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Title: Life and Travel in India
Author: Leonowens, Anna Harriette
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Copyright, 1884,


Is Inscribed to







The Island of Bambâ Dèvi.--Sights and Scenes round about Bombay      7


Malabar Hill, and Domestic Life of the English in Bombay            39


The Island of Shastee, commonly called Salsette.--Gharipoore,
"the Town of Purification," or the Island and Caves of Elephanta    51


Sampwallas, or Serpent-Charmers.--Jâdoowallahs, or
Miracle-Performers.--Nuzer-Bundyânâ, Mesmerizers.--Yogees,
Spiritual Jugglers, and Naga-Poojmi, or Serpent-Worship, in India   65


The Parsees, or Fire-Worshippers, of Bombay.--A Visit to a
Fire-Priest and Astrologer.--His Astral Predictions.--The Gâthas.
--Zoroaster.--His Life and Religion.--History of the Settlement
of the Parsees in India                                             79


Domestic Life of the Fire-Worshippers.--The Zend-Avesta.--Parsee
Rites and Ceremonies at Birth, Marriage, Death, and Final
Consignment to the Tower of Silence                                105


Hindoo Treatment of the Sick.--Pundit's House Defiled.--Its
Purification.--Short Sketch of the Different Races and of
the Origin of Castes and Creeds among the People of Hindostan      129


A Visit to the House of Baboo Ram Chunder.--His Wife.--Rajpoot
Wrestlers.--Nautchnees, or Hindoo Ballet-Girls.--A
Hindoo Drama.--Visit to a Nautchnees' School.--Bayahdiers,
or Dancing-Girls, attached to the Hindoo Temples.--Profession,
Education, Dress, Character, Fate in Old Age and After
Death.--Cusbans, or Common Women.--Marked Differences
between these three Classes of Public Women                        173


From Bombay to Poonah, the Capital of the Maha Rastra, or the
great Indian Kings.--Campooly.--The Ascent of the Bhor
Ghauts.--Khondala.--Caves of Carlee or Karli.--"Puja Chakra,"
or the famous Wheel-Worship of the Brahmans.--Poonah.--Kirki.--A
Visit to the Peishwa's Palace.--Temple of Parvati.--The Pundit
and the Brahmin Priest at Prayer.--Sanscrit and English Colleges
at Poonah.--Suttee Monuments at Sangam.--Hindoo Bankers, etc.      208


The beautiful Hindoo Village of Wye.--The Mahabaleshwar
Hills.--The Temple of the Gods.--The Couch of Krishna.--The
Stone Image of the Cow from whose Mouth the Five Rivers
of this Region are said to Spring.--The Holy Tank.--Satarah,
the Star City of the Mahratta Empire.--The Fort.--The Palace
of Sivaji.--Jejureh, the famous Hill-Temples where the
Dancing-Girls of the Country are Recruited.--The Mad Gossain,
and the Story of his Ill-Fated Love.--The Dancing-Girl
Krayâhnee                                                          228


From Satarah, the Star City of the great Mahratta Kings, to
Dowlutabâd, the Abode of Fortune, and Aurungabâd, the Golden
City of the Mohgul Emperors.--Tombs of Boorhan Ood Deen
and Aurungzebe.--Mausoleum of Rhabea Duranee.--Sketch
of the Mohgul Invasion of India.--Manners, Customs, and
Religious Ceremonies of the Mohammedans of Hindostan               243


The Temples of Ellora, the Holy Place of the Deccan.--Nashik,
the Land of the Râmâyanâ.--Sights and Scenes on the Banks of the
Godaveri.--Damaun, the most famous of the Indo-Portuguese Towns    270


The Taptee River.--Surat and its Environs.--The Borahs and
Kholees of Guzerat.--Baroda, the Capital of the
Guicowars.--Fakeers, or Relic-Carriers, of Baroda.--Cambay.
--Mount Aboo.--Jain Temples on Mount Aboo, etc.                    286


Calcutta, the City of the Black Venus, Kali.--The River
Hoogley.--Cremation Towers.--Chowringee, the Fashionable Suburb
of Calcutta.--The Black Hole.--Battles of Plassey and
Assaye.--The Brahmo-Somaj.--Temple of Kali.--Feast of
Juggurnath.--Benares and the Taj Mahal                             303


THE TAJ MAHAL FROM THE RIVER,                  Frontispiece

BANYAN TREE,                                             36

CAVES OF ELEPHANTA,                                      53

NATIVE SNAKE CHARMERS,                                   66

A PARSEE LADY,                                          106

BOMBAY. UNIVERSITY AND ESPLANADE,                       128


BULLOCK CART,                                           208


ROCK CUT TEMPLES OF ELLORA,                             270


OF BENARES,                                             322


In the following pages, gathered from voluminous notes of early travel,
I have tried to give a faithful account of life in India, as well as of
the sights and scenes visited by me, with my husband, before the days of
railroad travel.

It is well known that the introduction of the railroad into India has in
no sense affected the life of the people, and has only very slightly
modified the general appearance of the country. India is still what it
was in the Vèdic period, a land of peasant classes; she still invokes,
as did the ancient Aryans in the Rig Vèda, the "Khe-tra-pati," or the
divinity of the soil, for blessings on the land. The Hindoo to-day
lives, as did his forefathers, close to the heart of Nature, deifying
the mountains, streams, woods, and lakes, while the sun, moon, stars,
fire, water, earth, air, sky, and corn are his highest deities. The most
beautiful personification in the Ramâyânâ of womanly grace and virtue is
called _Sita_, "a furrow," showing how deep was the national reverence
paid to the plough; and to this day at the _Rathsaptimi_, the day on
which the new sun is supposed to mount his heavenly chariot, a feast is
observed in honor of the sun, and the ryots on this occasion decorate
with flowers and paint their ploughs, and worship them as the saviors of
the land.

I do not, however, mean to say that India has made no progress whatever
in all these years--her imaginative and glorious youth has no doubt been
succeeded by the calm reason of mature age--but this transition has been
gradual and progressive rather than fitful and sudden.

The transfer of India by the East India Company to the British Crown,
and the recent laws for the protection of the ryot--or more properly the
_raiyat_, a leaser of land held in perpetuity--against the oppressions
of the zemindars, or governmental landlords, with the right of
underletting the land, have to an extraordinary degree awakened the
inborn desire of the Hindoo to become possessor of the soil and to
return to his hereditary occupation of agriculture. To these may be
added the security which England has conferred upon India, now that she
is no longer disturbed by frequent wars, which desolated the land, and
every now and then forced the people to abandon their villages and fly
to the jungles and mountains for safety, under the Afghans, Mohguls,
Mahrattas, and other predatory chiefs. Among the lasting benefits to
India it may be mentioned that sutteeism, infanticide, self-immolation
to the idols, Thuggism, and slavery have all been partially, if not
quite, abolished by the strong arm of the law. Railroads have been
built, the country has been opened, schools established, civil service
appointments thrown open to the natives and Europeans alike, good roads
made, canals and huge reservoirs for water excavated, ancient
water-courses reopened, giving an impetus to private enterprise and
industry in every direction. All these happy changes have been the
result of the more liberal policy of England toward India since the days
of the terrible mutiny of 1857; and it may fairly be hoped that British
India has before her as glorious a future as her brilliant youth and
maturity have foreshadowed for her.

A. H. L.

SUNNYSIDE, Halifax, Nova Scotia, }
   August 7, 1884.               }



     The Island of Bambâ Dèvi.--Sights and Scenes round about Bombay.

In that most delightful of all Indian months, the cool month of
November, with the distant booming of a great gun that announced its
arrival, the steamer from Aden came to anchor in the harbor of Bombay,
bringing me among its many passengers. Here I was in this strange land,
a young girl fresh from school, now entering upon a life so different,
one which I was to lead through a long term of years.

The sun shone through the mists and haze of the early dawn, and I could
see from my cabin window, with a sense of mingled wonder and curiosity,
the great stone quays and the long flights of stone steps which led to
the beautiful island of Bombay, lying there like a gem in the water, and
of which I knew nothing whatever, save that it was once the
marriage-dowry of a queen of England.

According to some authorities, it takes its name from two Portuguese
words, "Buon Bahia," Good Bay; but in reality it has a still more
ancient origin, being called after a very beautiful Hindoo queen,
afterward deified as Bambâ Dèvi, who long before the days of Alexander
the Great was the presiding genius of the land. She was worshipped as
"Mahimâ Dèvi," or the Great Mother, in one of the oldest and largest
Hindoo temples which formerly stood in the great plain now called the
Esplanade. It was pulled down about a hundred years ago, and rebuilt
near the Bhendee Bazaar, and is to this day called by her name and set
apart to her peculiar service.

The longer I looked on that bay, and on those ancient islands with their
towers and spires, both pagan and Christian, gleaming in the pure
morning sunlight, the more I felt that it was one of the loveliest
scenes in the world and one of the best worth admiring.

The harbor is not only one of the safest known to navigators from all
parts of the world, affording in its hollow rock-bound cup entire
shelter from sudden storms to vessels of all burthens, large and small
crafts of every imaginable size and color, but it is in itself a bit of
landlocked water unrivalled in picturesqueness, furnishing a variety of
beautiful views at every point, and, one might almost say, at every
passing moment.

Its peculiar interest, however, depends much on the season of the year,
the brightness of the lights, the softness of the shadows, and the
picturesque character of the numberless native boats, which, with their
well-filled lateen sails, skim like white sea-birds on the surface of
the waters.

The islands of Salsette, Elephanta, and Versovah, abounding in luxuriant
vegetation, rise like huge green temples out of the bay. A great part of
its beauty, however, is derived from the singularly shaped hills that
are found in its vicinity. Old as the world, they appear to have gone
through the hands of some gigantic architect--some so exquisitely
rounded, some regularly terraced, and others, again, sharply pointed,
not unlike spires. Lifting themselves proudly above the broad glittering
sea that bathes their palm-fringed base, they help to make the scenery
distinct from that of any other bay in the world. Then, beyond question,
there is nothing to equal in grace and beauty the palm forest. The
cocoanut, the sago, the betel, the date, the wild plantain, and the
palmyra, all cluster in such profusion here and there along the seashore
that the whole seems too beautiful to be real, and you half expect to
see the island melt away like a dream before you.

While I look on from the cabin window things take clearer shape and
form. Far away is the dim outline of the mighty Ghauts, towering amid
soft fleecy-white clouds, and extending farther than the eye can reach
in the purple distance. The striking views of the adjoining mainland,
with ruins innumerable of chapels, convents, and monasteries erected by
the Portuguese conquerors, all covered with a rich tangle of tropical
foliage; the strange shapes of pagan temples, each in its own peculiar
style of architecture, Hindoo, Parsee, Jain, and Mohammedan; the noble
remains of the old Mahratta[1] forts and castles, which in former days
were the habitations of the famous Rajpoots, with a long line of native
and European palaces,--gradually unfold themselves under the golden haze
of an Indian atmosphere.

One sees in no other part of the world just such an assemblage as the
passengers on an Indian-bound steamer. In the vessel that took me to
Bombay the most touching object to my mind was a young married woman,
who was looking anxiously out for her husband, a missionary in whose
labors she was now about to share for the first time. He was weak,
haggard, and spiritless, worn out, no doubt, by his combined efforts to
acquire a foreign language, convince an obstinate people, and bear the
enervating influence of a hot, muggy climate; all of which was enough to
break down the stoutest of frames and the most hopeful of spirits that
England has ever produced. A number of officers, civil and military,
some in light-brown coats of China silk and wide-brimmed straw hats,
others in frogged blue frocks and military caps, were seen pressing
through the crowd. A young cadet just out rushed into the open arms of a
handsome officer, like himself, but older by twenty or thirty years. The
deck was being fast cleared of its eager crowd. Everywhere the
passengers were separating amid almost sad adieux, enlivened only by the
oft-repeated promises to write to each other regularly--promises which
are never fulfilled. On the great continent of Asia all nations meet and
hail each other as friends, only to part, perhaps never to meet again,
as vessels do at sea. But we were all sincere enough at the moment,
which is all that can be expected from travellers scattering over the
vast unknown land of India. I remember I was very greatly troubled
because I was about to part from a gentle, blue-eyed young friend, a
frank, bright, innocent young Scotch girl, who had become very dear to
me during the most tedious and sultry part of our voyage from Aden to

We were thrown a good deal together, and were almost of the same age.
One day, while passing through the Red Sea, we exchanged vows of eternal
friendship. There was on board a sprightly young officer, Ensign W----,
to whom she was already secretly betrothed. Why secretly she would not
confide to me, or perhaps explain even to herself, for every one on the
vessel knew it, and of her naturally tender and loving disposition, as
well as of her peculiarly lonely position on board, being sent out
under the charge of the captain. I only know that I shared her
happiness and her anxiety, for she would have to break the news almost
immediately to her father, whom she was expecting momentarily on board.
She informed me that her father was a widower--that she had come out to
India expressly to keep house for him in some remote inland province
somewhere in Guzerat.

At last her father appeared on board, a fat, sun-burnt, frowzy-looking
man, and inquired from the captain as to which was his daughter, in
order to assert his ownership over her. Instead of rushing to greet a
father, she shrank back and nervously clutched my arm; and it was not
strange. She had not seen him for many years; in the mean time her
mother had died, her little brothers and sisters had all died in their
infancy; she alone had survived, and had been sent home to Scotland,
where she had been educated by an aunt. Here, then, she was alone in the
presence of an almost entire stranger, although he was her father; and
this is not an isolated case, but the fate of the thousands of European
children who are born in India.

No blood-relationship avails anything in such cases. The mysterious
sanctities of a young girl's nature, be they more or less profound,
interpose themselves as barriers between father and daughter at the best
of times and under the happiest of circumstances. Those dim nooks and
corners of her budding sentiment can only be reached by a mother, so
justly called the mediator in the most ancient language of the heart.

Years after I learned that my young Scotch friend had married Ensign
W----, the young officer to whom she had engaged herself on her voyage
out to India. But in one short year after her sweet blue eyes were
closed for ever on this world. She died in giving birth to a daughter,
who sleeps side by side with her young mother in the quiet little
European burial-ground at Deesa, a British station on the confines of
the great province of Guzerat.

Very little was known about India until Alexander the Great led his
conquering army across the Punjaub (or, more properly, "Panch jeeb," or
five tongues, from the five rivers that water this portion of Northern
India) to the banks of the Hydaspes and the Hyphasis. The armies of
Alexander had hitherto visited no country which was so fertile,
populous, and abounding in the most valuable productions of nature and
art as that portion of India through which they marched. Fortunately for
the Greeks, Alexander had with him a few men who were admirably
qualified to observe and describe the country. At the mouth of the Indus
the army and fleet of Alexander parted company. The troops proceeded by
land. Nearchus took charge of the ships, sailed down the Indus, and from
its mouth, round the southern coast of Asia, to the mouth of the
Euphrates. The results of his observations during the voyage were taken
down and preserved. This expedition, undertaken 325 B .C., furnished a
vast amount of information in regard to India, its extent and wonderful
resources. Rome and most of her prosperous and civilized provinces were
also very familiar with the silks, brocades, fine muslins, gems of great
value, spices, and many other manufactures and products of the remote
East. The Latin name of rice, _Oryza sativa_, is derived from the
country, Orissa, whence the Romans first obtained it. During the
so-called Dark Ages which followed the subversion of their Western
Empire the trade with India was greatly diminished, though it never
entirely ceased in parts of Europe, especially as some of the
productions of the East had been consecrated to the services of the
Roman Catholic ritual, and have ever since continued in request with the
Christian churches of Greece and Rome. Even in the remote island of
Great Britain, and in the semi-barbaric Saxon period, some of the
precious spices and scented woods of India had been carefully treasured
by the Venerable Bede and his co-laborers in their bleak northern
monastery at Jarrow. In fact, at the very dawn of European civilization,
under the good and wise Alfred the Great, English missionaries are said
to have found their way to the coast of Malabar.

The great seat of Eastern trade was, down to the eleventh century, the
city of Constantine the Great. Amalfi, Venice, and many other
enterprising Italian republics acquired about this time great commercial
importance, owing to their Eastern trade, which they extended to Egypt
and the Persian Gulf.

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries some of the more adventurous
Italians found their way to various parts of Hindostan. One of these,
the famous Marco Paulo, has given to the world much curious information
about the regions which lie between the Himalaya Mountains, the Indian
Ocean, and the numerous islands bordering on the Celestial Empire and on
India proper.

The first European traveller who has given us an account of the country
near the island of Bombay was an Italian friar named Odoricus, who
passed nearly a month at Tana--or more properly Thanah--where four of
his family fell victims to the intolerant spirit of the natives, and
suffered martyrdom. His narrative was published in Latin in 1330 A. D.
by William de Solanga. The first Englishman who visited the western
coast of India was Thomas Stephens, of New College, Oxford. He reached
Goa in October, 1579, and in the year 1608 Pryard de Laval mentions him
at the time as rector of a college at Salsette.

It was during the early career of the famous Zehir-ed Deen Mohammed, a
descendant of the renowned Genghis-khân, and the founder of the
so-called Mohgul dynasty, better known by his common name of Bâber, or
"the Tiger," that the Portuguese, whose maritime discoveries were
beginning to produce an important revolution in the commercial world,
succeeded in accomplishing their long-desired object of finding a
passage by the Cape of Good Hope to India. In the year 1498, just ten
months and two days after leaving the port of Lisbon, Vasco da Gama
landed on the coast of Malabar at Calicut, or more properly Kale Khoda,
"City of the Black Goddess." Calicut was at that period not only a very
ancient seaport, but an extensive territory, which, stretching along the
western coast of Southern India, reached from Bombay and the adjacent
islands to Cape Comorin. It was, at an early period, so famous for its
weaving and dyeing of cotton cloth that its name became identified with
the manufactured fabric, whence the name _calico_. The dyeing of cotton
cloths seems to have been in practice in India in very remote ages.
Pliny as early as the first century mentions in his _Natural History_
that there existed in Egypt a wonderful method of dyeing white cloth. It
is now generally admitted that this ingenious art originated in India,
and from that country found its way into Egypt. It was not till toward
the middle of the seventeenth century that calico-printing was
introduced into Europe. A knowledge of the art was acquired by some of
the servants in the service of the Dutch East India Company, and carried
to Holland, whence it was introduced in London in the year 1676.

The town of Calicut, though repeatedly burnt and destroyed by Portuguese
and Mohammedan conquerors, still stands, as it has done for many
hundreds of years, on the seashore, in a somewhat low and exposed
position, possessing neither a river nor any harbor within several
miles of it, so that ships are compelled to cast anchor five or six
miles from the landing-place, almost in mid-ocean. Its want of a
convenient harbor does not seem to have detracted from its commercial
importance. At the very beginning of the Eastern trade, when
Constantinople was attracting to itself all the commerce of the East,
Calicut was visited by vessels from Asia Minor, Egypt, and Arabia. It
was so well known to the Arabians that in the seventeenth century a
fanatical sect of Mohammedans named Moplahs immigrated to Calicut, and
entered with great success into the commercial life of the city, and
occupy in it, even to this day, a most important place, carrying on a
very profitable trade between Calicut, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf,
and various parts of India, its chief exports being rice, cocoanut,
ginger, cardamoms, and sandal- and teak-wood. At the time of the landing
of the Portuguese, Calicut is described as a fine city, with numerous
magnificent buildings, among which a Brahmanical temple and college are
especially mentioned, so remarkable were they for their size and
architectural adornments.

It would be out of place to enter into particulars of the long struggle
that ensued, or the disgraceful acts of treachery and cruelty that
attended the conquests of the Portuguese. It will suffice to say that in
a very few years they were firmly established in the south of India.
Having possessed themselves of the large maritime city of Goa, they
formed a regular government, headed by a viceroy appointed by the king
of Portugal. They soon turned the trade of Hindostan and the Deccan into
new and more profitable channels, thus depriving the Venetians, Genoese,
and many other nations of all the advantages derived from their
long-established European commerce between the Persian Gulf, the Red
Sea, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea. From that time the Italians
began to decline in wealth, influence, and prosperity until the close of
the sixteenth and in the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the
English, Dutch, and French, sailing round by the Cape of Good Hope,
began to appear upon the scene. No sooner was this accomplished than the
Portuguese, who had monopolized the commerce with Europe during the
sixteenth century, lost (almost as rapidly as they had acquired it)
their immense influence in the East.

In 1585, Thomas Cavendish, one of the boldest and most adventurous
navigators in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, had accomplished
successfully a two years' voyage round the world. Among other places, he
had visited and explored the spice islands called the Moluccas, but his
discoveries resulted in no permanent benefit to the British traders. In
the year following an English expedition consisting of three vessels,
under the command of Captain Raymond, was sent out to India, but its
object was rather more warlike than commercial, as it was intended to
cruise against the Portuguese. Sickness, shipwreck, and other disasters
overtook the vessels; Captain Raymond, one of the most spirited men of
his time, was lost without even having seen the Eldorado of his dreams,
and Captain Lancaster, his second in command, returned home a sad and
almost ruined man. Francis Drake, afterward knighted by Queen Elizabeth
for his many remarkable exploits at sea, succeeded in capturing five
Portuguese vessels laden with the rich products of India. These, with
the successes of the Levant Company and the accumulating information
obtained from private sources, contributed to keep alive the excitement
and to increase to an inordinate degree the desire of English traders
and merchants for a more immediate participation in the Eastern
commerce. Nevertheless, the ambition and jealousy of the British
merchants were not fully aroused until they heard that the Dutch in
1595 had fitted out and despatched four ships to trade with India.

Then the British merchants immediately set to work. A fund was raised by
subscriptions of a number of individuals amounting to £30,133 6s. 8d., a
company was formed, and a committee of fifteen able men was elected to
manage it, which was the origin of the "East India Company." On the 31st
of December, 1600, just two hundred and eighty-four years ago, a royal
charter of privileges was granted, conditionally for fifteen years, to
the company. By means of this charter, and furnished with letters from
Queen Elizabeth to various Eastern rajahs, who were probably unconscious
of her existence, a squadron of five ships sailed on the 2d of May,
1601, from Torbay. It was placed under the command of Captain Lancaster,
the companion of the unfortunate Raymond. Fortune now appeared to favor
the brave Lancaster. The very first place which he and his crews visited
was Acheen in the island of Sumatra. Owing to the fact that Northern
Sumatra had already been repeatedly visited by European travellers,
among whom were Marco Paulo, Friar Odoricus, and Nicolo Conti, Captain
Lancaster was remarkably well received by Alaudin Shah, the then
reigning sovereign; and, to add to his good fortune, while cruising in
the Straits of Malacca he succeeded in capturing a large and
heavily-laden Portuguese vessel having on board a cargo of fine
calicoes, spices, and some of the fine gold for which Acheen was then
celebrated. Thus unexpectedly enriched, he sailed away, and, entering
the Straits of Angeer, landed at Bantam in the island of Java, where he
established an agency--the first germ of the great East India Company's
factories--and returned in safety to England in the autumn of the year
1603. For many years following the trading vessels of the East India
Company made successful voyages to many of the best-known islands in the
Indian Ocean, realizing immense profits, and returning home to enrich
the company to such an extent as to excite the jealousy of the British
government, which vainly attempted to limit the privileges of the royal
charter granted to it by Queen Elizabeth. Not many years after the
success of the company was assured by a firman of the great Mohgul
emperor, confirming to them certain privileges, and, above all,
authorizing their establishment of factories at some of the most
important ports of Hindostan.

The Dutch, who had dispossessed the Portuguese of their factory in
Amboyna, one of the largest of the spice islands in the Molucca group,
now began to regard the English traders with much jealousy. These, only
eighteen in number, had established themselves in a defenceless house in
town, trusting to the agreements and treaties they had made with the
Dutch traders. The Dutch invited them in a friendly manner to pay a
visit to their castle, fortified and garrisoned by two hundred men. The
unsuspecting English had no sooner entered the castle than they were
seized, put to the rack and torture, and ten of the number, holding out
firmly to the last, were put to death.

During the memorable conflict between Charles I. and the Parliament
nearly all foreign enterprise flagged. Distracted by the great civil war
that followed, the East India Company sank into comparative inaction.
But no sooner was the great Oliver Cromwell at the head of affairs than
he reconfirmed the privileges of the company, and gave every
encouragement to its trade; he also compelled the Dutch government to
pay the sum of £300,000, together with a grant of one of the smaller
spice islands, as some compensation to the descendants of those who
suffered in the "Amboyna massacre."

A new charter was granted to the company by Charles II. in 1661, in
which, in addition to the old privileges, new and important ones were
given to them. They were vested with the right of full civil
jurisdiction and military authority over all Europeans in their
employment, as well as with the power of making war and concluding peace
with the "infidels of India." In 1662, Charles II. married Catharine,
princess of Portugal, who brought him a million pounds sterling and
gifts of the island of Bombay and the fortress of Tangiers. In 1668, at
the request of the company, Charles sold to them for a trifling sum of
money the island of Bombay, granting to them shortly after the island of
St. Helena, an equally convenient station for their merchantmen; and at
length, induced by the defensible character of the island and its
convenient and most commodious harbor, the company transferred from
Surat to Bombay the seat of their government. Thus the island of Bombay
became the presidency over all their settlements, and from that moment
numerous Oriental nations were attracted to the island, commerce rapidly
increased, the native town began to spread, and the foundation of a
great empire in India was securely laid.

In no other part of the world are found so many races and peoples living
side by side as in the island of Bombay. In the spacious streets and
bazaars one meets Buddhists, Jains, Brahmans, Hindoos, Chinese,
Musulmans (both Persians and Arabs), Seedees or Africans,
Indo-Portuguese, Indo-Britons, Jews, Armenians, Afghans, Caucasians,
Parsees, Americans, and Europeans of all nationalities. The most
important of all these are undoubtedly the Parsees. They are as a class
the richest, most industrious, and most honorable of all the native
populations. They are the most extensive merchants and land-owners in
the island; they share largely in foreign speculation both in the
European and mercantile houses. They hold to two principles as
indispensable to their permanent success and efficiency in trade: First,
that every Parsee in any part of the Indian empire shall be subject to
the established government, whatever it may be. By this means they
diffuse a spirit of obedience and promptitude among their
co-religionists, whether in India, Persia, China, or Egypt, and are at
once able to secure the co-operation of one and every member of the
faith in any emergency that may demand the combined efforts of the
entire sect. Secondly, that every Parsee, no matter what the accident of
his birth, is the equal of his more prosperous fellow-laborers.

The island of Bombay is separated from the mainland by an arm of the
sea, and forms, in conjunction with the adjacent islands of Salsette on
the north, Colabah and Old Woman's Island on the south, a magnificent
and well-sheltered harbor. Handsome causeways raised above the sea at
high water span the narrow channels on the south, and connect Bombay
with two of the most picturesque islands I have ever seen. To the north,
Bombay is again connected with Salsette by a causeway with a fine arched
stone bridge, and yet another causeway has been thrown over the strait,
so as to connect the great India Peninsular Railway with the mainland.
Thus Bombay and the islands which surround it form a continuous
breakwater extending from north to south for several miles. Toward the
east lies the celebrated island of Elephanta; just opposite to the mouth
of the harbor lies a thickly-wooded island of little elevation, with the
exception of two remarkable projections which are shot upward almost
perpendicularly from the level of the land, called Great and Little
Caranja Hills.

One of our first drives was to the fort and town of Bombay. The latter
is situated within the fort, and is almost a mile in length from the
Apollo Gate to that of the bazaar, but hardly a quarter of a mile in
its broadest part, from the Custom-house across the great Green to what
is called Church gate. It is now called Fort George, and with its moats,
drawbridges, and gateways is still in tolerably good repair. There are
two gateways facing the beautiful harbor, having commodious wharfs and
cranes built out from each, with a fine broad stone quay or
landing-place for passengers. Passing through these gates, we visited
the famous Bombay Castle, a regular quadrangle built of hard stone. In
one of the bastions we saw a spacious reservoir for water. The
fortifications are sufficiently formidable, and are frequently repaired,
if not improved. Dungarree Hill, which commands the town, has now been
included within the fort, by which accession the seaward points of the
island are rendered extremely strong, the harbor being completely
commanded by successive ranges of batteries placed one above the other.
The Government House, a showy but a most inconvenient building, the old
church, and a spacious Maidan, or Common, are also situated within the

The rise of the tides has been found such as to admit of the
construction of docks on a truly magnificent scale. Indeed, the dry-dock
of Bombay is said to be unequalled in the East for its immense size and
convenience. It has been built with three divisions, each of which is
furnished with a pair of strong gates, so that it is capable of
receiving three ships-of-the-line at a time. This operation is generally
entrusted to Parsees, and executed with great rapidity and skill. These
docks have sprung up here since the days when the island passed into the
possession of the East India Company. Another remarkable feature of this
part of Bombay is the so-called ropewalk, which is said to be equal to
any in England (with the single exception of the king's yard at
Portsmouth). Here rope cables and every variety of lesser cordage are
manufactured in great abundance. The workmen can be seen seated under
covered awnings diligently plying their respective occupations--some
cleaning the caiah, or cocoanut-husks, others plaiting, and yet again
others twisting heavy ropes and cords.

The Bombay dockyard is also worth visiting; it is admirably contrived,
and abounds in fine stone warehouses well stocked with timber for
building and repairing vessels and ships of all kinds and sizes, with
forges, and well-instructed Parsees, who, among other qualifications,
are counted the best ship-carpenters to be found in the East. Many of
the merchantmen and ships-of-the-line in the service of the late East
India Company have been built here from time to time, and are still
built, of Malabar and Mylonghee teak-wood, which is much esteemed
throughout India. One of the most magnificent teak forests, from which
supplies of wood are obtained, lies on the north-western boundaries of
the kingdom of Siam; the other on the western side of the Ghauts and all
along the mountains lying north and east of the old Portuguese town of
Bassein. They are floated down to Bombay by means of the numerous
streams which descend from these mountain-ridges.

Another curious feature is the celebrated cotton-press, of which there
are a great many in use here--marvellous in themselves, but more
striking amid the mountains of cotton piled up waiting to be pressed
before transportation to Europe, China, and other parts of the world.
Not very far from these one comes upon a square around which cluster
most of the European warehouses and the banks, huge blocks of masonry,
dark and dismal as the tomb, impregnated with the odors of tea, coffee,
spices, and every other known Indian commodity or manufacture.

It was my first initiation to the commerce of the world to visit this
spot. Previous to this day I had hardly so much as purchased a ribbon
for myself, and could not conceive what trade really meant. But, driving
here about ten o'clock one morning, the whole scene dawned upon me with
peculiar force. The great square was thronged with a motley crowd of
dark- and white-faced foreigners, all eager, jostling, and contending
with each amid the confused hubbub of all languages and all manner of
dialects. Here were strange specimens of every nationality and every
phase of life, from the lordly English and Scotch merchants, the skilful
and assiduous Parsees, to the half-nude, wretched-looking fakeers and
beggars who haunt this spot in the hope of getting a few pice.[2]

For six hours these masses of humanity struggle, work, barter, buy and
sell, load and unload, and carry on the strangely-exciting warfare, not
of flesh and blood, but of pounds, shillings, and pence, straining every
nerve each to outdo his neighbor, to enrich himself, at great sacrifice
of life, health, and at times even of honor, in the hope of returning to
his native land to enjoy the spoils--a hope which, alas! is realized
only in rare instances.

But at four o'clock, as if by magic, the eager, bustling, jostling crowd
suddenly vanishes; the din and confusion cease. Long lines of carriages
and handsome equipages drive up to the great stone warehouses, and dash
away with their white-faced occupants. Where is now the commerce of the
world? Gone with the powerful, all-grasping white man. A silence
profound as the grave succeeds to the rush, noise, and turmoil of the
day. In less than half an hour not a human being is to be seen anywhere,
save the solitary begrimed watchmen seated here and there in dim nooks
and corners, and the armed white-faced sentinels standing grim and
silent at their posts.

On this first visit we were the last to quit the scene. Nothing ever
made so deep and, I might truly say, so depressing an impression on my
mind as the fierce and unnatural activity which pervaded this spot.

A day or two after we drove through the markets or bazaars of the
Parsees, or Fire-worshippers, and another and peculiar class of native
traders called the Borahs--the two most enterprising of the many
different peoples who occupy this island. These markets, nearly three
miles in extent, are perhaps the most picturesque in the world, composed
entirely of lofty, handsome Oriental houses, with projecting lattice
windows and wooden balconies elaborately carved and hung in many places
with rich tapestries. The upper stories of the houses are the dwellings
of the merchants and their families; the lower portions are given up to
stalls, shops, and alcoves where the most delicate fabrics and the most
exquisite work of all kinds are manufactured by native artisans--boxes,
fans, drinking-cups carved out of cocoanut-shells, with stools, tables,
chairs, and other articles of furniture for the homes of European
residents, as well as for exportation. Here are made kinkaubs, or cloths
of gold; mulmuls, or muslins, of such transparent texture as to be
called "running waters;" and many other articles are wrought out here by
half-nude, savage-looking men and women with tools of the rudest and
most primitive kind. Nearly all the Oriental work done here, though very
beautiful and delicate of its kind, is imitative, and it lacks that
freedom and diversity so peculiar to European manufacture.

The street that Europeans most visit in this quarter, and the best worth
seeing for its unmixed and purely Oriental character, is called the
"Bhendee Bazaar." It abounds in the queerest and most picturesque
sights--solemn merchants, turbaned and with long flowing robes, seated
cross-legged in their dens smoking long hookas; native women, handsomely
dressed, in a variety of costumes, and half-nude beggars, who seem to
beg for fun or for a wager; cripples, vagabonds; coolies with great
heavy burdens on their backs, beneath which head and shoulders have
disappeared, and only two bare legs can be seen struggling along amid
the crowd; peddlers yelling like fiends; turbaned Mohammedans; Hindoo
and Parsee ladies closely veiled, either on foot or in draped carriages
drawn by milk-white bullocks instead of horses; indolent loungers
sleeping in the shade; dogs yelping and native soldiers crushing through
this great crowded aisle of the Bhendee Bazaar. It is not only full of
everything Oriental, but everything Occidental, even to the idols so
largely manufactured in Europe for the Indian markets--from the
costliest gems from the mines of Punnah and Golconda to the commonest
English prints; and since the introduction of free trade one can
absolutely purchase English goods cheaper in this market than in the
cities where they are manufactured.

After visiting Bhendee we came one day upon a most interesting portion
of the bazaar, the Arabian horse-markets. Long lines of stables stretch
along for some distance, making a noble display of goodly Arabian
steeds. These splendid high-bred creatures are greatly esteemed by the
native traders, nawabs, and princes, as well as by the rich English
merchants, and often bring fabulous prices. It was very pleasant to go
through these stables and see the care and attention bestowed upon the
horses by the native grooms, who, while washing, feeding, and rubbing
them down, talk to them as if they were children. Our Hindoo _scyce_, or
groom, while grooming his horse always told him everything that had
happened to him during his absence on the previous evening, opening the
conversation with, "Kaisah hai paiyarah?--How art thou, beloved?"

Not far off there is a less picturesque but much more densely-crowded
market called the "Chine Bazaar." It runs along the filthiest part of
the city, and leads to a stone pier devoted to the native population and
to the loading and unloading of native craft and vessels. The people who
inhabit this part of the city are chiefly Lascars, or native sailors,
and foreigners from different parts of the East. On any day and at any
hour one may see what seems the entire produce of the East piled on this
stone wharf; merchandise and mankind are in great masses here. Every
inch of ground is thronged with moving forms, presenting a wild
masquerade of extravagant dress and of the most perfect undress.
Everywhere there is more filth and dirt than is possible to conceive at
first sight; odors of ghee, or clarified butter, and fish in every stage
of decomposition, assail you amid all manner of deafening sounds.

On one occasion, when visiting this part of Bombay, I saw the landing of
some pilgrims from Mecca--a dirty, ill-looking set of men, but the
moment they touched land the crowd was hushed; they walked in file
counting their beads through the parted crowds, who almost to a man
salââmed in abject reverence to the holy strangers.

I also saw some beautiful girls landed here, and that they were slaves,
brought for private sale among the rich natives, I could not doubt. I
afterward learned that women were brought here every year, and disposed
of privately to fill the hareems of the rich Musulman merchants in spite
of British laws. Riding through these bazaars, it has impressed me that
whatever Great Britain might do for the improvement of the island of
Bambâ Dèvi in the way of governing it, it would take very many centuries
before she could destroy its purely Oriental character.

At one time a very curious organization existed in Bombay for upward of
thirty years, consisting of a body of forty or more individuals who
bound themselves into a sort of secret society, the sole object of which
was systematic plunder. This society had in its employment about three
hundred men as subordinates, instructed to receive goods stolen from the
merchants' ships. The harbor was the chief scene of their secret
operations. Here those of the members who were on duty were ordered to
distribute themselves at the various wharves and piers, whence boats
went off to ships either when loading or unloading. These employés of
the secret society either detained the boats' crews in conversation, and
thus purloined goods, or hired themselves for a very low sum of money to
work with them for the night. In this way they managed to drop into the
water or into another and confederate boat some of the goods
surreptitiously obtained. The plunder was then conveyed openly to the
shore, and sold by auction next morning, without any attempt at
concealment, so far as the natives were concerned; and as few Europeans
frequented this part of the native town, they had no fear of detection.
It is said that the books of this robber society were scrupulously kept,
the division of the profits made with strict honesty, and, what is more
remarkable still, two shares of the profits were bestowed on charitable
institutions among the various tribes and castes of Bombay. It was not
until the year 1843 that this secret robber society was detected in some
wholesale plunder; the chiefs concerned in it were brought to justice
and the whole thing broken up.

The late East India Company, in order to protect the trade of the
country against such societies, as well as against the hordes of pirates
who have ever since the days of Alexander the Great infested the western
coast of India, found it necessary to maintain an armed marine force.

Not far from the extreme point of the Oriental bazaars, so full of
mystery, romance, and dirt, is a spot I have often visited, called
Colabah--more properly Kaláaba, or Black Water--where the sea is of the
deepest blue, and where an entirely different picture is presented to
the eye. Bungalows, as the better class of Indian houses are called,
with broad, open, and shady verandahs, each with its beautifully kept
garden, stretch along this promontory, making a charming scene. These
are the residences of some of the wealthiest inhabitants of the island.
Bright, airy-looking dwellings, nestling amid the most graceful
evergreen foliage, and standing as they do between two bays, they occupy
the most beautiful spot in Bombay.

At the extreme end of this promontory are the European barracks, built
with reference to the exigencies of the climate and replete with comfort
for the British soldiers and their officers. It is really both pleasing
and interesting to see that these are well cared for in this foreign
land; but the curiosity and charm born in the native parts of the
island, and especially in the bazaars, lessen by sure degrees as you see
your countrymen quietly and comfortably established in a spot with which
they seem so out of harmony in form and color. On the southern extremity
of Colabah is the lighthouse, a graceful circular building standing on a
desolate rock which stretches far into the sea and commands the entrance
to the fort. It rises from the sea-level one hundred and fifty feet,
flashing its light to the distance of twenty-one miles. I remember going
to the top of it one moonlight night. We remained there two or three
hours, and saw the moon rise higher and higher, silently scattering the
deep shadows one by one, revealing the half-hidden beauties of that
strange shore; and at length, when she climbed over head and looked down
in the full splendor of her light, the mountain-ridges, feathered with
wavy palms, the glimmering peaks and spires of the land, were all
magnificently pictured in richest and softest colors in the polished
mirror of the sea.

The "Maidan," or Plain, is a fine esplanade in front of the fort. Here
passing European officers, and those Europeans who are obliged by
business or any other circumstance to live within the fort during the
cool months, erect bungalows; some of these are remarkably elegant
buildings, but wholly unfit to resist the violence of the monsoon. At
the moment that the early showers of rain announce the wet season these
temporary homes vanish and their place is very soon occupied by a vast
sheet of water. The Esplanade serves to separate the European from the
native part of the island, the latter being vulgarly called the "Black

Toward the north of the island are scattered many picturesque and
thriving villages amid native groves of mangoes, palms, and fine timber
trees, cities of the dead, and some very interesting ruined portions
once occupied by the Portuguese conquerors.

The village of Girgaum, to the south of the island, is, however, the
most picturesque and most densely populated of all these native
settlements. No other part of the island is so fascinating as night
approaches. A blaze of light flashing on the surface of huge reservoirs
of water, on citron- and orange-groves, flooding flagged courtyards
surrounded with blooming tropical fruits and flowers, the brilliant
colors and varieties of dress of the numerous attendants, male and
female, together with the groups formed by different parties arriving or
departing, with the sounds of all kinds of music and midnight
revelry,--altogether formed a _coup d'oeil_ which I can never forget,
and which can be only seen in a tropical climate. Parts of this village,
I am told, are entirely given up to the dissipated and pleasure-seeking
youths who may happen to be beguiled by these outward appearances. It
presents a very different aspect in the morning light; the cottages amid
its palm-groves look so quiet and secluded that it is still more
attractive. In some parts there are vast plantations of cocoanut trees,
with the neat little huts, here and there, of native planters stretching
toward a portion of the island called the Back Bay.

Lying on the opposite side of the palm-groves of Mazagaum, a fishing
village, about an hour's drive over a beautiful strand brings us to an
interesting spot called Breach Candy. On our way, especially in the
afternoon, we meet carriages full of handsome Parsee ladies, generally
brilliantly attired in their peculiar costumes, surrounded by numbers of
happy-looking children, taking their evening airing. Grand mohguls and
nabobs, driving out in magnificent European equipages, drawn by two and
not infrequently by four spirited Arabian horses, pass rapidly by. At
length, leaving the grand and princely occupants of all these brilliant
equipages, we arrive at a spot desolate and yet peaceful beyond
description--the cemeteries of the dead of all peoples and all creeds.
No sound is heard. One solitary Hindoo, robed in pure white, with his
bare shaved head, is praying over a smouldering spot covered with hot
ashes, which shows signs of a body having been recently burned there.
These graves are separated, it is true, but hardly distinguishable from
one another. Desolate homes of the dead, we cannot tell which are
Christian and which pagan. All sleep quietly in the same dust. But kind
nature has decked them in tender living green, with here and there a
beautiful wild flower, while the ever-encroaching sea washes away every
year, bit by bit, the tombs of Hindoo, Moslem, Jain, Buddhist, and
Christian alike.

There is one place that one should not miss seeing in Bombay, and that
is the Pinjrapoore, or the Jain hospital for animals. It is one of the
most peculiarly Oriental institutions in the East, and the largest to be
found in India--pagan in everything, even in that disposition which has
become almost a natural instinct to the Hindoos, the Buddhists, and the
Jains,[3] to feel respect not alone for what is stronger and more
beautiful than themselves, but for what is weaker and more helpless, and
even hideous. The Pinjrapoore is situated in one of the most
densely-populated portions of the native town.

We were conducted by two very civil men, low-caste Jains, into what
appeared a large courtyard. A number of low sheds and several other
courts ran all round it. I must confess I was greatly disappointed in
the appearance of the building itself; it was mean and wretchedly
dirty. But as for the aspect of the inmates, it was at once both
ludicrous and pathetic. I felt inclined to laugh and cry by turns. Never
was such a medley of sick and aged animals seen anywhere else. A number
of sick oxen were undergoing treatment at the hands of several native
physicians who live near the hospital, and whose sole care is to attend
to its inmates. One poor old, lean cow was having her leg dressed, and
she seemed to be pretty conscious of the physician's kind intentions,
for she stood perfectly still and quiet during the operation, which must
have lasted an hour at least. The other aged and sick cattle, some
blind, others scarred, not a few with bandages over their eyes or with
halting steps, presented a singularly pathetic sight. We passed into
several small courtyards where cats and dogs and many aged greyhounds
find a pleasant home. Some of these were old and infirm to such a degree
that it was painful to look at them. One big dog was pointed out to me
by one of the men as the "bura kahnah wallah," one who delighted in big
dinners; they certainly did not aid in fattening him, for he was the
leanest creature I have ever seen.

The monkey part of the hospital was the most entertaining. A big ape
supported itself on crutches; another sick inmate was lying stretched
full length on the floor, gazing most piteously into the keeper's face.
It seemed to be an object of deep interest to all the other monkeys, who
clustered around it. The native doctor shook his head solemnly, and if
it had been a human being he could not have said more tenderly,
"Bachara! bachara! whoo murta hai" ("Poor thing! poor thing! she is
dying"). Almost all of the infirm inmates looked on their dying comrade
with peculiar intelligence in their faces, as if they had a sort of
vague idea of what was happening. As I looked on, I could not doubt but
that each one had somehow divined the meaning of the doctor's
foreboding shake of the head.

In these compartments were collected, as it almost seemed, every known
quadruped and biped on the face of the globe. Old elephants, dilapidated
buffaloes, deplumed ravens, vultures, and buzzards hobnobbed together
with gray-bearded goats and most foolish-looking old rams; rats, mice,
rabbits, hens, herons, lame ducks, forlorn old cocks, and sparrows,
jackals, old owls, and geese, live here in harmony side by side. I have
been shown through palaces which interested me less.

We waited to see this curious medley of inmates dine. When the food
which suited each class was being conveyed by a band of attendant boys
to their various pens, troughs, etc., the noise and confusion were
deafening. The monkeys in particular, with the peacocks--birds the most
sacred to the Hindoos and Jains--raised such a howl and were so
importunate to be served first that we were glad to escape. Such is the
extreme limit to which Oriental charity is carried. At first sight it
seemed absurd beyond words.

Nevertheless, there is something very noble and touching about this
"infirmary" for the brute creation. Every one who finds any animal
wounded, sick, aged, or dying is authorized to bring it here, and here
it is really well cared for until death comes to relieve it from all
suffering. Who can estimate the power of an institution that is
continually caring for the dumb mutes of the animal kingdom, who bear
not only man's burdens, but his harshness and neglect, with the patience
of almost sanctified beings?

In my first week in Bombay I received an invitation to a grand
dinner-party to be given at the house of a rich East Indian lady, a Mrs.
C----, the widow of what is called in British India an uncovenanted
officer. So great is the prestige attached to the word "officer" in the
East that every man is an officer of some sort or other, from the
brigadier to the private soldier. A civilian, consequently, is an
uncovenanted officer, and as for the merchants, they are Mohguls,
nabobs, Badishas, or Kudawunds. Mrs. C----'s house was situated near
Parel, formerly "Nonpareil," a most lovely part of the island. Our
carriage drove through a long wide avenue of fine trees, and brought us
before a large one-storied stone building, pillared and with a spacious
flight of stone steps leading to it. On the steps were half a dozen
handsomely-dressed servants in long flowing white robes called
"angrakas," crimson-and-gold striped turbans, and bright blue-and-gold
cumberbunds, or scarfs, folded round their waists; the effect was
certainly striking. These salââmed to us, and with stately dignity
advanced and helped us to alight. We were then shown by another band of
ushers, magnificently dressed, into a sumptuously furnished apartment,
where we laid aside our light wrappings. A fresh troop of dusky-hued,
richly-draped, and turbaned individuals marshalled us into the grand
drawing-room, where we found the rich widow seated on a yellow satin
ottoman surrounded by a bevy of ladies and gentlemen. The ladies all
wore low-necked dresses of the most exquisitely delicate Indian fabrics,
Chinese crapes, gauzes, mulmuls, and silks; and some of them were young
and beautiful.

At dinner numbers of dusky-hued attendants moved about us so softly that
they did not seem to touch the floor with their feet; gliding
noiselessly in and out, offering us costly viands and sparkling wines,
laying down plates and removing them so dexterously as not to make the
faintest sound, they seemed even to repress their breathing. Everything
was done with magical effect. The punkahs overhead moved softly to and
fro; the light fell from cocoanut-oil chandeliers in peculiarly
softened splendor on the rare flowers, the glass, and the silver below.
Everything went on with the ease and precision of clockwork, without the
faintest echo of a click or sound. Even those domestics who did not wait
at dinner-table stood with arms folded across their breasts under the
shadows of doors or pillars, waiting their turn to serve, and so still
and motionless were they that they might almost, save for the glitter in
their eyes, have passed for bronze statues.

They impressed me very unpleasantly, and that in spite of all the
laughter and merriment, the exaltation of British power and British
supremacy in India. I had, somehow, a feeling of reserved force
pervading those mute, motionless figures around us, and I involuntarily
felt, for the first time, that it was a very solemn affair for the
Briton to be in India luxuriating on her soil and on her spoils.

With those dark, restless eyes watching every turn, motion, and
expression of our faces, in vain were the delicious coffee and the
sumptuous dinner, the music of the fountains playing before each window.
I was anxious to escape. If I laughed or talked or moved, those dark
eyes seemed to observe me, even when they were seemingly fixed on
vacancy. If I had dared, I believe I should have risen and gone away.
But of course this would have been a shocking breach of etiquette, so I
sat still, hushing secret perturbations and longing for dinner to end.

The conversation continued in a lively strain. I noticed that every one
seemed to have a pet theory about home government and how it could best
be administered; all of which I was then too young to comprehend, but I
did comprehend, and that very painfully, that no one seemed to mind
those dark, silent, stationary figures any more than if they had been
hewn out of stone. On coming out of that house I drew a long deep sigh
of relief and felt just as if I had escaped from some imminent danger.

There are no less than three government residences in the island of
Bombay. One is within the walls of the fort, used for holding special
meetings of the council durbars, or assemblies, and for various other
public business. It has little or no architectural beauty, and looks
more like a stadthouse in a German free city. The one at Malabar Point
is a charming English cottage, situated on a rocky and well-wooded
promontory, commanding a beautiful view of the sea, and is often washed
by the sea-spray during stormy weather. The third is at Parel--a
magnificent building, said to have been founded on the remains of an old
Jesuit college which flourished here during the Portuguese supremacy in
India. It was bought by a Parsee, from whom it was purchased by the East
India government about a century ago and fitted up in its present style.
A noble flight of stone steps leads to the entrance-hall, whence a fine
staircase opens into two of the most spacious rooms I have ever seen in
Bombay, about eighty feet long, one above the other, and each very
handsomely furnished. It commands a fine view of the town and harbor.

There is a curious rock at the extreme point of Malabar Hill which is
very difficult to approach at high tide. Here are the remains of an
ancient Hindoo temple, and a hole famous as a place of resort for Hindoo
devotees, who endure great hardships in order to get access to the hole
and pass through it, believing that in doing so they are regenerated,
born again, and purified from all their sins.

[Illustration: BANYAN TREE.]

Among the places worth attention in the neighborhood of Bombay are
Byculla and Mazagaum. The former has a fine English school-house for all
classes of children. It is placed under the supervision of a number of
English ladies of high rank, who take turns in visiting it.

Mazagaum is a very old part of the island of Bombay, formerly a fishing
village, which its name indicates, but now a densely-populated town,
inhabited chiefly by the descendants of the early Portuguese settlers.
The Roman Catholic church here is a most venerable and picturesque
building, standing under the shadow of great forest trees. Their foliage
is certainly magnificent beyond description. The mango, the tamarind,
the graceful peepul, and the banyan attain great height and breadth, and
are covered with marvellous specimens of huge parasitic creepers and
plants forming miles of sheltered walks. The fruit-bearing trees come to
great perfection here. But with all its beauty the spot is considered so
unhealthy that it is often called the "white man's grave."

I have seldom seen a pleasanter sight than that which is presented at
Mazagaum on every Sunday morning in the year, when the whole native
Christian population turns out to church almost simultaneously. The
streets are filled with handsome women and children. The women in their
long flowing mantles and costumes, half Hindoo and half European, are
very picturesque. But the men and boys present an appearance at once
both grotesque and ludicrous. Most of them are dressed as Europeans, and
not a few as English and Portuguese generals; gold lace, plumed hats,
helmets, and striped pantaloons are the prevailing fashion. They seem to
have no idea of the fitness of things. Their passion for European dress
is carried to such an extreme that I have seen a native[4] Portuguese
sailing down the lane without any shoes on his feet, but sporting the
military dress, with the cocked hat and feathers, of some English
general. This love of dress is exceedingly queer, but it is quite as
much a characteristic of the Portuguese men of education and culture in
India as of the more ignorant and illiterate.


[1] The name Mahratta is applied to all the Indo-European races who
dwell in that portion of India extending from the Arabian Sea on the
west to the Satpura Mountains in the north, to which in ancient times
was given the Sanskrit name of Maharashtra, or "the good country." The
Mahrattas are Hindoos, divided like them into four castes--the Brahmans,
priests and professors; the Kumbis, cultivators of the soil; the
Rajpoots, or warriors; and the Sudras, or menials. The Mahratta Brahmans
are remarkable for the high physical, intellectual, and moral qualities
of that caste. Their language, a fine sonorous and flexible tongue, is a
dialect of the Sanskrit, called Mahratti.

[2] Pieces of money each of the value of one-fourth of a penny.

[3] The Jains, a very curious sect found in India proper to-day, and
known only to the learned in Europe as the sole representatives in
Hindostan of the once-numerous adherents to the tenets of Buddhism in
that region, hold an intermediate place between Buddhists and Brahmans,
but approach more closely to the Buddhists. They hold that Mahavira the
hero, their greatest teacher, and the last of a number of deified
spiritual legislators called by them Tirthankaras, was the preceptor of
the great Gautama, the Buddha, whose followers embrace nearly
three-fourths of the human race even to-day. They have, like the
Brahmans, castes, and abstain most rigorously from flesh of all kinds.
But, on the other hand, like the Buddhists of Siam, Burmah, Japan, etc.,
they disavow the sacredness of the Vèdas and the Hindoo gods, but in
their place worship twenty-four sanctified legislators or Tirthankaras.

[4] The descendants of the early Portuguese settlers who have
intermarried with the Hindoos and other castes of India, and now form a
very large portion of the population of Bombay and Goa.


     Malabar Hill, and Domestic Life of the English in Bombay.

My first stay in Bombay was a comparatively short one, and was spent
partly with friends at Colabah and partly in tents on the great green in
front of Fort George.

My stepfather being connected with the engineer or public works
department at the military station of Poonah, my life for a year or two
was passed at that strange city. Upon the occasion of my marriage,
however, I returned to Bombay for a settled residence, from which time I
began my real experience of life in India.

We established ourselves at Malabar Hill, in a house completely isolated
from the rest of the world, where my husband and I took up the study of
the Sanskrit and Hindostanee languages. Malabar Hill is a rocky
promontory on the south of the island of Bombay, and covered with
beautiful houses, many of which are almost palaces. At its highest
point, detached and alone, stands a lofty tower, the largest "dohkma,"
or "tower of silence," of the Parsees. Here the followers of Zoroaster
deposit their dead. It is rendered not the less sombre by the birds of
prey that hover around it in great numbers.

There are two other and smaller towers of silence on the island, all
erected in the most isolated positions. No one is ever allowed to
approach them save the Fire-priests and those who carry their dead.
These strange towers or tombs are mysterious, grand, and barbaric in
their very forms--at their base screened by huge branching trees from
all human observation, open only to the blue sky, the free air, and the
gloomy birds of prey hovering always near.

On the other side of this much-dreaded spot, and not far from a forest
of palms which descends in graceful undulations to the very base of the
hill, stood a solitary house, called by every one "Morgan's Folly." For
full ten years it had found no occupant. Its owner and builder, having
returned to England with broken fortunes and failing health, had
entrusted the renting of it to a Parsee agent. By a happy accident this
lonely house was discovered by my husband, who had it at once repaired,
furnished, and fitted up for our use, and here we took up our abode
after a few weeks' residence at Parel.

I wish I could do justice to this singular abode, on the portals of
which the monosyllable "_Whim_" might fully be inscribed. It was the
caprice of a rich English cotton-merchant, whose love for the feathered
tribe amounted to an absorbing passion. The house was therefore designed
and built at great cost to serve the double purpose of human and bird
habitation. Foolish, capricious, extravagant, and incorrigible as he was
called by every one, I for my part conceived an affection for this
strange Englishman who built this fanciful place in which were passed
the first few years of my married life.

Two fine roads led to the "Aviary," as we named the house, one of which
was cut into the hillside and descended to the base of the hill, whence
at low tide you might step from rock to rock away out into the bay. The
other was connected with a beautiful road which winds along Malabar
Hill, affording a favorite carriage-drive for the residents of the

As for the house, it was the most curious bit of architecture one had
ever seen--so fanciful, it seemed more like something that belonged
rather to the mysterious land we visit in our dreams than to an actual
house made of solid stone and wood standing fast, bound to the hard,
dull, practical earth.

The building consisted only of two stories, of great length, and a high
chamber, called the "Teak Tower," which rose above the east corner of
the house and commanded the most extensive and beautiful views to be
found anywhere on the island. The upper story was the part designed for
human habitation. The wood of which it was built was a fine-grained teak
and very durable. The balcony, running all around the upper story, was
elaborately carved. The lower part was chiefly of stone pillars,
enclosing a spacious ground-floor united by screens of fine open wire
wrought in Oriental patterns of the Persian rose and the Buddhistic
lily. The pillars rested firmly on broad stone foundations, and the open
wire walls let in all the wind, rain, and sunshine that the feathered
inhabitants for whom the enclosure was intended could possibly desire.

But this was not all: on the ground-floor of the hall flourished some
beautiful fruit-bearing trees. Right under our bedroom chamber stood
that most exquisite of Indian trees, "the gold-mohur acacia," with its
rich clusters of golden flowers; the slender, graceful pâpiya, with its
heavy drooping leaves and round fruit of a rich yellow when ripe, so
much sought after by birds. One gigantic baobâb, which had stood here,
no doubt, for centuries, for whose growth and preservation the builder
had made ample provision by leaving a well or circular opening through
the lower and upper stories and in the roof, gave the house the singular
appearance of growing around a great tree. Forcing themselves through
this opening to the sky, the branches of the baobâb shot straight up on
one side and overshadowed the tower chamber, covering it, after each
rainy season, with masses of fragrant blossoms and fine fruit. It was
very evident that in the course of time there would be, possibly, a
prolonged but mighty struggle between the house and the tree, which
should go first, and it was not hard to tell, for already the tree had
found its way to the open sky, and its branches were seen pushing here
and there and penetrating the woodwork of the chambers adjoining. There
were one or two more trees that deserve mention. These were a beautiful
Chinese pine and a heart-shaped peepul. The ground-floor of this hall
was covered with weeds and a perfect jungle of brushwood. The gardener
told me that it abounded in all kinds of reptiles, but I never saw any
signs of them until some large snakes were called out one morning by a
party of samp-wallahs, or snake-charmers. The fruit trees had long
ceased to bear, and were gradually crowding out and killing each other.

All the more rare and beautiful birds with which Mr. Morgan had stocked
this place had died or taken flight to homes less confined; only a few
still remained. Among them were the sooruk, or scarlet breast, an
exquisite singer; the mâina, the Java sparrow, the bulbul or Indian
nightingale, and the zeenah, a little quarrelsome brown and red-spotted
bird,--all hardy birds. They lingered here, partly from association and
partly because of the grain still thrown in and around the "Aviary"
morning and evening by the pious Hindoo employed by the Parsee agent to
look after the garden.

The tower chamber was our favorite sitting-room because of its splendid
views and being removed from the noise and vicinity of our servants. It
was simply furnished--a table, a few chairs, mostly of cane, a couple of
sofas and a Persian carpet, with gauze nettings to every door and
window to keep out our worst foes, the gnats, flies, and mosquitoes. The
rest of the house was furnished with the same severe simplicity; there
were no curtains, no blinds, no carpets; the floors as well as the walls
were painted in subdued half-tints, which gave them the air of being
very handsomely fitted up.

In this place I began my first attempt at housekeeping in the East, and
I can truly say, without the least exaggeration, that for months the
house kept itself and my numerous servants kept me. To begin with, there
were too many servants for so quiet and unpretending a household, but I
soon found it would be still more difficult to do with fewer:
"_dustoor_," custom, was flung into my face morning, noon, and night. I
implored my husband to send half of them away, but if he sent one off,
either the whole gang disappeared like a flash or else the work of the
banished servant was scrupulously avoided by every one in the
establishment. There was, in short, a servant for every distinct thing
to be done in the house. There was a _khansamah_, or native butler, a
high-caste Hindoo, who was supposed to keep all the servants in order,
but who invariably incited a revolution in the camp if I wished anything
to be done my way and not his. Then there was a cook, a _kling_ (a name
for a certain race natives of Madras), who got drunk whenever we
happened to have friends to dinner; there was a cook's mate, who was
inclined to be musical just as we were going to sleep; there was a
_buttee-wallah_, or lamplighter, a stripling, some near relation of the
butler's, whose friends and relatives were always dying, and who asked
permission three times in the course of a few months to be allowed to go
and bury his mother. When I very gently, because of his flowing tears
and doleful expression of face, reminded him that he had already buried
or burned her twice, he burst into a passionate sob and said, "Oh! that
one was my aunt's mother, and the last one my father's mother, but this
is my own, own mother." Of course I had to let him go off for two or
three days, and the butler too, who was also a mourner. Then there were
besides these an _ayah_, or lady's-maid; a _dhoby_, or washerman, who
came to the house once a week for the clothes, and stayed away sometimes
for three weeks, owing to that chronic epidemic, death, in the family; a
_bheestie_, who filled the tubs in the bathroom with water, and did
nothing else; a _jarroo-wallah_, who only came each morning and swept
the house and grounds, and then disappeared till the next time; a
coachman, a groom, a _pundit_, or professor of Oriental languages; and
lastly, a tailor, whose name was Tom. He, Tom, was a Portuguese
Christian, and attended to the mending of the household linen and the
making of our clothes. He was the least manageable of the whole lot. He
would not answer to the name "boy," a generic name for servants in India
and a corruption of the Hindostanee word _bhai_, brother, but insisted
on being called "Tom." This put me very often into an awkward position,
as this was the familiar name by which I had learned to call my husband,
not knowing that there was another "Tom" attached to him from his
bachelor establishment. Once or twice, forgetting this fact, I happened
to call "Tom! Tom!" after my husband, who was hurrying off to town, when
who should pop into my chamber but the grinning tailor-boy, balancing a
pair of huge scissors on his right ear and with a number of needles full
of long threads stuck into his woolly head, which served him as a
needle-case? There was nothing left me but to change my husband's name.

But this was by no means the beginning and end of my troubles of
housekeeping in Bombay. I happened to awake very early one Sunday
morning. It was a lovely sunrise: the first blush of dawn was mounting
the horizon; the trees in the garden were unfolding their leaves; birds
of all colors were perched upon their branches opening their "ruby eyes"
on a newly-born day. But as I stood there, entranced with the beauty of
a tropical sunrise, my eyes fell on the figure of Tom the tailor going
off to early mass attired in my husband's best dress-coat and an
embroidered vest which had been a chief object of my girlish admiration.
In addition to these he sported pointed shoes, worked stockings--one of
the finest pair in my possession--and a frill six inches deep projecting
from his shirt-front, with a huge cocked hat, over which he held one of
my smallest parasols to protect him from the mildest of morning suns,
which had only just mounted the hillside. When I remonstrated with him
on his return from chapel, he burst into a passion of tears and sobs and
flooded me with such replies as these: "Your godship, you are my father
and mother; an unkind, unjust word from your divine voice will break
your poor slave's heart and consign him in the prime of his youth to a
lonely and desolate grave," etc. I absolutely began to feel that he was
the injured party, and that I was anything but a kind, generous mistress
and a Christian. It ended in my presenting him with the clothes he had
worn, but nevertheless he went about the house for days in a state of
sorrowful dejection at my unkindness, which he persisted in saying had
caused his heart to bleed to death.

Not long after this in a rash moment we resolved to give a dinner-party
to some of our friends in Bombay, and to invite the rich East Indian
widow, Mrs. C----, who had shown us many kindnesses. Never in my life
did I pass through a more perplexing and fiery ordeal.

The viands were all ordered and sent from town, and had arrived in good
season. But no sooner had they been deposited in the kitchen than the
butler reported, in his quiet and unconcerned manner, that the cook had
gone off to town to get help, and would probably not return in time to
prepare the dinner. The butler and the lamplighter were Hindoos, and
could not touch beef or ham, or, in fact, any kind of flesh. The butler
had no objection to putting these articles on the table when cooked, but
as for cooking them, he would lose caste. There was nothing left to be
done but for Tom the tailor-boy and I--who, being Christians, had no
such scruples--to set about and cook the dinner.

About four o'clock everything was in a fair way toward being cooked, the
capons, ham, soup, and vegetables were all in their places on the fire,
when suddenly the cook returned, looking very strange; I thought he was
only tired and sleepy. He insisted on taking possession of the kitchen,
declaring that it almost broke his heart to see me spoiling my nice
dress and ruining my complexion over the fire. "What am I good for,"
said he, striking an attitude and looking queerer than ever, "but to
cook you a grand dinner and be your slave for ever?" Thus assured, I
quitted the kitchen with all the dinner cooking away at great speed, and
betook myself to making various other preparations. It was almost the
dinner-hour before I was fairly through with the glasses and dessert and
a thousand and one of the many requirements of a European dinner-party.
No sooner had I put the last touches to my toilette than my husband
returned with two unexpected guests, which called my attention at once,
so that I had no opportunity to revisit the kitchen to see that all was
as it should be.

The last of the guests had no sooner arrived than the butler threw open
the dining-room door and announced in a solemn tone, "Kannah teyar hai
Sahibloke" ("Dinner waits, ladies and gentlemen").

We marched gayly in, eager, happy, and very hungry. But, alas! no sooner
was the soup-tureen uncovered than I divined from my husband's
expression that something was wrong. The soup was sent away with some
playful apology, but when dish after dish was set on the table,
uncovered, and removed without my husband's even making a pretence of
offering the guests anything to eat, it was too much for me.

At this juncture kind-hearted Mrs. C---- came to my rescue by saying,
"Let us all go off to the kitchen and find out what is the matter with
the cook," and coming to my side, gave me an opportunity to recover
myself, which I did under her gentle smile and oft-repeated adage, "My
dear, accidents will happen in the best regulated families."

The gentlemen returned from their survey of the kitchen and reported
that the cook was "drunk and sound asleep in the middle of the floor,"
and that the remainder of the dinner was burnt to cinders, but still in
the pots on the range. If it had not been for the kind-hearted Mrs.
C----, I do not know what we should have done. She insisted on our all
driving out to her house and taking tea with her.

I must not omit to mention another incident which is characteristic of
life in India. My husband was in the commissariat department of the
army, and had a great deal to do with native dealers. The Parsees,
however, because of their honesty, had the monopoly of the contracts for
supplying the British troops in Bombay. One morning a number of
_Borahs_[5] were ushered into the "Aviary," and laid before me on the
table what seemed to be a tray filled with sugar candy, raisins, and
almonds. Not understanding the meaning of this gift, and not having
quite outgrown my love for sweets, I took up a handful of the good
things, when, to my surprise, I found lying below the candy a number of
gold coins called "mohurs." I hastened to inform my husband of the
magnificent present waiting for him, but he no sooner heard of it then
he turned the Borahs out, tray and all. It was simply an attempt to
obtain contracts by bribery. The Borahs seemed in no way discomfited;
they bowed most politely on my husband's prompt dismissal, and departed
as if it were with them no unusual occurrence to be turned out of doors.

Such are some few of the most prominent features of housekeeping and
life in India.

The native servants have some good points, however. They will rarely
quit your service, even to better their fortunes, unless driven away.
They contrive, too, to have their own way without ever being
disrespectful to you. They bow or salââm at all times, move so softly
about the house with bare feet that you hardly ever know that they are
there, and, on the whole, they attend pretty well to their own peculiar
province in the household; but as for helping in what is _not their
province_, it is not to be expected.

They are never away a day except for sudden deaths, which take place in
the various branches of their friends or relatives once a week, on an
average. They are always clean, arrayed in their long flowing white
robes and handsome turbans, and they never address you without some
flattering or grandiloquent phrase, which helps not a little to smooth
over your wounded pride.

Our pundit,[6] Govind, was not a servant, but a high-bred gentleman. He
came to the "Aviary" morning and evening to give us lessons in
Hindostanee and Sanskrit. He was a learned high-caste Brahman and a
remarkably interesting specimen of a Hindoo gentleman.

Almost directly to the right of the "Aviary" was the government
summer-house already mentioned; just opposite, situated on the summit of
a steep acclivity overlooking the sea, was a grand stone house, the home
of our Parsee friend and commissariat contractor. On the west, embowered
in a thick grove of mango and tamarind trees, was the prettiest of
little Hindoo villages, the village of Walkeshwar, sacred to the god of
the strand or beach.

We spent a day here on a certain festal occasion accompanied by Govind,
our pundit. We lunched under the porch of the Hindoo temple by
permission obtained through our pundit. Perfectly nude dusky children
were clambering about the stones watching us with eager curiosity. Our
visit here was to witness the feast of Rama, the hero of one of the
Hindoo epic poems, Ramayána, and his wife, Seeta, which did not begin
until the afternoon. Hindoo women, black-eyed and singularly graceful in
their movements, adorned with gayly-colored robes and most
antique-looking bracelets and armlets, went to and from the pool, still
called "Rama Talai," or Rama's Pool, bearing water in jars piled in
tiers on their heads, others bathing and frolicking in the pool. There
were at the same time some dozen Brahman priests at prayer, seemingly
abstracted from the scenes around them, going through with all kinds of
motions with their bodies while their lips moved incessantly, but
inaudibly, in prayer and praise. Our pundit told us that this was the
traditional spot where the hero Rama rested when on his way to Lanka
(Ceylon) to recover from the tyrant Rawana his beautiful wife, Seeta.

The Rama Talai stands in a group of small temples--some of which are
very pretty--surrounded by gardens. About two in the afternoon the
officiating priests began to arrive, followed by thousands of Hindoos.
The doors of the temple were thrown open to all comers. The priests
placed themselves at the foot of the shrines, on each of which were
several idols--Siva, the chief god, above, and Rama and Seeta below. The
people poured forth their offerings to the priests. Those who could not
get into the temples pressed around the sacred pool, throwing themselves
into its holy waters and coming out free from all impurities. A great
many young women with peculiarly interesting faces were kneeling outside
of the temples and praying, with their eyes closed and their hands
folded, for some especial blessing. It was an interesting sight, but for
the fakeers and gossains, who make a disgusting spectacle of themselves,
and, strange to say, are encouraged by the pure, mild, and modest
Brahman priests to do so. As it was, we returned home shocked with the
nudity and filth of these sacred beggars, but very much impressed with
the perfectly pure and religious nature of the Hindoos, who have very
beautiful forms and faces, and even those that are not absolutely
beautiful have so much grace and gentleness about them that they attract
the eye and remain impressed on the memory with something of the charm
of a beautiful painting.


[5] The Borahs are natives of Guzerat, converted to Islamism about five
and a half centuries ago. They are remarkable for their extraordinary
intelligence in trade. The name "Borah" signifies merchant in the
Guzerati dialect. These Borahs are a distinct sect, followers of one
Moolah Allih, who is buried in the old city of Cambay. They pay
reverence to Mohammed Hussain, called in the records of the Crusaders
"The Prince of the Assassins" and also "the Old Man of the Mountains."
They transmit a fifth of their gains to the Saiyads of Medinah, and pay
eleemosynary contributions to the chief of their learned men, who
distribute alms among the poor. (See _Asiatic Researches_, paper by H.
T. Colebrook.)

[6] A professor of Sanskrit or other branches of Indian literature.


     The Island of Shashtee, commonly called Salsette.--Gharipoore, "the
     Town of Purification," or the Island and Caves of Elephanta.

Early one morning, after almost a week's preparation for the trip, we
found ourselves in a large roomy bunder-boat flying before the wind
straight for the beautiful island of Salsette, which lies to the north
and is united to the smaller island of Bombay by a causeway erected
during the administration of Governor Duncan, chiefly to enable the
natives of the larger islands to bring their produce to the Bombay

Presently we entered upon a wonderful river, flowing through the land
out of the sea and dividing this island from the continent, at the very
mouth of which are the bleak, barren island and mountains of Trombay,
the latter rising up nine hundred feet high. We passed along reefs of
gold, now over wide swamps, our boat riding above and crushing down the
tall waving grass, and anon we would suddenly shoot almost within touch
of dark hollow caverns, and looking up see the high beetling cliffs
piled one above the other, surmounted by the ruins of some of old
Portuguese or Mahratta forts or castles, covered with wild flowers and
huge creeping plants. The scenes along the banks of this river are wild
and romantic enough to satisfy the most enthusiastic lover of nature. We
cast anchor at length at Tannah, having reached "a land all sun and
blossom, trees as high as heaven, amid every bird that sings."

Tannah, the chief town of the island of Salsette, was taken by the
troops of the East India Company in the year 1774, and by a treaty then
entered into the Mahratta king, Raghu Nauth, ceded in perpetuity to the
company Bassein with its dependencies, the island of Salsette, the
entire districts of Jainbhosir and other valuable provinces adjoining it
in Guzerat. It is chiefly inhabited by Roman Catholic Christians, the
majority of whom are converts from Hindooism. The interior of the island
is inhabited by a peculiar tribe of peasants who are to this day in a
condition as wild as the Bheels and Konds of Guzerat and Central India.
These peasants are burners of charcoal; they dwell together among the
hills, but apart from all other tribes, and have neither intercourse nor
any social bond with the Hindoos of the plain. At stated times they
bring down their loads of charcoal in rude carts drawn by buffaloes to
particular spots, whence it is carried away by the Hindoo or Portuguese
buyer, who, according to a settled custom among them, deposits in its
place rice, clothing, and iron tools. This excessive shyness is said to
be owing to the contempt in which the natives, as outcasts, are held by
their Hindoo neighbors.

We were met on our landing by a very polite and obliging native
Portuguese, the elder brother of my husband's tailor Tom, in whose
company we walked about the town and at whose house we stayed during our

Tannah, the chief town of the island of Salsette, takes its name from
the beautiful river which flows at its base, and which was anciently
called _Tainnah-Dèo_, "the Limb of God." It runs deep and narrow in
front of the town. It is a place of great antiquity, probably dating
back to the days of Vicrâmaditya, of whose universal and beneficent
rule, 57 B. C., tradition is yet eloquent throughout India. The ruins
here are few and not very interesting. There are some massive walls of a
great square building that was once a Mahratta citadel, and some
ponderous old arches that have fallen and are now covered with beautiful
wild creepers; also a Hindoo temple, a vast, shapeless mass of
architecture, but almost animate with the innumerable gods and goddesses
that grin and smirk at one from every cornice and entablature of the
building. There is here a small but perfect little fortress, from which,
during the last Mahratta war, the famous Trimbukjee escaped, occupied by
a small European garrison. The government prison is also well worth
visiting. We were surprised to see the manner in which the prisoners of
all ranks, creeds, and nationalities worked together within these walls.
Most of the prisoners, however, were of the Takhor race. They were
busily employed in the manufacture of very valuable striped cotton
stuffs much prized by the natives for scarfs, cumberbunds, and

[Illustration: CAVES OF ELEPHANTA.]

The cavern temples that are found in this island are the chief objects
of interest.

On the morning following our arrival, furnished with two guides and
accompanied by our pundit, we started off to visit some of these
remarkable excavations in the mountains that stretch across the middle
of this island. At first, the road, though very narrow and rugged, lies
through a most beautiful valley formed by hills of moderate height,
covered with forests to their summits, with here and there patches of
bare rock, while the ravines and the valley itself were planted with
groves of mangoes and several varieties of the palm. For some time we
saw but few traces of inhabitants; we passed during a ride of more than
eight miles but one small village, a collection of most
miserable-looking huts, a few half-starved looking children, and a troop
of pariah dogs, who rushed out to bark at us.

At another small village, named Viarè, we came upon what seemed a
jungle, open in some parts and in others densely thick, abounding in
hyenas, tigers, panthers, and the wild-boar; passing through this with
anything but pleasurable feelings, we reached Toolsey, named after a
famous Hindoo goddess who, like the Greek Clytie, loved some Hindoo god,
and was by him, out of pity for her unrequited passion, transformed into
the beautiful toolsey-plant, whence her name. This is a lovely spot,
encircled with hills, the highest of which is Khennari, its face
perforated with no less than one hundred cavern temples. Under a fine
banyan tree which stands in an open plain we passed the night. In
northern latitudes one can form no idea of the peculiar beauty of the
night with a bright moon shining overhead.

Almost at dawn next morning we set off for the temples. The ascent to
the Khennari Hills is somewhat steep and difficult, but after a hard
climb we gained a platform, and was confronted by a stone porch leading
into an arched cavern temple of great majesty and beauty. These cavern
temples are scattered over both sides of a high rocky hill at many
different elevations, consisting of no less than six stories or tiers of
caverns, of various sizes and forms, all excavated out of the rocky
surface of the mountain and connected with each other by narrow stone
steps cut in the rock. The façades and great court are most imposing.

Entering through a fine lofty portico, we saw a little to the left hand
a curious octagonal pillar, detached from the rock and surmounted by
three well-carved lions seated back to back. Passing this, we were
suddenly introduced into an elaborately carved vestibule, at the end of
which is a colossal statue of Buddha, with his hands raised in the
attitude of benediction. The stone screen which here separates the
vestibule from the body of the temple is covered with a row of male and
female figures half nude; the expression of the faces of these figures
is remarkably calm and thoughtful, and the whole is executed with
considerable spirit. Above them the rocks are carved into a profusion of
graceful sculptures.

The great temple or cave is divided into three aisles by regular
colonnades of octagonal pillars; of these, the twelve on each side
nearest the entrance are ornamented with exquisitely carved bases and
capitals in the style usual in Indian temples. The arch of the vault is
occupied by a dagoba or mausoleum, perhaps of some early disciple of
Buddha. It is cylindrical in the shaft and surmounted by a cupola. On
the right and left of the portico are two colossal figures of Buddha,
perhaps twenty feet in height.[7] The ceiling of this cave is arched
semicircularly and ornamented with slender ribs of fine teak-wood,
disposed as if for the support of the ponderous dome overhead, but in
reality for the floral decorations which on solemn occasions were hung
from them. A flight of steps cut into the same mountain leads by various
intricate paths to smaller caves or cells, consisting only of a portico
and two small chambers, with everywhere seats for the disciples or the
recluse cut into the rock. To each cave there is a cistern for the
preservation of rain-water, some larger and more elegantly carved and
finished than others. The whole appearance of this excavated hill of
Khennari is that of a Buddhist monastic city, the cells and temples, the
apartments and cisterns, hewn in the rocky sides of the mountain.

On Sunday we attended the Roman Catholic church, which is a stone's
throw from the home of our Portuguese friends. Early on Sunday morning
the streets were filled with men, women, and children, entirely of the
Portuguese population. The men were, with a few exceptions, quietly
dressed in the ordinary European attire, which the majority don only on
stated occasions, with the black silk hat of modern fashion, carrying
prayer-books, fans, and footstools of the ladies of their party. It was
a pleasant sight. The Portuguese here are entirely independent of the
Romish Church, and from simple contact have adopted the mode of life and
a great many superstitions of the Hindoos. One finds everywhere in India
not only Hindooized Mohammedans, but Hindooized Christians. Their
priests are natives of the country, under the jurisdiction of the
archbishop of Goa, who is a sort of Indian pope. Their worship is so
much more pagan than Christian that when in a Roman Catholic church in
any part of India one finds it difficult to believe that it is not the
worship of Khrishna or Brahm.

The native Portuguese are darker than the darkest of the better class of
Indians, showing a mixed and degenerate race.

I accompanied our host and his family to church. The children were
charming with their little pink trowsers, lace over-slips, pink shoes,
and were adorned with jewels; the only difference between the dresses of
the little boy and the girls was that the boy sported a hat like that
seen in the pictures of Bonaparte, which gave him a most whimsical air,
and the little girls had white handkerchiefs tied neatly under their
chins. I took little Marium's hand, and off we went; looking toward the
deep flowing river, I saw a string of Brahman priests marching solemnly
along the steep banks preparatory to beginning their morning services,
for our Sabbath is also their day of sacrifice and prayer to Suriya, the
sun-god. I was very much tempted to abandon my Christian friends and
follow the Brahman priests, but I restrained myself, and was soon within
the _temple_ of Jesus Christ. I say designedly the _temple_ of Jesus
Christ. It was crowded with images--perhaps one ought to say idols--of
God the Father, Christ the Son, the Virgin Mother, and the Holy Ghost,
besides quantities of relics, sacred vessels, tapers, candles,
incense-burners swinging from the roof, flowers both natural and
artificial, and all kinds of beads and shells on the altar. High above
the altar was a great porcelain figure of the Virgin jewelled and
crowned as queen of heaven, with her arms stretched out in benediction.

We pressed in. The service had not begun. All the men, women, and
children prostrated themselves--some at full length; others, being
crowded for room, squatted down and touched the brick pavement with
their outspread open palms and then their foreheads; after which the
rich, among whom were classed my friends, took their seats, and the
crowd remained kneeling on the bare floor. Presently the priests, of
whom there were no less than a dozen, appeared, gaudily dressed in
tinsel and lace, and took their places before the altar, keeping their
heads covered. Now the service began, which consisted of some chants in
a kind of Latin known only to the priests, and not fully understood even
by them, with dressings and undressings, perpetual genuflexions, turning
from the altar to the people, swinging of censers, marching and
countermarching with the baby figure of Christ and a pretty wax doll
which represented the mother; these the men, women, and children kissed
with apparently genuine pleasure. This done, boys dressed as angels in
long white robes and with wings attached to their shoulders, entered,
each bearing a lighted candle and a lily, as do the Buddhists at prayer,
chanting some beautiful hymn, of which no one understood a word, and
even the music was wild and Oriental. Then finally came the ringing of
multitudinous little bells (another Buddhist custom when about to
exhibit a tooth or any other relic of Buddha), and up rose the Host, as
large as an ordinary fan, composed of glutinous rice. In the centre was
a white spot, and around it rays of gold proceeding outward. All fell
upon their faces; little Marium and I alone were the lookers-on, but
suddenly my gentle hostess gave her little daughter a vigorous push,
which sent her head foremost to the floor, whispering, "The body of
God!" I bowed my head out of respect for the poor human hearts that
worshipped here, and not without a deep sense of humiliation at
witnessing the complicated and ingenious ceremonies by which these
ecclesiastics, an outgrowth of the Church of Rome, cultivate and foster
the credulity and ignorance of the people, whom they teach to rely more
on certain forms and the supernatural agencies of the Virgin and relics
of deceased saints than upon religious and moral truths. After the "body
of God" a bone of some martyred Indian saint who had been converted to
Christianity was held up for adoration; again the people bowed down;
and then came the end, the benediction, amid more ringing of bells and
swinging of censers.

Who can witness these imbecilities and not hold the native Portuguese
clergy accountable for withholding the true knowledge, the simple
teachings of Jesus, the true Bread of life, and for substituting
superstitions and pageantries not one whit superior to, but in some
respects even more degrading than, the most debasing paganism which they
have supplanted? Forms are the same, the names alone have been changed;
otherwise, the Roman Catholicism I have everywhere witnessed in India is
essentially the same as the lowest forms of paganism.

Before dawn next morning we took leave of our kind friends, and in our
comfortable bunder-boat started for the island of Elephanta, or
Gharipoore. After a couple of hours or more of pleasant sailing we
reached the island. I found it larger and more beautiful than I had
expected. A good part of it is under cultivation, especially all around
a village of tolerable size, above which a couple of clearly-defined
hills rise from the sea to a considerable height. The view as you ascend
to the right is simply magnificent: the twin mountains seem to be knit
together by a grand old forest, the one rising slightly higher than the
other. The name "Elephanta" was given to it, some say, by the Greeks,
others by the Portuguese conquerors; however that may be, the name of
the caves was anciently "Gharipoore," or, "the Town of the Rock," or,
according to some, "the Town of Purification."

We ascended a long flight of stone steps, in the wake of a party of
fakeers, Hindoo priests, and half-nude men beating tomtoms, which at
length brought us to a very handsome and spacious platform shaded with
some fine old trees.

Here the party of Hindoo priests, drummers, and fakeers sat down to
rest, while we went on a short distance and reached the entrance to the
famous caves of Elephanta. The principal cave is of great extent,
excavated out of the solid rock; the colossal columns of the portico
seem to hold up the mountain above them. On either side of the entrance
great creepers come down in heavy masses over the mountain. Rows and
rows of columns handsomely ornamented appear within, growing beautifully
less in the distance and vanishing amid gloomy shadows and a thousand
fantastic shapes. The gateway or porch is still in excellent
preservation; it leads directly through the heart of the mountain. The
different shrines, which contain objects of Hindoo worship, are placed
on each side. In the centre there is seen by the light of torches a
majestic altar of stone, now in a state of decay, supporting a gigantic
bust of three noble heads, two of which are in profile. The Hindoo
Trinity, Maha Dèo, the Great God, commonly called Brahm, the Hindoo
Creator, occupies the centre in full relief. The eyes are half closed,
the expression serene and tranquil. It seems to be carved from a living
model, and is a perfect Oriental ideal of masculine beauty, with the
delicate and refined outline of the features and the deep contemplation
expressed in those large downcast eyes. The forehead is crowned with a
lofty diadem exquisitely carved, not unlike the mitres worn by the
bishops of the Roman Church; the right arm, which is very much broken,
once grasped the head of a cobra da capello, which, our pundit explained
to us, here typifies in its sublimest sense the masculine or creative
energy of the world.

Siva, to whom this cavern temple is said to be dedicated, and who is
seen in another compartment with his consort Parvati, with a chaplet of
skulls round his neck, eight-handed, and bearing the cobra, and whose
name in Sanskrit signifies either happiness or pleasure, is seen in
profile on the right. In a hand outstretched from the altar he also
grasps a cobra, but with its hood extended wide. In his hand the
character of the symbol is transformed with the god into that of the
avenger or destroyer. The god's mouth is distorted with grimaces, and he
puts out the tip of his tongue, by which, according to our pundit and
guide, he mocks at the sensualist, and says as plainly as our Bible,
"The wages of sin is death."

On the left side of Maha Dèo is Vishnu, in the grand character of
preserver; the head is very noble and the face of no common beauty; it
wears a tender and smiling expression. He no longer holds the symbol at
once of masculine creative energy and of sensuality, but a peculiar
oblong lotos-shaped cup or flower, the higher and purer symbol of
maternity. Our pundit gave this wonderful bit of sculpture, which
reaches from the low altar to the ceiling of the temple, the name of
"Maha Trimourtri, the Great Three-in-One." By some it is called Bhava
Natria, "Love threefold." Whatever else it may be called, it certainly
makes a wonderful impression seen high above from the principal aisle,
guarded on all sides by gigantic and well-proportioned caryatides. The
shape of the largest cave is cruciform and resembles the plan of an
ancient basilica.

The massiveness and strength of the pillars, which find their deep
foundations in the earth below, supporting the elephant-shaped mountain
above, is rendered more and more striking by the thousand and one scenes
of Hindoo, and particularly Saivic,[8] mythology, in part solemn and
majestic, and in part grotesque and absurd, that fill every part of the
walls; gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters, almost stand out of the
rocks. Here are carved strong and clear the story of the babe Krishna
and the slaughter of the infants by his uncle Cansa. Everywhere are
curious and venerable specimens of sculpture, which, though shamefully
mutilated in parts, still show so high an advance in art, and possess so
indescribable an aspect of animated life, that one half expects the
stone figures to move or to speak. A great number of the pillars have
been undermined by the accumulation of water in the cavern temple; the
capitals of some and parts of the shafts of others remain suspended from
the ceiling like huge stalactites. Enormous creepers and trees have
forced themselves through certain cracks and crevices in the mountain,
and the whole scene is very wild and pagan; which enhances the beauty
and mysterious appearance of the caves.

On going through a passage guarded by stone lions the pundit took a
little tin box out of his pocket, opened it, and scattered some
odoriferous snuff on the head of the lions, and then took a little pinch
himself. His explanation was, that he had taken cold, and snuff was his
remedy for it. "But," said I, "the stone lions haven't taken cold
too?"--"Oh, that," said he, "was a propitiatory offering, lest I should
sneeze in their sacred presence."

As we went out of the great stone porch the declining sun sent a long
line of light through the aisle, the wind blew softly, and the island
stretched away green and beautiful, surrounded with the sea all
a-glitter with the rosy hues of the setting sun. In many places we
noticed traces of color, but everywhere are to be seen the ruthless
mutilations this cave has suffered both from the conquering Mohammedan
and Portuguese soldiers; most of the colossal statues are defaced and
broken, the arms and limbs of innumerable figures are prostrate. Long
lines of pictured story and inscriptions are effaced, but there are
still standing rows and rows of gods and goddesses, their heads crowned
with garlands. These figures, although much defaced, still show that the
artist carved some of the female forms with only one breast, like the
famed Amazons of Greek story. The temple or city of purification was
desecrated centuries ago, and it is now deserted, save for an annual
fair and occasional visits from Brahmans and fakeers; it can boast of
none of the splendors of its palmy days.

About fifteen miles from "Gorabunder," on the mainland, lies
Bassein--or, as it was anciently called, Vassai--once a proud city and
the chief seat of the early Portuguese settlers in this part of India.
But for nearly three-quarters of a century it has ceased to be
inhabited. The city is of considerable size, and surrounded by a regular
fortification of rampart and bastions. It is kept locked up under a
small body of soldiers and an English conductor of ordnance.

By permission obtained from the authorities at Bombay we spent a very
interesting day wandering over this deserted city, its ruined towers,
cloisters, convents, monasteries, and churches, that once belonged to
the Jesuits, which are here crumbling away unheard of and unnoticed.
The only building in good repair is a small pagoda raised over a
Mahratta saint amid a display of the most melancholy of ruined houses,
churches, and colleges. In the vast jungle-covered cemetery of the dead
Portuguese are the tombs of the great Don Lorenço and the famous
Albuquerque. In one of the largest of the churches there is a monument
to a certain lady, Donna Maria de Souza, of the date of 1606.

Bassein was wrested from the Mahrattas by the Portuguese in 1532 A. D.
But the Mahrattas laid siege to it again under the renowned Chinaje Apa,
brother of the Peishwa Baji Rao, and after a desperate struggle the
Portuguese were forced to capitulate. It is said that the English in
Bombay might have saved them this defeat and humiliation, but from a
feeling of jealousy of the power and influence of the Portuguese in
India refused them all aid, except that of advancing fifteen hundred
rupees, for which they took some very valuable church plate and some
brass guns, which were actually removed from the defence of Bassein as
security. They were finally induced, however, to make some amends for
this barbarous treatment of fellow-Christians, and sent boats with a
strong escort to convey the refugees to Bombay, whence they started for
Goa, but were once more attacked and almost annihilated by the
Mahrattas. In 1780 the English attacked, stormed, and captured the city
of Bassein once more from the fierce Mahrattas, and have held it ever
since, a melancholy monument of the departed greatness of the Portuguese
conquerors. Such is the fate of conquering nations. It can hardly be
doubted that if the English were now expelled from India the few relics
left of their religion, their power, and their civil and military
magnificence would be swept rapidly away, and would in the course of a
century or two leave not a trace behind them.


[7] The following extract from Dr. Bird's _Caves of Western India_ may
prove interesting to the curious reader:

"The tope (a monument erected over a Buddhist relic, sometimes
resembling a pagoda) at Khanari was opened by me in 1839. The largest,
being selected for examination, was penetrated from above to the base,
which was built of stone. In this tope the workmen found two small
copper urns, in one of which were a ruby, a pearl, and a small piece of
gold mixed with the ashes. In this urn there was also a small gold box
containing a piece of cloth; and in the other ashes (probably of some
cremated saint) and a silver box were also found. Outside, a circular
stone was found, and to it were fixed two copper plates in the Salh or
cave characters. The inscriptions read thus: 'Whatever meritorious acts
proceed from cause of these the source Tathagata (Buddha) has declared;
the opposing principle of these the great one of golden origin has also
demonstrated;' or, in other words, Whatever merit may proceed from these
acts, Buddha has explained its source to you, and also the opposite
principle of these acts; he has also demonstrated to you the one of
golden origin. This discovery establishes the fact that these caves are
of Buddhist origin, and probably date from the beginning of the
Christian era."

[8] The Saivi Hindoos are those who worship Siva or Shiva, one of the
Brahman Trinity, as chief god; the lingam or phallus is sacred to him.
Their chief act of worship is performed on the fourteenth night of the
dark half of every moon. They fast during the day, and at night repair
to their temples, repeat the names of their god--of which there are no
less than one thousand, all expressive of certain spiritual and physical
qualities, passions, acts, etc.--pour the leaves of the bheel tree,
sacred to Shiva, because they are heart-shaped, over the lingam, then
rub it with oil, and finally sprinkle it with consecrated water. At the
Shivaratri, or the night of Shiva, which falls once a year on a dark
night, a fair is held at the caves of Elephanta during the day, and a
night-vigil from eight o'clock till five in the morning, accompanied
with music, prayer, and other strange ceremonies.


     Sampwallahs, or Serpent-Charmers.--Jâdoowallahs, or
     Miracle-performers.--Nuzer-bundyânâ, Mesmerizers.--Yogees,
     Spiritual Jugglers, and Naga-Poojmi, or Serpent-Worship, in India.

Life in the East is altogether so novel, so full of dramatic sights and
sounds, that one's curiosity seems to grow with the abundant nourishment
it finds everywhere. Now one sees a Mohammedan funeral, or the
procession of gorgeous Taboots of Moslems, or gods of the Hindoos; anon
the body of a Hindoo or a Parsee borne on an open bier by white-robed
priests, the one to be burned, the other to be abandoned to birds of
prey in their strange silent "towers of the dead." Sometimes a gay
procession of dancing-girls, followed by troops of men and elephants
richly caparisoned, waltzing all the way to the temple and keeping time
to the pipes, cymbals, and the beating of most discordant drums; at
others, a poor funeral of some low-caste person, quiet and
unpretending--an open bier, on it perhaps an only child in its every-day
soiled garments, followed by women wailing and beating their breasts and
throwing dust on their heads. This wailing is inexpressibly mournful.
One morning, as I sat at work in my room, there came floating upon the
breeze toward the "Aviary" a sharp, penetrating, and very peculiar cry.
While I listened there came another and another of these unearthly
sounds; again they were repeated, and all at once there appeared in
sight a band of half-naked men accompanied by two women and a perfectly
nude little child--all so strange and weird-looking that I almost felt
the victim of some illusion.

They were a band of sampwallahs, or serpent-charmers, and in rather a
bewildered state of mind I watched the gang approach the front of the
house and take their places around the doorsteps. Having deposited their
bags and baskets, they proceeded to salââm before me. I could not summon
resolution to send them away, as my curiosity was gradually getting
better of my fears, nor could I bring myself to witness their
performance in the absence of my husband. I therefore sent a message to
the one who seemed the headman of the band by my "ayah," or maid, to
inquire if they would not go away now and return in the afternoon about
four o'clock. "Return? Why, what is to prevent us from remaining just
where we are until the master comes home?" I could see no just reason
save my own fears to have them lounging around my lonely house, and in
spite of these concluded to let them stay.

Strange it was to see these, to me almost supernatural men and women,
enjoying themselves as naturally and innocently for three or four full
hours as did this company of wild serpent-charmers and jugglers. The two
women of the party searched for the most delicate and polished pebbles
to be found in the gravelled walks of the garden, and entertained
themselves by digging holes in the sand and rolling their pebbles with
great skill into these, hitting off one with another, and seeming to
think it capital sport. Some of the men took some caiah, or
cocoanut-fibre, out of their bags and proceeded to twist a rope out of
it. Some lighted long pipes and began to smoke quietly, stroking down
the cobra de capellos, who would poke their heads from under the baskets
by their sides. The boy of the party had a bit of rag spread for him
under an adjoining tree, and here he stretched himself at full length to
sleep, with a basket of snakes for his pillow. Every now and then the
upper lid of this basket seemed to open and a snake would thrust out his
head, as if to survey the sleeping boy, then as suddenly withdraw. All
the while the beautiful sea gleamed and sparkled and dashed against the
rocks in front of the "Aviary," and completed this strange picture.


A little after four o'clock my husband arrived, and, seated on the steps
of the "Aviary," we witnessed some most astonishing performances. Before
beginning his music, and while the women were girding themselves for
action, the snake-charmer paid us some very startling and original
compliments. All at once, seizing his bagpipe-like instrument and
puffing out his polished black cheeks, he produced the same queer melody
that I had first heard, with its endless reverberations, creating a
strange effect upon one's nerves. The women kept time to these sounds by
motions the most gently waving that one could conceive of. When the
sounds were low and faint they waved their arms and bent downward in
graceful undulating curves; then again, as the sounds began to be shrill
and piercing, they raised their arms aloft, turned up their faces to the
sky, and, poised on tiptoe, beat a rhythmic movement to the sound. The
dance was in itself a wonder of grace and flexibility. But, strangest
sight of all, the serpents were equally moved. In raising their heads
they had thrown off the covers of the baskets, and presently every
snake, large and small--and there were no less than six--had begun to
take part in this dance, their eyes glistening, their forked tongues
extended, their hoods spread to the utmost; they raised themselves on
the abdomen and swayed their heads to and fro, following the movements
of the charmers and seemingly ravished with the strange sounds. There
was not a doubt in my mind, as I watched the serpents, that they
distinguished the varieties of sound, for with every rise and fall of
the music they kept time with their inflated hoods and slender forms.

Suddenly the serpent-charmer started to his feet and began a wild
circular movement, accompanied with wilder and more energetic sounds,
which were reverberated from every rock of the hill. After a few minutes
he stood still, and, taking for a moment the instrument from his mouth,
uttered a sudden "Ah!" short, sharp, and guttural, and all at once
resumed his former movements both of sound and action. We involuntarily
turned our eyes in the direction of those of the serpent-charmer, and
noticed a slight movement in the grass and brushwood that covered the
ground-floor of the "Aviary;" and as we looked the head and neck of a
cobra de capello of large size rose above the grass. The strange reptile
approached nearer and nearer. He passed with folded hood through the
open wirework of the "Aviary." Out of it, he once more unfolded his
hood, and, waving it to and fro, looked like one suddenly awakened to
some subtle and purely spiritual influence; he leaped rather than crept
toward the sound of the charmer; every curve, every change of motion,
and every movement of the body betrayed an exquisite apprehension of the
peculiar waves of the melody. The serpent, followed by another more
slender in proportions, leaped almost into the arms of the charmer, and,
swinging their bodies to and fro, both snakes seemed to give themselves
up to the enchantment of sound. Very slowly but deliberately the
serpent-charmer dropped one hand, and, stooping over the head of the
largest serpent, playing all the while, grappled it just under the head
by the thumb and forefinger and handed it to one of the men. This done,
he proceeded to enchant and capture the smaller snake, which was
accomplished in the same way. Then he dropped his instrument, took a
curious flint knife out of his bag, and, pressing tightly the windpipe
of each of the serpents in turn, cut out the bags containing the
poisonous fluid and dropped the deadly reptiles, now rendered for ever
harmless, into the bags. This was done in broad daylight, in the open
air, where no deception could have been practised.

Some persons have suggested that these two snakes might have been
brought by the band and let loose in the "Aviary." Even if this were so,
it could not destroy the mystery of the influence which certain sounds
evidently exercised over the serpents, who voluntarily returned to
captivity even before the poison-bag had been cut out, the removal of
which, according to all testimony, renders them harmless and agreeable
pets. As far as my observation went, I am inclined to believe that these
snakes were perfectly wild till caught by the serpent-charmer.

When I asked him by what power he compelled these snakes to abandon
their holes and come out to hear his music, his reply was
characteristic. "Asmani ka jore se, Maim Sahib," translated into
English, would mean, "By the secret power of the heavenly motions."

The other tricks of the band were very wonderful, but not as absorbing
as serpent-charming. They appeared to cause a seed to bud, grow,
blossom, and bear fruit in the open air in a short space of time and
with but few contrivances. They showed us a mango-seed, which they
planted before our eyes in a pot of prepared soil brought with them;
this they watered again and again with a peculiar liquid, also in their
possession. Each time that there was a positive growth in the tree the
round basket which covered it was removed, and our attention called to
the fact that it was growing. When the tree had outgrown the basket a
large cloth was thrown over it. Finally, it was presented to us full
grown, and, though dwarfed in stature, with ripe mangoes hanging from
its branches. They invited me to taste the fruit, which I did, and found
it decidedly inferior in flavor to the most ordinary mango produced in
the natural way. The curious part of this feat is this, that the tree
itself, supposing they carried it about with them, had that fresh and
vigorous look of active life and growth which it could not possibly
retain out of the earth in a hot climate for any length of time without
a very delicate and careful knowledge of how to preserve plant-life on
the part of these apparently savage jugglers. I have also seen them
produce flowers on plants in the same way.

A great many other feats and tricks were performed, such as throwing up
a top, and not only catching it on the end of a slender stick, but
balancing it on the point of the nose, and causing it, without any new
impetus to stop or to go on spinning at the request of the spectator.

Some of the tricks are called _nuzzerbund_, "blindfolding" or
mesmerizing the spectator. A ring is placed in your hand and you are
requested to hold the hand tightly between your folded knees, and when
you look again you find a little dust. One of these tricks, called
_khano-nuzzerbund_, "ears and eyes bound," is that of a small boy being
put into a basket and made to disappear and reappear. Our juggler
produced a small basket and beckoned to the boy to get into it, which he
did; two of the men then produced instruments that looked like
flageolets and began to play, moving round the head of the child. This
seemed to have a peculiar effect on the boy, who appeared like one in
paroxysms of pain. It was very distressing to witness his convulsions,
and even while we looked the child began to disappear in the basket.
The moment he was out of sight the musicians seized long knives and fell
upon the basket and pierced it with many thrusts, and it seemed certain
that the child was not in it, nor could we see him anywhere. Presently
they straightened out the basket and resumed their music, when, all at
once, from afar the clear answering voice of the child was heard; nearer
and nearer came the sound, until the basket swelled and distended, and,
lo! there was the boy peering from under the lid serene and smiling.

These jugglers call themselves Jâdoo-wallahs, and are of the same tribe
as the Yogees who follow the Mohammedan processions and cut themselves
with knives and sharpened flints in order to extract money from the more
tender-hearted of the crowds who always frequent such spectacles. The
name of Jâdoo-wallah is a corruption of the words Yahdèo-Wallah, "filled
with god-power." The common people believe that these powers are
bestowed upon them by the gods, and thus do everything and anything in
their power to propitiate the goodwill of the Jâdoo-wallahs. As acrobats
they far surpass the Europeans. One of the men who performed for us
received on his right shoulder, as lightly as if it had been a feather,
a heavy weight which was dropped from an over-hanging branch of a tree

It was dusk before the jugglers and serpent-charmers finished their
astonishing feats and performances. We handed them five rupees, and they
were delighted with this liberality, though I had feared they would not
think it enough. They departed with the usual benediction, "Both burrus
Jeho Sahib loke. Tumarra bucha kè bucha Ingrage kè guddee per bait
jowoh" ("Long may you live, gentlefolk, and may your children's children
seat themselves on the British throne").

Not long after we had an opportunity of witnessing the grand
serpent-festival held in Bombay and other parts of Hindostan in the
months of July and August. It is called "the naga-poojmi," literally,
"serpent-worship." There are many tribes in India who have assumed the
name of Nagas or Serpents from the earliest times. Diodorus supposes
that the snake had been used as their crest or banner. There are three
kinds of serpent-worship practised in India, and each is peculiar to a
distinct class of people, although all the natives of India, except the
Mohammedans, either from dread of the deadly serpent or from a feeling
of veneration, join in the festival of the naga-poojmi.

The first of these is the worship paid to the serpent by the high-caste
Brahmans, who adopted the early serpent-worship from the non-Aryan
populations, placing the serpent, as a symbol of the masculine energy of
the world, in the hand and sometimes around the head of Brahma, the
chief god of their trinity; they adroitly represent that on the day
sacred to the serpent, Krishna, their last incarnation, slew the great
serpent Kali, who was just in the act of swallowing up the sun and moon.
The second is the worship made to the serpent-gods carved in their
temples by the non-Aryan and low-caste races of India, by whom the
serpent is regarded in the light of a benefactor and friend, and to whom
it was at one time customary to offer annually a human victim to
propitiate its deadly sting. And, last of all, is the worship paid to it
by the professional snake-charmer, to whom the art of taming the serpent
has been transmitted from father to son, and in whose eyes the serpent
is an oracle of wisdom, the harbinger of all good things, and last, but
not least, a means of livelihood to the tribe.

On the last day of the waning moon at the end of July we rode out,
accompanied by a party of friends, to the native part of the city,
where we were told the chief of the serpent-worshippers were assembled.
Here we found an immense throng of men and women gayly dressed, bands of
handsome dancing-girls in flowing veils and glittering jewels, and rows
of young maidens beautifully attired, with offerings of rice and milk,
and some with fruit and flowers tastefully arranged in baskets which
they carried on their heads; others with baskets filled with such
flowers as serpents are reported to delight in--the champu, the
marigold, the water-lily, the tuberose, and quantities of the
snake-plant commonly called _sampkèmah_, "the mother of the serpent." We
passed through the crowd and succeeded in reaching the centre of a great
_maidan_, or open plain, where we stood.

Not far off clustered a vast number of serpents, with their charmers and
worshippers. Immediately behind this curious assembly was a temple
dedicated to the snake-god. From within these walls the lights, kept
burning in great numbers, could be seen pale and ghastly amid the
daylight, and the sounds of the tomtom and gongs beat in honor of the
idol were heard; some noble old peepul trees surrounded the temple.
Right in front of the temple were placed great basins containing milk
and a preparation of rice and milk called _khir_, for the serpents.
Those, however, that fed out of the basins were mostly all tame; they
coiled in and out and round about the worshippers in a careless and easy
manner. But farther on, beyond the stone basins and amid flowers and
floods of sunshine, women dancing and men and boys singing, might be
seen the deadly cobra de capellos now and then inflating their hoods and
keeping time to the music.

The Brahman worship of the serpent is characteristic. Regarding the
snake purely as a symbol, each priest prepares a clay figure of a cobra
and winds it when in a plastic state round a tall pole, the upper part
of which is ornamented with a ring, which in its turn typifies the
feminine powers of nature.

On the day of the festival thousands of Brahmans, each with his pole
thus ornamented, accompanied by musicians and dancing-girls, the former
playing on their instruments and the latter keeping time to the music
and performing a mystic circular dance, surrounded by half-naked fakeers
and gossains, who keep shouting and leaping about, traverse the length
and breadth of the native town till they reach their temples. Entering
these, they plant their poles in front of the shrine of Siva, after
which they make over the clay serpent a wave-offering of fire, pouring
over it the oil pressed from the "telah," or sesamum-seed, sacred to the
serpent, and repeat the prayer, "Life has sway over all in earth and
heaven; protect us as a mother her children; grant us life, prosperity,
wisdom," etc.

On this day every Hindoo and Brahman woman places seven wicks in a dish
of silver or other metal, fills the dish with telah oil, and at
nightfall waves it around the portals and windows of her house. When her
husband returns he makes her a present, generally of a scarf, and she
then performs a curious and very mysterious rite: placing her hands on
her own hip-joints, and touching his with the tips of her fingers, she
prostrates herself before him and implores for him, from the god of the
day, renewed vigor, health, and strength.

The Nagas, or low-caste serpent-worshippers, assemble with the
snake-charmers in open plains, where all the tame snakes in the country
are brought together. After having fed these creatures, they offer up
prayers, each to his own deity, but mostly to the god Siva, for long
life and for protection from its deadly bite, making offerings of the
snake-plant, and to the priests of little lamps lighted with one or two
wicks for the altars.

The common people in the Hindoo villages also make clay images of the
cobra and pray to them. Most of the abandoned characters turn out on the
occasion of these festivals, and the night is spent in licentious
merriment, music, and song, while the snake-charmers, jugglers, and
Yogees obtain large sums of money and presents from the people, who
regard them in the light of divine benefactors to their race.

To understand the worship paid to serpents we must remember that the
earliest feeling which mankind had of a relation to invisible powers
must have been a compound of dread and gratitude, and in the mingling of
these emotions dread predominated. The dreaded serpent alone, says
Fergusson,[9] without arms or wings or any of the usual appliances of
locomotion, still moves with singular celerity and grace; its form is
full of elegance, its colors are often very beautiful, its eyes are
bright and piercing. A serpent can creep, spring, climb, swim, expand,
constrict, suspend itself by the tail, burrow in the ground, and even
raise its body almost erect. Its muscular irritability is remarkably
great and persistent, depending on its nervous energy. The heart
palpitates long after death; the jaws open and shut even when the head
is severed from the body; the outer skin is shed more than once, and the
ancients believed that by this means the snake renewed its youth. It
does not need food for long periods when casting its skin. It often
changes color at will, and, above all, its longevity is so great as
still to make the superstitious ascribe to it immortality. It makes no
nest (except in the case of the python, who hatches her eggs by the heat
of her own body); no food is stored for the young, who are born with
all powers in full perfection. Then the poison of a serpent is so deadly
and subtile that it excites in the heart of the savage the greatest
dread and mystery, and even more startling and terrible than the poison
of the cobra is the flash-like spring and fascination of the boa
constrictor, the instantaneous embrace, the crushed-out life,--all
accomplished faster than the human eye can follow. These are the powers
that must have impressed the primitive races of the East with dread and
terror, and wherever the serpent was found, there he seems to have been
propitiated by man with prayers, supplications, and all forms of
worship. It is perhaps strange that the serpent in the early period of
the worship was not so much dreaded as loved--whether from a feeling
that it was not as deadly as it has in its power to be, or for some
other reason, it is now impossible to determine. However, in the history
of this peculiar religion it is found that in course of time the serpent
began to be regarded as the harbinger of good gifts, the teacher of
wisdom, the symbol of subtlety, the oracle of the future, and even the
healer of all diseases.

All the gods, and even the kings and queens, of the old world are
usually represented with serpents coiling about their heads or arms. The
Hindoos most probably adopted this symbol of the serpent from the
aboriginal populations among whom they settled. "Sanee," the oldest
rock-sculpture of the Hindoo "Saturn," the presiding deity of the
seventh day of the week, has serpents for her belts or rings. She rides
on a raven, a bird of ill omen sacred to her, and no Hindoo will
undertake any new enterprise on the day over which she presides. As one
wanders through the forests of India one finds that many of the finest
trees served as altars to a generation long gone by. Their huge old
trunks have been hollowed out and carved in the form of oriel chapels
or windows, in the inmost recesses of which may be still traced the
faint remains of what was intended to represent the cobra de capello or
hooded serpent of India.

Sacred trees have from very early times shared a portion of the homage
paid to serpents. It would appear that while the serpent was made to
symbolize both the beneficent and dreaded powers of nature, the tree
represented man. The wondrous spectacle of a new creation every year,
the forest trees gathering their fresh leaves every spring, became to
the primitive man a steadfast promise of a similar resurrection, and
perhaps caused him to associate the tree with the serpent because of the
analogies that exist between them. The one shedding its leaves, the
other its skin, their mutual inactivity in winter, their awakening to
life in the spring, their longevity, the twig-like form of the serpent,
and a last, but not least, important fact is this, that wherever, in
India, the deadly serpent is found, there also abounds the mungoose,[10]
or snake-plant, with convex flower-clusters and long serpentine roots,
possessing the mysterious power to cure the deadly bite of a snake.

Thus, in the course of time, the serpent became an endless writing on
the wall, so full was it of mysterious significance and dread to the
ancient races of the world. In fact, serpents play an important part in
the mythology of every nation of the earth. Even to-day the
snake-charmers will tell you that the circles on the head of the cobra
de capello are spiritual eyes which enable it to distinguish between
good and bad men. If a good man is bitten to death, they account for it
by declaring that he must have committed some deadly sin in a former
state of existence, hence his punishment in this.

It will not be amiss to conclude this chapter with a mention of some of
the symbols for which the serpent stood in ancient times. It stands for
the higher and lower forms of the creative energy of nature; for the
emblem of evil; for wisdom and subtlety, as we all know, being
self-supporting from the moment of birth; for immortality, because of
its fabled longevity; for death, for new birth, and resurrection, from
its casting its skin and from its awakening in spring from the torpor of
winter. In the oldest hieroglyphics the serpent with its tail in its
mouth stood for cycles of time, for the horizon, for eternity, and for
life to come. Twined around the crown of ancient Oriental kings and
queens, it symbolized the fatal sting lurking beneath the power
entrusted to them; and bound round the royal sceptre, it typified
national life, vigor, and strength.


[9] See Fergusson's _Tree- and Serpent-Worship_.

[10] This plant is named after a large rat common in India and called
mungoose by the natives. It is said to have a deadly antipathy to snakes
of all kinds. It will hunt and destroy them wherever they are found. If,
however, the mungoose happens to be bitten by a snake, it is said that
it instinctively runs to this plant, gnaws at its roots, and thus cures
itself of the poison.


     The Parsees, or Fire-Worshippers, of Bombay.--A Visit to a
     Fire-priest and Astrologer.--His Astral Predictions.--The
     Gâthas.--Zoroaster.--His Life and Religion.--History of the
     Settlement of the Parsees in India.

The race which more than others attracted my attention in India was the
Parsees in Bombay. As we drove almost daily to or from the fort to
Malabar Point, we passed a Fire-temple, and there are also two others in
the old fort. These are held very sacred, and none but Parsees are
allowed to enter them. The one, however, which stood between the fort
and our house was less guarded, by which means it was more accessible to
strangers and visitors.

At my earnest request, I was invited by the wife of our Parsee neighbor
to witness the worship of this interesting people. It was on the
occasion of the "Khurdad-Sal," the anniversary of the birthday of
Zoroaster, that I repaired to the above-mentioned Fire-temple. Seeing a
large crowd centred about the building, I ventured to peep in, in the
hope of seeing my friend. No one paid the slightest attention to me;
presently a young Parsee lad came forward and conducted me to a quiet
corner, and I found myself the sole spectator of a very curious and
interesting worship performed by the Fire-priests alone, with a crowd of
Parsee women and children, and some very aged Parsee men scattered here
and there among them.

The building was quite small, circular in shape, with a sort of pent
roof, small iron-grated windows, and an iron-bound door, which was
padlocked the moment the service was over. Under the central arch of the
temple was a low altar on which burned a clear bright fire; the smoke
had no means of escaping but through the windows, which made the place
rather unpleasant to stay in for any length of time. A number of priests
clad in simple white robes and quite unadorned fed the sacred fire[11]
with the different kinds of precious woods, and while some chanted,
passing each his sacred thread through the fingers of his hands, others
dropped perfumes and consecrated oil into the Fire.

The Parsee women and children sat or stood around this central fire,
most of them beautifully dressed. I was struck with the beauty and
nobility of their faces as they worshipped here with their hands folded,
their eyes closed, listening reverently to the chants or praying
silently to themselves.

A great many silver trays full of fruit, sweetmeats, and white robes
were placed on one side, offerings from the women to the Fire-priests.

At the close of the service the entire congregation folded their hands
across their breasts, and, having bowed their heads, retired, leaving
the priests to heap precious fuel on the sacred fire, so as to preserve
it from going out, for which purpose the temple is regularly visited
during each day, and the fire is carefully preserved from year to year
by certain priests who take turns to perform this most religious duty.

One evening we went to visit, by appointment, one of the oldest
Fire-priests in Bombay, who was also a famous astrologer. The
appointment was made by our nearest European neighbor on Malabar Hill, a
Mr. S----, an Englishman who had lived a long time in India, and one of
our intimate friends. Although Mr. S---- was personally acquainted with
him, the old priest had declined to receive strangers until prevailed
upon to do so by Mr. S----'s Parsee friend and partner in business.

We started about six o'clock in the evening, and after a long drive
through the Parsee settlement of the native town and through a crowded
and noisy bazaar, our carriage drew up before a high, dilapidated wooden
building. The balcony projected into the street, supported by rickety
wooden pillars, under which there was a small garden filled chiefly with
herbs and plants. Mr. S----, who had often visited the house and was
familiar with its ways, led us through the little garden and up a great
flight of wooden steps into a corridor or hall, crossing which we at
length stood before a very old door which was slightly ajar, through the
opening of which a light streamed upon us in the dark passage. Mr. S----
tapped, and a voice feeble and tremulous bade us enter. We did so, and
in another moment we were standing side by side with an old Fire-priest,
perhaps the oldest in the world. He did not move or speak, or even turn
his eyes upon us.

An old Ethiopian servant present pointed to us to be seated on some
cushions near by until his master had finished his evening prayer. We
silently took our places on the seats and looked on. In the centre of
the room, which was woefully shabby and coarsely built, stood a
three-legged stand, and on it was a round earthen lamp filled with
cocoanut oil and containing depressions at the sides for wicks, of which
there were just seven burning. Before it stood the Fire-priest, his
dress, a long dingy-looking robe which might once have been white,
flowing down to his emaciated feet, which were bare. But as his lips
moved in prayer, and his thin dark fingers passed over and over his
sacred thread or girdle, that mystic emblem of his faith, there was an
indescribable reflection of some unseen interior light on his wan and
pallid features; he hardly looked old, so wonderfully was his
countenance lit up with a serene and beautiful expression of peace and

The floor of the room was made of planks roughly hewn and rudely put
together. A number of curious old parchments were piled up on one side;
pots, earthen lamps, vases, flowers, shawls, carpets, bedding, and a
number of embroidered silk cushions lay in seeming confusion about the
floor. The Ethiopian attendant, who looked almost as old as his master,
grinned at us from his corner, showing plainly that he had lost nearly
all his teeth; but no word was spoken.

His prayers over, the aged Fire-priest put off his long robe and dark
conical cap, which were replaced by a short gray angraka, or coat, and
close-fitting skull-cap, revealing a few locks of long scanty gray hair.
He then turned to Mr. S----, took both his hands kindly in his own, and
saluted him by raising them to his forehead three times, and then he did
the same to us.

After an interval of about an hour or so spent in pleasant conversation,
during which we learned that the Dustoor or Fire-priest Bhèjah was a
native of Surat, and had come to the island of Bombay about forty years
before with his family, every member of whom he had survived save some
distant connections still living in Surat, we begged him to read our
horoscopes for us.

The old Dustoor rose at once, as if pleased at our request, and with
great alacrity led the way through a long narrow passage and up another
old wooden staircase into a small chamber open to the sky by a curious
contrivance, a sort of trapdoor, which was let down in rainy weather.
There was a bench in one corner of this room; in the middle a circular
table which revolved on a pivot, painted with curious hieroglyphics, and
beside it a three-legged stool. As soon as we had taken our seats on
the bench, the Dustoor drew out from under the table a board chequered
black and red and a piece of chalk, and, taking the dim horn lantern
that stood in a niche in the wall, set it on the table. This done, he
turned to me and questioned me very closely in Hindostanee about the
day, year, hour, and almost moment, of my birth. All such questions as I
had it in my power to reply to he put down in what seemed to me signs
and figures in one of the squares on his peculiar black and red board.

This was a work of some time, for every now and then he seemed doubtful
of his operations, rubbing out and replacing the signs and figures in
new squares. When he had scrawled on the board to his satisfaction he
began to compare it with the hieroglyphics on his revolving table,
deciphering and studying the stars on each of his tablets with the
utmost care. He then turned up his wan face and began to gaze
alternately at the bit of sky seen through the open trapdoor and to
examine the strange hieroglyphics on the table. The stars presiding at
my birth were evidently unpropitious. He foretold for me many deaths
among relations and friends, long and cruel separations by strange seas
and oceans being placed between my friends and me; softening it off,
however, by predicting a long life, a happy old age, and a numerous
progeny of grand- and great-grandchildren; which, indeed, are the chief
sources of happiness in the Parsee household.

He then foretold my husband's future, which was even less auspicious,
saying that a great shadow of one of the planets would cross his path in
middle life, which if he survived he would live to a good old age, etc.,

It was not what the old astrologer and Fire-priest said so much as his
perfect faith in his own rendering of the position of the stars that
most impressed me. The floating locks of gray hair, the serious brow,
the deep, thoughtful, contemplative look on that face, were all very
striking: his head full of the mystery of the stars and his heart ever
revolving the secret destiny of human life were as strange and marked as
any of the many lives whose future he believed he could so easily

In the Zend-Avesta--or, more properly, the Avesta-Zand--the religious
books of the Parsees, we find the Gâthas, or sacred hymns, of the
ancient Fire-priests, and these in their turn may be traced directly to
the Rig Vèdas, the oldest of the Aryan Scriptures, a collection of a
thousand hymns, more or less, called "Mantras," or Mind-born songs,
composed and recited by various priests and poets, the earliest of whom
lived about three thousand, and the latest not far from twenty-six
hundred, years ago. These hymns, some of which are very beautiful,
composed and sung long before the Aryans left their home in the Hindoo
Kush[12] Mountains, were inspired by its soaring mountains--"roofs of
the world," as they called them--capped with snow, clear blue skies, and
by the rushing waters leaping in gladness out of the heart of the hills.

"They found the mountains ever near mighty to defend them, the lakes and
rivers eager to serve them."[13] "Sparkling bright with mighty splendor,
she carries the clouds across the plains; the unconquered Sindhui,
Indus, the quickest of the quick, like a beautiful mare, a sight to see;
by their swiftness, depth, as well as by the sweetness of their waters;
the birds by their delicious warbling; the winds by the fragrant dust of
flowers which they bore along on their invisible wings, the clouds by
their refreshing shadows."

Light, as seen in the sun, moon, and stars, dawn and sunrise, fire in
all its mysterious forms--the spark struck from the flint, the fire that
burned their oblations, the holy flames that were lighted on the
domestic hearth--became their earliest objects of worship. These they
celebrate in the Rig Vèda, and in these they saw, with their deep
intuitive insight, thousands of years ago, an "all-productive cosmic

Thus, the simple act of rubbing two dried pieces of wood together in
order to obtain fire became a religious ceremony, and the tiny flint
which served to kindle fire became their first idol, and gave those
ancient Aryans the first hint of the wonderous power of heat, at once
their god, the ministering angel of their lives, and their first step
toward civilization.

This vital fire of the universe, with every upward dart of flame issuing
out of the cold, hard rock, starting out of dried wood, streaming in
jets spontaneously out of the heart of the earth itself, and flaming
luridly from mountain-tops, was an object so full of mystery, so potent,
ever present, even when invisible, ever within call, lurking in the rock
and air, water and tree, waiting to be called into life, vanishing at a
breath, naturally became the highest symbol of the unseen to those
primitive worshippers of nature.

The early Aryan priest, who was to his race what our poets and thinkers
are to us to-day, on awakening at dawn turned his face to the east, and,
waiting for the light, cried, "Arise! arise! the breath of our life has
come, the darkness has fled." The fire had to be kindled by men. "She,
the Dawn, brought us light by striking down darkness.--Shine for us with
thy best rays, O thou bright Dawn! thou who lengthenest our lives, thou
beloved of all, thou mother of the morning clouds, leader of the days,
gold-colored and lovely to behold!" When the sun at last climbed the
mountain-tops and shone upon his worshipper, he sang a deeper hymn of
joy to the Creator: "In the beginning there arose the source of golden
light. He was the first-born lord of all that is. He established the
earth and the sky. He gives us life, he gives us strength--whose shadow
is immortality, whose absence is death--he who through his power is the
only king of this breathing and awakening world."[14]

These songs were not only sung, but transmitted from father to son, long
before the age of a written alphabet, as a sacred, inviolable
inheritance, preserved from century to century in the religious memory
of the Aryan priest, even as they were recited to us evening after
evening at the "Aviary" by our modern pundit without book or notes or

The pictures these songs present of the deep religious and poetic fervor
of the early Aryans, both before and after their descent into the plains
of India, of their pastoral and agricultural life, divided into separate
and distinct classes, as priest, king, shepherd, warrior, and tiller of
the soil, are in themselves the most comprehensive and valuable of
historical records.

The first and most important fact to be found in the study of these
hymns is that every home, every dwelling, has its own altar, which is
the family hearth, called the "dâdgâh" by the Fire-worshippers--that
"holy of holies" of which father and mother were priest and priestess.
This fire is the ancient "avesta," to which were attached three mystical
interpretations--first, "womanly purity;" second, the "inviolability of
the family;" and third, "the sacredness attached to the mother as the
transmitter of human life."

There is no doubt that from the Assyrians, Chaldeans, and the early
Iranians, who were then one with the purer Hindoos of to-day, this
worship of nature, and especially of fire in its triple significance,
was propagated southward among the Egyptians, westward among the Greeks,
and by them introduced into Italy.

The Greeks met together to worship in their Prytaneia. Here they
consulted together for the public good, and there was a constant fire
burning on the altar, which was called "vesta." The Vestal Virgins of
the Romans had their origin in the same idea. Many of the oldest and
some of the most modern usages still to be found among the Parsees,
Hindoos, Jews, Greeks, Mohammedans, and Roman Catholics bear reference
to this early worship of the "household fire," and many of the problems,
puzzles, and contradictions that are found in the religious symbols of
the world stand clear and evident when submitted to this light.

The word "Light" is used in the New Testament as the highest symbol of
Christ--"the Light of the world," "the Light that lighteth every man who
cometh into the world." Every instance also of God's acceptance of
sacrifice and prayer in the Old Testament is made evident to the people
through the medium of fire, as seen in the case of David, in the
dedication of Solomon's temple, and when Elijah demanded that
extraordinary proof from Jehovah that Baal was not God. From Genesis to
the Revelation, from the first offerings of Cain and Abel to "the city
that had no need of a sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it, for the
glory of the Lord did lighten it and the Lamb is the light thereof,"
this symbol of light is the dearest to the human heart, and ever
recurring and conspicuous as the fittest and purest to be applied to
the Deity.

It is as a symbol, not as a material element, that the worshippers of
fire have clung to it through all times; and their adherence and
tenacity are all the more remarkable when we consider the changes that
have passed over all primitive institutions. We ourselves have had a
succession of different religions and gods--the divinities of the
Phoenicians, then those of the Greeks and Romans, which superseded the
terrible gods of the Norsemen and the aboriginal deities of the Druids,
our ancestors. All these in time have given place to the sublime
teachings of Christ. Our religious forms are changing even to-day as
religious convictions become wider, deeper, and more comprehensive than

But the Parsees, those ancient Sun- and Fire-worshippers, still offer up
their prayers in the old Pehlevi--a language which is the elder sister
of the ancient Sanskrit--in which the Zend-Avesta, the sacred books of
the Zoroastrians, are written, and older by far than the cuneiform
inscriptions of Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes;[15] still wear the same old
conical cap in the form of ascending flame, preserved in the shape of
the bishop's mitre in the Christian symbolic dress; still adhere to the
rites, ceremonies, manners, and customs peculiar to their earliest
fathers, invoking the invisible fire upon which they called centuries
before the building of the temple of Solomon.

The race has survived the destruction of Babylon and Assyria--outlived
the beautiful gods of the Greeks, who beat them down by land and sea. It
has persistently overcome the hatred and persecution of the Scythian and
Tartar hordes, the rage and fury of the Moslems, the intolerance and
prejudice of all sects and nations, and, strange to say, even when
placed between the currents of new ideas, which ceaselessly move and
transform those around them, the Fire-worshipper, like the Jew, stands
alone, as if he were beyond time and above change.

From the time of Xerxes, four hundred and eighty-six years B. C., we
have to date the decline of the Persian empire. Even the old heroic name
of Iran--Ayiran, from the Sanskrit Ariya, "the noble"--has passed away
for the word Persia, which, whether we apply it to the country, to the
people, or to the language, is a misnomer. Pars, or Fars, is only a
province of the great empire of "Iran." It was owing to the fact that
the language of its chief city, Shiraz, was considered the most elegant
and fashionable speech of the Iranians that the name of the province
Pars was gradually used to distinguish the people, the entire country,
and the language.

To the ancient world Zoroastrianism was known by the name of "Mazdasnah"
or "Mazdayasnah," the doctrine of "universal knowledge." It was revealed
by the "Pure Spirit," called also the "Excellent Word," pure,
efficacious--"the word that Zoroaster has conveyed to men," which is the
"Good Law." The priests were called Madhi, or middlemen, go-betweens,
corrupted into Magi, which name is very commonly applied to the priests
of the Zoroastrian religion by the Greek authors, beginning with
Herodotus, who had travelled in Media and confounded the name of the
priests of Magism and the Median religion with that of Zoroastrianism.

It is impossible to fix exactly the era when the great reformer
Zarathustra--"splendor of gold"--lived. The Greek and Roman historians
make him very ancient. Xanthos of Lydia, 470 B. C., the first Greek
writer who mentions Zoroaster, is convinced that he must have
flourished about six hundred years before the Trojan war. Aristotle and
Eudoxus place his era even earlier. Berosus, the Chaldean priest and
historian, who translated the history of his native country, Babylonia,
into the Greek language, and dedicated the work to Antiochus, one of the
Greek kings of Syria, makes him a king, or rather founder of a dynasty
which reigned over Babylon between 2200 and 2000 B. C.[16] The
Fire-worshippers hold that their great priest and reformer lived about
five hundred and fifty years B. C. They identify him with the great
Kavan-Vistaspa of the Zend-Avesta, called Khai Gustasp in the
_Shahnamah_.[17] But it is very evident that even the ancient Persians
themselves were very uncertain as to who this Kavan Vistaspa was. It is
clear, however, that Darius's father, who was also named Vistaspa, and
the Kavan-Vistaspa of the Zend-Avesta and the _Shahnamah_, were entirely
distinct persons.

There is very little doubt that this confusion of opinions is owing to
the similarity of names. A very common habit even in India to-day is to
name persons after heroic kings, great priests, or even after the gods,
without any mark being added to distinguish them in after years; and
when any period of time has elapsed it is almost impossible to separate
the personality of the father from the son, or the disciple from the
teacher, or the priest from the god. Zoroaster, or rather "Zara
Thustra," means illustrious like gold, or, in another sense, simply high
priest; and this being taken afterward as the proper name of the
celebrated priest and reformer of ancient Iran, gave rise to the endless
confusion of dates and opinions which has always prevailed with regard
to the age in which he lived.

There is, however, internal evidence in the language and religion which
he reformed that he lived at a very early age, and there are many traces
of his great antiquity in the Zend-Avesta itself. First, that he stands
at the head of the extensive Zend literature,[18] which must have
required centuries for its growth, and which was already in a state of
perfection when Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born, from four to
five hundred years before Christ; and secondly, that he is expressly
called Aryana Veèdgo, "the celebrated one," in the Aryan home whence the
Aryans, now called Hindoos, emigrated in times immemorial. This title,
Martin Haug justly observes, would not have been given him had his
followers not believed him living at that early time. Under no
circumstance can we assign to him a later date than the year 1000 B. C.

The causes which led to the schism between the early Fire-worshippers
may be readily learned from the Zend-Avesta, where the gods of the
dissenters are called "dèvas" (to whence our word devil) by the orthodox
"Soshyantos," or Fire-priests. It was a vital and successful struggle
against that form of the early religion which inclined to Brahmanism,
and later to open idolatry. Thus, for instance, the Vèdic gods Aditya,
Mitra, Varuna, and Indra became the devils of the Zoroastrian religion;
and this struggle must have taken place when Indra was declared the
chief of the gods by a large portion of the Aryans, before they had
immigrated into Hindostan proper. In the later period of Vèdic
literature we find Indra at the head of the gods; then in the great
epics, the Mahâbhárata and Râmayâna, he gives place to the Trimourtri,
Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. A compromise was thus effected between the
esoteric doctrine of the metaphysicians and the common forms of worship,
giving rise to what was henceforth to constitute the orthodox system of
belief of the Brahmanic caste. The Vèdic pantheon, however, is not
altogether discarded in the Zend-Avesta; the existence of the old gods
is recognized, but in a very different way from that of the mysterious
triple divinity which represents not only the eternal, infinite soul,
but Brahma himself in his active relation to mundane occurrences; and
moreover, as the Trimourtri is never alluded to in the Zend-Avesta,
where most of the other Vèdic gods are named, we are obliged to fix the
religious struggle at a much earlier date than that assigned to the
Indian poems.

The only source whence we derive anything like reliable historical
facts, and those of the most meagre kind, respecting this great reformer
Zoroaster, is in the Yasnahs, where he is distinguished by his family
name S'pitama. His father's name was Poorooshaspa. Of his children,
only his son S'pitama and his daughter Poroochista are mentioned. In
these fragments, rather than books, he appears to us as a real man,
earnest, strong, and true, just and generous in every act of his life,
taking a prominent part in the history of his country and the welfare of
his fellow-creatures. It was he who struck a deathblow to the idolatrous
practices that had crept in among the Fire-priests--who established in
his own country a new community, governed by new laws; he called upon
every man to take his part in the battle between good and evil, adding
the firm assurance that good will always prevail. In his own works he
calls himself a "Dutah"--_i. e._ "a messenger"--sent by the great
Ahura-Mazda. His ideal of home, of father and mother living together
under one roof in freedom and love and unity, cemented by a supreme and
unalterable bond of love and friendship, has never yet been equalled
save by Christianity.

This remarkable reformer, according to the Yasnahs, was born in the
sacerdotal city of Ragha, near Teheran, the capital of Persia. His
father was an aged priest named Poorooshaspa, a man noted for his purity
of life. Like all such histories, his birth was miraculously
ordained.[19] One evening as Poorooshaspa and Dhogdha his wife, a
childless old couple, were praying in a lonely place, the atmosphere
around them became suddenly luminous. They looked up, and saw a form of
exquisite beauty standing in the midst of a bright cloud, and as they
gazed upon this beautiful vision there was handed to them a cup
fashioned out of an amethyst filled with the wine of heaven. "Drink
this," said the angel, "and renew your youth, for Ahura-Mazda has
chosen you to bring a savior into the world." Having drank the wine,
they became the parents of one son, S'pitama.

It is related that the ruler of the city of Ragha sought to destroy the
child; at his command he was snatched from his mother's arms and thrown
into a narrow lane where cattle passed, in the hope that they might
tread him to death; but, lo! in the evening a sensible and motherly cow
brought him on her horns to his weeping, disconsolate mother. Then
again, by the order of the same cruel governor, he was cast into a
blazing fire; but he lay there unscathed, smiling so serenely upon his
persecutors that they were at once converted into friends. In fact,
every attempt made by enemies to destroy the infant is said to have been
arrested by divine agency. At last the child was permitted to grow up
unmolested with his friends and relatives, who were among his earliest

Zoroaster did not so much reveal a new religion as reform the old
Fire-worship of his country. He abolished stone images, necromancy,
magic, witchcraft, all of which were identified with the worship of
fire. He investigated astrology, and confirmed its practices as true and
elevating. He inspired the old materialistic teaching of the
Fire-priests with a new and more spiritual meaning. He made war on the
idolatrous practices of his fellow-men, and banished from Iran all who
still bowed down before wood and stone. At the age of thirty he
completed a new code of laws, and also the Zend-Avesta, with the
Izeshnee, a still more sacred book. He distinctly recognized, above and
beyond all manifestations of sun, light, or fire, a purer, higher,
unconditioned Being.[20] When moved by deepest awe he bowed his head and
reverently called this Being "the Truth of the Truth, the Wisdom of the
Wise, the Purity of the Pure." So also in his famous prayer of
one-and-twenty words, "The world is produced, and all that is good in
thought, word, and deed, because of the Truth."

The problem of the origin of evil, the most difficult to be solved,
seems to have been constantly before his mind. It seemed to him
impossible that the Truth, whom he conceived to be eternally pure, good,
just, and perfect, had created evil. The ancient Aryans attributed the
struggles in the physical world around them to the strife between good
and evil; Zoroaster seized this idea, applied it with the deepest
emphasis to the moral and spiritual world, and it became the basis of
his system of dualism. Together with Ahura-Mazda, the good principle, he
admitted the existence of an evil principle or spirit equal in power and
of a similar nature[21]--Angra Mainyus; in Persian Ahriman. This spirit
is the author of all moral and physical evil, sin, disease, suffering,
and death.

All things, created by Ahura-Mazda pronouncing the creating,
pre-existing word "Honover," were pure, perfect, and beautiful as
himself until spoiled by the evil influence of Ahriman. And though
Ahriman, like Ahura-Mazda, has been eternal and self-existing in the
past, Zoroaster declares that a day will come when three great prophets
will arise, Ukhsyad-eremah, "the increasing Light," Ukhsyad-eretah, "the
increasing Truth," Açtvad-ereta, "self-existent Truth," who will convert
all mankind; everything created will become as pure as on the first day
when it issued from the breath of the "Wisest of all Intelligence," and
Ahriman will be destroyed and disappear for ever.

Such is the real doctrine of Zoroaster, while the hymns of the
Zend-Avesta glow and burn with the assurance of the mystic and essential
life of the soul with the spiritual essence of all pure thought. The
pure heavens are like light; thought is likened to a drop of pure light,
and the departing spirit has a sunbeam for its guide to conduct it to
immortal light.

In the Gâthas, or Songs, he says: "God appears in the best thought, the
truest speech, and the sincerest action. He gives through his pure
spirit health, prosperity, devotion" (which, more properly translated,
ought to be "love"), "and eternity to this universe. He is the Father of
all truth and the Mother of all tenderness."

It is very remarkable that the early Aryans looked upon disease,
deformity, and weakness in the same light that we are apt to regard the
depraved and vicious. Health was the first and greatest boon, the gift
they supplicated most earnestly from heaven. Health first, then
immortality. They seemed to loathe consumption and scrofula, and many of
their most energetic prayers are supplications to the Deity to be
preserved "from this hateful indwelling sin," as they termed it. Their
laws for the happy treatment of women, especially in certain conditions
of health, of which I shall treat in the chapter on their domestic life,
is full of that reverence for her health and happiness, as well as those
of her offspring, which is seen to penetrate the whole life of the
Fire-worshipper, passing as it did in the course of time into a rigid
etiquette. Stern as it is, it is infinitely better than the careless
indifference with which the mother, "the transmitter of human life," is
so often regarded among us.

In the Zend-Avesta we find a moral code almost as perfect as our own,
with rather a singular account of the creation. In one of the books,
called "Desater," it would seem all animals being created except man,
the dog was dreadfully lonely, and that man was created only out of
compassion for him; and no sooner was man formed than all the animals,
save the dog, broke out into open rebellion against the Great Spirit for
having favored man with speech, reason, and immortality.

As in Genesis, so in the Desater, the Great Spirit brought the animals
to Gelshadèng and made them subject to him, and he it was who divided
them into seven classes. There is a curious dialogue that passed between
the seven great sages of Persia and the seven different animals, and the
reasons given why some are made fierce, others harmless, and yet others
beneficent. In some passages great veneration is expressed for the cow,
and great aversion to some animals, and to the human corpse; this is not
permitted either to find a resting-place in the earth or in the fire,
because of the sacredness of both these elements; and it is commanded
that it be abandoned to birds of prey or to absorption by the air in
enclosures set apart for the purpose.

However, in spite of many things that seem childish and absurd in their
books (the unprejudiced student is not always certain that the right
meaning of the text has been rendered, for the language is full of
difficulties), yet so much is clear: that the "Gâthas" are very
beautiful hymns and full of true religious feeling. They are addressed
to the household fire, to the sun, moon, and stars, to the spirit of the
hills, mountains, trees, birds, and flowers, to the earth, air, and sea.
The earth is often called the "infinite, the all-nourishing cow," and
the sun is consequently, by the same figure, designated "the
fiery-winged one, the immortal bull."

Then there are prayers and songs to the spirits of the righteous dead,
to the seven high angels around the throne, the planets then known. The
most spiritual are those addressed to Ahura-Mazda, "the Everlasting
Light," who is described as an ineffable Being, full of brightness and
glory. Zoroaster discovers God in the eternal invisible Fire. His wonder
and joy over the first kindling of the flame arose from the spiritual
symbolism that interpreted all nature to him. In it he recognizes the
type of the immortal Light and the spiritual resurrection of the soul.
Thrilling with religious fervor, he bows before the radiant light as the
most subtle and all-dissolving element, and in feeling its mystery
acknowledges the mystery of God, its Supreme Creator.

Thus, all the rites and ceremonies of the ancient Fire-worshippers
abound in symbols which typify the operations of nature, not only in the
heavens, but also in the hidden recesses of the earth. They attribute
the maturing of precious gems and metals to the peculiar influence of
the sun, moon, and stars; and it is a curious fact that they called the
seven metals by the very same names by which they denominated the seven
planets, and the same peculiar hieroglyphic characters are used to this
day to distinguish both. Among them certain stones represented certain
virtues, and not a few were famed for their magical properties. The
months of the year were spirits who exerted their influence over certain
precious stones, which in their turn had power over the destiny of any
person born during the period of their sway. Thus each month has its own
presiding genius in the heavens and its appropriate symbol in the heart
of the earth, bound up with the life and character of the individual
born under their combined influence. The garnet, symbol of the presiding
spirit of January, means constancy; the amethyst, of February,
sincerity; the bloodstone, of March, courage and presence of mind; the
diamond, of April, innocence; the emerald, of May, love; the agate, of
June, health and long life; the carnelian, of July, contentment;
sardonyx, of August, happiness; chrysolite, of September, antidote
against madness, sane mind; opal, of October, hope; topaz, of November,
fidelity; turquoise, of December, prosperity.

Rings are still used among the more superstitious of the Parsees as
charms and talismans against the evil eye, demons, and most of the ills
inherent to the human flesh. Sometimes the virtue exists in the stone,
sometimes in the magical letters engraved upon it, which are thought to
have the power to preserve the owner from thunder, lightning,
witchcraft, the evil eye, from sin, and from taking cold even when
exposed to biting frosts and storms.

The ancient history of the Fire-worshippers presents no nobler picture
than that of Zoroaster traversing the wilds of Persia to preach a purer
doctrine to his fellow-men. Before his death he is said to have reduced
the twenty-one books he had written to three immortal maxims: Pure
thoughts, Pure words, Pure deeds. "All pure thought is spirit-worship,
or religion," said he, going at once to the root of the matter, "and all
pure actions are fed by the immortal dew of heaven;" this dew is
_virtue_, and he calls it the vapor which the pure-hearted inhale from
the heart of the eternal Sun.

What a nation does thoroughly, she does for all time. So it was with the
ancient Persians: centuries after the death of their great teacher they
kept their faith in one God firm and inviolate amid the most crushing
persecution. On the final conquest of Persia the unrelenting soldiers of
the Caliphat forced at the point of the sword one hundred thousand
persons daily to abjure their faith. Thousands upon thousands were
slaughtered daily; only a few escaped and fled to the mountains of
Khorasan, taking with them a lamp lighted from the sacred Fire. From
these mountains they were again driven forth by the Mohammedans four
hundred years after, and the little band of Zoroastrians fled once more,
to the beautiful island of Ormuzd, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
Here persecution still followed them, and, driven out again, the little
colony put to sea, still taking with them their sacred lamp, which had
been preserved from extinction through all those troublous years.

They had hardly lost sight of land when a terrific storm overtook them,
and their little fleet was soon deprived of all hope of escape.
Voluntarily exiled from their native land, they had fled from place to
place for protection; the mountains refused to hide them, the earth to
shelter them, and now even the sea and all the elements rose up against
them--all but their little feeble lamp, which, according to their
historians, continued to burn brightly in spite of the dreadful storm.
At length the high priest of Zoroaster resolved to hoist their sacred
lamp as a signal to the tempest-driven little fleet to join in prayer.
Up rose the horn lantern containing the sacred light to the masthead of
the dahstur's (or high priest's) vessel. The little fleet of boats and
ships tried to draw near to the precious beacon, but the winds blew and
the tempest beat upon their vessels. All undismayed, straining their
utmost and peering through the gloom, they turned them in the direction
of the sacred light. Then up above the din and roar of that angry
surging sea the prayer of that faithful little company ascended to the
Invisible, the shining Ahura-Mazda, for help in their sore distress.

Next morning the storm had abated, and they landed at Diva, on the coast
of Western Hindostan, where they disembarked, and remained nineteen
years, whence they migrated in a body to Sajan, twenty-four miles south
of Damaun. The Hindoo king, Ranah Jayadeva, granted an asylum to the

After centuries of cruel persecution the exiles at length found refuge
from the enemies of their faith among the Hindoos, who had separated
from them in the dim dawn of history because of a religious feud, but
whose antagonism touched only names and other non-essential rites, the
worship of light as the Creator's highest symbol remaining unchanged for
both. Though they had drifted farther and farther apart, the latter in
the multiplying of symbols, while the former gradually dispensed with
even those they once regarded as a part of their worship, they still
remained united in their worship of fire.

In 721 A. D. they erected their first Fire-temple on Indian soil at
Sajan, and the sacred fire was once more kindled on its altars by means
of their little lamp, the flame of which they had so religiously
preserved. To the Fire-worshipper this first temple on Indian soil
seemed a resurrection of hope, of reality, striking deep into their
fervent hearts and binding them to one another by a subtler and diviner
fire. From this time the Parsees rose to importance in India. They
greatly aided the Portuguese and Dutch settlers in the establishment of
mills and factories all along the coast of Guzerat. Owing to their
enterprising spirit, Surat, Cambay, and Baroda grew into large and
influential cities and attracted all the extensive commerce of the East.
When the island of Bombay was ceded to the British a colony of Parsees
emigrated thither, and, having purchased a part of Malabar Hill from the
British, built there a Fire-temple and a tower of silence, or tomb for
the reception of their dead, and here was brought the same sacred fire
and rekindled once more on the altar of their first temple in Bombay.

No country in the world has witnessed so many revolutions as Persia.
Nevertheless, the moral and physical condition of the Fire-worshippers,
who are still found centring about Yezd and Ispahan, has remained much
the same as when they called the country their own. They certainly are
superior in moral character to the Mohammedans of Persia to-day. In the
garden adjoining the harem of the present shah none are employed save
Zoroastrians, and this is because of their national character for
purity. As for the Parsee women, they are remarkable for their chastity,
an unchaste woman being unknown among them.

In Persia, however, the Parsees are subject to heavy taxation, from
which the Moslem population is entirely free, and the distress to which
the poorer Parsees are reduced in order to pay this tax is deplorable.
Unheard-of cruelties are practised, and many as a last resource abandon
their homes to escape the extortions of the annual tax-gatherer. All
means of instruction are also closed to the children of the
Fire-worshippers in Persia. "The Parsees of Bombay, hearing of the
distress of their co-religionists, have recently caused schools to be
established in various parts of Persia, where instruction is imparted
gratuitously to the children of the Zoroastrians."

When we remember that the Parsees of Bombay are the descendants of a
small colony of ancient Fire-worshippers who emigrated from Persia more
than a thousand years ago under circumstances the most overwhelming, it
is a matter of wonder that this people should have risen with the
progress of British power in India to wealth, honor, and dignity in
every condition of life. More than once, even after they had established
themselves in Guzerat, they were all but decimated by the sword of the
conquering Moslem. But up again they rose each time, creating anew the
old life, starting afresh on the same old basis, nothing discouraged,
remembering with deeper appreciation the old promise of their earliest
priest and founder, "that to persevering mortals the blessed immortals
are swift."

It is impossible not to be struck with the life and history of this
people--a history of endless defeat and persecution, a life of the
closest unity and steadfastness. And this oneness of purpose, by which
they have distinguished themselves for so many centuries, has a still
closer relation to their moral and religious character. Whatever may be
the errors and defects of the religion of the Fire-worshipper, the
comprehensiveness and unity of his national character demand our respect
and admiration.


[11] Minute instructions for the preparation of this sacred fire in case
of its accidental extinction or in the first building of a temple are
given in the "Fargard," one of the books of the Zend-Avesta. Fires from
sixteen different places are necessary. One of the most indispensable
ingredients in the building of the Fire is the flame by which a _dead
body is burned_, though the body itself is held as the most impure of
all things. Still, the fire which has consumed it is essential, as
containing the most mysterious of all created substances, "electricity,"
which is thought to be more abundant in the human body than elsewhere in
nature; it is called "naçupâka." This fire is purified by a very
extraordinary process. A certain number of holes are prepared in the
ground called "handarèza," or, in modern Parsee, "andaza," a measure.
The fire is then placed in each of these holes in turn, prayed over by
the chief priest with closed eyes, and blown over with the breath,
already purified by the prayers just uttered.

The dyer's fire, the potter's, the glass-blower's, blacksmith's,
bricklayer's, gold- and silversmith's, with phosphorus, beeswax,
odoriferous gums, many different kinds of wood, the ashes of the rose
and jessamine-flower, salt of various kinds, etc.,--all these fires and
substances must be brought, after having been purified by the prayers
said over them, to one and the same hearth or altar, called in the
ancient Pehlevi Dâityo-gatus, now corrupted into "Dâdhgah." The
collective fire, combined into one and thus obtained, represents the
essence of nature, the mystic wine of the poets, pervading the whole
universe, even to the most distant stars. This "mystic wine" or
"life-water" is held to be the cause of all the growth, vigor, and
splendor of the physical and mental qualities of animals, men, birds,
beasts, and plants. It is therefore regarded with the deepest reverence.
Before the collection and preparation of this fire the priests who are
to take part in the ceremony must undergo great purification for nine
nights, nine being the most sacred number, as it is the period in which
the human offspring is perfected. The priest must drink the urine of a
cow, sit on stones within the enclosures of certain magic circles; while
moving from one circle to another he must rub his body with cow-urine,
and then with sand, and lastly wash himself from head to foot nine times
in pure cold water.

[12] The "Hindoo Kush," name for the Caucasian Mountains.

[13] See Max Müller's _The Origin and Growth of Religion_, p. 195, "The
Gâthas, or Sacred Songs of the Parsees." See Haug's essays on "the

[14] See Max Müller's _Chips from a German Workshop_.

[15] See Max Müller's _Science of Religion_, Lecture IV., page iii.

[16] See Rawlinson's _Ancient Monarchies_, where he identifies Zoroaster
with the celebrated Median king Kudur-Nakhunta, and says: "A king of
Elam, whose court was held at Susa, led in the year B. C. 2286 (or a
little earlier) an expedition against the cities of Chaldæa, succeeded
in carrying all before him, ravaged the country, took the towns,
plundered the temples, and bore off the images of the deities which the
Babylonians especially reverenced. This king's name, which was
Kudur-Nakhunta, is thought to be the exact equivalent of one which has a
worldwide celebrity--to wit, Zoroaster. Now, according to Polyhistor,
who certainly repeats Berosus, Zoroaster was the first of those eight
Median kings who composed the second dynasty in Chaldæa and occupied the
throne from about B. C. 2286 to 2052. The Medes are represented by him
as capturing Babylon at this time, and imposing themselves as rulers
upon the country. Eight kings reign in the space of 234 or 224 years,
after which we hear no more of Medes, the sovereignty being (as it would
seem) recovered by the natives. The coincidences of the conquest, the
date, the foreign sovereignty, and the name Zoroaster, tend to identify
the Median dynasty of Berosus with a period of Susanian supremacy which
the monuments show to have been established in Chaldæa at a date not
long subsequent to the reigns of Urukh and Ilgi, and to have lasted for
a considerable period."

[17] A collection of heroic poems on the ancient histories of Persia and
her kings, by Firdoosi.

[18] See Martin Haug's _Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, and
Religion of the Parsees_.

[19] The Persian writers of the Middle Ages ascribed to Zoroaster a long
series of prodigies and miracles without end; to which both Pliny and
Eubulus, giving the last echoes of popular traditions, allude.

[20] The Uncreated, the Eternal. He has had no beginning, and will have
no end.--_The Yasnahs._

[21] To reconcile the existence of these two absolute Beings, coequal
and coeternal, the doctrine of the Zarvanians was conceived in later
times. This sect, which flourished about the time of Alexander the
Great, supposed an unconditioned existence prior and Superior to
Ahura-Mazda, Ormuzd, and Ahriman, called "time without limit,"
Zaravan-Akarana, from whom emanated the two spirits or principles of
good and evil.


     Domestic Life of the Fire-worshippers.--The Zend-Avesta.--Parsee
     Rites and Ceremonies at Birth, Marriage, Death, and Final
     Consignment to the Tower of Silence.

Before we cross the private threshold with a view to take a peep at the
domestic life of the Parsees it may be well to state that "Avesta," in
one of its deepest significations, is said to be the symbol of womanly
fervor and purity. Among the early Zoroastrians it was consecrated in
the _fire_ that burned on the hearth, which typified the inviolability
of the family, through which the sacredness attached to Asha[22] as the
centre and preserver of the order of the universe is reflected upon and
consecrated in the mother as the immediate centre of the home, "the
transmitter of human life," and the preserver of family bonds.

The ancient Fire-worshippers are commanded in their religious books to
watch over the woman in the home. It is a religious obligation. In the
first male child centre the past, present, and future glory of the
father. Children have always been the desire, "the crown of glory," to
an Oriental. Thus the mother became in the Zend-Avesta the "holy mystic
one," through whom man himself was born again as a son. She was the
goddess of abundance, the irradiator of his hearth and home.

While the procreative and nutritive offices of woman called forth deep
religious enthusiasm and veneration, the peculiar physical difference
which these entailed on her appealed to a dawning sense of chivalric
generosity; and it was a tender regard for her physical liabilities that
first led to the institution of distinct rules for her life at times and
seasons when she was most likely to be overworked, oppressed, or unduly
taxed; and these rules time has rendered fixed and absolute as the
Medo-Persic laws. But all through this rigidness of custom are seen not
only a tenderness for the weakness of woman, but a high appreciation of
her ideality and beauty.

[Illustration: A PARSEE LADY.]

"A wife cannot be set aside, save for the crime of adultery alone. She
may be superseded because of barrenness, but not a beloved and virtuous
wife. It is better to be childless here and hereafter than to wound or
grieve her for a moment. And in any case let her not be set aside but by
her own consent and free will." In all such cases she must be supported
and cared for tenderly until death. It was an unpardonable offence
against _God_ to leave a wife destitute and without support. Unmarried
daughters--a very rare occurrence among the Parsees--are entitled to an
equal share of the mother's estate. A wife is not responsible for the
debts of husband or son, whereas they are held strictly responsible for
hers, and the son is enjoined, as the highest duty to the gods, to
support his mother after the death of her husband. In a husband habitual
vices--such as profligacy, intemperance, cruelty--insanity, and
impotence, were held sufficient excuse for aversion. She was neither to
be punished nor deprived of her property in any such case.

A father is strictly forbidden to sell his daughter--_i. e._ to take
money in any shape whatever when giving her in marriage, but is
enjoined, on the contrary, to furnish her with a handsome dowry.

The Parsee woman is as independent in her home and marriage relations as
the European, although the universal seclusion of high-born Hindoo and
Mohammedan women has not been without its influence on her domestic
life. The first use of the veil among the Persian women was as a symbol
of dignity and honor rather than of concealment from motives of modesty.
In the early days of the Zoroastrians woman was held not so much as an
equal, but as something superior in the home. In social rights and
home-duties the husband and wife shared alike, and side by side they
ministered to the holy fires on their household hearths. In the
"Prajapatya" form, which, though _Vèdic_, is equally binding on the
Fire-worshipper, the bride and bridegroom are distinctly enjoined to
perform together their civil and religious duties. But the poetic love
and reverence which surrounded woman in the early days of the Aryans,
and which is still unsurpassed in all their literature, struck deeper
than laws or rules, and in a burst of generous and spiritual enthusiasm
"all men were commanded to bow the knee in filial reverence before the
mother of a family, declaring a mother to be greater, more blessed,
than a thousand fathers." Thus we see how much the simple fact of
maternity tended to elevate woman in the home. And the desire to foster
and protect her led these early worshippers to typify womanly purity as
ever sacred, and as ever ready to comfort and cheer the heart of man as
is the carefully-watched fire that burned on their altars.

But, alas! the rules and obligations which were originally intended for
her safety and happiness are now forged into iron fetters to bind her,
too often a willing slave, to the caprice of man, and have been used,
and still are urged, against her higher advancement to the privileges of
a liberal education.

Nevertheless, there are among the Parsees even to-day a few
old-fashioned observances which might be introduced with great advantage
to the wife and mother among the laboring and even richer classes of
European nations. For instance, even in the poorest families there are
certain days when the woman is considered unfit to cook, wash, bake,
sweep the floor, or light the house-lamp. So strenuous are the laws
against her working at these times that among certain persons her touch
is held to pollute the thing or person that comes into close contact
with her. She is forbidden to perform even the lighter offices which may
fall to her share in the house. She separates herself from the family on
such occasions. If she is too poor to keep a servant, her husband is
enjoined to do her part of the housework in addition to his own outdoor
labor, whatever that may be. The same rules apply to all female

During pregnancy woman is held sacred among both Persians and Hindoos.
Their laws are fixed and absolute on all points relating to maternity,
whereas in European countries women are often treated with less kindness
and consideration than the household and domestic animals. Disregarded
by man, she is too apt to neglect and overwork herself at such times.
But in the Parsee code of laws maternity and childbirth are protected by
deep religious obligations. "All harsh words, anger, sorrow, anything
that will occasion pain of mind and body, are to be kept away from the
woman with child." "She is forbidden all strong drink, all unhealthy
intercourse with neighbors and friends; she cannot travel from home or
from place to place, or look upon unsightly objects, or listen to any
but pleasant and familiar sounds." In fact, woman at such times is to be
guarded with an especial religious care, "as the household priestess or
divinity, who is on the eve of unveiling the future greatness and glory
of the family by the gift of a male child."

Another and a very old superstition among the early Aryans and Parsees,
if we may call these tender observances by such a name, is that the
living, thinking, intelligent soul (which is held to be distinct from
the life) of the child takes up its habitation in the heart and pulse of
the unborn babe forty-nine days, or seven times seven sunrises and
sunsets, before its advent into the world. This curious belief makes
them regard the mother at such times as overshadowed by the presence of
a divine being. Hence, before the "holy breath" has animated the unborn
babe the mother is conveyed with religious care to the ground-floor of
the house. There are both spiritual and physical reasons for this step:
that she may not be disturbed by the ordinary household cares and jars;
that the child should enter into the world on the solid breast of the
great mother of all, the earth; and that she may not undergo the fatigue
of climbing stairs, which Oriental women very much dislike. Here she
remains fifty days, and sometimes even more, before, and forty days
after, the birth of her child, tenderly cared for by every member of
the family, for to neglect her at such a time is to forfeit the
blessings of the seven high angels who are about the throne of

In the centre of her chamber there is an enclosed spot, sometimes
provided with a cot, and all around it is a low wall or a light fence to
guard off all irreverent approach. At the time of delivery her women
place her in this sacred spot, and here, in the heart and centre of the
Fire-worshipper's _home_, the newborn child is ushered into the world.

Among the Hindoos, and even among the more uneducated of the Parsees,
these observances have lost their original signification, and have
dwindled down not only to a mere ritual ceremony, but are corrupted into
a gross superstition. The poor mother is now looked upon as being
impure,[23] and her seclusion from the rest of the family necessary to
preserve the entire household from the much-dreaded pollution of
childbirth; therefore none of the members of the household will approach
or touch the mother--not from a fear of harming her, but rather of
pollution to themselves--until forty days after her confinement and
after she has undergone a series of purifications and performed a great
many sacramental rites.

The whole course of the future life is carefully traced out for every
child that is born unto the world. First of all, at the moment of birth
it is the duty of the nurse and midwife to carefully observe the time,
the hour, the signs, and marks, and any and every unusual occurrence
which may happen at the moment of delivery, particularly the aspect of
the heavens at the time of day; if at night, the appearance of the moon
and stars, and all such phenomena. All these and the exact moment of the
infant's birth are noted down. The newborn child is also carefully
examined as to its physical conditions, and these also are commented
upon and set down for the use of the astrologer. The mother too has
especial attention bestowed upon her; incense is kept burning at her
bedside; she is fumigated twice a day by means of a censer in which
odoriferous gums are burnt; tapers are lit and sent as offerings to the
Fire-temples, with wine, fruit, flowers, sweet oils, and frankincense
and myrrh.

On the seventh day after the birth of the child an astrologer and priest
are invited to determine the horoscope of the newborn infant. The
former, having ascertained the moment of birth and all other notable
things with regard to mother and child, begins by drawing on a wooden
board a set of hieroglyphics in chalk as curious as they are
complicated, and his dexterity in counting and recounting the stars
under whose influence the child is supposed to be born is marvellous;
after which all the assembled relatives press forward, especially the
father, eager and trembling to hear the astrologer predict in a solemn
voice the future life and prospects of the newborn babe.

According to these curious speculations, if the child is born at the
point of Cancer he will be a great man; if at the point of Capricorn, he
will be a great priest and reformer. Under the influence of the planet
Saturn he will be distinguished for intelligence (though some priests
hold the influence of Saturn to be dark and sinister over human life);
if under Jupiter, for power and physical strength. If he happens to be
born at the moment of the arrival of the sun at the summer solstice, the
child is looked upon as the favorite of Heaven, and every good fortune
is predicted as the result. Should the planet Mars preside at the time
of birth, they foretell great trouble and sorrow; if Mercury, poverty
and early death; under Venus, contentment and peace; and under the moon,
a numerous progeny. The astrologer then enumerates the names which are
the most appropriate for the child to bear, so as to mark his or her
astral relations; the parents make a choice of one of them. The
Fire-priest then takes the babe and places it on his knees, waves a lamp
lighted from the sacred fire over it, calls aloud its name, and implores
Ahura-Mazda to fulfil all the good and avert all the evil predicted by
the stars of heaven at the hour of its birth.

After the expiration of the forty days, and having undergone seven
purifications by fire and smoke and various incense fumigations, the
mother returns to the family circle as before, but is exempted from much
arduous work while nursing her infant.

I was fortunate enough to be present one evening at the house of Shet
Dorabjee, a Parsee merchant of Bombay, when one of their most beautiful
services was held. It was the simple act of lighting their evening lamp,
which in every Parsee household is one of the most sacred duties. This
lamp is poetically called "the dispeller of darkness." It is always
lighted in the evening, but goes out at dawn. Besides this, an earthen
and ever-burning lamp is preserved in almost all Parsee homes.

On the occasion when I happened to be present at the house of Shet
Dorabjee the front door was gently closed at twilight. The family, of
whom there were no less than forty-five persons, assembled around this
"hearth-lamp." My charming hostess and friend, the lady Shet Dorabjee,
repaired to the secret chamber, kindled her torch at the perpetual fire,
mingled its flame with her breath by lightly blowing on it, returned,
and lighted the hearth-lamp. Then the family all stood up--father,
mother, sisters, brothers, children, and grandchildren--no stranger
being allowed to join the circle. I stood aside and quietly watched the
scene. With their arms crossed upon their breasts while the mother was
lighting the evening lamp, they repeated this prayer (of which I
obtained the translation): "O Ahura-Mazda, thou who dwellest where the
sun never shines, where the lightnings flash not, from that world, thy
secret hiding-place, kindle our hearts to worship the pure Lord of
Purity;" to which the whole family responded, "So be it, O Divine

Consecration into the Zoroastrian religion takes place in the seventh
year of a child's life. First comes the strange purification by washing
the child's body and face with the urine of the cow. This curious and
disgusting custom is said to be handed down from the most ancient times,
when this liquid was regarded as a very effective remedy against any
disorder of the bodily organs. This done, a prayer is repeated, and the
body is bathed again in pure water. There is a second and a third
process, each called purification; the second consists of standing face
to face with the fire, and praying to the Light without beginning or
end; the third in repeating, with arms crossed, the Zoroastrian creed
and acknowledging the truth of the Zoroastrian religion.

The child is then seated before the high priest, who puts on him a linen
garment of nine seams and a woollen girdle of seventy-two threads.
These are the exact number of the sacred books of the Fire-worshippers.
These two are called the "garments of the pure and faithful," and the
whole ceremony is concluded with a benediction of fire and prayer, the
former being waved round and round over the child, and the latter being

The last and peculiar initiation takes place when the youth has attained
his fourteenth year. He stands clad in pure white among the priests and
his assembled relatives and friends in the Fire-temple. Here he repeats
his vows; the priests warn him of certain temptations that will beset
his youth and manhood, and the shame and suffering that will follow him
through life if he should prove unfaithful to the higher instincts of
his nature. They then invite him to drink the "homa" or "soma" juice,
and to join them in practising purity in thought, word, and deed.

The "soma," or moon-plant, is a round smooth twining plant peculiar to
the Aravalli Hills; it is also found in the deserts north of Delhi and
in the mountain-passes of the Bolan, and it is imported into Bombay. It
possesses not only medicinal, but, when allowed to ferment, slightly
intoxicating, properties. It is the privilege of the Fire-priests and
the most devout of the congregation to partake once a month, at the time
of the new moon, of this intoxicating juice. Those who are about to
partake of it generally abstain from food from sunrise till noon, which
is the hour for celebrating this ceremony.

A day or two before the appearance of the new moon the stalks of this
plant are bruised with the tender shoots of the acacia and with
pomegranates, extracting thereby an acrid greenish juice. This is put in
a strainer of goat's hair, after which it must be pressed through by the
priest's fingers; this juice, mixed with barley and clarified butter,
is allowed to ferment, when it forms the "soma wine." On the first
morning after the new moon is seen in the heavens the Fire-priests
repair to their temple, where, after certain prayers and chants, the
soma-juice is drawn off in a vessel; a portion is thrown into a sacred
well as a libation to the earth, a ladleful is drank by the priests, and
the residue is handed round to the people who are present. The priests
then join hands and wait for the stimulating properties to reach the
brain, whereupon they wheel round chanting a hymn full of mystical

Strange as it may seem to us, the exhilarating property of this drink is
supposed to shadow forth the presence of divine life in the soul, and
this life of thought and emotion is often poetically called "wine"--"the
wine that fills creation's cup."[24]

The Parsees in worshipping the sun turn their faces to the rising
luminary, and, holding before them branches of certain trees, chant
aloud. In our early-morning rides on Malabar Hill, as the sun made his
first appearance above the horizon, the white-robed priests of Iran were
always before us, crowding the summit of the hill; they could be seen
with their faces turned eastward, with branches of acacia raised aloft
in their hands, singing their morning hymn to the god of day.[25]

We knew personally several of the Fire-priests of Bombay. They seemed
less intelligent than the ordinary Parsees, and some of them went
through their religious duties mechanically and without any of that
religious fervor that I had noticed in the Brahmans; but I have seen
others who were both intelligent and extremely devout.

Among the Fire-worshippers the marriage of one's children is the first
and earliest consideration. Marriage is held a high sacred and religious
obligation, and mothers often pledge their children in marriage before
they are born, and if their children prove of the right sex their pledge
is held sacred. In most cases, however, the priests are the go-betweens
or the matchmakers. This is held as one of the most important of the
ministerial duties that fall to the care of a Fire-priest. As soon as a
Parsee sees what he and his wife consider an eligible mate for his son
or daughter, direct negotiations are opened with the parents by means of
the Fire-priest, who calls on the parties, and after some few
preliminary questions with regard to the temper and disposition of the
proposed mother-in-law on the part of the relatives of the young maiden,
the Fire-priest (who cannot proceed until he has examined the respective
horoscopes) demands the birth-paper of the little maiden in question,
who, perhaps all unconscious of what is going on, may be frequently seen
hiding behind her mother and peering timidly at the white-robed
Fire-priest who is about to decide one of the most important events of
her future life.

Everything depends on the positions of their respective stars. The stars
once declared favorable, however, matters proceed rapidly and the
betrothal takes place. This consists of an exchange of dresses from the
parents of the young couple; but so rigid are their rules that the
acceptance of this simple gift is held by each of the parents as the
sign of an indissoluble bond between the children.

Even the day for the celebration of the marriage (after the children
have arrived at the respective ages of eighteen for the boy and fifteen
to sixteen for the maiden) is selected by the Fire-priests. Indeed,
there are only a few days in the year held propitious for marriage by
both the Hindoo and Parsee. So many marriages take place on these
favored days that to a stranger it would appear as if the entire native
population was being married off.

We were invited to the celebration of the marriage of Munchejee
Sorabjee's daughter, a very beautiful girl and a great heiress in her
own right, her late uncle having left her a very large fortune. We
arrived early, so as to witness the whole ceremony from beginning to

It was a lovely place near Mazagaum. The house was approached through
grand old groves; there were rustic seats here and there, and inviting
grassy slopes whence one could catch glimpses of the distant sea. We
were shown into a spacious hall, where we took our places, with several
other European guests, on divans arranged along the walls.

Just before sunset the bridegroom's party arrived in full dress of pure
white, all save the turban, which was of a dark chocolate color,
ornamented with precious stones. Each of the gentlemen attached to the
bridegroom's party had garlands of white flowers around his neck. Behind
these came a long row of Fire-priests in flowing white linen robes,
white turbans, and long white silk scarfs.

The nuptial ceremony must always be held on the ground-floor, and after
all the guests, some three or four hundred Parsees, had taken their
places round the hall, there was heard a gentle buzz of expectation. All
eyes turned involuntarily to the great lofty door at the western
extremity of the room. It opened, and for a moment the young bride stood
still, hesitating at the threshold of the unknown future before her.
Presently both bride and bridegroom entered. I never saw a more graceful
or more beautiful creature than this young Parsee bride. Her dress was
exquisitely simple--white satin trousers fastened at the ankle, above a
pale blue silk bodice covered with some sort of rich white embroidery,
and over it all, wound round her whole person, half veiling her face,
was a semi-transparent flowing scarf, every curve and twist of which was
arranged with the most artistic effect. They walked in side by side. A
murmur of delight ran through the audience at the delicate downcast
face, the grace, and the beauty of the half-veiled maiden figure before
us. When the couple reached the centre of the hall they bowed down and
performed a sort of mystic prostration to Mother Earth in the presence
of the Fire-priests. They then stood up, joined hands, and waited for
the auspicious moment. All eyes were turned upon the youthful pair;
every one was almost breathless with tender expectation, save the
Fire-priests, who watched the sunlight fading out of the sky. With the
vanishing of the last shimmering gleam of light the ceremony began.
Torches and lamps were kindled with fire from their temple by the
Fire-priests, who approached the young couple, and, waving round them
the sacred light, sprinkled them with consecrated water; then taking an
immense "purda," or veil, placed it over one of their number and over
the bride and groom, who were shrouded beneath its folds for some
minutes; meanwhile other priests chanted the following hymn: "O man, in
the name of the great Ahura-Mazda, be ever pure and faithful, and bright
in good actions as the immortal Light. Be ever worthy of all praise and
honor in the heart of this woman, now thy wife. May the spirits of fire,
sun, and water give thee wisdom! May the peaceful earth, whose fragrance
is excellent, whose breasts contain the heavenly drink, fill thee with
the purity of the Pure and the benevolence of the great Yohoo mano
(beneficent spirit) toward this woman thy wife!"

Then the chant is addressed to the bride: "O woman of mysterious body,
be thou immortal like Kosru (one of the fixed stars). Be full of
understanding for thyself, thy husband, and the fruit of thy body, as a
capacious vessel full of love, fervid as the sun by day, tender and pure
as the moon by night; heavy laden as the cow (clouds) with moisture"
(meaning heavy laden with kindness, as the clouds with moisture). "Be
serene, be wise, be steady as the fixed stars. May Ahura-Mazda give you
fire for brightness and purity, the sun for exalted rule! May the
shadowless night give you the moon for increase and the sky for life

The instant the chanting--which was drawled out in monotone by the
assembly of the Fire-priests--ceased the great white veil was withdrawn,
and the young couple were man and wife.

The bride then, blushing scarlet and looking if possible still more
lovely than before, received the eager and hearty congratulations of her
friends and relatives, who pressed around her and embraced her. Her
mother and aunts wept with joy and poured tender benedictions on her
young head. It was a trying ordeal for the poor girl. I noted every
shade of feeling that passed over her face. She wore a look of
constraint, every now and then blushing crimson; she bit her lips in
order to keep herself from giving way to her own conflicting emotions.

After this came the bridegroom's turn to salute and be saluted by his
own and his wife's relatives. A knot of gay young Parsee gentlemen
surrounded him with welcome sounds of greeting and laughter when the
next important part of the ceremony began. A young Parsee lad,
magnificently dressed, appeared, bringing in a large bowl of milk, and a
charmingly dressed young maiden advanced, the younger sister of the
bride, with a _choole_, or vest, belonging to the newly-made wife.

That "there is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous" is
only too true, for this rare and unique ceremony was absolutely
concluded by the Fire-priests washing the toes of the bridegroom in the
milk, and then they rubbed his face all over with the cast-off garment
of his wife. As far as I could understand, the one was a sign of the
great future happiness in store for the husband, and the other that he
was no longer his own master, but henceforth under petticoat government.
It is but just to add that most of the Parsee gentlemen present seemed
to have outgrown this ridiculous custom, but the ladies smirked and
giggled and seemed to enjoy it immensely.

After this came the end. The happy but confused-looking young couple
retired (dripping with rose and jessamine waters showered over them) to
their new abode, which in most cases is in the paternal home of the

The Parsees have but few festivals; the birthday of Zoroaster and their
New Year's Day are the most important. The former is held in the month
of October, and it is a sight worth seeing. The men, women, and
children, magnificently dressed in gold-wrought silks and flashing
jewels, crowd the Fire-temples with offerings of fruit and flowers. Long
processions of priests robed in pure white take turns in officiating,
and chant after chant ascends from the temples to the shining
Ahura-Mazda, accompanied with invocations to the spirits of the
righteous dead, and to the seven high angels around the throne. The
beautiful half-veiled women, the lovely children, the noble-looking
fathers of families with their numberless sons standing at their right
hand, and the priests magnifying and feeding the sacred flame from
sunrise to sunset, form a sight as inspiring as it is novel.

Their Noow Rooz, or New Year's Day, is observed very much as we do
ours. The poor and destitute of all castes and creeds have alms, food,
and clothes distributed to them by the rich and great, poor relations
receive presents, and among friends kindly visits and gifts are

The costume of this peculiar people is exceedingly simple, and said to
be made obligatory on them by the rajah of Sajan on their first landing
on Indian soil. That of the man consists of a long seamless muslin or
silk shirt or tunic reaching to the knees, a woollen girdle with
tassels, and a pair of silk trousers; when going out he puts on a sort
of tunic, with a short silk vest over it; the modern Parsee gentlemen
has also adopted shoes and stockings. The cap or turban by which a
Parsee is distinguished is bound round a frame in the form of a little
round tower, slightly higher on the right side. The stuff of which it is
constructed is a peculiar manufacture made at Surat expressly for the
Parsee turban. It is a sort of stiff paper-muslin, figured, and
generally of a dark-red or chocolate color, bound round the frame
smoothly, till it is made to assume this one particular form of a
conical tower (typical of their earliest Fire-temple), around which
emeralds and rubies are arranged on great festal occasions.

The Parsee women that I met and visited in Bombay were, on the whole,
remarkably good-looking as girls; before they conceal their fine curly
hair they are really beautiful, and the children among the loveliest and
happiest to be found in the East.

The women are fair-complexioned, with a delicate brunette tinge, with
large eyes and regular features, often exquisitely formed, owing to
their dress being freed from anything like pressure on the body; but
they rob themselves of a part of their beauty by the custom of
concealing their beautiful hair under white linen bands bound around
the brow. They wear very wide silk trousers, gathered and fastened at
the ankles, over this a silk tunic, often descending in graceful folds
to the feet and bound at the waist, while a deep, wide scarf of silk or
some other light texture gracefully drapes the whole person and serves
at once the double purpose of a head-dress and a veil.

They occupy in their homes a much more honorable position than either
the Hindoo or Moslem women. They enjoy almost as much freedom as
European women. I used to meet them in the streets and bazaars, driving
in their open carriages, surrounded by their bright, happy-looking

So careful are the Parsees of their national honor that in the whole
island of Bombay there exists neither paupers nor prostitutes among the
followers of this religion. Polygamy is unknown among them. A wife can
only be put away for immoral conduct. She is tried by the Punchayet or
Parsee court, and if found guilty repudiated amid the whole assembly;
formerly she was put to death.

The ceremonies attending the death of a Parsee are very singular. When a
person is about to die he is conveyed to the ground-floor, washed in
consecrated water, and his face anointed with holy oil. A lamp or lamps
lighted from the sacred fire in the temple are placed by the dying man's
bed, and priests stand before him with folded arms crossed on their
breasts, and pray for him in a most earnest and beautiful chant. When
life becomes quite extinct the body is clothed in a new white cotton
shirt of nine seams and a sort of apron, which is thrown over the face.
This is bound by a new and sacred girdle of seventy-two threads. The
body is then placed on an oblong stone on the floor.

But the most curious part of all is, that along with the Fire-priests
the house-dog is brought in, and after they have offered up prayer and
praise in the presence of the assembled family, the dog is taken up to
the dead body of his friend and master and exhorted to conduct him
safely into paradise. If the dog should lick affectionately, as
heretofore, the face, or even hands or feet, of his dead friend, it is
held as a most auspicious sign of the dead man's ready admittance into
heaven. It is but just to add here that the more refined and intelligent
Parsees have outgrown this absurd custom and superstition; but the more
ignorant certainly believe that every dog has an angel spirit residing
in some star, whence it issues forth to convey the souls of the good
safely into heaven.[26]

When the time for the removal of the body approaches, lamps lighted from
the sacred fires burn around the corpse. The priests stand face to face
with the dead, singing praises to the immortal Light; finally, their
last prayer or exhortation to the dead soul is chanted. This done, the
body, covered with white garments, the hands crossed on the breast, is
laid on a long open bier. A number of priests robed in pure white carry
the bier to the dohkma or tower of silence, and there the long
procession of friends and relatives stand in a circle praying with arms
folded, heads bowed, and lips moving silently, while the Fire-priests
place the dead body on a long slide and slip it on the iron gratings of
this strange circular tomb, to be devoured by birds of prey.

On the third day they pray again in the Fire-temple that the soul of the
dead may ascend to heaven, for, according to their sacred books, on the
third day "he reaches Mithra (Sun-god), rising above the mountains
resplendent in his own spotless purity;" then he comes to the bridge of
the "_Gatherer_" where he is asked as to the conduct of his soul while
living in the world. If he is pure, a beautiful, tall, swift spirit,
called Serosh, comes thither with a dog, a nine-knotted hook, and the
twigs of the "Barsom;" these things are considered efficacious for
keeping off evil spirits and guiding him over the heavenly bridge
(Chinvat). Here a most exquisite form meets him, lovely and smiling, and
when he questions the beautiful maiden, "Who art thou shining so
brightly on the wide shore?" she replies, "I am all thy good works, pure
thoughts, and pure words, O man." She then takes his hand, leads him
smiling and joyous to the archangel Yohoo mano, who rises from his
golden throne and speaks thus to the soul: "How happy it is that you
have come here to us from mortality to immortality!" Then the soul goes
joyfully to Ahura-Mazda, and resides for ever with the immortal saints,
praising the unbegotten, self-created Light.

Though the Fire-worshippers believe in the resurrection, they do not
hold that it is to be made in the same body; their reverence therefore
follows the soul, and not the body deserted by its spiritual tenant,
while their reverence for the earth, water, and fire is so profound that
they hold burial, cremation, or even casting the ashes into the waters,
a sacrilege against the elements. The original idea in exposing the body
to the weather was Brahmanic--that of absorption by the elements. The
dead body was restored to the sun, air, and sky, to be reunited and
launched on the bosom of that "_vast Illimitable_" whence it had sprung.

The Parsees also hold all birds sacred, as a sort of spiritual agent of
universal purification, through whose agency all gross, unclean
substances pass into healthy conditions. For these reasons the towers of
silence which receive the dead spoil are open to the sky, and by means
of the bird of prey it re-enters almost immediately into the domain of
life and health and purity.

From the universal testimony of pagan or Christian travellers we find
that the Fire-worshippers of India are thought to be more honorable in
their dealings with one another, and even with strangers, than the
generality of Asiatics, and even than those peoples professing
Christianity. They rarely resort to written contracts, as their word is
the best bond. Benevolence is said to flow in their veins, so
conspicuous have they become for their love of charity. The Rev. Mr.
Avington, during his stay at Surat so early as 1698, bore testimony to
the fact that the Parsees there were ever more ready to provide for the
comfort and support of the poor and suffering than even the Christians;
and this reputation they bear to this day in India. The Bombay
government voted thanks so far back as 1790 to Sorabjee Muncherjee, who
during the scarcity that prevailed at that time daily fed at his own
expense two thousand people, comprising Jews, Christians, Mohammedans,
and Hindoos. Mrs. Graham, in her journal of a residence in India,
declares that she was enraptured with the simplicity, purity, and
never-ceasing kindliness of the Parsee community; and every one in India
is familiar with the name of that very prince of benevolence and
kindliness, the venerable Parsee baronet Sir Jamsetjee Jeeboy, knighted
by the queen of England for his unbounded charities, which are not only
unsurpassed, but without a parallel, in ancient or modern times. He has
done more in his lifetime for Western India, in feeding the poor,
releasing unhappy prisoners for debt, building causeways, founding
schools and colleges for the education of all castes and conditions of
men and women, erecting hospitals for the relief of the suffering poor,
benevolent institutions for the deformed, spacious resting-places, or
dhurrum-salas, for weary travellers in all parts of India, stupendous
aqueducts, wells, and tanks, than any other single individual, or even
the East India Company, for the benefit of mankind. Connected with the
Grant Medical College of Bombay is the noble hospital, the gift of this
Parsee baronet; and only a few years ago his family erected a hospital
for incurables near it. An ophthalmic hospital has been opened and
endowed by another liberal Parsee, Cowasjee Jehangheer.

The late Sir Jamsetjee commenced life in Bombay at the early age of
twelve as a street peddler, selling old bottles, and was called
"Bottle-wallah" to the day of his death.

In the short space of two centuries of undisturbed industry the Parsees
have placed themselves in competition with the foremost of the Europeans
in India. In liberality and enterprise they rank with the
merchant-princes of England, and may be justly compared to the most
famous merchants that America has produced in the last century, and yet
no question has ever been raised as to the commercial integrity of the
Parsees. In the Indian banks and various other stock companies the
Parsees are prime movers. They are almost the exclusive owners of all
the trading-steamers that now navigate the Indian and China seas. They
are great landholders, and many of the finest residences in the island
of Bombay are owned by Parsees. They have shared largely in introducing
railways into India. Jamsetjee Dorabjee is now considered the foremost
railroad contractor in India. The most difficult passes extending from
the Thull Ghauts to the Kustsarah Mountains, covered with wild jungles,
full of trap hills, mountain-torrents at one season of the year, and
devoid of water at another, were laid open and made as easy of travel by
railroad as the most finished roads in England or America. Many English
officers of the engineer department have declared the building of this
railroad across the Thull Ghauts and Kustsarah a more arduous
undertaking than that of the great Pacific Railroad across the American

Europe, during the great American War deprived suddenly of one of the
chief products so necessary to her industries, resorted to India for
cotton, and all at once the island of Bombay became not only the great
centre of trade, but soon attracted to herself merchants and traders in
cotton from the four quarters of the globe, each and all eagerly
competing for the same prize, the monopoly of the cotton-market.
Enormous fortunes were amassed in an incredibly short space of time, and
for a brief period the whole commerce of the great East and West seemed
to flow into the port of the small island of Bombay. Misinformed by the
English press, and seemingly unwilling to investigate for themselves the
true nature of the almost superhuman struggle carried on between kinsmen
for the preservation of State rights and the suppression of slavery on
the American continent, this eager crowd only foresaw what seemed the
most natural, the utter destruction of the great republic of the United
States and the magnificent future for themselves springing from the very
ashes of this ruin. Thus assured, and blinded to every other
consideration, even the wise and hitherto prudent merchants of Bombay
became dazzled with the prospects in view, and launched forth into the
most gigantic enterprises and into rash schemes for the utmost
development of one and all the various resources of the country.
Everywhere this feverish, insatiable thirst to profit by a great
nation's approaching destruction displayed itself. Men and women who had
never dreamed of speculating in stocks, the rich with his hundreds of
thousands and the poor with hardly a few rupees to his name, master and
servant, were alike seized with the distemper called by the few who
looked calmly on "Rupea-Dewana," "the rupee-mad." How changed was the
once happy population! What anxious faces, revealing lines of thought
and care, of midnight toil, of mingled fear and hope! Still, the great
drama went on, and for a short period immense fortunes were made in a
day. But no sooner had the whole island gained sufficient encouragement
to set on foot her gigantic schemes and rash enterprises, no sooner had
she at one final throw staked all on the ruin of the Northern States,
than came the appalling intelligence of General Lee's defeat. A fearful
revulsion followed: sudden panic seized the busy world enclosed in the
small compass of the Bombay "Commercial Square." Like a flock of birds,
the business population took wing and vanished out of sight. The banks
were closed, flourishing houses collapsed, firms disappeared, and an
almost universal ruin stared every one in the face. The very atmosphere
was filled with the despair of men who had so rashly staked all and lost

Painful as the lesson has been, it was a wholesome one, not only for all
classes of merchants in British India, but for Old England herself. The
merchants of Bombay are once more in their counting-rooms and
warehouses, the banks are as firmly established as ever, with a richer
experience and a more profound insight into the laws which govern the
moral as well as the business world; they yet bid fair to render the
beautiful island of Bambâ Dèvi the heart and centre of all the commerce
of the East, even as she is now, owing to her remarkable sanitary
conditions, the healthiest city in India. She is the second city in the
British empire in point of numbers, having a population of six hundred
thousand, and an average to the square mile exceeding that of London;
nevertheless, the average death-rate for the past five years has been
the same as that of London.



[22] "It cannot be denied," says Max Müller in his _Origin and Growth of
Religion_, "that in the Avesta, as in the Vèda, _Asha_ may often be
translated by purity, and that it is most frequently used in reference
to the proper performance of the sacrifices. Here the Asha consists in
what is called 'good thoughts, good words, good deeds--good meaning
ceremonially good or correct, without a false pronunciation, without a
mistake in the sacrifice. But there are passages which show that
Zoroaster also recognized the existence of a kosmos or _rita_. He also
tells how the mornings go, and the noons, and the nights, and how they
follow that which has been traced for them; he too admires the perfect
friendship between the sun and the moon and the harmonies of living
nature, the miracles of every birth, and how at the right time there is
food for the mother to give her child.

"As in the Vèda, so in the Avesta, the universe follows the Asha, the
worlds are the creation of Asha. The faithful while on earth pray for
the maintenance of Asha, while after death they will join Ormuzd in the
highest heaven, the abode of Asha. The pious worshipper protects the
Asha; the world grows and prospers by Asha. The highest law of the world
is Asha, and the highest ideal of the believer is to become Ashavan,
possessed of Asha--_i. e._ righteousness."

[23] It is now very difficult to ascertain at what period the "dual
principle" of good and evil formulated by Zoroaster was first applied to
the sexes. It is clear, however, that in course of time the masculine
energy came to be regarded as good and holy, and the feminine as evil
and unholy; and there is no doubt that from that time the original idea
of the mother as the household priestess or divinity underwent a slow
but radical change; and at length the fall of woman from the lofty place
assigned to her in the early Vèdic and Zoroastrian religions became an
accomplished fact.

[24] Omar Khyâm, astronomer-poet of Persia.

[25] The earliest mention of this practice is found in the eighth
chapter and sixteenth verse of Ezekiel, where that prophet complains
that the Jews turn their backs upon the temple to worship the sun.

[26] The dog is also brought in to be looked at by the dying man when at
his last gasp.


     Hindoo Treatment of the Sick.--Pundit's House Defiled.--Its
     Purification.--Short Sketch of the Different Races and of the
     Origin of Castes and Creeds among the Peoples of Hindostan.

The Hindoo treatment of the sick is quite peculiar, and I once had an
opportunity to witness some of its curious features during the illness
of my Sanskrit teacher, the pundit Govind. I was fortunate in this,
since only exceptional circumstances permit a European to pollute with
his presence the dwelling of a high-caste Brahman. Every one knows that
caste still holds the Hindoos under an iron rule, but it is difficult
for us of the Western World to realize, without actual experience, the
tenacity with which its mandates are obeyed even in an extremity.

For several days Govind had not presented himself to give his usual
morning lesson at the "Aviary." I feared he was ill, but did not venture
to visit him, lest my very shadow might pollute his dwelling and place
him in an unpleasant dilemma with the rest of his high-caste friends. I
began to be alarmed, however, on the third morning of Govind's absence,
and was on the point of starting off to his house, when I observed a
native woman coming toward the "Aviary," her scarlet saree fluttering in
the breeze and making quite a pretty picture in the distance.

I hastened to the doorstep to meet the stranger. She salââmed to me, but
positively declined to enter the house. As she did so she flung back her
scarf or covering, and from the sectarian mark on her forehead I knew
that she was a high-caste Brahmanee. She stood for a few minutes
breathless and silent, and I do not remember ever having seen a more
delicate and sensitive-looking girl. The saree, which was a scarlet
muslin cloth of Indian manufacture, and decorated with a handsome
border, covered her person from head to foot, leaving the left arm and
shoulder bare. I noticed that she had sandals on her feet and a number
of bangles round her arms and ankles. Her shining black hair was tied in
a massive knot behind and fastened by a gold pin, which also served to
secure the end of her saree as a veil and covering for her head. Her
features, form, arms, hands, and feet were of the most exquisite type,
and her complexion of a rich chocolate-brown.

She at length lifted her dark eyes brimming with tears, and with a
slightly quivering voice said, "Beebee saihib torâ douva daoh kuda ka
wasta; Govind ka jahn jata hai" ("Lady, for God's sake give me a little
medicine; Govind's life is passing away").

I inquired the nature of his complaint, but all I could learn from the
young woman was that Govind's stomach and legs had gone away, and that
his head was fast following his heels, which is the Oriental phraseology
for extreme prostration.

I seized a small bottle of brandy, a physician's mixture at hand for
cholera morbus, and some quinine, and started with the Brahmanee for the
home of Govind the pundit. In less than half an hour we stood before a
mean, wretched-looking bamboo dwelling, the walls of which were
plastered with mud and covered over with an attap[27] roof. It stood in
the middle of a small patch of ground neatly smeared over with
cowordure. In the centre of this yard was a flourishing plant growing
out of a large earthen pot buried in the ground--the Indian
"mehndee"[28] (sacred to the goddess Bhawanee), called _Lawsonia_ by
English botanists. It was in full blossom, with small delicate, fragrant
flowers resembling the clematis.

The sky was very much overcast, portending soon a shower or
thunderstorm; the air was hot and sultry. I stood for a moment or two
before the half-open door of the little hut, whence proceeded a low,
faint, tremulous sound which I recognized as the voice of Govind, my
teacher, enfeebled by his illness. As I stood there hesitating to enter,
the pretty little Brahmanee dropped on her knees before the door, and,
having saluted the presiding genius of the dwelling three times,
advanced, creeping softly in on her knees. At length I summoned courage
enough to walk in, but I did so in my stockings, leaving my shoes on the
doorsill. Even this was, as I afterward learned, desecration to the
Brahman's household.

On a low charpie, or native cot, standing apart within an enclosure
formed by a mud wall a few inches in height, lay the pundit, his eyes
closed, his features shrunk and wasted. The little woman, who I divined
was his wife, had already taken her place at his feet, which she kept
rubbing in a listless way, the sad expression deepening on her dark but
beautiful face, the great tears brimming her eyes and coursing one after
another all unheeded down her cheeks.

The dwelling consisted of two apartments. Through a doorway to which
there was no door I saw an old woman seated by a rude fire on the floor
in the adjoining room cooking some rice in an earthen pot, and before
her on the floor were a board and a rolling-pin, with which she had been
rolling out some wheaten cakes, piled, already baked, in a copper
platter by the fire. The moment I entered the hut she turned her
shrivelled features, and, seeing a white woman, she gave a shrill cry;
then, stretching out her bare, bony arms, implored me in piteous tones
to begone. "But, lady," said I, trying to appease her, "I cannot go
away. Govind is very ill, and I have some medicine here that may cure

Hearing her still entreating me to begone, Bhawanee begged her to let me
stay and give the medicine to Govind; at which the poor old woman,
shuddering, retreated to the inner apartment, resumed for a time her
cries, uttering them in a loud voice and in a tone at once piercing and
imperious, "You dare not come in here! you dare not! What reason have
you for daring to give my son medicine? I want you hateful Injrage
(English) to know that I would rather have him die, rather have him die,
than be polluted by your vile drinks, made of devils' blood and pig's
flesh; I would rather have him die." Rocking herself to and fro, she
kept her strange glittering, dark eyes fixed upon me, and repeated,
lowering her voice more and more gradually, "I would rather have him
die," till she seemed to be talking to herself. I really thought she was
delirious or perhaps out of her mind; but Bhawanee whispered to me, "She
is very old and very cross, and sometimes possessed of a devil."

All the noise made by the old woman did not seem to disturb her son, who
was in a deep sleep, his respiration so heavy and labored, and his
pallor so death-like, that I almost feared he was dying. But at the end
of half an hour he stirred and made a vain attempt to turn on his side;
failing, he gave a look toward the foot of the bed, where his
sorrow-stricken wife sat still and mute. Meeting his gaze, she crept to
the head of the bed, and, taking his hand tenderly in hers, sobbed out
in broken accents, "Govind duva piuh, tora duva piuh" ("Govind, drink
some medicine--just a little of the medicine").

The pundit opened wide his half-closed eyes, looked full and inquiringly
into his wife's face, and then turned them upon me. If I had been the
very lowest wretch on the face of the earth, he could not have been more
startled and horrified than he seemed at my presence. He almost sprang
up, but in another second fell back on the bed, and, putting his hands
before his face, cried feebly to his wife, "Wife, wife, what have you

There was deep sympathy in the voice of the poor young woman as she
exclaimed, "Oh, Govind, I thought you were dying. I did not know what
else to do, and Doorah has been gone since morning, and is not yet
returned. Oh, please take the lady's medicine. Never mind about caste;
we can do 'puja' for it, and be restored;" and the poor woman began to
sob as if her heart would break.

"What are my sufferings and death, that you should create so much
disturbance about them?" feebly moaned Govind. "Let me die, oh, let me
die quietly!" and again the deadly pallor overspread his face.

"Govind," said I in a very energetic tone, "drink this." I had already
poured out a little brandy into an earthen lota or cup, which his wife
handed me, and giving it back to her said, "Put it to his lips; he will
be better as soon as he has swallowed a little of it."

Poor Bhawanee, nervous and trembling from head to foot, tried, and tried
in vain, to persuade her husband to take even a mouthful of the
medicine. Each time that she presented the lota to his lips he would put
it aside, and turn away his face, muttering, "Better to die than pollute
myself with what I am forbidden to touch."

The old woman, who had never taken her eyes off me, hearing his voice,
began to moan, "Oh, beloved son, die, die, but do not touch their unholy

I did not know what to do, but, inspired by poor Bhawanee's entreating
look, which, though she said not a word, plainly urged me to persevere,
I once more endeavored to get the patient to swallow a little of the
brandy. "Govind," said I, "do get over your scruples, which are well
enough in health, but absurd in your fast-failing condition. Drink a
mouthful of this; it will help to revive you until your doctor comes. No
one need ever know that you have tasted brandy; I promise you to keep it
a profound secret."

"Do, oh do!" urged his wife--"eke gutta piuh--take only one gulp."

"Much or little, a drop or a whole bottle, are all the same to me,"
groaned the poor pundit. "You may not speak of it, lady, and no one, no
one may know it, but how can I conceal the fact from myself?"

I felt it was useless to persuade the patient to try the remedies I had
brought with me.

At this moment we not only heard the sound of approaching feet, but a
sudden clap of thunder, preceded by a flash of lightning, almost blinded
us as we sat in the hut, and down came a deluging rain. Bhawanee rose,
and in a state of great agitation begged me to retire by the back door;
but, casting her eyes on my stocking feet, and apprehending that my
European shoes on the threshold of her dwelling had already betrayed my
presence to her friends, she begged me to keep my place, when in
walked, all dripping, three strange-looking men, accompanied by Doorah,
her sister, who had been despatched in the early morning in search of a
doctor, a priest, and a soothsayer.

Bhawanee rose and bowed before them, and so did the old woman from her
place in the inner room. It was comforting to see the poor woman's
expression, which till now had been full of despair, replaced by a look
of child-like confidence and trust, though I doubted whether the Hindoo
priest, doctor, or soothsayer could do much toward helping the sick man.

The doctor, who was a tall, dark, and rather handsome high-caste Hindoo,
placed himself near the bedside of Govind and proceeded to feel his
skin, pulse, and chest and to examine the condition of his tongue, eyes,
and nails.

Meanwhile, the Brahman priest requested a pitcher of water and an empty
bowl. Furnished with these by Doorah, Bhawanee's sister, he sat himself
down in the middle of the room and began to transfer the water from the
jar into the empty bowl, drop by drop, repeating over each drop the
"Gayatree," the holiest text of the Vèdas, the most sacred and effacious
prayer of the Brahmans, and thought by them to be absolutely necessary
to salvation, while the soothsayer sat apart waiting his turn to perform
certain magical enchantments for the benefit of the poor sick man. The
latter opened his eyes once more and looked at his Guru,[29] or priest,
and said solemnly, "I am dying."

"Dying? you are not dying," said the doctor. "I will soon make you
well," whereupon he opened a bag and drew out of it some pieces of iron,
which he placed on a charcoal fire. While these were being heated he
took out various roots and dried herbs and began to rub them on a small
stone, occasionally moistening the stone with a little water. Having
compounded several queer, dark-looking doses, he, to my utter
astonishment, deliberately began pinching, thumping, and slapping poor
Govind--now on his back, anon on the soles of his feet. His sides,
palms, shoulders, elbows, knee-joints were all slapped and beaten. This
done, he branded with the hot pieces of iron the poor patient on the pit
of his stomach, the inside of his arms, and the calves of his legs; then
administered his queer-looking doses, which the unhappy-looking Govind
swallowed without a sign of remonstrance; and, finally covering him from
head to foot with a thick quilt, the Hindoo physician beckoned to the
soothsayer to complete the cure.

The soothsayer robed himself in a dress covered with strange designs of
men exorcising fiends, put on a cap to which was attached two or three
long cords, at the end of which hung little brooms made of kusah-grass
(a grass sacred to the Hindoo gods). He then took up the pan of burning
coals and scattered them over the quilt which covered the patient; these
he brushed off as rapidly as possible with the sacred brooms hanging
from his cap. This was to dispossess the sick man of some extraordinary
but invisible devil, which he then drove out at the door, running after
the spirit and howling terrific invectives on it for having dared to
enter the "divine precincts occupied by the _liver_ of a Brahman." All
this while the Guru, or priest, prayed, chanting in a monotonous tone,
over each drop of water that passed from the pitcher to the bowl, and
each of which was supposed to carry off with it the cholera of the sick

Strange to say, violent and absurd as were the remedies administered to
poor Govind, he not only bore them patiently, but seemed better; a
profuse perspiration having broken out upon him, it was looked upon as a
most hopeful sign and an especial interposition of Brahm.

In another hour the rain ceased; Govind had fallen into a peaceful
sleep; Bhawanee's face was irradiated with smiles; the old woman was
setting out their mid-day repast on a mat in the adjoining apartment. I
returned home, promising to call and see Bhawanee on the following day.
The next day, when I started off, I fully expected to hear that Govind
had passed away; but when I reached the outer gate of the yard enclosing
Govind's dwelling I found the pundit, although looking weak and feeble
enough, seated on a small stone holding in his left hand three blades of
kusah-grass. The old woman, who was in the act of tying up the lock of
sacred hair on his head in some mystical form, shouted to me to keep
off. I stood at a distance and looked on. He was evidently undergoing
the purification ceremony. Bhawanee, who smiled sweetly at me, was
holding before her husband a bowl of water, which he first sipped, then
flung a little of it toward the horizon, and washed his hands, ears,
breast, eyes, nose, shoulders, and feet, repeating over each member a
prayer. His wife then brought him a stick of lighted wood from the
household fire; he breathed over it, repeating the mystic word "Aum," "O
divine Spirit, resplendent Fire, purify me from all uncleanliness." He
then placed the sacred grass on his right ear (Gunga, the sacred river,
is supposed to have its source in the right ear of Brahm, the
sacrificial fire (or life) in Brahm's nostrils, so that when the pundit
touched these members of his person with fire and water all the
impurity entailed by my visit to his house on the previous day passed
away). Finally he took some sacred mud out of a pot which was handed to
him by his wife, and made the holy mark, the circle and the cross of his
caste and race, on his brow.

Meanwhile, Doorah, the sister, had been purifying the hut. First it was
sprinkled all over with holy water, smeared with cow-ordure, and lastly
fumigated with certain gums--a very sensible proceeding in a hot, moist
climate like that of Bombay.

And at length the poor pundit, restored to his normal condition of
holiness, was once more assisted into his bed by his tender and loving
wife. I smiled at them from a distance, and went my way regretting more
keenly than ever we were _so_ separated from one another that the
simplest act of kind interest on my part should entail on the whole
household a series of purificatory rites to last for seven days.

As long as there exist in social life certain laws, manners, and customs
by which the civilized man is distinguished from the savage, the
gentleman from the cowherd, the high-born dame from her lowly maid, so
long will caste, which is nothing more or less than social grades,
complicate the lives and destinies not only of the races of the East,
but of the West. The three great problems which yet remain to be solved
by the British in India are to do away with the degradation of man by
caste, the bondage of woman by custom, and the deterioration of
childhood through the influence of the one and the other.

Caste on Indian soil was not in its beginning an entirely arbitrary
institution; it was at first the natural expression of a high-bred and
highly-sensitive race toward an inferior and savage population among
which they had settled. It took centuries before caste was established
on Indian soil, and nearly a thousand years before it became
incorporated in the sacred books of the Brahmans in its present form.
But the moment that divine authority was claimed for it, that moment it
became to the God-fearing races of the East a law so subtle, so
intricate, and yet so absolute, that the most daring as well as the most
abject could not hope to escape its iron rule.

From the remotest times there has been a ceaseless march of tribes and
races into the vast peninsula called Hindostan, from which there is no
easy outlet, east or west, north or south; all points are equally
difficult and impassable--mountain-barriers on the north, with ranges of
mountains and circling seas on every other side. Nevertheless, pouring
across the Indus and straggling down the narrow defiles and passes of
the Himalayas, came wave after wave of immigration, pushing the earlier
populations farther and farther into the hills and forest-boundaries of
the occupied land. Each wave, borne down by the later arrival,
disappeared or retreated deeper and deeper into the heart of the country
till the whole of India was over-flooded by the great Aryan invasion.

In no part of the world are there found so many remains of distinct
tribes and races of men as in Hindostan proper. Everywhere in the
forests, in the most inaccessible mountain-regions of the peninsula, and
all along the sea-coast, are tribes and races who seem to have been
hemmed in where we now find them. The vast plains of the regions of the
Indus and the Ganges afforded no place of refuge to the retreating
barbarians. Hence, with the exception of some few who were absorbed into
the population of Lower Bengal, the Aryans drove all before them, even
the Tamuls, a partly-civilized people, who, having swept the earlier
inhabitants southward, were in their turn forced south.

From the latitude of the Vindhyan chain down to Cape Comorin, and in
the forests of Ceylon, the aboriginal populations of India are still to
be met with, living in detached communities, distinct in physical
appearance, manners, customs, and religions, not only from the Hindoos,
Tamuls, Moslems, and Parsees, but from one another.

Nothing annoyed our pundit so much as when he heard me call my bhistee,
or water-man, "a Hindoo:" "Hindoo nay, maim sahib, whoo jungly-wallah
hai" ("Not Hindoo-man, but a savage of the forest"). And, to tell the
truth, one could not fail to notice between the Hindoo pundit and the
coolie-bhistee as marked a difference as one sees between a high-bred
American gentleman of the Anglo-Saxon race and the newly-emancipated
American negro.

In crossing the Indus one comes upon the relics of ancient races in the
dark-complexioned, diminutive, but powerfully athletic natives of
Guzerat, many of whom are now the coolies or porters of Bombay. Again,
scattered over the Vindhyan and Satpurah mountains and the banks of the
Nerbudda and Tapti are other tribes of a very peculiar race called
Bheels or Bhils, probably from the Sanskrit word "bhil," which signifies
"separate" or "outcasts." The legends of these tribes, one and all,
trace their origin to the union of the god Mahadèo with a beautiful
woman met by him in a forest. From this union sprang a sort of giant
distinguished by his ugliness and vice, who, after having perpetrated a
series of horrible crimes, killed the sacred Brahmanic bull of the god,
and was banished to the wilderness of Jodhpoor. The history of the
Rajpoot princes of Jodhpoor and Odhpoor corroborates this account of the
Bhil emigration. The Bhats,[30] or minstrels, of the Bhils still reside
in Rajpootana, and make yearly visits to the countries of the various
Bhil tribes to celebrate festal seasons with music and song. The
celebrated Nádir Singh, a Bhilahah (that is, one sprung from the
marriage of a Rajpoot with a Bhil woman), was one of the most formidable
freebooters of his time until the establishment of an English settlement
at Mhau,[31] when he was compelled to discharge his foreign adherents
and renounce plundering.[32]

The Bhils are short in stature, thick-set, almost black, with wiry hair
and beard, but extraordinarily active and capable of enduring great
fatigue, delighting in flesh of all kinds and intoxicating drinks, with
which no Brahman will ever pollute his sacred lips. The chiefs of the
Bhils are called Bhomiyahs, and are generally of the Bhilalah or mixed
race. They exercise the most absolute power over their subjects; each
chief is styled a "dhani," or lord, and the most atrocious crimes are
often committed at his bidding. In order to limit this absolute power,
however, there are certain religious officers called "tarwis," or heads
of tribes, whose counsel must be attended to by the chiefs. The worship
of the Bhils is paid to Mahadèo, the high god, and Dèvi his consort, the
goddess of small-pox. A great number of infernal deities are also
propitiated by yearly offerings and pilgrimages to their respective

While the Bhil men are brutal, cruel, and drunken, it is a remarkable
fact that the Bhil women are chaste, gentle, and almost always very

Driven southward by the conquering Rajpoots, numbers of the Bhils
adopted the savage life of freebooters and robbers, which they still
retain, and the more wealthy settled in Guzerat and Candeish, where most
richly-ornamented temples and rock-shrines are to be found to-day, and
such as remained with the Rajpoots became hardy cultivators of the soil
or the bravest of watchmen when employed as guards.

In character they are sensitive on points of honor among themselves, but
desperate foes, revenging themselves, sometimes years after, for any
grievance perpetrated against one of their tribe. I remember an incident
related to me by my mother which is characteristic of the Bhil
freebooters and robbers. My stepfather was appointed to survey the
public road newly opened from Cambay to the confines of the great and
then almost unknown province of Guzerat. She had decided to accompany
him on his long and hazardous journey. Having acquired a fair knowledge
of the Guzerati language, she proved, as he had hoped, an invaluable aid
in settling disputes about payments of money for work done, and in
directing and instructing such of the Bhils, Khands, and other tribes as
were employed on the roads. Furnished with a sepoy guard and a large
amount of government money to defray the expenses of the road repairs,
they travelled for some time unmolested through the strange country. On
one occasion, however, they had pitched their tents in the village of
Balmere, and had retired for the night. My stepfather, fatigued with a
hard day's ride over the roads, slept soundly. The guards patrolled the
little encampment, which consisted of three tents, two for the servants
and sepoys on duty, and the other, a double-poled tent, consisting of
two rooms with a double wall of canvas around it, for the family. The
tumbril which conveyed the government money from place to place stood in
the corner of the room, near the cot on which my mother slept. My
stepfather occupied the adjoining room. A small lamp stood burning on
the tumbril, and the key had been carelessly left in the treasure-box.

About midnight my mother was suddenly aroused by a slight shuffling
noise. She raised her head, and, looking toward the spot whence the
sound proceeded, was horrified at seeing the shadows of the nude figures
of several men passing between the outer and inner walls of the tent.
Presently a gang of Bhil robbers opened the tent-door and stood before
her, confronting her, armed with bows and poisoned arrows. There were
six men in all, with nothing on their persons but _langoutis_[34] of
straw round their loins, and their bodies highly greased, so as to slip
away from the grasp of any person who attempted to seize and hold them.

Divining that their object was to rob the tumbril, the brave lady,
without uttering a single cry, sprang to her feet, standing erect and
seemingly fearless, and gazed defiantly at them. For a moment or two the
foremost robbers seemed to hesitate. Then the one of the gang nearest
her addressed her in Guzerati, and said, "Woman, we do not desire to
hurt you; we only mean to possess ourselves of what we need, the money
in that cart there;" saying which, he attempted to advance toward the
tumbril. To scream for help would imperil her own and her husband's
life, for these freebooters would at once use their poisoned arrows; but
to permit them quietly to rob the government treasury would be almost as
fatal, entailing on them endless delay, trouble, and perhaps even unjust
suspicion at head-quarters. The intrepid wife suddenly remembered that
the Bhils had a superstitious reverence for the person of woman, and
before they had time to reach the tumbril she flung herself on her face
and hands across their path, and said solemnly in Guzerati, "Only by
stepping over a woman's body can you obtain possession of what is
entrusted to the care of her husband." There she lay, not daring to
utter another word, trembling from head to foot, and anticipating
momentary death from their cruel arrows.

Minute after minute passed away, but she still did not dare to open her
eyes or even turn her head toward them. After lying there for nearly
half an hour, which seemed almost an eternity of agonizing suspense, and
unable to endure it any longer, she ventured timidly to glance in the
direction of the robbers, and, lo! their places were empty; the
tent-door was closed. The Bhil freebooters, hearing this strange being
address them in their own language, hurling at them one of their most
formidable threats, had vanished as softly as they had entered the tent,
vanquished by the presence of mind shown by a delicate woman.

On another occasion the military chaplain at Desa, a British station in
Guzerat, was on his way to seek change of air at Mount Aboo. At dusk one
evening he found himself surrounded by a gang of Bhil robbers; his
travelling-wagon was stopped, his driver took to his heels and fled; his
servants too had gone on ahead. Not knowing what to do, he addressed
them in Guzerati, and said, "I am not a rich man; I am a poor servant of
God, a Christian priest in search of health." Immediately the chief of
the gang gave orders that he should not be hurt. They stripped him,
however, and divided among themselves whatever they could find. Two of
the gang, presenting their short daggers to the poor clergyman, made him
march before them in his shirt for some distance. Every time that he
turned to remonstrate with the robbers they pricked him slightly with
their pointed daggers, till at length he resolved to take no further
notice of them. On and on he went. A great darkness had overtaken him;
almost fainting from fatigue, he sank to the ground unable to take
another step, when, to his surprise, he found that the robbers had
departed, leaving him to pursue his way through a wild jungle. He spent
an anxious night in the forest, retraced his steps to the village, and
by complaining to the headman was at once furnished with a guard and
every facility to pursue his journey, the law here being that if robbery
or murder is perpetrated in the vicinity of a village, the headman is
obliged to make ample restitution; and he has the power to levy a fine
on the community to indemnify himself for all the expenses that such
acts entail on him as patèl, or governor, of the village. The reverend
clergyman always maintained that his escape from death on this occasion
was owing to the fact of his being able to address the robbers in their
own tongue.

South of the Nerbudda, and in the very heart of the Vindhyan chain, are
the Gonds,[35] so called from their habitual nudity--a race of the
lowest type, jet-black skin, stunted, thick-lipped, and with small,
deep-set eyes. This race is often called by the Hindoos Angorees--_i.
e._ cannibals. They live in miserable huts, surrounded by swine,
poultry, buffaloes, and dogs, without any industries, literature, or
priesthood, and with few ceremonials of any kind whatever--worshippers
of serpents, demons, or anything, in fact, that inspires them with
dread, to whom they sometimes sacrifice their children or captives taken
in war. Such religious rites as prevail among them are conducted by the
aged and honored members of their tribe, both male and female.

Verging on the Gondwana[36] are the hilly provinces of Orissa, inhabited
by the Khands, no doubt a tribe slightly in advance in physical type and
civilization of their neighbors, the Gonds, the Thugs, and Sourahs. They
regard the earth-spirit as in rebellion against the Supreme Deity. To
the earth-spirit they direct their prayers, and seek to propitiate her
by human sacrifices. Their victims are called "Meriah"[37] by the
Oriyahs, and Kudatee by the Khands. These victims must not belong to
their tribes nor to the Brahman caste. They are purchased, or more
generally kidnapped, from the surrounding districts by persons called
Panwhas, who are attached to their villages for these and other peculiar
offices. They may be either male or female, and as consecrated persons
are treated with great kindness. To the "Meriah" youth or maiden a
portion of land is assigned, with farming stock. He or she is also
permitted to marry and bear children, who in turn become victims. If a
"Meriah" youth form an attachment to the daughter or even wife of a
Khand, the relatives indulge him in his wishes, regarding it as an
especial favor. These sacrifices take place annually, when the sun is in
his highest point in the heavens. The victim is selected by casting of
lots. The ceremony lasts three days, and is always attended by a large
concourse of people of both sexes. The first day of the approaching
sacrifice is spent in feasting, merriment, and prayers, which go hand in
hand with wild revelry of all kinds. On the second morning the victim
who is to propitiate the earth-goddess is washed, attired in a flowing
white robe, and conducted, with music, beating of drums, blowing of
horns and rude reed instruments, to the sacred groves preserved for
these rites. Here the assembled community implore the earth-goddess Tari
(called Pennu by the Shanars and Davee by the Rajpoots, who have in
great measure been tainted by their contact with these hill-tribes) to
accept the sacrifice about to be offered, and to bless their land with
increase of corn, wine, cattle, and so forth. After the offering up of
prayer the victim, whether male or female, stands up before the
assembly, draws forth his glittering knife, and passes his hand three
times over its sharp edge. He then deliberately steps up to the rude
altar of Tari, lays down his knife upon it, and, bowing his head,
worships the insatiable earth-goddess; then snatching up the knife, he
cries, "Drink of my blood and be appeased, O Tari," etc., etc. He waves
it aloft three times and plunges it into his side. Leaning toward the
earth, which he desires to propitiate in behalf of his fellow-men, he
slowly draws out the knife, pours his life-blood out upon her parched
and thirsty soil, and expires at the foot of the dreaded altar raised to
her name. Honored as no other creature in the land, reared for death,
the "Meriah," or doomed one, exults in the performance of this
self-sacrifice with a consciousness of being a savior of the country,
and has never been known to evade or escape the doom in store for him.

After this horrible sacrifice the human victim is cut into small pieces,
and each head of a Khand or Gond family obtains a shred or infinitesimal
portion of the body, which he buries in his field to please the spirit
of the earth. This is believed to aid not a little in rendering the soil
rich and fertile.

The Thugs, or "stranglers," are not unlike the Gonds in physical
appearance and natural characteristics. They live by robbery and murder,
and are banded together by certain vows which they religiously follow.
One sect of Thugs are called Phansigars, or "throttlers." It is their
practice to strangle wayfarers, whence their name, and appropriate such
spoils as may fall to their lot in these onslaughts. Efforts have been
made, through the British government, to put a stop to both these
religious atrocities of the Meriah and the Thugs, and in some parts of
the country with great success.

The Jadejas are a branch of the great Samma tribe once so powerful in
Sindh; they assumed this title from a celebrated chief named Jada. Their
arrival in Guzerat dates from 800 A. D. The remarkable characteristic of
this tribe is their systematic murder of all their female children.
Another branch of the Jadejas settled in Kach, or Cutch. These differ
materially from their brethren in Guzerat. They are half Musulmans and
half Hindoos, believe in the Kuran, worship Mohammedan saints, swear by
Allah, eat, drink, and smoke with the followers of the Prophet. But, on
the other hand, they do not undergo circumcision, and adore all kinds of
images of wood and stone. In appearance they are fine, tall men,
light-complexioned, handsome-featured, and have singularly long
whiskers, which are often allowed to come down to the breast. They owe
their good looks to their mothers, who are either bought or kidnapped
from other tribes; no females of their own are ever reared.

The Kalhis (another curious tribe) are evidently a northern race; they
are tall, well-formed, with regular features, aquiline nose, blue or
gray eyes, and soft dark-brown hair. The sun is their chief deity. On
the Mandevan Hills, near Thau, is a temple to the sun, said to have been
erected by the Kalhis on their first arrival in Guzerat. In this temple
there is a huge image of the Sun-god with a halo round its head. The
symbol of the sun with the words, "Sri suryagni shakh" ("the witness of
the holy sun") is affixed to all official documents and deeds of

A number of tribes may be found in the district of Bilaspoor, which
forms the upper half of the basin of the river Maha-Nadi--the Gonds,
already mentioned, the Kanwars, Bhumias, Bingwars, and Dhanwars--all
differing among themselves in physical characteristics, customs,
manners, and certain religious observances. Among the Hindoos here are
two tribes which deserve particular mention--the Chamars, or
Chamar-wallahs, and the Pankhas. The former take their name from their
dealing in "chamar," or "leather." They are the shoemaker and
leather-trading castes of the Hindoo communities, and have always been
held in great contempt by the high-class Brahmans and Hindoos. About
sixty years ago a religious movement was inaugurated by one of the
Chamars named Ghasi-Dhas. He represented himself as a messenger from God
sent to teach men the unity of God and the equality of men. He was the
means of liberating his tribe from the trammels of caste; he prohibited
the worship of idols or images, and enjoined that prayers should be
offered up to the Supreme Being, whose spirit should be ever present to
their minds without any visible sign or representation. The followers of
the new faith call themselves "Satmanes" or the "worshippers of Satyan,
the truth." Ghasi-Dhas was their first high priest; he died 1850. His
son succeeded him, but was assassinated by some Hindoo fanatic, but his
grandson is the present high priest of the Chamars.

The "Pankhas," or weavers, are also deists of a very high order; they
are the followers of a religious reformer named Kahbir, who flourished
about the fifteenth century. There is very little difference between the
Kahbir-Pankhas and the Satmanes-Chamars in their worship and religion.
The province of Sindh derives its name from the Sanskrit word "Sindhu,"
"ocean or flood," which name the Aryans of the Vèdic period who were
settled about the sixth century B. C. in the Panjaub and along the Indus
gave to that river. In the third "Ashtaka" and the sixth "Adhyáya" there
appears to be a distinct mention of the Indus River in the twelfth
verse, which runs as follows: "Thou hast spread abroad upon the earth by
thy power the swollen Sindhu when arrested (on its course)."[38] The
Indus is still called Sindhu throughout its course from Kalabágh to
Atâk; it is sometimes locally termed Atâk. From Kalabágh to Bâhkhar is
the upper Indus, and from Bâhkhar to the sea the lower Indus. It begins
to rise in March and falls in September, but, unlike the Ganges and the
Mississippi, it does not submerge its delta or inundate the valley
through which it passes to any great extent. Its floods are irregular
and partial, pouring sometimes for years on the right bank, and then on
the left, so that even at the height of the freshets the Persian wheel
may be seen at work watering the fields on either bank.

The principal tribes of Sindh are the Beluchis and the Jâts, or Sindhis,
once Hindoos, but converted to Islam under the Khalifs[39] of the house
Ommayyah. The Sindhis are taller, stronger, more robust, and muscular
than the natives of India; they belong chiefly to the Hanifah sect of
Mohammedans. Their language is a strange mixture of Arabic and Sanskrit
words, the noun being borrowed from the Sanskrit, and the verb from the
Persian or Arabic grammar. The Beluchis are a mountain-tribe; they are
superior to the Jâts or Sindhs, fairer, more powerfully formed, very
hardy, not deficient in courage under brave leaders, and extremely
temperate. The Beluchi women are remarkably faithful and devoted as
wives, and those of the Mari tribe often follow their husbands to

One of the peculiarities of the Hindoos of Sindh is that they have no
outcast tribes among them, like the Parwaris, or Pariahs, Pasis, and
Khandalas of Hindostan; and many of the Musulmans of Sindh are
followers of Nanak[40] and Govind his disciple.

Farther north, in the Afghan districts, numerous warlike tribes are
found. Afghans, properly so called, distinguish themselves from the
aboriginal populations. The chief clans or tribes of the Afghans are the
Duranis, south-west of the Afghan plateau; the Ghilzais, the strongest
and most warlike of the Afghans, occupying the highlands north of
Kandhar (this tribe is noted for its deep-rooted hostility to
foreigners, and especially to the British); the Yusufzais, north of
Peshwar; and the Khakars, who are chiefly the highlanders of this
region. Of the non-Afghan tribes very little is known; those that have
come under the notice of the British officers are no doubt mostly a
mixed race, descendants of the Aryans and Turanians. The purest of these
are the Parsivans, the Kizibashes, the Hindikis, and the Jâts, all more
or less closely allied to the Persians and Hindoos in language, manners,
and customs. The Eimâk, the Hazaras, Tajiks, and the Khohistans are
semi-nomadic tribes--Mohammedans; some are of the Shiah[41] and others
of the Sunni sect.

As a race, the Afghans are a very handsome, athletic people, with fair
complexion, aquiline nose, and flowing black, brown, and sometimes even
red, hair, which the men wear long, falling in soft curls over the
shoulders. The women are beautiful, and often of fair rosy complexion,
dark eyes and hair, which they wear under a skull-cap, with two long
braids falling to the waist behind, finished off with silk tassels.
Since the Mohammedan conquest the custom of excluding women from the
society of the male members of the family has been introduced into
Afghanistan, and is now rigidly enforced.

In the very apex of India, the hilly districts of Southern Madras, are
numerous early races and tribes, distinct and peculiar to themselves, of
whom the Tudas and Cholas are most worthy of notice. The former is as
superior in type to the latter as the Caucasian is to the Mongolian. The
Tudas are chiefly found in the Nilgherry Hills; they are tall, athletic,
and well-formed. Their women, though dark, are singularly pleasing when
young. The comparatively treeless character of these hills indicates
that in former times large spaces were cleared and cultivated, though at
present the Tudas seem to prefer roaming about the hills and leading a
nomadic life.

In the Dhendigal and neighboring Wynadd Hills appear other tribes,
apparently the oldest of all the primitive races of India, and of the
lowest type of humanity. They are called Shanars, and are clothed, if at
all, with the bark of trees, using bows and arrows, and subsisting
chiefly on roots, wild honey, and reptiles. Short in stature and agile
as monkeys, living without habitations among trees, they penetrate the
jungle with marvellous speed, and seem only a step removed from the
orang-outang of Borneo and Sumatra. There is no doubt that these wild
people, if not indigenous to the soil, occupied at one time a large
portion of this country, and are the remains of that "monkey race" whom
the first Aryan invaders met with, and who, with their leader Hanuman,
figure so largely in the old poems as the allies of Rama in his conquest
of Ceylon.

Among these numerous but isolated relics of aboriginal populations there
is another and superior race, divided into several distinct
nationalities, such as the Tamuls, Telingus, and Canarese, who people
the greater part of Southern India. Nevertheless, between them and those
still later Aryans the difference, both mental and physical, is plainly

There are still current in Southern India a number of languages and
dialects, which, though largely intermixed with Sanskrit terms in
consequence of Aryan conquest and civilization, belong to distinct
families of languages. The most comprehensive of these are the Tamul,
Telingu, and Carnatic, showing the existence of separate nations at the
time of the Aryan conquest. The Tamul language has no inconsiderable
literature of its own.

The Mahrattas, whose chief seat is in the Deccan, belong to still
another race, although there is now among them a larger infusion of
Aryan blood than is to be found farther south in India.

In the van of Aryan immigration settling along the plains of the Ganges
from Hurdwar down to the eastern frontier of Oude and the Raj-Mahal
Hills were the Brahmans, founders of the great cities Hastinapoora
("abode of elephants"), Indraspatha, Delhi, Canouge on the Doab, Ayodhya
(Oude), Benares, and Palibothra (Patna). They concentrated themselves in
the upper part of the Ganges valley, but did not attempt to pass into
Lower Bengal, as may be seen to-day by the physical and mental
inferiority of the Bengalees to the populations of Northern Hindostan.

All travellers and historians agree in stating that the early Aryan
settlers in the valley of the Ganges closely resembled the Hellenic race
in Greece in almost every feature of their military, domestic, and
social life. They were split up into a number of small states or
communities. The Kshatryas, though originating in their military
profession, and not in a single family, were not unlike the Heraclidæ,
who became the royal race of the Peloponnesus. But in process of time
these Kshatryas were absorbed into the Rajpoots, who are supposed to
have arrived in India about the time of Alexander's invasion of the
Panjaub. They settled where we find them to-day, in the neighborhood of
Rohilcund and Bundelcund, and shortly after them came the Jâts, another
branch of the Indo-European or Aryan family, thus completing the four
great waves of the so-named Pandya, or white-faced, immigration--the
Brahmans, Kshatryas, the Rajpoots, and the Jâts. It was the Brahmans who
founded the celebrated Pandhya kingdom, so called from their white
skins, and established the "Meerassee" system--_i. e._ an aristocracy of
equality among the four conquering races. They shared the land equally
among themselves, and regarded all others as servants or subjects.

In this primitive village-system the Brahman, or priest and poet, the
Pundit, or schoolmaster, the Vakeel, or pleader, were as essential as
food and drink to the community. Priest, teacher, and pleader by virtue
of their high functions enjoyed peculiar and unquestioned privileges:
land free of all tax was religiously assigned to them, and servants to
cultivate it for their use were attached to the grant.

In each and every Hindoo village or town which has retained its old form
the children even to-day are able to read, write, and cipher. But
wherever the village-system has been swept away by foreign and other
influences there the village school has also disappeared with it. A
trial by jury, called "punchayet," was also a part of the primitive
system of self-government instituted by the early Brahmans: each party
named two or more arbitrators, and the judge one; the jury could not in
any case be composed of less than five persons, whence the name
"punchayet"--five just ones. In difficult cases the influence of the
heads and elders of the village was brought to bear upon the contending
parties, and the administration of justice was so pure in those days
that the saying "In the punchayet is God" became proverbial.

Out of these marked mental and physical differences grew up the
monstrous and extraordinary system of caste in India. Not that caste
does not exist in some degree everywhere throughout the world. In the
British Isles it is as fixed and absolute as a Medo-Persic law, and even
among Americans a marked social inequality exists. Caste naturally
sprang up with the first mingling of the conquering and conquered races
on Indian soil. At first the distinctions of class and rank were no more
marked than that of an English peasant and the lord of a domain, or that
of the negro girl and her mistress in the United States to-day. But the
proud, white-skinned Brahmans, in order to guard the purity of their own
"blue blood," and to rivet their own ascendency, invented at length a
distinct and most binding code of laws, and then claimed for them the
divine authority of the Vèdas.

Of the four great castes that we read so much about, three only were
fixed--Brahmans, Kshatryas, and the Vaisyas. This last was the common
Aryan people, and they were not separated from their superiors by any
harsh distinctions. But the Sudras, "the threefold black men," among
whom the Aryan population established themselves, all the non-Aryan
races and tribes of the peninsula of Hindostan, were kept off by a wide
gulf and the most galling marks of inferiority. The Sudra could not read
the Vèdas nor join in their religious meetings. He could not cook their
food, or even serve in their houses; he was unclean, gross, sensual,
irreligious, and therefore an abomination to the noble white-faced

The code of Manu, with all its "unparalleled arrogance" toward the
Sudra, was founded rather upon what a high-bred Brahman ought to be than
with any deliberate intent to degrade the Sudra. But with its practice
came that inevitable deterioration to the moral character of the
Brahmans themselves, who forgot that the humblest man has a right to the
same sanctity of life and character as the highest. The lower the
Brahman sank in his spiritual and moral nature, the more he tried to
hedge himself about with artificial claims to the reverence of the
peoples around him, until finally the code of Manu swelled into minute
details. Reaching the unborn child of Aryan parents, it directed its
nursing in the cradle, it shaped the training of the youth, and
regulated the actions of his perfect manhood as son, husband, and
father. Food, raiment, exercise, religious and social duties, must be
brought into subjection to its sovereign voice, and in the course of
time it was inseparably interwoven with every domestic usage, every
personal and social habit. From the cradle to the grave it undertakes to
regulate and control every desire, every inclination, every movement, of
the inner and outer man. Such is the code of Manu.

In spite of these laws, however, there flourished Sudra kings and Sudra
communities, influenced though not absorbed by the Aryan population.
Sudra kings were invited to the court of the great _Yudishthira_[42] and
treated with marked respect and courtesy; indeed, this word "Kiriya" or
"Kritya" (courtesy) was held to be the distinguishing mark of a
high-bred Brahman. The Sudras in their turn soon caught the infection of
caste feeling, and were not slow in adopting the same distinctions among

From being at first a sign of superiority of race, it gradually took
form and extended to every branch and profession. Priest, teacher,
soldier, sailor, tinker, tailor, robber, murderer, and beggar, was each
one fixed immovably and for ever in his place and grade, and no earthly
power could draw him into any other. Every one piqued himself on his
particular caste; each man confined himself sternly to his own perfect
circle. There was hope for every man who belonged to a caste, so that
even those fallen from caste bound themselves together in a brotherhood
and called themselves Pariahs, "outcasts," which in time became a large
and distinct caste. "Even in the lowest depths they found a lower

So monstrous and deteriorating was this system that in the course of
time, losing sight of its original purpose, it separated the Aryans
themselves, for whose especial preservation and union it was designed,
by distinctions and restrictions almost as galling as those it had
formerly imposed only on the Sudras.

Nevertheless, it had its noble features, and did good work for a time.
The high advancement to which the Indo-European art, literature,
painting, music, and architecture attained was due to the leadership of
the Brahman civilization. It was an aristocracy to rule and educate the
masses, which everywhere exhibited a uniform inferiority. But even with
all the help of caste and the inflexible code of Manu to preserve them
on every side, the proud white-faced Aryans did not long escape the
deteriorating influences both of the climate in which they had settled
and the debasing usages of the non-Aryan populations around them.

The most degrading practice that sprang up in time on Indian soil was
asceticism. The amount and the terrible nature of this self-imposed
penance practised by the Hindoos exceed anything known in the world, and
are almost inconceivable to any ordinary European, whose first instinct
is self-preservation. Ablutions and commands of personal cleanliness,
which formed a part of the code of Manu, have increased in number, and
also the penalties attached to their violation to such a degree that
now-a-days a Brahman or Hindoo is defiled by the most trifling accident
of place or touch. To eat with the left hand, to sneeze when he is
praying, to gape in the presence of the sacrificial fire, to touch one
of a low caste, are all pollutions. In fact, the very shadow of an
Englishman or a Sudra falling on his cooking-pot renders it obligatory
on him to bury his meal in the earth and to throw away his pot if
earthen; if not, it must undergo seven purifications before it is in a
sufficiently holy condition to boil the rice sacred to the Brahman. The
simple contact with pig's fat in the cartridges made the sepoys, who
believed they were thus lost to caste and to heaven, willing and
terrible tools in the hands of the arch-enemy of British power in the
East. Nana Sahib, or, more properly speaking, Dundoo Punt, who, in order
to revenge a private wrong--the lapse to the East Indian Company, on the
death of his uncle and royal father by adoption, of a large territory
bequeathed to him--worked upon the caste-prejudices of the sepoys until
he maddened them into committing the most fiendish acts ever recorded in
Indian history. But the original code does not so regard the eating of
pork. If a Brahman purposely eat pork he shall be degraded, but if he
has partaken of it involuntarily or through another's connivance, a
penance and purification are sufficient for full atonement.

Thus, injunctions originally designed as rules of pure living and
high-breeding, cleanliness, abstinence, kindliness, charity, and
courtesy, have been so multiplied and distorted that it is now difficult
even for the most precise and devout Brahman to carry them all
faithfully into practice. And if Christian teachers and reformers were
seriously minded to overthrow this vast system of caste in India, they
could successfully do so by quoting the Vèdas and the code of Manu,
which prescribe no such arbitrary rules of life as now exist in India.
It is our want of knowledge, and that of most of the modern Brahmans,
which still holds them in their old fetters, rendering the efforts to
free them of little avail, for we know not how nor where to begin the
attack on such a strong fortress as caste and custom are to these blind
followers of law and order.

Centuries after the consolidation of the Brahman power and system of
caste there arose a strong-souled Aryan, a prince By birth, a republican
at heart, and a reformer by nature, called Sakya Suddarthà, who no
sooner became of age than he suddenly began to deny the inspiration of
the Vèdas, the divine right of Brahmans to the priesthood, and the
obligations of caste. He offered equality of birthright and of spiritual
office alike to all men and women. Sudra, Pariah, Khandala, bond or
free, were of one and the same great family. He went about declaring all
men brothers. This was the strong point of Buddhism. The new religion
spread at once. It ravished the hearts and kindled the imaginations of
many Aryans, but chiefly the non-Aryan nations. Everywhere it was
received with enthusiasm. Brahmanism and caste received their first
great shock, from which they have never wholly recovered.


Monastic orders first arose among the Buddhists, and as caste was
abolished the monasteries were open to all men, and even to women, who
were bound over to celibacy and self-renunciation. These Buddhist
priests went about preaching their new religion to the common people,
and found ready acceptance with them. Barefooted, with shaven heads,
eyebrows, and chins, wearing a yellow dress instead of the pure white
robes of the Brahmans, they seemed indeed lower than the lowest Pariahs.
They built lowly chapels, and had regular services in them, chanting a
prescribed liturgy, offering harmless sacrifices of incense, lighted
tapers, rice, wine, oil, and flowers, and taking the lily instead of the
Brahmanic lotos as the emblem of the purity of their faith.

Buddhism spread with amazing rapidity, and flourished for some time on
Indian soil. During the reign of the celebrated Indian king Asoka, three
centuries more or less before Christ, it was the dominant religion of
India, about which time it was also introduced by Buddhist missionaries
into Ceylon, China, and the Japanese Archipelago. At length, the
Brahmans, recovering from the lethargy that seemed to have overtaken
them, joined all their forces, and, rising _en masse_ everywhere against
these dissenters from the Vèdas and from the old code of Manu, drove out
of Hindostan proper those whom they could not put to death. The
Buddhists finally found refuge in Guzerat and ready acceptance among the
early primitive races; and here the new religion reached its highest
prosperity, but began to decline in the eighth or ninth century after
Christ. At this juncture a new sect arose under the leadership of one
Jaina, or saint, a man of great purity of character, who undertook to
correct the many errors which had crept into Buddhism. Veneration and
worship of deified men, confined by the Buddhists some to five and
others to seven saints, were extended by the Jains to twenty-four, of
whom colossal statues in black or white marble were set up in their
temples. Tenderness and respect for animal life they carried to an
extreme point, which has led to the establishment of the hospitals for
infirm aged animals in different parts of India. In its essence Jainism
agrees with Buddhism. It rejects the inspiration of the Vèdas, has no
animal sacrifices, pays no respect to fire. But in order to escape the
unremitting persecution of the Brahman priesthood it admits _caste_, and
even the worship of the chief Hindoo gods. Thus Jainism secured that
toleration on Indian soil which was never extended to Buddhism, the very
birthplace of Buddha having been rendered a wilderness and untenanted by
man through the rage and fury of Brahmanic persecution.

Brahmanism, finding itself once more in the ascendency, proceeded with
great tact to incorporate into its ritual all the divinities, the rites,
and the ceremonies peculiar to the non-Aryan populations. In Southern
India Vishnoo is worshipped under the name and character of Jaggernath
(or Juggernaut), "Lord of the universe;" but in Northern Hindostan this
worship is mingled with that of Rama and Krishna, two Aryan heroes, whom
the Brahmans with great political adroitness represent as later
incarnations of both Vishnoo and Jaggernath. The pre-Aryan Mahrattas and
Marwhars were brought to believe their supreme deities, Cando-ba, and
Virabudra, as incarnations of Siva, and so on, until at length every
god, hero, or saint belonging to the pre-historic inhabitants of Asia
found a place in the Brahmanic calendar of incarnations of gods and

Monotheism and polytheism exist side by side; purity and vice are only
different expressions of a system as complex as life itself. Through
all manners, acts, and usages, the most trivial or the most momentous,
the Brahman religion flows in perpetual symbolism and stamps everything
with its seal and mark. The pure Hindoos live in a network of
observances, the smallest infraction of which involves the most terrible
social degradation and loss of caste. They are bound by observances for
rising, for sitting, for eating, drinking, sleeping, bathing; for birth,
marriage, and death; for the sites of their homes and even the positions
of their doors and windows.

The dwellings of Hindoos vary according to their means. The poorer have
only one apartment, which must be smeared over once a week with a
solution of the ordure of the cow. The better classes always have a
courtyard and a verandah, where strangers, and even Europeans, may be
received without risk of contamination. Very often the walls of the
dwellings are covered with frescoes and paintings. The entrance to the
dwelling is always placed, out of respect to the sun, facing the east,
but a little to one side. Every morning at an early hour the Hindoo wife
or mother of the home may be seen cleansing her house and her utensils
for cooking, eating, and drinking. This done, she will wash or smear
with cow-ordure the space about her dwelling. After this purification
the wife will proceed to ornament the front of the door, which in itself
is held sacred to the Brahman, with the form of a lotos-flower. This she
makes out of a solution of lime or chalk, and imprints it on the door
and on the space in front of it. This flower is emblematic of the name
of God, too pure to be uttered, but supposed to bestow a magical charm
on the dwelling on which it is inscribed.[43]

No one is so scrupulous with regard to personal neatness, purity, and
cleanliness as the true Hindoo woman. The Hindoo sacraments are ten in
number, with five daily duties that are as obligatory on the Brahman as
are the sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. The first sacrament
begins with the unborn babe; it is the conceptional sacrament. Attended
by the mother of a large family, the young wife repairs to a temple with
a peculiar cake made of rice, sugar, and ghee (clarified butter), and
with a fresh cocoanut. The goddess invoked on such occasions is
Lakshina, the consort of Indra. They first offer up a prayer before her
shrine, meditate on her glorious progeny of gods and heroes, then
implore her kindly interposition in behalf of the young woman who is to
become a mother; after which the elder matron breaks the cocoanut and
pours the liquid out as an offering to the goddess, and part of the cake
and cocoanut is brought home and distributed among the members of the

The next ceremony is a very profound one, and has an especial reference
to the quickening of life in the babe. The mother, shrouded in pure
white from head to foot, accompanied by an elder female and mother of a
large family, with her husband and father repair to the temple. One or
more Brahman priests are invited to preside on this occasion. Oil,
flowers, and lighted tapers are offered to Mahadèo the Great God. The
priest pours the oil presented on a lighted lamp, then performs a
wave-offering over the head of the expectant mother, praying, "O thou
who art light, thou art also life and seed. Accept our sacrifice and
make the new life thou hast created in secret visible in beauty and
strength and power of intellect." After which offerings according to the
wealth of the parties are made to the priests. There is one more
important ceremony, similar in character to the others. All these
sacraments are performed only in the case of the first child.

The birth ceremony takes place on the birth of every child. On this
occasion a Brahman priest and an astrologer are invited. The mother of a
large family and the grandmother are generally present. Before dividing
the umbilical cord fire is waved over the child, a drop of honey and
butter out of a golden spoon is put on his lips, after which the cord is
severed. This is a very sacred ceremony, called "Jahu Karan"
("introduction to life"), and is performed with prayer, indicating that
as the child's life is now severed from the parent life, so is all life
at some time or other parted from the Central Life, but yet dependent on
that as the infant is on the tender care of a mother. The father then
draws near and looks upon the face of his son or daughter for the first
time, at which he must take a piece of gold in his hand, offer a
sacrifice to Brahma, and anoint the forehead of the child with ghee
which has first been presented to Brahma. A string of nine threads of
cotton, with five blades of durba-grass, must be bound by the father
round the wrist of the child, indicating that the life matured by nine
months is to be made perfect by the five daily sacraments or duties.
This done, the astrologer casts the horoscope of the child, which is
carefully written down, whether good or evil, and is confided to the
father. This paper is generally burned with the person at death.

When the infant is a month old, and the new moon is first seen, he is
presented to it as his progenitor with a solemn prayer. After which the
naming takes place. The child's nearest relatives are invited. A Brahman
priest waves over it a lamp, then sprinkles holy water, and calls aloud
its name as he anoints the ears, eyes, nose, and breast of the child
with clarified butter. This done, a little dress prepared for the child
is put on for the first time.

When the teeth begin to appear a grand religious service takes place,
and its first food of milk and rice is given to it after it has been
consecrated by the priest. At three years of age the prescribed
religious ceremony connected with the shaving off of the boy's hair
takes place, and the consecration of the single lock left on the top of
the head. Next comes the investiture of the sacred thread, performed
only in the case of the male child.

Between the ages of fourteen and sixteen the youth formally presents
himself before the temple to be admitted to the order to which he
belongs. He is placed on a stone near a sacred tank in the precincts of
a Hindoo temple; he is then washed in pure water by the priests robed in
spotless white garments; the holy "Gayatri" is repeated in his right ear
by one priest, while the other breathes over him the mystic trisyllable
of "Aum, Aum, Aum," after which he is invested with a new sacred thread.

Marriage is also a sacrament. The male may be married at any time after
the "mung," or investiture of the sacred thread; the time for this
ceremony varies among the different castes. The female, however, must
not be under ten years of age, and as she is obliged to be several years
younger than the male, he is generally from sixteen to eighteen at the
time of marriage.

Particular rules are laid down to be observed in the choice of a wife.
She must not have any physical or moral defects; she must have an
agreeable voice, sweet-sounding name, graceful proportions, elegant
movements, fine teeth, hair, and eyes. Deformity inherited or
constitutional delicacy, or disease of any kind, weak eyes, imperfect
digestion, an inauspicious name, or lack of respectable lineage, always
operate as strong impediments to marriage. Once the choice is made by
the parents, then the particular months and junctions of the planets are
consulted by the joshis or Hindoo astrologers: the birth-papers of both
parties are first examined, followed by a profound study of the stars,
which sometimes takes a year to be completed, after which a writing
called the Lagan-patrika is prepared, in which the day, the hour, the
names of the parties, and the position of the planets are put down, and
one of the eight different kinds of marriages mentioned in the Shastras
prescribed as the most fitting in view of the astral relations of
husband and wife. These eight different kinds of marriages, however, are
more or less similar, and vary only when the different castes intermarry
one with the other. This intermarriage is always attended with loss of
caste. The ceremony observed by the Brahmanic caste is the most
interesting, and is called "_Brahma_," from the sacredness attached to
the rite. The bridegroom is obliged to prepare himself by certain
prayers and ablutions before he can be presented to his future wife,
whom he often sees for the first time, but of whose charms, graces of
person, and character he is fully informed beforehand. Robed in pure
white, anointed with holy oil, and wearing garlands of fresh flowers
around his neck, he goes in procession, accompanied by his friends and
relatives, to the bride's house, where he and his friends are welcomed
as guests by the bride's father. The future wife is allowed to appear,
and is generally veiled, so that even then the young couple do not see
very much of each other.

On the afternoon of the day appointed for the wedding company to
assemble at the house of the bride's father a raised platform is placed
at one end of the hall; here the bridegroom takes his place, surrounded
by the priests. Presently the bride enters the room accompanied by her
father, who does homage to his future son and places his daughter at his
right hand. After this a young priest enters bearing a large censer
containing a charcoal fire, which is placed at their feet, and is
emblematic of their warm affection. Two priests stand before them
holding each a lighted torch in his hands, reciting some very beautiful
prayers; meanwhile the bride rises and treads three times on a stone and
_muller_[44] placed beside her, and which is meant to indicate that the
cares and duties she is now about to assume as a married woman will be
carefully observed. The bridegroom then makes an oblation of oil and
frankincense to the fire, as typical of his gratitude to the gods for
the blessing which is now about to crown his life; this done, the priest
hands him a torch, which he takes and waves three times around the
person of his bride, signifying that his love will always surround and
brighten her existence; he then drops it into the pan or censer at their
feet. The bride now scatters a handful of rice and a little oil as an
oblation to the gods. The chant having ceased, the father steps up, and,
taking a new upper and a lower garment, clothes the person of his
daughter; he then fastens the end of her dress to the skirts of her
lover's robe, and, taking the bride's hand, he places it in that of the
bridegroom, binding them together with a mystic cord which is made of
their sacred grass, typifying the delicacy of the marriage-tie, the
strength and solidity of which depends not so much on the fragile cord
which binds them, as on the individual will and resolution not to break
it asunder. Then, conducted by the bridegroom, the young bride steps
seven times around the sacred fire, repeating the marriage vows, the
priests chant the nuptial hymn, and the marriage is consummated.

Every act of the Brahmanic ritual is symbolic. Thus in the evening of
the same day, after sunset, the bridegroom sees his blushing little
bride alone for the first time; he takes her by the hand, seats her on a
bull's hide, which in its turn is symbolic of several spiritual and
physical facts, one of which points to his power to support and protect
her. Seated side by side, they quietly watch the rising of the polar
star; pointing it out to her, he repeats, "Let us be steady, stable,
serene, for ever abiding in each other's love, as that immovable and
deathless star." Having sat in silent contemplation, they partake of
their first meal together. The bridegroom remains three days at the
house of the bride's father; on the fourth day he conducts his wife to
his own, or, as it sometimes happens, to his father's house, in solemn
procession. The Hindoo women are remarkably devoted as wives and
mothers: instances of conjugal infidelity among the high caste are
unknown, and extremely rare even among the lower castes of the Hindoo

The ceremonies attending the dead are worthy of brief notice here. The
last moments of a Brahman are generally made very impressive by the
prayers and recitations that take place around his dying pillow, the
chief aim of which is to concentrate the thoughts of the departing soul
on the fact that life is the _master_ of death. "The sun rises out of
life and sets into life; so does the soul of a pure Brahman. Life sways
to-day, and it will sway tomorrow, O Brahman! Life is immortal; death
but conceals the fact as the garment covers the body. Hasten, O soul, to
the Unseen, for unseen he sees, unheard he hears, unknown he knows. As
by footprints one finds cattle, so may thy soul, O Sadhwan (pure one),
find the indestructible Soul," etc., etc.

The moment life is fled the high priest bends over the corpse with his
hands folded on his breast and repeats a prayer. After which the near
female relatives indulge in the most dismal howls and shrieks as
expressions of their grief and lamentation. The body is then bathed by
the priests, perfumed, decked with flowers, and placed on a temporary
bier or litter. This is borne along through the chief thoroughfares,
preceded by men who carpet with certain pieces of cloth the entire way;
women follow, howling and weeping and casting dust on their heads. The
funeral pyre, formed of dried wood, is three or four feet high and over
six feet long; the corpse is laid on it, and over it is poured oil,
clarified butter, and flowers made of fragrant woods. The priests stand
around, sprinkle the body with holy water, and repeat a number of
prayers which very clearly point to the mystery which enfolds all
animate and inanimate life, within and without, and express earnest
hopes that the body now about to be consumed may not draw down the soul
to enter another body again. The nearest relative then applies the fire
and the body is consumed. They who watch the fire repeat to themselves
long passages from the Shastras and the Puranas on the vanity of human
life and the deathless nature of the soul, after which they purify
themselves before returning home. Eleven days after death the Shrada, or
purificatory ceremonies, are performed by the heir, and in his absence
the next nearest relative; then every month for a year, and lastly on
the anniversary of his death.

Brahmans are held unclean for ten days after the death of a relative,
the military caste for twelve, the mercantile for fifteen, and the Sudra
for thirty. Among the Hindoos the body is burnt, except only in case of
infants under two years, when it is buried. The "Shrada" is a ceremony
very much like mass performed in the Roman Catholic Church for the souls
of the dead who are in purgatory. Prayers are offered by the high priest
and the nearest relatives, accompanied with gifts and offerings of rice,
flowers, oil, and water, in order to free the deceased soul from a
purificatory abode in which it is held, and to enable it to ascend to
the heaven where its progenitors are thought to be united to the
universal Soul.

The worship of the Brahmans and the high-caste Hindoos, though
complicated by trivialities, is in its essence very simple and pure. The
Brahmans do not themselves worship the idols in the temples, although
they encourage the inferior castes and races to do so. Every act of a
Brahman's life is stamped with a religious character, even as every
breath that he draws is held to be a part of that "Divine Soul" that
exists in the heart of all beings.

As the Brahman priests accommodated their religious beliefs to suit the
popular mind, so have the Roman Catholic missionaries and priests
effected a compromise between Hindooism and Christianity in India, and
Eastern Christianity has assumed features as foreign to the sublime
teachings of Christ as demon- and serpent-worship are foreign to the
pure and natural religion of the Vèdas.

It is only by examining the existences of all the different races and
layers of populations, and the mingling of so many and such conflicting
religions, that we can rightly understand the India of to-day with her
hydra-headed creeds, dogmas, and castes.


[27] A species of palm-leaf dried and stitched together, much used all
over Hindostan in roofing houses and sheds.

[28] Most of the high-caste Hindoo women cultivate this plant for the
purpose of dyeing their nails and finger-tips. The dye is prepared by
bruising the leaves and moistening them with a little lime-water. This
mixture is then applied to the nails, tips of the fingers, palms of the
hands, and sometimes even to the soles of the feet, which in a short
time become dyed of a reddish-orange color. The stain remains on the
skin until it wears off.

[29] A "Guru" is a spiritual guide, a Brahman ecclesiastic, invested
with the power of attending births, deathbeds, marriages, and settling
all such questions as effect Hindoo caste and all its duties and
obligations. A Guru is generally an ascetic of peculiar sanctity, and is
often worshipped as an incarnate deity. This office descends from father
to son. The Gurus comprise a very large and influential body of men,
occupying the chief cities of India, wielding a despotic power over the
people, as their curse is dreaded by all ranks and conditions of people.

[30] The Bhats and Charans, the bards and genealogists of these tribes,
are remarkable for their power of reciting from memory whole epics
describing the birth, exploits, and death of the various Bhil chiefs.
They will also devote themselves to death or to receive the most cruel
mutilations in order to keep a promise, accomplish a vow, recover a
debt, or to obtain any end which might be secured by inspiring others
with superstitious reverence and dread. A Bhat of Viramghaw in 1806 put
his little daughter, a beautiful girl of seven years old, to death by
decapitation, and with her blood, which he carried in an earthen vessel,
he sprinkled the gate of the Malliah Rajah's castle, and thus compelled
him to pay a debt to the Gaikwar for which he had become security.

[31] The British established in 1825 a Bhil agency in Central India, and
organized a Bhil corps in order to utilize the warlike instincts of the
various Bhil tribes. This brave body of men, who have distinguished
themselves in war, have recently done good service in aiding to put down
the predatory habits of their countrymen. They are slowly becoming
cultivators of the soil, though still unwilling to rent land and thus
bind themselves to fixed habits for any length of time.

[32] A remarkable account of a residence with Nádir, and of some of his
murderous exploits, will be found in the _Autobiography of Lutfullah_.

[33] The great reforms which have been effected in many of these tribes
have been very materially assisted by the influence of the Bhil women.

[34] A strip of cloth worn by the lower population of India around the

[35] The Gonds are supposed to be the aborigines of the Sagar and
Nagpoor provinces, and have much in common with the Khandsor Khands,
another tribe of North Sarkar. They have dialects peculiar to
themselves, and which have no affinity whatever with the Sanskrit, but
probably are akin to that of the Dravidian stock. They kept up their old
religious custom of human sacrifice until 1835-45, when the strong arm
of the English interfered and has almost put a stop to it.

[36] Gondwana has been thought by some Oriental scholars to be the
ancient Chèdi, which was ruled by the great Sisupal, who is said to have
governed India about the time of the appearance of Krishna (the last of
the incarnations of Brahm) on earth. They identify Chanderi, his ancient
capital, with the modern Chanda, a city in British India in the Nagpoor
division of the Central Provinces, and abounding in fine remains of huge
reservoirs for water, cave-temples, and the curious tombs of the
aboriginal Gond kings.

[37] Meriah means "death-doomed," and Kudatee, "dedicated to the god."

[38] See _Introduction to the Second Book of the Rig-Veda_, by H. H.
Wilson, p. xvii.

[39] Khalif, or Caliph, successor or vicar of Mohammed, from Khalifah,
an Arabic title given to the acknowledged successors of Mohammed, who
were regarded as invested with supreme dignity and power in all matters
relating to religion and civil polity.

[40] A Mohammedan reformer and founder of the Sikh religion. He preached
about the fourteenth century against the abuses of the Mohammedan
religion, and inaugurated the spiritual worship of God alone. One day,
when Nanak lay on the ground absorbed in devotion, with his feet toward
Mecca, a Moslem priest, seeing him, cried, "Base infidel! how darest
thou turn thy feet toward the house of Allah?" Nanak answered, "And
thou, turn them if thou canst toward any spot where the awful house of
God is not."

[41] The Shiahs and Sunnis are the two most important Mohammedan sects.
The Sunnis hold the "Sunnat," or traditions of Mohammed, as of nearly
equal authority to the Kuran, and they revere equally the four
successors of the Prophet, Abu-Bahkr, Omar, Usman, and Ali. The Shiahs,
on the other hand, reject the traditions, and do not acknowledge the
successors of the Prophet as Khalifahs.

[42] One of the greatest of Aryan kings mentioned in the Mahabharata.

[43] The sectarian marks of the Hindoos vary with their caste and the
deity to whom they attach themselves. The high-caste Brahman makes only
a circular mark with a little sacred mud of the Ganges, and mixed with
water, on his forehead. This is symbolic of the mystic word "Aum." The
followers of Vishnoo, a second grade of Brahmans, use a species of clay
brought from a pool, Dhwaiaka, in which the seven shepherdesses, who are
always represented with Krishna, are supposed to have drowned themselves
on hearing of the death of their favorite hero. This mark is a circle
with a straight line passing through, symbolizing the regenerative
powers of nature. The Mahadèo sect wear two straight lines on the brow;
the one on the right stands for God, the one on the left for man, a
transverse streak of red lime: a preparation of turmeric and lime is
used; it means God and man united. A great many wear the mark of
Vishnoo's weapon with which he is supposed to have killed the
sea-monster to rescue from destruction the three Vèdas. The followers of
Siva, one of the four great sects of Hindoos, wear a complex mark of
circle and cross combined, made with the ashes of burnt cow-ordure,
symbolizing the destruction of all sin and the beatitude in store for
the pure and holy.

[44] A mill or grinder, used for grinding rice and wheat.


     A Visit to the House of Baboo Ram Chunder.--His Wife.--Rajpoot
     Wrestlers.--Nautchnees, or Hindoo Ballet-Girls.--A Hindoo
     Drama.--Visit to a Nautchnees' School.--Bayahdiers, or
     Dancing-Girls, attached to the Hindoo Temples.--Profession,
     Education, Dress, Character, Fate in Old Age and after
     Death.--Cusbans, or Common Women.--Marked Differences between these
     three Classes of Public Women.

Among the most interesting of the rich Hindoos whose acquaintance we
made during our long residence in Bombay was one Baboo Ram Chunder. A
wealthy gentleman, educated in all the learning of the East as well as
in English, possessing quite an appreciative intelligence on most
English topics, but nevertheless a pure Hindoo in mind and character,
clinging with peculiar affection to the manners, customs, and religion
of his forefathers, and struggling to the last degree to counteract the
vulgar and popular superstitions of modern Brahmanism, though not a
member of the Brahmo-Somaj,[45] he left nothing undone to revive the
pure and simple teachings of the Vèdas. It was his custom to give every
year a grand entertainment at his residence, to which he occasionally
invited his European friends.

One morning Ram Chunder called in person at the "Aviary" to invite us to
one of these to take place on the following evening, and promised me if
I would be present not only a rare treat in the performance of a
newly-arranged Hindoo drama from the poem of "Nalopakyanama," but also
an introduction to his wife and child.

Ram Chunder's house, though not far from the vicinity of the Bhendee
Bazaar, stood apart, surrounded by a well-built wall. The building was a
large white-stuccoed dwelling decorated with rich carvings. There were
two courts--an inner and outer court. We were received by a number of
richly-attired attendants, and conducted through several dimly-lighted
passages into a spacious apartment. It was a circular hall or pavilion
with a fountain, and a garden with gravel-walks and a large area in the
centre. The pavilion itself was decorated in the Oriental style, hung
with kinkaub (or gold-wrought) curtains and peacocks' feathers; the
floors were inlaid with mosaics of brilliant colors; the roof and
pillars were decorated with rich gold mouldings; and the whole would
have been very effective but for the mélange of European ornaments that
were disposed around on the walls, tables, and shelves--clocks, antique
pictures, statues, celestial and terrestrial globes, and a profusion of
common glassware of the most brilliant colors.

Ram Chunder, a young man not over thirty, with remarkably courteous
manners, with that refinement and delicacy which are the distinguishing
characteristics of a high-bred Hindoo, rose and bowed before us,
touching his forehead with his folded hands, and then placed us on his
right hand. In person he was rather stout, with peculiarly fine eyes and
a benevolent expression of countenance, though he was darker in
complexion than most of the Brahmans. His dress on this occasion was
unusually rich and strikingly picturesque. He wore trousers of a deep
crimson satin; over this a long white muslin "angraka," or tunic,
reaching almost to the knees; over this again he wore a short vest of
purple velvet embroidered with gold braid. A scarf of finest cashmere
was bound around his waist, in the folds of which there shone the
jewelled hilt of a dagger. On his head was a white turban of stupendous
size encircled with a string of large pearls; on his feet were European
stockings and a pair of antique Indian slippers embroidered with
many-colored silks and fine seed-pearls.

Thus attired, he was a gorgeous figure, and, like a true high-born
Hindoo, he sat quietly in his place, except that every now and then he
rose and bowed with folded hands to each guest as he entered and pointed
out their places, reseating himself quietly and simply. There was no
sign of bustle or expectation, nor any conversation to speak of. In
course of the evening about twenty native and two or three European
gentlemen were assembled in the pavilion. The Europeans were on the
right, the native gentlemen on the left, and Ram Chunder in the middle.
No native ladies were visible, but from the sounds of female voices
behind the curtain it was evident they were not far off.

Richly-dressed native pages, stationed at the back of each guest, waved
to and fro perfumed punkahs of peacock and ostrich feathers. After the
usual ceremony of passing around to the guests sherbet in golden cups
and "paun suparee," or betel-leaf and the areca-nut done up in
gold-leaf, the performance began.

A herald dressed like a Hindoo angel, with wings, tail, and beak of a
bird and the body of a young boy, announced with a peculiar cry, half
natural and half bird-like, the presence of the Rajpoot athletes; and in
stepped some ten men, their daggers gleaming in the dim light of the
pavilion, which flickered on the gravelled space in front and barely
lighted the surrounding garden, in the centre of which stood a fountain.
The Rajpoots were in the prime of life, displaying great symmetry of
form and development of muscular power. Their heads were closely shaven,
with the exception of a long lock of hair bound in a knot at the top of
their heads; their dress consisted of a pair of red silk drawers
descending halfway to the knee and bound tightly around the waist with a
scarf of many colors.

The wrestlers advanced, performing a sort of war-dance; they disposed of
their daggers by putting them in their topknots; they then salââmed
before the audience and began the contest. Each slapped violently the
inside of his arms and thighs; then, at a given signal, each seized his
opponent by the waist. One placed his forehead against the other's
breast; they then struggled, twisted, and tossed each other about,
showing great skill and adroitness in keeping their feet and warding off
blows. Suddenly, with a peculiar jerk, one of the wrestlers almost at
the same moment dashed his opponent to the ground, and drawing forth his
dagger stood flourishing it over the fallen victim. At this juncture a
strain of music wild but tender swept from the farther end of the
pavilion, seemingly given forth to arrest the premeditated thrust of
the exultant victor.

They listen with heads slightly turned to one side; presently their
grim, bloodthirsty expressions give place to looks of delight and
wonder. All at once their faces break into smiles; simultaneously they
drop their uplifted daggers, release their knees from the breasts of
their prostrate foes, stoop, and, taking a little earth from the
gravelled walk, scatter it over their heads as a sign that the victor
himself is vanquished, salââam to the spectators, and retire amid
deafening shouts of applause.

After this the musicians struck up some lively Hindoo airs, and at
length the heavy curtains from one side of the pavilion curled up like a
lotus-flower at sunset, and there appeared a long line of girls
advancing in a measured step and keeping time to the music. They stood
on a platform almost facing us. Some of them were extraordinarily
beautiful, one girl in particular. The face was of the purest oval, the
features regular, the eyes large, dark, and almond-shaped, the
complexion pale olive, with a slight blush of the most delicate pink on
the cheeks, and the mouth was half pouting and almost infantile in its
round curves, but with an expression of dejection and sorrow lingering
about the corners which told better than words of weariness of the life
to which she was doomed. For my part, it was difficult for me to remove
my eyes from that pensive and beautiful face. Every now and then I found
myself trying to picture her strange life, wondering who she was and how
her parents could ever have had the heart to doom her to such a

The Nautchnees, or dancing-girls, of whom there were no less than
eighteen, were all dressed in that exquisite Oriental costume peculiar
to them, each one in a different shade or in distinct colors, but so
carefully chosen that this mass of color harmonized with wonderful
effect. First, they wore bright-colored silk vests and drawers that
fitted tightly to the body and revealed a part of the neck, arms, and
legs; a full, transparent petticoat attached low down almost on the
hips, leaving an uncovered margin all around the form from the waist of
the bodice to where the skirt was secured on the hips; over this a saree
of some gauze-like texture bound lightly over the whole person, the
whole so draped as to encircle the figure like a halo at every point,
and, finally, thrown over the head and drooping over the face in a most
bewitching veil. The hair was combed smoothly back and tied in a knot
behind, while on the forehead, ears, neck, arms, wrists, ankles, and
toes were a profusion of dazzling ornaments.

With head modestly inclined, downcast eyes, and clasped hands they stood
silent for some little time, in strong relief against a wall fretted
with fantastic Oriental carvings. The herald again gave the signal for
the music to strike up. A burst of wild Oriental melody flooded the
pavilion, and all at once the Nautchnees started to their feet. Poised
on tiptoe, with arms raised aloft over their heads, they began to whirl
and float and glide about in a maze of rhythmic movement, fluttering and
quivering and waving before us like aspen-leaves moved by a strong
breeze. It must have cost them years of labor to have arrived at such
ease and precision of movement. The dance was a miracle of art, and all
the more fascinating because of the rare beauty of the performers.

Then came the cup-dance, which was performed by the lovely girl who had
so captivated my fancy. She advanced with slow and solemn step to the
centre of the platform, and, taking up a tier of four or five cups
fitting close into one another, she placed this tier on her head and
immediately began to move her arms, head, and feet in such gently
undulating waves that one imagined the cups, which were all the time
balanced on her head, were floating about her person, and seemingly
everywhere except where she so dextrously poised and maintained them.
This dance was concluded by a cup being filled with sherbet and placed
in the middle of the platform. Removing the cups from her head, the
dancer, her eyes glowing, her breast heaving, swept toward the filled
cup as if drawn to it by some spell, round and round, now approaching,
now retreating, till finally, as if unable to resist the enchantment,
she gave one long sweep around it, and, clasping her arms tightly behind
her, lay full length on the pavement, and taking up with her lips the
brimming cup drained its contents without spilling a drop. Then, putting
it down empty, she rose with the utmost grace and bowed her head before
us, her arms still firmly clasped behind her. The grace, beauty, and
elegance of her movements were incomparable; the spectators were too
deeply interested even to applaud her. She retired amid a profound and
significant silence to her place.

Presently a tall, slim, graceful girl took her place on the platform
with a gay smile on her face. An attendant fastened on her head a wicker
wheel about three feet in diameter; it was bound firmly to the crown of
her head, and all around it were cords placed at equal distances, each
having a slipknot secured by means of a glass bead. In her left hand she
held a basket of eggs. When the music struck up once more she took an
egg, inserted it into a knot, and gave it a peculiarly energetic little
jerk, which somehow fastened it firmly in its place. As soon as all the
eggs were thus firmly bound in the slipknots round the wheel on her
head, she gave a rapid whirl, sent them flying around, while she
preserved the movement with her feet, keeping time to the music. Away
she whirled, the eggs revolving round her. The slightest false movement
would bring them together in a general crash. After continuing this
about a quarter of an hour, she seized a cord with a swift but sure
grasp, detached from it the inserted egg, managing the slipknot with
marvellous dexterity, dancing all the while, till every egg was detached
and placed in her basket; after which she advanced, and, kneeling before
us, begged us to examine the eggs whether real or fictitious. Of course
the eggs were real, and she was almost overwhelmed with shouts of
"Khoup! khoup! Matjaka! matjaka!"--"Fine! fine! beautiful!" And then the
Nautchnees vanished from the pavilion.

During the interval that followed the pages went round with
goulab-dhanees, or bottles with rose-water, to sprinkle the guests.

Suddenly the cry of the herald announced a new scene. The heavy curtain
slowly folded up and a long line of male actors, superbly attired as
Oriental kings and princes from different parts of the East, entered and
took their places on the divans ranged along the farther end of the
pavilion. Ram Chunder approached us and informed me that the piece about
to be represented was a pure Hindoo drama, a beautiful episode from the
Sanskrit epic _Mahâbhârata_, called "Nalopakyanama, or, The Story of

After the kings and princes had seated themselves, in came a string of
attendants arrayed in gold and gleaming armor, who took their places
behind the royal personages on the divans. Then came twelve maidens
attired in cloth of gold and fantastic head-gear, belonging to the
ancient Vèdic period. Each of these girls had a cithara in her hands;
they disposed themselves on seats to the left of the pavilion. After
these a shrill cry of many voices announced the gods Indra, Agni,
Varuna, and Yama, and in stalked four men splendidly robed, bearing
gold wands, with serpents coiling around them, in their hands, and
lotos-shaped crowns richly jewelled on their heads. Their raiment was
one blaze of tinsel and glass jewels, made to shine with all the
brilliancy of real gems.

Then came the hero Nala, with faded flowers on his tiara, dust on his
garments, and looking picturesque enough with his bright scarf thrown
across his shoulders, but travel-stained and very commonplace in the
presence of so much gold and finery.

Nala was the hero to whom the matchless Damayanti, "whose beauty
disturbed the souls of gods and men," had pledged her love, in spite of
the proposition he brought her from the four gods to choose one of them
and reign the unrivalled queen of the highest heaven. Damayanti,
desirous of averting from her well-beloved Nala the vengeance of the
gods, invites all her suitors to the "Swayamvara;" that is, a public
choice of a husband by the lady, according to the custom of that age,
assuring Nala that then there will be no cause of blame to him, as she
will choose him in the presence of the gods themselves. Hence the
presence of the four gods among the assembled princes suitors for the
hand of the lovely Damayanti.

The herald once more gave the signal for the performance to begin. The
musicians struck their citharas and recited in musical intonations the
chief parts of the drama of Nala. At a certain part of the recitation
the curtain descended, and in a few moments went up again. During this
interval the gods were transformed into the likeness of Nala, presenting
five Nalas instead of one; which the singers explained was a trick of
the gods by which they hoped to bewilder poor Damayanti and perhaps
induce her, in her ignorance of which were the gods and which Nala, to
select one of their divine number as her future husband. The interest of
the drama was centred among these four suitors of Damayanti, each the
counterpart of the favored Nala.

The music at this point rose and fell, now vibrating in low tender
accents, and anon rising in wild, startling emphasis of expression. At
this moment the curtain parted and there stood the cup-dancer with her
quiet yet entrancing beauty. Calmly she entered, looking down and
meditating, as we were told, on the object of her affections. Her dress
was exquisite of its kind and character; I never saw its counterpart on
a Nautchnee before or after. It was a long gown without sleeves, falling
from her shoulders to her feet, open at the throat, exposing a part of
the neck and breast and the whole arm from the shoulder. It was very
full, but of the most delicate texture, revealing the whole outline of a
very lovely form. A bright border of variegated silk ran down the front
and round the hem of this ancient Vèdic garment, and it was fastened at
the waist by a rich silk scarf. Her hair fell back, flowing down to her
feet; on her head was a curious crown of an antique pattern, and over it
all was thrown a long veil that streamed on the floor, and was of such
transparent texture that it looked like woven sunbeams.

Such was the impersonation of the Vèdic beauty Damayanti. When she
reached the centre of the circular pavilion she lifted her eyes, and,
seeing five Nalas instead of one, started backward, clasped her lovely
arms on her bosom, and, rocking herself gently to and fro, moaned,
"Alas! alas! there are five Nalas, all so like my own true sinless
chief. How shall I discover the one to whom alone I have pledged my
undying love?"

At this juncture the music ceased and a deep silence fell upon the
audience. Every eye was riveted on that lovely creature seemingly
overcome with the tide of sorrow and uncertainty that swept over her.
Suddenly pausing in her moans, she turned up her fine eyes to the sky,
and with some new inward light dawning as it were upon her troubled soul
said audibly, "To the gods alone I will trust. If they are indeed gods,
they will not deceive a poor mortal woman like me."

Then, quivering and trembling, with flushed cheeks and lustrous eyes,
she folded her hands and knelt in reverence before the gods and prayed
aloud, and said, "O ye gods, as in word or thought I swerve not from my
love and faith to Nala, so I here adjure you to resume your immortal
forms and reveal to me my Nala, that I may in your holy presence choose
him for my pure and sinless husband."

Kneeling there with her face turned up, her hands folded, the outlines
of her beautiful form made even more lovely by the half-softened halo of
light shed over her from above, she seemed like some beautiful vision,
and not a thing of flesh and blood. I never witnessed anything more
truly exquisite and tender in its simple womanhood than this rendering
of the beautiful Vèdic character of Damayanti.

Again the voices of the musicians were heard interpreting for us the
thoughts and feelings of the gods: "We are filled with wonder at her
steadfast love and peerless beauty," etc., etc. Once more the curtain is
dropped, and presently it folds up again, revealing the forms of the
four bright gods as at first in all the splendor of their robes, crowned
and flashing with jewels, and fragrant with the garlands of fresh
flowers that hang around their necks.

Damayanti rose from her bended knees. With pleased and childlike wonder
she gazed at the gods one moment, then turned to her own true Nala, who
stood before her in striking contrast to the gods, with moisture on his
brow, dust on his garments, soiled head-dress and faded garland. But on
recognizing him as the true Nala she folded her hands in sudden rapture
and gave a cry of joy; then, removing from her own neck her garland of
mohgree-flowers, moved with quiet grace toward her lover, knelt and
kissed the hem of his dusty robe, arose and threw around his neck her
own fresh, radiant wreath of flowers, saying, "So I choose for my lord
and husband Nishádah's noble king." At this speech a sound of wild
sorrow burst from the rejected suitors, but the gods shouted, "Well
done! well done!" Then the happy Nala, turning to the blushing
Damayanti, said, "Since, O maiden, you have chosen me for your husband
in the presence of the gods, know this, that I will ever be your
faithful lover, delight in your words, your looks, your thoughts, and so
long as this soul inhabits this body, so long as the moon turns to the
sun till the sun grows cold and ceases to shine, so long shall I be
thine, and thine only."

One more loud shout from the herald, the curtain dropped, the play and
the day were over, for it was just twelve o'clock.

The Oriental and European guests took their leave of their amiable host
with much salââming and many expressions of delight, for the play had
been arranged by Ram Chunder himself.

After a few minutes our host kindly conducted me to an inner apartment
of his dwelling to introduce me, as he had promised, to his wife, who
had already quitted her place behind the curtains, whence she and her
maids had witnessed the performance, and had retired to her own rooms,
which were (as in the case of all rich Hindoos or even Mohammedans)
separate from those occupied by her husband. Traversing a long and
narrow passage, we came to an arched doorway, with a dark silk curtain
hanging before it, guarded by two women seated on either side. They rose
and salââmed to us, and Ram Chunder, instead of walking in as any
ordinary European husband would have done, inquired of them if the lady
Kesinèh had retired.

"No, your lordship," replied the ceremonious Hindoo maid-servant; "she
waits yours and the English lady's presence."

On which Ram Chunder drew aside the heavy drapery and bade me enter,
saying, "I will return for you in a quarter of an hour or so."

Left alone, I stepped into a dimly-lighted but spacious room, at the
farther end of which I saw seated a Hindoo lady surrounded by several
female attendants.

As far as I could observe in the dim light, she was dark, but handsome
and dressed like the generality of Hindoo women, only that her veil,
instead of being drawn over her head, was thrown back, and trailed on
the floor beside her. She did not rise to greet me, but salââmed to me
from her place, and patted a cushion close by her as an invitation for
me to be seated. This was, as I soon found, owing to the fact that her
little daughter, lying half asleep in a little Hindoo cradle close by,
was holding her hand, and she feared to disturb her. I sat down and
looked over into the cradle; there lay a soft plump, brown child, a
little girl of about two years of age, perfectly nude, with a string of
gold coins around her neck and each of her arms. In the presence of such
perfect innocence and trust the narrow distinctions of races and creeds
seemed to fade away: I only felt here was another woman like myself, and
she a mother; and, in truth, I could not have long felt otherwise, in
spite of any prejudices I may have had; Kesinèh was too natural and
simple a creature for one to feel anything but at home with her.

The first words that she said to me, after satisfying herself that
little "Brownee" (as I always called her) was asleep, were, "How long
have you been married?" Then, "What does your husband look like? How old
are you? Where do you live?" etc., etc. My answers seemed to please her
very much, for she patted my knee and laughed softly, and said, "Oh,
heart! oh, heart! how happy you must be!"

We then talked about her own life. She told me that she had been married
four years, that she had hoped "Brownee" was going to be a son, "but she
turned out a daughter after all," said poor Kesinèh with a sigh. "Do you
love her less for that?" I inquired. "Oh no, indeed," said Kesinèh
quickly; "I think I love her more, but my lord would have been better
pleased with me if she had been a son instead of a daughter." "But,"
said I, trying to comfort her for her disappointment, "it was not your
fault that your child happened to be a daughter." "Oh yes," said the
lady with great energy, "it was my own fault. I committed the sin of
marrying my own brother in a former state of existence; thus I am now
doomed to have a daughter for my first-born child in this." I did not
know what to say to this odd explanation, and there was a pause, but at
length I ventured to suggest that whether it was so or not she must
admit that little "Brownee" was a treasure. "Oh yes," said Kesinèh with
joyful emphasis--"a lovely, bewildering little thing;" and she leaned
lovingly over the little sleeper.

I noticed that in everything this Hindoo lady said or did there was no
affectation of voice or manner, no effort to please or entertain me, but
a simple and natural expression of herself.

When it was time for me to go I put her one question which I longed most
to have answered: "Who is that very beautiful Nautchnee who danced the
cup-dance and performed the part of Damayanti this evening?"

"I do not know," said the lady Kesinèh with great interest in her
manner. "Is she not beautiful? The Nautchnees were hired for this
evening. I would like to know who she is too."

Then, turning to one of her attendants, who was listening to every word
we said with a smile on her face, she inquired, "Ummah, do you know the
owner of the Nautchnees who were here to-night?"

"Yes, my lady," replied the woman.

"If you hear anything about her you will let me know, for I have fallen
in love with her," said I, half in jest and half in earnest. "Mah mi!
mah mi!" laughed Kesinèh--"so have I. She is a heart-distracting
creature. Every one who saw her dance and act will dream of her
to-night. Mah mi! mah mi! how proud she must feel!"

I wished her good-night in the strictest Hindoo fashion, taught me by
the pundit.

"Ram, Ram," said I, "devâ Ram!"[46] Putting my folded hands to my brow
and stooping, I lightly kissed the little sleeper in the cradle.

The very next moment Kesinèh had sprung up, and, putting her arms around
my neck, she laid her brow against mine and repeated that tender Hindoo
farewell than which there is nothing more exquisite in human language:
"The gods send that neither sun nor wind, neither rain nor any earthly
sorrow, brush by thee too roughly, my friend."

Content and pleased with my new acquaintance, we parted, but not without
my promise to visit her again.

The dancing-girls of India may be divided into three classes: the
Nautchnees, who are actresses, or ballet-girls, or both; the
Bayahdiers, or Bhayadhyas, dedicated by their parents in childhood as
votive offerings to certain temples, and consecrated to them at the age
of womanhood; and the common "Cusban," a grade even lower than either of
these, whose ranks are chiefly supplied from the abandoned Mohammedan
women, the Purwarees, the lowest of all castes in Central India, as well
as from the disaffected runaways of either of the two former and more
reputable professions. The Cusban, therefore, is the scum and refuse of
the lowest-caste females in India.

One day, accompanied by Kesinèh, I visited a Nautchnee establishment of
which the beautiful dancing-girl who so much attracted me was an inmate.
It was kept by a native man and his wife, named respectively Dhanut and
Saineh Bebee. We drove to it in a Hindoo carriage, a round seat for two
or more persons placed on wheels, drawn by a pair of milk-white
bullocks, and covered with a curious conical structure of wickerwork
hung with crimson silk curtains. We took our places on two cushions
cross-legged; the driver sat in front, and with a sharp crack of the
whip started the bullocks at a brisk trot and sent us bumping up and
down. On our way we caught glimpses of a population even more strange
than those to be met daily in the parts of the island more frequented by
Europeans. The dirtiness of a low-caste, poverty-stricken Oriental
street is inconceivable. Filth reigned supreme in some of the lanes and
alleys through which we passed. A rank vegetation clothed everything;
trees hung with many-colored festoons of leaves and flowers formed thick
tapestries of foliage on the right and on the left.

There is no country in the world (save the beautiful island of Ceylon)
that is kinder to the sluggard. The poorest soil will grow certain
qualities of fruit and cocoanut palms. The native population in some
parts here seemed almost too indolent to move out of the way of our
carriage-wheels, but they were peaceful enough. Stones, old broken bits
of earthenware, wheels, broken litters, impeded the way, and cows, dogs,
hens, chickens, pigs, ducks, and children less clad than any of these,
roamed idly about in the streets and gutters or narrow lanes. As a rule,
no refuse or rubbish of any kind whatever is removed, but is left to
accident and the action of natural chemistry. Burnt-down huts covered
over with the ever-ready parasitic plants, old wells and tanks filled
with stagnant water abounding in frogs, water-snakes, and all kinds of
reptiles, add to the sluggish appearance of the place. Gayly-dressed
native women, idle men--among whom may be seen some poor depraved
British tars--and male and female hucksters of fruit and sweetmeats,
complete the picture.

The Nautchnees' establishment was a curious building surrounded by a
high wall. We entered through a gate, and were at once conducted by a
couple of old women across a paved courtyard planted all around with the
mohgree, oleander, and tall red and white rose trees. Passing this, we
were introduced into a great bare hall, with low seats ranged around the
walls, curtained all along the farther end of the room, into which inner
chambers seemed to open. Here we took our places. One of the old women
stayed by us, while the other went off to announce our visit to the head
lady of the establishment.

The great slave-markets which we have all read so much about, where
tender young girls are bought and sold as if they were cattle, no longer
exist in British India, but the amount of traffic of the kind that is
still carried on everywhere is incredible, although the fact is
vigorously denied by both the buyer and the seller. In many cases these
Nautchnees are not bought, but hired for a term of years, for money paid
not to the girls themselves, but to parents or friends. In the course of
time the parents die or move away, and the girl, after having given her
best days to her employers, finds herself without money, friends, or
social ties, and is glad enough to spend the remainder of her life in
instructing the younger members of the establishment of which, with the
fidelity so natural to Oriental women, she considers herself a member,
and therefore bound for life to promote its interests.

After a few moments Sainah Bebee came in to greet the lady Kesinèh. She
salââmed most deferentially to us, and took her place on the floor. She
was a woman about fifty and a native of Afghanistan, tall and finely
formed. She spoke of difficulty in procuring respectable young girls to
fill the places of those who ran away, were sold to certain rich
admirers for wives or concubines, or died. It would appear that the
lowest, or Cusban, class was largely increasing, whereas that of the
Nautchnees was fast diminishing. On my questioning the old lady about
the average life of the Nautchnees, she could give me no clear estimate,
but intimated very decidedly that they generally died young.

At my especial request we were shown into the exercising-room and almost
over the entire establishment. There were over a hundred girls, of all
ages, and all shades of complexion from dark-brown to a pale delicate
olive, going through their exercises at the time. The hall was composed
of bamboo trellis-work, and was light, spacious, and airy enough. From
the roof hung all sorts of gymnastic apparatus, rude but curious--ropes
to which the girls clung as they whirled round on tiptoe; wheels on
which they were made to walk in order to learn a peculiar circular
dance called "chakranee" (from "chak," a wheel); slipknots into which
they fastened one arm or one leg, thus holding it motionless while they
exercised the other; cups, revolving balls, which they sprang up to
catch; and heaps of fragile cords, with which they spin round and round,
and if any one of these snap under too great a pressure, they are
punished, though never very severely.

Altogether, it was a strange sight. Most of the girls from ten to
fourteen had nothing on but a short tight pair of drawers; the older
ones had tight short-sleeved bodices in addition to the drawers; and
those under ten were naked. They were all good-looking; a few here and
there were beautiful. The delicate and refined outline of their
features, the soft tint of their rich complexions, the dreamy expression
of their large, dark, quiet eyes, added to great symmetry of form, made
them strangely fascinating.

The teachers were all middle-aged women, some of whom looked prematurely
old. The girls are taught to repeat poems and plays, but no books are

The dormitories in this establishment were bare rooms; the girls all
slept on mats or cushions on the floor. Each had a _lota_, or
drinking-cup, a little mirror, and a native box in which to keep her
clothes. The more finished and accomplished Nautchnees had rooms to
themselves. I went into one of these. It was matted, and was very simply
furnished. A tier of boxes in which her jewels and robes were kept, a
cot, a few brass lotas, fans, cojas, or water-holders, with some tiny
looking-glasses ranged along the wall,--and this was all.

I inquired for the beautiful Nautchnee who had interested me. Her name
was Khangee; she was a Soodahnee by birth. The Soodahs are a military
race or tribe inhabiting parts of the province of Cutch; they find
their chief wealth in the beauty of their daughters, and for one of the
Soodahnees a rich Mohammedan will pay from a thousand to ten thousand
rupees.[47] Rajahs, wealthy Mohammedan merchants, and proprietors of
dancing-girls often despatch their emissaries to Cutch, Cabool,
Cashmere, and Rajpootana in search of beautiful women. The fame of the
Cashmerian and Soodah women has spread far and wide, and often some
beautiful creature is picked up out of the hovels of Thur, Booly, or
Cashmere and transplanted to the gorgeous pomp of a royal harem. The
Rajpoots intermarry with the Soodah and Cashmerian women, and, being
naturally a handsome race, they have preserved by this means that
physical beauty of which they are so justly proud.

Very little was known of Khangee's history beyond the fact that she was
a Soodahnee by birth. She was bought at an early age from her parents,
who were poor and occupied a hovel in the village of Thur in Cutch, and
sold to this establishment when in her seventh year, and was almost as
ignorant of her parentage as a newly-born babe. At the time of our visit
she had been hired with a party of Nautchnees to assist in the
marriage-celebration which was to take place at the house of a rich
Bunyâh, or Hindoo grain-merchant.

These Nautchnees often marry well, and become chaste wives and mothers
of large families. The four requisites for a Nautchnee are bright eyes,
fine teeth, long hair, and a perfect symmetry of form and feature. A
small black mole between the eyebrows or on either cheek will enhance
her value to an extraordinary degree.

The utter friendlessness, the quiet submission, expressed in the actions
and faces of the young girls, and even of the little children, we had
seen exercising and acquiring their different parts that morning, were
very pathetic. There was none of the impetuosity of youth nor of the
joyousness of childhood. It is a sad and dreary picture, these
parentless children of the East living for some rich man's pleasure, and
dying as they live, often unloved and uncared for by any relative or

"Bayahdier" is the name generally applied by the French and Portuguese
to the dancing-girls attached to temples.[48] They are distinct from the
Nautchnees, and are held sacred as priestesses. In case of sickness,
famine, or other individual or social calamity Hindoo parents will
repair to the temple and there vow to dedicate a daughter, sometimes yet
unborn, to the service of Siva, provided the gods avert the threatened
danger. Such vows are also made by barren women, who promise, if the
curse of barrenness be removed, to dedicate to Siva their first-born
daughter; and all such vows are religiously performed. When the child
thus consecrated is born, the first thing that is necessary is for the
father to repair to the temple and register her name as a devotee of the
temple, break a cocoanut at the shrine of Siva, and take from the hand
of the Brahman priest a little holy oil, shaindoor, a sort of red paint,
and mud obtained from the Ganges; with which he returns to mark the
newly-born child. From this moment she is looked upon as a priestess,
and is exempt from all household or any other employment. At the age of
five she attends the temple daily, where she is taught by the priests to
read, chant, sing, and dance in the schools attached to it. When the
girl has reached womanhood she undergoes certain purifications. Holy
oil and grated sandal-wood are rubbed over her person; she is then
bathed, perfumed, fumigated, dressed in a robe peculiar to these
priestesses--a full petticoat with a handsome border, short enough to
show her feet and ankles, which are covered with jewels; a very short
boddice, and over this is thrown a spotted muslin veil; the hair is
ornamented with jewels of gold and silver, as are the neck, arms, and
throat. She then enters the temple, takes her place near the stone image
of Siva; generally her right hand is bound to that of the holy image,
her forehead is marked with his sign, and she confirms the vow made by
her parents to dedicate her body to the service and maintenance of the
temple. With some few advantages of education, this temple-service may
be regarded as one of the most corrupt and depraving institutions of the
Hindoos--injurious alike to the moral and physical welfare of the
community at large, and moreover debasing to the character of the
Brahman priests themselves in their open recognition and encouragement
of vice. These poor devotees often accept their fate with that stolid
indifference peculiar to the Orientals, and are taught to believe that
their immoralities are sacred to the god to whom they are dedicated.

The services on the death of one of these priestesses are peculiar. When
at the point of death a mud idol of Siva is placed in her arms. Her
mouth, eyes, nose, and ears are rubbed with holy oil, and then touched
with flame obtained from a sacrificial fire, to purify from the taint of
her impure life; in her hands are placed the _toolsi_[49] flowers, and
her body is robed in pure white; after which she is made to repeat a
hymn praying that as she has consecrated her body to the service of the
gods, so may her soul be freed from rebirth and reunited to the Infinite
Soul. If she is too feeble to repeat this prayer, the priests chant it
in her dying ear. When life becomes extinct she is carried to a quiet
spot in the vicinity of the temple, burned, and her ashes buried then
and there. Sometimes a fellow-sister will plant a toolsi or moghree tree
on the site, but no monument ever marks the spot where these poor
priestesses of passion are cremated.

These devotees are never taken in marriage; they are looked upon as the
brides of their various deities; they are generally childless. If a
woman happens to have a child, however, she is sole arbitress of its
fate, and in no instance has she ever been known to dedicate it to the
life to which she has been doomed. She generally hands it over to her
parents or nearest relatives as a substitute for herself.

There are hospitals and asylums for the sick, infirm, and aged of this
class of women, though from all I could learn very few arrive at old

The Cusban, or lowest class of dancing-women, is very largely recruited
from runaways from these Hindoo temples, and it is said that in course
of time they become the most abandoned and desperate of the native

Even the most intelligent people, unless they have made a special study
of India, can have no idea of the marked differences that exist between
the Brahmans and these different classes of women. The pure Brahman,
with the three other Aryan castes in so far as they have not
intermarried with the aborigines, are of Caucasian type. In the northern
provinces they are not brown, but of a complexion almost as fair as that
of many dark Europeans. Both the men and women are distinguished by
symmetry of form, fine soft hair, and beautiful eyes. Their ideal of
beauty is similar to ours, with this exception: that they have adhered
more closely in matters of dress to the original simplicity of form than
Europeans have done.

Theatrical representations, such as that of Ram Chunder, are much in
vogue. The dramatic art in Hindostan about the period of the Christian
era was of a high and lofty character. It was the great school wherein
kings, warriors, and soldiers were taught the purest ideals of chivalry
and manly and womanly purity of character; but at the present time it
has greatly degenerated, although in many parts of India the more
enlightened Hindoos are trying to restore it once more to its true and
original place among the high arts. Everywhere theatrical exhibitions
are held, often in the open air or under temporary sheds. The actresses
are the Nautchnees, and a respectable Hindoo woman will rarely attend
these public places. The native Roman Catholics in Southern India and
Ceylon have also religious dramas, in no way superior to those of the
Hindoos; the overshadowing of the Virgin, the birth of Christ, the
crucifixion, and so forth, are very similar to the scenes represented of
Krishna and the Hindoo incarnation.

Social dancing does not exist among the nations of the East, and it is
considered highly indecorous for a Hindoo woman of pure character to
dance. Even the Nautchnees, if they become wives or even concubines to
rich men, as often happens, abandon all such practices; and their
children are never allowed to know their mother's early profession, so
deep is the national sentiment with regard to the domestic relations of
a wife and mother.

Public reading of popular poems, histories, and dramas as a source of
amusement is very common all through Northern and Southern Hindostan.
The reading is always performed in parts. A wealthy Hindoo will engage a
number of professional readers to perform the task, and every one who
wishes to hear may do so. The readers always take their places in an
open verandah, and the people in large numbers seat themselves around
within hearing distance. The recitation is given; each person performs
his or her part in the prescribed order with a musical cadence. The
expositor gives a free translation for the benefit of the people, who
are thus made acquainted with the most celebrated Hindoo works.

Chess is a favorite game among the Hindoos, and it is one of the most
ancient, alluded to even in their earliest productions, and quite common
among all classes and grades of society. This game is peculiarly adapted
to the Hindoo mind, in which quiet thought, perspicacity, and shrewdness
are so strongly marked. Cards with the figures of their gods and
goddesses are a source of great amusement; the women are much given to
this indoor recreation. The Ashta-Kasti is a game played on a board of
twenty-five squares with sixteen cowries or small shells. It is played
by four persons, and is finished when one of the pieces, traversing the
length and breadth of the board, enters first into the central square.
Mohgali[50] Patan is a favorite game among the superior classes of
Hindoo women. It is a representation of a battle between the _Mohgals_
and Patans. The battle-field is accurately drawn; on one side is the
_Mohgal_ army, and on the other the Patan. Hindoo ladies play it with
great skill. Another military game, the Pàshà, played on ninety-six
squares and with sixteen pieces, is played with great vigor and amid
peals of laughter. The moves are regulated by the throws of dice. Among
the outdoor sports are kite-flying, throwing the sling, bat-and-ball,
croquet on horseback, wrestling, running, boating, boxing, and hunting.
Itinerant jugglers are everywhere patronized.

Musical recreations are most popular of all, and not only from the
temples and palaces, but from the humblest hut of the poorest peasant,
sweet sounds everywhere greet the ear. When an instrument cannot be had
the voice is substituted; men seated in clusters under trees by the
wayside beguile the evening hours with song after song. The common
bhistee at the water's edge, the farmer at the plough, the cart-driver,
the boatman, the shepherd, the warrior, the spinner at her wheel, and
the mother beside the cradle, all delight in song, giving great effect
to tender or spiritual sentiments by the measured or animated tones of
chant, psalm, or song as it may happen to be.

Instrumental, and even vocal music, though held among the fine arts, has
not attained great eminence, yet no people are more susceptible to its
peculiar charms than the Hindoos. The word "sang-gheeta," or symphony,
implies not only the union of voices and instruments, but suitable

Musical treatises always combine "gána," the measure of poetry, "vadya,"
instrumental sound, and "uritya," dancing. The most remarkable of their
musical compositions are The Ragar Navah, "The Sea of Passion;"
Sabha-Vinodah, "The Delight of the Assemblies;" Sang-gheeta-Derpana,
"The Mirror of Song;" Raga Nibhoda, "The Doctrine of Musical Modes." All
these works explain more or less the laws of harmony, the division of
musical sounds into scales, etc., enunciation, cadence, rising and
falling variations, long and short accentuations, and rules for playing
the vina and other musical instruments. The vina is the most common; it
is not unlike a guitar, five or six feet long, with seven or more
strings, and a large gourd at each end of the finger-board.

Music, like almost everything else in India, is thought to be of divine
origin. The gamut is called swaragrama, and is uttered as _Sa_, _ri_,
_ga_, _ma_, _pa_, _dha_, _ne_. Little circles, ellipses, crescents,
chains, curves, lines, straight, horizontal, or perpendicular, are
employed as notes. The close of each strain is always marked by a
flower, especially the rose and lotus.

The mode of dress of the Hindoo is both simple and suitable to the
climate. The men wear a cloth called dhotee bound round the loins, with
an upper vest, of cotton or silk according to the wealth of the wearer,
over it. This angraka, or coat, is very graceful, generally of pure
white, and descending to the ankles; it is bound around the waist by a
colored shawl or scarf called cumberbund. A white muslin turban
artistically wound around the head and sandals complete the attire. On
festive occasions a gay handkerchief is thrown over the right shoulder,
which adds very much to the picturesqueness of the dress.

The women wear a cloth, or saree, some yards in length, often edged with
a rich and delicate embroidery of gold or silver, descending to the
feet. They gather this into a point in front, and fasten it around their
waists with or without belts, as the case may be. They then twist the
rest most gracefully around the entire person, after which it is thrown
over the head and made to serve both as a bonnet and a veil. It is very
becoming, and, wrought over with delicate Oriental devices of fine
texture, lends a peculiar charm to the most ordinary features. A bright
silk boddice is worn under the saree, and the whole dress accords well
with the sweet, modest grace and beauty which characterize the pure
Hindoo woman.

They also wear a profusion of jewels, and ears, nose, arms, wrists,
ankles, toes, and fingers are often bedecked with them. In some
instances all their wealth is thus preserved. The hair, which is often
very luxuriant, is combed back in the ordinary European style, and is
tied in a knot behind. Rich women often fasten it with a band of gold
bound around the entire head and very expensive ornamental gold pins.
The Hindoo women possess in a far greater degree than Europeans an eye
for color. The most ignorant of them have the peculiar art of selecting
strong and brilliant contrasts in color, and so disposing them on their
persons as to make a perfect harmony.

There is a marked difference between the moral and social character of
the Hindoo and the Mohammedan women of India. The Hindoo woman does not
occupy that position in society which she is so eminently fitted to
grace, and which is accorded to women in Europe and America; but she is
by no means as degraded as is so frequently represented by travellers,
who are apt to mistake the common street-women with whom they are
brought into contact for the wife and mother of an ordinary Hindoo home.
It is difficult for a stranger to find out what an Indian woman is at
home, though he may have encountered many a bedizened female in the
streets which he takes for her.

The influence of the Hindoo woman is seen and felt all through the
history of India, and is very marked in the annals of British rule.
Though the political changes, the invasion, and despotism of Mohammedan
rule may have forced upon them the seclusion now so general, it is
evident that they once occupied a very different position in society,
from the testimony of their earliest writers and the dramatic
representations of domestic life and manners still extant.

One of the most startling facts is, that among the Asiatic rulers of
India who have heroically resisted foreign invasion the women of
Hindostan have distinguished themselves almost as much as the men.
Lakshmi Baiee, the queen of Jahnsee, held the entire British army in
check for the space of twenty-four hours by her wonderful generalship,
and she would probably have come off victorious if she had not been shot
down by the enemy. After the battle Sir Hugh Rose, the English
commander, declared that the best _man_ on the enemy's side was the
brave queen Lakshmi Baiee. Another courageous and noble woman, Aus
Khoor, was placed by the British government on the throne of Pattiala,
an utterly disorganized and revolted state in the Panjaub. In less than
one year she had by her wise and effective administration changed the
whole condition of the country, subjugated the rebellious cities and
villages, increased the revenues, and established order, security, and
peace everywhere. Alleah Baiee, the Mahratta queen of Malwah, devoted
herself for the space of twenty years with unremitting assiduity to the
happiness and welfare of her people, so that Hindoos, Buddhists, Jains,
Parsees, and Mohammedans united in blessing her beneficent rule; and of
so rare a modesty was this woman that she ordered a book which extolled
her virtues to be destroyed, saying, "Could I have been so infamous as
to neglect the welfare and happiness of my subjects?"

In the historical notices of the rule of Hindóstanee women nothing is
more conspicuous than their fine, intuitive sense of honor and justice.
Clive, Hastings, Wellesley, and other governors-general of India, have
all acknowledged their high appreciation of the character of the Hindoo
women they have known, declaring that in many instances, under the
administration of Ranees and Begums, India has been more prosperous and
better governed than under the rule of the native rajahs.

The present ruler of Bhopal is a lady of high moral and intellectual
attainments; both she and her mother, who preceded her as head of the
state, have displayed the highest capacity for administration. Both have
been appointed knights of the Star of India by the empress of India,
Queen Victoria, and their territory is the best governed native state in

Very recently the queen of England created her Asiatic sisters, the
queens of Oude and Pattiala, knights of the Star of India in
appreciation of their wise and beneficent rule over their respective

During the dreadful ravages of the French and English, or the Carnatic
War, the Hindoo women administered to the wounded and suffering European
soldiers of both nations with equal tenderness and impartiality, causing
one of the English generals to report to head-quarters, "But for the
Indian women, who better understand the qualities of love and tenderness
than we Europeans, I should have left half of my wounded soldiers to die
on the battle-field. They washed the toiling feet of the poor tired
soldiers, stanched their flowing wounds, and bore them in their united
arms from the strife of the battle-field to the quiet and shelter of
their own little huts."

In that interesting narrative of occurrences at Benares during the
latter days of the month of June, 1857, furnished by a soldier of the
Seventy-eighth Highlanders, are several incidents characteristic of the
devotion and self-abnegation of the Hindoo women. This regiment or
company of soldiers, in its work of retaliation upon the Indian
mutineers, often set fire to whole villages in order to punish the rebel
sepoys sheltered by them. On one of these occasions a humane Highlander,
after having rescued several persons from the fire, rushed into the
flames to save a young woman seated calmly by a dying man, whose lips
she was wetting with some siste[51] while the fire was raging around
her. No inducement of self-preservation could prevail with her to quit
his side till they were both carried out.

Tenderness and self-devotion, as I said before, are the chief
characteristics of the pure Hindoo woman. Her love for her offspring
amounts to a passion, and she is rarely known to speak hastily, much
less to strike or ill use her child. Her devotion as a wife has no
parallel in the history of the world. Marriage is a sacred, indissoluble
bond, which even death itself cannot destroy, and the patient,
much-enduring women of India took the terrible yoke of sutteeism upon
them in becoming wives as calmly as the young English or American girl
puts on her bridal veil, and have gone to the funeral pile for centuries
without a murmur.

In the purer and more ancient period of Indian civilization it was not
customary to force a widow upon the funeral pyre of her husband. But the
fearful prospects of Hindoo widowhood, which made her future existence
appear to her a long, wearisome, and distasteful series of sad duties,
made her gladly choose death rather than life. Besides which, she died
honored and happy, having by her death redeemed her husband from a
thousand years of penance. By degrees, this fearful practice, fostered
by the priests and poets of India, became a sacred tradition carefully
handed down from mother to daughter, and at last came to be regarded as
a sublime sacrifice on the marriage altar. The practice of sutteeism has
been virtually abolished by the British government on British-Indian
soil, but to this day women will perform painful journeys to places
still governed by native princes in order to burn themselves alive.

In 1834, while Dr. Burnes was residing at Cutch, a very remarkable case
of sutteeism took place in that province. The only wife of Bhooj-Rhai, a
wealthy and intimate friend of the rao or king, had, during her
husband's illness, declared her intention of performing suttee at his
death. When the time arrived the rao, at the instance of the British
resident, expostulated with her, but all in vain. Protection was also
offered her in the name of the British government, but her determination
remained firm and unshaken. On the morning appointed for the burning of
Bhooj-Rhai's body a funeral pyre was erected immediately in front of Rao
Lakka's tomb. A spot was enclosed with a circle of bamboos, the tops of
which were bound together in the form of a beehive, covered with dried
grass and thorns; the entrance was a small aperture on the left side.
Crowds of gayly-dressed people flocked to the spot. The moment the
victim, a remarkably handsome woman about thirty, and most superbly
dressed, appeared, accompanied by the Brahman priests, her relatives,
and the dead body of her husband, the people greeted her with loud
exclamations of praise and delight, poured forth benedictions on her
head for her constancy and virtue, and showered flowers on her path as
she was borne along; women pressed to touch the hem of her garments,
hoping thereby to be absolved from all sin and preserved from all evil

Dr. Burnes addressed the woman, desiring to know whether the act she was
about to perform was voluntary or enforced by the priests, and offered
her again, on the part of the British government, a guarantee for the
protection of her life and property. Her answer was calmly heroic, and
she could not be dissuaded from her purpose: "I die of my own free
will," said she; "give me back my husband and I will consent to live."
Seeing that nothing could move her from her resolution, Dr. Burnes
despatched a message to the rao requesting his interference. He returned
answer that it was beyond his power to arrest the ceremony. Everything
was done, but in vain, to save the life of this infatuated woman, and at
length the ceremony began. Accompanied by the officiating Brahmans, the
widow walked seven times round the pyre, repeating the usual mantras or
prayers, strewing rice and cowries (small shells) on the ground,
sprinkling holy water over her friends and relatives and on the
bystanders. She then removed her jewels and presented them to her
nearest relations with a glad smile. The Brahman priest then presented
her with a lighted torch; taking it from his hand, she stepped through
the fatal entrance and calmly seated herself within the pile. The body
of her husband, wrapped in rich _kinkaub_ (gold cloth), was then carried
seven times round the pile, and finally laid across her knees. The door
was left unclosed, in the hope that the deluded woman might yet repent
and escape. Not a sigh, not a whisper, broke the death-like silence of
the crowd. The intrepid woman held up her torch and ignited the pile.
Presently a slight smoke, curling from the summit of the pyre, gave
notice that the fiery ordeal had begun; then came a tongue of flame
darting with lightning rapidity toward the clear blue sky, announcing
that the sacrifice was completed, though not a sound betrayed that a
living victim was within holding a dead corpse in her arms. So far as
courage and silent, resolute determination went, she was more immovable
than the dead clay she held in her last fiery embrace. At the sight of
the ascending crackling flames wild shouts of exultation rent the air,
the drums beat, the people clapped their hands in delighted applause,
while the English spectators of the scene withdrew, bearing deep
compassion in their hearts.

After the fiery consummation had taken place, on the ground where the
sadhwee, or "pure one," had expired three chatties, or earthen vessels,
full of consecrated balls of rice, were placed as offerings to the gods.

The Bombay government notified the rao at once that the repetition of
such inhuman atrocities would not again be overlooked.[52] This had no
doubt some effect on His Highness, but nevertheless some time after this
sacrifice the beautiful mother of the rao suddenly fell ill and died,
and one of her female attendants voluntarily buried herself alive near
her mistress, in order that she should be in readiness to attend her in
a future state.

It is very difficult for the Western mind to comprehend this utter
self-abnegation on the part of Hindoos, and it can only be accounted for
by their deep faith in the universal metamorphosis of life and the
unreality of form. _Maya_[53] is illusion, the evanescent dream of life,
which is only a "sleep between a sleep," the constant flow of form into
form, of thought into thought, of life into other life. Even Brahm does
not recognize himself in the second person: "I know when I am I, but who
am I when I am thou?" It renders individuality illusive, intangible, and
uncertain, so that to the Hindoos life and possession assume a meaning
entirely different from that with which we are disposed to regard them.
It is true that life loses half its charms, but death is robbed of its
terrors. Life is valued only in so far as they are prepared to lay it
aside, or rather to change it for some other form; for life and death
are but the perpetual ebb and flow, the advance or retrograde, of soul
toward "the Soul." Under this ardent faith, that everything above,
below, beyond, God himself, is illusion, change, metamorphosis, is
hidden the secret that helps them to endure suffering not only without a
murmur, but with joy, and to count death itself a positive gain in the
presence of the eternal, immutable, and solid fact of life to be found
at last in the final reunion of the human with the divine life. This
faith so potent, so absorbing, so far reaching, has stamped a character
hereditary and almost ineffaceable on the Hindoo mind.

To-day Brahmanism is so expansive in character that it takes in every
form and peculiarity of religious sentiment. The more earnest and
spiritual have grand and magnificent theories of God that supply ample
food for the imagination; the tender have laws that reach down almost to
vegetable life; the ignorant and vulgar have attractive festivals and
endless ceremonials suited to engage their attention; the vicious and
degraded have the loves and frivolities of the gods and heroes, whose
lives encourage pursuit of sensual gratifications; the devotee who
abandons all that is sensual for spiritual insight has text upon text
and example upon example, taken from the Puranas[54] and from the actual
lives of saints, to support him in the effort of finding God at last.
The self-sacrificing only quits an illusion for a reality, and the
idolater who bows down before wood and stone believes that he sees
before him only the form of a divine life hidden everywhere in matter.
Thus highest religious thought and life and lowest sensual indulgence
meet together in the theology of the Brahmans.


[45] A new school of the Brahmanic order--"Brahmo-Somaj," meaning an
assembly in the name of God. This Church has connected itself with every
progressive movement in India. The originator of this social and
religious movement was Rajah Rammahun Roy, a very learned man. In 1818
he published, for the benefit of his own countrymen, selections from the
teachings of Jesus, taken from the Gospels, in Sanskrit and Bengali,
calling the book "The Precepts of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and
Happiness." He died and was buried in England in 1833. Rammahun Roy
built a church in Calcutta, where the Brahmo-Somaj still hold their
worship. The members belonging to this new school of religious thought
are estimated at ten thousand. The women have a separate prayer-meeting
from the men. Their form of worship is very simple--singing of hymns
adapted from the Vèdas or from the Brahmanasu, or Brahman Aspirations,
the Christian Bible, and extempore prayer, followed by an exhortation on
morality and purity of thought and character. The late Mr. Keshub
Chunder Sen was everywhere recognized as their chief leader.

[46] "Rama, Rama, the god Rama, bless you!"

[47] The value of a rupee is about forty-five American cents.

[48] Their names vary with the language. I have heard them called "Khoo
mattees" in parts of Guzerat; also "Dhayahtees" in the Deccan, and
Bhaladhya in parts of Western India, from Sanskrit "bala," youth, and
"dhya," tenderness.

[49] Ocymum or sweet basil. This plant has a very dark-blue flower, and
hence, like the large bluish-black bees of India, is held sacred to
Krishna and his amours. A fable, however, is told in the Purânas
concerning the metamorphosis of the nymph Toolasi (by Krishna) into the
shrub which has since borne her name, because he could not return her

[50] This word is generally pronounced _Mohgul_ by the natives of India.

[51] A peculiar little seed from which a cooling drink is prepared. A
preparation of rice and water, when cooled, is often called "siste."

[52] See _Cutch_, chapter vi., by Mr. Postans, 1839.

[53] The illusion or unreality of all created things, according to
Brahman mystics.

[54] The "Puranas," or Hindoo Antiquities, are by no means as ancient as
they are named. They are eighteen volumes in all, but consisting of no
less than one million six hundred thousand sacred lines treating of
creation, mythology, tradition, and legend.


     From Bombay to Poonah, the capital of the Maha Rashtra, or the
     great Indian kings.--Campooly.--The Ascent of the Bhor
     Ghauts.[55]--Khandala.--Caves of Carlee or Karli.--"Puja Chakra,"
     or the famous Wheel-worship of the Brahmans.--Poonah.--Kirki.--A
     Visit to the Peishwa's Palace.--Temple of Parvati.--The Pundit and
     the Brahman Priest at Prayer.--Sanskrit and English Colleges at
     Poonah.--Suttee Monuments at Sangam.--Hindoo Bankers, etc.

From the island of the ancient goddess Bamba Dèvi to Poonah, the capital
of the great Indian kings, one passes through the most extravagant
contrasts of sights and scenes to be found anywhere in the wide
world--gorgeous temples of gods and squallid dwellings of men; fertile
plains and arid wastes; towering hills crowned with ancient forts and
temples, now lonely or deserted; deep cave-structures in the hearts of
isolated mountains, where still lie written in stone the romantic
culture of a long-past age.

Our dâhk, which was simply a native carriage furnished with horses
instead of bullocks, trotted briskly along the magnificent "Lion
Causeway." Passing rapidly the eastern side of the island of Salsette to
Thannah, and crossing the great viaduct and round the promontory of
Parsek, we turned to the south, and emerged on a striking plain whose
attractiveness increased at every mile of the road until we began the
descent of the Bhor Ghauts on the other side.

[Illustration: BULLOCK CART.]

In some parts our road lay over a great green floor soft as velvet,
intersected with innumerable river-like channels, made in the lowlands
by the ever-encroaching sea. Palm trees fringed these salt-water
streams, dotted with hundreds of the fanciful sails of fishing-smacks,
bunder-boats, and brightly painted canoes, all moving to and fro swiftly
and silently under the shadows of the hills, which rise in fantastic
broken forms on one side. There is no sound far or near to break the
spell; the silent, forest-clad Ghauts and the whole sea-begirt valley
lie asleep in that enchanted atmosphere.

At sunset we reached the village of Campooly, at the foot of the
Ghauts--a mean, dirty, and terribly unhealthy spot, situated immediately
under the lofty barrier-wall of rock called the Bhor Ghauts, which props
up the great table-land of the Deccan[56]--an immense plateau, with
large rivers, innumerable hills covered with forts, magnificent towns,
cities, villages, and many millions of inhabitants.

This enormous mountain-chain of the Deccan, the first of the steps that
rise one above the other till they terminate in the great plateau of
Thibet, the highest land of the Himâlayas, starts up almost
perpendicularly from the Konkan, or lowlands, and is securely fastened
together by huge buttresses of primeval granite, naked and frightful to
look upon in some places, and again singularly beautiful in others. A
railroad and a tunnel have since been built across this once almost
inaccessible barrier, and is said to be "a noble piece of engineering,"
for the Ghauts extend over thirteen degrees of latitude and rise in some
parts to a height of five thousand five hundred feet above the level of
the sea.

There was a fine bungalow, built by Bala Roa Angria for the
accommodation of European travellers, at Campooly, where we passed the
first hours of the night to await some palanquins with their bearers
that had already started up the Ghauts. This bungalow is only occupied
by chance wayfarers. Here we took up our abode, and only a tribe of
monkeys showed the least inclination to prevent our doing so. There were
sixteen in all; they were evidently enjoying themselves running in and
out of the half-deserted building. A number on the roof were throwing
down into the verandah the peculiar nutlike fruit of the large and
graceful peepul trees that overshadowed the house. Some were peeping in
at the doors and windows, and some were swinging themselves from the
rafters. The moment we appeared they showed regular fight, screamed,
chattered, and no doubt swore at us hard and fast in monkey fashion;
but, what seemed to me most curious, there was not a man in our service
who would perform the unkind office of dispersing them from the
bungalow. We had to send for our driver, who, being a Musulman, had no
scruples of early ancestry or primitive divinities. He took off his
cumberbund, or scarf, twisted it into a whip with a knot at the end, and
despatched the bulk of the tribe back into the forest whence they had
come. Only one great black-bearded male monkey remained on the roof in
spite of the brandished rag; when we were at supper this huge creature
suddenly suspended himself downward by the tail, looked in upon us, and,
opening his hideous jaws, uttered some fierce imprecations, which, as
our pundit would say, "were perfectly intelligible, but not
translatable," and, having done this, he vanished, and we saw nothing
more of him for that evening.

There is here a Hindoo temple, and a fine reservoir which occupies a
quarter of a mile of ground. This reservoir and the adjoining temple,
dedicated to Maha Dèo, were built by that most subtle of Mahratta
ministers, the famous Nana Furnaveez, whose real name was Balaji
Jahnardhan. It is exceedingly well built; the sides are lined and the
banks paved with fine stone; steps lead everywhere to the edge of the
water; a magnificent banyan tree overshadows the artificial lake, and
near it flourishes a fine grove of mango trees.

On the opposite side of us men, women, and children were bathing,
swimming and disporting themselves in the water. Some of the young women
were symmetry itself, with exquisitely-proportioned, slender forms,
delicate hands and feet, finely-poised heads and necks. Their long hair
streamed behind them in the water as they swam merrily about. Others
were just stepping out of the tank arrayed in their graceful but
dripping sarees, which they allow to dry on their persons while they
proceed to fill their water-jars, and, piling them one above the other
on their heads, depart to their respective homes. These women seemed
very innocent and child-like, and a closer acquaintance with several
high-bred and true Hindoos proved that these were their distinguishing

At three o'clock next morning we began the ascent of the Ghauts in
palanquins, or, as they are commonly called, palkees, with coolies to
transport our baggage and provisions. About sunrise we reached a very
remarkable point in these mountains, a deep and frightful-looking chasm.
We alighted from our palkees and went over this part of the Ghauts on
foot. At length we were directed as near as we dared to approach the
spot where the mountain was split in two.[57] Not a sound was heard
anywhere. As we stood there the shadows of the crags brightened every
moment, now shimmered along the sides, and shed flickering shafts of
light far down upon the midnight darkness below. It was a glorious
picture--the depth below and the height above, on whose summits the
plumes of the palm trees waved their branches to the rising sun.

The atmosphere was remarkably clear, and this helped us to see a great
distance with the naked eye. On one side gently-falling slopes gave
place to abrupt precipices and innumerable peaks, and on the other far
below were smiling plains, each more beautiful than the other in form
and color, affording now and then most magical glimpses of green fields
dotted with great reservoirs that looked like silvery spots, and cozy
little Hindoo villages nestling amid charming groves and

As the story goes, the duke of Wellington, then a simple colonel, cast
all his guns into one of these reservoirs when he found no means of
conveying them any farther, lest they should fall into the hands of the
enemy, as he marched over the same road to Poonah and there quelled the
famous Mahratta rebellion of 1802.

Now on foot and now in palkees we at length ascended these Ghauts,
sweeping round and round, now ascending, now descending, passing by
dreadful precipices, drawing breath under quaint natural bowers,
following winding paths, and coming suddenly upon foaming cascades
leaping from rock to rock. So we went from beauty to ever-increasing
beauty, till we reached the village of Khandala, on the very top of the
mountain, near which a travellers' bungalow stands with open arms--or
verandahs--to receive us. And here was opened to us the full
enchantments of the fairyland through which we had been passing upward.
All of a sudden from this high peak we beheld a most beautiful and
varied picture--sharp peaks of every form and shape and size,
tremendous ravines, towering mountains, leaping waterfalls, sloping
hillsides, and waving palms and mountain-forests, clearly outlined
against a deep-blue sky, and over all these varied forms of nature the
sunlight floats and melts, a sea of gold. No artist, however gifted, no
pencil, however matchless, can catch and transfer to canvas the
entrancing beauties of the views as seen from the top of the Bohr Ghauts
and at such a moment.

This lovely spot has for more than twenty years been the favorite
retreat of the wealthy and change-seeking inhabitants of Bombay, and now
that the railway is opened it is much more easily reached.

The ravines in this neighborhood harbor many wild beasts, and it is said
that at night tigers, leopards, and bears are often seen prowling about
in search of prey. The natives raise wild shouts when they think they
hear or see them, and thus frighten them away.

The travellers' bungalow at Khandala is most picturesquely situated on
the edge of a deep ravine. On the right is a small lake or reservoir
adjoining the residence of the late Parsee knight, Sir Jamsetjee Jeeboy.
To the east is a magnificent hill, called the Duke's Nose, from its
supposed likeness to that of Wellington. From this point there are
splendid views. The pretty little mountain-village of Khandala is close
by, and as we pass on to Karli we skirt the beautiful woods of
Lanauli,[58] so often quoted in Mahratta song, once the hunting-grounds
of the rulers of the Deccan, and still abounding in wild boars and other

We spent four days at the bungalow here, and, what was more, saw every
sun that rose and set on these mountains. Each day was a counterpart of
the preceding one, clear and bright. We traversed some miles of the
surrounding country to visit hill-forts, caves, and viharas, which
abound in this neighborhood.

Our next halting-place was at the village of Karli, a cluster of Hindoo
houses hid amidst a fine grove of trees. There was a nice bungalow here,
and even barracks to hold about two hundred men.

The most famous cave is that of Karli. It far surpassed those we had
visited on the islands of Salsette and Elephanta, and took us very much
by surprise. The caves are on a hill about two miles or more from the
travellers' bungalow. We entered seemingly into the heart of the
mountain, and found ourselves in the body of the temple or cave, which
is separated from the side-aisles by fifteen columns of magnificent
design and workmanship; on each side, on the upper part of each of these
columns, are two kneeling elephants, and on each elephant are two seated
human figures, sometimes a male and female, with their arms around each
other's shoulders sometimes the figures are both female. The effect is
remarkably striking. The _chaitya_[59] is plain and very solid, and
behind it are seven plain octagonal pillars without any ornamentation.
The interior of the temple seems to have been lined with woodwork. Right
in front of the arched roof or hall is a second screen, as at the great
cave at Salsette. It is composed of plain octagonal columns with
pilasters. Over these is a mass of wall crowned with a superstructure of
four dwarf pillars; the whole of this appears to have been covered with
wooden ornaments.[60] These are thought to have been a broad balcony in
front of the plain wall, supported by two bold wooden brackets from the
two piers. This balcony is thought to have served the purpose of a
music-gallery or nagara khánah, as are still found in the Jain temples
to-day. Everything here is executed in the finest style; the
bas-reliefs, the windows, the doors, the halls, roofs, vestibules, and
figures are each, one and all, beautifully executed. The colossal figure
of the Buddha perched on a lotos throne, with angels hovering around
him, his hands folded in everlasting repose resting on his knees, is
grand and imposing. On the walls are carved many a beautiful flower,
some not unlike those we passed in our morning's ride, with strange
characters and symbol after symbol replete with the wisdom of the
Buddhists. Rows of half-nude gigantic women, elephants, lions, birds,
and beasts relate in solid stone the triumphs of Buddhism over
Brahmanism. Dr. Stevenson dates the building of this temple at seventy
years before Christ; executed, according to him, by the emperor
Devabhute, under the care of Xenocrates or Dhennuka-Kati. There has
been, however, much doubt thrown by recent explorers on the dates given
by Dr. Stevenson. The inscriptions under the gateway are thought to
place beyond dispute the dates of these scattered excavations, so
similar in point of architecture, at the second century before Christ
and not long after the great Buddhist dispersion from North-western
Hindostan by the Brahmans.

A number of queer-looking Brahman priests of the Sivite[61] sect, who
take care of these caves and encourage pilgrims to them, came out to see
us, and, finding our pundit to be a countryman, though he was not of
their sect, invited us to witness their worship in a vihara adjoining.

It was difficult to believe that the quiet, dark, handsome men who spoke
to us could be such dupes as they seemed while at worship. In the
largest of the caves was a huge, rude machine very like a common wheel,
in the centre of which was a round place for a fire, and another and
smaller fireplace on each of the seven spokes of the wheel. To the wheel
was attached a long pole, and to this pole was tied a large-eyed,
patient-looking Brahmanee cow with bells around her neck. To the cord
which fastened these bells was tied a long rope, and this rope was held
by a Yoghee, a sort of mystic Brahman priest, who had nothing on but a
wisp of straw around his loins, and a half-starved-looking dog at his

The moment the sun sank behind the mountains a white-robed priest issued
from one of the smaller caves and placed a little earthen lamp,
containing a long wick and some cocoanut oil, in each one of the
receptacles for the fires. This done, the deafening sounds of
multitudinous drums were heard from the secret recesses of the
intermediate caves. At this, away went the Yoghee, the dog, the cow, and
the wheel, with the seven tiny lamps revolving around the larger one in
the centre. This furious dance continued, the dog barking, the cow
lowing, and the drums beating, for an hour, and then another Yoghee
stepped forward and relieved the first one. There were twelve priests,
or rather ascetics, for the twelve hours of the night, and this was the
celebrated "puja chakra," or wheel-worship, of the ancient Brahmans.

We could not wait, of course, to see the end of this strange, wild,
deafening performance. I nearly fainted from the oppressive heat and
disagreeable odors of the cave, and was obliged to seek relief in the
open air. Here we found the Yoghee who had begun the dance seated on a
stone clothed in a long dusky mantle and evidently enjoying the evening
breeze. He answered me in pure Hindostanee, and told me that the central
fire or lamp represented the Surya, or the Sun, the smaller ones the
seven planets, naming each one--Soma, the Moon; Mangala, Mars; Buddh,
Mercury; Virhaspati, Jupiter; Sukra, Venus; Sani, Saturn; Deva Bheemi,
the Earth. The cow stood for Providence, or, as he termed it, the
All-giver; he himself for mankind; while the dog was the emblem of the
human family; his dance was in honor of the solar system.

A look of supreme satisfaction overspread his face as he informed me
that the deep spiritual meaning which was conveyed to his heart was not
in the wheel or in the fires, but in himself as he thought of the
efficacy of the daily sacrifice which he offered to the gods, which
convinced me that he at least firmly believed that the return of the
sun-god to his place in the heavens every morning was due to his efforts
and that of his brethren in performing from one end of the year to the
other this self-imposed mystic night-dance in honor of the solar system.

The moon had risen as we put our little tattoos'[62] faces Khandala-ward
and trotted away from the Karli village and the Hindoo ascetics. We had
a very amusing half-broken and half-rattling talk with our pundit, who
insisted that there was nothing more holy in the way of worship than the
"puja chakra," which we had just seen. When my husband irreverently
inquired, "If the wheel-worship was not a gentle hint to the sun to be
up and about his business every morning," our good guide and teacher
became suddenly grave and silent, and not another word would he say to
us on the subject of this curious worship.

Next day we climbed a hill to see the old fort of Lok-garha, which was
twice captured from the Mahrattas by the East India Company's generals.
It occupies a commanding position, and we enjoyed the view from it.
This grand old Mahratta fortress is full of historical interest. It was
here that the beautiful and astute widow of Nana Furnaveez, the most
famous of the Mahratta ministers, took refuge, and the killadhar, or
commander of the fort, obtained for her from General Wellesley not only
a guarantee of safety, but an annual pension of twelve thousand rupees.
On our return ride we passed through a wild but beautiful part of the
hills. We saw and heard the stately pea-fowl that are found in this
neighborhood; they added very much to the wild, luxuriant beauty of the

On the following morning we bade adieu to the beautiful Bohr Ghauts.
There was a great deal more of loveliness to be seen for many a mile
until we reached the slope of the mountains, which is gradual rather
than abrupt, as it is on the opposite side, and after that it was of no
consequence at all where we looked. We were riding down a bleak, rugged,
desolate country, slightly inclined; this was that immense triangular
plateau between the Ghaut districts on the east and west and the great
Vindhiya chain on the north. As we approached Poonah we found the views
more interesting--fields of wheat, maize, orchards of fruit trees,
plantain-groves, and the peepul, tamarind, and palm waving above them
all. When we reached the bridge that spans the Moota River, it was near
sunset. A flood of light poured from the sky over hill and dale and
valley, gilding with unusual brilliancy the venerable roofs of Parbuttee
and the half-ruined turretted walls of the Peishwa's palace.

Poonah, with the adjoining military station at Kirkee, where the
scenery, owing to the junction of the Moota and Moola Rivers, is very
picturesque, has a very respectable English population. But the majority
of the natives are almost exclusively Brahmans of the Deccan and
Hindoos from various parts of Hindostan.

This spot is famous in Mahratta annals. In 1599 Poonah and Supah were
made over to Mahlaji Bhonsli, grandfather of the renowned Sivaji, by the
government of the Nizam. In 1750 it was made the capital of the
Maharashtra empire under Balaji Baji Rao. It was once more seized and
destroyed by the Nizam's forces, by Alih Shah, who had established the
Mohgul empire at Haiderabâd in the Deccan. And here again another battle
took place in 1802, when Jeshwant Rao Holkar defeated the combined
armies of the Peishwa and Scindhia.

With our usual good-fortune we procured a house at Kirkee to stay in
during our visit to this neighborhood. It was the residence of a moolah,
a Mohammedan bishop, and must have been built many years ago. It is a
beautiful spot. A British cavalry regiment is stationed here, and here
was fought the battle in which the English gained one of their most
remarkable Indian victories over the last Peishwa.

The native city is divided into seven quarters and dedicated to the
seven high angels or planets after whom the days of the week are named.

The streets of the city of Poonah are more picturesque and far more
Oriental than even those of Bombay. The principal street is long, wide,
and furnished with sidewalks, with shops of all sizes and all kinds of
merchandise, having open fronts, and the goods are exposed on inclined
platforms. The lanes and thoroughfares are thronged with people of all
nationalities--the sedate and white-robed Brahman; the handsome Hindoo;
the refined and delicate-looking Hindoo woman in her flowing graceful
saree and pretty red sandals (for in this city Mohammedan influence has
not yet reached the point which it has in other parts of India, and the
women are not cooped up in harems, but are met everywhere in the
streets, temples, and bazaars); the pompously-dressed Musulman, Arab,
and Mahratta horsemen completely armed, prancing along on their splendid
chargers; Mahratta foot-soldiers with their lordly swagger, equipped
with sword and shield and buckler; emaciated devotees, fakeers, and
mendicants of all denominations, some wholly nude, others clothed in the
skins of wild beasts, and yet others covered with dust and paint and
ashes of cow-ordure; fat, lazy-looking Brahmanee bulls; Jews, Parsees,
native Portuguese Christians, and occasionally a British Mahratta sepoy
in his neat undress uniform. This moving picture, so strange and
incongruous, had the additional fascination of state elephants; splendid
cavalcades of the Peishwa's troops decked out in brilliant colors and
accompanied by richly-caparisoned led horses; camels trotting along at a
quick pace to the sound of merry little tinkling bells suspended from
their necks; fighting rams, kept for combats, one of the favorite
Mahratta pastimes, parading the streets in long rows, now leaping and
butting at dreamy Brahmanee cows. Add to all this that almost every day
in the week there are crowded markets, religious processions, passing
funerals with gayly-dressed corpses seated on the biers, looking ghastly
enough on this dancing bubbling current of human life, and some idea may
be formed of the sights and scenes to be met with in the capital of the
Mahratta empire.

At my first arrival at Poonah I remember seeing some Hindoo children at
play in the square. They were playing at marbles in all respects like
the English game, save that the boys had nothing in the world on but a
sacred cord round their shoulders and some gold and silver ornaments.
New-born infants could not have been more unconscious than they were.
The boy who won, a lad about eight or nine, seemed the least elated of
the party. The one who lost had a better time; he clapped the winner on
the back and cheered him all the way across the square, crying, "Khoop!
khoop!" ("Fine! fine!"). There were thirty or more nude little fellows
watching the play with intense interest, and evidently having the most
enjoyment out of it, to judge from the wild shouts of applause with
which they hailed the victor, screaming at the very top of their lungs,
"Marliah! marliah!" ("Beaten! beaten!"). How many English or American
boys would behave so well?

It would be simply impossible to enumerate all the places of historical
interest to be found here. The hillsides are everywhere crowned with
forts and religious and military strongholds, where many a battle has
been fought and won, and many a treaty formed only to be broken, both by
the servants of the East India Company and the contending Mahratta and
Mohgul forces, on this debatable land of the Hindoos, Mohguls, and
English conquerors.

There are Bambura, or Bampoora, whence in former times an enormous gun,
the Mahratta curfew, boomed sunset warnings to honest men to betake
themselves home; and Dapooree, where Colonel Ford, C. B., built a
palatial residence, and raised and commanded a brigade of magnificent
Mahratta troops after the European fashion for the service of the
Peishwa Baji Rao.

At Chinchore, near by, a boy is still worshipped as God by the credulous
natives. The originator of this curious deception was one Marâbo, who is
said to have restored sight to a blind girl, and who effected a like
miraculous cure for the great Sivaji.[63] In order to prove his
divinity, this Marâbo caused himself to be buried alive in a sitting
posture with a holy book in his hands. His son succeeded him as God. For
several miracles performed by the latter, especially the feat of
transforming a piece of cow's flesh into roses, the emperor of Delhi,
Alamghir, presented to this man-god Narayana eight villages in

Then there is another curious old fort, Chakhan,[64] with its ramparts
and parapets constructed, according to Hindoo story, by an Abyssian
chief named Palighar, A. D. 1295. In 1818 it was captured by the troops
of the East India Company. And last, but not least, there is the famous
Sing-garh, "the lion's den," a vast triangular-shaped fortress, where
the brave Mahwalee soldiers, headed by the braver Tanaji Mahisreh,
Sivaji's general, fought against the Rajpoots. The latter lost his life
after he had captured from the Rajpoots this stronghold of the
Mahrattas, causing Sivaji to exclaim, "The den is taken, but the lion,
alas! is slain."

This fortress was finally captured by the English during the Mahratta
and English war. The ascent is made by palanquins. Splendid trees and
many a wild flower crown the hillsides, creeping over gate and tower and
moat, spreading beauty and gladness where once was heard the perpetual
war-cry of deadly combatants.

We visited the Peishwa's palace. Our syce, or groom, looked like a
bedizened prince as he led the way with his gay turban and brilliant
sash. We kept close to his horse's heels, and the pundit, whose long
white robe gave him the appearance of a lady on horseback, brought up
the rear.

The palace, temples, and pavilions of the late Peishwa all cluster
about a most beautiful hill called Parbuttee, a corruption of the
Sanskrit word Pharvati, "Sacred Mountain." A magnificent garden called
"Hira Bâgh" ("the gem or diamond garden"), and a fine reservoir with an
old pavilion on its bank, are some of the features of this sacred spot.
The palace is in no way worthy of notice, and is fast crumbling away,
but it is approached by a magnificent staircase of stone steps cut out
of the mountain, and so gradual that we rode up it on horseback. The
hill is covered with temples. The view is very fine; seen over the lake
with its pretty little tree-covered islands and wide fields studded with
palm- and mango-plantations, it was one vast beautiful picture.

Our syce pointed out to us the spot where a young Mahratta prince dashed
himself headlong from his pavilion because he was publicly reprimanded
for some breach of etiquette by his prime minister, Nana Furnaveez.

There was much to interest us, however, in the temples, that are still
kept in good repair, filled with the monstrous idols of the Hindoos; and
here are held great annual festivals in their honor. Over two hundred
Brahman priests worship here, and are supported by the voluntary
contributions made to their shrines.

We went into the temple of Parvati. Our pundit led the way, accompanied
by a singularly interesting Mahratta Brahman priest, but I noticed that
the sectarian marks on his forehead and those on the pundit's were very
different. The former wore the marks of Siva, two straight lines
crossed, and the pundit those of Maha Dèo, two concentric circles with a
straight line. Before our eyes had become accustomed to "the dim
religious light" of this temple, the power of which the Hindoos so well
understand, I looked and saw right in front of me, and immediately at
the foot of the altar, the prostrate figure of the pundit, and the
Brahman priest beside him, their arms and hands stretched out, their
faces hidden on the pavement, their limbs stiff and rigid, and their
long white robes clinging to their persons.

Within full sight and hearing of the beauty of Christianity, with all
the wonders and marvels of scientific discoveries taught hard by in the
public native school and in the Sanskrit college, here were these men,
neither of whom lacked intellectual training, bowing down to idols of
wood and stone. Surely, the more earnest and spiritual of these lowly
worshippers see something of the truth, beauty, and goodness of God,
denied to less ardent natures, and only discernible with closed eyes and
in moments of deep, silent emotion.

There is a massive silver statue of Siva seated on the altar, holding on
his knees his wife Parvati and their son Ganesa. These smaller idols, it
is said, are of pure gold; a princely fortune in precious gems adorns
their headdresses, their necks, and gleams out of their eyes. There were
dusky arches and dingy, time-stained columns and all kinds of figures on
the walls, and over them all a smoky atmosphere and an odor of incense
mingled with that of burnt-offerings.

We went out almost faster than we had gone in. Pundit and his guru, or
spiritual guide, were still going through some genuflexions. A Brahman
is a Brahman indeed, but are Christians always the followers of Jesus?
We sat down on the steps of the temple, and by and by the pundit came
out with his spiritual guide, looking calm and serene.

We visited the English school for the natives in the Budhwar[65] portion
of the city, also the Sanskrit college, and saw there hundreds of
handsome, eager-looking students, and we were assured that it produced
men of very great learning, who could hold their own in Sanskrit,
Mahratta, Hindostanee, and English even, with some of the greatest
scholars in England, France, or Germany.

A spot is shown at Sangam, not far from where we took up our abode,
where the devoted Hindoo widows formerly underwent cremation with the
dead bodies of their husbands. These monuments can only be seen when the
water at Sangam (the spot where the Moola and Moota Rivers meet) is at
its lowest ebb. They consist of flat stones or slabs laid in the
river-bed, with two female feet engraved on each of them. Even in this,
the most hideous and barbaric of Hindoo customs, is found lingering a
beautiful and tender sentiment. The feet engraved on the slabs prove the
willingness with which these unknown women followed their loved ones
through the ordeal of a fiery death into the world beyond, and the
meeting of the two rivers typifies the final reunion of their souls.

We visited a banker's office in the native city of Poonah. This bank, in
which large sums are deposited and extensive business transacted, was
nothing but a mud house plastered over within and without. The counter
was an inclined platform reaching from the front to nearly the whole
length of the building; on it squatted, cross-legged, surrounded with
bags of all kinds of money, a Mahratta banker with his handsome
countenance and keen piercing black eyes, talking to his customers,
discounting bills, and counting money with astonishing rapidity and

The bank where our pundit obtained his "hoondee," or money-order, was
managed, in the absence of his father, by a young Hindoo boy who could
not have been over twelve years of age. This youthful cashier astonished
us with his accuracy and quickness in counting and discounting money.
His only account-book, as far as I could see, was a flat board covered
with fine white sand. On this primitive slate he made all his
calculations, writing them down with his forefinger. When he had
finished he blew away the sand and handed over the amount due to pundit,
with interest for odd days, etc., all calculated with the nicest
accuracy down to the smallest fraction. We wondered very much to see
these banking establishments left in the charge of such young lads, who
sit there demurely--and, what is more strange, securely--until late at
night, often amid heaps of gold, silver, and other coin left temptingly
in full view; but one rarely hears of any attempt to rob them.

The bankers' checks are written on a thick country-made paper; every
check has a secret mark or sign that renders forgery difficult. It is
rolled up and fastened with gum-water, and thus laks[66] upon laks of
rupees are circulated with ease and safety throughout the country.

The European portion of the city of Poonah stands on a fine open plain.
There are here wide fields, handsome barracks for the European soldiers,
bungalows for their commanding officers, a hospital, a lunatic asylum, a
pretty little church with reading-room and library adjoining. In fact,
there is everything here to render the European comfortable and happy,
except the temper of the people, who still cling to the recollections of
old times, when Poonah was the capital of their own great kings and
warriors, filled with all the pomp and parade of Oriental splendor.

The late Sir Jamsetjee Jeeboy has erected a fine residence here; near
it is a simple and unpretending Fire-temple for the benefit of the
Parsees in this vicinity.

The last of the many bright hours spent here we drove about the native
town and enjoyed Poonah at night. Every house, fort, temple, palace, and
hut was illuminated, those of the poor by a dim light, those of the
temples and palaces by innumerable tiny flames that flickered and
gleamed in thousands of colors on the marbles and frescoes of the walls,
floors, and verandahs. It seemed like passing through some fairy scene
filled with the thousand and one pictures of the Arabian Nights.


[55] _Bhor_, a Mahratta word for the jujube tree, _Zizyphus jujuba_,
which is found among these mountains. The _Ghauts_, or "Landing-Stairs,"
are the two ranges of mountains extending along the eastern and western
shores of the peninsula of Hindostan. The highest peaks in the
north-western part are found in the Mahablashwar Mountains, the summer
retreat of the Europeans of Bombay.

[56] From _Dakshina_ (Sanskrit), "South Country."

[57] This chain is now bridged over by a viaduct which once crumbled
down and disappeared into the depths below in the presence of a brave
English engine-driver, who had the good fortune to arrest the train,
that was speeding on its way toward it, just in time to save many
valuable lives.

[58] A small village on the Khandala Hills.

[59] An immense hemispherical altar of stone with a kind of wooden
umbrella spreading above, beneath which lies interred some relic of the
god to whom the temple is dedicated.

[60] See Fergusson's _Rock-cut Temples of India_, p. 27.

[61] Followers of the god Siva or Shiva.

[62] The Mahratta horses.

[63] Founder of the Mahratta empire, born at Junir, about fifty miles
from Poonah, in the year 1627.

[64] This fort is reputed to be of great antiquity, and was constructed
by Palighar, but as to who he was, or how he got there, they do not
pretend to know.

[65] The city of Poonah is divided into seven quarters, corresponding to
the days of the week. Budhwar, therefore, is the Wednesday quarter of
the city.

[66] A _lak_ is one hundred thousand rupees.


     The beautiful Hindoo village of Wye.--The Mahabaleshwar Hills.--The
     Temple of the Gods.--The Couch of Krishna.--The Stone Image of the
     Cow from whose mouth the Five Rivers of this Region are said to
     Spring.--The Holy Tank.--Satarah, the Star City of the Mahratta
     Empire.--The Fort.--The Palace of Sivaji.--Jejureh, the famous
     Hill-temples where the Dancing-girls of the Country are
     recruited.--The Mad Gossain, and the Story of his Ill-fated
     Love.--The Dancing-girl Krayâhnee.

We made a journey from Poonah to the Mahabaleshwar Hills in a common
bullock-cart, but through a country of unrivalled beauty. We spent a
night and a day at the rural village of Wye. I have never seen any place
where the charm of Oriental grace working through the pure Hindoo
imagination has more forcibly stamped itself. The soil, the climate, the
temples, the river, the wide-spreading trees, the sportive figures of
the gods and goddesses, are all calculated to bring out in strong relief
the characteristics of the adjoining mountains, which here assume a
multitude of beautiful shapes, rising heavenward like innumerable
battlemented towers, pinnacles, or spires, each loftier than the last
and endowed with a certain air of individuality peculiar to these hills.
One isolated rock near the village rears its flat-topped brow, crowned
with an old Mahratta fort, more than a hundred feet high, sharp and
abrupt, lending a singular picturesqueness to the smallest object under

Wye stands on the left bank of the river Krishna, which is shaded by
fine peepul and mango trees; handsome stone steps lead down to the edge
of the swift-flowing waters, and are crowded all day long with figures
of graceful men, women, and children sporting, bathing, drawing water,
or lounging idly around. There was an irresistible freshness and quiet
beauty about the gay, careless life of the people, which was passed
absolutely on the banks of the river.

We had no sooner taken up our abode in the travellers' bungalow, which
here commands a fine view, than the patel, or chief of the city,
accompanied by several Brahmans, paid us a visit, bringing us presents
of fruit and flowers. I was much struck with the genial kindliness and
courtesy of these men.

We rose at dawn next morning to see this Hindoo community perform in one
body, on the banks of the Krishna, the peculiar ceremony of worshipping
the sun. The people literally lined the banks of the river; their faces
were turned up to the sky, and as they stood in rows on the steps
leading to the water's edge the effect was very impressive. They then
simultaneously filled their palms with water, snuffed it up through
their nostrils, and flung it toward the north-east, repeating certain
prayers. After this they all proceeded to stand on one foot, then on the
other, each holding in his hand an earthen bowl filled with clarified
butter, with a lighted wick in the centre. Then they all together
saluted the mighty luminary with folded hands raised to their foreheads,
and then marched toward the west in imitation of his path through the
heavens; which terminated their sun-worship[67] for the day.

We also visited the garden and palace of the Rastias. Mohti Bagh, or
"pearl garden," as the entire palace and grounds are called, is only a
little distance from the village of Wye. The approach to the palace is
through an enchanting road formed of tall bamboos, mangoes, and tamarind
trees. Wye is a spot famed in Hindoo literature. Here the heroes of the
Mahâbharata spent their years of exile and expiation, and here they are
said to have built many wonderful temples. The river is almost gemmed
with beautiful temples in the finest style of Hindoo architecture, owing
to this historic fact or fiction, whichever it may be. The temples are
filled with idols of heroes and heroines, and the city with Hindoo men
and women of the finest type and utmost purity of character.

We visited an old Brahman college here, which was once famous for the
clever pundits it furnished to the country around. There were some
students in one of the rooms; they were all young and good-looking, but
had about them an air of decorous restraint and an expression of old age
that were depressing to one's spirits.

Passing through a luxuriant country full of venerable trees, groves,
gardens, and wide fields, we stopped at the little village of Dhoom to
see a famous temple. It was of fine stone, artistically built, but full
of strange gods. An arched door led to one of the shrines, where there
was an image of Siva. Vessels containing rice and flowers were before
him, and the basin in front of the temple is something peculiarly
beautiful. It is unique in form--like a huge tulip-shaped cup, of pure
white marble, with its rim most delicately carved into the petals of the
lotos-flower. It is impossible to give any adequate idea of this
exquisite bit of Hindoo sculpture. A pillar of white marble with five
heads of Siva, and the cobra de capello twisted round them, adds another
charming attraction to this insignificant Brahman village.

The ride up the Tai Ghauts was one of great beauty. Here and there in
the dells and hollows were little patches of grass which looked at a
distance very like a green velvet carpet. Low-growing wild plants, tall
trees, and creepers were matted together in one network of green,
yellow, red, blue, and purple. The views looking back were lovely. The
noise of mountain-torrent and trickling waters in the midday heat was
most refreshing.

The ancient village of Mahabaleshwar is perched on a high table-land,
and is said to be the most elevated portion of that interminable western
range of Ghauts forming some of the highest ground between the Southern
Ghauts and the Himâlayas. The temple of Maha Dèo stands close under a
projecting rock on the very spot where, according to Brahmans here, the
five sacred rivers of this region take their rise--the Krishna, the
Koina, and the Yena, which flow toward the Deccan, and the beautiful
Savitri and Gaiutri, which, after leaping down the mountain-sides in
many picturesque cascades and waterfalls, unite with other small streams
to form quite a large river, at whose mouth stands Fort Victoria. There
are no lovelier scenes than some of those formed by these two rivers,
and especially remarkable is the spot where they unite, flowing between
deep and wooded banks till they lose themselves in a broad, quiet,
placid stream.

A large reservoir is excavated in front of the temple to receive the
waters of the Krishna and Koina, and in front is a huge stone cow,
through whose mouth the waters flow into it. All around this reservoir
is a fine stone walk, and farther on are several cells where saints who
have long abandoned the world still reside unseen, but not unheard, for
night after night their voices, like the feeble wail of infants, are
borne on the night air, imploring the gods in behalf of the lost, erring
human race. Fiends, angels, heroes, demons, and gods are all worshipped

The Brahman ascetics who have charge of these temples ring a bell to
give notice that the deified beings have taken up their abode in their
respective cells. Krishna, the last incarnation of the Hindoos, has also
a couch prepared for him here. When the sound of this bell is heard all
the inhabitants of this mountain-village betake themselves to a few
moments' meditation. We saw some remarkably pretty women who were
attached to this temple filling the lamps with oil and gathering flowers
and fruit to lay before the shrines; but they seemed to be shy of
Europeans, and would not notice us.

The discoverer of this spot, so far as the English are concerned, for it
has long been inhabited by the Brahmans, was Colonel P. Lodwick, who,
when stationed with his regiment at Satarah, undertook the exploration
of these hills, and, pushing through forest, brushwood, and jungle,
found himself at the edge of a high projecting rock, when a sudden turn
brought him to the brink of a grand promontory formerly called "Sidney
Point," but now after the true discoverer. No sooner was the discovery
of this delightful and most accessible mountain-region made known than
Sir James Malcolm, then governor of Bombay, hastened to establish here a
convalescent hospital for European soldiers. In course of time good
roads were constructed, partly by the British government and partly by
the rajah of Satarah. Parsee shopkeepers soon made their appearance, and
in a few years a little British colony was transplanted here. There are
now a little Protestant church, reading-room, library, hotel, barracks,
handsome European villas and bungalows, with bridle-paths all along the
most picturesque points. There is no more beautiful and healthful
sanitarium to be found anywhere in the East. We spent two delightful
months, November and December, at the travellers' bungalow. The weather
was perfect--clear, cold, and without any rain. With all the beauty
with which a tropical climate surrounds the hillsides the temperature
varied from 62° to 45° in the open air. The elevation, four thousand
seven hundred feet above the level of the sea, places it beyond the
influence of cholera and malaria, which are so deadly in many parts of
India. The soil is scanty in some parts, but in many portions a rich
mould of great depth is found, admirably adapted to agricultural
purposes. The finest strawberries I ever saw in India were brought me
one morning by the pundit, cultivated by the Brahmans on these hills as
offerings to their gods. The hills are also covered with fine trees--the
willow, the jambul with its dazzling green foliage, the iron-wood, and
the arrowroot plant. There are here several kinds of jessamines--one,
the night-blooming jessamine, a large and beautiful flower and
peculiarly fragrant after sunset. Ferns abound: one called by the
natives pryha khud, or "the lover's leap," is extraordinarily beautiful,
but not very abundant. A plant resembling the yellow broom is also found
here, but it far surpasses the latter in size and beauty of flowers.
Bulbous and parasitical plants abound, and their flowers are much larger
and far more beautiful than those found on the plains, and each plant
has its season.

To the sportsman the Mahabaleshwar Hills are a treasure-trove. The
shikarees, or native hunters, are always at hand to lead the adventurous
into the very lairs of tigers, panthers, bears, wolves, and to the
resorts of all kinds of jungle-fowl. The monkeys in this neighborhood
are generally the first to give notice of the vicinity of a tiger by
their loud and reiterated cries resounding from tree to tree. The wild
bison, for which this region was once famous, is now found only
occasionally. A spot is shown where Lieutenant Hinds, a fine, athletic,
noble-looking young English officer, over six feet in stature, was
killed by one of these beasts. He and his shikaree had pursued the bison
for some distance. Lieutenant Hinds had just taken his aim, when, in the
twinkling of an eye, the infuriated beast suddenly turned upon him, with
one bound caught him upon his horns, and bore him thus wildly along
through the forest, and finally dashed him headlong over some rocks. His
mutilated body was found, and lies in the little Christian burial-ground

In returning from the Mahabaleshwar Hills we took the Satarah road, the
most picturesque of the three roads which lead up to the hills. It
commands extensive and diversified views of all the country around--the
wild tangle of the forests, the towering peaks of the mountains, the
bristling forts of the rock-bound city of the "Northern Star," the ample
fields dotting the landscape like huge green emeralds, and the Savitri
and the Gaintri struggling through brake and forest dingle and many a
deep shade to find each the other, till they meet at last just over the
wide brow of a sharp cliff, and leap together in gladness and beauty
down five hundred feet, dashing and tumbling over masses of rock, till
they gain the low-lying lands, then move on in quiet, dreamy
irregularity to lose each the other once more--one amid the waters of
the famous Krishna, and the other at Karar afar off.

We turned off the road to visit a formidable towering rock on which
stands the old Mahratta fort of Pratapgarh. In the centre of it are
found two lovely Hindoo temples--one to Maha Dèo, the high god, and the
other to Bhawanee, who is at once the goddess of love and hatred--with
the attending Brahman priests officiating there. Somewhere under this
fortress lies the head of the simple-hearted Afzal Khan, the renowned
Bijapoor general. Here was enacted by the hand of Sivaji, the founder
of the great Mahratta empire, one of the darkest of the many tragedies
with which the history of India abounds. Having induced, through false
pretences, Afzal Khan to visit him unarmed and attended by one sole
follower, Sivaji met the trusting foe with open arms and slew him when
in the act of embracing him. Sayid Bunder, the faithful follower of the
general, refused to surrender even on condition of having his life
granted to him, and suffered the same fate as his master. There and then
the signals agreed upon boomed forth from this old fort. The Mhawalis
rushed from their places of concealment all along the hillside on the
khan's retinue, stationed at the foot of the hill, and slaughtered and
dispersed them. Thus Sivaji defeated the enemy and acquired at the same
time great amount of treasure as well as reputation as a warrior.

Satarah, or "the Star City," is full of antiquities and historical
associations; every rock and hill and fortress has its own deadly
secret--sometimes more than one--of murder, bloodshed, treachery, and
triumph on the part of the Mohguls, Mahrattas, or British, besides other
local interests. The town lies on a high slope or plain between two
ranges of hills, one on the east and one on the west. The western hills
have been occupied for many hundred years by the descendants of the
early Mahratta Brahmans. They are covered with temples, huge, ancient,
and solemn; gods and goddesses in ivory and stone, admirably wrought,
sit enshrined in each of these. The priests worship them merely for the
sake of their age and number. Tall, gray-bearded monkeys abound on these
hills, and while we stood gazing at one of the temples a troop of these
creatures assembled on the roof and showed signs and symptoms of great
excitement or displeasure.

The Satarah bazaar is peculiar and well worth visiting. The Mahratta
women are as free and as unconfined in their movements almost as the
English. They are darker and less good-looking than those at Wye and on
the hills.

The flat-topped hills around absolutely bristle with forts that the
"Mountain Rats," as Aurungzebe called the Mahratta warriors, loved to
build everywhere. A zigzag pathway leads from the city up to the western
gate of "Azim Tarah," the most renowned of these strongholds. If
individual energy and vehement self-assertion indicate character, the
Mahratta soldiers possess it to an extraordinary degree, over and over
again proving themselves grandly capable of confronting the very dangers
they had brought down upon themselves. This fort is full of stories of
Mahratta exploits against their threefold enemies. It has been captured,
lost, and recaptured over and over again. It was built by a King Panalah
in 1192, and was once the state-prison of the great Sivaji. It was
defended against the emperor Aurungzebe by Phryaji Phrabu, a brave
_hawaldar_,[68] who had learned the art of war under Sivaji. When the
Mohguls attempted to enter the "Star City" huge stones were rolled down
the mountain-sides, and were as destructive as the discharge of
artillery. Tarbhyat Khan, a Mohgul in the service of Aurungzebe,
undertook to destroy it by mining the north-east angle, one of its
strongest points. The mine was completed after months of severe labor; a
storming-party was formed on the brow of the hill. Aurungzebe, confident
of success, marshalled his men in brilliant array to see the attack. The
first explosion crushed many of the Mahratta garrison to death, and was
followed by another that rolled down great rocks upon the Mohguls,
destroying, it is said, two thousand men at once. Animated by this
disaster to the enemy, the garrison would have continued to hold out,
but their supplies failed and they were obliged to capitulate.

After the well-known rupture with Baji Row, the English troops marched
into Satarah, took possession of the fort, and installed as king Pra
Thap Singh, the eldest son of Shah Hoo the Second. He was deposed,
however, on account of a series of intrigues against the East India
government, and was imprisoned at Benares. Apa Saihib, the last of the
descendants in a direct line of the great Sivaji, was then placed on the
throne, but on his death the province, much to the indignation of the
princes and people of Western India, was annexed to the possessions of
the East India Company. It is but just to say that there were men among
the court of directors who remembered, with Sir George Clark, then
governor of Bombay, the treaty of 1819, and knew that the East India
Company had agreed to cede in perpetual sovereignty, to the rajah of
Satarah and his heirs and successors, the territories which he held, and
they protested, but all in vain, against the annexation of Satarah,
calling it "an act of unrighteous usurpation." Here, alas! was laid the
first seed of the "Sepoy mutiny," that terrible retribution which ten
years after overtook not the guilty, but the innocent and faithful
servants of the Company.

On the west of the fort are a number of Hindoo temples dedicated chiefly
to Siva and to Bhawanee, the Indian Venus, who seems ever to have been a
favorite with these hardy mountaineers. The view from the fort is one of
the most charming in the world. The forms of the different hills are
quaint, and crowned with barbaric fortresses and temples that are fast
crumbling away to give place to a rich and tropical vegetation; the
great plain below, dotted with the houses and gardens of the European
and native residents; the lakes, the bazaars, the busy thoroughfares,
and, far away for many a mile, a road, leaf-canopied and cool in the
hottest midday sun, lined on each side with thousands of magnificent
mango trees. These mango trees were planted by one of the native rulers
in expiation of the murder of a noble Hindoo statesman, an envoy from

On the south-western side of the old town stands the antiquated palace
of Sivaji. We were shown into an attractive chamber called the Jallah
Mandir, the "water pavilion." Surrounded by a variety of beautiful
creeping plants and almost encircled with water, it is cooled by quaint
little Oriental fountains that splash and spirt upward all day long.
This peculiar water-bound chamber is almost fairy-like. But the deity of
this place is the huge sword with which the treacherous Sivaji slew his
trusting foe, Afzah Khan, the general of Bijapoor. By a strange
contradiction, this sword is called Bhawanee, the goddess of love, and
the people believe that the sweet goddess has imparted to the old sword
a charm which is deadly to the enemies of the Mahrattas.

As we went back through the town we peeped into one or two of the
temples. There were in them some curious old idols of heroes rather than
gods, but they were as hideous as possible. A little farther on the
ground was made lovely with immense numbers of wild flowers, red,
yellow, and blue.

From the Star City of the Deccan we went back a few days' journey and
crossed the "Nira bridge," one of the fine old Mahratta works, to visit
the village and hill-temples of Jijuhre. The village was insignificant
enough, but the hill on which stands the temple of Khandoba, the
warrior-god of the early Mahrattas, was very striking. It is flat-topped
and rises abruptly from the surrounding plain, its entire surface
covered with temples, gates, pillars, stone monuments of every
conceivable object, and has the appearance of a huge cemetery. If it had
not been for the presence of our pundit I doubt if we should have been
allowed to visit this once-famous temple.

We went up on foot through an odd mixture of gateways and pillars, all
curiously carved, and here and there were stone figures of mythological
birds and beasts, abundantly provided with shaindoor, a kind of red
paint, and offerings of flowers. The largest temple had an image of
Khandoba, a terrific-looking monster. In one of the upper chambers there
was a colossal drum that gave sunset warnings and served to call the
priests, priestesses, and other attendants to prayers, midnight
devotions, or revelries; which latter are held on certain days, or
rather nights, of the waxing moon. About two hundred women, all young,
many of them mere children, are attached to this temple, which is in
every sense one of the relics of the ancient Mahratta usages before the
introduction of Brahmanism. Many of these girls were scattered about in
groups or were seen reclining at their ease in a semi-nude costume about
the aisles of the temples, producing a charming Oriental effect, though
one could not help shuddering at the thought of their lives. And, in
spite of the doom laid upon them even before they were born, many of
them had singularly interesting, pensive faces. One girl who was pouring
water into the vessels around the shrine of Khandoba was a picture of
grace and adorned with glittering jewels. These strange priestesses of
passion live in cells attached to the temples or are scattered in the
service of their peculiar divinity around the temples in the
neighborhood, but here they are yearly recruited, and here they are
formally married as virgins to the idol of Siva or Khandoba, as the case
may be. There are here long corridors and intricate arrangement of
passages, with little stairs leading up and down and around, where the
girls are kept under the surveillance of old women who once were doomed
to the same service. How inexplicable is such a life, looking at it from
a Christian's point of view! But with these poor devotees the more
revenue they bring in for the temple the better their future life, in
which they dream of becoming loved wives and mothers of divine sons and
daughters in a heaven prepared for them.

We noticed in our ramblings over this curious spot a strange-looking
man, naked as the day on which he was born, his hair, long and streaked
with gray, falling in masses around his naked shoulders, his hands and
feet emaciated, the nails on his fingers and toes looking like huge
claws, begrimed with dirt and masses of red paint, sitting alone,
muttering all to himself and twirling in his hands an old
battered-looking lota, or drinking-vessel, made of some dark metal. This
was the mad _gossain_, or devotee, of Jijuhre. When we approached him he
started up and took his place on the edge of a crumbling rock.

This poor mad creature was an object of profound veneration and worship,
and his story was as pathetic as it was singular. The spot on which he
had seated himself had a peculiar interest to him, and he haunted it
even in his maddest moments. It was called Dewanee-garh, "the maddening
rock," because one of the priestesses of the temple leaped from it and
was killed instantly. This girl's name was Krayâhnee. It was said that
on her marriage with the god Siva and her installation in the peculiar
life of the temple it was found that she had conceived a strong passion
for the mad gossain, then a young Mahratta noble named Hotah Bhow. He
visited her frequently, and they were always seen together, and, as the
noble was rich, the priests humored the girl in her singleness of
devotion, for she brought large sums of money to the temple. But after
a while Hotah Bhow ceased his visits to the temple, and Krayâhnee was
urged to take another lover. She pleaded a respite for one month, which
was granted. In the mean time, through a Sudra, a male attendant on the
temple, she sent Hotah Bhow a message, assuring him of her undying love
and entreating him to aid her in her escape from the temple, saying that
if he would do this for her she would willingly serve as a slave in his

The Sudra, who was himself enamored of the beautiful priestess, took no
pains to deliver the message, but brought back to the poor girl a
fabricated answer from Hotah Bhow, advising her to make herself happy
where the gods had placed her.

Next morning Krayâhnee was missed, and on the following day her body was
found crushed and mangled at the foot of Dewanee-garh. Tying her lota,
or sacred vessel for ablutions, to her neck, she had leaped from the
rock at dead of night. Months after, Hotah Bhow returned from a
pilgrimage to Benares, and on hearing of the sad fate of Krayâhnee
became so melancholy that he betook himself to the severest course of
asceticism known among the Hindoos, called "Gala Naik." Standing for
hours on the spot whence the dancing-girl flung herself headlong, he
threw back his head and gazed at the sun, holding in his hand the sole
relic of his unhappy love, the battered lota. The priestesses of the
temple, pitying his sorrows, took him food and fed him at stated
intervals. But at length reason gave way under the severity of his
expiation; he forgot his vow to practise "Gala Naik" to the day of his
death, and is now found wandering over the hillside or perched on the
edge of Dewanee-garh, bereft of even the memory of his sorrows, but
still clinging to the battered lota of Krayâhnee, into which the
priestesses of the temple pour his daily food and drink.

Weary of our climb and saddened by the recital of this story, we
retraced our steps to the "dharrum-sala" of the village, and on the
following morning started across the country of the Deccan from the Star
City of the ancient Mahrattas for Aurungabâd, the golden city of the
great Mohgul Aurungzebe, and thence to the caves of Elora.


[67] Hindoos also worship the sun every evening.

[68] A Mahratta officer, but not of very high rank.


     From Satarah, the Star City of the great Mahratta Kings, to
     Dowlutabâd, the Abode of Fortune, and Aurungabâd, the Golden City
     of the Mohgul Emperors.--Tombs of Boorhan Ood Deen and
     Aurungzebe.--Mausoleum of Rhabea Duranee.--Sketch of the Mohgul
     invasion of India.--Manners, Customs, and Religious Ceremonies of
     the Mohammedans of Hindostan.

Of all the places in the East, there is none more celebrated in Oriental
romance and song than the province which occupies the centre of the
great table-land of the Deccan, called the Nizam's Dominion. Here the
Mahrattas, Rajpoots, Mohguls, French, and English have struggled for
mastery. Here are the ancient Golkunda and Hyderabâd, the Abode of the
Lion. In the reign of Mahmood Shah, so great was the renown of the
Bahmani[69] court that the celebrated Persian poet Hafiz determined to
visit it. "He embarked at Ormuzd, but the vessel encountering a tempest,
the Iranian Horace at once abandoned the voyage and despatched instead
an ode to Mahmood as his apology." From that time the songs of Hafiz
became the favorite melodies at the Bahmani court.

In 1401, Firuz Shah, who had succeeded Mahmood in 1397, sent from his
kingdom an embassy with magnificent presents to the great conqueror
Timoor Lâng (Tamerlane), who conferred on him, in addition to the vast
provinces he ruled over, the sovereignty of the kingdoms of Guzerat and
Malwah; which proved, however, troublesome acquisitions. It was he who
caused that famous observatory (the ruins of which may still be seen on
the Dowlutabâd Pass) to be built for his Brahman astronomer. The close
of his reign is said to have been disastrous. His armies, bent on
conquest, were defeated in a battle with Dèo-Rai-Vijya-Nâggur, and Firuz
Shah was not only deposed, but strangled, by his own brother in 1422.
The ruthless murderer and brother of Firuz Shah was both a warlike and
able monarch. He is known in Indian story as Ahmad Shah Bahmani. In 1432
he built the famous fort of Ahmedabâd at Bidhar, still called after him;
and not only restored but beautified that ancient city, which more than
two thousand years before had been famed in Sanskrit drama as the
capital of the Rajah Bhima Selm, the loves of whose exquisitely chaste
and beautiful daughter Damayanti and of Nala, the rajah of Malwah, are
sung and acted to this day throughout Hindostan.[70]

This province has been the most celebrated for the beauty and rare
accomplishments of its Bahyadiers. They formed a large part of its
population; so much was the profession favored that many of these public
dancers have become queens, and sons born to them have become kings and
learned men. A beautiful and romantic story is still sung here of a
Bahyadier named Aminah. Having attracted the attention of Burhan Nizam
Shah, she sent him word that she loved him, and, in spite of her
profession, was worthy to be his wife. Doubting the sincerity of her
assertion, Burhan Nizam Shah subjected her secretly, through a friend,
to the most painful trials, in every one of which she gave evidence of
an innate nobleness of character. Thus, having proved the sincerity of
her attachment, he married Aminah, who continued to be his favorite
queen and counsellor even after he had espoused (from motives of policy)
the princess of Bijapoor.

The appearance of the country of the Nizam's Dominion, however, is not
as full of interest as its history. Without forests of any extent, and
with but few lakes, it is intersected by innumerable small streams or
nullahs[71] and reservoirs, with occasional hills that rise in curious
detached blocks, as if accidentally dropped here and there by some
Titans at play.

After many days of a painful journey through wide fields of desolation
and gigantic cities now crumbling away, we encamped at a
dhurrum-sala[72] in the ancient city of Bidhar, once a place of great
renown and the capital of the Mahratta kings, who seem to have shifted
their capitals as the Bedouin does his tent. Attached to the
dhurrum-sala were long sheds, places of shelter for the cattle, side by
side with that of the human cattle. These had grass and fodder provided
for them gratuitously by the Brahmans in the vicinity.

This old Mahratta town contains some very curious stone buildings carved
with the figures of Hindoo gods and goddesses. Its chief attraction,
however, is the beautiful Bidharee ware. We bought a little box and the
bowl of a hookhah, which were very gracefully ornamented with
silver-work. The metal of which these articles were manufactured is a
jet-black compound of copper and tin which is capable of a high polish.
The natives here seem happy and independent. We saw some very handsome
Hindoo women in the bazaars, but the Mohammedan women were those of the
lowest castes.

The difficulties of the road very much increased after leaving Bidhar.
We were bumped and battered over a stony road, nor was there anything to
be seen but a great wilderness for many miles. When we inquired the
distance to the next halting-place our guide, who was very musical,
stopped his song and replied, "_Chulla joa oodhur hai_" ("Go along! it
is there"). But where we could not make out. Finally, we were obliged to
spend the night under a tree in our wagons not far from a great nullah
which was thought unsafe to cross after sunset. On the opposite side of
us was a large party of men and women, gossains and priests,
fellow-travellers, with four wagon-loads of dancing-girls, some of whom
were very interesting seen in the dusk. They were a troup of actors and
actresses returning from some village theatre to their head-quarters at
Oude Gera, a city in this vicinity.

A little after dawn next morning we crossed the nullah, which was by no
means as dangerous as represented by our guide. Along the road we saw
some beautiful wild flowers and trailing vines, among them a little
hardy blossom like the anemone, and of a lovely rose-color. In the
afternoon of the next day we crossed the Godaveri, the famous Tyndis of
the ancients, rising in the Thull Ghauts and flowing through the length
and breadth of the great high plain of the Deccan to pour itself into
the Bay of Bengal. We found no difficulty in fording the river at this
season, when the rains were over. In some places its banks were high and
steep, and here and there were striking views of the country. We met
hosts of carts and natives on horses crossing the river at this point.
After another long day's journey we took refuge at last at the
dhurrum-sala at Aurungabâd. From the verandah of the dhurrum-sala at
this truly picturesque Mohammedan city is a most enchanting view--the
Dhuna River winding away through the plain; the leafy woods, not very
dense, but full of trees noble and stately; the lime-groves in full
blossom sweetly scenting the air, while with pertinacious grace the
full-blown leaves of many creeping vines droop over the verandah to fan
us gently in the evening breeze; in the distance the domes, the tall,
graceful minarets, the shining roofs of mosques and palaces of the
once-famous city of Aurungabâd amid eternally verdant gardens. Gradually
the sun sets on the charming scene, but we still linger and gaze; few
lights are seen, but now and then a rushlight or the glimmer of a fire
prepared for the evening meal.

Twilight is deepening into darkness as we start for a walk, accompanied
by pundit. We see in the distance a tall square tower, dark in color and
crowned with half-ruined battlements, and behind it, far away, the
mighty Dowlutabâd, grim, silent and watchful, against the dusky sky.
Some strangely weird-looking figures of priests and fakeers are
returning from a mosque adjoining, and here and there a bright star
shines softly upon the tombs of the dead Mohammedans buried on the
summit of the far-off Piphlaghaut.

Dowlutabâd, "the abode of fortune," with the fickleness of the goddess
after whom it was named, fluctuated between the Mohgul conquerors of the
Deccan, the Rajpoots and Mahratta kings, for several centuries, till
finally it passed into the possession of the East India Company. We
obtained permission from the governor of the fort to visit this
remarkable fortress, which is built on a rocky hill, an isolated,
prodigious block of stone, with a perpendicular scarp of nearly a
hundred and fifty feet all round it. The summit is pointed like a cone,
and capped with a curious old tower, on which is mounted a heavy brass
gun. The only means of ascending the fort of Dowlutabâd is through a
narrow passage hewn out of the rock and leading to a large subterranean
chamber, whence a gallery, also excavated out of the heart of the hill,
leads to the top. After traversing this gallery the road passes by the
khilladar's (or governor's) house, a handsome building with an arched
verandah. The fortress is protected by a fosse and a circular wall
winding round the hill to the very summit; the lowest part of the wall
is made to enclose the little native town lying at its base, now
deserted and fast crumbling away. The view from the summit is very
inspiring; we could see the country around, far and near, though there
was a slight haze on the distant horizon.

The revenues of the Soubah, or district of Dowlutabâd, including that of
Ahmed Nuggur, is said to have yielded the emperor Aurungzebe the sum of
two hundred and fifty-nine laks of rupees. In 1758 this fortress fell
for a short time into the hands of the French, but by the recall of M.
Bussy it was once more captured by the Mohgul rulers of the Deccan. The
Nizam's flag, that once floated so proudly over its summit, is now
supplanted by that ever-aggressive standard, the union jack.

Aurungabâd, on the left bank of the Dhuna River, is one of the most
disappointing of the old Mohgul cities, and is fast crumbling to decay.
It was once the centre of Mohgul power in the Deccan. Aurungzebe removed
his capital from Dehli to this spot, whence its name the "Golden Seat,"
owing to his chair of state being made of pure gold. The town is
approached through a gateway which looks, like the rest of the place,
old and dilapidated; the streets, however, are broad, and some well
paved. The gardens and reservoirs are numerous, but the whole atmosphere
of the town is strangely depressing. The groups of grave-looking
Mohammedans pirs, or holy men, naked, filthy fakeers, and porters, who
parade the streets, make it seem odd and grotesque, but do very little
toward enlivening the town itself. It is surrounded by a wall flanked
with towers at regular distances. The minarets, mosques, and some of the
dwellings are still possessed of much architectual beauty. Among its
most famous manufactures are fine kinkaubs, or gold- and silver-wrought
silks, and dried fruits, which are sent to Bombay and other parts of
India for sale.

The palace of Aurungzebe stands on the south of the Dhuna River, and is
only remarkable for its extent. It is full of dark chambers, narrow
passages, stained ceilings and floors, that might once have been
beautiful, but which now have an unwholsome look of mould and decay.

Having devoted an entire day to Aurungabâd, we rode out on the following
morning to Rowzah, "the city or garden of tombs," but most celebrated as
the last resting-place of Aurungzebe. The town of Rowzah itself is a
charming spot. It stands on the brow of a gentle hill, and the views
from every part of it are very fine. There was an air of bustle and
activity too among the people, and elaborate culture was everywhere
manifest throughout its immediate neighborhood. Temples, mosques, holy
places, groves, and gardens for the dead abound here, and the shops
seemed well stocked. We had a beefsteak[73] for lunch, cooked in a
Mohammedan "khanadhar," or restaurant. The houses are well built and
extremely picturesque with their low projecting balconies. Many of the
buildings are furnished with open courtyards in front. Sometimes a high
wall encloses, as at Aurungabâd, a group of buildings, the dwelling of
some wealthy Mohammedan merchant with his hareem. Groups of well-dressed
Musulmans, with here and there a Mahratta or a Hindoo, were passing to
and fro exchanging graceful salutations; water-carriers, porters, and
venders of fruit and cloth jostled one another in the streets; and from
the balconies there peeped out at us now and then coquettish-looking
young girls brilliantly attired, with here and there a face that
displayed great beauty.

Finally, we came to the famous Mohammedan cemetery. Here we paused a
while at the tomb of the great Aurungzebe, which lies near that of a
saint called Bhooran Ood Deen. The mausoleum of the latter is more
costly, and is held in even greater veneration, than that of the Mohgul
emperor. It was covered with a handsome green velvet mantle, lamps were
burning within, musicians were beating their drums outside, and pirs, or
holy men, were standing around the tomb and reciting prayers for the
dead and prostrating themselves at certain intervals.

Outside the walls of the city of Aurungabâd is the object best worth
seeing, the tomb of the loving and faithful Rahbea Dhoorane, the
favorite wife of Aurungzebe, though, at best, it is a poor copy of the
famous Taj-Mahal at Agra. Arriving at the farthest edge of a wide path,
the spires of the mausoleum rise before one amid a wide area of rich
dark foliage. It stands alone and immediately behind the wall that
separates it from the old palace of Aurungzebe. The approach is through
a gateway. In front is a canal with a number of fountains at play. At
the end of the avenue is the mausoleum itself. The windows are of very
exquisite workmanship, reminding one of Rahbea herself. The tomb is
quite low and unpretending, lying in the centre of the building, and one
has to descend a number of steps to look upon it. It is enclosed by a
light and elegant marble screen, fancifully chiselled, looking like
lacework. On the tomb itself is laid a covering of scarlet velvet. The
minarets at each of the corners are also full of beauty. To the left we
pass through a fine Gothic arch gracefully carved, and enter a noble
hall supported by fluted pillars and with handsome etchings along the
walls and ceilings. It is now used for the assemblies of Mohammedan
priests and bishops, who meet here from different parts of the country
twice every year to discuss matters bearing chiefly on the religious
disputes that arise among themselves.


Above even the last resting-place of the dead queen, and far beyond all
the other features of interest in this mausoleum, is a little unique
chamber that stands apart, surrounded with fragrant orange and sweet
lime trees and clustering blossoms of rare tropical flowers. It is the
loveliest retreat that the heart of man could have devised, and is still
touched with the lingering romance of Rahbea's love for and power over
the proud Aurungzebe; for here he often sought the beautiful queen for
purposes of quiet meditation or relaxation from the cares of state, and
here, if we may believe all the reports, Rahbea often knelt for hours
before her husband pleading for the lives of men and women whom he had
doomed to death. Amid all the cruelty, avarice, and bloodshed that
stained the life of Aurungzebe, the tender picture which this little
chamber conjures up is pure and refreshing.

Mohammedan priests and pirs, or saints, are in constant attendance upon
this tomb. Morning services are held here every Monday. Fahtiahs, or
prayers, are offered for the dead queen and all other dead souls,
portions of the Koran are read or chanted, and lamps are kept burning on
especial festal nights. As we were leaving the place a number of
Mohammedans entered the tomb to pray, and one of the pirs informed me
that certain cures and miracles are yearly effected by the prayers
offered up to the dead queen.

We went to see the Friday "prayer-meeting" in the finest mosque of this
once-princely Mohammedan city. The Jummah Musjid, as the great mosque is
called, is a quiet, unpretending structure. From a distance it is
imposing, rather from the insignificance of the buildings in its
vicinity than from any architectural claims of its own. But the interior
is both simple and grand: the roof is exquisitely arched, and upheld by
pillars of elegant design and workmanship. At the extreme end there is a
raised platform whence the _moolah_[74] prays with his face turned
toward Mecca, and behind this pulpit were hung heavy kinkaub curtains of
native manufacture. The mosque was well filled, and the sight was both
solemn and inspiring. More than a thousand men (with a few women sitting
veiled and apart), all clad in flowing white robes, brilliant
_cumberbunds_, and variegated turbans, rose, knelt, folded their hands
and prostrated themselves simultaneously. The earnest voice of the
_moolah_, the deep responses of the assembled congregation, their
expressions of devotion and self-abasement, were sufficient to bring
Christian and pagan into sympathy.

We rode next morning to the gardens and tomb of Shah Safid, "the pure
saint." The rose, the jessamine, and the _mohgre_[75] bloomed here in
great profusion; we noticed some beautiful birds hovering among the
cypress and other trees, and we passed two splendid reservoirs full of
fish, and enjoyed the quiet of this resting-place of the great friend
and spiritual adviser of Aurungzebe. The mausoleum itself is a simple
structure, without any architectural adornments. We did not see any of
the descendants of this famous Mohammedan saint, but some holy men who
did the honors of the gardens showed us all that was worth seeing, and
the cemetery was a very bright, cheerful place in the morning sun.

There are four great eras in the history of India--the early dominion of
the Brahmans, the Turk and Moslem invasion, then that of the Mohguls,
and finally the rise of British sovereignty in Hindostan. Before
introducing the reader to the peculiar rites and ceremonies of the
Mohammedans of Hindostan, I have thought that the most important events
of Mohgul invasion and occupation of India would not be out of place

It was about the beginning of the seventh century A. D. that first the
Turks, and then the Afghans, obtained by means of their superior
military discipline easy conquests over the Rajpoot chieftains. India
was at this time in a most prosperous and happy condition, governed
chiefly by the Brahmanic system of village communities. Each village was
in itself a little republic, providing for and administering its own
affairs through officers who were in all respects independent citizens,
subject to none but the jurisdiction of the village itself, save in the
case of war, when they volunteered to aid the Rajpoots in quelling such
disturbances as arose. The Rajpoots, on the other hand, comprised the
nobility and soldier-like chivalry of India. Romantic in their
attachments, tenacious of their honor, devoted in their attentions to
the softer sex,[76] they were ready to engage in deeds of daring and
adventure. But, unhappily, they were divided into clans, each under its
own chief, as among the Scotch Highlanders, which not infrequently were
disturbed by internal feuds. They were easily subdued, one clan after
another being dispersed or destroyed, until the greater part of
Hindostan fell into the hands of the Moslem conquerors.

The expedition of Sultan Mahmood, undertaken in 1024 A. D., is the one
most famed in Indian story. In the fair park-like province of Guzerat
stood a wonderful Hindoo temple, none other than the famous temple of
Swayan Nath, or "the Self-Existent," as the god was called. This god was
worshipped here under the shape of a gigantic man formed of black stone.
For his ablutions water was brought from the Ganjas, a thousand miles
distant. The priests, devotees, and ascetics of this temple were
numbered by hundreds; one thousand elephants belonged to it and were
maintained for the service of the god. Stationed about the temple in
superb trappings, they added an imposing feature to this shrine on
festal occasions; banners of cloth of gold, standards of
peacock-feathers gemmed with rare jewels, musical instruments of every
kind and shape, with hundreds of hired musicians, formed part of the
daily service here. Nor were these all: the dancing-girls attached to
the temple were composed of the most beautiful women that India could
furnish, and so great was the prestige of this shrine that kings
dedicated their most beautiful daughters to enrich its coffers, in
addition to the revenues of two thousand villages that were ceded to it
by the combined princes of Hindostan.

Sultan Mahmood, who had seated himself on the throne of Delhi, heard
one of the boasts uttered by the priests of this temple, and there and
then vowed its destruction, placed himself at the head of his troops,
and, marching four hundred miles overland through a barren and almost
impassable country, advanced upon the environs of the temple, which were
strongly fortified and garrisoned by Rajpoot soldiers. Twice the priests
and soldiers of Swayan Nath beat back the Moslems, but in the third
onslaught the latter bore down everything before them. In vain the
Brahman priests implored them to spare the idol, offering the conqueror
large sums of money for its ransom. Mahmood, regardless of their prayers
and offers, gave the signal for its destruction. In an instant the huge
god of stone was battered to pieces, and out of its hollow sides there
rolled an immense treasure, jewels of inconceivable value. The spoils of
this temple alone rendered the Mohguls all but invincible in the East.
After sacking the temple they bore off in triumph its wondrous gates of
sandal-wood inlaid with gold, and at the death of Mahmood, in 1030,
these gates adorned the splendid mausoleum erected over his remains.
Eight hundred years after they were captured by the English troops and
restored to the temple of Swayan Nath by the order of Lord Ellenborough,
then governor-general of India.

The Mohammedan capital in India was established at Delhi by Khottub, who
made himself master of that city, of which he had been governor, about
the year 1215. He was succeeded by Altinash, who, like Khottub, rose to
the state of an emperor from the condition of a slave. The capital was
now permanently fixed at Delhi, and it was in the reign of this king
that the beautiful round tower of Khottub Minar, the highest known
column in the world, was built. It is a minaret of fine red granite
inlaid with white marble and crowned with a magnificent dome. This
Altinash was succeeded by his daughter Rhezeah, a woman of great natural
ability, who administered the affairs of the kingdom with remarkable
wisdom. Dressed as a sultan, she gave audience to her nobles and
officers and heard and redressed the wrongs of her people. Nevertheless,
the authority of these Mohammedan kings over the Rajpoot chiefs was very
uncertain, for at every change in the government, which was very
frequent, the Hindoo princes attempted to recover their independence.
Thus when the Gheiyas Tooklak (or Toghlak) possessed himself of the
throne of Delhi, the greater part of India was in a state of revolt.

Ferozee Shah, crowned emperor in 1351, greatly enriched and beautified
the city of Delhi, built the great canal through the province of Delhi
from the river Jumna to that of Caggar, two hundred miles of which have
been reopened by the British government, thus fertilizing a vast tract
of country which had long been a great desert. It was after the death of
this prince that the Mohgul Timoor Lâng (Tamerlane), who had conquered
Persia, captured and destroyed the city of Delhi. Years after Timoor
Lâng's death one of his descendants, named Baber, once more established
the Mohgul monarchy in India, about the year 1498, when the Portuguese
maritime discoveries began to make an important revolution in the
commercial world.

Baber was succeeded by the great emperor Homayoun, whose remains are
marked by a magnificent tomb near Delhi. Akbar, his son, one of the
wisest of the Mohgul rulers, had the prudence to marry a Hindoo
princess, the daughter of Baharmal, the rajah of Jeypoor in the province
of Rajpootana. He conquered the beautiful kingdom of Cashmere, one of
the most enchanting spots in the world. He built the city and famous
palace of Fettihpoor-Shikri in the province of Agra; his palace of
white marble and a magnificent mosque are still to be seen in excellent
preservation. It was in the reign of Akbar that Christian missionaries
first received a hearing at a Mohammedan court. They were sent to Agra
by the bishop of Goa. On Friday evenings it was also the custom of this
prince to assemble all the learned men around him for the purpose of
holding free discussions, where Mohammedans, Christians, Jews, Brahmans,
and Fire-worshippers gave their opinions and discoursed about the most
interesting themes of the day without restraint or fear. He also
instituted free public schools for Mohammedan and Hindoo children.

Akbar died at Agra in 1605, and over his remains there still stands a
splendid mausoleum of vast dimensions. He was succeeded by his son
Selim, better known under the title which he assumed of Jehan Ghir,
"conqueror of the world." The life and history of this king are the most
romantic in the annals of India.

Noor Jehan, "the Dawn of Life," so well known by the name of Noor Mahal,
or "the Light of the Palace," was the daughter of a poor Persian
adventurer, a noble in his own country, reduced by a series of
misfortunes at home, which led him to seek better fortunes in India,
accompanied by his wife and little daughter. The distressed condition of
the poor father and mother and the beauty of the child attracted the
attention of a rich merchant of Candiesh, whose caravan these Persians
had been following in order to keep themselves from starving. It was
through this merchant's influence that the father of the little Noor
Jehan obtained the subordinate position of gatekeeper at the court of
Akbar. Noor Jehan, who was in the habit of playing round the
palace-gate, attracted the attention of Akbar. Struck with her beauty,
he at once introduced the little maiden to his Rajpootanee wife, with
whom she became a great favorite, and thus the little Noor Jehan became
the playmate and companion of the young prince Selim. A deep attachment
sprang up between the children. But at length, when Noor Jehan attained
the age of womanhood, her father suddenly withdrew her from the court
and consummated a marriage for her with Shere Afkhan, a rich nobleman of
Bengal, and thus removed the beautiful girl from her dangerous royal
lover Selim. Selim was also married about the same time by Akbar to a
foreign princess of Kabool. But the moment his father died, and Selim
had ascended the throne under the name and title of Jehan Ghir, he
determined to obtain the beautiful Noor Jehan for his wife. With this
end in view he wrote to the viceroy of Bengal to seek some pretext to
place Shere Afkhan in confinement that he might the more readily succeed
in his designs. Shere Afkhan, suspecting some treachery on the part of
the viceroy, repaired to his house fully armed, and, as certain hostile
steps confirmed his suspicions, he slew the viceroy as he attempted to
lay hands on him, but the guards in waiting, hearing the cry of their
master, rushed in and despatched Shere Afkhan. That very night the
emissaries of Jehan Ghir carried off Noor Jehan to Delhi.

But Noor Jehan, prisoner as she felt herself at the court of her former
lover, refused to listen to his proposals of marriage until he should
prove himself innocent of her husband's murder. After several years
Jehan Ghir satisfied the beautiful widow that he had never intended
Shere Afkhan's death, but only his temporary imprisonment in order to
obtain her for his queen. Finally, the nuptials of Noor Jehan and Jehan
Ghir were celebrated with splendor. The power and influence exercised by
this beautiful woman at the Mohammedan court was unparalleled in the
history of the Mohguls of India. Her name was associated with that of
Jehan Ghir in the palace, in the council, on the throne, in the
judgment-hall, and even on the coins of the country. Noor Mahal, or "the
Light of the Palace," as she was ever after called, was more or less
influenced by the counsels of her father, who was raised to the office
of grand vizier, and is acknowledged to have been one of the best and
wisest ministers who ever ruled at the court of a Mohammedan king.

Mohabat Khan, a noble in the service of Jehan Ghir, had somehow incurred
the displeasure of Noor Mahal, but being a man of great talents he was
employed to quell a rebellion entered into by Shah Jehan, the eldest son
of Jehan Ghir, to dethrone his father. Having defeated the son and won
him over to his cause, Mohabat Khan took the father prisoner. No sooner
did Noor Mahal hear of the captivity of her husband than she placed
herself at the head of her troops, and, mounted on an elephant,
proceeded to give battle to Mohabat Khan and to rescue her husband. She
was defeated, and fled to the court of Lahore for safety. But Mohabat,
who had resolved to put Noor Mahal to death, extorted from Jehan Ghir a
warrant to that effect, and through letters which he caused Jehan Ghir
to write he induced the unsuspecting and loving wife to join her husband
in captivity. Once in the enemy's camp, she saw that her death was
determined upon. Professing herself willing to submit to her fate, she
pleaded only a last interview with her husband, which Mohabat granted,
but took care to be present himself. On the day appointed for her
execution Noor Mahal quietly entered the presence of her unworthy
husband and her implacable foe. She stood before them in deep silence,
her hands clasped, her veil thrown back, and her beauty shining with an
additional lustre through her flowing tears. Jehan Ghir burst into a
passion of tears, and, throwing himself at the feet of his captor,
pleaded so eloquently for her life that the heart of Mohabat was
subdued. He not only granted her life, but, strange to say, became a
friend to Noor Mahal, and finally restored her and her husband to the
throne of Delhi.

With but few exceptions, however, rebellions, assassinations, treachery,
and misrule marked the reigns of all the Mohammedan emperors of India.
Upon the death of Aurungzebe, the grandson of Jehan Ghir, the empire of
Hindostan was divided by his command between his three sons, which
partition led to a series of most disastrous civil wars, and, happily
for the country, almost terminated the Moslem power in India.

In 1738 the Persian emperor, Nahdir Shah, took Delhi with little effort.
The night of the capture a report was raised that Nahdir Shah had died
suddenly, and the populace rose _en masse_ and massacred over seven
thousand Persian soldiers. On the following day Nahdir Shah gave the
fearful command which almost decimated the population of Delhi, after
which he reinstated the humbled monarch, Mohammed Shah, on the throne,
and returned to Persia, carrying away with him treasure amounting to
seventy million pounds sterling and the celebrated peacock throne of
Shah Jehan. In 1760 the nominal king of Delhi, Alum Shah, became
tributary to the East Indian Company.

The Mohammedans of Hindostan, like those elsewhere, are divided into a
number of sects, all more or less acknowledging the apostleship of
Mohammed, but differing in their estimate of the inspiration of the
Koran and other minor points of doctrine. The Sunnis, for instance, hold
that the traditions of the Prophet are of equal authority with the
Koran; they therefore venerate the successors of Mohammed, Abu Bahkr,
Omar, Usman, and Ali, as divinely-appointed Khalifahs or teachers; the
Arabs, Turks, Afghans, and the Rohillas of India more or less belong to
the Sunni sect. These undertake long pilgrimages to Mekka, and are very
tenacious on points of doctrine, often putting to death the heterodox of
their own religion. The Shiahs, another very powerful sect of
Mohammedans, wholly reject the "Sunnahs," or traditions, and with them
the four successors of the Prophet. They perform pilgrimages, not to
Mecca or Medinah, but to the tomb of Husain at Kaibelah. The Koran is
their only guide. The Shiahs are found in the vicinity of Cabool, Oude,
and parts of Bundelcund.

The "Hanifi," as another sect of Mohammedans is called, are the
disciples of Abu Hanifah, an Arabic theologian of great renown who
flourished about the year 80 of the Hejira. He denied predestination as
unworthy of a divine and merciful Creator, and declared fate to be
nothing more or less than the free will of the individual. He was thrown
into prison for his bold utterances, and died there. Years after, Maluk
Shah Seljuki erected a splendid mausoleum to his memory in Bagdâd, to
which spot his followers in Hindostan make special pilgrimages.

The Shaffids, again, are quite a distinct sect, so called from their
leader Shaffid Abu Abdullah, another celebrated Arabic divine. He was
born in the city of Gaza in Palestine in the year 150 of the Hejira, but
educated in Persia, where he composed most of his works on theology and
jurisprudence. Some of his precepts are still taught in the Shaffid
Mohammedan schools. This sect is scattered over the province of
Najapatam and in the city of Nagpoore.

The Maliki, still another of the Mohammedan denominations, follow the
teachings of one Malik Ibn Aus, a man of some learning, but whose works
are filled with astrology and mysticism. Many of his followers are to be
found among the mendicants and fakeers of Hindostan.

The Hanbhali sect are not very numerous, but are said to be extremely
dogmatic in their own belief. They adhere to the precepts of the priest
after whom they are called, and deny the divine origin of the Koran,
holding only such maxims contained in it as are based on pure morality
and monotheism. These comprise the most advanced and enlightened schools
of Mohammedans to be found in India to-day.

Last, but not least, are the Suffis, a refined, learned, and mystical
sect of Mohammedans. They are divided among themselves on doctrinal
points: some are pure rationalists, others materialists, and yet others
again pantheists; the latter promulgate theories about the soul that are
in form and idea similar to those of the high-caste and educated

Such are the most important sects to be found among the Mohammedans of
Hindostan. Their intermixture with the Hindoos has produced a number of
minor sects and classes of Musulmans, as well as a very marked change in
their manners and customs. The Hindoos seem to have very greatly
influenced the Mohammedans. The feeling of caste and defilement and
other Hindoo restrictions have gradually assumed more and more
importance in the Moslem mind in India. An Indian Mohammedan is hemmed
about with endless observances reaching down even to preserving the
sanctity of his pots and pans, as with the Brahmans. A Mohammedan will
as religiously guard his "lota," or drinking-vessel, from defilement as
if he were a high-caste Brahman, and superstition attaches to all his
surroundings and habiliments and actions--to his earrings, which are
worn as a charm, his sandals, his _topi_, or turban, his beard, and
even his toe- and finger-nails, which can only be pared on certain days
of the waxing moon. Thus it will be seen that the Mohammedan on Indian
soil differs very greatly in his habits and feelings from the Mohammedan
of Persia and Arabia. As the early Aryan accommodated himself to the
deities and superstitions of the aboriginals, so the Mohammedan has
greatly conformed to customs, manners, and superstitions indigenous
almost to the soil of India.

This social fusion is especially perceptible in the condition of the
women of Hindostan. The Hindoo woman has gradually borrowed the
seclusion of the zenana from her aristocratic Mohammedan sister (the
hareem and the zenana are but different names for one and the same
thing), while the latter in her turn has adopted many of the rules and
endless ceremonies of the Hindoos. Thus, for instance, marriage among
the Mohammedans must be contracted very early, and solemnized when the
youth is eighteen and the maiden thirteen. The courtship is always
carried on by some elderly females, who are instructed to find out and
report the charms of such young people among whose parents matrimonial
connections are deemed desirable. This done, the astrologer, who is very
often a Brahman, is consulted; he examines the horoscope of the young
couple and decides whether the marriage will be auspicious and when it
shall take place, etc. After this comes the betrothal, consisting of no
less than six different ceremonies: First, a present of betel-leaves to
the relatives of the young girl is given by the future bridegroom; these
leaves are often folded in fine gold tissue-paper and stuck with cloves;
each clove must be perfect, with the little blossom attached to the end
of it. The second is called "sweet solicitations." The young man
repairs to the young girl's house with attendants carrying presents, and
in returning to his own bears back with him large presents of
sweetmeats. This is followed by an important ceremony called "treading
the threshold." At dawn the young man stands before the door of the
young girl's home, repeats a prayer, and boldly crosses the threshold;
here the mother embraces him, ties a colored handkerchief around his
neck, puts a gold ring provided for the occasion on his finger, and
fills his palms with money--signs of her cordial acceptance of him as a
future son. This is followed by a three days' visit to the future
bride's home; on each day he partakes of a meal every dish of which is
some kind of sweetmeat; on the fourth day he joins the family at their
ordinary meal, where the ceremony of sharing the salt takes place. The
young woman, closely veiled, is seated by her lover; at the opening of
the meal he takes some salt on his platter and transfers a part of it to
her plate, and she does the same; this little act renders the marriage
contract sacred. The day previous to the wedding is spent in
purification, bathing, and anointing of the bride and bridegroom at
their respective homes. The ceremonies are much like those of the
Brahmans. The person of the young girl is rubbed over with a compound of
grain, flour, turmeric, ashes of rose-leaves, and fragrant gums mixed
into a paste with sweet oil. This preparation is laid on the person of
the young woman, and left to dry for an hour or two, after which she is
bathed with seven waters, four hot and three cold. This done, her
fingers, toes, tips of her ears, and all the joints of her body are
anointed with a mixture of sandal-wood powder, ashes of burnt rose-buds,
and sweet oil, after which she is sprinkled with rose-water, and
conveyed, all closely veiled, to the mosque, where she repeats seven
Kalimahs for herself and her future husband. On this day a procession
in order to exchange wedding-garments from one to the other takes place.

The marriage ceremony is always performed in the evening. I was present
at the marriage of the daughter of a moolah (or Mohammedan bishop) named
Allih Bashka Deen, and the ceremony derived its chief attraction from
the gentle loveliness of the bride and the beauty of her dress. She wore
a purple silk petticoat embossed with a rich border of scattered bunches
of flowers, each flower formed of various gems, while the leaves and
stems were of embroidered gold and silk threads. Her boddice was of the
same material as the petticoat; the entire vest was marked with circular
rows of pearls and rubies. Her hair was parted in Greek style and
confined at the back in a graceful knot bound by a fillet of gold; on
her brow rested a beautiful flashing star of diamonds. On her ears,
neck, arms, breast, and waist were a profusion of ornaments. Her
slippers, adorned with gold and seed pearls, were open at the heels,
showing her henna-tinted feet, and curved up in front toward the instep,
while from her head flowed a delicate kinkaub scarf woven from gold
threads of the finest texture and of a transparent, dazzling,
sunbeam-like appearance. This was folded gracefully about her person and
veiled her eyes and nose, leaving only her mouth and chin visible.

While the guests, relatives, and friends of the bride were all assembled
at the bishop's house the bridegroom had started off to perform what is
called the "shaba ghash," or nocturnal visit. Gayly dressed, handsomely
mounted, the young Akbar Khanibni Ahbad, attended by his nearest
relatives and friends and accompanied by a host of musicians, rode to
the mosque at Kirki, where he offered up three distinct prayers--one for
the future wife, one for himself, and one for the happiness and success
of all his undertakings, especially the one he was about to consummate.
This done, he and his friends mounted and approached the house of the
bride. The moment the cavalcade of the bridegroom appeared in sight a
number of well-dressed young Mohammedans rushed to the gate of the
courtyard, and with loud shouts most violently opposed his entrance,
whereupon he scattered money in handfuls among them, which was the
signal for them to give way. Here the youth dismounted, but was not
permitted to walk into the house, for a stalwart-looking man took him up
in his arms and attempted to rush in with him; here again he was once
more resisted by another party of friends and relatives, till he again
scattered a handful of gold coins among them, thus carrying out the
Oriental saying: "He lined the path to his love with golden flowers."
After this no further opposition was made. The bride and bridegroom,
both veiled, the latter with two coverings over his face, took their
places in the centre of the room, and every one stood up. The khazi, or
judge, then stepped forward, and, having removed the double veil from
the bridegroom's face, began the ceremony. The young man repeated after
him certain prayers--one deprecating his own merits and attractions in
comparison with those of the bride--after which came long repetitions
from the Koran treating of fervor, love, and devotion, followed by
repetitions of the Mohammedan creed and a general thanksgiving. At this
point all the assembly prostrated themselves, the khazi joined the hands
of the bride and bridegroom, the latter repeated word for word the
marriage-vows, and the whole was concluded with a benediction, after
which the bride, still veiled, was carried to the bridegroom's house,
and he followed in her train, accompanied with music, beating of drums,
and loud shouts of joy from his attendants and followers.

On the birth of a child, if it happens to be a male, all the female
attendants utter loud shouts of joy. The mother is kept on very simple
diet, and obliged to drink water made hot by a heated horseshoe being
plunged into it; this has the power of guarding against internal devils,
who are supposed to be very active on such occasions, lying in wait for
mother and child. The moolah is then ushered into the chamber: he takes
the child in his arms and repeats in his right ear the Mohammedan
summons to prayer, and in his left the creed. A fakeer is then
introduced: he dips his finger in some honey and puts it into the
child's mouth before it has tasted any of its mother's milk, which is to
ensure it all the luxuries of life. After these have retired an
astrologer casts the horoscope of the child, and there and then predicts
its future, which, good or bad, is accepted as fate and without a
murmur. Meanwhile, the nearest relatives assemble around the father and
dress his hair with blades of grass--a Hindoo observance, grass
typifying the fragility of human life and affections--and he in turn
makes them presents according to his circumstances.

The naming of the child takes place on the eighth day after birth. If a
son, it is named after the father's clan or tribe; if a daughter, after
the mother's side of the family. The choice of the child's name depends
on the day of its birth and the appearance of the planet under whose
influence it is supposed to be born, as much as on the parentage. The
mother remains apart from the household till the fortieth day after
childbirth; then she is bathed, fumigated, and purified, and so prepared
to enter the mosque, where she offers up thanks for her safe deliverance
from the perils of childbirth, and either reads or has portions of the
Koran read to her, offering a sacrifice of two goats for a son and one
for a daughter.

On the same day, in the afternoon, another ceremony is held--that of
shaving the hair of the child. A priest and a barber attend to this
rite; prayers are offered, water is sprinkled over the head of the
child, and the hair shaved off is carried in procession to the water's
edge, and then launched on a little raft to float down the river. By
this ceremony all evil is guarded from the infancy and childhood of
Mohammedan children. Very often sacred locks are left on the top of the
heads of Mohammedan children, like those of the Brahmans, and these
locks are consecrated to some saint or noble ancestor.

The other ceremony worthy of notice here is that attending the death and
burial of the Mohammedans in India. When a Mohammedan is thought to be
dying a priest is sent for, who prays before the family, then repairs to
the sick chamber, where he exhorts the dying man to attend to the
welfare of his soul, and proceeds to read the chapter on future life,
rewards, and punishments, and the two most important creeds--faith in
God and in Mohammed as his prophet. After death the body is placed on a
bier and conveyed with great pomp, beating of drums, wailing of women
and near relatives, to the Musulman cemetery, where there are always
tanks and utensils for bathing the dead before interment. Here the body
is carefully washed seven times, and then perfumed with powdered
sandal-wood, camphor, and myrrh. The forehead, hands, knees, and feet of
the dead man are especially rubbed; these parts, having touched the
earth at moments of prayer, are held more sacred than the rest of the
body. The two great toes are then tied together; a shroud or
winding-sheet, prepared by the dead man himself, on which he has caused
to be written from time to time the most beautiful passages from the
Koran, is folded around him very firmly and around each arm. After this
the body is replaced on the bier, every one salutes it, and the bearers
carry it to the grave. Here all the friends and relatives stand in three
rows, and at the head of every row is a priest, who solemnly begins the
chant, consisting chiefly of prayers and confessions for the dead. The
body is at length lowered into the grave with its face toward Mecca, and
each relative, taking a little earth in his hand, repeats the solemn
utterance of their Prophet, made in the name of God and his archangel
Gabriel: "We created you, O man, out of earth, and we return you to the
earth, and we shall raise you up again on the last day," and throws the
earth softly on the bier. The grave is then closed, and fatiahs, or
prayers for the dead, are offered on the spot at stated seasons
throughout the first year.


[69] So-called from Allahu Deen Hasain Shah Gangu Bahmani, who was the
first Mohammedan king of Deccan, 1347 A. D. He was a native of Delhi and
servant of one of the most learned Brahman astrologers, who was highly
favored by the fierce conqueror Mohammed Tooghlak. Hasain greatly
distinguished himself in battle with the imperial troops in storming
Dowlutabâd. Finally, the emperor Naisirud Deen resigned to him the crown
of Deccan. He very greatly extended his dominions under the advice of
his early master the Brahman astrologer, Ganzu Bood, whom he appointed
as his prime minister.

[70] It was translated from the Sanskrit into Persian verse by the poet
Faizi of Iran, and acted, with all the Indian appendages of dress and
character, at the court of the great Akbar.

[71] Creeks or water-courses, found full to overflowing in many places
during the rainy season, but which often dry up in the hot months.

[72] A free rest-house for travellers.

[73] Beef is never exposed for sale in a Hindoo city.

[74] Mohammedan bishop.

[75] A white rose, scented like a jessamine.

[76] The practice of female infanticide among the Rajpoots may be traced
to the conquest of India by the Turks and Afghans. Too haughty to give
his daughter in marriage to a conqueror and enemy, and unwilling that
she should marry an inferior without a large dowry, the Rajpoot father
got rid of the difficulties of his position by destroying his female
children at the moment of birth.


     The Temples of Ellora, the Holy Place of the Deccan.--Nashik, the
     Land of the Râmâyanâ.--Sights and Scenes on the Banks of the
     Godaveri.--Damaun, the most famous of the Indo-Portuguese Towns.

We bade adieu to the old historical city of the great Aurungzebe just as
the first streak of sunlight was gilding the conical summit of the
fortress of Dowlutabâd, and, wending our way laboriously up the steep
Pipla Ghaut, we emerged on the other side on a fertile plain planted
with magnificent trees and covered with innumerable mausoleums and
tombs, through which our bullocks made straight for the western boundary
of the beautiful hill of Rauzah. Here we reached a spot of perfect
tranquillity and beauty, but which must have been at some ancient time a
scene of intense activity. The present little village of Ellora,
consisting of a number of Hindoo dwellings, is almost hidden among
groves of fine trees, and is only remarkable because it lies immediately
at the foot of a high wall of rock in which the vast cavern-temples of
this neighborhood are found and to which it owes its prosperity.

We alighted from our wagons on the verandah of a well-built pagoda; near
it was a fine reservoir with flights of broad stone steps leading down
to the water's edge. On the bank or upper stonework of this reservoir
are a number of artistic little Hindoo temples or shrines, the roofs
supported by light delicate pillars, giving an airy and graceful
appearance to the whole village. As soon as Govind had gone through his
prayers and ablutions we started off, accompanied by a couple of
sage-looking Hindoo guides, for the cavern-temples. We followed our
guides for some little distance, when they left the highroad and struck
a narrow, steep path, and all at once, when we were least expecting it,
a sudden turn brought us into the presence of the great "rock-cut
temples" that render this spot the holiest of all places in the Deccan.
Down went Govind and our guides prostrate on their faces and hands.


The solitude, the quiet stillness of the spot, with the bright morning
sun flooding hill and plain and penetrating the depths of these
excavations, were impressive. The temple before us was a large open
court and deep vaulted chamber, massive and elaborately carved, and
chiselled from the heart of the mountain itself, and rising up nearly a
hundred feet. There were many other temples in the hillside, with
doorways, arches, pillars, windows, galleries, and verandahs, supported
by solid stone pillars filled with figures of gods and goddesses,
heroes, giants, birds, beasts, and reptiles of every shape--quite enough
to baffle the most careful student in anything like a thorough
examination of their vast and intricate workmanship.

We went in and out, climbing stone-cut steps up, down, and round about
the caves, not knowing which temple to admire most or on which to bestow
undivided attention. It would take weeks to explore them thoroughly.
There is a very fine cavern-temple dedicated to Pur Sawanath, "the Lord
of Purity," the twenty-third of the great saints of the Jains of this
era.[77] An image resembling those that are seen of Buddha, stone
tigers, and elephants bear up the altar on which he is seated; from the
middle of the altar there projects a curious wheel on which is carved
the Hindoo astronomical table, and a seven-headed serpent is seen over
the head of the god.

Another very beautiful excavation, consisting of three temples or
compartments, is dedicated to Jaggar-Nath Buddh, or "the Enlightened
Lord of the Universe;" these temples are best known, however, by the
name of Indra Sabha, or "the assembly of Indra." These caves are
two-storied, containing images of Indra--"the darter of the swift blue
bolt," as he is called--seated on a royal elephant, with his attendants
about him, and of Indranee, his wife, riding on a couchant lion, with
her son in her arms and her maids around her. The sacred trees of the
Hindoos--_Kalpa Vriksha_, the tree of the ages or of life--are growing
out of their heads; on the one overshadowing Indra are carved peacocks,
emblematic of royalty, and fruits resembling the rose-apple, sacred to
love, grow on the one sprouting from the head of Indranee. This temple
is unrivalled for its beauty of form and sculpture.

The next temple we visited was the Dho Máhal Lenah, "the double palace."
It is full of figures and sculptured story celebrating the marriage of
the god Siva with Parvatee. It is an excavation of great depth and
extent, filled with countless gods and goddesses, among which the figure
of Yama, the judge of the dead, commonly called Dhannah, is especially
remarkable. Not far from this cavern-temple a lovely mountain-torrent
comes leaping down in beautiful cascades. Near a wide pool is a rude
cave with a deity in it called Dàvee, who draws multitudes of pilgrims
to her shrine yearly because of her reputation for performing miracles.

There is also a temple famous in Indian song and story called
Khailahsah, or "highest heaven." The mountain has been penetrated to a
great depth and height to make room for this wondrous bit of sculpture.
Within an area stands a pagoda almost, if not quite, a hundred feet
high. It is entered by a noble portico guarded by huge stone figures of
men; towering above it are, cut out of the hill, a music-gallery of the
finest workmanship and five large chapels, and above all there is in
front a spacious court terminating in three magnificent colonnades: huge
columns uphold the music-gallery; stone elephants, looking toward us,
heave themselves out of this mass of rock-work, and right in front is a
grand figure of the Hindoo goddess Lakshimi being crowned queen of
heaven by stone elephants, that have raised themselves on their hind
feet to pour water over her head from stone vessels grasped in their

Everywhere we found fresh objects of wonder, and each new cave seemed
the greatest marvel of all. The entire hillside is perforated with
chatiyas, monasteries, pagodas, towers, spires, obelisks, galleries,
and verandahs, all cut out of the solid rock.[78] Nothing could be
wilder and more fantastic than the effect produced by these excavations,
situated as they are amid natural scenes very wild and
romantic--waterfalls, ravines, gorges, old gnarled forest trees, and a
dense undergrowth of brushwood.

Naturally, freely, unexpectedly, as the tree grows, was the development
of early Hindoo art. Everywhere one sees an unrestrained imagination
breaking through and overleaping the bounds of judgment, reason, and
even that intuitive sense of refinement to which the Hindoo mind is by
no means a stranger.

Our journey next was quite an adventurous one. We started straight
across the high plain of the Deccan for the Thull Ghauts. In some parts
the country is sandy and desolate, and in others well cultivated, but in
no way remarkable till we reached the rugged but grandly mountainous
country through which our road lay, circuitous and difficult, but wild
and beautiful, as far as Nashik, or "the City of the Nose," sacred to
the Hindoos for various local traditions, but above all as being the
spot whence the Godaveri takes its rise. The real source of this famous
river, however, is some eighteen or twenty miles distant, at Thrimbâk.
On our road lay a deep and dangerous nullah or creek, which we forded
with much difficulty, assisted by a number of natives whom we were
obliged to hire from a little village lying half a mile from its banks.
Passing this, we saw the Ghauts for the first time, with their fine
forests, and here and there a mountain-stream, not yet dried up by the
hot summer sun, tumbling down the mountain-sides or flowing over pebbly
beds, sometimes gleaming into the sunlight and sometimes hidden in
verdure, and anon lying in deep eddying pools at the foot of the Ghauts,
that rise up grand and defiant on every side.

With their forests of foliage and rich jungles the Thull Ghauts are a
perpetual wonder and mystery to the natives, and the spot on which the
handsome city of Nashik stands is a paradise to the Brahmans. Through it
the Godaveri, sometimes called the Gunga, flows, spreading gladness and
plenty everywhere. Here it was that Rama, with his beautiful wife Sita,
spent the first days of their exile near a dark and dreadful forest, out
of which issued the beautiful deer in pursuit of which he was obliged to
leave Sita, who became an easy prey to his enemy Rawana. Here Lakshman,
the brother of Rama, cut off the nose of the giantess Sarp Naki, the
snake-nosed sister of Rawana, from which event the city itself is named.

There is doubtless an historical basis to all these local traditions,
for Nashik is a place of great antiquity, and is mentioned by Ptolemy by
the name which it bears to-day. This land was no doubt at one time
debatable ground between the advancing Aryan tribes and the aboriginal
settlers. Here the Buddhists took refuge from the persecutions of the
orthodox Brahmans, excavating the temples and caves that abound in this

Nashik is now a Brahman city in the fullest sense of the word. Brahmanic
power, influence, culture, and tradition are felt everywhere. Govind,
our pundit, was in his best humor. It seems he had long desired to make
a pilgrimage to this sacred spot, and here he was without any actual
expense to himself and at the right moment. Nashik is said to have a
population of from twenty-five to thirty thousand inhabitants, chiefly
Brahmans of great wealth and famed for their religious sanctity of

At the jatras, or tribe-meetings, a great concourse of Brahmans,
Hindoos, Rajpoots, and Mahrattas from all parts of India pour into this
city, and our visit happened at this time, for the pilgrims were
arriving from all parts of the Eastern world. Most of the streets are,
like those usually found in Oriental cities, narrow, ill-drained, and
badly paved, but there are some that are well kept, and a fine broad
thoroughfare leads almost, but not quite, through the centre of the city
to the banks of the Godaveri. The lofty houses of the Brahmans, many of
which are three stories high and almost palatial in appearance, were
thrown open to the strangers. Pilgrims thronged the streets and were
encamped along the roadside in tents in the open air or under the shade
of huge trees. Highways lead everywhere down to the river, whose
sanctity may be conceived from the vast numbers and characteristics of
the temples that line its banks and dot the islands and rocks in the
river-bed, nearly all built of a hard black rock capable of high polish,
and some in the purest style of Hindoo architecture.

As we were detained here a couple of days, being obliged to purchase a
fresh pair of trotting bullocks in order to prosecute the rest of our
journey, we determined to stay over and see the celebration of the
_Holi_, one of the most curious festivals among the Hindoos. We took up
our abode in the travellers' bungalow, some little distance from the
native city, and looking out upon the English burying-ground. It is a
charming spot, with a wild tangle of trees forming a sort of garden
around it.

The native town of Nashik seems to be divided into three parts, the
handsome and well-built portion being occupied by the wealthy Brahmans,
_vakeels_, or lawyers, and _gurus_, or priests. The second division,
which bears marks of great age and is not very sightly, is inhabited by
merchants and traders in grain and other articles of Indian commerce.
The bazaars are remarkably well stocked with shawls brought from
Cashmere, silks and kinkaubs from Aurungabâd, _gowrakoo_, a native
manufacture of tobacco and used for smoking, and _jaggery_, a dark-brown
sugar from Bombay. In the jewellers' shops we saw some very pretty
specimens of gold and silver ornaments, such as are worn by Hindoo
women. The vegetable and fruit markets here are very fine. Among the
fruits large trays of beautiful flowers were disposed, of which the rose
of Nashik seemed to me the finest I had seen in India. Sheep, goats, and
cows wander about the streets of the bazaar unmolested. Indeed, I saw
cows putting their heads into the open grain-bags exposed on the
shop-windows of the _bunyas_ or grain-dealers, and have a good feed, for
there was no one to hinder them.

One day, as we were wandering about the streets of Nashik, we strayed
into an open court, and thence through an arched entrance, into a large
hall, where we suddenly came upon a company of men weaving a peculiar
and beautiful Oriental silk. The loom was of the old-fashioned Indian
type, set into the ground; the upper thread was of a pale-gold color,
and the lower of the most exquisite blue, and the fabric after it was
woven had a little knot of yellow left on the surface, which gave it the
appearance in one light of being woven of gold threads, and in another
light of pale blue. A number of women were seated close by preparing the
silk thread for the weavers by means of a very rude spinning-wheel.

From the bazaars we set off to visit some of the most artistic temples
that embellish the banks of the Godaveri. There are five structures here
to-day in great repute: the temples of Maha Dèo, or the high god, Siva,
Parvati, Indra, and _Jaggar Nath_, commonly called Juggernaut. Each of
these temples has a large number of laymen, priests, and priestesses, or
dancing-girls, attached to them. The dancing-girls were seen everywhere
in the temples, on the banks of the river, and in the booths erected
here and there, performing their various dances for the amusement of the
pilgrims, and some of these girls were of the finest type that I have
seen in any part of India.

We went into the temple of Maha Dèo, which contains some very rich and
bold carvings. A figure of a god was seated on a stone altar, and all
over the shrine were scattered flowers, oil, and red paint, or
"shaindoor." At the door of this temple we saw seated a very old woman,
who, they told me, was once a famous beauty and a priestess of this
temple. She sat there muttering idly to herself and basking in the
sunlight. Age had very forcibly set its seal upon her. Her skin was
drawn into the most complicated network of wrinkles, her arms were
almost devoid of flesh, and her limbs were as feeble and tottering as
those of an infant just attempting to walk; but her eyes, large, dark,
and piercing, still retained a great deal of their original beauty. The
people, however, regarded her as one inspired, and the women attached to
the temple had a tender care for her, taking her into an adjoining
chamber every night to sleep, bringing her out to her accustomed place
every morning, and feeding her at regular intervals.

On the banks of the Godaveri is shown a spot where women without number
have become suttees, or, as they called them here, Sadhwees, or "pure
ones." At a very gentle curve of the river are the cremation-grounds of
the Hindoos, and here the ashes of men burned at a distance are brought
and scattered in the holy stream, which is thought to have its source in
the heart of the great Maha Dèo himself.

Next morning, when we issued into the streets of Nashik once more, the
scene that presented itself to our astonished gaze was that of a vast
multitude gone mad. Crowds of women dressed in fantastic attire,
especially in white- and yellow-spotted muslin sarees, men in curious
garbs, boys dressed like sprites or wholly nude and besmeared with
yellow paint, fakeers, gossains, ascetics, Hindoos, and Brahmans, were
seen in the streets shouting, laughing, throwing red paint about; rude
jests were being passed; women were addressed in obscene or ribald
language; persons blindfolded in the streets were left to grope their
way until they removed the bandage from their eyes, friends sent on
bootless errands, etc. In fact, it was a complete saturnalia of the
rudest and most grotesque description. It was the festival of the
_Holi_,[79] held in honor of Krishna's sportive character on the night
of the full moon in the month of February.

That evening we went out on the banks of the Godaveri to see the
termination of the festival, and it is simply impossible to describe the
wild enthusiasm of this vast concourse of people. The banks of the
river, the steps of the numberless temples, the courts within courts,
the shrines, the altars, the great halls and music-galleries with
forests of carved pillars, were closely packed with countless throngs of
white-robed priests, half-naked gossains, or sparkling dancing-girls,
while thousands of men, women, and children lined the banks of the
Godaveri, eager and enthusiastic participants in the gay, bewildering
scene. As we stood gazing at the strange spectacle we heard the wild,
discordant sounds of various musical instruments, the shrill blast of
innumerable conch-shells, and the deafening beat of the tom-toms,
whereupon huge fires began to blaze almost simultaneously from shore to
shore at regular distances, and everywhere round them groups of
strangely dressed boys performed weird circular dances, holding each
other's hands and going around them; then, suddenly letting loose, they
darted and leaped round and round one another and round the fire at the
same time. This dance is ostensibly performed to commemorate the dance
of the god Krishna with the seven gowpiahs, or milkmaids, but there is
scarcely a doubt that this festival originally meant to typify the
revolution of the planets round the sun.

The light from these blazing fires streaming out upon the moonlit river,
the wild discordant music, the hilarious shouts, the frantic dancers,
the sparkle of the dancing-girls, the white-robed figures of the
countless multitude, now flashing in sight in the glare of the
firelight, and anon vanishing in the deep shadows beyond, the piles of
black temples, the great trees with their arms bending down to the river
or stretching toward the clear sky,--all combined to render the last
night of the festival of the Holi at Nashik a most weird and singularly
fantastic sight.

From the first to the last day of our visit here there was nowhere
perceptible the least trace of European influence on the people or in
the city. The people and the city were just what they might have been in
the days when Ptolemy wrote about the latter, purely and wholly Hindoo,
and full of a Brahmanic atmosphere of religious mysticism--a
civilization quite different from anything we had ever witnessed.

There are a number of curious excavations in this neighborhood, about
five miles from the town, in the side of a hill that overhangs the
highway from Bombay. The hill as well as these cavern-temples is called
Pandulená. We rode out on fine horses hired from a native stable close
to the bazaar. The ride out was delightful, the views of the country at
once grand and beautiful, but the excavations were much less interesting
than had been reported to us by Govind, and in no way comparable to the
wondrous structures of Ellora. There is one cave here, however, that has
a superior finish. The roof is finely arched; the dogaba, or memorial
structure, stands at the end and is well executed. Another cave with
idols of seated figures has a flat roof, and is not very interesting,
save that near it is carved in a niche a huge figure of Buddha. The
chief idol here is called Rajah Dhanna--_i. e._ "judge of the dead"--and
is held most sacred by the pilgrims, who were now beginning to arrive
here in strong numbers. The odors of the stuff with which the filthy
gossains rub themselves and their altogether disgusting appearance sent
us hastily back to our quiet lodge, and early next morning we bade adieu
for ever to Nashik.

From Nashik to Trimbak, eighteen or twenty miles, the country is one of
unrivalled beauty. Trimbak is a very sacred spot, where the Godaveri
really takes its rise, and is wholly given up to the Hindoo and Brahman
pilgrims, who were pouring into the place from all the country round. It
is filled by a class of priests whose sole duty it is to instruct
pilgrims in the right way to worship and to receive the gifts bestowed
on the temples. The houses of these priests adjoin the temples; they
lodge the pilgrims without any charge, but each person generally leaves
at the temple a gift which exceeds the cost of his stay. We had no time
to examine the temples here, for we spent only a night at Trimbak, and
started next morning, traversing circuitous roads, crossing some small
nullahs, and by dint of travelling all day and night reached the next
important halting-place, which was no other than Damaun, a famous old
Portuguese town.

The town of Damaun, with its ramparts, gateways, and bastions, is
picturesquely situated. There is on one side of it a fine old fortress
baptized after a Christian saint and called the "Castle of St.
Hieronymus," and on the other a deep, navigable river which still bears
the favorite Hindoo name of Gunga. The country all round Damaun is well
cultivated. The tara palm, the castor oil, the babool, or _Acacia
arabica_,[80] were seen in the gardens and plantations. But the interior
of the Portuguese town struck me as gloomy and exceedingly filthy, and,
though it was full of people--Mohammedans, Hindoos, and Christians, with
even Jews and Parsees--it lacked that air of sprightliness and vivacity
so noticeable in a purely Hindoo population. It was neither one thing
nor the other--not wholly pagan, and only partially Christian. The Roman
Catholic chapel here was once a grand mosque.

Through the kind introduction of a Portuguese friend we were most
cordially received in the home of a venerable native Portuguese named
Johnna Castello. The household consisted of himself and the families of
two married sons; one of the ladies was indisposed, but the other, Donna
Caterina, did the honors of hostess in a simple and unpretending manner.
Our pundit had an outhouse placed at his disposal. The establishment did
not boast of many rooms, and those in which we were lodged were rough
and poorly built of wood. Our meals consisted of rice and curry, fish,
_kabobs_,[81] kid and fowl pillau, with a variety of fine fruits and
vegetables. Our meals were served apart and in European style, but the
quantity of onion and garlic with which almost every dish was seasoned
helped much toward shortening our stay here. Besides which, it seemed to
me that everything was pickled, from the pork (of which the native
Portuguese are very fond) to the young bamboo-shoots. At every fresh
course some half a dozen hot, biting pickles were handed around.

My womanly curiosity led me into the kitchen of this very well-to-do
Portuguese family. It was in keeping with the rest of the place. It was
a low wooden structure, black with smoke and age; a long range of open
fireplaces, made of brick and mortar, ran along on one side; on these
earthen _chatties_, or earthen pots, were boiling away, some covered and
others uncovered; but hanging from the roof above these pots were long
lines of blackened cobwebs that looked as if they had remained
undisturbed for a hundred years. The servants were all men, native
Christians, and were overlooking the cooking or attending to various
culinary duties. They were filthy beyond measure, and so was every nook
and corner of the kitchen. The native Portuguese in this old-fashioned
city of Damaun struck me as peculiarly uninteresting in their manners
and appearance. We saw them in the streets, seated on the verandahs or
doorsteps of their houses, chattering or laughing or quarrelling with
their neighbors in shrill, harsh tones and with ungraceful gestures. In
some aspects Oriental Christianity seems even more degrading than the
worst form of paganism.

In the afternoon of the same day, as we were walking about the town, we
passed a wedding-procession on its way to the Roman Catholic church,
which served in some slight degree to soften the unfavorable impression
produced by the people and the town. It was a gaudy sight. Sheets were
spread along the street leading to the steps of the chapel; flowers,
chiefly the oleander, the rose, and the _mohgre_,[82] were scattered all
over these sheets by dark-skinned Portuguese girls dressed in long white
trousers and old-fashioned pink frocks. Presently the church-bells began
to tinkle merrily, and a company of dark-hued damsels issued in full
sight, dressed in tinsel and gold, with long white muslin veils, almost
like the Hindoo sarees, bound round their persons. The bride was closely
veiled from head to foot in something that looked like the _purdah_[83]
worn by Mohammedan women. We could not see her, but I pleased myself
with imagining that she was young and beautiful. Close to her were two
young women bearing lighted torches, and in the foremost rank were two
Portuguese priests, who led the way to the chapel (once a mosque), each
bearing a silver-mounted crucifix. The bridegroom brought up the rear
dressed as an English general, with a dark-blue embroidered frock-coat,
golden epaulettes, scarlet pantaloons, sword, and a cocked hat with
feathers, accompanied by at least twelve other native gentlemen
similarly attired; but many of these grand-looking officers were
barefooted. This grotesque procession rushed into the chapel in unseemly
haste, and we followed. There was nothing very remarkable in the
exterior of this chapel. But within, the principal altar was very richly
adorned with gilt images of Christ, the Virgin, and saints, with
handsome candlesticks and a great deal of gold and tinsel. There seemed
to be but few seats. Before the marriage ceremony began the bride
dropped her purdah, or veil, and, to my surprise, I found that she was
both ugly and old, and about to be married to the young fellow in the
general's costume, who certainly looked young enough to be her son. She
was a rich old widow, which explained the matter. We did not wait to see
the ceremony, as our stay here was limited to two days, and this was our
last one in Damaun.

After nightfall, as I looked out upon this strange, semi-Christian,
semi-pagan city, old and weather-stained, poorly lighted, and upon that
river named after a Hindoo goddess flowing by so sluggishly, but which,
after the rainy season, often becomes a cruel foe to the peasant and
cultivator, I felt somehow that it was one of the most dismal places in
the world, in spite of its peculiar advantages of a rich soil and
sea-views. Next morning, through the kind offices of our host, who
assisted us in procuring a comfortable berth on board a native craft
called a patemar,[84] we found ourselves sailing before a fine breeze,
bound straight for Surat, one of the most ancient and well-known
seaports of Western India.


[77] Pur Sawanath and Mah-vira, the twenty-third and twenty-fourth
pontiffs of the present era of the Jains, seem to have superseded all
the former saints in sanctity of character. They are described by the
Jains as having thirty-six superhuman attributes of mind and
body--beauty of form, fragrance of breath; curling hair, which does not
increase in length or decrease in quantity, the same qualities being
attached to their beards and nails; a white complexion, exemption from
all impurities, hunger, decay, bodily infirmity or disease of any kind.
The spiritual attributes are those of justice, truth, faith, love,
benevolence, freedom from all anger and all earthly desires, immense
power of devotion; hence of working miracles, of making themselves heard
at vast distances, speaking intelligibly to men, animals, and gods, of
materializing spirits and conversing with them, and the power of
scattering war, plague, famine, storms, death, sickness, or evil of any
kind by their immediate presence. The heads of these Jain saints are
always described as surrounded with a halo of light, whose brightness is
greater and more far-reaching than that of the sun. The Brahmans, it is
said, with great adroitness, in order to draw to these temples the Jain
pilgrims from Guzerat, Bombay, and other parts of India, take care to
represent their god Parshurama, an incarnation of Vishnu, to be none
other than the Jain saint, Pur Sawanath.

[78] Those who desire to have a detailed account of these caves will
find an admirable description of them given by Col. Sykes in the third
volume of the _Bombay Asiatic Society's Transactions_.

[79] A most popular Hindoo festival held all over Hindostan in honor of

[80] A genus of leguminous trees and shrubs, usually with thorns and
pinnate leaves, and of an airy and elegant appearance. It is found in
all the tropical parts of both the Old World and the New, and also in
Australia and Polynesia. A few species only are found in temperate

[81] Small pieces of meat seasoned and roasted on a skewer.

[82] A white flower very much like a double jessamine, with much the
same fragrance.

[83] A veil that covers the whole person.

[84] A patemar is a coasting vessel, built generally in Bombay. It has
prow and stern alike, double planked--a handsome craft of about two
hundred tons burden, with two masts and great wide lateen sails.


     The Taptee River.--Surat and its Environs.--The Borahs and Kholees
     of Guzerat.--Baroda, the Capital of the Guicowars.--Fakeers, or
     Relic-Carriers, of Baroda.--Cambay.--Mount Aboo.--Jain Temples on
     Mount Aboo, etc.

The views along the Western Ghauts and the coast are very grand. We soon
lost sight of all their varied beauty, and in a couple of days entered
the splendid river Taptee, which flows broad and deep immediately under
the walls of the city of Surat.

Almost at the mouth of the Taptee stands a lovely little island;
opposite to this is a little town called Domus, a quaint,
homelike-looking place, where Europeans spend the hot months. The river
flows for miles through a richly-cultivated suburb of gardens,
plantations, and beautiful houses, till it reaches the city, which is
walled with bastions at certain points, but the walls and towers are
fast crumbling away. At one extremity stands the famous old castle of
Surat, about three hundred years old, looking older and more stained
with time and age than even the fortress of Damaun.

Surat has a double wall and twice twelve gates, inner and outer,
communicating with one another. But its history is even more varied and
complicated than its "world-protecting" walls and wooden-leaved gates.
It is written in the ruins found everywhere in the gardens, palaces of
the nawabs, rajahs, and peishwas, as well as in the factories of the
Dutch, French, Portuguese, and English, most of which are now
transformed into hospitals, lunatic asylums, hotels for European
travellers, or pleasure-houses and grounds for wealthy natives.

Here are also grand English and Dutch cemeteries, where many noted
English and Dutch lie magnificently entombed in stately mausoleums, in
order to impress the Oriental mind, which is always disposed to attach a
certain kind of sanctity to piles of brick, mortar, and stone, whether
priest, prophet, or knave lie interred beneath.

We tried to visit the "Pinjrapoore," or hospital for sick animals, here;
it seems to be arranged much on the same plan as that in Bombay, but
this place was too filthy to enter, and in that respect much inferior.
Attached to it are large granaries, where all the damaged grain of the
bazaars is piled up for the use of the sick animals in the hospital; and
this it is which has rendered this place a perfect pest-house of insects
and vermin of all kinds.

Fire-temples and towers of silence are numerous here, as Surat has a
large Parsee community, who have been established in this region ever
since the eighth century. The most curious and interesting people in
this part of the world are the Borahs, the Jains, and Buniahs.

The Borahs are divided into two classes, the traders and the
cultivators. They are Hindoos converted to Mohammedanism; they form the
most active and industrious cultivators of the soil, as well as cotton-
and cloth-merchants. Their dress, manners, and language are the same as
those of the Hindoos. Cotton is the chief staple. The Borahs occupy an
entire street in Surat, and it is especially distinguished as being the
cleanest in the native town. Their houses are spacious and well built,
with fine open balconies. Their women are well treated. They support
here a number of Mohammedan priests, a bishop--have a fine mosque
wherein to worship, and one of the best colleges in this part of the
country, where the Borah youths receive a thorough commercial education.

The Buniahs are almost identical with the Borahs in their trading and
commercial qualifications. They are the great grain-merchants here and
everywhere. They are also divided into three classes--the cultivators,
the wholesale merchant, and the petty retailer, who travels from village
to village with his grain-bags on his shoulders. The Buniahs, however,
are Hindoos in religion as well as by birth.

The Jains, of whom mention has already been made, are seen in great
numbers in the streets and bazaars. Their dress is a long white robe
descending in full folds from the shoulders to the feet, and over the
shoulders is thrown another long loose piece of white cloth; the head
and beard are closely shaven. But the most striking peculiarity is a bit
of white cloth of fine texture which they wear over the mouth to prevent
them from destroying, by inhaling into their lungs, the minutest insect
life. They are always found with a little broom in their hands, no
matter where they go, so as to sweep the ground before seating
themselves, with the same end in view--the preservation of all insect
life; for this purpose they walk very slowly with their eyes cast on the
ground. To destroy life, even unintentionally, is the inexpiable sin,
and a Jain will not drink any water until he has strained it, nor will
he take any meal or drink of any kind after sunset, lest he should
happen to devour some living thing. The Jains have some fine temples in
this city.

Surat was long in the possession of the Mohgul emperors. In 1842 the
last nawab died, and it passed into the hands of the East India Company.
It is still a great trading city; the surtee rassum, or manufactured
silk of Surat, is very beautiful; the gold and silver ornaments sold in
the bazaars are unique and of fine workmanship. Surat is also famous for
the weaving of many varieties of cotton cloths; these are usually woven
in small chequered patterns with bright and elegant borders. Potteries
are not only numerous, but some pottery of very fine form and quality is
sold in the bazaars and is said to be of home manufacture.

The last day we spent in Surat was passed in driving through the suburbs
in a native wagon drawn by a fine pair of humpbacked white bullocks
(zebus), who carried us rapidly over the ground. We alighted at the
palace of the last nawab, called at once the "gift of God" and the "seat
of oppression." Of its being the former there is no trace, but the
shadow of the latter name seems still to fall upon the partially
deserted place. Apart from the collection of Persian and Arabic
manuscripts to be seen in a room adjoining the palace of the nawab,
there is nothing to interest the curious visitor. With the removal of
the Moslem flag that once waved so proudly over the citadel of Surat the
glory of the Mohgul conquerors departed.

The Mohgul quarter of the city is gradually falling into decay; ruin and
desolation mark the spot where many a noble pile of Moslem dwellings
once stood. The very name of the Mohguls is almost a thing of the past,
save that in household song and story their deeds will ever cast behind
them a dark and terrible shadow.

We left Surat, or rather _Soo Rashtra_, "the pleasant country," seated
in a dhuinee, a native wagon on two wheels with a cloth canopy overhead,
and drawn by a pair of large, handsome humped oxen, with a Bheel guide,
the pundit, and two servants. We had traversed a large extent of
country, halted under trees by the roadside and at mean little
dhurrum-salas, without fear or molestation of any kind, with but few
detentions, and only one accident to our wagon, which was repaired
almost at once by applying to the headman of a village near by, who not
only sent us a blacksmith, but came out to see the work done himself.
The plan adopted in our travels through the Deccan we carried out in our
entire journeyings through Guzerat and back--_i. e._ to send the pundit
to the governor of the town or to the headman of the village to ask
escort and guide for the place itself as well as to the next station;
and in no instance were these unfaithful to the trust reposed in them.
When they quitted us at the appointed station we generally made them a
small present, which brought down upon us showers of blessings and
unqualified praise. I did not doubt, however, that our good-fortune in
this respect was owing to the dignified bearing and sanctified presence
of our Brahman pundit. For the first few miles from Surat to Ratanpoore,
"the Jewel City," the road was deep and heavy, and our wagon dragged
slowly along, but it was not long before we came out on a magnificent
park-like country, which is the characteristic of almost the whole vast
province lying west of the Deccan. It was delightful to hear our Bheel
guide singing in his deep sonorous voice as he trotted on by our side,
in which music he was joined occasionally by our driver. One of his
songs was intended to gratify European hearts and ears (with the "inam,"
or present, in prospect, I suppose), the chorus of which was as follows:

     "Bur, bur, nashanee oorta hai,
       Ingraje Bhadhar ki,
     Mar lia rah Tipoo Sultan,
       Wo kaya lurta, hârâm ki."

     ("Behold proud England's flag unfurl
       And wave on every height.
     Beaten low lies Tippoo Sultan;
       With England who dare fight?")

This chorus was kept up with great animation until we reached the Jewel
City, which is named after the extensive carnelian-mines in its
neighborhood. Our measure of sleep at the miserable halting-place was
stinted, for we started at dawn to visit the mines, situated some
distance from the village along the slope of a picturesque hill. The
road was literally covered with discarded pieces of carnelian. The mines
were neither high nor deep. The entire face of the hill is perforated
with galleries or pits that run in every direction. The gems are found
imbedded in a slimy black clay holding numerous organic remains. In some
parts the pits are carried down thirty feet before the peculiar deposit
in which the carnelian abounds is reached. It is also found in many
other places here still unknown to Europeans, as the natives keep the
secret, as far as it is possible, to themselves and even from one
another. It was interesting to see the men working at the mines. They
were very poorly clad, with only a _langoutee_, or waist-cloth, round
them, and each division was superintended by a number of better-dressed
men called _sirdhars_, or "head lords." The stones are collected in
great quantities, then tried by means of another sharp stone prepared
for the purpose. If they chip easily they are discarded, but if they
have a firm, compact texture and a deep-black color, they are selected,
cleaned, and exposed on strips of rough straw mattings to the sun's rays
for the space of a year or more, since the longer they are thus exposed
the brighter the color and polish after baking. The process of baking
these stones is both curious and original. The rough stones are piled in
small heaps on the ground, which is slightly hollowed out to receive
them. Small earthen pots with holes in them are placed over each pile;
then a quantity of goat- or sheep-ordure is heaped up on each pot; it is
then kindled and allowed to smoulder all night. On the following
morning the stones are carefully examined, and if they have acquired the
deep bright tint peculiar to the carnelian known to commerce, they are
ready for the jeweller's polish; if not, they are once more subjected to
the fire. The shops in Baroda, Cambay, and Ahmedabâd have great
varieties of these stones for sale; for they are not only carved into
rings, beads, bangles, boxes, vases, bowls, and mouthpieces for pipes,
but idols for the Jain, Hindoo, and Buddhist temples are also fashioned
out of them.

Our journey from Ratanpoore to Baroda was through a very beautiful
country, and, though it is said to be infested with Kholee and Bheel
robbers, we passed through it without the least molestation. At one
point of the road not far from Baroda we espied a thick wood above which
towered the slender spires of some Hindoo temples. The moment these were
seen our pundit, driver, and Bheel escort craved permission to retire
for _puja_, or worship, for a few moments. The oxen were fastened to the
branch of a tree by the roadside, and we alighted and walked about until
our pious attendants had finished their devotions to the goddess
Bhawanee, enshrined even here as the favorite of the reigning Mahratta

Baroda, or Varodah, "the good water country," is now the capital of the
Guicowars, which name means, literally, "owner of heads of cattle." It
is the quaintest, the most densely populated, and independent city in
this province.

The first Guicowar, a peasant by the name of Pullahji, was employed as a
domestic in the service of the Peishwa Baji Roa. He soon raised himself
by means of his extraordinary military talents to the rank of a
commanding officer of the Peishwa's troops. Shortly after, having won
over the army, he declared his independence and established himself on
the throne of the Peishwas in Guzerat. Having sprung from the hardy
Khumbis, or cultivators of the soil, he was justly proud of his race,
and assumed the ancient title of Guicowar. Whenever opportunity offered,
Pullahji, bent on conquest, invaded the Peishwa's territories, carrying
pillage and disorder through the richest provinces of Nagpoor
Rajpootana. His successors, however, have been obliged to employ the aid
of the British troops to hold their own in these provinces, which are at
best but partly subjugated.

We crossed an old Hindoo bridge of curious structure consisting of
arches placed one over the other, and spanning an impetuous but
extraordinarily beautiful river still bearing the polished Sanskrit name
of _Vishwamitra_, or "the friendly preserver." It flows strong and swift
for many miles through a deep rocky channel. Its banks are singularly
striking in some parts, rising on either side from fifty to sixty feet.
Its waters, instead of appearing friendly, seemed dark and turbulent,
not unlike the barbaric city which stretched along its banks. Temples,
mosques, tombs, mausoleums, and dark, sombre-looking fortresses are seen
everywhere; great flights of stone steps lead to the fast-flowing river,
and all day long these are crowded with men and women washing, bathing,
or filling their water-jars. The suburbs of Baroda extend for miles, and
in the most densely crowded part of the capital the streets are narrow
and crooked, the houses mostly of wood, but built with a view of
architectural effect. Some are almost like pretty Swiss châlets, and
others not unlike Italian villas. At the cross-roads and in various
parts of the streets and lanes are seen queer little temples with the
oddest of gods and goddesses enshrined in them--deities of the woods,
fountains, streams, and even of the streets--and over these fluttered
the gay-colored flags of the Guicowar. As for the inhabitants of Baroda,
as seen in the streets, verandahs, and shops, they are quite
characteristic. Specimens of every Eastern nationality may be seen here,
and, what is more, in the martial atmosphere of the place they seemed
more like freebooters, murderers, and warriors than like the simple
citizens of a great agricultural district such as Guzerat presents
outside of her cities and towns.

The city proper, or rather the citadel, is walled. It is entered by huge
gateways guarded by soldiers, and made even more imposing by the lofty
round towers that crown it on either side. It is divided into four
portions, three of which are occupied by the nobility of the court of
Guzerat, and the other by the palaces and buildings of the Guicowar
himself. The antechamber of the palace is a huge stone structure
supporting a many-storied wooden balcony, from the centre of which rises
a lofty pyramidal clock-tower painted in various colors and looking
fantastic beyond description. Here we saw the Guicowar going to worship
at some temple; he was preceded by a number of led horses and elephants
splendidly caparisoned; then came his standard borne on a great
elephant, followed by the Guicowar himself. After him came men on foot
in scarlet dresses, and more elephants. The elephants here are trained
for riding, hunting, war, and even as executioners and combatants.

The English station is very picturesquely situated, and is purely
European in appearance. The contrast is all the more striking after
seeing the citadel of the Guicowar. It is on the north bank of the river
Vishwamitra, and not far from the great highway are the British
residency and travellers' bungalow, where we were most comfortably

One of the most ancient and curious temples to be seen here is situated
at the west end of the suburbs of Baroda. It is called Ghai Dawale, "the
cow temple." The front is imposing. A portico with granite pillars
admits you into a series of vaulted chambers, and there are numberless
idols of gods and goddesses enshrined in niches, with offerings of
flowers before them and red paint sprinkled over their persons. A great
many corridors lead to other chambers, cells, vaults, and mysterious
retreats that have sprung up round it owing to the vast number of
priestesses called Páthars attached to it. Another feature of Baroda are
the magnificent _bowries_, or wells, that are found here; some are in
themselves most exquisite pieces of architecture, and may be called
temples built over reservoirs. The entrance to these well-temples are by
five or more pavilions; thence a flight of stone steps leads to a second
dome, which is arched, and under the outer dome, which is in its turn
supported by lofty pillars and is pyramidal, then more steps and more
pillars, until the level of the water is reached, which is again covered
by a last and beautiful dome supported by innumerable short pillars. The
largest of these wells in Baroda is called _Nou Laki_, or "Nine Laks,"
from its having cost that amount in building. It was erected by
Suleiman, the governor of Baroda in A. H. (Mohammedan) 807. The water is
very delicious, and here people from all parts of the country assemble
to drink--mendicant Brahmans, gossains for alms, and fakeer carriers of
relics to trade. The latter is not a mendicant, but a religious trader,
whose chief claim to sanctity consists in the marks he wears on his brow
and nose. These men go from place to place carrying their curious relics
in curtained baskets slung across their shoulders; their shirts and
cumberbunds are filled with balls, beads, and pins made from the wood of
the _toolie_[85] and other sacred trees. They have beads of sandal and
other woods strung into necklaces, bracelets, armlets, and anklets, mud
figures of gods and goddesses made of the sacred clay of the Ganges, the
Godaveri, and the Brahmapootra, precious bones of saints and prophets
carved into amulets, and any quantity of yellow threads as a
preservative against the evil eye. Women and children flock round these
relic-carriers, and in return for grain, cloth, silver, and gold they
will fasten a small yellow thread, a bead, an amulet, or a precious bit
of some dead saint's bone--these, however, they part with only for gold
or silver--around their wrists, arms, neck, and feet, to preserve the
wearer not only from the evil eye, which is much dreaded in the East,
but from all diseases and from sudden death.

Once more in our native wagon, with a fresh guide and escort we started
for Cambay, the Khambayat of the ancients. We passed through a luxuriant
country, for Guzerat is indeed the garden of the East. The thriving
villages enclosed with great hedges of prickly pear; the pretty little
wooden houses of moderate size, all built on the same plan, with farms,
or cotton-plantations, or fruit-orchards of mangoes, tamarinds, etc.,
attached to them; the two-storied houses of the priest, the village
schoolmaster, and the headman, with their high verdant hedges shutting
off the house from curious eyes and separating it from its
neighbors,--this all makes up a pretty picture. In the centre of these
Guzerat villages there is generally a Hindoo temple, and a space fenced
or hedged in where all the villagers assemble for prayers, celebration
of holidays, and other festival gatherings.

The Guzerati women are handsome, well-formed, and remarkably
industrious; many of them do all their weaving and spinning at home.
Their chief food consists of eggs, fowls, milk, cream, and cheese: some
of the Guzerat Brahmans will eat fowl and even game. The men are
well-formed, athletic, and of fairer complexion than the natives of
Southern India.

Cambay is a city of great antiquity and well known to early European
travellers. In 1543, Queen Elizabeth of England sent a mission to
Khambayat, with instructions to proceed thence to China. The Hindoos
state that on the site of Cambay stood twelve hundred and eighty years
ago an ancient Brahman city--according to Forbes, the Camanes of
Ptolemy. It derives its present name, however, from a copper pillar,
called "Khamb," dedicating it to the presiding deity of the place, the
earth-goddess Dèvi; the date on this pillar is a little before the
eleventh century of our era. Cambay has an air of extreme sluggishness
and rapid decay, and one cannot fail to see its changeful history in its
numerous foundations. Everywhere are remnants of many cities and many
kinds and styles of architecture, built one above the other.

The travellers' bungalow here comprises the upper stories of a spacious
stone building, once the English factory. It overlooks the entire city,
which is built on an eminence, with its old walls perforated with holes
for musketry, its fifty-two towers and ten gates guarded by soldiers,
and also looks out upon the great Gulf of Cambay, than which I know
nothing more formidable in nature. At low tide for miles out one sees
only a vast plain, moist, strewn with shells, and intersected here and
there with deep hollows and shifting sandbanks; but when the tide
changes, and long before the waters appear in sight, are heard
tremendous sounds, crash after crash, thunder after thunder, of the
advancing tide, which comes in leaping like a huge monster, thirty to
forty feet high, and breaks with terrific violence against the shore,
carrying everything before it. Ships and native vessels anchor at a
point some miles down the gulf, where the tides are less strong.

Cambay has witnessed many a dreadful scene of carnage by the Mohguls,
Hindoos, Persians, and Rajpoots. The only objects of real interest here
are subterranean Jain temples; they are situated in the Parsee district.
The exterior, or rather upper part, of the temple would be insignificant
but for the imposing statue of Parswanath, sculptured in white marble,
surrounded by a host of smaller images, many of which are jewelled and
are sold as household deities. Our guide pointed to us a queer narrow
opening at the side which led by means of steep steps to the underground
temples which the Jains, like the early Christians, built for purposes
of midnight assembly and worship in order to escape the persecution of
the Mohammedan conquerors of Guzerat.

Emerging from one of the gates of Cambay, we wended our way through
ruins which are scattered all about the neighborhood. Now a broad paved
pathway, now crumbling tombs, anon ancient structures, a broken archway,
a cluster of roofless pillars, or, again, dilapidated temples, mark the
sites where stood rich and quaint habitations, temples, or pavilions of
the ancient Hindoos. The richness and luxuriance of nature seems to have
vanished also from these ruinous suburbs, and our road was no longer
beautiful, but lay through a deep sandy plain until we entered the
ancient capital of the great sultans, Ahâmâdabâd or Ahmedabâd, one of
the unrivalled cities of the East.

The travellers' bungalow is a pleasant place, and everything in the way
of living is as cheap and good as one could possibly desire. We engaged
a very intelligent guide, who spoke Hindostanee well, to take us to the
places best worth seeing.

Our first drive was to Mirzapoor to see the Ranee-Ki-Musjid, or "the
Queen's Mosque," an enchanting spot. The moment we alighted in front of
it a very old fakeer, with a multitude of necklaces round his neck, came
out to greet us, and for a rupee showed us about the place. The mosque
and mausoleum here are both beautiful marble structures, erected to the
memory of a princess, Rupavati. Her tomb, which is richly ornamented, is
of a mixture of Moslem and Hindoo style of architecture. The dome is
magnificently fretted, and pillars standing at each tower form a
graceful colonnade around the tomb. But perhaps the chief and peculiar
beauty was the situation of these partially ruined monuments, amid a
wild tangle of fruit and other trees where birds, squirrels, and monkeys
find a pleasant home. The second mosque and tomb are not far off,
dedicated to the memory of a Mohammedan queen called Ranee
Sipra-Ki-Musjid, "the Queen Sipra's Mosque," one of the favorite wives
of Ahmed Shah, the founder of the city. These are exquisite buildings
too, and in the finest Saracenic style; the pillars and minarets have an
air of wonderful loftiness and beauty.

The Kanch Ki-Musjid, or "Glass Mosque," and the Jummah-Musjid, are both
remarkably beautiful structures. The Glass Mosque, so called from the
whiteness and purity of the marble of which parts of it was built, has a
graceful dome after the Turkish style, terminating in a crescent. The
Jummah-Musjid is in the vicinity of the great street, "Manik Chouk,"
which contains the chief bazaars and markets of Ahmedabâd. It is an
oblong building, with a fine open courtyard containing a reservoir for
washing the feet of the worshipper before entering the precincts of the
temple. The light elegant domes of this building are supported by
graceful pillars, and its open arches, minarets, and façades are most
exquisitely ornamented.

The grand royal cemetery of Sarkhej lies several miles from the city of
Ahmedabâd--a wondrous ruin, the ancient summer residence of Ahmed Shah.
To approach it one is obliged to cross a fine pebbly stream fordable at
points, called the _Saber-Muttee_, properly _Safer Muttee_, "pure sand."
The road leading to these vast ruined structures of palaces, hareems,
mosques, tombs, and gardens is still paved in some parts.

We were admitted by a saintly custodian, who became affable the moment
silver coins were dropped into his half-open palm. Gury Baksh, or "the
bestower of virtue," the spiritual adviser of Ahmed Shah, lies interred
here beneath a splendid monument which attracts crowds of pilgrims
annually. The tomb and mosque were completed by Khouttub-ood-din, the
grandson of Ahmed Shah. The city is founded on the site of a very
ancient and populous Hindoo town dedicated to and called after the
goddess Ashawhalla, and is built out of the materials of one or more
Hindoo cities which Ahmed Shah sacked and plundered, carrying away the
stones, pillars, and monuments bit by bit.

Ahmedabâd was given up to the East India Company in 1818, and has been
held by it ever since. It is impossible to do anything like justice to
the beauties and attractions of this magnificent Mohammedan city. It
abounds in stately monuments, mosques, mausoleums, palaces, great
reservoirs, and gardens, in a more or less ruinous condition, but which
show a high degree of civilization and point to a period when the Mohgul
occupation of India was at its highest prosperity.

Leaving Ahmedabâd, we started for Mount Aboo, a place very little known,
but one of the most beautiful spots in the world. The magnificent
province of Guzerat is separated from Marwar on the north-east by a
range of mountains in which are Mount Aboo and a beautiful
mountain-lake called Aboogoosh. Passing through Desa, a military station
for European troops, and across the Bhanas River, our road lay for many
weary days through patches of jungle more or less dense until we found
ourselves at the pretty little Marwar village of Andara, which lies at
the foot of Mount Aboo. There is a good path from the village to the
summit of the mount, and here a beautiful lake, called after the saint
"Aboo," who is said to have excavated the basin in which it lies with
his nails, and it is therefore called Nakhi Taloa, "Nail Lake." It is an
exquisitely shaded bit of water, and in its vicinity are found wonderful
Jain temples built of pure white marble. Not far from this spot is the
sanitarium for travellers, where we took up our abode, barracks for
convalescent European soldiers, and a quiet, unpretending little
Protestant church.

The most important of the cavern-temples in the neighborhood are the Tij
Phal and the Veinahl Sah. One is dedicated to a Jain saint,
Vrishab-Deva. It stands alone in a square court, and all around it are
little cells with deities enshrined in them. A number of strange-looking
priests worship here, making offerings of saffron, lamps fed with ghee,
and incense in small brass pots. One priest deliberately asked us for
some _brandy_, and, as we had none to give him, proposed instantly to go
back with us if we would give him some, because he suffered from pains
in his stomach.

The temple dedicated to Parswanath, the great Jain teacher and saint, is
an exquisite bit of architecture built of the purest white marble. From
one of the vaulted roofs is suspended a cluster of flowers resembling
the half-blown lotus, sculptured out of the rock; its cup and petals are
so beautifully carved that they are almost as delicate and transparent
as the flower itself. Everywhere the flowers, fruits, birds, and
animals indicate that the artists must have taken their models from
nature. There is also a fine Rajpoot fortress here. The dog-rose, a
beautiful Indian flower called _seotee_, the pomegranate, the wild
grape, the apricot, are among the indigenous products of Mount Aboo. The
mango tree also abounds here, the white and yellow jessamine, the
balsam, and the golden champa, which is sacred to the gods; but the
rarest and most beautiful of all the plants is a parasite called by the
natives _ambathri_, with lovely blue and white flowers, creeping,
entwining, and blossoming around the largest forest trees.

It was a beautiful morning on which we returned to Andara. It was not
without deep regret that we bade adieu to this charming mountain-region
and the Jain temples enshrined within its heart. We turned again and
again to take a last look at the bas-reliefs and the ornaments wrought
here with such grace and delicacy of design as to become the despair of
our more impetuous artists, before we could make up our minds to quit
those extraordinarily beautiful monuments for ever.



[85] A native name for a tree which is found in great abundance in this
part of India, and held very sacred.


     Calcutta, the City of the Black Venus, Kali.--The River
     Hoogley.--Cremation-Towers.--Chowringee, the Fashionable Suburb of
     Calcutta.--The Black Hole.--Battles of Plassey and Assaye.--The
     Brahmo-Somaj.--Temple of Kali.--Feast of Juggurnath.--Benares and
     the Taj Mahal.

After eight or nine days' steaming from the fair and picturesque island
of Bombay our captain announced that we were about to enter the Hoogley,
a river made famous in Indian song and story as "the strong arm of the
beautiful goddess Gunga, the compassionate daughter of the proud
Himâlayas," but which is in reality a great muddy estuary. The burning
sun poured down upon its heavy waters as they loomed out of the distant
plain and rolled sluggishly toward the sea, every wave seeming to bear
on its troubled brow an impress of the dark history of the land through
which it has flowed for centuries.

Late in the same evening the pilot-boat came out to meet us, and not
long after we cast anchor at a place called Saugor, where there is a
lighthouse. I remember distinctly the oppressive night we passed here,
owing no doubt to the combined impurities rising out of the turbid waves
and the fetid odors of the adjoining land. Early next morning we were
again in motion, sailing up the dusky Hoogley. Its low, muddy banks were
dotted with wretched-looking mud huts, relieved only by the
ever-graceful palm trees that waved above them. What a contrast this
river was to the clear, limpid, and joyous Krishna, the high-banked and
proudly isolated Godaveri, the genial, broad-breasted Taptee, and the
grand, impetuous Vishwamitra of Western India!

Another day was nearly gone before we reached our moorings. We cast
anchor once more amid a dense forest of masts, funnels, and native craft
in the harbor of Calcutta. We were met at the Champhool Ghaut, or
landing-place, by kind friends. Ascending a magnificent flight of stone
steps and passing under a great archway, we hurried into a European
carriage, and were driven rapidly from the strange conflicting mass of
humanity that always abounds at a great seaport, but especially at the
seaports of all the British settlements in India.

The house of our friends here was in many respects furnished like a
European dwelling, and one might almost fancy himself in an English home
but for the pillared halls; the spacious chambers, with long punkahs or
fans suspended from the ceilings, some of which are kept going night and
day; the dark, silent barefooted domestics, robed in pure white, who are
seen gliding noiselessly to and fro, which lend a powerful magic charm,
a flavor of the Arabian Nights, to the interior of even the most
ordinary of British homes in the East.

Calcutta, the capital of British India, still bears the name of the
black goddess Kali, who is supposed to spread pestilence, famine, and
death over the land of which she is the presiding deity whenever her
altars are neglected and her thirst for vengeance unappeased. Unhealthy
as the spot is, it was rendered infinitely more so by the innumerable
corpses that were until within a few years cast upon the waters of the
Hoogley: the poverty-stricken inhabitants of the land, unable to pay the
expenses of a funeral by cremation, committed their dead to these waters
in the belief that its mystic current would purify them from all taint
of sin. This, however, has been prohibited by the British authorities.
Huge cremation-towers now receive all bodies cast upon its waters,
whence the never-dying flames are seen constantly ascending, dark and
lurid, toward the tranquil blue sky.

The town of Calcutta lies on the eastern bank of the Hoogley, which is
the eastern arm of the old Ganges, and held almost as sacred as that
river; the natives daily repair in great numbers to its banks to offer
up prayers and praises. Here also, amid the din and noise and hurry of
native craft, trading vessels, and all manner of river commerce, may be
seen at any hour of the day or night the sick and dying of the Hindoo
population stretched on the edge of the river's banks, half immersed in
the sacred stream, their faces turned to the sky, convulsed or calm,
breathing their lives away.

At high water the Hoogley is nearly a mile broad in front of the town,
and is very pleasant to look upon. Fine ships and steamers of all
nations and countries lie here within sight and sound;
picturesque-looking craft of every kind are seen gliding swiftly hither
and thither. But at low water the scene suddenly changes; the river
becomes a shrunken and muddy ghost of itself, with filthy borders,
whence myriad floating particles of miasma are wafted on the air to the
poor humanity who are doomed to live and labor in its vicinity.

After passing the triumphal archway you emerge on a spacious open area
called the Meidân, or plain; here all the principal roads part and meet,
and here on either side one sees a grand display of really stately
architecture. This is the handsome and fashionable suburb of Chowringee,
and in every respect worthy of being called, as it is, "the City of
Palaces." The houses are all European, three and four stories high, some
detached, others connected by handsome terraces or open sunny
balconies, many with shady verandahs, high carriage-porches supported by
stately pillars, while not a few are rendered still more attractive and
home-like with gay flower-gardens and fine forest and fruit trees, which
latter are not as fine as those found in the gardens of Bombay, owing to
the destructive influence of the periodical cyclones that sweep over the
valley of the Ganges.

Our first drive was through this the European part of the city, which
extends about five miles along the river. A noble and much-frequented
esplanade divides the town from Fort William. On one side stands the new
Government-house, said to have been erected by the marquis of Wellesley.
It is a noble pile, an Ionic structure on a simple rustic basement. A
flight of stone steps leads to the north entrance. The south part of the
building is ornamented with a circular colonnade surmounted with a lofty
dome. There are spacious corridors at each of the four corners, with
circular passages leading to the private apartments of the family. This
princely building contains magnificent chambers, some of which are
richly decorated and filled with valuable portraits of the great
viceroys of India. Near the Government-house stand the Town-hall,
Treasury, and High Court; opposite is Fort William, commenced by Clive
soon after the famous battle of Plassey in 1775, the most
systematically-constructed fortress in India. It is said to have cost
the East India Company the immense sum of one million pounds sterling.
In shape it is an irregular octagon, with bombproof quarters for a
garrison of no less than ten thousand men and with room for six hundred
pieces of cannon. Toward the front it presents a regular massive
appearance, and is not unlike most European fortifications, but on the
side overlooking the river it is strikingly varied and picturesque,
owing to the extremely irregular and broken character of the structure.
It was designed to bear upon objects that might approach the town on
either side of the river, and is eminently effective in warding off
danger. Immediately beyond the fort the fine steeple of the cathedral is
seen rising pure and high above the surrounding foliage. There is also
here a palatial residence for an Anglican bishop, and in 1844 the Rev.
H. Heber was the first Christian divine appointed to this see, with a
salary of five thousand pounds per annum.

Here in this spot is found the secret of the marvellous success of that
small band of intelligent Englishmen who first set out for India under
the name and protection of trade. Here only a few years after their
arrival they laid aside their intention of simple traders; here they
mounted their guns, enrolled armed bands of natives to assist them in
their new position, made laws, punished evil-doers, rewarded the
industrious and such as made no opposition to their pretensions; and
here from one step to another they finally became the legislators and
rulers of the land. The city of Calcutta does not date farther back than
the famous battle of Plassey. The old fortified English factory was
erected on a low marshy plain in the middle of a few straggling native
villages, bordered on three sides by dense jungles infested with tigers.
At that time it had a garrison of only three hundred men; nevertheless,
that insignificant English stronghold became in a short time the
depository of all the rich merchandise of the Gangetic valley, which
excited the cupidity of many of the rajahs. In 1756, Nawab Surajah
Dowlah attacked it with an immense army, and after a desperate
resistance from the English merchants and soldiers of the fort he
finally succeeded in capturing it. Then followed the famous Black Hole
tragedy, which Macaulay has so graphically described: "One hundred and
forty-six persons were thrust into a dungeon twenty feet square; driven
into this cell at the point of the sword, the door was shut ruthlessly
upon them. When they realized the horrors of their position they strove
to burst the door. They offered large bribes to the jailers, but all in
vain. The nawab was asleep, and none dared to awaken him. At length the
unhappy sufferers went mad with despair. They trampled each other down,
fought for the places at the windows, fought for the pittance of water
with which the cruel mercy of the murderers mocked their agonies, raved,
prayed, blasphemed, implored the guards to fire among them. The jailers
in the mean time held lights to the bars and shouted with laughter at
the frantic struggles of their victims. At length the tumult died away
in low gaspings and moanings. The day broke. The nawab had slept off his
debauch, and permitted the doors to be opened. But it was some time
before the soldiers could make a lane for the survivors by piling up on
each side the heaps of corpses on which the burning climate had already
begun to do its loathsome work. When at length a passage was made,
twenty-three ghastly figures, such as their own mothers would not have
known, staggered one by one out of the charnel-house. A pit was
instantly dug. The dead bodies, one hundred and twenty-three in number,
were flung into it promiscuously and covered up." Such was the terrible
nature of the affair of the Black Hole. But the day of retribution was
not far distant.

In order to understand the position of the East India Company at this
time we must go back a few years. The jealousy that had sprung up
between the French and English trading companies broke out into open
hostilities at the moment of the declaration of war by Louis XV. in
1744. The English were the first to receive reinforcements from home.
Four English vessels, having previously captured three richly-laden
French vessels on their voyage from China, appeared off the coast of
Coromandel in July, 1745. Dupleix, the governor at Pondicherry,
apprehensive that, owing to the incomplete state of the fortifications
and the insufficient garrison, the place would be taken, prevailed on
the nawab Anwar Ou Deen to threaten to revenge upon the English at
Madras any injury that the squadron should inflict upon the French
possessions within the limits of his government. The Madras officials,
intimidated by the authoritative language of the nawab, took immediate
measures to prevent the English fleet from attacking Pondicherry. The
English squadron, in obedience to the orders received, confined their
hostile operations to the sea.

In the following year an indecisive action took place between the
English squadron and a French fleet under the command of La Bourdonnais;
after which the latter, having reinforced himself at Pondicherry,
proceeded to attack the English at Madras. The town was bombarded for
several days; a few of the inhabitants were killed by an explosion of a
bombshell. The English, knowing that the nawab, with all his countless
forces, was on the side of the French, capitulated, on which the
assailants entered the town and took it without the loss of a single

Robert Clive, then only a writer in the East India Company's service,
was among the persons who agreed to submit to La Bourdonnais, on the
express condition that the settlement should be restored on easy and
honorable terms. At the time when Madras had reverted to the English,
Clive had already exchanged the pen for the sword, and had risen to the
rank of a colonel in the East India Company's service. On hearing of the
atrocity of the Black Hole the English at Madras immediately despatched
a naval and military force, the one under Admiral Watson, and the other
under Colonel Clive, to punish the nawab and protect the English at

The bravery and "duplicity" of Clive, who believed in the adage,
"similia similibus curantur," enabled him to succeed beyond the most
sanguine expectations. Victory was followed by victory, and at length,
at the battle of Plassey, Clive at the head of three thousand men, of
whom less than one-third were English, and in the course of a single
hour's conflict, routed the entire army of Surajah Dowlah, consisting of
fifty-five thousand armed men. Surajah Dowlah vanquished and deposed,
his prime minister, Meer Jaffer, was appointed in the place of the
master, whom he had not only deserted, but betrayed, and thus Meer
Jaffer became at once the subject and tool of the English.

The directors of the East India Company, on receiving the news of
Clive's success, appointed him governor of their possessions in Bengal,
and in 1760 Clive was raised to the peerage with an income of forty
thousand pounds a year.

Warren Hastings was the next Englishman who from the position of a clerk
in an office at Calcutta rose to be the governor-general of British

The kingdom of Mysore, whose lofty table-lands are swept by the cool
breezes of the Indian Ocean, has always been inhabited by a more hardy
and manly race than that which occupied the lower plains of Hindostan.
Hyder Alee, an illiterate common soldier, impelled by a daring spirit of
adventure, seized this kingdom of Mysore and seated himself on the
throne of Seringapatam. The next step taken by this daring adventurer
was even more startling. In the month of June, 1780, and when in his
eightieth year, he led an immense army into the Carnatic, carrying
slaughter and destruction wherever he appeared. Two small English
armies, headed by Colonel Baillie and Sir Hector Munro, tried in vain to
check his course; they were not only overwhelmed, but compelled to
retreat, and it seemed as if the British empire in Southern India
trembled on the very verge of destruction. It was this critical juncture
that brought out the great genius of Warren Hastings. He at once took
upon himself the supreme direction of affairs, superseded the incapable
council at Madras, and without loss of time despatched the brave veteran
Sir Eyre Coote with a small but resolute force to the assistance of the
English at Madras. At once the forces of Hyder Alee were checked, siege
after siege was raised, until at length the English and Mohammedan
armies met on the plains of Cuddalore, whence, after a desperate fight,
the latter was driven in wild and disorderly confusion. Hyder Alee died
two years after this defeat, bequeathing to his son, the famous Tippoo
Saihib, his throne and his hatred of English domination.

Very shortly after Warren Hastings, impeached by the House of Commons,
resigned his office as governor-general of India. Then followed that
famous trial which not only extended over seven years, but, when
dismissed from the bar of the House of Lords, left Warren Hastings a
ruined statesman and an insolvent debtor. The East India Company,
however, came to his aid with an annuity of £4000 a year, and a loan,
half of which was converted into a gift, of £50,000.

During the administration of the next governor-general, Lord Cornwallis,
the implacable Tippoo Saihib suffered a signal defeat. Sir John Shore
followed Lord Cornwallis, and was succeeded by the earl of Mornington,
the elder brother of the "Iron Duke." He no sooner arrived in India than
his attention was called to the intrigues of the French with Tippoo
Saihib, who were planning, with the assistance of fresh European troops,
to drive the English out of Hindostan. The treachery of Tippoo was
anticipated by a declaration of war. On the 5th of March, 1798, a
British army, commanded by General Harris, with the aid of several
native powers, entered the territory of Mysore, stormed the city of
Seringapatam, overthrew the dynasty of Tippoo Sultan, and annexed that
magnificent province to the British dominions.

The British had no sooner gained possession of the lofty table-lands of
the Mysore than a new and more formidable enemy, the warlike and
predatory tribes who inhabited the table-land of the Deccan, opposed
their further progress. The most renowned of these kings, the rajahs of
Berar, Scindia, and Holkar, formed the famous northern confederacy under
the leadership of a still more powerful chief, the Peishwa, whose
government was at Poonah, the capital of the Deccan. The British were
soon plunged into an extensive war with these wild and fierce northmen.
On the 4th of September, 1803, the fort of Alleghur was taken by storm,
and on the 11th of the same month General Lake met twenty thousand of
these intrepid warriors, headed by able French officers, and defeated
them, capturing Delhi, one of the most ancient capitals of Hindostan and
the seat of the intolerant and luxurious Mohgul emperors. Triumph
followed triumph; Agra, Ahmednug-gur, and the golden city of Aurungabâd

At length the united powers of Scindia and the rajah of Nagpoor made one
more desperate attempt to oppose the English power in the Deccan. The
armies of the Mahratta kings were marshalled at the small village of
Assaye to meet the British troops. On ascending the rising ground to
reconnoitre the enemy's forces, the English commander, who was no other
than General Wellesley, perceived a vast host extending in a line along
the opposite bank of the Kelnah River near its junction with the Jewah.
Their right consisted entirely of cavalry, and their left was formed of
infantry trained and disciplined by De Boigne, with over one hundred
pieces of cannon, which rested on the fortified village of Assaye. These
were completely overthrown by Wellesley with a force not exceeding eight
thousand men, and of whom not more than fifteen hundred were English.

The power of the Mahratta kings, once shaken at Assaye, was at length
completely humbled on the plains of Argaum. They were compelled to sue
for peace, which was only granted them at the expense of enormous
territory. From this time British influence became paramount through the
whole of Northern Hindostan, and these were the last and most famous of
General Wellesley's conquests in India. He returned to England in 1805
to win for himself greater fame than even that which he achieved on
Indian soil.

Magnificent as is the city of Calcutta architecturally, it was
considered at one time one of the most unhealthy of spots. The entire
country is flat; here and there are extensive muddy lakes, breeding
under a tropical sun malaria and all manner of diseases; a line of dank,
tangled forests still stretch across the land, and is not very distant
from the town. In former times this jungle was the abode of innumerable
wild beasts, and it is even now infested with jackals, who immediately
after nightfall howl in sudden accord, uttering the most demon-like
yells. These local disadvantages have been partially removed. The
streets have been well and carefully drained; many of the stagnant,
muddy pools have not only been filled up, but converted into blooming
gardens; and the magnificent Botanical Garden with which Mr. Hooker has
enriched Calcutta, is said by good judges to be the finest in the
world. Nevertheless, the air is still impregnated to a certain extent
with the impure exhalations arising from the low jungles in the vicinity
of this city, called the Sunderbunds.

From the palaces of the conquering Anglo-Indians the drive to the "Black
Town," as the native portion of the city is still called, is enough to
discourage the most enthusiastic of Christians in the world. This
quarter of Calcutta stretches for some miles toward the north,
presenting at once a sad contrast to the stately and grand portion
occupied by the English. The transition is all the more marked because
of the architectural pretensions of the one and the rude mud habitations
of the other. Here reside at least three-fourths of the entire
population of Calcutta. The streets are more or less narrow, filthy,
unpaved, and unswept. The houses are built principally of mud, bamboo,
or other coarse woods, swarming with an excess of population. Within
this wretched vicinity are found no less than twenty entire bazaars
extending from one end of the "Black Town" to the other, well stocked
with goods from all parts of the world, rare and valuable products of
the Indian loom, shawls and paintings from Cashmere, kinkaubs from
Benares, teas and silks from China, spices, pearls, and precious stones
from Ceylon, rupees from Pegu, coffee from Java and Arabia, nutmegs from
Singapore; in fact, everything that the wide world has ever produced is
displayed in shops that are nothing but miserably patched mud or bamboo
dwellings. Through these native bazaars the teeming population seemed to
flow and gurgle unchanged through all changes of governors,
constitutions, and rulers--the same to-day, in type, character, feeling,
religion, and occupation, as it was before the beginning of the earliest
known history. Here, assembled from the four winds of the heaven, were
all the elements of an unspeakably motley crowd--nut-brown, graceful
Hindoo maidens tripping daintily with rows of water-jars nicely balanced
on their heads; dark-hued young Hindoo men, all clean and washed, robed
in pure white, laughing, talking, or loitering around;
handsomely-dressed baboos--as the native gentlemen of Bengal are
called--in Oriental costumes, but with European stockings and shoes,
sauntering carelessly along; dancing-girls brilliantly attired; common
street-women jewelled and bedizened with innumerable trinkets and in
their distinctive garb; bheesties with water-skins on their backs;
Borahs, brokers, Brahmans, Musulmans, sepoys, fakeers, and gossains, in
their peculiar costumes, shouting in manifold tongues and various
dialects; and, above all, there may be seen strolling jugglers,
snake-charmers, and fortune-tellers plying their curious arts and
completing the picture of an Oriental bazaar.

In some of the streets a small stream of water, a rivulet of the sacred
Ganges, flows bright and clear through artificial channels. Many of the
native shops open on it, and all day long hosts of men, women, and
children may be seen seated beside it, busy or idle, but always grateful
for this truly precious gift of the gods.

Calcutta boasts of a Sanskrit college of high repute, a Mohammedan, and
an Anglo-Indian college, supported by the English government. The
College of Fort William, founded by the marquis of Wellesley, is chiefly
used by Englishmen, who, having been partially educated at the College
of Haylesbury, England, are instructed here in the Oriental languages
and other branches of study necessary for their respective professions
and callings in India.

The government system of native education was established on the
foundation of the Hindoo schools already in existence. These schools are
divided into two classes or grades, the upper and lower schools. In the
upper, by means of Sanskrit, the peculiar philosophy, literature, and
religion of the Hindoos are taught; the lower schools are to be found in
every village, and may be numbered by tens of thousands; in these the
teaching varies and is more or less dependent on the ability of the
persons--_i. e._ Brahmans--who are employed to teach. Most of these
village teachers are induced for about six pounds per annum to attend a
normal school for a year; after having passed the required examination
they are invited to take charge of some village school.

There are eight great centres of education in British India, and each is
wholly independent of the others. These are the three great presidencies
of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, Scindh, the North-western Provinces,
Oude, the Central Provinces, and British Burmah. Each of these has its
own special director of public instruction, with a staff of inspecting
officers. Among the institutions that are wholly supported by the
government may be classed the village school, in which the vernacular of
the district is taught with a few other studies; the zillah, or district
school, in which the higher classes are often educated in English and
prepared for the universities; the talook schools, which also are
preparatory schools; colleges with European professors, in which a
thorough English education is imparted to the students, as are now found
in the chief cities of Benares, Delhi, Agra, Lahore, Poonah, Madras, and
Calcutta; and the Elphinstone College at Bombay. Normal schools,
technical colleges for medicine, engineering, and surgery, mission and
other private schools abound, besides which there are thousands of
purely native schools scattered throughout the vast territory of India,
still existing under the old Brahmanic village system of education.

Native female education is hardly begun by the government, and the task
is very difficult, owing to the peculiar social restraints still imposed
on the better class of Asiatic women. The Parsee female schools in
Bombay are said to be the best supported and the most efficient in this
respect. About twenty-five years ago Mr. Bethune opened in the city of
Calcutta a school for native women. It was liberally supported by Lord
Dalhousie, and since his death by the state. This was the beginning of a
movement which has found great favor not only in Bengal, but in the
North-western Provinces and the Punjaub. There are now in Bengal two
normal schools for teachers and two hundred and forty-four schools for
girls, with 4844 pupils. There are no fewer than six hundred and fifty
schools in the Punjaub, with an aggregate of 20,534 pupils. These
elementary schools in the Punjaub, Lahore, and Umritsur are
superintended solely by native gentlemen. In addition to these the
zenana mission-work, carried on so successfully by American and European
missionary ladies, is slowly but surely preparing hundreds of women and
children for a day that may ripen into better things; like a grain of
mustard-seed once cast into the right soil, it will stretch out strong
boughs to the four corners of the earth for the birds to lodge under.

Another school of religious thought, already mentioned, called the
Brahmo-Somaj, "assembled in the name of God," is even more closely
allied with the dawning freedom and emancipation of the Hindoos from the
priestcraft and spiritual tyranny of the Brahman hierarchy. From this
new school of religious thought a large party of about five thousand
souls seceded some few years ago. They chose for their leader the able
and astute philosopher, the late Keshub Chunder Sen, one of the most
talented and spiritual men among the Hindoos of to-day. This association
has a church in Calcutta, where the members meet once a week or oftener
for the purposes of meditation and worship.

Various means of improvement are now open to the British subjects of
India. The English residents in Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay are among
the most kind and liberal people in the world. Quite independent of the
government establishments, they privately support a vast number of
charitable institutions, and there is no end of societies for religious
and other educational objects; and although the changes effected in the
religious and social condition of the majority of the peoples since the
occupation of India by the British are hardly perceptible, nevertheless
some very important steps have been taken toward ensuring the good of
the people at large, especially in the prohibition of sutteeism,
infanticide, the terrific sacrifice of life that at one time
characterized the festival of the god Juggernath, not to speak of the
tortures of maddened fanatics and self-condemned ascetics, the horrible
practices of the Thugs and that of the Meriahs of Orissa. All these
savage practices are more or less repressed by the constant and vigilant
operation of protective laws instituted by the British rulers.

Before leaving Calcutta we paid a visit to the Khali Ghaut, and alighted
before a great hall with a towering but ungainly roof above it. This was
the famous temple of the black goddess Kali. There was something more
entangled, enchanted, and demon-like about this building and its
interior than any other that I had ever entered in India. It was the
festival of Juggernath. A number of white-robed priests were preparing
to place the grim goddess in a car and to lead her forth to grace the
festival. The temple consisted of a vast number of low pillars; it was
dimly lighted, and, although light was flooding the earth everywhere in
great splendor, it was not allowed to enter here, but it worked its way
hither and thither and quivered dubiously in unearthly tints on the face
of the black goddess dimly visible in the distance. A more hideous and
repulsive image can hardly be conceived by the heart of man than this
veritable female fiend after whom the city of Calcutta is still named.

No one seemed to object to our entering the temple, so we walked down
the dim aisles and stood face to face with the grim and terrible Kali.
It would be impossible to give utterance to the sense of horror that
crept over me as I looked at this strange, enigmatic deity of the
Bengalees. The black face was surmounted by long hair which had the
appearance of innumerable serpents; a red tongue protruded from the
hideous mouth; the expression of the eyes was strange and fierce, almost
to madness; she was furnished with four arms, in one of which she
grasped a knife and in the other the head of a man; in another pair of
hands higher up she held a lotos and the _chakra_, or the wheel. Round
her neck hung the skulls of murdered victims, and she stood on the body
of a prostrate man, who is represented trumpeting forth her praises even
while she is in the act of crushing him to death.

The pundit explained to us the meaning of this horrible figure; no
further text was needed. This grim idol is to the Hindoos a fearful
warning against sensuality. The lotos in the upper hand, which is the
emblem of purity, and the wheel of retribution, are transformed in the
lower hands into a knife and a bleeding human head. She puts out her
tongue derisively, and crushes her victim--all indicating, as plainly as
our Bible, "The wages of sin is death." Human sacrifices were offered to
her at no very remote period, but now, by order of the British
government, the sacrifices to her are limited to goats and kids, which
are offered to her every morning.

As we were standing and looking at this strange idol, a number of
barefooted priests came through a narrow court, entered the temple, and
took their places beside the shrine. Two men very handsomely dressed
approached from an opposite direction bearing a fine goat, which was
tied by the feet, and laid it at the foot of the altar. Then one of the
priests took from the altar a vase containing some red paint mixed with
oil, with which he touched the forehead, fore feet, and breast of the
goat; he then sprinkled some consecrated water on it. This done, a
low-caste man stepped up, took the poor palpitating beast, inserted its
head into a curiously-fashioned guillotine, secured it there by means of
a wooden pin, and then dealt it one blow; the head was severed, and was
presented to the officiating priests, and the executioner carried away
the body. Such offerings are made by both men and women as an atonement
for personal offences. Thus the wrath of the black goddess of Calcutta
is supposed to be appeased. Goats are also sacrificed to her by Hindoo
women when they have had bad dreams or when they anticipate any
calamity, in order to avert the coming evil.

On the next day was the procession of Juggernath. A wilder and more
incongruous scene I never witnessed. We spent several hours in watching
the procession, which, issuing from the native town, traverses a large
circuit round the principal thoroughfares, pauses at the bank of the
river, and then retires to the country-seat of the idol, some few miles
from the temple. The idol is made of wood, is about six feet high, with
a grim human countenance--very unlike the carvings of Krishna to be
found in other parts of India--painted blue, and seated in a lofty
chariot borne aloft on sixteen high wheels. It was drawn by long ropes
held by thousands of enthusiastic men, women, and children, who often
bribe the priests for the privilege of conducting the god to his
country-house. A number of priests and gayly-dressed priestesses,
standing on the platform of the chariot, chanted the praises of the
"lord of life," while the people shouted, screamed, and clapped their
hands amid the wild beating of drums and din of hundreds of native
musical instruments. The air was heavy with the incense offered to the
idol, while nature around seemed to be steeped in repose, myriads of
bees murmured softly their idyllic hum among the wayside flowers, doves
were seen nestling together among the shady leaves of huge pepul trees,
and around the cool recesses of huge tanks and reservoirs numbers of
peacocks sat or strutted quietly about, unfurling their glories to the
noonday sun. More puzzling than even the festival of Juggernath is the
curious state of things still existing in British India, for side by
side with the Church of the Brahmo-Somaj, the advanced thought and
intelligence of the educated baboos and other highly philosophic and
cultivated natives of Bengal, are the temples of the goddess Kali and
the strange festival of Juggernath.

With regard to European influence, it must be admitted that it is
hardly, if at all, felt by the majority of the native population. The
viceroy and the great English grandees are separated from the natives
for whose interests they are there by law and custom which nothing can
overcome, and the officials around whom the whole Indian empire revolves
are often ignorant of the Indian languages, races, religious and social
prejudices, and mode of life of the hundreds of provinces that lie
within the railways, while those beyond are to them, as the wilds of
Africa, an undiscovered country. I have often heard gentlemen of great
intelligence in other respects speak of the people of India with
profound contempt, classing in one indistinguishable mass Brahmans,
Hindoos, Parsees, Mohammedans, Arabians, Persians, Armenians, Turks,
Jews, and other races too numerous to mention.

Our next visit was to Benares, the far-famed ecclesiastical metropolis
of Hindostan. We rested full two hours just outside this sacred spot to
enable our pundit to perform the prescribed observances before entering
this holy of holies. When he appeared before us he was bathed, shaved,
anointed, and clothed in pure white, and even to his sandals he was a
new man. He kept his eyes half closed, so that his thoughts should not
be tempted to stray from the object of his deep contemplation. Presently
we were joined by a crowd of pilgrims who passed into the city, some
prostrating themselves full length as they drew near. In the morning
light Benares presented a most imposing appearance: the buildings are
lofty and mostly in the Hindoo style of architecture, stretching for
several miles along the edge of the Ganges, from which ascends a long
line of stone steps. Next morning we visited several of the Hindoo
temples, especially the temple of the monkeys, which was one of the most
ludicrous I have ever witnessed. A number of tame monkeys played about
the temple even while the most solemn services were being performed
within. The large area for the cremation of dead bodies sent hither from
all parts of Hindostan was the most astonishing thing I have ever seen,
and the huge funeral pyres ever burning here produced on my mind an
ever-memorable effect. We were glad to turn our steps from the revolting
sights and scenes of the cremation-ground to a beautiful mosque which
stands as a symbol of Moslem power in the very heart of this Brahmanic
city, towering up above the surrounding buildings on the site of a once
magnificent Hindoo temple which was torn down, by the order of
Aurungzebe, to give place to the present graceful structure. We remained
for an hour or more within the walls of this mosque, and came away
charmed with the glistening mosaics, the capitals of the columns, the
vaults, ceilings, and arches, and the thousand and one mysterious
optical illusions of light and shade caused by the wonderous
architecture of the Moslems. Our next visit was to the Hindoo Sanskrit
College, the most famous institution of learning in Hindostan, and well
worth seeing. The students often assemble here at sunrise, and even
after sunset, to continue their studies, and in no part of India do I
remember meeting so many noble-looking young Hindoos as were assembled
in these halls on the morning of our visit.


From Benares we made a long and tedious dâhk-journey--_i. e._ by
changing horses at different stations--to Agra, in the upper plains of
India. The country we passed through was beautiful. The picturesque
native villages of immemorial antiquity, their names, their fields,
their hereditary offices and occupations, have come down to them out of
a dim past and through countless generations, and everywhere we saw
fields of millet and wheat, the flaming poppy, and the tall luscious
sugar-cane plantations; cream-colored, dreamy-looking oxen moving
sleepily about in the fields or drawing water from the wells and tanks;
men, women, and children basking under the shade of huge trees or
bathing languidly in the cool tanks, giving one the feeling of passing
through dreamland.

The great sight of sights at Agra, as every one now knows, is the famous
Taj-Mahal, and hither we repaired the morning after our arrival; and I
must confess, though I had heard of it and read the many elaborate
descriptions of it, I had no idea of its matchless beauty till I stood
under its roof surrounded by its pillars and walls. It would take pages
to describe the wonderful outlines of the windows, the ornaments of the
walls, arches, domes, and minarets, or even the exquisite carvings and
arabesques of a single frieze; so that I will not attempt here what has
already been so often done. The impression left on the mind is very deep
and solemn. When I first caught sight of the Taj through the noble
gateway at the entrance to the grounds, I experienced feelings of
mingled awe and wonder, which increased in proportion as we examined it
more closely. Even the enormous platform on which the Taj stands is of
white marble, inlaid with precious stones, and all the lower parts
outside of the building are also most elaborately and tastefully carved.
The dome is perfect in its proportions of pure white marble, with an
exquisite minaret of gold. In the centre is the tomb of Noor Mahal, also
called by her proper name, Mamtaz Mahal, the favorite wife and queen of
Shah Jehan, built to her memory two centuries ago. Above the tomb is a
mass of the most delicate inlaid work, and the screen-like wall which
surrounds it is entirely composed of leaves and all sorts of flowers
containing innumerable precious stones. The echoes of our voices
produced the most wonderful reverberations, impossible to imagine or
adequately describe. We visited the Taj also by moonlight, and found it
a hundred-fold more enchanting. The gardens in which it stands are
purely Oriental, and recalled to my mind many passages from the old
Persian poets. There are lovely white marble fountains and tanks and
promenades with inviting seats here and there for rest, while a
profusion of fragrant flowers, shrubs, and the dark silent cypresses
which stand like muffled mourners around the monument add a pathetic
beauty to the lovely spot.

Having seen the Taj, there was nothing left to do but to return to the
"Aviary" on Malabar Hill.

And now, as I close these brief sketches of life and travel in India,
the romance, antiquity, the song, and story still stir the memory with
the powerful enchantment of a land where all nature seems to lie
dreaming in its glory of perpetual sunshine, warmth, and color.


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