This poem on the sacred geography of the Narmadā river (Central India) is an example of modern Sanskrit poetry composed by the scholar and poet Śrī Kuśāgra Aniket (Economist and Management Consultant, New York, U.S.A.). The poem is shared here with his permission.
In his own words:
“The composition is an attempt to enrich the tradition of nature and devotional poetry in Sanskrit by drawing inspiration from local cultures and traditions – one of the facets of Sanskrit as a Loka Bhāṣā. The song links the significance of Narmadā in popular consciousness of the region to its description in the Purāṇas (Reva Khāṇḍa of the Skānda and Vāyu Purāṇas). It emphasizes the intimate relationship between the “natural” and the “sacred” in Hinduism.
I have set this song to a tune based on Rāga Bairāgi Bhairava in Hindustani Music. Incidentally, the equivalent Raga in Karṇāṭaka Saṅgīta is Revatī, which is sometimes used as a name for Narmadā (besides Reva).
I previously presented this song at the 5th Annual Folk and Oral Literature Festival organized by the South Asian Poets of New England. I will also present it at the New England Folk Literature and Oral Poetry Festival on September 25, 2021″
आम्रकूटात् स्खलन्ती कटौ भारते कोटिलिङ्गं समर्च्य स्वकुलेषु या ।
शम्भुपादाब्जरेणुं शिरोधारिणी पातु सा वः सदा शर्मदा नर्मदा ॥ १ ॥
May the river Narmada, which emerges from Amarakaṇṭaka in Central India, consecrates millions of naturally forming Liṅgas, and bears the dust of Shiva’s feet, protect us.
नक्रचक्रालया मीनकूर्मालया नागकोकालया बाणलिङ्गालया ।
भक्तिनीरालया सर्वतीर्थालया पातु सा वः सदा शर्मदा नर्मदा ॥ २ ॥
May the bountiful Narmada, which is the abode of crocodiles, fish, tortoise, serpents, and frogs, the home of Bāṇa Liṅga-s, full of waters of devotion, and shelter of all sacred sites, protect us.
नीलवर्णा कदा शुभ्रवर्णा कदा हेमवर्णा कदा ताम्रवर्णा कदा ।
विन्ध्यशैलाटवौ कृष्णवर्णा कदा पातु सा वः सदा शर्मदा नर्मदा ॥ ३ ॥
May the blissful Narmada, which appears variously as blue, transparent, golden, copper, as well as dark in the Vindhya ranges, protect us.
सोमपानैषणा चेद्यदा जीवने, नर्मदातोयपीयूषमास्वादय ।
स्वेदबिन्दुर्मिजाता हि या धूर्जटेः, पातु सा वः सदा शर्मदा नर्मदा ॥ ४ ॥
If you have the desire to taste the Soma juice even as a mortal, then taste the nectar-like water of Narmada. May she, who was born from the sweat of Shiva’s brow, protect us.
नैव हे सोमकन्ये क्वचित् त्वत्समो, भूतले मर्त्यलोकोपकारे क्षमः ।
दर्शनात्ते फलं प्राप्यते यन्नरैर्गाङ्गतीर्थे तथा नो फलं मज्जताम् ॥ ५ ॥
O Narmada, daughter of the moon, none can surpass you in generosity towards mortals. The fruit that one attains by merely beholding your waters cannot be achieved by even those who bathe in the Ganges.
वक्तुकामस्तवैश्वर्यगाथावलिं, कोऽस्मि तीरे त्वदीये पुरा शङ्करः ।
श्रीगुरोः पादपद्मं स्वकं लब्धवां-, स्त्वत्प्रसादेतरं कारणं तत्र किम् ॥ ६ ॥
Who am I to sing your glorious saga? What was the cause behind the meeting of Adi Shankara with his Guru on your banks – except your grace?
चारुरूपे जगत्कूपमग्नो नर-, स्त्वत्कटाक्षाद् विरूपाक्षलोके यदा ।
देवभूपालवृन्दैर्मुदा वन्द्यते, ज्ञायते केन ते पानलभ्यं पदम् ।।७।।
O beautiful one, by your mere glance, a person, who has fallen in this world, becomes respected by gods in Shiva’s abode. Who, then, can grasp the majesty of those who drink your water?
कृष्णकाकाभिरूपा तु मन्दाकिनी, त्वत्तटे स्नातुमायाति गर्वं विना ।
व्याधिबाधाविमुक्त्यै गिरौ निर्जने, तां सभीतां विनीतां पुनीतां कुरु ॥ ८ ॥
O Narmada, renouncing her pride, the river Ganga assumes the form of a crow to cleanse herself on a deserted bank of your stream. May you purify that fearful and humble one.
निर्मलं ते जलं नात्र मे संशयः, सर्वदुर्वारभूभारसंहारिणि ।
दर्दुरैः स्तूयमाने तटे हेलया, शर्करे शङ्करत्वं यतस्तन्यते ॥ ९ ॥
O destroyer of the earth’s burdens, I am certain that your water is nectar, as it creates Shivas out of pebbles on your banks reverberating with the croaking sound of frogs.
यक्षगन्धर्वदेवाङ्गनामन्दिरे, कोटिकन्दर्पनृत्योत्सवानन्दिते ।
ये रमन्ते सुरा देवि किं तैर्मम, त्वां विना कोऽत्र जानाति दःखं मरोः ॥ १० ॥
O Narmada, what need do I have of gods who inhabit celestial realms and spend their days in merriment? Who, except you, can understand the sorrow of barren fields?
यद्विधेः संसृतौ स्थाणुजं हीनजं, स्पर्शमात्रेण लोकेषु सन्तापदम् ।
नामृताद्वञ्चितं तत्तवालम्बनाद्, वत्सले नर्मदे ते तटे कण्टकम् ॥ ११ ॥
Even a mere thorn, the lowest form of life on earth, born of a dead stub and causing pain to anyone who touches it, has not been deprived of nectar (Amarakaṇṭaka), thanks to your generosity.
एकवारं मया बाल्यकाले तव, स्पृष्टमेवाम्बु मातर्विना श्रद्धया ।
तत्कणे चेत्प्रसादस्तवासीत् तदा, लोकलोकोत्तरं मे भवेन्मङ्गलम् ॥ १२ ॥
O Mother, once in my childhood, devoid of reverence, I touched a droplet of your water. If that speck was imbued with your grace, may it secure my path in this world and the next one.
किं भयं मे यमात् त्वत्प्रतापाद् यदा, बाणलिङ्गाभिधेयं शिलामण्डलम् ।
क्षिप्तमानन्दभावेन वीचौ मया, लक्षरूद्राभिषेकः कृतस तत्क्षणे ॥ १३ ॥
O Narmada, how can I be afraid of death when I have consecrated a thousand Bāṇa Liṅgas by throwing pebbles into your waters during my play?
एवमेवार्पितं पूजनं नर्मदे, त्वत्पदाम्भोजयुग्मे मया वाङ्मयम् ।
देहि सप्ताद्रिविन्ध्याद्रियोगात्मिकां, स्वीयधारामिवेशाच्युतैक्ये मतिम् ॥ १४ ॥
O Narmada, thus I have offered my words of worship at your lotus feet. Grant me an intellect that does not distinguish between Shiva and Vishnu, just as your stream that connects the Satpura and Vindhya ranges.