ON THE RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES OF THE HINDUS,
AND OF THE BRAHMENS ESPECIALLY
Henry Thomas Colebrooke
IN THREE ESSAYS
[Extracted from his Essays on the Religion and Philosophy of the Hindus,
new ed. 1858, pp. 76-142.]
[From the Asiatic Researches, vol. v. p. 345-368. Calcutta, 1798. 4to.]
The civil law of the Hindus containing frequent allusions to their religions rites, I was led, among other pursuits connected with a late undertaking, to peruse several treatises on this subject, and to translate from the Sanscrit some entire tracts, and parts of others. From these sources of information, upon a subject on which the Hindus are by no means communicative, I intend to lay before the Society, in this and subsequent essays, an abridged explanation of the ceremonies, and verbal translations of the prayers used at rites, which a Hindu is bound constantly to perform. In other branches of this inquiry, the Society may expect valuable communications from our colleague, Mr. W. C. Blaquiere, who is engaged in similar researches. That part of the subject to which I have confined my enquiries will be also found to contain curious matter, which I shall now set forth without comment, reserving for a subsequent essay the observations which are suggested by a review of these religious practices.
A Brahmana rising from sleep, is enjoined, under the penalty of losing the benefit of all rites performed by him, to rub his teeth with a proper withe, or a twig of the racemiferous fig-tree, pronouncing to himself this prayer: "Attend, lord of the forest; soma, king of herbs and plants, has approached thee: mayest thou and he cleanse my mouth with glory and good auspices, that I may eat abundant food." The following prayer is also used upon this occasion: "Lord of the forest! grant me life, strength, glory, splendour, offspring, cattle, abundant wealth, virtue, knowledge, and intelligence." But if a proper withe cannot be found, or on certain days, when the use of it is forbidden, (that is, on the day of the conjunction, and on [p.77] the first, sixth, and ninth days of each lunar fortnight), he must rinse his mouth twelve times with water.
Having carefully thrown away the twig which has been used, in a place free from impurities, he should proceed to bathe, standing in a river, or in other water. The duty of bathing in the morning, and at noon, if the man be a householder, and in the evening also, if he belong to an order of devotion, is inculcated by pronouncing the strict observance of it no less efficacious than a rigid penance, in expiating sins, especially the early bath in the months of Magha, Phailguna, and Cartica: and the bath being particularly enjoined as a salutary ablution, he is permitted to bathe in his own house, but without prayers, if the weather, or his own infirmities, prevent his going forth: or he may abridge the ceremonies, and use fewer prayers, if a religious duty, or urgent business, require his early attendance. The regular bath consists of ablutions followed by worship, and by the inaudible recitation of the Gayatri with the names of the worlds. First sipping water, and sprinkling some before him, the priest recites the three subjoined prayers, while he performs an ablution, by throwing water eight times on his head, or towards the sky, and concludes it by casting water on the ground, to destroy the demons who wage war with the gods. 1st. "O waters! since ye afford delight, grant us present happiness, and the rapturous sight of the supreme God." 2d. "Like tender mothers, make us here partakers of your most auspicious essence." 3d. "We become contented with your essence, with which ye satisfy the universe. Waters! grant it unto us." (Or, as otherwise expounded, the third text may signify, 'Eagerly do we approach your essence, which supports the universal abode. Waters! grant it unto us.') In the Agni purana, the ablution is otherwise directed: "At twilight, let a man attentively recite the prayers addressed to water, and perform an ablution, by throwing water on the crown of his head, on the earth, towards the sky; again towards the sky, on the earth, on the crown of his head, on the earth, again on the crown of his head, and lastly on the earth." Immediately after this ablution, he should sip water without swallowing it, silently praying in these words: ''Lord of sacrifice! thy heart is in the midst of the waters of the ocean; may salutary herbs and waters pervade thee. With sacrificial hymns and humble salutation we invite thy presence; may this ablution be efficacious." Or he may sip water while he utters inaudibly the mysterious names of the seven worlds. Thrice plunging into water, he must each time repeat the expiatory text which recites the creation; and having thus completed his ablution, he puts on his mantle after washing it, and sits down to worship the rising sun.
This ceremony is begun by his tying the lock of hair on the crown of his head, while he recites the Gayatri holding much cusa grass in his left, and three blades of the same grass in his right [p.78] hand; or wearing a ring of grass on the third finger of the same hand. Thrice sipping water with the same text preceded by the mysterious names of worlds, and each time rubbing his hands as if washing them; and finally, touching with his wet hand, his feet, head, breast, eyes, ears, nose, and navel, or his breast, navel, and both shoulders only (according to another rule), he should again sip water three times, pronouncing to himself the expiatory text which recites the creation. If he happen to sneeze or spit, he must not immediately sip water, but first touch his right ear, in compliance with the maxim, 'after sneezing, spitting, blowing his nose, sleeping, putting on apparel, or dropping tears, a man should not immediately sip water, but first touch his right ear.' "Fire," says Para's'ara, "water, the Vedas, the sun, moon, and air, all reside in the right-ears of Brahmanas. Ganga is in their right ears, sacrificial fire in their nostrils; at the moment when both are touched, impurity vanishes." This, by the by, will explain the practice of suspending the end of the sacerdotal string from over the right ear, to purify that string from the defilement which follows an evacuation of urine. The sipping of water is a requisite introduction of all rites; without it, says the Samba purana, all acts of religion are vain. Having therefore sipped water as above-mentioned, and passed his hand filled with water briskly round his neck while he recites this prayer, "May the waters preserve me!" the priest closes his eyes and meditates in silence, figuring to himself that "Brahma', with four faces and a red complexion, resides in his navel; Vishnu, with four arms and a black complexion, in his heart; and Siva, with five faces and a white complexion, in his forehead." The priest afterwards meditates the holiest of texts during three suppressions of breath. Closing the left nostril with the two longest fingers of his right hand, he draws his breath through the right nostril, and then closing that nostril likewise with his thumb, holds his breath while he meditates the text: he then raises both fingers off the left nostril, and emits the breath he had suppressed. While he holds his breath, he must, on this occasion, repeat to himself the Gayatri with the mysterious names of the worlds, the triliteral monosyllable, and the sacred text of Brahme. A suppression of breath, so explained by the ancient legislator, Ya'jnyawalcya, consequently implies the following meditation: "Om! Earth! Sky! Heaven! Middle region! place of births! Mansion of the blessed! Abode of truth! We meditate on the adorable light of the resplendent generator, which governs our intellects; which is water, lustre, savour, immortal faculty of thought, Brahme, earth, sky, and heaven." According to the commentary, of which a copious extract shall be subjoined, the text thus recited signifies, "That effulgent power which governs our intellects is the primitive element of water, the lustre of gems and other glittering substances, the savour of trees [p.79] and herbs, the thinking soul of living beings: it is the creator, preserver, and destroyer; the sun, and every other deity, and all which moves, or which is fixed in the three worlds, named, earth, sky, and heaven. The supreme Brahme, so manifested, illumines the seven worlds; may he unite my soul to his own radiance: (that is, to his own soul, which resides effulgent in the seventh world, or mansion of truth)." On another occasion, the concluding prayer, which is the Gayatri of Brahme, is omitted, and the names of the three lower worlds only are premised. Thus recited, the Gayatri, properly so called, bears the following import: "On that effulgent power, which is Brahme himself, and is called the light of the radiant sun, do I meditate, governed by the mysterious light which resides within me for the purpose of thought; that very light is the earth, the subtile ether, and all which exists within the created sphere; it is the threefold world, containing all winch is fixed or moveable: it exists internally in my heart, externally in the orb of the sun; being one and the same with that effulgent power, I myself am an irradiated manifestation of the supreme Brahme." With such reflections, says the commentator, should the text be inaudibly recited.
These expositions are justified by a very ample commentary, in which numerous authorities are cited; and to which the commentator has added many passages from ancient lawyers, and from mythological poems, showing the efficacy of these prayers in expiating sin. As the foregoing explanations of the text are founded chiefly on the gloss of an ancient philosopher and legislator, Ya'jnvawalcya, the following extract will consist of little more than a verbal translation of his metrical gloss.
"The parent of all beings produced all states of existence, for he generates and preserves all creatures: therefore is he called the generator. Because he shines and sports, because he loves and irradiates, therefore is he called resplendent or divine, and is praised by all deities. We meditate on the light, which, existing in our minds, continually governs our intellects in the pursuits of virtue, wealth, love, and beatitude. Because the being who shines with seven rays, assuming the forms of time and of fire, matures productions, is resplendent, illumines all, and finally destroys the universe, therefore he, who naturally shines with seven rays, is called light or the effulgent power. The first syllable denotes that he illumines worlds; the second consonant implies that he colours all creatures; the last syllable signifies that he moves without ceasing. From his cherishing all, he is called the irradiating preserver."
Although it appears from the terms of the text, ("Light of the Generator or Sun,") that the sun and the light spoken of are distinct, yet, in meditating this sublime text, they are undistinguished; that light is the sun, and the sun is light; they are identical: "The same effulgent and irradiating power which animates living beings [p.80] as their soul, exists in the sky as the male being residing in the midst of the sun." There is consequently no distinction; but that effulgence which exists in the heart, governing the intellects of animals, must alone be meditated, as one and the same, however, with the luminous power residing in the orb of the sun.
"That which is in the sun, and thus called light or effulgent power, is adorable, and must be worshipped by them who dread successive births and deaths, and who eagerly desire beatitude. The being who may be seen in the solar orb, must be contemplated by the understanding, to obtain exemption from successive births and deaths and various pains."
The prayer is preceded by the names of the seven worlds, as epithets of it, to denote its efficacy; signifying, that this light pervades and illumines the seven worlds, which, "situated one above the other, are the seven mansions of all beings: they are called the seven abodes, self-existent in a former period, renovated in this. These seven mysterious words are celebrated as the names of the seven worlds. The place where all beings, whether fixed or moveable, exist, is called Earth, which is the first world. That in which beings exist a second time, but without sensation, again to become sensible at the close of the period appointed for the duration of the present universe, is the World of Re-existence. The abode of the good, where cold, heat, and light, are perpetually produced, is named Heaven. The intermediate region between the upper and lower worlds, is denominated the Middle World. The heaven, where animals, destroyed in a general conflagration at the close of the appointed period, are born again, is thence called the World of Births. That in which Sanaca, and other sons of Brahme, justified by austere devotion, reside, exempt from all dominion, is thence named the Mansion of the Blessed. Truth, the seventh world, and the abode of Brahme, is placed on the summit above other worlds; it is attained by true knowledge, by the regular discharge of duties, and by veracity: once attained, it is never lost. Truth is, indeed, the seventh world, therefore called the Sublime Abode."
The names of the worlds are preceded by the triliteral monosyllable, to obviate the evil consequence announced by menu, "A Brahmana, beginning and ending a lecture of the Veda (or the recital of any holy strain), must always pronounce to himself the syllable om: for unless the syllable om precede, his learning will slip away from him; and unless it follow, nothing will be long retained." Or that syllable is prefixed to the several names of worlds, denoting that the seven worlds are manifestations of the power signified by that syllable. "As the leaf of the palasa," says Ya'jnvawalcya, "is supported by a single pedicle, so is this universe upheld by the syllable om, a symbol of the supreme Brahme." "All rites ordained, in the Veda, oblations to fire, and solemn sacrifices, pass away; but [p.81] that which passeth not away," says Menu, "is declared to he the syllable om, thence called arshara, since it is a symbol of God, the lord of created beings." (Menu, chap. ii. v. 74, 84.)
The concluding prayer is subjoined, to teach the various manifestations of that light, which is the sun himself. It is Brahme, the supreme soul. "The sun," says Ya'jnyawalcya, "is Brahme: this is a certain truth, revealed in the sacred Upanishads, and in various 'Sac'tras of the Vedas.'' So the Bhavrishya purana, speaking of the sun: "Because there is none greater than he, nor has been, nor will be, therefore he is celebrated as the supreme soul in all the Vedas.''
That greatest of lights which exists in the sun, exists also as the principle of life in the hearts of all beings. It shines externally in the sky, internally in the heart: it is found in fire and in flame. This principle of life, which is acknowledged by the virtuous as existing in the heart and in the sky, shines externally in the ethereal region, manifested in the form of the sun. It is also made apparent in the lustre of gems, stones, and metals; and in the taste of trees, plants, and herbs. That is, the irradiating being, who is a form of Brahme, is manifested in all moving beings (gods, demons, men, serpents, beasts, birds, insects, and the rest) by their locomotion; and in some fixed substances, such as stones, gems, and metals, by their lustre; in others, such as trees, plants, and herbs, by their savour. Every thing which moves or which is fixed, is pervaded by that light, which in all moving things exists as the supreme soul, and as the immortal thinking faculty of beings which have the power of motion. Thus the venerable commentator says, "In the midst of the sun stands the moon, in the midst of the moon is fire, in the midst of light is truth, in the midst of truth is the unperishable being." And again, "God is the unperishable being residing in the sacred abode: the thinking soul is light alone; it shines with unborrowed splendour." This thinking soul, called the immortal principle, is a manifestation of that irradiating power who is the supreme soul.
This universe, consisting of three worlds, was produced from water. "Tie first, with a thought, created the waters, and placed in them a productive seed." (Menu, chap. i. v. 8.) Water, which is the element whence the three worlds proceeded, is that light which is also the efficient cause of creation, duration, and destruction, manifested with these powers, in the form of Brahme, Vishnu, and Rudra: to denote this, "earth, sky, and heaven," are subjoined as epithets of light. These terms bear allusion also to the three qualities of truth, passion, and darkness, corresponding with the three manifestations of power, as creator, preserver, and destroyer; hence it is also intimated, that the irradiating being is manifested as Brahme, Vishnu, and Rudra, who arc respectively endued with the [p.82] qualities of truth, passion, and darkness. The meaning is, that this irradiating being, who is the supreme Brahme, manifested in three forms or powers, is the efficient cause of the creation of the universe, of its duration and destruction. So in the Bhavrishya purana, Crishna says, "The sun is the god of perception, the eye of the universe, the cause of day; there is none greater than he among the immortal powers. From him this universe proceeded, and in him it will reach annihilation; he is time measured by instants," &c. Thus the, universe, consisting of three worlds, containing all which is fixed or moveable, is the irradiating being; and he is the creator of that universe, the preserver and destroyer of it. Consequently nothing can exist, which is not that irradiating power.
These extracts from two very copious commentaries will sufficiently explain the texts which are meditated while the breath is held as above mentioned. Immediately after these suppressions of breath, the priest should sip water, reciting the following prayer: "May the sun, sacrifice, the regent of the firmament, and other deities who preside over sacrifice, defend me from the sin arising from the imperfect performance of a religious ceremony. Whatever sin I have committed by night, in thought, word or deed, be that cancelled by day. Whatever sin be in me, may that be far removed. I offer this water to the sun, whose light irradiates my heart, who sprung from the immortal essence. Be this oblation efficacious." He should next make three ablutions with the prayers: "Waters! since ye afford delight," &c., at the same time throwing water eight times on his head, or towards the sky, and once on the ground as before; and again make similar ablutions with the following prayer: "As a tired man leaves drops of sweat at the foot of a tree; as he who bathes is cleansed from all foulness; as an oblation is sanctified by holy grass; so may this water purify me from sin:" and another ablution with the expiatory text which rehearses the creation. He should next fill the palm of his hand with water, and presenting it to his nose, inhale the fluid by one nostril, and retaining it for a while, exhale it through the other, and throw away the water towards the north-east quarter. This is considered as an internal ablution, which washes away sins. He concludes by sipping water with the following prayer: "Water! thou dost penetrate all beings; thou dost reach the deep recesses of the mountains; thou art the mouth of the universe; thou art sacrifice; thou art the mystic word vasha't thou art light, taste, and the immortal fluid."
After these ceremonies he proceeds to worship the sun, standing on one foot, and resting the other against his ankle or heel, looking towards the east, and holding his hands open before him in a hollow form. In this posture he pronounces to himself the following prayers. 1st. "The rays of light announce the splendid fiery sun, beautifully rising to illumine the universe." 2d. "He rises, [p.83] wonderful, the eye of the sun, of water, and of fire, collective power of gods; he fills heaven, earth, and sky, with his luminous net; he is the soul of all which is fixed or locomotive." 3d. "That eye, supremely beneficial, rises pure from the east; may we see him a hundred years; may we live a hundred years; may we hear a hundred years." 4th. "May we, preserved by the divine power, contemplating heaven above the region of darkness, approach the deity, most splendid of luminaries." The following prayer may be also subjoined: "Thou art self-existent, thou art the most excellent ray; thou givest effulgence: grant it unto me." This is explained as an allusion to the seven rays of the sun, four of which are supposed to point towards the four quarters, one upwards, one downwards; and the seventh, which is centrical, is the most excellent of all, and is here addressed in a prayer, which is explained as signifying, "May the supreme ruler, who generates all things, whose luminous ray is self-existent, who is the sublime cause of light, from whom worlds receive illumination, be favourable to us. " After presenting an oblation to the sun, in the mode to be forthwith explained, the Gayatri must be next invoked, in these words: "Thou art light; thou art seed; thou art immortal life; thou art called effulgent: beloved by the gods, defamed by none, thou art the holiest sacrifice." And it should be afterwards recited measure by measure; then the two first measures as one hemistich, and the third measure as the other; and, lastly, the three measures without interruption. The same text is then invoked in these words: "Divine text, who dost grant our best wishes, whose name is trisyllable, whose import is the power of the Supreme Being; come, thou mother of the Vedas, who didst spring from Brahme, be constant here." The Gayatri is then pronounced inaudibly with the triliteral monosyllable and the names of the three lower worlds, a hundred or a thousand times, or as often as may be practicable, counting the repetitions on a rosary of gems set in gold, or of wild grains. For this purpose the seeds of the putrajira, vulgarly named pitonhia, are declared preferable. The following prayers from the Vishnu purana conclude these repetitions:1
"Salutation to the sun; to that luminary, O Brahme, who is the
light of the
pervader, the pure generator of the universe, the cause of efficacious rites."
2d. "I bow to the great cause of day (whose emblem is a full-blown flower of the
yava tree), the mighty luminary sprung from Casyapa, the foe of darkness, the
destroyer of every sin." Or the priest walks a turn through the south,
rehearsing a short text: "I follow the course of the sun;" which is thus
explained, "As the sun in his course moves round the world by the way of the
south, so do I, following that luminary, obtain the benefit arising from a
journey round the earth by the way of the south."
The oblation above-mentioned, and which is called argha, consists of lila, flowers, barley, water, and red-sanders-wood, in a clean copper vessel, made in the shape of a boat; this the priest places on his head, and thus presents it with the following text: "He who travels the appointed path (namely, the sun) is present in that pure orb of fire, and in the ethereal region; he is the sacrificer at religious rites, and he sits in the sacred close; never remaining a single day in the same spot, yet present in every house, in the heart of every human being, in the most holy mansion, in the subtile ether; produced in water, in earth, in the abode of truth, and in the stony mountains, he is that which is both minute and vast." This text is explained as signifying, that the sun is a manifestation of the Supreme Being, present every where, produced every where, pervading every place and thing. The oblation is concluded by worshipping the sun with the subjoined text: "His rays, the efficient causes of knowledge, irradiating worlds, appear like sacrificial fires."
Preparatory to any act of religion, ablutions must be again performed in the form prescribed for the mid-day bath; the practice of bathing at noon is likewise enjoined as requisite to cleanliness, conducive to health, and efficacious in removing spiritual as well as corporeal defilements: it must, nevertheless, be omitted by one who is afflicted with disease; and a healthy person is forbidden to bathe immediately after a meal, and without laying aside his jewels and other ornaments. If there be no impediment, such as those now mentioned or formerly noticed in speaking of early ablutions, he may bathe with water drawn from a well, from a fountain, or from the bason of a cataract; but he should prefer water which lies above ground, choosing a stream rather than stagnant water, a river in preference to a small brook, a holy stream before a vulgar river; and, above all, the water of the Ganges. In treating of the bath, authors distinguish various ablutions, properly and improperly so called; such as rubbing the body with ashes, which is named a [p.85] bath sacred to fire; plunging into water, a bath sacred to the regent of this element; ablutions accompanied by the prayers, "O waters! since ye afford delight," &c. which constitute the holy bath; standing in dust raised by the treading of cows, a bath denominated from wind or air; standing in the rain during day-light, a bath named from the sky or atmosphere. The ablutions, or bath, properly so called, are performed with the following ceremonies.
After bathing and cleansing his person, and pronouncing as a vow, "I will now perform ablutions," he who bathes should invoke the holy rivers: "O Ganga, Yamanu, Sarasivati, 'Saladru, Marudvid'ha and Jiyiciya! hear my prayers; for my sake be included in this small quantity of water with the holy streams of Parushti, Asicni, and Vitasta.'' He should also utter the radical prayer, consisting of the words "Salutation to Narayaita.'' Upon this occasion a prayer extracted from the Padma purana is often used with this salutation, called the radical text: and the ceremony is at once concluded by taking up earth, and pronouncing the subjoined prayer: "Earth, supporter of all things, trampled by horses, traversed by cars, trodden by Vishnu! Whatever sin has been committed by me, do thou, who art upheld by the hundred-armed Crishna, incarnate in the shape of a boar, ascend my limbs and remove every such sin."
The text extracted from the Padma purana follows: "Thou didst spring from the foot of Vishnu, daughter of Vishnu, honoured by him; therefore preserve us from sin, protecting us from the day of our birth, even unto death. The regent of air has named thirty-live millions of holy places in the sky, on earth, and in the space between; they are all comprised in thee, daughter of Jahnu. Thou art called she who promotes growth; among the gods thou art named the lotos; able, wife of Prit'hu, bird, body of the universe, wife of Siva, nectar, female cherisher of science, cheerful, favouring worlds, merciful, daughter of Jahnu, consoler, giver of consolation. Ganga, who flows through the three worlds, will be near unto him who pronounces these pure titles during his ablutions."
When the ceremony is preferred in its full detail, the regular prayer is a text of the Veda. "Thrice did Vishnu step, and at three strides traversed the universe: happily was his foot placed on this dusty earth. Be this oblation efficacious!" By this prayer is meant, "may the earth thus taken up, purify me." Cow-dung is next employed, with a prayer importing, "Since I take up cow-dung, invoking thereon the goddess of abundance, may I obtain prosperity!" The literal sense is this: "I here invoke that goddess of abundance, who is the vehicle of smell, who is irresistible, ever white. present in this cow-dung, mistress of all beings, greatest of elements, ruling all the senses." Water is afterwards held up in tin; hollow of both hands joined, while the prayer denominated from the regent of water is pronounced: "Because Varuna, king of waters, spread a road [p.86] for the sun, therefore do 1 follow that route. Oh! he made that road ill untrodden space to receive the footsteps of the sun. It is he who restrains the heart-rending wicked." The sense is, "Varuna, king of waters, who curbs the wicked, made an expanded road in the ethereal region to receive the rays of the sun; I therefore follow that route." Next, previous to swimming, a short prayer must be meditated: "Salutation to the regent of water! past are the fetters of Varuna." This is explained as importing, that the displeasure of Varuna at a man's traversing the waters, which are his fetters, is averted by salutation: swimming is therefore preceded by this address. The priest should next recite the invocation of holy rivers, and thrice throw water on his head from the hollow of both hands joined, repeating three several texts. 1st. "Waters! remove this sin, whatever it be, which is in me; whether I have done any thing malicious towards others, or cursed them in my heart, or spoken falsehoods." 2d. "Waters! mothers of worlds! purify us; cleanse us by the sprinkled fluid, ye who purify through libations; for ye, divine waters, do remove every sin."' 3d. "As a tired man leaves drops of sweat at the foot of a tree," &c. Again, swimming, and making a circuit through the south, this prayer should be recited: "May divine waters be auspicious to us for accumulation, for gain, and for refreshing draughts: may they listen to us, that we may be associated with good auspices." Next reciting the following prayer, the priest should thrice plunge into water: "O consummation of solemn rites! who dost purify when performed by the most grievous offenders; thou dost invite the basest criminals to purification; thou dost expiate the most heinous crimes. I atone for sins towards the gods, by gratifying them with oblations and sacrifice; I expiate sins towards mortals, by employing mortal men to officiate at sacraments. Therefore defend me from the pernicious sin of offending the gods." Water must be next sipped with the prayer, "Lord of sacrifice, thy heart is in the midst of the waters of the ocean," &c., and the invocation of holy rivers is again recited. The priest must thrice throw up water with the three prayers: "O, waters, since ye afford delight," &c.; and again, with the three subjoined prayers: 1st. "May the Lord of thought purify me with an uncut blade of cusa grass and with the rays of the sun. Lord of purity, may I obtain that coveted innocence which is the wish of thee, who art satisfied by this oblation of water; and of me, who am purified by this holy grass." 2d. "May the Lord of speech purify me," &c. 3d. "May the resplendent sun purify me," &c. Thrice plunging into water, the priest should as often repeat the grand expiatory text, of which Ya'jnyawalcya says, "It comprises the principles of things, and the elements, the existence of the [chaotic] mass, the production and destruction of worlds." This serves as a key to explain the meaning of the text, which, being considered as the [p.87] essence of the Vedas, is most mysterious. The author before me seems to undertake the explanation of it with great awe, and intimates, that he has no other key to its meaning, nor the aid of earlier commentaries. 'The Supreme Being alone existed: afterwards there was universal darkness: next, the watery ocean was produced by the diffusion of virtue: then did the creator, lord of the universe, rise out of the ocean, and successively frame the sun and moon, which govern day and night, whence proceeds the revolution of years; and after them he framed heaven and earth, the space between, and the celestial region.' The terms, with which the text begins, both signify truth; but are here explained as denoting the supreme Brahme, on the authority of a text quoted from the Veda: "Brahme is truth, the one immutable being. He is truth and ever-lasting knowledge." 'During the period of general annihilation,' says the commentator , 'the Supreme Being alone existed. Afterwards, during that period, night was produced; in other words, there was universal darkness.' "This universe existed only in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, and undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep." (Menu, ch. i. v. 5.) Next, when the creation began, the ocean was produced by an unseen power universally diffused; that is, the element of water was first reproduced, as the means of the creation, "He first, with a thought, created the waters," &c. (Menu. ch. i. v. 5.) Then did the creator, who is lord of the universe, rise out of the waters. 'The Lord of the universe, annihilated by the general destruction, revived with his own creation of the three worlds,' Heaven is here explained, the expanse of the sky above the region of the stars. The celestial region is the middle world and heavens above. The author before me has added numerous quotations on the sublimity and efficacy of this text, which Menu compares with the sacrifice of a horse, in respect of its power to obliterate sins.
After bathing, while he repeats this prayer, the priest should again plunge into water, thrice repeating the text, "As a tired man leaves drops of sweat at the foot of a tree," &c. Afterwards, to atone for greater offences, he should meditate the Gayatri, &c. during three suppressions of breath. He must also recite it measure by measure, hemistich by hemistich; and, lastly, the entire text, without any pause. As a expiation of the sin of eating with men of very low tribes, or of coveting or accepting what should not be received, a man should plunge into water, at the same time reciting a prayer which will be quoted on another occasion. One who has drunk spirituous liquors should traverse water up to his throat, and drink as much expressed juice of the moon-plant as he can take up in the hollow of both hands, while he meditates the triliteral monosyllable, and then plunge into water, reciting the subjoined prayer: "O, Rudra! hurt not our offspring and descendants; abridge not [p.88] the period of our lives; destroy not our cows; kill not our horses; slay not our proud and irritable folks; because, holding oblations, we always pray to thee!"
Having finished his ablutions, and coming out of the water, putting on his apparel after cleansing it, having washed his hands and feet, and having sipped water, the priest sits down to worship in the same mode which was directed after the early bath; substituting, however , the following prayer, in lieu of that which begins with the words, "May the sun, sacrifice," &c., "May the waters purify the earth, that she, being cleansed, may purify me. May the lord of holy knowledge purify her, that she, being cleansed by holiness, may purify me. May the waters free me from every defilement, whatever be my uncleanness, whether I have eaten prohibited food, done forbidden acts, or accepted the gifts of dishonest men." Another difference between worship at noon and in the morning, consists in standing before the sun with uplifted arms instead of joining the hands in a hollow form. In all other respects the form of adoration is similar.
Having concluded this ceremony, and walked in a round beginning through the south, and saluted the sun, the priest may proceed to study a portion of the Veda. Turning his face towards the east, with his right hand towards the south and his left hand towards the north, sitting down with cusa grass before him, holding two sacred blades of grass on the tips of his left fingers, and placing his right hand thereon with the palm turned upwards, and having thus meditated the Gayatri the priest should recite the proper text on commencing the lecture, and read as much of the Vedas as may be practicable for him; continuing the practice daily until he have read through the whole of the Vedas, and then recommencing the course.
Prayer on beginning a lecture of the Rigveda: "I praise the blazing fire, which is first placed at religious rites, which effects the ceremony for the benefit of the votary, which performs the essential part of the rite, which is the most liberal giver of gems."
On beginning a lecture of the Yajurveda: "I gather thee, branch of the Veda, for the sake of rain; I pluck thee for the sake of strength. Calves! ye are like unto air; (that is, as wind supplies the world by means of rain, so do ye supply sacrifices by the milking of cows). May the luminous generator of worlds make you attain success in the best of sacraments."
On beginning a lecture of the Samaveda: "Regent of fire, who dost effect all religious ceremonies, approach to taste my offering, thou who art praised for the sake of oblations. Sit down on this grass."
The text which is repeated on commencing a lecture of the At'harvaveda has been already quoted on another occasion: "May divine waters be auspicious to us," &c.
In this manner should a lecture of the Vedas, or of the
Vedangas, of the sacred
poems and mythological history, of law, and other branches of sacred
literature, be conducted. The priest should next proceed to offer barley, lila, and water to the manes. Turning his face towards the east, wearing the
sacrificial cord on his left shoulder, he should sit down, and spread cusa grass
before him, with the tips pointing towards the east. Taking grains of barley
in his right hand, he should invoke the gods. "O, assembled gods! hear my
call, sit down on this grass." Then throwing away some grains of barley, and
putting one hand over the other, he should pray in these words: "Gods! who
reside in the ethereal region, in the world near us, and in heaven above; ye,
whose tongues are flame, and who save all them who duly perform the sacraments,
hear my call; sit down on this grass, and be cheerful." Spreading the cusa
grass, the tips of which must point towards the east, and placing his left hand
thereon and his right hand above the left, he must offer grains of barley and
water from the tips of his fingers (which are parts dedicated to the gods),
holding three straight blades of grass so that the tips be towards his thumb,
and repeating this prayer: "May the gods be satisfied; may the holy verses, the
scriptures, the devout sages, the sacred poems, the teachers of them, and the
celestial quiristers, be satisfied; may other instructors, human beings,
minutes of time, moments, instants measured by the twinkling of an eye, hours,
days, fortnights, months, seasons, and years, with all their component parts,
be satisfied herewith."2 Next, wearing the sacrificial thread round his neck and
turning towards the north, he should offer lila, or grains of barley with
water, from the middle of his hand (which is a part dedicated to human beings), holding in it
cusa grass, the middle of which must rest on the palm
of his hand: this oblation he presents on grass, the tips of which are pointed
towards the north; and with it he pronounces these words: "May Sanaca be
satisfied; may Sanandana, Sana'tana, Capila, A'suri, Bodhiu, and Parchasic'ha, be satisfied herewith." Placing the thread on his right
shoulder, and turning towards the south, he must offer lila and water from the
root of his thumb (which is a part sacred to the progenitors of mankind), holding bent grass thereon: this oblation ho should present upon a vessel of
rhinoceros' horn placed on grass, the tips of which are pointed towards the
south; and with it he says, "May fire which receives oblations presented to our
forefathers, be satisfied herewith; may the moon, the judge of departed souls,
the sun, the progenitors who are purified by fire, those who are named from
their drinking the juice of the moon-plant, and those who are denominated from
sitting on holy grass, be satis-
fied herewith!" he must then make a similar oblation, saying, "May Narasarya,
Parasarya, Suca, Sacalya, Ya'jnyawalcya, Jatucarna, Watyayana,
Apatamba, Baudhayana, Vachacuti, Vaijavapa, Nuhu, Locashi,
Maitrayani, and Aindrayani, be satisfied herewith." He afterwards offers
three oblations of water mixed with lila from the hollow of both bands joined,
and this he repeats fourteen times with the different titles of Yama, which are
considered as fourteen distinct forms of the same deity. "Salutation to Yama;
salutation to Dherhmaraja, or the king of duties; to death; to Antaca, or the
destroyer; to Vaivaswata, or the child of the sun; to time; to the slayer of all
beings; to Audumbara, or Yama, springing out of the racemiferous fig-tree; to
him who reduces all things to ashes; to the dark-blue deity; to him who resides
in the supreme abode; to him whose belly is like that of a wolf; to the
variegated being; to the wonderful inflictor of pains." Taking up grains of
lila, and throwing them away, while he pronounces this address to fire: "Eagerly
we place and support thee; eagerly we give thee fuel; do thou fondly invite
the progenitors, who love thee, to taste this pious oblation:" Let him invoke
the progenitors of mankind in these words: "May our progenitors, who are
worthy of drinking the juice of the moon-plant, and they who are purified by
fire, approach us through the paths which are travelled by gods; and, pleased
with the food presented at this sacrament, may they ask for more, and preserve
us from evil." He should then offer a triple oblation of water with both
hands, reciting the following text, and saying, "I offer this lila and
my father, such a one sprung from such a family." He must offer similar
oblations to his paternal grandfather, and great-grandfather; and another set of
similar oblations to his maternal grandfather, and to the father and grandfather
of that ancestor: a similar oblation must be presented to his mother, and single
oblations to his paternal grandmother and great-grandmother: three more
oblations are presented, each to three persons, paternal uncle, brother, son,
grandson, daughter's son, son in-law, maternal uncle, sister's son, father's
sister's son, mother's sister, and other relations. The text alluded to bears
this meaning: "Waters, be the food of our progenitors: satisfy my parents, ye
who convey nourishment, which is the drink of immortality, the fluid of
libations, the milky liquor, the confined and promised food of the manes."3
The ceremony may be concluded with three voluntary oblations: the first presented like the oblations to deities, looking towards the east, and with the sacrificial cord placed on his left shoulder; the second, like that offered to progenitors, looking towards the south, and with the string passed over his right shoulder. The prayers which accompany these offerings are subjoined: 1st. "May the gods, [p.91] demons, benevolent genii, huge serpents, heavenly quiristers, fierce giants, blood-thirsty savages, unmelodious guardians of the celestial treasure, successful genii, spirits called Cushmanda, trees, and all animals which move in air or in water, which live on earth, and feed abroad; may all those quickly obtain contentment, through the water presented by me." 2nd. "To satisfy them who are detained in all the hells and places of torment, this water is presented by me." 3d. ''May those who are, and those who are not, of kin to me, and those who were allied to me in a former existence, and all who desire oblations of water from me, obtain perfect contentment." The first text, which is taken from the Samaveda, differs a little from the Yajurveda: "Gods, benevolent genii, huge serpents, nymphs, demons, wicked beings, snakes, birds of mighty wing, trees, giants, and all who traverse the ethereal region, genii who cherish science, animals that live in water or traverse the atmosphere, creatures that have no abode, and all living animals which exist in sin or in the practice of virtue; to satisfy them is tins water presented by me." Afterwards the priest should wring his lower garment, pronouncing this text: "May those who have been born in my family, and have died, leaving no son nor kinsman bearing the same name, be contented with this water which I present by wringing it from my vesture." Then placing his sacrificial cord on his left shoulder, sipping water, and raising up his arms, let him contemplate the sun, reciting a prayer inserted above: "He who travels the appointed path," &c. The priest should afterwards present an oblation of water to the sun, pronouncing the text of the Vishnu purana which has been already cited, "Salutation to the sun," &c. He then concludes the whole ceremony by worshipping the sun with a prayer above quoted: "Thou art self-existent," &c; by making a circuit through the south, while he pronounces, "I follow the course of the sun;" and by offering water from the hollow of his hand, while he salutes the regents of space and other Deities; "Salutation to space; to the regents of space, to Brahma, to the earth, to salutary herbs, to fire, to speech, to the lord of speech, to the pervader, and to the mighty Deity."
[From the Asiatic Researches, vol. vii. p. 232-285. Calcutta, 1801. 4to.]
A FORMER essay on this subject4 described the daily ablutions performed with prayers and acts of religion by every Brahmen. His next daily duty is the performance of the five great sacraments. The first, consisting in the study of the Veda, has been already noticed; the sacraments of the manes, of deities, and of spirits, slightly touched upon in the first essay, will be made the subject of the present one; and the hospitable reception of guests will be followed in the next by a description of the various ceremonies which must be celebrated at different periods, from the birth to the marriage of a Hindu.
The sacrament of deities consists in oblations to fire with prayers addressed to various divinities; and it is exclusive of the offerings of perfumes and blossoms before idols. It docs not fall within n)y present plan to describe the manner in which the several sects of Hindus5 adore their gods, or the images of them; and I shall therefore restrict myself to explain the oblations to fire, and then proceed to describe funeral rites and commemorative obsequies, together with the daily offerings of food and water, to the manes of ancestors.
I am guided by the author now before me6 in premising the [p.93] ceremony of consecrating the fire, and of hallowing the sacrificial implements; ''because this ceremony is, as it were, the ground-work of all religions acts."
First, the priest smears with cow-dung a level piece of ground four cubits square, free from all impurities, and sheltered by a shed. Having bathed and sipped water, he sits down with his face towards the east, and places a vessel of water with cusa grass7 on his left; then, dropping his right knee, and resting on the span of his left hand, he draws with a root of cusa grass a line, one span or twelve fingers long, and directed towards the east. From the nearest extremity of this line he draws another at right angles to it, twenty-one fingers long, and directed towards the north. Upon this line he draws three others, parallel to the first, equal to it in length, and distant seven fingers from each other. The first line is really, or figuratively, made a yellow line, and is sacred to the earth; the second is red, and sacred to fire; the third black, and sacred to Brahma the creator; the fourth blue, and sacred to Indra the regent of the firmament; the fifth white, and sacred to soma. He next gathers up the dust from the edges of these lines, and throws it away towards the north-east, saying, "What was [herein] bad, is cast away:"' and he concludes by sprinkling water on the several lines.
Having thus prepared the ground for the reception of fire sacrificial fire, he takes a lighted ember out of the covered vessel which contains the fire, and throws it away, saying, "I dismiss far away carnivorous fire; may it go to the realm of yam a, bearing sin [hence]." He then places the fire before him, saying, "Earth! Sky! Heaven!'' and adding, "this other [harmless| fire alone remains here; well knowing [its office], may it convey my oblation to the Gods." He then denominates the fire according to the purpose for which he prepares it, saying, "Fire! thou art named so and so;" and he concludes this part of the ceremony by silently burning a log of wood, one span long and smeared with clarified butter.
He next proceeds to place the Brahma or superintending priest. Upon very solemn occasions, a learned Brahmana does actually discharge the functions of superintending priest; but, in general, a bundle containing fifty blades of cusa grass is placed to represent the Brahma. The officiating priest takes up the vessel of water, and walks round the fire keeping his right side turned towards it: be then pours water near it, directing the stream towards the east; be spreads cusa grass thereon; and crossing his right knee over his left without sitting down, he takes up a single blade of grass between the thumb and ring finger of his left hand, and throws it away [p.94] towards the south-west corner of the shed, saying, "What was herein bad, is cast away.'' Next, touching the water, resting the sole of his right font on his left ankle, and sprinkling the grass with water, he places the Brahma on it, saying, "Sit on [this] seat until [thy] fee [be paid thee]." The officiating priest then returns by the same road by which he went round the fire; and sitting down again with his face towards the east, names the earth inaudibly.
If any profane word have been spoken during the preceding ceremony, atonement must he now made by pronouncing this text: "Thrice did Vishnu step, and at three strides traversed the universe: happily was his foot placed on the dusty [earth]." The meaning is, since the earth has been purified by the contact of Vishnu's foot, may she (the earth so purified) atone for any profane word spoken during this ceremony.
If it be intended to make oblations of rice mixed with milk, curds, and butter, this too is the proper time for mixing them; and the priest afterwards proceeds to name the earth in the following prayer, which he pronounces with downcast look, resting both hands on the ground: "We adore this earth, this auspicious and most excellent earth: do thou, fire! resist [our] enemies. Thou dost take [on thee] the power [and office] of other [deities]."
With blades of cusa grass held in his right hand, he must next strew leaves of the same grass on three sides of the fire, arranging them regularly, so that the tip of one row shall cover the roots of the other. He begins with the eastern side, and at three times strews grass there, to cover the whole space from north to south; and in like manner distributes grass on the southern and western sides. He then blesses the ten regions of space; and rising a little, puts some wood8 on the fire with a ladle-full of clarified butter, while he meditates in silence on Brahma, the lord of creatures.
The priest then takes up two leaves of cusa grass, and with another blade of the same grass cuts off the length of a span, saying, "Pure leaves! be sacred to Vishnu;" and throws them into a vessel of copper or other metal. Again he takes two leaves of grass, and holding the tips between the thumb and ring finger of his right hand, and the roots between the thumb and ring finger of his left, and crossing his right hand over his left, he takes up clarified butter on the curvature of the grass, and thus silently casts some into the fire three several times. He then sprinkles both the leaves with water, and. throws them away. He afterwards sprinkles with water the vessel containing clarified butter, and puts it on the fire, and takes it off again, three times, and thus concludes the ceremony of hallow- [p.95] ing the butter; during the course of which, while he holds the leaves of grass in both hands, be recites this prayer: "May the divine generator [Vishnu] purify thee by means of [this] faultless pure leaf; and may the sun do so, by means of [his] rays of light: be this oblation efficacious."
The priest must next hallow the wooden ladle by thrice turning therein his fore-linger and thumb, describing with their tips the figure of 7 in the inside, and the figure of 9 on the outside of the bowl of the ladle. Then dropping his right knee, he sprinkles water from the palms of his hands on the whole southern side of the fire, from west to east, saying, "Aditi! [mother of the Gods!] grant me thy approbation." He does the same on the whole western side, from south to north, saying, "Anumati,9 grant me thy approbation;" and on the northern side, saying, Saraswati! grant me thy approbation." And lastly he sprinkles water all round the fire, while he pronounces this text, "Generous sun! approve this rite; approve the performer of it, that he may share; its reward. May the celestial luminary, which purifies the intellectual soul, purify our minds. May the lord of speech make our prayers acceptable."
Holding cusa grass in both hands, he then recites an expiatory prayer, which will be inserted in another place; and throwing away the grass, he thus finishes the hallowing of the sacrificial implements: a ceremony which necessarily precedes all other religious rites.
He next makes oblations to fire, with such ceremonies, and in such form as are adapted to the religious rite which is intended to be subsequently performed. The sacrifice, with the three mysterious words, usually precedes and follows the particular sacrifice which is suited to the occasion; being most generally practised, it will be the most proper specimen of the form in which oblations are made.
Having silently burnt a log of wood smeared with clarified butter, the priest makes three oblations, by pouring each time a ladle-full of butter on the fire, saying, "Earth! be this oblation efficacious:" "Sky! be this oblation efficacious." "Heaven! be this oblation efficacious." On some occasions he makes a fourth offering in a similar mode, saying, "Earth! Sky! Heaven! be this oblation efficacious." If it be requisite to offer a mixture of rice, milk, curds, and butter, this is now done; and the oblations, accompanied with the names of the three worlds, are repeated.
As another instance of oblations to fire, the sacrifice to the nine planets may deserve notice. This consists of nine oblations of clarified butter with the following prayers:
1. "The divine sun approaches with his golden car, returning alternately with the shades of night, rousing mortal and immortal [p.96] beings, and surveying worlds: May this oblation to the solar planet be efficacious."
2. "Gods! produce that [Moon] which has no foe; which is the son of the solar orb, and became the offspring of space, for the benefit of this world;10 produce it for the advancement of knowledge, for protection from danger, for vast supremacy, for empire, and for the sake of Indra's organs of sense: May this oblation to the lunar planet be efficacious."
3. "This gem of the sky, whose head resembles fire, is the lord of waters, and replenishes the seeds of the earth: May this oblation to the planet Mars be efficacious."
4. "Be roused, fire! and thou, [O Bud'ha!] perfect this sacrificial rite, and associate with us; let this votary and all the Gods sit in this most excellent assembly: May this oblation to the planet Mercury be efficacious."
5. "O Vrihaspati, sprung from eternal truth, confer on us abundantly that various wealth which the most venerable of beings may revere; which shines gloriously amongst all people; which serves to defray sacrifices; which is preserved by strength: May this oblation to the planet Jupiter be efficacious."
6. "The lord of creatures drank the invigorating essence distilled from food; he drank milk and the juice of the moon-plant. By means of scripture, which is truth itself, this beverage, thus quaffed, became a prolific essence, the eternal organ of universal perception, Indra's organs of sense, the milk of immortality, and honey to the manes of ancestors: May this oblation to the planet Venus be efficacious."
7. "May divine waters be auspicious to us for accumulation, for gain, and for refreshing draughts; may they listen to us, that we may be associated with good auspices: May this oblation to the planet Saturn be efficacious."
8. "O Durva,11 which dost germinate at every knot, at every joint, multiply us through a hundred, through a thousand descents: May this oblation to the planet of the ascending node be efficacious."
9. "Be thou produced by dwellers in this world, to give knowledge to ignorant mortals, and wealth to the indigent, or beauty to the ugly: May this oblation to the planet of the descending node be efficacious."
I now proceed to the promised description of funeral rites, abridg-
[p.97] ing the detail of ceremonies as delivered in
rituals, omitting local
variations noticed by authors who have treated of this subject, and commonly
neglecting the superstitious reasons given by them for the very numerous
ceremonies which they direct to be performed in honour of persons recently
deceased, or of ancestors long since defunct.
A dying man, when no hopes of his surviving remain, should be laid upon a bed of cusa grass, either in the house or out of it, if he be a Nudra, but in the open air if lie belong to another tribe. When he is at the point of death, donations of cattle, bind, gold, silver, or other things, according to his ability, should be made by him; or if he be too weak, by another person in his name. His head should be sprinkled with water drawn from the Ganges, and smeared with clay brought from the same river. A salayraima12 stone ought to be placed near the dying man; holy strains from the Veda or from sacred poems should be repeated aloud in his ears, and leaves of holy basil must be scattered over his head.
"When he expires, the corpse must be washed, perfumed, and decked with wreaths of flowers; a bit of tutanag, another of gold, a gem of any sort, and a piece of coral, should be put into the mouth of the corpse, and bits of gold in both nostrils, both eyes, and both ears. A cloth perfumed with fragrant oil must be thrown over the corpse, which the nearest relations of the deceased must then carry with modest deportment to some holy spot in the forest, or near water. The corpse must be preceded by fire, and by food carried in an unbaked earthen vessel; and rituals direct, that it shall be accompanied by music of all sorts, drums, cymbals, and wind and stringed instruments. This practice seems to be now disused in most provinces of Hindustan; but the necessity of throwing a cloth over the corpse, however poor the relations of the deceased maybe, is enforced by the strictest injunctions: it is generally the perquisite of the priest who officiates at the funeral.13
The corpse is carried out by the southern gate of the town, if the [p.98] deceased were a 'Sudra: by the western, if lie were a Brahmana: by the northern, if he belonged to the military class; and by the eastern portal, if he sprung from the mercantile tribe. Should the road pass through any inhabited place, a circuit must be made to avoid it; and when the procession has reached its destination, after once halting by the way, the corpse must be gently laid, with the head towards the south, on a bed of cusa, the tips whereof are pointed southward. The sons or other relations of the deceased having bathed in their clothes, must next prepare the funeral pile with a sufficient quantity of fuel, on a clean spot of ground, after marking lines thereon to consecrate it, in a mode similar to that which is practised in preparing a fire for sacrifices and oblations. They must afterwards wash the corpse, meditating on Gaya and other sacred places, holy mountains, the field of the gurus, the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Causici, Chandrabhaga, Bhadravacasa, Ganilaci, Saraya, and Nermada: Vamara, Varatha, and Pindaraca, and all other holy places on the face of the earth, as well as the four oceans themselves.
Some of these ceremonies are only observed at the obsequies of a priest who maintained a consecrated fire; his funeral pile must be lighted from that fire: but at the obsequies of other persons, the carrying of food to be left by the way, and the consecration of the spot whereon the funeral pile is raised, must be omitted, and any unpolluted fire may be used: it is only necessary to avoid taking it from another funeral pile, or from the abode of an outcast, of a man belonging to the tribe of executioners, of a woman who has lately borne a child, or of any person who is unclean.
After washing the corpse, clothing it in clean apparel, and rubbing it with perfumes, such as sandal-wood, saffron, or aloe wood, the relations of the deceased place the corpse supine with its head towards the north (or resupine, if it be the body of a woman), on the funeral pile, which is previously decorated with strung and unstrung flowers. A cloth must be thrown over it, and a relation of the deceased taking up a lighted brand, must invoke the holy places above-mentioned, and say, "May the Gods with flaming mouths burn this corpse!" He then walks thrice round the pile with his right hand towards it, and shifts the sacrificial cord to his right shoulder. Then looking towards the south, and dropping his left knee to the ground, he applies the fire to the pile near the head of the corpse, saying, "Nama! namah!" while the attending priests recite the following prayer: "Fire! thou wert lighted by him—may he therefore be reproduced from thee that he may attain the region of celestial bliss. May this offering be auspicious." This, it may be remarked, supposes the funeral pile to be lighted from the sacrificial fire kept up by the deceased; the same prayer is, however, used at the funeral of a man who had no consecrated hearth.
The fire must be so managed that some bones may remain for the
subsequent ceremony of gathering the ashes. While the pile is burning, the
relations of the deceased take up seven pieces of wood a span long, and cut
them severally with an axe over the fire-brands (after walking each time round
the funeral pile), and then throw the pieces over their shoulders upon the
fire, saying, ''Salutation to thee who dost consume flesh."
The body of a young child under two years old must not be burnt, but buried. It is decked with wreaths of fragrant flowers, and carried out by the relations, who bury it in a clean spot, saying, "Namo! namah!'' while a priest chants the song of Yama: "The offspring of the sun, day after day fetching cows, horses, human beings, and cattle, is no more satiated therewith than a drunkard with wine."
When funeral rites are performed for a person who died in a foreign country, or whose bones cannot be found, a figure is made with three hundred and sixty leaves of the Butea, or as many woollen threads, distributed so as to represent the several parts of the human body according to a fancied analogy of numbers; round the whole must be tied a thong of leather from the hide of a black antelope, and over that a woollen thread; it is then smeared with barley-meal mixed with water, and must be burnt as an emblem of the corpse.
After the body of the deceased has been burnt in the mode above mentioned, all who have touched or followed the corpse must walk round the pile, keeping their left hands towards it, and taking care not to look at the fire. They then walk in procession, according to seniority, to a river or other running water, and after washing and again putting on their apparel, they advance into the stream. They then ask the deceased's brother-in-law, or some other person able to give the proper answer, "Shall we ])resent water?" If the deceased were a hundred years old, the answer must be simply, "Do so:" but if be were not so aged, the reply is, "Do so, but do not repeat the oblation." Upon this, they all shift the sacerdotal string up the right shoulder, and looking towards the south, and being clad in a single garment without a mantle, they stir the water with the ring-finger of the left hand, saying, "Waters, purify us." With the same finger of the right hand they throw up some water towards the south, and after plunging once under the surface of the river, they rub themselves with their hands. An oblation of water must be next presented from the joined palms of the hands, naming the deceased and the family from which he sprung, and saying, "May this oblation reach thee." If it be intended to show particular honour to the deceased, three offerings of water may be thus made.
After finishing the usual libations of water to satisfy the manes of the deceased, they quit the river and shift their wet clothes for other apparel; they then sip water without swallowing it, and sitting down on the soft turf, alleviate their sorrow by the recital of the [p.100] following or other suitable moral sentences, refraining at the same time from tears and lamentation.
1. "Foolish is he who seeks permanence in the human state, unsolid like the stem of the plantain tree, transient like the foam of the sea."
2. "When a body, formed of five elements to receive the reward of deeds done in its own former person, reverts to its five original principles, what room is there for regret?"
3. "The earth is perishable; the ocean, the Gods themselves pass away: how should not that bubble, mortal man, meet destruction?"
4. "All that is low must finally perish; all that is elevated must ultimately fall; all compound bodies must end in dissolution, and life is concluded with death."
5. "Unwillingly do the manes of the deceased taste the tears and rheum shed by their kinsmen; then do not wail, but diligently perform the obsequies of the dead."14
At night, if the corpse were burnt by day; or in the day time, if the ceremony
were not completed until night; or in case of exigency, whenever the priest
approves, the nearest relation of the deceased takes up water in a new earthen
jar, and returns to the town preceded by a person bearing a staff,15 and
attended by the rest walking in procession, and led by the youngest. Going to
the door of his own house, or to a place of worship, or to some spot near water,
he prepares the ground for the oblation of a funeral cake, by raising a small
altar of earth, and marking lines on it as is practised for other oblations.
Then, taking a brush of cusa grass in his right hand, he washes therewith the
ground, over which cusa grass is spread, saying, "Such a one! (naming the
deceased, and the family from which he sprung) may this oblation be acceptable
to thee." Next, making a ball of three handfuls of boiled rice mixed with
lila,16 fruits of various sorts, honey, milk, butter, and similar things, such
as sugar, roots, pot herbs, &c. (or if that be impracticable, with lila at
least), he presents it on the spot he had purified, naming the deceased, and
saying, "May this first funeral cake, which shall restore thy head, be
acceptable to thee." Again purifying the spot in the same manner as before, and
with the same words addressed to the deceased, he silently puts fragrant flowers,
resin, alighted lamp, betel-leaves, and similar things, on the funeral cake, and
then presents a woollen yarn, naming the deceased, and saying, "May this
apparel, made of woollen yarn, be acceptable to thee." He next
[p.101] offers an earthen vessel full of lila and water near the funeral cake, and
says, "May this vessel of lila and water be acceptable to thee."
It is customary to set apart on a leaf some food for the crows, after which the cake and other things which have been offered must be thrown into the water. This part of the ceremony is then concluded by wiping the ground, and offering thereon a lamp, water, and wreaths of flowers, naming the deceased with each oblation, and saying, "May this be acceptable to thee."
In the evening of the same day, water and milk must be suspended in earthen vessels before the door, in honour of the deceased, with this address to him, "Such a one deceased! bathe here; drink this:" and the same ceremony may be repeated every evening until the period of mourning expire.
When the persons who attended the funeral return home and approach the house-door (before the ceremony of suspending water and milk, but after the other rites above-mentioned), they each bite three leaves of nimba17 between their teeth, sip water, and touch a branch of sami18 with their right hands, while the priest say, "May the sami tree atone for sins." Each mourner then touches fire, while the priest says, "May fire grant us happiness;" and standing between a bull and a goat, touches both those animals while the priest recites an appropriate prayer.19 Then, after touching the tip of a blade of durva grass, a piece of coral, some clarified butter, water, cow-dung, and white mustard-seed, or rubbing his head and hands with the butter and mustard seed, each man stands on a stone, while the priest says for him, "May I be firm like this stone;" and thus he enters his house.
During ten days, funeral cakes, together with libations of water and lila, must be offered as on the first day; augmenting, however, the number each time, so that ten cakes, and as many libations of water and lila, be offered on the tenth day; and with this further difference, that the address varies each time. On the second day the prayer is, "May this second cake, which shall restore thy ears, ryes, and nose, be acceptable;" on the third day, "this third cake, which shall restore thy throat, arms, and breast;" on the fourth, "thy navel and organs of excretion;" on the fifth, "thy knees, legs, and feet;" on the sixth, "all thy vitals;" on the seventh, "all thy veins;" on the eighth, "thy teeth, nails, and hair;" on the ninth, "thy manly strength;" on the tenth, "May this tenth cake, which shall fully satisfy the hunger and thirst of thy renewed body, be acceptable to thee." During this period, a pebble wrapt up in a fragment of the deceased's shroud is worn by the heir suspended on [p.102] his neck. To that pebble, as a type of the deceased, the funeral cakes are offered. The same vessel in which the first oblation was made must be used throughout the period of mourning; this vessel, therefore, is also carried by the heir in the fragment of the shroud. He uses that slip of cloth taken from the winding-sheet as a sacrificial cord, and makes the oblations every day on the same spot; should either the vessel or the pebble be lost by any accident, the offerings must be recommenced.
If the mourning last three days only, ten funeral cakes must be nevertheless offered, three on the first and third days, and four on the second; if it lasts no more than one day, the ten oblations must be made at once.
All the kinsmen of the deceased, within the sixth degree of consanguinity, should fast for three days and nights, or one at the least; however, if that be impracticable, they may eat a single meal at night, purchasing the food ready prepared, but on no account preparing victuals at home. So long as the mourning lasts, the nearest relations of the deceased must not exceed one daily meal, nor eat fresh meat, nor any food seasoned with factitious salt; they must use a plate made of the leaves of any tree but the plantain, or else take their food from the hands of some other persons; they must not handle a knife, or any other implement made of iron, nor sleep upon a bedstead, nor adorn their persons, but remain squalid, and refrain from perfumes and other gratifications; they must likewise omit the daily ceremonies of ablution and divine worship. On the third and fifth days, as also on the seventh and ninth, the kinsmen assemble, bathe in the open air, offer lila and water to the deceased, and take a repast together; they place lamps at cross roads, and in their own houses, and likewise on the way to the cemetery, and they observe vigils in honour of the deceased.
On the last day of mourning, or earlier in those countries where the obsequies are expedited on the second or third day, the nearest kinsman of the deceased gathers his ashes after offering a sraddha singly for him.
In the first place, the kinsman smears with cow-dung the spot where the oblation is to be presented; and after washing his hands and feet, sipping water, and taking up cusa grass in his hand, he sits down on a cushion pointed towards the south and placed upon a blade of cusa grass, the tip of which must also point towards the south. He then places near him a bundle of cusa grass, consecrated by pronouncing the word Namah! or else prepares a fire for oblations; then lighting a lamp with clarified butter or with oil of sesamum, and arranging the food and other things intended to be offered, he must sprinkle himself with water, meditating on Vishnu surnamed the lotos-eyed, or revolving in his mind this verse, "Whether pure or defiled, or wherever he may have gone, he who remembers the [p.103] being whose eyes are like the lotos, shall be pure externally and internally." Shifting the sacerdotal cordon his right shoulder, he takes up a brush of cusa grass, and presents water together with lila and with blossoms, naming the deceased and the family from which he sprung, and saying, "May this water for ablutions be acceptable to thee." Then saying, "May this be right," he pronounces a vow or solemn declaration. "This day I will offer on a bundle of cusa grass (or, if such be the custom, "on fire") a sraddha for a single person, with unboiled food, together with clarified butter and with water, preparatory to the gathering of the bones of such a one deceased." The priests answering "do so," he says "namo! namah!'' while the priests meditate the Gayatri, and thrice repeat, "Salutation to the Gods, to the manes of ancestors, and to mighty saints; to Swaha [goddess of fire]; to swadha [the food of the manes]: salutation unto them for over and ever."
He then presents a cushion made of cusa grass, naming the deceased, and saying, "May this be acceptable unto thee;" and afterwards distributes meal of sesamum, while the priests recite, "May the demons and fierce giants that sit on this consecrated spot be dispersed: and the bloodthirsty savages that inhabit the earth, may they go to any other place to which their inclinations may lead them."
Placing an oval vessel with its narrowest end towards the south, he takes up two blades of grass, and breaking off a span's length, throws them into the vessel; and after sprinkling them with water, makes a libation, while the priests say, "May divine waters be auspicious to us for accumulation, for gain, and for refreshing draughts; may they listen to us, and grant that we may be associated with good auspices." He then throws in lila, while the priests say, "Thou art lila, sacred to Soma; framed by the divinity, thou dost produce celestial bliss [for him that makes oblations]; mixed with water, mayest thou long satisfy our ancestors with the food of the manes: be this oblation efficacious." He afterwards silently casts into the vessel perfumes, flowers, and durva grass. Then taking up the vessel with his left hand, putting two blades of grass on the cushion with their tips pointed to the north, he must pour the water from the argha thereon. The priests meantime recite, "The waters in heaven, in the atmosphere, and on the earth, have been united [by their sweetness] with milk: may those silver waters, worthy of oblation, be auspicious, salutary, and exhilarating to us; and be happily offered: may this oblation be efficacious." He adds "namah," and pours out the water, naming the deceased, and saying, "May this argha be acceptable unto thee." Then oversetting the vessel, and arranging in due order the unboiled rice, condiments, clarified butter, and other requisites, he scatters lila, while the priests recite, "Thrice did Vishnu step," &c. He [p.104] next offers the rice, clarified butter, water, and condiments, while he touches the vessel with his left hand, and names the deceased, saying, "May this raw food, with clarified butter and condiments, together with water, be acceptable unto thee." After the priests have repeated the Gayatri, preceded by the names of the worlds, he pours honey or sugar upon the rice, while they recite this prayer: "May the winds blow sweet, the rivers flow sweet, and salutary herbs be sweet, unto us; may night be sweet, may the mornings pass sweetly; may the soil of the earth, and heaven, parent [of all productions], be sweet unto us; may [Soma] king of herbs and trees be sweet; may the sun be sweet, may kine be sweet unto us." He then says, "Namo! namah!" while the priests recite, "Whatever may be deficient in this food, whatever may be imperfect in this rite, whatever may be wanting in its form, may all that become faultless."
He should then feed the Brahmanas whom he has assembled, either silently distributing food among them, or adding a respectful invitation to them to eat. When he has given them water to rinse their mouths, he may consider the deceased as fed through their intervention. The priests again recite the Gayatri and the prayer, "May the winds blow sweet," &c., and add the subjoined prayers, which should be followed by the music of flagelets, lutes, drums, &c.
1. "The embodied spirit, which hath a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet, stands in the human breast, while he totally pervades the earth." 2. "That being is this universe, and all that has been or will be; he is that which grows by nourishment, and he is the distributor of immortality." 3. "Such is his greatness; and therefore is he the most excellent embodied spirit: the elements of the universe are one portion of him; and three portions of him are immortality in heaven." 4. "That threefold being rose above [this world]; and the single portion of him remained in this universe, which consists of what does, and what does not, taste [the reward of good and bad actions]: again he pervaded the universe." 5. "From him sprung Viraj;20 from whom [the first] man was produced: and he, being successively reproduced, peopled the earth." 6. "From that single portion, surnamed the universal sacrifice, was the holy oblation of butter and curds produced; and this did frame all cattle, wild or domestic, which are governed by instinct." 7. "From that universal sacrifice were produced the strains of the Rich and Saman; from him the sacred metres sprung; from him did the Yajush proceed." 8. "From him were produced horses and all beasts that have two rows of teeth; from him sprung cows; from him proceeded goats and sheep." [p.105] 9. "Him the Gods, the demigods named Sadhya, and the holy sages, consecrated21 as a victim on sacred grass; and thus performed a solemn act of religion." 10. "Into how many portions did they divide this being whom they immolated? what did his mouth become? what are his arms, his thighs, and his feet now called?" 11. ''His mouth became a priest; his arm was made a soldier; his thigh was transformed into a husbandman; from his feet sprung the servile man." 12. "The moon was produced from his mind; the sun sprung from his eye; air and breath proceeded from his ear; and fire rose from his mouth." 13. "The subtile element was produced from his navel; the sky from his head; the earth from his feet; and space from his ear: thus did he frame worlds." 14. "In that solemn sacrifice which the Gods performed with him as a victim, spring was the butter, summer the fuel, and sultry weather the oblation." 15. "Seven were the moats [surrounding the altar]; thrice seven were the logs of holy fuel; at that sacrifice which the Gods performed, binding this being as the victim." 16. "By that sacrifice the Gods worshipped this victim: such were primeval duties; and thus did they attain heaven, where former Gods and mighty demigods abide."22
Next spreading cusa grass near the fragments of the repast, and taking some unboiled rice with lila and clarified butter, he must distribute it on the grass, while the priests recite for him these prayers: "May those in my family who have been burnt by fire, or who are alive and yet unburnt, be satisfied with this food presented on the ground, and proceed contented towards the supreme path [of eternal bliss]. May those who have no father nor mother, nor kinsman, nor food, nor supply of nourishment, be contented with this food offered on the ground, and attain, like it, a happy abode." He then gives the Brahmanas water to rinse their mouths; and the priests once more recite the Gayatri and the prayer, "May the winds blow sweet," &c.
Then taking in his left hand another vessel containing lila blossoms and water, and in his right a brush made of cusa grass, he sprinkles water over the grass spread on the consecrated spot, naming the deceased, and saying, "May this ablution be acceptable to thee:" he afterwards takes a cake or ball of food mixed with clarified butter, and presents it, saying, "May this cake be acceptable to thee;" and deals out the food with this prayer: "Ancestors, rejoice; take your respective shares, and be strong as [p.106] bulls." Then walking round by the left to the northern side of the consecrated spot, and meditating, "Ancestors be glad; take your respective shares and be strong as bulls," he returns by the same road, and again sprinkles water on the ground to wash the oblation, saying, "May this ablution be acceptable to thee."
Next, touching his hip with his elbow, or else his right side, and having sipped water, he must make six libations of water with the hollow palms of his hand, saying, "Salutation unto thee, O deceased, and unto the saddening [hot] season; salutation unto thee, deceased, and unto the month of tapas |or dewy season]; salutation unto thee, deceased, unto that [season] which abounds with water; salutation unto thee, deceased, and to the nectar [of blossoms]; salutation unto thee, deceased, and to the terrible and angry [season]; salutation unto thee, deceased, and to female fire [or the sultry season]."23
He next offers a thread on the funeral cake, holding the wet brush in his hand, naming the deceased, and saying, "May this raiment be acceptable to thee;" the priests add, "Fathers, this apparel is offered unto you." He then silently strews perfumes, blossoms, resin, and betel leaves on the funeral cake, and places a lighted lamp on it. He sprinkles water on the bundle of grass, saying, "May the waters be auspicious;" and offers rice, adding, "May the blossoms be sweet, may the rice be harmless;" and then pours water on it, naming the deceased, and saying, "May this food and drink be acceptable unto thee." In the next place he strews grass over the funeral cake and sprinkles water on it, reciting this prayer, "Waters! ye are the food of our progenitors; satisfy my parents, ye who convey nourishment, which is ambrosia, butter, milk, cattle, and distilled liquor."24 Lastly, he smells some of the food, and poises in his hand the funeral cakes, saying, "May this ball be wholesome food;" and concludes by paying the officiating priest his fee, with a formal declaration, "I do give this fee (consisting of so much money) to such a one (a priest sprung from such a family, and who uses such a Veda and such a sacha of it) , for the purpose of fully completing the obsequies this day performed by me in honour of one person singly, preparatory to the gathering of the bones of such a one, deceased." [p.107] After the priest has thrice said, "Salutation to the Gods, to progenitors, to mighty saints," &c, he dismisses him; lights a lamp in honour of the deceased; meditates on Heri with undiverted attention; casts the food and other things used at the obsequies into the fire; and then proceeds to the cemetery for the purpose of gathering the ashes of the deceased.
The son or nearest relation of the defunct, accompanied by his kinsmen, and clothed in clean apparel, repairs to the cemetery, carrying eight vessels filled with various flowers, roots, and similar things. When arrived there, he does honour to the place by presenting an argha, with perfumes, blossoms, fragrant resins, a lamp, &c. Some of his kinsmen invoke the deities of the cemetery, when the argha is presented; others, when flowers are offered; others again, when food, fragrant resins, a lighted lamp, water, wreaths of flowers, and rice are offered, saying, "Salutation to the deities whose mouths are devouring fire." He advances to the northern gate25 or extremity of the funeral pile, sits down there, and presents two vessels as an oblation to spirits, with this prayer, "May the adorable and eternal Gods, who are present in this cemetery, accept from us this eight-fold unperishable oblation: may they convey the deceased to pleasing and eternal abodes, and grant to us life, health, and perfect ease. This eight-fold oblation is offered to Siva and other deities: salutation unto them." Then walking round the spot with his right side towards it, he successively places two other vessels, containing eight different things, at each of three other gates or sides of the enclosure which surrounds the funeral pile; and he presents these oblations with the same formality as before, sprinkles them with milk, and adds, ''May Siva and the other deities depart to their respective abodes.'' He then shifts the sacerdotal string to his right shoulder, turns his face towards the south, silently sprinkles the bones and ashes with cow's milk, and, using a branch of sami and another of palasa26 instead of tongs, first draws out from the ashes the bones of the head, and afterwards the other bones successively, sprinkles them with perfumed liquids and with clarified butter made of cow's milk, and puts them into a casket made of the leaves of the palasa; this he places in a new earthen vessel, covers it with a lid, and ties it up with thread. Choosing some clean spot where encroachments of the river are not to be apprehended, he digs a very deep hole, and spreads cusa grass at the bottom of it, and over the grass a piece of yellow cloth; he places thereon the earthen vessel containing the bones of the deceased, covers it with a lump of mud, together with [p.108] thorns, moss and mud, and plants a tree in the excavation, or raises a mound of masonry, or makes a pond, or erects a standard. He, and the rest of the kinsmen, then bathe in their clothes. At a subsequent time, the son or other near relation fills up the excavation and levels the ground; he throws the ashes of the funeral pile info the water, cleans the spot with cow-dung and water, presents oblation to Siva and other deities in the manner beforementioned, dismisses those deities, and casts the oblation into water. To cover the spot where the funeral pile stood, a tree should be planted, or a mound of masonry be raised, or a pond be dug, or a standard be erected.27 Again, at a subsequent time, the son, or other near relation, carries the bones, which were so buried , to the river Ganges: he bathes there, rubs the vessel with the five productions of kine, puts gold, honey, clarified butter and lila on the vessel, and looking towards the south, and advancing into the river, with these words, "Be there salutation unto justice," throws the vessel into the waters of the Ganges, saying, "May he (the deceased) be pleased with me." Again bathing, he stands upright, and contemplates the sun; then sipping water, and taking up cusa grass, lila, and water, pays the priests their fees.
So long as mourning lasts after gathering the ashes, the near relations of the deceased continue to offer water with the same formalities and prayers as abovementioned, and to refrain from facti- [p.109] tious salt, butter, &c. On the last day of mourning, the nearest relation puts on neat apparel, and causes his house and furniture to he cleaned; he then goes out of the town, and after offering the tenth funeral cake in the manner before described, he makes ten libations of water from the palms of his hands, causes the hair of his head and body to be shaved, and his nails to be cut, and gives the barbers the clothes which were worn at the funeral of the deceased, and adds some other remuneration, he then anoints his head and limbs down to his feet with oil of sesamum, rubs all his limbs with meal of sesamum, and his head with the ground pods of white mustard; he bathes, sips water, touches and blesses various auspicious things, such as stones, clarified butter, leaves of nimba, white mustard, durra grass, coral, a cow, gold, curds, honey, a mirror, and a conch, and also touches a bambu staff. He now returns purified to his home, and thus completes the first obsequies of the deceased.
The second series of obsequies, commencing on the day after the period of mourning has elapsed, is opened by a lustration termed the consolatory ceremony, the description of which must be here abridged, for want of a commentary to explain all the prayers that are recited at this religious rite; for the same reason, an account of the ceremonies attending the consecration and dismissal of a bull in honour of the deceased, must for the present be postponed.
The lustration consists in the consecration of four vessels of water, and sprinkling therewith the house, the furniture, and the persons belonging to the family. After lighting a fire, and blessing the attendant Brahmanas, the priest fills four vessels with water, and putting his hand into the first, meditates the Gayatri, before and after reciting the following prayers:
1. "May generous waters be auspicious to us, for gain and for refreshing draughts; may they approach towards us, that we may be associated with good auspices." 2. "Earth, afford us ease, be free from thorns, be habitable; widely extended as thou art, procure us happiness." 5. "O waters! since ye afford delight, grant us food, and the rapturous sight [of the Supreme Being]." 4. "Like tender mothers, make us here partakers of your most auspicious essence."28
Putting his hand into the second vessel, the priest meditates the [p.110] Gayatri and the four prayers above quoted, adding some others, and concluding this second consecration of water by once more meditating the Gayatri.
Then taking a lump of sugar and a copper vessel in his left hand, biting the sugar and spitting it out again, the priest sips water; afterwards putting his hand into the third vessel, he meditates the Gayatri and the four prayers above cited, interposing this, "May Indra and Varuna [the regents of the sky and of the ocean] accept our oblations and grant us happiness; may Indra and the cherishing sun grant us happiness in the distribution of food; may Indra and the moon grant us the happiness of attaining the road to celestial bliss and the association of good auspices." The priest adds, I. "May we sufficiently attain your essence with which you satisfy the universe. Waters! grant it to us." 2. "May heaven be our comfort; may the sky, earth, water, salutary herbs, trees, the assembled gods, the creator, and the universe, be our comfort; may that comfort obviate difficulties, and become to us the means of attaining our wishes." 3. "Make me perfect in [my own person, and in the persons of all who are] connected with me; may all beings view me with the [benevolent] eye of the sun: I view all beings with the solar eye; let us view each other with the [benevolent] solar eye." 4. "Make me perfect in my own person, and in the persons of all who are allied to me: may I live long in thy sight; long may I live in thy sight." 5. "Salutation to thee [O fire!] who dost seize oblations, to thee who dost shine, to thee who dost scintillate; may thy flames burn our foes; mayest thou, the purifier, be auspicious unto us." 6. "Salutation to thee, manifested in lightning; salutation to thee, manifested in thunder; salutation to thee, god! for thou dost endeavour to bestow celestial bliss." 7. "Since thou dost seek to awe the wicked [only], make us fearless; grant happiness to our progeny, and courage to our cattle." 8. "May water and herbs be friendly to us; may they be inimical to him who hates us and whom we hate." 9. "May we see a hundred years that pure eye, which rises from the east, and benefits the Gods; may we live a hundred years; may we speak a hundred years; may we be free from distress a hundred years, and again a hundred years." After another prayer, the priest again meditates the Gayatri and thus concludes the third consecration. He then hallows the fourth vessel of water in a similar manner, with a repetition of the prayer, "May the earth be our comfort," &c., and with some others, which must be here omitted for the reason before mentioned.''29
Though it be not positively enjoined, it is customary,
immediately after this
lustration, to give away a vessel of lila, and also a cow, for the sake of
securing the passage of the deceased over the Vaitarani, or river of hell;
whence the cow so given is called Vaitarani d'henu. Afterwards a bed with
its furniture is brought, and the giver sits down near the Brahmana who has been invited to receive the present; after saying, "Salutation to this bed
with its furniture, salutation to this priest to whom it is given," he pays due
honour to the Brahmana in the usual form of hospitality. .He then pours
water into his hand, saying, "I give thee this bed with its furniture;" the
priest replies, "Give it." Upon this he sprinkles it with water, and taking up
cusa grass, lila, and water, delivers them to the priest, pouring the
water into his hand, with a formal declaration of the act and its purpose; and again
delivers a bit of gold with cusa grass, &c. making a similar formal
declaration, 1. "This day, I, being desirous of obtaining celestial bliss for
such a one defunct, do give unto thee, such a one. a Brahmana, descended
from such a family, to whom due honour has been shown, this bed and furniture,
which has been duly honoured, and which is sacred to Vishnu." 2. "This day
give unto thee (so and so) this gold, sacred to fire, as a sacerdotal fee, for
the sake of confirming the donation I have made of this bed and furniture." The
Brahmana both times replies, "Be it well." Then lying upon the bed, and touching
it with the upper part of his middle-finger, he meditates the Gayatri with
suitable prayers, adding, "This bed is sacred to Vishnu."
With the same ceremonies, and with similar formal declarations, he next gives away to a Brahmana (or more commonly, in both instances, to a married couple) a golden image of the deceased, or else a golden idol, or both, with clothes and various sorts of fruit. 'Afterwards he distributes other presents among Brahmanas, for the greater honour of the deceased: making donations of land, and giving a chair or stool, clothes, water, food, betel-leaf, a lamp, gold, silver, a parasol, an orchard of fruit trees, wreaths of flowers, a pair of shoes, another bed, another milch cow, and any other presents he may choose to give, such as an elephant, a horse, a carriage, a slave, a house, and so forth.'
It is hardly necessary to remark on this quotation, that none but very rich or superstitious persons make these ample donations, which are not positively enjoined, though strenuously recommended.
There is some difference in the religious formalities with which various
things are given or accepted, on this or on any other occasion. In the formal
declaration, too, a different tutelary Deity is named, and a different object
is specified; but, in other respects, the form of the declaration is similar,
whatever be the occasion on which the gift is made.
In making a donation of land, the donor sits down with his face to the east, opposite to the person to whom he gives it. The donor says, "Salutation to this land with its produce; salutation to this priest, to whom I give it." Then, after showing him honour in the usual form, he pours water into his hand, saying, "I give thee this land with its produce." The other replies, "Give it." Upon which he sprinkles the place with water; and taking up water, with holy basil and cusa grass, he pours the water into the other's hand, making a formal declaration of the donation and the motive of it. He then delivers a bit of gold, with cusa grass, &c., declaring his purpose in giving it, as a sacerdotal fee, to consolidate the donation of land. The other accepts the gift by a verbal acknowledgment, and meditates the Gayatri with some other prayers.
A chair or stool is accepted by sitting down on it; clothes, by putting them on; a parasol, by holding the handle of it; shoes or sandals, by standing on them; and a couch, by lying on it. In these and other donations there is no variation in the prayers; but the gift of a milch cow is made with other texts, which the donor recites standing near the cow, and making a libation of water from the palms of his hands after the recital of each prayer. The gift is accepted by holding the animal's tail.
1, "May the Goddess, who is the Lacshmi of all beings and resides among the Gods, assume the shape of a milch cow and procure me comfort." 2. "May the Goddess who is Rudrani in a corporeal form, and who is the beloved of Siva, assume the shape of a milch cow and procure me comfort," 3. "May she, who is Lacshmi reposing on the bosom of Vishnu; she, who is the Lacshmi of the regent of riches; she, who is the Lacshmi of kings, be a boon-granting cow to me." 4. "May she, who is the Lacshmi of Brahma; she, who is Swaha, the wife of fire; she, who is the exerted power of the sun, moon, and stars, assume the shape of a milch cow for [my] prosperity.'" 5. "Since thou art Swadha [the food] of them, who are chief among the manes of ancestors, and Swaha [the consuming power] of them, who eat solemn sacrifices; therefore, being the cow that expiates every sin, procure me comfort." 6. "I invoke the Goddess who is endowed with the attributes of all the Gods, who confers all happiness, who bestows [abodes in] all the worlds for the sake of all people." 7. "I pray to that auspicious Goddess for immortality and happiness."
The remaining ceremonies, omitting for the present the oonsecra- [p.113] tion of a bull, consist chiefly in the obsequies called svaddhas. The first set of funeral ceremonies is adapted to effect, by means of oblations, the reembodying of the soul of the deceased, after burning his corpse. The apparent scope of the second set is to raise his shade from this world (where it would else, according to the notions of the Hindus, continue to roam among demons and evil spirits) up to heaven, and there deify him, as it were, among the manes of departed ancestors. For this end, a svaddha should regularly be offered to the deceased on the day after mourning expires; twelve other svaddhas singly to the deceased in twelve successive months; similar obsequies at the end of the third fortnight, and also in the sixth month, and in the twelfth; and the oblation called Sapindana, on the first anniversary of his decease. In most provinces the periods for these sixteen ceremonies, and for the concluding obsequies entitled Sapindana, are anticipated, and the whole is completed on the second or third day; after which they are again performed at the proper times, but in honour of the whole set of progenitors instead of the deceased singly. The obsequies intended to raise the shade of the deceased to heaven are thus completed. Afterwards a svaddha is annually offered to him on the anniversary of his decease.
The form of the various svaddhas (for they are numerous) is so nearly the same, that it will be only necessary to describe that which is performed in honour of progenitors in general; and at which three funeral cakes are offered to throe paternal ancestors; as many to three maternal forefathers, and two to the Viswedevas or assembled Gods. A sradda in honour of one person singly has been already noticed.
After smearing the place with cow-dung, a square altar of sand is raised on it, one or two fingers high, and a span nearly in each direction. (It must be triangular at the obsequies of one recently defunct.) The person who performs the ceremony, first washes [p.114] his hands and feet, sips water, and puts a ring of cusa grass on the ring finger of each hand. He sits down on a cushion of cusa grass, or of other materials, placed upon a blade of such grass. He lights a lamp, reciting a prayer, which will be cited on another occasion. He places the implements and materials in regular order, and sprinkles water on himself and all around, meditating on Vishnu surnamed the lotos-eyed, and revolving in his mind the couplet, "Whether pure or defiled," &c. He now shifts the sacerdotal thread to his right shoulder, and solemnly declares his intention of performing a sraddha, and the motive of it. He thrice meditates the Gayatri, and pronounces the salutation to superior beings, "Salutation to the Gods, to the manes of ancestors," &c.
After this preparation he proceeds to invite and to welcome the assembled Gods and the manes. First, he places two little cushions of cusa grass on one side of the altar for the Viswedcvas, and six in front of it for the Pitris. Each cushion should consist of three blades of grass folded up. After strewing cusa grass on those cushions, he asks, "Shall I invoke the assembled Gods?" Being told "Do so," he thus invokes them: "Assembled Gods! hear my invocation; come and sit down on this holy grass." After scattering barley on the same spot, he meditates this prayer, "Assembled Gods! listen to my invocation, ye, who reside in the sky; and ye who abide near us [on earth], or [far off] in heaven; ye, whose tongues are fire; and ye, who defend the funeral sacrifice, sit on this grass and be cheerful." He then invites the manes of ancestors with similar invocations: "O fire! zealously we support thee; zealously we feed thee with fuel; eagerly do thou call our willing ancestors to taste our oblation." May our progenitors, who eat the moon-plant, who are sanctified by holy fires, come by paths, which Gods travel.31 Satisfied with ancestral food at this solemn sacrifice, may they applaud and guard us." He next welcomes the Gods and manes with oblations of water, &c. in vessels made of leaves."32 Two are presented to the Viswedevas, and three to paternal ancestors, and as many to maternal forefathers. Cusa grass is put into each vessel and water sprinkled on it, while the prayer, "May divine waters be auspicious to us," &c. is recited. Barley is thrown into the vessels intended for the Gods, and lila into those intended for the manes of ancestors, with these prayers, 1. "Barley! thou art the separator,33 separate [us] from our natural enemies and from our malicious foes." 2. "Thou art lila, sacred to Soma," &c. At a sraddha for increase of prosperity, which is performed on many [p.115] occasions as a preparative for a solemn act of religion, barley is thrown into the vessels instead of lila and the last prayer is thus varied: "Thou art barley, sacred to Soma framed by the divinity, thou dost produce celestial bliss; mixt with water, mayest thou long satisfy with nourishment my several progenitors, whose mouths are full of blessings." The vessels are successively taken up, repeating each time a prayer before cited: "The waters in heaven, in the atmosphere, and on the earth, have been united with milk,''' &c. The cusa grass that lay on the vessels is put into a Brahmanas hand, and that which was under it is held by the person who performs the sraddha, in his own hand; and through it he successively pours the water out of each vessel on the Brahmanas hand. He then piles up the empty vessels in three sets, and reverses them, saying, while he oversets the first, "Thou art a mansion for ancestors."
At the last obsequies for one recently deceased, and which are named the Sapindana, the following prayer is recited when the vessel which has been offered to him is piled up with the rest: "May the mansion of those progenitors, who have reached a common abode, and who have accordant minds, foster him; may the blessed sacrifice, sacred to the Gods, be his." The subjoined prayer likewise is peculiar to the Sapindana: "By [the intercession of] those souls who are mine by affinity, who are animated [shades], who have reached a common abode, who have accordant minds, may prosperity be mine in this world for a hundred years."
The person who performs the sraddha next takes up food smeared with clarified butter, and makes two oblations to fire, reciting these prayers: 1. "May this oblation to fire, which conveys offerings to the manes, be efficacious." 2. "May this oblation to the moon, wherein the progenitors of mankind abide, be efficacious."
Brahmanas should be fed with the residue of the oblation; it is accordingly consecrated for that purpose by the following prayer: "The vessel that holds thee is the earth; its lid is the sky; I offer this residue of an oblation, similar to ambrosia, in the undefiled mouth of a priest: may this oblation be efficacious," The performer of the sraddha then points with his thumb towards the food, saying, "Thrice did Vishnu step,"&c. He adds, "May the demons and giants that sit on this consecrated spot be dispersed." He meditates the Gayatri with the names of the worlds, and sweetens the food with honey or sugar, saying, "May winds blow sweet," &c. He then distributes the food among Brahmanas; and when they have eaten and have acknowledged that they are satisfied, he gives them water to rinse their mouths.
He now proceeds to offer the funeral cakes, consisting of balls or lumps of food mixed with clarified butter. He offers three to the paternal forefathers, as many to the maternal ancestors, and two to [p.116] the Viswedevas. The prayers ("Ancestors! rejoice, take your respective shares," &c.) and the form of the oblation, have been already mentioned. It is only necessary to add in this place, that he wipes his hand with cusa grass in honour of remoter ancestors, who thus become partakers of the oblations.
In the next place, he makes six libations of water from the palms of his hands, with the salutation to the seasons: "Salutation unto you, fathers, and unto the saddening season," &c. By this prayer the manes of ancestors are doubly saluted for the Veda declares, "The six seasons are the progenitors of mankind."
A thread is placed on each funeral cake, to serve as apparel for the manes, and each time the same words are repeated, "Fathers! this apparel is offered unto you." Flowers, perfumes, and similar things are added at pleasure; but water must be sprinkled on each cake, with the prayer, "Waters, ye are the food of our progenitors," &c.
The performer of the sraddha then takes up the middle cake and smells to it; or his wife eats it, if they be solicitous for male offspring. In this case the following prayer must be recited: "Grant, progenitors, the conception of a male child, [long-lived and healthy, like] the lotos and garland [or twins, that sprung from Aswini]; so that, at this season, there may be a person [to fulfil the wishes of the Gods, of the manes, and of human beings]." He then takes up the cakes successively, smells to them, throws them into a vessel, and gives away the food to a mendicant priest or to a cow, or else casts it into the waters.
He then dismisses the manes, saying, "Fathers, to whom food belongs, guard our food and the other things offered by us; venerable and immortal as ye are and conversant with holy truths. Quaff the sweet essence of it, be cheerful, and depart contented by the paths which Gods travel." Lastly, he walks round the spot and leaves it, saying, "May the benefit of this oblation accrue to me repeatedly; may the Goddess of the earth, and the Goddess of the sky, whose form is the universe, visit me [with present and future happiness]. Father and mother! revisit me [when I again celebrate obsequies], Soma, king of the manes! visit me for the sake of [conferring] immortality."
A sraddha is thus performed, with an oblation of three funeral cakes only to three male paternal ancestors, on some occasions; or with as many funeral oblations to three maternal ancestors, on others. Sometimes separate oblations are also presented to the wives of the paternal ancestors; at other times, similar offerings are likewise made to the wives of three maternal ancestors. Thus, at the monthly sraddhas celebrated on the day of new moon, six funeral cakes are offered to three paternal and as many maternal male ancestors with their wives: on most other occasions separate ob- [p.117] lations are presented to the female ancestors. At the obsequies celebrated in the first half of Aswini, on the day entitled Mahalaya, funeral cakes are separately offered to every deceased friend and near relation: thus, immediately after the oblations to ancestors, a cake is presented to a deceased wife, then to a son or daughter, to a brother or sister, to an uncle or aunt, to a father-in law, to a preceptor, and lastly to a friend. The same is observed at the obsequies performed on the day of an eclipse, or upon a pilgrimage to any holy spot, and especially to Gaya.
Formal obsequies are performed no less than ninety-six times in every year; namely, on the day of new moon, and on the dates of the fourteen Menwaniaras and of four Yugadyas; that is, on the anniversaries of the accession of fourteen menus and of the commencement of four ages: also throughout the whole first fortnight of Aswini, thence called pitripacsha, and whenever the sun enters a new sign, and especially when he reaches the equinox or either solstice; and, in certain circumstances, when the moon arrives at Vyatipata, one of the twenty-seven yogas or astrological divisions of the zodiac. The eighth of Pausha, called Aindri the eighth of Mayha (when flesh meat should be offered), and the ninth of the same month, together with additional obsequies on some of these dates and on a few others, complete the number abovementioned. Different authorities do not, however, concur exactly in the number, or in the particular days, when the s'raddhas should be solemnized.
Besides these formal obsequies a daily sraddha is likewise performed. It consists in dropping food into the hands of a Brahmana after offering it to six ancestors by name. With the usual preparatory vow and prayers, and with the formality of placing three blades of grass as a seat for each ancestor; but using a single prayer only for the invocation of the manes, and omitting the ceremony of welcoming them with an argha. Libations of water are also made in honour of progenitors, as noticed in the former essay on daily ablutions.
The obsequies for increase of prosperity, or as the same term (Vriddhi sraddha) may signify, the obsequies performed on an accession of prosperity,34 are celebrated previously to the sacrifice of a victim and to the solemnization of a marriage or of any of the ceremonies which, according to the notions of the Hindus, contribute to the regeneration of a twice-born man, that is, of a Brahmana, Cshatriya, or Vaisya. This sraddha is likewise performed at the commencement and close of a solemn fast.
It should be observed respecting the practice of giving food to priests at all these obsequies, that Brahmanas generally give it to [p.118] one or more of their own relations. A stranger, unless indigent, would be very unwilling to accept the food, or to attend at a sraddha for the purpose of eating it. The use of flesh meat is positively enjoined to Hindus at certain obsequies (see Menu, c. iii, v, 124), and recommended at all (Menu, c. iii. v. 268, &c.); but the precepts of their law-givers on the subject are by some deemed obsolete in the present age, and are evaded by others, who acknowledge the cogency of these laws. These commonly make a vow to abstain from flesh-meat, and consider that vow as more binding than the precepts here alluded to. Others, again, not only eat meat at obsequies and solemn sacrifices, but make it their common diet, in direct breach of the institutes of their religion. (See Menu, c. 5. v. 31, &c.)
Brahmanas who maintain a perpetual fire, which all who devote themselves to the priesthood ought to do, perform the daily ceremonies of religion in their full detail. Others, who are engaged in worldly pursuits, and even some who follow the regular profession of the sacerdotal tribe, abridge these rites. They comprise all the daily sacraments in one ceremony, called Vaiswadeva, which is celebrated in the forenoon, and by some in the evening likewise. It consists in oblations to the Gods, to the manes, and to the spirits, out of the food prepared for the daily meal; and in a gift of a part of it to guests.
Sitting down on a clean spot of ground, the Brahmana places a vessel containing fire on his right hand, and hallows it by throwing away a lighted piece of cusa grass, saying, "I dismiss far away carnivorous fire," &c. He then places it on the consecrated spot reciting the prayer with which the household and sacrificial fires should be lighted by the attrition of wood; "Fires! [this wood] is thy origin, which is attainable in all seasons; whence being produced, thou dost shine. Knowing this, seize on it, and afterwards gument our wealth."
He then lays cusa grass on the eastern side of the fire with its tips pointed towards the north, reciting the first verse of the Rig-Veda, with which also it is usual to commence the daily lecture of that Veda: "I praise divine fire, primevally consecrated, the efficient performer of a solemn ceremony, the chief agent of a sacrifice, the most liberal giver of gems."
He next spreads cusa grass on the southern side of the fire with its tips pointed towards the east, reciting the introduction of the Yajurveda, with which also a daily lecture of the Yajush is always begun. 1. "I gather thee for the sake of rain." [He breaks off a branch of a tree, or is supposed to do so, with these words.] 2. ''1 pluck thee for the sake of strength." [He pulls down the branch he had broken.] 3. "Ye are like unto air.'' [He touches young calves with the branch he had plucked.] 4. "May the liberal generator [of worlds] make you happily reach this most excellent [p.119] sacrament." [He is here supposed to touch the milch cows with the same branch.]
He then spreads cusa grass on the western side with the tips pointed to the north, reciting the prayer which precedes a lecture of the Samaveda: "Fire! approach to taste [my offering]; thou, who art praised for the gift of oblations. Sit down on this grass, thou, who art the complete performer of the solemn sacrifice."
In like manner he spreads cusa grass on the northern side with the tips pointed to the east, reciting the prayer which precedes a lecture of the Atharvan: "May divine waters be auspicious to us," &c.
Exciting the fire and sprinkling water on it, he must offer with his hands food smeared with clarified butter, three several times saying. ''Earth! Sky! Heaven!" He then makes five similar oblations to the regent of fire; to the god of medicine; to the assembled deities; to the lord of created beings; and, lastly, to the Creator of the universe. He concludes the sacrament of the Gods with six oblations, reciting six prayers. 1. "Fire! thou dost expiate a sin against the Gods [arising from any failure in divine worship]: may this oblation be efficacious." 2. "Thou dost expiate a sin against man [arising from a failure in hospitality]." 3. "Thou dost expiate a sin against the manes [from a failure in the performance of obsequies]." 4. "Thou dost expiate a sin against my own soul [arising from any blameable act]." 5. "Thou dost expiate repeated sins." 6. "Thou dost expiate every sin I have committed, whether wilfully or unintentionally: may this oblation be efficacious."
He then worships fire, making an oblation to it with this prayer: "Fire! seven are thy fuels; seven thy tongues; seven thy holy sages; seven thy beloved abodes; seven ways do seven sacrificers worship thee. Thy sources are seven. Be content with this clarified butter. May this oblation be efficacious."35
About this time he extinguishes the Racshogna, or lamp lighted previously to the presenting of oblations to the Gods and to the [p.120] manes. It was lighted for the purpose of repelling evil spirits, and is now extinguished with this text: "In solemn acts of religion, whatever fails through the negligence of those who perform the ceremony, may be perfected solely through meditation on Vishnu."
The Brahamana should next offer the residue of the oblation to spirits, going round to the different places where such oblations ought to be made, sweeping each spot with his hand, sprinkling water on it, and placing there lumps of food. Near the spot whore the vessel of water stands he presents three such oblations, saying, "Salutation to rain; to water; to the earth." At both doors of his house he makes offerings to D'hatri and Vid'hatri, or Brahma, the protector and creator. Towards the eight principal points of the compass he places offerings, severally adding salutation to them and to the regents of them. In the middle of the house he presents oblations, with salutation to Brahma, to the sky, and to the sun. Afterwards he offers similar oblations to all the Gods; to all beings; to twilight; and to the lord of all beings. He then shifts the sacrificial cord, and looking towards the south and dropping one knee, he presents an oblation to the manes of ancestors, saying, "Salutation to progenitors: may this ancestral food be acceptable." This ceremony is not constantly practised, though directed in some rituals; but the residue of the oblation to the Gods must be left on a clean spot of ground as an oblation to all beings, intended, however, for dogs and crows in particular. It is presented with the following prayer, which is taken from the Puranas: "May Gods, men, cattle, birds, demigods, benevolent genii, serpents, demons, departed spirits, bloodthirsty savages, trees and all who desire food given by me;" 2. "May reptiles, insects, flies, and all hungry beings, or spirits concerned in this rite, obtain contentment from this food left for them by me, and may they become happy;" 3. "May they, who have neither mother, nor father, nor kinsman, nor food, nor means of obtaining it, be satisfied with that which is offered by me on this spot for their contentment, and be cheerful." Or the following prayer may be used: "To animals who night and day roam in search of food offered to the spirits, he who desires nourishment, should give something: may the lord of nourishment grant it unto me."
He concludes by performing a lustration similar to that which has been already noticed, but much shorter. After thus completing the other sacraments, the householder should present food to his guests; that is, to any person who claims his hospitality. When he has thus allotted out of the food prepared for his own repast, one portion to the Gods, a second to progenitors, a third to all beings, and a fourth to his guests, he and his family may then, and not before, consume the remaining portion of the food. Whenever a spiritual preceptor, a devotee or an officiating priest, a bride- [p.121] groom, or a particular friend, comes as a guest, he is received with honours, which will he described among the nuptial ceremonies. In the entertainment of other guests no religious rites are performed, nor any prayers recited.
The householder is enjoined to give daily alms; hut no particular time is prescribed for the distribution of them; he is simply directed to give food to religious mendicants whenever they come to his door; but especially if they come at the times when food is ready for his own meal. On the authority of the Puranas, it is also a common practice to feed a cow before the householder breaks his own fast.36 He either presents grass, water, and corn to her with this text, "Daughter of Surabhi, framed of five elements, auspicious, pure, holy, sprung from the sun, accept this food given by me; salutation unto thee:" or else he conducts the kine to grass, saying, "May cows, who are mothers of the three worlds and daughters of Surabhi, and who are beneficent, pure, and holy, accept the food given by me.''
Some Brahmanas do still further abridge the compendious ceremony called Vaiswadeva. They offer perfumes and flowers to fire; and make five oblations, out of the food prepared for their own use, to Brahma, to the lord of created beings, to the household fire, to Casyapa, and to Anumati, dropping each oblation on fire, or on water, or on the ground, with the usual addition, "May this oblation be efficacious." They then make offerings to all beings, by placing a few lumps of food at the door, or on a quadrangular spot near the fire, with a salutation to D'hatri, &c., and they immediately proceed to their own repast.
Here too, as in every other matter relating to private morals, the Hindu legislators and the authors of the Puranas have heaped together a multitude of precepts, mostly trivial, and not unfrequently absurd. Some of them relate to diet; they prohibit many sorts of food altogether, and forbid the constant use of others: some regard the acceptance of food, which must on no account be re- [p.122] ceived if it be given with one hand, nor without a leaf or dish; some again prescribe the hour at which the two daily meals which are allowed, should be eaten (namely, in the forenoon and in the evening); others enumerate the places (a boat for example) where a Hindu must not eat, and specify the persons (his sons and the inmates of his house) with whom he should eat, and those (his wife for instance) with whom he should not. The lawgivers have been no less particular in directing the posture in which the Hindu must sit; the quarter towards which he ought to look, and the precautions he should take to insulate himself, as it were, during his meal, lest he be contaminated by the touch of some undetected sinner, who may be present. To explain even in a cursory manner the objects of all these, would be tedious; but the mode in which a Hindu takes his repast conformably with such injunctions as are most cogent, may be briefly stated, and with this I shall close the present essay.
After washing his hands and feet, and sipping water without swallowing it, he sits down on a stool or cushion (but not on a couch nor on a bed) before his plate, which must be placed on a clean spot of ground that has been wiped and smoothed in a quadrangular form, if he be a Brahmana: a triangular one, if he be a Cashatraja; circular, if he be a Vaisya; and in the shape of a crescent, if he belong to the fourth tribe. When the food is first brought in, he is required to bow to it, raising both hands in the form of humble salutation to his forehead; and he should add, "May this be always ours:" that is, may food never be deficient. When he has sitten down, he should lift the plate with his left hand and bless the food, saying, "Thou art invigorating. " He sets it down, naming the three worlds. Or if the food be handed to him, he says, "May heaven give thee," and then accepts it with these words, "The earth accepts thee." Before he begins eating, he must move his hand round the plate, to insulate it, or his own person rather, from the rest of the company. He next offers five lumps of food to Yama by five different titles; he sips and swallows water; he makes five oblations to breath by five distinct names, Prana, Vyana, Apana, Samana, and Udana; and lastly, he wets both eyes. He then eats his repast in silence, lifting the food with all the fingers of his right hand, and afterwards again sips water, saying, "Ambrosial fluid! thou art the couch of VISHNU and of food."
That Hindus belong to various sects is universally known; but
their characteristic differences are not perhaps so generally understood. Five great sects
exclusively worship a single deity; one recognises the five divinities which are
adored by the other sects respectively, but the followers of this comprehensive
scheme mostly select one object of daily devotion, and pay adoration to other
deities on particular occasions only. Even they deny the charge of polytheism,
and repel the imputation of idolatry; they justify the practice of adoring the
images of celestial spirits, by arguments similar to those which have been
elsewhere employed in defence of angel and image worship. If the doctrines of
the Veda, and even those of the Puranas, be closely examined, the Hindu theology
will be found consistent with monotheism, though it contain the seeds of
polytheism and idolatry. I shall take some future occasion of enlarging on this
topic: I have here only to remark, that modern Hindus seem to misunderstand the
numerous texts, which declare the unity of the godhead, and the identity of
Vishnu, Siva, the Sun, &c. Their theologists have entered into vain disputes
on the question, which among the attributes of God shall be deemed
characteristic and preeminent. Sancara a'cha'uya, the celebrated commentator on
the Veda, contended for the attributes of Siva, and founded or confirmed the
sect of 'Saivas, who worship Maha' Deva as the supreme being, and deny the
independent existence of Vishnu and other deities. Mad'hava a'cha'rya and
Vallabha a'cha'rya have in like manner established the sect of Vaishnavas,
who adore Vishnu as God. The Sauras (less numerous than the two sects
abovementioned) worship the Sun, and acknowledge no other divinity. The
Ganapatyas adore Ganesa, as uniting in his person all the attributes of the
Before I notice the fifth sect. I must remind the reader that the Hindu mythology has personified the abstract and active powers of the divinity, and has ascribed sexes to these mythological personages. The 'Sacti, or energy of an attribute of God, is female, and is fabled as the consort of that personified attribute. The 'Sacti of Siva, whose emblem is the phallus, is herself typified by the female organ. This the 'Sactas worship some figuratively, others literally.
Vopadeva, the real author of the 'Sri Bhagarata, has endeavoured to reconcile all the sects of Hindus by reviving the doctrines of Vya'sa. He recognises all the deities, but as subordinate to the supreme being, or rather as attributes or manifestations of God, A new sect has been thus formed, and is denominated from that modern Purana. But the numerous followers of it do not seem to have well apprehended the doctrines they profess: they incline much to real [p.124] polytheism, but do at least reject the derogatory notions of the divinity, which the other sects seem to have adopted.
The Vaishnavas, though nominally worshippers of Vishnu, are in fact votaries of deified heroes. The Goculashas (one branch of this sect) adore Crishna, while the Ramanuj worship Kamachandra. Both have again branched into three sects. One consists of the exclusive worshippers of Crishna, and these only are deemed true and orthodox Vaishnavas; another joins his favourite Rad'ha with the hero. A third, called Radhaballabhi, adores Rad'ha only, considering her as the active power of Vishnu. The followers of these last-mentioned sects have adopted the singular practice of presenting to their own wives the oblations intended for the goddess; and those among them who follow the left-handed path (there is in most sects a right-handed or decent path, and a left-handed or indecent mode of worship), require their wives to be naked when attending them at their devotions.
Among the Ramanuj, some worship Rama only, others Sita; and others both Rama and Sita. None of them practise any indecent mode of worship; and they all, like the Goculashas, as well as the followers of the Bhagavata, delineate on their foreheads a double upright line with chalk or with sandal wood, and a red circlet with red sanders, or with turmeric and lime; but the Ramanuj add an upright red line in the middle of the double white one.
The 'Saivas are all worshippers of Siva and Bhava'ni conjointly, and they adore the linga or compound type of this god and goddess, as the Vaishnavas do the image of Lacshmi-Narayana. There are no exclusive worshippers of Siva besides the sect of naked gymnosophists called Lingis, and the exclusive adorers of the goddess are the 'Sactas. In this last-mentioned sect, as in most others, there is a right-handed and decent path, and a left-handed and indecent mode of worship: but the indecent worship of this sect is most grossly so, and consists of unbridled debauchery with wine and women. This profligate sect is supposed to be numerous though unavowed.37 In most parts of India, if not in all, they are held in deserved detestation; and even the decent 'Sactas do not make public profession of their tenets, nor wear on their foreheads the mark of the sect, lest they should be suspected of belonging to the other branch of it. The sacrifice of cattle before idols is peculiar to this sect.
The 'Saivas and 'Sactas delineate on their foreheads three horizontal lines with ashes obtained, if possible, from the hearth on which a consecrated fire is perpetually maintained; they add a red circlet, which the 'Saivas make with red sanders, and which the 'Sactas, when they avow themselves, mark either with saffron or with turmeric and borax. [p.125] The Sauras are true worshippers of the sun; some of them, it seems, adore the dormant and active energies of the planet conjointly. This sect, which is not very numerous, is distinguished by the use of red sanders for the horizontal triple line, as well as for the circlet on their foreheads.
The Ganapalyas have branched into two sects; the one worships S'udd'hagan'apati, the other Uchch'hista Ganapati. The followers of the latter sect pronounce their prayers with their mouths full of victuals (whence the denomination of the deity worshipped by them). The Ganapalyas are distinguished by the use of red minium for the circlet on their foreheads. The family of Brahmanas, residing at Chinchwev near Puna, and enjoying the privilege of an hereditary incarnation of Ganesa from father to son, probably belongs to this sect. We may hope for more information on this curious instance of priestcraft and credulity, from the inquiries made on the spot by the gentlemen of the embassy from Bombay, who lately visited that place.
Before I conclude this note (concerning which it should be remarked, that the information here collected rests chiefly on the authority of verbal communications), I must add, that the left-handed path or indecent worship of the several sects, especially that of the 'Sactas, is founded on the Tantras which are, for this reason, held in disesteem. I was misinformed when I described them as constituting a branch of literature highly esteemed though much neglected. (As. Res. vol. v. p. 34.) The reverse would have been more exact.
This prayer, when used upon other occasions, is thus varied, "Salutation unto
you, fathers, and unto the saddening season," &c. The six seasons, in the
order in which they are here named, are the hot, dewy, rains, flowery,
frosty, and sultry seasons. One is indicated in this passage by the name of the
month with which it begins; and a text of the Veda, alluded to by the late Sir
Jones, in his observations on the lunar year of the Hindus (As. Res. vol. iii,
p. 258), specifies Tapas and Tapasya, the lunar (not the solar) Magha and
Phalguna, as corresponding with 'Sisira: that
is, with the dewy season. The text in question shall be subjoined to this note,
because it may serve to prove that the Veda from which it is extracted (Apastamba's
copy of the Yajurveda usually
denominated the black Yajush), cannot be much older than the observation of the
colures recorded by Tara'sara (see As. Res. vol. ii, p. 268, and 313), which
must have been made nearly 1391 years before the Christian era (As. Res. vol. v,
p. 288). According to the Veda, the lunar Madhu and Madhava, or
Vaisac'ha, correspond with Vasaula or the spring. Now the lunar Chaitra here
meant, is the primary lunar month, beginning from the conjunction which precedes
full moon in or near Chitra, and ending with the conjunction which follows it.
Vaisacha does in like manner extend from the conjunction which precedes full
moon in or near Visacha to that which follows it. The five nacshatras,
Chitra, Swati, Visacha and Anuradha, comprise all the asterisms in which the
full moons of Chaitra and Vaisacha can happen; and these lunar months may
therefore fluctuate between the first degree of Uttara Phalaguni and the last
of Jyeshtha. Consequently the season of Vasanta might begin at
soonest when the sun was in the middle of Purva Bhadrapada, or it might end at latest when the
sun was in the middle of Mrigasiras. It appears, then, that the limits of
Vasanta are Pisces and Taurus; that is Mina and Vrisha. (This corresponds with
a text which I shall forthwith quote from a very ancient Hindu author.) Now if
the place of the equinox did then correspond with the position assigned by
Para'sara to the colures, Vasanta might end at the soonest seven or eight days
after the equinox, or at latest thirty-eight or thirty-nine days; and on a
medium (that is when the full moon happened in the middle of Chitra), twenty-two or twenty-three days after the vernal equinox. This agrees exactly
the real course of the seasons; for the rains do generally begin a week before
the summer solstice, but their commencement does vary, in different years, about
a fortnight on either side of that period. It seems therefore a probable
inference, that such was the position of the equinox when the calendar of
months and seasons was adjusted as described in this passage of the Veda. Hence
I infer the pro- [p.127] bability, that the Vedas were not
arranged in their present form
earlier than the fourteenth century before the Christian era. This, it must
he acknowledged, is vague and conjectural: but, if the Vedas were
compiled in India so early as the commencement of the astronomical Cali yuga, the seasons must have then corresponded with other months; and
the passage of the Veda, which shall be forthwith cited, must have disagreed
with the natural course of the seasons at the very time it was written.
I shall now quote the passage so often alluded to in this note. "Madhus cha Madhavas cha rasanlicar ritu: 'Sucra cha 'Suras cha graishnav ritu; Nabhas cha Nahasyas cha varshicay ritu: Ishas chojas cha saradar ritu: Sahas cha Sahasyas cha haimanhcay ritu: Tapas cha Tapasyas cha naisiray ritu." Madhu and Madhava are the two portions of the season Vasaulu (or the spring); 'Surra and 'Suchi, of grishma (or the hot season); Nabhas and Nabhasya, of vaisha (or the rainy season); Ijas and Ujas, of sarada (or the sultry season); and Sahas and Sahasya of hemanta (or the frosty season); and Tapas and Tapasya, of sisira (or the dewy season).
All authors agree that Madhu signifies the month of Chaitra: Madhava the month of Vaisacha, and so forth. These names are so explained in dictionaries and by astronomical writers, as well as by the commentators on this and other passages, where these names of the months are employed. The author now before me (Diva'cara Bhatt'a) expressly says, that this text of the Veda relates to the order of the seasons according to the lunar months. He proves it by quoting a text of the Taitiriya Yajurveda, and afterwards cites the following passage from Baudha'yana respecting the seasons measured by solar-sidereal time, "Mina-Meshayar Mesha-Vrishahhayar va vasanta,'' &c. "Vasanta corresponds with Mina and Mesha, or with Mi'sha and Mesha,'' &c. It should be observed, that the secondary lunar month, which begins and ends with full-moon, cannot be here meant; because this mode of reckoning has never been universal, and the use of it is limited to countries situated to the northward of the Vind'hya range of hills, as I learn from the following passage of the Tricanda mandana: "The lunar month also is of two sorts, commencing either with the light fortnight or with the dark one. Some do not admit the month which begins with the dark fortnight; and oven by them who do, it is not admitted on the south of the Vind'hya mountains.''
[From the Asiatic Researches, vol. vii. p. 288-311. Calcutta, 1801. 4to.]
Hospitality has been already mentioned in the preceding Essay, as one of the five great sacraments which constitute the daily duty of a Hindu. The formal reception of such guests as are entitled to peculiar honour was reserved for the subject of the present tract. The religious rites, intermixed with acts of courtesy, which are practised by way of formal hospitality, are nearly the same, whether it be high rank, a venerable profession, or cordial friendship, which entitles the guest to be welcomed with distinction. They chiefly consist in presenting to him a stool to sit on, water for ablutions, and honey mixed with other food for refreshment. It seems to have been anciently the custom to slay a cow on this occasion; and a guest was therefore called goghna, or cow-killer. Imperfect traces of this custom remain in the hospitable ceremonies which I shall now describe from the ritual of Brahmanas who use the Samaveda. As the marriage ceremony opens with the solemn reception of the bridegroom by the father of the bride, this part of the nuptial solemnity may be fitly chosen as an example of hospitable rites. It will furnish occasion too, for proceeding to describe the whole of the marriage ceremony.
Having previously performed the obsequies of ancestors, as is usual upon any accession of good fortune, the father of the bride sits down to await the bridegroom's arrival, in the apartment prepared for the purpose; and at the time chosen for it, according to the rules of astrology. The jewels and other presents intended for him are placed there; a cow is tied on the northern side of the apartment; and a stool or cushion, and other furniture for the reception of the guest, are arranged in order. On his approach, the bride's father rises to welcome him, and recites the following prayer, [p.129] while the bridegroom stands before him: "May she [who supplies oblations for] religious worship, who constantly follows her calf, and who was the milch cow when Yama was [the votary], abound with milk, and fulfil our wishes, year after year.''
This prayer is seemingly intended for the consecration of the cow, which is let loose in a subsequent stage of the ceremony, instead of slaying her, as appears to have been anciently the custom. The commentator, whose gloss has been followed in this version of the text, introduces it by the remark, that a guest entitled to honourable reception is a spiritual preceptor, a priest, an ascetic, a prince, a bridegroom, a friend, or in short any one, to welcome whose arrival a cow must be tied for the purpose of slaying her, whence a guest is denominated goghna, or cow-killer. The prayer seems to contain an allusion, which I cannot better explain than by quoting a passage from Calidasa's poem entitled Raghuwansa, where Vasisht'ha informs the king Dilipa that the cow Sukabui, who was offended by his neglect, cannot be now appeased by courtesy shown to herself, because she remains in a place inaccessible to him: "Prachetas is performing a tedious sacrifice; to supply the oblations of which, Sukabui now abides in the infernal region, whose gates are guarded by huge serpents."
After the prayer above-mentioned has been meditated, the bride-groom sits down on a stool or cushion, which is presented to him. He first recites a text of the Yajurveda: "I step on this for the sake of food and other benefits, on this variously splendid footstool." The bride's father presents to him a cushion made of twenty leaves of cusa grass, holding it up with both hands, and exclaiming, "The cushion! the cushion! the cushion!" The bridegroom replies, "I accept the cushion,'' and, taking it, places it on the ground under his feet, while he recites the following prayer: "May those plants over which Soma presides, and which are variously dispersed on the earth, incessantly grant me happiness while this cushion is placed under my feet." Another is presented to him, which he accepts in the same manner, saying, "May those numerous plants over which Soma presides, and which are salutary a hundred different ways, incessantly grant me happiness while I sit on this cushion." Instead of these prayers, which are peculiar to the Brahmanas that use the Samaveda, the following text is commonly recited: "I obscure my rivals, as the sun does other luminaries; 1 tread on this, as the type of him who injures me."
The bride's father next offers a vessel of water, thrice exclaiming, "Water for ablutions." The bridegroom declares his acceptance of it, and looks into the vessel, saying, "Generous water! I view thee; return in the form of fertilizing rain from him, from whom thou dost proceed:" that is, from the sun; for it is acknowledged, says the commentator, that rain proceeds from vapours raised by the [p.130] heat of the sun. The bridegroom takes up water in the palms of both hands joined together, and throws it on his left foot, saying, "I wash my left foot, and fix prosperity in this realm:'' he also throws water on his other foot, saying, "I wash my right foot, and introduce prosperity into this realm:" and he then throws water on both feet, saying, "I wash first one and then the other, and lastly both feet, that the realm may thrive and intrepidity be gained." The following is the text of the Yajush, which is generally used instead of the preceding prayers: "Thou dost afford various elegance; I accept thee, who dost so: afford it for the ablution of my feet."
An arghya (that is, water, rice, and durva grass, in a conch, or in a vessel shaped like one, or rather like a boat) is next presented to the bridegroom in a similar manner, and accepted by him with equal formality. He pours the water on his own head, saying, "Thou art the splendour of food; through thee may I become glorious." This prayer is taken from the Yajush: but the followers of that Veda use different texts, accepting the arghya with this prayer, "Ye are waters (ap); through you may I obtain (ap) all my wishes:" and pouring out the water with this text, "I dismiss you to the ocean: return to your source, harmless unto me, most excellent waters! but my beverage is not poured forth."
A vessel of water is then offered by the bride's father, who thrice exclaims, ''Take water to be sipped:" the bridegroom accepts it, saying, "Thou art glorious, grant me glory;" or else, "Conduct me to glory, endue me with splendour, render me dear to all people, make me owner of cattle, and preserve me unhurt in all my limbs."
The bride's father fills a vessel with honey, curds, and clarified butter; he covers it with another vessel, and presents it to the bride-groom, exclaiming three times, "Take the madhuparca." The bridegroom accepts it, places it on the ground, and looks into it, saying, "Thou art glorious; may I become so." He tastes the food three times, saying, "Thou art the sustenance of the glorious; thou art the nourishment of the splendid: thou art the food of the fortunate; grant me prosperity." He then silently eats until he be satisfied.
Although these texts be taken from the Yajush, yet other prayers from the same Veda are used by the sects which follow it. While looking into the vessel, the bridegroom says, "I view thee with the eye of the sun [who draws unto himself what he contemplates]." On accepting the madhuparca the bridegroom says, "I take thee with the assent of the generous sun; with the arms of both sons of Aswini: with the hands of the cherishing luminary." He mixes it, saying, "May I mix thee, venerable present! and remove whatever might be hurtful in the eating of thee." He tastes it three times, saying, "May I eat that sweet, host, and nourishing form of honey; which is the sweet, best, and nourishing form of honey; and may I thus become excellent, sweet-tempered, and well nourished [p.131] by food." After eating until he be satisfied, and after sipping water, be touches his mouth and other parts of his body with his hand, saying, "May there be speech in my mouth, breath in my nostrils, sight in my eyeballs, hearing in my ears, strength in my arms, firmness in my thighs; may my limbs and members remain unhurt together with my soul."
Presents suitable to the rank of the parties are then presented to the guest. At the marriage ceremony, too, the bride is formally given by her father to the bridegroom, in this stage of the solemnity according to some rituals, but later according to others. The hospitable rites are then concluded by letting loose the cow at the intercession of the guest. A barber who attends for that purpose, exclaims, "The cow! the cow!" Upon which the guest pronounces this text: "Release the cow from the fetters of Varuna. May she subdue my foe: may she destroy the enemies of both him (the host) [and me]. Dismiss the cow, that she may eat grass and drink water." When the cow has been released the guest thus addresses her: "I have earnestly entreated this prudent person [or, according to another interpretation of the text each docile person], saying, kill not the innocent harmless cow, who is mother of Rudras, daughter of Vasus, sister of Adityas, and the source of ambrosia." In the Yajurveda the following prayer is added to this text: "May she expiate my sins and his (naming the host). Release her that she may graze." It is evident that the guest's intercessions imply a practice, become obsolete, of slaying a cow for the purpose of hospitality.
While the bridegroom is welcomed with these ceremonies, or more properly before his arrival, the bride bathes during the recital of the following texts. Three vessels of water are severally poured on her head, with three different prayers. 1. "Love! I know thy name. Thou art called an intoxicating beverage. Bring [the bride-groom] happily. For thee was framed the inebriating draught. Fire! thy best origin is here. Through devotion wert thou created. May this oblation be efficacious." 2. "Damsel! I anoint this thy generative organ with honey, because it is the second mouth of the Creator: by that thou subduest all males, though unsubdued; by that thou art lively, and dost hold dominion. May this oblation be efficacious." 3. "May the primeval ruling sages, who framed the female organ, as a fire that consumeth flesh, and thereby framed a procreating juice, grant the prolific power, that proceeds from the three-horned bull and from the sun. May this oblation be efficacious." To elucidate the first of these texts the commentator cites the following passage: "The sage Vasisht'ha, the regent of the moon, the ruler of heaven, the preceptor of the Gods, and the great forefather of all beings, however old in the practice of devotion and old by the progress of age, were divided by women. Liquors distilled [p.132] from sugar, from grain, and from the blossoms of Bassia, are three sorts of intoxicating drinks: the fourth is woman, by whom this world is deluded. One who contemplates a beautiful woman becomes intoxicated, and so does he who quaffs an inebriating beverage: woman is called an inebriating draught, because she intoxicates by her looks." To explain the second text, the same author quotes a passage of the Veda, intimating that Brahma has two mouths; one containing all holiness, the other allotted for the production of all beings: 'for they are created from his mouth.'
After the bridegroom has tasted the Madhuparca presented to him, as above-mentioned, the bride's right hand is placed on his, both having been previously rubbed with turmeric or some other auspicious drug. A matron must bind both hands with cusa grass amidst the sound of cheerful music. To this part of the ceremony the author of the poem entitled Naishadldija has very prettily alluded, in describing the marriage of Nalandoamayanti (b. xvi. v. 13 & 14.) 'As he tasted the Madhuparca, which was presented to him, those spectators who had foresight reflected, "He has begun the ceremonies of an auspicious day, because he will quaff the honey of Brahma's lip. The bridegroom's hand exults in the slaughter of foes; the bride's hand has purloined its beauty from the lotos; it is for that reason probably that, in this well-governed realm of Viderbha, both [guilty] hands are fast bound with strong cusa.'"
The bride's father, bidding the attendant priests begin their acclamations, such as "happy day! auspicious be it! prosperity attend! blessings!" &c., takes a vessel of water containing lila and cusa grass, and pours it on the hands of the bride and bridegroom, after uttering the words, "Om! tat! sat! God the existent!" and after repeating at full length the names and designations of the bridegroom, of the bride, and of himself; and then solemnly declaring, "I give unto thee this damsel adorned with jewels and protected by the lord of creatures." The bridegroom replies, "Well be it!" The bride's father afterwards gives him a piece of gold , saying, "I this day give thee this gold, as a fee for the purpose of completing the solemn donation made by me." The bridegroom again says, "Well be it!" and then recites this text: "Who gave her? to whom did he give her? Love (or free consent) gave her. To love he gave her. Love was the giver. Love was the taker. Love! may this be thine! With love may I enjoy her.'" The close of the text is thus varied in the Samaveda: "Love has pervaded the ocean. With love I accept her. Love! may this be thine." In the common rituals another prayer is directed to be likewise recited immediately [p.133] after thus formally accepting the bride: "May the ethereal element give thee. May earth accept thee."
Being thus affianced, the bride and bridegroom then walk forth, while he thus addresses her: "May the regents of space, may air, the sun, and fire, dispel that anxiety which thou feelest in thy mind, and turn thy heart to me." He proceeds thus, while they look at each other: "Be gentle in thy aspect and loyal to thy husband; be fortunate in cattle, amiable in thy mind, and beautiful in thy person; be mother of valiant sons; be fond of delights; be cheerful, and bring prosperity to our bipeds and quadrupeds. First [in a former birth] Soma received thee; the sun next obtained thee; [in successive transmigrations] the regent of fire was thy third husband; thy fourth is a human being, Soma gave her to the sun; the sun gave her to the regent of fire; fire gave her to me; with her he has given me wealth and male offspring. May she, a most auspicious cause of prosperity, never desert me," &c.38
It should seem that, according to these rituals, the bridegroom gives a waistcloth and mantle to the bride before he is affianced to her; and the ceremony of tying the skirts of their mantles precedes that of her father's solemnly bestowing her on the bridegroom. But the ritual of the Samavedi priests makes the gift of the damsel precede the tying of the knot; and, inconsistently enough, directs the mantles to be tied before the bridegroom has clothed the bride. After the donation has been accepted as abovementioned, the bride's father should tie a knot in the bridegroom's mantle over the presents given with the bride, while the affianced pair are looking at each other. The cow is then released in this manner before described; a libation of water is made; and the bride's father meditates the Gayatri, and ties a knot with the skirts of the bride's and bridegroom's mantles, after saying, "Ye must be inseparably united in matters of duty, wealth, and love." The bridegroom afterwards clothes the bride with the following ceremonies.
He goes to the principal apartment of the house, prepares a sacrificial lire in the usual mode, and hallows the implements of sacrifice. A friend of the bridegroom walks round the fire, bearing a jar of water, and stops on the south side of it: another does the same, and places himself on the right hand of the first. The bridegroom then casts four double handfuls of rice, mixed with leaves of sami into a flat basket: near it he places a stone and mullar, after formally touching them, and then entering the house, he causes the bride to be clothed with a new waistcloth and scarf, while he recites the [p.134] subjoined prayers: "May those generous women who spun and wound the thread, and who wove the warp and weft of this cloth, generously clothe thee to old age: long-lived woman! put on this raiment." "Clothe her: invest her with apparel: prolong her life to great age. Mayest thou live a hundred years. As long as thou livest, amiable woman! revere [that is, carefully preserve] beauty and wealth." The first of these prayers is nearly the same with that which is used by the followers of the Yajush, when the scarf is put on the bride's shoulder. It is preceded by a different one, which is recited while the waistcloth is wrapped round her: "Mayest thou reach old age. Put on this raiment. Be lovely: be chaste. Live a hundred years. Invite [that is, preserve and obtain] beauty, wealth, and male offspring. Damsel! put on this apparel." Afterwards the following prayer is recited: "May the assembled gods unite our hearts. May the waters unite them. May air unite us. May the creator unite us. May the god of love unite us."
But, according to the followers of the Samaveda, the bridegroom, immediately after the scarf has been placed on the bride's shoulder, conducts her towards the sacrificial fire, saying, "Soma [the regent of the moon] gave her to the sun:39 the sun gave her to the regent of fire: fire has given her to me, and with her, wealth and male offspring." The bride then goes to the western side of the fire and recites the following prayer, while she steps on a mat made of Virana grass40 and covered with silk: "May our lord assign me the path by which I may reach the abode of my lord." She sits down on the edge of the mat; and the bridegroom offers six oblations of clarified butter, reciting the following prayers, while the bride touches his shoulder with her right hand. 1. "May fire come, first among the gods; may it rescue her offspring from the fetters of death; may Varuna, king [of waters], grant that this woman should never bemoan a calamity befalling her children." 2. "May the domestic perpetual fire guard her; may it render her progeny long-lived; may she never be widowed; may she be mother of surviving children; may she experience the joy of having male offspring." 3. "May heaven protect thy back; may air, and the two sons of Aswini, protect thy thighs; may the sun protect thy children while sucking thy breast; and Vrihaspati protect them until they wear clothes; and afterwards may the assembled gods protect them." 4. "May no lamentation arise at night in thy abode; may crying women enter other houses than thine; mayest thou never admit sorrow to thy breast; mayest thou prosper in thy husband's house, blest with his survival, and viewing cheerful children." 5. "I lift [p.135] barrenness, the death of children, sin, and every other evil, as I would lift a chaplet off thy head; and I consign the fetters [of premature death] to thy foes." 6. "May death depart from me, and immortality come; may [Yama] the child of the sun, render me fearless. Death! follow a different path from that by which we proceed, and from that which the gods travel. To thee who seest and who hearest, I call, saying, hurt not our offspring, nor our progenitors. And may this oblation be efficacious." The bridegroom then presents oblations, naming the three worlds, separately and conjointly, and others either four or five oblations to fire and to the moon. The bride and bridegroom then rise up, and he passes from her left side to her right, and makes her join her hands in a hollow form.
The rice,41 which had been put into a basket, is then taken up, and the stone is placed before the bride, who treads upon it with the point of her right foot, while the bridegroom recites this prayer: "Ascend this stone; be firm like this stone; distress my foe, and be not subservient to my enemies." The bridegroom then pours a ladleful of clarified butter on her hands; another person gives her the rice, and two other ladlefuls of butter are poured over it. She then separates her hands, and lets fall the rice on the fire, while the following text is recited: "This woman, casting the rice into the fire, says, "May my lord be long lived, may we live a hundred years, and may all my kinsmen prosper: be this oblation efficacious.'' Afterwards the bridegroom walks round the fire, preceded by the bride, and reciting this text: "The girl goes from her parents to her husband's abode, having strictly observed abstinence [for three days from factitious salt, &c.] Damsel! by means of thee we repress foes, like a stream of water." The bride again treads on the stone and makes another oblation of rice, while the subjoined prayer is recited: "The damsel has worshipped the generous sun and the regent of fire; may he and the generous sun liberate her and me from this [family]; be this oblation efficacious." They afterwards walk round the fire as before. Four or five other oblations are made with the same ceremonies and prayers, varying only the title of the sun who is here called Pushan, but was entitled Aryaman in the preceding prayer. The bridegroom then pours rice out of the basket into the fire, after pouring one or two ladlefuls of butter on the edge of the basket; with this offering he simply says, ''May this oblation to fire be efficacious."
The oblations and prayers directed by the Yajurveda, previous to this period of the solemnity, are very different from those which [p.136] have been here inserted from the Samaveda: and some of the ceremonies, which will be subsequently noticed, are anticipated by the priests, who follow the Yajush.
Twelve oblations are made with as many prayers, l. "May this oblation be efficacious, and happily convoyed to that being who is fire in the form of a celestial quirister, who is accompanied by truth, and whose abode is truth; may he cherish our holy knowledge and our valour." 2. "Efficacious be this oblation to those delightful plants, which are the nymphs of that being who is fire in the form of a celestial quirister, who is accompanied by truth, and whose abode is truth." 3. and 4. The foregoing prayers are thus varied: "To that being who is the sun, in the form of a celestial quirister, and who consists wholly of the Samaveda."' "Those enlivening rays, which are the nymphs of that sun." 5. and 6. "That being who is the moon in the form of a celestial quirister, and who is a ray of the sun, and named Sushmana." "Those asterisms which are the nymphs of the moon, and are called Bhecuri.''42 7. and 8. "That being who is air, constantly moving and travelling every where." "Those waters which are the nymphs of air, and are termed invigorating." 9. and 10. "That being who is the solemn sacrifice in the form of a celestial quirister; who cherishes all beings, and whose pace is elegant." "Those sacrificial fees, which are the nymphs of the solemn sacrifice, and are named thanksgivings." 11. and 12. "That being who is mind in the form of a celestial quirister, who is the supreme ruler of creatures, and who is the fabricator of the universe." "Those holy strains (Rich and Saman) who are the nymphs of mind, and are named the means of attaining wishes."
Thirteen oblations are next presented, during the recital of as many portions of a single text. "May the supreme ruler of creatures, who is glorious in his victories over [hostile] armies, grant victory to Indra, the regent of rain. All creatures humbly bow to him; for he is terrible: to him are oblations due. May he grant me victory, knowledge, reflection, regard, self-rule, skill, understanding, power, [returns of] the conjunction and opposition of the sun and moon, and holy texts (Vrihat and Rathantara).''43
Eighteen oblations are then offered, while as many texts are meditated; they differ only in the name of the deity that is invoked. 1. "May fire, lord of [living] beings, protect me in respect of holiness, valour, and prayer, and in regard to ancient privileges, to this solemn rite, and to this invocation of deities." 2. "May Indra, lord or regent of the eldest (that is, of the best of beings) protect [p.137] me," &c. 3. "Yama, lord of the earth." 4. "Air, lord of the sky." 5. "The sun, lord of heaven." 6. "The moon, lord of stars." 7. "Vrihaspati, lord [that is, preceptor] of Brahma [and other deities]." 8. "Mitra (the sun), lord of true beings." 9. "Varuna, lord of waters." 10. "The ocean, lord of rivers." 11. "Food, lord of tributary powers." 12. "Soma (the moon), lord of plants.'' 13. "Savitri (the generative sun), lord of pregnant females." 14. "Rudra (Siva), lord of [deities, that bear the shape of] cattle." 15. "The fabricator of the universe, lord of forms. " 16. "Vishnu, lord of mountains." 17. "Winds (maruts), lords of (ganas) sets of divinities." 18. "Fathers, grandfathers, remoter ancestors, more distant progenitors, their parents, and grandsires."
Oblations are afterwards made, with prayers corresponding to those which have been already cited from the Samaveda. I. "May fire come, first among the gods, " &c. 2. "May the domestic perpetual fire guard her," &c. 3. "Fire, who dost protect such as perform sacrifices! grant us all blessings in heaven and on earth: grant unto us that various and excellent wealth, which is produced on this earth and in heaven." 4. "O best of luminaries! Come, show us an easy path, that our lives may be uninjured. May death depart from me, and immortality come. May the child of the sun render me fearless." 5. "Death! follow a different path," &c.
The bride offers the oblations of rice mixed with leaves of s'ami letting fall the offerings on the fire in the manner beforementioned, and with the same prayers, but recited in a reversed order and a little varied. 1. "The damsel has worshipped the generous sun in the form of fire; may that generous sun never separate her from this husband." 2. "This woman, casting the rice into the fire, says, May my lord be long-lived: may my kinsmen reach old age." 3. "I cast this rice into the fire, that it may become a cause of thy prosperity: may fire assent to my union with thee."44
According to the followers of the Yajurveda, the bridegroom now takes the bride's right hand, reciting a text which will be subsequently quoted. The bride then steps on a stone while this text is recited: "Ascend this stone: be firm like this stone. Subdue such as entertain hostile designs against me, and repel them." The following hymn is then chanted. "Charming Saraswati, swift as a mare! whom I celebrate in face of this universe, protect this [solemn rite]. O thou! in whom the elements were produced, in whom this universe was framed, I now will sing that hymn [the nuptial text] which constitutes the highest glory of women." The bride and bridegroom afterwards walk round the fire, while the following text [p.138] is recited: "Fire! thou didst first espouse this female sun (this woman beautiful like the sun); now let a human being again espouse her by thy means. Give her, fire! with offspring, to a human] husband." The remainder of the rice is then dropped into the fire as an oblation to the god of love.
The next ceremony is the bride's stepping seven steps. It is the most material of all the nuptial rites; for the marriage is complete and irrevocable, so soon as she has taken the seventh step, and not sooner. She is conducted by the bridegroom, and directed by him to step successively into seven circles, while the following texts are uttered: 1. "May Vishnu cause thee to take one step for the sake of obtaining food." 2. "May Vishnu cause thee to take one step for the sake of obtaining strength.'' 3. "Three steps for the sake of solemn acts of religion." 4. "Four steps for the sake of obtaining happiness." 5. "Five steps for the sake of cattle." 6. "Six stops for the sake of increase of wealth." 7. "Seven steps for the sake of obtaining priests to perform sacrifices."45 The bridegroom then addresses the bride, "Having completed, seven steps, be my companion. May I become thy associate. May none interrupt thy association with me. May such as are disposed to promote our happiness, confirm thy association with me." The bridegroom then addresses the spectators: "This woman is auspicious: approach and view her; and having conferred [by your good wishes] auspicious fortune on her, depart to your respective abodes."
Then the bridegroom's friend, who stood near the fire bearing a jar of water, advances to the spot where the seventh step was completed, and pours water on the bridegrooms head, and afterwards on the bride's, while a prayer abovementioned is recited: "May waters and all the Gods cleanse our hearts; may air do so; may the creator do so; may the divine instructress unite our hearts."46
The bridegroom then puts his left hand under the bride's hands, which are joined together in a hollow form, and taking her right hand in his, recites the six following texts: 1. "I take thy hand for the sake of good fortune, that thou mayest become old with me, thy husband: may the generous, mighty, and prolific sun render thee a matron, that [may be a householder.'' 2. "Be gentle in thy aspect and loyal to thy husband; be fortunate in cattle, amiable in thy mind, and beautiful in thy person; be mother of surviving sons; be assiduous at the [five] sacraments; be cheerful; and bring prosperity to our bipeds and quadrupeds.'' 3. "May the lord of creatures grant us progeny, even unto old age; may the sun render that progeny conspicuous. Auspicious deities have given thee to me: enter [p.139] thy husband's abode, and bring health to our bipeds and quadrupeds.'' 4. "O Indra, who pourest forth rain! render this woman fortunate and the mother of children: grant her ten sons; give her eleven protectors." 5. "Be submissive to thy husband's father, to his mother, to his sister, and to his brothers.'' 6. "Give thy heart to my religious duties: may thy mind follow mine; be thou consentient to my speech. May Vrihaspati unite thee unto me."
The followers of the Yajurveda enlarge the first prayer and omit the rest, some of which, however, they employ at other periods of the solemnity. "I take thy hand for the sake of good fortune, that thou mayest become old with me, thy husband; may the deities, namely, the divine sun (Aryanum), and the prolific being (Savatri), and the god of love, give thee as a matron unto me, that I may be a householder. I need the goddess of prosperity. Thou art she. Thou art the goddess of prosperity. I need her. I am the Saman [veda]: thou art the Rich [veda]. I am the sky: thou art the earth. Come; let us marry: let us hold conjugal intercourse: let us procreate offspring: lot us obtain sons. May they reach old age. May we, being affectionate, glorious, and well disposed, see during a hundred years, live a hundred years, and hear a hundred years."
According to the ritual, which conforms to the Samaveda, the bridegroom sits down near the fire with the bride, and finishes this part of the ceremony by making oblations, while he names the three worlds severally and conjointly. The taking of the bride's hand in marriage is thus completed. In the evening of the same day, so soon as the stars appear, the bride sits down on a bull's hide, which must be of a red colour, and must be placed with the neck towards the east and the hair upwards. The bridegroom sits down near her, makes oblations while he names the three worlds as usual, and then makes six oblations with the following prayers, and each time pours the remainder of the clarified butter on the bride's head. 1. "I obviate by this full oblation all ill marks in the lines [of thy hands], in thy eye-lashes, and in the spots [on thy body]." 2. "I obviate by this full oblation all the ill marks in thy hair; and whatever is sinful in thy looking, or in thy crying." 3. "I obviate by this full oblation all that may be sinful in thy temper, in thy speaking, and in thy laughing." 4. "I obviate by this full oblation all the ill marks in thy teeth, and in the dark intervals between them; in thy hands, and in thy feet." 5. "I obviate by this full oblation all the ill marks on thy thighs, on thy privy part, on thy haunches, and on the lineaments of thy figure. " 6. "Whatever natural or accidental evil marks wore on all thy hands. I have obviated all such marks by these full oblations of clarified butter. May this oblation be efficacious."
The bride and bridegroom rise up; and he shows her the polar star, reciting the following text: "Heaven is stable; the earth is [p.140] stable; this universe is stable; these mountains are stable; may this woman be stable in her husband's family."47 The bride salutes the bridegroom, naming herself and family, and adding a respectful interjection. The bridegroom replies, "He long-lived and happy." Matrons then pour water, mixed with leaves, upon the bride and bridegroom, out of jars which had been previously placed on an altar prepared for the purpose; and the bridegroom again makes oblations with the names of the worlds, by way of closing this part of the ceremony.
The bridegroom afterwards eats food prepared without factitious salt. During this meal he recites the following prayers: 1. "I bind with the fetters of food thy heart and mind to the gem [of my soul]; I bind them with nourishment, which is the thread of life; I bind them with the knot of truth." 2. "May that heart, which is yours, become my heart; and this heart, which is mine, become thy heart." 3. "Since food is the bond of life, I bind thee therewith." The remainder of the food must be then given to the bride.
During the three subsequent days the married couple must abstain from factitious salt, live chastely and austerely, and sleep on the ground. On the following day, that is, on the fourth exclusively,48 the bridegroom conducts the bride to his own house on a carriage or other suitable conveyance. He recites the following text when she ascends the carriage: "O wife of the sun! ascend this vehicle resembling the beautiful blossoms of the cotton-tree and butea, tinged with various tints and coloured like gold, well constructed, furnished with good wheels, and the source of ambrosia [that is, of blessings]: bring happiness to thy husband." Proceeding with his bride, he, or some other person for him, recites the following text on their coming to a cross road: "May robbers, who infest the road remain ignorant [of this journey]; may the married couple reach a place of security and difficult access, by easy roads; and may foes keep aloof."
Alighting from the carriage, the bridegroom leads the bride into the house, chanting the hymn called Vamadevya. Matrons welcome the bride, and make her sit down on a bull's hide of the same colour, and placed in the same manner as before. The bridegroom then recites the following prayer: "May kine here produce numerous [p.141] young; many horses and human beings do so; and may the deity sit here, by whose favour sacrifices are accomplished with gifts a thousand told."
The women then place a young child in the bride's lap; they put roots of lotos, or else fruit of different kinds, in his hand. The bridegroom takes up the child, and then prepares a sacrificial fire in the usual manner, and makes eight oblations with the following prayers, preceded and followed by the usual oblations to the three worlds. 1. "May there be cheerfulness here." 2. "May thine own [kindred] be kind here." 3. "May there be pleasure here." 4. "Sport thou here." 5. "May there be kindness here with me." 6. "May thine own [kindred] be here, benevolent towards me.'' 7. "May there be here delight towards me." 8. "Be thou here joyous towards me." The bride then salutes her father-in-law and the other relatives of her husband.
Afterwards the bridegroom prepares another sacrificial fire, and sits down with the bride on his right hand. He makes twenty oblations with the following prayers, preceded and followed as usual by oblations to the three worlds. The remainder of each ladleful is thrown into a jar of water, which is afterwards poured on the bride's head. 1. "Fire, expiator of evil! thou dost atone evils for the gods themselves. I, a priest, approach thee, desirous of soliciting thee to remove any sinful taint in the beauty of this woman." 2. "Air, expiator of evil!" &c. 3. "Moon, expiator of evil!" &c. 4. "Sun, expiator of evil!" &c. 5. "Fire, air, moon, and sun, expiators of evil! ye do atone evils for the gods. I, a priest, approach thee, desirous of soliciting thee to remove any sinful taint in the beauty of this woman." 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. "Soliciting thee to remove any thing in her person which might destroy her husband." 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, "Anything in her person which might make her negligent of cattle."
The priests who use the Yajurveda, make only five oblations with as many prayers addressed to fire, air, the sun, the moon, and the Gandhaba or celestial quirister; praying them to remove any thing in the person of the bride which might be injurious to her husband, to her offspring, to cattle, to the household, and to honour and glory. The following text is recited while the water is poured on the bride's head: "That blameable portion of thy person which would have been injurious to thy husband, thy offspring, thy cattle, thy household, and thy honour, I render destructive of paramours: may thy body [thus cleared from evil] reach old age with me." The bride is then fed with food prepared in a caldron, and the following text is recited: "I unite thy breath with my breath; thy bones with my bones; thy flesh with my flesh; and thy skin with my skin."
The ceremonies of which the nuptial solemnity consists may be here recapitulated. The bridegroom goes in procession to the house where the bride's father resides, and is there welcomed as a guest. [p.142] The bride is given to him by her father in the form usual at every solemn donation, and their hands are bound together with grass. He clothes the bride with an upper and lower garment, and the skirts of her mantle and his are tied together. The bridegroom makes oblations to fire, and the bride drops rice on it as an oblation. The bridegroom solemnly takes her hand in marriage. She treads on a stone and mullar. They walk round the fire. The bride steps seven times, conducted by the bridegroom, and he then dismisses the spectators, the marriage being now complete and irrevocable. In the evening of the same day the bride sits down on a bull's hide, and the bridegroom points out to her the polar star as an emblem of stability. They then partake of a meal. The bridegroom remains three days at the house of the bride's father: on the fourth day he conducts her to his own house in solemn procession. She is there welcomed by his kindred; and the solemnity ends with oblations to fire.
Among Hindus, a girl is married before the age of puberty. The law even censures the delay of her marriage beyond the tenth year. For this reason, and because the bridegroom too may be an infant, it is rare that a marriage should be consummated until long after its solemnization. The recital of prayers on this occasion constitutes it a religious ceremony; and it is the first of those that are performed for the purpose of expiating the sinful taint which a child is supposed to contract in the womb of his mother. They shall be described in a future essay.
On the practice of immature nuptials, a subject suggested in the preceding paragraph, it may be remarked, that it arises from a laudable motive; from a sense of duty incumbent on a father, who considers as a debt the obligation of providing a suitable match for his daughter. This notion, which is strongly inculcated by Hindu legislators, is forcibly impressed on the minds of parents. But in their zeal to dispose of a daughter in marriage, they do not perhaps sufficiently consult her domestic felicity. By the death of an infant husband, she is condemned to virgin widowhood for the period of her life. If both survive, the habitual bickerings of their infancy are prolonged in perpetual discord.
Numerous restrictions in the assortment of matches impose on parents this necessity of embracing the earliest opportunity of affiancing their children to fit companions. The intermarriages of different classes, formerly permitted with certain limitations, are now wholly forbidden. The prohibited degrees extend to the sixth of affinity; and even the bearing of the same family name is a sufficient cause of impediment.
To conclude the subject of nuptials, I shall only add, that eight forms are noticed by Hindu legislators. (Menu, c. iii.) But one only, which has been here described from the Indian rituals, is now used.
1 I omit the very tedious detail respecting sins expiated by a set number of repetitions; but in one instance, as an atonement for unwarily eating or drinking what is forbidden, it is directed, that eight hundred repetitions of the Gayatri should he preceded by three suppressions of breath, touching-water during the recital of the following text: "The bull roars; he has four horns, three feet, two heads, seven hands, and is hound by a threefold ligature: he is the mighty resplendent being, and pervades mortal men." The bull is Religious Duty personified. His four horns are the Brahmi or superintending priest; the Udgatri or chanter of the Samaveda; the Hatri, or reader of the Rigveda, who performs the essential part of a religious ceremony; and the Adhwarya, who sits in the sacred close, and chants the Vujuveda. His three feet are the three Vedas. Oblations and sacrifice are his two heads, roaring stupendously. His seven hands are the Hatri, Maitravanua, Brahmanach'handusi, Gravastata, Ach'havac, Nesh'tri, and Potri, names by which officiating priests are designated at certain solemn rites. The threefold ligature by which he is bound, is worshipped in the morning, at noon, and in the evening.
2 The verb is repeated with each term, "May the holy verses be satisfied; may the Vedas be satisfied,'' &c.
3 See a remark on this passage below, page 100, note.
4 Ante, p. 76.
5 See note A, at the end of the present Essay.
6 In the former essay, my chief guide was Helayud'ha, who has given very perspicuous explanations of the mantras (or prayers used at religious ceremonies) in several treatises, particularly in one entitled Brahmana servaswa. In the present essay, I likewise use a ritual composed by Bhavadeya for the use of Samavedi priests, and a commentary on the mantras by Guna Vishnu, as also the Acharachandrica (a treatise on religious ceremonies observed by 'Sudras, but including many of those performed by other classes), and the Acharadersa, a treatise on daily duties.
7 Poa Cynosuroides, Koenig. On the new moon of Bhadra, a sufficient quantity of this sort of grass is provided for use during the whole year.
8 The fuel used at sacrifices must be wood of the racemiferous fig-tree, the leafy Butea, or the Catechu Mimosa. It should seem, however. that the prickly Adenanthera, or even the Mango, may be used. The wood is cut into small logs, a span long, and not thicker than a man's fist.
9 The moon wanting a digit of full.
10 According to one legend, a ray of the sun, called
Sushimna, became the moon;
according to another, a flash of light from the eye of Atri was received by
space, a goddess; she conceived and bore Soma, who is therefore called a son
of Atri. This legend may be found in the Harivansa. Calidasa alludes to it in
the Raghuvansa, (b. 2. v. 75,) comparing Sudacshina, when she conceived
Raghu, to the via lactea receiving the luminary which sprung from the eye of
11 Agrostis linearis, Koenig.
12 The salayraima are black stones found in a part of the Gaudlaci river, within the limits of Nepal. They are mostly round, and are commonly perforated in one or more places by worms, or, as the Hindus believe, by Vishnu ill the shape of a reptile. According to the number of perforations and of spiral curves in each, the stone is supposed to contain Vishnu in various characters. For example, such a stone perforated in one place only, with four spiral curves in the perforation, and with marks resembling a cow's foot, and a long wreath of flowers, contains Lacshmi Narayana. In like manner stones are found in the Nermada, near 'Oncar mandatta, which are considered as types of Siva, and are called Bain-ling. The salayraima is found upon trial not to be calcareous: it strikes him with steel, and scarcely at all effervesces with acids.
13 In most parts of India the priests who officiate at funerals are held in disesteem; they are distinguished by various appellations, as Mahabrahmen, &c.—See Digest of Hindu Law, vol. ii, p. 175. (Octavo edit. vol. ii, p. 61.)
14 The recital of these verses is specially directed by Vajnyawalcya, B. 3. v. 7, &c.
15 The purpose of his carrying a staff is to scare evil spirits and ghosts.
16 Sesamum Indicum.
17 Melia Azadirchta.
18 Adennthera aculeata, or Prosopis aculcata.
19 I must for the present omit it, because it is not exhibited at full length in any work I have yet consulted.
20 See translation of Menu, Ch. i. v. 62.
21 Literally, "immolated;" but the commentator says, "consecrated.''
22 I think it unnecessary to quote from the commentary the explanation of this curious passage of the Veda as it is here given, because it does not really elucidate the sense; the allegory is, for the most part, sufficiently obvious. Other prayers may be also recited on the same occasion: it would be tedious to insert them all in this place.
23 See note B, at the end of the present Essay.
24 The former translation of this text (in the first Essay on the Religious Ceremonies of the Hindus, ante, p. 90) was erroneous in several places; and I still am not perfectly confident that I rightly understand it. The term (cilala) which the commentator explains as signifying cattle, literally means "fit to be tied to a pole or stake." The reading of the next term was erroneous. I read and translated parisruta for parisrut; "promised" instead of "distilled." The commentator explains it as signifying the nourishment of progenitors.
25 The practice of enclosing the funeral pile with temporary walls is almost
26 Bulca frondosa, and superba.
27 This does not appear to he very universally practised; but a monument is always erected on the spot where a woman has burnt herself with her husband's corpse, or where any person has died a legal voluntary death. A mausoleum is, however, often built in honour of a Hindu prince or noble; it is called in the Hindustani language, a ch'hetri; and the practice of consecrating a temple in honour of the deceased is still more common, especially in the centrical parts of India. I shall take some future occasion to resume a subject alluded to in this note; but in the mean time it may be apt to remark, that legal suicide was formerly common among the Hindus, and is not now very rare, although instances of men's burning themselves have not perhaps lately occurred so often as their drowning themselves in holy rivers. The blind father and mother of the young anchorite, whom Dasaeatha slew by mistake, burnt themselves with the corpse of their son. The scholiast of the Raghuransa, in which poem, as well as in the Ramayana, this story is beautifully told, quotes a text of law to prove that suicide is in such instances legal. I cannot refrain from also mentioning, that instances are not unfrequent where persons afflicted with loathsome and incurable diseases have caused themselves to be buried alive. I hope soon to be the channel of communicating to the Asiatic Society a very remarkable case of a leper rescued from a premature grave, and radically cured of his distemper. I must also take this occasion of announcing a very singular practice which prevails among the lowest tribes of the inhabitants of Berar and Gondrana. Suicide is not unfrequently vowed by such persons in return for boons solicited from idols; and to fulfil his vow, the successful votary throws himself from a precipice named Calaibarava, situated in the mountains between the Taipti and Nermardi rivers. The annual fair held near that spot at the beginning of spring, usually witnesses eight or ten victims of this superstition.
28 The translation of several among these prayers is a little varied from a former version of them (in the First Essay in the Religious Ceremonies of the Hindus, ante, p. 76, 77), to conform with the different expositions given in different places by the commentators I have consulted. For the same purpose, I shall here subjoin another version of the Gayatri: "Earth! Sky! Heaven! Let us meditate on [these and on] the most excellent light and power of that generous, sportive, and resplendent Sun, [praying that] it may guide our intellects." A paraphrase of this very important text may he found in the preface to the translation of Menu, p. xviii. See also the Essay on the Vedas, ante, p. 15.
29 At most religious ceremonies, and especially at the deprecatory rites, the prayers directed in the several Vedas, and in the various sachas of them, differ much. Those which are translated in the present and former essays are mostly taken from the Yajurveda, and may he used by any Brahmen, instead of the prayers directed in the particular Veda, by which he should regularly be guided, The subject of lustrations is curious; they are performed with various ceremonies, to avert calamities or to obviate disappointments. Should other engagements permit it, this topic will be treated in a future essay.
30 In a work entitled Nirneya Sindhu, I find authority for classing obsequies under twelve heads. 1. Daily obsequies, either with food or with water only, in honour of ancestors in general, but excluding the Viswedevas 2. Obsequies for a special cause; that is, in honour of n kinsman recently defunct. 3. Voluntary obsequies, performed by way of supererogation, for the greater benefit of the deceased. 4. Obsequies for increase of prosperity, performed upon any accession of wealth or prosperity, and upon other joyful occasions. 5. A sraddha intended to introduce the shade of a deceased kinsman to the rest of the manes. 6. Obsequies performed on appointed days, such as that of new moon, full moon, sun's passage into a new sign, &c. 7. A sraddha to sanctify the food at an entertainment given to a company of reverend persons. 8. One performed when stated numbers of priests are fed at the cost of a person who needs purification from some defilement. 9. A sraddha preparatory to the celebration of any solemn rite, and considered as a part of such rite. 10. Sraddhas in honour of deities. 11. Oblations of clarified butter, |previous to the undertaking of a distant journey. 12. Sraddha to sanctify a meal of fresh meat prepared simply for the sake of nourishment.
31 The Via Lactea seems to he meant by the path of the Gods.
32 Plantain leaves; or else leaves of the Butea frondosa, or of the Bassia lantifolia.
33 Yava signifies barley; in this text it also signifies separator, being derived from yu, to unmix. Many of the prayers contain similar quibbles.
34 Sometimes named Nandi muc'ha, from a word which occurs in the prayer peculiar to this sraddha.
35 The commentator enumerates the seven tongues of fire, Pravaha, Avaha, Udvaha, Samvaha, Vivaha, Purivaha, Nivaha, (or else Anuvaha); all of which imply the power of conveying oblations to the deities to whom offerings are made. The seven holy sages and sacrifices are the Hotri, Maitravaruna, Brahmana ch'handusi, Achahaivac, Potri, Neshtri, and Agnid'hra; that is, the seven officiating priests at very solemn sacrifices. They worship fire seven ways by the Agnisthoma and other sacrifices. The seven abodes are the names of the seven worlds: and fire is called in the Veda, saptachitca, which seems to allude to seven consecrated hearths. In the sixteen verses called Paurusha, which have been already quoted, the names of the seven worlds thrice repeated, are understood to be meant by the thrice seven fuels; and the seven oceans are the seven moats surrounding the altar. Fire, like the sun itself, is supposed to emit seven moats surrounding the altar. Fire, like the sun itself, is supposed to emit seven rays: this perhaps may account for the number seven being so often repeated.
36 The adoration of a cow is not uncommon. This worship consists in presenting flowers to her, washing her feet, &c. It is entirely different from the practice here noticed, both seem to be founded on the superstitious notion, that the favour of Surabhi (the boon-granting cow) may be gained by showing kindness to her offspring. The story of Vasishta's cow, Nandini, attended by the king Dilipa for the sake of obtaining a boon through her moans, is a pretty fable grounded on this notion. It is beautifully told by Calidasa in the Raghuvansa. I cannot refrain from mentioning another fable of a cow named Barhula, whose expostulations with a tiger, pleading to him to spare her life, form the only admired passage in the Itihasas, or collection of stories supposed to be related by Brimasena while he lay at the point of death wounded with innumerable arrows, the fourth day of Aswina is sacred to this cow, and named from her Bahula chaturl'hi. Images of her and her calf are worshipped; and the extract from the Itihasas is on that day read with great solemnity.
37 They are avowed in some provinces.
38 I omit the remainder of the text, which it would be indecorous to translate into a modern language. The literal sense of it is here subjoined in a Latin version: "Illa redamans accipito fascinum meum, quod ego peramans intromittam in cam, multć qua illecebrć sistunt." [Roughly translated means, 'That redamans (?) take my penis, which I love enter it, a number of attractions which binds them.'—Editor.]
39 Gunavishnu here explains Gandharba by the word Aditya, which may signify the sun, or a deity in general.
40 Andropogon aromaticum or muricatum.
41 From this use of raw rice at the nuptial ceremony, arises the custom of presenting rice, tinged with turmeric, by way of invitation to guests whose company is requested at a wedding.
42 This term is not expounded by the commentator. Bha signifies an asterism: but the meanings of the compound term is not obvious. Sushmana bears some affinity to Sushumna, mentioned in a former essay; but neither of these names is explained in the commentaries which I have consulted.
43 Texts of the Samaveda so named.
44 This version is conformable to a different commentary from that which was followed in the former translation.
45 In the Yajurveda the texts are varied, so that the third step is for increase of wealth, and the sixth for obtaining happy seasons.
46 It is here translated according to the gloss of Gunavishnu; in the former version I followed the commentary of Delavudha.
47 Dhruva, the pole, also signifies stable, fixed, steady, firm.
48 The Muslemans of India do not scruple to borrow from the Hindus superstitious ceremonies that are celebrated with festivity. They take an active part in the gambols of the Holi, and even solicit the favours of the Indian Plutus, at the Diwali. The bridal procession, on the fourth day, with all the sports and gambols of the Chaut'hi (Chaturt'hi), is evidently copied from the similar customs of the Hindus. In Bengal the Muslemans have even adopted the premature marriage of infant brides and bridegrooms.