« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
at the close of which the boy eats of the rice which has been offered in the burnt sacrifice, and thus the ceremony ends.
The receiving of the poita is, as I have elsewhere stated, considered as the second birth of a Hindu, who is from that time denominated twiceborn. A boy cannot be married till he has received the poita.
The sacred thread must be made by a Brahman. It consists of three strings, each ninety-six hands (forty-eight yards), which are twisted together: it is then folded into three, and again twisted; these are a second time folded into the same number, and tied at each end in knots. It is worn over the left shoulder (next the skin, extending half-way down the right thigh), by the Brahmans, Ketries, and Vaisya castes. The first are usually invested with it at eight years of age, the second at eleven, and the Vaisya at twelve. The period may, from especial causes, be deferred : but it is indispensable that it should be received, or the parties omitting it become outcasts.
The Hindus of the Sudra caste do not receive the poita.
The temples of the Hindus vary, in a very great degree, both in their structure and dimensions; from the small choultry, containing the simple clay image or emblem of the deity, to the magnificently sculptured fane enriched by a whole pantheon of gods in all their varied forms, attributes, and avatars; and from this to the extensive cavern temples of Ellora, Karli, Elephanta, &c. &c. That the sculptures in these temples are inferior in many points to those of Greece and Rome, will not be questioned; but that there are other points in which they have never been excelled, is equally undoubted.
Plate 27 of this work is a representation of part of the south front of the beautiful temple of Rama, at Ramnaghur. It is stated to have been commenced by the unfortunate Rajah Cheyt Singh, and is described as one of the most admirable specimens of indefatigable and minute labour in all Hindustan. Hamilton describes it as being equally beautiful and mythologically correct. Hindu drawings of the four fronts are in my possession, which correspond in all points except in the variety of their mythological subjects, and possess one merit over most of the temples of a similar description in Hindustan, viz. that in the whole of the compartments, which comprise the forms and avatars of the several deities, there is not a single unchaste figure to be discovered among them. The part of the south front of the building shewn in plate 27, represents, in the centre of the upper row of figures, Durga destroying the giant Muhisha, Ganesha, and a figure kneeling : on one side are also three devotees. In the centre of the second row appear to be Krishna concealing himself from the Gopias, with one of the latter on each side. On the left side of the centre, commencing from the left, are, in one compartment, Ganesha and Kartikeya; in others, Hanuman, Mungula, three of (to me) unknown figures; and in the two lower rows, elephants, &c. On the right of the centre are Yama, Hanuman, Agni, Kal, and two more unknown forms, with the two lower rows as before. On each side of the door are various figures. The whole stands upon a terrace, apparently commanding a wide extent of country. Several other figures from this temple are presented in the plates of this work. Of the cavern temples of Ellora, the Earl of Munster (then Colonel Fitzclarence) has written: “I will not permit my feelings to pass away without recording them on a more secure tablet than that of my memory. My eyes and mind are absolutely satiated with the wonders I have seen. The first are weary with objects so gigantic and extraordinary; and the latter has been so much on the stretch, being crowded and overwhelmed with ideas so overpowering and various, that I despair of ever forming a calm judgment upon them. Some of the sculptured decorations, and taste of the ornaments, would do credit to the best period of the Grecian school.” These temples are of both Brahmanical and Buddhist workmanship. The origin of them, as well as those of Elephanta, Salcette, Karli, &c., appears to have been altogether lost in the lapse of ages. The Ellora caves are fifteen (some say more) in number, and consist of Jugnath Subba, Adnath Subba, Indur Subba, Pursaram Subba, Dooma Leyna, Junwassa or the place of nuptials, Ghana, Neelkunt, Mahadeo, Rameshwar, Kylas (Kailasa, or the paradise of Mahadeo), Dus Outar, Teen Tal, Bhurt Chutturghun, Biskurma or Viswakarma ka Jompree (the Carpenter's hovel), and Dehr Warra. Of these, Kylas, or the paradise of Mahadeo, stands preeminent, both in extent and beauty. The approach to it is handsome, and it consists of a pagoda a hundred feet high, of a sugar-loaf form, surrounded by five chapels, being nearly miniatures of the grand temple. The extreme depth of the excavation in the rock is 401 feet, the extreme breadth 185 feet, which will make an area of about two acres. The whole of this immense body is supported on the backs of elephants, intermixed with animals resembling tigers and griffins, and exhibits one vast and extraordinary mass of sculpture of most exquisite workmanship. The space occupied by what Major Seely has correctly denominated the “wonders of Ellora,” embraces many miles, the whole hewn out of the solid rock, and sculptured into so vast and rich a pantheon of gods, demi-gods, and heroes, with architectural ornaments of every description, exhibited in temples, chapels, halls, vestibules, galleries, &c., as would require a volume of no small size to describe them with appropriate justice. The temples of the south are not less worthy of notice than those of the more northern and central provinces of India. The beautiful temple of Cirangam, or Ciringapatam, is described by Bartolomeo as a real masterpiece of Indian architecture. It is situated in the kingdom of Tanjore, on the island of Ciranga, which lies in the river Colura or Colram. “This temple (he says) is surrounded by seven walls, each of a square form, which together inclose the whole edifice. They are entirely constructed of hewn stone, are twenty-five feet in height, and each is 350 feet distant from the other in a parallel direction. Each wall has four gates, and over each gate is a gobura, or high tower, which rests on the middle of the wall, and is at an equal distance from both ends. These gates and towers, which stand exactly opposite to each other, looking towards the four cardinal points, are ornamented with columns thirty-five feet in length and five in thickness. In the centre of this temple, that is the sanctuary, stands the image of Vishnu, to whom it is dedicated. On the gates, towers, and walls may be seen various figures of men and animals, which all have a symbolical meaning. This temple is, at least, * two thousand years old, and serves to shew how far advanced the ancient Indians were in the arts of architecture and sculpture.” I am induced to extend this article, to notice the much-resorted-to temple of Tripetty, in the kingdom of Tanjore. The following account will, in a general sense, be found a tolerably correct description of the measures commonly adopted by the Brahmans to impose upon the minds of their superstitious and ignorant followers. This celebrated temple, which it has been said was not built by mortal hands, is situated in the Carnatic, about eighty miles from Madras, and is resorted to by pilgrims from every part of India. It is dedicated to Vishnu as Ballaji, whose image, seven feet in height, with four arms, and having in three of his hands the chukra, the chank, and the lotus, is here worshipped with those of Lakshmi and the serpent Sesha. It is built of stone and covered with plates of gilt copper, and stands in a valley in the centre of a range of hills, which are impervious alike to the Christian and the Mussulman. The very sight of the hills, though at the distance of many leagues, is so gratifying to the Hindu devotees, that upon first catching a glimpse of these sacred rocks they fall prostrate, calling upon the idol's name. A lively correspondent in the Asiatic Journal thus farther describes it, and its ceremonies: “The early history of the Pagoda is involved in the obscurity of Indian mythology and fable. Its antiquity is undoubted, and the Brahmans assert that it was erected at the commencement of the KaliAyug, of which, I believe, 4,930 years have expired. This temple is distinguished by the oblations which are offered to its god, by Vishnu's votaries from all parts of the Indian world. Princes send their wakeels or ambassadors to present their offerings to the shrine; whilst the poorer peasant, who may have less to offer, wraps up some petty oblation in a piece of waxcloth : a handful of rice stained with munjal makes it look a larger packet.