Page images

whom I have mentioned as the highest god of the Vaeddas, of whose status Mr. Nevill appears to have been unaware.

These rock and hill deities are difficult to identify without acquaintance with their attributes and functions. The Sinhalese recognise three if not four special forms of them: (1) the Galē Deviya,' the God of the Rock,' who is undoubtedly the Gale Yaka of the Vaeddas; (2) the Galē Baṇḍāra, the Chief of the Rock,' an Indian demon who arrived on the southern or western coast with others, in a boat made of stone, and is by some confounded with No. 1; (3) the Kandē Baṇḍāra, the Chief of the Hill,' about whom I have no information; and (4) Kurunāēgalē Postima Baṇḍara, the Chief Postimă of Kurunāēgala,' a local demon of the Kurunāēgala district, who is the spirit of the Prince Postima who was thrown down the precipice at the Kurunāēgala rock.1

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Mr. Nevill states that Māra, the personification of Death, is largely invoked by the Coast Vaeddas' as a later conception of Kumbē Yakā as the God of Death, the opponent of youthful vigour.'

Among the southern Vaeddas, I found that offerings are made to a second series of sickness-causing demons, several of whom are identical with those of the Sinhalese, from whom they appear to have been borrowed. These latter are as follows, each having a Sakti, or female manifestation of the same name, who is considered to be his wife, this being a local development, and I believe unknown to the Sinhalese.

NAME OF Demon. 1. Sanni Yakā

Sanni Yaksani

Causes Sanni-roga (sickness

accompanied by convul-
sions, such as cholera),
and other illnesses, and is
the worst of the group.

2. Hūniyan Yakā 2 Hūniyan Yaksani Causes the ills that follow

curses, magical spells, and the glance of the Evil Eye.

1 See the account of it in Eleven Years in Ceylon, by Major Forbes. Vol. i, p. 194.

2 Illustrated in Yakkun Nattanawa, p. 10. In the plate he rides on a horse, holding a sword in the left hand and fire in a vessel in the right. He is surrounded by snakes, which coil about his limbs and head.

[blocks in formation]

In addition to these there is the Kumāra Yakā,' the Prince Demon,' who is most likely the Kumāra Baṇḍāra of the Kandians and the Sinhalese of the western coast, a son of a King of Madura and brother of the Kalu Kumāra Yakā. He cannot be Skanda, the War God, who is also called Kumāra, as he has distinctly demoniacal traits, and among other things causes fever and swelling of the body-probably dropsy. There are other evil female deities: Siri Kaḍawara Yaksani, and Madana Siri Yaksani, whose names indicate a belief in the respective male forms Siri Kaḍawara and Madana Kaḍawara; and at least three termed Giri, the feminine form of Gară, are known in the south, where they afflict women and children.

There are no less than twelve demons who are especially called 'Vaedi' Yakās. Unfortunately I could not obtain their names, as my informants, although Vaeddas, were unacquainted with these details. They are said to be extremely malignant, so much so that if they strike one recovery is impossible. Mr. Nevill refers to apparently the most important one under the name' Maha Vaedde Yakā'; another is clearly the Kalu Vaedda Yakā already mentioned, and possibly some of the others whose names have been given belong to this class.

The Kandian Sinhalese also recognise twelve Vaedi Yakās; two of them may be the demons termed Pudana Vaedi Yakā

1 Illustrated in Yakkun Nattanawa, p. 7, as a black demon with a bear's head, who carries a spear in his left hand, and an elephant (which he is about to devour) in his right. He rides on a pig.


and Hella Vaedi Yakā, who, however, are not so deadly as the Vaedi Yakās of the Vaeddas. I have already stated that there are three Vaedi Yakās who are subordinate to the Kohombe Yakā, and twelve others under him in an inferior position who are termed Vaedi Kaḍawarayō. Very little appears to be known about them. Lists of these attendants and other particulars for which I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Codrington of the Ceylon Civil Service, do not throw much light on the subject, as they do not seem to contain the names of Vaedi deities.

Lastly, there is Kurumbuḍa Yakā, ranked by the Sinhalese as a very malignant (wasa napuru) demon. He is the minister and attendant of the Galē Yakā, whom he accompanied from India.

Doubtless there are others of whom nothing is yet known, and especially an immense array of nameless minor local demons, who are found throughout the whole country, inhabiting rocks, and pools, and trees, and waste grounds. Dr. Seligmann has stated at a meeting of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society that he found the Forest Vaeddas largely worshipping a number of spirit deities, who are the spirits of deceased persons, their relatives. He will doubtless give a full account of them in his work on the Vaeddas. He terms them the Nãe Yakās, the Kinsfolk Demons' or deities.

On a review of this formidable list of the deities, beneficent and malevolent, of the Vaeddas, it will be seen that the close connection between their religious ideas and those of the Sinhalese, and especially the Kandian Sinhalese, exclusive of Buddhism, is very prominent. In fact, the chief line of divergence lies in the deification of the Kiri-Ammās and the recent Nae Yakās. Sacrifice of some kind is paid by the Kandians or the Sinhalese of the western coast. districts to practically all the other deities of the Vaeddas, with the exception of Bōwala Yakā, and possibly of Kumbe Yaka, and Wana-gatta Yakā. I have no acquaintance with the Mudē Yaka, the God or Demon of the Sea, of the Fishing or Coast Vaeddas; he may be a deity borrowed from the Sin

halese or Tamil fishermen with whom they come in contact, or possibly is aboriginal.

The point of particular interest is the supreme position assigned to the God of the Rock, or Hills, as a beneficent deity. Nominally, at least, he does not hold this rank among the north-western Kandians, who term him merely one of the most powerful of the demons, and one who does not often trouble himself with the affairs of men, although as a matter of fact they often appeal to him for assistance in case of the outbreak of epidemics or great want of rain. He is quite unknown to the Sinhalese of the western coast. I think there can be no doubt that he is the Hill God of the wild tribes of the South Indian hills. The legend regarding his arrival in Ceylon, and the particulars of his worship as it still survives among the Village Vaeddas and Kandians are given in the next chapter.

The statement of the Vaeddas that the Goddess known as the Indigollaēwa Kiri-Amma is his wife finds confirmation in the North-central Province, where the same temple at Indigollaewa is the local centre of the cult of both deities. If the Kiri-Ammā is really Mōhinī, as I was informed, we have here a cult that has been to some extent developed independently of India, and that perhaps may be connected with the legends respecting the conquests of the Asuras by Skanda and his half-brother Ayiyanar. People who found themselves surrounded by such a numerous band of evil spirits as those of Ceylon naturally would be inclined to pay honour to deities like Mōhini, who had proved themselves their outwitters.

After the demons had been cheated by the gods at the great Churning of the Ocean, Mōhini regained the form of Vishnu, and left the scene. The God Śiva subsequently heard of the incident, and proceeded to Vishnu, who to satisfy his curiosity resumed the shape of the fascinating beauty. The susceptible Siva was overcome by her charms, and the result was the birth of a son after Vishnu had returned once more to his own form. We learn this from the Bhāgavata Purāna.

The infant made his appearance in the world from the back of the God's right hand, and received the name Eiyanār (in Tamil), or Ayiyanār (in Sinhalese), or, according to the Tanjore temple authorities, who may be taken to represent South Indian opinion, more correctly Keiyanār,' He (who was born) from the Hand.' He is also known as Nāyanār, and as Hari-Hara-putra, the son of both Hari, or Vishnu, and Hara, or Siva. His colour is dark blue or black, and in Ceylon his Vāhana, or the 'Vehicle' on which he rides, is a white elephant. In India he rides both the elephant and the horse.

The vāhanas, an elephant, a bridled horse, and apparently another smaller animal, part of the head of which appears behind the horse, at the side of a guardian deity carved in high false relief on a pillar at one of the wāhalkaḍas, or ornamental altar-backgrounds, at the Jētavana dāgaba at Anuradhapura, show that the figure may represent Ayiyanar. He wears a cloth from the waist downwards, and has the usual heavy ear-rings, two jewelled necklaces, and large armlets and bangles. He holds an upright cross hanging from the fingers of his uplifted right hand. On the other side of his head flames emanate from a chalicelike object carved in relief on an upright slab or stele. In the panel below him is represented one of his wives, who carries a large flower or bouquet in her left hand, and has a long twist of hair hanging down on her right breast (Fig. 37). This carving probably dates from the early part of the fourth century A.D.

In the reliefs on the gōpura of the eleventh century A.D. at the Tanjore temple he is represented as a child on a diminutive elephant, and has one face, but twelve arms (Fig. 39). Pushkala and Pūrnā or Pūranā were his two wives.

A different account of him is given by Dr. Burgess, in describing the rock-cut temples at Bādāmi in the Dekhan.1 It is taken by him from Foulkes's Legends of the Shrine of Harihara, and agrees with the Bādāmi carvings, which may be four or five centuries earlier than those at Tanjore. In this story Harihara had a different origin and mission. It was 1 The Indian Antiquary, Vol. vi, p. 358.

« PreviousContinue »