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height, seems to look down with triumph and exultation on the fallen state of a city so profoundly revered by the Hindoos, would appear to have been prompted to the mind of Aurungzebe, by a bigoted and intemperate desire of insulting their religion. If such was his wish, it hath been completely fulfilled. For the Hindoos consider this monument, as the disgraceful record of a foreign yoke, proclaiming to every stranger, that their favourite city has been de
based, and the worship of ther gods defiled. From the top of the minarets is seen the entire
prospect of Benares, which occupies a space of
about two miles and an half along the northern bank of the Ganges, and generally a mile inland from the river. Many of the houses,
which are remarkably high, some of them ha- .
- ving six and seven floors, are built of stone, re
sembling that species found in the quarries of Portland", and which abounds in this part of the country. But the streets where these lofty buildings stand, are so narrow as not to admit of two common carriages abreast. In addition to the pernicious effect which must proceed from a confined atmosphere, there is, in the hot season, an intolerable steneh arising from the many pieces of stagnated water dispersed in different
* The Benares, or Chunar-Ghur stone, is closer grained and deeper coloured, than that of Portland.
quarters of the town, whose waters and borders are appropriated to the necessary uses of the inhabitants. The filth also, which is indiscriminately thrown into the streets, and there left exposed, (for the Hindoos possess but a small portion of general cleanliness,) add to the compound of ill smells, so offensive to the European inhabitants of this city. The irregular and compressed manner which has been invariably adopted in forming the streets of Benares, has destroyed the effects which symmetry and arrangement would have otherwise bestowed on a city, entitled, from its valuable buildings, to a preference of any capital which I have seen in India. IN my research into the principles of the Hindoo religion, I received great aid from a conversant knowledge of the Marhatta language, and an acquaintance, though very trivial, with the Sanscrit. The use of this last tongue, now chiefly confined to a particular sect of Bramins, who officiate in the character of priests, hath ever been made the channel of conveying to the Hindoos, the essential tenets of their religion, with all the various forms of their worship. The Sanscrit is a sonorous language, abounding in pith and conciseness; and its periods flow with boldness, and terminate in a cadence peculiarly musical. An extract of a sloke, or stanza, which has been quoted by
Mr. Halhed, is a striking testimony of the nervous composition, and the laconic turn of the Sanscrit. Being composed of only four lines, I will insert it, and endeavour to give the translation literally, and in verse.
Petache — rcnervan — shetroo,
Father — in debt — enemy.
Matah — shetroo — reshelenee,
Mother — enemy — extravagant, or immoral.
BharTah — rupervuttee— shetroo,
Wife — beautiful — enemy.
Pootre — shetroo — n'punditah,
Son j— enemy — unlearned.
The mother who hath lost her fame,
The Hindoos believe in one God, without beginning and without end, on whom they bestow, descriptive of his powers, a variety of epithets. But the most common appellation, and which conveys the sublimest sense of his greatness, is, Sree Mun Narrain*. The Hin
* There is reason to believe, that in the more early periods of time, before the priests of the Hindoos had found it expedient, for the firmer establishment of tlft-ir sway over the minds of the people, doos, in their supplication to the Deity, address him as endowed with the three attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, which in the Sanscrit are expressed by the terms, Neerangin, Neerakar, and Neetgoon. Though these terms may not, in literary strictness, comprise the precise meaning of the English text, they convey it virtually, and in the amplest sense. The Hindoos likewise believe, that the Supreme Deity possesses a threefold form, the parts of which are said to be separate. It is composed of Sree Mun Narrain, who is supposed to represent a human form; the Alhah Letchinry, described as a beautiful woman; and a serpent on which the Deity is seated. This emblematical assemblage, a symbol of strength, love, and wisdom, according
to raise a huge superstructure of emblematical worship, the temples erected to the Supreme Being were plain, and void of personification: the remains of one of these are now to be seen on the summit of a hill, near the city of Kashmire; which, according to tradition, had been dedicated to the Creator of the world; in which the prayers of those who entered, were addressed to the Deity without supplicating the intercession of an intermediate agent, and where no image, or symbol of Divine power, had a place. A gentleman of curious research on the coast of Coromandel, informed me, that at ChilembeTum, about 20 miles to the southward of Cudalore, he saw a religious Hindoo edifice, plain, and without any interior figure, which was devoted to the worship of " the Invisible God," and was never approached but with tokens of profound awe and reverence.
to the Hindoo faith, is wholly spiritual, and is never represented in their temples by any object of matter: they say it is indivisible, and of infinite space”. IN the beginning, the Hindoos believe that the Deity created three men, to whom he gave the names of Brimha, Vystnow, and Shevahf. To the first was committed the power of creating mankind;—to the second, of cherishing them; —and to the third, that of restraining, correcting, and destroying them;. Brimha at one breath formed the human kind out of the four elements, amongst which he infused, if I understand the interpretation, and may be allowed the term, a vacuum.S.
* Perhaps the mysterious Triad of Plato, who made a free use of Eastern knowledge, may have been formed from Indian ma
+ Called also Eishever, and Mhah Deve.
: In the capacity of Mhah Deve, he is denominated, “The Destructive Power.”
§ The word in the Sanscrit language, is akash, the proper signification of which, I believe, I was not at the time, accurately informed of; for it should seem, that Hindoos do not admit of a vacuum, in their system of nature:—akash means, in a general acceptation, aerial space; but in the present sense, I am induced to think that it is designed by the Hindoos, to denote the grand vivifying principle, termed in ancient fable, the Promethean fire, supposed to have animated the human body.—In this note, it Inay not be uninteresting to introduce a tenet of the Egyptian theological philosophers, which corresponds with the idea I have foruled of the akash of the Hindoos, and also, certain opinions
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