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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER NINE. HOW A SCHOOLMASTER BECAME A GOD.

Old Daniel by Thomas Hodson

CHAPTER NINE. HOW A SCHOOLMASTER BECAME A GOD.

We have seen how some old swords were worshipped by Daniel's parents and friends, and we will now show how, many years ago, a god was made out of an old schoolmaster, and is worshipped at the present day. The legend is that, about two hundred years ago, there lived in Goobbe a very efficient schoolmaster, who was celebrated all over that part, of the country for his learning, wisdom, and sanctity. He lived to a good old age, and then died. The respect in which he had been held during his life was manifested at his funeral, when there was a very large gathering of mourners. His death was looked upon as a public calamity. But he would doubtless soon have been forgotten had it not been for the gratitude and activity of one of his pupils, named Burree Gowda. This man had, during the course of twenty or thirty years, become very rich, and a person of considerable influence. He attributed all his success in life to the teaching and good example of his old schoolmaster, and he felt disposed to do something to perpetuate his memory. He therefore one day called together all the influential men of Goobbe, amongst whom there were probably a few of Burree Gowda's fellow-students, and to this assembly he opened his mind fully. He enumerated the excellencies of his old teacher, and stated his conviction that the good schoolmaster was something more than an ordinary mortal; indeed, that he was an incarnation of some deity; adding that, being divine, he ought to be worshipped. To this opinion the assembly assented. He next proposed that a temple should be erected, and all arrangements secured for the schoolmaster being worshipped as the god `Goobbe-appa' -- that is, Goobbe-father. All agreed to this also, as being calculated to benefit the people of Goobbe, as well as to do honour to the schoolmaster. But when Burree Gowda proposed to meet all the expenses himself, we may fairly conclude hat the proposal was carried by acclamation. In due time the temple was built, an idol (the bust of a man with a face of gold) was made, and, with the usual ceremonies, |Prana pratishta| was performed. This is a special ceremony, by which the Hindoos think life is imparted to an image, or that a god is made to enter into an idol. Thus they supposed that the deified old schoolmaster entered into the image of `Goobbe-Appa,' which had been made for him to dwell in. And there, in that temple, he is the most popular god of all within twenty or thirty miles of Goobbe. He is not only worshipped daily by many who live in the town, but also once a year by eight or ten thousands of people who, at the anniversary, come in from all the adjacent towns and villages.

When Daniel was about fourteen or fifteen years of age, he had to take part in one of these annual festivals. It appears that some rich man, probably a descendant of Burree Gowda, had determined that year to have a specially grand procession. He, therefore, months before the time, began to make preparations. He had a car, or carriage, made, purchased fireworks, lamps, torches, etcetera. The washermen far and near were told to bring cloths of different colours with which to cover and decorate the car, and payment for them was promised. Some people brought garlands of flowers, evergreens and other foliage as presents; so that when the procession started at midnight, with thousands of lamps and hundreds of torches burning, the vast crowds of people gazed with wonder and delight. Daniel had to attend and help to decorate the car with such cloths as his father had been called upon to supply. This being done, he had to carry a torch. The procession had not proceeded very far before some of the cloths on the car took fire, either from the lamps or from the fireworks, and a terrible confusion was immediately produced. The priest of the temple, who was riding upon the car, was very severely burned, while shrieks and cries were heard on every hand from many who had been knocked down and injured. When the priest was helped out of the burning car he ran into some deep water to cool himself. The idol also was taken out of the flames, and finished its journey in a palanquin. Daniel says, |I saw all this: and at the time when the priest came out of the water, he ordered me to walk by his side, and light the way for him with the torch which I had been directed to carry; but as I proceeded, a sharp thorn ran into my foot, and gave me great pain, so that I could not walk, but was obliged to sit down. The priest commanded me to get up, and come along with him. I said, `Be patient, my lord; I am suffering from a thorn in my foot.' However, in a very loud and angry tone he said, `Get up, I command you, and come with me after the god.' Then I felt angry too, and replied, `Why do you bawl out in that way? The god does not want me; but if he does, I cannot come; I am lame; he may help himself.' On hearing these words of contempt for the god, the priest abused me very much, took the torch from me, and ordering another person to carry it, he left me on the ground trying to get the thorn out of my foot. Whilst I was lying there in great pain, I heard a cry of `Thieves! thieves! -- robbers! thieves!' and saw many men running back from the burning car to the town. I learned afterwards that a great many robbers had laid their plans to enter the town quietly as soon as the inhabitants had left their houses and shops to join the Goobbe-Appa procession. The thieves did not accomplish all they planned to do, but they stole very much valuable property.| All that happened at this festival served to convince Daniel that `Goobbe-Appa' was as helpless as any other idol, and that the so-called worship was senseless.

This whole account of `Goobbe-Appa' shows how Hindoo ideas as to. God and His worship differ from the ideas of Christians who have been favoured with the Holy Scriptures. And the account will, it is hoped, excite pity for the Hindoo men, women and children; and induce the juvenile collectors, as well as others, to renewed efforts for sending more Missionaries to India.

At the annual festival, which lasts ten days, the Missionaries are fully engaged distributing tracts, preaching, and conversing with serious inquirers who have come from distant towns and villages. The accompanying sketch, in which a Missionary is preaching, was taken near the entrance to the town of Goobbe, close to the `Mantapa' in front of `Goobbe-Appa's' temple. A mantapa is an open temple, or halting-place for an idol on procession days.

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