their objects and functions, 6
Bear fruit without Thee?


O Mother! had you not as Svāhā 7 been the cause thereof,
Even the Devas could not have obtained their enjoined own portion,
Offered in sacrificial rites by Munis 8.

p. 148

Therefore Thou maintainest the whole world. 1


By Thee all this universe was in the beginning of things created;
Thou protecteth the Regents of the Quarters among whom Hari and Hara are foremost.
At the dissolution of things Thou devourest the whole universe.
That which has been done by Thee from the creation
Even Devas 2 know not.
What, then, shall we say of unfortunate men?


O Mother! Thou hast by slaying the greatly formidable Asura,
Who assumed the form of a buffalo, 3
Protected the Devas.
Even the Vedas know Thee not as Thou really art. 4
Small of intellect as we are how can we praise Thee?


O Mother! Thou hast accomplished a great work In destroying this wicked foe of ours,
A thorn painful beyond all thought
(In the side of) the whole world.

p. 149

Thy fame will spread throughout the whole universe.
Do Thou, whose power is known to be incomparable,
By Thy mercy protect us. 1


135:1 Mother of the world.

135:2 Chap. xix., Skandha v., p. 27, of the Bombay Edition (Venkateshvara Press), edited by Khemarāja; 1823, Shaka (1902), with Commentary by Nīlakantha, hereafter referred to by the letter N.

135:3 The Devī, who is the mahākāraṇasvarūpā, is also the kāryasvarūpā. As cause She is in the effect and is the śaktirūpa by which all things are done (N).

135:4 Here is meant the Śakti of Rudra (N).

135:5 Lakṣmī, Devī of Prosperity and Beauty.

135:6 Puṣti: nourishment.

136:1 Vijayā. The Devī Pr. says: "After conquering this very powerful King of the Daityas, named Padma, She is known in the three worlds as Vijayā and unconquerable (aparājitā)."

136:2 See Hymn to Annapurṇā, post. Here the Īśvara Śakti (N.).

136:3 A name of Lakṣmī.

136:4 See p. 87, note 5.

136:5 Medhā, which means, in particular, the retentive faculty or memory, and in general, intelligence.

136:6 For in Her all men have their being. She is as Ādhāraśakti, their support (N.).

136:7 As the Purāṇas represent them as doing. The verse deals with the attributes of the ādhāraśakti.

136:8 Gaganam.

136:9 Literally, "headed by," or instances of principal Devas.

136:10 Brahmā.

136:11 Śiva.

137:1 Subrāmshu, or the moon.

137:2 Lord of Death.

137:3 Lord of the Air.

137:4 The elephant-headed Deva, son of the Devī as Pārvatī and Śiva.

137:5 Vimūdha (see also Umāsanghitā of Śiva Purāṇā).


Ye vā stuvanti manujā amarān vimudhā,
Māyā gunaistava caturmukha viṣṇurudrān,
Kim tvāmrite janani to prabhavanti kārye

137:7 The sacrifice done with ghee poured into fire.

137:8 Alpadhiyah.

137:9 The mantra used in homa.


Svāhā nacet tamasi te kathamāpuraddhā,
Tvām eva kim nahi ya janti tato hi mudhah

137:11 Here apparently trees and the like, as contrasted with the animal world. She allots the karma (N).

138:1 The Devas, Her children.

138:2 That is, the Devī does not slay even the Daityas for the mere savage pleasure of killing, and even those whom She slays are slain by Her for the good of the world and their own good, that being slain by Her hand they may go to heaven (see next verse). The Kumārasambhavam says that a man cannot cut down even a poisonous tree if planted by his own hand.

138:3 Devānganāsuratakelimating viditvā.

138:4 That is, a celestial body. For, as Daityas do not perform sacrificial rites, etc., so they cannot gain heaven. But when killed by the hand of the Devī, thither they go to their enjoyment, and Devas are protected.

139:1 Sons of Danu. Enemies of the Devas.

139:2 Krīḍarasa that is, līlā.

139:3 Krīḍārasastava nachānyatarotrahetuh (cf. the Vedantic sutra okavattulīlā kaivalyam).

139:4 Viṣṇu and Śiva.


Dhūrttaīh purāṇa caturairhari śankarānām,
Sevāparāshcha vihitāstava nirmitānām

[paragraph continues] Men, the verse says, thus worship the creature instead of the Creatrix.


Jnātvā surāmstava vashān asurārddhitāngshcha,
Yevai bhajanti bhuvi bhāvayuta vimagnāu,
Dhritvā kare suvimalang khalū dipakangte,
Kupe patanti manujā vijaletighore

(See also Umāsanghitā.)

140:2 Knowledge and nescience, the source of nivritti and pravritti, with the latter's attendant miseries.

140:3 Kilamandadhibirnārāditā janani bhogaparaistathājnaih.

140:4 Devas.


Tadvai nayelpa matayo manasā bhajanti,
Bhrāntāh patanti satatam bhavasāgarete

141:1 Nīlakantha derives the word from chadi ("the wrathful one fearful to the whole world"). Śruti says of the Brahman: Mahadbhayam vajramudhyatam ("great fear and a ready thunderbolt")

141:2 Viṣṇu.

141:3 Śiva.

141:4 Sarasvatī is She who causes speech. Sound springing from the Mūlādhāra wherein is Devī Kuṇḍalinī proceeds from the stage of mere sound (para), the potentiality of growth in the seed to that of Paśyantī, when the latter begins to sprout; then to Madhyamā, when the first two small leaves appear but inseparate, and lastly, as Vaikharī, when they separate, remaining united only at their base.

141:5 Viṣṇu.

141:6 The Ṛṣi of that name.

142:1 The Matsya, Kūrma, Varāha, and Nrisingha avatāra of Viṣṇu.

142:2 Chalakrit, which Nīlakantha says = Vāmana Avatāra of Viṣṇu. Chalakrit, because Balirāja was deceived by him.

142:3 Śiva, who retired into the forest after the death of Satī, and who was powerless to protect even his own linga.

142:4 Śiva.

142:5 Gaṇeśa, son of Śiva, so powerless.

142:6 Devī is (as the Lalitā, verse 133, also says), "easily worshipped" (sukhā-rādhyā), without bodily pain by fasting etc., without restrictions on. the mode of meditation. In the Karma Pr. the Lord describes to Himavat an easy mode of worship if he be unable to meditate on the Supreme Form. The Devī is also "easily pleased" (Lalitā, verse 162, kṣipraprasādinī)--that is, even by a little worship as the Saura and Śiva Purāṇas say of the Lord of Umā, with whom the Devī is one.

143:1 Garvabhāvāt.

143:2 Devī is "all-bewildering" (Sarvamohinī). In Karma Pr., Śiva says: "This Māyā is dear to me by which the world is bewildered. I bewilder the whole universe with the Devas, Daityas, and men." The operation of the tāmasika guṇa veils from them the truth.

143:3 The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa says: "That Divine Devī Mahāmāyā forcibly draws away the minds of even the sages (Munis), and leads them into confusion."

143:4 Because they are pratyakṣadevatā--that is, visible, and She, the supreme ground of them, is beyond vision, mind, and speech.

143:5 The reading of much śruti (revelation) teaches them nothing, for their ignorance conceals from them its true meaning.

144:1 Paramārthatattva. Śankhya says that there are two different kinds of artha or object. One is bhoga (enjoyment), the second, which is the supreme object (paramārtha) is mokṣa (liberation). The one exists in the current issuing from Devī (Avidyā), the other returns on the other current, which draws to the Devī (Vidyā).

144:2 Śiva.

144:3 The Sun (Sūrya).

144:4 Here used generally for Śāstra, though also used in a special sense as denoting Veda and Tantra, to the latter of which, Nīlakantha perhaps refers. Nānātantraihmohakaih ("many deluding Tantras"). The reference is here to the dualistic scriptures.

144:5 Svabuddhirachitairvividhāgamaishcha ("composed by themselves").

144:6 Mohamantranipunām.

145:1 According to Nīlakantha, Brāhmanas.

145:2 Literally, "said by themselves" (svoktāgamaih)--that is as Nīlakantha says, puruṣapranitāgamaih (or Āgamas composed by men and not revealed by Śiva).

145:3 Viṣṇu and Śiva who are themselves only the children of the Mother, and as much creatures, though of the highest kind, as others are.

145:4 The first and best of the four ages: Satya, Tretā, Dvāpara, and Kalī, the commonly supposed present age. In the second, virtue (dharma) decreased by a quarter, in the third by a half, and in the present or Kalī age only a quarter of dharma remains.

145:5 The guṇa, which manifests on the moral plane as goodness.

145:6 Literally, "bad Āgama," a name applied by some to the Tantra of the "downward current" (arddharetas), but here has a general significance to all Śāstra, whether Tantra or otherwise, of a dualistic character (asachchhāstrāni).


Tūrye yuge bhavati chātibalang gun.asya,
Turyasyatena māthitānyasadāgamāni tvam,
Gopayanti nipunāh kavayah kalauvai
Tatkalpitān suraganā napi sangstuvanti

[paragraph continues] "Imagined by them" (tatkalpitān). This does not mean that the Devas do not exist. Hari, Hara, Īśa, Gaṇeśa, Bhāskara, and others have been mentioned in previous verses. The verse is stutivāda, in which that which is its direct object, is dealt with to p. 146 the exclusion of all others. What is meant is that She alone is to be worshipped and not any other. Kalpanā is to mistake one thing for another. Thus the world is taken (kalpitā) to be real when the Brahman alone is so. And so, too, mother-of-pearl is mistaken for silver (shuktirajatakalpanā), or a rope for a snake (rajjusarpakalpanā); so people take the Devas to be the ultimate object of worship when it is only the Devī whose manifestations they are, who is such.

146:1 Sages.

146:2 See Introduction.

146:3 Yogasiddhām. The manifested Devī as Umā was a great yoginī.

146:4 Are never reborn. According to Hindu ideas the child suffers great pain and misery in the womb of its mother, the remembrance of which is lost on its birth into the world.

146:5 That is, caitanya (Nīlakantha). See the Samkṣepaśāriraka.

146:6 In name and form (nāmarūpātmaka.).

146:7 Bhavakrityakartā. Literally, "performer of worldly action"--that is, those stated. For, according to Vedānta and Nyāya, it works therein by its Śakti, though in Śankhya the Puruṣa is merely an enjoyer, spectator, and witness (bhoktā, draṣtā, sākṣī).

147:1 Cf. Dakṣinamūrtisamhitā.

147:2 The twenty-four beginning with Mahat.

147:3 Vide ante.

147:4 Jarāni; mere matter but for the informing life of the Goddess.

147:5 The so-called "senses" of knowledge (Jnānendriya), viz.: Cakṣu (eye), Śrotra (ear), ghrāṇa (smell), rasanā (tongue), tvak (skin) and of action (karmendriya); viz., Vak (speech), pāni (hand), pāda (feet), pāyu (anus), upastha (genitals).

147:6 Indriyāni guṇakarmayutāni. Thus, form (rūpa) is the guṇa or object (viṣaya) of the eye, and darśana (or seeing), its function (karma).

147:7 The Mantra used in Agnikriyā and wife of Agni.

147:8 If the Mantra Svāhā, which is the Devī, be not said, then the Devas get nothing from the homa. Their Śastric portion they obtain by virtue only of the Devī as Svāhā, the cause thereof.

148:1 The Devī protects the Devas, and if the Devas are maintained, then the whole world is maintained, as the Devas are Her agents in the maintenance thereof.

148:2 Manujā, which here, according to Nīlakantha, includes Devas.

148:3 The Demon Mahiṣa.

148:4 Gatingtava yathārthatayā na jagmuh.

149:1 The hymn concluding, Devībhāgavata continues, Vyāsa said: "Devī, thus praised, said in soft, sweet voice, 'Oh, best of Devas, tell Me what other thing most difficult and hard to accomplish you would have Me do?'"

Next: Durgā (Mahābhārata Virāṭa Parvan)