Page images
PDF
EPUB

shed at the very doors of the English, almost under the eye of the Supreme Government. Moloch has many a tower in the province of Bengal : thạt fair and fertile province which has been called " The Garden of Nations." Close to Ishera, abeautiful villa on the river's side, about eight miles from Calcutta, once

a tax professedly for these ends, as should be required for the due attainment of them ; not subjecting the Hindoos to any tax for access to their place of devotion, or under the notion of granting them a religious privilege, or of tolerating idolatry, in consideration of money. The Court of Directors, however, were over-ruled in this proceeding by a superior authority, which thought it sufficient to acquiesce generally in what the Bengal Government, in their above-mentioned letter of 16th May, 1806, proposed should be done.

By the same superior authority another dispatch was substituted to that effect, in which it was stated, that as the tax on pilgrims resorting to Allahabad, and Juggernaut, was established during the Nawaub's and the Mahratta Government, here did not appear to be any objection to its continuance under the British Government.

This substituted dispatch went, as the law directs, in the name of the Court of Directors, although it was in opposition to their sentiments. But, before it arrived in Bengal, the Government there had passed, by their own authority, the Regulation of April, 1809.

That part of the province of Orissa, which contains the Temple of Juggernaut, first became subject to the British Empire under the administration of Marquis. Wellesley, who permitted the pilgrims at first to visit Juggernaut without pay

the residence of Governor Hastings, and within view of the present Governor-General's countryhouse, there is a temple of this idol, which is often stained with human blood. At the festival of the Rutt Jattra, in May, 1807, the Author visited it, on his return from the South of India, having heard that its rites were similar to those of Juggernaut.

ing tribute. It was proposed to his Lordship, soon after, to pass the Regulation first above-mentioned, for the management of the Temple, and levying the tax; but he did not approve of it, and actually left the Government without giving his sanction to the opprobrious law. When the measure was diseussed by the succeeding Government, it was resisted by George Udny, Esq. one of the Members of the Supreme Council, who recorded his solemn dissent on the proceedings of Government, for transmission to England. The other members considered Juggernaut to be a legitimate source of revenue, on the principle, I believe, that money from other temples in Hindostan had long been brought into the treasury. It is just that I should state, that these gentlemen are men of the most honourable principles, and of unimpeached integrity. Nor would any one of them, I believe, (for I have the honour to know them) do any thing which he thought injurious to the honour or religion of his country. But the truth is this, that those persons who go to India in early youth, and witness the Hindoo customs all their life, seeing little at the same time of the Christian Religion to counteract the effect, are disposed to view them with complacency, and may sometimes be in danger of at length considering them even as proper or necessary.

Juggernaut's Temple, near Ishera, on the Ganges :

Rutt Jattra, May, 1807.

• The tower here is drawn along, like that at Juggernaut, by cables. The number of worshippers at this festival is computed to be about a hundred thousand. The tower is covered with indecent emblems, which were freshly painted for the occasion, and were the objects of sensual gaze by both sexes. One of the victims of this year was a well-made young man, of healthy appearance and comely aspect. He had a garland of flowers 'round his neck, and his long black hair was dishevelled. He danced for a while before the idol, singing in an enthusiastic strain, and then rushing suddenly to the wheels, he shed his blood under the tower of obscenity.*

I was

* This case was fully authenticated at the time, and reported by eye-witnesses in Calcutta. Old Indians in England will sometimes observe, that though they lived many years in the East, they never saw such things. It is very possible that they did not, if they never inquired into them. Will a Hindoo servant tell his master that a woman is burning alive, or that blood is shed under the wheels of Juggernaut ? Certainly not, He knows that his master, if he be a man of any feeling, will disapprove of such inhumanity; and the Hindoo has no desire to hear the bloody rites of his religion commented on at a Christian table. He will rather conceal the fact, and will have more satisfaction in promoting his master's pleasures, and in supplying him with the narcotic and soul-composing Hooka. Of the Hindoo scenes around him (even those in which his own domestics bear a part) there is no man in general more not at the spot at the time, my attention having been engaged by a more pleasing scene.

. On the other side, on a rising ground by the side of a Tank, stood the Christian Missionaries, and around them a crowd of people listening to their preaching. The town of Serampore, where the Protestant Missionaries reside, is only about a mile and a half from this Temple of Juggernaut. As I passed through the multitude, I met several persons having the printed papers of the Missionaries in their hands. Some of them were rtading them very gravely; others were laughing with each other at the contents, and saying, "What do these · words mean?"

. I sat down on an elevated spot to contemplate this scene, the tower of blood and impurity on the one hand, and the Christian Preachers on the other. I thought on the commandment of our Saviour, Go ye, teach

ignorant than the English Saheb (master).--About the year 1790, twenty-eight Hindoos were crushed to death at this very place, Ishera, under the wheels of Juggernaut, impelled, it was said, by sympathetic religious phrenzy. The fact of their deaths was notorious, and it was recorded in the Calcutta Newspapers.

But so little impression did it make on the public mind, and so little inquiry was made by individuals on the subject, that it became doubtful, at length, whether the men perished by accident, or, as usual, by self-devotement; for it was said, that to qualify the enormity of the deed in the view of the English, some of the Hindoos gave out that the men fell under the wheels by accident.

all nations.'. I said to myself, “How great and glorious a ministry are these humble persons now exercising'in the presence of God! How is it applauded by the holy Angels, who have joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth; and how far does it transcend the work of the Warrior or Statesman, in charity, utility, and lasting fame! And I could not help wishing, that the Représentatives of the Church of Christ in my own country had been present to witness this scene, that they might have seen hów practicable it is to offer. Christian instruction to our Hindoo subjects.

IMMOLATION OF FEMALES.

Before we proceed to shew the happy effects of Christianity in those provinces of India where it has been introduced, it will be proper to notice that other sanguinary rite of the Hindoo superstition, the FEMALE SACRIFICE. The female Sacrifice is two-fold. There is the sacrifice of women who are burned alive on the funeral pile of their husbands, and there is the murder of female children. We shall first advert to the sacrifice of women. The report of the number of women burned within the period of six months, near Calcutta, will give the reader some idea of the multitude who perish annually in India.

« PreviousContinue »