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these observations we must now make reference, for the proper astronomical view of the subject; though we cannot pass over this opportunity of saying a few words on its more general aspect. Mr Bentley having, with great courage, brought forward his own peculiar views, in opposition to the authority of such celebrated names as those of Bailli, Le Gentil, Playfair, and Sir William Jones, it certainly did not occur to' us that we could be guilty of any very unpardonable presumption, in venturing to doubt whether his speculations were in all respects conclusive. Mr Bentley, however, has thought fit to resent our scepticism with a good deal of philosophical warmth; and with unmerciful severity accuses us both of attachment to system, and of relinquishing that system. The first charge is founded on our assertion, that the Hindus possess records of high antiquity; the second, on the opinion we had ventured to state, that no work of antiquity can exist in a country where the art of printing is unknown, free from interpolation. On this subject, Mr Bentley reasons as follows.

• How is it possible, then, that they are to be considered as ancient records, when every line of them may be interpolated? Who can pretend to judge of those parts which are genuine, and those which are not? For, certainly, it is not necessary that a part that is interpolated should have any date or mark annexed to it, by which it may be known : therefore, the authenticity of works so interpolated, must be as fully to all intents and purpofts destroyed, as if the whole were an actual for. gery.'

We are well convinced Mr Bentley is not aware how many, and what compositions, both-sacred and prophane, must be dismissed as spurious, were this canon of criticism generally adopted, and the discovery of an interpolation considered sufficient to vitiate the authenticity of the whole performance.

The learned author, however, is really mistaken, if he supposes we are influenced by any other system than a love of truth. Whatever admiration we may feel for genius, science, and erudia tion, the moment Mr Bentley has proved to our conviction that they have been exerted in the propagation of error, we shall be the first to applaud his perseverance in correcting their mistakes. The concluding portion of this treatise comprises his proofs of the Puranas and other Indian compositions, being of modern origin. Our opinion, which we see no reason to alter, is, that they contain records of high antiquity, and many interpolations of later times. The arguments for the first can by no means be comprised within the narrow precincts of a review: the proof of the latter is, that, in all the Puranas, there is introduced a chapter, styled · Bhavisyat,' or futurity, in which it is manifestly intend, ed to deduce the genealogy of Indian monarchs, from the sup

posed

posed era of the Puranas, to the period of the interpolation. We are even inclined to suspect, that our view of the subject does not very materially differ from that of Mr Bentley himself, who says, that the present Puranas seem to have been extracted from some larger works, that are not now to be found.' Now, the works themselves really pretend no more. They neither prétend to be the compositions of Vyása, nor original compositions, nor to preserve the order of the originals. They are given as extracts taken from oral recitation, in which the narrative is perpetually interrupted by questions from the auditors, and sometimes by objections. We had prepared some observations on the imputation of literary forgery as applicable to Hindu literature; but the subject has been so judiciously treated by Mr Colebrooke, that we prefer referring our readers to a subsequent part of this review.

It is now our duty to epitomize the arguments by which Mr Bentley supports his opinion. From two chronological systems contained in an astronomical work entitled the Graha Manjari, it may be inferred, that the words yuga, mahayuga, and manwantara, formerly denoted very different and infinitely shorter periods of time, than are understood by those expressions at present. The same work enables our author to ascertain the period elapsed since the creation, according to both systems, down to the era of Vicramaditya ; and, dividing the number of years into the periods indicated in each, he finds the commencement of the last golden age in the year 3164 before Christ, according to the first; and the birth of Swayambhuva, or Adam, 3878 years before the same period, according to the last. The monstrous system of chronology now adopted by the Hindus, he refers to Brahma Gupta, an astronomer who lived about the year 500 of our era. The necessity of accommodating history to this change, occasioned the new-modelling of the Puranas. ' But for this purpose it was necessary to destroy all astronomical works which might detect the imposition; and there is a report that it was the Mah· rattas who performed this task.

Such appears to be Mr Bentley's statement; which we submit, without comment, to the judgment of our readers. An Essay on the Sacred Isles in the West, with other Essays connect.

ed with that Work. By Captain Wilford. The principal essay announced in the title being postponed to the publication of the next volume of the Asiatic Researches, that of which we have here to render an account, is only one of the six other essays connected with that work.' It treats of the geographical systems of the Hindus. In none of his former works have the ingenuity and erosion of his gentleman appear. ed more conspicuous; and in pocs are bas characteristic deiects more prominent. With a profesica of classical Instration and striking or fanciful analogies, se lock everywhere in rain for a more lucid arrangement and coasistest espositivo

works

The Indian system of geography se consider as extremely corious in itself, and calculated to decidate the entient history and geography of other nations, and no cree is so cosapeteat to do it justice as the author of this essay. Each Perana contains a book on the subject, entitled Bhurana Cose, of, Dictionary of Countries. The plan we should bare been disposed to recommend would be, to select the most detailed or these compositions ; for instance, that in the layu, and, after having furnished a literal translation, to add, in the form of annotations, the mcdern names of all the places mer.tioned, as far as these can be ascertained, with the authorities for each. The first object being to obtain a precise notion of the ideas of the Paurénicas themselves, neither the improved system of the astronomers, por the changes it has undergone in passing to Cerion and Siam, should be involved with that exposition. These, indeed, would furnish interesting topics for subsequent disquisitions, as well as the varia ations which occur in different Puranas.

The Hindus divide the earth into seven principal dwipa, besides a multitude of inferior ones. The word " dwipa,' in its common signification, signifies island, and perhaps peninsula : but our author contends it must be understood as climate. We are not perfectly satisfied with the explanation given of six of the dwipa : that of Jamhu, including India itself, admits of no doubt. Instead, however, of abridging Captain account of it, we venture to exhibit the outlines of the geography of Jambu dwipa, as collected from several concurrent Pu

we have succeeded in ascertaining its limits correctly, a material step will be gained towards assigning the of the others..

The mountain M. loity king of mountains, the residence of an

in Meru occupies the centre of Jambu dwipa. This .criptions of which, the poets, consulting only

fountains, the residence of the gods, in their dehave set nature and truth at defiance, sends to

, the poets, consulting only their imaginations, each of which, after passing through a lake, a

4 truth at defiance, sends forth four streams, passing through a lake, disembogues itself

That which thern and southern seas. directed for the southern base of Meru.

is Ganga. To her source, therefore, we are gious extent, including on every side the land os

lase of Meru. This base is of prodi.

This Da cled by high mountains, through which the four Il

every side the land of Ilavritta, encir.

gh which the four rivers force their

falls into the last, is Ganga.

To her source

dismissing to the regions of

poetic

[graphic]

poetic fiction, the golden Meru, inhabited by divinities, we shall find the enclosed. land of Ilavritta, in that part of western Tartary, bounded on the south by Tibet, on the cast by the sandy desert of Cobi, on the north by the Altaï, and on the west by the elongation of Imaus, stretching to the north from the confines of India. From the four extremities of this elevated plain, or, the base of Meru, four of the largest rivers of the old continent commence their devious course ; and after washing many various regions, fall into opposite seas.

The countries north and south of Meru, are each divided by three parallel ranges of mountains, which extend from east to west. 1. Mount Nila, or the blue mountain, bounds the land of Ilavritta on the north, and separates it from a region named Ramanaca. This range of mountains seems a southern branch of the Altaï, which, under, various names, extends itself from the Caspian. The land of Ramanaca seems to include the Dauria of Professor Pallas. 2. Sweta, or the white mountain, bounds Ramanaca on the north, and divides it from a country called Hiranmaya, or abounding in gold. We find the inhabitants described in the Márcandeya Purána, as Yaxa, or workers in mines. The passage deserves attention. " North of Ramanaca lies the land of Hiranmaya, watered by the river Hiranvati; the inhabia tants are yaxa, tall, robust, and rich in gold.' The antient inhabitants of the Altaï mountains, whose metallurgic labours are still traced by the few travellers who journey through that desert region, do not seem to have been unknown to the Pauránicas. Even their southern neighbours, the Massagetæ, are represented by Strabo, as abounding in gold. Cingula iis aurea et diademata in pugnis ; æris et auri abundant,' &c. 3. Sringaván. This mountain skirts Hiranmaya on the north, and separates it from the land of Curu, called Uttara Curu, or the northern Curu, to distinguish it from a kingdom of the same name in Hindûstan. This country extends to the northern ocean. We must remark, that the land of Uttara Curu was known at least by name to antient geographers. Ptolemy mentions it, and calls its capital Ottorocora. Under this denomination, the Pauránicas manifestly understand Siberia, the interior of which is too imperfectly explored, to enable us to trace the mountains of Sringaván, or many-peaked. The ocean, which washes its northern skirts, excludes all doubt of the country meant to be described. Here the river Bhadrá, after traversing all those regions from Ilavritta, enters the frozen ocean, at the northern extremity of Jamhudwipa. This river is probably the Irtish, which flows through the lake Zaizan, in its course.

Returning to the central region of Ilavritta, we find its south

er

[graphic]

ern limits defined by the Nishadha mountains, corresponding with the northern range of Tibet hills. This last country is named by the Pauránicas, Herivarsha. It is separated by the mountain Hemacuta from the land of Kinnara, which consequently comprises the countries of Srinagar, Nepal, and Butan. These are bounded by the well-known chain of Himalaya, or Imaus, which divides them from the land of Bharata, or India. Ganga flowing from Ilavritta, traverses the lake Manasa, which is visited by multitudes of pilgrims at this day. She is called Alacananda, till she enter the land of Bharata, to unite with the southern ocean. Thus, we find Jambu dwipa bounded by the ocean at its northern and southern extremities, and consequently, comprising every diversity of climate.

On the east, Ilavritta is bounded by a chain of mountains extending from north to south, called Mályaván, which divides it from the land of Bhadraswa. This country extends to the eastern ocean, which we find termed in the Matsya Purana, the Golden Sea, for the same reason probably, that it is named the Yellow Sea by our geographers. A river called the eastern Sita flows from Ilavritta, through a region described as a sterile sand, at length enters the lake Arunoda (the Orin Nor of our geographers), and traversing Bhadraswa, empties itself in the Eastern Ocean. The eastern Sita, is manifestly the Hara Moren, Whangho, or yellow river; the sandy desert through which she flows, the desert of Cobi; and the land of Bhadraswa, the empire of China.

Mount Vipula encircles the enclosed land of Ilavritta on the west. It corresponds with that extension of Imaus, stretching northwards from the woody confines of India. The country which descends from its western declivity, is named Ketumála, and stretches to the Western Sea, obviously the Caspian. A river washing the base of Vipula, pursues its course from Ilavritta to the Western Sea, after flowing through the lake Sitoda. In some Puranas it is named Suvanxu, in others Cháxu. It is generally considered as the Oxus; but the description is equally applicable to the Jaxartes. Ketumálá, of course, comprises the countries denominated by the antients Sogdiana, Bactria, and Margiana, with a portion of the territories of the warlike Sacæ.

The limits of Jambu dwipa, therefore, are distinctly marked by the Caspian on the west, the Yellow Sea on the east, whilst its northern and southern extremities are washed by the Frozen and the Indian Ocean. This account comprises the outlines of its geography as sketched in several Puranas : We shall not stop to indicate all the particulars in which it differs from that exhibited by Captain Wilford; nor will our limits admit of discussing the positien of the other dwipas. If our view of the Jambu be correct,

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