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pleted. No bloody sacrifices are offered to him, but oblations of fruit, flowers, water, clarified butter, sweetmeats, rich garments, and jewels.
Siva has a vast variety of titles, among which the most common is Maha Deva, the Great God. The sculptures represent him in many different ways; but he may always be known by certain symbols that belong to him. He is sometimes painted red, sometimes silver-coloured: seated on a tiger's skin, and clothed with an elephant's hide. Sometimes he rides on a white bull, his eyes inflamed with intoxication. Sometimes he is painted with one head, sometimes with five; always with three eyes, one in the middle of his forehead. Sometimes he is represented as half man and half woman. As the reproducer of forms, he is usually accompanied by the male Emblem of Generation. As a personification of time, the Destroyer, he is a dusky youth, with red garments, a chaplet of sculls about his neck, and a trident in his hand. Because he reproduces forms, as well as destroys them, he is often painted with the venomous serpent Cobra de Capello, emblem of death, in one hand, and a Lotus and Pomegranate, emblems of renovation, in the other.
Hindoos, accustomed to the pomp and retinue of their earthly princes, assigned a vast number of agents to superior deities. Indra, God of the Firmament, is represented as a beautiful youth, whose garment is covered with eyes, to represent the all-seeing Spirits of the Stars. He rides on a white elephant, and is armed with a thunderbolt. Three hundred and thirty-two millions of Spirits, divided into classes, of various ranks and employments, acknowledge him as their leader. Poets and painters represent Surya, God of the Sun, in a golden car, drawn by seven green horses, with the Dawn for charioteer, followed by Spirits of Singing Stars chanting his praises. There are various legends of his descending to earth in a human shape, and becoming the father of a numerous progeny. Two of his sons are always painted as Twins, said to have been born of a mare impregnated by sunbeams. The
Moon is a male deity, sometimes called Soma, but more frequently Chandra. Their most ancient sovereigns were called Surya-bans and Chandra-bans, Children of the Sun and Moon, to imply a descent nearer to the gods than that of other mortals. Genesa, God of Wisdom, is greatly revered. They never build a house, or commence any important business, without offering him flowers, or sprinkling his image with oil. They do not even write a letter, or open a book, without uttering a brief invocation to him. He is painted with an elephant's head, and is always attended by a rat, which they consider a very sagacious and prudent animal. Nareda, God of Music, who invented the vina, or Hindoo lute, is not only a musician of admirable skill, but also a wise legislator, an eloquent messenger of the gods, and renowned in arts and arms. Parvati, God. dess of Enchantments, was born of the foam of the sea. Her son Cama, God of Love, is painted riding on a parrot, attended by dancing nymphs, the foremost of whom carries his flag, a fish painted on a red ground. His bow is made of sugar-cane, his string is made of bees, and his five arrows (the senses) are each pointed with some heating plant. His wife is Reti, Goddess of Affection. Pavana is God of the Winds; Agnee of fire; Varuna of the Waters. In their state of astronomical knowledge, the luminaries named by us Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn, were considered the seven planets. Successive days were set apart to offer sacrifices to the presiding Spirits of these orbs; each of which is supposed to have particular superintendence over the day assigned to him. Each sign of the Zodiac has its deity, with various subordinates. There are genii of the hours, and even of the minutes. Every mountain and river has its guardian Spirit. One god is the protector of soldiers, another of travellers. One is prayed to for a happy marriage, another for the preservation of health. The dark goddess Cali, wife of Siva the Destroyer, is the chosen patron of robbers and murderers.
Their most ancient Sacred Books mention but few
Spirits, and command sacrifices to be offered to each, without neglecting any. This was perhaps intended to prevent any one of them from becoming elevated above the idea of a mere symbol, or instrument, of the Supreme Being. Poets afterwards indulged in great luxuriance of imagination, and a long train of deities were added, whose adventures came to be regarded as sacred history.
Among the innumerable Intelligences emanating from Brahm in successive gradations, they believe that some fell into lower spheres, because they turned away their minds from contemplating the Supreme One. Through the intercession of Spirits, who had not fallen from their original state, this world was created as a place of probation for these wandering souls, and mortal bodies were provided for them to enter. Through this penance, if faithfully performed, they might work their way upward to the primeval condition from which they fell. But if they sinned without making due atonement for their offences, they must fall still lower in the scale of being, and thus their penance might be renewed and prolonged through indefinite ages.
A legion of Evil Spirits, called Rakshasas, had a prince named Ravana. Numerous classes of Good and Evil Spirits, called Sooras and Assooras, are represented as stepbrothers in perpetual hostility, to illustrate the supposed antagonism between Spirit and Matter. Wicked Spirits are generally described as giants, and are often said to have a Great Serpent for their leader. They were continually aiming to do injury to mankind, and fought desperate battles with Indra, and his Spirits of Light. They would have taken his Paradise by storm, and subverted the whole order of the universe if Brahma had not sent Vishnu to circumvent their plans. To perform this mission successfully, he assumed various forms at different times, and was twice incarnated in a human body, and dwelt among mortals.
The wonderful and universal power of light and heat have caused the Sun to be worshipped as a visible emblem
of deity in the infancy of nearly all nations. Water, which cleanses from pollution, and performs such an important part in sustaining animal and vegetable life, is recognized as another obvious symbol of divine influence. Hence the sacred rivers, fountains, and wells, abounding in Hindostan. The Air is likewise to them a consecrated emblem. Invisible, pervading all space, and necessary to the life of all creatures, it naturally suggests the spirit of God. Nearly all languages describe the soul by some phrase similar in signification to “the breath of life.” Brahm is sometimes called Alma, or the Breathing Soul. Regarding the air as his breath, it forms part of their religious exercises to retain it in their lungs as long as possible, as one means of prolonging contact with the Universal Soul.
Other emblems deemed sacred by Hindoos, and worshipped in their temples, have brought upon them the charge of gross indecency. But if it be true at the present time, it probably was not so in the beginning. When the world was in its infancy, people spoke and acted with more of the simplicity and directness of little children, than they do at present. In the individual child, and in the childhood of society, whatever is incomprehensible produces religious awe. As the reflective faculties develop man is solemnly impressed with the wonders of creation, in the midst of which his soul wakes up, as it were, from a dream. And what so miraculous as the ad. vent of this conscious soul into the marvellous mechanism of a human body? If Light, with its grand revealings, and Heat making the earth fruitful with beauty, excited wonder and worship in the first inhabitants of our world, is it strange that they likewise regarded with reverence the great mystery of human Birth? Were they impure thus to regard it? Or are we impure that we do not so regard it? We have travelled far, and unclean have been the paths, since those old anchorites first spoke of God and the soul in the solemn depths of their forest sanctuaries. Let us not smile at their mode of tracing the Infinite and Incomprehensible Cause throughout all the mysteries of Nature, lest by so doing we cast the shadow of our own grossness on their patriarchal simplicity.
From time immemorial, an emblem has been worshipped in Hindostan as the type of creation, or the origin of life. It is the most common symbol of Siva, and is universally connected with his worship. To understand the original intention of this custom, we should remember that Siva was not merely the reproducer of human forms; he represented the Fructifying Principle, the Generating Power that pervades the universe, producing sun, moon, stars, men, animals, and plants. The symbol to which we have alluded is always in his temples. It is usually placed in the inmost recess, or sanctuary, sculptured in granite, marble, or ivory, often crowned with flowers, and surmounted by a golden star. Lamps are kept burning before it, and on festival occasions it is illuminated by a lamp with seven branches, supposed to represent the planets. Small images of this emblem, carved in ivory, gold, or crystal, are often worn as ornaments about the neck. The pious use them in their prayers, and often have them buried with them. Devotees of Siva have it written on their foreheads in the form of a perpendicular mark. The maternal emblem is likewise a religious type, and worshippers of Vishnu represent it on their foreheads by a horizontal mark, with three short perpendicular lines.
The serious impression made on the minds of ancient devotees by the great mysteries of conception and birth, is everywhere observable in the metaphysical theories and religious ceremonies of Hindostan. They suppose that Brahm comprised within himself both the masculine and feminine principle, therefore his name is in the neuter gender. By thought he separated the two, and produced Brahma, who is often called the “First Male of the Universe.” His wife is Sereswaty, Goddess of Imagination and Invention, from whom proceeded first music, then language, literature, and the arts. By her aid Brahma formed the mun