The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Curse of Kehama, Volume 1 (of 2)

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Title: The Curse of Kehama, Volume 1 (of 2)

Author: Robert Southey

Release date: August 30, 2017 [eBook #55458]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Thomas


Curse of Kehama:
Robert Southey.

Καταραι, ως και τα αλεκτρυονονεοττα, οικον αει, οψε κεν επανηξαν εγκαθισομεναι. Αποφθ. Ανεκ. του Γυλιελ. του Μητ.






This book was originally digitized by Google and is intended for personal, non-commercial use only.

Original page numbers are given in curly brackets. Footnotes have been relocated to the end of the book. Passages originally rendered in small-caps have been changed to all-caps in the text version of this work.

Alterations: [pp. 168, 191] Correct misspellings of Edward Moor’s last name; [p. 194] change “battel” to “battle”; and [p. 237] change “Son and Moon” to “Sun and Moon”.








In the religion of the Hindoos, which of all false religions is the most monstrous in its fables, and the most fatal in its effects, there is one remarkable peculiarity. Prayers, penances, and sacrifices, are supposed to possess an inherent and actual value, in no degree depending upon the disposition or motive of the person who performs them. They are drafts upon Heaven, for which the Gods cannot refuse payment. The worst men, bent upon the worst designs, have in this manner obtained power which has made them formidable to the Supreme Deities themselves, and rendered an Avatar, or Incarnation of Veeshnoo the Preserver, necessary. This belief is the foundation of the following Poem. The story is original; but, in all its parts, consistent with the superstition upon which it is built; and however startling the fictions may appear, they might almost be called credible when compared with the genuine tales of Hindoo mythology.

No figures can be imagined more anti-picturesque, and less poetical, than the mythological personages of the Bramins. This deformity was easily kept out of sight:—their hundred hands are but a clumsy personification of power; their numerous heads only a gross image of divinity, “whose countenance,” as the Bhagvat-Geeta expresses it, “is turned on every side.” To the other obvious objection, that the religion of Hindostan is not generally known enough to supply fit machinery for an English poem, I can only answer, that, if every allusion to it throughout the work is not sufficiently self-explained to render the passage intelligible, there is a want of skill in the poet. Even those readers who should be wholly unacquainted with the writings of our learned Orientalists, will find all the preliminary knowledge that can be needful, in the brief explanation of mythological names prefixed to the Poem.


1. The Funeral
2. The Curse
3. The Recovery
4. The Departure
5. The Separation
6. Casyapa
7. The Swerga
8. The Sacrifice
9. The Home Scene
10. Mount Meru
11. The Enchantress
12. The Sacrifice Completed


Στησατε μοι Πρωτηα πολυτροπον, οφρα φανειη Ποικιλον ειδος εχων, οτι ποικιλον υμνον αρασσω. Νον. Διον.

for i will for no man’s pleasure change a syllable or measure; pedants shall not tie my strains to our antique poets’ veins; being born as free as these, i will sing as i shall please. George Wither.


Brama, the Creator.

Veeshnoo, the Preserver.

Seeva, the Destroyer.

These form the Trimourtee, or Trinity, as it has been called, of the Bramins. The allegory is obvious, but it has been made for the Trimourtee, not the Trimourtee for the allegory; and these Deities are regarded by the people as three distinct and personal Gods. The two latter have at this day their hostile sects of worshippers; that of Seeva is the most numerous; and in this Poem, Seeva is represented as Supreme among the Gods. This is the same God whose name is variously written Seeb, Sieven and Siva, Chiven by the French, Xiven by the Portugueze, and whom European writers sometimes denominate Eswara, Iswaren, Mahadeo, Mahadeva, Rutren,—according to which of his thousand and eight names prevailed in the country where they obtained their Information.

Indra, God of the Elements.

The Swerga, his Paradise,—one of the Hindoo heavens.

Yamen, Lord of Hell, and Judge of the Dead.

Padalon, Hell,—under the Earth, and, like the Earth, of an octagon shape; its eight gates are guarded by as many Gods.

Marriataly, the Goddess who is chiefly worshipped by the lower casts.

Pollear, or Ganesa,—the Protector of Travellers. His statues are placed in the highways, and sometimes in a small lonely sanctuary, in the streets and in the fields.

Casyapa, the Father of the Immortals.

Devetas, The Inferior Deities.

Suras, Good Spirits.

Asuras, Evil Spirits, or Devils.

Glendoveers, the most beautiful of the Good Spirits, the Grindouvers of Sonnerat.





Midnight, and yet no eye
Through all the Imperial City clos’d in sleep!
Behold her streets a-blaze
With light that seems to kindle the red sky,
Her myriads swarming through the crowded ways!
Master and slave, old age and infancy,
All, all abroad to gaze;
House-top and balcony
Clustered with women, who throw back their veils,
With unimpeded and insatiate sight
To view the funeral pomp which passes by,


As if the mournful rite
Were but to them a scene of joyance and delight.


Vainly, ye blessed twinklers of the night,
Your feeble beams ye shed,
Quench’d in the unnatural light which might out-stare
Even the broad eye of day;
And thou from thy celestial way
Pourest, O Moon, an ineffectual ray!
For lo! ten thousand torches flame and flare
Upon the midnight air,
Blotting the lights of heaven
With one portentous glare.
Behold the fragrant smoke in many a fold,
Ascending floats along the fiery sky,
And hangeth visible on high,
A dark and waving canopy.


Hark! ’tis the funeral trumpet’s breath!
’Tis the dirge of death!
At once ten thousand drums begin,
With one long thunder-peal the ear assailing;


Ten thousand voices then join in,
And with one deep and general din
Pour their wild wailing.
The song of praise is drown’d
Amid that deafening sound;
You hear no more the trumpet’s tone,
You hear no more the mourner’s moan,
Though the trumpet’s breath, and the dirge of death,
Mingle and swell the funeral yell.
But rising over all in one acclaim
Is heard the echoed and re-echoed name,
From all that countless rout:
Arvalan! Arvalan!
Arvalan! Arvalan!
Ten times ten thousand voices in one shout
Call Arvalan! The overpowering sound
From house to house repeated rings about,
From tower to tower rolls round.


The death-procession moves along;
Their bald heads shining to the torches’ ray,
The Bramins lead the way,
Chaunting the funeral song.


And now at once they shout
Arvalan! Arvalan!
With quick rebound of sound,
All in accordant cry,
Arvalan! Arvalan!
The universal multitude reply.
In vain ye thunder on his ear the name!
Would ye awake the dead?
Borne upright in his palankeen,
There Arvalan is seen!
A glow is on his face, . . . a lively red;
’Tis but the crimson canopy
Which o’er his cheek the reddening shade hath shed.
He moves, . . . he nods his head; . . .
But the motion comes from the bearers’ tread,
As the body, borne aloft in state,
Sways with the impulse of its own dead weight.


Close following his dead son, Kehama came,
Nor joining in the ritual song,
Nor calling the dear name;
With head deprest and funeral vest,
And arms enfolded on his breast,


Silent and lost in thought he moves along.
King of the world, his slaves unenvying now
Behold their wretched Lord; rejoiced they see
The mighty Rajah’s misery;
For nature in his pride hath dealt the blow,
And taught the master of mankind to know
Even he himself is man, and not exempt from woe.


O sight of grief! the wives of Arvalan,
Young Azla, young Nealliny, are seen!
Their widow-robes of white,
With gold and jewels bright,
Each like an Eastern queen.
Woe! woe! around their palankeen,
As on a bridal day,
With symphony, and dance, and song,
Their kindred and their friends come on, . . .
The dance of sacrifice! the funeral song!
And next the victim slaves in long array,
Richly bedight to grace the fatal day,
Move onward to their death;
The clarions’ stirring breath
Lifts their thin robes in every flowing fold,


And swells the woven gold,
That on the agitated air
Trembles, and glitters to the torches’ glare.


A man and maid of aspect wan and wild,
Then, side by side, by bowmen guarded, came.
O wretched father! O unhappy child!
Them were all eyes of all the throng exploring; . . .
Is this the daring man
Who raised his fatal hand at Arvalan?
Is this the wretch condemned to feel
Kehama’s dreadful wrath?
Them were all hearts of all the throng deploring,
For not in that innumerable throng
Was one who lov’d the dead; for who could know
What aggravated wrong
Provok’d the desperate blow!
Far, far behind, beyond all reach of sight,
In ordered files the torches flow along,
One ever-lengthening line of gliding light:
Far . . . far behind,
Rolls on the undistinguishable clamour,
Of horn, and trump, and tambour;


Incessant at the roar
Of streams which down the wintry mountain pour,
And louder than the dread commotion
Of stormy billows on a rocky shore,
When the winds rage over the wares,
And Ocean to the Tempest raves.


And now toward the bank they go,
Where, winding on their way below,
Deep and strong the waters flow.
Here doth the funeral pile appear
With myrrh and ambergris bestrew’d,
And built of precious sandal wood.
They cease their music and their outcry here;
Gently they rest the bier:
They wet the face of Arvalan,
No sign of life the sprinkled drops excite.
They feel his breast, . . . no motion there;
They feel his lips, . . . no breath;
For not with feeble, nor with erring hand,
The stern avenger dealt the blow of death.
Then with a doubling peal and deeper blast,
The tambours and the trumpets sound on high,


And with a last and loudest cry
They call on Arvalan.


Woe! woe! for Azla takes her seat
Upon the funeral pile!
Calmly she took her seat,
Calmly the whole terrific pomp survey’d;
As on her lap the while
The lifeless head of Arvalan was laid.
Woe! woe! Nealliny,
The young Nealliny!
They strip her ornaments away,
Bracelet and anklet, ring, and chain, and zone;
Around her neck they leave
The marriage knot alone, . . .
That marriage band, which when
Yon waning moon was young,
Around her virgin neck
With bridal joy was hung.
Then with white flowers, the coronal of death,
Her jetty locks they crown.
O sight of misery!
Yon cannot hear her cries, . . . all other sound


In that wild dissonance is drown’d; . . .
But in her face you see
The supplication and the agony, . . .
See in her swelling throat the desperate strength
That with vain effort struggles yet for life;
Her arms contracted now in fruitless strife,
Now wildly at full length
Towards the crowd in vain for pity spread, . . .
They force her on, they bind her to the dead.


Then all around retire;
Circling the pile, the ministring Bramins stand,
Each lifting in his hand a torch on fire.
Alone the Father of the dead advanced
And lit the funeral pyre.


At once on every side
The circling torches drop;
At once on every side
The fragrant oil is pour’d;
At once on every side
The rapid flames rush up.


Then hand in hand the victim band
Roll in the dance around the funeral pyre;
Their garments’ flying folds
Float inward to the fire.
In drunken whirl they wheel around;
One drops, . . . another plunges in;
And still with overwhelming din
The tambours and the trumpets sound;
And clap of hand, and shouts, and cries,
From all the multitude arise:
While round and round, in giddy wheel,
Intoxicate they roll and reel,
Till one by one whirl’d in they fall,
And the devouring flames have swallowed all.


Then all was still; the drums and clarions ceas’d;
The multitude were hush’d in silent awe;
Only the roaring of the flames was heard.




Alone towards the Table of the dead,
Kehama mov’d; there on the altar-stone
Honey and rice he spread,
There with collected voice and painful tone
He call’d upon his son.
Lo! Arvalan appears.
Only Kehama’s powerful eye beheld
The thin etherial spirit hovering nigh;
Only the Rajah’s ear
Receiv’d his feeble breath.
And is this all? the mournful spirit said,
This all that thou canst give me after death?


This unavailing pomp,
These empty pageantries that mock the dead!


In bitterness the Rajah heard,
And groan’d, and smote his breast, and o’er his face
Cowl’d the white mourning vest.


Art thou not powerful, . . . even like a God?
And must I, through my years of wandering,
Shivering and naked to the elements,
In wretchedness await
The hour of Yamen’s wrath?
I thought thou wouldst embody me anew.
Undying as I am, . . .
Yea, re-create me! . . . Father, is this all!
This all! and thou Almighty!


But in that wrongful and upbraiding tone,
Kehama found relief,
For rising anger half supprest his grief.
Reproach not me! he cried;


Had I not spell-secur’d thee from disease,
Fire, sword, . . . all common accidents of man, . . .
And thou! . . . fool, fool, . . . to perish by a stake!
And by a peasant’s arm! . . .
Even now, when from reluctant Heaven
Forcing new gifts and mightier attributes,
So soon I should have quell’d the Death-God’s power.


Waste not thy wrath on me, quoth Arvalan,
It was my hour of folly! Fate prevail’d,
Nor boots it to reproach me that I fell.
I am in misery, Father! Other souls
Predoom’d to Indra’s Heaven, enjoy the dawn
Of bliss: . . . to them the tempered elements
Minister joy, genial delight the sun
Sheds on their happy being, and the stars
Effuse on them benignant influencies;
And thus o’er earth and air they roam at will,
And when the number of their days is full,
Go fearlessly before the awful throne.
But I, . . . all naked feeling and raw life, . . .
What worse than this hath Yamen’s hell in store?
If ever thou didst love me, mercy, Father!


Save me, for thou canst save: . . . the Elements
Know and obey thy voice.


The Elements
Shall torture thee no more; even while I speak
Already dost then feel their power is gone.
Fear not! I cannot call again the past,
Fate hath made that its own; but Fate shall yield
To me the future; and thy doom be fix’d
By mine, not Yamen’s will. Meantime, all power
Whereof thy feeble spirit can be made
Participant, I give. Is there aught else
To mitigate thy lot?


Only the sight of vengeance. Give me that!
Vengeance, full, worthy vengeance! . . . not the stroke
Of sodden punishment, . . . no agony
That spends itself and leaves the wretch at rest,
But lasting long revenge.


What, boy? is that cup sweet? then take thy fill!



So as he spake, a glow of dreadful pride
Inflam’d his cheek: with quick and angry stride
He mov’d toward the pile,
And rais’d his hand to hush the crowd, and cried
Bring forth the murderer! At the Rajah’s voice,
Calmly, and like a man whom fear had stunn’d,
Ladurlad came, obedient to the call.
But Kailyal started at the sound,
And gave a womanly shriek, and back she drew,
And eagerly she roll’d her eyes around,
As if to seek for aid, albeit she knew
No aid could there be found.


It chanced that near her, on the river-brink,
The sculptur’d form of Marriataly stood;
It was an idol roughly hewn of wood,
Artless, and poor, and rude.
The Goddess of the poor was she;
None else regarded her with piety.
But when that holy image Kailyal view’d,
To that she sprung, to that she clung,
On her own goddess with close-clasping arms,


For life the maiden hung.
They seiz’d the maid; with unrelenting grasp
They bruis’d her tender limbs;
She, nothing yielding, to this only hope
Clings with the strength of frenzy and despair.
She screams not now, she breathes not now,
She sends not up one vow,
She forms not in her soul one secret prayer,
All thought, all feeling, and all powers’ of life
In the one effort centering. Wrathful they
With tug and strain would force the maid away. . . .
Didst thou, O Marriataly, see their strife?
In pity didst thou see the suffering maid?
Or was thine anger kindled, that rude hands
Assail’d thy holy image? . . . for behold
The holy image shakes!
Irreverently bold, they deem the maid
Relax’d her stubborn hold,
And now with force redoubled drag their prey;
And now the rooted idol to their sway
Bends, . . . yields, . . . and now it falls. But then they scream,
For lo! they feel the crumbling bank give way,
And all are plunged into the stream.



She hath escap’d my will, Kehama cried,
She hath escap’d, . . . but thou art here,
I have thee still,
The worser criminal!
And on Ladurlad, while he spake, severe
He fix’d his dreadful frown.
The strong reflection of the pile
Lit his dark lineaments,
Lit the protruded brow, the gathered front,
The steady eye of wrath.


But while the fearful silence yet endur’d,
Ladurlad rous’d his soul;
Ere yet the voice of destiny
Which trembled on the Rajah’s lips was loos’d,
Eager he interpos’d,
As if despair had waken’d him to hope;
Mercy! oh mercy! only in defence . . .
Only instinctively, . . .
Only to save my child, I smote the Prince.
King of the world, be merciful!
Crush me, . . . but torture not!



The Man-Almighty deign’d him no reply,
Still he stood silent; in no human mood
Of mercy, in no hesitating thought
Of right and justice. At the length he rais’d
His brow yet unrelax’d, . . . his lips unclos’d,
And utter’d from the heart,
With the whole feeling of his soul enforced,
The gather’d vengeance came.


I charm thy life
From the weapons of strife,
From stone and from wood,
From fire and from flood,
From the serpent’s tooth,
And the beasts of blood:
From Sickness I charm thee,
And Time shall not harm thee;
But Earth, which is mine,
Its fruits shall deny thee;
And Water shall hear me,
And know thee and fly thee;
And the Winds shall not touch thee


When they pass by thee,
And the Dews shall not wet thee,
When they fall nigh thee:
And thou shalt seek Death
To release thee, in vain;
Thou shalt live in thy pain,
While Kehama shall reign,
With a fire in thy heart,
And a fire in thy brain;
And sleep shall obey me,
And visit thee never,
And the Curse shall be on thee
For ever and ever.


There where the Curse had stricken him,
There stood the miserable man,
There stood Ladurlad, with loose-hanging arms,
And eyes of idiot wandering.
Was it a dream? alas,
He heard the river flow,
He heard the crumbling of the pile,
He heard the wind which shower’d
The thin white ashes round.


There motionless he stood,
As if he hop’d it were a dream,
And fear’d to move, lest he should prove
The actual misery;
And still at times he met Kehama’s eye,
Kehama’s eye that fasten’d on him still.




The Rajah turn’d toward the pile again,
Loud rose the song of death from all the crowd;
Their din the instruments begin,
And once again join in
With overwhelming sound.
Ladurlad starts, . . . he looks around.
What hast thou here in view,
O wretched man, in this disastrous scene?
The soldier train, the Bramins who renew
Their ministry around the funeral pyre,
The empty palankeens,
The dimly-fading fire.


Where too is she whom most his heart held dear,
His best-beloved Kailyal, where is she,
The solace and the joy of many a year
Of widowhood! is she then gone,
And is he left all-utterly alone,
To bear his blasting curse, and none
To succour or deplore him?
He staggers from the dreadful spot; the throng
Give way in fear before him;
Like one who carries pestilence about,
Shuddering they shun him, where he moves along.
And now he wanders on
Beyond the noisy rout;
He cannot fly and leave his curse behind,
Yet doth he seem to find
A comfort in the change of circumstance.
Adown the shore he strays,
Unknowing where his wretched feet may rest,
But farthest from the fatal place is best.


By this in the orient sky appears the gleam
Of day. Lo! what is yonder in the stream,
Down the slow river floating slow,
In distance indistinct and dimly seen?


The childless one with idle eye
Followed its motion thoughtlessly;
Idly he gaz’d, unknowing why,
And half unconscious that he watch’d its way.
Belike it is a tree
Which some rude tempest, in its sudden sway,
Tore from the rock, or from the hollow shore
The undermining stream hath swept away.


But when anon outswelling by its side,
A woman’s robe he spied,
Oh then Ladurlad started,
As one, who in his grave
Had heard an angel’s call.
Yea, Marriataly, then hast deign’d to save!
Yea, Goddess! it is she,
To thy dear image clinging senselessly,
And thus in happy hour
Upborne amid the wave
By that preserving power.


Headlong in hope and in joy
Ladurlad dash’d in the water.


The water knew Kehama’s spell,
The water shrunk before him.
Blind to the miracle,
He rushes to his daughter,
And treads the river-depths in transport wild,
And clasps and saves his child.


Upon the farther side a level shore
Of sand was spread: thither Ladurlad bore
His daughter, holding still with senseless hand
The saving Goddess; there upon the sand
He laid the livid maid,
Rais’d up against his knees her drooping head;
Bent to her lips, . . . her lips as pale as death, . . .
If he might feel her breath,
His own the while in hope and dread suspended;
Chaf’d her cold breast, and ever and anon
Let his hand rest upon her heart extended.


Soon did his touch perceive, or fancy there,
The first faint motion of returning life.
He chafes her feet, and lays them bare
In the sun; and now again upon her breast


Lays his hot hand; and now her lips he prest,
For now the stronger throb of life he knew:
And her lips tremble too!
The breath comes palpably,
Her quivering lids unclose
Feebly and feebly fell,
Relapsing as it seem’d to dead repose.


So in her father’s arms thus languidly,
While over her with earnest gaze he hung,
Silent and motionless she lay,
And painfully and slowly writh’d at fits,
At fits to short convulsive starts was stung.
Till when the struggle and strong agony
Had left her, quietly she lay repos’d:
Her eyes now resting on Ladurlad’s face,
Relapsing now, and now again unclos’d.
The look she fix’d upon his face, implies
Nor thought nor feeling; senselessly she lies,
Compos’d like one who sleeps with open eyes.


Long he leant over her,


In silence and in fear.
Kailyal! . . . at length he cried in such a tone,
As a poor mother ventures who draws near,
With silent footstep, to her child’s sick bed.
My Father! cried the maid, and rais’d her head,
Awakening then to life and thought, . . . thou here?
For when his voice she heard,
The dreadful past recurr’d,
Which dimly, like a dream of pain,
Till now with troubled sense confus’d her brain.


And hath he spar’d us then? she cried,
Half rising as she spake,
For hope and joy the sudden strength supplied;
In mercy hath he curb’d his cruel will,
That still thou livest? But as thus she said,
Impatient of that look of hope, her sire
Shook hastily his head;
Oh! he hath laid a Curse upon my life,
A clinging curse, quoth he;
Hath sent a fire into my heart and brain,
A burning fire, for ever there to be!
The winds of Heaven must never breathe on me;


The rains and dews must never fall on me;
Water must mock my thirst and shrink from me;
The common earth must yield no fruit to me;
Sleep, blessed Sleep! must never light on me;
And Death, who comes to all, must fly from me;
And never, never set Ladurlad free.


This is a dream! exclaim’d the incredulous maid,
Yet in her voice the while a fear exprest,
Which in her larger eye was manifest.
This is a dream! she rose and laid her hand
Upon her father’s brow, to try the charm;
He could not bear the pressure there; . . . he shrunk, . . .
He warded off her arm,
As though it were an enemy’s blow, he smote
His daughter’s arm aside.
Her eye glanced down, his mantle she espied
And caught it up; . . . Oh misery! Kailyal cried,
He bore me from the river-depths, and yet
His garment is not wet!




Reclin’d beneath a Cocoa’s feathery shade
Ladurlad lies,
And Kailyal on his lap her head hath laid,
To hide her streaming eyes.
The boatman, sailing on his easy way,
With envious eye beheld them where they lay;
For every herb and flower
Was fresh and fragrant with the early dew;
Sweet sung the birds in that delicious hour,
And the cool gale of morning as it blew,
Not yet subdued by day’s increasing power,
Ruffling the surface of the silvery stream,


Swept o’er the moisten’d sand, and rais’d no shower.
Telling their tale of love,
The boatman thought they lay
At that lone hour, and who so blest as they!


But now the sun in heaven is high,
The little songsters of the sky
Sit silent in the sultry hour,
They pant and palpitate with heat;
Their bills are open languidly
To catch the passing air;
They hear it not, they feel it not,
It murmurs not, it moves not.
The boatman, as he looks to land,
Admires what men so mad to linger there,
For yonder Cocoa’s shade behind them falls,
A single spot upon the burning sand.


There all the morning was Ladurlad laid,
Silent and motionless, like one at ease;
There motionless upon her father’s knees,
Reclin’d the silent maid.


The man was still, pondering with steady mind,
As if it were another’s Curse,
His own portentous lot;
Scanning it o’er and o’er in busy thought,
As though it were a last night’s tale of woe,
Before the cottage door,
By some old beldame sung,
While young and old assembled round,
Listened, as if by witchery bound,
In fearful pleasure to her wonderous tongue.


Musing so long he lay, that all things seem
Unreal to his sense, even like a dream,
A monstrous dream of things which could not be.
That beating, burning brow, . . . why it was now
The height of noon, and he was lying there
In the broad sun, all bare!
What if he felt no wind? the air was still,
That was the general will
Of nature, not his own peculiar doom;
Yon rows of rice erect and silent stand,
The shadow of the Cocoa’s lightest plume
Is steady on the sand.



Is it indeed a dream? he rose to try,
Impatient to the water-side he went,
And down he bent,
And in the stream he plung’d his hasty arm
To break the visionary charm.
With fearful eye and fearful heart,
His daughter watch’d the event;
She saw the start and shudder,
She heard the in-drawn groan,
For the Water knew Kehama’s charm,
The water shrunk before his arm.
His dry hand mov’d about unmoisten’d there;
As easily might that dry hand avail
To stop the passing gale,
Or grasp the impassive air.
He is Almighty then!
Exclaim’d the wretched man in his despair;
Air knows him, Water knows him; Sleep
His dreadful word will keep;
Even in the grave there is no rest for me,
Cut off from that last hope, . . . the wretches’ joy;
And Veeshnoo hath no power to save,
Nor Seeva to destroy.



Oh! wrong not them! quoth Kailyal,
Wrong not the Heavenly Powers!
Our hope is all in them: They are not blind!
And lighter wrongs than ours,
And lighter crimes than his,
Have drawn the Incarnate down among mankind;
Already have the Immortals heard our cries,
And in the mercy of their righteousness
Beheld us in the hour of our distress!
She spake with streaming eyes,
Where pious love and ardent feeling beam;
And turning to the Image, threw
Her grateful arms around it, . . . It was thou
Who saved’st me from the stream!
My Marriataly, it was thou!
I had not else been here
To share my Father’s Curse,
To suffer now, . . . and yet to thank thee thus!


Here then, the maiden cried, dear Father, here
Raise our own Goddess, our divine Preserver!
The mighty of the earth despise her rites,


She loves the poor who serve her.
Set up her image here,
With heart and voice the guardian Goddess bless,
For jealously would she resent
Neglect and thanklessness. . . .
Set up her image here,
And bless her for her aid with tongue and soul sincere.


So saying, on her knees the maid
Began the pious toil.
Soon their joint labour scoops the easy soil;
They raise the image up with reverent hand,
And round its rooted base they heap the sand.
O Thou whom we adore,
O Marriataly, thee do I implore,
The virgin cried; my Goddess, pardon thou
The unwilling wrong, that I no more,
With dance and song,
Can do thy daily service, as of yore!
The flowers which last I wreath’d around thy brow,
Are withering there; and never now
Shall I at eve adore thee,
And swimming round with arms outspread,


Poise the full pitcher on my head,
In dextrous dance before thee;
White underneath the reedy shed, at rest,
My father sate the evening rites to view,
And blest thy name, and blest
His daughter too.


Then heaving from her heart a heavy sigh,
O Goddess! from that happy home, cried she,
The Almighty Man hath forced us!
And homeward with the thought unconsciously
She turn’d her dizzy eye. . . . But there on high,
With many a dome, and pinnacle, and spire,
The summits of, the Golden Palaces
Blaz’d in the dark blue sky, aloft, like fire.
Father, away! she cried, away!
Why linger we so nigh?
For not to him hath Nature given
The thousand eyes of Deity,
Always and every where with open sight,
To persecute our flight!
Away . . . away! she said,
And took her father’s hand, and like a child
He followed where she led.




Evening comes on: arising from the stream,
Homeward the tall flamingo wings his flight;
And where he sails athwart the setting beam,
His scarlet plumage glows with deeper light.
The watchman, at the wish’d approach of night,
Gladly forsakes the field, where he all day,
To scare the winged plunderers from their prey,
With shout and sling, on yonder clay-built height,
Hath borne the sultry ray.
Hark! at the Golden Palaces,
The Bramin strikes the hour.
For leagues and leagues around, the brazen sound


Rolls through the stillness of departing day,
Like thunder far away.


Behold them wandering on their hopeless way,
Unknowing where they stray,
Yet sure where’er they stop to find no rest.
The evening gale is blowing,
It plays among the trees;
Like plumes upon a warrior’s crest,
They see yon cocoas tossing to the breeze.
Ladurlad views them with impatient mind,
Impatiently he hears
The gale of evening blowing,
The sound of waters flowing,
As if all sights and sounds combin’d
To mock his irremediable woe:
For not for him the blessed waters flow,
For not for him the gales of evening blow,
A fire is in his heart and brain,
And Nature hath no healing for his pain.


The Moon is up, still pale


Amid the lingering light.
A cloud ascending in the eastern sky,
Sails slowly o’er the vale,
And darkens round and closes-in the night.
No hospitable house is nigh,
No traveller’s home the wanderers to invite.
Forlorn, and with long watching overworn,
The wretched father and the wretched child
Lie down amid the wild.


Before them full in sight,
A white flag flapping to the winds of night,
Marks where the tyger seiz’d his human prey.
Far, far away with natural dread,
Shunning the perilous spot,
At other times abhorrent had they fled;
But now they heed it not.
Nothing they care; the boding death-flag now
In vain for them may gleam and flutter there.
Despair and agony in him,
Prevent all other thought;
And Kailyal hath no heart or sense for aught,
Save her dear father’s strange and miserable lot.



There in the woodland shade,
Upon the lap of that unhappy maid,
His head Ladurlad laid,
And never word he spake;
Nor heav’d he one complaining sigh,
Nor groan’d he with his misery,
But silently for her dear sake
Endur’d the raging pain.
And now the moon was hid on high,
No stars were glimmering in the sky;
She could not see her father’s eye,
How red with burning agony.
Perhaps he may be cooler now;
She hoped, and long’d to touch his brow
With gentle hand, yet did not dare
To lay the painful pressure there.
Now forward from the tree she bent,
And anxiously her head she leant,
And listened to his breath.
Ladurlad’s breath was short and quick,
Yet regular it came,
And like the slumber of the sick,
In pantings still the same.


Oh if he sleeps! . . . her lips unclose,
Intently listening to the sound,
That equal sound so like repose.
Still quietly the sufferer lies,
Bearing his torment now with resolute will;
He neither moves, nor groans, nor sighs.
Doth satiate cruelty bestow
This little respite to his woe,
She thought, or are there Gods who look below!


Perchance, thought Kailyal, willingly deceiv’d,
Our Marriataly hath his pain reliev’d,
And she hath bade the blessed sleep assuage
His agony, despite the Rajah’s rage.
That was a hope which fill’d her gushing eyes,
And made her heart in silent yearnings rise,
To bless the Power divine in thankfulness.
And yielding to that joyful thought her mind,
Backward the maid her aching head reclin’d
Against the tree, and to her father’s breath
In fear she hearken’d still with earnest ear.
But soon forgetful fits the effort broke:
In starts of recollection then she woke;


Till now benignant Nature overcame
The Virgin’s weary and exhausted frame,
Nor able more her painful watch to keep,
She clos’d her heavy lids, and sunk to sleep.


Vain was her hope! he did not rest from pain,
The Curse was burning in his brain.
Alas! the innocent maiden thought he slept,
But Sleep the Rajah’s dread commandment kept,
Sleep knew Kehama’s Curse.
The dews of night fell round them now,
They never bath’d Ladurlad’s brow,
They knew Kehama’s Curse.
The night-wind is abroad,
Aloft it moves among the stirring trees.
He only heard the breeze, . . .
No healing aid to him it brought,
It play’d around his head and touch’d him not,
It knew Kehama’s Curse.


Listening, Ladurlad lay in his despair,
If Kailyal slept, for wherefore should she share


Her father’s wretchedness which none could cure?
Better alone to suffer; he must bear
The burthen of his Curse, but why endure
The unavailing presence of her grief?
She too, apart from him, might find relief;
For dead the Rajah deem’d her, and as thus
Already she his dread revenge had fled,
So might she still escape and live secure.


Gently he lifts his head,
And Kailyal does not feel;
Gently he rises up, . . . she slumbers still;
Gently he steals away with silent tread.
Anon she started, for she felt him gone;
She call’d, and through the stillness of the night,
His step was heard in flight.
Mistrustful for a moment of the sound,
She listens! till the step is heard no more;
But then she knows that he indeed is gone,
And with a thrilling shriek she rushes on.
The darkness and the wood impede her speed;
She lifts her voice again,
Ladurlad! . . . and again, alike in vain,


And with a louder cry
Straining its tone to hoarseness; . . . far away,
Selfish in misery,
He heard the call and faster did he fly.


She leans against that tree whose jutting bough
Smote her so rudely. Her poor heart
How audibly it panted,
With sudden stop and start:
Her breath how short and painfully it came!
Hark! all is still around her, . . .
And the night so utterly dark,
She opened her eyes and she closed them,
And the blackness and blank were the same.


’Twas like a dream of horror, and she stood
Half doubting whether all indeed were true.
A Tyger’s howl loud echoing through the wood,
Rous’d her; the dreadful sound she knew,
And turn’d instinctively to what she feared.
Far off the Tyger’s hungry howl was heard;
A nearer horror met the maiden’s view,


For right before her a dim form appear’d,
A human form in that black night,
Distinctly shaped by its own lurid light,
Such light as the sickly moon is seen to shed,
Through spell-rais’d fogs, a bloody baleful red.


That Spectre fix’d his eyes upon her full;
The light which shone in their accursed orbs
Was like a light from Hell,
And it grew deeper, kindling with the view.
She could not turn her sight
From that infernal gaze, which like a spell
Bound her, and held her rooted to the ground.
It palsied every power;
Her limbs avail’d her not in that dread hour.
There was no moving thence,
Thought, memory, sense were gone:
She heard not now the Tyger’s nearer cry,
She thought not on her father now,
Her cold heart’s-blood ran back,
Her hand lay senseless on the bough it clasp’d,
Her feet were motionless;
Her fascinated eyes


Like the stone eye-balls of a statue fix’d,
Yet conscious of the sight that blasted them.


The wind is abroad,
It opens the clouds;
Scattered before the gale,
They skurry through the sky,
And the darkness retiring rolls over the vale.
The stars in their beauty come forth on high,
And through the dark-blue night
The moon rides on triumphant, broad and bright.
Distinct and darkening in her light
Appears that Spectre foul.
The moon beam gives his face and form to sight,
The shape of man,
The living form and face of Arvalan!
His hands are spread to clasp her.


But at that sight of dread the maid awoke;
As if a lightning-stroke
Had burst the spell of fear,
Away she broke all franticly and fled.


There stood a temple near beside the way,
An open fane of Pollear, gentle God,
To whom the travellers for protection pray.
With elephantine head and eye severe,
Here stood his image, such as when he seiz’d
And tore the rebel giant from the ground,
With mighty trunk wreath’d round
His impotent bulk, and on his tusks, on high
Impal’d upheld him between earth and sky.


Thither the affrighted maiden sped her flight,
And she hath reach’d the place of sanctuary;
And now within the temple in despite,
Yea, even before the altar, in his sight,
Hath Arvalan with fleshly arm of might
Seiz’d her. That instant the insulted God
Caught him aloft, and from his sinuous grasp,
As if from some tort catapult let loose,
Over the forest hurl’d him all abroad.


Overcome with dread,
She tarried not to see what heavenly power


Had saved her in that hour.
Breathless and faint she fled.
And now her foot struck on the knotted root
Of a broad manchineil, and there the maid
Fell senselessly beneath the deadly shade.




Shall this then be thy fate, O lovely Maid,
Thus, Kailyal, must thy sorrows then be ended!
Her face upon the ground,
Her arms at length extended,
There like a corpse behold her laid,
Beneath the deadly shade.
What if the hungry Tyger, prowling by,
Should snuff his banquet nigh?
Alas, Death needs not now his ministry;
The baleful boughs hang o’er her,
The poison-dews descend.
What power will now restore her,


What God will be her friend?


Bright and so beautiful was that fair night,
It might have calm’d the gay amid their mirth,
And given the wretched a delight in tears.
One of the Glendoveers,
The loveliest race of all of heavenly birth,
Hovering with gentle motion o’er the earth,
Amid the moonlight air,
In sportive flight was floating round and round,
Unknowing where his joyous way was tending.
He saw the maid where motionless she lay,
And stoopt his flight descending,
And rais’d her from the ground.
Her heavy eye-lids are half clos’d,
Her cheeks are pale and livid like the dead,
Down hang her loose arms lifelessly,
Down hangs her languid head.


With timely pity touch’d for one so fair,
The gentle Glendoveer
Prest her thus pale and senseless to his breast,


And springs aloft in air with sinewy wings,
And bears the Maiden there,
Where Himakoot, the holy Mount, on high
From mid-earth rising in mid-Heaven,
Shines in its glory like the throne of Even.
Soaring with strenuous flight above,
He bears her to the blessed Grove,
Where in his ancient and august abodes,
There dwells old Casyapa, the Sire of Gods.


The Father of the Immortals sate,
Where underneath the Tree of Life
The fountains of the Sacred River sprung:
The Father of the Immortals smil’d
Benignant on his son.
Knowest thou, he said, my child,
Ereenia, knowest thou whom thou bringest here,
A mortal to the holy atmosphere?


I found her in the Groves of Earth,
Beneath a poison-tree,


Thus lifeless as thou seest her.
In pity have I brought her to these bowers,
Not erring, Father! by that smile . . .
By that benignant eye!


What if the maid be sinful? If her ways
Were ways of darkness, and her death predoom’d
To that black hour of midnight, when the Moon
Hath turn’d her face away,
Unwilling to behold
The unhappy end of guilt?


Then what a lie, my Sire, were written here,
In these fair characters! And she had died,
Sure proof of purer life and happier doom,
Now in the moonlight, in the eye of Heaven,
If I had left so fair a flower to fade.
But thou, . . . all knowing as thou art,
Why askest thou of me?
O Father, oldest, holiest, wisest, best,
To whom all things are plain,


Why askest thou of me?


Knowest thou Kehama?


The Almighty Man!
Who knows not him and his tremendous power?
The Tyrant of the Earth,
The Enemy of Heaven!


Fearest thou the Rajah?


He is terrible!


Yea, he is terrible! such power hath he,
That hope hath entered Hell.
The Asuras and the spirits of the damn’d
Acclaim their Hero; Yamen, with the might
Of Godhead, scarce can quell


The rebel race accurst;
Half from their beds of torture they uprise,
And half uproot their chains.
Is there not fear in Heaven?
The souls that are in bliss suspend their joy;
The danger hath disturb’d
The calm of Deity,
And Brama fears, and Veeshnoo turns his face
In doubt toward Seeva’s throne.


I have seen Indra tremble at his prayers,
And at his dreadful penances turn pale.
They claim and wrest from Seeva power so vast,
That even Seeva’s self,
The Highest, cannot grant and be secure.


And darest thou, Ereenia, brave
The Almighty Tyrant’s power?


I brave him, Father! I?



Darest thou brave his vengeance? . . . for if not,
Take her again to earth,
Cast her before the tyger in his path,
Or where the death-dew-dropping tree
May work Kehama’s will.




Then meet his wrath! for he, even he,
Hath set upon this worm his wanton foot.


I knew her not, how wretched and how fair,
When here I wafted her: . . . poor Child of Earth,
Shall I forsake thee, seeing thee so fair,
So wretched? O my Father, let the maid
Dwell in the Sacred Grove.


That must not be,
For Force and Evil then would enter here;


Ganges, the holy stream which cleanseth sin,
Would flow from hence polluted in its springs,
And they who gasp upon its banks in death,
Feel no salvation. Piety and peace
And Wisdom, these are mine; but not the power
Which could protect her from the Almighty Man;
Nor when the spirit of dead Arvalan
Should persecute her here to glut his rage,
To heap upon her yet more agony,
And ripen more damnation for himself.


Dead Arvalan?


All power to him, whereof
The disembodied spirit in its state
Of weakness could be made participant,
Kehama hath assign’d, until his days
Of wandering shall be numbered.


Look! she drinks
The gale of healing from the blessed Groves.


She stirs, and lo! her hand
Hath touch’d the Holy River in its source,
Who would have shrunk if aught impure were nigh.


The Maiden, of a truth, is pure from sin.


The waters of the holy Spring
About the hand of Kailyal play;
They rise, they sparkle, and they sing,
Leaping where languidly she lay,
As if with that rejoicing stir
The holy Spring would welcome her.
The Tree of Life which o’er her spread,
Benignant bow’d its sacred head,
And dropt its dews of healing;
And her heart-blood at every breath,
Recovering from the strife of death,
Drew in new strength and feeling.
Behold her beautiful in her repose,
A life-bloom reddening now her dark-brown cheek;
And lo! her eyes unclose,
Dark as the depth of Ganges’ spring profound


When night hangs over it,
Bright as the moon’s refulgent beam,
That quivers on its clear up-sparkling stream.


Soon she let fall her lids,
As one who, from a blissful dream
Waking to thoughts of pain,
Fain would return to sleep, and dream again.
Distrustful of the sight,
She moves not, fearing to disturb
The deep and full delight.
In wonder fix’d, opening again her eye
She gazes silently,
Thinking her mortal pilgrimage was past,
That she had reach’d her heavenly home of rest,
And these were Gods before her,
Or spirits of the blest.


Lo! at Ereenia’s voice,
A Ship of Heaven comes sailing down the skies.
Where wouldst thou bear her? cries
The ancient Sire of Gods.


Straight to the Swerga, to my Bower of Bliss,
The Glendoveer replies,
To Indra’s own abodes.
Foe of her foe, were it alone for this
Indra should guard her from his vengeance there;
But if the God forbear,
Unwilling yet the perilous strife to try,
Or shrinking from the dreadful Rajah’s might, . . .
Weak as I am, O Father, even I
Stand forth in Seeva’s sight.


Trust thou in Him whatever betide,
And stand forth fearlessly!
The Sire of Gods replied:
All that He wills is right, and doubt not thou,
Howe’er our feeble scope of sight
May fail us now,
His righteous will in all things must be done.
My blessing be upon thee, O my son!




Then in the Ship of Heaven, Ereenia laid
The waking, wondering Maid;
The Ship of Heaven, instinct with thought, display’d
Its living sail, and glides along the sky.
On either side in wavy tide,
The clouds of morn along its path divide;
The Winds who swept in wild career on high,
Before its presence check their charmed force;
The Winds that loitering lagg’d along their course,
Around the living Bark enamour’d play,
Swell underneath the sail, and sing before its way.



That Bark, in shape, was like the furrowed shell
Wherein the Sea-Nymphs to their parent-king,
On festal day, their duteous offerings bring.
Its hue? . . . Go watch the last green light
Ere Evening yields the western sky to Night;
Or fix upon the Sun thy strenuous sight
Till thou hast reach’d its orb of chrysolite.
The sail from end to end display’d
Bent, like a rainbow, o’er the maid.
An Angel’s head, with visual eye,
Through trackless space, directs its chosen way;
Nor aid of wing, nor foot, nor fin,
Requires to voyage o’er the obedient sky.
Smooth as the swan when not a breeze at even
Disturbs the surface of the silver stream,
Through air and sunshine sails the Ship of Heaven.


Recumbent there the Maiden glides along
On her aerial way,
How swift she feels not, though the swiftest wind
Had flagg’d in flight behind.
Motionless as a sleeping babe she lay,


And all serene in mind,
Feeling no fear; for that etherial air
With such new life and joyance fill’d her heart,
Fear could not enter there;
For sure she deem’d her mortal part was o’er,
And she was sailing to the heavenly shore;
And that Angelic form, who mov’d beside,
Was some good Spirit sent to be her guide.


Daughter of Earth! therein thou deem’st aright.
And never yet did form more beautiful,
In dreams of night descending from on high,
Bless the religious Virgin’s gifted sight;
Nor, like a vision of delight,
Rise on the raptur’d Poet’s inward eye.
Of human form divine was he,
The immortal Youth of Heaven who floated by;
Even such as that divinest form shall be
In those blest stages of our onward race,
When no infirmity,
Low thought, nor base desire, nor wasting care,
Deface the semblance of our heavenly sire.
The wings of Eagle or of Cherubim


Had seem’d unworthy him:
Angelic power and dignity and grace
Were in his glorious pennons; from the neck
Down to the ankle reach’d their swelling web,
Richer than robes of Tyrian die, that deck
Imperial majesty:
Their colour like the winter’s moonless sky
When all the stars of midnight’s canopy
Shine forth; or like the azure deep at noon,
Reflecting back to heaven a brighter blue.
Such was their tint when clos’d, but when outspread,
The permeating light
Shed through their substance thin a varying hue;
Now bright as when the Rose,
Beauteous as fragrant, gives to scent and sight
A like delight; now like the juice that flows
From Douro’s generous vine,
Or ruby when with deepest red it glows;
Or as the morning clouds refulgent shine
When, at forthcoming of the Lord of Day,
The Orient, like a shrine,
Kindles as it receives the rising ray,
And heralding his way,
Proclaims the presence of the power divine.



Thus glorious were the wings
Of that celestial Spirit, as he went
Disporting through his native element.
Nor these alone
The gorgeous beauties that they gave to view:
Through the broad membrane branch’d a pliant bone;
Spreading like fibres from their parent stem,
Its veins like interwoven silver shone,
Or as the chaster hue
Of pearls that grace some Sultan’s diadem.
Now with slow stroke and strong, behold him smite
The buoyant air, and now in gentler flight,
On motionless wing expanded, shoot along.


Through air and sunshine sails the Ship of Heaven.
Far far beneath them lies
The gross and heavy atmosphere of earth;
And with the Swerga gales,
The Maid of mortal birth
At every breath a new delight inhales.
And now toward its port the Ship of Heaven,
Swift as a falling meteor, shapes its flight,


Yet gently as the dews of night that gem,
And do not bend the hare-bell’s slenderest stem.
Daughter of Earth, Ereenia cried, alight,
This is thy place of rest, the Swerga this,
Lo, here my Bower of Bliss!


He furl’d his azure wings, which round him fold
Graceful as robes of Grecian chief of old.
The happy Kailyal knew not where to gaze:
Her eyes around in joyful wonder roam,
Now turn’d upon the lovely Glendoveer,
Now on his heavenly home.


Here, Maiden, rest in peace,
And I will guard thee, feeble as I am.
The Almighty Rajah shall not harm thee here,
While Indra keeps his throne.


Alas, thou fearest him!
Immortal as thou art, thou fearest him!
I thought that death had sav’d me from his power;


Not even the dead are safe.


Long years of life and happiness,
O Child of Earth, be thine!
From death I sav’d thee, and from all thy foes
Will save thee, while the Swerga is secure.


Not me alone, O gentle Deveta!
I have a father suffering upon earth,
A persecuted, wretched, poor, good man,
For whose strange misery
There is no human help,
And none but I dare comfort him
Beneath Kehama’s curse.
O gentle Deveta, protect him too!


Come, plead thyself to Indra! words like thine
May win their purpose, rouse his slumbering heart,
And make him yet put forth his arm to wield
The thunder, while the thunder is his own.



Then to the garden of the Deity
Ereenia led the maid.
In the mid garden tower’d a giant Tree;
Rock-rooted on a mountain-top, it grew,
Rear’d its unrivall’d head on high,
And stretch’d a thousand branches o’er the sky,
Drinking with all its leaves celestial dew.
Lo! where from thence as from a living well
A thousand torrents flow!
For still in one perpetual shower,
Like diamond drops, etherial waters fell
From every leaf of all its ample bower.
Rolling adown the steep
From that aerial height,
Through the deep shade of aromatic trees,
Half-seen, the cataracts shoot their gleams of light,
And pour upon the breeze
Their thousand voices; far away the roar,
In modulations of delightful sound,
Half-heard and ever varying, floats around.
Below, an ample Lake expanded lies,
Blue as the o’er-arching skies;
Forth issuing from that lovely Lake,


A thousand rivers water Paradise.
Full to the brink, yet never overflowing,
They cool the amorous gales, which, ever blowing,
O’er their melodious surface love to stray;
Then winging back their way,
Their vapours to the parent Tree repay;
And ending thus where they began,
And feeding thus the source from whence they came,
The eternal rivers of the Swerga ran,
For ever renovate, yet still the same.


On that etherial Lake whose waters lie
Blue and transpicuous, like another sky,
The Elements had rear’d their King’s abode.
A strong controuling power their strife suspended,
And there their hostile essences they blended,
To form a Palace worthy of the God.
Built on the Lake the waters were its floor;
And here its walls were water arch’d with fire,
And here were fire with water vaulted o’er;
And spires and pinnacles of fire
Round watery cupolas aspire,
And domes of rainbow rest on fiery towers;


And roofs of flame are turreted around
With cloud, and shafts of cloud with flame are bound.
Here, too, the Elements for ever veer,
Ranging around with endless interchanging;
Pursued in love, and so in love pursuing,
In endless revolutions here they roll;
For ever their mysterious work renewing,
The parts all shifting, still unchanged the whole.
Even we on earth, at intervals, descry
Gleams of the glory, streaks of flowing light,
Openings of heaven, and streams that flash at night
In fitful splendour, through the northern sky.


Impatient of delay, Ereenia caught
The Maid aloft, and spread his wings abroad,
And bore her to the presence of the God.
There Indra sate upon his throne reclin’d,
Where Devetas adore him;
The lute of Nared, warbling on the wind,
All tones of magic harmony combin’d
To sooth his troubled mind,
While the dark-eyed Apsaras danced before him.
In vain the God-musician played,


In vain the dark-eyed Nymphs of Heaven essay’d
To charm him with their beauties in the dance;
And when he saw the mortal Maid appear,
Led by the heroic Glendoveer,
A deeper trouble fill’d his countenance.
What hast thou done, Ereenia, said the God,
Bringing a mortal here?
And while he spake his eye was on the Maid.
The look he gave was solemn, not severe;
No hope to Kailyal it convey’d,
And yet it struck no fear;
There was a sad displeasure in his air,
But pity, too, was there.


Hear me, O Indra! On the lower earth
I found this child of man, by what mishap
I know not, lying in the lap of death.
Aloft I bore her to our Father’s grove;
Not having other thought, than when the gales
Of bliss had heal’d her, upon earth again
To leave its lovely daughter. Other thoughts
Arose, when Casyapa declar’d her fate;
For she is one who groans beneath the power


Of the dread Rajah, terrible alike
To men and Gods. His son, dead Arvalan,
Arm’d with a portion, Indra, of thy power
Already wrested from thee, persecutes
The Maid, the helpless one, the innocent.
What then behov’d me but to waft her here
To my own Bower of Bliss? what other choice?
The spirit of foul Arvalan, not yet
Hath power to enter here; here thou art yet
Supreme, and yet the Swerga is thine own.


No child of man, Ereenia, in the Bowers
Of Bliss may sojourn, till he hath put off
His mortal part; for on mortality
Time and Infirmity and Death attend,
Close followers they, and in their mournful train
Sorrow and Pain and Mutability:
Did they find entrance here, we should behold
Our joys, like earthly summers, pass away.
Those joys perchance may pass; a stronger hand
May wrest my sceptre, and unparadise
The Swerga; . . . but, Ereenia, if we fall,
Let it be Fate’s own arm that casts us down,


We will not rashly hasten and provoke
The blow, nor bring ourselves the ruin on.


Fear courts the blow. Fear brings the ruin on.
Needs must the chariot-wheels of Destiny
Crush him who throws himself before their track,
Patient and prostrate.


All may yet be well.
Who knows but Veeshnoo will descend, and save,
Once more incarnate?


Look not there for help,
Nor build on unsubstantial hope thy trust!
Our Father Casyapa hath said he turns
His doubtful eyes to Seeva, even as thou
Dost look to him for aid. But thine own strength
Should for thine own salvation be put forth;
Then might the higher powers approving see
And bless the brave resolve . . . Oh, that my arm
Could wield yon lightnings which play idly there,


In inoffensive radiance, round thy head!
The Swerga should not need a champion now,
Nor Earth implore deliverance still in vain!


Thinkest thou I want the will? rash Son of Heaven,
What if my arm be feeble as thine own
Against the dread Kehama? He went on
Conquering in irresistible career,
Till his triumphant car had measur’d o’er
The insufficient earth, and all the kings
Of men received his yoke; then had he won
His will, to ride upon their necks elate,
And crown his conquests with the sacrifice
That should, to men and gods, proclaim him Lord
And Sovereign Master of the vassal World,
Sole Rajah, the Omnipotent below.
The steam of that portentous sacrifice
Arose to Heaven. Then was the hour to strike.
Then in the consummation of his pride,
His height of glory, then the thunder-bolt
Should have gone forth, and hurl’d him from his throne
Down to the fiery floor of Padalon,
To everlasting burnings, agony


Eternal, and remorse which knows no end.
That hour went by: grown impious in success,
By prayer and penances he wrested now
Such power from Fate, that soon, if Seeva turn not
His eyes on earth, and no Avatar save,
Soon will he seize the Swerga for his own,
Roll on through Padalon his chariot wheels,
Tear up the adamantine bolts which lock
The accurst Asuras to its burning floor,
And force the drink of Immortality
From Yamen’s charge . . . Vain were it now to strive;
My thunder cannot pierce the sphere of power
Wherewith, as with a girdle, he is bound.


Take me to earth, O gentle Deveta!
Take me again to earth! This is no place
Of hope for me! . . . my Father still must bear
His curse . . . he shall not bear it all alone;
Take me to earth, that I may follow him! . . .
I do not fear the Almighty Man! the Gods
Are feeble here; but there are higher powers
Who will not turn their eyes from wrongs like ours;
Take me to earth, O gentle Deveta! . . .



Saying thus she knelt, and to his knees she clung,
And bow’d her head, in tears and silence praying.
Rising anon, around his neck she flung
Her arms, and there with folded hands she hung,
And fixing on the guardian Glendoveer
Her eyes, more eloquent than Angel’s tongue,
Again she cried, There is no comfort here!
I must be with my Father in his pain . . .
Take me to earth, O Deveta, again!


Indra with admiration heard the maid.
O Child of Earth, he cried,
Already in thy spirit thus divine,
Whatever weal or woe betide,
Be that high sense of duty still thy guide,
And all good Powers will aid a soul like thine.
Then turning to Ereenia, thus he said,
Take her where Ganges hath its second birth,
Below our sphere, and yet above the earth:
There may Ladurlad rest beyond the power
Of the dread Rajah, till the fated hour.




Dost thou tremble, O Indra, O God of the Sky,
Why slumber those thunders of thine?
Dost thou tremble on high, . . .
Wilt thou tamely the Swerga resign, . . .
Art thou smitten, O Indra, with dread?
Or seest thou not, seest thou not, Monarch divine,
How many a day to Seeva’s shrine
Kehama his victim hath led?
Nine and ninety days are fled,
Nine and ninety steeds have bled;
One more, the rite will be complete,
One victim more; and this the dreadful day!


Then will the impious Rajah seize thy seat,
And wrest the thunder-sceptre from thy sway.
Along the mead the hallowed steed
Yet bends at liberty his way;
At noon his consummating blood will flow.
O day of woe! above, below,
That blood confirms the Almighty Tyrant’s reign!
Thou tremblest, O Indra, O God of the Sky,
Thy thunder is vain!
Thou tremblest on high for thy power!
But where is Veeshnoo at this hour?
But where is Seeva’s eye?
Is the Destroyer blind?
Is the Preserver careless for mankind?


Along the mead the hallowed Steed
Still wanders wheresoever he will,
O’er hill, or dale, or plain;
No human hand hath trick’d that mane
From which he shakes the morning dew;
His mouth has never felt the rein,
His lips have never froth’d the chain;
For pure of blemish and of stain,


His neck unbroke to mortal yoke,
Like Nature free the Steed must be,
Fit offering for the Immortals he.
A year and day the Steed must stray
Wherever chance may guide his way,
Before he fall at Seeva’s shrine;
The year and day have past away,
Nor touch of man hath marr’d the rite divine.
And now at noon the Steed must bleed;
The perfect rite to-day must force the meed
Which Fate reluctant shudders to bestow;
Then must the Swerga-God
Yield to the Tyrant of the World below;
Then must the Devetas obey
The Rajah’s rod, and groan beneath his hateful sway.


The Sun rides high; the hour is nigh;
The multitude who long,
Lest aught should mar the rite,
In circle wide on every side,
Have kept the Steed in sight,
Contract their circle now, and drive him on.
Drawn in long files before the Temple-court,


The Rajah’s archers flank an ample space;
Here, moving onward still, they drive him near,
Then, opening, give him way to enter here.


Behold him, how he starts and flings his head!
On either side in glittering order spread,
The archers ranged in narrowing lines appear;
The multitude behind close up the rear
With moon-like bend, and silently await
The awful end,
The rite that shall from Indra wrest his power.
In front, with far-stretch’d walls, and many a tower
Turret and dome and pinnacle elate,
The huge Pagoda seems to load the land:
And there before the gate
The Bramin band expectant stand,
The axe is ready for Kehama’s hand.


Hark! at the Golden Palaces
The Bramin strikes the time!
One, two, three, four, a thrice-told chime,
And then again, one, two.


The bowl that in its vessel floats, anew
Must fill and sink again,
Then will the final stroke be due.
The Sun rides high, the noon is nigh,
And silently, as if spell-bound,
The multitude expect the sound.


Lo! how the Steed, with sudden start,
Turns his quick head to every part;
Long files of men on every side appear.
The sight might well his heart affright,
And yet the silence that is here
Inspires a stranger fear;
For not a murmur, not a sound
Of breath or motion rises round,
No stir is heard in all that mighty crowd;
He neighs, and from the temple-wall
The voice re-echoes loud,
Loud and distinct, as from a hill
Across a lonely vale, when all is still.


Within the temple, on his golden throne


Reclin’d, Kehama lies,
Watching with steady eyes
The perfum’d light that, burning bright,
Metes out the passing hours.
On either hand his eunuchs stand,
Freshening with fans of peacock-plumes the air,
Which, redolent of all rich gums and flowers,
Seems, overcharged with sweets, to stagnate there.
Lo! the time-taper’s flame ascending slow
Creeps up its coil toward the fated line;
Kehama rises and goes forth,
And from the altar, ready where it lies,
He takes the axe of sacrifice.


That, instant from the crowd, with sudden shout,
A man sprang out
To lay upon the Steed his hand profane.
A thousand archers, with unerring eye,
At once let fly,
And with their hurtling arrows fill the sky.
In vain they fall upon him fast as rain;
He bears a charmed life, which may defy
All weapons, . . . and the darts that whizz around,


As from an adamantine panoply
Repell’d, fall idly to the ground.
Kehama clasp’d his hands in agony,
And saw him grasp the hallowed courser’s mane,
Spring up with sudden bound,
And with a frantic cry,
And madman’s gesture, gallop round and round.


They seize, they drag him to the Rajah’s feet.
What doom will now be his, . . what vengeance meet
Will he, who knows no mercy, now require?
The obsequious guards around, with blood-hound eye,
Look for the word, in slow-consuming fire,
By piece-meal death, to make the wretch expire,
Or hoist his living carcase, hook’d on high,
To feed the fowls and insects of the sky;
Or if aught worse inventive cruelty
To that remorseless heart of royalty
Might prompt, accursed instruments they stand
To work the wicked will with wicked hand.
Far other thoughts were in the multitude;
Pity, and human feelings, held them still;
And stifled sighs and groans supprest were there,


And many a secret curse and inward prayer
Call’d on the insulted Gods to save mankind.
Expecting some new crime in fear they stood,
Some horror which would make the natural blood
Start, with cold shudderings thrill the sinking heart,
Whiten the lip, and make the abhorrent eye
Roll back and close, prest in for agony.


How then fared he for whom the mighty crowd
Suffered in spirit thus, . . . how then fared he?
A ghastly smile was on his lip, his eye
Glared with a ghastly hope, as he drew nigh,
And cried aloud, Yes, Rajah! it is I!
And wilt thou kill me now?
The countenance of the Almighty Man
Fell when he knew Ladurlad, and his brow
Was clouded with despite, as one ashamed.
That wretch again! indignant he exclaim’d,
And smote his forehead, and stood silently
Awhile in wrath: then, with ferocious smile,
And eyes which seem’d to darken his dark cheek,
Let him go free! he cried; he hath his Curse,
And Vengeance upon him can wreak no worse . . .


But ye who did not seize him . . . tremble ye!


He bade the archers pile their weapons there:
No manly courage fill’d the slavish band,
No sweetening vengeance rous’d a brave despair.
He call’d his horsemen then, and gave command
To hem the offenders in, and hew them down.
Ten thousand scymitars at once uprear’d,
Flash up, like waters sparkling to the sun;
A second time the fatal brands appear’d
Lifted aloft, . . . they glitter’d then no more,
Their light was gone, their splendour quenched in gore.
At noon the massacre begun,
And night clos’d in before the work of death was done.




The steam of slaughter from that place of blood
Spread o’er the tainted sky.
Vultures, for whom the Rajah’s tyranny
So oft had furnish’d food, from far and nigh
Sped to the lure: aloft with joyful cry,
Wheeling around, they hover’d over head;
Or, on the temple perch’d, with greedy eye,
Impatient watch’d the dead.
Far off the tygers, in the inmost wood,
Heard the death-shriek, and snuff’d the scent of blood.
They rose, and through the covert went their way,
Couch’d at the forest edge, and waited for their prey.



He who had sought for death went wandering on,
The hope which had inspir’d his heart was gone,
Yet a wild joyance still inflam’d his face,
A smile of vengeance, a triumphant glow.
Where goes he? . . . Whither should Ladurlad go!
Unwittingly the wretch’s footsteps trace
Their wonted path toward his dwelling-place;
And wandering on, unknowing where,
He starts at finding he is there.


Behold his lowly home,
By yonder broad-bough’d plane o’ershaded:
There Marriataly’s image stands,
And there the garland twin’d by Kailyal’s hands
Around its brow hath faded.
The Peacocks, at their master’s sight,
Quick from the leafy thatch alight,
And hurry round, and search the ground,
And veer their glancing necks from side to side,
Expecting from his hand
Their daily dole, which erst the maid supplied,
Now all too long denied.



But as he gaz’d around,
How strange did all accustom’d sights appear!
How differently did each familiar sound
Assail his altered ear!
Here stood the marriage bower,
Rear’d in that happy hour
When he, with festal joy and youthful pride,
Had brought Yedillian home, his beauteous bride.
Leaves not its own, and many a borrowed flower,
Had then bedeck’d it, withering ere the night;
But he who look’d, from that auspicious day,
For years of long delight,
And would not see the marriage-bower decay,
There planted and nurst up, with daily care,
The sweetest herbs that scent the ambient air,
And train’d them round to live and flourish there.
Nor when dread Yamen’s will
Had call’d Yedillian from his arms away,
Ceas’d he to tend the marriage-bower, but still,
Sorrowing, had drest it like a pious rite
Due to the monument of past delight.


He took his wonted seat before the door, . . .


Even as of yore,
When he was wont to view, with placid eyes,
His daughter at her evening sacrifice.
Here were the flowers which she so carefully
Did love to rear for Marriataly’s brow;
Neglected now,
Their heavy heads were drooping, over-blown:
All else appeared the same as heretofore,
All . . . save himself alone;
How happy then, . . . and now a wretch for evermore!


The market-flag which hoisted high,
From far and nigh,
Above yon cocoa grove is seen,
Hangs motionless amid the sultry sky.
Loud sounds the village-drum: a happy crowd
Is there; Ladurlad hears their distant voices,
But with their joy no more his heart rejoices;
And how their old companion now may fare,
Little they know, and less they care.
The torment he is doom’d to hear
Was but to them the wonder of a day,
A burthen of sad thoughts soon put away.



They knew not that the wretched man was near,
And yet it seem’d, to his distempered ear,
As if they wrong’d him with their merriment.
Resentfully he turn’d away his eyes,
Yet turn’d them but to find
Sights that enraged his mind
With envious grief more wild and overpowering.
The tank which fed his fields was there, and there
The large-leav’d lotus on the waters flowering.
There, from the intolerable heat,
The buffaloes retreat;
Only their nostrils rais’d to meet the air,
Amid the sheltering element they rest.
Impatient of the sight, he clos’d his eyes,
And bow’d his burning head, and in despair
Calling on Indra, . . . Thunder-God! he said,
Thou owest to me alone this day thy throne,
Be grateful, and in mercy strike me dead!


Despair had rous’d him to that hopeless prayer,
Yet thinking on the heavenly Powers, his mind
Drew comfort; and he rose and gather’d flowers,


And twin’d a crown for Marriataly’s brow;
And taking then her withered garland down,
Replaced it with the blooming coronal.
Not for myself, the unhappy Father cried,
Not for myself, O mighty one! I pray,
Accursed as I am beyond thy aid!
But, oh! be gracious still to that dear Maid
Who crown’d thee with these garlands day by day,
And danced before thee aye at even-tide
In beauty and in pride.
O Marriataly, wheresoe’er she stray
Forlorn and wretched, still be thou her guide!


A loud and fiendish laugh replied,
Scoffing his prayer. Aloft, as from the air,
The sound of insult came: he look’d, and there
The visage of dead Arvalan came forth,
Only his face amid the clear blue sky,
With long-drawn lips of insolent mockery,
And eyes whose lurid glare
Was like a sulphur fire,
Mingling with darkness ere its flames expire.



Ladurlad knew him well: enraged to see
The cause of all his misery,
He stoop’d and lifted from the ground
A stake, whose fatal point was black with blood;
The same wherewith his hand had dealt the wound,
When Arvalan, in hour with evil fraught,
For violation seiz’d the shrieking Maid.
Thus arm’d, in act again to strike he stood,
And twice with inefficient wrath essay’d
To smite the impassive shade.
The lips of scorn their mockery-laugh renew’d,
And Arvalan put forth a hand and caught
The sun-beam, and condensing there its light,
Upon Ladurlad turn’d the burning stream.
Vain cruelty! the stake
Fell in white ashes from his hold, but he
Endur’d no added pain; his agony
Was full, and at the height;
The burning stream of radiance nothing harm’d him:
A fire was in his heart and brain,
And from all other flame
Kehama’s Curse had charm’d him.



Anon the Spirit wav’d a second hand;
Down rush’d the obedient whirlwind from the sky;
Scoop’d up the sand like smoke, and from on high
Shed the hot shower upon Ladurlad’s head.
Where’er he turns, the accursed Hand is there;
East, West, and North and South, on every side
The Hand accursed waves in air to guide
The dizzying storm; ears, nostrils, eyes and mouth,
It fills and choaks, and, clogging every pore,
Taught him new torments might be yet in store.
Where shall he turn to fly? behold his house
In flames; uprooted lies the marriage-bower,
The Goddess buried by the sandy shower.
Blindly, with staggering step, he reels about,
And still the accursed Hand pursued,
And still the lips of scorn their mockery laugh renew’d.


What, Arvalan! hast thou so soon forgot
The grasp of Pollear? Wilt thou still defy
The righteous Powers of Heaven? or know’st thou not
That there are yet superior Powers on high,


Son of the Wicked? . . . Lo, in rapid flight,
Ereenia hastens from the etherial height;
Bright is the sword celestial in his hand,
Like lightning in its path athwart the sky.
He comes and drives, with angel-arm, the blow.
Oft have the Asuras, in the wars of Heaven,
Felt that keen sword by arm angelic driven,
And fled before it from the fields of light.
Thrice through the vulnerable shade
The Glendoveer impels the griding blade.
The wicked Shade flies howling from his foe.
So let that spirit foul
Fly, and for impotence of anger, howl,
Writhing with pain, and o’er his wounds deplore;
Worse punishment hath Arvalan deserv’d,
And righteous Fate hath heavier doom in store.


Not now the Glendoveer pursued his flight.
He bade the Ship of Heaven alight,
And gently there he laid
The astonished Father by the happy Maid,
The Maid now shedding tears of deep delight.


Beholding all things with incredulous eyes,
Still dizzy with the sand-storm, there he lay,
While sailing up the skies, the living Bark,
Through air and sunshine, held its heavenly way.




Swift through the sky the vessel of the Suras
Sails up the fields of ether like an Angel.
Rich is the freight, O Vessel, that thou bearest!
Beauty and Virtue,
Fatherly cares and filial veneration,
Hearts which are prov’d and strengthen’d by affliction,
Manly resentment, fortitude and action,
Womanly goodness;
All with which Nature halloweth her daughters,
Tenderness, truth and purity and meekness,
Piety, patience, faith and resignation,


Love and devotement.
Ship of the Gods! how richly art thou laden!
Proud of the charge, thou voyagest rejoicing.
Clouds float around to honour thee, and Evening
Lingers in heaven.


A Stream descends on Meru mountain;
None hath seen its secret fountain;
It had its birth, so sages say,
Upon the memorable day
When Parvati presumed to lay,
In wanton play,
Her hands, too venturous Goddess in her mirth,
On Seeva’s eyes, the light and life of Earth.
Thereat the heart of the Universe stood still;
The Elements ceas’d their influences; the Hours
Stopt on the eternal round; Motion and Breath,
Time, Change, and Life and Death,
In sudden trance opprest, forgot their powers.
A moment, and the dread eclipse was ended;
But, at the thought of Nature thus suspended,
The sweat on Seeva’s forehead stood,
And Ganges thence upon the World descended,


The Holy River, the Redeeming Flood.


None hath seen its secret fountain;
But on the top of Meru mountain,
Which rises o’er the hills of earth,
In light and clouds it hath its mortal birth.
Earth seems that pinnacle to rear
Sublime above this worldly sphere,
Its cradle, and its altar, and its throne;
And there the new-born River lies
Outspread beneath its native skies,
As if it there would love to dwell
Alone and unapproachable.
Soon flowing forward, and resign’d
To the will of the Creating Mind,
It springs at once, with sudden leap,
Down from the immeasurable steep.
From rock to rock, with shivering force rebounding,
The mighty cataract rushes; Heaven around,
Like-thunder, with the incessant roar resounding,
And Meru’s summit shaking with the sound.
Wide spreads the snowy foam, the sparkling spray
Dances aloft; and ever there, at morning,


The earliest, sun-beams haste to wing their way,
With rain-bow wreaths the holy flood adorning;
And duly the adoring Moon at night
Sheds her white glory there,
And in the watery air
Suspends her halo-crowns of silver light.


A mountain-valley in its blessed breast
Receives the stream, which there delights to lie,
Untroubled and at rest,
Beneath the untainted sky.
There in a lovely lake it seems to sleep,
And thence, through many a channel dark and deep,
Their secret way the holy Waters wind,
Till, rising underneath the root
Of the Tree of Life on Himakoot,
Majestic forth they flow to purify mankind.


Toward this Lake, above the nether sphere,
The living Bark, with angel eye,
Directs its course along the obedient sky.
Kehama hath not yet dominion here;


And till the dreaded hour,
When Indra by the Rajah shall be driven
Dethron’d from Heaven,
Here may Ladurlad rest beyond his power.
The living Bark alights; the Glendoveer
Then lays Ladurlad by the blessed Lake; . . .
O happy Sire, and yet more happy Daughter!
The etherial gales his agony aslake,
His daughter’s tears are on his cheek,
His hand is in the water;
The innocent man, the man opprest,
Oh joy! . . . hath found a place of rest
Beyond Kehama’s sway,
His curse extends not here; his pains have past away.


O happy Sire, and happy Daughter!
Ye on the banks of that celestial water
Your resting place and sanctuary have found.
What! hath not then their mortal taint defil’d
The sacred solitary ground?
Vain thought! . . the Holy Valley smil’d
Receiving such a sire and child;
Ganges, who seem’d asleep to lie,


Beheld them with benignant eye,
And ripped round melodiously,
And roll’d her little waves, to meet
And welcome their beloved feet.
The gales of Swerga thither fled,
And heavenly odours there were shed
About, below, and overhead;
And Earth, rejoicing in their tread,
Hath built them up a blooming Bower,
Where every amaranthine flower
Its deathless blossom interweaves
With bright and undecaying leaves.


Three happy beings are there here,
The Sire, the Maid, the Glendoveer.
A fourth approaches, . . . who is this
That enters in the Bower of Bliss?
No form so fair might painter find
Among the daughters of mankind;
For death her beauties hath refin’d,
And unto her a form hath given,
Fram’d of the elements of Heaven;
Pure dwelling-place for perfect mind.


She stood and gaz’d on sire and child;
Her tongue not yet had power to speak,
The tears were streaming down her cheek;
And when those tears her sight beguil’d,
And still her faultering accents fail’d,
The Spirit, mute and motionless,
Spread out her arms for the caress,
Made still and silent with excess
Of love and painful happiness.


The Maid that lovely form survey’d;
Wistful she gaz’d, and knew her not;
But Nature to her heart convey’d
A sudden thrill, a startling thought,
A feeling many a year forgot,
Now like a dream anew recurring,
As if again in every vein
Her mother’s milk was stirring.
With straining neck and earnest eye
She stretch’d her hands imploringly,
As if she fain would have her nigh,
Yet fear’d to meet the wish’d embrace,
At once with love and awe opprest,


Not so, Ladurlad; he could trace,
Though brighten’d with angelic grace,
His own Yedillian’s earthly face;
He ran and held her to his breast!
Oh joy above all joys of Heaven,
By Death alone to others given,
This moment hath to him restor’d
The early-lost, the long-deplor’d.


They sin who tell us love can die.
With life all other passions fly,
All others are but vanity.
In Heaven Ambition cannot dwell,
Nor Avarice in the vaults of Hell;
Earthly these passions of the Earth,
They perish where they have their birth;
But Love is indestructible.
Its holy flame for ever burneth,
From Heaven it came, to Heaven returneth;
Too oft on Earth a troubled guest,
At times deceiv’d, at times opprest,
It here is tried and purified,
Then hath in Heaven its perfect rest:


It soweth here with toil and care,
But the harvest-time of Love is there.
Oh! when a Mother meets on high
The Babe she lost in infancy,
Hath she not then, for pains and fears,
The day of woe, the watchful night,
For all her sorrow, all her tears,
An over-payment of delight!


A blessed family is this
Assembled in the Bower of Bliss!
Strange woe, Ladurlad, hath been thine,
And pangs beyond all human measure,
And thy reward is now divine,
A foretaste of eternal pleasure.
He knew indeed there was a day
When all these joys would pass away,
And he must quit this blest abode;
And, taking up again the spell,
Groan underneath the baleful load,
And wander o’er the world again
Most wretched of the sons of men:
Yet was this brief repose, as when


A traveller in the Arabian sands,
Half-fainting on his sultry road,
Hath reach’d the water-place at last;
And resting there beside the Well,
Thinks of the perils he has past,
And gazes o’er the unbounded plain,
The plain which must be travers’d still,
And drinks, . . . yet cannot drink his fill;
Then girds his patient loins again.
So to Ladurlad now was given
New strength, and confidence in Heaven,
And hope, and faith invincible.
For often would Ereenia tell
Of what in elder days befell,
When other Tyrants, in their might,
Usurp’d dominion o’er the earth;
And Veeshnoo took a human birth,
Deliverer of the Sons of men;
And slew the huge Ermaccasen,
And piece-meal rent, with lion force,
Errenen’s accursed corse,
And humbled Baly in his pride;
And when the Giant Ravanen
Had borne triumphant, from his side,


Sita, the earth-born God’s beloved bride,
Then, from his island-kingdom, laugh’d to scorn
The insulted husband, and his power defied;
How to revenge the wrong in wrath he hied,
Bridging the sea before his dreadful way,
And met the hundred-headed foe,
And dealt him the unerring blow;
By Brama’s hand the righteous lance was given,
And by that arm immortal driven,
It laid the mighty Tyrant low;
And Earth and Ocean, and high Heaven,
Rejoiced to see his overthrow.
Oh! doubt not thou, Yedillian cried,
Such fate Kehama will betide;
For there are Gods who look below. . . .
Seeva, the Avenger, is not blind,
Nor Veeshnoo careless for mankind.


Thus was Ladurlad’s soul imbued
With hope and holy fortitude;
And Child and Sire, with pious mind
Alike resolv’d, alike resign’d,
Look’d onward to the evil day:


Faith was their comfort, Faith their stay;
They trusted woe would pass away,
And Tyranny would sink subdued,
And Evil yield to Good.


Lovely wert thou, O Flower of Earth!
Above all flowers of mortal birth;
But foster’d in this blissful bower
From day to day, and hour to hour,
Lovelier grew the lovely flower.
O blessed, blessed company!
When men and heavenly spirits greet,
And they whom Death had severed meet,
And hold again communion sweet; . . .
O blessed, blessed company!
The Sun, careering round the sky,
Beheld them with rejoicing eye,
And bade his willing Charioteer
Relax their speed as they drew near;
Arounin check’d the rainbow reins,
The seven green coursers shook their manes,
And brighter rays around them threw;
The Car of glory in their view


More radiant, more resplendent grew;
And Surya, through his veil of light,
Beheld the Bower, and blest the sight.
The Lord of Night, as he sail’d by,
Stay’d his pearly boat on high;
And, while around the blissful Bower
He bade the softest moonlight flow,
Lingered to see that earthly flower,
Forgetful of his dragon foe,
Who, mindful of their ancient feud,
With open jaws of rage pursued.
There all good Spirits of the air,
Suras and Devetas repair,
Aloft they love to hover there
And view the flower of mortal birth,
Here, for her innocence and worth,
Transplanted from the fields of earth; . . .
And him who, on the dreadful day
When Heaven was fill’d with consternation,
And Indra trembled with dismay,
And, for the sounds of joy and mirth,
Woe was heard and lamentation,
Defied the Rajah in his pride,
Though all in Heaven and Earth beside
Stood mute in dolorous expectation;


And, rushing forward in that hour,
Saved the Swerga from his power.
Grateful for this they hover nigh,
And bless the blessed company.


One God alone, with wanton eye,
Beheld them in their bower;
O ye, he cried, who have defied
The Rajah, will ye mock my power?
’Twas Camdeo riding on his lory,
’Twas the immortal youth of Love;
If men below and Gods above,
Subject alike, quoth he, have felt these darts,
Shall ye alone, of all in story,
Boast impenetrable hearts?
Hover here, my gentle lory,
Gently hover, while I see
To whom hath Fate decreed the glory,
To the Glendoveer or me.


Then, in the dewy evening sky,
The bird of gorgeous plumery
Pois’d his wings and hover’d nigh.


It chanced at that delightful hour
Kailyal sate before the Bower,
On the green bank with amaranth sweet,
Where Ganges warbled at her feet.
Ereenia there, before the Maid,
His sails of ocean-blue displayed;
And sportive in her sight,
Mov’d slowly o’er the lake with gliding flight;
Anon, with sudden stroke and strong,
In rapid course careering, swept along;
Now shooting downward from his heavenly height,
Plunged in the deep below,
Then rising, soar’d again,
And shook the sparkling waters off like rain,
And hovering o’er the silver surface hung.
At him young Camdeo bent the bow;
With living bees the bow was strung,
The fatal bow of sugar-cane,
And flowers which would inflame the heart
With their petals barb’d the dart.


The shaft, unerringly addrest,
Unerring flew, and smote Ereenia’s breast.
Ah, Wanton! cried the Glendoveer,


Go aim at idler hearts,
Thy skill is baffled here!
A deeper love I bear that Maid divine,
Sprung from a higher will,
A holier power than thine!
A second shaft, while thus Ereenia cried,
Had Camdeo aim’d at Kailyal’s side,
But, lo! the Bees which strung his bow
Broke off, and took their flight.
To that sweet Flower of earth they wing their way,
Around her raven tresses play,
And buzz about her with delight,
As if, with that melodious sound,
They strove to pay their willing duty
To mortal purity and beauty.
Ah, Wanton! cried the Glendoveer,
No power hast thou for mischief here!
Chuse thou some idler breast,
For these are proof, by nobler thoughts possest.
Go, to thy plains of Matra go,
And string again thy broken bow!


Rightly Ereenia spake; and ill had thoughts
Of earthly love beseem’d the sanctuary


Where Kailyal had been wafted, that the Soul
Of her dead mother there might strengthen her,
Feeding her with the milk of heavenly lore;
And influxes of Heaven imbue her heart
With hope and faith, and holy fortitude,
Against the evil day. Here rest a while
In peace, O Father! mark’d for misery
Above all sons of men; O Daughter! doom’d
For sufferings and for trials above all
Of women; . . . yet both favour’d, both belov’d
By all good Powers, here rest a while in peace.




When from the sword, by arm angelic driven,
Foul Arvalan fled howling, wild in pain,
His thin essential spirit, rent and riven
With wounds, united soon and heal’d again;
Backward the accursed turn’d his eye in flight,
Remindful of revengeful thoughts even then,
And saw where, gliding through the evening light,
The Ship of Heaven sail’d upward through the sky,
Then, like a meteor, vanish’d from his sight.
Where should he follow? vainly might he try
To trace through trackless air its rapid course;


Nor dar’d he that; angelic arm defy,
Still sore and writhing from its dreaded force.


Should he the lust of vengeance lay aside?
Too long had Arvalan in ill been train’d;
Nurst up in power and tyranny and pride,
His soul the ignominious thought disdain’d.
Or to his mighty father should he go,
Complaining of defeature twice sustain’d,
And ask new powers to meet the immortal foe? . . .
Repulse he fear’d not, but he fear’d rebuke,
And sham’d to tell him of his overthrow.
There dwelt a dread Enchantress in a nook
Obscure; old help-mate she to him had been,
Lending her aid in many a secret sin;
And there, for counsel, now his way he took.


She was a woman whose unlovely youth,
Even like a cankered rose, which none will cull,
Had withered on the stalk; her heart was full
Of passions which had found no natural scope,
Feelings which there had grown but ripened not;


Desires unsatisfied, abortive hope,
Repinings which provoked vindictive thought,
These restless elements for ever wrought,
Fermenting in her with perpetual stir,
And thus her spirit to all evil mov’d;
She hated men because they lov’d not her,
And hated women because they were lov’d.
And thus, in wrath and hatred and despair,
She tempted Hell to tempt her; and resign’d
Her body to the Demons of the Air,
Wicked and wanton fiends who, where they will,
Wander abroad, still seeking to do ill,
And take whatever vacant form they find,
Carcase of man or beast, that life hath left;
Foul instrument for them of fouler mind.
To these the Witch her wretched body gave,
So they would wreak her vengeance on mankind,
She thus at once their mistress and their slave;
And they, to do such service nothing loth,
Obeyed her bidding, slaves and masters both.


So from this cursed intercourse she caught
Contagious power of mischief, and was taught


Such secrets as are damnable to guess.
Is there a child whose little lovely ways
Might win all hearts, . . . on whom his parents gaze
Till they shed tears of joy and tenderness?
Oh! hide him from that Witch’s withering sight!
Oh! hide him from the eye of Lorrinite!
Her look hath crippling in it, and her curse
All plagues which on mortality can light;
Death is his doom if she behold, . . . or worse, . . .
Diseases loathsome and incurable,
And inward sufferings that no tongue can tell.
Woe was to him, on whom that eye of hate
Was bent; for, certain as the stroke of Fate,
It did its mortal work; nor human arts
Could save the unhappy wretch, her chosen prey;
For gazing, she consum’d his vital parts,
Eating his very core of life away.
The wine which from yon wounded palm on high
Fills yonder gourd, as slowly it distills,
Grows sour at once if Lorrinite pass by.
The deadliest worm, from which all creatures fly,
Fled from the deadlier venom of her eye;
The babe unborn, within its mother’s womb,
Started and trembled when the Witch came nigh,


And in the silent chambers of the tomb
Death shuddered her unholy tread to hear,
And, from the dry and mouldering bones, did fear
Force a cold sweat, when Lorrinite was near.


Power made her haughty: by ambition fir’d,
Ere long to mightier mischiefs she aspir’d.
The Calis, who o’er Cities rule unseen,
Each in her own domain a Demon Queen,
And there ador’d with blood and human life,
They knew her, and in their accurst employ
She stirr’d up neighbouring states to mortal strife.
Sani, the dreadful God, who rides abroad
Upon the King of the Ravens, to destroy
The offending sons of men, when his four hands
Were weary with their toil, would let her do
His work of vengeance upon guilty lands;
And Lorrinite, at his commandment, knew
When the ripe earthquake should be loos’d, and where
To point its course. And in the baneful air
The pregnant seeds of death he bade her strew,
All deadly plagues and pestilence to brew.
The Locusts were her army, and their bands,


Where’er she turn’d her skinny finger, flew;
The floods in ruin roll’d at her commands;
And when, in time of drought, the husbandman
Beheld the gathered rain about to fall,
Her breath would drive it to the desert sands.
While in the marshes parch’d and gaping soil,
The rice-roots by the searching Sun were dried;
And in lean groupes, assembled at the side
Of the empty tank, the cattle dropt and died;
And Famine, at her bidding, wasted wide
The wretched land; till, in the public way,
Promiscuous where the dead and dying lay,
Dogs fed on human bones in the open light of day.


Her secret cell the accursed Arvalan,
In quest of vengeance, sought, and thus began.
Mighty mother! mother wise!
Revenge me on my enemies.


Com’st thou, son, for aid to me?
Tell me who have injur’d thee,
Where they are, and who they be;


Of the Earth, or of the Sea,
Or of the aerial company?
Earth, nor Sea, nor Air is free
From the powers who wait on me,
And my tremendous witchery.


She for whom so ill I sped,
Whom my Father deemeth dead,
Lives, for Marriataly’s aid
From the water sav’d the maid.
In hatred I desire her still,
And in revenge would have my will.
A Deveta with, wings of blue,
And sword whose edge even now I rue,
In a Ship of Heaven on high,
Pilots her along the sky.
Where they voyage thou canst tell,
Mistress of the mighty spell.


At this the Witch, through shrivell’d lips and thin,
Sent forth a sound half-whistle and half-hiss.
Two winged Hands came in,


Armless and bodyless,
Bearing a globe of liquid crystal, set
In frame as diamond bright, yet black as jet.
A thousand eyes were quench’d in endless night,
To form that magic globe; for Lorrinite
Had, from their sockets, drawn the liquid sight,
And kneaded it, with re-creating skill,
Into this organ of her mighty will.
Look in yonder orb, she cried,
Tell me what is there descried.


A mountain top, in clouds of light
Envelop’d, rises on my sight;
Thence a cataract rushes down,
Hung with many a rainbow crown;
Light and clouds conceal its head,
Below, a silver Lake is spread;
Upon its shores a Bower I see,
Fit home for blessed company.
See they come forward, . . . one, two, three, . . .
The last a Maiden, . . . it is she!
The foremost shakes his wings of blue,
’Tis he whose sword even yet I rue;


And in that other one I know
The visage of my deadliest foe.
Mother, let thy magic might
Arm me for the mortal fight;
Helm and shield and mail afford,
Proof against his dreaded sword.
Then will I invade their seat,
Then shall vengeance be compleat.


Spirits, who obey my will,
Hear him, and his wish fulfill.


So spake the mighty one, nor farther spell
Needed. Anon a sound, like smother’d thunder,
Was heard, slow rolling under;
The solid pavement of the cell
Quak’d, heav’d, and cleft asunder,
And, at the feet of Arvalan display’d,
Helmet and mail and shield and scymitar were laid.


The Asuras, often put to flight,


And scattered in the fields of light,
By their foes’ celestial might,
Forged this enchanted armour for the fight.
’Mid fires intense did they anneal,
In mountain furnaces, the quivering steel,
Till trembling through each deepening hue,
It settled in a midnight blue;
Last they cast it, to aslake,
In the penal icy lake.
Then, they consign’d it to the Giant brood;
And, while they forged the impenetrable arms,
The Evil Powers, to oversee them, stood,
And there imbued
The work of Giant strength with magic charms.
Foul Arvalan, with joy, survey’d
The crescent sabre’s cloudy blade,
With deeper joy the impervious mail,
The shield and helmet of avail.
Soon did he himself array,
And bade her speed him on his way.


Then she led him to the den,
Where her chariot, night and day,


Stood harness’d, ready for the way.
Two Dragons, yok’d in adamant, convey
The magic car; from either collar sprung
An adamantine rib, which met in air,
O’er-arch’d, and crost, and bent diverging there,
And firmly in its arc upbore,
Upon their brazen necks, thereat of power.
Arvalan mounts the car, and in his hand
Receives the magic reins from Lorrinite;
The dragons, long obedient to command,
Their ample sails expand;
Like steeds well-broken to fair lady’s hand,
They feel the reins of might,
And up the northern sky begin their flight.


Son of the Wicked, doth thy soul delight
To think its hour of vengeance now is nigh?
Lo! where the far-off light
Of Indra’s palace flashes on his sight,
And Meru’s heavenly summit shines on high,
With clouds of glory bright,
Amid the dark-blue sky.
Already, in his hope, doth he espy


Himself secure in mail of tenfold charms,
Ereenia writhing from the magic blade,
The Father sent to bear his Curse, . . . the Maid
Resisting vainly in his impious arms.


Ah, Sinner! whose anticipating soul
Incurs the guilt even when the crime is spar’d!
Joyous toward Meru’s summit on he far’d,
While the twin Dragons, rising as he guides,
With steady flight, steer northward for the pole.
Anon, with irresistible controul,
Force mightier far than his arrests their course;
It wrought as though a Power unseen had caught
Their adamantine yokes to drag them on.
Straight on they bend their way, and now, in vain,
Upward doth Arvalan direct the rein!
The rein of magic might avails no more;
Bootless its strength against that unseen Power
Which, in their mid career,
Hath seiz’d the Chariot and the Charioteer.
With hands resisting, and down-pressing feet
Upon their hold insisting,
He struggles to maintain his difficult seat.


Seeking in vain with that strange Power to vie,
Their doubled speed the affrighted Dragons try.
Forced in a stream from whence was no retreat,
Strong as they are, behold, them whirled along,
Headlong, with useless pennons, through the sky.


What power was that, which, with resistless might
Foil’d the dread magic thus of Lorrinite?
’Twas all-commanding Nature . . They were here
Within the sphere of the adamantine rocks
Which gird Mount Meru round, as far below
That heavenly height where Ganges hath its birth
Involv’d in clouds and light,
So far above its roots of ice and snow.
On . . on they roll, . . rapt headlong they roll on; . .
The lost canoe, less rapidly than this,
Down the precipitous stream is whirl’d along
To the brink of Niagara’s dread abyss.
On . . on . . they roll, and now, with shivering shock,
Are dash’d against the rock that girds the Pole.
Down from his shatter’d mail the unhappy Soul
Is dropt, . . ten thousand thousand fathoms down, . . .
Till in an ice-rift, ’mid the eternal snow,


Foul Arvalan is stopt. There let him howl,
Groan there, . . and there, with unavailing moan,
For aid on his Almighty Father call.
All human sounds are lost
Amid those deserts of perpetual frost,
Old Winter’s drear domain,
Beyond the limits of the living World,
Beyond Kehama’s reign.
Of utterance and of motion soon bereft,
Frozen to the ice-rock, there behold him lie,
Only the painful sense of Being left,
A Spirit who must feel, and cannot die,
Bleaching and bare beneath the polar sky.




O ye who, by the Lake
On Meru Mount, partake
The joys which Heaven hath destin’d for the blest,
Swift, swift, the moments fly,
The silent hours go by,
And ye must leave your dear abode of rest.
O wretched Man, prepare
Again thy Curse to bear!
Prepare, O wretched Maid, for farther woe!
The fatal hour draws near,
When Indra’s heavenly sphere
Must own the Tyrant of the World below.


To-day the hundredth Steed,
At Seeva’s shrine, must bleed,
The dreadful sacrifice is full to-day;
Nor man nor God hath power,
At this momentous hour,
Again to save the Swerga from his sway.
Fresh woes, O Maid divine,
Fresh trials must be thine;
And what must thou, Ladurlad, yet endure!
But let your hearts be strong,
And bear ye bravely on,
For Providence is good, and virtue is secure.


They, little deeming that the fatal day
Was come, beheld where, through the morning sky,
A Ship of Heaven drew nigh.
Onward they watch it steer its steady flight;
Till, wondering, they espy
Old Casyapa, the Sire of Gods, alight.
But, when Ereenia saw the Sire appear,
At that unwonted and unwelcome sight
His heart receiv’d a sudden shock of fear:
Thy presence doth its doleful tidings tell,


O Father! cried the startled Glendoveer,
The dreadful hour is near! I know it well!
Not for less import would the Sire of Gods
Forsake his ancient and august abodes.


Even so: serene the immortal Sire replies;
Soon like an earthquake will ye feel the blow
Which consummates the mighty sacrifice:
And this World, and its Heaven, and all therein
Are then Kehama’s. To the second ring
Of these seven Spheres, the Swerga-King,
Even now, prepares for flight, . .
Beyond the circle of the conquer’d world,
Beyond the Rajah’s might.
Ocean, that clips this inmost of the Spheres,
And girds it round with everlasting roar,
Set like a gem appears
Within that beading shore.
Thither fly all the Sons of heavenly race:
I, too, forsake mine ancient dwelling-place.
And now, O Child and Father, ye must go,
Take up the burthen of your woe,
And wander once again below.


With patient heart hold onward to the end, . . .
Be true unto yourselves, and bear in mind
That every God is still the good Man’s friend;
And they, who suffer bravely, save mankind.


Oh tell me, cried Ereenia, for from thee
Nought can be hidden, when the end will be!


Seek not to know, old Casyapa replied,
What pleaseth Heaven to hide.
Dark is the abyss of time,
But light enough to guide your steps is given;
Whatever weal or woe betide,
Turn never front the way of truth aside,
And leave the event, in holy hope, to Heaven.
The moment is at hand, no more delay,
Ascend the etherial bark, and go your way;
And Ye, of heavenly nature, follow me.


The will of Heaven be done, Ladurlad cried,
Nor more the man replied;


But placed his daughter in the etherial Bark,
Then took his seat beside.
There was no word at parting, no adieu.
Down from that empyreal height they flew:
One groan Ladurlad breath’d, yet uttered not,
When, to his heart and brain
The fiery Curse again like lightning shot.
And now on earth, the Sire and Child alight,
Up soar’d the Ship of Heaven, and sail’d away from sight.


O ye immortal Bowers,
Where hitherto the Hours
Have led their dance of happiness for aye,
With what a sense of woe
Do ye expect the blow,
And see your heavenly dwellers driven away!
Lo! where the aunnay-birds of graceful mien,
Whose milk-white forms were seen,
Lovely as Nymphs, your ancient trees between,
And by your silent springs,
With melancholy cry,
Now spread unwilling wings;
Their stately necks reluctant they protend,


And through the sullen sky,
To other worlds, their mournful progress bend.
The affrighted gales to-day
O’er their beloved streams no longer play,
The streams of Paradise have ceas’d to flow;
The Fountain-Tree withholds its diamond shower,
In this portentous hour, . .
This dolorous hour, . . this universal woe.
Where is the Palace, whose far-flashing beams,
With streaks and streams of ever-varying light,
Brighten’d the polar night
Around the frozen North’s extremest shore?
Gone like a morning rainbow, . . like a dream. . .
A star that shoots and falls, and then is seen no more.


Now! now! . . . Before the Golden Palaces,
The Bramin strikes the inevitable hour.
The fatal blow is given,
That over Earth and Heaven
Confirms the Almighty Rajah in his power.
All evil Spirits then,
That roam the World about,
Or wander through the sky,


Set up a joyful shout.
The Asuras and the Giants join the cry,
The damn’d in Padalon acclaim
Their hop’d Deliverer’s name;
Heaven trembles with the thunder-drowning sound;
Back starts affrighted Ocean from the shore,
And the adamantine vaults, and brazen floor
Of Hell, are shaken with the roar.
Up rose the Rajah through the conquer’d sky,
To seize the Swerga for his proud abode;
Myriads of evil Genii round him fly,
As royally, on wings of winds, he rode,
And scal’d high Heaven, triumphant like a God.



Calmly she took her seat.—I. p. 8.

She, says Bernier, whom I saw burn herself, when I parted from Surat to travel into Persia, in the presence of Monsieur Chardin of Paris, and of many English and Dutch, was of a middle age, and not unhandsome. To represent unto you the undaunted cheerfulness that appeared in her countenance, the resolution with which she marched, washed herself, spoke to the people; the confidence with which she looked upon us, viewed her little cabin, made up of very dry millet-straw and small wood, went into this cabin, and sat down upon the pile, and took her husband’s head into her lap, and a torch into her own hand, and kindled the cabin, whilst I know not how many Brahmans were busy in kindling the fire round about: To represent to you, I say, all this as it ought, is {134} not possible for me; I can at present scarce believe it myself, though it be but a few days since I saw it.

They strip her ornaments away.—I. p. 8.

She went out again to the river, and taking up some water in her hands, muttered some prayers, and offered it to the sun. All her ornaments were then taken from her; and her armlets were broken, and chaplets of white flowers were put upon her neck and hands. Her hair was tucked up with five combs; and her forehead was marked with clay in the same manner as that of her husband—Stavorinus.

Around her neck they leave
The marriage-knot alone.—I. p. 8.

When the time for consummating the marriage is come, they light the fire Homam with the wood of Ravasiton. The Bramin blesses the former, which being done, the bridegroom takes three handfuls of rice, and throws it on the bride’s head, who does the same to him. Afterwards the bride’s father clothes her in a dress according to his condition, and washes the bridegroom’s feet; the bride’s mother observing to pour out the water. This being done, the father puts his daughter’s hand in his own, puts water into it, some pieces of money, {135} and, giving it to the bridegroom, says, at the same time, I have no longer any thing to do with you, and I give you up to the power of another. The Tali, which is a ribbon with a golden head hanging at it, is held ready; and, being shewn to the company, some prayers and blessings are pronounced; after which the bridegroom takes it, and hangs it about the bride’s neck. This knot is what particularly secures his possession of her; for, before he had had the Tali on, all the rest of the ceremonies might have been made to no purpose; for it has sometimes happened, that, when the bridegroom was going to fix it on, the bride’s father has discovered his not being satisfied with the bridegroom’s gift, when another, offering more, has carried off the bride with her father’s consent. But when once the Tali is put on, the marriage is indissoluble; and, whenever the husband dies, the Tali is burnt along with him, to shew that the marriage bands are broke. Besides these particular ceremonies, the people have notice of the wedding by a Pandal, which is raised before the bride’s door some days before. The whole concludes with an entertainment which the bride’s father gives to the common friends; and during this festivity, which continues five days, alms are given to the poor, and the fire Homam is kept in. The seventh day, the new-married couple set out for the {136} bridegroom’s house, whither they frequently go by torch-light. The bride and bridegroom are carried in a sedan, pass through the chief streets of the city, and are accompanied by their friends, who are either on horseback or mounted on elephants.—A. Roger.

They force her on, they bind her to the dead.—I. p. 9.

’Tis true, says Bernier, that I have seen some of them, which, at the sight of the pile and the fire, appeared to have some apprehension, and that, perhaps, would have gone back. Those demons, the Bramins, that are there with their great sticks, astonish them, and hearten them up, or even thrust them in; as I have seen it done to a young woman that retreated five or six paces from the pile, and to another, that was much disturbed when, she saw the fire take hold of her clothes, these executioners thrusting her in with their long poles.

At Lahor, I saw a very handsome and a very young woman burnt; I believe she was not above twelve years of age. This poor unhappy creature appeased rather dead than alive when she came near the pile; she shook and wept bitterly. Meanwhile, three or four of these executioners, the Bramins, together with an old hag that held her under the arm, thrust her on, and made her sit down upon the wood; and, lest she should run away, {137} they tied her legs and hands; and so they burnt her alive. I had enough to do to contain myself for indignation.—Bernier.

Pietro Della Valle conversed with a widow, who was about to burn herself by her own choice. She told him, that, generally speaking, women were not forced to burn themselves; but sometimes, among people of rank, when a young woman, who was handsome, was left a widow, and in danger of marrying again, (which is never practised among them, because of the confusion and disgrace which are inseparable from such a thing,) or of falling into other irregularities, then, indeed, the relations of the husband, if they are at all tenacious of the honour of the family, compel her to burn herself, whether she likes it or no, merely to prevent the inconveniences which might take place.

Dellon also, whom I consider as one of the best travellers in the East, expressly asserts, that widows are burnt there “de gré, ou de force. L’on n’en voit que trop qui aprés avoir desiré et demandé la mort avec un courage intrepide, et aprés avoir obtenu et acheté la permission de se brûler, ont tremblé à là veuë du bucher, se sont repenties, mais trop tard, de leur imprudence, et ont fait d’inutiles efforts pour se retracter. Mais lorsque cela arrive, bien loin que les Bramenes soient touchés {138} d’aucune pieté, ils lient cruellement ces malheureuses, et les brûlent par force, sans avoir aucun egard à leurs plaintes, ni à leurs cris.”—Tom. i. p. 138.

It would be easy to multiply authorities upon this point. Let it suffice to mention one important historical fact: When the great Alboquerque had established himself it Goa, he forbade these accursed sacrifices, the women extolled him for it as their benefactor and deliverer, (Commentarios de Alb. ii. 20,) and no European in India was ever so popular, or so revered by the natives. Yet, if we are to believe the anti-missionares, none but fools, fanatics, and pretenders to humanity, would wish to deprive the Hindoo women of the right of burning themselves! “It may be useful (says Colonel Mark Wilks,) to examine the reasonableness of interfering with the most exceptionable of all their institutions. It has been thought an abomination not to be tolerated, that a widow should immolate herself on the funeral pile of her deceased husband. But what judgement should we form of the Hindoo, who (if any of our institutions admitted the parallel) should forcibly pretend to stand between a Christian and the hope of eternal salvation? And shall we not hold him to be a driveller in politics and morals, a fanatic in religion, and a pretender in humanity, who would forcibly wrest this hope from the Hindoo {139} widow?”—Historical Sketches of the South of India, vol. i. p. 499.

Such opinions, and such language, may safely be left to the indignation and pity which they cannot fail to excite. I shall only express my astonishment, that any thing so monstrous, and so miserably futile, should have proceeded from a man of learning, great good sense, and general good feelings, as Colonel Wilks evidently appears to be.

One drops, another plunges in.—I. p. 10.

When Bernier was passing from Amad-Avad to Agra, there came news to him in a borough, where the caravan rested under the shade, (staying for the cool of the evening to march on their journey,) that a woman was then upon the point of burning herself with the body of her husband. I presently rose, says he, and ran to the place where it was to be done, which was a great pit, with a pile of wood raised in it, whereon I saw laid a dead corpse, and a woman, which, at a distance, seemed to me pretty fair, sitting near it on the same pile, besides four or five Bramins, putting the fire to it from all sides; five women of a middle age, and well enough dressed, holding one another by the hand, and dancing about the pit, and a great crowd of people, men and women, looking {140} on. The pile of wood was presently all on fire, because store of oil and butter had been thrown upon it: and I saw, at the same time, through the flames, that the fire took hold of the clothes of the woman, that were imbued with well-scented oils, mingled with powder of sandal and saffron. All this I saw, but observed not that the woman was at all disturbed; yea, it was said, that she had been heard to pronounce, with great force, these two words, five, two, to signify, according to the opinion of those that hold the soul’s transmigration, that this was the fifth time she had burnt herself with the same husband, and that there remained but two more for perfection; as if she had at that time this remembrance, or some prophetical spirit. But here ended not this infernal tragedy: I thought it was only by way of ceremony that these five women sung and danced about the pit; but I was altogether surprised when I saw, that the flame having taken hold of the clothes of one of them, she cast herself, with her head foremost, into the pit; and that after her, another, being overcome by the flame and the smoke, did the like; and my astonishment redoubled afterwards, when I saw that the remaining three took one another again by the hand, continued their dance without any apparent fear; and that at length they precipitated themselves, one after another, into the fire, as their {141} companions had done. I learnt that these had been five slaves, who, having seen their mistress extremely afflicted at the sickness of her husband, and heard her promise him, that she would not survive him, but burn herself with him, were so touched with compassion and tenderness towards this their mistress, that they engaged themselves in a promise to follow her in her resolution, and to burn themselves with her.—Bernier.

This excellent traveller relates an extraordinary circumstance which occurred at one of these sacrifices. A woman was engaged in some love-intrigues with a young Mahommedan, her neighbour, who was a tailor, and could play finely upon the tabor. This woman, in the hopes she had of marrying this young man, poisoned her husband, and presently came away to tell the tailor, that it was time to be gone together, as they had projected, or else she should be obliged to burn herself. The young man, fearing lest he might be entangled in a mischievous business, flatly refused her. The woman, not at all surprised at it, went to her relations, and advertised them of the sudden death of her husband, and openly protested that she would not survive him, but burn herself with him. Her kindred, well satisfied with so generous a resolution, and the great honour she did to the whole family, presently had a pit made and filled with wood, exposing {142} the corpse upon it, and kindling the fire. All being prepared, the woman goes to embrace and bid farewell to all her kindred that were there about the pit, among whom was also the tailor, who had been invited to play upon the tabor that day, with many others of that sort of men, according to the custom of the country. This fury of a woman being also come to this young man, made sign as if she would bid him farewell with the rest; but, instead of gently embracing him, she taketh him with all her force about his collar, pulls him to the pit, and tumbleth him, together with herself, into the ditch, where they both were soon dispatched.—Bernier.

The Hindoos sometimes erect a chapel on the spot where one of these sacrifices has been performed, both on account of the soul of the deceased, and as a trophy of her virtue. I remember to have seen one of these places, where the spot on which the funeral pile had been erected was inclosed and covered with bamboos, formed into a kind of bower planted with flowering creepers. The inside was set round with flowers, and at one end, there was an image.—Crawfurd.

Some of the Yogees, who smear themselves with ashes, use none but what they collect from funeral piles,—human ashes! Pietro Della Valle.

From a late investigation, it appears, that the number {143} of women who sacrifice themselves within thirty miles round Calcutta every year, is, on an average, upwards of two hundred. The Pundits have already been called on to produce the sanction of their Shasters for this custom. The passages exhibited are vague and general in their meaning, and differently interpreted by the same casts. Some sacred verses commend the practice, but none command it; and the Pundits refer once more to custom. They have, however, intimated, that if government will pass a regulation, amercing by fine every Brahmin who attends a burning, or every Zemindar who permits him to attend it, the practice cannot possibly long continue; for that the ceremony, unsanctified by the presence of the priests, will lose its dignity and consequence in the eyes of the people.

The civilized world may expect soon to hear of the abolition of this opprobrium of a Christian administration, the female sacrifice; which has subsisted, to our certain knowledge, since the time of Alexander the Great.—Claudius Buchanan.

This practice, however, was manifestly unknown when the Institutes of Menu were written. Instructions are there given for the conduct of a widow: “Let her,” it is said, “emaciate her body, by living voluntarily on pure flowers, roots, and fruit; but let her not, when her {144} lord is deceased, even pronounce the name of another man. Let her continue till death forgiving all injuries, performing harsh duties, avoiding every sensual pleasure, and cheerfully practising the incomparable rules of virtue, which have been followed by such women as were devoted to one only husband. Many thousands of Brahmins, having avoided sensuality from their early youth, and having left no issue in their families, have ascended nevertheless to heaven; and, like those abstemious men, a virtuous wife ascends to heaven, though she have no child, if, after the decease of her lord, she devote herself to pious austerity: but a widow, who, from a wish to bear children, slights her deceased husband by marrying again, brings disgrace on herself here below, and shall be excluded from the seat of her lord.”—Inst. of Menu, ch. 5, 157-161.

Second marriages were permitted to men.—Ibid. 167, 8-9.

Lo! Arvalan appears.—II. p. 11.

Many believe that some souls are sent back to the spot where their bodies were burnt, or where their ashes are preserved, to wait there until the new bodies they are destined to occupy be ready for their reception. This appears to correspond with an opinion of Plato, which, {145} with many other tenets of that philosopher, was adopted by the early Christians; and an ordinance of the Romish church is still extant, prohibiting having lights or making merriment in church-yards at night, lest they should disturb the souls that might come thither.—Crawfurd.

According to the Danish missionaries, the souls of those who are untimely slain wander about as diabolical spectres, doing evil to mankind, and possessing those whom they persecute.—Niecamp. i. 10. § 14.

The inhabitants of the hills near Rajamahall believe, that when God sends a messenger to summon a person to his presence, if the messenger should mistake his object, and carry off another, he is desired by the Deity to take him away; but as the earthly mansion of his soul must be decayed, it is destined to remain mid-way between heaven and earth, and never can return to the presence of God. Whoever commits homicide without a divine order, and whoever is killed by a snake, as a punishment for some concealed crime, will be doomed to the same state of wandering; and whoever hangs himself will wander eternally with a rope about his neck.—Asiat. Researches.

Pope Benedict XII. drew up a list of 117 heretical opinions held by the Armenian Christians, which he sent to the king of Armenia,—instead of any other assistance, {146} when that prince applied to him for aid against the Mahomedans. This paper was first published by Bernino, and exhibits a curious mixture of mythologies. One of their opinions was, that the souls of the adult wander about in the air till the day of judgment; neither hell, nor the heavenly, nor the terrestrial paradise, being open to them till that day shall have past.

Davenant, in one of his plays, speculates upon such a state of wandering as the lot of the soul after death:—

I must to darkness go, hover in clouds, Or in remote untroubled air, silent As thoughts, or what is uncreated yet; Or I must rest in some cold shade, and shall Perhaps ne’er see that everlasting spring Of which philosophy so long has dreamt, And seems rather to wish than understand. Love and Honour.

I know no other author who has so often expressed to those who could understand him, his doubts respecting a future state, and how burthensome he felt them.

But I, all naked feeling and raw life.—II. p. 13.

By the vital souls of those men who have committed {147} sins in the body, another body, composed of nerves, with five sensations, in order to be susceptible of torment, shall certainly be assumed after death; and being intimately united with those minute nervous particles, according to their distribution, they shall feel in that new body the pangs inflicted in each case by the sentence of Yama.—Inst. of Menu.

Henry More, the Platonist, has two applicable stanzas in his Song of the Soul:—

Like to a light fast lock’d in lanthorn dark, Whereby by night our wary steps we guide In slabby streets, and dirty channels mark, Some weaker rays through the black top do glide, And flusher streams, perhaps, from horny side; But when we’ve past the peril of the way, Arrived at home, and laid that case aside,— The naked light how clearly doth it ray, And spread its joyful beams as bright as summer’s day.
Even so the soul, in this contracted state, Confined to these strait instruments of sense, More dull and narrowly doth operate; At this hole hears,—the sight must ray from thence,— Here tastes, there smells;—but when she’s gone from hence, Like naked lamp she is one shining sphere, And round about has perfect cognoscence, Whatever in her horizon doth appear. She is one orb of sense, all eye, all airy ear.

Amid the uncouth allegory, and more uncouth language, of this strange series of poems, a few passages are to be found of exceeding beauty. Milton, who was the author’s friend, had evidently read them.

Undying as I am!—II. p. 12.

The Soul is not a thing of which a man may say, it hath been, it is about to be, or is to be hereafter; for it is a thing without birth; it is ancient, constant, and eternal, and is not to be destroyed in this its mortal frame. How can the man who believeth that this thing is incorruptible, eternal, inexhaustible, and without birth, think that he can either kill or cause it to be killed! As a man throweth away old garments and putteth on new, even so the Soul, having quitted its old mortal frames, entereth into others which are new. The weapon divideth it not, the fire burneth it not, the water corrupteth it not, the wind drieth it not away;—for it is indivisible, inconsumable, incorruptible, and is not to be dried away;—it is eternal, universal, permanent, immoveable; it is {149} invisible, inconceivable, and unalterable.—Bhagvat Geeta.

Mariataly.—II. p. 15.

Mariatale, as Sonnerat spells the name, was wife of the penitent Chamadaguini, and mother of Parassourama, who was, in part, an incarnation of Veeshno. This goddess, says Sonnerat, commanded the elements, but could not preserve that empire longer than her heart was pure. One day, while she was collecting water out of a tank, and, according to her custom, was making a bowl of earth to carry it to the house, she saw on the surface of the water, some figures of Grindovers (Glendoveers) which were flying over her head. Struck with their beauty, her heart admitted an impure thought, and the earth of the bowl dissolved. From that time she was obliged to make use of an ordinary vessel. This discovered to Chamadaguini that his wife had deviated from purity; and, in the excess of his rage, he ordered his son to drag her to the place where criminals were executed, and to behead her. The order was executed; but Parassourama was so much afflicted for the loss of his mother, that Chamadaguini told him to take up the body, and fasten the head upon it, and repeat a prayer (which he taught him for that purpose) in her ear, and then his mother {150} would come to life again. The son ran eagerly to perform what he was ordered, but, by a very singular blunder, he joined the head of his mother to the body of a Parichi, who had been executed for her crimes; a monstrous union, which gave to this woman the virtues of a goddess, and the vices of a criminal. The goddess, becoming impure by such a mixture, was driven from her house, and committed all kinds of cruelties. The Deverkels, perceiving the destruction she made, appeased her by giving her power to cure the small-pox, and promising that she should be implored for that disorder. Mariatale is the great goddess of the Parias;—to honour her, they have a custom of dancing with several pots of water on their heads, placed one above the other: These pots are adorned with the leaves of the Margosies, a tree consecrated to her.

It was my hour of folly.—II. p. 13.

Among the qualities required for the proper execution of public business, mention is made, “That a man must be able to keep in subjection his lust, his anger, his avarice, his folly, and his pride.” The folly there specified is not to be understood in the usual sense of the word in an European idiom, as a negative quality, or the mere want of sense, but as a kind of obstinately stupid {151} lethargy, or perverse absence of mind, in which the will is not altogether passive: It seems to be a weakness peculiar to Asia, for we cannot find a term by which to express the precise idea in the European languages. It operates somewhat like the violent impulse of fear, under which men will utter falsehoods totally incompatible with each other, and utterly contrary to their own opinion, knowledge, and conviction; and, it may be added also, their inclination and intention.

A very remarkable instance of this temporary frenzy happened lately in the supreme Court of Judicature at Calcutta, where a man (not an idiot) swore, upon a trial, that he was no kind of relation to his brother, who was then in Court, and who had constantly supported him from his infancy; and that he lived in a house by himself, for which he paid the rent from his own pocket, when it was proved that he was not worth a rupee, and when the person in whose house he had always resided stood at the bar close to him.

Another conjecture, and that exceedingly acute and ingenious, has been started upon this folly, that it may mean the deception which a man permits to be imposed on his judgment by his passions, as acts of rapacity and avarice are often committed by men who ascribe them to prudence and a just assertion of their own right; malice {152} and rancour pass for justice, and brutality for spirit. This opinion, when thoroughly examined, will very nearly tally with the former; for all the passions, as well as fear, have an equal efficacy to disturb and distort the mind: But to account for the folly here spoken of as being the offspring of the passions, instead of drawing a parallel between it and the impulses of those passions, we must suppose the impulses to act with infinitely more violence upon an Asiatic mind than we can ever have seen exemplified in Europe. It is, however, something like the madness so inimitably delineated in the Hero of Cervantes, sensible enough upon some occasions, and at the same time completely wild, and unconscious of itself upon others; and that, too, originally produced by an effort of the will, though, in the end, overpowering and superseding its functions.—Halhed.

The little songsters of the sky
Sit silent in the sultry hour.—IV. p. 29.

The tufted lark, fixed to this fruitful land, says Sonnini, speaking of Egypt, never forsakes it; it seems, however, that the excessive heat annoys him. You may see these birds, as well as sparrows, in the middle of the day, with their bills half open, and the muscles of their breasts agitated, breathing with difficulty, and as if they panted {153} for respiration. The instinct which induces them to prefer those means of subsistence which are easily obtained, and in abundance, although attended with some suffering, resembles the mind of man, whom a thirst for riches engages to brave calamities and dangers without number.

The Watchman.—V. 35.

The watchmen are provided with no offensive weapons excepting a sling; on the contrary, they continue the whole day standing in one single position, upon a pillar of clay raised about ten feet, where they remain bellowing continually, that they may terrify, without hurting, the birds who feed upon the crop. Every considerable field contains several such centinels, stationed at different corners, who repeat the call from one to another so incessantly, that the invaders have hardly any opportunity of making good a livelihood in the field.

These watchmen are forced, during the rains, to erect, instead of a clay pillar, a scaffolding of wood as high as the crop, over which they suspend a roof of straw, to shelter their naked bodies from the rain.—Tennant.

The Golden Palaces.—V. 35.

Every thing belonging to the sovereign of Ava has the {154} addition of [Transcriber: the last letter of the word “sho-” is unreadable], or golden, annexed to it; even his majesty’s person is never mentioned but in conjunction with this precious metal. When a subject means to affirm that the king has heard any thing, he says, “it has reached the golden ears;” he who obtained admission to the royal presence has been at the “golden feet.” The perfume of otto of roses, a nobleman observed one day, “was an odour grateful to the golden nose.”—Symes.

A cloud ascending in the eastern sky
Sails slowly o’er the vale,
And darkens round, and closes in the night.—V. p. 37.

At this season of the year, it is not uncommon, towards the evening, to see a small black cloud rising in the eastern part of the horizon, and afterwards spreading itself to the north-west. This phenomenon is always attended with a violent storm of wind, and flashes of the strongest and most vivid lightning and heavy thunder, which is followed by rain. These storms sometimes last for half an hour or more; and, when they disperse, they leave the air greatly freshened, and the sky of a deep, clear, and transparent blue. When they occur near the full moon, the whole atmosphere is illuminated by a soft but brilliant silver light, attended with gentle airs.—Hodges.


A white flag, flapping to the winds of night,
Marks where the tyger seized his human prey.—V. p. 37.

It is usual to place a small white triangular flag, fixed to a bamboo staff, of ten or twelve feet long, at the place where a tyger has destroyed a man. It is common for the passengers, also, each to throw a stone, or brick, near the spot, so that, in the course of a little time, a pile equal to a good waggon-load is collected. This custom, as well as the fixing a rag on any particular thorn-bush, near the fatal spot, is in use likewise on various accounts. Many brambles may be seen in a day’s journey, completely covered with this motley assemblage of remnants. The sight of the flags and piles of stones imparts a certain melancholy, not perhaps altogether devoid of apprehension: They may be said to be of service in pointing out the places most frequented by tygers.—Oriental Sports, vol. ii. p. 22.

Pollear.—V. p. 45.

The first and greatest of the sons of Sevee is Pollear: he presides over marriages: The Indians build no house without having first carried a Pollear on the ground, which they sprinkle with oil, and throw flowers on it {156} every day. If they do not invoke it before they undertake any enterprise, they believe that God will make them forget what they wanted to undertake, and that their labour will be in vain. He is represented with an elephant’s head, and mounted on a rat; but in the pagodas they place him on a pedestal, with his legs almost crossed. A rat is always put before the door of his chapel. This rat was a giant, called Gudja-mouga-chourin, on whom the gods had bestowed immortality, as well as great powers, which he abused, and did much harm to mankind. Pollear, entreated by the sages and penitents to deliver them, pulled out one of his tusks, and threw it against Gudja-mouga-chourin; the tooth entered the giant’s stomach, and overthrew him, who immediately changed himself into a rat as large as a mountain, and came to attack Pollear, who sprung on his back, telling him, that hereafter he should ever be his carrier.

The Indians, in their adoration of this god, cross their arms, shut the fist, and in this manner give themselves several blows on the temples; then, but always with the arms crossed, they take hold of their ears, and make three inclinations, bending the knee; after which, with their hands joined, they address their prayers to him, and strike their forehead. They have a great veneration for this deity, whose image they place in all temples, streets, {157} highways, and, in the country, at the foot of some tree, that all the world may have an opportunity of invoking him before they undertake any concern, and that travellers may make their adorations and offerings to him before they pursue their journey.—Sonnerat.

The Glendoveers.—VI. p. 48.

This word is altered from the Grindouvers of Sonnerat, who describes these celestial children of Casyapa as famous for their beauty; they have wings, he adds, and fly in the air with their wives. I do not know whether they are the Gandharvas of the English orientalists. The wings with which they are attired in the poem are borrowed from the neglected story of Peter Wilkins, a work of great genius. Whoever the author was, his winged people are the most beautiful creatures of imagination that ever were devised. I copy his minute description of the graundee, as he calls it:—Stothard has made some delightful drawings of it in the Novelist’s Magazine.

“She first threw up two long branches, or ribs, of the whale-bone, as I called it before, (and indeed for several of its properties, as toughness, elasticity, and pliableness, nothing I have ever seen can so justly be compared to it,) which were jointed behind to the upper-bone of the spine, and which, when not extended, lie bent over the shoulders {158} on each side of the neck forwards, from whence, by nearer and nearer approaches, they just meet at the lower rim of the belly in a sort of point; but, when extended, they stand their whole length above the shoulders, not perpendicularly, but spreading outwards, with a web of the softest and most pliable and spungy membrane that can be imagined in the interstices between them, reaching from their root or joint on the back up above the hinder part of the head, and near half way their own length; but, when closed, the membrane falls down in the middle upon the neck, like an handkerchief. There are also two other ribs, rising, as it were, from the same root, which, when open, run horizontally, but not so long as the others. These are filled up in the interstice between them and the upper ones with the same membrane; and on the lower side of this is also a deep flap of the membrane, so that the arms can be either above or below it in flight, and are always above it when closed. This last rib, when shut, flaps under the upper one, and also falls down with it before to the waist; but it is not joined to the ribs below. Along the whole spine-bone runs a strong, flat, broad, grisly cartilage, to which are joined several other of these ribs, all which open horizontally, and are filled in the interstices with the above membrane, and are jointed to the ribs of the person just where {159} the plane of the back begins to turn towards the breast and belly; and, when shut, wrap the body round to the joints on the contrary side, folding neatly one side over the other.

“At the lower spine are two more ribs extended horizontally when open, jointed again to the hips, and long enough to meet the joint on the contrary side cross the belly: and from the hip-joint, which is on the outermost edge of the hip-bone, runs a pliable cartilage quite down the outside of the thigh and leg to the ancle; from which there branch out divers other ribs, horizontally also when open, but, when closed, they encompass the whole thigh and leg, rolling inwards cross the back of the leg and thigh, till they reach and just cover the cartilage. The interstices of these are filled up with the same membrane. From the two ribs which join to the lower spine-bone, there hangs down a sort of short apron, very full of plaits, from hip-joint to hip-joint, and reaches below the buttocks, half way or more to the hams. This has also several small limber ribs in it. Just upon the lower spine-joint, and above the apron, as I call it, there are two other long branches, which, when close, extend upon the back from the point they join at below to the shoulders, where each rib has a clasper, which, reaching over the shoulders, just under the fold of the uppermost branch {160} or ribs, hold up the two ribs flat to the back, like a V, the interstices of which are filled up with the aforesaid membrane. This last piece, in flight, falls down almost to the ancles, where the two claspers, lapping under each leg within-side, hold it very fast; and then, also, the short apron is drawn up, by the strength of the ribs in it, between the thighs forward, and covers as far as the rim of the belly. The whole arms are covered also from the shoulders to the wrist with the same delicate membrane, fastened to ribs of proportionable dimensions, and jointed to a cartilage on the outside in the same manner as on the legs. It is very surprising to feel the difference of these ribs when open and when closed; for closed, they are as pliable as the finest whale-bone, or more so; but, when extended, are as strong and stiff as a bone. They are tapering from the roots, and are broader or narrower, as best suits the places they occupy, and the stress they are put to, up to their points, which are almost as small as a hair. The membrane between them is the most elastic thing I ever met with, occupying no more space, when the ribs are closed, than just from rib to rib, as flat and smooth as possible; but, when extended in some postures, will dilate itself surprisingly,

“It is the most amazing thing in the world to observe the large expansion of this graundee when open, and, {161} when closed, (as it all is in a moment, upon the party’s descent,) to see it fit so close and compact to the body as no tailor can come up to it; and then the several ribs lie so justly disposed in the several parts, that instead of being, as one would imagine, a disadvantage to the shape, they make the body and limbs look extremely elegant; and by the different adjustment of their lines on the body and limbs, the whole, to my fancy, somewhat resembles the dress of the old Roman warriors in their buskins; and, to appearance, seems much more noble than any fictitious garb I ever saw, or can frame a notion of to myself.”

Mount Himakoot.—VI. p. 49.

Dushmanta. Say, Matali, what mountain is that which, like an evening cloud, pours exhilarating streams, and forms a golden zone between the western and eastern seas?

Matali. That, O king! is the mountain of Gandharvas, named Hémacúta: The universe contains not a more excellent place for the successful devotion of the pious. There Casyapa, father of the immortals, ruler of men, son of Marichi, who sprang from the self-existent, resides with his consort Aditi, blessed in holy retirement.—We now enter the sanctuary of him who rules {162} the world, and the groves which are watered by streams from celestial sources.

Dushmanta. I see with equal amazement both the pious and their awful retreat. It becomes, indeed, pure spirits to feed on balmy air in a forest blooming with trees of life; to bathe in rills dyed yellow with the golden dust of the lotus, and to fortify their virtue in the mysterious bath; to meditate in caves, the pebbles of which are unblemished gems; and to restrain their passions, even though nymphs of exquisite beauty frolick around them. In this grove alone is attained the summit of true piety, to which other hermits in vain aspire.—Sacontala.

Her death predoom’d
To that black hour of midnight, when the Moon
Hath turn’d her face away,
Unwilling to behold
The unhappy end of guilt!—VI. p. 50.

I will now speak to thee of that time in which, should a devout man die, he will never return; and of that time in which, dying, he shall return again to earth.

Those holy men who are acquainted with Brahm, departing this life in the fiery light of day, in the bright season of the moon, within the six months of the sun’s northern {163} course, go unto him: but those who depart in the gloomy night of the Moon’s dark season, and whilst the Sun is yet within the southern part of his journey, ascend for a while into the regions of the Moon, and again return to mortal birth. These two, Light and Darkness, are esteemed the World’s eternal ways: he who walketh in the former path returneth not; whilst he who walketh in the latter, cometh back again upon the earth.—Kreeshna, in the Bhagvat Geeta.

Indra.—VI. p. 52.

The Indian God of the visible Heavens is called Indra, or the King; and Divespetir, Lord of the Sky. He has the character of the Roman Genius, or chief of the Good Spirits. His consort is named Sachi; his celestial city Amaravati; his palace Vaijayanta; his garden Nandana; his chief elephant Airevat; his charioteer Matali; and his weapon Vajra, or the thunder-bolt. He is the regent of winds and showers, and, though the East is peculiarly under his care, yet his Olympus is Meru, or the North Pole, allegorically represented as a mountain of gold and gems. He is the Prince of the beneficent Genii.—Sir W. Jones.

A distinct idea of Indra, the King of Immortals, may be collected from a passage in the ninth section of the Geta.


“These having, through virtue, reached the mansion of the king of Suras, feast on the exquisite heavenly food of the Gods; they, who have enjoyed this lofty region of Swerga, but whose virtue is exhausted, revisit the habitation of mortals.”

He is the God of thunder and the five elements, with inferior Genii under his command; and is conceived to govern the eastern quarter of the world, but to preside, like the Genius or Agathodæmon of the ancients, over the celestial bands, which are stationed on the summit of Meru, or the North Pole, where he solaces the Gods with nectar and heavenly music.

The Cinnaras are the male dancers in Swerga, or the Heaven of Indra, and the Apsaras are his dancing girls, answering to the fairies of the Persians, and to the damsels called in the Koran hhúru lûyùn, or, with antelope’s eyes.—Sir W. Jones.

I have seen Indra tremble at his prayer,
And at his dreadful penances turn pale.—VI. p. 52.

Of such penances Mr. Halhed has produced a curious specimen:

“In the wood, Midhoo, which is on the confines of the kingdoms of Brege, Tarakee selected a pleasant and beautiful spot, adorned with verdure and blossoms, and {165} there exerted himself in penance and mortification, externally, with the sincerest piety, but, in reality, the most malignant intention, and with the determined purpose of oppressing the Devetas; penances such as credulity itself was astonished to hear; and they are here recounted:—

1. For a hundred years, he held up his arms and one foot towards heaven, and fixed his eyes upon the sun the whole time.

2. For a hundred years, he remained standing on tip-toe.

3. For a hundred years more, he nourished himself with nothing but water.

4. For a hundred years more, he lived upon nothing but air.

5. For a hundred years more, he stood and made his adorations in the river.

6. For a hundred years more, he made those adorations buried up to his neck in the earth.

7. For a hundred years more, enveloped with fire.

8. For a hundred years more, he stood upon his head with his feet towards heaven.

9. For a hundred years more, he stood upon the palm of one hand resting on the ground.


10. For a hundred years more, he hung by his hand from the branch of a tree.

11. For a hundred years more, he hung from a tree with his head downwards.

When he at length came to a respite from these severe mortifications, a radiant glory encircled the devotee, and a flame of fire, arising from his head, began to consume the whole world.”—From the Seeva Pooraun, Maurice’s History of Hindostan.

You see a pious Yogi, motionless as a pollard, holding his thick bushy hair, and fixing his eyes on the solar orb. Mark—his body is half covered with a white ant’s edifice made of raised clay; the skin of a snake supplies the place of his sacerdotal thread, and part of it girds his loins; a number of knotty plants encircle and wound his neck, and surrounding birds’ nests almost conceal his shoulders.

Dushmanta. I bow to a man of his austere devotion.—Sacontala.

That even Seeva’s self,
The Highest, cannot grant, and be secure.—VI. p. 52.

It will be seen from the following fable, that Seeva had once been reduced to a very humiliating employment by one of Kehama’s predecessors:


Ravana, by his power and infernal arts, had subjugated all the gods and demigods, and forced them to perform menial offices about his person and household. Indra made garlands of flowers to adorn him withal; Agni was his cook; Surya supplied light by day, and Chandra by night; Varuna purveyed water for the palace; Kuvera furnished cash. The whole nava-graha (the nine planetary spheres) sometimes arranged themselves into a ladder, by which, they serving as steps, the tyrant ascended his throne: Brahma (for the great gods were there also; and I give this anecdote as I find it in my memoranda, without any improved arrangement)—Brahma was a herald, proclaiming the giant’s titles, the day of the week, month, &c. daily in the palace,—a sort of speaking almanack: Mahadeva, (i. e. Seeva,) in his Avatara of Kandeh-roo, performed the office of barber, and trimmed the giants’ beards: Vishnu had the honourable occupation of instructing and drilling the dancing and singing girls, and selecting the fairest for the royal bed: Ganesa had the care of the cows, goats, and herds; Vayu swept the house; Yama washed the linen;—and in this manner were all the gods employed in the menial offices of Ravana, who rebuked and flogged them in default of industry and attention. Nor were the female divinities exempted; for Bhavani, in her name and form of Satni, {168} was head Aya, or nurse, to Ravana’s children; Lakshmi and Saraswati were also among them, but it does not appear in what capacity.—Moor’s Hindu Pantheon, p. 333.

Seeva was once in danger even of annihilation: “In passing from the town of Silgut to Deonhully, says Colonel Wilks, I became accidentally informed of a sect, peculiar, as I since understand, to the north-eastern parts of Mysoor, the women of which universally undergo the amputation of the first joints of the third and fourth fingers of their right hands. On my arrival at Deonhully, after ascertaining that the request would not give offence, I desired to see some of these women; and, the same afternoon, seven of them attended at my tent. The sect is a sub-division of the Murresoo Wokul,1 and belongs to the fourth great class of the Hindoos, viz. the Souder. Every woman of the sect, previously to piercing the ears of her eldest daughter, preparatory to her being betrothed in marriage, must necessarily undergo this mutilation, which is performed by the blacksmith of the village, for a regulated fee, by a surgical process sufficiently rude. The finger to be amputated is placed on a block; the blacksmith places a chisel over the articulation of the {169} joint, and chops it off at a single blow. If the girl to be betrothed is motherless, and the mother of the boy have not before been subject to the operation, it is incumbent on her to perform the sacrifice. After satisfying myself with regard to the facts of the case, I enquired into the origin of so strange a practice, and one of the women related, with great fluency, the following traditionary tale, which has since been repeated to me, with no material deviation, by several others of the sect:

A Rachas (or giant) named Vrica, and in after times Busm-aasoor, or the giant of the ashes, had, by a course of austere devotion to Mahadeo (Seeva) obtained from him the promise of whatever boon he should ask. The Rachas accordingly demanded, that every person on whose head he should place his right hand, might instantly be reduced to ashes; and Mahadeo conferred the boon, without suspicion of the purpose for which it was designed.

The Rachas no sooner found himself possessed of this formidable power, than he attempted to use it for the destruction of his benefactor. Mahadeo fled, the Rachas pursued, and followed the fugitive so closely as to chace him into a duck grove; where Mahadeo, changing his form and bulk, concealed himself in the centre of a fruit, then called tunda pundoo, but since named linga {170} tunda, from the resemblance which its kernel thenceforward assumed to the ling, the appropriate emblem of Mahadeo.

The Rachas having lost sight of Mahadeo, enquired of a husbandman, who was working in the adjoining field, whether he had seen the fugitive, and what direction he had taken. The husbandman, who had attentively observed the whole transaction, fearful of the future resentment of Mahadeo, and equally alarmed for the present vengeance of the giant, answered aloud, that he had seen no fugitive, but pointed, at the same time, with the little finger of his right hand, to the place of Mahadeo’s concealment.

In this extremity,2 Vishnou descended, in the form of a beautiful damsel, to the rescue of Mahadeo. The Rachas became instantly enamoured;—the damsel was a pure Brahmin, and might not be approached by the unclean Rachas. By degrees she appeared to relent; and, as a previous condition to farther advances, enjoined the performance of his ablutions in a neighbouring pool. After these were finished, she prescribed, as a farther purification, the performance of the Sundia,—a ceremony in which the right hand is successively applied to the breast, to the crown of the head, and to other parts of the body. {171} The Rachas, thinking only of love, and forgetful of the powers of his right hand, performed the Sundia, and was himself reduced to ashes.

Mahadeo now issued from the linga tunda, and, after the proper acknowledgments for his deliverance, proceeded to discuss the guilt of the treacherous husbandman, and determined on the loss of the finger with which he had offended, as the proper punishment of his crime.

The wife of the husbandman, who had just arrived at the field with food for her husband, hearing this dreadful sentence, threw herself at the feet of Mahadeo. She represented the certain ruin of her family, if her husband should be disabled for some months from performing the labours of the farm, and besought the Deity to accept two of her fingers, instead of one from her husband. Mahadeo, pleased with so sincere a proof of conjugal affection, accepted the exchange, and ordained, that her female posterity, in all future generations, should sacrifice two fingers at his temple, as a memorial of the transaction, and of their exclusive devotion to the God of the Ling.

The practice is, accordingly, confined to the supposed, posterity of this single woman, and is not common to the whole sect of Murresoo-Wokul. I ascertained the actual number of families who observed this practice in three {172} successive districts through which I afterwards passed, and I conjecture that, within the limits of Misoor, they may amount to about two thousand houses.

The Hill of Sectee, in the talook of Colar, where the giant was destroyed, is (according to this tradition) formed of the ashes of Busmaa-soor: It is held in particular veneration by this sect, as the chief seat of their appropriate sacrifice; and the fact of its containing little or no moisture, is held to be a miraculous proof that the ashes of the giant continue to absorb the most violent and continued rain. This is a remarkable example of easy credulity. I have examined the mountain, which is of a sloping form, and composed of coarse granite.—Hist. Sketches of the South of India, vol. i. p. 442, note.

The Ship of Heaven.—VI. p. 56.

I have converted the Vimana, or self-moving Car of the Gods, into a Ship. Capt. Wilford has given the history of its invention,—and, what is more curious, has attempted to settle the geography of the story:

“A most pious and venerable sage, named Rishi’ce’sa, being very far advanced in years, had resolved to visit, before he died, all the famed places of pilgrimage; and, having performed his resolution, he bathed at last in the sacred water of the Ca’li, where he observed some {173} fishes engaged in amorous play, and restating on their numerous progeny, which would sport like then in the stream, he lamented the improbability of leaving any children: but, since he might possibly be a father, even at his great age, he went immediately to the king of that country, Hiranyaverna, who had fifty daughters, and demanded one of them in marriage. So strange a demand gave the prince great uneasiness: yet he was unwilling to incur the displeasure of a saint, whose imprecations he dreaded; he, therefore, invoked Heri, or Vishnu; to inspire him with a wise answer, and told the hoar philosopher, that he should marry any one of his daughters, who, of her own accord, should fix on him as her bridegroom. The sage, rather disconcerted, left the palace; but, calling to mind the two sons of Aswini, he hastened to their terrestrial abode, and requested that they would bestow on him both youth and beauty: they immediately conducted him to Abhimatada, which we suppose to be Abydus, in Upper Egypt; and, when he had bathed in the pool of Rupayauvana, he was restored to the flower of his age with the graces and charms of Ca’ma’de’va. On his return to the palace, he entered the secret apartments, called antahpura, where the fifty princesses were assembled: and they were all so transported with the vision of more than human beauty, {174} that they fell into an ecstacy, whence the place was afterwards named Mohast-han, or Mohana, and is, possibly, the same with Mohannan. They no sooner had recovered from their trance, than each of them exclaimed, that she would be his bride; and their altercation having brought Hiranyaverna into their apartment, he terminated the contest by giving them all in marriage to Rishice’sa, who became the father of a hundred sons; and, when he succeeded to the throne, built the city of Suc-haverddhana, framed vimânas, or celestial, self-moving cars, in which he visited the gods, and made gardens, abounding in delights, which rivalled the bowers of Indra; but, having granted the desire, which he formed at Matoyasangama, or the place where the fish were assembled, he resigned the kingdom to his eldest son Hiranyavriddha, and returned, in his former shape, to the banks of the Ca’li, where he closed his days in devotion.—Wilford. Asiatic Researches.

Dushmanta. In what path of the winds are we now journeying?

Matali. This is the way which leads along the triple river, heaven’s brightest ornament, and causes yon luminaries to roll in a circle with diffused beams: it is the course of a gentle breeze which supports the floating {175} forms of the gods; and this path was the second step of Vishnu when he confounded the proud Bali.

* * *

Dushmanta. The car itself instructs me that we are moving over clouds pregnant with showers; for the circumference of its wheels disperses pellucid water.

* * *

Dushmanta. These chariot wheels yield no sound; no dust arises from them, and the descent of the car gave me no shock.

Matali. Such is the difference, O King! between thy car and that of Indra.—Sacontala.

And ending thus where they began, &c.—VII. p. 66.

It has been supposed that the perpetual lamps, which were at one time believed to have been found in certain sepulchres, were kept burning by a similar process. For the lamp, it was argued, being hermetically closed, so that no smoke could escape, the smoke was condensed into its original liquid form; and thus the liquor which fed the flame passing into smoke, and the smoke again into the liquor, the flame was continually kept up. There still remained a difficulty about the wick; some supposed that this was made of threads of gold inconceivably fine: others, with less expense of fancy, said a wick of {176} asbestos would answer the purpose.—Feyjoo. Theatro Critico, T. 4. Disc. 3. § v. 13.

The Raining Tree.—VII. p. 65.

The island of Fierro is one of the most considerable of the Canaries, and I conceive that name to be given it upon this account, that its soil not affording so much as a drop of fresh water, seems to be of iron; and, indeed, there is in this island neither river, nor rivulet, nor well, nor spring, save that only, towards the sea-side, there are some wells; but they lie at such a distance from the city, that the inhabitants can make no use thereof. But the great Preserver and Sustainer of all, remedies this inconvenience by a way so extraordinary, that a man will be forced to sit down and acknowledge that he gives in this an undeniable demonstration of his goodness and infinite providence,

For, in the midst of the island, there is a tree, which is the only one of its kind, inasmuch as it hath no resemblance to those mentioned by us in this relation, nor to any other known to us in Europe. The leaves of it are long and narrow, and continue in a constant verdure, winter and summer; and its branches are covered with a cloud, which is never dispelled, but resolved into a moisture, which causes to fall from its leaves a very clear water, {177} and that in such abundance, that the cisterns, which are placed at the foot of the tree to receive it, are never empty, but contain enough to supply both men and beasts.—Mandelslo.

Feyjoo denies the existence of any such tree, upon the authority of P. Tallandier, a French Jesuit, (quoted in Men. de Trevoux. 2715, art. 97.) who visited the island. “Assi no dudo,” he adds, “que este Fenix de las plantas es ten fingedo como el de las aves.”—Theat. Crit. Tom. ii. Disc. 2. § 65. What authority is due to the testimony of this French Jesuit I do not know, never having seen his book; but it appears, from the undoubted evidence of Glas, that its existence is believed in the Canaries, and positively affirmed by the inhabitants of Fierro itself.

“There are,” says this excellent author, “only three fountains of water in the whole island, one of them is called Acof,3 which, in the language of the ancient inhabitants, signifies river; a name, however, which does not seem to have been given it on account of its yielding much water, for in that respect it hardly deserves the same of a fountain. More to the northward is another called Hapio; and in the middle of the island is a spring, {178} yielding a stream about the thickness of a man’s finger. This last was discovered in the year 1565, and is called the Fountain of Anton Hernandez. On account of the scarcity of water, the sheep, goats, and swine here do not drink in the summer, but are taught to dig up the roots of fern, and chew them, to quench their thirst. The great cattle are watered at those fountains, and at a place where water distils from the leaves of a tree. Many writers have made mention of this famous tree; some in such a manner as to make it appear miraculous; others again deny the existence of any such tree, among whom is Father Feyjoo, a modern Spanish author, in his Theatro Critico. But he, and those who agree with him in this matter, are as much mistaken as they who would make it appear miraculous. This is the only island of all the Canaries which I have not been in; but I have sailed with natives of Hierro, who, when questioned about the existence of this tree, answered in the affirmative.

The author of the History of the Discovery and Conquest has given us a particular account of it, which I shall relate here at large. “The district in which this tree stands is called Tigulahe; near to which, and in the cliff, or steep rocky ascent that surrounds the whole island, is a narrow gutter or gulley, which commences at the sea, and continues to the summit of the cliff, where it joins or {179} coincides with a valley, which is terminated by the steep front of a rock. On the top of this rock grows a tree, called, in the language of the ancient inhabitants, Garse, i.e. Sacred or Holy Tree, which, for many years, has been preserved sound, entire, and fresh. Its leaves constantly distil such a quantity of water as is sufficient to furnish drink to every living creature in Hierro; nature having provided this remedy for the drought of the island. It is situated about a league and a half from the sea. Nobody knows of what species it is, only that it is called Til. It is distinct from other, trees, and stands by itself; the circumference of the trunk is about twelve spans, the diameter four, and in height, from the ground to the top of the highest branch, forty spans: The circumference of all the branches together, is one hundred and twenty feet. The branches are thick and extended; the lowest commence about the height of an ell from the ground. Its fruit resembles the acorn, and tastes something like the kernel of a pine-nut, but is softer and more aromatic. The leaves of this tree resemble those of the laurel, but are larger, wider, and more curved; they come forth in a perpetual succession, so that the tree always remains green. Near to it grows a thorn, which fastens on many of its branches, and interweaves with them; and, at a small distance from the Garse, are some beech-trees, {180} bresos, and thorns. On the north side of the trunk are two large tanks, or cisterns, of rough stone, or rather one patera divided, each half being twenty feet square, and sixteen spans in depth. One of these contains water for the drinking of the inhabitants, and the other that which they use for their cattle, washing, and such like purposes. Every morning, near this part of the island, a cloud or mist arises from the sea, which the south and easterly winds force against the fore-mentioned steep cliff; so that the cloud, having no vent but by the gutter, gradually ascends it, and from thence advances slowly to the extremity of the valley, where it is stopped and checked by the front of the rock which terminates the valley, and then rests upon the thick leaves and wide-spreading branches of the tree; from whence it distils in drops during the remainder of the day, until it is at length exhausted, in the same manner that we see water drip from the leaves of trees after a heavy shower of rain. This distillation is not peculiar to the Garse, or Til, for the bresos which grow near it likewise drop water; but their leaves being but few and narrow, the quantity is so trifling, that, though the natives save some of it, yet they make little or no account of any but what distils from the Til; which, together with the water of some fountains, and what is saved in the winter season, is sufficient to {181} serve them and their flocks. This tree yields most water in those years when the Levant, or easterly winds, have prevailed for a continuance; for by these winds only, the clouds or mists are drawn hither from the sea. A person lives on the spot near which this tree grows, who is appointed by the Council to take care of it and its water, and is allowed a house to live in, with a certain salary. He every day distributes to each family of the district, seven pots or vessels full of water, besides what he gives to the principal people of the island.”

“Whether the tree which yields water at this present time be the same as that mentioned in the above description, I cannot pretend to determine, but it is probable there has been a succession of them; for Pliny, describing the Fortunate Islands, says, “In the mountains of Ombrion, are trees resembling the plant Ferula, from which water may be procured by pressure: What comes from the black kind is bitter, but that which the white yields is sweet and palatable.”—Glas’s History of the Canary Islands.

Cordeyro (Historia Insulana, lib. ii. c. 5.) says, that this tree resembles what in other places is called the Til, (Tilia,) the Linden Tree; and he proceeds, from these three letters, to make it an emblem of the Trinity. The water, he says, was called the Agua Santa, and the tree {182} itself the Santa Arvore,—appellations not ill bestowed. According to his account the water was delivered out in stated portions.

There is an account of a similar tree in Cockburne’s Travels; but this I believe to be a work of fiction. Bernal Diaz, however, mentions one as growing at Naco, in Honduras, “Que en mitad de la siesta, por recio sol que hiziesse, parecia que la sombra del arbol refrescava el corazon, caia del uno como rozio muy delgado que confortava las cabezas.”—206.

There may be some exaggeration in the accounts of the Fierro Tree, but that the story has some foundation I have no doubt. The islanders of St. Thomas say, that they have a sort of trees whose leaves continually are distilling water. (Barbot. in Churckle, 405.) It is certain that a dew falls in hot weather from the lime,—a fact of which any person may easily convince himself. The same property has been observed in other English trees, as appears by the following extract from the Monthly Magazine:

“In the beginning of August, after a sun-shine day, the air became suddenly misty about six o’clock; I walked, however, by the road side from seven to eight, and observed, in many places, that a shower of big drops of water was falling under the large trees, although no rain {183} fell elsewhere. The road and path continued dusty, and the field-gates showed no signs of being wetted by the mist. I have often noticed the like fact, but have not met with a satisfactory explanation of this power in trees to condense mist.”

I am not the only poet who has availed himself of the Fierro Tree. It is thus introduced in the Columbus of Carrara,—a singular work, containing, amid many extravagancies, some passages of rare merit:

Ecce autem inspector miri dum devius ignis Fertur, in occursum miræ magis incidit undæ. Æquoris in medio diffusi largiter arbor Stabat, opaca, ingens, ævoque intacta priori, Grata qiues Nymphis, et grata colentibus umbram Alitibus sedes, quarum vox blanda, nec ullâ Musicus arte canor sylvam resonare docebat. Auditor primum rari modulaminis, utque Cominus admovit gressum, spectator et hæsit; Namque videbat, uti de cortice, deque supernis Crinibus, argentum guttatim mitteret humens Truncus, et ignaro plueret Jove; moxque serenus In concham caderet subjecti marmoris imber, Donec ibi in fontem collectis undique rivis Cresceret, atque ipso jam non ingratus ab ortu Redderet humorem matri, quæ commodat umbram.
Dum stupet et quærit, cur internodia possit Unda; per et fibras, virides et serpere rugas, Et ferri sursum, genio ducente deorsum; Adstitit en Nympha; dubitat decernere, Nais, Anne Dryas, custos num fontis, an arboris esset; Verius ut credam, Genius sub imagine Nymphæ Ille loci fuerat. Quam præstantissimus Heros Protinus ut vidit, Parce, o pulcherrima, dixit, Si miser, et vestras ejectus nuper ad oras Naufragus, idem audax videor fortasse rogando. Dic age, quas labi video de stipite, lymphæ Montibus anne cadant, per operta foramina ductæ, Mox trabis irriguæ saliant in frondea sursum Brachia, ramalesque tubos; genitalis an alvus Umbrosæ genitricis alat; ceu sæpe videmus Balsama de truncis, stillare electra racemis. Pandere ne grave sit cupienti noscere causam Vilia quæ vobis usus miracula fecit.
Hæc ubi dicta, silet. Tum Virgo ita reddidit, Hospes Quisquis es, (eximium certe præsentia prodit) Deciperis, si forte putas, quas aspicis undas Esse satas terrâ; procul omni a sede remota Mira arbos, uni debet sua munera Cœlo. Quâ ratione tamen capiat, quia noscere gestis Edicam; sed dicendis ne tædia repant, Hic locus, hæc eadem, de quâ cantabitur, arbor Dat tempestivam blandis afflatibus umbram: Hic una sedeamus; et ambo fontis ad undam Consedere; dehinc intermittente parumper Concentu volucrum, placido sic incipit ore.
Nomine Canariæ, de quâ tenet Insula nomen, Virgo fuit, non ore minus, quam prædita raræ Laude pudicitiæ, mirum quæ pectore votum Clausit, ut esse eadem genitrix et virgo cupiret. At quia in Urbe satam fuerat sortita parentem Ortum rure Patrem, diversis moribus hausit Hinc sylvæ austeros, teneros hinc Urbis amores. Sæpe ubi visendi studio convenerat Urbes, Et dare blanditias natis et sumere matres Viderat ante fores, ut mater amavit amari. Sæpe ubi rure fuit de nymphis una Dianæ, Viderat atque Deam thalami consorte carentem, Esse Deæ similis, nec amari ut mater amavit. Sed quid aget? cernit fieri non posse quod optat; Non optare tamen, crudelius urit amantem. Noctis erat medium: quo nos sumus, hoc erat illa Forte loco, Cœloque videns splendescere Lunam, O Dea, cui triplicis concessa potentia regni, Parce precor, dixit, si quæ nunc profero, non sum Ausa prius; quod non posses audire Diana, Cum sis Luna potes; tenebræ minuere pudorem. Est mihi Virginitas, fateor, re charior omni, Attamen, hâc salvâ, fœcundæ si quoque Matris Nomina miscerem, duplici de nomine quantum Ambitiosa forem; certe non parva voluptas Me caperet, coram si quis me luderet infans Si mecum gestu, mecum loqueretur ocellis, Cumque potest, quacumque potest, me voce vocaret, Cujus et in vultu multum de matre viderem. Ni sinit hoc humana tamen nature licere, Fiat quâ ratione potest; mutare figuram Nil refert, voti compos si denique fiam. Annuit oranti facilis Dea; Virgine digna Et quia vota tulit, Virgo probat. Eligit ergo De grege Plantarum ligni quæ cœlibis esset. Visa fuit Platanus: placet hæc; si vertat in istam Canariæ corpus, sibi tempus in omne futuram Tam caram esse videt, quam sit sua laurea Phœbo. Nec mora, poscenti munus, ne signa deessent Certa dati, movit falcatæ cornua frontis. Virginis extemplo cœpere rigere crura Tenvia vestiri duro præcordia libro, Ipsaque miratur, cervix quod eburnea, quantum It Cœlo, tantum tendant in Tartara plantæ; Et jam formosâ de Virgine stabat et Arbos Non formosa minus; qui toto in corpore pridem Par ebori fuerat, candor quoque cortice mansit. Sed deerat conjux uxoris moribus æque Integer et cœlebs, et Virginitatis amator, Quo fœcunda foret; verum tellure petendus Hon hic, ab axe fuit. Quare incorruptus et idem Purior e cunctis stellatæ noctis alumnis Poscitur Hersophorus, sic Graii nomine dicunt, Rorem Itali. Quocumque die (quis credere posset?) Tamquam ex condicto cum Sol altissimus extat, Sydereus conjux nebulæ velatus amictu Labitur huc, niveisque maritam amplectitur alis: Quodque fidem superat, parvo post tempora fœtum Concipit, et parvo post tempore parturit arbor, Molle puerperium vis noscere? consule fontem, Qui nos propter adest, in quo mixtura duorum Agnosci possit, splendet materque paterque. Læta fovet genitrix, compos jam facta cupiti; Illius optarat vultu se noscere, noscit; Cernere ludentem se circum, ludere cernit; Illum audire rudi matrem quoque voce vocantem, Et matrem sese dici dum murmurat, audit. Nec modo Virgintas fæcunda est arboris, ipsæ Sunt quoque fœcundæ frondes, quas excutit arbor. Nam simul ac supra latices cecidere tepentes, Insuper accessit Phœbei flamma caloris, Concipiunt, pariuntque: oriturque tenerrimius ales Nomine Canarius, qui pene exclusus in auras, Tenvis adhuc, cœlique rudis, crudusque labori Jam super extantes affectat scandere ramos, Et frondes, quarum una fuit. Nidum inde sub illis Collocat adversum Soli, cui pandere pennas Et siccare queat; latet hic, nullâque magistrâ Arte canit, matrisque replet concentibus aures. Adde quod affectus reddit genitricis eosdem, Utque puellari genitrix in pectore clausit, Hinc sylvæ austeros, teneros hinc Urbis amores, Sic amat hic sylvas, ut non fastidiat Urbes. Tecta colit, patiturque hominem, nec divitis aulæ Grande supercilium metuit sylvestris alumnus. Imo loco admonitus, vix aulicus incipit esse, Jam fit adulator, positum proferre paratus In statione melos, domini quod vellicet aurem. Carrara. Columbus.


The Walking-Leaf would have been better than the Canary Bird.

Nared.—VII. p. 67.

A very distinguished son of Brahma, named Nared, bears a strong resemblance to Hermes or Mercury; he was a wise legislator, great in arts and in arms, an eloquent messenger of the Gods either to one another, or to favoured mortals, and a musician of exquisite skill. His invention of the Vina, or Indian lute, is thus described in the poem entitled Magha: “Nared sat watching from time to time his large Vina, which, by the impulse of the breeze, yielded notes that pierced successively the regions of his ear, and proceeded by musical intervals.”—Asiatic Researches, Sir W. Jones.

The Vina is an Æolian harp. The people of Amboyna have a different kind of Æolian instrument, which is thus described in the first account of D’Entrecasteaux’s Voyage: “Being on the sea-shore, I heard some wind-instruments, the harmony of which, though sometimes very correct, was intermixed with discordant notes that were by no means unpleasing. These sounds, which were very musical, and formed fine cadences, seemed to come from such a distance, that I for some time imagined the natives were having a concert beyond the road-stead, near a myriameter {190} from the spot where I stood. My ear was greatly deceived respecting the distance, for I was not an hundred meters from the instrument. It was a bamboo at least twenty meters in height, which had been fixed in a vertical situation by the sea-side. I remarked between each knot a slit about three centimeters long by a centimeter and a half wide; these slits formed so many holes, which, when the wind introduced itself into them, gave agreeable and diversified sounds. As the knots of this long bamboo were very numerous, care had been takes to make holes in different directions, in order that, on whatever side the wind blew, it might always meet with some of them. I cannot convey a better idea of the sound of this instrument, than by comparing them to those of the Harmonica.”—Labillardiere. Voyage in Search of La Perouse.

Nareda, the mythological offspring of Saraswati, patroness of music, is famed for his talents in that science. So great were they, that he became presumptuous; and, emulating the divine strains of Krishna, he was punished by having his Vina placed in the paws of a bear, whence it emitted sounds far sweeter than the minstrelsy of the mortified musician. I have a picture of this joke, in which Krishna is forcing his reluctant friend to attend to his rough-visaged rival, who is ridiculously touching the {191} chords of poor Nareda’s Vina, accompanied by a brother bruin on the cymbals. Krishna passed several practical jokes on his humble and affectionate friend: He metamorphosed him once into a woman, at another time into a bear.—Moor’s Hindu Pantheon, p. 204.

——The Sacrifice
That should, to men and gods, proclaim him Lord
And Sovereign Master of the vassal World.—VII. p. 71.

The Raisoo Yug, or Feast of Rajahs, could only be performed by a monarch who had conquered all the other sovereigns of the world.—Halhed. Note to the Life of Creeshna.

Sole Rajah, the Omnipotent below.—VII. p. 71.

No person has given so complete a sample of the absurdity of oriental titles as the Dutch traveller Struys, in his enumeration of “the proud and blasphemous titles of the King of Siam,—they will hardly bear sense,” says the translator, in what he elsewhere calls, by a happy blunder, “the idiotism of our tongue.”

The Alliance, written with letters of fine gold, being full of godlike glory. The most Excellent, containing all wise sciences. The most Happy, which is not in the world among men. The Best and most Certain that is {192} in Heaven, Earth, and Hell. The greatest Sweet, and friendly Royal Word; whose powerful-sounding properties and glorious fame range through the world, as if the dead were raised by a godlike power, and wonderfully purged from ghostly and corporal corruption. At this both spiritual and secular men admire with a special joy, whereas no dignity may be herewith compared. Proceeding from a friendly, illustrious, inconquerable, most mighty, and most high Lord; and a royal Crown of Gold, adorned with nine sorts of precious stones. The greatest, clearest, and most godlike Lord of unblameable Souls. The most Holy, seeing every where, and protecting Sovereign of the city Judia, whose many streets and open gates are thronged by troops of men, which is the chief metropolis of the whole world, the royal throne of the earth, that is adorned with nine sorts of stones, and most pleasant valleys. He who guides the reins of the world, and has a house more than the Gods of fine gold and of precious stones; they the godlike Lords of thrones and of fine gold; the White, Red, and Round-tayl’d Elephants,—which excellent creatures are the chiefest of the nine sorts of Gods. To none hath the divine Lord given, in whose hand is the victorious sword; who is like the fiery-armed God of Battails, to the most illustrious.

The second is as blasphemous as the first, though hardly swells so far out of sense.


The highest Paducco Syry Sultan, Nelmonam Welgaca, Nelmochadin Magiviitha, Jouken der eauten Allaula fylan, King of the whole world; who makes the water rise and flow. A King that is like a God, and shines like the Sun at noon-day. A King that gives a glance like the moon when it is at full. Elected of God to be worthy as the North Star, being of the race and offspring of the great Alexander; with a great understanding, as a round orb, that tumbles hither and thither, able to guess at the depth of the great sea. A King that hath amended all the funerals of the departed Saints, and is as righteous as God, and of such power that all the world may come and shelter under his wings. A King that doth right in all things, as the Kings of old have done. A King more liberal than all Kings. A King that hath many mines of gold that God hath lent him; who hath built temples half gold and half brass; sitting upon a throne of pure gold, and of all sorts of precious stones. A King of the white Elephant, which Elephant is the King of all Elephants, before whom many thousands of other Elephants must bow and fall upon their knees. He whose eyes shine like the morning-star. A King that hath Elephants with four teeth, red, purple, and pied. Elephants, ay, and a Byytenaques Elephant; for which God has given him many and divers sorts of apparel {194} wrought with most fine gold, ennobled with many precious stones: and, besides these, so many Elephants used in battle, having harnesses of iron, their teeth tipt with steel, and their harnesses laid over with shining brass. A King that has many hundred horses, whose trappings are wrought with fine gold, and adorned with precious stones of every sort that are found in the universal world where the Sun shines, and these shod with fine gold: besides so many hundred horses that are used in war of every kind. A King who has all Emperours, Kings, Princes, and Sovereigns in the whole world, from the rising to the going down of the sun, under subjection;—and such as can obtain his favour are by him promoted to great honour; but, on the contrary, such as revolt, he burns with fire. A King who can show the power of God, and whatever God has made.

And so, by this time, I hope you have heard enough of a King of Elephants and Horses, though not a word of his Asses.—Struys.

The Sacrifice.—VIII. p. 74.

The Aswamedha, or sacrifice of a horse. Considerable difficulties usually attended that ceremony; for the consecrated horse was to be set at liberty for a certain time, and followed at a distance by the owner, or his champion, {195} who was usually one of his near kinsmen; and, if any person should attempt to stop it in its rambles, a battle must inevitably ensue; besides, as the performer of a hundred Aswamedhas became equal to the God of the firmament, Indra was perpetually on the watch, and generally carried off the sacred animal by force or by fraud.—Wilford. Asiat. Res.

Mr. Halhed gives a very curious account of this remarkable sacrifice:

“The Ashum-meed-Jugg does not merely consist in the performance of that ceremony which is open to the inspection of the world, namely, in bringing a horse and sacrificing him; but Ashum-meed is to be taken in a mystic signification, as implying that the sacrificer must look upon himself to be typified in that horse, such as he shall be described, because the religious duty of the Ashum-meed-Jugg comprehends all those other religious duties, to the performance of which all the wise and holy direct all their actions, and by which all the sincere professors of every different faith aim at perfection: The mystic signification thereof is as follows:

“The head of that unblemished horse is the symbol of the morning; his eyes are the sun; his breath the wind; his wide-opening mouth is the Bishwaner, or that innate warmth which invigorates all the world: His body typifies {196} one entire year; his back paradise; his belly the plains; his hoof this earth; his sides the four quarters of the heavens; the bones thereof the intermediate spaces between the four quarters; the rest of his limbs represent all distinct matter; the places where those limbs meet, or his joints, imply the months and halves of the months, which are called peche (or fortnights): His feet signify night and day; and night and day are of four kinds, 1. the night and day of Birhma, 2. the night and day of angels, 3. the night and day of the world of the spirits of deceased ancestors, 4. the night and day of mortals; these four kinds are typified in his four feet. The rest of his bones are the constellations of the fixed stars, which are the twenty-eight stages of the moon’s course, called the Lunar year; his flesh is the clouds; his food the sand; his tendons the rivers; his spleen and his liver the mountains; the hair of his body the vegetables, and his long hair the trees: the fore part of his body typifies the first half of the day, and the hinder part the latter half; his yawning is the flash of the lightning, and his turning himself is the thunder of the cloud: His urine represents the rain, and his mental reflection is his only speech. The golden vessels, which are prepared before the horse is let loose, are the light of the day, and the place where those vessels are kept is a type of the Ocean {197} of the East; the silver vessels, which are prepared after the horse is let loose, are the light of the night; and the place where those vessels are kept is a type of the Ocean of the West: these two sorts of vessels are always before and after the horse. The Arabian horse, which, on account of its swiftness, is called Hy, is the performer of the journies of angels; the Tajee, which is of the race of Persian horses, is the performer of the journies of the Kundherps (or good spirits); the Wazba, which is of the race of the deformed Tazee horses, is the performer of the journies of the Jins, (or demons;) and the Ashoo, which is of the race of Turkish horses, is the performer of the journies of mankind. This one horse, which performs these several services, on account of his four different sorts of riders, obtains the four different appellations. The place where this horse remains is the great ocean, which signifies, the great spirit of Perm-Atma, or the Universal Soul, which proceeds also from that Perm-Atma, and is comprehended in the same Perm-Atma. The intent of this sacrifice is, that a man should consider himself to be in the place of that horse, and look upon all these articles as typified in himself; and, conceiving the Atma (or divine soul) to be an ocean, should let all thought of self be absorbed in that Atma.”—Halhed, from Darul Shekuh.


Compare this specimen of eastern sublimity with the description of the horse in Job! Compare it also with the account of the Bengal horses, in the very amusing work of Captain Williamson,—“which said horses,” he says, “have generally Reman noses, and sharp narrow foreheads, much white in their eyes, ill-shaped ears, square heads, thin necks, narrow chests, shallow girths, lank bellies, cat hams, goose rumps, and switch tails.”—Oriental Sports, vol. ii. p. 206.

The Bowl that in its vessel floats.—VIII. p. 78.

The day and night are here divided into four quarters, each of six hours, and these again into fifteen parts, of twenty-four minutes each. For a chronometer they use a kind of dish of thin brass, at the bottom of which there is a little hole; this is put into a vessel with water, and it runs full in a certain time. They begin their first quarter at six in the morning. They strike the quarters and subdivisions of time with a wooden hammer, upon a flat piece of iron or steel, of about ten inches in diameter, which is called a garnial, and gives a pretty smart sound, which can be heard at some distance. The quarters are first struck, and then as many times as the brass dish has run full in that quarter. None but the chief men of a district are allowed to have a garnial, and still they may {199} not strike the first division of the first quarter, which is a privilege reserved to the nabob alone. Those who attend at these clocks must be of the Bramin cast.—Stavorinus.

Lo, the time-taper’s flame, ascending slow
Creeps up its coil.—VIII. p. 79.

They make a sort of paste of the dust of a certain sort of wood, (the learned and rich men of sandal, eagle-wood, and others that are odoriferous), and of this paste they make sticks of several sorts, drawing them through a hole, that they may be of an equal thickness. They commonly make them one, two, or three yards long, about the thickness of a goose-quill, to burn in the pagods before their idols, or to use like a match to convey fire from one thing to another. These sticks or ropes they coil, beginning at the centre, and so form a spiral conical figure, like a fisherman’s wheel, so that the last circle shall be one, two, or three spans diameter, and will last one, two, or three days, or more, according as it is in thickness. There are of them in the temples that last ten, twenty, and thirty days. This thing is hung up by the centre, and is lighted at the lower end, whence the fire gently and insensibly runs round all the coil, on which there are generally five marks, to distinguish the five parts of the {200} night. This method of measuring time is so exact and true, that they scarce ever find any considerable mistake in it. The learned, travellers, and all others, who will rise at a certain hour to follow their business, hang a little weight at the mark that shews the hour they have a mind to rise at, which, when the fire comes thither, drops into a brass bason set under it; and so the noise of it falling awakes them, as our alarum-clocks do.—Gemelli Careri.

At noon the massacre begun,
And night clos’d in before the work of death was done.
—VIII. p. 82.

Of such massacres the ancient and modern history of the East supply but too many examples. One may suffice:

After the surrender of the Ilbars Khan, Nadir prohibited his soldiers from molesting the inhabitants; but their rapacity was more powerful than their habits of obedience, or even their dread of his displeasure, and they accordingly began to plunder. The instant Nadir heard of their disobedience, he ordered the offenders to be brought before him, and the officers were beheaded in his presence, and the private soldiers dismissed with the loss of their ears and noses. The executioners toiled till {201} sun-set, when he commanded the headless trunks with their arms to be carried to the main-guard, and there to be exposed for two days, as an example to others. I was present the whole time, and saw the wonderful hand of God, which employs such instruments for the execution of his divine vengeance; although not one of the executioners was satisfied with Nadir Shah, yet nobody dared to disobey his commands:—a father beheaded his son, and a brother a brother, and yet presumed not to complain.—Abdul Kurreem.

Behold his lovely home,
By yonder broad-bough’d Plane o’ershaded.—IX. p. 84.

The plane-tree, that species termed the Platanus Orientalis, is commonly cultivated in Kashmire, where it is said to arrive at a greater perfection than in other countries. This tree, which in most parts of Asia is called the Chinur, grows to the size of an oak, and has a taper straight trunk, with a silver-coloured bark; and its leaf, not unlike an expanded hand, is of a pale green. When in full foliage, it has a grand and beautiful appearance; and, in the hot weather, it affords a refreshing shade.—Forster.

The Marriage-Bower.—IX. p. 85.

The Pandal is a kind of arbour or bower raised before {202} the doors of young married women. They set up two or three poles, seven or eight foot in length, round which the leaves of the Pisan-tree, the symbol of joy, are entwined. These poles support others that are laid crossways, which are covered with leaves in order to form a shade. The Siriperes are allowed to set up no more than three pillars, and the infringing of this custom would be sufficient to cause an insurrection.—A. Roger, in Picart.

There, from the intolerable heat,
The buffaloes retreat.—IX. p. 87.

About noon, in hot weather, the buffalo throws herself into the water or mud of a tank, if there be one accessible at a convenient distance; and, leaving nothing above water but her nose, continues there for five or six hours, or until the heat abates.—Buchanan.

In the hot season, when water becomes very scarce, the buffaloes avail themselves of any puddle they may find among the covers, wherein they roll and rub themselves, so as in a short time to change what was at first a shallow flat, into a deep pit, sufficient to conceal their own bulk. The humidity of the soil, even when the water may have been evaporated, is particularly gratifying to these animals, which cannot bear heat, and which, if {203} not indulged in a free access to the water, never thrive.—Oriental Sports, vol. i. p. 259.

The buffalo not only delights in the water, but will not thrive unless it have a swamp to wallow in. There rolling themselves, they speedily work deep hollows, wherein they lay immersed. No place seems to delight the buffalo more than the deep verdure on the confines of jiels and marshes, especially if surrounded by tall grass, so as to afford concealment and shade, while the body is covered by the water. In such situations they seem to enjoy a perfect ecstacy, having in general nothing above the surface but their eyes and nostrils, the horns being kept low down, and consequently entirely hidden from view.—Oriental Sports, vol. ii. p. 49.

Captain Beaver describes these animals as to be found during the heat of the day in the creeks and on the shores of the island of Bulama, almost totally immerged in water, little more than their heads appearing above it.

The market-flag.—IX. p. 86.

Many villages have markets on particular days, when not only fruits, grain, and the common necessaries of life are sold, but occasionally manufactures of various descriptions. These markets are well known to all the neighbouring country, being on appointed days of the {204} week, or of the lunar month; but, to remind those who may be travelling of their vicinity to the means of supply, a naugaurah, or large kettle-drum, is beat during the forenoon, and a small flag, usually of white linen, with some symbolic figure in colours, or with a coloured border, is hoisted on a very long bamboo, kept upright by means of ropes fastened to pins driven into the ground. The flags of Hindoo villages are generally square and plain; those of the Mussulmans towns are ordinarily triangular, and bear the type of their, religion, viz. a double-bladed scymitar.—Oriental Sports, vol. i. p. 100.

Mount Meru.—X. p. 93.

According to the orthodox Hindus, the globe is divided into two hemispheres, both called Meru; but the superior hemisphere is distinguished by the name of Sumeru, which implies beauty and excellence, in opposition to the lower hemisphere, or Cumeru, which signifies the reverse: By Meru, without any adjunct, they generally mean the higher or northern hemisphere, which they describe with a profusion of poetic imagery as the seat of delights: while they represent Cumeru as the dreary habitation of demons, in some parts intensely cold, and in others so hot that the waters are continually boiling. In strict propriety, Meru denotes the pole and the polar {205} regions; but it is the celestial north pole round which they place the gardens and metropolis of Indra, while Yama holds his court in the opposite polar circle, or the Station of Asuras, who warred with the Suras, or gods of the firmament.—Wilford. Asiatic Researches.

In the Vayu Puráná, we are told, that the water, or Ogha of the ocean, coming down from heaven like a stream of Amrita upon Meru, encircles it through seven channels, for the space of 84,000 Yojanas, and then divides into four streams, which, falling from the immense height of Meru, rest themselves in four lakes, from which they spring over the mountains through the air, just brushing the summits. This wild account was not unknown in the west; for this passage is translated almost verbally, by Pliny and Q. Curtius, in speaking of the Ganges. Cum magno fragore ipsius statim fontis Ganges erumpit, et magnorum montium juga recto alveo stringit, et ubi primum mollis planities contingat, in quodam lacu hospitatur. The words in Italics are from Pliny (vi. c. 18.) the others from Curtius (viii. c. 9.)—Capt. Wilford. As. Res. vol. viii. p. 322. Calcutta edition.

The Swarganga, or Mandacini, rises from under the feet of Veeshno, at the polar star, and, passing through the circle of the moon, it falls upon the summit of Meru; where it divides into four streams, flowing toward {206} the four cardinal points. These four branches pass through four rocks, carved into the shape of four heads of different animals. The Ganges running towards the south passes through a cow’s head: To the west is a horse’s head, from which flows the Chaashu or Oxus; towards the east is the head of an elephant, from which flows the river Sita; and to the north is a lion’s head, from which flows the Bhadrasama.—Wilford. As. Res. vol. viii. 317. Calc. edition.

The mountains through which the Ganges flows at Hurdwar, present the spectator with the view of a grand natural amphitheatre; their appearance is rugged and destitute of verdure; they run in ridges and bluff points, in a direction east and west: At the back of the largest range, rise, towering to the clouds, the lofty mountains of Himmalayah, whose tops are covered with perpetual snow, which, on clear days, present a most sublime prospect. Their large jagged masses, broken into a variety of irregular shapes, added to their stupendous height, impress the mind with an idea of antiquity and grandeur coeval with the creation; and the eternal frost with which they are encrusted appears to preclude the possibility of mortals ever attaining their summit.

In viewing this grand spectacle of nature, the traveller may easily yield his assent to, and pardon the superstitious {207} veneration of the Hindoo votary, who, in the fervour of his imagination, assigns the summit of these icy regions as the abode of the great Mahadeo, or First Cause, where, seated on his throne of ice, he is supposed to receive the homage of the surrounding universe.—Franklin’s Life of George Thomas, p. 41.

At Gangóttara, three small streams fall down from impassable snowy precipices, and unite into a small bason below, which is considered by the Hindus as the source of the Ganges, over which, at that place, a man can step. This is one of the five Tirthas, or stations, more eminently sacred than the rest upon this sacred river. Narayana Shastri, who gave this account, had visited it.—Buchanan.

The mountain, called Cailasa Cungri is exceedingly lofty. On its summit there is a Bhowjputr tree, from the root of which sprouts or gushes a small stream, which the people say is the source of the Ganges, and that it comes from Vaicont’ha, or Heaven, as is also related in the Puránas; although this source appears to the sight to flow from the spot where grows this Bhowjputr tree, which is at an ascent of some miles; and yet above this there is a still loftier summit, where no one goes: But I have heard that, on that uppermost pinnacle, there is a fountain or cavity, to which a Jogui somehow penetrated, {208} who, having immersed his little finger in it, it became petrified.—Purana Poori. Asiatic Researches.

Respecting the true source of the Ganges much uncertainty still prevails. In vain one of the most powerful sovereigns of Indostan, the emperor Acbar, at the close of the sixteenth century, sent a number of men, an army of discoverers, provided with every necessary, and the most potent recommendations, to explore the course of the mighty river which adorned and fertilised the vast extent of his dominions. They were not able to penetrate beyond the famous Mouth of the Cow. This is an immense aperture, in a ridge of the mountains of Thibet, to which the natives of India have given this appellation, from the fancied or real resemblance of the rocks which form the stupendous chasm, to the mouth of an animal esteemed sacred throughout Indostan from the remotest antiquity. From this opening the Ganges, precipitating itself into a large and deep bason at the foot of the mountains, forms a cataract, which is called Gangotri. The impracticability of scaling these precipitous rocks, and advancing beyond this formidable pass, has prevented the tracing whence this rushing mass of water takes its primary rise.—Wilcocke, Note to Stavorinus.


The birth of Ganges.—X. p. 94.

I am indebted to Sir William Jones’s Hymn to Ganga for this fable:

“Above the stretch of mortal ken, On bless’d Cailasa’s top, where every stem Glow’d with a vegetable gem, Mahe’sa stood, the dread and joy of men; While Párvati, to gain a boon, Fix’d on his locks a beamy moon, And hid his frontal eye, in jocund play, With reluctant sweet delay. All nature straight was lock’d in dim eclipse, Till Brahmans pure, with hallow’d lips, And warbled prayers, restored the day; When Ganga from his brow, by heavenly fingers press’d, Sprang radiant, and, descending, graced the caverns of the west.”

The descent of the Ganges is related in the Ramayuna, one of the most celebrated of the sacred books of the Bramins. This work the excellent and learned Baptist missionaries at Serampore are at this time employed in printing and translating; one volume has arrived in {210} Europe, and from it I am tempted here to insert an extract of considerable length. The reader will be less disposed to condemn the fictions of Kehama as extravagant, when he compares them with this genuine specimen of Hindoo fable. He will perceive, too, that no undue importance has been attributed to the Horse of the Sacrifice in the Poem.

“The son of Kooshika having, in mellifluous accents, related these things to Rama, again addressed the descendant of Kakootitha. Formerly, O hero! there was a king of Hyoodhya, named Sagura, the Sovereign of Men, virtuous, desirous of children, but childless; O Rama! the daughter of Vidurbhakeshinee, virtuous, attached to truth, was his chief consort, and the daughter of Urishtunemi, Soomuti, unequalled in beauty, his second spouse. With these two consorts, the great king, going to Himuvat, engaged in sacred austerities on the mountain in whose sacred stream Bhrigoo constantly bathed. A hundred years being completed, the sage Bhrigoo, clothed with truth, rendered propitious by his austerities, granted him this blessing: O sinless One! thou shalt obtain a most numerous progeny; thy fame, O chief of men! will be unparalleled in the universe. From one of thy consorts, O sire! shall spring the founder of thy race, and, from the other, sixty thousand sons.


“The queens, pleased, approached the chief of men who was thus speaking, and, with hands respectfully joined, asked, O Brahman! whose shall be the one son, and who shall produce the multitude? We, O Brahman! desire to hear. May thy words be verified. Hearing their request, the most virtuous Bhrigoo replied in these admirable words: Freely say which of these favours ye desire, whether the one, founder of the family, or the multitude of valiant, renowned, energetic sons. O Rama! son of Rughoo, Keshinee hearing the words of the sage, in the presence of the king accepted the one son, the founder of the family; and Soomuti, sister of Soopurna, accepted the sixty thousand sons, active and renowned. The king, O son of Rughoo! having respectfully circumambulated the sage, bowing the head, returned with his spouses to his own city.

“After some time had elapsed, his eldest spouse Keshinee bore to Sugura a son, named Usumunja; and Soomuti, O chief of men! brought forth a gourd, from which, on its being opened, came forth sixty thousand sons. These, carefully brought up by their nurses, in jars filled with clarified butter, in process of time attained the state of youth;4 and, after a long period, the {212} sixty thousand sons of Sugura, possessed of youth and beauty, became men. The eldest son, the offspring of Sugura, O son of Rughoo! chief of men, seizing children, would throw them into the waters of the Suruyoo, and sport himself with their drowning pangs. This evil person, the distresser of good men, devoted to the injury of the citizens, was by his father expelled from the city. The son of Usumunja, the heroic Ungshooman, in conversation courteous and affectionate, was esteemed by all.

“After a long time, O chief of men! Sugura formed the steady resolve, “I will perform a sacrifice.” Versed in the Veda, the king, attended by his instructors, having determined the things relating to the sacrificial work, began to prepare the sacrifice.

“Hearing the words of Vishwa-mitra, the son of Rughoo, highly gratified in the midst of the story, addressed the sage, bright as the ardent flame, Peace be to Thee: I desire, O Brahman! to hear this story at large, how my predecessors performed the sacrifice. Hearing his words, Vishwa-mitra, smiling, pleasantly replied to Rama: {213} “Attend, then, O Rama! to the story of Sugura, repeated at full length. Where the great mountain Himuvat, the happy father-in-law of Shunkura, and the mountain Bindhyo, overlooking the country around, proudly vie with each other, there was the sacrifice of the great Sugura performed. That land, sacred and renowned, is the habitation of Rakshuses. At the command of Sugura, the hero Ungshooman, O Rama! eminent in archery, a mighty charioteer, was the attendant (of the horse.5) While the king was performing the sacrifice, a serpent, assuming the form of Ununta, rose from the earth, and seized the sacrificial horse. The sacrificial victim being stolen, all the priests, O son of Rughoo! going to the king, said, Thy consecrated horse has been stolen by some one in the form of a serpent. Kill the thief, and bring back the sacred horse. This interruption in the sacrifice portends evil to us all. Take those steps, O king! which may lead to the completion of the sacrifice. Having heard the advice of his instructors, the king, calling his sixty thousand sons into the assembly, said, I perceive that the Rakshuses have not been to this great sacrifice. A sacrifice of the Nagas is now performing by the sages, and some god, in the form of a serpent, {214} has stolen the devoted horse. Whoever he be, who, at the time of the Deeksha, has been the cause of this afflictive circumstance, this unhappy event, whether he be gone to Patala, or whether he remain in the waters, kill him, O sons! and bring back my victim. May success attend you, O my sons! At my command traverse the sea-girt earth, digging with mighty labour, till you obtain a sight of the horse; each one piercing the earth to the depth of a yojunga, go you in search of him who stole the sacred horse. Being consecrated by the Deeksha, I, with my grandson and my teachers, will remain with the sacrifice unfinished, till I again behold my devoted horse.

“Thus instructed by their father Sugura, they, in obedience to him, went with cheerful mind, O Rama! to the bottom of the earth. The strong ones, having gone over the earth without obtaining a sight of the horse, each of these mighty men pierced the earth, to the depth of a yojuna, with their mighty arm, the stroke of which resembled the thunder-bolt. Pierced by Kooddalas,6 by Purighas,7 by Shoolas,8 by Mooshulas,9 {215} and Shuktis,10 the earth cried out as in darkness. Then arose, O Raghuva! a dreadful cry of the serpents, the Usooras, the Rakshuses, and other creatures, as of beings suffering death. These angry youths, O son of Rughoo! dug the earth even to Patala, to the extent of sixty thousand yojunas. Thus, O prince! the sons of the sovereign of men traversed Jumboodweepa, inclosed with mountains, digging wherever they came. The gods now, with the Gundburwas and the great serpents, struck with astonishment, went all of them to Bruhma, and, bowing even to the foot of the great spirit, they, full of terror, with dejected countenance, addressed him thus: “O Deva! O divine One! the whole earth, covered with mountains and woods, with rivers and continents, the sons of Sugura are now digging up. By these digging, O Bruhma! the mightiest beings are killed. This is the stealer of our consecrated victims; by this (fellow) our horse was taken away:” Thus saying, these sons of Sugura destroy all creatures. O most powerful! having heard this, it becomes thee to interpose, before these horse-seekers destroy all thy creatures endued with life.”

Thus far the thirty-second Section, describing the digging of earth.



“Hearing the words of the gods, the divine Bruhma replied to these affrighted ones, stupified with the Yuma-like power of these youths: The wise Vasoo-deva, the great Madhuva, who claims the earth for his spouse, that divine one, residing in the form of Kupila, supports the earth. By the fire of his wrath he will destroy the sons of the king. This piercing of the earth must, I suppose, be perceived by him, and he will (effect) the destruction of the long-sighted sons of Sugura. The thirty-three gods,11 enemy-subduing, having heard the words of Bruhma, returned home full of joy. The sons of Sugura, highly renowned, thus digging the earth, a sound was produced resembling that of conflicting elements. Having encompassed and penetrated the whole earth, the sons of Sugura, returning to their father, said, The whole earth has been traversed by us; and all the powerful gods, the Danuvas, the Ruckshuses, the Pishachas, the serpents, and hydras, are killed12; but we have not seen {217} thy horse, nor the thief. What shall we do? Success be to thee: be pleased to determine what more is proper. The virtuous king, having heard the words of his sons, O son of Rughoo! angrily replied, Again commence digging. Having penetrated the earth, and found the stealer of the horse, having accomplished your intention, return again. Attentive to the words of their father, the great Sugura, the sixty thousand descended to Patala, and there renewed their digging. There, O chief of men! they saw the elephant of that quarter of the globe, in size resembling a mountain, with distorted eyes, supporting with his head this earth, with its mountains and forests, covered with various countries, and adorned with numerous cities. When, for the sake of rest, O Kakootstha! the great elephant, through distress, refreshes himself by moving his head, an earthquake is produced.

“Having respectfully circumambulated this mighty elephant, guardian of the quarter, they, O Rama! praising him, penetrated into Patala. After they had thus penetrated the east quarter, they opened their way to the south. Here they saw that great elephant Muha-pudma, equal to a huge mountain, sustaining the earth with his head. Beholding him, they were filled with surprise; and, after the usual circumambulation, the sixty thousand sons of the great Sugura perforated the west quarter. {218} In this these mighty ones saw the elephant Soumunusa, of equal size. Having respectfully saluted him, and enquired respecting his health, these valiant ones digging, arrived at the north. In this quarter, O chief of Rughoo! they saw the snow-white elephant Bhudra, supporting this earth with his beautiful body. Circumambulating him, they again penetrated the earth, and proceeded north-east to that renowned quarter; all the sons of Sugura, through anger, pierced the earth again. There all those magnanimous ones, terrible in swiftness, and of mighty prowess, saw Kupila, Vasodeva the eternal,13 and near him the horse feeding. Filled, O son of Rughoo! with unparalleled joy, they all knowing him to be the stealer of the horse, with eyes starting with rage, seizing their spades and their langulas, and even trees and stones, ran towards him full of wrath, calling out, Stop, stop! thou art the stealer of our sacrificial horse: Thou stupid one, know that we who have found thee are the sons of Rughoo. Kupila, filled with excessive anger, uttered from his nostrils a loud sound, and instantly, O Kakootstha! by Kupila of immeasurable power, were all the sons of Sugura turned to a heap of ashes.”


Thus far the thirty-third Section, describing the interview with Kupila.


“O son of Rughoo! Sugura, perceiving that his sons had been absent a long time, thus addressed his grandson, illustrious by his own might: Thou art a hero, possessed of science, in prowess equal to thy predecessors. Search out the fate of thy paternal relatives, and the person by whom the horse was stolen, that we may avenge ourselves on these subterraneous beings, powerful and great. Take thy scymitar and bow, O beloved one! and finding out thy deceased paternal relatives, destroy my adversary. The proposed end being thus accomplished, return. Bring me happily through this sacrifice.

“Thus particularly addrest by the great Sugura, Ungshooman, swift and powerful, taking his bow and scymitar, departed. Urged by the king, the chief of men traversed the subterraneous road dug by his great ancestors. There the mighty one saw the elephant of the quarter, adored by the gods, the Danuvas and Rukshuses, the Pishachas, the birds and the serpents. Having circumambulated him, and asked concerning his welfare, Ungshooman {220} enquired for his paternal relatives, and the stealer of the sacred victim. The mighty elephant of the quarter hearing, replied, O son of Usumunja! thou wilt accomplish thine intention, and speedily return with the horse. Having heard this, he, with due respect, enquired, in regular succession, of all the elephants of the quarters. Honoured by all these guardians of the eight sides of the earth, acquainted with speech, and eminent in eloquence, he was told, Thou wilt return with the horse. Upon this encouraging declaration, he swiftly went to the place where lay his paternal relatives, the sons of Sugura, reduced to a heap of ashes. (At this sight) the son of Usumunja, overwhelmed with sorrow on account of their death, cried out with excess of grief. In this state of grief, the chief of men beheld, grazing near, the sacrificial horse. The illustrious one, desirous of performing the funeral obsequies of these sons of the king, looked around for a receptacle of water, but in vain. Extending his eager view, he saw, O Rama! the sovereign of birds, the uncle of his paternal relatives, Soopurna, in size resembling a mountain. Vinuteya, of mighty prowess, addressed him thus: Grieve not, O chief of men! this slaughter is approved by the universe. These great ones were reduced to ashes by Kupila of unmeasurable might. It is not proper for thee, O wise one! to pour common water upon {221} these ashes. Gunga, O chief of men! is the eldest daughter of Himuvut. With her sacred stream, O valiant one! perform the funeral ceremonies for thine ancestors. If the purifier of the world flow on them, reduced to a heap of ashes, these ashes, being wetted by Gunga, the illuminator of the world, the sixty thousand sons of thy grandfather will be received into heaven. May success attend thee! Bring Gunga to the earth from the residence of the gods. If thou art able, O chief of men! possessor of the ample share, let the descent of Gunga be accomplished by thee. Take the horse, and go forth. It is thine, O hero! for to complete the great paternal sacrifice.

“Having heard these words of Soopurna, Ungshooman, the heroic, speedily seizing the horse, returned. Then, O son of Rughoo! being come to the king, who was still performing the initiatory ceremonies, he related to him the whole affair, and the advice of Soopurna.

“After hearing the terror-inspiring relation of Ungshooman, the king finished the sacrifice, in exact conformity to the tenor and spirit of the ordinance: Having finished his sacrifice, the sovereign of the earth returned to his palace. The king, however, was unable to devise any way for the descent of Gunga from heaven: after a long time, unable to fix upon any method, he departed to heaven, having reigned thirty thousand years.


“Sugura having, O Rama! paid the debt of nature, the people chose Ungshooman, the pious, for their sovereign. Ungshooman, O son of Rughoo! was a very great monarch. His son was called Dwileepa. Having placed him on the throne, he, O Raguva! retiring to the pleasant top of Mount Himuvut, performed the most severe austerities. This excellent sovereign of men, illustrious as the immortals, was exceedingly desirous of the descent of Gunga; but not obtaining his wish, the renowned monarch, rich in sacred austerities, departed to heaven, after having abode in the forest sacred to austerities, thirty-two thousand years. Dwileepa, the highly energetic, being made acquainted with the slaughter of his paternal great-uncles, was overwhelmed with grief; but was still unable to fix upon a way of deliverance. How shall I accomplish the descent of Gunga? How shall I perform the funeral ablutions of these relatives? How shall I deliver them? In such cogitations was his mind constantly engaged. While these ideas filled the mind of the king, thoroughly acquainted with sacred duties, there was born to him a most virtuous son, called Bhugee-rutha. The illustrious king Dwileepa performed many sacrifices, and governed the kingdom for thirty thousand years; but, O chief of men! no way of obtaining the deliverance of his ancestors appearing, he, by a disease, discharged the debt {223} of nature. Having installed his own son Bhugee-rutha in the kingdom, the lord of men departed to the paradise of Indra, through the merits of his own virtuous deeds.

“The pious, the royal sage, Bhugee-rutha, O son of Rughoo! was childless. Desirous of offspring, yet childless, the great monarch entrusted the kingdom to the care of his counsellors; and, having his heart set on obtaining the descent of Gunga, engaged in a long course of sacred austerities upon the mountain Gokurna. With hands erected, he, O son of Rughoo! surrounded in the hot season with five fires,14 according to the prescribed ordinance; in the cold season lying in water; and in the rainy season exposed to the descending clouds, feeding on fallen leaves, with his mind restrained, and his sensual feelings subdued, this valiant and great king continued a thousand years in the practice of the most severe austerities. The magnanimous monarch of mighty arm having finished this period, the divine Bruhma, the lord of creatures, the supreme governor, was highly pleased; and with the gods, going near to the great Bhugee-rutha, employed in sacred austerities, said to him, I am propitious. O performer of sacred vows! ask a blessing. The mighty, {224} the illustrious Bhugee-rutha, with hands respectfully joined, replied to the sire of all, O divine one! if thou art pleased with me, if the fruit of my austerities may be granted, let all the sons of Sugura obtain water for their funeral rites. The ashes of the great ones being wetted by the water of Gunga, let all my ancestors ascend to the eternal heaven.15 Let a child, O divine one! be granted to us, that our family become not extinct. O God! let this great blessing be granted to the family of Ikshwakoo. The venerable sire of all replied to the king thus requesting in the sweetest and most pleasing accents: Bhugee-rutha, thou mighty charioteer, be this great wish of thine heart accomplished. Let prosperity attend thee, thou increaser of the family of Ikshwakoo! Engage Hura, O king! to receive (in her descent) Gunga, the eldest daughter of the mountain Himuvut. The earth, O king! cannot sustain the descent of Gunga, nor beside Shoolee16 do I behold any one, O king! able to receive her. The creator having thus replied to the king, and spoken to Gunga, returned to heaven with Macroots and all the gods.”

Thus far the thirty-fourth Section, describing the gift of the blessing to Bhugee-rutha.



“Pruja-puti being gone, Bhugee-rutha, O Rama! with uplifted arm, without support, without a helper, immoveable as a dry tree, and feeding on air, remained day and night on the tip of his great toe upon the afflicted earth. A full year having now elapsed, the husband of Ooma, and the lord of animals, who is reverenced by all worlds, said to the king, I am propitious to thee, O chief of men! I will accomplish thy utmost desire. To him the sovereign replied, O Hura, receive Gunga! Bhurga,17 thus addressed, replied, I will perform thy desire; I will receive her on my head, the daughter of the mountain. Muheshwura then, mounting on the summit of Himuvut, addressed Gunga, the river flowing in the ether, saying, Descend, O Gunga! The eldest daughter of Himuvut, adored by the universe, having heard the words of the lord of Ooma, was filled with anger, and assuming, O Rama! a form of amazing size, with insupportable celerity, fell from the air upon the auspicious head of Shiva. The goddess Gunga, irresistible, thought within herself, I will bear down Shunkura with my stream, and enter Patala. The {226} divine Hura, the three-eyed god, was aware of her proud resolution, and, being angry, determined to prevent her design. The purifier, fallen upon the sacred head of Roodra, was detained, O Rama! in the recesses of the orb of his Juta, resembling Himuvut, and was unable, by the greatest efforts, to descend to the earth. From the borders of the orb of his Juta, the goddess could not obtain regress, but wandered there for many series of years. Thus situated, Bhugee-rutha beheld her wandering there, and again engaged in severe austerities.

“With these austerities, O son of Rughoo! Hura being greatly pleased, discharged Gunga towards the lake Vindoo. In her flowing forth seven streams were produced. Three of these streams18 beautiful, filled with water conveying happiness, Hladinee,19 Pavunee,20 and Nulinee,21 directed their course eastward: while Soochukohoo,22 Seeta,23 and Sindhoo,24 three pellucid mighty rivers, flowed to the west. The seventh of these streams followed king Bhugee-rutha. The royal sage, the illustrious {227} Bhugee-rutha, seated on a resplendent car, led the way, while Gunga followed. Pouring down from the sky upon the head of Shunkura, and afterwards upon the earth, her streams rolled along with a shrill sound. The earth was willingly chosen by the fallen fishes, the turtles, the porpoises, and the birds. The royal sages, the Gundhurvas, the Yukshas, and the Siddhas, beheld her falling from the ether to the earth; yea, the gods, immeasurable in power, filled with surprise, came thither with chariots resembling a city, horses, and elephants, and litters, desirous of seeing the wonderful and unparalleled descent of Gunga into the world. Irradiated by the descending gods, and the splendour of their ornaments, the cloudless atmosphere shone with the splendour of an hundred suns, while by the uneasy porpoises, the serpents, and the fishes, the air was coruscated as with lightning. Through the white foam of the waters, spreading in a thousand directions, and the flights of water-fowl, the atmosphere appeared filled with autumnal clouds. The water, pure from defilement, falling from the head of Shunkura, and thence to the earth, ran in some places with a rapid stream, in others in a tortuous current; here widely spreading, there descending into caverns, and again spouting upward; in some places it moved slowly, stream uniting with stream; while repelled {228} in others, it rose upwards, and again fell to the earth. Knowing its purity, the sages, the Gundhurvas, and the inhabitants of the earth, touched the water fallen from the body of Bhuva.25 Those who, through a curse, had fallen from heaven to earth, having performed ablution in this stream, became free from sin: cleansed from sin by this water, and restored to happiness, they entered the sky, and returned again to heaven. By this illustrious stream was the world rejoiced, and by performing ablution in Gunga, became free from impurity.

“The royal sage, Bhugee-rutha, full of energy, went before, seated on his resplendent car, while Gunga followed after. The gods, O Rama! with the sages, the Dityas, the Danuvas, the Rakshuses, the chief Gundhurvas, and Yukshas, with the Kinnuras, the chief serpents, and all the Upsuras, together with aquatic animals, following the chariot of Bhugee-rutha, attended Gunga. Whither king Bhugee-rutha went, thither went the renowned Gunga, the chief of streams, the destroyer of all sin.

“After this, Gunga, in her course, inundated this sacrificial ground of the great Juhnoo of astonishing deeds, {229} who was then offering sacrifice. Juhnoo, O Raghuva! perceiving her pride enraged, drank up the whole of the water of Gunga:—a most astonishing deed! At this the gods, the Gundhurvas, and the sages, exceedingly surprised, adored the great Juhnoo, the most excellent of men, and named Gunga the daughter of this great sage.

“The illustrious chief of men, pleased, discharged Gunga from his ears. Having liberated her, he, recognizing the great Bhugee-rutha, the chief of kings, then present, duly, honoured him, and returned to the place of sacrifice. From this deed Gunga, the daughter of Jahnoo, obtained the name Jahnuvee.

“Gunga now went forward again, following the chariot of Bhugee-rutha. Having reached the sea, the chief of streams proceeded to Patala, to accomplish the work of Bhugee-rutha. The wise and royal sage, having with great labour conducted Gunga thither, there beheld his ancestors reduced to ashes. Then, O chief of Rughoo’s race, that heap of ashes, bathed by the excellent waters of Gunga, and purified from sin, the sons of the king obtained heaven. Having arrived at the sea, the king, followed by Gunga, entered the subterraneous regions, where lay the sacred ashes. After these, O Rama! had been laved by the water of Gunga, Bruhma, the lord of all, thus addressed the king: O chief of men! thy predecessors, {230} the sixty thousand sons of the great Sugura, are all delivered by thee: and the great and perennial receptacle of water, called by Sugura’s name, shall henceforth be universally known by the appellation of Sagura.26 As long, O king! as the waters of the sea continue in the earth, so long shall the sons of Sugura remain in heaven, in all the splendour of gods.

“This Gunga, O king! shall be thy eldest daughter, known throughout the three worlds (by the name) Bhagee-ruthee; and because she passed through the earth, the chief of rivers shall be called Gunga27 throughout the universe. (She shall also be) called Triputhaga, on account of her proceeding forward in three different directions, watering the three worlds. Thus is she named by the gods and sages. She is called Gunga, O sovereign of the Vashyas! on account of her flowing through Gang;28 and her third name, O thou observer of vows! is Bhagee-ruthee. O, accomplished one! through affection to thee, and regard to me, these names will remain: as long as Gunga, the great river, shall remain in the world, so long shall thy deathless fame live throughout {231} the universe. O lord of men! O king! perform here the funeral rites of all thine ancestors. Relinquish thy vows,29 O king! this devout wish of theirs was not obtained by thine ancestors highly renowned, chief among the pious; not by Ungshooman, unparalleled in the universe, so earnestly desiring the descent of Gunga, O beloved one! was this object of desire obtained. Nor, O possessor of prosperity! O sinless one! could she be (obtained) by thine illustrious father Dwileepa, the Rajurshi eminently accomplished, whose energy was equal to that of a Muhurshi, and who, established in all the virtues of the Kshutras, in secret austerities equalled myself. This great design has been fully accomplished by thee, O chief of men! Thy fame, the blessing so much desired, will spread throughout the world. O subduer of enemies! this descent of Gunga has been effected by thee. This Gunga is the great abode of virtue: by this deed thou art become possessed of the divinity itself. In this stream constantly bathe thyself, O chief of men! Purified, O most excellent of mortals! be a partaker of the fruit of holiness; perform the funeral ceremonies of all thy ancestors. May blessings attend thee, O chief of men! I return to heaven.


“The renowned one, the sovereign of the gods, the sire of the universe, having thus spoken, returned to heaven.

“King Bhugee-rutha, the royal sage, having performed the funeral ceremonies of the descendants of Sugura, in proper order of succession, according to the ordinance; the renowned one having also, O chief of men! performed the customary ceremonies, and purified himself, returned to his own city, where he governed the kingdom. Having (again,) O Raghura! possessed of abundant wealth, obtained their king, his people rejoiced; their sorrow was completely removed; they increased in wealth and prosperity, and were freed from disease.

“Thus, O Rama! has the story of Gunga been related at large by me. May prosperity attend thee: May every good be thine. The evening is fast receding. He who causes this relation, securing wealth, fame, longevity, posterity, and heaven, to be heard among the Brahmans, the Kshutriyas, or the other tribes of men, his ancestors rejoice, and to him are the gods propitious: and he who hears this admirable story of the descent of Gunga, ensuring long life, shall obtain, O Kakootstha! all the wishes of his heart. All his sins shall be destroyed, and his life and fame be abundantly prolonged.”


End of the thirty-fifth Section, describing the descent of Gunga.

Parvati.—X. p. 94.

All the Devetas, and other inhabitants of the celestial regions, being collected, at the summons of Bhagavat, to arrange the ceremonials of the marriage of Seeva and Parvati, first came Brahma, mounted on his goose, with the Reyshees at his stirrup; next Veeshnu, riding on Garoor his eagle, with the chank, the chakra, the club, and the pedive in his hands; Eendra also, and Yama, and Cuvera, and Varuna, and the rivers Ganga and Jumna, and the Seven Seas. The Gandarvas also, and Apsaras, and Vasookee, and other serpents, in obedience to the commands of Seeva, all dressed in superb chains and habits of ceremony, were to be seen in order amidst the crowded and glittering cavalcade.

And now, Seeva, after the arrival of all the Devetas, and the completion of the preparations for the procession, set out, in the utmost pomp and splendour, from the mountain Kilas. His third eye flamed like the sun, and the crescent on his forehead assumed the form of a radiated diadem; his snakes were exchanged for chains and necklaces of pearls and rubies, his ashes for sandal and perfume, and his elephant’s skin for a silken robe, {234} so that none of the Devetas in brilliance came near his figure. The bridal attendants now spread wide abroad the carpet of congratulation, and arranged in order the banquet of bliss. Nature herself assumed the appearance of renovated youth, and the sorrowing universe recalled its long-forgotten happiness. The Gandarvas and Apsaras began their melodious songs, and the Genes and Keeners displayed the magic of their various musical instruments. The earth and its inhabitants exulted with tongues of glorification and triumph; fresh moisture invigorated the withered victims of time; a thousand happy and animating conceptions inspired the hearts of the intelligent, and enlightened the wisdom of the thoughtful: The kingdom of external forms obtained gladness, the world of intellect acquired brightness. The dwellers upon earth stocked the casket of their ideas with the jewels of delight, and reverend pilgrims exchanged their beads for pearls. The joy of those on earth ascended up to Heaven, and the Tree of the bliss of those in Heaven extended its auspicious branches downwards to the earth. The eyes of the Devetas flamed like torches on beholding these scenes of rapture, and the hearts of the just kindled like touchwood on hearing these ravishing symphonies. Thus Seeva set off like a garden in full blow, and Paradise was eclipsed by his motion.—Maurice, from the Seeva-Pooraun.


Thereat the heart of the Universe stood still.—X. p. 94.

After these lines were written, I was amused at finding a parallel passage in a sermon:

Quando o Sol parou às vozes de Josuè, aconteceram no mundo todas aquellas consequencias, que parando o movimento celeste, consideram os Filosofos. As plantas por todo aquelle tempo nam creceram; as calidades dos elementos, e dos mixtos, nam se alteraram; a geraçam e corrupçam com que se conserva o mundo, cessou; as artes e os exercicios de hum e outro Emisferio estiveram suspensos; os Antipodas nam trabalhavam, porque lhes faltava a luz, os de cima cançados de tam comprido dia deixavam o trabalho; estes pasmados de verem o Sol que se nam movia; aquelles tambem pasmados de esperarem pelo Sol, que nam chegava; cuidavam que se acabàra para elles a luz; imaginavam que se acabava o mundo: tudo era lagrimas, tudo assombros, tudo horrores, tudo confusoens.—Vieyra, Sermoens, tom. ix. p. 505.

Surya.—X. p. 105.

Surya, the Sun. The poets and painters describe his car as drawn by seven green horses, preceded by Arun, or the Dawn, who acts as his charioteer, and followed by thousands of genii, worshipping him, and modulating his {236} praises. Surya is believed to have descended frequently from his car in a human shape, and to have left a race on earth, who are equally renowned in the Indian stories with the Heliadai of Greece. It is very singular that his two sons, called Aswinau, or Aswinicumarau, in the Dual, should be considered as twin brothers, and painted like Castor and Pollux; but they have each the character of Æsculapius among the gods, and are believed to have been born of a nymph, who, in the form of a mare, was impregnated with sun-beams.—Sir W. Jones.

That sun, O daughter of Ganga! than which nothing is higher, to which nothing is equal, enlightens the summit of the sky—with the sky enlightens the earth—with the earth enlightens the lower worlds;—enlightens the higher worlds, enlightens other worlds;—it enlightens the breast,—enlightens all besides the breast.—Sir W. Jones, from the Veda.

Forgetful of his Dragon foe.—X. p. 105.

Ra’hu was the son of Cas’yapa and Dity, according to some authorities; but others represent Sinhica’ (perhaps the sphinx) as his natural mother. He had four arms; his lower parts ended in a tail like that of a dragon; and his aspect was grim and gloomy, like the darkness of the chaos, whence he had also the name of Tamas. He was {237} the adviser of all mischief among the Daityas, who had a regard for him: but among the De’vatas it was his chief delight to sow dissension; and when the gods had produced the amrit, by churning the ocean, he disguised himself like one of them, and received a portion of it; but the Sun and Moon having discovered his fraud, Vishnu severed his head and two of his arms from the rest of his monstrous body. That part of the nectareous fluid which he had time to swallow secured his immortality: his trunk and dragon-like tail fell on the mountain of Malaya, where Mini, a Brahman, carefully preserved them by the name of Ce’tu; and, as if a complete body had been formed from them, like a dismembered polype, he is even said to have adopted Ce’tu as his own child. The head, with two arms, fell on the sands of Barbara, where Pi’t’he’na’s was then walking with Sinhica’, by some called his wife: They carried the Daitya to their palace, and adopted him as their son; whence he acquired the name of Paite’he’nasi. This extravagant fable is, no doubt, astronomical; Ra’hu and Ce’tu being clearly the nodes, or what astrologers call the head and tail of the dragon. It is added, that they appeased Vishnu, and obtained re-admission to the firmament, but were no longer visible from the earth, their enlightened sides being turned from it; that Ra’hu strives, during eclipses, to wreak vengeance on the Sun {238} and Moon, who detected him; and that Ce’tu often appears as a comet, a whirlwind, a fiery meteor, a water-spout, or a column of sand.—Wilford. Asiatic Researches.

Suras.—X. p. 105.

The word Sura in Sanscrit signifies both wine and true wealth; hence, in the first C’hand of the Ramayan of Valmic, it is expressly said that the Devetas, having received the Sura, acquired the title of Suras, and the Daityas that of Asura, from not having received it. The Veda is represented as that wine and true wealth.—Paterson. Asiat. Researches.

Camdeo.—X. p. 106.
Eternal Cama! or doth Smara bright, Or proud Ananga, give thee more delight? Sir W. Jones.

He was the son of Maya, or the general attracting power, and married to Retty, or Affection, and his bosom friend is Bessent, or Spring. He is represented a a beautiful youth, sometimes conversing with his mother and consort in the midst of his gardens and temples; sometimes riding by moonlight on a parrot or lory, a attended by dancing girls or nymphs, the foremost {239} whom bears his colours, which are a fish on a red ground. His favourite place of resort is a large tract of country round Agra, and principally the plains of Matra, where Krishen also, and the nine Gopia, who are clearly the Apollo and Muses of the Greeks, usually spend the night with music and dance. His bow of sugar-cane or flowers, with a string of bees, and his five arrows, each pointed with an Indian blossom of a heating quality, are allegories equally new and beautiful.

It is possible that the words Dipuc and Cupid, which have the same signification, may have the same origin; since we know that the old Hetrurians, from whom great part of the Roman language and religion was derived, and whose system had a near affinity with that of the Persians and Indians, used to write their lines alternately forwards and backwards, as furrows are made by the ploughs.—Sir W. Jones.

Mahadeva and Parvati were playing with dice at the ancient game of Chaturanga, when they disputed, and parted in wrath; the goddess retiring to the forest of Gauri, and the god repairing to Cushadwip. They severally performed rigid acts of devotion to the Supreme Being; but the fires which they kindled blazed so vehemently as to threaten a general conflagration. The Devas, in great alarm, hastened to Brahma, who led them {240} to Mahadeva, and supplicated him to recall his consort; but the wrathful deity only answered, That she most come by her own free choice. They accordingly dispatched Gunga, the river goddess, who prevailed on Parvati to return to him, on condition that his love for her should be restored. The celestial mediators then employed Cama-Deva, who wounded Mahadeva with one of his flowery arrows; but the angry divinity reduced him to ashes with a flame from his eye. Parvati soon after presented herself before him in the form of a Cirati, or daughter of a mountaineer, and seeing him enamoured of her, resumed her own shape. In the place where they were reconciled, a grove sprang up, which was named Camavana; and the relenting god, in the character of Cameswara, consoled the afflicted Reti, the widow of Cama, by assuring her that she should rejoin her husband when he should be born again in the form of Pradyumna, son of Crishna, and should put Sambara to death. This favourable prediction was in due time accomplished, and Pradyumna having sprung to life, he was instantly seized by the demon Sambara, who placed him in a chest, which he threw into the ocean; but a large fish, which had swallowed the chest, was caught, in a net, and carried to the palace of a tyrant, where the unfortunate Reti had been compelled to do menial service. {241} It was her lot to open the fish, and seeing an infant in the chest, she nursed him in private, and educated him, till he had sufficient strength to destroy the malignant Sambara. He had before considered Reti as his mother; but the minds of them both being, irradiated, the prophecy of Mahadeva was remembered, and the God of Love was again united with the Goddess of Pleasure.—Wilford. Asiatic Researches.

Eating his very core of life away.—XI. p. 113.

One of the wonders of this country is the Jiggerkhar, (or liver-eater.) One of this class can steal away the liver of another by looks and incantations. Other accounts say, that, by looking at a person, he deprives him of his senses, and then steals from him something resembling the seed of a pomegranate, which he hides in the calf of his leg. The Jiggerkhar throws on the fire the grain before described, which thereupon spreads to the size of a dish, and he distributes it amongst his fellows, to be eaten; which ceremony concludes the life of the fascinated person. A Jiggerkhar is able to communicate his art to another, which he does by learning him the incantations, and by making him eat a bit of the liver-cake. If any one cut open the calf of the magician’s leg, extract the grain, and give it to the afflicted person {242} to eat, he immediately recovers. Those Jiggerkhars are mostly women. It is said, moreover, that they can bring intelligence from a great distance in a short space of time; and if they are thrown into a river, with a stone tied to them, they nevertheless will not sink. In order to deprive any one of this wicked power, they brand his temples, and every joint in his body, cram his eyes with salt, suspend him for forty days in a subterraneous cavern, and repeat over him certain incantations. In this state he is called Detche-reh. Although, after having undergone this discipline, he is not able to destroy the liver of any one, yet he retains the power of being able to discover another Jiggerkhar, and is used for detecting these disturbers of mankind. They can also cure many diseases, by administering a potion, or by repeating an incantation. Many other marvellous stories are told of these people.—Ayeen Acbery.

An Arabian old woman, by name Meluk, was thrown in prison, on a charge of having bewitched, or, as they call it, eaten the heart of a young native of Ormuz, who had lately, from being a Christian, turned Mahommedan. The cause of offence was, that the young man, after keeping company some time with one of her daughters, had forsaken her: He himself, who was in a pitiable condition, and in danger of his life, was one of her {243} accusers. This sort of witchcraft, which the Indians call eating the heart, and which is what we call bewitching, as sorcerers do by their venomous and deadly looks, is not a new thing, nor unheard of elsewhere; for many persons practised it formerly in Sclavonia, and the country of the Triballes, as we learn from Ortelius, who took the account from Pliny, who, upon the report of Isigones, testifies, that this species of enchantment was much in use among these people, and many others whom he mentions, as it is at present here, especially among the Arabians who inhabit the western coast of the Persian gulph, where this art is common. The way in which they do it is only by the eyes and the mouth, keeping the eyes fixed steadily upon the person whose heart they design to eat, and pronouncing, between their teeth, I know not what diabolical words, by virtue of which, and by the operation of the devil, the person, how hale and strong soever, falls immediately into an unknown and incurable disease, which makes him appear phthysical, consumes him little by little, and at last destroys him. And this takes place faster or slower as the heart is eaten, as they say; for these sorcerers can either eat the whole or a part only; that is, can consume it entirely and at once, or bit by bit, as they please. The vulgar give it this name, because they believe that the devil, acting upon {244} the imagination of the witch when she mutters her wicked words, represents invisibly to her the heart and entrails of the patient, taken out of his body, and makes her devour them. In which these wretches find so delightful a task, that very often, to satisfy their appetite, without any impulse of resentment or enmity, they will destroy innocent persons, and even their nearest relatives, as there is a report that our prisoner killed one of her own daughters in this manner.

This was confirmed to me by a similar story, which I heard at Ispahan, from the mouth of P. Sebastian de Jesus, a Portugueze Augustinian, a man to be believed, and of singular virtue, who was prior of their convent when I departed. He assured me, that, on one of the places dependent upon Portugal, on the confines of Arabia Felix, I know not whether it was at Mascate or at Ormuz, an Arab having been taken up for a similar crime, and convicted of it, for he confessed the fact, the captain, or governor of the place, who was a Portugueze, that he might better understand the truth of these black and devilish actions, of which there is no doubt in this country, made the sorcerer be brought before him before he was led to his punishment, and asked him, If he could eat the inside of a cucumber without opening it, as well as the heart of a man? The sorcerer said yes; and, in order to {245} prove it, a cucumber was brought: he looked at it, never touching it, steadily for some time, with his usual enchantments, and then told the captain he had eaten the whole inside; and accordingly, when it was opened, nothing was found but the rind. This is not impossible; for the devil, of whom they make use in these operations, having, in the order of nature, greater power than all inferior creatures, can, with God’s permission, produce these effects, and others more marvellous.

The same father told me, that one of these sorcerers, whether it was the same or not I do not know, having been taken for a similar offence, was asked, If he could eat the heart of the Portuguese captain? and he replied no; for the Franks had a certain thing upon the breast, which covered them like a cuirass, and was so impenetrable, that it was proof against all his charms. This can be nothing else than the virtue of baptism, the armour of the faith, and the privilege of the sons of the church, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail.

To return, however, to my first subject:—This witch of Combru made some difficulty at first to confess her guilt; but seeing herself pressed with threats of death, and being led, in fact, to the public square, where I saw her with the sick young man, she said, that though she had not been the cause of his complaint, perhaps she could cure {246} it, if they would let her remain alone with him, in his house, without interruption; by which she tacitly confessed her witchcraft: For it is held certain in these countries, that these wicked women can remove the malady which they have caused, if it be not come to the last extremity. And of many remedies which they use to restore health to the sufferers, there is one very extraordinary, which is, that the witch casts something out of her mouth, like the grain of a pomegranate, which is believed to be a part of the heart that she had eaten. The patient picks it up immediately, as part of his own intestines, and greedily swallows it; and by this means, as if his heart was replaced in his body, he recovers by degrees his health. I dare not assure you of these things as certainly true, not having myself seen them, surpassing as they do the course of nature. If they are as is said, it can be only in appearance, by the illusions of the devil; and if the afflicted recover actually their health, it is because the same devil ceases to torment them. Without dwelling longer upon these curious speculations,—the witch having given hopes that she would cure the patient, the officers promised that she should receive no injury, and they were both sent home; but an archer was set over her as a guard, that she might not escape.—Pietro Della Valle.


The Calis.—XI. p. 114.

The Calis and Pandaris are the protectresses of cities; each city has its own. They address prayers to these tutelary divinities, and build temples to them, offering to them blood in sacrifice, and sometimes human victims. These objects of worship are not immortal, and they take their name from the city over which they preside, or from the form in which they are represented. They are commonly framed of a gigantic stature, having several arms, and the head surrounded with flames; several fierce animals are also placed under their feet.—Sonnerat.

Sani, the dreadful God, who rides abroad
Upon the King of the Ravens.—XI. p. 114.

Mr. Moor has a curious remark upon this subject:

“Sani being among the astrologers of India, as well as with their sapient brethren of Europe, a planet of malignant aspects, the ill-omened raven may be deemed a fit Vahan for such a dreaded being. But this is not, I think, a sufficient reason for the conspicuous introduction of the raven into the mythological machinery of the Hindu system, so accurate, so connected, and so complete in all its parts; although the investigations that it hath hitherto undergone have not fully developed or reached such points {248} of perfection. Now let me ask the reason, why, both in England and in India, the raven it so rare a bird? It breeds every year, like the crow, and is much longer lived; and while the latter bird abounds every where, to a degree bordering on nuisance, a pair of ravens, for they are seldom seen singly or in trios, are scarcely found duplicated in any place. Perhaps, take England or India over, two pair of ravens will not be found, on an average, in the extent of five hundred or a thousand acres. I know not, for I write where I have no access to books, if our naturalists have sought the theory of this; or whether it may have first occurred to me, which it did while contemplating the character and attributes of Sani, that the raven destroys its young; and if this notion be well founded, and on no other can I account for the rareness of the annual-breeding long-lived raven, we shall at once see the propriety of symbolizing it with Saturn, or Kronos, or Time, devouring or destroying his own offspring.—Moor’s Hindu Pantheon, p. 311.

A thousand eyes were quench’d in endless night,
To form that magic globe.—XI. p. 117.

A similar invention occurs in Dr. Beaumont’s Psyche, one of the most extraordinary poems in our language. I am far from claiming any merit for such inventions, which {249} no man can value more cheaply,—but such as it is, I am not beholden for it to this forgotten writer, whose strange, long, but by no means uninteresting work I had never read till after two editions of Kehama were printed.

A stately mirror’s all-enamell’d case The second was; no crystal ever yet Smil’d with such pureness: never ladies’ glass Its owner flattered with so smooth a cheat. Nor could Narcissus’ fount with such delight Into his fair destruction him invite.
For He in that and self-love being drown’d, Agenor from him pluck’d his doting eyes: And, shuffled in her fragments, having found Old Jezabels, he stole the dog’s due prize. Goliah’s staring bacins too he got, Which he with Pharaoh’s all together put.
But not content with these, from Phaeton, From Joab, Icarus, Nebuchadnezzar, From Philip and his world-devouring son, From Sylla, Cataline, Tully, Pompey, Cæsar, From Herod, Cleopatra, and Sejanus, From Agrippina and Domitianus,
And many surly stoics, theirs he pull’d; Whose proudest humours having drained out, He blended in a large and polish’d mould; Which up he fill’d with what from Heaven he brought, In extract of those looks of Lucifer, In which against his God he breathed war.
Then to the North, that glassy kingdom, where Establish’d frost and ice for ever reign, He sped his course, and meeting Boreas there, Pray’d him this liquid mixture to restrain. When lo! as Boreas oped his mouth and blew For his command, the slime all solid grew.
Thus was the mirror forged, and contain’d The vigour of those self-admiring eyes Agenor’s witchcraft into it had strain’d; A dangerous juncture of proud fallacies; Whose fair looks so inamour’d him, that he Thrice having kiss’d it, nam’d it Philanty.
Inchanted Psyche ravish’d was to see The Glass herself upon herself reflect With trebled majesty. The sun, when he Is by Aurora’s roseat fingers deckt, Views not his repercussed self so fair Upon the eastern main, as she did here.
Be true unto yourselves.—XII. p. 127.

The passage in which Menu exhorts a witness to speak the truth is one of the few sublime ones in his Institutes. “The soul itself is its own witness; the soul itself is its own refuge; offend not thy conscious soul, the supreme internal witness of men! . . The sinful have said in their hearts, none see us. Yes, the gods distinctly see them, and so does the spirit within their breasts . . The guardian deities of the firmament, of the earth, of the waters, of the human heart, of the moon, of the sun, and of fire, of punishment after death, of the winds, of night, of both twilights, and of justice, perfectly know the state of all spirits clothed with bodies. . . O friend to virtue! that supreme Spirit, which thou believest one and the same with thyself, resides in thy bosom perpetually, and is an all-knowing inspector of thy goodness or of thy wickedness. If thou beest not at variance, by speaking falsely, with Yama, the subduer of all, with Vaivaswata the punisher, with that great Divinity who dwells in thy breast,—go not on a pilgrimage to the river Ganga, nor to the plains of Curu, for thou hast no need of expiation.—Ch. viii. p. 84, 85, 86, 91, 92.


The Aunnay Birds.—XII. p. 128.

The Aunnays act a considerable part in the history of the Nellah Rajah, an amusing romance, for a translation of which we are indebted to Mr. Kindersley. They are milk-white, and remarkable for the gracefulness of their walk.



[1] Murresoo, or Mursoo, in the Hala Canara, signifies rude, uncivilized;—Wokul, a husbandman.


[2] Dignus vindice nodus.


[3] In the Azanaga dialect of the Lybian tongue, Aseif signifies a river.


[4] The Hindoos call a child Bala till it attains the age of fifteen years old. From the sixteenth year to the fiftieth, Youvuna, or a state of youth, is supposed to continue. Each of these has several subdivisions; and in certain cases the period admits of variation, as appears to have been the case here.


[5] The horse intended for the sacrifice.


[6] The Indian spade, formed like a hoe, with a short handle.


[7] An instrument said to be formed like an ox's yoke.


[8] A dart, or spear.


[9] A club, or crow.


[10] A weapon, now unknown.


[11] The eight Vusoos, the eleven Roodras, the twelve Adityas, and Ushwinee and Koomæra.


[12] This seems to have been spoken by these youths in the warmth of their imagination.


[13] The Hindoos say, that Kupila, or Vasoo-deva, is an incarnation of Vishnoo, whom they describe as having been thus partially incarnate twenty-four times.


[14] One towards each of the cardinal points, and the sun over his head, towards which he was constantly looking.


[15] The heaven from which there can be no fall.


[16] Shiva, from Shoola, the spear which he held.


[17] Shiva.


[18] Literally, three Gungas. Wherever a part of Gunga flows it is dignified with her name: Thus the Hindoos say, the Gunga of Pouyaga, &c.


[19] The river of joy.


[20] The purifier.


[21] Abounding with water.


[22] Beautiful eyed.


[23] White.


[24] Probably the Indus.


[25] Shiva, the existant.


[26] Sagura is one of the most common names for the sea which the Hindoos have.


[27] From the root gum, signifying motion.


[28] The earth.


[29] The end of thy vows is accomplished, therefore now relinquish thy vows of being an ascetic.