B. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) Rice.

Mysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) online

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affairs of life were supposed to be regulated by the rigid code of Manu.^
Religion consisted in ceremonial observances, which beset every moment
of existence from birth to death, and its advantages were confined to an
exclusive caste, whose instrumentality alone could render any ceremony
efficacious. Buddhism was a revolt of the religion of humanity against
the ritualism and asceticism, the lifeless superstition and arrogant
pretensions of the Brahmanical priesthood.- It taught that religion

' Bui il may be questioned whether the code was not as much a theoretical system
of the claims of the hierarchy as one in practical operation. — cf. Auguste Harth as
translated Iiid. Anl., Ill, 329.

• "The revolt of Buddhism against Brahmanism is only to l)e appreciated by those
who are familiar with the results of both systems. The India of the present day
presents many of the characteristics which must have distinguished ancient India
l)rior to the advent of CJotama Buddha. It is a land of deities, temples and priests.
The whole Indian continent is dotted with little sanctuaries which apjK-ar like the
sepulchres of defunct gods, whose grotesque and tlistorted effigies are to l)e seen
within ; and fathers and mothers bow down to these idols, praise them, propitiate
them with gifts and offerings, and invoke them for help and prosjiority. Again, there
are temples of more colossal dimensions, with jiyramidal towers or cone-shajjed
domes covered with sculptures and surrounded by walls, courtyards and rmifed
passages. But all are of the same sepulchral character. Some are the recejitacles of
archaic gods, who are arrayed in jewels and tinsel ; but even these deities are little
better than the gaudy mummies of a primeval age. The women alone seem to Ik;
fervent worshipjiers, for the men have begun to groan beneath the oppression of
idolatry and Brahmanism. Indeed the rapacity of the temple-priests is unlnumded,
whilst their culture is beneath contempt. They celebrate their festivals like children

H H 2


consisted in the suppression of evil desire, the practice of self-denial,
and the exercise of active benevolence ; and that men and women alike,
and that of all castes, may equally enjoy the benefits of a religious
life. Hence thousands and tens of thousands, both high and low,
hastened to embrace the new faith, and Buddhism continued to grow
till the time of Asoka, under whom it was established as the dominant
religion of India.

Hinduism. — It is next to impossible (M. Barth remarks) to say
exactly what Hinduism is, where it begins, and where it ends. Diversity
is its very essence, and its proper manifestation is sect — sect in constant
mobility. The rise of the religions comprised under this head was in
general due to the unsatisfactory nature of the old Brahmanical theology,
the divinities of which had gradually retired and disappeared behind a
host of abstractions too subtle to affect the conscience of the masses.
But they did not, like Buddhism, openly sunder all connection with the
past. They, on the contrary, claim to be its continuation, or rather they
represent themselves to be that very past unchanged and unmodified.
Most of them profess to be based on the Veda, with which at bottom
they have almost nothing in common, and which they virtually super-
seded by a quite different literature, but to which they nevertheless
continue to appeal as their highest authority. The characteristic
common to the majority of these religions is the worship of new
divinities exalted above all the rest, identified either with Siva or with
1 Vishnu.^ And it is singular that the Mysore country should have been
the home or refuge of the two principal founders and exponents of the
Saiva and Vaishnava creeds respectively.

Though it is sought to identify Siva with Rudra of the Vedas, who is
there introduced in a very subordinate position, it is doubtful whether
there is any correspondence between them ; and if the one was a later
development out of the other, there is no trace whatever of the process
by which Siva was raised to a supreme position as a chief member of the
Trimurti or Hindu trinity. How again the linga, under which form he
has for centuries been worshipped, came to be associated with Siva is
unknown. The introduction of an entirely new di^•inity from the
mountains of the north has been supposed, who was grafted in upon
the ancient religion by being identified with Rudra ; and it is not
impossible that the linga may have been an object of veneration among

playing with dolls. They cany the gods in procession, or induce the gaping crowd
to drag them along in huge idol cars ; hut they cannot evoke those joyous outj^Kaurings
of adoration i,ir thanksgiving which indicate the presence of religious feeling in the
hearts of the worshippers."' — Talboys Wheeler, Hist. Iiici.. III. 94.
I Rel.oflnd., 153, 159.



the aboriginal or non-Aryan Indians, and that it was subsequently
adopted by the Brahmans from them and associated with the worship
of Rudra.'

The legend regarding Daksha's sacrifice seems to bear out these views.
The probable interpretation of it is that Siva — a deity according to
(iorresio of Cushite or Hamitic tribes which preceded on the soil of
India the Aryan or Indo-Sanskrit races — wished to have a part in the
worship of the conquerors and in their sacrifices, from which he was
excluded ; and by disturbing their rites and by a display of violence
at their sacrifices, he succeeded in being admitted to participate in

The worship of Siva succeeded Buddhism, but the period which
intervened before the supremacy of Siva was generally accepted
brought to the surface many Hindu gods as candidates for the popular
favour. The records of Sankarachar)a's polemical victories show
that in his time there prevailed, among others, the worship of Brahma,
Agni, Silrya, and Ganes'a. None of these have now distinct classes
of worshippers, but Oanes'a shares a sort of homage with almost all
the other divinities. There were also sects devoted to the exclusive
worship of the female deities Bhavani, Lakshmi, Sarasvati ; and also of

The account of Gritsamada in the (lancs'a purana is supposed to
contain an allusion to the period of transition.

A king named Rukmanga one day lost his way in the woods while hunting,
and came to the hermitage of a rishi, whose wife /ell in love with him ; wlien
he refused her solicitations, she cursed him, and he was attacked with
leprosy, which was eventually cured through the favour of Ganes'a. But
Indra, it is stated, assuming the form of the king, gratified her desires, and
the fruit of the connection was the sage Gritsamada, the author of certain
hymns of the Rig-veda. He was not aware of his origin until attending
once at a ceremony with the intention of taking part in it, the Brahmans
present reproached him as of spurious descent, called him the son of
Rukmdnga, and ordered him to quit the assembly. Stung to the quick,
he went to his mother, and on her acknowledging her guilt he cursed her to
become a jujube-tree, badari, and she retorted that he should be a Brahma

He now joined himself to certain munis of a different persuasion, and
thence before long devoted himself to meditation on tlie Supreme Bcing>
standing on his great toe, with liis mind intensely fixed on the deity. At
length Ganes'a appeared to Iiini and granted certain boons. He thus

' It may be noticed that Brahmans ilo not officiate in Siva temples : these arc
served by an inferior order of priests called Sh'a dvija. A few excejitions, however,
seem to e.xist in what are distinguished as \'aiiiika Siva temples, such as the famous
one of Visvesvara at Benares.


became an object of reverence and even worship to the otiier sages. Crit-
samada continued thus in meditation, when one day on opening his eyes a
beautiful boy came up to him, who prayed to be adopted as his. Gritsamada
compHed with his request, taught him the mystic incantation OM, and sent
him away to stand on his great toe contemplating the supreme Ganes'a.
The deity after a long interval appeared and desired him to ask a boon.
He accordingly requested the power of conquering the three worlds, which
was granted, together with immunity from any weapon except that of Siva ;
and it was added that he should possess three famous cities, one of iron,
one of silver, and one of gold, and that on leaving the world he should be
absorbed into the divine essence.

This wonderful child was no other than the famous Tripurasura. He
vanquished Indra and all the gods, and reduced them to the greatest state
of leanness and distress by putting a stop to the offering up of the oblations
which mortals had been accustomed to present to them. He took posses-
sion of the abodes of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, while Ganes'a in disguise
built for him the three famous cities, one of iron, one of silver, and one of
gold. Siva now did penance to Ganes'a, who at length appeared and
granted him the boon of victory over their enemy. The gods, led by Siva,
overcame Tripurasura and consumed with fiery darts the three cities.

Now this account evidently indicates a period when the religious
system of the Brahmans was superseded by another, which Gritsamada
partly learned from sages of a different persuasion after he had been
expelled from the society of the Brahmans, and which he taught to
Tripurasura, who thereby gained the supremacy over heaven and earth,
and thrust down from heaven all the Brahmanical deities. This
system consisted of spiritual and mystical contemplation of the
Supreme Being, which, with other features, corresponds so well with
the main characteristics of Buddhism that we seem here to have an
allegory of the ascendancy of that faith and its overthrow by the
revival of the worship of Siva.^

It has been noticed here on account of its apparent localisation in
certain parts of Mysore, and Gritsamada in one account is said to be of
Haihaya descent. Thus Rukmanga, it will be seen from the account
of the Kadur District, is claimed to have been the king of Sakkare-
patna. The yagache, or in Sanskrit badari, is the name of the neigh-
bouring stream, which flows from the Baba Budan mountains past
Belur to the Hemavati, and which is so-called from its source at the
jujube-tree, into which form Gritsamada doomed his mother to pass.
Tripura and Tripurasura we have more than once had occasion to refer
to. From the drops of sweat which fell from Siva after his contest
with Tripurasura are fabled to have sprung the Kadamba line of
kings. And the introduction of Brahmans into the north-west of

> /. R. A. S., VIII.


INIysore by Mayuravarma of that line was no doubt one of the earliest
results of a declension of Buddhist influence.

The Buddhist writer Tardnatha, the Jaina writer Brahmanemidatta,
and the Brahmanical writer Madhavacharya are all agreed in dating the
final decline of Buddhism from the time when the illustrious authors
Kumarila Bhatta, Akalanka-deva, and S'ankaracharya appeared in
Southern India,' that is, the eighth century. The first was celebrated
as a great teacher of the Mimamsa philosophy (the Purva Mimamsa)
and a dreaded antagonist of both Jainas and Bauddhas. He
strenuously asserted the pretensions of the Brahmans, affirming that, as
Kshatriyas and Vais'yas, the Jainas and Bauddhas were by nature
incapable of the highest spiritual discernment, which was inherent in
the Brahmans alone. Akalanka was the Jaina already referred to
above (p. 465),

S ankardchdrya was a great religious reformer, and teacher of the
\'edanta philosophy (the Uttara Mimamsa). He was a prime agent in
bringing about the establishment of Siva worship, and was the founder
of the Smarta sect.

He was born in 737 A.D., and is most generally acknowledged to liave
been a Brahman of Cranganore in Malabar, though his actual birthplace
was in the north of Travancore. He was consecrated as a sannydsi at the age
of eight years by Govinda yogi, and his life was spent in controversy with
the professors of various religious sects, whom he successfully refuted, as
recorded in the Sankara Vijaya and several other similar extant v/orks. In
the course of his wanderings he visited the greater part of India, and
eventually went as far as mount Kaiklsa. He set up a linga at Keddra and
returned by way of Ayodhya, Gaya and Jaganndth to S'ris'aila, where he
encountered Bhattdchdrya (that is, Kumdrila), who had, it is said,
ground the Bauddhas and Jainas in oil-mills. The latter declined to argue,
but referred him to Mandana-misra, married to his younger sister, who
was an incarnation of Sarasvati. Thither Sankardchdri repaired, and
though successful in defeating the husband, was overcome. in an argument
on sensual pleasures with the wife, who proved more tlian equal to iiim in
discussions of this nature. He thereupon went to Amritapura, and
animated the dead body of its prince, named Amaru, in whose form he
gained familiarity with the subject by practice in the gratification of the pas-
sions, and then returning was victorious over her. The throne of Sarasvati
on which he then sat is still shown in Kashmir. Consecrating Mandana-
misra as a sannydsi under the name of Suresvardchdrya, he bound
Sarasvati or S'drad-amma- with spells and conveyed her to Sringa-giri

' Pailiak,/. Bo. Ih: R. A. A'., XVIII, 23S.

- Kasliniir is sonicliines called Sarad;i-dcs;i, and its ancient manuscripts arc
written in Saracla characters. — Iitd. Ant., V, 2S.

H H *


(Siin^eii), wlicic he established her ihronc. 'I'lierc he remained, and ended
Iiis days twelve years afterwards, at the aj,^e, it is said, of thirty-two.'

Hut his influL'ncc was i)cr|)etuatcd in his writings. He is the most
celebrated of all commentators, and his works arc almost countless,
including commentaries on the Upanishads, ^^cdanta siitras and
Bhagavad Ciita. 'J'he sect of Vedantists founded by him has always
held the highest reputation for learning, and is distinguished for the
cultivation of the study of Sanskrit and especially of the vedic
literature. It is also the most unsectarian, admitting in fact all other
objects of worship as but manifestations of Siva or Mahddcva, the
Great Clod.

The Vedantist system advocated by S'ankara is pantheistic, and
based on the doctrine of advaita or non-dualism, which means that
the universe is not distinct from the Supreme Soul. The leading
tenet of the sect is the recognition of Brahma Para Brahma as the
only really existing Being, the sole cause and supreme ruler of the
universe, and as distinct from Siva, Vishnu, Brahma, or any individual
member of the pantheon : to know Him is the supreme good. The
attainment of complete wisdom results in vmkti or liberation, and
re-union with the divine essence. But as the mind of man cannot
elevate itself to the contemplation of the inscrutable First Cause and
Only Soul, he may be contemplated through inferior deities and sought
through the prescribed rites and exercises. This creed thus tolerates
all the Hindu deities, and the worship of the following was, by
Sankarachari's express permission, taught by some of his disciples : —
that of Siva, Vishnu, Krishna, Siirya, Sakti, Ganes'a and Bhairava.

" Individual souls emanating from the supreme one are likened to
innumerable sparks issuing from a blazing fire. From him they pro-
ceed, and to him they return, being of the same essence. The soul
which governs the body together With its organs, neither is born nor
does it die. It is a portion of the divine substance, and as such
infinite, immortal, intelligent, sentient, true. It is governed by the
supreme. Its activity is not of its essence, but inductive through its
organs : as an artisan taking his tools labours and undergoes toil and
pain, but laying them aside reposes, so is the soul active and a sufferer
by means of its organs, but divested of them and returning to the
supreme one is at rest and is happy. It is not a free and independent

' Wilson makes him die at Kedarniith in the Ilimalajas (His. I, 200). But il
will be seen that he apparently died at Sringeri. The succession of gurus at Sringeri
is traced from him directly, and a small temple is there shown as the place where he
disappeared from life. It contains a statue of liim, seated after the manner of
Buddhist and Jain images.


ngent, but made to act by the supreme one, who Callses it to do in one
state as it had purposed in a former condition. According to its
predisposition for good or evil, for enjoined or forbidden deeds, it is
made to do good or ill, and thus has its retribution for previous works."
The Sringeri swami or head of the niatha or monastery at Sringeri,
the principal one established by Sankaracharya, is styled the Jagat
(juru, or Jagad-Guru, the priest of the world, and is possessed of
extensive authority and influence. The matha is situated on the left
I)ank of the Tunga, in the centre of a fertile tract, with which it was
endowed al)out 400 years ago by the Vijayanagar kings. The estate
yields a revenue of Rs. 50,000 a year, and a further sum of Rs. 10,000
a year is received from the Mysore State. But the expenses connected
with the feeding of ]>rahmans, and the distribution of food and
clothing on festival days to all comers of both sexes, exceed the
income, and the (luru is constantly engaged in long and protracted
tours through various parts for the purpose of receiving contributions
from his disciples. He wears a tiara like the Pope's, covered with
pearls and jewels, said to have been given to him by the Peshwa of
Poona, and a handsome necklace of pearls. His sandals are covered
with silver. He is an ascetic and a celibate, and in diet very
abstemious. He is borne along in an aMa pdlld or palanquin carried
crossways, which prevents anything else passing. He is attended by
an ele])hant and escort, and accompanied by a numerous body of
Prahmans and disciples.

'I'he following is the succession of Sringeri gurus, obtained from the
matha : —

Coiisaratcd. Die J.

Sankaracharya (liorn a.d. 737) 745 7^9

Surcsvarachdrya ... ... ... ... ... 753 773'

Nityal)0(lhaj;hanach;irya ... ... ... — 75^ ^4^

Jnanaglianacharya ... ... ... ... ... S46 9'0

Jnanoltania.sivacharya... ... ... ... ... 905 953

Jnanayiri acliarya ... ... ... ... ... 949 lojS

Simliaj^irLsvaracharya ... ... ... ... ... 1036 109S

Isvaralirthacharya 1 097 1 146

Narasimha muni or nu'irti ... ... ... ... II45 I22b

• This (laic is plainly given in tin.- annals, iiccording to the Sali\aliana .saka. Hul
the prccechng dales arc absurdly referred lo ihc ^■il

Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 56 of 98)