Obrazy na stronie

personification of the heavens: his name, Indrú, signifies the glorious; and his body, covered with stars, might easily be supposed to resemble the spangled heavens.'

The worship of aërial beings, under the general name of spirits, is easily accounted for from the proneness of mankind to superstitious fears respecting invisible existences, and from the notion found in the Hindoo writings, that every form of animated existence has its tutelar divinity presiding over itk.

These appear to have been the first gods worshipped in India, though such a system of mythology could in no way account for the existence and government of the universe ; which exhibited a process for which this system made no provision. This might therefore induce later Hindoo theologians to add three new gods, under the characters of the CREATOR, the PRESERVER, and the DESTROYER,-Brůmha, Vishnoo, and Shivủ ; and the pooranŭs exhibit each of these gods at his post, committing faults and absurdities that would disgrace beings destitute of every spark of divinity, and even of reason.

A philosophical doctrine found in the Tůntrůs, having reference to the supposed union of spirit and matter in the formation of the world', has introduced an order of FEMALE deities among this people, at the head of which stands Bhúgůvětēē, or Doorga Of this goddess, many forms are worshipped among the Hindoos; and indeed almost all the goddesses are only different forms of Bhủgůvětēē, as the image of Průkritee, or nature.

Júgủnnat’hủ, the lord of the world; Koovérů, the god of riches; Kamů-dévů, the god of love; Kartikeyú, the god of war; Yümů, the regent of death; and Vishwŭ-kúrmů, the architect of the gods; seem to have originated in the fables of the Hindoos, and in the imagined necessities of a people destitute of just ideas respecting Divine Providence.

k Diseases also, and divisions of time, as well as places, have their, tutelar deities. The god Bhúgů, who is blind of both eyes, presides over the members of the body.

1 Mr. Paterson thinks, that the mixed image of Húrti-Gourēē, in which Shivů and Doorga are united in one image, is intended to represent this union.

Krishnů, Ramů, and other terrestrial gods, are evidently deified


These general remarks may probably account for the whole system of Hindoo idolatry, without the absolute necessity of admitting that this people borrowed their gods from their neighbours. That they borrowed some, or the features of some, many striking coincidences hereafter mentioned seem to indicate; but, these coincidences excepted, we have found no further evidence of this factm.

I shall now give some account of the gods found in the HinDoo PANTHEON», as a very brief notice of what the reader has to expect in this volume.

It may be necessary, however, to premise, that the Hindoos profess to have 330,000,000 of gods : not that they have even the names of such a number; but they say, that God performs all his works by the instrumentality of the gods, and that all human actions, as well as all the elements, have their tutelar deities.

Images have been chosen to fix the mind of the worshipper,

in Should the reader, however, be inclined to pursue this subject, he will find much ingenious conjecture, and many apparent resemblances betwixt 'the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythology and that' of the Hindoos, in Mr. Paterson's essay already alluded to.

a The Hindoos have no temple like the Pantheon at Rome ; but the palaces of some Hindoo rajas contains courts filled with idols, each of which has an establishment of priests, who daily perform the ceremonies of worship.

and attributes of power and splendour, and various fables, having been added in the forms of devotion and the addresses to the gods, all these attributes are recognized, and the contents of these fables rehearsed, to raise in the mind of the worshipper the highest thoughts of the power of the idol.

He who approaches an idol, seeking the happiness of a future state, is required to fix in his mind only one idea, that the god can save him: and in this respect all the gods, however various their images, are equal. But when a Hindoo is anxious to obtain any peculiar favour, he applies to the god whose province it is to bestow it: thus, he who prays to Brůmha, entreats that he may be like him, in order to absorption ; but he who is anxious that his members may continue perfect, and that he may enjoy the pleasures of the senses, worships Indrů;

he who desires children, prays to the progenitors of mankind; he who seeks worldly prosperity, worships Lủkshmēē; he who prays for a shining body, supplicates Ugnee; the person who is anxious for strength, applies to Roodrů; the glutton prays to Uditee; he who pants for a crown, applies to Vishwŭdévŭ or Swayůmbhoovů; a king intreats Sadhyů, that his kingdom may be free from sedition; he who prays for long life, addresses himself to Ushwinēē-koomarů ; he who desires corpulence, addresses Prit'hivēē; he who prays that he may preserve his homestead, petitions Prit'hivēē and the regents of space; he who seeks beauty, prays to the Gũndhŭrvủs; he who prays for a good wife, calls on Oorvėsēē, a celestial courtezan ; he who seeks honour, prays to Yůgnŭ; he who is anxious for storehouses full of wealth, calls on Průchéta ; the seeker of wisdom, solicits the favour of Shivů; he or she who seeks union and happiness in the marriage state, addresses Doorga; he who wishes to destroy his enemy, supplicates Noiritú; he who is anxious for strength of body, prays to Vayoo; he who prays to be preserved from obstruction in his affairs, calls on Koovérů ; he who prays for the merit of works, applies to the regent of verse; he who prays for pleasure in the enjoyment of earthly things, addresses Chủndrů; he who desires freedom from worldly pas



sions, he who asks for the completion of all his desires, he who prays for absorption, and the person free from all desire, worship Brůmha. Hence it appears, that all the Hindoo gods, except Brůmha, are considered as bestowing only temporal favours ; and it has been already observed, that this god has been abandoned, and left without either temples or images. Thus the whole system excites in the mind of the worshipper only cupidity and the love of pleasure ; and to this agrees what I have repeatedly heard from sensible bramhŭns, that few if any persons now attend the public festivals with a direct view to a future state.

It is common for the Hindoos to speak of some of their gods as benevolent, and to treat others as malignant beingso: Shivů, as well as other gods, unites both these qualities; in one hand he holds a dreadful weapon, and with two others he blesses a worshipper, and invites him to approach. Not one of these images, however, conveys the least idea of the moral attributes of God.

1. Brůmha. This god may be properly noticed first, as he is called the creator, and the grandfather of gods and men ; in the latter designation he resembles Jupiter, as well as in the lasciviousness of his conduct, having betrayed a criminal passion towards his own daughter. Brůmha's image is never worshipped, nor even made ; but the Chúndēē describes it as that of a red man with four faces p. He is red, as a mark of his being full of the rủjú goonů ; he has four faces, to remind the worshipper that the védús proceeded from his four mouths. In one hand he has a string of beads, to shew that his power aś creator was

• Hindoo women, and the lower orders, regard Pủnchanúnė, Důkshintrayů, Mănúsa, Shēētúla, Shủsht'héē, as malignant demons, and worship them through fear, still praying to them for protection. The superior deities, though arrayed with attributes of terror, are considered as using their power only in favour of the worshipper.

p Brůmha had five heads, but Shivů deprived him of one, as a punishment for his lust.

derived from his devotion. The pan of water in his left hand points out, that all things sprang from water. It has excited much surprise, that this deity, so pre-eminent, should be entirely destitute of a temple and of worshippers. Mr. Paterson supposes, that, in some remote age, the worshippers of Shivŭ carried on a contest with the followers of Brúmha, and wholly suppressed the worship of this god. This conjecture opens a wide field of'enquiry; but this gentleman does not adduce any historical evidence of the fact. The story of Shivủ's cutting off one of the heads of Brůmha, and the existence of violent contentions betwixt different sects of Hindoos at the present day, can scarcely be considered as establishing it, though the conjecture appears not altogether improbable. These contentions for superiority are annually renewed at Húree-dwarů, Uyodhya, &c. betwixt the Voishnůvủs (Ramatės) and the followers of Shivů, in which quarrels many perish 4.

2. Vishnoo. This is the image of a black man, with four arms, sitting on Gŭroorú, a creature half-bird, half-man, and holding in his hands the sacred shell, the chủkrů, the lotus, and a club. "His colour (black) is that of the destroyer, which is intended to show, that Shivů and he are one; he has four hands, as the representative of the male and female powers; the shell (blown on days of rejoicing) implies that Vishnoo is a friendly deity; the chủkrŭ is to teach that he is wise to protect; the lotus is to remind the worshipper of the nature of final emancipation, that, as this flower is raised from the muddy soil, and after rising by degrees from immersion in the waters, expands itself above the surface to the admiration of all, so man is emancipated from the chains of human birth; the club shews that he chastises the wicked.

Raja-Ramů, a learned shikh, employed as a translator in the Serampore printing-office, says, that about forty years ago, not less than 10,000 persons, and, about twenty years ago, 4 or 5,000 perished in these contests at Hůree-dwarů. Another proof, added to that respecting the Bouddhús, that the Hindoo is not free from the fiercest spirit of perse. cution,

« PoprzedniaDalej »