The religious doctrines of the Hindus may be divided, like those of most other people whose scriptures are in a hidden tongue, into exoteric and esoteric; the first is preached to the vulgar, the second known only to a select number: and while the Brahmans are admitted to possess a considerable portion of unadulterated physical, and moral truths, the exoteric religion of the Hindus, in general, consists in gross idolatry and irrational superstition.
The doctrines thus divided, may be otherwise styled religion and mythology: the latter is perhaps the invention rather of poets than of priests; but being so well adapted to their purpose, the priests have artfully applied it to rivet the mental chains that, when the scriptures are concealed, they seldom fail to assist in forging for mankind.
Strictly speaking, the religion of the Hindus is monotheism. They worship God in unity, and express their conceptions of the Divine Being and his attributes in the most awful and sublime terms. God, thus adored, is called BRAHM: the One Eternal Mind; the self-existing, incomprehensible Spirit.
After this we enter a field of allegory, so wide and so diversified, and at first sight so apparently confused and contradictory, that much ingenious research was found necessary, among its early cultivators, to reduce it to any regular arrangement; and much remains still to be done, before the inquirer can be