Sect of Maharajas

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    The Sect of Maharajas

    Source: Anthropological Review, Vol. 4, No. 14 (Jul., 1866), pp. 252-259Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and IrelandStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3025087 .

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    252 ANTHROPOLOGICALEVIEW.difficulties,the travellers were obliged to abandon their design ofdescending the river, when they had so fair a prospect of having aboat ready to descend it, with the coming flood. We join in theirhope that they may before long be again in a condition to attempt it;and we look forward with much pleasure to Mr. Chapman's forth-coming work, the result of many years travel in South Africa, whichwe feel sure must contain much valuable information respecting thevarious native tribes.We understand that Mr. Baines has placed in the hands of Messrs.Day and Son a series of oil paintings representing the various nativesof Kafrraria?South-Eastern and South-Western Africa?the majorityof these are faithfulportraits, actually finishedwhile the natives sat,more or less willingly, to the artist as he worked under the shadow ofthe wagon awning, or perchance a rude grass-covered hut, far in theinterior of the country. They have all at various times been exhi-bited before the Anthropological or Royal Society.

    THE SECT OF MAHlRAJAS.*The Jesuit priests who followed in the train of Spanish conquest inAmerica delighted in drawing parallels between the Old World andthe New, demonstratingto their own complete satisfaction,?and usingarguments of fire and faggot to those individuals who ventured todiffer, owever respectfully,fromthem,?that his Satanic Majestyhadcaricatured the institutions of the Judaic dispensation in the Occi-dental Continent. The historical researches of modern times havenullined the pet theories of the gentlemen who saw the devil in everything, and, as our real knowledge widens, we find instances galore inthe Old World quite upholding its preeminence for wickedness andabsurdity under the cloak of religious belief.Mormonism, with its peculiar institutions, is a new and flourishingsystem, but Joseph Smith is not original in his ideas. India hasmaintained its character as an initiatorypeople, and a species of Mor?monism has flourished n the Hither Peninsula for some centuries, aswill be seen by the followingstatements, drawn froman elaborate andcarefully writtenvolume now before us.The existence of numerous sects among the Hindus is a well-knownfact. Founded primitively upon the Vedas the Hindu worship con-

    * History f the Sect of Mahdrdjas,or VallabMchdryas,n Westernndia.Trubner nd Co.

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    THE SECT OF MAHARAJAS. 253sists in the adoration ofBrahma, Vishnu and Siva, but owing to thestrifewhich the religious opinions of the various schools ofphilosophyoccasioned, a spirit of dissent arose, and India became the arena offiercecontroversyat a veiy early period.Thus, on the one hand, the worshippers of the Deity preferred toadore some special form under which he originally appears in theVedas; and on the other hand, the philosophers gradually recededfromeach other,and formed several Darsanas or schools. In processof time the worshipof Brahma has disappeared, as indeed that of thewhole pantheon, except Vishnu, Siva, and Sakti, or modifications ofthese forms. The representatives of the two formerhave, in fact,superseded their prototypes, and Krishna, Rama, or the Linga, arenow almost the only formsunder which Vishnu and Siva are adored.In the Darsanas there gradually arose heresy, and though it isdifficult o distinguish these schools, the principal systems seem to bethe Saugata, or Bauddha; Arhata, or Jaina; and Varhaspatya, oratheistic school.

    Attempts made at various periods to reintroduce the sole worshipof Brahm?, Para Brahm&, the supreme and only ruler of the universe,were generally unsuccessful, and hence at the present day the wor?shippers ofthis faith consist of the Vaishnavas, Saivas, and Saktas, orthe adorers ofVishnu, Siva, and Sakti. Into the peculiarities of thesesects it is unnecessary for us to enter on the present occasion, as wewish only to give here a brief account of the sect of Maharajas.The Vaishnavas, or worshippers ofVishnu, are divided into a mul-tiplicity of sects; some of these enjoin asceticism, but the generalclasses of the rich, the luxurious and the indolent, and especiallyfemales, attach themselves to the worship of Krishna and his mistressR&dh&, either jointly or singly, under the names of Vishnu andLakshmi. But there is yet another form of the worship of thispopular divinity, that is, the worship of the Bala Gopala or BalaKrishna, the infant Krishna, a worship widely spread throughout allranks of Hindu society, and first promulgated by the founder of thesect, under the name of Rudra Sampradaya. The name of the insti-tutor of this sect was Vallabhacharya, and this heresy is also knownas the religion of the Gokulastha Gos&ins, from the title of itsteachers.The first eacher of the philosophical tenets on which the presentdoctrines of the sect are founded, was Vishnu Svami, who was a com-mentator on the Vedaic texts. He was followed in his teaching byDnama Deva, Kesavacharya, Heralal, Sridhar, and Bilava Mangala.Bilava Mangala was succeeded, but how soon it is not known, by Val?labhacharya, the second son of Lakshman Bhatt, a Tailinga Brahman.

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    254 ANTHROPOLOGICALEVIEW.This Lakshman Bhatt was descended from a Brahman named NarayanBhatt, inhabitingthevillage of Kankrava, and was the fourthindirectdescent fromhim. He promulgated the idea, now so implicitlybe-lieved in by this numerous sect, that he had been promised byKrishna that he should have three sons, and that his second sonshould succeed him as the incarnation of himself, the god. Hiswife'sname was Elmagar, and their first on was Rama Krishna.Lakshman Bhatt with his wife and infantson went on a pilgrimagefromAllahabad to Benares, but a conflictarising between the Mussul-mansanclthe Sannyasis, he fled with the family, nd arrived in a deso-late place named Champaranya, where Elmagar, seized with prematurelabour pains, gave birth to her second son, on Sunday, the 11th dayofVaisiikli Vadya Samvat, 1535 (a.d. 1497).This child was Vallabha. Legends say that when he was born agolden palace sprung up on the spot, the gods showered down flowers,the houries danced around, and the gandharvas (heavenly songsters)sang. The mother relying upon the j:>rotectionof Krishna, exposedthe infant under a tree, and fled. When the troublous times werepast, the parents returned, and found the child j>laying in the midstof a sacrificialflame. He was then taken with them to Benares, andreceived the name of Vadtrabha, afterwards changed to Vallabha.His followerserected a temple on the spot where he was born. Hisyounger brotherwas Kesava.When older he was jilaced under the tuition of Narayan Bhatt, andit is asserted in his biography, that the rapidity of his apprehensionwas miraculous, and in four months he learnt the whole of the fourVedas, the six Shastras (schools of philosophy), and the eighteenPuranas?an accomplishment which a mature scholar cannot hoj^e toacquire during his whole life. When eleven years of age, Vallabhalost his father,and in the following year he took leave of his mother,and bidding farewell to Gokul, the village of his residence, nearMathura, he started on a pilgrimage through India.At a certain town in the south of India, he became acquainted withDiimordardaas, a rich and important person who became his firstdiscij^le. The j)air jDroceeded to the city ofVijayanagar, where thematernal parents of Vallabha resided. Krishna Deva was king ofthis jDlace,and before him, Vallabha disputed with the Saivists, ordevotees of Siva, to the great satisfaction of the monarch, wholiberally rewarded him.On account of this di