absolved of his sin by reciting the Purusha Sukta for a month: while by thrice repeating the Agha-marshana Mantra a sinner becomes free from all demerits. By repeating the Veda mantras or the mantras sacred to the gods of wind and death, as well as by means of a Gayatri Vrata, a similar result is obtained.'

Various penances and austerities are also prescribed in order to obtain forgiveness of sin. Thus it is 1 said: 'A man having killed a Brahman should live for twelve years in a hut in a forest. For his purification he should beg alms by carrying a human skull on the top of a rod as a warning to others . . . or he should consume himself in the fire by hanging down from the branch of a tree, head downwards.' 'Penance 2 to atone for the sins of murdering a Kshatriya' (man of the warrior caste), 'a Vaisya' (man of the trader caste), 'or a Sudra' (man of the fourth caste), 'should be respectively practised for a quarter, an eighth, and a sixteenth part of the period laid down in the case of the murder of a Brahman. A man who has killed a cat, a mongoose, a frog, a dog, an iguana, 3 an owl, or a crow, should practise the penances which he ought to have performed if he had killed a Sudra. Similarly the same penance should be performed to atone for the sin of accidentally killing a woman of whatever caste.' This

1 Agni-Purana, chapter clxix, verses 1-3; cf. chapter clxxiii.
2 Op. cit., chapter clxix, verses 25-7.
3 The word godha may also mean an alligator.

implies that a Sudra's life is of no more value than that of a dog, which proves the injustice and immorality of the Hindu religious code. Again we are told 1 that: 'A man who makes obeisance to the image of the god Brahma carries a hundred generations of his offspring up to the celestial regions.'

While Hinduism thus encourages idolatry it also sanctions other sins, some of which (like the dedication of young girls to a life of prostitution in the temples of some of their gods) are so notorious that it is unnecessary to dwell upon them at any length. In some of their books the evil practice of polygamy is sanctioned. Thus the Agni-Purana 2 says that a Brahman may have four wives, a Kshatriya three, a Vaisya two and a Sudra one. The Vasishtha-Dharmasastra 3 differs from this, permitting three wives to a Brahman, two to a Kshatriya, and only one to a Vaisya or a Sudra.

Other means by which Hindus hope to obtain forgiveness of their sins are making pilgrimages to sacred places, particularly to the fords or bathing-places of sacred rivers, and bathing in their waters. The sacred rivers of India are many, but the chief of them all is the Ganges. The Hindus honour and worship it as one of their deities and offer to it sacrifices of flowers and fruit. They fancy that all

1 Agni-Purana, chapter cxv, verse 40.
2 Chapter cliii, verse 1. 3 Chapter i, verse 24.