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deluge ; (circumstances recorded amidst the constellations of the Southern sphere;) that mythologic character, who is represented upon it as the sacrificer of the beast; that profound philosopher whose knowledge of the ante-diluvian astronomy enabled him to form that sphere, and who placed the ship, by Grecian mythologists usurped, and ridiculously called ARGO, there?
The Grecks, however, remarkably corroborating my hypothesis, denominated this asterism of the SACRIFICER, CHIRON, whom Pliny describes “ as the son of Saturn (Time) and Philira, the inventor of the BOTANICAL and MEDICAL art. * And justly may the SACRIFICER be denominated Chiron, that true Chiron of antiquity, though not of Grecian origin, nor the preceptor of Achilles; that great botanist, who first planted the vine and returned to the ground that infinite variety “ of medical herbs and innumerable seeds," which, in the antient Sanscreet historics, and particularly in Sir William Jones's translation of the BHAGAVAT, MENU is represented as taking into the ark for the express purpose of renovating decayed vegetation after the deluge; that nobler CENTAUR, who was indeed born of a cloud, in the same
Plinii Nat. Hist. lib. vii. cap. 56.
manner as the Chinese Fohi is represented in their histories to have had a rainbow for his progenitor; who, -as the name Centáur properly signifies, first tamed the fierce bull, and who, having taught mankind' the use of agriculture, was thence not only represented in all the Oriental mythologies by the apt symbol of the BULL, but, if M. Anquetil, in the Zend-Avesta, may be credited, in the antient Persian histories, was called l'homme-taureau.* Such is the true meaning of this Avatar; and such, in
my humble opinion, is the true Danwantaree of India, who sprang from the foam of the churned ocean, bearing the Amreeta, or vital ambrosia, to the renovated world. I would not be understood, however, to have asserted that Danwantaree and Noah are the same person, except in a mythological sense; for, Menu, or Satyaurata, who was the author of the famous Institutes, at first orally promulgated by that legislator, afterwards committed to writing, and called after him MENUMS RITI, is the undoubted and only genuine Noah of India'; but I mean, that, under the character of Danwantaree rising from the ocean, this venerable personage is intended and symbolised. According to M. Sonnerat,
* See M. Anquetil du Perron's Zend-Avesta, tom. iii. p. 363.
he is generally depicted in the pagodas, șacred to, Veeshnu, as a learned man, in profound meditation, with a book in his hand.
Sir William Jones, without favouring us with
any farther explanation of his meaning, confesses himself to be of opinion, that a considerable portion of this particular Avatar relates to astronomy. For my own part, I entertain little doubt but that the serpent Asookee, whose enormous body enfolded the globe, is no other than the celestial serpent, or dragon, whose baleful influence is represented in all Oriental systems of astrology to be só fatal to the revolving spheres, or else that whimsical representation of a still more visionary dragon, formed by the course of the moon near the ECLIPTIC, of whose BELLY, HEAD, and TAIL, is exhibited, in a preceding page, an astronomico-mythological engraving. By this alle gory do not the Brahmin astronomers mean to indicate that some dreadful position of the planetary orbs, which are often represented, in Sanscreet writings, as personified Dewtahs, occasioned the grand convulsion; or that some fatal ECLIPSE, which ever happens near that region of the heaven where their fancies have fixed their imaginary Dragon, portended and accompanied it? Surely the supposition of such an event, as a secondary cause, proves
neither bad theology nor despicable philosophy to exist in Hindostan; for, notwithstanding some difficulties in Whiston's system, that a comet passed at that remote æra near the orbit of the earth, and caused the inundation, that hypothesis is not destitute of able advocates. But we see that, by this relation, a devouring fire, as well as a tempestuous ocean, contributed to the general devastation! Is it not possible, that some of the more antient Sanscreet books may contain, traditionally handed down, a genuine and circumstantial relation of this awful event? But, if that should not be the case, is not this account entirely conformable to the ingenious conjectures of the great naturalist Mr Whitehurst, who is decidedly of opinion, that fire, burst, ing from the internal regions of the earth, greatly contributed to bring on the dreadful catastrophe in which nature agonized and a world was destroyed. Mr Whitehurst does not stand single in this opinion. His supposition is corroborated by one of the greatest chemists of the age, WATSON, a name on whtch tiles can confer no additional splendour. A more full investigation, however, of this point, and from others of equal novelty and importance to the theological and literary world, must be
reserved for that portion of this history which treats of the cosmogony of the Hindoos.
Since the Avatars themselves, that is, the descents of the deity in a human form, may be considered as connected with, is not as originally giving birth to, the doctrine of the Metempsychosis; for, with the Indians, that deity is considered only as the Animu Mundi, or Soul of the World, of whom the particular definition in the Bhagavat is, that “ HE IS EVERY WHERE ALWAYS ;' it will not be thought entirely digressive, if, while upon this subject; I pursue somewhat farther the reflections to which the Courma-Avatar has given birth. Truth, therefore, compels me to add, to what has been already observed, that the more minutely the three first Avatars are examined, the more directly will each of those Avatars be found to be illustrative of the great event above alluded to; while the united evidence, arising from them, reflects a light upon that event greater than has yet radiated upon it from any page of Gentile antiquity. “They all three,” says the president of the Asiatic Society, “apparently relate to some stupendous convulsion of our globe from the fountains of the deep.” * In direct proof of
† Asiatic Researches, vol. i. p. 235. hnen