Obrazy na stronie

works. Wise men call him a půndit, whose every undertaking is free from the idea of desire. He abandoneth a desire of a reward of his actions; he is always contented and independent, and although he may be engaged in a work, he as it were doth nothing. God is to be obtained by him who maketh God alone the object of his works. The speculative and the practical doctrines are but one, for both obtain the self-same end, and the place which is gained by the followers of the one is gained by the followers of the other. The man who, performing the duties of life, and quitting all interest in them, placeth them upon Brůmhŭ the supreme, is not tainted by sin ; but remaineth, like the leaf of the lotus, unaffected by the waters.-If thou shouldest be unable, at once, steadfastly to fix thy mind on me, endeavour to find me by means of constant practice. If after practice thou art still unable, follow me in my works supreme, for by performing works for me thou shalt obtain perfection.'

This brings us to the popular superstition of the Hindoos, of which I shall now endeavour to give a summary account, beginning with their mythology.

It is very difficult, perhaps, to speak decisively on the precise origin of any of the Ancient Systems of Idolatry; but not so difficult to trace idolatry itself to certain natural causes, and to prove, that the heathen deities owe their origin to the common darkness and depravity of men ; who, rejecting the doctrine of the divine unity, and considering God as too great or too spiritual to be the object of human worship, chose such images as their darkness or their passions suggested. Hence idolatry has arisen out of circumstances common to all heathen nations ; which fact, and another hereafter mentioned, will account for many coincidences in the mythology of nations the most remote, while differences in manners and customs, and in the degrees of civilization, may account for most of the diversities found in the images and worship of different idolatrous nations.

It is not to be supposed that any of the images invented by the heathen were intended to be representations of the One God, according to the ideas given of this adorable Being in the sacred Scriptures; they are images of beings formed by the fancies of men, who by wisdom knew not God.' It is probable, indeed, that no heathen nation ever made a single idol in honour of the one living and true God;' and that direct worship to Him was never offered by any heathens.

Nor does it appear, from the various systems of idolatry, that the heathen regarded the gods as intercessors with the Supreme Being It is certain that no such idea exists among the Hins doos, who never worship the One God, either directly or through the intercessions of others. The gods are regarded as the only divine beings from whom evil is to be dreaded, or good to be expected. It is true, I have heard the bramhŭns often speak of the worship of the gods as introducing the worshipper to 4 greater approximation to final beatitude, but this has nothing to do with the Christian doctrine of mediation.

Writers on heathen mythology have frequently supposed, that the extraordinary bodily organs of the gods were intended to represent the perfections of Deity. Such writers, in elucidating the Hindoo system, would have said, ' Indrŭ is represented as full of eyes k, to exhibit the divine omniscience; Brúmha with four faces, to display the perfect wisdom of God; and Doorga with ten hands, to teach that God is almighty. It is a fact, however, that the Hindoos are never thus instructed by the forms of their idols. When the author once interrogated a learned bramhŭn on this subject, he rejected this Christian explanation of the forms of his idols, and referred him to the image of Ravėnė, the cannibal, who is painted with a hundred arms, and ten heads!.

| The Hindoo fable on this subject is so insufferably gross, that it cannot be printed.

1 Thus Briareus, one of the monsters brought forth by the earth, is said to have had a hundred arms, with which he threw up to heaven the rocks from the sea shore against Jupiter.

It has been common too to represent the idols as personifications of the virtues, and as teaching, by hieroglyphics, a theory of morals. As it respects the Hindoos, however, the fact is, that they have still, for popular use, a system of morals to seek : some of their idols are actually personifications of vice; and the formularies used before the images, so far from conveying any moral sentiment, have the greatest possible tendency to corrupt the mind with the love of riches and pleasure m.

To the author it seems equally improbable, that the original framers of idols designed to teach by them a system of natural science. The distance of time betwixt the formation of different images, militates strongly against such an idea: men of science, also, have generally held idolatrous rites in contempt; but before a man would sit down to frame an image, to teach the sciences, his mind must have been enthusiastically attached to idolatry. Nor does it appear probable, that the Hindoo poets were the first who set up idol worship; though we admit, that many ideas on this subject were borrowed from their extravagant descriptions, and ethereal visions. The introduction of new idols seems, in most instances, to have been the work of kings, who sought the gratification of the populace, rather than their instruction; and the exhibition of popular sentiments, rather than the teaching of profound mysteries, or the principles of science. It appears from the Brůmhŭ-voivůrttů pooranŭ, that king Soorůt’hů first set up the image of Doorga; king Múngủlú, that of Lūkshmēē; Ushwŭ-pútee, that of Savitrēē, the wife of Brůmha; king Sooyůgnủ, that of Radha, the mistress of Krishnů; Růmyurút’hủ, king of Oojjủnginee, that of Kartikeyủ; king Shivũ, that of Sõõryŭ ; and the sage Boudhayúnŭ, that of Gắnéshủ.

The author imagines, that the disclosure of real facts respecta ing the Mythology of the Hindoos, would greatly tend to eluci

in See Mr. Colebrooke's translation of many of these formularies, in liis excellent Essays on the Religious Ceremonies of the Hindoos, in the vth and viith volumes of the Asiatic Researches.

date the origin of that of ALL THE EASTERN NATIONS ; and he here offers to the consideration of his readers a conjecture or two, the fruit of his own enquiries. The philosophers of all these nations conceived, that the Great Spirit remains for ever unknown, that he neither comes within the thoughts nor the speech of men. In the Chandogyŭ oopůnishủd of the Rig védů, we have a discourse on this subject, in which Shwétă-kétoo enquired of Boudhayúnŭ respecting Brůmhủ: the sage answered him by an impressive silence : on being called upon for the reason of this silence, he answered, Brůmhŭ is undescribable: he who says, “ I know Brúmhŭ," knows him not; he who says, " I know him not,” has obtained this knowledge. The védů declares, that - he is that which has never been seen nor known. In other words, he is the Athenian unknown God.' The One God is never worshipped by the Hindoos as a mere spiritual being, but always as united to matter, and before some image.

When Brůmhŭ resolved to create, according to the pooranŭs“, he looked upono that which is denominated by the Hindoo philosophers delusion, or inanimate energy P, and became subject to the three qualities (goonŭs) of which it is composed—that which leads to truth, and is called sŭttů; that which excites desires, (růjů;) and that which leads to sensuality, (tūmė.) He now created time, nature, and future consequences; the primary elements; the organs of sense, of action, and of intellect : he next became the first form, or pattern, or the aggregate, of life, and individuated himself into separate portions of animal life; and then, under the name of Vishnoo, he created the universe from the waters, and entered it as the soul of the world.

n The Shrée-Bhagůvůtů, &c. The Noiyayikės declare, that the uni. verse was created from atoms; while the Mēēmangsúkůs, equally wise, affirm, that the consequences of actions were the only things united to birth.

Or,' as the word is explained by some Hindoo scholars,' the first inclination of the Godhead to diversify himself, by creating worlds.' Sir W. Jones.

P It is called delusion, or appearance, to shew, that it is something assumed for an occasion, and which, when that occasion is served, will be destroyed : hence they say, that matter is from everlasting, but is subject to destruction. It is called inanimate energy, as it supplies the forms of things, though the vivifying principle is God.

While Vishnoo lay asleep on the waters, a lotus ascended from his navel, from which sprung Brůmha, the creator. Shivă, Vishnoo, and Brůmha, are considered as the representations of the three goonės: Vishnoo of the sŭttủ goonů, Brůmha of the růjú, and Shivů of the tŭmů. We have no regular account of the creation of Vishnoo and Shivů. Almost all the other Hindoo deities are found to be derived from the three principal gods : Indrė, Kamů-dévů, Doorga, Sõõryŭ, Ugnee, Půvănů, Vŭrooni, Gŭroorů, Vishwŭ-kůrma, Sŭrůswūtēē, Yůmů, &c. are the descendants of Brúmha ;-Gůnéshủ, Júgủnnat'hů, Búlúramů, Ramů, Krishnů, Gopalú, Gopēē-nat'hů, Valu-Gopalů, Choitŭnyú, Sŭtyú-Narayůnů, Lukshmēē, &c. are forms of Vishnoo;-Kartikéyè, Pủnchanủnů, Roodrů, Kalů-Bhoirůvů, '&c. are forms of Shivů. Thus,' as Sir W. Jones has observed, we must not be surprised at finding, on a close examination, that the characters of all the Pagan deities, male and female, melt into each other, and at last into one or two.'

[ocr errors]

But the enquiry returns, "What is the object of worship among the Hindoos ?'

It is not the One God, but this compound being, the soul of the world inclosed in matter, primeval energy, the prolific and vivifying principle dwelling in all animated existences 4, or in other words the personification of

o the

9 When the following lines of Pope were read to Gopală-tůrkalúnkarů, a learned bramhŭn, he started from his seat, begged for a copy of them, and declared that the author must have been a Hindoo :

* All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul ;-
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees ;

Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
3. Spreads undivided, operates unspent.”

[blocks in formation]
« PoprzedniaDalej »