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

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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342                              THE GENTILES

he invited the six most learned Pendets in the town.
Finding myself in such excellent company, I determined
to ascertain their opinion of the adoration of idols. I told
them I was leaving the Indies scandalised at the
prevalence of a worship which outraged common sense,
and was totally unworthy such philosophers as I had then
the honour of addressing. ' We have indeed in our
temples,' said they, ' a great variety of images, such as
that of Brahma, of Mehadeu} of Genich}- and of Gavanif'
who are the principal and the most perfect of the Deiitas,
and we have many others esteemed less perfect. To all
these images we pay great honour ; prostrating our
bodies, and presenting to them, with much ceremony,
flowers, rice, scented oil, saffron and other similar articles.
Yet do we not believe that these statues are themselves
Brahma or Bechen ; * but merely their images and repre¬
sentations. We show them deference only for the sake
of the deity whom they represent, and when we pray
it is not to the statue, but to that deity. Images are ad¬
mitted in our temples, because we conceive that prayers
are offered up with more devotion where there is some¬
thing before the eyes that fixes the mind ; but in fact we
acknowledge that God alone is absolute, that He only
is the omnipotent Lord.'

I have neither added to nor taken from the answer
that the Pendets gave me ;  but I suspect it was so framed

college, which the Raja Jai Singh, the most powerful of the idol¬
atrous princes, who was then in the Empire of the Great Mogul,
has founded for the education of the youth of good families. I saw
the children of this Prince, who were being educated there, and had
as teachers several Brahmins, who taught them to read ar.d write in
a language which is reserved to the priests of the idols, and is very
different from that spoken by the people.'

^ Maha-Deva, the great god, one of the names of Siva.

^ Ganesh, the son of Siva and Parvati, the god of good luck.

^ Probably a misprint for Bavani, meaning Bhawani, one of the
names of the wife of Siva.

^ Vishnu, the preserver and restorer
  Page 342