« PoprzedniaDalej »
in every stage and state of life. The fees of the priest are in general very small : on some occasions, at the dedication of a temple, at the ceremonies for the dead when performed for a rich man, at the great festivals, &c. the priest receives very liberal presents.
Female priests are almost unknown to the Hindoos'; one or two. instances are recorded in vol. i. pp. 232, 235.
The ceremonies at the temples are in most cases performed daily, morning, noon, and evening, at which times food is presented to the idol : the services are short, consisting of a few forms of petition and praise; during the presentation of flowers, leaves, and (except to 'Shivů) a few articles of food, the priest is commonly the only person present. The doors of the lingủ temples are generally open all day; multitudes of these temples are never honoured with worship, though they contain an idol : this is accounted for by there being several of these temples erected in one spot belonging to the same individual. Hindoos in general bow to the image as they pass the temple, whether the doors be open or shut. Where the deity is honoured by bloody sacrifices, a post is erected in front of the temple, for the slaughter of animals. No assemblies can be formed in these edifices; but on particular occasions the people are collected before the door, and sit or stand under an awning. The idols in honour of Vishnoo are laid down to sleep in the day, if the image be not too large ;--a poor compliment to a god, that he wants rest. The utensils employed in the ceremonies at the temples, are, several dishes to hold the offerings, a hand bell, a lamp, jugs for holding water, an incense dish, a copper cup to receive drink-offerings for deceased ancestors and the gods, another smaller one to pour from, a seat of kooshủ grass for the priest, a large metal plate used as a bell, and a conch or shell. All these articles do not cost more than twenty shillings, unless the owner wish them to be costly.
Daily, weekly, monthly, and annual ceremonies abound among this people, to whom may truly be applied the remark of Paul to the Athenians, (Acts xvii. 22;) the festivals are noted in the Hindoo almanacks, and are generally held at the full or total wane of the moon. In the month of February, they have one festival in honour of the goddess of learning, Súrůswūtēē, which continues one day. In March three, in honour of Shivů, Krishnů, and Gunga. In April two; one on the anniversary of the birth of Ramŭ, and the other the horrid swinging festival. In June two; one in honour of Gũnga, and the other Jugůnnat'hủ's car festival; the latter is again revived in July, when the ear returns to the temple. In August the cow is worshipped, and the birth of Krishnů celebrated. In September the memory of deceased ancestors is commemorated, and the Doorga festival held. In October one, in honour of the goddess Rŭtůntēē; and in November another, in honour of Kartikeyú, the god of war. On all these occasions the public offices are closed; but many other holidays are kept by the Hindoos, which are not honoured as public festivals.
The reader will find, in vol.ii.p. 27. an account of the daily duties of a bramhŭn; by which it appears, that if he strictly conform to the rules of his religion, he must spend almost his whole time in religious ceremonies. The present race of bramhủns curtail these ceremonies, especially those engaged in secular affairs, who spend perhaps ten or twenty minutes in the morning, after their ablutions, in repeating the usual formulas before the lingů, or the stone called the shalúgramů, or a pan of water. Many, however, content themselves with bathing, and repeating the name of their guardian deity.
The form of initiation into the service of a person's guardian deity consists in giving him the name of this deity, and exhorting him to repeat it continually. The ceremony of initiation is given in vol. ii. p. 38. From this time, the initiated becomes entitled to all the privileges of the Hindoo religion, is placed under the protection of the gods, and receives the benediction of his spiritual guide. The Hindoos are careful to conceal the words
of initiation, and do not wish to declare to strangers what god they have chosen for their guardian deity.
The spiritual guide, who is chosen by the person himself, receives the highest reverence from the disciple, and is sometimes worshipped by him as a god Disobedience to this guide is one of the highest offences a Hindoo can commit, and his anger is dreaded more than that of the gods. When the disciple approaches him, he prostrates himself at his feet, and the priest places his foot on his head. To such a state of degradation does the Hindoo superstition reduce the people! These priests are notorious for covetousness and impurity: some of them plunder the disciples of their all, and others violate the chastity of their wives. They are not distinguished by any particular dress, nor do they perform any offices of worship for their disciples.
Bathing in the Ganges, or in some other sacred river, or pool, is one of the most constant and necessary duties enjoined upon the Hindoos : the bramhŭns, after bathing, frequently complete their devotions on the banks of the river; others go home, and repeat the requisite forms before the shalúgramů, or a pan of water. The people are taught that bathing is a religious ceremony, by which they become purified from sin n! They are never directed to bathe to promote bodily health. In the act of bathing, they pour out drink-offerings to deceased ancestors.
• And yet so far are the Hindoos from having any moral feelings, even in their acts of purification, that few men bathe in a retired situation : the majority choose those places to which the female bathers resort, and on their account remain in the water long beyond the time necessary for their ablutions. Many an infamous assignment is made by looks, &c. while they are thus washing away their sins. A number of bramhŭns engage as cooks to opulent families, to facilitate their licentious intrigues : this is become so common, that the bramhŭns, proverbially known by the name of cooking bramhŭns, are treated with the greatest suspicion by those who care for the chastity of their wives. Multitudes of bramhŭns likewise are employed as priests to prostitutes, and actually perform the offices of religion in houses of ill-fame ;--so completely absent is the moral principle from the religion of the Hindoos !
To be convinced how entirely the present race of Hindoos are influenced by the promises of salvation held out in their sacred books on this subject, it is only necessary for a person to attend to what is passing around him, viz. to the crowds bathing at the landing-places of the Ganges; to the persons bearing the sacred water into distant countries, in vessels suspended from their shoulders ; to the shraddhủs and other religious ceremonies performed on its banks; to the number of temples on both sides of the river; to so great a part of the Bengal population having erected their habitations near the river ; to the number of brick landing-places, built as acts of holiness, to assist the people in obtaining the favour of Gũnga; to the houses erected for the sick by the sides of the river; to the people bringing their sick relations, and laying them on bedsteads, or on the ground, by the side of the Ganges, waiting to burn them there, and to throw their ashes into the river ; to the immense crowds on the banks, waiting for a junction of the planets, at which moment they plunge into the stream with the greatest eagerness; to the people committing the images of their gods to the saered stream, at the close of their festivals; and, finally, to the boats crowded with passengers' going to Sagúr island (Günga-sagŭrů) every year
The forms of worship (põõjap) before the idol are particularly laid down in vol. ii. p. 64. The priest who officiates has the eommon dress of a bramhŭn ; it must, however, be clean : he has occasionally one or two bramhŭns to assist him in presenting the offerings.
• Till lately, people used to throw themselves, or their children, to the alligators at this place, under the idea that dying at Gůnga-sagŭrů, in the jaws of an alligator, was the happiest of deaths. This is now prevented by a guard of sepoys sent by government.
p The Ain Akbůree says, the Hindoos divide põõja into sixteen ceremonies. After the devotee has performed his usual and indispensable ablutions, with the sundhya and homů, he sits down, looking towards the east or the north, with his legs drawn up in front. Then, taking in his hand a little water and rice, he sprinkles the idol, and conceives this act to be a proper preface to the commencement of his adoration. Next follows the worship of the idol's flagon. Then succeeds the worship of the conch-shell. Last in order, a ceremony which consists in plastering the bell with ashes of sandal-wood. When he has finished, he throws down a little rice, and wishes that his god may be manifested. These various
duties are all comprised in the first of the sixteen ceremonies. In the second, he prepares and places a table of metal, either gold, silver, or copper, as a seat or throne for a deity. In the third, he throws water into a vessel to wash his feet; for in Hindoost'hanŭ it is the custom, that, when a superior enters the house of an inferior, he washes his feet.-In the fourth, he sprinkles water thrice, to represent the idol rincing his mouth, since it is also the custom for an inferior to bring to a superior water to rince his mouth with before meals.-In the fifth, sandal, flowers, betel, and rice are offered to the idol.-In the sixth, the idol and his throne are carried to another spot: then the worshipper takes in his right hand a white conch-shell full of water, which he throws over the idol,and with his left hand rings the bell.-In the seventh, he wipes the idol dry with a cloth, replaces it upon its throne, and adorns it with vestments of silk or gold stuff.-In the eighth, he puts the zennar upon the idol.-In the ninth, he makes the tilúk upon the idol in twelve places.- In the tenth, he throws over the idol flowers or green leaves.-- In the eleventh, he fumigates it with perfumes.-In the twelfth, he lights a lamp with ghēē.- In the thirteenth, he places before the idol trays of food, according to his ability; which are distributed among the by-standers, 'as the holy relies of the idol's banquet.- In the fourteenth, he stretches himself at full length with his face towards the ground, and disposes his body in such a manner, as that his eight members touch the ground, namely, the two knees, two hands, forehead, nose, and cheeks. These kiods of prostration are also performed to great men in Hindoost’hanů.-In the fifteenth, he makes a circuit around the idol several times. In the sixteenth, he stands in the posture of a slave, with his hands uplifted, and asks permission to depart.'-At some of the great festivals, boys in play make an image, paint it, and beg from house to house for the offerings, as rice, fruits, &c. When all things are ready, some one becomes the priest, and performs the ceremonies. Thus early are the Hindoo children initiated into their idolatrous rites. If, however, the parents of these children discover what is going on, they forbid it, and warn the children, that the god will be displeased. If it be an image of Kalēē, or any ferocious deity, they endeavour to terrify the children, by telling them that the goddess is a fury, and will certainly devour them. If any elderly boy be concerned, and the image made be a good one, the parents will sometimes, rather than destroy it,-call a bramhŭn, and have the eeremonies performed in a regular way.