The Ramayana/Book I/Canto XXXVI: The Birth of Gangá

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Ramayana of Valmiki by Valmiki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Book I — Canto XXXVI: The Birth of Gangá

The hours of night now waning fast
On S'ona's pleasant shore they passed.
Then, when the dawn began to break,
To Ráma thus the hermit spake:
'The light of dawn is breaking clear,
The hour of morning rites is near,
Rise, Ráma, rise, dear son, I pray,
And make thee ready for the way.'

Then Ráma rose, and finished all
His duties at the hermit's call,
Prepared with joy the road to take,
And thus again in question spake:
'Here fair and deep the S'ona flows,
And many an isle its bosom shows:
What way, O Saint, will lead us o'er
And land us on the farther shore?
The saint replied: 'The way I choose
Is that which pious hermits use.'

For many a league they journeyed on
Till, when the sun of mid-day shone,
The hermit-haunted flood was seen
Of Jáhnaví, [1] the Rivers' Queen.
Soon as the holy stream they viewed,
Thronged with a white-winged multitude
Of sarases [2] and swans, [3] delight
Possessed them at the lovely sight:
And then prepared the hermit band
To halt upon that holy strand.
They bathed as Scripture bids, and paid
Oblations due to God and shade.
To Fire they burnt the offerings meet,
And sipped the oil, like Amrit sweet.
Then pure and pleased they sate around
Saint Vis'vámitra on the ground.
The holy men of lesser note,
In due degree, sate more remote,
While Raghu's sons took nearer place
By virtue of their rank and race.
Then Ráma said: 'O Saint, I yearn
The three-pathed Gangá's tale to learn.'

Thus urged, the sage recounted both
The birth of Gangá and her growth:
'The mighty hill with metals stored,
Himálaya, is the mountains' lord,
The father of a lovely pair
Of daughters fairest of the fair:
Their mother, offspring of the will
Of Meru, everlasting hill,
Mená, Himálaya's darling, graced
With beauty of her dainty waist.
Gangá was elder-born: then came
The fair one known by Umá's name.
Then all the Gods of heaven, in need
Of Gangá's help their vows to speed,
To great Himálaya came and prayed
The mountain King to yield the maid.
He, not regardless of the weal
Of the three worlds, with holy zeal
His daughter to the Immortals gave,
Gangá whose waters cleanse and save,
Who roams at pleasure, fair and free,
Purging all sinners, to the sea.
The three-pathed Gangá thus obtained,
The Gods their heavenly homes regained.
Long time the sister Umá passed
In vows austere and rigid fast,
And the king gave the devotee
Immortal Rudra's [4] bride to be,
Matching with that unequalled Lord
His Umá through the worlds adored.
So now a glorious station fills

Each daughter of the King of Hills:
One honoured as the noblest stream,
One mid the Goddesses supreme.
Thus Gangá, King Himálaya's child,
The heavenly river, undefiled,
Rose bearing with her to the sky
Her waves that bless and purify.'


  1. One of the names of the Ganges considered as the daughter of Jahnu. See Canto XLIV.
  2. The Indian Crane.
  3. Or, rather, geese.
  4. A name of the God S'iva.