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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 temples, 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 ipharmonious airs. These companies assist at all public ceremonies and festivals, and are paid from the reve. pues 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 obseryed, 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 Voikoonthu, is en
* tirely 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-Jilies, the flowers of some of which contain one hundred petals, and others a thousand ; gardens of pymphæas, &c. On a seat as glorious as the meridian sun, sitting on water-lilies, is Vishnoo, and on his right band 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 supturshees constantly celebrate the praise of Vishnoo and Lukshmee, and meditate on their divine forms. The brumhurshees chant the vedus. The glorified voishnu. vus approach Vishnov, and constantly serve him. The gods 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 wor. shipped as a god. These temples, indeed, in Bengal, and many parts of Hindoost'ban, 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, Brumha, 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.
Every year, in the month Phalgoonu, the Hindoos make the image of Shivu, and worship it for one day, throwing the image the next day into the water. This worship is performed in the night, and is accompanied with singing, dancing, music, feasting, &c. The image worshipped is either that of Shivu with five faces, or that with one face. In the month Maghu also, a festival in honour of Shivu is held for one day, when the image of this god, sitting on a bull, with Parvutee on his knee is worshipped. This form of Shivu is called HuruGouree.
In the month Choitru an abominable festival in honouro this god is celebrated : when many Hindoos, assuming the name of sunyasees, inflict on themselves the greatest cruelties. Some of the chief sunyasees purify themselves for a month previously to these ceremonies, by going to some celebrated temple or image of Shivu, and there eating only once a day, abstaining trom certain gratifications, repeating the name of Shivu, dancing before his image, &c. Other sunyasees perform these preparatory ceremonies for fifteen, and others for only ten days : during which time parties of men and boys dance in the streets, baving their bodies covered with ashes, &c. and a long piece of false hair mixed with mud wrapped round the head like a turban. A large drum accompanies each party, making a horrid din.
On the first day of the festival, these sunyasees cast them. selves from a bamboo stage with three resting places, the highest about twenty feet from the ground. From this height these persons cast themselves on iron spikes stuck in bags of straw. These spikes are laid in a reclining posture, and when the person falls they almost constantly fall down instead of entering his body. There are instances, however, of persons being killed, and others wounded ; but they are very rare. A few years ago, a person at Kidurpooru, near Calcutta, cast himself on a knife used in cleaning fish, which entered his side, and was the cause of his death. He threw himself from the stage twice on the same day ; the second time, (wbich was fatal,) to gratify a prostitute with whom he lived. In some villages, several of these stages are erected, and as many as two or three hundred people cast themselves on these. spikes in one day, in the presence of great crowds of people. The worshippers of Shivu make a great boast of the power of their god in preserving his followers in circumstances of such danger.
The next day is spent in idleness, the sunyasees lying about Shivu's temple, and wandering about like persons half drunk,
or jaded with revelling. On the following day, a large fire is kindled opposite Shivu's temple ; and when the burnt wood has been formed into a great heap, one of the chief sunyasees, with a bunch of canes in his hand, flattene the heap a little, and walks over it with his feet bare. After him, the other sunyasees spread the fire about, walk across it, dance upon it, and then cast the embers into the air, and at each other.
The next morning early, the work of piercing the tongues and sides commences. In the year 1806, I went to Kaleeghatu, in company with two or three friends, to witness these practices : at which place we arrived at about 5 o'clock in the morning. We overtook numerous companies who were proceeding thither, having with them drums and other instruments of music ; also spits, canes, and different articles to pierce their tongues and sides. Some with tinkling rings on their ancles, were dancing and exhibiting indecent gestures as they passed aloog, while others rent the air with the sounds of their filthy songs. As we entered the village where the temple of this great goddess is situated, the crowds were so great that we could with difficulty get our vehicles along, and at last were completely blocked up. We then alighted, and went amongst the crowd. But who can describe a scene like this ?-Here, men of all ages, who intended to have their tongue pierced, or their sides bored, were buying garlands of flowers to hang round theirnecks, or tie round their heads ;-there, others were carrying their offerings to the goddess ; above the heads of the crowd were seen nothing but the feathers belonging to the great drums, and the instruments of torture which each victim was carrying in his hand. These wretched slaves of superstition were distinguished from others, by the quantity of oil rubbed on their bodies, and by streaks and dots of mud all over them : some of the chief men belonging to each company were covered with ashes, or dressed in a most fantastic manner, like the fool among mountebanks. For the sake of low sport. some were dressed as English women : and others had on a hat, to excite the crowd to laugh at Europeans. As soon as we could force our way, we proceeded to the temple of Kalee, where the crowd, inflamed to madness, almost trampled upon one another, to obtain a sight of the idol. We went up to the door way, when a Bramhun, who was one of the owaers of the idol, addressed one of my companions in broken English :-"Money-money-for black mother.” My friend, not much liking the looks of his black mother, declared he should give her nothing. From this spot we went into the temple-yard, where two or three blacksmiths had begun the work of piercing the tongues and boring the sides of these infatuated disciples of Shivu. The first man seemed reluctant to hold out his tongue ; but the blacksmith, rubbing it with something like flour, and haviog a piece of cloth betwixt his fingers, laid firm hold, dragged it out, and, placing his lancet under it in the middle, pierced it through, and let the fellow go. The next person, whose tongue we saw cut, directed the blacksmith to cut it on a contrary side, as it had been already cut twice. This man seemed to go through the business of having his tongue slit with perfect sung froid. The company of natives were entirely unmoved, and the blacksmith, pocketing the trifling fee given by each for whom he did this favour, langbed at the sport. I could not help asking, whether they were not punishing these men for lying. After seeing the operation performed on one or two more, we went to an. other group, where they were boring the sides. The first we saw undergoing this operation was a boy, who might be twelve or thirteen years old, and who had been brought thither by his elder brother to submit to this cruelty. A thread rubbed with clarified butter was drawn through the skin on each side, with a kind of lancet having an eye like a needle. He did not flinch, but hung by his hands over the shoulders of his brother. I asked a man who had just had his sides bored, why he did this ? He said, he had made a vow to Kalee at a time of dangerous illness, and was now performing this vow : a bye-stander added, it was an act of holiness, or merit. Passing from this group, we saw a man dancing backwards and forwards with two canes run through his sides as thick as a man's little finger. In returning to Calcutta we saw many with things of different thicknesses thrust through their sides and tongues, and several with the pointed handles of irou shovels, containing fire, sticking in their sides. Into this fire every now and then they threw Indian pitch, which for the moment blazed very high. I saw one man whose singular mode of self-torture struck me much : his breast, arms, and other parts of his body, were entirely covered with pins, as thick as nails or packing needles. This is called vanu-phora.* The person had made a vow to Shivu thus to pierce his body, praying the god to remove some evil from him.