Imágenes de páginas

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 corrup, tion, 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 multitude†.

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 t

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.

savage and extravagant character, have been enjoined and multiplied. In the recesses of the woods, under every banyan tree, on the banks of the rivers, in the public high-ways, the Yogee and the Faquir are to be seen, bending and expiring under the infliction of voluntary torture. The hands of one votary are closed till the nails of the fingers eat into the flesh. An inflexible silence is maintained by another for a series of years. Another extends his arms over his head, with his hands clasped together, till they become withered, rigid, and immoveable *. But the votary is abundantly repaid by the high recompence of celestial benediction. Sometimes, it is supposed, he acquires a power, by his austerities, over the elements of nature, and over the gods themselves t. Sometimes a radiant glory is said to encircle his forehead, and to attest the accomplishment of his vow, and the favour of heaven. To his countrymen, he is the object of reverence and congratulation; to his deities, of protection, of benignity, and of love.

Some of these fanatics, with a devotion which is considered as yet more commendable, exercise their piety in abstract meditation, and soar above all material objects and all worldly considerations. "The true devotee, it is said, is he who disciplines his "-spirit in secrecy and solitude; who is subdued in mind, and free from hope; who planteth his feet firmly on the spot which is neither too high nor


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Hectopader. p. 243. Buchanan. Christ. Res. p. 131. Sketches of the Hist. &c. of the Hindus. Plin. lib. ii. c. 2.

↑ On this dogma is founded the Curse of Kehama, by Mr. Southey; a poem, with all its wildness, worthy of the distinguished taste and genius of its author.

"too low; who, like a lamp, flaming in a place that "is without wind, and that moveth not, sitteth on the "sacred grass koos, with his eyes intently fixed on

one object, and his neck, his head, and his body, steady and immoveable." In this manner he performs his devotions for the purification of his soul. He is the same in heat and cold, in pain and pleasure, in honour and in disgrace, in solitude and in the resorts of men. He contemplates, but he presumes not to discuss, the dogmas of his religion, and he learns, after the passions and instincts of his nature have been mortified and subdued, to behold the Supreme Soul in all things, and all things in the Supreme Soul *,

Such is the Saint whom the Vedas describe as the most perfect of votaries, and the most favoured by the gods. It is forgotten that man is not a being destined for a solitary purpose, an individual who may abstract himself without a crime from the duties of life and the service of mankind. The religion of the Hindu prefers the devotee, And, while it erects the altar of fanaticism on the ruins of humanity, or substitutes for the generous and delightful charities of life, the wild extravagance of a false and fantastic zeal, it degrades and misleads the being, whom it should have taught to advance by ceaseless progression in moral, social, and intellectual excellence; and converts him who should have been sent forth to fulfil the duties, and diffuse the blessings, of sympathy and benevolence, into a prodigy of inert or unsocial abstraction, or of a barbarous, unfruitful, and afflicting penance.

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The Hindu, however, is not always to waste his devotion in these mysterious contemplations, or in

Appendix, Note E. E.

these voluntary sufferings. His worship is often, with contradictory changefulness, directed to gods of a gay and sportive character; and the more indulgent divinities who favour his pleasures, are to be conciliated by rites of libertine and voluptuous wantonness. The votary of penance is to be contrasted with the disciple of indecent revelry and profligate indulgence. The walls of the pagoda are to present to his eyes the images of obscenity; and emblems, too gross to be explained, are to kindle his passions in the recesses of the temple *. The rites of worship are celebrated with correspondent impurity; the altars of the gods become the theatre of human pleasures; and the shameful representations of graphic pruriency are found sufficiently to encourage the disgusting scandals of living licentiousness.

The wantonness of the worshipper is not enflamed solely by the sanction of the priest, or by the naked images of the painter or of the sculptor. A train of women, whose natural beauties are heightened by the embellishments of art, and who are taught by the most experienced of the Bramins to add the artifices of seduction to the charms of symmetry and of youth, are carefully provided for the service of the temple, and the honour of the idol t. Dances

* Gentil. Voyage, vol. i. pp. 244, 260. Preface to Code of Gentoo Laws, p. 57. Roger Parle Ouverte. p. 157. Voyage de Sonuarat. vol. i. pp. 41, 175. Sketches of the Hist. &c. of the Hindus, p. 168. Hamilton's Travels, vol. i. 397. Description of the great Pagoda at Maduca. Archæol. vol. x. Ancienne Relat. p. 88. Tavernier. liv. i. c. 5.

Il y a dans les Indes des femmes, appellés femmes publiques; l'origine de cette coutume est telle; lorsque une femme a fait un vœu pour avoir des enfans, si elle met au monde une belle, elle l'apporte au Bod, &c. Ancienne Relat. p. 109.

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