Part 3- Chapter V
Concerning their Religions Doctrines,
Opinions, And Practices.
There are few or none zealous in their worship, or have any great matter of esteem for their Gods. And they seldom busie themselves in the matters of their Religion, until they come to be sick or very aged. They debar none that will come to see the Ceremonies of their worship; and if a stranger should dislike their way, reprove or mock at them for their Ignorance and Folly, they would acknowledge the same, and laugh at the superstitions of their own Devotion, but withall tell you that they are constrained to do what they do, to keep themselves safe from the malice and mischiefs that the evil spirits would otherwise do them, with which, they say, their Country swarm.
Sometimes in their Sickness they go to the House of their Gods with an Offering, with which they present him, intreating his favour and aid to restore them to health. Upon the recovery whereof they promise him not to fail but to give unto His Majesty (for so they entitle him) far greater Gifts or Rewards, and what they are, they do particularly mention; it may be, Land, a Slave, Cattle, Money, Cloth, &c. and so they will discourse, argue and expostulate with him, as if he were there present in Person before them. If after this, he fails on his part, and cannot restore them to their health, then the fore-promised things are to remain where they were; and instead of which perhaps he gets a Curse, saying, He doth but cheat and deceive them.
It is a usual saying, and very frequent among them (if their Gerahah, which is their fortune, be bad) What can God do against it: Nay, have often heard them say, Give him no Sacrifice, but shit in his Mouth, what a God is He? So slight an estimation have they of their Idol-Gods; and the King far less esteems them. For he doth not in the least give any countenance either to the Worshipper, or to the manner of worship. And God’s name be magnified, that hath not suffered him to disturb or molest the Christians in the least in their Religion, or ever attempt to force them to comply with the Countreys Idolatry. But on the contrary, both King and People do generally like the Christian Religion better than their own: and respect and honour the Christians as Christians; and do believe there is a greater God than any they adore. And in all probability they would be very easily drawn to the Christian or any other Religion: as will appear by this story following.
There was lately one among them that pretended himself a Prophet sent to them from a new God, that as yet was nameless. At which the People were amused, especially because he pretended to heal the Sick, and do Miracles: and presently he was had in high veneration. He gave out it was the command of the new nameless God to spoil and pull down the Dewals, that is, the Temples of the former Gods. This he made a good progress in, with no let or impediment from King or People. The King all this while inclined neither to one or other, as not regarding such matters, until he might see which of these Gods would prevail, the old or the new. For this People stand in fear of all that are called Gods; and this especially surprized them, because without a Name; so contrary to all their old ones, who have Names. This new-found God therefore went on boldly and successfully without controul: the People all in general began to admire him thus come among them. And great troops of People daily assembled thither with Sacrifices, and to worship him. Whereby seeing their inclination so strong towards him, he began to perceive it was not only possible, but also easie and probable to change his Priesthood for a Kingdom.
At which time, whether the King began to suspect or not, I cannot say; but he sent for one of his Priests to be brought up to the Court. For this God had his residence in the Countrey at Vealbow in Hotcourly, somewhat remote from the King. This Priest having remained at the City some days, the King took a Ring from off his Finger, and put it in an Ivory Box, and sent it by three of his great Men to him, bidding him to enquire of his nameless God what it was that was therein; which amazed this Priest; but he returned this subtil answer, that he was not sent to divine, but to heal the Diseases and help the Infirmities of the People. Upon which the King gave Command to take him and put him in the Stocks under a Tree, there to be wet with the Rain, and dry again with the Sun. Which was executed upon him accordingly.
The Chief Priest, who was the first Inventor of this new God, hearing what the King had done, and fearing what might follow, suddenly dispatched, and carried all what he had plundered out of the Pagods with him to Columba, and stole one of the King’s Elephants to carry it upon. Where being arrived, he declares himself to be Son of the King of Mautoly; who was elder Brother to this King that now is, and for fear of whom he fled to Columba; being at that time when the Portugals had it, who sent him to Goa, where he died.
This being noised abroad that he was a Prince, made the People flock faster to him than before. Which changed both his heart and behaviour from a Priest to a King. Insomuch that the Dutch began to be in doubt what this might grow to. Who to prevent the worst, set a watch over him: which he not liking of, took the advantage of the night, and fled with all his Followers and Attendance up to the King again, and came to the same place where he lay before.
No sooner had the King notice of his arrival, but immediately he dispatched five of his greatest Commanders with their Soldiers to catch him, and to bring him up to him. Which they did, laying both him and all his followers in Chains. The King commanded to keep him in a certain Pagoda of the Chingulayes, until the matter were examined, the People in general much lamenting him, tho not able to help. The chief of their Church-men, viz. their Gonni-nancies, were all commanded to make their Personal appearance at Court. Which all thought was to see the Prince or Priest, should have a legal Trial. But in the mean time, the King commanded to cut him in four quarters, and hang them in places, which he appointed. Which was done.
Nevertheless the Vulgar People to this day do honour and adore the name & memorial of the nameless God. With which if he could have been content, and not have gone about to usurp the Crown, the King so little regarding Religion, he might have lived to dye a natural death.
These people do firmly believe a resurrection of the body, and the Immortality of Souls, and a future State. Upon which account they will worship their Ancestors. They do beleive that those they call Gods are the spirits of men that formerly have lived upon the earth. They hold that in the other world, those that are good men tho they be poor and mean in this world, yet there they shall become high and eminent; and that wicked men shall be turned into beasts. There is a Spider among them, that breeds an Egg, which she carries under her belly, ’tis as wide as groat, and bigger then the body of the Spider. This egg is full of young Spiders that breed there: it hangs under her belly wheresoever she goes: and as their young ones grow to bigness they eat up the old one. Now the Chingulayes say, that disobedient children shall become Spidersin the other world, and their young ones shall eat them up.
They hold that every mans good or bad Fortune was predetermined by God, before he was born, according to an usual Proverb they have, Ollua cottaula tiana, It is written in the head.
They reckon the chief poynts of goodness to consist in giving to the Priests, in making Pudgiahs, Sacrifices to their Gods, in forbearing shedding the blood of any creature: which to do they call Pau boi, a great Sin: and in abstaining from eating any flesh at all, because they would not have any hand, or any thing to do in killing any living thing. They reckon Herbs and Plants more innocent food. It is religion also to sweep under the Bogaha or God-Tree, and keep it clean. It is accounted religion to be just and sober and chast and true and to be endowed with other vertues, as we do account it.
They give to the poor out of a Principle of Charity, which they extend to forraigners, as well as to their own Country-men. But of every measure of rice they boyl in their houses for their families they will take out an handful, as much as they can gripe, and put into a bag, and keep it by it self, which they call Mitta-haul. And this they give and distribute to such poor as they please, or as come to their doors.
Nor are they charitable only to the poor of their own Nation, but as I said to others: and particularly to the Moorish beggars, who are Mahometans by religion. These have a Temple in Cande. A certain former king gave this Temple this Priviledg, that every Free-holder should contribute a Ponnam to it. And these Moors go to every house in the land to receive it. And if the house be shut, they have power to break it open, and to take out of goods to the value of it. They come very confidently when they beg, and they say they come to fulfill the peoples charity.And the people do liberrally releive them for charity sake.
There is only one County in the Land, viz. Dolusbaug, that pays not the aforesaid duty to the Moors Temple. And the reason is, that when they came first thither to demand it, the Inhabitants beat them away. For which act they are free from the payment of that Ponnam and have also another priviledg granted them for the same, That they pay no Marral, or Harriots, to the King as other Countreys do.
These Moors Pilgrims have many pieces of Land given them by well disposed persons out of charity, where they build houses and live. And this land becomes theirs from generation to generation for ever.
They lay Flowers, out of religion, before their Images every morning and evening, for which Images they build little Chappels in their yards as we said before. They carry beads in their hands on strings, and say so many prayers as they go. Which custom in all probability they borrowed of the Portugueze. They love a man that makes conscience of his ways. Which makes them respect Christians more than any others, because they think they are just and will not lye. And thus we have finished our discourse of their Religion.