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us to discover but the weaknesses of man, where the Hindu recognises but the wisdom of God; and we now hasten to a discussion which may afford additional evidences of the low and earthly parentage of a religion so proudly and confidently deduced from the authority of heaven.

Occasionally, I am not disposed to deny, the worship in which the Indian is instructed by his sacred books, may be of a sublime and spiritual character. But his devotions, divided among so many discordant deities, must be proportionally diversified, and proportionally contradictory, in its forms of petition, of ceremony, or of invocation. There is not a point of the heavens to which he must not turn at intervals, with some prescribed attitude, or some essential observance. His gods are to be piously dipped in the consecrated stream, anointed with rich and odoriferous oils, decorated with the lustre of splendid jewels, clothed in graceful or magnificent garments, presented with pure and costly lamps, and honoured with showers of aromatic blossoms. The ministers of these deities are to attend with chouries of white hair or peacocks feathers, and, fanning them gently, to repel the insects which might otherwise violate the purity of their forms. The worship is to be animated by the production of the emblematic Lingam, bathed in milk, the drops of which, caught and preserved with care, are to be administered to the dying, in order to secure them, hereafter, the delights of paradise. Finally, the votary, having preferred his vow, and performed with due accuracy the rites prescribed, is to receive from the hand of his priest a redeeming portion of the garland with which his favourite deity is

adorned, and to present the offering in return, which is to enrich the treasury of the priesthood, and to purchase the aid of celestial interposition*.

The augmentation of the revenues of the Pagoda has been always, indeed, the chief object of the ritual of Hindu worship. The priest, possessing the unrestricted power to absolve or to curse, easily discovered, and freely employed, the means of unlocking the coffers of the votary. No less than sixteen kinds of oblations were proposed to the choice of the devout worshipper; and horses, and vine trees, and elephants, and chariots, of gold, were among the number of the gifts required by the craving but holy avarice of the godst. At the will of the priest, offerings of this nature might be substituted for the purifications of penance; and the terror of the last, was often employed to extort the first.

To the forms of Hindu devotion, are added the injunctions of human sacrifice. Fanaticism, and the hope of propitiating the gods, not unfrequently. supply the voluntary victim. It is not merely the aged and infirm, who aspire to the honours of selfdevotion. The young and healthy of both sexes, their eyes sparkling, their long hair dishevelled on their shoulders, their necks decorated with garlands of flowers, their bosom heaving with ungovernable zeal, rush wildly and impetuously into the presence of the god they worship, celebrate his praise in loud and enthusiastic strains, and, finally, heated by their own movements, and stimulated by the applauding shouts of the surrounding multitude, emulate the

* Appendix, Note B. B.
Ayeen Akberry, vol. iii. 29. Tavernier, lib. i. c. 2.

martyrdom and acquire the glories of the victims of Juggernaut*.

These hideous solemnities sometimes continue for several days. The appetite of the voracious deity is to be satisfied but by the reiterated repast of human blood. The popular piety would consider a paucity of victims as a proof of national corruption, and a presage of national calamity. The Bramins of the highest authority, with imposing solemnity and heads uncovered, attend and encourage the sanguinary worship; and the saving zeal of ignorance and of fanaticism, seldom fails to afford a spectacle so edifying and so delightful to the insane devotion of the multitudet.

But the sacrifice is not always thus voluntary. The sanguinary power requires something more than the spontaneous oblation of the holy fanatic. The dearest charities and sensibilities of domestic life are often to be sacrificed to the monster god; and not only has the wife been frequently offered up by the infatuated husband, but the child has been torn from the bosom of its reluctant mother, or voluntarily tendered by the frantic piety of its parents, to feed and satiate celestial voracity.

From sanguinary observances thus monstrous and so vile, we turn to consider those forms of devotional penance and abstraction which are so highly estimated in the religion of the Hindus.

Man, says the Veda, is to ascend through various gradations of toil and suffering, to the high sphere of perfect fruition. Among the votaries of India, accordingly, penances and abstractions, of the most

Buchanan. Christian Researches, p. 139, &c. † Appendix, Note C. C. Appendix, Note D. D.

of oblation*. Was an evil power to be appeased? the victim was to be black. Was a beneficent power to be conciliated? the victim was to be white. Was the deity adored, male, female, barren, or fruitful? the victim was to be pregnant, barren, female or male. The strictness of these pious regulations admitted of no deviation. The efficacy of the devotion depended on the form; and the motive of the worshipper was incomparably less important than the mode of the worship.

Thus, in whatever light we contemplate the system of worship adopted by Greece and Italy, we discover errors and absurdities not less gross in the principle, than ludicrous or pernicious in the practice. Such a system, in some of its parts, the rare wisdom of the philosophic legislator might have secretly condemned, though unable to correct it; but the people believed and observed; and the magistracy and the laws justified a creed and a ritual, formed to exercise the mind in a ceaseless round of frivolous or unmeaning ceremonies, or in the observance of rites, of which some could only tend to inflame the ardor of the most licentious of the

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To the gloomy Hecate was sacrificed a dog. The smiling Venus demanded a pigeon or a dove. Mars was pleased to accept the furious and warlike bull. Ceres delighted in the blood of the sow. The browzing goat was consistently required by the protecting deity of the vine; and the ruler of the floods craved and obtained the best produce of the toils of the fisherman.

+One of the most barbarous of the sacrifices of the Greeks was that which was offered to Diana at Sparta; and which, though Lycurgus forbade it, continued to prevail. Plutarch, in Lycurg. acknowledges that he saw several boys whipped to death at the foot of the altar.

In the same manner young girls were often scourged on the altar

·

of Bacchus till they died. See Potter. Antiq. vol. i. lib. ii. p. 258.

passions, and others to corrupt, to harden, and to brutify the heart.

Every thing, indeed, was here calculated for the superstitious bigot, or the wanton voluptuary. On some occasions, the human oblation, to which the dramatist and the historian adverted without comment and without censure, was to soothe the souls of the dead, to appease the indignation of angry gods, or to strike the multitude with religious awe. At other times, the festival was gay, prodigal, wanton, and sumptuous; the officiating priest appeared in all the dignity of his office, and clothed in peculiar and splendid garments; the marble temples, decorated with porticoes and altars, were thrown open to the multitude; the costly sacrifices were accompanied by the most pompous and imposing ceremonies; the genius of the painter, the statuary, and the poet, was exercised to animate the fervour of the worshipper; and meretricious dance, and naked beauty, and inspiring music, and all the various gaiety of wild and frolicksome procession, were introduced to kindle the zeal of the votary, or foment the passions of the man. Of these pious prodigalities, these proud and expensive rites, and these indecent and disgusting exhibitions, the effect corresponded with the design. A politic superstition was established in the bosom of the people; and religion, by occupying the popular levity and licence, and by alternately exciting the fanaticism, or awakening the illicit passions, of its votaries, became subservient to the rule and government of the state. But that which thus deluded, was, at the same time, to corrupt the virtue of the multitude. There was no sentiment cherished or

* Appendix, Note A. A.

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