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wonderful lactescent celebrity, for on being told of the astonishing feats of her son, she, in derision (it may be presumed, that such insignificant mole hills should be turned into mighty mountains) pressed a little milk from her breast, which, like an overwhelming Himalaya torrent, swept down in its course whole regions of ghauts * which were, as Hindu legends relate, thus destroyed by this milky stream. The father of Hanuman was Pavana, the god of the winds; so that we find this celebrated opponent of Ravan is, by no means, to be compared to some chieftains of the present day, whose lofty flights of heroism have commenced from aeries of a very uncertain and doubtful character. It is at all events unquestionable, that the hero of my present biography was of no common origin; though some accounts make it different from that which I have just related, in which Pavana is made to play a very subordinate part. In these, Hanuman is represented as an incarnation of Mahadeo, and his mother as a married female Brahman, with the posterior appendages of a monkey. This lady, who could not become "as women wish to be who love their lords," performed austerities in honour of Mahadeo to procure that desirable object. Through the means of a charmed cake (that had been stolen by a kite from another female in a similar perdicament, just as she was about to taste it), which was conveyed to her by the order of Pavana, and of which she ate, the boon prayed for was obtained by the birth of Hanuman. The simian hero had no sooner entered the world than he displayed proofs of the aspiring mind, which afterwards led him to accomplish the deeds of renown that I have mentioned in the seventh avatar; for the first object of his mighty fancy was no other than the rising sun, which, as he made a spring from his mother's arms to possess himself of it, so frightened Surya, that he sat off, with Hunuman at his heels, to the heaven of Indra, who instantly launched a thunderbolt at the monkey god, and had nearly deprived Valmic of one of the most distinguished ornaments of the Ramayana.
Pavana now steps forward, and performs a somewhat extraordinary part in the drama; for being indignant at the treatment of his son (though it is difficult to make out how Hanuman became so, which, by-the-bye, is a
* Ghauts, or gauts, mountains.
mere trifle on these occasions), he called to his assistance, as regent of the winds, all the strength of his attributes; with which he inflated Indra and the rest of the gods, and gave them the colic to so violent a degree, that to relieve themselves from the pain, they were glad to restore Hanuman, and severally to endow him with a portion of their own power.
Hanuman is extensively worshipped, and his images will be found set up m temples, sometimes alone, and sometimes in the society of the former companions of his glory, Rama and Sita. He is supplicated by the Hindus on their birth-days to obtain longevity, which he is supposed to have the power to bestow; and which, of course, he unhesitatingly grants; or which, at least, the disinterested Brahmans of his temples unhesitatingly promise.
As the god of enterprise, offerings should be made at his shrine by night.
Hanuman is called Maruty, from Pavana being chief of the Maruts, or genii of the winds. He is also called Muhabar.
A few years ago, a monkey, perfectly white, was caught in the Burmese territories. It was considered to be rare, and excited much admiration; as one only had before been seen like it, for which the king of Ava had sent a golden case, and to celebrate its happy arrival, from which the most fortunate auguries were drawn, expended, according to the Calcutta India Gazette, no less a sum than twenty thousand rupees in sacrifices and rejoicings. What happy exaltation might have awaited the other gentleman who succeeded him, had he lived, it is impossible to say: but he died, although a Burmese woman, who was suckling her child, prayed to have the nursing of him, and fairly divided her nurture and maternal attention between the human infant and the simian nursling.
Figs. 3 and 5, plate 9, from drawings, represent Hanuman armed for battle; 4 ditto, from a cast, trampling on a Daitya; 5, conveying the mountains for the bridge, to enable Rama to invade Lanka. Plate 10 represents Hanuman and his monkeys, with Rama, making oblations to Vishnu and Lakshmi. This plate is from a large and beautiful carving, brought, I imagine, from a temple. It has been richly emblazoned. Fig. 1, plate 11, is from the temple of Rama, and represents Hanuman relating his adventures to Rama, Sita, and Lakshman; and fig. 2, from the same place, trampling on the Rakshasa, who attempted to stop his progress in conveying the medicinal plant for the cure of Lakshman.
This sea-born goddess of beauty and prosperity, the consort, or sacti of Vishnu, was obtained by him at the churning of the sea. She is painted yellow, sitting on the lotus or water-lily, and holding in her hand, sometimes the kamala or lotus, at others, the shell or club of Vishnu. At her birth she was so beautiful that all the gods became enamoured of her; but Vishnu at length obtained her. She is considered as the Hindu Ceres, or goddess of abundance.
Lakshmi has various names:—among which are Sri or Eris, the goddess of prosperity; Pedma or Kamala, from the lotus or nymphoea being sacred to her; Rembha, the sea-born goddess; Varahi (as the energy of Vishnu in the Varaha avatar); Ada Maya, the mother of the world; Narayana, Vidgnani, Kaumali, &c. (which see.)
This goddess was the daughter of Bhrigu; but, in consequence of the curse of Durvasa (an incarnation of Siva) upon Indra, she abandoned the three worlds, and concealed herself in the sea of milk, so that the earth no longer enjoyed the blessings of abundance and prosperity. To recover her, the gods churned the milky ocean, as related in the Kurma avatar. After some labour, and having thereby obtained the moon (which Siva instantly seized and placed in the middle of his forehead, where it still shines) and some other things, Sri, as Rembha, the sea-born goddess (the Venus Aphrodites of the Greeks), was produced, seated on her sacred lotus, and resplendent as a blazing sun. Thus was abundance and prosperity again restored to the three worlds; at which the gods expressed their satisfaction in a very becoming and celestial manner, by dancing, singing, splendid decorations, and other similar signs of heavenly rejoicing. Siva, who will be hereafter shown to be somewhat of a libertine among the Hindu divinities, wished to possess her; but as he had already stuck the Lunar crescent in his forehead, Vishnu urged his claim to, and obtained for his share this ocean gem of beauty and prosperity.
The festivals in honour of Lakshmi are held in the months Bhadra, Aswinu, Karteku, Poushu, and Choitru. The ceremonies are performed before a corn-measure filled with rice in the husk, which is decorated with a garland of flowers, shells, &c. No sanguinary sacrifices are offered.
The chewing of the cud by the cow arose from a curse of Lakshmi, that her mouth should be always in a state of uncleanliness, in consequence of a falsehood told by the animal to the goddess.
Fig. 6, plate 4, represents Lakshmi standing on a lotus pedestal. In one of her hands is the kamala or lotus; the other is held up in a forbidding attitude. In fig. 2, plate 7, she appears as Varahi in the third avatar, having four heads (one a boar's), and eight arms holding various weapons. In several of the other plates she is represented, either in company with Vishnu, or as his sacti in his different avatars. In fig. 2, plate 23, she is seen with Parvati and Suraswati, emblematical of the three sacred streams of the Gunga, Yamuna, and Suraswati.
Siva.—Bhairava or Bhyru.—Vira Badra Kartikeya.
SIVA, MAHADEO, or RUDRA,
The Destroyer, is represented under various forms. He is usually painted of a white or silver colour, with a third eye, and the crescent (which he obtained at the churning of the ocean) in the middle of his forehead. Sometimes he is described with one head, and at others with five: sometimes armed with various instruments of destruction; at others riding on the bull, Nandi, with Parvati on his knee; and again, at others, as a mendicant with inflamed eyes and besotted countenance, soliciting alms from Anna Puma, a form of Parvati. He is also represented under the appearance of Kal, or Time, the destroyer of all things.
Fig. 1, plate 14, taken from an antique sculpture in basalt, represents him standing between four attendants, armed with the trisula or trident in one hand, and having an antelope in another; the third is held up in a forbidding attitude, and the fourth is displayed in the act of solicitation. His head-dress is richly ornamented. He is standing beneath an arch enriched with emblematical figures, animals, and arabesques of elegant design and beautiful workmanship. On the plinth are the bull, Nandi, and various other figures and animals. Fig. 2, from a cast in the same plate, is (Panch Mukhti) Siva with five heads; the fifth, or upper head, surmounted by a hooded snake. His hands are as in fig. 1. Fig. 3, from the temple of Rama, is Siva as Kal, or Time, the destroyer of all things. In his hands are the damara or small drum, the cup to receive the blood of the slain, two human heads, and the club.
Fig. 1, plate 15, is Siva as Mahadeo, "or the supreme god," from a