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and present offerings, and pay worship to the various inhabitants of the waters. The dishes and baskets on the margin, contain fruits, flowers, &c. which are designed as offerings to the goddess. The banks are steep, and flights of steps have been laid for the accommodation of the worshippers.-Millions of people are annually drawn from their homes several times in a year to visit different holy places of this river, and frequently vast crowds of people rush down the steps with great eagerness and violence, in order to get into the water at a supposed lucky moment ; and in consequence of this crowding, great numbers are often killed or shockingly bruised.
This deluded people expect great good will result to them from this detestable idolatry. Their sacred books declare that the sight, the name or the touch of the Ganges takes away all sin ; that thinking of the Ganges when at a distance is sufficient to remove the taint of sin ; but that bathing in the Ganges has blessings in it which no imagination can conceive.
At the hour of death if a person think on Ganga, he will obtain a place in the heaven of their god Siva. So much is this river reverenced, that many will not wash themselves or their clothes in its waters ; some persons undertake journies of five or six months to bathe in the Ganges in behalf of deceased relations, and to carry back its waters for religious and medicinal uses. The water of this river is used in the English courts of justice to swear upon. Morning and evening the Hindoos visit and look at this river, to remove the sins of the night or of the day ; when sick they besmear their bodies with its sediment, and remain perhaps for a month near the river; they are extremely anxious to die in sight of the Ganges, that their sins may be washed away in their last moments. Dead bodies are often brought by relatives to be burnt near the river, under the hope that the soul of the deceased will thus receive benefit. Some persons even drown themselves in the Ganges, not doubting but they shall immediately ascend to heaven. Their sacred books teach that if a person bathe in the Ganges at an auspicious moment, his sins will be removed, he will be admitted into the heaven of Brama, and after having enjoyed great happiness in heaven, will be re:born on the earth, possessed of every good quality, enjoy all kinds of happiness, and be loaded with honours. There are upwards of three millions of holy places on the Ganges ; to these places natives continually resort, at a great expense of time and money, in making offerings and paying worship. 17. Worship of Fish. Even the finoy tribes are honoured
by the Hindoos, though the worship paid to them is of an inferior sort.
18. The Worship of Books is very common among this people. The lower orders have such a profound respect for a book, that they think every thing in such a form must be divine. On several occasions a book is converted into an image, and worshipped with all the form used before the most popular idol.
19. The Worship of Stones. The Shalugramu, as a form of Vishnoo, is more frequently worshipped than any other idol in lodia, not excepting the Lingu itself; which perhaps ought to be placed next, and which is also a stone. The representatives of Punchanunu and other gods are shapeless stones. Many images of idols sold in the markets are made of stone, and worshipped.
20. A Log of Wood. The pedal with which rice is cleansed from the husk has also been raised to godship by the Hiadoos.
Temples for Religious Worship. A multiplicity of temples characterizes the Hindoo worship. They are spread over the desert and crown the summit of almost every mountain ; no village is considered inhabitable without one. To erect these oven-like edifices, supply them with images, and maintain their worship are regarded as the most meritorious actions : their number is, therefore, incredible. On a plain near Burduan, a widow has caused 108 to be built, each containing an image. These images are often clothed with valuable garments and adorned with jewels of great price. The Brahmins, (Hindoo Priests) attend on the worship paid at these temples, and omit po sort of imposture to keep up the popular credulity, and to allure votaries to the worship of that deity by which they are supported. A religion more shameful or indecent has never existed among a civilized people. The Brahmins being resolved to make the popular religion a mere machine for advancing their temporal interests and gratifying their passions, have gradually urged the Hindoo people from one superstitious error to another, from a deep to a deeper pit in that chaos in which they are now ingulfed. Many of the worshippers perform their religious service before the door of the temple. They carefully fix their eyes upon the god to whose presence they have come, mutter a few words, salute the image by bringing both hands to the forehead, bow the bead slowly and solemnly, turn around, ring the bell, and retire after paying the tribute to the
Brahmins who are seated in the vestibule on each side of the door.
Besides the ordinary daily worship paid at the temples, a company of females are connected with these teniples, who morning and evening perform their religious service of singing and dancing. The temples of note also employ a company of players on musical instruments who attend at the temple twice a day to make it ring with their discordant sounds and inharmonious airs. These companies assist at all public ceremonies and festivals, and are paid from the reve. nues of the temple. A great part of the service which the Hindoos pay their gods is in fulfilment of vows ; which they are exceedingly addicted to make, to remove great evils, obtain some desired object, or for a consideration of small consequence. Pilgrimages of great extent are often made to these temples in fulfilment of vows, and frequently the distance is measured by a continued prostration of the body to the earth during the whole journey. Supernatural powers are ascribed to the deities, and various means are resorted to by the priests to deceive the people, and to satisfy them that their gods possess great wisdom and power.
The oracles are managed by some expert Brahmin, who understands this sort of roguery, and who contrives to introduce some person within the images, which are generally hollow, or to conceal themselves near by, so as not to be observed, and thus concealed, they harangue the multitude ; all of whom firmly believe that it is the image itself that speaks, and therefore listen to the oracular admonition with awful silence. The impostor who carries on this deception sometimes predicts future events, but in so obscure and ambiguous terms, that however the issue may turn out, they may have it in their power to make it accord with their predictions.
Some other particulars may be added, respecting the wor. ship of these gods ; and of the heavens appropriated to some of them, as the reward of their respective worshippers : Vishnoo has no public festival, yet he is worshipped at the offering of a burnt sacrifice ; in the form of meditation used daily by the Bramhuns, at the time when “ the five gods” are worshipped ; and also at the commencement of each shraddhu.
The offerings presented to him consist of fruits, flowers, clarified butter, &c.
The following is given in their books as a description of Vishnoo's heavens : This heaven, called Voikoont’hu, is entirely of gold, and is eighty thousand miles in circumference. All its edifices are composed of jewels. The pillars of this heaven, and all the ornaments of the buildings are of precious stones. The crystal waters of the Ganges fall from the higher beavens on the head of Droovu, and from thence into the bunches of hair on the heads of seven rishees in this heaven, and from thence they fall and form a river in Voikoont’hu. Here also are fine pools of water, containing blue, red, and white water-lilies, the flowers of some of which contain one hundred petals, and others a thousand ; gardens of nymphæas, &c. On a seat as glorious as the meridian sun, sitting on water-lilies, is Vishnoo, and on his right hand the goddess Lukshmee. From the body of Lukshmee the fragrance of the lotus extends 800 miles. This goddess shines like a continued blaze of lightning. The devurshees, rajur. shees, and suptursbees constantly celebrate the praise of Vishnoo and Lukshmee, and meditate on their divine forms. The brumhurshees chant the vedus. The glorified voishnuvus approach Vishnov, and constantly serve him. are also frequently employed in celebrating the praises of Vishnoo ; and Gurooru, the bird-god, is the door-keeper.*
Shivu or Siva. The worship paid to this deity is beyond description indecent; yet temples innumerable have arisen in India, and a Shivu lingu placed in each of them, and worshipped as a god. These temples, indeed, in Bengal, and many parts of Hindoost'han, are far more numerous than those dedicated to any other idol ; and the number of the daily worshippers of this scandalous image, (even the Hindoo women,) who make the image with the clay of the Ganges every morning and evening, is beyond comparison far greater than the worshippers of all the other gods put togeth
Worship is performed daily at the temples of the lingu ; when offerings of various kinds are presented to this image. If the temple belong to a shoodru, a Bramhun is employed, who receives a small annual gratuity, and the daily offerings. These ceremonies occupy a few minutes, or half an hour, at the pleasure of the worshipper. Many persons living in Bengal employ Bramhuns at Benares to perform the worship of the lingu in temples which they have built there.
* The work called Kurmu-Vipaku says, that the heavens of Vishnoo, Brumba, and Shiva, are upon the three peaks of the mountain Soomeroo; and that at the bottom of these peaks are the heavens of twenty-one other gods.