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INTER-COMMUNION IN INDIA.
that moistens]. The Rajah, afraid to disobey, and reluctant to fulfil the requisition to its ancient extent of horror, took counsel and substituted a goat [in which as well as in man there is blood-which is life-which is the chief thing in a sacrifice Godward] for the human victim; with which the
'Dark goddess of the azure flood,
Whose robes are wet with infant tears,
Of man delights three thousand years,'
was graciously pleased to be contented."1
"I had always heard, and fully believed till I came to India," says Bishop Heber, " that it was a grievous crime, in the opinion of the Brahmans, to eat the flesh or shed the blood of any living creature whatever. I have now myself seen Brahmans of the highest caste cut off the heads of goats, as a sacrifice to Doorga; and I know from the testimony of Brahmans, as well as from other sources, that not only hecatombs of animals are often offered in this manner, as a most meritorious act (a Rajah, about twenty-five years back [say about A. D. 1800], offered sixty thousand in one fortnight); but that any persons, Brahmans not excepted, eat readily [in inter-communion] of the flesh which has been offered up to one of their divinities."2 Clearly, the idea of inter-communion with the gods, 2 Ibid., II., 285.
1 Heber's Travels in India, II., 13 f.
on the basis of the inter-flow of blood, exists in many Brahmanic practices of to-day. It still finds its expression in the occasional "Sacrifice of the Yajna, at which a ram is immolated." It is claimed by the Brahmans that "this sacrifice is the most exalted and the most meritorious of all that human beings can devise. It is the most grateful to the gods. It calls down all sorts of temporal blessings, and blots out all the sins that can have been accumulated for four generations." The ram chosen for this sacrifice must be "entirely white, and without blemish: of about three years old." Only Brahmans who are free from physical infirmities and from ceremonial defects can have a part in its offering, "at which no man of any other caste can be present." Because of the Brahmanic horror of the shedding of blood, the victim is smothered, or "strangled"; after which it is cut in pieces, and burned as an oblation. "A part, however, is preserved for him who presides at the sacrifice, and part for him who is at the expense of it. These share their portions with the Brahmans who are present; amongst whom a scuffle ensues, each striving for a small bit of the flesh. Such morsels as they can catch they tear with their hands, and devour as a sacred viand [the meat of inter-communion with the gods]. This practice is the more remarkable, as being the only occasion in their [the Brahmans'] lives when they
OCCULT SACRIFICES OF THE HINDOOS. 161
can venture to touch animal food." "This most renowned sacrifice is one of the six privileges of the Brahmans"; and it would seem that its offering may now be directed to any one of the divinities, at the preference of the offerer. Formerly there was also the "Great Sacrifice of the Yajna," which is no longer in use. "At this sacrifice," in its day, "every species of victim was immolated; and it is beyond doubt that human beings even were offered up; but the horse and the elephant were the most common." So, there has never been an entire absence from the Brahmanic practices of an inter-communion with the gods through an inter-union by blood.
Even more remarkable than this canonical sacrifice of the Yajna, with its accompanying inter-communion, are some of the occult sacrifices to the gods of the Hindoo Pantheon, in which all the ordinary barriers of caste are disregarded, in the un-canonical but greatly prized services of inter-communion with the gods on the basis of an inter-flow of blood. The offerings of blood-flowing sacrifices, including even the cow, are made before the image of Vishnoo; or, more probably, of Krishna as one of the forms of Vishnoo. The spirituous liquors of the country are also presented as drinkofferings. Then follows the inter-communion. “He who administers [at the offering to the god] tastes
1 Dubois's Des. of Man. and Cust. of India, Part II., chap. xxxi.
each species of meat and of liquor; after which he
and the Brahman is not above the Pariah. Brahmans, Sudras, Pariahs, men and women, swill the arrack which was the offering to the Saktis, regardless of the same glass being used by them all, which in ordinary cases would excite abhorrence. Here it is a virtuous act to participate in the same morsel, and to receive from each other's mouths the half-gnawn flesh."1
The fact that this service is of so disgusting a character, does not lessen its importance as an illustration of a primitive custom degraded by successive generations of defiling influences. It still stands as one of the proofs of the universal custom of an 1 Dubois's Des. of Man. and Cust. of India, Part II., chap. xi.
THE SACRAMENT OF JUGGERNAUT. 163
attempted inter-communion with the gods through an inter-union by blood. Indeed, there are many traces, in India, of the survival of this primitive idea. Referring to the worship of Krishna, under the form of Jagan-natha (or Juggernaut, as the name is popularly rendered) a recent writer on India says: "Before this monstrous shrine, all distinctions of caste are forgotten, and even a Christian may sit down and eat with a Brahman. In his work on Orissa, Dr. W. W. Hunter says that at the 'Sacrament of the Holy Food' he has seen a Puri priest receive his food from a Christian's hand. This rite is evidently also a survival of Buddhism [It goes a long way back of that]. It is remarkable that at the shrine of Vyankoba, an obscure form of Siva, at Pandharpur, in the Southern Maratha country, caste is also in abeyance, all men being deemed equal in its presence. Food is daily sent as a gift from the god to persons in all parts of the surrounding country, and the proudest Brahman gladly will accept and partake of it from the hands of the Sudra, or Mahar, who is usually its bearer. There are two great annual festivals in honor of Jagan-natha. They are held every
where; but at Puri they are attended by pilgrims from every part of India, as many as 200,000 often being present. All the ground is holy within twenty miles of the pagoda, and the establishment of priests