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

p. 195




ALAS! I know not either Thy mantra 1 or yantra, 2
Nor how to welcome Thee, 3
Or how to meditate upon, nor words of prayer to Thee,
Nor do I know Thy mudrā4

p. 196

Or how to lay before Thee my griefs;
But this I know, O Mother!
That to follow Thee is to remove all my pain.


By my ignorance of Thy commands.
By my poverty 1 and sloth,
I had not the power to do that which I should have done,
Hence my omission to worship Thy feet.
But, O Mother! auspicious Deliverer of all.
All this should be forgiven,
For a bad son may sometimes be born, but a bad mother never. 2


O Mother! Thou hast many worthy sons on earth,
But I, your son, am of no worth;
Yet it is not meet that Thou should’st abandon me,
For a bad son may sometimes be born, but a bad mother never.


O Mother of the world, O Mother!
I have not worshipped Thy feet,
Nor have I given abundant wealth to Thee;
Yet the affection which Thou bestoweth on me is without compare,
For a bad son may sometimes be born, but a bad mother never.


I have abandoned the worship of other Devas

p. 197

Because of the variety and confusion of the injunctions relating to their worship.
I am no more than eighty-five years of age, 1
If Thou will not bestow Thy kindness on me,
What shelter have I without Thy support,
O Mother of the big-bellied Deva! 2


Prayer, sweet as the sweet melon
Makes even a dog-eater 3 perfect;
Even a beggar walks without fear
With crores 4 of gold pieces.
O Aparṇā! 5 this is the fruit of Thy mantra entering their ears.
Who can say, O Mother!
The fruit which is born of the recitation 6 of Thy mantra?


He who is besmeared with the ashes of the funeral pyre, 7
He who swallowed poison, 8

p. 198

Who is clothed with space, 1
With matted hair, garlanded with the Lord of Serpents,
The Lord of men, 2
The Lord of Ghosts 3 holding a skull in His hands.
Owes his great states as Lord of the World
To his acceptance of Thee as His Spouse, O Bhavānī! 4


No desire have I for liberation, Nor have I desire for wealth, Nor wish for knowledge,
O Moon-faced One! neither have I wish for happiness!
But this only I beg of Thee,
That my life may pass in the recitation of these words:
Mridānī, 5 Rudrāṇī, 6 Śiva, Śivé, Bhavānī. 4


I have not according to the injunctions laid down therefor

p. 199

Worshipped Thee with the various articles 1 of worship.
What is there which I have not wrongly done or omitted in my meditations on the Brahman?
O Dark One! 2 it will be but fitting on Thy part
If Thou bestoweth not kindness on me, helpless though I am.


O Durgā, 3 our Lady! O Ocean of mercy!
When overwhelmed by danger 4 I remember Thee.
Think not, however, this to be deceit on my part,
For children afflicted by hunger and thirst ever remember their mother.


O Mother of the world! 5

p. 200

It is nothing wonderful if Thou art full of compassion for me;
A mother does not abandon her son
Even if he have an hundred faults.


There is no such great sinner like me,
There is no such destroyer of sin as Thou.
Now, Mahādevī, you have heard what I have to say,
It remains for Thee to do what may seem fitting to Thee.


195:1 Śabda is Brahman, and mantra the manifestation thereof. From manana arises realization of the monistic truth. Man of mantra comes from the first syllable of manana, and tra from trāna, or liberation from the bondage of the samsāra. That is called mantra which calls forth (āmantrana) the caturvarga, and which is the svarūpa of Devatā. (See Introduction to Tantra Śāstra and the Chapter on Mantra Tattva in Principles of Tantra.)

195:2 Ibid., The Tāntrik diagram which is worshipped in lieu of the image (pratimā). The Gāyatrī Yantra is figured on the cover of this work. Mantra is Devatā, and yantra is mantra, in that it is the body of the Devatā, who is mantra.

Yantram mantramayam proktam mantrātmā devataivahi
Dehātmanoryathā bhedo yantradevatayostathā
(Kaulavalīya Tantra).

"The substance of yantra is mantra. Devatā is mantra. As there is a distinction between body and ātmā, so there is between yantra and Devatā."

195:3 By the āvāhana mantra, always said in worship of the pratimā.

195:4 Ritual gesture, it being said; Devānām modadā mudrā tasmāttām yatnātścaret (see Introduction to Tantra Śāstra)"--"Mudrā is giver of pleasure to Devas, therefore it should be done with care."

196:1 Want of means to perform the proper worship.

196:2 A celebrated line; Kuputtro jāyetā kvacidapi kumātā nabhavati.

197:1 How is this stated if the hymn be the work of Śankarācārya, to whom it is attributed, for he is said to have died at the early age of thirty-two?

197:2 Lambodarajananī. The Deva is the elephant-headed Ganeśa.

197:3 That is, a low caste such as the Caṇḍāla, who eats any filth.

197:4 A crore is 100 lakhs; a lakh is 100,000.

197:5 See p. 182, note 3.

197:6 That is, japa, which is only recitation (in English) in its lowest form, the highest form being mental (mānasa) only. Japa, which is defined as vidhānenā mantroccaraṇam, is either vācaka, upāmshu, or mānasā (see Tantrasāra, 75 et seq.).

197:7 Śiva, to whom the rest of the attributes in this verse refer.

197:8 See p. 16, note 2.

198:1 Śiva is represented naked, as the Yogins, of whom He is the Master, ever are.

198:2 Paśupati. Paśu literally means animal, but men are also pas.

198:3 Bhūteśa, Śiva is surrounded by hosts of spirits.

198:4 See p. 180, note 1.

198:5 Mrida is a title of the sāttvika Śiva. She is His Spouse.

198:6 Devī is the Spouse of the countless Śivas called Rudras, in whom the tamoguna prevails. The dark (tamas) energy, called Raudrī, is said to be Cāmuṇḍā.

199:1 Upacāra. There are sixteen such, called the shoḍaśa pūjā upacāra--viz., (1) āsanam (seat); (2) svāgatam (welcome); (3) pādyam (water for feet) (4) Argyam (offering of water, durva grass, rice, etc.); (5) and (6) ācamanīyam; (water for sipping; twice); (7) madhuparka (honey, ghee, milk); (8) snānam (bathing); (9) vasanam (cloth); (10) ābharanam (jewels); (11) gandha (scent, sandal paste, etc.); (12) puṣpa (flowers); (13) dūpa (incense), (14) dīpa (lights); (15) naivedyam (food); (16) vandanam or namaskāra (prayer).

199:2 Śyāmā.

199:3 A great name of the Devī. The Devī Purāṇa says that She is so called because the Devas were delivered from fear in difficulty and battle; hence She is deliverer (Durgā). The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa and the Lakṣmī Tantra in the Pancarātra says: "In this place I shall kill a great Daitya (Titan) named Durgama. Hence my name shall be Durgā."

199:4 The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa says: When Thou art remembered in times of difficulty, Thou takest away all fear of all things."

199:5 Jagadambā.

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