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AHRIMAN, or the inferior and malignant being MITHRA seems to have been the middle and mediatorial character, the tensible agent of the eternal beneficence, and, in the ORACLES OF ZOROASTER, is called the sECOND MIND. Oromasdes is represented as reigning from all eternity; Mi. thra is described as a being formed of a nature and with powers, only not INFINITE ; Ahriman existed' by sufferance only from the SUPREME, during that period, and for those purposes which his mind had resolved on. While the good spirits, appointed by Oromasdes, under the direction of MITHRA, to superintend the affairs of the universe, were employed in acts of perpetual kindness and guardian love to mankind, the agents of Ahriman endeavoured, by every possible means, to thwart their benign intentions, and plotted the most baneful schemes for their molestation and ruin. Correspondent to the vast powers which they possessed were the tremendous conflicts in which they engaged. All nature was convulsed by the violence and continuance of those conflicts, and the terrified human race resigned themselves to the impulses of that superstitious dread and horror with which they were overwhelmed.
If the Persian and the Hindoo legislator were not in reality the same person, which I strongly suspect they were, under two distinct appellations, it must be owned that the principles of their theology are wonderfully similar. BRAHME, THE GREAT ONE, is the supreme cternal uncreated God of the Hindoos, BRAHMA, the first created being, by whom he made and governs the world, is the prince of the beneficent spirits. He is assisted by VeeshNU, the great prESERVER of men, who has nine several times appeared upon carth, and under a human form, for the most amiable and beneficent porposes. Veeshnu is often called CREESHNA, the Indian Apollo, and in character greatly resem, bles the MITHRA of Persia ; the prince of the benevolent Dewtah has a second coadjutor in MAHADEO, or the desROYING POWER OF GOD; and these three celestial beinga, or, to speak more correctly, this threefold divinity, armed with the terrors of Almighty power, pursue, throughout the extent of creation, the rebellious Dewtalis, headed by MAHASOOR,* the GREAT MALIGNANT
* Mír Holwell, whom I, in part, follow here, writes this word Moisasor; but I have taken the liberty to alter it, according to
SPIRIT who seduced them, and dart upon their flying bands the AGNYASTRA,* or fiery shafts, of divine
vengeance. The policy of legislators and the des. potism of princes have never obtained a surer hold of the mind of man, or secured his obedience more firmly, than when they have employed for that purpose the fetters of superstition. To minds. so deeply impressed with an idea of the agency of invisible beings as were those of the Persians and the Indians, few legal terrors were wanted to enforce the most abject submission to the mandates of their
governors. Hence the rigid adherence of the PERSEES, that exiled and persecuted sect, to their antient rites, and hence that inviolable fidelity to their tenets which distinguishes the undeviating INDIANS. On this account it was, that Darius Hystaspes so ardently espoused the cause and principles, of Zoroaster, that at his death he ordered himself to be enrolled the
be enrolled the Archimagus, or chief of the magi; and from this cause, probably, it has arisen that the rajahs of India
Mr Wilkins's orthography in the Geeta, to MAHASOOR, that is, the great Asoor, or evil spirit.
* Asiatic Researches, vol. i. p. 264.
have ever submitted, without a murmur, .to the assumed consequence and arrogated superiority of the priests of BRAHMA.
The more timid Indian multiplied, without number, the gods of his disturbed imagination, The lightening that blasted the grove or shivered the cavern in which he performed his devotion, the furious tempest that battered to picces his cany habitation, and, at the period of the MONSOONS, ravaged the shores of the Peninsula, appeared to him as if directed by the invisible hand of some enraged dæmon. If the fields, scorched by the beam of a direct sun, and sterile from a defect in the annual inundations, denied their accustomed produce of rice, his innocent and only food; if the TANK, that abundant source of health and felicity, which rolled through his garden a thousand fertilising streams, and which was
so necessary to himself in the performance of a thousand pious ablutions, denied the necessary tribute of its water : FAMINE was, by his fears, magnified into a dæmon of haggard look and gigantic form, and the affrighted bigot resorted to what he supposed to be the surest means of propitiation. On these emergencies, whether of national distress or of domestic calamity, he hastened,
like the Persian, to that sACRED FIRE, which he, with equal zeal, preserved from extinction; he performed, with trembling, the various prescribed ceremonies of the Pooja ;* and, while his heart glowed with gratitude for favours received from the protecing Dewtah, he neglected not to deprecate the vengeance of the malignant dæmon by oblations suited to the ferocity of his character. Agonizing under the torments of superstitious terror, his blood stagnant with holy horror at the recollection of the past or the dread of the future, he thought no offering too costly, no victim too precious. As the stern injunction of the deity was explained by the barbarous priest, the child of his affection or the wife of his bosom alternately expired on altars reeking with human sacrifice. Hence, in the SACONTALA,t the epithet of blood-thirsty is frequently applied to the evil dæmon. If the offender happened to be of elevated rank or of distinguished fortune, the penalty of life was sometimes remitted, and the Brahmin pronounced that the divinity might be
* Pooja signifies worship : see the various kinds of Pooja described in the Ayeen Akbery, vol. iii. p. 226.
† Sacontala, pages $2 and 83.