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it is said, at death, fly at once into Brahmaloka, or the sphere of Brahmá. In the temple which contains these idols, there is a great assemblage of other images, consisting, for the most part, of lingas, representing Siva, which are chiefly arranged by the wall, and form, what the natives term, a kachahri or court of gods. In the latter half of the month of Jeth, a great many persons bathe at this ghát, and, also, in a small tank, near by, called Rudrasar, which shares in the sanctity of the neighbourhood. For fifteen days the bathing and practice of religious ceremonies continue, the virtue of each day increasing in an arithmetical series; so that the virtue acquired on the fifteenth day is fifteen times as great as that acquired on the first; and the aggregate virtue amassed during the entire fifteen days, consequently, amounts to the virtue of one hundred and twenty days.
After terminating the ten sacrifices, it occurred to Brahmá, that he had not effected his object with Raja Divodás, in inducing him to commit sin. How could he, therefore, return to Siva ? And, enamoured with all he saw around him, and flattered by Divodás, who built for him a house of great beauty, he settled the difficulty by determining to remain where he was, until Siva came to him.
In the Siddheswari Mahalla are two temples, held by devout Hindus in great repute. One is the Siddheswarí temple itself, to which is attached the ancient well known as Chandra-kúp; the other is the temple of Sankatá Deví. The former consists of two small quadrangles, in the first of which, in the centre of the
open space, is Chandra-kúp, or the well dedicated to the moon,—from chandra, the moon, and kúpa, a well. In the month of Chait, on the day of the full moon, this spot is visited by pilgrims, who cast their offerings into the well, in honour of the lunar deity. They also resort thither whenever a new moon occurs on a Monday; as that day is sacred to this luminary. In the sacred quadrangle a figure of the goddess Durga is seen in a niche at the base of the wall, on the right-hand side as you enter. With one hand she grasps a lotos, and, with another a sword; the third hand rests upon a lion, and the fourth, upon a buffalo. A verandah extends along two sides of this enclosure, supported on pillars, the walls of which are decorated with paintings in vivid colours, several of which represent incarnations of the god Gaņeś. Behind the verandah is the shrine of Siddheswari, the goddess who contributes perfection. Oppressed with the ills and trials of life, the Hindu approaches the goddess, and presents to her newly-gathered flowers, and water from the Ganges, hoping to obtain the promised blessing. He retires, believing in the virtue of his sacrifice, yet sick at heart, with his sorrows unrelieved and his sins unforgiven.
Sankațá Deví is another goddess who is thought to bestow similar favours on her votaries. Her shrine is situated on one side of a spacious quadrangle, in the middle of which, raised upon a platform, is an assemblage of temples and idols; and, on the western side of the platform, a bell hangs, suspended from the stone scaffolding. A portion of the quadrangle is
appropriated to a math or Hindu monastery. Among the
persons attached to the monastery are certain devout Hindus who have come to the sacred city to die; but by far the larger number of residents are young men receiving instruction in the Hindu Sástras. The Sankațá Ghát, leading down to the river, is a short distance from this place. On the stairs stands a large figure of Mahábír, the monkey-god; and lower down is a domed temple, containing an emblem of Siva, over which a goblet is suspended, from which water drops incessantly upon the idol, through a hole in the bottom.
To the north of Sankața Ghát is Rám Ghát, on the steps of which is a temple, or, more properly, a room, filled with the most grotesque collection of deities to be found in Benares. The images are dressed in brightcoloured garments interwoven with tinsel, and are of various shapes and forms. Some present a hideous appearance, having large eyes and mouths, and being destitute of hands and feet. The whole collection looks like a doll-shop of a very vulgar description. It is difficult to understand how persons in their senses can pay divine homage to such frightful objects; yet, on conversing with the priests, they boldly defended the adoration of them, and perceived, or pretended to perceive, neither the absurdity nor the degradation of such a proceeding.
Most of the gháts leading from the streets of the city down into the river have been built by Rajas or other powerful natives, and are, generally, provided with one or more temples, especially S'iválayas, or temples dedicated to Siva.