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Thus may he expiate the unintentional murder of a Bramin; but if the crime be committed with premeditation, there is no way in which it can be expiated.”
“He who has committed incest, ought to walk constantly in a south-west direction, till he falls dead from exhaustion; or embrace a red-hot statue; or lie on a burning fire; thus will he be purified by death."
“He who, having committed a sin, makes parade of penances and meritorious acts, concealing his crime under an appearance of sanctity, thus deceiving women and ser. vants, such Bramins are accursed in this life, and after death, by all those who pronounce the name of Brahma." [That is, by Bramids.]
“Let no father, who knows the law, receive a gratuity, however small, for giving his daughter in marriage. The man, who through avarice takes a gratuity for that purpose, is a seller of his offspring.".
"Let a widow emaciate her body, by living voluntarily on pure flowers, roots, and fruit. When her lord is de ceased, let her not even pronounce the name of another man. Let her continue till death forgiving all injuries, performing harsh duties, avoiding every pleasure of the senses, and cheerfully practising the incomparable rules of virtue, which have been followed by such women as were devoted only to one husband. Many thousands of Bramins, having avoided sensuality from early youth, though they have left no issue in their families, have nevertheless ascended to heaven. And, like those abstemious men, a virtuous wife ascends to heaven, though she have no child, if, after the decease of her lord, she devote herself to pious austerity. But a widow, who, from a wish to bear children, slights her deceased husband by marrying again, brings disgrace on herself here below, and shall be excluded from the seat of her lord.”
"The Bramin who has not caused the least fear to any creature whatsoever, has nothing to fear after he has quitted his body."
“In whatever occupation Brahma first employed any
vital soul, to that occupation the same soul attaches itself spontaneously, when it receives a new body, again and again. Whatever quality, noxious or innocent, harsh or mild, just or unjust, false or true, conferred on any being at its creation, the same quality enters it of course on its future births."
“The sacrifice required of Bramins is to gain knowledge and instruct others; of the Cshatriyas, that they protect others; of the Vaisyas, that they supply wants by commerce; of the Soodras, that they serve others.”
"Some make sacrifice of their breath, by instructing others of God; some make sacrifice of their speech, by meditating upon God in silence. In speech and breath, thus employed, they perceive the imperishable fruits of true sacrificial offerings."
“Thoughts, words, the actions of the body, produce fruits happy or pernicious. From these result the superior, middling, and inferior transmigrations of men."
“By overcoming the senses, by suppressing joy and hate, man obtains immortality. Let the anchorite not rejoice to die, or wish to live; but wait for death as a daylaborer waits for him who assigned his task. Let him endure injuries, and despise no person. Let him be careful to commit no hostile action, out of care for his own preservation. Let him not be offended with those who are angry with him, but reply gently to those who curse him.
Finding his pleasure in the contemplation of the Supreme - Spirit, let him attach himself to nothing; but seek happiness in communion with himself.”
"Like a tree carried far from the river which saw its birth, like a bird that flies from the branch where it rested, man ought to free himself from the body; for thus will he see himself delivered from the devouring monster of this world. Leaving the reward of good works to those who value it, and to his enemies the weight of his faults, he passes from contemplation to the bosom of eternal di. vinity." 4 The soul itself is its own witness and its own refuge.
Offend not thy conscious soul, the supreme internal witness of men! The sinful have said in their hearts, None see us. Yet the gods distinctly see them, and so does the Spirit within their own breasts. The guardian deities of the firmament, of the earth, of the waters, of the human heart, of the moon, of the sun, and of fire, of punishment after death, of the winds, of night, of both twilights, and of justice, perfectly know the state of all spirits clothed with bodies. Oh, friend to virtue! that Supreme Spirit, which thou believest one and the same with thyself, resides in thy own bosom perpetually, and is an all-knowing inspector of thy goodness or thy wickedness. If, by speaking falsely, thou art not at variance with Yama the subduer of all, with Vaivaswata the punisher, with that Great Divinity that dwells in thy own breast, go not on a pil. grimage to the river Ganges, nor to the plains of Curu; for thou hast no need of expiation.”
Next to the Vedas, and the Code of Menu, the most an. cient and the most venerated of the Sacred Books are two epic poems, called The Ramayana, and The Mahabharata. The extreme antiquity of both is proved by sculptures on exceedingly ancient temples, carved in solid rock. The subject of the Ramayana is the victory of the divine hero Rama, over Ravana, prince of the wicked genii, called Rakshasas. Evil Spirits came near gaining ascendancy over the benevolent Deities, because the latter had bound themselves by a promise to make their adversaries invul. nerable, and they could not violate their word. Therefore, no one but a mortal could subdue the Prince of Evil; and it must be a mortal of superhuman endowments. In this emergency, the gods besought Vishnu to become a man. He accordingly divided himself into four parts, and assumed the mortal shape of four brothers, of whom Rama was chief. But all the time that he was on earth in a hu. man body, he remained the same Vishnu in celestial regions. In the course of his adventures in this world, he was banished by the king, and retired into a forest with his brother Lakshman and his wife Sita. There they all led the life of holy penitents, and became renowned for miracles. After various contests with Evil Spirits, the god-man at last destroyed their prince Ravana, and brought them all into subjection. He then returned in glory to his celestial abode, taking with him those who had assisted his labors on earth.
The Ramayana is principally occupied with the battles and miracles of Rama, but moral maxims and theological doctrines are occasionally interspersed. The following precept is an antique gem :-" The sacrifice of a thousand horses has been put in the balance with one true word, and the one true word weighed down the thousand sacrifices. No virtue surpasses that of veracity. It is by truth alone that men attain to the highest mansions of bliss. Men faithless to the truth, however much they may seek supreme happiness, will not obtain it, even though they offer a thousand sacrifices. There are two roads which conduct to perfect virtue; to be true, and to do no evil to any creature."
The primitive city, founded by Menu, the first ruler of mankind, is thus described in the Ramayana: "It abounded with merchants of all sorts, male and female dancers, elephants, horses, and chariots. It was filled with riches, decorated with precious stones, abundantly supplied with all manner of provisions, beautified with temples and palaces, whose lofty summits equalled the mountains, adorned with baths and gardens, and thickly planted with mango trees. The air was fragrant with the perfume of flowers, with incense, and the sweet-smelling savour of sacrificial offerings. It was inhabited by twice-born men [the regenerated], who were profoundly learned in the Vedas, endowed with excellent qualities, full of sincerity, zeal, and compassion, and perfectly masters of their passions and desires. There was no covetous person in the city, no liar, no deceiver, no one of an evil or implacable disposition. None of the inhabitants lived less than one thousand years, and all left a numerous offspring. None of them went without ear-rings, necklaces, garlands, perfumes, and richly ornamented garments. No one gave the Bramins less than one thousand rupees; and none flinched from performing the duties appropriate to their respective situations."
The Mahabharata commemorates a later incarnation of Vishnu in the form of Crishna, and is supposed to be somewhat less ancient in date. Bramins attribute it to Vyasa, and say it was written before their era, the commencement of the Cali Yug; consequently more than five thousand years ago. Wilkins, the learned Oriental scholar, thinks there is satisfactory evidence of its being four thousand years old. Sir William Jones places it seven hundred years later. Sculptures on the old rock temples prove that they have not assigned too great antiquity to either of these poems. They abound with the adventures of gods, goddesses, and heroes, described with the vast accumulation of incidents and glittering redundancy of metaphor characteristic of Asiatic writings. The veneration in which they were held introduced many new ceremonies into worship, and greatly complicated theological machinery. Heeren says: “The Vedas were the real source of Hindoo religion; but their mythology came from later epic poems.” The subject of the Mahabharata is the contest between two branches of the royal family, the Coros and the Pandos; during which Crishna sustains his relatives, the Pandos. This event is as famous in their ancient traditions, as was the Trojan war among the Greeks. The poem contains a celebrated episode, called the Bhagavat Geeta, from which extracts will be given in the following pages. It relates the history and conversations of Vishnu, while on earth in the form of Crishna. The subjugation of the passions and desires, as a means of attaining to complete holiness, forms its moral system. Heeren observes that “the poetry of no other nation exhibits the didactic character in such a striking manner as that of the Hindoos; for no other people were so thoroughly imbued with the persuasion that to give and receive instruction was the sole ultimate object of life.”