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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Should let all thought of self be absorbed in that Atm a


"The

intent of this sacrifice is, that a man should consider himself to be in the place of that horse, and look upon all these articles as typified in himself; and conceiving the _Atm[=a]_ (or divine soul) to be an ocean, should let all thought of self be absorbed in that _Atm[=a]_." _Page 19._

Mr. Halhed, the translator, justly observes: "This is the very acme and enthusiasm of allegory, and wonderfully displays the picturesque powers of fancy in an Asiatic genius; yet, unnatural as the account there stands, it is seriously credited by the Hindoos of all denominations." On the other hand, he thinks there is a great resemblance between this very ancient Hindoo ceremony and the sacrifice of the scape-goat, in the Bible, described in the 21st and 22d verses of the 16th chapter of Leviticus, viz.: "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat; and shall send him away, by the hand of a fit man, into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited; and he shall let go the goat into the wilderness." _Page 17._ In the same manner, all the iniquities of the sacrificer, in the Gentoo ceremony, are laid upon the horse, which is let loose, and attended by a stout and valiant person. The same is done in the Gipsy sacrifice, as typifying the

woman to be divorced.

The resemblance between the Gipsy and the Hindoo sacrifice is close and striking in their general bearings. The Hindoo sacrificer is typified in the horse, and his sins are ascertained and described by the motions or movements of the animal; for if the horse is very docile and tame, and of its own accord comes to the Hindoo celebrator of the sacrifice, his merits are then infinite, and extremely acceptable to the Deity worshipped. In the Gipsy sacrifice, if the horse is in like manner quiet, and easily caught, the woman, whom it represents, is then comparatively innocent. In India, part of the _flesh_ of the horse was eaten: among the Gipsies, the _heart_ is eaten. The Hindoos sacrificed their _enemies_, by substituting for them a _buffalo_, &c.: the Gipsies sacrifice their _unfaithful wives_, by the substitute of a _horse_. In the Hindoo sacrifice, particular parts of the horse allegorically represent certain parts of the earth: at certain parts of the horse, (the _corners_, as the Gipsies call them,) the Gipsies, in their circuit round the animal, halt, and utter particular sentences in their own language, as if these parts were of more importance, and had more influence, than the other parts. And it is probable that, in these sentences, some invisible agency was addressed and invoked by the Gipsies.

As the _Aswamedha_, or sacrifice of the horse, was the most important of all the religious ceremonies of every caste of Hindoos, in ancient India, so it would be the last to be forgotten by the wandering Gipsies. And as both sacrificed at twelve o'clock, noon, I am inclined to believe that both offered their sacrifice to the sun, the animating soul of universal nature. As already stated, the Gipsies, while travelling, assume new names every morning before setting out; but when noon-tide arrives, they resume their permanent English ones. This custom is practised daily, and has undoubtedly also some reference to the sun. By the account of the Gipsy already mentioned, the horse must, if possible, be killed at noon. According to Southey, in his curse of Kehamah, the sacrifice of the horse in India was performed at the same time. Colonel Tod, in his history of India, says: "The sacrifice of the horse is the most imposing, and the earliest, heathenish rite on record, and was dedicated to the sun, anciently, in India." According to the same author, the horse in India must be milk-white, with particular marks upon it. The Gipsy's horse to be sacrificed must be sound, and without blemish; but no particular colour is mentioned. According to Halhed, the horse sacrificed in India was also without blemish.


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