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THE

HINDOO MYTHOLOGY.

BOOK I.

OBJECTS OF WORSHIP.

CHAP. I.

OF GOD.

painful reflection to every benevolent mind, that not a single Hindoo temple, dedicated to the One God, is to be found in all Hindoost'han; nor is any act of worship, in any form, addressed by this people to God. The doctrines respecting the Divine Nature are considered as mere philosophical speculations, totally unconnected with religious services.

It is true, indeed, that the Hindoos believe in the unity of God. One Brămhủ, without a second,' is a phrase very commonly used by them when conversing on subjects which relate to the nature of God. They believe also that God is almighty, allwise, omnipresent, omniscient, &c. and they frequently speak of him as embracing in his government the happiness of the good, and the subjection or punishment of the bad : yet they have no idea of God's performing any act, either of creation or providence, except through the gods; and thus are prevented all the beneficial effects which might have arisen out of their

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notions of the divine perfections : for in the whole of the reigning superstition the gods alone are seen ; and these gods bear no more resemblance to the one true God, than darkness to light, than vice to virtue.

Perceiving, therefore, that the speculations of the Hin. doo philosophers on the divine nature have no place whatever in the religion of the country, I have placed these dogmas in the preceding volume.

CHAP. II.

OF THE GODS.

THE deities in the Hindoo pantheon amount to 330,000,000. Yet all these gods and goddesses may be resolved into the three principal ones, Vishnoo, Shivă, and Brůmha; the elements; and the three females, Doorga, Lūkshmēē, and Sărůswŭtéē. The following pages will contain accounts of all those at present worshipped by the Hindoos, particularly in the provinces of India under the English government.

SECT. I.-Vishnoo.

This god is represented in the form of a black man, with four arms; in one of which he holds a club, in another a shell, in the third a chủkrů“, and in the fourth a water-lily. He rides on Gŭroorů, an animal half-bird and half-man, and wears yellow garments.

An iron instrument of destruction like a wheel.

The Hindoo shastrės give accounts of ten appearances or incarnations of Vishnoo, in the character of the Preserver; nine of which are said to be past.

The first is called the Mŭtsyŭ incarnation. Brůmhŭ”, the one God, when he resolves to recreate the universe after a periodical destruction, first gives birth to Brúmha, Vishnoo, and Shivă, to preside over the work of creation, preservation, and destruction. After a periodical dissolution of the universe, the four védús remained in the waters. In order to enter upon the work of creation, it was necessary to obtain these books, for the instruction of Brămha. Vishnoo was therefore appointed to bring up the védús from the deep; who, taking the form of a fish, (some say one kind and some another,) descended into the waters, and brought up these sacred books.

In the Kěchyŭpŭ incarnation Vishnoo assumed the form of a tortoise, and took the newly created earth upon his back, to render it stable. The Hindoos believe that to this hour the earth is supported on the back of this tortoise,

The Vúrahů incarnation happened at one of the periodical destructions of the world, when the earth sunk into the waters. Vishnoo, the preserver, appearing in the form of a boar (výrahú), descended into the waters, and with his tusks drew up the earth. What contemptible ideas on such a subject! The earth, with all its mountains, &c. &c. made fast on the back of a turtle, or drawn up from the deep by the tusks of a hog!

The reader will please to keep in mind that Brůmhưi means the one God, and that Brůmha means the idol of that name.

The fourth incarnation is called Núrŭ-singhúc. Among other descendants of Důkshủ, (the first man that Brůmha created,) was Kŭshyŭpů, a moonee, and his four wives, Ditee, Ŭditee, Vinúta, and Kŭdroo. From Ditee, sprang the giants; from Oditee, the gods; from Vinúta, Gŭrooră; and from Kūdroo, the hydras. The giants possessed amazing strength, and amongst them two arose of terrific powers, named Hirŭnyakshŭ and Hirŭnyú-kŭshipoo, both of whom performed religious austerities many thousand years to obtain immortality. Brůmha at length gave them a blessing apparently equivalent to that which they desired. He promised, that no common being should destroy them; that they should not die either in the day or in the night, in earth or in heaven, by fire, by water, or by the sword. After this these giants conquered all the kingdoms of the earth, and even dethroned Indrŭ, the king of heaven. Indrė, collecting all the gods, went to Brúmha, and intreated him to provide some way of deliverance, as the universe which he had created was destroyed. Brůmha asked the gods, how he could destroy those who had obtained his blessing? and advised them to go to Vishnoo. They obeyed, and informed this god of the miseries brought upon the universe by these giants whom Brúmha had blessed. Narayůně promised to destroy them, which he did in the following manner: Hirŭnyú-kúshipoo's son Prúlhadŭ was constantly absent from home performing religious, austerities, at which his father became angry, and, tying a stone to his body, threw him into the water ; but Vishnoo descended, and liberated him. His father next threw him under the feet of an elephant; but the elephant took him up, and put him on its back. He then built a house of sealing wax, put his son into it, and set it on fire; the wax melted, and

<From nără, a man; and singhů, a lion.

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