VIII. On the Religion and Literature of
BY FRANCIS BUCHANAN, DD
[Extracted from Asiatic Researches,
6 (1801): 163-308.
Note: The spelling has been modernised for this edition.]
IN the celebrated island of Ceylon, in the extensive empire of the Burma monarchs, and in the kingdoms of Siam and Cambodia, the prevailing religion is that of BOUDDHA, or GODAMA; and followers of the same doctrine are probably dispersed all over the populous and wide dominions of China, Cochinchina, Japan, and Tonkin. However absurd the tenets of this religion may be, yet, as influencing the conduct of so large a proportion of mankind, it becomes an object of great importance in the history of the human race. To those in particular who study the history and antiquities of Hindustan, a knowledge of the doctrine of GODAMA will, I doubt not, be highly curious; as I think that Mr. Chambers, the most judicious of our Indian antiquaries, has given very good reason for believing, that the worship of BOUDDHA once extended all over India, and was not rooted out by the Brahmens in the Decan so late as the ninth, or even as the twelfth century of the Christian era.1
Nor will this opinion, of the late introduction of the superstition now prevailing in Hindustan, be contradicted by the almost singular remain of Hindu history; the only one which has escaped the destructive research of the cunning Brahmen: I mean the history of Cashmere presented to the Sultan ACKBER on his first entrance into that kingdom. We are told2 that the Sultan caused the book to be translated, and of the translation ABUL FAZIL has given an abridgement. This informs us, that when [p.164] Cashmere was freed from an inundation, by which it had been covered, a certain Kushup brought the Brahmens to inhabit the new land; that after a long time a general assembly of the inhabitants was called, who elected a man celebrated for his virtue to be their king; and that from thenceforward monarchy was established in that delightful region. The name of the first successor to this king, that is mentioned, is OWNGUND, who was contemporary with KISHEN. From OWNGUND to KOTADEVY, the last native ruler, this history reckons 159 princes; and KOTADEVY was succeeded by a Mohammedan prince SHUMSHEDDEEN in the year of the Hegira 7412, or of our vulgar era 1342. The history makes these 159 princes to have reigned an astonishing length of time: but we have no number of years assigned for the reign of any of the first fifty-three princes, nay, eighteen only of them are at all named: of the next fifty-three princes, we find one reigning 300 years, and the others on the whole an incredible length of time. In such a case the safest ride is to take the last three dynasties as a guide, and these give us fifty-two princes in 504 years and some months, which is not quite ten years to a reign, and that is as much as ought to be admitted among eastern dynasties, where oppression always paves the way for revolt, where the line of succession is not clearly defined, and where an old uncle in most cases supplants the infant nephew. On this supposition of ten years for a reign, OWNGUND and KISHEN will be placed in the year before MAHOMMED 870, or before CHRIST 248. Now the Brahmens taken to Cashmere by KUSHUP could not be the Brahmen sect of priests, as they cultivated the earth, and were the only inhabitants of the country: but they must have been one of the Brachman nations, several of whom, according to PLINY, were dispersed over India;3 and these again, I conjecture, are the same with the Biamma of the Rahans, sup- [p.165] posed by them to have been the first inhabitants of the earth.4 That this must be the meaning of the history of Cashmere, seems plain: as we are told, Rajah JENNEH the forty-fifth prince, and who, according to my theory, must have lived about the year of CHRIST 202, "established in his reign the Brahmeny rites." His successor JELOWK, the most powerful of the princes of Cashmere, "tolerated the doctrine of Bowdh:" and in that delightful valley it was not till the reign of NERKH, the fifty-ninth prince, AD 342, "that the Brahmens got the better of the followers of Bowdh, and burned down their temples."
To such as have an opportunity, I would beg to recommend an enquiry into the religion of Nepal. In the account given of that country by father GIUSEPPE,5 it is stated, that there are in it two religions. The most ancient, professed by a sect who call themselves Baryesu, and who, from several circumstances mentioned by the father, seem to be worshippers of BOUDDHA. The other religion, now the more common, is that of the Brahmens of Hindustan.
"In Narhoara, the residence of the king of kings, or of' Guzerat, even after the Mahonunedan invasion in the eleventh century of our era, we find it mentioned in EDRISI, that the people continued to worship BODDAH."6
If the conjectures of Sir William Jones, relative to the inscriptions found at Mongheer, and on the pillar at Buddal,7 be well founded, then the governing power on the banks of the Ganges, as late as about the time of the birth of CHRIST, was of the sect of BOUDDHA. The Bralnnens indeed had then introduced themselves into Hindustan, and had obtained lands, and even the rank of prime minister to the great Rajah: but they had not persuaded him to change his religion; a change which when accom- [p.166] plished, proved equally destructive to the prince, and to the people. However idle and ridiculous the legends and notions of the worshippers of BOUDDHA maybe, they have been in a great measure adopted by the Brahmens, but with all their defects monstrously aggravated: rajahs and heroes are converted into gods, and impossibilities are heaped on improbabilities. No useful science have the Brahmen diffused among their followers; history they have totally abolished; morality they have depressed to the utmost; and the dignity and power of the altar they have erected on the ruins of the state, and the rights of the subject. Even the laws attributed to MENU, which, under the form in use among the Burmas, are not ill-suited for the purpose of an absolute monarchy, under the hands of the Brahmens have become the most abominable, .and degrading system of oppression, ever invented by the craft of designing men.
During my short stay in the Burma empire, aware of the interesting nature of the enquiry, I neglected no opportunity of making myself acquainted with the religious tenets of the Rahans: but from a want of knowledge in the language I should have obtained a very superficial view, had not Captain Symes given me the use of three treatises, which he procured from Vincentius Sangermano, an Italian priest residing at Rangoon. The first was a Cosmography extracted by Sangermano from various Burma writings, the second was a translation pf a small treatise, written by a late Zarado or king's confessor, with an intention of converting the Christians, the third was a translation of the book of ordination. These three I have united into one connectecl account, translating them from the original Latin, and intermixing them throughout with such observations as my personal acquaintance with the subject, and my reading have enabled me to collect. I regret exceedingly, that in my present situation I am not enabled to make the last more numerous, as I have [p.167] hardly any access to books: and I have to solicit the indulgence of the learned for errors, which may have happened in several of my notations, as I have been sometimes obliged to rely on my memory.
I begin with a translation of the
"Of the measures of magnitude, and time, commonly used in the writings of the Burmas.
"1. The Burmas conceive, that there are five species of atoms. The first is a fluid invisible to men; but visible to those superior beings called Nat: a fluid which pervades and penetrates all bodies. The second species of atoms are those very minute particles, which are seen floating in the air, when through any opening the sunbeams enter a chamber. The third species is that very subtle dust, which during the dry season, especially in the months of February and March, is raised aloft by the feet of man or of cattle, or by the wheels of wagons. The fourth species consists of the grosser particles of the same dust, which on account of their weight do not fly through the air, but remain near the earth. The last and fifth species of atoms are those particles which fall to the ground, when letters are written with an iron style on palmira leaves: the manner of writing in use among these people. Now thirty-six of the first species of atoms make one of the second, thirty-six of the second one of the third, and so forth. Seven of the fifth or last species are equal in size to a louse of the human head, seven lice are equal to one grain of rice, seven grains of rice are equal to one inch, twelve inches to one palm, two palms to one cubit, seven cubits to one ta, twenty ta to one usaba, eight usaba to one gaunt, four gaunt to one juzana. The juzana contains six Burma leagues, and four ratoen. The [p.168] four ratoen are equal to 400 ta, or 2,800 cubits.8 Again, the Burma writings reckon twelve hairs equal to one grain of rice, four grains of rice equal to one finger, twelve fingers equal to one foot, and the common stature of a man is seven feet or four cubits."
These measures, it is to be observed, are not in use among the Burmas: but have been introduced from India along with their books,
''II. The time in which the forefinger, when drawn back from the thumb, will recover its proper position, is called charasi, which may be translated a second: ten charasi make one pian, six pian one bizana, or minute, sixty bizana one hour, sixty hours one day, thirty days one month, twelve months one year."
Such Is the account of the Burma measurement of time given by the missionary: but it is by no means complete. More accurate divisions have taken place, in a great measure, I apprehend, owing to the introduction of the Brahmens. The Rahans or priests of GODAMA being entirely prohibited from the study of astrology, and the people being much addicted to divination of all kinds, the Brahmens have taken advantage of their credulity, and all over India beyond the Ganges. have established themselves in considerable numbers. We are not however to conceive, that they have any concern in the religion of these countries: they are merely employed about the courts, and in the houses of the great, as the Chaldeans were about the kings of Persia, as sooth-sayers and wise men. These Brahmens yearly com- [p.169] pose almanacs, of which I brought several from Amarapura. Before an audience is given on solemn occasions, they perform incantations under the throne of the king, or of great men: they are consulted on all matters of importance, to determine the fortunate hour or season in which these ought to be undertaken: they bestow on their protectors, amulets, charms, and the like. By such means the Brahmens have rendered themselves of great importance in the Burma empire, and have procured many privileges, confirmed even by the written law of the kingdom. Their being mentioned in the Damathat, or code of laws commonly attributed to MENU, by no means however appears to me a clear proof that the Brahmens were introduced into the Burma kingdom as early as that code: for we are told in the preface, that although all the laws are commonly attributed to MENU, yet that many alterations and additions have been made by different princes according to the exigencies of the times. For this and other reasons I am inclined to think that the introduction of the Brahmens into the Burma kingdom is a very recent event. I spoke with none of them who had not himself come from Cussay or Arakan, or who was not the first in descent from such as had come from those countries: and they all either were, or affected to be, very ignorant of the country. Besides, these laws of MENU were introduced from Ceylon, a country of which the indigenous inhabitants never have adopted the religion of the Brahmens.
The Burmas, in whatever manner they may have obtained it, have the knowledge of a solar year, consisting of 365 days, and commencing on the 10th of April. Like most nations they also use a week of seven days, named after the planets, Sunday Ta-nayn-ga-nue, Monday Ta-nayn-la, Tuesday Ayn-ga, Wednesday Boud-dha-ha, Thursday Kia-sa-ba-da, Friday Thouh-kla, Saturday Thana.
The common year, however, of the Burmas is lunar; and by this year are regulated their holidays and festivals. It is composed of twelve months, which alternately consist of thirty and twenty-nine days, as follows;
Of 30 days. 1 Ta'goo. 3 Na-miaung. 5 Wag-goun. 7 Sa-deen-glut. 9 Na-to. 11 Ta-bu-dua.
Of 29 days. 2 Kassoun. 4 Wa-goo. 6 Ta'da-lay. 8 Ta-zaung-mo. 10 Pya-za. 12 Ta-boun.
This being eleven days shorter than their solar year, in order to make the
beginning of Ta-goo coincide with our 18th of April, the first day of their
solar year, the Burmas every third year add an
intercalary moon. This seems to have been the extent of chronological science
in Hindustan, during the prevalence of the doctrine of BOUDDHA, as the Rahans
will go no farther. But it was soon discovered by the Brahmens, that this contrivance would not make the
commencements of the lunar and solar years coincide. They therefore wish from
time to time to introduce other intercalary
moons, in order to make the festivals occur at the proper season. The present
king, who is said to be a studious and intelligent prince, was convinced of the
propriety of the Brahmens advice, and
persuaded the Rahans of the capital to add an intercalary moon during the year
we were there. He had not however the same success in the more distant
provinces; for although very strong
measures were taken at Rangoon, such as ordering the people for some days not
to supply the Rahans with provisions, yet in the end the obstinacy of the clergy
prevailed, and they celebrated a
great festival a month earlier at Rangoon, than was done at Amarapura.
obstinacy the Rahans were probably in a great measure instigated by a
jealousy, which they not without reason
entertain against such dangerous intruders as the Brahmens; and they were
encouraged to persist by the ignorance of those about the king. Of this
ignorance his majesty was very sensible, and
was extremely desirous of procuring from Bengal some learned Brahmens and proper
books. None of those [p.171]
I saw in the empire could read Sanscrit, and all their books were in the
common dialect of Bengal.
The 1st of October 1795, was at Amarapura Kiasabada the 19th of Sadeengiut, in the year of the Burma era 1157; so that the reckoning, at that place at least, agreed very well with the solar year: but I observed that the Burmas in general, if not always, antedated by one day the four phases of the moon, which are their common holidays. I did not howevcr learn, whether this proceeded from their being unable to ascertain the true time of the change of the moon, or if it was only an occasional circumstance, arising from some farther contrivance used to bring the solar and lunar years to coincide. In the common reckoning of time the Burmas divide the moon into two parts, the light and the dark moon: the first containing the days during which the moon is on the increase, and the second, those in which she is in the wane. Thus for instance, the 14th of Sadeengiut is called the 14th of the light moon Sadeengiut: but the I6th is called the 1st of the dark moon Sadeengiut.
Whence the Burmas date their era I could not from them learn. Joannes Moses, Akunwun or collector of the land tax for the province of Pegu, the most intelligent man with whom we conversed, did not seem to know. He said that whenever the king thought the years of the era too many, he changed it. The fact however, I believe, is, that this era commencing in our year 635 is that used by the astronomers of Siam, and from them, as a more polished nation, it has passed to the Burmas, whose pride hindered them from acknowledging the truth.9
Having mentioned the fondness of these people for divination, I think no place will suit better than this, to introduce what I observed among them on [p.172] that subject; for they consider it as the most useful and noble of sciences. We are not however to believe, that it is always used from ignorance. I am persuaded, that, like the augurs among the Romans, the Brahmens are often called upon for political purposes. When pressed to dispatch business, which the government wish to defer, the easiest way of procuring delay is for the Brahmen to mention a distant day as the favourable time: or when insulted by a nation of whom they are afraid, the minds of the people can easily be quieted, by a distant time being found propitious for revenge. Although I am convinced that political advantage is thus taken of the art, yet there can be no doubt, but that the greater part, even of the best informed among the people, are firmly persuaded of its existence.
No person will commence the building of a house, a journey, or the most trifling undertaking, without consulting some man of skill to find a fortunate day or hour. Friday is a most unlucky day, on which no business must be commenced. I saw several men of some rank, who had got from the king small boxes of theriac, or of something like it, and which they pretended would render them invulnerable. I was often asked for medicines, that would render the body impenetrable to a sword or musket ball, and on answering that I knew of none such, my medical skill was held in very low estimation. Indeed every Burma doctor has at the end of his book some charms, and what are called magical squares of figures, which he copies, and gives to be worn by his patients. And although these squares are all of uneven numbers, and consequently of the easiest construction, yet the ignorant multitude repose great confidence in their virtue. Some men whom we saw, had small bits of gold or jewels introduced under the skin of their arms, in order to render themselves invulnerable: and the tattooing on the legs and thighs of the Burma men they not only think ornamental, but a preservative against the bite of snakes. Almost every man of [p.173] any education pretends to a skill in cheiromancy, or the foretelling of a person's fortune by looking at the palms of his hands. Prophecies and dreams are also in great credit among the Burmas, as among all rude and ignorant nations. We were informed that a prophecy having lately been current, fore-telling that Pegu would again be the seat of government, the king was thrown into considerable anxiety, and thinking to elude the prophecy, had sent orders to the Myoowun (or governor of the province) of Haynthawade, to remove the seat of his government from Rangoon to Pegu then in ruins. The late Myoowun was so attached to Rangoon, that he always found some excuse for delaying the execution of the order: but while we were in the Burma empire, his successor was busily employed in rebuilding Pegu, and having made considerable progress, had taken up his residence in that city. Nor did he appear to be more exempt from such credulity than his master. We were told, when at Pegu, that he was often employed in search of a hidden treasure, in consequence of some directions he had received in a dream: and that he often went into the woods to look for a temple, which, it was alleged, had the power of rendering itself visible or invisible. All good people are in consternation on account of certain robbers, who by a power in magic are supposed able to change themselves into tigers, or other wild beasts, and thus without a danger of detection can commit their nocturnal spoils. The grand art of astrology, however, seems to be chiefly practised, and understood by the Brahmens. Yet, while at Arammattana or Pougan, I procured a treatise on this subject written in the Burma language which, with all the other manuscripts I brought from the country, are now in the possession of Sir John Murray, at whose request I made the collection. However great the proficiency of the Brahmens in astrology may be, I was informed by my friend the Missionary, that they were very ignorant in astronomy. Although they sometimes attempt to calculate [p.174] eclipses, yet they pretend not to ascertain either the hour of their commencement, or the extent of the obscuration. That his account was just, I make no doubt; as an eclipse of the moon appeared during our stay at Amarapura, which had eluded their science, and which they attempted to discredit. It would indeed appear from a treatise of Mr. Samuel Davis,10 that the time of the full moon, and the duration of the eclipse, found by the rules given in the Surya Siddhanta, differ considerably from the truth; and that although the rules given in the Siddhanta Rahasifa, and other more modern books, make a nearer approach, yet that they are far from being correct; so that even the Brahmens of Hindustan are not much farther advanced than those of Amarapura, notwithstanding the improvements they have introduced from time to time, perhaps as they were able gradually to procure a little better information from their conquerors, Mohammedans and Christians.11
After this long digression. I shall return to the Cosmographia.
OF THE UNIVERSE
"The Universe is called by the Burmas, Logha, which signifies successive
destruction and reproduction: because it is conceived, as we shall afterwards
mention, that the Universe, after it has
been destroyed either by fire, water, or wind, is again of itself restored to
its ancient form. Our earth the Burmas do not, like us, conceive to be
spherical: but they suppose it to be a circular plane
elevated somewhat in the centre: so that there is everywhere from the centre to the
[p.175] circumference some declivity. This earth is entirely surrounded by a chain of very
lofty mountains called Zetchiavala.12 From the surface of the sea
these hills extend each way, up and down, 82,000 juzana. The diameter of this earth is
1,203,400 juzana; its circumference is
three times its diameter; and its thickness 240,000 juzana. The half of this
depth is dust. The remaining and lower half
consists of a compact rock, which is named Sila Pathavay. This immense body of
dust and rock is supported by a double thickness of water, and that again by
twice its thickness of air; below
which the Burmas suppose to be a vacuum. Besides this earth of ours, it is
imagined that there are of the same form 10,100,000 others, which mutually
touch in three points, forming between
them a similar number of equilateral spaces, which on account of the sun's rays
not reaching them, are filled with water intensely cold. The depth of these
10,100,000 triangular spaces is 84,000 juzana, and each of their sides is 3,000
juzana in length.13
"II. In the middle of the most elevated part of our earth, the Burma writings place Mienmo, the largest of all mountains,14 it is elevated above [p.176] the surface of the sea 84,000 juzana, and descends as much below. If we take a large cask, and immerse one half of it under water, with one of the ends uppermost, we shall have an exact representation of the figure, situation, and position of Miemno. The diameter of the superior plane surface of this mountain is 48,000 juzana. This immense bulk is supported on three feet, which are three carbuncles, each 3,000 juzana high, and which are connected to Sila Pathavy. The eastern face of Mienmo is silver, the western glass, the northern gold, and the southern face is pale-coloured carbuncle. Seven chains of hills, like so many belts, every where surround the king of mountains Miemno: and in the intervals between these chains are seven rivers called Sida,15 because their white waters are limpid like crystal, and unable from their lightness to support even the smallest feather. The height of these hills, and the width and depth of these rivers, decrease, as they are more distant from Miemno, and that in a duplicate proportion: thus the first range of hills which called Jugando, is in height 84,000 juzana; and the first great Sida or river, which runs between Mienmo and Jugando, is of the same width and depth: the second chain of hills is 42,000 juzana high; and the second Sida of equal width and depth: and thus the others diminish in a similar proportion."
"III. Opposite to the four cardinal parts of Mienmo, are placed in the middle of the ocean, four great islands, the habitations of men, and of other animals. The eastern island named Pioppavidtha, is shaped like the moon in her quarters, and is in circumference 91,000 juzana. The western island, which is like the full moon, is named Amaragoga, and has a similar circum- [p.177] ference. Unchegru, the northern island, is square, and its circumference is 24,000 juzana. Finally, the southern island, which we inhabit, and which is called Zabudiba, is shaped like a trapezium, and is 30,000 juzana in circumference. These names are taken from certain great trees, which are the sacred insignia of each particular island: thus, because the sacred tree of the southern island is Zahu, the island is named Zabudiba, or the island of the tree Zabu; diba, in the Pali language, signifying island."16
"IV. Besides these four large islands, the Burma writings allow 2,000 of a smaller size, 300 belonging to each of the larger ones. All these small islands are of the same shape with that on which they depend. Except these, the Burmas admit of nothing but a vast and impassable ocean. They also say, that the four different faces of Mienmo communicate their respective colours, not only to the seas lying opposite to them, but also to the islands and their inhabitants. Thus, because the eastern face of Mienmo is silver, the eastern island and its inhabitants, its trees and rivers, with all the eastern sea as far as mount Zetchiavala, are white like milk. In a similar manner, the glass face on the west side of Mienmo communicates a green colour to the great western island, and to the 500 small islands by which it is surrounded, and also to all that part of the ocean which lies to the west of Mienmo. They speak in a similar manner of the two other parts; the northern and the southern: [p.178] and on this account the great ocean is divided into four seas; the white, the green, the yellow, and the brown.
"V. The Burmas do not suppose the ocean to be every where of the same depth. The sea, lying between each of the large islands and its depending small ones, has little depth, and is so smooth as to be passable with convenience in ships: but the seas interposed between the great islands, and also those which lie on one hand between Mienmo and the great islands, and on the other between them and Zetchiavala, have the enormous depth of 84,000 juzana. In these seas the waves rise to the height of sixty or seventy juzana; in them there are frequent and dreadful whirlpools, capable of swallowing up the largest ships; and monstrous and enormous fishes, 500 nay even a 1000 juzana in length. When these fishes simply move, they cause the water as it were to boil: but when they leap up with their whole bodies, they raise tempests extending from 500 to 80 juzana. These seas are therefore inaccessible to ships.17 It is related in the Burma writings, that a Kula (European) ship, having ventured to penetrate into them, had been swallowed up: and hence it is concluded, that there can be no communication between the four great islands. The Burmas therefore suppose, that the ships which arrive from Europe, in their kingdom, come from some of the small islands belonging to the great isle Zabudiba: and thence the Europeans are commonly "called the inhabitants of the small islands." Although religion and ignorance induced the Burmas, on their first acquaintance with Europeans, to form such mean opinions of them; yet better information has corrected their error, and always at Amarapura heard Britain mentioned by the name of Pyee-gye, or the great kingdom.
OF BEINGS LIVING IN THE UNIVERSE, OF THEIR HAPPINESS AND MISERY, AND OF THE DURATION OF THEIR LIVES.
"VI. The Burma writings divide all living beings into three kinds: 1st,
or generating beings; 2d, Rupa, or beings which are material, but do not
generate; and 3d, Arupa, or immaterial
beings or spirits. These three kinds are again subdivided into thirty-one
species, each of which has its proper bon or habitation. The first kind, or the
Chama, contains eleven species, bon, or states
of existence: seven of which are states of happiness, and four of misery, which
last are called Apé. The first state of happy existence contains men: the other
six happy states are composed of Nat,
or superior beings. The four Apé are infernal states, in which beings are
punished for former crimes. The second kind of beings, the Rupa, have sixteen
bon or habitations: and four belong to the Arupa, or beings destitute of body."
"VII. Before I proceed to give a topographical description of these habitations, with an account of the beings which they contain, it will be necessary to explain some collateral circumstances.
"1st, It is well known that the Burma writings admit of transmigration; but the notions contained in them on this subject differ from those commonly received; for it is the usual opinion that the souls, which animate bodies, after the death of these bodies pass into others: On the contrary, the Burma writings allege, that in death, whether of man, beast, or of any living being, (for they believe all living beings to possess souls,) the soul perishes with the body, and they allege, that after this dissolution, out of the same materials another being arises, which, according to the good or bad actions of the former life, becomes either a man or an animal, or a Nat, [p.180] or a Rupa, &c. And they further allege, that beings are continually revolving in these changes, for the duration of one or more worlds, until they have performed such actions as entitle them to Nieban, the most perfect of all states, consisting in a kind of annihilation, in which beings are free from change, misery, death, sickness, or old age."
For a further account of Nieban the reader may consult the treatise of the Zarado afterwards translated. Annihilation used in the text by my friend, and in general by the missionaries, when treating on this subject, is a very inaccurate term. Nieban implies the being exempted from all the miseries incident to humanity, but by no means annihilation. Neither does Nieban imply absorption into the divine essence; a doctrine common I believe to Plato and the Brahmens, and probably borrowed from the Magi. The sect of GODAMA esteem the opinion of a divine being, who created the universe, to be highly impious. It might be supposed, that this doctrine of transmigration would, among the worshippers of GODAMA, prevent the belief in ghosts or apparitions of the dead, but I found this not to be the case. The death of some persons belonging to the Chinese embassy, who were lodged near us during our stay at Amarapura, produced great consternation among all the women and children in the neighbourhood; their ghosts being supposed more likely to be restless than those of the natives.
"2dly, The Burma writings do not conceive one world, but an infinite number, one constantly succeeding another; so that when one is destroyed, another of the same form and structure arises, according to a certain general law, which they call dammada, and which maybe interpreted fate. Which was the first world, and which will be the last, they do not pretend to know: nay they say, that even GODAMA did not obtain this [p.181] knowledge. Hence however several of the Burma doctors conclude, that these worlds never had a beginning, and never will have an end: that is to say, that the successive destructions and reproductions of the world, resemble a great wheel, in which we can point out neither beginning nor end."
"VIII. Before we treat of the duration of life attributed to the above-mentioned beings, it will be necessary to give some idea of the wonderful duration which the Burma writings assign to one world. They say that the age of the men inhabiting this southern island has not always been the same with what it is at present, and that it will not continue to be the same: but that it is lengthened or shortened according to the general merit or demerit of mens' actions. The life of the first man, or of the first inhabitants of Zabudiba, extended to one Assenchii. Now the Assenchii is an infinite number of years, of which to give an idea, the Burma doctors say, that if for three years it should rain incessantly over the whole surface of this earth, which is 1,203,400 juzana in diameter, the number of drops of rain failing in such a space and time, although far exceeding human conception, would only equal the number of years contained in one Assenchii. After these first inhabitants, their children and grandchildren had gradually and successively shorter lives, in proportion as they became less virtuous: and this gradual decrease continued till men came to live ten years only, the duration of the life of men in their greatest state of wickedness. The children of these, considering the cause of their parents short life, and dedicating themselves more to the practice of virtue, became worthy of living twenty years. Afterwards their children and grandchildren, increasing gradually in the performance of good works, had their lives protracted to 30, 40, 80, 100, 1,000, 10,000 years, and finally came to live one Assenchii. Now this successive [p.182] decrement in the duration of the life of man from one Assenchii to ten years, followed by an increase from ten years to one Assenchii must take place sixty-four times after the reproduction of a world, before that world will be again destroyed. In the present world eleven of these changes have taken place, nor will it be destroyed till it has passed through fifty-three more changes. The time in which one of these successive decrements and augmentations of ages take place, is called Andrakat; sixty-four Andrakat make one Assenchiekat; four Assenchiekat make one Mahakat."
"IX. Let us now consider the happiness and misery of the different living beings; and the bon or habitations which they possess. We shall begin with the happy beings, and first of all with man, the first happy species of these beings called Chama.18
"The diameter of this southern island is 10,000 juzana. If we subtract 3,000 juzana of woods and deserts, and 4,000 of water, which occupy the surface of this island, there will remain 3,000 juzana, the diameter of the bon or habitation of men. The duration of the life, which men at present enjoy, is reckoned somewhat long, when it extends to eighty years. Amongst us some are rich, others poor; some learned and of a quick understanding, others ignorant and stupid; some are oppressed with grief and cares, others free from anxiety and fear pass their lives in tranquillity and happiness; some are low and held in reproach, others are honoured and raised to the rank of princes, or of officers; some are deformed, others are beautiful; and finally, some die soon, while others enjoy long life. These different conditions and states among men are bestowed on them by GODAMA, according to the merit or demerit of the actions performed by them in a former life: but of this we shall afterwards have occasion to treat more at length."
"X. Let us now consider the opinions of the Burmas concerning the inhabitants,
or men of the other three great islands. The life of the inhabitants of
Pioppavideha, and Amaragoga, is not liable,
like ours, to increase and diminution; but always lasts for 500 years. The
form of their countenances resembles, respectively, that of the islands they
inhabit; that of the eastern islanders being like
the moon in her quarter, and that of the western round like a full moon. These
islanders also differ from us in their stature; those of Pioppavideha being
nine cubits high, and those of
Amaragoga being six. In their manners, agriculture, commerce, and arts, these
islanders resemble us of Zabudiba. Each of the four great islands has its
peculiar sacred tree, which being
produced at the beginning of the world of its own accord, and by the power of
fate, will continue as long as the world itself. The height of these trees is
said to be 100 juzana, and the branches
extend in a circle on every side to the distance of fifty juzana; so that the
whole circuit of each tree is 300 juzana, and the trunk is eighteen juzana in
"XI. The inhabitants of the northern island differ totally from those of the others: for they neither practise agriculture, commerce, nor any other profession. There grows in their island a tree called Padeza-bayn, on which, in place of fruit, hang precious garments of every kind: so that from these trees the inhabitants are supplied with all manner of clothing. Neither have the inhabitants of Unchegru any need to cultivate the ground; as the same Padeza-bayn produces a certain excellent kind of rice, which has no husk. Some of this rice, when the natives are hungry, they put on a certain kind of stone called Zotrassa, which immediately of itself emits fire, and dresses the rice: and as soon as this is done, the fire dies away. Whilst these people are eating their rice, various meats of the most exquisite flavour, ac- [p.184] cording to the particular taste of each person, appear on the leaves and branches of the Padeza-bayn. This food is of such a nature, substance, and nourishment, that what is prepared for one person, would abundantly serve many: and after being eat, it takes away all sensation of hunger for seven days. When the repast is finished, the remains of their own accord disappear. From such a diet the natives of Unchegru never suffer any sickness; nor have they any inconvenience from old age, but live for a thousand years happy and tranquil in continual vigour, always in their persons resembling youths of eighteen years.
"The manner in which these islanders contract marriage, is remarkable. Women there are not subject to the common sexual infirmities, and bear their children without any pain. When their time comes, they bring forth their children in the streets, and there leave them. The children, though thus forsaken by their parents, do die: for the passengers put the extremities of their fingers into the mouths of the infants, who from thence suck a most exquisite nectareous liquor, by which they are refreshed and nourished, for seven days, in which time they become full grown. No one then knows his own relations; not only for the above-mentioned reason; but also because all the inhabitants of the northern island are of the same form and colour. Whenever therefore a man and woman struck with mutual love wish to contract marriage, they retire under the shade of a certain most agreeable kind of a tree. If they be not nearly related, this tree bends down its branches and leaves, covering them with a delightful bower, where they consummate their marriage: but if they be very nearly related, the tree neither bends down its branches nor leaves: and they then knowing their consanguinity immediately abstain from any farther connection. These islanders are not amorous: for they never perform the conjugal rites more than ten times: many abstain [p.185] from them during their whole lives; and many, after having performed them six or seven times, become, as if it were, perfect men and holy, who have overcome all their passions, and all the desires of their minds. For these reasons in this island no one weeps, no one grieves at the death of another: but as soon as a person dies, the body is deposited in a certain place, where very large birds, destined by fate for that purpose, carry it away to another part of the island, and there devour it. Although these islanders are thirteen cubits high, they are very handsome, especially the women, who excel in softness, suppleness, and elegance of limbs. They are of a golden colour, of which, as we have said, the whole island participates, from its being opposite to the golden side of Mienmo.
"This northern island, besides, is of all others the most agreeable. In it there is neither hot, nor cold, nor rainy season, nor is there any intemperance in the air. It contains no ferocious beasts, no serpents, nor poisonous insects, that infest the life of man. Its happy inhabitants require no houses, but live their whole lives safe and tranquil in the open air. Every where it abounds with the most beautiful trees, of a golden colour, from whence hang, in profusion and variety, the most delicious fruits, and the sweetest scented flowers. The same trees pour forth most shining gums, which serve the natives for perfumed ointments. The whole island flows with streams of sandalwood water, in which the natives sport and swim. But although these northern islanders thus excel the others in happiness; they are inferior to those of the south in courtesy, prudence, and cunning." Cunning among all the worshippers of BOUDDHA is esteemed a great virtue; and I much suspect, from the practise, that the doctrine of the simple Pandits, as Sir W. Jones is pleased to call them, has not in this point tended to improve the morals of their Hindu converts.
"XII. The northern, eastern, and Western-islanders, after death, do not pass
into the superior habitations of the Nat, nor into the interior of the Apé or
damned, as do the inhabitants of our
southern island Zabudiba; but are constantly born anew, inhabitants of the
same island to which they formerly belonged. And although this in some respects
be desirable, especially to the
inhabitants of the northern island; yet, whoever is endowed with reason and
judgment, say the Burma doctors, would not wish to become an inhabitant of the
northern, in preference to the
southern island; for it is in this last only that a person, by the merit of his
good actions, can raise himself to the superior habitations of the Nat,
or to that most perfect of all states called Nieban.
Hence it is that, in the Burma scriptures, this southern island is called the
Ford of Nieban."
"XIII. After mankind, come the six ranks of Nat or genii, and their habitations, which are called:—1. Zadumaharit, 2. Tavatduza, 3. Jama, 4. Dussida, 5. Neinmanarati, 6. Paraneimmatavassanti;19 besides these there arc the Rupa and Arupa. The bon or habitations of the Nat are thus disposed; in the plane commencing at the summit of Jugando, and thus extending from the middle of Mienmo to the mountains Zetchiavala which surround this earth, is the habitation of the first rank of Nat, called Zadumaharit. To this rank belong the sun, moon, planets, and stars, which, according to the Burma writings, are the palaces of certain Nat called Zadumaharit. Beginning at the summit of Mienmo, and extending from thence in a plane to Zetchiavala, is the habitation of the second rank of Nat called Tavattinza. Forty-two thousand juzana above the Tavateinza, is the habitation of Jama: and above that, always at the same distance of 42,000 juzana from each other, are the habitations of the other [p.187] three ranks of Nat. All these habitations are parallel planes extending to the perpendicular of Zetchiavala. Above the bons of the Nat are those of the sixteen Rupa, which are thus disposed:—Five hundred and fifty-eight thousand juzana above the highest habitation of the Nat, are three habitations of Rupa, lying in the same plane, in the form of an equilateral triangle; each habitation being distant from the others 558,000 juzana: the Rupa, that dwell here, are called the first Zian. At the same perpendicular distance of 558,000 juzana, are three other habitations of Rupa, in the same form and disposition; and the Rupa which occupy them, are called the second Zian. In a like manner, 558,000 juzana shove these, lie three other habitations, whose inhabitants are called the third Zian, Above these also 558,000 juzana, lie, in the same plane, the two bon of the fourth Zian. The other five bon of the Rupa, are placed one above another, at the mutual distance of 556,000 juzana. And also, one above the other, and at the same distance, are disposed the four habitations of Arupa, or incorporeal beings. Such is the distance from the highest dwellings of these Arupa to this our earth, say the Burma doctors, that a rock thrown from it would take four years to reach the ground: but I doubt, says the missionary, if this be conformable to our observations on accelerated motion."
"XIV. Let us next relate the happiness, and length of life, of the first kind of Nat called Zadumaharit. The government of this habitation is divided among four kings, or princes of the genii. The capital city of the first is situated to the east of Mienmo, on the summit of Jugando. It extends, in length and breadth, 1,000 juzana. When we speak of the capital of the Nat Tavateinza, we shall have an opportunity of describing the gates, ways, and other things belonging to this superb city; as they are the same in both. The palace of this king extends twenty-five juzana in every di- [p.188] rection, and all its pillars, walls, and beams, are of silver. The capital of the second king of these Nat is to the north of Mienmo; that of the third to the west; and that of the fourth to the south. All these cities have the same shape and size with the first. In the whole of this habitation grows the Padeza-bayn, on which, in place of fruit, hang precious garments, the most exquisite viands, and whatever can afford delight to the Nat, either in ornament or in feasting. Every where in it are to be seen running streams, lakes, and the most pleasant gardens. On the whole, this habitation is filled with delights. These Nat live 500 of their years, which are equal to 9,000,000 of ours; their stature is half a juzana. In this habitation, as well as in those of the superior Nat, are males and females; who perform matrimonial duties in the same manner as mankind;20 and here it is to be observed, that the beings of the superior, habitations are not nourished at the breasts of their mothers, as happens on earth, but are born perfect, as if they were fifteen years old. The Nat of this habitation have subject to them certain genii of an inferior rank, but also called Nat. These are giants, great birds, evil genii, dragons, and the like, which inhabit on the descent of mount Jugando. In this habitation also grows a great sacred tree, which, like those on the four great islands of the earth, will last as long as the world."
"XV. We have said, that to the habitation Zadumaharit belong the sun, moon, and stars, which are the palaces of those Nat destined by fate to give light to men, to divide the day from night, to distinguish years, seasons, and months, and to presage good or ill fortune to mankind: this therefore is the proper place to speak of Burma astronomy. The Burma writings mention eight planets, namely, the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and another [p.189] one named Rahu, which is invisible.21 The Sun, or palace of the Nat so called, is fifty juzana in diameter. This palace is within gold, and without crystal; and because gold and crystal are by nature hot, the rays of the sun always occasion heat. The Moon is the palace of the Nat so called, and is forty-nine juzana in diameter. Without, it is silver, and within carbuncle; and because silver and carbuncle are by nature cold, therefore the rays of the Moon are cold. Mars has a diameter of twelve juzana, Mercury of fifteen, Jupiter of seventeen, Venus of nineteen, and Saturn of thirteen; and their circumferences are triple their respective diameter.22 The Burmas do not assign any measure to the fixed stars. They do not suppose that the sun, moon, and stars, revolve round the earth; but that they revolve round the great mountain Mienmo in a circle, the plane of which is parallel to the earth. The stars they suppose are constant in their motion, neither declining to the north, or south: but the sun, moon, and other planets, they conceive, as we do, to have a declination; and say that the sun goes from the north to the south, and on the contrary from the south to the north, always touching the twelve constellations, which we call the twelve signs of the Zodiac: and they allow, that, in the space of one year, the sun returns to the same place in the heavens from whence he had set out. This same revolution, which by the sun is performed in one year, is by the moon performed in one month. The Burmas di- [p.190] vide the year into three seasons, the hot, the rainy, and the cold: and in order to distinguish these seasons, although they believe the sun and moon decline by a daily motion, yet they suppose three roads in heaven; a road within, a road in the middle, and a road without. The inner road is nearest Miemno; and when the sun enters it, the rainy season commences; when he enters the middle road, the hot season commences; and when he enters the outer road, the cold begins. By these three roads, which are distant from each other 39,093 juzana, that immense space, which lies between Mienmo and Zetchiavala, is divided into four great zones. The inner road corresponds to our summer solstice, the middle to our equinox, and the outer to our winter solstice; or, to speak more accurately, the middle road is the Equator, the inner the tropic of Cancer, and the outer the tropic of Capricorn. Besides these three roads of the sun, the Burma writings maintain, that there are three paths, one above the other; by which means they admit, as well as we do, although in a different manner, that the sun at some times is more near the earth, and at others more remote. The highest of these paths, and the most remote from us, is the path of the elephant; the middle is the path of the ox: the lowest is the path of the goat, because that animal delights in dry and warm places: when therefore the sun is in the goat's path, it produces great heat and dryness in the earth. Thus also, when the sun is in the higher path, we experience heavy rain, and great cold; this path is therefore named after the elephant, an animal that frequents cool and moist places. It is not supposed that the sun revolves through these paths according to any general law: but his motion in them depends on the will of mankind. When man acts with rectitude, and observes the laws, the sun moves in the middle path, which is highly salutary: but when he violates the laws, the sun moves either in the [p.191] upper or lower path, with much injury both to the produce of the earth, and the health of the people. The sun's nation is quicker than that of the moon; for when he moves in the road next Miemno, he advances daily 1,000,000 juzana; when in the middle road, 2,000,000; and when in the outer, 3,000,000 juzana. On account of this diurnal revolution of the sun, when in the southern island Zabudiba it is midday, then in the northern it is midnight, in the eastern island the sun sets, and in the western it rises.
"Although the sun, moon, and stars, appear to our eyes round, yet, say the Burmas, we are by no means to believe them spheres: for they are tapering, and appear round to us, in the same manner as does the light of a candle when viewed from a distance; and this the Burma doctors think confirmed by an example related in their books:—Formerly a prince of the Nat desired to see and converse with a certain great king of this island Zabudiba, who by his many virtues had become highly celebrated. For this purpose the prince sent his chariot, with many Nat attendants, to conduct the king to his presence. The chariot appeared to mankind in the beginning of the evening along with the moon then rising in the horizon, and was supposed by every one to be another moon, till it came near to the palace of the king."
"XVI. Before we finish our account of the Burma astronomy, some other circumstances, relating to this science, and to meteorology, may be mentioned.
"It has been already stated, that the Burma writings admit of an eighth planet, named Rahu, which gives no light, and on this account is not visible to mankind. The form of Rahu is thus described. His stature is 48,000 juzana: the breadth of his breast 12,000, of his head 900, of his forehead, his nostrils and mouth 300, the thickness of his fingers 50 juzana; of his feet and [p.192] hands 200. When this monstrous and foul planet, who like the others is a Nat, is inflamed with envy at the brightness of the sun or moon, he descends into their path, and devours, or rather takes them into his mouth: but he is soon obliged to spit them out, for if he retained them long, they would burst his head by the constant tendency which they have to pursue their course. At other times he covers them with his chin, or licks them with his immense tongue. In this manner the Burma writings explain eclipses of the sun and moon, both total and partial, making the duration of the eclipse depend on the time that Rahu retains the planet in his mouth, or under his chin. The Rahans say, that every three years Rahu attacks the sun, and every half year the moon. These eclipses however are not always visible to the inhabitants of this southern island; but although they may be invisible here, they are not so to the inhabitants of the other islands, according as the sun and moon may be opposite to them at the time of the eclipse.
"The physical cause of the phases of the moon, assigned in the Burma writings, is this: When the moon is in conjunction, she can give no light, because the sun is perpendicularly over her in the same manner as a house at noon gives no shadow:23 but as the moon recedes daily from the sun 100,000 juzana, that part of it which is freed from the disk of the sun, gives light; and this light increases daily, as the two luminaries get at a greater distance; in the same manner as a house produces a larger and larger shadow, in proportion as the sun advances to the west.
"Relative to the heat and cold which we experience at different seasons of the year, the Burmas say, that from the vernal equinox to autumn, the sun is always tending o the north, whilst at the same time the moon [p.193] inclines to the south. The season is then hot, because of the prevalence of the sun's rays, which are by nature hot. On the contrary, from the autumnal equinox to the vernal, the sun inclining to the south, and the moon to the north, we experience cold, from the predominancy of the moon's rays, which are by nature cold.
"For the production of rain, seven causes are chiefly assigned; part of which are physical, and part moral, 1st, The power Naga, or of serpents, a kind of Nat. 2d, The power Galoun, or of certain large birds, which also are a kind of Nat. 3d, The power Sissa, or fidelity in contracts and promises. 4th, The power Sila, or obedience to the law. 5th, The power of religious men.24 6th, The condensation of the clouds. 7th, A certain kind of Nat, who preside over showers, and who occasion rain, whenever they go out from their houses to sport in the air. In some of the Burma writings it is said, that when the sun is in the path of the goat, these Nat do not choose to leave their houses on account of the great heat, whence there is then no rain. For this reason, the inhabitants of the Burma empire, in times of drought, are wont to assemble in great numbers, with drums and a long cable. Dividing themselves into two parties, with a vast shouting and noise, they drag the cable contrary ways, the one party endeavouring to get the better of the other: and they think, by this [p.194] means, to invite the Nat to come out from their houses, and to sport in the air. The thunder and lightning, which frequently precede rain, are the clashing and shining of the arms of these Nat, who sometimes sport in mock-battles. As the Burma writings acknowledge Nat presiding over rain, so they also (like the ancient heathen) believe in others governing the winds and the clouds."
So far the missionary, on the astronomical and physical ideas of the Burma doctors; ideas which, I doubt not, were brought from Hindustan, along with their religion and laws. Such therefore, probably, was the astronomical doctrine, taught in that country, before the introduction of Brahmenical science, which by all accounts, however deeply involved in fable, is much more perfect. I do not conceive it to have been the invention of GODAMA, or of those who in his name propagated a new religion, but to have been the common doctrine prevailing in Hindustan at the time: for the Rahans seem to confine their studies almost entirely to theological, historical, moral, and political subjects. From the use of the same signs of the zodiac, there can be little doubt of their having derived at least that part of their astronomical knowledge from the Chaldeans; whose science may have in some degree reached India, nearly about the time of GODAMA, through the conquest of the Persians under Darius. But I do not think it likely, that all the knowledge which the Hindus possessed in the time of BOUDDHA, was derived from Babylon. It is true, that the Persians shortly previous to this, as we learn from our beet guide Herodotus, were an extremely rude and ignorant nation:25 and we have very probable grounds given us by Sir William Jones for believing that the Persians proper were of the fame nation with the Hindus. It might therefore be concluded, [p.195] eluded, that in the sixth century before the birth of CHRIST, the whole Hindu race were equally ignorant with their Persian brethren. Such reasoning would, however, I conceive, be inconclusive. Why might not the Hindus of Matura or Cashmere be as much superior to their countrymen of Persia as the Arabs of Nineveh or of Babylon were to the wanderers of the desert? But even allowing the Hindus to have been incapable of inventing science, might they not have received instruction from the east, as well as from the west? Their eastern neighbours, at this time, had made very considerable progress; such, indeed, as enabled them, about this period, to produce a Confucius. But that the Hindus were themselves capable of observation, so as to make advances in science, their undoubted invention of ciphers, in arithmetic, is a clear proof.
During our stay at Amarapura, besides the almanacs, which were probably constructed by Brahmens, I also saw several treaties, said to be on astronomical subjects. Johannes Moses, Akunwun of Haynthawade, gave Captain Symes a delineation of the sixty-eight Burma constellations, with a short explanation in the Burma language. I have here given a copy of the delineations, and a translation of the written part, which, for the benefit of those who with to know the structure of the language, I have made verbal, following exactly the arrangement of the words in the original. In explaining there constellations, it is to be observed, that to each a fanciful figure is annexed, in the same manner as our constellations are delineated on globes or maps. This figure is called the Thadan, or picture of the constellation; and the name of the object represented by the picture, is often the same with that of the constellation: but, more commonly, the names are quite distinct, and that applied to the constellation is either arbitrary, or a Pali word, with which language my interpreter was not acquainted. In the written account, there is, in some cases. a diffe- [p.196] rence from the drawings, both in the figure, and in the number of stars: but I have, in both cases, followed the originals, not knowing which is right. Some of the figures, resembling a rose, seem to represent planets, and are said to preside over some day of the week, or some time of the day. To the other figures are in general annexed certain cities, or countries: and the Burmas suppose, that, when a constellation appears bright, its dependant country is fruitful and happy: and that the contrary is indicated by the constellation appearing dim. Of many of these countries I have never heard, nor could I obtain any information concerning their situation: but several of them are in the Burma empire, or in its vicinity. Unfortunately, the copy of the Asiatick Researches, which I consulted, had not the figures of the Brahmenical constellations, to which Sir William Jones refers, so that I can make no comparison but by the name.
TRANSLATION OF THE WRITTEN ACCOUNT OF THE BURMA CONSTELLATIONS.
1. "Of Sunday the Star.
2. ''The Pyain constellation five circles has, of Thoukkada country the constellation." Pyain is the small species of white heron, common in India, and called, by the English there, paddy-bird. The circles means stars, as they are so represented in the delineations, a custom evidently introduced from China. Thoukkada is a government and city in Siam, named by M. Loubere Socotai.
3. "Rewade an alligator's figure has, Kutheinnaroun country, and nine circles it has.'' This is evidently the fame name with the Revati of Sir William Jones, which has thirty-two stars. Rewade signifies large water. From the letters with which Kutheinnaroun are written, it is evidently a Pali or Sanskrit word, and is probably some place in Bengal.
4. "Uttara-parabaik a cow's figure has, and two circles, and the
country." Several constellations in the lift of Sir William Jones begin with
5. "Pyouppa-parabdik of a cow the picture has, and two circles, Patanago country it governs." Patagano is a city and government in the Burma kingdom, on the east side of the Eyravjade, in latitude 19° 55".
6. "A couch is Sasata constellation, four circles it has, and the Kathee country." Kathee has been corrupted by us into Cussay. It is an independent kingdom between Ava and Bengal. Its king resides at Munnypura.
7. "The Pyathat, of twenty-four circles, is of Kieen country the constellation." Pyathat is a kind of spire, permitted only to be used in buildings or boats dedicated to the personal use of God, of the king, and of the Zarado.
8. "The duck constellation five circles has, Shan is its country." From Shan our word Siam is corrupted; but the inhabitants of the kingdom of Siam make a small part only of those to whom the Burmas give the appellation of Siamese.
9. "The Kyabuayn aroo leaf is the Talain country constellation, it has seven circles." Talain is the Burma name for the original inhabitants of what we call the kingdom of Pegu.
10. "The horse constellation has eleven circles, Europe is its country."
11. "The morning constellation one circle has, of Dunwun plant the fruit." I do not know what plant is meant: perhaps it is the Trapa?
12. "The table constellation four circles has, of the Kiayn country the constellation." The Kiayn are a simple innocent people inhabiting the mountains between Ava and Arakan.
13. "Zain constellation eleven circles has."
14. Thattapescia with a leopard's picture four circles has.
15. "Of Danaiheidha the fisherman's picture four circles has."
16. "Tharawun constellation a hermit's picture three circles has."
17. "Of Uttara the lion's picture two circles has, Moranun country governing."
18. "The Pangiayn mountain constellation four circles has, of Rakain country the constellation." Rakain is the proper name of Arakan.
19. "Tareindane constellation four circles has, of Yoodaya country the constellation.'' Yoodaya is the Burma pronunciation of the ancient capital of the kingdom of Siam; and they in general call the Siamese Yoodaya, in order to distinguish them from the other tribes of the great Shan race.
20. "A couch is Pagan constellation with four circles, of Shetheek country the constellation." We had another couch No. 6.
21. "The cloud constellation has five circles, of Thulabe the constellation."
22. "The Shan country the elephant constellation with fix circles has." The Shan have another constellation, see No. 8.
23. "The Brahmen constellation of eight circles, Kallingareet country governs." Kaleingareet is the proper Burma appellation for Hindustan.''
24. "Of Pyouppathan the lion's picture two circles has, Mouttamma country it governs." We had another lion No. 17. Mouttamma is the Burma name for Martaban.
25. ''Of Mula the cat's picture five circles has, Peenzalareet is its country."
26. "Of Seitta the goat's pi6lure five circles has, Zedouttara is its country."
27. "Of Anurada the peacock's picture has fifteen circles, and the Zedouttara country." Anuradha, in the account of Sir William Jones, is the Scorpion.
28. "The fowl male of Peenza constellation circles fifty has, of Sawa country the constellation."
29. "The fowl female of Utta constellation eight circles has, of
30. "Of an alligator the ----------- is the picture of Uttara constellation with eight circles, and the Lahu country." Of the word a-me-kah-han, which follows alligator, I do not know the meaning.
31. "The balance constellation."
32. "The crab constellation of ten circles has, Rajagyol country."
33. "The mountain constellation four circles has."
34. "Buchia the crab constellation ten circles has." Pushya is the crab of Sir William Jones. Here we have two crabs, No. 32-34.
35. "The Brahmen's Buchia has a boat's picture, and the Dagoun country." Dagoun is the great temple near Rangoon.
36. "Of Adara Daway is the country." The picture is meant to represent a turtle. Daway is the country we call Tavay.
37. "Mecathe has of an antelope's head the picture, three circles, and the Haynthawade country." Haynthawade is the polite Burma name for the city and province of Pegu.
38. "Of Friday the Star."
39. "Buchia constellation has eight circles, and Yun country." The Yun are the inhabitants of Saymmay or Chiamay.
40. "Zaduka constellation four circles has, in a pair of fetters, of Giun country the constellation." I have never learned what country is meant by Giun. It is always in the king's titles mentioned along with the Yun, it is therefore probably contiguous, and may be the northern Laos.
41. "The crow constellation eleven circles has, and the Thayndua country." Thayndua is the most southerly government in the present division of the Arakan kingdom.
42. "The Kyay ship of twenty-eight circles."
43. "Hayntha, a constellation of seven circles, belongs to
Radanapura is the polite name for old Ava. The Hayntha is that beautiful species
of Anas called by the English in Bengal the Brahmney goose.
44. "Of Rohane the snake's-head figure has ten circles." Rohini of Sir William Jones.
45. "Kiatteka has a fowl's picture, and six circles." Critica of Sir William Jones is the bull. The names appear to be the same.
46. "Pagan country is governed by the old cock's figure." There are two cities called Pagan. The great Pagan on the weft fide of the junction of the Kiayn-duayn and Ayrawade; the lesser Pagan lower down on the east side of the Agrawade.
47. "Of Athawane the horse's head picture has six circles, and the Rakam country." Afwini, which seems to be the same name, is, according to Sir William Jones, the ram. Arakan has another constellation No. 18.
48. "Pozoke a constellation of eight circles belongs to the Talain country, like the Hayntha male and female." The two rival nations of Pegu and Ava have chosen a similar emblem, see No. 43. The Talain have also another constellation, No. 9.
49. "Putthata constellation seven circles has, of the Raneezzee tree the fruit."
50. "Aykatheitta a constellation of four circles, of Kale country the constellation, is like a basin." Kale is a Shan city near the Kiaynduayn, about 300 miles N. E. from Ava.
51. "Taroutlara constellation two circles has, and the Taroup country." This is the Burma name for China.
52. "Of Uttaraharagounne the bullock's picture two circles has."
53. "Of Wednesday the Star."
54. "Of Pyouppabaragounne the cow's picture three circles has."
55. "Matha has of a monkey the figure, four circles, and the
56. "The balance constellation four circles has." We had another balance No. 31.
57. "Athaktha the horse's yard picture, four circles has, and the Thattoini country." Aslesla, the same name, according to Sir William Jones, is the lion. Thattoun was a very large town between Pegu and Martaban, It is now in ruins.
58. "The flag is Paihatta constellation, six circles it has."
59. "Eessa constellation six circles has, of Momaln country the constellation."
60. "Of Akap, a constellation of eight circles, Daway is the country." This is a second constellation belonging to Tavay, see No, 36.
61. "Of Thanlæk, a constellation of three circles, Kothambe is the country." The figure is meant to represent a spear's head.
62. "Wethaga has of a buffalo's head the picture, and fourteen circles."
63. "Of Thuade a great snake's-head picture, has three circles, and the Thayndua country." Swati, the same name, is, according to Sir W. Jones, the balance. Thayndua has also another constellation, see No. 41.
64. "Of Zeittara the tiger's picture, has one circle, and the Wethale country."
65. "Hathadda of an elephant's head the picture has, Dhagnazuade is its country." Hasta of Sir William Jones. Dhaganwade is the polite name for the castle of Arakan.
66. ''Kobiape constellation with eleven circles has the Myamma country." Myamma is the name by which the Burmas distinguish themselves.
67 "A fowl's foot is Thareiddha, a constellation of four circles, of Laynzayn country the con- [p.202] stellation." Laynzayn is the vulgar name for the capital of the southern Laos.
68. "A boat's ladder is Tareiddha, a constellation of six circles, of Kula country the constellation." Kula is the name commonly given to Europeans, but is applicable to all the western nations.
Along with the accounts of the Burma constellations, Johannes Moses gave Captain Symes two circular schemes, which evidently relate chiefly to a lunar zodiac. These schemes Captain Symes obligingly communicated to me, but without any explanation.
The ultimate division in the larger plan is into twenty-seven signs, representing the diurnal motion of the moon in her orbit. I neglected to procure the Burma names for these signs; as I was told, that they were all contained in the delineations of the sixty-eight constellations; and as I thought, from the disposition of the stars, that I should be able to find out what constellations were meant: but since 1 have had leisure to examine them, I find that this is by no means the case.
The next division, and which is to be seen in the outer circle of both plans, is into nine signs, each containing three of the former. The names for these are: 1, the horse constellation; 2, the Pyain constellation; 3, the crow constellation; 4, the Haynsha constellation; 5, the Kayn crab constellation; 6, the balance constellation; 7, the. Zangiayn constellation; 8, Dana constellation; 9, the elephant constellation. These are to be seen in the delineation, and lift of the Burma stars, Nos. 10, 2, 41, 43, 34, 56, 61, 15, 22.
The inner division in both schemes is into four. These are named
meaning of which word I do not know: the first is named Banraung, the second
Ngue or silver raung, the third Shue or
golden raung, and the fourth Mya-raung. These, I conceive, represent the spaces
of the zodiac passed through by the moon in each of her four phases.
This lunar zodiac is also in use among the Brahmens and Sir William Jones has favoured us with a representation of it after their manner.26 They have the divisions into 4, 9, and 27: and the figures in the centre are no doubt a representation of Mienmo, and the surrounding islands, with the princes of the Nat Zadumaharit sitting on mount Jugando: in one thing however there is a material difference. Sir W. Jones says, that the nine figures represent the sun, moon, and planets, with the dragon's head or ascending node, and tail or descending node. It is true, that the Burmas believe in a planet, which performs the same effect as the moon does when near her nodes at the time of a conjunction or opposition, that is to say, which produces an eclipse: but the division into nine, in use among the Burmas, is evidently zodiacal. The divisions are not called Kiay, which signifies a planet: but they named Tara, or a collection of fixed stars; and in both the written account, and in the delineation of the sixty-eight constellations, there is an account of the number of stars contained in each. Were we sure that these schemes were mentioned in the writings of the Rahans, and not lately introduced into the Burma kingdom by the Brahmens, we might easily account for this difference. It would in that cafe be probable, when, in compliance with the prejudices of their new converts, the Brahmens adopted this lunar zodiac, that seeing no utility in the division into nine, and having a more full notion of the planetary bodies, they filled up the places of these nine constellations with the different parts of the solar system. I make little [p.204] doubt indeed, but that the Brahmens originally insinuated themselves into the courts of the Hindu princes as astrologers, in the same manner as we see them now doing in the courts of the Indian princes beyond the Ganges. By degrees they also introduced their superstition, building it in part on the doctrine previously exiting in the country, and at length firmly establishing their favourite and destructive system of cast. In the larger plan, between the four raung and the twenty-seven constellations of the zodiac, we have a division into twelve, which, I should imagine, is meant to represent the sun's motion through the zodiac, during the twelve lunations of which the Burma year consists. At any rate, as has been mentioned before, the Burmas are acquainted with a solar zodiac divided into twelve signs, and represented by figures the same or analogous to ours. My friend Sangermano gave Captain Symes a silver basin on which they were embossed. He conceived, and I think justly, that this zodiac had been communicated to the Burmas from Chaldea by the intervention of the Brahmens. And I find that in this conjecture he is supported by Sir W. Jones.27 Both however, I am afraid, will excite the indignation of the Brahmens who, as the learned judge in another place alleges, have always been too proud to borrow science from any nation ignorant of the Vedas. Of their being fa proud as not to acknowledge their obligations, I make no doubt : but that they have borrowed from the Chaldeans, who were ignorant of the Vedas, Sir W. Jones himself has proved. Why then should he have opposed the sarcastic smiles of perplexed pandits to the reasoning of M. Montuclo,28 when that learned man alleged that the Brahmens have derived astronomical knowledge from the Greeks and Arabs? The Chaldeans were certainly a branch of the Arab nation: and the expression of the Brahmens quoted [p.205] by him as proof, namely "that no base creature can be lower than a Yavan or Greek,"29 only exposes their miserable ignorance, and disgusting illiberality.
"XVII. Below the habitation Zadumaharit," says the missionary copying from the Burma writings, "are found many Nat who inhabit waters, woods, and mountains, in the shape of large birds, dragons, and the like. The Burma writings however by no means allege, that these beings enjoy the same happiness, or the same duration of life, as the Nat Zadumaharit. These circumstances vary, according to the nature of the actions performed by these Nat, when in a human form. It is said that the king of the dragons saw the first God, who appeared in this world,30 and that he will see the last; or in other words, that the duration of his life will be nearly equal to that of the world. It is also said of this king of the dragons, that he always sleeps at the foot of those mountains, from whence the river Casse springs; and that he only awakes on the appearance of a new God. That is, when any being has arrived at such a degree of merit, as to deserve to be declared a God, he eats rice, which has been boiled in a golden goblet; he then, in order to give the people a proof of his having acquired divinity, throws the goblet into the river Casse. The goblet swims up against the stream, till it arrives at the place where the king of the dragons sleeps. There it strikes against the rock, and makes a noise, till the king awakes. There are also a kind of Nat, named Bommazo, who live longer than those of Zadumaharit.'''
"XVIII. Above Zadumaharit is the bon or habitation Tavatnnza, which, as has been said, is situated on the plane of Mienmo's summit. The supreme ruler or emperor of this habitation has subject to him thirty-two inferior Nat princes. The great city [p.206] Mahasudassana, in which this emperor resides, has a square form. The pavement, streets, and ways are entirely covered with silver or gold. The gilded wall, which surrounds the city, is a perfect square. Each of its sides is in length 10,000 juzana, its height 150,31 and in width one juzana and a half. The gates are forty juzana high, are covered with gold and silver, and adorned with precious stones. Seven ditches, distant one juzana from each other, surround the walls of the city: and a juzana beyond the last ditch is a row of marble pillars, gilded and studded with jewels. At the farther distance of a juzana and a half are seven rows of palm trees, loaded with gems, pearls, gold and silver. Every where are to be found lakes of the most limpid water, where are kept gold and silver boats, into which the male and female Nat entering with their drums and musical instruments, and pursuing one another through these delightful lakes, now dance, then sing; sometimes pluck the odorous flowers from the trees, which hang over them; and sometimes admire the beauty of the birds, which frequent the trees and lakes. Beyond the palms every where grows the abovementioned Padeza-byan, the trees on which, in place of fruit, hang the clothing and food of the Nat.
"Twenty juzana to the north of this city is a garden named Nanda, 100 juzana in length, and as much in breadth. In its centre is a lake of the same name, and equally pleasant with those just now described. In this garden chiefly grows that celebrated flower, which is as large as a chariot wheel. The garden is named Nanda, which signifies a crowd, because the Nat frequent it in multitudes, in order to pull the flower, and wear it in their hair."
"To the east of the city, at the distance also of twenty juzana, is another garden, equally large and [p.207] pleasant as the former. It is named Zeittalata,32 and in it grows that renowned twining plant, which every thousand years produces a most exquisite fruit. In order to get this fruit the Nat assemble here in crowds for a hundred years before it ripens: and for one whole year, sing and dance, accompanied by drums and other musical instruments. Having eat of that fruit, the Nat become inebriated for four entire months.
"To the south and weft of this city are also two other gardens of the same size, and ornamented with lakes, and beautiful trees. The garden to the south is named Parafu, that to the west Missata.
"To the north-east of Mahasudassana is a very large hall, extending every way 300 juzana. In circumference it is 900 juzana, and in height 450. From its roof hang golden bells: and its stairs, walls, and pillars, every where shine with gold and silver, intermixed with precious stones. The pavement is of crystal, and each row of pillars contain 100 columns, The road, which leads to this hall, is twenty juzana long, and one broad; and from space to space are planted trees abounding with all kinds of fruits and flowers. When the great emperor wants to go to this hall, winds arise, which blow off all the leaves and flowers from the trees, and fresh ones immediately succeed. With these flowers, the Nat presiding over the winds, adorn the whole road to the hall; and the flowers are so abundant, that they reach up to the knees of the passengers. In the middle of this hall stands the great imperial throne, whose plane extends a juzana; and over it is the white umbrella.33 No throne [p.208] shines like this with gold, pearls, and jewels. It is surrounded by the thirty-two thrones of the inferior Nat princes, and behind these sit the other Nat, each in his proper place. In this grand convention are also present the four chiefs of the Nat Zadumaharit. At the time in which the Nat thus crowd round the great emperor to do him honour, they touch their musical instruments, and sing melodiously. The four Zadumaharit princes then call the Nat under their jurisdiction, and send them into this southern island Zabudiba, commanding them to enquire diligently, if its inhabitants observe the holy days and laws, and exercise charity; or if, on the contrary, they violate the laws, and neglect their duty. At this command, quicker than the winds, the Nat pass through all the parts of this island; and having carefully noted, in a golden book, the good and bad actions of men, they immediately return to the hall, and deliver their writing into the hands of the four Zadumaharit princes, who pass it to the lesser princes Tavateinza, and these forward it, till at length it reaches the great emperor. He, opening the book, reads aloud, and his voice, if it be natural and even, is heard to the distance of twenty-two juzana: but if it be raised, founds over the whole habitation Tavateinza. If the Nat hear that there are many men who observe the law, practise good works, and bestow alms, they exclaim, "Oh! now the infernal regions will be empty, and our abode will be full of inhabitants." If, on the contrary, there have been found few good men, "O wretches, (say they smiling,) men and fools, who feasting for a short life, for a body four cubits in length, and for a belly not larger than a span, have heaped on themselves sin, on account of which they must be miserable in futurity." Then [p.209] the great emperor, that he may induce men to live virtuously, charitably, and justly, speaks thus: "Truly, if men fulfilled the law, they would be such as I am." After this he, with all his train, to the number of 36,000,000 of Nat, return to the city, in the midst of music.
"In the centre of this glorious city is built the palace of the emperor, of which the height is 500 juzana: but who can describe its beauty, ornaments, treasures, or the abundance of gold, silver, gems, and precious stones, with which it shines? Small standards, of gold and silver, are placed in every part. The chariot in which the great emperor is carried, extends 150 juzana, and in it are placed a great throne, and a white umbrella. This chariot is drawn by 2,000 horses, before whom is the great standard, 10 juzana high, which, when moved by the wind, yields a most agreeable murmur.
"Twenty juzana to the north-east of the great city is a most celebrated tree, the sacred image of the habitation, which, like the sacred trees of the four great islands, lives for the duration of one world. Under this tree is a prodigious stone, sixty juzana long, fifty broad, and fifteen high. It is smooth and soft like cotton, and under the feet of the great emperor is elastic, being depressed when he stands on it, and rising again when he descends, as if it were sensible of the honoured weight by which it is pressed. When the affairs of our southern island are prosperous and quiet, the half of the emperor's body sinks into the stone: but when a contrary state of affairs exists, the stone remains tense and rigid like a drum. This sacred tree is surrounded by some of the kind called Padeza-bayn, and by others producing both fruit and flowers. The road leading to this tree is twenty juzana long, and is every year frequented by the Nat resorting to the place. When the tree flowers, its ruddy splendour extends, all around, to the distance of fifty juzana, and its most agreeable odour is diffused twice that length. When it has flowered, the [p.210] keeper of the tree informs the emperor, who is immediately seized with a desire to see it, and says, if an elephant would now appear, it would be both agreeable and convenient. No sooner has he spoken, than the elephant appears: for here, as well as in all the other habitations of the Nat, there are no animals, such as in our earth; but whenever any Nat has use for an animal, a temporary one is immediately created. This elephant has thirty-three heads, corresponding to the thirty-three Nat princes. Every head has seven teeth, which are fifty juzana in length. In every tooth are seven lakes, in every lake seven flowering trees, on every tree seven flowers, in every flower seven leaves, in every leaf seven thrones, in every throne seven chambers, in every chamber seven beds, in every bed seven Nat dancing girls. The head, on which sits the supreme emperor, is thirty juzana in bulk; and is ten times larger than the other heads. On the large head is raised a pavilion three juzana high, under which is fixed the ruby throne of the emperor. This elephant, called Eravum, approaches the emperor, and after him the thirty-two princes mount. After the elephant the other Nat follow, each in his couch of state. Having come to the sacred tree to collect the flowers, this vast multitude dismount; and the emperor being seated on the stone, the whole sit down, each in his proper place, and begin to celebrate the festival, which continues for four months. They then gather the flowers, to do which they have no need to ascend the tree: for the Nat of the winds shake it, and make the flowers fall; and lest the beauty of the flowers should be spoiled, the winds support them, nor permit them to touch the ground. The whole bodies of the Nat are then covered with the odorous dust coming from the stamens of the flowers.
"The stature of these Nat is three gaut: and the duration of their lives four times that of the Nat Zadumahart, or thirty-six millions of our years. The [p.211] Nat of this habitation, like those of the higher kinds, do not require the light of the sun or moon, the light of their own bodies being sufficient: for they shine like so many suns or stars."
"XIX. It has been mentioned, that the mountain Mienmo is sustained by three feet of carbuncle.34 Now the space that lies between these is the habitation of a kind of Nat named Assura. Although these Nat inhabit a different abode, yet are they exactly of the same kind with the Tavateinza: for they were driven by guile from that habitation, which formerly they occupied. The manner in which this happened, is related as follows in the Burma writings. GODAMA, before he became a god, when he was in the state of a man in Zabudiba, with thirty-two other men of the same village, by the good work of repairing the high ways, and by other virtuous actions, deserved after death to become Nat Tavateinza. On their arrival the ancient inhabitants of that happy abode, in sign of their joy, and with flowers in their hands, descended half way down Mienmo, in order to welcome their future companions. GODAMA, who then was called MAGA,35 began to contrive, how he might drive these Nat from their ancient possessions. He and his companions accordingly pretended to have drank wine: but what they drank, was not true wine. The former Nat Tavateinza, imitating the example of these men, drank real wine, and became intoxicated. Then MAGA making a signal to his companions, they dragged the Nat, while insensible with wine, by the heels, and cast them out of the abode Tavateinza. But as the lot, acquired by the merit of the good actions of these Nat, was not expired, a habitation formed it- [p.212] self for them between the feet of Mienmo; and this habitation is called Assura bon, which in every thing, except its sacred tree, resembles that called Tavateinza.36 In Assura bon there is also a tree, under which there are four immense stones, each of them 300 juzana square. On these rocks sit the four Assura princes, when they determine suits, and administer justice to their subjects. Among these princes, in the length of time, one has obtained supreme dominion, and has become emperor of all the Nat dwelling in this habitation.37
"Besides this injury, the Assura have received another from the new inhabitants of Tavateinza: for the great emperor ravished a daughter of the Assura prince. Mindful of these injuries, the Assura Nat vowed perpetual war against the inhabitants of Tavateinza. When they used to fee their sacred tree producing flowers different from those of their former abode, breathing revenge, they were wont to ascend Mienmo, and to take prisoners the giants, dragons, vultures, and other similar Assura, retained by the Tavateinza emperor as a guard for his frontiers. On the report of this, the emperor mounting his elephant 100 juzana high, used to call to his assistance the Nat of the sun, moon, and stars, and three of the winds and clouds. He then created new forms of Nat, and of these raised an army without the walls of the great city. But the Assura prevailing, forced him to retire within the walls. The rage of the Assura was then wont to abate; and the emperor having collected his forces, used to drive them from his walls, and to pur- [p.213] sue them in their flight. The Assura having failed, touched a drum made of the claws of Cancer, and then retired to their own abode. In these battles no one was killed: the Nat only tore one another. Now, however, the Assura remain quiet at home: nor do they any more engage in warlike enterprises.38
"According to what GODAMA taught, whoever honours his parents,39 and old age; whoever respects the three excellent things, namely, God, the law, and the Rahans; whoever abhors wrangling, and disputes; whoever is charitable, particularly to the Rahans: all such persons shall after death transmigrate into Tavateinza.
"XX. Concerning the happiness enjoyed in the higher abodes of Nat, and by the Rupa, and Arupa, the Burma writings are silent: they only in general state, that the happiness of each habitation is double of that in the one immediately below. It is also stated, that the lives of the inhabitants of each bon, endure four times as long as those of the next inferior species. According to this ratio, the duration of the life of all the beings above Tavateinza increases: so that the highest rank of Nat, called Paraneininatavassanti live 576 millions of years. The prince of these Nat, whose name is MANNATMEN, has dominion over all the Nat of the other inferior habitations, and declares war against any new god on his first appearance. All his subjects being drawn out in battle array, occupy a square of eighteen [p.214] juzana:40 he himself being in the centre, is seated on an elephant 250 juzana high.
''XXI. The Burma writings, as has been said, make no mention of the kind of happiness enjoyed by the Rupa and Arupa: but if we may judge from the length of their lives, they must be infinitely more happy than the Nat. Of the three habitations, which form the first Zian, the first Rupa live twenty-one Andrakat; the second live thirty-one Andrakat; and the third live one Assemchiekat. Of the three abodes in the second Zian, the Rupa of the first live two Makakat; of the second, four Makakat; and of the third, eight. Again, of the abodes which are called the third Zian, the Rupa of the first live sixteen Makakat; of the second, thirty-two; and of the third, sixty-four Makakat. Of the two abodes forming the fourth Zian, the Rupa live 500 Makakat. Of these five remaining abodes of Rupa, which are placed perpendicularly above one another, the inhabitants of the first live one thousand, of the second two thousand, of the third four thousand, of the fourth eight thousand, and of the fifth sixteen thousand Makakat. Again, the life of the inhabitants of the lowest order of Arupa lasts for 20,000 Makakat, of the second for 40,000, of the third for 60,000, and of the highest fox 84,000 Makakat,
"The happiness and length of the lives of beings increasing in proportion as their habitations are higher, a greater and greater elevation will be procured by persons after death, in proportion as during life they have performed more good actions, and as they have possessed more liberality in bestowing charity."
"XXII. I am now to give an account of the abodes of wretchedness, of the punishments inflicted on their [p.215] inhabitants, and of the duration of their existence. There are four states of Apé or misery. 1. That of animals, whether they live in the water, or on the earth, or whether they fly in the air: for, according to the Burma writings, the state of all animals inferior to man, is a state of misery. 2. That of the wretched beings called Preitta. 3. The state of those called Assurige. 4. The state of the inhabitants of Niria, which may properly be translated hell. Of these beings I shall treat in order.
''The Burma scriptures mention nothing concerning the wretchedness or length of life of animals. Some doctors however assert, that domestic animals follow the fortunes of mankind: and that, when men live long, they do so likewise. These doctors also suppose, that animals not domestic have a short or a long life, in proportion to the merit of their actions in a former existence. It is however, say they, found by experience, that the elephant lives sixty years, the horse thirty, the ox twenty, and the dog ten. By the same doctors it is alleged, that lice, and other similar insects, live seven days; and they confirm this by a story related in their books. A certain priest conceived a violent liking for a beautiful robe, which he preserved most carefully from being worn. It so happened, that when this priest died, he was immediately changed into a louse, which took up its residence in the favourite robe. According to custom, the other priests divided amongst them the effects of the deceased, and were about to cut up the robe, when the louse, by his frequent going and coming, and by his extraordinary gestures, showed, that the division of the robe would be by no means agreeable to his feelings. The priests being astonished, consulted God on the occasion, who commanded, that they should delay for seven days their intended division, lest the louse should be enraged, and on that account [p.216] descend into a state of misery yet more wretched. Those men are changed into animals who do not refrain their tongues, or the inordinate motions of their bodies or minds, and who neglect to bellow alms."
"XXIII. The second miserable state of existence is called Preitta, of which there are various kinds. Some Preitta are nourished on spittle, excrement, and other foul substances, and dwell in public halls, cisterns, and sepulchres. Others, wandering about in woods or deserts, half wasted by hunger and nakedness, pass the whole duration of a world in howling and groans. Some by fiery whips are forced to plough the earth with red-hot iron. Some, who live on their own flesh, with their nails tear to pieces their own limbs. Others, who are a gaut in fire, have a mouth no larger than the eye of a needle, hence are they tormented with perpetual hunger. Others are within on fire, so that at times the flames even burst through their bodies. There is still another species of Preitta, who by day enjoy the pleasures of the Nat, but by night are tormented as above. Those in a future life are changed into Preitta, who during this give no daily provisions to the priests, who do not supply them with clothing, who corrupt their manners, or who offer violence to their persons, who give abusive language to the observers of the law, who are avaricious, &c.
"XXIV. The third miserable species of beings, called Assurighe, reside chiefly in the roots of certain mountains far remote from the habitations of men. Some of them however dwell in woods, and on the desert coasts of the sea. They are subject to punishments nearly the same with those of the Preitta. There is a kind of intermediate species, called Assurighe-Preitta. These beings have bodies three gaut in length, but as emaciated as a corpse deprived of flesh and blood. Their eyes project from the sockets like those of a crab: and their mouths are on the [p.217] crowns of their heads, and as small as the eye of a needle, so that they are tormented with hunger. Those are subject to this punishment, who in their quarrels strike with flicks, or destructive weapons.
"The duration of these three Apé is not fixed, but depends on the lot of evil actions, as the Burma doctors speak. If this lot be heavy, the misery will continue long: but if light, the unhappy beings will be the sooner relieved from punishment: that is to say, according to the greater or less atrocity of the fins committed, the punishment will be of longer or shorter duration.
''XXV. Niria is the fourth miserable condition; and its habitation may be properly called the infernal regions. These are placed by the Burmas in the depths of this southern island Zabudiba, in the middle of the great rock Sila pathavy, and consist of eight great hells. Each great hell towards the four cardinal points has four gates, leading to as many smaller hells: so that every great hell communicates with sixteen smaller ones, and besides is surrounded to the right and left by 40,040 still smaller. A space of 10,000 juzana square is occupied by each of the large hells, and its dependant small ones.
"Before the gate of each great hell sit the judges, who condemn the guilty according to the weight of their lot of evil deeds. These judges are selected from the Nat Assura: but their office does not prevent either them or their assistants from enjoying the pleasures of their happy companions. These judges have no occasion to examine into crimes of a very atrocious nature: the weight of these, say the Rahans, sinks the perpetrators at once into hell. These Bramen or judges then determine the punishments for smaller crimes. The worshippers of BOUDDHA, when bestowing alms, or performing [p.218] other good actions, commonly life the ceremony of pouring a little water on the ground, which is explained to be emblematical of their wishing to participate the merit of good works with other beings. Those criminals, who during life performed this ceremony, the Imamen will mildly raise up, will assuage their fears, and exempt from the torments of hell, unless they have been guilty of any great crimes. But to those who have neglected this ceremony, the Imamen, with a horrible countenance, will declare, that they have done no gooda6tion; then the criminals, all trembling, will dare advance no excuse: but the demons will advance, and snatch them away to punishment.
"XXVI. The duration of these punishments, as has been already said, is not fixed and determined, but depends upon the lot of bad actions. The Burma writings enumerate four of these lots: the first they say is heavy, the other three light. The evil deeds, which after death produce the heavy lot, are chiefly five: 1, matricide; 2, parricide; 3, slaying a Rahan; 4, striking a God; (thus DEVADAT, the name by which the Rahans know Jesus, incurred the heavy lot by throwing a stone at GODAMA;) 5, exciting dissentions among the Rahans. Those who have been guilty of such crimes, for the whole duration of a world, suffer, in one of the great hells, the punishment of fire, and other cruel torments. This lot is called heavy, and the first, because those who die under its weight, enjoy no benefit from the good actions they may have performed; at least, till the whole time of their punishment has expired. But even more severe than this is the lot of those called Deitii, or those impious persons who have discredited the evidences of GODAMA, or of some former God: who, contrary to the express doctrine of all Gods, deny Nieban, and the transmigration of men into animals, or into superior beings, according to the merit of their actions; [p.219] who teach, that there is no merit in bestowing alms, or in performing the good works commanded by God; or who adore the Nat presiding over the woods and mountains. All such persons, if they obstinately persist in their infidelity, and irreligion, will be tormented, not for the duration of one world, but to all eternity. After the world is destroyed, they will pass to other places, or be eternally punished in the air. But if obstinacy be not added to their crimes, the punishment will cease at the end of the world.
"Of those lots which are not heavy, the first is that which receives a reward or punishment after death; and such crimes are punished in one of the great hells, according to their greater or less atrocity.41 After this comes the lot of habitual sins; and though these sins be not atrocious, yet if they have become habitual, they occasion a lot, which induces a punishment in one of the seven great hells; but not in that named the great Aviri. The fourth lot arises from wicked desires, and is not punished in any of the great hells, but in some of the surrounding small ones.
"XXVII. Before we mention the punishments which the damned suffer, it must be premised, that of the eight great hells, four are called Aviri or hot, and four Logantret or cold hells: because in these last the damned suffer intense cold. The infernal days and years also differ from those on earth; for every day in the great hells is equal to a thousand terrestrial years; whilst in some of the small hells it equals 600 years, in others 700, and in others 800.
"1st. Those who are irascible, or cruel, quarrel- [p.220] lous, or drunken, who are dishonest in deed, word, or thought, or who are lascivious, will, after death, in the great hell Seinzi be torn to pieces with glowing hot irons, and then exposed to intense cold: alter a time their limbs will again unite, and again will they be torn asunder, and exposed to the cold: and this alteration of misery will endure for 500 infernal years.
"2dly. Those who either by action or speech ridicule their proper parents, or magistrates, or Rahans, or old men, or the studious of the law; those who with nets or snares entrap fish, or other animals; all those will be punished in the great hell Chalafot for 1,000 infernal years: on a bed of fire they will be extended, and like so many trunks of trees with burning iron saws and hooks they will be cut into eight or ten pieces.
"3dly. Those who kill oxen,42 swine, goats, or other such animals; and who are by profession hunters;43 warlike kings; ministers and governors who oppress the people; all such will in the great hell Sengata be ground between four burning mountains for 2,000 years.
"4thly. Those who do not mutually assist their neighbours, and who on the contrary deceive and vex them; those who kill animals by immersing them in boiling oil or water; those who ape drunk- [p.221] ards, or who commit indecent and forbidden actions; those who dishonour others; all such will have their bowels consumed by fire entering their mouths. This punishment will last for 4,000 infernal years.
"5thly. Those who take any thing contrary to the express will of the proprietor, whether it be by theft, guile, fraud, or by open violence; those magistrates who receive gifts, and in consequence decide causes unjustly; those officers who, after having possessed themselves of an enemy's country, destroy the inhabitants; those who deceive in scales, weights, or measures, or who by any other unjust means appropriate to themselves the goods of others; those who injure the property of the Rahans, or temples; all such, for the space of 8,000 infernal years, will be punished in the great hell Maharoruva by fire and smoke, which will enter by the eyes, mouth, and other openings, and waste away their whole bodies.
"6thly. Those who having killed hogs, deer, or such like animals, skin them, roast their flesh, and eat it; those who make arms; those who fell hog's flesh, or fowls, or wine, or poison; those who burn towns, villages, or woods, so that the animals living there perish; those who kill men by poison, arms, or incantations, or who kill animals by nets or gins; all these after death for sixteen thousand years will in the great hell Tapana be tumbled down headlong from a lofty burning mountain, there being transfixed on an iron spit, they will be cut and torn by the demons with swords and spears.
"7thly. The Deitti, or infidels, who have been already mentioned, will in the hell Mahatapana be first fixed with their heads downwards, and then pierced with hot spits as large as palm trees.
"8thly. Parricides, matricides, and such as have the heavy lot, will be
for the whole duration of a world in the terrible of all hells Mahaviri, the
pavement of which nine juzana in thickness is of red hot iron, and emits
the moil horrible smoke, and the moll piercing flames.
"XXVIII. Of the smaller hells, which surround the eight great ones, and which are called by one common name Ussantrek, some are mentioned by particular names. In the excrementitious hell, for instance, there are worms as large as elephants, which bite the damned while they are floating in excrement. There is also a hell of burning allies. In the hell of swords the damned are torn in pieces by the knives, swords, and other sharp instruments, among which they are rolling. The damned in the hell of hooks have their lungs, livers and bowels torn out by these cruel instruments: and in the hell of hammers they are miserably beaten with red hot implements of that kind. There is a hell of thorns and prickles, a hell of biting dogs, a hell of crows and vultures, which with their beaks and claws tear asunder the flesh of the damned. There is a hell in which the damned are obliged constantly to ascend and descend a tree named lappan, and armed with the sharpest thorns: another in which they are forced to drink putrid gore; and still another, where fiends beat, whip, and torment the damned.
"In the smaller hells are punished those who did not honour their parents, magistrates, and old age; who took wine or inebriating drugs; who corrupted the waters of lakes or wells; who destroyed highways; who were fraudulent and deceitful; who spoke roughly and angrily; who struck others with their hands or flicks; who paid little attention to the words of pious men; who afflicted others; who were speakers of scan- [p.223] dal, passionate, envious, undervaluers of their neighbours; who used abusive language; who confined their fellow creatures with chains, bonds, or fetters; who admitted any forbidden thing in their words, actions or desires; and who did not console the sick with soothing words. All these crimes will be punished in the smaller hells, and that in proportion to the atrocity of the deed, and the frequency with which it has been repeated.
"Besides these places of punishment there is another hell, which may be compared to an immense kettle filled with melted brass. The damned are forced to descend to the bottom of this kettle, then to rise to the surface, and 3,000 years are consumed in each descent, and in each ascent. To this hell are condemned the sensual persons, who corrupt the wives, the daughters, or the sons of others; and who, during the course of their lives, neglecting to observe the holy days, or to give alms, pass their time in feasting, drunkenness, and lascivious enjoyments.
"It has been already mentioned, that the equilateral spaces, which are supposed to be in the interdices of the different worlds, are full of water intensely cold. The Burma writings assert, that these are so many hells, to which those are condemned who give offence to their parents, or to the strict observer of the law. These people after death get bodies three gaut in length, with crooked nails on their hands and feet: sometimes like bats they creep through the caves, and dark caverns in the deep recesses of the mountains: at others they hang together on trees like a hive of bees, mutually tormenting and abusing themselves with the most direful words; then being instigated by a cruel hunger, they tear each other limb from limb. The limbs falling into the cold water are dissolved like fait: but the parts of their bodies being again united by [p.224] the power of fate, they repeatedly undergo the same torments.
'"Having thus explained the ideas of the Burmas concerning the various bon, or habitation, of misery and happiness, before we proceed any further, it is necessary to state, that the beings which inhabit even the highest of these abodes, may, on account of bad actions, fink into the infernal regions; or on account of their good ones, may be raised to a higher rank: but it is only in this island Zabudiba that Nieban, the most perfect of all states, can be obtained. To arrive at Nieban a person must see a god, and hearken to his discourses and evidences: and it is only in Zabudiba that the gods arise. There are some Burma doctors indeed, who assert, that in this island only beings can deserve to rise to a superior, or to fink into an inferior abode.
A TOPOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION OF ZABUDIBA.
"I have said, that the Burmas allow the diameter of this island, which we
inhabit, to be 10,000 juzana. From this extent they subtract 3,000 for woods and
deserts, 4,000 for waters, and suppose
3,000 to remain as a habitation for mankind. I shall now explain their ideas
concerning the topography of this abode: but my readers will be much
disappointed, if they expect any thing like an
accurate description of the earth, or of its divisions into kingdoms and
provinces. For in the same manner, as what I have already delivered as the
opinions of the Burmas concerning the universe,
are nothing but vain, chimerical, and monstrous fables; so what they relate
concerning the island Zabudiba, never existed, unless in the invention of GODAMA, or in the crude conceptions of his
commentators. It is true indeed, that in the Burma writings mention is made of
101 nations, which are said to inhabit Zabudiba, and its dependant small islands: but of all the nations which are
known really to inhabit the earth, we find none men- [p.225]
tioned as a part of the one hundred and one, except the Chinese, Siamese, and
the inhabitants of Tavay, Pegu, Laos, Cussay, and Arakan."
Thus SANGERMANO prefaces his account of the Burma geography: but I think some farther explanation necessary. The reader will soon perceive, that the missionary is entirely right with regard to the imperfect and absurd nature of the Burma topography of Zabudiba, of which the accounts seem evidently to have been introduced from Hindustan, along with the religion and laws of BOUDDHA, and of MENU: but I doubt not, that some parts of these accounts are derived from an observation of nature. I am also inclined to think, that he is rather severe on the knowledge which the Burmas possess of the geography of at least their neighbourhood. I found many of the Burmas who were very intelligent, and well informed, concerning the situation of the different parts of their extensive empire; who were not at all deficient in a knowledge of the neighbouring states; and who were very curious to know the situation of those at a greater distance. They at once comprehended the nature of our maps; and some of them could make delineations of their own country, which, with a considerable degree of neatness, were sufficient to give a tolerable idea of the course of rivers and mountains, and of the situation of towns, lakes, and provinces. I was informed, that, in the hall of the grand council in the palace of Amrapitra, the king keeps a general map of his dominions, which has been corrected by comparing it with the various expeditions which the present royal family have undertaken, and with the lists of cities and villages, which the governors of provinces are annually obliged to transmit to court: and in these lifts is given an accurate account, or one pretended to be so, of all the houses and male inhabitants; in each district. Merchants and travellers put down in their books the names of all the places on such route, as they frequent, with their estimated distances: some such itineraries, and many of their delineations, I [p.226] have communicated to Sir John Shore: and if my stay in the country had been longer, I make no doubt, but that I could have procured several of the lifts transmitted to court by the governors of provinces.
For the sake of the curious I shall here transcribe the list of the one hundred and one nations with which the Burmas are acquainted, using the mode hereafter to be explained of expressing the Burma writing by Roman characters, and adding a short explanation. From this I think it will appear, that the list is formed from a real knowledge of the nations, and not from the idle fables brought from Hindustan, and explained by the missionary. It is true, that of many of these names I can give no account; but that will by no means imply, that no such nation exists; for who would think that Tarout meant a Chinese, or Kula an European?
|Loo mioo iawa taha.||Of men the nations one and an hundred.|
|1 Myam-ma,||The proper name of the Burmas,|
|2 Ta-lain,||The inhabitants of the kingdom of Pegu.|
|3 Yun,||The inhabitants of Syammay or Chiamay|
|4 Yoo-da-yuy,||The Siamese.|
|5 Sham,||The grand Siams of M. De La Loubere.|
|6 Layn-fayn,||The inhabitants of lower Laos or Lanjans.|
|7 Gium,||These are two small rude tribes living in hilly and woody trails in the Sham country.|
|9 Dhe-nu,||A rude tribe inhabiting the banks of the river Thalluayn, north, from Martaban.|
|10 Ka-rayn,||A rude tribe inhabiting the woods of the Pegu kingdom, and those near Prone.|
|12 Padeik-ka-ru,||The Europeans, or the natives of the West.|
|13 Da-way,||Another western nation; but which, I could not learn.|
|14 Reek-kaik,||The natives of Tavay.|
|15 Ayn-giay,||Said to live between Cussay and the Kiaynduayn.|
|16 Ta-nayn-tha-re,||The natives of Tenajferim, Hermits.|
|17 Sa-ge,||Said to live near Cussay.|
|19 Ta-rout,||The Chinese.|
|20 Ta-rask,||The Tartars governing China,|
|21 Layn-thosk,||Said to be an independent people living near China.|
|22 Pan-the,||Inhabitants of the mountains north-east from Ava, who pickle the tea leaves so much used in the Burma kingdom.|
|26 'Zu-laung,||Said to live seven days journey west from Ava.|
|27 'Zu-le,||Live north from the last mentioned people.|
|30 Zan-da,||Zandapurt is the name of the capital of Laos.|
|41 Myouri,||A people inhabiting the hills between Arakan and Chittagong, called by the Bengalese Moroong.|
|43 Pat-tic,||The Malays of Acheen,|
|58 A-myayn,||A Burma city of this name.|
|59 Ka-kiayn,||A wild people on the frontiers of China.|
|60 Thouk-ka-Ha,||A Siamese city of this name.|
|64 Payn-wa,||A Burma city of this name.|
|66 La-wa,||A very numerous tribe inhabiting the woods to the east of the Martaban river.|
|80 Theek,||The people inhabiting the eastern branch of the Naas river, who have sent a colony to the upper parts of the Curnasooly, and who are called by the Bengalese, Chain and Chainmas.|
|83 Ka-thee,||Cussay or Meckely,|
|86 Poun-na,||The Brahmens,|
|89 Ka-du,||A tribe between Martaban and Siam.|
|97 Kiayn,||A numerous tribe in the mountains separating Ava from Arakan.|
|99 La-waik,||The capital city of Cambodia.|
But let us now return to the description of Zabudiba, as extracted by the
missionary from the Burma writings.
"XXIX. In the most northern parts of Zabudiba, the Burma writers place an immense mountain, of which the perpendicular height is 500 juzana, and the extent it occupies is in circumference 9000 juzana. It is named Hemavunta, on account of the perpetual snow with which it is covered;44 and consists of 14,000 small mountains, one piled on another. In the declivities of this mountain are seven lakes, which receive the water produced by the melted snow. Of these lakes the depth is fifty juzana, and the circumference 150. From these lakes spring five great rivers, one of which is named Gunga; and from these rivers arise five hundred smaller streams. On Hemavunta grow various species of sandalwood: on this mountain live many Nat of the kind named Zadumaharit: and here are found the kings of elephants, and of horses, with [p.231] many other animals not to be found near the habitations of man. Of these lakes the most celebrated is called Anaudat,45 which is surrounded by five mountains. These mountains, which are five hundred juzana high, incline their lofty summits over the lake, and prevent the fun's rays from reaching its waters, except for a short space annually, when the sun is in the inner road.
"The bowels of one of these mountains contain most copious mines of gold, and even its surface is thickly covered by that precious metal. The surface of the second mountain is covered with silver, and it contains also rich silver mines. The third contains mines of diamonds and rubies, and these stones glitter on its surface. The fourth of these mountains is also impregnated with all manner of jewels; and the fifth is covered with sandalwood, clove and nutmeg trees. In this aromatic mountain are three arched habitations; one of gold, another of silver, and a third of carbuncle; and before these abodes grows a flowering tree one juzana high. In this delightful place dwell certain hermits, and men of eminent sanctity and morality, who appear in this world when the law of any god ceases. For the Burma writings declare, that when a god appears, and reveals his law, men are only bound to observe it for a fixed number of years after his death, at the expiration of which time every one is at liberty to follow the law of nature. Such is the brightness proceeding from these mountains, that it excludes the darkness of night.
"The water of Anaudat is limpid like crystal, nor does any foul thing live on its shores. Neither turtle nor fish dare swim in it; for the water is destined to be the drink of those illustrious saints above-mentioned. Only some Nat giants sport in the lake.
"On the eastern bank of Anaudat is the image of a [p.232] lion's head, on the southern that of an elephant's, on the western that of a horse's, and on the northern that of a cow's: and from these four heads are poured forth the streams of four rivers. The water which proceeds from the lion's mouth, after making three turns round the lake, and mixing with the other waters, rushes through the eastern parts of Hemavunta; and after flowing through many inhospitable regions, at length falls into the eastern sea.46 In the same manner the waters, which pass through the northern and western mouths, after running thrice round the lake, form two rivers; one falling into the western,47 the other into the northern sea.48 The water which flows from the elephant's mouth, after turning, like the others, three times round Anandat, runs directly south for sixty juzana, when ascending a small mountain, and rushing over an immense rock, it forms another lake fifty juzana in circumference; passing thence through a subterraneous passage for sixty juzana, it meets a great mountain,49 which divides it into five large rivers, each of which has its proper name: and these are the five great rivers already mentioned, of which one is the Gunga or Ganges.50 From each of these five rivers proceed a hundred small ones; in all five hundred small rivers. But the banks of each of the four great rivers abound in that species of animal, from the image of whose head its waters rush out of the lake Anaudat. Thus the banks of the southern [p.233] river abounds in elephants, of the eastern with lions, of the northern with oxen, and of the western with horses."51
This fable was at Amarapura often mentioned to me. The names of the five hills surrounding Anaudat are, Sudasana, Pathoda, Gandomadena, Kelajapa, and Stitera. The five branches of the elephant or southern river are Gaynga, Yemuna, Mohe, Therapoo, and Rawad. I am convinced that this fable, not sufficiently understood, has been the foundation of the idea represented in many maps, of there being a lake Chiamoy, from whence the Ganges, Burrampooter, Ayrawade, and other great rivers, take their rife. This opinion was confirmed by the mention of Chiamay made by M. De La Loubere; but the city so named by that excellent author, (as the maps I perfected to Sir John Shore clearly prove,) is the capital of a kingdom at present subject to the Burmas, and situated on the river of Siam, which arises on the frontiers of China.
This topography, mentioned in the books of the Rahans, however incorrect, in my opinion clearly points out the country in which the doctrine of BOUDHA commenced. It must have been on the banks of some of the branches of the great southern river: and the northern parts of Hindustan are the most probable. BOUDDHA's knowledge of geography mutt have been very confined; but as we approach towards the place above mentioned, it assumes a form somewhat more particular and rational. From the accounts of the mountains, snow, seas, and rivers, given by his fol- [p.234] lowers, we may conclude that he was a near neighbour of Tibet: we may suppose, that he had seen the snowy mountains, and had heard of the great rivers running from thence into the Siberian, Chinese, and Caspian seas: and from his particularizing the branches of the southern river, we may conclude, that he dwelt on its banks. Had he been a native of Tibet, he never could have formed the gross misconception of the common origin of the Bengal and Oude rivers, nor of their manner of penetrating through the Sewalick mountains. I find that some persons52 have alleged BOUDDHA to have been a native of Aria or Korofan. On what reasons this opinion is supported, I have not learned: but I think very strong ones will be required to invalidate this topographical argument, for his having been a native of the north of Hindustan. Upon consulting a Brahmen of Bengal, who is acquainted with the Sanskrit language, he says, that BOUDDHA was king of Rahar, which, according to him, is bounded on the east by the river of Moorshedabad, and from thence extends to Benares, being nearly the same with the soubah of Behar.53
As far as relates to Hindustan, the Brahmens have adopted very nearly the geographical ideas of their predecessors the Rahans:54 but having come from Egypt, their knowledge of the western parts of the [p.235] world is much more extensive; nor need we require any further proof for their having come from Egypt than their complete knowledge of the Nile, which has been so ingeniously illustrated by the learned Mr. Wilford.
"XXX., Next to the lake Anaudal," continues the missionary, "the most celebrated is that called Zaddan, nearly equal in extent to Anaudat. In the centre of the lake, limpid water of a carbuncle colour occupies a space of twenty-five juzana, around which, in concentric circles, are placed five gardens, each a juzana wide. In these gardens grow the various kinds of flowering trees which thrive in water. Without the lake are fields of corn, esculent feeds, gourds, and cucumbers. Without these fields are gardens containing every kind of fruit trees: such as a garden of plantains, producing fruit as large as an elephant's trunk; a garden of ratans; and the like. Lastly, without these gardens are fields of cotton.
"All these fields and gardens surround one another in concentric circles, and each is a juzana wide. Without these gardens and fields the lake Zaddan is surrounded by a mountain one juzana high, of which the surface is covered with gold reflecting a light that makes the whole lake shine. This golden mountain is surrounded by another six juzana high, and full of carbuncles. This again is surrounded by a mountain five juzana high, and emitting from its side next Zaddan a splendour equal to that of the fun. Round this is another mountain four juzana high, and shining like the moon. Another mountain beyond this sparkles like crystal.
"And lastly come two mountains; the one two, the other one juzana high; and of both the interior surfaces are black.
"To the west of the lake Zaddan, in the golden mountain, is situated a celebrated cave, filled with gold and jewels, and of which the mouth extends twelve juzana. To the north is another lake, fifty juzana in length, and as much in breadth. Its limp- [p.236] id waters nourish various flowering trees, and its sands are the minute fragments of diamonds and crystals.
"Between these two lakes grows the great Gnaungbayn,55 a tree sacred among the Burmas, because under its shade, say they, GODAMA received his divine nature. Many smaller trees of the same kind surround the great Gnaungbayn, and under the shade of one of these is the king of the elephants wont to reside. This king, from the place of his abode, is often named the elephant Zadda. Eight thousand elephants, white, red, and black, are in his train; and he has three queens. When he goes into the lake, to wash and to amuse himself, he is attended by all the 8,000; part of whom go before and clear the way: others, while he is washing, weave crowns and belts of flowers, which, on his coming out of the water, they present to their king, who thus adorned returns to the great tree: the elephants then in proper order, first the white, then the red, and then the black, go into the lake to wash themselves: and on coming out, having adorned their bodies with flowers, they go and stand in the presence of their king. Then the black elephants plucking some flowers from the tree, give them to their females, who deliver them to the female red elephants, and these again to the white females, who present them to the king, and to his queens, that they may eat. Then the others disperse themselves through the woods, every one finding his own food. And thus they daily pass their time. During winter they live in the great cave above mentioned, and during summer under the great Gnaungbayn, which from its trunk sends forth 8,000 large roots, one for every elephant.
"XXXI. Near these same lakes, and the five others, are said to be found many extraordinary species of [p.237] wild beasts, and of birds: and among others five kinds of the lion that frequents certain great forests. The most celebrated of these is the lion Chalarasi, whose throat, legs and feet, and the tip of whose tail, are red; and from the top of whose head a read streak. runs along his back, and descending by his sides, terminates at the navel. His mane also is red, and his roar is heard through an extent of thirty-three juzana. The other animals, when they hear the tremendous found, dare not remain in their resting places. His agility is wonderful; and his fleetness such, that in a moment he runs a league, taking 140 cubits at each spring. When he wants to unload his bowels, to enjoy a female, or to satisfy his hunger, he comes out from his cave, and roars thrice terribly. The echo answers all around for three juzana: and before the echo has ceased, he has preyed on many deer, and other animals. His strength is so immense, that he kills the largest elephant with the same ease as another lion would the timid hare. It is further said, that this lion sleeps on his right side, with his tail under him, and with all his limbs properly disposed. When he awakes, if he finds that during his sleep he has altered this posture, as a kind of punishment he stays in his cave all that day. There is also another kind of lion, which has a human head, but a lion's body.56 This kind is never seen but when a God appears on earth.
"XXXII. In these regions dwells a king of the Nat BOMMAZO. He lives for the duration of a whole world, and his virtue is said to be great. It is related of this king, that at a certain time having passed through the whole world, he found all the habitations of the Nat nearly empty: for an immense multitude of Nat, as well as of men, had assembled in a certain kingdom to hear GODAMA, who was then preaching a divine sermon. Then [p.238] great envy seized on the Nat king, because he observed all the Nat giving a preference to the holiness and virtue of GODAMA. With his subjects therefore he went to a burial place in the vicinity of where GODAMA was preaching. After having rolled themselves among the ashes of the dead, and having put round their necks broken urns, with loud shouts, and beating on urns in place of musical instruments, they advanced to the multitude, who were listening to the preacher, in expectation of diverting the attention of the hearers from the sermon. Many, who were of a volatile disposition, at the unusual sound, turned aside their eyes; but the greater number neither looked a side, nor gave the smallest attention to the actions of the Nat; and GODAMA himself continued his discourse, as if nothing extraordinary had happened. The Nat therefore, perceiving that his attempt to disturb GODAMA was in vain, retired greatly discomposed.
"On another occasion, when the same great Nat BOMMAZO saw GODAMA passing, he said to his companions contemptuously, and ironically, that the virtue of GODAMA was great; and impudently proposing to try which of them could perform the greatest miracle, he said, 'O GODAMA, let each of us hide his body, and see which will best discover the other.' Although GODAMA was sensible of the childishness of such a trial, yet fearing, if he declined it, that both men and Nat would be apt to undervalue his divinity, he mildly indulged the Nat, desired BOMMAZO to hide himself, and at the same time with his hands he covered his face. The Nat prince by his power immediately changed his body into a particle of sand, and penetrating into the centre of the earth 100,000 juzana deep, he there hid himself. But GODAMA, although he had kept his eyes shut, perceived every thing by the power of his divine wisdom, and going to the aperture through which the grain of sand had entered, he covered with his left hand the opening, while with [p.239] his right he moved the earth, and forced the Nat from his concealment. He then said, 'O Nat, come forth!' The great BOMMAZO, thinking that GODAMA had done this by chance, wanted again to hide himself: but GODAMA called out, and said, 'O Nat, do you not know, that I am acquainted with the most secret thoughts of your heart? Come out then, nor any longer pretend not to hear.' Then the Nat perceiving that he could be no longer hid, came out, and turning to GODAMA, said, ' Now, in your turn, conceal yourself.' GODAMA not converting his great body into a grain of sand, but into a most minute and invisible atom, flood upon that part of the BOMMAZO which is between the eyebrow and the eyelid, and called out, 'Now seek me.' The BOMMAZO hearing the voice of GODAMA very near, immediately opened his eyes; and when he could see nothing near, he began to look every where after GODAMA. He searched the four great islands of this earth, and the two thousand small ones; he examined the whole ocean, and the lofty and inaccessible mountains of Zetchiavala; from thence ascending Mienmo, he visited the habitations of all the Nat, the Rupa, and Arupa: he then penetrated into several other worlds; but being at length fatigued, and declaring himself overcome, he said, 'O great GODAMA, no longer hide thyself, but appear.' Then GODAMA forthwith creating a magnificent ladder, composed of gold, and ornamented with pearls, applied it to the eye of the great BOMMAZO; and assuming the natural size of his body, and the most splendid ornaments, with the greatest pomp, descended to the ground from the eye of the BOMMAZO. This miracle being seen, the great Nat astonished, threw himself at the feet of GODAMA, and humbly confessing his arrogance and pride, besought pardon; and from thenceforward, he venerated BOUDDHA as a God: and not only during the life of GODAMA, but ever since his death, this Nat has continued to worship him carefully and devoutly."
OF THE DESTRUCTION AND REPRODUCTION OF WORLDS
"XXXIII. The Burma writings allege three remote causes for the
a world; luxury, anger, and ignorance. From these, by the power of fate, arise
the physical or proximate causes; namely, fire, water, and wind. When luxury prevails, the world is
fire; when anger prevails, it is dissolved in water; and when ignorance
prevails, it is dispersed by wind. The Burmas do not suppose, that a world is
destroyed and a new one instantaneously
regenerated; but that the destruction takes up the space of an Assenchiekat,
that the reproduction takes up another,
and that a third Assenchiekat intervenes between the end of the old world and
the beginning of the new.
"XXXIV. Before we proceed to explain the opinions of the Burmas concerning the destruction of a world, it will be necessary to recollect, that they suppose sixty-four alterations in the length of man's life to happen during the existence of one world. They suppose also, that almost the whole human race perishes at each of those sixty-four periods, in which the length of life is reduced to ten years. And they farther suppose, that this destruction befalling the human kind is analogous to the crimes which have produced the fatal abbreviation of life. Thus when luxury prevails amongst men, the greater part of them perish by hunger, thirst, and wretchedness: when anger is the cause of short life, perpetual contentions and wars arise, and the bulk of mankind perishes by the sword or spear: finally, if ignorance be the prevailing crime, mankind, worn out by a horrid consumption, waste away to mere skeletons. After the greater part of men have by such disasters perished, a great rain falls, and sweeps away into the rivers the unburied bodies and filth. Then follows a shower of flowers and sandalwood to purify the earth: and all kinds of [p.241] garments fall from above. The scanty remains of men, who had escaped from destruction, now creep out from caverns and hiding places, and repenting of their sins, from henceforward enjoy longer lives."
The Burmas not only conceive, that the length of mens' lives is extended by virtue, and shortened by vice; but also that moral excellence, especially in their princes, is followed by much physical advantage, by a favourable change in the seasons and productions of the earth, and especially by a great abundance of the precious metals and stones. This doctrine of the Divine Providence bestowing physical rewards upon moral excellence, although perhaps in many cases prejudicial to the good of society, seems to have been much admired by the late emperor of China Yong-tching, who was by no means a superstitious prince, but appears even to have rejected all the revelations introduced by various sects into his dominions. In consequence of some political intrigues of the Jesuits, as it is commonly supposed, he had banished the missionaries, which no doubt gave great uneasiness to many of their converts. Two governors of provinces endeavoured to persuade him, that, wherever temples of the God of armies (probably churches) had been erected, those provinces were exempted from locusts, and other destructive vermin: other officers had mentioned to him different superstitious expedients for procuring rain. In his answer, of which Crosier57 has favoured us with a translation, he indeed treats as a ridiculous error the belief that prayers offered up to pretended beings can remedy our afflictions: but he at the same time laws it down as an infallible doctrine, that our plains may be desolated by inundations, drought, or insects, as a punishment inflicted by heaven on the emperor or his officers, who having deviated from integrity and justice, by that means may be brought back, to a sense of their duty.
"XXXV. But to proceed with the account of the destruction of a world; the
Burma writings relate, that 1,000 years before such an event, a certain Nat
descends from the superior abodes to this island. His hair is dishevelled, his countenance mournful, and his garments
black. He passes every where through the public ways and streets, with piteous
voice, announcing to mankind the
approaching dissolution. In the same manner as the fowls of heaven and the fish
of the sea, by a certain natural instinct, have a foreboding of storms; so the
Nat in their minds perceive the
approach of a world's destruction. Then mankind are strongly excited to an
observance of the law, and especially to the performance of such good works,
as may entitle them to ascend to the
abodes of the Rupa and Arupa. These good works are chiefly four: charity, the
honouring of parents and old age, justice, and the love of our neighbours. The
Nat are thus solicitous to encourage
men in obtaining a place in the abodes Rupa and Arnpa, because when the world
is destroyed by wind in consequence of mens' crimes, all the habitations of
Rupa and Arupa perish: but when it
is destroyed by fire, or water, many of these abodes remain untouched.
"On hearing the terrible forebodings of the Nat, men shudder, and with their utmost power apply themselves to practise the four above-mentioned good works. The Nat also who inhabit Mienmo, and the superior abodes, are elevated to the different Zian. The infernal beings, even the lots of whose evil deeds have now expired, are born men, and endeavour to lead such a life as may entitle them to a place in the Zian. It is only for the impious, and for infidels, that there is no salvation. Transferred to the frigid spaces interposed between the different worlds, these sinners are there left to undergo eternal punishment. [p.243] Irrational animals are supposed to perish along with the world."
"XXXVI. It has already been stated, that the world is destroyed either by fire, or by water, or by wind. When it is to happen by fire, as soon as the Nat has ceased to admonish men, a heavy rain falls from heaven, fills all the lakes, causes torrents, and produces an abundant crop. Mankind, now filled with hope, sow seed more plentifully: but this is the last rain, not a drop falls for 100,000 years, and plants with every vegetating thing perish. Then die all animals, and passing on to the state of Nat, are from thence transferred to the abodes Zian or Arupa. The Nat of the sun and moon having now become Zian, these luminaries are darkened, and vanish. In their stead two suns arise, which are not Nat. The one always succeeds the other, rising when it sets; in that there is no night, and the heat consequently becomes so intense, that all the lakes and torrents are dried up, and not the smallest vestige of a tree remains upon the surface of the earth. After a long interval, a third sun arises. Then are dried up the greatest rivers. A fourth sun succeeds, and two being now constantly above the horizon, even the seven great lakes disappear. A fifth sun arises, and dries up the sea. A sixth sun rends asunder this and the other 1,010,000 earths, while from the rents' are emitted smoke and flame. Finally, after a very long interval, a seventh sun appears, by which Mienmo, and all the inhabitants of the Nat, are consumed: and as in a lamp, when the wick and oil are exhausted, the flame goes out; so when every thing in this and the other 1,010,000 worlds is consumed, the fire of its own accord will die away. From the last great rain, to the final extinction of the fire, is one Assenchiekat.
"XXXVII. Such is the manner in which the world is destroyed by fire. When the destruction is [p.244] produced by water, or wind, the circumstances are very similar. For when water is to destroy a world, at first there fall very gentle showers, which by degrees increasing, at length become so prodigious, that each drop is 1000 juzana in magnitude. By such rain the abodes of men, and Nat, some of the Zian, and all the other million and ten thousand worlds, are entirely dissolved. When a world is destroyed by wind, the Nat having finished his warnings, a fine rain falls. But it is the last rain during that world. After 100,000 years the wind begins to blow, and gradually increases. At first it only raises sand, and small stones; but at length it whirls about immense rocks, and the summits of mountains. Then shaking the whole earth, it dissipates this and the others, with all the habitations of the Nat, Rupa and Arupa, and scatters them through the immense extent of the skies.
"The adjoining plan shows the order in which the Burmas suppose the
successive worlds to be destroyed by fire, water, and wind.
"From this plan it will appear, that out of sixty-four times, the world is fifty-six times destroyed by [p.245] fire, seven times by water, and once only by wind; and that in the fame order as in the plan. The perpendicular lines represent the times of destruction, and the horizontal ones the proportionate height to which each destruction reaches. Thus when fire is the agent it reaches to the height No. 1. and the five inferior Zian are destroyed. After a series of sixty-four destructions of the world, the last of which happens by wind, the first of the next series is occasioned by fire, and the same order is repeated. The world which immediately preceded this, was destroyed by fire, which reached to the height marked No. 4.
"XXXVIII. The conceptions of the Burmas relative to the reproduction of a world now come to be explained. As we have seen, they allege three causes of destruction, fire, rain, and wind; but, according to them, the only cause of reproduction is rain. One Assenchiekat after the destruction of a world rain begins to fall like mustard seed, and increases by degrees till each drop becomes 1000 juzana in size. This rain fills all the space, which had been formerly occupied by the destroyed habitations, and even a greater: for by the wind it is gradually inspiffated to the precise bulk of the former worlds. The rains, thus inspiffated by the wind, form on their surface a crust, out of which arise, first, the habitations of the Zian, and then Mienmo, with all the abodes of the Nat who dwell near that mountain. The rain continuing to be inspiffated, forms our earth, with the mountain Zetchiavala, and finally all the other 1,010,000; and all these are exactly in the same disposition, order, situation, and form, which they had in their former existence. These changes, both in the destruction and reproduction of worlds, take place, not by the influence of any creative power, but are occasioned by the power Damata, which is bed translated by our word fate.
"XXXIX. It farther remains to be explained, how the inhabitants of a new world
are produced. The Burmas conceive, that on the surface of the newly-regenerated
world a crust arises, having the taste and smell of butter. This smell reaching the
nostrils of the Rupa and Zian,
excites in these beings a desire to eat the crust. The end of their lives as
superior beings having now arrived, they
assume human bodies, but such as are shining and agile, and descend to occupy
our earth, and the other 1,010,000, which are adjacent.58 These human beings for
some time live on this
preternatural food in tranquillity and happiness. But being afterwards seized
with a desire and love for property, the nectarious crust disappears as a
punishment for their crime; and their bodies
being deprived of transparency and splendour, become dark and opaque. From this
loss of light, dark night commences, and mankind are in the utmost
perturbation: for as yet there is neither sun
nor moon. Immediately however the sun begins to appear in the east, dissipates
the fears of man, and fills him with delight. Hence is the sun called Suria.
But this joy is soon followed by new distress: for the sun performing round Mienmo his daily revolution, is
soon hid by that mountain, and darkness again commences. Men are again afflicted
by this new deprivation of light, and in perturbation exclaim, 'O that light,
which came to illuminate the world, how quickly hath it vanished!' While they are with ardent vows desiring another
light, behold in the same eastern region,
and in the beginning of night, the moon appears accompanied by all the stars,
and all mankind are wonderfully delighted. Now they say to one another, 'How
timely is this appearance! This
luminary has appeared as if it had known our necessity; let
[p.247] us therefore call it Zania.59 This appearance of the
sun, moon, and stars,
happened on a Sunday, at the full moon of the month Taboun, which corresponds
partly with our March: and at this very instant of the sun's appearance, every thing on the earth became
such as it has
ever since continued to be. As when rice is boiled, some of its particles. will
remain crude and undressed, while the
remainder is sufficiently boiled; so likewise, say the Burma doctors, by the
power of Damata, or fate, part of the earth remains plain, part rises into
mountains, and part sinks into valleys.
"XL. In the foregoing paragraph it has been mentioned, that on the surface of the earth there had been generated a certain crust like butter, which had disappeared, as soon as avarice, and the desire of property, began among men. This crust penetrating the interior parts of the earth, and reaching the great rock Sila-pathavy, converted its upper parts into mud, earth, and dust. When the butyraceous crust descended into the earth, in its stead sprung forth a certain climbing plant, which also had the taste of butter. This plant continued to be the common food of men till avarice again prevailed; then it disappeared. In its place, from the merit of certain good men, there came out of the earth's bowels a kind of excellent rice already cleared of its husk. Pots also filled with this rice grew of their own accord; and men had only to place them on a stone then common, which spontaneously emitted fire sufficient to boil the rice. Every where also were to be found meats various according to each person's desire.
"In the beginning, when men fed on the crust, and on the climbing plant, the whole of this food was changed into flesh and blood: but when they began to eat rice, the grosser parts of that diet required [p.248] after digestion to be evacuated. In consequence, the different canals, and organs, necessary in the human body for evacuation, were of their own accord generated. After having eaten rice, men began to have luxurious desires, and the different organs of sex appeared; for before that time mankind were neither male nor female. Those who in a former life had been males, now obtained the male organs of sex; and those who had been women, obtained female organs. When the difference of sex first appeared, men contented themselves with mutual lascivious glances: but afterwards they married. Nevertheless there remained many virgins of great virtue, and many holy men, who were called Manussa Biamma. These neither practised agriculture, nor any mechanical art; but only underwent the great labour of making offerings and bellowing alms. These men long observed inviolate chastity: but when in the progress of time they perceived their numbers daily lessening, many of them, in order to raise up an offspring, contracted marriages, and those who are now called Brahmens, are descended from these lad alliances. The Manussa, Biamma who had retained their chastity, were very indignant on hearing of this conduct in their companions; and loathing much their depravity, ever after held them in the utmost; contempt, spit in their faces, and abhorred to have any community with them in eating, clothing, or dwelling. From this, say the Burma doctors, has arisen among the Brahmens the custom of not eating or washing with the rest of mankind. But although the law of GODAMA permits marriages; yet as, without the strict observance of celibacy, no person can arrive at Nieban, so therefore all wise men have pondered marriage as a deed not of a perfect nature.
"XLI. The Biamma, who had married, by degrees built houses, villages, and towns: but when they began to multiply, there arose among them [p.249] contentions and quarrels; for avarice prevailing, every one consulted his own immediate interest, without attending to the injury he might do to his neighbour. At length these disputes came to be determined by strength; and to put a stop to this violence, it was determined in common council to elect a prince, who should be able to reward according to merit, and to punish according to the atrocity of crimes. And a certain man being found amongst them, who excelled the rest in stature and beauty, and who had always been more observant of the laws than the others, this person was created king and lord of the earth: because he had been chosen by common consent, he was called Mahasamata; because he was made lord of the earth, he was called Kattia; and because he punished according to the laws, he was named Raza. From this Mahasamata descended a series of forty-four kings, of whom, according to the most learned of the Burmas, the tenth was GODAMA.60
The account of the missionary here is not very clear. It is not evident, whether GODAMA, as descended from Mahasamata, was a Brahmen; or whether both princes are considered to be descended from the Biamma, who married before the Brahmens. If the former be the case, the Rahans make their god to be an apostate Brahmen: if the latter be their meaning, they suppose the Brahmens to be a sect of dissenters from their religion. I imagine, that little credit can be given to either opinion. The Rahans are evidently mistaken in their account of the origin of the Brahmens; for the aversion to eating in common with others does not originate with mankind, but with the Brahmens. I think it indeed probable, that this account has been lately framed by the Rahans, with a view of rendering odious to their followers a race of [p.250] priests, so formidable among ignorant people from their hypocrisy, mortifications, and impudent pretensions to supernatural powers.
I think that Sir W. Jones and Paulinus have succeeded in proving, that the religion of the Brahmens is essentially the same with that of the Egyptians; and therefore I mull think it probable, that the two religions had a common origin: but notwithstanding the etymological labours of the latter author, I must agree with the former, and with M. Anuetil du Perron, in thinking, that Egypt is the source from whence this worship has been spread over a great proportion of the world. In fact, during the most remote periods, to which history reaches, we find this religion universally established in Egypt. Later, but as soon as our knowledge extended to India, we find there established two sects: the Magi, and the Samanians, or priests of GODAMA. We afterwards learn, that the Brahmem were a set of priests in India following nearly the fame worship with those of Egypt. We find them about the time of CHRIST gaining a superiority over the worshippers of BOUDDHA; and about nine hundred years afterwards, we find them totally overthrowing his doctrine in its native country. That the Vedas, which are commonly supposed to be the oldest books of the Brahmens, are inferior in antiquity to the time of BOUDDHA, is evident from the mention which they make of that personage. The strongest objection against this opinion of the Egyptian origin of the Brahmenical worship, appears to me to be the cosmography of the Brahmen, the same nearly with that of the Rahans, and in my opinion evidently framed in the north of Hindustan. A solution of this difficulty may however be given. We may readily suppose the Brahmens to have been a colony of Egyptians, who formed their first establishments in [p.251] the vicinity of Bombay;61 and by degrees contrasted their superstition on the ignorance of the Hindus, adapting the African deities and mystical philosophy to the Asiatick fables and heroes, and carefully introducing the Egyptian cast and ceremonies with all their dreadful consequences.
"The Burma doctors," continues the missionary, "admit of four classes of men: the first, descended from Mahasamata, are princes; the second, descended from the Manussa Biamma, who married, are the Brahmens; the third, descended from such men as married before the Manussa Biamma, are the Sathe or rich: in the fourth class, called Suchive, are included all other men, merchants, artificers, labourers, and the like."
This opinion might be supposed to imply, that the sect of BOUDDHA admitted of cast, in a similar manner with that of the Brahmens; but as far as relates to its followers in the Burma empire, and in Siam, I can assure the reader, that so cruel and so abominable a distinction is utterly unknown, except by report, and from the example of the Hindus settled in those countries. At what time then was the doctrine of cast established in Hindustan? Pliny is the only ancient author to whom on this subject I can at present refer. He mentions a division of ranks among various Indian nations, which he calls vita multipartita: but from what he says, it would not appear to have been universal at the time he received his intelligence: neither is it by any means clear, that his vita multipartita means cast. It is to be observed, that all Roman citizens followed nearly the same manner of life: they were soldiers and statesmen; and when not employed in cither of [p.252] these capacities, they were all cultivators of the land. To them therefore a distinction of professions in the citizens of a state would appear strange: and I am apt to think, that the vita multipartita of Pliny more resembles the division of ranks and professions among the Burmas, or in modern Europe, than it does the cast of the Brahmcns. The passage I allude to is,
"Nanque vita mitioribus populis Judorum multipartita degnur. Alii tellurem exercent, militiam alii capessint, merces alii suas evehunt, respublicas optimi ditijsimi temperant, judicia reddunt, regibus ajjident. Quintum genus celebrates illic, et prope in religionem, versos sapientice deditum, voluntaria semper morte vitam, accenso prius rogo, finit.62 Unum super hcec ejl femiserum, ac plenum laboris immenji, et quo supra disa continentur, venandi elephantes domandique, lis arant, ils invehuntur, hcec maxime novere pecuaria: ils militant dimicantque pro finibus."63
It is to be observed, that this description neither agrees well with the present divisions of the different casts, nor does it call the learned Brahmens; on the contrary, Pliny speaks of the Brachmanoe not as a class or order in society, but as a nation, or as a name common to many nations. He mentions, that Seneca had attempted to procure the names of all the people inhabiting India, and had actually heard of one hundred and eighteen nations. The most considerable of these he afterwards enumerates: '''Gentes, quas memorare non pigeat, Ismari, Cosyri, Izgi, et per juga Chisiotofagi, multaruvique gentium cognomen Brachmanoe quorum Maccocalinges, flumina Pumas et Cainas (quod in Gangem instuit) ambo navigabilia."63
This circumstance surprises me, as the general recollection of my reading induces
me to believe, that the Brahmens, as a religious sect, had been established in
India before the time of Alexander,
from whose expedition Pliny's knowledge of the northern parts of Hindustan is
chiefly derived. To those who have an opportunity, I leave it to determine the
time when Brahmen came to be the
name applied to the religious of India. With Pliny it seems to be analogous to
the Brahmens of Kushup, or perhaps the Biamma of the Rahans. Mr. Harington has
suggested to me, once I wrote
the above passage, that all the countries in which Brahma was worshipped might
be called Brahmenical, an opinion which I think, not improbable. If it be just,
it will show the progress made by the
Brahmens in India in the fourth century before the birth of CHRIST.
"XLII. It being admitted, that all mankind are the offspring of the same stock, namely of the Biamma who descended from the abodes of the Rupa; a certain Burma doctor asks, why there is not the same language among all nations; and whence arises that variety of manners, religions, complexions, and features, so observable among the inhabitants of this earth? This same doctor thinks he answers this question, by saying that the first inhabitants of the world, after having greatly multiplied by marriage, were forced to emigrate into various parts of the earth; and as in these the climate, air, water, natural productions, and temperature, are extremely different, such circumstances could not have failed to produce an effect on the manners, religion, and appearance, of those who were under their influence. For if in one kingdom the inhabitants vary in stature and colour, how much more evident must this difference be amongst the inhabitants of remote countries? And as children descended from the same parents are called by different names; so of [p.254] the descendants of the Biamma, some are called Burmas, some Cussays, some Peguese, and some Siamese. He also alleges, that, according to a person's lot of good or evil deeds, he is born either a Burma, or a Siamese, or a European. It sometimes also happens, that he who was at first born of an ignoble family, shall afterwards be born of an illustrious race: but this not from his original lot of nativity, but from some accidental good works. For diversity of names the same author thus accounts. It may so happen, says he, that the same person, according to the different actions he may have performed, may be considered in different points of view, and thus obtain different appellations: and this he confirms by the example of GODAMA, who, according to his various attributes and excellencies, is called by various names.
"The same author inquires, by what power and cause the various kinds of trees and herbs have appeared in the world? He supposes them to have arisen from the feeds of the antecedent world contained in that rain by which the new earth was reproduced. The same however he does not venture to affirm of the mines of gold, silver, and precious stones, which he alleges have not from the beginning existed in the world, but have originated from the virtues of good men. Thus when just and upright princes reign on earth, and when many men are celebrated for sanctity and virtue, then the tree Padeza appears; from the heavens showers of gold and precious stones descend; in the bowels of the earth many mines of gold and silver are discovered; the sea also throws up on its shores various kinds of riches, and whatever is sown comes to perfection. On the contrary, when unjust kings have reigned, or when men have neglected the laws, not only have new riches remained undiscovered, but all the old wealth has disappeared; the mines of gold and silver have been exhausted; [p.255] and the fruits of the earth have become of such a noxious quality, as to induce upon mankind misfortune, disease, and pestilence."
Such are the general doctrines of the sect of BOUDDHA, as extracted from the writings of the Rahans by Sangermano; doctrines which, although intended to lead mankind to the performance of good works, are involved in the most puerile and absurd fables.
The religion of the Burmas is singular, as exhibiting a nation considerably advanced from the rudeness of savage nature, and in all the actions of life much under the influence of religious opinions, and yet ignorant of a Supreme Being, the creator and preserver of the universe. The system of morals however recommended by these fables, is perhaps as good as that held forth by any of the religious doctrines prevailing among mankind. The motives also by which these fables excite to good works, unite the temporal nature of the Jewish law to the future expectations of the Christian dispensation: while having adapted the nature of the rewards and punishments to the conception of our present faculties, they have all the power of the Mohammedan paradise; and having proportioned these punishments and rewards to the extent of virtue or vice, they possess the justice of the Roman purgatory, but without giving to priests the dangerous power of curtailing its duration. BOUDDHA has no doubt given to the bestowing alms on the clergy a conspicuous place among the virtues: but his clergy for support are entirely dependant on these alms; as they have not ventured to propose any stated, lasting, or accumulating property, being annexed to their order; nor have they assumed to themselves any rank or power in the management of secular affairs. Except this elevation of an inferior virtue to the rank of an important duty, and the merit which we shall find given to the ceremony [p.256] of pouring forth water on certain occasions, there is perhaps no considerable objection to any of the morality recommended by GODAMA, unless it be his considering it criminal to put any animal to death for the use of man;65 and his representing celibacy as a kind of virtue, or at least as a more perfect state than marriage: an idea, though common to some of the authors of prevailing religions, yet certainly productive of much misery, and of the worst consequences. It must however be confessed, that the practice of morality among the Burmas is by no means so correct, as might be perhaps expected among a people whose religious opinions have such an apparent tendency to virtue. In particular, an almost total want of veracity, and a most insatiable cruelty in their wars and punishments, are observable among them on the slightest acquaintance.
Having now considered in a general manner the religion and science of the Burmas, I must descend somewhat more to particulars: and in giving an account of their faith, I cannot follow a better guide than the treatise of the Zarado. It will give the reader not only a faithful abridgment of the religious doctrine. of the Rahans, but will also show him the progress made by the best informed priests of the country in the art of composition and instruction.
But as a preface to this treatise, I must here insert some observations on the history and name of the god.
The author of the Alphabetum Tibetanum supposed BOUDDHA to have been the same with the Jesus of the Manicheans; and father Paulinus, in his triumph over this absurdity, denies that any such person ever existed. Entirely neglecting the authority of the [p.257] numerous sects of BOUDDHA, who all suppose him to have really lived, and to have been an Indian prince, the learned Carmelite from some coincident attributes believes BOUDDHA and Hermes to have been the same. He supposes them, as well as all the other gods of the Greeks and Brahmens, not to have been real beings, but personifications of the elements and heavenly-bodies. In applying this supposition to BOUDDHA, as worshipped by the Rahans, he quite overlooks the essential difference of their making GODAMA an only God, and that the doctrine of personification necessarily implies polytheism, a system of belief held in abhorrence by these priests. I think it a more probable opinion, when the Brahmens introduced their doctrine into Hindustan, that they could not venture to deny the divinity of the god of the country; but on comparing his attributes with those of their different gods, that they alleged him to be the same with their Toth; and by adopting him and his titles into the list of their deities, and many of the prejudices of his followers into their capacious system, they greatly facilitated the progress of their doctrine. It is true, that the various accounts of GODAMA, said to be given in the legends of the different nations following his religion, agree so little together, that they can hardly be made matter of historical evidence. But many of these differences may have arisen from the mistakes of travellers; and it is only by procuring faithful translations of the different legends, that we can be enabled to determine what credit is due to their contents. In the mean time I must say, that I know of no plausible reason for believing that GODAMA did not exist, and was not an Indian prince, as his followers universally allege. The father, although a catholic, seems to found his objection on the supposition, that mankind could never be so absurd as for any length of time to worship a man.66 But the whole difficulty of Paulinus is [p.258] removed by the doctrine of GODAMA. His followers are, strictly speaking, atheists, as they suppose every thing to arise from fate; and their gods are merely men, who by their virtue acquire supreme happiness, and by their wisdom become entitled to impose a law on all living beings. If the BOUDOHA of the Rahans were merely the genius of the planet Mercury, as Paulinus so violently urges,67 why do his followers place his abode or palace in the lowest habitation of Nat among beings equally liable with mankind to old age, misery, change, and gravity? That the Egyptian religion was allegorical, I think, the learned father, with many other writers, have rendered extremely probable; and consequently I think that the doctrine of the Brahmens has in a considerable measure the same source: but I see no reason from thence to suppose, that BOUDDHA, RAMA, KISHEN, and other gods of India, may not have existed as men: for I have already dated it as probable, when the Brahmens arrived in India, that they adapted their own religious doctrine to the heroes and fabulous history of the country. Neither do I think it altogether impossible, that even in Egypt the priests, who at first introduced the worship of the elements and heavenly bodies, afterwards applied to these deities the names of such persons as were moat celebrated among their countrymen, and intermingling the legendary tales concerning these personages with their own mystical philosophy, produced that absurd mass of theology, by which a great part of mankind have been so long subjugated.
Different learned men have supposed BOUDDHA to have been the same with Noah, Moses, or Siphoas, thirty-fifth king of Egypt: but as I have not present access to the works of Huet, Vossius, or Tourmont, I do not know on what reasons such suppositions have been formed. Sir W. Jones supposed BOUDDHA to have been the same with Sesac or [p.259] Sesostris, king of Egypt, "Who by conquest spread a new system of religion and philosophy, from the Nile to the Ganges, about 1,000 years before CHRIST."68 The affinity of the religion of Egypt with the present superstition of Hindustan, and the fatal resemblance of the words Sesac and Sakya, one of the names of GODAMA, seem to have given rife to this supposition. In my opinion, however, no two religions can be well more different, than that of the Egyptian polytheist, and that of the Burma unitarian. Sesac or Sesostris is indeed placed by antiquarians at the time to which the learned judge alludes: but I shall hereafter have occasion to show, that, according to the most probable accounts, the origin of the religion of GODAMA ought to be referred to a much later period. That the religion of the Brahmens was introduced from Egypt, I have already mentioned as an opinion highly probable: but I suspect that this happened by no means so early as the time of Sesostris, whose object in his military expeditions appears rather to have been plunder, and the capture of slaves, than the propagation of religion or philosophy. The persecution of the Egyptian priests by Cambyses is a more likely period for any very extensive emigration into India; at the same time it is not improbable, that the Egyptians, who before this traded to India, had previously communicated some knowledge of their science to the Hindus.
It must be observed that the god, of whose doctrine we arc now going to give an explanation, has a great variety of names, which are apt to produce much confusion. GODAMA or KODAMA is the most common appellation among his worshippers in India beyond the Ganges. It seems also to be common among the Hindus, and by Sir William Jones copying I suppose from the Sanskrit, is written GOTAMAS.69 This [p.260] name Paulinus informs us may be written GODAMA or GAUDAMA, and literally signifies cow-herd, but metaphorically king.70 It has however been mentioned to me, on the authority of a pundit belonging to our supreme native court in Bengal, that the meaning of GODAMA is eminently wise, a sage. Somona, the name prefixed to this appellation by M. De la Loubere, signifies that he had adopted the dress of a Rahan, as I was informed by Mue-daung Seitagio, an intelligent Siamese painter at Amarapura. The same circumstance is implied by Bura-zayndu, one of the most common titles bellowed on him in the Burma empire: for his images are almost always in the dress of a Rahan. Many other appellations are given to GODAMA from the postures in which he is represented in his various images. Thus a famous image at Pougan is named ANANDA, which signifies plenty, from its supposed efficacy in producing that blessing.
In the Pali language, and among the Singhalese, a common name for this divinity is BOUDDHA. This Mr. Chambers writes BUDDOU,71 Paulinus BUDHA,72 and from these two authors I have collected the following corruptions of that name. BUDDA, or BUTTA, of Beausobre and Bochart, BOD of the Arabians, BODDA of Edrisi, Βουττα of Clemens Alexandrinus, and BAOUTH of M. Gentil. This name is, said to be an appellation expressive of wisdom.73 I can readily agree with these two learned men, that the POUT of the Siamese, POUT, POTT, POTI, POT of the natives of Tibet, and the BUT of the Cochinchinese, may also be corruptions of BOUDDHA. The Siamese painter told me, that the most common name for GODAMA among his countrymen is POUTEE SAT, which he interpreted into BURALOUN, a common appellation among the Burmas. Among these indeed I very rarely heard BOUDDHA used, probably because BURALOUN has [p.261] the same meaning. Mr. Chambers, following M. Gentil, and followed by Paulinus, conceives the FO or FOHI of the Chinese to be also a corruption of BOUDDHA. The etymology is here so forced, that I do not think it merits great attention: yet I allow it to be a probable opinion, although not completely established, that FO and BOUDDHA are the same god. The derivation of TAAUTOS, TOTH, or TOUTH, the Egyptian name for HERMES, from the same word BOUDDHA,74 seems to me perfectly fanciful: and I must entirely dissent even from the rational Mr. Chambers, when he supposes BOUDDHA to be the same with the WODEN of the Scandinavians. No two religions surely can be more totally different; nor can I conceive it to be a sufficient proof of a common origin, that the same day of the week is called after the two gods. No circumstance indeed seems to have occasioned more mistakes among the antiquarians, than from one or two coincident attributes to suppose two divinities of different nations to be the same: an error adopted by all the Greeks and Romans, whether from respect to their gods, or from national vanity.
A considerable degree of confusion is to be found in the various accounts of the religion of the Chinese. Grosier, the latest author on the subject, with whom I have met, seems by no means to have had good information. I know well that some of the Brahmenical gods are worshipped in China, having seen their images in that great temple opposite to Canton, which was the palace of the last native princes of the Chinese empire. I have lately seen some elegant drawings of the Chinese gods, belonging to the Reverend Mr. Brown, of Calcutta: and as far as I can trust to my memory, they appear to be very exact representations. Although the Chinese have given to these idols their own features, and dress, with new names, yet there can be no doubt of their being the same with the gods of the Brahmens. Among them YOU-LOE-FAT, the god of [p.262] wisdom, has a very strong resemblance to the images of GODAMA; and perhaps the Chinese ambassadors, and their suite, whom I saw at Amarapura worshipping the images of BOUDDHA, conceived the two deities to be the same. When in the 3rd century of the Christian era the superstition of a Chinese monarch had introduced into his dominions the religion of the Brahmens, his successors were too just; to hinder their subjects from worshipping what gods they thought proper; but they were too wise to admit the Brahmens as priests, or to tolerate their intriguing spirit, or their detestable system of government: a conduct entirely similar to that wisely adopted towards the Jesuits by the late emperor Yong-tching. On the whole I am inclined to believe, that the religion most commonly professed by the vulgar Chinese, has nearly the same affinity to that of the Brahmens, which the sect of Quakers has to our established church. It is true, that they have Bonzes, or regular priests: but these are neither Brahmens, nor are they acknowledged by the Rahans to be legitimate priests of BOUDDHA. But the worship of these Brahmenical gods, as communicated to the Chinese, is quite distinct from that of GODAMA. Whether the god FO be one of these gods of the Brahmens, or whether he be SHAKA, or whether all the three be distinct, I will not presume, for want of sufficient information, to assert: but there is a great probability, that a very considerable sect among the Chinese worship GODAMA under the name of SHAKA, or, as the Portuguese write it, XACA.
The sect of BOUDDHA is said by some to have been introduced into China in the year of our era 63.75 Others allege, that this event did not happen till the year 519: and that the apostle was a certain DARMA, third son of an Indian king, the twenty-eighth in descent from SHAKA, or as, the Dutch write, [p.263] SJAKA.76 The name SHAKA Sir William Jones wrote SAKYA, and Paulinus SHAKYA. It signifies, according to that learned etymologist, the cunning, the god of good and bad fortune.77 From China the religion of SHAKA seems to have spread to Japan, Tonquin, Cochinchina, and the most remote parts of Tartary.
It must however be observed, that the religion of Cochinchina, described by Boiret78 as that of BUT, THAT-DALNA, NHIN-NHITE or THICA MAUNI-PHUT, and alleged to have been introduced from Ceylon in the reign of the Chinese emperor Minh-de, seems to differ in many essential circumstances from the doctrine of the Burma Rahans. The Cochinchinese are alleged to suppose, that BUT created the heavens, the earth, and indeed the whole universe: and from Boiret's mentioning that they adore BUT as the principal deity, we may infer, that they allow of other gods. The priests of the Cochinchinese are alleged to be pretenders to the arts of magic, enchantment and necromancy, and to implore the divinity to assist them in such deceptions. In these circumstances the worship of BUT in Cochin-china differs from that of BOUDDHA in Ava; and I suspect, that there, as well as in China, the prevailing vulgar religion is the worship of the gods of the Brahmens freed from the doctrine of cast; and that BOUDDHA is with them the favourite god, as different members of the Egyptian theocracy in different places met with very different degrees of respect. Still however the accounts I have seen of the vulgar religion in these eastern regions are very unsatisfactory; and the hints given us by Alexander of Rhodes79 concerning the doctrine of THICCA in Tonkin and Cochinchina, [p.264] bear a much stronger resemblance to the worship of the Rahans, than the accounts of Boiret.
These various names applied to the god, of whom I am treating, are all appellatives, expressing his various attributes, as we use the terms, almighty, the most high, and other similar phrases, to denote the Creator of the universe. Many other appellations of BOUDDHA maybe seen in Paulinus, who copies them from the Amarasinha, a work of the Hindus; but as I do not know, that these titles are ever bestowed on GODAMA by those who worship him as the only god, I shall forbear to enumerate them.
The name by which this divinity was called on earth, was probably DHERMA or DHARMA rajah; although it must be observed, that among the Hindus it has never been customary to call any prince by his proper name. This custom has been communicated to the Burmas with such strength, that it is almost impossible to learn the name of any prince during his reign. His titles only can lawfully be mentioned; and the law is enforced with such rigour, that Burmas, even in Calcutta, shudder when requested to mention the dreadful name; nor am I satisfied, that either Captain Symes, or I, could ever procure the real name of the reigning monarch. DHERM rajah signifies, according to Paulinus, the virtuous or beneficent king,80 and may be only a title bestowed on that prince, whose real name, as his reign still continues, it may not be lawful to mention. This etymologist also alleges, that the name HERMES must be derived from the Sanskrit word DHERMA, signifying virtue or beneficence: although interpreter was imagined to be the meaning of this word by the Greeks, as the father probably would say, owing to their ignorance of the Samserdam, as he has chosen to name the language of the Hindus. His opinion however is supported with ingenuity; and the word Turm, which Winckelmann luckily found upon two old pots in Italy, is by no [p.265] means a weak support to an etymological reasoner. Having thus endeavoured to collect the various appellations bestowed on the god of the Burmas, I proceed with the translation of
A SHORT VIEW OF THE RELIGION OF GODAMA81
"A Catholic bishop, residing at Ava sometime ago, allied the chief Rahan, called Zarados Ura to give him some short treatise, which would explain the heads of the law taught by GODAMA. The Zarado, willing to satisfy the bishop, wrote for his use the following treatise:
''The gods who have appeared in this present world, and who have obtained the
perfect state Nieban, are four; CHAUCHASAM, GONAGOM, GASPA, and GODAMA,
Q. Of which of these gods ought the law at present to be followed?
A. Of the god GODAMA.
Q. Where is the god GODAMA?
A. GODAMA, at the age of thirty-five years, having attained divinity, preached his law for forty-five years, and brought salvation to all living beings. At eighty years of age he obtained Nieban, and this happened 2362 years ago.82 Then GODAMA said, After I shall have departed from this earth, I will preserve my law and disci- [p.266] ples for five thousand years: and he commanded that his images and relics should be worshipped, which has accordingly been ever since done.
"Q. In saying that GODAMA obtained Nieban, what is understood by that word?
"A. When a person is no longer subject to any of the following miseries, namely, to weight, old age, disease, and death, then he is said to have obtained Nieban. No thing, no place, can give us an adequate idea of Nieban: we can only say, that to be free from the four abovementioned miseries, and to obtain salvation, is Nieban. In the same manner, as when any person labouring under a severe disease, recovers by the assistance of medicine, we say he has obtained health: but if any person wishes to know the manner, or cause of his thus obtaining health, it can only be answered, that to be restored to health signifies no more than to be recovered from disease. In the same manner only can we speak of Nieban, and after this manner GODAMA taught.
"Q. Is not GODAMA the only true god on the face of this earth?
"A. GODAMA is the only true and pure god, who knows the four laws called
and who can bestow Nieban. In the same manner as on the destruction of a kingdom
many arise, who aspire
to the throne, and who assume the royal insignia; so when the time fixed for the
duration of the law preceding GODAMA had expired, and it had been prophesied for
a thousand years, that a new
god was about to appear, six men before the coming of GODAMA pretended, that
they were gods, and each of them was followed by five hundred disciples.
"Q. Did those false gods preach no doctrine?
"A. They did preach: but that, which they taught was false.
"Q. What did they teach?
"A. One taught, that the cause of all the good and evil, which happen in the
world, of poverty and wealth, of nobility and want of rank, as a certain
superior Nat of the woods, who on this
account ought to be worshipped by mankind. A second taught, that after death men
were by no means changed into animals, and that animals on being slain were not
changed into men: but that
after death men were always born men, and animals born animals.83
"A third denied the proper Nieban, and asserted, that all living beings had their beginning in their mother's womb, and would have their end in death: and that there is no other Nieban, but this death.84
"A fourth taught, that all living things neither had a beginning, nor would
have an end: and that every thing which happens arises from a fortuitous and
blind fate. He denied the lot of good and
evil deeds, which, according to the law of GODAMA, is the efficient cause of
all the good and evil that happen to living beings.
"The fifth taught, that Nieban consists in nothing more than the life of certain Nat and Biamma, who live for the whole duration of a world. He asserted, that the chief good works are to honour our parents, to endure the heat of the sun or of the fire, and to support hunger; that there is no crime in killing animals. He said, that such as performed these good works, would be rewarded in a future life; and that such as did the contrary, would be punished.
"The last taught, that there existed a being, who had created the world, and all things which are therein, and that this being only is worthy to be adored.85
"Now all these false gods or deities taught such things, not because they
believed them to be true: but in order to answer questions which had been
proposed to them, they said whatever
at the time came into their minds.
"Q. When the true god GODAMA appeared, did not the false gods renounce their doctrines?
"A. Some of them did: but others still continue obstinate: and with all these GODAMA fought in the kingdom Saulti near the tree Manche: what greater miracle can be performed?86
"Q. In this conflict who gained the superiority?
"A. GODAMA did: on which account the ringleader of the false gods was so ashamed, that tying a pot about his neck, he threw himself into a river, and was drowned.
"Q. The master being dead, did his followers renounce his doctrine?
"A. Some of them renounced his doctrine: but others did not. It is easy with your nails, or with Megnap,87 to take a thorn out of your feet or hands: but it is very difficult to pluck forth from the minds of men the doctrines of false gods.
"Q. Cannot this be done by any means?
"A. The warnings of just men, like the Megnap, can only effect it.
"Q. What are the warnings and doctrines of these just men?
"A. In the first place, whoever kills animals, or commits the other wicked actions, which are contrary to the five commandments, is liable to the [p.270] lot of evil deeds: but whoever bestows alms, practises the ten virtues, and adores god and the Rahans, will obtain the lot of good deeds. In the second place, in the same manner as the shadow and body are inseparable, so during all the successive destructions of future worlds, these lots of good and evil inseparably follow all living beings, and are the sufficient causes of all the good and evil, by which these beings are effected: from these lots beings are born noble, or ignoble; from them men pass into animals, or into Nat. This is the doctrine revealed by GODAMA, and it is called the doctrine of Sammadeitti. This doctrine is the great Megnap, or nail, which completely plucks forth from the minds of men the thorns of the deitti. O ye masters and wife men of all nations, Armenians, English, French, and Dutch, proclaim it to all living beings!
"Q. Did these six false gods, who taught that it is good to honour our parents and teachers, to suffer heat, cold, and the like, receive no benefit by the performance of such actions?
"A. As when any one eats bitter fruit, which he supposes to be sweet, in the act of eating he does not find it sweet, but on the contrary bitter: or as when any one drinks mortal poison, thinking it to be a valuable medicine, his so thinking does not prevent his death: so it is with these six deities, who pretended to be gods, and did not abjure their doctrine; although they endured hunger, thirst, heat, and cold, thinking such to be good, yet have they received no advantage, but have passed into the infernal regions, where they suffer many evils and tortures. Therefore, O ye teachers of the English, Armenians, Dutch, and others, and ye the wife men of all nations, take heed to the above example, and like lights in a dark place teach others, who wander in the errors of the deities, so that they may escape from these, as from an inhospitable and desert path, and arrive at the ample and straight road of the true doctrine and faith."
"Q. What is the doctrine, and law, which Godama delivered to be observed by
"A. It consists chiefly in observing the five commandments, and in abstaining from the ten sins.
"Q. What are the five commandments?
"A. I, From the meanest insect up to man, thou shalt kill no animal whatever. II, Thou shalt not steal. III, Thou shalt not violate the wife or concubine of another. IV, Thou shalt tell nothing false. V. Thou shalt drink neither wine, nor any thing that will intoxicate; thou shalt not eat opium, nor other inebriating drug. Whoever keeps these five commandments, during all successive transmigrations, shall either be born a nobleman, or Nat; and shall not be liable to poverty, nor to other misfortunes, and calamities.
"Q. What are the ten sins?
"A. These are called by the common appellation Duzzaraik, and are divided into three classes. In the first class are comprehended the works which are contrary to the commandments; namely, I, the killing of animals; II, theft; III, adultery. In the second class are contained; IV, falsehood; V, discord; VI, harsh and indignant language; VII, idle and superfluous talk. To the third class belong, VIII, the coveting of your neighbours goods; IX, envy, and the desire of your neighbours death, or misfortune; X, the following of the doctrine of false gods. He who abstains from these sins, is said to observe Sila: and every one who observes Sila in all successive transmigrations, will continually increase in virtue, till at length he will become worthy of beholding a god, of hearing his great voice; and thus he will obtain Nieban, and be exempted from the four known miseries, namely, weight, old age, disease, and death. We must also believe, that Godama taught, if we observe his laws, we shall see the other gods, who are to arise after him.
"Q. Besides these already mentioned, are there any other good works which ought
to be practiced?
"A. There are. One good work is called Dana; a second is called Bavana.
"Q. In what consists Dana?
"A. Dana consists in giving alms, particularly to the Rahans.
"Q. In what consists Bavana?
"A. It consists in thoughtfully pronouncing these three words, Aneizza, Doccha, and Anatta. By the word Aneizza is understood, that he who pronounces it, recollects, that by his particular situation he is liable to vicissitudes: by the word Doccha is understood, that by the same situation he is liable to misfortune; and by the word Anatta, that it is not in his power to exempt himself from being liable to change and to misfortune. Whoever dies without having observed the Sila, Dana, and Bavana, will certainly pass into one of the infernal states, and will become a Nirca, a Prietta, or some animal.
"Every one, who dies without the merit of some good action, performed during his life, may be compared to him, who, without a store of provisions, travels through inhospitable deserts: to him, who without arms, penetrates into a place abounding in robbers or wild beasts: to him finally, who in a small and leaky boat, attempts to pass a vast, tempestuous, and whirling river. Moreover whoever, either priest or layman, gives up himself to the five carnal works, or to the pleasures received by the five senses, who does not observe the five commandments, and who does not abstain from the ten sins called Duzzaraik, is like a moth, which attracted by the shining of a candle, flutters round the light, till it perishes in the flame: or he is like a person, who feeing a spot of honey on a sword, is unmindful of the edge, and in licking the honey cuts his tongue, and dies: or he is like a bird, who, eager for the [p.273] bait, does not perceive the springs laid for it: or like a stag, who running after the female, observes not the arms nor the snares of the hunger. This person not attending to future danger, but followed by the five carnal delights, will either pass to the infernal regions, or will transmigrate into an animal. By such similitudes did GODAMA teach.
"Revolving these things in your mind, O ye English, Dutch, Armenians, and others, adore GODAMA the true god; adore also his law, and his priests; be solicitous in giving alms, in the observance of Sila, and in performing Bavana. But a true and legitimate priest of GODAMA is not to be found except in this empire [i.e. Siam], or in the island of Ceylon: and you, O bishop, have obtained a great lot, who have been thought worthy, although born in one of the final islands depending on Zabudiba, to come hither, and to hear the truth of the divine law. This book, which I now give you, is more estimable than gold and silver, than diamonds and precious stones: and I exhort all English, Dutch, Armenians, and others, faithfully to transcribe its contents, and diligently to all according to the precepts therein contained.
"The title assumed by the writer of the above treatise was I Atuli Zarado, great-master of the king of the nine provinces of the Shan, of the province of Cussay, of the three provinces of Giun, Yun and Han, of the three provinces of Pegu, and of the seven provinces of Burma: prince of the golden umbrella, of the palace of the sun and moon; and also supreme lord of the white elephant, of the red elephant, of the black elephant, Sec. &c. &c."
OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
These titles of the chief priest of the country lead me to describe that order of men, so intimately connected with religion and learning.
All the priests of GODAMA are properly what in a Roman catholic country would be
called regulars. There are no secular or officiating priests, having charge of
the worship of the last part of the
community. These priests, by Europeans commonly called Talapoins, and by
Mohammedans, Raulins, are in the Burma language called Rahansindi in the Pali,
Thaynka. This is the proper
name, as in Europe similar priests are called monks: but as in catholic
countries the monks from respect are commonly addressed by the title of father;
so among the Burmas the Rahans
are commonly spoken to by the name Poun-gye, which signifies great virtue.
Somona or Samana is also a title bestowed on the priests of GODAMA, and is likewise applied to the images of the divinity, when represented, as he commonly is, in the priestly habit. From this name the whole sect of BOUDDHA have been by many called Samanians, a name frequently mentioned by the ancient writers, and said to be derived from the Sanskrit word Saman, signifying gentleness or affability.88 The learned Paulinus supposes the Samanians and Magi to have been the same, an opinion which he has been by no means able to render probable. The accounts of the religion of the Samanians, as extracted from the writings of the Rahans by Sangermano, the treatise of the Zarado, and the book Kammua, in my opinion show the two sects to be essentially different. The Magi believed in two principles, the one producing all the good, the other all the evil in the world. The former they compared to light or fire, and worshipped the sun and fire, as emblematical of the beneficent principle: but they worshipped no images. They were much addicted to astrology, and have even given their name to all pretenders to supernatural powers. But the Samanians consider every thing as arising from fate by means of water, and look on their divinity as merely a great moral teacher. DEVADAT they do not esteem a principle of [p.275] nature, but a wicked person now undergoing the punishment of his crimes; and who has involved mankind in sin and misfortune by teaching a doctrine contrary to that of GODAMA. Indeed the little mention made of him in the cosmography, in the book Kaminua, and by the Zarado, show that he is not so essential a being in the doctrine of Rahans, as Arimanius was in that of the Magi. Besides the Rahans worship images; and are so far from adoring fire, they never kindle one, lest they should destroy the life of some animal. Magic and astrology they also abhor, and detest bloody sacrifices. The Magi, on the contrary, sacrificed animals. There is even reason to believe,89 that human sacrifices were common among the followers of Zoroaster, and by them introduced into the horrible rites of a great part of the ancient world. I therefore conclude that the Magi were a different feet from the Samanians; and I doubt not, that they were a sect of much greater antiquity.
Paulinus also supposes the religion of the Magi to be the same with that of the Brahnens, or of ancient Egypt,90 but in this too I think he is mistaken. The good and bad principles of the Magi, and their want of images, of the personification of the deities, and above all, of cast, are great differences. Besides, the two systems are considered as distinct by the ancients, who surely were the best judges. The religion of the Magi, Paulinus, with great probability, contends91 came from India to Persia in the reign of Cyrus, about 560 years before the birth of CHRIST, and from Persia was afterwards dispersed over the western nations.92 How then could the father suppose the doctrine of the Magi to be the parent of the religion of Egypt? a religion which had subsisted there, and had been transferred to Greece, certainly many ages before the invasion of Cambyses.
These Rahans live together m convents or colleges, by them named Kiaung, which are by much the best habitations in the empire. They are, as far as I could judge, very decent in their lives, remarkably kind and hospitable to strangers, the best informed men in the country, and very highly respected by the inhabitants. Every college has a head named Zara, of which the literal meaning is reader; but the name may be translated abbot; though by the Portuguese missionaries these superiors of convents have been more commonly styled bishops. As every great personage builds a Kiaung, and procures the Rahan, who is his spiritual guide, to reside in it as superior; so there comes to be a kind of distinction in rank between the different Zaras: those who preside over convents built by the powerful and rich, having more spacious colleges, and more Rahans, under their authority in consequence of better accommodation, and greater means of subsistence, are no doubt more respected than those who are at the head of Kiaung is built by persons of leas distinction. In a particular manner is respected the Zarado, or royal abbot, who may be likened to the king's confessor. His apartments are very superb, his attendants very numerous: next to the king he is the person to whom the greatest external homage is paid: and he is permitted to deep under a Pyathap,93 a dignity not enjoyed by even the king's eldest son, who already possesses one half of the imperial power. But although these heads of colleges have thus different degrees of dignity, according to the rank of the person whose spiritual teachers they are; yet I understood, that every Zara managed the affairs of his own college without any appeal to the superior of the governor's convent, or even to the Zarado. What power the Zaras have over the Rahans, who live in their own convents, I do not know; but it is probably considerable, as they receive from their inferiors great marks of submission and respect.
The respect given by the lay inhabitants to all Rahans is very great. The road
on all occasions is yielded up to them; they are almost always addressed by the
names of Poimgye and Bura; and in
their convents they are permitted to use painting and gilding, things prohibited
to every other subject: nay, they are even in some cases permitted to plaster
the outside roofs of their Kiaungs white,
and white is the royal colour, the most distinguishing of all royal insignia,
and common only to God and the king. Although the priests are thus honoured, yet
even the highest of them retain the greatest simplicity in their manners. The
dress of the Zarado, when we had the
honour of visiting him, did not differ from that of the prostrate multitude, by
which he was surrounded. I was told also, that when some years ago he was at
used, like other Rahans,
to perform his rounds barefooted, and to receive from door to door the rice that
was offered as alms. In this perhaps
there was somewhat more than humility; as wherever he went, the streets were
covered with cloth, and the men were prostrated imploring his blessing; while
the women kept out of his way, as too imperfect beings to be in the presence of a man
so weaned from the
the senses. He is however a person of mild and agreeable manners, and seems well
informed; but with a considerable affectation of meekness, and of contempt for worldly cares. At
Loungye I met with a Zara of, my acquaintance begging rice in the
same manner as
the inferiors; and although he was
an old infirm man, he had ventured out to a considerable distance, and that in
I have already mentioned the charity of the Rahans, which is exerted especially towards strangers; consequently there is no country, where a stranger, unacquainted with every one, and an outcast, would be less likely to suffer want than in the Burma empire: nor during my stay there did I see one common beggar. In the neighbourhood of convents, the pious [p.278] founders generally build houses for the accommodation of strangers and travellers. These houses are commonly very good defences against the weather; nay, many of them are very handsome. Any person may there pass the day or night, and he is sure of being kindly received by the Rahans, and of being by them supplied with provisions. Besides this virtue, the Rahans are very humane, and in consequence have often disputes with the magistrates. It is a law, that no criminal can be executed within the gates of a city: nor can he be put to death, should a Rahan touch him when leading to the place of execution. This privilege the Rahans often exert; and although they no doubt are sometimes bribed thus to save a bad man, yet I believe they much oftener interfere to prevent injustice. Another great virtue of the Rahans is toleration. From the discourse of the Zarado, it is evident, that they wish to make converts to the religion of GODAMA, and that they think their religion intended to save all men who are willing to believe: but I never saw nor heard of any attempt by the Rahans to use violence in this conversion; or to hinder any man from worshipping God in whatever manner he thought proper; we every where saw tolerated the church, the mosque, and the pagoda: and their priests publicly permitted to use their peculiar dresses, and even to assume in their houses those kinds of roofs which are appropriated to officers of considerable rank. Religious processions are publicly made by foreigners; and many infidels are admitted to hold public offices, and places of some distinction: nay, some of these officers are allowed to preside at games instituted in honour of religious festivals.
As far as I could learn, the Rahans do not at all officiate in the temples, like the parish priests or secular clergy of Europe. Very few of them were present at any of the religious ceremonies or processions that I saw; not even in those made at the consecration of a young priest. Neither did I see many of them at the [p.279] temples, either on holy days, oral other times: and although some of their convents are generally situated in the neighbourhood of the greater temples, yet that is by no means universally the case: nor did I ever see any of them, who appeared to take charge of a temple, or of the images belonging to it. Their time seems to be employed in instructing the youth in reading, writing, and acquiring such knowledge as the nation possesses, especially in religion, history, and law; and in soliciting provisions for themselves, and for the needy. Their religious worship, I believe, they almost always perform within the walls of their own convents: in all of them they have images, to which at the usual times they chant their prayers.
It is said, that formerly there were convents of women, who entered into orders while young virgins, who continued for life to observe celibacy, and all the rules of the Rahans, and who were dressed in yellow. This has been abolished, probably by the policy of the kings now governing in eastern India who think, by the pleasures of a number of women, to allure men into their service. And now a few old women only enter into a kind of orders, shave their heads, and assume a white dress. These attend on the temples and on funerals, and are a kind of servants to the Rahans: although they never live within the walls of their convents. The Pali books, however, containing the form of admitting women into the sacerdotal order, and the rules for their conduct, are still to be found in the libraries of the Rahans.
By order to give a clear idea of the manner of life and duties prescribed to the Rahans, I cannot do better than insert a translation of a Latin version of the canonical book called Kammua. An elegant copy of the original Pali was lent by the king to Sir Johm Shore. The whole I shall endeavour to explain by notes: and to those who wish to enter more into particulars, I would recommend M. de la Loubere's [p.280] translation of the maxims of the Talapoins, given us in his invaluable account of the Siamese kingdom. It must be observed, that a translation of the Kammua, which is contained in the collection of Cardinal Borgia,94 seems to differ in some particulars from that given by father Sangermano. In the latter, no mention is made of fire and water being the principles of all things, of the purifications of the Rahans by fire and water, of these priests passing their time entirely absorbed in a meditation of the Supreme Being, or of the confession of sins on the days of the full and new moon. Father Paulinus alleges the Borgian Kammua contain all these circumstances: and I can only account for such a difference by supposing, that they are not contained in the original work, but in the explanatory glossary, which is said to accompany the Borgian copy. I never, however, heard of these doctrines prevailing among the Rahans: nor is there any hint given of them in the cosmography of Sangermano, or in the treatise of the Zarado.
TRANSLATION of KAMMUA-ZA,
"In the ceremony of ordination, before the Saheit95 is delivered to the
candidate, he must approach his master Upize,96 and say three times, 'Lord, are
not you my master Upize?' He is then ordered
advance to the Kammuazara;97 and having approached near, he is thus interrogated:"
Kammuazara. "O candidate, is this your Saheit?"
Candidate. "Verily my lord it is."
Kam. "O candidate, is this your garment?"
Cand. "Verily my lord it is,"
"Then shall the Kammuazara say, Retire from this, and wait at the
twelve cubits. He shall then read, addressing himself to the assembly of priests,
Let the assembly of priests hearken to
my words. The present candidate humbly asks from his Upize the sacerdotal rank: and
surely this is now both a convenient time and place for ordination. In
the mean time I will admonish the candidate. You O candidate hearken. At this it is by no means allowed you to tell
falsehoods, or to conceal the truth. There are certain defects, which are
contrary to the priesthood, and which prevent
any person from being received into the priestly order: and as you are now
before this assembly of Rahans to be interrogated concerning these defects, you
must answer truly, and declare, what defects are in you, and of what nature they are: what
defects you have not, and in what manner you are free from them. Do not be silent: but, left you
be hindered by fear or shame, bend
down your head. Now all those in the assembled council are about to interrogate
"Then same priests in the assembly shall thus interrogate the candidate.
Priest. "O candidate, are any of the following diseases on you? Are you
afflicted with the leprosy, or with any other foul disorder?
Candidate. "My lord I have no such disorder.
Priest. "Have not you the scrophula, or some kind of herpes?
Cand. "My lord I have not any such disease.
Priest. "Have you not the schirrhus, cancer, or itch?
Cand. "My lord I have not.
Priest. "Are you afflicted with the asthma, or cough?
Cand. "My lord I am not.
Priest. "Are you not maniacal, or do you not labour under those diseases which proceed from a corrupted blood, or from the influence of giants, Lamia, or evil spirits, or of the Nat of the woods and mountains?
Cand. "I do not my lord.
Priest. "Candidate, are you a human being?
Cand. "I am a human being my lord.
Priest. "Are you a male?
Cand. "I am a male.
Priest. "Are you a lawfully begotten son?
Cand. "I am a lawful son.
Priest. "Are you not in debt?
Cand, "I am not my lord.
Priest. "Are you not the dependant of some officer?98
Cand. "I am not my lord.
Priest. ''Have your parents given you leave?
Cand. "They have my lord.
Priest. "Have you completed your twentieth year?
Cand. "My lord 1 have completed it.99
Priest. "Have you not in readiness your Sabeit and garments?
Cand. "They are ready my lord.
Priest. "How are you called?
Cand. "I am called Naka; that is to say, candidate,
Priest. "What is the name of your master Upize?
Cand. "My master Upize is called Asseienteitatrit, or Excellency.
"After these questions the reader of Kammua shall again say, Most virtuous lord and priests here assembled, I beseech you to hear my words. This candidate humbly begs from his Upize to be admitted into the sacred order, and I have already given him admonition. Now certainly a very convenient time for my lords has arrived: the candidate ought therefore to approach the assembly, and beg this order from them. The priests shall then say, Approach. The candidate shall approach, and say, I ask the order of priesthood from the Rahans. My lords, if you have compassion on me, snatch me from the lay state, a state of sin and error; and appoint me to the sacerdotal state, a state of virtue and perfection; and three times shall the candidate pronounce these words. Then shall the Kammua- [p.284] zara say, My virtuous lords here assembled, attend to my words. This candidate has asked from his Upize the sacerdotal rank: and he, who thus asks, is without any defect or impediment, and has prepared all necessaries.100 The candidate also in the name of his Upize beseeches the assembly, that they would speedily make him a priest. Is it convenient and expedient for the assembly in the name of the Upize to confer on this person the order of priesthood? To whatever person this appears convenient let him be silent; but if the candidate to any one appear unworthy of the rank, let that person speak. The reader shall thrice repeat these words, beginning with, My virtuous lords, &c. He then shall proceed, and say, Now since none of the priests speak, but all are silent, it is a sign, that it is proper for this candidate from a state of imperfection and sin to pass into the state of perfection, from the state of a layman into that of a priest: and it is a sign, that in the name of the Upize the assembly are resolved to make this candidate a priest. Therefore by the consent of the Upize and of all the assembly, this person is hereby ordained a priest.
"The reader afterwards proceeds, and says, The fathers ought to mark under the shade of what foot, in what day, in what hour, in what season, whether summer or winter, whether in the morning or evening, this person has been ordained a priest. And moreover the newly ordained priest is to be admonished concerning the four things which priests are allowed to do, and the four things which they [p.285] are prohibited from doing. Wherefore, I the reader admonish him in these words.
"In the first place the sacerdotal order consists in eating that food only which is procured by the labour and motion of the muscles of the feet. Wherefore it behoves you, O young priest, during the whole course of your life, to struggle, that you may live on food procured by the labour of your feet. But if alms and offerings abound, that is to say, if your benefactors come to you, and offer food, you may lawfully use the following kinds of provisions: 1st, all kinds of food, that are offered to Rahans in general; 2d, provisions that are offered to you in particular; 3d, provisions which are sent along with a letter; 4th, provisions that are offered on the days of the full and new moon; 5th, provisions given on festivals by your benefactors. Of all these provisions you may lawfully eat. The new priest shall answer, Verily my lord I have heard.101
"The reader then proceeds. In the second place the order of priesthood requires
the use of garments covered with dust, of garments which have been thrown into
public sepulchres: wherefore, O
young priest, you must, during your whole life, use such garments as are stained
with the dust of the field. However, if induced by your learning and teaching,
many benefactors resort to you, then
are you permitted to use the following clothes in your dress; namely the cloths
called Choma; cloths made of cotton, silk or wool; cloths made of the
bark of certain trees; cloths made of the feathers of certain birds. It is
lawful for you to use all the above-mentioned cloths. The new priest answers as
"The reader then proceeds. In the third place, the sacerdotal rank requires its members to live in houses constructed under the trees of the woods. Therefore, O newly ordained priest, you ought during the whole of your life to inhabit such houses. Nevertheless, if your genius and doctrine attract many benefactors, you may inhabit houses of the [p.287] following kinds: namely, houses surrounded with walls;103 houses ending in a pyramid;104 such houses as are triangular or four-sided; such as are adorned with flowers and figures carved in wood;105 such as are built with arches.106 In such, and the like houses, you may for the future dwell. The newly ordained priest answers as above.107
"Again the reader says, in the fourth place, O new priest, during the whole course of your life, you are only to use such remedies as men have thrown away for being useless. However, if your virtue, and manner of teaching, procure you benefactors, you are permitted to use as remedies, butter, milk, whey, oil, honey, sugar, syrup, and the like. The new ordained priest answers, Verily my lord I have heard."108
"Again the reader of Kammua says, Since you [p.288] have been admitted into the order of priesthood, you are no longer permitted, after the manner of laymen, to commit any carnal deed, either alone, or with another, whether it be man, woman, or beast. A priest who after the manner of laymen commits such actions, is no longer to be esteemed one, nor as appertaining to the divine order. To what can such a person be compared? In the same manner as in a beheaded man the head can never be again joined to the body, and so live; so the priest, who after the custom of laymen has committed fornication, or any similar act, is cut off from the priestly order, never more to be restored to their number. It behoves you therefore, O young priest, during the whole course of your life, never to commit such deeds. The newly ordained priest shall say. Verily my lord I have heard your words.109
"The reader then says. It is by no means permitted to a Rahan to steal, or to take to himself even the value of a dram of silver. The priest, who steals even such a value, is to be esteemed as fallen from the priesthood, and is no longer to be numbered in the divine order. Such a priest may be compared to the withered leaf of a tree: and as this can never again recover its verdure, so the priest, who steals even a dram of silver, no longer can be esteemed as belonging to that sacred order. Wherefore, O young priest, during the whole course of your life, abstain from theft. The young priest answers as before.
"The reader then says, It is unlawful for a priest [p.289] to take away the life of any animal, should it be even the smallest insect. The Rahan, who takes away the life of the vilest insect, shall no longer be a priest, or of the divine order. To what thing can he be compared? He is like a great rock rent in two parts: as it is impossible that the rock should ever again be united, so it can never happen, that he should again be reckoned a priest, or of the divine orders. Wherefore you, O newly ordained priest, ought to take care, during the whole course of your life, not to commit any such murder. The newly ordained priest answers as before.
The reader of Kammua then says. Whoever is admitted into the priesthood, can by no means be permitted to extol himself as a saint, as a person endowed with any preternatural gifts; such as the gifts called Meipo or Zian: Neither is it for him lawful to declare himself a hermit, or a person that loves solitude. The priest who, prompted by ambition, falsely and impudently pretends to have obtained the extraordinary gifts of Zian or Meipo, or to have arrived at Nieban110 is no longer a priest of the divine order. To what can he be compared? In the same manner as a palm-tree cut through the middle can never be rejoined, so as to live; in such manner shall this ambitious priest be unworthy of being esteemed as belonging to the sacred order. Wherefore, O young priest, during the whole of your life avoid such criminal excess. The young priest shall answer. Verily my lord I have heard all, that even till now you have said."
END OF THE BOOK KAMMUA.
The month of Namaiung, the second of the Burma year, is the season in which young men are admitted [p.290] into the priesthood. While we were at Rangoon during this season, I had frequently an opportunity of seeing part of the ceremony. For several days previous to assuming the habit, the young men's parents gave great entertainments. Sheds were built in the streets opposite to their houses, and under these were erected seats adorned with flags, and flowers natural and artificial. Here generally assembled four or five of the young candidates, dressed out in the most gaudy manner, and sat admiring the supple motions of dancing girls, or laughing at the grimace of players and mimics. During this time, at least once a day, the candidates went through the town in a procession, consisting often of five or six hundred persons. The following order, that I observed in one of these processions, will give an idea of the whole.
1. Drums and Burma hautbois.
2. Young girls gaudily dressed, their heads adorned with tinsel, gum flowers, and the wings of an elegant beetle, the Buprestis ignita of Linnæus.
3. Well dressed young women, carrying on their heads basins filled with fruits and flowers, an offering for the temple.
4. The fathers and male relations of the young men, with their attendants carrying their swords of state, and other insignia of royal favour. Among them was a Zaregye, an officer of considerable rank in the town.
5. Well dressed women carrying on their heads pots of rice, a present for the Rahans.
6. Bamboo stages, each carried on four men's shoulders, and supporting an imitation of the Padezobayn. This consisted of a large upright bamboo, in the centre, with many smaller fixed into it, in imitation of branches, which were ornamented with tinsel and gum flowers. An umbrella terminated the whole, and from the branches were suspended the different kinds of utensils which are used by the Rahans: such as sabeits, fans, waterbuckets, bottles, &c. &c.
7. Women carrying on their heads pillows made of stuffed mats, some of them very fine. These also were an offering to the Rahans.
8. An offering of mats and small carpets, which serve the Rahans for beds. These also were carried on women's heads.
9. Yellow cloth for the dress of the Rahans, put up in rolls ornamented with flowers, and carried in the same manner.
10. The candidates, each carried by four men on a bamboo stage. They were richly dressed in velvet and gold lace, with many golden ornaments, and their heads were covered with tinsel and gum flowers.
11. A cart, drawn by two buffaloes, adorned with flags, flowers, and the like: and containing dancing girls, and a band of music.
12. The mothers and female relations of the young men.
13. Several officers of government with their attendants and badges of honour: but not in high dress. Among them was the Akoonwun, or collector of the land-tax of the province, an Armenian Christian.
The whole was very gaudy, and must have cost a great deal of money. The women
were all well dressed in silk and muslin. Many of them wore very fine muslin,
and had much gold and silver in
their ornaments. All of them had good sandals covered with scarlet cloth. Their
deportment, although lively, was modest, and graceful. In many other processions
the candidates were mounted on horseback.
After having thus for some days enjoyed the splendour and amusements of the world, the young Rahans must bid adieu to the pleasures of the senses: they are conducted to the assembly of the Rahans to be ordained; are deprived of all their ornaments, and of their hair, and assuming the yellow habit, leave behind, their parents and the world.
It will be observed, that no Rahans assisted in these
processions: and I may say
the same of all the religious ceremonies which I saw the laity perform. On the
grand festivals the laity endeavour to please God by all kinds of amusements; by wrestling, dancing,
music, plays, and
fireworks. On other occasions they solicit GODAMA's favour by prayers and
offerings at the temples.
Among the worshippers of BOUDDHA, there are So-ges or hermits, who pretend to a high degree of sanctity, arising from a mortification of their passions and appetites. They ought to live in caves, woods, and subterraneous buildings, of which we saw many remains in the neighbourhood of Gnaungoo, It was one of these hermits, named MENU, who is said to have formed the code of Burma laws, a fable probably invented to increase their authority. MENU was also, according to the Brahmens, the author of their laws; but the MENU of the Brahmens is, according to the two legends, as different from the MENU of the Burmas, as the two codes of laws are different in their justice and tendency. These So-ges at present are not numerous in the Burma dominions, I not having seen one; but in Hindustan, under the name of Joges, they are very common, and are highly indecent, from their going about the streets, and entering all houses absolutely naked. They are not of the Brahmenical order, and to me seem to be the remains of the gymnosophists mentioned by ancient authors, and, I suspect, often by inaccurate antiquaries, confounded with the Brahmens. Paulinus every where in his account of the Borgian museum, confounds these Zoges, Jogies, or, as he wrote, Yoguis, with the Samanians or Rahans: for this however he assigns no reason. Among the Burmas I always heard them distinguished as two different orders. But in reality all religions have had their Zoges. Men who thought to acquire the favour of God by enduring misery in this life, or who, by pretending to more than common sanctity, and com- [p.293] mand over their passions, have wished to impose on the weakness of their neighbours, have, I believe, been found among unenlightened nations of all religious persuasions: and it appears to me, that the Zoges are nothing more than such deluded or deluding persons.
It has already been said, that GODAMA commanded his images and relics to be worshipped. The largest and most celebrated temples are generally in the form of a pyramid, and are supposed to contain some of those relics; such as a tooth, a bone, a hair, or a garment. To these temples, as containing the sacred relic, the prayers of the devout are addressed, and their offerings presented. The pyramids are often of a great size, constructed of solid brickwork plastered over, and generally placed on a prodigious elevated terrace. The base of the pyramid is frequently surrounded by a double row of small ones; and the summits of the whole are always crowned with umbrellas, made of a combination of iron bars into a kind of filigree-work, and adorned with bells. Many of these pyramids are from three to five hundred feet high. In the larger temples the umbrella, with at lead the upper part of the pyramid, and often the whole, is entirely gilded over: and then the title of Shida or golden, is bestowed on the edifice. Other temples of nearly a similar structure, but hollow within, contain images of GODAMA, to which the adoration of his disciples is directed. Both these descriptions of temples are in common called Buras which M. Loubere writes Pra, and says that it means respectable. It is a phrase only given either to God, and to his images, relics, temples, and priests; or to the king, and those governing in his name. An inferior gives it to the meanest officers of government; but a superior never gives it to an inferior, as our king often calls his nobles, my lord, a title somewhat analogous. Neither is Bura ever applied to a stranger: a man [p.294] who has any dependence on a European, will call him Thakiayan, or Mayn, which signify prince, but he will by no means call him Bura. Although this be the common name for these temples, yet it is only a term of respect, their proper name in the Burma language being Zedee.
Although many large temples, which are hollow within, contain such images as are considered of particular sanctity; yet the greater number of the images destined for the adoration of the laity, are placed in chapels, if I may so use the word, which surround the pyramids containing the relics of GODAMA's person, and which the Burmas call Bura Kiaung. In these images GODAMA is always represented as a young man of a placid countenance, with strongly characterised Burma features, and generally in the dress of a Rahan. His postures are various. The most common is that of sitting cross-legged upon a throne, with his left hand resting on his leg, and holding a book, and with his right hand hanging over his knee. In other images he is represented standing, and that in four postures; each differing somewhat in the position of his hands. In others he is represented reclining on a couch, with his head supported on pillows. The throne on which he is placed, is exactly like the royal throne. Having imagined, that the delineations of the Hindu gods floating on the leaves of the lotus, derived their origin from imperfect traditions concerning the deluge, the vigorous fancy of Paulinus discovers a representation of the elegant flowers of that plant in the simple ornaments of these thrones. Mus. Borg. pag. 67, compared with tab. 1. fig. 5. The images of the god are of very various materials; clay, copper, silver, and alabaster. Many of them are completely gilded, and many partly gilded, and partly ornamented with paintings of flowers. The size also of these images varies exceedingly: some are not above fix inches high, and others are of a most colossal stature. I saw an image [p.295] in old Ava, consisting of one solid block of pure white alabaster, and in a sitting posture: I had no opportunity of measuring its dimensions; but its fingers appeared to me to be about the length and thickness of a large mans' thigh and leg, from whence a conjecture may be made of the immensity of the whole.
Another object of great veneration among the worshippers of GODAMA are stones of considerable dimensions, carved with various hieroglyphics, and said to represent, or to be the impressions of his feet. The hieroglyphics, on the different stones which I saw, were not alike. In the Burma language these stones are called Kye do bura, or the respectable royal foot. One of them, on the mountain Amala Saripadi,111 in the island of Ceylon, has given rise to various fables; Christians, Jews, and Mohammedans, uniting to call the mountain Adam's-peak, and the stone the impressions of Adam's-foot.
Besides these objects of adoration, there are many images common about the religious buildings of the Burmas. The principal disciples of GODAMA, especially his two favourites, MOKELA and SARIBOUT, with many other persons, who assisted the god when on earth, are by his followers considered as saints: and many images of these saints, dressed like Rahans, generally accompany those of their master. MOKELA and SARIBOUT occupy the moat conspicuous places, the one fitting on the right hand, and the other on the left of GODAMA. The images of the other saints are generally in the posture of adoration. In some chapels there are many images of these saints, without any of the divinity. There is a group of female figures very common at the temples: it represents a princess with her attendants: the princess is on her knees offering up her long hair. It is said, that once, when GODAMA was like to perish in a river, he was saved by this [p.296] princess, who threw him a rope which the made of her hair. The ends of the walls, which project on the different terraces, as you ascend to the temples, are generally ornamented with figures of GODAM's cook, a fat, deformed, but droll looking fellow. Besides human images, there are also at the Burma temples many representations of elephants, monkeys, and other animals, but especially of lions couchant, which often are of a most colossal size. The Burmas however, although they consider these disciples, persons, and animals, as venerable, on account of the services they performed to GODAMA, have no idea of worshipping their images; nor, as far as I could learn, of imploring them to use in their behalf their interest with the divinity: much less do they ever address their prayers to the gods of the Brahmens, a custom which seems to have been adopted by some of the Singhalese, or natives of Ceylon. It is however true that the Burmas are well acquainted with the gods of the Brahmens, and have many legendary books containing an account of their adventures, especially those of RAMA, king of Baranudee: but they look upon these personages merely as heroes, or as remarkable men, only admirable for the wonderful actions they performed. In some of their temples, and in the carved ornaments of Kiaungs, and of houses for the reception of strangers, there are representations of the actions of these heroes, and of the Nat. Among these the figure of Ganksa is one of the most common.
Every true worshipper of GODMA prays before he goes to sleep, and before he rises in the morning, which is generally at dawn of day. The old men, and women of all ages, are more regular in their devotions than the youths, as is the case, I believe, in all countries, where the women are not degraded into the rank of brutes. In praying they use rosaries, often made of amber beads, and often of various seeds, especially of the Canna indica, and Cæsalpania oleosperma. The former plant is peculiarly sacred [p.297] to BOUDDHA, as it is supposed to have spring from his blood, when once on a time he had cut his foot, by striking it against a stone. I believe they have fixed forms of prayer in the Pali language; at least I never could understand one word of their prayers, farther than that they contained many repetitions of the different appellations of the divinity; but that might have been owing to the manner in which they were chanted. The priests have no regular daily service like the mass: but they have certain forms of prayer, which they use on the dedication of a temple or Kiaung, or on certain festivals, on which presents are offered to them. The women also, in all their little distresses and fears, such as in thunder, or in a squall of wind on the water, invoke the Nat: and they seldom get fruit, but they put it on their heads, turn to the four quarters of the earth, and call on the Nat, either wishing for their protection, or to show, that with these amiable beings they would willingly participate the good things of this life.
Besides these private devotions, it is customary to make offerings at the temple. The king daily sends his offering to a small temple, which is within the palace; and many people make occasional offerings, especially when they, or any of their family, are in distress. But the common times for making offerings at the temples are the four phases of the moon, especially the days of full and change, which may be called the Burma Sabbaths. They reckon Friday very unfortunate, and consequently undertake no business on that day: but they keep holy no day of the week, which with most nations is probably an astronomical division of time. While we were at Amarapura, I observed, that the Burmas, on their Sabbaths, fasted from sunrise to sunset; and I was told, that very strict people never kept in their houses on the night following these holy days: but I have now reason to believe, that such strictness and fasting are only required for three months of the year, which are therefore a kind of lent.
The offerings made at the temples are very various: boiled rice, fruits,
especially the cocoanut, flowers natural and artificial, and a variety of
curious figures made of paper, gold leaf, and the
cuttings of the cocoanut kernel, are the most common. It is also very
customary for the rich to offer elegant white umbrellas with golden ornaments,
large slippers, canes, pillows, and all manner of
utensils, gilded, and of the finest materials: these are deposited in the
temples or chapels for the use of the divinity. The poor, in place of these
costly offerings, content themselves with paper
imitations of the same utensils. These gifts are placed before the god or his
temples on altars, or on wooden benches: and the eatables become a prey to the
crows and dogs. People who have been
in peril by water, present models of ships or boats; some of which are formed
with considerable neatness. One of the most common ways for a person to express
his devotion, is by gilding a patch of a temple, of which many on this account
make a very motley appearance. The king's royal munificence is extended to a very great amount, in gilding anew
many large temples. We were told,
that this part of his expense amounted annually to 20,000 peiththa of silver, or
nearly 86,805lb. weight of that valuable metal. The expense of Eimshe mayn, or
the heir apparent, is also considerable in the same way. When we visited the celebrated temple Ananda, the
person, who superintended the repairs then carrying on by the prince, told us,
that four peiththa of pure gold [about £830]
were prepared for the gilding, which would be bestowed on the inside of that
edifice. The roads leading to the principal temples, near populous places, are
on holy-days lined with stalls, and
little portable ships, where gold leaf, ornamented fruits, flowers natural and
artificial, and other similar offerings are sold: so that the devout walk out,
buy their offering by the way, and go to the
temple where it is to be presented. The women are by far the most
[p.299] numerous devotees, and go in considerable numbers together, and in their best
dress. They resort to the galleries and houses built for the accommodation of
those who frequent the temple: there
they assemble in crowds to adjust their dress and offerings: for a while they
talk, laugh, and amuse themselves; then they repair to the temple, fall on their
knees, say their prayers, make their
offering, and depart. Bloody sacrifices, among the disciples of the mild GODAMA,
would be beholden with abhorrence.
The two principal festivals, which we saw, were on the occasion of the new year, and on the ending of lent. During the first, we were at Pegue, and were present at many of the games, and entertainments, given during its celebration. Only one day's amusement was at the grand temple, Shue-Modo, and no religious ceremony, as far as we saw, took place. The most singular amusement at this festival, is the concluding one of throwing water, which to a rude people affords very good sport. For the whole last day of the festival, the men are permitted to throw water at the women, and the women at the men: such women as are with child being however exempted. All the young people look with joy for this merry day, and it is conduced with the greatest good humour, the one sex not being likely to give offence to the other.
Lent having ended, during the whole month Sadeen-giut there are illuminations: every house has erected by it a kind of mast, from which are suspended one or more lamps. In the royal palace, a pyramid of lamps, at least 150 feet high, was supported by a bamboo scaffolding. From the lodgings of the deputation, this illumination of Amarapura made a very splendid appearance across the lake, by which we were separated from the city. It is at this time that the nobles from all parts of the empire resort to court to pay their homage to the king. On this occasion we had an opportunity of seeing a model of the hill Mienmo, which was erected in the outer court of [p.300] the palace. It was constructed of paper and bamboos, and agreed very well with the account given by the missionary Sangermano.
During the principal days and nights of these festivals, there is an almost constant succession of wrestling, dancing, music, processions, fireworks, and theatrical entertainments: but of these, it is not at present my intention to give a description.
To finish what I have to say on the religion of GODAMA, it would appear by all the accounts given me, that the Burmas received their laws, religion, and government, from the people of Arakan, a people speaking the same language with themselves, and from these circumstances often called Myamma-gye, or great Burmas. This happened about 600 years ago: but the people of Pegue and Arakan, had received the same gifts from Ceylon a considerable time earlier. Previous to this, the Burma empire had probably been occupied by tribes in a state of civilization similar to that of the Karayn, Kiayn, Lowa, and other simple nations, who now inhabit the wilder parts of India beyond the Ganges. Whether or not this knowledge, derived from Ceylon, has been of use to these eastern nations, cannot easily be determined. These simple tribes have perhaps more skill in agriculture, and more industry than the Burmas; they have art enough to manufacture comfortable, and even handsome clothing: they are a peaceable people, little inclined to war: among themselves they retain that civil liberty, which most tribes in a similar state enjoy; and it is universally agreed, that their morals are extremely good: but then they have no laws; are ignorant of even the art of reading; and their religious notions are so crude, that although they believe in a future state, yet they are ignorant of its being a state of reward or punishment.
Those of the Chinese, who have adopted the religion of SHAKA, have probably obtained it from [p.301] Hindustan by the route of Tibet. It is undoubtedly the Chinese who have communicated this religion to Japan, and to their former dependants in Tonkin and Cochin-China. Nor is it by any means improbable, that it is through China that this worship has extended to Siam. M. De la Loubere informs us, that the Siamese pretend to have got their religion from Laos, in which case it must have come from China. Indeed, from its very early introduction into that empire, at the latest in the sixth century of the Christian era, it has had abundance of time to have reached Siam as early as we can suppose that country to have been civilized.
In consequence of this universal diffusion of the religion of BOUDDHA over the countries to the east of Hindustan, it has been imagined, that all the nations inhabiting these extensive regions, and that even the Chinese, are of the Hindu race; but can we be justified in forming such an opinion, because about 1700 years ago some priests came from Hindustan into China, and converted to their opinions a multitude of the lower people? As well might we say, that the Romans in the time of Trajan, and of his virtuous and powerful successors, were Jews, because some priests had then come from Jerusalem, and had converted, to their opinions, a great number of the Roman populace, and slaves. The learned and manly Sir W. Jones, among the vast variety of objects which engaged his attention, seems to have hastily adopted this opinion. He supports the hypothesis entirely on a passage in the institutes of MENU, where, says he, "we find the following curious passage; Many families of the military class having gradually abandoned the ordinances of the Vedas, and the company of the Brahmens, lived in a state of degradation, as the people of Pundraca, the Chinese and some others." He then says, "this being direct, positive, disinterested, and unsuspected, would decide the question if we could be sure that the [p.302] word China signifies a Chinese."112 Setting aside the difficulties attending the proof of this, of which he has by no means given a complete solution, I would ask, if it is not to be highly suspected, that the Brahmens, like all other bigoted and ignorant sects, wish to exalt themselves by making all nations inferior to their own? I have before observed, that the laws of MENU in use among the Burmas are very different from those translated by Sir W. Jones.113 The Burma code is certainly more than six hundred years old, as it was introduced from Ceylon at least so long ago; but it would be very difficult to show, in a country where there are no annals, that the institutes of MENU have existed in their present form for the half of such a period. The Burma copy makes no mention of this state of degradation. Were it ascertained, that the GOTAMA mentioned in the Vedas, was the same with GODAMA of the Rahans, it would be evident that the Chinese could not have abandoned the ordinances of the Vedas: for at the time of GODAMA, the Chinese were a civilized people, with nearly the same laws which they at present enjoy, and the Vedas of consequence would be of later date than their institutions. It is however alleged, that there have been more than one GODAMA or BOUDDHA: but whether this opinion be well founded, or whether the GODAMA mentioned in the Vedas, be the institutor of the Burma religion, or whether he lived earlier or later than that legislator, 1 do not pretend to ascertain.
A few more particulars remain to be mentioned relating to the learning of the Burmas.
The Burmas have among them many histories, containing an account of the lives and actions performed by the different families of their princes. These his- [p.303] tories are, I am told, very fabulous; every action being attended by omens and prodigies. Still however they may throw some light on a part of the world hitherto so little known: and I am hopeful soon to be able to lay before the learned, a translation of the Maha-rafa Wayn-gye, the most celebrated historical work of the Burmas. These people have also translated histories of the Chinese and Siamese, and of the kingdoms of Kathee, Ko-kanpyee, Pagoo, Saymmay, and Laynzayn. Of all these I saw copies, and several of them I procured for Sir John Murray.
On medicine the Burmas have several books. They divide diseases into ninety-six genera, and of these several are subdivided into many species. Their books contain descriptions of all the ninety-six diseases, with various recipes for their cure. Of the animal kingdom, mummy is a favourite medicine. The Burmas are acquainted with the use of mercury in the cure of the venereal disease: but their manner of giving it is neither certain nor safe. They make a candle of cinnabar and some other materials, and setting fire to it, the patient inhales the fumes with his nostrils. The patient is however rarely able to persevere long in this course, as it always produces a want of appetite, and extreme languor. The greater part however of the Burma remedies are taken from the vegetable kingdom, especially of the aromatic kind, nutmegs being one of their most favourite medicines. They are well acquainted with the plants of their country, and for a vast number have appropriate names. On the whole, however, the practice of their physicians is almost entirely empirical; and almost every one has, or pretends to have a number of private recipes, on which the success of his practice chiefly depends. I was often tempted by wonderful stories concerning the efficacy of these nostrums, in order to induce me to purchase the secret, which some of them pretended to have been handed down from their fathers for several generations. Indeed I [p.304] found a great spirit of illiberality among my brethren of trade; nor were they exempt from imposing on the weakness of the sick, by a pretension to supernatural powers. In spite however of all these indirect means of influence, I found them deservedly not in possession of an honourable estimation among their countrymen. One curious custom relating to the Burma physicians may be mentioned. If a young woman is dangerously ill, the doctor and her parents frequently enter into an agreement, the doctor undertaking to cure her. If she lives, the doctor takes her as his property; but if she dies, he pays her value to the parents; for in the Burma dominions, no parent parts with his daughter, whether to be a wife, or to be a concubine, without a valuable consideration. I do not know whether the doctor is entitled to fell the girl again, or if he must retain her in his family; but the number of fine young women, which I saw in the house of a doctor at Myeda, makes me think the practice to be very common.
In surgery, the skill of the Burmas. I believe, goes no farther than dressing wounds, and setting bones. Of late indeed they have introduced from Arakan the art of inoculation for the smallpox. This practice has however not become general, as a very great proportion of the people's faces are pitted by that disease.
On law, the Burmas have many treatises; both containing the laws of MENU, and copious commentaries on these. Whether they shall have any copies of the law, as originally imported from Ceylon, I know not: but 1 was told, that the Damathat-gye, or code in common use, has suffered several alterations, and additions, made by the decrees of various princes.
I heard of no poetry, which the Burmas possess, except songs. Of these they have a great number on a variety of subjects, and are fond of quoting [p.305] them on many occasions. Their music, both vocal and instrumental, appeared to me very bad. Some of their musical instruments are, indeed, not so barbarously noisy, as those of the Hindus and Chinese; but the airs, which the Burmas performed on them, I could not at all comprehend. On the contrary, many of the Hindu and Chinese airs seem to me not at all unpleasant: but I must confess, that I am entirely unskilled and rude in the science of music.
The Burmas have dramatic entertainments, used at all festivals, and well described by M. de la Loubere in his account of Siam. The performers indeed, which we saw, were all Siamese. Although these entertainments, like the Italian opera, consist of music, dancing, and action, with a dialogue in recitative; yet we understood, that no part but the songs was previously composed. The subject is generally taken from some of the legends of their heroes, especially of RAMA; and the several parts songs, and actions, being assigned to the different performers, the recitative part or dialogue is left to each actor's ingenuity. If, from the effects on the audience we might judge of the merit of the performance, it must be very considerable; as some of the performers had the art of keeping the multitude in a roar. I often, however, suspected that the audience were not difficult to please: for I frequently observed the Myooxvun of Haynthawadz (the man of high rank whom we most frequently saw), thrown into immoderate laughter by the most childish contrivances. These eastern nations are indeed a lively, merry people; and like the former French, dance, laugh, and sing, in the midst of oppression and misfortune.
The original of most of the Burma books on law and religion is in the Pali or Pale language; which undoubtedly is radically the same with the Sanskrit. I was assured at Amarapura that the Pali of Siam, and Pegu, differed considerably from that of the Burmas, and an intelligent native of [p.306] Tavay, who had been at Cingala or Candy, the present capital of Ceylon, and at the ruins of Anuradapura, the former capital, assured me, that the Pali of that island was considerably different from that of Ava.
In many inscriptions, and in books of ceremony, such as the Kammua, the Pali language is written in a square character, somewhat resembling the Bengal Sanskrit, and called Bagata. Of this a specimen may be seen in the description of the Borgian museum by Paulinus, p.15. In general it is written in a round character nearly resembling the Burma letters. Of this kind is the specimen given by the accurate M. de la Loubere, and which some persons have rashly conceived to be the Burma. There is no doubt, however, that all the different characters of India, both on the west and on the east of the Ganges, have been derived from a common source: and the Burma writing of the whole appears to be the most distinct and beautiful.
In their more elegant books, the Burmas write on sheets of ivory, on very fine white palmira leaves. The ivory is stained black, and the margins are ornamented with gilding, while the characters are enamelled or gilded. On the palmira leaves the characters are in general of black enamel; and the ends of the leaves, and margins, are painted with flowers in various bright colours. In their more common books, the Burmas with an iron style engrave their writing on palmira leaves. A hole, through both ends of each leaf, serves to connect the whole into a volume by means of two strings, which also pass through the two wooden boards, that serve for binding. In the finer binding of these kind of books the boards are lacquered, the edges of the leaves cut smooth and gilded, and the title is written on the upper board, the two cords are by a knot or jewel, secured at a little distance from the boards, so as to prevent the book from falling to pieces, [p.307] but sufficiently distant to admit of the upper leaves being turned back, while the lower ones are read. The more elegant books are in general wrapped up in silk cloth, and bound round by a garter, in which the Burmas have the art to weave the title of the book.
As there are but few of the Burmas who do not read and write, almost every man carries with him a parawaik,114 in which he keeps his accounts, copies songs, till he can repeat them from memory, and takes memorandums of any thing curious. It is on these parawaiks that the Zares or writers in all courts, and public offices, take down the proceedings and orders of the superior officers: from thence copying such parts, as are necessary, into books of a more durable and elegant nature. The parawaik is made of one sheet of thick and strong paper blackened over. A good one may be about eight feet long, and eighteen inches wide. It is folded up somewhat like a fan, or thus a /\/\/\/\/\ b each fold, or page being about six inches, and in length the whole breadth of the sheet. Thence, wherever the book is opened, whichever side is uppermost, no part of it can be rubbed, but the two outer pages, a. b. and it only occupies a table one foot in width by eighteen, inches long. The Burmas write on the parawaik with a pencil of steatites. When in haste the Zares use many contractions, and write with wonderful quickness. I have seen them keep up with an officer dictating, and not speaking very slow. But when, they take pains, the characters written on the parawaik are remarkably neat. Indeed this nation, like the Chinese, pique themselves much on writing as elegant, and distinct character. When that, which, has been written on a parawaik becomes no longer useful, the pages are rubbed over with charcoal, and the leaves of a species of Dolichos: they are then, clean, as if new, and equally fit for the pencil.
Every convent has a collection of books: several of which are pretty considerable. The most common copiers are indeed the Rahans, who, prepare books both for their convents, and for presents to their lay benefactors. These books are kept in chests, much ornamented with gilding, and bits of looking glass, fastened of with lacquer, in the shape of flowers. At Amarapura we were shown a part of the royal library. This is a brick building, surrounded by enclosed courts, and temples, which occupy a delightful situation, in the N. W. angle of the city. Near it is a small, but most elegant Kiaung, To this, at times, the monarch retires; and we were shown the gilded couch on which he reposes, while the Zarado reads to him, and instructs him in the duties of religion. The library itself is neither a convenient nor handsome building. The gallery, into which we entered, contained about a hundred chests, gilded on the sides, and lacquered above, with the general title of their contents written in golden letters. The chests were large, and if full, must have contained many thousand volumes. As we saw only apart, I presume that the kings collection is very extensive. He is, indeed, said to be a very intelligent, and learned prince. He was very desirous of obtaining some Brahmen more learned, than those he had, to instruct him. in astronomy: and he had caused the institutes of MENU to be translated from the English of Sir William Jones. He must therefore have heard of what is pursued among the Europeans, in at least oriental literature: and it is to be hoped, that some more useful books may attract his notice: books which might tend to improve the people, and give them more enlightened notions of politics, of the arts, and of science. Hitherto, I suspect, the laws, or religion, of the Burmas, have contributed little to the happiness of the people; but fortunately they have not, like those of the Brahmens, placed any insurmountable obstacles in the way of national improvement.
1 Asiatick Researches, I, i160-166.
2 Ayeen Akbery, II, 178.
3 Page 252 of this volume.
4 Page 24S of this volume.
5 Asiatick Researches, II, 309.
6 Rennell's Memoir, p. 229.
7 Asiatick Researches, I, 142.
8 The Burma league is 7,000 cubits: accordingly the juzana contains 44,800 cubit, or is nearly twelve miles. The yojana of Hindustan, according to Sir William Jones (Asiatick Researches, IV, 157) is four and a half miles. According to Mr. Chambers (Asiatick Researches, I, 155) it is from nine to twelve miles.
9 Loubere du Royaume de Siam II. 102.
10 Asiatick Res. II. 285.
11 I have heard it reported, that the Royal Oak has now found its way into some of the oldest Brahmenical treatises on the constellations. The greater part of Bengal manuscripts, owing to the badness of the paper, require to be copied at least once in ten years, as they will, in that climate, preserve no longer; and every copyist, it is to be suspected, adds to old books whatever discoveries he makes, relinquishing his immediate reputation for learning, in order to promote the grand and profitable employment of his sect, the delusion of the multitude.
12 The Brahmens, in place of the mountain Zetchiavala,
suppose the world to
be surrounded by an immense serpent, which they name Ananda or Vasughi.
Paulini a. s. Bartholomæo Musei
Borgiani Codices ms: illustrati Romae 1793. page 211.
13 This shows the very crude notions of geometry which must have prevailed in Hindustan, when this doctrine was invented.
14 Mienmo is, I believe, a Burma word, signifying the mountain of vision. It seems to be the same with the Meru Paravada of the Brahmens, which are perhaps Sanskrit or Pali words of the same meaning. The ingenious etymologist Paulinus (Mus. Borg. pag: 231 et seq. et passim ubique), in his description of a figure of the Tibet cosmography, has made wonderful confusion by supposing that the imaginary Mem or Mienmo is the same with the snowy Hernavurita or Himaleh, which actually exists. In fact, the cosmographical table of Tibet will be found a rude attempt to delineate the general cosmography here delivered except that it represents Mienmo, with the seven surrounding chains of hills, and the intervening Sida, as square; whereas they are by the Rahans described as being circular.
15 Sida in the dialect of Arakan is applied to the sea, which the Burmas name Pan-lay: but I imagine that sea would be a more proper interpretation of Sida, than the word river used by the missionary.
16 This tree zaba is entirely the creature of fancy, there being no species of plant so called: but I observed that a kind of respect was paid by the Burmas to the Bo-abe bayn or Fica religiosa. From the characters with which this name is written [symbols] it is evidently a Pali or Sanskrit word, and the reverence paid to it has been introduced from Hindustan. It is said that GODAMA rested himself by leaning on it, at a time when he had been much fatigued. The attention paid to the tree seems therefore chiefly given, from its being considered as a relic of the God; but does not appear to be esteemed of much importance in the religious code, as it is not mentioned in the summary of religious duties, which we shall afterwards detail.
17 In the Cosmogonia Indica T'ibetana, given us by Paulinus, we have a rude imitation of a ship passing between Zabudiba and one of its dependent small islands, in order, I suppose, to show the intervening part of the sea to be navigable. I wonder that the vigilance of the good father did not discover it to be Noah's ark.
18 Page 179 of this volume.
19 The Brahmens, into these six abodes of the Nat, have introduced their Gods with their families. See Paulini Mus. Borg. page 133.
20 Sed in coitu non semen, sed solum aera vel ventum emitunt.
21 An admirer of oriental literature would here discover the Georgium sidus, and strip the industrious Herschel of his recent honours.
22 From this we might infer that the Burmas, or ancient Hindus, had made such a progress in geometry, as to know that the circumference of a circle is to its diameter as three to one. But if we examine more accurately, we shall find their notions in this science quite absurd, (p. 175). Thus the diameter of the island Zabudiba is made 10,000 juzana: but they suppose, that three spaces, whose diameters are 4,000, 3,000, and 3,000, should be equal to the whole extent of the island, (p. 182). And they even suppose the circumference of Unthegru, which is a square, to be only three times its diameter.
23 The Burma doctors say so, as living within the tropic.
24 A certain Burma king, who resided at Arammattana or Pougan, is said to have been so virtuous, that he could cause rain whenever he pleased: and that in such quantities, as to enable him to transport his fleet wherever his occasions required. This story was gravely told us at that city, and was said to be authenticated in the best histories of the Aramviattana race of princes. This same king was such a favourite with GODAMA, that twice during his reign gold fell from the heavens, and covered all the sterile plain of Pougan. From the immense number of temples and religious buildings on that plain, there is no doubt, but that some king of Arammattana must have been very superstitious: and we may suppose, that the history of his reign was written by the clergy, who seldom fail to give a good report of their benefactors,
25 I speak of the Persians properly so called, the inhabitants of Parsistan, who under Cyrus founded the fifth great Persian monarchy.
26 Asiatick Researches, II, 291.
27 Asiatick Researches, II. 306.
28 Asiatick Researches, II. 303, 289.
29 Asiatick Researches, II, 306.
30 The Burrnas believe that in every world there arise four or five Gods, one after the other.
31 I suspect that either the Latin copyist or I have added here a cipher too much.
32 Lata. Lota, or Lot, in the language of the Hindus, signifies a climbing plant.
33 Different ranks in the Burma empire are distinguished by their umbrellas. That of the king is white, with a deep fringe adorned with gold lace and plates. Those of the princes of the blood are gilded, and without a fringe. Those of the four great ministers of state, called Wungyes, are of the same shape with the royal one; but are red. Those of the hereditary governors of provinces, or tributary princes, are yellow. Those of governors of royal provinces, called Myoozouns, are blue. Lower officers have black umbrellas. but supported by very long shafts. People who have no rank, use black umbrellas with staffs of moderate length.
34 In place of saying that Meru is supported by three feet, the Brahmens allege, that it is placed on the back of a prodigious tortoise.
35 GODAMA is said by the Brahmens to be the son of MAGA or MAJA.
36 We have here the most abominable cunning of GODAMA related as a laudable action: for, as I observed before, among his followers, cunning is looked upon as a virtue. (Page 185).
37 The Burma monarchs, in their cities, courts, and manners, imitate as much as possible, those described as belonging to the Nat princes; and of course will greatly resemble the ancient princes of western Indian from whom undoubtedly these descriptions have been borrowed; and probably as much resemble the originals, as the description in the Arabian Nights Entertainments do the courts of Mohammedan kings.
38 These Nat are evidently the Assura Loka, or demons of the Brahmens, who place them at the south pole, while the north is occupied by the Devas or Deities.
39 Filial respect seems to be almost equally strong among the Burmas as among the Chinese. No Burma is permitted to sit on a seat equally honourable with that of his father: if the father is on a chair, he must sit on the ground; if the father is on the ground, the son must sit behind. The son does not eat in his father's presence. and rarely speaks, except to answer a question.
40 I suspect that there is an error in the number here stated.
41 The original here is very obscure. I have translated it, as nearly as I could, word for word: but I am not satisfied about the meaning. Perhaps it is, that such crimes induce this lot, as are of a nature not to require the determination of the Imamen: and such, as that their opposite virtues lead to immediate high rewards?
42 The present Burma monarch, who enforces religious duties with considerable rigour, in a very particular manner punishes the death of the cow kind. The Rahans, it is evident, look on the killing of all animals with equal abhorrence; and it is probable, that the Brahmens have in this instance influenced the councils of the prince, and have deprived his subjects of a most wholesome and invigorating aliment.
43 Venison is the only meat permitted to be sold in the markets of the Burma empire, a privilege allowed to hunters, most probably on account of the Royal family. The hero ALOUNGRUBA, the deliverer of his country, and father of the king, was originally a hunter. He had the good sense not to be ashamed of his origin, and, when he first rose into notice, assumed the name of Moutzobo, or the hunter-captain, a name which he bellowed on his favourite residence, when his merit and fortune had induced his subjects to call him the lord of the world.
44 This Hemavunta is evidently the mount Imaus or Emodus of the ancients, or the Himalih or Himalaya mountains of the present Hindus; all the three names deriving their origin from the phenomenon of snow, so wonderful to the inhabitants of tropical regions. Plin. Hist. Nat. I.- 6, c. 17.—Rennell's Memoir, p. 126.
45 The name, as pronounced at Amarapura, seemed to me to be No-wa-dat.
46 This river is probably the Yang-tse hyang, the greatest river of China, and the source of which is at no great distance from that of the Ganges.
47 The western river is no doubt the Oxus Jihon falling into the Caspian Sea; beyond which it is probable, that the Hindus in the age of BOUDDHA knew nothing.
48 This is probably the immense river Irtis, of which the source is about 1,000 miles north from that of the Ganges.
49 Probably Sewalick.
50 To me this appears evidently to be an ill-digested account of the rivers, which fall into the head of the Bay of Bengal. The authors of the system conceived them all to come from one source, but that, by the intervention of the Sewalick mountains, they were separated into the form which they assume in Hindustan.
51 By this account the Ganges should not come through the cow's mouth, but through the elephant's. The Brahmens apparently have misconceived this part of the fable; and the rock called the Cow's mouth, seems, as we extend our knowledge of geography, to elude our search. (Rennell's Memoir, p. 371). The learned Paulinus has, as I have already mentioned, (Note I in p. 175), confounded the fables of the mountains Mienmo and Hemavunta. Perhaps in this he has followed the Brahmens, from whose works chiefly his ideas seem to have been taken; and the Brahmens may differ from the Rahans as well concerning the situation of these mountains, as concerning the cow's mouth.
52 Encyclopaedia Britannica, article Samanians. This opinion may have originated from two passages in the fathers with which I have met in Paulinus, Mus. Borg. pag. 186 187.Cyrill. Alex. Tom. 2. pag. 133. Clemens Alexand. Strom, lib. 1, pag. 3,59. The knowledge which the fathers of the church had of the feet of BOUDDHA, being chiefly obtained from such of the Samanians as resided in the Persian empire, and who must have entered Iran from Hindustan by the common route of Bactria, may readily account for these two passages.
53 BUDDHA, the son of JINA, according to the Bhagavat, would appear at Cicata, which by a learned Hindu was said to mean Dhermaranga, near Goya, (Asiatick Researches, II. 122.) But whether this BUDDHA be the same with the author of the Burma religion I do not know.
54 See a treatise by the learned Mr. Burrows in the Asiatick Researches.
55 Ficus indicus.
56 This lion seems to be the Narsiva of the Brahmens.
57 General Descrip. of China, II. 185.
58 The souls destined to animate human bodies are by the Brahmens called Brama, which is evidently the same word with the Biamma, or first inhabitants of the earth, according to the Rahans: for the Burma pronunciation makes no difference between r and i.
59 The Pali word for necessity.
60 Compare this account with the History of Cashmere, p. 163.
61 The images in the cave at Elephanta appear to me, now that I am acquainted with the subject, evidently to be those of the gods of the Brahmens. I well remember, when 1 viewed them, (although then quite unacquainted with the controversies concerning their origin), that I was struck with the African appearance of their hair and features; and conceived them to have been the work of Sesostris, as I had imbibed the vulgar idea, that they were not the idols of the Brahmens.
62 It Is to be observed, that this manner of ending life, attributed to the learned of ancient India, more resembles that in use among the priests of Pegu (Loubere's Relalion du Siam) than it does that recommended by the Brahmens, who according to Abul Fazil, (Ayeen Akbery) think it meritorious to terminate life by cutting the throat at the confluence of the Ganges and Jumna, or by exposing themselves to the alligators in the mouth of the holy river.
63 Nat. Hist. L. 6, c. 19.
64 Nat. Hist. L. 6, c. 17.
65 The worshippers of GODAMA do not look on any animal food as unclean: it is only the depriving it of life which they regard as criminal. Accordingly they eat all manner of carrion, and many disgusting reptiles are their favourite food.
66 Mus, Borg. page 37.
67 Mus. Borg. page 69.
68 Asiatick Researches, II, 380.
69 Asiatick Researches, IV, 170.
70 Mus. Borg. page 8.
71 Asiatick Researches, I, 142.
72 Paulinus Mus. Borg. page 71.
73 Stephens's translation of Faria y Souza, II, page 4, chap. 19, par. 26.
74 Paulinus Mus, Borg, page 73.
75 Faria y Souza translated by Stephens, II. p. 4. C. XVI. par. 12. Grosier's General Description of China, II, 215.
76 Kaempfer, Amen. Exot, 608, as quoted in Harris's Voyages, I. 543.
77 Mus. Borg. pag.80.
78 Paulinus Mus. Borg, pag. 88.
79 Dictionarium Anamticum Rome, 1651, page 761.
80 Mus, Borg. page 75.
81 I have little doubt, but that the author of this treatise was the same Zarado who wrote the Compendium Regis Barmanorum, of which Paulinus gives us an account. The treatise however translated by Sangermano does not contain several of the circumstances said to be mentioned in that of the museum of the liberal and learned cardinal Borgia.
82 I am not certain whether the original means, that GODAMA died 2362 years before the period at which the bishop received the book from the Zarado; or whether, in translating it, father Sangermano reduced the time to the year 1795, in which I saw him: I believe the latter to be the case, although the difference will not be great, as the bishop died at Ava a few years ago. Much reasoning of Sir William Jones, on the age in which BOUDDHA lived may be seen in the Asiatick Researches (II, page 121, and the following. It would appear by this, that the Brahmens differ some thousands of years in their accounts of the time of his appearance. From the immense variations of time in the chronology of the Brahmens, no trust can rationally he put in their account. The opinion of the Chinese dates SHAKA to have lived 1028 years before CHRIST: but as this opinion can only be founded on the authority of the Indians, who introduced the worship of BOUDDHA into China, it proves no more than the Indian ideas at the time: otherwise it would deserve much credit. Georgio, from the writings of Tibet, reduces the era of BOUDDHA to the year 959 before CHRIST. If I am right in my conjecture, the Zarado's 2362 Burma years, equal to nearly 2341 of the Julian reckoning, would place the death of GODAMA 546 years before CHRIST. The Siamese, whose vulgar era commences with the death of GODAMA, make that event to have happened in the year 544, (Relation du Royame de Siam, par M. De la Lourerf,, II, 160.) within two years of the Zarado's estimate. The Singhalese, according to Mr. Harington, make the era of GODAMA's death 542 years before CHRIST. Paulinus, calculating from the date given in the Borgian manuscript, reduces the Siamese period four years: and in all such differences of opinion, the safest to follow is the latest date, as most likely to approach the truth.
83 This was probably the doctrine adopted by the Burmas before they were converted to the religion of BOUDDHA: for it is yet retained by the Karayn, a rude tribe occupying many of the woods in the Pegu, and Burma kingdoms.
84 Grosier, in his account of the Chinese religion, (II, 222,) has either confounded this heretical Nieban with the true doctrine of the Rahans, or else the religion he has described as that of FO, must be different from that of GODAMA. In that work also many detestable practices are ascribed to the Chinese Bonzes, which, so far as I could learn, were entirely unknown to the Rahans and also many foolish and gross superstitions, and penances, which they never practise.
85 Here the Zarado probably alludes to DEVADAT, as the Rahans call CHRIST. The Siamese painter before-mentioned told me, that DEVADAT, or, as he pronounced it, TEVEDAT, was the god of the Pye-gye, or of Britain; and he conceived, that it is he who, by opposing the good intentions of GODAMA, produces all the evil in the world. I am inclined to believe, that the legend of TEVEDAT, of which M. Loubere has given us a translation, has been composed since the arrival of the Portuguese in India, in order to prevent the propagation of their religion, so well adapted, by its splendour and mysteries, to gain the belief of an ignorant people. Some antiquarians have thought, that much light may be thrown on the history of Hindustan by the legends of the gods as delivered by the Brahmens: but much caution would be necessary, even when for such a purpose we made use of the less miraculous legends of the Burma heroes, who are the same with the gods of the Brahmens: for it is reasonably to be suspected, when they want to serve any particular purpose, that both Rahans and Brahmens tiring out occasionally either a new legend, or an addition to an old one. In so doing, the Brahmens are indeed perfectly safe; for if ever there were any historical writings among the Hindus, they have long since been destroyed. The arguments of Paulinus (Mus. Borg. pag. 121 et seq.) on this subject deserve much attention, although to many he will appear to have pushed his conclusions farther than his arguments will warrant. It is to be regretted, that the vigilant zeal of the father should have induced him to forget the civility due to adversaries, and to be uncandid in attributing improper motives to those, who happen to differ from him in opinion.
86 This conflict of GODAMA with DEVADAT, and the other deities, Paulinus imagines to be the same with the doctrine of the Magi concerning ORMUZED and ARIMANIUS (Mus. Borg. pag. 51): which appears to me to be nearly as improbable, as the opinion of the Rahans concerning the identity of CHRIST and DEVADAT. If the Titans of the Grecians, the father also discovers this doctrine of the Magi. However these same Titans, with perhaps as much probability, are alleged by Governor Pownel to have been a horde of savages from the north, under the command of their Hetman Briarcas.
87 The instrument with which the Burmas pluck their beards.
88 Paulinus Mus. Borg. pag. 18.
89 Plinii Natur. Histor. lib. 30, cap. 1.
90 Mus. Borg. page. 188.
91 Mus. Borg. page 141.
92 This is confirmed by the opinion of Pliny (His. 30, cap. 1.), who thought, that magic was first introduced into Europe by the army of Xerxes.
93 A kind of gilded spire in several stages, and ending in an obelisk.
94 Paulinus Mus. Borg. pag. 84.
95 The Sabeit is a round black covered vessel, generally made of lacquered basket-work, and used by the priests in their morning rounds to receive the alms of the charitable.
96 At ordination there are assisting a great number of Rahans, and the Upize is one of the eldest present, and presides in the assembly. It would appear from the account of M. de la Loubere, that in Siam, ordination can only be performed by a particular kind of superior, named Sancrat. Perhaps Sancrat and Upize may mean the fame rank: although I did not understand, that among the Burma: it was necessary for the Upize to be a Zara, much less that there was any distinction of rank among these superiors, farther than what has been already mentioned.
97 The reader of the book Kammua.
98 From these questions it will appear, how anxious the Rahans are not to render the order of priesthood disreputable, by admitting into their fraternity low people, or such as have loathsome diseases. But there are also other reasons for the restrictions here imposed. Celibacy would have no merit in a person deprived of his virility: besides impotence, although an involuntary misfortune, is almost always viewed with contempt. It would be injustice to admit persons in debt, or dependants on great men; for the creditors could not afterwards recover their debt by selling the Rahan: and all the dependants on the Burma nobles are in their debt. But the great object of thus confining the priesthood to the higher ranks probably is, that at the consecration, the parents may be enabled to give handsome presents to the convent. In fact, the ordination of a son to the priesthood generally costs the family more than his marriage, and setting up in the world, would do: fifty or sixty Pahtha of silver (from 210 to 260 lb. weight) is said not to be uncommon for a wealthy man in a provincial town to expend on such occasions.
99 This regulation is very commonly neglected. Rich men, who wish to give their sons a good education, generally make them Rahans about the age of twelve or fourteen years: and the youths continue in the college till they be twenty-four, or twenty-five. Being then fit for business, they leave the convent, and marry: for it is in the power of a priest to relinquish his order whenever he pleases and to return to the world: and this he does without incurring any considerable scandal. The poorer sort of people send then boys to the convents, where as menial servants they attend on the Rahan who asks as their master, instructing them to read and write: and there are very few men in the country who are not able to do both with facility. Fewer women learn these accomplishments; but still there are many who do, and who are very well informed in such learning as the Burmas possess.
100 These necessaries are the Sabeit, a proper yellow garment, a large fan serving for an umbrella, a mat and pillow for a bed, a bucket to draw water, and a bottle to keep it, a drinking cup, and a chamber pot. This utensil is peculiar to the Rahan, and not used by any of the other inhabitants: the Rahans being afraid of killing some insect by prescribing on the ground their natural functions.
101 In fact, the Rahans are allowed to eat every thing, which they receive as a present, provided it be ready dressed; for they never kindle a fire, for fear of destroying some life. What is meant by procuring their food by the labour of their feet, is this: every morning as soon as they can distinguish the veins on their hands, the whole Rahans issue from their convents, each with his Sabeit under his arm. They spread themselves ail over the neighbouring streets and villages, and as they pass along, stop a little at the different doors, but without laving a word. If the people of a house are disposed to be charitable, or have not already given away all that has been prepared for the purpose a person, generally the mistress of the house, comes out, puts the ready dressed provisions into the Sabeit, and the Rahan goes on silent, and without returning thanks. Nor does he ever solicit for any thing, should it not be convenient or agreeable for a family to bestow alms: but after standing for a few minutes proceeds on his round. So delicate are they in this particular, that it is sinful for a Rahan on such occasions to cough, or make any signal, by which he might be supposed to put the laity in mind of their duty. To the greater part of convents however such begging is not necessary for a subsistence, as the offerings sent to the different Rahans, by the persons whose spiritual guides they are to the sons of the wealthy by their parents, and to the whole on holy days and festivals, are generally more than sufficient for their own maintenance. As they literally take no care for tomorrow, the superfluity they daily give away to animals, to the poor, and to needy strangers or travellers. However, that they may be able to supply these various demands, and comply with the letter of this law, even when they are in no want of provisions, the Rahans make their daily rounds. In consequence we find in the Burma dominions none of those well-endowed convents in retired places, such as are in many parts of Europe: but the convents are always in the neighbourhood of towns, and always in proportion to the wealth and number of inhabitants. The finest Kiaungs in old Avazrt now descried, and their gilded halls have become the habitations of outlaws and unclean animals. Hence also it is, that near many of the most; celebrated temples there does not live a single Rahan. Kail ngomitdo and Shue Logotharahu are both temples of great dimensions, and high celebrity; and at certain seasons vast multitudes of the laity resort thither on account of their supposed sanctity; but at present there is not in their vicinity a sufficient number of inhabitants to support a convent, and therefore no Rahans live near them.
102 Several of these cloths I have never seen: but the Rahans are well clothed with a large yellow or yellowish mantle, which they throw round them in a decent and becoming manner. Under this they have several smaller pieces of dress, which however I never observed with sufficient accuracy to enable me to describe. They shave the head and beard, are very clean in their persons, and always go bare-footed. None of them wear jewels, or ornaments of gold or silver. In hot weather, I never saw them indulge themselves by exposing their naked bodies; much less do they, like the jollies of Hindustan. ever expose their nudities; but are largely modest and decent in their dress and behaviour.
103 Such houses are not permitted to be used except by persons of very high rank.
104 Such houses are only permitted to God, the king, and the Rahans.
105 These ornaments are only used in charitable or religious buildings, such as Kiaungs, chapels, and the public buildings for the reception of travellers.
106 It is a singular circumstance, that the art of constructing arches should have been lost among the Burmas. From many buildings, especially at Pougan and Gnaungoo, it appears, that formerly they could construct very excellent brick arches, both circular and gothic: but now no one in the empire can be found sufficiently skilful to arch over the opening of a window. Masonry indeed has fallen into neglect, the jealousy of the late princes having prohibited to private individuals the use of brick or stone houses.
107 I shall hereafter give some farther account of these buildings. Suffice it now to say, that I believe, none of the Rahans live at present in the woods. Their Kiaungs are generally situated in the most agreeable places that can be found in the immediate neighbourhood of large villages, towns, or cities. The surrounding grounds are well cleared and enclosed, and generally contain many fine trees, especially the tamarind, mango, coconut, and palrnira. Kiaung is the name which I heard used for these buildings by every one in the Burma empire, except Sangermano, who used the word Bau or Bao. At the time I took this name to be some vulgar Portuguese word: but I have since learned, (Paulinus Mus. Borg, pag. 24,) that it is the Pali name for a convent, derived from Bhava or Bhavana, the Sanskrit word for habitation.
108 In fact I found the priests willing to take any medicine which I prescribed.
109 From this it might be inferred, that unnatural practices were very common among the Burmas; and in various old accounts of Pegu we have mention made of such having been the case, and of some very absurd regulations having in consequence been established. At present, as far as I could learn, neither these regulations are observed, nor even in convents are at all practiced the crimes on account of which they were imposed. The present royal family have been too wise to trust to such frivolous devices, and the number of common women, which, under certain regulations, they permit in every considerable town, has probably been an effectual remedy for the greater vice.
110 We have already explained the meaning of Zian and Nieban. Meipo is said to mean those prerogatives, which are exercised by such as, quite free from worldly thoughts, employ their time entirely in sublime meditations. What a wide difference is here between the priests of the Burmas and of the Hindus.
111 Stephens's translation of Faria y Souza, T. 2. p. 4.
112 Asiatick Researches, II, 369.
113 Sir William Jones, in the Asiatick Researches, IV, 170.
114 I do not know, but that this ought to be written Parucek.