Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 185dips the child three times in water, and imposes on it a name.[317:2]
Brahmanism, from the very earliest times, had its initiatory rites, similar to what we shall find among the ancient Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Mr. Mackenzie, in his "Royal Masonic Cyclopædia," (sub voce "Mysteries of Hindustan,") gives a capital digest of these mysteries from the "Indische Alterthum-Skunde" of Lassen. After an invocation to the SUN, an oath was demanded of the aspirant, to the effect of implicit obedience to superiors, purity of body, and inviolable secrecy. Water was then sprinkled over him, suitable addresses were made to him, &c. This was supposed to constitute the regeneration of the candidate, and he was now invested with the white robe and the tiara. A peculiar cross was marked on his forehead, and the Tau cross on his breast. Finally, he was given the sacred word, A. U. M.[317:3]
The Brahmans had also a mode of baptism similar to the Christian sect of Baptists, the ceremony being performed in a river.
The officiating Brahman priest, who was called Gooroo, or Pastor,[318:1] rubbed mud on the candidate, and then plunged him three times into the water. During the process the priest said:
"O Supreme Lord, this man is impure, like the mud of this stream; but as water cleanses him from this dirt, do thou free him from his sin."[318:2]
Rivers, as sources of fertility and purification, were at an early date invested with a sacred character. Every great river was supposed to be permeated with the divine essence, and its waters held to cleanse from all moral guilt and contamination. And as the Ganges was the most majestic, so it soon became the holiest and most revered of all rivers. No sin too heinous to be removed, no character too black to be washed clean by its waters. Hence the countless temples, with flights of steps, lining its banks; hence the array of priests, called "Sons of the Ganges," sitting on the edge of its streams, ready to aid the ablutions of conscience-stricken bathers, and stamp them as white-washed when they emerge from its waters. Hence also the constant traffic carried on in transporting Ganges water in small bottles to all parts of the country.[318:3]
The ceremony of baptism was a practice of the followers of Zoroaster, both for infants and adults.
M. Beausobre tells us that:
"The ancient Persians carried their infants to the temple a few days after they were born, and presented them to the priest before the sun, and before the fire, which was his symbol. Then the priest took the child and baptized it for the purification of the soul. Sometimes he plunged it into a great vase full of water: it was in the same ceremony that the father gave a name to the child."[318:4]
The learned Dr. Hyde also tells us that infants were brought to the temples and baptized by the priests, sometimes by sprinkling and sometimes by immersion, plunging the child into a large vase filled with water. This was to them a regeneration, or a purification of their souls. A name was at the same time imposed upon the child, as indicated by the parents.[318:5]
The rite of baptism was also administered to adults in the Mithraic mysteries during initiation. The foreheads of the initiated being marked at the same time with the "sacred sign," which was none other than the sign of the CROSS.[319:1] The Christian Father Tertullian, who believed it to be the work of the devil, says:
"He BAPTIZES his believers and followers; he promises the remission of sins at the sacred fount, and thus initiates them into the religion of Mithra; he marks on the forehead his own soldiers," &c.[319:2]
"He marks on the forehead," i. e., he marks the sign of the cross on their foreheads, just as priests of Christ Jesus do at the present day to those who are initiated into the Christian mysteries.
Again, he says:
"The nations who are strangers to all spiritual powers (the heathens), ascribe to their idols (gods) the power of impregnating the waters with the same efficacy as in Christian baptism." For, "in certain sacred rites of theirs, the mode of initiation is by baptism," and "whoever had defiled himself with murder, expiation was sought in purifying water."[319:3]
He also says that:
"The devil signed his soldiers in the forehead, in imitation of the Christians."[319:4]