Изображения страниц


The mythological mountain Meru, the Mienmo of the Burmese, and the Sineru of the Siamese, is termed by the Hindus the navel of the world, and is their Olympus, the fabled residence of their deities. It is described by them to be placed at the north pole and formed like a lotus, the petals of which are the abodes of the gods, attended by the Rishees, the Gundharvas, the Apsaras, and the Naga Rajah or great Snake King. On the summit is the heaven of Brahma; in the east is Swerga, the paradise of Indra, resplendent as a thousand suns; in the south-east is the heaven of Agni; in the south is Yamas; in the south-west, Virupacsha's; in the west, Varuna's; in the north-west, Vayu's; in the north is Kuvera's, whose seat is formed of lapus-lazuli; and in the north-east is the heaven of Siva, “ of fervid gold.” Siva would thus appear to be doubly provided for, Virupacsha being also one of his names. According to some, Surya occupies the south-west. The heaven of Vishnu is variously placed : by some in the Frozen Ocean, and by others in a subterraneous sea of milk. Indra's terrestrial abode is described to be in the mountains of Silanta, a delightful country with plenty of water, where he constantly enjoys the harmonious songs of the black bee and frogs. The terrestrial residence of Siva is the Himalaya Mountain.

The Siamese and Burmese describe this mythological mountain differently, and also vary from each other. In the representation of it in plate 28, from a large Hindu drawing in my possession, the centre, A, is Meru ; B, the heavenly mansions ; C, the abode of the great Nagas, as I shall presently more particularly notice; and D, the infernal regions. Meru, according to some descriptions, appears to be seven great ranges of hills, forming seven stages, each stage being encircled by a sea. These stages contain the four great dwipas, and the heavenly mansions of the devatas or gods. Round the whole is the Maha Samut, or the great sea. B describes the heavenly mansions on the plane as they are placed above Meru, the sixteen that are marked from 24 to 39 being those of Indra and other deities. The temples above are the superior heavens, which are particularly described in the drawing, in Sanscrit characters; the crescent in the centre at the top, is the abode of the Supreme Being, round which perpetually revolve the sun, moon, and other celestial bodies.


Below A, are D the infernal regions, with sinners undergoing the punishments apportioned to their several crimes, marked from 8 to 23, which will be found more particularly described in my account of Yama, page 113; and B, the abode of the great Snake King (Raja Naga), attended by Bhumme Nari, the Goddess of the Earth, &c. The worship of the snake gods is termed Naga Panchami. These gods, of whom, among the Hindus, Vasuki (see Vasuki and Manusa in the third part of this work) is the lord, and Manusa the queen, reside in regions immediately under the earth, which are the seat of exhaustless treasures, the blaze of which supplies the absence of the solar radiance. The principal Nagas, of which there are about a dozen, are propitiated with offerings of milk and ghee. The fifth lunar day of Sravana is held sacred to the Nagas. On that day ablutions should be performed in the pool sacred to Vasuki, the lord of the Nagas. By observing this ceremony the Nagas are pleased, and the votaries may rest free from the dread of serpents. “Offerings of ghee, dhurva grass, &c. should be made to the Nagas, and drawings of deadly poisonous serpents should be exhibited, representing them armed with scimitars and shields ; but the upper part of the body should be of human appearance, the lower part that of a snake, painted black, which on the day of worship should be bathed with milk.”* In the south of India the day is called Garura's panchami, the bird garura being the implacable enemy of the snakes.

* Calcutta Government Gazette.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

7* (erk luth 1. Dean streho

Fig.1. Osiru. 2. Isis. 3. Orus. 4. Isis as Nature. 5. Apis or Osiris as Serapis

Published br Parbary, aller de C London.1832




As the mythology of ancient Egypt is frequently alluded to in notices of that of the Hindus, a brief sketch of it in this place may not be found unuseful. I have already imagined that both the Egyptians and Hindus have been indebted for the origin of their idolatry to the Chaldeans, and that the other parts of the eastern and western worlds have, in like manner, obtained theirs from them.

The early religion of the Egyptians was, no doubt, as well as that of the Hindus, the worship of a supreme and only God, the creator of the universe, which was exchanged for what they considered the symbol of his power and majesty, the sun. This symbol they subsequently personified and worshipped, and endowed with the divine attributes of a deity, possessing, at the same time, the sensual appetites of humanity. Thus another personification was necessarily introduced and worshipped, as the goddess, or female nature, from whom, by the fecundizing power of the solar orb, every thing possessing either animal or vegetable life was produced. This caused a third personified deity, typical of the essence of the power and energy of both. Thus Osiris, the great emblem of the solar body; Isis, the symbol of æther, “the natural parent and spirit of the universe, comprehending and pervading the whole creation ;” and Orus or Horus, the symbol of light (usually described as a winged boy standing between Osiris and Isis), are the three great deities of the Egyptian mythology, who have radiated, like the Hindu triad, into a multiplicity of forms and names, either as their various attributes were displayed, or according to the motions of the two great luminaries, of which Osiris, and Isis (in one of her forms) were the personified representations. Plutarch makes Osiris to signify “ the active principle or the most holy Being; Isis, the wisdom or rule of his operation ; Orus, the first production of his power,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »