Изображения страниц

are frequently met with in Hindu mythology and history, I shall endeavour to describe them as briefly as possible. On Pandu's death, Duryodhana (in consequence of his father's incapacity from blindness) assumed the rod of empire, proclaiming the illegitimacy of the five Pandus. Intestine broils followed, and the brothers were proscribed during the term of twelve years. Accompanied by their Heracula relations, Heri and Baldiva, they perambulated every part of India, leaving behind them those monuments of glory and magnificence which are still ascribed to them.

In those primitive days, beauty (in India, as once was in Europe) became the prize of valour. That of Arjun, the most celebrated of the brothers, gained him the hand of Drupdevi, the daughter of the king of Panchalica, who, according to certain Hindu customs, which are known to prevail at the present day in some parts of India, became also the wife of the five brothers.

They returned with their wife to Hastinapoor, the capital of Dhertrashtra's dominions, but were again expelled by Duryodhana. "They then travelled to the south, and were (adds Colonel Tod) long indebted to the deep forests of Verat and Herimba for security, suffering every privation, and encountering manifold dangers from the savage beasts, and no less savage men who peopled these wilds. The remembrance of these varied adventures is yet cherished in these intricate and interesting regions, through which I have traced their wandering, and listened with delight to the recital of their adventures. To that of Bhima with the giant daughter of Herimba; or the exploits of Heri with the demon of Toolisham. I have gazed with interest on the refreshing cascade issuing from the fissure of the bleak rock, rent by the club of Baldiva to assuage the thirst of the mother of the Pandus; and partaken of the sorrow of the narrator, as, seated on the margin of the lotus fountain, he related, on the spot where it happened, the martyrdom of Heri by the forester Bhil. These are the scenes which excite the Hindu, whether the proud Rajpoot, the humble peasant, or the man of wealth; and you must see them and converse with them, under the influence of such impressions, to understand the moral effect upon their lives and character."

After having performed numerous acts of valour, in grateful return for the protection which was afforded to them in the various countries through which they passed, the Pandus, at length, when the term of their exile was expired, returned to demand a participation in their birthright; but were contemptuously told by Duryodhana that they should not have so much of the soil as would cover the point of a needle. They then determined to conquer what injustice denied them.

A desperate conflict ensued in the extensive plains of the Caggar and Suraswati, between the rival clans of the Curus and Pandus, assisted by the fifty-six Yadhu tribes. With which party the victory remained is not expressly stated: but it may be collected that for a time it was with the Pandus, but that eventually they were unsuccessful; as Colonel Tod states, "After the grand war, in which the Yadhu confederation was broken up, the Pandus, with Heri and Baldiva, abandoned their dominions on the Yamuna for Saurashtra. Here, in their ancient haunts, they remained some time: but if we judge from the traditional accounts of Heri's assassination, and Arjun's being despoiled even of his bow by the original races, they must have lost all their power." In the end, Yudishtra and Baldiva are supposed to have abandoned India, and to have perished with their followers in an attempt to cross the snowy mountains of Himachel. The son of Arjun succeeded to the throne of Indraprestha, or Dehli, which Yudishtra had abandoned. The sons of Heri fixed themselves in various parts of India; but what became of Arjun or Bhima does not, in this account, appear.

Colonel Tod concludes, that in Baldiva he has discovered the origin of the Theban Hercules, and that the exploits of the Pandus have furnished the Greeks with the ground-work of the actions which they have ascribed to him.

Arjun is celebrated for the tapass that he performed to obtain the celestial arrow, pausuputt astrum, which was to enable the brothers to overcome their powerful and vindictive enemies, the Curus. In the appendix to Mrs. Graham's pleasing Journal of a Residence in India, is an extract from the Mahabarat, giving a different version of the expulsion of the Pandus from their country. The account already given may be considered as traditional, the other is mythological: and as it contains a description of this celebrated tapass, I shall briefly abstract it.

The brothers are here made to have lost their kingdom by play to Duryodana, who, in consequence, obliged them to retire into banishment for twelve years, which they did with a train of five thousand Yogees. Rajah Dhurm, or Dbermaraja, is here made the eldest of the five brothers, instead of the father of Yudishtra. Having reached the forest of DurtaVanum, they consulted together in what manner they should avenge themselves on their powerful enemy, whom they imagined had outwitted them by guile and stratagem, as soon as their term of banishment had expired; and resolved to send Arjun, whose fortitude and valour was distinguished among the five valiant brethren, to the mountain of Indra Keeladree, to perform vogra tapasa, the most austere species of penance. After due preparation, and having met numerous demons and holy prophets, and being fanned by the god Vayu on his journey, he passed the forest of the Himalaya mountain, and reached the lofty and celebrated one of Indra Keeladree.

Before, however, he could commence his tapass, he had, like Saint Anthony, various temptations to undergo to try his piety and fortitude; all of which he heroically resisted. He then ascended to the highest summit of Himalaya Purvut, "where he found a delightful grove, abounding in lofty trees and fragrant shrubs, producing various fruits and flowers, watered by pleasant pools, by sarovaras and purest streams, whereon the lovely kamalas, the water-lily of purest white, and the calahara of deepest tinge, displayed their brightest hues: and while the celestial Hamsa swam before his eyes, and the pleasant strains of celestial music reached his ears, the sweet odours of fragrant heavenly flowers and shrubs delighted his smelling organs and filled him with admiration. He then commenced his devotions to the almighty Param-Eswar in the three prescribed modes of Mana, Vauk, and Neyama, standing all the time on the tip of his great toe. (See Austerities and Punishments, also fig. 4, plate 28, and fig. 8, plate 26.)

The Rishees, who beheld Arjun, reported to Param-Eswar* the severity

* Here Siva appears to be Param-Eswar, or Iswari. of his penance, who determined to try his fortitude himself. He assumed a mortal form, and, in the character of a king of the Keratas, pursued a wild boar (the shape of which he had commanded an evil spirit to assume to terrify Arjun) to the spot where the hero stood. Seeing Arjun preparing to discharge an arrow at the beast, he called out to him imperiously not to shoot or kill his game. Arjun, however, discharged his shaft; the king at the same moment shot his, and the animal, struck by both, fell lifeless to the ground. The king on this contrived to provoke a quarrel, that led to a wrestling match between the god and the hero, which terminated by their coming together to the ground.

Param-Eswar, like a generous and noble foe, admired the valour, as he had previously done the piety of his competitor, and assuming his own form, said to him: "O, Arjun! I am well satisfied with your sincere devotion, your valour, and your fortitude, and shall bestow all your wishes." He finally blessed him, to conquer the whole world, with the celestial weapon, the pausuputt arrow, which he gave him, and instructed him in the use of; telling him its virtues were mysterious, and unknown even to Indra, Kuvera, Varuna, or Yama, and then disappeared.

That there is nothing like standing well with the highest, Arjun experienced on this occasion; for no sooner had Param-Eswar gave him his tremendous weapon than the whole host of heaven came and welcomed him; and the regents of the various quarters of the world, when they found he had no occasion for them, came likewise, and offered him their celestial weapons. Indra, his divine Indrastrum; Agni, his fiery arrow; Yama, his death-disposing club, &c, &c.

Among the ancient temples and sculptures in the neighbourhood of Mahaballiporam is a rock, on the face of which are sculptured more than a hundred figures of gods, men, and animals, some as large as life, and others much larger, illustrative of this tapass. Arjun is here represented standing near the centre of the rock, as in fig. 8, plate 26, with Param-Eswar, of a gigantic size, by the side of him.


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

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »