Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

CHAPTER 2

Hindoo System of Religion.

The Hindoo system is this.  A great divine spirit or essence, ‘Brahma’, pervades the whole universe; and the soul of every human being is a drop from this great ocean, to which, when it becomes perfectly purified, it is reunited.  The reunion is the eternal beatitude to which all look forward with hope; and the soul of the Brahman is nearest to it.  If he has been a good man, his soul becomes absorbed in the ‘Brahma’; and, if a bad man, it goes to ‘Narak’, hell; and after the expiration of its period there of limited imprisonment, it returns to earth, and occupies the body of some other animal.  It again advances by degrees to the body of the Brahman; and thence, when fitted for it, into the great ’Brahma’.[1]

From this great eternal essence emanate Brahma, the Creator, whose consort is Sarasvati;[2] Vishnu, the Preserver, whose consort is Lakshmi; and Siva, alias Mahadeo, the Destroyer, whose consort is Parvati.  According to popular belief Jamraj (Yamaraja) is the judicial deity who has been appointed by the greater powers to pass the final judgement on the tenor of men’s lives, according to proceedings drawn up by his secretary Chitragupta.  If men’s actions have been good, their souls are, as the next stage, advanced a step towards the great essence, Brahma; and, if bad, they are thrown back, and obliged to occupy the bodies of brutes or of people of inferior caste, as the balance against them may be great or small.  There is an intermediate stage, a ‘Narak’, or hell, for bad men, and a ‘Baikunth’, or paradise, for the good, in which they find their felicity in serving that god of the three to which they have specially devoted themselves while on earth.  But from this stage, after the period of their sentence is expired, men go back to their pilgrimage on earth again.

There are numerous Deos (Devas), or good spirits, of whom Indra is the chief; [3] and Daityas, or bad spirits; and there have also been a great number of incarnations from the three great gods, and their consorts, who have made their appearance upon the earth when required for particular purposes.  All these incarnations are called ‘Avatars’, or descents.  Vishnu has been eleven times on the globe in different shapes, and Siva seven times.[4] The avatars of Vishnu are celebrated in many popular poems, such as the Ramayana, or history of the Rape of Sita, the wife of Rama, the seventh incarnation;[5] the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavata [Purana], which describe the wars and amours of this god in his last human shape.[6] All these books are believed to have been written either by the hand or by the inspiration of the god himself thousands of years before the events they describe actually took place.  ‘It was’, they say, ’as easy for the deity to write or dictate a battle, an amour, or any other important event ten thousand years before as the day after it

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Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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