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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From the ‘Raghuvança’
By Kālidāsa (c. 4th Century)
 
Hymn Addressed to Vishnu by the Deities

Translation of John Muir

GLORY to Thee, who art first the creator of the universe, next its upholder, and finally its destroyer; glory to Thee in this threefold character. As water falling from the sky, though having but one flavor, assumes different flavors in different bodies, so Thou, associated with the three qualities [Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, or Goodness, Passion, and Darkness], assumest [three] states [those of creator, preserver, and destroyer], though Thyself unchanged. Immeasurable, Thou measurest the worlds; desiring nothing, Thou art the fulfiller of desires; unconquered, Thou art a conqueror; utterly indiscernible, Thou art the cause of all that is discerned. Though one, Thou, from one or another cause, assumest this or that condition; Thy variations are compared to those which crystal undergoes from the contact of different colors. Thou art known as abiding in [our] hearts, and yet as remote; as free from affection, ascetic, merciful, untouched by sin, primeval, and imperishable. Thou knowest all things, Thyself unknown; sprung from Thyself [or self-existent], Thou art the source of all things; Thou art the lord of all, Thyself without a master; though but one, Thou assumest all forms. Thou art declared to be He who is celebrated in the seven Sāma-hymns, to be He who sleeps on the waters of the seven oceans, whose face is lighted up by the god of seven rays [Fire], and who is the one refuge of the seven worlds. Knowledge which gains the four classes of fruit [virtue, pleasure, wealth, and final liberation], the division of time into four yugas [ages], the fourfold division of the people into castes,—all these things come from Thee, the four-faced. Yogins [devoutly contemplative men] with minds subdued by exercise recognize Thee, the luminous, abiding in their hearts; [and so attain] to liberation from earthly existence. Who comprehends the truth regarding Thee, who art unborn, and yet becomest born; who art passionless, yet slayest thine enemies; who sleepest, and yet art awake? Thou art capable of enjoying sounds and other objects of sense; of practicing severe austerity, of protecting thy creatures, and of living in indifference to all external things. The roads leading to perfection, which vary according to the different revealed systems, all end in Thee, as the waves of the Ganges flow to the ocean. For those passionless men whose hearts are fixed on Thee, who have committed to Thee their works, Thou art a refuge, so that they escape further mundane births. Thy glory, as manifested to the senses in the earth and other objects, is yet incomprehensible: what shall be said of Thyself, who canst be proved only by the authority of Scripture and by inference? Seeing that the remembrance of Thee alone purifies a man,—the rewards of other mental acts also, when directed towards Thee, are thereby indicated. As the waters exceed the ocean, and as the beams of light exceed the sun, so Thy acts transcend our praises. There is nothing for Thee to attain which Thou hast not already attained: kindness to the world is the only motive for Thy birth and for Thy actions. If this our hymn now comes to a close after celebrating Thy greatness, the reason of this is our exhaustion, or our inability to say more, not that there is any limit to Thy attributes.  1
 
 
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