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other person says, “Oh! Khooru! Khooree* wishes to come and see you : what say you ? He makes a sign for her to come; or, he says, “I am going-what can she do ? Here are people to wait upon me : she will only increase grief.'' Some one again addresses him: Oh! Khooru ! perform Voiturunee.”+ He consents; when the ceremony is performed.
As death approaches, the relations exhort the sick man, if he is a regular Hindoo, to repeat the names of Narryunu, Brumha, Gunga, his guardian deity, and those of other gods. If he is a voishnuvu, they tell him to repeat the name of Muha-probhoo, Krishnu, Radha, &c. The poor call upon different deities indiscriminately. The dying man repeats these names as well as he is able; the relations vehemently urge him to go on calling upon these gods, in which they also join him : eight or ten voices are heard at once thus employed. If the doctor is present, and should declare that the patient is on the point of expiring, he tells them to let him down into the water up to the middle. When there is no doctor, his friends attend to this according to their own judgment. Just before or after being thus immersed, they spread the mud of the river on the breast, &c. of the dying 'man, and with one of their fingers write on this mud the name of some deity ; they also pour water down his throat; shout the names of different deities in his ears, and, by this anxiety after his future happiness, hurry him into eternity; and, in many cases, it is to be feared, prevent recovery, where it might reasonably be expected. If the person, after lying in the water some time, should not die, he is brought up again, and laid on the bank, and the further progress of the disease is watched by the relations. Some persons who are carried down to the river side revive, and return home again ; but scarcely any instances are known of persons surviving after this half immersion in water. In cases of sudden and alarming sickness, many are actually murdered by these violent means of sending men to Gunga. If a Hindoo should die in his house, and not within sight of the river, it is considered as a great misfortune, and his memory is sure to be stigmatized for it after death.
* Khooree, aunt.
+ That is, perform the ceremonies for securing a passage across the river of death. These ceremonies consist of certain gifts to Vishnoo, as a cow, or the value of a cow : or the commutation of this, a trifling sum ip kourees. Rice, clarified butter, &c. are also offered to Vishnoo.
Immediately after the person is dead, and in many cases before this event, preparations are made for burning the body. Sometimes the wood is brought and placed by the side of the sick person while he is living. About 300 lbs. of wood are sufficient to consume a body. A hole is dug in the earth by one of the relations of the deceased ; over which the wood is placed. The body is then laid on, and the heir at law having lighted some straw, walks round the pile three times, with face averted, and touches the mouth of the deceased with the fire ; after which those present set fire to the pile ; and the body is consumed. In some parts of Hindoostan the body is buried in the earth, and the funeral service is said to be very solemn and affecting. The officiating bramhun on these occasions addresses the respective elements in the following manner:
O EARTH! to thee we commend our brotber; of thee he was formed ; by thee he was sustained ; and unto thee he now returns!
O FIRE! thou hadst a claim in our brother; during his life he subsisted by thy influence in nature ; to thee we commit his body ; thou emblem of purity, may his spirit be purified on entering a new state of existence!
O AIR! while the breath of life continued, our brother respired by thee; his last breath is now departed; to thee we yield him!
O WATER! thou didst contribute to the life of our brother : thou wert one of his sustaining elements. His remains are now dispersed ; receive thy share of him, who has now taken an everlasting flight.
Condition of Hindoo Females.-The lives of the Hindoo females are always spent in a state of degradation, if not in hardship, and misery. The institution of infant marriages, is to them the source of many and great evils. The contract is made without the consent or knowledge of the parties. Affection of course has nothing to do in the cause, and fiequently the parties not liking each other never live together. Another more serious objection to this custom arises from the number of females left in a widowed state even while children, and who, being forbidden by the laws to marry again, generally become outcasts in society.
To this unfeeling custom is to be added another, still more barbarous, and which falls upon the whole body of females, that of denying them even the least portion of education ; the most direful calamities are denounced against the woman who shall dare to aspire to the dangerous pre-eminence of being able to read and write. Not a single female seminary exists among the Hindoos; and possibly not twenty females, blest with the common rudiments of even Hindoo learning, are to be found among as many millions. How greatly must a nation suffer from this barbarous system, which dooms one half of the immortal beings it conlains to a state of brutal ignorance !
This deficiency in the education and information of females not only prevents their becoming agreeable companions to their husbands, but renders them incapable of forming the minds of their children, and of giviog them that instruction which lays the foundation of future excellence ; by which tender offices, European mothers become greater benefactors to the age in which they live, than all the learned men with which a country can be blessed.
The exclusioa of females from every public and social cir. cle, is another lamentable blemish in the civil institutions of the Hindoos ; for who will deny, that to the company of the fair sex, we are to attribute very much of the politeness and urbanity which is found in the manners of modern times amongst European nations !
The permission of polygamy, and the ease with which a man may put away his wife,* must be highly unfavourable to the interests of virtue, and contribute greatly to the universal corruption of the people. It is only necessary for a inan to call his wife by the name of mother, and all connubial intercourse is at an end : this is the only bill of divorcement required.
· Manners.--The natives are full of extravagant flattery, and the most fulsome panegyric. It is really curious to see the contrast betwixt the bluntness of an enlightened European or American, and the smooth, easy, and even dignified polisho these naked Hindoos. On proper occasions, their conduct is truly graceful; and perhaps they may not improperly be ranked amongst the politest nations on earth ; yet, it is equal. Jy true, that, where a Hindoo feels that he is superior to a foreigner, in wealth or power, he is too often the most insolent tellow on earth.
Connected with this defect in the Hindoo character, is their proneness to deception and falsehood. Perhaps this is the vice of all effeminate nations, while blunt honesty, and stern
*“A barren wife may be superseded by another in the eighth year; she whose children are all dead in the tenth; she who brings forth only daughters, in the eleventh ; she who speaks unkindly, without delay."- Munoo.
integrity, are most common in climates where men are more robust. It is likewise certain, that people in a state of mental bondage are more deceitful; and that falsehood is most detested by men in a state of manly independence An Eng. lish sailor, however vicious in other respects, scorns to take refuge in a falsehood : but the Hindoos, imitating the gods, and encouraged by the shastre, which admits of prevarica
tiou in cases of necessity, are notoriously addicted to falsehood, whenever their fears, their cupidity, or their pride, present the temptation. The author has heard Hindoos of all ranks declare, that it was impossible to transact business with a strict adherence to truth, and that falsehood, on such occasions, would not be noticed in a future state. At other times, they profess to have the greatest abhorrence of lying, and quote the words of their shastrus which prohibit this vice, with every appearance of conscientious indignation.
They are very litigious and quarrelsome, and, in defence of a cause in a court of justice, will swear falsely in the most shocking manoer, so that a judge never knows when he may safely believe Hindoo witnesses. It is said, that some of the courts of justice are infested by a set of men termed four anas' men ; who, for so paltry a sum, are willing to make oath to any fact, however false.
The treachery of this people to each other is so great, that it is not uncommon for persons to live together, for the greatest length of time, without the least confidence in each other; and, where the greatest union apparently exists, it is dissolved by the slightest collision. A European never has the heart of a Hindoo, who peither knows the influence of gratitude, nor feels the dignity of a disinterested attachment.
The Hindoos are excessively addicted to coretousness, especially in the great towns, where they have been corrupted by commerce : almost the whole of their incidental conversation turns upon roopees and kourees.
Gaming is another vice to which the Hindoos, encouraged by their sacred writings, are extremely addicted, and in the practice of which their holiest monarch, Yoodhistjbiru, twice lost his kingdom.
They are fond of ostentation, and, for the sake of the applause of their neighbours, however parsimonious at other times, will be content to incur the heaviest expenses. Their feasts, marriages, and other shows, are all regulated by this principle. A great name' is the first object of their desire, and reproach the greatest object of their dread. Such a person has married his daughter to such a kooleenu, or, he is a family uncontaminated by mixture with shoodrus, or by eating prohibited food; or, he has expended so many thousand roopees on the funeral rites for his father ; or he is very liberal, especially to bramhuns ; or, he is very eloquent, or very learned-are common forms of commendation among this people, and to obtain which they consider no sacrifices too great.
Literature. The Hindoos attribute their ancient writings to the gods; and, for the origin of the vedus, or sacred writings, they go still higher, and declare them to have been from everlasting. Though it would be unjust to withhold the palm of distinguished merit from many of their learned men, especially when we consider the early period in which they lived, yet, when compared with the writers of modern times, we are ready to pity the weakness of unassisted reason, even in individuals in whom it shone with the highest splendour.
Hindoostan has produced a vast number of writers, particularly on the subjects of religion and philosophy; and it is a most curious fact that on both these subjects, the opinions of the Hindoo, and those of the Greek philosophers, agree exactly in many of the material points. The subjects which engaged the chief attention of the Hindoo philosophers, were the divine nature, the evidences of truth, the origin of things, the nature of the different forms of matter, and the methods of obtaining reunion to the soul of the world, and it will not escape the recollection of the classical reader, that these were the very subjects as constantly discussed in the Grecian schools. We cannot here enter fully into this subject, but must content ourselves with stating some of the doctrines of the Hindoo philosophers, and occasionally comparing their notions with those of the Grecians,
Kopilu, the sage, and grandson to Munoo, teacher of some of the sacred writings, taught that nature was the origin, or root of the universe, because every thing proceeded from it, or was to be traced to it, and that beyond it nothing was discoverable. Nature he said was indescribable, because none of the senses could comprehend it, and yet, that it was one, under several forms ; as time, space, &c. are one, though they have many divisions ; that there was in nature a property which is called Greatness, from which arose pride, or consciousness of separate existence, or appropriation ; from the latter quality, spring water, fire, air, and space, or primary atoms; and he described these elements combined, as forming