rites and ceremonies performed on its banks are specially full of merit, and that if a man bathes in it he removes from himself the sins of a thousand lives. They declare that, if any one mentions or even remembers the Ganges, or if he sees it or touches its water, all his offences are at once forgiven. Therefore they carry their sick people to the bank of this river that they may drink of it. At the moment of death they place them in the river and leave them there, believing that they will then go straight to paradise. At fixed times, on their great festivals, thousands and tens of thousands of people come from far and near to make a pilgrimage to the Ganges. They bathe in it, repeating the words which say that sins are forgiven to those who bathe in that sacred stream. Special merit is gained by bathing at Benares or Ilah-abad (Allahabad) (which the Hindus call Prayag), which cities stand on the banks of the Ganges. They make the pilgrimage to Banaras with the hope of dying there and so gaining salvation. To die at Ilah-abad also ensures an immediate entrance into heaven, as they fancy. They hold that any sin committed outside of Benares is forgiven as soon as the offender enters the sacred city, and that, if any one sins within the city, his sin is blotted out if he makes a pilgrimage to its suburbs. As a natural result these sacred cities are very wicked places, and such teaching as that we have mentioned encourages sin and makes men think but little of


the heinousness of an evil deed, which can be got rid of by a pilgrimage or by the use of a little water. At Puri at the southern end of the delta of the Mahanadi, another sacred stream, stands the temple of Jagan-Nath or Vishnu, famed throughout India. It is a great place of pilgrimage. A special festival in honour of that deity is celebrated there once every year. On the festival day the enormous idol is placed upon a huge cart, forty-five feet high, and hundreds of men drag it in procession through the streets and suburbs of the city, when it is worshipped by vast multitudes who have come from long distances to gain merit. At one time some of these pilgrims used to throw themselves down in front of the idols car and let themselves be crushed to death under its wheels; but this is now prevented by the Government. Some hold that these deaths were due to accident, others deny this. As many as 200,000 people have been known to come to Puri on such occasions. The town of Haridvar on the Ganges has a festival attended by about 100,000 people every year, but every twelfth year a specially great festival takes place. Usually some 300,000 pilgrims then come to wash away their sins in the Ganges; on some occasions their number has been computed at 2,000,000. All these come to worship a dumb idol, and not one among them knows the True God.

Until it was stopped—or at least made penal by the English Government—it was customary for