TALES FOR LITTLE READERS,
ABOUT THE HEATHEN.
The following work, so far as the Hindoos are concerned, is principally a compilation from the writings of Duff, Dubois, and others.
Should the eyes of any Christian father or mother rest upon it, I would ask them if they have not a son or a daughter to dedicate to the missionary work. The duty of devoting themselves to this work of Christ, or at least, of consecrating to it their money, their efforts, and their prayers, is the great duty to be perseveringly and prayerfully impressed on the minds of our children. A generation thus trained would, with aid from on high, soon effect the moral revolution of the world. Blessed will be that father, blessed will be that mother, who shall take any part in such a training. And I would add, too, blessed will be that pastor, and blessed will be that Sabbath-school teacher, who shall come up to their help.
The Color and Ornaments of the Hindoos
Dress, Houses, Eating, and Salutation of the Hindoos
Marriage among the Hindoos
Death and Funerals among the Hindoos
The Gods of the Hindoos
The Three Hundred and Thirty Millions of the Gods of the Hindoos—The Creation of the Universe—The Transmigration of Souls—The different Hells
Hindoo Temples—Cars—Procession of Idols
Festivals of the Hindoos
The worship of the Serpent
The River Ganges
The Goddess Durga
The Goddess Karle
Self-tortures of the Hindoos
The Suttee, or Burning of Widows
The revengeful Nature of the Hindoo Religion
The Deception of the Hindoos
Superstition of the Hindoos
Burmah, China, etc., etc.
The duty of Praying and Contributing for the Spread of the Gospel
Personal Labors among the Heathen
Success of the Gospel in India and Ceylon
TALES FOR LITTLE READERS,
ABOUT THE HEATHEN.
My dear children—When I was a little boy, my dear mother taught me, with the exception of the last line, the following prayer:
"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take; And this I ask for Jesus' sake."
Though I am now more than fifty years old, I often like to say this prayer before I go to sleep. Have you ever learned it, my dear children? If you have not, I hope that you will learn it now; and I hope, too, that when you say your other prayers at night, you will also say this. I think that you would be glad to see how this prayer looks in the Tamul language—the language in which I am now preaching the Gospel, and in which I hope that some of you will hereafter tell the heathen of the Saviour. The following is a translation of it:
I wish that all the little heathen children knew this prayer; but their fathers and mothers do not teach it to them. Their fathers and mothers teach them to pray to gods of gold, or brass, or stone. They take them, while they are very young, to their temples, and teach them to put up their hands before an idol, and say, "Swammie." Swammie means Lord. As idolatry is the root of all sin, these children, as you may suppose, in early life become very wicked. They disobey their parents, speak bad words, call ill names, swear, steal, and tell lies. They also throw themselves on the ground in anger, and in their rage they tear their hair, or throw dirt over their heads, and do many other wicked things.
Let me give you an instance, to show you how they will speak bad words. A few months ago, a little girl about twelve years of age was brought to me, with two tumors in her back. To cut them out, I had to make an incision about eight inches in length; and as one of these tumors had extended under the shoulder-blade she suffered much before the operation was finished. While I was operating she cried out, "I will pull out my eyes." "I will pull out my tongue." "Kurn kertta tayvun." The translation of this is, "The blind-eyed god." By this expression, she meant to say, "What kind of a god are you, not to look upon me, and help me in my distress?" If this little girl had had a Christian father to teach her to love the Saviour, she would not have used such bad language. But this father was even more wicked than his daughter, inasmuch as those who grow old in sin, are worse than those who have not sinned so long. I never saw a more hard-hearted parent. That he was so, will appear from his conduct after the operation was finished. He left his daughter, and went off to his home, about forty miles distant. Before going, he said to his wife, or to one who came with her, "If the child gets well, bring her home; if she dies, take her away and bury her."
I hope, my dear children, that when you think of the wicked little girl just mentioned, you will be warned never to speak bad words. God will be very angry with you, if you do. Did you never read what is said in 2 Kings, 2d chapter and 23d verse, about the little children who mocked the prophet Elijah, and spoke bad words to him. O, how sorry must they have felt for their conduct, when they saw the paws of those great bears lifted up to tear them in pieces, and which did tear them in pieces. Besides all this, little children who speak bad words can never go to heaven. God will cast them into the great fire. Have you ever spoken bad words? If so, God is angry with you, and he will not forgive you unless you are sorry that you have done so, and seek his forgiveness through the blood of his dear Son.
THE COLOR AND ORNAMENTS OF THE HINDOOS.
My dear children—If you will take a piece of mahogany in your hands, and view its different shades, you will have a pretty good representation of the color of a large class of this heathen people—I say, of a large class, for there is a great variety of colors. Some appear to be almost of a bronze color. Some are quite black. It is difficult to account for the different colors which we often see in the same family. For instance, one child will be of the reddish hue to which I just referred; another will be quite dark. When I was in Ceylon, two sisters of this description joined my church. One was called Sevappe, or the red one; the other was called Karappe, or the black one.
This people very much resemble the English and Americans in their features. Many of them are very beautiful. This remark will apply particularly to children, and more especially to the children of Brahmins and others, who are delicately brought up. But however beautiful any of this people may be, they try to make themselves appear more so, by the ornaments which they wear. These ornaments are of very different kinds, and are made of gold, silver, brass, precious stones, or glass. All are fond of ear-rings. Sometimes four or five are worn in each ear, consisting of solid gold, the lower one being the largest, and the upper one the smallest. Some men wear a gold ornament attached to the middle of the ear, in which a precious stone is inserted. Sometimes they wear very large circular ear-rings, made of the wire of copper, around which gold is twisted so as to cover every part of it. These are frequently ornamented with precious stones. The females, in addition to ear-rings, have an ornament which passes through the rim of the ear, near the head, half of it being seen above the rim, and half of it below it. An ornamental chain is sometimes attached to this, which goes some distance back, when it is lost in the hair. They sometimes also wear a jewel in the middle of the rim of the ear, and another on that little forward point which strikes your finger when you attempt to put it into the ear. Nose jewels also are worn. Sometimes three are worn at the same time. Holes are made through each side of the lower part of the nose, and through the cartilage, or that substance which divides the nostrils, through which they are suspended. The higher and wealthier females wear a profusion of ornaments of gold and pearls around the neck.
A very pretty ornament, about three inches in diameter, having the appearance of gold, is also frequently worn by them on that part of the head where the females in America put up their hair in a knot. In addition to this, the little girls sometimes wear one or two similar but smaller ornaments below this, as well as an ornament at the end of the long braid of hair which hangs down over the middle of their backs. Occasionally the whole, or the greater part of this braid is covered with an ornament of the same materials with those just described. They also wear an ornament extending from the crown of the head to the forehead, just in that spot where the little girls to whom I am writing part their hair. Attached to this, I have seen a circular piece of gold filled with rubies. Rings are worn on the toes as well as on the fingers, and bracelets of gold or silver on the wrists. Anklets similar to bracelets, and tinkling ornaments are worn on the ankles. The poor, who cannot afford to wear gold or silver bracelets, have them made of glass stained with different colors. I have seen nearly a dozen on each wrist.
The little boys wear gold or silver bracelets; also gold or silver anklets. I just alluded to finger-rings. I have seen a dozen on the same hand. In this part of the country, the little opening which is made in the ears of the children is gradually distended until it becomes very large. At first, the opening is only large enough to admit a wire. After this has been worn for a short time, a knife is introduced into the ear in the direction of the opening, and an incision made large enough to admit a little cotton. This is succeeded by a roll of oiled cloth, and by a peculiar shrub, the English name of which, if it has any, I do not know. When the hole becomes sufficiently large, a heavy ring of lead, about an inch in diameter, is introduced. This soon increases the size of the opening to such an extent, that a second, and afterwards a third, a fourth, and a fifth ring are added. By these weights, the lower parts of the ear are drawn down sometimes very nearly, or quite to the shoulders. Not unfrequently the little girls, when they run, are obliged to catch hold of these rings to prevent the injury which they would receive by their striking against their necks. I need hardly say, that in due time, these rings are removed, and ornamented rings are substituted.
A different plan is pursued with the Mohammedan little girls. They have their ears bored from the top to the bottom of the ear. The openings which are at first made are small, and are never enlarged. A ring is inserted in each of these openings. I have seen a little girl to-day in whose ears I counted twenty-four rings.
Flowers in great profusion are sometimes used to add to the adornment of the jewels.
I cannot conclude my account of the jewels of the little girls, without giving you a description of the appearance of a little patient of mine who came here a few days ago, loaded with trinkets. I will give it in the words of my daughter, which she wrote in part while the girl was here. "On the 17th, a little dancing-girl came to see us. She was adorned with many jewels, some of which were very beautiful. The jewel in the top of the ear was a circle, nearly the size of a dollar. It was set with rubies. Nine pearls were suspended from it. In the middle of the ear was a jewel of a diamond shape, set with rubies and pearls. The lowest jewel in the ear was shaped like a bell. It was set with rubies, and from it hung a row of pearls. Close by the ear, suspended from the hair, was a jewel which reached below her ear. It consisted of six bells of gold, one above the other. Around each was a small row of pearls, which reached nearly to the bell below, thus forming a jewel resembling very many drops of pearls. It is the most beautiful jewel that I ever saw. In the right side of her nose was a white stone, set with gold, in the shape of a star. From it hung a large pearl. There was a hole bored in the partition between the nostrils. This hole had a jewel in it, about an inch in length, in the middle of which was a white stone with a ruby on each side. It also had a ruby on the top. From the white stone hung another, of a similar color, attached to it by a piece of gold. In the left side of the nose was a jewel about an inch in diameter. It was somewhat in the shape of a half-moon, and was set with rubies, pearls, emeralds, etc. etc. This jewel hung below her mouth. On the back of her head was a large, round gold piece, three inches in diameter. Another piece about two inches in diameter, hung below this. Her hair was braided in one braid, and hung down her back. At the bottom of this were three large tassels of silk, mounted with gold. Her eyebrows and eyelashes were painted with black. Her neck was covered with jewels of such beauty, and of such a variety, that it is impossible for me to describe them. Around her ankles were large rings which looked like braided silver. To these were attached very many little bells, which rung as she walked. I believe all dancing-girls wear these rings. We felt very sad when we thought that she was dedicated to a life of infamy and shame."
There is an ornament worn by the followers of the god Siva, on their arms, or necks, or in their hair. It is called the lingum. The nature of this is so utterly abominable, that I cannot tell you a word about it.
Married women wear an ornament peculiar to themselves. It is called the tahly. It is a piece of gold, on which is engraven the image of some one of their gods. This is fastened around the neck by a short yellow string, containing one hundred and eight threads of great fineness. Various ceremonies are performed before it is applied, and the gods, of whom I will tell you something by and by, with their wives, are called upon to give their blessing. When these ceremonies are finished, the tahly is brought on a waiter, ornamented with sweet-smelling flowers, and is tied by the bridegroom to the neck of the bride. This ornament is never taken off, unless her husband dies. In such a case she is deprived of it, to wear it no more for ever—deprived of it, after various ceremonies, by her nearest female relative, who cuts the thread by which it is suspended, and removes it. After this a barber is called, who shaves her head, and she becomes, in the eyes of the people, a despised widow—no more to wear any ornament about her neck but a plain one—no more to stain her face with yellow water, nor to wear on her forehead those marks which are considered by the natives as among their chief ornaments.
I have now told you something about the jewels of this people. I hope that you will never be disposed to imitate them, and load your bodies with such useless things. They are not only useless, but tend to encourage pride and vanity. All that you need is, the "Pearl of great price," even Jesus. Adorn yourself with this Pearl, and you will be beautiful indeed—beautiful even in the sight of your heavenly Father. Have you this Pearl of great price, my dear children? Tell me, have you this Pearl of great price? If you have not, what have you?
I just now alluded to those marks which the natives consider among their chief ornaments. These are different among different sects. The followers of Siva rub ashes on their foreheads. These ashes are generally prepared by burning what in the Tamul language is called [Tamul:] chaarne. They also apply these ashes in streaks, generally three together, on their breasts, and on their arms. Some besmear their whole bodies with them.
The followers of Vrishnoo wear a very different ornament from that just described. It consists of a perpendicular line drawn on the forehead, generally of a red or yellow color, and a white line on each side of it, which unite at the bottom with the middle line, and form a trident.
Another ornament consists of a small circle, which is called pottu. This is stamped in the middle of the forehead. Sometimes it is red, sometimes yellow or black. Large numbers of women, in this part of the country, wash their faces with a yellow water, made so by dissolving in it a paste made of a yellow root and common shell-lime. The Brahmins frequently instead of rubbing ashes, draw a horizontal line over the middle of their foreheads, to show that they have bathed and are pure. Sometimes the people ornament themselves with a paste of sandal-wood. They rub themselves from head to foot with it. This has a very odoriferous smell.
When the people are loaded with jewels, and covered with the marks which I have just described they think themselves to be highly ornamented But after all, "they are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." The "Pearl of great price," to which I before alluded, the only Pearl which is of any value in the sight of Him who looketh at the heart, and not at the outward appearance, they possess not. Millions in this Eastern world have never even heard of it. O how incessantly ought you to pray that they may come into possession of it. How gladly should you give your money to send it to them. I wish, in this place, to ask you one question. Who of you expect, by and by, to become missionaries to this land, to tell this people of the Pearl of great price?
DRESS, HOUSES, EATING, AND SALUTATION OF THE HINDOOS.
My dear Children—The dress of the Hindoos is very simple. A single piece of cloth uncut, about three yards in length and one in width, wrapped round the loins, with a shawl thrown over the shoulders, constitutes the usual apparel of the people of respectability. These garments are often fringed with red silk or gold. The native ladies frequently almost encase themselves in cloth or silk. Under such circumstances, their cloths are perhaps twenty yards in length. Most of the native gentlemen now wear turbans, an ornament which they have borrowed from the Mohammedans This consists of a long piece of very fine stuff, sometimes twenty yards in length and one in breadth. With this they encircle the head in many folds.
Those who are employed by European or Mohammedan princes, wear a long robe of muslin, or very fine cloth. This also, is in imitation of the Mohammedans, and was formerly unknown in the country.
The houses of the Hindoos are generally very plainly built. In the country, they are commonly made of earth, and thatched with straw. In the cities, they are covered with tiles. The kitchen is situated in the most retired part of the house. In the houses of the Brahmins, the kitchen-door is always barred, to prevent strangers from looking upon their earthen vessels; for if they should happen to see them, their look would pollute them to such a degree that they must be broken to pieces. The hearth is generally placed on the south-west side, which is said to be the side of the god of fire, because they say that this god actually dwells there.
The domestic customs of this people are very different from ours. The men and women do not eat together. The husband first eats, then the wife. The wife waits upon the husband After she has cooked the rice, she brings a brass plate, if they are possessors of one; or if not, a piece of a plantain-leaf, and puts it down on the mat before him. She then bails out the rice, places it upon the leaf, and afterwards pours the currie over it. This being done, the husband proceeds to mix up the currie and the rice with his hands, and puts it into his mouth. He never uses a knife and fork, as is customary with us. The currie of which I have spoken is a sauce of a yellow color, owing to the munchel, a yellow root which they put in it. This and onions, kottamaly-seeds mustard, serakum, pepper, etc., constitute the ingredients of the currie. Some add to these ghea, or melted butter, and cocoa-nut milk. By the cocoa-nut milk, I do not mean the water of the cocoa-nut. This—except in the very young cocoa-nut, when it is a most delicious beverage—is never used. The milk is squeezed from the meat of the cocoa-nut, after it has been reduced to a pulp by means of an indented circular iron which they use for this purpose.
After the husband has eaten, the wife brings water for him to wash his hands. This being done, she supplies him with vettalay, paakku, shell-lime, and tobacco, which he puts into his mouth as his dessert. The vettalay is a very spicy leaf. Why they use paakku, I do not know. It is a nut, which they cut into small pieces, but it has not much taste. Sometimes the wife brings her husband a segar. This people, I am sorry to say, are great smokers and chewers, practices of which I hope that you, my dear children, will never be guilty. In Ceylon, it is customary for females to smoke. Frequently, after the husband has smoked for a while, he hands the segar to his wife. She then puts it into her mouth, and smokes.
Several years ago, one of the schoolmasters in that island became a Christian. After he had partaken of the Lord's supper, his wife considered him so defiled, that she would not put his segar into her mouth for a month afterwards. She, however, has since become a Christian.
I spoke just now of the plantain-leaf. This leaf is sometimes six feet long, and in some places a foot and a half wide. It is an unbroken leaf, with a large stem running through the middle of it. It is one of the handsomest of leaves. Pieces enough can be torn from a single leaf, to take the place of a dozen plates. When quite young, it is an excellent application to surfaces which have been blistered.
When this people eat, they do not use tables and chairs. They sit down on mats, and double their legs under them, after the manner of our friends the tailors in America, when they sew. This is the way in which the natives as a general thing, sit in our churches. It is not common to have benches or pews for them. Carpenters and other tradesmen also sit down either on a board, or on the ground, or on their legs, when they work. It would divert you much to see their manoeuvring. If a carpenter, for instance, wants to make a little peg, he will take a small piece of board, and place it in an erect position between his feet, the soles of which are turned inward so as to press upon the board. He then takes his chisel in one hand, and his mallet in the other, and cuts off a small piece. Afterwards he holds the piece in one hand, and while he shapes it with his chisel with the other, he steadies it by pressing it against his great toe.
The blacksmiths, with the exception of those who use the sledge-hammer, sit as do the carpenters while they hammer the iron. I wish you could see them at work with their simple apparatus. They have small anvils, which they place in a hole made in a log of wood which is buried in the ground. They do not use such bellows as you see in America.
Theirs consist of two leather bags, about a foot wide and a foot and a half long, each having a nozzle at one end. The other end is left open to admit the air. When they wish to blow the fire, they extend these bags to let in the air. They then close them by means of the thumb on one side, and the fingers on the other, and press them down towards the nozzle of the bellows, which forces the air through them into the fire. I should have said before, that the nozzle of the bellows passes through a small semicircular mound of dried mud.
I mentioned that the natives do not use tables and chairs in their houses. Neither do they, as a general thing, use bedsteads. They have no beds. They sleep on mats, which are spread down on the floor. Sometimes they use a cotton bolster for their heads. More generally their pillows are hard boards, which they put under the mat. In addition to cooking, the females have to prepare the rice for this purpose, by taking it out of the husk. This they do by beating it in a mortar about two feet high. The pestle with which they pound it, is about five feet long, made of wood, with an iron rim around the lower part of it. Three women can work at these mortars at the same time. Of course they have to be very skilful in the use of the pestle, so as not to interfere with each others' operations. Sometimes, while thus engaged, the children, who are generally at play near their mothers, put their hands on the edge of the mortars. In such cases, when the pestle happens to strike the edge, their fingers are taken off in a moment.
The Hindoos have many modes of salutation. In some places they raise their right hand to the heart. In others, they simply stretch it out towards the person who is passing, if they know him, for they never salute persons with whom they are not acquainted.
In many places there is no show of salutation. When they meet their acquaintances they content themselves by saying a friendly word or two in passing, and then pursue their way. They have borrowed the word salam from the Mohammedans. They salute both Mohammedans and Europeans with this word, at the same time raising their hand to the forehead. When they address persons of high rank, they give them their salam thrice, touching the ground as often with both hands, and then lifting them up to their foreheads.
The other castes salute the Brahmins by joining the hands and elevating them to the forehead, or sometimes over the head. It is accompanied with andamayya, which means, Hail, respected lord. The Brahmins stretch out their hands and say, aaseervaathum—benediction.
Another very respectful kind of salutation consists in lowering both hands to the feet of the person to be honored, or even in falling-down and embracing them.
Of all the forms of salutation, the most respectful is the shaashtaangkum, or prostration, in which the feet, the knees, the stomach, the head, and the arms, all touch the ground. In doing this, they throw themselves at their whole length on the ground, and stretch out both arms above their heads. This is practised before priests, and in the presence of an assembly, when they appear before it to beg pardon for a crime.
Relations, who have long been separated, testify their joy when they meet by chucking each other under the chin, and shedding tears of joy. I am not aware that grown persons ever kiss each other. Sometimes mothers, or other individuals, will put their noses to the cheeks of little children, and draw the air through them, just as we do when we smell any thing which is agreeable. At other times they will apply the thumb and first finger to the cheek of the child, and then apply them to their own noses, and, as it were, smell them.
The women, as a mark of respect, turn their backs, or at least their faces aside, when they are in the presence of those whom they highly esteem. They are never permitted to sit in the presence of men. A married woman cannot do this, even in the presence of her husband.
If a person meets another of high rank, he must leave the path, if on foot, or alight, if on horseback, and remain standing until he has passed. He must at the same time take off his slippers. He also must take off his slippers when he enters a house. Should he fail to do this, it would be considered a great impropriety.
In addressing a person of note, they mast keep at a certain distance from him, and cover their mouths with their hands while they are speaking, lest their breath, or a particle of moisture, should escape to trouble him.
When the Hindoos visit a person of distinction for the first time, civility requires them to take some present as a mark of respect, or to show that they come with a friendly intention; especially if they wish to ask some favor in return. When they have not the means of making large presents, they carry with them sugar, plantains, milk, and other things of this kind.
In case of mourning, visits must always be made, though at a distance of a hundred miles. Letters of condolence would by no means be received as a substitute.
MARRIAGE AMONG THE HINDOOS.
My dear Children—Marriage, to the Hindoos is the greatest event of their lives. In the celebration of it, many ceremonies are performed Of these I will mention some of the most important. If the father of the young girl is a Brahmin, and if he is rich and liberal, he will frequently bear all the expenses of the marriage of his daughter. To give a daughter in marriage and to sell her, are about the same thing. Almost every parent makes his daughter an article of traffic, refusing to give her up until the sum of money for which he consented to let her go, is paid. Men of distinction generally lay out this money for jewels, which they present to their daughters on their wedding-day. You will infer from what I have just said, that the parties to be married have nothing to do in the choice of each other.
There are properly but four months in the year in which marriages can take place, namely March, April, May, and June. This probably arises from the circumstance that these are the hottest seasons of the year—the seasons when the people have more leisure to attend to them. From the harvest, also, which has just been gathered in, they are provided with means to perform the various ceremonies.
The marriage ceremony lasts five days. The bride and bridegroom are first placed under a puntel, a kind of bower, covered with leaves, in front of the house. This is superbly adorned. The married women then come forward, and perform the ceremony called arati, which is as follows. Upon a plate of copper, they place a lamp made of a paste from rice flour. It is supplied with oil, and lighted. They then take hold of the plate with both hands, and raise it as high as the heads of the couple to be married, and describe a number of circles with the plate and lamp. This is to prevent the evil of any jealous looks, which certain persons might make. The Hindoos believe that great evils arise from wicked looks. They consider that even the gods themselves are not out of the reach of malicious eyes; and therefore after they have been carried through the streets, the ceremony of arati is always performed, to efface the evil which they may have suffered from these looks.
It ought to have been mentioned, that before any thing is done, they place an image of Pullian under the puntel. This god is much honored because he is much feared. And although the great ugliness of his appearance has hitherto kept him without a wife, they never fail to pay him the greatest attention, lest he should in some way or other injure them.
After arati and many other ceremonies are performed, the kankanan, which is merely a bit of saffron, is tied to the right wrist of the young man, and to the left wrist of the girl. This is done with great solemnity. Another remarkable ceremony succeeds this. The young man being seated with his face towards the east, his future father-in-law supposes that he beholds in him the great Vrishnoo. With this impression, he offers him a sacrifice, and then, making him put both of his feet in a new dish filled with cow-dung, he first washes them with water, then with milk, and again with water, accompanying the whole with suitable muntrums or prayers.
After many other ceremonies, he takes the hand of his daughter and puts it into that of his son-in-law. He then pours water over them in honor of Vrishnoo. This is the most solemn of all the ceremonies, being the token of his resigning his daughter to the authority of the young man. She must be accompanied with three gifts, namely, one or more cows, some property in land, and a salagrama, which consists of some little amulet stones in high esteem among the Brahmins. This ceremony being finished, the tahly is brought to be fastened to the neck of the bride. This, as I before said, is presented on a salver, decked and garnished with sweet-smelling flowers. Incense is offered to it, and it is presented to the assistants each of whom touches it and invokes blessings upon it. The bride then turning towards the East, the bridegroom takes the tahly, repeats a muntrum or prayer aloud, and ties it around her neck.
Fire is then brought in, upon which the bridegroom offers up the sacrifice of homam, which consists of throwing boiled rice with melted butter upon the fire. He then takes his bride by the hand, and they walk three times around it, while the incense is blazing.
There is another ceremony, which, perhaps, ought to be mentioned, as it is considered by some to be one of much importance. Two baskets of bamboo are placed close together, one for the bride, the other for the bridegroom. They step into them, and two other baskets being brought, filled with ground rice, the husband takes up one with both hands and pours the contents over the head of the bride. She does the same to him. In the marriage of great princes pearls are sometimes used instead of rice.
On the evening of the third day, when the constellations appear, the astrologer points out to the married pair a very small star, close to the middle or in the tail of Ursa Major, which he directs them to worship, and which he says is the wife of Vasestha.
While the assembled guests, are dining, the bridegroom and the bride also partake, and eat together from the same plate. This is a token of the closest union. This is the only instance in which they ever eat together.
After all the ceremonies are finished, a procession is made through the streets of the village It commonly takes place in the night, by torchlight, accompanied with fire-works. The newly married pair are seated in one palanquin with their faces towards each other, both richly dressed. The bride, in particular, is generally covered with jewels and precious stones.
The procession moves slowly; and their friends and relations come out of their houses, as they pass; the women hailing the married couple with the ceremony of arati, and the men with presents of silver, fruits, sugar, and betel. I once witnessed one of these marriage processions in the streets of Madras at night, but can give you but little idea of its magnificence. The lamps used on the occasion could not be numbered. The shrubbery, which was drawn on carts or other vehicles, appeared exceedingly beautiful, in consequence of the light reflected from the lamps. Intermingled with this shrubbery, were to be seen little girls elegantly dressed, and adorned with flowers on their heads. Many elephants, with their trappings of gold and silver and red, formed a part of the procession. Fire-works were also added to make the scene more brilliant.
DEATH AND FUNERALS OF THE HINDOOS.
My dear Children—The death of a Hindoo is followed by many ridiculous ceremonies. I will give you a description of a few, connected with the death of one who has moved in one of the higher ranks—of a Brahmin.
When it is evident that a Brahmin has but a little time to live, a space is prepared with earth, well spread with cow-dung, over which a cloth, that has never been worn, is spread. The dying man is placed upon this at full length. Another cloth is wrapped around his loins. This being done, the ceremony of expiating his sins is performed as follows. The chief of the funeral brings on one plate some small pieces of silver or copper coin, and on another the punchakaryam, etc. A little of this punchakaryam is then put into his mouth, and, by virtue of this nauseous draught, the body is perfectly purified. Besides this, there is a general cleansing, which is accomplished by making the dying man recite within himself, if he cannot speak, the proper muntrums, by which he is delivered from all his sins. After this, a cow is introduced with her calf. Her horns are decorated with rings of gold or brass, and her neck with garlands of flowers. A pure cloth is laid over her body. Thus decked, she is led up to the sick man, who takes hold of her tail. Prayers are now offered up that the cow may conduct him, by a blessed path, to the next world. He then makes a gift of a cow to a Brahmin. This gift is considered indispensable to enable the soul to go over the river of fire, which it is said all must pass after death. Those who have made this gift, are met by one of these favored creatures the moment they arrive at the bank of the stream, and by her help, they are enabled to pass without injury from the flames.
As soon as the breath has left his body, all who are present must weep for a reasonable time, and join in lamentations together.
After various ceremonies, the body is washed, and a barber is called to shave his head. He is then clad with his finest clothes and adorned with jewels. He is rubbed with sandal-wood where the body is uncovered, and the accustomed mark is put upon his forehead. Thus dressed he is placed on a kind of state bed, where he remains until he is carried to the pile.
After every preparation is made to bear away the corpse, the person who is to conduct the funeral, with the assistance of some relative or friend, strips it of its clothing and jewels, and covers it with a handkerchief provided for the occasion. The corpse is then placed on a litter. Those who die in a state of marriage, have their faces left uncovered. The litter, adorned with flowers and foliage, and sometimes decked with valuable stuffs, is borne by four Brahmins. The procession is arranged as follows.
The chief of the funeral marches foremost, carrying fire in a vessel. The body follows, attended by the relations and friends, without their turbans, and with nothing on their heads but a bit of cloth, in token of mourning. The women never attend the funeral, but remain in the house, where they set up a hideous cry when the corpse is taken out. While advancing on the road, the custom is to stop three times on the way, and, at each pause, to put into the mouth of the dead a morsel of unboiled rice, moistened. The object of stopping is considered to be very important. It is not without reason; for they say that persons supposed to be dead have been alive, or even when lifeless have been restored; and sometimes, also, it has happened that the gods of the infernal regions have mistaken their aim, and seized one person instead of another. In any view, it is right to afford the opportunity for correcting these mistakes, so as not to expose to the flames a person who is still alive. Hence the propriety of these pauses, each of which continues half of the quarter of an hour.
Having arrived at the place for burning the dead, they dig a trench about six or seven feet in length. This is consecrated by the muntrums. It is slightly sprinkled with water to lay the dust, and a few pieces of money in gold are scattered upon it. Here the pile is erected of dried wood, on which the body is laid out at full length. Over the body a quantity of twigs are laid, which are sprinkled with punchakaryam The chief of the funeral then takes on his shoulders a pitcher of water, and goes around the pile three times, letting the water run through a hole made in it. After this he breaks the pitcher in pieces near the head of the corpse.
At last the torch is brought for setting fire to the pile, and is handed to the chief of the funeral. Before he receives it, however, he is obliged to make some grimaces to prove his sorrow. He rolls about on the ground, beats his breast, and makes the air resound with his cries. The assistants also cry, or appear to cry. Fire being applied to the four corners of the pile, the crowd retire, except the four Brahmins who carried the body; they remain until the whole is consumed.
The funerals of the Sudras differ in some particulars from those of the Brahmins. Deafening sounds of drums, trumpets, and other instruments of music, not in use among the Brahmins, accompany their funerals. To increase the noise, they sometimes shoot off an instrument which somewhat resembles a small cannon. I do not now think of any other particular worthy of mention.
By the ceremonies which are performed at their funerals, this wretched people expect to secure the pardon of all the sins of those who have died. Alas, what a delusion! O, that Christians had sent the Gospel to this dark land in the days when they sent it to our heathen fathers. Then might the Hindoos now be seeking the expiation of their sins, through the blood of the ever-blessed Redeemer. Of this Redeemer, however, they know nothing. They enter eternity, not that their souls may be consumed as their bodies have been, but to endure the flames of divine wrath for ever and ever. Alas, alas, that it should be so! O, that the generation of Christians now living would lay these things to heart, and do what they can, through grace, to rescue those who are yet within the reach of hope from so tremendous a doom. What, my dear children, will you do for this purpose?
THE GODS OF THE HINDOOS.
My dear Children—The word heathen is applied to those who worship idols, or who do not know any thing about the true God. This is the case with this people. They say that there is one supreme being, whom they call BRAHM; but he is very different from Jehovah, and is never worshipped. Generally, he is fast asleep. In the place of Brahm, they worship many gods—gods of all colors: some black, some white, some blue, some red—gods of all shapes and sizes: some in the shape of beasts, some in the shape of men; some partly in the shape of beasts, and partly in the shape of men, having four, or ten, or a hundred, or a thousand eyes, heads, and hands. They ride through the air on elephants, buffaloes, lions, sheep, deer, goats, peacocks, vultures, geese, serpents, and rats. They hold in their hands all kinds of weapons, offensive and defensive, thunderbolts javelins, spears, clubs, bows, arrows, shields, flags, and shells. They are of all employments. There are gods of the heavens above and of the earth below, gods of wisdom and of folly, gods of war and of peace, gods of good and of evil, gods of pleasure, gods of cruelty and wrath, whose thirst must be satiated with torrents of blood. These gods fight and quarrel with one another. They lie, steal, commit adultery, murder, and other crimes. They pour out their curses when they cannot succeed in their wicked plots, and invent all kinds of lying tales to hide their wickedness.
There are three principal gods, who compose what is called the Hindoo triad. Their names are Brumha, Vrishnoo, and Siva. They were somehow drawn from Brahm's essence, on one occasion when he was awake. Brumha, they say, is the creator of the world, Vrishnoo the preserver, and Siva the destroyer. Brumha has no temple erected for his worship, on account of a great falsehood which he told. I will tell you what it was. Once, as it is said, there was a dispute between him and Vrishnoo, as to who is the greatest. While thus disputing, Siva appeared between the two as a fire-post and told them that he who would find the bottom or the top of the post first, would show that he is the greatest. Vrishnoo immediately changed himself into a hog, and began to root up the earth with the hope of finding the bottom of the post. Brumha changed himself into a swan, flew up towards the top of the post, and cried out, I have found it, when he had not. This, you know, my dear children, was a falsehood. For this falsehood, it is said, no temple is erected for his worship.
Vrishnoo was a thief and a liar. He was once dwelling in the house of a dairyman, and he used constantly to be stealing butter and curdled milk from the dairyman's wife. She did not know, for a long time, what became of her butter and curdled milk; but at last she found out that Vrishnoo was the thief. To punish him for his theft, she tied him to a rice mortar.
Siva's conduct was very bad. I will tell you but one thing about him. On one occasion he was playing at cards with his wife Parvathe. Vrishnoo was appointed to determine who was the best player. After playing for a little season Parvathe won the game. Siva then beckoned to Vrishnoo to declare that he, instead of Parvathe, had won it. This he did. In consequence of this falsehood, he was cursed by Parvathe, and changed into a snake.
And now, my dear children, why do I tell you about these gods? I tell you for the purpose of making you thankful that you were born in a Christian land, where you have the Bible to teach you better things. Had you not the Bible, you would worship just such wretched beings as these poor Hindoos worship. Perhaps you know that our Saxon fathers, before they had the Bible, were as great idolaters as are this people. They worshipped Thor and Woden and other similar idols, and they were even in the habit of offering up human sacrifices Surely, if there is any thing which should make you give your hearts to your Saviour and love him above all things, it is God's gift of the Bible to you.
THE THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY MILLIONS OF THE GODS OF THE HINDOOS—THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE—THE TRANSMIGRATION OF SOULS—THE DIFFERENT HELLS.
My dear children—I told you that in one of those seasons when Brahm was awake, Brumha, Vrishnoo, and Siva were somehow drawn from Brahm's essence. The three hundred and thirty millions of the gods of the Hindoos were also drawn from this essence; as were all the atoms which compose the earth, the sun, moon, and stars. At first, these atoms were all in disorder. For the purpose of reducing them to order, Brahm created what is called the great mundane egg. Into this egg he himself entered, under the form, of Brumha, taking with him all these atoms. After remaining in this egg four thousand three hundred millions of years, to arrange these atoms, he burst its shell and came out, with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand arms. With him, he brought out all those harmonized atoms, which, when separated, produced this beautiful universe that we see above and around us.
The universe, as it came from the mundane egg, is generally divided into fourteen worlds: seven inferior or lower worlds, and seven superior or upper worlds. The seven lower worlds are filled with all kinds of wicked and loathsome creatures. Our earth, which is the first of the upper worlds, it is said, is flat. The following figure will give you some idea of it.
That part of the earth which is inhabited consists of seven circular islands, or continents each of which is surrounded by a different ocean. The island in the centre, where we dwell, is surrounded by a sea of salt water, the second island is surrounded by a sea of sugar-cane juice, the third island is surrounded by a sea of spirituous liquors, the fourth is surrounded by a sea of clarified butter, the fifth is surrounded by a sea of sour curds, the sixth is surrounded by a sea of milk, the seventh is surrounded by a sea of sweet water.
In all the worlds above ours are mansions where the gods reside. In the third is the heaven of Indra. This is the heaven to which it is said the widow goes, after she has burned herself to death on the funeral pile of her husband Its palaces are of the purest gold. And such are the quantities of diamonds, and jasper, and sapphire, and emerald, and all manner of precious stones there, that it shines with a brightness superior to that of twelve thousand suns. Its streets are of the clearest crystal, fringed with gold. In the seventh, or the highest of the upper worlds, is the heaven where Brumha chiefly resides. This far exceeds all the other heavens in point of beauty.
In the inferior worlds it is stated that there are one hundred thousand hells. These are provided for such as have been great criminals. The Hindoos say, that those who have not been very wicked, can make an atonement for their sins in this world. Should they neglect to do this, they must suffer for it in another birth. They believe in what is called the transmigration of souls, or the passing of the soul, after death, into another body. The soul must suffer in the next birth, if not purified in this. Hence it is asserted, that if a man is a stealer of gold from a Brahmin, he is doomed to have whitlows on his nails; if a drinker of spirits, black teeth; if a false detractor, fetid breath; if a stealer of grain, the defect of some limb; if a stealer of clothes, leprosy; if a horse-stealer, lameness; if a stealer of a lamp, total blindness. If he steals grain in the husk, he will be born a rat; if yellow mixed metal, a gander; if money, a great stinging gnat; if fruit, an ape; if the property of a priest, a crocodile.
Those persons whose sins are too great to be forgiven in this world, must be sent to one of the hells to winch I have alluded. Weeping, wailing, shrieking, they are dragged to the palace of Yama, the king of those doleful regions. On arriving there, they behold him clothed with terror, two hundred and forty miles in height, his eyes as large as a lake of water, his voice as loud as thunder, the hairs of his body as long as palm-trees, a flame of fire proceeding from his mouth, the noise of his breath like the roaring of a tempest, and in his right hand a terrific iron club. Sentence is passed, and the wretched beings are doomed to receive punishment according to the nature of their crimes. Some are made to tread on burning sands, or sharp-edged stones. Others are rolled among thorns and spikes and putrefying flesh. Others are dragged along the roughest places by cords passed through the tender parts of the body. Some are attacked by jackals, tigers, and elephants. Others are pierced with arrows, beaten with clubs, pricked with needles, seared with hot irons, and tormented by flies and wasps. Some are plunged into pans of liquid fire or boiling oil. Others are dashed from lofty trees, many hundred miles high.
The torment of these hells does not continue for ever. After criminals have been punished for a longer or shorter time, their souls return to the earth again in the bodies of men. Here they may perform such good acts as may raise them to one of the heavens of the gods; or commit crimes, which may be the means of their being sent again to the abodes of misery.
Things will go on in this way until the universe comes to an end, when every thing is to disappear, and to be swallowed up in Brahm.
The Hindoos say, that it is now more than one hundred and fifty billions of years since the world was created. After it has continued about one hundred and fifty billions of years more, it is to come to an end. Then Brumha is to die, and to be swallowed up with the universe in the sole existing Brahm.
By what you have heard, you will learn that the Hindoos expect, by their sufferings, to make an atonement for their sins. But there is no atonement for sin, except through the blood of Jesus Christ. We must come as lost sinners to our heavenly Father, confess our transgressions to him, and plead for his forgiveness, only through the sufferings and death which Christ endured. My dear children, have you done this? If not, do it speedily, or the regions of the lost must soon be your everlasting abode.
My dear Children—The people of India are divided into castes, as they are called. Their sacred books declare, that after Brumha had peopled the heavens above and the worlds below, he created the human race, consisting of four classes or castes. From his mouth proceeded the Brahmin caste. Those of this class are the highest and noblest beings on earth, and hold the office of priests. At the same time there flowed from his mouth the Vedas, or sacred books, of which the Brahmins are the sole teachers To their fellow-men, they were to give such parts of these books as they thought best. From Brumha's arm proceeded the military caste. The business of this class is to defend their country when attacked by enemies. From his breast proceeded the third caste, consisting of farmers and merchants. From his feet, the member of inferiority, proceeded the Sudras, or servile caste. Carpenters, braziers, weavers, dyers, and the manual cultivators of the soil, are included in this class.
Caste is not a civil, but a sacred institution. You must get some one older than yourself to explain what this means. Caste is a difference of kind. Hence, a man of one caste can never be changed into a man of another caste, any more than a lion can be changed into a mole, or a mole into a lion. Each caste has its laws, the breaking of which is attended with great disgrace, and even degradation below all the other castes. For instance, if a Brahmin should, by eating any forbidden thing, break his caste, he would sink below all the other castes. He would become an outcast, or pariah. For beneath the fourth, or lowest caste, there is a class of people belonging to no caste—a class of outcasts, held in the utmost abhorrence.
By the system of castes, the Hindoos have been divided into so many selfish sections, each scowling on all the rest with feelings of hatred and contempt. The spirit which upholds it, is similar to that spirit which says, "Stand by thyself, for I am holier than thou," and, of course, is nothing but pride. This is one of the greatest obstacles to the spread of Christianity in this dark land, and for the exhibition of which we were lately obliged to cut off many of the members of our churches.
The Brahmins, in consequence of their being of the highest caste, and of their having been taught from their infancy to regard all other classes of men with the utmost contempt, are very proud. They make great efforts to keep themselves pure, in their sense of the word, both without and within. They are exceedingly afraid of being defiled by persons of other castes. They have the utmost dread even of being touched by a pariah. For them to eat with any of these pariahs, or to go into their houses, or to drink water which they have drawn, or from vessels which they have handled, is attended with the loss of their caste. A Brahmin who should enter their houses, or permit them to enter his, would be cut off from his caste, and could not be restored without many troublesome ceremonies and great expense. The pariahs are considered to be so low, that if a Brahmin were to touch them, even with the end of a long pole, he would be looked upon as polluted In some districts they are obliged to make a long circuit, when they perceive Brahmins in the way, that their breath may not infect them, or their shadow fall upon them as they pass. In some places their very approach is sufficient to pollute a whole neighborhood.
The Brahmins carry their ideas of purity very far. Should a Sudra happen to look upon the vessels in which they cook their food, they would be considered as defiled. They can never touch any kind of leather or skin, except the skin of the tiger and antelope. The most disagreeable of all American fashions, in their eyes, is that of boots and gloves. They rarely eat their food from plates; and when they do so, it is only at home. They use the leaf of the plantain or other trees as a substitute. To offer them any thing to eat on a metal or earthen plate which others have used, would be considered a great affront. For the same reason, they will neither use a spoon nor a fork when they eat; and they are astonished that any one, after having applied them to their mouths, and infected them with saliva, should repeat the act a second time. They have a great abhorrence of the toothpick, if used a second time. When they eat any thing dry, they throw it into their mouths, so that the fingers may not approach the lips.
They do not drink as we do, by applying the cup to the lips. This would be considered a gross impropriety. They pour the water into their months. The reason why they do these things is, because they consider the saliva to be the most filthy secretion that comes from the body. It is on this account that no one is ever permitted to spit within doors.
The use of animal food they consider to be defiling. Not only will they not eat animal food, but they will eat nothing that has the principle of life in it. On this account, they cannot eat eggs of any kind. I was once breaking an egg in my medicine-room at Panditeripo, while a Brahmin was present. He told me that, under such circumstances, he could not remain with me any longer. In his view, I was committing a great sin. To kill an ox or a cow, is considered by them as a crime which can never be atoned for, and to eat their flesh is a defilement which can never be washed away. To kill a cow is, by Hindoo law, punishable with death.
The touch of most animals, particularly that of the dog, defiles a Brahmin. Should a dog touch them, they would be obliged instantly to plunge into water, and wash their clothes, in order to get rid of such a stain. Notwithstanding this, the dog is one of the gods worshipped by the Hindoos.
The Hindoos consider themselves to be unclean if they have assisted at a funeral. When the ceremony is over, they immediately plunge into water for the sake of purification. Even the news of the death of a relative, a hundred miles off, has the same effect. The person who hears such news is considered unclean until he has bathed. In unison with this feeling, a person is no sooner dead, than he is hastened away to be buried or burned; for, until this is done, those in the house can neither eat nor drink, nor go on with their occupations.
A Brahmin who is particular in his delicacy, must be careful what he treads upon. He is obliged to wash his body or bathe, if he happens to tread on a bone, or a broken pot, a bit of rag, or a leaf from which one has been eating. He must also be careful where he sits down. Some devotees always carry their seats with them, that is, a tiger or antelope's skin, which are always held pure. Some are contented with a mat. They may sit down on the ground without defilement, provided it has been newly rubbed over with cow-dung. This last specific is used daily to purify their houses from the defilement occasioned by comers, and goers. When thus applied, diluted with water, it has unquestionably one good effect. It completely destroys the fleas and other insects, with which they are very much annoyed.
There is one thing more which I wish to mention. It is, that all the high castes consider the use of intoxicating drinks to be defiling. I hope that you, my dear children, will always have the same opinion, and never touch them any sooner than you would touch arsenic or other poisons.
A person may be restored to his caste, provided he has not committed an unpardonable offence. This is done as follows. After he has gained the consent of his relations to be restored he prostrates himself very humbly before them, they being assembled for that purpose, and submits to the blows or other punishment which they may think proper to inflict, or pays the fine which they may have laid upon him. Then, after shedding tears of sorrow, and making promises that, by his future conduct, he will wipe away the stain of his expulsion from caste, he makes the shaashtaangkum before the assembly. This being done, he is declared fit to be restored to his tribe.
When a man has been expelled from his caste for some great offence, those who restore him sometimes slightly burn his tongue with a piece of gold made hot. They likewise apply to different parts of the body redhot iron stamps, which leave marks that remain for ever. Sometimes they compel the offender to walk on burning embers; and to complete the purification, he must drink the punchakaryam, which literally means the five things; these all come from the cow, and must be mixed together. The first three of these I will mention, namely, the milk, butter, and curds. The other two, for the sake of delicacy, I must not mention. After the ceremony of punchakaryam is finished the person who has been expelled from his caste must give a grand feast. This finishes all he has to do, and he is then restored to favor.
There are certain offences which, when committed cut off all hope that the offender will ever be restored to his caste. For instance, should he eat the flesh of the cow, no presents which he might make, nor any fines which lie might be disposed to pay, no, not even the punchakaryam itself, would be of any avail for his restoration or purification.
I will make a remark here, which I might have made before. It is, that in Christian countries, there is a spirit of pride which much resembles the spirit of caste. Many are to be found who are very proud that they have descended from rich and honorable ancestors, and who look down, almost with disdain, upon those in other situations. I need hardly tell you that this is a very wicked spirit, and entirely opposed to the spirit of the Gospel. No matter what may be our high thoughts of ourselves, we appear but very low in the sight of Him who created us. We are all sinners, and, as such, are offensive in his sight. If we would go to heaven, the first thing which we have to do, is to humble ourselves for the pride of our hearts, and become as little children before him. We must have that spirit of which the apostle speaks, when he says, "Let each esteem others better than themselves." With a humble spirit we may approach a holy God, with the assurance that he will, for Christ's sake, forgive all our sins.
HINDOO TEMPLES—CARS—PROCESSION OF IDOLS.
My dear Children—I will proceed to give you a description of the Hindoo temples. These are very numerous. One is to be found in almost every village. They are to be found, also, in out-of-the-way places, distant from villages, in woods, on the banks and in the middle of rivers; but, above all, on mountains and steep rocks.
This latter practice, of building temples on mountains, is very ancient. The Israelites were accustomed to choose a mountain when they offered up their sacrifices to the Lord. Solomon, before the building of the temple, chose Mount Gibeon on which to offer his burnt-offerings; and when the ten tribes separated themselves, in the reign of Jeroboam, they built their altars on the mountain of Samaria. This practice may have come from the circumstance, that Noah offered to God a great sacrifice of thanks on one of the highest mountains of Armenia. Probably Mount Ararat continued long to be remembered, by him and his descendants, as the scene of their deliverance.
Besides the temples of the idols, there are various objects of worship, made of earth and stone. Some of the idols are carved. Some consist merely of the rough stone. These are to be seen on the high-roads, at the entrance into villages, and, above all, under lofty trees. Some of these are covered; but generally they are exposed in the open air.
You will read in Genesis, 28th chap, and 18th verse, that Jacob, after his dream, rose up early in the morning and took the stone that he had put for his pillow, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. Whether it has happened from this circumstance or not, that the heathen universally pour oil over their idols, I cannot tell. All I know is, that they do it. No idol can become an object of worship until a Brahmin has said his muntrums, or prayers, for the purpose of bringing down the god to live, as it is said be does, in the image, and until he has drenched it with oil and liquid butter.
The idols, in the great temples, are clothed with rich garments, and adorned with jewels, which are enriched with precious stones of immense value. Sacrifices are constantly made to these idols, consisting of boiled rice, flowers, fruits, etc., but, above all, of lamps, of which many thousands are sometimes seen burning. They feed them with butter, in preference to oil.
The priests of the temples offer up sacrifices twice every day, morning and evening. They begin the ceremony by washing their idol. The water which is used is brought from a river or tank. Every morning a procession, with music, passes before our door, with this water.
Every priest who offers up sacrifices, must have several lighted lamps with a bell, which he holds in his left hand. With his right hand he makes an offering to the idol, adorns it with flowers, and rubs its forehead and various parts of its body with sandal-wood and holy ashes. While all this is going on, he is alone in the temple, the door of which is closed. The unholy multitude remain without, silently waiting till he has done. What he does, they cannot know, only hearing the sound of the bell. When he has done, he comes out and distributes among the people a part of the things which have been offered to the idol. These are considered as holy. If they consist of rice and fruit, they are immediately eaten; if of flowers, the men put them in their turbans, and the girls entwine them in their hair.
Next to the priests, the most important persons about the temples are the dancing girls. These are persons of the vilest character. They perform their religious duties in the temple twice a day. They also assist at the public ceremonies, and dance. At the same time they sing the most abominable and filthy songs. Of these wicked creatures, however, I must not tell you any thing further.
The next order of persons employed in the temples, are players on musical instruments. Every temple of note has a band of these musicians who, as well as the dancers, are obliged to attend the temple twice a day. They are also obliged to assist at all the public festivals. Their band generally consists of wind, instruments, resembling clarionets and hautboys, to which they add cymbals and drums. They have a bass, produced by blowing into a kind of tube, widened below, and which gives an uninterrupted sound. Part of the musicians sing hymns in honor of their gods.
The expenses of the temples are borne by the voluntary offerings of the people, consisting of money, jewels, cattle, provisions, and other articles. In order to induce them to make such offerings, the Brahmins use all kinds of deception. Sometimes they will put their idols in irons, chaining their hands and feet. They exhibit them in this sad condition, declaring that they have been brought into it by creditors from whom their gods had to borrow money, in times of trouble, to supply their wants. They declare that their creditors refuse to set the gods at liberty, until the money with the interest is paid. The people, seeing the deplorable condition into which they have been brought, come forward and pay off the debt; when the chains are taken off, and the god is set at liberty.
Another way in which the Brahmins sometimes deceive the people, is as follows. They say that the god is afflicted with some dreadful disease, brought on by the distress which he has had, because the people do not worship him as much as they should. In such cases, the idol is sometimes placed at the door of the temple where they rub his forehead and temples with various kinds of medicine. They also set before him all sorts of medicines, pretending in this way to do all they can to cure him. But as all their efforts prove to be vain, and the disease becomes worse, the Brahmins send out persons to tell the sad news. The people, believing the report, hasten to bring in their gifts and offerings. The god, on beholding such proofs of their attachment to him, feels himself cured of his disease, and immediately returns to his throne within the temple.
The Brahmins use another kind of deception, in order to procure offerings for the temples. They declare that their gods are angry with certain individuals who have offended them, and that they have sent some evil spirit or devil to take possession of their bodies and torment them. Accordingly, persons appear wandering about in different parts of the country, showing, by their dreadful convulsions, their writhings and twistings, every symptom of being possessed with the devil. The people who see them are filled with dismay, fall down before them, and offer gifts and sacrifices, for fear of being injured by them. Whatever they ask is granted. The people give them to eat and drink abundantly; and when they leave a place, accompany them with instruments of music, till they arrive at some other place, where the same deception is practised.
There are various other ways in which the Brahmins deceive the people; but I have told you enough.
At every large temple, there is at least yearly one grand procession. The idol is brought out from its inclosure, and placed in a great car or chariot, prepared for this express purpose. This stands upon four wheels of great strength, not made like ours, of spokes with a rim, but of three or four pieces of thick, solid timber, rounded and fitted to each other. The car is sometimes forty or fifty feet high, having upon it carved images of a most abominable nature. I must not tell you any thing about them. The car, when finished, presents somewhat the shape of a pyramid.
On the day of the procession, it is adorned with painted cloth, garlands of flowers, green shrubbery, and precious stuffs. The idol is placed in the centre, loaded with jewels, etc., to attract the attention of the people. Having fastened ropes to this enormous car, eight or nine hundred or a thousand people catch hold of the ropes and slowly drag it along, accompanied with the awful roaring of their voices. At certain periods they stop; when the immense crowds, collected from all parts of the country, set up one universal shout, or rather yell. This, with the sound of their instruments and numerous drums, produces much uproar and confusion. Sometimes the weighty car comes to a stand, from the dampness of the ground or from the narrowness of the streets, when the tumult and noise are redoubled.
Perhaps you know that on some occasions, when the cars are drawn, people throw themselves under the wheels, and are crushed to death. This occurs at the drawing of the car of Juggernaut, as you may learn if you will read my Sermon to Children, on the Condition of the Heathen. Here is a picture of Juggernaut, and on the last page you may see a picture of his car, and two men crushed to death under the wheels. Not long since, five persons were thus crushed to death. Many dreadful accidents also take place at the drawing of these cars. A few years ago several persons in this city had their limbs amputated, in consequence of injuries received.
When I was in America, I showed to many of the dear children an idol called Pulliar, which was formerly worshipped by Raamu, one of our native helpers, when he was a heathen. I gave a particular description, of the I manner in which he daily worshiped it, in the sermon above mentioned Here is a picture, which will give you some idea of this god.
You will see that it is partly in the shape of a man, and partly in the shape of a beast. You, my dear children, would put no confidence in such vain idols; but this people do, as you may know from what I am now going to tell you.
Some months ago, a woman was brought to me with a cancer in her breast. It had made sad ravages. On the morning after her arrival I took it out. Before she was brought to me, her brother went to the temple of the goddess Meenaache, to ascertain what was her will respecting his bringing her to me, or taking her to a native doctor. In order to ascertain it, he had recourse to the following expedient. He prepared several bundles of red and white flowers—the red to represent the red or Tamil man, the white to represent the white man. These flowers were carefully inclosed in leaves, so as to prevent their color being seen, and then laid down on the ground, at the entrance of the temple. After this, he called a little child to him, and then proceeded to entreat Meenaache that, if it were her will that he should bring the sick woman to me, she would direct the child to take up one of the parcels containing the white flowers. It so happened that the child took up one of these parcels. Of course, he brought her to me. Had it taken up a parcel containing the red flowers, she would have been taken to a native doctor. May we not hope that, not Meenaache, but Jehovah directed him to bring her to me, that she might hear of a very different being from her goddess, even of Jesus. Of him she has fully heard.
FESTIVALS OF THE HINDOOS.
My dear Children—The Hindoos have many festivals. These are all occasions of joy and gladness. On such days, the people quit their usual employments. Friends and relations unite in family parties, and give entertainments according to their means. Innocent pastimes and amusements of various kinds are resorted too to add to their happiness.
There are eighteen principal festivals yearly, and no month passes without one or more of them.
One of the most solemn of these ceremonies is held in the month of September, and appears to be principally in honor of Parvathe, the wife of Siva. At this time every laborer and every artisan offers sacrifices and prayers to his tools. The laborer brings his plough, hoe, and other farming utensils. He piles them together, and offers a sacrifice to them, consisting of flowers, fruit, rice, and other articles. After this, he prostrates himself before them at full length, and then returns them to their places.
The mason offers the same adoration and sacrifice to his trowel, rule, and other instruments The carpenter adores his hatchet, adze, and plane. The barber collects his razors together and worships them with similar rites.
The writing-master sacrifices to the iron pen or style, with which he writes upon the palm-leaf the tailor to his needles, the weaver to his loom, the butcher to his cleaver.
The women, on this day, collect into a heap their baskets, rice-mill, rice-pounder, and other household utensils, and, after having offered sacrifices to them, fall down in adoration before them. Every person, in short, in this solemnity sanctifies and adores the instrument or tool by which he gains a living. The tools are considered as so many gods, to whom they present their prayers that they will continue to furnish them still with the means of getting a livelihood.
This least is concluded by making an idol to represent Parvathe. It is made of the paste of grain, and being placed under a sort of canopy, is carried through the streets with great pomp, and receives the worship of the people.
Another festival of great celebrity is observed in October. At this time, each person, for himself, makes offerings of boiled rice and other food, to such of their relations as have died, that they may have a good meal on that day. They afterwards offer sacrifices of burning lamps, of fruit, and of flowers, and also new articles of dress, that their ancestors may be freshly clothed.
At this festival, soldiers offer sacrifices to their weapons, in order to obtain success in war. On such occasions, a ram is offered in sacrifice to their armor.
In November, a festival is observed, which is called the feast of lamps. At this season, the Hindoos light lamps, and place them around the doors of their houses. This festival was established to commemorate the deliverance of the earth from a giant, who had been a great scourge to the people. He was slain by Vrishnoo, after a dreadful battle. In many places, on this day, a sacrifice is offered to the dunghill which is afterwards to enrich the ground. In the villages, each one has his own heap, to which he makes his offering of burning lamps, fruit, flowers, etc.
The most celebrated of all the festivals, is that which is held in the end of December. It is called the feast of Pongul, and is a season of rejoicing for two reasons: the first is, because the month of December, every day of which is unlucky, is about to end; and the other is, because it is to be followed by a month, every day of which is fortunate. For the purpose of preventing the evil effects of this month, the women every morning scour a place about two feet square before the door of the house, upon which they draw white lines, with flour. Upon these they place several little balls of cow-dung, sticking in each a flower. Each day these little balls, with their flowers, are preserved, and on the last day of the month, they are thrown into tanks or waste-places.
The first day of this festival is called the Pongul of rejoicing. Near relatives are invited to a feast, which passes off with mirth and gladness.
The second day is called the Pongul of the sun, and is set apart to worship that luminary. Married women, after bathing themselves, proceed to boil rice with milk, in the open air. When the milk begins to simmer, they make a loud cry, "Pongul, O Pongul." The vessel is then taken from the fire, and set before an idol. Part of this rice is offered to the image, and, after standing there for some time, it is given to the cows. The remainder is given to the people. This is the great day for visiting among friends. The salutation begins by the question, "Has the milk boiled?" To which the answer is, "It has boiled." From this, the festival takes the name of pongul, which signifies to boil.
The third day is called the Pongul of cows. In a great vessel, filled with water, they put saffron and other things. These being well mixed, they go around the cows and oxen belonging to the house several times, sprinkling them with water. After this, the men prostrate themselves before them four times. The cows are then dressed, their horns being painted with various colors. Garlands of flowers are also put round their necks, and over their backs. To these are added strings of cocoa-nuts and other kinds of fruit, which, however, are soon shaken off, when they are in motion, and are picked up by children and others, who greedily eat what they gather, as something sacred. After being driven through the streets, they are suffered, during the day, to feed wherever they please, without a keeper. I have, however, told you enough. Are you ready to exclaim, Is it possible that a people can be guilty of such utter folly? But you, my dear children, would be guilty of just such folly, if you had not the Bible. Should not the gratitude, then, which you owe to your heavenly Father, for your distinguished mercies, constrain you to do all that you can to send this blessed book to this dark land?
THE WORSHIP OF THE SERPENT.
My dear Children—If you have never heard much about the Hindoos, you will be astonished to learn how numerous are the objects of their worship. They worship many living creatures, such as the ape, the tiger, the elephant the horse, the ox, the stag, the sheep, the hog, the dog, the cat, the rat, the peacock, the eagle, the cock, the hawk, the serpent, the chameleon, the lizard, the tortoise, fishes, and even insects. Of these, some receive much more worship than others, such as the cow, the ox, and the serpent Cobra Capella. I will speak at present only of the worship of the serpent.
Of all the dangerous creatures found in India, there are none that occasion so many deaths as serpents. The people are very much exposed to their bite, especially at night, when they are walking. They tread upon them, and, as they generally do not wear shoes, the snakes turn their heads, and strike their fangs into those parts of the feet which are nearest to the place where the pressure is made upon their bodies. Sometimes the bite is followed with instant death. The Cobra Capella is one of the most common snakes, and one of the most poisonous. It is said, that it has a thousand heads, one of which holds up the earth. It has a peculiar mark on its back, just behind the head. This mark very much resembles a pair of spectacles, without the handles. If you should go near it, it would raise the fore part of its body about six inches, widen out its neck, so as to be about double its common width, and prepare to strike you. The reason why the Hindoos offer sacrifices and adoration to it above all the other serpents is, because it is so frequently met with, and is so much dreaded.
In order to induce the people to worship this dangerous enemy, the Hindoos have filled their books with tales concerning it. Figures of it are often to be seen in the temples, and on other buildings. They seek out their holes, which are generally to be found in the hillocks of earth which are thrown up by the white ants; and when they find one, they go from time to time and offer milk, plantains, and other good things to it.
The Hindoos, as I before observed, have eighteen annual festivals. One of these festivals is held for the purpose of worshipping this serpent. Temples in many places are erected to it, of which there is one of great celebrity in Mysore. When the festival occurs at this temple, great crowds of people come together to offer sacrifices to this creeping god. Many serpents besides the Cobra Capella live within it, in holes made especially for them. All of these are kept and well fed by the Brahmins with milk, butter, and plantains. By such means they become very numerous, and may be seen swarming from every crevice in the temple. To injure or to kill one would be considered a great crime.
Many of the natives call the Cobra Capella nulla paampu, that is, good snake. They are afraid to call it a bad snake, lest it should injure them. The following is the prayer which is offered before the image of this snake. O, divine Cobra, preserve and sustain us. O, Sheoh, partake of these offerings, and be gracious unto us.
Can you think of any thing, my dear children more dishonoring to a holy God, than such worship? And what have you ever done to prevent it? Have you, every morning and evening, prayed that the Gospel might be sent to this people? Did you ever give any money to send it to them? Did you ever think whether it may not be your duty, by and by, to come to them, to tell them of this Gospel?
THE RIVER GANGES.
My dear Children—If you will look at the map of Asia, and find the country of Hindostan, you will see running through it a very celebrated river—the river Ganges. It is called the Ganges, after the goddess Gunga. The Hindoos say that the goddess Gungu—who was produced from the sweat of Vrishnoo's foot, which Brumha caught and preserved in his alms-dish—came down from heaven, and divided herself into one hundred streams, which are the mouths of the river Ganges. All classes and castes worship her. The sight, the name, or the touch of the river Ganges is said to take away all sin. To die on the edge of the river, or to die partly buried in the stream, drinking its waters, while their bodies are besmeared with mud, is supposed to render them very holy. On this account, when it is expected that a person will die, he is hurried down to the river, whether willing or unwilling. Sometimes the wood which the people bring to burn their bodies after death, is piled up before their eyes. O, how inhuman is this. After it is supposed that they are dead, and they are placed on the pile of wood, if they should revive and attempt to rise, it is thought that they are possessed with the devil, and they are beaten down with a hatchet or bamboo.
Were you standing on the banks of the Ganges you might, perhaps, in one place see two or three young men carrying a sick female to the river. If you should ask what they are going to do with her, perhaps they would reply, We are going to give her up to Gunga, to purify her soul, that she may go to heaven; for she is our mother. In another place you might see a father and mother sprinkling a beloved child with muddy water, endeavoring to soothe his dying agonies by saying, "It is blessed to die by Gunga, my son; to die by Gunga is blessed, my son." In another place you might see a man descending from a boat with empty water-pans tied around his neck, which pans, when filled, will drag down the poor creature to the bottom, to be seen no more. Here is murder in the name of religion. He is a devotee, and has purchased heaven, as he supposes, by this his last good deed. In another place you might see a person seated in the water, accompanied by a priest, who pours down the throat of the dying man mud and water, and cries out, "O mother Gunga, receive his soul." The dying man may be roused to sensibility by the violence. He may entreat his priest to desist; but his entreaties are drowned. He persists in pouring the mud and water down his throat, until he is gradually stifled, suffocated—suffocated in the name of humanity—suffocated in the name of religion.
It happens, sometimes, in cases of sudden and violent attacks of disease, that they cannot be conveyed to the river before death. Under such circumstances, a bone is preserved, and at a convenient season is taken down and thrown into the river. This, it is believed, contributes essentially to the salvation of the deceased.
Sometimes strangers are left on the banks to die, without the ceremony of drinking Ganges water. Of these, some have been seen creeping along with the flesh half eaten off their bones by the birds; others with their limbs torn by dogs and jackals, and others partly covered with insects.
After a person is taken down to the river, if he should recover, it is looked upon by his friends as a great misfortune. He becomes an outcast. Even his own children will not eat with him, nor offer him the least attention. If they should happen to touch him, they must wash their bodies, to cleanse them from the pollution which has been contracted. About fifty miles north of Calcutta, are two villages inhabited entirely by these poor creatures, who have become outcasts in consequence of their recovery after having been taken down to the Ganges.
At the mouth of the river Hoogly, which is one of the branches of the Ganges, is the island Sauger, which I saw as we approached Calcutta after having been at sea for one hundred and twenty-eight days. Now, my dear children, if you come out to India as missionaries, you will have to sail nearly one hundred and thirty days before you can reach it. Sauger island is the island where, formerly, hundreds of mothers were in the habit of throwing their children to the crocodiles, and where these mothers were wont to weep and cry if the crocodiles did not devour their children before their eyes. Think what a dreadful religion that must be, which makes mothers so hard-hearted. Did you ever take any corn or Indian meal and throw it to the chickens? And what did these chickens do? Did they not come around you and eat it? Well, just in this way the crocodiles would come near those mothers, and devour their children. Here is a picture of a mother throwing her child to a crocodile.
I am glad to tell you, that the British have put a stop to the sacrifice of children at that place; but mothers continue to destroy their children elsewhere, and will continue to destroy them until Christians send the Gospel to them. It is not improbable that vast numbers of children are annually destroyed in the Ganges. Mothers sacrifice them, in consequence of vows which they have made. When the time to sacrifice them has come, they take them down to the river, and encourage them to go out so far that they are taken away by the stream, or they push them off with their own hands.
I just remarked, that mothers will continue to destroy their children until the Gospel is sent to them. That the Gospel does prevent such things, the following circumstance will show. Several years ago, a missionary lady went from New England to India. As she was walking out one morning, on the banks of the Ganges, she saw a heathen mother weeping. She went up to her, sat down by her side, put her hand into hers, and asked what was the matter with her. "I have just been making a basket of flags," said she, "and putting my infant in it—pushing it off into the river, and drowning it. And my gods are very much pleased with me, because I have done it." After this missionary lady had heard all she had to say, she told her that her gods were no gods; that the only true God delights not in such sacrifices, but turns in horror from them; and that, if she would be happy here and hereafter, she must forsake her sins, and pray to Jesus Christ, who died to save sinners like herself. This conversation was the means of the conversion of that mother, and she never again destroyed any of her infants.