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The Minor Law Books (SBE33), by Julius Jolly, [1889], at

26. The Ordeal of the Hot Piece of Gold.

343. 343 Now I shall give a description of the ordeal of the hot piece of gold, which has been ordained by Brahman himself for the purpose of distinguishing virtue from vice.

* 344. (The judge), after having cleansed himself, shall quickly pour clarified butter into a golden, silver, iron, or earthen vessel, and shall place the vessel on the fire.

* 345. He shall throw into it a shining coin, made k of gold, silver, copper, or iron, after having washed it in water more than once.

* 346. 346 Should (the coin) ever drop into the boiling (mixture), it would be a very dangerous thing to touch him (the fire?). Therefore he must address the clarified butter with the following prayer:

* 347. ‘Thou art the best instrument of purification, O clarified butter, and (comparable to) Ambrosia

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at a sacrifice. Burn this man at once if he is criminal, and be as cold as ice to him if he is innocent.’

* 348. 348 If, on touching and examining the forefinger (of the defendant) it is found to be unhurt and to show no boils, he is innocent. Otherwise, he is not (innocent).


119:343 343-348. The ordeal of the hot piece of gold (Taptamâsha) derives its name from the gold coin (mâsha) or signet-ring (mudrikâ), which those who are tried by this ordeal are required to pick out of a vessel filled with a boiling liquid, with the thumb and forefinger. They are declared innocent, if the hand remains unhurt.

119:346 The reading of the first half of this paragraph is quite uncertain, and the above rendering conjectural.

120:348 Some writers refer to two further ordeals, besides the seven kinds mentioned by Nârada. One of them is the ordeal of the red-hot ploughshare, which the defendant is made to lick. The other consists of drawing lots.

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