A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
simply the wandering friars of mediaeval Europe. The modernization
of India will cause them to disappear as the modernization of Europe
has driven out the friars.
The rare few who are real Yogis may go, too, but never com-
pletely. I deem myself fortunate to have gained a footing in their
exclusive ranks, for their society is more exclusive than that of
He tells me of the point he has reached in his inner life. He can
sit still in meditation for two or three hours and completely forget
the outside world; he can enter into mystical ecstasies of the Spirit;
and he has brought his power of concentration of thought to a very
advanced degree. He has found a certain amount of inward peace
and is consequently happy.
We discuss two problems which he cannot satisfactorily deal with
alone, and finally I feel an urge to put forward certain explanations.
He receives the latter joyfully and exclaims:
"Now I know why I had to come and see you. Those are the
exact answers which have been eluding me!"
I tell him that the credit does not belong to me, but to my
Master, for it is to him that I am indebted for this particular bit of
We rest awhile on the peak-top. The place is festooned with
ferns, which enlace themselves afound the fir trees. On our return
journey, under a sky patched with faded rose and with the snows
glowing in the sunset like metal in a furnace, I come across a few
wild jasmines with delighted surprise. They are large exquisitely per-
fumed flowers, as white as snow, and remind me of a certain Gwalior
garden where my host had helped Nature to provide me with some
remembered moments. .
My companion hints at the high inspiration which he finds here.
Almost all Hindus turn with devout awe to "the mighty Himalchan",
as their books call it, as the last abode in our benighted era of real
In the evening, under the pale glow of a kerosene lantern, I join
him and the teacher at evening worship. After they have chanted
their hymns, they remain bowed to earth in reverent prayer. When
it comes to an end, the dinner is produced. Everything is laid out on
a huge brass dish, so that all courses from first to last appear simul-
taneously before my gaze.
I am surprised at the comparatively varied and excellent assort-
ment of food which is offered. All the little titbits which Indians are
so fond of are there—from chapatis (bannocks) to rasigullas (treacle
cakes). The &iru has several coolies and a couple of servants and is
evidently well-to-do, as pilgrims go.