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JUGGERNAUT IN BENGAL.
Lest it should be supposed that the rites of Juggernaut are confined to the temple in Orissa, or that the Hindoos there practice a more criminal superstition than they do in other places, it may be proper to notice the effects of the same idolatry in Bengal. The English nation will not expect to hear that the blood of Juggernaut is known at Calcutta : but, alas, it is shed at the very doors of the English, almost under the eye of the superme goverment. Moloch has many a tower in the province of Bengal, that fair and fertile province which has been called "The garden of nations." Close to Ishera, a beautiful villa on the river's side, about eight miles from Calcutta, once the residence of governor Hastings, and with in view of the present governor-general's country house, there is a temple of this idol which is often stained with human blood. At the festival of the Rutt Jattra in May 1807, the author visited it, on his return from the south of India, having heard that its rites were similar to those of Juggernaut. "Juggernaut's Temple, near Ishera, on the Ganges;
“Rutt Juttra, May, 1807. “This tower here is drawn along, like that at Juggernaut, by cables. The number of worshippers at this festival is computed to be about a hundred thousand. The tower is covered with indecent emblems, which were freshly painted for the occasion, and were the objects of sensuai gaze by both sexes. One of the victims of this year was a well made oung man, of healthy appearance and comely aspect. He had a garland of flowers round his neck, and his long black hair was dishevelled. 'He danced for
while before the idol, singing in an enthusiastic strain, and then rushing suddenly to the wheels, he shed his blood under the tower of obscenity. I was not at
the spot at the time, my attention having been engaged by a more pleasing scene.
"On the other side, on a rising ground by the sile of a Tank, stood the Christain Missionararies, and around them a crowd of people listening to their preaching: The town of Surampore, where the Protestant Missionaries reside, is only about a mile and a half from this temple of Juggernaut. As I pass. ed through the multitude, I met several persons having the printed papers of the Missionaries in their hands. Some of them were reading them very gravely; others were laughing with each other at the contents, and saying “What do these words mean?”
"I sat down on an elevated spot to contemplate this scene; the tower of blood and impurity on the one hand, and the Christian Preachers on the other. I thought on the commandment of our Saviour, "Go ye, teach all nations.” I said to myself, "How great and glorious a ministry are these humble persons now exercising in the presence of God!" How is it applauded by the holy Angels, who "have joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth;" and how far does it transcend the work of the warrior or statesman, in charity, utility, and lasting fame? And I could not help wishing that the representatives of the chruch of Christ in
y own country had been present to witness this scene, that they might have seen how practicable it is to offer Christain instruction to our Hindoo subjects,"
IMMOLATION OF FEMALES.
BEFORE the Author proceeds to shew the happy effects of Christianity in those provinces of India where it has been introduced, it may be proper to notice in this place that other sanguinary rite of the Hindoo superstitution, the Female Sacrifice. The report of the number of women burned within the
period of six months near Calcutta, will give the reader some idea of the multitude who perish annually in India.
“REPORT of the number of Women who were
Burned Alive on the Funeral Pile of their Husbands, within thirty miles round Calcutta, from the beginning of Bysakh (15th April) to the end of Aswin (15th October) 1804.
From Gurria to Barrypore; at eleven different places*
18 From Tolly's Nullah mouth to Gurria; at seventeen different places
36 From Barrypore to Buhipore, at seven places 11 From Seebpore to Belleea; at five places
10 From Balee to Bydyabatte; at three places From Bydyabattee, to Bassbareea; at five places 10 From Calcutta to Burahnugur (or Barnagore); at four places
6 From Burahnugur to Chanok (or Barrackpore); at six places
13 From Chanok to Kachrapara; at four places 8
Total of women burned alive in six months,
near Calc utta,
"The above report was made by persons of the Hindoo cast, deputed for that purpose, under the superintendance of the professor of Shanscrit and Bengalee languages in the college of Fort-William. They were ten in number, and were stationed at different places during the period of six months. They gave in their account monthly, specifying the particulars of each immolation, so that every individual instance was subject to investigation immediately after its occurrence.
See the names of the places and other particulars in Memoir of the expediency of an ecclesiastical establishment in Britisb India.
“By an account taken in 1803, the number of women sacrified, during that year, within thirty miles round Calcutta, was two hundred and seventy-five.
“In the foregoing report of six months in 1804, it will be perceived that no account was taken of burning in a district to the west of Calcutta, nor further than twenty miles in some other directions; so that the whole number of burnings within thirty miles round Calcutta, must have been considerably greater than is here stated.”
The following account will give the reader some idea of the flagitious circumstances which sometimes attend these sacrifices.
SACRIFICE OF THE
"Calcutta, 30th Sept. 1807. "A horrid tragedy was acted, on the 12th instant, near Barnagore (a place about three miles above Calcutta). A Koolin Bramin of Cammar-hattie, by name Kristo Deb Mookerjee, died at the advanced age of ninety-two. He had twelve wives;* and three of them were burned alive with his dead body. Of these three, one was a venerable lady, having white locks, who had been long known in the neighborhood. Not being able to walk, she was carried in a palanquin to the place of burning; and was then placed by the Brahmins on the funeral pile. The two other ladies were younger; one of them of a very
The Koolin Brahmin is the purest of all Brahmios, and is privileged to marry as many wires a. he plauses. The Hindoo families account it an honor to unite their daughters with a Koolin Brahmin, “The Ghantucks or R gistrars of the Koolin cast state that Rajeb Bonnerjee, now of Onicuti, baa corty wives; and that Raj-chunder Bonnerjee, also of Calcutta, has forty-two wives and intends to marry more: that Ramraja Bonnerjee, of Bicrampore, aged thirty years, and Pooran Bonnerjec, Rajkissore Chutterjee, and Rooprara Mookerjee, have each upwards of forty wives, and intend to marry more; that Birjoo flookerjee, of Bicrampore, who died about five years ago, bad ninety wives." This account was authenticated at Calcutta in to your 1604. See furher particalars in **Memoir" before quoted.
pleasing and interesting countenance. The old lady was placed on one side of the dead husband, and the two other wives laid themselves down on the other side; and then an old Brahmin, the eldest son of the deceased, applied his torch to the pile, with unaverted face. The pile suddenly blazed, for it was covered with combustibles; and this human sacrifice was completed amidst the din of drums and cymbals, and the shouts of Brahmins. A person present observed 'Surely if Lord Minto were here, who is just come from England, and is not used to see women burned alive, he would have saved these three ladies.' The Mahomedan governors saved whom they pleased, and suffered no deluded female to commit suicide, without previous investigation of the circumstances, and official permission.
“In a discussion which this event has produced in Calcutta, the following question has been asked, Who was guilty of the blood of the old lady? for it was manifested that she could not destroy herself? She was curried to be burned. It was also alledged that the Brahmin who fired the pile was not guilty. because he was never informed by the English government, that there was any immorality in the action. On the contrary, he might argue that the English, witnessing this scene daily, as they do, without remonstrance, acquiesced in its propriety. The government in India was exculpated, on the ground that the government at home never sent any instructions on the subject; and the court of directors were exculpated, because they were the agents of others. It remained that the proprietors, of India stock, who originate and sanction all proceedings of the court of directors, were remotely accessary to the deed.”
The best vindication of the great body of proprietors, is this, that some of them never heard of the Female Sacrifice at all; and that few of them are acquainted with the full extent and frequency of.