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278 DURGA.

alike represent slaughter by human violence. May it not be that Kali represents some period when the abhorrence of taking life among a vegetarian people—a people, too, believing in transmigration—might have become a public danger ? When Krishna appeared it was, according to the Bhāgavat Gita, as charioteer inciting Arjoon to war. There must have been various periods when a peaceful people must fall victims to more savage neighbours unless they could be stimulated to enter on the work of destruction with a light heart. There may have been periods when the human Kalis of India might stimulate their husbands and sons to war with such songs as the women of Dardistan sing at the Feast of Fire (p. 91). The amour of the Greek goddess of Beauty with the god of War, leaving her lawful spouse the Smith, is full of meaning. The Assyrian Venus, Istar, appeared in a vision, with wings and halo, bearing a bow and arrow for Assurbanipal. The Thug appears to have taken some such view of Kali, regarding her as patroness of their plan for reducing population. They are said to have claimed that Kali left them one of her teeth for a pickaxe, her rib for a knife, her garment's hem for a noose, and wholesale murder for a religion. The uplifted right hand of the demoness has been interpreted as intimating a divine purpose in the havoc around her, and it is possible that some such euphemism attached to the attitude before the Thug accepted it as his own benediction from this highly decorated personage of human cruelty. The ancient reverence for Kali has gradually passed to her mitigated form—Durgā. Around her too are visible the symbols of destruction; but she is supposed to be satisfied with pumpkin-animals, and the weapons in her ten hands are believed to be directed against the enemies of the gods, especially against the giant king Muheshu. She is mother of the beautiful boy Kartik, and of the

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WAR-GODS, 279

elephant-headed inspirer of knowledge Ganesa. She is reverenced now as female energy, the bestower of beauty and fruitfulness on women.

The identity of war-gods and death-demons, in the most frightful conceptions which have haunted the human imagination, is of profound significance. These forms do not represent peaceful and natural death, not death by old age,_of which, alas, those who cowered before them knew but little, but death amid cruelty and agony, and the cutting down of men in the vigour of life. That indeed was terrible, even more than these rude images could describe.

But there are other details in these hideous forms. The priest has added to the horse and sword of war the adored serpent, and hideous symbols of the “Land of the Dead.' For it is not by terror of death, but of what he can persuade men lies beyond, that the priest has reigned over mankind. When Isabel (in “Measure for Measure') is trying to persuade her brother that the sense of death lies most in apprehension, the sentenced youth still finds death “a fearful thing.’

Ay, but to die, and go we know not where ;
To lie in cold obstruction and to rot ;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice ;
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
And blown with violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of these, that lawless and incertain thoughts
Imagine howling !—'tis too horrible !
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
Can lay on nature, is a paradise
To what we fear of death.

In all these apprehensions of Claudio there is no thought 28o SATAW AS DEATH.

of annihilation. What if he had seen death as an eternal sleep? Let Hamlet answer:

To die, -to sleep;-
No more ;-and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.

The greater part of the human race still belong to religions which, in their origin, promised eternal repose as the supreme final bliss. Had death in itself possessed horrors for the human mind, the priest need not have conjured up beyond it those tortures that haunted Hamlet with the dreams of possible evils beyond which make even the wretched rather bear the ills they have than fly to others they know not of. It would have been sufficient sanction to promise immortality only to the pious. But as in Claudio's shuddering lines every hell is reflected—whether of ice, fire, or brutalisation—so are the same mixed with the very blood and brain of mankind, even where literally outgrown. Christianity superadded to the horrors by importing the idea that death came by human sin, and so by gradual development ascribing to Satan the power of death; thereby forming a new devil who bore in him the power to make death a punishment. How the matter stood in the mediaeval belief may be seen in figure 19, copied from a Russian Bible of the (early) seventeenth century. Lazarus smiles to see the nondescript soul of Dives torn from him by a devil with a hook, while another drowns the groans with a drum. Satan squirts an infernal baptism on the departing soul, and the earnest co-operation of the archangel justifies the satisfaction of Lazarus and Abraham. This degraded belief is still found in the almost gleeful pulpit-picturings of physical agonies as especially attending the death-beds of “infidels,'—as Voltaire and

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Paine,—and its fearful result is found in the degree to which priesthoods are still able to paralyse the common sense and heart of the masses by the barbaric ceremonials

Fig. 19.-Dives AND Lazarus (Russian, 17th cent.). with which they are permitted to surround death, and the arrogant line drawn between unorthodox goats and credulous sheep by ‘consecrated' ground.

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282 THAAWATO.S.

Mr. Keary, in his interesting volume on ‘The Dawn of History," says that it has been suggested that the youthful winged figure on the drum of a column from the temple of Diana at Ephesus to the British Museum, may be a representation of Thanatos, Death. It would be agreeable to believe that the only important representation of Death left by Greek art is that exquisite figure, whose high tribute is that it was at first thought to be Love | The figure is somewhat like the tender Eros of preraphaelite art, and with the same look of gentle melancholy. Such a sweet and simple form of Death would be worthy of the race which, amid all the fiery or cold rivers of the underworld which had gathered about their religion, still saw running there the soft-flowing stream of forgetfulness. Let one study this Ephesian Thanatos reverently—no engraving or photograph can do it even partial justice— and then in its light read those myths of Death which seem to bear us back beyond the savagery of war and the artifices of priests to the simpler conceptions of humanity. In its serene light we may especially read both Vedic and Iranian hymns and legends of Yama.

The first man to die became the powerful Yama of the Hindus, the monarch of the dead; and he became invested with metaphors of the sun that had set.” In a solemn and pathetic hymn of the Vedas he is said to have crossed the rapid waters, to have shown the way to many, to have first known the path on which our fathers crossed over.” But in the splendours of sunset human hope found its prophetic pictures of a heaven beyond. The Vedic Yama is ever the friend. It is one of the most picturesque facts of mythology that, after Yama had become in India another

* Published by Mozle, and Smith, 1878.

* Max Müller. ‘Lectures on Language," ii. p. 562, et ses.

* See the beautifully translated funereal hymn of the Veda in Professor Whitney's ‘Oriental and Linguistic Studies," p. 52, etc.

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