Изображения страниц
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

however, hundreds of names and attributes are but varieties, as I have elsewhere stated, belonging to one individual deity. Indeed, it was imperatively necessary that they should have been endowed with such a harlequin facility of transition of characters, without which they would have been no match for the giants and demons, with whom they had to contend, and whose skill in metamorphoses and other things I have, in different parts of this work, already described. The promptness (which is the soul of business) with which they manage these matters, is no less surprising than their power of performance. A glance of the eye, a shake of their serpent locks, a bound from the earth, and a variety of other modes and gestures which cannot with propriety be mentioned, tend to the same happy effect of destroying thousands of Asuras and Rakshasas, and giving to the victorious deity a new name; under which laudatory strains are instanter sung to him or her by the other gods and goddesses. The deity thus honoured is, however, still the same; and Durga, who destroyed more giants than all the rest of the Hindu divinities together, is, under all her numerous names and forms derived therefrom, no other than Parvati, Bhavani, or Devi, the sacti or personified energy of Siva.

The Yoni, the symbol of female energy, is the emblem of this goddess, as the Linga is that of her husband. This emblem is worshipped by the Sactis; and, in conjunction with the Linga, by the Saivas. It forms the rim or edge of the Argha, or cup, which encircles the Linga. (See figs. of the Linga, 1, 2, and 3 of plate 33.)


The next form under which I shall notice Parvati is that of Kali, or Maha Kali, the consort of Siva, in his destroying character of Time. As such, she is painted of a black or dark blue complexion. In Calcutta her images are usually seen of the last-mentioned colour. In plate 19, also taken from a model by Chit Roy, she is shewn as trampling (as the personification of Eternity) on the body of Siva (Time). In one hand she holds the exterminating sword; in another a human head; a third points downward, indicating, according to some, the destruction which surrounds her; and the other is raised upwards, in allusion to the future regeneration of nature by a new creation.

Mr. Ward, however, is of an opinion, which he has expressed respecting others of the deities, but which appears to be much at variance with the character of Kali, who is here annihilating Time itself, viz. that one of the two last-mentioned hands is bestowing a blessing, the other forbidding fear. Whatever her gestures may import, the image of this goddess is truly horrid; as are the devotional rites performed in honour of her. Her wild dishevelled hair reaching to her feet, her necklace of human heads, the wildness of her countenance, the tongue protruded from her distorted mouth, her cincture of blood-stained hands, and her position on the body of Siva, altogether convey in blended colours so powerful a personification of that dark character she is pretended to pourtray, that whatever we may think of their tastes, we cannot deny to the Hindus our full credit for the possession of most extraordinary and fertile powers of imagination. In the plate the appearance of this goddess could not be given with so much precision as in the coloured and ornamented model, which is a faithful representation of her as seen during the festivals in Calcutta. It has the body of a dark blue; the insides of the hands are red, as is also the circlet of hands round the waist. The heads which form the necklace have a ghastly appearance. Her tongue is protruded from her mouth, the sides of which are marked with blood. Her head-dress and other ornaments are splendidly adorned with gems of various kinds. The body of Siva is white.

Kali is also called the goddess of cemeteries, under which form she is described dancing with the infant Siva in her arms, surrounded by ghosts and goblins (likewise dancing) in a cemetery amongst the dead. A paragraph appeared some time ago in a Calcutta paper, which stated, that her images, under this form, were now worshipped by the Hindus as a propitiation against the destructive ravages of the cholera.

To this ferocious goddess sanguinary sacrifices are made. The Kalika Purana, which details, in due order and with much precision, the different descriptions of animals that are to be sacrificed, and the length of time by which this insatiate lady will be gratified and kept in good humour by each, ordains that one man (or a lion) will please her for a thousand years ; but that by the immolation of three men she will graciously condescend to be pleased one hundred thousand years. At present, her smiles are not courted for so long a period, nor I believe even for a thousand years, by any other sacrifices than those of animals ; that of human life, whatever practices may have formerly prevailed, being now strictly forbidden. Kids are usually sacrificed, which the priests allege immediately ascend to the heaven of Indra, and become musicians in his band.

A short abstract from the Rudhira dhya ya, or sanguinary chapter, quoted in the Asiatic Researches, from the work above mentioned, will enable the reader to form an opinion of the nature of the worship formerly practised; and which, in a great degree, still exists.

Through sacrifices princes obtain bliss, heaven, and victory over their enemies. Birds, tortoises, alligators, fish, nine species of wild animals, buffalos, bulls, goats, lions, tigers, men, blood drawn from the offerer's body, &c. &c. are proper oblations. From the blood drawn from fishes and tortoises, the goddess is pleased one month : a crocodile's will please her three; wild animals', nine; a wild bull's and a guana's, a year; antelope's and wild boar's, twelve years ; buffalo's, rhinoceros', and tiger's, a hundred; lion's and the human species, a thousand; and three of the latter, one hundred thousand. Bad flesh must not be offered ; and the sacrifice should be performed with an axe, which should be previously invoked by holy texts. The sacrificer must repeat the name of Kali, and pay her the compliment of saying “ Hrang, hring, Kali Kali! O, horridtoothed goddess ! eat, cut, destroy all the malignant; cut with this axe; bind, bind, seize, seize, drink blood; spheng, spheng : secure, secure ! salutation to Kali!” The blood may be presented in vessels of gold, silver, copper, brass, &c. &c., but not in an iron, pewter, tin, or a leaden one, or one made of the hide of an animal or the bark of a tree. On the sacrifice of a human being, the sacrificer is directed not to cast his eyes on the victim, but to present the head with them averted. The person of the vic

tim must be of good appearance, and properly prepared and decorated for the important occasion.

This long chapter of sanguinary ordinances contains many variations, according to the deity to whom the sacrifices are to be offered, and other circumstances; but I think I have stated sufficient to enable the reader to form a judgment on the subject. I shall, therefore, close it by a communication which may appear somewhat supererogatory; but which, as it is most expressly stated, I should not be justified in withholding. If, says the Puran, the severed head of the human victim smiles, it indicates increase of prosperity, and long life to the sacrificer, without doubt; and if it speak, whatever it says will come to pass.

Immense sums of money are annually spent in the worship of this terrific deity. There is, as I have mentioned in my account of Siva, a celebrated temple dedicated to her at Kalighat in the vicinity of Calcutta, or the city of Cali or Kali. In the same account I have also mentioned the impure sacrifices offered at it; to which, and the relation in the preceding page to this, I need only add, that on the occasion of the festivals of Kali, her temples are literally swimming with blood. An adequate delineation of the scene, and of the horribly disgusting appearance of the executioners and other attendants of the place, is scarcely possible, and would, indeed, afford no gratifying information to the reader.

The festivals of Kali are numerous, and her images, like those of Durga, are afterwards thrown into the river.


Is a form of Parvati as Kali, and, I imagine, the sacti of Siva, in the form of Kapali (which see in the third part of this volume). She is described as a naked woman with a necklace of skulls. Her head is almost severed from her body, and her blood is spouting into her mouth. In two of her hands she holds a sword and a skull. In a note on this subject in Mr. Ward's work, it is stated that this goddess was so insatiate of blood, that

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »