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chaste in their design, than the productions of modern Hindu art: indeed, their superiority in this respect is exceedingly noticeable. To what epoch they ought to be ascribed, it is not easy to say. I question if they are Hindu sculptures at all, and should be disposed to assign a Buddhist origin to most, if not all, of them. I was much struck with one stone, which seemed to represent, at least, two undeniable emblems of Buddha. The apex of the stone was ornamented with a circle, with radii diverging from the centre, in other words, with the Buddhist wheel. Various stones built into the wall, in this quarter of the city, are, likewise, elaborately carved. These, it is possible, are connected with the same era as the figures just referred to.
BENARES, Kás'í, and Kedár, the three Grand Divisions of the city. No
Old Hindu Temples in Benares.—Puranic Character of the Kás'í division of the City.—No trustworthy information concerning Ancient Buildings to be obtained either from Hindus or from their sacred writings.--Preference of the Old Fanes by Pilgrims.—Trilochan Temple.—Legends respecting Trilochan.--The Idolater's idea of the benefit resulting from Worshipping in this Temple.-Kot-Linges
Nának Shah, the Sikh Guru. - Painting in the Trilochan Temple, depicting the Punishments of Hell.-Trilochan Ghát.—Gáe Ghát. - Temples of Nirbuddheswar and Ád-Mahádeva.—Gor Ji, the Gujarati Brahman.
WHILE the terms Benares and Káśí are alike applied to the entire city, yet some of the natives divide it into three great portions, namely, Benares, Káśí, and Kedár, to which they assign three distinct epochs. The most ancient is Benares, the northern division of the present city. To the south of this is Káśí, of less antiquity ; and, to the south of Káśí, Kedár, which is, comparatively, of modern date. From what source this notion has been derived, it is impossible to say; nevertheless, it is, I believe, for the most part, correct. We shall see, in a future chapter, that the ancient Buddhist remains at Bakaríyá Kund are situated on the northern side of the city, or in Benares Proper. In addition, there are, in this quarter, other spots, with which I am acquainted, where Buddhist ruins are to be found.
It is a remarkable circumstance, that, in the modern city, no Hindu temples—including the temple of Bșiddhkál, which has, undoubtedly, an antiquity of several hundred years,—whatever exist, to which the epithets old' and 'ancient’ can properly be applied; thereby corroborating what has been previously asserted, that the modern city has, to a large extent, shifted from its original site. The priests tell you, that, where temples now stand, others once stood, and that the deities now worshipped have been worshipped at these precise spots through all past time; but this, of course, is said with the object of extolling their gods. No dependence can be placed on tradition, in ascertaining the dates of temples, so long as your informant can only state that a certain temple, on a certain site, had a predecessor on that site, and that predecessor had a previous one, and so on, in an endless series.
There are, in the division of Benares Proper, a few Hindu temples, which, perhaps on good grounds, lay claim to an antiquity of several hundred years; but the number of such temples is very small. The central portion, or Káśí, which now constitutes the heart of the city, cannot, so far as my knowledge extends, make even such a boast. Yet it is the favourite resort of Hindus, and is literally choked with its abundant population and the pilgrims who, from, all parts of India, are perpetually flocking thither. Its temples and idols, its symbols of idolatry, and its priests, are all on so vast a scale as to defy calculation; while, as if in honour of this portion of it, the entire city is spoken of, throughout India, as Káśí. But, although the Kásí division now receives the lion's share of respect and attention, and the Benares division, except on special occasions and at special festivals, obtains only a very inferior share, there was a time when the two stood in a reverse relation to one another, and Benares Proper was the common resort of Hindu votaries, while the Káśí division was its mere suburb, and scarcely honoured at all, and the Kedár division was a jungle, where, possibly, stood a secluded temple or two, and a few austere naked ascetics resided in savage simplicity.
Although I regard the central portion of the city, or that which distinctively bears the name of Káśí, as, speaking generally, less ancient than the division to the north of it, I would not have it supposed that I doubt the considerable antiquity of a certain portion of it. I refer especially to the foundations of many of the buildings in the streets immediately adjacent to the Ganges ; and I conceive it to be not at all improbable, that, even in those early ages when the city extended for miles on the banks of the great river to the north and northeast of the Barna stream, its southern extremity not only included of the modern city what I have termed Benares Proper, but also a thin band of what is now the Káśí division of the city, stretching along the Ganges in a south-westerly direction, as far, possibly, as the Dasásamedh Ghát.
While, as already remarked in a previous chapter, the present form of Hinduism in the city is Puranio, yet I would apply that term, in an emphatic and special manner, to the Káśí division, because of the strong and very intimate association which it has with the latest development and manifestation of Hinduism in the
Puráņas, and with the present features of idolatry amongst the Hindu race. The temples which stud the streets, the idols worshipped in them, the religious observances practised by the people, in short, the materialistic and sensuous characteristics of the Hindu faith, as exhibited there, are, to a very great extent, Puranic in their origin.
Respecting ancient Hindu buildings in the city, no definite and trustworthy information whatever can be gathered either from the lips of Hindus or from the writings which have come down to them from past ages.
That remains of such buildings actually exist somewhere, admits of no question; but we are left utterly in the dark concerning them, and have to depend entirely upon personal observation, in searching them out. One would have supposed, that works written upon Benares and in its praise, such as the Káśírahasya, which numbers thirty chapters; the Ká'sí-máhátmya, which contains five; and Kásí-khanda, taken from the Skaņda-purana, which consists of one hundred chapters, would have shed some light on this interesting subject: but the authors and compilers of these books have contented themselves with bare generalities, and have not troubled themselves about the epoch of any one temple, or ghát, or well, or other structure to which they may have referred. It is not known, with certainty, when the above works were written; but this, however, is well ascertained, that not one of them was written till several hundred years after the date of the Buddhist edifices the remains of which have been discovered in the city.