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give an account of this ceremony from the first part of the Patủnjúlů Důrshủnŭ, and the Gorůkshủ-sủnghita :
The yogēē must in the first place, by medicines (here described) reduce the appetites of the body, and increase its strength; he must then learn the proper posture for the ceremony: this posture may be various, but a particular one is here enjoined—the yogēē is to put his legs across in a sitting posture, and to hold his feet with his hands crossed behind him. The next act of austerity is that of learning to inhale and discharge his breath; in doing which, he is to take a piece of cloth fifteen cubits long and four fingers in breadth, and swallow it repeatedly, drawing it up and taking it down his throat, drinking water at intervals. He must next choose a seat on some sacred spot, at the bottom of a vůtu tree, at some place frequented by pilgrims, near an image of an uncreated lingů, or in any place peculiarly pleasant to a yogēē; but it must be a secret one.—That on which he must sit may be either kooshủ grass, or the skin of a tyger or a deer, or a blanket; he must not sit on wood, nor on the earth, nor on cloth; his back, neck, and head must be exactly erect; and he must remain motionless, keeping his eyes fixed on his nose. The act of yogů consists of several parts : the devotee must first with his thumbs and fingers prevent the air from issuing through his eyes, ears, nostrils, and mouth, and with his feet bind up the two other avenues of respiration. This he is to practise by degrees till he is able to exist without inspiration and respiration. He who is thus far perfected will be able to subdue his passions, and to disrelish all the pleasures of the senses. Should the mind, at any time, be again entangled in worldly attachments, the devotee must study the essential virtue of things, as, that the world is a dream ; that God is the all in all; and thus bring back the mind to abstraction. He is next to meditate on his guardian deity according to the rules of the shastrů. After thus annihilating, as it were, the body and the world, he is then to fix in his mind that he and Brůmhŭ are one, and so to settle this point as never to lose sight of it, nor return
to earthly attachments. From this state of mind arises complete pleasure; he becomes dead to food and to every other bodily want.
The yogêē who has attained this state of perfection becomes emancipated in the following manner :-while he sits confining the air within his body, and closing his eyes, by the power of wisdom all his members become dead to action; he unites the energy which is lodged in the body to the soul, and they both ascend by means of the veins and arteries to the skull, from which the soul escapes, by the basilar suture: and the body being thus shaken off, he is reunited to the supreme soul m. ·
The Védantů-saru also pronounces in favour of an opinion of the philosopher Shủnkůrů, that the practice of ceremonies is to be renounced by the person seeking absorption, in whom all desires respecting himself are to be annihilated.
From the preceding sketch, the reader will be able to form some idea of this system of Hindoo theology, which is doubtless very ancient. No yogēēs, however, now exist, who perform these bodily austerities to the extent laid down in the shastrŭs. A number of mendicants may be seen, who profess to aim at abstraction of mind, and contempt of the world; but they are in general the greatest sensualists in the country.
Amongst the learned, a few are to be found, who consider the attainment of divine wisdom, as the only means of securing future beatitude: these persons either renounce all worldly connections and become pilgrims, or they remain in a secular state, and ground their expectations (if they have any) of future happiness, on their speculative opinions being less gross than those of the vulgar. As an apology for not practising severe austerities, and for continuing in a secular state, they quote a sentence
m For further remarks on absorption, and on those mendicants who practise austerities leading to it, the reader is referred to vol. ii. pp. 177, 178. 197-201. VOL. I.
of Júnüků : A man does not become a hermit by residing in a forest; but he is a hermit, who even in his own house subdues his passions.' Some of these persons despise the popular superstition.
The absurdity and impiety of the opinions upon which the practices of these yogēēs are founded, need not be exposed : the doctrine which destroys all accountability to the Creator, and rémoves all that is criminal in immorality, must be condemned by every good man; and the absurdity of rejecting those rational enjoyments which at once prove the beneficence of the Creator, and contribute to the refinement of our nature, is so flagrant, that the slightest notice of it may surely be considered as more than necessary to the discharge of our duty to the interests of Christian morals.
The author may however remark, that he has had many opportunities of witnessing the pernicious effects of the belief, that it is God in man who is the author of every volition, and that evil and good actions are both to be referred to him. A Hindoo, perverted by these ideas, does not perceive the evil of ascribing every villainous action to God; though when the dreadful and unavoidable result of this doctrine has been pointed out, many revolt from the conclusion. Under the influence of this doctrine, that the human soul is God, the crimes of a malefactor lose their turpitude, and he is bewailed as a person who has acted under unfortunate influence, or as one born with evil destiny. It is also easy to perceive, that where such a belief prevails, all efforts to fly from evil, and to attain moral perfection, are out of the question :- God does every thing;' My evil destiny follows me every wheré, as a shadow the body,' is the method by which the Hindoo accounts for all his evil propensities and unjust actions.
Another class of Hindoos place a greater reliance on devotion than on divine knowledge. They derive their opinions from different parts of the Hindoo writings, and from favourite books
of their own, as the Madhyú-bhashyů, Bhuktee-růsamritŭ-sindhoo, &c. One of the sentiments of this seet is thus given in the Shree-bhagúvětů :-- Hę who, renouncing the service of God, enters the path of wisdom, (practises religious austerities,) works hard at bruising the straw, but obtains only chaff.' Another of their poets has a verse to this purport :--He who dies at Kashēē obtains absorption: true; but the cause of his emancipation is his devotion.'-Vŭrahů, a poet belonging to the court of Vikrům-adityŭ, says, personifying a person of this sect, O God ! I ask not for the merit of works; nor for riches; nor for fame; I leave all this to fate; nor do I refuse to endure the fruit of my actions:--but this I ask, that, through every transmigration, I may be thy devoted servant.'—
Vilwă-mungủlů, another poet of this sect, says, addressing himself to Vishnoo, O God! I desire not absorption. I ask for a distinct existence, and to be always near thee, as my lord and master.' Some of these persons express attachment to their guardian deity in the most familiar acts of devotion--as his friends, or servants; in songs or prayers; by bowing or making offerings to his image, by washing its feet, by repeating his name, or listening to his praise, or meditating on his qualities. These persons are mostly found among the followers of Krishnŭ and Choitůnyú.
Such a worshipper presents himself before the image of Krishnů, and says, 'Oh, t'hakoorů ! thou art God, the maker of the world, the saviour, the friend of the friendless : I am destitute ; I am thy servant; save me !' Others, more fervent in their attachment, omitting the usual purifications and ablutions before morning worship, hasten, as soon as they rise, to pay all those marks of respect and attention to the image which belong to the character under which they worship it. For instance, one man's image is that of the infant Krishnŭ : he imagines it necessary, that the god should be honoured as a child, and he therefore makes an offering of sweetmeats to him early in the morning; he is very careful too that the image should be laid down to rest, and raised up again, only at the appointed hours; he bathes, anoints it, and adorns it with the utmost fondness. Songs in praise of Krishnŭ are very common amongst this sect; and sometimes an enthusiast falls to the ground while singing, and exhibits all the symptoms of superstitious frenzy. These persons reject many of the Hindoo ceremonies ; but they repeat the name of Krishnů, worship the common images of this god, and observe the national festivals to his honour. Some individuals are directed in their religious duties by the Hindoo writings : but the great body are enthusiasts, following the impulse of feelings enkindled by their own impure imaginations. Some of them wander from village to village, proclaiming the name and reciting the praises of Krishnů.
Those who reverence the philosophical doctrine, and those who thus adhere to devotion, form however but a very small part of the Hindoo population. The great majority of the community are attached to the popular ceremonies, considering them as at least leading to the knowledge of God, or as laying in a stock of merit which will influence their condition in this or a future birth.
The other branch of Hindoo theology enjoins RELIGIOUS DUTies, as preparing a person for that state which leads to absorption. Krishnú, in his address to Urjoonủ, thus holds up the value of religious practice :— Perform thy duty, and make the event equal whether it terminate in good or evil.' The miserable are so on account of the event of things. Wise men, who have abandoned all thought of the fruit of their actions, are freed from the chains of birth, and go to the regions of eternal happinessi.
Júnúků and others have attained perfection even by
Mr. Wilkins has thus translated this part of the Bhagúvůtů ; but the fact is, that there is no distinct happiness in the Hindoo absorption, because there is no remaining individuality. The spirit being liberated from every thing which is not spirit, and absorbed in the ocean of nniversal spirit, or deity, there can be no such thing as individual enjoyment. The Hindoos illustrate their idea on this subject, by comparing the soul to air confined in a vessel, which, when the vessel breaks, is immediately lost in the vast body of air which composes the atmosphere.