Chapter V

The four kinds of Stone lingas—Siva under a form called Muhakalu—Temporary images of Siva—Siva's wives—Siva's and Parvati's quarrels—Siva and Doorga—Siva's names—The heaven of Siva—Latsami—-Power of the priests—Tamil poetry—Indecent worship—Dancing girls at religious ceremonies—Christian and Pagan idolatry—Religious prostitution—Worship of the female—Development of indecent practices—Saktipuja.

Mr. Ward informs us that besides the clay images of the linga, there are four kinds of stone lingas which are set up in the Hindu temples. “The first,” he says, “is called swuyumbhoo, that is, the self-existent linga. The second is named unadee, or that which has no beginning. (At the time of a great drought, the Hindoos, after performing its worship, throw very large quantities of water upon this unadee-linga, in order to induce Siva to give them rain). The third they call vanu-linga, because a king named Vanu first instituted this worship. The fourth is the common, or factitious linga. These images are all of stone, brought from the neighbourhood of the river Gundhukee, which falls into the Ganges near Patna.

The Hindoos of every caste and of both sexes, make images of the linga with the clay of the river Ganges, every morning, after bathing, and worship it, making bows, presenting offerings, and repeating incantations before it. This is most frequently done by the side of the river.

Besides the linga, there is another form in which Siva is worshipped, called Muhakalu. This is the image of a smoke-coloured boy, with three eyes, his hair standing erect, clothed in red garments, his teeth very large; he wears a necklace of human skulls, and a large juta; in one hand he has a stick, and in another the foot of a bedstead; a half moon appears on his forehead; he has a large belly; and presents a very terrific appearance. Siva is called Muhakalu, because he destroys all, or all is absorbed in him at the time of a kalpu, and afterwards reproduced.

Images of this form of Siva were not made in Bengal, but a pan of water, or an unadee-linga, was substituted, before which bloody sacrifices were offered, and other ceremonies performed, in the month Kartiku, at the new moon. {60}

In the month Phalgoonu, every year, the Hindoos made the image of Siva, and worshipped him for one day, throwing the image the next day into the water. This worship was performed in the night, and was accompanied with singing, dancing, music, feasting, &c. The image worshipped was either that of Siva with five faces or that with one face.

In the month Maghu a festival in honour of Siva is held for one day, when the image of this god, sitting on a bull, with Parvutee his bride on his knee, is worshipped in the principal towns in Bengal.

Siva had two wives, Sutee and Parvutee. Sutee was the daughter of king Dukshu, and Parvutee the daughter of the mountain Himaluyu.

The fourth chapter of the Shreebhaguvutu, contains the history of Dukshu, the son of Brahma; of his daughter Sutee, who was married to the god Siva; of the abuse of Siva by Dukshu; of Siva's cursing Dukshu; of the grand sacrifice of Dukshu; the gods all arrive at this sacrifice; the daughters of Dukshu are also present; Sutee wishes to go, but is forbidden of Siva her husband; Siva, however, at last consents to her going; she goes, and while her father is abusing her husband, she dies of grief; Siva on hearing of the death of his wife, was transported with rage, and taking his juta from his head, threw it on the ground with great force, and up sprang a monster, in the form of a sunyasee, covered with ashes, having three flaming eyes, with a trishoolu in his hand, wearing a tiger's skin, and a necklace of human bones; and having a round red mark like a ball betwixt his eyebrows; this monster asked Siva why he created him; Siva ordered him to go and destroy Dukshu; this monster then took along with him armies of pratus, bhootus, yukshus, pishacus, etc. (wandering spirits), and destroyed Dukshu's sacrifice; Siva's great sorrow at the loss of Sutee; the gods come to comfort him; Sutee is again born; her father's name Heemaluyu, her mother's Manuku; Dukshu, after repairing the injuries which Siva's juta-formed monster had made, completes his sacrifice, etc.

A number of stories are contained in some of the Hindoo books respecting the quarrels of Siva and Parvutu, some of them arising out of the revels of the former, and the jealousy of the latter. These quarrels resemble those of Jupiter and Juno. The chief fault of Juno is said to have been jealousy. When Siva and Parvatu quarrelled, she frequently upbraided him with his filthy condition as a yogee. When they were about to be married, the {61} mother of the girl, and the neighbours poured the utmost abuse on Siva: the neighbours cried out, “Ah! ah! ah! this image of gold, this most beautiful damsel, like whom there is hardly such a beauty in the three worlds, to be given in marriage to such a fellow—an old fellow with three eyes; without teeth; clothed in a tiger's skin; covered with ashes; encircled with snakes; with a necklace of human bones; with a human skull in his hand; with a filthy juta, viz., a bunch of hair like a turban, twisted round his head; who chews intoxicating drugs; has inflamed eyes; rides naked on a bull, and wanders about like a madman. Ah! they have thrown this beautiful daughter into the river!” In this manner the neighbours exclaimed against the marriage, till at last, Narudu, who had excited this hubbub, settled the matter, and the wedding was consummated.

On a certain occasion Siva ordered his servants Nundee and Bhringee to prepare his bull that he might go a-begging; he himself bound the rag round his loins, twisted snakes as ornaments round his wrists, made a poita of three other snakes; put a tiger's skin on his back, a drum and a trident in his right hand, and in his left a horn; his body was covered with ashes. Thus arrayed he mounted his bull, Nundee going before and Bhringee behind, and went into different places begging from door to door. Where-ever he went, he saw the people happy and contented, enjoying all the pleasures of life. At the sight of all this happiness, Siva was full of grief, and said in his mind, “All these people are surrounded with their friends and children, and are happy; but after marrying, I have obtained nothing. I beg for my daily bread.” Having collected a little rice, etc., Siva returned home, full of vexation. Doorga, his wife, gave him water to wash his feet, and Siva ordered her to prepare an intoxicating beverage called siddhee, and asked her whether she had prepared his food? She told him that she had not yet kindled the fire. “What!” said Siva, “it is now two o'clock in the afternoon, and you have not begun to prepare the dinner?” Filled with anger, he began to use the most violent language: “How is this? I have married a wife destitute of fortunate signs, and I spend my life in misery. I see other families have bathed and sit down to dinner by noon. I beg three times a day, and yet I cannot obtain sufficient to support nature. It has always been said in the three worlds, that he who obtains a lucky wife, will through her become rich; through a lucky husband, sons are born. See now (addressing himself to {62} those present), I have two sons; but where are the riches which a fortunate wife procures? I suppose that in marrying the wife of Himaluyu (a mountain) every one is become hard as the rock towards me. In constantly begging I have obtained the name of Shunkuru, the beggar. A person marrying a lucky wife sits at his ease in his house, and eats excellent food, and I go a-begging, and yet starve. Narudu has given me such an unlucky wife, what shall I say to him, a fellow without ancestry? He is not content unless he insult the dead. I can no longer support my family by begging. I can support myself, but how can I provide for so many?”

Doorga, hearing all this, was full of sorrow, and began to utter her grief to her two maids Juya and Vijuya: “Hear! without thought, why does he abuse me in this manner? If he call me an unlucky wife, why did he marry me? When a person's fate is bad, they say his forehead is on fire. Why does he call me unlucky? Is not his own forehead on fire, and are we not suffering through his bad fate? True, I have neither a beautiful form, nor excellent qualities, nor conduct, nor honour, nor wisdom, nor learning, nor property, nor race, nor brother, nor friend, nor father, nor mother, nor relations, nor ornaments; but, look at his form; he covers himself with the ashes of the dead; at his qualities; he is known as the smoker of intoxicating herbs (the drunkard); at his conduct; he resides in cemeteries, and dwells with the bhootus;—at his wisdom: amidst the assembled guests at his wedding he sat naked; rides on a bull, and is hooted at by the children in the streets as a fool;—at his learning; he does not know the names of his father and mother; at his property, he owns a bull, a drum, and a tiger's skin;—at his ornaments: he is covered with snakes;—at his honour: at the time of marriage he was not able to obtain anything richer than a tiger's skin for a garment, though he begged for something better. It is true he has had two sons born, and on this account, I suppose, he is filled with pride. But such sons, in the three worlds, were never born before, and I hope will never be born again. Behold his eldest son Kartiku, he drinks intoxicating beverage like his father; he is full of rage if his food be delayed but a moment; what his father begs, he, with his six mouths, devours; the peacock that carries him devours the snakes with which his father clothes himself; his other son Gunashu has four arms, an elephant's head, and eats like an elephant; he is carried by a rat, which steals and eats the unshelled rice brought by Siva. Thus the children and the father {63} are equally forsaken of fortune. The companions of Siva are either ghosts or bhootus.”

As soon as Siva had mounted his bull to go a-begging, Doorga said to Juya and Vijuya, “I will stay no longer here. He tells me to keep my hair clothed with dirt, and to cover my body with ashes. I will go to my father's house, come along.” The maids endeavoured to pacify her, and to shew her the danger of leaving her husband. After a number of expostulations, she was persuaded to assume the form of Unnu-poorna, by which means the wealth of the whole world flowed into her lap. She gave a splendid entertainment on mount Koilasu to all the gods, at the close of which Siva arrived from a begging journey. Struck with astonishment at what he saw, he was wonderfully pleased, and ate for once till he was nearly surfeited. When he and Doorga were sitting together on the evening of this feast, he apologised to his wife for the unkind language he had used towards her, to prevent which in future, he proposed that they should be united in one body. Doorga at first strongly objected, but was at length persuaded to consent, and Siva and Doorga became one, the right side (white) being Siva, and the left side (yellow) Doorga. In this form an image is annually worshipped in Bengal.

Other stories are told of Siva's descending to earth in the form of a sunyasee, for the preservation of some one in distress, or to perform religious austerities.

Amongst the fanciful names (a thousand in number) belonging to this god, are the following:—Siva, the benefactor—Muhashwuru, the great god—Ceshwuru, the glorious god—Chundrushakuru, he on whose forehead is seen a half-moon—-Bhootashu, he who is lord of the bhootus—Miriru, he who purifies—Mirityoonjuyu, he who conquers death—Krittivasa, he who wears a skin—Oogru, the furious—Shree-kuntu, he whose throat is beautiful—Kupalubhrit, he whose alms dish is a skull—Smuruhuru, the destroyer of Kama-davu, the god of love—Tripoorantuku, he who destroyed an usooru named Tripooru—Gungadhuru, he who caught the goddess Gunga in his bunch of hair—Vrishudhwujn, or he who rides on a bull—Shoolee, he who wields the Trident—St'hanoo, the everlasting—Survu, he who is everything—Gireeshu, lord of the hills—Undhuku-ripoo, he who destroyed an usooru named Undhuku—Sunkurshunu, he who destroys the world—Trilochunu, the three-eyed—Ruktupu, the drinker of blood—Siddhusavitu, the drinker of an intoxicating beverage called Siddhe. {64}

The work called Krityu-tuttwu describes the heaven of this god as situated on the mountain Koilasu, and called Shivu-pooru. It is said to be ornamented with many kinds of gems and precious things, as pearls, coral, gold, silver. On the mountain reside gods, the heavenly choristers, dancers and courtezans, gods who act as servants to the other gods, sacred sages, divine sages, great sages, and a number of moonees. These persons constantly perform the worship of Siva and Doorga, and the upsurus are continually employed in singing, dancing, etc. The flowers of every season are always in bloom here, the winds shvityu, sangundu, and mandyu—gentle winds accompanied with coolness and sweetness—always blow on these flowers, and diffuse their fragrance all over the mountain wherein many birds are constantly singing and repeating the names of Doorga and Siva, where the waters of the heavenly Ganges pass along in purling streams, where the six seasons—the spring, the summer, the rainy, the sultry, the dewy, the cold—at once exist, and where on a golden throne, adorned with jewels, sit Siva and Doorga, holding conversation, in which Doorga asks questions of her husband.

When the mountain Mervuva was whirled about in the sea, the motion produced a foam which was like the cradle of a beautiful woman named Latsami. This second Venus was bestowed on Vishnvu, preferably to the Devetas, who were all in love with her. The Seivias, who assert that Eswara is the sovereign God, say also, that he has a wife called Parvati. They tell us that she had a double birth; first she was daughter to Datsja, son of Brahma, and of Sarasvati his wife. Her father gave her in marriage to Eswara, and some time after intended to perform a Jagam or sacrifice, to which he invited the Devetas, such as Deuendre, the Sun, the Moon, and the rest, but neglected Eswara, his son-in-law. Parvati told him he should also have invited him, but he, instead of agreeing with her, made her the following injurious answer:—Eswara, says Datsja, is not worthy of that honour, he is a fellow that subsists only on alms, and has no clothes to put on. We are to suppose that Eswara was at that time incog., and veiled under such a shape as made him unknown to all. Parvati inflamed with rage, cried out to her father, I myself am therefore not worthy to assist at it; and saying these words, she leaped into the fire that was prepared for this solemnity. Eswara, exasperated in the highest degree at this unhappy accident, was all over in a sweat, and one of the drops of it happening to fall on the earth, Virrepadra sprung from it, who immediately asked his father what {65} commands he had for him. Eswara bid him go and destroy the Jagam of Datsja, and was obeyed; for he killed some of the guests, drove away others, cut off Datsja's head, kicked the sun, and broke all his teeth, so that he had not one left, and drubbed the moon so heartily, that her face was covered all over with the marks of the blows he gave her, which continue to this day. The Devetas implored Eswara's mercy, and obtained it; he was softened by their entreaties, and restored Datsja to life, on whose body he fixed the head of a he-goat instead of his own. Parvati being consumed in the fire into which she had thrown herself, was indulged a new birth, and was daughter of the mountain Chimawontam, who married her to Eswara. Her husband was so passionately in love with her, that he gave her half his body, so that she became half man and half woman; for which reason the Brahmins call her Andhanari-Eswara, a name implying such an union.

These people are of opinion, that both Vishnu and Eswara can procreate children without the commerce of the other sex, since they ascribe to them a power of getting them by the bare act of the will, so that they suppose they only have them for dalliance sake. Eswara is represented in the temples under a very immodest shape, expressing by an action, the union of both sexes. This is grounded on a tradition which the Brahmins themselves are partly ashamed of, and is as follows: It fell out one day that a Moniswara came to visit Eswara in a place where the latter used to caress Parvati. The Moniswara came at a very unseasonable hour; in vain the porter shut the gate upon him, and even told him the reason why he could not be admitted; for the Moniswara was so enraged to find he must be forced to stay till Eswara should please to shew himself, that he broke out into an imprecation, which he immediately repented of. Eswara had overheard him, but pardoned him when he found he was sorry for it. The Moniswara, not satisfied with being pardoned for his offence, requested that all who should worship the image of Lingam—the figure representing the union of the sexes in the manner above mentioned, should reap greater advantages from it than if they were to worship Eswara when represented with his whole body. He obtained his desire, and it is to this circumstance that those scandalous images under which Eswara is worshipped in the Pagods, owe their original.1)

Mahadeu signifies the sovereign God. He is represented under {66} the shape of a pillar which diminishes insensibly from its base to its extremity at top. It is evident that this figure is the same as the Priapus of other nations; and that the modern Indians, as well as those of antiquity, have equally considered it as the God of Nature. Pictures which have reached us from India exhibiting the interiors of the Pagods of Mahadeu reveal beyond all doubt the nature of this pillar; it cannot be mistaken for any else than what we have just suggested, viz., the male organ of generation. It is of gigantic size, rising many feet from the floor, and the most profound veneration is rendered to it by the worshippers who completely uncover their feet before passing the threshold.

Ixora (Mahadeu) bears also the name of Lingam. The Jogins wear the Lingam about their necks; but it would be impossible for fancy, says Picard, to invent anything more obscene, than the posture in which they represent this double figure, to whom they assiduously offer the first fruits of their meals. We ascribe to the notion the Indians entertain that everything is formed by generation, the blind devotion they pay to this Lingam, in which they confound the agent with the means he employs. It will be impossible to justify them in any manner on this head, but by considering it as a type or symbol, which still cannot but be shocking to decency and good manners; some, however, cannot help thinking that those who first invented these figures, were naturally inclined to satiate by lust, what they exhibited for the emblem of a Deity.

“It cannot be denied, but that the worship which is paid to nature, may have migrated from the east into the west, together with the symbolical figures under which they represented it; we are therefore not to wonder, that the same idea should have discovered itself under different names, to people who live at a great distance one from the other; since, as they both received the object of their worship from the same source, they were under a necessity of receiving the same images with the same ceremonies. To do these people justice, nothing can better express the fruitfulness of nature than the union of both sexes, and the vigour of Priapus, whose name is very expressive; however, it is surprising that men, who, if we except some of the most brutal savages, have always paid some regard to decency, should be so lost to all sense of it, as to carry in procession with great pomp and solemnity, those parts of the body, which ought never to be revealed but in cases of the highest necessity; and expose them publicly in the roads, in houses and temples, as is the custom in India.”2) {67}

Pietro Dello Valle, observes, that the gods of the Indians are always represented naked, and that several figures in very indecent postures are seen in the pagods; undoubtedly he saw the Lingam above-mentioned there. The other figures might possibly represent the vows or homages of the devout Indians, among whom the women do not scruple to prostitute themselves in honour of the gods. Husbands behold with the most profound humility these meritorious prostitutions, which so often revive what we in Europe look upon as the greatest injury and affront; so true it is, that false principles in religion easily destroy those of common decency, and even frequently change the very ideas which nature has implanted in us. As a husband is fully persuaded he has been cuckolded by a god, he is therefore very well satisfied. The Jognis is the idol's curate, and performs the ceremony in quality of his proxy, while the devoutly patient husband, in the meantime, washes the saint's feet, and pays him the utmost veneration. The people of the house withdraw, and leave the lady to the saint's embraces. When this institution was made, the crafty Indians undoubtedly insinuated some hopes of future felicity at the same time. When we have once found out the secret of gaining an ascendant over people's minds, can it be a difficult matter to assure the female devotees, that,

Si quelque chose les empêche
D'aller tout droit en paradis,
C'est d'epargner pour leurs maris,
Un bien dont ils n'ont plus que faire,
Quand ils ont pris leur necessaire.

            La Fontaine dans ses Contes.

The sense of which is,

If anything prevents their being immediately wafted to Paradise, 'tis to reserve for their husbands a pleasure which they have no farther occasion for, when they have had their quantum of it.

We mention an instance which manifestly shews, that the Indians look upon the obscene devotions just alluded to, as highly meritorious. Over the gate of one of the cities of the little kingdom of Sirinpatau, says Dellon in the preface to his Voyages, printed in 1709, stands a stone statue representing Sita, wife to Ram, one of their gods, about as big as the life. On each side of her are three famous Faquirs, or Penitents, naked, on their knees, their eyes lifted up towards her, and holding with both hands what decency will not permit me to mention. They pretend by {68} this posture, to pay such an homage, at they judge to be most grateful to this pretended goddess.3)

Mr. R. C. Caldwell, writing in Johnson's Universal Cyclopædia, says:—”Of old, pious Hindus who spiritualised their religion, even the grossest forms of it, linga-worship included, were not, lacking. For instance, the great Tamilian poet, Sivavakkiar, writes as follows (see the Indian Antiquary, Bombay, Apr., 1872, first paper on Tamil Popular Poetry):

“My thoughts are flowers and ashes,
      In my breast's fane enshrined,
My breath, too, is therein it,
      A linga unconfined:
My senses, too, like incense
      Rise, and like bright lamps shine,
There, too, my soul leaps ever
      A dancing god divine.”

This, is my opinion, is one of the finest stanzas penned by Sivavakkiar. The drift of it is this:—You popular Hindus, you have your temples,—you have your flowers, and sacred ashes,—you have your phallus, or emblem of divine creative power,—you have also your incense and lamps, and you have your divine dancer, Siva. I, too, have my flowers and ashes, but they are of the mind! I, too, have my linga, but it is my breath or spirit. I, too, have my incense and lamps, but they are my five senses. And I, too, have my deity leaping in divine sport within me, but that is my soul. In a word, mine is the true spiritual worship.

“Here the sage speaks of his body as a metaphorical temple (using language similar to that employed in the New Testament, 'Ye are the temples of the Holy Ghost'); then he likens his thoughts to flowers and ashes, which are used in the services of temples; lastly, he declares that his breath or spirit—which as a part of universal life has no bound or limit—is the true linga, creative, and a part of the creation, of his own being.”

The serious consequences of adopting erroneous principles, even such as are commonly called metaphysical ones, seemingly the most remote from practice, is perhaps in nothing more apparent than with respect to the ideas which were in early ages entertained concerning nature, when its attributes came to be objects of {69} worship. As there must be a concurrence of male and female powers for the production of all living creatures, it was supposed that, in the great productive powers of nature, there must be both male and female qualities. The Egyptians had this idea, and accordingly several of their principal deities were said to be both male and female. Having little idea of delicacy, they represented those powers by the figures of the parts of generation. The constant exhibition of these figures in their religious worship could not but lead to much lewdness, first as an act of religion, acceptable to their gods, and then in common life; though this might be far from the intention of those who formed the plan of the popular worship.

Hence, however, it is that, in the ancient heathen religions, we find rites of the most opposite nature, the extreme of severity and cruelty in some, and the extreme of indecency and sensual indulgence in others. This is well known to have been the case in Egypt, the mother of religion and of science, to a great part of the Western world. We cannot without the utmost disgust and horror think of what, according to the testimony of Herodotus, whose authority in this case cannot be questioned, women did before the bull Apis, and especially with the goat that was worshipped at Mendes, to say nothing of the peculiarly indecent manner in which he says that in their religious processions, they carried the phalli, and of their behaviour; when, in some of their festivals, they went in boats along the Nile, and exhibited themselves to the inhabitants of the villages on its borders. The Nile itself, according to the testimony of Christian writers, was worshipped with the most obscene and execrable rites, even Sodomitical practices.

The idea that Plutarch gives us of the Egyptian rites is sufficiently disgusting. “Many of their religious ceremonies,” he says, “were of a mournful cast, and celebrated with much austerity. Some of their festivals and direful sacrifices were considered as unfortunate and mournful days, and were celebrated by eating raw flesh, torn with men's nails. On other days they fast, and smite their breasts, and in several places filthy and indecent words are used during the sacrifices. In their festivals and processions, the greater part act ludicrous things both, speaking and thinking words of the most wicked and lewd meaning, and that even of the gods themselves. But when they consult their oracles they are advised to have pious thoughts in their hearts, and words of good sound in their mouths.” {70}

No revels of the most irreligious persons could be more extravagant and indecent than the festivals of Bacchus; and the same people who sacrificed men, and even their own children, had places appropriated to prostitution, even of both sexes, adjoining to their temples, the profits arising from which were a part of their revenues.

The Hindoo religion has much in it in this respect, that is similar to that of the ancient Egyptian. “Nothing,” says De la Crose, “is more revered by the Hindoos than the lingam. Their most solemn worship is presented to their gods in this form. Lighted lamps are continually burning before it, in the inmost recesses of their temples, surrounded by other lamps with seven branches, like that of the Hebrews. Besides those in the temples, they have small ones of stone or crystal, which they hang to their necks, and fasten upon their heads. To these they address almost all their prayers, and frequently have them buried with them.”

Captain Campbell, after describing the lascivious dancing of Hindoo girls, who get their living by it, says, “that such enticements to vice should make a part of the system of any society is to be lamented: yet in all ceremonies and great occasions, whether religious worship or domestic enjoyment, they make a part of the entertainment; and the altars of their gods, and the purity of the magic rites, are alike polluted by the introduction of the dancing girls. The impurity of this custom, however, vanishes, when compared with the hideous practice of introducing dancing boys.”

With respect to the pagoda of Jaggernat, which he calls a curious and grotesque monument of superstitious folly, he says, “it is an immense barbarous structure of a kind of pyramidal form, embellished with devices cut in stone work, not more singular than disgusting.”

Christian idolaters, in forming types and figures of divine things, always endeavour to represent them with personal beauty, as proportionate to their divine nature as human skill can make it. Those Pagans, on the contrary, in forming their idols, cast out every vestige of beauty—everything that, by the consent of mankind, is supposed to convey pleasing sensations; and, in their place, substitute the most extravagant, unnatural deformity, the most loathsome nastiness, the most disgusting obscenity. It is not in language to convey an adequate idea of their temples and idols; and if it was, no purpose could be answered by it, only the excitement of painful and abominable sensations. To keep pace with the figures of their idols, a chief Brahmin, by some accursed {71} artificial means (by herbs, I believe), has brought to a most unnatural form, and enormous dimensions, that which decency forbids me to mention; and the pure and spotless women who from infancy have been shut up from the sight of men, even of their own brothers, are brought to kiss this disgusting and misshapen monster, under the preposterous belief that it promotes fecundity.

Tavernier mentions the same abominable custom, as also does Alexander Hamilton, in his account of the East Indies.

In this pagoda, Capt. Campbell says, stands the figure of Jaggernat, but it is nothing more than a black stone of an irregular pyramidal form, having two rich diamonds in the top by way of eyes, and a nose and mouth painted red. For this god, he says, five hundred priests are employed in spoiling food.

Every pagoda, says La Crose, has a certain number of prostitutes annexed to it, dedicated to its use by pompous and solemn ceremonies. They choose the handsomest, and educate them in such a manner, that when they come to a proper age they may bring the greatest gain to the temple by the price of their prostitution. They can never marry, or leave the idol; and their children, if they have any, are also dedicated to it.

Some, says Mr. William Chambers, devote their own children to this profession. This is customary in the Decan, but not with the Hindoos of Bengal or Hindoostan proper. He says this custom was probably derived from the religion of Buddha. But almost all the ancient heathen religions had the same custom. It is described at large by Herodotus, as it was practised at Babylon in his time; and it is frequently alluded to in the Old Testament. Lucian in his Treatise on the Syrian goddess, says that those women who refuse to cut off their hair on her festival, must prostitute themselves during one day; and that what they receive on that account is given to the goddess for a sacrifice. In Malabar it is reckoned meritorious to bring up girls, who are commonly bastards, for the service of the temples, and they are taught music and dancing. When they are of a proper age, they go through the ceremony of a marriage to the god.

The Shastrus declare that the daughters of Brahmins, till they are eight years old, are objects of worship as forms of the goddess Bhagavatee. Many persons performed the worship of these girls daily. They took the daughter of some neighbouring brahmin, and placing her on a seat, with flowers, paint, water, garlands, etc., performed her worship, and then presented to her, if they were {72} rich, offerings of cloth, ornaments, etc. At the close, the worshipper offered incense, and prostrated himself before this girl. At the worship of some of the female deities also, the daughters of Brahmins have divine honours paid to them. Many of the Tantra Shastrus, and particularly the Roodru'yamulu, the Yoni-tantra, and the Neelu-tantra, contain directions for a most extraordinary and disgusting puja, which is understood in a private manner amongst the Hindoos by the name of Chukru.

These Shastrus direct that the person or persons who wish to perform this puja must first, in the night, take a woman as the object of worship. If the person who performs this worship be a dukshinacharu, he must take his own wife, and if a vamacharu, he must take the daughter of a dancer, a kupalee, a washerman, a barber, a chundalu, or of a mussulman, or a prostitute, and place her on a seat or mat; and then bring boiled fish, flesh, fried peas, rice, spirituous liquors, sweetmeats, flowers, and all the other offerings and things necessary for the puja. These offerings, as well as the female, must next be purified by the repeating of incantations. To this, succeeds the worship of the person's guardian deity; and after this the worship of the female, with all the ceremonies included in the term puja. The female must be naked during the worship…. Here indecencies not fit to be recorded in the present age and country, are contained in the directions of the shastru for this worship, relating to every part of the body in turn. Ward said that the learned Brahmin who opened to him these abominations, made several efforts—paused and began again, and then paused again, before he could pronounce the shocking indecencies prescribed by his own shastrus.

As the object of the worship was a living person, at the close of the puja she partook of the offerings in the presence of the worshipper or worshippers. Hence she drank of the spirituous liquors, ate of the flesh, though it was that of the cow, and also of the other offerings. The orts were to be eaten by the person or persons present, while sitting together, however different their castes may be, nor might any one despise any of the offerings, or refuse to eat of them; the spirituous liquors were to be drunk by measure. The company while eating had to put food also in each other's mouths.

Ward wrote:—“The person who performs the ceremonies, in the presence of all, behaves towards this female in a manner which decency forbids to be mentioned. The persons present must then perform puja in a manner unutterably abominable, and here this {73} most diabolical business closes. At present persons performing these abominations are becoming more and more numerous. They are called vamacharees. In proportion as these things are becoming common, so much the more are the ways of performing them more and more beastly. They are done in secret: but that these practices are becoming very frequent among the Brahmins and others is a fact known to all. The persons who perform these actions agreeably to the rules of the Shastrus are very few. The generality do those parts that belong to gluttony, drunkenness and whoredom only, without being acquainted with all the minute rules and incantations of the shastrus.”

Pratapuchandra Ghosha, in reading a paper before the Asiatic Society of Bengal, in September, 1870, said:—“In the earliest portraits of the Aryan race, as delineated in the Vedas, we find their ideas and their thoughts centred in their homes, their cattle, their fields, and in the discomfiture of their enemies. Their wants were few, and their prayers, therefore, were less varied; and their ceremonies were, probably, equally simple. But this simplicity wore within itself the seed of a very complex system of thought. Everything that was useful in some way or other, everything that was beautiful or awful in nature, or that excited unusual feelings, or suggested new ideas, was estranged from the ordinary and associated with the supernatural. A new current of thought soon after set in. In the freshness of imagination during the primitive state of society, comparisons, metaphors, and allegories, were soon changed into real entities, and mythology rapidly gained ground in men's minds. Thus, the Puranas, by a natural poetical idea, made the sun and the moon, which witness all that is done on the earth, the spies of the divine ruler—a myth describing the all-pervading nature of their rays. In the Vedas, they are regarded as the universal witnesses of all ceremonies. The Ráhu, the ascending node, is derived from the verb literally meaning to abandon, void, hence also black, darkness, shadow, etc., and is represented in mythology as having no body, the umbra of the astronomers. The umbra may be said to devour as it were the luminaries. Later mythology makes Ráhu a trunkless head, an ingenious mythological adaptation of the umbra which devours, but inasmuch as it has no body, the moon comes out from the throat. Again, poetic imagination or extreme fear, personifies qualities, and that to such an extraordinary extent, that while describing the bloodthirsty vengeance of Sakti, she is said to have, {74} in the Chhinnamasta incarnation, cut off her own head from the trunk, and with the gaping trunkless skull gluttonously drank her own blood which springs with the warmth of life. However hideous the conception is, it is the result of the license allowed to poets to use partial similitudes. To such flights of unshackled imagination, the variously formed sphinxes of the Chaldeans are but mere flutters of the wings. As allegories illustrative of the concentration of force to overcome difficulties, and the adaptation of means to a purpose, the achievements of Durga offer many interesting instances. On the occasion of vanquishing the mighty Asuras, Sumbha and Nisumbha, and their general, named Mahishásura (the buffaloe-demon), the several gods are made to direct their energy to their weapons for the purpose. The goddess Durga, representative of this union, sprung forth with ten arms, fit to crush several Asuras at one fell swoop. Káli, another incarnation of Sakti, in the war with Raktavija, a demon multiplying his race, as his name implies, from the drops of blood flowing from his body, and touching the earth, is represented as having licked up the blood as it streamed forth from his person with a view to arrest that dreadful propagation.

“Many of these myths, again, may be traced partly to oriental hyperbole, and partly to the many-sided meanings of the words used in describing them: figurative expressions were seized and new myths were invented in illustration of them. Others again are illustrative of national customs; thus the protruded tongue of Káli has been the theme of several fanciful tales. With some, in the heat of the battle, Káli was so maddened, that the gods despaired of the world, and sent Siva, her husband to appease her. Siva crept among the dead soldiers lying in the field, and contrived to pass under the feet of Káli, who no sooner perceived her husband trampled under her feet, than she became abashed, and in the fashion of the women of the country, bit her tongue as expressive of her regret and indelicacy.

“It is amusing to follow the line of argument put forth in the Puranas in support of these myths. In some instances, they approach so near the ludicrous, that were it not for their thorough adaptability to the state of native society of the time, their fallacies would have been long ago exposed, and the whole Puranic system spurned and despised.

“Sakti is Force. Originally a sect of Hindoos worshipped force and matter as eternal. The word being in the feminine gender, its personification is a female divinity of supernatural powers, and every occupation which called for great exercise of energy and power at once selected her as tutelary goddess, and she is now the most popular of all the three and thirty millions of the Hindu pantheon. Saktaism has since imbibed so many brutal practices of cannibalism, human sacrifices, and bacchanalian rites, that the very name of a Sakta, inspires horror and disgust, nevertheless the unholy Tantras, which propound and explain the principles of this doctrine, and give rules for worshipping the different forms of Sakti, are increasing in number and popularity. They were, until lately, comparatively unknown beyond the frontier of Bengal, but copies of MSS. are now demanded from every quarter of Hindustan. The Tantric system is of Bengali origin, and its rites and customs are ultimately interwoven with those of the hill tribes, especially those of Nepal and Assam. Demonology is a principal feature in the Sakta faith, and the various nocturnal ceremonies are fixed which were much in vogue in Bengal, even as late as about fifty years ago.”

The great feature of the religion taught by the Tantras is the worship of Sakti—Divine power personified as a female, and individualised, not only in the goddesses of mythology, but in every woman: to whom, therefore, in her own person religious worship may be and is occasionally addressed. The chief objects of adoration, however, are the manifold forms of the bride of Siva; Parvati, Uma, Durga, Kali, Syama, Vindhya-vasini, Jaganmata, and others. Besides the usual practices of offerings, oblations, hymns, invocations, the ritual comprises many mystical ceremonies and accompaniments, gesticulations and diagrams, and the use in the commencement and close of the prayers of various monosyllabic ejaculations of imagined mysterious import. Even in its last exceptionable division it comprehends the performance of magical ceremonies and rites, intended to obtain super-human powers, and a command over the spirits of heaven, earth, and hell. The popular division is, however, called by the Hindus themselves, the left-hand Sakta faith. It is to this that the bloody sacrifices offered to Kali must be imputed; and all the barbarities and indecencies perpetrated at the Durga Puja, the annual worship of Durga, and the Churuk Puja, the swinging festival, are to be ascribed. There are other atrocities which do not meet the public eye. This is not a random foundationless charge, we have the books describing the rites and ceremonies, some of them are in print, veiled necessarily in the obscurity of the original language, but incontrovertible witnesses of the veracity of the charge. Of course no respectable Hindu will admit that he is a Vamachari, a follower of the left-hand ritual, or that he is a member of a society in which meat is eaten, wine is drunk, and abominations not to be named are practised. The imputation will be indignantly denied, although, if the Tantras be believed, “many a man who calls himself a Saiva, or a Vaishnava, is secretly a Sakta, and a brother of the left-hand fraternity.”4)

The worshippers of Sakti have always been divided into two classes, a right and a left-hand order, and three sub-divisions of the latter were enumerated, who until lately were still well known—the Purnabhishiktas, Akritarthas, Kritakrityasamas.

Time, and the presence of foreign rulers, it is evident to all observers, have very much modified the character of much of the Hindu worship; if the licentious practices of the Saktas are still as prevalent as ever, which may well be questioned, they are, at least, carefully concealed from observation, and if they are not exploded, there are other observances of a more ferocious description, which seem to have disappeared. The worship of Bhairava, still prevails amongst the Saktas and the Jogis; but in upper India, at least, the naked mendicant, smeared with funeral ashes, armed with a trident or a sword, carrying a hollow skull in his hand, and half intoxicated with the spirits which he has quaffed from that disgusting wine-cup, prepared, in short, to perpetrate any act of violence and crime, the Kapalika of former days, is now rarely, if ever, encountered.

A hundred years ago, the worshippers of the Sakti were exceedingly numerous amongst all classes of Hindus, it was computed that of those of Bengal, at least three-fourths were of this sect. The bride of Siva in one or other of her many and varied forms, was by far the most popular emblem in Bengal, and along the Ganges.

The worship of the female principal, as distinct from the divinity, appears to have originated in the literal interpretation of the metaphorical language of the Vedas, in which the will or purpose to create the universe, is represented as originating from the creator, and co-existent with him as his bride, and part of himself. Thus in the Rig Veda, it is said, “That divine spirit breathed without afflation single, with her who is sustained within him; other than him nothing existed.” First desire was formed in his mind, and that became the original productive seed, and the Sama {77} Veda, speaking of the divine cause of creation, says, “He felt not delight, being alone. He wished another, and instantly became such. He caused his ownself to fall in 'twain, and thus became husband and wife. He approached her, and thus were human beings produced.” In those passages it is not unlikely that reference is made to the primitive tradition of the origin of mankind, but there is also a figurative representation of the first indication of wish or will in the Supreme Being. Being devoid of all qualities whatever, he was alone, until he permitted the wish to be multiplied to be generated with himself. This wish being put into action, it is said, became united with its parent, and then created beings were produced. Thus this first manifestation of divine power is termed Ichchháupaá, personified desire, and the creator is designated as Swechchamaya, united with his own will; whilst in the Vedanta philosophy, and the popular sects, such as that of Kabir, and others, in which all created things are held to be illusory, the Sakti, or active will of the deity, is always designated and spoken of as Maya, or Mahamaya, original deceit or illusion.

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1) , 2) , 3)
Picard, Ceremonies et Coutumes Religieuses.
Wilson's Lectures.