The following is a transcription of a discourse delivered by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja in Los Angeles, California on June 4, 1998


Today is the auspicious day of the Gaṅgā (Ganges River) coming to this world. Who is Gaṅgā? Gaṅgā has two forms. One form is coming from the lotus feet of Lord Vāmanadeva.* His lotus feet were worshipped by Lord Brahmā, who washed them with the water of the Causal Ocean. Brahmā placed that water in his kamaṇḍalū (water pot), and from there King Bhagīratha brought it to this world.** (Bhagīratha was the king who performed austerities to bring the Ganges to Earth, to save his ancestors.)

There is another history, which is in the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa. Gaṅgā is a sakhī, a gopī like Lalitā, Viśākhā, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, Candrāvalī and others like them. One day Śrī Kṛṣṇa was sitting with Gaṅgā-sakhī, and He was engaged in some pleasant talks. In the meantime Śrīmatī Rādhikā came and saw them, and She thought, “Oh, Kṛṣṇa is meeting with Gaṅgā-sakhī?”

Lord Kṛṣṇa became ashamed and Gaṅgā also became ashamed. She melted and became water, and Kṛṣṇa did as well. This ashamed Gaṅgā became water, and one drop of that water became the Virajā River (Causal Ocean) – the dividing line between Vaikuṇṭha and this material world. Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is sleeping in that Ocean, and Lakṣmī-devī is massaging Him.***

This can be compared with Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes at Prema-sarovara in Vṛndāvana. Do you know this pastime? Both Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Kṛṣṇa became Prema-sarovara.**** Gaṅgā-sakhī melted in this way – she also remained present in her transcendental body.

So one drop became Virajā, wherein Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu resides. Then, when Lord Vāmanadeva’s foot reached Brahma-loka, Lord Brahmā took some water from that Causal Ocean and washed the lotus feet of Vāmanadeva. That bathing water then became the River Ganges in this world. On Earth the Ganges is called Bhāgīrathī, in heaven, Mandākinī, and in Pātāla-loka, Bhogavatī. Thus, this Gaṅgā (Ganges) is Gaṅgā-sakhī also.

Certain people say that if Ganges is the foot water of Lord Kṛṣṇa as Lord Vāmanadeva, how can we then offer it to Kṛṣṇa or Nārāyaṇa or any other deity? They say that one cannot offer foot water in their worship to anyone. This is a wrong idea. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s feet, head, eyes, and so on are all the same. Kṛṣṇa’s remnants are also Kṛṣṇa.

mahā-prasāde govinde
nāma-brahmaṇi vaiṣṇave
svalpa-puṇyavatāṁ rājan
viśvāso naiva jāyate

(Skanda Purāṇa)

[“Persons who are not very highly elevated in pious activities cannot believe in the remnants of food of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor in Govinda, the holy name of the Lord, nor in the Vaiṣṇavas.”]

What is the meaning? All these are Kṛṣṇa.

If someone is taking mahā-prasādam, and he is thinking that by taking mahā-prasādam he has now become impure, this means he has no faith in mahā-prasādam. We should not think like this. A devotee like Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī will not wash himself after he has taken mahā-prasādam. Rather, he will smear it over his body with his hands and think, “Oh I am so fortunate to receive mahā-prasādam. Of course we should not do this; we cannot imitate the mahā-bhāgavata.

Kaniṣṭha-adhikārīs have some doubt. They think, “How can we enter Ṭhakūrajī’s mandira (temple) and offer Him foodstuffs unless we wash first?” We know that these are remnants of Kṛṣṇa, but remnants of Kṛṣṇa are also Kṛṣṇa. You should come to this stage – believe in this way. Of course, if you are not at this stage, you should wash your hands and then go to the temple. At the same time, never think, “I have become impure.”

The water of Gaṅgā can be placed in the abhiṣeka (bathing water) of Kṛṣṇa. It can be poured on the head of Kṛṣṇa, and it can also be offered to Him as a drink – no harm. In Jagannātha Purī, the smārta-brāhmaṇas**** never offer the water of the Gaṅgā to Lord Jagannātha. This is because they are smārta. They are offensive to Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. They have dug a well near the Jagannātha Purī temple, and all water for worship is supplied from that well – not from Gaṅgā. If anyone brings Gaṅgā water, the smārta priests will not give it to Ṭhākurajī, the deity. We don’t think like smārta-brāhmaṇas; we are bhaktas – devotees.

Mahā-prasāde govinde, nāma-brahmaṇi vaiṣṇave.” All these – mahā-prasāda, pure Vaiṣṇavas, pure brāhmaṇas, the holy name – are Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself; they are not different, but there are some specialities in each. The mahā-prasādam remnants of Kṛṣṇa are more powerful than Kṛṣṇa Himself. Vaiṣṇavas are also more powerful than Kṛṣṇa Himself.

Kṛṣṇa cannot come to us. We cannot see Him, but we can see Vaiṣṇavas. Vaiṣṇavas are the embodiment of the full mercy of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa has to follow some rules and regulations so that He can come to us or so that we can see Him, but Vaiṣṇavas and mahā-prasādam are causelessly merciful.

Mahā-prasāde govinde, nāma.” Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s holy names are more powerful than Kṛṣṇa Himself. He has invested all His power therein.

nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis
tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ
etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavan mamāpi
durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgaḥ

(Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam verse 2)

[“ ‘My Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name there is all good fortune for the living entity, and therefore You have many names, such as “Kṛṣṇa” and “Govinda,” by which You expand Yourself. You have invested all Your potencies in those names, and there are no hard and fast rules for remembering them. My dear Lord, although You bestow such mercy upon the fallen, conditioned souls by liberally teaching Your holy names, I am so unfortunate that I commit offences while chanting the holy name, and therefore I do not achieve attachment for chanting.’]

Kṛṣṇa has to think, “What is the proper time to give My darśana to (anyone)? What is the proper qualification [anyone] must have to receive My darśana? However, Nāma-deva (the personality of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s holy names) comes even to offenders. Anyone can chant Kṛṣṇa’s holy name, day or night, having taking bath or not. Even while someone is passing stool, he can chant Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s name. We cannot take darśana of Kṛṣṇa or worship Him in an impure state, but the holy name and mahā-prasādam are causelessly merciful. We should think like this.

Now it is eight pm, so we will end here. Starting tomorrow, we will explain Bhakti-tattva-viveka in the mornings and Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta in the evenings.

* [“When Śrī Vāmanadeva took the universe away from Bali Mahārāja, His lotus foot went through the universal covering and touched the Causal Ocean. A drop of that Causal Ocean thus came into the universe as the Ganges.” (from Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja’s Australia 2000 lecture on Gaṅgāmātā Ṭhākurāṇī)]

** [“Following the instructions of the great sage Aurva, Sagara Mahārāja performed aśvamedha sacrifices and thus satisfied the Supreme Lord, who is the supreme controller, the Supersoul of all learned scholars, and the knower of all Vedic knowledge, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But Indra, the King of heaven, stole the horse meant to be offered at the sacrifice. [King Sagara had two wives, Sumati and Keśinī.] The sons of Sumati, who were very proud of their prowess and influence, following the order of their father, searched for the lost horse. While doing so, they dug into the earth very extensively. Thereafter, in the northeastern direction, they saw the horse near the āśrama of Kapila Muni. “Here is the man who has stolen the horse,” they said. “He is staying there with closed eyes. Certainly he is very sinful. Kill him! Kill him!” Shouting like this, the sons of Sagara, sixty thousand altogether, raised their weapons. When they approached the sage, the sage opened His eyes (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 9.8.7.-10)

“By the influence of Indra, the King of heaven, the sons of Sagara had lost their intelligence and disrespected a great personality. Consequently, fire emanated from their own bodies, and they were immediately burned to ashes (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 9.8.11).
The material body is a combination of earth, water, fire, air and ether. There is already fire within the body, and our practical experience is that the heat of this fire sometimes increases and sometimes decreases. The fire within the bodies of the sons of Sagara Mahārāja became so much hotter that all of them burned to ashes. The fire’s increased heat was due to their misbehaviour toward a great personality. Such misbehaviour is called mahad-vyatikrama. They were killed by the fire of their own bodies because of insulting a great personality.

Keśinī, the second wife of King Sagara, had a son named Asamañjasa, whose son Aṁśumān later searched for the horse and delivered his uncles. Upon approaching Kapiladeva, Aṁśumān saw both the horse meant for sacrifice and a pile of ashes. Aṁśumān offered prayers to Kapiladeva, who was very pleased by his prayers and who returned the horse. After getting back the horse, however, Aṁśumān still stood before Kapiladeva, and Kapiladeva could understand that Aṁśumān was praying for the deliverance of his forefathers. Thus Kapiladeva offered the instruction that they could be delivered by water from the Ganges. Aṁśumān then offered respectful obeisances to Kapiladeva, circumambulated Him, and left that place with the horse for sacrifice. When King Sagara finished his yajña, he handed over the kingdom to Aṁśumān and, following the advice of Aurva, attained salvation (Excerpt from the chapter summary of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Ninth Canto, Chapter 8).

The son of Mahārāja Aṁśumān was Dilīpa, who tried to bring the Ganges to this world but who died without success. Bhagīratha, the son of Dilīpa, was determined to bring the Ganges to the material world, and for this purpose he underwent severe austerities. Mother Ganges, being fully satisfied by his austerities, made herself visible to him, wanting to give him a benediction. Bhagīratha then asked her to deliver his forefathers. Although mother Ganges agreed to come down to earth, she made two conditions: first, she wanted some suitable male to be able to control her waves; second, although all sinful men would be freed from sinful reactions by bathing in the Ganges, mother Ganges did not want to keep all these sinful reactions. These two conditions were subject matters for consideration. Bhagīratha replied to mother Ganges, “The Personality of Godhead Lord Śiva will be completely able to control the waves of your water, and when pure devotees bathe in your water, the sinful reactions left by sinful men will be counteracted.” Bhagīratha then performed austerities to satisfy Lord Śiva, who is called Āśutoṣa because he is naturally satisfied very easily. Lord Śiva agreed to Bhagīratha’s proposal to check the force of the Ganges. In this way, simply by the touch of the Ganges, Bhagīratha’s forefathers were delivered and allowed to go to the heavenly planets (Excerpt from the chapter summary of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Ninth Canto, Chapter 9).

“The great and saintly king Bhagīratha brought the Ganges, which can deliver all the fallen souls, to that place on earth where the bodies of his forefathers lay burnt to ashes (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 9.9.10).

“Because the sons of Sagara Mahārāja had offended a great personality, the heat of their bodies had increased, and they were burnt to ashes. But simply by being sprinkled with water from the Ganges, all of them became eligible to go to the heavenly planets. What then is to be said of those who use the water of mother Ganges to worship her (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 9.9.12)?”]

*** [“That original Personality of Godhead, named Saṅkarṣaṇa, first lies down in the river Virajā, which serves as a border between the material and the spiritual world. As Kāraṇābdhiśāyī Viṣṇu, He is the original cause of the material creation. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.268)]

**** [Once, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, surrounded by Lalitā and the other sakhīs, were immersed in various kinds of loving pastimes when a bumblebee hovered around the beautiful lotus face of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Thinking Her face to be a lotus flower, the bee wanted to sit there and drink its nectar; so it continued to hover around Her face. Śrīmatījī became afraid and covered Her face with Her palms. She also tried to chase the bee away but to no avail. Madhumaṅgala saw Śrīmatī Rādhikā ’s distress and chased the bumblebee far away with his stick. Upon his return, he announced, “I have chased madhusūdana far away from here. He has gone and will not return.” When Śrīmatī Rādhikā heard Madhumaṅgala’s words, She at once thought that Madhusūdana Kṛṣṇa had gone away and had left Her, although She was sitting directly in Kṛṣṇa’s lap. She began to lament, deeply afflicted by separation from Him. She could not, at that instant, understand that madhusūdana also means “bumblebee”. She wept and repeatedly cried out, “Oh, Prāṇanātha, where have You gone? Oh, Lord of My life, where have You gone?”

Upon seeing these amazing transcendental sentiments known as prema-vaicittya, in His beloved Rādhikā, Kṛṣṇa also forgot that She was sitting on His lap. He too wept and cried, “O My beloved!” and They both fainted. The tears that flowed from Their eyes and the perspiration that poured from Their bodies created this pond. When the sakhīs saw Their condition, they too became senseless. Śrīmatī ’s female parrot began to loudly chant Śrī Rādhā ’s name, and the male parrot began to loudly chant Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s name. As They heard each other’s name, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa regained external consciousness and gazed upon each other with great yearning. Gradually, the sakhīs also regained consciousness and in boundless bliss began to call out, “Jaya, jaya!” The poet Śrī Mādhurījī describes this pastime in a very charming way.

After this incident, Śrī Kṛṣṇa thought to Himself, “Although I remain close by My beloved Śrīmatī Rādhikā, I am unable to pacify the suffering She experiences in separation from Me. The heat of impending separation constantly scorches Her, and I see no means to console Her. When I am far away from Her, She constantly thinks of Me out of separation from Me. She becomes so absorbed in transcendental emotions that She laughingly talks to tamāla trees, thinking them to be Me, and plays with Her sakhīs. And sometimes She displays māna. In contrast, when I am close to Her, She is overwhelmed by a feeling of separation from Me, and She becomes distressed and cries. In this condition, I cannot console Her, even if I am right beside Her.

“Thus, Śrī Rādhā can only be consoled when I am far away from Her. In this state of separation, Her fire of separation can be somewhat pacified upon having an internal transcendental vision (sphūrti ) of Me or beholding objects like the tamāla tree that possesses a lustre similar to My own. This is because She actually considers them to be Me, Her dear most beloved.” Thinking in this way, Kṛṣṇa secretly decided to leave for a distant place. This is the main reason why He left Vṛndāvana to go to Mathurā and Dvārakā.

The transcendental sentiment that Śrīmatī Rādhikā displays here is the topmost mādana-bhāva, which is found only in Her. It does not manifest even in Lalitā and the other sakhīs. In this mādana-bhāva, feelings of separation (vipralambha) and meeting (sambhoga), as well as all other mutually opposed bhāvas, are present simultaneously in an astonishing way. (Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala Parikramā)]

**** [“Sarvabha Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was previously a smārta-brāhmaṇa – that is, one who strictly follows the Vedic principles on the mundane platform. On the mundane platform one cannot believe that prasāda is transcendental, that Govinda is the original form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or that a Vaiṣṇava is a liberated person. These transcendental considerations are out of the ordinary Vedic scholar’s jurisdiction. Most Vedic scholars are called Vedāntists. These so-called followers of Vedānta philosophy consider the Absolute Truth to be impersonal. They also believe that a person born in a particular caste cannot change his caste until he dies and takes rebirth. The smārta-brāhmaṇas also reject the fact that mahā-prasāda (food offered to the Deity) is transcendental and materially uncontaminated. Originally, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was subjected to all the rules and regulations of the Vedic principles on the mundane platform. Now Gopīnātha Ācārya pointed out how Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya had been converted by the causeless mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Being converted, Sārvabhauma partook of prasāda with the Vaiṣṇavas. Indeed, he sat by the side of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 12.180, purport)

“A smārta-brāhmaṇa is always interested in material profit, whereas a Vaiṣṇava is interested only in satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 8.9.33)]

The following eulogy was translated from Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākurera Prabandhāvalī, Published in Rays of The Harmonist (Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team for Issue No. 21, Gaura Pūrṇimā 2010)


Eulogy to Śrī Gaṅgā-devī

By Śrīla Saccidānanda Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura

By bringing Gaṅgā to the earth, Bhagīratha Ṛṣī liberated his forefathers. Since that time, the many scriptures have extensively broadcasted Gaṅgā-devī’s glories. Those who do not honour Gaṅgā, mock the scriptures’ words.

Recently (sometime in the late 1800s) one very famous and erudite American chemist exalted our Bhāgīrathī Gaṅgā. He had been in India just a few days before and, after analyzing the Ganges water for micro-bacteria, he reported that Ganges water is completely pure. There was neither any trace of contamination nor any microbial bacteria polluting it.

In contrast, all rivers and streams throughout the world are presently contaminated by a profuse amount of such pollutants. But India’s Gaṅgā is completely devoid of these faults and is pure in every respect. After microscopic analysis of a vessel of Ganges water, the chemist came to know that the glories of the Gaṅgā, as stated in Hindu scriptures, are all very real.

When he returned to his country, he published the results of this great discovery in numerous major newspapers. Also, he stated that it is not only Gaṅgā that is so pure, but all the rivers that are connected to Gaṅgā, as well. He established this through specific methods of analysis.

If the glories of the Gaṅgā had not been proclaimed in scripture, as they have been, but instead had been written according to the opinions of scientists, then the common, innocent man would not have come to revere Gaṅgā to the same extent as we see now. The respected authors of our scriptures, who were nobly dedicated to dharma, have brought the immaculate moods of pure religion to the forefront in all matters. There has been so much benefit as a consequence.

Had these authors instead prescribed life’s injunctions and laws on the grounds of the dry, lifeless soil of mundane science, then the religious moods of India, it seems, could never have spread throughout the world to the extent they have.

It would be insufficient to consider Gaṅgā-devī’s glories from the material perspective alone. The material world is comprised of twenty-four elemental principles, or tattvas. The jīva himself constitutes the twenty-fifth tattva. The jīvas gross, physical body is made up of the twenty-four material tattvas while the ātmā of the jīva, the twenty-fifth tattva, transcends these. And since the jiva is beyond material energy (prakṛti), he is known as transcendental or incorporeal (aprākṛta). The Supreme Absolute Spirit (Parabrahma) is also an entirely transcendental tattva. Another name of Parabrahma is Viṣṇu: tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padam – that Viṣṇu resides in His supreme, transcendental abode (Ṛg Veda 1.22.20). This point appears repeatedly throughout the Vedas. Śrī Gaṅgā-devī has sprung from the lotus feet of Viṣṇu, who resides in His own supreme abode. Hence, all of the scriptures approve when the corporeal glories of Gaṅgā, as observed within the existence of her water, are discovered.

The American scholar, along with the authors of so many magazines and newspapers, has merely been enchanted by Gaṅgā’s corporeal glories, but there is unlimited glory present in Gaṅgā-devī, beyond her worldly glories. The assembly of śuddha bhaktas (pure devotees) have revealed that if someone resides near the Gaṅgā and drinks her water, hari-bhakti will manifest in his heart. This is so because the water that emanates from the transcendental lotus feet of the supremely merciful Śrī Viṣṇu has the power to awaken bhakti to the lotus feet of Śrī Hari (Viṣṇu). Vyāsa and the other great saints have sung this truth everywhere.

The living entities who have been overshadowed by contamination are painfully wallowing in total forgetfulness of Śrī Hari. But when they immerse themselves in the waters of the Gaṅgā and sing about the qualities of Śrī Hari, bhakti awakens in their hearts. Only fortunate souls can realize these principal qualities of Gaṅgā, while the realizations of unfortunate souls remain confined solely to Gaṅgā’s material qualities.

In answer to the doubt that many people repeatedly take a bath in the Gaṅgā and drink her waters constantly but still never do hari-bhajana, it can be said that qualities from one object can only be transmitted to one that does not obstruct their transmission.

Electricity can only be transmitted into an object that is a good conductor of electricity, not into an object that is a bad conductor. Similarly, among the jīvas, those who commit certain severe offences become bad conductors of bhakti, which is here likened to electricity. Just as those who perform sinful activities on the strength of chanting the holy name are severe offenders to the holy name (nāma-aparādhīs), those who perform sinful activities with the expectation that Gaṅgā-devī’s glorious waters will purify them of their sins, are terrible offenders.

All types of sins are washed away by bathing in Gaṅgā, yet the aparādha just mentioned is not nullified in the same way. Those who commit this aparādha become bad conductors and are unable to realize the unlimited glories of the Gaṅgā. Consequently, most people these days cannot realize Gaṅgā’s transcendental potency; they simply perceive, by their mundane intelligence, the material composition of her water.

Śrī Gaṅgā-stotram

Śrīmad Śaṅkarācārya

devi! sureśvari! bhagavati! gaṅge!
tri-bhutvana-tāriṇi! tarala-taraṅge
śaṅkara-mauli-nivāsini! vimale!
mama matir āstāṁ tava pada-kamale (1)

O brilliant goddess! O sovereign of all the demigods! O Bhagavati, dearly beloved of the Supreme Lord! O Gaṅgā, who brings liberation to the three worlds! Your waves are playful, and you reside on Lord Śaṅkara’s (Śiva’s) crown. O immaculate one! May my attention be fixed upon your lotus-like feet.

bhāgirathi! sukha-dāyini! māt-
stava jala-mahimā nigame-khyātaḥ
nāhaṁ jāne tava mahimānaṁ
trāhi kṛpāmayi! māmajñānam (2)

O Bhāgirathī, who answered the prayers of King Bhāgiratha! O Mother, who bestows bliss! The glory of your holy waters is described in the Vedas. I am entirely ignorant of your magnificence. O merciful one, please save this dullard!

hari-pādapadma-vihariṇi! gaṅge!
dūri-kuru mama duṣkṛiti-bhāraṁ
kuru kṛpayā bhava-sāgara-pāram (3)

O Gaṅgā, who frolics at Śrī Hari’s lotus feet! Your waves are as white as snow, as white as the moon, and as white as pearls. Please eradicate the burden of my sins. Mercifully carry me across the ocean of material existence.

tava jalam amalaṁ yena nipītaṁ
parama-padam khalu tena gṛhītam
mātar gaṅge! tvayi yo bhaktaḥ
kila taṁ draṣṭuṁ na yamaḥ śaktaḥ (4)

Anyone who drinks your pure water attains the highest destination. O Mother Gaṅgā, Yama, the god of death, cannot even look at that person who is devoted to you.

patitoddhāriṇi! jāhnavi! gaṅge!
bhīṣma-jananī! khalu muni-vara-kanye!
patita-nivāriṇi! tri-bhuvana-dhanye! (5)

O saviour of the fallen! O Gaṅgā, daughter of the sage Jahnu! Your streams are adorned by the best of mountains. O mother of Bhīṣma! You are indeed the daughter of the best of sages. O saviour of the fallen! You are glorious throughout the three worlds.

kalpa-latām iva phala-dāṁ loke
praṇamati yas tvāṁ na patati śoke
pārāvāra-vihāriṇi! mātar gaṅge!
vibudha-vanitā-kṛta-taralāpāṅge! (6)

You fulfil one’s desires just like a wish-fulfilling creeper. He who offers respect to you never perishes in grief. O Mother Gaṅgā, who frisks between two banks! The wives of the demigods restlessly glance at you from the corners of their eyes.

tava kṛpayā cet srotaḥ-snātaḥ
punar api jaṭhare so ‘pi na jātaḥ
naraka-nivāriṇi! jāhnavi! gaṅge!
kaluṣa-vināśinī! mahimottuṅge! (7)

If by your mercy a person chances to bathe in your waters, he never takes birth from a mother’s womb again. O Gaṅgā, daughter of sage Jahnu, you save one from hell and eliminate one’s sinful reactions. You are always at the pinnacle of glory.

punar asad-aṅge! puṇya-taraṅge!
jaya jaya jāhnavi! karuṇāpāṅge!
śukha-de! śubha-de! sevaka-śaraṇe! (8

Your body consists of numerous rivers, and your waves are holy. Glory, glory to you, O Jāhnavi, whose whole body is comprised of compassion! Indra’s crown, studded with precious stones, always decorates your feet. O you who bestow happiness and goodness, you are the shelter of your servants.

rogaṁ śokaṁ tāpaṁ pāpaṁ
hara me bhagavati! kumati-kalāpam
tri-bhuvana-sāre! vasudhā-hāre!
tvam asi gatir mama khalu saṁsāre (9)

O Bhagavati, please take away my disease, grief, suffering, sins, and delusion. Your presence is essential in the three worlds. You are the precious necklace embellishing the earth. You are doubtlessly my only shelter in the repeated cycle of birth and death.

alakānande! paramānande!
kuru mayi karuṇāṁ kātara-vandye!
tava taṭa-nikaṭe yasya nivāsaḥ
khalu vaikuṇṭhe tasya nivāsaḥ (10)

O Alakānanda who descends from the Himālayas! O you who personify supreme bliss! Please bestow mercy upon me, for you are worshipped by all the wretched. Whoever lives on your banks indisputably resides in the transcendental abode of Vaikuṇṭha.

varam iha nīre kamaṭho mīnaḥ
kiṁ vā tīre śaraṭaḥ kṣīṇaḥ
atha vā gavyūti-śvapaco dīnas
tava na hi dūre nṛ-patiḥ-kulīnaḥ (11)

It is better to be a turtle or fish in your waters, a tiny lizard on your banks, or even a wretched dog-eater living within two krośas (four square miles) from you, than to be a king of noble lineage who lives far from you.

bho bhuvaneśvari! puṇye! dhanye!
devi! dravamayi! munivara-kanye!
gaṅgā-stavam imam amalaṁ nityaṁ
paṭhati naro yaḥ sa jayati satyam (12)

O Lady of the universe! O blessed one! O glorious one! O goddess, whose form is liquid! O daughter of the best of sages! That person who always recites this impeccable prayer in praise of Gaṅgā-devī truly gains victory.

yeṣāṁ hṛdaye gaṅgā-bhaktis
teṣāṁ bhavati sadā sukha-muktiḥ
paramānanda-kalita-lalitābhiḥ (13)

gaṅgā-stotram idaṁ bhava-sāraṁ
vāñchita-phala-daṁ vigalita-bhāram
paṭhati ca vinayīdam iti samāptam (14)

Bliss and liberation are the property of those whose heart is the abode of devotion to Gaṅgā. The amazing verses of this Gaṅgāstotra, which are saturated with supreme bliss, are written by Śaṅkarācārya, the servant of Lord Śaṅkara, in the enchanting meter known as pajjhatika.

This stotra bestows the desired result and liberates one from all types of burden. Thus ends this prayer, which is chanted regularly by gentle persons. (Śrī Gauḍīya Gīti-guccha, An Anthology of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Songs – Abridged Edition, 7th Edition, February 2016)


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Unless indicated differently, all verse translations and quotes are from the books by Śrīla Prabhupāda (

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