Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Gŭroorŭ is a portion of Shivů; his body represents the védú. Vishnoo is distinguished as being the source of most of the Hindoo incarnations; in which forms he commands the worship of the greatest division of the Hindoo population. I know of no temples nor festivals in honour of Vishnoo. He is called the Preserver, but the actions ascribed to him under this character are referred to other forms and names. The shalgramů, a stone, is a form of Vishnoo. During four months of the year, all the forms of this god are laid to sleep. From the agreement of this fact with what is said of Horus, Mr. Paterson gathers a resem blance betwixt Vishnoo and Horus, and supposes that the Hindoos derived their system from the Egyptian : he conjectures, also, that the fable of Vishnoo's lying down to sleep, turning to one side, and rising, refer to the increase, the greatest rise, and the retiring of the waters of the Ganges, the Indian Nile. The state of the river in these four months agrees with this supposition, though the bramhŭns I consulted were not aware that this ceremony had any connection with the Ganges. Vishnoo is sometimes called the household god.

3. Shivŭ is a white man with five faces and four arms, riding on a bull. In one hand he holds an axe, as the destroyer of the wicked; in another a deer, alluding to a sacrifice, when the deer, fleeing from the sacrificial knife, took refuge with Shivủ; with another hand he is bestowing a blessing, and with the last forbidding fear. Four of his faces are designed to point out the sixty-four túntrŭs, and the other a different tůntrŭ. The bull is a form of Vishnoo, as the personification of religion ; its four feet are, religious austerities, purity, compassion, and truth. In some particulars, this god strongly reminds us of Vulcan and Bacchus. The few Hindoos in Bengal who adopt Shivŭ as their guardian deity, are called soivyús. Except those of the lingú and Pủnchanŭnů, very few temples exist in honour of any other form of Shivŭ : and none of his form riding on a bull. Before the lingu, Shivů is however daily worshipped under eight separate names, answering to the sun, moon, wind, fire, water, earth, air, and an officiating priest at a sacrifice. Mr. Paterson thinks, that there were once fierce contentions amongst the four principal sects, and that as the soivyús first prevailed against the worshippers of Brůmha, so, in its turn, this sect was subdued by the followers of Vishnoo and of the female deities. The filthy appearance of Shivů as a mendicant covered with ashes, and his quarrels with Doorga, his wife, have given rise to several ludicrous stories found in the pooranŭs. This marriage excited the same surprise as that betwixt Venus and Vulcan, and seems an unaccountable event, unless it was intended to illustrate the gross idea of the Túntrŭ writers respecting the origin of the universe. Shivŭ has three eyes like Jupiter, wears a tiger's skin like Bacchus, and like him wandered about when on earth as a bloated mendicant, accompanied by satyrs. Bacchus wore a deer's skin; and Shivŭ is represented as holding a deer in his hand. The worship of the lingů, also, strongly resembles the worship of the phallus in honour of Bacchus. The sůnyasēë festival in honour of Shivů (see vol. i. p. 19.) appears to resemble much the orgies of Bacchus, especially in the behaviour of the devotees', who are said to have run up and down the streets with their hair disheveled, and with lighted torches in their hands. In the months Voishakhů and Kartiků, the lingŭ is worshipped daily in the numerous temples dedicated to this abomination throughout Bengal. It is difficult to restrain one's indignation at the shocking violation of every thing decent in this image ; nor can it be ground of wonder, that a chaste woman, faithful to her husband, is scarcely to be found among all the millions of Hindoos, when their very temples are polluted with filthy images, and their acts of worship tend to inflame the mind with licentious ideas s. Another form of Shivŭ is that of

"A most singular coincidence appears to exist here betwixt the Hindoo and the Roman ceremonies.—These sünyasēēs, though taken from the lowest order, wear the poita as bramhŭns during this festival. Kennett, in his Roman Antiquities, book v. p. 305, says, respecting the shews after a funeral, “ Though the exhibiters of these shews were private persons, yet during the time of the celebration, they were considered as of thc highest rank and quality, having the honour to wear the Prætexta.'

• I am credibly informed, that a Hindoo, once on a visit at a temple Kalı-Bhoirūvį, in which form he cut off Brůmha's head, which is seen in one of his hands. A sect of mendicants, called yogůbhogů-vadēēs, who wear a large stone inserted through an incision in each ear, live at the temples of this god, and are sometimes seen, with a prostitute in one hand, and a pan of hot coals in the other, with each of which (the representatives of pleasure and pain) they profess to be equally pleased. Another form of this god is that of Müha-kali, in which he appears as the destroyer. "Müha-kală, as represented in the caverns of Elephanta,' says Mr. Paterson, · has eight arms; in one hand he holds a human figure; in another, a sword or sacrificial axe; in a third, a basin of blood; and with a fourth he rings over it the sacrificial bell : two other arms are broken off, but with the two remaining he is drawing behind him a veil, which extinguishes the sun, and involves the whole universe in one undistinguished ruin. In . the hieroglyphic of the Müha Prúlúyú, (or grand consummation of all things,) Shivů is represented as trodden under foot by Múha Kalēēt, or Eternity. He is there deprived of his crescent, trident, and necklaces, to show that his dominion and powers are no more; and is blowing the tremendous horn, which announces the annihilation of all created things.'

[ocr errors]

4. Indri. This is the king of heaven, and the infamous violator of the wife of his religious guide : he is painted as a yellow man, sitting on an elephant, with a thunder-bolt in one hand, and a club in the other; and, like Argus, is full of eyes. All the attributes of his image are only the signs of his office as a king. He has one annual festival, and is very famous in the

near Serampore, asked the officiating bramhŭn to give him a proof that the idol was able to converse with him. The bramhún entered the temple, shutting the door after him, and the visitor, astonished at immediately hearing voices, interrogated the priest respecting it, who solemnly affirmed from within, that it was Júgủnnat'hŭ who was speaking ;-but the visitor, determined to ascertain so interesting a fact, forced open the temple door, and—whom should he see, inquisitive reader, but the mistress of the officiating bramhŭn?

t. This is the famous image worshipped at Kalēz-Ghatủ, near Calcutta.

pooranŭs for the number of wars and intrigues in which he has been engaged. His throne changes masters at the end of seventyone yoogús of the gods. Jupiter was called the king of heaven, and the Fulminator: Indrŭ's names, Divŭs-pătee and Vůjrēē, are significant of similar offices.

5. Yimit, the Indian Pluto, is a dark-green man, clothed in red, with inflamed eyes; he sits on a buffalo, has'a crown on his head, and holds in his right hand a club with which he drives out the soul from the body, and punishes the wicked. This is his form of terror, as king of the souls of the dead; but he is also worshipped in a form less terrific, which he is said to assume when he passes a sentence of happiness on the meritorious. Beside his annual festival, he is worshipped on other occasions; and receives the homage of the Hindoos in their daily ablutions. There are several remarkable coincidences between Yümŭ and Pluto,' as will be seen by comparing the fables respecting the latter and those in vol. i. page 75. of this work : the images of both · Grin horribly a ghastly smile.' Pluto had a rod in his hand; Yůmů is called Důndú-dhůrů, because he holds in his hand the rod of punishment. Yümŭ is the shraddhủ dévů, or the regent of funeral rites; and the institution of funeral obsequies is ascribed to Pluto. The dead, in going to Yŭmŭ's judgment-hall, cross Voitúrúnēē, the Indian styxu; the waters of which, like those of Phlegethon, the fourth river of hell which the dead were obliged to cross, are said to be boiling hot. Yủmů has several assistants, like Minos, who keep a register of human actions. There is something in the story inserted in vol. i. page 83, which seems to coincide with Pluto's being obliged to steal his wife Proserpine, because he could obtain no other goddess, his visage being so horrible and his habitation so gloomy. The Hindoos consider hell as situated at the southern extremity of the earth ; the Greeks and Romans thought it was a large subterraneous spot in the earth.

* This river encircled the infernal regions nine times : Voitărúnēē encircles this hall six times.

6. Ginéshů. A fat short red man, with four arms and an elephant's head, sitting on a rat. His corpulency is a type of Brúmha, as the aggregate of all things. In one hand he holds a bell, which is the pattern of a temple, and also points out that this god banishes fear; in another he holds a serpent-weapon, to show that he throws impediments in the way of the wicked ; another grasps the hook by which elephants are guided, which points out that he guides the mind; and with the other he forbids fear. His elephant's head is a sign of the mystical sound Om, and the trunk is the type of the instrument with which clarified butter is poured on the fire at a sacrifice. The author of the Roodrůyamŭlů, from whom this is extracted, assigns no reason for Gŭnéshủ's riding on a rat. Though he has been compared to Janus, I find but two instances of coincidence betwixt them : every act of worship (põõja) is preceded by an invocation to Gắnéshủ*; and men in business paint his image over the doors of their shops, or suspend it amongst their merchandize, to insure prosperity. Gŭnéshŭ has been complimented as the god of wisdom; but the Hindoo deity presiding over knowledge, or wisdom, is Sŭrůswŭtēē, a goddess. Gũnéshŭ receives many honours from the Hindoos, and is considered as bountiful in bestowing wisdom and other favours, though there are no temples erected to his honour in Bengal. Those who adopt him as their guardian deity, are called Ganůpětyús.

7. Kartikéyů is the Indian Mars, or commander in chief to the gods. 'He has in some images one, and in others six faces; is of a yellow colour; and rides on the peacock, an incarnation of Indrů. In one hand he holds a bow, and in the other an arrow. He is worshipped as the giver of bodily strength.

8. Sõõryú, (the sun.) I do not find the least resemblance betwixt this Hindoo deity and Sol, either in their images or history. The Hindoos, in a most indelicate fable respecting this god, have described the twelve signs of the zodiac. Yŭmủ, the

* ' In the Roman sacrifices, the priest always mentioned first the name of Janus. Kennett, p. 85.

« PoprzedniaDalej »