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slaves, riches, and health, and that I may be brisk and swift!' the fetish-man will often in the morning take water in his mouth and say, 'Heaven! grant that I may have something to eat to-day;' and when giving medicine shown him by the fetish, he will hold it up to heaven first, and say, 'Ata Nyongmo! (Father Heaven!) bless this medicine that I now give.' The Yebu would say, 'God in heaven, protect me from sickness and death. God give me happiness and wisdom !' When the Manganja of Lake Nyassa
!1 were offering to the Supreme Deity a basketful of meal and a pot of native beer, that he might give them rain, the priestess dropped the meal handfựl by handful on the ground, each time calling, in a high-pitched voice, ‘Hear thou, O God, and send rain !' and the assembled people responded, clapping their hands softly and intoning (they always intone their prayers) Hear thou, O God !'2
Typical forms of prayer may be selected in Asia near the junction-line of savage and barbaric culture. Among the Karens of Burma, the Harvest-goddess has offerings made to her in a little house in the paddy-field, in which two strings are put for her to bind the spirits of any persons who may enter her field. Then they entreat her on this wise : 'Grandmother, thou guardest my field, thou watchest over my plantation, Look out for men entering; look sharp for people coming in. If they come, bind them with this string, tie them with this rope, do not let them go!' And at the threshing of the rice they say: 'Shake thyself, Grandmother, shake thyself! Let the paddy ascend till it equals a hill, equals a mountain. Shake thyself, Grandmother, shake thyself !'3 The following are extracts from the long-drawn prayers of the Khonds of Orissa: 'O Boora Pennu! and 0 Tari Pennu, and all other gods! (naming them). You, O Boora Pennu! created us, giving us the attribute of hunger; thence corn food was necessary to us,
1 Waitz, vol. ii. p. 169. Steinhauser, 1.c. p. 129.
and thence were necessary producing fields. You gave us every seed, and ordered us to use bullocks, and to make ploughs, and to plough. Had we not received this art, we might still indeed have existed upon the natural fruits of the jungle and the plain, but, in our destitution, we could not have performed your worship. Do you, remembering this—the connexion betwixt our wealth and
honourgrant the prayers which we now offer. In the morning, we rise before the light to our labour, carrying the seed. Save us from the tiger, and the snake, and from stumblingblocks. Let the seed appear earth to the eating birds, and stones to the eating animals of the earth. Let the grain spring up suddenly like a dry stream that is swelled in a night. Let the earth yield to our ploughshares as wax melts before hot iron. Let the baked clods melt like hailstones. Let our ploughs spring through the furrows with a force like the recoil of a bent tree. Let there be such a return from our seed, that so much shall fall and be neglected in the fields, and so much on the roads in carrying it home, that, when we shall go out next year to sow, the paths and the fields shall look like a young corn-field. From the first times we have lived by your favour. Let us continue to receive it. Remember that the increase of our produce is the increase of your worship, and that its diminution must be the diminution of your rites. The following is the conclusion of a prayer to the Earth-goddess : 'Let our herds be so numerous that they cannot be housed; let children so abound that the care of them shall overcome their parents—as shall be seen by their burned hands; let our heads ever strike against brass pots innumerable hanging from our roofs ; let the rats form their nests of shreds of scarlet cloth and silk; let all the kites in the country be seen in the trees of our village, from beasts being killed there every day. We are ignorant of what it is good to ask for. You know what is good for us. Give it to us!'1
1 Macpherson, 'India,' pp. 110, 128. See also Hunter, 'Rural Bengal,' p. 182 (Santals).
Such are types of prayer in the lower levels of culture, and in no small degree they remain characteristic of the higher nations. If, in long-past ages, the Chinese raised themselves from the condition of rude Siberian tribes to their peculiar culture, at any rate their conservative religion has scarce changed the matter-of-fact prayers for rain and good harvest, wealth and long life, addressed to manes and nature-spirits and merciful Heaven. In other great national religions of the world, not the whole of prayer, but a smaller or larger part of it, holds closely to the savage definition. This is a Vedic prayer: What, Indra, has not yet been given me by thee, Lightning-hurler, all good things bring us hither with both hands . . . with mighty riches fill me, with wealth of cattle, for thou art great!'? This is Moslem : 'O Allah! unloose the captivity of the captives, and annul the debts of the debtors : and make this town to be safe and secure, and blessed with wealth and plenty, and all the towns of the Moslems, O Lord of all creatures ! and decree safety and health to us and to all travellers, and pilgrims, and warriors, and wanderers, upon thy earth, and upon thy sea, such as are Moslems, O Lord of all creatures !'3 Thus also, throughout the rituals of Christendom, stand an endless array of supplications unaltered in principle from savage times—that the weather may be adjusted to our local needs, that we may have the victory over all our enemies, that life and health and wealth and happiness may be ours.
So far, then, is permanence in culture: but now let us glance at the not less marked lines of modification and new formation. The vast political effect of a common faith in developing the idea of exclusive nationality, a process scarcely expanding beyond the germ among savage tribes, but reaching its full growth in the barbaric world, is apt to have its outward manifestation in hostility to those of another
1 Plath, ‘Religion der Chinesen,' part ii. p. 2; Doolittle, vol. ii. p. 116. 2 'Sama-Veda,' i. 4, 2. Wuttke, 'Gesch. des Heidenthums,' part ii.
3 Lane, 'Modern Egyptians,' vol. i. p. 128.
creed, a sentiment which finds vent in characteristic prayers.
. Such are these from the Rig Veda : "Take away our calamities. By sacred verses may we overcome those who employ no holy hymns! Distinguish between the Aryas and those who are Dasyus : chastising those who observe no sacred rites, subject them to the sacrificer ... Indra subjects the impious to the pious, and destroys the irreligious by the religious.'1 The following is from the closing prayer which the boys in many schools in Cairo used to repeat some years ago, and very likely do still: 'I seek refuge with Allah from Satan the accursed. In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful ...0 Lord of
O all creatures ! O Allah ! destroy the infidels and polytheists, thine enemies, the enemies of the religion ! O Allah! make their children orphans, and defile their abodes, and cause their feet to slip, and give them and their families and their households and their women and their children and their relations by marriage and their brothers and their friends and their possessions and their race and their wealth and their lands as booty to the Moslems! O Lord of all creatures !?? Another powerful tendency of civilization,
'2 that of regulating human affairs by fixed ordinance, has since early ages been at work to arrange worship into mechanical routine. Here, so to speak, religion deposits
, itself in sharply defined shape from a supersaturated solution, and crystallizes into formalism. Thus prayers, from being at first utterances as free and flexible as requests to a living patriarch or chief, stiffened into traditional formulas, whose repetition required verbal accuracy, and whose nature practically assimilated more or less to that of charms. Liturgies, especially in those three quarters of the world where the ancient liturgical language has become at once unintelligible and sacred, are crowded with examples of this historical process.
Its extremest development in Europe is connected with the use of the rosary. This devotional
Rig Veda,' i. 51, 8, x, 105, 8. Muir, 'Sanskrit Texts,' part ii. ch. iii. 2 Lane, 'Modern Egyptians,' vol. ii. p. 383.
calculating-machine is of Asiatic invention; it had if not its origin at least its special development among the ancient Buddhists, and its 108 balls still slide through the modern Buddhist's hands as of old, measuring out the sacred formulas whose reiteration occupies so large a fraction of a pious life. It was not till toward the middle ages that the rosary passed into Mohammedan and Christian lands, and finding there conceptions of prayer which it was suited to accompany, has flourished ever since. How far the Buddhist devotional formulas themselves partake of the nature of prayer, is a question opening into instructive considerations, which need only be suggested here. By its derivation from Brahmanism and its fusion with the beliefs of rude spiritworshipping populations, Buddhism practically retains in no small measure a prayerful temper and even practice. Yet, according to strict and special Buddhist philosophy, where personal divinity has faded into metaphysical idea, even devotional utterances of desire are not prayers; as Köppen says, there is no ‘Thou !' in them. It must be only with reservation that we class the rosary in Buddhist hands as an instrument of actual prayer. The same is true of the still more extreme development of mechanical religion, the prayer-mill of the Tibetan Buddhists. This was perhaps originally a symbolic 'chakra'or wheel of the law, but has become a cylinder mounted on an axis, which by each rotation is considered to repeat the sentences written on the papers it is filled with, usually the 'Om mani padme hûm !' Prayer-mills vary in size, from the little wooden toys held in the hand, to the great drums turned by wind or waterpower, which repeat their sentences by the million. The Buddhist idea, that 'merit' is produced by the recitation of these sentences, may perhaps lead us to form an opinion of large application in the study of religion and superstition, namely, that the theory of prayers may explain the origin of charms. Charm-formulas are in very many cases actual
1 See Köppen, 'Religion des Buddha,' vol. i. pp. 345, 556 ; vol. ii. pp. 303, 319. Compare Fergusson, ‘Tree and Serpent Worship,' pl. xlii.