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Story of Ganga Lahiri – A Poem by Jagannatha – Mother Ganga Who Embraces Lovers

Ganga Lahiri, dedicated to Ganga River, is a poem composed by Jagannatha, a poet at the court of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan during the 17th century. Jagannatha, a Brahmin, fell in love with a Muslim woman. Here is the story of the composition of Ganga Lahiri.

The poet and his lover were banished by their communities. They were forced to flee. Wherever they went, they were ostracised. After wandering for several years, they reached Kashi (Varanasi). Here too they were unwelcome.

The couple sat atop the 52 steps of the Panchaganga Ghat on the banks of Ganga River in Varnasi.

Here Jagannatha composed the 52 verses of Ganga Lahiri. It extols Ganga River as mother, comforter and the last refuge of all who are rejected and are helpless.

Legend has it that Ganga River ascended step by step as each verse was composed. When 52 verses were completed, Mother Ganga embraced the poet and his beloved and carried them away.

A few verses from Ganga Lahiri Translated by Diana Eck.
I come to you as a child to his mother.
I come without refuge, to you, giver of sacred rest.
I come, my heart dry with thirst, to you, ocean of sweet wine.
Do with me whatever you will.