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in the expedition of Xerxes into Greece, ar. riving at a place in the country of the Edonians, called the Nine Ways, the Magi took nine of the sons and daughters of the inhabitants, and buried them alive;* for, he adds, to these rites of inhumation the Persians are accustomed. , To corroborate the truth of a circumstance which he suspected might not be credited by his readers, he, in the very next sentence, acquaints us, he had heard, that, when Amestris, wife of Xerxes, had happily attained to mature age, with confirmed health, she ordered fourteen children, of the noblest families of Persia, to be buried alive, in grateful sacrifice to the subterraneous deity. This practice, however, was equally contrary to the precepts of Zoroaster as to the general tenor of the VEDAS. How shall we account for its introduction into those nations, or, indeed, of so hofrid a rite into any nation? For, in fact, all the most anţient nations of the earth practised it; the Phænicians, the Chaldæans, the Egyptians, and, it is too probable, the Jews them: selyes, who were forbidden, by the most dreadful penalties, to cause their sons and their
Ζώοντας κατωρυσσον. . : Plutarch confirms the same fact; but, instead of fourteen, says Amestris offered up the hallowed number of nine victims to Pluto.
daughters, like the Chaldæans, to pass through the fire to Moloch, the Phænician diety. The abomination descended from CAIN, the first murderer, to all his posterity; and we must consider the command of Jehovah to Abraham, first to sacrifice his only son, and then, by the voice of an angel from heaven, ordering him to forbear and to sacrifice a RAM in his place, as a strong decisive mark of his disapprobation, and as an express prohibition of the continuance among men of so nefarious and detestable a practice.
The AswAMEDHA JUG, or horse-sacrifice, the Indians, doubtless, derived from the Persians, among whom, according to the whole stream of classic antiquity, the horse was in a peculiar manner sacred to the sun,' In their pompous sacrifices to that deity, a radiant car, glittering with gold and diamonds, and drawn by white horses, in imitation of those ætherial coursers which they imagined rapidly conveyed the orb of day in its progress through the expanse of heaven, constantly formed a part of the procession. It was preceded by a train of led horses, sumptuously arrayed, and of uncommon beauty and magnitude, who were the destined victims of that splendid superstition. The Massagetæ, too, that warlike race, who,
according to Strabo,* opposed the arms of the great Cyrus, adored the SUN and sacrificed horses to that deity, Horses, however, were not only sacrificed to the sun in the antient æras of the Persian empire; for, the Persians (who, according to the more authentic representation of Dr Hyde, venerated all the elements of nature) paid likewise a religious homage to water : and Herodotus, in the page cited before, says, that, on the arrival of the army at the Strymon, the Magi sacrificed nine white horses to that river, into which they drew them, with a quantity of rich aromátics. I may in this place remark, that, as there seems to be the most solid ground for supposing that the Indians owe to their early connection with Persia their profound reverence for fire, so it is not improbable that their veneration for great rivers, as, for instance, the Ganges and the Kistnah, t whose streams they account sacred, niay
be derived from the same fruitful source. I was not able to oblige my readers with any
Strabo, lib. xi. p. 487, edit. Basil. The edition referred to throughout.
† I particularly mention these rivers, because two of the most considerable; but the Ayeen Akbery, vol. iii. p. 254, enumerates no less than twenty-eight rivers which are held sacred by the Hindoos.
very particular account of the Neramedlia, or human sacrifice, as antiently practised in India ; (though I shall hereafter give an instance of one from the HEETOPADES;) but, on that at present under consideration, some rays of light have been thrown in a translation by Mr Halhed from an old Persian author, who published in that language a Hindoo commentary upon
the Vedas, in which this rite, as a symbol, is explained. The whole account is wild and romantic in the extreme, and Mr Halhed does not absolutely vouch' for its authenticity; however, till more genuine sources of information are opened to us, we must make the most of those in our possession. The Aswamedha Jug, we are told in that book, does not merely consist in bringing a horse and sacrificing him, bu the rite is also to be taken in a mystic signification. “ The horse, so sacrificed, is in the place of the sacrificer, bears his sins with him into the wilderness into which he is turned adrift, (for, from this particular instance, it seems that the sacrificing-knife was not always employed,) and becomes the expiatory victim of those sins.” Mr Halhed observes,* that this ceremony reminds us of the scape-goat of
See the Preface to the Code of Gentoo Laws, p. 9.
the children of Israel, and, indeed, it is not the only one in which a particular co-incidence between the Hindoo and Mosaic systems of theology may be traced.
The Ayeen Akbery informs us, that the Ass wamedha Jug is performed only by great mo: narchs previous to their entering upon a war, that he then carries victory wherever he goes, and that whosoever has performed this ceremony a hundred times will become a monarch in the upper regions. Mr Wilkins, * commentating upon a passage, allusive to this sacrifice, in the HeeTOPADES, differs from Abul Fazil; for, he says, that the sacrifice of the horse was, in antient times, performed by a king at the con: clusion of a great war in which he had been victorious.
The GOMEDHA JUG, or sacrifice of the bull, they might probably derive from the same quarter; since we are told by Xenophon, that the bull in Persia was likewise sacred to the
This species of sacrifice, however, cannot be easily reconciled with their present enthusiastic and general attachment to that class of animals; so general and so enthusiastic, that, throughout India, to kill one of these sacred
* Advert to notes on the HŁETOPADES, P. 331.