BUDDHIST INFLUENCES ON HINDUISM. 99 mixture of precious metal and dross, to be worked up into the complex worship of the Hindu gods. Buddhist Influences. — Buddhism not only inspired Hindu- ism with its noble spirit of charity, but also bequeathed to it many of its institutions. The Hindu monasteries in Orissa in our own day recall the Buddhist convents of King Siladitya eleven hundred years ago. At the present time, the bankers' guild of Surat devotes a part of the fees which it levies on bills of exchange to maintain a hospital for sick animals — a true survival of the system of medical aid for man and beast which King Asoka founded in 244 b. c. The religious life of the Hindu Vishnuite sect is governed by the old rules laid down by Buddha himself. The great Bengal scholar, Rajendra Lala Mitra, himself a Vishnuite, believed that the car festival of Jagannath is a relic of a Buddhist procession. Non-Aryan Influences. — Hinduism also drew much of its strength, and many of its rites, from the non-Aryan peoples of India. To them is due the worship of stumps of wood, of rude stones, and of trees, which makes up the religion of the villagers of Bengal. Each hamlet has usually its local god, which it adores in the form either of an unhewn stone, or a stump, or a tree marked with red-lead. Sometimes a lump of clay placed under a tree does service for a deity. Serpent-worship, and the honour paid by certain sects of Hindus to the linga, or symbol of male creative energy, may probably be traced back to the Scythian tribes who came to India, in very early times, from Central Asia. The Hindu Book of Saints. — Hinduism boasts a line of religious founders stretching from about 700 a. d. to the present day. The lives of the mediaeval saints and their wondrous works are recorded in the Bhakta-Mala, or The Garland of the Faithful, compiled by Nabhajf about three centuries ago. It is the Book of Saints and Golden Legend of Hinduism. The same wonders are not recorded of each of its apostles, but miracles abound in the life of all. The greater ones rank as divine incarnations prophesied of old. According to the Hindu stories, some were born of virgins; others overcame lions; raised the dead; their hands and feet when cut off sprouted g 2
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/103
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