Epitome of Some of the Most
Remarkable and Leading Tenets
In the Faith of that People
Illustrating their Priapic Rites and Phallic Principles


NOTE: This book is now available as a hard copy from Amazon.
It has been revised once again, with additional data and plates, an
expanded glossary and many footnotes. This new edition also
includes an appendix revealing who Sellon's silent source was.
Click on the link below for more details.

Based on the New Edition of London 1902
from the original work:
Annotations on the Sacred Writings of the Hindus
by Edward Sellon (1818-1866),
first printed "for private circulation"
London, 1865.



7.  A Complete Bibliography of Sellon's Works
 APPENDIX 1: Modern Authorities on Sellon's ANNOTATIONS.
APPENDIX 2: On the Phallic Worship of India. By Edward Sellon.
APPENDIX 3: Some Remarks on Indian Gnosticism, or Sacti Puja, the Worship of the Female Powers. By Edward Sellon.





EDWARD SELLON was one of the most notorious researchers of interest in the field of Indian religious symbolism, yet strangely only contributing one work of real importance to this new science; the following all-too-brief essay, and that being at its time only available to a select circle.

Unlike his contemporaries, who, being astutely aware of what the faith of India involved in some quarters, and who sneered with distain at such practices so typical of the Victorian Britons, Sellon as a writer was able to approach his subject with an open mind and view it from close quarters having visited that continent twenty years prior to this thesis, basing his observations on direct firsthand knowledge. Having gained notoriety as something of a rake, one can imagine Sellon, ever the one to cock a snook at his fellow men, would have delighted in telling tales about the sages he met and their strange beliefs, some of which leaked out in his confessional works of semi-fiction. But it is with this work we are mainly concerned, and having well over century and a quarter behind us, we are now able to re-examine it with clearer eyes and establish exactly how it fitted in with all the other works of interest regarding India, and for whom it was mainly intended. But as a work can in nowise really be separated from its author, it would be best first to take a look at the biography of this curious, and some would say, outlandish writer who carried on his short but hectic life with little regard for the opinions of others.

Sellon was born in England in 1818 to a moderately well off family. And, as was the custom in those days, he was shipped to India with the army at sixteen. It was here that he developed an active sex life, and led to an almost fatal outcome when he was challenged to a duel due to his sexual adventures and innumerable adulteries. In 1844 he sailed home to an arranged marriage which failed quickly as Sellon was not a one-woman man. Not only had he brought back with him his taste for the rare and exotic, he also brought with him a penchant for young girls, so readily available in India, and sadly all too readily available in his homeland. Numerous attempts at reconciling with his faithful wife followed, but to no avail. Sellon was not a man who could easily settle down, as can be testified by his many short stints. He worked as a mail driver, fencing master, etc., as well as self-proclaimed expert on Indian sexual manners and customs. He was also something of an artist and leant his hand to many illustrative pornographic books. Finding few friends and companions to indulge himself in his highly liberated and amoral sexuality, he committed a gross indecency which soon ostracised himself from the rest of polite society, before finally committing suicide in a London hotel room in 1866 at the age of forty-eight.

Such a brief overview of an interesting man like Sellon is pitiful, but this is all that is really known. No biography of the man exists, and only fragments of his life can be gathered from the semi-autobiographical works, themselves perhaps a bit too close to the truth to gain much insight, apart from the notion that he was a very matter-of-fact man.

This straightforward manner is best exemplified in the following work. Sellon was not one inclined to prolixity; his writing is methodical and practical, without recourse to romanticising or allegory. He speaks plain words and attempts to put Eastern doctrine clearly and squarely before the reader in Occidental terms. It is for this reason that his Annotations is an invaluable source, and, although  perhaps too concise, should be read over and over, each reading revealing more of his insightfulness. It was squarely aimed at the scholars he emulated, or considered himself to have an affinity with, as well as perhaps to titillate a private readership. And in hindsight, it can be viewed as a sexological treatise on the manners and customs of the Hindus, thus falling into the bracket of anthropological research.

The work presented here is, it has to be remembered, a Victorian's view of Shakti-ritual and the accompanying practises peculiar to it. Sellon was an outsider, and therefore approaches it from an outsider's point of view. He was never initiated into the Kaula-circle or took part  in any of its rites. What he did do, though, was to speak to those who had been initiated in an attempt to understand their beliefs and why they do what they do. He also studied some of their sacred writings, possibly translations, although this can not now be determined. (Many Tantric texts were hardly published let alone translated into English during his life time. They were secretly passed round hand to hand in initiated circles only, but his quoting from the Tantra of Bliss suggests at least that he had some intimate knowledge of a few of them.)

Armed with this knowledge he returned from India to a very unenlightened England and attempted to put into a short essay what he understood of their rites, not only in this work, but also in two short papers submitted to the Anthropological Society of London. Both of these papers are included here as appendices (2 and 3). Annotations can be seen as encapsulating the first paper published the year previously, and the second, published the year after his Annotations, as an expansion on it. It was published the same year he committed suicide.

The importance of his Annotations rests on the fact that it presents the Tantric practises of India to a western audience, these practises being little understood in England at that time. Now of course we are used to hearing the word 'Tantra' in everyday parlance; same goes for the word 'Yoga.' But both, admittedly, in the West are still not fully comprehended. To briefly outline in general terms; Tantra has as its aim to unite polarities in both men and women, these polarities being based on the sexual differences. In the rite of Shaktism, the point of the rite is to objectify the man's inner woman, his 'shakti', and project it onto a physical representation, whether this be symbolic or actual. In the rites of the Vamamarg, also known as the left-hand path because the priestess sits on the left of the man, an actual woman is used, and she is designated the Shakti, the Goddess, and invested with all her powers. At a certain stage of the ritual she is no longer considered to be a representation of the Goddess, but she is the Goddess. And so by uniting with her in ritual copulation the male participant absorbs this projected aspect of himself at the moment of ejaculation, internalising it, thereby transcending duality and achieving bliss. It is in this blissful state that his personal consciousness is absorbed into cosmic consciousness and rises above all forms of duality; his sex now is neither male nor female, but both and neither at the same time.

Gerald Massey discusses this transcendence of opposites in his works. He uses the term 'bi-une being,' a person that is neither male nor female, but both. This bi-une being is a perfect embodiment of the non-dual state, a non-polarised force, and thus akin to a god. Really, in essential terms, a god is neither male nor female because it is above the plane of duality; it is only at its inception, or incursion, into the plane of duality that it can be labelled a masculine or a feminine force. In Tantra the most important thing to remember is that a male on this plane is an embodiment of the masculine force. The same can be said for a female. She embodies the feminine force. And their ritual copulation is a dramatised enactment of a union which transcends opposites because it goes beyond personal consciousness. Many people misunderstand Tantra. They just think it's about fucking, i.e. two people having sex. If that were the case, then we would all be Shivas and Shaktis without trying, and this simply is not the case. The fact that the sexual act is taken out of the everyday context and made sacred by the application of the five M's is the whole point of the rite; the sexual rite is turned into a sacred rite, and that is what Sellon is here trying to demonstrate. Obviously, his interest was piqued because the rites involved sex, thus mirroring his own proclivities, but he also understood that it was not just ordinary sex; it was magical and therefore transcended the normal mode of congress.

To recapitulate; the importance of Annotations is that it was one of the first works to introduce to the West the Tantric practices of the Hindus, and also the first to introduce to us cults like the Vamamarg, the latter being a very much misunderstood sect. (For a discussion of the Vamamarg, see Kenneth Grant's books, particularly Cults of the Shadow.) Hints of these sects can be gleaned in the volumes of the Asiatic Society of Bengal published sixty-odd years earlier, and a work Sellon was familiar with. He, in fact, quotes from several papers in these volumes, namely one which is of possible interest here as it also touches on Hindu belief-systems, with a brief discussion of Shaktism. It can be read here. Unfortunately, most of the writers involved in the Asiatic Researches stay quite taciturn, shying away from any real discussion of Tantra in general, and sexual rites in particular. And, of course, Sellon does not, quite avidly displaying his knowledge of them. We only wish this essay wasn't so short and that it's a great pity he never went into more detail.

Lastly, for that reason, it is not a perfect work, and does have its shortcomings. Nonetheless, it is invaluable. Sellon attempts to prove that the rites mentioned here are not just peculiar to the Hindus but form an integral part of the sacred mysteries of other cultures, like the Egyptian, Babylonian, etc., and even the Greek and Roman, the latter's priapic rites being possibly based on the Hindu originals. It is for this reason another important work, belonging to the late nineteenth century school of phallicism, a study that was very much in vogue at the time.

For an assessment of Sellon's Annotations by modern authorities, consult Appendix 1.





SERIOUS CONSIDERATION has been given to the extent of revisions necessary in presenting an accurate version of this work. That there are serious errorsboth grammatical and factualin the text cannot be denied. It has therefore been decided to clear up the inaccuracies and leave no errors unchecked. This approach also involved modernising certain spellings, both in the English and the native sources. Thus such words as previously spelt Sacti, Siva, etc., will be found corrected as Shakti, Shiva, and so on, without recourse to notification of changes. Where Sellon has linga for both singular and plural, they have been amended to lingam for singular, linga for plural. The aim has been to give a better orthography all round.

The text as it stands has been left largely as it is, that is, complete as it was in 1865. The so-called New Edition of London 1902, is nothing more than a re-paginated second printing, itself a small edition of 150 copies, again printed for private circulation. The text here given is based on that edition, with a few items added for further elaboration. These include translations of some foreign quotes, identification of sources where possible, a bibliography of Sellon's sources, a complete list of editions of this work, plus others known to be by Sellon, and a small selection of plates to illustrate the work. I have added a few editorial notes where I felt they were necessary and to help with further elucidation. I have also endeavoured to give quotes in full where Sellon makes a passing reference. These are indicated by asterisks throughout the text. Footnotes by Sellon will be found at the end of the main text. Numbers in square brackets denote the pagination of the 1902 edition.

With these slight but necessary changes, it is hoped that now after well over a hundred years to have presented the most definitive edition of a work which should have in its time received laudatory commendation and also been acknowledged as a classic of its kind. Had Sellon pushed his scholarship to the full and provided better documentation of his findings, we are sure he would have spent serious further attention to revising his little essay and possibly produced something like this. Had he gone on to issue a second edition prior to his unfortunate and untimely death, we believe it would have surpassed our endeavour; as it is, he never was given a second chance, and therefore we have attempted to put out an edition which bears all the hallmarks of his learning as well as the fruits of his experience still using his name, and may possibly rank it alongside that other classic work of Indian etiquette and customs, the Kama Sutra.






IT HAS been suggested to the author of the following pages to compile a small treatise which, without professing to be an abridgment of the Hindu sacred writings, should convey in a concise form an "epitome" of the information that has been obtained with respect to the leading dogmas of the Brahminical superstition.

When we reflect upon certain peculiarities of the religious worship practiced by Hindus, on its great antiquity, on the fact that two thousand years before the Christian era it was, as at the present day, in full force; that it witnessed the rise, decline and fall of the idolatry of Egypt, and of the great Western mythology of Greece and Rome, that hitherto it has scarcely yielded in the slightest degree to the adverse influence of the Mohammedan race on the one hand, or to European dictation on the other; and that it exercises, by its system of caste, a powerful control over the manners, customs, [p.iv] costume and social status of the entire Hindu community, it becomes a subject fraught with interest to every cultivated mind, and offers an affecting but curious example of the power of a hoary and terrible superstition in degrading and enslaving so large a portion of the human race.

The sources from whence much of the material in this compilation are derived are acknowledged in numerous notes.

It does not come within the compass of this sketch to enumerate all the theological dogmas contained in the sacred writings of the Hindus. Those only have been selected for annotation and remark which seemed to have the most direct bearing on the object in view, in the elucidation of the worship of powerthe Gnosticism of India.






 on the



THE ORIGIN of the religious worship of the Hindus is lost in remote antiquity. For many ages anterior to the time of Manu, their first lawgiver, all that has been handed down to us by oral tradition seems to confirm the hypothesis that they were worshippers of one God only, whom they designated Brahm Atma, "the breathing soul;"* a spiritual supreme being coeval with the formation of the world, without end, everlasting, permeating all space, the beneficent disposer of events, the worship of the Hindus at this period was probably simple, and their ceremonies few. In process of time, however, the date of which cannot be correctly determined, they appear to have adopted a material type or emblem of Brahm: a rude block of stone began to be set up. This was the phallus, or as they termed it, the linga.* This [p.6] emblem had reference to the procreative power seen throughout nature, and in that primeval age was regarded with the greatest awe and veneration. To the influence of this image was attributed the fructifying warmth which brought to perfection the fruits of the earth and contributed to the reproduction both of man, animals, and everything that has life.

This simple and primitive idolatry came, by degrees, to diverge into the adoration of the elements, particularly fire; and at length developed itself by the institution of an emanation from Brahm Atma in his triune capacity; as creator, preserver or saviour, and destroyer. These attributes were deified under the names of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, on whom were conferred three gunas or qualities, viz. rajas (passion), sat (purity), and tamas (darkness).* This is the Trimurti.[1] *

The next step towards the formation of a pantheon was the institution of Avatars and Avantaras, i.e., greater or lesser incarnations; by which one or other of the triad imparted a portion of his divine essence both to men (generally Bahurdurs or heroes) and to brutes. The tendency to deify heroes, [p.7] and irrational creatures, was not peculiar however to the Hindus, for the Assyrians, Etruscans, Greeks and Romans had the same custom, as had also the Egyptians in a much more extended degree.

This system of Avatars was followed by an almost universal deification, not only of elements and the heavenly bodies, but of every recognized attribute of the supreme being and the evil spirit: omnipotence, beneficence, virtue, love, vice, anger, murderall received a tangible form until at the present time the Hindu pantheon contains little short of a million gods and demigods. It is admitted, however, that to many of these they pay only relative honour.

It is a little remarkable that of this host of divinities, especially in Bengal, Shiva is the god whom they are especially delighted to honour. As the destroyer, and one who revels in cruelty and bloodshed this terrible deity, who has not inaptly been compared to the Moloch of Scripture, of all their divinities suggests most our idea of the devil. It may therefore be concluded that the most exalted notion of worship among the Hindus is a service of fear. The Brahmins say that the other gods are good and benevolent, and will not hurt their creatures, but that Shiva is powerful [p.8] and cruel, and that it is necessary to appease him.

Although this deity is sometimes represented in the human form in his images, it is not thus that he is most frequently adored. The most popular representation of him is unquestionably the lingam; a smooth stone rising out of another stone of finer texture, simulacrum membri virilis, et pudendum muliebre. This emblem is identical with Shiva in his capacity as "Lord of all."

It is necessary however to observe here that Professor Wilson, while admitting that "the linga is perhaps the most ancient object of homage adopted in India," adds, "subsequently to the ritual of the Vedas, which was chiefly, if not wholly, addressed to the elements, and particularly to fire. How far the worship of the linga is authorized by the Vedas is doubtful, but that it is the main purport of several of the Puranas[2] there can be no doubt."[3]

The universality of linga puja (or worship) at the period of the Mohammedan invasion of India is well attested.* The idol destroyed by Mahmud of Ghizni, notwithstanding the [p.9] remarkable stories related by the Mohammedan chroniclers of a colossal image of human form which the Brahmans offered immense sums to save from destruction, but which upon being shattered by a blow from Mahmud's mace disgorged a vast treasure of gold and precious stones of inestimable valueand the whole of which story Wilson proves is a pure fictionwas nothing more than one of those mystical blocks of stone called lingam.[4]

The worship of Shiva under the type of the lingam is almost the only form in which that deity is reverenced. Its prevalence throughout the whole tract of the Ganges as far as Benares, is sufficiently conspicuous. In Bengal the lingam temples are commonly erected in a range of six, eight, or twelve, on each side of a ghaut[5] leading to the river. At Kalma is a circular group of one hundred and eight temples erected by the Rajah of Burdwan. These temples, and indeed all those found in [p.10] Bengal, consist of a simple chamber of a square form surmounted by a pyramidal centre; the area of each is very small. The lingam of black or white marble, and sometimes of alabaster slightly tinted and gilt, is placed in the middle.

Speaking of Shiva and Parvati, M. de Langle says, "Les deux divinités dont il s'agit, sont três souvent et très pieusement adorées sous la figure du Linga (le phallus des anciens) et de l'yoni, dans leur mystérieuse conjonction. L'yoni se nomme aussi Bhaga (pudendum muliebre), Madheri douce, et Argha, vase en forme de bateau, dans lequel on offre des fleurs à la divinité, tels sont les noms de l'Adhera-Sacti (energie de la conception vivifiée par le Linga). Quand cette déesse est representée par le symbole que je viens d'indiquer, elle prend le nom de Devi (divine) plus communément que ceux de Bhavani, de Pracriti, &c. Suivant les theologians Hindous, une vive discussion s'éleva entre Pavati (née des montagnes) et Maha-deva (le grand dieu), peu de temps après leur manage, sur l'influence des sexes dans la production des êtres; its convinrent de créer séparément une race d'individus. Les enfants de Mahadeva furent nombreux, et se dévouerènt au culte de le divinité male; mais il manquoient d'intelligence et [p.11] de force, et ils étoient mal confomés, ceux de Parvati étoient beaux, bien faits et d'un excellent naturel; cependent, obsédes par les Lingadja, ou enfants de Maha-deva, ils envinrent aux mains avex eau, et les vainquirent. Maha-deva alloit dans sa fureur anéantir d'un coup-d'oeil les Yônidja vainqueurs si Parvati ne l'eut appaisé. Les Brâhmanes offrent aux Linga des fleurs, et ont soin quand ils font leurs cérémonies d'allumer sept lamps,[6] lesquelles, selon Mathurin, vessière de la croze, reassemblent an chandelier à sept branches des Juifs, qu'on voit a Rome sur l'arc de Titus. Les femmes portent des Lingas au cou et aux bras; celles qui desirent devenir fécondés rendent à cette idole un culte tout pourticutier; elles ont il d'autant plus de confiance dans ses prêtres que ceux-ci font voeu de chasteté."[7][TR]

The offerings are presented at the threshold.

Benares, however, is the peculiar seat of this form of worship. The principal deity, Shiva, there called Viweswarra, as observed already, is a lingam. Most of the chief objects of pilgrimage are similar blocks of stone. No less than forty-seven linga are visited, all of pre-eminent [p.12] sanctity; but there are hundreds of inferior note still worshipped, and thousands whose fame and fashion have passed away. It is a singular fact, that upon this adoration of the procreative and sexual Shakti (or power) seen through nature, hinges the whole gist of the Hindu faith, and notwithstanding all that has been said by half-informed persons to the contrary, this puja does not appear to be prejudicial to the morals of the people. "Among a people of such exuberant fancy as the Hindus," says Sir William Jones, "it is natural that everything should receive form and life. It is remarkable to what a degree their works of imagination are pervaded by the idea of sexuality. Indeed it seems never to have entered into the heads of the Hindu legislators and people that anything natural could be offensively obscene, a singularity which pervades all their writings, but is no proof of the depravity of their morals, thence the worship of the linga by the followers of Siva, and of the yoni by the followers of Vishnu."[8]

We find among the sacred paintings of the Hindus numerous representations of devotees, both male and female, adoring the lingam, [p.13] and a description of one of these pictures will suffice for them all. The domestic temple, in which the emblem is usually placed, is a dewal, a term derived from deva, a deity, and havela, a house, i.e., the "house of God." Indeed the natives have no such word as "Pagoda" for their temples, which are always called dewals.

The worshipper is seated, dressed, and arrayed in all her jewels, as directed by the ritual. In her right hand she holds a mala or rosary, of one hundred and eight round beads, which is not visible as her band is placed within a bag of gold brocade (kampkab) called gumuki, to keep off insects or any adverse influence. Her langi or bodice is yellow, her dress transparent muslin edged with gold (upervastra). In front of her are the five lamps, called panchaty, used in this puja, viz., the jari, or spouted vessel for lustral water; the dippa or cup, to sprinkle the flowers which she has offered, and which are seen on the lingam; and lastly the gantha, or sacred bell, used frequently during the recapitulation of the prescribed mantras or incantations. Nearly all the pujas are conducted with the frequent ringing of bells, and the object of this is twofold: first to wake up the attention at particular parts of the service; and secondly, [p.14] to scare away any malignant dewtas and evil spirits; precisely, in fact, for the same reasons as they are used at the celebration of Mass in Roman Catholic countries.

The lingam and the earth are, according to the Hindus, identical, and the mountain of Meru is termed the "Navel of the earth." Meru is supposed to be the centre of the universe, and is said to be 8400 yoyans high, 32,000 broad at the top, 16,000 at the bottom. It is circular, and formed like an inverted cone. This notion was not confined to India, for when Cleanthes asserted that the earth was in the shape of a cone,[9] this is to be understood only of this mountain, the Meru of India. Anaximenes[10] said that this column was plain and of stone, exactly like Meru-pargwette (Parvati) of the inhabitants of Ceylon.[11] "This mountain," says he, "is entirely of stone, 68,000 yojanas high, and 10,000 in circumference, and of the same size from the top to the bottom."

In India the followers of Buddha[12] insist that this mountain is like a drum, with a swell in the middle, in the same form in fact as the tom-toms used in the east. In the [p.15] west, formerly, the same opinion had been expressed by Lucippus and the Buddhists in India give that shape also to islands. This figure is given as an emblem of the reunion of the powers of nature. Meru is the sacred and primeval lingam,* and the earth beneath is the mysterious yoni expanded and open like the padma or lotus. The convexity in the centre is the navel of Vishnu, and the physiological mysteries of their religion is often represented by the emblem of the lotus, where the whole flower signifies both the earth and the two principles of its fecundation.* The germ is both Meru and the lingam. The petals and filaments are the mountains which encircle Meru, and are also the type of the yoni. The four leaves of the calyx are the four vast regions turning towards the four cardinal points. According to the two geographical systems of the Hindus, the first or more ancient is (as set forth in the Purana) the Earth described as a convex surface gradually sloping towards the borders, and surrounded by the ocean. The second, and more modern system, is that adopted by their astronomers. The followers of the Puranas consider the earth as a flat surface, or nearly so. Their knowledge does not extend much beyond the old continent, or the superior hemisphere; [p.16] but astronomers being acquainted with the globular shape of the earth, and of course with an inferior hemisphere, were under the necessity of borrowing largely from the superior part in order to fill up the inferior one.

The leaves of the lotus represent the different islands in the ocean around Jambu, and, according to the Hindu system, the whole earth floats upon the waters like a boat. The argha[13] of the Hindus and the cymbium of the Egyptians are also emblems of the earth [p.17] and of the yoni. The argha, or cymbium, signifies a vessel, cup or dish, in which fruits or flowers are offered to the deities, and ought to be in the shape of a boat; though many are oval, circular or even square.*

Iswarra, or Bacchus, is styled Argha-Nautha or "Lord of the boat-shaped vessel;" and Osiris the Iswara, or Bacchus of Egypt, according to Plutarch, was commander of the Argo, and was represented by the Egyptians in a boat, carried on the shoulders of a great many men. The ship worshipped by the Suevi, according to Tacitus, was the Argha, or Argo and the type of the pudendum muliebre.* "The Agha, or Yoni, with the linga of stone, is found all over India as an object of worship. Flowers are offered to it, and the water, which is poured on the linga, runs into the rim, which represents the yoni, and also the fossa navicularis, and instead of the linga, Iswarra is sometimes represented standing in the middle, as Osiris in Egypt."[14]

Plutarch has said of the Egyptians, that they had inserted nothing into their worship without a reason, nothing merely fabulous, nothing superstitious, as many suppose, but their institutions have either a reference to morals or something useful in life. The [p.18] mass of mankind lost sight however of morality in the multiplicity of rites, as it is easier to practice ceremonies than to subdue passions. So it was in India and Egypt.

In the course of investigating the ceremonies of the Hindus, and in attempting to elucidate their meaning, it will be found necessary to draw an analogy between them and those of the Egyptians. The resemblance is very striking; they mutually serve to explain each other. When the Sepoys, who accompanied Lord Hutchinson in his Egyptian expedition, saw the temple at Hadja Silsili they were very indignant with the natives of the place for allowing it to fall into decay, conceiving it to be the temple of their own god, Shiva, a fact, to say the least of it, no less singular than interesting.

The annihilation of the sect and worship of Brahma as the Iswarra or "Supreme Lord" is described at large in the Kasichandra of the Skanda Purana, where the three powers are mentioned as contending for precedence. Vishnu at last acknowledges the superiority of Shiva, but Brahma, on account of his presumptuous obstinacy, had one of his heads cut off by Shiva, and his puja, or worship, abolished.

The intent of this legend is evidently to advance the claims of the Shaiva sect, and if [p.19] we substitute the contending facts for the battle of the Deutas, or angels, the fable will appear not quite destitute in historical fact, nor wholly without foundation.

The contention of schismatics from the same stock is always more inveterate than where the difference is total. The sect of Brahma claimed exclusive pre-eminence for the object of their choice as being the creative power, the Iswarra or "Supreme Lord." The two other sects joined against the followers of Brahma. The sect of Shiva, being the most powerful, rendered theirs the established religion and claimed for Shiva in his turn the exclusive title of Iswarra. The sect of Vishnu, or Heri, at length emerged from its obscurity, and in concert with the adorers of Shakti (or the female power), destroyed and abolished the sect and worship of Shiva, and then Vishnu, Heri (or Krishna) became the Iswarra, or "Supreme Lord," and his worship became the established religion. This appears to have been the case in Egypt; and notwithstanding that all affinity between the two systems has of late years been so strongly denied, if we substitute Osiris for Brahma, Horus for Vishnu, Typhon for Shiva, and Isis for the Shakti (or female power), the narrative agrees in every respect.


Again, the sun is one of the forms of Vishnu (as Heri); Osiris and Horus are both said to have been identical with the Sun. The bull of Shiva (Nandi) is the same as the bulls Apis and Mnevis of Memphis and Thebes.

He (Nandi) is the vahan, or vehicle of this divinity: the bull is the type of justice, whose body is Parameswarra and whose every joint is virtue; whose three horns are the three Vedhs, and whose tail ends where Aa'herma, or injustice, begins. The phallus of Osiris[15] was an object of worship and is also the emblem of Shiva.

Bacchus or Osiris was represented by an equilateral triangle, and the sectarian mark of the worshippers of Shiva is this hieroglyphic. The worship of Bacchus was the same as that which is paid to Shiva. It had the same obscenities, the same cruel [p.21] bloodthirsty rites, and the same emblem of the generative power.

The Hindu sacrifices to Durga, or Kali, are a striking exemplification of this hypothesis. Mr. Paterson informs us that, "When the stroke is given, which severs the head of the victim from its body, the cymbals strike up, the tom-toms beat, the kranch, or buccinum, is blown, and the whole assembly, shouting, smear their faces with the blood; they roll themselves in it, and dancing like demons, accompany their dances with obscene songs, allusions and gestures."[16]

The Abbé Pluche mentions the same particulars of the assistants in the sacrifices of Dionysius or Bacchus.

Durga, Kali, or Maha KaIi as the Shakti, spouse or energetic will of Shiva, the destructive power bears a remarkable analogy with the Moloch of Scripture, as well as with Typhon, Saturn, Dis, Pluto and other divinities of the West. She is eternity, and under this attribute is often represented as trampling her lord Shiva under foot. Sometimes in paintings we see her sitting upon him in the act of coitus, by which we are to understand that his worship will only last to the end of the world, and then to pass [p.22] away for ever. She is represented in coitu as typical of the creative power of Shiva during the period of his administration, she being the medium, or Shakti, by which his will is carried into operation.

Maha Kali[17] delights in bloodshed and cruelty, and human sacrifices are very acceptable to her. In images and paintings she is portrayed as holding in her four hands the heads of victims streaming with blood. Over her shoulders is thrown a necklace of human skulls. She is seated on the sacred padma or lotus, and wears a golden tiara on her head. Other representations there are of this terrible divinity, in which her features are distorted, hideous fangs project from her mouth; her fingers are armed with talons, like a bird of prey, while her body is entwined with serpents.* To Maha Kali is attributed pestilence, rapine, lust, murder, and all the ills of humanity. She is the protectress of murderers, thieves, prostitutes, panders, and all evil doers. Under the name of Bhavani she is the special patroness of the Thugs.[18] The buffalo is sacrificed to her in the absence of a human victim, while the [p.23] Brahminee bull and cow are held in the utmost veneration.*

When the attributes of the Supreme Being began to be viewed in the light of distinct individuals, mankind attached themselves to the worship of one or the other exclusively, and arranged themselves into sects: the worshippers of Shiva introduced the doctrine of the eternity of matter. In order to reconcile the apparent contradiction of assigning the attribute of creation to the principle of destruction, they asserted, that the dissolution and destruction of bodies was not real with respect to matter, which was in itself indestructible, although its modifications were in a constant succession of mutation; that the powers must necessarily unite in itself the attributes of creation and apparent destruction; that this power and matter are two distinct and coexistent principles in nature; the one active, the other passive; the one male, the other female; and that creation was the effect of the mysterious union of the two.

This union is worshipped under a variety of names: Bhava, Bhavani, Mahadeva, Mahamaya, etc. Thus the attribute of creation was usurped from Brahma, by the followers of Shiva, to adorn and characterise their favourite divinity.


This seems to have been a popular worship for a great length of time, out of which sprang two sects: the one personified the whole universe and the dispensations of providence (in the regulation of it) under the name of Prakriti, and which we from the Latin call nature. This sect retains the Shakti only, and were the originators of the Shaktas sect, or worship of Power, before and hereafter to be alluded to. The other sect took for their symbol the male emblem (lingam) unconnected with the female Shakti (or yoni). There was also a third sect, who adored both male and female.

According to Theodoret, Arnobius and Clemens of Alexandria, the yoni of the Hindus was the sole object of veneration in the mysteries of Eleusis.[19] When the people of Syracuse were sacrificing to goddesses, they offered cakes in a certain form, called μυλλοι.[20] In some temples, where the priestesses were probably ventriloquists, they so far imposed on the credulous multitude who came to adore the vulva, as to make them believe that it spoke and gave oracles.* The phallic rites were so well known among the Greeks that a metre consisting of [p.25] three trochees only derived its name therefrom.

In the opinion of those who compiled the Puranas, the Phallus was first publicly worshipped by the name of Basewarra-Linga on the banks of the Cumodoati or Euphrates; and the Jews, according to Rabbi Aeha, seem to have had some such idea, as may be collected from what is said regarding the different earths which formed the body of Adam.[21]


The extraordinary analogy between the Shakti and Eleusinian mysteries is very striking. There is a Greek vase in the Hamiltonian Collection at the British Museum, which represents the purification of a woman who is a candidate for the office of Shakti [p.27] (to use an Indian word). She is about to be initiated into the greater mysteries. This woman is naked and stands near a font, in which her right hand is placed, her body has already been washed with some soapy substance, and scraped with the stirgil which [p.28] is seen near her feet. The priest who assist has a palm branch in his hand, which was sometimes of gold. He finishes the purification by an aspersion, and a prayer adapted to the ceremony.

The painting on another vase in the same [p.29] collection is thus described by D'Hancarville (see plate 29 of his edition of Greek and Etruscan Vases)"La peinture de ce Vase blessé l'honnêtété et la pudeur, on y voit représentées deux Bacchantes toutes nues [p.30] qui vout se laver probablement avec du vin pour oindre leur corps et auprès d'elles un Faune, or Siléne. Ces deux femmes par cette preparation et cette lustration prescrite par la loi se disposent peutêtre a assister aux mysteries de Bacchus. Nous ne rapporterons pas ici les indécences lubriques que se commetorient dans ces brutaux mystares et qui avec fondement on été reprochées aux Gentils par les apologistes de las Religion Chrétienne."[TR]

It has already been remarked that the secret of the Eleusinian Mysteries is supposed to have consisted in the adoration of the yoni, and from the representations of the initiation, just cited, bearing a striking analogy to "the sri chakra, the ring or full initiation," as prescribed by the Tantra referred to by Wilson, even to the washing of the body with wine, leaves but little doubt of the identity of the rites.

The probability that Isis was the Shakti (or Power) of Egypt[22] has already been shown; and how far its adoration was known to the Assyrians is now to be considered.


The numerous terracotta figures and images in ivory, to which Layard has given the general name of Venus (Kun), seem unquestionably to be an impersonation of Shakti, or the female power, as the yoni is rather obtrusively represented in many of these statuettes, while the fissure and other natural appendages are absent in others. In the former not only is the yoni portrayed, but a certain ornament on the mons veneris is curled, precisely in the same conventional manner as is seen in the beards of the male statues in the Assyrian antiquities. While in the latter, the true Venus, the fissure and the appendages are omitted.


One is therefore led to believe that the adoration of Shakti was a prominent feature in the Assyrian worship. And this idea is confirmed by a bas-relief of clay found at Susa, which gives a nude figure having the yoni depicted, and holding in her hands the Argha.[23] The attitude of this figure, and the manner in which the Argha is placed in her hands, resembles in a remarkable manner the images of the Hindu goddess Devi.

Camala or Lakshmi is the Hindu Venus, and generally draped. Radha, assumed to be an incarnation of Lakshmi, (but as the Shakti of Krishna, adored by the Shaktas sects of Radhaballabhis), is invariably nude, with the yoni uncovered.

For representations of (what may be thought to be) the Assyrian Shakti (or impersonation of the female generative principle) the reader is referred to a collection of images in the Assyrian department of the British Museum.

The lingam of the Assyrians was typified by a cone (or the membrum virile in its puerile form), numerous specimens of which were found projecting from the walls of the [p.33] palace at Nimrod, of which examples may also be seen at the British Museum.

The Assyrians do not appear however, (like the Linyonijas of the Hindus) to have worshipped the Shakti in unionas we find it taught in the Tantrasat least no delineations of the male and female conjunction have been found as objects of worship.

Gori, in his splendid work on Etruscan antiquities, gives a plate of two phalli, bearing inscriptions, the form of which objects resemble in too remarkable a degree the Hindu lingam to be omitted here, but whether the square base from which these emblems rise is to be regarded as a yoni cannot readily be determined. However, the Hindu linga are frequently (as at Elephanta for example) mounted on a square base, the base being the yoni.

Paterson has already been cited in confirmation of the assertion that the excitation of "obscene mirth" is a principal object in most of the Hindu plays and sacred mysteries during the festival of Huli and the Dusserah, and the numerous libidines interspersed among the engravings of d'Hancarville's edition of the Hamiltonian Collection of vases prove that such was also the case in Greece and Etruria. However, from the circumstances of Parrhasius being the first painter [p.34] who delineated the representations called libidines in that part of the world, and from the pediments of many of the most antique cave temples of India, containing sculpture of this description, one is led to the conclusion that the practice arose in the East.

The clown and pantaloon of the modem carnival and our pantomimes are simply modified relics of antiquity. Precisely similar characters are found depicted on vases of both Greek and Etruscan workmanship. To suit the taste of that age these actors to their grotesque masks and costumes added an enormous phallus of red leather,[24] which Suidas termed ithyphalli.

The scenes represented on the ancient stage are continued to the present day throughout the East.

The pediments of their temples, both ancient and modem, and their sacred cars are loaded with libidines, many of the combinations being of a most debasing character.

But it must be borne in mind that these representations, whether of the character of theatrical performances or in that of sculpture, were regarded by the ancients as a part of their religious system, as it is now accepted by the Hindus of the present day. [p.35] How far the general character and moral tone of the Hindus will bear comparison with the dwellers in the capitals of Europe is a point which may safely be left to the decision of those travellers who have had an opportunity of visiting and residing among both communities.[25]

Of the practices of the ancients it is now more difficult to form an accurate judgment, nor is it easy to determine the precise period when from the natural corruption of human nature religious observances gradually merged into licentious practices. It is well known that the most able and eloquent writers of antiquity flourished exactly at that period when these innovations had crept in; and that they were most eloquent in denouncing them. Modern notions of the state of the manners and customs of these times are mainly derived from these very denunciations, and such corruptions will always form an integral part of our nature.

We learn from the Vedas, the most [p.36] ancient and authoritative scriptures of the Hindus, that "in the beginning the Breathing Soul (Brahm-Atma) moved upon the face of the waters." "This world," says Manu, "was a chaos, indiscernible altogether, when the Supreme Being manifesting himself in five elements and other glorious forms perfectly dispelled the gloom." As water is thus represented as the vehicle of creation, and the padma or lotus is a water plant from which each god at his birth emerges, it will be seen why this aquatic weed is held to be so peculiarly sacred in the eyes of the Hindus. The lotus is also a symbol of reproduction and generation, the flower of concealment, night, silence, mystery, and regarded with nearly the same veneration as the yoni itself. In the poetical language of the Hindus the padma, under its various appellations, is frequently alluded to, and is held in peculiar sanctity, not only in Hindustan, but in Tibet, Nepal, Siam [Thailand], China, Burma and Ceylon [Sri Lanka], where temples and the images of the gods are decked with it.

The Hindus adore the lotus for other reasons. For example, since it is able to reproduce itself without the assistance of the male pollen, it is a type of the androgynous or hermaphroditic character of [p.37] the deity. For the same reason this plant was also held sacred by the Egyptian priests.

Payne Knight's[26] account of the lotus is interesting. He says, "The lotus is the nelumbo of Linnaeus. It grows in the water, and amongst its broad leaves puts forth a flower, in the centre of which is formed the seed vessel, shaped like a bell or inverted cone, punctuated in the top with little cavities or cells in which the seeds grow. The orifices of these cells being too small to let the seeds drop out when ripe, they shoot forth into new plants in the places where they were formed. The bulb of the vessel serves as a matrix to nourish them until they acquire such a degree of magnitude as to break it open and release themselves. After which, like other aquatic weeds, they take root wherever the current deposits them."

Twelve linga are particularly mentioned in the Kedara Kalpa of the Nandi-upa-purana, as being of particular sanctity. In this Purana Shiva is made to say, "I am omnipresent, but I am especially in twelve forms and places."


These he enumerates as follows:

1. Somanatha, in Samashtra, i.e., Surat.
2. Malikijuna, or Sri Sala.
3. Mahakala, or Ougein.
4. Om'kala. Shrine of Mahadeva (or Great God, a name of Shiva) at Om'kala Mandatta.
5. Amareswarra, in Ujayai, near the Hill.
6. Vaidyanath, at Deoghur in Bengal. (This temple is still in existence, and a celebrated place of pilgrimage).
7.  Ramasa at Setubandha, on the island of Ramissaram between Ceylon and the continent (here the lingam is fabled to have been set up by Rama). This temple is still in tolerable repair, and one of the most magnificent in India, with a superb gateway one hundred feet in height.[27]
8. Bhomasandkara in Dakini, which is in all probability the same as Bhimeswarra, a lingam worshipped at Dracharam in the Raja Mahendri district, and there venerated as one of the chief of the twelve.
9. Not known.
10. Tryambaka, on the banks of the Gomati (Goomtee?)
11. Gantamessa (site uncertain).


12. Kedaresa or Kedaranath in the Himalayas. The last has been frequently visited by travellers.

In each of these temples the only image of Shiva that attracted devotees was a lingam. From this circumstance, and from what has already been adduced, there can be little doubt that the religion of the Shaivas, or followers of Shiva (comprising a large majorities of the Hindus of Bengal) is nothing more than a regular system of phallic idolatry.

According to his followersand he has many even in the DeccanBaswa Basavi or Baswapa, the supposed founder of the faith, only restored the worship of Mahadeva and did not invent it. This man was the son of Madija Raya, a Brahman, and Madevi, his wife, inhabitants of Hinguleswur-pavati-Agraharam, on the west side of Sri Saila, and both devout worships of Shiva (Mahadeva).

In recompense for their piety Nandi, the sacred bull of Shiva, was born on earth, as their son, becoming incarnate in that animal by the command of Shiva, who, on learning from Nareda the decline of his religion and the neglect with which his linga were treated, manifested himself in a miraculous manner to these two devout persons. Shiva in his human form, and accompanied by [p.40] Parvati, his Shakti, came forth from the great Sangameswarra Lingam; thus proving that his divine essence even dwelt in these his emblems.[28]

From this time the adoration of the linga, which had languished, again came into vogue, and, as before observed, is the principle and most venerated of all the Hindu idols in Bengal.

But it is not only the votaries of Shiva who adore their god under the symbolic form of the lingam. The Vaishnavas, or followers of Vishnu, use the same medium. They also are Lingayetts, one of the essential characteristics of which is wearing the type on some part of their dress or person. The lingam is enclosed in a case either of silver or copper, and worn suspended from the neck, or on the arm as a bracelet (cada). These amulets are intended to avert the bad influence of the evil eye and may be compared to the fascinum of the Romans and the jettatura of modern Italy.[29]


The Vaishnavas are divided into many sects. They comprise the Ghoculasthas, the Yonijas, the Ramani and the Radha-ballabis.

The Ghoculasthas adore Krishna, while the Ramani worship Rama. Both have again branched into three sectsone consists of the exclusive worshippers of Krishna, and these only are deemed true and orthodox Vaishnavas.

Under the name of Gopala (the shepherd), Krishna is doubtless the same as the pastoral Apollo who fed the herds of Admetus, surnamed Nomios by the Greeks. The destruction of Python by Apollo signifies the purification of the atmosphere by the Sun from mephitic exhalations consequent on the deluge, and Krishna's victory over the noxious Kalyanaga may be explained in the same manner. In honour of his triumph, games and sports are annually held in India [Huli], as the Pythic games were at stated times exhibited in Greece. Like the Pythian serpent in the temples of Apollo, Kalya narga enjoys also his apotheosis in those [p.42] dedicated to the worship of Krishna. Nor are arguments wanted towards identifying Serpentarius, on our sphere, with his formidable foe and the theatre of the warfare the river Yamuna, with the Via Lactea [Milky Way]. Apollo and Krishna are both said to be inventors of the flute, one was disappointed by Daphne, who was turned into the Laurus, hence sacred to Apollo. Krishna's coy nymph was transformed into the Tulasi, alike sacred to him.

As Parameswarra, Krishna is represented of a black or dark blue colour. Now the Tulasi is the black ocymum, and all animals or vegetables of a black or blue colour are sacred to him. His lingam also is always either black or dark blue, and may thus be distinguished from that of Shiva, which is generally white.

This divinity, as Parameswarra is Jagan'nauth (Juggernaut), or "Lord of the Universe" and it was under the wheels of his sacred car that so many misguided beings annually immolated themselves.

Krishna, from his known amorous propensities, is a peculiar favourite with the Hindu women. To which M. de Langle makes the following naive allusion, in his description of the character of this divinity: "Au reste," he says, "on ne peut douter [p.43] de son extreme penchant pour le beau sexe; car, outre huit femmes, parmi lesquelles la favorite nominee Radha et célébre par ses graces et par sa beauté, il eut 16 mille concubines trouvées toute vierges dans la palais de Bhoum, demon (azoura) à cinque têtes, qu'il tua à cause de ses innoubrable forfaits. Suivant quelques theologiens Hindous, Radha est une incarnation de Lakchmi femme de Vichnon, incarné lui-même sous le nom de Krishna."[30][TR]

To return, however to the Vaishnavas. Another of their sects adores Krishna and his mistress Radha united. These are the Lingionijas whose worship is perhaps the most free of all the pujas. A third, the Radha-ballubhis, dedicate their offerings to Radha only.[31] The followers of these last-mentioned [p.44] sects have adopted the singular practice of presenting to a naked girl the oblation intended for the goddess, constituting her the living impersonation of Radha. But when a female is not to be obtained for this purpose, the votive offerings are made to an image of the yoni, or emblem of the feminine power. These worshippers [p.45] are called Yonijas in contradistinction to the Lingayats or adorers of the Krishna (Vishnu) lingam.

As the Shaivas are all worshippers of Shiva and Bhavani (Parvati) conjointly, so the Vaishnavas also offer up their prayers to Lakshmi-Nayarana. The exclusive adorers of this goddess are the Shaktas.

The cast mark of the Shaivas and Shaktas consist of three horizontal lines on the forehead,[32] with ashes obtained, if possible, [p.46] from the hearth, on which a consecrated fire is perpetually maintained. The adoration of the Shakti[33] is quite in accordance with the spirit of the mythological system of the Hindus. It has been computed that of the Hindus in Bengal, at least three-fourths are Shaktas; of the remaining fourth three parts are Vaishnavas and one Shaivas.

Independently of the homage paid to the principal deities, there are a great variety of inferior beings, dewtas, and demi-gods of a malevolent character and formidable aspect, who receive the worship of the multitude. The bride of Shiva, however, in one or other of her many and varied forms,[34] [p.47] is by far the most popular goddess in Bengal and along the Ganges.

The worship of the female generative principle, as distinct from the divinity, appears to have originated in the literal interpretation of the metaphorical language of the Vedas, in which will, or purpose to create the Universe, is represented as originating from the Creator and coexistent with him as his bride, and part of himself. We read in the Rig-Veda the following: "That divine spirit breathed without afflation, single with (Swadha) her who is sustained within him, other than her nothing existed." Again, "First, desire was formed in his mind, and desire became the original productive seed."[35] The Sáma­Veda also, speaking of the divine cause of creation says, "He felt not joy, being alone. He wished for another, and instantly the desire was gratified. He caused his body to part in twain and thus became male and female. They united and human beings were produced."[36]

Prakriti,[37] the mother of gods and men, [p.48] one with matter, the source of error, is identified one with Maya or delusion,[38] and coexistent with the Omnipotent, as his Shakti, his personified energy, his bride. According to Wilson, "these mythological fancies have principally been disseminated by the Puranas and were unknown anterior to those writings." The whole subject is given in full in the Brahma-Vaivartta Purana (a Purana which is not considered orthodox) under the head of Prakrita Khanda, in which the legends having reference to the modifications of the female principle are narrated. It is further stated in this Purana, that Brahma, having determined to create the universe, became androgynous, male and female; the right half having the sex and form of a man; the left that of a woman. In his images he is sometimes thus represented and is then termed Ardnari. "This is Prakriti of one nature with Brahm: illusion, eternal, as the soul so is its active [p.49] energy, as the faculty of burning is in fire."[39]

In another passage of the Sáma-Veda it is said that Krishna, being alone invested with the divine nature, began to create all things by his own will, which became manifest in Mula-Prakriti.

Wilson asserted[40] that "Krishna is undoubtedly a very modern intruder into the Hindu Pantheon." In what sense the term "modern" is here used it is impossible now to determine, but the fact of Megasthenes[41] having visited a temple of this divinity, whom he calls Hercules, at Mathura on the Jumna, the Matura Deorum of Ptolemy, sufficiently proves that the worship of this divinity was instituted many years antecedent to the Christian era. It is therefore presumed that Wilson spoke in the comparative degree, and intended to imply, that as compared with other portions of the ritual, the Vedas for example, the deification [p.50] of Krishna is modern. However that may be, a worship which, like that of Krishna, has existed for two thousand years may be fairly regarded as part of their religious system.

Although the adoration of the Shakti is authorized by some of the Puranas, the rites and formulae are more clearly set forth in a voluminous collection of books called Tantras. These writings convey their meanings in the similitude of dialogue between Uma (or Shiva) and Parvati.

The followers of the Tantras profess to consider them as a fifth Veda, and attribute to them equal antiquity and superior authority.[42] The observances they prescribe have in Bengal almost superseded the original ritual, but the question of their date is involved in considerable obscurity. From the practices described in some of the Puranas, particularly that of the Diksha, or rite of initiation, from the Agni Purana, [p.51] from the specification of formulae, comprising the mystical monosyllables of Tantras, in that and other similar compilations, and from the citation of some of them by name in different Puranas, we must conclude that some of the Tantras are prior to these authorities.

The Tantras are too numerous to specify. They are found under the headings of Syama Rahasya, Anandra, Rudra, Yamala, Mandra, Mahodahi, Sareda, Tilika, and Kalika-Tantras.[43]

Although any of the goddesses may be objects of the Shakta worship, and the term Shakti comprehends them all, yet the homage of the Shaktas is almost restricted, in Bengal, to the consort of Shiva.* The Varnis or Vamacharis worship Devi as well as all goddesses. Their worship is derived from a portion of the Tantras.

According to the immediate object of the worshipper is the particular form of worship, but all the forms require the use of some or all of the five Makaras[44]: Mamsa, Matsya, [p.52] Madya, Maithuna and Mudra, that is flesh, fish, wine, women, and certain mystical gesticulations with the fingers. Suitable mantras or incantations, are also indispensable, according to the end proposed, consisting of various unmeaning monosyllabic combinations of letters, of great imaginary efficacy*.[45]

When the object of worship is to acquire an interview with, and control over, impure spirits, a dead body is necessary. The adept is also to be alone, at midnight, in a cemetery or place where bodies are burnt. Seated on the corpse he is to perform the usual offerings, and if he do so without fear or disgust, the Dhutas, the Yoginis, and other male and female demons become his slaves.

In this and many of the observance practised, solitude is enjoyed, but all the principal ceremonies comprehend the worship of Shakti, or power, and require for that purpose the presence of a young and beautiful girl, as the living representative of the goddess.[46] This worship is mostly celebrated [p.53] in a mixed society; the men of which represent Bhairavas, or Viras, and the women Bhanravis and Nayikas. The shakti is personified by a naked girl, to whom meat and wine are offered, and then distributed amongst the assistants. Here follows the chanting of the mantras, and sacred texts, and the performance of the mudra, or gesticulations with the fingers. The whole terminates with orgies among the votaries of a very licentious description.[47] This ceremony is entitled the Sri Chakra or Purnabisheka, the Ring or full Initiation*.[48]


This method of adoring the shakti is unquestionably acknowledged by the texts regarded by the Vanis as authorities for the impurities practiced.

The members of the sect are sworn to secrecy, and will not therefore acknowledge any participation in shakti-puja. Some years ago, however, they began to throw off this reserve, and at the present day they trouble themselves very little to disguise their initiation into its mysteries, but they do not divulge in what those mysteries consist.*

The Kularnava Tantra has the following and other similar passages; the Tantras abound with them: "Many false pretenders to knowledge, [p.55] and who have not been duly initiated, pretend to practice the kaula rites; but if perfection be attained by drinking wine, then every drunkard is a saint; if virtue consists in eating flesh, then every carnivorous animal in the world is virtuous; if eternal happiness be derived from the union of the sexes, then all beings will be entitled to it.* A follower of the kaula doctrine is blameless in my sight if he reproves those of other creeds who quit their established observances. Those of the other sects who use the articles of the kaula worship shall be condemned to a metempsychosis during as many years as there are hairs of the body."

The Kauchiluas are another branch of the Shaktas sect. Their "worship much resembles that of the Kaulas. They are, however, distinguished by one peculiar rite not practiced by the others: they throw into confusion all the ties of female relationship. Natural restraints are wholly disregarded, and a community of women among the votaries inculcated."[49]


On the occasions of the performance of divine worship the women and girls deposit their julies or bodices in a box in charge of the guru or priest. At the close of the rites, the male worshippers take each a julie from the box, and the female to whom it belongs, even were she his sister, becomes his partner for the evening in these lascivious orgies.[50]

Dancing formed an important part of the ceremonial worship of most Eastern peoples. Dancing girls were attached to the Egyptian temples, and to that of the Jews. David also, we are told, "danced before the Lord with all his might." And to every temple of any importance in India we find a troupe of nautch or dancing girls attached.

These women are generally procured when quite young, and are early initiated into all the mysteries of their profession. They are instructed in dancing and vocal and instrumental music, festivals. But this is not the only service required of them, for their chief employment being to chant the sacred hymns, and perform nautches before the god, on the recurrence of high besides being the acknowledged mistresses of the officiating [p.57] priests, it is their duty to prostitute themselves in the courts of the temple to all comers, and thus raise funds for the enrichment of the place of worship to which they belong.

Being always women of considerable personal attractions, which are heightened by all the seductions of dress, jewels, accomplishments and art, they frequently receive large sums in return for the favours they grant, and fifty, one hundred, and even two hundred rupees have been known to be paid to these sirens in one night. Nor is this very much to be wondered at as they comprise among their number, perhaps, some of the loveliest women in the world.

It has already been said that among the classes from which a medium for Shakti is selected, is the courtesan and dancing-girl grade. They are indeed more frequently chosen for this honour than the others before enumerated. A nautch woman esteems it a peculiar privilege to become the Radha Dea on such occasions. It is an office indeed which these adepts are, on every account, better calculated to fulfil with satisfaction to the sect of Shakteyas who may require their aid, than a more innocent and unsophisticated girl.

The worship of Shakti (as already observed) [p.58] is the adoration of power[51] which the Hindus typify by the yoni or womb, the argha or vulva, and by the leaves and flowers of certain plants thought to resemble it. Thus in the Ananda Tantra, ch. 6:13, we find an allusion to the aswattha, or sacred fig-tree (the leaf of which is in the shape of a heart, and much resembles the conventional form of the yoni, to which it is compared).

"Aswattha patra sadrusam Yoniáciáram cha bhàjànam.
Támra, rúpya, suvaruaistu rachitam tal prasasyate."

In Ananda Tantra, ch. 7:148, and other passages, reference is made to Bhagamala. She appears to be the goddess who presides over the pudendum-muliebre, i.e. the deified vulva; and the shakti is thus personified.

In the mental adoration of Shakti a diagram is framed, and the figure imagined to be seen inside the vulva. This is the Adha-mukham or lower face, i.e., the yoni, [p.59] wherein the worshipper is to imagine (mantapam) a chapel to be erected.[52]

All the forms of shakti-puja require the use of some or all of the five makaras[53]: mamsa, matsya, madya, maithuna and mudra, that is flesh, fish, wine, women and certain mystical twistings or gesticulations with the fingers.

Such are some of the peculiar features of the worship of power (or Gnosticism)[54], and which combined with the linga-puja (or adoration of the phallus), constitutes at the present day one of the most popular dogmas of the Hindus.









[1] "Trimurti, 'three formed,' murti signifying also an image. Our vital souls are, according to the Vedanta, no more than images or ειδωλα of the Supreme spirit."Asiatic Researches, vol. 3.*

[2] Puranas, the modem scripture of the Hindus, as distinguished from the Vedas or more ancient scriptures.

[3] Wilson, 'Hindu Sects'Asiatic Researches, vol. 17.

[4] Asiatic Researches, vol. 17, pp. 208-10.*

[5] Ghaut, "a high place," applied to a pass, such as the Laulpet Pass, where the traveller ascends from the campaign country to the table-land of the Deccan: also, and in this instance, signifying an artificial "high place," constructed either of stone or marble, with an immense flight of steps leading down to the river. There are numerous Ghauts or Ghâts, of this description on the banks of the Ganges, where the banks are too high to allow the people to approach the stream with safety.

[6] De Langle is in error here. The Panchaty, as its name implies, consists of five, not seven lamps.

[7] Monuments Anciens et Modems de 1'HindoustanL. L. de Langle; Paris, 2 vols., fol., 1810.

[8] Sir W. Jones' Works, vol. 2., p. 311.* "It is unattended in Upper India by any indecent or indelicate ceremonies."—Wilson, 'Hindu Sects,' Asiatic Researches, vol. 17.

[9] Asiatic Researches, vol. 8.

[10] Plutarch, de placit. philosoph.

[11] Joinville, Asiatic Researches, vol. 7.

[12] Trailoyeya-Derpana.

[13] The three words Amba, Nabbi and Argha seemed to have caused great confusion among the Greek mythologists, who even ascribe to the earth all the fanciful shapes of the argha, which was intended at first as a mere emblem. Hence they represent it in the form of a boat, of a cup, or of a quoit with a boss in the centre, sloping towards the circumference where they place the ocean.Agathemerus, book 1.1.
Others describe the earth as a square or parallelogram, and Greece was supposed to lie on the summit, with Delphi in the navel, or central part of the whole.Pindar, Pythian Odes, 6. Euripides, Ion, v., 233.
While the Jews, and even the early Christians insisted that the true navel of the earth was Jerusalem, and the Mohammedans Mecca. The argha is a type of the Adhara-Shakti, or Power of Conception, exerted and vivified by the lingam or phallus, one and the same with the ship Argo, which was built, according to Orpheus, by Juno and Pallas, and according to Apollonius, by Pallas and Argos, at the instance of Juno.Orpheus, Argonautica, v., 66, Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, bk. 2, 5, 1190. Asiatic Researches, vol. 3.*

[14] Asiatic Researches, vol. 8.

[15] "Now that Osiris is none other in reality than the great principle of fecundity, is further evident from their manner of celebrating the Pramylia (a festival, which has been before observed to bear a resemblance to the Priapeia of the Greeks*) in which they carry about in procession and expose to public view a statue of the God with a triple phallus signifying hereby that he is a first principle, and that every such principle, by means of its generative faculty, multiplies what proceeds from or is produced by it."Plutarch, Of Isis and Osiris, 36.

[16] Asiatic Researches, vol. 8. [Paterson.]

[17] Bhayanana, one of the names of this goddess, is the same as Phoebe (Φοιβη).

[18] Thugs: Robbers who always strangle their victims previous to plundering them.*

[19] Demosthenes, 'On the Crown'.

[20] Apuleius, [The Golden Ass,] p. 802.

[21] Gemara Sanhedrim, c.30, cited by Ryland.

If reference be made to chap. iv., vol. iii., of Lewis' Origines Hebrae, much curious information will be found regarding the "Idolatry of the Hebrews," which not only plainly shows that they adored Phallus, but goes far to confirm the hypothesis that the object of veneration in the Ark of the Covenant was the emblem itself, or a type of it.
At p. 23, vol. iii., we read that "The most ancient monuments of idolatry among the Gentiles, were consecrated Pillars (linga?) or columns, which the Hebrews were forbidden to erect as objects of divine homage and adoration." Yet he adds, "This practice is conceived to arise from an imitation of Jacob, who took a stone and set it up," etc. Again, "This stone was held in great veneration in future times by the Jews and removed to Jerusalem." They were accustomed "to anoint this stone, and from the word bethel, the place where the pillar was erected, came the word Baetylia among the heathen, which signified rude stones which they worshipped, either as symbols of divinity or as true gods animated by some heavenly power." Indeed, it would seem not improbable that the erection of the pillar of Jacob actually gave rise to the worship of the Phallus among some of the pagan peoples. "For," says Lewis, "the learned Bochart asserts that the Phoenicians (at least as the Jews think) first worshipped this very stone which Jacob anointed, and afterwards consecrated others," etc.
It is to little purpose that we are reminded that the Jews were forbidden by their law to "make unto themselves any graven image," for, as Lewis shows in the following passage, there may be exceptions to this, as to every other rule.
"Notwithstanding," he says, "the severity of the Law against the making of Images, yet, as Justin Martyr observes in his book against Trypho, it must be somewhat mysterious, that God in the case of the Brazen serpent should command an image to be made, for which he says, one of the Jews confessed he never could hear a reason from any one of their Doctors."
The brazen serpent continued to be worshipped by the Jews, and to have incense offered to that Idol, till the reign of Hezekiah:

"For it being written in the Law of Moses, 'whosoever looks upon it shall live,' they fancied they might obtain blessings by its mediation, and therefore thought it worthy to be worshipped. Our learned Dr. Jackson observes, 'that the pious Hezekiah was moved with the greater indignation against the worship of this image, because in truth it never was a type of our Saviour, but a figure of his grand enemy,'" etc.

Then we find the Jews relapsing into idolatry by the adoration of the golden calf, set up too, not by a few schismatics, but by the entire people, with Aaron at their head. The calf superstition was doubtless a relic of what they had seen in Egypt in the worship of Apis and Minervis. Next we have the golden calves set up by Jeroboam at Dan and Bethel.
Then follows (Judges 8:22, etc.) the worship of  Gideon's Ephod.

"Then Ephod made by Gideon with the spoil of the Midianites became after his death and object of idolatry."ibid., p. 41.

We have also Micah's Images and Teraphim.
The Samaritan Temple upon Mount Gerizim. "The Jews accuse the Samaritans of two instances of idolatry committed in this place: the first, that they worshipped the image of a dove; the other, that they paid divine adoration to certain Teraphims or Idol Gods that were hid under that mountain."ibid., p. 55.
We learn from St. Jerome (who received it by tradition from the ancient Jews, and indeed it is so stated in Numbers 25:1, 2, etc.; 23:28, and numerous other passages of the Old Testament), that the Jews adored Baal Phegor (Baal Pheor), the Priapus of the Greeks and Romans. "It was," he says, "principally worshipped by women colentibus maxime foeminis Baal Phegor, ob obsceoeni magnitudinem, quem nos Priapum possumus appellare."
"The Adoration," Maimonides observes, "made to this idol called Pehor, consisted in discovering the mons veneris before it."
Chemosh (probably the same as Baal Pheor) also received the homage of the Jews, as did Milcom, Molech, Baal berith (or Cybele), and numerous others.
From all this it will be seen that the Jews fell into idolatry and phallic idolatry too; consequently there will not appear anything so very startling in the supposition that the Ark of the Covenant contained a phallus. We have seen that the Stone of Jacob was held in peculiar "veneration," and was "worshipped" and "anointed": we know from the Jewish records that the ark was supposed to contain a table of stone, and if it can be demonstrated that the stone was phallic, and yet identical with the sacred name Jehovah, or Yehovah, which, written in unpointed Hebrew with four letters, is IEVE or IHVH (the He being merely an aspirate and the same as E), this process leaves us the two letters I and V (or in another of its forms U). Then, if we add the I in the U, we have the "holy of holies," we also have the lingam and the yoni and argha of the Hindus, the Iswarra or "Supreme Lord," and here we have the whole secret of its mystic and arc-celestial import, confirmed in itself by being identical with the linyoni of the Ark of the Covenant.
In Gregorie's Works ('Notes and Observations upon some Several Passages in Scripture', vol. 1, London, 1684.), pp. 120-21, is a passage to the effect that "Noah daily prayed in the Ark before the Body of Adam," i.e., before the phallus (Adam being the primitive phallus, great protector of the human race).
"It may possibly seem strange," he says, "that this orison should be daily said before the body of Adam," but "it is a most confessed tradition among the Eastern men that Adam was commanded by God that the dead body should be kept above ground till a fullness of time should come to commit it to the middle of the earth (Mount Moriahthe Meru of India) by a priest of the Most High God."
"This body of Adam was embalmed and transmitted from father to son, till at last it was delivered up by Lamech into the hands of Noah." Again, "The middle of the Ark was the place of prayer, and made holy by the presence of Adam's body."ibid., p. 121. "And as soon as ever the day began to break, Noah stood up towards the body of Adam, etc., and prayed."
To return, however, to the tables of stone, and to the Pillar of Jacob. Our modern notion of their form is a diagram, or in other words, two headstones placed side by side. Now if we alter the position a little, allowing one to recline horizontally, surmounted by the other perpendicular, we shall obtain a complete lingam and yoni, the "Sacred Name" of the Holy of Holies before mentioned, and the Pillar of Mast in the argha or boat as represented in the Ark of the Egyptians. The treatment of the wings in the supporting doves, on each side of this ark, conveys to us a pretty correct idea of where the Hebrews obtained their Cherubim or Seraphimonly substituting a human head and body fro the birds.
Upon consulting the Hebrew dictionary of Gesenius we shall find the word aroun and aron signifying an ark, a chest. In Genesis 1:26 the word is used as a mummy chest, or coffin, for Joseph in Egypt. The ark of the covenant might in the same way be called the Coffin.
For the above reasons it is concluded that the object of veneration in the Ark of the Covenant, of the Jews, was a phallus.

[22] "Now Universal Nature, in its utmost and most perfect extent, may be considered as made up of these three things, of Intelligence, of Matter, and of that which is the result of both these, in the Greek language called Kosmosthe first of these is the same with what Plato is wont to call the Idea, the Father; to the second of them he has given the name of the Mother, the Nurse and the place and Receptacle of generation; and to the latter of them that of the offspring and the Productionso again with regard to the Egyptians there is good reason to conclude that they were wont to liken this Universal Nature to what they called, the most beautiful and perfect Triangle; the same as does Plato himself in that nuptial diagram, etc. Now in this Triangle which is rectangular, the perpendicular side is imagined equal to three, the base to four, and the hypotenuse, which is equal to the other two containing sides, to fivein this scheme we must suppose, that the perpendicular is designed by them to represent the masculine nature, the base the feminine, and that the hypotenuse is to be looked upon as the offspring of both; and accordingly the first of them will aptly enough represent Osiris, or the prime cause; the second Isis, or the receptive power; the last, Horus or the common effect of the other two."Plutarch, Of Isis and Osiris, 66.

[23] Originals in the British Museum.

[24] Ruber Porectus.Horace.

[25] One of the most accomplished Oriental scholars of our times, to whom the public is indebted for a Telegu dictionary, and a translation of the Bible into the same language, a resident for thirty years in India, has recorded his judgment that, on the questions of probity and morality, Europeans (notwithstanding their boasted Christianity and morality) as compared with the Hindus "have not much to boast of."

[26] A Dissertation on the Worship of Priapus, London, 1786.*

[27] See the print in Monuments de l'Hindoustan, by M. de Langle. Also Daniel's plates, Indian Antiquities.

[28] Mackenzie's Collections, vol. 2, Halukanara MSS.

[29] "Sequuntur turpia atque obscena quaedam fascina exaere, quae Etruscae feminae collo suspensa gerere consueverunt, ut sibi fecunditatem a Priapo Deo facilius impentrarent. Ea etiam persaepe taurius capiti adiuncta sunt: quae etiam puerorumcollo tamquam remedium praebiave appenderunt, loco amuleti et fascini, quod Plinius infantium custodem adpellat(Pliny, Natural History, bk. 28.104)Horum plane ingens numerus tota Etruria in Museis obvius est: e quibus antiquis reliquiis, summam pudendamque fuisse veterum Etrusorum superstitionem, probe dignoscere licet."Museum Etruscum exhibens insignia, etc., Antonio Franscisco Gori, vol. 2, p. 141, A.D. 144.

[30] Monuments Anciens et Modern de 1'Hindoustan.

[31] Radha, Radhica, or Rukmeni, the favourite mistress of Krishna, was one of the nine gopis (shepherdesses or milkmaids), the inseparable companions of this deity. She is an avatar, or incarnation of Lakshmi or Camala, the spouse of Vishnu, the universal mother of Nature, and the impersonation of female beauty. She is the type of religion and spiritual love to the deity. Her characteristics are set forth in the Gita Govisida and Gita Radhica Krishna, the latter poem bearing a most striking resemblance to the Canticles.
The loves of Krishna and Radha, which in the writings of the Hindus are constantly adverted to, are said to mean in their emblematic theology, the reciprocal attraction between the divine goodness and the human soul; and we are told at large in the tenth book of the Bhagavat Gita. In like manner is the Bhagavat Gita regarded by the Brahmins, though it apparently consists of a dialogue between Krishna and his follower Arjuna, we are informed that in this instance Krishna is to be regarded as the Supreme Being, Arjuna as the human soul. This mysticism abounds in all their writings, but is not peculiar to the Hindus. It is questionable whether any of their sacred writings contain one-half of the mysticism to be found in the Apocalypse of St. John.
"The separate sects or religious systems that we find among Hindus should never be confounded. The creed that honours Vishnu-Krishna as the Beneficent Power is quite separate from the demon worship in which Shiva­Mahadeva is adored: and beyond this is the Tantra system of magic and the destroying powers. Rukmeni is the wife, not mistress, of Krishna. The wedding is described in the Bhagavat Gita which is a canonical scripture. In a later age Radha, the mistress, not wife, of Krishna, is the heroine of a heretical work, the Devi Bhagavat, or Tale of the Good Goddess. She is declared to be Nature, the mother of all beings. The naked worship is quite separate and appertains to the Tantrika of black magic. The Brahma Vaivartta Purana, the Kalika Purana and some others are disowned by the orthodox Hindus as works of authority, who pin their faith on the Mahabharata, Bhagavata, and Ramayana. All the other Puranas are rejected." [Note; these passage in quotation marks is obviously a quote from a source unreferenced by Sellon, a source yet to be identified.]

[32] The question of sectarian marks seems to have engaged the attention of Maurice. He says, "There was another remarkable symbol of Taut or Mercury, prevalent in Egypt as well as in India. It was the letter T, or in other words, the cross or Crux Hermis, in which form we find many of the more ancient pagodas of India, as Benares and Mattra, erected, and many of the old Egyptian statues, as is well known to antiquaries, are represented bearing this symbol in their hand or on their breasts. D'Hancarville, and the generality of the mythologists, explain this symbol as referring to the gross physical worship to which the ancients were so greatly addicted, and as an emblem of Jupiter Generator (or Priapus), or the deity in his creative capacity, in Ancient Egypt and India, and which Mr. Bruce frequently met with in his travels through the Higher Egypt and Abyssinia. I have elsewhere observed the very singular manner after which the Latin Vulgate, and according to Lowth, probably the ancient copies of the Septuagint, have rendered the original of that passage in Ezekiel 9:4, I will set a mark upon their forehead; rendering it in their version, 'I will mark them on the forehead with the letter Tau;' which affords room to suppose it was a symbol of a more sacred import than is generally imagined, etc."Maurice, Indian Antiquities, pp. 44, 45, London 1801.

[33] Shaktya Rites among Mussulmans.
According to Buckingham, "Between Zohaub and Kermanshah there are a people called Nessereah, who, like those of the same name in Syria, pay divine honours to the ancient pudendum muliebre and hold feasts resembling the mysteries of Venus."

[34] In alluding to Bhavani (Parvati) as distinguished by a variety of names implying nature, and among others using that of Shakti (a word that is usually, and in this treatise, rendered Sacti [in this edition correctly given in main body of text]), Paolino in his Voyages, p. 327, gives an account of the Magma Mater of the Hindus: "She changes," he says, "and transforms herself into a thousand shapes, and appears sometimes as a man, and sometimes as a woman. Her votaries paint the medhra" (in Bengal called yoni) "which is represented by two side strokes and a red one in the middle" (on the forehead). "This mark represents the womb of Bhavani" in its conventional form.Paolino's Voyage to Malabar.

[35] Asiatic Researches, 8. 393.

[36] Idem, 8. 426.

[37] Prakriti is inherent Maya, because she beguiles all beings.Asiatic Researches, 17.

[38] On the basis of Minerva's statue at Sais, whom the Egyptians regarded to be the same as Isis, a goddess who bears so striking an analogy to the Hindu prakriti or nature, there was this inscription: "I am every thing that has been, that is, and that shall be: nor has any mortal ever yet been able to discover what is under my veil."Plutarch, Of Isis and Osiris, sect. 9.

[39] Thus in the Kuma-Purana, ch. 12, we read, "His energy, being the universal form of all the world, is Maya, for so does the Lord, the best of males, and endowed with illusion, cause it to revolve. That Shakti of which the essence is illusion is omniform and eternal, and constantly displays the universal shape of Mahesha."

[40] Asiatic Researches, 17, pp. 214-20.

[41] See Arrian, Indian History, ch. 8, also Strabo.

[42] Thus in the Shiva Tantra, Shiva is made to say, "The five scriptures issued from my five mouths, and were the East, West, South, North and Upper: These five are known as the paths to final liberation. There are many Scriptures but none are equal to the Upper Scripture." Kulluka Bhatta, commentating on the 1st verse of the 2nd ch. Manu, says, "The Scruti is twofold: Vaidika and Tantrika, that is Tantra."

[43] See the Sanskrit copies of the Tantras in the British and India Museums.

[44] They are enumerated in the Syáma Rahasya. "Mudra and maithuna are the fivefold makara which takes away all sin."

[45] "It is the combination of H and S called Prásáda Mantra, and described in the Kulárnava."Wilson, Asiatic Researches.

[46] The female thus worshipped is ever after denominated yogini, i.e., "attached." The Sanskrit word is in the dialects pronounced yogi or zogee: and is equivalent to a secular nun, as these women are subsequently supported by alms. The word from custom has become equivalent with Sena and thus is exactly the same as Dun or Dutica (doo-ty-car). The books of morality direct a faithful wife to shun the society of a yogini, or females who have been adored as Shakti.
The Shakti system bears a striking affinity with Epicureanism. It teaches materialism, and the atomic system of chance. (Compare the Ananda Tantram, c. 17 with Lucretius, bk. 3.)
The worship of women and the Shakta h'oma vidhi are grounded on passages in the Veda which orthodox Brahmins regard as of doubtful authority. (See Rig Veda, bk. 2, ch. 8, sections 13, 14, 2nd attham, 8th pannam, ricks B.14, which contain the Sucla Homa Mantram, etc).

[47] Wilson, 'Hindu Sects', 17, Asiatic Researches.

[48] Ward, on the Vaisnavas, p.309.
The leading rites of the Shakti Sadhana are described in the Devi Radhasya, a section of the Rudra Yámala. It is therein stated that the object of worship should be either, "A dancing girl, a female devotee, a courtesan, a Dhobee woman, a barber's wife, a female of the Brahminical or Sudra tribe, a flower girl or a milkmaid. Appropriate mantras are to be used. She is to be placed naked, but richly ornamented with jewels and flowers, on the left of a circle described for the purpose, with various mantras and gesticulations, and it is to be rendered pure by the repetition of different formulas, being finally sprinkled over with wine by the peculiar mantra.
The shakti is now purified, but if not previously initiated, she is to be further made an adept by the communication of the Radical Mantra whispered thrice in her ear, when the object of the ceremony is complete. The finale is what might be anticipated, but accompanied throughout by mantras, and forms of meditation very foreign to the scene."Wilson, Asiatic Researches, 17, p. 225, 'Hindu Sects.'

[49] This sect appears in the Sankara Vijaya as the Uchchishtha Ganapati or Hairamba sect who declare that "all men and all women are of one caste, and that their intercourse is free from fault."see Ward's Works, vol. 2, p.5, on the above subject.Wilson, 'Hindu Sects,' ibid, vol. 17.*

[50] Yet these Shakteyas (or adorers of Shakti) look upon all but themselves as "pasu jana" mere brutes!

[51] In Egypt we learn that Typhon sometimes bore the name Seth, by which they mean the tyrannical and overbearing power or, as the word frequently signifies, the "Power that overturns all things and that overleaps all bounds."Plutarch, Of Isis and Osiris, 36.

[52] Ananda Tantram.

[53] See note 44 above and page 51.

[54] Simon Magus is supposed to be the founder of Western Gnosticism, he it was who corrupted the Nicolaitanes (see Apocalypse 2:6,15). They held sensual pleasure to be the true creed.
In the Foreign Quarterly Review, pp. 159, 580, the following passage occurs: "The grand object of the magic of the Christians in the middle ages was to obtain command over the service of demons: such were the pursuits of witches. But these were always looked upon as criminal, the belief that men possess the power to control spirits was not peculiar to the Gnostick Christians. The liturgies of the Roman and Greek churches contain several rules on these subjects."
The memoirs of Scipio di Ricci, Bishop of Pistoja, reveal some remarkable facts, plainly demonstrating that Shakteya ideas had found their way into the monasteries and convents of Italy in the latter part of the last century.





Aeha, Rabbisee Ryland.
Agathemerus, A Sketch of Geography in Epitome.

Agni Purana.
Anandra Tantra (The Tantra of Bliss).
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica.
Apuleius, The Golden Ass.
Arrian, Indian History.
Asiatic Researches of the Society of Bengal, or Transactions of the Society instituted in Bengal for inquiring into the History and Antiquities, the Arts, Sciences and Literature of Asia. Calcutta, 1788-1839. 20 vols.
Bartolomeo, Fra. Paolino di San, A Voyage to the East Indies: Containing an Account of the Manners, Customs, &c., of the Natives, with a Geographical Description of the Country. Collected from Observations made during a residence of thirteen years, between 1776 and 1789. London, 1800.
Bhagavat Gita.
Bhatta, Kulluka, commentary on the Laws of Manu.
Buckingham, Sir James Silk, Shaktya Rites among Mussulmans.
Daniel, Indian Antiquities.
Demosthenes, On the Crown.
Devi Bhagavat, or Tale of the Good Goddess.
Devi Radhasyasee Rudra Yamala.
Euripides, Ion.
Foreign Quarterly Review.
Gemara Sanhedrimsee Ryland.
Gori, Antonio Franscisco, Museum Etruscum exhibens insignia, etc., Florence, 2 vols., 1737.
Gregorie, John. The Works of John Gregorie, in two parts; the first containing Notes and Observations upon several Passages in Scripture, the second his Posthuma. The Fourth edition, corrected. London. 1684.
Halukanara MSS.see Mackenzie.
Hancarville, Pierre-Francois, Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities from the Cabinet of the Hon. Wm. Hamilton, His Britannic Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary at the Court of Naples, Naples, 4 vols., 1766.
Horace, Ruber Porectus.
Joinville, 'On the Religion and Manners of the People of Ceylon,' Asiatic Researches, 7 (1801), 398-445.
Jones, Sir William, Works, ed. A.M. Jones, London, 8 vols., 1801.
Kulanava Tantra.
Knight, Richard Payne, An Account of the Remains of the Worship of Priapus lately existing at Isernia, in the Kingdom of Naples: in Two Letters ... to which is added, A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus and its connexion with the Mystic Theology of the Ancients, Spilsbury: London, 1786.
Langle, L.L. de, Monuments Anciens et Modems de 1'Hindoustan, Paris, 2 vols., 1810.
Lewis, Thomas, Origines Hebrae; the Antiquities of the Hebrew Republic in four books, design'd as an explanation of every branch of Levitical Law, and of all the ceremonies of the Hebrews, both civil and sacred. London, 1724, 25.
Mackenzie, Collections, 2 vols.
Mahodahi Tantra.
Mandra Tantra.
Maurice, Thomas, Indian Antiquities, or, Dissertations Relative to the Ancient Geographical Divisions, the Pure System of Primeval Theology, the Grand Code of Civil Laws, the Original Form of Government, the Widely Extended Commerce and the Various and Profound Literature of Hindostan: Compared, throughout, with the Religion, Laws, Government and Literature of Persia, Egypt and Greece. The Whole Intended as Introductory to the History of Hindostan, upon a Comprehensive Scale. Galabin: London, 1793-1801, 7 vols.
Orpheus, Argonautica.
Paterson, 'On the Origin of the Hindu Religion,' Asiatic Researches, 8 (1808), 44-88.
Pindar, Pythian Odes.
Pliny, Natural History.
Pluche, Abbé Noel Antoine, Le Spectacle de la Nature, ou entretiens sur les particularités de l'histoire naturelle, etc. Paris, 1732-51, 8 vols.
Plutarch, de placit. philosoph.
Plutarch, Of Isis and Osiris.
Potter, Louis Joseph Antoine de, Memoirs of Scipio di Ricci. Edited from the original of M. de Potter by T. Roscoe. London, 1829, 2 vols.
Ptolemy, Geography.
Rig Veda.
Rudra (Yamala) Tantra.
Sankara Vijaya.
Sareda Tilika Tantra.
Siva Tantra.
Strabo's Geography.
Sucla Homa Mantramsee Rig Veda.
Suidas. Σουιδας. Suidæ Lexicon, Græce et Latine. Tertum Græcum cum manuscriptis codicibus collatum ... Purgavit, notisque perpetuis illustravit: versionem Latinam Æ. Porti ... correxit; indicesque ... adjecit L. Kusterus. Cambridge, 1705, 3 vols.
Syama Rahasya Tantra.
Wilford, Francis. 'On Egypt and other countries ... from the ancient books of the Hindus,' Asiatic Researches, 3, (1792), 295-463.
Wilson, Horace Hayman, 'On Hindu Sects,' Asiatic Researches, vol. 17.
Yamala Tantra.




A Complete Bibliography of Sellon's Works


1. Herbert Breakspeare. A Legend of the Mahratta War. London: Whittaker and Co., Ave Maria Lane. And sold by A. Wallis and R. Folthrop, Brighton, 1848. 8vo., 143 pages.
2. Gita-Radhica-Crisna, A Sanscrit Poem. Ed. and tr., E. Sellon. London, 1850. (From the Bhagavat Purana.)
3. Adventures of a Gentleman, c.1865. (Unpublished MS, was at one point in the hands of the printer Dugdale, but probably destroyed at a later date.)
4. Annotations on the Sacred Writings of the Hindus, being an Epitome of Some of the Most Remarkable and Leading Tenets in the Faith of that People. London: MDCCCLXV. (Printed for private circulation). Printed by H. Weede, 13a High Road, Knightsbridge. 8vo., 72 pages.
5. 'The Confessions of a Single Man,' c.1865. (Unpublished short story.)
6. 'The Delights of Imagination,' c.1865? (Ditto.)
7. 'On Linga Puja, or Phallic Worship of India,' Memoirs of the Anthropological Society, vol. I (1865).
8. The Monolithic Temples of India. London, n.d. (1865?)
9. The New Epicurean; or the Delights of Sex, Facetiously and Philosophically Considered, in Graphic Letters Addressed to Young Ladies of Quality. A New Edition. London: 1740 [actually; Wm Dugdale, 1865]. Reprinted 1865. 8vo., 92 pages. 500 copies £1 11s. 6d. (There was another edition, printed by Brancart, Brussels, 1875. Small 8vo., 117 pages.)
10. Scenes in the Life of a Young Man, a Narrative of Amorous Exploits. c. 1865. (Unpublished MS, originally sent to the printer Dugdale after Phoebe Kissagen as Sellon considered this effort to be better, but probably now lost.)
11. Selections from the Decameron of Giovanni Boccacio. Including all the Passages hitherto Suppressed, etc., Translated from the Italian [by Sellon]. London, MDCCCLXV. Large 8vo. viii, 78 pages.
12. The Adventures of a Schoolboy. London, 1866.*
13. The New Ladies' Tickler, or Adventures of Lady Lovesport and the Audacious Harry. London, 1866.*
14. Phoebe Kissagen; or the Remarkable Adventures, Schemes, Wiles and Devilries of Une Maquerelle being a sequel to the 'New Epicurean, etc.' London: 1743 [actually; Wm Dugdale, 1866]. 8vo., 96 pages. (This was reprinted London, 1875 [January, 1876].)
15. 'Some Remarks on the Sacti Puja, or the Worship of the Female Powers,' Memoirs of the Anthropological Society, vol. II (1866).
16. The Ups and Downs of Life. A Fragment. London: printed for the booksellers [by Wm Dugdale], 1867. Sub-titled: My Life: the Beginning and the End. A Veritable History. 8vo., 110 pages with 7 coloured lithographs and title pages by Sellon.
17. The Index Expurgatorious of Martial, tr. and ed., E. Sellon (and others). London, 1868.
18. Cythera's Hymnal. London, 1870. (Collected by Sellon who also contributes two poems; 'Chordee' and 'No More.')
19. The Amorous Prowess of a Jolly Fellow, or His Adventures with Lovely Girls Related by Himself. Brussels: A Brancart, 1892. (A reissue of Ups and Downs of Life. This was also supposed to have been translated into Frenchnot one copy is known to exist.)
20. Memoires d'une procureuse anglaise. Traduits pour la premiere fois de l'anglais par les soins de la societe des bibliophiles cosmopolites. Londres. Imprimerie de la societe cosmopolite. MDCCCIXCII. Small 8vo. 136 pages. (A translation of Phoebe Kissagen, translator unknown.)
21. Annotations on the Sacred Writings of the Hindus...etc, of that people, illustrating their Priapic Rites and Phallic Principles. A New Edition. London: Printed for Private Circulation, 1902. (As previous edition, but repaginated to 59 pp.)
22. The Sensual Epicurean. Addressed to Ladies of Quality. New York: Olympia Press, 1961. (A reissue of The New Epicurean.)
23. The Ups and Downs of Life. With an introduction by C.J. Scheiner. New York, 1987.
24. The New Epicurean. (Sellon) & The Yellow Room (Anon.). Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.
25. The Ups and Downs of Life. With an introduction by C.J. Scheiner. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.
26. Annotations on the Sacred Writings of the Hindus, etc. Rhwym Books, Cambridge, MA., 1997. (This reissue purports to be a reprint of the original edition. It is not. It contains many faults, a few omissions, is badly edited, and is of poor quality. Avoid.)

(The two titles, no's 23 and 24, are part of the excellent Wordsworth Classic Erotica series which, amongst others, contains some of the classics of Victorian/Edwardian erotic writing, at a very cheap price. Well worth checking out.)

* Works of dubious authorship. Possibly written by Sellon, but more than likely by himself and others, e.g. James Campbell Reddie has been cited as a good possible candidate. As most of the Victorian pornography of this period went under anonymous authorship it is difficult to determine who exactly wrote what. Not even our good friend H.S. Ashbee can help us in these matters. He gives Sellon for these two works in his Index Librorum Prohibtorium (London, 1877), yet others give Reddie. There is no conclusive evidence either way. The artwork is generally considered to be by Sellon.





Joscelyn Godwin, The Theosophical Enlightenment, State University of New York, Albany, p. 23:

Another book that kept the phallic theory alive was Sellon's Annotations on the Sacred Writings of the Hindus (1865). Captain Edward Sellon (1817/18-1866) was a naval officer who took advantage of his posting in India to gain a wide experience of native women. A thorough atheist, his violent life ended in suicide, leaving behind a poem to his mistress with the epigram "Vivat Lingam. Non Resurgam." [Ashby, Index Librorum Prohib. 1877, 379-96.] Appropriately enough, it was Sellon who took in hand the arrangement of Knight's phallic objects in the British Museum. [Jennings, 1884, xxv.]

His reconstruction of the history of religions begins with the monotheistic worship of Brāhm Atma, "Breathing Soul." In time, he says, this was given the material emblem of a phallic stone, as symbol of the productive power. Next came the adoration of the elements, especially fire; then polytheism entered with the worship of the three emanations Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The almost universal tendency to deify heroes, creatures, the heavenly bodies, and every attribute of the Supreme Being, from Love to Murder, led to the historical religions, including those demanding human sacrifice. Besides drawing on the Asiatic Researches, Sellon relates the practices of the Hindus to the current craze for Mesmerism or animal magnetism ... for example in his closing sentence: "During Puja, the Yogini is supposed to be in a magnetic s1eep, wherein like the Sibyls among the Ancients and modern clairvoyants, she answers questions in a delirious manner, and is supposed to be for the time inspired by the deity." Annotations, p. 71.]

Sellon makes a special point of the phallic nature of the Hebrew religion, of the name JHWH as a graphic emblem of the sexual organs and the Ark of the Covenant as what he calls a "Linyoni," concluding that there was no people more obsessed with every sexual perversion than the Jews. [Ibid., 27-28n, 66.] Similar views would reappear with H. P. Blavatsky ... who wrote in one of the essays destined to complete her Secret Doctrine that "in its hidden meaning, from Genesis to the last word of Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch is the symbolical narrative of the sexes, and is an apotheosis of Phallicism, under astronomical and physiological personations." [BCW, 14, 177.]

Lysebeth, p. 268, The Tantric Ritual:

Let's consider the facts starting from testimonies, the first stemming from a quite uncommon man by name Edward Sellon. "Born in 1818, the son of a gentleman of moderate fortune whom I lost when quite a child." Sellon adds, in his autobiography, The Ups and Downs of Life, that as a consequence of this early bereavement he was "designed from the first for the army" and, when still only sixteen years of age, he went to India where, on October 27th, 1834, he was gazetted as an Ensign in the 4th Madras Native Infantry. Sellon seems to have enjoyed his ten years in India, taking a more than average interest in native social, religious and sexual lifeparticularly the latter"In his rather short life (less than half a century!), he has been not only a soldier, but a coach driver, a fencing-master and a pornographer." (Francis King, Sexuality Magic and Perversion, London, 1971, p. 11).

He wrote in his autobiography, The Ups and Downs of Life:

I now commenced a regular course of fucking with native women. The usual charge for the general run of them is two rupees. For five, you may have the handsomest Mohammedan girls, and any of the high-caste women who follow the trade of a courtesan. The 'fivers' are a very different set of people from their frail sisterhood in European countries; they do not drink, they are scrupulously cleanly in their persons, they are sumptuously dressed, they wear the most costly jewels in profusion, they are well-educated and sing sweetly, accompanying their voices on the viol de gamba, a sort of guitar, they generally decorate their hair with clusters of clematis, or the sweet scented bilwa flowers entwined with pairs of diamonds. They understand in perfection all the arts and wiles of love, are capable of gratifying any tastes, and in face and figure they are unsurpassed by any women in the world.

It is impossible to describe the enjoyment I experienced in the arms of these syrens. I have had English, French, German and Polish women of all grades of society since, but never, never did they bear a comparison with those salacious, succulent houris of the far East.



XII. On the Phallic Worship of India. By Edward Sellon, Esq.

(From Memoirs Read Before the Anthropological Society,
vol. 1, pp. 327-34, 1864.)

The subject to which it is proposed to direct attention this evening is the worship of Phallus, or Linga puja, which still prevails, and has prevailed in so many ages in India and elsewhere.

It is to be remarked that the adoration of the Lingam in that vast continent of Asia, unlike the more subordinate, and in some respects ridiculous worship of Priapus in vogue among the Greeks and Romans, constitutes to this day one of the chief, if not the leading dogmas of the Hindu religion. It may indeed be affirmed that there is scarcely a temple in India which has not its Lingam, and in numerous instances this symbol is the only form under which the deity of the sanctuary is worshipped. It has been the practice of missionaries to burke the question of Linga puja, from a mistaken and false delicacy. It is trusted, however, that the members of the Anthropological Society will not be offended if, in the consideration of this subject, a spade is called a spade, and not a rake or a hoe. We will, therefore, now proceed to discuss the emblem, its appearance, nature, and attributes.

The Linga, then, is a smooth, round black stone, apparently rising out of another stone, formed like an elongated saucer, though in reality sculptured from one block of basalt. The outline of the latter, which calls to mind a Jew's harp (the conventional form of the pudendum muliebre) they term Argha or Yoni. The former (or rounded perpendicular stone) the type of the virile organ, is the Linga. The entire image, to which the name Lingioni is given, is also generally called Lingam.

This representation of the union of the sexes (for conventional though it be in shape, it is neither more nor less), typifies the divine sacti, or active energy in union, the procreative [p. 328] generative power seen throughout nature; the earth being the primitive pudendum or yoni, which is fecundated by the solar heat, the sun,—the primeval Lingam to whose vivifying rays, man and animals, plants, and the fruits of the earth owe their being and continued existence. Thus, according to the Hindus, the Linga is God and God is the Linga; the fecundator, the generator, the creator, in fact.

These Lingas vary in form and size in a very considerable degree. Worn as amulets or charms against the influence of the evil eye, enclosed in small silver reliquaries affixed to the breast or arm, they are minute, sometimes not larger than a bean. The domestic Lingams average some three or four inches in height, and occasionally have the bull Nandi (the Wahan of Siva) carved out of the same piece of basalt; sometimes placed opposite the spout, or perineum end of the yoni, sometimes at the side of the emblem.

There appears to be ground for supposing that the Hindus imagine that the bull will intercept the evil, which, as they say, is continually emitted from the female sacti. Thus, when the Linga is set up in a new village, they are particular in turning the spout of the yoni towards the jungle, and not upon the houses or roads, lest ill fortune should rest upon them.

As every village has its temple so every temple has its Lingam, and these parochial Lingams are usually from two to three feet in height, and rather broad at the base. Here the village girls who are anxious for lovers or husbands, repair early in the morning. They make a lustration by sprinkling the god with Gunga pawne (or water brought from the Ganges); they deck the Linga with garlands of the sweet smelling bilwa flower; they perform the mudra, or gesticulation with the fingers, and, reciting the prescribed muntrus, or incantations, they rub themselves against the emblem, and entreat the deity to make them the fruitful mothers of pulee-pullum (i.e., child fruit.)

This is the celebrated Linga puja, during the performance of which the panchaty, or five lamps must be lighted, and the gant'ha, or bell, be frequently rung to scare away the evil demons. The mala, or rosary of 108 round beads, is also [p. 320] used in this puja. The Lingas found in the monolithic temples of India are of enormous size: in some instances forty feet in height and twenty-five in circumference. They are usually Lingas only, planted on a square base, and not sculptured, as in modern specimens, in conjunction with the Yoni.

As in Christendom, during the dark ages, there were certain shrines to which the superstitious multitude flocked with offerings, and to which they made painful pilgrimages, so the Hindus have their favourite shrines of the Lingam. Thus, twelve Lingas are particularly mentioned in the Kedara Kalpa of the Nahdi-upa-Purana as being of transcendent sanctity. In this purana Siva is made to say, "I am omnipresent, but I am especially in twelve forms and places;" these he enumerates as follows:

1. Somnatha in Sa-mash-tra, i.e., Surat.
2. Mali-ka-juna, or Sri Saila.
3. Maha-kala, or Ougein.
4. Om'kala, shrine of Mahadeo (or great God, a name of Siva), at Om'kala-mandatta.
5. Ama-res-warra, in U-ja-yai, near the hill.
6. Via-dyan'ath, at Deoghur, in Bengal (this temple is still in existence, and a celebrated place of pilgrimage.)
7. Ramasa, at Setabundha, on the Island of Ramissaram, between Ceylon and the continent (here the Linga is fabled to have been set up by the God Ram or Rama. This temple is still in tolerable repair, and one of the most magnificent in India, with a superb gateway 100 feet in height).
8. Bho-ma-sand-kara, in Dakosmi, which is in all probability the same as Bhi-mes-warra, in the Raja-mahenda district, and there venerated as one of the twelve.
9. Not known.
10. Try-am-bakuu, on the banks of the Gomali; meaning, most likely, the Ghoomtee.
11. Gantamessa; site uncertain.
12. Ke-da-re-sa, a Kedara'nauth, in the Himalaya. The last has been frequently visited by travellers.

In each of these temples, the only image of Siva, or Mahadeo, that attracted devotees was a Lingam.

[p. 330]

From this circumstance there can be little doubt that the religion of the Saivas, or followers of Siva, is nothing more than a gross system of Phallic idolatry.¹

It is true that Siva, as the third person of the Hindu Trimurti, is the Destroyer, but he has also his creative attributes. For it would appear that when the attributes of the Supreme Being began to be viewed in the light of distinct persons, mankind attached themselves to the worship of the one or the other exclusively, and arranged themselves into sects. In India the followers of Siva introduced the doctrine of the eternity of matter. In order to reconcile the apparent contradiction of assigning the attribute of creation to the principle of destruction, they asserted that the dissolution and destruction of bodies was not real with respect to matter, which was indestructible itself, although its modifications were in a constant succession of mutation. That the power must necessarily unite in itself the attributes of creation and apparent destruction, that this power and matter are two distinct and co-existent principles in nature; the one active, the other passive; the one male, the other female; and that creation was the effect of the mystic union of the two.

This union, which they term Arda-nari (a name which, signifying man-woman, seems to point to the androgynous character of the Deity), is adored under various names; Bhava, Bhavani, Mahadeva, Mahamaya, etc. To those who may feel interested in the doctrine of the eternity of matter, a perusal is recommended of a learned treatise by Dr. Büchner, under the title of Force and Matter, published by Trübner of Paternoster Row. This interesting work places the subject before the reader quite in a new light. In the opinion of those who compiled the Puranas, Phallus was first publicly adored by the name of the Base-warra Linga on the banks of the Cumŭdaoti, or Euphrates.

The supposed founder of the worship (as we learn from the [p. 331] Halakanara MS. in Mackenzie's Collections), was Baswa Uasava, or Baswapa, the son of Madijah Rajah, a Brahmin, who with his wife, Madevi, inhabited the town or district of Hingnleswurparbuttee-agaharam, on the west side of Sri Saila, and both devout votaries of Mahadeo, or Siva. From an inscription on the great Singaleswarra Linga (one of the twelve), and also on one at Keneri, carved in rilievo in the rock commemorative of the event, it appears that, in approval of this Puja, the great god and goddess manifested themselves to these devoted followers by springing, in a miraculous manner, from the before-mentioned emblem, while the Brahmin and his spouse were in the act of devotion; and we behold in this relievo these persons in a kneeling posture, recessed at the base of the Lingam.

But it is not only the votaries of Siva who adore their god under the symbolic form of Phallus. The Viashnawas (or followers of Vishnu) use the same medium. They also are Lingayetts—one of the essential characteristics of which is wearing the Ling on some part of their persons. It is either of silver, copper, gold, or beryl; the fascinum of the Romans, and the jettatura of modern Italy. The Viashnavas are divided into many sects, whose object of worship, though alike appertaining to all, is adored in a more or less gross manner, according to the practice of the particular one to which they belong. They comprise the Goculasthas, the Yonijas, the Ramani, and the Radha-ballubhis, an account of some of whose practices it may, perhaps, be interesting to notice.

The Goculasthas adore Krishna, while the Ramani worship Ramchunda; both have again branched into three sects,—one consists of the exclusive worshippers of Krishna, and these only are deemed true and orthodox Viashnavas (Krishna being an avafa, or incarnation of Vishnu).²

As Parameswarra, Krishna is Jaganath (or Lord of the Universe), and represented black, the apparent colour of ether, or [p. 332] space. The Krishna Lingas are consequently, also, of the same colour, those of Siva being white. The Lingionijas adore Krishna and Radha united (in coitu,). The Radhaballubhis dedicate their offerings to Radha only (as the Sacti, or energy of Vishnu). They worship a naked girl, presenting to her the offerings intended for the goddess; in other words, the girl acts the part of Radha, in the same manner that some young girl may have been selected to take the part of the Virgin Mary in the religious plays or mysteries of the Middle Ages.³ When these people are travelling, or on a voyage, and a female is not to be obtained for this purpose, their oblations are made to the Yoni (i.e. to an image of the pudendum muliebre). Hence they are called also Yonijas, as being worshippers of the female Sacti, or power,—in contradistinction to the Lingayetts, or adorers of Phallus. As the Saivas are all votaries of Siva and Pawatee (or, under their more popular appellations, Mahadeo and Bowarnee); so the Viashnavas also offer up their orisons to Laksmi-Nayarana. The exclusive adorers of this goddess are Sactas. The ceremonial worship of this sect is exceedingly free; it is described at large in the Tantras.

The adoration of Sacti (or the sexuality of the god and goddess) is quite in accordance with the spirit of the mythological system of the Hindus; and the form with which it is invested, considered as the especial object of veneration, depends upon the bias entertained by the individual. It has been computed that of the Hindus of Bengal, at least three-fourths are Sactas; of the remaining fourth, three parts are Viashnavas and one Saiva,—all, of course, after their manner, being consequently adorers of Phallus.

The worship of the female generative principle, as distinct from the deity, appears to have originated in the literal interpretation of the metaphorical language of the Vedhas, in which Will, or purpose to create the universe, is represented as originating from the Creator, and coexistent with him as [p. 333] his Sacti (or bride), or part of himself. The Sama Vedha, speaking of the divine cause of creation, says, "He experienced no bliss, being isolated,—alone. He ardently desired a companion, and immediately the desire was gratified. He caused his body to divide, and became male and female: they united, and human beings were made." This first manifestation of divine power they term Ichcha pupaa, or "desire personified" and the Creator is designated Swechchamaya, "united with his own will." Sacti is always alluded to as Maya (delusion), one with Prakritoi (or nature). "She," says the Prakriti-Khanda-purana, "is one with Maya, because she beguiles all beings."

Mr. Paterson—who has treated the subject of Lingapuja at large in the eighth volume of the Asiatic Researches—states, "that the idea of obscenity was not originally attached to these symbols; and that it is likely the inventors themselves might not have foreseen the disorders which the worship of Phallus would occasion amongst mankind." Whether the western nations derived the Culte de Phallus from India, is a question which cannot now be decided with any degree of
certainty; but assuming such to have been the case, this superstition in all probability travelled via Egypt to Syria, and may have been thereafter adopted by the Greeks and Romans.

From what the Rabbi Aeha says (in the Gemara Sanhedrim, c. XXX, as cited by Ryland) respecting the different earths which formed the body of Adam, it would appear that the mysteries of this worship were not unknown to the Jews, and were to a certain extent cultivated by them. According to Theodoret, Arnobius, and Clemens of Alexandria, the pudendum (or Yoni) was the sole object of veneration in the mysteries of Eleusis; for we are informed that when the people of Syracuse were sacrificing to goddesses, they offered cakes formed like the vulvæ, called μνλλοι; and in some temples, where the priestesses were probably ventriloquists, they so far imposed on the credulous multitude who came to adore the image of the female power (or Yoni), as to make them believe that it spoke and gave oracles!

The Argo of the Greeks, the Cymbium of Egypt, and the [p. 334] Argha (or Yoni) of India were all represented by a cup or boat;—Osiris of Egypt standing in a boat; Noah in his ark, or Argha; and Iswarra, "lord of the boat-shaped vessel," rising from the Yoni, have all possibly one common origin; viz., the Linga and Yoni in mysterious conjunction. There would also now appear good ground for believing that the ark of the covenant, held so sacred by the Jews, contained nothing more nor less than a Phallus, the ark being the type of the Argha or Yoni.

To sum up the information which has recently been obtained on this interesting topic,—interesting because it relates to the earliest worship practised by man,—it may, in conclusion, be remarked, that the Culte de Phallus prevailed not only amongst the Hindus, Assyrians, Babylonians, Mexicans, Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans in ancient times, but that it still forms an integral part of the worship of India, Thibet, China, Siam, Japan, and Southern Africa, and possibly further researches will prove, in numerous other countries also.


FN1 But the separate sects, or religious systems, that we find among Hindus, should never be confounded. The creed that honours Vishnu-Krishna as the Beneficent Power, is quite separate from the demon-worship in which Siva-Mahadeva is adored: and beyond this again is the Tantra system of Cuajic, and the Destroying Power.
FN2 It must here be observed, however, that many of these sects and practices are disowned by orthodox Hindus, who pin their faith on the Bhabaratah, Bhagavata, and Ramayan, and reject all the other Puranas.
FN3 This naked worship is peculiar to the Sactas, and appertains to the Tantrica, or black magic. Those who adore Krishna as an emanation of Vishnu, abhor the Tantras and Devi Bhagavat.



XIX. Some Remarks on Indian Gnosticism, or Sacti Puja
the Worship of the Female Powers
. By Edward Sellon, Esq.

(From Memoirs of the Anthropological Society,
Vol. 2, pp. 264-76, 1866.)

Fanaticism, no matter to what creed it may appertain, has, in all ages and countries, paved the way for licentiousness. Thus, the austere principles inculcated by both the Saiva and Vaishnava Codes of the ancient Hindu faith, have by degrees merged in numerous subordinate sects, and led to the formation of various fantastic creeds.

Not the least curious of these creeds is the Sacteya (pronounced Sharkt-ya), to which it is proposed, on the present occasion, to direct your attention.

The worshippers of Sacti, or power, who possess numerous books in Sanscrit verse, have been gaining ground in India for some years, but have lately sustained a check at Bombay,¹ which may ultimately lead to their suppression. The Sacteya creed professedly acknowledges Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, and all goddesses and demi-gods, but declares them all to be subordinate to the great goddess, who is emphatically power. The creed is set forth in the remarkable and recondite volumes called Tantras, books, some years since, almost sealed to foreigners, but a translation of which has at length been obtained. Some extracts from these books will be introduced into this paper.

The word Tantram signifies literally art, system, craft or contrivance; prescribing the abolition of all caste, the use of wine, flesh, and fish (which the Brahminical code considers unlawful for Brahmins), with magical arts, diagrams, and the express adoration of the female sex. The Sacta sect is, in fact, what the Greeks called Telestica or Dynamical and like [p. 265] gnosticism, inculcates great contempt of the acknowledged religion, the peculiarities of which are only alluded to as matter for ridicule. Like gnosticism, it teaches magic, and looks upon the causes and agents of evil as the gods of the world. Let it not be supposed, however, that the creed of the Sacteyas is a religion of a modern date; the Brahmins look upon the books describing it as undoubtedly ancient, more ancient, indeed, than the Purans. The most popular of these books are comprised in the following, to which are here given equivalent titles, most of them have been translated:—

  1. Sarada Tilacam—The Masterpiece.
  2. Jyan Arnavam—A System of Wisdom.
  3. Cula'narvam—The Noble Craft of Thought.
  4. Gudha Gula'navam—The Hidden Part of the Noble Art.
  5. Bagala Tantram—The Litany of the Vulva.
  6. Ananda Tantram—The System of Joy.
  7. Rudra Yamalam—Conversations of Siva and his Spouse.
  8. Yogini Hriolayam—The Heart of the Angel This is also called Yoni Tantram.
  9. Siv' Archana Chaudrica—Rules for the Worship of Blooming Girls.
    [In the Calpam, cc. iii and iv, is a description of every limb of a woman, with the Madan a'layam, and how they should be adored.]
  10. Lyam' Archana Tarangini—The System of Worshipping a Girl.
  11. Anand Calpa Valli—The Rites of Delight.
  12. Tantra Saram—Summary of the Craft.
  13. Tantra Bajam—Illustrations of the Sublime Art: and numerous others.

The system advocated in these books is termed Panchamacaram. In other words, the five mystical M's, in allusion to the five words beginning with M, viz., Madya, Mamsa, Matsya, Mantra, Mithuna, i.e., wine, flesh, fish, magic, and lewdness; which have reference to the following as a proposed means for the attainment of beatitude in the next world:

  1. A total freedom from caste and distinctions of every kind.
  2. A liberty of eating flesh and fish, and drinking wine.
  3. Promiscuous sexual enjoyment.
  4. The practice of magic, and the adoration of women.
  5. The worship of demons and Yogini, i.e., Powers.

The Sacteyas are divided into two sects: the Daxin'ácháram (or right hand), and Vámácharam (or left hand). Each sect renounces the established religion, and declares the worship [p. 266] of women supreme, every woman (according to them) being a Sacti, or image of the great goddess. Their rules for fasting, bathing, and prayer, are to the full as irksome as with the Brahmins themselves. The person worshipped is a woman or girl of the Brahminical caste (among the Daxin'ácháram), who is elegantly dressed, and adorned with jewels and garlands. One, three, or nine females are to be thus adored by one or more men; but in the left hand mode, there is only one girl and one worshipper.

In such sects, it is required that the woman be looked upon as actually and truly a goddess (for the time), and that the devotee is to regard himself as really the divinity who is worshipping her. Curses are denounced on him who looks upon her as a woman, or himself as a mortal, during the performance of the rite. In each sect, the professed object of the Puja is the attainment of long life, offspring, riches, or other blessings, or else the destruction of an enemy by magical means. Magical rites are used in both sects; and all the quaint ceremonies described in Horace, Lucan, and Virgil, regarding magic, correspond exactly to the rules in the Tantras. Sitting in a cemetery, fasting, procuring pieces of a corpse at the waning of the moon, erecting a diagram a triangle, square, or octagon and therein inscribing the name of the person to be destroyed or the object to be accomplished, with other rites, are described with great minuteness; yet these magical rites are not necessarily connected with the worship of the good goddess, but may be and are practised by even Mohamedans.

The Vámácharam sect veil in deep mystery the rites which they practise. They commence by fasting and bathing, like the Daxin'ácháram; but many of their observances are of a less innocent nature. The great feast, called Siva Ratri, is the period of the year when the Hindu worship of Venus is to be performed: other days are also named in their code besides the Siva Ratri, or Dussera. The person who wishes to perform the sacrifice is to select a beautiful young girl of any caste, a pariah, a slave, a courtesan, or nautch girl, would be preferred. She is called Duti, or "angel messenger," or con- [p. 267] ciliatrix, being the medium of intercourse between the worshipper and the goddess. She is also called Yogini, or nun,literally, "one who is joined". The Yogini Hridayam, or "Heart of the Nun", is a book well known to these sectaries; it is usually known by the name Yoni Tantram, or, "Ritual of Vulva "Worship", Yogini being used as an occult name of Yoni (pudendum muliebre). It is a peculiarity that no widow, however young and lovely, is ever selected. After fasting and bathing, she is elegantly dressed and seated on a carpet. The five actsalready mentioned in alluding to the letter Mare then performed in order, and the votary erects a magical diagram and repeats a spell. These diagrams are diverse. The spell called Agni Puram has for a diagram a "volcano", i.e., a double circle, and therein a triangle, doubtless the same with the atish kadr, or "house of fire." Spells are always used. The devotee next meditates on her as Pracriti (Nature), and on himself as a deity. He offers prayer to her, and then proceeds to inspire her in each particular limb with some one goddess, of the host of goddesses. He adores, in imagination, every individual part of her person, and, by incantation, lodges a fairy in every limb and member, and one in the Yoni, as the centre of delight. The names of the female sylphs addressed to her are not very delicate, and need not be here further alluded to. Then follows the second, third, and fourth M; i.e., he presents her with flesh, fish, and wine. He makes her eat and drink of each, and what she leaves he eats and drinks himself. He now strips her entirely naked, and strips himself also. He recommences to adore her body anew in every limb; from this the rite is often termed Chacra Puja, or worship of the members. He finally adores the Agni Mandalam (pudendum muliebre) with reverent language, but lewd gesticulations. The chapters on this rite, as contained in the Ananda Tantram, the Rudra Yamálam, the Jyan Arnávam, and the Cula'navam, are very singular.

The Homam and Yagnia are known to be the most sacred rites of Hinduism; and from these liturgies every consecrated expression is borrowed and adopted, in a manner so extremely indelicate that it strikes a European reader with the utmost [p. 268] astonishment. For example, in the Ananda Tantra we read"special rites are used to divest her of all shame, and shame can only be annihilated by the use of wine" (viii, 46, 48); and in the Acasa Bhairava Tantra [c. 50, Ucchhishta³ Ganajpati], the following passages occur (Latin rendering):

1. "Spisso minio rubentem, nudge puellee visum cupientur | fceminae vulvas oris gustum exoptantem libidini devotum.|
2. "Lasva parte Sactim deam collocantem semper complexu sedule | suis pedibus fidentibus (i.e., to those who trust in him).
3. "Concupita fructuosa condonantem | corporeali forma structum status naturalem omnes beatitudines condonantem | rosaa Sinensi magis rubentem variis ornatu comptum. |
4. "Nodum et uncum gerentem Deum a divis honoratum | Puella temporum ad latus pendentem novo amore [recubantem] juncturn.
5. "Sonan habens elephantinas dentes, auribus facto vento prehensum quoad dentem a puella succulentos Dea humeros binos prendentem."

Again, in the Sri Vidya, which enjoins secrecy:

"Such was the rule, sung by the inspired prophets, | For those who adore the young and lovely Sacti, | Revealed to none but the initiated few. | Keep it concealed, like the rosy lips that pout | Between the recess of thy thighs, O Goddess. | Hide this creed, so pure so excellent, | As closely as you hide your vulva cleft. | O hide this code of bliss, lady, from vulgar eyes."

Again, in the Agni Mandalam [the volcano]: "Let the fuel of sacrifice be her decorations; let the altar of sacrifice be her middle; the pit of her navel is the hearth, and her mouth the ceaseless fire; the south point her chin; her rosy hand the spoon; let the Sabhya and Avasadlya be the two sides of the same. The holy name is the moist vulva. [p. 269] The fuel is collision (because fire is produced by friction), and the Lord Linga is the great high priest."

Again, in the Cama Cala,

1. "Let us laud the God and Goddess Racta (Parvati) and Sucla (Siva), ever glorious! Primary, noblest of fanciful blisses, | without compare! highest in glory, which is comprehended by the wise alone. |
2. "To the great and Holy one, accomplished in voluptuous movements, elevated in enjoying! | The tejas compounded of blood and semen; to him I bow! | Praise him, the supreme Lord of delight! noblest in faith, the only bliss of my soul (Madia jádmam), the most secret Vedha, veneration.
4. "The bliss of all men, exalted on his throne. | To Siva, my Lord, soul-viewed, the form of bliss, the glorious! may he, with his slant glance, remove the foulness of mistrust. | By the holy art of enjoyment was the blessed science called amorous, aroma invented. How can it be denominated? The unmentioned," etc.

[Then begins the book called The Spirit of Sexual Joy.]

(Latin rendering.)

1 . "Cunctorum mandorum origine statu, fatuque, confictum gaudium hac in beatitudine acerrimum Quod interno animo conspicitur! Me tu catur, omnium Princeps! corpus quod habet mero splendore confictum!

(Some of this is passed over as merely introductory.)

3. "Comminem per coitum Sivi et vis | generatum semen et germinationem efficta est Ilia Magna Podestes. | Unspeakable, incomparable in form, | inexpressible by writing, by figure, or by image. |

[Thus far the introduction.]

4. "That sun, the supreme Siva (i.e., Sucla), whose rays are reflected in the heart, that in reflecting the glorious beauty, receives the great seed.
5. "That sense of individuality which is inherent in the mind, clearly expressed in the term a'ha'rnam [A denotes Siva, i.e. semen; and ha denotes Sacti, i.e., power, typified by blood, the two are united by the mystic word.]
6. " Whiteness (semen) and redness (blood) when their re- [p. 270] spective fluids are united, a word and its import; so are united creation and its cause, mutually collocated and indivisible.
7. "The fluid is the source of individuality, and the (portion) abode of the sun is therein; and Cama (or Cupid) being the attractive power, is the Cula (spirit), and is the enjoyment.
8. "This is the discrimination of Cula (male and female joined in coitu), and is equivalent with Sri Chacra. He who knows to distinguish them is the freed, and shall assume the form of the great Tripuri.
9. "There is distilled from the red Sacti the mystical sound clim, which is denominated Nada Brahma, and the sound is audible; from it originate the ether, wind, and fire, and the terrestrial decade.
10. "Next, from the fluid thus made known, spring wind, fire, water, and earth, all the universe, from an atom up to a sphere.

*    *    *   *   *

13. "The three great powers are those of Desire, of Knowing, of Loving, and of performing the act.
14. "And in the same order are three Lingas, of tangible (Sthula) spiritual bodies, and visionary and this is Tripura, triple; and the fourth is the art.
15. "Sound, touch, form, taste, and smell, and the essential qualities of each multiplied by the three gunas (qualities) of Prithoi.
16. "Hence originates the Spell of fifteen syllables.
17. "And there are fifteen Tithis.
18. "On the letters, consonants, and vowels.
19. "The art is magic; the object is the goddess.
20. "From letter Y to letter S there are three forms.
21. "Between the chacra (members) and the goddess it is impossible to draw any distinction before the spiritual body is evolved.
22. "In the centre of the chacra let the mystic fluid be; this is the essential fluid.
23. "The three that are formed from the triple root," etc., etc.

From the passage here cited, it will be seen how closely the [p. 271] Sacteya rites resemble those practised by ancient Pagan peoples; they are expressly forbidden in the Mosaic law. "Ye shall not eat anything with the blood, neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times." Lev. xix, 26. "Giving his seed unto Moloch." "Who commit whoring after idols. Turning after familiar spirits, to go a whoring after them." Lev. xx, 2, 6.

The diagram, also, discovered by Cicero, on the tomb of Archimedes, appears identical with one of those spells used in the Sacti Puja, "The apex of the triangle is downwards, with a point in the centre."

In India, the adorers of the goddess regard the mystical ring, or circle, as the orifice of the vagina, while the triangle represents the nymphae; the dot represents the fairy lodged in this member. When the imagination of the Sacti is sufficiently excited by wine, divine homage, and libidinous excess, she is supposed to be in a guyána nidra, or mystic sleep, wherein, like the sibyls among the ancients and modern clairvoyants, she answers questions in a delirious manner, and is supposed to be for the time the mouthpiece of the deity. The omen chiefly desired is that emission may happen to the female before copulation; but whether it happens before or not, it is received in a cup of consecrated wine, to which is added a morsel of flesh and of fish. This cup is then offered to the goddess, and the rite is concluded.

Such is the Sacti Puja, or worship of Power. Power here meaning the good goddess Maya (delusion); she is also called Bagala, Vagala, and Bagala Mukhi. She has neither images nor pictures, and is usually typified by a vessel of water. The girl who performs Sacti (for the time) is the only true representative of the goddess.

The Eleusinian mysteries bear a very striking analogy to the Sacteya; and those writers err who have asserted that the mysteries of Eleusis were confined to men. A reference to D'Hancarville4 will give several instances of the initiation of women. The method of purification, portrayed on antique [p. 272] Greek vases, closely resembles the ceremony as prescribed in the Sacti Sadhana. From this circumstance, and also from the very frequent allusions to Sacteya rites in the writings of the Jews and other ancient authors, it is evident that we have now in India the remains of a very ancient superstitious mysticism, if not one of the most ancient forms of idolatry in the Sacti, or Chacra Puja, or worship of power.


The author of the foregoing paper cannot bring it to a conclusion without saying a few words regarding the sources from which his information has been in the main derived. It would have afforded him great pleasure to have given the name of the very learned orientalist from whose valuable MSS. he has so largely drawn; but that gentleman made it an express condition that his name should not appear. It only remains, therefore, to add that he was a member of the Madras Civil Service for thirty years, a judge, and a man of letters, whose authority in all matters relating to the Hindus, their literature, and religion, is, in the strictest sense, reliable. At the same time his views, although in the main adhered to, have been in some instances departed from and modified, and the opinions of numerous other writers, ancient and modern, engrafted upon and incorporated with them.

A few Remarks in Reply to an Attack5 on a Paper published in
the first volume of Memoirs of the Anthrop. Soc, entitled
"Linga Puja."
By Edward Sellon, Esq.

The anonymous writer of the article in question objects,

1st. That there is nothing Phallic in the worship of Vishnu.
2nd. That Buddhism is in no way connected with the worship of Phallus.
3rd. That the notion of the Ark of the Covenant of the Jews, containing a phallus, is wild, absurd, and improbable.

To these objections, the following answer may be given: First, with reference to Vishnu. The Vishnavas (or fol- [p. 273] lowers of Vishnu) do not, it is true, adore the Linga in its masculine capacity, they being Yonijas, or worshippers of the female Sacti, or Power. Now the Lingam represents not the male emblem only, but also the female, which the Hindus term Yoni; and I submit that the worship of the female organ of generation is to the full as "phallic" as the male. Sir William Jones (vide Works, vol. ii, p. 311) says, "It seems never to have entered into the heads of the Hindu legislators and people, that anything natural could be offensively obscene, a singularity which pervades all their writings, but is no proof of the depravity of their morals: hence the worship of the Linga by the followers of Siva, and of the Yoni by the followers of Vishnu." The writer of the article in the Ethnological Journal is counselled to read what Moor (in his Hindu Pan.) says of Vishnu, both under that head and also under the heading "Krishna." He will also derive instruction from a perusal of Wilson on Hindu Sects in the As. Res. I can only say that I have absolutely seen a great many black lingams dedicated to Krishna (avarta of Vishnu).

Secondly, with regard to Buddhism. "Colonel Sykes, in his Account of the Ellora Excavations (near Poonah, in the Bombay Presidency), speaking of the Bisma Kurm, says, 'The first thing that meets the eye on entering the temple is the enormous hemispherical figure of the Ling (Lingam) at the end of the cave; it is always found on this scale in the arched Boodh excavations, and even at Tuneer, in a flat-roofed cave (also Buddhist), this emblem is forty-two feet in circumference though its height is inconsiderable.'"6 Here, at all events, are two temples dedicated to Buddha, in which the Lingam is found, vouched for by a respectable authority. Now, let us see what can be said with respect to the phallic-worship of Buddha in Japan and in China.

Mr. Adam Scott, a Chinese merchant, who visited Japan last year, states, that "they are Buddhists; but the name they give the god is Die Bootes, not Boodh or Buddha, though his images are precisely like those of that divinity in China." [p. 274] While in Japan he visited the phallic temple of Azima, situated on an island twenty miles west of Yokahama, accompanied by Admiral Kuper, and other officers of H.M.S. They found the temple on the summit of a "high hill," in the midst of a sacred "grove." On the altar they beheld a large Phallus of stone, while a vast number of smaller size, and of wood, lay strewn around. Mr. Scott supposes that these latter may have been votive offerings. He brought home to England two specimens of these Phalli; and they may be seen by the curious at the museum of George Witt, Esq., F.R.S., together with a carefully executed drawing of the temple, and the picturesque hill on which it stands. Dr. Dawson states that "he has seen women making votive offerings of Phalli at a Buddhist temple in Pekin." This is confirmed by Mr. Adam Scott; and there is a vast mass of evidence both in images, in drawings, and in MSS. (in the same museum), proving to the satisfaction of any reasonable man that the Phallic worship does exist in connexion with Buddhism, not in India only, but in Japan and China. At Siam, this worship is also known, and is alluded to in Ruschenberger's Voyage of U.S. Ship Peacock, in 1836, 1837, and 1838.

Lastly, I offer a few observations on the Ark (of the Covenant, so called). I have said in my paper on the Linga Puja, read before the Fellows of the Anthropological Society, that "there would also now appear good ground for believing that the Ark of the Covenant, held so sacred by the Jews, contained nothing more nor less than a Phallus," etc. I now proceed to give the grounds upon which I founded that supposition, for be it observed, I asserted nothing. Bishop Colenso has clearly shown that the Syrian name of Baal (Yahveh) was absolutely the same as that of the Jewish God; that the Jews probably took the name from the Pagan nations around them [as before then they called their God Elohim]; that both names had the same signification, Yaveh or Yakveh [or Jehovah], "he makes to live," or "he makes to be" (that is, he fructifies, fecundates, generates).7 The names, [p. 275] therefore, being identical, and the attributes identical, I conceive that I am justified in considering that Jehovah and Baal, or, in other words, the Syrian Yahveh and the Jewish Yahveh, were, in point of fact, one and the same deity, though not worshipped with the same images or ceremonies,the Pagans exhibiting their Yahveh, or Baal Pehor, to the people "on every high hill, and under every green tree;" the Jews mysteriously concealing their Yahveh in an ark or coffer. That being my opinion, I have, in support of it, first, to prove what sort of a God this Yahveh, Yakveh, Jehovah, or Baal Peor, was; and having demonstrated that, I must then establish that it was a custom for other Pagans to have sacred arks as well as the Jews; and secondly, prove what it was those arks contained.

Yahveh, the Syrian god, was also called Baal, Baalpeor. Baal signifies "erect", "upward". Peor signifies "open", "spread". Now let anyone examine one of the unadorned stone Lingams (in the Indian Museum, Whitehall), and I say that he will there see in that Indian idol a veritable representation of the Baalpeor of the Bible, viz., the Yoni, "open", "spread", and the "erect" Linga in the centre. "So, again, with regard to the Egyptians", says Plutarch, "there is good reason to conclude that they were wont to liken this universal nature to what they called the most beautiful and perfect triangle; the same as does Plato himself in that nuptial diagram, etc. Now, in this triangle which is rectangular, the perpendicular side is imagined equal to three; the base to four; and the hypotenuse, which is equal to the other two, containing sides, to five. In this scheme, therefore, we must suppose, that the perpendicular is designed by them to represent masculine nature, the base (yoni) the feminine, and that the hypotenuse is to be looked upon as the offspring of both", etc.8

Yahveh, or Yahvek, signifies "he makes to live", or "he makes to be"; that is, he gives life, he fructifies, generates. What more suitable than these names for a phallic divinity?

[p. 276]

The custom of having a sacred ark or coffer placed in the sanctuary is of great antiquity, and was not peculiar to the Hebrews. Long ere the Jews became a people, the Egyptians had their arks. Let those who doubt this, read what Mr. King has to say on the subject, when speaking of Isis and her mystic ark or coffer. "In it was carried," says this writer, "the distinctive marks of both sexes, the Lingam and Yoni of the modern Hindus."9

Speaking of the mystic ark, Clemens of Alexandria (cited by Spencer, De Leg. Heb., p. 45), says, "In which was only deposited the privy member of Bacchus". And Spencer adds, that in some of the Pagan arks (plainly proving that they had such coffers), in them "were laid up Indian wheat, pyramids, pieces of dressed wool, cakes or wafers made of oil and honey (full of studs and bosses like navels), used in sacrifice, a serpent, Persian apples, and a thyrsus; i.e., a phallus.10

Of course, it is not to be expected that persons who believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, that the Jews were the chosen people of God, and that everything narrated of them in the Bible is true,it is not to be expected, I say, that such persons will accept, or see any force in the few proofs I have hastily, and at but short notice, thrown together.

To them I do not address myself; I merely threw out a suggestion, in the first instance, in my paper on the "Linga Puja", and I have here given some proofs that I had grounds for so doing, and I appeal to the deep thinkers, the philosophical reasoners of this age of light, to work out the problem. For my part, I shall be quite satisfied to abide by the decision of such men; but for the opinions of individuals prejudiced and blunted by their faith in an effete and preposterous religious system, and by the conventionalities of the society in which they move, I shall ever have the supremest contempt.


1. Vide History of the Maharajahs, London, Trübner and Co., 1865.
2. Taylor's Apul., pp. 275, 276.
3. Ganapati, or Gunesha, here represented as Bacchus Spurcus, "the dirty god," and in the Sacti Ganapali he may be compared to Bacchus Eroticus, who resembled Priapus; but the Silpi Shastras speak of twelve Guneshas, who bore a very different character. Gunesh is always represented with an elephant's head.
4. Naples edit., 1765, fol., tome iv.
5. Vide Ethnological Journal, December, 1865.
6.  Sykes, cited by Elliott, Views in the East, vol. ii, London, Fisher & Son.
7. Vide Bishop Colenso on The Pentateuch, p. 159, Appendix to Part ii.
8. Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, lvi.
9. Gnosticism, by C. W. King, M.A., London, 1865, p. 154.
10. Vide Spencer, De Leg. Heb., p. 145.





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