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he would die or she should. Unable to persuade her, the son and others present then tied her hands and feet, and threw her on the funeral pile, when she quickly perished.”
We have here two opposite pictures of this abominable rite; but both equally faithful, and equally tending to the same melancholy result. We have, therefore, only to hope that the humane interference of the Indian Government will not be exercised in vain. Certain, I think, we may be, that all which can with safety be done will be done. But let not the ardent and benevolent advocates of this measure, as well as for the suppression of infanticide, and of the other infatuations and horrid practices of the Hindus, untimely press them with too great a degree of fervour, lest their zeal should kindle a flame no less dreadful in its operations, and more extensive in its consequences, than that of the funeral pile. Temper, perseverance, firmness, and a gradual and judicious diffusion of knowledge, will be the wisest, as well as the safest weapons, with which we can combat all opposition to the destruction of this monstrous heap of the abominations of priestcraft, feudal pride, and superstition. If, which heaven forbid, we should determine to crush, summarily, those monstrous practices by other means, we should, in all probability, only rivet firmer chains which we would seek to break, and perpetuate evils, which prudence and judgment might convert into blessings that would encircle the name of Britain with a brighter halo than all the splendour of her power, or the glory of her conquests and renown.
As regards the Suttee, under the Mahomedan government, a Hindu woman was not allowed to burn herself without an official order of leave ; and under our own, the same practice has been observed, but with, I believe, still stronger restrictions. To withhold permission has been by both (till lately, as before-mentioned, by us) considered dangerous; as it has been imagined that an act of that nature would be deemed by the Hindus an atrocious and outrageous violation of their most sacred rites and privileges. The attempt has, however, now, for the first time, been made, not only to disallow, but peremptorily to suppress the rite. It need only be
added, that the prayers of the good and wise of every nation and every faith must attend it for success.
Among the Jarejahs, women of rank seldom burn on the funeral pile of deceased husbands. This rite is left to their rackelis or mistresses,' several of whom sometimes perform suttee with the body of their lord.
Under the head of the funeral pile may be noticed a johárá, or grand funeral pyre, on which the whole are consumed. Major Tod, in the Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society, illustrates it in the following interesting anecdote.
“ Hammít Chahamana, prince of Rin-tham-bhor, gave asylum to a noble of the great Allá-uddín, when disgraced by his sovereign, who assumed the name of Sikander Sáni, or Second Alexander, and who
surrender his supplicant, Hammír thus gives him assurance of protection :
The sun will rise in the west; the sandal-tree be changed into the thorny thúr; the streams will cease to flow ; Suméru* become level with the earth; the pledge of Parasu-rama be a bye-word, ere Hammír fails in his faith. The walls of Rin-tham-bhór shall fall, and my head be crushed in their ruin ; but, till these things occur, security is thine.' Hammír did fall in defending his guest. On which occasion the grand sacrifice of the johara was performed, when all the females were immolated, and the males rushed on the destruction which they could not avert.”
LINGA and YONI.
The Linga is the symbol of the regenerator Siva, synonymous with, but divested of the gross appearance of, the Phallic emblem of the Greeks, worshipped by the Saivas.
Of the origin of the mystic worship of the Linga and the Yoni little appears to be understood. It may be presumed to have been nature, under the male and female forms, personified; as Siva, the sun (which he is equally with Surya) or fire, the genial heat which pervades, generates, and vivifies all; and Bhavani, who as the goddess of nature is also the earth, the universal mother. These two active principles of life having been thus personified, may have been subsequently converted by the grossness of idolatry (which, in its progress, invariably seeks rather to gratify the sensual appetites than to instruct the minds of its votaries) from imaginary forms to realities; from the personified symbols of nature, to typical representations of the procreative powers of these symbols themselves.
* The mountain Meru.
In the sculptures which I shall presently describe, and I have noticed the same in others, it will be seen that a sun surmounts one of the Lingas ; which must evince a clear indication of the more decorous and respectable allusion : to account for the other in popular practice, we need only recall to our recollection that the Hindu religion is one thing in that practice, and another as understood by the learned Brahmans.
Perforated rocks are considered as emblems of the Yoni, through which pilgrims and other persons pass for the purpose of being regenerated. The utmost faith is placed in this sin-expelling transit.
Fig. 1, plate 33, is a four-headed Linga of white marble on a stand of the same, surrounded by Parvati, Durga, Ganesha, and the Bull Nandi, in adoration. The size of the stand or table is about two feet square, and the whole is richly painted and gilt. On the crown of the Linga is a refulgent sun.
Fig. 2, is a Panch Muckti or five-headed Linga, of basalt, in which the fifth head rises above the other four, surmounted by the hooded snake. Each of the heads has also a snake wreathed around it, as well as round the Argha. The Bull Nandi is kneeling in adoration before the spout of the Yoni.
Fig. 3, is a plain Linga similar to those commonly used.
The places of Linga worship are numerous : the principal Lingas are called the Jyolisha Lingas, the worship of which is considered the most sacred, in consequence of Siva having appeared on the spots where they are set up.
The Yoni is the symbol of female energy, worshipped by the sect of the Sactis; and, in conjunction with the Linga, by the Saivas. It is the especial emblem of Parvati. In representations of the Linga, it forms the rim or edge of the Argha, which encircles it. (See fig. 1, 2, 3, plate 33.)
These stones are sacred to Vishnu, and are valued according to the perforations and spiral curves in each, as they are thereby supposed to contain Vishnu and Lakshmi in their different characters. Of those which I have seen, some are as large as a pigeon's egg, others about the size of a musketball, and much resembling an old one of iron of the latter, here and there indented. They are supposed by some to be the ætiles or eagle stones of the ancients. The principal sorts are the Lakshmi Narayani (which, according to Mr. Colebrooke, must be perforated in one place only, and have four spiral curves in the perforation, with marks resembling a cow's foot, and a wreath of flowers, which is supposed to contain Lakshmi as Narayani), the Vamuna, the Dumodura, the Narsingha, &c. &c., some denote the gracious, and others the vindictive incarnations of Vishnu. The former are much valued. Mr. Ward states, that the Lakshmi Narayani is sometimes sold for as much as two thousand rupees.
These stones are said to be found in the Gandak river, in the Nepaul territories, and are conjectured to be perforated by worms; but are, in all probability, so formed by accidental circumstances like any other descriptions of stones so worn. The Hindus, however, believe that Vishnu himself, in the form of a reptile, perforated them.*
* Since writing the foregoing, I have observed in an account of the meeting of the Asiatic Society of Calcutta in October 1830, a notice of a letter from the enterprising Dr. Gerard of Soobathoo, who had discovered in a lofty position (15,000 feet) of the Himalaya range, an extensive fossil tract of shell formation ; of which he describes four classes, and of the fourth thus writes : “ Belemnites and Orthoceratites mineralized by the same material as the Ammonites (iron clay and pyrites). Their abundance in the beds of mountain torrents, especially the Gundak, had been long known, as they form an indispensable article in the sacra of the Hindu Thakoordwaree, under the name of Salagrama.” This agrees with Sonnerat, who calls them a petrified shell.
The Salagrama is worshipped daily by the Brahmans, and is used in the several Hindu ceremonies of Sradha, &c. One should be always placed near the bed of a dying person, and the marks on it shewn to him. This is believed to secure his soul an introduction to the heaven of Vishnu.
The Binlang stones, which are found in the Nerbuddah river, are also worshipped as emblems of Siva.
To the earlier, as well as to the more recently known nations of the world, this crime has been familiar. The Greeks exposed their children on the highways to perish of hunger, or to be devoured by beasts of prey, and had their barbarous practice sanctioned by some of their most celebrated lawgivers. Among the Romans the custom of infanticide also prevailed; as it did, on the first discovery of America, with the savage tribes of that
tinent. When Captain Wallis visited Otaheite and the neighbouring islands in the South Sea, the practice was unhesitatingly avowed by the lascivious Eareeoie societies in these islands. Among the Canaanites, the Phenicians, and the Carthagenians, the sacrifice of children was prescribed as a propitiation to their sanguinary deities Moloch and Kronos. In China, and also in Japan, infant murder is at the present time prevalent; as it is, in a much greater degree, among the Rajpoot tribes of Hindustan.
The causes of practices so opposed to the most powerful feelings of our nature, and in utter discordance with that tender instinct which prompts even the most timid of sentient animals of the brute creation to protect their young, at the hazard, and frequently at the sacrifice of their own existence, have been, among the people whom I have enumerated, various ;-a sterile country, a superabundant population, superstition, avarice, lasciviousness, and lastly, as with the Rajpoot tribes of India, feudal pride, and an unshaken and resolute preference of death to what, in their estimation, would be dishonour.
It has been observed in other pages of this work, that the Hindus are divided into four great tribes : the Brahmans, the Khetries, the Vaisyas, and