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their Linga worship, the Greeks had their Phalli, and the Egyptians their Priapus. If the Hindus have their Kali, the Greeks had their Diana Taurica, and other nations their deities to whom sanguinary sacrifices were acceptable. The Romans deified not only the virtues but the vices. Thus we see that altars were raised by them to Truth, Justice, Piety, Peace, Calumny, Fraud, Impudence, and Discord. The metamorphoses of Jupiter were for the gratification of vicious desires: the avatars of the Indian Vishnu were generally for the
I preservation of the world; the relief of suffering humanity; and
to recall mankind back to piety and virtue. In this respect our judgment must be in favour of the Hindus. Of the Hindu system of music, the excellent writer whom I have before mentioned has expressed his belief that it has been formed on better principles than our own; and that the remains of their architecture" might furnish the architects of Europe with new ideas of beauty and sublimity.
" Magnificent architectural remains abound in every part of India. Some of those splendid works were erected from devotion, penitence, or as propitiations of the deities; others, from ostentation, parental, conjugal or filial afi'ection, or to the vanity, incident to orientals especially, of thus perpetuating their names. The following, taken from the Transactions of the Bombay Literary Society, relate two extraordinary anecdotes of the origin of Mussulman buildings in the now ruined city of Bejapoor :
“ The Maitree Kujoos is asmall but very elegant gateway and mosque about the centre of the city, built by a Hallalchore. That an individual so debased should have the ability to raise such a work, is accounted for in the following manner: Ibrahim Shah was said to have been afllicted with a dreadful malady, and having in vain had recourse to medicine and human means, at last endeavoured to avail himself of planetary influence. A crafty astrologer, on being consulted, resolved to profit from the king's credulity. Expounding the book of fate to him, he pretended that his recovery depended on his presenting a large and specific sum of money to the first person he saw on a particular morning, of course intending that person should he himself. Unfortunately, however, for the astrologer, the king happened to rise much earlier than usual that morning, and the first person he saw was the sweeper (Hallalchore) in the palace-yard ; to him, therefore, the king gave the money; and the poor creature, overloaded with unexpected wealth, knew not better how to dispose of it than in building the Maitree Kujoos. From the angles of the building hang massy stone chains, which must have been cut out of solid blocks, as there are no joinings in the links.
b " The
To those who may derive pleasure from dwelling on the deeds of chivalry of the western world, there need only be related the heroic achievements of the royal races, the Suryavans and Chandravans of ancient India, with the exploits of their high caste military tribes-t~ In short, with the Hindus, as with other once renowned states, we shall find, at difl'erent periods of their history, the virtues, the wisdom, and the glories of Augustan ages, and the vicissitudes, and miseries, and crimes, which mark the decadence and subjugation of powerfiil and mighty empires.
In respect of the origin and antiquity of the Hindu mythology, numerous conjectures have been hazarded, in which widely contrasted hypotheses have been advanced in opposition to each other. By some it has been urged, that India derived her religion and her gods from Egypt; by others that Egypt obtained hers from India; and by a third party that Persia was the immediate parent of both. The latter conjecture will, perhaps, appear to be as well-founded as any, as we have reason to believe that the earliest departure from the worship of a supreme and invisible god, took place in Chaldea, where the solar orb* was first deified and worshipped; and from whence the adoration of this gorgeous symbol of the Majesty of Heaven extended into Persia. In time the other celestial bodies became also symbols of divine attributes, till they, either from the restless disposition of man, or the crafty machinations of priests, were succeeded by personified representations more intelligible to
“ The Taj Bowree is not far from the Maitree Kujoos, but nearer to the Mecca gate. The Bowree is a superb tank, or well, nearly one hundred yards square, and fifty feet deep, and is surrounded by a colonnade and gallery. The entrance to the Bowree is through a grand arch, on either side of which is a wing for the accommodation of travellers; the descent to the water is by a considerable flight of steps.
“ It was built by Mulik Scindal, a voluntary eunuch, in Sooltan Mahomed's reign. The tradition of its origin is as follows :—The king having a taste for beautiful females, and Mulik being his intimate friend, the king resolved to despatch him to Sungul-deep for a Padmee. Mulik, knowing what a dangerous and delicate task was enjoined him, but resolved to make every sacrifice rather than lose the king's favour, begged a month to make the necessary preparations. In the mean time be deprived himself of his virility, sealed the attributes of it in a casket, which he lodged in the king's treasury, and then set out on his journey. In due time he returned with the lady; but suspicions having been infused into the king's mind by Mulik’s enemies that he had anticipated the king with his fair charge, Mahomet Shah, in‘tbe usual style of eastern despots, ordered his head to be instantly struck off.
“ ‘0 king 1' exclaimed Mulik, ‘ order restitution of my deposit in your treasury ere the fatal blow is struck.’ The casket was accordingly brought, opened, and to the king's astonished eyes appeared the proofs of Mulik’s imbecility, and his consequent innocence! Horror-struck at his injustice, he commanded Mulik to ask, and his wish should be granted, even to the sacrifice of his kingdom. Mulik observed, as he could not have posterity, he was merely desirous of raising some work which, by its utility, might do that which was denied him in a natural way, namely,
hand down his name to future generations. The king supplied the money, and the Taj Bowree perpetuates Mulik’s wish.’I
1- To the reader who would wish to become acquainted with the chivalry of the Hindus, the
‘author would recommend the admirable work of Colonel Tod on the Rajpoot tribes.
' the general mass of human nature in the rude and earlier ages of
society. If, then, Persia became (as there are grounds to believe she did) the country into which the stream of Chaldean idolatry next ran, we may readily imagine that it may have there divided, and flowed in separate channels, to inundate, at the same period, the one the shores of Egypt and the western world, and the other the plains of ancient India, with the numerous countries still farther to the east.
But, from whatever source the existing theology of the Hindus may have sprung, we need only here observe, that at the present day, it
‘I The religion of the Andamaners in the Bay of Bengal (perhaps one of the wildest and most uncivilized of any of the yet known tribes of mankind) is, according to Colonel Syms, the homage of nature to the incomprehensible Ruler of the Universe, expressed in adoration to the sun as the primary and most obvious source of good; to the moon as the secondary power; and to the genii of the woods, the waters, and the mountains, as inferior agents. In the spirit of the storm they confess the influence of the malignant Being, whose wrath they deprecate by wild choruses, which they chaunt during tempests on the beach, or on some rock that overhangs the ocean.
is in practice the most decided and extravagant polytheism; that the objects of their worship are almost exhaustless; and that those objects are as varied in their attributes as they have been multiplied in their numbers. In short, as Major Moor has, with his usual judgment, observed, “ Mythology is with them all-pervading. Their history, science, literature, arts, customs, conversation, and every thing else, are replete with mythological allusion.” A respectable knowledge of their pantheon is consequently an almost indispensable preparatory acquirement to the study and comprehension of nearly every thing which relates to them. In the following pages, it has been my endeavour to condense my subjects as much as, consistent with a clear explanation of them, I with propriety could : and from the limited extent of the first part of the work, which comprises the hydra-headed mythology of this extraordinary people, I hope it may be considered that I have not failed in the attempt.
The second part of this work will not, I also venture to hope, be found either uninteresting or unuseful; as it brings within a circumscribed and convenient compass the widely scattered relations of the numerous mountain and island tribes of the two peninsulas and the adjacent islands of India; tribes little known, even to those otherwise possessing a competent knowledge of the history, and manners, and customs of the Hindus in general.
The plates in this book have been taken, with a very few exceptions, from sculptures, casts, models, carvings, drawings, &c. in my own possession, and have been lithographed (except six of them) by Clerk, of Dean Street, Soho.
A brief notice in this place of the chronology of the Hindus may
not be found unnecessary, in elucidating some of the observations
which may be met with in the course of the work. It will be seen, that the extravagant ideas of this people are not confined to their
mythology, but pervade, in a no less degree, their chronological and astronomical calculations. Their extraordinary system comprises a
calpa or grand period of 4,320,000,000 years, which they form as follows. Four lesser yugs, viz. ‘
1st, Satya yug . - . 1,728,000
which make one divine age or maha (great) yug; 71 maha yugs make 306,720,000 years, to which is added a sandhi (or the time when day and night border on each other, morning and evening twilight), equal to a satya yug, 1,728,000, make a manwantara of 368,448,000 years; fourteen manwantaras make 4,318,272,000 years; to which must be also added a sandhi to begin the calpa, 1,728,000 years, make the calpa or grand period of 4,320,000,000 of years; of which amazing period it may be satisfactory to some prophetical individuals to know, that about half only has yet expired, the world being now in the kali yug of the twenty-eighth divine age of the seventh manwantara.
Extraordinary as this jargon may appear, it is shewn, by Mr. S. Davis in his Essay in the Asiatic Researches, to be no fanciful fiction, but to have been founded upon an actual astronomical calcula
tion, formed upon an hypothesis which it will be unnecessary here