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SECTARIAL MARKS.—AUSTERITIES AND PUNISHMENTS.
marked with the chuckra (or wheel) on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and sometimes with a lozenge on the breast.
According to Bartolomeo, the two marks under No. 10 denote the medhra or womb of Bhavani, and are used by the two sects of Siva and Vishnu. The same author describes, No. 36, the villa or bow, as the mark of Rama; but I do not recollect to have elsewhere seen it.
AUSTERITIES and PUNISHMENTS.
The Hindus subject themselves to more devotional austerities, penances, and mortifications, some of which are of a temporary and others of a permanent character, than, perhaps, any people in the world. The punishments which they have prescribed for themselves in a future state I have already noticed, in my account of Yama, the Hindu Pluto, in page 113, of which representations are given in plate 28. In my account of Siva, I have also described, in page 67 and following pages, and shewn in the plate just mentioned, some of the self-inflicted penances, tortures, and mortifications, to which this extraordinary people frequently devote themselves. I have, however, yet to notice the tapass, or propitiatory austerities, practised to obtain the more especial divine favour and blessings of the gods. This consists in standing on one toe, the shin of the same leg having the heel of the other foot resting upon it. The arms are at the same time raised over the head; and the eyes must, during the day, be constantly gazing upon the sun. See fig. 4, plate 28; and fig. 8, plate 26. The latter represents Arjun, one of the Panda brothers, performing tapass to propitiate Vishnu, in order to obtain from him a celestial weapon, to enable him and his brothers to reconquer their patrimonial dominions, of which they had been unjustly dispossessed.
In the performance of the tapass the prescribed acts of devotion are termed mana, or the devotion that proceeds from the heart in profound silence ; vault, or devotion audibly pronounced; neyana, or devotion accompanied by religious ceremonies, purifications, &c. Arjun, in the performace of his tapass, took food, during the first month of his austerities, only once
in four days; during the second month, once in seven days; during the third, once in a fortnight; and during the fourth month he subsisted alone on, what he was no doubt liberally supplied with on one of the loftiest peaks of the gigantic Himalaya,—air; resting all the time, as represented in the plate, on the tip of his great toe.
In the articles Siva, Yama, and The Pandus, and in the plates beforementioned, the subject will be found more particularly noticed.
Among the many abominations which stain the practice of the Hindu religion, that of the suttee, with the no less barbarous practice of infanticide, are of the greatest. Many, and very strenuous, attempts have been made by the governments of India to abolish the latter, with (as will be seen under the article infanticide) very limited success; for, although the tribes, among whom it prevailed, promised much to the humane interceders for infant preservation, and for a time partially kept the word of promise to the sense, they soon returned to their former cruelties; and infanticide, at the present day, is, it may be feared, almost as much practised as ever.
In respect of suttees, or female immolation on the funeral pile of a deceased husband, it is gratifying to be enabled to withdraw the melancholy veil, and display a brighter and more cheering prospect. The humane exertions of the Indian governments have, at length, commenced upon, and it may be hoped, will consummate, what for a longtime was considered could not be attempted without a daring invasion of the religious principles and privileges of the Hindus (which we had pledged ourselves not to intermeddle with), and a consequent hazard to the foundation upon which the security of our eastern possessions rests. Its positive abolition, by the means of legal prohibitory enactments, has been lately notified; but against this benevolent and most laudable measure powerful opposition has been made by many wealthy and influential Hindus. Aided, however, by the diffusion of knowledge among the more enlightened of others of them, it is to be trusted that this decided and humane interference will soon be attended with all the success which can be desired for it, and which it so eminently and manifestly deserves.
It must not be imagined that the Brahmans have legally possessed the means of dragging the devoted victim to the pile, by any other chains than those of superstition. Although the Sliasters recommend, and contain regulations for the practise of the rite, the sacred ordinances not only do not expressly, as some have supposed, enjoin it, but distinctly point out in what manner a woman, after the decease of her husband, shall be taken care of; and leave it optional with her, either to burn herself, or live a future life of chastity and respectability. If, they say, after marriage her (the woman's) husband shall die, her husband's relations; or, in default thereof, her father s; or, if there be none of either, the magistrate, shall take care of her: and, in every stage of life, if the person who has been allotted to take care of a woman do not take care of her, each in his respective stage, the magistrate shall fine them. The ordinance, nevertheless adds, that it is proper for a woman to burn herself with the corpse of her husband; in which case she will live with him in paradise three crore and fifty lacks, or thirty-five millions of years. If she cannot burn she must observe an inviolable chastity. If she remain always chaste she will go to paradise; if not, she will go to hell. A woman usually declares her determination to become suttee during the dying moments of her husband: having once declared it, she is seldom induced to alter it. She may, however, do so if she pleases, as it is stated, "if the woman, regretting life, recede from the pile, she is defiled; but may be purified by observing the fast called Prajapatya. This fast, according to Mr. Colebrooke, extends to twelve days. The first three she may take a spare meal; the next three, one on each night; the succeeding three days nothing may be eaten, but what is given unsolicited; and the last three days are a rigid fast. There are various disqualifications against the performance of suttee, such as a woman being pregnant, having an infant child, &c, &c.
The main crime of the Brahmans then has been the fabrication, from these flimsy materials, of the soul-enfeebling chain of superstition, and decking