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that an extraordinary person would arise and redeem Hindostan from foreign dominion. He was not to be a mere man, but an incarnation of Indrajit, a hermit of such exalted holiness that he had the sublime reward of dying by the hand of Rama himself. Bramins sought to prove that the period predicted was precisely that of Narayun's birth. Mysterious words were said to have dropped from the child at various times, giving hints of his divine nature, and the purposes for which he had come to earth. He certainly did not seem to be much absorbed in heavenly things; for like other boys he was full of play and mischief, and particularly fond of gambling with small shells called cowries. However, they called him “ Narayun the Holy," and finally “ the living God Narayun.” In his name they established a place of sacred bathing, where the sinful and the sickly were invited to come and wash away diseases and crimes. Rumours spread through the country that many cripples had been cured, and many blind received their sight. Bramins composed hymns in his praise, and four were appointed to keep record of all his words and actions. His disciples taught that men ought no longer to worship images of wood and stone, but place all their faith in this living divinity, come to deliver them from all foreign yokes, as Rama had rid the world of giants. In a few months, ten thousand pilgrims, many of them of wealth and rank, came to lay their offerings at the feet of Narayun; and many who could not come, forwarded vows and offer ings. On every one who bathed in the waters, nt bowed to the divinity, a tax was levied. His parents and the administering Bramins grew rich rapidly. A little girl, said to be an incarnated goddess, was chosen for his bride; and it was rumoured that on a certain day he would cause a magnificently caparisoned horse to rise out of the earth, on which he would ride forth to meet her. The enthusiasm spread wonderfully, and infected all classes more or less. It is even said that a European resident in India a distinguished scholar, and a firm belierer in Christianity, heing asked his opinion, answered: “ The facts I have heard quite stagger me. The whole Hindoo population are thoroughly convinced of the divinity of this child, and are going mad after him. It is impossible to say what extraordinary means God may adopt for the spiritual recovery of the Hindoos. Ordinary means and missions seem to have failed with them.”
The Rajah of Sattara manifested great uneasiness at the pretensions of Narayun. The wife of one of his ministers, who for several years had been subject to singular trances, had prophesied that he was destined to restore the old Hindoo empire; and the rival claims of the peasant boy excited his jealousy. But while the enthusiasm was at its height, the child died. He was one day exhibiting as usual his perfect control over snakes, which were brought to him in great numbers by strangers, when a Pariah produced a very large one, declared to have been brought all the way from Benares. Narayun seized hold of it boldly, but for the first time he found a serpent he could not manage. It became irritable and bit him mortally. His death was attributed to magic, and it was confidently predicted that he would rise on the third day. When this hope failed, they said it would certainly occur on the eighth day. A crowd of pilgrims waited to witness his resurrection, and finally dispersed disappointed and sorrowing. Rumours were afloat that he had actually appeared in different places. Some tried to propagate the belief that his soul had lodged in the body of a Bramin, who would eventually fulfil all that had been promised of him. But finally it all passed away, and his worshippers came to the conclusion that he was merely an incarnated demon, who came on earth for a while to amuse himself with mortals.
The Christian missionaries of various sects, who have been in India for many years, have made little perceptible progress in changing the faith of the people; but many causes are at work to fulfil the prophecy connected with the fall of Siva's Staff at Benares. Hindostan being the seat of very lucrative commerce, à variety of foreign nations have contended for possession of it. Mahometans
from Tartary began their conquests as early as A. D. 976; and after a long succession of bloody wars, during which they destroyed a vast number of temples, and carried off immense treasures, they firmly established their religion in large districts of the country. Many adopted the faith and costume of their conquerors, and others were finally allowed freedom to worship in their own way. One of the principal mosques was formerly a Hindoo temple. They killed a cow in it to prevent any of the natives from entering it.
On the Malabar coast are more than two hundred thousand Nestorian Christians, whom the Hindoos call Nazarenes. They have had a regular establishment of bishops and clergy there for more than a thousand years. In the fifth century, Jews, fleeing from the oppression of Christian countries, were allowed by a compassionate Bramin to settle in Hindostan. They are now numerous in some portions of the country. Fire-Worshippers, escaping from the Mahometan conquerors of Persia, in the seventh century, begged for a shelter, and had their claim allowed, on condition that they would eat no beef, and never kill ox or cow. They have scrupulously kept this promise, and large numbers of them reside in India, under the name of Parsees. The Portuguese, who have long had possessions there, established the Inquisition at Goa, and Catholic missionaries have been scattered through the country. France and Denmark have settlements there. Great Britain has conquered several kingdoms, and her laws govern millions of the people. She has had Episcopal bishops resident there for many years, and numerous missions from dissenting sects.
Consequently, the landscape of India is dotted all over with Hindoo pagodas, Mahometan mosques, Jewish synagogues, Catholic cathedrals, and Protestant churches. The Hindoos, though remarkable for tenacious attachment to their own forms of faith, are very ready to admit that all modes of worship are acceptable to God, if performed with sincerity of heart. It is a common maxim with them that “Heaven is a palace with many doors, and each one may enter in his own way." The Bramins, who compiled the Code of Gentoo Laws, say in the preface, that "the Supreme Being is sometimes employed with the attendant of the mosque, in counting the sacred beads, and sometimes in the temple at the adoration of idols. He is the friend of the Hindoo, the intimate of the Mahometan, the companion of the Christian, and the confidant of the Jew.” Sir William Jones says: “It is their firm opinion that the Deity has appeared innumerable times, and by innumerable avatars, not only in many parts of this world, but of all worlds, for the salvation of his creatures; and that both Christians and Hindoos adore the same God under different
Actuated by this kindly feeling, their women and children often gather fruit and flowers for the mosque and the cathedral, as well as for their own sacred groves.
When men of different creeds are brought into frequent contact, they cannot avoid mutually giving and receiving. Their prejudices gradually soften and finally melt away. The interfusing of religious ideas from various sources is conspicuous in the teaching of many modern Hindoos. One of these, named Swamee Narain, attracted considerable attention about 1820. He went through various districts teaching and exhorting the people; and many villages of bad character became virtuous and orderly under his influence. He inculcated temperance and purity, and forbade his disciples to look upon a woman. He taught the existence of one invisible God, who made and sustains all things, and whose especial dwelling is in the hearts of those that diligently seek him. But he likewise taught that there is a Spirit, who was with God from all eternity, who cometh from God, who likewise is God, and who hath made known to man the will of God. This Spirit he said came down to earth in ancient times in the form of Crishna, whom wicked men put to death by magic. He was the same as the Sun, and was to be worshipped as God's image or representative. Since his death there had been many pretended revelations and false divinities set up.
Bishop Heber, in conversation with him, remarked that he had spoken truly when he said there was but one God. He tried to convince him that one incarnation of that God was sufficient for mankind, and existed in the person of Jesus Christ, who was the Word of God, proceeding from him, and one with him from all eternity. But Swamee Narain insisted there had been many incarnations, suited to the wants of different nations; one for Christians, another for Mahometans, others for Hindoos. He said he regretted the prevailing worship of images; but symbols were necessary for the ignorant, and he feared to offend their prejudices by preaching against them.
The Hindoos are extremely averse to any change from ancient customs and opinions. The description given of them in the time of Alexander the Great, more than two thousand years ago, would nearly describe them now. But notwithstanding this strong conservative tendency, innovations of various kinds have been gradually introduced; especially in Bengal, which is more subject to a mixture with foreigners in the relations of government and commerce. When Hindoos were invited to dine with European magistrates or merchants, they ate at a table by themselves, and had their food cooked by one of their own nation, according to the rules of their religion. This scruple still remains with a majority of the people; but here and there liberal individuals have set it aside, saying: “We think the Christians are as pure as we are, and certainly some of them are wiser.” The higher castes, who formerly abstained from animal food, now eat fish, mutton, and kid's flesh; and the lower orders eat almost everything except beef. The spirit of caste still exerts a tremendously strong influence, but its barriers are thrown down in numerous instances. In the extensive districts under British control, Bramins are executed for capital crimes, the same as other men. Some of the wealthiest families are of Soodra origin, and the descendants of Bramins may sometimes be found among cooks, or serving as soldiers in the army. Though intermixture with foreigners is for