INDIA – A PEEP INTO HER PAST.
The science of Geometry is thought to have been the invention of the ancient Egyptians, and the occasion of it the annual inundations of the Nile. A similar argument may be urged with far greater plausibility in favor of its having originated in India, since many parts of this extensive region are annually overflowed, not only by the Ganges, but by many other considerable rivers far more rapid and desolating than the river of Egypt. It was a custom of very ancient date, and of almost universal prevalence in Asia, for great monarchs and commanders of armies to carry in their train certain persons, whose office it was to measure the roads and describe the provinces through which they passed. These itinerants proved afterwards of the utmost importance to the geographer and the historian; and hence Abul Fazel, the secretary of Akbar the Great, was enabled to give so accurate an account as he has afforded us of the geography of the Indian Subahs in the celebrated book which bears the name of that emperor. The old Indians themselves seem to have been more than usually attentive to geographical accuracy, for, according to Strabo, the Geographer, they erected Columns, inscribed with directions for travellers, and marked with the distances of the several cities one from the other. But, however the Indians might have been acquainted with the geography of their own country, it will presently appear that they were miserably deficient in the knowledge of the other parts of the globe.
INDIA was a term applied with the greatest latitude by the ancient writers of Greece and Rome, whose ideas of the geographical divisions of this portion of the globe were exceedingly confused and inaccurate. Not only a considerable part of Scythia, by the denomination of Indo-Scythia, was comprehended under that title, but the appellation was extended to countries still more remote and unconnected; even to Ethiopia proper, and the distant nations of the torrid zone. This circumstance will appear less surprising, when it is considered, that, in the early ages, the Red Sea itself was frequently included under the general title of the Indian Sea, to which it is so near a neighbor, as well as the Persian Gulf to be a branch; that all those countries, extending on each side of the Red Sea, were called indifferently India or Ethiopia; that even at this day the Asiaties in general understand the term India with considerable license of meaning, and that the Persians in particular give the name of Siah Hindu to an Abyssinian or a modern Ethiopian.
In fact so little did the ancients know of their limits and divisions, that both India and Ethiopia were used as general terms to signify any remote uncivilized country: and in this sense Virgil is to be understood in the sixth Encid I. 794, where Eneas, in the shades is informed of the future glory of Agustus as also in the eighth Eclogue I. 44. Where a similar notion is expressed. Many other passages might be adduced if necessary from various authors to prove that obscure and erroneous conceptions prevailed among the ancients concerning India and its inhabitants.
It was not until the expedition of Alexander, described with such accuracy by Arian, and with such elegance by the more ornamental pen of Quintus Curtius, that this remote region became more particularly known to the Greeks. Of how little genuine information upon this point even they were previously genuine information upon this point even they were previously in possession, is evident from the gross mistake into which that prince, who was by no means an inattentive observer of nature, nor unaccompanied, we must suppose, by men of science in his Indian incursion, unaccountably fell, in imagining, on his arrival at the Indus, that he had discovered the sources of the Nile. That mighty river, he supposed, after rolling through immense unexplored deserts, poured by some unknown tract, its rapid stream into Ethiopia, where it lost the name of Indus, and assumed the appellation of the Egyptian river. He was confirmed in this strange conjecture, by the appearance, says Arian, of crocodiles in the Indus and of beans growing on its banks, similar to those which grew on the shores of the Nile, as well as by the recollection that Homer had called the Nile Egyptus, on its entering Egypt; a circumstance which seemed to prove that it acquired, in its progress, the name of the various countries through which it passed. Experience, diligently sought and finally obtained, after a long series of peril and difficulty, taught the Macedonian invader, as far at least as his army penetrated, a truer notion of the geography of India.
The natural and ardent avidity of mankind, after whatever delights by its novelty or astonishes by its singularity, induced, however many of those who fought for glory in an Indian campaign, in some instances to listen with too ready an ear to the exaggerated tales which national bigotry reported; while the desire of human distinction urged them to multiply those fictions, in order to excite more forcibly the attention and secure more permanently the admiration of their countrymen. Strabo, who was a writer equally learned and judicious, severely censures Magasthenes, an officer of high repute for Literature, and of exalted station in the army of Alexander, for the absurd and incredible stories he propagated concerning the Indian country and the Indian people. At the same time, he gives us himself, in the fifteenth book of his invaluable treatise of Ancient Geography, the most authentic and faithful accounts at that time known of the divisions and sub-divisions of India, interspersed with many sublime moral reflections and entertaining historical relations, which mark him not only as a man of taste and erudition, but also as a profound philosopher. Indeed, nobody could possibly write on that subject with a better grace or more indubitable information than himself, as he had added practice to theory, and had travelled over half the countries which his instructive volumes describe. After this particular mention of Strabo, it would be unjust not to take any notice of Ptolemy, the greatest mathematician and astronomer of his age, whose geographical history and tables must ever continue to be of the most important use to those who tread that barren path of antiquity. Born in the neighboring kingdom of Egypt, he had every opportunity of exploring, he is therefore entitled to every credit in elucidating, the subject of which we now treat; and accordingly both Ptolemy and Strabo are constantly consulted as the most certain guides in illustrating the geography of ancient countries.
The rice and extensive region of India according to these and other respectable geographers of antiquity, was divided by the river Ganges into two grand portions, which they denominated. India intra Gangem and India extra Gangem; a mode of division that still very generally prevails. Of India intra Gangem, the principal theatre of the events recorded in these pages, Nature herself seem to have fixed the eternal boundaries; for, on the west, it is terminated by the most rapid river Indus; on the north and northwest, by that stupendous chain of mountains to which the ancients gave the general name of Caucasus; on the east, by the sacred waters of the Ganges; and, on the south, it is embraced by the Indian Ocean. It must however be observed, that the accurate Ptolemy does not absolutely assert the Indus to be the boundary of India Proper on the west; for he assigns, as its confines on that side, it had Afghanistan, then known as the province of Arachosia. The reason and propriety of Ptolemy's fixing this province rather than the Indus as its western termination will be more clearly evinced, when we come to consider India according to the divisions of the Oriental themselves. This province seems to be considered by Pliny rather as a part of the Indian than the Persian Empire.
Of the cities lying on the western confines of India Proper the most eminent was Taxila, situated on the eastern bank of Indus, on the site, as it is supposed, where the castle and city of Attock now stands. This was the flourishing capital of Taxiles, an Indian prince or Rajah, who on the approach of Alexander, convinced perhaps that all opposition to so formidable power would be in vain, went forth with considerable presents to appease and join the invader. Taxila is described by Strabo as the metropolis of a kingdom situated between the Indus and Hydaspes, in extent as large as Egypt, well planted, and exceedingly fruitful. The city itself was not less distinguished by the elegance of its structure than by the wisdom of those just political institutions by which it was governed. Taxiles, like Porus, seems to have been rather a name common to a race of kings, than the peculiar appellation of one sovereign. The reigning prince of that name was the determined enemy of Porus; and it was into India, and because, he adds, in the words of Fraser, "Attock is the only place where, from the stream being less rapid, an army can conveniently pass;" – from that celebrated capital, where he refreshed himself and his army for some days, the Macedonian conqueror advanced to the bank of the Hydaspes, the most westerly of the five rivers, called in modern language the Jhelum, but in the Aynee Akbery distinguished by a name somewhat similar in sound to its classical appellation, the Bedusta. It is rather remarkable, that Ptolemy's mode of writing the word comes still nearer to that of the Aynee Akbery. The Hydaspes is represented as a noble river, which, taking its rise in the Indian Caucasus, mingles its waters with those of the Chenab, and at length, together with that river, rolls into the Indus at Multan. It seems to have been the boundary between the kingdom of Taxiles and that most formidable of Indian warriors, the renowned Porus.
Concerning Porus himself, and the extent of his dominions, many discordant and very unsatisfactory accounts have been given both by ancient and modern writers. The subject will more properly come under our consideration here-after. Lahore or Lehawer, as it is said in the Aynee Akbery to have been called in ancient astronomical tables, was undoubtedly in ancient times a very considerable kingdom, and no other city in its neighborhood seems of consequence enough to have been the capital of so celebrated a prince as Porus. With the greatest deference, however, to the high authority just mentioned, that the kingdom of Porus is expressly affirmed by Strabo to be the country "between the Hydaspes and the Acesines; extensive, opulent, and containing nearly three hundred towns."
Amidst a violent storm of hail and lightning, which concealed his army, and which may in some degree account for the traditional story mentioned in Hamilton's 'Voyage to the East-Indies' that he was a great magician, Alexander, in spite of the army of Porus, drawn up on the opposite shore, passed the Hydaspes, at the place where the fortress of Rotas now stands; and after defeating that prince in a regular engagements, advanced to the banks of the second river of the Punjab, called by the ancients the Acesines, but now known by the name of Chenab. This branch of the Indus is represented as exceedingly broad, deep, rapid, and abounding with rocks, which subjected both the invader and his army to the most imminent danger. On the spot where he defeated Porus, he erected a city in memory of the victory which he called Nicaea; and another he denominated Bucephala, in honor of his favorite horse Bucephalus, who died in this expedition of extreme old age, being on the verge of thirty. The former of these cities, we are informed by Ptolemy, was situated on the eastern shore of the Hydaspes; the latter near the western bank, on the site where his camp stood. No more particular notice is taken of Nicace by the ancients than what is related above; nor can we find a town in the map of northern India corresponding with it in situation. Lahore has indeed been supposed by some writers to be the ancient Bucephala.
Having arrived with some loss, on the eastern bank of the Chenab, Alexander, impatient to reach the Ganges, pressed on with rapidity towards the third river, called by Strabo the Hyarotes, by Arrian the Hydraotes, and by Ptolemy the Rhuadis, or Adris. In the Aynee Akbery, however, it is called the Iyrawutee, which bears a striking resemblance to Hyarotes; but Rhuadis seems to be most consonant to its present name, which is that of Rauvee. Then, we are told, Alexander found a new and most formidable foe to encounter in the united forces of the Kathaioi, the Malloi, and the Oxydrakai. The city which their combined army attempted to defend against the veteran Greeks was called Sangala, which we may fix between Lahore and Multan, out of the direct route to the Ganges. It is but in very few instances that we are able to trace any remote similitude between the ancient and modern names of a country and people so little known to the ancients as those of India. The voluntary migration of some nations to happier climes and wealthier regions, the necessary dispersion of others by invasion and conquest, the fluctuation to which languages are subject, the alteration of the beds of rivers, and many other natural and accidental causes, occur to render every attempt of this kind most uncertain and precarious. Although the exact fate of Sangala cannot now be ascertained, it may not be improper to remark that among the nations inhabiting to the south of the mouths of the Indus, is a race of naval robbers, called Sanganians, from Sangania, a province of Gujarat; and the same tract; at the period of the voyage of Nearchus was possessed by a people called Sangadians.
Of the Kathaioi, the Oyxdrakai and the Malloi, since they are said to be the most of powerful and warlike nations of India, it is necessary to give an account somewhat more particular, however imperfect and unsatisfactory. Cathay, an eastern appellation of China, being a word of Tartar extraction, and in use, as may be proved from Curtius and Strabo among the Asiatic Scythians in the time of Alexander, has afforded opportunity of conjecture that the Tartars had even at the time of this expedition extended their frontiers on that side as far as the Sutlej, in whose neighborhood the ancients have fixed the residence of the Kathaioi, and thus had already in some degree laid the basis of their future grandeur in Northern India. This early connection between the Northern Indians and their Tartar neighbors is rendered probable, by the consideration that in some instances the languages of the two nations are not dissimilar, since many words occur in them which have a kindered orthography and signification.
The Oxydrakai seem to have been situated at the confluence of the Rauvee and the Chenab and little is known of them. Of the Malloi and their situation, we are able to speak with greater certainty; for they inhabited a region still more to the southwest, near the shores of the main stream of the Indus and their capital was doubtless Multan. It may be proper however in this place to note, that the Dutch traveller, Nieuhoff, mentions a hardy and warlike nation Malleaus, whose residence is on the tops of the high mountains of Malabar, and whom he supposes to be the same people as the Malloi. He describes them as differing from the Nairs of Malabar in their complexion, religion and manners, and superior to them in bravery, ingenuity and honesty. Their principal amusement is hunting amidst the thick forests where they reside, and where they catch in pits the elephant and tiger; they are governed by laws peculiar to themselves, are scattered through several districts in bodies of about five or six hundred people, and each district has its separate judge or captain.
Having taken Sangala Alexander returned, and pursuing his progress towards the Ganges, arrived at the fifth branch of the Indus, called by Ptolemy the Zaradus which alone bears any resemblance to its modern name, the Sutlej. In the Aynee Akbery it is said anciently to have been called Shetooder. On the eastern bank of that river the adventurous Macedonian paused, not from any latent conviction of the impracticability of his ambitious project, but in constrained obedience to the voice of his army, who refused to follow him over that dreary desert of twelve days' journey which still lay between them and the Ganges, and to engage in unequal contest with the innumerable armies, which, they were informed, the powerful and warlike nations that dwelt on its banks were able to pour into the field.
The magnificent Delhi of today was, at the time of this invasion, a place of little importance, having been but newly founded, according to Ferishta, by Delhi the usurper of the throne of Hindustan, and uncle of Porus, who opposed the forces of Alexander. The vast city of Kanouj was at that time, and had been for many successive centuries, the imperial residence of its monarchs; and hardly any fact seems to admit of stronger evidence, that the famous Pataliputra of the ancients is not Halabas or Allahabad as D'Anville and almost all modern geographers have agreed, but this very ancient capital of Kanouj.
With respect to the nations that inhabited the inland regions of the peninsula, nothing decisive can be ascertained concerning them from the accounts of authors commonly called classical; for, as the Greeks had very imperfect and inadequate idea of the parts of India which they themselves did traverse, it is not to be supposed they could arrive at any very authentic information concerning the parts which they did not explore. To this dearth of geographical knowledge, their total ignorance of the Indian language has contributed not a little; and their fondness for molding foreign names to a Grecian form has added much to the confusion in which both the history and geography of India are involved. This custom was so prevalent among them that there is hardly a single Asiatic word, besides Porus, which they have not corrupted. Who, indeed, could have imagined, that of out of Ucha*, [* Asiatic Researchers, Vol. i. p.a] the name of an Indian nation, Oxydrakai, a compound Greek word, signifying sharp-sighted, should have been formed and applied in their history to that people; that Gogra should be converted into Agoramis; and Renas into Aornus? By indulging their fancy in this romantic manner, they have thrown difficulties, almost insuperable, in the way of the geographer and the historian; and they have nearly defeated the end which their vanity had in view, by obscuring their brightest exploits, and giving their victories almost the air of fiction.
Having surveyed in our last, the geographical divisions of Ancient India, we shall now come to the subject of the Indian Theology. We may consider the subject in two aspects, the physical and the symbolical, and in doing so, we shall examine in what points the religion of Ancient India resembled those of Scythia, Persia, Egypt and Greece.
Had it not been for the intercourse which the ancients maintained with India, by means of the conquests of Alexander and the commerce afterwards carried on with the nations inhabiting the peninsula, we would have had none of the accounts now handed down to us in the writings of Herodotus, Doidorus, Siculus, Strabo and Pliny, that give us an insight into the theological institutions of our ancestors. Some of the outlines which these have drawn are indeed just and striking; but they were unable to see through the impenetrable veil, which the craft of the Indian priest-hood had thrown over the solemn mysteries of the religion they professed. To add to this, we had an endless host of commentators and critics, both Indian and European, to torture our texts in their own peculiar ways. We have thus to investigate through a strata of obscure and abstracted topics and we may request the reader to impute the defects, if there be any, to the extensiveness and complexity of the subject under examination.
The gloomy cavern and the consecrated grove bore witness to the earliest devotions of mankind. The deep shade, the solemn silence, and the profound solitude of such places, inspired the contemplative soul with a kind of holy horror, and cherished in it, the seeds of virtue and religion. The same circumstances were found equally favorable to the propagation of science, and tended to impress upon the minds of the hearers the awful dictates of truth and wisdom. The Brahmins of Asia and the Druids of Europe were therefore constantly to be found in the recesses of the sacred grotto and in the bosom of the embowering forest. Here, undisturbed, they chanted forth their orisons to the Creator; here they practiced the severities of bodily mortification; here they taught mankind the vanity of wealth, the folly of power, and the madness of ambition. All Asia cannot boast of such grand and admirable monuments of antiquity as the caverns of ELEPHANTA and SALSETTE and the sculptures that adorn them; and from the deep obscurity of caverns and forests have issued in every age, the light of philosophy and the beams of religion. Zoroaster, the great Persian reformer composed his celebrated system, the Zend Avesta amidst the gloom of a cavern. The renowned philosophers, Epictetus, and Pythagoras, sought wisdom in the solitary cell. The Prophets of Messiah took up their abode in the solitudes of the desert; and Mohammed retired to a lonely cave, amidst the recess of Mount Hara.
These groves, sacred to religion and science, were afterwards prostituted to purposes of the basest devotion. They were upbraided with burning incense and offering oblations. We find the most dreadful sanguinary rites observed by the Phoenicians, the Scythians, the Egyptians, the Druids and the Brahmins. We have ample evidence to prove that the very early inhabitants of India were neither so gentle in their manners nor so guiltless in their oblations as we the moderns are. They took immense delight in the effusion of sacrificial blood. In the Vedas, we have the provision, on certain occasions, for the sacrifice of a man, a cow, or a horse, under the respective names, Naramedha Yaga, Gomedha Yaga and Aswamedha Yaga. Meritorious kinds of suicide are said to be five in number, in the Ayni Akbari. They are (1) Starving, (2) Covering oneself with cow-dung; setting it on fire, and consuming oneself therein, (3) Burying oneself with snow, (This practice must have been peculiar to the northern regions), (4) At the extremity of Bengal, where the Ganges discharges itself into the sea through a thousand channels, the victim goes into the water, enumerates his sins, and prays till the alligators come and devour him, and (5) Cutting the throat at Allahabad, at the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna." These collective considerations incontestably prove how much accustomed the Indians formerly were to the rites of human sacrifices, either constrained in regard to others, or voluntary in respect to themselves.
These barbarous customs must have had their origin, in part, from some early but forgotten connection which the Indians had with their neighboring ferocious and war trained tribes of Scythia. There is also a probability of these sacrifices having originated from the general belief which prevailed throughout the ancient world in the agency of demons, and in the frantic terrors inspired by superstition. In India, even today we see thousands of sheep offered in sacrifice at the temples of Kali. Human sacrifices, were seldom practiced by the ancients, but in cases of National emergency; as war, famine, and pestilence, when the noblest possible victims were selected. Herodotus, the historian, describes the various modes of devoting to death, the miserable victim specified. In India, it was either by decapitation, inhumation, or burning. We find human sacrifices common at the funerals of the ancient sovereigns of SAYTHIA instances of which are found in the writings of Tavernier, and Orme.
Again, we find a remarkable similitude subsisting in the leading principles of Zoroaster and Brahma, the two great Persian and Indian legislators. The Ancient Hindus and the Ancient Persians were one in their belief in one supreme presiding deity and there are parallels of Vishnu and Siva in the Persian Religion. Both Countries worshipped fire and water. We may trace the source of this to an admiration of the heavenly bodies and to the respect paid by the ancients to their wise, powerful, and virtuous ancestors. It is the Sun, that vast body of fire, that, in the words of Milton, "looks from his sole dominion like the god of this new world," it is that glorious planet that beams with unceasing splendor all over the East, whose ray has kindled the devotions of mankind from age to age. The worship of the Sun has been prevalent among the most ancient nations of the world, the Phoenicians, the Chaldaeans, the Egyptians, and we may add, the natives of Peru and Mexico, represented, of course, in a variety of ways and concealed under a multitude of fanciful names. Dr. Hyde who has made the Persian religion, the subject of his study refers to an injunction in the religion of Persians forbidding them to spit into fire, or to throw water upon it. The Persians imagined the throne of God to be seated in the sun. The moon is also by no means without his tribe of adorers in the East. In India the moon is considered as a male divinity under the name of CHANDRA and in Egypt, as a female divinity under the name of "ISIS." In Greece, we have the parallel in the horned goddess "IO." It is said that there were 360 fountains consecrated to the Moon in Kashmir, a remarkable circumstance being the number of days of the ancient year. From a worship of the sun and the moon, there is an attempt to pay the same degree of veneration to the planetary train, and this may be adduced as one of the reasons for the general cultivation of the science of astronomy in the East. The Indians and the Phoenicians believed the stars to be animated intelligences.
We can similarly trace a surprising similarity between the deities and symbols of Egypt and those of India. We have the Vrishaba Vahana of Siva and the bull is familiar among the Egyptians as the favorite of their OSIRIS. Serpents were considered sacred in both countries and the Eagle of Jove may be said to have its parallel in the Garuda of Vishnu.
The Indian philosophers, have invariably carried their notions concerning the transmigration of the soul to a point of greater extravagance than the Pythagoreans and the Platonists of the Grecian school of philosophy and this may be traced as one of the several reasons that have contributed to the severer modes of expiation and penance obtaining in India. The Grecian philosopher believed that the soul was a degraded and fallen spirit, that life was a state of expiation and discipline, and that death was a more perfect and happy state, and it was this very belief that supported the soul of Socrates in his dying moments, and that procured to Plato the envied title of divine. But the Indian philosopher traced by his powers of abstracted meditation, his spiritual genealogy through successive spheres and animals and knew exactly what particular punishment in one state unalterably attended the perpetration of crimes in another. This is what is otherwise termed as the Law of Karma and it is this very fundamental law that makes the Indian roll back his eye upon the past periods of his existence with a view to find a cause for every attendant calamity in the present state.
We have thus, in our Sastras, a few of those causes which cannot fail to gratify curiosity in the minds of our readers. Epilepsy, for instance, is said to be a punishment for one who has, in a previous existence, poisoned another; blindness and madness are punishments, the first for murdering your parents, the last for having been disobedient to and negligent of them; dumbness for having killed a sister; the stone for having committed incest; fevers, asthmas, indigestion &c., have also their causes assigned to them, and the expiations are in some instances, as whimsical as in others they are extremely severe. They consist for the most part, of vast sums of money, given away in charity to the Brahmins. In respect to women, upon whom these uncivil and avaricious Brahmins seem to be uncommonly severe, it is asserted that a woman who survives her husband was false to her husband in her previous birth or Janma. The expiation is that she must pass all her life in austerities. The woman, whose child dies, has, in a former state, exposed her child, which died in consequence of that exposure. The expiation is a cow of gold, with hoofs of silver, bestowed in charity to a Vipra-Deva. A woman who has only daughters, was inflamed with pride in her former existence and was disrespectful to her husband. As an expiation for this, she is asked to feed fifty Brahmins. Absurd as these appear to us, they formed the creed of the pious in India. They, however, give us a true picture of the slavish veneration and homage paid to that particular class of parasites, the Brahmins, by the other orders of society. How conceited and partial should have been the law giver who asserted that whosoever shall give to the Brahmins sufficient ground for a house to stand upon, shall enjoy ten generations in Svarga, the Hindu Paradise, before he returns again to the earth? And what meaning can there be for the sentence, "He who bestows upon the Brahmins a thousand head of cattle, will have the grand reward of ten thousand years of bliss in Svarga before he revisits earth."? How different is this selfish maxim from the very enlarged and liberal sentiment in the Bhagavat Gita wherein Sri Krishna says:- They who serve even other goods with a firm belief, in doing so, involuntarily worship me; I am he who partaketh of all worship, and I am their reward."?
Side by side with these avaricious Brahmins and their self-elected and docile devotees, there lived a few who cared the least for any of the earth's possessions and who believed that the most suitable habitation for a philosopher was that which was the least encumbered with furniture. These were the yogis whose delight it was to renounce all the world's and goods and to pant for the realization of the great and glorious "hereafter." Many an English traveller and historian has had the Indian Yogi as his subject of study and has more than once relegated him to the limbo of mysticism. These Western writers have unfortunately, in their craze of materialism, failed to appreciate the purest and sincerest sentiments of the Yogi. Among these are Magasthenes, Strabo, Porphyry and Cicero. Porpyhry characterizes them as a set of men voluntarily depriving themselves of all worldly wealth and advantages, shaving their heads and beards, and resolutely quitting their wives and children for the desert. He described them as living in the forest upon herbs and water alone, as reluctantly bearing the load of life, and, inflamed with the "foolish" hope of transmigrating into a better state, as if impatiently waiting for the hour of their departure. Cicero goes one step further and commends their invincible patience and undaunted fortitude in these words:- "These men with equal firmness endure the severity of the snows of Caucasus while they live, as they brave, when life verges on expiration, the fire that terminates their ire of torture." Arrian observes:- "These people live naked. In winter they enjoy the benefit of the sun's rays in the open air; and in the summer, when the heat becomes excessive, they pass their time in moist and marshy places under large trees." To add to these, there are few other writers who were so licentious as to hurl invectives on the devoted head of the poor Yogi. One of them, Master Purchase* [* Purchase's Pilgrimage] ludicrously enough calls the Yogi a sad rogue and gives the appellation of holy ashes to the Sanyasins. That the ancient writers of Europe had very vague ideas regarding the religious tenets, the habits and the virtues of the Indian people, is clear from the superficial and inconsistent findings that they have advanced in their writings from time to time.
Before concluding this section of my treatise, I shall come to the subject of the Divine Trinity and shall trace the source of the general belief that prevailed in the schools of Asia from time immemorial. From India, if we direct our eyes northward to the great empires of Tibet, China and Siberia, we shall find traces of this general belief. In the history of Tibet, we have instances of medals having the figure of a triune deity stamped upon them, given to the people by the Dalai-Lama, to be suspended as a holy object around their necks. The Chinese and the Tartars have a universal veneration for the sacred number Three and the people of Siberia adore in fact, only one indivisible God under three different denominations which may be translated as:- 'the Creator of all things'; 'the God of armies' and 'the spirit of heavenly love.' The celebrated Siberian medal now in the imperial cabinet at St. Petersburg published by Dr. Persons has a representation of a human figure distinguished by three heads seated cross-legged upon a low cuplike sofa, probably the lotus. An English rendering of the inscription on the other side of the medal runs thus:- "The bright and sacred image of a Deity, conspicuous in three figures. Gather the holy purpose of God from them: Love Him." * [* Stalenburgh] We have again, traces of the worship of a triple Deity in the northernmost regions of Scandinavia and the names of ODEN, FREA and THOR of the Scandinavian religion may be cited here with advantage.† [† Mallets' Antiquities] The same belief in the Divine Trinity seems to have existed among a section of the Pythagorean Philosophers who make the second of the three sovereign Deities the son of the first and the third the grandson. Plato, Plotinus and Amelius held that, the Trinity consisted of 'the One,' the 'Mind' and the 'Soul'.
In whatever regions this belief could have had a place, there is no gainsaying the fact that it existed in India a thousand years before it flourished elsewhere. India could have attained a knowledge of this truth by means of traditional dogmas handed down to them from very high antiquity which in the course of so many revolving ages has never been obliterated from the minds of her people.
T. M. S.