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THE DREAM OF RAVAN-A MYSTERY.
PART 111.-TOE KAMATUR RAKSHAS AND TUE SUPERNATURAL WEAPONS.
When Ravan mentioned the name of the Kamatur Rakshas, a smile full of meaning passed round the assembly. KAMATUR signifies “ sick with love ;" or “madly in love ;" and since his hallucination about Sita, the epithet of Kamatur Rakshas, or “the love-sick Titan," had been stealthily applied to himself in all the gossiping coteries that formed round the Court of Lanka. For then, as now, though subjects would fight loyally, and die bravely for their monarch, they would freely canvass his faults. Indeed, the nick. name was first tauntingly given him by his own virtuous brother, Bibbi. shana, who, though most devotedly attached to his person and his govern ment, never ceased to protest against his injustice in detaining Sita, and to warn him of the fatal results of persevering in such a course. But there was another reason for the furtive merriment. Among the auditors of the dream, standing in his place among the ancient Senapatis, or military chiefs, was the genuine Kamatur Rak. shas himself, to whom Ravan's narrative alluded. He was the oldest friend and companion of the Titan king, and was a general favourite at the Rak shas' court; but of so humorous a turn of mind, and so eccentric in his conduct, that the mere introduction of a name so constantly associated with fun, into a recital so sombre, and al. most tragic in its general character, produced a contrast of ideas that was too violent for the gravity of the assembly. The original name of this Titan was Kopa-dana, a title indicative of the combination in his character of anger and generosity; but since he had held the government of the pearl. fisheries, it had been changed to Ka matur. For while exercising this go vernment he had once entertained, for some months, a group of beautiful Apsaras, those celestial nymphs that
dance like mists upon the sunbeams whose virtue was equal to their beauty -and became passionately attached to one of the number, named Ramaniya,* or the “ Charmer." His love, lowever, was as chivalric as it was ardent; and, not being returned by the fair object of his passion, except by a grateful friendship, he limited the expres. sion of his passion to keeping vigil at night in full armour) outside the tower in which Ramaniya's chamber was situated, and driving away all the Yakshas and Pishachas that infested the neighbourhood, with the intention of carrying off the beauty.
One of the remarkable peculiarities about the Kamatur Rakshas was his (apparent) love for the brute creation. He collected together all the animals and birds of every description that he could lay his hands on-fed them sumptuously, erected extensive Pashu-shalas (the same as the modern Pinjura-purs, or animal hospitals of Surat and Bombay) for their accommodation, and passed a great part of his time in their company; so that he was as well known and beloved among the deer, wild boars, sheep, kids, peacocks, herons, doves, &c., as a Buddhist priest or a Muni living in forest hermitage. A friar, indeed, of the Buddhist order actually assisted him in these beneficent ministrations to the animals and birds; but, strange to say, all this attachment was, on his part, wholly deceptive. One after another, he slaughtered and feasted on bis favourites, not only without remorse, but with a cruel zest that betrayed the latent Titan. The true solution of the inconsistency was this: He was a firm believer in the metempsychosis. But on this general doctrine he had engrafted a theory of his own, that the happiness of the wandering soul, after each emigration, depended on its condition (happy or otherwise) at the moment of making
• RAMANA signifies, in Sanscrit, a husband, a lover, a sporter, player, tambler. RAMANI, & wife, sweetheart, agreeable woman, female player, dancer; from the root RAM, to sport. There can be no doubt this is the true origin of the term ROMANI, by which the Gypsies designate both a Gypsy and a husband. Their language, with a great portion of modern Hindu dialects, contains many words of pure Sanscrit, such as SHAKA (vegetable); KASHTA (wood), &c.
its exit from one sphere of living being into another. So that the greatest possible mercy that could be shown to any animal was to cut it off when it was in the full flush of good feeding, and rolling in clover. The misery in which old and diseased animals linger out a wretched existence in the Pinjara. purs, or animal hospitals, had probably suggested this theory, and certainly af forded it no small justification. But it was found also to harmonise admis rably with a very proper Titanic relish for good fat saddles of gram-fed mutton, haunches of venison, and boars roasted whole.
Another peculiarity was his power of using the “ Mohan-Astra,” and the delight which he took in it. The As. tras are, as we may inform our readers, a kind of weapons that one constantly meets in the ancient Hindu legends, and which at first are very puzzling. They sometimes have a palpable shape, and from their effects in burning the enemy, &c., we are led to imagine, that they are nothing but rockets or shells, and that the ancient Hindus were well acquainted with the use of gunpowder. But a further acquain. tance corrects this idea. We find the operator folding his arms on the field of battle, and, by mere inward medi. tation, despatching the Astra, which
is to arrest or consume the hostile army. We find such elemental Astras as " Wet Thunderbolt," “ Dry Thunderbolt," “ Rain Astra," 6 Drought Astra," “ Frost Astra ;" such spiritual Astras as “ Fascination,” “ Allure ment,” “Maddening," or "Intoxication," "Trembling" or “ Panic;* such physiological Astras as “ Orer. powering with Sleep,” “ Quieting," and « Paralysing ;" and we are forced ultimately to conclude, that the whole armoury is spiritual, and is to be inter. preted by three analogies in the Ea. ropean sphere of thought and experi. ence- namely, magic, mesmerism, and the modern electro-biology. We subjoin here a curious list of these weapons, taken from the Ramayana. The manuscripts vary a good deal : even the printed editions of Schlegel and Gorresio differ somewhat as to the order, the number, and the names of the Astras. There is, however, a suf. ficient agreement, on the whole. Gor. resio's edition, the typography of which is beautiful, but in which the text is, in general, less carefully and correctly edited than Scblegel's, contains the fuller list of the two. We have constructed the subjoined catalogue of the magical armoury from a comparison of both :
LIST OF ASTRAS, OR SUPERNATURAL WEAPONS, DELIVERED BY THE SAGE VISE
VAMITRA TO RAMA, FOR HIS COMBAT WITH THE TITANS.
The Bramh Astra;' terrible to the three collected worlds.
Rattling Bones,' worn by the Titans.
The Burning-up' and the "Smearing-over’ Astras.
sion.' The Heroism’Astra ; the Splendour,' the · Abstraction of others' splendour.' The · Moon' and the . Frost’ Astras ; the Twashtra,' or 'Chaos-demon’ Astra, powerful to
enemies. The invincible • Smiting' Astra ; the • Daitya,' the 'Danava’ Astras. And the Cold-pointed arrow;' the peculiar Astra of man.
The purely spiritual nature of these service by inward volition, or mental weapons, that they are summoned and summons, is evident from the followembodied by magical incantation, dwelling passage, which succeeds the enuin the mind alone, and perform their meration of the Astras :
Then, turning with his face to the east, and purified, the eminent Muni
When, by a mere volition and word spoken, the professor of biology makes his victim not only believe that it freezes, but actually shiver with cold in the midst of summer, he merely launches the “ Frost Astra" at him from his mind. When he forces him to take shelter under the table from the pelting of the pitiless storm, it is “ Wet Thunderbolt" and the “Rain Astra." When he causes him to feel the taste of wine from a draught of pure water, and to reel and stagger from its effects, it is the “ Intoxication Astra.” When he nails his foot to the floor with a word, or shuts his eyes so that he cannot open them, it is the “ Paralysing Astra.”
The " casting into deep sleep,” the " thoroughly quieting," and the “ Paralysing Astras" have their co-relatives in mesmerism, also, to which biology evidently bears some relation
In the "burning," " whipping," “pounding to atoms," "shaking to pieces,” and other Astras of physical
torture, we are reminded of the plagues with which the magician, Prospero, threatens to visit the refractory Caliban, according to the well-known practice of his profession. The Astras of " allurement," " fascination," “ bewitching," “ maddening with love,” are amongst the recognised powers of magic; love itself being, indeed, an admitted magical and mesmeric power, acting through the eyes. The power of affecting the BRAIN through the optic nerve, by fixing the eye on one point, if luminous so much the better, to which the biologist resorts, and which is only another form of Mr. Braid's HYPNOTISING, and of Jacob Behmen's looking into the bright tin dish to bring on ecstacy has been exercised, time out of mind, by the ecstatic schools of India: many of the Yogis, following the advice of Krishna, in the Gita, and gazing downward on the tips of their own noses, while others squint upwards at the corner of their eyebrows. But this is a very different matter from the
* Or " Intoxication."; † Schlegel renders it--" taking them each by the hand"-Singulos manu prehendens.
“ fascination" produced by two eyes into her two eyes. The story is given looking intently and immovably into in the Mahabharata in the Anushasana other two eyes of a different sex, and Parva, Adhyaya XL., and is one of in which the soul itself is affected the greatest curiosities in the whole Upon the very natural employment, circle of Hindu literature. What is and the result of this process in love. not a little singular, although the making, we need not dwell. But the method adopted by Vipula, and the modern adoption of this very method to effects produced upon the woman, corinduce the mesmeric sleep is more respond exactly with those of mesmer. curious, and shows that there is an ism, the theory is quite different, and undoubted relation, which it wonld be peculiarly Hindu. It is this, that the worth while to understand, between spirit or intelligence of Vipula, formagic, mesmerism, fascination, and sakes his own frame, and enters that love. What renders the adoption of of the woman through the eyes and this mode of mesmerism by the fascina. mouth; his own body remaining, as it tion of the eye more curious, is, that were, inanimate the while. Here is we find this also mentioned as having the story-It is only necessary to state been practised in India, more than two that Shakra is another name for Indra; thousand years ago, for the purpose of the Jupiter Pluvius and Tonans of the fascinating and paralysing a woman; old elemental Hindu Pantheon, but a and, singular to say, in order to pre- very secondary deity-a mere angel of serve her from the counter fascinations thunder and rain, in that form of Hinof a lover.
duism which superseded the Vedic, A disciple named Vipula, left in and has now reigned, with some modi. solemn charge of his master's beautiful fications, for nearly three thousand wife, and finding her inclined to give years. He is as great a rake as too great heed to the compliments and Olympian Jove, whose prototype, inflattery of a celestial visitor, who comes deed, in this respect, he is; but is more peacocking in all his plumery during consistently represented as a beautiful her husband's absence from his her. celestial youth-a Giovanni descended mitage, mesmerises and paralyses her from Swarga. He is the discomfited powers so completely that she can neither lover in the tale. speak nor move, by looking steadily Vipula, the ascetic Muni, mesmerises his Preceptor's Wife (Ruchi), in order to
prevent her from giving heed to the fine speeches of Indra, or Shakra. That Vipula, mighty ascetic, SEATED NEAR his Preceptor's wife, FASCINATED, with all his might, the beautiful woman SEATED BEFORE HIM. WITH HIS TWO EYES UPON HER TWO EYES, RAYS UNITING WITH RAYS, Vipula entered her body, even as the wind pervadeth the empty space, HER SIGHT WITH HIS SIGHT, and HER MOUTH WITH HIS MOUTH (pervading.)* Motionless, then, the Muni remained, like a shadow vanishing inward : Then Vipula, taking under his own control the body of his Preceptor's wife, Abode therein, intent upon keeping her safe ; but SHE WAS NOT AWARE OF HIS PRESENCE. He guarded her all the time, O King, his Preceptor remained away; Till the mighty of spirit, having accomplished his sacrifice, home returned.
XLL. Once about then, the Lord of the Devas, assuming a body of heavenly form, Thinking “now is the time for me,” that hermitage approached. Making his beauty beyond compare, and much to be loved, the lord of mankind, Becoming most lovely to look upon, entered that hermitage. There he beheld that body of Vipula Muni seated, Motionless and with fixed eye, as if to a statue turned ! And Ruchi, with beautiful side-long glances, with rounded form, and bosom replete with
milk, With eyes like the lotus-leaf and large, and a face that shone like the moon at its full.
* These are the very remarkable words of the original :
Guru-patnim samasino Vipulaha sa mahatapaha
She, as soon as she looked upon him, desired to rise up precipitate,
CONTROL; And the Shaker of Cities, standing there, became perplexed exceedingly. That King of the Devas, O lord of men, perceiving this her aversion, The Thousand-eyed One, then giving a glance with his (inward] celestial eye, Beheld the Muni within her body, visible before him, Like an image within a mirror, reflected him within the body of his Preceptor's wife; With terrific mortification armed, the Shaker of Cities beholding, Then trembled he, Sovereign, greatly alarmed, and dreading his terrible curse : But, releasing the wife of his ghostly Preceptor, Vipula, glorious ascetic, Entering bis proper body again, thus spoke to the terrified Shakra“O slave of thy senses, evil-disposed, sin-breathing Shaker of Cities! Not long will the gods and men continue to worship thee! What! Shakra, hast thou forgotten, is it not fixed in thy mind, That thou by Gautama wert let go, branded all over with marks of shame? I know thee, the lord of the boyish intellect, and the spirit uncollected : Fool! this woman by me is guarded_begone as thou camest, mischievous wretch! Thee let me not, O foolish of spirit, this day consume with my holy radiance. Feeling compassion, I do not wish, O Vasava, to burn thce. But if the more terrible Lord of Mind, the Preceptor, see thee sin devising, He will this day consume thee utterly with an anger-enkindled eye: And, Shakra, thou oughtest not to act thus again ; but shouldest respect the Bramhans. He, whom the Scripture calleth my son and minister,' smites with the power of God : And for that thou goest forward to sin) confiding in this idea, 'I am immortal.' Beware and do not despise! there is nothing whatever too hard to accomplish by peniten
tial austerities." Shakra, on hearing this speech of Vipula, mighty in spirit, Without uttering a single word, abashed, vanished on the spot.
To return, however, from this tale of fascination to the Astras. Among the list of these spiritual weapons, one, it will be observed, is described as preeminently the human Astra, and that is “the cold pointed arrow.” This, it must be confessed, looks very like the “cold steel" which was such a favou. rite resource with our illustrious countryman, Lord Gough, and we are almost tempted to doubt its spirituality. But some undoubtedly spiritual are of a very formidable class. We have the “ Smiting" or “ Killing" Astra, like that exercised by the professors of
black magic; the “Trembling" Astra, which scattered panic among an enemy; the Astra of “Fainting" or “Insensibility," which struck the victim senseless in a moment - the “blasting of enemies," some reminiscence or presentiment of which is expressed in the Janguage of popular execration among ourselves.
Then, again, we have a class of goblin Astras, which must have operated terribly upon the imagination, such as the Devil's Astra, “red flesh-eater," and the Rakshas Astra of “ KankalaMushala," which Schlegel translates