Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Durga Puja
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/5/21

-- Nabakrishna Deb, by Wikipedia

-- Gopi Mohun Deb, by Wikipedia

-- Radhakanta Deb, by Wikipedia

-- Shobhabazar Rajbari, by Wikipedia

-- Durga Puja, by Wikipedia

-- Durga, by Wikipedia

-- The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won't Give Women a Future, by Cynthia Eller

-- Interesting Historical Events, Relative to the Provinces of Bengal, and the Empire of Indostan. With a Seasonable Hint and Persuasive to the Honourable The Court of Directors of the East India Company. As Also The Mythology and Cosmogony, Fasts and Festivals of the Gentoo's, Followers of the Shastah. And a Dissertation on the Metempsychosis, commonly, though erroneously, called the Pythagorean Doctrine, Parts I, II, and III, by J.Z. Holwell, Esq.

-- India Tracts, by Mr. J. Z. Holwell, and Friends.

-- The Black Hole: The Question of Holwell's Veracity, by J. H. Little

-- Full Proceedings of the Black Hole Debate, Bengal, Past & Present, Journal of the Calcutta Historical Society

-- History of Hindostan; From the Earliest Account of Time, To the Death of Akbar; Translated From the Persian of Mahummud Casim Ferishta of Delhi: Together With a Dissertation Concerning the Religion and Philosophy of the Brahmins; With an Appendix, Containing the History of the Mogul Empire, From Its Decline in the Reign of Mahummud Shaw, to the Present Times, by Alexander Dow.

-- Reflections on the Present State of our East-India Affairs; With Many Interesting Anecdotes Never Before Made Public, by Gentleman Long Resident in India

-- The History of British India, vol. 1 of 6, by James Mill

-- The History of British India, vol. II, by James Mill

-- The History of British India, vol. III, by James Mill

-- The Golden Bough: A study of magic and religion, by Sir James George Frazer

-- The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology, and in its Relation to Indian Buddhism, by Laurence Austine Waddell, M.B., F.L.S., F.R.G.S.

Ramakrishna ashrama's religious activities include satsang and arati. Satsang includes communal prayers, songs, rituals, discourses, reading and meditation. Arati involves the ceremonial waving of lights before the images of a deity of holy person and is performed twice in a day. Ramakrishna ashramas observes major Hindu festivals, including Maha Shivarathri, Rama Navami, Krishna Ashtami and Durga Puja. They also give special place to the birthdays of Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and other monastic disciples of Ramakrishna.[29] 1 January is celebrated as Kalpataru Day.[30]

-- Ramakrishna Mission, by Wikipedia

Durga Puja
Durga killing Mahishasura with her lion (replaced here with a horse). Lakshmi and Ganesha flank the left while Saraswati and Kartikeya flank the right
Observed by: Bengali, Odia, Maithils and Assamese communities as a socio-cultural and religious festival
Type: Hindu
Celebrations: Worshipping Hindu deities, family and other social gatherings, shopping and gift-giving, feasting, pandal visiting, and cultural events
Observances: Ceremonial worship of goddess Durga
Begins: On the sixth day of Ashwin shukla paksha[1]
Ends: On the tenth day of Ashwin shukla paksha[1]
2020 date: 22 October - 26 October
Frequency: Annual
Related to: Mahalaya, Navratri, Dussehra

Durga Puja (pronounced [dʊrɡa puːdʒa]), also called Durgotsava (pronounced [dʊrɡoːtsəʋə]), is an annual Hindu festival originating in the Indian subcontinent which reveres and pays homage to the Hindu goddess, Durga.[2][3] It is particularly popular and traditionally celebrated in the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Tripura and the country of Bangladesh, and the diaspora from this region, and also in Mithilanchal regions of Bihar and Nepal. The festival is observed in the Indian calendar month of Ashwin, which corresponds to the months of September–October in the Gregorian calendar,[4][5] and is a ten-day festival,[6][2] of which the last five are of significance.[7][5] The puja is performed in homes and in the public, the latter featuring temporary stage and structural decorations (known as pandals). The festival is also marked by scripture recitations, performance arts, revelry, gift giving, family visits, feasting, and public processions. [2][8][9] Durga puja is an important festival in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism.[10][11][12][/b][/size]

As per Hindu scriptures, the festival marks the victory of goddess Durga in her battle against the shape-shifting asura, Mahishasura.[13][14][A]

Asuras (Sanskrit: असुर) are a class of beings in Indian religions. They are described as power-seeking clans related to the more benevolent Devas (also known as Suras) in Hinduism. In its Buddhist context, the word is sometimes translated "titan, "demigod", or "antigod".

According to Hindu scriptures, the asuras battle constantly with the devas. Asuras are described in Indian texts as powerful superhuman demigods with good or bad qualities.
In early Vedic literature, the good Asuras are called Adityas and are led by Varuna, while the malevolent ones are called Danavas and are led by Vritra.[2](p 4) In the earliest layer of Vedic texts Agni, Indra and other gods are also called Asuras, in the sense of their being "lords" of their respective domains, knowledge and abilities. In later Vedic and post-Vedic texts, the benevolent gods are called Devas, while malevolent Asuras compete against these Devas and are considered "enemy of the gods".[2](pp 5–11, 22, 99–102)

-- Asura, by Wikipedia

"The Goddess or The queen of the warring weapons." Lha-mo (or pal-ldan-Lha-mo); Skt., Devi (or Sri-Devi). And also, in Tibetan, dMagzor rgyal-mo.

This great she-devil, like her prototype the goddess Durga of Brahmanism, is, perhaps, the most malignant and powerful of all the demons, and the most dreaded. She is credited with letting loose the demons of disease, and her name is scarcely ever mentioned, and only then with bated breath, and under the title of "The great queen" — Maha-rani.

She is figured, as at page 334, surrounded by flames, and riding on a white-faced mule, upon a saddle of her own son's skin flayed by herself. She is clad in human skins and is eating human brains and blood from a skull; and she wields in her right hand a trident-rod. She has several attendant "queens" riding upon different animals.

She is publicly worshipped for seven days by the Lamas of all sects, especially at the end of the twelfth month, in connection with the prevention of disease for the incoming year. And in the cake offered to her are added amongst other ingredients the fat of a black goat, blood, wine, dough and butter, and these are placed in a bowl made from a human skull.

-- The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology, and in its Relation to Indian Buddhism, by Laurence Austine Waddell, M.B., F.L.S., F.R.G.S.

Thus, the festival epitomises the victory of good over evil [???!!!], though it is also in part a harvest festival celebrating the goddess as the motherly power behind all of life and creation.[16][17] Durga puja coincides with Navaratri and Dussehra celebrations observed by other traditions of Hinduism,[18] in which the Ram lila dance-drama is enacted, celebrating the victory of Rama against Ravana, and effigies of Ravana are burnt.[19][20]

The primary goddess revered during Durga puja is Durga but celebrations also include other major deities of Hinduism such as Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth and prosperity), Saraswati (the goddess of knowledge and music), Ganesha (the god of good beginnings), and Kartikeya (the god of war). In Bengali and Odia traditions, these deities are considered to be Durga's children and Durga puja is believed to commemorate Durga's visit to her natal home with her beloved and nice children. The festival is preceded by Mahalaya, which is believed to mark the start of Durga's journey to her natal home. Primary celebrations begin on the sixth day (Shasthi), on which the goddess is welcomed with rituals. The festival ends on the tenth day (Vijaya dashami), when devotees embark on a procession carrying the worshipped clay sculpture-idols to a river, or other water body, and immerse them, symbolic of her return to the divine cosmos and her marital home with Shiva in Kailash. Regional and community variations in celebration of the festival and rituals observed exist.

Durga puja is an old tradition of Hinduism,[21] though its exact origins are unclear. Surviving manuscripts from the 14th—century provide guidelines for Durga puja, while historical records suggest that the royalty and wealthy families were sponsoring major Durga puja festivities since at least the 16th-century.[22][10] The prominence of Durga puja increased during the British Raj in the provinces of Bengal, Odisha and Assam.[23][3] In today's time, the importance of Durga puja is as much as a social and cultural festival as a religious one, wherever it is observed.

Over the years, Durga puja has become an inseparable part of Indian culture with innumerable people celebrating this festival in their own unique way while pertaining to tradition.[3]


In West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, and Tripura, Durga puja is also called Akalbodhan (literally, "untimely awakening of Durga"), Sharadiya pujo ("autumnal worship"), Sharodotsab ("festival of autumn"), Maha pujo ("grand puja"), Maayer pujo ("worship of the Mother"), Durga pujo,[24] or merely Puja or Pujo. In Bangladesh, Durga puja has historically been celebrated as Bhagabati puja.

Durga puja is also referred to by the names of related Shakta Hindu festivals such as Navaratri, celebrated on the same days elsewhere in India;[3] such as in Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala, and Maharashtra,[ b] Kullu dussehra, celebrated in Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh;[C] Mysore dussehra celebrated in Mysore, Karnataka;[D] Bommai golu, celebrated in Tamil Nadu; Bommala koluvu, celebrated in Andhra Pradesh;[E] and Bathukamma, celebrated in Telangana.

History and origins

Further information: Durga and Akaal bodhan

Durga is an ancient deity of Hinduism according to available archeological and textual evidence. However, the origins of Durga puja are unclear and undocumented. Surviving manuscripts from the 14th-century provide guidelines for Durga puja, while historical records suggest the royalty and wealthy families to be sponsoring major Durga Puja public festivities, since at least the 16th-century.[10] The 11th or 12th-century Jain text Yasatilaka by Somadeva mentions an annual festival dedicated to a warrior goddess, celebrated by the king and his armed forces, and the description mirrors attributes of Durga puja.[4][25]

The Dadhimati Mata Temple of Rajasthan preserves a Durga-related inscription from chapter 10 of Devi Mahatmya. The temple inscription has been dated by modern methods to 608 CE.[26][27]

The name Durga, and related terms, appear in Vedic literature, such as in the Rigveda hymns 4.28, 5.34, 8.27, 8.47, 8.93 and 10.127,

Rigveda 4.28

HYMN XXVIII. Indra-Soma.
1. ALLIED with thee, in this thy friendship, Soma, Indra for man made waters flow together,
Slew Ahi, and sent forth the Seven Rivers, and opened as it were obstructed fountains.
2 Indu, with thee for his confederate, Indra swiftly with might pressed down the wheel of Sūrya.
What rolled, all life's support, on heaven's high summit was separated from the great oppressor.
3 Indra smote down, Agni consumed, O Indu, the Dasyus ere the noontide in the conflict.
Of those who gladly sought a hard-won dwelling he cast down many a thousand with his arrow.
4 Lower than all besides hast thou, O Indra, cast down the Dasyus, abject tribes of Dāsas.
Ye drave away, ye put to death the foemen, and took great vengeance with your murdering weapons.
5 So, of a truth, Indra and Soma, Heroes, ye burst the stable of the kine and horses,
The stable which the bar or stone obstructed; and piercing through set free the habitations.

Rigveda 5.34

1. BOUNDLESS and wasting not, the heavenly food of Gods goes to the foeless One, doer of wondrous deeds.
Press out, make ready, offer gifts with special zeal to him whom many laud, accepter of the prayer.
2 He who filled full his belly with the Soma's juice, Maghavan, was delighted with the meath's sweet draught,
When Uśanā, that he might slay the monstrous beast, gave him the mighty weapon with a thousand points.
3 Illustrious is the man whoever presseth out Soma for him in sunshine or in cloud and rain.
The mighty Maghavan who is the sage's Friend advanceth more and more his beauteous progeny.
4 The Strong God doth not flee away from him whose sire, whose mother or whose brother he hath done to death.
He, the Avenger, seeketh this man's offered gifts: this God, the source of riches, doth not flee from sin.
5 He seeks no enterprise with five or ten to aid, nor stays with him who pours no juice though prospering well.
The Shaker conquers or slays in this way or that, and to the pious gives a stable full of kine.
6 Exceeding strong in war he stays the chariot wheel, and, hating him who pours not, prospers him who pours.
Indra the terrible, tamer of every man, as Ārya leads away the Dāsa at his will.
7 He gathers up for plunder all the niggard’s gear: excellent wealth he gives to him who offers gifts.
Not even in wide stronghold may all the folk stand firm who have provoked to anger his surpassing might.
8 When Indra Maghavan hath marked two wealthy men fighting for beauteous cows with all their followers,
He who stirs all things takes one as his close ally, and, Shaker, with his Heroes, sends the kine to him.
9 Agni! I laud the liberal Agnivesi, Satri the type and standard of the pious.
May the collected waters yield him plenty, and his be powerful and bright dominion.

Rigveda 8.27

HYMN XXVII. Viśvedevas.
1. CHEIF Priest is Agni at the laud, as stones and grass at sacrifice:
With song I seek the Maruts, Brahmaṇaspati, Gods for help much to be desired.
2 I sing to cattle and to Earth, to trees, to Dawns, to Night, to plants.
O all ye Vasus, ye possessors of all wealth, be ye the furtherers of our thoughts.
3 Forth go, with Agni, to the Gods our sacrifice of ancient use,
To the Ādityas, Varuṇa whose Law stands fast, and the all-lightening Marut troop.
4 Lords of all wealth, may they be strengtheners of man, destroyers of his enemies.
Lords of all wealth, do ye, with guards which none may harm, preserve our dwelling free from foes.
5 Come to us with one mind to-day, come to us all with one accord,
Maruts with holy song, and, Goddess Aditi, Mighty One, to our house and home.
6 Send us delightful things, ye Maruts, on your steeds: come ye, O Mitra, to our gifts.
Let Indra, Varuṇa, and the Ādityas sit, swift Heroes, on our sacred grass.
7 We who have trimmed the grass for you, and set the banquet in array,
And pressed the Soma, call you, Varuina, like men, with sacrificial fires aflame.
8 O Maruts, Visinu, Aśvins, Pūṣan, haste away with minds turned hitherward to Me.
Let the Strong Indra, famed as Vṛtra's slayer, come first with the winners of the spoil.
9 Ye Guileless Gods, bestow on us a refuge strong on every side,
A sure protection, Vasus, unassailable from near at hand or from afar.
10 Kinship have I with you, and close alliance O ye Gods, destroyers of our foes.
Call us to our prosperity of former days, and soon to new klicity.
11 For now have I sent forth to you, that I may win a fair reward,
Lords of all wealth, with homage, this my song of praise. like a milch-cow that faileth not.
12 Excellent Savitar hath mounted up on high for you, ye sure and careful Guides.
Bipeds and quadrupeds, with several hopes and aims, and birds have settled to their tasks.
13 Singing their praise with God-like thought let us invoke each God for grace,
Each God to bring you help, each God to strengthen you.
14 For of one spirit are the Gods with mortal man, co-sharers all of gracious gifts.
May they increase our strength hereafter and to-day, providing case and ample room.
15 I laud you, O ye Guileless Gods, here where we meet to render praise.
None, Varuṇa and Mitra, harins the mortal, man who honours and obeys your laws.
16 He makes his house endure, he gathers plenteous food who pays obedience to your will.
Born in his sons anew he spreads as Law commands, and prospers every way unharmed.
17 E’en without war he gathers wealth, and goes hisway on pleasant paths,
Whom Mitra, Varuṇa and Aryaman protect, sharing the gift,of one accord.
18 E’en on the plain for him ye make a sloping path, an easy way where road is none:
And far away from him the ineffectual shaft must vanish, shot at him in vain.
19 If ye appoint the rite to-day, kind Rulers, when the Sun ascends,
Lords of all wealth, at sunset or at wakingtime, or be it at the noon of day,
20 Or, Asuras, when ye have sheltered the worshipper who goes to sacrifice, at eve
may we, O Vasus, ye possessors of all wealth, come then into the midst of You.
21 If ye to-day at sunrise, or at noon, or in the gloom of eve,
Lords of all riches, give fair treasure to the man, the wise man who hath sacrificed,
22 Then we, imperial Rulers, claim of you this boon, your wide protection, as a son.
May we, Ādityas, offering holy gifts, obtain that which shall bring us greater bliss.

Rigveda 8.47

HYMN XLVII. Ādityas.
1. GREAT help ye give the worshipper, Varuṇa, Mitra, Mighty Ones! No sorrow ever reaches him whom ye, Ādityas, keep from harm. Yours are incomparable aids, and good the succour they afford.
2 O Gods, Ādityas, well ye know the way to keep all woes afar.
As the birds spread their sheltering wings, spread your protection over us.
3 As the birds spread their sheltering wings let your protection cover us.
We mean all shelter and defence, ye who have all things for your own.
4 To whomsoever they, Most Wise, have given a home and means of life,
O'er the whole riches of this man they, the Ādityas, have control.
5 As drivers of the car avoid ill roads, let sorrows pass us by.
May we be under Indra's guard, in the Ādityas’ favouring grace.
6 For verily men sink and faint through loss of wealth which ye have given.
Much hath he gained from you, O Gods, whom ye, Ādityas, have approached.
7 On him shall no fierce anger fall, no sore distress shall visit him,
To whom, Ādityas, ye have lent your shelter that extendeth far.
8 Resting in you, O Gods, we are like men who fight in coats of mail.
Ye guard us from each great offence, ye guard us from each lighter fault.
9 May Aditi defend us, may Aditi guard and shelter us,
Mother of wealthy Mitra and of Aryaman and Varuṇa.
10 The shelter, Gods, that is secure, auspicious, free from malady,
A sure protection, triply strong, even that do ye extend to us.
11 Look down on us, Ādityas, as a guide exploring from the bank.
Lead us to pleasant ways as men lead horses to an easy ford.
12 Ill be it for the demons' friend to find us or come near to us.
But for the milch-cow be it well, and for the man who strives for fame.
13 Each evil deed made manifest, and that which is concealed, O Gods,
The whole thereof remove from us to Trita Āptya far away.
14 Daughter of Heaven, the dream that bodes evil to us or to our kine,
Remove, O Lady of the Light, to Trita Āptya far away.
15 Even if, O Child of Heaven, it make a garland or a chain of gold,
The whole bad dream, whate’er it be, to Trita Āptya we consign.
16 To him whose food and work is this, who comes to take his share therein,
To Trita, and to Dvita, Dawn! bear thou the evil dream away.
17 As we collect the utmost debt, even the eighth and sixteenth part,
So unto Āptya we transfer together all the evil dream.
18 Now have we conquered and obtained, and from our trespasses are free.
Shine thou away the evil dream, O Dawn, whereof we are afraid. Yours are incomparable aids, and good the succour they afford.

Rigveda 8.93

Doesn’t exist.

Rigveda 10.127

1. WITH all her eyes the Goddess Night looks forth approaching many a spot:
She hath put all her glories on.
2 Immortal. she hath filled the waste, the Goddess hath filled height and depth:
She conquers darkness with her light.
3 The Goddess as she comes hath set the Dawn her Sister in her place:
And then the darkness vanishes.
4 So favour us this night, O thou whose pathways we have visited
As birds their nest upon the tree.
5 The villagers have sought their homes, and all that walks and all that flies,
Even the falcons fain for prey.
6 Keep off the she-wolf and the wolf, O Urmya, keep the thief away;
Easy be thou for us to pass.
7 Clearly hath she come nigh to me who decks the dark with richest hues:
O Morning, cancel it like debts.
8 These have I brought to thee like kine. O Night, thou Child of Heaven, accept
This laud as for a conqueror.

-- The Rig Veda, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith

0 references to "Durga" --

2 references to "Durgaha":

7 All beings know these deeds of thine thou tellest this unto Varuṇa, thou great Disposer!
Thou art renowned as having slain the Vṛtras. Thou madest flow the floods that were obstructed.
8 Our fathers then were these, the Seven his, what time the son of Durgaha was captive.
For her they gained by sacrifice Trasadasyu, a demi-god, like Indra, conquering foemen.

11 Beside a thousand spotted kine I have received a gift of gold,
Pure, brilliant, and exceeding great.
12 Durgaha's grandsons, giving me a thousand kine, munificent,
Have won renown among the Gods.

-- The Rig Veda, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith

and in sections 10.1 and 12.4 of the Atharvaveda[28][29][F]

Atharvaveda 10.1

A charm against witchcraft
1 Afar let her depart: away we drive her whom, made with hands, all-beautiful,
Skilled men prepare and fashion like a bride amid her nuptial train.
2 Complete, with head and nose and ears, all-beauteous, wrought with magic skill
Afar let her depart: away we drive her.
3 Made by a Sidra or a Prince, by priests or women let her go.
Back to her maker as her kin, like a dame banished by her lord.
4 I with this salutary herb have ruined all their magic arts,
The spell which they have cast upon thy field, thy cattle, or thy men.
All fall on him who doeth ill, on him who curseth fall the curse!
We drive her back that she may slay the man who wrought the witchery.
6 Against her comes the Angirasa, the Priest whose eye is over us.
Turn back all witcheries and slay those practisers of magic arts.
7 Whoever said to thee, Go forth against the foeman up the stream,
To him, O Krityā, go thou back. Pursue not us, the sinless ones.
8 He who composed thy limbs with thought as a deft joiner builds a car,
Go to him: thither lies thy way. This man is all unknown to thee.
9 The cunning men, the sorcerers who fashioned thee and held thee fast,--
This cures and mars their witchery, this, repellent, drives it back the way it came.
With this we make thee swim.
10 When we have found her ducked and drenched, a hapless cow whose calf hath died,
Let all my woe depart and let abundant riches come to me.
11 If, as they gave thy parents aught, they named thee, or at sacrifice,
From all their purposed evil let these healing herbs deliver thee.
12 From mention of thy name, from sin against the Fathers or the Gods,
These herbs of healing shall by prayer release thee, by power, by holy texts, the milk of Rishis.
13 As the wind stirs the dust from earth and drives the rain cloud from the sky,
So, chased and banished by the spell, all misery departs from me.
14 Go with a resonant cry, depart, like a she-ass whose cords are loosed.
Go to thy makers: hence! away! Go driven by the potent spell.
15 This, Krityā, is thy path, we say, and guide thee. We drive thee back who hast been sent against us.
Go by this pathway, breaking loose for onslaught even as a host complete with cars and horses.
16 No path leads hitherward for thee to travel. Turn thee from us: far off, thy light is yonder.
Fly hence across the ninety floods, the rivers most hard to pass. Begone, and be not wounded.
17 As wind the trees, so smite and overthrow them: leave not cow, horse, or man of them surviving
Return, O Krityā, unto those who made thee. Wake them from sleep to find that they are childless.
18 The charm or secret power which they have buried for thee in sacred grass, field, cemetery,
Or spell in household fire which men more cunning have wrought against thee innocent and simple,—
19 That tool of hatred, understood, made ready, stealthy and buried deep, have we discovered,
Let that go back to whence it came, turn thither like a horse and kill the children of the sorcerer.
20 Within our house are swords of goodly iron. Krityā, we know thy joints and all their places.
Arise this instant and begone! What, stranger! art thou seeking here?
21 O Krityā, I will cut thy throat and hew thy feet off. Run, begone!
Indra and Agni, Guardian Lords of living creatures, shield us well!
22 May Soma, gracious friend, imperial Sovran, and the world's Masters look on us with favour.
23 Bhava and Sarva cast the flash of lightning, the weapon of the Gods, against the sinner who made the evil thing, who deals in witchcraft!
24 If thou hast come two-footed or four-footed, made by the sorcerer, wrought in perfect beauty,
Become eight-footed and go hence. Speed back again, thou evil one.
25 Anointed, balmed, and well adorned, bearing all trouble with thee, go.
Even as a daughter knows her sire, so know thy marker, Krityā, thou.
26 Krityā, begone, stay not. Pursue as 'twere the wounded creature's track.
He is the chase, the hunter thou he may not slight or humble thee.
27 He waits, and aiming with his shaft smites him who first would shoot at him,
And, when the foeman deals a blow before him, following strikes him down.
28 Hearken to this my word; then go thither away whence thou hast come; to him who made thee go thou back.
29 The slaughter of an innocent, O Krityā, is an awful deed. Slay not cow, horse, or man of ours.
In whatsoever place thou art concealed we rouse thee up therefrom: become thou lighter than a leaf.
30 If ye be girt about with clouds of darkness, bound as with a net.
We rend and tear all witcheries hence and to their maker send them back.
31 The brood of wizard, sorcerer, the purposer of evil deed.
Crush thou, O Krityā spare not, kill those practisers of magic arts.
32 As Sūrya frees himself from depth of darkness, and casts away the night and rays of morning,
So I repel each baleful charm which an enchanter hath prepared;
And, as an elephant shakes off the dust, I cast the plague aside.

Atharvaveda 12.4

On the duty of giving cows to Brāhmans, and the sin and danger of withholding the gift
1 Give the gift, shall be his word: and straightway they have bound the Cow
For Brāhman priests who beg the boon. That bringeth sons and progeny.
2 He trades and traffics with his sons, and in his cattle suffers loss.
Who will not give the Cow of Gods to Rishis children when they beg.
3 They perish through a hornless cow, a lame cow sinks them in a pit.
Through a maimed cow his house is burnt: a one-eyed cow destroys his wealth.
4 Fierce fever where her droppings fall attacks the master of the kine.
So have they named her Vasa, for thou art called uncontrollable.
5 The malady Viklindu springs on him from ground whereon she stands,
And suddenly, from fell disease, perish the men on whom she sniffs.
6 Whoever twitches up her ears is separated from the Gods.
He deems he makes a mark, but he diminishes his wealth thereby.
7 If to his own advantage one applies the long hair of her tail,
His colts, in consequence thereof die, and the wolf destroys his calves.
8 If, while her master owneth her, a carrion crow hath harmed her hair,
His young boys die thereof, Decline o'ertakes them after fell disease.
9 What time the Dāsi woman throws lye on the droppings of theCow,
Misshapen birth arises thence, inseparable from that sin.
10 For Gods and Brāhmans is the Cow produced when first she springs to life,
Hence to the priests must she be given: this they call guarding private wealth.
11 The God-created Cow belongs to those who come to ask for her.
They call it outrage on the priests when one retains her as his own.
12 He who withholds the Cow of Gods from Rishis' sons who ask the gift
Is made an alien to the Gods, and subject to the Brāhmans' wrath:
13 Then let him seek another Cow, whate'er his profit be in this.
The Cow, not given, harms a man when he denies her at their prayer.
14 Like a rich treasure stored away in safety is the Brāhmans' Cow.
Therefore men come to visit her, with whomsoever she is born.
15 So when the Brāhmans come unto the Cow they come unto their own.
For this is her withholding, to oppress these in another life.
16 Thus after three years may she go, speaking what is not understood.
He, Nārads! would know the Cow, then Brāhmans must be sought unto.
17 Whoso calls her a worthless Cow, the stored-up treasure of the Gods,
Bhava and Sarva, both of them, move round and shoot a shaft at him.
18 The man who hath no knowledge of her udder and the teats thereof,
She yields him milk with these, if he hath purposed to bestow the Cow.
19 If he withholds the Cow they beg, she lies rebellious in his stall.
Vain are the wishes and the hopes which he, withholding her, would gain.
20 The Deities have begged the Cow, using the Brāhman as their mouth:
The man who gives her not incurs the enmity of all the Gods.
21 Withholding her from Brāhmans, he incurs the anger of the beasts,
When mortal man appropriates the destined portion of the Gods.
22 If hundred other Brāhmans beg the Cow of him who owneth her,
The Gods have said, She, verily, belongs to him who knows the truth.
23 Whoso to others, not to him who hath this knowledge, gives the Cow,
Earth, with the Deities, is hard for him to win and rest upon.
24 The Deities begged the Cow from him with whom at first she was produced:
Her, this one, Nārada would know: with Deities he drove her forth.
25 The Cow deprives of progeny and makes him poor in cattle who
Retains in his possession her whom Brāhmans have solicited.
26 For Agni and for Soma, for Kāma, Mitra and Varuna,
For these the Brāhmans ask: from these is he who giveth not estranged.
27 Long as her owner hath not heard, himself, the verses, let her move
Among his kine: when he hath heard, let her not make her home with him;
28 He who hath heard her verses and still makes her roam among his kine.
The Gods in anger rend away his life and his prosperity
29 Roaming in many a place the Cow is the stored treasure of the Gods,
Make manifest thy shape and form when she would seek her dwelling-place.
30 Her shape and form she manifests when she would seek her dwelling-place;
Then verily the Cow attends to Brāhman priests and their request.
31 This thought he settles in his mind. This safely goeth to the Gods.
Then verily the Brāhman priests approach that they may beg the Cow
32 By Svadhā to the Fathers, by sacrifice to the Deities,
By giving them the Cow, the Prince doth not incur the mother's wrath.
33 The Prince's mother is the Cow: so was it ordered from of old.
She, when bestowed upon the priests, cannot be given back, they say.
34 As molten butter, held at length, drops down to Agni from the scoop,
So falls away from Agni he who gives no Cow to Brāhman priests.
35 Good milker, with rice-cake as calf, she in the world comes nigh to him,
To him who gave her as a gift the Cow grants every hope and wish.
36 In Yama's realm the Cow fulfils each wish for him who gave her up;
But hell, they say, is for the man who, when they beg, bestow her not.
37 Enraged against her owner roams the Cow when she hath been impregned.
He deemed me fruitless is her thought; let him be bound in, snares of Death!
38 Whoever looking on the Cow as fruitless, cooks her flesh at home,
Brihaspati compels his sons and children of his sons to beg.
39 Downward she sends a mighty heat, though amid kine a Cow she roams.
Poison she yields for him who owns and hath not given her away.
40 The animal is happy when it is bestowed upon the priests:
But happy is the Cow when she is made a sacrifice to Gods.
41 Nārada chose the terrible Vilipti out of all the cows Which the
Gods formed and framed when they had risen up from sacrifice
42 The Gods considered her in doubt whether she were a Cow or not.
Mirada spake of her and said, The veriest Cow of cows is she.
43 How many cows, O Nārada, knowest thou, born among mankind
I ask thee who dost know, of which must none who is no Brāhman eat?
44 Vilipti, cow, and she who drops no second calf, Brihaspati!
Of these none not a Brāhmana should eat if he hope for eminence.
45 Homage, O Nārada, to thee who hast quick knowledge of the cows.
Which of these is the direst, whose withholding bringeth death to man?
46 Vilipti, O Brihaspati, cow, mother of no second calf—Of these
none not a Brāhman should eat if he hope for eminence.
47 Threefold are kine, Vilipti, cow, the mother of no second calf:
These one should give to priests, and he will not offend Prajāpati.
48 This Brāhmans! is your sacrifice: thus should one think when he is asked,
What time they beg from him the Cow fearful in the withholder's house.
49 He gave her not to us, so spake the Gods, in anger, of the Cow.
With these same verses they addressed Bheda: this brought him to his death.
50 Solicited by Indra, still Bheda refused to give this Cow.
In strife for victory the Gods destroyed him for that sin of his.
51 The men of evil counsel who advise refusal of the Cow,
Miscreants, through their foolishness, are subjected to Indra's wrath.
52 They who seduce the owner of the Cow and say, Bestow her not.
Encounter through their want of sense the missile shot by Rudra's hand.
53 If in his home one cooks the Cow, sacrificed or not sacrificed.
Wronger of Gods and Brāhmans' he departs, dishonest, from the world.

-- The Hymns of the Atharvaveda, translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith (1895-6)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 2 of 3

A deity named Durgi appears in section 10.1.7 of the Taittiriya Aranyaka.[28] While the Vedic literature uses the word Durga, the description therein lacks legendary details about her or about Durga puja that is found in later Hindu literature.[31]A key text associated with Durga puja is Devi Mahatmya, which is recited during the festival...

The Devi Mahatmya or Devi Mahatmyam (Sanskrit: devīmāhātmyam, देवीमाहात्म्यम्), or "Glory of the Goddess") is a Hindu religious text describing the Goddess as the supreme power and creator of the universe. It is part of the Markandeya Purana...

It is difficult to ascertain when, where, why and by whom these were written...

The oldest surviving manuscript of the Devi Māhātmya (part of Markandeya Purana), on palm-leaf, in an early Bhujimol script, Bihar or Nepal, 11th century...

The three early printed editions of this text vary from one another. The Calcutta edition ends abruptly in chapter 136, leaving the narrative of Dama halfway. The Bombay and Poona editions have complete narrative of Dama, which ends in chapter 137.

The text has been translated into English by many, including those by C.C. Mukherjee (1893) and F. E. Pargiter. However, states Coburn, Pargiter's focus was reconstruction of India's political history, not other contents of the Purana. Pargiter's work and conclusions have been widely disputed, after he published his translation in 1904.

A good translation of the Devi Mahatmya text within the Markandeya Purana, states Gregory Bailey, was published in 1991 by Thomas Coburn.

-- Markandeya Purana, by Wikipedia

The Devi Mahatmyam describes a storied battle between good and evil, where the Devi manifesting as goddess Durga leads the forces of good against the demon Mahishasura—the goddess is very angry and ruthless, and the forces of good win. In peaceful prosperous times, states the text, the Devi manifests as Lakshmi, empowering creation and happiness. The verses of this story also outline a philosophical foundation wherein the ultimate reality (Brahman in Hinduism) is female. The text is one of the earliest extant complete manuscripts from the Hindu traditions which describes reverence and worship of the feminine aspect of God.

-- Devi Mahatmya, by Wikipedia

Durga was likely well established by the time this Hindu text was composed, which scholars variously estimate Durgato date between 400 and 600 CE.[32][33][34] The Devi Mahatmya scripture describes the nature of evil forces symbolised by Mahishasura as shape-shifting, deceptive, and adapting in nature, in form and in strategy to create difficulties and thus achieve their evil ends. Durga calmly understands and counters the evil in order to achieve her solemn goals.[13][14][G]Durga, in her various forms, appears as an independent deity in the Indian texts.[35] Both Yudhisthira and Arjuna characters of the Mahabharata invoke hymns to Durga.[36] She appears in Harivamsa in the form of Vishnu's eulogy, and in Pradyumna's prayer. The prominent mention of Durga in such epics may have led to her worship.[37][4][38]

A display of sculpture-idols depicting Rama and Narada praying to Durga

The Indian texts with mentions of Durga puja are inconsistent. A legend found in some versions of the Puranas mention it to be a spring festival, while the Devi-Bhagavata Purana and two other Shakta Puranas mention it to be an autumn festival. The Ramayana manuscripts are also inconsistent. Versions of Ramayana found in north, west, and south of the Indian subcontinent describe Rama to be remembering Surya (the Hindu sun god) before his battle against Ravana, but the Bengali manuscripts of Ramayana, such as the 15th-century manuscript by Krttivasa, mention Rama to be worshipping Durga.[39] According to some scholars, the worship of the fierce warrior goddess Durga, and her darker and more violent manifestation Kali, became popular in the Bengal region during and after the medieval era, marked by Muslim invasions and conquests.[40]

The significance of Durga and other goddesses in Hindu culture is stated to have increased after Islamicate armies conquered regions of the Indian subcontinent.

According to yet other scholars, the marginalisation of Bengali Hindus during the medieval era led to a reassertion of Hindu identity and an emphasis on Durga puja as a social festival, publicly celebrating the warrior goddess.[42]From the medieval era up to present-day, Durga puja has been celebrated as a socio-cultural event, while maintaining the roots of religious worship.[43]

Rituals and practices

Structure of a Durga sculpture-idol being made at Kumortuli;

Lady carrying offerings for the puja;

Sandhi puja on the day of Ashtami;

Immersion of the sculpture-idol on Vijaya Dashami.

Durga puja is a ten-day event, of which the last five days involve certain rituals and practices. The festival begins with Mahalaya, a day on which Hindus perform tarpaṇa by offering water and food to their dead ancestors. The day also marks the advent of Durga from her mythological marital home in Kailash.[3][5] The next significant day of the festival is the sixth day (Sashthi), on which devotees welcomes the goddess and festive celebrations are inaugurated. On the seventh day (Saptami), eighth (Ashtami) and ninth (Navami) days, the goddess along with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya are revered and these days mark the main days of worship with recitation of scriptures, puja, legends of Durga in Devi Mahatmya, social visits to elaborately decorated and illuminated pandals (temporary structures meant for hosting the puja), among others.[44][45][46]

Durga Puja as a harvest festival

Om you are rice [wheat...],Om you are life, you are the life of the gods, you are our life, your are our internal life, you are long life, you give life, Om the Sun with his rays (....)

— Hymn to start the Durga Puja, Translator: David Kinsley[16]

Durga puja is, in part, a post-monsoon harvest festival observed on the same days in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism as those in its other traditions.[47][48] The practice of including a bundle of nine different plants, called navapatrika, as a symbolism of Durga, is a testament practice to its agricultural importance.[16] The typically selected plants include not only representative important crops, but also non-crops. This probably signifies the Hindu belief that the goddess is "not merely the power inherent in the growth of crops but the power inherent in all vegetation".[16]The festival is a social and public event in eastern and northeastern states of India, where it dominates religious and socio-cultural life, with temporary pandals built at community squares, roadside shrines, and temples. The festival is also observed by some Shakta Hindus as a private home-based festival.[49]The festival is started at twilight with prayers to Saraswati.[50] She is believed to be another aspect of goddess Durga, and who is the external and internal activity of all existence, in everything and everywhere. This is typically also the day on which the eyes of the deities on the representative clay sculpture-idols are painted, bringing them to a lifelike appearance.[50][51] The day also marks prayers to Ganesha and visit to pandals temples.[52]Day two to five mark the remembrance of the goddess and her manifestations, such as Kumari (goddess of fertility), Mai (mother), Ajima (grandmother), Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and in some regions as the Saptamatrikas (seven mothers) or Navadurga (nine aspects of Durga).[53][9][54] On the sixth day major festivities and social celebrations start. [3][5] The first nine days overlap with Navaratri festivities in other traditions of Hinduism.[55][20]The puja rituals involve mantras (words manifesting spiritual transformation), shlokas (holy verses), chants and arati, and offerings. These also include Vedic chants and recitations of the Devi Mahatmya text in Sanskrit.[46] The shlokas and mantras praise the divinity of the goddess; according to the shlokas Durga is omnipresent as the embodiment of power, nourishment, memory, forbearance, faith, forgiveness, intellect, wealth, emotions, desires, beauty, satisfaction, righteousness, fulfillment and peace.[56][H] The specific practices vary by region.[60]

The rituals before the puja begins include the following:[61]

• Bodhana: Involves rites to awaken and welcome the goddess to be a guest, typically done on the sixth day of the festival.[62]
• Adhivasa: Anointing ritual wherein symbolic offerings are made to Durga, with each item representing a remembrance of subtle forms of her. Typically completed on the sixth day as well.[63]
• Navapatrika snan: Bathing of the navapatrika with holy water done on the seventh day of the festival.[64]
Sandhi puja and Ashtami pushpanjali: The eighth day begins with elaborate pushpanjali rituals. The cusp of the ending of the eighth day and beginning of the ninth day is considered to be the moment when per scriptures Durga engaged in a fierce battle against Mahishasura and was attacked by the demons Chanda and Munda. Goddess Chamunda emerged from the third eye of Durga and killed Chanda and Munda at the cusp of Ashtami and Navami, the eighth and ninth days respectively. This moment is marked by the sandhi puja, involving the offering of 108 lotuses and lighting if 108 lamps. It is a forty-eight minutes long ritual commemorating the climax of battle. The rituals are performed in the last 24 minutes of Ashtami and the first 24 minutes of Navami. In some regions, devotees sacrifice an animal such as a buffalo or goat, but in many regions, there isn't an actual animal sacrifice and a symbolic sacrifice substitutes it. The surrogate effigy is smeared in red vermilion to symbolize the blood spilled.[65] The goddess is then offered food (bhog). Some places also engage in devotional service.[66]
• Homa and bhog: The ninth day of festival is marked with the homa (fire oblation) rituals and bhog. Some places also perform kumari puja on this day.[67]
• Sindoor khela and immersion: The tenth and last day, called Vijaya dashami is marked by sindoor khela, where women smear sindoor or vermillion on the sculpture-idols and also smear each other with it. This ritual signifies the wishing of a blissful marital life for married women. Historically the ritual has been restricted to married women. The tenth day is the day when Durga emerged victorious against Mahishasura and it ends with a procession where the clay sculpture-idols are ceremoniously taken to a river or coast for immersion rites.[68][69] Following the immersion, Durga is believed to return to her mythological marital home of Kailasha to Shiva and the cosmos in general. People distribute sweets and gifts, visit their friends and family members on the tenth day.[70] Some communities such as those near Varanasi mark the day after Vijaya dashami, called Ekadashi, by visiting a Durga temple.[71]
• Dhunuchi naach and dhuno pora: Dhunuchi naach involves a dance ritual performed with dhunuchi (incense burner). Drummers called dhakis, carrying large leather-strung dhaks create music, to which people dance either during or not during aarati. Some places, especially home pujas, also observe dhuno pora, a ritual involving married women carrying dhunuchis burning with incense and dried coconuts, on a cloth on their head and hands,

Dhaks, played during the pujo;

Dhunuchi naach on Navami;

Women taking part in sindoor khela on Vijaya Dashami.

Decorations, sculptures, and stages

A craftsperson sculpting the face of the sculpture-idol;

Durga puja pandal decorations in Kolkata;

Interior decorations of a pandal;

Street lights installed during the festivities.

The process of the creation of clay sculpture-idols (pratima or murti) for the puja, from the collection of clay to the ornamentation is a ceremonial process. Though the festival is observed post-monsoon harvest, the artisans begin making the sculpture-idols months before, during summer. The process begins with prayers to Ganesha and to the perceived divinity in materials such as bamboo frames in which the sculpture-idols are cast.[72]

Clay statue is being made

Clay, or alluvial soil, collected from different region form the base. This choice is a tradition wherein Durga, perceived as the creative energy and material, is believed to be present everywhere and everything in the universe.[72] In certain traditions in Kolkata, a custom is to include soil samples in the clay mixture for Durga from areas believed to be nishiddho pallis (forbidden territories; territories inhabited by the "social outcasts" such as brothels).[73]

The clay base is combined with straw, kneaded, and then molded into a cast made from hay and bamboo. This is layered to a fine final shape, cleaned, painted, and polished. A layer of a fiber called jute, mixed in with clay, is also attached to the top to prevent the statue from cracking in the months ahead. The heads of the statues are more complex, and are usually made separately.[72] The limbs of the statues are mostly shaped from bundles of straws.[72] Then, starting about August, the local artisans hand-paint the sculpture-idols which are later dressed in clothing, are decorated and bejewelled, and displayed at the puja altars.[72][74]

A man building statue in Rangpur, Bangladesh

The procedure for and proportions of the sculpture-idols are described in arts-related Sanskrit texts of Hinduism, such as the Vishvakarma Sashtra.[75]

Environmental impact

A Durga sculpture-idol in the river, post-immersion.

The sculpture-idols for the puja are traditionally made of biodegradable materials such as straw, clay, soil, and wood.[76] In today's times, brighter colored statues have increased in popularity and have diversified the use of non-biodegradable, cheaper or more colorful substitute synthetic raw materials. Environmental activists have raised concerns about the paint used to produce the statue, stating that the heavy metals in these paints pollute rivers when the statues are immersed at the end of the Durga festival.[76]

Brighter colors that are also biodegradable and eco-friendly, as well as the traditional natural colors, are typically more expensive compared to the non biodegradable paints.[77] The Indian state of West Bengal has banned the use of hazardous paints, and various state government have started distributing lead-free paints to artisans at no cost to prevent pollution.[78]

Animal sacrifice, symbolic sacrifice

Further information: Shaktism and Animal sacrifice in Hinduism

Sacrifice of a buffalo during Durga puja, in Assam.

Shakta Hindu communities mark the slaying of Mahishasura and the victory of Durga with a symbolic or actual sacrifice. Most communities prefer symbolic sacrifice, where a statue of the asura is made of flour or equivalent, is immolated and smeared with vermilion, symbolic of the blood that had spilled during the battle.[65][79] Other substitutes include a vegetable or a sweet dish considered equivalent to the animal.[80] In certain instances, devotees consider animal sacrifice distasteful, and practice alternate means of expressing devotion while respecting the views of others in their tradition.[81]

In communities performing actual sacrifice, an animal is sacrificed, mainly at temples.[82] In Nepal, West Bengal, Odisha and Assam, animal sacrifices are performed at Shakta temples to commemorate the legend of Durga slaying Mahishasura.[83] This involves slaying of a fowl, goat or a male water-buffalo.
This practice is rare among Hindus outside the regions of Bengal, Odisha and Assam.[84] In these regions, the festival season is primarily when significant animal sacrifices are observed.[84]

The Rajputs of Rajasthan worship their weapons and horses in the related festival of Navaratri, and some historically observed the sacrifice of a goat, a practice that continues in some places.[85][86] The sacrifice ritual, supervised by the priest, requires slaying of the animal with a single stroke. In the past this ritual was considered a rite of passage into manhood and readiness as a warrior.[87] The Kuldevi (clan deity) among these Rajput communities is a warrior goddess, with local legends tracing reverence for her during Rajput-Muslim wars.[88]

Pandals and theme-based pujas


Two theme-based pandals in Kolkata.

Months before the start of Durga Puja, youth members of the community collect funds and donations, engage priests and artisans, buy votive materials and help build pandals centred around a theme, which has rose to prominence in recent years. Such themes have included sex work,[89] celebration of humanity,[90] marginalisation of queer persons and transgender persons,[91] folk culture,[92] celebration of cinema,[93] womanhood,[92] pro-environment themes,[94] while others have chosen metaphorical themes such as celebration of maati (literally, soil or ash) and "finding one's own light".[95] Pandals have also been replicated on existing temples, structures, and monuments[96][97] and yet others have been made of elements such as metal scraps,[98] nails,[99] and turmeric[100] among others. Durga puja pandals have also been centred around themes to acknowledge political events such as the 2019 Balakot airstrike and to protest against the National Register of Citizens of India.[101][102]

Designs and sculpture-idols are made by commissioned artisans, which is also a team effort involving labourers, architects, and community representatives hosting it. The budget required for such theme-based pujas is significantly higher than traditional pujas. For such theme-based pujas, the preparations and the building of pandals are a significant arts-related economic activity, often attracting major sponsors.[103] Such commercialised pujas attract crowds of visitors. The growth of competitiveness in theme-based pandals has escalated costs and scale of Durga puja in eastern states of India. Some segments of the society criticise the billboards, the economic competition, and seek return to basics.[104] The competition takes many forms, such as the height of statue. In 2015, an 88-foot statue of Durga in Kolkata's Deshapriya Park attracted numerous devotees, with some estimates placing visitors at one million.[105][106]

Regional celebrations and observances

Durga puja at Bagbajar, Kolkata, example of a sarvajanin barowari puja.

There exists variation in worship practices and rituals associated with Durga puja, as is the case with other Hindu festivals, in the Indian subcontinent.[107] Hinduism accepts flexibility and leaves the set of practices to the choice of the individuals concerned. Different localised rituals may be observed regionally, with these variations accepted across temples, pandals, and within families.

[108] The festival is most commonly associated with Bengali Hindus, and with the community having variability and differences in practices. There may exist differences of practice between the puja of theme-based Pandals, family pujas (with puja of erstwhile aristocrat families known as bonedi puja), and community pujas (known as barowari pujas ) of neighbourhoods or apartments. [108]

The rituals of the puja also varies from being Vedic, Puranic, or Tantric, or a combination of these.[108] The Bengali Durga puja rituals typically combine all three. The non-Bengali Durga puja rituals tend to be essentially Vedic (srauta) in nature but they too incorporate esoteric elements making the puja an example of a culmination of Vedic-Tantric practices.[109]

Historical evidence suggests that the Durga puja has evolved over time, becoming more elaborate, social, and creative. The festival had earlier been a domestic puja, a form of practice that still remains popular. But it had also come to be celebrated in the sarvajanin (public) form, where communities get together, pool their resources and efforts to set up pandals and illuminations, and celebrate the event as a "mega-show to share".[110] The origins of this variation are unclear, with some sources suggesting a family in Kolkatta reviving such celebration in 1411 CE. While other set of sources suggest that a Bengali landlord, named Kamsanarayan, held a mega-show puja in late 16th-century Bengal.[110] Yet, this festival of Bengal is likely much older with the discovery of 11th and 12th-century Durga puja manual manuscripts such as Durgotsavaviveka, Durgotsava Prayoga, Vasantaviveka and Kalaviveka.[111] The rituals associated with the Durga puja migrated to other regions from Bengal, such as in Varanasi, a city that has historically attracted sponsorship from Hindus from various parts of the Indian subcontinent including Bengal.[112] In contemporary India, Durga puja is celebrated in various styles and forms.[113]

Durga puja festivities by dancers and musicians in Calcutta, circa 1830s-40s;

Patna style painting of Durga puja, circa 1809.

Durga puja is a widely celebrated festival in the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, and Odisha.[114] It is celebrated over a five-day period. Streets are decked up with festive lights, loudspeakers play festive songs as well as recitation of hymns and chants by priests, and pandals are erected by communities. The roads become overcrowded with revellers, devotees, and pandal-hoppers visiting the pandals on puja days. It often creates chaotic traffic conditions. Shops, eateries, and restaurants stay open all night; fairs are also set up and cultural programmes are held.[115] People form organizing committees, which plan and oversee the pandal during the festivities. Today, Durga Puja has turned into a consumerist social carnival, a major public spectacle and a major arts event riding on the wave of commercialisation, corporate sponsorship, and craze for award-winning. For private domestic pujas, families dedicate an area of their homes, known as thakur dalan, for Durga puja where the sculpture-idols for worship is placed and decorated with home-dyed fabric, sola ornamentations, and gold and silver foil decorations. Elaborate rituals like arati are performed and prasad is distributed after being offered to the deities. As a tradition, married daughters visit their parents and celebrate the Durga puja with them, a symbolism alluding to Durga who is popularly believed to return to her natal home during the puja.[116]

Durga puja at the Shobhabazar Rajbari, in Kolkata, example of a bonedi puja.

Shobhabazar Rajbari (Shobhabazar Royal Palace) is the palace of the Shobhabazar royal family located in the Indian city of Kolkata. Maharaja Nabakrishna Deb (1737–97), founder of the Shobhabazar Rajbari (at 35), started life as a modest aristocrat but soon amassed considerable wealth in his service to the British, in particular by his role in assisting to topple Siraj ud-Daulah. During his lifetime Raja Nabakrishna Deb built two houses. The building at 35 Raja Nabakrishna Street (known as Shobhabazar Rajbari or "Baag ola Bari - House with the lions"), on the northern side of the road, was the one first constructed by him, subsequently inherited by his adopted son from his elder brother Gopimohan and his descendants including his son Radhakanta Deb. The house at 33 Raja Nabakrishna Street (known as Choto Rajbari) was built by him when a son was born to him later in life, and was left to his biological son Rajkrishna and his descendants.

Role in Cultural and Social life of Bengal

Raja Nabakrishna Deb celebrated Durga Puja in 1757 on a grand scale after the British defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah at the battle of Plassey. Lord Clive and Warren Hastings were in the list of invitees.
• It was here that the first civic reception of Swami Vivekananda after his return from Chicago Parliament of Religions was organised in 1897 by Raja Binoy Deb Bahadur.

-- Shobhabazar Rajbari, by Wikipedia

Durga Puja is also a gift-giving and shopping season for communities celebrating it, with people buying gifts for not only family members but also for close relatives and friends. New clothes are the traditional gift, and people wear them to go out together during Durga puja. During puja holidays, people may also go to places of tourist attractions while others return home to spend Durga puja with their family. [116] It's a common trend amongst youngsters and even those who are older to go pandal-hopping and enjoy the celebrations.[117]

The organising committees of each puja pandal hires a purohita (priest) who performs the puja rituals on behalf of the community.[118] For the priests, Durga puja is a time of activity wherein he pursues the timely completion of Vedic-Puranic-Tantric ritual sequences to make various offerings and perform fire oblations, in full public view, while the socio-cultural festivities occur in parallel.[119] The complex puja rituals include periods of accurate and melodic scripture recitation. The puja involves crowds of people visiting the pandals, with smaller groups visiting family pujas, to witness the celebrations.[120] On the last day, the sculpture-idols are carried out in immersion processions across Bengal, following which they are ritually immersed into rivers or other waterbodies. The immersion ceremony continues till a couple of days after the last day of puja. [121]

Immersion procession for Durga puja, with the sculpture-idols being carried by people on bamboo poles.

According to some scholars, the ritual of immersing the Durga sculpture-idol into the river attracted the attention of colonial era travelers to the Bengal region from Europe, such as Garcin de Tassy and Emma Roberts. In 1831, Tassy reported that similar rituals were annually observed by the Muslim community in Bengal. Shia Muslims observed Muharram over ten days, taking out processions in memory of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn ibn Ali, and then cast a memorial Imam's cenotaph into a river on the tenth day. Tassy further stated that the Muslim rituals included the same offerings at the annual observation of Muharram that the Hindu rituals included during Durga puja.[122] According to yet other scholars, the ritual of immersion in water by Hindus for Durga puja in Bengal and Ganesh Chaturthi in the western states of India, may have grown because members of the Hindu community attempted to create a competing procession and immersion ritual to that of Muharram, allowed by the colonial British Indian government in the 19th and early 20th-centuries.[123]

Durga puja in New Delhi, 2014.

In Maharashtra, the city of Nashik and other places such as CIDCO, Rajeevnagar, Panchavati, and Mahatmanagar host Durga puja celebrations. While in Delhi, the first community Durga puja was organised near Kashmiri Gate by a group of expatriate Bengalis, in 1910, a year before Delhi was declared the capital of British India. This group came to be the Delhi Durga Puja Samiti, popularly known as the Kashmere Gate Durga puja.[124] The Durga puja at Timarpur, Delhi was started in the year 1914.[125] In 2011, over 800 Durga pujas were held in Delhi, with a few hundred more in Gurgaon and NOIDA.[126]

Sculpture-idols in Cuttack, Odisha for Durga puja, bedecked with jewellery.

In Odisha, Durga puja is the most important festival of the people of the state. Durga puja is a very important festival for Odias, during the 4 days of the festival, the streets of the city turns into a wonderland throughout the state, people welcome the arrival of their maa by rejoicing themselves, eating tasty food, wearing new clothes, seeing different pandals across the city, family gathering and gift givings. In 2019, ninety-seven pandals in Cuttack alone, Odisha were reported to bedeck respective sculpture-idols with silver jewellery for Durga puja celebrations; such club of pandals termed regionally as Chandi Medha. The state capital is famous for the modern themes and creativity In the pandals, while the Western part of the state has a more retro decoration theme to the pandal. In the northern parts of the state particularly Balasore, durga puja is celebrated with much fervor and the odia diaspora abroad especially in Australia, which originates 95% from the district of Balasore celebrates the puja in the same manner which is done back home in Balasore.[127] In September 2019, 160 pandals were reported to be hosting Durga puja in Cuttack.[128][129]

While in Tripura there were over 2,500 community Durga puja celebrations in 2013. Durga puja has been started at the Durgabari temple, in Agartala by King Radha Kishore Manikya Bahadur.[130][131]


Maharaja Nabakrishna Deb (also known as Raja Nabakrishna Deb, archaic spelling Nubkissen) (1733–1797), founder of the Shovabazar Raj family, was a prominent Raja and close confidante/ally of Robert Clive. He was the key figure in the plot against Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula although some believed him to be a traitor of India, who sold his motherland to the British and enabling them to rule India.[1]

Early life

Raja Nabakrishna Deb lost his father, Ramcharan Deb, early in life but his mother took care to ensure that he learnt Urdu and Persian initially and later Arabic and English. Deb was appointed Persian teacher of Warren Hastings in 1750. At one point of time he was munshi (clerk-cum-interpreter) of Governor Drake, advised the British on foreign relations and was a great supporter for the establishment of British power in India. He started his life as a Munshi for Lakshmikanta Dhar or Noku Dhar, the famous banker and businessman of Kolkata, from where he was recommended to Robert Clive when the latter was looking for an able clerk-cum-interpreter. He had carried out confidential work for the British East India Company, prior to and during the Battle of Palashi. After the death of Siraj ud-Daulah, Deb along with Mir Jafar, Amir Beg and Ramchand Roy earned eight crore rupees (approximately 600 million US dollars in present-day value) worth of treasures from the secret treasury.[2]

Durga Puja

He is also famous for the Durga Puja he organised in his newly constructed grand Shobhabazar Rajbari (King's Palace) in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1757, as a patron of numerous performing artistes, and his philanthropy.[2] The puja in the magnificent palace continues even today.

After his victory in the Battle of Palashi [Plassey], in 1757, which laid the foundation for British rule in India, Lord Clive wanted a grand thanksgiving ceremony but the only church in Kolkata had been razed to the ground by Siraj ud-Daulah, during his attack a year earlier. When Deb came to know of Clive's desire, he advised, "Offer your thanks at the goddesses' feet at my Durga Puja." "But I am a Christian," protested Clive.

"That can be managed," smiled the wily Deb.

Lord Clive drove in his carriage all the way from his residence in what was then known as New Town (part of the city where the British people used to live) of Kolkata to Shovabazar in the Old Town (where the natives used to live), for the Durga Puja.
Thereafter, it came to be known as the "Company Puja".[3]

Raja Nabakrisna Deb set a pattern for the puja which became a fashion and a status symbol among the upcoming merchant class of Kolkata. The number of Englishmen attending the family Durga Puja became an index of prestige. Religious scruples fell by the wayside. The Englishmen attending the dance-parties, dined on beef and ham from Wilson's Hotel, and drank to their heart's contentment.[3]

While barowari (community) pujas subsequently took over in a big way, the Durga Pujas of the old zemindar and Royal families in and around Kolkata still attract crowds. Shovabazar Rajbari organised the 250th Durga Puja in 2006.[4]

-- Maharaja Nabakrishna Deb, by Wikipedia

Beyond being an art festival and a socio-religious event, Durga puja has also been a political event with regional and national political parties having sponsored Durga puja celebrations. In 2019, West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee announced a grant of ₹25,000 to all community organised Durga pujas in the state.[132]

In 2019, Kolkata's Durga puja was nominated by the Indian government for the 2020 UNESCO Representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.[133][134] Durga puja also stands to be politically and economically significant. The committees organising Durga puja in Kolkata have close links to politicians.[90] Politicians patronise the festival by making donations or helping raise money for funding of community pujas, or by marking their presence at puja events and inaugurations.[90] The grant of ₹25,000 to puja organising committees in West Bengal by a debt-ridden state government was reported to cost a budget a ₹70 crores.[135] The state government also announced an additional grant of ₹5,000 to puja organising committees fully managed by women alone, while also announcing a twenty-five per-cent concession on total electricity bills for puja pandal.[135] The government had made a grant of ₹10,000 each to more than 20,000 puja organising committees in the state, in 2018.[135]

A 2013 report by ASSOCHAM states West Bengal's Durga puja to be a ₹25,000 crores worth economy, expected to grow at the compound annual growth rate of about 35 per-cent.[136] Economic slowdowns in India, such as in 2019, have hence affected corporate sponsorships and puja budgets for public celebrations.[137] In August 2019, the Income Tax Department of India had allegedly sent notices to various Durga puja organising committees in West Bengal, against which the ruling party of the state, All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC) protested.[138][139] The Central Board of Direct Taxes denied sending any such notices,[140] to which AITMC politician Madan Mitra is reported to have said that the intention may have been to enquire if tax deducted at source had been deducted on payments to vendors for organising community pujas.[90]
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Part 3 of 3

Media attention

Durga puja has been a theme in various artistic works such as movies, paintings, and literature. Shown here is Pratima Visarjan by Gaganendranath Tagore, depicting a Durga puja immersion procession. This painting inspired the colour scheme of the Indian film, Kahaani.

The day of Mahalaya is marked by the Bengali community with Mahishasuramardini — a two-hours long All India Radio programme — that has been popular in the Bengali community since the 1950s. While in earlier days it used to be recorded live, a pre-recorded version has come to be broadcast in recent decades. Bengalis traditionally wake up at four in the morning on Mahalaya to listen to the radio show, primarily involving recitations of chants and hymns from Devi Mahatmyam (or Chandi Path) by Birendra Krishna Bhadra and Pankaj Kumar Mullick. The show also features various devotional melodies.[141]

Dramas enacting the legend of Durga slaying Mahishasura are telecasted on the television. Radio and television channels also air other festive shows, while Bengali and Odia magazines publish special editions for the puja known as Pujabarshiki (Annual Puja Edition) or Sharadiya Sankhya (Autumnal Volume). These contain works of writers, both established and upcoming, and are more voluminous than the regular issues. Some notable examples of such magazines in Bengali are Anandamela, Shuktara, Desh, Sananda, Nabakallol, and Bartaman.[142]

Celebrations outside India

Durga puja in Germany, in 2009;

Durga puja in the Netherlands, in 2017.

Durga puja is celebrated commonly by Bangladesh's Hindu community. Some Bengali Muslims also take part in the festivities.[143] In Dhaka, the Dhakeshwari Temple puja attracts visitors and devotees.[144] In Nepal, the festivities are celebrated as Dashain.[2][8]

Beyond south Asia, Durga puja is organised by Bengali communities in the United States of America.[145] Durga puja celebrations have also been started in Hong Kong by the Bengali diaspora.[146]

Celebrations are also organised in Europe. The sculpture-idols are shipped from India and stored in warehouses to be re-used over the years.[147] According to BBC News, for community celebrations in London in 2006, these "idols, belonging to a tableau measuring 18ft by 20ft, were made from clay, straw and vegetable dyes". At the end of the puja, the sculpture-idols were immersed in River Thames for the first time in 2006, after "the community was allowed to give a traditional send-off to the deities by London's port authorities".[147] In Germany, the puja is celebrated in Cologne,[148] and other cities. In Switzerland,[149] puja in Baden, Aargan has been celebrated since 2003. In Sweden, the puja is celebrated in cities such as Stockholm and Helsingborg.[150] In the Netherlands, the puja is celebrated in places such as Amstelveen, Eindhoven, and Voorschoten. In Japan Durga Puja is celebrated in Tokyo with much fanfare.[151][152]


1. In the Shakta tradition of Hinduism, many of the stories about obstacles and battles have been considered as metaphors for the divine and demonic within each human being, with liberation being the state of self-understanding whereby a virtuous nature & society emerging victorious over the vicious.[15]
2. Navratri Puja,
3. Kullu Dussehra,
4. Mysore Dussehra,
5. "Bommai-kolu",
6. Example Sanskrit original: "अहन्निन्द्रो अदहदग्निरिन्दो पुरा दस्यून्मध्यंदिनादभीके । दुर्गे दुरोणे क्रत्वा न यातां पुरू सहस्रा शर्वा नि बर्हीत्॥३॥ – Rigveda 4.28.8, Wikisource It appears in Khila (appendix, supplementary) text to Rigveda 10.127, 4th Adhyaya, per J. Scheftelowitz.[30]
7. In the Shakta tradition of Hinduism, many of the stories about obstacles and battles have been considered as metaphors for the divine and demonic within each human being, with liberation being the state of self-understanding whereby a virtuous nature and society emerging victorious over the vicious.[15]
8. Various versions of Devi mantra exist.[57] Examples include: [a] "We know the Great Goddess. We make a meditation of the goddess Durga. May that Goddess guide us on the right path. (Durga Gayatri Mantra, recited at many stages of Durga puja);[58][b] Hrim! O blessed goddess Durga, come here, stay here, stay here, take up residence here, accept my worship. (Durga Avahana Mantra);[59] etc.


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4. Kinsley 1988, pp. 106-108.
5. Encyclopedia Britannica 2015.
6. Doniger 1999, p. 306.
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10. McDermott 2001, pp. 172-174.
11. Foulston & Abbott 2009, pp. 162-169.
12. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 7-8.
13. Daniélou 1991, p. 288.
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49. McLean 1998, p. 137.
50. Amazzone 2012, pp. 57-59, 63, 66.
51. Charles Russell Coulter & Patricia Turner 2013, pp. 148, 158-159, 256-257, 301.
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55. Ellwood & Alles 2007, p. 126.
56. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 50, 150-151.
57. Brown 1990, pp. 143-147.
58. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 153-155, 63, 90, 177 etc.
59. Rodrigues 2003, p. 113.
60. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 17-24, 31-39.
61. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 71-74.
62. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 38-44, 84-87.
63. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 44-45, 120-127.
64. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 46-54, 132-136.
65. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 277-278.
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67. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 62-63, 224-229.
68. Rodrigues 2003, pp. 244-245.
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81. Katznelson & Jones 2010, p. 343.
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84. Fuller 2004, pp. 46, 83–85.
85. Harlan 2003, p. 22.
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• Kinsley, David (1989). The Goddesses' Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-88706-835-5.
• Kinsley, David (1988). Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-90883-3.
• Kinsley, David (1997). Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-91772-9.
• Lochtefeld, James G (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
• McDaniel, June (2004). Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-534713-5.
• Khanna, Vikas (2015). Indian Harvest: Classic and Contemporary Vegetarian Dishes. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1-63286-200-6.
• London, Ellen (2004). Bangladesh. Gareth Stevens. ISBN 978-0-8368-3107-8.
• McDermott, Rachel Fell (2001). Mother of My Heart, Daughter of My Dreams: Kali and Uma in the Devotional Poetry of Bengal. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-803071-3.
• McDermott, Rachel Fell (2011). Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing for the Goddesses of Bengal: The Fortunes of Hindu Festivals. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-12919-0.
• McLean, Malcolm (1998). Devoted to the Goddess: The Life and Work of Ramprasad. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-3689-9.
• Melton, J. Gordon (2011). Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-59884-206-7.
• Monaghan, Patricia (2009). Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-34990-4.
• Monaghan, Patricia (2011). Goddesses in World Culture. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-35465-6.
• Sree Padma (2014). Inventing and Reinventing the Goddess: Contemporary Iterations of Hindu Deities on the Move. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-9002-9.
• Phillips, Charles; Kerrigan, Michael; Gould, David (2011). Ancient India's Myths and Beliefs. The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-4488-5990-0.
• Rao, Saligrama Krishna Ramachandra (1988). Pratima Kosha: Descriptive Glossary of Indian Iconography. IBH Prakashana.
• Rocher, Ludo (1986). The Puranas. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3447025225.
• Sen Ramprasad (1720–1781). Grace and Mercy in Her Wild Hair: Selected Poems to the Mother Goddess. Hohm Press. ISBN 0-934252-94-7.
• Rodrigues, Hillary (2003). Ritual Worship of the Great Goddess: The Liturgy of the Puja with Interpretations. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-8844-7.
• Tripathi, Salil (2016). The Colonel Who Would Not Repent: The Bangladesh War and Its Unquiet Legacy. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-21818-3.
• " - Hindu mythology". Encyclopedia Britannica. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
• Isaeva, N. V. (1993), Shankara and Indian Philosophy, SUNY Press, ISBN 978-0791412817
• Pintchman, Tracy (2014), Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great Goddess, SUNY Press, ISBN 978-0791490495

Further reading

• Banerjee, Sudeshna (2004). Puja: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Rupa and Co, Calcutta. ISBN 81-291-0547-0.
• Bhattacharyya, BK (6 October 2008). "Earthen sculptures of Goddess ". The Assam Tribune. Archived from the original on 1 April 2012.
• Dutta, Krishna. (2003) Calcutta: a cultural and literary history. Signal Books, Oxford, United Kingdom. ISBN 1-902669-59-2.
• Muthukumaraswamy, M.D.; Kaushal, Molly (2004). Folklore, public sphere, and civil society. National Folklore Support Centre(India). ISBN 978-81-901481-4-6. (Chapter 6: "Of Public Sphere and Sacred Space: Origins of Community Puja in Bengal.")
• Saraswati, Swami Satyananda (2001). Puja Beginner, Devi Mandir. ISBN 1-887472-89-4.

External links

• Media from Wikimedia Commons
• News from Wikinews
• Texts from Wikisource
• Resources from Wikiversity
• Puja Samagri on Aastha
• Puja at the Encyclopædia Britannica
• Puja 2020 Date, Time, Muhurt - Astha Darbaar
• Puja at Curlie
• History of Puja in Bengal
Site Admin
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:29 am

Pashupati seal
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/6/21

The Pashupati seal, showing a seated and possibly tricephalic figure, surrounded by animals; circa 2350-2000 BCE

The Pashupati Seal is a steatite seal that was discovered at the Mohenjo-daro archaeological site of the Indus Valley Civilization. The seal depicts a seated figure that is possibly tricephalic (having three heads). It was once thought to be ithyphallic, an interpretation that has been questioned by many critics and even supporters.[1] The man has a horned headdress and is surrounded by animals. He may represent a horned deity.[2] The seal is kept in the National Museum of India in New Delhi.[3][4]

It has one of the more complicated designs in the thousands of seals found from the Indus Valley Civilization, and is unusual in having a human figure as the main and largest element; in most seals this is an animal.














-- Seals and tablets with inscriptions from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, by

It has been claimed to be one of the earliest depictions of the Hindu god Shiva, or a "proto-Shiva" deity. The name given to the seal, "pashupati", meaning "lord of animals", is one of Shiva's epithets. It has also been associated with the Vedic god Rudra, generally regarded as an early form of Shiva. Rudra is associated with asceticism, yoga, and linga; regarded as a lord of animals; and Shiva may be depicted with three heads. The figure has often been connected with the widespread motif of the Master of Animals found in ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean art, and the many other traditions of horned deities.[2]

Discovery and description

A view of the Mohenjo-daro excavation site. The DK-G Area where the seal was found lies north-east of the Great Bath seen in the foreground.[5]

The seal was uncovered in 1928-29, in Block 1, Southern Portion of the DK-G Area of Mohenjo-daro, at a depth of 3.9 meters below the surface.[6] Ernest J. H. Mackay, who directed the excavations at Mohenjo-daro, and dated the seal to the Intermediate I Period (now considered to fall around 2350-2000 BCE) in his 1937-38 report in which the seal is numbered 420, giving it its alternate name.[7]

An impression made from the steatite seal

The seal is carved in steatite and measures 3.56 cm by 3.53 cm, with a thickness of 0.76 cm. It has a human figure at the centre seated on a platform and facing forward. The legs of the figure are bent at the knees with the heels touching and the toes pointing downwards. The arms extend outwards and rest lightly on the knees, with the thumbs facing away from the body. Eight small and three large bangles cover the arms. The chest is covered with what appear to be necklaces, and a double band wraps around the waist. The figure wears a tall and elaborate headdress with central fan-shaped structure flanked by two large striated horns. The human figure is surrounded by four wild animals: an elephant and a tiger to its one side, and a water buffalo and a rhinoceros on the other. Under the dais are two deer or ibexes looking backwards, so that their horns almost meet the center. At the top of the seal are seven pictographs, with the last apparently displaced downwards for lack of horizontal space.[8][9]


Marshall's identification with proto-Shiva

An early description and analysis of the seal's iconography was provided by archaeologist John Marshall who had served as the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India and led the excavations of the Indus Valley sites. In addition to the general features of the seal described above, he also saw the central figure as a male deity; as three-faced, with a possible fourth face towards the back; and, as ithyphallic, while conceding that what appeared to be the exposed phallus could instead be a tassel hanging from the waistband. Most significantly he identified the seal as an early prototype of the Hindu god Shiva (or, his Vedic predecessor, Rudra), who also was known by the title Pashupati ('lord or father of all the animals') in historic times.[10] In a 1928–29 publication, Marshall summarized his reasons for the identification as follows:

My reasons for the identification are four. In the first place the figure has three faces and that Siva was portrayed with three as well as with more usual five faces, there are abundant examples to prove. Secondly, the head is crowned with the horns of a bull and the trisula are characteristic emblems of Siva. Thirdly, the figure is in a typical yoga attitude, and Siva [sic] was and still is, regarded as a mahayogi—the prince of Yogis. Fourthly, he is surrounded by animals, and Siva is par excellence the "Lord of Animals" (Pasupati)—of the wild animals of the jungle, according to the Vedic meaning of the word pashu, no less than that of domesticated cattle.[6]

Later, in 1931, he expanded his reasons to include the fact that Shiva is associated with the phallus in the form of linga, and that in medieval art he is shown with deer or ibexes, as are seen below the throne on the seal.[10][11] Marshall's analysis of the Indus Valley religion, and the Pashupati seal in particular, was very influential and widely accepted for at least the next two generations. For instance, Herbert Sullivan, wrote in 1964 that Marshall's analysis "has been accepted almost universally and has greatly influenced scholarly understanding of the historical development of Hinduism".[12] Writing in 1976, Doris Srinivasan introduced an article otherwise critical of Marshall's interpretation by observing that "no matter what position is taken regarding the seal's iconography, it is always prefaced by Marshall's interpretation. On balance the proto-Śiva character of the seal has been accepted."[13] Thomas McEvilley noted, in line with Marshall, that the central figure was in the yoga pose Mulabandhasana, quoting the Kalpa Sutra's description "a squatting position with joined heels" used with meditation and fasting to attain infinite knowledge (kevala).[14] And Alf Hiltebeitel noted in 2011 that, following Marshall's analysis, "nearly all efforts at interpreting the [Indus Valley] religion have centered discussion around [the Pashupati seal] figure".[15] A lot of discussion has taken place about this seal.[16] While Marshall's work has earned some support, many critics and even supporters have raised several objections.[1]

Doris Srinivasan's reinterpretation

Doris Srinivasan, a professor of Indian studies, raised objections to Marshall's identification, and provided a new interpretation for the figure, where she postulated the lateral projections were cow-like ears rather than faces. In 1975-76, she published a journal article titled 'The So-Called Proto-śiva Seal from Mohenjo-Daro: An Iconological Assessment' in the academic journal Archives of Asian Art.[17] In 1997, she reiterated her views in a book titled Many Heads, Arms, and Eyes: Origin, Meaning, and Form of Multiplicity in Indian Art.

Mahishasura, the buffalo demon being slayed by the goddess Durga

According to her, the two extra faces could be reinterpreted as possible ears, and the central face has predominant bovine features. She has drawn similarities between the central figure of seal 420, and other artefacts from the Indus Valley such as the horned mask from Mohenjo-Daro, the terracotta bull from Kalibangan, and the depiction of a horned deity on a water pitcher from the archaeological site of Kot Diji. She has also noted that the yogic posture of the figure is repeated on a number of other seals and sealings, some of which indicate that the figure receives worship. On the basis of these observations, she suggests that the figure of seal 420 could be a divine buffalo-man.[18]

Dravidian Interpretations

Scholars who consider the Indus Valley Civilisation to be associated with Dravidian culture have offered other interpretations. According to Alf Hiltebeitel, Professor of Religion, History, and Human Sciences at George Washington University,[19] the horned figure could be identified with Mahishasura, the buffalo demon enemy of the Hindu goddess Durga. He has also argued that the tiger depicted in the seal could represent the goddess Durga who is often depicted as ridding a tiger (or a lion) in the Hindu pantheon. He also suggested that the surrounding animals could represent the vahanas (vehicles, mounts) of deities for the four cardinal directions.[20][21]

Herbert Sullivan from Duke University[22] interpreted the figure as a female goddess on the grounds that the so-called erect phallus actually represents a girdle, a feature he had found only on female figurines.[12] The American archaeologist Walter Fairservis tried to translate what he considered to be a Dravidian inscription, and was of the view that the seal could be identified with Anil, the paramount chief of four clans represented by the animals. The Finnish Indologist, Asko Parpola has suggested that the yogic pose could be an imitation of the Proto-Elamite way of representing seated bulls. He attempted to translate the inscription which he considers to be an early form of Dravidian, and found that the figure represents a servant of an aquatic deity.[23] He finds that the animals depicted on the seal best resemble those associated with the Hindu god Varuna who could be associated with the aquatic themes which are prominent in the Indus religion.[21]

Vedic Interpretations

Agni is the god of fire, and a prominent deity in the Vedas.

There are some scholars who think the seal represents a Vedic deity, and believe that this points to an Indo-Aryan identity of the Indus Valley Civilisation. The Indian archaeologist, S.R. Rao who is credited with discoveries of a number of Harappan sites, identified the figure in the seal with the Vedic deity Agni. He attempted to translate the text and claimed that the evidence pointed to the three-headed blazing, fire god Agni who belongs to the Vedic pantheon. The animals represent the various clans which accepted the supremacy of Agni.

E. Richter-Ushanas identified the figure with the sage Rishyasringa who was born with horns, and who officiated the sacrifice of King Dasaratha in the ancient Indian epic Ramayana. The considers the four animals to be a representation of the four seasons, and found similar motifs on the Gundestrup cauldron discovered in Denmark. Other scholars such as Talageri, Rajaram and Frawley, have postulated that the cauldron presents compelling evidence towards India as the home of the Indo-European people. S.P. Singh identified the figure with the Hindu god Rudra who is associated with the storm and the hunt. He identified the surrounding animals with the Maruts who are storm deities and sons of Rudra. His argument for this identification is based on hymn 64 of the first mandala (book) of the Rigveda which compares the Maruts to various animals, including a bull, an elephant, a lion, a deer, and a serpent.[24] M.V.N. Krishna Rao identified the figure with the Hindu god Indra. He argued that the tiger could be ignored since it is much larger than the other animals, and the two deer could also be ignored since they were seated under the table. Then he combined the first phoneme of each of the animals, and the word 'nara' meaning man, and arrived at the term 'makhanasana' which is an epithet of Indra.[21]

See also

• Gundestrup cauldron
• Cernunnos
• Gutasaga


1. See e. g. James G. Lochtefeld, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, vol. 2: N–Z. The Rosen Publishing Group, New York 2002, p. 633, who doubts the connection of the seal to Shiva, given the supposedly late age of the god.
2. Werness, Hope B., Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in World Art, p. 270, 2006, A&C Black, ISBN 0826419135, 9780826419132, google books
3. "Walk back to the past: Take a tour of the Harappan civilisation in a Delhi museum". Hindustan Times. 29 July 2017.
4. "Pre-History & Archaeology". National Museum India.[permanent dead link]
5. Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark. "Mohenjo-daro: Introduction". Archived from the original on 2013-12-01.
6. Mackay 1928–29, pp. 74-75.
7. Mackay 1937–38, plate XCIV; no. 420.
8. Possehl 2002, p. 141.
9. Marshall 1931, p. 52.
10. Marshall 1931, pp. 52-57.
11. McEvilley 1981, pp. 45-46.
12. Sullivan 1964.
13. Srinivasan 1975–76, p. 47.
14. McEvilley 1981, pp. 47-51.
15. Hiltebeitel 2011, p. 399.
16. Bryant, Edwin, p.163
17. Srinivasan, Doris (1975–1976). "The So-Called Proto-śiva Seal from Mohenjo-Daro: An Iconological Assessment". Archives of Asian Art. 29: 47–58. JSTOR 20062578.
18. Srinivasan, Doris (1997). Many Heads, Arms, and Eyes: Origin, Meaning, and Form of Multiplicity in Indian Art. 181: Brill. ISBN 9004107584.
19. Hiltebeitel, Alf. "Alf Hiltebeitel". Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
20. Hiltebeitel 2011, pp. 399-432.
21. Bryant, Edwin (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. pp. 163. ISBN 0199881332.
22. Sullivan, Herbert (1964). "A re-examination of the religion of the Indus civilization". Google Books.
23. Ratnagar, Shereen (2006). Trading Encounters: From the Euphrates to the Indus in the Bronze Age. Oxford University Press. p. 25. ISBN 9780195666038.
24. "Rigveda, Book I, Hymn 64". Wikisource.


• Hiltebeitel, Alf (2011). "The Indus Valley "Proto-Śiva", Reexamined through Reflections on the Goddess, the Buffalo, and the Symbolism of vāhanas". In Adluri, Vishwa; Bagchee, Joydeep (eds.). When the Goddess was a Woman: Mahabharata Ethnographies - Essays by Alf Hiltebeitel. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-19380-2.
• Mackay, Ernest John Henry (1928–29). "Excavations at Mohenjodaro". Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India: 67–75.
• Mackay, Earnest John Henry (1937–38). Further excavations at Mohenjo-Daro : being an official account of archaeological excavations at Mohenjo-Daro carried out by the Government of India between the years 1927 and 1931. Delhi: Government of India.
• McEvilley, Thomas (1981). "An Archaeology of Yoga". RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics. 1 (1): 44–77. doi:10.1086/RESv1n1ms20166655. JSTOR 20166655. S2CID 192221643.
• Marshall, John (1931). Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization: Being an Official Account of Archaeological Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro Carried Out by the Government of India Between the Years 1922 and 1927. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-81-206-1179-5.
• Possehl, Gregory L. (2002). The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. Rowman Altamira. ISBN 978-0-7591-1642-9.
• Srinivasan, Doris (1975–76). "The So-Called Proto-śiva Seal from Mohenjo-Daro: An Iconological Assessment". Archives of Asian Art. 29: 47–58. JSTOR 20062578.
• Srinivasan, Doris Meth (1997). Many Heads, Arms and Eyes: Origin, Meaning and Form in Multiplicity in Indian Art. Brill. ISBN 978-9004107588.
• Sullivan, Herbert P. (1964). "A Re-Examination of the Religion of the Indus Civilization". History of Religions. 4 (1): 115–125. doi:10.1086/462498. JSTOR 1061875. S2CID 162278147.
• Bryant, Edwin (2001). The quest for the origins of vedic culture the Indo-Aryan migration debate. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195137774. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
Further reading[edit]
• McIntosh, Jane (2001). A Peaceful Realm: The Rise And Fall of the Indus Civilization. Boulder: Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3532-9.
• McIntosh, Jane (2008). "Religion and ideology". The Ancient Indus Valley: New Perspectives. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-907-2.
• Thapar, Romila (2004). Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24225-8.
• Witzel, Michael (February 2000). "The Languages of Harappa" (PDF). Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies.
• Wright, Rita P. (2010). The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-57219-4.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Thu Apr 15, 2021 10:38 pm

Gautama Maharishi
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/15/21

Gautama Maharishi
An Early 19th Century Painting Showing Maharishi Gautama
Religion: Hinduism
Spouse: Ahalya
Children: Shatananda and others
Parents: Gotama (father)
Honors: One of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi)

Gautama Maharishi (Sanskrit: महर्षिः गौतम Mahariṣiḥ Gautama), also known as Vamadeva Gautama[1] was a Rigvedic sage in Hinduism, who is also mentioned in Jainism and Buddhism. Gautama is prominently mentioned in the Ramayana and is known for cursing his wife Ahalya, after she had an relationship with Indra. Another important story related to Gautama is about the creation of river Godavari, which is also known as Gautami.


Vamadeva Gautama was the founder of the Vamadeva family. Most of the hymns in Mandala IV of the Rigveda are attributed to him.[1] He was the son of Gotama.[2]

[W]e Gotamas with hymns extol thee, O Agni, as the guardian Lord of riches,
Decking thee like a horse, the swift prizewinner. May he, enriched with prayer, come soon and early...

Thus to thee, Indra, yoker of Bay Coursers, the Gotamas have brought their prayers to please thee...

O mighty Indra, Gotama's son Nodhas hath fashioned this new prayer to thee Eternal,
Sure leader, yoker of the Tawny Coursers. May he, enriched with prayer, come soon and early...

Prayers have been made by Gotamas, O Indra, addressed to thee, with laud for thy Bay Horses...

Thus Agni Jātavedas, true to Order, hath by the priestly Gotamas been lauded.
May he augment in them splendour and vigour: observant, as he lists, he gathers increase...

O JĀTAVEDAS, keen and swift, we Gotamas with sacred song exalt thee for thy glories' sake.
Thee, as thou art, desiring wealth Gotama worships with his song:
We laud thee for thy glories' sake...

O Gotama, desiring bliss present thy songs composed with care
To Agni of the pointed flames...

They drave the cloud transverse directed hitherward, and poured the fountain forth for thirsting Gotama.
Shining with varied light they come to him with help: they with their might fulfilled the longing of the sage...

The Gotamas making their prayer with singing have pushed the well's lid up to drink the water.
No hymn way ever known like this aforetime which Gotama sang forth for you, O Maruts,
What time upon your golden wheels he saw you, wild boars rushing about with tusks of iron.
To you this freshening draught of Soma rusheth, O Maruts, like the voice of one who prayeth.
It rusheth freely from our hands as these libations wont to flow...

The Gotamas have praised Heaven's radiant Daughter, the leader of the charm of pleasant voices.
Dawn, thou conferrest on us strength with offspring and men, conspicuous with kine and horses...

Ye lifted up the well, O ye Nāsatyas, and set the base on high to open downward.
Streams flowed for folk of Gotama who thirsted, like rain to bring forth thousandfold abundance...

Gotama, Purumīlha, Atri bringing oblations all invoke you for protection.
Like one who goes straight to the point directed, ye Nāsatyas, to mine invocation...

Through words and kinship I destroy the mighty: this power I have from Gotama my father.
Mark thou this speech of ours, O thou Most Youthful, Friend of the House, exceeding wise, Invoker...

The Gotamas have sung their song of praise to thee that thou mayst give,
Indra, for lively energy.
We will declare thy hero deeds, what Dāsa forts thou brakest down,
Attacking them in rapturous joy.
The sages sing those manly deeds which, Indra, Lover of the Song,
Thou wroughtest when the Soma flowed.
Indra, the Gotamas who bring thee praises have grown strong by thee.
Give them renown with hero sons...

A Warrior thou by strength, wisdom, and wondrous deed, in might excellest all that is.
Hither may this our hymn attract thee to our help, the hymn which Gotamas have made...

-- The Rig Veda, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith


According to Valmiki Ramayan, Gautama's eldest son with Ahalya is Satananda. But according to Adi Parva of Mahabharata, he had two sons named Saradvan and Cirakari. Saradvan was also known as Gautama, hence his children Kripa and Kripi were called Gautama and Gautami respectively. A daughter of Gautama is referred too but her name is never disclosed in the epic.[3] In Sabha Parva, he begets many children upon Aushinara (daughter of Ushinara), amongst whom eldest in Kakshivat. Gautama and Aushinara's marriage takes place at Magadha, the kingdom of Jarasandha.[4] According to Vamana Purana, he had three daughters named Jaya, Jayanti and Aparajita.[5]

Ahalya's curse

Gautama (left) discovers Indra disguised as Gautama fleeing, as Ahalya watches.

The Ramayana describes Ahalya as his wife. Their marriage is recorded in the Uttara Kanda, which is believed as an interpolation to the epic. As per the story Brahma, the creator god, creates a beautiful girl and gifts her as a bride to Gautama and a son named Shatananda is born. The Bala Kanda mentions that Gautama spots Indra, who is still in disguise, and curses him to lose his testicles. Gautama then returns to his ashram and accepts her.


1. Jamison, Stephanie; Brereton, Joel P. (2014). The Rigveda - the earliest religious poetry of India. Oxford University Press. p. 556.
2. Jamison and Brereton 2014, p. 563-564.
3. "Puranic encyclopaedia: a dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature". 1975.
4. Mahabharata Sabha Parva Section XXI
5. "Puranic encyclopaedia : a dictionary with special reference to epic and Puranic literature". 1975.
• Doniger, Wendy (1999). "Indra and Ahalya, Zeus and Alcmena". Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-15641-5.


Gautama Dharmasutra
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/17/21

Gautama Dharmasūtra is a Sanskrit text and likely one of the oldest Hindu Dharmasutras (600-200 BCE), whose manuscripts have survived into the modern age.[1][2][3]

The Gautama Dharmasutra was composed and survives as an independent treatise,[4] unattached to a complete Kalpa-sūtras, but like all Dharmasutras it may have been part of one whose Shrauta- and Grihya-sutras have been lost to history.[1][5] The text belongs to Samaveda schools, and its 26th chapter on penance theory is borrowed almost completely from Samavidhana Brahmana layer of text in the Samaveda.[1][5]

The Samaveda (Sanskrit: सामवेद, sāmaveda, from sāman "song" and veda "knowledge"), is the Veda of melodies and chants. It is an ancient Vedic Sanskrit text, and part of the scriptures of Hinduism. One of the four Vedas, it is a liturgical text which consists of 1,549 verses. All but 75 verses have been taken from the Rigveda. Three recensions of the Samaveda have survived, and variant manuscripts of the Veda have been found in various parts of India.

While its earliest parts are believed to date from as early as the Rigvedic period, the existing compilation dates from the post-Rigvedic Mantra period of Vedic Sanskrit, between c. 1200 and 1000 BCE or "slightly rather later," roughly contemporary with the Atharvaveda and the Yajurveda.

Embedded inside the Samaveda is the widely studied Chandogya Upanishad and Kena Upanishad, considered as primary Upanishads and as influential on the six schools of Hindu philosophy, particularly the Vedanta school. Samaveda has the root of music and dance tradition of this planet.

It is also referred to as Sama Veda....

R. T. H. Griffith says that there are three recensions of the text of the Samaveda Samhita:

• the Kauthuma recension is current in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and since a few decades in Darbhanga, Bihar,
• the Rāṇāyanīya in the Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gokarna, few parts of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
• and the Jaiminiya in the Carnatic, Tamil Nadu and Kerala...

Just like Rigveda, the early sections of Samaveda typically begin with Agni and Indra hymns but shift to abstract speculations and philosophy, and their meters too shifts in a descending order. The later sections of the Samaveda, states Witzel, have least deviation from substance of hymns they derive from Rigveda into songs. The purpose of Samaveda was liturgical, and they were the repertoire of the udgātṛ or "singer" priests...

The Samaveda consists of 1,549 unique verses, taken almost entirely from Rigveda, except for 75 verses. The largest number of verse come from Books 9 and 8 of the Rig Veda. Some of the Rigvedic verses are repeated more than once. Including these repetitions, there are a total of 1,875 verses numbered in the Samaveda recension translated by Griffith.

Samaveda samhita is not meant to be read as a text, it is like a musical score sheet that must be heard...

The Kauthuma recension has been published (Samhita, Brahmana, Shrautasutra and ancillary Sutras, mainly by B.R. Sharma), parts of the Jaiminiya tradition remain unpublished. There is an edition of the first part of the Samhita by W. Caland and of the Brahmana by Raghu Vira and Lokesh Chandra, as well as the neglected Upanishad, but only parts of the Shrautasutra. The song books remain unpublished.

A German edition of Samaveda was published in 1848 by Theodor Benfey, and Satyavrata Samashrami published an edited Sanskrit version in 1873. A Russian translation was published by Filipp Fortunatov in 1875. An English translation was published by Ralph Griffith in 1893. A translation in Hindi by Mridul Kirti called "Samveda Ka Hindi Padyanuvad" has also been published recently.

The Samaveda text has not received as much attention as the Rigveda, because outside of the musical novelty and melodic creativity, the substance of all but 75 verses of the text have predominantly been derived from the Rigveda. A study of Rigveda suffices.

-- Samaveda, by Wikipedia

The text is notable that it mentions many older texts and authorities on Dharma, which has led scholars to conclude that there existed a rich genre of Dharmasutras text in ancient India before this text was composed.[6][7]

Authorship and dates

Testimony during a trial

The witness must take an oath before deposing.
Single witness normally does not suffice.
As many as three witnesses are required.
False evidence must face sanctions.

— Gautama Dharmasutras 13.2-13.6 [8][9]

The Dharmasutra is attributed to Gautama, a Brahmin family name, many of whose members founded the various Shakhas (Vedic schools) of Samaveda.[1] The text was likely composed in the Ranayaniya branch of Samaveda tradition, generally corresponding to where modern Maratha people reside (Maharashtra-Gujarat).[1] The text is likely ascribed to revered sage Gautama of a remote era, but authored by members of this Samaveda school as an independent treatise.[10]

Kane estimated that Gautama Dharmasastra dates from approximately 600-400 BCE.[11] However, Olivelle states that this text discusses the progeny of Greeks with the word Yavana, whose arrival and stay in substantial numbers in northwest India is dated after Darius I (~500 BCE). The Yavana are called border people in the Edict of Ashoka (256 BCE), states Olivelle, and given Gautama gives them importance as if they are non-border people, this text is more likely to have been composed after the Ashoka's Edict, that is after mid 3rd century BCE.[12] Olivelle states that the Apastamba Dharmasutra is more likely the oldest extant text in Dharmasutras genre, followed by Gautama Dharmasastra.[2] Robert Lingat, however, states that the mention of Yavana in the text is isolated, and this minor usage could well have referred to Greco-Bactrian kingdoms whose border reached into northwest Indian subcontinent well before the Ashoka era. Lingat maintains that the Gautama Dharmasastra may well pre-date 400 BCE, and he and other scholars consider it to be the oldest extant Dharmasutra.[13][3]

Regardless of the relative chronology, the ancient Gautama Dharmasutra, states Olivelle, shows clear signs of a maturing legal procedure tradition and the parallels between the two texts suggest that significant Dharma literature existed before these texts were composed in 1st millennium BCE.[14][15][7]

The foundational roots of the text may pre-date Buddhism because it reveres the Vedas and uses terms such as Bhikshu for monks, which later became associated with Buddhists, and instead of Yati or Sannyasi terms that became associated with Hindus.[13] There is evidence that some passages, such as those related to castes and mixed marriages, were likely interpolated into this text and altered at the later date.[16]

Organization and content

The text is composed entirely in prose, in contrast to other surviving Dharmasutras which contain some verses as well.[13] The content is organized in the aphoristic sutra style, characteristic of ancient India's sutra period.[17] The text is divided into 28 Adhyayas (chapters),[13] with cumulative total of 973 verses.[18] Among the surviving ancient texts of its genre, the Gautama Dharmasutra has the largest portion (16%) of sutras dedicated to government and judicial procedures, compared to Apastamba's 6%, Baudhayana's 3% and Vasishtha's 9%.[19]

The contents of the Gautama Dharmasutra, states Daniel Ingalls, suggest that private property rights existed in ancient India, that the king had a right to collect taxes and had a duty to protect the citizens of his kingdom as well as settle disputes between them by a due process if and when these disputes emerged.[20]

The topics of this Dharmasūtra are arranged methodically, and resembles the structure of texts found in much later Dharma-related smṛtis (traditional texts).[5]

Gautama Dharmasutras

Chapter / Topics (incomplete) / Translation Comments

1. Sources of Dharma

1.1-4 / Origins and reliable sources of law / [21]

2. Brahmacharya

1.5-1.61 / Student's code of conduct, insignia, rules of study / [22]
2.1-2.51 / General rules, conduct towards teachers, food, graduation / [23]

3. Stages of life

3.1-3.36 / Student, monk, anchorite / [24]
4.1-8.25 / Household, marriage, rituals, gifts, respect for guests, behavior during times of crisis and adversity, interaction between Brahmins and the king, ethics and virtues / [25][26][27]
9.1-9.74 / Graduates / [28]
10.1-10.66 / Four social classes, their occupations, rules of violence during war, tax rates, proper tax spending, property rights / [29][30]

4. Judiciary

11.1-11.32 / The king and his duties, judicial process / [31]
12.1-13.31 / Criminal and civil law categories, contract and debts, theory of punishment, rules of trial, witnesses / [32][26]

5. Personal rituals

14.1-14.46 / Death in a family, cremation, impurities and purification after handling corpses / [33]
15.1-15.29 / Rites of passage for ancestors and the death of loved ones / [34]
16.1-16.49 / Self-study of texts, recitation, annual suspension of Vedic readings / [35]
17.1-17.38 / Food, health, prohibition on killing or harming animals to produce food / [36]
18.1-18.23 / Marriage, remarriage, child custody disputes / [37]

6. Punishment and penances

18.24-21.22 / Seizure of property, excommunication, expulsion, readmission, sins / [38]
22.1-23.34 / Penances for killings animals, adultery, illicit sex, eating meat, different types of penances / [39]

7. Inheritance and conflicts within law

28.1-28.47 / Inheritance rights of sons and daughters on man's property, on woman's property, levirate, estates, partition of property between relatives / [40]
28.48-28.53 / Resolving disputes and doubts within law / [41]


Duties of a graduate

He should not spend the morning, midday or afternoon fruitlessly,
but pursue righteousness, wealth and pleasure,
to the best of his ability,
but among them he should attend chiefly to righteousness.

— Gautama Dharmasutra 9.46-9.47[42]

Maskarin and Haradatta both commented on Gautama Dharmasūtra – the oldest is by Maskarin in 900-1000 CE, before Haradatta (who also commented on Apastamba).[43]

Olivelle states that Haradatta while writing his commentary on Gautama Dharmasutra titled Mitaksara[44] copied freely from Maskarin's commentary.[43] In contrast, Banerji states that Haradatta's commentary is older than Maskarin's.[45] Asahaya may have also written a commentary on the Gautama text, but this manuscript is either lost or yet to be discovered.[45]


Daniel Ingalls, a professor of Sanskrit at the Harvard University, states that the regulations in the Gautama Dharmasutra were not laws for the entire society, but were regulations and code of conduct that were developed and applied "strictly to one small group of Brahmins".[46] The Gautama text was part of the curriculum of one of the Samaveda schools, and most of the rules, if enforceable, states Ingall, applied to just this group.[46]

It is quite likely, states Patrick Olivelle, that the ideas and concepts in the Gautama Dharmasutra strongly influenced the authors of the Manusmriti.[19][47] Medieval texts, such as Apararka, state that thirty six Dharmasastra authors were influenced by Gautama Dharmasutras.[48]

See also

• Arthashastra
• Manusmriti
• Upanishads
• Vedas


1. Robert Lingat 1973, p. 19.
2. Patrick Olivelle 2006, p. 178 with note 28.
3. Daniel H.H. Ingalls 2013, p. 89.
4. Patrick Olivelle 2006, p. 186.
5. Patrick Olivelle 2006, p. 74.
6. Robert Lingat 1973, pp. 19-20.
7. Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010, p. 38.
8. Robert Lingat 1973, p. 69.
9. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 100-101.
10. Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010, p. 40.
11. Patrick Olivelle 1999, p. xxxii.
12. Patrick Olivelle 1999, p. xxxiii.
13. Robert Lingat 1973, p. 20.
14. Patrick Olivelle 2005, p. 44.
15. Robert Lingat 1973, pp. 19-22, Quote: The dharma-sutra of Apastamba suggests that a rich literature on dharma already existed. He cites ten authors by name. (...)..
16. Robert Lingat 1973, pp. 19-20, 94.
17. Patrick Olivelle 2006, p. 178.
18. Patrick Olivelle 2005, p. 46.
19. Patrick Olivelle 2006, pp. 186-187.
20. Daniel H.H. Ingalls 2013, p. 91-93.
21. Patrick Olivelle 1999, p. 78.
22. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 78-80.
23. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 80-83.
24. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 83-84.
25. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 84-91.
26. Daniel H.H. Ingalls 2013, pp. 89-90.
27. Kedar Nath Tiwari (1998). Classical Indian Ethical Thought. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 88–90. ISBN 978-81-208-1607-7.
28. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 91-93.
29. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 94-96.
30. Penna, L. R. (1989). "Written and customary provisions relating to the conduct of hostilities and treatment of victims of armed conflicts in ancient India". International Review of the Red Cross. Cambridge University Press. 29 (271): 333–348. doi:10.1017/s0020860400074519.
31. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 96- 98.
32. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 98-101.
33. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 101-103.
34. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 103-106.
35. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 107-108.
36. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 108-109.
37. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 110-111.
38. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 111-115.
39. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 115-118.
40. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 118-126.
41. Patrick Olivelle 1999, p. 126.
42. Patrick Olivelle 1999, pp. 92-93.
43. Patrick Olivelle 1999, p. 74.
44. Robert Lingat 1973, p. 114.
45. Sures Chandra Banerji (1999). A Brief History of Dharmaśāstra. Abhinav Publications. pp. 72–75. ISBN 978-81-7017-370-0.
46. Daniel H.H. Ingalls 2013, p. 90-91.
47. Patrick Olivelle 2005, pp. 44-45.
48. Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis Jr & Jayanth K. Krishnan 2010, p. 51.


• Daniel H.H. Ingalls (2013). Roy W. Perrett (ed.). Theory of Value: Indian Philosophy. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-70357-8.
• Timothy Lubin; Donald R. Davis Jr; Jayanth K. Krishnan (2010). Hinduism and Law: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-49358-1.
• Patrick Olivelle (1999). Dharmasutras: The Law Codes of Ancient India. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-283882-7.
• Patrick Olivelle (2005). Manu's Code of Law. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517146-4.
• Patrick Olivelle (2006). Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-977507-1.
• Robert Lingat (1973). The Classical Law of India. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-01898-3.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:13 am

The Ordeal [Purrikeh/Parikyah] in India, Excerpt from Superstition and Force
by Henry Charles Lea

If any One of the Partners by Affinity, at the Time of sharing and dividing their Property, concealed any Part of the Effects, and this Circumstance should afterwards appear, that Part shall then be divided equally among all not the other Partners, and the Man who concealed it. But if any One of the Partners still continues suspicious, he shall undergo the Purrikeh, that is Ordeal for him; whoever is not suspicious of him, he shall perform the Purrikeh....

If a Man brings a regular Suit against another, and that Person absolutely denies the Claim, in that Case, the Plaintiff shall be held to prove his Claim; if the Plaintiff has neither Writing nor Witnesses for his Proof, the Defendant shall perform the Purrikeh (that is) an Ordeal, to satisfy the other.

-- A Code of Gentoo Laws, Or, Ordinations of the Pundits, From a Persian Translation, Made From the Original, Written in the Shanscrit Language, by Nathaniel Brassey Halhed


So far, indeed, were the Barbarians from reposing implicit confidence in the integrity of their fellows that their earliest records show how fully they shared in the common desire of mankind to place the oath under the most efficient guarantees that ingenuity could devise. In its most simple form the oath is an invocation of some deity or supernatural power to grant or withhold his favor in accordance with the veracity of the swearer, but at all times men have sought to render this more impressive by interposing material objects dear to the individual, which were understood to be offered as pledges or victims for the divine wrath. Thus, among the Hindus, the ancient Manava Dharma Sastra prescribes the oath as satisfactory evidence in default of evidence, but requires it to be duly reinforced—

“In cases where there is no testimony, and the judge cannot decide upon which side lies the truth, he can determine it fully by administering the oath.

“Oaths were sworn by the seven Maharshis, and by the gods, to make doubtful things manifest, and even Vasishtha sware an oath before the king Sudama, son of Piyavana, when Viswamitra accused him of eating a hundred children.

“Let not the wise man take an oath in vain, even for things of little weight; for he who takes an oath in vain is lost in this world and the next.

“Let the judge swear the Brahman by his truth; the Kshatriya by his horses, his elephants, or his arms; the Vaisya by his cows, his corn, and his gold; the Sudra by all crimes.”

And in the more detailed code of Vishnu there is an exceedingly complicated system of objects to be sworn upon, varying with the amount at stake and the caste of the swearer...

The black Australioid Khonds ... Not only do they constantly employ the ordeals of boiling water and oil and red-hot iron, which they may have borrowed from their Hindu neighbors, but they administer judicial oaths with imprecations that are decidedly of the character of ordeals. Thus an oath is taken on a tiger’s skin with an invocation of destruction from that animal upon the perjured; or upon a lizard’s skin whose scaliness is invited upon him who may forswear himself; or over an ant-hill with an imprecation that he who swears falsely may be reduced to powder....

The hill-tribes of Rajmahal, who represent another of the pre-Aryan Indian races, furnish us with further developments of the same principle, in details bearing a marked analogy to those practised by the most diverse families of mankind. Thus the process by which the guilt of Achan was discovered (Joshua vii. 16-18), and that by which, as we shall see hereafter, Master Anselm proposed to identify the thief of the sacred vessels of Laon, are not unlike the ceremony used when a district is ravaged by tigers or by pestilence, which is regarded as a retribution for sin committed by some inhabitant, whose identification thus becomes all-important for the salvation of the rest. In the process known as Satane a person sits on the ground with a branch of the bale tree planted opposite to him; rice is handed to him to eat in the name of each village of the district, and when the one is named in which the culprit lives, he is expected to throw up the rice. Having thus determined the village, the same plan is adopted with respect to each family in it, and when the family is identified, the individual is discovered in the same manner. Another form, named Cherreen, is not unlike the ordeal of the Bible and key, not as yet obsolete among Christians. A stone is suspended by a string, and the names of the villages, families, and individuals are repeated, when it indicates the guilty by its vibrations. Thieves are also discovered and convicted by these processes, and by another mode known as Gobereen, which is a modification of the hot-water ordeal. A mixture of cow-dung, oil, and water is made to boil briskly in a pot. A ring is thrown in, and each suspected person, after invoking the Supreme Deity, is required to find and bring out the ring with his hand—the belief being that the innocent will not be burned, while the guilty will not be able to put his hand into the pot, as the mixture will rise up to meet it....

It is among the Aryan races that we are to look for the fullest and most enduring evidences of the beliefs which developed into the ordeal, and gave it currency from the rudest stages of nomadic existence to periods of polished and enlightened civilization. In the perfect dualism of Mazdeism, the Yazatas, or angels of the good creation, were always prompt to help the pure and innocent against the machinations of Ahriman and his Daevas, their power to do so depending only upon the righteousness of him who needed assistance. The man unjustly accused, or seeking to obtain or defend his right, could therefore safely trust that any trial to which he might be subjected would be harmless, however much the ordinary course of nature would have to be turned aside in order to save him. Thus Zoroaster could readily explain and maintain the ancestral practices, the common use of which by both the Zend and the Hindu branches of the Aryan family points to their origin at a period anterior to the separation between the kindred tribes. In the fragments of the Avesta, which embody what remains to us of the prehistoric law of the ancient Persians, we find a reference to the ordeal of boiling water, showing it to be an accepted legal process, with a definite penalty affixed for him who failed to exculpate himself in it:—

“Creator! he who knowingly approaches the hot, golden, boiling water, as if speaking truth, but lying to Mithra;

“What is the punishment for it?

“Then answered Ahura-Mazda: Let them strike seven hundred blows with the horse-goad, seven hundred with the craosho-charana!"

The fire ordeal is also seen in the legend which relates how Sudabeh, the favorite wife of Kai Kaoos, became enamored of his son Siawush, and on his rejecting her advances accused him to his father of endeavoring to seduce her. Kai Kaoos sent out a hundred caravans of dromedaries to gather wood, of which two immense piles were built separated by a passage barely admitting a horseman. These were soaked with naphtha and fired in a hundred places, when Siawush mounted on a charger, after an invocation to God, rode through the flames and emerged without even a discoloration of his garments. Sudabeh was sentenced to death, but pardoned on the intercession of Siawush. Another reminiscence of the same ordeal may be traced among the crowd of fantastic legends with which the career of Zoroaster is embroidered. It is related that when an infant he was seized by the magicians, who foresaw their future destruction at his hands, and was thrown upon a huge pile composed of wood, naphtha, and sulphur, which was forthwith kindled; but, through the interposition of Hormazd, “the devouring flame became as water, in the midst of which slumbered the pearl of Zardusht.”

In Pehlvi the judicial ordeal was known as var nirang, and thirty-three doubtful conjunctures are enumerated as requiring its employment. The ordinary form was the pouring of molten metal on the body of the patient, though sometimes the heated substance was applied to the tongue or the feet. Of the former, a celebrated instance, curiously anticipating the story told, as we shall see hereafter, of Bishop Poppo when he converted the Danes, is related as a leading incident in the reformation of the Mazdiasni religion when the Persian monarchy was reconstructed by the Sassanids. Eighty thousand heretics remained obstinate until Sapor I. was so urgent with his Magi to procure their conversion that the Dustoor Adurabad offered to prove the truth of orthodoxy by suffering eighteen pounds of melted copper to be poured over his naked shoulders if the dissenters would agree to yield their convictions in case he escaped unhurt. The bargain was agreed to, and carried out with the happiest results. Not a hair of the Dustoor’s body was singed by the rivulets of fiery metal, and the recusants were gathered into the fold.

Among the Hindu Aryans so thoroughly was the divine interposition expected in the affairs of daily life that, according to the Manava Dharma Sastra, if a witness, within a week after giving testimony, should suffer from sickness, or undergo loss by fire, or the death of a relation, it was held to be a manifestation of the divine wrath, drawn down upon him in punishment for perjured testimony. There was, therefore, no inducement to abandon the resource of the ordeal, of which traces may be found as far back as the Vedic period, in the forms both of fire and red-hot iron. In the Ramayana, when Rama, the incarnate Vishnu, distrusts the purity of his beloved Sita, whom he has rescued from the Rakshasha Ravana, she vindicates herself by mounting a blazing pyre, from which she is rescued unhurt by the fire-god, Agni, himself. Manu declares, in the most absolute fashion—

“Let the judge cause him who is under trial to take fire in his hand, or to plunge in water, or to touch separately the heads of his children and of his wife.

“Whom the flame burneth not, whom the water rejects not from its depths, whom misfortune overtakes not speedily, his oath shall be received as undoubted.

“When the Rishi Vatsa was accused by his young half-brother, who stigmatized him as the son of a Sudra, he swore that it was false, and, passing through fire, proved the truth of his oath; the fire, which attests the guilt and the innocence of all men, harmed not a hair of his head, for he spake the truth.”

And the practical application of the rule is seen in the injunction on both plaintiff and defendant to undergo the ordeal, even in certain civil cases.

In the more developed code of Vishnu we find the ordeal system exceedingly complicated, pervading every branch of jurisprudence and only limited by the amount at stake or the character or caste of the defendant. Yet Hindu antiquity is so remote and there have been so many schools of teachers that the custom apparently did not prevail in all times and places. One of the most ancient books of law is the Dharmasastra of Gautama, who says nothing of ordeals and relies for proof wholly on the evidence of witnesses, adding the very relaxed rule that “No guilt is incurred in giving false evidence in case the life of a man depends thereon.”

This, however, is exceptional, and the ordeal maintained its existence from the most ancient periods to modern times. Under the name of purrikeh, or parikyah, it is prescribed in the native Hindu law in all cases, civil and criminal, which cannot be determined by written or oral evidence, or by oath, and is sometimes incumbent upon the plaintiff and sometimes upon the defendant. In its various forms it bears so marked a resemblance to the judgments of God current in mediæval Europe that the further consideration of its use in India may be more conveniently deferred till we come to discuss its varieties in detail, except to add that in Hindu, as in Christian courts, it has always been a religious as well as a judicial ceremony, conducted in the presence of Brahmans, and with the use of invocations to the higher powers....


The ordeal of boiling water (æneum, judicium aquæ ferventis, cacabus, caldaria) is the one usually referred to in the most ancient texts of laws. It was a favorite both with the secular and ecclesiastical authorities, and the manner in which the pagan usages of the ancient Aryans were adopted and rendered orthodox by the Church is well illustrated by the commendation bestowed on it by Hincmar, Archbishop of Reims, in the ninth century. It combines, he says, the elements of water and of fire; the one representing the deluge—the judgment inflicted on the wicked of old; the other authorized by the fiery doom of the future—the day of judgment, in both of which we see the righteous escape and the wicked suffer. There were several minor variations in its administration, but none of them departed to any notable extent from the original form as invented in the East. A caldron of water was brought to the boiling-point, and the accused was obliged with his naked hand to find a small stone or ring thrown into it; sometimes the latter portion was omitted, and the hand was simply inserted, in trivial cases to the wrist, in crimes of magnitude to the elbow; the former being termed the single, the latter the triple ordeal; or, again, the stone was employed, suspended by a string, and the severity of the trial was regulated by the length of the line, a palm’s breadth being counted as single, and the distance to the elbow as triple...

As a means of judicial investigation, the Church, in adopting it with the other ordeals, followed the policy of surrounding it with all the solemnity which her most venerated rites could impart, thus imitating, no doubt unconsciously, the customs of the Hindus, who, from the earliest times, have made the ordeal a religious ceremony, to be conducted by Brahmans, with invocations to the divine powers, and to be performed by the patient at sunrise, immediately after the prescribed ablutions, and while yet fasting....

The modern Hindoo variety of this ordeal consists in casting a piece of gold or a metal ring into a vessel of boiling ghee, or sesame oil, of a specified size and depth. Sacrifices are offered to the gods, a mantra, or Vedic prayer, is uttered over the oil, which is heated until it burns a fresh peepul leaf, and if the person on trial can extract the ring between his finger and thumb, without scalding himself, he is pronounced victorious. In 1783 a case is recorded as occurring at Benares, in which a Brahman accused a linen-painter of theft, and as there was no other way of settling the dispute, both parties agreed to abide by the result of the ordeal... So lately as 1867 the Bombay Gazette records a case occurring at Jamnuggur, when a camel-driver named Chakee Soomar, under whose charge a considerable sum of money was lost, was exposed by a local official to the ordeal of boiling oil... it was performed by placing a small silver ball in a brazen vessel eight inches deep, filled with boiling ghee. After various religious ceremonies, the accused plunged in his hand, and sometimes was obliged to repeat the attempt several times before he could bring out the ball. The hand was then wrapped up in tender palm leaves and examined after an interval of three days...

In almost all ages there has existed the belief that under the divine influence the human frame was able to resist the action of fire. Even the sceptic Pliny seems to share the superstition as to the families of the Hirpi, who at the annual sacrifice made to Apollo, on Mount Soracte, walked without injury over piles of burning coals, in recognition of which, by a perpetual senatus consultum, they were relieved from all public burdens. That fire applied either directly or indirectly should be used in the appeal to God was therefore natural, and the convenience with which it could be employed by means of iron rendered that the most usual form of the ordeal. As employed in Europe, under the name of judicium ferri or juise it was administered in two essentially different forms. The one (vomeres igniti, examen pedale) consisted in laying on the ground at certain distances six, nine, or in some cases twelve, red-hot ploughshares, among which the accused walked barefooted, sometimes blindfolded, when it became an ordeal of pure chance, and sometimes compelled to press each iron with his naked feet. The other and more usual form obliged the patient to carry in his hand for a certain distance, usually nine feet, a piece of red-hot iron, the weight of which was determined by law and varied with the importance of the question at issue or the magnitude of the alleged crime. Thus, among the Anglo-Saxons, in the “simple ordeal” the iron weighed one pound, in the “triple ordeal” three pounds. The latter is prescribed for incendiaries and “morth-slayers” (secret murderers), for false coining, and for plotting against the king’s life; while at a later period, in the collection known as the Laws of Henry I., we find it extended to cases of theft, robbery, arson, and felonies in general. In Sweden, for theft, the form known as trux iarn was employed, in which the accused had to carry the red-hot iron and deposit it in a hole twelve paces from the starting-point; in other cases the ordeal was called scuz iarn, when he carried it nine paces and then cast it from him. These ordeals were held on Wednesday, after fasting on bread and water on Monday and Tuesday; the hand or foot was washed, after which it was allowed to touch nothing till it came in contact with the iron; it was then wrapped up and sealed until Saturday, when it was opened in presence of the accuser and the judges. In Spain, the iron had no definite weight, but was a palm and two fingers in length, with four feet, high enough to enable the criminal to lift it conveniently. The episcopal benediction was necessary to consecrate the iron to its judicial use. A charter of 1082 shows that the Abbey of Fontanelle in Normandy had one of approved sanctity, which, through the ignorance of a monk, was applied to other purposes. The Abbot thereupon asked the Archbishop of Rouen to consecrate another, and before the latter would consent the institution had to prove its right to administer the ordeal. The wrapping up and sealing of the hand was a general custom, derived from the East, and usually after three days it was uncovered and the decision was rendered in accordance with its condition. These proceedings were accompanied by the same solemn observances which have been already described, the iron itself was duly exorcised, and the intervention of God was invoked in the name of all the manifestations of Divine clemency or wrath by the agency of fire—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the burning bush of Horeb, the destruction of Sodom, and the day of judgment. Occasionally, when several criminals were examined together, the same piece of heated iron was borne by them successively, giving a manifest advantage to the last one, who had to endure a temperature considerably less than his companions.

In India this was one of the earliest forms of the ordeal, in use even in the Vedic period, as it is referred to in the Khandogya Upanishad of the Sama Veda, where the head of a hatchet is alluded to as the implement employed for the trial—subsequently replaced by a ploughshare. In the seventh century, A. D., Hiouen Thsang reports that the red-hot iron was applied to the tongue of the accused as well as to the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet, his innocence being designated by the amount of resultant injury. This may have been a local custom, for, according to Institutes of Vishnu, closely followed by Yajnavalkya, the patient bathes and performs certain religious ceremonies; then after rubbing his hands with rice bran, seven green asvattha leaves are placed on the extended palms and bound with a thread. A red-hot iron ball or spear-head, weighing about two pounds and three-quarters, is then brought, and the judge adjures it—

“Thou, O fire, dwellest in the interior of all things like a witness. O fire, thou knowest what mortals do not comprehend.

“This man being arraigned in a cause desires to be cleared from guilt. Therefore mayest thou deliver him lawfully from this perplexity.”

The glowing ball is then placed on the hands of the accused, and with it he has to walk across seven concentric circles of cow-dung, each with a radius sixteen fingers’ breadth larger than the preceding, and throw the ball into a ninth circle, where it must burn some grass placed there for the purpose. If this be accomplished without burning the hands, he gains his cause, but the slightest injury convicts him. A minimum limit of a thousand pieces of silver was established at an early period as requisite to justify the administration of this form of ordeal in a suit. But the robust faith in the power of innocence characteristic of the earlier Hindus seems to have diminished, for subsequent recensions of the code and later lawgivers increase the protection afforded to the hand by adding to the asvattha leaves additional strata of dharba grass and barley moistened with curds, the whole bound around with seven turns of raw silk. Ali Ibrahim Khan relates a case which he witnessed at Benares in 1783 in which a man named Sancar, accused of larceny, offered to be tried in this manner.... The ordeal took place in presence of a large assemblage, when, to the surprise of every one, Sancar carried the red-hot ball through the seven circles, threw it duly into the ninth where it burnt the grass, and exhibited his hands uninjured.... Even in 1873, the Bombay Gazette states that this ordeal is still practised in Oodeypur, where a case had shortly before occurred wherein a husbandman had been obliged to prove his innocence by holding a red-hot ploughshare in his hands, duly guarded with peepul leaves, turning his face towards the sun and invoking it: “Thou Sun-God, if I am actually guilty of the crime, punish me; if not, let me escape unscathed from the ordeal!”—and in this instance, also, the accused was uninjured.

A peculiar modification of the hot-iron ordeal is employed by the aboriginal hill-tribes of Rajmahal, in the north of Bengal, when a person believes himself to be suffering from witchcraft. The Satane and the Cherreen are used to find out the witch, and then the decision is confirmed by a person representing the sufferer, who, with certain religious ceremonies, applies his tongue to a red-hot iron nine times, unless sooner burnt. A burn is considered to render the guilt of the accused indubitable, and his only appeal is to have the trial repeated in public, when, if the same result follows, he is bound either to cure the bewitched person or to suffer death if the latter dies....


The ordeal of fire, administered directly, without the intervention either of water or of iron, is one of the most ancient forms, as is shown by the allusions to it in both the Hindu Vedic writings, the adventure of Siawush, and the passage in the Antigone of Sophocles (pp. 266, 267, 270). In this, its simplest form, it may be considered the origin of the proverbial expression, “J’en mettrois la main au feu,” [Google translate: I put my hand in the fire] as an affirmation of positive belief, showing how thoroughly the whole system engrained itself in the popular mind. In India, as practised in modern times, its form approaches somewhat the ordeal of the burning ploughshares. A trench is dug nine hands in length, two spans in breadth, and one span in depth. This is filled with peepul wood, which is then set on fire, and the accused walks into it with bare feet. A more humane modification is described in the seventh century by Hiouen-Thsang as in use when the accused was too tender to undergo the trial by red-hot iron. He simply cast into the flames certain flower-buds, when, if they opened their leaves, he was acquitted; if they were burnt up, he was condemned....


In India the ordeal of cold water became simply one of endurance. The stream or pond was exorcised with the customary Mantras:—

“Thou O water dwellest in the interior of all things like a witness. O water thou knowest what mortals do not comprehend.

“This man being arraigned in a cause desires to be cleared from guilt. Therefore mayest thou deliver him lawfully from this perplexity.”

The patient stood in water up to his middle, facing the East, caught hold of the thighs of a man “free from friendship or hatred” and dived under, while simultaneously an arrow of reed without a head was shot from a bow, 106 fingers’ breadth in length, and if he could remain under water until the arrow was picked up and brought back, he gained his cause, but if any portion of him could be seen above the surface he was condemned. Yajnavalkya says this form of ordeal was only used on the Sudras, or lowest caste, while the Ayeen Akbery speaks of it as confined to the Vaisyas, or caste of husbandmen and merchants. According to the Institutes of Vishnu, it was not to be administered to the timid or those affected with lung diseases, nor to those who gained their living by the water, such as fishermen or boatmen, nor was it allowed during the winter.

Although, as we have seen, the original cold-water ordeal in India, as described by Manu, was precisely similar to the European form, inasmuch as the guilty were expected to float and the innocent to sink, and although in this shape it prevailed everywhere throughout Europe, and its tenacity of existence rendered it the last to disappear in the progress of civilization, yet it does not make its appearance in any of the earlier codes of the Barbarians. The first allusions to it occur in the ninth century, and it was then so generally regarded as a novelty that documents almost contemporaneous ascribe its invention to the popes of that period...


We have seen above that a belief existed that persons guilty of sorcery lost their specific gravity, and this superstition naturally led to the use of the balance in the effort to discover and punish the crime of witchcraft, which all experts assure us was the most difficult of all offences on which to obtain evidence. The trial by balance, however, was not a European invention. Like nearly all the other ordeals, it can be traced back to India, where, at least as early as the time of the Institutes of Vishnu, it was in common use. It is described there as reserved for women, children, old men, invalids, the blind, the lame, and the privileged Brahman caste, and not to be undertaken when a wind was blowing. After proper ceremonies the patient was placed in one scale, with an equivalent weight to counterbalance him in the other, and the nicety of the operation is shown by the prescription that the beam must have a groove with water in it, evidently for the purpose of detecting the slightest deflection either way. The accused then descended and the judge addressed the customary adjuration to the balance:—

“Thou, O balance, art called by the same name as holy law (dharma); thou, O balance, knowest what mortals do not comprehend.

“This man, arraigned in a cause, is weighed upon thee. Therefore mayest thou deliver him lawfully from this perplexity.”

Then the accused was replaced in the scale, and if he were found to be lighter than before he was acquitted. If the scale broke, the trial was to be repeated...


The ordeal of the cross (judicium crucis, stare ad crucem) was one of simple endurance and differed from all its congeners, except the duel, in being bilateral. The plaintiff and defendant, after appropriate religious ceremonies and preparation, stood with uplifted arms before a cross, while divine service was performed, victory being adjudged to the one who was able longest to maintain his position. An ancient formula for judgments obtained in this manner in cases of disputed titles to land prescribes the term of forty-two nights for the trial. It doubtless originated in the use of this exercise by the Church both as a punishment and as a penance...

In India a cognate mode is adopted by the people of Ramgur to settle questions of disputed boundaries between villages. When agreement by argument or referees is found impossible, each community chooses a champion, and the two stand with one leg buried in the earth until weariness or the bites of insects cause one of them to yield, when the territory in litigation is adjudged to the village of the victor...


The ordeal of consecrated bread or cheese (judicium offæ, panis conjuratio, pabulum probationis, the corsnæd of the Anglo-Saxons) was administered by presenting to the accused a piece of bread (generally of barley) or of cheese, about an ounce in weight,1079 over which prayers and adjurations had been pronounced. After appropriate religious ceremonies, including the communion, the morsel was eaten, the event being determined by the ability of the accused to swallow it...

In India, this ordeal is performed with a kind of rice called sathee, prepared with various incantations. The person on trial eats it, with his face to the East, and then spits upon a peepul leaf. “If the saliva is mixed with blood, or the corners of his mouth swell, or he trembles, he is declared to be a liar.” A slightly different form is described for cases in which several persons are suspected of theft. The consecrated rice is administered to them all, is chewed lightly, and then spit out upon a peepul leaf. If any one ejects it either dry or tinged with blood, he is adjudged guilty.

Based on the same theory is a ceremony performed by the pre-Aryan hill-tribes of Rajmahal, when swearing judges into office preparatory to the trial of a case. In this a pinch of salt is placed upon a tulwar or scimitar, and held over the mouth of the judge, to whom is addressed the adjuration, “If thou decidest contrary to thy judgment and falsely, may this salt be thy death!” The judge repeats the formula, and the salt is washed with water into his mouth...


From ancient times in India there has been in common use an ordeal known as cosha, consisting of water in which an idol has been washed. The priest celebrates solemn rites “to some tremendous deity,” such as Durga or the Adityas, whose image is then bathed in water. Three handfuls of this water are then drunk by the accused, and if within fourteen days he is not visited with some dreadful calamity from the act of the deity or of the king, “he must indubitably be acquitted.”...


The appeal to chance, as practised in India, bears several forms, substantially identical in principle. One mode consists in writing the words dherem (consciousness of innocence) and adherem (its opposite) on plates of silver and lead respectively, or on pieces of white and black linen, which are placed in a vessel that has never held water. The person whose cause is at stake inserts his hand and draws forth one of the pieces, when if it happens to be dherem it proves his truth. Another method is to place in a vessel a silver image of Dharma, the genius of justice, and one in iron or clay of Adharma; or else a figure of Dharma is painted on white cloth and another on black cloth, and the two are rolled together in cow-dung and thrown into a jar, when the accused is acquitted or convicted according to his fortune in drawing Dharma....


In India, the accused was required to undergo the risk of a fine if he desired to force his adversary to the ordeal; but either party could voluntarily undertake it, in which case the other was subject to a mulct if defeated.1214 The character of the defendant, however, had an important bearing upon its employment. If he had already been convicted of a crime or of perjury he was subject to it in all cases, however trifling; if, on the other hand, he was a man of unblemished reputation, he was not to be exposed to it, however important was the385 case.1215 In civil cases, however, it apparently was only employed to supplement deficient evidence.—“Evidence consists of writings, possession, and witnesses. If one of these is wanting, then one of the ordeals is valid.”...

The absence of satisfactory testimony, rendering the case one not to be solved by human means alone is frequently, as in India, alluded to as a necessary element; and indeed we may almost assert that this was so, even when not specifically mentioned, as far as regards the discretion of the tribunal to order an appeal to the judgment of God...

These regulations give to the ordeal decidedly the aspect of punishment, as it was thus inflicted on those whose guilt was so generally credited that they could not find comrades to stand up with them at the altar as partakers in their oath of denial; and this is not the only circumstance which leads us to believe that it was frequently so regarded. This notion is visible in the ancient Indian law, where, as we have seen, certain of the ordeals—those of red-hot iron, poison, and the balance—could not be employed unless the matter at stake were equivalent to the value of a thousand pieces of silver, or involved an offence against the king...

In fact, the ordeal was practically looked upon as a torture by those whose enlightenment led them to regard as a superstition the faith popularly reposed in it. An epistle which is attributed both to Stephen V. and Sylvester II. condemns the whole system on the ground that the canons forbid the extortion of confessions by heated irons and boiling water; and that a credulous belief could not be allowed to sanction that which was not permitted by the fathers....


In the Institutes of Manu there are very minute directions as to evidence, the testimony preferred being that of witnesses, whose comparative credibility is very carefully discussed, and when such evidence is not attainable, the parties, as we have seen above, are ordered to be sworn or tried by the ordeal. These principles have been transmitted unchanged to the present day.
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