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of the divine science, and Brahmâ hoped that the raja might commit some trivial error, or omit some necessary material, and thus show his unfitness to rule over the holy city. Divodâs, however, was more than equal to the occasion, and supplied correct materials, not for one sacrifice only, but for ten. Brahmâ then performed the ten-horse sacrifice at this ghất, the virtue of which was so great that Dasâsamedh Ghât retains a special sanctity to this day. Finding his mission unsuccessful, Brahmâ thought it better to remain at Benares and leave to Shiva the task he himself had failed to accomplish. The wily raja was subsequently evicted by a trick played upon him by Ganesha, the son of Shiva and god of Wisdom.
Such is the quaint legend by which the Brahmins account for this ghất being reckoned among the five places to be visited in the Panch-tirth, which is one of the religious ceremonies to be performed by Hindus who come to Benares. The European, however, will be more interested in the first view of the great amphitheatre of the ghâts-stretching from the little stream called Asi, on the north, to the river Barna, on the south;' in the wonderful picturesqueness of this approach to the river, the crowds of bathers, and the procession of men, women, and children coming to and from their ablutions. All will bring with them the brass or copper vessels used in the ceremonies of the bath. Some carry the sacred leaves, Aowers, and other offerings necessary in the temple worship or puja.
For several months after the monsoon floods have
"The name of Benares is generally derived from a combination of the two worde " Barna" and “ Asi”.
BENARES, THE SACRED CITY
subsided, and the river has retreated to its normal bed, diggers are busy in removing the silt from the ghất steps, and in excavating the shrines which have been completely buried in the thick deposit. There are three such shrines at Dasâsamedh, which are yearly dug out of the river mud. The superstructure of two of them has completely disappeared. In the first there is a lingam with four heads on it, symbolizing the idea of Mahadeva, or Shiva as Ishwara, manifesting himself as the four gods-Brahmâ, Vishnu, Shiva, and Surya. In front are two sculptured bulls; the bull, or Nandi, being sacred to Shiva, and perhaps symbolic of the animal creation, as Nandi is considered to be the guardian of all quadrupeds. In esoteric Hinduism Shiva's bull is sometimes regarded as representing the Dharma, “the Faith", or the whole duty of the Hindu.
The next shrine seems to be of great antiquity, as its foundations go deep below the present slope of the ghâts. It may be the remains of an ancient temple of Surya, the Vedic sun-god, who is still worshipped in many parts of India, though generally he has become merged into Vishnu, whose attributes are very similar to his. There are now three sculptured stones inserted in the face of one of the walls, which are all that remain of the temple. The centre one represents Kârttikeya, the war-god, the son of Shiva, whose birth has been celebrated by the great Sanskrit poet, Kâlidâs. He is represented with six heads and twelve arms, riding on a peacock. On the right is a figure of Ganesha, a grotesque divinity with a fat belly and an elephant's head. He is another son of Shiva, lord of the Ganas, the nine classes of inferior
III deities which attend upon his father. As god of wisdom he may possibly symbolize the Brahminical philosophy which brought into one system the primitive faiths of the subject non-Aryan races.
At the end of December, when the annual excavations will have been nearly completed, there will be seen a deep hole in front of this shrine, at the bottom of which is an ancient suttee stone, marking the place where a Hindu widow sacrificed herself on the funeral pyre of her husband. There are many of these scattered up and down the ghâts, especially at the different burning-places. It is difficult to realize that the practice of self-immolation, which was often forced upon the unfortunate widows by their relatives, was only made illegal in British territory in 1829, and continued with the sanction of the law in the independent native states for some time afterwards. In 1839, at the funeral of Ranjit Singh, Maharaja of Lahore, his four wives and seven slave-girls sacrificed themselves on his pyre.
In the month of Kartik (October-November), on the last day of the Kâli-puja, there is an imposing ceremony at Dasâsamedh Ghât, when the images of the goddess are thrown into the river, after completion of the traditional worship. The principal procession starts from the house of Babu Kalidas Mitra, whose family for several hundred years has taken the leading part in the ceremony. The image of the goddess, a repulsive black figure with natural hair, like a child's doll, and a protruding tongue, representing Kali trampling on the prostrate figure of Mahâ-Kâl (Time), is taken from her shrine in the house and placed in a state palanquin. Then, accompanied by bands of