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THE three engravings on the preceding
page represent the three principal gods Among the learned Hindoos
Brahm is the supreme god, from whom these three descended. Some suppose that the Hindoo traditions on this subject are a corruption of the Scripture his
tory of Noah and his three sons. doos call Bramha the creator, Vishnu or re-producer.
In assigning offices to these gods, the Hin
the preserver, and Siva the destroyer,
Of the origin, character, rank, form, and appearance of these
gods very different accounts are given by different persons, or as they are worshipped in different districts. The following explanations and remarks, gathered from the writings of various missionaries, will help the readers to understand the
In Bengal Brahma is usually seen, as in the engraving, with four faces and four arms; having in his hands a portion of the Veda or Hindoo scripture, a spoon, a rosary, and a vessel containing the water of ablution.
Vishnu holds in one right hand a shell used for a trumpet, and in the other a sort of quoit, from which irresistible fire flames when whirled on the finger of Vishnu. In one of the left hands is a sort of club, and in the other a lotus-branch.
Siva has in one hand a trident, and in another a rope for binding incorrigible offenders. His other hands are open. He has a third eye in his forehead. Serpents form his ..". His necklace is composed of human heads.
Mr. Winslow has given the following account of the manner in which the tradition respecting these gods is held among the Tamul population in Ceylon and on the adjacent continent.
It is well known to those at all acquainted with the Brahminic system in India, that the Hindoos are divided into two leading sects, the Voishnurus, or worshippers of Vishnu, and the Soiryus, or followers of Siva. The remaining god of the Hindoo triad, Brumha, has no temples, and no general worship, on account of being cursed by Paryutee, the wife of Siva, for telling a lie. The sect of Vishnu, who is worshipped rincipally under the forms assumed in the ast three of his nine incarnations, is most numerous in Bengal, but is not without its adherents in the south of lndia. The Soivyus form, however, is the revailing sect among the Tamul, people, whether on the continent, or on this island. This sect regard Siva as superior to the other two of the triad, and even affect to call him the supreme god, of whom, as an eternal spirit, their sacred books contain some intima. tions. Those who hold that there is an almighty and unchangeable spirit, and yet worship Siva, who is allowed to have been born, and to be subject to death, contend that Siva is an incarnation, and the most lorious incarnation of the supreme, whom É. call the great Bramha. Of this being, whom all profess to acknowledge, very different accounts are given. The popular opinion is, that the Supreme is a male and female spirit, from
whom are descended male and female gods. In the seventh descent from the Supreme we find Siva, from Siva sprang Vishnu, and from Vishnu sprang Bramha, the creator. The manner in which men are created is said to be by lineal descent from Bramha;-the brahmins from his head, the kings from his shoulders, the merchants from his loins, and the laborers from his feet. The people in general, whether learned or unlearned, regard Siva as the great ob. ject of adoration. He has many names, but is usually called Parama Sivan, that is, the divine Sivan. In the Hindoo triad he is the destroyer, and Bramha is the creator, and Vishnu the preserver. To destroy, however, is but to new model, or re-produce. He is, therefore, the re-producer, and his worshippers contend that he is Supreme God, and that the power of creating, which Bramha has, is derived from him. Siva is here usually represented as a man with one head, three eyes, (the additional one being in the forehead, on which also the half-moon is represented,) and two arms; as riding naked on a bull, and cover. ed with ashes—holding in one hand a drum, and in the other a conch. His image is, however, more roperly made with five heads, and eight |. in six of which are, severally, a skull, a deer, fire, an axe, a rosary, and the rod of an elephant driver, while of the remaining two, which are empty, one is extended to bestow blessings, and the other raised to forbid fear. But the image more commonly worship. ped in the Siva-pooja, is that of the lingu, or lingam, which is a cylindrical stone placed upright in another at its base; or it may be made by squeezing a little clay in the hand, and placing it on a leaf, or some other seat. It is an indecent image, and the history of its origin is too obscene to be told;—yet before this, men and women alike bow, and worship it together. He is sometimes, represented as a evotee, clothed in a tiger's skin, with a necklace of human skulls, and an alms-dish made from the skull of one of Bramha's heads in his hand.
But besides these three, the objects of worship among the Hindoos are almost innumerable. There are twenty-one celestial deities, who are admitted into the devu lokum, or Siva's heaven, and besides these they reckonabove three hundred
and thirty millions of inferior and terrestrial gods, who are not admitted to this heaven. Among these are included the sun, moon, stars, deified men, evil spirits, beasts, birds, reptiles, rivers, brooks, stones, &c.; all of which the Hindoos suppose to be living creatures. The houses of many of the Hindoo princes contain courts filled with idols, each of which has an establishment of priests who perform the ceremonies of daily worship.
was obliged to grant him power that on
heart; no family bible, “profitable for docThe images of the gods may be made of trine, for reproof, for instruction in rightalmost all the metals, as well as of wood, eousness, that men may be thoroughly furstone, clay, &c. Most of the permanent nished unto all good works,” no domestic images are made of wood or stone; those worship; no pious assembly where the vilwhich are destroyed at the close of festivals, lage preacher “attempts each art, reproves are made of clay. Small images of brass, each dull delay, allures to brighter worlds, silver, and gold, are not uncommon. The and leads the way." No standard of morals sculpture .# stone images resembles that of to repress the vicious; no moral education, the popish, images of the 12th century; in which the principles of virtue and re: those cast in brass, &c, exhibit a similar ligion may be implanted in the youthful progress of the arts. The consecration of mind. an image is accompanied with a number of . Reverence for the o especially among ceremonies, the most singular of which is the poor, as might expected, does not that of conveying sight and life to the image, exceed their merits, yet it is a .# for which there are appropriate formulas, fact, that language like the following shoul with prayers, inviting the deity to come and be used respecting what the Hindoos supdwell in it. After this ceremony, the image pose to be the Providence which governs becomes sacred; and is carefully guarded the world: when it thunders awfully, refrom every offensive approach. The shas spectable Hindoos say, “Oh! the #. are trus contain directions for making idols, giving us a bad day;” the lower orders say, and the forms of meditation used in worship “The rascally gods are *'. During a contain a description of each idol. heavy rain, a woman o respectable cast Such are the objects adored by the Him- frequently says, “Let the gods perish; all doos. Such is }. deplorable state into my clothes are wet.". A man of low caste which the mind continues to sink, after it says, “These rascally gods are sending has once, renounced the doctrine of the more rain.” unity of God. Divine worship is confess- One missionary says, “The manifest edly the highest act of reverence and effect of idolatry in this country, as held up homage of which man is capable. How to thousands of Christian spectators, is an shocking then, how afflicting to a philan- immersion into the grossest moral darkness, thropic mind, to see man prostrate before a and a universal corruption of manners. The heast, or a log of wood. How greatly is the Hindoo is : ". that the image is really horror increased when this prostration of God, and the - intellect respects many millions. nounced against him, if he dare to suspect heir worship is a round of unmeaning that the image is nothing more than the and often tiresome ceremonies, in which the elements of which it is composed. The heart has very little concern, and of which Tuntru-saru declares, that such an unbeno part can be considered the fruit of real liever will sink into the regions of torment. love to the object worshipped. The greatest. In the apprehensions of the people in gen. enemies of the gods, by the performance of eral, therefore, the idols are real deities; religious austerities, obtain power with them, they occupy the place of God, and receive and even over them, and there is no princi. all the homage, all the fear, all the service, le of reciprocal love so much as recognized and all the honor which he so justly claims. tween the gods who are worshipped and The government of God is subverted, and their worshippers. It is often a strife be-, all the moral effects arising from the knowlween the two for power. Thus Siva, by edge of his perfections, and his claims upon the force of penance performed by a giani, his rational creatures, are completely lost.”
We learn from the second commandment of the decalogue that it is exceedingly offensive to that God who is a spirit, and who requires those who worship im to worship him in spirit and in truth, who is glorious in holiness, fearful in Praises, doing wonders, to make any images of him; and those who do make them justly expose themselves to the reproof of Isaiah, “To whom will ye liken God, or what likeness will ye compare to him?.. Behold the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: all nations before him are as nothing, and are counted as less than nothing and vanity.”
leaviest judgments are dé
But what shall we say when these idols are monstrous personifications of vice;