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they seem literally covered. It is one living, moving mass — dense, vast, interminable. The immediate margin being too confined for the contact of such a teeming throng, hundreds and thousands of boats, of every size and every form, are put in requisition. A processional party steps on board, and each vessel is speedily launched on the broad expanse of the waters. The bosom of the stream seems, for miles, to be converted into the crowd, and the movement, and the harlequin exhibitions, of an immense floating fair. When the last rites and ceremonies are terminated, all the companies of image-carriers suddenly fall upon their images. They break them to pieces, and violently dash the shivered fragments into the depths of the passing stream. But who can depict the wondrous spectacle? — the numbers without number ; the fantastic equipages of every rank and grade; the variegated costumes of every caste and sect; the strangely indecorous bodily gestures of deluded worshippers; the wild and frenzied mental excitement of myriads of spectators intoxicated with the scene ; the breaking, crashing, and sinking, of hundreds of dispossessed images, along the margin and over the surface of the mighty stream, - amid the loud, shrill dissonance of a thousand untuneful instruments, commingled with the still more stunning peals of ten thousand thousand human voices! Here, language entirely fails. Imagination itself must sink down with wings collapsed, utterly baffled in the effort to conceive the individualities and the groupings of an assemblage composed of such varied magnitudes.
Towards evening the multitudes return to their homes. Return, you will ask, for the purpose of refreshment and repose ? No; but to engage in fresh scenes of boisterous mirth and sensual revelry. But when these are at length brought to a close, is there not a season of respite ? No: all hearts, all thoughts, are instantaneously turned towards the next incoming festival, in honor of some other divinity; and the necessary preparations are at once set on foot to provide for its due celebration. And thus it has been for ages past; and thus it may be for ages to come; - unless the Christian people of these lands awake from the sleep of an ungodly, carnal security; arise from the deep slumber of sottish, selfish, luxurious enjoyment; and come forward, far beyond the standard of any present example, to advance the Redeemer's cause. O ye who do well to dwell at ease in your ceiled houses, when every where the temple of the Lord lies waste ! — ye who do well to
eat, and drink, and be merry, when the multitudes of the nations are up in arms against your Sovereign Lord and Redeemer, up in arms against the true peace and everlasting happiness of their own souls, - those precious souls that will never die !-ye may wholly resist every appeal that is thus addressed to you at a distance, in words; but, frozen-hearted as many of you are, could ye, we would ask, wholly resist the thrilling appeal which the direct exhibition of the terrible reality would address to you?
When we have stood on the banks of the Ganges, surrounded by deluded multitudes engaged in ablutions, in order to cancel the guilt and wipe away the stains of transgressions ; here assailed by the groans of the sick and the dying, stretched on the wet banks beneath “a hot and copper sky," and there stunned by loud vociferations, in the name of worship, addressed to innumerable gods; on the one hand, the flames of many a funeral pile blazing in view, and, on the other, the loathsome spectacle of human carcasses floating, unheeded and unknown amid the dash of the oar and the merry songs of the boatmen; and when we felt our own solitude in the midst of the teeming throng, - a cold sensation of horror has crept through the soul, and the heart has well nigh sunk and failed, through the overbearing impressions of sense, and the desponding weakness of faith. “Gracious God,” have we exclaimed, “how marvellous is the extent of thy long-suffering and forbearance! What earthly inonarch could, for a single hour, endure the thousand thousandth part of the indignities that are here daily offered to thy throne and majesty, O thou King of kings! And yet, thus it has been for ages ! Lord, how long will it continue to be? Forever? No; no!” When we look at the apparently unchanged past, and survey the apparently unchangeable present, the review and contemplation seem to sound the death-knell of hope, that would cradle us in black despair. But when we glance at the future, as portrayed in the "sure word of prophecy,” we there learn to realize the mystery of “hoping against hope.” From these polluted waters of a turbid earthly stream, we turn the eye of faith to the waters of gospel grace, which are seen, in the prophetic vision, to issue from under the threshold of the temple of Zion eastward. They swell and deepen into a river. It is the river of life. Wherever it rolls, disease, barrenness, and death disappear.
Next to the annual festival of Durga, one of the most popular in Eas ern India is that of the Charak Pujah.
Strictly and properly, this festival is held in honor of Shiva, in his character of Maha Kala ; or Time, the great destroyer of all things. In this character, his personified energy, or consort, is Parvati, under the distinction and appropriate form of Maha Kali. In the annual festival held in honor of the former, the worship of the latter appears at all times to have been blended; and, in the lapse of ages, the female form of Kali has become a far more important and formidable personage, in the eyes of the multitude, than the male form of Maha Kala, and often engrosses more than a proportionate share of the homage and adoration of deluded worshippers. To save, therefore, the tediousness of circumlocution, and the intricacy of a perpetual double reference, we must confine ourselves to a brief notice of the goddess Kali, as connected with the celebration of the Charak Pujah.
It is proper, however, to state, that Brahmans, Kshattryas, and the Vaishyas, take no active part in the actual celebration of the rites peculiar to this festival. Most of them, however, contribate largely towards the expense of it, and countenance the
whole of the proceedings as applauding spectators; though some of them, in words, profess to disapprove of many of the praclices.
Of all the Hindu divinities, this goddess is the most cruel and revengeful. Such, according to some of the sacred legends, is her thirst for blood, that, — being unab.e, in one of her forms, on a particular occasion, to procure any of the g‘ants for her prey, — in order to quench her savage appetite, she “actully cut her own throat, that the blood issuing thence might spout into her mouth.” Of the goddess, represented in the monstrous attitude of supporting her own half-severed head in the left hand, with streams of blood gushing from the throat into the mouth, — images may this day be seen in some districts of Bengal. The supreme delight of this divinity, therefore, consists in cruelty and torture ; her ambrosia is the flesh of living votaries and sacrificed victims; and her sweetest nectar, the copious effusion of their blood.
The Kalika Purana, one of the divine writings, is chiefly devoted to a recital of the different modes of worshipping and appeasing this ferocious divinity. If, for example, a devotee should scorch some member of his body by the application of a burning lamp, the act would prove most acceptable to the goddess. If he should draw some blood from himself, and present it, the libation would be still more delectable. If he should cut off a portion of his own flesh, and present it as a burnt sacrifice, the offering would be most grateful of all. If the devotee should present whole burnt-offerings upon the altar, saying,
Hrang, hring, Kali, Kali! -0! horrid-toothed goddess, eat, eat; destroy all the malignant; cut with this axe; bind, bind; seize, seize ; drink this blood ; spheng, spheng ; secure, secure!
- Salutation to Kali!" -- these will prove acceptable in proportion to the supposed importance of the animated beings sacrificed. By the blood drawn from fishes and tortoises the goddess is pleased one month ; a crocodile's blood will please her three; that of certain wild animals, nine; that of a bull or a guana, a year; an antelope's or wild boar's, twelve years, a buffalo's, rhinoceros's, or tiger's, a hundred; a lion's, a reindeer's, or a man's, (mark the combination,) a thousand; but by the blood of three men slain in sacrifice, she is pleased a hundred thousand years! Amid all the voluminous codes of Hinduism, there is not a section more loathsomely minute, more hideously revolting, than the sanguinary chapter devoted
to the description of the rites and formularies to be observed at the sacrifice of human victims.
Under the native dynasties, it cannot be doubted that human sacrifices were very largely offered. And, even now, when this species of sacrifice has been condemned, and declared to be punishable as murder, by the British government, clearly authenticated cases do still occasionally occur. During our own brief sojourn in Calcutta, a human victim was sacrificed at a temple of Kali in its immediate neighborhood. The sacrificer was seized by the officers of justice, and capitally punished. About the same time, the governor-general felt himself called upon to strip a rajah, in the east of Bengal, of his independent rights, because, in direct violation of existing treaties, he had carried off three British subjects to be offered in sacrifice to Kali !
Indeed, this divinity is the avowed patroness of almost all the most atrocious outrages against the peace of society. Is there in India, as in other lands, a set of lawless men who, despising the fruits of honest industry, earn their livelihood by the plunder of their neighbors' property? At the hour of midnight, the gang of desperadoes will resort to some spot where is reared an image of Kali. There they engage in religious ceremonies, and there they offer bloody sacrifices to propitiate the favor and secure the protection of the goddess. Worshipping the instrument that is to cut through the wall of the house intended to be attacked, they address it in a prescribed form of words, saying, "O instrument, formed by the goddess! Kali commands thce to cut a passage into the house; to cut through stones, bones, bricks, wood, the earth, and mountains; and cause the dust thereof to be carried away by the wind!” In full assurance of the divine blessing, and with unwavering faith in the divine protection, they hasten to the execution of their nefarious designs. How must the very foundations of even ordinary moral duties be swept away in a land where theft and plunder can be systematically carried on under the special patronage of the gods !
Again, is there in India, - as there is not, we believe, in any other land on the surface of the globe, - a still more lawless race of men, - a close, compact, confederate fraternity, — whose irresistible fate and hereditary profession it is to subsist by murder? These, too, well known under the name of Thugs, find a ready and potent protectress in Kali. To the divinelyrevealed will and command of this goddess, they universally