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by climate and partly by the same circumstances that gave rise to Indian fetishism, we cannot help admiring that colony of thinkers which long resisted the progress of despotism, and whose destruction was the revenge of intolerance and tyranny.
41. Places for celebrating Mysteries.—The mysteries, as in other countries, were celebrated in subterranean caverns, here excavated in the solid rock, and surpassing in grandeur of conception and finish of execution anything to be seen elsewhere. The temples of Elephanta, Ellora, and Salsette, consisting of large halls and palaces, chapels, pagodas, cells for thousands of priests and pilgrims, adorned with pillars and columns, obelisks, bas-reliefs, gigantic statues of deities, elephants, and other sacred animals, all carved out of the living rock, are especially noteworthy. In the sacellum, only accessible to the initiated, the supreme Deity was represented by the lingam, which was used more or less by all ancient nations to represent His creative power, though in India it was also typified by the petal and calyx of the lotus.
42. Initiation. The periods of initiation were regulated by the increase and decrease of the moon, and the mysteries were divided into four degrees, and the candidate might be initiated into the first at the early age of eight years. He was then prepared by a Brahmin, who became his spiritual guide for the second degree, the probationary ceremonies of which consisted in incessant occupation in prayers, fastings, ablutions, and the study of astronomy. In the hot season he sat exposed to five fires, four blazing around him, with the sun above; in the rains he stood uncovered; in the cold season he wore wet clothing. To participate in the high privileges which the mysteries were believed to confer, he was sanctified by the sign of the cross, and subjected to the probation of the pastos, the tomb of the sun, the coffin of Hiram, darkness,-hell, all symbolical of the first three properties (11). His purification being completed, he was led at night to the cavern of initiation. This was brilliantly illuminated, and there sat the three chief hierophants, in the east, west, and south, representing the gods Brahma, who was painted red to represent substance, Vishnu, painted blue to symbolise space, Siva, painted white, in contrast to the black night of eternity, surrounded by attendant mystagogues, dressed in appropriate vestments. The initiation was begun by an apostrophe to the sun, addressed by the name of Pooroosh, here meaning the vital soul, or portion of the universal spirit of Brahm; and the candidate, after some
further preliminary ceremonies, was made to circumambulate the cavern three times, and afterwards conducted through seven dark caverns, during which period the wailings of Mahadeva for the loss of Siva were represented by dismal howlings. The usual paraphernalia of flashes of light, of dismal sounds and horrid phantoms, were produced to terrify and confuse the aspirant. Having arrived at the last cavern, the sacred conch was blown, the folding doors thrown open, and the candidate was admitted into an apartment filled with dazzling lights, ornamented with statues and emblematic figures richly decorated with gems, and scented with the most fragrant perfumes. This sacellum was intended to represent Paradise, and was actually so called in the temple of Ellora. With eyes riveted on the altar, the candidate was taught to expect the descent of the Deity in the bright pyramidal fire that blazed upon it; and in a moment of enthusiasm, thus artificially produced, the candidate might indeed persuade himself that he actually beheld Brahm seated on the lotus, with his four heads and arms, representing the four elements and the four quarters of the globe, and bearing in his hands the emblems of eternity and power, the circle and fire. The symbol of initiation was a cord of seven threads knotted thrice three. The reader will have noticed in one case I
Brahm and in the other Brahma; the latter is the body of the former, which is the Eternal Life. The terms correspond with those of Abyssal Deity and Virgin Sophia of Christian theosophy.
43. The ineffable name Aum.—The candidate was now supposed to be regenerated, and was invested with the white robe, tiara, and the sacred belt; a cross was marked on his forehead, and a tau (53) upon his breast; the salagram or marginal black stone (18), to insure to him the perfection of Vishnu, and the serpent stone, an antidote against the bite of serpents, were delivered to him; and lastly, he was entrusted with the sacred name, which signified the solar fire, and united in its comprehensive meaning the great Trimurti, or combined principle on which the existence of all things is founded. This word was OM, or in a triliteral form AUM, to represent the creative, preserving, and destroying power of the Deity, personified in Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, the symbol of which was an equilateral triangle. To this name, as the Royal Arch Masons to that of Jabulon, they attributed the most wonderful powers; and it could only be the subject of silent but pleasing contemplation, for its pronunciation was said to make earth and heaven tremble, and even the
angels of heaven to quake with fear. The emblems around and the aporreta of the mysteries were then explained, and the candidate instructed that by means of the knowledge of OM he was to become one with the Deity. With the Persians the syllable HOM meant the tree of life, a tree and a man at the same time, the dwelling-place of the soul of Zoroaster; and with them also, as with the Indians, it was forbidden on pain of death to reveal it. In this secret name, involving the rejection of polytheism, and comprising the knowledge of Nature, we have the golden thread that unites ancient and modern secret societies.
44. The Lingam.—One of the emblems found in the sacellum, and which in fact is found everywhere on the walls of Indian temples, was the lingam, which represented the male principle, and which passed from India to Egypt, Greece, and Scandinavia. The worship of this symbol could not but lead to great abuses, especially as regarded the gymnosophists.
45. The Lotus.—The lotus, the lily of the Nile, held sacred also in Egypt, was the great vegetable amulet of eastern nations. The Indian gods were always represented as seated on it. It was an emblem of the soul's freedom when liberated from its earthly tabernacle, the body; for it takes root in the mud deposited at the bottom of a river, vegetates from the germ to a perfect plant, and afterwards rising proudly above the waves, it floats in air, as if independent of any extraneous aid. It is placed on a golden table, as the symbol of Siva, on the top of Mount Meru, the holy mountain of India, the centre of the earth, worshipped by Hindoos, Tartars, Montchurians, and Mongols. It is supposed to be in Northern India, to have three peaks, composed of gold, silver, and iron, on which reposes the trine deity Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Geographically, this mountain is evidently the tableland of Tartary, whose southern boundary is formed by the Himalayas. This custom of accounting a three-peaked mountain holy was not confined to India alone, but prevailed also among the Jews. Thus Olivet, near Jerusalem, had three peaks, which were accounted the residence of the Deity-Chemosh, Milcom, Ashtoreth (2 Kings xxiii. 13). In Zechariah (xiv. 4) the feet of the Almighty are placed on the two outer peaks of this mountain during the threatened destruction of Jerusalem; while the mountain itself is made to split asunder at the centre peak from east to west, leaving a great valley between the divided parts.
46. The Jains. They form a Buddhistic sect, but differ
from the Buddhists by having retained the division of castes; they agree, however, with them in denying the divine authority of the Vedas. The Jains are divided into four castes, the first of which is that of the Brahmens, or priests, who pass through a ceremony of upanayana, or initiation, but of what it consists we have no reliable information. The term jain, or jina, means a conqueror, and is used by genuine Buddhists in that sense ; but with the latter man becomes a Jina through meditation, whilst with the Jains he becomes a “conqueror” through austerity. They have a magnificent temple, the most superb of all temples in India, on Mount Abu, in the territory of Serohee, in Rajpootana. It is built of marble, in the form of a cross, and is said to have been fourteen years building, and to have cost £18,000,000. It is a celebrated place of pilgrimage for the Jains, who also have a large rock-temple at Karlee, in the Presidency of Bombay.
47. Antiquity of Egyptian Civilisation.—All Egypt is an initiation. A long and narrow strip of land, watered by immense floods and surrounded by immense solitudes—such is Egypt.
Very high and steep rocks protected it from the incursions of the nomadic tribes, and thus a valley, a river, and a race sufficed to create, if not the most ancient, at least one of the most ancient and illustrious cultures, a world of marvels, at a time when Europeans went naked, and dyed their skins, as Cæsar found the ancient Britons, and when the Greeks, armed with bows and arrows, led a nomadic existence. The Egyptians, many thousand years before the Trojan war, had invented writing, as is proved, for instance, by the hieratic papyrus of the time of Rameses II., full of recipes and directions for the treatment of a great variety of diseases, and now in the Berlin Museum. They also knew many comforts of life, which our pride calls modern; and the Greek writers, whom the Egyptian priests called children, are full of recollections of that mysterious land, recording the father Nile, Thebes with its hundred gates, the Pyramids, Lake Meroe, the Labyrinth, the Sphinx, and the statue of Memnon saluting the rising sun.
48. Temples of Ancient Egypt.—Egyptian chronology, the reproof and paragon of all others, is graven on imperishable monuments. But those obelisks, sacred to the sun, by their conical form like that of the flame; those labyrinths; those human-headed birds, typifying the intelligent soul; those scarabei, signifying creative power; those sphinxes, representing force, the lion or sun, and man; those serpents, expressing life and eternity (70); those strange combinations of forms; those hieroglyphics—they long remained secrets for us, and perhaps always were a secret for the Egyptian people that in fear and silence erected the pyramids—all these symbols constituted the language of one of the vastest and most elaborate secret societies that ever existed. Pene