everything by means of ministerial gods and goddesses. Cham Pas loves what he has made, and from him all good issues. But, that men should not forget him, he allowed Shaitan to create evil beings, and placed them in morasses and deep waters. If a man does anything against Cham Pas he allows him to be tormented by an evil spirit ; but, if he repents and prays, the evil being is restrained and ordered to abide in the water. But private prayers are insufficient to propitiate the exasperated supreme God : both a general and a family worship of the ministerial deities is imperative, and still more so a good life.
The usual Moksha prayer to the supreme God is short : "Shkai! otsyu Shkai, verdu Shkai, vanimist" ("God, Lord God, the original God, have mercy upon us ").
The Ersa and Teryukhans say :
"Cham Pas, Vel Pas (God of the village community), have mercy upon us."
In prayer the supreme God is always invoked first, but no special festival is held in his honour. (See note § 3.) Apart from him the Mordvins believe also in good and evil beings made by him. According to their conception, there is a vast number of these beings or spirits, who, like mankind, increase by procreation. In every place there is some invisible divinity, who rules that portion of nature assigned to him. Though all sections of the Mordvins believe this, the notions of the Ersa and Moksha regarding the minor gods and their participation in the government of the world is dissimilar.
The Ersa and Teryukhans know that, when Cham Pas had resolved to create the world, he first created a spirit, almost like himself, to aid him in forming and ruling it. This was Shaitan.
Story of the Creation.
A priest named Fedor Shaverski, of the village of Vechkamova, in the Bugurustan district of the government of Samara, noted down in 1853 the following account of the Creation:
- See note §4.