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Srad’ha.—Sectarial Marks.—Austerities and Punishments.—Suttee, or Suti.—Johara.—Linga and Yoni.—Salagrama and Binlang Stones.—Infanticide.
Snxn’nns are commonly understood as obsequies paid to the manes of deceased ancestors, “ to effect, by means of oblations, the re-embodying of the soul of the deceased after burning his corpse, and to raise his shade from this world (where it would else, according to the notions of the Hindus, continue to roam among demons and evil spirits) up to heaven, and then deify him, as it were, among the manes of departed ancestors.”
Mr. Colebrooke describes the Srnd’has under twelve heads, by which it would appear that they are performed for many other purposes than funeral obsequies. 1. Daily obsequies, either with food or with water only, in honour of ancestors in general, but excluding the Viswédeva. 2. Obsequies for a special cause, that is, in honour of a kinsman recently defunct. 3. Voluntary obsequies, performed by way of supererogation, for the greater benefit of the deceased. 4. Obsequies for increase of prosperity, performed upon any accession of wealth or prosperity, and upon other joyful occasions. 5. A sradd’ha intended to introduce the shade of a deceased kinsman to the rest of the manes. 6. Obsequies performed on appointed days, such as that of new moon, full moon,‘ sun’s passage into a new sign, 8zc. 7. A .s'radd’ha to sanctify the food at an entertainment given to a company of reverend persons. 8. One when stated numbers of priests are fed at the cost of a person who needs purification from some defilement. 9. A sradd’ha preparatory to the celebration of any solemn rite. l0. Sradd’has in honour of deities. l1. Oblations of clarified butter, previous to the undertaking of a distant journey. 12. A sradd’ha to sanctify a meal of flesh meat, prepared simply for the sake of nourishment.
The funeral ceremonials of Srad’ha are performed immediately after the decease of a person, and are continued at short periods for twelve months. They are then performed annually, either in honour of a particular individual, or, generally, to the manes of the worshipper’s departed progenitors. The observances on these occasions are similar to the other religious ceremonies of the Hindus: such as rubbing the floor with cow-dung; oblations of food, 8rc. to the gods and deceased ancestors ; various libations; shifting the zenaar or Brahminical thread; turning the face to the several quarters of the globe and sprinkling the body, 8:c. 8:0.
Some of the rules for the performance of Srad’ha are singular: the two following are specimens.
“ As many mouthfuls as an unlearned man shall swallow at an oblation to the gods and to ancestors, so many red-hot iron balls must the giver of the Srad’ha swallow in the next world.”
“ He who caresses a Sudra woman after he has been invited to sacred obsequies, takes on himself all the sin that has been committed by the giver of the repast.”
These rules are very numerous and are minutely detailed. Many of them are equally curious with the foregoing.
These symbols are made of ashes, cow-dung, earth of the Ganges, turmeric, sandal-powder, chunam (a sort of lime), &c., and are commonly of yellow, red, black, and ashen colours. I do not recollect any of either blue or green. The Hindus mark their foreheads, arms, and breasts with various devices of three colours, which denote the sect to which they belong. These marks are numerous, but upon the many images in my possession a few\of them only have been drawn: and, indeed, I am disposed to think that a large part of those occasionally seen, are merely varieties of a smaller
number of originals, according to the fancy of individuals or families. Thus
No. 1, in the lower part of plate 2,‘ is a single perpendicular line, which denotes the sect of Vishnu; as will two or more perpendicular lines, either without or with (as in Nos. 2 and 3) a small dot or circle between them; or (as in 4) under them; or a wheel (chuckra) or discus (5, 6); a cone, or triangle, or shield (7, 8, 9), or any similar form having the apex, or oval, or smallest parts downward; or with or without dots (l0, l1, 12), or any thing else between, or under them, are indicative of Vishnu, and are typical, by pointing downwards, of water (the symbol of that deity), whose property it is to descend; as it is that of fire, the symbol of Siva, to ascend: therefore a cone, or triangle, or other form (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18), having the apex, or oval, or smallest parts pointing upwards, either with or without dots, or other marks between or under them, denote the sect of Siva; as do two or more horizontal lines (19, 20), either without or with (21, 22, 23) a single dot or small circle (called putta), between or under them; or the circle alone (24); or an oval, with or without a smaller oval or semi-oval or putta within it, also denote Siva. The latter are typical of the third eye in the centre of the forehead (25, 26, 27, 28) of that deity. The crescent (29), either with or without circles or ovals, distinctly indicates Siva ; as does (30), which Bartolomeo calls his trisula or trident. Two triangles crossed (31) denote the two sects, which will be seen in fig. 1, plate 21 (a form of Durga), with the addition of puttas on the legs of the triangles (32). A circle within a triangle, or a triangle within a circle (33, 34, 35), are said to be typical of the three sects, or the Hindu triad or trinity.
The images of Brahma have usually the sectarial marks of Siva. but they have sometimes those of both that deity and Vishnu. Ganesha, Kartikeya, and the avatars and forms of Siva and Parvati have also the marks of Siva , whereas Indra, Chandra, Agni, Kamadeo, Hanuman, and the avatars of Vishnu, have the sectarial signs of Vishnu. The Buddhas (except the Brahmanical Buddhas, or ninth avatar of Vishnu, who have the marks of that deity) and the J ainas, have not sectarial distinctions; but the images of the Buddhas and Tir’thankaras of these heterodox sects are frequently
* In referring to plate 2 for illustrations of the Sectarial Marks, the reader will, to save unnecessary repetitions, be pleased to understand that the lower part of the plate is alluded to.