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tables n'indiquent-elles pas cette conjonction, alors l'objection de M. de La Place tombe d'elle-même. C'est ce que ne dit pas Mr. Playfair, et c'est ce que je n'ai pas le tems de vérifier. Mais quand même l'objection seroit sans force, il resteroit bien d'autres difficultés. Ce ne sont pas quelques rencontres heureuses parmi une foule de calculs erronés ou incohérens, qui suffiroient pour prouver l'antiquité de l'astronomie Indienne. La forme mystérieuse de leurs tables et de leurs méthodes, suffiroit pour donner des soupçons sur leur véracité. C'est une question qui probablement ne sera jamais décidée, et qui ne pourroit l'être que par de nouvelles découvertes dans les écrits des Hindous, et par un traité beaucoup plus gros et moins amusant que celui de Bailly. Tout ce qu'on peut dire pour le présent, a été dit ou peu s'en faut. L'auteur du mémoire l'a présenté avec beaucoup de lucidité, d'intérêt et de fidélité. La lecture de son écrit est attachante; j'en dis autant des notes, où j'ai trouvé des détails curieux sur le calendrier et sur les monumens des Hindous."

Paris, 21 Juillet, 1814.



(Referred to, p. 132, of this volume.)

On some Practices peculiar to the Hindus.

In India, as in other countries, we find practices peculiar to particular places, or certain families; but which being confined to these, must not be confounded with the character, manners, and customs of the people at large, but

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ought to be considered as extraneous and apart from these. Particular attention should therefore be had to distinguish what is local or partial from what is general.

In the article of the Asiatic Researches referred to above, it is allowed that some cruel practices which are mentioned, very rarely happen; and when they occur they seem to excite as great horror among the natives as Europeans. One of these is termed Setting up the Koor.* It consists in erecting a circular pile of wood, on which a cow or an old woman is placed. The reason of chusing a cow, it being a sacred animal, may be understood; but chusing a poor old woman as its substitute, is not so easily comprehended. The intention of the measure is to procure compliance by fear, with what has been refused to entreaty; for if fire be set to the pile, and the woman or cow perish, inevitable mischief, it is supposed, will be the consequence to those, whose refusal to what was required had occasioned the measure to be resorted to. Only one instance of setting up the Koor had ever come to the knowledge of the author of the article. It happened in 1788. Every thing was prepared for execution: an old woman had already mounted the pile, when the European superintendant of the district, being apprized of what was doing, prevented its accomplishment. But the old lady, who had been thus rescued from death, so far from complaining of what had been done, peremptorily refused to appear to give evidence against the offender, threatening to destroy herself should any compulsion be used to make her do so.

Nothing certainly can be more monstrous than this and some other practices which are mentioned, or more absurd

* See Asiatic Researches, vol. iv. p. 357, et : seq.

than their pretended effects; but in opposition to these, let us place the scandalous excesses that were produced in our own country, even not many years ago, by the belief in witchcraft, and the notion that still prevails in the Highlands of Scotland, of certain persons, and even whole families, possessing hereditarily what is termed Second Sight, meaning, the power of looking into futurity, and of knowing events happening at the instant, at places the most remote from them. It is a practice but too frequent among travellers, to form a judgment respecting the characters of nations from partial circumstances, or things with which they occasionally meet. Those who are better informed, may smile at their conclusions, but the majority of readers are exposed to be led into error by them. Though in the works of some of the early travellers and missionaries in India much curious information is to be found, yet we see almost all of them persuaded that the Brahmins practised magic, and that many of the jugglers' tricks were supernatural, and performed by infernal aid.

That the Brahmin should sometimes artfully make use of his inviolability for purposes of self-interest, may easily be supposed; and we agree with the author of the article in the Researches above quoted, that this may probably have given rise to what is called the Dherna, though it is now practised by others as well as Brahmins. The Dherna in respect to its intention is similar to the Koor. To obtain what is wanted, the claimant sits down before the door of the debtor, and, armed with a poniard, or having poison in his hand, threatens to destroy himself should any one attempt to enter or go out of the house; the fear of causing the death of the claimant, and especially of a Brahmin, effectually deters any one from passing him,

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and almost always procures satisfaction to be granted, But the usual way, and especially with persons of other casts, is to sit down and declare their resolution neither to quit the spot, nor to eat or drink, until the demand be complied with.

**The Roman numerals refer to the volumes; the Arabic figures,
to the pages of each volume.


ACALIS, or Immortals, a class of the Sikhs, account of,
i. 320. Their power and influence, 321.

Adi Granth, a sacred book of the Sikhs, notice of, i. 282
note. Extract from it, 349.

Adjyghur fortress, notice of, ii. 126 note.

Agny, the god of fire, and the Grecian Vulcan, identity of, i.
116, 117.

Ahmed, founder of the Afghan monarchy, account of, i. 296--
299. Defeats the Mahrattas at the battle of Panniputh,
302-304. His successes against the Sikhs, 305, 306.
His death and character, 307.

Akber (Emperor), biographical notice of, i. 203, 204 note.
Alexander the Great, coins of, i. 66, 67. Progress of in India,
ii. 268-272. His reasons for founding Alexandria, 273,
274. His interview with Nearchus, 276, 277.
Alexandria, port of, when founded, ii. 274. Its subsequent
improvements and trade, 277-280.

Alphabets of the Hindūs, ii. 178.

Amera Cosha, a Sanscrit grammatical work, account of, ii.
172-176. The writings of its author, Amera Sinha,
why proscribed, 177, 178.

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