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was but natural for their founder, in the course of his mission, to take thought of the centres of population ; and the spots which he and his disciples signalized by their teachings were reverently regarded, in after ages, as consecrated ground. These spots were, however, in the neighbourhood of cities, -as Gayâ, Mathurâ, Ayodhyâ, and Benares, rather than in the cities themselves; and it was not till after Buddhism had passed its prime on Indian soil, that these towns acquired the special repute which now attaches to them. As for Benares, the attribution to it of peculiar sanctity seems to date from the period of the Purâņas; ? and some of these compositions may, unquestionably, claim a very respectable antiquity.
A diligent perusal of the copious inanity of the Kási· khanda might lead to the discovery of its era, and
1 It is very true, that, all the way between Benares and the towers at Sârnâth, the fields are thickly strewed with bricks and other remains of former buildings. But I am not aware that Colonel Wilford has any authority for speaking of “the old city of Benares, north of the river Burna,” which old city, he says, is sometimes called Sonitapura. Asiatic Researches, Vol. IX., p. 199.
2 Professor Wilson asserts, characteristically, that Benares “has been, from all time, as it is at present, the high place of the Saiva worship.” Translation of the Vishnu-purána, Book V., Chapter XXXIV., last note.
In the twelfth century, as we learn from the Haima-kośa, Benares was already distinguished as Sivapurî, “the city of Siva ;” and we may thence gather that the worship of Siva especially predominated there at that time.
3 “ There is every reason to believe the greater part of the contents of the Kåśî-khanda anterior to the first attack upon Benares by Mahmûd of Ghaznî.” Thus pronounces Professor Wilson, in his translation of the Vishnu-purána, Vol. I., Preface, pp. LXXII., LXXIII. It would be interesting to be put in possession of even a single reason out of those to which the Professor alludes.
to other chronological determinations. In so recent a composition, and one having to do with real localities, there must, almost of necessity, be many facts interwoven with the fictions : the attempt to discriminate them would, perhaps, be remunerated. The Benares of the present day offers numerous and varied objects of interest to the contemplation of the devout Hindu; and yet, a very few of them excepted, to speculate touching their age, in reliance on the data hitherto made available, would be much too perilous for prudence.
1 Unless we are deceived by identity of names, scores of these are enumerated in the Kasi-khanda.
In the last chapter of that work, cycles of pilgrimages are prescribed, as means to particular ends, precisely as at this hour. Thus, there is one round to warrant the practitioner from liability to further metempsychosis; another, to secure the attainment of Rudrahood; a third, to ensure emancipation before death. These for samples.
Saints whose aspirations are less ambitious are promised store of good things in future for repeating the Panchatîrthikâ daily. This consists in: (1) ablution, without disrobing, in the pool of Chakrapushkariņî, with a propitiation-service addressed to the gods, manes, Brahmans, and beggars ; (2) reverential salutation to Âditya, Draupadi, Vishņu, Daņdapāņi, and Maheswara; (3) visual contemplation of Dhuņdhivinayaka ; (4) a dip of the fingers in the Jnânavâpi well, with adoration of Nandikeśa, Târakeśa, and Mahâkâleswara ; and, finally, (5) a second visit to Daņdapâņi.
Of seven preeminently holy places Kâsî is named first; the others being Kântî, Mâyâ, Ayodhyâ, Dwaravati, Mathurâ, and Avantika:
काशी कान्ती च मायाख्या त्वयोध्या द्वारवत्यपि।
VI., 68. Mâyâ is Hurdwar. I am not sure whether or not Kânti is the same as Kânchî. The rest are well known. These places are, all,
To the early Arab and Persian travellers Gangetic India was an unexplored tract.' Albirûnî, who wrote about A.D. 1000, had, however, heard of the holy fame of Benares, which he compares, not inaptly, to Mecca.? Mahmûd of Ghaznî is said, on doubtful warrant, to have advanced as far as Benarés, and to have made a few converts there, during his ninth incursion. In 1194, Shihâbuddîn, after defeating the Kanaujan monarch, Jayachandra, marched on that city, where he is reported to have demolished near a thousand Hindu temples. The subsequent history of the place, for
named in the Ayeen Akbery, in Mr. Gladwin's translation of which, Vol. III., pp. 255, 256, Mathurâ and Avantikâ are disguised as Mehtra and Ownitka.
At least thirty or forty epithetical designations of Benares are scattered through the Kaśî-khanda. Half of that number, or thereabouts, from this or some other work or works, have been noted by native lexicographers. One of them, Panchanadatîrtha, “ the quinquamnian resort,” refers to five rivers, the Kiraņâ, Dhûtapâpâ; Saraswatî, Gangâ, and Yamunâ :
किरणा धूतपापा च पुण्यतोया सरखती।
LIX., 114, 115. Four of these streams, in small quantities, are believed to emerge into the Ganges, through subterraneous channels, just in front of the Panchagangâ landing.
1 Relation des Voyages, etc., by M. Langlès and Father Reinaud, Vol. I., Preliminary Discourse, pp. XLVIII., XLIX.
? Father Reinaud's Mémoire Géographique, Historique et Scientifique sur l'Inde, etc., p. 288.
3 English Ayeen Akbery, Vol. II., p. 35.
4 Major Stewart's History of Bengal, p. 36. Elsewhere we read, that, “having broken the idols in above a thousand temples, he purified and consecrated the latter to the worship of the true God.” Colonel Briggs's translation from Farishta, Vol. I., p. 179.
many centuries, is well-nigh a blank. Its religious character was not, in the eyes of its Islamite masters, a thing to recommend it; and commercial or political importance it had none. Even Akbar, with all his toleration of Hinduism, and occasional partiality to it, did nothing to prop the sinking fortunes of Benares. Its decline was uninterrupted ; and, under Aurangzeb, who changed its name to Muhammadâbâd, it reached, at last, the depth of its ignominy. At the command of that harsh bigot, its principal temples were laid in ruins, and mosques, constructed from their materials, were reared on their half-destroyed foundations. The Observatory, built by Mânasiñha 4 about A.D. 1600, is, it may be, the only noteworthy Hindu edifice of the
1 Fiscally, too, it had come, in the days of Akbar, to be of very secondary note. See the Ayeen Akbery, Vol. II., Appendix, p. 28.
? I have met with this substitute for Benares in an Urdû book written within the last hundred years. It was originally meant, of course, as a poignant insult. Deservedly, it never obtained, it is believed, any currency.
The Muhammadan names of Delhi, Agra, and Patna are of everyday use. Less familiar are Jahângîrâbâd, Mustafa’âbâd, Islâmâbâd, and Mûminâbâd, for Dacca, Rampoor, Chittagong, and Brindabun.
3 Captain Orlich, in the tenth letter of his Reise in Ostindien, says that Akbar entertained the project of establishing a mosque over the Jnânavâpî well. No one at all acquainted with Akbar's character could give this silly legend the least credence. The story looks like an addition to the tale, that, when Aurangzeb threw down the old temple of Visweswara, its phallus cast itself, unassisted, into the Jnânavâpi.
4 Raja of Ambherî. One of his descendants, Jayasimha II., who flourished rather more than a century after him, provided the Observatory with astronomical instruments. From Raja Mânasimha the building was called, from the first, Mânamandira, now corrupted into Mânmandil.
the first, M From Raja vided the bo
city, still entire, of so great antiquity. For nearly all that is striking in its architectural embellishment, Benares is beholden to the Marathas; and to the zeal and enterprise of the same energetic race the resuscitation, in the decline of Hinduism, of much of its former influence is, in large measure, indebted. There is no ground for believing that Benares, in comparison of what we now see it, with its thousand temples, and their concomitants of holy harpies and willing victims, can ever have boasted a larger population, a prestige of greater potency, or more affiuent prosperity.
F.H. JULY, 1868.
Bishop Heber uninquiringly states that the Observatory was “ founded before the Musalman conquest." Captain Orlich says it was founded by Jayasimha: he does not distinguish which Jayasimha. But it would be endless to point out the mistakes of careless travellers.
Even Mr. James Prinsep, Benares Illustrated, Second Series from consulting Tavernier with insufficient attention, refers the conversion of the Mânmandil into an Observatory to Jayasimha I.
An excellent account of the Benares Observatory, by Pandit Bâpû Deva Sâstrin, is given in the Transactions of the Benares Institute for the Session 1864-65, pp. 191–196.
Such was Mr. James Prinsep's estimate in 1828–1829. As to the extent of the city, “the measured length along the banks of the river, by survey, is barely three miles; and the average depth does not exceed one mile.” Benares Illustrated, p. 12. Hiouen Thsang found Benares, in the seventh century, of not far from the same dimensions. Vide supra, p. xxvii.