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which are fixed very loosely, and in a position sloping forward, semicircular knives, upon which the Sanyasis throw themselves, in succession. In general, the effect of the fall is to turn the knives fiat upon the bedding, in which case they do no harm; but occasionally severe wounds, and even death, are the consequences of this rite. Before they take their leap, the performers cast fruits, as cocoa-nuts, bels, plantains, &c. among the crowd, in which there is a great scramble for them, as they are supposed to possess much virtue. Women desirous of progeny are very anxious to get these donations; and those of the first families send persons to obtain and bring them for their private eating.”* The ensuing day is spent in revelling and dancing among burning ashes, and afterwards casting them at each other. On the following one they again infest the streets, attended by music of such an abominable description, that our old national instruments of hymeneal serenade (now, like many other good old things, become obsolete from the march of intellect) would be almost celestial harmony to it.
In the immediate neighbourhood of Calcutta, at Kalighat, stands the celebrated temple of Kali: the energy of Siva in his destructive character of Kal, or Time, on the altar of which myriads of animals are annually sacrificed. To this temple the collected crowds, from miles round our Indian metropolis, pour, like a living stream of frantic bacchanals, exhibiting in their progress sights which the imagination of those who have not witnessed them could scarcely form a conception of. On this occasion they practise the most painful self-inflicted tortures; piercing their tongues and sides, and sticking in the holes heavy pieces of iron, arrows, canes, living snakes, &c. &c., with which they dance, with indecent gestures, to the obscene songs of the surrounding multitude. Mr. Ward says that, in one year, a man thrust his finger through the tongue of another, and they thus proceeded dancing with much indecency together through the streets ; and that another had his breast, arms, and other parts stuck entirely full of pins, as thick as nails or packing-needles. These acts are devotional, and are considered proofs of holiness and merit. The tortures, however, thus inflicted are temporary: but some of these religious mendicants impose
* Asiatic Journal.
upon themselves others which are of a more durable description; such as carrying the arm erect over the head, till it becomes so fixed that the miserable devotee is unable to bend it; sitting in the same manner with both the arms or legs similarly placed ; clinching the hand, and allowing the nails to grow through it to a considerable length from the back; sliding backwards and forwards on their bellies, from which position they will not stir; preserving a sitting posture, from which they never move; dwelling surrounded by fires, and beneath a scorching sun in the summer, and exposed to the rigours of the seasons in the winter. These, and many other selfinflicted tortures, may be daily witnessed in the streets of our Indian cities and their neighbourhoods, some of which are represented in figs. 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, plate 28. These wretched fanatics are covered with filth and ashes, and go entirely naked, except a small piece of cloth between the thighs, fixed round the waist with a cord.
The next is the day of the churuk, or swinging ceremony (fig. 1, plate 28). Posts, about thirty feet in height, are erected in the suburbs of a town, across the upper part of which are loosely suspended long bamboos, so as to enable them to traverse freely. To one end of the bamboo two hooks are fixed, by ropes, which are run through the fleshy parts of the back, near the shoulders. A rope is also fastened to the other end of the bamboo, which, as soon as the party who is to swing is secured to the hooks, is pulled by several men, who thus raise the other end somewhat higher than the post. They then go round with it, with considerable velocity; by which means the man at the other end describes a circle of about thirty feet in diameter. Sometimes a cloth is tied round the body and secured to the hooks, to prevent, if the flesh should be torn away, the man from being dashed to pieces; but such is frequently not the case, and the party falling is often killed upon the spot. Some of these men, while swinging, amuse themselves in smoking and in throwing fruit and flowers (which they take up on purpose) among the spectators. Mr. Ward relates a story of a man who had a monkey's collar run through his hinder parts, in which state the man and monkey whirled round together, and on another occasion, of a man who took a large log of wood in his mouth, and swung for a considerable time, without having any cloth round him to preserve him from falling. He also states, that in the year 1800, five women swung with hooks through their backs and thighs, in the neighbourhood of Calcutta. The parties sometimes swing for a considerable time, and appear to make very light of the business. A gentleman, with whom I was some years ago acquainted in Calcutta, missed, on one of these festivals, one of his bearers or palanquin carriers; and, as he was going out, left home without him. On his return he found him carrying his palanquin; and when he arrived at his home, questioned him where he had been ? The man coolly answered," he had only been performing churuk,” that is, had been swinging: and, on his master inspecting his back, the spots, pierced by the hooks, were conspicuous enough. The wounds are very simply treated. The parts are first well pressed with the flat palm of the hand, or trodden on with the sole of the foot, to cause their reunion. Clarified butter is then spread over on a leaf, and the place is bandaged : this dressing is renewed two or three times.
On the morning following the churuk Siva is worshipped in the temple, and the festival is concluded. During each day of the festival, says Mr. Ward, the Sunyasis worship the sun, pouring water, flowers, &c. &c. on a clay image of the alligator, and repeating mantras.
The consort or energy of Siva is Parvati, or Durga, &c.; the mountainborn goddess, whom I shall presently have occasion to notice. Numerous stories are related of his marriage with this goddess, and of the abuse lavished on him by her first father, Daksha ; for, having been twice born, her second was no other than the Himalaya mountain. I can discover no good reason for such ungodlike treatment, or for Daksha's ungenerous representations of him as an intoxicated Bacchanal ; except that one day, in an assembly of the gods, he did not rise up and salute him on his entrance, as a dutiful son-in-law should have done. Bacchus, however, (to whom Siva has, in some points, been compared) was occasionally represented of a drunken bloated form, wandering about almost naked, and having only a tiger's skin wrapped round his loins. But Bacchus was the god of wine, a personage not to be found in the Hindu Mythology:
although, what is extraordinary enough among a people who do not touch that beverage, they have Suradevi, the goddess of wine, and the invention of the use of it is ascribed to Bala Rama.
The filthy appearance of Siva, as a mendicant ascetic, may be ascribed to his solitary and abstracted devotional practices, for the purpose, it may be supposed, of maintaining the ascendancy which he had obtained among the gods. With all this, he appears to have gained no high character in heaven, especially for connubial fidelity; as the quarrels of him and Parvati, in consequence of his peccadilloes and her jealousy, are said to have caused as much trouble to the celestial hosts to adjust, as those of some dignified personages in this country have to many of our gentlemen of the long robe.
The Saivas have many sectarial marks : among them are, Ist, the trisula or trident, to denote the dominion of Siva over heaven, earth, and the infernal regions. This weapon is supposed to be in continual motion over the face of the earth, and instant death would attend opposition to its points (see Trisula). He is from it called the Trident-bearer. 2d, Shula, representing the same symbol. Both of these are formed of white earth on the forehead and breast. 3d, Ciakshu or tkkanna, the sacred eye (or that in the midddle of the forehead) of Siva. He is on this occasion called Trilocena, or the triple-eyed god. 4th, Agni or Ti, or fire; symbolical of the sun. 5th, Tirumana, or the holy earth : the lateral strokes of this sectarial mark are white or yellow, that in the middle red, and represents the womb of Bhavani. 6th, The tripundara, or ornament of the three stripes, which also represents Bhavani with her three sons, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. It is made with sandal-wood and ashes. 7th, The linga, painted on the neck, arms, and forehead. 8th, The crescent, painted on the forehead yellow. 9th, The same, with the puttu, or spot, of either red, white, or black. The description of these marks I have taken principally from Bartolomeo; but see farther on this subject the article Sectarial Marks, and fig. 2, plate 2.
In the Asiatic Journal of August 1829, is a description of an idol which was in the museum at Moscow, that had been obtained from the Bokharians, who had taken it in war from the Mongols. It is represented to have the figure of a man with a bull's head, which is surrounded by six grotesque human heads, and having sixteen feet and thirty-four hands. Above the seven heads rises an eighth, equally deformed, which is in its turn surmounted by another head of a very handsome character. All these heads are surrounded with flame, and decorated with necklaces of human skulls. The statue is represented as embracing a female, and holds in its hands the symbols of regeneration and destruction. Its feet also rest upon the like symbols. This idol is called Yamantaga, and is considered by the Mongols as the god of destruction. It has been imagined to be synonymous with Siya.
In a temple in the vicinity of Soongaum, on the right bank of the Sutlej, there is another extraordinary image resembling Siva, there called Dakpo. It is three yards high and has four feet, each of which is treading on a human form. It possesses six arms, with two of which it embraces a female, and in the others holds a spear, a sword, a serpent, and a skull, and has round the waist a belt of skulls.
The heaven of Siva is Mount Kailasa, on the mountain Meru, and his palace is described as being resplendent with gold and jewels. He is the regent of the North-East.
Siya had numerous names and incarnations, derived from his attributes and exploits. Among these are Mahadeo, the great god; Rudra, the destroyer; Kal, time ; Shankara ; Iswara ; Kandah Rao; Kapali; Kalu Rayu; Nilakantha, the blue-throated; and a variety of others, some of which will be noticed under their several heads.
Kartikeya is a son of Siva, produced in an extraordinary manner, without the aid of his consort, Parvati ; as was also Vira Badra. Bhairava or Bhyru is likewise his son, in his destructive form. Some make Vira Badra and Bhairava incarnations of Siva. (See Vira BADRA and BHAIRAVA, and plates 14, 15, and 16.)