« PreviousContinue »
abstain some from one kind of food and some from another.1 Among accounts of the two rival deities in West Africa, one describes the Guinea negroes as recognizing below the Supreme Deity two spirits (or classes of spirits), Ombwiri and Onyambe, the one kind and gentle, doing good to men and rescuing them from harm, the other hateful and wicked, whose seldom mentioned name is heard with uneasiness and displeasure. It would be scarcely profitable, in an inquiry where accurate knowledge of the doctrine of any insignificant tribe is more to the purpose than vague speculation on the theology of the mightiest nation, to dwell on the enigmatic traces of ancient Egyptian dualism. Suffice it to say that the two brother-deities Osiris and Seti, Osiris the beneficent solar divinity whose nature the blessed dead took on them, Seti perhaps a rival national god degraded to a Typhon, seem to have become the representative figures of a contrasted scheme of light and darkness, good and evil; the sculptured granite still commemorates the contests of their long-departed sects, where the hieroglyphic square-eared beast of Seti has been defaced to substitute for it the figure of Osiris.3
The conception of the light-god as the good deity in contrast to a rival god of evil, is one plainly suggested by nature, and naturally recurring in the religions of the world. The Khonds of Orissa may be counted its most perfect modern exponents in barbaric culture. To their supreme creative deity, Būra Pennu or Bella Pennu, Light-god or Sun-god, there stands opposed his evil consort Tari Pennu the Earth-goddess, and the history of good and evil in the world is the history of his work and her counterwork. He created a world paradisaic, happy, harmless; she rebelled against him, and to blast the lot of his new creature, man,
1 Proyart, ‘Loango,' in Pinkerton, vol. xvi. p. 504. Bastian, Mensch.' vol. ii. p. 109. See Kolbe, ‘Kaap de Goede Hoop,' part i. xxix. ; Waitz, vol. ii. p. 342 (Hottentots).
J. L. Wilson, ‘W. Afr.' pp. 217, 387. Waitz, vol. ii. p. 173. * Birch, in Bunsen, vol. v. p. 136. Wilkinson, 'Ancient Eg.' etc.
she brought in disease, and poison, and all disorder, “sowing the seeds of sin in mankind as in a ploughed field.” Death became the divine punishment of wickedness, the spontaneously fertile earth went to jungle and rock and mud, plants and animals grew poisonous and fierce, throughout nature good and evil were commingled, and still the fight goes on between the two great powers. So far all Khonds agree, and it is on the practical relation of good and evil that they split into their two hostile sects of Būra and Tari. Būra's sect hold that he triumphed over Tari, in sign of her discomfiture imposed the cares of childbirth on her sex, and makes her still his subject instrument wherewith to punish; Tari's sect hold that she still maintains the struggle, and even practically disposes of the happiness of man, doing evil or good on her own account, and allowing or not allowing the Creator's blessings to reach mankind.1
Now that the sacred books of the Zend-Avesta are open to us, it is possible to compare the doctrines of savage tribes with those of the great faith through which of all others Dualism seems to have impressed itself on the higher nations. The religion of Zarathustra was a schism from that ancient Aryan nature-worship which is represented in a pure and early form in the Veda, and in depravity and decay in modern Hinduism. The leading thought of the Zarathustrian faith was the contest of Good and Evil in the world, a contrast typified and involved in that of Day and Night, Light and Darkness, and brought to personal shape in the warfare òf Ahura Mazda and Anra-Mainyu, the Good and Evil Deity, Ormuzd and Ahriman. The prophet Zarathustra said: “In the beginning there was a pair of twins, two spirits, each of a peculiar activity. These are the good and the base in thought, word, and deed. Choose one of these two spirits. Be good, not base!” The sacred Vendidad begins with the record of the primæval contest of the two principles. Ahura-mazda created the best of regions
1 Macpherson, 'India,' p. 84.
and lands, the Aryan home, Sogdia, Bactria, and the rest; Anra-Mainyu against his work created snow and pestilence, buzzing insects and poisonous plants, poverty and sickness, sin and unbelief. The modern Parsi, in passages of his formularies of confession, still keeps alive the old antagonism. I repent, he says, of all kinds of sins which the evil Ahriman produced amongst the creatures of Ormazd in opposition. “ That which was the wish of Ormazd the Creator, and I ought to have thought and have not thought, what I ought to have spoken and have not spoken, what I ought to have done and have not done; of these sins repent I with thoughts, words, and works, corporeal as well as spiritual, earthly as well as heavenly, with the three words : Pardon, O Lord, I repent of sin. That which was the wish of Ahriman, and I ought not to have thought and yet have thought, what I ought not to have spoken and yet have spoken, what I ought not to have done and yet have done; of these sins repent I with thoughts, words, and works, corporeal as well as spiritual, earthly as well as heavenly, with the three words : Pardon, O Lord, I repent of sin.”
“May Ahriman be broken, may Ormazd increase.” 1 The Izedis or Yezidis, the so-called Devil-worshippers, still remain a numerous though oppressed people in Mesopotamia and adjacent countries. Their adoration of the sun and horror of defiling fire accord with the idea of a Persian origin of their religion (Persian ized = god), an origin underlying more superficial admixture of Christian and Moslem elements. This remarkable sect is distinguished by a special form of dualism. While recognizing the existence of a Supreme Being, their peculiar reverence is given to Satan, chief of the angelic host, who now has the means of doing evil to mankind, and in his restoration will have the power of rewarding them. “Will not Satan then reward the poor Izedis, who alone have never spoken ill of him, and have suffered so much for him ? ” Martyrdom for the rights
Avesta (Spiegel and Bleeck): Vendidad, i. ; ‘Khordah-A.' xlv. xlvi. Max Müller, 'Lectures,' 1st Ser. p. 208.
of Satan! exclaims the German traveller to whom an old white-bearded devil-worshipper thus set forth the hopes of his religion.
Direct worship of the Evil Principle, familiar as it is to low barbaric races, is scarcely to be found among people higher in civilization than these persecuted and stubborn sectaries of Western Asia. So far as such ideas extend in the development of religion, they seem fair evidence how far worship among low tribes turns rather on fear than love. That the adoration of a Good Deity should have more and more superseded the propitiation of an Evil Deity, is the sign of one of the great movements in the education of mankind, a result of happier experience of life, and of larger and more gladsome views of the system of the universe. It is not, however, through the inactive systems of modern Parsism and Izedism that the mighty Zoroastrian dualism has exerted its main influence on mankind. We must look back to long past ages for traces of its contact with Judaism and Christianity. It is often and reasonably thought that intercourse between Jews and ancient Persians was an effective agent in producing that theologic change which differences the later Jew of the Rabbinical books from the earlier Jew of the Pentateuch, a change in which one important part is the greater prominence of the dualistic scheme. So in later times (about the fourth century), the contact of Zoroastrism and Christianity appears to have been influential in producing Manichæism. We know Manichæism mostly on the testimony of its adversaries, but thus much seems clear, that it is based on the very doctrine of the two antagonistic principles of good and evil, of spirit and matter. It sets on the one hand God, original good and source of good alone, primal light and lord of the kingdom of light, and on the other hand the Prince of Darkness, with his kingdom of darkness, of matter, of confusion, and destruction. The theory of ceaseless conflict between these contending
Layard, 'Nineveh,' vol. i. p. 297; Ainsworth, ‘Izedis,' in 'Tr. Eth. Soc.' vol. i. p. 11.
powers becomes a key to the physical and moral nature and course of the universe. Among Christian or semi-Christian sects, the Manichæans stand as representatives of dualism pushed to its utmost development. It need scarcely be said, however, that Christian dualism is not bounded by the limits of this or that special sect. In so far as the Evil Being, with his subordinate powers of darkness, is held to exist and act in any degree in independence of the Supreme Deity and his ministering spirits of light, so far theological schools admit, though in widely different grades of importance, a philosophy of nature and of life which has its Basis rather in dualism than in monotheism.
We now turn to the last objects of our present survey, those theological beliefs of the lower tribes of mankind which point more or less distinctly toward a doctrine of Monotheism. Here it is by no means proposed to examine savage ideas from the point of view of doctrinal theology, an undertaking which would demand arguments quite beyond the present range. Their treatment is limited to classifying the actual beliefs of the lower races, with some ethnographic considerations as to their origin and their relation to higher religions. For this purpose it is desirable to distinguish the prevalent doctrines of the uncultured world from absolute monotheism. At the outset, care is needed to exclude an ambiguity of which the importance often goes unnoticed. How are the mighty but subordinate divinities, recognized in different religions, to be classed ? Beings who in Christian or Moslem theology would be called angels, saints, demons, would under the same definitions be called deities in polytheistic systems. This is obvious, but we may realize it more distinctly from its actually having happened. The Chuwashes, a race of Turkish affinity, are stated to reverence a god of Death, who takes to himself the souls of the departed, and whom they call Esrel; it is curious that Castrén, in mentioning
Beausobre, “Hist. de Manichée,' etc. Neander, 'Hist. of Christian Religion,' vol. ii. p. 157, etc.