Charles Reed Peers.

Universal classics library (Volume 6) online

. (page 19 of 37)
Online LibraryCharles Reed PeersUniversal classics library (Volume 6) → online text (page 19 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


sixty days, with nights corresponding to the days, so that
up to the present time, that is, the period of composing
this work, in the year of the Hegira 1055 (A. D. 1645),
there have elapsed four thousand seven hundred and forty-
six years of the Kali-Yug. So many Brahmas have appeared,
that the sums of their years exceed the limits of human
comprehension ; they have merely a tradition that one thou-
sand Brahmas have successively appeared and been anni-
hilated ; so that the present is the thousand and first, of
whose life fifty years and half a day are expired, which
commences the half-day of the fifty-first year. As soon as
the age of Brahma terminates, according to the preceding
calculation, or amounts to the destined number, he then
forms twelve blazing suns, whose heat and splendor con-
sume alike both earth and water, so that there remains not
a vestige of this world or its productions, and mankind
plunge beneath the waters, which catastrophe is called



198 THE DABISTAN

Pralaya, in Hindawi: after this event, another Brahma ap-
pears and creates the world anew, which process of disso-
lution and reproduction continues to all eternity. The
Hakim Umr Khakani says : —

> and Upavi ta, « a thread. '^



SCHOOL OF MANNERS 201

the Brahmanical thread they are, by way of charity, to
bestow a cow on the Brahmans, which act they call Gdddn;
12, is the ablution of the body with milk, curds, clarified
butter, honey, and sugar, which they call the Ashnan-
fanjah and Paraish-chat; 13, when the boy reaches his
fifteenth year, they make him master of a household; this
they call Vivdhak, or ^* matrimony '^ ; 14, the son, after the
decease of his father, performs the requisite charities and
donations, which they call Pind-praddn; 15, on the 7th
of the month Mdgha, when the majesty of the great lumi-
nary is in Aquarius, they are to present the Brahmans with
pulse, barley, wheat, black rice, sesame, gold, and such
like ; this is called Ddn-fhal; 16, on the Shiva-rdtri, or
* night of Siva,^' the 21st of the Bhdgan (Phagan, or
Phdlgun) they present to the Brahmans a serpent of silver,
with red rice, which they call Phani.



Curious Brahman Ritks

The above are the sixteen ceremonies. It is moreover
necessary that a Brahman's son should be invested with the
Munji at the age of eight, the Chatriyas at eleven, and
the Vaisyas at twelve, after which ceremony the boy is to
be sent to school.

A Brahman must, while performing the offices of nature,
fasten the Munji securely on the right ear, turning his face
to the north, but at night to the south. After performing
these offices, he is to take his instrument, and going three
paces farther he is to apply to his hands water, which is to
be in a vessel, and with which earth has been blended, and
this is to be continued until there remains no disagreeable
odor. He is after this to perform his ablution in a clean
place,* and seat himself in such a manner that his hands

* The abstract given in the Dabistdn is inaccurate, agreeing neither
with Manu nor Ward ; in Manu, it is as follows (I. II. si. 58) : Let a
Brahman at all times perform the ablution with the pure part of his
hand, denominated from the Veda or with the part sacred to the Lord
of creatures, or with that dedicated to the gods; but never with the
part named from the Pitris. (si. 59) The pure part under the root
of the thumb is called Brahma ; that at the root of the little finger,



202 THE DABISTAN

should be under his knees, with his face to the north
or east ; next, while repeating the prescribed forms of
prayer, he is to put a little water three times successively
into the palm of the right hand,* which he is to swallow
without reciting any prayers ; he is then to cleanse the
mouth with the back of the left hand, and having taken
into the palm of his hand other water, and dipped the other
fingers into it, he is to apply them to his nose, eyes, and
ears; the water must be pure, without foam or bubble. On
this occasion the Brahman is to swallow so much water
that the moisture may extend to his breast ; the Chattri
such a quantity as to extend to his throat ; the Vaisya suf-
ficient to moisten the inside of his mouth ; the cultivator,
women, and children who have not assumed the Munji, are
to apply a little water to the lips, then immerse the head,
and having repeated the proper forms of prayer, to sprinkle

C&ya ; that at the tips of the fingers, Daiva ; and the part between
the thumb and index, Pitrya. (si. 60) Let him sip water thrice ; then
twice wipe his mouth ; and, lastly, touch with water the six cavities
(or his eyes, ears, and nostrils), his breast, and his head. (61) He who
knows the law and seeks purity, will ever perform his ablution with
the pure part of his hand, and with water neither hot nor frothy,
standing in a lonely place, and turning to the east or north. (62) A
Brahman is purified by water that reaches his bosom ; a Chatriya, by
water descending to his throat; a Vaisya, by water barely taken into
his mouth ; a Sutra by water touched with the extremity of his lips.
*This rite is called Achamana performed by taking up water in
the palm of the right hand three times, and drinking it as it runs
toward the wrist; then, with the right hand, the Brahman is to touch
his lips, nose, ears, navel, breast, forehead, and shoulders, repeating an
incantation; wash his hands again, and perform achamana; repeat an
incantation; then sitting to the N. or E., before sunrise, cleanse his
teeth with the end of a green stick, about six or seven inches long.
If he clean his teeth after sunrise, in the next birth he will be born
an insect feeding on ordure. He must now wash from his face the
mark on his forehead made the day before. Lastly, he puts a dry
and new-washed cloth around his loins and sitting down, let him
cleanse his poita by rinsing it in the water; then taking up some earth
in his hand and diluting it with water, put the middle finger of his
right hand in this earth, and make a line betwixt his eyes up to
the top of his forehead ; then draw his three first fingers across his
forehead; make a round dot with his little finger in the centre at
the top of his head; another on the upper part of his nose; and another
on his throat; etc.



SCHOOL OF MANNERS 203

the head several times. The Brahman is next to compress
the nostrils, so that the passage of inhalation and exhalation
should be closed up, and recite the prayers prescribed on the
occasion ; then he is to stand for some time, turning his
face toward the great luminary, and repeat the necessary
formula3. Every morning, on rising up and performing duly
the offices of nature, he is to go through the necessary rites
which they call Sandhya* the observance of which, three
times every day, is equally imperative on both Brahman and
Chattriya : i, every morning, or from the dawn of day
until the rise of the world illuminating solar orb; 2, at mid-
day, from the sun's meridian altitude to his declination ; 3,
at evening, or from one hour before the setting of the world-
enlightening sun until the rising of the stars. These rites
are to be accompanied by Ghasal, or " ablution,'* except on
the Sandhya of the latter part of the day, when, if it be
impossible, the established prayers only are to be recited.
On performing this ablution, the head is to be several times
sprinkled with water in such a manner that it may fall in
drops on it ; after which, having gone through the indis-
pensable forms of prayer, he is to make the Homa, that is,
he is to light the holy fire on a pure spot, and place on it
thin and fine pieces of wood, and having chosen the still
more delicate splinters of it, and moistened them with water,
he drops pure rice upon them. The fire being thus lighted,
he addresses prayers to his spiritual guide or his instructor,
father, and elders, and laying his head on the ground, so-
licits their benedictions ; pronouncing during this adoration
his own name, so that it may be heard by them, after this
manner : " I who am such a one, in profound adoration
address my prayers to you, and prostrate myself in your
presence'* ; the same prostration must also be performed to
his mother. He then repairs to his master, before whom
he stands in an humble attitude and receives instruction ;

* Sandhya. The Brahman must offer up many prayers ; pour out
water to different gods ; repeat certain forms of prayer in honor of
the sun, which he must worship ; and repeat the Gdyatri ; then take
up water with his Kosha (small copper cup), and pour it out to his
deceased ancestors ; after which he must return home and read some
part of the Veda.



204 THE DABISTAN

but after this form, that the instructor should say of him-
self, " I am now at leisure '^ ; he is not to command him,
which would be accounted great rudeness. When the pupil
waits on his master, he is to appear before him dressed in
costly clothing ; but if both master and pupil should be in
indigent circumstances, the latter is to solicit alms, and thus
procure subsistence for his master and himself ; he is more-
over to remain silent at table.

The boy, when invested with the Brahminical thread, is
called a Bralunachari., until he enters into the marriage
state; after which, if through the necessity of his own
family he derives his daily support from another quarter,
he is not to eat at one place only, but go round to sev-
eral doors, and receiving something at each, convey the
whole to its proper destination ; but the person, whose
father and mother charge themselves with his annual sup-
port, and who can discover no other Brahman beside him-
self in that district, is allowed to satisfy his appetite at
one place. Until the time of his marriage, the Brah-
machari eats not honey, never applies collyrium to the
eyes, nor oil nor perfumes to the body ; and never eats the
viands left at table, except his master's ; he never utters a
rejoinder with harshness or severity ; avoids female inter-
course ; and never looks at the great luminary when rising
or setting; he is a stranger to falsehood, and never uses
an expression of ill omen ; nor holds anyone in detestation,
or regards him as an object of reproach; above all, he
shows exceeding veneration to his preceptor.

The ancients commanded that boys should be engaged in
the study of the Veds, or "religious sciences,'* from five
years of age to twelve. They have also said : " A Brah-
man should study the four V^das ; ** but as the acquisition
of the whole is impossible, their learned men are conse-
quently satisfied with the knowledge of small portions of
each. The first is the RigvMa^ which treats concerning
the knowledge of the Divine essence and attributes ; the
mode of creation ; the path of righteousness ; of life and
death. The second, or Tajushv^da, treats of the rules pre-
scribed for religious ceremonies, faith, burnt offerings, and
prayers. The third is the SdmavMa, which treats of the



SCHOOL OF MANNERS 205

science of music, the proper mode of reading the V6das,
and the portions selected from them ; from this source are
also derived vocal and instrumental harmony. The fourth
is the Atharva-veda, which includes the rules of archery,
the prayers proper to be recited vi^hen encountering the
foe and discharging arrows against them. If a person ac-
quainted with this system and form of prayer discharge a
single arrow, it becomes a hundred thousand arrows, some
of which contain fire, others wind, storm, dust, and rain;
others vomit forth golden stones and huge bricks ; while
some assume the forms of tremendous wild beasts and fe-
rocious animals, which strike terror into the boldest hearts.
Many are the extraordinary modes and wonderful devices
unfolded in this V^da for the total destruction of one's
enemies. Such is the Atharva Veda, and such the artifices,
magic practices, incantations, spells, and devices contained
in it.

Marriage Customs

The Brahmachdri is of two kinds : one as already de-
scribed, whom the Brahmans call Brahmachari, until the
period of his becoming a householder and taking a wife ;
the second is he who in the course of this life never enters
into the married state, pays no attention to worldly cares,
and continues the devoted servant of his instructor, on
whose death he pays the same attention to his survivors.
If the disciple should happen to die in his master's house
or that of his successor, it is accounted far more meritori-
ous than in any other place ; and if his decease should not
occur, he is carefully to w^orship the fire which is made for
the purpose of the Horn, or ^^ burnt ofi'ering,^^ and dimin-
ishing every day the quantity of his food.

Having thus given some statements concerning the Brah-
machari, it now becomes proper to mention the various
modes of contracting marriage among the Hindus : thus it
is related in the first part of the Mahdbhdrat, that a woman
who has lost her husband may lawfully take another ; for
when Parasu-Rama had exterminated the Chattris, their
wives held intercourse with the Brahmans and bare them



2o6 THE DABISTAN

children. It is also permitted to a wife deprived of her
husband, to attach herself to another; thus 2'ojanagandhd
was first the wife of Paras' ara^ by whom she had a son,
the celebrated sage Vydsa^ and she afterward became the
wife of a king named Santana. In the same work it is
also recorded, that a woman may, by her husband's con-
sent, maintain intercourse with another ; thus, on the arrival
of Raja Bali, a Brahman named Tamtna sent him his wife
and obtained a son. In like manner. Raja Pdndu, who
abstained from all intercourse with woman, permitted his
wife Kuntl * to keep company with others, and she, by
force of his prayers, mixing with angels, had sons. In
like manner it is permitted that the son be separated from
the father, but remain with the mother, and that, on the
decease of a brother, another brother by a different father
but the same mother, may marry the widow of the de-
ceased : thus Vydsa^ the son of Tojangandha by Pdrasaru^\
visited the wives of Vichitra- Virya^ who was born of the
same mother, Yojangandha, by king Santana* and there
was born to him Dkritardshtra, Raja Pdndu, and Vidvira.
It is also allowed that several individuals of the same race
and religion may among them espouse one wife : thus
Draupad'i, daughter of Drupada, R4ja of Pdnchdla, was
married to the five Pandava princes ; and A/ia/yd, the
daughter of Gautama, to seven persons ; and the daughter of
another holy person, was married to ten husbands. The
Yezdanians ascribe the seclusion of women, and their not
choosing husbands for themselves, to litigation, corrup-
tion, and the family perplexities. It is recorded also in the
Mahabharat, that in ancient times there was no such prac-
tice as the appropriation of husband and wife : every woman

\* Kunti was mother of the five Pandava princes, by as many gods ;
the names of the princes were Tud'hisht'hira, Bki'tna, Arju'na,
Naktil'a, and Sahadiva. Pandu was interdicted by a curse from con-
nubial intercourse, and obtained the~above five sons through his two
wives Kunti and Madri.

t Pardsaru: This philosopher is described as a very old man, in
the dress of a mendicant. He is charged with an infamous intrigue
with the daughter of a fisherman ; to conceal his amour with whom,
he caused a heavy fog to fall on the place of his retreat. Veda
Vyasa, the collector of the Vedas, was the fruit of this interview.



SCHOOL OF MANNERS 207

being allowed to cohabit with whomsoever she thought
proper, until once the wife of a holy personage being in
the society of another, Swetaketa, the holy man's son, feel-
ing indignant at such conduct, pronounced this imprecation:
" Let the woman who approaches a stranger be regarded as
a spirit of hell! '^ and at present the brute creation, which
possess in common with us immaterial souls, act according
to the ancient law : many, also, of the northern nations fol-
low the same practice. In the same work it is also stated,
that the sage Vyasa was born of the daughter of a fisherman,
whom the sage Paras 'ara espoused, from which it follows
that the issue of such a low connection is not to be held as
a low or degraded character. Thus far has been extracted
from the Mahdbhdrat.

According to the Smarttas, there are two kinds of wives :
the first is the legitimate wife, who is degraded by holding
intercourse with any man save her husband; the second are
those on whom no restraints are imposed ; of whom there
are numbers at the disposition of their chief men. The
princes of ancient times, to all appearance, established this
description of females for the purpose of receiving travelers
and pilgrims, an act which they regarded as productive of
great blessiiigs.

Moreover, on account of the increase of the male popula-
tion, they held not as a criminal act the holding an in-
tercourse with these females ; but regarded guilt to consist
in being intimate with a woman who has a husband; they
moreover esteemed it a base act to defraud the licensed
class of their hire. Tradition records that, in former times,
the Lulees, or *' dancing women,** who inhabited the temple
of the Tortoise in the city of Kalinga, at first gave their
daughters to a Brahman, in order to conciliate the favor of
the Almighty and insure future happiness ; but that after-
ward they gave them from selfish purposes, and exposed
them from mercenary motives; even at present, although they
have entirely given up every pious purpose, yet they do not
associate with any save those of their own religion. How-
ever, Shir Muhammed Khan, who was appointed military gov-
ernor of that province under the first sovereign, Abddlldh
Kuteb Shah, forced them to repair to the houses of the Moslem :



2o8 THE DABISTAN

notwithstanding which, the Lulees of the temple of Jagga-
nath, to this very day hold no intercourse with the Muham-
medans. In Gaya and Soram, when they take a wife, she
must be of noble and honorable descent, and of graceful
carriage ; and must not previously have been affianced to any
other person ; she is not to be related, in the remotest degree, to



Online LibraryCharles Reed PeersUniversal classics library (Volume 6) → online text (page 19 of 37)