« PreviousContinue »
of India, every new built house has the name of Ganesa inscribed upon it. Few books are begun without the words " Salutation to Ganesa.'
In Saturn, Sir William Jones recognizes Menu or Satyavrata, whose patronymic name was Vaivaswata, or child of the sun; and whom the Hindus believe to have reigned over the world in the earliest age of their chronology. As the god of time, or rather as time personified, Saturn was represented holding a scythe in one hand, and in the other a serpent with its tail in its mouth, the symbol of perpetual cycles and revolutions of ages: sometimes he is to be seen in the act of devouring years in the form of children, and sometimes encircled by the seasons, appearing like boys and girls.
A relation between Yama, brother of Menu, and the Grecian Minos, the supposed son of Jove, may be inferred from his being distinguished, among other attri
butes, as judge of departed souls. In this character Yama is likewise named Darham Rajah. He has a sceptre in his hand, and rides on a buffalo. He has two genii under him, named Chiter and Gopt. The former has the charge of reporting the good, the other the bad actions of mankind; and that these may be exactly known, two inferior genii attend on every one of the human species, that of Chiter on the right, and that of Gopt on the left. The Hindus believe, that, when a soul leaves its body, it immediately repairs to Yamapur, or the city of Yama, where it is judged according to what may have been the conduct of the deceased in this life; on receiving sentence it either ascends to heaven, or is driven to Narac, the region of serpents; or is sent back to earth to animate other bodies of men or animals, until its vicious inclination be corrected.
Jupiter, the father of gods and men, and worshipped under a variety of names, seems to comprehend under these the different attributes of the triple divinity of the Hindūs,
Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, or Mahadeva, for that is the order in which they are expressed by the letters A, U, M, which coalesce and form the mystical word, O M, a word which never escapes the lips of a pious Hindu, and can only be a subject for his silent meditation. This triple deity is sometimes named Vishnu, the pervader, and Narayan, or moving on the waters: when he is viewed as a destroyer, he is called Siva, and other names: Brahma appears as the great lawgiver. The first operations of Vishnu, Siva, and Brahma, are variously described by a number of allegories, “and from them we may deduce the Ionian philosophy of primæval water, the doctrine of the Mundane Egg, and the veneration paid to the Nymphæa Lotos;"* on which, in ancient sculptures, Brahma is seen floating on the waters. It is also a favourite sym
bol in Egyptian sculptures.
Vishnu is sometimes represented as riding on a Garuda, or Garura, a species of eagle,
or large kite, which is highly venerated by the Brahmins, particularly those on the coast of Coromandel.* One of his names, in his preserving quality, is Hary.†
* It is there vulgarly named by the English, the Brahminy Kite.
+"Nearly opposite to Sultan-gunge, a considerable town in the province of Bahar, there stands a rock of granite, forming a small island in the midst of the Ganges, known to Europeans by the name of the rock of Jehangueery; which is highly worthy the traveller's notice, on account of a vast number of images carved in relief upon every part of its surface. Amongst these there is Hary, of a gigantic size, recumbent upon a coiled serpent, whose heads, which are numerous, the artist has contrived to spread into a kind of canopy over the sleeping god, and from each of its mouths issues a forked tongue, seeming to threaten death to any whom rashness might prompt to disturb him. The whole figure lies almost detached from the block on which it is hewn; is finely imagined, and executed with great skill. The Hindus are taught to believe, that at the end of every Calpa, or creation, all things are absorbed in the deity, and that in the interval between another creation, he reposeth himself on the serpent Sesha, duration, and who is also called Ananta, or endless."— Note of Mr. Wilkins to his translation of the Heetopades.
Jupiter, in the capacity of Avenger or Destroyer, encountered and overthrew the Titans and Giants, to whom an eagle
"The use of images by the Hindus, for the purpose of heightening devotion, is at least as old as the Puranas; and it is remarkable, that, notwithstanding this circumstance, so little progress has been made in the arts of sculpture and painting. They may, perhaps, be admitted to equal the remains of Egyptian sculpture which have reached us; but are still infinitely inferior, in these particulars, to most nations, amongst whom religion has called in the assistance of the fine arts. We think it probable, that the progress of sculpture and painting was checked in Egypt, by the same causes which have retarded it in Hindustan. The length, breadth, form, and colour, of every limb, or feature, of each of their mythological personages,-their dress, air, and attitude, are imperiously prescribed to the Hindu artist, by the works which he considers as sacred. We recollect, in particular, that the Matsya Purana exhibits a very full code of laws for the guidance of the artist. The most copious treatise, however, on this subject that we have met with, is comprised in a work in the Imperial Library at Paris, entitled Hayasiras; but the manuscript did not specify from what Purana it was extracted. We subjoin an extract from it.
"ISWARA," (OSIRIS, or BACCHUS).
"Let the arms, shoulders, and thighs of Iswara be