« PreviousContinue »
ter, not indeed of Menu himself, but of Bhrigu, by whom the first code of sacred laws was promulgated.* She seems also to answer to some of the attributes of the Egyptian Isis, to whom corn, and, indeed, all the other productions of the earth were attributed. There can, however, be little doubt, we think, that Ceres and Isis were the same personages. The former was properly the goddess of agriculture, but the latter had numerous names and attributes, and hence the appellation given to her of Myrionyma.
The Lingam of the Hindūs seems to correspond in many respects with the Lampsacan god Phallus, or the Roman deity Priapus. This object of worship in India, sometimes represents both the male and female parts of generation, but generally only the former. A lamp is kept constantly burning before the image; but when the Brahmins perform their religious ceremonies, and make their offerings, which ge
* See Asiatic Res. 8vo. edit. vol. i. p. 240.
nerally consist of flowers, it is said that seven lamps are lighted; which De la Croze, speaking from the information of the protestant missionaries, says, exactly resemble the candelabras of the Jews, that are to be seen on the triumphal arch of Titus.
Very singular and striking marks of affinity appear in the religious rites performed to Phallus, by the Egyptians and Greeks, and those by the Hindus to Lingam; upon which occasions the emblematic representations of that deity, and the ceremonies used, seem exactly to resemble one another. The figure of Phallus was consecrated to Osiris, Dionysus, and Bacchus, who probably were the same: at the festivals of Osiris, it was carried, in Egypt, by women, and the figure of Lingam is now borne by women in Hindūstan.
Various accounts are given of the origin of this personage; but in Greece he appears to have been generally considered as the son of Bacchus and Venus, and to have been born in Lampsacus, in Asia Minor, where the goddess met Bacchus on his re
turn from his expedition into India. From the place of his birth, on the borders of the Hellespont, he is sometimes named Hellespontiacus. His naked figure is indecent, but as god of vineyards and gardens, he is found there with a head resembling that of a satyr placed on columns or termini.
We are told that Isis, having recovered all the dispersed members of her husband Osiris, excepting those of manhood, she consecrated a semblance of them, and ordained that it should be worshipped.
As the Hindūs depend on their children for performing those ceremonies to their manes, which, they believe, tend to mitigate punishment in a future state, they consider the being deprived of progeny as a severe misfortune, and the sign of having offended the deity. By no people are duties towards the dead ever more strictly observed, or the effects of performing or neglecting them, more religiously believed, than by the Hindūs. The care of them is the obligation of the eldest male child, or in failure of male children, of the nearest male
relation. As with the Greeks, it is the elder surviving relative, who lights the funeral pile.*
Married women wear a small gold Lingam tied round the neck or arm; and worship is paid to Lingam to obtain fecundity.
The priests who devote themselves to the service of this divinity, swear to observe
*The author, happening to be at Rajahmundry, the capital of the province of that name, was visited by a Hindū; who was returning from a pilgrimage to Benares, whither he had gone to perform certain religious ceremonies for the benefit of the soul of his deceased father. He was a man of rank and fortune, and had come from Surat on the gulf of Cambay, across the peninsula, striking to the north. From a journal which he communicated, it appeared that he had visited Oudeapour, Oujein, and other places that are respected by the Hindus. He had been to offer his devotions also at the temple of Jaggernaut, on the coast of Orixa; and, when the author saw him, was on his way to visit that of Seringham near Trichinopoly, whence he proposed to return to Surat. It would be difficult to ascertain the number of miles he had travelled, as during his journey, several of the places he visited, led him into great deviations from the common route,
inviolable chastity. They do not, like the priests of Atys, deprive themselves of the means of breaking their vows; but were it discovered that they had in any way departed from them, the punishment is death. Husbands, whose wives are barren, send them to worship Lingam at the temples; and it is supposed that the ceremonies on this occasion, if performed with proper zeal, are generally productive of the desired effect.
In the accounts of the festivals of Rama, and others of their demigods or heroes, a strong resemblance may be observed with those of Hercules and Theseus.*
The Hindūs, like the Greeks and Romans, have their household gods as well as their genii and aerial spirits. The Greeks ascribed the diseases to which men, and even cattle, are exposed, to some angry god, or
* See on the subject of the Hindū, Greek, and Italian divinities, the notes of M. Langlès to the translation of the first two volumes of the Asiatic Researches into French, vol. i. p. 273.