The travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a noble Roman, into East-India and Arabia Deserta in which, the several countries, together with the customs, manners, traffique, and rites both religious and civil, of those Oriental princes and nations, are faithfully described : in familiar letters to his friend Signior Mario Schipano : whereunto is added a relation of Sir Thomas Roe's Voyage into the East-Indies.
Della Valle, Pietro, 1586-1652., Roe, Thomas, Sir, 1581?-1644., Havers, G. (George)

SECTION XIX. Of the Hindoo's, or Heathens, which inhabite that Em∣pire, &c.

AND for these, the first thing I shall take notice of, is, that they agree with others in the world, about the first Roots of Mankind Adam and Eve: and the first of them they call Babba Adam, or Adamah, Father Adam; and the second Mam∣ma Havah, Mother Eve. And from Adam they call a man, Adami.

For Adam they further say, that when his wife was tempted to eat the forbidden fruit, she took it and chaw'd it, and then swallowed it down; but, when her husband was swallowing it, the hand of God stop'd it in his Throat, and from hence (they say) that every man hath there an hollow bunch which women have not.

The names they give to distinguish one man from another are many, and amongst them these following are very common. As Juddo, or Midas, or Cooregee, or Hergee, and the like. Ca∣sturia and Prescotta, are Womens names amongst them; but whether these, as those names they call their men or women by, are names of signification, or only of sound, I know not.

Those Hindoo's are a very laborious, and an industrious people: these are they which Till and Plant the Ground, and breed the Cattle; these are they which make and sell those Page  434 curious Manufactures, or the Cloath and Stuff which this Em∣pire affords.

This people marry into, and consequently still keep in their own Tribes, Sects, Occupations, and Professions. For instance, all Bramins (which are their Priests, the Sons of all which are Priests, likewise) are married to Bramins daughters; so a Mer∣chants son marries a Merchants daughter; and so men of several Trades marry to the same Trade. Thus a Coolee (who is a Tiller of the Ground) marries his son to a Coolees daughter; and so in all other professions they keep themselves to their own Tribes and Trades, not mixing with any other; by which means they never advance themselves higher than they were at first.

They take but one wife, and of her they are not so fearful and jealous as the Mahometans are of their several wives and women, for they suffer their wives to go abroad whither they please. They are married very young, about six, or seven years old, their Parents making Matches for them, who lay hold of every opportunity to bestow their Children. Because confin'd to their own Tribes, they have not such variety of choice as otherwise they might have; and when they attain to the age of thirteen, or fourteen, or fifteen years at the most, they bed together.

Their Marriages are solemnized (as those of the Mahometans) with much company, and noise; but with this difference, that both the young couple ride openly on horse-back, and for the most part, they are so little, that some go on their horse sides to hold them up from falling. They are bedeck'd, or strewed all over their cloathing, with the choice flowers of that Country, fastned in order all about their Garments.

For their Habits they differ very little from the Mahometans, but are very like them civilly clad, but many of their women were Rings on their Toes; and therefore go bare foot. They wear likewise broad Rings of Brass, or better metal, upon their Wrists, and small of their Legs, to take off and on.

They have generally (I mean the Women) the flaps, or tips of their ears, boared when they are young; which holes daily extended and made wider, by things put and kept in them for that purpose, at last become so large, as that they will hold Rings (hollowed on the out-side like Pullies) for their flesh to rest in that are as broad in their circumference, some of them (I dare say) as little Sawcers. But though those fashions of theirs seem very strange at first sight, yet they keep so constantly to them, as to all their other habits, without any alteration, that their general and continual wearing of them makes them to seem less strange unto others which behold them.

And for their Diet very many of them (as the Banians in ge∣neral (which are a very strict Sect) will eat of nothing that hath had, or may have life. And these live upon Herbs, and Roots, and Bread, and Milk, and Butter, and Cheese, and Sweet-meats, Page  435 of which they have many made very good by reason of their great abundance of Sugar. Others amongst them will eat Fish, but of no living thing else. The Rashboots will eat Swines-flesh, which is most hateful to the Mahometans, some will eat of one kind of flesh, some of another (of all very sparing); but all the Hindoo's in general abstain from Beef, out of an high and over-excellent esteem they have of Kine; and therefore give the Mogol yearly, besides his other exactions, great sums of money as a ransom for those Creatures; whence it comes to pass, that amongst other good provisions, we meet there but with little Beef.

As the Mahometans bury: so the Hindoos in general (not believing the Resurrection of the Flesh) burn the bodies of their dead near some Rivers (if they may with convenience) wherein they sow their ashes.

And there are another Sect, or sort of Heathens, living amongst them, called Persees, which do neither of these; of whom, and how they bestow the bodies of their dead, you shall hear afterward.

The Widows of these Hindoos (first mentioned) such as have lived to keep company with their Husbands, for (as before) there is usually a good space of time 'twixt their wedding and bedding. The Widows (I say) who have their Husbands sepa∣rated from them by death, when they are very young, marry not again; but whether, or no, this be generally observed by them all, I know not; but this I am sure of, that immediately after their Husbands are dead, they cut their hair, and spend all their life following as creatures neglected both by themselves, and others; whence to be free from shame, some of them are ambitious to dye with honour (as they esteem it) when their fiery love carries them to the flames (as they think) of Martyr∣dom, most willingly following the dead bodies of their Hus∣bands unto the fire, and there embracing them, are burnt with them.

A better agreement in death than that of Eteocles and Poly∣nices, the two Theban brothers, of whom it is said, that they were such deadly enemies while they were alive, that after, when both their bodies were burnt together in the same fiery Pile, the flame parted and would not mix in one, of which Statius thus:

Nec furiis post fata modus; flammaeque rebelles
Seditione Rogi. —
But those, which before I named, agree so well in life, that they will not be divided by death, where their flames unite together. And although the woman, who thus burns with her Husband, doth this voluntarily, not by any compulsion (for the love of every Widow there is not thus fired) and though the poor crea∣ture, Page  436 who thus dies may return and live if she please, even then when she comes to the Pile, which immediately after turns her into ashes: yet she who is once thus resolved, never starts back from her first firm and setled resolution, but goes on singing to her death, having taken some intoxicating thing to turn or di∣sturb her brains; and then, come to the place where she will needs dye, she settles her self presently in the middest of that combustible substance provided to dispatch her, which fuel is placed in a round shallow trench, about two foot deep, made for that purpose near some River, or other water (as before), and though she have no bonds but her own strong affections to tye her unto those flames, yet she never offers to stir out of them. And thus, she being joyfully accompanied unto the place of her dying by her Parents and other friends; and when all is fit∣ted for this hellish sacrifice, and the fire begins to burn, all which are there present shout, and make a continued noise so long as they observe her to stir, that the screeches of that poor tortured creature may not be heard. Not much unlike the cu∣stom of the Ammonites, who, when they made their children pass through the fire to Molech, caused certain Tabrets, or Drums to sound, that their cries might not be heard, whence the place was called Tophet.

Now after their bodies are quite consumed, and lie mixed together in ashes, and those ashes begin to grow cold, some of them are gathered up by their nearest friends, and kept by them as choice Relicks; the rest are immediately sowen by the stan∣ders by, upon the adjacent River, or water.

But for those poor silly souls, who sing themselves into the extremity of misery, and thus madly go out of the world, through one fire into another, through flames that will not last long into everlasting burnings, and do it not out of necessity, but choice, led hereunto by their tempter and murderer, and con∣sequently become so injurious and merciless to themselves; certainly they deserve much pity from others, who know not how to pity themselves. For nemo miserior misero non miserante seipsum. There are none so cruel as those, which are cruel, and pitiless to themselves. But though (I say) there are some which thus throw away their own lives; yet if we consider those Hin∣doos in general we may further take notice