William and Robert Chambers,
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superstition, stands on an island, made by tlie Cavry river dividing itself into two branches, and forming a junction again a few miles below. The sanctum sanctorum of the numerous structures around, is scarcely larger than a native's hut, but is highly adorned, and in some parts gilded. It is enclosed within seven successive walls, 120 yards apart; the outer wall being four miles in circumference. These walls are of great strength, twenty-five feet high, and besides common gateways, have twenty stupendous towers or pagodas over as many entrances. One of these is here delineated, and furnishes a fair specimen not only of the twenty here, but of similar structures throughout India.
A multitude of sacred edifices are scattered about, among which are some vast halls. The flat roof of one of these is supported by a thousand slender pillars of carved granite. The pavements, stairs, and lower parts of the buildings generally, are of red and grey granite and sienite. The rough slabs had evidently been split, in the manner now practised in New England. I was surprised to find that what is thought among us to be a modern invention, had been practised here for ages.
Griffins and tigers, gods and men, tolerably sculptured, adorned various parts ; and the trumpery of display days, with the cars on which the idols are drawn forth, stood in the bye-places. We saw no one performing any kind of worship.
The intervals between the walls are occupied by streets of well-built houses, and present the common aspect of a busy town. The population is about 8000. Persons of all grades and occupations reside here, and carry on their business. A very large proportion are brahmins. The other inhabitants seemed chiefly to subsist by little shops, in which are sold the various articles connected with the idolatry of the place. They Blade no objection to selling me unconsecrated idols, aud whatever else I chose.
A singular aspect is given to the place, by scores if Hot hundreds of huge monkeys, which are seen at every glance. They are held sacred to Hunimaun, the divine ape, who conquered Ceylon for Rama. Of course they are not only unmolested, but well fed, and multiply Without restriction. They looked on us from every "Wall, and frolicked on the trees, the images, and carved sides of the towers, often coming within a yard of us without the semblance of fear. They are by no means Peculiar to this temple, but abound in most Hindu sacred places, and for the same reason.
Pilgrims from all parts of India resort to this place for absolution from their sins ; and as none come without an offering, the Brahmins live in voluptuous ease. The establishment receives also from the Company an
annual stipend, stated by Hamilton to be 15,600 pagodas (27,300 dollars). Still their rapacity is insatiate. A half dozen of them, pretending to act as guides, followed us every where, begging with insolent pertinacity. With idolators, as with Papists, clerical mendicity "is regarded as a virtue rather than a fault.
The number of slaves in the Carnatic, Mysore, and Malabar, is said to be greater than in most other parts of India, and embraces nearly the whole of the Punchum Bundam caste. The whole number in British India has never been ascertained, but is supposed, by the best informed persons I was able to consult, to be, on an average, at least one in eight, that is, about ten millions. Many consider them twice as numerous. The number is kept up not only by propagation, but the sale of children by their parents. Manumissions, however, are frequent among the opulent in the northern provinces. Forbes says,* " I believe most of the tribes of Poolealis and Pariars in Malabar are considered as slaves. The number of poor people who come down to Anjengo, and the other seaports, from the inland countries, during a famine, either to sell themselves or dispose of their children as slaves, is astonishing. During the rainy season, even when there is no uncommon scarcity, many are weekly brought down from the mountains to be sold on the coasts. They do not appear to think it so great a hardship as we imagine."
It is strange that the British public should be so slow to open their eyes to this great subject. For twenty years appeals and pamphlets have frequently appeared. In 1828, a volume of 1000 pages of parliamentary documents on East India slavery was printed ; and within four or five years some strenuous efforts have been made to call attention to this enormity ; but as yet, nothing has been done to purpose. Surely the zeal which has achieved the freedom of a few hundred thousand slaves in the West Indies will now be exerted in behalf of twenty-five times the number in the East.
The countenance and support given by government to the prevailing forms of religion is a weighty subject, and calls for the solemn consideration of British Christians. I cannot but sympathise deeply with the missionaries in the trials and obstructions they meet on this account. They have little doubt but that the pernicious influence of the Brahmins would wither, and their system lose its power, if government did not render its aid, both by open countenance and direct taxation.
An extreme fear of creating political disturbances, if efforts were made to convert the natives to Christianity, seems to have possessed the Company's government from the beginning. Hence the refusal at first to allow missionary effort. Hence Chamberlain, though in the service of her royal highness the Begaum, was deemed pestilent for preaching at a fair, and her majesty was reluctantly obliged to send him down to Calcutta. Happily, the little band that found a refuge under the Danish flag at Serampore, lived to prove, practically, that such fears are groundless.
But though the government now permits and protects missionary effort, it has not wholly lost its early fears ; and these, together with a desire to be strictly neutral, lead to measures directly favourable to idolatry. It levies and collects the revenues for supporting Brahmins and temples, as the former rulers did a thus virtually making idolatry and Mahometanism the' established religions of the country ! The annual allowance from the public treasury for the support of the temple Of Juggernaut, is 56,000 rupees (about 26,000 dollars), and many other temples have allowances equally liberal. C. Buller, in his letter to the Court of Directors on this subject, says, " Large pensions, in land and money, are allowed by our government, in all parts of the country, for keeping up the religious institutions both of Hindus and Mahometans." Lord William Bentinck, governor-general of India, under date of August 1835, speaking of the tax laid on pilgrims, which yields the Company
* Oriental Memoirs.* Oriental Memoirs.