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Sri Aurobindo

Archives and Research

a biannual journal

April 1977

Volume I; No 1

To the Ganges1

Hearken, Ganges, hearken, thou that sweepest golden to the sea,

Hearken, Mother, to my voice.

From the feet of Hari with thy waters pure thou leapest free,

Waters colder-pure than ice.

On Himaloy’s grandiose summits upright in his cirque of stones

Shiva sits in breathless air,

Where the outcast seeks his refuge, where the demon army moans,

Ganges erring through his hair

Down the snowwhite mountains speeding, the immortal peaks and cold,

Crowd thy waves untouched by man.

From Gungotry through the valleys next their icy tops were rolled,

Bursting through Shivadry ran.

In Benares’ stainless city by defilement undefiled

Ghauts and temples lightly touched

With thy fingers as thou ranst, laughed low in pureness like a child

To his mother’s bosom clutched.

Where the steps of Rama wandered, where the feet of Krishna came,

There thou flowest, there thy hand

Clasps us, Bhagirathie, Jahnavie or Gunga, and thy name

Holier makes the Aryans’ land.

But thou {{0}}leavst[[`2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2:{{2}} leavest]] Aryavurtha, but thou leapest to the seas

In thy hundred mighty streams;

Nor in the unquiet Ocean vast thy grandiose journeyings cease,

Mother, say thy children’s dreams.

Down thou plungest through the Ocean, far beneath its oozy bed

In Patala’s leaden {{0}}glooms[[`2009 ed. CWSA, vol.2:{{2}} gloom]]

Moaning o’er her children’s pain our mother, Ganges of the dead,

Leads our wandering spirits home.

Mighty with the mighty still thou dwelledst, goddess high and pure;

Iron Bhîshma was thy son,

Who against ten thousand rushing chariots could in war endure;

Many heroes fled from one.

Devavrath the mighty, Bhîshma with his oath of iron power,

Smilingly who gave up full

Joy of human life and empire, that his father’s wish might flower

And his father’s son might rule.

Who were these that thronged thereafter? wherefore came these puny hearts

Apter for the cringing slave,

Wrangling, selfish, weak and treacherous, vendors of their nobler parts,

Sorry food for pyre and grave

O but these are men of mind not yet with Europe’s brutal mood alloyed,

Poets singing in their chains,

Preachers teaching manly slavery, speakers thundering in the void.

Motley wear these men of brains!

Well it is for hound and watchdog fawning at a master’s feet,

Cringing, of the whip afraid!

Well it is for linnet caged to make with song his slavery sweet.

Man for other ends was made.

Man the arrogant, the splendid, man the mighty wise and strong,

Born to rule the peopled earth,

Shall he bear the alien’s insult, shall he brook the tyrant’s wrong

Like a thing of meaner birth?

Sreepoor in the east, of Chand and Kédar, bright with Mogul blood,

And the Kings of Aracan

And the Atlantic pirates helped that hue,— its ruined glory flood

Kîrtinasha’s waters wan.

Buried are our cities; fallen the apexed dome, the Indian arch;

In Chitore the jackals crowd:

Krishna’s Dwarca sleeps for ever, o’er its ruined bastions march

All the Oceans thundering loud.

Still, yet still the fire of Kali on her ancient altar burns

Smouldering under smoky pall,

And the deep heart of her peoples to their Mighty Mother turns,

Listening for her Titan call.

Yet Pratapaditya’s great fierce spirit shall in might awake

In Jessore he loved and made,

Sitaram the good and mighty for his well-loved people’s sake

Leave the stillness and the shade.

And Bengal the wide and ancient where the Senas swayed of old

Up to far Benares pure,

She shall lead the Aryan peoples to the mighty doom foretold

And her glory shall endure.

By her heart of quick emotion, by her brain of living fire,

By her vibrant speech and great,

She shall lead them, they shall see their destiny in her warm desire

Opening all the doors of Fate.

By the shores of Brahmaputra or where Ganges nears the sea,

Even now a flame is born

Which shall kindle all the South to brilliance and the North shall be

Lighted up as with the morn.

And once more this Aryavurtha fit for heavenly feet to tread,

Free and holy, bold and wise,

Shall lift up her face before the world and she whom men thought dead,

Into strength immortal rise.

Not in icy lone Gungotry nor by Kashi’s holy fanes,

Mother, hast thou power to save

Only, nor dost thou grow old near Sagar, nor our vileness stains,

Ganges, thy celestial wave.

Dukkhineswar, Dukkhineswar, wonderful predestined pile,

Tell it to our sons unborn,

Where the night was brooding darkest and the curse was on the soil

Heaviest, God revealed the morn.


1 Written in Baroda. this poem was held back by Sri Aurobindo when his other poems of the period were published.