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Fig. 1, plate 15, is a compound figure, half man half woman, or Siva and Parvati conjoined, called Ardha Nari or Ardha Maheswari, which I imagine may apply to Viraj. In one hand Siva holds the trident, and, in another, Parvati the damara; the other two are joined together. From the head of Siva issues the sacred Gunga. His foot rests on the bull, Parvati's on the tiger.
It will be unnecessary to say more of the intimate union of this quarrelsome couple than I have above stated; except that, as frequently happens to men who are unruly abroad, the lady at home was the better half. Thus, in the war of Lanka, it was found that, although Siva, on the importunity of the other gods, wished to act in conjunction with them to destroy his worshipper Ravan, Parvati put the whole of the assembled deities at defiance; till the flattery of the accomplished Rama obtained her acquiescence.
One account related by Mr. Ward is however worthy of notice, as it exhibits, what we might not have been otherwise prepared to expect, the miserable plight to which even the supreme of the Hindu gods, with all their glory and magnificence, were sometimes reduced. It appears that Siva having only one mouth, and Parvati as Durga ten, with Ganesha besides to support, he desired to be thus united to preserve himself from starving. But we have elsewhere a more godlike account of this union, viz. that Siva assumed the conjoint form, to prove that he was the supreme being, possessing both the male and female powers of creation.
The conjoint forms of Vishnu and Siva. This singular union of the two great deities of the Hindu sects is involved in much obscurity, and the little light that we have on the subject is not of the most becoming description. The union is, perhaps, little else than the caprice of the votaries of the two deities. The sculptures of them in this form somewhat resemble Ardha Nari. In pictures, Vishnu is painted black and Siva white.
This appellation, like that of Iswara, appears to have been claimed by the followers of the three principal deities for the three several objects of their worship. Thus Brahma was Narayana; the Vishnaivas bestowed the title upon their god Vishnu; and the Saivas upon Siva.
Narayana is the spirit of the supreme god; but, as the Hindus, when they lost sight of an unity of worship, endowed their idol with his essence, Narayana may be, as above stated, Brahma, Vishnu, or Siva, and is sometimes even Ganesha. Narayani, his sacti, may be accordingly Suraswati, Lakshmi, or Parvati. Vishnu is, however, in common usage, called Narayana, in which character he is fabled to be sleeping on the serpent Shesha or Ananta, on the waters of Eternity, and causing the creation of the world. He is also described with his toe in his mouth, reposing in like manner on the leaf of the lotus, which an old work now before me thus describes. “ Before the creation of the world, Vishnu, that is God, had some inclination to have a new place to recreate and delight himself in : he accordingly swam on the leaf of a tree on the water (for there was nothing but God and water before the creation) like a little child, with his great toe in his mouth, in the form of a circle; in testimony that he is without beginning or end. He then caused a flower to spring out of his navel, from whence sprang Brahma, whom God (as elsewhere related) commanded to create the world.”
Fig. 1, plate 5, from the temple of Rama, represents Vishnu as Narayana sleeping on the serpent Ananta : from his navel springs the stem of the lotus, from the flower of which issues Brahma, with the Veda and as in his hands. Near Brahma are two (apparently) combatants, armed with swords and shields. At the feet of Vishnu is Lakshmi, champooing one of his legs.
Prith’hivi, the goddess of the earth, is by some termed a form of Lakshmi, by others of Parvati. Her husband is Prit'hu, produced, in strict accord
ance with mythological extravagance, by churning the right arm of a deceased tyrant who had died without issue, that he might have a posthumous son, who is represented as a form of Vishnu.
This primitive couple appear to have quarrelled in a very primitive manner; that is, the mother of nature became sulky and would not supply her husband or his family (mankind) with food. Prit’hu, in consequence, beat and wounded her : on which she assumed the form of a cow, and complained to the gods; who having heard both sides of the question, allowed him and his children to treat her in a similar manner, whenever she again became stubborn and sulky.
In this mythological tale we may discover a rude allegory of the bountiful productiveness of the earth, when aided by the industry of man. The loveliness of nature robed in her most splendid attire, is, like that of her beauteous daughters, when unattended by good humour and domestic utility, of little use to him, unless accompanied by the smiles and blessings of Ceres. We must not, however, pursue the comparison farther, as the gods of Meru allowed Prit’hu and his children not only to take from Prithivi her arborescent decorations, but to scarify her form and lacerate her bosom, whenever she refused a cheerful performance of her duties. Thus it is that the woodland must be cleared, and the spade and plough employed, before the earth will yield a ready obedience and support to the offspring of her lord. Prithivi, nevertheless, in spite of her occasional stubbornness, is allowed to possess, on submitting meekly to her castigation, the truly feminine virtues of patience, humility, and resignation.
As a form of Lakshmi, Prithivi is the Indian Ceres. Daily sacrifices are offered to her. The Hindus divide the earth into ten parts, to each of which a deity is assigned.
GANESHA. This deity, the god of wisdom and policy, is painted as a short, fat, redcoloured man, with a large belly and the head of an elephant. He has four arms; in one hand of which he holds the ankas or hook for guiding the elephant, in another a chank or shell, in the third a conical ball, and in
the fourth a cup with small cakes, with which he is supposed to feed himself. He is sitting on the lotus. Fig. 2, in the frontispiece, exactly represents the images made and set up of him, with those of Durga, in the festivals of that goddess in Calcutta. He is frequently described as riding on, or having near him a rat, the emblem of prudence and foresight, and is invoked on all matters of business by the Hindus. If a person undertake a journey or build a house, prayers are addressed to Ganesha; for which purpose his statues are set up on the roads and other open places. At the commencement of a letter or a book, or an invocation to a superior deity, a salutation is usually made to him; and his image is frequently seen placed, as a propitiation, over the doors of houses and shops, to insure success to the temporal concerns of their owners.
The Peishwa, Bajee Row, had an image of Ganesha, valued at £50,000. It was of gold and had eyes of diamonds.
The introduction of Ganesha into the celestial regions was a work of as much mystery as that of his brother Kartikeya, neither of them being “ of woman born.” Ganesha, however, contrived to come into the world without the aid of a father as well: but as the gods have ways peculiarly their own in the management of their affairs, we will adopt the practice universally exercised in polished society in the terrestial regions (of which the coteries in this country are distinguished examples), of not prying rudely into matters that do not concern us; and with which the god of prudence, whom I now treat of and invoke, would teach us, that the less we have to do the better. We must, therefore, rest satisfied in learning that Ganesha was formed in the same manner as Prometheus produced his handy-works; save and except that, instead of clay, his mother Parvati, while bathing, collected the scum and impurities floating on the surface of the water in the bath, and kneaded them into the form of a man, to which she gave life, not by fire stolen from heaven, but by pouring over it the holy water of the Ganges. Notwithstanding this irregular mode of procuring an offspring, Parvati was as fond of her elephant-headed scion, as if every thing had been effected in the most becoming way imaginable.
? Various stories are related of the manner in which Ganesha became possessed of his elephant head, some of which are greatly opposed to the account just given of his formation. By some legends it would appear, that after having given life to him, Parvati placed him as a guard at the door of the bath, when Siva approached it and wished to enter, which Ganesha would not permit. The god, in consequence, became incensed and cut off his head; but on learning that it was the son of Parvati whom he had thus so unceremoniously treated, and beholding that goddess overwhelmed with affliction for the loss of her child, he took the first head, which was that of an elephant, that could be found (as the other had disappeared), and placed it on his shoulders.
Others state, that Parvati believing, as mothers are prone to do, and which she was unquestionably warranted in doing, that her child was an extraordinary prodigy, requested Shuni or Sani (the Hindu Saturn) to look at it. The god, considerately recollecting that his gaze was as baneful and destructive as the Gorgon's head, attempted to back out of the compliment; but the partial and importunate mother would not be denied. To gratify her, therefore, he at length looked at Ganesha, whose head was instantly consumed to ashes; but as it would not have been compatible with either common sense or propriety for the god of wisdom to have remained without one, Brahma, to pacify Parvati, directed that the first which could be discovered, and which proved to be an elephant's, should be placed on the headless trunk; and promised, as a kind of antidote to the misfortune, that Ganesha should be the first worshipped among the gods.
Other legends assert that his mother formed him with an elephantine head : and, as nature plays her wild fantastic tricks with her progeny, why should not nature's goddess toss about her ball with celestial fancy, at her will and pleasure ? Others again state, that Siva cut off his head in consequence of his fighting with Vishnu.
Siddhi and Buddhi (knowledge and understanding) are represented as the two wives of Ganesha.
The Father Bartolomeo states, that Ganesha is called Pollyar on the