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is the acceptable worship of many a modern Brahman; who, remote from the cares and commerce of the world, offers up to heaven his devout orisons, and bloodless oblations on the flowery banks of the Kistna, and on the luxuriant borders of the Ganges.”
It must be allowed, that the people of India are from a very ancient origin, but we cannot admit any part of profane history as authority for determining who were the fathers of these very ancient nations. We are therefore necessarily driven to the bible, where we are enabled to ascertain with a degree of certainty, this important matter. I say important, because from the above remark of the ingenious and learned writer of the Indian Antiquities, many have been led to conclude, that their Yajur Veda, or holy book, was more ancient than the writings of Moses. In that work it is said to have been written 1580 years before Christ ; which was nine years . previous to the birth of Moses, and eighty nine before he departed from Egypt with the Israelites. This, with some, has tended to depreciate the authority of the sacred record: for such as object to the priority of the books of Moses, think they are supported in declaring, that the Hebrew lawgiver copied his books from the Yajur Veda of the Brahmans. But the learned writer of the Indian Antiquities, to whom the present and future generations · must be debtors, had no necessity to adduce proof in a more recent publication, that the date of the Yajur Veda was not more than 1200 years before the time of Christ. For, were we to admit that this book was more ancient than the books of Moses, which is not the case, it does not follow, because many things in that book agree with the Mosaic account, that Moses copied them from the Yajur Veda.
Moses must have had his information respecting the origin of the world and the fall of man, either from God, or from those who lived before him. It will not be contended, that the antiquity of the most ancient Indians can possibly reach beyond the time of Noah ; but if we allow that these people are descended from the first descendants of Noah, they must have been in possession of the particulars concerning the origin of the world, and the fall of man.
In like manner, as Moses descended from Arphaxad, the son of Shem, he and the patriarchs were well acquainted with these things, which were handed down to him in the regular line, as I have shown in the first and second order of the patriarchs. Therefore, there is no necessity for supposing, that the historical account of the most ancient times in the Yajur Veda was copied in the Mosaic account of the creation, were we even to give this book the greatest possible antiquity.
It appears from the 10th chapter of Genesis, that after the first descendants of Noah to Eber, the earth was divided in the time of Peleg his son ; that the other son of Eber was Joktan, of whose descendants it is said, " And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar, a mount of the east.” So that Mesha and Sephar, which were to the east, point out the situation of these descendants of Joktan, which was undeniably that part of the world we now call India. From all which it also appears, that the Persians, the descendants of Elam, were five generations before the descendants of Joktan, or the Indians. It also enables us to conclude, that as the descendants of Elam at this period considered Persia as their own land, which has remained in their possession to this day, so the descendants of Joktan, when they settled on the border of their Persian brethren, after the memorable epocha of the division of the earth, became the original possessors of India ; where they have formed a number of nations, aud scrupulously retain their peculiar cast to the present day.
The Brahmans took their name from Abraham, who by them was called Brahma, which is the same word and differs only as to the Indian pronunciation. For Abraham means the father of the land of Aram, and Brahma is a Hebrew word, which, with the prefix Beth, in, literally means, in Aram, to signify to posterity, that the great restorer of their ancient religion came from Aram, which accounts for the change of his name, the Chaldean Hebrew language being the universal language. That the ancient Brahmans were the descendants of the patriarch Abraham, and that they were sent by him to India, in order to promulgate the truths of the dispensation he had received from God, will appear evident. Vossius* informs us, that all places eastward of the Mediterranean sea were anciently called India ; (as above.) Abraham resided in the land of Canaan, which is to the east of that sea; and modern India is considerably to the eastward of the land of Canaan. And when he gave portions to his six sons by Keturah, he sent them with their sons and grandsons, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country, which was evidently that part of the world we now call India. Neither can it be doubted, that they were invited to this part of the world by the kings of India, to instruct them in the true principles of religion, and philosophy : for according to Josephus, Antiq. lib. i. c. 8. Justin, lib. xxxvi. c. 2. from Trogus Pompeius, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Eusebius, lib. xiii. c. 12. Abraham (who was the king of Damascus) was famed over all the east as a profound theologian, and philosopher.
* De Idolat. lib. 1. c. 26.
The author of the Antiquities of India, gives us great information concerning the origin of the Hindoos. In this valuable work, he gives us a summary of the worship of the Hindoos. He informs us that their legislator Brahma was the original writer of many passages which are copied in their holy book, the Veda, which contains the doctrines of their ancient religion.
There are, nevertheless, many superstitious practices
among some of them, altogether inconsistent with our view of things; and others are permitted, shocking to humanity. I shall, therefore, conclude the remarks I have made concerning the theology of the Indian nations, with some particulars I have had from gentlemen of great respectability, who themselves were eye-witnesses of these facts.
It is the custom in one part of India, at this day, for wives to be buried alive with their deceased husbands. A gentleman, who was an officer in the British army under General Lake, (from whom I received the information) was present with a part of the division of the army, at an assembly, where a woman was preparing for the horrid
ceremony. The English officers reasoned with her on the baseness of committing such an act of vialence, as she had liberty to dispense with it. She replied, it was the custom of all good women, and that she should be despised if she did not comply. As they could not divert her from her purpose, one of the officers intentionally touched her, which, according to their belief, rendered her unclean. And as they did not suffer any to touch her, when she was preparing for this ceremony, but their own people, all the time she had been training for this unnatural exit was lost, and they were under the necessity of making another journey to the Ganges, where she was to be washed from the impure touch, by those waters, which are held sacred by them.
So jealous are they of their religious privileges, that the imprudent attempt to put an end to this disgraceful custom, alarmed the people. The whole cast, or tribe, were in commotion, and would not be satisfied unless the aggressor was punished; which, had they had the power would have been by death: he was accordingly publicly reprimanded by his superior officer.
The immolation of women in India, is, even at this time, very frequent. In Dr. Buchanan's Christian Researches in India, we have an account of the number of women, who were burned alive on the funeral pile of their husbands, within thirty miles round Calcutta, from the beginning of April to the end of October 1804, which amounted to 115, in six months. This report was made by persons appointed by the professor of the Shanscrit and Bengal languages, in the college of Fort William. By an account taken in 1803, the number of women sacrificed, during that year, within thirty miles round Calcutta, was 275.
The same reverend author, Dr. Buchanan, informs us, that when the Marquis Wellesley was governor-general of India, having been informed that “ the Hindoos had a religious rite, consecrated by custom, of sacrificing children, in consequence of vows, by drowning them, or exposing them to sharks and crocodiles; and that twenty three perons had perished in the month of January, 1801, he immediately passed a law, declaring the practice to be murder, punishable by death. The law is entitled, A regulation for preventing the sacrifice of children, at Saugor, and other places, passed by the governor-general in council, on the 20th of August, 1802. The purpose