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The Mán-Mandil Ghát.—Temple of Dálbhyer'war.— Temple of the Moon
or Someswar.—The Mán-Mandil Observatory erected by Raja Jay Sinh—Description of its Instruments. The Nepalese Temple.
THE Mán-Mandil Ghát is principally remarkable for the old Observatory, situated upon the banks of the Ganges at this spot, and which will, presently, be more particularly referred to. This lofty building gives a noble appearance to the ghát, and commands a fine view of the river. Near the entrance to it is a collection of ancient idols which have been worn away by time and perpetual sacrificial ablutions. Several of these are figures of monkeys, representing the god Hanumán. A flag waves from the top of a high staff at this spot, in honour of the Raja of Jaypore, the proprietor of this entire Mahalla or ward of the city,—whose ancestor Raja Jay Sinh erected the Observatory. In a lane leading to the ghát is the temple of Dálbhyeswar, which deity is supposed to exercise great power over the clouds, in procuring rain. The image is in a cistern, low down in the centre of the temple. If the idol is properly worshipped and kept drenched with water, pious Hin
dus believe that he will look with favour on the prayer for rain. As the heat is now daily increasing in intensity, and the rains, both for the cooling of the atmosphere and for the fertilizing of the soil, are beginning to be desired, the god was lately treated to a delightful bath, which he is imagined to have received with prodigious satisfaction. Not only the cistern, but also the entire temple, up to the threshold, was filled with water. This event, which was noised abroad among the natives, has considerably heightened, in their estimation, the probability of rain. Dálbhyeswar is also known as the Poor Man's Friend; for, should a man in straitened circumstances visit this shrine, and duly perform the prescribed ceremonies, his poverty, they say, will disappear, and his wants be relieved. One would have thought that the squalid and indigent people inhabiting the sacred city and resorting thither would have flocked eagerly to this temple, had they had the smallest particle of faith in the god there. Associated with Dálbhyeśwar are Chaturbhuj or Vishņu, Sítalá (the goddess of Small-pox), and other deities.
Close by is Someswar Mandil or the Temple of the Moon, from Soma, the moon. Here, it is imagined, diseases of every character may be healed; and, while the god is regarded in the light of an all-powerful physician, his temple is spoken of as a hospital. It need hardly be remarked, that, since these are the sentiments of the people, their practice strangely belies
1 This was written as the summer was advancing, before the rains commenced.
such sentiments; for, instead of thronging to this shrine, they visit, in great numbers, the European hospitals and their own native doctors. The wonder is, that, although, after worshipping this god, they are not healed, but remain as they were, their faith in him continues unabated. Such is the force of habit uninfluenced by considerations of reason. A short distance from this temple, in an alley running into one of the streets, is the shrine of Baráhan Deví, who is worshipped in the morning, and is held to be a very potent goddess. On approaching the temple, I was requested to take off my shoes, in order not to defile the hallowed spot, an honour I declined to render to the goddess. The peculiar virtue ascribed to this deity is, to heal all such of her worshippers as are afflicted with a swelling in the hands or feet.
The Observatory is a substantial building, rising high above the ghát. The approach to it is not from the ghát, but from a street leading to it, at a considerably higher elevation than the foundations of the edifice. Passing up the steps, you enter a court, one side of which faces the river. From this you ascend a staircase, which brings you to that part of the building devoted to astronomical purposes.
The Observatory was erected by Raja Jay Sinh, who “succeeded to the inheritance of the ancient Rajas of Ambheri, in the year of Vicramaditya 1750, corresponding to 1693 of the Christian era. His mind had been early stored with the knowledge contained in the Hindu writings; but he appears to have especially attached himself to the mathematical sciences; and his
reputation for skill in them stood so high, that he was chosen, by the Emperor Mahommed Shah, to reform the calendar, which, from the inaccuracy of the existing tables, had ceased to correspond with the actual appearance of the heavens. Jayasinha (Jey Singh) undertook the task, and constructed a new set of tables, which, in honour of the reigning prince, he named Zeej Mahommedshahy. By these, almanacks are constructed at Delhi, and all astronomical computations made at the present time.”l For the accomplishment of this undertaking, and the promotion of astronomical investigations, Jay Sinh erected five observatories; namely, at Delhi, Benares, Mathura, Oujein, and Jeypore, remains of which exist to the present day. But he himself has described the object he had in view in their erection, in his preface to the Zeej Mahommedshahy. In the Asiatic Researches, Vol. v., this preface is given entire. A few quotations from this curious production may not be uninteresting.
Since, he says, “the well-wisher of the works of creation, and the admiring spectator of the theatre of infinite wisdom and providence, Suvai Jey Singh, from the first dawning of reason in his mind, and during its progress towards maturity, was entirely devoted to the study of mathematical science, and the bent of his mind was constantly directed to the solution of its most difficult problems, by the aid of the Supreme Artificer, he obtained a thorough knowledge of its principles and rules. He found that the calculation of the places of the stars, as obtained from
1 Asiatic Researches, Vol. v., pp. 177, 178.
the tables in common use, such as the new tables of Seid Goorganee and Khaeanee, and the InsheelatMula-Chand-Akber-shahee, and the Hindu books, and the European tables, in very many cases, give them widely different from those determined by observation; especially the appearance of the new moons, the computation of which does not agree with observation. Seeing that very important affairs, both regarding religion and the administration of empire, depend upon these, and that, in the time of the rising and setting of the planets, and the seasons of the eclipses of the sun and moon, many considerable disagreements of a similar nature are found, he represented it to his Majesty,--of dignity and power, the sun of the firmament of felicity and dominion, the splendour of the forehead of imperial magnificence, the unrivalled pearl of the sea of sovereignty, the incomparably brightest star of the heaven of empire, whose standard is the Sun, whose retinue the Moon, whose lance is Mars, and his
pen like Mercury, whose threshold is the Sky, whose signet is Jupiter, whose sentinel Saturn, the Emperor descended from a long race of kings, an Alexander in dignity, the shadow of God, the victorious king, Mahommed Shah,—may he ever be triumphant in battle!"
“Thereupon the Emperor graciously ordered him to labour for the ascertaining of the point in question, that the disagreement between the calculated times of those phenomena, and the times in which they are observed to happen, may be rectified.” “Finding that brass instruments did not come up to the ideas which