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Ag 1 The Kalki or Tenth Aratar 2. Juggarnath, Subhadra and Bala -Rama,
Publwhed by Fartury, allen of C°London 1832.
of Suraswati, Sir William Jones has compared him to Bacchus, the inventor of the use of wine. There would not appear to be any incident for which he is individually famed, except the above-mentioned, and that of having married one of the most beautiful old maids of ancient times, of a standard somewhat above the usual size; his wife, Revati, having been, “ at the time of her marriage, 3,888,000 years of age, and so tall, that her stature reached as high as the hands clapped seven times could be heard."* I have not learnt how he managed in respect to her age; but he is said to have taken a very ingenious method, which I would seriously recommend to the modellers of high-shouldered young ladies, of reducing her inconvenient height to one more agreeable to his taste; by fixing an enormous ploughshare, which this delicate damsel herself used, to her shoulders. Bala Rama is represented with Juggarnath and Subhadra, in fig. 2, plate 13. Why he and the lady should also be without arms and legs, I am unacquainted.
Since gods, as well as men, must, it would appear, die some time or other, the love-inspiring Krishna was one day shot with an arrow from the bow of a hunter, who most unceremoniously left the lovely form of the deity, whom the Gopias had so franticly adored, to rot under the tree where it fell. After some time his bones, like those of the beautiful Rosalia in Sicily, were collected by some pious persons, and made the pious means of enriching the priests of the Hindus, as the more tender ones of the virgin saint have done the reverend fathers of Palermo. Having been collected they were placed in a box, where they remained till Vishnu, on being applied to by a religious monarch, Indra Dhoomna, commanded him to make an image of Juggarnat’h and place the bones in it. The king would willingly have done as he was desired, but unfortunately possessed not the skill for such an undertaking: so he made bold to ask Vishnu, who should make it? Vishnu told him to apply to Viswakarma, the architect of the gods. He did so, and as promptly as our great architect, Mr. Nash, would
undertake the building of a palace, his brother of the Hindu pantheon set about forming the image of Juggarnath; but declared, if any person disturbed him in his labours, he would leave his work unfinished. All would have gone on well, had not the king shewn a reprehensible impatience to those divine injunctions which he had solemnly pledged himself to observe. After fifteen days he went to see what progress the holy architect had made; which so enraged him that he desisted from his labours, and left the intended god without either arms or legs. In spite, however, of this perplexing event, the work of Viswakarma has become celebrated throughout Hindustan; and pilgrims from the remotest corners of India flock, at the time of the festivals of Juggarnath, to pay their adoration at his monstrous and unhallowed shrine. Some years ago I took some brief extracts from a work which I was then reading (the name of which I, at present, forget, but I think it was a book of the Rev. – Buchanan's), which will give a faint idea of the dreadful orgies and horrid abominations practised upon these occasions.
“We know that we are approaching Juggarnath (and we are more than fifty miles from it) by the human bones which we have seen for some days strewed by the way. At this place we have been joined by several large bodies of pilgrims, perhaps two thousand in number, who have come from various parts of northern India. Some old persons are among them, who wish to die at Juggarnat'h. Numbers of pilgrims die on the road, and their bodies generally remain unburied. On a plain by the river, near the pilgrim's caravansera at this place, there are more than a hundred skulls. The dogs, jackalls, and vultures, seem to live here on human prey.”—“I have seen Juggarnath. The scene at Buddruch is but the vestibule to Juggarnat’h. No record of ancient history can give, I think, an adequate idea of this valley of death : it may be truly compared with the valley of Hinnom! I have also visited the sand plains by the sea, in some places whitened with the bones of the pilgrims; and another place, a little way out of the town, called by the English Golgotha, where the dead bodies are usually cast forth, and where the dogs and vultures are ever seen.”—“I have beheld another distressing scene this morning, at the place of skulls : a poor woman lying dead, or nearly dead, and her two children by her, looking at the dogs and vultures which were near. The people passed without noticing the children. I asked them where was their home. They said they had no home but where their mother was.”—“The raja of Burdwan, Kurta Chanda, expended, it is said, twelve lacks of rupees in a journey to Juggarnat'h and in bribing the Brahmans to permit him to see these bones. For the sight of them he paid two. lacks of rupees; but he died two months afterwards (adds the writer) for his temerity.”
On the occasion of the festivals of this idol he is accompanied by his brother, Bala Rama, and his sister, Subhadrá, and is conveyed to a place about a mile from the temple. His throne, on which he is seated, is fixed on á stupendous car sixty feet in height, the enormous weight of which, as it passes slowly along, deeply furrows the ground over which it rolls. Immense cables are attached to it, by which it is drawn along by thousands of men, women, and even infants ; as it is considered an act of acceptable devotion to assist in urging forward this horrible machine, on which, round the throne of the idol, are upwards of a hundred of his priests and their attendants. As the pondrous car rolls on, some of the devotees and worshippers of the idol throw themselves under the wheels, and are crushed to death; and numbers lose their lives by the pressure of the crowd. A letter from an eye-witness at Juggarnat’h, on the 25th June 1814, published in the Asiatic Journal, states, “the sights here beggar all description. Though Juggarnat’h made some progress on the 19th, and has travelled daily ever since, he has not yet reached the place of his destination. His brother is ahead of him, and the lady in the rear. One woman has devoted herself under the wheels, and a shocking sight it was. Another intending also to devote herself, missed the wheels with her body, and had her arm broken. Three people lost their lives in the crowd.
“ The place swarms with Fakeers and mendicants, whose devices to attract attention are, in many instances, ingenious. You see some standing for half the day on their heads, bawling all the while for alms ; some having their eyes filled with mud and their mouths with straw; some lying in puddles of water; one man with his foot tied to his neck, another
with a pot of fire on his belly, and a third inveloped in a net-work made of rope.”
It is said that between two and three thousand persons lose their lives annually on their pilgrimage to Juggarnat'h.. The temples of this deity being the resort of all the sects of the Hindus it is calculated that not less than two hundred thousand worshippers visit the celebrated pagoda in Orissa yearly, from which the Brahmans draw an immense revenue. All the land within twenty miles round the pagoda is considered holy; but the most sacred spot is an area of about six hundred and fifty feet square, which contains fifty temples. The most conspicuous of these is a lofty tower, about one hundred and eighty-four feet in height, and about twenty-eight feet square inside, called the Bur Dewali, in which the idol, and his brother and sister, Subhadra, are lodged. Adjoining are two pyramidical buildings. In one, about forty feet square, the idol is worshipped; and in the other, the food prepared for the pilgrims is distributed. These buildings were erected in A.D. 1198. The walls are covered with statues, many of which are in highly indecent postures. The grand entrance is on the eastern side; and close to the outer wall stands an elegant stone column, thirty-five feet in height, the shaft of which is formed of a single block of basalt, presenting sixteen sides. The pedestal is richly ornamented. The column is surrounded by a finely-sculptured statue of our former acquaintance, Hanuman, the monkey-chief of the Ramayana, The establishment of priests and others belonging to the temple has been stated to consist of three thousand nine hundred families, for whom the daily provision is enormous. The holy food is presented to the idol three times a day. His meal lasts about an hour, during which time the dancing girls* belonging to the temple exhibit their professional skill in an adjoining building. Twelve festivals are celebrated during the year, the principal of which, the Rat’h Jattra, has been described.
Juggarnath is styled the Lord of the World. His temples, which are also numerous in Bengal, are, as before shewn, of a pyramidical form. During the intervals of worship they are shut up.
* Vide Deva-dasi, in the third part of this volume.