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The image of this god is made of a block wood, and has a frightful visage with a distended mouth. His arms, which, as he was formed without any, have been given to him by the priests, are of gold. He is gorgeously dressed, as are also the other two idols which accompany him. In fig. 2, plate 13, from a compartment in the temple of Rama, he is represented in company with Bala Rama and Subhadra, without arms or legs.
It is to be hoped that the worship of this fascinating deity is on the decline, as a Calcutta paper a short time ago stated that, from various causes, the number of pilgrims had so considerably decreased, that enough could not be found to drag the rat'hs, or cars, and that not a single devotee had that year paved the way with his blood; though, it adds, “the sight on the opening of the gates for the admission of pilgrims would have melted the heart of a savage. Numbers of expiring wretches were carried in, that they might die at the polluted and horrid shrine.” At a more recent period, one of his temples was robbed of silver ornaments of the value of five thousand rupees. The seapoys enjoyed the joke, saying “ he must have robbed himself, as he would have struck any person blind who had attempted to take away any ornaments of his or his sister, or of Bulbudder (Bala Rama)."
Is one of the minor incarnations of Vishnu. This avatar, according to Major Moor, in whose work it is particularized, would appear to have been, like some of the other minor avatars of the Hindu deities, of a circumscribed worship, and not of a very ancient date. It seems to have occurred at Pandipur, about eighty miles south of Poona, in which town a magnificent temple has been dedicated to Vishnu, under the name of Wittoba. The images of him and his two wives, Rukmini and Satyavhama (the names also of the wives of Krishna), have commonly a rude and modern appearance,* and represent them standing with their arms akimbo : on which the gentleman before mentioned has observed, that the Jainas represent the world by the figure of a woman in that position ; “her waist being the earth, the superior portion of her body the abode of the gods, and the inferior part the infernal regions.”
* The sculptures and paintings of the modern Hindus possess much beauty and richness of colouring, intermixed with gold, laid on in a manner peculiar to these people, of which art the Europeans are, I believe, ignorant; but these paintings are devoid of perspective, and the sculptures are as clumsy as those of greater antiquity are generally fine.
Major Moor thus relates the history of this avatar :-“ A Brahman, named Pundelly, was travelling on a pilgrimage from the Dekhan to Benares, with his wife, father, and mother. His neglect of the two latter caused them many vexations on the journey, for he would sometimes ride with his wife and leave them to walk, &c. Arriving at Panderpur, they took up their abode in a Brahman's house for the evening and night; during which Pundelly noticed, with some self-abasement, many acts of filial piety and kindness on the part of his host toward his parents, who, with his wife, composed the hospitable family. Early in the morning, Pundelly observed three elegant females, attired in white and richly decorated, performing the several duties of sweeping his host's house and putting it in order, filling water, arranging the vessels for cooking, sanctifying the eating place by plastering it with cow-dung, &c. Astonished at the sight, he proceeded to inquire who these industrious strangers were, he not having seen overnight any such persons of the family ; but his inquiries were received with repulsive indignation by the beauteous damsels, who forbade him, 'a chandala, an ungrateful and undutiful son,' to approach or converse with them. Pundelly, humbling himself, solicited to know their names, &c., and learned they were named Gunga, Yamuna, and Saraswati, and immediately recognized the triad of river goddesses (see fig. 1, plate 23). More and more astonished, he, after prostration, inquired how it could be that such divine personages, in propitiation of whose favour he with his family, among thousands of others, undertook long and painful pilgrimages, should descend to the menial occupations he had witnessed ? After reproaching him for his undutiful conduct, they replied to this effect :-'You have witnessed the filial and dutiful affection of the heads of this family to their aged and helpless parents; for them they seem solely to live, and for them they find delight in toiling; they seek no pleasures abroad, nor do they deem it necessary to undertake pilgrimages, which, holy as they may
be, are nevertheless of no avail, unless earlier duties have been attended to. Bad men, especially those who neglect their first duties to their parents, to whom all duties are owing, may pass their whole lives in pilgrimages and prayer without benefit to their souls. On the contrary, with those who are piously performing those primary duties, the outward ceremonies of religion are of secondary and inferior moment; and even deities, as you have witnessed, minister to their comforts and conveniences. He who serves his parents, serves his God through them. Struck with remorse at the rebuke, Pundelly resolved amendment; and dropping his intended pilgrimage, remained at Panderpur, and for a series of years acted in a most exemplary manner towards his parents, exceeding even in attention and duty the pattern of his former hosts, insomuch, that Vishnu inspired him with a portion of his divinity, and he now assumed the name of Wittoba.”
GARUDA or GURURA.
This demi-god, with the head and wings of a bird, and the body, legs, and arms of a man, will be found of considerable importance in Hindu mythology. He is the son of Kasyapa and Vinata, the brother of Arun, and the vahan or vehicle of Vishnu,
“When high on eagle plumes he rides."
As Arun, the charioteer of Surya (the sun), is the dawn, the harbinger of day, so does Garuda, the younger brother, follow as its perfect light. He is the emblem of strength and swiftness, and besides being the bearer of the omnipotent Vishnu, is greatly distinguished in Hindu legends on many very important occasions.
His complicated endowments of person may be readily accounted for, by the extraordinary manner in which, as those legends inform us, he was ushered into the world. It appears that, for some good purpose or other, his mother, Vinata, laid an egg; which must have been of a marvellous size, as it required five hundred years to hatch from it the bird of the imperial Vishnu. Whether the good lady and her husband sate upon it during that period is not, as I am aware of, shewn. Be that as it may, we are told that his shell was no sooner broken, than his body became so large as to reach the heaven of the gods; which so alarmed them, that they instantly ran to complain to Agni, believing that Garuda, the rays of whose wings had set the world on fire, could be no other than an incarnation of the regent of that all-powerful element. .
The images of Garuda are set up and worshipped with those of Vishnu, in the temples dedicated to that deity. Sculptured images of him are also found in the magnificent cavern temples of Elephanta, Ellora, &c. &c. In the last-mentioned excavation he is seen in several places, accompanying Parvati, the consort of Siva. This we need not be surprised at, for in spite of the alarm which at his birth he caused to the gods and goddesses, he appears to have been, on all occasions, a ready champion and a useful character when required by any of these deities. He was of great service to Krishna, in his numerous encounters with the giants and datyas; as well as to Rama, in his contest with Ravan, by swallowing the serpent arrows of the latter, without which he would not have been able to have overcome that monster.
In some representations of him, he is described as being the gigantic crane of India, in which he would be the natural enemy of serpents. Mythology gives another, but I fear not a better reason for this antipathy; namely, a quarrel between his mother and that of the mother of those reptiles, on some celestial matter: on which occasion Garuda obtained from Vishnu permission to kill all the serpents he could meet with. It was this sanction which enabled him to assist so essentially the two deities just mentioned ; as he was useful, in the same manner, to Krishna as to Rama, in clearing the countries conquered by that deity, not only of those venomous enemies, but of others of greater importance who assumed their forms.
By some Garuda has been called the Pondicherry or Malabar eagle, or the Brahmani kite of Bengal. This, as well as the adjutant, or crane, is a highly useful bird in India, in clearing away filth and carrion from the streets of the populous towns. The adjutant is a very voracious bird, and will swallow at a mouthful, without difficulty, a Bengal leg of mutton. The Brahmini kites are equally voracious and more audacious, as it is not an uncommon occurrence for them to snatch poultry, or a joint of meat, if it happen to be uncovered, from a dish, as a servant is bringing it from the culinary offices to the table. Both these birds are destructive to snakes.
Garuda has many names. He is called Superna, from the beauty of his plumage, which in the pictures of him is of the rich colours of blue, red, and green, embellished with the variety of gems which usually adorn the Hindu deities. He is also termed Nag-antara, or the enemy of serpents ; Vishnu-rat'ha, or the vahan of Vishnu, &c. &c. · Fig. 4, plate 4, from an ancient sculpture, represents Garuda in the act of prayer. He is furnished with wings, and has a human face, with a hooked nose of remarkable length. His hair is turned up in the front and formed into a club behind, not unlike the pictures of a petit maitre of the early part of the last century.
Fig. 5, in the same plate, from the temple of Rama, is Vishnu riding on the shoulders of Garuda, who has outstretched wings (although apparently running), with a head more resembling that of a bird than in the other figure.
Of this extraordinary simian demi-god I shall have occasion to say very little ; but, after the gallant exploits which are related of him in the life of Rama, I cannot allow myself to pass over altogether in silence, this god of enterprise and attack. The common herd of beings may sink into oblivion in their graves, scarcely known in life, and wholly forgotten in death; but the illustrious conqueror cannot be so easily disposed of. Time, which destroys the most splendid fabricks of human genius, venerates that sacred and undying monument of glory, the historic page, which records the hero's deeds, and renders his renown as imperishable as itself. At all events, whatever fate may attend these humble pages, we now learn from that unerring source, that Hanuman could only claim alliance to the monkey race, through his mother, Unjuna, who was a dignified female monkey of