THE BRAHMANS, THEISTS, AND MUSLIMS OF INDIA

BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

THE MYSTICS, ASCETICS,

AND

SAINTS OF INDIA

Fully Illustrated. Cheaper Edition. Demy 8vo, cloth, 7s. 6d. net.

‘‘A work of the first importance. . . . In the work of analysis and description Mr. Campbell Oman has no superior in authority, at least as far as the races of the Punjab are concerned.""—Daily Chronicle.

‘(A volume of peculiar, almost painful interest.’ —-Odserver,

‘The able and learned monograph before us will certainly add to his reputation.""—G/asgow Herald.

‘A most uncommon and fascinating book.”—Sirmingham Daily Post,

“A book of genuine value.'"— 7s mes.

The fullest study of Indian asceticism from the most modern and recent aspect which has appeared. ""—Academy.

‘A monumental work."—Civsl and Military Gasette.

Lonpon: T. FISHER UNWIN.

a ee ee ee

apt : 4 3 2) a) A, ? Tih be site ys a i 4 Syma é

A al ty ¢ A

> hoot

BRAHMAN AT PRAY AR

THE BRAHMANS, THEISTS AND MUSLIMS OF INDIA

Studies of Geddess-worship in Bengal, Caste, Brahmaism and Social Reform, with descripuve Sketches of curious

Festivals, Ceremontes, and Faquirs

JOHN CAMPBELL OMAN

FORMERLY PROFESSOR OF NATURAT SCIENCE IN THE GOVERNMENT COLLEGE, LAHORE

AUTHOR OF “THE MYSTICS, ASCETICS, AND SAINTS OF INDIA’ “INDIAN LIFE, RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL” “THE GREAT INDIAN FICS” “WHERE THREE CRELUS MEET” Lic. EIG

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROAL PHOTOGRAPHS AND FROM DRAWINGS BY WILLIAM CAMPBELL OMAN, A.RALBA,

SECOND EDITION

LONDON

T. FISHER UNWIN ADELPHI TERRACE

All Rights Neserved

My object in writing this book being to interpret, however imperfectly, the present-day Indians to the English public, I have done my best to bring my readers into actual touch, as it were, with contemporary India at various points, using my somewhat exceptional personal experiences, as much as possible, in illustrating and elucidating the subjects dealt with, which, although by no means esoteric, have yet to be sought for, and do not, in ordinary course, come within the ken of Europeans in India whether official or non-official. Following the plan adopted in my previous books, I have included in this volume such legends and stories as seemed to me to throw light upon the habits or the mental peculiarities of the Indian people.

The figures recorded in the recently published Report on the Census of the Empire show that more than a half of the entire number of men and women under British rule follow the Hindu religion; that Islam claims another quarter of the inhabitants of the Empire, and that the remainder is made up of Christians (including those of the United King- dom, Ireland, the Colonies, and India), and of Buddhists, Jains, Jews, etc.

Very striking and significant figures indeed are these, and may well awaken many trains of thought and speculation.

PREFACE

Confining our attention to India (with Burmah), we find that when the last census was taken (1901) there were in those vast territories less than three millions of Christians (Europeans and Natives all told) against two hundred and seven millions of Hindus, and over sixty-two millions of Muhammadans, each of these divisions being composed of a great variety of races and nationalities speaking diverse tongues.

The Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Animists, etc., inhabiting India and Burmah made up a further total of about twenty- two millions,

These notable statistics are enough to make it clear that out of the vast and profound ocean of Indian social and religious life, it was only possible for me to take just a few examples of what may be gathered in that obscure yet seductive region of investigation.

Hinduism, with its enormous and varied following, its heterogeneous structure and its fascinating remoteness from European feeling and sentiment, afforded the largest choice of subjects and occupies the major portion of this volume. But Jslam, which, as regards numbers, ranks next amongst the religions of India, has also a place in the book; being represented—no doubt very inadequately—by two papers (“ Muharram” and Faquirs”) intended to bring into view some of the more salient features of that great Semitic cult so nearly allied to Judaism.

In describing and commenting upon such examples of Indian beliefs and practices as I have selected to lay before my readers, my own limitations have been ever present to my mind, yet I claim that my constant endeavour has been towards accuracy of statement and fairness of interpretation.

To my son, Mr. W. Campbell Oman, I am indebted for the illustrations which appear in this volume; also for reading the entire MS. of the book very carefully, and help- ing me with many suggestions.

J.C. 0. Muswe.i_ Hitt, Lonpox, N.

CONTENTS PREFACE : ; é : , ; ° v

PART I

CHAPTER I

KALI-GHAT AND HINDUISM (GODDESS-WORSHIP) IN BENGAL

Secrion I.—Tuz Kari CuLrvs—LxeEexps THE GODDESS AND TEMPLE Kali-Ghat—Architectural peculiarities—Insignificance in comparison with Western and even other Hindu temples—Sacrificial stakes— Bloody character of ritual—Human sacrifices—Unseemly scrim- mage—Forms in which Kali is represented—Worshipped as ‘‘ giver of victory "—Her legendary—Special claims to veneration of the temple of Kali-Ghat—Absence of beauty from the Kali cultus— Swinging festival—Why women are more religious than men— Interesting incidents in connection with Kali ii aces ordinate temples—Politics and the temple . 8

Secrion II].—Taz Worsuip or Dvurca

The Goddess Durga—Hindu idea of the acquisition of supernatural power by means of austerities—The Durga pujah—Its excesses . 21

SecTion II].—TuHe wWipESPREAD INFLUENCE oF DvurGA AND KALI

Three-fourths of the Hindus of Bengal worship Durga and Kali— These cults have extended beyond the limits of India proper . 2

Section IV.—Tar Saktas

Indian worship of the Female energy in Nature—Obscene rites— Position of women in Bengali society ; . 26

Section V.—Tue RELIGION oF THE EpvucaTzspd

The Higher Hinduism—Inoperative as regards the masses—Religion asacred disease : : : : . 80

CONTENTS

CHAPTER II CASTE IN INDIA

Secrion I.—THE MORE OBVIOUS FEATURES OF THE PRESENT-

pay CastE SysTEM F : PAGE Hindus divided into castes— Numerous main tribes and castes—

Examples of Hindu exclusiveness— Contamination may result from the mere touch of a European Hereditary character of handicrafts and occupations Commensalism, its rules and difficulties—Disregard by certain persons of the prescribed rules about eating with other than caste-mates—Origin of the Pirali Brahmans of Bengal—Nuptial laws and their application Panchayats and their uses—Exclusion from caste—Ceremony of expulsion—Nature of the eames of Benet oe nee to the privileges of caste : : . . 84

Secrion JI.—Tur ORIGIN oF THE CasTE SYSTEM AS EXPLAINED BY THE PANDITS

The four varnas or castes and their duties—Myth of the origin of the castes— Arrogance of the Brahmans and their extravagant pre- tensions—Privileges enjoyed by the Brahmans under Hindu law— Conflict between Brahmans and Kshatriyas Extermination of Kshatriyas by Parasharama Orthodox view of the ane of many well-established castes . 49

Section II].—THeE Existinc Hrnpvu Caste System CONTRASTED WITH THE THEORETICAL SysTeM OF THE OLD Books

Seven Indian castes noticed by Megasthenes—Multiplicity of castes found at present time—Mr. Risley’s general statement with respect to Sudras in different parts of India—Occupational groups —The castes of to-day not necessarily identical with those of the past—Contemporary Brahmans, their peculiarities, occupations, and customs—Caste the distinctive feature of Indian life—Caste

‘and Karma—Caste among Muslims ° : . 65

Section I1VY.—Casrg ovTsIpe THE Hinpvu SysrTem, a DicressionaL STupy

Caste exists in European communities—Hereditary caste distinctions have often been fixed by law in Europe and exist in the aristo- cracies of to-day—Caste prejudices most pronounced where white and coloured races meet—United States of America and South Africa are good examples—Caste prejudices are not due to instinctive race antipathy but to desire to exploit ‘inferior races ""—Much vilification of subject races ca of the causes which engender caste distinctions i 63

vill

CONTENTS

Section V.—Aw ATTEMPT TO THROW sOME LIGHT ON GENESIS AND EVOLUTION OF THE HiINDU Caste SysTEM

PAGE The Sanskrit word for caste varna (colour) indicates that the Hindu

caste system originated in racial differences—Aryan invasions of India took place in the past—Certain class divisions were estab- lished amongst the invaders for their own security—With the advance of Aryan bands into the interior, intermarriage with aborigines though tabooed would take place and new mixed classes or castcs would arise—Ethnological facts, certain peculi- arities of Hinduism, and the exceptional position of the Brahmans throw light on the subject—The origination of new castes takes place even now—Caste system owes its vitality to the influence of the Brahmans, whose ascendancy depends upon it : ~ 7

SEcTION VI.—CASTE CONSIDERED WITH RESPECT TO ITS PoLITICAL AND EcoNoMIc ASPECTS AND IT&8 PROBABLE FUTURE

Orientals not necessarily more burdened by rules of social intercourse than Westerns are— Attitude of British Government towards caste Official disregard of caste prejudices has often led to serious trouble—Caste as a political force—Caste from the industrial point of view—From the ethical standpoint—Caste, a bulwark of Hinduism, is being undermined by commercialism and Mammon-worship Railways, hospitals, and other institutions inimical to caste Effects of English education— The probable future . : : : . . . - 86

CHAPTER III THEISM IN BENGAL—A STUDY IN RBRAHMAISM

Srcrion I.—Ram Monty Roy, Tre Benoa Tuetstic RE¥FORNER—HIS Lire AND WorRK

Assailed by Islam and Christianity, Hinduism has developed diverse sects—Not the least interesting is the Brahma Samaj founded by Ram Mohun Roy—Early days of R. M. Roy—Settles in Calcutta (1814), and occupies himself with religious controversies and social reforms—Hindu College established in 1817—Mr. Derozio’s pro- fessorahip (1828-31) and teaching—A great convulsion produced in Bengali society —Dr. Duff makes some converts to Christianity —Ram Mohun Roy founds the Brahma Samaj (1830)—Proceeds to England as envoy of Mogul Emperor—His reception in Pees Dies there (1838)— His character and work : . 99

ix

CONTENTS

Srorion IJ.—DERENDRA NATH TAGORE AND THE ADI BRABMA SamasJ—THE First ScHisM LED BY KEsHUB CHUNDER SEN

Ram Mohun Roy dies in debt and the Samaj becomes al] but extinct— In 1841 Debendra Nath Tagore takes the Samaj in hand —Insti- tutes new rules for its management Abandons the Vedas as inconsistent with the religious convictions of the Brahmas—The sect now falls back upon intuition and reason Rules for the conduct of ceremonies—A new progressive party arises under the leadership of Keshub Chunder Sen—Rupture between Progressives and Conservatives— Two distinct societies are formed, the Adi Brahma Samaj and the Brahma Samaj of ee ne of Adi Brahma Samaj till Debendra Nath’s death ,

Secrion III. —Earty Trovsues or rHe ‘‘BranmMa SAMAJ oF Inpia "—ACT PASSED BY GOVERNMENT TO LEGALISE BRAHMA MARRIAGES

The catholicity of the Brahma Samaj of India indicated by the use of the Scriptures of all the principal religions—Keshnb visits Simla on business Marriages performed according to the rites of the sect considered invalid—Act passed by the Legislature in 1872 to remove difficulty— Effect of such legislation on Hinduism

Section IV.—Krsnusp CHUNDER SEN WORSHIPPED RY SOME FoLLOWERS His VIEWS IN RESPECT TO HIS OWN Mission Vistr TO ENGLAND—RESULT

Worship of Keshub Chunder by certain members of the Samaj—Public protest by two missionaries of the sect—Keshub’s views of his own mission to the world as explained in his public utterances (1866-69) His hoped-for synthesis of all religions Keshub visits England 1870, and receives a most flattering reception— The effect produced upon his mind— His farewell speech at Southampton contrasting the East and the West Effect of Keshub’s English experiences on his character and actions °

Section V.— Kesuus Cnunper Sey’s PrRockEDINGS WHICH LEAD To A NEW SCHISN AND THE Founpino or THE ‘‘SADHARAN BrauMa Samaz”

Keshub establishes various institutions, schools, etc. Opposes the removal of the purdah during divine sorvico— His attitude towards the sex—Doctrine of adesh or special inspiration—Keashub establishes an order of devotees (1876)—Practises Yoga anid nezlects practical affairs—THlis autocratic methods provoke opposi- tion Marriage of his danghtcr at a premature age and with Hindu rites leads (May 1878) to another schism and the forma. tion of the Sadharan Bralima Samaj : . ; ;

PAGB

110

117

122

129

CONTENTS

SrecTion VI.—KEsHUB BELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE A PropuEer— PROCLAIMS THE NEw DisrpENSATION—ITS AIMS AND OBJECTS—

KEsuvuB’s DEATH AND 8UBSEQUENT HISTORY OF THE SEcT PAGE

Keshub believes himself to be a prophet—His views with respect to Christ and Christianity —Declares for Pantheism—Recognises in the Supreme Being the Mother of Mankind—Flag processions in honour of the Divine Mother—Proclaims the New Dispensation— Countenances Hindu idolatry—Flag of the New Dispensation— Pilgrimage to an imaginary Jordan—Communion with departed saints and prophets Celebrates the Eucharist with rice and milk—The object and aim of the New Dispensation—Theatrical exposition of the new cult—‘‘ Asia’s Message to Enrope ’—Keshub maintains the truth of all established religions —Idea quite consistent with Hindu sentiment, but alien to the ideas of Jew, Christian, and Muslim—Keshub’s death—Estimate of his character and work—Later history of the Church of the New Dispensation. 134

SecTIon VII.—SumMARY AND CONCLUSION

Recapitulation—Results of seventy-five years of theistic agitation— How far are the conditions prevailing in India favourable to the establishment of a new religion —The chances of a stable and enduring cult growing up in connection with Maharshi Debendra Nath—Brahmaism in its social aspect—The great reaction in favour of Hinduism—Relations of Christianity and Brahmaism—

The ascendancy of English and American Unitarians will be fatal to Brahmaism , . ° ~ 151

CHAPTER IV HINDU SOCIAL REFORMERS

INTRODUCTION FORCES TENDING TO BRING ABOUT CHANGES IN Hinpvu Socrau Lire , : ; . . . 158

SEcTION J—REFORMERS IN COUNCIL

Many forces in operation tending to intreduce changes in Hindu social life—Reformers of various types—Much shallow criticism of Hindu customs indulged in by outsiders—Although assailed from many quarters the fabric of Hindu society will probably long resist such attacks—Yet important modifications are inevitable . 163

Section IJ.---A Typrcan RrrorMrR—A Ycar LECTURER ON “How To MAKE A DEAD MAN ALIVE”

Description of the Yogi lecturer—His lecture and its peculiarities— His quaint and instructive parables Temperance societies to be found throughout India and follow the ordinary methods of combating drink—A case of worshipping the spirit bottle—The temperance crusade helps to bring Hindus, Muslims, and Chris- tians together : : : : : . 167

CONTENTS

Secrion III.—RerornM or MARRIAGE Customs THE SPECIAL

AIM OF CERTAIN REFORMERS PAGE

Under Hinduism parents are bound to find husbands for their daughters The lot of the Hindu widow not enviable A Parese journalist as a reformer of Hindu domestic life His intervention produces a long and bitter controversy—The case of the girl-wife Rukhmabai—Summary of the principal facts relating to infant marriage and enforced widowhood : ° » 175

Secrion IV.—INFANT MARRIAGE

Infant marriage an ancient institution—Support given to the custom by Hindu codes Present-day reformers’ interpretations of old texts—Physiological bearings of the matter—Infant marriage in India quite a different thing from what infant marriage would be if practised in Europe Early marriages in Europe during the Middle Ages—Summary of the causes which originated and have encouraged the custom in India—Evils of the custom—Racial deterioration—The custom ensures a husband to every girl - 181

Secrion V.—EwNrorcep Wipownhoop

Sati, the burning of a widow with her husband’s corpse, a very old institution in India—An alternative of humiliation and discom- fort offered from early times—Sati made a penal offence hy British Indian law, but still occasionally carried out Some recent cases— Widow marriage sanctioned by law—Calamity of widowhood usually borne as a decree of Fate—Some mitigating circumstances Widows sometimes driven to immoral courses and infanticide—A ‘‘cold Sati” described—Origin of Sati— Promotion of widow marriage Permitted in certain castes— Present situation . ; ; ; j ; . 19)

Secrion VI.—TempLe Women

The marrying of young girls to Hindu gods pecen te prostitution in India explained . ; ; , . 200

Sxzcriox VII.—Tue Otp anp THE New Woman

Life behind the purdah—Female education— Women advocates of women’s rights Pandita Rama Bai Suggestion that Hindu widows should be specially trained an zenana teachera—Attitude of Indian men towards female education—Immodest bathing— Immoral songs at weddings— Women's drees—The new woman -—-

The future . . : . ; . 203 xii

CONTENTS

SrcTion VII].—Soo1aL INTERCOURSE BETWEEN EUROPEANS AND NATIVES

All concessions towards this end will have to be made by natives— Occasional meetings of Europeans and natives at garden-parties, etc. —Indian ladies absent from such gatherings Intercourse between Europeans and natives in connection with State and commercial business, shikar, sport, and freemasonry—Occasional visits of English ladies to zenanas—No real desire for each other’s companionship Officials wisely stand-offish Free social inter- course a very far-off possibility . :

PART II

CHAPTER I THE HOLI FESTIVAL IN UPPER INDIA

Secrion I.—Procression—OBsScENE EXHIBITIONS—RITES AND PRracTICcCES—LEGENDS A great procession through the streets—Ribald songs and obscene exhibitions—Gods in the train—All classes of Hindus witness the show with apparent appreciation—Underlying causes—When will

it all cease }—Rites and practices connected with peas aaa explanations . ;

Section I].—TuHr HoLa oF THE SIKHS (A.D. 1894) A new departure—The presumption of some women reproved .

Secrion I]I].—Pawitra Hout

A pure Holi introduced recently by some Indian reformers, backed by Christian missionaries .

CHAPTER II A LUNAR ECLIPSE IN INDIA

Scene at the Pool of Immortality—Hindu legend of the cause of eclipses—Almagiving—Progress of obscuration—Legends of the pool— Dawn :

CHAPTER III ASHES TO ASHES

Hinpu FuNeraut Rives aNp THEIR UNDERLYING SENTIMENTS The cremation ground—How a Hindu should die—A funeral proces- sion— Explanations of certain beiiefs about pindas—Ceremonies at the gate—Wailings—Erection of the pyre—The last farewell— Cremation of the corpse—Post-funeral ceremonies and the beliefs underlying them—Cremation and interment contrasted

xu

PAGE

228

241

252

256

258

264

CONTENTS

PART III CHAPTER I THE MUHARRAM IN INDIA

Srcrion I.—THE Historica Basis OF THE GREAT

CELEBRATION PAGE Why the Muharram deserves attention—The triumphs of Islam—

Principal sects, Shiahs and Sunnis—Indian Muslins—Muharram, a Shiah celebration—Historical events on which the Muharram is based, including the slaughter of Imam Husain and his followers at Karbala—The Shiah religious and se ici el of this tragic event . ; : ; . 279

Srecrion II.—THer Passion PLay oF HASAN AND HUSAIN

Its scope, object, and peculiarities : : : . 290

Secrion II].—Oprn-arnk CEREMONIES

Bonfires Marriage processions Tabuts or Tazias—The Duldul— Karbala. ; ; : . : . 296

Sgcrion 1V.—A TALE oF MuUHARRAM RIVALRIES , F » 807

CHAPTER II FAQUIRS

LeGENDs AND Srorifzs oF Mcsiurm Saints AND RELIGIOUS DEVOTEES LUTH ANCIENT AND MODERN

Introduction—A legend of Baba Farid—Baba Jungu Shah, a Punjab saint—The Khazanah-Wallah Faquir—Adventures of a pseudo- faquir—Influence of faquira in secular affairs—A Syad’s fire-bath —The faquir of Manasbal—The name of God ; : - $ii

INpEx , é - : é , ; . 3833

xiv

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

BRAHMAN AT PRAYER. : : : For THE GopprEss KAL! . , : ; ;

BATHING IN THE RIVER AT KaAtlI-GHaT ; ;

BRABRMAN AT PRAYER ; , ; THE BranMo MANDIR . , d ; ; KrsnhusB CHUNDER Sen . . : 4 Tue Pusric-HovsE ; ; ; ;

THe New Sryvte—‘‘Mr. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN” THE SHAMEFUL RESULTS OF INTEMPERANCE .

Tue Hort Procession IN LAHORE ; : ; GOLDEN TEMPLE AND SacrED TaNK, AMRITSAR ;

BATHERS IN THE RIVER RAVI DURING AN ECLIPSE OF THE SUN

BURNING GHAT, BENARES , FUNERAL PYRE REFERRED TO IN THE TEXT

Tombs IN CREMATION GROUND REFERRED TO IN TEXT A Tazia PROCESSION ? : ; ;

TRE Mosquk OF THE Great ImamMparRa, LtcKNow. . A TaZIa BELONGING To A GUILD oF BuTcners : A FaQuiIn FROM THE FRONTIER . : ;

THE Faquirk OF MANASBAL . ;

xv

Frontispiece . Page 3 Faeing ,, 6 » 5, 984 . gic’ oe Facing ,, 184

» 158

Facing ,, 160 = » 172

« gy 241

» 258

Facing ,, 262 - 4, 264

Facing ,, . 272 ~ 3, 216 « 5 249 Facetng ,, 290

» oil Facing ,, 329

PART I

KALI-GHAT AND HINDUISM (GODDESS-WORSHIP) IN BENGAL

CASTE IN INDIA THEISM IN BENGAL (BRAHMAISM) HINDU SOCIAL REFORMERS

KALI-GHAT ano AINDOISM - BENGAL - CHAPTER I

KALI-GHAT AND

ae ee - HINDUISM IN aoe crn BENGAL | f rae Hit

SecTIon I.—Visit to the temple The Kali cultus— Bloody sacrifices— Legends of the goddess and her temple Subordi- nate temples.

\

ALCUTTA, with its showy palaces and its mean huts, its fleets of stately

ships from Europe,

and its lumbering country boats for trafhc on the

Hugh; Calcutta

with its bazaars

and marts had, for years, been well known to me.

Fort William, re-

miniscent of the

early days of

British —ascend-

ancy in Bengal,

was indelibly as- sociated in my

as ™. (f. a recollections with

7 oo = the incidents of

| “Panic Sunday FOR> THE GODDESS: KALE :

in the trying days 3

BRAHMANS, THEISTS, AND MUSLIMS OF INDIA

of ’57. The Cathedral on the spacious maidan, and other churches of the great city, were connected in my mind with many pleasant memories. Near the little mosque, sur- mounted by a dozen minarets with gilded finials, situated at the corner of the Esplanade, I had often paused to watch the devout Muslim prostrate himself in worship of Allah. But Kali-Ghat, the world-famous temple near Calcutta, | had not seen until, after years of absence from the Indian Metropolis, a brief sojourn there was turned to account in a visit to the shrine.

By the tramway was for me the most convenient way to Kali-Ghat. <A ride of over three miles with a number of perspiring and somnolent Bengali companions brought me to the limit of the tramway line, where I alighted in a crowded suburb of thatched cottages embosomed in the exuberant foliage of Lower Bengal, made up of graceful palm trees, broad-leaved plantains, slender bamboos, and close-foliaged tamarinds. By tropical sunlight such greenery affords pictures of rare beauty, and after dark is often simply gorgeous with the living lamps of myriads of fire- flies, fluttering hither and thither in a sort of fairy revel.

The small huts amidst the verdure, the homes of 80 many millions of people in Bengal, have some peculi- arities which can hardly fail to attract the attention of the European observer, and may detain us a moment because of their connection with the style of the temple architecture of Bengal, and as an interesting instance of the way in which physical conditions influence national types of archi- tecture. Of these huts the more rigid portions of the roofs, the roof-frames in fact, are mude of the exceedingly strong, but very pliable, bamboo, of which an abundant supply is always available in Eastern India. To give this material sufficient strength to bear a transverse strain, it must be arched, hence the ridge pole, the hips and also the eaves of the cottages are all curved outwards. The effect of this mode of construction is, in the case of neatly thatched dwellings of modest dimensions undoubtedly pleasing; but when the style is copied in brick or stone, it is by no means agreeable, though the favour it has vained in Hindustan may be inferred from the fact that it has found

4

KALI-GHAT AND HINDUISM IN BENGAL

its way from Bengal as far west as Delhi and Lahore, and even Kashmir.!

From the tramway terminus to the temple I had to walk. My mere inquiry about the way to Kali-Ghat collected round me a crowd of men and women, who accom- panied me with evident curiosity to the shrine of their favourite and highly honoured goddess Kali-Ma (Mother Kali).

In a few minutes I found my way into a paved court- yard surrounded by a high brick wall, and stood before an unimportant-looking building, said to be three hundred years old, which was nothing but a reproduction in brickwork and lime-plaster of the huts I have just described. There were in the temple before me the same characteristic curved ridges and caves- lines already alluded to. In fact it resembled in form a rather tall Bengali hut with another much smaller one of the same kind surmounting it; this addition being designed to give a decent elevation to the structure. Such was the famous temple of Kali-Ghat which I had gone out tosee. Its interest for Hindus centres in the ill-lizhted chamber, ‘the cella, wherein the presiding divinity, housed in mysterious twilight, receives the adora- tion of ber awed votaries. No provision is made here for congregational worship, which is quite unknown and un- thought of amongst Hindus; though recently it has come into fashion with the small theistic sects called into existence by Western influences.

Close by the temple on the south side stands an open pavilion or detached portico of moderate dimensions, for the convenience of the Brahmans and for visitors to the place: and there are some small buildings for the accommodation of the temple priests and attendants. Near the pavilion, on the side farthest from the shrine, ts (he place of sacrifices, with its repulsive stakes all crimsoned with the blood of Inany victims, On the eastern side of the temple is a sacred pond known as Aundov, and at a short distance towards the west flows Tolly'’s nullah, a small tidal river connected with the Hugh. To this stream, held sacred as being one of the original channels of the Ganges, there is a

1Dr. Fergusson, History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, p. 548. 5

BRAHMANS, THEISTS, AND MUSLIMS OF INDIA

direct road, between rows of little shops, leading from the temple gate to the bathing ghat on the river.

An interesting and highly characteristic feature of Kali’s temple is the number of shrines of other deities clustered about it,in architectural subordination it is true, but still challenging recognition, adoration, and offerings. To this point I shall revert later.

Observing with critical eyes Kali’s famous temple, which enjoys an immense reputation in India, I could not help asking myself how far one could reasonably draw inferences regarding the spirituality, the piety, the liberality, and largeness of conception of peoples and nations from the dimensions, arrangements, and architectural styles of their temples. A comparison of the Mandir of Kali-Ma near Calcutta with the shapely Parthenon adorned with the highest efforts of Greek plastic art, or the noble Pantheon of pagan Rome with its majestic dome ever open to the sky, or the stately mediaeval cathedral with “its long drawn aisles and fretted vaults,” or the grand Musjids of the Muslims with their graceful minarets, would no doubt sadly discredit Bengali ideals and artistic conceptions. Nor would Kali-Ghat bear comparison with Hindu temples elsewhere in India, and especially those impressive monu- ments characteristic of the Southern Peninsula. Yet religion, the whole-hearted desire to reach towards God and live in the divine presence, is not necessarily associated with the stately products of artistic genius which have been rendered possible only through the lavish munificence of opulent States or rich individuals. Possibly the reverse might be true, and superb ecclesiastical edifices be characteristic more of cultured wealth than of earnest religion, Any way physical conditions and environinents are very dominant factors in such cases, for, all thins considered, it is hardly conceivable that a York Minster or a St. Mark's conld he raised by men born and nurtured generation after yeneration on the low alluvial plains and amidst the rank vegetation of moist and enervating Bengal. Moreover, the absence of stone in the Gangetic delta is nndoubte idly a very real drawback to the development of a stately and imposing style of architecture, though what can be done without stone is

6

KALI-GHAT AND HINDUISM IN BENGAL

apparent in many European cities, the Westminster Cathedral being the latest and perhaps best example. Even in India the architectural features of Calcutta developed upon European lines, and the huge, not ungraceful pucca buildings, which adorn the Muhammadan city of Lucknow show, clearly enough, the potentialities of brick construc- tion. Not Bengali architecture alone, however, owes its peculiarities to the climatic and geological conditions of the land, for the sensitive and sensual character of the people, who are not Aryans but of Mongolo-Dravidian race, also bears an unmistakable relation to the warm, damp climate and prolific soil of their country.

To return to the temple after this digression. The door of the shrine itself was not open when I arrived before it, and several officious men, cluthed merely in the usual dhoty or loin-cloth, with nothing but the sacred cotton thread of six strdnds as a garment for the person above the waist, offered to conduct me over the courtyard. They were hereditary priests, each entitled to, and eager for, his share of the profits of the establishment. There was really very little for these worthies to show the visitor, and when they had drawn attention to the places in the enclosure set apart for animal sacrifices, indicated too obviously by the forked stakes, to which the victims are secured, their duty as guides seemed over. At these sacrificial spots on the great annual festival of the goddess, and on certain other and not infre- quent occasions when rich worshippers visit the temple, goats, sheep, and buffaloes are sacrificed in hecatomhs, their blood flowing like water before the shrine of the goddess, for she delights in animal sacrifices, and, as certain Hindu scriptures affirm, “constantly drinks blood.”! Neither the bull nor the cow are of course ever offered here, these animals being considered sacred by all Hindus throughout India. Although my visit was not on a feast or festival day, there was ample gory evidence of the sacrificial activity of the priests of Kali, whose predecessors, only a few genera- tions back, immolated human victims, the traditions of these sacrifices being still religiously preserved in many old

1 Tantras. See Sir Monier Williams, Religious Thoughts and Lise in India, p. 189.

7

BRAHMANS, THEISTS, AND MUSLIMS OF INDIA

Bengali families in which, on the occasions of the Kali and Durga festivals, effigies are offered up in lieu of living men.! « But for us,” writes Sir John Strachey, “even in the province where education has made its greatest progress, Kali would still claim her human victims. Not many years ago, in a time of drought, near a railway station twenty-five miles from Calcutta, a human head was found before her idol decked with flowers, and in another temple in Bengal, a boy was savagely murdered and offered to the goddess.” ? So recently as June 1901 an attempt was made by one Gajadhur to sacrifice a man at Akhra, near Calcutta, before a newly made idol of Kali.’

Hinduism is associated, in the minds of so many in Europe, and even in India, with the idea of the most scrupulous tenderness towards all animated things—“the mild Hindu” is so proverbial a figure of speech—that it somewhat staggers one to walk about the shambles of a temple like this, and hear the boastful Brahman slaughter- man regret that you had not the good fortune of seeing the place on a gala day, adorned with its holiday carpets of red. So many centuries separate us from the sacrificial system of the Hebrews whose spiritual descendants we are, and we have become so oblivious of the bloody sacrifices of our Norse ancestors, that we almost fail to realise the aims and effects of such a system until we are thus confronted with pools of the warm blood of animals killed to propitiate the arbiters of man’s destiny.

The flesh of a number of the victims slain daily at Kali-Ghat is sold for the ordinary consumption of the orthodox Hindu, and as the business is a profitable one, a regular charge being levied by the priests for each aniinal killed within the sacred courts of the temple, rival shrines have been set up in several parts of Calcutta to meet the

1 Dr. Rajendra Lalla Mitra, Indo- Aryans, vol. ii. p. 109.

7Sir John Strachey, /ndia, p. 354.

The Kalika Purana says: ‘‘ The flesh of the antelope and the rhinoceros hive my beloved (Kali) delights for five hundred years. By a human sacrifice, attended by the forms laid down, Devi is pleased for a thousand years, and by the sacrifice of three men, a hundred thousand years.”—Rev. J. W. Wilkins, Hindu Mythology, p. 262.

* Ciril and Mililary Gazetle (Lahore), 8rd July 1901.

8

KALI-GHAT AND HINDUISM IN BENGAL

demand, apparently an increasing one, for sanctified butchers’ meat,

Before the closed door of the temple I waited a long time to have a glance of the interior and of the dread occupant, who, I recalled to mind, was the patron goddess of that nefarious sect of assassins, the well-known Thugs of India, and of thieves and robbers of all kinds, some of whom might, for all I knew to the contrary, have been present there that morning, paying their respects to their grim protectress.

A partial opening of the door induced me to prees forward, and a hint, not difficult to understand, made me throw some small silver coins towards the officiating janitor, who could, if s0 minded, afford me a better view of the image of the goddess. Hardly had the little shining pieces of British money rung out their true tones on the floor outside the temple door, when, to my great surprise, the space near the entrance, in view of the great goddess herself, became the scene of an animated and most unseemly struggle. Some girls were amongst the first to get posses- sion of the bright pieces as they clinked upon the floor, but in the strife with the angry covetous Brahmans, they soon lost them, although they fought and struggled on the ground like little furies. One rather pretty girl of about eleven or twelve years of age, of slight and graceful figure, dressed in the national saree of thin muslin, had had her delicate wrist cut with her bangles in the indecorous battle I had unintentionally raised. Showing me the bleeding wound, she insisted upon baksheesh. Not a moment's peace would she give me. Her blood was evidently upon my head, and nothing but baksheesh could wash the stains away. The little martyr’s persistence, aided perhaps by her good looks, secured for her what she wanted, but immediately gave rise to a chorus of petitions from many bystanders, which, needless to say, received the attention it deserved.

After the strugele was over, IT got a ghmpse of the goddess from a short distance through the doorway; but as a large crowd had been gathered by the expectation of more largesse, I was not encouraged to make a nearer scrutiny of the idol. However, I had not lost much in getting only an

1Shib Chunder Bose, Zhe J/induos as they are, p. 148. 9

BRAHMANS, THEISTS, AND MUSLIMS OF INDIA

imperfect view of Kali in her gloomy temple, for the horrific figure of the goddess is a familiar one to every resident in Bengal, and I knew it well, having seen it on a hundred occasions. Moreover, it is a form to be remembered for its grotesque and startling ugliness,—a hideous black woman enjoying the possession of no Jess than four well- developed arms, and with a huge pointed blood-red tongue hanging out of her mouth. In one hand she holds a drawn sword, in another the severed head of a mighty giant, while the other two hands are supposed to be engaged in welcoming and blessing her votaries. Thus in her visible manifestation does the goddess unite her attributes of avenger and protector of her people.

Such then, in outward semblance, is the Goddess Kali of the Bengalis. Sometimes she is represented standing with one foot planted on the breast and the other upon the thigh of her prostrate husband, the great God Siva. When so depicted, her girdle (she has no other covering for her person) consists of the severed hands of her defeated foes. For ornament the terrible being wears a necklace of the heads of giants whom she had slain, and whose warm blood she had actually quaffed in savage delight. Her ear- rings are the dead bodies of her slaughtered enemies. Such is this terrible object of adoration ! who in this form appears to her worshippers as the very embodiment of power, and to whom her trustful, if timid votaries, appeal for brave hearts and martial ardour. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna, acting on the advice of Krishna, offers a special prayer for success to Kali, the “giver of victory,”! and similar in- vocations are still addressed to her, though by less formidable persons than that famous son of Kunti. Only a few years ago, a Hindu vernacular paper made the following sad anid significant appeal to the goddess :—

“O, Mother, behold, we are fallen. We have been deprived of our old martial spirit. Thy sons are now a pack of arrant cowards, trampled under the shoes of the Mlechchas,? and so dispirited 8 to lose all sense when angrily stared at by them. Thou art power

1 Mahabharata. -Bhisma Parva, Section xxiii. * A contemptuous term applied to Europeans and other barbarians. 10

KALI-GHAT AND HINDUISM IN BENGAL

perfected. How canst thou tolerate such emasculation of thy dear sons? O, Mother, take pity on India, and infuse the timid souls of thy children with the force of thy invincible power.” ?

No one can tell in what age it was that divinity revealed itself to the spiritual vision of son.e aboriginal or Dravidian seer in the grotesque form of Mother Kali, nor does any record exist regarding the audacious hand that first. modelled, in the plastic clay of Bengal, those awful features which have so strange a fascination for the children of the soil, crudely embodying in visible form the very real dread of femininity always working in the minds of a most sensuous people, too prone to fall before the subtle powers of the weaker sex. This, however, we may boldly affirm, that the events we refer to occurred long ages ago. And it is only reasonable to believe that the strange shapes of Kali, and some other gods and goddesses of the Hindus, must have an immense antiquity, must, in fact, date back to primeval times, and may be regarded as only the fantastic shadows of divinity, seen by the untutored savage in the dim twilight of the world’s morning,

For those who delight in explanations of religious mythological fancies, the following will have interest: “In India, however, as in the Western world, there was a constant tendency to convert names into persons, and then to frame for them a mythical history in accordance with their meaning. Thus two of the ever-flickering tongues of the black-pathed Agni were called Kali the black, and Karali the terrific; and these became names of Durga, the wife of Siva, who was developed out of Agni! and a bloody sacrificial worship was the result.” ®

How simple all this appears. But is it really true?

That, as in Kali’s case, one of the highest and most respected deities of the Hindu Pantheon should have a monstrous form, is at least noteworthy. The Teutonic gods, though sometimes maimed, as the one-eyed Odin, or the limping Loki, are by no means monstrous. Amongst the ; 1 Reproduced in the Civil and Military Gazette (Lahore), 25th December 890.

* Cox, Mythology of the Aryan Nations, p. 421. I

BRAHMANS, THEISTS, AND MUSLIMS OF INDIA

Greeks the shapeless wooden zoana which were amongst the earliest objects of worship, made way, at a comparatively early period, for higher artistic conceptions. It is true that terrible forms like that of the Artemis of Pellene were not unknown, but curiously enouch some mythologists find the same Artemis to be no other than Kali herself, and believe, or imagine, they can trace the dread goddess of Bengal through Asia Minor and Greece to Imperial Rome.!

After the description I have given of the personal appearance of Kali, it is time to record what is taught regarding this embodiment of female prepotency, who commands the homage of so many millions of men. With respect to her recognition as a Hindu divinity, I think it may be assumed without rashness that the shrewd and politic Brahmanical priesthood, finding in their progress eastwards the ever mysterious Kali, a predominant power in the archaic religion of the aborigines of Eastern India, made a place for her in their great pantheon, and, as a consequence, the Hindu shastras under the deft hands of wily Brahmans soon contained ample evidence that the great goddess of Bengal was of the very first rank, being indeed the wife of the great God Siva. This process of adopting local gods and naturalising them as it were in the existing Pantheon, has been, and