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This is the image of a yellow woman, dressed in red, and sitting on a lion. In her four hands she holds a conch', a discus, a club, and a water-lily.
A very popular festival in honour of this goddess is held in the month Kartiků, on the 7th, 8th, and 9th of the increase of the moon, when bloody sacrifices are offered as at the Doorga festival : the formulas are necessarily different. Very large sums are frequently expended on these occasions, especially in the illuminations, dances, songs, entertaining of bramhŭns, &c. as many as one hundred and fifty persons being employed as singers and dancers, beside others who sing verses from the Chŭndēē, the Krishnŭmungủlă, the Ramayúnů, &c. A number of men like guards are also hired, and placed near the temple for the sake of shew. Much indecent mirth takes place, and numbers of men dance naked before the image, and call this the way to heaven; the venerable bramhŭns smiling with complacency on these works of merit, so acceptable to the gods. The benefits expected from this worship are, the fruit of meritorious actions, riches, the gratification of every desire, and future happiness. These four things are commonly mentioned in the Hindoo shastrès, as promised by the gods to their worshippers.
• The mother of the world.
This shell blown at the times of worship, and at other festivals.
This is the image of a naked woman, painted blue, standing on the breast of Shivă, and having four arms: the upper right arm is placed in the posture of bestowing a blessing; with the other she is forbidding fear, and in her left hands she holds a sword and a helmet,
The festival of this goddess is held on the 14 h of the decrease of the moon in the month Maghủ: the ceremo. nies are like those before the image of Kalēē, but the bloody sacrifices are very numerous. Spirituous liquors are privately presented to the goddess, at a late hour at night, or rather early in the morning. Some of the Hindoo shastròs allow of this practice, yet it is far from being honourable. I have been credibly informed, that numbers of bramhŭns, in different places, at the annual festival of this goddess, join in drinking the spirits which have been offered to her, and, in a state of intoxication, pass from the temples into the streets, preceded by lighted torches, dancing to the sound of music, and singing indecent songs. Some are hugging one another; others fall down quite intoxicated; others lose their way, and go along lifting up their hands, dancing and singing alone. The purer Hindoos stand gazing at a considerable distance, lest they should be dragged among this crowd of drunken bramhŭns.
The benefits promised to the worshippers of this goddess are riches now, and heaven hereafter.
Very many persons are initiated into the rites of this goddess as their guardian deity.
» Of flowing hair.
This is the image of a black woman, with four arms, standing on the breast of Shivú : in one hand she holds a sword; in another a giant's head; with the others she is bestowing a blessing, and forbidding fear.
The worship of Tara is performed in the night, in different months, at the total wane of the moon, before the image of Siddhéshwărcē; when bloody sacrifices are offered, and it is reported, that even human beings were formerly immolated in secret to this ferocious deity; who is considered by the Hindoos as soon incensed, and not unfrequently inflicting on an importunate worshipper the most shocking diseases, as a vomiting of blood, or some other dreadful complaint which soon puts an end to his life.
Almost all the disciples of this goddess are from among the heterodox: many of them, however, are learned men, Tara being considered as the patroness of learning. Some Hindoos are supposed to have made great advances in knowledge through the favour of this goddess; and many a stupid boy, after reading some incantations containing the name of Tara, has become a learned man.
SECT. VIII. Chinnŭ-mustukay,
This is the image of a naked yellow woman, with her head half severed from her body?, wearing a necklace of skulls, and standing on the body of Shivă. She is surrounded with dead bodies; has a scymitar in one hand; a giant's skull in another; and with two others is forbidding fear, and bestowing a blessing.
* The deliverer.
y The headless. The Túntrús give the following explanation of this monstrous feature
This image is not made at present, but the worship may be celebrated before the images of any other female deities. Those who receive the initiatory rites of this goddess worship her daily before the shalgramů, or water, or flowers, or an incantation written on a metal dish“. She promises her disciples riches, learning, or absorption b; but principally riches. Some people are afraid of becoming her disciples, lest, in a fit of anger, she should bring upon them a violent death
in the image of this goddess :–At a certain time, not being able to procure any of the giants for her prey, to satisfy her thirst of blood, Chinnŭ-mústúka actually cut her own throat, that the blood issuing thence might spout up into her mouth. I have seen a picture of this image, agreeing with this description ; and at Chachra, in Jessore, such an image may be seen at present, the half-severed head resting on the left hand of the goddess, and streams of blood falling into her month.
a Before any one of these things, the worship of any of the gods may be performed; but the shalgramů is mostly preferred.
• A person can receive only one blessing at a time from his god. The Hindoos, however, relate å story of a blind man, who put a trick on his guardian deity, by obtaining three blessings from him at once : he asked that he might see—his child-eat from off a golden dish every day. He was then childless.
c The following story, current among the Hindoos, I give as a proof of the dread in which they live of some of their deities :—A bramhŭn whó had received the initiating incantation of this goddess, to avoid dying an unnatural death, used to confine himself to his house; where, however, a hatchet, hung up for sacrificing animals, fell upon and killed him as he lay asleep.
This is the whole length figure of a yellow woman, with four arms; holding in her hands a conch, a discus, a club, and a water-lily. She is mostly worshipped on the 7th, 8th, and 9th of the increase of the moon in Maghủ. Very few persons learn the initiatory rites of this goddess.
SECT. X.-Vŭgulamookhēē e.
The image of this deity is never made; though she is sometimes worshipped on the 7th, 8th, and 9th of the moon in Maghủ, before a pan of water, or some other proper substitute. The officiating bramhŭn, in yellow garments, presents yellow flowers, flesh, fish, and spirituous liquors, to her: the animals sacrificed are not numerous.
This goddess is frequently worshipped in the hope of procuring the removal, the injury, or the destruction, of enemies, or whatever else the worshipper desires—which is sometimes the wife of another. He makes no doubt, if he can please the goddess by presents, or flattery, or by inflicting, for her sake, certain cruelties on his body, that she will be disposed to grant him even this last favour. If the ceremonies be not performed in strict conformity to the rules laid down in the shastru, it is believed that the worshipper will be deprived of reason, or of speech, or that some other dreadful calamity will befal him.