« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
however said enough on the ground subject of these ceremonies, and shall therefore proceed to notice those peculiar to the Mahrattas.
On the morning of the tenth day, the Peishwa, with all his chiefs and soldiers, moves out to the camp in the vicinity of the city, each being ranged under his particular banner, mounted on his best horse, dressed in his finest clothes, and with his arms highly polished. Horses, elephants, and camels, are all arranged in their gayest trappings, and every corps spreads its gaudiest flags and banners. The whole population of the capital, either as actors or spectators, join in this grand procession, which moves towards the sacred tree, the object of adoration. After the offerings and prayers the Peishwa plucks some leaves of the tree, on which all the cannon and musquetry commence firing. The Peishwa then plucks from a field purchased for the occasion, a stalk oijawary or bqjree, on which the whole crowd fire off their arms, or shoot arrows, and rush in an instant and tear up the whole. Each endeavours to procure his share of the spoil. Some succeed in carrying off a handful, whilst others content themselves with a few stalks: all, however, return home with shouts of joy, and the remainder of the day and night is devoted to festivity and mirth. Many other usages prevail at this festival, which are, I believe, peculiar to the Mahrattas; among others, that of sacrificing sheep and buffalos, sprinkling the blood on the horses with great ceremony, and distributing the flesh of the former to all ranks, Brahmans excepted. The chiefs often give money to enable their soldiers to buy sheep to perform sacrifices; which, from furnishing them with a good dinner, are by many considered as the most essential ceremonies of the Dusraft."
Parvati obtained the name of Durga in consequence of her having destroyed the giant Durgu, no less potent than Muhisha, and equally renowned for dispossessing the gods of their power and dominions. This celebrated contest is thus described by Mr. Ward :* "On a certain
* Colonel Vans Kennedy has imagined that this description of Mr. Ward combines several of Durga's martial exploits. It certainly contains wonders enough to justify the belief of that intelligent writer; but, at the same time, nothing more extraordinary than we find related in the accounts of Rama and others.
occasion, Agastya, the sage, asked Kartikeya, why Parvati, his mother, was called Durga. Kartikeya replied, that formerly a giant named Durgu having performed religious austerities in honour of Brahma, obtained his blessing, and became a great oppressor; he conquered the three worlds, and dethroned Indra, Vayu, Chandra, Yama, Varuna, Agni, Kuvera, Ishani, Rudra, Surya, &c. The wives of the Rishis were compelled to celebrate his praises. He sent all the gods from their heavens to live in forests, and at his nod they came and worshipped him. He abolished all religious ceremonies: the Brahmans, through fear of him, forsook the reading of the vedh; the rivers changed their courses; fire lost its energy; and the terrified stars retired from sight. He assumed the forms of the clouds, and gave rain whenever he pleased; the earth through fear gave an abundant increase, and the trees yielded flowers and fruits out of season. The gods at length applied to Siva. Indra said, "he has dethroned me;" Surya said, "he has taken my kingdom;" and thus all the gods related their misfortunes. Siva, pitying their case, desired Parvati to go and destroy the giant. She willingly accepting of the commission, calmed the fears of the gods, and first sent Kalaratree, a female whose beauty bewitched the inhabitants of the three worlds, to order the giant to restore things to their ancient order. The latter, full of fury, sent some soldiers to lay hold of Kalaratree; but by the breath of her mouth she reduced them to ashes. Durgu then sent 30,000 other giants, who were such monsters in size that they covered the surface of the earth. At the sight of these giants Kalaratree fled through the air to Parvati, and the giants followed her. Durgu, with 100,000,000 chariots, 120,000,000,000 of elephants, 10,000,000 of swift-footed horses, and innumerable soldiers, went to fight with Parvati on the mountain Vindhu. As soon as the giant drew near, Parvati assumed one thousand arms, and called to her assistance different kinds of beings (whose names are given in the original). The troops of the giant poured their arrows on Parvati, sitting on the mountain Vindhu, thick as the drops of rain in a storm; they tore up the trees, the mountains, &C., and hurled them at the goddess; who, however, threw a weapon which carried away many of the arms of the giant: when he, in return, hurled a
flaming dart at the goddess; she turned it aside. He discharged another; but this also she resisted by a hundred arrows. He next let fly an arrow at Parvati's breast; but this too she repelled, as well as two other instruments, a club and a pike. At last Parvati seized Durgu and set her left foot on his breast; but he disengaged himself and renewed the fight. The beings (9,000,000) whom Parvati caused to issue from her body, then destroyed all the soldiers of the giant. In return, Durgu caused a dreadful shower of hail to descend, the effect of which Parvati counteracted by an instrument called shoshunu. He next, breaking off the peak of a mountain, threw it at Parvati, who cut it into seven pieces by her arrows. The giant now assumed the shape of an elephant as large as a mountain, and approached the goddess; but she tied his legs, and with her nails, which were like scymitars, tore him to pieces. He then arose in the form of a buffalo, and with his horns cast stones, trees, and mountains at the goddess, tearing up the trees by the breath of his nostrils. The goddess next pierced him with her trident, when he reeled to and fro, and renouncing the form of a buffalo, assumed his original body as a giant, with a thousand arms and weapons in each. Going up to Parvati, the goddess seized him by his thousand arms and carried him into the air, from whence she threw him down with dreadful force. Perceiving, however, that this had no effect, she pierced him in the breast with an arrow, when the blood issued in streams from his mouth and he expired. The gods were filled with joy. Surya, Chandra, Agni, obtained their former splendour; and all the other deities, who had been dethroned by this giant, immediately reascended their thrones. The Brahmans resumed the study 'of the Veda, sacrifices were regularly performed, and every thing assumed its pristine state; the heavens rang with the praises of Parvati, and the gods, in return for so signal a deliverance, honoured her with the name of Durga."
It is the happy privilege of mythological personages that they can be
"Every thing by turns
Thus it is that we find in the mythology of the Hindus apparently more gods than their country possesses of mortal inhabitants. Of these gods,