E. (Elizabeth) Prentiss.

The Masculine cross, or, A history of ancient and modern crosses, and their connection with the mysteries of sex worship : also an account of the kindred phases of phallic faiths and practices online

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Online LibraryE. (Elizabeth) PrentissThe Masculine cross, or, A history of ancient and modern crosses, and their connection with the mysteries of sex worship : also an account of the kindred phases of phallic faiths and practices → online text (page 10 of 11)
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114 Masculine Cross.

sacred prostitution was the same in all countries ; in India, for
example, it appears to have had very much to do with the desire
for children which we have described as common with the
easterns ; so common was it that the one object of woman's life
was marriage and a family. This, and the more rapid develop-
ment of the female in that part of the world than in others, and
the impression that dying childless she would fail to fulfil her
mission lies at the basis of the early betrothals and marriages
which appear so repulsive and absurd to European ideas. There
is a further desire, however, than that of simply having children,
especially in India; the desire is for male children, and where
these fail, it is common for a man to adopt a son, and in this his
motive is a religious one. According to prevalent superstition, it
is held that the future beatitude of the Hindu depends upon the
performance of his obsequies, and payment of his debts, by a son,
as a means of redeeming him from an instant state of suffering
after death. The dread is of a place called Put, a place of
horror, to which the manes of the childless are supposed to be
doomed ; there to be tormented with hunger and thirst, for want
of those oblations of food, and libations of water, at prescribed
periods, which it is the pious and indispensable duty of a son to

The " Laws of Manu " (Ch. ix., 138), state :— " A son delivers
his father from the hell called Put, he was therefore called puttra
(a deliverer from Put) by the Self-existent (Svayambhu) himself."
The sage Mandagola is represented as desiring admission to a
region of bliss, but repulsed by the guards who watch the abode
of progenitors, because he had no male issue. The " Laws of
Manu " illustrate this by the special mention of heaven being
attained without it as of something extraordinary. Ch. v., 159,
" Many thousands of Brahmanas, who were chaste from their
youth, have gone to heaven without continuing their race."'

Masculine Cross. 115

Sir Thomas Strange, many years ago Chief Justice of Madras,
wrote very fully concerning the Hindu law of inheritance and
adoption, and we learn from this great authority that marriage
failing in this, its most important object (that is to say securing
male issue), in order that obsequies in particular might not go
unperformed, and celestial bliss be thereby forfeited, as well for
ancestors as for the deceased, dying without leaving legitimate
issue begotten, the old law was provident to excess, whence the
different sorts of sons enumerated by different authorities, all
resolving themselves, with Manu, into twelve, that is the legally
begotten, and therefore not to be separately accounted: — all
formerly, in their turn and order, capable of succession, for the
double purpose of obsequies, and of inheritance. Failing a son,
a Hindu's obsequies may be performed by his widow ; or in
default of her, by a whole brother or other heirs ; but according
to the conception belonging to the subject, not with the same
benefit as by a son. That a son, therefore, of some description is,
with him, in a spiritual sense, next to indispensable is abundantly
certain. As for obtaining one in a natural way, there is an
express ceremony that takes place at the expiration of the third
month of pregnancy, marking distinctly the importance of a son
born, so is the adopting of one as anxiously inculcated where
prayers and ceremonies for the desired issue have failed in their

The extreme importance to the Hindu of having male offspring,
and the desire to get such children as the result of marriage rather
than by adoption — a practice allowed and inculcated as a last
resort, has led to that extensive prevalence of Lingam worship
which is such a conspicuous feature in India. In nearly every
part of that vast empire are to be seen reproductions of the
emblem in an infinite variety of form, and so totally free from the
most remotely indecent character are they, that strangers are as a

ii6 Masculine Cross.

rule totally ignorant of their meaning. We have even known,
within the last few years, specimens of the smaller emblems being
put up for sale in this country, of whose meaning the auctioneer
professes himself for the most part ignorant, volunteering no other
statement than that they were charms in some way connected
with Hindu customs and worship.

It is — being a representation of the male organ — represented,
of course, in a conical form, and is of every size, from half-an-
inch to seventy feet, and of all materials, such as stone, wood,
clay, metal, &c. Lingas are seen of enormous size ; in the caves
of Elephanta for instance, marking unequivocally that the symbol
in question is at any rate as ancient as the temple, as they are of
the same rock as the temple itself ; both, as well as the floor, roof,
pillars, pilastres, and its numerous sculptured figures, having
been once one undistinguished mass of granite, which excavated,
chiselled, and polished, produced the cavern and forms that are
still contemplated with so much surprise and admiration. The
magnitude of the cones, too, further i)reclude the idea of subse-
quent introduction, and together with gigantic statues of Siva and
his consort, more frequent and more colossal than those of any
other deity, necessarily coeval with the excavation, indicate his
paramount adoration and the antiquity of his sect, Lingas are
seen also of diminutive size for domestic adoration, or for personal
use ; some individuals always carrying one al)0ut with them, and
in some Brahman families, one is daily constructed in clay, placed
after due sanctification by appropriate ceremonies and prayers,
in the domestic shrine, or under a tree or shrub sacred to Siva,
the Bilva more especially, and honoured by the adoration of the
females of the household.

It is rather singular that while many Hindus worship the deity
of male and female in one, there are distinct sects which worship
either the Lingam or the Yoni : the first being apparently the

Masculine Cross. 117

same as the phallic emblem of the Greeks, the mcmhrtim virile :
and the latter pudendum rnuliehrc.

The interesting ceremony connected with the obsequies which
we have just said can be the most effectually performed by a
male child, and which gives rise to the intense longing both on
the part of husband and wife for such offspring, is called Sradha,
and is of daily recurrence with individuals who rigidly adhere to
the ritual. It is offered in honour of deceased ancestors, but not
merely in honour of them, but for their comfort ; as the Manes,
as well as the gods connected with them, enjoy, like the gods of
the Greeks, the incense of such offerings, which are also of an
expiatory nature, similar, it is said, to the masses of the Church
of Rome. Over these ceremonies of Sradhi presides Yama, in
his character of Sradhadeva, or lord of the obsequies. It is not
within our province to give a detailed account of these cere-
monies, but owing to their connection with the subject generally
of our book, a brief outline will no doubt prove interesting.

A dying man, when no hopes of his surviving remain, should
be laid upon a bed of cusa grass, either in the house or out of it,
if he be a Sudra, but in the open air, if he belong to another
tribe. When he is at the point of death, donations of cattle,
land, gold, silver, or other things, according to his ability, should
be made by him ; or if he be too weak, by another person in his
name. His head should be sprinkled with water drawn from the
Ganges, and smeared with clay brought from the same river. A
Salagrama stone ought to be placed near the dying man ; holy
strains from the Veda or from the sacred poems should be re-
peated aloud in his ears ; and leaves of holy basil must be
scattered over his head.

Passing over the ceremonial more especially connected with
the burning of the corpse as not particularly relative to our
subject, we proceed. After the body has been burnt, all who have

ii8 Masculine Cross.

touched or followed the corpse, must walk round the pile keeping
their left hands towards it, and taking care not to look at the fire.
They then walk in procession, according to seniority, to a river or
other running water, and after washing, and again putting on
their apparel, they advance into the stream. They then ask the
deceased's brother-in-law, or some other person able to give the
proper answer, " Shall we present water ? " If the deceased were
a hundred years old, the answer must be simply, '' do so : " but if
he were not so aged, the reply is " do so, but do not repeat the
oblation." Upon this they all shift the sacerdotal string to the
right shoulder, and looking towards the south, and being clad in
a single garment without a mantle, they stir the water with the
ring finger of the left hand, saying, '^ waters, purify us." With
the same finger of the right hand, they throw up some water
towards the south, and after plunging once under the surface of
the river, they rub themselves with their hands. An oblation of
water must be next presented from the jointed palms of the hands,
naming the deceased and the family from which he sprung, and
saying '^ may this oblation reach thee."

After finishing the usual libations of water to satisfy the manes
of the deceased, they quit the river and shift their wet clothes for
other apparel ; they then sip water without swallowing it, and
sitting down on soft turf, alleviate their sorrow by the recital of
such moral sentences as the following, refraining at the same time
from tears and lamentation : —

1. P'oolish is he, who seeks permanence in the human state,
unsolid like the stem of a plantain tree, transient like the foam
of the sea.

2. When a body, formed of fine elements to receive the
rewards of deeds done in its own former person, reverts to its
fine original principles ; what room is there for regret.

3. The earth is perishable ; the ocean, the Gods themselves

Masculine Cross. 119

pass away : how should not that bubble, mortal man, meet

4. All that is low, must finally perish ; all that is elevated,
must ultimately fall ; all compound bodies must end in dissolu-
tion ; and life is concluded with death.

5. Unwillingly do the manes of the deceased taste the tears
and rheum shed by their kinsmen : then do not wait, but diligently
perform the obsequies of the dead.

All the kinsmen of the deceased, within the sixth degree of
consanguinity, should fast for three days and nights ; or one at
the least. However if that be impracticable, they may eat a
single meal at night, purchasing the food ready prepared, but on
no account prej^aring the victuals at home. So long as the
mourning lasts, the nearest relations of the deceased must not
exceed the daily meal, nor eat flesh-meat, nor any food seasoned
with fictitious salt ; they must use a plate made of leaves of any
tree but the plantain, or else take their food from the hands of
some other persons ; they must not handle a knife or any other
implement made of iron ; nor sleep upon a bedstead ; nor adorn
their persons ; but remain squalid, and refrain from perfumes
and other gratifications : they must likewise omit the daily cere-
monies of ablution and divine worship. On the third and fifth
days, as also on the seventh and ninth, the kinsmen assemble,
bathe in the open air, offer tila and water to the deceased, and
take a repast together : they place lamps at cross roads, and in
their own houses, and likewise on the way to the cemetery ; and
they observe vigils in honour of the deceased.

On the last day of mourning, or earlier in those countries
where the obsequies are expedited on the second or third day,
the nearest kinsman of the deceased gathers his ashes after offer-
ing a sradha singly for him.

I20 Masculine Cross.

In the first place, the kinsman smears with cow-dung the spots
where the oblation is to be presented ; and after washing his
hands and feet, sipping water and taking up cusa grass in his
hand, he sits down on a cushion pointed towards the south, and
placed upon a blade of cusa grass, the tip of which must also
point towards the south. He then places near him a bundle of
cusa grass, consecrated by pronouncing the word namah ! or else
prepares a fire for oblations. Then lighting a lamp with clarified
butter or with oil of sesamum, and arranging the food and other
things intended to be offered, he must sprinkle himself with
water, meditating on Vishnu, surnamed the lotos-eyed, or re-
volving in his mind this verse, " Whether pure or defiled, or
wherever he may have gone, he, who re-enters the being whose
eyes are like the lotos, shall be pure externally and internally."
Shifting the sacerdotal cord on his right shoulder, he takes up a
brush of cusa grass and presents water together with tila and
with blossoms, naming the deceased and the family from which
he sprung, and saying " may this water for ablutions be accept-
able to thee." Then saying " may this be right," he pronounces
a vow or solemn declaration. " This day I will offer on a bundle
of cusa grass (or, if such be the custom, ' on fire ') a sradha for a
single person, with unboiled food, together with clarified butter
and with water, preparatory to the gathering of the bones of such
a one deceased." The priests answering " do so," he says " namo !
namah ! " while the priests meditate the gayatri and thrice repeat,
" Salutation to the Gods ; to the manes of ancestors, and to
mighty saints ; to Swaha [goddess of fire] : to Swadha [the food
of the manes] : salutation unto them for ever and ever."

He then presents a cushion made of cusa grass, naming the
deceased and saying *' may this be acceptable to thee ; " and after-
wards distributes meal of sesamum, while the priests recite " May
the demons and fierce giants that sit on this consecrated spot, be

Masculine Cross. 121

dispersed ; and the bloodthirsty savages that inhabit the earth ;
may they go to any other place, to which their inclinations may
lead them."

Placing an oval vessel with its narrowest end towards the
south, he takes up two blades of grass ; and breaking off a span's
length, throws them into the vessel ; and after sprinkling them
with water, makes a libation while the priests say, " May divine
waters be auspicious to us for accumulation, for gain, and for
refreshing draughts ; may they listen to us, and grant that we may
be associated with good auspices." He then throws tila while
the priests say, " Thou art tila, sacred to Soma ; framed by the
divinity, thou dost produce celestial bliss [for him, that makes
oblations] ; mixed with water may thou long satisfy our ancestors
with the food of the manes, be this oblation efficacious." He
afterwards silently casts into the vessel, perfumes, flowers, and
durva grass. Then taking up the vessel with his left hand,
putting two blades of grass on the cushion, with their tips pointed
to the north, he must pour the water from the argha thereon.
The priests meantime recite: — "The waters in heaven, in the
atmosphere, and on the earth, have been united [by their sweet-
ness] with milk ; may those silver waters, worthy of oblation, be
auspicious, salutary, and exhilarating to us; and be happily
offered : may this oblation be efficacious." He adds namah,
and pours out the water, naming the deceased and saying, " may
this argha be acceptable unto thee." Then oversetting the vessel,
and arranging in due order the unboiled rice condiments, clarified
butter, and the requisites, he scatters tila, while the priests recite
" Thrice did Vishnu step, &c." He next offers the rice, clarified
butter, water and condiments, while he touches the vessel with his
left hand, and names the deceased, saying, " may this raw food,
with clarified butter and condiments, together with water, be
acceptable unto thee." After the priests have repeated the gayatri

122 Masculine Cross.

preceded by the names of the worlds, he pours honey or sugar
upon the rice, while they recite this prayer, '' may the winds blow
sweet, the rivers flow sweet, and salutary herbs be sweet, unto us ;
may night be sweet, may the mornings pass sweetly ; may the soil
of the earth, and heaven parent [of all productions], be sweet
unto us ; may [Soma] king of herbs and trees be sweet; may the
sun be sweet, may kine be sweet unto us." He then says " namo !
namah ! " While the priests recite " whatever may be deficient in
this food ; whatever may be imperfect in this rite ; whatever may
be wanting in this form ; may all that become faultless."

He should then feed the Brahmanas, whom he has assembled,
either silently distributing food amongst them, or adding a respect-
ful invitation to them to eat. When he has given them water to
rinse their mouths, he may consider the deceased as fed through
their intervention. The jjriests again recite the gayatri and the
prayer " may the winds blow sweet, &c., and add the prescribed
prayers, which should be followed by the music of flageolets,
lutes, drums, &c.

Taking in his left hand another vessel containing tila, blossoms
and water, and in his left hand a brush made of cusa grass, he
sprinkles water over the grass spread on the consecrated spot,
naming the deceased and saying " May this ablution be accept-
able to thee :" he afterwards takes a cake or ball or food mixed
with clarified butter, and presents it saying, '' May this cake be
acceptable to thee," and deals out the food with this prayer;
'' Ancestors, rejoice ; take your respective shares, and be strong
as bulls." Then walking round by the left to the northern side
of the consecrated spot, and meditating, " Ancestors, be glad ;
take your respective shares, and be strong as bulls," he returns
by the same road, and again sprinkles water on the ground to wash
the oblation, saying, " May this ablution be acceptable to thee."

Next, touching his hip with his elbow, or else his right side,

Masculine Cross. 123

and having sipped water, he must make six Hbations of water with
the hollow palms of his hands, saying, " Salvation unto thee, O
deceased, and unto the saddening [hot] season ; salvation unto
thee, O deceased, and unto the month of tapas [or dewy season] ;
salvation unto thee, O deceased, and unto that [season] which
abounds with water ; salvation unto thee, O deceased, and to the
nectar [of blossoms] ; salvation unto thee, O deceased, and to the
terrible and angry [season] ; salvation unto thee, O deceased, and
to female fire [or the sultry season]."

He next offers a thread on the funeral cake, holding the wet
brush in his hand, naming the deceased, and saying, " May this
raiment be acceptable to thee ; " the priests add, " Fathers, this
apparel is offered unto you." He then silently strews perfumes,
blossoms, resin, and betel leaves, as the funeral cake, and places
a lighted lamp on it. He sprinkles water on the bundle of grass,
saying, " May the waters be auspicious ; " and offers rice, adding,
"May the blossoms be sweet: may the rice be harmless;" and
then pours water on it, naming the deceased and saying, " May
this food and drink be acceptable unto thee." In the next place
he strews grass over the funeral cake, and sprinkles water on it,
reciting this prayer : " Waters ! ye are the food of our pro-
genitors ; satisfy my parents, ye who convey nourishment, which
is ambrosia, butter, milk, cattle, and distilled liquor." Lastly,
he smells some of the food, and poises in his hand the funeral
cakes, saying, " May this ball be wholesome food ; " and con-
cludes, paying the officiating priest his fee with a formal declara-
tion, " I do give this fee (consisting of so much money) to such a
one (a priest sprung from such a family, and who uses such a
veda and such a sacha of it), for the purpose of fully completing
the obsequies this day performed by me in honour of one person
singly, preparatory to the gathering of the bones of such a one

124 Masculine Cross.

After the priest has thrice said : " Salutation to the gods, to
jjrogenitors, to mighty saints, &c.," he dismisses him ; lights a
lamp in honour of the deceased ; meditates on Heri with undi-
verted attention ; casts the food, and other things used at the
obsequies, into the fire ; and then j^roceeds to the cemetery for
the purpose of gathering the ashes of the deceased.

So long as mourning lasts after gathering the ashes, the near
relations of the deceased continue to offer water with the same
formalities and prayers as already mentioned, and to refrain from
factitious salt, butter, &c. On the last day of mourning, the
nearest relation puts on neat apparel, and causes his house and
furniture to be cleaned ; he then goes out of the town, and after
offering the tenth funeral cake, he makes ten libations of water
from the palms of his hands ; causes the hair of his head and
body to be shaved, and his nails to be cut, and gives the barber
the clothes which were worn at the funeral of the deceased, and
adds some other remuneration. He then anoints his head and
limbs, down to his feet, with oil of sesamum ; rubs all his limbs
with meal of sesamum, and his head with the ground pods of
white mustard ; he bathes, sips water, touches and blesses various
auspicious things, such as stones, clarified butter, leaves of Ximba,
white mustard, Durva grass, coral, a cow, gold, curds, honey, a
mirror, and a couch, and also touches a bamboo staff. He now
returns purified to his home, and thus completes the first obse-
quies of the deceased.

The second series of obsequies, commencing on the day after
the period of mourning has elapsed, is opened by a lustration
termed the consolatory ceremony. The lustration consists in the
consecration of four vessels of water, and sprinkling therewith the
house, the furniture, and the persons belonging to the family.
After lighting a fire, and blessing the attendant Brahmanas, the
priest fills four vessels with water, and, putting his hand into the

Masculine Cross. 125

first, meditates the gayatri, before and after reciting the following
prayers : i. — May generous waters be auspicious to us, for gain
and for refreshing draughts ; may they approach towards us, that
we may be associated with good auspices. 2. — Earth afford us
ease ; be free from thorns ; be habitable. Widely extended as
thou art, procure us happiness. 3. — O waters ! since ye afford
delight, grant us food, and the rapturous sight [of the Supreme
Being]. 4. — Like tender mothers, make us here partakers of
your most auspicious essence.

Putting his hand into the second vessel, the priest meditates
the gayatri, and the four prayers above quoted; adding some
others, and concluding this second consecration of water by once
more meditating the gayatri.

Then taking a lump of sugar and a copper vessel in his left
hand, biting the sugar and spitting it out again, the priest sips
water. Afterwards putting his hand into the third vessel, he medi-
tates the gayatri and the four prayers above cited, interposing
this : May Indra and Varuna [the regents of the sky and of the
ocean] accept our oblations, and grant us happiness ; may Indra
and the cherishing sun grant us happiness in the distribution of
food ; may Indra and the moon grant us the happiness of attain-
ing the road to celestial bliss, and the association of good auspices.

It is customary immediately after this lustration to give away
a vessel of tila, and also a cow, for the sake of securing the pas-
sage of the deceased over the Vaitarani, or river of hell : whence
the cow, so given, is called Vaitarani-dhenu. Afterwards a bed,
with its furniture, is brought ; and the giver sits down near the
Brahmana, who has been invited to receive the present. After
saying, " Salutation to this bed with its furniture ; salutation to
this priest, to whim it is given," he pays due honour to the Brah-
mana in the usual form of hospitality. He then pours water
into his hand, saying, "I give thee this bed with its furniture;"

126 Masculine Cross.

the priest replies, " give it." Upon this he sprinkles it with water ;
and taking up the c^iisa grass, tila, and water, delivers them to
the priest, pouring the water into his hand, with a formal declar-
ation of the gift and its puri)ose ; and again delivers a bit of gold
with cusa grass, &c., making a similar formal declaration, i. —
This day, I, being desirous of obtaining celestial bliss for such a
one defunct, do give unto thee, such a one, a Brahmana de-
scended from such a family, to whom due honour has been

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Online LibraryE. (Elizabeth) PrentissThe Masculine cross, or, A history of ancient and modern crosses, and their connection with the mysteries of sex worship : also an account of the kindred phases of phallic faiths and practices → online text (page 10 of 11)