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END OF THE GHÂTS
of steps leading up to a group of little shrines sheltered by some splendid pippal trees. The end of the ghâts on the northern side of Benares is reached at Barna Sangam, where the river Barna joins the Ganges. This is one of the five sacred places of pilgrimage, and a bath in the meeting waters is held to be of special virtue in cleansing from all sin. The high ridge on which four temples are placed commands a fine view of the Ganges valley.
THE TEMPLES AND SACRED WELLS
Hindus recognize three classes of deities, or three different aspects of divine worship. First, the patron deity of the village community, called gramya deva. The images or symbols of these are placed under a sacred tree outside the villages. Next is the household god, or the god which is regarded by each family as its special protector. Thirdly, the ishta deva—the personal god, or the god whom the guru, the spiritual adviser of each individual, appoints as his or her patron deity, after consultation of the person's horoscope.
. Outside the Brahmin caste, the expenses attendant on the proper conduct of Hindu ritual make it impossible for any but those who have means to keep up the worship of their patron deity within the house, for only. Brahmins, or those who claim the right of exercising priestly functions, can perform the appropriate ceremonies. The full performance of household worship is most complicated and expensive. The images or symbols used in daily worship are often made of clay, and these are made by the worshippers themselves and always thrown away directly the píja is finished. But when an idol of stone or of metal is purchased for the house or temple the first ceremonial
is a kind of consecration, called prân prahtishta, “life
This is part of the regular