Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 2)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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144                        ALBERUNTS INDIA.

' I want the river Ganges which flows in Paradise,'
knowing that to any one over whom its water flows
all his sins are pardoned. Mahadeva granted him
his desire. However, the Milky Way was the bed
of the Ganges, and the Ganges was very haughty,
for nobody had ever been able to stand against it.
Now Mahadeva took the Ganges and put it on his
head. When the Ganges could not move away, he
became very angry and made a great uproar. How¬
ever, Mahadeva held him firmly, so that it was not
possible for anybody to plunge into it. Then he took
part of the Ganges and gave it to Bhagiratha, and this
king made the middle one of its seven branches flow
over the bones of his ancestors, whereby they became
liberated from punishment. Therefore the Hindus
throw the burned bones of their dead into the Ganges.
The Ganges was also called by the name of that king
who brought him to earth, i.e. Bhagiratha."
On the con- We havc already quoted Hindu traditions to the
hoiyVonds. cffcct that In the Dvipas there are rivers as holy as the
Ganges. In every place to which some particular holi¬
ness is ascribed, the Hindus construct ponds intended
for the ablutions. In this they have attained to a very
high degree of art, so that our people (the Muslims),
when they see them, wonder at them, and are unable
to describe them, much less to construct anything like
them. They build them of great stones of an enor¬
mous bulk, joined to each other by sharp and strong
cramp-irons, in the form of steps (or terraces) like so
many ledges; and these terraces run all around the
pond, reaching to a height of more than a man's stature.
On the surface of the stones between two terraces they
construct staircases rising like pinnacles. Thus the
first steps or terraces are like roads (leading round
the pond), and the pinnacles are steps (leading u|) and
down). If ever so many people descend to the pond
whilst others ascend, they do not meet each other, and
  Page 144