Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/363

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
The Binding of a God.

lines by which both in Greece and Rome the demarcation of the τέμενος or templum, the spot sanctified by the theophany, was effected by the augurs and pontiffs. Until the actual presence of the god was thus secured, the spot did not in Rome rise to the dignity of a templum, but received the less holy title of sacrum, sacrarium, or sacellum.

We are fortunately not without information on the subject drawn from the usages of other people. This I venture to bring before you this evening, more particularly because I think that the principles which underlie this branch of ritual go some way to explain other observances, and more particularly one of the most remarkable and obscure legends in the Iliad of Homer.

I will therefore first ask you to consider the early Hindu ritual which is given in chapter 265 of the Matsya Purâna. For a hitherto unpublished version of this remarkable passage I am indebted to the courtesy of Mr. C. H. Tawney, C.I.E., the learned librarian of the India Office, of whose services to the cause of folklore in the translation of the Kathâ Sarit Sâgara I need not remind any members of this Society. The present recension of this Purâna can be traced back to about the eighth century A.D. But both Mr. Tawney and Professor Weber agree that it has preserved much of the primitive ritual of the early Hindu writings ; and this, indeed, is sufficiently obvious from its contents.

After describing some preliminary rites the author goes on: "But after he has deposited the various objects with Mantras (spells) let him anoint the cavity with milk and diligently cover it over with a white cloth. Then having raised up the mighty god, let him place him in the splendid desired place, over the cavity, with the Mantra 'Heaven is firm, the earth is firm, the mountains are firm, firm is the king of subjects.' Then, having placed the god firmly, he should place his hand on his head and meditate with the utmost piety on the undivided god of gods, and should mut-