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terms of the most abject submission, thereby exhibiting, in the most striking manner, the infinite distance there is between the Supreme Being and man.
Another religious ceremony performed by the emperor, is that of ploughing the earth with his own hands. By some writers this act has been thought merely political for the sake of encouraging agriculture. But in one of the canonical books it is asserted, that he tills the earth to the Deity, that he may have it in his power to present a part of the grain to him in sacrifice. The empress and princesses manage silk worms, in order to make vestinents for sacrificing in. Therefore, if the emperor and princes till the gronnd, or the empress breeds silk worms, it is to shew that respect and veneration which they entertain for the spirit who rules the universe.
Staunton, in his narrative of Lord Macartney's embassy to China, asserts that there is no state religion acknowledged or encouraged in China. The faith of most of the common people is that of Fo; many of the Mandarins have another, and that of the emperor different from theirs. But the temples, consecrated to religious worship, are scarcely distinguishable from common dwelling-houses. The circular lofty structures, called by Europeans Pagodas, are of various kinds, appropriated to various uses, but none for religious worship. In many instances there is a similarity in the exterior forms of the religion of Fo, and that of the Roman church. Upon the altars of the Chinese temples were placed behind a screen, an image of Shin-moo, or the holy mother, sitting with a child in her arms, in an alcove, with rays of glory round her head, and tapers constantly burning before her.
The temples of Fo contain more images than are met with in most Christian churches. There was one female figure particularly prayed to by unmarried women who desire a husband, and by married women who wish for children. But as the doctrine of Fo admits of a subordinate deity, propitious to every wish that can be formed in the human mind; as the government of the country never interferes with mere opinions, nor prohibits any belief which may not affect the peace of society; it is no wonder it should spread among those classes of the people who are dissatisfied with the ordinary events of nature. Thus from extreme superstition, the temples are particularly frequented, and the superintendant deity first consulted, previons to the undertaking of any thing of importance; whether it be to enter into the matrimonial state, to set out on a journey, to make or conclude a bargain, or any other momentous event. There are various methods of doing this, one of which is a piece of wood, of six or eight equal sides or surfaces, each having its particu. lar mark, is thrown into the air; the side which is uppermost, after reaching the ground, is examined and referred by the priest to its correspondent mark on the book of fate. If the first throw accord with the wishes of him who made it, he prostrates himself in gratitude, and cheerfully undertakes the business. If the throw be unpropitious he makes à sec. ond trial; but the third throw must decide the question. The temples are always accessible to consult the will of heaven ; and their adoration consists more in giving thanks than offering prayers.
THE RELIGION OF THIBET,
Or the Grand Lama; And also of the Heathen Tartars in general.
The name of the Grand Lama is given to the sovereign pontiff, or high priest, of the Thibetian Tartars, who resides at Patoli, a vast palace on a mountain near the banks of Barampooter, about seven miles from Lahassa. The foot of this mountain is inhabited by twenty thousand lamas, or priests, who have their separate apartments around the mountain ; and according to their respective qualities, are placed nearer, or at a greater distance from, the sovereign pontiff. He is not only worshipped by the Thibetians, but also is the great object of adoration for the various tribes of heathen Tartars who roam through the vast tract of continent which stretches from the banks of the Wolga to Correa, on the sea of Japan. He is not only the sovereign pontiff, the vicegerent of the Deity on earth, but the more remote Tartars are said to absolutely regard him as the Deity himself, and call him God, the everlusting Father of heaven. They believe him to be immortal, and endowed with all knowledge and virtue. Every year they come up from different parts to worship, and make rich offerings at bis shrine. Even the emperor of China, who is a Manchou Tartar, does not fail in acknowledgements to him in
his religious capacity ; and he actually entertains, at a great expense in the palace of Pekin, an inferior Lama, deputed as his nuncio from Thibet. The Grand Lama, it has been said, is never to be seen but in a secret place of his palace, amidst a great number of lamps, sitting cross-legged on a cushion, and decked in every part with gold and precious stones ; where at a distance the people prostrate themselves before him, it. not being lawful for any so much as to kiss his feet. He returns not the least sign of respect, nor ever speaks, even to the greatest princes ; but only lays his hand upon their heads, and they are fully persuaded they receive from thence a full forgiveness of all their sins.
The Sunniasses, or Indian pilgrims, often visit Thibet as a holy place; and the Lama always entertains a body of two or three hundred in his pay. Besides his religious influence and authority, the Grand Lama is possessed of unlimited power throughout his dominions, which are very extensive. The inferior Lamas, who form the most numerous, as well as the most powerful body in the state, have the priesthood entirely in their hands; and, besides, fill many monastic orders, which are held in great veneration among them. The whole country, like Italy, abounds with priests ; and they entirely subsist on the great number of rich presents which are sent them from the utmost extent of Tartary, from the empire of the Great Mogul, and from almost all parts of the Indies.
- The opinion of those who are reputed the most orthodox among the Thibetians is, that when the Grand Lama seems to die, either of age or infirmity, his soul, in fact, only quits a crazy habitation, to look for another, younger or better; and it is discovered in the body of some child by certain tokens, known only to the Lamas or Priests, in which order he always appears.
According to the doctrine of this metemsychosis, the soul is always in action, and never at rest : for no sooner does she leave her old habitation, than she enters a new one. The Dalay being a divine person, can find no better lodging than the body of his successor ; or the Fo, residing in the Dalay Lama, which passes to his successor ; and this being a god, to whom all things are known, the Dalay Lama is therefore acquainted with every thing which happened during his residence in his former body.
This religion is said to have been of three thousand years standing; and neither time, nor the intluence of men, bas had the power of shaking the authority of the Grand Lama..