Other COUNTRIES, adjacent to the CALI RIVER, or NILE of ETHIOPIA;
FROM THE ANCIENT BOOKS OF THE HINDUS.
By Lieut. FRANCIS WILFORD.
[Extracted from Asiatic Researches, vol.
3 (1792), pp. 295-463.]
SECTION THE FIRST.
THE original design was to compose a dissertation entirely geographical on Egypt and other countries bordering upon the Nile; but as the Hindus have no regular work on the subject of geography, or none at least that ever came to my knowledge, I was under a necessity of extracting my materials from their historical poems, or, as they may be called more properly, their legendary tales; and in them I could not expect to meet with requisite data for ascertaining the relative situations of places: I was obliged, therefore, to study such parts of their ancient books as contained geographical information; and to follow the track, real or imaginary, of their deities and heroes; comparing all their legends, with such accounts of holy places in the regions of the west; as have been preserved by the Greek mythologists, and endeavouring to prove the identity of places by the similarity of names, and of remarkable circumstances; a laborious, though necessary operation, by which the progress of my work has been greatly retarded.
The mythology of the Hindus is often inconsistent and contradictory; and the
same tale is related many different ways. Their physiology, astronomy, and
history, are involved in allegories and enigmas, which cannot but seem
extravagant and ridiculous; nor could any thing render them supportable, but a
belief that most of them have a recondite meaning though many of them had,
perhaps, no firmer basis than the heated imagination of deluded fanaticks, or of
hypocrites interested in the worship of some particular deity. Should a key to
their eighteen Puranas exist, it is more than probable that the words of them
would be too intricate or too stiff with the rust of time for any useful
purpose; yet, as a near coincidence between proper names and circumstances scarce
have been accidental, some light might naturally be expected from the
comparison, which I resolved to make. It is true, that an accurate knowledge of
the old northern and western mythology, of the Coptick and other dialects now
used in countries adjacent to the Nile, of eastern languages, and above all, of
Sanscrit, may be thought essentially necessary for a work of this nature; and
unfortunately I possess few of these advantages yet, it will not, I hope, be considered as presumptuous, if I present the Asiatick Society with the result
of my inquiries, desiring them to believe that when I seem to make any positive
assertion, I only declare my own humble opinion, but never mean to write in a
dogmattical style, or to intimate an idea, that my own conviction should
preclude in any degree the full exercise of their judgment.
So striking, in my apprehension, is the similarity between several Hindu legends, and numerous passages in Greek authors concerning the Nile, and the countries on its borders, that, in order to evince, their identity, or at least their affinity, little more is requisite than barely to exhibit a comparative view of them. [p.297] The Hindus have no ancient civil history, nor had the Egyptians any work purely: historical; but there is abundant reason to believe, that the Hindus have preserved the religious fables of Egypt, though we cannot yet positively say by what means the Brahmens acquired a knowledge of them. It appears, indeed, that a free communication formerly subsisted between Egypt and India, since Ptolemy acknowledges himself indebted for much information to many learned Indians, whom he had seen at Alexandria and Lucian informs us, that pilgrims from India resorted to Hierapolis in Syria; which place is called in the Puranas, at least as it appears to me, Mahabhaga, or the station of the Goddess Devi, with that epithet; even to this day the Hindus occasionally visit, as I am assured, the two, Jwala-muc'his, or Springs of Naphtha, in Cushi-dwipa; within the first of which, dedicated to the same goddess with the epithet Anayasa, is not far from the Tigris; and Strabo mentions a temple, on that very spot inscribed to the goddess Anaias.
The second, or great, Jwala-muc'hi, or spring with a flaming mouth, is near Baku, from which place, I am told, some Hindus have attempted to visit the Sacred Island, in the west; an account, of which, from the Puranas, will (if the publick approve this essay) be the subject of a future work. A Yogi, now living, is said to have advanced, with his train of pilgrims, as far as Moscow; but, though he was not ill used by the Russians, they flocked in such crowds to see him, that he was often obliged to interrupt his devotions, in order to satisfy their curiosity: he therefore, chose to, return; and, indeed, he would probably have been exposed to similar inconvenience, in the Sacred Isles without excepting Ereta-sthan, or the place of religious duty. This Western pilgrimage may account for a fact mentioned, I think, by Cornelius Nepos, (but, as printed books are scarce in this country, I speak only from recollection) that certain Indi, or Hindu, were shipwrecked on the shores of the Baltick: [p.298] many Brahmens, indeed, assert that a great intercourse anciently subsisted between India and countries in the west; and, as far as I have examined their sacred books, to which they appeal as their evidence, I strongly incline to believe their assertion.
The Sanscrit books are, both in size and number, very considerable and, as the legends relating to Egypt are dispersed in them without order or connexion, I have spared neither labour nor expense to collect them; but, though I have in that way done much, yet much remains to be done, and must be left, I fear, to others, who can better afford to make a collection so voluminous and expensive: I had the happiness to be stationed at Benares, the centre of Hindu learning; and, though my laborious duties left me very little time for literary pursuits, yet my appointment supplied me with means to defray the necessary charges, which he could not otherwise have afforded. To the friendship of Mr. Duncan lam deeply indebted; his encouragement and support had a great effect on the Brahmens: nor would I, without his assistance, have met with that success, which has rewarded my labours. It will appear in the course of my essay, that I have derived infinite advantage from the Travels of Mr. Bruce, to which I so frequently refer, that it was hardly possible to cite them constantly; and I make this general acknowledgement of my obligation to him; even the Outline of the Map [omitted here] prefixed to this dissertation is borrowed from his elaborate Chart. Those, who may follow me in this path, will add considerably, no doubt, to the materials which I have amassed, and may possibly correct some errors, into which I may have fallen: happy shall I be to have led the way to discoveries, from which very important conclusions may be deduced.
The Hindus, I believe, have no work professedly written on
popular geography, that is, on the face of this globe according to the system of
their Astronomers: they have large charts of the Universe according to the Pauranicas, with explanatory notes, and, perhaps, with treaties to elucidate
their fables; and some of the Puranas contain lists of countries, rivers, and
mountains, with a general division of the known world; which are also to be
found in a few of their Astronomical books. The Bauddhas, or followers of Jina,
have a small tract on geography, entitled Trilo'ca derpan, or The Mirror of
Three Worlds, which Mr. Burrow was so kind as to lend me: it is a most
extravagant competition; and such is the antipathy of the Brahmens to the Jainas,
that no explanation of it can be expected from them; but, would I have leisure
and opportunity to examine it, the task may be attended with some advantage;
though the proper names are in general changed and accommodated to the heterodox
According to the orthodox Hindus, the globe is divided into two hemispheres, both called Meru; but the superior hemisphere is distinguished by the name of Sumeru, which implies beauty and excellence, in opposition to the lower hemisphere, or Cumeru, which signifies the reverse: by Meru, without any adjunct, they generally mean the higher, or northern hemisphere, which they describe with a profusion of poetical imagery as the seat of delights; while they represent Cumeru as the dreary habitation of demons, in some parts intensely cold, and in others so hot, that the waters are continually toiling. In fact propriety, Meru denotes the pole and the polar regions; but it is the celestial north pole, round which they place the gardens and metropolis of Inora, while Yaica holds his court in the opposite polar circle, or the station of Asuras, who warred with the Suras, or Gods, of the firmament. There is great reason to believe, that the old inhabitants of [p.300] the southern hemisphere, among whom were the Ethiops and Egyptians, entertained a very different opinion of their own climate, and of course represented the summit of the northern hemisphere as a region of horrors and misery; we find accordingly, that the Greeks, who had imported most of their notions from Egypt, placed their hell under the north pole, and confined Cronos to a cave in the frozen circle. In the Puranas we meet with strong indications of a terrestrial paradise, different from that of the general Hindu system, in the southern parts of Africa; and this may be connected with the opinion adopted by the Egyptians, who maintained it again; the Scythians, with great warmth (for the ancient inhabitants of the two hemispheres, were perpetually wrangling on their comparative antiquity) that the Ethiopians were the oldest nation on earth.
Several divisions of the old continent were made by different persons at different times; and the modern Brahmens have jumbled them all together: the most ancient of them is mentioned in the Puranas, entitled Vayu, and Brahmanda; where that continent is divided into seven dwipas, or countries with water in two sides so that, like jazirab in Arabick, they may signify either islands or peninsulas. They are said to be wholly surrounded by a vast ocean, beyond which lie the region and mountains of Atala; whence most probably the Greeks derived their notion of the celebrated Atlantis, which as it could not be found after having once been discovered, they conceived to have been destroyed by some shock of nature; an opinion formed in the true Hindu spirit; for the Brahmens would rather suppose the whole economy of the universe disturbed, than question a single fact related in their books of authority. The names of those islands, or peninsulas, are Jambu, Anga, Yama, Yamala or Malaya, Sancha, Cusha, and Varaba.
In the centre is Jambu, or the inland part of Asia; to the east of it are
Yama, and Yamala, reckoned from north to south; to the west. Sancha;
Varaba, reckoned from south to north: Yama and Cusha are said to be due east and
west, in respect of India; and this is indubitably proved by particular
Sancha dwip is placed in the south west, supposed to be connected with Yamala, and with it to embrace an immense inland sea; between them the Hindus place Lanca, which they conceive extended to a considerable distance as far as the equator; so that Sancha must be part of Africa, and Tamala, or Malaga; the peninsula of Malacca, with the countries adjacent. This notion of a vast inland sea Ptolemy seems to have borrowed from the Hindus, whom he saw at Alexandria; for, before his time, there was no such idea among the Greeks: he calls it Hippadoi; a word, which seems derived from Abdhi, a general name for the sea in the language of the Brahmens. We may collect from a variety of circumstances, that Cusha dwip extends from the shore of this Mediterranean, and the mouths of the Nile, to Serbind, on the borders of India.
In a subsequent division of the globe, intended to specify some distant countries with more particular exactness, six dwipas are added; Placsha, Salmali, Crauncha, Saca, Pushcara, and a second Cusha called Cusha dwipa without, in opposition to the former, which is said to be within, a distinction used by the Brahmens and countenanced in the Puranas, though not positively expressed in them: the six new dwipas are supposed to be contained within those before mentioned; and the Puranas differ widely in their accounts of them while the geography of the former division is uniform.
Six of the ancient divisions are by some called upadwipas
because they are
joined to the large dwipa, named Jambu; and their names are usually omitted in
the new enumeration. Thus Cusha-dwip within is included in Jambu-dwip, and
comprises three out of seven chandas, or sections of Bbirata-versha. Another
geographical arrangement is alluded to by the poet Calidasa, who says, that "Raghu
erected pillars of conquest in each of the eighteen dwipas;" meaning, say the Pandits,
seven principal, and eleven subordinate, isles or peninsulas; upa, the
same word originally with hypo and sub, always implies
a work derived from the Veda itself;
upapataca, a crime
in a lower degree; upadherma, an
inferior duty; but great confusion has arisen from an improper use of the words
upadwipa and dwipa.
Cusha-dwipa without is Abyssinia and Ethiopia and the Brahmens account plausibly enough for its names by asserting that the descendants of Cusha, being obliged to leave their native country, from them called Cali-dwipa within, migrated into Sancha-dwipa, and gave to their new settlement the name of their ancestor; for, though it be commonly said, that the dwipa was denominated from the grass Cusha, of the genus named Poa, by Linnaeus, yet it is acknowledged that the grass itself derived both its appellation and sanctity from Cusha, the progenitor of a great Indian family. Some say that it grew on the valmica, or hill formed by Termites or white ants, round the body of Cusu himself, or of Caushica's son, who was performing his tapaaya, or act of austere devotion; but the story of the anthill is by others told of the first Hindu poet, thence named Vajlmica.
The countries, which I am going to describe, lie in Sancha-dwip, accord- [p.303] ing to the ancient division; but according to the new, partly in Cusha-dwip without, and partly in Sancha-dwip proper and they are sometimes named Calitata, or banks of the Cali, because they are situated on both sides of that river, or the Nile of Ethiopia. By Calitata we are to understand Ethiopia, Nubia, and Egypt: it is even to this day called by the Brahmens the country of Devatas; and the Greek Mythologist asserted, that the Gods were born on the banks of the Nile. That celebrated and holy river takes its rise from the Lake of the Gods, thence named Amara, or Deva, Sardvera, in the region of Sharma, or Sbarmasthan, between the mountains of Ajdgara and Suduta, which seem part of Soma-giri, or the mountains of the Moon, the country round the lake being called Chandristhan, or Moonland: thence the Cali flows into the marshes of the Padmavan, and through the Nishadha mountains, into the land of Barbara, whence it passes through the mountains of Hemacuta in Sancha-dwip proper; there entering the forests of Tapas, or Tbebais, it runs into Cansaca-desa or Mishrasthan, and through the woods, emphatically named Aranya and Atavi into Sanchabdhi, or our Mediterranean. From the country of Pushpa-versha it receives the Nanda or Nile of Abyssinia; the Astbimhti, or smaller Crishna, which is the Tacazzi or little Abay; and the Sancha-naga, or Mareh. The principal tribes or nations who lived on its banks, were, besides the savage Pulindas; 1. the Sharmicas, or, Shamicas; 2. the Shepherds, called Palli, 3. the Sanchayanas or Troglodytes, named also Sanchyani; 4. the Cutila-cesas, or Cui'lalacas, 5. the Syama-muchas; 6. the Danavas, and 7. the Yavamnas: we find in the same region a country denominated Stri-rajya, because it was governed by none but Queens.
The river Cali took its name from the goddess Maha-cali, supposed to have made her first appearance on its banks, in the character of Raja-Swari, [p.304] called also Isani and Isi; and, in the character of Sati, she was transformed into the river itself: the word Cali signifies black, and from the root cal, it means also devouring, whence it is applied to Time; and, from both senses in the feminine, to the Goddess in her destructive capacity; an interpretation adopted, as we shall see hereafter, in the Puranas. In her character of Mahacali, she has many other epithets, all implying different shades of blue, or dark azure; and, in the Calica-puran, they are all ascribed to the river: they are Cali of Cala, Nila, Asta, Slyama, or Shyamala, Mechaca, Anjanabad, Crishna. The same river is also called Nabushi, from the celebrated warriour and conquerour, usually entitled Deva-Nahusha, and, in the spoken dialects, Dio-naush: he is the Dionysus, I believe, of the ancient Europeans.
By the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews, the Nile (which is clearly a Sanscrit word) was known also by the following names: Melas, Melo, Egyptos, Sikbor, or Sibor, Nous, or Nus, Aeios, Siris, Oceanus, Triton, Potamos. The word Nous1 is manifestly corrupted from Nabujb, or Naush; Aetos from king It or Ait, an avantara, or inferiour incarnation, of Maha-Deva; Egyptos from Agupta, or on all sides guarded; and Triton, probably, from Triluni, as the Ethiops, having no such letter as p and generally substituting t in its room, would have pronounced Tripuni, which is a common Indian corruption of Triveni.
The Sanscrit word Triveni properly means with three plaited locks; but it is always applied to the confluence of three sacred rivers, or to the branching of a river into three strearns: Æthicus, in his Cosmography, instead of saying, [p.305] that the Hydaspes flow from a place named Triveni uses the phrase Arbam, or three locks of hair, which is a literal version of the Sanscrit. Now the Cali consists of three sacred strearns; the Nila or Nile of Ethiopia, the Nanda, or Nile of Abyssinia, and the little Crishna of Astbimati. The junction of the great Crishna with the Nanda was held peculiarly sacred, as it appears from the following couplets in the Atharva-veda, which are cited in the original as proof of their authenticity;
Bhadra bhagavat Crishna grahanacshatra malini,
Samvesani fanyamaril viswafya jagatd nisi
Agnichaura nipdtefhu serva graha nivdrane,
Dacsha bhagavati devi Nandaya yatra sangatali:
Serva papa prasamani hadre paramasi mahi,
Sita Jitasamayogat param ya na nivertate.
That is word for word:
"Crishna, the prosperous, the imperial, the giver of delight, the restrainer of evil, decked like the night of the whole world, with a chaplet of planets and stars; the sovereign goddess transcendently beneficial in calamities from fire and robbers, in checking the bad influence of all planets, where she is united with the Nanda: she it is, who expiates all sin. O propitious river, thou art the mighty goddess, who causes us to attain the end of mortal births, who, by the conjunction of black with white waters, never ceases to produce the highest good."
Potamos, or the river, in Theophrastus, is commonly supposed to be only an
emphatical appellative denoting superiority; but I cannot help thinking it
is [p.306] derived from the Sanscrit word Padma, which I have heard pronounced
even Patam, in the vulgar dialects it is the Nymphæa of Linnaeus, and most
certainly, the Lotos of the Nile, on the pericarp of which a Frog is represented
sitting in an Egyptian emblem engraved by MONTFAUCON.2 That river and the marshes
near it abound with that lovely and useful plant; and we shall see presently,
that Cali herself is believed to have made its beautiful flower her favourite
place of residence, in the character of Padma-devi, or the Goddess in the Lotos.
Most of the great rivers on which the Nymphæa floats in abundance, have the
epithet of Padmavati, or Padmemati; and the very word Potamos, used as an
appellative for a large river, may be thence derived; at least the common
etymology of that word is far less probable.
We before observed that the source of the Nile is in the extensive region of Sharma, near the mountains of Soma, in the masculine, or Dei Lum: and that it issues from the lake of the Gods, in the country of Chandri, in the feminine, or Des Luna: to the word farovara, or considerable lake, is prefixed in composition either Amara-Sura, or Divai and the compound Devafarovara is generally pronounced, in common speech, Deo-faraur. It lies between two ranges of hills; one to the east, called Ajagara, or not wakeful, and the other to the west, named Sitanta, or end of cold, which implies that it may have snow on its summit, but in a very small quantity.
Sharma-Sthan, called also the mountainous region of Ajagara, is said in the Brahmanda-purana to be 300 Yojans, or 1476.3 British miles, in length, and [p.307] 160 in breadth, or 492.12 miles. The mountains were named Juigara, or of those, who watch not, in opposition to the mountains of Aiyjima, which were inhabited by Nisacharas, or night-rovers, a numerous race of Yacshas, but not of the most, excellent class, who used to sleep in the day time and revel all night: Mr. Bruce speaks of a Kowas, or watching dog, who was worshipped in the hills of Abyssinia.
The mountains of Soma, or the Moon, are so well known to geographers, that no farther description of them can be required; but it may be proper to remark, that Ptolemy places them too far to the South, and M. D'Anville too far to the North, as it will hereafter be shown: according to Father Lobo the natives now call them Toroa. The Ajagara mountains, which run parallel to the eastern shores of Africa, have at present the name of Lupata, or the backbone of the world: those of Sitanta are the range which lies west of the Lake Zambre, or Zaire, words not improbably corrupted from Amara and Sura. This Lake of the Gods is believed to be a vast reservoir, which, through visible or hidden channels, supplies all the rivers of the country. The Hindus, for mythological purposes, are fond of supposing subterranean communications between lakes and rivers; and the Greeks had similar notions. Mr. Bruce, from the report of the natives, has placed a reservoir of this kind at the source of the White River,3 which (though the two epithets have opposite senses) appear to be the Cali of the Puranas: it may have been called white from the Cumuda, which abounds in its waters; at least the mountains near it are thence named Cumudidri, and the Cumuda is a water-flower sacred to the Moon, which Van Rheede has exhibited, and which seems to be either a [p.308] Menianthes, or a small white Nymphæa. The lake of the Amara, or Immortals, was not wholly unknown to the Greeks and Romans, but they could not exactly tell where it was situated, and we are not much better acquainted with its true4 situation: it is called Nilides by Juba; Niliducus and Nusoptis. In the PeutingerianTable. It is the Oriental Marsh of Ptolemy, and was not far from Rapta, now Quiloa; for that well informed geographer mentions a certain Diogenes who went on a trading voyage to India, and on his return, was overtaken near the Cape, now called Gardesan, by a violent storm from the N.N.E. which carried him to the vicinity of Rapta, where the natives assured him that the marsh or lakes, whence the Nile issued, were at no considerable distance.
The old Egyptians themselves, like the present Hindus (who are apt, indeed, to place reservoirs for water, of different magnitudes, on the high grounds of most countries) had a notion of a receptacle, which supplied the Nile and other great African rivers; for the Secretary of Mikerva's temple informed Herodotus, that the holy river proceeded from deep lakes between the mountains of Ctephi and Mopbi; that part of its waters took their course toward the north, and the rest to the south through Ethiopia: but either the secretary himself was not perfectly master of the subject, or the historian misunderstood him; for Herodotus conceived, that those lakes were close to Syene,5 and, as he had been there himself without seeing something of the kind, he looked upon the whole account as a fiction. It is not improbable, however, that the lakes were said by the secretary to be near the country of Azania or Azan, which was mistaken for Syene, in Egypt called Uswar, of Aswan.
From this idea of a general reservoir the ancients concluded
that the Niger also had its origin from the same lakes with the Nile; but Juba
acknowledged that the channels run underground for the space of twenty days
march, or about 300 miles:6 in conformity to the relation of Diogenes the
marshy lakes were said by Juba to lie near the Ocean; but he asserted
positively that the Nile did not immediately rise from them; adding, that
flowed through subterraneous passages for the space of several days journey, and
on its reappearance, formed another marshy lake of still greater extent, in the
land of the Massesyli; who were perhaps the Mahahasyasilas of the
second lake corresponds in situation with the extensive marshes from which the
Nahrisabyad of the Arabs. or the White River, has its source, according to
Mr. Bruce, who places the like about the 3rd or 4th degree of north latitude: it
is named Cowir in the maps; and is noticed by the Nubian geographers.
The word Nusapits, which is applied, as before mentioned to the first lake, may be derived from Nis'apati, or the Lord of Night, a title of the God Lunus: the whole country, indeed, with its mountain and most of its rivers, had appellations relating to the moon; and we find in it several smaller rivers, which we cannot now ascertain, with the names of Rajan, or Night, Culu, or the day after the conjunction, Anumati, or that after the opposition; Raca, or the full orb of the moon; and Sim'vah, or first visible crescent. The inhabitants of that region are by Ptolemy called Mastitas; by Juba, as we before observed, Massajyli and, in the Maps, Massi or Massagueios: in all those denominations the leading root Massa, whatever he its meaning, is clearly distinguishable; and, as there were people with a similar name in Ma- [p.310] uritania, Pliny and his followers make Juba alledge: that the lakes just mentioned were in that country; but it is hardly possible, that Juba could have made such a mistake with respect to a country so near his own; nor can we refrain from observing, that Pliny was an indifferent geographer, and that his extracts and quotations are in general very inaccurate.
The second lake, or marsh, appears to be the Padmavana of the Sanscrit legends; and that word implies, that it abounded with the Nymphae: but, it was probably the Padma, distinguished by the epithet of Coti-patra, or with ten millions of petals, which I conceive to be the Enfete of Mr. Bruce, who mentions it as growing there in the greatest abundance: it is true, that the Enfete has no botanical affinity with the Nymphae, but the Hindus were superficial botanists, and gave the same appellation to plants of different classes, as the word Lotos, indeed, was applied by the Greeks to the common Padma, or water lily, and to the celebrated fruit of the Lotopbagi, which had no relation to it. The usual number of petals on the Nymphae Lotos is fifteen; but some have only eight: the character of the genus indeed, is to have numerous petals, and the Sanscrit epithet Sabafra-patra, or thousand-petalled, is applied in dictionaries to the common Padma; but nothing could have justified such an epithet as Coti-patra. On some Egyptian monuments we find Isis reclined among the leaves of a plant, supposed to be the Cadal, or Mauza, which has been changed into Musa, by Linnaeus; but Mr. Bruce has exploded that error, and shown that the plant was no other than his Enfete: the Indian Goddess, indeed, sits in the character of Yacshini-devi, on the leaves of the Mauza; but in that form, which was an avantara, or lower incarnation, she never has the majesty or the title of Padma. It is expressly said in the Puranas, that, on the banks of the Cali river. Padma resides in the Coti-patra, [p.311] a flower unknown in India, and consequently is described in the Sanscrit books: where Pliny mentions the Lotos of the Nile he uses a phrase very applicable to the Enfete, "follis denia congerie stipatis;" and, though he adds a few particulars, not agreeing with Mr. Bruce's full description of that plant, yet Pliny, being a careless writer and an inaccurate botanist, might have jumbled together the properties of two different flowers.
The before-named country of Chandri-sthan was thus denominated from a fable in the Puranas. The God Chandra, or Lunus, having lost his sex in India, became Chandri, or Luna, who concealed herself in the mountains near the lakes, of which we have been treating: she was there visited by the Sun, and by him had a numerous progeny called Pulindas, from pulina, an inlet of sandbank, who dwelt near the rivers that ran from those mountains, and acknowledged no ruling powers but the Sun and the Moon.
Sharma-sthan, of which we cannot exactly distinguish the boundaries, but which included Ethiopia above Egypt, as it is generally called, with part of Abyssinia and Azan, received its name from Sharma, of whom we shall presently speak: his descendants, being obliged to leave Egypt, retired to the mountains of Ajdgar, and settled near the lake of the Gods. Many learned Brahmens are of opinion, that by the Children of Sharma we must understand that race of Devatas, who were forced to emigrate from Egypt during the reigns of Sani, and Rahu, or Saturn, i.e. Typhon: they are said to have been a quiet and blameless people, and to have subsisted by hunting wild elephants, of which they sold or bartered the teeth, and even lived on the flesh. They built the town of Ripavati, or the beautiful, which the Greeks [p.312] called Rapta, and thence gave the name of Raptii or Rapsii to its inhabitants: it is generally supposed, that only one town in that country Was named Rapa; but Stephanus of Byzantium positively asserts that there were two of the name;7 one, the capital of Ethiopia, and another a small town or village, consisting of Jiuts inhabited by seafaring men, near a harbour at the mouth of the river Raptus. The former is the Rupavati of the Puranas, in which it is declared to have stood near the Cali: we cannot perfectly ascertain its position; but it was, I think, situated near the southern extremity of the divine Lake, now called Zambre or Marati; for Ptolemy places the Rapui about the sources of the Nile that is, thirteen or fourteen degrees from the city, whence, as he supposes, that people was named. No further description can justly be expected of a country so little known; but we may observe that the Nubian geographer mentions a mountain near the Lake of the Gods, called the Mount of the Vaimed temple; because, probably, it contained hieroglyphicks cut on stone and painted, such as are to be seen at this day in some parts of Egypt; he adds, that, on the bank of the second lake, was the statue of a certain Masia, supposed to be his body itself petrified, as a punishment for his crimes.
I. It is related in the Padma-puran, that Satyavtata, whose miraculous preservation from a general deluge is told at length in the Mitsya, had three sons, the eldest of whom was named Jyapetii or Lord of the Earth; the others were Charma and Sharma, which last words are, in the vulgar dialects, usually pronounced Cham and Sham: as we frequently hear Kishn for [p.313] Crishna. The royal patriarch, for such is his character in the Puranas, was particularly fond of Jyapeti, to whom he gave all the regions to the north of Himalaya, or the Snowy Mountains, which extend from sea to sea, and of which Caucasus is a part: to Sharma he allotted the countries to the south of those mountains; but he cursed Charma; because, when the old monarch was accidentally inebriated with a strong liquor made of fermented rice, Charma laughed; and it was in consequence of his father's imprecation, that he became a slave to the slaves of his brothers.
The Children of Sharma travelled a long time, until they arrived at the bank of the Nile or Cali; and a Brahmen informs me, (but the original passage from the Purana is not yet in my possession) that their journey began after the building of the Padma-mandira, which appears to be the tower of Babel, on the banks of the river Cumudvati, which can be no other than the Euphrates. On their arrival in Egypt, they found the country peopled by all beings and by a few impure tribes of men, who had no fixed habitation; their leader, therefore, in order to propitiate the tutelary divinity of that region, sat on the bank of the Nile, performing acts of austere devotion, and praising Padma-devi, or the Goddess residing on the Lotos. Padma at last appeared to him, and commanded him to erect a pyramid, in honour of her, on the very spot where he then stood; the associates began the work, and raised a pyramid of earth two cros long, one broad and one high, in which the Goddess of the Lotos resided; and from her it was called Padm-mandira and Padma-matha. By mandira is meant a temple, of palace, and by matha, or merba, a college, or habitation of students, for the Goddess herself instructed Sharma and his family in the most useful arts, and taught them the Yacshalipi, or writing of the Yacshas, a race of superior beings, among whom Cuvera was the chief. It does not [p.314] clearly appear on what occasion the Sharmicas left their first settlement, which had so auspicious a beginning; but it has before been intimated, that they probably retreated to Ajdgara, in the reigns of Sani and Rahu, at which time, according to the Puranas, the Devatas, among whom the Sharmicas are reckoned, were compelled to seek refuge in the mountains: a similar flight of the Devatas is, however, said to have been caused by the invasion of Deva-Nahush, or Dionysius.
The Padma-mandir seems to be the town of Byblos, in
Egypt now called Babel; or
rather that of Babel, from which original name the Greeks made Byblos: it stood
on the canal, which led from the Balbitine branch of the Nile to the
a canal, which is pretty well delineated in the Peutingerian table; and it
appears, that the most southern Iseum of that table is the same with the
of the Greeks. Since this mound or pyramid was raised but a short time after
that on the Cumuavat, and by a part of the same builders, and since both have the same name in
Sanscrit, whence it should
seem that both were inscribed to the same divinity, we can hardly fail to
conclude, that the Padma-mandiras were the two Babels; the first on the
Euphrates, the second on the Nile. The old place of worship at Byblos was
afterwards much neglected being scarce mentioned by ancient authors: Stephanus
of Byzantium says it was very strong, and it was there, according to Thucydides,
and to the Persicis of Ctesias quoted by Photius, that Inarus, king of Lybia, with
his Athenian auxiliaries and the Egyptians, who were attached to him, sustained
siege of a year and half against the whole Persian army, under Megabyzus, but,
as it stood in low marshy ground, it probably owed its chief strength to the
vast mound of earth mentioned in the Puranas, the dimensions of which are,
however, (as it is usual in poetical descriptions) much exaggerated. One [p.315] of the
grand branches of the Nile, in the vicinity of Padma-math, is called
by Ptolemy, and Phatmi by Diodorus the Sicilian: both seem derived from the
Sanscrit corrupted; for Padma is in many Indian dialects pronounced
Paim, and in some Patma. To the same root may be referred the appellation of the
nome Pbtbembuibi or Phtbemmuthi as it is also written; for the Padmi-math was in
the nome Prosopilis, which once made part, as it evidently appears, of the nome
Phthembuthi, though it was afterwards considered as a separate district in
consequence of a new division; Prosopilis, most certainly, is derived from a
Greek word, and alludes to the
summit of the Delta, seen on a passage down the Nile from the city of
Memphis; but Potamitis, which was applied to Egypt itself, can
hardly mean any more than that the country lies on both sides of a large river
which would not be a sufficient discrimination to justify that common etymology;
and we have already hazarded a conjecture that Potamos was a proper name of the
Nile, relates to the holy and
Of the Yacsha letters, before mentioned, I should wish to give a particular account; but the subject is extremely obscure; Crinitus asserts, that the Egyptian letters were invented by Isis, and Isis, on the Lotos, was no other, most certainly, than Padma-devi, whom the Puranas mention as the instructress of the Shamncas, in the Yacsha mode of writing. According to the Brahmens, there are written characters of three principal sorts, the Devanagari, the Paisachi, and the Yacshi; but they are only variations of the same original elements; the Devanagari characters are used in the northern, the Paisachi, in the southern parts, of India, and the Yacshi, it is said, in Butan or in Tibet. The Pandits consider the Devanagari as the most ancient of the three; but the beauty and exquisite perfection of them renders this very doubtful; especially [p.316] as Atri, whom they suppose to have received them from the Gods, lived a long time, as they say, in the country bordering on the Cali, before he repaired to the De'vanica mountains near Cabul, and there built the town of Devanagar, from which his system of letters had the name of Devanagari. As to the Paisachi characters, they are said to have been invented by the Palis, or shepherds, who carried them into Ethiopia: the Yacsha writing I had once imagined to be a system of hieroglyphicks; but had no authority from the Puranas to support that opinion, and I dropped it on better information; especially as the Brahmens appear to have no idea of hieroglyphicks, at least according to our conception of them.
The Sharmicas, we have observed, rank among the Devatas or demi-gods; and they seem to have a place among the Yacshas of the Puranas whom we find in the northern mountains of India, as well as in Ethiopia: the country in which they finally settled, and which bore the name of their ancestors, was in Sancha-dwip, and seems to comprise all that subdivision of it, which, in the Bhagavata and other books, is called Cusha-dwip without.
Several other tribes, from India or Persia, settled afterwards in the land of Sharma: the first and most powerful of them were the Palis, or Shepherds, of whom the Puranas give the following account:
II. Irshu, surnamed Pingacsha, the son of Ugra, lived in India to the south-west of Cabul, near the Naravindbya river, which flowed, as its name implies, from the Vindhya mountains: the place of his residence to the [p.317] south of those hills was named Palli, a word now signifying a large town and its district, or Pali, which may be derived from Pala, a herdsman or shepherd. He was a prince mighty and warlike, though very religious; but his brother Tarachya, who reigned over the Vindhyan mountaineers, was impious and malignant; and the whole country was infested by his people, whom he supported in all their enormities: the good king always protected the pilgrims to Casi or Varanes in their passage over the hills, and supplied them with necessaries for their journey; which gave so great offence to his brother, that he waged war against Irshu, overpowered him, and obliged him to leave his kingdom; but Mahadeva, proceeds the legend, assisted the fugitive prince and the faithful Palis, who accompanied him; conducting them to the banks of the Cali, in Sancha-dwip, where they found the Sharmicas, and settled among them. In that country they built the temple and town Putiyvan or Punya-nagar; words implying holiness and purity, which it imparts, say the Hindus, to zealous pilgrims: it is believed at this day to stand near the Cali, on the low hills of Mandara, which are said, in the Puranas, to consist of red earth; and on those hills the Palis, under their virtuous leader, are supposed to live, like the Candharvas, on the summit of Himalaya, in the lawful enjoyment of pleasures; rich, innocent, and happy, though intermixed with some Mlech'has, or people who speak a barbarous dialect, and with some of a fair complexion. The low hills of Mandara include the tract called Meroe or Merboe by the Greeks; in the centre of which is a place named Mandara in the Jesuits' Map, and Mandera by Mr. Bruce who says that of old it was the residence of the shepherds, or Palli, kings: in that part of the country the hills consist of red earth; and their name Mandara is a derivative from manda, which among other senses, means sharp-pointed, from man, or water, and dri, whence dara to fierce, so that Mandara-paruata signifies a mountain dividing the waters and forcing them to run different ways; an etymology confirmed by Mr. Bruce [p.318] in his description of Meroe, where he accounts for its being called an island. The compound Punya-nagari, or City of Virtue, seems to imply both a seat of government and a principal temple with a college of priests: it was, therefore, the celebrated city of Meroe, a word which may be derived from Merha (vidyartbinam gribam, the mansion of students, as it is explained in the dictionaries) or from Mrara, of whom we shall presently speak.
To the king of the Pallis, named also Palli from those whom he governed, Maha-deva gave the title of Nairrita, having appointed him to guard the nairriti, or south-west; and, though he was a Pisacha by birth, or naturally bloody-minded, yet he was rewarded for his good disposition, and is worshipped in India to this day, among the eight Dicalas, or guardians of as many quarters, who constantly watch, on their elephants, for their security of Casi, and other holy places in Jambu dwipa; but the abode of his descendants is declared in the Puranas to be still on the banks of the Cali or Nila. One of his descendants was Lubouaca, of whom an account will be given in a subsequent section; and from Lubdhaca descended the unfortunate Linasu, not the bard Heridatta who had also that name, and who will be mentioned hereafter more particularly, but a prince whose tragical adventures are told in the Rajaniti, and whose death was lamented annually by the people of Egypt: all his misfortunes arose from the incontinence of his wife Yoca, Bhrasta or Yocacashta; and his son Mahasura, having by mistake committed incest with her, put himself to death, when he discovered his crime, leaving issue by his lawful wife. May we not reasonably conjecture, that Lubdhaca was the L.abiacus, Li'na'su, the Laius, and Yogacashta the Jocasta, of the Greeks? The word Yadupa, from which Œdipus may be derived, signifies King of the Yadu family, and might have been a title of the unhappy Mahasvra.
This account of the Pallis has been extracted from two of the eighteen
entitled Scanda, or the God of war, and BRAHMANDA, or the Mundane Egg. We must
not omit, that they are said to have carried from India not only
At'harva-veda, which they had a right to possess, but even the three others, which they
acquired clandestinely, so that the four books of ancient Indian scripture once
existed in Egypt and it is remarkable, that the books of Egyptian science were
exactly four, called the books of Harmonia or Hermes, which are supposed to have contained subjects
of the highest antiquity.8 Nonnus mentions the first of them as believed to
be coeval with the world; and the Brahmens assert, that their three first Vedas
existed before the creation.
The Pallis, remaining in Indian have different names; those, who dwell to the south and south-west of Benares, are, in the vulgar dialects, called Palis and Bhils; in the mountains to the north-east of that city, they are in Sanscrit named Ciratas; and, toward the Indus, as I am informed, a tribe of them has the appellation of Harita: they are now considered as outcasts, yet are acknowledged to have possessed a dominion in ancient times from the Indus to the eastern limits of Bengal, and even as far as Siam. Their ancestors are described as a most ingenious people, virtuous, brave, and religious; attached particularly to the worship of Mahadeva, under the symbol of the Linga or Phallus; fond of commerce, art, science; and using the Paisachi letters, which they invented. They were supplanted by the Rajaputras; and their country, before named Palisthan was afterwards called Rajaputana in the vulgar dialect of their conquerors. The history of the Pallis cannot fail to be interesting, especially as it will be found much connected with that of Europe; and I [p.320] hope soon to be supplied with materials for a fuller account of them; even their miserable remains in India must excite comparison, when we consider how great they once were, and from what height they fell through the intolerant zeal and superstition of their neighbours. Their features are peculiar; and their language different, but perhaps not radically, from that of other Hindus: their villages are still called Palli; many places, named Pahia, or, more commonly, Bhilala, were denominated from them; and in general Palli means a village or town of shepherds or herdsmen. The city of Irshu, to the south of the Vindbya mountains, was emphatically styled Pallisand, to imply its distinguished eminence, Sri-palli: it appears to have been situated on or near the spot, where Bopal now stands, and to be the Saripalla of Ptolemy, which was called Palibothæ by the Greeks, and, more correctly in the Peutingerian table, Palipotra; for the whole tribe are named Palipuiras in the sacred books of the Hindus, and were indubitably the Palibothri of the ancients, who, according to Pliny, governed the whole country from the Indus to the mouth of the Ganges; but the Greeks have confounded them and their capital city with the Balipulras, whose chief town, denominated from them, had also the name of Rajagriha, since changed into Rajamaball: as it was in the mandala, or circle, of the Baliputras, it is improperly called by Ptolemy, who had heard that expression from travellers, Palibothræ of the Mandalas.
We have said, that Irshu had the surname of Pingacjha, or yellow-eyed, but, in some dictionaries, he is named Pingacsha, or yellow as fine gold; and in the track of his emigration from India, we meet with indications of that epithet; the Turkish geographers consider the sea-coast of Yemen, says Prince Kantemir, as part of India, calling its inhabitants yellow Indians; the province of Gbilan, says Texeira, has also the appellation of Hindu-Asfar, or Yellow India; [p.321] and the Caspian itself is by the Turks called the Yellow Sea.9 This appears to be the origin of the Panchæan tribes, in Arabia, Egypt and Ethiopia, whose native country was called Panchæa; and the islands near it, Pancbæan: though Diodorus of Sicily, attempting to give a description from Euhemerus of Pancbæa or Pingasa, has confined it to an inconsiderable island near Dwaraca, yet it was really India itself, as his description sufficiently shows; and the place, which he names Oceanida, is no other than old Sagar at the mouth of the Ganges; the northern mountain, which he speaks of, is Meru; and the three towns near it are described in the Puranas with almost the same appellations.
Orus, the shepherd, mentioned in ancient accounts of Egypt, but of whom few particulars are left on record, was, most probably, Irshu the Palli; whose descendants, the Pingacshas, appear to have been the Phenician shepherds, who once established a government on the banks of the Nile: the Phenicians first made their appearance on the shores of the Eryibnan, or Red Sea, by which we must understand the whole Indian ocean between Africk and the Malay coasts; and the Puranas, thus represent it, when they describe the waters of the Arunodadhi as reddened by the reflection of solar beams from the southern side of mount Sumeru, which abounds with gems of that colour; something of this kind is hinted by Pliny.10 It is asserted by some, (and from several circumstances it appears most probable), that the first settlements of the Phenicians were on the Persian gulph, which is part of the Erythrean sea. Justin says, that having been obliged to leave their native country, (which seems from the context to have been very far eastward) [p.322] they settled near the Assyrian lake, which is the Persian gulph; and we find an extensive district, named Palestine to the east of the Euphrates and Tigris. The word Palestine seems derived from Pallisthan, the seat of the Pallis, or shepherds.11 the Samaritans, who before lived in that country, seem to have been a remnant of the Pallis, who kept themselves distinct from their neighbours, and probably removed for that reason to the Palestine on the shore of the Mediterranean; but, after their arrival in that country, they wished to ingratiate themselves with the Jews and Phenicians, and, for that purpose, claimed affinity with them; alledging, sometimes, that they were descended from Jacob, and at other times, that they sprang from Pinkhas; a word pronounced also Phineas, and supposed, (but, I think, less probably) to mean the son of Aaron. Certainly, the Jews looked upon the Samaritans as a tribe of Philistines; for mount Garizim was called Palitan and Peltan. Tremellius, in the wisdom of the son of Sirach, writes Palischthæa, but in the Greek we find the Philistines, who reside on the mount of Samaria;12 but let us return to Palestine in Assyria.
Whether the posterity of Pingacsha, or the yellow Hindus, divided themselves into two bodies, one of which passed directly into Phenice, and the other went, along the Arabian shores, to Abyssinia, or whether the whole nation first entered the southern parts of Arabia, then crossed over to Africa, and settled in the countries adjacent to the Nile, I cannot determine; but we have strong reasons to believe, that some, or all of them, remained a considerable time on the coast of Yemen: the Panchean tribes in that country were considered as Indians; many names of places in it, which ancient geographers mention, are clearly Sanscrit, and most of those names are found at present [p.323] in India. The famed Rhadamanthus, to whom Homer gives the epithet yellow, and his brother Minos, were, it seems, of Phenician extraction; they are said to have reigned in Arabia, and were, probably, Pallis descended from Pingacsha, who, as we have observed, were named also Ciratas, whence the western island, in which Minos, or his progeny, settled, might have derived it's appellations of Curetis13 and Crete. In scripture we find the Peltti and Kerethi named as having settled in Palestine; but the second name was pronounced Krethi by the Greek interpreters, as it is by several modern commentators: hence we meet with Krita, a district of Palestine, and at Gaza with a Jupiter Cretæus, who seems to be the Crueswara of the Hindus. In the spoken Indian dialects, Palita is used for Palli, a herdsman; and the Egyptians had the same word; for their priests told Herodotus, that their country had once been invaded by Philitius, the shepherd, who used to drive his cattle along the Nile, and afterwards built the pyramids.14 The Phyilitæ of Ptolemy, who are called Bulloits by Captain R. Covert, had their name from Bbilata, which in India means a place inhabited by Pallis or Bhils: the ancient shepherds made so conspicuous a figure in Egypt, that it is needless to expatiate on their history; and for an account of the shepherds in or near Abyssinia, I refer to the Travels of Mr. Bruce. Let us return to Meroe.
The writers of the Puranas, and of other books esteemed sacred by the Hindus, were far from wishing to point out the origin of mere cities, how distinguished soever in civil transactions: their object was to account [p.324] for the foundation of temples and places of pilgrimage; but it often happened, that several places of worship were in different period, erected at a small distance from each other; and, as the number of inhabitants increased round each temple, an immense town was at length formed out of many detached parts; though we are never told in the Puranas, whether those consecrated edifices were contiguous or far asunder. This happened to Memphis, as we shall presently show; and it seems to have been the case with Punyavaii, and with Merba or Mera: those words are written Metha and Mrira, but there is something so peculiar in the true sound of the Nagari letters, t'a, t'ha, 'da, 'd'ha, that they are generally pronounced, especially when, they are placed between two vowels, like a palatial ra; the vowel ri has likewise a great peculiarity, and, as we before observed on the word Kishn for Crishna, is frequently changed: now the whole Traglodytica was named Midoe or Mirhoe; and he who shall attentively consider the passage in Pliny, where the towns of Midoe and Asal are mentioned, will perceive, that they can be no other than Meroe and Æsan. This interchange of da and ra so exactly resembles the Sanscrit, that the name of Meroe seems more probably derived from Mri'da, than from Metb'a, or a college of priests; especially as the Pallis were almost exclusively attached to the worship of Mrira, or MAHADEVA: a place in Pegu, called Mura from the same deity, has in Ptolemy, the name of Mareura, and is now pronounced Mero by the natives.
According to the Puranas, the residence of King It, (who formerly ruled over Egypt and Ethiopia) was on the banks of the Cali river, and had the name of Mrira, or Mrira-sthan, because its principal temple was dedicated to Mrira and his consort Mrinari, or Pa'rvati: now, when we read in Stephanus [p.325] of Byzantium, that the sort of Merusium near Syracuse was believed by some to have taken its name from Meroi in Ethiopia, we must understand, that it was named from a place of worship sacred to Mrira, the chief Ethiopian divinity; and the same author informs us, that Meroesa Diana, or Mri-'swari De'vi, who is represented with a crescent on her forehead, was adored at Merusium in Sicily. We may conclude, that her husband Mrireswara, was the God of Meroe, called a barbarous deity by the Greeks, who, being themselves unable to articulate his name, insisted that it was concealed by his priests. It has been imagined, that Cambyses gave the name of his sister and wife to Meroe; but it is very dubious, in my opinion, whether he penetrated so far as that city: in all events he could have made but a short stay in the district, where, as he was abhorred by the Egyptians and Ethiops, it is improbable, that a name imposed by him, could have been current among them; and, whatever might have been his first intention as to the name of his wife, yet, when he had killed her, and undergone a series of dreadful misfortunes in those regions, it is most probable, that he gave himself no further trouble about her or the country.
In the book, entitled Saiva-ratnacara, we have the following story of King It, who is supposed to have been Mrira himself in a human shape, and to have died at Meroe, where he long reigned.
On the banks of the Nile, there had been long contests between the Devatas and the Daityas: but the latter tribe having prevailed, their king and leader Sanchasura, who resided in the ocean, made frequent incursions into the country, advancing usually in the night and retiring before day to his submarine palace: thus he destroyed or made captive many excellent princes, whose territories and people were between two fires; for, while Sanchasura was ravag- [p.326] ing one side of the continent, Cracacha, king of Crauncha-dwip, used to desolate the other; both armies consisting of savages and cannibals, who, when they met, fought together with brutal ferocity, and thus changed the most fertile of regions into a barren desert. In this distress the few natives, who survived, raised their hands and hearts to Bhagavan, and exclaimed:
'Let him, that can deliver us from these disasters be our King,' using the word I'r which re-echoed through the whole country. At that instant arose a violent storm, and the waters of the Cali were strangely agitated, when there appeared from the waves of the river a man, afterwards called I'r, at the head of a numerous army, saying abbayam, or there is no Jean and, on his appearance, the Daityas as descended into Patala, the demon Sanchasura plunged into the ocean, and the savage legions preserved themselves by precipitate flight. The King It, a subordinate incarnation of Mrira, re-established peace and prosperity through all Sanchadwipa, through Barharadesa, Misra-sthan, and Arva-sthan, or Arabia; the tribes of Cutila-cesas and Hajyasilas returned to their former habitation, and justice prevailed through the whole extent of his dominions: the place, near which he sprang from the middle of the Nile, is named, I'ta, or Itsthan, and the capital of his empire, Mrira or Mrira-sthan. His descendants are called Ait, in the derivative form, and their country, Aiteya: the king himself is generally denominated Ait, and was thus erroneously named by my Pandit and his friends, till after a long search they found the passage, in which his adventure is recorded. The Greeks, in whose language aitos means an Eagle, were very ready, as usual, to find an etymology for Ait: they admit, however, that the Nile was first called Aetos, after a dreadful swelling of the river, which greatly alarmed the Ethiopians15 I and this is conformable to what we read in the Saiva-ratnacara. [p.327] At the time of that prodigious intumescence in the river it is said, that Prometheus was King of Egypt; but Prometheus appears to be no other than Pramathesa, a title of Mrira, signifying Lord of the Pramathas, who are supposed to be the five senses; and, in that character, he is believed to have formed a race of men. Stephanus of Byzantium and Eustathius16 assert, that Aetus was an Indian or Hindu, but, as nothing like this can be collected from the Purana, they confounded, I imagine, It or Ait with Yadu, of which I shall instantly speak. The chief station of It, or Aitam, which could not have been very distant from Mrirashtan, I take to be the celebrated place of worship, mentioned by Strabo17 and by Diodorus called Avatum18, which was near Meroe: it was the same, I believe; with the Ta'bis of Ptolemy and Tutu of Pliny, situated in an island, which, according to Mr. Bruce, is at present known by the name of Kurgos, and which was so near Meroe as to form a kind of harbour for it.
The origin of the Yatus is thus related. Ugrase'na, Ugra, was father of De'vaci, who was Crishna's mother; his son Cansa, having imprisoned him, and usurped his throne, became a merciless tyrant, and showed a particular animosity against his kinsmen the Yadavas, or descendants of Yadu, to whom, when any of them approached him, he used to say yatu, or be gone, so repeatedly, that they acquired the nickname of Yatu, instead of the respectable patronymick, by which they had been distinguished. Cansa made several attempts to destroy the "children of De'vaci"; but Crishna, having been preserved from his machinations, lived to kill the tyrant and restore Ugrase'na, who became a sovereign of the world. Du- [p.328] ring the infancy however, of Crishna, the persecuted Yadavas emigrated from India, and retired to the mountains of the exterior Cusha-dwip, or Abyssinia: their leader Yatu was properly entitled Ya'dave'ndra, or Prince of Yadavas, whence those mountains acquired the fame appellation. They are now called Ourimidre, or Arwemidre, which means, we are told, the Land of Arwe, the first king of that country;19 but, having heard the true Sanscrit name pronounced, in common speech, Yarevindra, I cannot but suspect a farther corruption of it in the name of the Abyssinian mountains. Those Indian emigrants are described in the Puranas as a blameless, pious, and even sacred, race which is exactly the character given by the ancients to the genuine Ethiopians, who are said by Stephanus of Byzantium, by Eusebius, by Philostratus, by Eustathius, and others, to have come originally from India under the guidance of Aetus, or Yatu, but they confound Him with king Ait, who never was there: Yadabe'ndra (for so his title is generally pronounced) seems to be the wise and learned Indian mentioned in the Paschal Chronicle by the name of Andubarius20. The king or chief of the Yatus is correctly named Ya'tupa, or in the western pronunciation, Ja'tupa, and their country would, in a derivative form be called Jatupeya; now the writers of the Universal History assert, that the native Ethiopians give their country, even at this day, the names of Itiopia and Zaitiopia, There can he little or no doubt, that Ya'tupa was the king Ethiops of the Greek Mythologists, who call him the son of Vulcan; but, according to the Puranas, that descent could not he ascribed to Ya'tu, though it mighty perhaps, to king It; for it will be known, in a subsequent part of this essay, that the Vulcan of Egypt was also considered by the Hindus as an avantara, or subordinate incarnation, of Maha'deva.
Not only the land of Egypt and the countries bordering on the
Nile, but even Africa itself, had formerly the appellation of Atria, from the
numerous settlements, I suppose, of the Ahirs or Shepherds, as they are called
in the spoken Indian dialects: in Sanscrit the true word is Abhir, and hence, I
conceive, their principal station in the land of Gohen, on the borders of
was named Abaris and Avaris or Goshend itself, or Ghoshdyana, means the abode
of shepherds, or herdsmen; and Ghosha, though it also signify a gopal, or
cowherd, is explained in Sanscrit dictionaries by the phrase Abhirapalli, a
town or village of Abhiras or Pallis.
The mountains of Abyssinia have in Sanscrit the name of Nishadbai and from them flowed the Nanda, (which runs through the land of Pushpaversham about the lake Dembea) the Little Crishna, or Tacazze, and the Sanchandga, or Mareb; of which three rivers we shall hereafter speak more particularly. Since the Hindus place another Meru in the Southern Hemisphere, we must not be surprized to find the Nile described by them as running over three ranges of mountains, which have the same names with three similar ranges, over which the Ganga, in their opinion, forces its way, before it enters the plains of India: those mountains are the Himalaya, or Seat of Snow, the Nishadha, and the Hemacuta, or with a golden peak. The Hindus believe, that a range of African hills is covered with snow: the old Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans believed the same thing; and modern travellers assert, that snow falls here and there in some parts of Africa; but the southern Himalaya is more generally called Sitanta, which implies the end, or limit, of cold. On the northern Himalaya is the celebrated lake Manasa-saras or Manasaravara, near Sumeru, the abode of Gods; who are represented sometimes as reclining in their bowers, and sometimes as making aerial excursions in their Vimanas, or heavenly cars: thus on, or within, the [p.330] southern Himalaya we find the lake of the Gods, which corresponds with that in the north, with this difference, that the exigence of the southern lake cannot be doubted, while that of the northern may well be called in question (unless there; be such a lake in the unknown region between Tibet and the high plains of Bokhara); for what the Sannyajis call Manasarover is in truth the Vindhyafaras of the Puranas. Beyond the southern lake of the Gods is another Meru, the seat also of divinities and the place of their airy jaunts, for it is declared in the Puranas, as the Brahmens inform me, that, within the mountains, towards the source of the Nile, there are delightful groves inhabited by deities, who divert themselves with journeying in their cars from hill to hill: the Greeks gave to that southern Meru the appellation of [Greek] in allusion to the Vimans, or celestial cars; but they meant a range of hills, according to Pliny and Agathathemerus,21 not a single insulated mountain. Pliny, who places that mountainous tract in the south of Ethiopia, makes it project a great way into the southern ocean: its western limit is mentioned by Ptolemy; and the Nubian geographer speaks of all the three ranges. By the Chariot of the Gods we are to understand the lofty grounds in the centre of the African peninsula, from which a great many rivers, and innumerable rivulets, flow in all directions: fires were constantly seen at night on the summit of those highlands; and that appearance, which has nothing very strange in it, has been fully accounted for by modern travellers.
We come now to the Hasyasilas or Habashis, who are mentioned, I am told, in the Puranas, though but seldom; and their name is believed to have the following etymology; Charma, having laughs at his father Satyavrata, [p.331] who had by accident intoxicated himself with a fermented liquor, was nicknamed Hasyasila, or the Laugher; and his descendants were called from Hasyasilas in Sanscrit and, in the spoken dialects, Hasyas, Hanselis, and even Habastis; for the Arabick word is supposed by the Hindus to be a corruption of Hasya. By those descendants of Charma they understand the African negros, whom they suppose to have been the first inhabitants of Abyssinia; and they place Abyssinia partly in the dwipa of Cusia, partly in that of Sancha Proper. Dr. Pocock was told at the Cataracts, that beyond them, or in the exterior Cusha-dwip, there were seven mountains; and the Brahmens particularly assert that number: thus they divided the old continent into seven large islands, or peninsulas, and in each island we find seven districts with as many rivers and mountains. The following is the Pauranic division of Cusha-dwip called exterior, with respect to that of Jamtu:
It seems unnecessary to set down the etymology of all these names; but it may
not be improper to add, that Satasringa means with a hundred peaks, and
Sahasrasruti, with a thousand streams.
Between the exterior Cusha-dwip and Sancha Proper lies, according to the Puranas, on the banks of the Nile, the country of Barbara; which includes, [p.332] therefore, all the land between Syene and the confluence of the Nile with the Tacazze, which is generally called Barbara and Barbar to this day; but, in a larger sense, it is understood by the Pauranics to comprize all the burning sands of Africa. Barbara-desa, which answers to the loca arida el urdentia, mentioned by Pliny as adjacent to the Nile, was a fertile and charming country, before it was burned, according to the Hindu legends, which will be found in a subsequent section, first by the approach of Surya, or the Sun, and afterwards by the influence of Sani, or Saturn. Its principal city, where Barbaresvara had a distinguished temple, was called Barbara-sthan, and stood on the banks of the Nile: the Tamovansa, or Children of Tamas, resided in it; and it is, most probably, the town of Tama, which Pliny places on the eastern bank of the Nile, an hundred and twenty-nine Roman miles above Syene.22
The crude noun Tamas, in the first case Tomah, and Tamo before certain consonants, means darkness, and it is also a title of Sani; whose descendants are supposed to have lived in Barbara, and are represented as an ill-clothed, half-starved race of people, much like the present inhabitants of the same country. The following fables appear to be astrological, but might have had some foundation in history, as the Hindu regents of planets were in truth old philosophers and legislators, whose works are still extant.
Tamah, or Saturn, had two wives, St'havira and Jarat'ha, whose names imply age and decrepitude: by the former he had seven sons, Mhityu, Cala, Dava, Ulca, Ghora, Adhama, Cantaca; by the latter only two, Mandya and Gulica. The sons of Mandya were Asubha, Aaishtha, Gulma, Pliha: those of Gulica were Gadha and Grahila: [p.333] they were all abominable men, and their names denote every thing that is horrid. It is expressly said in the Puranas, that Tamah was expelled from Egypt exactly at the time when Arama, a grandson of Satyavrata, died; that his children retired into Bariara; and that his grandson Gulma reigned over that country, when it was invaded Capenasa, who will presently appear, beyond a doubt, to be Cepheus. The Tamovansas are described as living in Barbara Proper, which is now called Nubia, and which lay, according to the Indian geography, between the dwipas of Sancha and of Cusha without: but the other parts of Barbara, toward the mouths of the Nile, were inhabited by the children of Ra'hu; and this brings us to another astronomical tale, extracted from a book, entitled Chintamani.
Rahu is represented, on account of his tyranny, as an immense river-dragon, or crocodile, or rather a fabulous monster with four talons, called Graha, from a root implying violent seizure: the word is commonly interpreted badger or shark, but in some dictionaries, it is made synonymous to nacra, or crocodile and, in the Puranas, it seems to be the creature of poetical fancy. The tyrant, however, in his human shape, had six children, Dhwaja, Dhumra, Sinha, Laguda, Danda, and Cartana, (which names are applied to comets of different forms,) all equally mischievous with their father: in his allegorical character, he was decapitated by Vishnu; his lower extremity became the Cetu, or Dragon's tail, and his head still called Rahu, the ascending node; but the head is supposed, when it fell on earth, to have been taken up by Pithinas, or Pithin, and by him placed at Rabu-sthan, (to which the Greeks gave the name of Heropolis), where it was worshipped, and gave oracular answers; which may be the origin of the speaking heads, mentioned by Jewish writers as prepared by magick. The posterity of Rahu were from [p.334] him denominated Grahas, and they might have been the ancestors of those Graii, or Greeks, who came originally from Egypt: it is remarkable, that Hesiod, in his Theogony, mentions women in Africa named Graiai, who had fine complexions, and were the offspring of Phorcys and Ceto. The Grahas are painted by the writers of the Puranas in most unfavourable colours; but an allowance must be made for a spirit of intolerance and fanaticism: Rahu was worshipped, in some countries, as Hailax, or Lucifer, (whom in some respects he resembles,) was adored in the eastern parts of Egypt, and in Arabia, the Stony and the Desert, according to Jerom, in the life of Hilarion; but, though we must suppose, that his votaries had a very different opinion of the Grahas from that inculcated by the Hindus, yet it is certain, that the Greeks were not fond of being called Graioi, and very seldom gave themselves that appellation.
The sandy deserts in Egypt, to the east and west of the Nile, are considered by the Puranas as part of Barbara; and this may account for what Herodotus says of the word Barbaras, which, according to him, was applied by the Egyptians to all, who was unable to speak their language, meaning the inhabitants of the desert, who were their only neighbours: since the people of Barbara, or children of Saturn, were looked upon as a cruel and deceitful race, the word was afterwards transferred to men of that disposition; and the Greeks, who had lived in Egypt, brought the appellation into their new settlements, but seem to have forgotten its primitive meaning.
On the banks of the Nile we find the Crishna-gcri, or Black Mountain of Barbara, which can be no other than the black and barren range of hills, which Mr. Bruce saw at a great distance towards the Nile from Tarsowey: in the caves of those mountains lived the Tamavatsas, of whom we shall [p.335] speak hereafter. Though the land of Barbara be said in the Puranas to lie between the dwipas of Cusha and Sancha, yet it is generally considered as part of the latter. The Nile, on leaving the burning sands of Barbara, enters the country of Sancha Proper, and forces its way through the Hema-cuta, or Golden Mountains; an appellation which they retain to this day; the mountain called Panckrysos by the Greeks was part of that range, which is named Ollaki by the Arabs; and the Nubian geographer speaks of the Golden Mountains, which are a little above Oswan. Having passed that ridge, the Nile enters Cardama-sthan, or the Land of Mud; which obviously means the fertile Egyptian valley, so long covered with Mud after every inundation: the Puranas give a dreadful idea of that muddy land, and assert that no mortal durst approach it; but this we must understand as the opinion formed of it by the first colonists, who were alarmed by the reptiles and monsters abounding in it, and had not yet seen the beauty and richness of its fertile state. It is expressly declared to be in Misra-sthan, or the Country of a mixed People; for such is the meaning in Sanscrit of the word Misra: sometimes the compound word Aswra-sthan is applied to the Lower Egypt, and sometimes (as in the history of the wars of Capenasa) to the whole country; in which sense I am told, the word Gupta-sthan is used in ancient books, but I have never yet seen it applied so extensively, yigupta certainly means guarded on all sides; and Gupta, or guarded, is the name of a place reputed holy; which was, I doubt not, the famed Coptos of our ancient geographers; who mentioned a tripartite arrangement of Egypt, exactly conformable to the three divisions of Misra-sthan, particularly recorded in the Puranas: the first of them was Tapovana, the woodlands of Tapas, or austere devotion, which was probably Upper Egypt, or Thebais; the second, Misra Proper, called also Cantaca-desa, or the Land of Thorns, which answers to the Lower Egypt or Heptanomis; and the third, Aranya and Atavi, or the Forests emphatically so named, which were situated at the mouths of the Nile, and formed what we call the Delta. The first inhabitants of Egypt [p.336] found, on their arrival, that the whole country about the mouths of the Nile was an immense forest; part impervious, which they called Atavi, part uninhabited, but practicable, which had the name of Aranya.
Tapavana seems to have been always adapted to religious austerities; and the first Christian anchorets used to seclude themselves in the wilds of Thebes for the purpose of contemplation and abstracted piety: thus we read, that the Abbot Pachomius retired, with his disciples, to the wilderness of Tabenna, and there built a monastery, the remains of which are still visible, a day's journey below Dendera, near an island now called Tabenna, and, according to Sicard, a little below the site of Thebes. The country around Dendera is at this day covered with Forests of Daum; a tree, which some describe as a dwarf palm, and others as a Rhamnus; thence Dendera was called by Juvenal the Shady Tentyra.
There can be no doubt, that Tapavana was Upper Egypt, or the Thebais; for several places, the situation of which will be clearly ascertained in the course of this essay, are placed by the authors of the Puranas in the forests of Tapas: the words Thebaius and Thebinites are both said to be derivatives of Thebai; but the second of them seems rather derived from Tapovan or Tabenna. So fond are nations of accommodating foreign words to their own language, that the Arabs, who have changed Tapasiris into Abustair, or Father of Travel, have, in the same spirit, converted Tabenna into Medinatabind, or the Town of our Father; though some of them call it Medinatabu from Tapo, which an Arab could not pronounce. The principal place in this division was Cardama-sthan which is mentioned in the Puranas as a temple of considerable note: the legend is, that up TESWARA and his consort had [p.337] long been concealed in the mud of the Nile, near Gupta-sthan, or Coptos, but at length sprang from it and appeared at Cardama-sthan, both wholly besmeared with mud, whence they had also the titles of Cardame'swara and Cardameswari. We may observe, that Gupta signifies both guarded and concealed, and in either sense may be the origin of the word Aiguptos: as to Cardama, the canine letter is so often omitted in the vulgar pronunciation of Sanscrit words, that Cardam, or Cadam, seems to be the Cadmus of the Greeks; and we shall hereafter illustrate this etymology with circumstances, which will fully confirm it.
Misra-sthan is called also Misra and Misresia in the sacred books of the Hindus; where it is said, that the country was peopled by a mixed race, consisting of various tribes, who, though having for their convenience in the same region, kept themselves distinct, and were perpetually disputing either on their boundaries, or, which is most probable, on religious opinions: they seem to be the mingled people mentioned in Scripture. To appease their feuds, Brahma himself descended in the character of Iswara; whence Misrefwara became one of the titles. The word Misra, which the Arabs apply to Egypt and to its metropolis, seems clearly derived from the Sanscrit; but, not knowing its origin, they use it for any large city, and give the appellation of Almisran in the dual to Cusa and Bisra: the same word is also found in the sense of a boundary, or line of separation. Of Misr the dual and plural forms in Hebrew are Misraim and Misram, and the second of them is often applied in scripture to the people of Egypt. As to the Mazor, or more properly, Masur, there is a difference of opinion among the translators of Isaiah:23 in the old English version we find the passage, in which the word occurs, thus rendered, "the brooks of defence shall be emptied [p.338] and dried up;" but Bishop Lowth, after some commentators, changes the brooks of defence into the canals of Egypt; and this is obviously the meaning of the prophet; though the form of the word be more like the Arabian plural Musur than any form purely Hebrew.
Stephanus of Byzantium says, that Egypt was called Myara by the Phenicians; but surely this is a mistake for Mysara: according to Suidas and Eusebius it had the name of Mestraia; but this, I conceive, should be written Mesrata from Misreya, which may be grammatically deduced from the root Misr. The name Cantaca desa was given to Misra for a reason similar to that of Acantbus, a town and territory abounding in thorny trees.
It was an opinion of the Egyptian priests, and of Herodotus also, when he was in their country, that the valley of Egypt was formerly an arm of the sea, which extended as far as the Cataracts; whether this opinion be well-founded, is not now the question; but a notion of the same kind occurs in the Puranas, and the Brahmens account, in their way, for the alteration, which they suppose to have happened. Pramoda, they say, was a king of Sancha-dwip Proper, and resided on the shore of the sea called Sanehodadbi: the country was chiefly peopled by Mlechhas, or such as speak barbarously, and by savage Racshasas, who are believed to be evil demons, nor was a single Brahmen to be found in the kingdom, who could explain the Vedas and instruct mankind in their duties. This greatly afflicted the pious king; till he heard of a Rishi, or holy many eminent in piety and in sacred knowledge, who lived in the country of Barbara, and was named Pithi or Pithinasa, but was generally distinguished by the title of Pithi-rishi; he was visited by Pramoda in person, and, after many intreaties, prevailed on to accompany the king to Sancha-dwipa; but, when he saw the incorrigible wickedness of its inhab- [p.339] itants, he was wholly in despair of effecting any good in that country, and passed the night without sleep. Early in the morning he repaired to the sea-shore, where, taking water and Cusha-grass in his hand, he was on the point of uttering an imprecation on Sancho-Dadhi: the God of the Ocean perceived his intent, and threw himself trembling at his feet, asking humbly what offence he had committed. "Thy waters," answered the Saint, "wash a polluted region, into which the king has conduced me, but in which I cannot exist: give me instantly a purer piece of land, on which I may reside and perform the duties of religion." In that instant the sea of Sancha retired for the space of a hundred yojanas, or 492 miles, and left the holy man in possession of all the ground appearing on that dereliction: the king, on hearing of the miracle, was transported with joy, and caused a splendid palace to be built on an island in the territory newly acquired: it was called Pithi-sthan, because Pithi resided in it, having married the hundred daughters of Pramoda; and, on his beginning to read lectures on the Veda, he was in a short time attended by numerous disciples. This fable, which had, probably, some foundation in truth, is related in a work entitled Viswa-sara-pracasa, or Declaration of what is
most excellent in the Universe
Pithi-shan could not be very distant from Cardama-sthan, or the city of Thebes, to which according to the Brahmanda, the Sage's daughter, from him called Pathini, used to go almost every day for the purpose of worshipping Mahadeva: it seems, therefore, to be the Pathres of Scripture, named Pathures by the Greek interpreters, and Pathuris by Pliny, from whose context it appears to have stood at no great distance from Thebes; and it was, certainly, in Upper Egypt. It was probably the same place, which Ptolemy calls Tathyris, either by mistake or in conformity to the pronunciation of the Ethiopians, [p.340] who generally substituted the letter T for P, which they could not articulate: from the data in Ptolemy it could not have been above six miles to the west of Thebes, and was therefore, in that large island formed by an arm of the Nile, which branches out at Ermenth, and rejoins the main body of the river at the Memnaninm. According to the old Egyptians, the sea had left all Upper Egypt from the Cataracts as far as Memphis: and the distance between those two places is nearly that mentioned in the Puranas, or about an hundred yojans: the God of the Ocean, it seems, had attempted to regain the land, which he had been forced to relinquish; but Mahadeva (with a new title derived from Nabhas, or the sky, and Iswara or lord) effectually stopped his encroachments; and this was the origin of Nabbab-sthan, or Memphis, which was the most distinguished among the many considerable places in Misra, and which appears to have consisted of several detached parts; as 1. Ugra-sthan, so called from Ugra, the Uchoreus of the Greeks; 2. Nahbab, the Noph of Scripture; 3. a part named Misra; 4. Mobana-sthan, which may, perhaps, be the present Mobannan; and 5. Layasthan, or Laya-vati, vulgarly pronounced Layati, the suburb of Lete, or Letopolis.
Rodanasthan, or the place of Weeping, is the island in the lake of
Marisha, or Moeris, concerning which we have the following Indian story in the
Pet'i'-suca, who had a power of separating his soul from his body, voluntarily ascended toward heaven; and his wife Marisha, supposing him finally departed, retired to a wilderness, where she sat on a hillock, shedding tears so abundantly, that they formed a lake round it; which was afterwards named Asru-tirtha, or the holy place of tears: its waters were black, or very dark azure, and the same colour is ascribed by Strabo to those of Maris. Her [p.341] son Medhi, or Merhi, Suca had also renounced the world, and, seating himself near her, performed the same religious austerities: their devotion was so fervent and so long continued, that the inferiour Gods began to apprehend a diminution of their own influence. At length Marisha, dying petivrata, or dutiful to her lord, joined him among the Vishnuca, or inhabitants of Vishnu's heaven; and her son, having solemnized the obsequies of them both, raised a sumptuous temple, in which he placed a statue of Vishnu, at the seat of his weeping mother; whence it acquired the appellation of Rodana-sthana. "They, who make ablutions in the lake of Asru-tirtha, says the Hindu writer, are purified from their sins, and exempt from worldly affections, ascending after death to the heaven of Vishnu; and they, who worship the deity Rodana-sthan enjoy heavenly bliss, without being subject to any future transmigration." No lake in the world, except that of Moeris, corresponds, both in name and in circumstances, with that of Asru~tirtha and the island in the midst of it, which was also called Merhi, or Mirbi-sthan, from the name of the prince, who consecrated it: the two statues were said, by the Greeks, to be those of Moeris and his queen; but if they appear from the Puranas to have been those of Vishnu, or Osiris, and of Marisha, the mother of Moeris; unless the image of the God was considered in substance as that of the departed king, who, in the language of the Hindu theologians, was wholly absorbed in the divine essence. Three lakes, in the countries adjacent to the Nile, have names in the Puranas derived from asru, or tears; first, Socasfu, or Tears of Sorrow, another name for Asru~tirtha or Moeris; secondly, Hershasru, or Tears of Joy, and, thirdly Anandasru, or Tears of an inward pleasurable sensation; to both which belong legendary narratives in the Puranas. One of the infernal rivers was named Asrumati, or the Tearful; but the first of them was Vaitarani, where a boatman had been stationed to ferry over the souls of mortals into the region of Yama: the word vitarana, [p.342] whence the name of the river is derived, alludes to the fate given for the passage over it.
III. We must now speak particularly of Sancha-dwipa Proper, or the Island of Shells, as the word literally signifies; for Sancha means a sea-shell, and is generally applied to the large buccinum: the Red Sea, which abounds with shells of extraordinary size and beauty, was considered as part of the Sanchabahi, or Sanchodadbi; and the natives of the country before this wore large collars of shells, according to Strabo, both for ornament and as amulets. In the Puranas, however, it is declared, that the dwipa had the appellation of Sancha, because its inhabitants lived in shells, or in, caverns of rocks hollowed like shells, and with entrances like, the mouths of them: others insist, that the mountains themselves, in the hollows of which the people sought shelter, were no more than immense heaps of shells thrown on shore by the waves, and consolidated by time. The strange idea of an actual habitation in a shell was not unknown to the Greeks, who represent young Nerites, and one of the two Cupids, living in shells on the coasts of that very sea. From all circumstances collected, it appears, that Sancha-dwipa, in a confined sense, was the Troghdytica, of the ancients, and included the whole western shore of the Red Sea; but that, is an extensive acceptation, it comprised all Africa: the Troglodytes, or inhabitants of caves, are called in Scripture also Sukim,, because they dwelt in sucas, or dens; but it is probable, that the word suca, which means a den only in a secondary sense, and signifies also an arbour, a booth, or a tent, was originally taken, in the sense of a cave, from Sancha; a name given by the first inhabitants of the Troglodytica to the rude places of shelter, which they found or contrived in the mountains, and which bore some resemblance to the mouths of large shells. The word Sancha [p.343] -dwipa has also in some of the Puranas a sense yet more limited, and is restrained to the land inhabited by the snake Sancha-naga, which included the mountains of Hubab, or the Serpent, and the Abyssinian kingdom of Tigre: the same region is, however, sometimes called Sanchavana, and is reported to be a wonderfully fine country, watered by noble rivers and streams, covered with forests of the most useful and beautiful trees, and a hundred yojans in length or 492 miles; a dimension, which corresponds exactly enough with a line drawn from the southern limit of Tigre, to the northern extremity of the Hubab mountains. It lay between the Calica, or Cali, and the sea; its principal river was, the Sancha-naga, now called Mareb, and its capital city near the sea-shore, where the royal snake resided, had the name of Cotimi; not far from which was a part of the mountain Dyutiman, or brilliant, so called from the precious metals and gems, with which it abounded.
In the Dherma-sastra both Nagas and Garudas are named as races of men descended from Atri, concerning whom we shall presently speak more at large; but, in the language of Mythology, the Nagas, or Uragas, are large serpents, and the Garudas or Supernas, immense birds, which are either the Condors of M. Buffon and Vulture Griffons of Linnaeus, called Rokhs by the Arabian fabulists and by Marco Polo, or mere creatures of imagination, like the Simorg of the Persians, whom Sadi describes as receiving his daily allowance on the mountain of Kaf: whatever be the truth, the legend of Sanchanaga and Garuda is told in the ancient books of the Hindus.
The king of Serpents formerly reigned in Chacra-giri, a mountain very far to the
eastward; but his subjects were obliged by the power of Garuda to supply that
enormous bird with a snake each day: their king at length refused to give the
daily provision, and intercepted it himself, when it was sent by his serpentine
race. This enraged Garuda, who threatened to devour the snakes and their king;
nor would his menaces have been vain, if they had not all retired to Sancha-dwip,
where they settled in Sancha-vana between the Cali and the sea, near the station
of Swami Carticeya, God of Arms, where they are supposed to live still
unmolested, because Garuda dares not approach the mansion of that more powerful
divinity. "They," says the Indian writer, who perform yearly and "daily rites in
honour of SANCHA-NAGA, will acquire
immense riches:" that royal serpent is also called Sancha-mucha, because his
mouth was like that of a shell, and the same denomination is given to the rocks,
on which he dwelt. The Mountains of Snakes, are mentioned by the Nubian
Geographer, and are to this day called Hubab, which in Arabick means a snake in
general according to Jauheri, and a particular species of serpent according to
Maidani: the same region was named Ophiusa by the Greeks, who sometimes extended
that appellation to the whole African continent. The breath of Sancha-naga is
believed by the Hindus to be a fiery, poisonous wind, which burns and destroys
animals and vegetables to the distance of a hundred yojans round the place of
his residence; and by this hypothesis they account for the dreadful effects of
the samum, or hot envenomed wind, which blows from the mountains of India
through the whole extent of the Desert. Two Rishis, or Saints, named Agasti and
Astica undertook to stop so tremendous an evil: the first of them repaired for
that purpose to Sancha-vana, where he took his abode at a place, thence called
Agasti-bhavana, near the sea-shore and not from Cotimi; but the gentle means, to
which she had recourse with the royal snake, proved ineffectual. Astica, by
harsher measures, had more success; and made the snake, say the Brahmens, not
only tractable, but even well-disposed to all such as respectfully approached [p.345]
him: he even reduced the size of the serpent so much, as to carry him about in an earthen vessel; and crowds of people are now said to worship him at the
place of his residence near the river Cali. Thus is, probably, the snake
so famed throughout Egypt; the Muselmans insist, that it is a Shaikh of that
name transformed into a snake; the Christians, that it is Asmodeus mentioned in
the book of Tobit, the Ashmugh-div of the Persian romances; and the Hindus are
equal to them in their superstitious notions. My learned friends at last inform
me, that the sacred snake is at this day visited by travelling Sannyasis, but I
cannot assert this as a fact, having never seen any Hindu, who had travelled so
far: those, whom I have seen, had never gone beyond the Euphrates, but, they
assured me, that they would have passed that river, if they had not been
deterred by reports of disturbances among the Arab chiefs to the westward. The
boldest religious adventurers, among the Sannyasis, are those from the
north-west of India; for no native of Bengal, or, indeed, of the countries east
of the Ganges, would now attempt (at least I never heard of any, who had
attempted) such perilous journeys. As to the belief of the Hindus, that Astica
put an effectual stop to the fiery breath of Sancha-naga or the Samum, it
appears from the relation of Mr. Bruce, that the second publick-spirited saint
had no more success than the first.
We must observe, that naga, or motionless, is a Sanscrit name for a mountain, and that naga, its regular derivative, signifies both a mountain-snake and a wild elephant, accordingly we read of an elephant-king in Sancha, who reigned on the banks of the Mareb, thence called Sancha-naga; and, when Crlshna had slain both him and his subject elephants, their bones were heaped on the banks of the Tacazze, which from that event had the name of 4ft'himati.
The other parts of Sancha-dwip Proper, adjacent to the sea, were inhabited by
the subjects of Sanchasura, whose palace was in the ocean; but they are said to
have resided in shells, on or near the mountains of the African continent: they
are represented as cannibals, and even as demons incarnate, roaming by night and
plundering the flat country, from which they carried off men, women, and
children, whom they devoured alive, that is, perhaps, as raw flesh is now eaten
in Abyssinia. From this account it should seem, that the Sanchajuras lived in
the caves of mountains along the coast, while their king resided in a cavern of
the small island Suakem, where there still is a considerable town, in the middle
of a large bay: he there, probably, concealed his plunder, and thence was
reported to dwell in the ocean. The name of that island appears to have derived
from Sukhim, the plural of Sukh, in Hebrew, and the Sanch of the Hindus; by the
ancient geographers it is called both Sukhim, and the Harbour of preserving
Gods, from the preservation, I suppose, of Sancha-dwip and its inhabitants by
the assistance of Crishna; who, with an army of deities, attacked and defeated Sanchasura,
pursuing him even through the sea, where he drew the monster from his shell,
and put him to death.
Besides these first inhabitants of Sancha-dwipa, who are described by the Mythologists as elephants, demons, and snakes, we find a race, called Shanchayanas, who are the real Troglodytes, or Shangalas; for ala is a regular termination of Sanscrit adjectives, as Bhagala, fortunate; Sinbala, lion-like; Bengala, which properly means belonging to the country of Benga: they were the descendants of Atri before named, whose history, being closely connected with that of the Sacred Isles in the west, deserves peculiar attention. He sprang, say the writers of the Puranas, from the mind of Brahma, who appointed him a Prajapati, or Lord of Creatures, commanding him to produce a numerous [p.347] race, and instructing him with the Vedas, which had existed eternally in the divine idea, that he might instruct his posterity in their civil and religious duties. Atri first repaired to a western region, where he became the father of the lovely Tubina-rasmi, or with dewy beams: he thence passed into the country watered by the river Sancha-naga, where proceeding to the Sancha-mucha hills, he sat on the Sweta-giri, or White Mountain, fixed in deep meditation on the author of his existence. His arrival was quickly known throughout the country; and the few inhabitants of it came to worship him, bringing even their wives and daughters, that they might bear children by so holy a personage; but his days and nights being wholly devoted to contemplation and sacred acts, his only time for dalliance was during the morning twilight: he became, however, the ancestor of a considerable nation, who were distributed, like other Hindus, into the sacerdotal, military, commercial, and servile classes.
His first born Sanchayana had a fair complexion and great bodily strength, but was irreligious, turbulent, and libidinous, eating forbidden flesh, and living in the caverns of rocks; nor were his brethren and their offspring better in the end than himself: thus the Jews who have borrowed many Indian fables, which were current, I suppose, among their neighbours, insist in their Talmud, that Adam begat none but demons, till he was 150 years old.24 The pious patriarch, deeply afflicted by the vices of his children, expostulated with them long in vain, and, seeing no remedy, contented himself with giving them the best advice; teaching them how to make more habitable caves in the mountains, pallis, or arbours under trees, and ghoshas, or inclosures for their herds; permitting them to eat what they pleased; commanding them to dwell constantly on the mountain, assigned to them, [p.348] and to take particular care of the spot, which their forefather had inhabited, calling it from his name Atri-sthan. After this arrangement, he left them and went to the country near the Sindhu, or Indus, settling on the Devanka mountains; where he avoided the morning twilight, which had before been unprosperous, and produced a race eminent in virtue; for whom when they multiplied, he built the famous city of Nagara, emphatically so called, and generally named Deva-nagara, which stood near the site of the modern Cabul.
Since the Sweta-giri, on which Atri-sthan is declared to have stood, was at no great distance from the river Sancha-naga, it is, most probably, the same with the Amia-tzaada, or White Mountain, mentioned by Mr. Bruce; who says, that it is the most considerable settlement of the Shangalas: it stands almost due north-west from Dobarowa, and is nearer by one-third to the Mareb than to the Tacassze. The pallis, or arbours, of the Shangalas are fully described by Mr. Bruce, in a manner entirely conformable to the descriptions of them in the Puranas, except that they are not said always to be covered with skins: the Pallis of India live still in similar arbours during the greatest part of the year. That the Sanchayanas were the predecessors of the Shangallas, I have no doubt; though the former are said to have white complexions, and the latter to be black; for, not to insist; that the climate alone would, in a long course of years, effect a change of complexion; it is probable, that the race might be mixed, or that most of the old and genuine Sanchalas might have been exterminated; and Pliny mentions a race of white Ethiopians, who lived to the west of the Nile.25 Though Atristhan be applied in the Puranas to the country also of the Sanchayanas, as well as to the station of Atri, yet the regular derivative from his name is [p.349] Atreya and we find accordingly a part of Ethiopia named Ætheria by the Greeks, who called its inhabitants Eiberis and Strabo confines this appellation to a particular tribe, who seem to be the Attiri of Ptolemy, and lived near the confluence of Tacazze and the Moreb26 they were Atreyas, or descended from Atri; but the Greeks, as usual, referred a foreign epithet to a word in their own language. In the Dionysiacks of Nonnus we read of [Greek], which is translated Meroe, with perpetual summer; but, surely, the word can have no such meaning and Meroe must have been so named because it was once the capital Ætheria.27
It appears from the Puranas, that the Sanchayanas, or old Shangallas, were not destitute of knowledge and the Brahmins admit that they possessed a part at least of the Vedas.
IV. The history of the Cutila-cesas, or men with curled-hair, is disguised in the following legend. Sagara, an ancient monarch who gave his name to the sagara, or ocean, was going to perform the Asamedba, or sacrifice of a horse; when Indra descended and stole the victim, which he conveyed to a place, near the mouth of the Ganga, where the sage CAPILA was intent on his religious austerities: the God of the firmament there tied the horse by the side of the holy man, and retired unperceived by him. The monarchy missing the consecrated horse, dispatched his sixty thousand sons, or descendants, in search of him: they roved over the whole earth, and finding him at last near the mansion of Capila, accused him of the sacrilege, and began to treat him with violence; but a flame issued from the eyes of the saint, which consumed them [p.350] all in an instant. Their father, being apprized of their death, sent an army against Capila, who stood fixed to receive them; and, when they approached, unbound his jat'a, or long plaited hair and, giving it a twist, struck the ground twice or thrice with it, casting an unique glance of contempt on his adversaries: in that moment an army of men with curled hair sprang from the earth, attacked the legions of Sagar, and defeated them. After their victory, they returned to the sage, asking who they were, and demanding a fit place of abode. Capila told them, that they were Jatapat or produced by the loss of his locks on the ground; that from the side lock, which he had cast on his enemies, their hair was cutlia, or crisp; that they should thence be called Cutilas and Cutila-cesas; that they must be yat'hatat'hyas, or live as they were when produced by him, that is, always prepared for just war; that they must repair to Sancha-dwip, and from a settlement, in which they would encounter many difficulties and be continually harassed by bad neighbours; but that, when Crishna should overpower and destroy Sancha-sura, he would establish their empire, and secure it from future molestation. They accordingly travelled through the interior Cusia-dwipa, where the greatest part of them chose to remain, and received afterwards a terrible overthrow from Parasu-rama: the others passed into Sancha-dwip, and settled on the banks of the Cali: but having revolted against De'va-nahusha, they were almost wholly extirpated by that potent monarch.
Violent feuds had long subsisted between the family of Gautama on one side, and those of Viswamitra and Jamadagni on the other; the kings of Cusha-dwip within took the part of Gautama; and the Haibayas, a very powerful nation in that country (whom I believe to have been Persians) were inveterate against Jamadagni, whom they killed after defeating his army. [p.351] Among the confederates in Cusia-dwipa were the Romacas, or dressed in hair-cloth; the Sacas, and a tribe of them called Sacascnas; the Hindus of the Cshatriy class, who then lived on the banks of the Chacshus, or Oxus; the Parasicas, a nation beyond the Nile; the Bariaras, or people of Nubia; the inhabitants of Camhaja; the Ciratas and Haritas, two tribes of the Pallis; and the Yavanas, or ancestors of the Greeks. These allies entered India, and defeated the troops of Viswamitra in the country, called Yudha-humi, or the Land of War, now Yebud, between the Indus and the Bebat.
Parasu-Rama, the son of Jamadagni, but supposed afterwards to have been a portion of the divine essence in a human form, was enraged at the success of the confederates, and circulated a publick declaration, that Nared had urged him to extirpate them entirely; assuring him, that the people of Cusha-dwipa, who dwelt in the hollows of mountains, were cravyadas, or carnivorous; and that their King CRAVYADA'DHIPETI, or Chief Ruler of Cannibals, had polluted both earth and water, which were two of the eight forms of Isa, with the mangled limbs and blood of the strangers, whom he and his abominable subjects had cruelly devoured. After this proclamation, Parasu-Rama invaded Cusha-dwipa and attacked the army of Cravyadadhipeti, who stepped from the ranks, and challenged him to single combat: they began with hurling rocks at each other; and Rama was nearly crushed under a mountain, thrown by his adversary; but, having disengaged himself, he darted huge serpents, which enfolded the giant in an inextricable maze, and at length destroyed him. The blood of the monster formed the Lobita-chanda, and that of his army, the Lohitoda, or river with bloody waters; it is, I believe, the Adonis of the ancients, now called Nabru Ibrahim, the waters of which, at certain seasons of the year, have a sanguine tint, I su- [p.352]ppose Cravyadadhipati to be the Lycurgus Edonos of the Greeks, who reigned in Palestine and in the country around Dawascus: his friend Caiceya, whom the Greeks called Orontes, renewed the fight, and was also slain. Then came the King of the Cutila-cesas, and Mahasvama, ruler of the Syama-muchas, and usually residing in Arvasthan, or Arabia; the former of whom I conceive to be Blemys; and the second Arabu whom the Greek Mythologists also named Orobandas and Oruandeb: they fought a long time with valour, but were defeated; and on their humiliating themselves and imploring forgiveness, were allowed to retire, with the remains of their army, to the banks of the Cali, where they settled; while Parasu-rama, having terminated the war in Cusha-dwipa, returned to his own country, where he was destined to meet with adventures yet more extraordinary.
This legend is told nearly in the same manner by the poet Nonnus, a native of Egypt; who says that, after the defeat of Lycurgus, the Arabs yielded and offered sacrifices to Bacchus; a title corrupted from Bhagavat, or the preserving power, of which a ray or portion had become incarnate in the person of Parasu-rama; he relates, that "Blemys, with curled hair, chief of the ruddy, or Erythrean Indians held up a bloodless olive branch with the supplicating troops, and bowed a servile knee to Dionysos, who had slain his Indian subjects; that the God, beholding him bent to the ground, took him by the hand and raised him; but conveyed him, together with his many-tongued people, far from the dark Erythrean Indians, (since he abhorred the government and manners of Deriadsus) to the skirt of Arabia; that he, near the contiguous ocean, dwelt in the happy region, and gave a name to the inhabitants of its towns; but that rapid Blemys passed onward to the mouth of the Nile with seven branches, destined to be contemporary ruler over the people of Ethiopia; [p.353] that the low ground of Etherian Meroe received him as a chiefs who should leave his name to the Blemyes born in subsequent ages."28
The emigration of the Cutila-cesas from India to Egypt is mentioned likewise by Philostratus in his life of Apollonius. When that singular man visited the Brahmen, who lived on the hills, to the north of Sri-nagara, at a place now called Trilaci-narayana near the banks of the Ciddra-ganga, the chief Brahmen, whom he calls Iarchas, gave him the following relation concerning the origin of the Ethiops: "They resided, said he, formerly in this country, under the dominion of a king, named Ganges; during whose reign the Gods took particular care of them, and the earth produced abundantly whatever was necessary for their subsistence; but, having slain their king, they were considered by other Indians as defiled and abominable. Then the seeds, which they committed to the earth, rotted; their women had constant abortions; their cattle was emaciated; and, wherever they began to build places of abode, the ground sank and their houses fell: the spirit of the murdered king incessantly haunted them, and would not be appeased until the actual perpetrators of the murder had been buried alive; and even then the earth forbad them to remain longer in this country. Their sovereign, a son of the river Ganges, was near ten cubits high, and the most majestick personage, that ever appeared in the form of man: his father had one every nearly overflowed all India, but he directed the course of the waters towards the sea, and rendered them highly beneficial to the land; the goddess of which supplied him, while he lived with abundance, and fully avenged his death."29 The basis of this tale is unquestionably [p.354] Indian, though it be clearly corrupted in some particulars: no Brahmen was ever named Iarchas, which may be a corruption of Arsha, or Arcsia, or, possibly, of Yasca, the name of a sage, who wrote a glossary for the Vedas; nor was the Ganges ever considered as a male deity; but the son of Ganga, or Gangbya, was a celebrated hero. According to the Hindu legends, when Capila had destroyed the children of Sagara, and his army of Cusila-cisas had migrated to another dwipa, the Indian monarch was long inconsolable, but his great grandson Bhagratha conducted the present Ganges to the spot, where the ashes of his kindred lay; and they were no sooner touched by the divine water, than the sixty thousand princes sprang to life again: another story is, that, when the Ganges and other great rivers were swoln to such a degree, that the goddess of Earth was apprehensive of a general inundation, Bhagiratha (leaving other holy men to take care of inferiour rivers) led the Ganges, from him named Bhagirathi, to the ocean, and rendered her salutary to the earth, instead of destructive to it. These tales are obviously the same in substance with that told by Iarchas, but with some variations and additional circumstances. Apollonius most certainly had no knowledge of the Indian language; nor is it on the whole credible, that he was ever in India or Ethiopia, or even at Babylon: he never wrote an account of his travels; but the sophist Philostratus, who seems to have had a particular design in writing the history of his life, might have possessed valuable materials, by the occasional use of which he imposed more easily on the publick. Some traveller might have conversed with a set of ignorant Samiyajis, who had, what most of them now have, an imperfect knowledge of ancient legends concerning the Devatas, and the description, which Philostratus gives, of the place in the hills, where the supposed Brahmens resided, corresponds exactly with, a place called Triloci-narasona in the Puranas, which has been described to me from the information of Sannyasis, who ignorantly called it [p.355] Triyogi-narayan; but, for a particular account of it; I must refer to a geographical and historical description of the Ganges and the countries adjacent to it, which I have nearly completed.
The people named Cutila-cesas are held by some Brahmens to be the same with the Hasyasilas, or at least a branch of them; and some suppose, that the Hasyasilss are the before-mentioned remnant of this Cutila-cesas, who first settled on the banks of the Nile and, after their expulsion from Egypt by DITVANAHUSHA, were scattered over the African deserts; the Gaituli, or Gaityli, were of old the most powerful nation in Africa, and I should suppose them to be descendants of the first Cutilas or Cutils (for so they are frequently called, especially in conversation) who settled first near the Cali river, and were also named Hafyastlas; but they must have dwelt formerly in Bengal: if there be any historical facts for the legend of Capila, who was performing acts of religious austerity at the mouth of the Ganges, near old Sagar, or Ganges, in the Sunderbad. They were black and had curled hair, like the Egyptians in the time of Herodotus; but at present there are no such negros in India, except in the Andaman islands, which are now said to be peopled by cannibals, as they were, according to Ptolemy, at least eighteen hundred years ago: From Andaman the Greeks made Eudaimen, and conceived it to be the residence of a good genius. It is certain, that very ancient statues of Gods in India have crisp hair, and the features of negros: some have caps, or tiaras, with curls depending over their foreheads, according to the precise meaning of the epithet Cutilalaca; others, indeed, seem to have thick locks curled by art, and braided above in a thick knot; but I have seen many idols, on which the woolly appearance of the hair was so well represented as to preclude all doubt; and we may naturally suppose, that they were made by the Cutilasifas, when they prevailed in this country. The Brahmen [p.356] ascribe these idols to the Bauddhas, and nothing can hurt them more, than to say that any of their own Gods had the figure of Hahajhis, or negros; and even the hair of Buddha himself, for whom they have no small degree of respect, they consider as twitted in braids, like that of some modern Sannyasis; but this will not account for the thick lips and flat noses of those ancient images; nor can it reasonably be doubted, that a race of negros, formerly, had power and pre-eminence in India. In several parts of India the mountaineers have still some resemblance to negros in their countenance and hair, which is curled and has a tendency to wool: it is very probable, that, by intermarriages with other outcasts, who have black complexions but straight hair, they have changed in a course of ages, like the Cutila-cesas, or old Egyptians; for the modern Copts are far from answering to the description given by Herodotus, and their features differ considerably from those of the mummies, and of ancient statues brought from Egypt, whence it appears, that their ancestors had large eyes with a long slit, projecting lips, and folded ears of a remarkable size.
V. Or the Syama-muc'bas, who migrated from India, the origin is not yet perfectly known; but their faces were black and their hair straight, that of the Hindus, who dwell on the plains: they were I believe the straight-haired Ethiops of the ancients,29 and their king, surnamed Mahasyama, or the Great Black, was probably the king Arabua, mentioned by the Greek Mythologists, who was contemporary with Ninus. They were much attached to the Cutila-cesas, whence we may infer, that the religious tenets of the two nations were nearly the same. It is believed, that they were the first inhabitants of Arva-sthan, or Arabia; but passed thence into Africa, and settled on the banks of the Nile: the part of Egypt, which lies to the east of that river, is by [p.357] some considered as part of Arabia; and the people who lived between the Mediterranean and Meroe, were by Juba said to be Arabs.
VI. The first origin of the Denavas, or Children of Danu, is as little known as that of the tribe last mentioned; but they came into Egypt from the west of India; and their leader was Beli, thence named Danavendra, who lived at the time, when the Fadmamandira was erected on the banks of the Cumudzati: the Denavas, whom he governed, are frequently mentioned in the Puranas among the inhabitants of countries adjacent to the Cali.
As to the Stri-rajya, or country governed by women, the Hindus assert, that the sovereign of it was always a
Queen, and that all her officers, civil and military, were females, while the
great body of the
nation lived as in other countries; but they have not in this respect carried
the extravagance of fable to the same pitch with the Greeks in their accounts of
the Amazons: it is related in the Mallari Mahatmya, that, when Ravana was
apprehensive of being totally defeated, he sent his wives to distant countries,
where they might be secure; that they first settled on the Indian peninsula near
the site of Sriranga-paitana, or Seringapatnam, but that, being disturbed in
that station, part of them proceeded to the north of Dwaraca in Gujarat, and
part into Sancha-dwipa, where they formed a government of women, whence their
settlement was called Strirdjya. It was on the sea-shore near the Cula
mountains, extending about forty yojanas in length, and surrounded by low swampy
grounds, named Jalabhumi, in Sanscrit, and Daldal in the vulgar idiom;
therefore, must be the country of Said, now Asab, which was governed by a
celebrated Queen, and the land round which has to this day the name of Talta.
The Cula mountains are that range, which extends from Dobarowd, the
ancient geographers, to the source of the Tacazze, which [p.358] Ptolemy calls the marsh
of Coloe; a word which I suppose to be derived from the Sanscrit.
VII. Yavana is a regular participial form of the root yu, to mix, so that yavana, like misra, might have signified no more than a mingled people: but, since yoni, or the female nature, is also derived from the same root, many Pandits insist, that the Yavanas were so named from their obstinate assertion of a superiour influence in the female, over the linga, or male nature, in producing a perfect offspring. It may seem strange, that a question of mere physiology mould have occasioned not only a vehement religious contest, but even a bloody war, yet the fact appears to be historically true, though the Hindu writers have dressed it up, as usual, in a veil of extravagant allegories and mysteries, which we would call obscene, but which they, consider as awfully sacred. They represent Na'ra'yana moving, as his name implies, on the waters, in the character of the first male, and the principle of all nature, which was wholly surrounded in the beginning by tamas, or darkness, the Chaos and primordial Night of the Greek Mythologies, and, perhaps, the Thaumaz or Thamas of the ancient Egyptians: the Chaos is also called Pracrtti, or crude Nature, and the male deity has the name of Purusha, from whom proceeded Sacti, or power, which, when it is ascribed to the earth, in contradistinction to the waters, is denominated Adhara S'acti, or, the power of containing or conceiving; but that power in its first state was rather a tendency or aptitude, and lay dormant or inert, until it was excited by the bija, or vivifying principle, of the plastick I'swara. This power, or aptitude, of nature is represented under the symbol of the yoni, or bhaga, while the animating principle is expressed by the linga: both are united by the creative power, Brahma; and the yoni has been called the navel of Vishnu, not identically, but nearly; for, though it is held in the Vedanta [p.359] that the divine spirit penetrates or pervades all nature, and though the Sacti be considered as an emanation from that spirit, yet the emanation is never wholly detached from its source, and the penetration is never so perfect as to become a total union or identity. In another point of view Brahma corresponds with the Chronos, or Time, of the Greek mythologies; for through him generations pass on successively, ages and periods are by him put in motion, terminated, and renewed, while he dies and springs to birth alternately; his existence or energy continuing for a hundred of his years, during which he produces and devours all beings of less longevity. Vishnu represents water, or the humid principle; and Iswara, fire, which recreates or destroys, as it is differently applied: Prithivi, or earth, and Ravi, or the Sun, are severally trimurtis, or forms of the three great powers acting jointly and separately, but with different natures and energies, and by their mutual action, excite and expand the rudiments of material substances. The word murti, or form, is exactly synonymous with [Greek], and, in a secondary sense, means an image; but in its primary acceptation, it denotes any shape or appearance assumed by a celestial being: our vital fouls are, according to the Vedanta, no more than images, or [Greek], of the Supreme spirit, and Homer places the idol of Hercules in Elysium with other deceased heroes, though the God himself was at the same time enjoying bliss in the heavenly mansions. Such a murti, say the Hindus, can by no means affect with any sensation, either pleating or painful, the being, from which it emaned; though it may give pleasure or pain to collateral emanations from the same source: hence they offer no sacrifices to the supreme Essence, of which our own souls are images, but adore him with silent meditation; while they make frequent homas, or oblations; to fire, and perform acts of worship to the Sun, the stars, the Earth, and the powers of nature, which they confider as murtis, or images, the same in kind with ourselves, but transcendently higher in degree.[p.360] The Moon is also a great object of their adoration; for, though they consider the Sun and Earth as the two grand agents in the system of the universe, yet they know their reciprocal action to be greatly affected by the influence of the lunar orb according to their several aspects, and seem even to have an idea of attraction through the whole extent of nature. This system was known to the ancient Egyptians; for according to Diodorus,30 their Vulcan, or elemental fire was the great and powerful deity, whose influence contributed chiefly toward the generation and perfection of natural bodies; while the ocean, by which they meant water in a collective sense, afforded the nutriment that was necessary; and the Earth was the vase, or capacious receptacle, in which this grand operation of nature was performed: hence Orpheus described the earth as the universal Mother; and this is the true meaning of the Sanscrit word Amba. Such is the system of those Hindus, who admit an equal concurrence of the two principles; but the declared followers of Vishnu profess very different opinions from those adopted by the votaries of Iswara: each sect also is subdivided according to the degree of influence, which some of them allow to be possessed by that principle, which on the whole they depreciate; but the pure Vaishnavas are in truth the same with the Yonijas, of whom we shall presently give a more particular account.
This diversity of opinion seems to have occasioned the general war, which is often mentioned in the Puranas, and was celebrated by the poets of the West, as the basis of the Grecian Mythology: I mean that between the Gods, led by Jupiter, and the Giants, or Sons of the Earth; or, in other words, between the followers of Iswara and the Yonijas, or men produced, as they asserted, by Prithivi, a power or form of Vishnu; for Nonnus expressly [p.361] declares31 that the war in question arose between the partizans of Jupiter and those, who acknowledged no other deities but Water and Earth: according to both Nonnus and the Hindu Mythologists, it began in India, whence it was spread over the whole globe, and all mankind appear to have borne a part in it.
These religious and physiological contests were disguised, in Egypt and India, under a veil of the wildest allegories and emblems. On the banks of the Nile, Osiris was torn in pieces; and on those of the Ganges, the limbs of his consort Isis or Satti, were scattered over the world, giving names to the places, where they fell, and where they still are superstitiously worshipped: in the book entitled Maha cala-sanhita, we find the Grecian story concerning the wanderings of Damater, and the lamentations of Bacchus; for Iswara, having been mutilated, through the imprecations of some offended Munis, rambled over the whole earth, bewailing his misfortune; while Isis wandered also through the world singing mournful ditties in a state of distraction. There is a legend in the Servarasai of which the figurative meaning is more obvious. When Sati, after the close of her existence as the daughter of Dacsha, sprang again to life in the character of Parvati, or Mountain, born, she was reunited in marriage to Mahadeva: this divine pair had once a dispute on the comparative influence of the sexes, in producing animated beings, and each resolved, by mutual agreement, to create apart a new race of men. The race produced by Mahadeva was very numerous, and devoted themselves exclusively to the worship of the male deity; but their intellects were dull, their bodies feeble, their limbs distorted, and their complexions of different hues: Parvati, had at the same time created [p.362] a multitude of human beings who adored the female power only and were all well shaped, with sweet aspects, and fine complexions. A furious contest ensued between the two races, and the Ungajas were defeated in battle; but Mahadeva, enraged against the Yonijas, would have destroyed them with the fire of his eye, if Parvati had not interposed and appeased him; but he would spare them only on condition, that they should instantly leave the country with a promise to see it no more; and from the yoni which they adored as the sole cause of their existence, they were named Yavanas. It is said, in another passage, that, they sprang from the cow Savila; but that cow was an incarnation of the goddess Isi; and here we find the Egyptian Io legend, adopted by the Greeks, of Io and Isis. After their expulsion, they settled, according to the Puranas, partly on the borders of Vardbadwip, and partly in the two dwipas of Cusha, where they supported themselves by predatory excursions and piracy, and used to conceal their booty in the long grass of Cusha-dwip within; but Parvati constantly protected them, and, after the severe punishment of their revolt against Deva-nahush, or Dionysius, gave them a fine country, where, in a short time, they became a flourishing nation. Those Yavanas, who remained in the land of Cusha, and on the banks of the Cali were perhaps the Helknick shepherds, mentioned in Egyptian history; and, it is probable, that great part of those, who bad revolted against Dionysius, retired after their defeat into Greece: all the old founders of colonies in that country had come originally from Egypt; and even the Athenians admitted that their ancestors formerly refined in the districts round Sais.
It is evident that the strange tale in the Servarasa was invented to establish the opinion of the Yonyancitas, or votaries of Devi, that the good shape, strength, and courage of animals depend on the superiour influence of the [p.363] female parent, whose powers are only excited and put into action by the male aura; but the Ungdncitas maintain an opposite doctrine, and the known superiority of mules, begotten by horses, over those which are brought forth by mares, appears to confirm their opinion, which might also be supported by many other examples from the animal and vegetable worlds. There is a sect of Hindus, by far the most numerous of any, who, attempting to reconcile the two systems, tell us, in their allegorical style, that Parvati and Mahadeva found their concurrence essential to the perfection of their offspring, and that Vishnu, at the request of the goddess, effected a reconciliation between them: hence the navel of Vishnu, by which they mean the os tincæ is worshipped as one and the same with the sacred yoni. This emblem too was Egyptian and the mystery seems to have been solemnly typified, in the temple of Jupiter Ammon, by the vast umbilicus made of stone, and carried, by eighty men, in a hat, which represented the sossa novicularis: such I believe was the mystical hat of Isis, which according to Lactantius, was adored in Egypt;32 we are assured by Tacitus, that the Suevi, one of the oldest and most powerful German nations, worshipped Isis in the form of a ship; and the Chaldeans insisted, that the Earth, which, in the Hindu system, represents Parvati, was shaped and hollowed like an immense boot. From Egypt the type was imported into Greece; and an umbilicus of white marble was kept at Delphi in the sanctuary of the temple, where it was carefully wrapt up in cloth.33 The mystical hat is called also, by Greek Mythologists, the cup of the Sun, in which Hercules, they say, traversed the Ocean; and this Hercules, according to them, was the son of Jupiter; but the Greeks, by whom the notion of an avatara, or descent of a god in a human form, had [p.364] not been generally adopted, considered those as the sons, whom the Hindus consider as incarnate rays or portions, of their several deities: now Jupiter was the Iswara of the Hindus and the Osiris of the Egyptians; and Hercules was an avatara of the same divinity, who is figured, among the ruins of Luxarein, in a hat, which eighteen men bear on their shoulders. The Indians commonly represent this mystery of their physiological religion by the emblem of a Nymphæa, or Lotos, floating like a boat on the boundless ocean; where the whole plant signifies both the Earth and the two principles of its fecundation: the germ is both Meru and the linga; the petals and filaments are the mountains, which encircle Meru, and are also a type of the yoni; the leaves of the calyx are the four vast regions to the cardinal points of Meru, and the leaves of the plants are the dwipas or isles, round the land of Jambu. Another of their emblems is called Argha, which means a cup or dish, or any other vessel, in which fruit, wild flowers are offered to the deities; and which ought always to shaped like a boat, though we now see arghas of many different forms, oval, circular, or square; and hence it is that Iswara has the title of Arghanatha, or the Lord of the boat-shaped vessel: a rim round the argha represents the mysterious yoni, and the navel of Vishnu is commonly denoted by a convexity in the centre, while the contents of the vessel are symbols of the linga. This argha, as a type of the adhara-sacti, or power of conception, excited and vivified by the linga, or Phallus, I cannot but suppose to be 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 Argus at the instance of Juno:34 the word Yoni, as it is usually pronounced, nearly resembles the name of the principal Hetruscan Goddess, and the Sanscrit phrase Arghanasha Iswara seems accurately rendered by Plutarch, when [p.365] he asserts that Osiris was commander of the Argo.35 I cannot yet affirm that the words phala, or fruit, and phulla, or a flower, have ever the sense of Phallus; but fruit and flowers are the chief oblations in the argha, and triphala is a name sometimes given, especially in the west of India, to the trisvla, or trident, of Mahadeva: in an essay on the geographical antiquities of India I shall show, that the Jupiter Tripbylius of the Panchæan islands was no other than Siva holding a tripbala, who is represented also with three eyes, to denote a triple energy, as Vishnu and Prithivi, are severally typified by an equilateral triangle (which likewise gives an idea of capacity) and conjointly, when their powers are supposed to be combined, by two such equal triangles intersecting each other.
The three sects, which have been mentioned, appear to have been distinct also in Greece, 1. According to Theodoret, Arnobius, and Clemens of Alexandria, the Yoni of the Hindus was the sole object of veneration, in the mysteries of Eleusis: when the people of Syracuse were sacrificing to goddesses, they offered cakes in a certain shape, called μυλλοι; and in some temples, where the priestesses were probably ventriloquists, they so far imposed on the credulous multitude, who came to adore the yoni, as to make them believe that it spoke and gave oracles. 2. The rites of the Phallus were so well known among the Greeks, that a metre, consisting of three trochees only, derived its name from them: in the opinion of those, who compiled the Puranas, the Phallus was first publickly worshipped, by the name of Basewarra-Linga, on the banks of the Cumodoati, or Eufrates; and the Jews, according to Rabbi Aeha, seem to have had some such idea, as we may collect from their strange tale concerning the different earths, which formed the body of Adam.36 3. The middle sect, however, which is now [p.366] prevalent in India, was generally diffused over ancient Europe; and was introduced by the Pelargi, who were the same, as we learn from Herodotus, with the Pelasgi. The very word Pelargos was probably derived from Phala and Argha, those mysterious types, which the later mythologists disguised under the names of Pallas and Argo; and this conjecture is confirmed by the rites of a deity, named PELARGA, who was worshipped near Thebes and Bœotia, and to whom, says Pausanias, no victim was offered but a female recently covered and impregnated a cruel sacrifice, which the Indian law positively forbids, but which clearly shows the character of the goddess, to whom it was thought acceptable. We are told, that her parents were Potneus and Istimias, or Bacchus and Ino (for the Bacchantes were called also Potniades) by whom we cannot but understand Osiris and Isis, or the Iswara and Isi of the Hindus. The three words, Amba, Nabhi, and Argha seem to have caused great confusion among the Greek Mythologists, who even ascribed to the Earth all the fanciful shapes of the Argha, which was intended at first as a mere emblem: hence they represented it in the shape of a boat, or a cup, or of a quoit with a boss in the centre, sloping toward the circumference, where they placed the ocean; others described it as a square or a parallelogram,37 and Greece was supposed to lie on the summit with Delphi in the navel, or central part, of the whole;38 as the Jews and even the first Christians, insisted, that the true navel of the earth was Jerusalem; and as the Muselmans hold Mecca to be the Mother of Cities and the nafi zemin, or Earth's navel. All these notions appear to have arisen from the worship, of which we have been treating: the yoni and nabbi, or navel, are together denominated amba, or mother; but gradually the words amba, nabbi, and argha have become synonymous; and as [Greek] and umbo seem to be derived from [p.367] Amba, or the circular argha with a boss like a target, [Greek] and umbilicus apparently spring from the same root, and even the word navel, though originally Gothick, was the same anciently with nabbi in Sanscrit, and naf in Persian. The sacred ancilia, one of which was revered as the Palladium of Rome, were probably types of a similar nature to the argha, and the shields, which used to be suspended in temples, were possibly votive ambas. At Delphi the mystick Omphalos was continually celebrated in hymns as a sacred pledge of divine favour, and the navel of the world; thus the mystick boat was held by some of the first emigrants from Asia to be their palladium, or pledge of safety, and, as such, was carried by them in their various journeys; whence the poets feigned, that the Argo was borne over mountains on the shoulders of the Argonauts. I know how differently these ancient emblems of the Hindus, the Lotos and mount Meru, the Argha, or sacred vessel, and the name Argbandiba, would have been applied by Mr. Bryant; but I have examined both applications without prejudice, and adhere to my own as the more probable, because it corresponds with the known rites and ceremonies of the Hindus, and is confirmed by the oldest records of their religion.
Such have been, according to the Puranas, the various emigrations from India to Cushadwip; and hence part of Africa was called India by the Greeks: the Nile, says Theophylact, flows through Lydia, Ethiopia, and India;39 the people of Mauritania are said, by Strabo, to have been Indians or Hindus;40 and Abyssinia was called Middle India in the time of Marco Polo. Where Ovid speaks of ANDROMEDA, he asserts, that she came from India; [p.368] but we shall show, in another section, that the scene of her adventures was the region adjacent to the Nile: the country between the Caspian and Euxine, had the names both of India and Ethiopia; even Arachosia is called White India by Isidorus; and we have already mentioned the Yellow India of the Persian, and the Yellow Indians of the Turkish geographers. The most venerable emigrants from India were the Yedavas: they were the blameless and pious Ethiopians whom Homer mentions and calls the remotest of mankind. Part of them, say the old Hindu writers, remained in this country; and hence we read of two Ethiopian nations, the Western and the Oriental: some of them lived far to the east, and they are the Vedavas, who stayed in India; while others resided far to the west, and they are the sacred race, who settled on the shores of the Atlantick. We are positively assured by Herodotus, that the oriental Ethiopians were Indiana; and hence we may infer, that India was known to Greeks, in the age of Homer, by the name of eastern Ethiopia; they could not then have known it by the appellation of India, because that word, whatever may be its original meaning, was either framed or corrupted by the Persians, with whom, as long as their monarchs remained satisfied with their own territories, the Greeks had no sort of connexion. They called it also the land of Panchæa, but knew so little of it, that, when they heard of India, through their intercourse with the Persians, they supposed it to be quite a different country. In Persian the word Hindu means both an Indian and any thing black, but whether, in the latter sense, it be used metaphorically, or was an adjective in the old language of Persia, I am unable to ascertain: it appears from the book of Esther, that India was known to the Hebrews in Persia by the name of Hoiu, which has some resemblance to the word Yaiu, and may have been only a corruption of it. Hindu cannot regularly be derived as an English writer has suggested, from a Sanscrit name of the moon, since that name is Indu; but it may be corrupted from Sindlu, [p.369] or the Indus, as a learned Brahmen has conjectured, for the hissing letter is often changed into an aspirate; and the Greek name for that river seems to strengthen his conjecture. Be it as it may, the words Hindu and Hindustan occur in no Sanscrit book of great antiquity; but the epithet Hahtdava, in a derivative form, is used by the poet Calidas: the modern Brahmens, when they write or speak Sanscrit, call themselves Hindus; but they give the name of Cumara-chanda to their country on both sides the Ganges, including part of the peninsula, and that of Naga-chanda to the districts bordering on the Indus.
Next to the emigration of the Yedavas, then most celebrated was that of the Palis, or Palipuras; many of whose settlements were named Palisthan, which the Greeks changed into Palaistine, a country so called was on the banks of the Tigris, and another in Syria; the river Strymon had the epithet Palaistinos; in Italy we find the Pelestini, and, at the mouth of the Po, a town called Philistina; to which may be added the Philistiinæ fossiones, and the Palestinæ arenæ in Epirus. As the Greeks wrote Palai for Pali, they rendered the word Paliputra by Palaigainos, which also means the offspring of Pali; but they sometimes retained the Sanscrit word for son, and the town of Palaipairai, to this day called Paliputra by the natives, stood on the shore of the Helispon: these disquisitions, however, would lead me too far; and I proceed to demonstrate the ancient intercourse between Egypt and India, by a faithful epitome of some mythological and astronomical fables which were common to both those countries.
SECTION THE SECOND
OSIRIS, or, more properly, Ysiris, according to Hellanicus, was a name used in Egypt for the Supreme Being;41 as in Sanscrit it signifies Lord, and, [p.370] in that sense, is applied by the Brahmens to each of their three principal deities, or rather to each of the principal forms, in which they teach the people to adore BRAHM, or the Great One; and, if it be appropriated in common speech to Mahadeva, this proceeds from the zeal of his numerous votaries, who place him above their two other divinities. Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahadeva, say the Pauranics, were brothers; and the Egyptian Triad, or Osiris, Horus, and Typhon, were brought forth by the same parent, though Horus was believed to have sprung from the mysterious embraces of Osiris and Isis before their birth; as the Vaishnavas also imagine, that HARA, or Mahadeva, sprang mystically from his brother Heri, or Vishnu. In the Hindu mythology Brahma is represented of a red, Vishnu, of a black, or dark azure, and Hara of a white, complexion; but in that of Egypt we find Osiris black, Horus white, and Typhon red: the indiscriminate application of the title Iswara has occasioned great confusion in the accounts, which the Greeks have transmitted to us, of Egyptian Mythology; for the priests of Egypt were very reserved on subjects of religion, and the Grecian travellers had in general too little curiosity to investigate such points with scrupulous exactness: since Osiris, however, was painted black, we may presume, that he was Vishnu, who, on many occasions, according to the Puranas, took Egypt under his special protection Crishna was Vishnu himself, according to the most orthodox opinion; and it was he, who visited the countries adjacent to the Nile, destroyed the tyrant Sanchasura, introduced a more perfect mode of worship, cooled the conflagrations, which had repeatedly desolated those adust regions, and established the government of the Cutila-cesas, or genuine Egyptians, on a permanent basis: thus Osiris, as we are told by Plutarch, [p.371] taught the old Egyptians to make laws and to honour the Gods. The title Sri-Bhagavat, importing prosperity and dominion, is given peculiarly to Chrishna, or the black deity, and the black Osiris had also the title of Sirius, Seirius, and Bacchus. It is related, indeed, that Osiris, or Bacchus, imported from India the worship of two divine Bulls; and, in this character, he was Mahadeva, whose followers were pretty numerous in Egypt: for Hermapion, in his explanation of the hieroglyphicks on the Heliopolitan obelisk, calls Horus, the Supreme Lord and the author of Time:42 now Iswara, or Lord, and Cala, or Time, are among the distinguished titles of Mahadeva; and obelisks or pillars whatever be their shape, are among his emblems. In the Vrihad-haima,, which appears to contain many curious legends concerning Egypt, it is expressly said, that is Iswara, with his consort Parvati, descended from heaven, and chose for his abode "the land of Misra in Sancha-dwip." We must observe, that the Egyptians feared and abhorred Typhon, Mahadeva in his character of the Destroyer; and the Hindus also dread him in that character, giving him the name of Bhairaza, or tremendous: the Egyptian fable of his attempt to break the Mundane Egg is applied to Mahadeva in the little book Chandi, which is chiefly extracted from the Marcandeya Purana. There is a striking resemblance between the legendary wars of the three principal Gods in Egypt and India; as Osiris gave battle to Typhon, who was defeated at length and even killed by Horus, so Brahma fought with Vishnu and gained an advantage over him, but was overpowered by Mahadeva, who cut off one of his five heads; an allegory, of which I cannot pretend to give the meaning.
Plutarch asserts, that the priests of Egypt called the Sun their Lord and King;
and their three Gods resolve themselves ultimately into him alone: Osiris was
the Sun; Horus was the Sun; and so I suppose was Typhon, or the god of
destructive heat, though Plutarch says gravely, that such, as maintained that
opinion, were not worthy to he heard. The case was nearly the same in ancient
law; but there is no subject, on which the modern Brahmens are more reserved;
for, when they are closely interrogated on the title of Deva, or God, which
their most sacred books give to the Sun, they avoid a direct answer, have
recourse to evasions, and often contradiction one another and themselves: they
confess, however, unanimously, that the Sun is an emblem, or image, of their
three great deities jointly and individually, that is, of Brahm, or the Supreme
One, who alone exists really and absolutely, the three male divinities
themselves being only Maya, or illusion. The body of the sun they consider as
Maya; but, since he is the most glorious and active emblem of God, they respect
him as an object of high veneration. All this must appear very mysterious; but
it flows from the principal tenet of the Vedantis, that the only being, which
has absolute and real existence, is the divine spirit, infinitely wise,
infinitely benign, and infinitely powerful, expanded through the universe, not
merely as soul of the world, but as the provident ruler of it, sending forth
rays or emanations from his own essence, which are the pure vital souls of all
animated creatures, whether moveable or immoveable, that is, (as we should
express ourselves) both animals and vegetables, and which he calls back to himself, according
to certain laws established by his unlimited wisdom; though Brahma be neuter in
the character of the Most High One, yet, in that of Supreme Ruler, he is
named Parameswara; but, though the infinite veneration, to which he is entitled,
the Hindus meditate on him with silent adoration, and offer prayers and
sacrifice only to the higher emanations from him. In a mode incomprehensible [p.373] to inferiour creatures, they are involved at first in the gloom of Maya, and
subject to various taints from attachment to worldly Passions; but they can
never be reunited to their source, until they dispel the illusion by
self-denial, renunciation of the world, and intellectual abstractions, and until
they remove the impurities, which they have contracted, by repentance,
mortification, and successive passages through the forms of animals or
vegetables according to their demerits: in such a reunion consists their final
beatitude, and to effect it by the best possible means is the object of their
supreme ruler; who, in order to reclaim the vicious, to punish the incorrigible,
to protect the oppressed, to destroy the oppressor, to encourage and reward the
good, and to show all spirits the path to their ultimate happiness, has been
pleased, say the Brahmens, to manifest himself in a variety of ways, from age to
age, in all parts of the habitable world. When he also immediately, without assuming a shape, or sending forth a new emanation, as when a
divine found is heard from the sky, that manifestation of himself is called
Acdavdni, or an ethereal voice; when the voice proceeds from a meteor, or a
flame, it is said to be agnirupti or formed of fire, but an avatara
is a descent of the deity in the shape of a mortal; and in avantara is a similar
incarnation of an inferiour kind, intended to answer some purpose of less
moment. The Supreme Being, and the celestial emanations from him, are
or bodiless, in which state they must be invisible to mortals; but, when they are
pratyacsha, or obvious to sight, they become sacara or embodied, either in
shapes different from that of any mortal, and expressive of the divine
attributes, as Crishna revealed him to Arjun, or in a human form, which Crishna
usually bore; and, in that mode of appearing, the deities are generally supposed
to be born of women, but without any carnal intercourse. Those, who follow the
Purva Mimansa, or philosophy of Jaimimi, admit no such incarnations of deities,
but insist, that the Devas were mere mortals, [p.374] whom the Supreme Being was pleased
to endue with qualities approaching to his own attributes; and the Hindus in
general perform acts of worship to some of their ancient monarchs and sages, who
were deified in consequence of their eminent virtues. After these introductory
remarks we proceed to the several manifestations, in Egypt and other countries
adjacent to the Nile of Devi
the three principal gods of the Hindus, as they are expressly related in the
Puranas and other Sanscrit books of antiquity.
Devi, or the Goddess, and Isi or the Sovereign Goddess is the Isis of Egypt, and represents Nature in general, but in particular the Earth, which the Indians call Prithivi; while water and humidity of all kinds are supposed by the Hindus to proceed from Vishnu; as they were by the Egyptians to proceed from Osiris: this account of Isis we find corroborated by Plutarch; and Servius asserts, that the very word Isis means Earth in the language of the Egyptians; but this I conceive to be an errour.
I. It is related in the Scanda, that when the whole earth was covered with water, and Vishnu lay extended asleep in the bosom of Devi, a lotos arose from his navel, and its ascending flower soon reached the surface of the flood; that BRAHMA sprang from that flower, and, looking round without seeing any creature; on the boundless expanse, imagined himself to be the first born, and entitled to rank above all future beings; yet resolved to investigate the deep, and to ascertain whether any being existed in it, who could controvert his claim to' pre-eminence; He glided, therefore, down the side of the lotos, and, finding Vishnu asleep, asked loudly who he was: "I am the first born," answered Vishnu waking; and, when Brahma, denied his primogeniture, they had an obstinate battle, till Mahadeva pressed between them in great wrath, saying: "It is I, who am truly the first born; but I will resign my pretensions [p.375] to either of you, who shall be able to reach and behold the summit of my head or the soles of my feet."
Brahma, instantly ascended, but, having fatigued himself, to no purpose, in the regions of immensity, yet loth to abandon his claim, returned to Mahadeva, declaring that he had attained and seen the crown of his head, and callings as his witness, the first born cow: for this union of pride and falsehood the angry god ordained, that no sacred rites should be performed to Brahma, and that the mouth of the cow should be defiled and a cause bf defilement, as it is declared to be in the coldest Indian laws. When Vishnu returned, he acknowledged, that he had not been able to see the feet of Mahadeva, who then told him, that he was really the first born among the Gods, and should be raised above all: it was after this, that Mahadeva cut off the fifth head of Brahma, whose pride, says the writer of the Scanda Purana, occasioned his loss of power and influence in the countries bordering on the river Cali, Whether these wild stories on the wars of the three principal Gods mean only, the religious wars between the several sectaries, or whether they have any more hidden meaning, it is evident from the Puranas, which represent Egypt as the theatre of action, that they are the original legends of the wars between Osiris, Horus, and Typhon; for Brahma in his character of all-destroying, corresponds with Typhon; and Mahadeva, in that of the productive principle, with Horus or Hara, who assumes each of his characters on various occasions, either to restore the powers, or to subdue the opponents of Vishnu, or active Nature, from whom his auxiliary springs. In Egypt, says Plutarch, certain sacrifices were made even to Typhon, but only on particular days, and for the purpose of consoling him after his overthrow; as in India no worship is paid to Brahma, except on particular occasions, when certain offerings are made to him, but placed at some distance from the person, who offers them: the Greeks have confounded Typhon with Python, whose history has no connection [p.376] with the wars of the Gods, and who will appear in the following section, to be the Paithinasi of the Hindus. The idea of Mahadeva with his head in the highest heaven, and his feet in the lowest parts of the earth, is conformable to the language of the Oracle, in its answer to Nicocrates, King of Cyprus:
[Greek verse, two lines omitted]
And the same image is expressed, word for word, at the beginning of the fourth
Veda, where the deity is described as Mahapurusha, or the Great Male.
In the story of the war between. Osiris and Typhon, mention is made by Plutarch of a stupendous Boar, in search of whom Typhon travelled, with a view, perhaps, to strengthen his own party by making an alliance with him: thus it is said in Vaishmavagama, that Crora'sura was a demon, with the face of a Boar, who, nevertheless, was continually reading the Veda, and performing such acts of devotion, that Vishnu appeared to him on the banks of the Brahmaputra, promising to grant any boon, that be could ask. Cro'ra'sura requested, that no creature, then existing in the three worlds, might have power to deprive him of life; and Vishnu granted his request: but the demon became so insolent, that the Devatas, whom be oppressed, were obliged to conceal themselves, and he assumed the dominion of the world. Vishnu was then sitting on a bank of the Cali, greatly disquieted by the malignant ingratitude of the demon; and, his wrath being kindled, a shape, which never before had existed, sprang from his eyes: it was Mahadeva, in his destructive character, who dispelled in a moment the anxiety of Vishnu, whence he acquired the surname of Chintakara. With flaming eyes, contracted brows, and his whole countenance distorted with anger, he rushed toward Croa'sura, seized him [p.377] with fury, and carried him under his arm in triumph over the whole earth, but at length cast him lifeless on the ground, where he was transformed into a mountain, still called the Mountain of Crora, or the Boar: the place, where Vishnu sat by the river Cali, has the name of Chinidbara-sthalli: and "all they," says the author of the Agama, "who are troubled with anxious thoughts need only meditate on Chinta'hara and their cares will be dissipated." The word Chinid was, I imagine, pronounced Xanthus by the descendants of Darsa'na'sa, or Dardanus, who carried into their new settlements not only the name, but some obscure notions relative to the power of the deity Chintahara: the district of Troas where they settled, was called also Xanthi; there was a town Xanthus in Lycia, and a nation of Xatubi, or Xantii, in Thrace, a river of Lycia had that name, and so had another near Troy, in the waters of which grew a plant, supposed capable of dispelling the cares and terrours, which both Greeks and Indians believed to be caused by the presence of some invisible deity or evil spirit.43 The river Xanthus, near Troy, was vulgarly called Scamander, but its sacred name, used in religious rites, was Xanthus; as most rivers in India have different names, popular and holy. Xamthus, according to Homer, was a son of Jupiter, or, in the language of Indian Mythology, an avantara, or inferiour manifestation, of Siva: others make him a son of the great Tremilus,44 whom I should suppose to be Jupiter Temelius, or rather Tremelius, worshipped at Biennus in Crete; for the Tremili, or Tremylias, came originally from that island. According to Stephanus of Byzantium, the native country of Xanthus was Egypt;45 and, on the shores of the Atlantic, there were monsters shaped like bulls, probably sea-cows, called Xanthari. A poet, cited by Stephanus, under the word Tremile, says, that Xanthus, son of Jupiter, travelled with his brothers over the whole [p.378] world, and did a great deal of mischief, that is, according to the Puranas, destroyed the insolent Crora'sura, who was probably revered in the more western countries, where Varahewara once reigned according to the Hindus, and where they believe his posterity still to live in the shape of white Vardbas, or Boars, the legend of the wars between those Vardbas and the Sarabhas, a sort of monster with the face of a lion, and wings like a bird, shall be explained in another essay on Vardba-dwip; and I shall only add in this place, that the war was represented, according to Hesiod, on the shield of Hercules. At present the place, where the temple of Ammon formerly stood, has the name of Santariab, which may be derived from some altar anciently dedicated to Chintahara.
II. We are told in the Nareda Purana, that Surya, the regent of the Sun, had chosen a beautiful and well-peopled country in Sancha-dwip, for the purpose of performing his devotions; but that he had no sooner begun, than the whole region was in flames, the waters dried up, and all its inhabitants destroyed; since which it has been denominated Barbara. The Devatas, it is added, were in the greatest distress, and Vishnu descended with Brahma; to expostulate with the author of the conflagration: Surya praised and worshipped them, but lamented that his devotion has not prospered, and promised to repair the injuries done by his flames. It is said, Vishnu, who must repair them and, when I shall revisit this country, in the character of Crishna, to destroy the demon Sanchasura, the land shall cool and be replenished with plants and animals; the race of Pali shall then settle here, with the Cutila'-cesas, the Yavanas, and other Mlechha tribes."
In the Uttara~charitra, and other ancient books, we find many stories concerning
Surya, some of which have a mixture of astrological allegory. Once, it seems, he
was performing acts of austere devotion, in the character of Tapana, or the
Ingarner, when his consort Prabha, or Brightness, unable to bear his intense
heat, assumed the form of Ch'haya, or Shade, and was impregnated by him: after a
period of a hundred years, when Gods and men, expecting a terrible offspring,
were in the utmost consternation, she was delivered of a male child, in a remote
place, afterwards called Arki-stl'han or Sauristhan, from Arci and
Sauri, the patronymicks of Arca and Surya. He was the genius of the planet, which
Latians called Saturn, and acquired among the Hindus the epithet of Sani, and
Sanaischara, or slow-moving. For twelve years, during his education at
Arki-stl'han, no rain fell; but a destructive wind blew continually, and the air
blazed with tremendous meteors: a dreadful famine ensued,, and the Devatas,
together with the Daityas, implored the protection and advice of Surya, who
directed them to propitiate Sani by performing religious rites to Vishnu, near
the Pippal tree which is an emblem of him; and assured
them, that in future ages, the malignant influence of the planet should prevail
only during its passage through four signs of the Ajavii'hi,, or Zodiack. The
reign of Surya in Barbara continued long, but he resigned his dominion to
Sani, whose government was tyrannical: all his pious and prudent subjects fled to
the hilly countries bordering on the river Naruid, while the irreligious and
rash perished in the deserts of burning sand, to which the baneful eyes of the
tyrant reduced all the plains and meadows, on which he looked. His father,
returning to visit his ancient realm, and seeing the desolation of the whole
country, expelled Sani, and sent for another of his sons, named Aurva, who,
being appointed successor to his brother, purified the land, recalled the holy
men from the hills, and made [p.380] his subjects happy in ease and abundance, while he
resided at Aurva-sthan, so called from his name; but he returned afterwards to
Vahnishan, the present Azarbaijan, or the Seat of Fire, in the interiour
Cusia-dwipa, where he was performing his devotions on Trisringa,
or the mountain with three peaks, at the time when his father summoned him to the government of
Barbara. Just before that time he had given a dreadful proof of his power; for Arama, the son of a son of Satyavrata, (and consequently the Aram of Scripture),
was hunting in that country with his whole army, near a spot, where Durva'sas, a
cholerick saint, and a supposed avantar of Mahadeva, was sitting rapt in deep
meditation; Aram inadvertently shot an arrow, which
mounded the foot of Durvasas, who no sooner opened his eyes, than Aurva sprang
from them, in the shape of a flame, which consumed Aram and his party, together
with all the animals and vegetables in Cusha-dwip. It seems to me, that Aurva is
Vulcan; or the God of Fire, who reigned, according to the Egyptian
priests, after the Sun, though some have pretended, says, Diodorus, that he had existed
before that luminary; as the Hindus alledge, that AGNI, or Fire, had existence
in an elementary state before the formation of the Sun, but could not be said to
have dominion, till its force was concentrated: in another character he is Orus
the Elder, or Apollo, a name derived, I imagine, from a Sanscrit word, implying
a power of dispelling humidity. No doubt, the whole system of Egyptian and
Mythology must at first view seem strangely inconsistent; but, since all the
Gods resolve themselves into one, of whom they were no more than forms or
appearances, it is not wonderful, that they should be confounded; especially as
every emanation from the Supreme Spirit was believed to send forth collateral
emanations, which were blended with one another, sometimes recalled, sometimes
continued or renewed, and variously reflected or refracted in all directions:
another [p.381] source of confusion is the infinite variety of legends, which were
invented from time to time in Greece, Egypt, Italy, and India, and, when all the
causes of inconsistency are considered, we shall no longer be surprised to see
the same appellations given to very
different deities, and the same deities appearing under different appellations.
To give an example in Saturn: the planet of that name is the Sani of India,
who, says Diodorus, was considered by the Chaldeans as the most powerful of the
heavenly bodies, next to the Sun; but his influence was thought baneful, and
incantations, with offerings of certain perfumes, were used to avert or to
mitigate it. When the name is applied to CHRONUS, the Father of the Gods, it
means Cala, or Time as a character both of Mahadeva and Brahma; but, when he is
called Cronus, he seems to be the gigantick CRAUNCHA of the Hindus; which the
Saturn of Latum, and of the Golden Age, appears to be quite a different person,
and his title was probably derived from Satyaverna, which implies an age of
veracity and righteousness; Brahma with a red complexion is worshipped, say the
Puranas, in the dwip of Pushcara, which I suppose to be a maritime country at no
great distance from Egypt; he was there called the first born of nature, Lord of
the Universe, and Father of Deities: and, the Mythology of Pushcara having
passed into Greece, we find Cronus represented in those characters, but, mild
and beneficent to the human race, with some features borrowed from the older
system, which prevailed on the banks of the Nile and the Ganges. I cannot help
suspecting, that the word Cala was the origin of Cœlus, or
Coiltis, as Ennius
wrote it; and the Akhan of the Jainas, who was a form of Maha'ca'la, might
originally have been the same
with Uranus: as to Rhea, there can be no doubt, that she is the Goddess Ri,
whom the Hindus call the Mother of the Gods; but some say, that she also
produced malignant beings; and Pliny tells us, that [p.382] she was the mother of
Typhon, who became sovereign of Egypt46 but was deposed and expelled by
or Horus; where we have precisely the story of Sani and Aurva. We cannot but
observe, that the succession of the Gods in Egypt, according to Manetho, is
exactly in the spirit of Hindu Mythology, and conformable, indeed, to the
Puranas themselves; and we may add, before; we leave the planets, that, although
Vrihaspeti, an ancient legislator and philosopher, be commonly supposed to
direct the motions of Jupiter which now bears his name, yet many of the Hindus
acknowledge, that Siva, or the God Jupiter, Chinas in that planet, while the Sun
is the peculiar station of Vishnu, and Saturn is directed by Brahma, whom, for
that reason, the Egyptians abhorred, not daring even to pronounce his true name,
and abominating all animals with red hair, because it was his colour.
There is something very remarkable in the number of years, during which Arca, and his son, reigned on the banks of the Cali. The Sun, according to the Brahmens, began his devotion immediately after the flood, and continued it a hundred years; Sani, they say, was born a hundred years after his conception, and reigned a hundred years, or till the death of Aram, who must therefore have died about three hundred years after the deluge, and fifty years before his grandfather; but the Pauranics insist, that they were years of Brahma; now one year of mortals is a day and night of the Gods, and 360 of our years is one of theirs 112,000 of their years, or 4,320,000 of ours, constitute one of their ages, and 2000 such ages are Brahma's day and night, which must be multiplied by 360, to make one of his years; so that the chronology of Egypt, according to the Brahmens, would be more extra- [p.383] vagant than that of the Egyptians themselves, according to Manetho. The Talmud contains notions of divine days and years, founded on passages in Scripture is understood; the period of 12,060 years was Etruscan, and that of 4,320,000 was formed in Chaldea by repetitions of the saros; the Turdetani, an old and learned nation in Spain, had a long period nearly of the same kind; but for particular inquiries into the ancient periods and the affinity between them, I must refer to other essays, and proceed to the geography of Egypt, as it is illustrated by the Indian legends.
The place, where the Sun is feigned to have performed his acts of religious austerity, is named st'han, or station, of Arca, Surya, and Tapa-Isa: as it was on the limit between the dwipas of Cusa and Sancha, the Puranas ascribed it indifferently to either of those countries. I believe it to be the Tahpanhes of Scripture, called Tapbna or Tapbnai by the seventy Interpreters, and Daphne in the Roman Itinerary, where it is placed sixteen miles from Pelusium, it is mentioned by Herodotus, under the name of Daphna Pelusipe,47 and by Stephanus under that of Daphne near Pelusium, but the moderns have corrupted the name into Sasnas.
Sauri-sthan, where Sani was born and educated, seems to have been the famed Beth Sbemejb, or Heliopolis, which was built, says Diodorus, by Aetis, in honour of his father the Sun;48 Actis first taught astronomy in Egypt, and there was a college of astronomers at Heliopolis, with an observatory and a temple of the Sun, the magnificence and celebrity of which might have occasioned the change of the ancient name into Surya-st'han, as it was translated by the Hebrews and Greeks. It is said by the Hindus, that Sani, [p.384] or Arki, built several places of worship in the regions adjacent to the Cali; and we still find the town of Arkico near the Red Sea, which is not mentioned, indeed, by any of the Grecian geographers, but the headland contiguous to it is called by Ptolemy, the Promontory of Saturn. The genius of Saturn is described in the Puranas, as clad in a black mantle, with a dark turban loosely wrapped round his head; his aspect hideous and his brows knit with anger, a trident in one of his four hands, a cimiter in a second, and, in the two others, a bow and shafts: the priests of Saturn in Egypt, where his temples were always out of the towns, are said by Epiphanius, to have worn a dress nearly similar.
To conclude this head, we must add, that the sthan of Aurva is now called Arsu by the Copts;49 but, as Aurva corresponded with Orus, or Apollo, the Greeks gave it the name of Apollonotolis.
III. The metamorphosis of Lunus into Luna was occasionally mentioned in the preceding section; but the legend must now be told more at length. The God Soma, or Chandra, was traversing the earth with his favourite consort Rohini; and, arriving at the southern mountain, Sabyadri, they unwarily entered the forest of Gauri, where some men having surprised Mahadeva caressing that goddess, had been formerly punished by a change of their sex, and the forest had retained a power of effecting the like change on all males, who should enter it, Chandra, instantly becoming a female, was so afflicted and ashamed, that she hastened to the west, sending Rohini to her seat in the sky, and concealed herself in a mountain, afterwards named Soma-giri, where she performed acts of the most rigorous devotion. [p.385] Darkness then covered the world each night: the fruits of the earth were destroyed, and the universe was in such dismay, that the Devas, with Brahma at their head, implored the assistance of Mahadeva, who no sooner placed Chandri on his forehead, than she became a male again; and hence he acquired the title of Chandraichara. This fable has been explained to me by an ingenious Pandit: to the inhabitants of the countries near the source of the Cali, the moon, being in the mansion of Rohini, or the Pleiads, seemed to vanish behind the southern mountains: now, when the moon is in its opposition to the sun, it is the god Chandra; but, when in conjunction with it, the goddess Chandri, who was in that state feigned to have conceived the Puranas mentioned in the former section. The moon is believed by the Hindu naturalists to have a powerful influence on vegetation, especially on certain plants, and above all, on the Somalata, or moon-plant; but its power, they say, is greatest at the pamima, or full, after which it gradually decays till, on the dark tit'hi, or amavasya, it wholly vanishes. This mode of interpretation may serve as a clew for the intricate labyrinth of the Puranas, which contain all the history, physiology, and science of the Indians and Egyptians disguised under similar fables. We have already made remarks on the region and mountains of the moon, which the Puranas place in the exterior Cusha-dwip, or the southern parts of Africa; and we only add, that the Pulindas consider the female Moon as form of the celestial Isi, or Isis, which may seem to be incompatible with the mythological system of India; but the Hindus have in truth an Isis with three forms, called Swar-Devi in heaven, Bhu-devi on earth, and Patala-devi in the infernal regions. The consort of the terrestrial goddess is named Bhu-deva, who resides on Sumehu, and is a vicegerent on earth of the three principal deities: he seems to be the Βδευς of the Greek Mythologists, and the Budyas of Arrian; though the Grecian-writers have generally confounded him with Buddha.
IV. When this earth was covered with waters, Mahacala, who floated on their
surface, beheld a company of Apsarases, or Nymphs, and expressed with such force
his admiration of their beauty, that Mahacali, his consort, was greatly incensed
and suddenly vanished: the God, stung with remorse, went in search of her, and
with hasty strides traversed the earth, which then had risen above the waters of
the deluge, as they were dried up or subsided; but the ground gave way under the
pressure of his foot at every step, and the balance of the globe was nearly
destroyed. In this distress he was seen by the relenting Cali on the site of
Srirangapaitanai, and considering the injury, which the universe would sustain
by her concealment, she appeared in the character of Rajarajeswari, and in the
form of a damsel more lovely than Apsaras, on the banks of a river since named
Cali. There at length he saw and approached her in the character of
Rajarajeswara, and in the shape of a beautiful youth; they were soon reconciled,
and travelled together over the world, promoting the increase of animals and
vegetables, and instructing mankind in agriculture and useful arts. At last they
returned to Cusha-dwip, and settled at a place, which from them was named the
Sthana of Rajarajeswara and Rajarajeswari, and which appears to be the Nysa of
Arabia, called Elim in Scripture, and El Tor by modern geographers; but
Al Tur belongs properly
to the interior dwip of Cusha: they resided long in that station conversing
familiarly with men, till the iniquities of later generations compelled them to
disappear; and they have since been worshipped under the titles of Isana, or Isa,
and Isani, or Isi.
Since the goddess Isis made her first appearance, in Egypt, that country is called her nursing mother in an inscription mentioned by Diodorus, and said to have been found on a pillar in Arabia: she was reported by the [p.387] Egyptians to have been Queen of that country, and is declared in the Puranas to have reigned over Cusha-dwip within, as her consort has the title, in the Arabian inscription, of King Osiris; conformably, in both instances, to the characters, under which they appeared on the banks of the Nile. The place, where Isi was first visible, became of course an object of worship; but, as it is not particularly noticed by the Mythologists of the west, we cannot precisely ascertain its situation: it was probably one of the places in the Delta, each of which was denominated Iseum; and, I think, it was the town of Isis, near Sebennytus,50 now called Bha-beit, where the ruins of a magnificent temple, dedicated to Isis, are still to be seen. As Ysiris came from the western peninsula of India, he was considered in Egypt as a foreign divinity, and his temples were built out of the towns.
V. Bhava, the author of existence, and consort of Amba, the Magna Mater of the western Mythologists, had resolved to set mankind an example of performing religious austerities, and chose for that purpose an Aranya, or uninhabited forest, on the banks of the Nile, but Amba, named also Bhavani, and Uma, being uneasy at his absence, and guesting the place of his retirement, assumed the character of Aranya-devi, or Goddess of the Forest, and appeared sporting among the trees at a place called afterwards Camavana, or the Wood of Fire, from the impression, which her appearance there made on the amorous deity: they retired into an Atava, or impervious forest, whence the Goddess acquired also the title of Atavi-devi, and the scene of their mutual caresses have the name of Bhavatavi-st'hana, which is mentioned in the Vedas. The place of their subsequent residence near the Nile was denominated Criravana, or the Grove of Dalliance; and [p.388] that, where Bhava was interrupted in his devotions, was at first called Bhavasth'an, and seems to be the celebrated Bubastos,, or, in the oblique case, Bubaston, peculiarly sacred to Diana, the Goddess of Woods: from Bhavatavi, which was at some distance from the Nile, in the midst of an impervious forest, the Greeks made Butoi in the oblique case, whence they formed Buto and Butus, and there also stood a famous temple of Diana. The situation of Criravana cannot be so easily ascertained; but it could not have been far from the two last-mentioned places, and was probably in the Delta, where we find a most distinguished temple of Venus at Apbroditopolis51 now Atar-bikhi, which, according to Stephanus of Byzantium, was at no great distance from Atribi: the goddess had, indeed, laid aside the character of Diana, when Bhava perceived her, and assumed that of Bhavani, or Venus. The three places of worship here mentioned were afterwards continually visited by numerous pilgrims, whom the Brahmandapuran, from which the whole fable is extracted, pronounces entitled to delight and happiness both in this world and the next.
Bhaveswara seems to be the Busir is of Egypt; for Strabo asserts, positively, that no Egyptian king bore that name, though altars, on which men were anciently sacrificed, were dedicated to Busiris, and the human victims of the Hindus were offered to the consort of Bhavaswara. The Naramedba, or sacrifice of a man, is allowed by some ancient authorities; but, since it is prohibited, under pain of the severest torture in the next world, by the writers of the Brahma, of the A'diya-purana, and even of the Bhagavat itself, we cannot imagine, that any Brahmen would now officiate at so horrid a ceremony; though it is asserted by [p.389] some, that the Pamaras, or Pariar nations, in different parts of India, disregard the prohibition, and that the Carbaras, who were allowed by Parasu Ra'ma to settle in the Concan, to sacrifice a man, in the course of every generation, to appease the wrath of Renuca'-devi.
Before we quit the subject of Atavi, we must add two legends from the Brahmanda, which clearly relate to Egypt. A just and brave king, who reigned on the borders of Himalaya, or Imaus, travelled over the world to destroy the robbers, who then infected it; and, as he usually surprised them by night, he was surnamed Nactamchara: to his son Nisachara, whose name had the same signification, he gave the kingdom of Barbara near the Golden Mountains, above Syene; and, Nisachara followed at first the example of his father, but at length grew so insolent as to contend with Indra, and oppressed both Devas and Danavas, who had recourse to Atavi-devi and solicited her protection. The goddess advised them to lie for a time concealed in Swerga, by which we must here understand the mountains; and, when the tyrant rashly attempted to drive her from the banks of the Nile, she attacked and slew him: the Devas then returned singing her praises; and on the spot, where she fought with Nisachara, they raised a temple, probably a pyramid, which from her was called Atavi-mandira. Two towns in Egypt are still known to the Copts by the names of Atsi, Atsieb, and Itsui and to both of them the Greeks gave that of Aphroditopolis; the district round the most northerly of them is to this day named Ibrit, which M. D'Anville with good reason thinks a corruption of Aphrodite; but Atavi-manatr is Atsi to the south of Askdhirah, not the Atsi or Itsu near Thebes, which also is mentioned in the Puranas, and said to have stood in the forests of Tapas.
Another title of the Goddess was Ashtara, which she derived from [p.390] the following adventure. Vijayaswa, or vicarious on horseback, was a virtuous and powerful king of the country round the Nishadba mountains; but his first minister, having revolted from him, collected an army of Mlechhas in the hills of Ganabarndaan, whence be descended in force, gave battle to his master, took him prisoner, and usurped the dominion of his country. The royal captive, having found means to escape, repaired to the banks of the Cali, and, fixing eight sharp iron spikes in a circle at equal distances, placed himself in the centre, prepared for deaths and resolved to perform the most rigorous acts of devotion. Within that circle he remained a whole year, at the close of which the Goddess appeared to him, issuing like a flame from the eight iron points; and, presenting him with a weapon, called Astara-mudgara, or a staff armed with eight spikes fixed in an iron ball, she assured him, that all men, who should see that staff in his hand, must either save themselves by precipitate flight, or would fall, dead and mangled on the ground. The king received the weapon with confidence, soon defeated the usurper, and created a pyramid in honour of the goddess, by the name of Ashtara-devi: the writer of the Purana places it near the Cali river in the woods of Tapas: and adds that all such, at visit it, will receive assistance from the goddess for a whole year. Asthan means eight, and the word tira properly signifies the spoke of a wheel, yet is applied to any thing resembling it; but, in the popular Indian dialects, ashta is pronounced att; and the appearance, which Strabo mentions, of the goddess Aphrodite under the name of Attara, must, I think, be the same with that of Ashtara: the Ashtaroth of the Hebrews, and the old Persian word astarab, now written starab, (or a star with tight rays) are most probably derived from the two Sanscrit words. Though the place, where Visayaswa raised his pyramid, or temple, was named Ashtarast'han, yet, as the goddess, to whom he inscribed it, was no other than Atavi- [p.391] devi, it has retained among the Copts the appellation of Atsi, or Atsu, and was called Aphroditopolis by the Greeks; it is below Akbmim on the western bank of the Nile.
VI. Among the legends concerning the transformation of Devi, we find a wild astronomical tale in the Nasatya Sanhita, or history of the Indian Castor and Pollux. In one of its forms, it seems, she appeared as Prabha, or Light, and assumed the shape of Aswini, of a Mare, which is the first of the lunar mansions, the Sun approached her in the form of a horse, and he no sooner had touched her nostrils with his, than she conceived the twins, who, after their birth, were called Aswini-cumdrau, or the two sons of Aswini. Being left by their parents, who knew their destiny, they were adopted by Brahma who instructed them to the care of his son Dacsha; and under that sage preceptor, they learned the whole Ayurveda, or system of medicine: in their early age they travelled over the world performing wonderful cures on gods and men; and they are generally painted on horseback, in the forms of beautiful youths, armed with javelins. At first they rested on the Cula mountains near Colchis; but Indra, whom they had instructed in the science of healings gave them a station in Egypt near the river Cali, and their new abode was from them called Aswi-sthan: as medicated baths were among their most powerful remedies, we find near their seat a pool, named Ahbimatada, or granting what is desired, and a place called Rupa-yuvana-sthala, or the land of beauty and youth. According to some authorities, one of them had the name of Aswin, and the other of Cumar, one of Nasatya, the other of Dasra; but, by the better opinion, those appellations are to be used in the dual number, and applied to them both: they are also called Aswanasau, or Aswacana'sau, because their mother conceived them by her nostrils; [p.392] but they are considered as united so intimately, that each seems either, and they are often held to be one individual deity. As twin-brothers, the two Dasras, or Cumaras, are evidently the Dioscori of the Greeks; but, when represented as an individual, they seem to be Aesculapius, which my Pandit supposes to be Aswiculasa, or Chief of the race of Aswi: that epithet might, indeed, be applied to the Sun; and Æsculapius, according to some of the western Mythologists, was a form of the Sun himself. The adoption of the twins by Brahma, whose favourite bird was the phoenicopteros, which the Europeans changed into a swan, may have given rise to the fable of Leda; but we cannot wonder at the many diversities in the old mythological system, when we find in the Puranas themselves very different genealogies of the same divinity, and very different accounts of the same adventure.
Æsculapius, or Asclepius, was a son of Apollo, and his mother, according to the Phenicians, was a goddess, that is, a form of Devi: he too was abandoned by his parents, and educated by Autolaus, the son of Arcasi.52 The Aswiculapas, or Asclepiades, had extensive settlements in Thessaly,53 and, I believe, in Messenia. The word Aswini, seems to have given a name to the town of Asphynis, now Assun, in Upper Egypt; for Aswa, a horse, is indubitably changed by the Persians into Asb, or Asp; but Aswi-sthan was probably the town of Abydus in the Thebais; and might have been so named from Ahbida, a contraction of Abhimatada, for Strabo informs us, that it was anciently a very large city, the second in Egypt after Thebes, that it stood about seven miles and a half to the west of the Nile, that a celebrated temple of Osiris was near it, and a magnificent edi- [p.393] fice in it, called the palace of Memnon; that it was famed also for a well, or pool of water, with winding steps all round it; that the structure and workmanship of the reservoir were very singular, the stones used in it of an astonishing magnitude, and the sculpture on them excellent.54 Herodotus insists, that the names of the Dioscuri were unknown to the Egyptians; but, since it is positively asserted in the Puranas, that they were venerated on the banks of the Nile, they must have been revered, I presume, in Egypt under other names: indeed, Harpocrates and Halitomenion, the twin-sons of Osiris and Isis, greatly resemble the Dioscuri of the Grecian Mythologists.
VII. Before we enter on the next legend, I must
premise, that ida pronounced ira, is the root of a Sanscrit verb, signifying
praise, and synonymous with tla, which oftener occurs in the Vedas; the
begins with the phrase Agnim ile, or I sing praise to fire. Vishnu then had two
warders of his ethereal palace, named Java and Vijaya, who carried the pride of
office to such a length, that they insulted the seven Maharishis, who had come,
with Sanaca at their head, to present their adorations; but the offended Rishis
pronounced an imprecation on the insolent warders, condemning them to be adboyoni, or born below, and to pass through three mortal forms before they
could be re-admitted to the divine presence: in conse- [p.172] quence of this execration, they first appeared on earth as Hiranyacsha, or
Golden-eyed, and Hiranyacasipu, or clad in gold, secondly, as Ravama and
Cumbhacarna, and, lastly, as Casa and Sisupala.
In their first appearance, they were the twin-sons of Casyapa and Diti: before their birth, the body of their mother blazed like the sun, and the De- [p.394] vatas, unable to bear its excessive heat and light, retired to the banks of the Cali, resolving to lie concealed, till she was delivered; but the term of her gestation was so long, and her labour so difficult, that they remained a thousand years near the holy river employed in acts of devotion. At length Devi appeared to them in a new character, and had afterwards the title of Idita, or Ilita, because she was praised by the Gods in their hymns, when they implored her assistance in the delivery of Diti: she granted their request, and the two Daityas were born; after which Idita-devi assured mankind, that any woman, who should fervently invoke her in a similar situation, should have immediate relief. The Devas erected a temple in the place, where she made herself visible to them, and it was named the sthan of Idita or Ilita; which was probably the town of Idithya or Ilithya in Upper Egypt; where sacred rites were performed to Eitithya, or Eleutho, the Lucina of the Latians, who assisted women in labour: it stood close to the Nile opposite to Great Apollonopolis, and seems to be Leucethea of Pliny. This goddess is now invoked in India by women in child-bed, and a burnt offering of certain, perfumes is appropriated to the occasion.
VIII. We read in the Mabad-himalaya-chanda, that, after a deluge, from which very few of the human race were preserved, men became ignorant and brutal, without arts or sciences, and even without a regular language; that part of Sancha-dwip in particular was inhabited by various tribes, who were perpetually disputing; but that Iswara descended among them, appeased their animosities and formed them into a community of citizens mixed without invidious distinctions; whence the place, where he appeared, was denominated Misira-sthan; that he sent his consort Vageswari, or the Goddess of Speech, to instruct the rising generations in arts and languages; for which purpose she also visited the dwip of Cusha. Now the [p.395] ancient city of Misra was Memphis, and, when the seat of government was transferred to the opposite side of the river, the new city had likewise the name of Misr, which it still retains; for Alkabirah, or the Conqueress, vulgarly Cairo, is merely an Arabick epithet.
Vagi'swara, or Va'gi'sa', commonly pronounced Bagiswar and Bagis means the Lord of Speech; but I have seen only one temple dedicated to a god with that title: it stands at Gangdpur, formerly Dehterea, near Banares, and appears to be very ancient: the image of Vagiswara, by the name of Siro-Biva, was brought from the west by a grandson of Ce'tu-misra descended from Gautama, together with that of the God's consort and sister, vulgarly named Bassari; but the Brahmens on the spot informed me that her true name was Bagiswari. The precise meaning of Siro'de'va is not ascertained: if it be not a corruption of Srideva, it means the God of the Head, but the generality of Brahmens have a singular dislike to the descendants of Gautama, and object to their modes of worship, which seem, indeed, not purely Indian. The priests of Bagiswara, for instance, offer to his consort a lower mantle with a red fringe and an earthen pot shaped like a coronet: to the god himself they present a vase full of arak; and they even sacrifice a hog to him, pouring its blood before the idol, and restoring the carcase to its owner; a ceremony which the Egyptians performed in honour of Bacchus Osiris, whom I suppose to be the same deity, as I believe the Basarides to have been so named from Basari. Several demigods (of whom Cicero reckons five)55 had the name of Bacchus; and it is not improbable, that some confusion has been caused by the resemblance of names: thus Bagis-[p.396] wara was changed by the Greeks into Bacchus Osiris; and, when they introduced a foreign name with the termination of a case in their own tongue, they formed a nominative from it; hence from Bhagawan also they first made Bacchon, and afterwards Bacchos; and, partly from that strange carelessness conspicuous in all their inquiries, partly from the reserve of the Egyptian priests, they melted the three divinities of Egypt and India into one, whom they miscalled Osiris. We have already observed, that Ysiris was the truer pronunciation of that name, according to Helanicus; though Plutarch insists, that, it should be Siris or Sirius: but Ysiris, or Iswara, seems in general appropriated to the incarnations of Mahadeva, while Sir is or Sirius was applied to those of Vishnu.
IX. When the Pandavas, according to the Vrihad-haima, wandered over the world, they came to the banks of the Cali river in Sancha-dwip, which they saw a three-eyed man sitting with kingly state, surrounded by his people and by animals of all sorts, whom he was instructing in several arts according to their capacities: to his human subjects he was teaching agriculture, elocution, and writing. The descendants of Pandu, having been kindly received by him, related their adventures at his request; and he told them in return, that, having quarrelled in the mansion of Brahma, with Dacsha his father in law, he was cursed by Menu, and doomed to take the form of a Manava, or man, whence he was named on earth Amaneswara; that his faithful consort transformed herself into the river Cali, and purified his people, while he guided them with the staff of empire and gave them instruction, of which he found them in great need. The place, where he resided, was called Amane, Jwata-sthan, or the seat of Aman or Amok; which can be no other than the Amonno of Scripture, translated Diospolis by the Seventy interpreters; but it was Disspolis, [p.397] between the canals of the Delta, near the sea and the lake Manzale, for the Prophet Nahum56 describes it as a town situated among rivers, with waters round about it, and the sea for its ramparts; so that it could not be either of the towns, named also Diospolis, in Upper Egypt; and the Hindu author says expressly, that it lay to the north of Himadri.
Having before declared my opinion, that the Noph of the three greater Prophets was derived from Nabbas, or the sky, and was properly called Nabba-iswara-sthan, or Nabba-sthan, I have little to add here: Hosea once calls it Mopb,57 and the Chaldean paraphrast, Mapbes; while Rabbi Kimchi asserts, that Moph and Noph were one and the same town; the Seventy always render it Memphis, which Copts and Arabs pronounce Menus or Mens; and, though I am well aware, that some travellers and men of learning deny the modern Men to be on the site of Memphis, yet, in the former section, I have given my reasons for dissenting from them, and observed, that Memphis occupied a vast extent of ground along the Nile, consisting in fact of several towns or divisions, which had become contiguous by the accession of new buildings. May not the words Noph and Mens have been taken from Nahba and Manava, since Nahhomanwa, as a title of Iswara, would signify the celestial man? The Egyptian priests had nearly the same story, which we find in the Puranas; for they related, that the ocean formerly reached to the spot, where Memphis was built by king Mines, Minas, or Minevas, who forced the sea back by altering the course of the Nile, which depositing its mud in immense quantities, gradually formed the Delta.
Dispolis distinguished by the epithet great, was a name of Thebes, [p.398] which was also called the City of the Sun,58 from a celebrated temple dedicated to that luminary, which I suppose to be Suryeswara-sthan of the old Hindu writers: the following legend concerning it is extracted from the Bhscara-mahatmya. The son of Somaraja, named Pushpacetu, having inherited the dominions of his father, neglected his publick duties, contemned the advice of his ministers, and abandoned himself to voluptuousness; till Bhima, son of Pamara, (or of an outcast) descended from the hills of Niladri, and hid siege to his metropolis: the prince, unable to defend it, made his escape, and retired to a wood on the banks of the Cali. There, having bathed in the sacred river, he performed penance for his former dissolute life, standing twelve days on one leg, without even tasting water, and with his eyes fixed on the Sun; the regent of which appeared to him in the character of Surye'swara, commanding him to declare what he most desired. "Grant me mocsha, or beatitude," said Pushpace'tu, prostrating himself before the deity; he bade him be patient, assured him that his offences were expiated, and promised to destroy his enemies with intense heat, but ordered him to raise a temple, inscribed to Surteswara, on the very spot where he then stood, and declared, that he would efface the sins of all such pilgrims, as should visit it with devotion: he also directed his votary who became after his restoration a virtuous and fortunate monarch, to celebrate a yearly festival in honour of Surya on the seventh lunar day in the bright half of Magha. We need only add that Heliopolis in lower Egypt, though a literal translation of Surya-sthan, could not be the same place as it was not on the banks of the Nile.
X. One of the wildest fictions ever invented by Mythologists, is told in [p.399] the Padma and the Bhagavat; yet we find an Egyptian tale very similar to it. The wife of Casya, who had been the guru, or spiritual guide, of Crishna, complained to the incarnate God that the ocean had swallowed up her children near the plain of Prabhasai or the western coast of Gurjara; now called Gujarat; and she supplicated him to recover them. Crishna hastened to the shore and being informed by the sea-god, that Sanchasura, or Panchajanya, had carried away the children of his preceptor, he plunged into the waves and soon arrived at Cusha-dwip, where he instructed the Cutila-cesas in the whole system of religious and civil duties, cooled and embellished the peninsula, which he found smoking from the various conflagrations which had happened to it, and placed the government of the country on a secure and permanent basis: he then disappeared and having discovered the haunt of Sanchasura, engaged and slew him, after a long conflict, during which the ocean was violently agitated and the land overflowed; but, not finding the Brahmen's children, he tore the monster from his shell, which he carried with him as a memorial of his victory, and used afterwards in battle by way of a trumpet. As he was proceeding to Vardha-dwip, or Europe, he was met by Varuka, the chief God of the Waters, who assured him positively, that the children of Casya were not in his domains: the preserving power then descended to Yamapuri, the infernal city, and, sounding the shell Panchajanya, struck such terrour into Yama, that he ran forth to make his prostrations, and restored the children, with whom Crishna returned to their mother.
Now it is related by Plutarch,59 that Garmathone, queen of Egypt, having lost her son, prayed fervently to Isis, on whose intercession [p.400] Osiris descended to the shades and restored the prince to life; in which fable, Osiris appears to be Crishna, the black divinity: Garmaibo, or Garbatbo, was the name of a hilly district, bordering on the land of the Troglodytes, or Sanchasuras, and Ethiopia was in former ages called Egypt. The flood in that country is mentioned by Cedhenus, and said to have happened fifty years, after Cecrops, the first king of Athens, had begun his reign: Abyssinia was laid waste by a flood, according to the Chronicle of Axum, about 1600 years before the birth of Christ;60 and Cecrops, we are told, began to reign 1652 years before that epoch; but it must be confessed, that the chronology of ancient Greece is extremely uncertain.
XL Having before alluded to the legends of Gupta and Cardama, we shall here set them down more at large, as they are told in the Puranas, entitled Brahmanda and Scanda, the second of which contains very valuable matter concerning Egypt and other countries in the west. Surya having directed both Gods and men to perform sacred rites in honour of Vishnu, for the purpose of counteracting the baneful influence of Sani, they all followed his directions, except Mahadeva, who thought such homage inconsistent with his exalted character; yet he found it necessary to lie for a time concealed, and retired to Barbara in Sancha-dwip, where he remained seven years hidden in the mud, which covered the banks of the Cali: hence he acquired the title of Gupteswara. The whole world felt the loss of his vivifying power, which would long have been suspended, if Mandapa, the son of Cushmanda, had not fled, to avoid the punishment of his vices and crimes, into Cusha-dwip, where he became a sincere penitent, and wholly devoted himself to the worship of Mahadeva, constantly singing his praise and dancing in [p.401] honour of him; the people, ignorant of his former dissolute life, took him for a holy man, and loaded him with gifts, till he became a chief among the votaries of the concealed God, and at length formed a design of restoring him to light. With this view he passed a whole night in Cardama-sthan, chanting hymns to the mighty power of destruction and renovation, who, pleased with his piety and his musick, started from the mud, whence he was named Cardameiswara, and appeared openly on earth; but, having afterwards met Sanaischara, who scornfully exulted on his own power in compelling the Lord of three Worlds to conceal himself in a fen, he was abashed by the taunt, and ascended to his palace on the top of Cailasa.
Gupteswara-sthan, abbreviated into Gupta, on the banks of the Nile, is the famed town Coptos, called Gupt or Gypt to this day, though the Arabs, as is usual have substituted their kaf for the true initial letter of that ancient word: I am even informed, that the land of Egypt is distinguished in some of the Puranas by the name of Gupta-st'han, and I cannot doubt the information, though the original passages have not yet been produced to me. Near Gupta was Cardamanshali, which I suppose to be Thebes, or part of it; and Cadmus, whose birthplace it was, I conceive to be. Iswara, with the title Cardama; who invented the system of letters, or at least arranged them as they appear in the Sanscrit grammars; the Greeks, indeed, confounded Cardamswaha with Cardama, father of Varuna, who lived on the coast of Asia, whence Cadmus is by some called an Egyptian, and, by others, a Phenician; but it must be allowed, that the writers of the Puranas also have caused infinite confusion, by telling the same story in many different ways; and the two Cardamas may, perhaps, be one and the same personage.
"Cadmus was born," says Diodorus,61 "in
Thebes in Egypt; he had several sons, and a daughter named Semele, who became pregnant and, in the
seventh month, brought forth an
imperfect male child, greatly resembling Osiris; whence the Greeks believed
that Osiris was the son of Cadmus, and Semele." Now I cannot help believing,
that Osiris of Thebes was Iswara springing, after his concealment for seven
years, from the mud (Cardama) of the river Syamala, which is a Pauranic name
for the Nile: whatever might have been the grounds of so strange a legend, it
probably gave rise to the popular Egyptian belief the human race were produced
from the mud of that river; since the appearance of Cardameswara revivified
nature, and replenished the earth with plants and animals.
The next legend is yet stranger, but not more absurd than a story, which we shall find among the Egyptians, and which in part resembles it. Mahadeva and Parvatiwere playing with dice at the ancient game of Chaluranga, when they disputed and parted in wrath; the goddess retiring to the forest of Gauri, and the god repairing to Cushadwip: they severally performed rigid acts of devotion to the Supreme Being; but the fires, which they kindled, blazed so vehemently, as to threaten a general conflagration. The Devas in great alarm hastened to Brahma, who led them to Mahadeva, and supplicated him to recal his consort; but the wrathful deity only answered, that she must come by her own free choice: they accordingly dispatched Ganga, the river goddess, who prevailed on Parvati to return to him on condition that his love for her should be restored. The celestial mediators then employed Ca'ma-deva, who wounded Siva with one of his flowery arrows; but the angry divinity re- [p.403] duced him to ashes with a flame from his eye: Parvati soon after presented herself before him in the form of a Cirati, or daughter of a mountaineer, and, seeing him enamoured of her, resumed her own shape. In the place where they were reconciled, a grove sprang up, which was named Cimavana; and the relenting god, in the character of Cameswara, consoled the afflicted Reti, the widow of Cama, by assuring her, that she should rejoin her husband, when he should be born again in the form of Pradyumna, son of Crishna, and should put Sambara to death. This favourable prediction was in due time accomplished; and Pradyumna having sprung to life, he was instantly seized by the demon Sambara, who placed him in a chest, which he threw into the ocean; but a large fish, which had swallowed the chest was caught in a net, and carried to the palace of a tyrant, where the unfortunate Reti had been compelled to do menial service: it was her lot to open the fish, and, seeing an infant in the chest, she nursed him in private, and educated him till he had sufficient strength to destroy the malignant Sambara. He had before considered Reti as his mother; but, the minds of them both being irradiated, the prophecy of Mahadeva was remembered, and the god of Love was again united with the goddess of Pleasure. One of his names was Pushpadhanva, or with a flowery bow; and he had a son Visvadhanva, from whom Vijayadhanva, and Cirtidhanva lineally sprang; but the two last, with whom the race ended, were surnamed Caunapa, for a reason which presently shall be disclosed.
Visvadhanva, with his youthful companions, was hunting on the skirts of Himalaya, where he saw a white elephant of an amazing size, with four tusks, who was disporting himself with his females: the prince imagined him to be Airavata, the great elephant of Indra and ordered [p.404] a circle to be formed round him; but the noble beast broke through the toils, and the hunters pursued him from country to country, till they came to the burning sands of Barbara where his course was so much impeded that he assumed his true shape of a Racshasa, and began to bellow with the sound of a large drum, called dundu, from which he had acquired the name of Dunduhi. The son of Cama, instead of being dismayed, attacked the giant and after an obstinate combat, slew him; but was astonished, on seeing a beautiful youth rise from the bleeding body, with the countenance and form of a Gandharva, or celestial quirister, who told him, before he vanished, that "he had been expelled for a time from the heavenly mansions, and, as a punishment for a great offence, had been condemned to pass through a mortal state in the shape of a giant, with a power to take other forms; that his crime was expiated by death, but that the prince deserved, and would receive, chastisement, for molesting an elephant, who was enjoying innocent pleasures." The place, where the white elephant resumed the shape of a Racshasa was called Rachasa-sthan; and, that, where he was killed, Dandubhi-mara-sthan, or Rachasa-mocshana, because he there acquired mocsha, or a release from his mortal body: it is declared in the Uttara-charitra, that a pilgrimage to those places, with the performance of certain holy rites, will ever secure the pilgrims from the dread of giants and evil spirits.
Cantaca, the younger brother of Dundubhi, meditated vengeance, and assuming the character of a Brahmen, procured an introduction to Visvadhanwa as a person eminently skilled in the art of cookery: he was accordingly appointed chief cook, and, a number of Brahmens having been invited to a solemn entertainment, he stewed a cunapa or corpse, (some say putrid fish) and gave it in soup to the guests; who, discovering the abominable af- [p.405] front, were enraged at the king, telling him, that he should live twelve years as a night-wanderer feeding on cunapas, and that Caunapa should be the surname of his descendants: some add, that, as foolish as this curse was pronounced, the body of Visvadhanwa became festering and ulcerous, and that his children inherited the loathsome disease.
We find clear traces of this wild story in Egypt; which from Cama was formerly
named Chemia, and it is to this day known by the name of Chemi, to the few old
Egyptian families, that remain: it has been conjectured, that the more modern Greek
formed the word Chemia from this name of Egypt, whence they derived their first
knowledge of Chemistry. The god Caimis was the same, according to PLUTARCH. With
Orus the Elder, or one of the ancient Apollos; but be is described as very young
and beautiful, and his consort was named RHYTIA; so that he bears a strong
resemblance to Cama, the husband of Reti, or the Cupid of the Hindus: there were
two Gods named Cupid, says Ælian,62 the elder of whom was the son of Lucina,
and the lover, if not the husband, of Venus: the younger was her son. Now Smu or
Typhon, says Herodotus, wished to destroy Orus, whom Latona concealed in a grove of the island Chemmis, in a lake near Butus; but Smu, or
Sambar, found means to kill him, and left him in the waters, where Isis found
him and reared him to life.63 Elian says that the Sun, a form of Osiris, being
displeased with Cupid, threw him into the ocean, and gave him a shell for his
abode: Smu, we are told, was at length defeated and killed by Orus. We have
said, that Cama was born again in this lower world, or became Adboyonu not as a
punishment for his offence, which that word commonly implies, but as a
mitigation of [p.406] the chastisement, which he had received from Iswara, and as a
favour conferred on him in becoming a son of Vishnu: this may, therefore, be the
origin both of the name and the story of Adonis; and the yearly lamentations of
the Syrian damsels may have taken rise from the ditties chanted by Reti,
together with the Apsara, or nymphs, who had attended Cama, when he provoked the
wrath of Mahadeva: one of the sweetest measures in Sanscrit prosody has the name
of Reti vilapa, or the dirge of Reti.
In the only remaining accounts of Egyptian Mythology, we find three kings of that country; named Camephis, which means in Coptick, according to Jablonski, the guardian divinity of Egypt:64 the history of those kings is very obscure; and whether they have any relation to the three descendants of Cama, I cannot pretend to determine. The Caunnpas appear to be the [Greek] supposed to have reigned in Egypt; for we learn from Syncellus,65 that the Egyptians had a strange tale concerning a dynasty of dead men; that is, according to the Hindus, of men afflicted with some sphacelous disorder, and, most probably, with Elephantiasis. The seat of Cunapa seems to have been Canobus, or Canopus, not far from Alexandria: that Canopus died there of a loathsome disease, was asserted by the Greek mythologists, according to the writer of the Great Etymological Dictionary under the word [Greek]; and he is generally represented in a black shroud with a cap closely fitted to his head, as if his dress was intended to conceal some offensive malady; whence the potters of Campus often made pitchers with covers in the form of a close cap. His tomb was to be seen at Helenium, near the town which bore his name; but that of his wife (who, according to Epiphanius, was named Cumenuthis) was in a place called Menuthis, at the [p.407] distance of two stadia. There were two temples at Canopus; the more ancient inscribed to Hercules, which stood in the suburbs,66 and the more modern, but of greater celebrity, raised in honour of Serapis.67 Now there seems to be no small affinity between the characters of Dundhu and Antæus; of Visvadhanwa and Hercules; many heroes of antiquity (Cicero reckons up fifty and others fifty-three, some of whom were peculiar to Egypt) had the title of Hercules; and the Greeks, after their fashion, ascribed to one the mighty achievements of them all. Antæus was, like Dundhu, a favourite servant of Osiris, who instructed part of Egypt to his government; but having in some respect misbehaved, he was deposed, absconded, and was hunted by Hercules, through every corner of Africa: hence I conclude, that Dandbu-mara-sthan was the town, called Anteu by the Egyptians, and Antaopolis by the Greeks, where a temple was raised and sacrifices made to Antæus in hope of obtaining protection against other demons and giants, Racshasa-sthan seems to be the Rhaco, of the Greeks, which Cedrenus calls in the oblique case Rhakhasten: it stood on the site of the present Alexandria, and must in former ages have been a place of considerable note; for Pliny tells us, that an old king of Egypt, named Mesphees, had erected two obelisks in it, and that some older kings of that country had built forts there, with garrisons in them, against the pirates who infected the coast.68 When Hercules had put on the fatal robe, he was afflicted, like Visvadhanwa', with a loathsome and excruciating disease, through the vengeance of the dying Nessus: others relate (for the same fable is often differently told by the Greeks) that Hercules was covered with gangrenous ulcers from the venom of the Lernean serpent, and was cured in Phenice at a place called Ake (the Acco of Scripture), by the juice of a plant, which abounds [p.408] both in that spot and on the banks of the Nile.69 The Greeks, who certainly migrated from Egypt, carried with them the old Egyptian and Indian legends, and endeavoured (not always with success) to appropriate a foreign system to their new settlements: all their heroes or demigods, named Heracles by them, and Hercules by the Latians, (if not by the Æolians), were sons of Jupiter, who is represented in India both by Hera, or Siva, and by Heri or Vishnu; nor can I help suspecting, that Hercules is the same with Heracula, commonly pronounced Hercul, and signifying the race of Hera or Heri. Those heroes are celebrated in the concluding book of the Mahabharat, entitled Herivansa; and Arrian says, that the Suraseni, or people of Mat'bara, worshipped Hercules, by whom he must have meant Crishna and his descendants.
In the Canopean temple of Serapis, the statue of the god was decorated with a Cerberus and a Dragon; whence the learned Alexandrians concluded, that he was the same with Pluto: his image, had been brought from Sinope by the command of one of the Ptolemies, before whose time he was hardly known in Egypt. Serapis, I believe, is the same with Yama or Pluto; and his name seems derived from the compound Asrapa, implying thirst of bleed: the sun in Bhadra had the title of Yama, but the Egyptians gave that of Pluto, says Porphyry, to the great luminary near the winter solstice.70 Yama, the regent of hell, has two dogs, according to the Puranas, one of them, named Cerbura and Sabala, or varied; the other Syama, or black; the first of whom is also called Trisiras, or with three beads, and has the additional epithets of Calmaska, Chitra, and Cirmura, all signifying stained, or spotted, in Pliny, the words [p.409] Cimmerium and Cerberim seem used as synonymous71; but, however that may be, the Cerbura of the Hindus is indubitably the Cerberus of the Greeks. The Dragon of Serapis, I suppose to be the Seshanaga, which is described as in the infernal regions by the author of the Bhagavat.
Having now closed my remarks on the parallel divinities of Egypt and India, with references to the ancient geography of the countries adjacent to the Nile, I cannot end this section more properly than with an account of the Jainas and the three principal deities of that sect; but the subject is dark, because the Brahmens, who abhor the followers of Jina, either know little of them, or are unwilling to make them the subject of conversation: what they have deigned to communicate, I now offer to the society.
Toward the middle of the period, named Padmacalpa, there was such a want of rain for many successive years, that the greatest part of mankind perished, and Brahma himself was grieved by the distress which prevailed in the universe; Ripunjaya then reigned in the west of and, seeing, his kingdom desolate, came to end his days at Casi. Here we may remark, that Casi, or the splendid, (a name retained by Ptolemy in the word Cas India) is called Banares by the Moguls, who have transposed two of the letters in its ancient epithet Varanesi; a name, in some degree preserved also by the Greeks in the word Aornis on the Ganges for, when old Casi, or Casidia, was destroyed by Bhagawan, according to the Puranas, or by Bacchus, according to Dionysius Periegetes, it was rebuilt at some distance from its former site, near a place called Sivabar, and had the name of Varanasi, or Aornis, which we find also written [p.410] Avemus: the word Varanasi may be taken, as some Brahmens have conjectured, from the names of two rivulets, Varuna and Asi, between which the town stands; but more learned grammarians deduce it from vara, or most excellently and anas, or water, whence come Varanasi, an epithet of Ganga and Varanasi (formed by Panini's rule) of the city raised on her bank. To proceed: Brahma offered Ripunjaya the dominion of the whole earth, with Casi for his metropolis, directing him to collect the scattered remains of the human race, and to aid them in forming new settlements: telling him, that his name should thenceforth be Divo'da'sa, or Servant of Heaven. The wise prince was unwilling to accept so burdensome an office, and proposed as the condition of his acceptance, that the glory, which he was to acquire, should be exclusively his own: and that no Devata should remain in his capital: Brahma, not without reluctance, assented, and even Mahadeva, with his attendants, left their favourite abode at Casi, and retired to the Mandara hills near the source of the Ganges. The reign of Divodas began with acts of power, which alarmed the Gods; he deposed the Sun and Moon from their seats, and appointed other regents of them, making also a new sort of fire: but the inhabitants of Casi were happy under his virtuous government. The deities, however, were jealous, and Mahadeva, impatient to revisit his beloved city, prevailed on them to assume different shapes, in order to seduce the king and his people. Devi tempted them, without success, in the forms of sixty four Yoginis, or female anchorets; the twelve Adityas, or Sons, undertook to corrupt them; but, ashamed of their failure, remained in the holy town: next appeared Ganesa, commissioned by his father Mahadeva, in the garb of an astronomer, attended by others of his profession; and assisted by thirty-six Vaindyacis, or Ganesis, who were his female descendants; and by their help he began to change the disposition [p.411] of the people, and to prepare them for the coming of the three principal deities.
Vishnu came in the character of Jina, inveighing against sacrifices, prayers, pilgrimages, and the ceremonies prescribed by the Veda, and asserting, that all true religion consisted in killing no creature that had life: his consort Jayadevi preached this new doctrine to her own sex; and the inhabitants of Casi were perplexed with doubts. He was followed by Mahadeva, in the form of Arhan or Mahimak, accompanied by his wife Mama'mauya, with a multitude of male and female attendants: he supported the tenets of Jiha, alledging his own superiority over Brahma and Vishnu, and referring, for the truth of his allegation, to Jina himself, who fell prostrate before him; and they travelled together over the world, endeavouring to spread their heresies. At length appeared Brahma in the figure of Buddha, whose consort was named Vijnya: he confirmed the principles, inculcated by his predecessors, and, finding the people seduced, he began, in the capacity of a Brahmen, to corrupt the mind of the king. Divoda'sa listened to him with complacency, lost his dominion, and gave way to Mahadeva, who returned to his former place of residence; but the deposed king, reflecting the late on his weakness, retired to the banks of the Gomati where he built a fortress, and began to build a city on the same plan with Casi: the ruins of both are still to be seen near Chanwoc, about fourteen miles above the confluence of the Gomati with the Ganges, and about twenty to the north of Banares. It is added, that Mahadeva, having vainly contended with the numerous and obstinate followers of the new doctrine, resolved to exterminate them; and, for that purpose, took the shape of Sancara, surnamed Achdrya, who explained the Vedas to the people, destroyed the temples of the Jainas, caused their books to be burned, and massacred [p.412] all who opposed him. This tale, which has been extracted from a book, entitled Sancara-pradur-bhava, was manifestly invented for the purpose of aggrandizing Sancaracharya, whose exposition of the Upanishads and comment on the Vedanta, with other excellent works, in prose and verse, on the being and attributes of God, are still extant and sedulously studied by the Vedanti school: his disciples considered him as an incarnation of Mahadeva; but he tarnished his brilliant character, by something the religious war, in which most of the persecuted Juinai were, slain or expelled from these parts of India; very few of them now remaining in the Gangetick provinces, or in the western peninsula, and those few living in penury and ignorance, apparently very wretched, and extremely reserved on all subjects of religion. These heterodox Indians are divided into three sects: the followers of Jina we find chiefly dispersed on the borders of India; those of Buddha, in Tibet, and other vast regions to the north and east of it; while those of Arhan (who are said to have been anciently the most powerful of the three) now reside principally in Siam and in other kingdoms of the eastern peninsula. Arhan is reported to have left impressions of his feet on rocks in very, remote countries, as monuments of his very extensive travels: the most remarkable of them is in the island of Sinbal, or Silan, and the Siamese revere it under the name of Prapul, from the Sanscrit word Prasada; but the Brahmens insist that it was made by the foot of Ravana. Another impression of a foot, about two cubits long, was to be seen, in the time of Herodotus, on the banks of the river Tyras, now called the Dnieper; the people of that country were certainly Bauddhas, and their high priest, who resided on mount Cocajon, at present named Casjon, was believed to be regenerate, exactly like the Lama of Tibet.
As to Jina, he is said, by his followers, to have assumed twenty-four [p.413] rupas, or forms, at the same time, for, the purpose of disseminating his doctrine, but to have existed really and wholly in all and each of those forms at once, though in places very remote; but those rupas were of different orders, according to certain mysterious divisions of twenty-four, and the forms are considered as more or less perfect, according to the greater or less perfection of the component numbers and the several compounds, the leading number being three, as an emblem of the Trimurti: again the twenty-four rupas; multiplied by those numbers, which before were used as divisors, produce other forms; and thus they exhibit the appearances of Jina in all possible varieties and permutations, comprising in them the different productions of nature.
Most of the Brahmens insist, that the Buddha, who perverted Divoda'sa, was not the ninth incarnation of Vishnu, whose name, some say, should be written Bauddha, or Boddha; but not to mention the Amarcosh, the Mugababodh, and the Gitagovinda, in all of which the ninth avatar is called Buddha, it is expressly declared in the Bhagavat that Vishnu should appear ninthly in the form of "Buddha, son of Jina, for the purpose of confounding the Daityas, at a place named Cicala, when the Cali age should be completely begun." On this passage it is only remarked by Sridhara Swami, the celebrated commentator, that Jina and Ajina were two names of the same person, and that Cicala was in the district of Gaya; but the Pandits, who assisted in the Persian translation of the Bhagavat, gave the following account of the ninth avatara. The Daityas had asked Indra, by what means they could attain the dominion of the world; and he had answered, that they could only attain it by sacrifice, purification, and piety: they made preparations accordingly for a solemn sacrifice and a general ablution; but Vishnu, on the int- [p.414] ersession of the Devas, descended in the shape of a Sannyasi, named Buddha, with his hair braided in a knot on the crown of his head, wrapt in a squalid mantle and with a broom in his hand. Buddha presented himself to the Daityas, and was kindly received by them; but, when they expressed their surprise at his foul vesture, and the singular implement which he carried, he told them, that it was cruel and consequently impious, to deprive any creature of life; that, whatever might be said in the Vedas, every sacrifice of an animal was an abomination, and that purification itself was wicked, because some small insect might be killed in bathing or washing cloth; that he never bathed, and constantly swept the ground before him, least he should tread on some innocent reptile: he then expatiated on the inhumanity of giving pain to the playful and harmless kid, and reasoned with such eloquence, that the Daityas wept, and abandoned all thought of ablution and sacrifice. As this Maya, or illusive appearance, of Vishnu, frustrated the ambitious project of the Daityas, one of Buddha's titles is the son of Maya: he is also named Sa'cyasinha,, or the Lion of the race of Sacya, from whom he descended, an appellation which seems to intimate, that he was a conqueror, or a warrior, as well as a philosopher. Whether Buddha was a sage or a hero, the leader of a colony, or a whole colony personified, whether he was black or fair, whether his hair was curled or straight, if indeed he had any hair (which a commentator on the Bbagavat denies) whether he appeared ten, or two hundred, or a thousand years, after Crishna, it is very certain that he was not of the true Indian race: in all his images, and in the statues of Bauddhas, male and female, which are to be seen in many parts of these provinces and in both peninsulas, there is an appearance of something Egyptian or Ethiopian; and both in features and dress, they differ widely [p.415] from the ancient Hindu figures of heroes and demigods. Sacya has a resemblance in sound to Sisac, and we find Cha'nac abbreviated from Chanacya; so that Sisac and Sesonchosis may be corrupted from Sacyasinha, with a transposition of some letters, which we know to be frequent in proper names, as in the word Bandres. Many of his statues in India are colonial, nearly naked, and usually represented sitting in a contemplative attitude; nor am I disinclined to believe that the famed statue of Memnon, in Egypt, was erected in honour of Mahimait, which has Mahimna in one of its oblique cases, and the Greeks could hardly have pronounced that word otherwise than Maimna, or Memna: they certainly used Mai instead of Maha, for Hesychius expressly says, [Greek]; and Mai signifies great even in modern Coptick. We are told, that Mahiman, by his wife Mahama'nya had a son named Sharmaka Cardama, who seems to be the Sammano Codom of the Bauddbas. unless those last words be corrupted from Samanta Go'tam, which are found in the Amarcosh among Buddha's names. Cardam, which properly means clay or mud, was the first created man, according to some Indian legends; but the Puranas mention about seven or eight, who claimed the priority of creation; and some Hindus, desirous of reconciling the contradiction, but unwilling to admit that the same fact is differently related, and the same person differently named, insist that each was the first man in his respective country. Be this as it may, Cardama lived in Varuna-chanda, so called from his son Vahuja the god of ocean, where we see the ground-work of the fable concerning Palamon, or Melicertus, grandson of Cadmus: now that chanda, or division of Jamtm-dwip comprised the modern Persia, Syria, and Asia the Less; in which countries we find many traces of Mahiman and his followers, in the stupendous edifices, remarkable for their magnificence and solidity, which the [p.416] Greeks ascribed to the Cyclopes. The walls of Susa, about sixteen miles in circumference, were built by the father of Memnon; the citadel was called Memstonium, and the town Memnonia; the palace is represented by Ælian as amazingly sumptuous, and Strabo compares its ancient walls, citadels, temples, and palace to those of Babylon; a noble high road through the country was attributed to Memnon; one tomb near Troy was supposed to be his, and another in Syria; the Ethiopians, according to Diodorus of Sicily, claimed Memnon as their countryman, and a nation in Ethiopia were styled Memnones; on the borders of that country and of Egypt stood many old palaces, called Memnonian; part of Thebes had the name of Memnonium; and an astonishing building at Abydus was denominated Memnon's palace; Strabo says, that many supposed Ismandes to have been the same with Memnon, and consequently they must have thought the Labyrinth a Memnonian structure.72
Divodasa, pronounced in the popular dialects Dioda's, reigned over some western districts of Cusha-dwip within, which extended from the shores of the Mediterranean to the banks of the Indus, and he became, we find, the first mortal king of Varanes: he seems to have been the Hercules Diodas mentioned by Eusebius, who flourished in Phenice, and, it is supposed, about 1524 years before our era; but, in my humble opinion, we cannot place any reliance on such chronological calculations; which always err on the side of antiquity. The three sects of Jina, Mahiman, and Buddha, whatever may be the difference between them, are all named Bauddhas: and, as the chief law, in which, as the Brahmens assert, they make virtue and religion consist, is to preserve the lives of all animated beings, we cannot [p.417] but suppose, that the founder, of their sect was Buddha, the ninth avatar, who in the Agnipuran, has the epithet of Sacripa, or Benevolent, and, in the Gitdgovinda, that of Sadaya-bridaya,, or Tender-hearted: it is added by Jayadeva, that "he censured the whole Veda, because it prescribed the immolation of cattle." This alone, we see, has not destroyed their veneration for him; but they contend that atheistical dogmas have been propagated by modern Bauddhas, who were either his disciples, or those of a younger Buddha, or so named from buddhi, because they admit no supreme divinity, but intellect; they add, that even the old Juinas, or Jayanas, acknowledged no gods but Jya, or Earth, and Vishnu, or Water; as Deri-Iades (perhaps Duryodhan) is introduced by Nonnus boasting, that Water and Earth were his only deities; and reviling his adversaries, for entertaining a different opinion;73 so that the Indian war, described in the Dionysiacks, arose probably from a religious quarrel. Either the old Bauddhas were the same with the Cutila-cesas, or nearly allied to them; and we may suspect some affinity between them and the Palis, because the sacred language of Siam, in which the laws of the Bauddhas are composed, is properly named Pali; but a complete account of Buddha will then only be given, when some studious man shall collect all that relates to him in the Sanscrit books, particularly in the Vayu-puran, and shall compare his authorities with the testimonies, drawn from other sources by KÆMPFER, Giorgi, Tachard, De La Loubere, and by such as have access to the literature of China-Siam, and Japan.
SECTION THE THIRD.
WE come now to the demigods, heroes, and sages, who at different times visited
Egypt and Ethiopia, some as vindictive conquerors, and some as instructors in
religion and morality.
I. Pe't'hi'na's, or Pi't'he'na's was a Rishi, or holy man, who had long resided near Mount Himalaya but at length retired to the places of pilgrimage on the banks of the Cali, designing to end his days there in the discharge of his religious duties: his virtues were so transcendent, that the inhabitants of the countries bordering on that river, insisted on his becoming their sovereign, and his descendants reigned over them to the thirteenth generation; but his immediate successor was only his adopted son. The following series of fifteen kings may constitute, perhaps, the dynasty; which, in the history of Egypt, is called the Cynick Circle;
Each of those princes is believed to have built a place of worship, near which he usually resided; but of the fifteen temples, or consecrated edifices, we can only ascertain the situation or even with any degree of accuracy.
The founder of the family was a pious and excellent prince, observing in all
respects the ordinances of the Veda: his name is to this day highly venerated by
the Brahmens; many sacerdotal families in India boast of their descent from him;
and the laws of Paithinasi are still extant, in an ancient style and in
modulated prose among the
many tracts, which collectively form the Dherma-Sutra. It must be observed, that
he was often called Pi't'he'rtshi, or Pi't'hershi; and his place of residence,
but the short vowel ri has the sound of ru in the western pronunciation, like
the first syllable of Richard in some English counties: thus, in some parts of
India, amrita, or ambrosia, is pronounced imrut, whence I conjecture, that the
seat of Pithe-rushi was the Pathros of Scripture, called Phatures by the
Seventy, and Phatori by Eusebius, which gave its appellation to the Phaturitk
nome of Pliny. Some imagine Phaturis to have been Thebes, or Diospolis; but
Pliny mentions them both as distinct places, though, from his context, it
appears that they could not be far asunder; and I suppose Phaturis to be no
other than the Tathyris of Ptolemy, which he places at no great distance from the
Memnonium, or western suburb of Thebes and, in the time of Ptolemy, the nome of
Phaturis bad been annexed to that of Diospolis, so that its capital city became
of little importance: we took notice, in the first section, that the Ethiopians,
who, from a defect in their articulation, say Taulos instead of Paulos, would
have pronounced Tithoes for Pithoes, and Talburis for Pathuris.
Though we before gave some account of the fabulous Rahu and the Grahas, yet it may not be superfluous to relate their story in this place at greater length. Rahu was the son of Casyapa and Diti, according to some authorities; but others represent Sinhica, (perhaps the Sphinx) as his natural mother: he had four arms; his lower parts ended in a tail [p.420] like that of a dragon; and his aspect was grim and gloomy, like the darkness of the chaos, whence he had also the name of Tamas. He was the adviser of all mischief among the Daityas, who had a regard for him; but among the Divatas it was his chief delight to sow dissension and, when the gods had produced the amrit by churning the ocean, he disguised himself, like one of them, and received a portion of it; but the Sun and Moon having discovered his fraud, Vishnu severed his head and two of his arms from the rest of his monstrous body. That part of the nectareous fluid, which he had time to swallow, secured his immortality: his trunk and dragon-like tail fell on the mountain of Malaya, where Mini, a Brahmen, carefully preserved them by the name of Cetu; and, as if a complete body had been formed from them, like a dismembered polype, he is even said to have adopted Cetu as his own child. The head with two arms fell on the sands of Bariara, where Pithenas was then walking with Sinhica, by some called his wife: they carried the Daitya to their palace, and adopted him as their son; whence he acquired the name of Paithinasi. This extravagant fable is, no doubt, astronomical; Rahu and Cetu being clearly the nodes, or what astrologers call the head and tail of the dragon: it is added, that they appeased Vishnu, and obtained re-admission to the firmament, but were no longer visible from the earthy their enlightened sides being turned from it, that Kahu strives during eclipses, to wreak vengeance on the Sun and Moon, who detected him; and that Cetu often appears as a comet, a whirlwind, a fiery meteor, a water-spout, or a column of sand. From Paithinas the Greeks appear to have made Pythonos in their oblique case; but they seem to have confounded the stories of Python and Typhon, uniting two distinct persons in one.74 Pait'he'nasi, who reigned on the banks of the Cali after [p.421] Pithenas his protector, I suppose to be Typhon, Typhaon, or Typhosus: he was an usurper and a tyrant, oppressing the Divatas, encouraging the Daityas, and suffering the Vedas to be neglected. Herodotus represents him like Rahu, as constantly endeavouring to destroy Apollo and Diana;75 and the Mythologists add, that he was thunderstruck by Jupiter, and fell into the quicksands of the lake Sirbonis, called also Sirben and Sarhonis: now Swarbhanu, one of his names, signifies Light of Heaven, and, in that character, he answers to Lucifer. The fall of that rebellious angel is described by Isaiah, who introduces him saying, that "he would exalt his throne above the stars of God, and would sit on the mount of the congregation in the sides of the North:" the heavenly Meru of the Puranas, where the principal Devas are supposed to be seated, is not only in the north. but has also the name of Saiba, or the congregation. Fifty fix comets are said, in the Chintamani, to have sprung from Cetu; and Rahu had a numerous progeny of Grahas, or crocodiles: we are told by Ælian, that Typhon assumed the form of a crocodile,76 and Rahu was often represented in the shape of that animal, though he is generally described as a dragon. The constellation of the dragon is by the Japanese called the Crocodile; and the sixth year of the Tartarian cycle is the same appellation: it is the very year, which the Tibetians name the year of Lightning, alluding to the dragon, who was stricken by it.77 A real tyrant, of Egypt was, probably, supposed to be Rahu, or Typhon, in a human shape; for we find, that he was actually expelled from that country together with his Grahas: I have not yet been able to procure a particular account of their expulsion. The Jl*bdn of Rahu, or Paithinasi, named also Paithi, seems to have been the town of Pithom on the [p.422] borders of Egypt: the Seventy wrote it Peitho, and Herodotus calls it Paiumos; but, the second case in Sanscrit being generally affected in the western dialects, we find it written Phithom by the old Latin interpreter, Fubom by Hieronymus, and Pethom in the Coptick translation. The Greek name of that city was Heroopolis, or according to Strabo, Herood; but we are informed by Stephanus of Byzantium,78 that, "when Typhon was smitten by lightning, and blood flowed from his wounds, the place where he fell, was thence called Hamus, though it had likewise the name of Hero;" so the station of Rahu was on the spot where Pithenas and Singhica, found his bloody head rolling on the sands; and, if Singhica, or the Woman like a lioness, be the Sphinx, the monstrous head, which the Arabs call Abulhaul, or Father of Terrour, may have been intended for that of Rahu, and not, as it is commonly believed, for his mother. Though the people of Egypt abhorred Typhon, yet fear made them worship him; and in early times they offered him human victims: the Greeks say, that he had a red complexion, and mention his expulsion from Egypt, but add a strange story of his arrival in Palestine, and of his three sons. We must not, however, confound Rahu with Mahadeva, who, in his destructive character was called also Typhon; though it be difficult sometimes to distinguish them: several places in Egypt were dedicated to a divinity named Typhon; as the Typhonian places between Tentyra and Coptos, and the tower of Melite, where daily sacrifices were made to a dragon so terrible, that no mortal durst look on him; the legends of the temple relating, that a man, who had once the temerity to enter the recesses of it, was so terrified, by the sight of the monster, that he soon expired,79 Melite, I presume, was in [p.423] that part of the Delta, which had been peopled by a colony from Milesus; and was, probably, the Milesian wall or fort near the sea-shore, mentioned by Strabo.
The usurper was succeeded by Ishtenas, the real son of Pithenas, who had also a daughter named Paitheni; and her story is related this in the Brahmanda'purana. From her earliest youth she was distinguished for piety, especially towards Mahadeva, on whom her heart was ever intent; and, at the great festival, when all the nation resorted to Cardamajibait, or Thebes, the princess never failed to sing and dance before the image of Caradameswara: the goddess Iswari, was so pleased with her behaviour that she made Paithani, her Sacbi, or female companion; and the damsel used to dance thrice a day in the mud before the gate of the temple, but with such lightness and address as never to soil her mantle. She died a virgin, having devoted her life to the service of the god and his consort. The female patronymick Paitheni comes from Pith or Pithena, but from Pithenas the derivative form would be Pathenasi; and thence Nonnus calls her Peithianassa, and describes her as a handmaid of Semele, the daughter of Cadmus, in which character she received Juno,80 who was devising the ruin of Semele, and with that intent had assumed the form of a loquacious nurse: this passage in the Dionysiacks is very interesting, as it proves, in my opinion, that the Semele and Cadmus of the Greeks were the same with the Syamala and Cardama of the Hindus.
The fourteenth prince of this dynasty was devoted from his infancy to the worship of Tswara, on whom his mind was perpetually fixed, so [p.424] that he became insensible of all worldly affections, and indifferent both to the praise and censure of men: he used, therefore, to wander over the country, sometimes dwelling on hills and in woods, sometimes in a bower, rarely in a house, and appearing like an idiot in the eyes of the vulgar, who, in ridicule of his idle talk and behaviour called him Pe't'hi-suca, Panjarasuca, or Sala-suca, meaning the parrot in a chest, a cage, or a house, which names he always retained. When he grew up, and sat on the throne, he governed his people equitably and wisely, retraining the vicious by his just severity, and instructing the ignorant in morals and religion: by his wife Marisha he had a son called Meo'hisuca, to whom at length he resigned his kingdom, and, by the favour of Iswara, became jivanmussa, or released, even during life, from all encumbrances of matters; but the story of Marisha and his son has been related in a preceding section. Medhi, or Merhi, means a pillar, or a post upon which victims are tied, or any straight pole perpendicularly fixed in the ground; and Pattyam, I believe, signifies a cross stick, or a wooden bar placed horizontally; so that Pattyam-suca might have meant the parrot on a perch; but why the thirteenth prince had that appellation, I am not yet informed: Suca is also a proper name; the son of Vyasa, and principal speaker in the Bhagavat, being called Suca-de'va. Now many obelisks in Egypt were said to have been raised by a king named Suchis;81 and the famous labyrinth, to have been constructed by King Petesuccus:82 by Merhi we may certainly understand either a pillar or an obelisk, or a slender and lofty tower like the Mendrahs of the Muselmans, or even a high building in a pyramidal sons. The Hindus assert that each of the three Sucas had a particular edifice ascribed to him; and we can hardly doubt, that the sthan of Psthi-oca was the [p.425] labyrinth if the three names of that prince have any alludes to the building, we may apply Sala, or mansion, to the whole of it; Panjara, or cage, to the lower story, and Peihi, or chest, to the various apartments under ground, where the chests, or coffins, of the sacred crocodiles, called Sukhus or Sukhis in old Egyptian,83 and Soukh to this day in Coptick, were carefully deposited. Hesychius, indeed, says, that Buti signified a chest, or coffin, in Egyptian; but that, perhaps, must be understood of the vulgar dialect: the modern Copts call a chest be-ut, or, with their article, tahut', a word which the Arabs have borrowed. When Pliny informs us, that Petesuccus was named also Tithoes, we must either read Pitroes from Pathi, or impute the change of the initial letter to the defective articulation of the Ethiopians, who frequently invaded Egypt. From the account given by Herodotus, we may conjecture, that the coffins of the sacred crocodiles, as they were called, contained in fact the bodies of those princes, whom both Egyptians and Hindus named Sucas, though suc means a parrot in Sanscrit, and a crocodile in the Coptick dialect: the Sanscrit words for a crocodile are Cumbbira and Nacra, to which some expositors of the Amarcoso and Avagraha and Graha; but, if the royal name was symbolical, and implied a peculiar ability to seize and hold, the symbol might be taken from a bird of prey, as well as from the lizard kind; especially as a sect of Egyptians abhorred the crocodile, and would not have applied it as an emblem of any legal and respectable power, which they would rather have expressed by a hawk, or some distinguished bird of that order: others, indeed, worshipped crocodiles, and I am told, that the very legend before us, framed according to their notions, may be found in some of the Puranas.
We find then three kings named Sucas, or parrots, living in a house or a cage,
or resting either on an upright pole, or on one with a cross-bar, but who they
were, it is not my present object, nor am I now able, to investigate: I will
only observe, that besides the king of Egypt, whom Pliny calls Suchis, or Sochis,
the father of the Curetes, is named Sochus by a Greek lexicographer, and Socus
by the author of the Dionysiacks; and that he was one
of the Cabires or Cuveras, who (or at least some of whom) inhabited in former
ages the countries adjacent to the Nile.
The ruins of that wonderful building, called the Labyrinth, are still to be seen, near the lake Mœris, at a place which the Arabs have named the Kafr, or palace, of Kahun, whom they suppose to have been the richest of mortals; as the ruins of Me'dhi-su'ca-sthan are in a district named the Belad, or country, of the same personage: the place last mentioned is, most probably, the labyrinth built, according to Damoteles in Pliny, by Motherudes, a name derived, I imagine, from Medhi-rusht. The town of Meta-camso, mentioned by Ptolemy as opposite to Pselchis above Syria seems to have had some connexion with Medhilsuca; for camsa and suca were synonymous in the old Egyptian: Herodotus at least informs us, that camsa meant a crocodile in that language; and it appears related to timsah in Arabick. Patyam (for so the long compound is often abbreviated) seems to have been the labyrinth near Arsinoc, or Crccodilopolis, now Fayum, which word I suppose corrupted from Patyam, or Phaiyam, as the Capis would have pronounced it; and my Pandit inclines also to think, that the building might have been thus denominated from large pieces, of stone or timber projecting, like patyas, before the windows, in order to support the frames of a balcony, which, as a new invention, must have attracted the notice of beholders. As to the lake of Mœris, I have already exhibited all that I have yet found concerning it: [p.427] the stupendous pyramid, said to have been six hundred feet high, in the midst of that lake was raised, we are told, by a king named Mæris, Myris, Marros, Maindes, Mendes, and Imandes;84 a strong instance of one name variously corrupted; and I have no doubt, that the original of all those variations was Merhi or Medhi. Even to this day in India, the pillars or obelisks, often raised in the middle of tanks, or pools, are called Merhis; but let us proceed to another legend faithfully extracted from the Maha calpa, in which we see, beyond a doubt, the affinity of Indian, Egyptian, and Grecian Mythology.
IL On the mountains of Jwalamuc'ha in the interior Cusha-dwip, reigned a virtuous and religious prince, named Charvanayanas, whose son, Caseyanas, preferred arms and hunting, in which he was continually engaged, to the study of the Veda, and was so frequently concerned in contests and affrays with his neighbours, that his father, after many vain admonitions, banished him from his palace and his kingdom: the dauntless young exile retired to the deserts, and at length reached Mocshisa, believed to be Mecca, where, hungry and fatigued, he bathed in the Mocsoa'irtha, or consecrated well, and passed the night without sleep. Visvacse'na, then sovereign of that country, had an only daughter Papuamuc'hi, or with face like a lotos, who went to perform religious rites to Maha'deva, god of the temple and the well and there seeing the prince, she brought him refreshment and heard his adventure; their interview ended in mutual love, and the old king, who denied her nothing, consented to their marriage, which was solemnised with the ceremony of Panigraha, or taking hands, and the young pair lived many years happily in the palace of their father. It happened some [p.428] time after, that the city was besieged by two kings of the Danavas with a numerous army; but Capeyanas entirely defeated them: the venerable monarch met his brave son in law returning with conquest, and, having resigned the throne to him, went to the banks of the Cali, accompanied by his wife, and entered with her into the third order, called Tanaprestha, or that of hermits, in which they passed the remainder of their lives, and, after deaths obtained laya, or union with the Supreme Spirit; whence their station was named Layast'han, or Layavati, and was visited, for ages after, by such as hoped for beatitude. Capeyanas, or Capenas (for he is differently named in the same book) adhered so strongly to justice, and governed so mildly, that he was respected by his neighbours and beloved by his subjects: yet he became a great conqueror, always protecting the weak, and punishing their oppressors. All the, princes to the east of Mocslesa paid him tribute; but Calasena, king of the exterior Cusha-dwip, having insolently refused to become his tributary, he invaded Abyssinia, and after a very long battle, at a place named Ranotsava, or the festival of combat, wholly defeated Calasena, whom he replaced on his throne, exacting only a regular acknowledgment of his dominion paramount: then, following the course of the Cali river, he came to Barbara, or the burning sands of Nubia, the king of which country was Gulma, one of the Tamovansas, or the son of Mandya, who was the Ibn of Tamas, of Sani, by his wife Jaratha; but from Gulma he met with no resistance, for the wise king laid his diadem at the feet of Capenas, who restored it, and desired his company, as a friend, in his expedition to Misra-sthan. The sovereign of Misra was at that time Ranasura, who, disdaining submission, sent his son Ranadurmada with a great force against Capenas, and soon followed him at the head of a more powerful army: an obstinate battle was fought, at a place called afterwards Ghora-sthan, from the horror of the carnage; but Ranasura was killed, and his troops entirely routed. The [p.429] conqueror placed the prince on the throne of Misra, the capital of which was then called Visva-cirti-pura, or the City of Universal Fame: and, having carried immense treasures to Mocshesa, he dedicated them to the God of the temple, resolving to end his days in peaceful devotion: by Padmamuchi he had a daughter named Antarmada, and a son Bhale-Yanas, to whom, after the example of ancient monarchs, he resigned his kingdom, when he grew old, and prepared himself for a better life.
Before his death he was very desirous of performing the great sacrifice of a horse, called Aswamedhi, but considerable difficulties usually attended that ceremony; for the consecrated horse was to be set at liberty for a certain time, and followed at a distance by the owner, or his champion, who was usually one of his near kinsmen; and, if any person should attempt to stop it in its rambles, a battle must inevitably ensue: besides, as the performer of a hundred Aswam'edhas became equal to the God of the firmament, Indra was perpetually on the watch, and generally carried off the sacred animal by force or by fraud; though he could not prevent Beli from completing his hundredth sacrifice; and that monarch put the supremacy of the Devas to proof, at the time, when the Padma-mandira was built on the banks of the Cumudoati; nor did he prevail against Raghu, whose combat with Indra himself is described by Calidas in a style perfectly Homerick.. The great age of Casenas obliged him to employ his son in that perilous and delicate service; but Indra contrived to purloin the horse, and Bhaleyana's resolved never to see his father or kingdom, unless he could recover the mystical victim: he wandered, therefore, through forests and over deserts, till he came to the bank of the Ganges near Avaca-pura, or Alaca-puri, about twelve cros N. N. W. of Badart-narb; and there, in the agonies of despondence he threw himself [p.430] on the ground, wishing for death; but Ganga, the river goddess, appeared to him, commanded him to return home, and assured him, that he should have a son, whom she would adopt by the name of Gangeyanas, who should overcome Indra, and restore the horse to his grandfather. Her prediction was in due time accomplished; and the young hero defeated the army of Indra in a pitched battle near the river Cali, whence he acquired the title of Virauja-jit, or vanquisher of Indra: the field of battle was thence named Samara-sthan; and is also called Virasaya, because the flower of heroes had been there lulled in the sleep of death. Bhaleyanas, having a very religious turn of mind, placed his son on the throne, and observing that his sister Antarmada had the same inclination, retired with her to the forest of Tapas in Upper Egypt; both intending to close their days in devout austerities and in meditation on the Supreme Spirit: Maya-devi, or the goddess of worldly illusion, who resembles the Aphrodite Pandemos of the Greeks, and totally differs from Jnaya-devi, or the goddess of celestial wisdom, attempted to disturb them, and to prevent them from reaping the fruit of their piety; but she was unable to prevail over the fervent devotion of the two royal anchorites. Her failure of success, however, gave her an unexpected advantage; for Antarmada, became too much elated with internal pride, which her name implies; and, boasting of her victory over Maya-Devi, she added that the inhabitants of the three worlds would pay her homage, that she should be like Arundhati, the celebrated consort of Vasisht'ha and that after her death, she should have a seat in the starry mansion; this vaunt invoked Mayadevi to a phrensy of rage; and she flew to Aurva, requesting him to set on fire the forests of Tapas; but Vishnu, in the shape of a hollow conical mountain, surrounded the princess, and saved her from the flames; whence the place where she stood, was called the [p.431] sthan of Cbhadita, or the covered, and the Periracshita, or the guarded on all sides. The enraged goddess then sent a furious tempest; but Vishnu, assuming the form of a large tree, secured her with its trunk and branches at a place thence named Racshita-sthana; Maya-Devi, however, seized her, and cast her into a certain sea, which had afterwards the name of Amagna, because Vishnu endued its waters with a power of supporting her on their surface; and they have ever since retained that property, so that nothing sinks in them.
The fourth and last machination was the most dangerous and malignant: Devi carried Antarmada to the sea-shore, and chained her to a rock, that she might be devoured by a Graha, or sea monster; but Vishnu, ever vigilant to preserve her, animated a young hero, named Parasica, who slew the monster, and released the intended victim, at a place named, from her deliverance, Uddhdra-sthan. He conducted her to his own country, and married her at a place, called Panigraha, because he there took her by the hand, in the nuptial ceremony; they passed through life happily, and, after death, were both seated among the stars, together with Capenas and Padmamuhi, who had also the patronymick of Casyapi. Among the immediate descendants of Parasica and Antarmala, we find Varasica and Rasica, who reigned successively, Timica and Bhaluca, who travelled, as merchants, into distant countries, and Bhalucayani, who seems to have been the last of the race.
The pedigree of Capenas has been carefully preserved; and many Brahmens are proud of their descent from him;
Cas'yapa and Adita.
A twenty-third prince, named Cansalayanas, is added in some genealogical tables.
This is manifestly the same story with that of Cepheus and Cassiopea, Perseus and Andromeda. The first name was written Capheus or CaIphyeus, by the Arcadians,85 and is clearly taken from Capeya, the termination being frequently rejected: some assert, that he left no male issue; and Apollodorus only says that he had a daughter, named Sthope, the same I presume with Andromeda. The wife of Capeva was either descended herself from Casyapa, or was named Casyapi, after her marriage with a prince of that lineage. Parasica is declared in the Puranas to have been so called because he came from para, or beyond, that is from beyond the river Cali, or from the west of it; since it appears from the context, that he travelled from west to east; the countries on this side of the Nile, with respect to [p.433] India, have thence been denominated Arva-sthan, or, as the Persians write it, Arabistan; while those nations, who were seated on the other side of it, were called Parasicah, and hence came the Pharusu, or Persæ, of Lydia, who are said by Pliny to have been of Persian origin, or descended from Perseus, the chief scene of whose achievements was all the country from the western bank of the Nile to the ocean; but I do not believe, that the word Parasicda has any relation to the Persians who in Sanscrit are called Parajah, or inhabitants of Paraja, and sometimes Parasavab, which may be derived from Parasu, or Parasuah, from their excellent horses. I must not omit, that Arva-sthan, or Arabia, is by some derived from Arvan, which signifies a fine horse, the final letter being omitted in composition: Arvan is also the name of an ancient sage, believed to be a son of Brahma.
In order to prove, by every species of evidence, the identity of the Grecian and Indian fables, I one night requested my Pandit, who is a learned Astronomer, to show me among the stars the constellation of Antarmada; and he instantly pointed to Andromeda, which I had taken care not to show him first as an asterism, with which I was acquainted: he afterwards brought me a very rare, and wonderfully curious book in Sanscrit, with a distinct chapter on the Upanacshatras, or constellations out of the Zodiack, and with delineations of Capeya, of Casyapi seated, with a lotos-flower in her hand, of Antarmada chained with the Fish near her, and of Pa'rasi'ca holding the head of a monster, which he had slain in battle, dropping blood, with snakes instead of hair, according to the explanation given in the book; but let us return to the geography of the Puranas.
We mentioned, in the first section, the two Jwalamuchis, near
one of which the father of Capeyanas resided: the Jwalamuchi, now Corcur
which was also named Andyasa-devi-sthan, was at no great distance from the
Tigris, and seems as we intimated before, to be the [Greek] of Strabo:86
I suppose it to be the original Ur of the Chaldeans; original I say, because
there were several places of that name, both in Syria and Chaldea, where
superstitious honours were paid to fire, either natural or artificial. The
epithet great is applied in some Puranas to this Jwalamuchi, and in others to
that near Baku; to this, perhaps, by way of eminence in sanctity, and to that,
because its flames were more extended and fiercer. Laya-sthan, or Layavari,
where Visvacse'na closed his days near the Cali, we have also mentioned in a
preceding section, and it was, probably, the Lete of Josephus,87 or some place
very near it: Stephanus of Byzantium calls it Letopolis, or Latopolis, and says,
that it was a suburb of Memphis near the pyramids. Ghora-sthan is yet
unknown: it could not have been very far from Viswa-ciru-pura; but universal
fame is applicable to so many cities of Egypt, that we cannot appropriate it to
any one of them. Of Tapas and Tapovana we have already spoken; and
Periracshita, must have been in those forests of Ihebais: the tree of
was, possibly, the Holy Sycomore mentioned by Pliny, fifty-four miles above
Syene on the banks of the Nile. The sea of Amagna was, most probably, the
Asphainte lake, the waters of which had, and, some assert, have to this day, so
buoyant a quality, that nothing could sink in them: Maundrel takes particular
notice of this wonderful property. That lake was not far from Uddhdra-sthan, or
Joppe, where Andromeda was chained to a rock: Pliny says, that the place of her
confine- [p.435] ment and deliverance
was shown there in his time;88 and the
Sanscrit word Yapma, which the Arabs pronounce Yasab, and the Europeans call
deliverance from imminent danger. On the Egyptian shore, opposite to Joppa, was
a place called the Watch-tower of Perseus: by Graha, crocodile or a shark, we
may understand also one of Rahu's descendants, among whom the females were the
Graiai or Gracæ, of the western mythologists.
Panigraba was, I suppose, the town
of Panopolis, which could have a relation to the God Pan; for Herodotus, who had
been there informs us that it was called both Panopolis and Chemmis, that the
inhabitants of it paid divine honours to Perseus, and boasted that he was born
in it; but had Pan, of whom that historian frequently speaks, been the tutelary
god of the town, he would certainly have mentioned that fact: in the acts of the
council of Ephesus, we find that Sabinus was Panis Episcopus, as if one named of
the town had been Pani or Panis; and it might have been anciently named
griha, the mansion or place of the band, that is of wedlock, which the Greeks
would of course translate Panopolis; as we find Raja-griba rendered
in the same sense. On the banks of the Niger was another town of that name,
called Panagra by Ptolemy; and, to the north of it, we see Timica, Rustkibar,
Rusuccurum, and Rusicade, which have a great affinity with Timica and
before mentioned as descended from Perseus: both Rasicbar and Rasic-gber are
Indian appellations of places; the first meaning the enclosed ground or orchard;
and the second, which is a corruption from the Sanscrit, the house of Rasica. Great confusion has arisen in
the geography of India, from the resemblance in sound of [p.436]
gber, a house, a fortress,
and the second syllable of nagar, a town; thus Crishna-nagar is pronounced
Kishnagher, and Ulmi-nagar, Ramna-gber, both very erroneously; so
probably Vishnu-nagar, or Visva-nagar: we must beware of this, and the like,
confusion, when we examine the many names of places in Lydia and other parts of
Africa, which are either pure Sanscrit, or in such of the dialects as are spoken
in the west of India.
Let us conclude this article with observing, that the great extent of Capeya's empire appears from the Greek mythologists and other ancient writers; for the most considerable part of Africa was called Cephenia from his full name Capeyanas; the Persians from him were styled Cephenes; and a district in the south of Armenia was denominated Cephene; a passage also in Pliny shows, that his dominion included Ethiopia, Syria, and the intermediate countries: "Ethiopia," says he, "was worn out by the wars of the Egyptians, alternately ruling and serving; it was famed, however, and powerful even to the Trojan wars in the reign of Memnon; and that, in the time of King Cepheus, it had command over Syria, and on our coast, is evident from the fables of Andromeda."
III. The following legend is taken from the Mahacalpa, and is there said expressly to be an Egyptian story. An ancient king, who was named Chatkayana, because he was a perfect matter of the four Vedas, to which name Vatsa was usually prefixed, because he was descended from Vatsa, a celebrated sage, passed a hundred years in a dark cavern of Crishna-giri, or the Black Mountain, on the banks of the Cali, performing the most rigorous acts of devotion: at length Vishnu, furnished Guha-Saya, or dwelling in caves, appeared to him, and promised him, all that he desired, male issue; adding, that his son should be named Tamo-vatsa, in allusion to the darkness, in which his father had so long practised [p.437] religious austerities. Tamo-Vatsa became a warlike and ambitious, but wise and devout, prince: he performed austere acts of humiliation to Vishnu, with a desire of enlarging his empire; and the God granted his boon. Having heard, that Misra-st'han was governed by Nirmar-yada (a name, which may possibly be the origin of Nimrod) who was powerful and unjust, he went with his chosen troops into that country, and, without a declaration of war, began to administer justice among the people, and to give, them a specimen of a good king: he even treated with disdain an expostulatory message from Nirmaryada, who marched against him with a formidable army, but was killed in a battle, which lasted twelve days, and in which Tama-'Vatsa fought like a second Parasu Rama. The conqueror placed himself on the throne of Misra, and governed the kingdom with perfect equity: his son Bahyavatsa; devoted himself to religion, and dwelt in a forest; having resigned his dominion to his son Rucmavatsa, who tenderly loved his people, and so highly improved his country, that from his just revenues he amassed an incredible, treasure. His wealth was so great, that he raised three mountains, called Rucmadri, Rajatadri, and Retnadri, or the mountain of gold, of silver, and of gems: the author says mountains; but it appears from the context that they were fabricks, like mountains, and probably in a pyramidal form.
Tamovatsa seems to be the Timaus of Manetho, who says, according to Mr, Bryant's translation, that "they once had a king, called Timaus in whose reign there came on a sudden into their country, a large body of obscure people, who with great boldness invaded the land, took it without opposition, and behaved very barbarously, slaying the men, and enslaving their wives and children." The Hindus, indeed, say, that the invaders were headed by Tamo-Vatsa, who behaved with justice to the [p.438] natives, but almost wholly destroyed the king's army, as the son of Jamadajgni nearly extirpated the military class; but the fragments of Manetho, although they contain curious matter, are not free from the suspicion of errours and transpositions. The seat of Tamo'vatsa, called Tamovalfast'han, seems to be the town of Thmuis, now Tmaie, in the district of Thmuites: in later times it appears to have communicated its name to the Phatmetick branch, and thence to Tamiathis, the present Damiata. We before ascertained the situation of Crishna-giri; and as to the three stupendous edifices, called mountains, from their size and form, there can be little or no doubt that they were the three great Pyramids near Misra-sthan, or Memphis; which, according to the Puranas and to Pliny, were built from a motive of ostentation, but, according to Aristotle, were monuments of tyranny: Rucmavatsa was no tyrant to his own people, whom he cherished, says the Mahacalpa, as if they had been his own children; but he might have compelled the native Egyptians to work, for the sake of keeping them employed, and subduing their spirit. It is no wonder, that authors differ as to the founders of those vast buildings; for the people of Egypt, says Herodotus, held their memory in such detestation that they would not even pronounce their names; they told him, however, that they were built by a herdsman, whom he calls Philitius, and who was a leader of the Palis or Bhils mentioned in our first section. The pyramids might have been called mountains of gold, silver, and precious stones in the hyperbolical style of the last; but I rather suppose, that the first was said to be of gold, because it was coated with yellow marble; the second of silver, because it had a coating of white marble; and the third of jewels, because it excelled the others in magnificence, being coated with a beautiful spotted marble of a fine grain; and susceptible of an exquisite polish.89 The Brahmens never understood, that any pyramid in Misra- [p.439] sthala, or Egypt was intended as a repository for the dead; and so such idea is conveyed by the Mahacalpa, where several other pyramids are expressly mentioned as places of worship. There are pyramids now at Benares, but on a small scale with subterranean passages under them, which are said to extend many miles; when the doors, which close them, are opened we perceive only dark holes, which do not seem of great extent, and pilgrims do no longer resort to them, through fear of mephitick air, or of noxious reptiles. The narrow passage, leading to the great pyramid in Egypt, was designed to render the holy apartment less accessible, and to inspire the votaries with more awe: the caves of the oracle at Delphi, of Trophonius, and of New-Grange in Ireland, had narrow passages answering the purpose of those in Egypt and India; nor is it unreasonable to suppose, that the fabulous relations concerning the grot of the Sibyl in Italy, and the purgatory of St. Patrick, were derived from a similar practice and motive, which seem to have prevailed over the whole pagan world, and are often alluded to in Scripture. M. Maillet has endeavoured to show, in a most elaborate work, that the founders of the great pyramid lay entombed in it, and that its entrance was afterwards closed; but it appears, that the builder of it was not buried there; and it was certainly opened in the times of Herodotus and Pliny. On my describing the great Egyptian pyramid to several very learned Brahmens, they declared it at once to have been a temple; and one of them asked if it had not a communication under ground with the river Cali: when I answered, that such a passage was mentioned as having existed and that a well was at this day to be seen, they unanimously agreed, that it was a place appropriated to the worship of Padma-devi, and that the supposed tomb was a trough, which, on certain festivals, her priests used to fill with the sacred water and lotos-flowers. What Pliny says of the Labyrinth is applicable also to the Pyramid: some insisted, that it was the palace of a certain king; some, that [p.440] it had been the tomb of Mœris; and others, that it was built for the purpose of holy rites; a diversity of opinion among the Greeks, which shows how little we can rely on them; and in truth, their pride made them in general very careless and superficial inquirers into the antiquities and literature of other nations.
IV. A singular story, told in the Uttara-charitra, seems connected with the people, whom, from their principal city, we call Romans. It is related, that a sage, named Aiavala resided on the verge of Himadri, and spent his time in cultivating orchards and gardens; his name or title implying a small canal or trench, usually dug round trees, for the purpose of watering them. He had an only son, whose name, in the patronymick form, was Alavali: the young Brahmen was beautiful as Camadeya, but of an amorous and roving disposition; and, having left the house of his father, in company with some youths like himself, he travelled as far as the city of Romaca, which is described as agreeably situated, and almost impregnably strong. The country, in which it stood was inhabited by Mlech'has, or men who speak a barbarous dialect and their king had a lovely daughter, who happening to meet Alavali, found means to discourse with him: the young pair were soon mutually enamoured, and they had frequent interviews in a secret grove or garden; tilt the princess became pregnant, and, her damsels having betrayed her to the king, he gave orders for the immediate execution of Alavali: but she had sufficient power to effect his escape from the kingdom. He returned home; but, his comrades having long deserted him, and informed his. father of his intercourse with the daughter of a Mlechha, the irritated sage refused to admit him into his mansion: he wandered, therefore, from country to country, till he arrived in Barbardi where he suffered extreme pain from the burning sands; and having reached the banks of the [p.441] Crishna, he performed rigorous penance for many years, during which he barely supported life with water and dry leaves. At length Mahadeva appeared to him, assured him that his offence was forgiven, and gave him leave, on his humble request, to fix his abode on the banks of the holy river Cali, restoring him to his lost sacerdotal class, and promising an increase of virtue and divine irradiation. From the character, in which the God revealed himself, he was afterwards named Aghant'sa, or Lord of him, who forsakes sin and the station of Alavali was called Agbabifa-sthan, or Aghah'esam.
Now we find the outline of a similar tale in the ancient Roman history; and one would think that the Hindu writers wished to supply what was deficient in it. The old deities of Rome were chiefly rural, such as the Fauns, the Sylvans, and others who presided over orchards and gardens, like the sage Alavala: the Sanscrit word ala, which is lengthened to alavala, when the trench is carried quite round the tree, seems to be the root of [Greek], a vineyard or an orchard, [Greek] in the same sense, [Greek] gardens, and [Greek], a gardener or husbandman. We read of Vertumna with child by Apollo, the daughter of Faunus by Hercules, and those of Numitor and Tarchetius, by some unknown Gods, or at least in a supernatural manner; which may be the same story differently told: the king of the Mlechhas would, no doubt, have saved the honour of his family by pretending that his daughter had received the caresses of a rural divinity.
The origin of Rome is very uncertain; but it appears to have been at first a place of worship raised by the Peilasgi, under the command of a leader, who, like many others, was named Hercules: by erecting other edifices round it, they made it the capital pf their new western settlements; and it [p.442] became so strong a city, that the Greeks called it Rhome, or power itself: but Romaca, which all the Hindus place very far in the west, was thus denominated according to them from Roma, or wool, because its inhabitants wore mantles of woollen cloth; as the Greek gave the epithet of [Greek] from linen vesture, to the people of Egypt and to those eastern nations, with whom they were acquainted. Pliny says, that the primitive name of Rome was studiously concealed by the Romans; but Augustus informs us that it was Febris: probably that word should be written Phoberis. About two generations before the Trojan war, the Pelasgi began to lose their influence in the west, and Rome gradually dwindled into a place of little or no consequence; but the old temple remained in it; according to the rules of grammatical derivation, it is more probable that Romulus was thus named, because he was found, when an infant, near the site of old Rome, than that new 'Rome' which he rebuilt and restored to power, should have been so called from Romulus. A certain Romanus, believed to be a son of Ulysses, is by some supposed to have built Rome, with as little reason as Romulus; if, indeed, they were not the same personage: Romanus, perhaps, was the King Latinus, whom Hesiod mentions as very powerful, but, whether he was the foreign prince, whose daughter inspired Alavali with Jove, I cannot pretend to decide; however, these inquiries relate to the dwip of Varaba; and the scope of our work leads us back to that of Cusha.
It is reasonable to believe, that Aghahesam was the celebrated and ancient city of Axum, in the vicinity of the little Crishna, or the Astaboras of our old geographers, now called Tatazte; which, according to Mr. Bruce, is the largest river in Abyssinia, next to the Abay or Nile:90 it is also held [p.443] sacred and the natives call it Ternush Ahay, or Little Nile, a very ancient appellation; for Strabo gives the name of Teneusr to the country bordering on that river.91 Hence, perhaps, the ancients mistook this river for the Nile, to which they erroneously applied the name Siris; for the true Siris appears to be the Little Crishna. The Agows who live towards the heads of the Nile and the Tacazze, may have derived their name from Agbaba; and we find the race of Alavali settled as well in the isles of the Red Sea, near the Abyssinian coast, as in the country adjacent to Agbabesam; those isles were called Alieu and Alalece; and, in the districts about the Tacazze, were the Elei or Eleii, surnamed Rhizophagi, who dwelt on the banks of the Assus, and the Astaboras; in which denomination of islands and tribes we may trace the radical word Ala or Alavda.
The smaller Crishna was so denominated, either because its waters were black, or because it had its origin from an achievement of Crishna; and its name Asbimati, was given on an occasion, which has been already mentioned, but which may here be related at large, from the Brahmanda. When Crishna visited Sancha-dwip, and had destroyed the demon, who infested that delightful country, he passed along the bank of a river, and was charmed with a delicious odour, which its waters diffused, in their course: he was eager to view the source of so fragrant a stream, but was informed by the natives, that it flowed from the temples of an elephant, immensely large, milk white, and beautifully formed, that he governed a numerous race of elephants, and that the odoriferous fluid, which exuded from his temples, in the season of love, had formed the river, which, from his name, was called Sanchanaga; that the Devas, or inferior gods, and [p.444] the Apsarases, or nymphs, bathed and sported in its waters; impassioned and intoxicated with the liquid perfume. The Hindu poets frequently allude to the fragrant juice which oozes, at certain seasons, from small tusks in the temples of the male elephant, and is useful in relieving him from the redundant moisture, with which he is then oppressed; and they even describe the bees as assured by the scent and mistaking it for that of the sweetest flowers; but though Arrian mentions this curious fact, no modern naturalist, I believe, has taken notice of it. Crishna was more desirous than before of seeing so wonderful a phenomenon, and formed a design of possessing the elephant himself; but Sanchanaga led against him a vast army of elephants and attacked him with such fury, that the incarnate God spent seven days in subduing the assailants, and seven more in attempting to seize their leader, whom at last he was obliged to kill with a stroke of his Chacra: the head of the huge beast had no sooner fallen on the ground where it lay like a mountain, than a beautiful Yacsha, or Genius, sprang from the body, who prostrated himself before Crishna, informing him, that he was Vijayaverdhana, who had once offended Mahadeva, and been condemned by him to pass through a mortal, form that he was supremely blessed in owing his deliverance to so mighty a God, and would instantly, with his permission, return to his appeased master. The victor assented, and left the field of battle; where, from the bones of the slain elephants rose a lake, thence named Astbitaraga, from which flowed the river Astbimati, whose hallowed waters, adds the author of the Purana, remove sin and worldly affections: asthi, a bone, pronounced osthi in some provinces, is clearly the Greek [Greek], and its derivative astbimat becomes astbiman, in the first case masculine; whence the river is by some old geographers called Astamenos; for the names of rivers, which are feminine for the most part in Sanscrit, are generally masculine in the western languages. [p.445] We find it named also Astaboras and Astihbaras; for Apbivara means the most excellent bone, or ivory; and the Adiabaræ who lived, says Pliny, on its banks, took their name, perhaps, from the river, the word asthi being pronounced ati and adi in some vulgar dialects; as the Sanscrit word basti, an elephant, is corrupted into hati; Mareb, or Sanchanaga, was anciently named Astofabas, or Astufobas possibly from Hastifrava, or flowing from an elephant, in allusion to the legend before related; and one would have thought Hastimati, or Hastiman, a more rational appellation for the Tacazze, since there are in fact many elephants in the country, which it waters. We must beware of confounding Sanchanaga or the Elephant of Sancha-dwip, with Sancha-naga, or the Shell-serpent, of whom we have already given a sufficient account, and concerning whom we have nothing to add, except that the people of the mountains, now called Hubab, have legendary traditions of a snake, who formerly reigned over them, and conquered the kingdom of Sire.
V. Concerning the river Nanda, or the Nile of Abyssinia, we meet with the following tales in the Padmacosha, or Treasure of Lotos-flowers. A king named Apyayana, finding himself declining very low in the vale of years, resigned his throne to Apamvatsa, his son, and repaired with his wife Sarmada to the hermitage of a renowned and holy Brahmen, whose name was Mrica, or Mricu, intending to consult him on the mode of entering into the third Asrama, or order, called vanaprestha: they found only the son of the sage, named Marca, or Marcava, who gave them full instructions, and accompanied them to the hilly parts of the country, where he advised them to reside. When they arrived at their destined retreat, the Devas, pleased with their piety, scattered flowers on them like rain, whence the mountains were called Pusbpavarsha, according [p.446] to the derivation of the Mythologists; but Pushpavarsbam, which is the name of the country round them, may signify no more than the region of flowers: the Gods were not satisfied with a shower of blossoms, and when the first ceremonies were performed at Pushpa-vershasthan, they rained also tears of joy, which being mingled with those of the royal pair and the pious hermit, formed the river Nanda whose waters hastened to join the Cali, and their united streams fell at length into the Sancbabdbi, or sea of Sancha. The goddess, who presided over the Nanda passed near the mansion of a sage, named Santapana, a child of Santapana, or the Sun, who ran with delight to meet her and conducted her near his hermitage, where Divatas and Rishis were assembled to pay her divine honours: they attended her to the place of her, confluence with the great Crishna, near which was afterwards built Santapana-sthan, and there the sage fixed a linga, or emblem of Santapana-siva, to which prostrations must be made, after prescribed ablution in the hallowed waters, by all such as desire a seat in the mansions of Swerga.
The mountains and country of Pushpavarsha seem to be those round the lake Dembea, which immediately after the rains, says Mr. Bruce, look from the blossoms of the Wanzey, as if they were covered with white linen or new fallen snow. Diodorus calls them Pseuaras in the oblique case; and Strabo, Pseixos, the lake itself being also named Pseboa, or Psebu, from the Sanscrit word pushpa. By one of the old Hindu writers, the river Nanda is placed between Barbara and Cusha-dwip; by another in Sanchar-dwip itself; but this is easily reconciled, for, according to the more ancient division of the earth, the interior dwip of Cusha was considered as a part of Sancha-dwip; though in the new division, it is just the reverse; all agree, that the Nanda runs in great part of its course from south to [p.447] north; and hence many Brahmens draw a conclusion which by no means follows that the Cali, which it joins, must flow from west to east. Santapma-sthan, I conceive to have stood at the prayaga or triveni, that is, at the confluence of the smaller Crishna with the united waters of the Nanda and the Cali; and I suppose it to have been the Apollonius appidum of Pliny,92 or the capital of the Adiabaræ, called also Megabari, whom I have already mentioned: for Santapana was an avatar or incarnate form of the Sun, and the country round is asrama, or hermitage, is known to this day by the name of Kuara, which means the Sun, according to Mr. Bruce, and which is no other than the Sanscrit word Cudra, or going round the earth: the Nanda, I presume, or Nile of Abyssinia, was also named the river of Santapana, whence the Greeks first made Astapun in the oblique case, and thence, as usual formed the nominative Astapus. According to the Puranas, the Nanda and the Little Crishna unite, before they fall into the Cali and Ptolemy also supposes that they join near the southern border of Meroe, and then are divided, one branch flowing eastward and another westward, into the main body of the Nile: that inquisitive geographer acknowledges himself indebted for much useful information to many learned Indians, whom he knew at Alexandria, and those Hindus were probably acquainted with the Puranas; but Eratosthenes was better informed than Ptolemy, with respect to the river in question; and the mistake of the Hindu authors may have arisen from a fact, mentioned by Mr. Bruce, that during the rains, the floods divide themselves, part running westward into the Nile, part eastward into the Tacazze. It should not be omitted, that the country of the sage Mricu and his son Marcava, seems to be that of the Macrobu, now inhabited by the Gonguas, Gubas, and Shangallas; the Greeks, according to their custom, having changed Marcaha into [p.448] Macrobios, or long-lived; though that country, says the Abyssinian traveller, is one of the most unhealthy on earth; indeed, if Marca-deva, the son of Mricandu, be the same person with Marcava, he was truly Macrobios, and one of the nine long-lived sages of the Puranas.
VI. The next legend is taken from the Mahacalpa; and we introduce it here as illustrative of that which has been related in the second section, concerning the two Indian Gods of Medicine, to whom some places in Egypt were consecrated.
A most pious and venerable sage, named Rishi'ce'sa, being very far advanced in years, bad resolved to visit, before he died, all the famed places of pilgrimage; and, having performed his resolution, he bathed at last in the sacred water of the Cali where he observed some fishes engaged in amorous play and reflecting on their numerous progeny, which would sport like them in the stream, he lamented the improbability of having any children: but, since he might possibly be a father, even at his great age, he went immediately to the king of that country, Hiranyavbrma, who had fifty daughters, and demanded one of them in marriage. So strange a demand gave the prince great uneasiness; yet he was unwilling to incur the displeasure of a saint, whose imprecations he dreaded: he, therefore, invoked Heri, or Vishnu, to inspire him with a wise answer, and told the hoary philosopher, that he should marry any one of his daughters, who of her own accord should fix on him as her bridegroom. The sage, rather disconcerted, left the palace; but, calling to mind the two sons of Aswini, he hastened to their terrestrial abode, and requested, that they would bestow on him both youth and beauty: they immediately conducted him to Abbimatada which we suppose to be Abydus in Upper Egypt; and, when he had bathed in the pool of Rupayawvanaj [p.449] he was restored to the flower of his age with the graces and charms of Camadeva. On his return to the palace, he entered the secret apartments, called antabpura, where the fifty princesses were assembled; and they were all so transported with the vision of more than human beauty, that they fell into an ecstasy whence the place was afterwards named Maha-sthan, or Mohans, and is possibly, the same with Mohannan: they no sooner had recovered from their trance than each of them exclaimed that she would be his bride; and, their altercation having brought Hiranyaverna into their apartment, he terminated the contest by giving them all in marriage to Rishicesa, who became the father of a hundred sons and when he succeeded to the throne, built the city of Suchaverdabma, framed vimanas, or celestial, self-moving cars, in which he visited the gods, and made gardens abounding in delights, which rivalled the bowers of Indra; but, having gratified the desire, which he formed at Matsyasangama, or the place where fish were assembled, he resigned the kingdom to his eldest son Hiranyavriddha, and returned in his former shape to the banks of the Cali where he closed his days in devotion.
VII. A very communicative Pandit having told me a short story, which belongs to the subject of this section, it seems proper to mention it, though I do not know, from what Purana it is taken. Arunatri, the fifth in descent from Atri before named, was performing religious rites on the Devasica mountains near the site of the modern Cabul, when a hero, whose name was Tulya, desired his spiritual advice; informing him, that he had just completed the conquest of Barbara, subdued the Syamamuc'has, who lived to the east of the river Cali and overcame the Sanchdyanas, but that so great an effusion of blood, for the sake of dominion and fame, had stained his soul with a sinful impurity, which he was desirous of expiating: [p.450] the Sage accordingly prescribed a fit penance, which the conqueror performed in the interior Cusha-dwip. A certain Thoules, or Taules, it mentioned in Egyptian history as a son of Orus, the Shepherd.
VIII. In the first part of this essay, we intimated, an opinion, that Ugra-sthan was a part of Memphis and that Ugra, whom the Hindus make a king of Dwaraca in Gujjara-des or Gujarat was the IJchoreus, or Ogdous, of the Greeks; nor is it impossible, that Vexoris,, who is represented as a great conqueror, was the same person with Uchorius. The story of Ugra, or Ugrasena, we find in a book entitled, Amaredwara-dangraba-tantra, from which the following passage is verbally translated: "Ugrasena, chief of kings, was a bright ornament of the Yadava race; and, having taken Crishna for his associate, he became sovereign of all the Dwipas, the Deyas, the Yschas, and the Racshasas, paid him tribute again and again; having entered Cusha-dwip, and vanquished its princes elate with pride, the monarch raised an image of Iswara on the banks of the river Cali, whence the God was famed by the title of Uqreswara, and the place was called Ugra-sthana."
IX. The following legend from the Uttara-sthana is manifestly considered with the oldest history and mythology in the world. Indra, king of Miru, having slain a Daitya of the sacerdotal class, was obliged to retire from the worlds in order to perform the penance ordained for the crime of Brahmabatya, or the murder of a Brahmen: his dominions were soon in the greatest disorder, and the rebel Daityas oppressed the Devas, who applied for assistance to Nahusha a prince of distinguished virtues, whom they unanimously elected king of their heavenly mansions, with the title of Devahahusha. His first object was to reduce the Daityas and the [p.451] sovereigns of all the dwips who had shaken off their allegiance; for which purpose he raised an immense army, and marched through the interior Cusha-dwip, or Iran and Arabia, through the exterior dwip of Cusha or Ethiopia, through Sancha-dwip or Egypt, through Varaba-dwip or Europe, through Cbandra-dwip, and through the countries now called Siberia and China: when he invaded Egypt he overthrew the combined forces of the Cutili-cesas and Syama-muchas, with so terrible a carnage, that the Cali, (a word which means also 'female devourer') was reported to have swallowed up the natives of Egypt, whose bodies were thrown into her stream. During his travels, he built many places of worship, and gave each of them the title of Dhandbujham: the principal rivers of the countries, through which he passed, were also distinguished by his name; Nahusha being an appellation of the Nile of the Chacshu, or Oxus of the Varaha or Ister and of several others. He returned through India to Meru, but unhappily fell in love with Sachi, or Pulomaja, the consort of Indra, who secretly resolved on perfect fidelity to her lord; and, by the advice of Vrihaspati, regent of the planet Jupiter and preceptor of the Devas promised Nahusha to favour his addresses, if he would visit her in a dala, or palanquin, carried on the shoulders of the holiest Brahmen: he had sufficient influence to procure a set of reverend bearers; but such was the slowness of their motion and so great was his eagerness to see his beloved that he said, with impatience, to the chief of them, Serpe, Serpe, which has precisely the same sense in Sanscrit and in Latin; and the sage, little used to such an imperative, answered, "be thyself a serpent." Such was the power of divine learning; that the imprecation was no sooner pronounced than the king fell on the earth in the shape of that large serpent which is called Ajdgara in Sanscrit and Boa by naturalists: in that state of humiliation he found his way to the Black Mountains and glided in search of [p.452] prey along the banks of the Cali; but, having once attempted to swallow a Brahmen deeply learned in the Vedas he felt a scorching flame in his throat, and was obliged to disgorge the sage alive, by contact with whom, his own intellects, which had been obscured by his fall, became irradiated, and he remembered with penitence his crime and its punishment. He ceased, from that day, to devour human creatures, and having recovered his articulation, together with his understanding, he wandered through the regions adjacent to the Nile in search of some holy Brahmen, who could predict the termination of his deserved misery: with this view he put many artful questions to all, whom he met, and at length received information, that he would be restored to his pristine shape by the sons of Panou. He had no resource, therefore, but patience, and again traversed the world, visiting all the temples and places of pilgrimage, which he had named from himself in his more fortunate expedition: at last he came to the snowy mountains of Himalaya, where he waited with resignation for the arrival of the Pandavas, whose adventures are the subject of Vyasa's great Epic Poem.
This fable of Deva-nahusha, who is always called Deo-naush, in the popular dialects, is clearly the same in part with that of Dionysus, whether it allude to any single personage, or to a whole colony; and we see in it the origin of the Grecian fiction, that of Dionysus was sewed up in the Meros, or thigh, of Jupiter; for Meru, on which Deva-nahusha resided for a time, was the seat of of Indra, or Zeus Ombrios: by the way, we must not confound the celestial Meru with a mountain of the same appellation near Cabul, which the natives, according to the late Mr. Forster, still call Mereoh, and the Hindus, who consider it as a splinter of the heavenly mountain, and suppose, that the gods occasionally descend [p.453] on it, have named Meru-sringa. Names are often so strangely corrupted, that we suspect Peo-naush to be also the Scythian monarch, called Tanaus by Justin,93 and Taunasis by Jornandes, who conquered Asia, travelled into Egypt and gave his name to the river, otherwise called Imartts; we have already mentioned Nous as a Greek name of the Nile, and the Danube or Ister was known also by that of Danusius or Tanais:94 in which points the Puranas coincide with Horus Apollo, Eustathius, and Strabo.
X. The author of the Visva-pracas gives an account of an extraordinary personage, named Darda'nasa, who was lineally descended from the great Jamadagni: his father, Abhayanas, lived on the banks of the river Vitasta where he constantly performed acts of devotion, explained the Vedas to a multitude of pupils, and was chosen by Chitraratha, who though a Vaisya reigned in that country, as his guru, or spiritual guide. Young Dardanasa had free access to the secret apartments of the palace, where the daughter of the king became enamoured of him, and eloped with him through fear of detection, carrying away all the jewels and other wealth that she could collect: the lovers travelled from hill to hill, and from forest to forest, until they reached the banks of the Cali, where their property secured them a happy retreat. Pramoda, a virtuous and learned Brahmen of that country, had a beautiful daughter, named Pramada, whom Darda'na'sa, with the assent of the princess, took by the hand, that is married, according to the rites prescribed in the Vedas and his amiable qualities gained him so many adherents, that he was at length chosen sovereign of the whole region, which he governed with mildness and wisdom His ancestry and posterity are thus arranged:
The river, here named Vitasa, and vulgarly Jelam, is the
Hydaspes of the
Greeks; a nation who lived on its banks, are called Dardaneis, by Dionysius;95
and the Grecian Dardanus was probably the same with Darda'na'saj, who travelled
into Egypt with many associates. We find a race of Trojans in Egypt; a mountain,
called anciently Troicus, and now Tora, fronted Memphis; and at the foot of it
was a place actually named Troja, near the Nile, supposed to have been an old
settlement of Trojans, who had fled from the forces of Menelaus; but
Ctesias who is rather blameable for credulity than for want of veracity, and
most of whose fables are to be found in the Puranas, was of a different opinion;
for he asserted, according to Diodorus of Sicily, that Troja in Egypt was built
by Trojans, who had come from Assyria under the famed Semiramis,96 named Sami'rama by the ancient
Hindu writers; and this account is confirmed by
Herodotus, who says, that a race of Dardanians were settled on the banks of the
river Gyndes, near the Tigris,97 where, I imagine, Dardana'sa and his
associates first established themselves, after their departure from India,98 Eustathius, in his comment on the
Periegesis, distinguishes the Dardaneis from
the Dardanoi, making the first an Indian, and the second a Trojan race;99
it seems probable that both races had a common origin: when Homer gives the
Trojans the title of Meropians, he alludes to their eastern origin from the
borders of Meru; the very name of King Merops being no other than MERUPA, or
sovereign of that mountainous region.
XI. We come now to a person of a different character; not a prince or a hero, but a bard whose life is thus described in the Vis'vasara. On the banks of the Cali dwelt a Brahmen whose name was Le'c'ha'yana's; a sage rigorously devout, skilled in the learning of the Vedas and firmly attached to the worship of Heri; but, having no male issue he was long disconsolate and made certain oblations to the God, which proved acceptable; so that his wife Sancriti became pregnant after she had tasted part of the charu, or cake of rice which had been offered: in due time, she was delivered of a beautiful boy, whom the Brahmens convened at the jatacarma, or ceremony on his birth unanimously agreed to name Heridatta, or given by the divinity. When the sanscara, or institution of a Brahmen was completed, by his investiture with the sacerdotal string, and the term of his studentship in the Veda was past, his parents urged him to enter into the second order, or that of a married man; but he ran into the woods, and passed immediately into the fourth order, disclaiming all worldly connections, and wholly devoting himself to Vishnu. He continually practiced the samadhiyoga, or union with the deity by contemplation; fixing [p.456] his mind so intensely on God, that his vital soul seemed concentrated in the Brahmarandbra, or pineal gland, while his animal faculties were suspended, but his body still uncorrupted, till the reflux of line spirits put them again in motion: a state, in which the Hindu yogis assert, that some yogis have remained for years, and the fanciful gradations of which are minutely described in the Yoga-sastras, and even delineated in the figures called Shalchacra, under the emblems of lotos flowers, with different numbers of petals, according to the supposed stations of the soul, in her mystical ascent. From this habit of merging all his vital Spirits in the idea of the Supreme Being, Heridatta was named Linasu; a name which the people repeated .with enthusiasm; and he became the guru or spiritual director, of the whole nation: he then rambled over the earth, singing and dancing, like a man in a phrensy; but he sang no hymns, except those which himself had composed; and hence it came that all older hymns were neglected, while those of Lina'su alone were committed to memory from his lips, and acquired universal celebrity. Other particulars of his life are mentioned in the Puranas, where fragments of his poetry are, most probably cited: I have no doubt, that he was the same person with the Linus of the Greeks; and, if his hymns can be recovered, they will be curious at least, if not instructive. Lina'su was the eighth in decent from the sage Bharadwa'ja, whom some call the son of Vrihaspati, or the regent of Jupiter: he is said to have married at an advanced age by the special command of Heri and five of his descendants are named in the following pedigree:
|Carishayanas||Linasu, or Linayanas,|
XII. The tale of Lubdhaca relates both to the morals and
astronomy of the Hindus, and is constantly recited by the Brahmens on the night of Siva, which
falls on the fourteenth of Magha or of Phalgun, according as the month begins
from the opposition or the conjunction.
Lubdhaca was descended from the race of Palli, and governed all the tribes of Ciratas: he was violent and cruel, addicted passionately to the pleasures of the chase, killing innocent beasts without pity, and eating their flesh without remorse. On the fourteenth lunar day of the dark half of Phalgun he had found no game in the forest; and at sun-set, faint with hunger he roved along the banks of the Crishna, still earnestly looking for some animal whom he might shoot: at the beginning of night he ascended a Bilva-tree, which is consecrated to Mahadeva, whose emblem had been fixed under it, near a spring of water; and, with a hope of discerning some beast through the branches, he tore off the leaves, which dropped on the linga, sprinkling it with dew; so that he performed sacred rites to the God, without intending any act of religion. In the first watch of the night a large male antelope came to the spring; and Lubdhaca, hearing the sound which he made in drinking, fixed his bow and took aim at the place whence the noise proceeded; when the animal, being endued by Siva with speech and intellect, told him that he had made an assignation with a beloved female, and requested him to wait with patience till the next day, on which he promised to return, the mighty hunter was [p.458] softened and, though nearly famished, permitted the antelope to depart having first exacted an oath, that he would perform his engagement. A female antelope, one of his consorts, came in the second watch to drink at the spring; who was in like manner allowed to escape, on her solemn promise, that she would return when she had committed her helpless young to the care of a sister and thus, in the third and fourth watches, two other females were released for a time, on pretences nearly similar, and on similar promises. So many acts of tender benevolence, in so trying a situation, and the rites to Mahadeva, which accompanied them from watch to watch, though with a different intention, were pleasing to the God, who enlightened the mind of Lubdhaca, and raised in him serious thoughts on the cruelty of slaying the innocent for the gratification of his appetite: at early dawn he returned to his mansion, and, having told his family the adventure of the night, asked whether, if he should kill the antelope, they would participate his guilt, but they disclaimed any share in it, and insisted, that, although it was his duty to provide them with sustenance, the punishment of sin must fall on him solely. The faithful and amiable beast at that moment approached him, with his three consorts and all his little ones, desiring to be the first victim; but Lubdhaca exclaimed, that he would never hurt his friend and his guide to the path of happiness, applauded them for their strict observance of their promises, and bade them return to the woods, into which he intimated a design of following them as a hermit: his words were no sooner uttered, than a celestial car descended with a messenger from Siva, by whose order the royal convert and the whole family of antelopes were soon wafted, with radiant and incorruptible bodies, to the starry regions, fanned by heavenly nymphs, as they rose, and shaded by genii, who held umbrellas while a chorus of etherial songsters chanted the praises of tenderness to living creatures, and [p.459] a rigorous adherence to truth. Lubdhaca was appointed regent of Sirius, which is called the yoge star; his body is chiefly in our Greater Dog, and his arrow seems to extend from β in that asterism to x in the knee of Orion, the three stars in whose neck are the lunar mansion Mrigasiras, or the head of the male antelope who is represented looking round at the archer; the three stars in the belt are the females, and those in the sword, their young progeny; Mahadeva, that he might be near his favourites, placed himself, it is said, in the next lunar mansion A'rara, his head being the bright star in the shoulder of Orion, and his body including those in the arm, with several smaller stars in the galaxy. The son of Lubdhaca succeeded him on earth, and his lineal descendants yet reign, says the author of the Purana on the delightful banks of the Crishna.
This legend proves very material fact, that the Pallis and Ciritas were originally the same people, it seems to indicate a reformation in some of the religious tenets and habits of the nations, bordering on the Crishna, and the whole appears connected with the famous Egyptian period regulated by the heliacal rising of Sirius: the river here mentioned I suppose to be the smaller Crishna, or the Siris of the ancients so named, as well as the province of Sire from the word Seir, which means a dog, says Mr. Bruce, in the language of that country. The constellations of Orion and the two Dogs point at a similar story differently told; but the name of Lubdhaca seems changed by the Greeks into Labdacus; for since, like the ancient Indians, they applied to their new settlements, the history and fables of their primitive country, they represent Labdacus as the grandson of Cadmus, the son of Polydorus, (for so they were pleased to disguise the name) and the father of Laius: now Cadmus, as we have shown, as Cardameswara, or Mahadeva, and Polydorus, or Polydotus, [p.460] was Pallidatta, the gift of the national God Palli or Nairrit. As to Labdacus, he died in the flower of his age, or disappeared, say the Hindus, and was translated into heaven; but, during his minority, the reins of government were held by Lycus,, son of Nycteus, or Nactun-chara: he was succeeded by Laius which, like Pali means a herdsman, or shepherd, for [Greek], and [Greek] signify herds and flocks; and thus we find a certain Laxus who had a son Buccolion, and a grandson Phialus, both which names have a reference to pasture, for the shepherds were called by the Greeks [Greek] and Agelaia, was synonymous with Pallas. The son of Laius was Oedipus, with whose dreadful misfortune, as we intimated in the first section, the Hindus are not unacquainted, though they mention his undesigned incest in a different manner, and say, that Yogabrashta, whom they describe as a flagitious woman, entered into the service of some cowherds, after the miserable death of her son Mahasura, or the Great Hero, by Linasu, the son of Lubdhaca, who was descended from Palli: the whole story seems to have been Egyptian though transferred by the Greeks to Thebes in their own country.
XIII. The last piece of history, mixed with an astrological fable, which I think it useful to add, because it relates to Barbara, is the legend of Dasa-rat'ha, or the monarch, whose car had borne him to ten regions, or to the eight points, the zenith, and the nadir: it is told both in the Bhawishya Purana and the Brahmanda. He was descended from Surya, or Heli, which is a name of the Sun in Greek [Greek] in Sanscrit: one of his ancestors, the great Raghu had conquered the seven dwipas, or the whole earth, and Vishnu became incarnate in the person of his son Ramachandra. It happened in the reign of Dasaratha, that Sani, having just left the lunar mansion, Critica, or the, Pleiads was entering the Hyads, which the Hindus call [p.461] Robini, and that passage of Saturn is distinguished by the appellation of Sacasa-bheda, or the section of the wain; an universal drought having reduced the country to the deepest distress and a total depopulation of it being apprehended, the king summoned all his astrologers and philosophers, who ascribed it solely to the unfortunate passage of the malignant planet; and Vasishtha added, that, unless the monarch himself would attack Sani, as he strongly advised, neither Indra nor Brahma himself could prevent the continuance of the drought for twelve years. Dasaratha that instant ascended his miraculous car of pure gold, and placed himself at the entrance of Robini, blazing like his progenitor the Sun, and drawing his bow, armed with the tremendous arrow Sanbarastra which attracts all things with irrefutable violence: Sani, the slow moving child of Surya, dressed in a blue robe crowned with a diadem, having four arms, holding a bow, a spiked weapon and a cimeter (thus he is described in one verse) discerned his formidable opponent from the last degree of Critica, and rapidly descended into the land of Barbara, which burst into a flame, while he concealed himself far under ground. The hero followed him; and his legions, marching to his assistance perished in the burning sands; but Sani was attracted by the magnetick power of the Sanharastra, and, after a vehement conflict, was overpowered by Dasaratha, who compelled him to promise, that he never more would attempt to pass through the wain of Robini: the victor then returned to his palace, and the regent of the planet went to Sam-sthan in Barbara, while the ground, on which he had fought, assumed a red hue. The Hindu astrologers say, that Sani has hitherto performed his promise, but that, in four or five years, he will approach so nearly to Robini, that great mischief may be feared from so noxious a planet; who has nothing in this age to apprehend from a hero in a self-moving car with an irresistible weapon: they add, that Mancala, or Mars, the child of Prithivi, has also been prevented from [p.462] traversing the waggon of Robini, but that Vrihaspati, Sucra, and Budha, or Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury, pass it freely and innocently, while it is the constant path of Soma, or the Moon, of whom the beautiful Robini, or Aldeberan is the favourite consort.
The history of Dasarath being immediately connected with that of Ramachandra, and consequently of the first colonies, who settled in India, it may properly conclude this third section, which has been confined to the demigods and sages, who distinguished themselves in the countries bordering on the Nile of Ethiopia; and, whatever may be thought of some etymological conjectures which I have generally confirmed by facts and circumstances; it has been proved, I trust, by positive evidence, that the ancient Indians were acquainted with those countries, with the course of that celebrated river, and with Misra, or Egypt.
1 Hor. Apollo b. 10.
2 Bryant, Anc. Mythol. 334, pl. 6.
3 III Bruce 719.
4 Plin. L 5. c 9.
5 2 Herod, c. 28.
6 Plin. 1. 5. c. 9.
7 Step. Byzant. on the word Rasta.
8 See Bryant 150.
9 Muller p. 106.
10 Lib. 6. Cap. 23.
11 Lib. 6. cap. 70.
12 Chap. 50, v. 26.
13 Plin. lib. 4. cap. 12. Curetis was named according to Anaximandes, from the Curttes under their king Philistines.
14 Herod. B. 2. 148.
15 Diod. Sic. B. 1.
16 On Dionys.
17 Strabo B. 17. 1. 82 3.
18 Diod. Sic. B. 4. C.
19 Univ. Hist., vol.. 16. p. 222.
20 Chron. Pasch. p. 36.
21 Plin. 1. 6. c. 30. 1. 5. c. I. 1. 2; c. 106. Agathem. B. 2. ch. 9.
22 Plin. lib. 6. cap, 29.
23 Chap. 19. V. 6. See 1 Kings, 15. 24,
24 Eruvin, p. 18.
25 Lib. 5. Cap. 70.
26 Strabo, B. ii. p. 82.
27 Diony. B. 17. p. 396.
28 Dionys. B. 17, ver. 385-397.
29 Herod. Polyhymn.
30 Diod. Sic. B. 1.
31 Dionys. B. 54. v. 241.
32 Lact, Divin. Instit. L. i. C. 2.
33 Strab. B. 9. 420.
34 Orph, Argon, v, 66. Apoll, Rhod, B, 2. v, i 190.
35 Plut. on Isis and Osiris.
36 Gemara Sanhedrin, C. 30. cited by Reland.
37 Agathem. B. 1. C. i.
38 Pind. Pyth. 6. Eurip, Ion, v. 233.
39 B. 7. C. 17.
40 B. 17. p. 828.
41 Plut. on Isis and Osir.
42 Ammian. Marcellin.
43 Plut. on Rivers, art. Scmwumiler.
44 Steph. Byzan. Tremile.
45 See the word Xanthus.
46 Lib. 2. Cap. 25, &c.
47 B. 2; C. 30.
48 B. 6. C. 13.
49 Lett. Edif, vol. 5. p, 257.
50 Tab. Peutinger. Plin. Steph. Byzantium.
51 Herod. B. 2. C. 42.
52 Pausan. B. 7, c. 23.
53 Pausan. B, 8. c. 25.
54 Strabo, B. 9. p. 434, 438.
55 De Nat. Deor.
56 Ch.3. V. 8.
57 Ch. 9. V. 6.
58 Diod. Sic. b. 2. c. 1.
59 On Rivers, art. Nile.
60 Bruce's Travels, vol. I. 398.
61 B. 1. c. 13.
62 B. 14, C. 28.
63 Diod. Sic, B, 1. 4.
64 See Alphab. Tibet, p. 145.
65 p. 40 cited by Mr. Bryant.
66 Herod. B. 2.
67 Strabo. B. 17.
68 Lib. 6. Cap, 9,
69 Steph. Byzant. under Ake.
70 Cited by Euseb.
71 Lib. 6. C, 6.
72 Herod. V. 54. Æl. XIII. 18. Diod. III. 69. Strab. XV. p. 725. XVII. p. 813.
73 Dionysiac, B. 21, c, 247, &c, 259, &c.
74 Plut. Isis and Osiris.
75 B. 1. C. 156.
76 On Animals, B. 10. C. 2.
77 Alphab. Tibet. p. 465.
78 Under the word [Greek].
79 Ælian on Animals, Bk. II. C. 17.
80 Dionysiac. B. 8. v. 193.
81 Plin. L. 36. C. 8.
82 Plin. L. 36. C. 13.
83 Strabo B. 17. p. 811. Damascius, Life of Isidorus.
84 Strabo, B. 17. p. 811. Diod. Sic B. 1. p. 5.
85 Pausan. Arcad.
86 B. 17. p. 738.
87 B. 2.
88 L. 5. C. 13, and 31. See also Josephus, Strabo, Mela.
89 Savary, V. I. p. 246.
90 Vol. 3, p. 157, 612.
91 B. 16. p. 770.
92 Lib. 6. Cap. 30.
93 Lib. I. Cap. 2 and Lib. 2. Cap. 56.
94 Eusiath. on Dion. Perieg. v, 298.
95 Perieg. v.ii. 38,
96 B. 2..
97 B. I . C. 189.
98 Iliad. Y. v. 215.
99 Eustath. on Dionys. v. 11. 38.