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in misfortune, and to avert the approach of evil spirits, malignant diseases, earthquakes, comets, &c., and especially during an eclipse. He is represented without a head, which is supposed to belong to his other portion.
The planet of the descending node, also variously described; by some sitting on a vulture; and by others, as a head on the back of a frog. (See fig. 4, plate 26.) For further particulars of Rahu and Ketu refer to a preceding account of Kartikeya.
ls the god of the waters, the Indian Neptune, and the regent of the west division of the earth. He is represented as a white man, four-armed, riding on a sea animal, with a rope called pashu in one of his hands, and a club in another. He is worshipped daily, as one of the regents of the earth; and also, according to Mr. Ward, by those who farm the lakes in Bengal, before they go out a fishing. And in times of drought, people repeat his name to obtain rain. His heaven, formed by Viswakarma, is eight hundred miles in circumference, in which he and his queen, Varuni, are seated on a throne of diamonds, attended by Samudra, Gunga, &c. &c.
Fig. 7, plate 26, from the temple at Ramnaghur, represents him on the the mukara, or sea animal, armed as above described.
A MYSTICK syllable, signifying the supreme god of gods, which the Hindus, from its awful and sacred meaning, hesitate to pronounce aloud; and, in doing so, place one of their hands before their mouths. “ A Brahman beginning or ending a lecture of the Veda (or the recital of any holy strain) must always pronounce, to himself, the syllable O’M ; for unless that syllable precede, his learning will slip away from him; and unless it follow, nothing will be long retained. It is prefixed to the several names of worlds, denoting that the seven worlds are manifestations of the power signified by that syllable.” “ All rites ordained in the Veda, oblations to fire, and solemn sacrifices pass away ; but that which passeth not away, says Menu, is declared to be the syllable O’m, thus called Aschara, since it is the symbol of God, the Lord of created beings.‘
From various passages in the Asiatic Researches, principally by Mr. Colebrooke, as well as other authorities, it may be collected, that this sacred monosyllable, spelt O’m, is pronounced A,O,]ll, or A, U,M, signifying Brahm, the supreme being, under his three great attributes of the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer; the letters standing, in succession, for the attributes as they are here described.
The gayatri, called by Sir William Jones the mother of the Vedas, and in another place the holiest text of the Vedas, is expressed by the triliteral monosyllable AUM, and means, if I understand it correctly, that divine light of knowledge dispersed by the Almighty, the sun of righteousness,
' Asiatic Researches, Vol. v.
to illumine the minds of created beings. Sir William Jones thus translates it: “ Let us adore the supremacy of that divine sun, the godhead who illumines all, delights all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright in our progress towards his holy seat.” And in another place he defines that divine sun as “not the visible material sun, but that divine and incomparably greater
‘ light, which illumines all, delights all, from whom all proceeds, to which all
must return, and which can alone irradiate not our visual organs merely, but our souls and our intellects." Mr. Colebrooke again explains it: “ On that effulgent power which is Brahm himself, and is called the light of the radiant sun, do I meditate, governed by the mysterious light which resides within me for the purpose of thought. I myself am an irradiated manifestation of the supreme Brahm."
These brief extracts may explain as well as volumes, that the fundamental principles of the Hindu religion were those of pure monotheism; the worship of one supreme and only god. Under what circumstances the attributes of that Almighty Being became divided and appropriated to the Hindu Triad, or that the visible, instead of the divine invisible sun became an object of worship, we are left in utter darkness. The one was the hallowed fundamental creed; the other is, unfortunately, the perverted popular practice of the Hindus.
The Vedas are the earliest sacred writings of the Hindus. The first four, called the immortal Vedas, are the Rig or Rish Veda, the Y ry'ar or Yajush Veda, the Sama or Saman Veda, and the Atharva or Atharvana Veda. They comprise various sections, which are again divided and subdivided, under the distinctions of Mantras, Brahmana, Itahasa, Parana, Upanishad, &c. They were reduced to order by Vyasa, and prescribed the moral and religious duties of mankind.
Much has been adduced on these heads by writers whose opinions appear to have differed very widely from each other. The following scattered
observations, from the pen of Mr. Colebrooke, in the Asiatic Researches, will explain in the most simple, clear, and connected light, in which I have been able to discover them, these fundamental principles of the Hindu religion. It is to be observed, that many of the Hindu scriptures are suspected not to have formed parts of the original Veda.
“ It is well known that the original Veda is believed by the Hindus to have been revealed by Brahma, and to have been preserved by tradition, until it was arranged in its present form by a sage, who thence obtained the surname of Vyasa, or Vedavyasa ; that is, compiler of the Vedas. He distributed the Hindu scriptures in the four parts before mentioned.
“ According to the received notions of the Hindus themselves, it appears that the Rich, Yajush, and Saman, are the three principal portions of the Veda; that the Atharvana is commonly admitted as a fourth; and that divers mythological poems, entitled Itahasa and Puranas, are reckoned a supplement to the scripture, and, as such, constitute a fifth Veda.
“ The true reason why the three first Vedas are often mentioned without any notice of the fourth, must be sought not in their different origin and antiquity, but in the difference of their use and purport. Prayers employed at solemn rites, called Vajnyas, have been placed in the three principal Vedas. Those which are in prose are named Y ajush ; such as are in metre are denominated Rich ; and some, which are intended to be chaunted, are called Saman. But the Atharvana, not being used at the religious ceremonies above mentioned, and containing prayers employed at lustrations, at rites conciliating the deities, and as imprecations on enemies, is essentially different from the other Vedas.
“ Vyasa having compiled and arranged the scriptures, theogonies, and mythological poems, taught the several Vedas to as many disciples, who, with their scholars in progression becoming teachers, their schools of scriptural knowledge at length amounted to eleven hundred.
“ From this great being (God) were respired the Rigveda, the Y zy'urveda, the Samaveda, and the Atharvan and Angiras, the Itahasa and Purana, the sciences and upanishads, the verses and aphorisms, the expositions and illustrations : all these were breathed forth by him.