« ÎnapoiContinuați »
Water was treated with only a little less reverence than fire itself. If the one was the son of Ormazd, the other was his royal daughter.61 Each was the special care of an Amshaspand, each had a Fravashi of its own, and each was itself an Ized. This veneration for water was the natural product of a country that often suffered from drought, where springs and brooks were precious, and rain was Heaven's best benison to earth.
The Zend books reckon fourteen different kinds of water, among which were counted the various vegetable juices and animal fluids.62 The great source of water is in heaven, whence it descends on the top of the holy Mount Albordj, and
goes forth to water the earth in a thousand streams, each of such extent as a well-mounted horseman would travel in forty days.63 This is the Hindoo fable of the Ganges, with but very slight alteration. It is forbidden to spit in water or throw any impurity into it, or to use it wastefully.64 An unclean
person may not wash in it or even drink it, except in case of thirst in dangerous sickness. If a river or pool becomes defiled by the contact of a dead body, it requires a ceremonial purification.65
According to the Ulema-i-islam, Zervana-akarana in the beginning created Fire and Water, and from the union of these two, produced Ormazd; but this is entirely at variance with the earlier books, which represent the religion in its simpler and purer form.
Haoma and Beresma. - The Zoroastrians, in their ritual, make great account of some kind of plant called haoma, or homa, the hom plant of the Parsees. The plant is crushed in a mortar, and yields an abundant juice of a yellow color, which is drunk like the wine of sacrificial feasts. To this juice, which is called parahoma, extraordinary virtues are attributed, particularly in overcoming and driving away the deevs. Possibly it possesses some real medicinal qualities. This feature of the Magian religion is almost identical with the Soma worship of India.66 And as the initial S of Sanscrit is always represented by H in Zend, the name and the reality are alike identical in both systems, and are one of the many inheritances of those primeval times ere yet Brahmins or Magi existed, and when the ancestors of Persian and Rajpoot, Mede and Mahratta, were one family. We do not know that the homa plant has been identified by Europeans, but the soma of the Hindoos, which is necessarily very closely allied, and must have been originally the same thing, is the Asclepias acida. The homa is said to grow on the tops of mountains in Gilân, Shirvân, and Mazenderân, and according to Anquetil, the Parsees of India still send from time to time one of their Priests to Kirmân for cuttings.67 It is often praised in the Avesta for the golden color of its expressed juice. Mention is also made of a white homa, a mythical plant of even greater virtues than the real one. Whosoever tastes of it becomes immortal. It is therefore the tree of life, and its juice is the immediate instrument for effecting the resurrection.68
61 Neaesh of the Sun. 62 Boundehesh. 63 Yesht of the Water. 64 Herodotus, i.-139, and Patet of Iran. 65 Vd. vi.-54, &c. 66 Windischmann of Munich. Abhandlung über den Somacultus der Arier K. B. Academie der Wissenschaften.
But, in accordance with the general rule, the haoma is is not only a tree or plant, but also an Ized, and even the most powerful and excellent of all. In this it
In this it preserves its likeness to the Indian soma, which is both a plant and a god. It is as usual often difficult to determine whether the name is used for the earthly object or the celestial genius. Haoma is also sometimes spoken of as if it were a canonized saint
of the olden time, or a deified hero, in which sense it was already known to Strabo and Plutarch.69
We may here, as well as anywhere, append the remark constantly suggested by the investigation of the present and similar subjects, that all forms of religion are monotheistic in some of their aspects and polytheistic in others, that in their earlier stages they are comparatively simple, but have a constant tendency to become overgrown by later accretions. There is perhaps no faith so rude as not to acknowledge somewhere one Original Supreme Being; and none so strict as not to admit a multitude of subordinates under some name or other. Thus Zoroastrianism, even while denying that there are more gods than one, offers a secondary adoration to a legion of notions. Brahmanism, the most overgrown and monstrous type of idolatry, has its esoteric
67 Spiegel's Avesta, ii. Einleitung, lxxii. 68 Vd. xx.-15, and Boundehesh. 69 Plut De Iside et Osiride, c. 46, Strabo Geog. xv. 3. See especially Yasna ix. in Spiegel's translation. The passage is curious, but its great length precludes its introduction into the text.
doctrine of the unity of the godhead, while Judahism, the strictest of monotheisms, in the enormous extent and complexity of its angelology, makes insignificant the millions of the Hindoo pantheon.
The Beresma - the Barsom of the Parsee - is a bundle of twigs held by the priest in his hands during the recitation of the ritual. In Kirman it is made of the boughs of the date, pomegranate, or tamarisk; twenty-three twigs in reciting the Yasna, and thirty-five for the Vispered. 70
Other Objects of Veneration. — Many long prayers, and parts of others, consist solely of invocations or enumerations of objects to which something like adoration is offered. We do not speak here of animals real or fabulous, which are held in peculiar reverence of the dog, the cow, the primal bull, the three-legged ass that stands in the mythical sea, Vouru-kasha; of the cock; of Eorosh, the celestial raven, whose voice fills the deevs with dismay; of Carshipta, the bird that published the law in the Vår of Jemshid ; or of the beast with six eyes, Eoroshaspa, that dwells in the desert, and is appointed by Ormazd chief of all the fravashis of the world — for we do not remember an instance of prayer offered to any animal. But the objects invoked are still numerous and very various. An intelligent Parsee would doubtless say in explanation that the Creator is known only by his works, and that the purpose here was to honor the Deity by naming with reverence all the principal manifestations of his power and goodness. The character of the things invoked often precludes the possibility of mistaking them for gods, or even angels, or genii of any kind. Their number is large. As many as sixty are sometimes named in one prayer. Besides those already specified, we find the sun, moon and stars, heaven, earth and paradise, the swift winds, all trees and waters, the hours of the day and the annual feasts, all good actions, the sections of the law and of the liturgy, faith and morals, the health of man and beast, the flowing of water and the flying of birds. It is very clear that everything here named cannot be regarded as a god.71
The Dog.– Nothing could exceed the regard which the Persians had for the dog. This doubtless originated in the real value of the animal for guarding the house and the
70 Anquetil Zenday. ii.-532 71 Yasna xvii., Xxxviii., xxxix., xl.
flock, and for hunting; and varieties adapted to each of these purposes are often mentioned in the Vendidad. But this just appreciation readily passed into a notional and superstitious regard, which showed itself in a great variety of ways. The Vendidad condescends to treat in great detail of the qualities and proper treatment of dogs.72 The expiation required by the law of the Mazdayasnas for a wound dangerous to life inflicted on a man was ninety stripes ; 73 but if the same violence was done to a dog belonging to the fold, the penalty was eight hundred.74 Even to give such a dog bad victuals, was a sin requiring an expiation of two hundred stripes. Still greater is the sin of giving a dog a bone too hard to gnaw, or broth so hot as to scald his tongue, for the utility of the beast is in his tongue and teeth.75 There are certain religious ceremonies, for the due performance of which two priests are regularly required, but where, if only one can be had, a dog may be substituted for the other.76 Nay, there are rites of a very solemn and important character, of which we shall speak hereafter, where only a dog can officiate, and no number of priests could probably supply his place. And in the regulations respecting the the defilement contracted by the contact of a dead body, which occupy so large a space in the Vendidad, the corpse is usually defined as that of a dog or a man.
Quite in conformity with the general rule in such cases, there are mythical and fabulous dogs. Two of these are posted at- the bridge Chinevad to guard the souls of the righteous on their approach to paradise. There is also a “ water dog” held in far greater veneration than even the domestic animal. It is not very certain whether this is a real or imaginary creature;. but it has been not unreasonably conjectured that the beaver is intended. Almost the labor of a lifetime would be required to expiate the sin of killing one of these rare and venerated animals. It would seem, too, although the doctrine is not stated with great clearness, that after death the canine soul goes to its proper reward in the dwelling of the water-dog ; and, by some kind of metempsychosis, comes to animate the body of its amphibious relative.77
[To be continued.] 72 Vendidad, xiii. 73 Id. iv.-108. 74 Id. xiii.-38.75 Id. x9.-10. 76 Anquetil Zendav. ii.-583. 77 Vd. xiij.-166.
The Test of Legitimate Amusements.
We approach the subject of amusements from a sense of duty, and yet with a feeling of reluctance. At a time when the propriety of special forms of recreation are being somewhat generally discussed, and many of the Christian sects are defining their several positions with respect to them, we should be false to the responsibilities of our position, did we wholly evade the subject; and still we are reluctant to give expression to views which may perhaps give pain to brethren whose favorable opinion we highly prize, but from whom we are obliged to differ on certain sensitive points involved in the general question of legitimate amusements. Another ground of reluctance we find in the fear that we may not be able to come at the subject without bias. It is not an easy matter to discuss a much-mooted question, whether of theory or practice, upon its intrinsic merits alone. Yet this we are anxious to do. Looking at the subject as far as we may be able to do without any thought of personal interest in the issue, we wish to arrive at a simple criterion by which all forms of amusement may be put to the test, and the safe and legitimate readily distinguished from the dangerous and illegitimate. Is it an erroneous impression on our part that our subject is one for which it is difficult to secure a candid hearing? Is there any other subject respecting which people - on what we may regard as both sides of the general question — are so ready to take counsel of their prejudices or their wishes, rather than of their reason ? and respecting which the answer is so likely to be made prior to the argument — made, it may be, in a spirit of impatience, savoring too often of that authoritative manner which claims the right to decide without much regard to the argument in the case ? Let us hope that whatever may be our prominent inclination, - whether in favor of the more or the less rigid view of the subject, - we may at least be willing to look directly at the intrinsic merits of the case, and seek the only authoritative test of the proper and the improper.
Let us not mistake, in the outset, in regard to what are