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claring that she would throw herself into the first well rather than submit. The summons was not enforced.”
Having described the highest caste or tribe of the Hindus, I proceed to notice that of the lowest, as related by the intelligent Abbé Dubois; who, flying from the atrocities of the French revolution, sought refuge in India, where he became a missionary, and in the performance of his religious functions, lived in intimate communication with the natives during a period of seventeen years, conforming to their manners and prejudices, their dress, and their mode of living, as far as he with propriety could. This respectable authority has stated that “ The distance and aversion which the other castes, and the Brahmans in particular, manifest for the Pariahs, are carried so far, that in many places their very approach is sufficient to pollute the whole neighbourhood. They are not permitted to enter the street where the Brahmans live: if they venture to transgress, those superior beings would have the right, not to assault them themselves, because it would be pollution to touch them even with the end of a long pole, but they would be entitled to give them a sound beating by the hands of others, or even to make an end of them, which has often happened by the orders of the native princes, without dispute or inquiry. Any person who, from whatever accident, has eaten with Pariahs, or of food provided by them, or even drank of the water which they have drawn, or which was contained in earthen vessels which they have handled, any one who has set his foot in their houses or permitted them to enter his own, would be proscribed without pity from his caste, and would never be restored without a number of
troublesome ceremonies and great expense. The Pariahs are considered
to be far beneath the beasts who traverse their forests, and equally share the dominion in them. It is not permitted to them to erect a house, but
only a sort of shed, supported on four bamboos and open on all sides. It shelters them from the rain, but not from the injuries of the weather. They dare not walk on the common road, as their steps would defile it. When they see any person coming at a distance, they must give him notice by a loud cry, and make a great circuit to let him pass.”
Witches, charms, and amulets, obtain extensive credit in some of the
provinces of Hindustan. Instead, however, of the former appearing, as in Scotland, on the blasted heaths, or, as in ancient times in England, bestriding a broom-stick and decently dressed, in the cavalier hat and cloak of scarlet dye, they are generally discovered dancing naked at midnight, with a broom tied round their waists, either near the house of a sick person or on the outside of a village.
To ascertain with a greater degree of certainty the persons guilty of practising witchcraft, the three following modes are adopted :
First. Branches of the seal tree, marked with the names of all the females in the village, whether married or unmarried, who have attained the age of twelve years, are planted in the water in the morning, for the space of four hours and a half, and the withering of any of these branches is proof of witchcraft against the person whose name is annexed to it.
Secondly. Small portions of rice enveloped in cloths, marked as above, are placed in a nest of white ants. The consumption of the rice in any of the bags establishes sorcery against the woman whose name it bears.
Thirdly. Lamps are lighted at night, water is placed in cups made of leaves, and mustard-seed and oil is poured, drop by drop, into the water, whilst the name of each woman in the village is pronounced. The appearance of the shadow of any woman on the water during this ceremony, proves her a witch.
In accordance with the policy of the ancient Brahmans to keep the Hindus detached from all communication with other nations, the higher castes of them are prohibited from crossing the river Attock (the name given to the Indus after its junction with that river); but they contrive to avoid the prohibition by passing the stream above the point where the waters unite; or allege, as the channel of the Indus is understood to have formerly ran farther to the westward, that they may cross it without scruple, as its true bed is not now defined. This, however. is not at all times to be done with impunity, when the priests discover that the offending parties are rich, as the following statement will shew.
“ When the unfortunate Raghu Nath Raya, or Ragoba, sent two Brahmans as ambassadors to England, they went by sea as far as Suez, but they
came back by the way of Persia, and of course crossed the Indus. On their return they were treated as outcasts, because they conceived it hardly possible for them to travel through countries inhabited by Mlec’h’has, or impure tribes, and live according to the rules laid down in the sacred books. It was also alleged that they had crossed the Attaca or Attock. Numerous meetings were held in consequence of this, and learned Brahmans were convened from all parts. The influence and authority of Raghu N ath Raya could not save his ambassadors. However, the holy assembly decreed, that in consideration of their universal good character, and of the motives of their travelling to distant countries, which was solely to promote the good of their country, they might be regenerated, and have the sacerdotal ordination renewed. For the purpose of regeneration, it is directed to make an image of pure gold, of the female power of nature, in the shape either of a woman or of a cow. In this statue the person to be regenerated is enclosed and dragged through the usual channel. As a statue of pure gold and of proper dimensions would be too expensive, it is sufficient to make an image of the sacred yoni, through which the person to be regenerated is to pass. Raghu Nath Raya had one made of pure gold and of proper dimensions: his ambassadors were regenerated, and the usual ceremonies of ordination having been performed, and immense presents bestowed on the Brahmans, they were readmitted to the communion of the faithful.” *
The five great sacraments of the Brahmans are, the study of the Veda; the sacraments of the manes; of deities; of spirits ; and the hospitable re~ ception of guests.
The rites and ceremonies used on these occasions are numerous. On rising from his sleep, a Brahman must clean his teeth with the twig of the ramiferous fig-tree, repeating to himself at the same time a prayer; or on certain days must rinse his mouth twelve times with water. He must then proceed to perform his ablutions, which are accompanied by various prayers and ceremonies. Having finished these, he puts on his mantle after washing
* Asiatic Researches, vol. vi.
it, and sits down to worship the rising sun. During this worship he
‘‘ Sesamum. Various other articles are also used in Pujah. Cusa grass, sugar-cane, &c. &c.; and to the vindictive deities, human beings (now, it is to be hoped, not practised), beasts, birds, fishes, spirituous and fermented liquors, warlike instruments, &c. &c. Forms are prescribed for offering up the blood of the victims, which must be in vessels of peculiar shapes and compositions. See farther particulars in the account of the goddess Kali.
the Ganges. Preparatory to any act of religion, ablutions should be performed: but ablution does not, in all cases, consist of the use of water. The body may be purified by ashes, by dust raised by the treading of cows, from wind or air, standing in the rain during day-light, &c. &c.
The sacrament of deities consists in oblations to fire, with prayers and offerings, which vary according to the divinity worshipped.
In consecrating the fire and hallowing the sacrificial instruments many ceremonies are practised; after these the priest takes a lighted ember out of a covered vessel which contains the fire, and throws it away, saying, “ I dismiss far away carnivorous fire : may it go to the realm of Yama bearing sin (hence)!” He then places the fire before him, adding “earth! sky! heaven! this other (harmless) fire alone remains here.” He then names the fire according to the purpose for which it is prepared, burning at the same moment a small log of wood smeared with ghee.‘ Numerous ceremonies follow, with prayers and oblations of cum grass, &c. &c.
The sacrament of the manes is also accompanied by numerous ceremonies. The corpse of the deceased is washed, perfumed, and decked with wreaths of flowers, and gold, gems, &c. put into its mouth, nostrils, ears, and eyes. A perfumed cloth is then thrown over it, and it is carried to a holy place in a forest, or near water, accompanied by fire and food. The corpse of a Sudra is conveyed out of a town through the southern gate; that of a Brahman through the western ; of a Ketrie through the northern; and of a Vaisya through the eastern. The funeral procession, in passing to its destination, must make a circuit to avoid any inhabited place. On reaching the spot, the relations must first bathe, and then prepare the funeral pile: having done which, they again bathe. These proceedings are attended, like the rest of the Hindu rites, by prayers, &C.
The ceremonies occasionally vary, according to the person whose funeral obsequies may be performed. After the body has been burnt, oblations of water, &c., are offered ; the relations of the deceased then change their
clothes, and, sitting down, utter the following or other moral sentences.
* Ghee, clarified butter.