Изображения страниц

her images, like those of Durga, are conveyed, attended in the customary manner with much noisy music, to the banks of the river, and cast into the stream. Fig, 1, plate 21, represents her seated on a lion, which is bestriding and wounding with his fore-paws an elephant, whose trunk is twined round one of the hinder legs of the lion. From a handsome model by Chit Roy.


Is another form of Parvati as Durga, under which she is giving suck to

Krishna, to prevent the effects of the poison which he received in subduing the monstrous serpent Kalya. '

This monster infested the banks of the river Yamuna, and destroyed the herds of the Gokals. Krishna attacked and conquered him. He then asked that deity where he was to go, as, if he remained on shore, Garnda would destroy him. Krishna pressed his foot on his head, and told him that the impression would secure him from Garuda. The venom of the

serpent, however, affected Krishna, which Durga cured by administering to him her own milk.


Another form of Durga, in which she is described pulling an elephant out of her mouth. Fig. 6, plate 26, from the temple of Rama, represents a personage of some kind mounted on the back of another, pulling an elephant from the mouth of a fish. Whether this has any relation to the present form of Durga I am unacquainted; as I am, indeed, with the legend to which the figures refer.

Parvati has numerous other names, some of the most important of which

will be noticed, under their respective heads, in the third part of this work.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

THE primeval being, represented under a form half male, half female. The term is usually applied to Siva and Parvati ; but where gods meet gods at every step, it is impossible to decide which of them was the primeval being. Mr. Colebrooke informs us, that “ he, the primeval being, felt not delight, therefore man delights not when alone. He wished the existence of another, and instantly became such as is man and woman in mutual em-' brace. He caused this, his own self, to fall in twain, and thus became a husband and wife: therefore was this body, so separated, an imperfect moiety of himself. This blank, therefore, is completed by woman: he approached her, and thus- were human beings produced.

“ She reflected doubtingly: ‘ How can he, having produced me from himself, incestuously approach me? I will now assume a disguise.’ She became a cow, and the other became a bull, and approached her; and the issue were kine. She then became successively a mare, a she-ass, a female goat, an ewe, &c. 8tc. ad irgfinitum, and he a male of every species ; so that all kinds of animals, &c. down to the minutest insect, were created.”

According to some, Viraj was the first issue of the mighty being who had thus divided himself, and was consequently the first man and the founder of the human race. Swayambhuva is considered to have been his son. There are many accounts respecting their descendants, each at variance with the other. I need only, therefore, say that they were the Brahmadicas, Menus, and Rishis ; and the race of the Children of the Sun, the descendants of Surya.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Fig. 1, plate 15, is a compound figure, half man half woman, or Siva and Parvati conjoined, called Ardha Nari or Ardha Maheswari, which I imagine may apply to Viraj. In one hand Siva holds the trident, and, in another, Parvati the damara; the other two are joined together. From the head of Siva issues the sacred Gunga. His foot rests on the bull, Parvati’s on the tiger.

It will be unnecessary to say more of the intimate union of this quarrelsome couple than I have above stated; except that, as frequently happens to men who are unruly abroad, the lady at home was the better half. Thus, in the war of Lanka, it was found that, although Siva, on the importunity of the other gods, wished to act in conjunction with them to destroy his worshipper Ravan, Parvati put the whole of the assembled deities at defiance; till the flattery of the accomplished Rama obtained her acquiescence.

One account related by Mr. Ward is however worthy of notice, as it exhibits, what we might not have been otherwise prepared to expect, the miserable plight to which even the supreme of the Hindu gods, with all their glory and magnificence, were sometimes reduced. It appears that Siva having only one mouth, and Parvati as Durga ten, with Ganesha besides to support, he desired to be thus united to preserve himself from starving. But we have elsewhere a more godlike account of this union, viz. that Siva assumed the conjoint form, to prove that he was the supreme being, possessing both the male and female powers of creation.


The conjoint forms of Vishnu and Siva. This singular union of the two great deities of the Hindu sects is involved in much obscurity, and the little light that we have on the subject is not of the most becoming description. The union is, perhaps, little else than the caprice of the votaries of the two deities. The sculptures of them in this form somewhat resemble Ardha Nari. In pictures, Vishnu is painted black and Siva white.


This appellation, like that of Iswara, appears to have been claimed by the followers of the three principal deities for the three several objects of their worship. Thus Brahma was N arayana ; the Vishnaivas bestowed the title upon their god Vishnu; and the Saivas upon Siva.

Narayana is the spirit of the supreme god; but, as the Hindus, when they lost sight of an unity of worship, endowed their idol with his essence, N arayana may be, as above stated, Brahma, Vishnu, or Siva, and is sometimes even Ganesha. N arayani, his sacti, maybe accordingly Suraswati, Lakshmi, or Parvati. Vishnu is, however, in common usage, called Narayana, in which character he is fabled to be sleeping on the serpent Shesha or Ananta, on the waters of Eternity, and causing the creation of the world. He is also described with his toe in his mouth, reposing in like manner on the leaf of the lotus, which an old work now before me thus describes. “ Before the creation of the world, Vishnu, that is God, had some inclination to have a new place to recreate and delight himself in : he accordingly swam on the leaf ‘of a tree on the water (for there was nothing but God and water before the creation) like a little child, with his great toe in his mouth, in the form of a circle; in testimony that he is without beginning or end. He then caused a flower to spring out of his navel, from whence sprang Brahma, whom God (as elsewhere related) commanded to create the world.”

Fig. 1, plate 5, from the temple of Rama, represents Vishnu as Narayana sleeping on the serpent Ananta: from his navel springs the stem of the lotus, from the flower of which issues Brahma, with the Veda and a sceptre in his hands. Near Brahma are two (apparently) combatants, armed with swords and shields. At the feet of Vishnu is Lakshmi, champooing one of his legs.


Prith’hivi, the goddess of the earth, is by some termed a form of Lakshmi, by others of Parvati. Her husband is Prit’hu. produced, in strict accord

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ance with mythological extravagance, by churning the right arm of a deceased tyrant who had died without issue, that he might have a posthumous son, who is represented as a form of Vishnu.

This primitive couple appear to have quarrelled in a very primitive manner; that is, the mother of nature became sulky and would not supply her husband or his family (mankind) with food. Prit’hu, in consequence, beat and wounded her : on which she assumed the form of a cow, and complained to the gods ; who having heard both sides of the question, allowed him and his children to treat her in a similar manner, whenever she again became stubborn and sulky.

In this mythological tale we may discover a rude allegory of the bountiful productiveness of the earth, when aided by the industry of man. The loveliness of nature robed in her most splendid attire, is, like that of her beauteous daughters, when unattended by good humour and domestic utility, of little use to him, unless accompanied by the smiles and blessings of Ceres. We must not, however, pursue the comparison farther, as the gods of Meru allowed Prit’hu and his children not only to take from Prit’hivi her arborescent decorations, but to scarify her form and lacerate her bosom, whenever she refused a cheerful performance of her‘duties. Thus it is that the woodland must be cleared, and the spade and plough employed, before the earth will yield a ready obedience and support to the offspring of her lord. Prit’hivi, nevertheless, in spite of her occasional stubbornness, is allowed to possess, on submitting meekly to her castigation, the truly feminine virtues of patience, humility, and resignation.

As a form of Lakshmi, Prit’hivi is the Indian Ceres. Daily sacrifices are offered to her. The Hindus divide the earth into ten parts, to each of which a deity is assigned.


This deity, the god of wisdom and policy, is painted as a short, fat, redcoloured man, with a large belly and the head of an elephant. He has four arms; in one hand of which he holds the ankas or hook for guiding the elephant, in another a chank or shell, in the third a conical ball, and in

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »