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point of death delays the fatal journey to the river," he will die like Raja Núvů-Krishnů.'
Dead bodies are brought by their relations to be burnt near this river; and when they cannot bring the whole body, it is not uncommon for them to bring a single bone and cast it into the river*, under the hope that it will help the soul of the deceased.
In the eastern parts of Bengal, married women, long disappointed in their hopes of children, make an offering to Gũnga, and enter into a vow, that if the goddess will give them two children, they will present one to her : and it is not uncommon for such women to cast the first child into the river as an offering; but it is said, that at present some relation or religious mendicant stands ready to preserve the life of the child. The mother cannot take it again, but this person adopts and provides for it. These offerings are made on the tenth of the moon in Jyoisht’hủ, and on the 13th of Choitrů.
Some persons even drown themselves in the Ganges, not doubting but they shall immediately ascend to heaven.
* Many persons, whose relations die at a distance from the Ganges, at the time of burning the body preserve a bone, and at some future time bring this bone and commit it to Gũnga, supposing that this will secure the salvation of the deceased. The work called Kriya-yogúsarů contains the following curious story :-A bramhăn, who had been guilty of the greatest crimes, was devoured by wild beasts ; his bones only remained. A crow took up one of these bones, and was carrying it over Gånga, when another bird darting upon it, the crow let the bone fall. As soon as the bone touched Gũnga, the bramhŭn sprang to life, and was ascend. ing to heaven, when the messenger of Yúmă, the judge of the dead, seized him, as a great sinner. At this time Narayènŭ's messengers rfered, and pleaded, that the sins of this man, since one of his bones had touched
The shastră encourages thisy. It is a sin for a bramhắn, but an act of merit in a shõõdrŭ or a dúndēē, if he be in worldly trouble, or afflicted with an incurable distemper. The Gănga-Vakya-Vulee says, “Should any person have eaten with another who is degraded for seven successive births; or have committed the five sins, each of which is called muha-patủků; should he have eaten the food which has been touched by a woman in her courses; or have constantly spoken falsely; or have stolen gold, jewels, &c.; should he have killed the wife of his friend; or have injured bramhŭns, or friends, or his mother, &c.; or have committed the sins which doom a man to the hell called Muha: rourůvŭ; or have committed those sins for which the messengers of Yumŭ constantly beat a person ; or have committed multitudes of sins in childhood, youth, and old age; --if this person bathe in Gũnga at an auspicious period, all
Głnga, were aļl done away. The appeal was made to Vishnoo, who decided in the bramhủn's favour. The bramhŭn immediately went to heaven.
y The Skindů pooranŭ declares, that by dying in the Ganges, a person Will obtain absorption into Brúmhủ. The same work contains a promise from Shivů, that whoever dies in Gùnga shall obtain a place in his heaven.
- The Bhůvishyŭ pooranů affirms, that if a worm, or an insect, or a grasshopper, or any tree growing by the side of Gứnga, die in the river, it will obtain absorption into Brúmhŭ.--The Brúmlıů pooranů śays, that whether a person renounce life in Gănga, praying for any particular benefit, or die by accident, or whether he possess his senses or not, he will be happy. If he purposely renounce life, he will enjoy absorption, or the highest happiness ; if he die by accident, he will still attain heaven.—Münoo says, "A mansion with hones for its rafters and beams; with nerves and tendons for cords; with muscles and blood for mortar'; with skin for its outward covering ; filled with no sweet perfume, bnt loaded with fæces and urine; a mansion infested by age and by surrow, the seat of malady, harassed with pains, haunted with the quality of darkness, and incapable of standing long; su a mansion of the vital soul let its occupier always cheerfully quit.'
these sins will be removed : he will also be admitted into the heaven of Brúmha, the Púrŭm-hủngsee ; be put in possession of the merits of the man who presents a lack of red cows to a bramhŭn learned in the four védús; and afterwards will ascend and dwell at the right hand of Vishnoo. After he has enjoyed all this happiness, and shall be re-born on the earth, he will be possessed of every good quality, enjoy all kinds of happiness, be very honourable, &c. He who shall doubt any part of this, will be doomed to the hell called Koombhēz-paků, and afterwards be born an ass. If a person, in the presence of Gũnga, on the anniversary of her arrival on the earth, and according to the rules prescribed in the shastrūs, present to the bramhŭns whole villages, he will obtain the fruits that arise from all other offerings, from all sacrifices, from visiting all the holy places, &c.; his body will be a million times more glorious than the sun; he will obtain a million of virgins, and multitudes of carriages, palanqueens, &c. covered with jewels; he will dwell for ages in heaven, enjoying its pleasures in company with his father ; as many particles of dust as are contained in the land thus given away to the bramhŭns, for so many years will the giver dwell in happiness in Vishnoo's heaven.'
Every real Christian must be deeply affected on viewing the deplorable effects of this superstition. Except that part of the rig-védú which countenances the burning of women alive, no writers ever gave birth to a more extensive degree of misery than those who have made the Ganges a sacred river. Thousands, yea millions of people are annually drawn from their homes and peaceful labours, several times in the year, to visit different holy places of this river, at a great expense of time, and money spent in making offerings to the goddess; expensive journeys are undertaken by vast multitudes to obtain the water? of this river, some como two or three months' journey for this purpose,) or to carry the sick, the dying, the dead, or the bones of the dead, to its banks. What the sick and dying suffer by being exposed to all kinds of weather in the open air on the banks of the river, and in being choked by the sacred water in their last moments, is beyond expression. In short, no eyes, but those of Omniscience, can see all the foul deeds done upon and by the sides of this river; and the day of judgment alone can bring all these deeds to light. The bramhŭn will then see, that instead of Gũnga's having removed the sins of her worshippers, she has increased them a million-fold.
SECT. II.Other deified Rivers.
The Godavŭree, the Núrmúda, the Kavérēē, the Atréyêē, the Kūrėtoya, the Bahooda, the Gomŭtēē, the Súrůyoo, the Gắndúkēē, the Varahēē, the Chịrmũn-wătee, the Shůtůdroo, the Vipasha, the Goutămēē, the Kŭrmŭnasha, the Shonủa, the Oiravėtēē, the Chŭndrúbhaga, the Vităsta, the Sindhoo, the Bhůdra-vủkasha, the Púnúsa, the Dévika, the Tamrúpůrnēē, the Toongübhŭdra, the Krishna, the Vétrŭvŭtēē, the Bhoirůvů, the Brůmhŭ-pootrăb, the Voitărănēē, and many other rivers, are mentioned in the Hindoo shastrús as sacred.
At the full moon in Asharhủ, many thousand Hindoos assemble at Průtapă-gúrúz a place to the west of Lucknow,
* Many thousands perish by the dysentery, and others through want, in these journies. • This is a male river.
and bathe in the Godavėrēē, or in the remains of it, (for at this season of the year this river is nearly dried up.)
On the last day of Choitrů, a large assembly of Hindoos meet at Modůphúrŭ-poorů, about sixteen miles from Patna, where the Gũndakēē, the Súrủyoo, and the Ganges meetb. The assembly remains eight days, and a large fair is held on the spot, at which horses, camels, and other beasts, and also children, are bought and sold : the price of a boy is from ten to twelve roopees; that of a girl is less.
On the same day a large concourse of Hindoos, some say as many as 20,000, principally women, assemble at Uyodhya, to bathe in the Súrủyoo.
On the 14th of the decrease of the moon in Phalgoonů, an equal number of people are said to meet on the banks of the Súrůyoo at Bůhŭrŭm-ghată, near Lucknow : but they do not bathe in the river, the water of which is very filthy, but in a sacred pool adjoining.
On the banks of the Yŭmoona, on the second of the moon in Kartiků, and on the eighth of the decrease of the moon in Bhadrī, vast crowds of Hindoos assemble in different places to bathe.
The Brúmhŭ-pootrŭ receives the same honours on the eighth of the increase of the moon in Choitrů. At a place
• There are several causes why particular places of these rivers are esteemed peculiarly sacred. Some of these causes are given in the shastrús, and others arise from tradition. One instance of the latter occurs respecting Voidyvňatēē, a place near Serampore, where Nimaee, a religious mendicant, performed his devotions, and where at present, at a conjunction of particular stars, multitudes assemble to bathe.