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tered, and the priest led us into a succession of six small rooms, with an altar at the end of each, not unlike those in Roman Catholic chapels, with a little niche on one side, resembling what in such Churches they call the “Piscina." In the centre of each room was a large tray with rice and ghee strongly perfumed, apparently as an offering, and in two or three of them were men seated on their heels on the floor, with their hands folded as in prayer or religious contemplation. Over each of the altars was an altar-piece, a large bas-relief in marble, containing the first, five, the last in succession twenty-five figures, all of men sitting crosslegged, one considerably larger than the rest, and represented as a Negro: He, the priest said, was their god, the rest were the different bodies which he had assumed at different epochs, when he had become incarnate to instruct mankind. The doctrines which he had delivered on these occasions make up their theology, and the progress which any man has made in these mysteries, entitles him to worship in one or more of the successive apartments which were shown us.
They call their god, I think, Purnavesa, but he is evidently the same person as Buddha, being identified by his Negro features and curled hair, and by the fact which the priest mentioned, that he had many worshippers in Pegu and Tibet. Yet when I asked if he was the same with Buddha, he did not expressly allow it, merely answering that his proper name was Purnavesa. Mr. Prinsep asked one of the merchants, what was the difference between their religion and that of some other persons whom he named, and who are their religious opponents. The man coloured up to the eyes, and said with bitterness, 66 As much as between the Hindoo and the Christian, as much as between the Christian and the Mussulman. * We worship the same God,” the priest said more calmly, but they are ignorant how to worship him.” Mr. Prinsep afterwards told me that the merchant to whom he spoke had been one of the most active in the recent disturbance, and had been “ in trouble” on that account. On our return to the vestibule, where we first entered, the priest expressed his satisfaction at the interest which I had taken in their temple, and the hope of his congregation and himself that I would accept a trifling present from them. One of the laymen at this raised a cloth, and displayed two large trays, one full of sweetmeats, fruit, sugar, &c. the other of very handsome shawls. The latter were far too valuable for me to accept with propriety, and I told them that the first would be quite sufficient, and that it did not become a priest to be greedy of costly apparel. I then picked out some of the raisins, and begged them to send the fruit to Mr. Brooke's,
but to excuse my taking the shawls. The merchants looked heartily glad, I thought, that they were let off so easily, and accompanied me down stairs with many compliments and offers of service in any way that I would command them. With the priest I had a friendly parting at the stair head.
There yet remained to be visited the mosque of Aurungzebe, and the Vidalaya or Hindoo College, which fortunately both of them lay pretty nearly in our direct way home. The former is a handsome building in a very advantageous situation, but chiefly remarkable for the view from its minarets, which are very lofty, and derive still greater elevation from the hill on which they stand. The day was not favourable, but we still saw a great distance. The Himalaya range may, as I was told, be sometimes seen, but nothing of the sort is now visible, nor any mountains at all in a horizon of great extent. · The ground, however, of this part of Hindostan is not without inequalities, and though it is certainly for the most part one immense plain, it is such a plain as one sees in miniature in England or on the Continent of Europe, not such a mere dead level.as Bengal. The bank on which Benares itself stands, is of some height, and there were several ridges of hills, as at Chunar and other places within sight, which would fully rank on a level with Hawkstone.
The whole country seems in cultivation, but less with rice than wheat. The villages are numerous and large, but the scattered dwellings few, and there is but little wood. Fuel is, consequently, extremely dear, and to this circumstance is imputed the number of bodies thrown into the river without burning Suttees are less numerous in Benares than many parts of India, but self-immolation by drowning is very cominon. Many scores, every year, of pilgrims from all parts of India, come hither expressly to end their days and secure their salvation. They purchase two large kedgeree pots, between which they tie themselves, and when empty, these support their weight in the water. Thus equipped, they paddle into the stream, then fill the pots with water which surrounds them, and thus sink into eternity. Government have sometimes attempted to prevent this practice, but with no other effect than driving the voluntary victims a little further down the river; nor indeed when a man has come several hundred miles to die, is it likely that a police officer can prevent him. Instruction seems the only way in which these poor people can be improved, and that, I trust, they will by degrees obtain from us.
The Vidalaya is a large building divided into two courts, galleried above and below, and full of teachers and scholars, divided into a number of classes, who learn reading, writing,
arithmetic, (in the Hindoo manner) Persian, Hindoo law, and sacred literature, Sanscrit, astronomy, (according to the Ptolemaic system) and astrology! There are two hundred scholars, some of whom of all sorts came to say their lessons to me, though, unhappily, I was myself able to profit by none, except the astronomy, and a little of the Persian. The astronomical lecturer produced a terrestrial globe, divided according to their system, and elevated to the meridian of Benares. Mount Meru he identified with the north pole, and under the southern pole he supposed the tortoise “chukwa" to stand, on which the earth rests. The southern hemisphere he apprehended to be uninhabitable, but on its concave surface, in the interior of the globe, he placed Padalon. He then showed me how the sun went round the earth once in every day, and how, by a different but equally continuous motion, he also visited the signs of the zodiac. The whole system is precisely that of Ptolemy, and the contrast was very striking between the rubbish which these young men were learning in a Government establishment, and the rúdiments of real knowledge which those whom I had visited the day before had acquired, in the very same city, and under circumstances far less favourable. I was informed that it had been frequently proposed to introduce an English and mathematical class, and to teach the Newtonian and Copernican system of astronomy; but that the late superintendant of the establishment was strongly opposed to any innovation, partly on the plea that it would draw the boys off from their Sanscrit studies, and partly lest it should interfere with the religious prejudices of the professors. The first of these arguments is pretty much like what was urged at Oxford, (substituting Greek for Sanscrit) against the new examinations, by which, however, Greek has lost nothing. The second is plainly absurd, since the Ptolemaic system, which is now taught, is itself an innovation, and an improvement on the old faith of eight worlds and seven oceans, arranged like a nest of boxes.
The truth is, that even the pundit who read me this lecture, smiled once or twice very slily, and said, “our people are taught so and so," as if he himself knew better. And. Mr. Prinsep afterwards told me that learned brahmins had sometimes said to him, that our system was the most rational, but that the other answered all their purposes. They could construct almanacs, and caleulate eclipses tolerably by the one as well as the other, and the old one was quite good. enough, in all conscience, to cast nativities with. "Nor can we wonder at their adherence to old usage in these respects, when we consider that to change their system would give
them some personal trouble, and when we recollect that the church of Rome has not even yet withdrawn the Anathema which she levelled at the heresy that the earth turned round, as taught by Copernicus and Galileo. There are in this col lege about two hundred pupils, and ten professors, all paid and maintained by Government.
During my progress through the holy places I had received garlands of flowers in considerable numbers, which I was told it was uncivil to throw away, particularly those which were hung round my neck. I now, in consequence, looked more like a sacrifice than a priest, and on getting again into the gig, was glad to rid myself of my ornaments. On talking with Mr. Macleod on the civility and apparent cordiality with which I had been received by these heathen priests, he said that my coming had excited considerable curiosity, from the idea that I was the patriarch of Constantinople! He had heard this from a learned Mussulman Moulavie, AbdulKhadur, who spoke of it as the current news that such a person was to arrive, and asked when he might be expected. The origin of the idea, when explained, was not an unnatural one.
Of the Bishop of Calcutta, eo nomine, I had previously reason to believe nothing had been heard or known in Hindostan, or any where out of the immediate neighbourhood of the Presidency; but the news now was that the “Sirdar Padre," or.“ Mufti,” of all the “Sahib log" was coming to visit the different churches. The only two persons they had heard of answering to this character were the pope and the patriarch. They were not ignorant of the religious differences between the English and Roman Catholics, so that they could not suppose me to be the former.
But they are not equally well informed as to our discrepancy from the se*cond; and many of them believe, that, though we abhor images, we still pay some reverence to pictures. The mouJavie himself thus explained his meaning, saying, (in consequence of Mr. Macleod's expressing his surprise at his first question, “Whether the Papi Rouma were not coming!") that he did not mean old but new Rome, or Islambol, and that he meant the head of those Christians, who, like his honour, abhorred images, but not pictures. I know not whether he quite believed Mr. Macleod's disclaimer of such worship, but he professed himself ignorant till that moment of the existence of a third sect among the Nazarani, and glad to find that the Sahibs differed, even less than he had supposed, from the true believers. None of the gentlemen most conversant with the natives apprehended that my arrival had created any suspicious or jealous feeling, or that my avowed errand, (to see that the inferior Padres did their duty,) was
thought other than natural and commendable. It is, howeyer, thought that the natives do not really like us, and that if a fair opportunity offered, the Mussulmans, more particularly, would gladly avail themselves of it to rise against us. But this is from political, not religious feeling; and it has been increased of late years by the conduct of Lord Hastings to the old Emperor of Delhi, a conduct which has been pursued by succeeding administrations, but which entirely differed from the outward respect and allegiance which the Company's officers had professed to pay him, from Lord Clive downwards. The elevation of the Nawab of Oude to the kingly title, and Lord Hastings's refusal to pay him the same homage which all his predecessors had courted every opportunity of doing, and which even the Maharattas did not neglect when the late Shah Aullum was their prisoner, have awakened questions and scruples among the fierce Mohammedans about obeying an unbelieving nation, which were quite forgotten while the English Company acted as the seryant and“ Dewan” of the house of Timur. The behaviour of Lord Hastings was very disadvantageously contrasted in Benares with that of Warren Hastings, who, in the height of his power and conquests, gained infinite popularity by riding publicly through the city, as usual with the high functionaries of the court of Delhi, behind the howdah of the hereditary prince, with a fan of peacock's feathers in his hand. This, however, is a digression. I am satisfied, from all I hear, that the natives of this neighbourhood have at present no idea that any interference with their religion is intended on the part of Government; that if any thing, they rather esteem us the more for showing some signs of not being without a religion; and that any fancies of a different tendency which have arisen, on this subject, in Bengal or other parts of India, have been uniformly put into their heads by ill-designing persons among the Portuguese, half-caste, or European residents. Nevertheless, all my informants here, as well as in most other places where I have heard the question discussed, are of opinion that a direct interference on the part of Government with any of the religious customs of the country, (the suttees for example,) would be eagerly laid hold of and urged as the first step in a new system, by all who wish us ill; and that though it would probably not of itself occasion a rebellion, it would give additional popularity, and a more plausible pretext, to the first rebellion which such disaffected persons might find opportunity for attempting. Meanwhile I cannot learn that the missionaries and the schools which they establish, have excited much attention, or of an unfavourable nature. Their labours, after all, have been