Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/111

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


THE RELIGIOUS BOND OF HINDUISM. 107 His daily ritual consists of eight services, in which Krishna's image, as a beautiful boy, is delicately bathed, anointed with essences, splendidly attired, and sumptuously fed. The fol- lowers of the first Vishnuite reformers dwelt together in secluded monasteries, and went about scantily cloihed, living upon alms. But the Vallabha-Sw&mf sect performs its de- votions arrayed in costly apparel, anointed with oil, and perfumed with camphor or sandal-wood. It seeks its converts not among weavers, or leather-dressers, or barbers, but among wealthy bankers and merchants, who look upon life as a thing to be enjoyed, and upon pilgrimage as a holiday excursion, or an opportunity for trade. The Religious Bond of Hinduism. — The worship of Siva and Vishnu acts as a religious bond among the Hindus, in the same way as caste supplies the basis of their social organiza- tion. Theoretically, the Hindu religion starts from the Veda, and acknowledges its divine authority. But, practically, we have seen that Hinduism takes its origin from many sources. Vishnu-worship and Sivaite rites represent the two most popular combinations of these various elements. The highly cultivated Brahman is a pure theist; the less cultivated worships the Divinity under some chosen form, his ishta-devata. The ordinary Brahman, especially in the south, takes as his 'chosen deity' Siva in his deep philosophical aspects as the fountain of being and of reproduction, the symbol of death deprived of its terrors and welcomed as the entrance into new forms of life. The phallic linga serves him as an emblem of the unseen God. The middle classes and the trading community adore some incarna- tion of Vishnu. The low-castes propitiate Siva the Destroyer, or one of his female manifestations, such as the dread Kdlf. But almost every Hindu of education feels that his outward object of homage is merely his ishta-devatd, or a ' chosen ' form under which to adore the supreme Deity, Param-eswara. Materials for Reference. Hinduism is the joint product of Brahmanism, Buddhism, and the non- Aryan worships, dealt with in Chapters III, IV, and V. But in addition to the works cited at the end of those chapters, the following maybe specially