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The immense group of Hindoo gods enjoy immortality, with which they are gifted by drinking a water called Amrut, a mythological beverage, bearing some analogy to the nectar of Homer's Deities. In the mythology of the Hindoos is found an elegant description of nine goddesses, resembling, in a certain degree, the muses of the ancients, in the nature of their occupations. There is also most picturesquely delineated, the god of love, who has a variety of epithets, all significant of the unbounded sway which he possesses over the hearts of men. His common names are Kaum and Mudden, and he is reprefented as a pleasing youth, armed with a bow of sugar cane, strung with the stings of bees; and five arrows, denoting the five fenses, each of which is baited with different qualities of the poison of love. A picture was found at , Tanjore, when the fort was captured * riding on a elephant, whose form was composed of the figures of seven young women, entwined together in so ingenious and whimsical a manner, as to exhibit an exact shape of that bulky animal. In the Bess to Eishwer Pagoda at Benares, is feen a stone figure, well executed, of the god of the sun fitting in a chariot, and driving a horse with twelve heads, an evident allusion to the divisions of the ecliptic.
* It is also said to represent Kishin, an incarnated form of the Deity:
+ An abreviated compound of Vyftnow, or Bilhen and Eilhwer. In this temple, which is dedicated to these two Deities in conjunction, the fectaries of both offer up
Without putting etymology to the torturé, or moulding to the shape of his system the deceitful aids of chronology, the careful observer might be enabled to trace some parts of the religious worship of the Hindoos into Egypt. He would discover the facred Bull or Cow of Sheva, placed high in the holy legends of the Coptis ; and he would fee the snake, one of the mysterious affociates of Sree Mun Narrain, devoutly revered by that nation, as the hieroglyphic of wisdom and longevity. It would appear that the onion, mená tioned by historians to be held in such profound veneration amongst the Egyptians, is no less marked with reverence in Hindoftan; where, though the use of a vegetable diet is strongly inculcated, and with not a very large deviation, usually adopted, the onion is forbidden to many of the sects; and in the upper part of India, when an oath, on which a matter of importance depends, is administered, the Bramin frequently introduces the onion, to render the ceremony more sacred.
In comparing the religious worship of the Hindoos with that of the ancients, the functions of some of the Deities appear confpicuously uniform ; and were it posible to procure a description of the occupations and various powers of the Hindoo subaltern gods, it might be found, that the group of the western pantheon had been selected from the divine assembly of Brimha. The Egyptians and the Greeks, in their commerce with India, through the channel of the Red Sea, have left, I have been sometimes induced to believe, tokens behind them of their connection with the
Hindoos, In the collection of a gentleman at Benares are several valuable antiques, which were purchased by the merchants of that city: one of which, representing a matron, is cut in a manner bearing every mark of Grecian skill; and another exhibited Cleopatra in the act of being bitten by the asp. The same gentleman had in his poffeffion a Medusa’s head, on an emerald, found also at Benares, which being sent to England, was unreservedly acknowledged to be the work of a Grecian or Roman master. Some years ago, a high finished Camaieu was procured at Guzerat, whereon Hercules saying the Nemean lion, was executed with much taste and spirit. These circumstances are adduced to support a conjecture, that, during the intercourse which existed between the natives of Egypt and India, the former might have introduced into their country, with some of the rare and luxurious products of Hindoostan, certain tenets and ceremonies of Hindoo mythology. In endeavouring to point out the track of these antiques, it is to be noticed, thar they might have found a way into India in the cabinets of the Mahometans, who in the more early period of their empire, were little less enthusiastic in the admiration of Grecian productions and literature, than the Romans. And it is a fact in need of no illustration, that the revival of letters and the arts, after the Roman world had been immersed in Gothie ruin, received a powerful aid from the princes of the Khaliphat. My knowledge of astronomy is so confined, that I am almost
incapacitated from describing the attainment of the Bramins in that science, long before the æra' in which it flourished in the castern world. The zodiac, with its twelve signs, is well known to the Hindoos, and they have bestowed on the seven days of the week, which commences with sunday, the names of the planets. The solar year * of the Hindoos, which is arranged in fix seasons, consists of twelve months, containing three hundred and fixty-five days; and once in the term of four years an additional day is annexed for the completion of the earth's precise revolutions round the sun. Commercial transactions and writings of correspondence are dated amongst the Hindoos according to the lunar, or Lumbut year, which' commences about the period of the vernal equinox. The month is calculated from the full moon, and is divided into thirty equal parts. Those comprehending the moon's encrease, are termed Bood, and the portion of its wane, Bole, or Bood. On the third year of the Lumbut, an extraordinary month is altercalated, for the inclusion of the time required in equalizing the lunar and solar systems. The Joaguels are divided into cycles of twelve and fixty years, each of which is distinguished by its pecu
# The solar, or as it is denominated by the Hindoos, the Lunkrant year, begins on the Ioth or 17th of April, and its months are composed occasionally of 29, 30, 31, and 32 days. The common epocha of Hindooftan was established by the Rajah Vickerum Mhaject, and founded 57 years before the year of Christ. Some Hindoo nations compute their time from other periods, as in Bengal; but their historical writings are generally adapted to the year of Vickerum Mhaject; who was much celebrated in Hindooftan, for his magnificence, and liberal protection of men of genius.
liar denomination. * The observatory at Benares, though rude in its structure, and containing instruments suitably coarse, proves notwithstanding, that the Hindoos poffefs the knowledge of ascertaining the motions of the heavenly bodies. Could access be obtained to such records of the Hindoos as are diverted of that redundancy of fable with which their priests have so copiously interwoven them, it would not be presumptuous to suppose, that we would discover they had been, in the more early ages of the world, one of the most enlightened and powerful nations that inhabited the earth.
The empire of the Hindoos, as related in many of their historical tracts, consisted of fifty-six separate principalities, ultimately governed by one prince, whose kingdom extended from the southern limits of Tartary to the island of Ceylon, and from the confines of Aslam and Arracan to the river Indus. This extensive space was inhabited by a people who were divided into four diftinct tribes, each exercising different functions, but all uniting in their various branches to promote the general good. It abounded in fair and opulent cities, which were decorated with magnificent
* The Hindoos, I believe, commonly class their time in cycles of sixty years, though that of twelve is also well known to them. Amongst some articles of plunder, captured by the Company's troops in a Bantan Fort, was found, with other objects of the Hindoo worship, an image of the Mhah Deve, and a printed representation of the figures describing the Tartar cycle, which is composed of 12 years. This figurative mode of marking time, which has prevailed from high antiquity in Japan, China, Siam, and through the vast regions of Tartary, is at this day observed in the Turkish Empire. Vol. I.