« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Ere the resplendent Surya rears
His glorious face of light on high.
As if in floods of ruby light,
The court is bathed and made so‘ bright.
Like vanished joys of former years;
Its faint progression can descry.
As when at morning‘s dubious light,
And now behold, and now no more,
The garden move the gods divine;
Now more and more advance they nigh,
With looks cast on the ground below.
With royal mien and royal pride,
This Olympus of Indra is on Mount Meru, or the North Pole. He is the Jupiter Fulminator of the Romans; and is thus betokened by the vajra or thunderbolt in his hand.
Indra, however, performs a secondary part only among the gods of the Hindu Pantheon, the omnipotent Jupiter being the Triad, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Indra was frequently deprived of his kingdom in the wars between the gods and the demons, and obliged to wander about the world in a state of mendicity. But the imperial Jove himself was once compelled to hide from the persecution of his enemies. To account for these various transitions, astronomy, the ready expounder of mythological extravagancies, has been called in aid, and found highly useful in solving many of these heterogeneous enigmas.
Indra is the regent of the east, and the supreme ruler of winds and showers.‘ Among the magnificent sculptures in the cavern temples at Ellora, he is represented on his elephant Airavat. The animal is reclining under a tree, which shades Indra. Upon the branches of this tree are four peacocks ; two attendants with chawries are in the back ground. Another sculpture represents his consort, Indrani, seated on a lion under a tree, with a child in her arms, and four attendants with chawries in the back ground. Figs. 5 and 6, plate 23, exhibit them in a similar manner, but without the trees, or attendants. Fig. 4 represents them on the elephant Airavat.
The character of Indra is not in accordance with his dignified situation among the Hindu deities. In addition to the profligate attempt made by him on the virtue of Ahilya, the wife of Gotama, as already related, he availed himself of another opportunity and succeeded in seducing her, which drew upon them the curse of the Rishi. Indra, in consequence, became an eunuch; which part of the anathema was, on the intercession of the gods (as occurred on a former occasion), mitigated, and his virility was graciously restored. The frail Ahilya was condemned to lie in ashes, in pain, and invisible, for a long series of years, till the coming of Rama. On beholding that deity without desire, she was purified, and restored to the bosom of the sage Gotama. v
Numerous other instances are related of the profiigacy of Indra. He stole a horse from king Suguru as he was about to perform the aswamedha, or sacrifice of a horse, for the hundredth time; which ceremony would have deposed Indra, and elevated Suguru to the sovereignty of the immortals in his place. On another occasion, in the form of a shepherd’s boy, he robbed the garden of a peasant. In this theft he was detected and bound with cords, but released by the aid of the subordinate genii of the winds. This incident is thus beautifully related by Sir William Jones. The peasant
“ Seized, and with cordage strong
Varuna: green, whom foamy waves obey;
'* This would appear to be an encroachment upon the attributes of Pavana. 1- Indra, the regent of showers and of the east wind. 1 Varuna, regent of the west.
Bright Vahni,‘ flaming like the lamp of day ;
Marut,I who bids the winged breezes play ;
Stern Yama,§ ruthless judge, and Isa,“ cold;
They, with the ruddy flash, that points his thunder,
Th’ exulting god resumes his thousand eyes,
Four arms divine, and robes of changing dyes.”
Indra is worshipped on the fourteenth of the month Badra, accompanied by numerous festivities; after which the image is thrown into the water. His worshippers solicit from him riches and the various enjoyments of life, together with a future residence in his celestial abode.
Indra has a variety of names. He is called Sakra, in consequence of being the evil adviser of the demons or Asuras, by whom he was so often driven from heaven; and, with true mythological inconsistency, Pakushasani, he who governs the gods with justice; Shatkratu, he to whom a hundred sacrifices are made; Vajra Pani, the bearer of the thunder bolt; Vitraha; Bularati; and Numuchisadana, the destroyer of the giants; Vrisha the holy; Meghusadama, he who is borne on the clouds, &c. &c.
Indra possesses the following blessings, produced at the churning of the ocean. Kamdenu, the all-yielding cow; Pariyataka, the tree of plenty; and Oochisrava, the eight-headed horse. The princes of Kangti, the rajahs of Asam, and other chiefs in the eastern parts of India, pretend to have derived their origin from Indra.
* Vahni, of the south-east. f Kuvera, of the south. I Marut, of the north-west. §Yama, of the south. || Isa, or Isani, of the north-east.
1] Nairit, of the south-west. This account will be found to vary slightly from other descriptions of the regents of the winds or eight points of the earth ; but the several accounts differ in a very trifling degree, introducing Agni instead of Vahni; Surya instead of Nairit: Chandra for Kuvera; and Chandra also, or Prithivi, for Isa.
This deity was the son of Kasyapa and Aditi, and from his mother is called Aditya. He is pictured of a deep golden complexion, with his head encircled by golden rays of glory. He has sometimes four, and at others two, arms; holding a lotus in one of his hands, and sometimes the chukra or wheel in another; standing or sitting on a lotus pedestal, or seated in his splendid car with one wheel, drawn by a seven-headed horse of an emerald colour, or “ the seven coursers green" of the sun.
First o'er blue hills appear,
With many an agate hoof
Nor boasts yon arched roof,
That girds the show‘ry sphere,
Such heav’n-spun threads of coloured light serene,
As tinge the reins which Arun* guides.
Glowing with immortal grace,
Young Arun, loveliest of Vinatian race;
Though younger he-f- whom Madhavai bestrides,
When high on eagle plume he rides.
But, oh ! what pencil of a living star
Could paint that gorgeous car,
In which, as in an ark, supremely bright,
The lord of boundless light,
Ascending calm o’er the Empyrcum sails,
And with ten thousand beams his awful beauty veils.
In the preface to this work I have imagined the source of all idolatry to have been the sun. Surya is the personification of that luminary, the orb of light and heat; but the omnipotent sun, the creator of all things, the god of the universe, is Brahm ; typified among the first idolators by the visible
' Arun and Garuda are the sons of Kasyapa and of Vinata. 1‘ Garuda, the sacred bird of Vishnu. I A name of Vishnu.