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dead body is laid on it. The widow then walks seven times round the pile, strewing parched rice and Cowries,* as she goes, which are given to her for the purpose. The rice and Cowries are caught by the bystanders with great avidity as they fall, from the idea that the possession of them will serve to prevent or cure certain diseases. The widow having ascended the pile, and laid herself down by the body of her husband, the sheet is drawn over them, the bodies bound together with the ropes, and faggots laid upon them. The son of the deceased, or principal actor in the ceremony, turning his face from the pile, applies a lighted torch to it opposite to the head of the deceased, and persons placed round the pile, with torches in their hands, then set fire to it on all sides. If local situation admits of it, the ceremony is performed near to some sacred river, in order
* Small sea-shells, used in some parts of India as an inferior money.
to throw into it the bones, or ashes of the deceased. *
Some Hindus, in different parts of India, bury the dead, and among these it is the duty of the widow in certain tribes, or families, to bury herself with the body of her husband. The religious ceremonies being performed, she descends into the grave with him, and taking the body in her arms, is with it covered with the earth.†
* Accounts of those sacrifices, by persons who were present at them, are to be found in numerous authors: see Bernier, Tavernier, Holwell, Sketches of the Hindūs, Asiatic Annual Register, Ward, &c. &c. The account here given, seems to be the most circumstantial of any which the author at present recollects.
+ Bernier, after speaking of women who burn themselves, says: "Ce sont certainement des choses bien barbares et bien cruelles; mais ce que font les Brahmens dans quelques endroits des Indes est bien autant ou plus. Car, au lieu de brûler ces femmes, qui veulent mourir après la mort de leur mari, il les enterrent peuà-peu toutes vives, jusqu'à la gorge; et puis tout d'un coup se jettent deux ou trois dessus, leur tordent le cou, et les achevent d'étouffer."
See likewise Voyages de M. Dellon, en 1668, tome i. p. 143, &c. Amsterdam.
The Hindus, in general, are great observers of decorum; their manners are unaffected; and they are cautious not to say or do any thing which they imagine may offend, or serve to recall ideas that may be painful.
The mental faculties of the human species seem to arrive sooner at maturity in India than in colder climates; and it is not uncommon to see children behave and speak with a degree of gravity and propriety that seems incompatible with their age.
It is said that the Hindus were prohibited under the severest penalty, that of losing their cast, from quitting their country without permission ;* and the rules and restrictions with respect to their diet, render it almost impossible, without some dispensation in that respect being previously obtained. Whether merchants and bankers have a general dispensation, or travel by
*Indi enim prope gentium soli nunquam emigravêre finibus suis.-Plin. lib. vi. c. 20. tom. i. p. 374. (Ed. Bipont.)
particular leave of the principal Brahmins at the places where they reside, we know not; but they and their agents now, as formerly, are sometimes to be met with in different foreign countries. Every where, however, they abstain from eating such food as is forbidden by their laws, particularly any thing that may not have been prepared by persons of their casts; and they fail not to observe, as far as may be possible, their ablutions, and other religious duties.
Abul Fazil, after speaking of the religious tenets of the Hindus, says, "Summarily, the Hindus are religious, affable, courteous to strangers, cheerful, enamoured of knowledge, fond of inflicting austerities upon themselves, lovers of justice, given to retirement, able in business, admirers of truth, grateful, and of unbounded fidelity. Their character shines brightest in adversity. Their soldiers know not what it is to fly from the field of battle.* They have great respect for their rulers, and make no
* Meaning of course the Cshatriya, or military cast.
account of their lives, when they can devote them to the service of God. If any person in distress flies to them for protection, although he be a stranger, they take him by the hand, and will defend him at the expense of their property, reputation, and life."*
Though this account seems rather a list of good qualities than a faithful portrait of character, and though some of those qualities may perhaps be exaggerated, it must nevertheless be allowed, that such praise from a Mohammedan, and from one who possessed so much knowledge of the Hindūs as Abul Fazil, speaks strongly in favor of their manners and character in general.
As all the different professions amongst the Hindus form so many classes or tribes, it may be said that every one learns from his father the trade he belongs to, nor can he quit it for any other.
The people in general are naturally
Ayeen Akbery, edit. 1800; vol. ii. pp. 322 and