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that the Pouranam contain mutual quotations from each other, a circumftance which, if true, will fhew them to have been compofed nearly about the fame time. The Chaftram is generally fuppofed to be of the same date with the Pouranam : though the inhabitants of the north of India think its antiquity ftill higher.

Thefe different works, all of which are efteemed canonical and infpired, were compofed in the Sanfkreet; but fome of them have been fince tranflated into Tamoul Chendamil, a dialect, which, in the fouthern parts of India, is appropriated to scientific and religious fubjects. The natives boatt much of the fcrupulous fidelity of these verfions, which are venerated equally with the originals as a rule of faith. It is from the Tamoul Chendamil that our French traveller profeffes to have made his tranflation of the Bagavadam, of which we must now give a more particular account.

From feveral paffages of the work itfelf we learn, that a Bramin, named Soukuen, the fon and difciple of Viaffen, committed the Bagavadam to writing, under the direction of his father, its original author *. He was patronifed on this occafion by Paricchitou, the firft emperor of Indoftan, for whofe inftruction he engaged in the undertaking. At length, under the hands of Souden, who was alfo defcended from Viaffen, it affumed the form of a dialogue, which it ftill retains.

The general heads of its contents are indeed expreffed in the title page. The tranflator tells us, that it prefents the outlines of knowlege both human and divine, together with the hiftory of ancient penitents and venerable fages: That it is the ftandard of faith to the Vaichtnaven, or adorers of Vichnou: That it exhibits moft clearly and unquestionably many material articles of their creed; the exiftence of one fupreme Being, and his various incarnations, with the divifion of thefe incarnations into thofe of fuperior importance, and others merely accidental -The fucceffive productions, prefervations, and destructions of the univerfe- The origin of a mythological hiftory of the fubaltern deities, giants, and other illuftrious characters of antiquity. It contains alfo an abridged defcription of the different modes of worship, and of the various methods of conciliating the favour of heaven. It points out which of thefe deferve the

The first book of the prefent Bagavadam, which feems to be a kind of prefatory dialogue prefixed by Souden, afcribes the original compofition of Viaffen's work to the following circumftance: In his other writings, Vialen had omitted to relate the hiftory of Vichnou. In the depth of religious forrow for fo heinous a neglect, he was vifited by the Patriarch Naraden, by whofe advice he composed the Bagavadam, as an atonement for his crime.


preference, and conftantly afferts the unity of the Godhead, under the name of Vichnou.

Very few of our readers would with us to analyze fuch a work, and none can deem it an eafy, if a practicable talk. For these reafons, we fhall add nothing to the tranflator's account of the Bagavadam, the fubftance of which we have juff given, but immediately fubjoin fuch translated fpecimens as may poffibly be perufed without difguft by the common reader, while they contain fome information for the lover of Indian literature and antiquities.

The following extra conveys a far more favourable idea of Indian religion and morality, than the general tenor of the Bagavadam will permit us to acquiefce in:

Duties are either incumbent on all men without any exception, or confined to particular tribes, or different individuals.


The duties incumbent on men in general are, to worship God, to remember the tutelar deities and invoke their affistance, to behave with tenderness and affability to every one, to commiferate and fuccour the afflicted, to bear adverfity with patience, to deteft falsehood, to diftinguish between what is lafting and what is perishable, to obferve the fafts appointed by religion, to give alms, to preferve conjugal love unfpotted, to abhor adultery, to fpeak little, to read the facred hiftories, or to liften to them attentively when read or repeated by others.'

The following are the duties peculiar to the feveral tribes:

The Bramins, who confecrate themfelves to the fervice of religion, are bound to ftudy and teach the doctrines of the Vedam, to offer facrifices, or caufe them to be offered, to receive alms and to diftribute them to others.

The Rajas, who compofe the fecond tribe, ought to ftudy the Vedam, to offer facrifice and give alms, to defend their country, and to be always ready to march against the enemies of the state.

The third tribe is that called Vaffiar, and is divided into three claffes: they are obliged to be acquainted with the precepts of the Vedam, to offer facrifices, to give alms, and to apply themselves to the exercife of their refpe&tive avocations. Thus the husbandman muft cultivate the foil, the fhepherds and others who have the care of cattle muft attend to the increafe of their flocks and herds, and the bankers mutt alfo purfue their bufinefs with activity and diligence.

Thofe who compofe the fourth tribe, called Choutrer, are bound in duty to ferve the three former. The duties of women are, to be good housewives, to fuit their drefs to the taste of their husbands, whom they mult cheerfully obey, to conciliate the affection and esteem of their parents and relations. The wife cannot plead the profligacy of her husband in juftification of her own faults.-She ought rather to adopt fuch a conduct as may contribute to his reformation.-She muft even regard him as her god, and for this fhe fhall be rewarded both in the prefent and in the future life. The potter, the bleacher, the painter, the barber, the oilman, and other tradefmen, are all


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bound not to withdraw from the duties of their refpective stations. It is, indeed, in an exact compliance with thefe duties that their happinefs will be found to confift. He who conducts himself with prudence, gentleness, and patience, however low may be his extraction, fhall be efteemed in this life, and recompenfed in the other. In truth, there is nothing really noble but a virtuous life. Nobility and high birth are only arbitrary and external diftinctions.'

We shall only add the duties of the Bramin during his probation, or noviciate, and thofe of the folitary penitent.

The Bramin who is in his noviciate, fhould carry in his hand a ftaff and a bundle of green leaves, which latter are to ferve him for a plate. He must wear, by way of fcarf, the poulanoul (a cord compofed of many threads). On his finger he must wear a bit of grafs in the form of a ring, on his loins a girdle of herbs, called Nanal, to which decency must add a fmall piece of linen. A ftag's fkin fhall ferve both for his feat and his bed. He must be modeft and filent; pray regularly at morning, mid-day, and in the evening; and he must recite the appointed hymns in praife of the Sun, at the dawn and at the clofe of every day. It is his duty to study the Vedam, and to render every kind of fervice to his Founder. He fhall proftrate himself before him at the beginning and at the end of each day's lecture. He fhall beg his rice from gate to gate, and eat it in the prefence of his mafter, and with his exprefs permiffion. He fhall be fober, not overcharging his ftomach, but exact in the obfervation of the appointed fafts. Cleanlinefs is alfo with him an indifpenfable duty. He muft ftudiously avoid the company of females, and never fpeak to them, except when compelled by neceffity; for his heart must be the refidence of purity and chastity. The heart of man is like butter, which melts at the approach of fire; and he who frequents the fociety of women contracts a tendernefs and amorous fufceptibility unfavourable to virtue.'

The neceffity of this caution is enforced by the example of Brahma himfelf-but we will be more tender of his reputation than the author of the Bagavadam.


The folitary and reclufe peninent fhould feed on the fruits or roots of the defert, with a little rice, or meal, which remains after he has made his offerings to God. He fhall have no flore of provifon, but fhall fearch for his daily food with his ftaff and his pitcher in his hand. His hair fhall be tied, the rind of trees fhall be his

clothing, and a cave his dwelling. He fhall live thus for 12, 8, 4, or 2 years, as his conftitution fhall permit. If at length his fenfual appetites, and indeed every influence of fenfe, be annihilated, he will be able to abftain from nourishment, and will not relax his pious labours, till his fenfes are absorbed in his foul, and his foul in that fupreme and univerfal Being whom we call God.

If the penitent finds himself able to live the life of San niaffy, his raiment must be a bit of linen on thofe parts which modetty requires fhould be concealed. He must abandon every thing, and, having nothing but his staff and his pitcher, muft fojourn but

A mendicant, or begging renitent.



one night in any city or village. Let him meditate on the truths of the Vedam, and never dare to doubt or controvert them. He must make but one meal in the day, and that on rice or lentils. Laftly, he will wait cheerfully for death, and even pant for its approach. This Sannially, if his courage increase, will become a Paramenechen, that is, he will even throw afide his staff and his pitcher. He will henceforth speak no more, and religious meditation will render him deaf to every worldly found. His foul will be so absorbed in contemplation, or rather in the Deity, that he will be deemed out of his fenfes. Such was the life of the famous penitent Affegareden, who was difcovered in this flate by the fage Pragaladen.'

In the feventh book, fpiritual worship is ftrongly infifted on, and idolatry fhewn to be the child of ignorance.

The only true facrifice is that of the fpirit and the heart. Ignorant perfons addrefs their vows to idols fashioned by the hand of men; but the wife man worships God in fpirit. So eminent is the dignity of the Bramins, that the duft of their feet is venerated in heaven, on the earth, and in the great abyfs. Yet know that the wife man is incomparably more excellent than these Bramins.'

The fuperior merit which the Hindoos afcribe to religious contemplation, and the union with the Godhead which they think it produces, feems to have given rite to the following divifion of virtues into diftinct claffes, and to the different rewards annexed to the practice of them:

Virtue must be divided into two kinds, of which one is called Pravarty, the other Nivarty. The former is divided into Uchtam and Bourtam.-The Uchtam confifts in conforming to the rules prefcribed for the regulation of religious ceremonies.

To build temples and inns, to dig ponds and wells for the accommodation of the public, to plant groves and rows of trees on the roads, conftitute the good works which have obtained the name of Bourtam.

Those who practife thefe virtues fhall acquire the privilege of dying when the fun verges toward the fouth, and in the night of a day when the moon begins to wane. After their deaths they fhall-go into that planet, where both the degree and duration of their happinefs fhall be proportioned to their merits. This ended, they shall fall again to the earth in a fhower of rain, and penetrate different material fubftances, which, being eaten by men, or other animals, fhall become a part of thofe who feed on them.-After this, the union of the fexes naturally gives rife to another period of probation, which does not end till, after innumerable births and tranfmigrations, the foul acquires fufficient courage to practise the higher virtues, diftinguished by the title of Nivarty.

The foul in the state of Nivarty burns with the fire of wisdom, and annihilates all the powers of fenfe. Such a foul retires into itself, and is at length abforbed in the immenfity of the universal Being — A man in this ftate dies when the fun begins his course toward the north, and in the morning of a day when the moon is in her first quarter. Borne on the rays of the fun, he fhall enter into the para

dife of Brahma, there to feast on pleasures which baffle all defcrip


The punishments of the damned are equally proportioned to their crimes by the Indian Radamanthus, Yamin :

Those who fcorn the rules and precepts of piety fhall be punished during as many years as they have hairs on their bodies. Atheists, and thofe who defpife all religion, fhall be thrown on heaps of pointed weapons. Those who affront perfons of rank, or Bramins, fhall be cut in pieces. Adulterers fhall be obliged to embrace red-hot ftatues. Thofe who do not fulfil the duties of their calling, or who abandon their families to a state of vagrancy and want, fhall be mangled by ravens with iron beaks. Those who injure their neighbours, or who are guilty of killing animals, fhall be thrown into infected dungeons, and fuffer excruciating torments. The wretches, who have not revered their parents and the Bramins, fhall dwell in a furnace, the flames of which blaze to the height of 100,000 yoffney. Those who have wronged old men and children fhall be burned in cauldrons of iron. Debauchees, who have lived in a fhameless commerce with ftrumpets, fhall be forced to walk on thorns. Lyars and flanderers fhall lie on iron beds, and be fed with ordure. The avaricious shall be preyed upon by worms. Those who have robbed a Bramin shall be fawed in funder. The hard-hearted, who have oftentatiously facrificed cows, and other animals, fhall be beaten on an anvil. Those who have not had pity on the miferable and the poor fhall be burned with fire-brands. Falfe witneffes fhall be thrown headlong from the tops of tremendous mountains. Laftly, the damned fhall never die; but their bodies, being formed of a certain fubtle matter, though reduced to atoms by thefe torments, fhall re-unite like quick filver.

In fertility of invention, thefe fictions may rival fome parts of the elegant mythology of the Greeks. They feem at first fight calculated to awe the multitude, and to make fuperftition fubfervient to morality. Yet the very next page divefts them of moral utility, and even ftrikes at the root of all religion. We are there told, that the utterance of any one of the names of Vichnou atones at once for every crime punishable in the Indian Tartarus. And though Yamin should have iffued his warrant for the apprehenfion of the culprit, even the cafual pronunciation of there myftic fyllables will arm the hoft of heaven against the infernal minifters. As the Bagavadam not only ftates this comfortable doctrine, but confirms it by the relation of a fact in point, we fhall tranflate this part of it for the amusement of the plain English reader, who will honour its abfurdity with no other comment than a fmile of contempt. There are fome others, from whom it will, perhaps, require and receive both illuftration and fupport; and we leave it to be explained and defended by fuch advocates for Indian fables and chronology as find nothing unintelligible but the Gospel, and nothing incredible but truth. To avoid the dreadful evils above defcribed, there are no means more efficacious than to remember Vichnou, and invoke his holy So great, indeed, is the virtue of his divine names, that





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