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DECLINE OF DEMONS.
The Holy Tree of Travancore—The growth of Demons in India and
their decline—The Nepaul Iconoclast-Moral Man and unmoral Nature-Man's physical and mental migrations-Heine's ‘Gods in Exile'-The Goban Saor—Master Smith-A Greek caricature of the Gods—The Carpenter v. Deity and Devil—Extermination of the Werewolf-Refuges of Demons—The Giants reduced to Little People-Deities and Demons returning to nature.
HAVING indicated, necessarily in mere outline and by selected examples, the chief obstacles encountered by primitive man, and his apprehensions, which he personified as demons, it becomes my next task to show how and why many of these demons declined from their terrible proportions and made way for more general forms, expressing comparatively abstract conceptions of physical evil. This will involve some review of the processes through which man's necessary adaptation to his earthly environment brought him to the era of Combat with multiform obstruction.
There was, until within a few recent years, in a mountain of Travancore, India, an ancient, gigantic Tree, regarded by
THE HOLY TREE OF TRAVANCORE.
the natives as the residence of a powerful and dangerous deity who reigned over the mountains and the wild beasts. Sacrifices were offered to this tree, sermons preached before it, and it seems to have been the ancient cathedral of the district. Its trunk was so large that four men with outstretched arms could not compass
it. This tree in its early growth may symbolise the upspringing of natural religion. Its first green leaves may be regarded as corresponding to the first crude imaginations of man as written, for instance, on leaves of the Vedas. Perceiving in nature, as we have seen, a power of contrivance like his own, a might far superior to his own, man naturally considered that all things had been created and were controlled by invisible giants; and bowing helplessly beneath them sang thus his hymns and supplications.
*This earth belongs to Varuna, the king, and the wide sky, with its ends far apart : the two seas (sky and ocean) are Varuna's loins; he is also contained in this drop of water. He who would flee far beyond the sky even he would not be rid of Varuna. His spies proceed from heaven towards this earth.'
‘Through want of strength, thou ever strong and bright god, have I gone wrong: have mercy, have mercy!'
" However we break thy laws from day to day, men as we are, O god Varuna, do not deliver us to death!'
Was it an old sin, Varuna, that thou wished to destroy the friend who always praises thee!'
O Indra, have mercy, give me my daily bread! Raise up wealth to the worshipper, thou mighty Dawn!'
'Thou art the giver of horses, Indra, thou art the giver of cows, the giver of corn, the strong lord of wealth : the old guide of man disappointing no desires: to him we
1 The history of this tree which I use for a parable is told in the Rev. Samuel Mateer’s ‘Land of Charity.' London: John Snow & Co. 1871.