Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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OF HINDOUSTAN                            303

hundred and fifty thousand persons, assembled from all
parts of the empire; its waters being considered on the
day of an eclipse more holy and meritorious than those of
any other.

The Great Mogol, though a Mahometan, permits these
ancient and superstitious practices; not wishing, or not
daring, to disturb the Gentiles in the free exercises of their
religion. But the ceremony I have described is not per¬
formed until a certain number of Brahmens, as deputies
from their fellows, have presented the King with a lecque
of roujnes, equal to about fifty thousand crowns ; in return
for which he begs their acceptance only of a few vests and
an old elephant.

I shall now mention the wise and convincing reasons
assigned for the festival of the eclipse, and for the rites
with which it is attended.

We have, say they, our four Beths;! that is, our four
books of law, sacred and divine writings given unto us by
God himself, through the medium of Brahma. These
books teach that a certain Deiila,^ an incarnate divinity,
extremely malignant and mischievous, very dark, very
black, very impure, and very filthy (these are all their own
expressions) takes possession of the Sun, which it blackens
to the colour of ink, infects and obscures ; that the Sun,
which is also a Dei'da, but of the most beneficent and
perfect kind, is thrown into a state of the greatest un¬
easiness, and suff'ers a most cruel agony while in the
power of and infected by this wicked and black being ; that
an endeavour to rescue the Sun from so miserable a con-

of Kurukshetra. During eclipses of the moon, the waters of all other
tanks are believed to visit this tank, so that he who bathes in the
assembled water obtains the concentrated merit of all possible ablu¬
tions. Thaneswar, which is now gradually falling into ruin, is one of
the oldest and most famous towns in India connected wdth the
legends of the Mdhdbhdi-ata and the exploits of the Pandavas.

^ Beids, a corruption of Vedas, Divine knowledge.

^ Deotah, a corruption of Devata, ' Celestials,' most frequently the
whole body of inferior gods.
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