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Brahmins, who were ashamed of their absurd mythology; and they are contradicted by the commentaries and explications of others. It is only a translation of the canonical books of Indians (of which, many extol the wisdom and antiquity, without knowing much about them) that can fix our ideas on this subject.
For the translation of the work here announced, the public is indebted to the Baron de Sainte Croix, of the Royal Acadeiny of Inscriptions. It was made by a Brahmin of Benares, who was a correspondent of that academy; it was found among the papers of Mr. Barthelemy, second member of the council of Pondicherry; and a copy of it was brought from India by Mr. Modave, who made a present of it to M. De VOLTAIRE ; and in the year 1;61, the latter sent it to the king's library. , The manuscript, however, was not complete ; but M. de Sainte Croix supplied the chapters, which are wanting, from another copy of the same translation, made by M. Anquetil du Perron, from one in the possession of the nephew of M. Barthelemy.--All this is related at length in the preface of the learned editor.
This preface is followed by some preliminary observations, in which M. De Sainte Croix, tracing up to its origin the religion of the Indians, finds in it several lines of resemblance with that of the Egyptians, many of whom he carries into India about the end of the 16th century, before Christ, upon the testimony of Josephus, without, however, quoting the passage. The learned Baron relates afterwards the progress and vicissitudes of this religion, takes notice of its resemblance with that which Zoroafter caught the Persians, particularly in the province of Ariana, from whence, and from the neighbouring countries, he represents the Samaneans (a kind of magi or philosophers which some have erroneously confounded with the Brahmins) as spreading themselves in India, and teaching new doctrines. Before their arrival, the Brahmins, says our Author, were in the highest period of their glory; they were the only oracles of India; and their principal residence was on the banks of the Ganges, and in the adjacent mountains; while the Şainaneans were settled towards the Indus.-By this account, one would be led to conclude, that the Indians had a religious doctrine before that which had been taught them by the Sa.. maneans: but this is not conformable with what the Brahmins say themselves, viz. that they derived all their knowledge from the Samaneans, before whose arrival it would, in effect, be difficult to prove that the Brahmins were the religious teachers of the Indians.
The most celebrated and ancient of the Samanean doctors was Boutta (Boudda, or Budda), who was born 683 years before Chrift. His disciples honoured him as a God, and his doctrine,
which consisted chiefly in the Transmigration of Souls, and in the Worship of Cows, was adopted not only in India, but also in Japan, China, Siain, and Tartary. It was propagated, according to our Editor, in Thibet, in the eighth century, and Succeeded, there, the ancient religion of Zamolxis * The Samaneans or Buddists, were entirely destroyed in India by the jealous rage of the Brahmins, whose absurd practices and fables they affected to treat with contempt ; but several of their books are still respectfully preserved on the coast of Malabar; and, moreover, we are told, that several of the Brahmin-orders have adopted their manner of living, and openly profess the greatest part of their doctrines.
Our Author, or rather Editor, renders it more than probable, that the Indians derived a great part of their knowledge, and even of their fables, from the Jews (whose captivity and disperfion may have led many of them to India, in the time of Budda), from the Greeks, who went afterwards there with Alexander, and also from the Christians, who settled in India, in the early ages of the church. They also availed themselves of the opportunity of acquiring knowledge from commercial travellers; but from whatever sources they derived information, it was Itill disfigured by their excessive superstition.
With respect to the work itself, it is a commentary on the Vedam, or facred books of law and religion, which were written by the Samaneans, in the Samscretan language, and which but a small number, even of the Brahmins, understand at this day. M. DE SAINTE CROIX gives us an idea of four Vedams, from Indian memoirs and relations : He speaks also of the Pouranams, which were religious books of an inferior order, and which some of the Brahmins reject, as others do the Vedams, The Bagà Vedam, which contains the doctrine of the Indians concerning the Deity, happiness, a contemplative life, the history of the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe, the origin of inferior gods, men, giants, &c. is one of the Pouranams. After these, come the Schallers or Shafia, whole antiquity has been greatly cried up in Europe, but which must be posterior to the Vedams, of which they are no more than the explication. Now M. De Sainte Croix places the publication of the Vedams in the tenth century of the Christian
1 Budda was bigh priest; and our Editor thinks, that the grand Lamas, which the people of Thibet always kept up, even after 'their adopting the Indian religion, were his representatives and fuccestors. But M. de Guignes thinks, that it was from the Indian pontiff, that the people of Thibet took the thought of erecting one among themselves, when their religious voyages into India were rendered difficult and dangerous, by the arrival of the Mahomerans in the northern parts of that country,
molt monat absurde kated ideas och
An ancient Commentary on the Vedam. 503 æra, and that of the Pouranams in the fifteenth. 'All there books contain the most sublime and elevated ideas of the Supreme Being, mingled with the most absurd fables, the groflest materialism, and the most monstrous fancies. As to the EZOUR Vedam, now before us, M. Voltaire pretended, that it was more ancient than the age of Alexander che Great; but the Editor refutes this opinion, by an argument to which there is no reply, viz. that mention is made, in this book, of the Mahometans and Moors. . After these preliminary observations, we find the translation of the Ezour VEDAM. This work is a dialogue between a man plunged in the thickest darkness of idolatry, called Biache, and Chumontiu, a philoropher of the Canigueuls or Eclectics, who were attached to no feet, but took from each the doctrines that pleased them most. The former gives an account of Indian paganisin, in all its popular doctrines ;--the latter thews their absurdity, combats idolatry, and gives his own opinions concerning the unity of God, the creation, the nature of the soul, the worship that is worthy of the Supreme Being, and the duties of every rank and station in life; and his doctrine seems to be entirely conformable to the Samanean system. His work con. tains eight books, divided into different chapters, in which he treats of the creation of the world, the Vedams, the different Caftes, of the production of beings, the different itates of life, of hell, of sin, of good works, of meditation, of paradise, of the different incarnations of the gods, of giants, and of the soul.
There is a strange mixture of enormous absurdity and rational theology in this work, from which we shall extract some pallages. After having heard Binche's account of the origin of the worship of Lingam, which surpafles, in indecent Itupidity, almost all the fables of Grecian theology, Chunonton treats the story with the warmest expressions of cont:mpt and indignation. He, moreover, censures leverely the invention of the Pouranams, of the incarnations of Vischnou, and condemns those, who confer the name of God upon Brahma, Vischnou, Chiver, or Gonetho, or worship them as such. He also combais the distinction of the Caftes, which raise certain orders of men so much above others, and observes, on this occasion, that Adimo is the name of the first man, whom God formed, and that from him proceeded all those whom Biache falsely looked upon as Deities. He repeats to this latter the prayer, which thore (whom he erroneously looks upon as Gods) address to the Supreme Being, and this prayer is, indeed, remarkable enough to deserve a place here. It is as follows : “ O God Creator, O God Preferver of all things-thou haft formed me from no. thing, that I night employ the life thou haft beftowed upon
God Prefeplace here," prazer is, indeos
me, in loving and serving thee! But scarcely had I proceeded from thy forming hand, when a fatal enchantment deluded my understanding, and corrupted my heart. Ignorance and error have made me forget my duties to thee, and have disguised them. This I confess with forrow : and I come, proftrate at thy feet, to implore thy clemency, and to sue for pardon. Enslaved by luit and pleasure, I have followed their impulse, and the cares and perplexities of the world have occupied and divided a heart, which I ought to have kept for thee alone.- O God, who art invisible,-0 God, who art eternal-Hold out to me an arm of succour, and bring me back entirely to thyself.”
Besides this prayer, and several others, equally rational, and recommendable for their beautiful simplicity, there are moral maxims, and portraits in this work, which must give a very favourable opinion of Cbumontou, and the other Indian philosophers, who think as he does. But these lines of wisdom are tarnished by the practices and ceremonies that accompany them, and which, though designed to assist and perfect the habit of meditation, only serve to nourish a mystical indolence and apathy. Such, among others, is their method of acquiring a divine light, by pronouncing the word oum, the signal for lus. pending every operation of the external senses, and even respiration itself, as far as that is possible, that the mind may be con. centrated in the contemplation of the Deity. It is in cunsequence of these meditations, which are the great business of the contemplative philosophers among the Indians, that one of them passed nine years with his eyes fixed upon a wall. Some of these dreamers sit cross-legged with their eyes directed towards the point of the nose, pronouncing certain mysterious words, and they imagine, that they perceive a white spot, after they have been, for some time, in this attitude, and this spot they call the Divine Light. This estrangement from all things external, produces an apathy, which, according to them, identifies the soul with the Deity, from whose eflence it originally proceeded.
It is certain that this work gives a much fuller and clearer account of the religious doctrine of the Indians than any of the relations of travellers that have visited that country. Among other things, the doctrines of the philosophers (among whom some are materialists and pantheists), the different orders of the Brahmins, the mansions of the pretended deities, are circumftantially described ; but the Author of the Ezour-Vedam teaches positively the unity of God. He considers l'ischnou as born from the right side of Adimo, the first man, and all the other gods as mortals; and, at the same time, he falls into all the mystical absurdities of the contemplative philosophers. This sect, notwithstanding their great pretensions to sanctity, is disfigured by
2 multitude of hypocrites, and some travellers represent the greatest part of them as a profligate bandicti.. Upon the whole, it still appears to us, that pantheism and transmigration are the great lines of the Indian theology and philosophy.
The learned notes and illustrations which the Baron de St. Croix has subjoined to this translation of the Ezour-Vedam, explain several points of the Indian theology, that have been hitherto but imperfectly understood; but much yet remains to be done in this matter; nor shall we be able fully to appreciate the pretended merit of the Indian philosophers (if they deserve that name), until a greater number of their works be published ; and more especially until we are better acquainted with the history of India, which alone can inform us of the part these pretended sages have acted under the monarchs and princes of that vast region.
A RT. V. Oeuvres de Blaise Pascal.-The Works of Blaise Pascal. 5 Vols. 8vo.
Paris and the Hague. 1779. D ASCAL was certainly one of the greatest geniuses of the
T last century. He was a mathematician of the first order, a profound dialectician, and a writer equally diftinguished by the sublimity of his ideas, the force and sweetness of his elo. quence, and the easy and flowing amenity of his wit and plea. fantry; and all thele happy talents were consecrated to the service of religion, philosophy, and virtue. It is, therefore, but just to consider this edition of his works, in which they are collected for the first time, as a valuable present to letters and to philosophy. Several of his excellent productions have hitherto remained in manuscript : some of which but a small number of copies were printed) were become exceedingly rare, and would, in a little time, have been lost to the Public, had they not been redeemed from oblivion by the prelent collection. In this number we must reckon particularly his mathematical works, which, though they have no more the merit of novelty, will still be interesting, as they carry the strong lines of inventive genius, and exhibit its procedure in the pursuit of evia dence, and in the investigation of truth. It is well known that Pascal had extended and improved considerably the theory of conic sections, and had discovered several of their properties that were unknown to the ancients; and it is to be lamented that the treatises which contained these discoveries, and several others relative to mathematical science, have been lost. . The learned Editor to whom we are indebted for this colJe&tion, has prefixed to it a life of PASCAL ; who, as he lived in one of the hottest periods of theological contest, as he was one of the combatants, and was too great a man to be viewed