It was on Thy bank, O Maṇikarṇikā! 1
That Hari and Hara, givers of sāyujya mukti, 2
Disputed together at the departure festival 3 of a certain one.
Hari 4 said, "Let Him be like unto me;"
Whereon forthwith from within the body
Came forth Śiva mounted on Garuda, 5
In yellow garment, 1 with the mark of Bhrigu's foot on His breast. 2
Indra and the Thirty, 3 at the close of their period of enjoyment, 4'
Descend to earth again, 5
And are reborn as men, or even as beast, bird, or worm;
But those, O Mother Maṇikarṇikā! who plunge into thy waters,
Are freed from sins, and indeed in Sāyujya 6 man becomes
Nārāyaṇa 7 himself, with crown and Kaustubha gem. 8
Kāśi 1 is of all cities the most praiseworthy,
For it is the city of vimukti 2 adorned with Gangā.
There Maṇikarṇikā is the giver of happiness,
And Mukti itself is Her servant. 3
When Brahmā weighed Heaven with its Devas against Kāśi,
Kāśi, as the heavier, remained on earth,
But Heaven, the lighter, rose to the skies.
Nought is better than any part of the banks of Gangā,
But there, where Kāśi is, is the best,
And Maṇikarṇikā, where Īśvara gives mukti, is the best of all.
This place, inaccessible even to Devas,
Destroys a mass of sins.
Through many virtues acquired in previous births
Alone may it be attained, and by the pure only.
The multitude of being is immersed in the ocean of pain,
How may they gain release?
It was with this knowledge that Brahmā constructed the city of Vārānaśī, 4 which gives all bliss.
Men seek the happiness of Heaven.
But in so doing they but show small desire,
Since from Heaven they must fall again to earth
At the close of their appointed time of happiness. 1
But Kāśī is the city of liberation, 2
Ever beneficent, giving dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa. 3
He who holds the bamboo flute, 4 upholder of the mountain, 5
Who bears on his breast the Śrīvatsa 6 mark,
And Śiva, with venom in His throat, 7
Who bears Gangā upon his head, 8
And the husband of Lakṣmī, 9
Are one and the same. 10
Many of such, O Mother Maṇikarṇikā!
As bathe in Thy waters become Rudras and Haris. 11
How, then, can there be any difference between them? 1
Death upon Thy Banks, which is the giver of happiness,
Is praised even by the Devas.
On him who thus dies Śakra 2 ever looks with His thousand eyes.
Sāvitri 3 of a thousand rays welcomes Him as He ascends (to the heavens).
Such a pure one, mounted on a Bull or on Garuda, 4
May go to whatsoever abode he will.
Even the four-headed Deva, 5
The Guru who initiates into the meaning of the Veda,
Is unable even in an hundred of his 6 years
To describe the purity which arises upon bathing at midday in Maṇikarṇikā.
But the Deva who bears the moon upon his forehead, 7
By the power of his yoga knows Thy purity.
Śiva makes that man who dies on Thy Bank
Either Himself or Nārāyaṇa.
All such sin-destroying fruit as is earned by millions of troublesome horse-sacrifices 1
Exists in the purity which comes from bathing in Maṇikarṇikā.
He, who having bathed therein,
Reads this hymn, goes to the abode of the light of Brahman,
Having crossed the great ocean of this world
As if it were but some little pool.
201:1 Is the name of a celebrated ghat at Benares, where the bodies of the dead are burnt, and at which the gem of the ear ornament of the Devī fell. The Kāśipanchakastotra of Śankara says that where there is nivṛtti of manas, there is the great peace. That peace is the foremost of tīrthas (here rivers) and Maṇikarṇikā (Manonivṛtti paramopaśāntih sā tīrthavaryā maṇikarṇikāca).
201:2 One of the forms of qualified mukti (liberation); the four muktis are Sālokya (remaining in the same region with the Deva), Sāmīpya (remaining near the Deva), Sārupya (receiving the same form as the Deva), and Sayujya (becoming one with the Deva).
201:3 Prayāṇotsava--that is, death.
201:5 The Bird King, who is the vehicle (vāhana) of Viṣṇu, son of Kaśyapa by his wife Vinetā, elder brother of Aruṇa.
202:1 The colour of Viṣṇu's robes. The verse is intended to show the unity of both Viṣṇu and Śiva.
202:2 The Ṛṣis once disputed amongst themselves as to the relative merits of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva, and the Ṛṣī Bhrigu was sent to test them. The first and last on being purposely slighted by Bhrigu showed the weakness of resentment. Finding Viṣṇu lying down with Lakṣmī in the daytime he upbraided him for this and planted with force his foot on his chest. Viṣṇu not only took all this in good part, but rubbing the foot of Bhrigu expressed the hope that the latter had not hurt it by his action. On this exhibition of divine quality the palm was adjudged to Viṣṇu, who thereafter bore the mark of Bhrigu's foot on his breast.
202:3 Tridaśah, a collective name for the other Devas. The thirty-three (three being understood) gaṇas of Devas, of which the Devī is Tridaśeśvarī.
202:4 In heaven (Svarga).
202:5 For the enjoyment in Svarga, which is part of the worlds of birth and rebirth, is not eternal, but on fruition the jivātmā again descends to earth to work out its unexhausted karma.
202:6 Sāyujyepi. As to sāyujya, see ante, p. 201, note 2.
202:8 A great and brilliant gem worn by Viṣṇu.
203:2 Nirvāṇāmokṣa, the highest form of Mukti (liberation). As the saying goes: "Ayodhyā, Mathurā, Gayā, Kāśi, Kānci, Avantikā, Purī, these seven tīrthas (places of pilgrimage) give mukti, but Kāśī (Benares) gives nirvāṇa mukti."
203:3 As the servant awaits the orders of his mistress, so mukti (liberation) awaits the command of Maṇikarṇikā.
204:1 See p. 202, note 5.
204:2 Mukti (see p. 203, note 2).
204:3 Piety, wealth, fulfilment of desire, and liberation.
204:4 Kṛṣṇa, who is often so figured.
204:5 Mount Govardhana, which Kṛṣṇa, by his might, upheld.
204:6 Curls of hair on the breast of Viṣṇu.
204:7 At the churning of the ocean, poison issued which, to save the world, Śiva swallowed. It coloured His throat blue; hence he is called Nīlakantha.
204:8 The River Ganges (see p. 188, note 7).
204:10 They with Brahmā; for as the Rudrayāmala says "Though three they are one" (Ekam murtistrayo deva). All the Devas and Devīs are but manifestations, with the apparent limitations incident thereto, of the Supreme Unity--the Brahman.
204:11 Śiva and Viṣṇu.
205:1 That is, they cease to differ from one another, having become Hari and Hara, who are themselves one.
205:2 Indra, king of the celestials.
205:3 The sun (Sūrya).
205:4 The first is the vehicle (Vāhana) of Śiva. The second, the carrier of Viṣṇu.
205:6 Not human years.
206:1 The Vaidika Aśvamedha.