« PreviousContinue »
some of whom have cups in their hands, into which the worshippers, as they go in and out of the temple, throw small quantities of grain or rice. Passing through the doorway into the quadrangle, a similar system of almsgiving and almstaking displays itself. The priests of the temple, too, receive offerings for the poor, in addition to the presents appropriated to themselves. In one corner of the enclosure is a stone box, which is the common treasury for the reception of the gifts intended for this object. In it may be seen a singular medley of rice, grain, water, flowers, milk, etc., which, though perhaps not upwelcome to a Hindu stomach, would revolt a European. Not that the whole of this medley is eaten; but the rice and grain and other edible substances are separated from the rest, and distributed among the applicants.
The temple of Annpúrņá was erected, 150 years ago, by the Raja of Poona. It possesses a tower, and also a dome, which is carved and ornamented after the Hindu fashion. The dome is sustained by pillars; and between them a bell is suspended, which is kept almost constantly sounding; for, as soon as one worshipper leaves it, another, having performed his devotions, takes his turn in beating it. The bells, in this and other Hindu temples, are not rung, but are beaten with the clapper or tongue depending from within. The carved portions of this temple were once partially or entirely painted; and the painting in the interstices is still visible. The goddess within the temple is regarded, by the natives, as a charming creature. She exhibits the taste of her sex in her fondness for ornaments; for, besides her necklace of jewels and her silver eyes, she occasionally wears a mask of gold or burnished
copper, and thus endeavours to enhance her beauty and fascinate her beholders. The temple occupies a large portion of the quadrangle, and stands in its centre. In one corner of this quadrangle is a small shrine dedicated to the Sun. The idol representing the Sun is seated in a chariot drawn by seven horses, and is surrounded by a glory indicative of the rays of light which he emits from his person in all directions. In a second corner is another shrine, in which is an image of Gaurí 'Sankar, and the stone box or receptacle before alluded to. In a third is
large figure of Hanumán, the monkey-god, in bass-relief: and, in a fourth, a figure of Gaņeś, with the head of an elephant and the body of a man.
Not far from the temple of Annpúrņá is the temple of Sákhí Binayaka, or the “witness-bearing Binayaka.” Pilgrims, on completing the journey of the Pánch-kosí road, must pay a visit to this shrine, in order that the fact of their pilgrimage may be verified. Should they neglect to do this, all their pilgrimage would be without merit or profit. The temple is in a square, and was erected by a Mahratta, about one hundred years ago. On the road between these two temples is a red glaring figure of the god Gaņeś, with silver hands, trunk, feet, ears, and poll, squatting down on the floor, which is raised a little above the pathway. The oddity of this painted monster would excite one's laughter, were the mind not distressed at the thought that it receives divine honours.
Near the temple of Bisheswar, and to the south of Sanichar, is a small shrine, dedicated to 'Sukreśwar,
which is visited by persons desirous of becoming parents of handsome sons. It is said that this god will bestow a fine son on his worshippers, even though fate should not have conferred one on them; and, so long as he lives in Benares, he will pass his time happily, and, at death, will depart to the realms of 'Siva.
Temple Bhaironáth, the god-magistrate of Benares.-Dandpán, or the
Deified Staff. - Temple of the Planets. – Kál-Kúp, or Well of Fate.
Sindhia Ghat and the Raja of Nagpore's Ghat. — Temple of
The temple of Bhaironáth is situated upwards of a mile to the north of the temple of Bisheśwar. The god of this shrine, as already described, is, in public estimation, the deified kotwal, or police-magistrate, of Benares and its suburbs, as far as the Pánch-kosí road, within the circuit of which, under the orders of his royal master Bisheswar, he exercises divine authority over both gods and men. He is bound to keep the city free from evil spirits and evil persons, and, should he find any such within its sacred precincts, to expel them forthwith. As it is through his care and energy that its inhabitants, and all others who may conceive the vain design of ending their days at this hallowed spot, eventually, it is supposed, obtain salvation, it is of the utmost importance that he should perform the functions of his high office wisely and well. It is a natural result, therefore, of his possessing such vast authority, that, for the execution of his orders, he should have deemed it right to arm
himself with a truncheon. And this is no figment of the imagination, but a veritable cudgel, of enormous thickness; not, indeed, of wood, but, what is more territle, of stone. It is called Dandpán, from danda, a stick, and, in common belief, is nothing less than divine. Whether from a desire to enjoy as much tranquillity as possible, or from the universal Hindu custom to shift anxiety and trouble from one shoulder to another, I cannot say, but Bhairo has considerately issued his commands to it, to beat any person who may be found working mischief, and, having done so, has resigned himself to a life of ease. So that, in fact, this intelligent stick is, de facto, the divine magistrate of the city. It may seem strange, however, that the temple in which Dandpán is deposited is not that of Bhaironáth, but is another, situated a short distance off. The stone representing this singular deity is about four feet in height, and is specially worshipped, every Tuesday and Sunday, by a great many people. It is set up on end, the upper extremity receiving, occasionally, the adjunct of a silver mask or face; but, when our wondering eyes beheld it, there was only the bare stone visible, with a garland depending from the upper extremity. In front of the stick, three bells were hanging; and, on one side, a priest sat, with a rod in his hand, made of peacock's feathers, with which, in the name of Dandpán, he gently tapped the worshippers, and thereby vicariously inflicted punishment upon them for the offences of which they were guilty. In this temple are other remarkable objects, which will be presently referred to. The worship of Dandpán, and the function attributed to this extraordinary divinity, con