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Gangaa Laharee

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Gangaa Laharee
Gangaa Laharee of Pandit Jagannath

Jagannath Pandit who lived during the reign of emperor Shaah Jahaan (1592-1666) in Delhi for several years under his patronage was a Telugu Braahman whose father Peru Bhatt was an erudite scholar. Jagannath, endowed with sharp intellect, acquired deep knowledge in various fields of learning under the tutelage of his father. It is said that he first went to Tanjore to establish himself. But failing in his effort he moved North ultimately landing in Delhi where Shaah Jahaan recognized his merit and offered him his patronage. His fame spread far and wide. A story goes that young Jagannath fell in love with a Muslim girl – emperor’s daughter - and married her.

He has authored a number of well known works, the most famous of which is "Ras Gangaa Dhaaraa" - a treatise on poetics. He was also a contemporary of Appayaadikshita, author of "Kuvalayananda" - again an authoritative work on Figures of Speech. Appayyadikshita was Jagannath Pandit’s literary rival and he severely criticized Appayyadikshita in his work.

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, connecting these two great authors. Jagannatha who was old then was sleeping on the banks of Gangaa with his Muslim wife when Appayyadikshita came there for a bath. Inadvertently Appayyadikshita stepped on Jagannatha and exclaimed
“किं निश्शङ्कं शेषे शेषेवयसि त्वमागते मृत्यौ”
"Why are you sleeping fearlessly when Death is knocking at your doors?"
Quickly he recognized Jagannatha and said -
“अथवा सुखं शयीथाः निकटे जागर्ति जाह्नवी भवतः”
"Or do sleep comfortably. Ganga is awake by your side."

Jagannath wrote Gangaa Laharee eulogizing Gangaa perhaps to expiate for his sin of marrying a Muslim woman. It has 52 verses and it is said that as he recited verse after verse Gang a rose up steadily one step for a verse and on the 52nd verse Ganga touched Jagannath washing away his sins. Gangaa Laharee is a fine piece of poetry.  Late. K N Varadaraja Iyengar has written a Sanskrit commentary on Gangaa Laharee. Gangaa Laharee means Wave of Ganga or Flow of Ganga

You are the complete fortune of the whole world. You are that un-describable wealth of Shiva who playfully created the world. You are the sum and substance of the Ved. You are the good fortune and personified beauty of ambrosia for the divine beings. May your waters destroy our sins. (1)

If the pitiable state and sin of the wretched, whose heart is full of past sinful actions receives your glances even once, they get removed at once. May your water-current which is the anointed preceptor for quickly uprooting right up to the tree of A-Vidyaa (illusion) provide us unlimited prosperity. (2)

When Paarvatee, mother of Ganesh cast her glance, which imitated the glow of the rising Sun, at Gangaa who was (caught) in the locks of Shiv’s head, Gangaa’s turmoil took the form of high waves emanating from the head of Shiv. May those waves destroy your sinful world.(3)
(When Bhageerath wanted to bring Gangaa to the world to sanctify the ashes of his forefathers, Gangaa fell on the locks of hair of Shiv and could not get out of it. The poet imagines that Paarvatee jealous of Gangaa looked at her with anger and the turmoil of Gangaa that ensued has caused the high waves of Ganga.)

Mother Gangaa, based on your support, becoming very haughty all other divine beings were neglected by me. Now if you show detachment towards me, I am support-less. Tell me in front of whom shall I cry? (4)


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 03/21/13