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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/367

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The Binding of a God. 331

we have been considering, is found among the Dravidian or non-Aryan races.

I was once some years ago fortunate enough to be present at the actual birth of a local god in a low-caste village hid- den away in the jungles of Gorakhpur, in Northern India. What I saw was in this wise. I had been trying a very intricate case of murder. A man was accused of killing his own child in order to make its ghost " sit on the head," as the Indian phrase runs, of the usurer who was engaged in enforcing a decree against him. To get at the root of the matter it was necessary for me to visit the scene of the murder, and when I arrived there I found that, since the killing of the child a few days before, its ghost had begun to make itself unpleasant. More than one case of sudden illness of man and beast and unlucky accident were confid- ently attributed to its malignity, and that day it had been found necessary to call in the aid of the Ojha, or " Cunning Man," of the neighbourhood, to lay the ghost.

This was how he did it. He rang his bell to summon all the vagrant ghosts of the neighbourhood together. Every Indian village has, besides its respectable, established ghosts who are "on the foundation," a number of others who are on their promotion, which may or may not, as circumstances occur, be provided with an image, a shrine, and a priest. They are exactly analogous to the Jinn of Semitic lands, whom Dr. Robertson Smith calls " gods without worship- pers;" and he adds that "a god who loses his worshippers goes back to the clan from which he came, as a being of vague and indeterminate powers, who, having no personal relations to men, is on the whole to be regarded as an enemy." ^

When all these evil spirits, one or other of whom was certainly responsible for the unpleasantness which it was the business of the exorcisor to remove, had assembled, he

' Religion of the Semites, p. 114.