« PreviousContinue »
the worshipper, wishing to cross the threshold into the sacred chamber where the idol dwells, and addressed him as follows :—“Wait a little, and, when you get permission from the god, then you may enter.” This may explain the circumstance, that the door of the temple is, for a certain time in the day, kept closed, and the worshippers have to remain outside until it is thrown open again, when they are allowed to enter.
Between the statues is a door leading into the interior of the shrine, and to its outer framework sixtyseven small lamps are attached, which are lighted up with oil every evening. Within the temple is the god Kedáreśwar, who is represented simply by a stone, the emblem of Siva; for Kedáreśwar is, strictly speaking, only another name for this divinity. Kedár is, properly, no name of a person, but of a place in the Himalayas. Siva, it is believed, resided there; and hence is called Kedáreśwar or Kedárnáth, 'Lord of Kedár. Yet, in Benares, there is a tradition, that Kedár was a devout Brahman, who, in company with the Muni Vasishtha, visited a mountain forming part of the Himalaya range, where he died. At his death, it is said, Siva endowed him with the attributes of deity, and allowed him to be worshipped in conjunction with himself, and through the same symbol. Appearing to Vasishtha in a dream, he said he would comply with any request he might make; whereupon Vasishțha requested that he would take up his residence in Benares. Such is the origin of the temple here, as given in the Kásikhanda. There is a temple dedicated to Kedáreśwar near the famous temple of Harináth, on Mount Himáchal, to which so many pilgrims yearly resort, besides that in Benares.
Other idols are also associated with the presiding divinity here, such as Lakshmináráyan, Bhaironáth, Gaņeś, and Annpúrņá. Upon the wall of the passage leading to the ghát is a long inscription, in Bengali and Hindi characters, setting forth the glory and excellency of Kedáreśwar. Just within the passage, and near to the threshold, I observed a man, of respectable appearance, lying prostrate on the ground across the path. He had thrown himself there, as an act of homage to the idol. The outer enclosure of the temple is frequented by large numbers of poor persons, who sit by the side of the passages, in a row, spreading out their laps, or pieces of cloth, or extending their hands for food and money. In this respect, the Kedáreśwar shrine reminds one very much of the temple of Annpúrņá, where crowds of beg. gars are to be seen. The ghát descends from the eastern wall of the temple. Upon its staircase are several small shrines; and, at its base, is a well, in the shape of a parallelogram, containing water. This well is called Gauri-kund; and its water is famous for the imaginary virtue of removing three kinds of fever.
To the west of Kedárnáth temple, at the distance of about one-third of a mile, is Mansarwar, which consists of a deep tank and a large collection of shrines all around it. These shrines are not fewer than fifty in number, each containing one idol, at least; and several, a great many. One of the most considerable is dedicated to the brothers Rám and Lakshman. In a niche in the enclosure of this temple is an idol of Dattatreya. This Yogi, with the Moon and Durvásas for brothers, was son of Atri. He is a rare object of homage in the present day. Mánsarwar was built by Raja Mán Sinh. At this one spot there are, I conjecture, upwards of one thousand idols.
Near the eastern entrance of Mánsarwar, at the corner of a street, are two antique figures, one of which stands on a pedestal, while the other is inserted in the wall of a house. The former is Bálkrishņa, who is kneel. ing down, while his head and chest are thrown back so as to assume a very remarkable appearance; the head being in a horizontal instead of a perpendicular position. The other is Chaturbhuj. A few steps further off is Máneswar, a temple erected by the same Raja Man Sinh spoken of above. The Raja was influenced, most probably, by his own name, in selecting the divinity he has here honoured with a shrine.
In this neighbourhood, but in a south-westerly direction from Mansarwar, is the monstrous idol Tilubhandeswar, which is, by measurement, fifteen feet round and four and a half feet high. It is simply a large stone, and resembles the idol Jágeswar, in the Ausánganj Mahalla of the city, to which, as already observed, the gentry and nobility of Benares pay their devotions. Tilubhandeswar is so called because, it is said, the god daily increases in size to the extent of one til, a seed of sesamum, from which oil is extracted and sold in the shops. The god inhabits a temple, the basement of which, together with a small piece of ground in connexion with it, is raised to a considerable height above the streets in the neighbourhood, the ascent being effected by steps. The temple, consequently, is a prominent object in this quarter of the city. A sculptured bull lies crouching in the verandah opposite the idol. On either side of the entrance to the temple are small shrines, containing a number of idols, one of which bears the strange name of Sámkátik. This idol is rare in the Benares temples. Passing round to the cast side of the temple, several niches in the wall are seen. These contain numerous idols. In one is a representation of the sole of Vishnu's foot, in marble, besides thrce snake-gods, three emblems of Mahadeva, and an old figure of Ganes. Another has a large black idol of Siva, with head, hands, and feet. This idol is very seldom found in Benares; as Siva is almost always worshipped through a phallic symbol, which is the com monest and most popular object of adoration in every quarter of the city. The idol is good-looking, and is scated in a meditative posture, its hair falling in ringlets upon its shoulders. A plantain-tree, carved in stone, stands on either side of him; and, in a corner, is a figure of Sámkátik who is reading to Siva. The verandah of the temple was once beautifully embellished; but the small and delicate paintings which crowd the roof and capitals of the pillars are exceedingly faded.
On a second platform, lower than that on which the Tilubhandeswar temple stands, is a peepul tree, resting upon which is a large mutilated statue. Its head is two feet in height, and a foot in breadth ; and its body is of proportionate size. The height of the head is partly owing to the mode in which the hair is arranged upon it; for it is plaited and bound round the crown, so as to
have the appearance of a high head-dress. The face is rouud, and not at all of the Hindu expression. The Brahmanical cord passes over one shoulder, and descends to the waist; but, notwithstanding this circumstance, I am strongly inclined to think that the figure is rather of the Buddhist than of the Hindu era. The presence of the cord is no difficulty in the way of this supposition; inasmuch as several of the pre-historical Buddhas were Brahmans. The hair is arranged in a manner altogether different from that which the modern Hindus practise. It is said that Aurungzeb mutilated this statue. The thighs are imbedded in the ground; but the legs, I was told, from the knees downwards, are not in existence. The statue is symmetrically proportioned, and its parts are finely chiselled. Hindu sculptors of the present day are utterly incapable of producing such a piece of workmanship; and, therefore, one is curious to know how it came here, and from what place it was brought. The priest in attendance gave it the name of Bírbhadra, a famous messenger of Siva. A multitude of idols, not fewer than thirty, are placed around him and the trunk of the tree against which he leans. There is a neem tree a few paces off, at the foot of which reclines the eight-handed goddess Ashțbhují; and close to her is a collection of nine deities. In the enclosure of this temple are several images of considerable antiquity. A bull, especially, in the lower enclosure, bears marks of immense age, and formerly, it is said, stood in front of the idol Tilubhandeswar.
On the way from Kedárnáth temple to Daśáśamedh temple various objects of interest are to be seen. At