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Death of Akbar ; translated from the Persian of Mahummud
E have already * given our opinion of a work fome
what similar to this, but executed in a very different manner. Mr. Dow is a very sober admirer of the authorities from which he writes, and talks of them like a sensible, ra? tional man, even while he is recounting their absurdities. Though he held a military post in Bengal, he applied himself to the study of the Persian tongue, which is the most polite and universal of any in Asia ; and made such a progress in it, that he translated this History from the original of Mahummud Casim Ferishta of Delhi, who flourished about the beginning of the seventeenth century. He had also formed a design to compile, from various authors, that very essential part of the history of the Mogul empire, which is not comprehended in the translation before us. For this province he was the better qualified, by enjoying the patronage of the present Mogul; but from various causes he was obliged to discontinue his undertaking, and to return to Europe.
* See vol. xx, p. 145. Vol. XXVI. Auguft, 1768.
The History before us is rather part of that of the Mahometan empire in India, than a general account of the affairs of the Hindoos; and Mr. Dow very candidly tells us, that what his original says concerning India prior to the first invafion of the Afghan Muffulmen, which we apprehend happened about the 970th year of the Christian æra, is far from being satisfaâory. Ferishta's accounts were collected from Persian authors; and he was unacquainted with the Shanfcrita, or learned language of the brahmins, in which the internal hiftory of India is composed. Our translator seems to think pretty highly of the authority of the brahmins, who, according to his narrative, form a kind of college of free-mafuns'; for their rites, learning, discipline, and doctrine, have remained from the most remote antiquity infcrutable to all but them. selves.
We are far from insinuating the least distrust of what Mr. Dow advances on the subject of the brahmins; and we think that great credit is due to his researches, by his declaring that he found himself obliged to differ almost in every particular concerning the religion of the Hindoos, from Mr. Holwell. We must, after all, be of opinion, that an accurate European author, with the very best information that can be obtained, is liable to be imposed on in those Eleusinian rites and ceremonies. The East Indians are of all people the most mysterious ; nor does it much signify to the learned world, whether Pythagoras borrowed his philosophy from the brahmins, or the brahmins from him. By the best accounts we have, many reveries, some truth, and a great deal of morality are in com. mon to both; but who can speak with precision upon a subject in which the most enlightened is forced to acknowledge his ignorance ? and were it otherwise, who can answer that the play would be worth the candle, or that the discovery could, answer the trouble ? We fhall therefore take the liberty to omit many of the religious and philosophical contents of the diflertation concerning the Hindoos, which Mr. Dow has prefixed to his Hiftory, though it may afford great entertainment to some readers. The following quotation, however, from a dialogue between Brimha, the Wisdom of the Divinity, and Narud, or Reason, who is represented as the son of Brimha, is a very uncommon specimen of the Hindoo philosophy.
• Narud. O father! thou firit of God, thou art said to have created the world, and thy fon Narud, astonished at what he beholds, is desirous to be instructed how all these things were made.
Brimba. Be not deceived, my fon! do not imagine that I was the creator of the world, independent of the divine
Mover, who is the great original effence, and creator of all things. ' Look, therefore, only upon me as the instrument of the great Will, and a part of his being, whom he called forth to execute his eternal designs.
© Narud. What shall we think of God?
• Brimba. Being immaterial, he is above all conception ; being invisible, he can have no form ; but, from what we behold in his works, we may conclude that he is eternal, omnipotent, knowing all things, and present every where.'
After some metaphyfical and other jargon, Narud proceeds as follows:
• Narud. What is the nature of that absorbed state which the souls of good men enjoy after death?
• Brimba. It is a participation of the divine nature, where all passions are utterly unknown, and where consciousness is loft in bliss.
»• Narud. Thou sayft, O father! that unless the soul is perfectly pure, it cannot be absorbed into God: now, as the actions of the generality of men are partly good, and partly bad, whither are their spirits sent immediately after death?
Brimha. They must atone for their crimes in hell, where they must remain for a space proportioned to the degree of their iniquities ; then they rise to heaven to be rewarded for a time for their virtues; and from thence they will return to the world, to reanimate other bodies.
* Narud. What is time?
• Brimba. Time existed from all eternity with God: but it can only be estimated since motion was produced, and only be conceived by the mind from its own constant progress.'
"We have exhibited these quotations as being much more consonant to the received opinions of true philosophy, than those to be met with in other publications of this kind, but we cannot give them credit for their very high antiquity; and perhaps fome readers may agree with us, that they contain indigested morsels of Pythagorisin, debafed Christianity, and true philosophy.' The following extract, however, bids fair to prove that, through all its allegorical veils, the religion of the true brahmins is neither more nor less than materialism.
In India, as well as in many other countries, there are two religious fects; the one look up to the divinity through the medium of reafon and philofophy; while the others re. ceive, as an article of their belief, every holy legend and alle. gory which have been transmitted down from antiquity. From a fundamental article in the Hindoo faith, that God is the Soul of the world, and is consequently diffused through all na.
ture, the vulgar revere, all the elements, and consequently every great natural object, as containing a portion of God; nor is the infinity of the Supreme Being easily comprehended by weak minds, without falling into this error. This veneration for different objects has, no doubt, given rise among the common Indians, to an idea of fubaltern intelligences; but the learned brahmins, with one voice, deny the existence of inferior divinities; and, indeed, all their religious books, of any antiquity, confirm that allertion.'
The fair inference from this quotation, we will venture to say, is, that the learned brahmins exclude from the fyttem of their religion the belief of a particular Providence.
We shall, for the reasons already hinted at, omit our au. thor's account of the ancient history of Hindoftan, before it was invaded by the Moslems or Mussulmen, from which time we perceive that its great lines coincide with those of the Moflem historians of the califate. We think, however, that the latter poffess a fancy and genius superior to Ferifhra, and that their narratives of the same facts are more amusing, though perhaps they may be less genuine. We wish that Mr. Dow had compared the narratives of Abulfeda al Makin and other Moslem historians with Ferishta, where they treat of the same facts. If our reader has any inclination to gratify his curiosity in that respect, he inay consult the third volume of the Modern Universal History.
Sultan Mamood, or, as he is called by the above authors, Mahmud of Gazna (Ferifhta calls it Ghizni) makes the greatest figure in the first volume of this History. He flou. rihed in the year of the Hegira 387, which answers to the 997th of the Christian æra. He was a son of the valiant Subuctagi, one of the soldiers of fortune who had formed an empire from the ruins of the califate. He was absent from court at the death of his father, who appointed Ismaiel, Mamood's younger brother, to succeed him. Mamood soon asserted his birth right, and defeated his brother, who died in prison, The following particulars are extracted from Mr. Dow's work, and serve to give the reader fome idea of that great conqueror's character, as well as of Ferifhta's manner of writing.
• We are told by historians, that sultan Mamood was a king who conferred happiness upon the world, and reflected' glory upon the faith of Mahomed: that the day of his accession illuminated the earth with the bright torch of juftice, and che. rished it with the beams of beneficence.": Others inform us, that in his disposition, the fordid vice of avarice found place, which however could not darken the other brighat qualities of which
his mind. A certain poet says, that his wealth was like a pearl in the shell ; but as poets hunt after wit rather than truth, therefore we must judge of Mamood by his actions, from which it appears that he was indeed a prince of great ceconomy, but that he never witheld his generosity upon a just and proper occasion. We have the testimony of the Fatti Bilad, wrote by Abu Nifir Muscati, and of the famous Abul Fazil, that no king had ever more learned men at his court, kept a finer army, or displayed more magnificence than sultan Mamood. All these things could not be done without expence; so that the stigma of avarice must have been owing to two particular circumstances of his life, ought by no means to have stamped his general character with that fordid vice.
.“ The two circumstances in a few words were these. Have ing a great propensity to poetry, in which he made some tolerable progress himself, he promised Sheck Phirdoci a golden mher * for every verse of an heroic poem which he was desirous to patronize. Under the protection of this promise, that di. yine poet wrote the unparalleled poem called the Shaw Namma, which consisted of fixty thousand couplets. When he presented it to the king, he repented of his promise, telling the poet, that he thought fixty thousand rupees might satisfy him for a work which he seemed to have performed with so much ease and expedition. Phirdoci, justly offended at this indig. nity, could never be brought to accept of any reward, though Sultan Mamood would after reflection have gladly paid him the fum originally stipulated; the poet, however, took ample rekenge in a satire of seven hundred couplets which he wrote upon that occafion.
•Sultan Mamood, who it is reported was defective in ex, ternal appearance, said one day, observing himself in a glass, " The light of a king should brighten the eyes of the be. holders, but nature has been fo capricious to me that my afpect seems the picture of misfortune.” The vizier replied, It is not one of ten thousand who are blessed with a sight of your majesty's countenance, but your virtues are diffused over all. But to proceed with our history. LpWe have already observed, that the father of fultan Ma
mood was Subuctagi. His mother was a princess of the house of Zabulftan, for which reason the is known by the name of
Zabuli. He was born in the year 357 of the Higerah, 'and, reas the astrologers say, with many happy omens expressed in the - DAS gato , Amber is about fourteen rupees ; " this coin was called
mher from having a fun stampt upon it. Mher fignifies tbe Jun, in the Persian G 3