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temple, and gave it the name of Břiddhkál, a corruption of two Sanskrit words, briddha,' or more properly, vriddha,' and 'kála,' the former meaning old, and the latter, fate. Mahadeva endowed it with two remarkable properties; the one, that of healing disease, and the other, that of prolonging life. The temple is one of the oldest in the city, and stands on the boundary of Benares Proper,-indisputably the most ancient portion of the existing city, where it unites itself with Kásí, a less ancient portion.
On ascending the steps, and traversing the passage running from the doorway to the inner part of the edifice, we are met by a red figure of Mahábír, the monkey-god, standing within a shrine at the corner of a court into which the passage leads. Close by, to the right, is a small temple dedicated to the goddess Kálí, a small black deity cut out of stone, dressed in a red garment, with a garland of flowers hanging from the neck. In front of her is a hollow space, in the form of a square, for the residence of Mahadeva; and outside of it is a bull, for the god to ride on.
To the right of Kálí, leaning against the wall, are figures of Gaṇeś and Párvatí; and to the left of the latter are images representing Bhairo, the Sun, Hanumán, and Lakshmínáráyaņ or Vishņu, and his wife Lakshmí. Immediately opposite to the temple of Kálí are two wells. The first is shallow, and contains putrid water, whose disgusting fetor fills the entire court. Into this well sick persons, and those wishing for long life, plunge their bodies. The former also take various medicines, and resort to other useful means for regaining
their health ; and, should they recover, the foul well gets the credit of their restoration. Should the disease, however, be of an obstinate character, such as leprosy or elephantiasis, they must constantly bathe in the well for a period of twelve years. Instead of showing us a man who had been cured, they brought a leper who had strongly-defined marks of leprosy on his legs. He was trying the efficacy of the bath, and said he was better than when he had first arrived. The water of the well is reported to be impregnated with sulphur, in which case it would, doubtless, be very serviceable in some diseases, especially those affecting the skin. In conjunction with washing in this well, it is necessary also to drink of the water of the second well, which, unlike the other, contains sweet water, and has a raised parapet round its mouth. Near the wall of the court is a collection of stone deities, all representing the linga. They are nine in number, of which several are, appafently, very old. Two stone figures of satís have also been placed here, in commemoration of the self-immolation of widows on this spot in former times.
To the right of the court is a small square, with a temple in the middle, dedicated to Mahadeva. A serpent is entwined about the chief idol, which is called Nágeśwar, or the Serpent-god. The central deity is surrounded by others of smaller stature. Passing beyond this square, we come to another, in which two peepul trees and one neem tree are growing. This quadrangle has no temple in it, but is used as a residence for devotees. Close by is another quadrangle, the residence of the deity Briddhkál. The shrine within contains two
compartments, one of which Bșiddhkál occupies. He sits in a cistern, while, over his head, hangs a small brass vessel, filled with water, which drops through a hole upon him, without intermission. Though only a plain stone or linga, he is regarded as a very sacred object. In a niche in the verandah is an antique image of the elephant-headed god Games. There is another shrine in the area of this quadrangle, flat-roofed, and containing an image of Hanumán.
Returning to the court, in which the wells are situated, and passing through a corridor to the north, we come to a small enclosure, the walls of which are in a dilapidated condition. Here are two shrines, of considerable interest on account of the singular legends associated with them. That on the right is called Márkandeswar. Márkanda was a Rishi, whom Mahadeva, it is said, for his piety, endowed with immortality; and who, in acknowledgment of the honour, dedicated this temple to Mahádeva. That on the left is called Daksheśwar, the legend respecting whom fills several pages of the Kási-khanda. The tale, as revealing some strange events connected with the domestic life of the ruling god of Benares, is worth recounting. Raja Daksh, one of the heroes of the story, is still famous in Benares, and was, no doubt, a real personage.
The wife of Siva, it seems, although a goddess, dies like common mortals; but, unlike them, shortly after her death, she is born again into the world, and, assuming another name on arriving at maturity, is always married to the same husband, namely, Mahadeva or Siva. On one occasion, the story goes, Mahádeva
assembled, for some purpose, all the gods of heaven and earth. His wife Satí was also there, and likewise her father, Raja Daksh. It appears that Mahádeva neglected to pay proper respect to his father-in-law in the presence of the deities; and, consequently, on departing, the Raja relieved his feelings by showering upon him the following abuse :“You have neither caste nor habitation, and yet have taken to yourself a wife. You are naked, and wear long hair, and lie down on a tiger's skin. You never had father or mother. Your body is covered with ashes; and, at the end of the world, you will destroy everybody. I have committed a great mistake, in giving you my daughter to wife.” After this mental relief, the Raja went home, and prepared a great religious festival, to which he invited all the gods and Rajas, with the exception of Mahadeva and his wife. These latter did not know what was occurring; but Nárad Muni came to them and told them all about it. On hearing of the circumstance, Satí requested permission to go to her father's house, and see, for herself, what was the real state of the case. But Mahadeva urged that she had not been invited to the feast, and, therefore, declined to permit her to go. At last he yielded to her importunity, and she went. On arriving, only her mother paid her the slightest deference; all the rest of the family treating her with marked indifference. When the feast was served, she received her portion; but her husband's share, which ought, in his absence, to have been given to her, was withheld. At this neglect, Satí became exceedingly angry, and beat her head upon the ground, in passionate frenzy.
Moreover, the heavens themselves sent down a shower of blood, in token of their sympathy with her. Several of the gods of the party, disapproving of Raja Daksh's proceeding, rose and left. On their departure, Satí, becoming still more excited, sought out the hole in which the sacrifice was being consumed, and, throwing herself into it, was burnt to ashes. When Nárad Muni brought news of this sad catastrophe to Mahadeva, his wrath rose to fierceness; and, creating an army of demons, he placed it under the command of Bírbhadra, a demon of giant strength, and sent it against the Raja, with orders to kill him, and to frustrate his sacrificial ceremony. On the way, Bírbhadra plucked up forests and mountains, and carried them along in his hands. Having reached the Raja's palace, the demons flew upon the people, slaughtered to right and left, and devoured the viands provided for the sacred feast. The invincible Birbhadra sought out the Raja, and, finding him, seized him with his hands, and, after crying out “Why did you blaspheme the god Mahadeva ?” cut off his head.
This bloody work being finished, Brahma, the first of the three deities placed at the head of the Hindu pantheon, proceeded, in great consternation, to Mahadeva, with whom he reasoned and expostulated respecting the awful calamity that had just occurred, and prevailed on him to accompany him to the scene of the recent carnage. On reaching the place, Mahadeva's heart was smitten with compassion for the slain; and he
gave orders that all the gods, Rishis, and Rajas should be again gathered together, as well the living as the