Of their Religion, Gods, Temples, Priests.
To take a more particular view of the state of this Countrey, we shall first give some account of their Religion, as it justly requires the first place, and then of their other secular concerns.
Under their Religion will come to be considered, Their Gods, their Temples, their Priests, their Festivals, Sacrifices, and Worship, and their Doctrines and Opinions; and whatsoever other matters occur, that may concern this Subject.
The Religion of the Countrey is Idolatry. There are many both Gods and Devils, which they worship, known by particular Names, which they call them by. They do acknowledge one to be the Supreme, whom they call Ossa polla maupt Dio, which signifieth the Creator of Heaven and Earth; and it is he also, who still ruleth and governeth the same. This great Supreme God, they hold, sends forth other Deities to see his Will and Pleasure executed in the World; and these are the petty and inferior gods. These they say are the Souls of good men, who formerly lived upon the Earth. There are Devils also, who are the Inflicters of Sickness and Misery upon them. And these they hold to be the Souls of evil men.
There is another great God, whom they call Buddou, unto whom the Salvation of Souls belongs. Him they believe once to have come upon the Earth. And when he was here, that he did usually fit under a large shady Tree, called Bogahah. Which Trees ever since are accounted Holy, and under which with great Solemnities they do to this day celebrate the Ceremonies of his Worship. He departed from the Earth from the top of the highest Mountain on the Island, called Pico Adam: where there is an Impression like a foot, which, they say, is his, as hath been mentioned before.
The Sun and Moon they seem to have an Opinion to be gods from the Names they sometimes call them by. The Sun in their Language is Irri, and the Moon Handa. To which they will sometimes add the Title Haumi, which is a name they give to Persons of the greatest Honour; and Dio, that signifies God: saying Irrihaumi, Irridio: Handahaumi, handa Dio. But to the Stars they give not these Titles.
The Pagoda’s or Temples of their Gods are so many that I cannot number them. Many of them are of Rare and Exquisite work, built of Hewn Stone, engraven with Images and Figures; but by whom and when I could not attain to know, the Inhabitants themselves being ignorant therein. But sure I am they were built by far more Ingenious Artificers, than the Chingulayes that now are on the Land. For the Portugueze in their Invasions have defaced some of them, which there is none found that hath Skill enough to repair to this day.
The fashion of these Pagoda’s are different; some, to wit those that were anciently built, are of better Workmanship, as was said before; but those lately erected are far Inferior; made only with Clay and Sticks, and no Windows. Some, viz. Those belonging to the Buddou, are in the form of a Pigeon-House, foursquare, one Story high, and some two; the Room above has its Idols as well as that below. Some of them are Tiled, and some Thatched.
In them are Idols and Images most monstrous to behold, some of silver, some of brass and other metals: and also painted sticks, and Targets, and most strange kind of Arms, as Bills, Arrows, Spears and Swords. But these Arms are not in the Buddou’s Temples, he being for Peace: therefore there are in his Temples only Images of men cross-legged with yellow coats on like the Gonni-Priests, their hair frilled, and their hands before them like women. And these they say are the spirits of holy men departed. Their Temples are adorned with such things as the peoples ability and poverty can afford; accounting it the highest point of Devotion, bountifully to dedicate such things unto their Gods, which in their estimation are most precious.
As for these Images they say they say they do not own them to be Gods themselves but only Figures, representing their Gods to their memories; and as such, they give to them honour and worship.
Women having their natural infirmities upon them may not, neither dare they presume to come near the Temples or houses of their Gods. Nor the men, if they come out of houses where such women are.
Unto each of these Pagodas, there are great Revenues of Land belonging: which have been allotted to them by former Kings, according to the State of the Kingdom: but they have much impaired the Revenues of the Crown, there being rather more Towns belonging to the Church, than unto the King. These estates of the Temples are to supply a daily charge they are at; which is to prepare victuals or sacrifices to set before the Idols. They have Elephants also as the King has, which serve them for State. Their Temples have all sorts of Officers belonging to them, as the Palace hath.
Most of these Pagodas are dedicated to the name and honour of those, whom they call Dio or Gods: to whom, they say, belong the Government on earth, and of all things appertaining to this life.
Besides these Publick Temples, many people do build in their yards private Chappels, which are little houses, like to Closets, sometimes so small, that they are not above two foot in bigness, but built upon a Pillar three or four foot from the ground wherein they do place certain Image of the Buddou, that they may have him near them, and to testifie their love and service to him. Which they do by lighting up candles and lamps in his house, and laying flowers every morning before him. And at some times they boyl victuals and lay it before him. And the more they perform such ceremonious service to him here, the more shall be their ward hereafter.
All blessings and good success, they say, come from the hand of God, but sickness and diseases proceed from the Devil; not that of himself he hath such absolute power, but as servants have power, licence and authority from their Masters, so they from God.
But the Gods will require some to wait at their Altars; and the Temples, men to officiate in them: their Priests therefore fall under the next confederation. Of these there are three sorts according to the three differences of Gods among them. And their Temples are also called by three different names.
The first and highest order of Priests are the Tirinanxes. Who are the Priests of the Buddou God. Their Temples are styled Vehars. There is a religious house in the City of Digligy, where they dwell and assemble and consult together about their affairs, which being the meeting place of such holy men, they call it a Vihar; also they admit none to come into their order but persons of the most noble birth, and that have learning and be well bred; of such they admit many. But they do not presently upon their admission arrive unto the high degree of a Tirinanx. For of these there are but three or four: and they are chose out of all the rest of the order unto this degree; These Tirinanxes only live in the Vihar, and enjoy great Revenues, and are as it were the Superiorsof all the Priests, and are made by the King.
Many of the Vehars are endowed and have Farms belonging to them. And these Tirinanxes are the Landlords, unto whom the Tenants come at a certain time and pay in their Rents. These Farmers live the easiest of any people in the Land, for they have nothing to do but at those set times to bring in their dues and so depart, and to keep in repair certain little Vehars in the Countrey. So that the rest of the Chingulais envy them and say of them, Though they live easy in this world, they cannot escape unpunished in the life to come for enjoying the Buddou’s land and doing him so little service for it.
All the rest of the order are called Gonni. The habit is the same to the whole order, both Tirinanxes and Gonni. It is a yellow coat gathered together about their wast, and comes over their left shoulder, girt about with a belt of fine pack-thread. Their heads are shaved, and they go bare-headed and carry in their hands a round fan with a wooden handle, which is to keep the sun off their hands.
They have great benefit and honour. They enjoy their own lands without paying scot or lot or any Taxes to the King. They are honoured in such a measure, that the people, where ever they go, bow down to them as they do to their Gods, but themselves bow to none. They have the honour of carrying the Tallipot with the broad end over their heads foremost; which none but the King does: Wheresoever they come, they have a mat and a white cloth laid over upon a stool for them to sit upon; which is also an honour used only to the King.
They are debarred from laying their hands to any manner of work; and may not marry nor touch women, nor eat but one meal a day, unless it be fruit and rice and water, that they may eat morning and evening: nor must they drink wine. They will eat any lawful flesh that is dressed for them, but they will have no hand in the death of it; as to give order or consent to the killing of it.
They may lay down their order, if they please; which some do, that they may marry. This is done by pulling off their coat, and flinging it into a River, and washing themselves head and body, and then they become like other lay-men.
There is a benefit that accrueth to them, which is, when any man is minded to provide for his soul, they bring one of these Priests under a cloth held up by four men, unto his house, with drums and Pipes and great solemnity which only can be done unto the King besides. Then they give him great entertainment and bestows gifts on him according as they are able: which, after he hath tarried a day or more, they carry for him, and conduct him home with the like solemnities as Page 75he came. But the night that he tarries with them he must sing Bonna, that is matter concerning their Religion out of a Book made of the leaves of Tallipot: and then he tells them the meaning of what he sings, it being in an eloquent style which the Vulgar people do not understand.
Some of these Priests, against whom the King took displeasure, were beheaded, afterwards cast into the River. Which thing caused amazement in all the people, how the King durst presume to do it towards such holy and reverend persons.
And none heretofore by any former Kings have ever been so served: being reputed and called Sons of Boddou. But the reason the King flew them was because they conspired in the Rebellion. They threw aside their Habits, and got their swords by their sides.
The second order of Priests are those called Koppuhs. Who are the Priests that belong to the Temples of the other Gods. Their Temples are called Dewals. These are not distinguished by any habit from the rest of the People, no, nor when they are at their worship; only they wear clean cloths, and wash themselves before they go to their service. These are taken out from among the Hondrews. They enjoy a piece of Land that belongs to the Dewal where they officiate, and that is all their benefit, unless they steal somewhat that is dedicated to the Gods. They follow their Husbandry and employments as other men do, but only when the times of worship are, which usually is every morning and evening, oftner or seldomer according as the Revenue will hold out, that belongs to that Temple, whereof each is Priest. The service is, that when the boyled rice and other victuals are brought to the Temple door by others, he takes it and presents it before the Idol. Whence, after it hath stood a while, he brings it out again, and then the drummers, pipers, and other servants that belong to the Temple, eat it. These Gods have never any flesh brought in sacrifice to them, but any thing else.
The third order of Priests are the Jaddeses, Priests of the Spirits, which they call Dayautaus. Their Temples are called Covels, which are inferior to the other Temples, and have no revenues belonging to them. A man piously disposed, builds a small house at his own charge, which is the Temple, and himself becomes Priest thereof. Therein are Bills, and Swords, and Arrows, and Shields, and Images, painted upon the walls like fierce men. This house is seldom called Gods house, but most usually Jacco, the Devils. Upon some extradinary festival to the Jacco, the Jaddese shaves off all his beard.
When they are sick, they dedicate a red Cock to the Devil. Which they do after this manner. They send for the Jaddese to their house, and give him a red Cock chicken, which he takes up in his hand and holds an Arrow with it, and dedicates it to the God, by telling him that if he restore the party to his health, that Cock is given to him; and shall be dressed and sacrificed to him in his Covel. They then let the Cock go among the rest of the Poultry, and keep it afterwards, it may be, a year or two: and then they carry it to the Temple, or the Priest comes for it. For sometimes he will go round about, and fetch a great many Cocks together, that have been dedicated, telling the owners that he must make a sacrifice to the God; though it may be when he hath them, he will go to some other place Page 76and convert them into mony for his own use, as I my self can witness, We could buy three of them for four pence half-peny.
When the people are minded to enquire any thing of their Gods, the Priests take up some of the Arms and Instruments of the Gods, that are in the Temples, upon his shoulder; and their he either fains himself to be mad, or really is so: which the people call Pissowetitch; and then the spirit of the Gods is in him, and whatsoever he pronounceth, is looked upon as spoken by God himself, and the people will speak to him, as if it were the very person of God.