In the earliest times of which any record remains the greater part of the west coast of India was occupied by Dravidian tribes, living under their kings in fortified villages, carrying on the simpler arts of life, and holding a faith in which the propitiation of spirits and demons played the chief part.
Often they were founded as acts of propitiation of the Almighty or of the saints, and the greater their size and splendour the more effective they were held to be for their purpose.
This view, however, leads to a dilemma; if the law of righteousness is simply an expression of the divine will, satisfaction to law is equivalent to propitiation offered to God; if the law has an independent position, the view is inconsistent with pure monotheism.
Belief in a Supreme Being is vague but universal, but as this Being is good, or at least neutral, he is disregarded, and the native applies himself to the propitiation and coercion, by magical means, of the countless malignant spirits with which he imagines himself to be surrounded, and which are constantly on the watch to catch him tripping.
OSCILLA, a word applied in Latin usage to small figures, most commonly masks or faces, which were hung up as offerings to various deities, either for propitiation or expiation, and in connexion with festivals and other ceremonies.