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Debata digingang, Debata detora, and Debata dostonga, or the gods above, the gods below, and the gods of the middle, expressive of the departments over which their principals respectively preside. Batara Guru they represent as the god of justice ; Sori Pada, as the god of mercy; and Mangana Bulan as the original source of evil, and the constant instigator to its commission. The last is supposed to have the principal share in the management of human affairs, and to be able at any time to thwart the good intentions of his brethren; consequently, in whatever circumstance the Bataks may be placed, they are most anxious to secure his favour, considering good in general to consist in the absence of evil; it matters little to them how they may be regarded by Batara Guru or Sori Pada, so long as they secure the good will of Mangana Bulan.‘ Batara Guru (as his name denotes) is the chief instructor of men; and when he is supposed by Sori Pada to be dealing too harshly with them, the latter expostulates with him on their behalf.
“ Besides these they number amongst their deities the fabled serpent Naga Padhoa, which they represent with horns like a cow supporting the earth. They imagine, also, that every village has its Boru na mora, Boru Saniyang Naga, and Martua Sambaon, or guardian deities, superintending its interests and overruling its affairs; and they attempt to secure the favour of those deities by propitiatory sacrifices. Besides this particular interference in the public affairs of the community, they suppose that every individual is constantly attended and watched over by a number of genii, both good and evil, called Bogus and Saitans. These are chiefly the souls of their departed ancestors, whom they look upon as possessing extensive power over the living, either to protect or to afliict them.
“ There is generally one priest in every village: he receives, we believe, no consecration to his office, but is selected from amongst those who are best acquainted with their books and superstitions; and as the ability to read is mostly confined to the families of the chiefs, it frequently happens that the offices of raja and priest are united in the same person. He expounds all their religious books, and according to his interpretation a day is
" The Hindus also pay greater adoration to the vindictive deities.
chosen as propitious to their object; and they will not engage in any undertaking, however trifling, nor make the smallest alteration in their domestic economy, without first consulting him. To other instruments of his art we may add a book called ati siporhas, and a cord named rombu siporhas'by the former of which he determines the best time to attack an enemy, and by the latter measures the comparative strength of the two parties. Nor is it sufficient that he should be well versed in the interpretation of these: in an egg, a dog, or a pig, he must see much that is important; he must be acquainted with one hundred and seventy-seven different omens exhibited by the inside of fowls, with seventy exhibited in portions of calcined lime, and with seventy-three in lemons cut transversely ; and he must repeat readily from memory the various forms of prayer and invocation that are most esteemed in his district.
“ The Bataks present no offerings of gratitude to their gods. In the full enjoyment of health, prosperity, and peace, having nothing to ask from them, they are wholly neglected. It is only when entering on some hazardous enterprise, or on being threatened with war ; when followed by a long train of misfortunes, or when suffering from severe and protracted afflictions, that they invoke the shades of their ancestors, and offer sacrifices to the gods. But in any of the circumstances here supposed, and particularly the latter, the timid Batak applies to the Datu to learn the cause and the remedy of his sorrows. He takes with him a fowl and a little rice as a present. Having opened the fowl, the Datu is not at a loss to select, from the great variety of distinct intimations which it gives to his enlightened mind, a prescription precisely adapted to the circumstances of his timid and dejected applicant. His affliction, he is commonly told, is avisitation from one of the genii for the misconduct of some of his ancestors, and he must make a feast in honour of his father or grandfather, and intreat his intercession. This may be regarded as an act of religious worship, addressed to the deities through the intercession of their ancestors. This, however, is not the only way in which the gods may be approached. Supplications may be preferred, and offerings made, immediately, to any of them sepa
rately, or to them all collectively, without the assistance of the priest, care being taken that every thing is done according to the directions given in their religious books.
“ The only religious ceremony of universal interest, and in which all the village unites, is that which they celebrate when on the eve of commencing hostilities.
“ After feasting, dancing, and beating their gongs for some .time, the Datu takes in his hand the rombu siporhas in the presence of all the people, when he invokes the wrath of the gods and of their ancestors upon their enemies, and desires them to make it manifest by rombu siporhas, whether at that time they may revenge the wrongs of their country; then letting drop the cords, the Datu discovers by their relative situation and peculiar appearance what may be expected as the result of an attack at present; and should his report be favourable, they immediately commence operations.
“ Though the Bataks do not worship idols, in every village is found an image of wood or stone, the figure of a man, which they chiefly use in the administration of oaths. To this test are referred suits upon which positive evidence cannot be obtained; and it is thought that few are so daring as wholly to disregard its sanction.
“ Of a future state of rewards and punishments these people have no conception. They imagine the spirit to become more powerful and independent after the dissolution of the body, and to be wholly exempt from suffering, and consequently look forward to death without terror, except such as may arise from the prospect of corporal pain. Whether the soul be immortal or not, they do not pretend to know, but speak of it as lost when its memory is no longer cherished on earth.
“ Almost all crimes are punished with fines proportioned to the offence and to the rank of the criminal; and since the chief, who acts as judge, may always be bribed, and usually receives the fines himself, oppression must no doubt exist to a considerable extent. Persons caught in the act of house-breaking or highway robbery are publicly executed with the knife or matchlock, and then immediately eaten: no money can save them. But if the delinquents are fortunate enough to escape immediate seizure, they are only fined. A man taken in adultery is instantly devoured and may be lawfully eaten piecemeal without first depriving him of life. Men killed, or prisoners taken in a great war, are also publicly eaten ; but, if only two villages be engaged this is not allowed : the dead are then left on the field to be buried by their respective parties, and the prisoners may be redeemed.
“ A man cannot marry a relative of his own, however distant. For instance, two brothers agree to settle, the one in Toba, the other in Angkola. They marry there and have several children, but the descendants of these two families can at no future period intermarry. Divorces are very rare, being seldom granted except for adultery; when the woman, her head having been first shaved, is sold out of the country.
“ A feast is always made on the day of a funeral, and the jaw of the animal killed on the occasion (usually a pig) is fastened to a stake at the head of the grave, together with a bag containing gambir serih, tobacco, &c., and a bamboo filled with water. These, when dried up by the sun, they suppose the spirit to have eaten.“
BEDAS of CEYLON.
“ The Bedas are of no caste; but they are not considered as impure, and enjoy, as a body, a certain degree of consideration‘. They inhabit the
‘woods, and live up in the trees. They feed principally on the game they
kill with their arrows, and have the reputation of being good archers. Their bows are remarkably difficult to draw; their arrows have a piece of iron at the end six or eight inches long, and about one and a half broad. With these they can kill an elephant by striking him between his eyes, a thing very possible from the construction of the bone about that part. When a Beda wants an iron lance, or a tool, which is'the only thing he may stand in need of that he cannot procure for himself, he places in the night before the door of a smith, some honey or game, together with a model of the instrument he requires in wood or earth. In a day or two after, he returns, and finds the instrument he has demanded. This good faith and reciprocal "' Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society.