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SECT. XII.—The Worship of the "Host of Heaven."
THE Hindoos, like other idolatrous nations, have gone into the worship of the heavenly bodies. The planets, the constellations, the signs of the zodiac, the stars in general, the star Canopus, the star Kalŭ-poorooshů, &c. have all been deified, and are worshipped with appropriate forms of petition, praise, &c. some of them at the festivals of other gods, and others at different times. The constellations are worshipped separately at the births of children, as well as at the anniversaries of these births till the time of death.
Some persons suppose, that the worship of the elements was the primitive idolatry of the Hindoos, and that of heroes the invention of later times. It is plain, however, that the védŭs, supposed to be the most ancient of the Hindoo writings, countenance the worship of deified heroes. These books contain accounts of Brumha, Vishnoo, and Shivă, and most of the other deities. A paragraph in the Rig-védů speaks of the gods choosing Indrů to be their king, whom they placed on a throne fancifully constructed with texts of the védů: (amongst all the gods none are charged with greater crimes than Indru, who seduced the wife of his spiritual guide :) indeed from a variety of facts it is highly probable, that to the védŭs we are to attribute the foundation of this whole fabric of superstition. These books contain prayers to procure the destruction of enemies, as well as encourage the burning of widows alive, which is
• Called by the Hindoos Ugustyŭ, the sage.
O fire, let these women, with bodies anointed with ghee, eyes (coloured) with stibium and void of tears, enter the parent of water, that they may not be separated from their husbands, may be in union with excellent husbands, be sinless, and be jewels among women.' Rig-védů.
surely a far greater crime than any thing done in the presence of the images of Ramů or Krishnů. The ancient idolatry, therefore, seems to have been as corrupt as any thing practised at present.Is it not probable that the horrid worship of Moloch was really that of the element of fire?
I do not find, however, that the heavenly bodies are worshipped on the tops of houses, as appears to have been the case among those nations from whom the Jews learnt their idolatry. It is said of Manasseh, that he worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.' Josiah, the son of Manasseh, put down all that burnt incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. By the prophet Jeremiah God threatens, that the people shall bring out the bones of the king of Judah, of the princes, priests, prophets, and people; and adds, And they shall spread them before the sun, the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have served; they shall not be gathered nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.' By the prophet Zephaniah, God threatens to cut off them that worship the host of heaven upon the house-tops.' Stephen, in rehearsing the history of the children of Israel before the Jewish couneil, declares, that God formerly gave up their forefathers to worship the host of heaven; and mentions among other objects of worship the star of the god Remphan.
This worship, which has been so general among heather nations, seems to have originated in judicial astrology, and in the belief that the heavenly bodies have a great influence upon human events. Hindoos, whose birth under a supposed evil planet has been ascertained, are often filled with melancholy; some abandon themselves to despair,
careless of what becomes of an existence connected with The reader will perceive, in reading the ac
such omens. count of Saturn, to what a degree the Hindoos dread the influence of this planet, especially at the time when it is in a certain sign. Against fears of this kind the prophet Jeremiah warned the Jews: 'Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the heathen are dismayed at them.'
SECT. XIII.-The Worship of the Nine Gruhus, or
At the great festivals a small offering is presented to all the planets at once; but except on these occasions they are never worshipped together. They are, however, frequently worshipped separately by the sick or unfortunate, who suppose themselves to be under the baneful influence of some planet. At these times the nine planets are worshipped, one after the other, in regular succession. The ceremonies consist of the common forms of worship before other images, and close with a burnt-offering to each planet,
To Sōōryŭ are offered in the burnt-sacrifice small pieces of the shrub urků; to Chundrů, those of the pŭlashŭs; to Mars, those of the khŭdirŭ"; to Mercury, those of the upamargu; to Jupiter, those of the ushwutt'hu; to Venus, those of the ooroombŭrů; to Saturn, those of the shumee';
These stars are called grůhús, because they make known to people good and evil.
f Asclepias gigantiæ.
h Mimosa catechu.
g Butea frondosa.
to Rahoo, blades of dōōrva grass; and to Kétoo, blades of
In honour of Sōōryŭ boiled rice, mixed with molasses, is burnt; milk is to be mixed with the rice offered to Chundru; with that to Mars, curds; with that to Mercury, clarified butter: to Jupiter is offered frumenty; to Venus, boiled rice alone; to Saturn, various kinds of food; to Rahoo, goat's flesh or fish; to Kétoo, blood from the ear of a goat, mixed with rice.
The image of Sōōryŭ is to be a round piece of mixed metal, twelve fingers in diameter; that of Chundru is to be like a half moon, a cubit from end to end; that of Mars, a triangular piece of metal measured by the thickness of six fingers; that of Mercury, a golden bow measuring the thickness of two fingers from one extremity to the other; that of Jupiter, like a flower of the water-lily; that of Venus, a four-square piece of silver; that of Saturn, an iron scymitar; that of Rahoo, an iron mukŭrů; and that of Kétoo, an iron snake.
The fees accompanying the worship of the different planets are various; at that of Sōōryŭ, a milch cow; of Chŭndru, a shell; of Mars, a bul!; of Mercury, a morsel of gold; of Jupiter, a piece of cloth; of Venus, a horse; of Saturn, a black cow; of Rahoo, a piece of iron; and of Kétoo, a goat.
When the officiating bramhun performs the worship of separate planets, he must put on vestments of divers colours, and offer different kinds of flowers.
SECT. XIV-RuveeTM, the Sun.
THIS god, the son of Kushyupů, the sage, is painted red. He holds a water-lily in each hand, and rides in a chariot drawn by seven yellow" horses.
Rŭvee, as one of the planets, is worshipped only at the great festivals. The Jyotish-tŭtwŭ says, that if a person be-born under the planet Ruvee, he will possess an anxious mind, be subject to disease and other sufferings, be an exile, a prisoner, and endure much sorrow from the loss of his wife, children, and property.
This god has been already noticed under the name of Sooryu: but in that account several particulars were omitted by mistake; and which I insert here, though they properly belong to another form of this idol.-While bathing, the Hindoos repeat certain incantations, in order to bring the waters of all the holy places in the heaven of this god into the spot where they are standing, and thus obtain the merit of bathing not only in Gŭnga, but in all the sacred rivers, &c. in the heaven of Sōōryů. After bathing too the Hindoos make their obeisance to this god in a standing posture; the more devout draw up their joined hands to the forehead, gaze at the sun, make prostration to him, and then turn round seven times, repeating certain forms of petition and praise. On these occasions they hold up water in their joined hands, and then 'pour out a drinkoffering' to the sun.
When the terrific being which sprung out of Shiva's
Hence Ruvee-varů, or Sunday.
n Not green, as mentioned by Mr. Maurice.