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Bright Vahni,” flaming like the lamp of day;
Four arms divine, and robes of changing dyes.”
Indra is worshipped on the fourteenth of the month Badra, accompanied by numerous festivities; after which the image is thrown into the water. His worshippers solicit from him riches and the various enjoyments of life, together with a future residence in his celestial abode.
Indra has a variety of names. He is called Sakra, in consequence of being the evil adviser of the demons or Asuras, by whom he was so often driven from heaven; and, with true mythological inconsistency, Pakushasani, he who governs the gods with justice; Shatkratu, he to whom a hundred sacrifices are made ; Vajra Pani, the bearer of the thunder bolt; Vitraha; Bularati; and Numuchisadana, the destroyer of the giants; Wrisha the holy; Meghusadama, he who is borne on the clouds, &c. &c.
Indra possesses the following blessings, produced at the churning of the ocean. Kamdenu, the all-yielding cow; Pariyataka, the tree of plenty ; and Oochistava, the eight-headed horse. The princes of Kangti, the rajahs of Asam, and other chiefs in the eastern parts of India, pretend to have derived their origin from Indra.
* Vahni, of the south-east. + Kuvera, of the south. I Marut, of the north-west. § Yama, of the south. | Isa, or Isani, of the north-east. * Nairit, of the south-west. This account will be found to vary slightly from other descriptions of the regents of the winds or eight points of the earth; but the several accounts differ in a very trifling degree, introducing Agni instead of Vahni; Surya instead of Nairit: Chandra for Kuvera; and Chandra also, or Prithivi, for Isa.
This deity was the son of Kasyapa and Aditi, and from his mother is called Aditya. He is pictured of a deep golden complexion, with his head encircled by golden rays of glory. He has sometimes four, and at others two, arms; holding a lotus in one of his hands, and sometimes the chukra or wheel in another; standing or sitting on a lotus pedestal, or seated in his splendid car with one wheel, drawn by a seven-headed horse of an emerald colour, or “the seven coursers green” of the sun.
First o'er blue hills appear,
With many an agate hoof
Nor boasts yon arched roof,
In the preface to this work I have imagined the source of all idolatry to have been the sun. Surya is the personification of that luminary, the orb of light and heat; but the omnipotent sun, the creator of all things, the god of the universe, is Brahm; typified among the first idolators by the visible
* Arun and Garuda are the sons of Kasyapa and of Vinata. † Garuda, the sacred bird of Vishnu. f A name of Vishnu.
sun, and by the Hindus by their three principal deities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, personifications of his attributes, creation, preservation, and destruction. But Surya, as the type also of the deity, is likewise that of his attributes. Thus, in the east, morning, he is Brahma, creation; at noon, Vishnu, preservation; in the west, evening, Siva, destruction. We shall, therefore, have little occasion for surprise at the great veneration in which this deity is held by all classes of the Hindus. Sir William Jones, in his beautiful hymn to Surya, terms him “the lord of the lotus.”
“ Lord of the lotus, father, friend, and king,
Thy mystic orb triform, though Brahma tuned the strain.”
The mystic orb triform alludes to the omnipotent and incomprehensible power represented by the triple divinity of the Hindus. The flower of the lotus is said to expand its leaves on the rising of the sun, and to close them when it sets. The Aswinikumara, the twins of the Hindu zodiac, are called the children of Surya, from Aswini, a form of Parvati in the shape of a mare, into whose nostrils Surya breathed, and thus impregnated her with sun-beams and gave birth to the Aswini. Surya is, by some writers, called the regent of the south-west. He presides over Adit-war, or Sunday (from Adit, the first, and War, day.) Surya has various names. In the Gayatri he is called Savitri, as the symbol of the splendour of the supreme ruler, or the creator of the universe. The most important of these names will be noticed in the third part of this work. Prabha, or brightness, is the consort, or sacti, of Surya. She is also Chaya, or shade, which form she assumed in consequence of not being able to endure the intensity of the splendour of her lord. The Saurias derive their name from the radiance of their deity, “soor S