« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
assigned to this extraordinary Hindu triad or trinity, Brahma, Vishnu. and Siva. But as to destroy is, according to her regular order, to reproduce under another form, Siva, the destroyer, is also seen as the god of reproduction or creation; and the creating power of Brahma is supposed to be dormant, till it shall be again required to be exerted in the formation of a future world, on the total annihilation of the present one, which is expected in the kalki avatar, or tenth incarnation of Vishnu. For this reason Brahma is not now much regarded ; his temples have been overturned, and the worship of him suppressed by the followers of Vishnu and Siva.
I shall now proceed to describe the deities of the Hindu Mythology under their separate heads, commencing with Brahma, of whom, for the reason just mentioned, a very succinct account will be sufficient.
This deity, the least important, at the present day, of the Hindu Triad, is termed the creator, or the grandfather of gods and men. Under this denomination he has been imagined to correspond with the Saturn of the Greeks and Latins.
Brahma is usually represented as a red or golden-coloured figure, with four heads. He is said (by the Saivas) to have once possessed five ; but, as he would not acknowledge the superiority of Siva, as Vishnu had done, that deity cut off one of them. He has also four arms, in one of which he holds a spoon, in another a string of beads, in the third a water-j ug (articles used in worship), and in the fourth the Veda, or sacred writings of the Hindus. (See fig. 1 and 2, plate 3.) He is frequently attended by his vahan or vehicle, the hanasa or goose, or (as some allege) a swan.
The temples of this deity in Hindustan have been overturned by the followers of Vishnu and Siva; and he is now but little regarded‘, and very seldom, if at all, worshipped, except in the worship of other deities. Like the other gods, he has many names.
Brahma had few avatars or incarnations on earth: Daksha (see fig. 3,
plate 3,) is the principal of them ; Viswakarma, Nareda (see fig. 5 and 6 in the same plate), and Brigu, are his sons. The Brahmadicas, Menus, and Rishis, are also called the descendants of Brahma. His heaven is described as excelling all others in magnificence, and containing the united glories of all the heavens of the other deities.
Daksha was an avatar or appearance of Brahma upon earth in a human shape. He was the father of Suti, the consort of Siva; whose son, Vira Badra (produced from the jatta or locks of Siva), cut off his head for treating his father with indignity, and causing the death of Suti. (See Parvati.) On the intercession of the gods, Daksha was restored to life; but his head having during the battle fallen into the fire, and been burnt, it was replaced by that of a he-goat, in which form he is seen. (See fig. 3, plate 3.)
The architect of the universe, and the fabricator of arms to the gods, is the son of Brahma, and the Vulcan of the Hindus. He is also called the Sootar, or carpenter, and presides over the arts, manufactures, &c. In paintings, he is represented as a white man with three eyes, holding a club in his right hand. Some of the most grand and beautiful of the cavern temples‘ at Ellora, Nasak, &c. bear the name of this god. One, at the firstmentioned place, is hewn one hundred and thirty feet in depth, out of the solid rock, presenting the appearance of a magnificent vaulted chapel, supported by ranges of octangular columns, and adorned by sculptures of beautiful and perfect workmanship. In the sculptured representations of this deity he is shewn in a sitting posture, with his legs perpendicular, and holding with the fingers of one hand the fore-finger of the other. (See fig. 5, plate 3, wherein he appears, with the exception of the arch and attendants, as he is seen in his temple at Ellora.)
Is also a son of Brahma and Suraswati, the messenger of the gods, and the inventor of the aim, or Hindu lute. He was not only a wise legislator, an astronomer, and a musician, but a distinguished warrior. His name will be found frequently and respectably mentioned in Hindu mythology. Major Moor relates some humorous jokes practised upon him by Krishna, perfectly in accordance with the sportive character of that deity. Being once on a visit to him, Nareda having no wife or substitute, asked Krishna for the loan of one of his sixteen thousand. The god told him to pick and choose. He endeavoured to do so sixteen thousand times, but in every place he entered he found the multiplied image of the god in the very spot that he wished to occupy. On a different occasion, being proud of his skill in playing on his own invented instrument, the vina, Krishna placed another instrument of the same kind in the hands of a bear, having with him a brother bruin beating the cymbals. In plate 3, fig. 6, Nareda is represented, from a compartment in the temple of Rama, bearing a vina in his hand, engaging the attention of a. stork: with which storyI am unacquainted.
Is another son of Brahma, of whom I have no representation. His name is frequently found in Hindu mythology. It is related of him, that on being once asked, in an assembly of the gods, which was the greatest, Brahma, Vishnu, or Siva, he undertook the task of ascertaining the point by a somewhat hazardous experiment. He first proceeded to Brahma, whom he purposely neglected to treat with his customary respect and decorum ; which unusual proceeding drew upon him the indignation and lavish abuse of that deity. He then repaired to Siva, to whom he behaved in a still more offensive manner; which roused in a much greater degree the anger of that impatient and vindictive personage. Brigu, however, on both of these occasions, by timely apologies, made his peace and retired. He finally proceeded to the heaven of Vishnu, whom he found asleep, with Lakshmi sitting by him. Knowing the mild temper of the god, he judged that a mere appearance of disrespect would not, as in the two former cases, be
‘sufiicient to try it: he therefore approached the sleeping deity, and gave
him a severe kick on the breast. On this, Vishnu awoke; and instead of being indignant, as Brahma and Siva had been, he not only expressed his apprehensions and regret lest he should have hurt his foot, but benevolently proceeded to chafe it. Brigu, on witnessing this, exclaimed, “ This god must be the mightiest, since he overpowers all by goodness and generosity.”
A similar exploit to another incident which is related of Brigu, would prove as inconvenient as extraordinary, were it to be exerted in the present state of mundane population. It is told of him, that the wife of King Suguru proving barren, applied to him to remove the evil ; than which no greater can be apprehended by a Hindu female. Brigu promised that,
on the performance of certain ceremonies, her wishes should be accomplished. The required measures were immediately adopted by the anxious
queen, who was accordingly, by the aid of Brigu, enabled to produce at one birth, the moderate progeny of sixty thousand sons. Whether she continued to be equally prolific, Hindu mythology does not state.
Called the sons of Brahma, are named Marichi, Atri, Vasishta, Palastya, Angiras, Pulastia, and Critu. Colonel Wilford, in the Asiatic Researches, has considered the Brahmadicas, the Menus, and the Rishis, to be seven individuals only. The names of some of the Brahmadicas correspond with those of some of the Rishis.
TH E MENUS
Are seven: Swayambhuva (who by some is termed an incarnation of Brahma), Swarochesa, Uttoma, Tamasa, Raivata, Chaishusha, and Satye
avrata. Sir William Jones has considered Swayambhuva to have been Adam; and Satyavrata, Noah.
Were the children of the Menus, the offspring of the Brahmadicas, who were the sons of Brahma. They are seven in number, and are named Kasyapa, Atri, Vasishta, Viswamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, and Bharadwaja. They are astronomically the husbands of the six Pleiades. How six and seven can accord, it may be difiicult to understand. Mythologically, they were seven sages, who obtained beatitude by their virtue and
The goddess of learning, music, and poetry, is the wife of Brahma. The reverend missionary Ward, in his work on the history, &c. of the Hindus, has described her as the daughter of Brahma, and one of the wives of Vishnu; but all the other authorities which I have consulted represent her as I have described. She is also called Brahmi, or Brahmini, the goddess of the sciences; and Bharadi, the goddess of history. She is sometimes seen as a white woman standing on a lotus, or water-lily, holding a lute (or vina) in her hand, to shew that she is also the goddess of music ; at others, riding on a peacock, with the same emblem in her hand. (See fig. 4, plate 3.) Although the worship of Brahma has fallen into disuse, the annual festival of Suraswati, in the month Maghu, is highly honoured. On that day she is worshipped with offerings of perfumes, flowers, and rice; and the Hindus abstain from either reading or writing, as they ascribe the power of doing both to be derived from this goddess. Offerings are also made to her in expiation of the sin of lying, or of having given false evidence. If these offerings have, as is alleged, a successful effect, it may be imagined that they are not infrequently made, as the sin is one to which the Hindus are infinitely too prone.
Bartolomeo describes Suraswati as presiding over gold and silver, trees,