The Brāhmans of Southern India are divided into a number of sections, differing in language, manners and customs. As regards their origin, the current belief is that they sprang from the mouth of Brahma. In support thereof, the following verse from the Purusha Sūktha (hymn of the primaeval male) of the Rig Veda is quoted : From the face of Prajāpathi (Viratpurusha) came the Brāhmans ; from the arms arose the Kshatriyas ; from the thighs sprang the Vaisyas ; and from the feet the Sūdras. Mention of the fourfold division of the Hindu castes is also made in other Vedas, and in Ithihāsas and Purānas.
The Brāhmans fall into three groups, following the three Vedas or Sākas, Rig, Yajus, and Sāmam. This threefold division is, however, recognised only for ceremonial purposes. For marriage and social purposes, the divisions based on language and locality are practically more operative. In the matter of the more important religious rites, the Brāhmans of Southern India, as elsewhere, closely follow their own Vedas. Every Brāhman belongs to one or other of the numerous gotras [S. 268] mentioned in Pravara and Gotra Kandams. All the religious rites are performed according to the Grihya Sūtras (ritual books) pertaining to their Sāka or Veda. Of these, there are eight kinds now in vogue, viz. :
All Brāhmans claim descent from one or more of the following seven Rishis :
According to some, the Rishis are
Under these Rishis are included eighteen ganams, and under each ganam there are a number of gotras, amounting in all to about 230. Every Brāhman is expected to salute his superiors by repeating the Abhivādhanam (salutation) which contains his lineage. As an example, the following may be given :
Daily, at the close of the Sandhya prayers, this Abhivādhanam formula should be repeated by every Brāhman.
Taking the Brāhmans as a whole, it is customary to group them in two main divisions, the Pancha Drāvidas and Pancha Gaudas. The Pancha Drāvidas are pure vegetarians, whereas the Pancha Gaudas need not abstain from meat and fish, though some, who live amidst the Pancha Drāvidas, do so. Other differences will be noted in connection with Oriya Brāhmans, who belong to the [S. 269] Pancha Gauda section. In South India, all Brāhmans, except those who speak the Oriya and Konkani languages, are Pancha Drāvidas, who are divided into five sections, viz. :
The Tulu-speaking Shivalli Brāhmans are included among the Carnātakas ; the Pattar and Nambūtiri Brāhmans (see Nambūtiri) among the Drāvidas proper.
From a religious point of view, the Brāhmans are either Saivites or Vaishnavites. The Saivites are either Saivites proper, or Smarthas. The Smarthas believe that the soul of man is only a portion of the infinite spirit (ātman), and that it is capable of becoming absorbed into the ātman. They recognise the Trimurtis, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva as separate gods, but only as equal manifestations of the supreme spirit, and that, in the end, these are to be absorbed into the infinite spirit, and so disappear. Saivas, on the other hand, do not recognise the Trimurtis, and believe only in one god, Siva, who is self-existent, and not liable to lose his personality. Of Vaishnavites there are three kinds, viz., those who are the followers of Chaitanya, Rāmānuja, and Mādhvāchārya. Like the Smarthas, the Vaishnavites recognise Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, but Vishnu is supposed to be the chief god, to whom the others are subordinate.
"Vaishnavas," Monier Williams writes,* "are believers in the one personal god Vishnu, not only as the preserver, but as above every other god, including Siva. [S. 270] It should be noted, too, that both Saivites and Vaishnavas agree in attributing an essential form of qualities to the Supreme Being. Their one god, in fact, exists in an eternal body, which is antecedent to his earthly incarnations, and survives all such incarnations." He adds that "it cannot be doubted that one great conservative element of Hinduism is the many sidedness of Vaishnavism. For Vaishnavism is, like Buddhism, the most tolerant of systems. It is always ready to accommodate itself to other creeds, and delights in appropriating to itself the religious idea of all the nations of the world. It admits of every form of internal development. It has no organised hierarchy under one supreme head, but it may have any number of separate associations under separate leaders, who are ever banding themselves together for the extension of spiritual supremacy over ever increasing masses of population."
The Oriya Brāhmans, who follow the creed of Chaitanya, are called Paramarthos, and are confined to the Ganjam district. There is no objection to intermarriage between Smartha and Paramartho Oriya Brāhmans.
Sri Vaishnavas (who put on the nāmam as a sectarian mark) and Mādhvas are exclusive as regards intermarriage, but the Mādhvas have no objection to taking meals with, and at the houses of Smarthas, whereas Sri Vaishnavas object to doing so.
According to the Sūtras, a Brāhman has to go through the following samskāras (rites) :
[S. 271] These rites are supposed to purify the body and spirit from the taint transmitted through the womb of the mother, but all of them are not at the present day performed at the proper time, and in regular order. The Garbhādhāna, or impregnation ceremony, should, according to the Grihya Sūtras, be performed on the fourth day of the marriage ceremonies. But, as the bride is a young girl, it is omitted, or Vedic texts are repeated. The Garbhādhāna ceremony is performed, after the girl has attained puberty. At the time of consummation or Ritu Sānthi, the following verse, is repeated : "Let all pervading Vishnu prepare her womb ; let the Creator shape its forms ; let Prajāpathi be the impregnator ; let the Creator give the embryo."
Pumsavanam and Sīmantam are two ceremonies, which are performed together during the seventh or ninth month of the first pregnancy, though, according to the Grihya Sūtras, the former should be performed in the third month. At the Pumsavanam, or male producing Ceremony, the pregnant woman fasts, and her husband squeezes into her right nostril a little juice from the fruit and twig of the ālam tree (Ficus bengalensis), saying "Thou art a male child." The twig selected should be one pointing, east or north ; with two fruits looking like testicles. The twig is placed on a grinding-stone, and a girl, who has not attained puberty, is asked to pound it. The pulp is wrapped in a new silk cloth, and squeezed to express the juice. On the conclusion of the Pumsavanam, the Sīmantam, or parting the pregnant woman's hair, is gone through. After oblations in the sacred fire (homam), the woman's husband takes a porcupine quill, to which three blades of dharbha grass, and a twig with fruits of the aththi tree (Ficus glomerata) are attached, [S. 272] and passes it over the woman's head from before backwards, parting the hair.
The Jātakarmam, Nāmakaranam, Annaprāsanam, and Chaulam rites are ordinarily celebrated, one after the other, on the Upanayanam day. Jātakarmam consists in smearing some ghī (clarified butter) and honey on the tongue of the baby, and repeating the following verses from the Rig Veda : "Oh ! long lived one, mayst thou live a hundred years in this world, protected by the gods. Become firm as a rock, firm as an axe, pure as gold. Thou art the Veda called a son ; live thou a hundred years. May Indra bestow on thee his best treasures. May Sāvitri, may Sarasvati, may the Asvins grant thee wisdom."
At the Nāmakaranam, or naming ceremony, the parents of the child pronounce its name close to its ear, and repeat the Vedic prayer to Indra and Agni "May Indra give you lustre, and Indra semen, wisdom, and children."
The Annaprāsanam, or food-giving ceremony, should be performed during the sixth month after birth. A little solid food is put into the child's mouth, and the following Vedic verses are repeated : "Agni who lives on plants, Soma who lives on soma juice, Brāhmans who live on the Vedas, and Devatas who live on amartam (ambrosia), may they bless you. As the earth gives food to plants and water, so I give you this food. May these waters and plants give you prosperity and health."
At the Chaulam, or tonsure ceremony, the child is seated in his mother's lap. The father, taking a few blades of dharbha grass in his hand, sprinkles water over the child's head. Seven times he inserts blades of dharbha in the hair of the head (three blades each time), saying " Oh ! divine grass, protect him." He [S. 273] then cuts off the tips of the blades, and throws them away. The father is expected, according to the Grihya Sūtras, to shave or cut the child's hair. At the present day, however, the barber is called in, and shaves the head, leaving one lock or more according to local custom.
The Upanayana, or leading a boy to his guru or spiritual teacher, is essentially a ceremony of initiation. From an orthodox point of view, this ceremony should be performed before the age of eight years, but in practice it is deferred even up to the age of seventeen. It usually commences with the arrangement of seed-pans containing nine kinds of grain, and tying a thread or pratisaram on the boy's wrist. After this, the Abyudayam, or invocation of ancestors, is gone through. The boy sits in front of the sacred fire, and his father, or some other person, sits by his side, to help him in the ceremonial and act the part of guru. He places over the boy's head blades of dharbha grass so that the tips are towards the east, south, west, and north. The tips are cut off, and the following Vedic verses are repeated : "Please permit me to shave the head of this boy with the knife used by the sun for shaving Soma. He is to be shaved, because it will bring him long life and old age. May the boy become great, and not die a premature death. May he outshine all in glory." The boy is then shaved by a barber, and more Vedic verses are repeated, which run as follows : "You are shaving with a sharp razor, so that this shaving may enable him to live long. Brihaspathi, Sūrya, and Agni shaved the hair of the head of Varuna, and placed the hairs in the middle regions of the sky, earth, and in swarga. I shall place the hairs removed by me at the foot of the audambara tree (Ficus glomerata), or in the clumps of dharbha grass." The boy then [S. 274] bathes, and comes near the sacred fire. After ghī has been poured thereon, a bundle of palāsa (Butea frondosa) sticks is given to him, and he puts it on the fire after repeating certain Vedic riks. A grinding-stone is placed on one side of the fire, and the boy treads on it, while the following verse is repeated: "Tread on this stone, and may you be as firm as it is. May you subdue thy enemies." A new cloth is given to him, which he puts on. The following verses are then repeated : "Oh ! cloth, Revathi and others have spun, woven, spread out, and put skirts on both sides of you. May these goddesses clothe the boy with long life. Blessed with life, put on this cloth. Dress the boy with this cloth. By wearing it, let him attain a hundred years of age. May his life be extended. Such a garment as this was given to Soma by Brihaspathi to wear. Mayst thou reach old age. Put on this cloth. Be a protector to all people. May you live a hundred years with full vigour. May you have plenty of wealth." After the boy has put on the cloth, the following is repeated : "You have put on this cloth for the sake of blessing. You have become the protector of your friends. Live a hundred years. A noble man, blessed with life, mayst thou obtain wealth." A girdle (minji) spun from grass is wound thrice round the boy's body, and tied with a knot opposite the navel, or to the left of it. The following verses are repeated: "This blessed girdle, the friend of the gods, has come to us to remove our sins, to purify and protect us, bring strength to us by the power of exhalation and inhalation. Protect, Oh ! girdle, our wealth and meditation. Destroy our enemies, and guard us on all the four sides." A small piece of deer-skin is next tied on to the sacred thread, which has been put on the boy soon after the shaving rite. The following verses [S. 275] are repeated : "Oh ! skin which is full of lustre because Mitra sees you, full of glory and one that is not fit for wicked people, I am now putting you on. May Aditi tuck up thy garment. Thou mayst read Vedas, and grow wise. Thou mayst not forget what you have read. Mayst thou become holy and glorious." The boy seats himself next to the guru, and close to the sacred fire, and repeats the following : "I have come near the spiritual teacher, my Āchārya. May the teacher and myself become prosperous. May I also complete my Vedic studies properly, and let me be blessed with a married life after the study." The guru sprinkles water over the boy three times, and, taking hold of his hand, says: "Agni, Soman, Savitha, Sarasvati, Pūsha, Āryaman, Amsuhu, Bagadevata, and Mitra have seized thy hand. They have taken you over to them, and you have become friends." Then he hands over the boy to the gods by repeating : "We give you to Agni, Soman, Savitha, Sarasvati, Mrityu, Yaman, Gadhan, Andhakan, Abhaya, Oshadhi, Prithvi, and Vaisvanara. With the permission of Sūrya, I am allowing you to approach me. Oh ! boy, may you have children full of lustre, and capable of becoming heroes." The boy then repeats the following : "I am come to be a student. You that have obtained permission from the Sūrya, please take me." The teacher asks, "Who are you ? What is your name ?" The boy gives out his name, and the teacher enquires of him what kind of Brahmachāri he is. The boy replies that he is a Brahmachāri for Ātman, and repeats the following : " Oh ! sun, the lord of all ways, through your grace I am about to begin my studies, which will do good to me." The teacher and the boy take their seats on dharbha grass, and say : "Oh ! dharbha, a giver of royal power, a teacher's seat, may I not withdraw [S. 276] from thee." The boy then pours some ghī on to the sacred fire. A cloth is thrown over both the teacher and the boy, and the latter asks the former to recite the Sāvitri. The following Gāyatri is repeated into his ear : "Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine vivifier. May he illumine our understandings." The boy touches his own upper lip with his right hand, and says : "Oh ! Prāna, I have become illumined, having heard the Sāvitri. Protect and guard this wealth that has entered me, the Gāyatri or Sāvitri." He then takes the palāsa staff, and the teacher says : "Up with life. Oh ! sun, this is thy son. I give him in charge to thee." The boy then worships the sun thus : "That bright eye created by the gods, which rises in the east, may we see it a hundred autumns ; may we live a hundred autumns ; may we rejoice a hundred autumns ; may we live a hundred autumns ; may we rejoice a hundred autumns ; may we be glad a hundred autumns ; may we prosper a hundred autumns ; may we speak a hundred autumns ; may we live undecaying a hundred autumns ; and may we long see the sun." The ceremonial is brought to a close on the first day by the boy begging rice from his mother and other female relations. A basket, filled with rice, is placed in a pandal (booth), and the boy stands near it, repeating "Please give me alms." Each woman pours some rice into a tray which he carries, and presents him with some money and betel leaves. The rice is placed in the basket. On the second and third days, the boy puts palāsa sticks into the sacred fire, and pours ghī thereon. On the fourth day, the new cloth is given to the teacher.
The wearing of the sacred thread is a sign that the boy has gone through the upanayanam ceremony. "the son of Brāhman parents is not reckoned to be a Brāhman (i.e., he may not take part in religious ceremonies) until he has gone through the ceremony of assuming the sacred thread ; and I have heard Brāhman boys wearing the thread taunting a boy of Brāhman birth, and calling him a Sūdra, because he had not yet assumed the holy thread." The thread is composed of three threads of cotton secured together in one spot by a sacred knot of peculiar construction, called Brahma Grandhi. The knot in the sacred thread worn by Vaishnava Brāhmans is called Vishnu Grandhi, and that in the thread of Smarthas Rudra Grandhi. In the preparation of the thread, cotton sold in the bazaar may not be used ; the bolls ought to be secured direct from the plant. Here and there Brāhmans may be seen in villages, removing the cotton from the bolls, and preparing it into pads for spinning into thread. Those who teach students the Vedas may be seen spinning the thread from these pads. The spinning rod is a thin piece of bamboo stick weighted with a lead or soapstone disc about half an inch in diameter. The thin thread is kept in stock, and twisted into the sacred thread whenever it is required. Three or more people usually take part in the twisting process, during which they chant Vedic verses. In the Srutis and Sūtras, it is enjoined that the Yagnopavita (sacred thread) is to be put on only on occasions of sacrifice. It ought really to be a vestment, and is a symbolical representation thereof. Ordinarily the thread is worn over the left shoulder in the position called Upavītham. In ceremonies connected with the dead, however, it is worn over the right shoulder in the [S. 278] position called prāchinavīthi. At the time of worshipping Rishis and Ganas, the thread should be over both shoulders and round the neck in the position called nivīthi. The grass girdle and deer-skin worn by a youth at the Upanayanam ceremony are removed on the fifth day, or, among the orthodox, kept on until the first Upakarmam day. They, and the palāsa stick, should be retained by the Brahmachāri till the close of his studentship. Nambūtiri Brāhman lads of eight or nine years old, who have gone through the Upanayanam ceremony, always carry with them the palāsa stick, and wear the grass girdle, and, in addition to the sacred thread, a thin strip of deer-skin in length equal to the thread. Round the waist he wears a narrow strip of cloth (kaupīnam) passed between the legs. He may cover his breast and abdomen with a cloth thrown over his body. He is thus clad until his marriage, or at least until he has concluded the study of the Vedas.
The marriage rites in vogue at the present day resemble those of Vedic times in all essential particulars. All sections of Brāhmans closely follow the Grihya Sūtras relating to their sākha. The marriage ceremonies commence with the Nischyathartham or betrothal ceremony. The bridegroom being seated on a plank amidst a number of Brāhmans, Vedic verses are repeated, and, after the bestowal of blessings, the bride's father proclaims that he intends giving his daughter in marriage to the bridegroom, and that he may come for the purpose after the completion of the Vratam ceremony. For this ceremony, the bridegroom, after being shaved, dresses up. Meanwhile, the Brāhmans who have been invited assemble. The bridegroom sits on the marriage dais, and, after repeating certain Vedic verses, says : "With [S. 279] the permission of all assembled, let me begin the Vratams Prājāpathyam, Soumyam, Āgneyam, and Vaiswadevam, and let me also close them." All the Vratams should be performed long before the marriage. In practice, however, this is not done, so the bridegroom performs an expiatory ceremony, to make up for the omission. This consists in offering oblations of ghī, and giving presents of money to a few Brāhmans. The bridegroom is helped throughout the Vratam ceremonies by a spiritual teacher or guru, who is usually his father or a near relation. The guru sprinkles water over the bridegroom's body, and tells him to go on with kāndarishi tharpanam (offerings of water, gingelly, and rice, as an oblation to Rishis). A small copper or silver vessel is placed on a leaf to the north-east of the sacred fire, and is made to represent Varuna. A new cloth is placed round the vessel. The various Vratams mentioned are gone through rapidly, and consist of offerings of ghī through fire to the various Devatas and Pitris. The Nāndhi Srādh, or memorial service to ancestors, is then performed. The bridegroom next dresses up as a married man, and proceeds on a mock pilgrimage to a distant place. This is called Paradesa Pravesam (going to a foreign place), or Kāsiyatra (pilgrimage to Benares). It is a remnant of the Snāthakarma rite, whereat a Brahmachāri, or student, leaves his spiritual teacher's house at the close of his studies, performs a ceremony of ablution, and becomes an initiated householder or Snāthaka. The bridegroom carries with him an umbrella, a fan, and a bundle containing some rice, cocoanut, and areca-nut. He usually goes eastward. His future father-in-law meets him. and brings him to the house at which the marriage is to be celebrated. As soon as he has arrived there, the bride is brought, dressed up and [S. 280] decorated in finery. The bridal pair are taken up on the shoulders of their maternal uncles, who dance about for a short time. Whenever they meet, the bride and bridegroom exchange garlands (mālaimāththal). The couple then sit on a swing within the pandal (booth), and songs are sung. A few married women go round them three times, carrying water, a light, fruits, and betel, in a tray. The pair are conducted into the house, and are seated on the marriage dais. The marriage, or Vivāham, is then commenced. A purohit (priest) repeats certain Vedic texts as a blessing, and says : " Bless this couple of .... gotras, the son and daughter of . . . . , grandchildren of . . . ., now about to be married." At this stage, the gotras of the contracting couple must be pronounced distinctly, so as to ensure that they are not among the prohibited degrees. The bridal couple must belong to different gotras. The bridegroom next says that he is about to commence the worship of Visvaksena if he is a Vaishnavite, or Ganapathi if he is a Saivite, for the successful termination of the marriage ceremonies. The Ankurarpana (seed-pan) ceremony is then proceeded with. Five earthenware pans are procured, and, after being purified by the sprinkling of punyāham water over them, are arranged in the form of a square. Four of the pans are placed at the four cardinal points, east, west, north, and south, and the remaining pot is set down in the centre of the square. The pan to the east represents Indra, the one to the west Varuna, the one to the south Yama, and the one to the north Soman. While water is being sprinkled over the pans, the following synonyms for each of these gods are repeated :
Nine kinds of grains soaked in water are placed in the seed-pans. These grains are Dolichos Lablab (two varieties), Phaseolus Mungo (two varieties), Oryza saliva, Cicer Arietinum, Cajanus indicus, Eleusine Coracana, and Vigna Catiang. The tying of the wrist-thread (pratisaram) is next proceeded with. Two cotton threads are laid on a vessel representing Varuna. After the recitation of Vedic verses, the bridegroom takes one of the threads, and, dipping it in turmeric paste, holds it with his left thumb, smears some of the paste on it with his right thumb and forefinger, and ties it on the left wrist of the bride. The purohit ties the other thread on the right wrist of the bridegroom, who, facing the assembly, says "I am going to take the bride." He then recites the following Vedic verse : "Go to my future father-in-law with due precautions, and mingle with the members of his family. This marriage is sure to be pleasing to Indra, because he gets oblations of food, etc., after the marriage. May your path be smooth and free from thorns. May Sūrya and Bhaga promote our dhmpathyam (companionship)."
The purohit again proclaims the marriage, and the gotras and names of three generations are repeated. Those assembled then bless the couple. The bride's father says that he is prepared to give his daughter in marriage to the bridegroom, who states that he accepts her. The father of the bride washes the feet of the bridegroom placed on a tray with milk and water. The bridegroom then washes the feet of the bride's father. The bride sits in her father's lap, and her mother stands at her side. The father, repeating the names of the bridegroom's ancestors for three generations, says [S. 282] that he is giving his daughter to him. He places the hand of the bride on that of the bridegroom, and both he and the bride's mother pour water over the united hands of the contracting couple. The following sloka is repeated : "I am giving you a virgin decorated with jewels, to enable me to obtain religious merit." The bridegroom takes the bride by the hand, and both take their seats in front of the sacred fire. This part of the ceremonial is called dhāre (pouring of water). Much importance is attached to it by Tulu Brāhmans. Among Non- Brāhman castes in South Canara, it forms the binding portion of the marriage ceremony. After the pouring of ghī as an oblation, the bridegroom throws down a few twigs of dharbha grass, and repeats the formula : "Oh ! dharbha, thou art capable of giving royal powers, and the teacher's seat. May I not be separated from thee." Then the bride's father, giving a vessel of water, says "Here is Arghya water." The bridegroom receives it with the formula : "May this water destroy my enemies. May brilliancy, energy, strength, life, renown, glory, splendour, and power dwell in me." Once again the bride's father washes the feet of the bridegroom, who salutes his father-in-law, saying "Oh ! water, unite me with fame, splendour, and milk. Make me beloved by all creatures, the lord of cattle. May fame, heroism, and energy dwell in me." The bride's father pours some water from a vessel over the hand of the bridegroom, who says "To the ocean I send you, the imperishable waters ; go back to your source. May I not suffer loss in my offspring. May my sap not be shed." A mixture of honey, plantain fruit, and ghī, is given to the bridegroom by the bride's father with the words "Ayam Madhuparko" (honey mixture). Receiving it, the bridegroom mutters the [S. 283] following : "What is the honeyed, highest form of honey which consists in the enjoyment of food ; by that honeyed highest form of honey, may I become highest, honeyed, an enjoyer of food." He partakes three times of the mixture, and says : "I eat thee for the sake of brilliancy, luck, glory, power, and the enjoyment of food." Then the bride's father gives a cocoanut to the bridegroom, saying "Gauhu" (cow). The bridegroom receives it with the words "Oh ! cow, destroy my sin, and that of my father-in-law." According to the Grihya Sūtras, a cow should be presented to the bridegroom, to be cooked or preserved. Next a plantain fruit is given to the bridegroom, who, after eating a small portion of it, hands it to the bride. The bride sits on a heap or bundle of paddy (unhusked rice), and the bridegroom says "Oh ! Varuna, bless her with wealth. May there be no ill-feeling between herself, her brothers and sisters. Oh ! Brihaspathi, bless her that she may not lose her husband. Oh! Indra, bless her to be fertile. Oh ! Savitha, bless her that she may be happy in all respects. Oh ! girl, be gentle-eyed and friendly to me. Let your look be of such a nature as not to kill your husband. Be kind to me, and to my brothers.* May you shine with lustre, and be of good repute. Live long, and bear living children." The pair are then seated, and the bridegroom, taking a blade of dharbha grass, passes it between the eyebrows of the bride, and throws it behind her, saying "With this dharbha grass I remove the evil influence of any bad mark thou mayst possess, which is likely to cause widowhood." [Certain marks or curls (suli) forebode prosperity, and others misery to a family into which a girl enters [S. 284] by marriage. And, when a wealthy Hindu meditates purchasing a horse, he looks to the presence or absence of certain marks on particular parts of the body, and thereby forms a judgment of the temper and qualities of the animal.] The bridegroom then repeats the following : "Now they ought to rejoice, and not cry. They have arranged our union to bring happiness to both of us. In view of the happiness we are to enjoy hereafter, they should be glad. This is a fitting occasion for rejoicing." Four Brāhmans next bring water, and the bridegroom receives it, saying : "May the evil qualities of this water disappear ; may it increase. Let the Brāhmans bring water for the bath, and may it bring long life and children to her." A bundle of paddy, or a basket filled therewith, is brought to the pandal. The bride sits on the paddy, and a ring of dharbha grass is placed on her head. The bridegroom repeats the formula "Blessed by the Sūrya, sit round the sacred fire, and look at the dharbha ring, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law." A yoke is then brought, one end of which is placed on the head of the bride above the ring, and the following formula is repeated: "Oh! Indra, cleanse and purify this girl, just as you did in the case of Abhala, by pouring water through three holes before marrying her." Abhala was an ugly woman, who wished to marry Indra. To attain this end, she did penance for a long time, and, meeting Indra, requested him to fulfil her desire. Indra made her his wife, after transforming her into a beautiful woman by sprinkling water over her through the holes in the wheels of the car which was his vehicle. Into the hole of the yoke a gold coin, or the tāli (marriage badge), is dropped, with the words " May this gold prove a blessing to you. May the yoke, the hole of the yoke, bring happiness [S. 285] to you. May we be blessed to unite your body with mine." Then the bridegroom, sprinkling water over the yoke and coin, says : "May you become purified by the sun through this purificatory water. May this water, which is the cause of thunder and lightning, bring happiness to you. Oh ! girl, may this water give you health and long life. A new and costly silk cloth (kūrai), purchased by the bridegroom, is given to the bride, and the bridegroom says : "Oh ! Indra, listen to my prayers ; accept them, and fulfil my desires." The bride puts on the cloth, with the assistance of the bridegroom's sister, and sits on her father's lap. The bridegroom, taking up the tāli, ties it by the string on the bride's neck, saying : "Oh ! girl, I am tying the tli to secure religious merit." This is not a Vedic verse, and this part of the ceremony is not included in the Grihya Sūtras. All the Brāhmans assembled bless the couple by throwing rice over their heads. A dharbha waist-cord is passed round the waist of the bride, and the following is repeated : "This girl is gazing at Agni, wishing for health, wealth, strength and children. I am binding her for her good." The bridegroom then holds the hand of the bride, and both go to the sacred fire, where the former says : "Let Sūrya lead to Agni, and may you obtain permission from the Aswins to do so. Go with me to my house. Be my wife, and the mistress of my house. Instruct and help me in the performance of sacrifices." After offerings of ghī in the sacred fire, the bridegroom says : "Soma was your husband ; Gandharva knew thee next ; Agni was your third husband. I, son of man, am your fourth husband. Soma gave you to Gandharva, and Gandharva gave you to Agni, who gave to me with progeny and wealth." The bridegroom takes hold of the bride's [S. 286] right wrist, and, pressing on the fingers, passes his hand over the united fingers three times. This is called Pānigrahanam. To the Nambūtiri Brāhman this is a very important item, being the binding part of the marriage ceremonial. Some years ago, at a village near Chalakkudi in the Cochin State, a Nambūtiri refused to accept a girl as his bride, because the purohit inadvertently grasped her fingers, to show how it ought to be done at the time of the marriage ceremony. The purohit had to marry the girl himself. The next item in the ceremonial is Sapthapathi, or the taking of the seven steps. This is considered as the most binding portion thereof. The bridegroom lifts the left foot of the bride seven times, repeating the following : "One step for sap, may Vishnu go after thee. Two steps for juice, may Vishnu go after thee. Three steps for vows, may Vishnu go after thee. Four steps for comfort, may Vishnu go after thee. Five steps for cattle, may Vishnu go after thee. Six steps for the prospering of wealth, may Vishnu go after thee. Seven steps for the sevenfold hotriship,** may Vishnu go after thee. With seven steps we have become companions. May I attain to friendship with thee. May I not be separated from thy friendship. Mayst thou not be separated from my friendship. Let us be united ; let us always take counsel together with good hearts and mutual love. May we grow in strength and prosperity together. Now we are one in minds, deeds, and desires. Thou art Rik, I am Sāmam ; I am the sky, thou art the earth ; I am the semen, thou art the bearer ; I am the mind, thou art the tongue. Follow me faithfully, that we may have wealth and children together. Come thou of sweet [S. 287 speech." The bridegroom then does homam, repeating the following : "We are offering oblations to Soma, Gandharva, and Agni. This girl has just passed her virginity. Make her leave her father's house. Bless her to remain fixed in her husband's house. May she have a good son by your blessing. Cause her to beget ten children, and I shall be the eleventh child. Oh ! Agni, bless her with children, and make them long-lived. Oh ! Varuna, I pray to you for the same thing. May this woman be freed from the sorrow arising out of sterility, and be blessed by Garhapathyagni. May she have a number of children in her, and become the mother of many living children. Oh ! girl, may your house never know lamentations during nights caused by deaths. May you live long and happy with your husband and children. May the sky protect thy back ; may Vāyu strengthen your thighs ; and the Ashwins your breast. May Savitri look after thy suckling sons. Until the garment is put on, may Brihaspathi guard them, and the Viswedevas afterwards. Oh ! Varuna, make me strong and healthy. Do not steal away years from our ages. All those who offer oblations pray for the same. Oh ! you all-pervading Agni, pacify Varuna ; you who blaze forth into flames to receive oblations, be friendly towards us. Be near us, and protect us. Receive, and be satisfied with our oblations. Make us prosperous. We are always thinking of you. Take our oblations to the several devatas, and give us medicine." The bride next treads on a stone, and the bridegroom says : "Oh ! girl, tread on this stone. Be firm like it. Destroy those who seek to do thee harm. Overcome thy enemies." Some fried paddy is put in the sacred fire, and the bridegroom repeats the following : "Oh ! Agni, I am offering the fried grains, so that this girl may be [S. 288] blessed with long life. Oh ! Agni, give me my wife with children, just as in olden days you were given Sūryayi with wealth. Oh ! Agni, bless my wife with lustre and longevity. Also bless her husband with long life, that she may live happily. Oh ! Agni, help us to overcome our enemies." Again the bride treads on the stone, and the bridegroom says : "Oh ! girl, tread on this stone, and be firm like it. Destroy those who seek to do thee harm. Overcome thy enemies." This is followed by the offering of fried grain with the following formula : "The virgins prayed to Sūrya and Agni to secure husbands, and they were at once granted their boons. Such an Agni is now being propitiated by offerings of fried paddy. Let him make the bride leave her father's house." For the third time, the bride treads on the stone, and fried paddy is offered with the formula : "Oh ! Agni, thou art the giver of life, and receiver of oblations. Oblations of ghī are now offered to you. Bless the pair to be of one mind." The dharbha girdle is removed from the bride's waist, with the verse : "I am loosening you from the bondage of Varuna. I am now removing the thread with which Sūrya bound you." Those assembled then disperse. Towards evening, Brāhmans again assemble, and the bride and bridegroom sit before the sacred fire, while the former repeat several Vedic riks. They are supposed to start for their home, driving in a carriage, and the verses repeated have reference to the chariot, horses, boats, etc. After ghī has been poured into the fire, a child, who should be a male who has not lost brothers or sisters, is seated in the lap of the bride, and the bridegroom says : "May cows, horses, men, and wealth, increase in this house. Let this child occupy your lap, just as the Soma creeper which gives strength [S. 289] to the Devatas occupies the regions of the stars." Giving some plantain fruit to the child, the bridegroom says : "Oh ! fruits, ye bear seeds. May my wife bear seeds likewise by your blessing." Then the pair are shown Druva and Arundathi (the pole star and Ursa major), which are worshipped with the words : "The seven Rishis who have led to firmness, she, Arundathi, who stands first among the six Krithikas (Pleiads), may she the eighth one, who leads the conjunction of the (moon with the) six Krithikas, the first (among conjunctions) shine upon us. Firm dwelling, firm origin ; the firm one art thou, standing on the side of firmness. Thou art the pillar of the stars. Thus protect me against my adversaries." They then proceed to perform the Sthālipāka ceremony, in which the bride should cook some rice, which the bridegroom offers as an oblation in the sacred fire. In practice, however, a little food is brought, and placed in the fire without being cooked. The purohit decorates a Ficus stick with dharbha grass, and gives it to the bridegroom. It is placed in the roof, or somewhere within the house, near the seed-pans. [According to the Grihya Sūtras, the couple ought to occupy the same mat, with the stick between them. This is not in vogue amongst several sections of Brāhmans. The Mysore Carnātakas, Mandya Aiyangars, and Shivallis, observe a kindred ceremony. Amongst the Mandyas, for example, on the fourth night of the marriage rites, the bridal couple occupy the same mat for a short time, and a stick is placed between them. The Pajamadme, or mat marriage, amongst the Shivalli Brāhmans, evidently refers to this custom.] On the second and third days of the marriage ceremonies, homams are performed in the morning and evening, and the nalagu ceremony is [S. 290] performed. In this, the couple are seated on two planks covered with mats and cloth, amidst a large number of women assembled within the pandal. In front of them, betel leaves, areca nuts, fruits, flowers, and turmeric paste are placed in a tray. The women sing songs which they have learnt from childhood, and the bride also sings the praises of the bridegroom. Taking a little of the turmeric paste rendered red by the addition of chunam (lime), she makes marks by drawing lines over the feet (nalangu idal). The ceremony closes with the waving of ārāthi (water coloured red with turmeric and chunam), and the distribution of pān-supāri (betel leaves and areca nuts). The waving is done by two women, who sing appropriate songs. On the fourth day, Brāhmans assemble, and the pair are seated in their midst. After the recitation of Vedic verses, the contracting couple are blessed. A small quantity of turmeric paste, reddened by the addition of chunam, is mixed with ghī, and smeared over the shoulders of the pair, and a mark is made on their foreheads. This is called Pachchai Kalyānam, and is peculiar to Tamil Brāhmans, both Smarthas and Vaishnavas. Amongst Tamil Brāhmans, prominence is given to the maternal uncles on the fourth day. The bride and bridegroom are carried astride on the shoulders of their uncles, who dance to the strains of a band. When they meet, the couple exchange garlands (malaimāththal). Towards evening, a procession is got up at the expense of the maternal uncle of the bride, and is hence called Ammān Kolam. The bride is dressed up as a boy, and another girl is dressed up to represent the bride. They are taken in procession through the streets, and, on their return, the pseudo-bridegroom is made to speak to the real bridegroom in somewhat insolent tones, and some mock play is [S. 291] indulged in. The real bridegroom is addressed as if he was the syce (groom) or gumastha (clerk) of the pseudo-bridegroom, and is sometimes treated as a thief, and judgment passed on him by the latter. Among Sri Vaishnavas, after the Pachchai smearing ceremony, the bridal couple roll a cocoanut to and fro across the dais, and the assembled Brāhmans chant stanzas in Tamil composed by a Vaishnava lady named Āndal, an avatar of Lakshmi, who dedicated herself to Vishnu. In these stanzas, she narrates to her attendants the dream, in which she went through the marriage ceremony after her dedication to the god. Pān-supāri, of which a little, together with some money, is set apart for Āndal, is then distributed to all present. A large crowd generally assembles, as it is believed that the chanting of Āndal's srisukthi (praise of Lakshmi) brings a general blessing. The family priest calls out the names and gotras of those who have become related to the bride and bridegroom through their marriage. As each person's name is called out, he or she is supposed to make a present of cloths, money, etc., to the bridegroom or bride. [The Telugu and Carnātaka Brāhmans, instead of the Pachchai Kalyānam, perform a ceremony called Nāgavali on the fourth or fifth day. Thirty-two lights and two vessels, representing Siva and Parvathi, are arranged in the form of a square. Unbleached thread, soaked in turmeric paste, is passed round the square, and tied to the pandal. The bridal couple sit in front of the square, and, after doing pūja (worship), cut the thread, and take their seats within the square. The bridegroom ties a tāli of black glass beads on the bride's neck, in the presence of 33 crores (330 millions) of gods, represented by a number of small pots arranged round the square. Close to the pots are the figures of two elephants, [S. 292] designed in rice grains and salt respectively. After going round the pots, the couple separate, and the bridegroom stands by the salt elephant, and the bride by the other. They then talk about the money value of the two animals, and an altercation takes place, during which they again go round the pots, and stand, the bridegroom near the rice elephant, and the bride near the salt one. The bargaining as to the price of the animals is renewed, and the couple go round the pots once more. This ceremony is followed by a burlesque of domestic life. The bride is presented with two wooden dolls from Tirupati, and told to make a cradle out of the bridegroom's turmeric-coloured cloth, which he wore on the tāli-tying day. The couple converse on domestic matters, and the bridegroom asks the bride to attend to her household affairs, so that he may go to his duties. She pleads her inability to do so because of the children, and asks him to take charge of them. She then shows the babies (dolls) to all present, and a good deal of fun is made out of the incident. The bride, with her mother standing by her side near two empty chairs, is then introduced to her new relations by marriage, who sit in pairs on the chairs, and make presents of pān-supāri and turmeric.] On the fifth day of the marriage ceremonies, before dawn, the bridal couple are seated on the dais, and the Gandharva stick is removed, with the words : "Oh ! Visvawāsu Gandharva, I pray to you to make this girl my wife. Unite her with me. Leave her, and seek another." The bridegroom then performs homams. A coin is placed on the bride's head, and a little ghī put thereon. Gazing at the bridegroom, she says : "With a loving heart I regard thee who knowest my heart. Thou art radiant with tapas (penance). Fill me with a child, and this house of ours [S. 293] with wealth. Thou art desirous of a son. Thus shalt thou reproduce thyself." Looking at the bride, the bridegroom then says : "I see thee radiant and eager to be filled with child by me. Thou art in thy youth now. Enjoy me, therefore, while I am over you, and so reproduce thyself, being desirous of a son." Touching the bride's breasts with his ring-finger, and then touching his heart, he repeats the following : "May the Viswe gods unite our hearts ; may the water unite our hearts ; may Vāyu and Brahma unite our hearts ; and may Sarasvati teach us both conversation appropriate to this occasion of our intercourse." More Vedic riks are then recited, as follows : "Thou Prajāpathi, enter my body that I may have vigour during this act ; so thou Thvastri, who fashionest forms with Vishnu and other gods ; so thou Indra, who grantest boons with thy friends the Viswedevas, by thy blessing may we have many sons. May Vishnu make thy womb ready ; may Thvashtri frame the shape (of the child) ; may Prajāpathi pour forth (the sperm) ; may Dhatri give thee conception. Give conception, Sinivāli ; give conception, Sarasvati. May the two Asvins, wreathed with lotus, give conception to thee. The embryo which the two Asvins produce with their golden kindling sticks, that embryo we call into thy womb, that thou mayst give birth to it after ten months. As the earth is pregnant with Agni, as the heaven is pregnant with Indra, as Vāyu dwells in the womb of the regions (of the earth), thus I place an embryo in thy womb. Open thy womb ; take in the sperm. May a male child, an embryo, be begotten in the womb. The mother bears him ten months, may he be born, the most valiant of his kin. May a male embryo enter the womb, as an arrow the quiver ; may a man be born here, thy son, after ten [S. 294] months. I do with thee (the work) that is sacred to Prajāpathi ; may an embryo enter the womb. May a child be born without deficiency, with all its limbs, not blind, not lame, not sucked out by Pisāchas" (devils). The marriage is brought to a close, after this recitation, with the presentation of fruits, etc., to all the Brāhmans assembled, and to all relations, children included. The bridegroom chews betel for the first time on this day. The wrist-threads are removed, and the seed-pans containing the seedlings, which have been worshipped daily, are taken in procession to a tank (pond), into which the seedlings are thrown.
It will be noticed that prayers for male issue are of frequent occurrence during the marriage ceremonial. In Sanskrit works, Putra (son) is defined as one who delivers a parent from a hell called put. It is generally believed that the welfare of a parent's soul depends on the performance of srādh (memorial services) by his son. It was laid down by Manu that a man is perfect, when he consists of three himself, his wife, and his son. In the Rig Veda it is stated that "when a father sees the face of a living son, he pays a debt in him, and gains immortality. The pleasure which a father has in his son exceeds all other enjoyments. His wife is a friend, his daughter an object of companion, his son shines as his light in the highest world." The following story of a certain pious man of ascetical temperament, who determined to shirk the religious duty of taking a wife, is narrated by Monier Williams :
This legend is recorded in detail in the Mahābhārata.
A curious mock marriage ceremony is celebrated amongst Brāhmans when an individual marries a third wife. It is believed that a third marriage is very inauspicious, and that the bride will become a widow. To prevent this mishap, the man is made to marry the arka plant (Calotropis gigantea), and the real marriage thus becomes the fourth. If this ceremony is carried on in orthodox fashion, it is generally celebrated on some Sunday or Monday, when the constellation Astham is visible. The bridegroom and a Brāhman priest, accompanied by a third Brāhman, repair to a spot where the arka plant (a very common weed) is growing. The plant is decorated with a cloth and a piece of string, and symbolised into the sun. The bridegroom then invokes it thus : "Oh ! master of three loks, Oh ! the seven-horsed, Oh ! Ravi, avert the evils of the third marriage." Next the plant is addressed with the words : "You are the oldest of the plants of this world. Brahma created you to save such of us as have to marry a third time, so please become my wife." The Brāhman who accompanies the bridegroom becomes his father-in-law for the moment, and says to him : "I give you in marriage [S. 296] Aditya's great grand-daughter, Savi's grand-daughter, and my daughter Arkakanya." All the ceremonies, such as making homam, tāli-tying, etc., are performed as at a regular marriage, and, after the recitation of a few sentences from the Vedas, the plant is cut down. "The plant," Mr, A. Srinivasan writes,* "is named arka after the sun. When the car of the sun turns towards the north, every Hindu applies the leaves of this plant to his head before he bathes, in honour of the event. The plant is, besides, believed to be a willing scapegoat to others' ills. Oil and ghī applied to the head of the victim of persistent illness has only to be transferred to this plant, when it withers and saves the man, even as Baber is said to have saved his son. The poet Kālidāsa describes sweet Sakuntala, born of a shaggy dweller of the forest, as a garland of jasmine thrown on an arka plant. 'May the arka grow luxuriant in your house' is the commonest form of curse. 'Be thou belaboured with arka leaves' is familiar in the mouths of reprimanding mothers. Adulterers were, half a century ago, seated on an ass, face to the tail, and marched through the village. The public disgrace was enhanced by placing a garland of the despised arka leaves on their head. [Uppiliyan women convicted of immorality are said to be garlanded with arka flowers, and made to carry a basket of mud round the village.] A Telugu proverb asks 'Does the bee ever seek the arka flower ?' The reasons for the ill-repute that this plant suffers from are not at all clear. The fact that it has a partiality for wastes has evidently brought on its devoted head the dismal associations of desolation, but there would seem to be more deep-seated hatred to the plant than has been [S. 297] explained." A Tamil proverb has it that he who crushes the bud of the arka earns merit. Some Telugu and Canarese Brāhmans, who follow the Yajur Veda or Rig Veda, consider the arka plant as sacred, and use the leaves thereof during the nāndhi (ancestor invoking) ceremony, which is performed as one of the marriage rites. Two or three arka leaves, with betel leaves and areca nuts, are tied to the cloth, which is attached to a stick as representing the ancestors (pithrus). With some the arka leaves are replaced by leaves of Pongamia glabra. On rathasapthami day (the seventh day after the new moon in the month Āvani), an orthodox Hindu should bathe his head and shoulders with arka leaves in propitiation of Sūrya (the sun). Brāhmans who follow the Sāma Veda, during the annual upakarmam ceremony, make use of arka leaves and flowers in worshipping the Rishis and Pithrus. On the upakarmam day, the Sāma Vedis invoke their sixty-two Rishis and the last three ancestors, who are represented by sixty-five clay balls placed on arka leaves. To them are offered arka flowers, fruits of karai-chedi (Canthium parviflorum), and nāval (Eugenia Jambolana]. In addition to this worship, they perform the Rishi and Pithru tharpanam by offering water, gingelly (Sesamum indicum) seeds, and rice. The celebrant, prior to dipping his hand into the water, places in his hands two arka leaves, gingelly, and rice. The juice of the arka plant is a favourite agent in the hands of suicides. Among the Tangalān Paraiyans, if a young man dies before he is married, a ceremony called kannikazhithal (removing bachelorhood) is performed. Before the corpse is laid on the bier, a garland of arka flowers is placed round its neck, and balls of mud from a gutter are laid on the head, knees, and other parts of the body. In some places a variant of the [S. 298] ceremony consists in the erection of a mimic marriage booth, which is covered with leaves of the arka plant, flowers of which are also placed round the neck as a garland. At a form of marriage called rambha or kathali (plantain) marriage, the arka plant is replaced by a plantain tree (Musa). It is performed by those who happen to be eldest brothers, and who are incapable of getting married, so as to give a chance to younger brothers, who are not allowed to marry unless the elder brother or brothers are already married.
At the present day, many Hindus disregard certain ceremonies, in the celebration of which their forefathers were most scrupulous. Even the daily ceremonial ablutions, which are all important to a Brāhman from a shāstraic point of view, are now neglected by a large majority, and the prayers (mantrams), which should be chanted during their performance, are forgotten. But no Brāhman, orthodox or unorthodox, dares to abandon the death ceremonial, and annual srādh (memorial rites). A Brāhman beggar, when soliciting alms, invariably pleads that he has to perform his father or mother's srādh, or upanayanam (thread ceremony) of his children, and he rarely goes away empty-handed. "The constant periodical performance," Monier Williams writes,* "of commemorative obsequies is regarded in the light of a positive and peremptory obligation. It is the simple discharge of a solemn debt to one's forefathers, a debt consisting not only in reverential homage, but in the performance of acts necessary to their support, happiness, and progress onwards in the spiritual world. A man's deceased relatives, for at least three generations, are among his cherished divinities, and must be honoured [S. 299] by daily offerings and adoration, or a nemesis of some kind is certain to overtake his living family. The object of a Hindu funeral is nothing less than the investiture of the departed spirit with an intermediate gross body a peculiar frame interposed, as it were parenthetically, between the terrestrial gross body, which has just been destroyed by fire, and the new terrestrial body, which it is compelled to ultimately assume. The creation of such an intervenient frame, composed of gross elements, though less gross than those of earth, becomes necessary, because the individualised spirit of man, after the cremation of the terrestrial body, has nothing left to withhold it from re-absorption into the universal soul, except its incombustible subtle body, which, as composed of the subtle elements, is not only proof against the fire of the funeral pile, but is incapable of any sensations in the temporary heaven, or temporary hell, through one or other of which every separate human spirit is forced to pass before returning to earth, and becoming re-invested with a terrestrial gross body."
When a Brāhman is on the point of death, he is removed from his bed, and laid on the floor. If there is any fear of the day being a danishtapanchami (inauspicious), the dying man is taken out of the house, and placed in the court-yard or pial (raised verandah). Some prayers are uttered, and a cow is presented (godhanam). These are intended to render the passage of life through the various parts of the body as easy as possible. The spirit is supposed to escape through one of the nine orifices of the body, according to the character of the individual concerned. That of a good man leaves the body through the brahmarandhra (top of the skull), and that of a bad man through the anus. Immediately after death, the body is washed, religious marks are made on [S.300] the forehead, and parched paddy and betel are scattered over and around it by the son. As a Brāhman is supposed always to have his fire with him, the sacred fire is lighted. At this stage, certain purificatory ceremonies are performed, if death has taken place on a day or hour of evil omen, or at midnight. Next, a little cooked rice is cooked in a new earthen pot, and a new cloth is thrown over the corpse, which is roused by the recitation of mantrams. Four bearers, to each of whom dharbha grass is given in token of his office, are selected to carry the corpse to the burning-ground. The eldest son, who is the funeral celebrant, and his brothers are shaved. On ordinary occasions, brothers should not be shaved on the same day, as this would be inauspicious. They are only shaved on the same day on the occasion of the death of their father or mother. The widow of the deceased, and female relations, go three times round the corpse, before it is placed on the bier. Very often, at this stage, all the women present set up a loud lamentation, and repeat the death songs.* If the dead person was a respected elder, special professional women, trained as mourners, are engaged. I am informed that, in the Coimbatore district, and amongst the Sathyamangalam Brahacharanams, there are certain widows who are professional mourners. As soon as they hear of the death of an elder, they repair to the house, and worry the bereaved family into engaging them for a small fee. The space, which intervenes between the dead man's house and the burning-ground, is divided into four parts. When the end of the first of these is reached, the corpse is placed on the ground, and the sons and nephews go round it, repeating mantrams. They untie their kudumis [S. 301] (hair knot), leaving part thereof loose, tie up the rest into a small bunch, and keep on slapping their thighs. [When children at play have their kudumi partially tied, and slap their thighs, they are invariably scolded, owing to the association with funerals.] A little cooked rice is offered to the path as a pathi bali (wayside offering), to propitiate evil spirits, or bhūthas. The same ceremonial should, strictly speaking, be performed at two other spots, but now-a-days it is the custom to place the corpse on the ground near the funeral pyre, moving its position three times, while the circumambulation and pathi bali are gone through only once. As soon as the corpse has reached the spot where the pyre is, the celebrant of the rites sprinkles water thereon, and throws a quarter of an anna on it as the equivalent of purchase of the ground for cremation. The sacred fire is lighted, and the right palm of the corpse is touched with a gold coin. The nine orifices of the body are then smeared with ghī, and rice is thrown over the corpse, and placed in its mouth. The son takes a burning brand from the sacred fire, lights the pyre, and looks at the sun. He then carries a pot filled with water, having a hole at the bottom through which the water trickles out, on his shoulders three times round the corpse, and, at the end of the third round, throws it down. Then he, and all the relations of the deceased, squat on the ground, facing east, take up some dharbha grass, and, cutting it into small fragments with their nails, scatter them in the air, while repeating some Vedic verses, which are chanted very loudly and slowly, especially at the funeral of a respected elder. The celebrant then pours a little water on a stone, and sprinkles himself with it. This is also done by the other relations, and they pass beneath a bundle of dharbha grass and twigs of Ficus glomerata held by the purohit (officiating [S. 302] priest), and gaze for a moment at the sun. Once more they sprinkle themselves with water, and proceed to a tank, where they bathe. When they return home, two rites, called nagna (naked) srādh, and pāshāna sthāpanam (stone-fixing), are celebrated. The disembodied spirit is supposed to be naked after the body has been cremated. To clothe it, offerings of water, with balls of cooked rice, are made, and a cloth, lamp, and money are given to a Brāhman. Then two stones are set up, one in the house and the other on the bank of a tank, to represent the spirit of the deceased. For ten days, libations of water mixed with gingelly seeds, called tilothakam, and a ball of cooked rice, must be offered to the stones. The ball of rice is left for crows to eat. The number of libations must be seventy-five, commencing with three on the first day, and increasing the number daily by one. In addition, three further libations are made daily by dipping a piece of cloth from the winding-sheet, and rinsing it over the stone (vasothakam). On the day after cremation, the relations assemble at the burning-ground, and the son, after extinguishing the burning embers, removes the fragments of bones from the ashes. The ceremony is called sanchyanam (gathering). Cooked food is offered. The bones are thrown into some sacred river, or buried in the ground. On the tenth day after death, a large quantity of cooked rice (prabhūthabali) is offered to the spirit of the dead person, which is believed to grow very hungry on that day. The food is heaped up on plantain leaves, and all the near relations go round them, crying and beating their breasts. It is mostly females who perform this rite, males standing aloof. The food is taken to a tank, and the widow, decorated and dressed up, is conducted thither. The food is thrown into the water, and, if the widow is an elderly [S. 303] orthodox woman, her tāli is removed. On the same day, her head is clean shaved. A widow is not allowed to adorn herself with jewels and finery except on this day, when all her close relations come and see her. If this is not done, pregnant women may not see her for a year. All the agnates should be present on the tenth day, and perform tharpana (oblations of water). Until this day they are under pollution, and, after prabhūthabali, they bathe, and homam is performed. Some ashes from the sacred fire are mixed with ghī, and a mark is made on the foreheads of those who are under pollution, to remove it. During the period of pollution, a Sri Vaishnava will have only a white mark without the red streak on his forehead ; a Mādhva will not have the black dot ; and Smarthas avoid having marks altogether. The tenth day ceremony is called Dasham. On the eleventh day, a ceremony called Ekodishtam (eleventh day ceremony) is performed. A Brāhman is seated to represent the pretha or dead person, and fed after going through srādh rites. As a rule, the man is a close relation of the deceased. But, amongst certain classes of Brāhmans, an outsider is engaged, and well remunerated. On the twelfth day, the Sapindikaranam (sapinda, kinsman) ceremony, which is just like the ordinary srādh, is performed. At the close thereof, six balls of cooked rice are offered to three ancestors, male and female (three balls for males, and three for females). These balls are arranged in two rows, with a space between them. An elongated mass of food is placed between the rows, and divided with blades of dharbha grass into three portions, which are arranged close to the balls of rice. This is regarded as uniting the dead man with the pitris (ancestors). A cow is usually presented just before the union takes place, and the gift [S. 304] is believed to render the crossing of the river Vaitarani (river of death) easy for the departed soul. The Sapindikaranam is a very important ceremony. When there is a dispute concerning division of property on the death of an individual, the ceremony is not performed until the parties come to an agreement. For instance, if a married man dies without issue, and his widow's brothers-in-law cannot come to terms as regards the partition of the property, the widow may refuse to allow the performance of the ceremony. The Sapindikaranam should, according to the shāstras, be performed a year after death, i.e., on the completion of all the Māsikas (monthly srādhs). But, at the present day, a ceremony called Shodasam (the sixteen) is performed just before the Sapindikaranam on the twelfth day. In the course of the year, twelve monthly and four quarterly srādhs should be performed, The Shodasam ceremony, which is carried out in lieu thereof, consists in giving presents of money and vessels to sixteen Brāhmans. On the twelfth day, a feast is held, and domestic worship is carried out on a large scale. At the close thereof, a sloka called Charma sloka, in praise of the deceased, is composed and repeated by some one versed in Sanskrit. Every month, for a year after a death in a family, srādh should, as indicated, be performed. This corresponds in detail with the annual srādh, which is regularly performed, unless a visit is paid to Gaya, which renders further performance of the rite not obligatory. For the performance of this ceremony by the nearest agnate of the deceased (eldest son or other), three Brāhmans should be called in, to represent respectively Vishnu, the Devatas, and the ancestors. Sometimes two Brāhmans are made to suffice, and Vishnu is represented by a sālagrāma stone. In extreme cases, only one Brāhman [S. 305] assists at the ceremony, the two others being represented by dharbha grass. The sacred fire is lighted, and ghī, a small quantity of raw and cooked rice, and vegetables are offered up in the fire. The Brāhmans then wash their feet, and are fed. Before they enter the space set apart for the meal, water, gingelly, and rice are sprinkled about it, to keep off evil spirits. As soon as the meal is finished, a ball of rice, called vāyasa pindam (crow's food), is offered to the pithru devatas (ancestors of three generations), and thrown to the crows. If they do not eat the rice, the omens are considered to be unfavourable. The Brāhmans receive betel and money in payment for their services. On one occasion my assistant was in camp at Kodaikānal on the Palni hills, the higher altitudes of which are uninhabited by crows, and he had perforce to march down to the plains, in order to perform the annual ceremony for his deceased father. The recurring annual srādh (Pratyābdhika) need not of necessity be performed. It is, however, regarded as an important ceremony, and, should an individual neglect it, he would run the risk of being excommunicated.
The rites connected with the dead are based on the Garuda Purāna, according to which the libations of the ten days are said to help the growth of the body of the soul. In this connection, Monier Williams writes as follows :* "On the first day, the ball (pinda) of rice offered by the eldest son or other near relative nourishes the spirit of the deceased in such a way as to furnish it with a head ; on the second day, the offered pinda gives a neck and shoulders ; on the third day a heart ; on the fourth a back ; on the fifth a navel ; on the sixth a groin [S. 306] and the parts usually concealed ; on the seventh thighs ; on the eighth and ninth knees and feet. On the tenth day, the intermediate body is sufficiently formed to produce the sensation of hunger and thirst. Other pindas are therefore put before it, and, on the eleventh and twelfth days, the embodied spirit feeds voraciously on the offerings thus supplied, and so gains strength for its journey to its future abode. Then, on the thirteenth day after death, it is conducted either to heaven or hell. If to the latter, it has need of the most nourishing food, to enable it to bear up against the terrible ordeal which awaits it."
To the Hindu mind, Yama (the god of death) is a hideous god, whose servants are represented as being capable of tormenting the soul of the dead. "No sooner," writes Monier Williams," has death occurred, and cremation of the terrestrial body taken place, than Yama's two messengers (Yama Dūtan), who are waiting near at hand, make themselves visible to the released spirit, which retains its subtle body composed of the subtle elements, and is said to be of the size of a thumb (angustha-mātra). Their aspect is terrific, for they have glaring eyes, hair standing erect, gnashing teeth, crow-black skin, and claw-like nails, and they hold in their hands the awful rod and noose of Yama. Then, as if their appearance in this form were not sufficiently alarming, they proceed to terrify their victim by terrible visions of the torments (yātana) in store for him. They then convey the bound spirit along the road to Yama's abode. Being led before Yama's judgment seat, it is confronted with his Registrar or Recorder named Chitra Gupta. This officer stands by Yama's side, with an open book before him. It is his business to note down all the good and evil deeds of [S. 307] every human being born into the world, with the resulting merit (punya) and demerit (pāpa), and to produce a debtor and creditor account properly made up and balanced on the day when that being is brought before Yama. According to the balance on the side of merit or demerit is judgment pronounced. The road by which Yama's two officers force a wicked man to descend to the regions of torment is described in the first two chapters of the Garuda Purāna. The length of the way is said to be 86,000 leagues (yojanas). The condemned soul, invested with its sensitive body, and made to travel at the rate of 200 leagues a day, finds no shady trees, no resting place, no food, no water. At one time it is scorched by a burning heat equal to that of twelve meridian suns, at another it is pierced by icy cold winds ; now its tender frame is rent by thorns ; now it is attacked by lions, tigers, savage dogs, venomous serpents, and scorpions. In one place it has to traverse a dense forest, whose leaves are swords ; in another it falls into deep pits ; in another it is precipitated from precipices ; in another it has to walk on the edge of razors ; in another on iron spikes. Here it stumbles about helplessly in profound darkness ; there it struggles through loathsome mud swarming with leeches ; here it toils through burning sand ; there its progress is arrested by heaps of red-hot charcoal and stifling smoke. Compelled to pass through every obstacle, however formidable, it next encounters a succession of terrific showers, not of rain, but of live coals, stones, blood, boiling water and filth. Then it has to descend into appalling fissures, or ascend to sickening heights, or lose itself in vast caves, or wade through lakes seething with foetid ordures. Then midway it has to pass the awful river Vaitarani, one hundred leagues in breadth, of unfathomable depth ; [S. 308] flowing with irresistible impetuosity ; filled with blood, matter, hair, and bones ; infested with huge sharks, crocodiles, and sea monsters ; darkened by clouds of hideous vultures and obscene birds of prey. Thousands of condemned spirits stand trembling on the banks, horrified by the prospect before them. Consumed by a raging thirst, they drink the blood which flows at their feet ; then, tumbling headlong into the torrent, they are overwhelmed by the rushing waves. Finally, they are hurried down to the lowest depths of hell, and yet not destroyed. Pursued by Yama's officers, they are dragged away, and made to undergo inconceivable tortures, the detail of which is given with the utmost minuteness in the succeeding chapters of the Garuda Purāna."
The Ahannikams, or daily observances, of a religious Brāhman are very many. Nowadays, Brāhmans who lead a purely religious life are comparatively few, and are mostly found in villages. The daily observances of such are the bath, the performance of the Sandhya service, Brahma yagna, Deva pūja or Devatarchana, Tarpana (oblations of water), Vaisvadeva ceremony, and the reading of Purānas or Ithihāsas. Every orthodox Brāhman is expected to rise at the time called Brahma Muhūrtam in the hour and a half before sunrise. He should then clean his teeth, using as a brush mango leaf, or twigs of Acacia arabica or nīm (Melia Azadirachta). He next bathes in a river or tank (pond), standing knee-deep in the water, and repeating the following : "I am about to perform the morning ablution in this sacred stream (Ganges, Sarasvati, Yamuna, Godāvari, etc.), in the presence of the gods and Brāhmans, with a view to the removal of guilt resulting from act, speech, and thought, from what has been touched and untouched, known and unknown, eaten and not eaten, drunk and [S. 309] not drunk." After the bath, he wipes his body with a damp cloth, and puts on his cotton madi cloth, which has been washed and dried. The cloth, washed, wrung, and hung up to dry, should not be touched by anybody. If this should happen prior to the bath, the cloth is polluted, and ceases to be madi. A silk cloth, which cannot be polluted, is substituted for it. The madi or silk cloth should be worn until the close of the morning ceremonies and meal. The man next puts the marks which are characteristic of his sect on the forehead and body, and performs the Sandhya service. This is very important, and is binding on all Brāhmans after the Upanayanam ceremony, though a large number are not particular in observing it. According to the shāstras, the Sandhya should be done in the morning and evening ; but in practice there is an additional service at midday. Sandhyāvandhanam means the thanksgiving to God when day and night meet in the morning and evening. The rite commences with the sipping of water (āchamanam) from_the hollow of the right palm. This is done three times, while the words Achyuthāyanamaha, Anantāyanamaha, and Govindāyana are repeated. Immediately after sipping, twelve parts of the body are touched with the fingers of the right hand in the following order :
This Āchamana is the usual preliminary to all Brāhman religious rites. The water sipped is believed to cleanse the internal parts of the body, as bathing cleanses the external parts.
After Āchamana comes Prānāyāma, or holding in of vital breath, which consists in repeating the Gāyatri (hymn) and holding the breath by three distinct operations,
The suppression of the breath is said to be a preliminary yoga practice, enabling a person to fix his mind on the Supreme Being who is meditated on.
The celebrant next repeats the Sankalpa (determination), with the hands brought together, the right palm over the left, and placed on the right thigh. Every kind of ceremony commences with the Sankalpa, which, for the Sandhya service, is as follows : "I am worshipping for the removal of all my sins that have adhered to me, and for the purpose of acquiring the favour of Narāyana or the Supreme Being." The performer of the rite then sprinkles himself with water, repeating : "Oh ! ye waters, the sources of all comforts, grant us food, so that our senses may grow strong and give us joy. Make us the recipients of your essence, which is the [S. 311] most blissful, just as affectionate mothers (feed their children with milk from their breasts). May we obtain enough of that essence of yours, the existence of which within you makes you feel glad. Oh ! waters, grant us offspring." He then takes up the water in his palm, and drinks it, repeating the following : "May the sun and anger, may the lords of anger, preserve me from my sins of pride and passion. Whatever the nightly sins of thought, word, deed, wrought by my mind, my speech, my hands, my feet ; wrought through my appetite and sensual organs ; may the departing night remove them all. In thy immortal light, Oh ! radiant sun, I offer up myself and this my guilt." At the evening service, the same is repeated, with the word Agni instead of Sūrya (sun). At the midday service the following is recited : "May the waters purify the earth by pouring down rain. May the earth thus purified make us pure. May the waters purify my spiritual preceptor, and may the Veda (as taught by the purified preceptor) purify me. Whatever leavings of another's food, and whatever impure things I may have eaten, whatever I may have received as gift from the unworthy, may the waters destroy all that sin and purify me. For this purpose, I pour this sanctified water as a libation down my mouth." Once more the celebrant sprinkles himself with water, and says : "I sing the praise of the god Dadikrāvan, who is victorious, all-pervading, and who moves with great speed. May he make our mouths (and the senses) fragrant, and may he prolong our lives. Oh ! ye waters, the sources of all comforts, grant us food," etc.
The ceremonies performed so far are intended for both external and internal purification. By their means, the individual is supposed to have made himself worthy to salute the Lord who resides in the orb of the rising [S. 312] luminary, and render him homage in true Brāhman style by what is called Arghya. This is an offering of water to any respected guest. Repeating the Gāyatri, the worshipper throws water in the air from the palms of the hands joined together with the sacred thread round the thumbs. The Gāyatri is the hymn par excellence, and is said to contain the sum and substance of all Vedic teaching.
After these items, the worshipper sits down, and does Japam (recitation of prayers in an undertone). The Gāyatri, as repeated, consists of the Gāyatri proper Vyāhritis, and Gāyatri Siromantra. It runs as follows:
The Vyāhritis are generally taken to refer to the seven worlds, and the prefixing of the Pranava (Om) means that all these worlds have sprung from the Supreme Being. The Pranava given above means "All the seven worlds are (the visible manifestations of) Om, the all-pervading Brāhman. We think of the adorable light of the Lord, who shines in our hearts, and guides us. May he guide our intellects aright. Water, light, all things that have savour (such as trees, herbs, and plants), the nectar of the gods, the three worlds, in fact everything that is Brāhman, the universal soul."
The mystic syllable Om is the most sacred of all Hindu utterances. Concerning it, Monier Williams writes that it is "made up of the three letters A,U,M, [S. 313] and symbolical of the threefold manifestation of the one Supreme Being in the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, and is constantly repeated during the Sandhya service. This prayer is, as we have seen, the most sacred of all Vedic utterances, and, like the Lord's Prayer among Christians, or like the Fatihah or opening chapter of the Kuran among Muhammadans, must always, among Hindus, take precedence of all other forms of supplication."
The celebrant next proceeds to invoke the Gāyatri Devata thus : "May the goddess Gāyatri Devata, who grants all our desires, come to us to make known to us the eternal Lord, who is revealed to us only through the scriptures. May the Gāyatri, the mother of all the Vedas, reveal to us the eternal truth. Oh ! Gāyatri, thou art the source of all spiritual strength. Thou art the power that drivest away the evil inclinations which are mine enemies. Thou, by conducing to a sound mind, conducest to a sound body. Thou art the light of the gods, that dispellest my intellectual darkness, and illuminest my heart with divine wisdom. Thou art all. In the whole universe there is naught but thee that is. Thou art the eternal truth that destroys all sins. Thou art the Pranava that reveals to me the unknown. Come to my succour, Oh ! thou Gāyatri, and make me wise." This invocation is followed by the repetition of the Gāyatri 108 or only 28 times. The celebrant then says : "The goddess Gāyatri resides on a lofty peak on the summit of mount Meru (whose base is deeply fixed) in the earth. Oh ! thou goddess, take leave from the Brāhmans (who have worshipped thee, and been blessed with thy grace), and go back to thy abode as comfortably as possible." The Sandhya service is closed with the following prayer to the rising sun : "We sing the adorable glory of [S. 314] the sun god, who sustains all men (by causing rain) ; which glory is eternal, and most worthy of being adored with wonder. The sun, well knowing the inclinations of men, directs them to their several pursuits. The sun upholds both heaven and earth ; the sun observes all creatures (and their actions) without ever winking. To this eternal being we offer the oblation mixed with ghī. Oh ! sun, may that man who through such sacrifice offers oblations to thee become endowed with wealth and plenty. He who is under thy protection is not cut off by untimely death ; he is not vanquished by anybody, and sin has no hold on this man either from near or from afar." In the evening, the following prayer to Varuna is substituted : "Hear, Oh ! Varuna, this prayer of mine. Be gracious unto me this day. Longing for thy protection, I cry to thee. Adoring thee with prayer, I beg long life of thee. The sacrificer does the same with the oblations he offers thee. Therefore, Oh ! Varuna, without indifference in this matter, take my prayer into your kind consideration, and do not cut off our life. Oh ! Lord Varuna, whatever law of thine we, as men, violate day after day, forgive us these trespasses. Oh ! Lord Varuna, whatever offence we, as men, have committed against divine beings, whatever work of thine we have neglected through ignorance, do not destroy us, Oh ! Lord, for such sin. Whatever sin is attributed to us by our enemies, as by gamblers at dice, whatever sins we may have really committed, and what we may have done without knowing, do thou scatter and destroy all these sins. Then, Oh ! Lord, we shall become beloved of thee." The Sandhya prayer closes with the Abhivādhana or salutation, which has been given in the account of marriage. After the Sandhya service in the morning, the Brahma yagna, or [S. 315] worship of the Supreme Being as represented in the sacred books is gone through. The first hymn of the Rig Veda is recited in detail, and then follow the first words of the Yajur Veda, Sāma Veda, Atharvana Veda, the Nirukta, etc.
The next item is the Tarpana ceremony, or offering of water to the Devatas, Rishis, and Pitris. The sacred thread is placed over the left shoulder and under the right arm (upavīta), and water is taken in the right hand, and poured as an offering to the Devatas. Then, with the sacred thread round the neck like a necklace (nivīti), the worshipper pours water for the Rishis. Lastly, the sacred thread is placed over the right shoulder (prāchina vīthi) and water is poured for the Pitris (ancestors).
The various ceremonies described so far should be performed by all the male members of a family, whereas the daily Devatarchana or Devata pūja is generally done by any one member of a family. The gods worshipped by pious Brāhmans are Siva and Vishnu, and their consorts Parvati and Lakshmi. Homage is paid thereto through images, sālagrāma stones, or stone lingams. In the house of a Brāhman, a corner or special room is set apart for the worship of the god. Some families keep their gods in a small almirah (chest).
Smarthas use in their domestic worship five stones, viz. :
Smarthas commence their worship by invoking the aid of Vigneswara (Ganesha). Then, placing a vessel [S. 316] (kalasa) filled with water, they utter the following prayer. " In the mouth of the water-vessel abideth Vishnu, in its lower part is Brahma, while the whole company of the mothers (mātris) are congregated in its middle part. Oh ! Ganges, Yamuna, Godāvari, Sarasvati, Narmadā, Sindhu, and Kāveri, be present in this water." The conch or chank shell (Turbinella rapa) is then worshipped as follows : "Oh ! conch shell, thou wast produced in the sea, and art held by Vishnu in his hand. Thou art worshipped by all the gods. Receive my homage." The bell is then worshipped with the prayer : "Oh ! bell, make a sound for the approach of the gods, and for the departure of the demons. Homage to the goddess Ghanta (bell). I offer perfumes, grains of rice, and flowers, in token of rendering all due homage to the bell." The worshipper claps his hands, and rings the bell. All the tulsi (sacred basil, Ocimum sanctum) leaves, flowers, sandal paste, etc., used for worship on the previous day, are removed. "The tulsi is the most sacred plant in the Hindu religion; it is consequently found in or near almost every Hindu house throughout India. Hindu poets say that it protects from misfortune, and sanctifies and guides to heaven all who cultivate it. The Brahmins hold it sacred to the gods Krishna and Vishnu. The story goes that this plant is the transformed nymph Tulasi, beloved of Krishna, and for this reason near every Hindu house it is cultivated in pots, or in brick or earthen pillars with hollows at the top (brindāvanam or brinda forest), in which earth is deposited. It is daily watered, and worshipped by all the members of the family. Under favourable circumstances, it grows to a considerable size, and furnishes a woody stem large enough to make beads for the rosaries used by Hindus, on which they count the number of recitations [S. 317] of their deity's name." * Writing in the seventeenth century, Vincenzo Maria ** observes that "almost all the Hindus . . . adore a plant like our Basilico gentile, but of a more pungent odour . . . Every one before his house has a little altar, girt with a wall half an ell high, in the middle of which they erect certain pedestals like little towers, and in these the shrub is grown. They recite their prayers daily before it, with repeated prostrations, sprinklings of water, etc. There are also many of these maintained at the bathing-places, and in the courts of the pagodas." The legend, accounting for the sanctity of the tulsi, is told in the Padma Purāna.*** From the union of the lightning that flashed from the third eye of Siva with the ocean, a boy was born, whom Brahmadev caught up, and to whom he gave the name of Jalandhar. And to him Brahmadev gave the boon that by no hand but Siva's could he perish. Jalandhar grew up strong and tall, and conquered the kings of the earth, and, in due time, married Vrinda (or Brinda), the daughter of the demon Kalnemi. Naradmuni, the son of Brahmadev, stirred up hatred against Siva in Jalandhar, and they fought each other on the slopes of Kailas. But even Siva could not prevail against Jalandhar, so long as his wife Vrinda remained chaste. So Vishnu, who had lived with her and Jalandhar, and had learnt their secret, plotted her downfall. One day, when she, sad at Jalandhar's absence, had left her garden to walk in the waste beyond, two demons met her and pursued her. She ran, with the demons following, until she saw a Rishi, at whose feet she fell, [S. 318] and asked for shelter. The Rishi, with his magic, burnt up the demons into thin ash. Vrinda then asked for news of her husband. At once, two apes laid before her Jalandhar's head, feet, and hands. Vrinda, thinking that he was dead, begged the Rishi to restore him to her. The Rishi said that he would try, and in a moment he and the corpse had disappeared, and Jalandhar stood by her. She threw herself into his arms, and they embraced each other. But, some days later, she learnt that he with whom she was living was not her husband, but Vishnu, who had taken his shape. She cursed Vishnu, and foretold that, in a later Avatar, the two demons who had frightened her would rob him of his wife ; and that, to recover her, he would have to ask the aid of the apes who had brought Jalandhar's head, feet, and hands. Vrinda then threw herself into a burning pit, and Jalandhar, once Vrinda's chastity had gone, fell a prey to Siva's thunderbolts. Then the gods came forth from their hiding place, and garlanded Siva. The demons were driven back to hell, and men once more passed under the tyranny of the gods. But Vishnu came not back from Vrinda's palace, and those who sought him found him mad from grief, rolling in her ashes. Then Parvati, to break the charm of Vrinda's beauty, planted in her ashes three seeds. And they grew into three plants, the tulsi, the avali, and the malti. By the growth of these seeds, Vishnu was released from Vrinda's charm. Therefore he loved them all, but chiefly the tulsi plant, which, as he said, was Vrinda's very self. In the seventh incarnation, the two demons, who had frightened Vrindan, became Ravan and his brother Kumbhakarna, and they bore away Sīta to Lanka. To recover her, Ramchandra had to implore the help of the two apes who had brought her Jalandhar's head and [S. 319] hands, and in this incarnation they became Hanumān and his warriors. But, in the eighth incarnation, which was that of Krishna, the tulsi plant took the form of a woman Rādha, and wedded the gay and warlike lord of Dwarka.
The Shodasopachara, or sixteen acts of homage, are next performed in due order, viz.
While the five stones already referred to are bathed by pouring water from a conch shell, the Purusha Sūktha, or hymn of the Rig Veda, is repeated. This runs as follows : "Purusha has thousands of heads, thousands of arms, thousands of eyes, and thousands of feet. On every side enveloping the earth, he transcended this mere space of ten fingers. Purusha himself is this whole (universe) ; whatever has been, and whatever shall be. He is also the lord of immortality, since through food he expands. Such is his greatness, and Purusha is superior to this. All existing things are a quarter of him, and that which is immortal in the sky is three quarters of him. With three quarters Purusha mounted upwards. A quarter of him was again [S. 320] produced below. He then became diffused everywhere among things, animate and inanimate. From him Viraj was born, and from Viraj Purusha. As soon as born, he extended beyond the earth, both behind and before. When the gods offered up Purusha as a sacrifice, the spring was its clarified butter (ghī), summer its fuel, and the autumn the oblation. This victim, Purusha born in the beginning, they consecrated on the sacrificial grass. With him as their offering, the Gods, Sadhyas, and Rishis sacrificed. From that universal oblations were produced curds and clarified butter. He, Purusha, formed the animals which are subject to the power of the air (Vāyavya), both wild and tame. From that universal sacrifice sprang the hymns called Rik and Saman, the Metres, and the Yajus. From it were produced horses, and all animals with two rows of teeth, cows, goats, and sheep. When they divided Purusha, into how many parts did they distribute him ? What was his mouth ? What were his arms ? What were called his thighs and feet ? The Brāhman was his mouth ; the Rājanya became his arms ; the Vaisya was his thighs ; the Sūdra sprang from his feet. The moon was produced from his soul ; the sun from his eye ; Indra and Agni from his mouth ; Vāyu from his breath. From his navel came the atmosphere ; from his head arose the sky ; from his feet came the earth ; from his ears the four quarters ; so they formed the worlds. When the gods, in performing their sacrifice, bound Purusha as a victim, there were seven pieces of wood laid for him round the fire, and thrice seven pieces of fuel employed. With sacrifice the gods worshipped the sacrifice. These were the primaeval rites. These great beings attained to the heaven, where the Gods, the ancient Sadhyas, reside." [S. 321]
Some Smarthas, e.g., the Brahacharnams, are more Saivite than other sections of Tamil-speaking Brāhmans. During worship, they wear round the neck rudrāksha (Elaeocarpus Ganitrus) beads, and place on their head a lingam made thereof. In connection with the rudrāksha, the legend runs that Siva or Kālāgni Rudra, while engaged in Tripura Samhāra, opened his third eye, which led to the destruction of the three cities, of which Rakshasas or Asuras had taken the form. From this eye liquid is said to have trickled on the ground, and from this arose the rudrāksha tree. The mere mention of the word rudrāksha is believed to secure religious merit, which may be said to be equivalent to the merit obtained by the gift of ten cows to Brāhmans. Rudrāksha beads are valued according to the number of lobes (or faces, as they are called), which are ordinarily five in number. A bead with six lobes is said to be very good, and one with two lobes, called Gauri Sankara rudrāksha, is specially valued. Dīkshitar Brāhmans, and Pandāram priests of the higher order, wear a two-lobed bead mounted in gold. In a manuscript entitled Rudrākshopanishad, it is stated that a good rudrāksha bead, when rubbed with water, should colour the water yellow.
The Mādhvas worship in the same way as Smarthas, but the objects of worship are the sālagrāma stone, and images of Hanumān and Ādi Sesha. Food offered to Ādi Sesha, Lakshmi, and Hanumān, is not eaten, but thrown away. The Mādhvas attach great importance to their spiritual guru, who is first worshipped by a worshipper. Some keep a brindāvanam, representing the grave of their guru, along with a sālagrāma stone, which is worshipped at the close of the Devata pūja.
Sri Vaishnavas keep for domestic worship only sālagrāma stones. Like the Mādhvas, they are scrupulous as to the worship of their [S. 322] gurus (āchāryas), without whose intervention they believe that they cannot obtain beatitude. Hence Sri Vaishnavites insist upon the Samāsrayanam ceremony. After the Sandhya service and Brahma yagna, the guru is worshipped.
All orthodox Vaishnavas keep with them a silk cloth bearing the impressions of the feet of their Āchārya, an abhayastha or impression of the hand of Vishnu in sandal paste, a few necklaces of silk thread (pavitram), and a bit of the bark of the tamarind tree growing at the temple at Ālvartirunagiri in the Tinnevelly district. The worshipper puts on his head the silk cloth, and round his neck the silk necklaces, and, if available, a necklace of Nelumbium (sacred lotus) seeds. After saluting the abhayastha by pressing it to his eyes, he repeats the prayer of his Āchārya, and proceeds to the Devatarchana, which consists in the performance of the sixteen upachāras already described. The sālagrāma stone is bathed, and the Purusha Sūktha repeated.
The daily observances are brought to a close by the performance of the Vaisvadeva ceremony, or offering to Vaisvadevas (all the gods). This consists in offering cooked rice, etc., to all the gods. Some regard this as a sort of expiatory ceremony, to wipe out the sin which may have accidentally been committed by killing small animals in the process of cooking food.
The male members of a family take their meals apart from the females. The food is served on platters made of the leaves of the banyan (Ficus bengalensis), Butea frondosa, Bauhinia, or plantain. Amongst Smarthas and Mādhvas, various vegetable preparations are served first, and rice last, whereas, amongst the Sri Vaishnavas, especially Vadagalais, rice is served first. Before commencing to eat, a little water (tīrtham), in [S. 323] which a sālagrāma stone has been bathed, is poured into the palms of those who are about to partake of the meal. They drink the water simultaneously, saying "Amartopastaranamasi." They then put a few handfuls of rice into their mouths, repeating some mantras "Pranāyasvāha, Udanāyasvāha, Somanāyasvāha," etc. At the end of the meal, all are served with a little water, which they sip, saying "Amartapithanamasi." They then rise together.
In connection with the sālagrāma stone, which has been referred to several times, the following interesting account thereof* may be quoted :
In some temples, the Mūla Vigraha, or idol fixed in the inner sanctuary, is decorated with a necklace of sālagrāma stones. For example, at Tirupati the god is thus decorated.
The following incident in connection with a sālagrāma stone is narrated by Yule and Burnell*:
"In May, 1883, a sālagrāma was the ostensible cause of great popular excitement among the Hindus of Calcutta. During the proceedings in a family suit before the High Court, a question arose regarding the identity of a sālagrāma, regarded as a household god. Counsel on both sides suggested that the thing should be brought into court. Mr. Justice Morris hesitated to give this order till he had taken advice. The attorneys on both sides, Hindus, said there could be no objection ; the Court interpreter, a high-caste Brāhman, said it could not be brought into Court because of the coir matting, [S. 328] but it might with perfect propriety be brought into the corridor for inspection ; which was done. This took place during the excitement about the 'Ilbert Bill,' giving natives magisterial authority in the provinces over Europeans ; and there followed most violent and offensive articles in several native newspapers reviling Mr. Justice Morris, who was believed to be hostile to the Bill. The Editor of the Bengallee newspaper, an educated man, and formerly a member of the Covenanted Civil Service, the author of one of the most unscrupulous and violent articles, was summoned for contempt of court. He made an apology and complete retractation, but was sentenced to two months' imprisonment."
The sacred chank, conch, or sankhu, which has been referred to in connection with ceremonial observance, is the shell of the gastropod mollusc Turbinella rapa. This is secured, in Southern India, by divers from Tuticorin in the vicinity of the pearl banks. The chank shell, which one sees suspended on the forehead and round the neck of bullocks, is not only used by Hindus for offering libations, and as a musical instrument in temples, but is also cut into armlets, bracelets, and other ornaments. Writing in the sixteenth century, Garcia says: "This chanco is a ware for the Bengal trade, and formerly produced more profit than now . . . and there was formerly a custom in Bengal that no virgin in honour and esteem could be corrupted unless it were by placing bracelets of chanco on her arms ; but, since the Patāns came in, this usage has more or less ceased." " The conch shell," Captain C. R. Day writes,* "is not in secular use as a musical instrument, but is found in every temple, and is sounded during [S. 329] religious ceremonials, in processions, and before the shrines of Hindu deities. In Southern India, the sankhu is employed in the ministration of a class of temple servers called Dāsari. No tune, so to speak, can of course be played upon it, but still the tone is capable of much modulation by the lips, and its clear mellow notes are not without a certain charm. A rather striking effect is produced when it is used in the temple ritual as a sort of rhythmical accompaniment, when it plays the part of kannagolu or tālavinyāsa." In a petition from two natives of the city of Madras in 1734, in connection with the expenses for erecting a town called Chintadrepettah, the following occurs : "Expended towards digging a foundation, where chanks was buried with accustomary ceremonies." A right-handed chank (i.e., one which has its spiral opening to the right), which was found off the coast of Ceylon at Jaffna in 1887, was sold for Rs. 700. Such a chank is said to have been sometimes priced at a lakh of rupees ; and, writing in 1813, Milburn says** that a chank opening to the right hand is greatly valued, and always sells for its weight in gold. Further, Baldaeus narrates the legend that Garroude flew in all haste to Brahma, and brought to Kistna the chianko or kinkhorn twisted to the right. The chank appears as a symbol on coins of the Chālukyan and Pāndyan dynasties of Southern India, and on the modern coins of the Mahārājas of Travancore.
Temple worship is entirely based on Āgamas. As Brāhmans take part only in the worship of Siva and Vishnu, temples dedicated to these gods are largely frequented by them. The duties connected with the actual worship of the idol are carried out by Gurukkals [S. 330] in Siva temples, and by Pāncharatra or Vaikhānasa Archakas in Vishnu temples. The cooking of the food for the daily offering is done by Brāhmans called Parchārakas. At the time of worship, some Brāhmans, called Adhyāpakas, recite the Vedas. Some stanzas from Thiruvāimozhi or Thevāram are also repeated, the former by Brāhmans at Vishnu temples, and the latter by Pandārams (Oduvar) at Siva temples. In a typical temple there are usually two idols, one of stone (mūla vigraha) and the other of metal (utsava vigraha). The mūla vigraha is permanently fixed within the inner shrine or garbagraha, and the utsava vigraha is intended to be carried in procession. The mūla vigrahas of Vishnu temples are generally in human form, either in a standing posture, or, as in the case of Ranganātha, Padmanābha, and Govindarājaswāmi, in a reclining posture, on Ādisesha. Ordinarily, three idols constitute the mūla vigraha. These are Vishnu, Sridevi (Lakshmi), and Bhudevi (earth goddess). In temples dedicated to Sri Rāma, Lakshmana is found instead of Bhudevi. Sridevi and Bhudevi are also associated with Vishnu in the utsava vigraha. In all the larger temples, there is a separate building in the temple precincts dedicated to Lakshmi, and within the garbagraha thereof, called thāyar or nāchiyar sannadhi, is a mūla vigraha of Lakshmi. There may also be one or more shrines dedicated to the Ālvars (Vaishnava saints) and the Āchāryas Desikar and Manavāla Mahāmunigal. The sect mark is put on the faces of the mūla and utsava vigrahas. The mūla vigraha in Siva temples is a lingam (phallic emblem). In Siva temples, there is within the garbagraha only one lamp burning, which emits a very feeble light. Hence arise the common sayings "As dim as the light burning in Siva's temple," or "Like the lamp [S. 331] in Siva's temple." The utsava vigraha is in the human forms of Siva and Parvathi. In all important Saivite temples, Parvathi is housed in a separate building, as Lakshmi is in Vishnu temples. Vigneswara, Subramanya, and the important Nāyanmars also have separate shrines in the temple precincts.
So far as ordinary daily worship is concerned, there is not much difference in the mode of worship between temple and domestic worship. Every item is done on a large scale, and certain special Āgamic or Tantric rites are added to the sixteen Upachāras already mentioned. At the present time, there are, especially in the case of Vishnu temples, two forms of temple worship, called Pāncharatra and Vaikhānasa. In the former, which is like domestic worship in all essential points, any Brāhman may officiate as temple priest. In the latter, only Vaikhānasa Archakas may officiate.
All big temples are generally well endowed, and some temples receive from Government annual grants of money, called tasdik. The management of the temple affairs rests with the Dharmakarthas (trustees), who practically have absolute control over the temple funds. All the temple servants, such as Archakas, Parchārakas, and Adhyāpakas, and the non-Brāhman servants (sweepers, flower-gatherers, musicians and dancing-girls) are subject to the authority of the Dharmakartha. For their services in the temple, these people are paid partly in money, and partly in kind. The cooked food, which is offered daily to the god, is distributed among the temple servants. On ordinary days, the offerings of cooked food made by the Archakas, and the fruits brought by those who come to worship, are offered only to the mūla vigraha, whereas, on festival days, they are offered to the utsava vigrahas. [S. 332]
For worship in Vishnu temples, flowers and tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) are used. In Siva temples, bilva (bael : Aegle Marmelos) leaves are substituted for tulsi. At the close of the worship, the Archaka gives to those present thīrtham (holy water), tulsi or bilva leaves, and vibhūthi (sacred ashes) according to the nature of the temple. At Vishnu temples, immediately after the giving of thīrtham, an inverted bowl, bearing on it the feet of Vishnu (satāri or sadagopam), is placed by the Archaka first on the head, and then on the right shoulder, and again on the head, in the case of grown up and married males, and only on the head in the case of females and young people. The bowl is always kept near the mūla vigraha, and, on festival days, when the god is taken in procession through the streets, it is carried along with the utsava vigraha. On festival days, such as Dhipāvali, Vaikunta Ekādasi, Dwādasi, etc., the god of the temple is taken in procession through the main streets of the town or village. The idol, thus borne in procession, is not the stone figure, but the portable one made of metal (utsava vigraha), which is usually kept in the temple in front of the Mūla idol. At almost every important temple, an annual festival called Brahmotsavam, which usually lasts ten days, is celebrated. Every night during this festival, the god is seated on the clay, wooden or metal figure of some animal as a vehicle, e.g., Garuda, horse, elephant, bull, Hanumān, peacock, yāli, etc., and taken in procession, accompanied by a crowd of Brāhmans chanting the Vedas and Tamil Nālayara Prapandhams, if the temple is an important one. Of the vehicles or vāhanams, Hanumān and Garuda are special to Vishnu, and the bull (Nandi) and tiger to Siva. The others are common to both deities. During the month of May, the festival [S. 333] of the god Varadarāja takes place annually. On one of the ten days of this festival, the idol, which has gone through a regular marriage ceremony, is placed on an elaborately decorated car (ratha), and dragged through the main streets. The car frequently bears a number of carved images of a very obscene nature, the object of which, it is said, is to avert the evil eye. Various castes, besides Brāhmans, take part in temple worship, at which the saints of both Siva and Vishnu -- Nāyanmar and Ālvars -- are worshipped. The Brāhmans do not entirely ignore the worship of the lower deities, such as Māriamma, Muneswara, Kodamanitaya, etc. At Udipi in South Canara, the centre of the Mādhva cult, where Mādhva preached his Dvaitic philosophy, and where there are several mutts presided over by celibate priests, the Brāhmans often make a vow to the Bhūthas (devils) of the Paravas and Nalkes. Quite recently, we saw an orthodox Shivalli Brāhman, employed under the priest of one of the Udipi mutts, celebrating the nema (festival) of a bhūtha named Panjurli, in fulfilment of a vow made when his son was ill. The Nalke devil-dancers were sent for, and the dance took place in the courtyard of the Brāhman's house. During the leaf festival at Periyapalayam near Madras, Brāhman males and females may be seen wearing leafy twigs of margosa (Melia Azadirachta), and going round the Māriamma shrine.
I pass on to a detailed consideration of the various classes of Brāhmans met with in Southern India. Of these, the Tamil Brāhmans, or Drāvidas proper, are most numerous in the southern districts. They are divided into the following sections :
The Vadamas claim to be superior to the other classes, but will dine with all the sections, except Gurukkals and Prathamasākis, and, in some places, will even eat with Prathamasākis. The sub-divisions among the Vadamas are :
All these are Smarthas, who use as their sect mark either the ūrdhvapundram (straight mark made with sandal paste) or the circular mark, and rarely the cross lines. They worship both Siva and Vishnu, and generally read Purānas about Vishnu. Some Vadamas use the Vaishnava nāmam as their sect mark, and are called Kiththunāmakkārar. They follow the Smartha customs in every way. There is a common saying "Vadamam muththi Vaishnavam," i.e., a Vadama ripens into a Vaishnava. This is literally true. Some Vadama families, who put on the ūrdhvapundram mark, and follow the Smartha customs, observe pollution whenever a death occurs in certain Sri Vaishnava families. This [S. 335] is because the Sri Vaishnavas are Vadamas recently converted into Vaishnava families.
The Kesigals, or Hiranyakesikal (men of the silvery hair), as they are sometimes called, closely resemble the Vadamas, but are an exclusive endogamous unit, and highly conservative and orthodox. They are called Hiranyakesikal or Hiranyakesis because they follow the Grihya Sūtras of Hiranyakesi. It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Tanjore district, that they "are peculiar in all having one common Sūtram called the Sathyāshāda after a common ancestor."
(c) Brahacharnam (the great sect).
The Brahacharnams are more Saivite, and more orthodox than the Vadamas. They put on vibhūti (sacred ashes) and sandal paste horizontal lines as their sect mark. The sub-division Sathyamangalam Brahacharnam seems, however, to be an exception, as some members thereof put on the Vaishnavite sect mark at all times, or at least during the month of Purattāsi, which is considered sacred to the god Venkataramana of Tirupati. The more orthodox Brahacharnams wear a single rudrāksha bead, or a necklace of beads, and some make lingams out of these beads, which they put on the head during worship. They generally worship five gods, viz., Siva in the form of a lingam, spatika (crystal) lingam, Vishnu, Ganesa, and Iswara. It is said that Brahacharnam women can be distinguished by the mode of tying the cloth, which is not worn so as to reach to the feet, but reaches only to just below the knees. The Brahacharnams are sub-divided into the following sections :
[S. 336] It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Tanjore district, that "one ceremony peculiar to the Milaganur Brahacharnams is that, before the principal marriage ceremonies of the first day, a feast is given to four married women, a widow, and a bachelor. This is called the adrisya pendugal (invisible women) ceremony. It is intended to propitiate four wives belonging to this sub-division, who are said to have been cruelly treated by their mother-in-law, and cursed the class. They are represented to have feasted a widow, and to have then disappeared."
The Vathimas, or Madhimas, are most numerous in the Tanjore district, and are thus described in the Gazetteer : "The Vattimas are grouped into three smaller sub-sections, of which one is called 'the eighteen village Vattimas,' from the fact that they profess (apparently with truth) to have lived till recently in only eighteen villages, all of them in this district. They have a marked character of their own, which may be briefly described. They are generally money-lenders, and consequently are unpopular with their neighbours, who are often blind to their virtues and unkind to their failings. [There is a proverb that the Vadamas are always economical, and the Vathimas always unite together.] It is a common reproach against them that they are severe to those who are in their debt, and parsimonious in their household expenditure. To this latter characteristic is attributed their general abstinence from dholl (the usual accompaniment of a Brāhman meal), and their preference for a cold supper instead of a hot meal. The women work as hard as the men, making mats, selling buttermilk, and lending money on their own account, and are declared to be as keen in money-making and usury as their brothers. They, however, possess many amiable traits. They are well known for a [S. 337] generous hospitality on all great occasions, and no poor guest or Brāhman mendicant has ever had reason to complain in their houses that he is being served worse than his richer or more influential fellows. Indeed, if anything, he fares the better for his poverty. Again, they are unusually lavish in their entertainments at marriages ; but their marriage feasts have the peculiarity that, whatever the total amount expended, a fixed proportion is always paid for the various items so much per cent, for the pandal, so much per cent, for food, and so on. Indeed it is asserted that a beggar who sees the size of the marriage pandal will be able to guess to a nicety the size of the present he will get. Nor, again, at their marriages, do they haggle about the marriage settlement, since they have a scale, more or less fixed and generally recognised, which determines these matters. There is less keen competition for husbands among them, since their young men marry at an earlier age more invariably than among the other sub-divisions. The Vattimas are clannish. If a man fails to pay his dues to one of them, the word is passed round, and no other man of the subdivision will ever lend his money. They sometimes unite to light their villages by private subscription, and to see to its sanitation, and, in a number of ways, they exhibit a corporate unity. Till quite recently they were little touched by English education ; but a notable exception to this general statement existed in the late Sir A. Seshayya Sastri, who was of Vattima extraction."
The sub-divisions of the Vattimas are :
(e) Ashtasahasram (eight thousand).
This class is considered to be inferior to the Brahacharnams and Vadamas. The members thereof are, like the Brahacharnams, more Saivite than the Vadamas. The females are said to wear their cloth very elegantly, and with the lower border reaching so low as to cover the ankles.
The sub-divisions of the Ashtasahasrams are :
As their numbers are few, though the sub-divisions are endogamous, intermarriage is not entirely prohibited.
Another name for this section is Thillai Mūvāyiravar, i.e., the three thousand of Thillai (now Chidambaram). There is a tradition that three thousand people started from Benares, and, when they reached Chidambaram, they were one short. This confused them, but they were pacified when Siva explained that he was the missing individual. The Dīkshitars form a limited community of only several hundred families. The men, like Nāyars and Nambūtiri Brāhmans of the west coast, wear the hair tuft on the front of the head. They do not give their girls in marriage to other sections of Brāhmans, and they do not allow their women to leave Chidambaram. Hence arises the proverb "A Thillai girl never crosses the boundary line." The Dīkshitars are priests of the temple of Natarāja at Chidambaram, whereat they serve by turns. Males marry very early in life, and it is very difficult to secure a girl for marriage above the age of five. The tendency to marry when very young is due to the fact that only married persons have a voice in the management of [S. 339] the affairs of the temple, and an individual must be married before he can get a share of the temple income. The chief sources of income are the pāvādam and kattalai (heaps of cooked rice piled up or spread on a board), which are offered to the god. Every Dīkshitar will do his best to secure clients, of whom the best are Nāttukottai Chettis. The clients are housed and looked after by the Dīkshitars. Concerning the Dīkshitars, Mr. W. Francis writes as follows*:
As a class the Dīkshitars are haughty, and refuse to acknowledge any of the Sankarachariars as their priests, because they are almost equal to the god Siva, who is one of them. If a Sankarachariar comes to the temple, he is not allowed to take sacred ashes direct from the cup, as is done at other temples to show respect to the Sanyāsi. The Dīkshitars are mostly Yejur Vedis, though a few are followers of the Rig Veda. When a girl attains puberty, she goes in procession, after the purificatory bath, to every Dīkshitar's house, and receives presents.
The Sholiars are divided into the following sections :
[S. 341] Concerning the Sholiars, Mr. C. Ramachendrier writes as follows*:
In an article on the Sholiars,* it is recorded that
Another proverb is to the effect that "the kudumi (hair tuft) on the head of a Sholiar does not shake without sufficient reason," i.e., it is a sign that he is bent upon doing some mischief.
The Mukkānis are Smarthas confined to the Cochin and Travancore States.
Concerning the Kāniyālars, Mr. Ramachendrier writes as follows :
The Sankethis are confined to the Mysore Province. They speak a very corrupt form of Tamil, mixed with Canarese. The following account of them is given in the Mysore Census Report, 1891.
These follow the white Yajur Veda, and are hence called Sukla Yejur Vedis. The white Yajus forms the first fifteen sākas of the Yejur Veda, and this is in consequence sometimes called Prathamasāka. The Prathamasākis are sometimes called Kātyayana (followers of Kātyayana Sūtram), Vājusaneya, and Madyandanas. The two last names occur among their Pravara and Gotra Rishis. The Prathamasākis are found among all the linguistic sections. Among Smarthas, Āndhras, and Vaishnavas, they are regarded as inferior. Carnātaka Prathamasākis are, on the other hand, not considered inferior by the other sections of Carnātakas. In the Tanjore district, the Prathamasākis are said to be known as Madyana Paraiyans. The following quaint legend is recorded in the Gazetteer of that district :
Several versions of stories accounting for their pollution are extant, and the following is a version given by Mr. Ramachendrier.
Another version of the legend runs as follows. Vaisampayanar used to visit the king almost every day, and bless him by giving akshatha or sacred rice. One day, as Vaisampayanar could not go, he gave the rice grains to his disciple Yagnavalkiar, and told him to take them to the king. Accordingly, Yagnavalkiar went to the king's palace, and found the throne empty. Being impatient by nature, he left the rice grains on the throne, and returned to his priest. The king, when he returned home, found his throne changed into gold, and certain plants were growing round his seat. On enquiry, he discovered that this marvellous effect was due to the sacred akshatha. He sent word to Vaisampayanar to send the rice grains by his disciple who had brought them. Yagnavalkiar refused, and was told to vomit [S. 347] the Vedas. Readily he vomited, and, going to the Sun, learnt the Veda from him. As the Sun is always in motion sitting in his car, the Vedas could not be learnt without mistakes and peculiar sounds. When he came to his Guru Vaisampayanar, Yagnavalkiar was cursed to become a Chandāla. The curse was subsequently modified, as the Sun interceded on behalf of Yagnavalkiar.
The Gurukkals are all followers of the Bodhayana Sūtras. They are temple priests, and other Brāhmans regard them as inferior, and will not eat with them. Even in temples, the Gurukkals sprinkle water over the food when it is offered to the god, but do not touch the food. They may not live in the same quarters with other Brāhmans. No agrahāram (Brāhman quarter) will ever contain a Gurukkal's house. There should, strictly speaking, be at least a lane separating the houses of the Gurukkals from those of other Brāhmans. This is, however, not rigidly observed at the present day. For example, at Shiyali, Gurukkals and other Brāhmans live in the same street.
There are among the Gurukkals the following subdivisions:
The Tiruvalangad Gurukkals mark their bodies with vibhūti (sacred ashes) in sixteen places, viz., head, face, neck, chest, navel, knees, two sides of the abdomen, back and hands (three places on each hand). The other two sub-divisions mark themselves in eight places, viz., head, face, neck, chest, knees and hands. Gurukkals who wish to become priests have to go through several stages of initiation called Dīkshai (see Pandāram). Gurukkals are Saivites to a greater extent than the [S. 348] Smarthas, and do not regard themselves as disciples of Sankarāchārya. Those who are orthodox, and are temple priests, should not see the corpses of Pandārams and other non-Brāhman castes. The sight of such a corpse is supposed to heap sin on them, and pollute them, so that they are unfit for temple worship.
The Vaishnavas, or Sri Vaishnavas, as they are sometimes called to distinguish them from the Mādhvas, who are also called Vaishnavas, are all converts from Smarthas, though they profess to constitute a distinct section. Some are converts from Telugu Smarthas, and are called Āndhra Vaishnavas. These do not mix with other Tamil-speaking Vaishnavas, and retain some of the Telugu customs. There are two distinct groups of Sri Vaishnavas -- the Vadagalais (northerners) and Thengalais (southerners), who are easily distinguished by the marks on their foreheads. The Vadagalais put on a U-shaped mark, and the Thengalais a Y-shaped mark. The white mark is made with a kind of kaolin called tiruman, and turmeric rendered red by means of alkali is used for the central streak. The turmeric, as applied by the more orthodox, is of a yellow instead of red colour. Orthodox Sri Vaishnavas are very exclusive, and hold that they co-existed as a separate caste of Brāhmans with the Smarthas. But it was only after Rāmānuja's teaching that the Vaishnavas seceded from the Smarthas, and the ranks were swollen by frequent additions from amongst the Vadamas. There are some families of Vaishnavas which observe pollution when there is a death in certain Smartha families, which belong to the same gotra. Vaishnavas of some places, e.g., Valavanur, Savalai, and Perangiyur, in the South Arcot district, are considered low by the orthodox sections of Vaishnavas, because they are recent converts to [S. 349] Vaishnavism. A good example of Smarthas becoming Vaishnavas is afforded by the Thummagunta Drāvidas, some of whom have become Vaishnavas, but still take girls in marriage from Smartha families, but do not give their daughters in marriage to Smarthas. All Vaishnavas are expected to undergo a ceremony of initiation into Vaishnavism after the Upanayanam ceremony. At the time of initiation, they are branded with the marks of the chakram and sankha (chank) on the right and left shoulders respectively. The Vaikhānasas and Pāncharatras regard the branding as unnecessary. The ceremony of initiation (samāsrayanam) is usually performed by the head of a mutt. Sometimes, however, it is carried out by an elderly member of the family of the candidate. Such families go by the name of Swayam Āchārya Purushas (those who have their own men as Āchāryas).
For Vadagalais there are two mutts. Of these, the Ahobila mutt was formerly at Tiruvallur, but its head-quarters has been transferred to Narasimhapuram near Kumbakonam. The Parakālaswāmi mutt is in the Mysore Province. For Thengalais there are three mutts, at Vanamamalai and Sriperumbudur in Chingleput, and Tirukoilur in South Arcot. These are called respectively the Tothādri, Ethirājajhir, and Emberumānar mutts. There are various points of difference between Vadagalais and Thengalais, which sometimes lead to bitter quarrels in connection with temple worship. During the procession of the god at temple festivals, both Vadagalais and Thengalais go before and after the god, repeating Sanskrit Vedas and Tamil Prapandhams respectively. Before commencing these, certain slokas are recited, in one of which the Vadagalais use the expression Rāmānuja dayā pātram, and the Thengalais [S. 350] the expression Srisailesa dayā pātram, and a quarrel ensues in consequence. The main differences between the two sections are summarised as follows in the Mysore Census Report, 1891:
"The tenets which form the bone of contention between the Tengales and Vadagales are stated to number 18, and seem to cluster round a few cardinal items of controversy :
The points of difference between Vadagalais and Thengalais are thus described by Mr. V. N. Narasimmiyengar*:
In a note on the two sects of the Vaishnavas in the Madras Presidency, the Rev. C. E. Kennet writes as follows*:
The Hebbar and Mandya sections belong to the Mysore Province, in which the former are very numerous. The latter are few in number, and confined to Mandya and Melkote, Some families have settled in the city of Madras, where they are employed as merchants, bank clerks, attorneys, etc.
The Mandyas say that they migrated to Mysore from some place near Tirupati. Though both the Hebbar and Mandya Brāhmans speak Tamil, some details peculiar to Carnātakas are included in the marriage ceremonial.
The Vaishnava Sholiars are considered somewhat low in the social scale. Intermarriage takes place between Smartha and Vaishnavite Sholiars. The Vaikhānasas and Pāncharatras are temple priests (archakas). Both use as their title Dīkshitar. Sometimes they are called Nambi, but this term is more used to denote Sātāni temple servants.
Reference may here be made to the Pattar Brāhmans, who are Tamil Brāhmans, who have settled in Malabar. The name is said to be derived from the Sanskrit bhatta. It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that
In connection with the Ārya Pattars, it is recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, that
The Telugu-speaking Brāhmans are all Āndhras, who differ from Tamil Brāhmans in some [S. 357] of their marriage and death ceremonies, female attire, and sectarian marks. Telugu Brāhman women wear their cloth without passing it between the legs, and the free end of the skirt is brought over the left shoulder. The sect mark consists of three horizontal streaks of sacred ashes on the forehead, or a single streak of sandal paste (gandham). In the middle of the streak is a circular black spot (akshintalu or akshintalu bottu). The marriage badge is a circular plate of gold, called bottu, attached to a thread, on which black glass beads are frequently strung. A second bottu, called nāgavali bottu, is tied on the bride's neck on the nāgavali day. During the time when the bridegroom is performing the vrata ceremony, the bride is engaged in the worship of Gauri. She sits in a new basket filled with paddy (unhusked rice) or cholam (Andropogon Sorghum). On the return from the mock pilgrimage (kāsiyātra), the bride and bridegroom sit facing each other on the dais, with a screen interposed between them. Just before the bottu is tied on the bride's neck by the bridegroom, the screen is lowered. During the marriage ceremony, both the bride and bridegroom wear clothes dyed with turmeric, until the nāgavali day. Among Tamil Brāhmans, the bridegroom wears a turmeric-dyed cloth, and the bride may wear a silk cloth. Immediately after the tying of the bottu, the contracting couple throw rice over each other, and those assembled pour rice over their heads. This is called Talambralu.
Taken as a class, the Telugu Brāhmans are very superstitious, and the females perform a very large number of vratams. Of the vratams performed by Telugu and Canarese females, both Brāhman and non-Brāhman, the following account is given in the Manual of the Nellore district.
The sub-divisions of the Telugu Brāhmans are as follows :
All these sections are endogamous, and will eat together, except the Tambalas, who correspond to the Gurukkals among the Tamil Brāhmans. Vaidikis are supposed to be superior to Niyogis. The former do not generally grow moustaches, while the latter do. For srādh ceremonies, Niyogis do not generally sit as Brāhmans representing the ancestors, Vaidikis being engaged for this purpose. In some places, e.g., the Nandigama tāluk of the Kistna district, the Niyogis are not referred to by the name Brāhman, Vaidikis being so called. Even Niyogis themselves point to Vaidikis when asked about Brāhmans.
Velnādu, Murikinādu, and Veginādu seem to be territorial names, and they occur also among some of the non-Brāhman castes. The Ārādhyas are dealt with in a special article (see Ārādhya). Among the Karnakammas are certain sub-sections, such as Ogoti and [S. 366] Koljedu. They all belong to Rig Sāka. Of the Telaganyams, some follow the Rig Veda, and others the Yejur Veda (both black and white Yajus). The Nandavarikulu are all Rig Vedis, and regard Chaudeswari, the goddess of the Devāngas, as their tutelary deity. When a Nandavariki Brāhman goes to a Devānga temple, he is treated with much respect, and the Devānga priest gives up his place to the Nandavariki for the time being. The Nandavariki Brāhmans are, in fact, gurus or priests to the Devāngas.
A special feature of the Telugu Brāhmans is that, like the Telugu non-Brāhman classes, they have house names or intiperulu, of which the following are examples : Kota (fort), Lanka (island), Puchcha (Citrullus Colocynthis), Chintha (tamarind), Kākī (crow). Niyogi house-names sometimes terminate with the word rāzu.
The sub-divisions of the Carnātakas or Canarese-speaking Brāhmans are as follows :
The Carnātakas very closely resemble the Āndhras in their ceremonial observances, and, like them, attach much importance to vratams. The Mādhva Carnātakas are recent converts from Carnātaka or Āndhra Smarthas. The Pennaththurars are supposed to be Tamil Brāhmans converted into Mādhvas. They retain some of the customs peculiar to the Tamil Brāhmans. The [S. 367] marriage badge, for example, is the Tamil tāli and not the bottu. Intermarriages between Smarthas and Mādhvas of the same section are common. Mādhvas, excepting the very orthodox, will take food with both Carnātaka and Āndhra Smarthas.
The Mārakas are thus described by Mr. Lewis Rice.*
It is recorded, in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, that
The Mādhva Brāhmans commence the marriage ceremony by asking the ancestors of the bridal couple to bless them, and be present throughout the performance of the rites. To represent the ancestors, a ravike (bodice) and dhotra (man's cloth) are tied to a stick, which is placed near the box containing the sālagrāma stone and household gods. In consequence of these ancestors being represented, orthodox Vaidiki Brāhmans refuse to take food in the marriage house. When the bridegroom is conducted to the marriage booth by his future father-in-law, all those who have taken part in the Kāsiyātra ceremony, throw rice over him. A quaint ceremony, called rangavriksha (drawing), is performed on the morning of the second day. After the usual playing with balls of flowers (nalagu or nalangu), the bridegroom takes hold of the right hand of the bride, and, after dipping her right forefinger in turmeric and chunam (lime) paste, traces on a white wall the outline of a plantain tree, of which a sketch has previously been made by a married woman. The tracing goes on for three days. First the base of the plant is drawn, and, on the evening of the third day, it is completed by putting in the flower spikes. On the third night the bridegroom is served with sweets and other refreshments by his mother-in-law, from whose hands he snatches the vessels containing them. He picks out what he likes best, and scatters the remainder about the room. The pollution caused thereby is removed by sprinkling water and cow-dung, which is done by the cook engaged for the marriage by the bridegroom's family. After washing his hands, the bridegroom goes home, taking with him a silver vessel, which he surreptitiously removes from near the gods. Along with this vessel he is supposed to steal a rope for drawing water, [S. 370] and a rice-pounding stone. But in practice he only steals the vessel, and the other articles are claimed by his people on their return home.
Branding for religious purposes is confined to Sri Vaishnavas and Mādhvas. Sri Vaishnava Brāhmans are expected to undergo this ordeal at least once during their life-time, whereas Mādhva Brāhmans have to submit to it as often as they visit their guru (head of a mutt). Of men of other castes, those who become followers of a Vaishnava or Mādhva Āchārya (guru) or mutt, are expected to present themselves before the guru for the purpose of being branded. But the ceremony is optional, and not compulsory as in the case of the Brāhmans. Among Sri Vaishnavites, the privilege of branding is confined to the elder members of a family, Sanyāsis (ascetics), and the heads of the various mutts. All individuals, male and female, must be branded, after the Upanayanam ceremony in the case of males, and after marriage in the case of females. The disciples, after a purificatory bath and worship of their gods, proceed to the residence of the Āchārya or to the mutt, where they are initiated into their religion, and branded with the chakra on the right shoulder and chank on the left. The initiation consists in imparting to the disciple, in a very low tone, the Mūla Mantram, the word Namonarāyanāya, the sacred syllable Om, and a few mantrams from the Brahma Rahasyam (secrets about god). A person who has not been initiated thus is regarded as unfit to take part in the ceremonies which have to be performed by Brāhmans. Even close relations, if orthodox, will refuse to take food prepared or touched by the uninitiated. Concerning Mādhvas, Monier Williams writes as follows*:
"They [S. 371] firmly believe that it is a duty of Vaishnavas to carry throughout life a memorial of their god on their persons, and that such a lasting outward and visible sign of his presence helps them to obtain salvation through him. 'On his right armlet the Brāhman wears the discus, on his left the conch shell.' When I was at Tanjore, I found that one of the successors of Mādhva had recently arrived on his branding visitation. He was engaged throughout the entire day in stamping his disciples, and receiving fees from all according to their means."
Mādhvas have four mutts to which they repair for the branding ceremony, viz., Vayasaraya, Sumathendra and Mūlabagal in Mysore, and Uttarāja in South Canara. The followers of the Uttarāja mutt are branded in five places in the case of adult males, and boys after the thread investiture. The situations and emblems selected are the chakra on the right upper arm, right side of the chest, and above the navel ; the chank on the left shoulder and left side of the chest. Women, and girls after marriage, are branded with the chakra on the right forearm, and the chank on the left. In the case of widows, the marks are impressed on the shoulders as in the case of males. The disciples of the three other mutts are generally branded with the chakra on the right upper arm, and chank on the left. As the branding is supposed to remove sins committed during the interval, they get it done every time they see their guru. There is with Mādhvas no restriction as to the age at which the ceremony should be performed. Even a newborn babe, after the pollution period of ten days, must receive the mark of the chakra, if the guru should turn up. Boys before the upanayanam, and girls before marriage, are branded with the chakra on the abdomen just above the navel. The copper or brass branding [S. 372] instruments (mudras) are not heated to a very high temperature, but sufficient to singe the skin, and leave a deep black mark in the case of adults, and a light mark in that of young people and babies. In some cases, disciples, who are afraid of being hurt, bribe the person who heats the instruments ; but, as a rule, the guru regulates the temperature so as to suit the individual. If, for example, the disciple is a strong, well-built man, the instruments are well heated, and, if he is a weakling, they are allowed to cool somewhat before their application. If the operator has to deal with babies, he presses the instrument against a wet rag before applying it to the infant's skin. Some Matathipathis (head priests of the mutt) are, it is said, inclined to be vindictive, and to make a very hot application of the instruments, if the disciple has not paid the fee (gurukānika) to his satisfaction. The fee is not fixed in the case of Sri Vaishnavas, whereas Mādhvas are expected to pay from one to three months' income for being branded. Failure to pay is punished with excommunication on some pretext or other. The area of skin branded generally peels off within a week, leaving a pale mark of the mudra, which either disappears in a few months, or persists throughout life. Mādhvas should stamp mudras with gopi paste (white kaolin) daily on various parts of the body. The names of these mudras are chakra, chank or sankha, gātha (the weapon of war used by Bhīma, one of the Pāndavas), padma (lotus), and Narāyana. The chakra is stamped thrice on the abdomen above the navel, twice on the right flank, twice on the right side of the chest above the nipple, twice on the right arm, once on the right temple, once on the left side of the chest, and once on the left arm. The chank is stamped twice on the right side of the [S. 373] chest, in two places on the left arm, and once on the left temple. The gātha is stamped in two places on the right arm, twice on the chest, and in one spot on the forehead. The padma is stamped twice on the left arm, and twice on the left side of the chest. Narāyana is stamped on all places where other mudra marks have been made. Sometimes it is difficult to put on all the marks after the daily morning bath. In such cases, a single mudra mark, containing all the five mudras, is made to suffice. Some regard the chakra mudra as sufficient on occasions of emergency.
The god Hanumān (the monkey god) is specially reverenced by Mādhvas, who call him Mukyaprānadevaru (the chief god).
The Tulu-speaking Brāhmans are, in their manners and customs, closely allied to the Carnātakas. Their sub-divisions are
The following interesting account of the Tulu Brāhmans is given by Mr. H. A. Stuart *:
In a note on the Brāhmans of South Canara, Mr. T. Raghaviah writes as follows*:
The Oriya Brāhmans of the Ganjam district belong to the Utkala section of the Pancha Gaudas. Between them and the Pancha Drāvidas there is very considerable difference. None of the sections of the Pancha Drāvidas adopt the gosha system as regards their females, whereas Oriya Brāhman women are kept gosha (in seclusion). Occasionally they go out to bring water, and, if on their way they come across any males, they go to the side of the road, and turn their backs to the passers-by. It is noted, in the Manual of the Vizagapatam district, that Oriya Brāhmans "eat many kinds of meat, as pea fowl, sambur (deer), barking deer, pigeons, wild pig, and fish." Fish must be one of the dishes prepared on festive occasions. As a rule, Oriya Brāhmans will accept water from a Gaudo (especially a Sullokondia Gaudo), and sometimes from Gudiyas and Odiyas. Water touched by Drāvida Brāhmans is considered by them to be polluted. They call the Drāvidas Komma (a corruption of Karma) Brāhmans. The Oriya Brāhmans are more particular than the Drāvidas as regards the madi cloth, which has already been referred to. A cloth intended for use as a madi cloth is never given to a washerman to be washed, and it is not worn by the Oriya Brāhmans when they answer the calls of nature, but removed, and replaced after bathing. Marriage with a maternal uncle's daughter, which is common among the Drāvida Brāhmans, would be considered [S.387] an act of sacrilege by Oriyas. When an Oriya Brāhman is charged with being a meat eater, he retorts that it is not nearly so bad as marrying a mathulakanya (maternal uncle's daughter). The marriage tāli or bottu is dispensed with by Oriya Brāhmans, who, at marriages, attach great importance to the panigrahanam (grasping the bride's hand) and saptapadi (seven steps). The Oriya Brāhmans are both Smarthas and Vaishnavas who are generally Paramarthos or followers of Chaitanya. The god Jagannātha of Puri is reverenced by them, and they usually carry about with them some of the prasadham (food offered to the god) from Puri. They are divided into the following twelve sections :
It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that
VII. Sārasvat and Konkani.
Both these classes belong to the Gauda branch, and speak the Konkani language. The original habitation of the Konkanis is said to have been the bank of the Sarasvati, a river well known in early Sanskrit works, but said to have subsequently lost itself in the sands of the desert, north of Rājputana. As they do not abstain from fish, the other Brāhmans among whom they have settled regard them as low. The full name as given by the Konkanis is Gauda Sārasvata Konkanastha. All the Konkani Brāhmans found in South Canara are Rig Vedis. Like the Shivalli Brāhmans, they have numerous exogamous septs, which are used as titles after their names. For example, Prabhu is a sept, and Krishna Prabhu the name of an individual. A large majority of the Konkani Brāhmans are Mādhvas, and their god is Venkatarāmana of Tirupati, to whom their temples in South Canara are dedicated. Other Brāhmans do not go to the Konkani temples, though non-Brāhmans do so. A very striking feature of the Konkani temples is that the god Venkatarāmana is not represented by an idol, but by a silver plate with the image of the god embossed on it. There are three important temples, at Manjeshwar, Mulki, and Karkal. To these are attached Konkani Brāhmans called [S. 390] Darsanas, or men who get inspired. The Darsana attached to the Mulki temple comes there daily about 11 A.M. After worship, he is given thīrtham (holy water), which he drinks. Taking in his hands the prasadam (offering made to the god), he comes out, and commences to shiver all over his body for about ten minutes. The shivering then abates, and a cane and long strip of deer skin are placed in his hands, with which he lashes himself on the back, sides, and head. Holy water is given to him, and the shivering ceases. Those who have come to the temple put questions to the Darsana, which are answered in Konkani, and translated. He understands his business thoroughly, and usually recommends the people to make presents of money or jewels to Venkatarāmana, according to their means. In 1907, a rich Guzerati merchant, who was doing business at Mangalore, visited the temple, and consulted the Darsana concerning the condition of his wife, who was pregnant. The Darsana assured him that she would be safely delivered of a male child, and made him promise to present to the temple silver equal in weight to that of his wife, should the prophecy be realised. The prediction proving true, the merchant gave silver, sugar-candy, and date fruits, to the required weight at a cost, it is said, of five thousand rupees. At the Manjeshwar temple, the Darsana is called the dumb Darsana, as he gives signs instead of speaking. At a marriage among the Konkanis, for the Nāgavali ceremony eight snakes are made out of rice or wheat flour by women and the bridal couple. By the side of the pot representing Siva and Parvati, a mirror is placed. Close to the Nāgavali square, it is customary to draw on the ground the figures of eight elephants and eight Bairavas in flour. [S. 391]
The following account of the Konkanis is given in the Cochin Census Report, 1901 :
In conclusion, brief mention may be made of several other immigrant classes. Of these, the Desasthas are Marāthi-speaking Brāhmans, who have adopted some of the customs of the Smartha and Mādhva Carnatacas, [S. 393] with whom intermarriage is permitted. A special feature of the marriage ceremonies of the Desasthas is the worship of Ambābhavāni or Tuljabhavāni, with the assistance of Gondala musicians, who sing songs in praise of the deity. The Chitpvan Brāhmans speak Marāthi and Konkani. In South Canara they are, like the Havīks, owners of areca palm plantations. Karādi Brāhmans, who are also found in South Canara, are said to have come southward from Karhād in the Bombay Presidency. There is a tradition that Parasu Rāma created them from camel bones.