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question. I will not detain my readers with the answer which I gave to his queries. I was at that time, like himself, very young, and I can remember, that I did not satisfy him ; for I found it a topic very difficult to discuss with one who was ignorant of the Word of God and of the plan of salvation. Poor Nesserwanjee! he came to see me almost every evening to learn, as he said, all about the English and the customs of my native land; and to practise upon a pianoforte that belonged to a gentleman who lived in the house in which I resided, and who had, to gratify and encourage native talent, kindly taught him music. He had always a bunch of Mogree flowers for me in the top of his turban, for he knew they would please me.
I think I still see his fine handsome face full of smiles as he entered my room, curious to find out if I could spare time “to talk a little with him."—He was a dandy in his dress, for the cotton robe usually worn by the Parsees, he had substituted one made of exquisitely fine cashmere ; the ordinary white socks had been changed for open-worked silkstockings, and the pretty little turned--up slippers had been cast aside for heavy American shoes ; and all this was, as he said, in order to be “like the English."
The Hindoos say that the Parsees of India are outcasts of Persia, but this they indignantly deny, though it is supposed that many of them were driven out in the eighth century. The 29th of September they celebrate in Bombay, as the commencement of their new year, and the day also of their Prophet's
birth. They have a curious way of disposing of their dead. The body is carried out on an iron frame, if a poor person, to one of the public dockmehs, or temples of silence, the bearers of the corpse having their shoulders tied together by a sacred cord, to scare away the gins, or evil spirits, who delight, they say, to flit about the dead on their passage to the tomb. A dog performs the same duty when a Parsee is dying. He sits in the sick chamber, and thus, by his presence, scares away the wicked demons from the bed. The “ temples of silence” are large cylindrical buildings, twenty-six feet high, built of solid masonry, and open at the top. They are some miles from the Fort in Bombay, and many of the wealthy Ghebres have private temples of their own. Inclined planes slope down from the walls of the interior, on which are deposited the bodies, loosely wrapped in a linen garment; and as the bones accumulate, they are thrown into a well at the bottom, which has a communication by a subterranean passage, to enable a person to creep in and remove them, when the pit is too full. The bodies so exposed are soon torn to pieces by the fowls of the air, and it is in Persia considered a happy omen if the right eye is devoured first by the carrion vulture.
The Parsees believe that our earth, with its inhabitants, is under the control of the ruling spirits known as Oramanes and Arimanes. Oramanes, or Ormuzd, as he is sometimes called, is worshipped as the originator of all that is good and pure, in heaven
and earth ; while Arimanes, or Ahriman, is thought to be continually engaged in the dissemination of evil. In the Zendavista, which is one of their rituals of devotion, the resurrection is confidently spoken of: fifty years will be occupied in judgment of the human
Fire, earth, air, water, is to yield up each the portion they possess of the body of man, which they say, as soon as he dies, enters into these elements; the soul will be re-united to its earthly body, and the juice of the plant Hom, and the milk of a certain bull, will recall the wandering spirit to its home, and man will then live again, and throughout all eternity. Wicked men have, by their doctrine, to undergo a sort of purgatory-a horrible suffering for 3000 years—when Ormuzd will have mercy on them, and permit them to enter into heaven. Ahriman, with all his demons, will in the end be converted, and worship, as ministering angels, the Great Spirit. Strictly speaking, the Parsees have no temples for worshipping ín. Their temple is the world; and fire and light, air and water, have each a peculiar adoration paid to them. The atihsgah, or fire-temple, is only to protect the sacred flame from extinction or defilement. As fire is worshipped, they never make an improper use of it. For this reason, a fire once lighted in a house is never extinguished, though they will now, I believe, put out a house on fire. They will not use fire-arms; and I remember a Parsee, from whom I had purchased some cheroots, refusing to give me fire to light one of them. “My religion will not permit me," he
said. Many of the devout Parsees, though they have both money and inclination to travel by sea, and sit foreign countries, will not do so, fearing they should, in a long voyage, pollute the waters they hold so sacred. A holy water, called zor, is used by them in driving away bad spirits, and a drop of the venerated juice already spoken of as restoring life to man, is put into the mouth of the new-born babe, and of the dying man, to cleanse them from all impurities. The investiture of young people with the sacred cord and shirt, as a shield against Ahriman, is perhaps one of their most solemn and interesting ceremonies. Altogether, there is much superstition mixed up with their religion, though we find that chastity, honesty, truth, and charity, are required of them, and practised by them. Viewing the Fire-worshippers as a body, we cannot but look upon them as an intelligent, and even enlightened people, when compared with the Hindoos. It may be thought presumption in me, if not in any man, to venture to predict respecting any particular sect in India, that before many years have rolled by, it will be induced, through the preaching of the gospel, to embrace Christianity; yet, I cannot but think, from what I have seen of the Parsees, and of the great anxiety which they have shown to educate their sons, and to have them taught to read and write the English language, that the day is not far distant when their sacred fires will have died out; and when, instead of looking, as they now do, to the genii of the elements for protection, and to the sun as their
mediator, they will turn from the visible creature to the Creator, and will look up only to Jesus, the sole Mediator between God and man. A gentleman in Bombay, who had the instruction of several Parsee children, told me, that it was really astonishing how soon they were taught to read and write the English language ; and that he would sooner teach half a dozen of these boys, than one heavy European lad. During my residence on that island, there were two Parsee youths who had been induced to embrace Christianity, in Bombay, through the well-directed exertions of one of the Scotch missionaries; but so bitter were the Fire-worshippers against them, that their friends had driven them out, and had denied them the common necessaries of life. It was stated to me, that in consequence of this unexpected animosity, the East India Company had not only to protect, but to support them. They were two fine young men ; they regularly attended the Scotch Church, and were, to all, objects of great interest. Some of their enemies said, that they had only changed their religion to please those who had it in their power to procure them good situations, but I have every reason to suppose that such was not the case.
With respect to Zoroaster, the founder or promulgator of the Parsee religion, and the author of the Zendavista, but little is known. Some state, that he was a King of Bactria, and devoted his whole life to the study of magic and astronomy. Others, that he was simply the restorer and reformer of the ancient