Page images

wicks I saw, had been constantly preserved from time immemorial. But though this altar is in a situation pretty well defended from the external air, yet it is sufficiently exposed to it to incline me to suspect that no small share of the great reputation which the two superior lamps have acquired, ought, in fairness, to be assigned to the lesser.

lo a corner to the right of the everlasting lights, stood a cylindri. cal machine placed vertically on a stand ; round this machine was curiously wrapped either some leaves, or a complete copy, I could not ascertain which, of the Bhootia scriptures. The attending priest was obliged to tear off part of its covering to shew me this singularly disposed volume, the writing of which I could just distinguish to be in the Tibet character. Upon my signifying a desire to be informed of the title of the book, I repeatedly received for answer, Mani; but whether this is the proper name of its author, or no more than a general denomination by which they discriminate sacred from prophane writings, I am unable to determine. I observed that as often as those who entered the temple approached and touched the holy volume (which action was always accompanied by certain gestures denoting profound respect), either • the priest who attended, or the worshipper himself, put the machine in motion, every revolution of which occasioned a bell to strike, that was suspended over it. If it were not that this ringing, which, it must be confessed, was by no means of a musical kind, doubtlessly appeared to us in the valley to be much more unceasing than it really was, I should have been disposed to conclude the Bhootias and Bahaurâs to be the devontest people on earth ; but in whatever degree of reverence these nations hold Sumbhoo-nath, it is certain that the Hindoos of Nepaul hare no opinion of its sanctity, for upon my putting a question to a Rajenoot of some distinction, which implied that I entertained a contrary idea, he manifested no small solicitude to undeceive me, and a good deal of eagerness to convince me that those of his tribe never visited this temple.'- p. 153.

Connected in subject with the foregoing, is Colonel Kirkpatrick's catalogue of the Jatras, or religious festivals of Nepaul. The Jâtra of India is the Feria of the Romans, whence the English Fair:

'1. Chownsuthi-jâtra.--This is preparatory to the Pusputty-pooja, of worship of Pusputtynath : it is performed in the month of Aughun (osember. December), and consists in visiting all the shrines and temples situated on the borders of the valley, some of which are at the distance of two journies from Khâtmândû. They are sixty-four in number. whence ibis játra has obtained the name of Chowrsuthi.

ig. Koond-játra.--This occurs in Bysack (April, May), when such devout persons as purpose celebrating the festival of Goojesseri (the consort of Pusputtynath) are previously obliged to perform their ablutions at the eighty-four sacred reservoirs, situated in the environs of Pusputtynath.

13. Bhiomutty-jâtra.- This is a sort of religious progress, or procession, commencing at Chucker-teerut (which is a ghaut or ford of the Bhagmutty, about a musket-shot to the southirard of Pusput), and terCLX. CHRON, VOL. III. NO. XI.


minating at Bhâgdwâr, where the Bhagmutty, quitting mount Sheopoori, enters the valley of Nepaul. Bhâgdwâr is from nine to ten miles to the northward of Pusputtynath. This játra occurs in the month of Chyte (or March, April).

* 4. Bishnmutty-játra.-It is celebrated in Bysack, and consists in a progress similar to the former, commencing at Puchli Bhyroo (a temple consecrated to one of the votaries of Mahadeo, and situated about a mile to the southward of Khâtmândû,) and ending at Bishen-nath, near which (I believe) the Bishnmutty enters the valley.

*5. Munmutty-jâtra. This festival is also observed in Bysack. It consists in proceeding from Sunkhmool (which is a ford of the Bhâgmutty about a musket shot to the northward of Patn) to Buddurjoogni.

6. Roodermulty-jâtra.—This is another holy progress, beginning at Sheooka Bhal, or the Car of Sheoo, or Siva, whence the pilgrims, passing by Boora Neel-Khent (where they bathe), and Hunnamunt-teerut in Bhatgong, proceed to Mahadeo-pokhra, which is about six miles east of Bhatgong. This játra occurs in Jait (or May, June).

7. Gunnaish-jâtra.—This procession takes place in Kaurtic (October, November), beginning at Chowbhal, (a mile to the southward of te Patn) and ending at Soorej-bunâik, a temple dedicated to Gunnaish, 1 and standing a mile to the southward of Bhatgong.

" 8. Bhugowty-jâtra.--This is a similar ceremony, which occurs also in Kaurtic, commencing at Chowbhal, and continuing as far as Phal-! lanchoak, a place situated about a day's journey to the north-west of Bhatgong, and celebrated for its eighteen Daibies.

9. Pokhra-játra.—This festival is observed as well as the two last, in the month of Kaurtic, when the pilgrims proceed from Kherkotuck) to Munnichoor, a sacred mountain that defines the north-east extre- ? mity of the valley of Nepaul. This jâtra obtains its name from the numerous reservoirs at Munnichoor, which are said to be not less than three hundred. Here the pilgrims perform the prescribed ablutions, worshipping at the same time the Deotas, or deities of the environs.

10. Indra-játra, takes place in Srawren (July, August); it is a holy progress from Deb-choak (one of the mountains forming the western limits of the valley) to the temple consecrated to Bhowani by the name ot Balkoomâri, and situated in Tumi; in the course of the procession, the shrines of many Deotas occur, at some of which the pilgrims stop ti: worship. Tumi is a town of considerable note lying between Khatmanda and Bhatgong, and at present annexed to the fief of Behadur Shab.

11. Seesutty-játra.--This festival is observed in Bysack.-It consists pl. a progress from Munjessury (which lies about a bow-shot to the westward of Sumbhov-dath) to Buddur-joogni. Several Deotas are visiled in the way.

• 12. Matchender-jatra.– The origin of this festival has been meutioned above. It takes place in Bysack, when the idol is transported in an immense car, or moveable shrine, from Patn to the village of Bhâgmulty, where there is another temple consecrated to Bhoogadeo,

[ocr errors]

or Mutchendernath. This appears to be the ceremony alluded to by Père Guiseppe, under the name of Yatra.

13. Bhoagnath-játra.--This festival is observed in the month of Chyte, consisting in a procession from Jummal (a temple in the suburbs of Khatmanda) to Sugguntoal, within the city.

14. Bhyroo-jâtra; a procession, in the month of Chyte, from Sogal-dhoka in Bhatgong to Chopingal (about a bow-shot to the south of that city), where Bhyroo is more particularly worshipped.

*15. Pustair-mookh.-This játra occurs also in Chyte; it consists in a progress from Deopâtun to Toondikheel (by which name they call the plain immediately beyond the south-east extremity of Khatmanda), the pilgrims worship the Loomri Bhowani, surnamed Mehenkâl.

16. Besides the foregoing, and some others not particularized, there is a grand festival occasionally observed, which lasts four months, commencing in Bysack, and ending in Srawren. It consists in visiting the shrines of all the gods in Nepaul, which are said to be two thousand seven hundred and thirty-three.'--p. 196.

These collections on the subject of religion in Nepaul, (to which is to be added a list of the principal temples, pp. 188—192,) are the more entitled to attention, on account of the very interesting contents of the following paragraph. The prospect which Colonel Kirkpatrick holds out, of throwing light on the theology of the Buddhists, is exceedingly gratifying; and the highly probable suggestion, that in the valley of Nepaul the theology of the Brahmans is taught in a more simple form than in other parts of India, affords ground for a hope, that we may one day be enabled to commence our studies of the Hindoo theology with its radicals :

"As I am not without hopes of being able, at no very remote period, not only to explain at large the superstitious dogmas, rites, and ceremonies of the Newars, but also to be instrumental at least, in throwing some light on the Boudhite system of theology, at present so little understood, I shall not touch in this place on either of those subjects. With regard to the popular religion of Nepaul, in general, seeing that it differs nothing from the Hinduism established in Bengal and other parts of India, excepting so far as the secluded nature of the country may have conduced to preserve it in a state of superior orthodoxy and punty, it would be altogether superfluous to enter into any details concerning it; I shall therefore content myself with naming here the temples of most consideration in the valley of Nepaul, and with subjoining an account of the most remarkable festivals annually celebrated by its inhabitants.'-p. 188.

The following is Colonel Kirkpatrick's account of the population, manners, and customs of the inhabitants of Nepaul :

"Adverting to the very wild and rugged nature of the country, we shall see no great room for imagining its population to be considerable; the valleys only are of any account in estimating the numbers of the inhabitants, and they are, with the exception of Nepaul itself, and per



[ocr errors]

haps two or three others, little better than so many mountainous cavities. Even the Tyrrye, generally speaking, would seem to be but indifferently peopled, the villages throughout it being, as far as I can learn, very thinly scattered, and in most places of a mean rank in point of magnitude, as well as appearance. But whatever the fact in this respect may be, it is certain that we are altogether unfurnished with any documents that would warrant our hazarding, even a conjecture on the subject, the materials we possess for judging of the population of the valley of Nepaul itself being at the best extremely vague, and enabling us only to state it loosely at about half a million.

The inhabitants consist principally of the two superior classes of Hindoos (or Brahmins and Chetrees with their various subdivisions) of Newars, of Dhenwars, of Mhanjees, of Bhootias, and of Bhanrâs. The former of these, who compose the army of the state, and engross all situations of trust, whether civil or military, are found dispersed promiscuously throughout the country ; the Newars are confined almost to the valley of Nepaul, the Dhenvars and Mhanjees are the busbandmen and fishers of the western districts; and the Bhootias, though some families of them are planted in the lower lands, occupy, generally speaking, such parts of the Kuchâr as are included in the Nepaul territories. With respect to the Bhanrâs, they have already been mentioned, as being a sort of separatists from the Newars, they are supo posed to amount to about five thousand; they shave their heads like the Bhootias, observe many of the religious rites, as well as civil customs, of these idolaters, in a dialect of whose language they are also said to preserve their sacred writings. To the eastward again, some districts of the Nepaul dominions are inhabited by tribes, such as the Limbooas, Nuggerkootes, and others, of whom we know at this time little more than the names.

• The Newars are divided into several casts or orders, most of which derive their origin, like those among the more ancient Hindoos, from a primitive classification according to trades and occupations : I reserve an enumeration of these, as well as a full account of the history, religion, government, customs, and manners of the Newars, for a future period, when my information on these points shall be more complete and satisfactory than it is at present; in the mean time, although I have not thought it necessary to refrain altogether from noticing occasionally some particulars concerning this interesting people, yet these sketches are to be considered as a mere outline, arising incidentally, and, as it were, unavoidably, out of the nature of our immediate enquiry, and by no means as proceeding from a puerile desire of anticipating a subject, which I am of opinion is well entitled to a very full and deliberate discussion.

Nepaul, having been ruled for many centuries past by Rajepoot princes, and the various classes of Hindoos appearing, in all periods, to have composed a great proportion of its population, we are naturally prepared to find a general resemblance in manners and customs be. tween this part of its inhabitants, and the kindred sects established in the adjacent countries ; accordingly, the characteristics which separate them, whether in point of manners, usages, or dress, are so faint

as as to be scarcely discernable in a single instance, insomuch that I own the agreement greatly exceeded what I could have expected upon adverting to the peculiarity, in many respects, of the local circumstances in which the Hindoos of this valley are placed, to the little fraternity they have ever entertained with the neighbouring nations, to their political union or intermixture, during several centuries, with the Newars, and above all, to the very important consideration presented in the remarkable, and indeed (if I am not mistaken) solitary fact, of Nepaul being the only Hindoo country that has ever been disturbed, far less subdued, by a Mussulman power. In one essential particular nevertheless these mountaineers appear to me to be very prominently discrimi. nated, and that is by a simplicity of character universally observable amongst them. I am aware that this is a feature, which, with a few exceptions, more or less strikingly marks the Hindoo character throughout India; but whether it be owing to the secluded situation of Nepaul, or to some cause still more operative, the simplicity which distinguishes the inhabitants of this rugged region is manifested no less in the supenor than the lower ranks of people, appears in all their modes in life, whether public or domestic, little of ostentation or parade ever entering into either, and is very generally accompanied by an innocency and suarity of deportment, by an ease and frankness in conversation, and I am disposed to think too, by an integrity of conduct, not so commonly to be met with among their more polished or opulent brethren.

Between the Newars, however, and the Hindoo inhabitants of Nepaul, there subsists, as well in character, customs, manners, and features, as in religious rites and language, very essential differences, all of them abundantly proving that they are an insulated race of men, whose origin is not to be traced to any of the nations immediately surrounding them. They are a peaceable, industrious, and even ingenious people, very much attached to the superstition they profess, and tolerably reconciled to the chains imposed on them by their Goorkhali conquerors, although these have not hitherto condescended to concihate them by the means which their former sovereigns, who were Rajepoots of the Soorej-bunsi race, adopted, and who, among other compliances with the usages of the Newars, made no scruple, it seems, of feeding on the flesh of buffaloes.

I doubt whether this nation have been at any period of a warlike disposition; be this as it may, it is certain that their courage is at present spoken of very slightly by the Purbutties, or Hindoo mountaineers, and that the instances of their being employed in the armies of the state are exceeding rare. Their occupations are chiefly those of agriculture, besides which they almost exclusively execute all the arts and manufactures known in this country. Their modes of husbandry prove them to be capable of immense labour, no less than the burthens which they carry shew that they possess great corporeal strength, while many of their mechanical operations equally evince that they are tolerably well skilled in some of the most useful arts. They are in general of a middle size, with broad shoulders and chest, very stout limbs, found and rather flat faces, small eyes, low and somewhat spreading noses, and finally, open and cheerful countenances; yet I cannot agree

E 3


« PreviousContinue »