[Illustration: DEVIL PRIESTS.]
The priests in their yellow cloaks, with their shaven heads and bare feet, may be seen every morning begging from door to door; but proud beggars they are,—not condescending to speak,—but only standing with their baskets ready to receive rice and fruit; and the only thanks they give—are their blessings.
There is another worship in Ceylon, and it is more followed than the worship of Buddha, yet it is the most horrible that you can imagine. It is the worship of the DEVIL! Buddha taught, when he was alive, that there was no God, but that there were many devils: yet he forbid people to worship these devils; but no one minds what he said on that point.
There are many devil priests. When any one is sick, it is supposed that the devil has caused the sickness, and a devil priest is sent for. And what can the priest do? He dances,—he sings,—with his face painted,—small bells upon his legs,—and a flaming torch in each hand; while another man beats a loud drum. He dances, he sings—all night long,—sometimes changing his white jacket for a black, or his black for a white,—sometimes falling down, and sometimes jumping up,—sometimes reeling, and sometimes running,—and all this he does to please the devil, and to coax him to come out of the sick person. This is what he pretends;—but in reality, he seeks to get money by his tricks. The people are very fond of these devil-dancers; it tires them to listen to the Buddhist priests, mumbling out of their books, the five hundred and fifty histories of Buddha; but it delights them to watch all night the antics of a devil priest.
What is the character of these deceived people? They are polite, and obliging, but as deceitful as their own priests. They are not even sincere in their wrong religion, but are ready to pretend to be of any religion which is most convenient. The Portuguese once were masters of Ceylon, and they tried to make the people Roman Catholics. Then the Dutch came, who tried to force them to be Protestants. Many infants were baptized, who grew up to be heathen priests. Now the English are masters of Ceylon; they do not oblige the people to be Christians, yet many pretend to be Christians who are not.
A man was once asked, “Are you a Buddhist?”
“No,” he replied.
“Are you a Mahomedan?”
“Are you a Roman Catholic?”
“What is your religion?”
Such was his answer. This man had no religion at all,—he only wished to obtain the favor of the governor. But will he obtain the favor of the Governor of the world, the King of kings?