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from the shores of the Indus to the banks of the Ganges, and in that humiliating posture, collect money to enable them either to build a temple, to dig a well, or to atone for some particular sin. Some swing during their whole life, in this torrid clime before a slow fire ; others suspend themselves, with their head downwards, for a certain time over the fiercast flames.
The engraving exhibits the position of a Hindoo Fakeer who has lived near Calcutta. T' bis man has held his arms upwards till all circulation has ceased ; his nails bave grown into long claws, and his arms have withered and become dead and stiff, so that they can not be removed from the position. He sits with his legs crossed and placed under him till they also have become almost useless. In this situation he is brought out daily and placed on his seat, which is covered with a leopard skin, his back being supported with a cushion, and thus is be exhibited by the side of a public road. The natives crowd round this Fakeer, (or Mendicant Devotee) and thinking him a most holy map and a wonderful favorite of their gods, they respect him with fear and reverence. Some of these Fakeers make vows to continue all their life time in one posture, and keep it effectually. Others never lie down; but continue in a standing posture all their lives, supported only by a stick or rope under their arm pite : some mangle their bodies with scourges and koives. They look upon themselves to have conquered every passion and triumphed over the world. It has been thought that they submitted to these sufferings to obtain the pardon of their sins, but their chief object undoubtedly is to obtain some favour from the gods, and to excite the wonder and veneration of the ignorant Heathen. They hope by these tortures eventually to become great men and Kings upon the earth. They conceive their own merit to be so great that they can compel their gods to grant tbem their wishes, and the common people are thoroughly persuaded of their virtue and innocence. Still these Fakeers are accused of committing the most enormous crimes in private.
These tortures are sometimes undergone as proxies on behalt of richer persons, the devotee thus lets out his sufferings to hire, in order thereby to procure, as is imagined, some benefit to a richer neighbour who would rather part with his money than his ease. · Other Fanatics.--A set of verv extraordinary Hindoo fanatics are to be met with in various parts of the country :particular villages are appropriated for the ceremony of swinging, where the swingers assemble at stated seasons. In the centre of an area, surrounded by numerous spectators, is erected a pole, from twenty to thirty feet in height, on which is placed a long horizontal beam, with a rope run over a pully at the extremity ; to this rope they fix an iron hook, whicb being drawn through the integuments of the devoted swinger, he is suspended aloft in the air, amidst the acclamations of the multitude ; the longer he is capable of this painful exertion, and the more violently be swings himself round, the greater the merit : from the flesh giving way, the performer sometimes falls from this towering height, and breaks a limb ; if he escapes that accident, from the usual temperance of the Hindoos, the wound soon heals :-this penance is generally voluntary, in performance of a religious vow, or inflicted for the expiation of sins committed, either by himself, or some of his family. It will be seen how exactly this account agrees with the instances before given from Dr. Ward.
The Pooleahs and Pariars.-The degraded Pooleahs are an abject and unfortunate race, who, by cruel laws and tyrannical customs, are reduced to a wretched state ; while the monkeys are adored as sylvan deities, and in some parts of Malabar, bave temples and daily sacrifices. I have often, says Forbes, lamented the treatment of the poor Pooleahs, and the cruel difference made by human laws between them and the pampered Brahmins. Banished from society, they have neither houses por lands, but retire to solitary places, hide themselves in ditches, and climb into umbrageous trees for shelter ; they are not permitted to breathe the same air with the other castes, nor to travel on a public road : if by accident they should be there, and perceive a Brahmin or Nair at a distance, they must instantly make a loud howling, to warn him from approaching until they have retired, or climbed up the nearest tree. If a Nair accidently meets a Pooleah on the highway, he cuts him down with as little ceremony as others destroy a noxious animal ; even the lowest of other castes will have no communication with a Pooleah. Hunger sometimes compels them to approach the villages to exchange baskets, fruit, or such commodities as they may have for a little grain, having called aloud to the peasants, they tell their wants, leave their barter on the ground, and retiring to a distance, trust to the hopesty of the villagers, to place a measure of corn equal in value to the barter which the Pooleahs afterwards take away. Constant poverty and accumulated misery have entirely debased the human form,
and given a squalid and savage appearance to these unbappy beings,
Yet, debased and oppressed as the Pooleahs are, there exists throughout India a caste called Pariars, still more abject and wretched. If a Pooleah, by any accident, touches a Pariar, he must perform a variety of ceremonies, and go through many ablutions, before he can be cleansed from the impurity. With euch ideas of defilement, no marriages are contracted between the Pooleahs and Pariars, nor do they eat together, though the only difference in their epicurean banquet is, that the Pooleabs eat of all animal food, except beef, and sometimes of that which dies of itself; the Pariars not only feast upon the dead carcases, but eat beef and carrion of every kind. The Brahmins of Malabar have thought proper to place Christians in the same rank with the Pariars.
Burning of a Widow.—The following account of the burning of a Gentoo woman, on the funeral pile of her deceased husband, is taken from the Voyages of Stavorinus, wbo was an eye-witness to the ceremony. “ We found.” says M. Stavorinus, “ the body of the deceased lying upon a couch, covered with a piece of white cotton, and strewed with betelleaves. The woman, who was to be the victim, sat upon the couch, with her face turned to that of the deceased. She was richly adorned, and held a little green branch in her right hand, with wbich she drove away the flies from the body. She seemed like one buried in the most profound meditation, yet betrayed no signs of fear. Many of her relations attended upon her, who, at stated intervals, struck up various kinds of music.
“The pile was made by driving green bamboo stakes into the earth, between which was first laid fire-wood, very dry and combustible ; upon this was put a quantity of dry straw, or reeds, besmeared with grease : this was done alternately, till the pile was five feet in height, and the whole was then strewed with rosin finely powdered. A white cotton sheet, which had been washed in the Ganges, was then spread over the pile, and the whole was ready for the reception of the victim.
- The widow was now.admonished by a priest, that it was time to begin the rites. She was then surrounded by women, who offered her betel, and besought her to supplicate favours for them when she joined her husband in the presence of Ram, or their highest god ; and above all, that she would salute their deceased friends, whom she might meet in the celestial mansions.
* In the mean time, the body of the husband was taken and washed in the river. The woman was also led to the Ganges for ablution, where she divested herself of all ber ornaments. Her head was covered with a piece of silk, and a cloth was tied round her body, in which the priests put some parched rice.
" She then took a farewell of her friends, and was conducted by two of her female relations to the pile. When she came to it, she scattered flowers and parched rice upon the spectators, and put some into the mouth of the corpse. Two priests next led her ihree times round it, while she threw rice among the by-standers, who gathered it up with great eagerness. The last time she went round, she placed a little earthen burning lamp to each of the four corners of the pile, then laid herself down on the right side, next to the body, which she embraced with both her arms, a piece of white cotton was spread over them both, they were bound together with two easy bandages, and a quantity of fire-wood, straw, and rosin, was laid upon them. In the last place, ber nearest relation, to whom, on the banks of the river, she had given her nose-jewels, came with a burning torch, and set the straw on fire, and in a moment the whole was in a flame. The noise of the drums, and the shouts of the spectators, were such, that the shrieks of the unfortunate woman, if she uttered any, could not have been heard.
From an official document it appears, that in the year 1815, between 400 and 500 widows, of the province of Bengal, had voluntarily sacrificed themselves on the funeral piles of their husbands ; in 1816, upwards of 600 ; and in 1817, 706.
Burying alive.-The cremation of Hindoo widows with the bodies of their deceased husbands is now no longer doubted; but it is more difficult to believe, that men in the prime of life, and surrounded by every blessing, should voluntarily desire to immolate themselves to their deities, and be buried alive; it is no uncommon sacrifice among the tribe of Gosannees, and other Hindoo devotees. “A short time before I took charge of Dhuboy,” says Forbes, "a young man in. sisted on being interred alive near the temple at the Gate of Diamonds; and soon afterwards another performed the same sacrifice, about half a mile without the English districts, hecause I refused him perrnission to do it in his native village ; for neither is this self immolation, the cremation of women, nor any other act of suicide allowed within the Company's territories. These solemn sacrifices are always performed in the presence of many witnesses, and during the celebra
tion of various religious rites and ceremonies by the Brah
On such a sacrifice being announced, a large crowd assem- . ble ; a round pit is dug, of a depth sufficient for a man to stand upright, into which the self-devoted victim descends, and the earth is gradually thrown on, until it entirely covers him. A tomb of solid. masoniy is immediately erected over his head, and solemn rites and flowery offerings are performed at stated periods, in memory of a saint, who is supposed to have rendered an acceptable sacrifice to the destructive power, or some other deity in the Hindoo mythology.
The practice of destroying infants is very common in India, particularly amongst the inhabitants of Orissa, and of the eastern parts of Bengal, where they frequently offer their children to the goddess Gunga. Mr. Ward relates the following shocking custom as prevalent principally in the northern district of Bengal :
If an infant refuse the mother's breast, and decline in health, it is said to be under the influence of some malignant spirit. Such a child is sometimes put into a basket, and hung up in a tree where this evil spirit is supposed to reside. It is generally destroyed by ants, or birds of prey ; but sometimes perishes by neglect, though fed and clothed daily. If it should not be dead at the expiration of three days, the mother receives it home again, and nurses it; but this seldom happens. The late .Mr. Thomas, a missionary, once saved and restored to its mother, an infant which had fallen out of a basket, at Bholahatu, near Malda, at the moment a jaekal was running away with it. As this gentleman and Mr. Carey were afterwards passing under the same tree, they found a basket hanging in the branches, containing the skeleton of another infant, which had been devoured by ants. The custom is unknown in many places ; but it is to be feared, is too common in others.
In the north western parts of Hindoost'hanu, the horrid practico of sacrificing female children as soon as bora, has been known from time immemorial. The Hindoos ascribe this custom to a prophecy delivered by a Bramhun to Dweepusinghu, a raju-pootu king, that his race would lose the sovereignty through one of his female posterity. Another opinion is, that this shocking practice has arisen out of the law of marriage, which obliges the bride's father to pay almost divine honours to the bridegroom; hence persons of high cast, unwilling thus to humble themselves for the sake of a daughter, destroy the infant. In the Punjab, and neighbouring