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which had dried up their water-tanks. In Ireland it is believed that a whirlwind denotes that a devil is dancing with a witch; or that the fairies are rushing by, intent on carrying off some victim to fairyland. The only help is to fling clay at the passing wind, and the fairies will be compelled to drop the mortal child or the beautiful young girl they have abducted." A gentleman at Listowel not long ago was much astonished when a cloud of dust was being blown along a road to see an old woman rush to the side and drag handfuls of grass out of the fence, which she threw in great haste into the cloud of dust. He inquired and learned that this was in order to give something to the fairies which were flying along in the dust. So in Italy, Spolviero is the wind spirit which flies along in the dust eddies.” In the Panjāb Pheru” is the deity of the petty whirlwinds which blow when the little dust-clouds rise in the hot weather. He was a Brähman, and a long story is told of him, how he worshipped Sakhi Sarwar, was made Governor of Imānābād by Akbar, but he abandoned the saint and returned to his caste, whereupon he was afflicted with leprosy. When he repented he was cured by eating some magical earth and believed in the saint till he died. His shrine is at Miyānké, in the Lahore District, and when a Panjābi sees a whirlwind he calls out, Bhái Pheru, teri Kár—“May Bhái Pheru protect us!” Another whirlwind demon, the saint Rahma, was once neglected at the wheat harvest, and he raised a whirlwind which blew for nine days in succession, and wrought such damage in the threshingfloors that since then his shrine receives the appropriate offerings. On the same principle whirlwinds are called in Bombay Bagálya or devils." Among the Mirzapur Korwas, when a dust-storm comes, the women thrust the house broom, which, as we shall see, is a demon scarer, into the thatch, so that it may not be
1 Lady Wilde, “Legends,” 128; “Folk-lore,” i. 149, 153; iv. 351.
* Leland, “Etruscan Roman Remains,” 79. --
* Temple, “Legends of the Panjāb,” ii. Ioa sqq.; iii. 301.
* “North Indian Notes and Queries,” i. 39; Forbes, “Oriental Memoirs,” i. 205.
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blown away. The Pankas in the same way make their women hold the thatch and throw the rice mortar and the flour-mill pivot into the courtyard. The wind is ashamed of being defeated by the power of women and ceases to blow.
AEROLITES. All over the world people say that if when a meteor or falling star darts across the sky they can utter a wish before it disappears, that wish will be granted. The old Norsemen believed that it implied that a dragon was flashing through the air. In Italy' the sight of such a body is a cure for blear eyes. In India it is believed that the residence of a soul in heaven is proportionate to the charities done by him on earth, and when his allotted period is over he falls as an aerolite. A falling star means that the soul of some great man is passing through the air, and when people see one of these stars they thrust their five fingers into their mouths to prevent their own souls from joining his company. Many of these aerolites are worshipped as lingams in Saiva shrines. One which fell at Sîtâmarhi in Bengal in 1880, has now been deified, and is worshipped as Adbhut-natha, or “the miraculous god.” ?
i Leland, loc. cit., 272.
Archæological Reports,” xvi. 32.
THE HEROIC AND VILLAGE GODLINGS.
Arma procul currusque virum miratur inanes.
Æneid, vi. 652-654
THE HEROIC GODLINGS. NEXT to these deities which have been classed as the godlings of nature, come those which have a special local worship of their own. The number of these godlings is immense, and their functions and attributes so varied, that it is extremely difficult to classify them on any intelligible principle. Some of them are pure village godlings, of whom the last Census has unearthed an enormous number all through Northern India. Some of them, like Hanumân or Bhîmsen, are survivals in a somewhat debased form of the second-rate deities or heroes of the older mythology. Some have risen to the rank, or are gradually being elevated to the status, of national deities. Some are in all probability the local gods of the degraded races, whom we may tentatively assume to be autochthonous. Many of these have almost certainly been absorbed into Brâhmanism at a comparatively recent period. Some are in process of elevation to the orthodox pantheon. But it will require a much more detailed analysis of the national faith than the existing materials permit, before it will be possible to make a final classification of this mob of deities on anything approaching a definite principle.
The deities of the heroic class are as a rule benignant, and
are generally worshipped by most Hindus. Those that have been definitely promoted into the respectable divine cabinet, like Hanumân, have Brâhmans or members of the ascetic orders as their priests, and their images, if not exactly admitted into the holy of holies of the greater shrines, are still allotted a respectable position in the neighbourhood, and receive a share in the offerings of the faithful.
The local position of the shrine very often defines the status of the deity. To many godlings of this class is allotted the duty of acting as warders (dwârapâla) to the temples of the great gods. Thus, at the Ashthbhuja hill in Mirzapur, the pilgrim to the shrine of the eight-armed Devî meets first on the road an image of the monkey god Hanumân, before he comes into the immediate presence of the goddess. So at Benares, Bhaironnâth is chief policeofficer (Kotwâl) or guardian of all the Saiva temples. Similarly at Jageswar beyond Almora we find Kshetrapal, at Badarinâth Ghantakaran, at Kedarnath Bhairava, and at Tungnâth Kâl Bhairon. In many places, as the pilgrim ascends to the greater temples, he comes to a place where the first view of the shrine is obtained. This is known as the Devadekhnî or spot from which the deity is viewed. This is generally occupied by some lower-class deity, who is just beginning to be considered respectable. Then comes the temple dedicated to the warden, and lastly the real shrine itself. There can be little doubt that this represents the process by which gods which are now admittedly within the inner circle of the first class, such as the beast incarnations of Vishnu, the elephant-headed Ganesa, and the Sâktis or impersonations of the female energies of nature, underwent a gradual elevation.
This process is actually still going on before our eyes. Thus, the familiar Gor Bâba, a deified ghost of the aboriginal races, has in many places become a new manifestation of Siva, as Goreswara. Similarly, the powerful and malignant goddesses, who were by ruder tribes propitiated with the sacrifice of a buffalo or a goat, have been annexed to
Atkinson, “ Himâlayan Gazetteer,” ii. 762.