Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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If the statue is made of some precious stone, it is
better than if it were made of wood, and wood is better
than clay. "The benefits of a statue of precious stone
will be common to all the men and women of the
empire. A golden statue will bring power to him who
erected it, a statue of silver will bring him renown, one
of bronze will bring him an increase of his rule, one of
stone the acquisition of landed property."

The Hindus honour their idols on account of those
who erected them, not on account of the material of
which they are made. We have already mentioned
that the idol of Multan was of wood. F.g. the linga
which Rama erected when he had finished the war with
the demons was of sand, which he had heaped up with
his own hand. But then it became petrified all at once,
since the astrologically correct moment for the erecting
of the monument fell before the moment when the
workmen had finished the cutting of the stone monu¬
ment which Rama originally had ordered. Regarding
the building of the temple and its peristyle, the cutting
of the trees of four different kinds, the astrological
determination of the favourable moment for the erec¬
tion, the celebration of the rites due on such an occa¬
sion, regarding all this R^ma gave very long and tedious
instructions. Further, he ordered that servants and
priests to minister to the idols should be nominated
from different classes of the people. " To the idol of
Vishnu are devoted the class called Bhagavata; to the
idol of the Sun, the Maga, i.e. the Magians; to the idol
of Mahadeva, a class of saints, anchorites with long
hair, who cover their skin with ashes, hang on their
persons the bones of dead people, and swim in the
pools. The Brahmana are devoted to the Eight
Mothers, the Shamanians to Buddha, to Arhant the
class called Nagna. On the whole, to each idol certain
people are devoted who constructed it, for those know
best how to serve it."
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