Billeder på siden

a special tree, or a beggar gives the princess the drug which causes her to give birth to twins. Even in the Râmâyana we read that Râja Dasaratha divides the oblation among his wives and they conceive. Even nowadays in Florence, if a woman wishes to be with child, she goes to a priest and gets from him an enchanted apple, with which she repairs to Saint Anna, who was the Lucina of Roman times, and repeats a prayer or a spell.


Some holy men, it must be admitted, do not escape the tongue of slander for their doings in this department of their business.

HARMLESS SAINTS AND GODLINGS. Most of these saints and godlings whom we have been considering, are comparatively harmless, and even benevolent. Such is nearly always the case with the ghosts of the European dead, who are constantly deified. Perhaps because the Sâhib is such a curiously incomprehensible personage to the rustic, he is believed to retain his powers in the other world. But it is a remarkable and unconscious tribute to the foreign ruler that his ghost should be beneficent.

The gardener in charge of the station cemetery in Mirzapur some time ago informed me that he constantly sees the ghosts of the ladies and gentlemen buried there coming out for a walk in the hot summer nights, and that they never harm him.

But with ordinary graves it is necessary to be cautious. As appears in the cycle of tales which turn on the magic ointment which enables the possessor to see the beings of the other world, spirits hate being watched. The spirit, for instance, often announces its wishes. When the Emperor Tughlaq began to build the tomb of the Saint Bahâwal Haq, a voice was heard from below, saying, “You are treading on my body.” Another site was chosen at a short

1 Lâl Bihâri Dê, “Folk-tales of Bengal," 1, 117, 187;_Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sâgara," i. 52, 172, 355, 382 ; ii. 216 ; Knowles, "Folk-tales of Kashmîr," 131, 416.

2 Leland, “ Etruscan Roman Remains,” 246.

distance, and the voice said, “You are treading on my knees.” He went a little further, and the voice said, “You are treading on my toes.” So he had to go to the other end of the fort, and as the voice was not heard there, the tomb was built. If you visit an old tomb, it is well to clap your hands, as the ghost sometimes revisits its restingplace, and if discovered in doshabille, is likely to resent the intrusion in a very disagreeable manner. So it is very dangerous to pollute a tomb or insult its occupant in any way, and instances have occurred of cases of epilepsy and hysteria, which were attributed to the neglect of these precautions. Thus, there is nothing permanent, no established rule of faith in the popular belief of the rustic. Discredited saints and shrines are always passing into contempt and oblivion; new worthies are being constantly canonized. The worst part of the matter is that there is no official controller of the right to deification, no Advocatus Diaboli to dispute the claims of the candidate to celestial honours. At the same time the system, though often discredited by fraud, admirably illustrates the elastic character of the popular creed. Hinduism would hardly be so congenial to the minds of the masses, if some rigid supervising agency disputed the right of any tribe to worship its hero, of any village to canonize its local worthy. The steady popularity of the system, for the present at least, shows that it satisfactorily provides for the religious wants of the people.



Πρώτη δε ψυχή Ελπήνορος ήλθεν εταίρου,
Ου γάρ πω ετέθαπτο υπό χθονός ευρυοδείης. .

Odyssey, xi. 51, 52.

THESE deified ghosts and saints whom we have been discussing, though occasionally touchy and sensitive to insult or disrespect, are, as a rule, benevolent. But there is another class of beings at whose feet the rustic lies in grievous and perpetual bondage. These are the malevolent dead.

SPIRITS OF THE DEAD HOSTILE. It is not difficult to understand why the spirits of the dead should be regarded as hostile. A stranger is, in the belief of all primitive people, synonymous with an enemy; and the spirit of the departed having abandoned his own and joined some other and invisible tribe, whose domains lie outside the world of sense, is sure to be considered inimical to the survivors left on earth. As we have already seen, even the usually kindly spirit of the departed household dead requires propitiation and resents neglect; much more those of a different tribe or family.

Again, those disembodied souls in particular whose departure from the earth occurred under unexpected or specially tragical circumstances are naturally considered to have been ejected against their will from their tenement of clay, and as for many of them the proper funeral rites have not been performed, they carry with them to the next world an angry longing for revenge. As Brand, writing of British

ghosts, says, “The ghosts of murdered persons, whose bodies have been secretly buried, are restless until their bones have been taken up and deposited in consecrated ground with the due rites of Christian burial; this idea being the survival of the old heathen superstition that Charon was not allowed to ferry over the ghosts of the unburied, but that they wandered up and down the banks of the river Styx for a period of a hundred years, at the expiration of which they were admitted to a passage.” " This conception of the state of the soul after death may be illustrated by the savage theory of dreams.


Many savages believe that the evidence of dreams is sufficient to prove that the soul moves about during sleep, and that the dream is the record of its experiences in hunting, dancing, visiting friends, and so on.


Hence arises the possibility that in the temporary absence of a man's soul his body may be occupied by some other person's spirit, or even by a malignant ghost or demon. In the Panchatantra there is a story of a king who lost his own soul, but afterwards recovered it. A Panjāb tale tells how a Hindu was once asleep and his soul went on its travels as usual. During its wanderings it felt thirsty and went into a pitcher of water to drink. While it was in the pitcher some one shut the lid, and it was imprisoned. His friends took the corpse to the cremation ground, but some one happened fortunately to open the pitcher just in time, and the spirit flew into its own body, which awoke on the bier.” In the same way, according to Apollonius, the soul of Hermotimos of Klazomenoe left his body frequently, resided in different places, uttered all sorts of predictions, and used to come back to his body, which remained in his house. At last some spiteful persons burnt his body in the absence of his soul. In another tale of Somadeva the soul of Chandraprabha abandons his own body and enters that of a hero under the influence of Māyā or delusion." On this principle Hindus are very cautious about awaking a sleeping friend, lest his soul may happen to be absent at the time, and in Bombay it is considered most reprehensible to play jokes on a sleeping person, such as painting the face in fantastic colours, or giving moustaches to a sleeping woman. The absent soul may not be able to find its own body, the appearance of which has been thus changed, and may depart altogether, leaving the body a corpse. It is a common incident of the folk-tales that the soul departs in a dream and falls in love with a girl. We have it in the common tale of the Rival Queens, where the king sees in a dream the most lovely woman in the world, and imposes on his courtiers the task of finding her. The same idea is found more or less in Somadeva, and constantly recurs in European folk-lore.” In the same way we have the well-known tale of the instantaneous lapse of time in dreams, as that of the king who plunges his head into water, goes through wondrous adventures, and when he takes his head out of the vessel, finds himself surrounded by his courtiers as before. The rustic Hindu firmly believes that in the absence of a man's proper soul in a dream his body is occupied by some strange and consequently malignant ghost. Hence come the nightmare and evil dreams. Thus the Korwas of Mirzapur believe that a Bhūtin or dangerous female ghost named Reiyā besets them at night under the orders of some witch, and attacks people's joints with the rheumatism.

* “Observations,” 625 ; and see Frazer, “Golden Bough,” i. 150 ; Lubbock, “Origin of Civilization,” 220; Tylor, “Primitive Culture,” ii. 27; Spencer, “Principles of Sociology,” i. 215 sq.; Sir W. Scott, “Letters on Demonology,” 90.

* “Panjāb Notes and Queries,” iii. 166.

* Tawney, “Katha Sarit Sāgara,” i. 21, 420; Miss Cox, “Cinderella,” 489; Clouston, “Popular Tales,” i. 437.

* “North Indian Notes and Queries,” iii. 31; Clouston, loc. cit., ii 228 ; Tawney, “Katha Sarit Sāgara,” ii. 588.

« ForrigeFortsæt »