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PYTHONIC AND DEMONIAC POSSESSIONS IN INDIA AND JUDEA.
In a former number* we laid before our readers, the theory of demoniac possession prevalent among the Hindoos, and pointed out the resemblance which its actual phenomena present to a class of symptoms, that, throughout Europe, in the present age, are regarded as manifestations of physical disease; as varieties of lunacy or mania; forms of epilepsy, hysteria, chorea; or anomalous consequences of nervous derangement, or functional irregularity. We next noticed the kindred, though in theory the antagonist, state of divine possession, known by the name of uvusuru, the season of divine visitation; or, still more popularly, by that of Waren, the living, moving, wind, pneuma, or afflatus of deity; and, finding in the practical exemplifica tions of the latter, that, though there exists some difference in the accompa nying circumstances, and in the supposed causes, immediate or remote, and a very great difference in the moral medium through which the possessed and the spectators behold the occurrence, and the consequent language which they hold regarding it, the radical phenomena in the person, and the consciousness of the individual supposed to be divinely possessed cases of clear imposture, or mere self-excitement, and self-delusion, excepted_present no essential difference, though often less intense in degree, and less painful in character, from those exhibited in demoniac possession; being still, apparently, identical or analogous with what we encounter in some of the varieties of phrenetic, convulsive, or nervous disease ; a few of the higher and more rare examples, affording a parallel to what has been observed in cases of theomania and mes meric exaltation, whatever the real nature of these conditions be ; finding, moreover, that the same possessions are viewed by different classes, and by
the same classes, at different stages, in opposite lights: the demoniac, frequently brightening into the divineand the divine, detected by some Ithuriel touch, or, by the test of time alone, casting off the counterfeit garment of light, in which they had exacted homage, and standing forth confessed, angels of darkness-demoniac tabernacles; finding this essential identity of phenomena amidst two opposite modes of moral judgment, and these two moral judgments themselves often melting into each other, we ventured to propose a theory, which would explain the difficulty, and account for the confusion ; and, ascending beyond the present dual form of possession to the unity of the original idea, suggested the mode in, and the causes from which, the first notion of possession by deity, at a time when all deity was synonymous with malignant, supernatural power, became, in man's onward progress, modified, and divided into the two opposing notions, of a posses. sion, evil and demoniac, and a possession, benignant and divine.
That theory, it must be remember. ed, is intended to account philosophi. cally for the existence, among pagan nations, of the notion of a dual pos. session, in connexion with certain physical and psychological phenomena; which duality in the notion, is obviously false: for all Christians, at least, will deny the possibility of the alleged possession of the Hindoos by Devee or Shivu being, in truth, a genuine divine possession; and will, therefore, agree with us, that both possessions are intrinsically of the same radical character, whatever that character may be: which duality, therefore, being false, not being dependent on, or proceeding from two really antagonist powers, and not being, on the other hand, attributable, at least in the antagonism of its character and
* Vide DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE for March—“Theory and Phenomena of Possession among the Hindoos."
operations, to a single demoniac inAuence, for this were to array Satan against Satan-must be sought for in purely natural and philosophical causes in the history of the human mind—in the appearance of certain natural phenomena—and in the impression which, at certain periods of man's advancement, these latter present to the former, as evidence or in. dicia of the spiritual world. So far only, to afford some solution for this mysterious duality of possession among pagan nations, this curious distinction between the demoniac and the divine, among those to whom the true divine was unknown, and all whose worshipped Numina, if they had any spiritual existence at all, we must regard as alike demoniac; philosophical reasoning is admissible, nay, is absolutely neces. sary: and so far it does not in any way trench on the religious question, i. e., on the real nature of these possessions, now stripped of their false duality, and reduced to one category. But the religious question is not far off; nay, it was this which originated, and lent its main interest to the whole inquiry, and it must, eventually, be encountered. For in truth, it is, in the first place, difficult to witness, or be cognisant of the facts which occur in the possessions of the Hindoos, without being convinced, that the cases belong precisely to the same class as those of the demoniacs of the Gospel - Hindoo associations merely superseding Jewish or Chaldean. Who, for example, hearing a man, subject to epileptic fits, declare that, as he was passing along an estuary, a jhupaté or devil-blast, entered him, and that this devil (who by the way, conformably to the theory of demons laid down in our former paper, was described as the spirit of a wicked Mussulman deceased) would often throw him into the fire, or drive him into the sea, to which "ipsissima verba” we can attest from our own knowledge - could fail to recall the demoniac mentioned in Matt. xvii. and Mark ix. : or, who could listen to one, subject to the supposed
divine possession-also, an epileptic asserting, that he was possessed by seven divine powers at once, and proceeding to enumerate them, as Girja Baee, &c., ; all varieties, be it obsery. ed, of the ever-recurring Hecate Devee—who could hear this, as we with our own ears have heard it, and not recall the demon whose name was “ Legion," or fail to remember that passage in Mark xvi. 9-" Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven · devils."
On the other hand, no person hav. ing any extended medical experience, or even a moderate acquaintance with medical works, can fail to recognise in the main features of these Hindoo possessions, as well as in those of the Gospels, the common symptoms of lunacy, epilepsy, and other forms of disease, above mentioned.
This resemblance, indeed, which is so strong as to have been recognised where the disease is witnessed, as in Europe, simply as disease, and without supernatural associations, or clothing of any sort, is doubly striking when beheld, as among the Hindoos, arrayed in a spiritual drapery, and language in many points so analogous to that which the Gospels shew us was prevalent among the Jews.*
The question will then arise, were the cases of demoniac possession recorded in the Gospel, simply cases of physical disease, such as now met with commonly among Christians-rightly, indeed, viewed as evidence of the power of Satan, not according to the Jewish popular notion ; but in that, profounder sense, in which he is pronounced a murderer from the be. ginning: the author of death, who hath the power of death-rightly, therefore, selected to afford by their cure, triumphant evidence of the power and mission of Him, who came to destroy the works of the devil; and who, in every exertion of His divine and beneficent power, whether it were the cure of the paralytic, or the cleansing of the lepers, or the raising
* An American missionary, who has laboured for many years in Western India, and enjoyed peculiar opportunities of seeing what passes among the common people, once remarked to us, speaking upon the scenes which take place at the exorcist shrine of Kanoba, “ Since I have lived and seen what passes daily among the Hindoos, I have begun to take quite a new view of the demoniacs mentioned in the Gospel."
of the dead, or the restoring of God's defaced image on the heart of the repentant sinner, who bathed His feet with her tears, “rebuked the devil," and drave him out of his usurped possession, no less than in the restoration of the demoniacs ?
Such is, indeed, the view which several commentators have taken ; Dr. Clarke, Newcome, and Hammond, among the rest. Dr. Clarke, for example, noticing the man with the unclean spirit, whose name was Legion, thus speaks :
« In the account of the cure per. formed by our Saviour on a maniac, in the country of the Gadarenes, these tombs are particularly alluded to."
Newcome, in allusion to the deaf and dumb spirit mentioned in Mark ix. says, “ He was an epileptic at the lunar period;" and Hammond observes, “ The young man's disease was the falling sickness ;" and that “ we have here a clear description of epilepsy."
But further, if this be so, was the language which our Lord made use of on some of these occasions, merely a merciful condescension to the weakness of His hearers, both patients and spectators -- were such phrases as" Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him" (Mark ix. 25); or, again, the query to the demoniac, in the county of the Gadarenes, “ What is thy name?” (Mark v. 9); and our Lord's granting of the request to en. ter into the swine, in the word “Go" (Matt. viii. 32) -- was this language, this apparent sanctioning of the ideas of possession, entertained by the demoniacs themselves, and by their friends, only such a wise and merciful indulgence towards, and falling in with the predominant ideas of the maniac, as was, if not from the very nature of the disease, necessary, at least the * most direct and efficacious method, to obtain, without violence or pain to the sufferer, the command over his spirit, and to effect his cure; analogous to that humouring of the prevalent illusion, which the ablest and most humane managers of lunatics invariably employ at the present day?
And again, was that remarkable passage of our Lord's, which occurs in Matt. xii. 43:4" When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh
through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return unto my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with him, self seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there : and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation,”—was this passage, which can. not be accounted for on the foregoing principle, as it was addressed, not to a demoniac, but to our Lord's auditors, and which, at the first reading at least, seems so difficult to understand on any other hypothesis than that of the reality of demoniac possession in the popular sense, was this only an inculcation of a profound and universal moral truth in the manner most ready of apprehension to his hearers-through the medium of ideas which were current among them, and which he made sub. servient to this purpose: these ideas themselves being, perhaps, the mythic or personalized form of a deep and mournful verity—the causality and influence of the fallen angel in all the sufferings of man? We find, indeed, that this passage has been viewed by Gilpin and Newcome, as referring, in the language current among the Jews, to the observations made upon relapsed maniacs, and drawing a parallel between their case and the condition of those who, morally healed and enlightened for a time, relapsed again into guilt and unbelief. Gilpin writes thus upon it:-" The Jews, too, as Grotius says, were of opinion, that dæmons delighted in desert and solitary places. This might be grounded on observation. Madmen were driven from society, and are spoken of in the New Testament as 'living among the tombs' -and they who laboured under the power of melancholy would naturally resort to unfrequented parts of the country. The best interpretation, I think, of this passage is, that the Jews, who were once the people of God, and had had the evil spirits, as it were, driven out of them by the law of Moses, had now become more impenitent and more hardened than the Gentiles themselves.” Newcome, on the same passage, says :-“ Our Lord may be supposed to say, in verses 43, 44, 45, in terms adapted to the popular superstitions, that, as the disease of maniacs
often increased in violence after a tem- and of both to the mesmeric seances of porary recovery, so the Jews would go modern Europe, we shall hereafter on to higher degress of wickedness." have occasion to point out. The ex.
With regard to the difficulty in the istence of such exorcisers in Judea, language used by the possessed them- under the name of Perierchomenoi, or selves, such as the giving to themselves circumambulators, including in their of specific names_ the prayer for per- number sons of the chief-priest Sceva, mission, if cast out, to go into the is proved from the passage in the Acts, swine-the prayer not to be torment. xix. 13, 14, to which we referred in ed_our readers will be surprised to our former paper : and it is probable learn that every one of these peculiari. that the exorcists mentioned in Mark, ties is to be found in the Hindoo de. ix. 38, and Luke, ix. 49, were of the moniac possessions, excepting, it must same class, though they now began to be admitted, the phrase " before the make use of the name of Jesus, deem. time,” which has no parallel in Hindoo ing it more efficacious than those of traditions or belief. The petitions not Abraham, Isaac, Solomon, &c., which to be tormented, and to be allowed to they had before employed. It is clear, go elsewhere if cast out, are commonly too, from the question put by our addressed by the possessed to the Lord, “By whom do your children Bhuktus, or Hindoo exorcists, who, cast them out ?” that these Jewish exby virtue of a divine possession in orcists, who had no connexion with themselves, expelthe devils from others. him, were, at least sometimes, successThe petition not to torment them, re- ful in their attempts; and we know fers, in their case, to the threats made from Josephus (vide Antiqu. viii. 2, 5). by the exorcist, who, in commanding that such a system of exorcism pra the devil to go out, threatens, if he re- vailed among the Jews, even from the fuse, to torment him, to twist him, to time of Solomon, to whom it is said burn him, &c., by his thaumatur to have been communicated by God gic power ; and sometimes, in fulfil for the general benefit of mankind. ment of this threat, he throws a little They employed, we are told, for this powder or ashes upon him, with a stern purpose, certain forms of incantation and commanding air, and the possessed and exorcism, assisted and recomshrieks out, as if actually burnt and mended by previous ceremonies. Jotortured. Now this forcible expulsion sephus adds, that this method of exfrom the body of the possessed—this pulsion, handed down from Solomon, command exercised over the system was frequently practised with success against the will_this, perhaps for the in his own time, and relates a particumoment agonizing crisis, which may lar instance of such expulsion, exhibit. be necessary to restore him to his sane ed in the presence of the Emperor and healthy state-is what the Hindoo Vespasian. "Now, from the prelimidemoniac dreads. Is there not some- nary questions and forms which our thing of the same seen in the Gada. Lord employed, in his healing of the rene demoniac, who, as described in demoniacs, it seems very probable that Mark, v. 7, 8, cried with a loud voice, in this, as in the case of using clay and and said to our Lord_“I adjure thee, spittle to the blind and the deaf, he by God, that thou torment me not. was pleased to employ some of the For, he said unto him, Come out of formula of these very schools-not inthe man, thou unclean spirit.” This, deed as efficient means of operationthen, this forcible, and perhaps pain. except in so far as these might happen ful, expulsion, was apparently the tor to be really efficacious (however myment which he deprecated. Indeed, thically disguised) for the managewe are thoroughly convinced that there ment or cure of madness or diseaseexisted among the Jews, schools of ex- but from that benevolent condescenorcism, exactly corresponding with sion to the weakness of his brethren, some of those now in India, exactly cor which characterized the whole of his responding with those once existing in divine mission. Egypt as temples of Kanobos, accord. With regard, in particular, to our ing to the hints which we find in Van Lord's asking the possessed his name, Dale and Jablonski; the close resem- and receiving for answer “My name is blance of which temples of the Egyp legion,” we must observe, that such tian Kanobos to the Mhuts or shrines question and reply form a part, and of the Hindoo exorcist-power Kanoba, generally the commencement of the process of exorcism, at almost every the herd of swine"-it is not until exorcist shrine in India. And it is a then that our Lord, humouring, must curious fact, that, if the possessed be a we not say it, the idea which possessed Mahomedan, he generally gives a Ma the maniac, uses the plural number, homedan demoniac name in reply ; if and says-_“Go (ye) utaziti."-Matt. a Hindoo, a Hindoo mythological name; viii. 32. As to any proof of a real and, as with us, black is the diabolical plurality in the daimons, from the precolour, and Moors and negroes are as- cipitate flight of the swine down the sociated in our minds with magicians, steep, we know that a single man, and evil spirits ; and magic is black; rushing on a sudden, and with violent and the devil himself is supposed to action, towards a flock of sheep, will dwell familiarly with his servants, insend them all running in terror in one the shape of a black dog—so in the direction ; and this is the explanation lower and more popular demonology of which has, in fact, been adopted by the Hindoos—a lesser mythology in more than one commentator, regarding itself-we encounter one devil classed the destruction of the swine. as the spirit of a deceased Moosoolman; The conclusion which we would another as the spirit of a deceased draw from the foregoing observations “Firingee,” or Portuguese Christian is, that the name given by any of these the latter distinguished, when visible, parties is of no weight whatever as an by wearing a hat. The trials for witch argument, either pro or con, as regards craft throughout Europe exhibit a the true character of these anomalous somewhat similar peculiarity--the pos- seizures and conditions; since we see, sessed give replies, harmonizing, in in different systems, the parties always general, with Christian ideas on pos- follow the old and habitual associa. session and demonology, but singularly tions of the respective countries, creeds, varied by notions and traditions purely and popular beliefs, in which they were local. This fact, that each demoniac brought up. The Jewish demoniacuses names to which he is accustomed the Hindoo in Waren--the Christian from previous associations, leads us to witch-the modern mesmeric patientsuppose it probable that “ LEGION" all speak in their second personality, was a name well known to the popular according to what they have heard or Syrian demonology, applied, perhaps, read before. The names or accounts, to those who seemed, from the violence therefore, which they give, cannot be of their actions, possessed by many de- held to be the true names or accounts vils. The demoniac himself says, in of their several states. This position, Mark, v. 9, aeriavy dvoud poi, "Legion is however, though it will prevent us name to me," not to us. And, v.7 from receiving any demoniac utterance “I adjure thee by God that thou tor as decisive evidence of the reality of ment mE not”-uh us luonnons—and so, possession, leaves us in the same state also, we read in Luke, viii. 28. In of doubt as before, and will not warMatt. viii. 29, indeed, it is “to tor rant our drawing the conclusion that ment us,” but here there are two de there are not such possessions; for the moniacs speaking, as stated in the possession may be real, though the verse immediately preceding. What name and the account given of it be is still more remarkable, our Lord him. false. It is certainly, on the one hand, self, in v. 8, addresses the spirit in the a strong presumption against any of singular number—“Come out of the these utterances proceeding from real man (thou) unclean spirit” [Egsals to devils, that they should all speak so saysuce to årålagrov sX TOU &végátov]; and differently in different times and places, it is not until after the demoniac had and so exactly reflect back the associa. said (Mark, v. 9 “My name is Le- tions of the party; but, on the other, gion (or Legion is name to me) for we if Satan have power to send his angels are many," and after “he [the man] into men, and if he act upon a consis. besought him much that he would not tent principle, it would consort with send them (the devils] away out of the this principle to assume, chameleon. country" (v. 10)-or, as it is expressed like, the particular shade of falsehood in v. 12_"all the devils besought him, which may happen to prevail in each saying, send us into the swine; or, as time and place, and give it strength; Matthew relates it, viii. 31-"So the so that the spirit which would speak in devils besought him, saying, If thou the Greek Pythoness as Apollo, in the cast us out, suffer us to go away into Mahomedan as Sultan Mahomed, in