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Kalēē, standing on her husband Shivă, has a secret meaning, well known to a Hindoo, but which is so indelicate that even they, licentious as they are, dare not make it according to the genuine meaning of the fable to which it belongs Y.' Some of the formulas used at the festival in honour of this goddess, called the Shyama-põõja, relate to things which can never become the subject of description ; but perhaps in this concealed state they are more pernicious than if painted, and exhibited to the open gaze of the mob. To this it may be added, that amidst all the numerous idols worshipped by the Hindoos, there is not one to represent any of the Virtues. In this respect, the Hindoo mythology sinks far below the European; for the Greeks and Romans adored Virtue, Truth, Piety, Chastity, Clemency, Mercy, Justice, Faith, Hope, and Liberty, and consecrated images and temples to these deities. Among the Hindoos, the most innocent part of the system, and that which existed in the purest ages, was the worship of the primary elements, the adoration of inanimate matter!
The manifest effect of idolatry in this country, as held up to thousands of Christian spectators, is an immersion into the grossest moral darkness, and a universal corruption of manners. The Hindoo is taught, that the image is really God, and the heaviest judgments are denounced against him, if he dare to suspect that the image is nothing more than the elements of which it is composed. The Tủntru-sară declares, that such an unbeliever will sink into the regions of torment. In the apprehensions of the people in general, therefore, the idols are real deities; they occupy the place of God, and receive all the homage, all the fear, all the service, and all the honours which HE so justly claims. The government of God is subverted, and all the moral effects arising from the knowledge of his perfections, and his claims upon his rational creatures, are completely lost.
y Hindoos of the baser sort may be seen whispering to each other before this image, and dilating on that which is too filthy for them to utter in an audible voice.
It is a fact too, that the festivals in honour of the gods have the most pernicious effects on the minds of the people. During the ceremonies of worship before the image, the spectators are very few, and these feel no interest whatever in the mummery going forward ; and were it not for those who come to pay a visit of ceremony to the image, and to bring their offerings, the temple would be as little crowded on festival, as on common days : but as soon as the well-known sound of the drum is heard, calling the people to the midnight orgies, the dance and the song, whole multitudes assemble, and almost tread one upon another; and their joy keeps pace with the number of loose women present, and the broad obscenity of the songs. Gopalů. Túrkkalúnkarů, a půndit employed in the Serampore printingoffice, and a very respectable man among the Hindoos, avowed to a friend of mine, that the only attractives on these occasions were the women of ill-fame, and the filthy songs and dances ; that these songs were so abominable, that a man of character, even amongst them, was ashamed of being present ; that if ever he (Gopalú) remained, he concealed himself in a corner of the temple. He added, that a song was scarcely tolerated which did not contain the most marked allusions to unchastity; while those which were so abominable that no person could repeat them out of the temple, received the loudest plaudits2. All this is done in the very face of the idol ; nor does the thought, • Thou God seest me,' ever produce the slightest pause in these midnight revels. In open day, and in the most public streets of a large town, I have seen men entirely naked, dancing with unblushing effrontery before the idol, as it was carried in triumphant procession, encouraged by the smiles and eager gaze of the bramhủns. Yet sights even worse than these, and such as can never be described by the pen of a Christian writer, are exhibited on the rivers and in the public roads, to thousands of spectators, at the
• Sometimes the Hindoos open a subscription to defray the expense of a grand act of worship in honour of some idol. If 400 roopees be subscribed on such an occasion, I am assured, that 300 will be spent on the songs and dancing-girls.
Doorga festivala, the most popular and most crowded of all the Hindoo festivals in Bengal; and which closes with libations to the gods so powerful, as to produce general intoxication. What must be the state of morals in a country, when its religious institutions and public shows, at which the whole population is present, thus sanctify vice, and carry the multitude into the very gulph of depravity and ruin!
There is another feature in this system of idolatry, which increases its pernicious effects on the public manners:—The history of these gods is a highly coloured representation of their wars, quarrels, and licentious intrigues ; which are held up in the images, recitations, songs, and dances at the public festivals. At the separate recitations, which are accompanied with something of our pantomime, these incredible and most indecent fables are made still more familiar to the people; so familiar indeed, that allusions to them are to be perceived in the most common forms of speech. Many works of a pernicious tendency in the European languages are not very hurtful, because they are too scarce and expensive to be read by the poor; but the authors of the Hindoo mythology have taken care, that the quarrels and revels of the gods and goddesses shall be held up to the imitation of the whole community.
In some of these histories and pantomimes Shivŭ is represented as declaring to Lŭkshmēē, that he would part with all the merit of his works for the gratification of a criminal passion; Brůmha as burning with lust towards his own daughter; Krishnů as living with the wife of another, murdering a washerman and stealing his clothes, and sending his friend Yoodhist'hirů to the regions of torment by causing him to utter a falsehood; Indrė and Chŭndrů are seen as the paramours of the wives of their spiritual guides.—But these stories are so numerous in the poo
a The author has more than once been filled with alarm, as this idola. trous procession has passed his house, lest his children should go to the windows, and see the gross obscenity exhibited by the dancers.
ranús, that it seems unnecessary to drag more of them to light. The thing to be deplored is, that the Hindoo objects of worship were themselves monsters of vice.
Painful as this is, it is not all: there is a numerous and growing sect among the Hindoos in Bengal, and perhaps in other provinces, who, in conformity with the rules prescribed in the works called Túntrů, practise the most abominable rites. The proselytes to this sect are chiefly bramhŭns, and are called vamacharēēs. I have given some account of them in vol. i. p. 247. and vol. ii. p. 92. and should have declined blotting these pages with any further allusion to these unutterable abominations, had I not omitted in those accounts an article which I had prepared, and which throws much additional light on the practices of a sect so singularly corrupt.
The rules of this sect are to be found more or less in most of the Túntrès ; but particularly in the Nēēlů, Roodrů-yamŭlů, Yonee, and Unnŭda-kúlpů. In these works the writers have arranged a number of Hindoo sects as follows:-Védacharēēs, Voishnůvacharēēs, Shoivacharēēs, Důkshinacharēēs, Vamacharēēs, Siddhantacharēēs, and Koulacharēēs; each rising in succession, till the most perfect sect is the Koulacharů. When a Hindoo wishes to enter into this sect, he sends for a person who has been already initiated, and who is well acquainted with the forms of initiation; and presenting to him garments, ornaments, &c. begs him to become his religious guide. The teacher then places this disciple near him for three days, and instructs him in the ceremonies of the sect : at the close of which period, the disciple spreads some loose soil on the floor of the house in which the ceremonies of initiation are to be performed; and sows a small quantity of barley, and two kinds of pease, in this soil, sprinkling water upon it. He next proceeds to perform some parts of the ten ceremonies practised by the regular Hindoos from the time of birth to that of marriage : after which he makes a declaration, that he has from period renounced all the ceremonies of the old religion, and is delivered from their yoke; and as a token of joy celebrates what is called the Vriddhee shraddhủ. All these ceremonies are to be performed in the day; what follows is to be done in darkness : and therefore, choosing the darkest part of the night, the seed sown in the house having sprung up, the disciple and his spiritual (it would not be too harsh to say infernal) guide enter the house, with eight men, (vamacharēēs,) and eight females, (a dancinggirl, a weaver's daughter, a woman of ill-fame, a washerwoman, a barber's wife or daughter, a bramhủnēē, the daughter of a land-owner, and a milkmaid.) Each of the vamacharēēs is to place by his side one of the females, and the teacher and his disciple are to sit close to each other. The teacher now informs his disciple, that from henceforward he is not to indulge shame, nor dislike to any thing, nor prefer one plan to another, nor regard ceremonial cleanness or uncleanness, nor cast; and that, though he may freely enjoy all the pleasures of sense, the mind must be fixed on his guardian deity: that is, he is neither to be an epicure nor an ascetic, but to blend both in his character; and to make the pleasures of sense, that is, wine and women, the medium of obtaining absorption into Brůmha; since women are the representatives of the wife of Cupid, and wine prevents the senses from going astray. A pan of spirits, or of water mixed with spirits, is placed near each man and woman ; and in the centre another pan of spirits, different kinds of flesh, (of which that of the cow makes a part,) rice, fruits, &c. and upon each of the eight pans different branches of trees, and garlands of red flowers are placed; the pans also are to be marked with red paint : all these are surrounded with eighty pounds of flour formed into different colours. A pan of intoxicating beverage, called siddhee, is next consecrated; of which each partakes : after which they chew the panŭ leaf. Next, before all the things placed in the centre of the room, the spiritual guide rehearses the common ceremonies of worship, addressing them to any one of the female deities who happens to be the guardian deity of this disciple. The vessels from which the company are to drink, and the offerings, are next consecrated : these vessels may be formed of earth, copper, brass, silver, gold, or stone, the cocoa