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THE HINDU DAILY ROUND.
“Self-love is no laudable motive, yet an exemption from self-love is not to be found in this world : on self-love is grounded the study of Scripture, and the practice of actions recom. mended in it.
Eager desire to act has its root in expectation of some advantage; and with such expectation are sacrifices performed; the rules of religious austerity and abstinence from sins are all known to arise from hope of remuneration. Not a singleact here below appears ever to be done by a man free from self-love; whatever he performs, it is wrought from his desire of reward.” (Manu II. 2, 3, 4.)
This quotation from the ancient law-giver might serve well as a text upon which to found a homily, showing the distinctive principle that underlies all Hindu religion, and comparing it with that of the religion of Christ. All Hindu religious observances, and good works, proceed from a desire to propitiate a malevolent power, and thus ward off evil, or, from an equally low and selfish motive, to obtain personal advantage-to obtain some worldly good, or to lay up a store of personal merit so as the sooner to have done with the weary round of transmigration, and attain the al of each one's aspirations, absorption into the divine essence. True the great sage does, in a verse following on the above quotation, say that should any one persist in discharging his duties without any view to their fruits, he would attain hereafter the state of the immortals; but he says this with what sounds like a saddened tone, and as though it were a foregone conclusion that such disinterested motives could never be found. One might point out how different all this is to the motive for love to God and obedience to the Divine law, as laid down in the Christian Vedas; how being constrained by the love of Christ, loving God because He first loved us, love springing from gratitude for infinite benefits already conferred (2 Cor. v. 14: 1 John iv. 19), how this is the motive held out as the one that ought to actuate the Christian, and which does, more or less, actuate numberless followers of Jesus of Nazareth, however it may be set aside by many mere professors. To follow this thought further would form a most instructive theme, but it would be somewhat beside the purpose in hand, which is to describe the daily life of an orthodox Hindu of the present day; that is, as far as his religious rites and ceremonies are concerned. In this series of chapters on Hindu life and ways, it is not, perhaps, necessary to say much by way of comment as we proceed; that is not needed, for there is so much upon the surface that must, naturally, fornish food for reflection without need of much such prompting.
Before entering upon the subject before us it would be well to mention that what we have in view is the daily life of a Brahmin. Other castes and noncastes are less particular in their religious observances, in proportion as they descend in the social scale, but all are more or less particular in their performance of some parts of the Hindu ritual, and from a description of the life of the highest, a fair idea can be gathered of the whole.
Theoretically the life of a Brahmin is divided into four stages. The first, that of being a Brahmachāri or unmarried student, is entered upon when he undergoes the ceremony of Upanayanam, or institution into the state of the twice born. Up to that time he has not been a Brahmin at all, as will be seen in the chapter on the Yagnopavītam, or sacred thread. The next stage is that of being a Gruhastha or Married householder; the third that of a Vanaprastha or anchorite; the fourth that of a Sanyāsi or hermit. The daily course of life laid down for each of these stages is widely different, but without going into that of the other three, we shall attempt to give as clear an idea as we can of the various rites and ceremonies that should be gone through every day by the strict Hindu during the second period, that of the ordinary married man. It is not to be supposed that every Brahmin in these days goes through the whole of the prescribed ritual; but there are some ceremonial observances that must be gone through by all; and any one who is anxious for the merit and good name of being strictly religious, (and there are very many such to be met with), does actually go through the daily course of life here described.
The pious Brahmin rises before daybreak; strictly according to Dharma Shāstra rule this should be two hours before sun rise. Dharma Shāstra is a written code minutely regulating the daily life of a good Hindu. His first thoughts on awaking from slumber, are directed to the deity whom he particularly wor- . ships. He will sit quietly for some time in silent contemplation, occasionally repeating a verse or two in praise of Krishna, and Rama, or Siva, as the case may be, and perhaps a prayer for divine help. He does not repeat these verses from the Vedas, as he has not yet bathed, and no words from those sacred writings must be taken within lips whilst thus unpurified. They are from the Purānas or sacred books which occupy a lower position than the Vedas. The following are specimens and it will be seen that the first two of the three quoted, are addressed to Krishna and Rama respectively, whilst the third is in praise of Siva. Vaishnavas, or worshippers of Vishnu and his various incarnations, would use the first two; but they would not use the third. Smärthas would use either or all of the three, as whilst they chiefly worship Siva they are at liberty to adore any other god of the Hindu pantheon.
बालाय नीलवपुषे नवकिंकिणीक
O thou infant, thou dark blue bodied one with tinkling
भूयोभूयो नमाम्यहं ॥
Othou deliverer from all evil,
May he whose head is adorned with the moon, Who wears as an ornament the serpent Vasukihi; May Siva be propitious, He who is expert in dancing! After this divine contemplation, he will proceed for a short walk to some secluded place outside the town or village, and upon his return, before going in doors, he will carefully wash his feet and legs and rinse out his mouth many times with water; all this is necessary before he can touch any thing or speak to any one. The next operation is to clean the teeth. This is always a very important item of the
toilet, and, if any one may judge by the evident air of satisfaction with which it is done, it must be a very enjoyable one. The Hindu does not use a brush for this purpose, as he never can again put into his mouth that which has once been so used; he looks with abhorrence upon the European way of again putting into the mouth that which has over and over again been defiled by contact with the saliva. He always uses a bit of green twig or the root of some plant; and when once a piece is used it is thrown away:
A favourite twig for this purpose is a green bit of the margosa tree (Melia Azadirachta), or the root of a plant called Apamargam or Uttarēni (Achyranthes Aspera) ; preference being given to that which is bitter and astringent. If a suitable twig cannot be found, nature's brush, the finger, is used, with powdered charcoal or ashes by way of tooth powder. It is very odd, but women are not allowed to use the twig or root for this part of their ablutions; they can only use the finger. This is a bit of petty tyranny towards the fair sex that is not easy to account for, but which is strictly in accordance with the doctrine that the woman must in every thing be inferior to the lords of creation.
Our friend next proceeds to perform his morning ablutions and worship. If there should be a river near, he will proceed thither, failing that, to a tank, and failing either of these, he goes to some well, probably the well in his own garden, or yard. He then takes his bath ; if in the river, or tank, he
goes in until the water reaches his breast or neck; if at the well, he pours the water over himself. Should he, through ill health, or old age, be unable to actually bathe in the cold morning air, he will perhaps rub himself over with a wet cloth. Before this operation, he repeats the following prayer which is an invocation to the sacred rivers :
Oh Ganges! oh Jumna!