Obrazy na stronie

Odwoitủ before-mentioned, who had heard of this birth, having some suspicions that it might be the incarnation he had expected and foretold, visited the parents, and learning from the mother that she had not received the initiating incantation of Huree, he wrote, with his great toe, this incantation on the soft earth :- Huree, Krishnŭ; Huree, Krishnŭ ; Krishnė, Krishnŭ, Húree, Húree; Hŭree, Ramů, Hŭree, Ramů, Ramŭ, Ramů, Huree, Huree. After the mother had received this incantation, the child was taken down, and immediately began to draw the breast.

Choitűnyŭ made a great progress in learning; at sixteen he married Vishnoo-priya, and continued in a secular state till forty-four, when he was persuaded by Odwoitŭ and other dúndéēs then at his house, to renounce his poita, and become a mendicant: upon which, forsaking his mother and wife, he went to Benares. His family was reduced to great distress indeed; and it was thought a crime that a person upon whom such a family depended should embrace a life of mendicity.

From this period Choitúnyŭ began to form a new sect, giving to all his followers the preceding initiatory incantation, and continuing to call them voishnúvós. He exhorted them to renounce a secular life; to visit the different

dicants, who make a merit of possessing no worldly attachments, sometimes hang up a child in a pot in a tree; or, putting it in a pot, let it float down the river. Persons of other casts may do it, but these the most frequently. Mr. Carey's journal, dated in July, 1794, contains the following paragraph: One day, as Mr. Thomas and I were riding'out, we saw a basket hung in a tree, in which an infant had been exposed; the skull remained, but the rest had been devoured by ants.' See Baptist Mission Accounts, vol. i. p. 183. This practice is now prohibited by the Hon. Company's Government, in a regulation made for that purpose.

holy places on pilgrimage; to eat with all casts who should receive the preceding incantation; to repeat the name of Vishnoo, using the bead-roll made with the stalk of basil. He further taught that widows might marry ; but forbad the eating of fish or flesh, and the worship of the deities to whom bloody sacrifices are offered, as well as all communion with those who make these sacrifices.

He went to Júgủnnat'hủ-kshétru in Orissa, and there assuming six arms, received many honours. He exhorted Odwoită and Nityanŭndŭ to labour in making proselytes ; but directed Nityanúndŭ to enter into a secular states: he did so, and took up his residence at Khắrdu, near Calcutta. Choitúnyú wrote to his two principal disciples from Orissa, again exhorting them to labour in gaining proselytes ; yet few or none joined them: and from this time Choitúnyŭ himself was never more heard of. Údwoitŭ and Nityanŭndŭ raised families, whose descendants live at Shantipoorů, Vagna-para, and Khúrdú to this day, where they are become leaders of the sect; all other Gosaees 2 acknowledging the descendants of these two families as their superiors, and prostrating themselves before them. These Gosaees at present are men of large fortunes; at whose houses are the images originally set up by the male descendant of Choitúnyů, by Nityanŭndŭ, and Odwoită. Crowds are almost constantly arriving at these places with offerings : besides which, the Gosaees derive a large revenue from marriages, to superintend which they have agents distributed throughout the country, who are allowed a sixth part of the fee; a sum that from both parties amounts to about six shillings. They also dissolve marriages at the

y Perceiving his aversion to a life of mendicity. ? Distant branches of the same families.

pleasure of the parties, on receiving the same fees. When a new disciple is initiated, a fee is also given ; but the Gosaees obtain the largest sums at the deaths of such of their disciples as die intestate. At Calcutta, nearly all the women of ill-fame profess the religion of Choitŭnyŭ before their death, that they may be entitled to some sort of funeral rites: as almost all these persons die intestate, and have no relations who will own them, the Gosaees obtain their effects.

The anniversaries of the deaths of the original founders of the sect are observed as festivals.

One fifth of the whole Hindoo population of Bengal are supposed to be followers of Choitặnyú, and of the Gosaees, his successors.

Many of these persons despise the other sects of Hindoos, and are great enemies of the bramhŭns. They refuse to eat without their necklace, as the bramhŭns do without their poita. Most of the mendicant followers of Vishnoo have embraced the tenets of Choitặnyŭ; but many of the disciples of the latter live in a secular state, and some of them are possessed of large property. Persons of this description frequently entertain a great number of voiragees at their houses; when, as an act of great merit, they prostrate themselves before these wanderers, wash, and lick the dust of their feet, and devour their orts. They pay no attention to the feasts and fasts of the Hindoo calendar, except those in honour of Krishnŭ.

The images most regarded among this sect are those of Choitủnyŭ and Nityanŭndŭ, set up at Ŭmbika, in the district of Burdwan.

About a hundred years ago, another man rose up in Bengal as the leader of a sect, whose dress, of many colours, is said to be so heavy that two or three people can scarcely carry it. This and his string of beads are preserved as relics at Ghoshparů, where he continued five years, and died at the house of Ramŭ-Shŭrŭnė-Palů, a shõõdrů of the Sud-gopŭ cast, to whom he communicated his supernatural powers; and who, after the death of this mendicant, began to teach the doctrine of a constant incarnation, and that God then dwelt in him. He persuaded many that he could cure the leprosy, and other diseases; and preached the doctrines of Choitŭnyú, imitating him in conforming, for convenience sake, to many of the superstitions of the Hindoos. He also gave a new initiating incantation to his followersa, who, of whatever cast, ate together privately. Vast multitudes joined this man, both Músèlmans and Hindoos; and carried him presents, eating together once or twice a year. By this means, from a state of deep poverty he became rich, and his son now lives in affluence.

A number of Ramů-Shŭrúnŭ's disciples adhere to his son Doolalú ; others follow. Shivŭ-Ramŭ and some others of the old man's disciples, who pretend to have received the power of their master to cure diseases, &c. Though part of the father's followers have thus apostatized, Doolală pretends that he has now 20,000 disciples.

a The following is a translation of this incantation : 'O sinless Lord, o great Lord; at thy pleasure I go and return: not a moment am I without thee. I am ever with thee; save, O great Lord.'

SECT. VIII.--Vishwŭ-kůrmab

Is the son of Brůmha, and architect of the gods : he is painted white, has three eyes, holds a club in his right hand; wears a crown, a necklace of gold, and rings on his wrists. He presides over the arts, manufactures, &c.

The worship of this god is performed once, twice, or four times a year, in the month Ugrúhayúnŭ, Poushủ, Choitrů, or Bhadrů, by all artificers, to obtain success in business. The ceremonies may be performed either in the day or night, before any implements of trade. The joiners set up their mallet, chisel, saw, hatchet, &c. as the representative of this god. Weavers choose their shuttle, &c. putting them into the hole in the earth wherein they place their feet when they sit at work. The razor is the barber's god on this occasion. The potter, after a month's fast, adopts and worships the wheel with which he turns his pots. Masons choose their trowel; washermen take the beetle or stamper, their smoothing irons, &c. as their god; blacksmiths worship their hammer and bellows; the farmer his plough; spinsters their wheel. The shoemaker chooses his awl and knife, and bows down to them: and thus, amongst all the artificers, each one chooses the principal tool or instrument with which he works, and makes it a god, or the representative of Vishwŭ-kůrma. The cere

b Vishwė, the world; kůrmů, work.

• This worship affords another strong proof of the low and sordid nature of idolatry, and strikingly illustrates the words of our Lord, after all these things do the Gentiles seek. Instead of raising their minds to the Great Source of all good, these persons are taught to worship the tools belonging to their trades, as the cause of their temporal happiness. This conduct seems to be reproved in the first chapter of the book of Habak.

« PoprzedniaDalej »