Imatges de pÓgina

during the year, a new one must at once be put on. If a man has a cord of five skeins, a broken thread or two does not matter ; but a bachelor must have his one skein perfect, without even a single thread being broken, and a married person must have at least three perfect skeins every thread of which must be perfect. There are also certain kinds of defilement, as for instance touching a Pariab, that necessitate putting on a new thread and casting away the old one. In these days, perhaps even the orthodox are not so very particular as this; but still, this is as it should be, according to rule. Any replacing of the old thread by a new one must be done with certain ceremonies. Should the cord become broken, or any defilement contracted, no food can be taken until the old one is replaced by a new.

Suppose a strict orthodox Brahmin, in passing through the bazaar, accidentally comes in contact with a Pariah, for instance, or in any other way becomes ceremonially defiled, he must get a new cork. He will proceed home, and a cord is sent for; but he cannot touch the new cord himself until he has bathed, and thus purified himself from the defilement. After bathing he takes the new cord, and dipping it into water, spreads it out on two brass or copper vessels. He then touches it with some of the pigment he uses for putting the sacred mark on his forehead. After that he walks round the vessels three times, from right to left, repeating the Gāyatri prayer (vide page 42). Then he takes the cord, skein by skein, and puts it on saying the mantram or consecration prayer, used at the first investiture, repeating the same for each skein.

When he has thus put on the whole of the skeins, he takes off the old cord, repeating a mantram which is the same exactly as the above except the last line

which says :

May this old yajnopavitam become my strength and glory.

The old thread is disposed of by throwing it into a river or some other water, if there should be any at hand. For what says the ancient lawgiver :

His girdle, his leather mantle, his staff, his sacrificial cord, and his ewer, he must throw into the water, when they are worn out or broken, and receive others hallowed by mystical texts. (Manu II. 64). Should no river, or other suitable water, as a large tank, be conveniently near, the old thread is rolled up and thrown on to the top of the house ; this is to prevent its being trodden under foot, on in any other such way defiled. This completes the reinvestiture; the defiled one is now ceremonially pure, and he can proceed to perform the daily rites which must be gone through before he can partake of food.

It was mentioned at the beginning of this chapter that the thread is usually worn over the left shoulder, hanging down across the body under the right arm, and, as the orthodox Hindu is not encumbered with much by way of covering for the upper part of his person, it forms a very noticeable object. On certain occasions, however, the position of the thread is changed ; at the time of performing the annual ceremony for deceased ancestors, the position is exactly reversed. It is then placed over the right shoulder and hangs down on the left side. On certain other occasions, it is worn as a garland round the neck ; whilst at others it is placed up over the ears to prevent its being defiled. Usually when saying the Gayatri prayer, the thread is taken hold of by the thumb; and on reciting various mantrams it is used somewhat as a rosary—the worshipper winding it round the fingers to keep count of the number of times the mantram is repeated. The ancient law.giver Manu, makes various allusions to the sacred thread other than those quoted above. He speaks of the sinfulness of omitting the sacred investiture (xi. 63.); and he lays down the rule that no one must use a sacerdotal string that has been before used by another (iv. 66). He also legislates upon the respect due to the one who invests with this mark of sanctity ; classing him with father, and mother as worthy of honour.

Him by whom he was invested with the sacrificial thread, him who explained the Vēda or even a part of it, his mother, and his father, natural or spiritual, let him never oppose; nor priests, nor cows, nor persons truly devout. (iv. 162).

It will be thus seen how very important is the Yajnopavītam is to the Hindu. It is, in fact, an all important thing, being the sign of the second or spiritual birth. Without his cord the Brahmin is not a Brahmin; he is nothing better than an outcaste; he cannot perform any ceremony or partake of any food, nay, he must not even swallow his own spittle ; he may breathe, and that is about all he can do until the lost or defiled cord is duly replaced with all proper ceremony.

It may be mentioned in conclusion, that in the case of a Sanyāsi, as he has entered the fourth or last stage of the Brahmin's life, the cord is not worn,



İSH. (Pundram).

He who has no right to distinguishing marks, yet gains a subsistence by wearing false mark of distinction, takes to himself the sin committed by those who are entitled to such marks, and shall again be born from the womb of a brute animal (Manu iv. 200).

It is not our intention in this chapter to attempt anything like an explanation or description of the many and diverse Hindu Sects, with their divisions and sub-divisions, for that would require volumes rather than pages. Our purpose is rather to give a more or less popular account of the various sacred marks wbich the Hindus smear upon their faces, and other parts of their person. Anything further than this will only be so much as may appear necessary to illustrate the main subject, and present as clear a view of the same as these complicated matters will admit.

The proverbial lack of information amongst AngloIndians on these and kindred subjects, is not perhaps so much to be wondered at when one knows the ignorance on their own ritual that exists amongst the Hindus themselves. The bulk of the people follow the customs of their fathers, and of those around them, without caring to enquire the reason why or wherefore of this or that; it is mámúl (custom), and that is enough to enforce obedience to laws and regulations so very varied and peculiar. It is a treat, in one sense of the word, though perhaps trying to the patience, to get hold of a regular old fashioned orthodox Brahmin, and draw out from him any information required upon any point of every day Hinduism. The trouble is well repaid in such cases, for, though every thing elicited may not agree with

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ancient theory as described in text books on Hinduism, it is the best way of getting a practical knowledge of the ordinary things of religious life and ritual.

No mention is made in the Vedas of the Pundrams or sacred marks, but the Smrities and Purúnams take particular notice of them. Since, however, the Smrities are based upon the Vedas, it is inferred that some parts of the Vedas are now lost, and that those lost portions probably contain the injunctions on this point.

It is said that these sacred marks were originally intended to distinguish the four castes; but however that may be, it is clear that in the present day they are used to distinguish the members of the various religious sects or divisions.

All Hindus may roughly be divided into the worshippers of Vishnu and the worshippers of Siva. These however much they may differ in general, agree pretty much in some main points, and they are all good Hindus ; indeed a man may leave the one sect and join the other, if he so desires it, and can at the same time bear the cost of the necessary ceremonies. Brahma, the first person in the Hindu Triad (Trimurti), is not, as a matter of fact, worshipped at all. Vishnu and Siva, in their various forms and incarnations, are the real objects of Hindu worship.

Perhaps a more important point, even, than the gods worshipped, is the three chief schools of philosophy, of some one of which all Hindus may be said to be followers. The first is that of Advaita or non-dualism. “The Universe exists, but merely as a form of the one eternal Essence. All animate and inanimate things are but parts of the deity, and have no real existence of their own." Then comes the Dvaita doctrine, or dualism, which holds that “God is supreme, yet essentially different from the human soul, and from the material world, both of which have a real and eternally distinct existence.A third and important section hold the doctrine of Visishtādvaita, or doctrine of unity with attributes. This doctrine is like that of Advaita, holding that the Deity and the universe are one, but it goes further in

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