Sadhus & Yogis of India
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ABBÉ J. A. DUBOIS

TRANSLATED FROM THE AUTHOR'S LATER FRENCH MS. AND
EDITED WlTH NOTES, CORRECTIONS, AND BIOGRAPHY

BY
HENRY K. BEAUCHAMP, C.l.E.

FELLOW OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MADRAS;
FELLOW OF THE ROYAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY
MEMBER OF THE ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY
WITH A PREPATORY NOTE BY THE RIGHT HON. F. MAX MULLER
AND A PORTRAIT


[DA vii] As a trustworthy authority on the state of India from 1792 to 1823 the Abbé Dubois' work will always retain its value, and in its final and complete form now offered to the public it will be welcome not only to Sanskrit scholars, but to all who take an intelligent interest in that wonderful country. As the Abbé went to India as a missionary, and was a man remarkably free from theological prejudices, missionaries in particular will read his volume with interest and real advantage. [Max Müller]
[DA 201] If Europeans living in India simply for the good of their health, would or could condescend so far as to make their mode of life conform to that of the higher classes of natives, at any rate in all essential matters, how much more cordial and friendly the relations between the two peoples would be !
When I was travelling in districts where Europeans were as yet but little known I generally met with an agreeable welcome. Indeed, sometimes I was received with the most generous hospitality. Brahmins themselves have not disdained to offer me shelter in their own houses on seeing my long beard and my native costume.
I must own, however, that my attendants took care that people should be favourably disposed towards me by publishing abroad that though I was a European priest [DA 202] a Feringhi guru, I was also the priest of all those castes of natives who had embraced the religion of Sarveswara, that I adhered strictly to all the Brahmin rules, made frequent ablutions, just as they did, abstained from meat and all intoxicating drinks, &c., &c.
The portrait of Dubois
These last assertions were pure falsehoods, which, on my honour, I had never sanctioned, but all the same they were made and repeated unknown to me, whenever my followers thought it to their interest or mine.
Nevertheless, in spite of the greatest attention and circumspection on my part to avoid giving offence to my hosts, I occasionally found myself involved in a difficulty without its being in the least my fault.
[DA 9] There is one motive which above all others has influenced my determination. It struck me that a faithful picture of the wickedness and incongruities of polytheism and idolatry would by its very ugliness help greatly to set off the beauties and perfections of Christianity. It was thus that the Lacedaemonians placed drunken slaves in the sight of their children in order to inspire the latter with a horror of intemperance.

There is every reason to believe that the true God was well known to the people of India at the time when they [DA 10] first banded themselves together as a nation. For who can doubt that our blessed religion was originally that of the whole world ? Who can doubt that it would have exercised universal sway from the days of Adam to the end of time if its original form as established by God Himself and its primitive traditions had been carefully respected ? Unfortunately human passion gained the upper hand. Whole nations were corrupted, and men made for themselves a religion more suited to the depravity of their own hearts. Nevertheless, what has now become of the innumerable deities of Greece and Rome? They have vanished like an empty, transitory dream. Let us pray that the Almighty may be pleased to allow the torch of Truth to illumine the countries watered by the Ganges ! Doubtless the time is still far distant when the stubborn Hindu will open his eyes to the light and tear himself away from his dark superstitions; but let us not despair, a day will come when the standard of the Cross will be flying over the temples of India as it flies now over her strong places. {[footnote] Yet even now the number of Christians in India is, comparatively speaking, small. They form about .75 per cent. of the whole population, and nearly 75 per cent. of the total are found in Madras, Travancore, Hyderabad, Mysore, and Cochin. And concerning the native Christians of these parts a distinguished and much-travelled member of the Civil Service recently remarked, 'Their Christianity, as I have seen it, too often breathes but little of the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount.' —ED.}

Certain statements to be found in my work will seem almost incredible to my readers. All that I can say is that I have set down nothing without assuring myself most carefully of its truthfulness. For the rest, my readers will feel much less doubt as to the accuracy of these statements when they have learned to recognize how eminently original the people of India are in their manners and customs. So original are they, indeed, that one may search in vain for types, or anything approaching to types, of them amongst other nations of the world, ancient or modern.

[DA 103] It appears certain, however, that they [the Brahmins] were already established there in a flourishing condition more than nine centuries before the Christian era, as that was about the time of Lycurgus's visit to them; and it is not likely that one of the wisest of the ancient philosophers would have undertaken such a long and tedious journey unless the reputation of the learned men he was going all that way to consult was an old and established fact.

[DA 108] Brahmins are subdivided into seven sects, each of which has for its patron one of the celebrated Penitents already mentioned. [Kasyapa, Atri, Bharadwaja, Gautama, Viswamitra, Jamadagni, Vaisishta] Besides this they are split up into four classes, each class recognizing one of the four Vedas as its own. Thus there are Brahmins of the Yajur-Veda, of the Sama-Veda, of the Rig-Veda, and of the Atharva-Veda. Some are of the opinion that this fourth class is extinct; but, as a matter of fact, it still exists, although there are but few representatives left, who are even more exoteric than the other castes, because they allow bloody sacrifices to be offered up, and do not draw the line at human beings. Added to this, they teach a belief in witchcraft, and any one who is supposed to possess the art earns the odious reputation of being an sorcerer.

[DA 110] In many temples even Sudras are allowed to exercise these functions [washing and decorating the idols, preparing lighted lamps, incense, flowers, fruits, etc.], and men of this caste are always chosen for the office of sacrificer in pagodas where rams, pigs, cocks, and other living victims are offered up. No Brahmin would ever consent to take part in a sacrifice where blood has to be spent.

[DA 112] The special devotees of Vishnu are to be found in great numbers in the southern provinces of India, where they are known by various names, such as Andi, Dasari, Ramanjogi, Bairagis, and many others.
Besides the namam, which is an unmistakable sign of this sect, most of the devotees may also be distinguished by the extraordinary costume that they affect. The clothes which they wear are dyed a deep yellow, shading into red; many cover their shoulders with a coloured patchwork blanket, which they partly use as a cloak; their turbans, too, are composed of a motley of many hues. Some wear a cheetah's skin on their shoulders instead of the blanket. Most of them have long necklaces of black seeds, the size of nuts. Besides this ridiculous costume, which vies with a jester's motley, the devotees of Vishnu always carry a bronze gong and a conch shell called a sangu when they are travelling or begging. Both of these are used to make [DA 113] a noise and to announce their approach. With one hand they strike the gong with a little drumstick, producing a bell-like sound; with the other they hold the sangu to their mouth, and blow through it shrill and piercing sounds which are very monotonous. These two objects are always to be seen in the hands of those followers of Vishnu who are beggars by profession, and who in some way resemble the mendicant friars of old. On their breasts they wear a sort of brass plate, on which is engraved a likeness of the monkey Hanumanta, or else one of the Avatars, or incarnations, of Vishnu. Some of them wear a number of little bells either hanging from their shoulders or on their legs, the tinkling of which warns people of their approach. To all the above paraphernalia some add an iron rod, at each end of which hangs a little brazier of the same metal containing the fire for burning the incense of which their sacrifices are composed.

To ask for alms is looked upon as a right, and even an inherent duty, in this sect. Indeed, as a rule in India any one who assumes the cloak of religion can practise begging as a profession.

It is principally when they are making pilgrimages to some sacred spot that these religious beggars make use of their privileges. Sometimes you meet as many as a thousand in one party. They scatter themselves through the various villages within reach of their route, and each inhabitant takes in a certain number of them, so that all travelling expenses are saved. This is the only occasion on which they travel in such large numbers, though they never wander about quite alone. Their manner when demanding alms is most insolent and audacious, and often threatening. [Often true today, in 2001, too.] If their demands are not instantly complied with, they will nosily repeat their request, striking their gongs and producing the most deafening sounds from their sangus all the time. If such methods are not successful, they have been known to force their way into a house, break all the household utensils, and damage everything they can find. These religious mendicants generally pursue their begging to an accompaniment of singing and dancing. Their songs are a species of hymns in honour of their [DA 114] deities; and they very often sing indecent ballads. The more freely the latter are interlarded with obscenities, the better are they calculated to attract offerings from the public.

The intemperance to which these religious beggars, and indeed all the devotees of Vishnu, are addicted, causes the better class of Hindus to regard them with great disfavour. In fact, such mendicants seem rather to pride themselves on their want of moderation in eating and drinking, from a feeling of opposition to the Lingayats, all in order to make the difference between themselves and their adversaries more apparent. The sobriety of the latter equals, if it does not surpass, that of the Brahmins. Vishnavites eat all kinds of meat ostentatiously, and drink arrack, toddy, or any other intoxicating liquors or drugs that they can procure, without scruple or shame. Excesses of all kinds are laid to their charge, and it is amongst them that that most abominable rite called sakti-puja is practised, of which I shall speak at greater length further on.

[DA 117] The gurus, or priests of Siva [Lingayats], who are known in the Western provinces by the name of Jangamas, are for the most part celibates. They have a custom which is peculiar to themselves, and curious enough to be worth remarking. When a guru travels about his district he lodges with some member of the sect, and the members contend amongst themselves for the honour of receiving him. When he has selected the house he wishes to stay in, the master and all the other male inmates are obliged, out of respect for him, to leave it, and go and stay elsewhere. The holy man remains there day and night with only the women of the house, whom he keeps to wait on him and cook for him, without creating any scandal or exciting the jealousy of the husbands. All the same, some scandal-mongers have remarked that the Jangamas always take care to choose a house where the women are young.

[DA 119] According to the Vishnavites it is the height of all abomination to wear the liĖgam. According to their antagonists, whoever is decorated with the naman [trishul] will be tormented in hell by a sort of fork similar in form to this emblem. These mutual recriminations often end in violent altercations and riots. The numerous bands of religious [120] mendicants of both sects are especially apt to provoke strife. One may sometimes see these fanatics collected together in crowds to support their opinion of the superexcellence of their respective doctrines. They will overwhelm each other with torrents of abuse and obscene insults, and pour blasphemies and imprecations, on one side against Siva, on the other against Vishnu; and finally they will come to blows. Fortunately blood is seldom shed on these battlefields. [] Having thus given vent to their feelings, the combatants separate by mutual consent.

That these religious dissensions do not set the whole country ablaze, or occasion those crimes of all kinds which were for centuries the result of religious fanaticism in Europe and elsewhere, is due no doubt to the naturally mild and timid character of the Hindus, and especially to the fact that the greater number compound with their consciences and pay equal honour to Vishnu and Siva. Being thus free from any bias towards either party, the latter serve as arbitrators in these religious combats, and often check incipient quarrels.

[DA 120] Those who are acquainted with the character and disposition of the Bairagis and Goshais of the north, and of the Dasari, Andis, Jangamas, and Pandarams in the south, are fully persuaded that it would still de quite easy for two ambitious and hostile princes to arm these fanatics and persuade them to come to blows if they raised the standard of Basava (the bull) on one side, and of Hanumanta (the monkey) on the other.

[DA 125] The word guru, properly speaking, means 'master' or 'guide,' and this is why parents are sometimes called the maha-gurus or grand masters of their families, and kings are called the gurus of their kingdoms, and masters the gurus of their servants.
The word is also used to designate persons of distinguished rank who are raised to a high position and invested with a character for sanctity, which confers both spiritual and temporal power upon them. The latter, which is exercised over the whole caste, consists in regulating its affairs, in keeping a strict watch to see that all its customs, both those for use in private as well as in public, are accurately observed, in punishing those who disregard them and expelling from caste those who have deserved this indignity, in reinstating the penitent, and several other no less important prerogatives. Besides this temporal authority, which no one disputes, they also exercise very extensive spiritual power. The sashtanga or prostration of the six members when made before them and followed by their asirvadam, or blessing, will obtain the remission of all sins. The very sight even of gurus will produce the same effect.
Any prasadam or gift from them, though usually some perfectly valueless object, such as a pinch of the ashes of cow-dung with which they besmear their foreheads, the fruits or flowers that have been offered to idols, the remains of their food, the water with which they have rinsed out their mouths or washed their face or feet, and which is highly prized and often drunk by those who receive it; in short, any gift whatever from their sacred hands has the merit of cleansing both soul and body from all impurities.

[DA 126] On the other hand, while the beneficial effects of their blessings or their trivial presents excite so large an amount of respect and admiration from the dull-witted public, their maledictions, which are no less powerful, are as greatly feared. The Hindus are convinced that their curses never fail to produce effect, whether justly or unjustly incurred. Their books are full of fables which seem to have been invented expressly to exemplify and strengthen this idea. The attendants of the guru who are interested in making the part which their master pays appear credible, are always recounting ridiculous stories on this subject, of which they declare they have been eye-witnesses; and in order that the imposture may be the less easily discovered, they always place the scene in some distant country. Sometimes they relate that the person against whom the curse was fulminated died suddenly whilst the guru was still speaking; that another was seized with palsy in all his limbs, and that the affliction will remain until the anathema has been removed; or that the guru's malediction caused some woman to be prematurely confined; or that a labourer saw all his cattle die suddenly at the moment when the malediction was hurled at his head; or that one man was turned to stone and another became a pig; in fact, they will relate a thousand similar absurdities quite seriously. {[footnote] The ideas of the Hindus on the subject of the blessings and curses of their gurus are analogous, at any rate in point of extravagance, to those which, according to Holy Scripture, were current in the time of the ancient Patriarchs. Noah's curse on his son Ham and his blessing on the other two, Shem and Japheth, bore fruit (Genesis ix). The value that Esau and Jacob set on their father Isaac's blessing is well known (Genesis xxvii); also the bitter regret of Esau when he found that he had been supplanted by Jacob. —Dubois.}

If the foolish credulity of the Hindu will carry him to these lengths, can any one be surprised if his feelings of respect and fear for his guru are equally extravagant? He will take the greatest care to do nothing that might displease him. Hindus have been reduced to such terrible straits as to sell their wives or their children in order to procure the money to pay the imposts or procure the presents that their gurus remorselessly claimed from them, [DA 127] rather than run the risk of exposing themselves to their much-dreaded maledictions.

[DA 127] The high priests, as well as the inferior priests belonging to the sect of Siva, are drawn entirely from the Sudra caste {[footnote] This is not true. —Ed.}; but the greater number of the head gurus belonging to the Vishnavites are Vishnavite Brahmins, and they appoint the inferior clergy of that sect.

[DA 130] From time to time gurus make tours of inspection in those districts where their followers are most numerous. They sometimes go as much as a hundred miles from their habitual residence. The chief, if not the only, object of the expedition is to collect money. Besides the fines which they impose upon those who have committed some crime, or been guilty of breaking some rule of their caste or sect, they are merciless in extorting tribute money from their followers, which often greatly exceeds their means. They call this method of obtaining money dakshina and padakanikai, and no one, however poor he may be, is exempt from paying it. There is no insult or indignity that gurus will not inflict upon any one who either cannot or will not submit to this tax. Deaf to all entreaties, they cause the defaulter to appear before them in an ignominious and humiliating attitude, publicly overwhelm him with insults and reproaches, and order that mud or cow-dung shall be thrown in his face. If these means do not succeed, they force him to give up one of his children, who is obliged to work without wages until the tribute money is paid. Indeed, they have been known to take away a man's wife as compensation. Finally, as a last and infallible resource, they threaten him with their malediction, and such is the Hindu's credulity, and so great his dread of the evils which he foresees will fall upon him if the curse be spoken, that, if it is not absolutely impossible, he submits and pays the required sum.

The gurus also increase their revenue by means of taxes, called guru-dakshina, which are levied on the occasion of [DA 131] a birth, at the ceremony of the diksha (initiation), at a marriage, or at a death.
If these pastoral visits were of very frequent occurrence it is evident that the resources of the poor flock would soon be exhausted. Fortunately, those of the chief gurus, which are the most expensive, take place but seldom. Some make a tour of their districts once in five years, others once in ten only, and others, again, only once in a lifetime.
Some gurus are married, but most are celibates. The latter, however, do not appear to adhere very strictly to their vow of chastity. Their conduct on this head is the more open to misconstruction in that they can have one or two women in their houses as cooks. According to the customs and ideas of the country, for a man to keep a female servant and to have her as his mistress are one and the same thing. No Hindu can be persuaded of the possibility of free, and at the same time innocent, intercourse between a man and a woman.
But in spite of this, the common herd, who fancy that gurus are not made of the same clay as other mortals and are consequently impeccable, are in no wise shocked at these illicit connexions. Sensible people take no notice, but shut their eyes and say that allowances must be made for human weakness.

The Brahmins pretend that they are the gurus for all castes, and that they alone have a right to the rank and honours appertaining to that profession; but, as I have already mentioned, a number of common Sudras also contrive to raise themselves to that dignified position. [Sadhus] The Brahmins, of course, look upon them as intruders, but this does not in the least prevent their enjoying all the honours and advantages which belong to their rank in the caste and sect by which they are acknowledged.

Except when they are making their tours of inspection, most gurus live in seclusion, shut up in isolated hermitages called mutts. They are rarely seen in public. Some of them live in the vicinity of the large pagodas. But the high priests, whose large households and daily hospitalities entail considerable expenditure, generally live in the large agraharas or towns inhabited principally by Brahmins, and for this reason called punyasthalas, or abodes of virtue.

[DA 132] The followers of Siva ... proceed to perform a very disgusting ceremony. They solemnly pour water over the feet of their guru and wash them, reciting mantrams the while; then carefully collecting the water so used in a copper vessel, they pour part of it over their head and face, and drink the rest.
The Vishnavites go though a similar ceremony with their gurus; and this is by no means the most revolting of the marks of respect which these idiotic fanatics delight in paying. A piece of food that a guru has already masticated, or the water with which he has rinsed out his mouth, at once becomes sacred in their eyes, and is swallowed with avidity.

[DA 132] I have been informed by some of these pilgrims themselves, that the more enthusiastic amongst them watch for the moment when the old guru is about to expectorate, when they stretch out their hands, struggling as to who shall have the happiness and good luck to catch the superfluous fluid which the holy man ejects; the rest of the scene is indescribable.

[DA 133] To the sects both of Siva and Vishnu priestesses are attached, that is to say, women specially set apart, under the names of wives of the gods, for the service of one or other of these deities. They are quite a distinct class from the dancing-girls of the temples, but are equally depraved. They are generally the unfortunate victims of the immorality of the Jangamas or Vaishnavas. These priests, by way of keeping up a character for good behaviour, and conciliating the families upon whom they have brought dishonour, put the whole blame on Vishnu or Siva; and the poor gods, as is only fair, are forced to make amends. So the girls are given to the gods as wives, by the aid of a few ceremonies; and we know that these worthy gurus enjoy the privilege of representing in everything the gods whose ministers they are. The women who are thus consecrated to Vishnu are called garuda-basavis (wives of garuda), and have the image of this bird tattooed on their breasts as the distinctive mark of their rank.
The priestesses of Siva are called liĖga-basavis, or women of the liĖgam, and bear this sign tattooed on their thighs.
Though these women are known to be the mistresses of the priests and other dignitaries, still, for all that, they are treated with a certain amount of consideration and respect amongst their own sect.

[DA 148] This ceremony [aarti] is performed only by married women and courtesans. Widows would not be allowed, under any circumstances, to participate in it.
A lamp made of kneaded rice-flour is placed on a metal dish or plate. It is then filled with oil or liquefied butter and lighted. The women each take hold of the plate in turn and raise it to the level of the person's head for whom the ceremony is being performed, describing a specified number of circles with it. [] The object of this ceremony is to counteract the influence of the evil eye and any ill-effects which, according to Hindu belief, may arise from the jealous and spiteful looks of ill-intentioned persons.
The aratti is one of the commonest of their religious practices, and is observed in public and private. [footnote: The word aratti itself means trouble, misfortune, pain.—Ed.]

[DA 149] The aratti is also performed for idols. After the dancing-girls have finished all their other duties in the temple, they never fail to perform this ceremony twice daily over the images of the gods to whom their services are dedicated.
[DA 149] This superstition about the evil eye is common enough in many European countries. [] The Romans too had their god Fascinus, and amulets of the same name were given to children to wear to preserve them from spells of this nature. The statue of the god, placed on the triumphal car, preserved returning conquerors from the malignity of the envious. Hindus call this spell drishti-dosha, or the influence of the eye. And they invented the aratti to avert and counteract it.

[DA 150] The object of the pavitram is to scare away giants, evil spirits, or devils, whose mission it is to bring disasters upon men and mar the ceremonies of the Brahmins. The very sight of the pavitram makes them tremble and take to flight.
This powerful amulet consists of three, five, or seven stalks of darbha grass plaited together in the form of a ring. Before beginning any ceremony the presiding purohita takes the pavitram, and, after dipping it in sanctified water, places it on the ring finger of his right hand. The seeds and oil of sesamum are very nearly as efficacious as the pavitram; but the grass called darbha is the most efficacious, for it possesses the virtue of purifying everything that it touches. The Brahmins can do nothing without it.

[DA 152] I have already explained of what disgusting materials the mixture [pancha-gavia] known by this name is composed. This is the way in which it is consecrated. The house is purified in the usual way. They then bring five little new earthen vessels, into one of which they put milk, into another curds, into a third liquefied butter, into a fourth cow-dung, and into the fifth the urine of a cow. These five little vessels are then placed in a row on the ground on some darbha grass, and they perform puja .... First, they make a profound obeisance before the deity pancha-gavia, and then meditate for some time on his merits and good qualities. [153] After this prayer they make another profound obeisance and put the contents of the five vessels into one. Then taking this vessel into his hands, the purohita performs the hari-smarana [footnote: Hari-smarana means meditating on Hari, or Vishnu.—Ed.], drinks a little of this precious liquid, pours a little into the hollow of the hands of all persons present, who also drink it, and keeps the rest for use during the ceremony. Betel is then presented to the Brahmins who are present, after which they disperse.
Nothing can equal the supposed purifying virtues of this mixture. Brahmins and other Hindus frequently drink it to remove both external and internal defilements.
There is also another lustral preparation called pancha-amrita, which is composed of milk, curds, liquefied butter, honey, and sugar mixed together. This is not filthy and disgusting like the one previously mentioned, but then it is much less efficacious. It however possesses a certain degree of merit under some circumstances.

[DA 172] To the Brahmins alone belongs the right of reading the Vedas, and they are so jealous of this, or rather it is so much to their interest to prevent other castes obtaining any insight into their contents, that the Brahmins have inculcated the absurd theory, which is implicitly believed that should anybody of any other caste be so highly imprudent as even to read the title-page, his head would immediately split in two. The very few Brahmins who are able to read these sacred books in the original only do so in secret and in a whisper. Expulsion from caste, without the smallest hope of re-entering it, would be the lightest punishment for a Brahmin who exposed these books to the eyes of the profane.
These four marvellous books are held to be the work of Brahma himself, who wrote them with his own hand on pages of gold. Brahma, it is said, explained their meaning to four famous Munis, or penitents, to whom the books were entrusted, and to whom was confided the task of explaining them to the Brahmins. Sumantu, the first of these celebrated personages, was given the Yajur-Veda; [DA 173] Pailada, the Rig-Veda; Jaimini, the Sama-Veda; and Angirasa, the Atharva-Veda.

But let it not be imagined for one moment that these books contain matter of much interest. Their antiquity alone, real or pretended, is their sole recommendation. A lengthy exposition of Hindu polytheism as it existed originally, the most contemptible and ridiculous stories concerning the fanciful penances to which their hermits subjected themselves, the metamorphosis of Vishnu, the disgusting liĖgam, &c.; such are, according to the evidence which I have acquired, more or less an epitome of the contents of these books, of which the Brahmins make such a great mystery.
The fourth of these books, the Atharva-Veda is the most baneful work of all in the hands of a people already given over to the grossest superstition. It is a sort of conjuring book, professing to teach the magic art of injuring by means of spells and enchantments. Bloody sacrifices are also ordained in it.
It is from these books that the Brahmins have unearthed the greater number of those mantrams which bring them in so much money, and cause them to be held in such high esteem. This, in fact, is what renders the Vedas so precious to the Brahmins.
Such Brahmins as devote themselves to the higher branches of knowledge learn the Vedas by heart; and though the greater number do not understand the real meaning of what they have learnt, still they are looked upon in some sort as doctors of theology, and are given the name of Veidikas. It is true, nevertheless, that those who devote themselves to the study of these books cannot hope to extract any instruction from them, for they are [DA 174] written in ancient Sanskrit, which has become almost wholly unintelligible; and such numberless mistakes have been introduced by copyists, either through carelessness or ignorance, that the most learned find themselves quite unable to interpret the original text. Out of twenty thousand Brahmins I do not believe that one could be found who even partially understood the real Vedas.

[DA 197] In a word, one everywhere comes across places consecrated by superstition, where the greatest sinners can, with the most perfect ease, extinguish in a limpid and accommodating stream the burning fires of remorse by which they may be troubled.

[DA 197] A Brahmin who happened to go three times round a temple of Siva merely in pursuit of a dog that he was beating to death, obtained the remission of all his sins, and also the special favour of being transported immediately to Kailasa.

[DA 274]  ... the indolent Hindu has generally more time on his hands than he requires to look after his business, which is never of a pressing nature. It is indeed quite probable that their natural indolence and dislike for work of all kinds partly contributed to the institution of so many days of rest!

[DA 275] Our Western religion, education, and manners are so diametrically opposed at all points to the religious and civil usages of the Hindus that they are naturally looked upon with a most unfavourable eye by the latter. In their opinion Europeans may almost be placed below the level of beasts, and even the more sensible among them cannot understand how people, possessed in other ways of so many superior qualities, can conform in their everyday life to manners and customs which differ so radically from their own, and which, as a natural consequence, they consider most coarse and degraded.

The Brahmin rule of life is in appearance intolerably severe, but it has become for them a mere matter of habit encouraged by vanity and self-interest. Their punctiliousness in the fulfilment of their religious duties day by day, their self-denials and their fasts, form part of the business of their lives and are looked upon in the light of pastimes. They know, too, full well, that the eyes of the multitude are always on them, and the smallest relaxation of their discipline or the least negligence in any particular would put an end to the almost boundless veneration and respect [DA 276] with which the common people regard them. I have however met with Brahmins who were sufficiently reasonable to admit that many of their customs were opposed to all common sense, and that they only practised them out of consideration for their co-religionists. I know also that most of them evade the rules and absolve themselves without hesitation from the performance of very many of their trifling ceremonies when they are quite certain that these lapses will remain a profound secret. Thus, for example, there are very few who perform their ablutions more than once a day, or who strictly observe the prescribed fasts. To keep up appearances, to dazzle the eyes of the public, to avoid scandal, such are the limits of their pious zeal. Although in public they affect the utmost strictness, they are very much less particular in private life, and a well-known saying confirms this assertion:  'A real Brahmin in the agrahara, half a Brahmin when seen afar off, and a Sudra when entirely out of sight.' {[footnote] This is even more true nowadays than it was in the time of the Abbé, at any rate among the Brahmins educated on Western lines. —ED.}

[DA 286] Amongst the abominable rites practised in India is one which is only too well known; it is called sakti-puja; sakti meaning strength or power. Sometimes it is the wife of Siva to whom this sacrifice is offered; sometimes they pretend that it is in honour of some invisible power. The ceremony takes place at night with more or less secrecy. The least disgusting of these orgies are those where they confine themselves to eating and drinking everything that the custom of the country forbids, and where men and women, huddled together in indiscriminate confusion, openly and shamelessly violate the commonest laws of decency and modesty.
The Namadharis, or followers of Vishnu, are the most frequent perpetrators of these disgusting sacrifices. People of all castes, from the Brahmin to the Pariah, are invited to attend. When the company are assembled, all kinds of meat, including beef, are placed before the idol of Vishnu. Ample provision is also made of arrack, toddy and opium, and any other intoxicating drug they can lay their hands on. The whole is then offered to Vishnu. Afterwards the pujari, or sacrificer, who is generally a Brahmin, first of all tastes the various kinds of meats and liquors himself, [DA 287] then gives the others permission to devour the rest. Men and women thereupon begin to eat greedily, the same piece of meat passing from mouth to mouth, each person taking a bite, until it is finished. Then they start afresh on another joint, which they gnaw in the same manner, tearing the meat out of each other's mouths. When all the meat has been consumed, intoxicating liquors are passed round, every one drinking without repugnance out of the same cup. {[footnote] I have mentioned before that to a Hindu who has been decently brought up this mode of drinking is absolutely abhorrent.—DUBOIS.}
Opium and other drugs disappear in a similar fashion. They persuade themselves that under these circumstances they do not contract impurity by eating and drinking in so revolting a manner. When they are all completely intoxicated, men and women no longer keep apart, but pass the rest of the night together, giving themselves up without restraint to the grossest immorality without any risk of disagreeable consequences. A husband who sees his wife in another man's arms cannot recall her, nor has he the right to complain; for at those times every woman becomes common property. Perfect equality exists among all castes, and the Brahmin is not of higher caste than the Pariah. The celebration of these mysterious rites may differ sometimes in outward forms but in spirit they are always equally abominable. Under certain circumstances the principal objects which form the sacrifice to sakti are a large vessel full of native rum and a full-grown girl. The latter, stark nČked, remains standing in a most indecent attitude. The goddess Sakti is evoked, and is supposed to respond to the invitation to come and take up her abode in the vessel full of rum, and also in the girl's body.

A sacrifice of flowers, incense, sandalwood, coloured-rice and a lighted lamp is then offered to these two objects, and for neiveddya a portion of all the viands that have been prepared. This done, Brahmins, Sudras, Pariahs, both men and women, intoxicate themselves with the rum which was offered to sakti, all drinking from the same cup in turn. To exchange pieces of the food that they are in the act of eating, and to put into one's own mouth what has just been taken from another's, are under these conditions [DA 288] regarded as acts of virtue by the fanatics. As usual, the meeting winds up with the most revolting orgy.

Without the salutary restraint of a healthy tone of morality, how can these people be expected to fight successfully against the vehemence of their passions ? And then when they give way to unbridled licence, they think to stifle remorse by investing these horrible practices with a religious element, as if sacrilege could disguise their moral turpitude. Strange to say, it is the Brahmins, and very often the women of this caste, who are frequently the most ardent promoters of these Bacchanalian orgies. However, debauches of this kind entail such heavy expenses as fortunately to prevent their frequent recurrence.

Of course it is well known that most ancient nations had their own peculiar mysterious rites, and that very few among them failed to worship profligacy in some shape or other. Greece might well feel ashamed of the depravity which pervaded the cultus of a large number of her deities. Many remains still exist, proving irrefutably that the grossest excesses defiled the temples of Venus, Ceres, Bacchus, &c., while the Persian Mitra and the Egyptian Osiris were the objects of equally impure worship.
Holy Scripture tells us something of the abominations practised by the Canaanites in honour of Baal, Baal-peor, and Moloch, which brought down upon them such terrible punishments. Thus we see that, all the world over, idolatry assumed much the same forms, for ignorance and fanaticism can have but one termination.
At the same time, the Hindus, accustomed as they are to carry everything to extremes, appear to have surpassed all the other nations of the world, both ancient and modern, in the unconscionable depravity with which so many of their religious rites are impregnated.

[DA 308] In the case of ... children, subjected as they are from their earliest youth to influences which prematurely develop the latent germs of passion and vice, the knowledge of evil always comes before the first dawnings of reason. At the time of their lives when, according to the laws of nature, the passions should remain unawakened, it is not at all unusual to find children of both sexes familiar with words and actions which are revolting to modesty. The instincts which are excited at an early age by the nudity in which they remain till they are seven or eight years old, the licentious conversation that they are always hearing around them, the lewd songs and obscene verses that their parents delight in teaching them as soon as they begin to talk, the disgusting expressions which they learn and use to the delight of those who hear them, and who applaud such expressions as witticisms; these are the foundations on which the young children's education is laid, and such are the earliest impressions which they receive.

Of course it is unnecessary to say that, as they get older, incontinence and all its attendant vices increase at the same time. It really seems as if most of the religious and civil institutions of India were only invented for the purpose of awakening and exciting passions towards which they have already such a strong natural tendency. The shameless stories about their deities, the frequent recurrence of special feast-days which are celebrated everywhere, the allegorical meaning of so many of their everyday customs and usages, the public and private buildings which are to be met with everywhere bearing on their walls some disgusting obscenity, the many religious services in which the principal part is played by prostitutes, who often make even the temples themselves the scenes of their abominable debauchery; all these things seem to be calculated to excite the lewd imagination of the inhabitants of [DA 309] this tropical country and give them a strong impetus towards libertinism.

In order to prevent the consequences of this precocious sensuality, parents must hasten to marry their children as early as possible. Yet marriage under these circumstances does not always prove a very powerful restraint. Nothing is more common than for a married man to keep one or more concubines away from his home, in a separate establishment, according as his pecuniary circumstances permit. This state of affairs is particularly common in large towns, where it is so much easier to keep it a secret from the legitimate wife, and thus avoid the domestic quarrels and dissensions which are the natural consequence. Nevertheless, even in the country, the jealousy of a wife is rarely a hindrance to a husband's profligacy. She may try in vain to bring him back by remonstrances and threats; in vain she may leave her home and take refuge with her parents. Her faithless husband recalls her and maybe swears to behave better in future. But she is soon deceived again ! She soon finds herself deserted once more, and finally she must perforce resign herself to seeing, hearing, and suffering everything without making any further complaint.

And after all, is it surprising that libertinism and all its consequences prevail in a country where the passions have so many incentives and such ample opportunities of satisfaction ? Look at the crowd of widows in the prime of life who are forbidden to remarry, and who are only too ready to yield to the temptations by which they are assailed. Modesty and virtue place no restrictions on them; their only fear is that their misconduct may be found out. Consequently, abortion is their invariable resource to prevent such a contingency, and they practise it without the slightest scruple or remorse. There is not a woman amongst them who does not know how to bring it about. This odious crime, so revolting to all natural feeling, is of no importance in the eyes of the Hindus. According to their view, to destroy a being that has never seen the light is a lesser evil than that a woman should be dishonoured. The crimes of these unnatural mothers do not always however, go unpunished; many of them fall victims to [DA 310] the violent remedies which they employ to get rid of their shame. But should these remedies fail in having the desired effect, and the women be no longer able to conceal their condition, they give out that they are going to make a pilgrimage to Benares, which is a very favourite form of devotion amongst Brahmins of both sexes. Then having chosen a discreet companion in whom they can confide, they start on their journey; but the supposed pilgrimage comes to an end in a neighbouring village, at the house of some relative or friend, who helps them to live in seclusion until such time as the child shall be born. They then hand over the result of their misconduct to any one who will take charge of it, and return to the bosom of their family.

Besides these sources of depravity which are common to all castes, there are a great many others peculiar to the Brahmins. Many of them possess abominable books in which the most filthy and disgusting forms of debauchery are systematically described and taught. These books also treat of such matters as the art of giving variety to sens-al pleasures, the decoction of beverages calculated to excite the passions, or renew them when exhausted. They also contain recipes for philtres, which are supposed to have the property of inspiring unholy love. The courtesans of the country often have recourse to these potions in the hope of retaining the affections of those whom they have enslaved, mixing them secretly in the food of their victims. I am told that the ingredients of which these potions are composed would inspire the greatest libertine with disgust and horror for his mistress if it ever came to his knowledge.

To have any connexion with a courtesan, or with an unmarried person, is not considered a form of wickedness in the eyes of the Brahmins. These men, who look upon the violation of any trivial custom as a heinous sin, see no harm in the most outrageous and licentious excesses. It was principally for their use that the dancers and prostitutes who are attached to the service of the temples were originally entertained, and they may often be heard to intone the following scandalous line:'

Vesya darisanam punyam papa nasanam

[DA 311] which means, 'To have intercourse with a prostitute is a virtue which takes away sin.' {[footnote] The real translation is, 'Looking upon a prostitute,'' &c. This line, it may be mentioned, is not a quotation from any book of Hindu religion, but is often quoted falsely as such.—ED.}

Adultery on the part of a woman, though it is considered shameful and is condemned in Brahminical law, is punished with much less severity in their caste than in many others. So long as it is kept a secret it is regarded as a matter of very small importance. It is the publicity of it which is the sin. If it becomes known the husbands are the first to contradict any gossip that may be current in order to avoid any scandal or disagreeable consequences.

However, the shame and dishonour which are the inevitable consequences of sins of this nature, and which are also reflected on the families of the culprits, serve as a check to a great many and keep them in the path of virtue. Those who succumb to an irresistible temptation are generally clever enough to invent expedients to hide their weakness from spiteful eyes. But woe to those who have been so imprudent or so careless as to fail to hide their misdeeds. There is no insult that charitable persons of their own se+ will not heap upon them, and if the least quarrel arises amongst them this would be the first thing brought up against them. Their confusion under these circumstances proves a warning to others to be more circumspect, or, at any rate, to save appearances at all costs.

But the depravity of the Hindus does not end here. There are depths of wickedness a thousand times more horrible to which the greater number of them are not ashamed to descend.
In Europe, where the Christian religion has inspired a salutary horror for certain unnatural offences, one would find it difficult to believe the stories which show to what lengths these disgusting vices are carried by the greater number of heathens and Mahomedans, to whom they have become a sort of second nature. We all know how greatly the Arabs and their neighbouring tribes are addicted to them. Kaempfer says that in Japan there are public establishments for this purpose which are tolerated by Government; and very much the same thing is done in China.
[DA 312] The facility with which the Hindu can gratify his passions in a natural manner in a country where courtesans abound renders these disgusting practices less common; but it by no means prevents them altogether. In the larger towns in India there are generally houses to be found given over to this odious form of vice. One sometimes meets in the streets the degraded beings who adopt this infamous profession. They dress like women, let their hair grow in the same way, pluck out the hair on their faces, and copy the walk, gestures, manner of speaking, tone of voice, demeanour, and affectations of prostitutes. [He is writing about hijras here.] Other secret crimes are also carried on in India, and especially among the Mahomedans; but decency will not allow me to speak of them. They are the same as those which are mentioned in the Bible (Leviticus xviii and xx), and which brought down such terrible punishments on the inhabitants of Canaan who had been guilty of them.

Being hardly able to believe in the possibility of such abominable wickedness, I asked a Brahmin one day whether there was any truth in what I had heard. Far from denying the stories, he smilingly confirmed them; nor did he appear to be even shocked at such iniquity. Indeed he seemed to be quite amused at the confusion and embarrassment that I felt in asking him such questions. At last I said to him: 'How is it possible for one to believe that such depraved tastes exist, degrading men as they do to a far lower level than the beasts of the field, in a country where the union of the two sexes is so easy ?' 'On that point there is no accounting for tastes,' he replied, bursting out into a laugh. Disgusted with this reply, and filled with contempt for the man who was not ashamed to speak thus, I turned on my heel and left him without another word.

From the earliest ages these unnatural offences have been common in the East amongst heathen nations. In the laws that God gave the Israelites, He warns them to be on their guard against these detestable vices, which were known to be very prevalent amongst the inhabitants of the countries they were going to take possession of, and which were one of the chief reasons for their total extermination.
If the Christian religion had done nothing more than [DA 313] render these iniquities revolting and execrable, that alone would be sufficient to ensure our love and respect for it.

It may seem incredible, after what I have just said, when I add that there is no country in the world where greater attention is paid to what may be described as outward propriety. What we call love-making is utterly unknown amongst the Hindus. The playful sallies, the silly jokes, the perpetual compliments, and the eager and unlimited display of attention in which our youths are so profuse would be looked upon as insults by any Hindu lady, even the least chaste, that is, if they were offered to her in public. Even if a husband indulged in any familiarities with his own wife it would be considered ridiculous and in bad taste. To inquire after a man's wife, too, is an unpardonable breach of good manners; and when one is visiting a friend one must be careful never to speak to the ladies of the house.

Thus it is that here below mankind seems incapable of preserving the happy medium. For our part we exceed in one direction by giving way to undue familiarity with persons of the opposite se+; while the Hindus for their part err on the side of reserve. The extreme susceptibility of the latter in this respect is due to the opinion they hold that no mark of affection between man and woman can be either innocent or disinterested. If a European lady is seen taking a gentleman's arm, even though he may profess the profoundest respect for her, nothing would persuade a Hindu that she was not his mistress.

These strict principles of etiquette are instituted into the mind of a Hindu woman from her early youth, and, owing to the severity with which lapses from them are treated in some castes, indiscretions are far less frequent than one would imagine to be the case, considering how early the licentious habits of Hindu men are formed. Whatever may be said to the contrary, Hindu women are naturally chaste. To cite a few examples of unseemly conduct, a few lapses attributable to human frailty, is no proof of their want of chastity as a body, just as it is no proof to cite the shameless conduct of those poor wretches, prostitutes by birth [DA 314] and profession, who follow the armies and live in concubinage with Europeans. I would even go so far as to say that Hindu women are more virtuous than the women of many other more civilized countries. Their temperament is outwardly calm and equable, and though a passionate fire may smoulder underneath, without the igniting spark it will remain quiescent. Is this dormant coldness of disposition to be attributed to the secluded way in which they are brought up, or to the reserved demeanour that is taught them from their infancy, or to the unbridgeable gulf that is fixed between them and their male relatives, with whom the least familiarity is not permissible; or, what is not very likely, can it be put down to climatic influence ? I cannot say. But whoever studies their character and conduct from this particular standpoint as impartially and disinterestedly as I have done, will, I feel sure, be constrained to render the same tribute to their chastity.

[DA 321] The mental faculties of the Hindus appear to be as feeble as their physique. I should say that no other nation in the world could boast of as many idiots and imbeciles. There are, of course, very many sensible, capable persons amongst the Hindus, who possess marked abilities and talents, and who by education have developed the gifts with which nature has endowed them; but during the three hundred years or so that Europeans have been established in the country no Hindu, so far as I know has ever been found to possess really transcendent genius.

Their want of courage almost amounts to absolute cowardice. Neither have they that strength of character which resists temptation and leaves men unshaken by threats or seductive promises, content to pursue the course that reason dictates. Flatter them adroitly and take them on their weak side, and there is nothing you cannot get out of them.

The prudent forethought which prompts men to take heed to their future as well as to their present wants seems almost an unknown quality among the majority of Hindus. They take no thought for the morrow, and all they care about is to gratify their vanity and their extravagant whims for the moment. They are so taken up with the pleasures and enjoyments of the present that they never think of looking beyond to the possible misery and privations that may await them in the future.

This want of forethought is in a great measure responsible for those reverses of fortune which so frequently happen to them, and by which they pass from the greatest wealth and luxury to the bitterest poverty. It is true they bear these sudden transitions from comfort to misery with the most marvellous resignation; but then this resignation is [DA 322] not the outcome of principle or of dignified patience'it is due rather to their apathetic temperament, which makes them incapable of feeling any strong emotion. They enjoy their good fortune mechanically and without thought, and they take their losses with the same calm imperturbability. {[footnote] This imperturbability might more correctly be attributed to the prevailing belief in the doctrine of fatalism.—ED.}

I prefer to think that the ingratitude with which they are so often and so justly accused may be attributed to this phlegmatic disposition, and not to wilful wrongheadedness. Nowhere is a kindness so soon forgotten as among Hindus. Gratitude, which is a feeling that springs up spontaneously in all true hearts, which is a duty that bare justice prescribes, and which is a natural result of benefactions received is a virtue to which the Hindu shuts his heart entirely.

But let us leave this picture, which does not represent a very pleasing side to their character, and let us return to the consideration of their physical peculiarities. It is easy to recognize a Brahmin by a sort of swagger and freedom in his gait and behaviour. Unconsciously, and apparently unaffectedly, he shows by his tone and manner the superiority that his birth, rank, and education have given him. Brahmins have also a peculiar way of talking and expressing themselves. They never make use of the common or vulgar expressions of other castes. Their language is generally concise, refined, and elegant; and they enrich their vocabulary with many Sanskrit words. They have also peculiar modes of expression which the Sudras never use; and their conversation is always interspersed with pedantic proverbs and allegories. Their idioms are so numerous and varied, that though you may think you know their language well, it often happens that you cannot understand them when they are talking familiarly amongst themselves. In speaking and writing they make use of endless polite and flattering terms, often very aptly; but they carry the practice ad nauseam. Their compliments are always exaggerated and high-flown. They think nothing of placing those whom they wish to flatter above the level of their deities; indeed, that is a very usual beginning to a congratulatory speech.

[DA 323] If the language of the Brahmins is rich in gracious and flattering expressions, it is even more so in terms of abuse and coarse, indecent invective. Though they pride themselves on their courtesy and knowledge of the world, when they lose their tempers they are no better than our lowest rag-pickers; and an incredible quantity of disgusting and obscene language pours from their mouths on such occasions.

[DA 334] Vishnavite Brahmins, as well as those of other castes who are particularly devoted to the worship of Vishnu, paint their foreheads with the emblem namam, which gives their faces a most extraordinary, and sometimes even ferocious appearance. The most enthusiastic devotees of this sect paint the same design on their shoulders, arms, breast, and belly; and the Bairagis, a sect who go about stark nČked, often draw it on their hinder parts.
The worshippers of Siva cover their foreheads and various parts of their bodies with the ashes of cow-dung, or with ashes taken from the places where the dead are burned. Some of them smear themselves all over from head to foot; others content themselves with smearing broad bars across the arms, chest, and belly.

Many Hindus who do not belong to any sect in particular smear their foreheads with ashes. Brahmins, with the exception of a very few who belong to some special sect, do not follow this custom, though sometimes, after they have performed their morning ablutions, they draw a little horizontal line with ashes across their foreheads.
The Hindus also display on their bodies many other marks and devices of different colours and designs, which vary according to the different castes, sects, and provinces. It would be difficult to explain the origin and meaning of the greater number of these symbols; those who wear them are often themselves ignorant of their meaning. Some, the pottu amongst the number, appear to have been invented solely for ornament, but there is no doubt that, as a rule, some superstitious meaning is attached to them. Thus the ashes of cow-dung are used in memory of the long penance of Siva and of several other holy personages, who always covered themselves with these ashes in token of humility.
Anyway, the Hindu code of good breeding requires that the forehead shall be ornamented with a mark of some sort. To keep it quite bare is a sign of mourning. It is also a sign that the daily ablutions have not been performed, that a person is still in a state of impurity, or that [DA 335] he is still fasting. If one meets an acquaintance after noon with his forehead still bare, one always asks if it is because he has not yet broken his fast. It would be rude to appear before decent people with no mark whatever on the forehead.
Women attach much less importance than men to this kind of decoration. As a rule, they are satisfied with making the little round pottu mark on the forehead in red, yellow, or black, or else a simple horizontal or perpendicular line in red. But they have another kind of decoration of which they are very fond. It consists in painting the face, neck, arms, legs, and every part of the body that is visible with a deep yellow cosmetic of saffron. Brahmin women imagine that they thereby greatly enhance their beauty, since it makes their skin appear less dusky. Love of admiration no doubt has taught them that this paint gives them an additional charm in the eyes of Hindus, but it produces quite the contrary effect on Europeans, who think-them hideous and revolting when thus besmeared.

No doubt all these daubings appear very ridiculous in our eyes, and it is difficult to believe that it can render any one more attractive, at least according to our way of thinking. But amongst the many artificial means of adornment which caprice and fashion have forced upon us there are several which excite just as much ridicule amongst the Hindus. Thus, for instance, in the days when it was the custom to powder the hair, they could not understand how a young man with common sense could bring himself to appear as if he had the white head of an old man. As to wigs, Hindus are absolutely horrified at seeing a European, holding some important position, with his head dressed out in hair which may have been taken from a leper, or a corpse, or at best from a Pariah or prostitute. To defile one's head with anything so unclean and abominable is regarded by the Hindu as most horrible !

[DA 382] Magic, that art which gives shrewd people such influence over fools, seems to have found a favourite abode in the Peninsula of India. Certainly, in this respect, India has no reason to be envious of the ancient Thessaly or of the city of Colchis, famous for the enchantments of Circe and Medea. True, I am not aware that Hindu sorcerers have retained the power of causing the moon, whether willing or not, to come down from the height of the firmament, but short of this, there is nothing which Hindu magicians are incapable of doing. Thus there is not a single Hindu who does not, during the whole course of his life, dream about sorcery and witchcraft. Nothing in this country happens by chance or from natural causes. Obstacles of every kind, disappointments, unlucky incidents, diseases, premature deaths, barrenness of women, miscarriages, diseases among cattle; in fine, all the scourges to which human beings are exposed are attributed to the occult and [DA 383] diabolical machinations of some wicked enchanter hired by an enemy. Should a Hindu, at the time he is visited by any calamity, happen to be at variance with any one of his neighbours, the latter is immediately suspected and accused of having had recourse to magic to harm him. The accused, of course, never puts up patiently with an imputation so invidious. Anger is engendered, and the flame of discord grows hotter and hotter, until some serious consequences result from this new development.

If the immense progress in enlightenment made by the most civilized nations of Europe has not yet been able to completely eradicate these absurd prejudices, if the rural parts of Europe are still full of people who believe in sorcerers and in their magical charms, and if in the public places of our towns one still sees crowds of impostors in wretched garb professing to furnish those around them with the favours of fortune, is it to be wondered at that in a country like India, plunged as it is in the darkness of gross ignorance and superstition, the belief in magic is carried to the very last point ? Thus it is that at every step one meets with batches of these soothsayers and sorcerers distributing good luck to all comers, and for a consideration unfolding to the view of the rich and of the poor the secrets of their destinies.

But these sorcerers of the lowest rank, whose whole stock-in-trade consists of a large fund of impudence, are not held in much dread. Others there are whose diabolical art knows no bounds, and who are initiated into the most profound secrets of magic. To inspire love or hatred; to introduce a devil into the body of any one, or to expel it; to cause the sudden death of an enemy, or to bring on him an incurable disease; to produce contagious diseases among cattle, or to preserve them against such contagion; to lay bare the closest secrets; to restore stolen or lost articles, &c.; all these are mere bagatelles to such men. The very sight of a person who is reputed to be gifted with such enormous power inspires terror.

These professors of magic are often consulted by persons who wish to avenge themselves on some enemy by means of witchcraft. Their help is also sought by sick folk who are persuaded that their disease has been caused by the [DA 384] casting of some magical spell upon them, and who wish to recover their health by throwing a counter-spell upon those who caused the disease by such means.

The Hindus have several books which treat ex professo of all these follies of the magic art. The principal and most ancient of them is the fourth Veda, called the Atharva Veda. The Brahmins would have it believed that this book has been lost; but it is known that it still exists, and that they keep it in concealment with even greater care than they do the other three. In fact, the magicians being everywhere dreaded and hated, the Brahmins have good reason to conceal everything that may lead to the suspicion of their being initiated in the secret dealings of these impostors. It is, however, certain that magic occupies one of the first places in the list of sciences of which these great men profess to be the sole inheritors, There can be no doubt that their ancestors cultivated the art from time immemorial; and it is not likely that the successors would have neglected so good an example and allowed the practice to fall into disuse. Many Brahmins, moreover, in spite of the restrictions imposed upon them, are known to have made a special study of this mysterious book. Besides, do not their religious sacrifices and their mantrams bear a great resemblance to magical formulae and conjurings ? Furthermore, do not the marvellous effects which they [DA 385] are supposed to produce, and the power ascribed to them of counteracting the will even of the gods themselves, place them on a par with the chimerical attributes which the vulgar mind ascribes to enchantments ?

I happen to have come across a Hindu book treating of the subject in hand, which perhaps few Europeans have yet heard of. It is called the Agrushada Parikshai. The passages which I will here extract from it will never make anybody a sorcerer, but it strikes me that they may not be wholly uninteresting to those who like to meditate on the aberrations and follies of the human mind.
The author begins by investigating the extent of a magician's power. Such power is enormous. A magician is the dispenser of both good and evil; but is more frequently inclined by natural malevolence to do evil rather than good. Nothing is easier for him than to afflict anybody with sicknesses, such as fever, dropsy, epilepsy, stricture, palsy, madness; and, in fine, diseases of all species. But all this is a mere trifle compared with what his art can otherwise do ! It is capable of completely destroying an army besieging a city, and also of causing the sudden death of the commander of a besieged fortress and of all its inhabitants, and so forth.

The Mahomedans in India, being quite as superstitious as the natives of the country, are no less infatuated with the power of magic. It is a well-known fact that the last Mussulman prince who reigned in Mysore, the fanatical and superstitious Tippu Sultan, during his last war, in which he lost his kingdom and his life, engaged the services of the most celebrated magicians of his own country and of neighbouring provinces, in order that they might employ all the resources of their art in destroying by some efficacious operation the English army which was then advancing to besiege his capital, and which he found himself utterly incapable of repelling by force of arms. In this difficult and critical position the magicians very humbly acknowledged their powerlessness; and to save the reputation of their craft they were obliged to maintain that their magical operations, so potent when directed against every other enemy, were utterly ineffectual against Europeans.

[DA 386] But if magic teaches the means of doing evil, it also affords the means of counteracting its pernicious effects. There is no magician so skilful but that others can be found more skilful than he, to destroy the evil effects of his enchantments, and cause them to recoil with all their force upon himself or upon his clients. Apart from the direct influence exercised by themselves, the magicians also possess an ample collection of amulets and talismans, which are looked upon as efficacious against all sorcery and spells, and which are largely distributed, not without payment of course, amongst those who consult them. For instance, there are certain glass beads made magical by mantrams, different kinds of roots, and thin plates of copper engraved with unknown characters, strange words and uncouth figures. These amulets are always worn by Hindus, who, when protected by such talismans, believe themselves quite safe from all kinds of evil.

Secret remedies for inspiring illicit passion, for rekindling the flame of extinct love, and for reviving impaired virility, also fall within the province of these professors of magic, and form by no means the least lucrative part of their trade. It is to such men that a wife always applies when she wishes to reclaim her faithless husband or to prevent him from becoming so. Debauched gallants and lewd women also seek the help of love philtres to seduce or captivate the object of their passion.

I was not a little surprised to find in the book which I am now describing mention made of incubi. But these demons of India are much more mischievous than those of whom the Jesuit Delrio speaks in his Disquisitiones Magicae. By the violence and persistence of their embraces they so tire out the women whom they visit at night under the form of a dog, a tiger, or some other animal, that the unfortunate creatures die of sheer lassitude and exhaustion.

[DA 426] Again, the Gymnosophists, or nČked penitents of India, have never been regarded as mythical personages. Even in the time of Lycurgus, that is to say, nearly nine hundred years before the Christian era, these philosophers enjoyed such a reputation for wisdom and learning that their fame had spread to countries far removed from their own. There is every reason to believe that their fame could only have been established gradually, and that their philosophy dated from a very remote period.

[DA 465] The Story of Appaji, Prime Minister of King Krishna Roya

{[footnote] I have included this little story in the collection of Hindu fiction, because I found it in the same book from which I extracted the others. However, well-informed Hindus have told me that the story has been clothed in the form of fiction simply in order to make it more popular and that it is really founded on historical fact. The memory of the good King Krishna Roya, and of his faithful minister Appaji, is still cherished by the people of India, who speak of him as a prince whose sole care was to render his people happy, in which good work he was most powerfully seconded by his minister. The period of his reign is said to date a short time before the Mahomedan invasion. However whether this little story be fact or fiction, it is none the less a most excellent satire on the credulity of the Hindus.—DUBOIS.}

Before the invasion of the Mussulmans, at a time when the Hindus enjoyed the happiness of being ruled by princes [DA 466] of their own nation, one of these princes, named Krishna Roya, was holding sway over one of the most fertile provinces of Southern India. This benevolent ruler was ever anxious to gain the love and respect of his subjects by doing everything in his power to make them happy; and, in order to attain this end more readily, he always took the most particular care to employ as his ministers and confidential advisers those persons only who by their wisdom, experience, and prudence were capable of affording him wise counsel. His prime minister, Appaji, enjoyed more of his confidence than any other, because he possessed the happy knack of letting his master know the truth about things by means of the most entertaining and striking allegories. One day, when this wise minister was alone with his sovereign, the latter, having nothing particular to do at the moment, asked him to solve the following problem. ' Appaji,' said he, ' I have often heard it said that in their religious and social usages men simply follow a beaten track, blindly and indiscriminately, however absurd such usages may be. Can you prove to me the truth of this assertion and the justice of that famous proverb: Jatra marula, Jana marula ?' {[footnote] The meaning of this is: 'Is it the customs that are ridiculous, or is it the persons who follow them who are ridiculous ?' The answer being: 'It is the people who follow them who are ridiculous.'—DUDOIS}

Appaji, with his usual modesty, promised the king to apply himself to the solution of the question and to give his answer in a few days. Returning home with his mind full of the problem, the minister sent in search of his shepherd who was taking care of his sheep. This man was a simple country boor with a rustic's ordinary intelligence. When the shepherd arrived, Appaji addressed him as follows: '' Hear me, Kuruba; you must instantly lay aside your shepherd's garb and put on that of a sannyasi or penitent, whom you must represent for a few days. You will begin by rubbing your whole body with ashes; you will then [DA 467] take in one hand a bamboo staff with seven knots, and in the other the gourd in which a penitent always carries water, while under your arm you will carry the antelope's skin on which persons of that class must always sit. Thus equipped, you must go without delay to the mountain just outside the town and enter the cave which is to be found on its slope. You must lay your antelope's skin on the floor of the cave, and then squat down on it like a sannyasi, your eyes firmly fixed on the ground, your nostrils tightly shut with one hand, and the other hand resting on the top of your head. Be very careful to play your part properly, and take good care not to betray me. It is possible that the king, accompanied by his whole court and by a great crowd of other people, will come to visit you in the cavern; but whoever presents himself, even though it be I or the king himself, remain perfectly motionless in the posture which I have described to you, looking at nobody, speaking to nobody. And whatever happens, even though they should tear out the hairs one by one from your body, show not the smallest sign of pain, and do not budge an inch. These, Kuruba, are my commands. If by any chance you deviate in the least degree from the instructions which I have given you, you will answer for it with your life; but if on the contrary you follow them punctiliously, you may count upon a magnificent reward.'

The poor shepherd, accustomed all his life simply to look after his sheep, was very diffident as to his ability to change his condition for that of a sannyasi; but the tone of his master was so imperative that he judged it prudent to waive all objections and to obey him blindly. Furnishing himself with all the necessary paraphernalia of his new profession, and thinking over all that he had been ordered to do, he departed for the cave.

Meanwhile Appaji returned to the palace; where he found the king surrounded by his courtiers. Approaching the monarch with a serious air, Appaji addressed him in the following terms:'' Great king, pardon me if at this moment, when surrounded by your wise councillors you are considering the best means of making your people happy'pardon me, I say, if I interrupt you in order to announce to you that the day has come when the gods, pleased with your eminent virtues, [DA 468] have decided to give you a marked token of their favour and of their protection. At the very moment that I am speaking a most wonderful thing is happening in your kingdom and not very far from your royal residence. On the slope of the mountain that lies near to your capital there is a cave in which a holy penitent, who has descended without doubt from the very abode of the great Vishnu has deigned to take up his dwelling. In profound meditation on the perfections of Parabrahma he is wholly insensible to all terrestrial objects; he partakes of no other nourishment than the air which he breathes; not one of the objects that affect the five senses make the slightest impression on him. In a word, it may with truth be said of him that his body alone dwells in this world below, while his soul, his thoughts, and all his feelings are already closely united to the Divinity. I have no hesitation in saying that the miraculous appearance of this holy personage in your kingdom is a manifest guarantee of the interest which the gods take in you and yours.'

These words of Appaji were listened to with astonishment and wonder by the king and his courtiers. The king at once decided to go without delay to visit this illustrious penitent, whose praises the prime minister had sung so highly. And in order that the visit might be made with a dignity worthy of the eminent virtues of him who was the object of it, the king announced that he would go accompanied by his whole court and escorted by his whole army. Furthermore, he caused to be proclaimed to all his subjects by public criers, by the beating of drums, and by the blowing of trumpets, his reasons for making the visit to the mountain; and everybody was invited to follow him. The procession was soon on its way. Never before had such a magnificent gathering been witnessed; never had such a huge multitude of people assembled together. Pleasure was depicted upon every countenance. The air rang with cries of joy; while every one congratulated himself on having lived to enjoy the happiness of looking upon one of the greatest personages that had ever appeared on earth. On his arrival at the cave the king, filled with awe at the sight of so sacred a spot, entered it with all the marks of the most profound respect. It was not long [DA 469] before he descried the form of the illustrious penitent crouching in the strange manner enjoined upon him by the minister, and apparently as motionless as the rocks which formed his retreat. After gazing upon him for some time in silence, the king tremblingly approached, and prostrating himself before him, with his hands joined, addressed him humbly as follows:''Illustrious penitent ! happy is the destiny which allowed me to live until this day, so that I might enjoy the inestimable happiness of looking upon your sacred face. I know not what it is that has procured for me such a wonderful blessing. The little that I have done during my life cannot possibly have rendered me worthy of such a distinction; probably, therefore, it is to the good works of my ancestors or to some good work which I may have accomplished in preceding births that I now owe my good luck. However this may be, the day on which I have seen your sacred feet is certainly the most glorious and happy of my life. In future I have nothing more to desire in this world, for in seeing these sacred feet of yours I have obtained the greatest blessing which could happen to any mortal. The sight of your feet alone is sufficient to wash away all the sins which I have committed both in this generation and in the preceding one. Henceforth I am as pure as the water of the Ganges, and all my desires are accomplished.'

The supposed penitent heard this flattering discourse without evincing the slightest sign that he had heard it and without change either of countenance or posture. The crowd surrounding him, astonished at this indifference, became perfectly convinced that he was a supernatural being, for in no other way could they account for his solemn silence and complete immovability. ' It is evident,' they said, ' that only the body of this holy penitent inhabits this lower world, while his soul and his thoughts must be united to the Divinity whose image he is.' The king, Krishna Roya, in the ecstasy of his religious zeal, and unable to attract a single glance from the holy penitent, addressed him in still more flattering terms in the hope of winning at any rate one look from him. Vain hope, [DA 470] however ! The penitent made not the slightest movement of the head, nor relaxed for one moment the imperturbable gravity of his demeanour.

The prince was just about to leave the cave, when Appaji addressed him as follows:'' Great king, having come so far to visit this grand personage, who will henceforth become an object of public veneration, you must not depart without having received his blessing, or at any rate some gift which will bring you happiness for the rest of your days. Absorbed in meditation, and insensible to the material objects which surround him, this penitent cannot break his silence; nevertheless you should try to obtain something from him, be it only one of the hairs of his body.' The king took the advice of his minister, and, approaching the sannyasi, he tore out with extreme care one of the hairs of his chest, put it to his lips, kissed it devoutly, and then, showing it to the spectators, he cried: ' I will preserve this all my life. I will cause it to be enclosed in a golden locket, which shall always hang about my neck and be the most precious of all my ornaments, thoroughly convinced as I am that so noble a relic will prove to be a talisman against all the untoward accidents of life.'

The ministers and courtiers, in imitation of their master and wishing to participate in the same blessings, surrounded the poor penitent, and each one of them tore a hair from his chest, promising at the same time to preserve it as carefully as the king had done and to honour it as a holy relic. Moreover, the escort of the prince and the huge multitude which had accompanied him, learning what the king and his courtiers had done were determined to follow so good an example; and in a very short time the supposed sannyasi found himself deprived of every hair he possessed, from his feet to his head; for the more devout amongst the multitude did not content themselves with a single one of his hairs, but pulled them out by the handful. The poor Kuruba bore this horrible torture without the slightest complaint or the smallest change of posture, and without even raising his eyes.

On his return to his palace the king hastened to inform his women of the wonderful person whom he had visited, [DA 471] and showed them the relic of which he had become the possessor. The royal ladies, filled with wonder, one by one took the hair between their fingers, kissed it devoutly, pressed it to their eyes, and expressed an eager longing to see this illustrious personage. But as etiquette forbade persons of their se+ and rank to show themselves in public, they supplicated the king to accord them the favour of having the sannyasi brought to the palace, so that they too might enjoy the happiness of looking upon him and plucking out his hairs with their own hands. The king at first refused to grant their request, but, yielding at length to their repeated solicitations, and wishing also to show as much honour to the penitent as lay in his power, he dispatched his whole court and army on foot and on horseback to escort the holy man to the palace. The messengers arrived at the cave while the multitude were still scrambling for the hairs of the sannyasi. The foremost and most distinguished amongst them at once approached the holy penitent. After explaining to him most humbly the object of their mission, they took him in their arms and placed him in a superb palanquin, where he remained in the same posture that he had so carefully maintained. Thereupon he was conducted with the greatest pomp and circumstance through the streets of the town, followed by a multitude of spectators who filled the air with shouts of joy. The poor Kuruba, who had eaten nothing for two days, and who was moreover feeling extremely sore from the rough treatment which he had received, was very far from enjoying all these honours. However, in the hope that the farce would soon come to an end and that he would get his reward, and also fearing to incur the wrath of his master, he managed to keep up his courage and to restrain himself from declaring who he was. ' What have I done'' he nevertheless murmured to himself, ' that I should be made to play a part which so little suits me and which exposes me to so much suffering ? I would a thousand times rather be in the midst of my flock listening to the roars of the tigers in the jungle than be deafened by the shouts and acclamations of this stupid crowd. If I were only with my sheep at the present time I should have had two meals already; but now for two days past I have had [DA 472] nothing to eat at all, and I am still quite in the dark as to when and how all this will end.'

The palace was reached while the supposed sannyasi was turning over all these things in his head. Carried into a superb apartment, he had not long to wait before he was visited by the princesses, who came one by one to prostrate themselves at his feet. Each of them, after gazing at him in wonder and silence for some time, was consumed with the desire of possessing one of his hairs as a relic to be kept in a locket of gold, and to be reckoned as the most precious of their jewels. But in vain they searched every visible part of his body. The crowd of devotees who had preceded them had not left a single hair to be seen. At length, after most careful search, they managed to discover here and there, in the wrinkles of his coarse skin, a few hairs which had escaped notice. With these they were perforce obliged to be content, and having religiously collected them they retired. Thereupon the king ordered that the penitent should be left alone during the night, in order that he might enjoy the repose of which he was so much in need after the fatiguing and painful days which he had passed. Appaji, however, having slipped quietly into the apartment where the poor shepherd was languishing of hunger, fatigue, and anguish, addressed him in the following consoling manner:'Kuruba, the time of thy trial is at an end. Thou hast played thy part most excellently, and I am very pleased with thee. I promised thee a reward. Rest assured that thou wilt get it. Meanwhile lay aside this costume of the penitent and put on thy shepherd's garments again. Go and refresh thyself by good food and peaceful slumber, and to-morrow morning thou shalt return to thy occupation.'
The poor fellow did not require to be told twice. He fled by a secret passage which his master pointed out to him, determined never to allow himself to be entrapped in the same way again.

The next morning the king, accompanied by his principal officials, returned to the apartment where the sannyasi had been left the night before, in order to offer him anew the homage due to his holiness. But what was their surprise to find that he had disappeared ! The circumstance, of [DA 473] course, only contributed to strengthen the faith of the public; and none doubted that this holy sannyasi was really a divine being who under human form had deigned to pay a passing visit to their monarch, and during the silence of the night had returned to the abode of happiness from which he had descended. The appearance of the holy personage, as well as his miraculous disappearance, formed for many days afterwards the sole topic of conversation at the court, in the town, and throughout the entire kingdom, until at length people grew tired of always repeating the same story, and nothing more was heard of it.

A short time after the event Appaji was one day at the court of the king his master, when the latter reminded him of the question which he had asked him to solve, viz. Is it the customs which are ridiculous, or only the men who follow those customs ? Appaji was only waiting for his opportunity of answering; and having obtained an assurance from the king that nothing he said would offend his majesty, if his explanation were sincere and full, he addressed the king as follows:'' Great king, your own conduct solved the question in a manner quite irrefutable, at the time when you visited the cave in the mountain to see the penitent. You will no doubt be astonished to hear that this famous personage is none other than the shepherd who for many years has been looking after my sheep, a stupid and uncouth man who is only capable of inspiring you with the most sovereign contempt ! Yet it is to this very personage that you and your whole court rendered divine honours, and that moreover, on my sole testimony. The multitude followed blindly in your steps, and without trying to get to the bottom of the matter, or to gain any knowledge of the object of their devotion, they gave themselves up in an access of religious zeal to honour as a god an unknown and miserable shepherd who has hardly sufficient intelligence to distinguish him from brute beasts. Does not all this afford a most striking proof that men in their religious and civil usages only follow a beaten track ? Thus you yourself have justified the truth of the ancient proverb which says: Jatra marula, Jana marula.'

Krishna Roya, far from being angry with the liberty which Appaji had taken with him in order to bring home [DA 474] to him the truth on a point of such importance, evinced, on the contrary, more affection and confidence than ever towards his minister, and continued to regard him as the most faithful and stanch of all his adherents.

[DA 500] The third condition of Brahmins is that of Vanaprastha that is to say, dweller in the jungle. I doubt if there are any of them left in the country watered by the Indus and the Ganges, where this sect of philosophers certainly [DA 501] flourished at one time in great numbers. The sect has entirely disappeared from the Peninsula of India. In ancient times the desire of sanctifying themselves in solitude and of reaching a higher degree of spiritual perfection induced numerous Brahmins to abandon their residence in towns and their intercourse with mankind, and to go and live in the jungle with their wives, whom they persuaded to follow them. They were favourably received by those who had originally conceived this praiseworthy resolution, and from them they learned the rules of their life of seclusion. These philosophers brought much distinction to the Brahmin caste; and it even seems likely that the Brahmin caste owed its origin to them. They are still revered as the first teachers of the human race and the first lawgivers of their country.

There can be no doubt that it was the fame of these Vanaprastha Brahmins that excited so lively a curiosity in Alexander the Great. They were in fact none other than those Brachmanes and Gymnosophists whose customs, [DA 502] doctrines, and learning have been described by several ancient historians. [Could also have been naga's, sadhus or even Jains instead of vanaprasthas.]

Mention is often made of these hermit Brahmins in the ancient books of India. They are there represented as living in solitary cells, entirely cut off from all intercourse with mankind and from all the distractions of social life, and devoting their whole time to spiritual observances.

[DA 503] The mythologies which relate these adventures, however absurd they may be, at any rate prove in what high estimation these hermits were held, and how ancient is their origin. On this last point I wish to add certain considerations to those which I have already mentioned, and will then leave the subject to my reader s own judgement.

I start again with the very probable hypothesis that in the seven Hindu Penitents who escaped the catastrophe of the Flood, are to be recognized the seven sons of Japheth, some of whom at the time of the dispersion of mankind must have come by way of Tartary and established themselves in India; becoming the first founders of Brahminism and the lawgivers of the families whose descendants peopled this portion of the globe. As is the case with all ancient civilized nations, time wrought changes in the laws which they instituted, regulating religious worship, morality, and the maintenance of social order: indeed, in all the wise measures which they took to preserve the well-being of their fellow-men. This is the common fate of all institutions which do not bear the impress of God. They either collapse altogether or become disfigured under the ever repeated attacks of prejudice, passion, and, above all, personal interest. The simple but wise maxims of the first Hindu lawgivers soon degenerated into an abstract and subtle system of metaphysics, quite beyond the comprehension of all but a few adepts; and these latter, moved by a common ambition to lord it over their fellows, gradually formed an exclusive community isolated from the rest of the nation. The privacy of their life, their frugality, their contempt of riches, the purity of their morals, could not fail to gain for these earliest Brahmins the respect and veneration of the common people.

There can be no doubt that philosophy flourished in India before it had been so much as thought of in Greece. Of what account, in truth, was the learning of Greece, of [DA 504] what account her system of polity, until Pythagoras, Lycurgus, and other famous Greek travellers, animated by the desire of educating themselves, studied the manners and customs of Asiatic peoples, and borrowed, from the Hindus especially, many precepts and doctrines ?

But though the philosophy of the Greeks was of later origin than that of the Vanaprasthas, it soon surpassed the latter in the clearness of its principles and the soundness of its morality. Under the guidance of the Greek philosophers an immense impulse was given to the cultivation of learning; and the most profound and luminous investigations were made regarding the nature of the Deity, until the gods of paganism were shorn of all the false glory which had hitherto surrounded them. The Vanaprasthas had already, it is true, made great progress in this direction; but yielding to the impulses of an unbridled imagination, they soon buried their philosophy beneath a heap of false ideas and vain imaginings with regard to the means of purifying the soul and to the spiritual side of life generally. The ridiculous principles which they enunciated ended by becoming, in their eyes, divinely sanctioned obligations; and from that time forward the wisest Hindus really became the most foolish.

This chimera of soul-purification which they pursued, so to speak, beyond the range of their own reasoning powers, led them from error to error, from pitfall to pitfall, until they likewise dragged down with them the people whose oracles they were.

The question arises, was there ever any connexion between the Hindu Gymnosophists and Zoroaster, or the magi of Persia ? All that I can say in answer to this question is that, though some resemblances may be traced between the Ghebres, or descendants of the ancient Persian fire-worshippers, and the Hindus in the worship which they both render to this element and to the sun, their religious doctrines and customs are in every other respect entirely different. Indeed, so far as I can see, the Hindu religious and political system is sui generis in its very foundations, and contains special characteristics of which no trace can be found in that of any other nation.

Only minute examination can bring to light certain [DA 505] features of resemblance between the moral and religious principles professed by Hindus and those of other ancient schools of philosophy in other countries. Several of the Brahminical rules of conduct correspond closely with those followed by Zeno and the Stoics; their plan of making their pupils learn everything by heart resembles that of the Druids; their taste for a solitary life, like that of the Vanaprasthas, is also shared by the Rechabites, the Therapeutics, the Children of the Prophet, the Magi of Persia, the Essenes of Egypt. But what arguments can be drawn from these feeble analogies to disprove the antiquity and originality of Hindu philosophy ? And possibly it was the Hindus that furnished the original models, while the others only imitated them.

[DA 509] The most common sacrifice among the Vanaprasthas was that of homam. They performed it, ..., by kindling a fire, throwing into it some grains of rice soaked in ghee, and reciting mantrams. Fire seems to have been the object worshipped, and it was offered sometimes specially to the sun, sometimes to all the planets. These hermits also offered other daily sacrifices to the gods, consisting of simple products of nature, such as flowers, incense, rice, vegetables, and fruits. Their whole time was occupied in such sacrifices, repeated several times every day, in ablutions, and in meditation on the perfections of Parabrahma. Though it is certain that sacrifices of blood have been common in India from the remotest ages, we [510] have no evidence that the Brahmins ever participated in them in the character of sacrificers. Such functions were always entrusted to people of other castes; and even Rajahs did not disdain to perform them. In the present day, the Brahmins do not officiate in temples where it is the custom to sacrifice living victims.

There was only one occasion on which the Vanaprasthas could, without scruple, deprive a living creature of existence; it was when they made the famous sacrifice of yagnam, which is still held in great honour among modern Brahmins. A ram is the victim usually offered: but such is the horror with which they regard the shedding of blood, that they either beat the animal to death or strangle it, instead of slaughtering it. Latter-day Brahmins, however, are not all agreed about the lawfulness of this sacrifice.

[DA 511] ... Brahmins possess the exclusive privilege of performing this sacrifice. Other castes may not even be present at it, though by a special grace they are authorized to provide the means of carrying it out.

[DA 512] As soon as the animal is dead, the Brahmin who presides at the ceremony cuts open the stomach and tears out the entrails along with the fat. These he holds suspended over the fire, the fat dropping into it as it melts. At the same time liquefied butter is poured over the fire as a libation.
The victim is skinned and hacked in pieces, which are then fried in butter. A portion is thrown into the fire as an oblation, while the rest is divided between the Brahmin who has presided at the sacrifice and the person who bears the expense of it. These in turn distribute their portions to the Brahmins present, who scramble wildly for the scraps and devour them as something sacred and auspicious. This is particularly remarkable, because it is the only occasion on which the Brahmins may, without committing sin, eat of that which has had life or the germ of life.

[DA 513] The Brahmin who has presided at the yagnam is henceforth considered an important personage. [] ... the fire of the yagnam bears the name of agni-isvara, which means the god of fire, as if it was offered to this element alone.

[DA 517] Except for the first of these hermit Vanaprasthas, most of those who embraced this kind of life gave themselves up entirely to the cultivation of magic and astrology, and, impotent though their mysterious practices were in reality, they were easily able, with the help of their false prestige, to spread terror in feeble and credulous minds. [] ... the sect no longer exists in India.

[DA 518] Alexander the Great, who bent every one to his will, tried in vain to persuade one of the most celebrated of these Vanaprasthas, called Dindime or Dandamis  [dandi swami?], to visit him. However, the Hindu philosopher condescended to write to the conqueror, though the letter attributed to him by the Greek historians is evidently apocryphal, or at any rate interpolated with many embellishments and ideas which would never have occurred to a Gymnosophist. Be that as it may, some report that the Macedonian hero saw in it nothing but impious pride, while others maintain that he admired the writer's noble and philosophic courage.

And how, it may be asked, did these recluses obtain, through penance, perfect wisdom and perfect purity ? The answer is, by three means: by the repression of their animal passions, by meditation, and by the mortification of the flesh and of all the senses; in fact, by complete self -abnegation.
By the first of these means they strove to destroy the three strongest passions to which man is subject, namely, wealth, land, and women; and to free themselves completely from all prejudices in respect of caste, rank, and honours. They further aimed at the repression of the most ordinary and natural impulses, even that of self-preservation. They insisted on their disciples being insensible to cold or heat, wind or rain, pain or sickness. They called this moksha-sadhaka, or the practice of deliverance. It may, therefore, be said that in many respects they were greater stoics than Zeno himself and greater cynics than Diogenes. At the same time it is more than probable that the majority of these Vanaprasthas, while applauding these strict doctrines, left the practice of them to the more enthusiastic.

[DA 519] There are penitents professing the principles of moksha-sadhaka even at the present day. Some of them go about quite nČked, the object of this indecent practice being to convince the admiring public that they are no longer susceptible to the temptations of lust. There is also a class of religious mendicants, called Bairagis, to be met with everywhere, who show themselves in public in a state of nature. [footnote: This would now be punishable by law. —Ed.] [And now, 2001, they're all fully dressed.]

The people evince the greatest admiration for these unclothed devotees, and express the utmost wonder as to how they succeed in controlling a passion which is generally regarded as beyond control. Some say that the Bairagis owe this impotence to extreme sobriety in eating and drinking, while others assert that it is the result of the use of certain drugs. As to their alleged sobriety it is a mere fable. Generally speaking, they eat all kinds of meat and drink all kinds of intoxicating liquors without any shame, [520] the practice of moksha-sadhaka and their status as Sannyasi acquitting them of all blame in this respect. {[footnote] This is only true of the lower types of Bairagis. —Ed.} [And now, 2001, only aghoris would live like this.] According to other authorities, the Bairagis attain this condition by purely mechanical means, that is, they attach to their generative organs a heavy weight which they drag about until the power of muscles and nerves is completely destroyed.

Some of these fanatics [aghoris, again, rather] profess to conquer every feeling of disgust that is innate in a human being. They will even go so far as to eat human ordure without evincing any dislike. Instead of treating these degraded practices with the horror and contempt that they merit, the Hindus regard them with respect and honour, true to their custom of admiring everything that astonishes them.

Meditation, the second means of achieving spiritual perfection, accomplishes what the repression of the passions has only begun. It fills the soul with the thought of God and identifies it with the Divine Being, of which it is an emanation. This union with God is not brought about instantaneously, but gradually, as will be explained elsewhere. It was with the object of accomplishing, little by little, this blessed union with God that the Vanaprastha devoted a considerable portion of each day to meditation, combining this devout exercise with the ordinary sacrifices, particularly the sacrifice to fire, called homan.

The third means of arriving at spiritual perfection 'mortification of the flesh' consists in leading a hard and austere life in rigorous and almost continuous fasting, and in voluntary and self-inflicted punishments, and above all in never omitting the indispensable duty of frequent ablutions.

These Vanaprastha recluses were fully persuaded that the defilements of the soul were communicated to the body and those of the body to the soul. They held that ablutions, while cleansing the body, also possessed the virtue of purifying the soul, especially if they were performed in the Ganges or in some other waters bearing an equal reputation for sanctity.

The purification of the soul was completed by fire; and [DA 521] that is the reason why the bodies of these penitents were burned after death.
Only their fellow Brahmin Vanaprasthas assisted at their funeral ceremonies, which, though fundamentally the same as those of the modern Brahmins, were much simpler and less elaborate. It was thought that the extreme care which the deceased had paid to the purification of himself during life rendered excessive care after death unnecessary and superfluous.

There was one sure and certain way by which the Vanaprasthas might attain to extreme perfection and gain inestimable happiness, and that was in cutting short their lives by throwing themselves into the fire. I do not mean to say that there have been many instances of this violation of the laws of nature amongst the Vanaprasthas. Only a single one has come to my own personal knowledge. I have read in a Hindu book that one of these recluses and his wife, having lived in retirement for a long time, and arrived at a very advanced age, and both of them being equally tired of this world, arranged their own funeral pile, quietly lay down upon it, then set fire to it with their own hands, and were thus consumed together. Having by this act of devotion arrived at the highest state of perfection, their souls were instantly united to the Divinity, and were exempted from reappearing on earth to undergo the successive transmigrations from one body to another which would have been their fate in the ordinary course of events.

There are still fanatics to be found who solemnly bind themselves to commit suicide, under the conviction that by the performance of this mad act they will ensure for themselves the immediate enjoyment of supreme blessedness.
The temple of Jagannath (Puri), and other places which superstition has rendered equally famous, have often been the scenes of self-inflicted death. From time to time, too, one comes across lunatics travelling through the country, loudly proclaiming their intention of destroying themselves, and at the same time collecting the money with which to defray the expenses attendant on the solemn execution of their wicked vow. I knew one of these wretches to be the recipient of very considerable sums. He was received with [DA 522] the greatest enthusiasm and respect wherever he went. He was nicknamed 'Sava,' or ' the corpse,' and he always carried upraised in his hand the dagger with which he was going to kill himself; on the point of it was stuck a small lemon. Everything was in readiness for the horrible sacrifice, the victim himself having fixed the day on which it was to be consummated. Immense crowds had assembled out of curiosity, greatly pleased to think they were to witness a horrid sight; but the magistrate of the district, who was a humane and sensible man, caused the hero of the tragedy to be brought before him, took away his dagger, and ordered him to be conducted out of the district, absolutely forbidding him to re-enter the country. A few months afterwards, I learned that the maniac had carried out his dreadful vow on the banks of the Tungabudra, to the delight of an enormous crowd which had colleted to enjoy the revolting spectacle. There is nothing improbable, therefore, in the story told by Diodorus Siculus of the Brahmin Calanus [Kalanos, Kalanath?], who terminated his life by allowing himself to be burnt alive in the presence of Alexander's army.

The above are a few examples of the deplorable and fatal effects of Hindu superstition. Such are the natural results of the foolish theories of ancient philosophers, the most enlightened men of their times, as to the best means of purifying the soul and ensuring certain and everlasting happiness.

The fourth state to which a Brahmin can attain is that of a sannyasi, a state so sublime, according to the Hindu authors, that it ensures, even during the short space of a single lifetime, more spiritual blessedness than an ordinary man could attain in ten millions of regenerations.

[DA 523] The sannyasi is superior to the Vanaprastha, inasmuch as the latter does not wholly renounce the world, being still connected with it to a certain extent by family ties; whilst the sannyasi imposes upon himself the painful sacrifice of leaving his wife and children. Like the Vanaprastha he submits to severe privations, and furthermore takes a vow of poverty and resigns himself to living entirely on alms. Every Brahmin, before becoming a sannyasi, must have been a grahastha; that is to say, he must have been married and have acquitted himself of ' the great debt to his ancestors,' the first and most indispensable of duties in the eyes of a Hindu, that of perpetuating his species.

There are, however, a few examples of Brahmins who have become sannyasis while still young and unmarried. There are also, it is true, many penitents who have always been celibates; but they do not belong to the Brahmin caste.

A Brahmin is not allowed to become a sannyasi in a moment of remorse or from a sudden feeling of enthusiasm. His decision must be the result of calm and deliberate self-examination and reflection, and must be based on a sense of disgust for the world and its pleasures, and on an ardent desire to attain spiritual perfection. He must feel himself capable of complete severance from all earthly affairs. If he experiences the slightest inclination or longing for those things which the rest of mankind struggle for, he will thereby lose all the benefits of his life of penance.

[DA 524] [footnote] One cannot fail to recognize in the Hindu sannyasis a class of men similar to those of the Jews who were imbued with Rabbinical doctrines in connexion with cabala and numbers, and to the Greeks who held the wild theories of Pythagoras' idiotic dreamers who crammed the minds of their fellow-countrymen with foolish notions. We know that the cabala believes the world to be full of spirits, which one can in the course of time resemble, by practising purity of life and meditation. The sannyasi's staff with its seven knots is not merely intended to aid him in walking. It is, like Aaron's rod, an instrument of divination. The seven knots are also not without a mysterious significance. Who has not heard of the perfection of the number seven? The high esteem in which it is held by the Hindus is clearly proved by the numerous sacred places and objects which are always spoken of in groups of seven, such as the Seven Penitents (sapta rishis), the Seven Holy Cities (sapta pura), the Seven Sacred Islands (sapta dwipa), the Seven Seas (sapta samudra), the Seven Sacred Rivers (sapta nadi), the Seven Sacred Mountains (sapta parvata), the Seven Sacred Jungles (sapta arania), the Seven Sacred Trees (sapta vruksha), the Seven Castes (sapta kula), the Seven Inferior and Superior Worlds (sapta loka), &c. [] While on the subject of the sannyasi's staff I might refer to the rods of Moses, of Elisha, and of the prophets; the augur's staff, the pastoral staffs of the Fauns and the sylvan deities, and those of the Cynics; but I will leave to the intelligent reader the task of making what comparisons he thinks proper.

[DA 525][footnote] In times of great tribulation the Jews used to cover themselves with sackcloth and ashes in token of their sorrow and deep repentance for their sins. This was the way in which the Ninevites showed their repentance. In France, in several religious houses, it was the duty to lie on ashes when at the point of death. The Council of Benevento in 1091 ordained that the faithful should put ashes on their heads on the first day of Lent to promote a spirit of humiliation and penance during that holy season, by bringing to their recollection the words of the Holy Scripture: 'Memento, homo quis pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.'

[DA 526] To save this trouble many sannyasis cause their disciples to pull out the hairs of their head and beard one by one. Some sannyasis neither cut their hair nor shave their beards, but plait them up in some ridiculous way. These, however, do not belong to the Brahmin caste.

[DA 529] This duty of meditation, to which Hindus attach so much importance, appears to me to be so remarkable a practice for idolaters, that I have thought it incumbent on me to call special attention to it. The details that I am about to relate will show to what extremes superstition and fanaticism will pervert men's minds, especially when they are connected with self-conceit and a longing for notoriety.

The doctrine of meditation is called yogam, and from it the word yogi is derived, which is the name usually given to a tribe of vagabonds who are erroneously supposed to devote themselves entirely to this practice. {[footnote] This is too sweeping an assertion. All yogis are not vagabonds. —ED.}

[DA 533] As this word aum is composed of three letters, which in writing form only one, we may consider that the a is Brahma, the u Vishnu, and the m Siva. The sign representing these three letters, which in combination form the sabda-brahma, ends with a semi-circle with a dot in the centre, which is called bindu, and is the emblem of the purely spiritual being.

[DA 535] They have, by way of supererogation, eighteen kinds of tapasas or corporal penances, of increasing degrees of severity. A recluse selects the one for which he feels most inclination. Among the most painful may be mentioned that which consists in being exposed, stark nČked, to the sun for the whole day in the hottest weather, and surrounded on all sides by huge fires [panchagni]; and that in which the devotee remains for a whole day immersed up to the neck in cold water, with a wet cloth round the head, during the coldest season of the year. These are called panchatapasas (the five penances).

One often sees devotees holding their arms folded above their heads, in which position they remain till the nerves become so strained and benumbed by the prolonged tension that they cannot regain their normal position [urdhvabahu].

Others, again, stand on one foot, holding the other foot in the air until the leg swells and inflames and breaks out all over into sores [khareshwari].

Hindu books are full of the merits of these yogams and tapasas. Amongst other self-inflicted tortures they give an honourable place to one which is in fact the ne plus ultra of its kind. It consists in holding the breath for such a length of time that the soul, forced to depart from the [DA 536] body makes a passage for itself through the top of the head and flies off to reunite itself to Parabrahma.

But let no one carry away the idea that the majority of modern recluses feel any inclination to subject their bodies to such rough usage. Most of them rest content with sitting motionless, their eyes closed and their heads bent spending their whole time and energy in thinking of nothing, and keeping their minds an utter blank.

[DA 538] Vanaprasthas, like ordinary Brahmins, are burned after death; but sannyasis are invariably buried, no matter what their rank or sect may be.

[DA 539] After the corpse has been washed in the usual manner, it is wrapped in two clothes dyed yellow with kavi. It is then rubbed all over with ashes, and a chaplet of large seeds called rudrakshas is fastened round the neck. While this is going on the other Brahmins play on bronze castanets, which make an ear-splitting noise.
Everything being in readiness for the obsequies, the body is placed, with its legs crossed, in a large bamboo basket, which is hung from a strong bamboo pole by ropes of straw. This basket is borne by four Brahmins. The grave must be dug near a river or a tank, and must be about six feet deep and circular in form. When they reach the spot the Brahmins deposit at the bottom of the grave a thick layer of salt, on which they place the deceased, with the legs still crossed. They then fill the hole with salt till it reaches the sannyasi's neck, pressing it well down so that the head may remain immovable. On the head thus left exposed, they break innumerable cocoanuts until the skull is completely fractured. {[footnote] The object of this is to free the prana (life), which is believed to be imprisoned in the skull. —Ed.} They then, for the third time, throw in salt in sufficient quantities to entirely cover the remains of the head. Over the grave they ere+t a kind of platform, or mound, three feet in height, on the top of which they place a liñgam of earth about two feet high. This obscene object is immediately consecrated by the Brahmins, who offer to it a sacrifice of lighted lamps, flowers, and incense, and for neiveddya, bananas and paramannam, a dish to which the Brahmins are particularly partial, and which is composed of rice, cocoanut, and sugar. While these offerings are being made, hymns are sung in honour of Vishnu, all present screaming at the top of their voices.

[DA 558] Several modern philosophers have maintained that Pythagoras attached only an allegorical sense to the doctrine of metempsychosis. The most general opinion is that he taught it merely as an abstract religious doctrine. He is said to have borrowed it from the Egyptians, who, if we are to believe Herodotus, were its inventors. But the communications between Pythagoras and the Brahmins and Gymnosophists of India lead one to suppose with quite as much reason that he borrowed it from these Indian philosophers, for we know that the Hindus have never copied anything from contemporaneous nations. If it be true that at the time of the travels of Pythagoras the doctrine of metempsychosis was professed by the Egyptians, they had probably taken their ideas from the same sources [559] as the people of India, if indeed they had not actually borrowed them from the latter. It is certain, furthermore, that it is not in this alone that the metaphysics of Pythagoras present some features of resemblance to those of the Gymnosophists. Again, we know that Pythagoras travelled for his own instruction, and it has never been contended that he taught anything to the peoples of Asia whom he visited. Besides, various Hindu books, which undoubtedly existed before the time of Pythagoras, are filled with this doctrine of metempsychosis and treat of it as an article of their primitive faith, which had been well established before his time. Anyhow, whoever the originator of it may be, it is none the less wonderful that such a chimerical system was not only acknowledged in almost the whole of Asia, but has even found credence in various other parts of the world. It is well known that Caesar found it in full force amongst the Gauls; {[footnote] 'Druides in primis hoc volunt persuadere, non interire animas sed ab aliis post mortem transire ad alios; atque hoc maxime ad virtutem excitari putant, metu mortis negIecto' (De Bello Gallico, vi. 14). Most heretics of the primitive Church, to say nothing of the Jews of later times, believed in this monstrous superstition, which was recognized also by Origen. —Dubois.} and one is astonished to find that enlightened men like Socrates and Plato made these fantastic theories the object of their serious speculations. Have we not seen modern writers, too, contending that the doctrine of metempsychosis is a masterpiece of genius? They have indeed maintained that Aristotle admitted the transmigration of the soul of one man into another, though it is proved that he rejected as absurd the idea of the transmigration of human souls into the bodies of beasts.

In consequence of this belief Pythagoras deprecated the eating of the flesh of any living creature, lest perchance a son might feed on the body of his father and thus repeat the horrible feast of Thyestes. The most zealous of his disciples ate only vegetables; and they even excluded beans from their meals. In the same way the Brahmins still refuse to eat onions' mushrooms, and certain other vegetables. Still, the example of these more. rigorous disciples of Pythagoras found few imitators among the rest.

Either Pythagoras conceived a false impression of the [DA 560] motives of the abstinence which he had seen practised by the Hindus, or else he wished to excel them and to exaggerate their system according to his own manner.

[DA 560] As a matter of fact, everything induces us to believe that the Hindus, though foolish enough in many respects, are not so foolish as to believe, when they show repugnance to feeding on anything which has had life, that they might be feeding on the limbs of their ancestors. In proof of this I may remark that the Lingayats, that is to say the followers of Siva, reject in toto the doctrine of metempsychosis, yet they abstain from animal food more religiously than the Brahmins themselves.

The fear of pollution and the horror of murder are in fact the principal causes of the antipathy of Hindus to this kind of food. Their primitive teachers, as I have already remarked, simply had in view, when counselling such abstinence, the preservation of useful animals, and also the preservation of health. It was superstition, impetuous as a flood, that always tended to overflow the banks of reason.

We have already seen how susceptible and fastidious a respectable Hindu is in the matter of pollution. How then could a meat diet agree with his principles in this respect ? The putrefaction of animals, which in a hot country manifests itself so quickly and in so disagreeable a manner; the comparative facility, on the other hand, with which products of the earth and other inorganic substances can be kept from the putrefying influence of the sun; the horror, so strongly felt, of feeding on the remains of a dead body; and a number of other prejudices which the leaders of the Hindu religion have been interested in fostering, are reasons sufficiently powerful to act upon minds prepared for them by custom and education. Let us add to these considerations the horror inspired by murder among Hindus in general'a horror which is so great in the case of many that it induces them to spare even the lives of filthy and troublesome insects; for the Brahmins are persuaded that there is no difference between the souls of men and those of the vilest of living things. Hence they hold that there is, morally speaking, as much crime in crushing an ant as in committing a murder.

[DA 561] The majority of the Sudras feel no scruples, it is true, in killing animals and eating their flesh, the cow alone excepted. They even include in their ranks butchers and professional hunters, such as the Boyas or Baiders who inhabit the jungles and mountains and live on the products of the chase. But it is also proper to remark that it is this violation of a respected usage which in a great measure brings upon them the contempt of the higher castes.

At first the doctrine of metempsychosis appears to have been limited to the successive transmigrations of souls into various human bodies. Later on, however, it received a new expansion, viz. that the souls could migrate to the bodies of beasts and to all material objects. The Platonic philosophers, who were ridiculed for assuming that the soul of a king might enter the body of a monkey, or that of a queen the body of a grasshopper, tried to evade the difficulty by reducing the doctrine to its primitive simplicity, that is to say, by limiting the transmigration of the souls of men to human bodies and those of beasts to their own species. Plotinus and Porphyry even ventured to assert that is was thus that their master had intended it to be understood. But their retractation was too late. It is always a mistake to endeavour to restore a building which is not solid in its foundations. The Hindus, who are more persevering and less exposed to the contradictions of enlightened men, have religiously preserved their own doctrine of metempsychosis in all its entirety.

After all, the doctrine seems to have been invented merely to justify, under a gross allegory, the ways of the Supreme Being in the dispensation of rewards and punishments. The first doctrinal article admitted by the Hindus is common to the Pythagoreans; namely, that sin ought to be punished and virtue rewarded. This of course does not usually take place in the present life, since very often vice is triumphant and virtue crushed. In order to remedy this the gods who hold the destinies of men in their hands, have decreed that he who during his lifetime has been an unbeliever, a thief, a murderer, &c., shall be born again a creeping insect, a wild animal, an outcaste, blind, poor, &c.

Their notions of pollution pervade everything; so the Hindus believe that a soul after death retains some of the [DA 562] stains and impurities contracted in preceding generations, just as an earthen vessel retains for a long time the odour of any strong liquor which it has contained. This article of belief is illustrated by the example of a woman who had been a fish in an earlier generation, and who, though really a woman in the present, still retained, it is said, an odour which betrayed her first origin. It is necessary therefore that a long succession of generations should cleanse the soul from all the impurities which have polluted it in generations preceding'impurities which will increase indefinitely if people continue to lead dissolute lives.

When the Hindus are asked what is the limit of these transmigrations, they are unable to give any positive answer. Nevertheless their sacred books affirm that a soul only succeeds in getting rid of continual transformations when by long penance and contemplation it has raised itself to that high degree of wisdom and perfection which identifies it with the Supreme Being, that is, with Parabrahma. Before reaching such sublime heights, it must pass through all the trials and temptations to which human weakness has been condemned, and must acquire by its own experience a complete knowledge of good and evil. It begins its transmigrations under the form of the vilest insects, and rises little by little to the condition of man, in which state the spark of wisdom concealed in it after having remained stationary for millions of years, is at length developed and imperceptibly leads to that state of perfection and purity which puts an end to changeful existence. In not assigning definite periods to each transmigration of the soul the Hindu philosophers seem to be wiser than the followers of Plato, who, with absurd presumption, have seen fit to assign fixed and definite periods 'in some cases three thousand, and in others ten thousand years. Further, according to the latter, the transmigration is not left to chance; each soul has its choice of abode according to the inclinations of the man in whose body it has sojourned. Thus the soul of Agamemnon passed into the body of an eagle; that of Orpheus animated a swan, that of Ajax, a lion, that of Thersites, an ape, &c.

All this is simply ridiculous. But the stumbling-block of the system is recollection of the past. Since the body is [DA 563] only a prison, a shell, how is it that the soul, as soon as it has quitted its abode, loses all remembrance of what has befallen it ? Pythagoras, it is true, used to relate to his disciples what he had successively been since the siege of Troy. But the merest caviller among them might have offered the following objection: ' Since you so well remember what you have been before your present actual existence, why do I not remember in the same manner ?' Pythagoras would no doubt have answered just as the Hindus answer, namely, that the gift of remembrance is granted only to certain privileged souls, and that they obtain it by reciting certain appropriate mantrams. Unfortunately, these mantrams are not unlike the waters of the Fountain of Youth, of which every one boasts to be the owner, but the whereabouts of which nobody knows. Plato, who was too enlightened not to recognize this weak side of the system, invented the river Lethe. The souls were obliged to drink its waters before returning to the world, and thereby entirely forgot the past. The invention of this fiction required neither ingenuity nor wit. The Hindus cut the knot more freely. They say that the act of regeneration suffices to make one forget all that has been seen or done before. A child under two or three years of age does not remember one day what he did the day before; still more therefore will he forget what he was and what he did before his new birth.
This explanation is at least more simple than that of Plato, if it is not equally ingenious.

[DA 566] The Hindus recognize several Abodes of Bliss for the souls of those who have expiated their sins by repeated transmigrations and by the practice of virtue. There are four principal abodes: The first is Swarga, where Indra the divinity presides, and where all virtuous souls, without distinction of caste or se+ are to be found.
The second is Vaikuntha, the paradise of Vishnu, where dwell his particular followers, Brahmins and others.
The third is Kailasa, the paradise of Siva, which is reserved for the devout worshippers of the liĖgam.
The fourth is Sattya-loka (the Place of Truth), the paradise of Brahma, where only virtuous Brahmins have the right to enter.
The pleasures enjoyed in these several abodes are all corporal and sens-al.

[DA 582] It is forbidden to make idols of wood or other easily destructible material. I know only one, that of the goddess Mari-amma, which is of wood. [But then, what about the three wooden idols at Jagannath Puri?] For this image the wood of a certain tree is employed, the trunk of which is red inside, and which, when cut, exudes a sap the colour of blood, a characteristic which accords well with the merciless nature of this cruel divinity.

[DA 584] The courtesans or dancing-girls attached to each temple [DA 585]... are called devadasis (servants or slaves of the gods), but the public call them by the more vulgar name of prostitutes. And in fact they are bound by their profession to grant their favours, if such they be, to anybody demanding them in return for ready money. It appears that at first they were reserved exclusively for the enjoyment of the Brahmins. And these lewd women, who make a public traffic of their charms, are consecrated in a special manner to the worship of the divinities of India. Every temple of any importance has in its service a band of eight, twelve, or more. Their official duties consist in dancing and singing within the temple twice a day, morning and evening, and also at all public ceremonies. The first they execute with sufficient grace, although their attitudes are lascivious and their gestures indecorous. As regards their singing, it is almost always confined to obscene verses describing some licentious episode in the history of their gods. Their duties however, are not confined to religious ceremonies. Ordinary politeness (and this is one of the characteristic features of Hindu morality) requires that when persons of any distinction make formal visits to each other they must be accompanied by a certain number of these courtesans. To dispense with them would show a want of respect towards the persons visited, whether the visit was one of duty or of politeness. {[footnote] This custom is certainly not observed at the present day.—ED.}

These women are also present at marriages and other solemn family meetings. All the time which they have to spare in the intervals of the various ceremonies is devoted to infinitely more shameful practices; and it is not an uncommon thing to see even sacred temples converted into mere brothels. They are brought up in this shameful licentiousness from infancy, and are recruited from various castes, some among them belonging to respectable families. It is not unusual for pregnant women with the object of obtaining a safe delivery to make a vow, with the consent of their husbands, to devote the child that they carry in their womb, if it should turn out a girl, to the temple service. They are far from thinking that this infamous vow offends in any way the laws of decency, or is contrary [DA 586] to the duties of motherhood. In fact no shame whatever is attached to parents whose daughters adopt this career.

The courtesans are the only women in India who enjoy the privilege of learning to read, to dance, and to sing. A well-bred and respectable woman would for this reason blush to acquire any one of these accomplishments. {[footnote] In these days female education is slowly extending to all classes and the prejudice which formerly existed no longer applies to women learning to read and sing, though dancing is still restricted to the professional dancing-girls, and is not considered respectable.—ED.}

The deva-dasis receive a fixed salary for the religious duties which they perform; but as the amount is small they supplement it by selling their favours in as profitable a manner as possible. In the attainment of this object they are probably more skilful than similar women in other countries. They employ all the resources and artifices of coquetry. Perfumes, elegant costumes, coiffures best suited to set off the beauty of their hair, which they entwine with sweet-scented flowers; a profusion of jewels worn with much taste on different parts of the body; graceful and voluptuous attitudes: such are the snares with which these sirens allure the Hindus, who, it must be confessed, rarely display in such cases the prudence and constancy of a Ulysses.

Nevertheless, to the discredit of Europeans it must be confessed that the quiet seductions which Hindu prostitutes know how to exercise with so much skill resemble in no way the disgraceful methods of the wretched beings who give themselves up to a similar profession in Europe, and whose indecent behaviour, cynical impudence, obscene and filthy words of invitation are enough to make any sensible man who is not utterly depraved shrink from them with horror. Of all the women in India it is the courtesans, and especially those attached to the temples, who are the most decently clothed. Indeed they are particularly careful not to expose any part of the body. I do not deny, however, that this is merely a refinement of seduction. Experience has no doubt taught them that for a woman to display her charms damps sens-al ardour instead of exciting it, and that the imagination is more easily captivated than the eye.

[DA 587] God forbid, however, that any one should believe me to wish to say a word in defence of the comparative modesty and reserve of the dancing-girls of India ! Actions can only be judged by their motives; and certainly, if these Indian women are more reserved in public than their sisters in other countries which call themselves more civilized, the credit is due not to their innate modesty but to national prejudice. In fact, however loose the Hindus may be in their morals, they strictly maintain an outward appearance of decency, and attach great importance to the observance of strict decorum in public. The most shameless prostitute would never dare to stop a man in the streets; and she in her turn would indignantly repulse any man who ventured to take any indecent liberty with her. The man who behaved familiarly with one of these women in public would be censured and despised by everybody who witnessed the scandal. Is it the same among ourselves ?

[DA 593] .... we see women who are slower in conceiving children than they would wish, hastening from temple to temple, and sometimes ruining themselves in the extravagant gifts which they offer in order to obtain from the gods the inestimable favour of becoming mothers. Expert at reaping profit from the virtues as well as the vices of their countrymen, the Brahmins see in these touching impulses of nature merely a means of gaining wealth, and also at the same time an opportunity of satisfying their carnal lusts with impunity. There are few temples where the presiding deity does not claim the power of curing barrenness in women. And there are some whose renown in this respect is unrivalled, such, for example, as that of Tirupati in the Carnatic, to which women flock in crowds to obtain children from the god Venkateswara. On their arrival, the women hasten to disclose the object of their pilgrimage to the Brahmins, the managers of the temple. The latter advise them to pass the night in the temple, [594] where, they say, the great Venkateswara, touched by their devotion, will perhaps visit them in the spirit and accomplish that which until then has been denied to them through human power. I must draw a curtain over the sequel of this deceitful suggestion. The reader already guesses at it. The following morning these detestable hypocrites, pretending complete ignorance of what has passed, make due inquiries into all the details; and after having congratulated the women upon the reception they met with from the god, receive the gifts with which they have provided themselves and take leave of them, after flattering them with the hope, that they have not taken their journey in vain. Fully convinced that the god has deigned to have intercourse with them, the poor creatures return home enchanted, flattering themselves that they will soon procure for their husbands the honour of paternity.

[DA 595] At Mogur, another village situated a short distance from the former (Nanjangud), there is a small temple dedicated to Tipamma, a female divinity, in whose honour a great festival is celebrated every year. The goddess, placed in a beautifully ornamented palanquin, is carried in procession through the streets. In front of her there is another divinity, a male. These two idols, which are entirely nude, are placed in immodest postures, and by help of a piece of mechanism a disgusting movement is imparted to them as long as the procession continues. This disgusting spectacle, which is worthy of the depraved persons who look upon it, excites transports of mirth, manifested by shouts and bursts of laughter. Nor is this all. A Pariah, who has made a special study of all the obscene and filthy expressions to be found in the Hindu language, is chosen; the goddess Tipamma is then evoked and takes up her abode in his person. Then any one who wishes to hear foul expressions stands before the man, and he is certain to be satisfied.

[DA 596] In the whole of Southern Mysore, from Alambadi as far as Wynaad, for a distance of more than thirty leagues, these abominable revels are held in highest esteem.
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There are temples in certain isolated places, too, where the most disgusting debauchery is the only service agreeable to the presiding deity. There children are promised to women who, laying aside all shame, grant their favours to all persons indiscriminately. At such places a feast is celebrated every year in the month of January, at which both sexes, the scum of the country-side meet. Barren women, in the hope that they will cease to be so, visit them after binding themselves by a vow to grant their favours to a fixed number of libertines. Others, who have entirely lost all sense of decency, go there in order to testify their reverence for the deity of the place by prostituting themselves, openly and without shame, even at the very gates of the temple.

There is one of these sinks of iniquity ... on the banks of the Cauvery, in a lonely place called Junginagatta. The temple is not striking to look at; but the January feast is celebrated there with the utmost refinements of vice.

People have also pointed out to me a temple of the same description near Kara-madai, in the district of Coimbatore, and another not far from Mudu-dorai, in Eastern Mysore.
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According to Herodotus and Strabo, every woman among the Assyrians and Babylonians was obliged to prostitute herself once in her life in the temple of the goddess Mylitta, the Aphrodite of the Greeks. This tradition so flagrantly [DA 597] defied the principles of modesty with which nature seems to have endowed even the majority of brute beasts that many modern writers, and among them Voltaire, have called its truth in question. What would they say of the infamous festivals of which I have just drawn a sketch? The authority of husbands is moreover such that it is impossible for debauchery of this kind to be carried on without their consent. But does superstition know any bounds?

[DA 600]  We must do justice to the Brahmins by remarking that they are never so silly as to impose on themselves vows of self-torture. They leave these pious pastimes to the stupid Sudras. And even the Sudras who practise such penances are for the most part men of low birth who do so to gain [DA 601] their livelihood; or else fanatical sectaries of Siva or Vishnu, actuated by religious mania, or more often by an inordinate desire of securing the applause and admiration of the public.

Apart from ordinary superstitious practices which flourish everywhere, there are certain temples which, in this respect, enjoy special privileges; such, for example, as that of Tirupati in the south of the Peninsula. This temple, which is in the Carnatic, is dedicated to Vishnu under the name of Venkateswara. Immense multitudes of pilgrims flock to it from all parts of India, bringing offerings of all sorts, in food, stuffs, gold, silver, jewels, costly cloths, horses, cows, &c., which are so considerable that they suffice to maintain several thousands of persons employed in the various offices of worship, which is there conducted with extraordinary magnificence.

Among the noticeable peculiarities which distinguish the great feasts of this temple there is one which I must not pass over in silence. At a certain time of the year a grand procession is formed, which attracts an immense crowd of persons of both sexes. While the image of Venkateswara is borne through the streets on a magnificent car, the Brahmins who preside at the ceremony go about among the crowd and select the most beautiful women they can find, demanding them of their husbands or parents in the name of Venkateswara, for whose service, it is asserted, they are destined. Those husbands who have not lost all common sense, understanding, or at least suspecting, that a god of stone has no need of wives, indignantly refuse to deliver up theirs, and bluntly speak their mind to the hypocritical rogues. The latter, far from being disconcerted, proceed to apply to others who are better disposed, for some of the men are delighted at the honour conferred upon them by so great a god in condescending to ally himself with their family, and do not hesitate to deliver their wives and even their daughters into the hands of his priests. {[footnote] Such proceedings would hardly be tolerated in the present day. —ED.}

It is thus that the seraglio of Tirupati is recruited. When the god takes it into his head that some of his wives are [DA 602] beginning to grow old or are no longer pleasing to him he signifies through the priests his intention of divorcing them. A mark is branded on their thighs or breasts with a red-hot iron representing the god Venkateswara, and they receive a certificate showing that they have faithfully served a certain number of years as legitimate wives of the god and are therefore recommended to the charitable public. Then they are dismissed and provided with their certificate of good conduct they go about the country under the name of Kali-yuga-Lakshmis (the Lakshmis of Kali-yuga). Wherever they go their wants are abundantly supplied.

This system of procuring wives for their idols is not a peculiarity of the temple of Tirupati. The priests of many other temples have found it convenient to have recourse to it as for instance those in charge of the temple of Jagannath, which is even more famous than the temple of Tirupati. Religious ceremonies are conducted in this temple with the greatest magnificence. It is situated near the sea on the coast of Orissa. The principal divinity worshipped there is represented under a monstrous shape without arms or head. What particularly distinguishes this pagoda is that it is a centre of union among the Hindus~ Although it is specially consecrated to Vishnu, there are no distinctions between sects and castes. Everybody is admitted and may offer worship in his own way to the presiding deity. Accordingly pilgrims resort thither from all parts of India; the disciples of Vishnu and of Siva frequenting it with equal zeal. The Bairagis and the Goshais from the North, the Dasarus and the Jangamas from the South, lay aside their mutual animosities when they approach this sacred place, and it is perhaps the only spot in India where they do so. While sojourning there they seem to form but one brotherhood. It is at this temple especially that one sees the religious fanatics, of whom I have already spoken above, throwing themselves before the car of the idol and allowing themselves to be crushed beneath its wheels.

Several thousands of persons, chiefly Brahmins, are [DA 603] employed in the performance of the religious ceremonies of the temple. The crowd of pilgrims never abates. Those from the South who go on a pilgrimage to Kasi or Benares always take the Jagannath (Puri) road up the coast in order to offer en route their respectful homage to its presiding deity. Those from the North who go to the temple of Rameswaram which is situated on a small island near Cape Comorin also take this road.

I have made mention elsewhere of a tank or reservoir of sacred water which is found at Kumbakonam in Tanjore, and which possesses the virtue once in every twelve years of purifying all those who bathe in it from all spiritual and corporal infirmities and from all sins committed during many generations. When the time for this easy means of absolution draws nigh an almost incredible number of pilgrims flock to the spot from all parts of India

A t Palni, in Madura, there is a famous temple consecrated to the god Velayuda, whose devotees bring offerings of a peculiar kind, namely large sandals, beautifully ornamented and similar in shape to those worn by the Hindus on their feet. The god is addicted to hunting, and these shoes are intended for his use when he traverses the jungles and deserts in pursuit of his favourite sport. Such shabby gifts one might think would go very little way towards filling the coffers of the priests of Velayuda. Nothing of the sort : Brahmins always know how to reap profit from anything. Accordingly the new sandals are rubbed on the ground and rolled a little in the dust and are then exposed to the eyes of the pilgrims who visit the temple. It is clear enough that the sandals must have been worn on the divine feet of Velayuda and they become the property of whosoever pays the highest price for such holy relics.

It does not enter into my calculations to offer a complete account of all the extravagant absurdities which abound in the idolatrous worship of the Hindus or of an the tricks and subterfuges, more or less clumsy, by means of which the hypocritical and crafty priests foster the faith of the [DA 604] people while they increase their own comfort. A subject of this nature would be inexhaustible, and in order to treat it fully I should require many volumes. I believe I have said enough, however, to give a fairly good idea of the rest. But I must add a few words concerning the religious processions of the Hindus, which in their eyes are a matter of no small importance.

There is not a single temple of any note which has not one or two processions every year. On such occasions the idols are placed on huge massive cars supported on four large solid wheels, not made, like our wheels, with spokes and felloes. A big beam serves as the axle, and supports the car proper, which is sometimes fifty feet in height. The thick blocks which form the base are carved with images of men and women in the most indecent attitudes. Several stages of carved planking are raised upon this basement, gradually diminishing in width until the whole fabric has the form of a pyramid.

On the days of procession the car is adorned with coloured calicoes, costly cloths, green foliage, garlands of flowers, &c. The idol, clothed in the richest apparel and adorned with its most precious jewels, is placed in the middle of the car, beneath an elegant canopy. Thick cables are attached to the car, and sometimes more than a thousand persons are harnessed to it. A party of dancing-girls are seated on the oar and surround the idol. Some of them fan the idol with fans made of peacocks' feathers; others wave yak tails gracefully from side to side. Many other persons are also mounted on the car for the purpose of directing its movements and inciting the multitude that drags it to continued efforts. All this is done in the midst of tremendous tumult and confusion. In the crowd following the procession men and women are indiscriminately mixed up, and liberties may be taken without entailing any consequences. Decency and modesty are at a discount during car festivals. I have been told that it is common enough for clandestine lovers, who at other times are subject to vexatious suspicion, to choose the day of procession for their rendezvous in order to gratify their desires without restraint.

The procession advances slowly. From time to time a halt is made, during which a most frightful uproar of [DA 605] shouts and cries and whistlings is kept up. The courtesans, who are present in great numbers on these solemn occasions, perform obscene dances; while, as long as the procession continues, the drums, trumpets, and all sorts of musical instruments give forth their discordant sounds. On one side sham combatants armed with nČked sabres are to be seen fencing with one another; on another side, one sees men dancing in groups and beating time with small sticks; and somewhere else people are seen wrestling. Finally, a great number of devotees crawl slowly before the car on hands and knees. Those who have nothing else to do shriek and shout so that even the thunder of the great Indra striking the giants would not be heard by them. But in order to form a proper idea of the terrible uproar and confusion that reigns among this crowd of demoniacs one must witness such a scene. As for myself, I never see a Hindu procession without being reminded of a picture of hell.

The above is only a slight sketch of the religious ceremonies of the Hindus. Such is the spirit of piety which animates them ! Whatever may have been the shameful mysteries, the revolting extravagances of paganism, could any religion be filled with more insane, ignoble, obscene, and even cruel practices?

It is true that human sacrifices are no longer openly tolerated in India. But what matters it ? If the female victim does not fall under the sword of the sacrifice, she is so misled by the perfidious suggestions of the priests that she perishes of her own free will and accord on the funeral pyre, or, what is more horrible, by the very hands of those who have given her existence ! Are not they also human victims, those unhappy widows on whom superstition has imposed the obligation of burning themselves alive ? And what name shall we apply to the destruction of a number of innocent girls condemned to death at their very birth?

These self-same Brahmins, who are afraid of breaking an egg for fear of destroying the germ of a chicken, have they ever expressed the slightest indignation when they have seen parents, more ferocious than tigers, sacrificing all their daughters and preserving only their sons. {[footnote] This execrable custom is prevalent among certain castes of Rajputs and Jats in the North of India. Happily, the efforts made by the Government nowadays to extirpate it have succeeded in making these infanticides less frequent.—DUBOIS.

The Census Report for 1891 states: 'It is pretty certain that the deliberate putting to death of female infants is a practice that in the present day, at all events, is confined to exceedingly narrow limits.... On the whole, even in Rajputana, the Census returns show that the practice must be very restricted in its operation.... But many a girl is allowed to die unattended where medical aid would be at once called in if the son were attacked.' —ED.}

[DA 606] Others, again, with feelings no less unnatural, either drown or expose to wild beasts children who happen to be born under unlucky stars. Furthermore, have they ever, these Brahmins, represented to the people over whom they exercise such paramount influence, how shamelessly they violate nature by placing the sick, whose recovery is despaired of, on the banks of the Ganges, or of some other so-called holy river, so that they may be drowned by the floods or devoured by crocodiles ? Have they ever attempted to restrain the frenzy of those fanatics who, in their mistaken devotion, foolishly allow themselves to be crushed under the wheels of the cars of their idols, or throw themselves headlong into the stream at the junction of the Ganges and the Jumna ? {[footnote] Attempts at suicide are now punishable by law.—ED.}

What a consoling contrast does the sublime religion of Jesus Christ offer to him who knows how to appreciate its blessings ! How inestimable do its holy precepts, its sweet and pure morality, appear in comparison with the hideous and degraded doctrines which I have here so reluctantly sketched!

[DA 688] The Jains are divided into several sects or schools, which differ on the subject of perfect happiness, and on the means of attaining it. One of these sects, known by the name of Kashtachenda Swetambara, teaches that there is no other moksha, that is to say, no other supreme blessedness, than that which is obtained from sens-al pleasures, particularly that which is derived from se+ual intercourse with women. This sect is, it is true, not numerous.


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