In India of the seventeenth century, a Brahmin poet named Jagannatha transcended the restrictions of his caste and fell in love with a Muslim girl. The incensed elders of his lineage immediately expelled him from the hallowed circles of his social environment. Jagannatha, being a devout Hindu, tried his best to explain and convince his elders of the supreme sacredness of the emotion of love, which he stressed was beyond all man made divisions. He went up to Banaras, Hinduism's most sacred city, and attempted to restore his status among his brethren. Coming up against a rigid wall of rejection, he mused upon the river Ganges (Ganga), and called upon her to validate the purity and righteousness of his bearing. The dejected bard went to the banks of the Ganges and sat atop the fifty-two steps of the stairs bordering the river. Gaining from his majestic perch a splendorous view of the mighty river, he was moved enough to compose fifty-two soul-stirring lyrics directed to the river. Legend has it that with each verse he composed, the river rose a step, consuming him at the end of his last hymn.
This collection of poems is entitled 'Ganga-Lahiri', or The Waves of Ganga. In his verses, the poet addresses the river as a mother, comforter, and supporter. One hymn reads as follows:
I come to you as a child to his mother.
I come as an orphan to you, moist with love.
I come without refuge to you, giver of sacred rest.
I come a fallen man to you, uplifter of all.
I come undone by disease to you, the perfect physician.
I come, my heart dry with thirst, to you, ocean of sweet wine.
Do with me whatever you will.