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[REPRINTED 1908.] 

(f- MAY 2'*J.9/7. \ 


**You must remember," said Mme. Blavatsky, **that 
I never meant this for a scientific work. My letters 
to the Russian Messe7zger^ under the general title: 
'From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan,' were 
written in leisure moments, more for amusement than 
with any serious design. 

"Broadly speaking, the facts and incidents are true; 
but I have freely availed myself of an author's privi- 
lege to group, cplour, and dramatize them, whenever 
this seemed necessary to the full artistic effect; 
though, as I say, much of the book is exactly true, 
I would rather claim kindly judgment for it, as a 
romance of travel, than incur the critical risks that 
haunt an avowedly serious work." 

To i\\s caution of the author's, the translator must 
add another; these letters, as Mme. Blavatsky says, 
were written in leisure m6men Ls-, during 1879 and 
1880, for the pages of the Russki Vyestnik^ then edited 
by M. Katkoff. Mme. Blavatsky's manuscript was 
often incorrect; often obscure. The Russian com- 
positors, though they did their best to render faith- 
fully the Indian names and places, often produced, 
through their ignorance of Oriental tongues, forms 
which are strange, and sometimes unrecognizable. 

iv translator's preface. 

The proof-sheets were never corrected by the author, 
who was then in India; and, in consequence, it has 
been impossible to restore all the local and personal 
names to their proper form, 

A similar difficulty has arisen with reference to 
quotations and cited authorities, all of which have 
gone through a double process of refraction : first into 
Russian, then into English. The translator, also a 
Russian, and far from perfectly acquainted with 
English, cannot claim to possess the erudition neces- 
sary to verify and restore the many quotations to 
verbal accuracy; all that is hoped is that, by a careful 
rendering, the correct sense has been preserved. 

.The translator begs the indulgence of English 
readers for all imperfections of style and language; 
in the words of the Sanskrit proverb: "Who is to 
be blamed, if success be not reached ^fter due effort?" 
The translator's best thanks are due to Mr. John C. 
Staples, for valuable help in the early chapters. 

London, Jtdyy iSqs. 



In Bombay . ..... 3 

On thk Way to Kari.i 

. 43 

In the Karu Caves 

. 66 

Vanished Gi^ories . 

-^ 105 

A City of the Dead 

. 125 

Brahmanic Hospitauties 


. 140 

A Witch's Den 

. 176 

God's Warrior 

. 196 

The Banns of Marriage 

. 215 

The Caves of Bagh. 

. 234 

An IS1.E OF Mystery 

• 259 


. ;. 276 




Late in the evening of the sixteenth of Febmarj^ 
1879, after a rough voyage which lasted thirty-two days, 
joyful exclamations were heard everywhere on deck. 
"Have you seen the lighthouse?" ** There it is at last, 
the Bombay lighthouse." 

Cards, books, music, everything was forgotten. Every- 
one rushed on deck. The moon had not risen ^s y€t, 
and, in spite of the starry tropical sky, it was quite dark. 
The stars were so bright that, at first,* it seemed hardly 
possible to distinguish, far away amongst them, a small 
fiery point lit by earthly hands. The stars winked at us 
like so man}^ huge eyes in the black sky, on one side of 
which shone the Southern Cross. At last we distin- 
guished the lighthouse on the distant horizon. It was 
nothing but a tiny fiery point diving in the phosphor- 
escent waves. The tired travellers greeted it warmly. 
The rejoicing was general. 

What a glorious daybreal^ followed this dark night! 
The sea no longer tossed our ship. Under the skilled 
guidance of the pilot, who had just arrived, and whose 
bronze form was so sharply defined against the pale sky, 
our steamer, breathing heavily with its broken machinery, 
slipped over the quiet, transparent waters of the Indian 
Ocean straight to the harbour. We were only four miles 
from Bombay, and, to us, who had trembled with cold 


only a few weel^s ago in the Bay of Biscay, which has 
been so glorified by many poets and so heartily cursed 
by all sailors, our surroundings simply seemed a magical 

After the tropical nights of the Red Sea and the 
scorching hot days that had tortured us since Aden, we, 
people of the distant North, now experienced something 
strange and unwonted, as if the very fresh soft air had 
cast its spell over us. There was not a cloud in the sky, 
thickly strewn with dying stars. Even the moonlight, 
which till then had covered the sky with its silvery garb, 
was gradually vanishing; and the brighter grew the 
rosiness of dawn over the small island that lay before 
us in the East, the paler in the West grew the scattered 
rays of the moon that sprinkled with bright flakes of 
light the dark wake our ship left behind her, as if the 
glory of the West was bidding good-bye to us, while the 
light of the East welcomed the new-comers from far-oif 
lands. Brighter and bluer grew the skj'', swiftly absorb- 
ing the remaining pale stars one after the other, and we 
felt something touching in the sweet dignity with which 
the Queen of Night resigned her rights to the powerful 
usurper. At last, descending lower and lower, she dis- 
appeared completely. 

And suddenly, almost without interval between dark- 
ness and light, the red-hot globe, emerging on the oppo- 
site side from under the cape, leant his golden chin on 
the lower rocks of the island and seemed to stop for 
a while, as if examining us. Then, with one powerful 
effort, the torch of day rose high over the sea and glori- 
ously proceeded on its path, including in one mighty 
fiery embrace the blue waters of the bay, the shore and 
the islands with their rocks and cocoanut forests. His 
golden rays fell upon a crowd of Parsees, his rightful 


worshippers, who stood on shore raising their arms 
towards the mighty "Eye of Ormuzd." The sight was 
so impressive that everyone on deck became silent for 
a moment, even a red-nosed old sailor, who was busy 
quite close to us over the cable, stopped working, and, 
clearing his throat, nodded at the sun. 

Moving slowly and cautiously along the charming but 
treacherous bay, we had plenty of time to admire the 
picture around us. On the right was a group of islands 
with Gharipuri or Elephanta, with its ancient temple, at 
their head. Gharipuri translated means "the town of 
caves" according to the Orientalists, and "the town of 
purification" according to the native Sanskrit scholars. 
This temple, cut out by an unknown hand in the very 
heart of a rock resembling porphyry, is a true apple of 
discord amongst the archaeologists, of whom none can 
as yet fix, even approximately, its antiquity. Elephanta 
raises high its rocky brow, all overgrown with secular 
cactus, and right ^nder it, at the foot of the rock, are 
hollowed out the chief temple and the two lateral ones, 
lyike the serpent of our Russian fairy tales, it seems to 
be opening its fierce black mouth to swallow the daring 
mortal who comes to take possession of the secret mys- 
tery of Titan. Its two remaining teeth, dark with time, 
are formgd by two huge pillars at the entrance, sustain- 
ing the palate of the monster. 

How many generations of JEindus; how many races, 
have knelt in the dust before the Trimurti, your three- 
fold deity, O Elephanta? How many centuries were 
spent by weak man in digging out in your stone bosom 
this town of temples and carving your gigantic idols? 
Who can say? Many years have elapsed since I saw 
you last, ancient, mysterious temple, and still the same 
restless thoughts, the same recurrent questions vex me 


now as they did *then, and still remain unanswered. In 
a few days we shall see each other again. Once more I 
shall gaze upon your stern image, upon j^our three huge 
granite faces, and shall feel as hopeless as ever of pierc- 
ing the mystery of your being. This secret fell into 
safe hands three centuries before ours. It is not in vain 
that the old Portuguese historian Don Diego de Cuta 
boasts that "the big square stone fastened over the arch 
of the pagoda with a distinct inscription, having been 
torn out and sent as a present to the King Dom Juan 
III., disappeared mysteriously in the course of time 
. . . ," and adds, further, "Close to this big pagoda 
there stood another, and farther on even a third one, the 
most wonderful of all in beauty, incredible size, and 
richness of material. All those pagodas and caves have 
been built by the Kings of Kanada, (?) the most impor- 
tant of whom was Bonazur, and these buildings of Satan 
our (Portuguese) soldiers attacked with such vehemence 
that in a few years one stone was not feft upon another. 
. . . ." And, worst of all, they left no inscriptions 
that might have given a clue to so much. Thanks to 
the fanaticism of Portuguese soldiers, the chronology of 
the Indian cave temples must remain for ever an enigma 
to the archaeological world, beginning with the Brah- 
mans, -who say Elephanta is 374,000 years eld, and 
ending with Fergusson, who tries to prove that it was 
carved only in the* twelfth centur>^ of our era. When- 
ever one turns one's eyes to history, there is nothing to 
be found but hj^potheses and darkness. And y^t Ghari- 
puri is mentioned in the epic Mahdbhdrata, which was 
written, according to Colebrooke and Wilson, a good 
while before the reign of Cyrus. In another ancient 
legend it is said that the temple of Trimurti was built on 
Elephanta by the sons of Pandu, who took part in the 


war between the dynasties of the Sun^ and the Moon, 
and, belonging to the latter, were expelled at the end of 
the war. The Rajputs, who are the descendants of the 
first, still sing of this victory; but even in their popular 
songs there is nothing positive. Centuries have passed 
and will pass, and the ancient secret will die in the 
rocky bosom of the cave still unrecorded. 

On the left side of the bay, exactly opposite Elephanta, 
and as if in contrast with all its antiquity and greatness, 
spreads the Malabar Hill, the residence of the modern 
Europeans and rich natives. Their brightly painted 
bungalows are bathed in the greenery of banyan, Indian 
fig, and various other trees, and the tall and straight 
trunks of cocoanut palms cover with the fringe of their 
leaves the whole ridge of the hilly headland. There^on 
the south-western end of the rock, you see the almost 
transparent, lace-like Government House surrounded on 
three sides by the ocean. This is the coolest and the 
most comfortable part of Bombay, fanned by three 
different sea breezes. 

The island of Bombay, designated by the natives 
**Mambai," received its name from the goddess Mamba, 
in Mahrati Mahima, or Amba, Mama, and Amma, accord- 
ing to the dialect, a word meaning, literally, the Great 
Mothei*. Hardly one hundred years ago, on the site of 
the modern esplanade, there stood a temple consecrated 
to Mamba-Devi. With great difficulty and expense they 
carried it nearer to the shore, close to the fort, and 
erected it in front of Baleshwara the **IyOrd of the Inno- 
cent" — one of the names of the god Shiva. Bombay is 
part of a considerable group of islands, the most remark- 
able of which are Salsetta, joined to Bombay by a mole, 
Elephanta, so named by the Portuguese because of a 
huge rock cut in the shape of an elephant thirty-five feet 


long, and Tromoay, whose lovely rock rises nine hun- 
dred feet above the surface of the sea. Bombay looks, 
on the maps, like an enormous cray-fish, and is at the 
head of the rest of the islands. Spreading far out into 
the sea its two claws, Bombay island stands like a sleep- 
less guardian watching over his younger brothers. Be- 
tween it and the Continent there is a narrow arm of a 
river, which gets gradually broader and then again nar- 
rower, deeply indenting the sides of both shores, and so 
forming a haven that has no equal in the world. It was 
not without reason that the Portuguese, expelled in the 
course of time by the English, used to call it "Buona 

In a fit of tourist exaltation some travellers have com- 
pared^ it to the Bay of Naples; but, as a matter of fact, 
the one is as much like the other as a lazzaroni is like a 
Kuli. The whole resemblance between the former con- 
sists in the fact that there is water in both. In Bombay, 
as well as in its harbour, everything is original and does 
not in the least remind one of Southern Europe. Look 
at those coasting vessels and native boats; both are 
built in the likeness of the sea bird "sat," a kind of 
kingfisher. When in motion these boats are the personi- 
fication of grace, with their longs prows and rounded 
poops. They look as if they were gliding bacfkwards, 
and one might mistake for wings the strangely shaped, 
long lateen sails, tKeir narrow angles fastened upwards 
to a yard. Filling these two wings with the wind, and 
careening, so as almost to touch the surface of the water, 
these boats will fly along with astonishing swiftness. 
Unlike our European boats, they do not cut the waves, 
but glide over them like a sea-gull. 

The surroundings of the bay transported us to some 
fairy land of the Arabian Nights. The ridge of the 


Western Ghats, cut through here and there by some 
separate hills almost as high as themselves, stretched all 
along the Eastern shore. From the base to their fan- 
tastic, rocky tops, they are all overgrown with impene- 
trable forests and jungles inhabited by wild animals. 
Every rock has been enriched by the popular imagina- 
tion with an independent legend. All over the slope of 
the mountain are scattered the pagodas, mosques, and 
temples of numberless sects. Here and there the hot 
rays of the sun strike upon an old fortress, once dreadful 
and inaccessible, now half ruined and covered with 
prickly cactus. At every step some memorial of sanc- 
tity. Here a deep mhara, a cave cell of a Buddhist 
bhikshu saint, there a rock protected by the symbol of 
Shiva, further on a Jaina temple, or a holy tank,, all 
covered with sedge and filled with water, once blessed 
by a Brahman and able to purify every sin, an indispens- 
able attribute of all pagodas. All the surroundings are 
covered wdth symbols of gods and goddesses. Each of 
the three hundred and thirty millions of deities of the 
Hindu Pantheon has its representative in something 
consecrated to it, a stone, a flower, a tree, or a bird. On 
the West side of the Malabar Hill peeps through the 
trees Valakeshvara, the temple of the **Iyord of Sand." 
A lon^ stream of Hindus moves towards this celebrated 
temple; men and women, §hining with rings On their 
fingers and toes, with bracelets from their wrists up to 
their elbows, clad in bright turbans and snow w^hite 
muslins, with foreheads freshly painted with red, yellow, 
and white, holy sectarian signs. 

The legend saj-s that Rama spent here a night on his 
way from Ayodhya (Oudh) to Lanka (Ceylon) to fetch 
his wife Sita who had been stolen by the wicked King 
Ravana. Rama's brother Lakshman, whose duty it was 



to send him daily a new lingam from Benares, was late 
in doing so one evening. Losing patience, Rama erected 
for himself a lingam of sand. When, at last, the symbol 
arrived from Benares, it was put in a temple, and the 
lingam erected by Rama was left on the shore. There it 
stayed during long centuries, but, at the arrival of the 
Portuguese, the **Lord of Sand" felt so disgusted with 
the feringhi (foreigners) that he jumped into the sea 
never to return. A little farther on there is a charming 
tank, called Vanattirtha, or the "point of the arrow." 
Here Rama, the much worshipped hero of the Hindus, 
felt thirsty and, not finding any water, shot an arrow 
and immediately there was created a pond. Its crystal 
waters were surrounded by a high wall, steps were built 
leading down to it, and a circle of white marble dwel- 
lings was filled with dwija (twice born) Brahmans. 

India is the land of legends and of mysterious nooks 
and corners. There is not a ruin, not a monument, not 
a thicket, that has no story attached to it. Yet, however 
they may be entangled in the cobweb of popular imagina- 
tion, which becomes thicker with every generation, it is 
difficult to point out a single one that is not founded on 
fact. With patience and, still more, with the help of the 
learned Brahmans you can always get at the truth, when 
once you have secured their trust and friendship. 

The same road leads to the temple of the Parsee fire- 
worshippers. At its altar burns an unquenchable fire, 
which daily consumes hundredweights of sandal wood 
and aromatic herbs. Lit three hundred years ago, the 
sacred fire has never been extinguished, notwithstanding 
many disorders, sectarian discords, and even wars. The 
Parsees are very proud of this temple of Zaratushta, as 
they call Zoroaster. Compared with it the Hindu pago- 
das look like brightly painted Easter eggs. Generally 


they are consecrated to Hanuman, the monkey-god and 
the faithful ally of Rama, or to the elephant headed 
Ganesha, the god of the occult wisdom, or to one of the 
Devis. You meet with these temples in every street. 
Before each there is a row of pipals {Ficus religiosa) 
centuries old, which no temple can dispense with, be- 
cause these trees are the abode of the elementals and 
the sinful souls. 

All this is entangled, mixed, and scattered, appearing 
to one's eyes like a picture in a dream. Thirty centuries 
have left their traces here. The innate laziness and the 
strong conservative tendencies of the Hindus, even be- 
fore the European invasion, preserved all kinds of monu- 
ments from the ruinous vengeance of the fanatics, 
whether those memorials were Buddhist, or belonged 
to some other unpopular sect. The Hindus are not 
naturally given to senseless vandalism, and a phrenolo- 
gist would vainly^ look for a bump of destructiveness on 
their skulls. If you meet with antiquities that, having 
been spared by time, are, nowadays, either destroyed or 
disfigured, it is not they who are to blame, but either 
Mussulmans, or the Portuguese under the guidance of 
the Jesuits. 

At last we were anchored and, in a moment, were 
besieged, ourselves as well as our luggage, by numbers 
of naked skeleton-like Hindus, Parsees, Moguls, and 
various other tribes. All this crowd emerged, as if from 
the bottom of the sea, and began to shout, to chatter, 
and to yell, as only the tribes of Asia can. To get rid of 
this Babel confusion of tongues as soon as possible, we 
took refuge in the first bunder boat and made for the 

Once settled in the bungalow awaiting us, the first 
thing we were struck with in Bombay was the millions 


of crows and vultures. The first are, so to speak, the 
County Council of the town, whose duty it is to clean 
the streets, and to kill one of them is not only forbidden 
by the police, but would be very dangerous. By killing 
one you would rouse the vengeance of every Hindu, who 
is always ready to offer his own life in exchange for a 
crow's. The souls of the sinful forefathers transmigrate 
into crows and to kill one is to interfere with the law of 
Karma and to expose the poor ancestor to something 
still worse. Such is the firm belief, not only of Hindus, 
but of Parsees, even the most enlightened amongst them. 
The strange behaviour of the Indian crows explains, to 
a certain extent, this superstition. The vultures are, in 
a way, the grave-diggers of the Parsees and are under 
th^ personal protection of the Farvardania, the angel of 
death, who soars over the Tower of Silence, watching 
the occupations of the feathered workmen. 

The deafening caw of the crows strikes every new 
comer as uncanny, but, after a while, is explained very 
simply. Every tree of the numerous cocoa-nut forests 
round Bombay is provided with a hollow pumpkin. The 
sap of the tree drops into it and, after fermenting, 
becomes a most intoxicating beverage, known in Bom- 
bay under the name of toddy. The naked toddy wallahs, 
generally half-caste Portuguese, modestly adoriied with 
a single coral necklace, fet(;;h this beverage twice a day, 
climbing the hundred and fifty feet high trunks like 
squirrels. The crows mostly build their nests on the 
tops of the cocoa-nut palms and drink incessantly out of 
the open pumpkins. The result of this is the chronic 
intoxication of the birds. As soon as we went out in the 
garden of our new habitation, flocks of crows came down 
heavily from every tree. The noise they make whilst 
jumping about everywhere is indescribable. There 


seemed to be something positively human in the posi- 
tions of the slyly bent heads of the drunken birds, and 
a fiendish light shone in their eyes while they were 
examining us from foot to head. 

We occupied three small bungalows, lost, like nests, 
in the garden, their roofs literally smothered in roses 
blossoming on bushes twenty feet high, and their 
windows covered only with muslin, instead of the usual 
panes of glass. The bungalows were situated in the 
native part of the town, so that we were transported, all 
at once, into the real India. We were living in India, 
unlike English people, who are only surrounded by 
India at a certain distance. We were enabled to study 
her character and customs, her religion, superstitions 
and rites, to learn her legends, in fact, to live among 

Everything in * India, this land of the elephant and 
the poisonous cobra, of the tiger and the unsuccessful 
English missionary, is original and strange. Every- 
thing seems unusual, unexpected, and striking, even to 
one who has travelled in Turkey, Egypt, Damascus, and 
Palestine. In these tropical regions the conditions of 
nature *are so various that all the forms of the animal 
and vegetable kingdoms must radically differ from what 
we are used to in Europe. I,ook, for instance, at those 
women on their way to a well through a garden, which 
is private and at the same time open to anyone, because 
somebody's cows are grazing in it. To whom does it 
not happen to meet with women, to see cows, and admire 
a garden? Doubtless these are among the commonest 
of all things. But a single attentive glance will suffice 
to show you the difference that exists between the same 


objects in Europe and in India. Nowhere more than in 
India does a human being feel his weakness and insig- 
nificance. The majesty of the tropical growth is such 
that our highest trees would look dwarfed compared 
with banyans and especially with palms. A European 
cow, mistaking, at first sight, her Indian sister for a calf, 
would deny the existence of any kinship between them, 
as neither the mouse-coloured wool, nor the straight 
goat-like horns, nor the humped back of the latter 
would permit her to make such an error. As to the 
women, each of them would make any artist feel enthu- 
siastic about the gracefulness of her movements and 
drapery, but still, no pink and white, stout Anna 
Ivanovna would condescend to greet her. "Such a 
sl^ame, God forgive me, the woman is entirely naked ! " 
This opinion of the modern Russian woman is nothing 
but the echo of what was said in 1470 by a distinguished 
Russian traveller, "the sinful slave of God, Athanasius 
son of Nikita from Tver," as he styles himself. He de- 
scribes India as follows: "This is the land of India. Its 
people are naked, never cover their heads, and wear 
their hair braided. Women have babies every year. 
Men and women are black. Their prince wears a veil 
round his head and wraps another veil round his legs. 
The noblemen wear a veil on one shoulder, knd the 
noblewomen on the shoulders and round the loins, but 
everyone is barefooted. The women w^alk about with 
their hair spread and their breasts naked. The children, 
boys and girls, never cover their shame until they are 
seven years old. . . ." This description is quite 
correct, but Athanasius Nikita's son is right only con- 
cerning the lowest and poorest classes. These really do 
"walk about" covered only with a veil, which often is so 
poor that, in fact, it is nothing but a rag. But still, even 


the poorest woman is clad in a piece of 'muslin at least 
ten yards long. One end serves as a sort of short petti- 
coat, and the other covers the head and shoulders when 
out in the street, though the faces are always uncovered. 
The hair is erected into a kind of Greek chignon. The 
legs up to the knees, the arms, and the waist are never 
covered. There is not a single respectable woman who 
would consent to put on a pair of shoes. Shoes are the 
attribute and the prerogative of disreputable women. 
When, some time ago, the wife of the Madras governor 
thought of passing a law that should induce native 
women to cover their breasts, the place was actually 
threatened with a revohition. A kind of jacket is worn 
only by dancing girls. The Government recognized 
that it would be unreasonable to irritate women, who, 
very often, are more dangerous than their husbands' and 
brothers, and the custom, based on the law of Manu, and 
sanctified by three thousand years* observance, remained 
unchanged. « 

For more than two years before we left America we 
were in constant correspondence with a certain learned 
Brahman, whose glory is great at present (1879) all over 
India. We came to India to study, under his guidance, 
the ancient country of Aryas, the Vedas, and their diffi- 
cult language. His name is Dayanand Saraswati Swami. 
Swami is the name of the learned anchorites who are 
initiated into many mysteries unattainable by common 
mortals. They are monks who never marr>% but are 
quite different from other mendicant brotherhoods, the 
so-called Sannyasi and Hossein. This Pandit is con- 
sidered the greatest Sanskritist of modern India and is 
an absolute enigma to everyone. It is only five years 
since he appeared on the arena of great reforms, but. 


till then, he liv^d, entirely secluded, in a jungle, like the 
ancient gymnosophists mentioned by the Greek and 
Latin authors. At this time he was studying the chief 
philosophical systems of the "Aryavartta" and the oc- 
cult meaning of the Vedas with the help of mystics and 
anchorites. All Hindus believe that on the Bhadrinath 
Mountains (22,000 feet above the level of the sea) there 
exist spacious caves, inhabited, now for many thousand 
years, by these anchorites. Bhadrinath is situated in 
the north of Hindustan on the river Bishegunj, and is 
celebrated for its temple of Vishnu right in the heart of 
the town. Inside the temple there are hot mineral 
springs, visited yearly by about fifty thousand pilgrims, 
who come to be purified by them. 

From the first day of his appearance Dayanand Saras- 
wati "produced an immense impression and got the sur- 
name of the "Luther of India." Wandering from one 
town to another, to-day in the South, to-morrow in the 
North, and transporting himself from one end of the 
country to another with incredible quickness, he has 
visited every part of India, from Cape Comorin to the 
Himalayas, and from Calcutta to Bombay. He preaches 
the One Deity and, " Vedas in hand," proves that in the 
ancient writings there was not a word that could justify 
polytheism. Thundering against idol worship, the great 
orator fights with all his might against caste, infant 
marriages, and superstitions. Chastising all the evils 
grafted on India by centuries of casuistry and false in- 
terpretation of the Vedas, he blames for them the Brah- 
mans, who, as he openly says before masses of people, 
are alone guilty of the humiliation of their country, once 
great and independent, now fallen and enslaved. And 
yet Great Britain has in him not an enemy, but rather 
an ally. He says openly — "If you expel the English, 


then, no later than to-morrow, you and I and everyone 
who rises against idol worship will have our throats cut 
like mere sheep. The Mussulmans are stronger than the 
idol worshippers ; but these last are stronger than we." 

The Pandit held many a warm dispute with the Brah- 
mans, those treacherous enemies of the people, and has 
almost always been victorious. In Benares secret 
assassins were hired to slay him, but the attempt did 
not succeed. In a small town of Bengal, where he 
treated fetishism with more than his usual severity, 
some fanatic threw on his naked feet a huge cobra. 
There are two snakes deified by the Brahman mytho- 
logy: the one which surrounds the neck of Shiva on his 
idols is called Vasuki; the other, Ananta, forms the 
couch of Vishnu. So the worshipper of Shiva, feeling 
sure that his cobra, trained purposely for the myste^s 
of a Shivaite pagoda, would at once make an end of the 
offender's life, triumphantly exclaimed, "I^t the god 
Vasuki himself show which of us is right!" 

Dayanand jerked off the cobra twirling round his leg, 
and, with a single vigorous movement, crushed the rep- 
tile's head. 

"Let him do so," he quietly assented. "Your god has 
been too slow. It is I who have decided the dispute. 
Now go," added he, addressing the crowd, "and tell 
everyone 'how easily perish the false gods." 

Thanks to his excellent knowledge of Sanskrit the 
Pandit does a great service, not only to the masses, 
clearing their ignorance about the monotheism of the 
Vedas, but to science too, showing who, exactly, are the 
Brahmans, the only caste in India which, during cen- 
turies, had the right to study Sanskrit literature and 
comment on the Vedas, and which used this right solely 
for its own advantage. 


Long beforefcthe time of such Orientalists as Burnouf, 
Colebrooke and Max Miiller, there have been in India 
many reformers who tried to prove the pure monotheism 
of the Vedic doctrines. There have even been founders 
of new religions who denied the revelations of these 
scriptures; for instance, the Raja Ram Mohun Roj% 
and, after him, Babu Keshub Chunder Sen, both Calcutta 
Bengalees. But neither of them had much success. 
They did nothing but add new denominations to the 
numberless sects existing in India. Ram Mohun Roy 
died in England, having done next to nothing, and 
Keshub Chunder Sen, having founded the community of 
"Brahmo-Samaj," which professes a religion extracted 
from the depths of the Babu's own imagination, became 
a mystic of the most pronounced type, and now is only 
"ij^berry from the same field," as we say in Russia, as 
the Spiritualists, by whom he is considered to be a 
medium and a Calcutta Swedenborg. He spends his 
time in a dirty tank, singing praises to Chaitanya, 
Koran, Buddha, and his own person, proclaiming him- 
self their prophet, and performs a mystical dance, 
dressed in woman's attire, which, on his part, is an at- 
tention to a "woman goddess" whom the Babu calls his 
"mother, father and eldest brother." 

In short, all the attempts to re-establish the pure 
primitive monotheism of Aryan India have been a 
failure. They always got 'wrecked upon the double rock 
of Brahmanism and of prejudices centuries old. But lo! 
here appears unexpectedly the pandit Dayanand. None, 
even of the most beloved of his disciples, knows who he 
is and whence he comes. He openly confesses before 
the crowds that the name under which he is known is 
not his, but was given to him at the Yogi initiation. 

The m5'stical school of Yogis was established by 


Patanjali, the founder of one of the six philosopliical 
systems of ancient India. It is supposed that the Neo- 
platonists of the second and third Alexandrian Schools 
were the followers of Indian Yogis, more especially 
was their theurgy brought from India by Pythagoras, 
according to the tradition. There still exist in India 
hundreds of Yogis who follow the system of Patanjali, 
and assert that they are in communion with Brahma. 
Nevertheless, most of them are do-nothings, mendicants 
by profession, and great frauds, thanks to the insatiable 
longing of the natives for miracles. The real Yogis 
avoid appearing in public, and spend their lives in se- 
cluded retirement and studies, except when, as in Daya- 
nand's case, they come forth in time of need to aid their 
country. However, it is perfectly certain that Injiia 
never saw a more learned Sanskrit scholar, a deeper 
metaphysician, a more wonderful orator, and a more 
fearless denunciator of every evil, than Dayanand, since 
the time of Sanklfaracharya, the celebrated founder of 
the Vedanta philosophy, the most metaphysical of Indian 
systems, in fact, the crown of pantheistic teaching. Then, 
Dayanand's personal appearance is striking. He is im- 
mensely tall, his complexion is pale, rather European 
than Indian, his eyes are large and bright, and his greyish 
hair is loag. The Yogis and Dikshatas (initiated), never 
cut either their hair or beard* His voice is clear and 
loud, well calculated to give expression to every shade 
of deep feeling, ranging from a sweet childish caressing 
whisper to thundering wrath against the evil doings and 
falsehoods of the priests. All this taken together pro- 
duces an indescribable effect on the impressionable 
Hindu. Wherever Dayanand appears crowds prostrate 
themselves in the dust over his footprints; but, unlike 
Babu Keshub Chunder Sen, he does not teach them a 



new religion, does not invent new dogmas. He only 
asks them to renew their half-forgotten Sanskrit studies, 
and, having compared the doctrines of their forefathers 
with what they have become in the hands of Brahmans, 
to return to the pure conceptions of Deity taught by the 
primitive Rishis — Agni, Vayu, Aditya, and Anghira — 
the patriarchs who first gave the Vedas to humanity. 
He does not even claim that the Vedas are a heavenly 
revelation, but simply teaches that "every word in these 
scriptures belongs to the highest inspiration possible to 
the earthly man, an inspiration that is repeated in the 
history of humanity, and, when necessary, may happen 
to any nation. . . ." 

During his five years of work Swami Dayanand made 
al^ut two million proselytes, chiefly amongst the higher 
castes. Judging by appearances, they are all ready to 
sacrifice to him their lives and souls and even their 
earthly possessions, which are often more precious to 
them than their lives. But Dayanand is a real Yogi, he 
never touches money, and despises pecuniary affairs. 
He contents himself with a few handfuls of rice per day. 
One is inclined to think that this w^onderful Hindu bears 
a charmed life, so careless is he of rousing the worst 
human passions, which are so dangerous in India. A 
marblf^ statue could not be less moved by the raging 
wrath of the crowd. Wq saw him once at work. He 
sent away all hiS faithful followers and forbade them 
either to watch over him or to defend him, and stood 
alone before the infuriated crowd, facing calmly the 
monster ready to spring upon him and tear him to 

Here a short explanation is necessary. A few years 
ago a society of well-informed, energetic people was 



formed in New York. A certain sharp-witted savant 
surnamed them ''La Societe des Malcontents du Spirit- 
isme."" The founders of this club were people who, 
believing in the phenomena of spiritualism as much as 
in the possibility of every other phenomenon in Nature, 
still denied the theory of the "spirits." They con- 
sidered that the modern psychology was a science still 
in the first stages of its development, in total ignor- 
ance of the nature of the psychic man, and denying, as 
do many other sciences, all that cannot be explained 
according to its own particular theories. 

From the first days of its existence some of the most 
learned Americans joined the Society, which became 
known as the Theosophical Society. Its members dif- 
fered on many points, much as do the members of any 
other Society, Geographical or Archaeological, which 
fights for years over the sources of the Nile, or the 
Hieroglyphs of Egypt. But everyone is unanimously 
agreed that, as long as there is water in the Nile, its 
sources must exist somewhere. So much about the 
phenomena of spiritualism and mesmerism. These 
phenomena were still waiting their Champollion — but 
the Rosetta stone was to be searched for neither in 
Europe nor in America, but in the far-away countries 
where they still believe in magic, where wondcx^s are 
performed daily by the native priesthood, and where the 
cold materialism of science has never yet reached — in 
one word, in the East. 

The Council of the Society knew that the Lama- 
Buddhists, for instance, though not believing in God, 
and denying the personal immortality of the soul, are 
yet celebrated for their "phenomena," and that mes- 
merism was known and daily practised in China from 
time immemorial under the name of "gina." In India 


they fear and hate the very name of the spirits whom 
the Spiritualists venerate so deeply, yet many an ignor- 
ant fakir can perform "miracles" calculated to turn 
upside-down all the notions of a scientist and to be the 
despair of the most celebrated of European prestidigita- 
teurs. Many members of the Society have visited India 
— many were born there and have themselves witnessed 
the "sorceries" of the Brahmans. The founders of the 
Club, well aware of the depth of modern ignorance in 
regard to the spiritual man, were most anxious that 
Cuvier's method of comparative anatomy should acquire 
rights of citizenship among metaphysicians, and, so, 
progress from regions physical to regions psychological 
on its own inductive and deductive foundation. "Other- 
wise," they thought, "psychology will be unable to move 
forward a single step, and may even obstruct everj^ other 
branch of Natural History." Instances have not been 
wanting of physiology poaching on the preserves of 
purely metaphysical and abstract knowledge, all the 
time feigning to ignore the latter absolutely, and seeking 
to class psychology with the positive sciences, having 
first bound it to a Bed of Procrustes, where it refuses to 
yield its secret to its clumsy tormentors. 

In a short time the Theosophical Society counted its 
mem-bers, not by hundreds, but by thousands'. All the 
"malcontents" of American Spiritualism — and there 
were at that time twelve million Spiritualists in America 
— joined the Society. Collateral branches were formed 
in London, Corfu, Australia, Spain, Cuba, California, 
etc. Everywhere experiments were being performed, 
and the conviction that it is not spirits alone who are 
the causes of the phenomena was becoming general. 

In course of time branches of the Society were formed 
in India and in Ceylon. The Buddhist and Brahmanical 


members became more numerous than the Europeans. 
A league was formed, and to the name of the Society was 
added the sub-title, *'The Brotherhood of Humanity." 
After an active correspondence between the Arya-Samaj, 
founded by Swami Dayanand, and the Theosophical 
Society, an amalgamation was arranged between the 
two bodies. Then the Chief Council of the New York 
branch decided upon sending a special delegation to 
India,, for the purpose of studying, on the spot, the 
ancient language of the Vedas and the manuscripts and 
the wonders of Yogism. On the 17th of December, 1878, 
the delegation, composed of two secretaries and two 
members of the council of the Theosophical Society, 
started from New York, to pause for a while in I^ondon, 
and then to proceed to Bombay, where it landed in 
February, 1879. 

It may easily be conceived that, under these circum- 
stances, the members of the delegation were better able 
to study the coun^^ and to make fruitful researches 
than might, otherwise, have been the case. To-day they 
are looked upon as brothers and aided by the most in- 
fluential natives of India. They count among the mem- 
bers of their society pandits of Benares and Calcutta, and 
Buddhist priests of the Ceylon Viharas — amongst others 
the learned Sumangala, mentioned by Minayeff in the 
description of his visit to Adf\m's Peak — and llamas of 
Thibet, Burmah, Travancore and elsewhere. The mem- 
bers of the delegation are admitted to sanctuaries where, 
as yet, no European has set his foot. Consequently they 
may hope to render many services to Humanity and 
Science, in spite of the ill-will which the representatives 
of positive science bear to them. 

As soon as the delegation landed, a telegram was des- 
patched to Dayanand, as everyone was anxious to make 


his personal acquaintance. In reply, he said that he was 
obliged to go immediately to Hardwar, where hundreds 
of thousands of pilgrims were expected to assemble, but 
he insisted on our remaining behind, since cholera was 
certain to break out among the devotees. He appointed 
a certain spot, at the foot of the Himalayas, in the Pun- 
jab, where we were to meet in a month's time. 

Alas! all this was written some time ago. Since then 
Swami Dayanand's countenance has changed completely 
toward us. He is, now, an enemy of the Theosophical 
Society and its two founders — Colonel Olcott and the 
author of these letters. It appeared that, on entering 
into an ofifensive and defensive alliance with the Society, 
Dayanand nourished the hope that all its members. 
Christians, Brahmans and Buddhists, would acknowledge 
his supremacy, and become members of the Ar>^a Samaj. 
Needless to say, this was impossible. The Theosophical 
Society rests on the principle of complete non-interfer- 
ence with the religious beliefs of its members. Toleration 
is its basis and its aims are purely philosophical. This 
did not suit Dayanand. He wanted all the members, 
either to become his disciples, or to be expelled from the 
Society. It was quite clear that neither the President, 
nor the Council could assent to such a claim. English- 
men and Americans, whether they were Christians or 
Freethinkers, Buddhists, and especially Brahmans, re- 
volted against Dayanand, and unanimously demanded 
that the league should be broken. 

However, all this happened later. At the time of 
which I speak we were friends and allies of the Swami, 
and we learned with deep interest that the Hardwar 
*' mela," which he was to visit, takes place every twelve 
years, and is a kind of religious fair, which attracts 
representatives from all the numerous sects of India. 


Learned dissertations are read by tho disputants in 
defence of their peculiar doctrines, and the debates are 
held in public. This year the Hardwar gathering was 
exceptionally numerous. The Sannyasis — the mendi- 
cant monks of India — alone numbered 35,000, and the 
cholera, foreseen by the Swami, actually broke out. 

As we were not yet to start for the appointed meeting, 
we had plenty of spare time before us ; so we proceeded 
to examine Bombay. 

The Tower of Silence, on the heights of the Malabar 
Hill, is the last abode of all the sons of Zoroaster. It is, 
in fact, a Parsee cemetery. Here their dead, rich and 
poor, men, women and children, are all laid in a row, 
and in a few minutes nothing remains of them but bare 
skeletons. A dismal impression is made upon a foreigner 
by these towers, where absolute silence has reigned for 
centuries. This kind of building is very common in 
every place were ,Parsees live and die. In Bombay, of 
six towers, the largest was built 250 years ago, and the 
least but a short time since. With few exceptions, they 
are round or square in shape, from twenty to forty feet 
high, without roof, window, or door, but with a single 
iron gate opening towards the East, and so small that 
it is quite covered by a few bushes. The first corpse 
brought to a new tower — "dakhma" — must be the body 
of the innocent child of a mo'bed or priest. No one, not 
even the chief watcher, is allowed to approach within a 
distance of thirty paces of these towers. Of all living 
human beings '* nassesalars " — corpse- carriers — alone 
enter and leave the "Tower of Silence." The life these 
men lead is simply wretched. No European execu- 
tioner's position is worse. They live quite apart from 
the rest of the world, in whose eyes they are the most 


abject of beings. Being forbidden to enter the markets, 
they must get their food as they can. They are born, 
marry, and die, perfect strangers to all except their own 
class, passing through the streets only to fetch the dead 
and carry them to the tower. Even to be near one of 
them is a degradation. Entering the tower with a corpse, 
covered, whatever may have been its rank or position, 
with old white rags, they undress it and place it, in 
silence, on one of the three rows presently to be described. 
Then, still preserving the same silence, they come out, 
shut the gate, and burn the rags. 

Amongst the fire-worshippers. Death is divested of all 
his majesty and is a mere object of disgust. As soon as 
the last hour of a sick person seems to approach, every- 
one leaves the chamber of death, as much to avoid im- 
peding the departure of the soul from the body, as to 
shun the risk of polluting the living by contact with the 
dead. The mobed alone stays with the dying man for 
a while, and having whispered into l^is ear the Zend- 
Avesta precepts, *'ashem-v6hu" and "Yato-Ahuvarie," 
leaves the room while the patient is still alive. Then a 
dog is brought and made to look straight into his face, 
This ceremony is called "sas-did," the "dog's-stare." 
A dog is the only living creature that the "Drux-nassu" 
— the evil one — fears, and that is able to prevent him 
from taking possession of the body. It must be strictly 
observed that no one's shadow lies between the dying 
man and the dog, otherwise the whole strength of the 
dog's gaze will be lost, and the demon will profit by the 
occasion. The body remains on the spot where life left 
it, until the nassesalars appear, their arms hidden to the 
shoulders under old bags, to take it away. Having de- 
posited it in an iron coffin — the same for everyone — they 
carry it to the dakhma. If any one, who has once been 


carried thither, should happen to regain consciousness, 
the nassesalars are bound to kill him ; for such a person, 
who has been polluted by one touch of the dead bodies 
in the dakhma, has thereby lost all right to return to the 
living, by doing so he would contaminate the whole 
community. As some such cases have occurred, the 
Parsees are trying to get a new law passed, that would 
allow the miserable ex-corpses to live again amongst their 
friends, and that would compel the nassesalars to leave 
the only gate of the dakhma unlocked, so that they 
might find a way of retreat open to them. It is very 
curious, but it is said that the vultures, which devour 
without hesitation the corpses, will never touch those 
who are only aipparently dead, but fly away uttering 
loud shrieks. After a last prayer at the gate of the 
dakhma, pronounced from afar by the mobed, and re- 
peated in chorus by the nassesalars, the dog ceremony 
is repeated. In Bombay there is a dog, trained for this 
purpose, at the entrance to the tower. Finally, the body 
is taken inside and placed on one or other of the rows, 
according to its sex and age. 

We have twice been present at the ceremonies of 
dying, and once of burial, if I may be permitted to use 
such an incongruous term. In this respect the Parsees 
are muc]! more tolerant than the Hindus, who are 
offended by the mere presenc^e at their religious rites of 
an European. N. Bayranji, a chief official of the tower, 
invited us to his house to be present at the burial of 
some rich woman. So we witnessed all that was going 
on at a distance of about forty paces, sitting quietly on 
our obliging host's verandah. While the dog was staring 
into the dead woman's face, we were gazing, as intently, 
but with much more disgust, at the huge flock of vul- 
tures above the dakhma, that kept entering the tower. 


and flying out again with pieces of human flesh in their 
beaks. These birds, that build their nests in thousands 
round the Tower of Silence, have been purposely im- 
ported from Persia. Indian vultures proved to be too 
weak, and not sufficiently bloodthirsty, to perform the 
process of stripping the bones with the despatch pre- 
scribed by Zoroaster. We were told that the entire 
operation of denuding the bones occupies no more than 
a few minutes. As soon as the ceremon}^ was over, we 
were led into another building, where a model of the 
dakhma was to be seen. We could now very easily 
imagine what was to take place presently inside the 
tower. In the centre there is a deep waterless well, 
covered with a grating like the opening into a drain. 
Around it are three broad circles, gradually sloping 
downwards. In each of them are coffin-like receptacles 
for the bodies. There are three hundred and sixty-five 
such places. The first and smallest row is destined for 
children, the second for w^omen, and cthe third for men. 
This threefold circle is symbolical of three cardinal 
Zoroastrian virtues — pure thoughts, kind words, and 
good actions. Thanks to the vultures, the bones are 
laid bare in less than an hour, and, in two or three 
weeks, the tropical sun scorches them into such a state 
of fragility, that the slightest breath of wind is enough 
to reduce them to powder and to carry them down into 
the pit. No smell is left behind, no source of plagues 
and epidemics. I do not know that this way may not 
be preferable to cremation, which leaves in the air about 
the Ghat a faint but disagreeable odour. The Ghat is a 
place by the sea, or river shore, where Hindus burn 
their dead. Instead of feeding the old Slavonic deity 
** Mother Wet Earth" with carrion, Parsees give to 
Armasti pure dust. Armasti means, literally, "foster- 


ing COW," and Zoroaster teaches that the cultivation of 
land is the noblest of all occupations in the eyes of 
God. Accordingly, the worship of Earth is so sacred 
among the Parsees, that they take all possible precau- 
tions against polluting the *' fostering cow" that gives 
them "a hundred golden grains for every single grain." 
In the season of the Monsoon, when, during four months, 
the rain pours incessantly down and washes into the 
well everything that is left by the vultures, the water 
absorbed by the earth is filtered, for the bottom of the 
well, the walls of which are built of granite, is, to this 
end, covered with sand and charcoal. 

The sight of the Pinjarapala is less lugubrious and much 
more amusing. The Pinjarapala is the Bombay Hospital 
for decrepit animals, but a similar institution exists in 
every town where Jainas dwell. Being one of the most 
ancient, this is also one of the most interesting, of the 
sects of India. It is much older than Buddhism, which 
took its rise abo^t 543 to 477 B.C. Jainas boast that 
Buddhism is nothing more than a mere heresy of Jain- 
ism, Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, having been a 
disciple and follower of one of the Jaina Gurus. The 
customs, rites, and philosophical conceptions of Jainas 
place them midway between the Brahmanists and the 
Buddhists. In view of their social arrangements, they 
more closely resemble the fprmer, but in their religion 
they incline towards the latter. Their caste divisions, 
their total abstinence from flesh, and their non-worship 
of the relics of the saints, are as strictly observed as the 
similar tenets of the Brahmans, but, like Buddhists, they 
deny the Hindu gods and the authority of the VedaSy 
and adore their own twenty-four Tirthankaras, or Jinas, 
who belong to the Host of the Blissful. Their priests, 
like the Buddhists', never marry, they live in isolated 


viharas and choose their successors from amongst the 
members of any social class. According to them, Prakrit 
is the only sacred language, and is used in their sacred 
literature, as well as in Ceylon. Jainas and Buddhists 
have the same traditional chronolog>^ They do not eat 
after sunset, and carefully dust any place before sitting 
down upon it, that they may not crush even the tiniest 
of insects. Both systems, or rather both schools of philo- 
sophy, teach the theory of eternal indestructible atoms, 
following the ancient atomistic school of Kanada. They 
assert that the universe never had a beginning and 
never will have an end. ''The world and everything in 
it is but an illusion, a Maya," say the Vedantists, the 
Buddhists, and the Jainas; but, whereas the followers 
of Sankaracharya preach Parabrahm (a deity devoid of 
will, understanding, and action, because ** It is absolute 
understanding, mind and will"), and Ishwara emanating 
from It, the Jainas and the Buddhists believe in no 
Creator of the Universe, but teach only the existence of 
Swabhawati, a plastic, infinite, self-created principle in 
Nature. Still they firmly believe, as do all Indian sects, 
in the transmigration of souls. Their fear, lest, by kill- 
ing an animal or an insect, they may, perchance, destroy 
the life of an ancestor, develops their love and care for 
every living creature to an almost incredible ^ extent. 
Not only is there a hospital,for invalid animals in every 
town and village, but their priests always wear a muslin 
muzzle, (I trust they will pardon the disrespectful ex- 
pression!) in order to avoid destroying even the smallest 
animalcule, by inadvertence in the act of breathing. 
The same fear impels them to drink only filtered water. 
There are a few millions of Jainas in Gujerat, Bombaj^ 
Konkan, and some other places. 
The Bombay Pinjarapala occupies a whole quarter of 


the town, and is separated into yards, meadows and 
gardens, with ponds, cages for beasts of prey, and en- 
clOvSures for tame animals. This institution would have 
served very well for a model of Noah's Ark. In the 
first yard, however, we saw no animals, but, instead, a 
few hundred human skeletons — old men, women and 
children. They were the remaining natives of the, so- 
called, famine districts, who had crowded into Bombay 
to beg their bread. Thus, while, a few yards off, the 
official **Vets." were busily bandaging the broken legs 
of jackals, pouring ointments on the backs of mangy 
dogs, and fitting crutches to lame storks, human beings 
were dying, at their very elbows, of starvation. Happily 
for the famine-stricken, there were at that time fewer 
hungry animals than usual, and so they were fed on 
what remained from the meals of the brute pensioners. 
No doubt many of these wretched sufferers would have 
consented to transmigrate instantly into the bodies of 
any of the animals who were ending so snugly their 
earthly careers. 

But even the Pinjarapala roses are not without 
thorns. The graminivorous ''subjects," of course, could 
not wish for anything better; but I doubt very much 
whether the beasts of prey, such as tigers, hyenas, and 
wolves, Are content with the rules and the forcibly pre- 
scribed diet. Jainas themselves turn with disgust even 
from eggs and fish, and, in consequence, all the animals 
of which they have the care must turn vegetarians. We 
were present when an old tiger, wounded by an English 
bullet, was fed; Having sniffed at a kind of rice soup 
which was offered to him, he lashed his tail, snarled, 
showing his yellow teeth, and with a weak roar turned 
away from the food. What a look he cast askance upon 
his keeper, who was meekly trying to persuade him to taste 



his nice dinner ! Only the strong bars of the cage saved the 
Jaina from a vigorous protest on the part of this veteran 
of the forest. A hyena, with a bleeding head and an ear 
half torn off, began by sitting in the trough filled with 
this Spartan sauce, and then, without any further cere- 
mony, upset it, as if to show its utter contempt for the 
mess. The wolves and the dogs raised such disconsolate 
howls that they attracted the attention of two inseparable 
friends, an old elephant with a wooden leg and a sore- 
eyed ox, the veritable Castor and Pollux of this institu- 
tion. In accordance with his noble nature, the first 
thought of the elephant concerned his friend. He 
wound his trunk round the neck of the ox, in token of 
protection, and both moaned dismally. Parrots, storks, 
pigeons, flamingoes — the whole feathered tribe — revelled 
in their breakfast. Monkeys were the first to answer 
the keeper's invitation and greatly enjoyed themselves. 
Further on we were shown a holy man, who was feeding 
insects with his own blood. He lay w^ith his eyes shut, 
and the scorching rays of the sun striking full upon his 
naked body. He was literally covered with flies, mos- 
quitoes, ants and bugs. 

"AH these are our brothers," mildly observed the 
keeper, pointing to the hundreds of animals and insects. 
"How can you Europeans kill and even devour- them?" 

"What would you do," I asked, "if this snake were 
about to bite you? Is it possible you would not kill it, if 
you had time?" 

"Not for all the world. I should cautiously catch it, 
and then I should carry it to some deserted place outside 
the town, and there set it free." 

"Nevertheless; suppose it bit you?" 

"Then I should recite a mantram, and, if that pro- 
duced no good result, I should be fain to consider it 


as the finger of Fate, and quietly leave this body for 

These were the words of a man who was educated to a 
certain extent, and very well read. When we pointed 
out that no gift of Nature is aimless, and that the human 
teeth are all devouring, he answered by quoting whole 
chapters of Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection and 
Origi7i of Species. "It is not true," argued he, "that the 
first men were born with canine teeth. It was only 
in course of time, with the degradation of humanity, — 
only when the appetite for flesh food began to develop — 
that the jaws changed their first shape under the influ- 
ence of new necessities." 

I could not help asking myself, " Ou la science va-Velle 
se fourrer ?'' 

The same evening, in Elphinstone's Theatre, there 
was given a special performance in honour of "the 
American Mission*," as we are styled here. Native 
actors represented in Gujerati the ancient fairy drama 
Sitd-Rdvia, that has been adapted from the Rdmaya^ia, 
the celebrated epic by Valmiki. This drama is com- 
posed of fourteen acts and no end of tableaux, in addi- 
tion to transformation scenes. All the female parts, as 
usual, w^e acted by young boys, and the actors, accord- 
ing to the historical and national customs, were bare- 
footed and half-naked. Still, the richness of the cos- 
tumes, the stage adornments and transformations, were 
truly wonderful. For instance, even on the stages of 
large metropolitan theatres, it would have been difficult 
to give a better representation of the army of Rama's 
allies, who are nothing more than troops of monkeys 
under the leadership of Hanuman — the soldier, states- 
man, dramatist, poet, god, who is so celebrated in his- 



tory (that of India s.v.p.). The oldest and best of all 
Sanskrit dramas, Hanuman-Natak^ is ascribed to this 
talented forefather of ours. 

Alas! gone is the glorious time when, proud of our 
white skin (which after all may be nothing more than 
the result of a fading, under the influences of our 
northern sky), we looked down upon Hindus and other 
"niggers" with a feeling of contempt well suited to our 
own magnificence. No doubt Sir William Jones's soft 
heart ached, when translating from the Sanskrit such 
humiliating sentences as the following: **Hanuman is 
said to be the forefather of the Europeans." Rama, 
being a hero and a demi-god, was well entitled to unite 
all the bachelors of his useful monkey army to the 
daughters of the Lanka (Ceylon) giants, the Rakshasas, 
and to present these Dravidian beauties with the dowry 
of all Western lands. After the most pompous marriage 
ceremonies, the monkey soldiers made a bridge, with 
the help of their own tails, and safely landed with their 
spouses in Europe, where they lived very happily and had 
a numerous progeny. This progeny are we, Europeans. 
Dravidian words found in some European languages, in 
Basque for instance, greatly rejoice the hearts of the 
Brahmans, who would gladly promote the philologists 
to the rank of demi-gods for this important (?iscover5% 
which confirms so gloriously their ancient legend. But 
it was Darwin who crowned the edifice of proof with 
the authority of Western education and Western scien- 
tific literature. The Indians became still more con- 
vinced that we are the veritable descendants of Hanu- 
man, and that, if one only took the trouble to examine 
carefully, our tails might easily be discovered. Our 
narrow breeches and long skirts only add to the evi- 
dence, however uncomplimentary the idea may be to us. 


Still, if you consider seriously, what are we to say when 
Science, in the person of Darwin, concedes this hypothesis 
to the wisdom of ancient Aryas. We must perforce sub- 
mit. And, really, it is better to have for a forefather Hanu- 
man, the poet, the hero, the god, than any other monkey, 
even though it be a tail-less one. Sitd-Rdma belongs to 
the category of mythological dramas, something like the 
tragedies of -^schylus. Listening to this production of 
the remotest antiquity, the spectators are carried back to 
the times when the gods, descending upon earth, took 
an active part in the everyday life of mortals. Nothing 
reminds one of a modern drama, though the exterior 
arrangement is the same. *'From the sublime to the 
ridiculous there is but a step," and vice versa. The goat, 
chosen for a sacrifice to Bacchus, presented the world with 
tragedy (Tpayos vlt}). The death bleatings and buttings 
of the quadrupedal offering of antiquity have been 
polished by the hands of time and of civilization, and, as 
a result of this process, we get the dying whisper of 
Rachel in the part of Adrienne Lecouvreur, and the 
fearfully realistic "kicking" of the modern Croisette in 
the poisoning scene of The Sphinx. But, whereas the 
descendants of Themistocles gladly receive, whether 
captive or free, all the changes and improvements con- 
sidered asv such by modern taste, thinking them to be a 
corrected and enlarged edition^ of the genius of ^schy- 
lus; Hindus, happily for archaeologists and lovers of 
antiquity, have never moved a step since the times of 
our much honoured forefather Hanuman. 

We awaited the performance of Sitd-Rdma with the 
liveliest curiosity. Except ourselves and the building 
of the theatre, everything was strictly indigenous and 
nothing reminded us of the West. There was not the 
trace of an orchestra. Music was only to be heard from 


the Stage, or from behind it. At last the curtain rose. 
The silence, which had been very remarkable before the 
performance, considering the huge crowd of spectators 
of both sexes, now became absolute. RSma is one of 
the incarnations of Vishnu and, as most of the audience 
were worshippers of Vishnu, for them the spectacle was 
not a mere theatrical performance, but a religious mys- 
tery, representing the life and achievements of their 
favourite and most venerated gods. 

The prologue was laid in the epoch before creation 
began (it may safely be said that no dramatist would 
dare to choose an earlier one) — or, rather, before the 
last manifestation of the universe. All the philosophi- 
cal sects of India, except Mussulmans, agree that the 
universe has always existed. But the Hindus divide 
the periodical appearances and vanishings into days 
and nights of Brahma. The nights, or withdrawals of 
the objective universe, are called Pralayas, and the 
days, or epochs of new awakening 'into life and light, 
are called Manvantaras, Yugas, or ** centuries of the 
gods." These periods are also called, respectively, the 
inbreathings and outbreathings of Brahma. When 
Pralaya comes to an end Brahmd awakens, and, with 
this awakening, the universe that rested in deity, in 
other words, that was reabsorbed in its subjective 
essence, emanates again "from the divine principle and 
becomes visible. The gods, who died at the same time 
as the universe, begin slowly to return to life. The 
"Invisible" alone, the ''Infinite," the "Lifeless," the 
One who is the unconditioned original "Life" itself, 
soars, surrounded by shoreless chaos. Its holy pre- 
sence is not visible. It shows itself only in the periodi- 
cal pulsation of chaos, represented by a dark mass of 
waters filling the whole stage. These waters are not, 


as yet, separated from the dry land, because Brahma, 
the creative spirit of Narayana, has not yet separated 
from the "Ever Unchanging." Then comes a heavy 
shock of the whole mass and the waters begin to acquire 
transparency. Rays, proceeding from a golden egg at 
the bottom, spread through the chaotic waters. Re- 
ceiving life from the spirit of Narayana, the egg bursts 
and the awakened Brahma rises to the surface of the 
water in the shape of a huge lotus. Light clouds appear, 
at first transparent and web-like. They gradually be- 
come condensed, and transform themselves into Praja- 
patis, the ten personified creative powers of Brahma, 
the god of everything living, and sing a hymn of praise 
to the creator. Something naively poetical, to our un- 
accustomed ears, breathed in this uniform melody un- 
accompanied by any orchestra. 

The hour of general revival has struck. Pralaya 
comes to an end. Everything rejoices, returning to 
life. The sky is separated from the waters and on it 
appear the Asuras and Gandharvas, the heavenly singers 
and musicians. Then Indra, Yama, Varuna, and Kuvera, 
the spirits presiding over the four cardinal points, or the 
four elements, water, fire, earth, and air, pour forth 
atoms, whence springs the serpent "Ananta." The 
monster s,wims to the surface of the waves and, bend- 
ing its swanlike neck, forms a couch on which Vishnu 
reclines with the Goddess of Beauty, his wife Lakshmi, 
at his feet. "Swatha! Swatha! Swatha!" cries the 
choir of heavenly musicians, hailing the deity. In the 
Russian church service this is pronounced Swiat ! Swiat ! 
Swiat! and means holy! holy! holy! 

In one of his future avatars Vishnu will incarnate in 
Rama, the son of a great king, and Lakshmi wdll become 
Sita. The motive of the whole poem of Rdmdyajta is 


sung in a few words by the celestial musicians. Kama, 
the God of Love, shelters the divine couple and, that 
very moment, a flame is lit in their hearts and the whole 
world is created. 

Later there are performed the fourteen acts of the 
drama, which is well known to everybody, and in which 
several hundred personages take part. At the end of 
the prologue the whole assembly of gods come forward, 
one after another, and acquaint the audience with the 
contents and the epilogue of their performance, asking 
the public not to be too exacting. It is as though all 
these familiar deities, made of painted granite and 
marble, left the temples and came down to remind 
mortals of events long past and forgotten. 

The hall was full of natives. We four alone were 
representatives of Europe. Like a huge flower bed, the 
women displayed the bright colours of their garments. 
Here and there, among handsome, bronze-like heads, 
were the pretty, dull white faces of Parsee women, whose 
beauty reminded me of the Georgians. The front rows 
were occupied by women only. In India it is quite easy 
to le'arn a person's religion, sect, and caste, and even 
whether a woman is married or single, from the marks 
painted in bright colours on everyone's forehead. 

Since the time when Alexander the Great ^destroyed 
the sacred books of the«Gebars, they have constantly 
been oppressed by the idol worshippers. King Ardeshir- 
Babechan restored fire worship in the years 229-243 A.c. 
Since then they have again been persecuted during the 
reign of one of the Shakpurs, either II., IX., or XI., of 
the Sassanids, but which of them is not known. It is, 
however, reported that one of them was a great protector 
of the Zartushta doctrines. After the fall of Yesdejird, 
the fire-worshippers emigrated to the island of Ormasd, 


and, some time later, having found a book of Zoroas- 
trian prophecies, in obedience to one of them they set 
out for Hindustan. After many wanderings, they ap- 
peared, about I, GOO or 1,200 years ago, in the territory 
of Maharana-Jayadeva, a vassal of the Rajput King 
Champanir, who allowed them to colonize his land, but 
only on condition that they laid down their weapons, 
that they abandoned the Persian language 'for Hindi, 
and that their women put off their national dress and 
clothed themselves after the manner of Hindu women. 
He, however, allowed them to wear shoes, since this is 
strictly prescribed by Zoroaster. Since then very few 
changes have been made. It follows that the Parsee 
women could only be distinguished from their Hindu 
sisters by very slight differences. The almost white 
faces of the former were separated by a strip of smooth 
black hair from a sort of white cap, and the whole was 
covered with a bright veil. The latter wore no covering 
on their rich, shining hair, twisted into a kind of Greek 
chignon. Their foreheads were brightly painted, and 
their nostrils adorned with golden rings. Both are fond 
of bright, but uniform, colours, both cover their arms up 
to the elbow with bangles, and both wear saris. 

Behind the women a whole sea of most wonderful 
turbans was waving in the pit. There were long-haired 
Rajputs with regular Grecian-* features and long beards 
parted in the middle, their heads covered with "pagris" 
consisting of, at least, twenty yards of finest white 
muslin, and their persons adorned with earrings and 
necklaces; there were Mahrata Brahmans, who shave 
their heads, leaving only one long central lock, and 
wear turbans of blinding red, decorated in front with 
a sort of golden horn of plenty; Bangas, wearing three- 
cornered helmets with a kind of cockscomb on the top ; 


Kachhis, with Roman helmets; Bhillis, from the borders 
of Rajastan, whose chins are wrapped three times in the 
ends of their pyramidal turbans, so that the innocent 
tourist never fails to think that they constantly suffer 
from toothache; Bengalis and Calcutta Babus, bare- 
headed all the year round, their hair cut after an 
Athenian fashion, and their bodies clothed in the proud 
folds of a white toga-virilis, in no way different from 
those once worn by Roman senators; Parsees, in their 
black, oil-cloth mitres; Sikhs, the followers of Nanaka, 
strictly monotheist and mystic, whose turbans are very 
like the* Bhillis', but who wear long hair down to their 
waists ; and hundreds of other tribes. 

Proposing to count how many different headgears are 
to be seen in Bombay alone, we had to abandon the task 
as impracticable after a fortnight. Every caste, every 
trade, guild, and sect, every one of the thousand sub- 
divisions of the social hierarchy, has its own bright 
turban, often sparkling with gold "-lace and precious 
stones, which is laid aside only in case of mourning. 
But, as if to compensate for this luxury, even the mem- 
bers of the municipality, rich merchants, and Rai-Baha- 
durs, who have been created baronets by the Govern- 
ment, never wear any stockings, and leave their legs 
bare up to the knees. As for their dress, «it chiefly 
consists of a kind of shapeless white shirt. 

In Baroda some Gaikwars (a title of all the Baroda 
princes) still keep in their stables elephants and the less 
common giraffes, though the former are strictly forbidden 
in the streets of Bombay. We had an opportunity of 
seeing ministers, and even Rajas, mounted on these 
noble animals, their mouths full of pansupari (betel 
leaves), their heads drooping under the weight of the 
precious stones on their turbans, and each of their 


fingers and toes adorned with rich golden rings. While 
the evening I am describing lasted, however, we saw no 
elephants, no giraffes, though we enjoyed the company 
of Rajas and ministers. We had in our box the hand- 
some ambassador and late tutor of the Mahararana of 
Oodeypore. Our companion was a Raja and a pandit. 
His name was a Mohunlal-Vishnulal-Pandia. He wore 
a small pink turban sparkling with diamonds, a pair of 
pink barege trousers, and a white gauze coat. His raven 
black hair half covered his amber-coloured neck, which 
was surrounded by a necklace that might have driven 
any Parisian belle frantic with envy. The poor Rajput 
was awfully sleepy, but he stuck heroically to his duties, 
and, thoughtfully pulling his beard, led us all through 
the endless labyrinth of metaphysical entanglements of 
the Rdmayana. During the entr'actes we were offered 
coffee, sherbets, and cigarettes, which we smoked even 
during the performance, sitting in front of the stage in 
the first row. W^ were covered, like idols, with gar- 
lands of flowers, and the manager, a stout Hindu clad in 
transparent muslins, sprinkled us several times with 

The performance began at eight p.m. and, at half-past 
two, had only reached the ninth act. In spite of each 
of us having a punkah-wallah at our backs, the heat was 
unbearable. We had reached the limits of our endurance, 
and tried to excuse ourselves. This led to general dis- 
turbance, on the stage as well as in the auditorium. The 
airy chariot, on which the wicked king Ravana was 
carrying Sita away, paused in the air. The king of the 
Nagas (serpents) ceased breathing flames, the monkey 
soldiers hung motionless on the trees, and Rama him- 
self, clad in light blue and crowned with a diminutive 
pagoda, came to the front of the stage and pronounced 


in pure Bnglish a speech, in which he thanked us for 
the honour of our presence. Then new bouquets, pansu- 
paris, and rose-water, and, finally, we reached home 
about four a.m. Next morning we learned that the per- 
formance had ended at half-past six. 

It is an early morning near the end of March. A 
light breeze caresses with its velvety hand the sleepy 
faces of the pilgrims; and the intoxicating perfume of 
tuberoses mingles with the pungent odours of the 
bazaar. Crowds of barefooted Brahman women, vStately 
and well-formed, direct their steps, like the biblical 
Rachel, to the well, with brass water pots bright as 
gold upon their heads. On our way lie numerous sacred 
tanks, filled with stagnant water, in which Hindus of 
both sexes perform their prescribed morning ablutions. 
Under the hedge of a garden somebody's tame mongoose 
is devouring the head of a cobra. The headless body of 
the snake convulsively, but harmlessly, beats against 
the thin flanks of the little animal, which regards these 
vain efforts with an evident delight. Side by side with 
this group of animals is a human figure ; a naked mdli 
(gardener), offering betel and salt to a monstrous stone 
idol of Shiva, with the view of pacifying the wrath of 
the ** Destroyer," excited by the death of the cobra, 
which is one of his favourite servants. A few steps 
before reaching the railway station, we meet a modest 
Catholic procession, consisting of a few newly converted 
pariahs and some of the native Portuguese. Under a 
baldachin is a litter, on which swings to and fro a dusky 
Madonna dressed after the fashion of the native god- 
desses, with a ring in her nose. In her arms she carries 
the holy Babe, clad in yellow pyjamas and a red Brah- 
manical turban. "Hari, hari, devaki!" ("Glory to the 
holy Virgin!") exclaim the converts, unconscious of any 
difference between the Devaki, mother of Krishna, and 
the Catholic Madonna. All they know is that, excluded 


from the temples by the Brahmans on account of their 
not belonging to any of the Hindu castes, they are ad- 
mitted sometimes into the Christian pagodas, thanks to 
the "padris," a name adopted from the Portuguese 
padre, and applied indiscriminately to the missionaries 
of every European sect. 

At last, our gharis — native two-wheeled vehicles 
drawn by a pair of strong bullocks — arrived at the 
station. English employes open wide their eyes at the 
sight of white- faced people travelling about the town in 
gilded Hindu chariots. But we are true Americans, and 
we have come hither to study, not Europe, but India 
and her products on the spot. 

If the tourist casts a glance on the shore opposite to 
the port of Bombay, he will see a dark blue mass rising 
like a wall between himself and the horizon. This is 
Parbul, a flat-topped mountain 2,250 feet high. Its 
right slope leans on two sharp rocks covered with 
woods. The highest of them, Mataran, is the object of 
our trip. From Bombay to Narel, a station situated at 
the foot of this mountain, we are to travel four hours by 
railway, though, as the crow flies, the distance is not 
more than twelve miles. The railroad wanders round 
the foot of the most charming little hills, skirts hun- 
dreds of pretty lakes, and pierces with more than twenty 
tunnels the very heart of the rocky ghats. 

We were accompanied by three Hindu friends. Two 
of them once belonged to a high caste, but were excom- 
municated from their pagoda for association and friend- 
ship with us, unworthy foreigners. At the station our 
party was joined by two more natives, with whom we 
had been in correspondence for many a year. All were 
members of our Society, reformers of the Young India 
school, enemies of Brahmans, castes, and prejudices, 


and were to be our fellow-travellers and visit with us 
the annual fair at the temple festivities of Karli, stop- 
ping on the way at Mataran and Khanduli. One was 
a Brahman from Poona, the second a moodeliar (land- 
owner) from Madras, the third a Singalese from Kegalla, 
the fourth a Bengali Zemindar, and the fifth a gigantic 
Rajput, whom we had known for a long time by the 
name of Gulab-Lal-Sing, and had called simply Gulab- 
Sing. I shall dwell upon his personality more than on 
any of the others, because the most wonderful and di- 
verse stories were in circulation about this strange man. 
It was asserted that he belonged to the sect of Raj- 
Yogis, and was an initiate of the mysteries of magic, 
alchemy^ and various other occult sciences of India. 
He was rich and independent, and rumour did not dare 
to suspect him of deception, the more so because, though 
quite full of these sciences, he never uttered a word 
about them in public, and carefully concealed his know- 
ledge from all except a few friends. 

He was an independent Takur from Rajistan, a pro- 
vince the name of which means the land of kings. 
Takurs are, almost without exception, descended from 
the Surya (sun), and are accordingly called Surya-vansa. 
They are prouder than any other nation in the world. 
They hayp a proverb, ''The dirt of the earth cannot 
stick to the rays of the sun." • They do not despise- any 
sect, except the Brahman s, and honour only the bards 
who sing their military achievements. Of the latter 
Colonel Tod writes somewhat as follows,-^ **The mag- 

* In nearly every instance the passages quoted from various 
authorities have been re-translated from the Russian. As the 
time and labour needful for verification would be too great, the 
sense only of these passages is given here. They do not pretend 
to be textual. — Translator. 


iiificence and luxury of the Rajput courts in the early 
periods of history were truly wonderful, even when due 
allowance is made for the poetical license of the bards. 
From the earliest times Northern India was a wealthy 
country, and it was precisely here that was situated the 
richest satrapy of Darius. At all events, this country 
abounded in those most striking events which furnish 
history with her richest materials. In Rajistan every 
small kingdom had its Thermopylae, and every little 
town has produced its Leonidas. But the veil of the 
centuries hides from posterity events that the pen of 
the historian might have bequeathed to the everlasting 
admiration of the nations. Somnath might have ap- 
peared as a rival of Delphi, the treasures of Hind might 
outweigh the riches of the King of Lydia, while com- 
pared with the army of the brothers Pandu, that of 
Xerxes would seem an inconsiderable handful of men, 
w^orthy only to rank in the second place." 

England did not disarm the Rajputs, as she did the 
rest of the Indian nations, so Gulab-Sing came accom- 
panied by vassals and shield-bearers. 

Possessing an inexhaustible knowledge of legends, 
and being evidently well acquainted with the antiquities 
of his country, Gulab-Sing proved to be the most in- 
teresting of our companions. 

''There, against the blue sky," said Gulab-I<al-Sing, 
"you behold the majestic Bhao Mallin. That deserted 
spot was once the abode of a holy hermit; now it is 
visited yearly by crowds of pilgrims. According to 
popular belief the most wonderful things happen there 
— miracles. At the top of the mountain, two thousand 
feet above the level of the sea, is the platform of a 
fortress. Behind it rises another rock two hundred 
and seventy feet in height, and at the very summit of 


this peak are to be found the ruins of a still more 
ancient fortress, which for seventy-five years served as 
a shelter for this hermit. Whence he obtained his food 
will for ever remain a mystery. Some think he ate the 
roots of wild plants, but upon this barren rock there is 
no vegetation. The only mode of ascent of this per- 
pendicular mountain consists of a rope, and holes, just 
big enough to receive the toes of a man, cut out of the 
living rock. One would think such a pathway accessible 
only to acrobats and monkeys. Surely fanaticism must 
provide wings for the Hindus, for no accident has ever 
happened to any of them. Unfortunately, about forty 
years ago, a party of Englishmen conceived the unhappy 
thought of exploring the ruins, but a strong gust of 
wind arose and carried them over the precipice. After 
this. General Dickinson gave orders for the destruction 
of all means of communication with the upper fortress, 
and the lower one, once the cause of so many losses and 
so much bloodshed, is now entirely deserted, and serves 
only as a shelter for eagles and tigers." 

Listening to these tales of olden times, I coutd not 
help comparing the past with the present. What a 
difference ! 

"Kali-Yug!" cry old Hindus with grim despair. 
"Who can strive against the Age of Darkness?" 

This fatalism, the certainty that nothing good- can 
be expected now, the conviction that even the powerful 
god Shiva himself can neither appear nor help them are 
all deeply rooted in the minds of the old generation. 
As for the younger men, they receive their education in 
high schools and universities, learn by heart Herbert 
Spencer, John Stuart Mill, Dar^vin and the German 
philosophers, and entirely lose all respect, not only for 
their own religion, but for every other in the world. 


The young ''educated" Hindus are materialists almost 
without exception, and often achieve the last limits of 
Atheism. They seldom hope to attain to anything 
better than a situation as "chief mate of the junior 
clerk," as we say in Russia, and either become syco- 
phants, disgusting flatterers of their present lords, or, 
which is still worse, or at any rate sillier, begin to edit 
a newspaper full of cheap liberalism, which gradually 
develops into a revolutionary organ. 

But all this is only en passant. Compared with the 
mysterious and grandiose past of India, the ancient 
Aryavarta, her present is a natural Indian ink back- 
ground, the black shadow of a bright picture, the in- 
evitable evil in the cycle of every nation. India has 
become decrepit and has fallen down, like a huge 
memorial of antiquity, prostrate and broken to pieces. 
But the most insignificant of these fragments will for 
ever remain a treasure for the archaeologist and the 
artist, and, in the course of time, may even afford a clue 
to the philosopher and the psychologist. "Ancient 
HindliS <built like giants and finished their work like 
goldsmiths," says Archbishop Heber, describing his 
travels in India. In his description of the Taj -Mahal of 
Agra, that veritable eighth wonder of the world, he calls 
it "a poem in marble." He might have added that it is 
difficult to find in India- a ruin, in the least state of 
preservation, that cannot speak, more eloquently than 
whole volumes, of the past of India, her religious aspira- 
tions, her beliefs and hopes. 

There is not a country of antiquity, not even exclud- 
ing the Egypt of the Pharaohs, where the development 
of the subjective ideal into its demonstration by an 
objective symbol has been expressed more graphically, 
more skilfully, and artistically, than in India. The whole 


pantheism of the Vedanta is contained in the symbol of 
the bisexual deity ArdhanSri. It is surrounded by the 
double triangle, known in India under the name of the 
sign of Vishnu. By his side lie a lion, a bull, and an 
eagle. In his hands there rests a full mofwi, which is 
reflected in the waters at his feet. The Vedanta has 
taught for thousands of years what some of the German 
philosophers began to preach at the end of last century 
and the beginning of this one, namely, that everything 
objective in the world, as well as the world itself, is no 
more than an illusion, a Maya, a phantom created by our 
imagination, and as unreal as the reflection of the moon 
upon the surface of the waters. The phenomenal world, 
as well as the subjectivity of our conception concerning 
our Egos, are nothing but, as it were, a mirage. The 
tnie sage will never submit to the temptations of illusion. 
He is well aware that man will attain to self-knowledge, 
and become a real Ego, only after the entire union of 
the personal fragment with the All, thus becoming an 
immutable, infinite, universal Brahma. Accordingly, he 
considers the whole cycle of birth, life, old -age, and 
death as the sole product of imagination. 

Generally speaking, Indian philosophy, split up as it 
is into numerous metaphysical teachings, possesses, 
when united to Indian ontological doctrines, such a well 
developed logic, such a wondetfully refined psychology, 
that it might well take the first rank when contrasted 
with the schools, ancient and modern, idealist or posi- 
tivist, and eclipse them all in turn. That positivism 
expounded by Lewis, that makes each particular hair 
on the heads of Oxford theologians stand on end, is 
ridiculous child's play compared with the atomistic 
school of Vaisheshika, with its world divided, like a 
chess-board, into six categories of everlasting atoms, 


nine substances, twenty-four qualities, and five motions. 
And, however difficult, and even impossible may seem 
the exact representation of all these abstract ideas, 
idealistic, pantheistic, and, sometimes, purely material, 
in the condensed shape of allegorical symbols, India, 
nevertheless, has known how to express all these teach- 
ings more or less successfully. She has immortalized 
them in her ugly, four-headed idols, in the geometrical, 
complicated forms of her temples, and even in the en- 
tangled lines and spots on the foreheads of her sectaries. 

We were discussing this and other topics with our 
Hindu fellow-travellers when a Catholic padre, a teacher 
in the Jesuit College of St. Xavier in Bombay, entered 
our carriage at one of the stations. Soon he could con- 
tain himself no longer, and joined in our conversation. 
Smiling and rubbing his hands, he said that he was 
curious to know on the strength of what sophistry our 
companions could find anything resembling a philo- 
sophical explanation "in the fundamental idea of the 
four faces of this ugly Shiva, crowned with snakes," 
pointitrgt^ith his finger to the idol at the entrance to a 

"It is very simple," answered the Bengali Babu. 
"You see that its four faces are turned towards the four 
cardinal points, South, North, West, and Ea?.t — but all 
these faces are on one body and belong to one god." 

"Would you mind explaining first the philosophical 
idea of the four faces and eight hands of your Shiva," 
interrupted the padre. 

"With great pleasure. Thinking that our great Rudra 
(the Vedic name for this god) is omnipresent, we repre- 
sent him with his face turned simultaneously in all 
directions. Eight hands indicate his omnipotence, and 
his single body serves to remind us that he is One, 


though he is everywhere, and nobody can avoid his all- 
seeing eye, or his chastising hand." 

The padre was going to say something when the train 
stopped ; we had arrived at Narel. 

It is hardly twenty-five years since, for the first time, 
a white man ascended Mataran, a huge mass of various 
kinds of trap rock, for the most part crystalline in form. 
Though quite near to Bombay, and only a few miles 
from Khandala, the summer residence of the Europeans, 
the threatening heights of this giant were long con- 
sidered inaccessible. On the north, its smooth, almost 
vertical face rises 2,450 feet over the valley of the river 
Pen, and, further on, numberless separate rocks and 
hillocks, covered with thick vegetation, and divided by 
valleys and precipices, rise up to the clouds. In 1854, 
the railway pierced one of the sides of Mataran, and now 
has reached the foot of the last mountain, stopping at 
Narel, where, not long ago, there was nothing but a 
precipice. From Nurel to the upper plateau is but eight 
miles, which you may travel on a pony, or in an open or 
closed palanquin, as you choose. ^'J*^ 

Considering that we arrived at Narel about six in the 
evening, this course was not very tempting. Civilization 
has done much with inanimate nature, but, in spite of 
all its desjpotism, it has not yet been able to conquer 
tigers and snakes. Tigers, nb doubt, are banished to 
the more remote jungles, but all kinds of snakes, espe- 
cially cobras and coralillos, which last by preference 
inhabit trees, still abound in the forests of Mataran as 
in days of old, and wage a regular guerilla warfare 
against the invaders. Woe betide the belated pedestrian, 
or even horseman, if he happens to pass under a tree 
which forms the ambuscade of a coralillo snake ! Cobras 
and other reptiles seldom attack men, and will generally 


try to avoid them, unless accidentally trodden upon, but 
these guerilleros of the forest, the tree serpents, lie in 
wait for their victims. As soon as the head of a man 
comes under the branch which shelters the coralillo, this 
enemy of man, coiling its tail round the branch, dives 
down into space with all the length of its body, and 
strikes with its fangs at the man's forehead. This 
curious fact was long considered to be a mere fable, but 
it has now been verified, and belongs to the natural 
history of India. In these cases the natives see in the 
snake the envoy of Death, the fulfiller of the will of the 
bloodthirsty Kali, the spouse of Shiva. 

But evening, after the scorchingly hot day, was so 
tempting, and held out to us from the distance such 
promise of delicious coolness, that we decided upon 
risking our fate. In the heart of this wondrous nature 
one longs to shake off earthly chains, and unite oneself 
with the boundless life, so that death itself has its attrac- 
tions in India. « 

Besides, the full moon was about to rise at eight p.m. 
Three^lMiirs' ascent of the mountain, on such a moonlit, 
tropical night as would tax the descriptive powers of the 
greatest artists, was worth any sacrifice. Apropos, among 
the few artists who can fix upon canvas the subtle charm 
of a moonlit night in India public opinion, begins to 
name our own V. V. Vere!shtchagin. 

Having dined hurriedly in the dak bungalow we asked 
for our sedan chairs, and, drawing our roof-like topees 
over our eyes, we started. Eight coolies, clad, as usual, 
in vine-leaves, took possession of each chair and hurried 
up the mountain, uttering the shrieks and yells no true 
Hindu can dispense with. Each chair was accompanied 
besides by a relay of eight more porters. So we were 
sixty-four, without counting the Hindus and their ser- 


vants — an army sufficient to frighten any stray leopard 
or jungle tiger, in fact any animal, except our fearless 
cousins on the side of our great-grandfather Hanuman, 
As soon as we turned into a thicket at the foot of the 
mountain, several dozens of these kinsmen joined our 
procession. Thanks to the achievements of Rama's ally, 
monkeys are sacred in India. The Government, emulat- 
ing the earlier wisdom of the East India Company, 
forbids everyone to molest them, not only when met with 
in the forests, which in all justice belong to them, but 
even when they invade the city gardens. Leaping from 
one branch to another, chattering like magpies, and 
making the most formidable grimaces, they followed us 
all the way, like so many midnight spooks. Sometimes 
they hung on the trees in full moonlight, like forest 
nymphs of Russian mythology; sometimes they pre- 
ceded us, awaiting our arrival at the turns of the road as 
if showing us the way. They never left us. One monkey 
babe alighted on my knees. In a moment the authoress 
of his being, jumping without any ceremon^/;^^ oj,er the 
coolies' shoulders, came to his rescue, picked him up, 
and, after making the most ungodly grimace at me, ran 
away with him. 

*'Bandras (monkeys) bring luck with their presence," 
remarked one of the Hindus, as if to console me for the 
loss of my crumpled topee. "Besides," he added, ** see- 
ing them here we may be sure that there is not a single 
tiger for ten miles round." 

Higher and higher we ascended by the steep winding 
path, and the forest grew perceptibly thicker, darker, 
and more impenetrable. Some of the thickets w^ere as 
dark as graves. Passing under hundred-year-old banyans 
it was impossible to distinguish one's own finger at the 
distance of two inch-es. It seemed to me that in certain 


places it would not be possible to advance without feel- 
ing our way, but our coolies never made a false step, but 
hastened onwards. Not one of us uttered a word. It 
was as if we had agreed to be silent at these moments. 
We felt as though wrapped in the heavy veil of dark- 
ness, and no sound was heard but the .short, irregular 
breathing of the porters, and the cadence of their quick, 
nervous footsteps upon the stony soil of the path. One 
felt sick at heart and ashamed of belonging to that 
human race, one part of which makes of the other mere 
beasts of burden. These poor wretches are paid for 
their work four annas a day all the year round. Four 
annas for going eight miles upwards and eight miles 
downwards not less than twice a day ; altogether thirty- 
two miles up and down a mountain 1,500 feet high, 
carrying a burden of two hundredweight! However, 
India is a country where everything is adjusted to never 
changing customs, and four annas a day is the pay for 
unskilled labour of any kind. 

Gradiially open spaces and glades became more fre- 
quent and the light grew as intense as by day. Millions 
of grasshoppers were shrilling in the forest, filling the 
air with a metallic throbbing, and flocks of frightened 
parrots rushed from tree to tree. Sometimes the thun- 
dering, prolonged roars pf tigers rose from, ^he bottom 
of the precipices thickly covered with all kinds of vege- 
tation. Shikaris assure us that, on a quiet night, the 
roaring of these beasts can be heard for many miles 
around. The panorama, lit up, as if by Bengal fires, 
changed at every turn. Rivers, fields, forests, and rocks, 
spread out at our feet over an enormous distance, moved 
and trembled, iridescent, in the silvery moonlight, like 
the tides of a mirage. The fantastic character of the 
pictures made us hold our breath. Our heads grew 


giddy if, by chance, we glanced down into the depths by 
the flickering moonlight. We felt that the precipice, 
2,000 feet deep, was fascinating us. One of our American 
fellow travellers, who had begun the voyage on horse- 
back, had to dismount, afraid of being unable to resist 
the temptation to dive head foremost into the abyss. 

Several times we met with lonely pedestrians, men 
and young women, coming down Mataran on their way 
home after a day's work. It often happens that some 
of them never reach home. The police unconcernedly 
report that the missing man has been carried off by 
a tiger, or killed by a snake. All is said, and he is 
soon entirely forgotten. One person, more or less, 
out of the two hundred and forty millions who in- 
habit India does not matter much! But there exists 
a very strange superstition in the Deccan about this 
mysterious, and only partially explored, mountain. The 
natives assert that, in spite of the considerable number 
of- victims, there has never been found a single skeleton. 
The corpse, whether intact or mangled by tigers, is im- 
mediately carried away by the monkeys, W^xo^ in the 
latter case, gather the scattered bones, and bury them 
so skilfully in deep holes, that no traces ever remain. 
Englishmen laugh at this superstition, but the police- 
men do npt deny the fact of the entire disappearance of 
the bodies. When the sides of the mountain were- ex- 
cavated, in the course of the construction of the railway, 
separate bones, with the marks of tigers' teeth upon 
them, broken bracelets, and other adornments, were 
found at an incredible depth from the surface. The fact 
of these things being broken showed clearly that they 
were not buried by men, because, neither the religion of 
the Hindus, nor their greed, would allow them to break 
and bury silver and gold. Is it possible, then, that, as 


amongst men one hand washes the other, so in the 
animal kingdom one species conceals the crimes of 

Having spent the night in a Portuguese inn, woven 
like an eagle's nest out of bamboos, and clinging to the 
almost vertical side of a rock, we rose at daj^break, and, 
having visited all the points de vue famed for their beauty, 
made our preparations to return to Narel. By daylight 
the panorama was still more splendid than by night; 
volumes would not suffice to describe it. Had it not 
been that on three sides the horizon was shut out by 
rugged ridges of mountain, the whole of the Deccan 
plateau would have appeared before our eyes. Bombay 
was so distinct that it seemed quite near to us, and the 
channel that separates the town from Salsetta shone 
like a tiny silvery streak. It winds like a snake on its 
way to the port, surrounding Kanari and other islets, 
which look the very image of green peas scattered on 
the white cloth of its bright waters/ and, finally, joins 
the blinding line of the Indian Ocean in the extreme 
distanced *^n the other side is the northern Konkau, 
terminated by the Tal- Ghats, the needle -like summits of 
the Jano-Maoli rocks, and, lastly, the battlemented ridge 
of Funell, whose bold silhouette stands out in strong 
relief against the distant blue of the dim s\y, like a 
giant's castle in some fairy tale. Further on looms Par- 
bul, whose flat summit, in the days of old, was the seat 
of the gods, whence, according to the legends, Vishnu 
spoke to mortals. And there below, where the defile 
widens into a valley, all covered with huge separate 
rocks, each of which is crowded with historical and 
mythological legends, you may perceive the dim blue 
ridge of mountains, still loftier and still more strangely 
shaped. That is Khandala, which is overhung by a 


huge stone block, known by the name of the Duke's 
Nose. On the opposite side, under the very summit of 
the mountain, is situated Karli, which, according to the 
unanimous opinion of archaeologists, is the most ancient 
and best preserved of Indian cave temples. 

One who has traversed the passes of the Caucasus 
again and again; one who, from the top of the Cross 
Mountain, has beheld beneath her feet thunderstorms 
and lightnings ; who has visited the Alps and the Rigi ; 
who is well acquainted with the Andes and Cordilleras, 
and knows every corner of the Catskills in America, may 
be allowed, I hope, the expression of a humble opinion. 
The Caucasian Mountains, I do not deny, are more 
majestic than the Ghats of India, and their splendour 
cannot be dimmed by comparison with these ; but their 
beauty is of a classical type, if I may use this expression. 
At their sight one experiences true delight, but at the 
same time a sensation of awe. One feels like a pigmy 
before these Titans of nature. But in India, the Hima- 
layas excepted, mountains produce quite a different 
impression. The highest summits of the Deccan, as well 
as of the triangular ridge that fringes Northern Hindo- 
stan, and of the Eastern Ghats, do not exceed 3,000 feet. 
Only in the Western Ghats of the Malabar coast, from 
Cape Corporin to the river Surat, are there heights of 
7,000 feet above the surface of the sea. So that no 
comparison can be drawn between these and the hoary- 
headed patriarch Elbruz, or Kasbek, which exceeds 18,000 
feet. The chief and original charm of Indian mountains 
consists in their wonderfully capricious shapes. Some- 
times these mountains, or, rather, separate volcanic peaks 
standing in a row, form chains ; but it is more common 
to find them scattered, to the great perplexity of geolo- 
gists, without visible cause, in places where the formation 


seems quite unsuitable. Spacious valleys, surrounded 
by high walls of rock, over the very ridge of which 
passes the railway, are common. Look below, and it 
will seem to 3'ou that you are gazing upon the studio of 
some whimsical Titanic sculptor, filled with half finished 
groups, statues, and monuments. Here is a dream-land 
bird, seated upon the head of a monster six hundred feet 
high, spreading its wings and widely gaping its dragon's 
mouth ; by its side the bust of a man, surmounted by a 
helmet, battlemented like the walls of a feudal castle; 
there, again, new monsters devouring each other, statues 
with broken limbs, disorderly heaps of huge balls, lonely 
fortresses with loopholes, ruined towers and bridges. 
All this scattered and intermixed with shapes changing 
incessantly like the dreams of delirium. And the chief 
attraction is that nothing here is the result of art, every- 
thing is the pure sport of nature, which, however, has 
occasionally been turned to account by ancient builders. 
The art of man in India is to be sought in the interior of 
the earth, not on its surface. Ancient Hindus seldom 
built their temples otherwise than in the bosom of the 
earth, ^s though they were ashamed of their efforts, or 
did not dare to rival the sculpture of nature. Having 
chosen, for instance, a pyramidal rock, or a cupola 
shaped hillock like Elephanta, or Karli, they scraped 
away inside, according to the Puranas, for centuries, 
planning on so grand a style that no modern architecture 
has been able to conceive anything to equal it. Fables (?) 
about the Cyclops seem truer in India than in Egypt. 

The marvellous railroad from Narel to Khandala re- 
minds one of a similar line from Genoa up the Apen- 
nines. One may be said to travel in the air, not on 
land. The railway traverses a region 1,400 feet above 
Konkan, and, in some places, while one rail is laid on 


the sharp edge of the rock, the other is supported on 
vaults and arches. The Mali Khindi viaduct is 163 feet 
high. For two hours we hastened on between sky and 
earth, with abysses on both sides thickly covered with 
mango trees and bananas. Truly English engineers are 
wonderful builders. 

The pass of Bhor-Ghat is safely accomplished. and we 
are in Khandala. Our bungalow here is built on the 
very edge of a ravine, which nature herself has care- 
fully concealed under a cover of the most luxuriant 
vegetation. Everything is in blossom, and, in this un- 
fathomed recess, a botanist might find sufficient material 
to occupy him for a life- time. Palms have disappeared ; 
for the most part they grow only near the sea. Here 
they are replaced by banyans, mango trees, pipals (^ficus 
religios(x)y fig trees, and thousands of other trees and 
shrubs, unknown to such outsiders as ourselves. The 
Indian flora is too often slandered and misrepresented as 
being full of beautiful, but scentless, flowers. At some 
seasons this may be true enough, but, as long as jas- 
mines, the various balsams, white tuberoses, -mnd golden 
Champa (champaka or frangipani) are in blossom, this 
statement is far from being true. The aroma of champa 
alone is so powerful as to make one almost giddy. For 
size, it is Jhe king of flowering trees, and hundreds of 
them were in full bloom, just at this time of year, on 
Mataran and Khandala. 

We sat on the verandah, talking and enjoying the 
surrounding views, until well-nigh midnight. Every- 
thing slept around us. 

Khandala is nothing but a big village, situated on the 
flat top of one of the mountains of the Sahiadra range, 
about 2,200 feet above the sea level. It is surrounded by 
isolated peaks, as strange in shape as any we have seen. 


One of them, straight before us, on the opposite side of 
the abyss, looked exactly like a long, one-storied build- 
ing, with a flat roof and a battlemented parapet. The 
Hindus assert that, somewhere about this hillock, there 
exists a secret entrance, leading into vast interior halls, 
in fact to a whole subterranean palace, and that there 
still exist people who possess the secret of this abode. 
A holy hermit. Yogi, and Magus, who had inhabited 
these caves for "many centuries," imparted this secret 
to Sivaji, the celebrated leader of the Mahratta armies. 
Irike Tanhauser, in Wagner's opera, the unconquerable 
Sivaji spent seven years of his youth in this mysterious 
abode, and therein acquired his extraordinary strength 
and valour. 

Sivaji is a kind of Indian Ilia Moorometz, though his 
epoch is much nearer to our times. He was the hero 
and the king of the Mahrattas in the seventeenth century, 
and the founder of their shortlived empire. It is to him 
that India owes the weakening, if not the entire destruc- 
tion, of the Mussulman yoke. No taller than an ordi- 
nary womsn, and with the hand of a child, he was, 
nevertheless, possessed of wonderful strength, which, of 
course, his compatriots ascribed to sorcery. His sword 
is still preserved in a museum, and one cannot help 
wondering at its size and weight, and at the hilt, through 
which only a ten-year-old child could put his hand. The 
basis of this hero's fame is the fact that he, the son of 
a poor officer in the service of a Mogul emperor, like 
another David, slew the Mussulman Goliath, the formid- 
able Afzul Khan. It was not, however, with a sling that 
he killed him, he used in this combat the formidable 
Mahratti weapon, vaghnakh, consisting of five long steel 
nails, as sharp as needles, and very strong. This weapon 
is worn on the fingers, and wrestlers use it to tear each 


other's flesh like wild animals. The Deccan is full of 
legends about Sivaji, and even the English historians 
mention him with respect. Just as in the fable respect- 
ing Charles V, one of the local Indian traditions asserts 
that Sivaji is not dead, but lives secreted in one of the 
Sahiadra caves. When the fateful hour strikes (and 
according to the calculations of the astrologers the time 
is not far off) he will reappear, and will bring freedom 
to his beloved country. 

The learned and artful Brahmans, those Jesuits of 
India, profit by the profound superstition of the masses 
to extort wealth from them, sometimes to the last cow, 
the only food giver of a large family. 

In the following passage I give a curious example of 
this. At the end of July, 1879, this mysterious document 
appeared in Bombay. I translate literally from the 
Mahratti copy, the original having been translated into 
all the dialects of India, of which there are 273. 

*! Shri !" (an untranslatable greeting). " I^et it be known 
unto every one that this epistle, traced in the original in 
golden letters, came down from Indra-loka" fthe heaven 
of Indra), "in the presence of holy Brahmans, on the 
altar of the Vishveshvara temple, which is in the sacred 
town of Benares. 

**Ivisten ^nd remember, O tribes of Hindustan, Rajis- 
tan, Punjab, etc., etc. On Saturday, the second day of 
the first half of the month Magha, 1809, of Shall vahan's 
era" (1887 a.d.), "the eleventh month of the Hindus, 
during the Ashwini Nakshatra" (the first of the twenty- 
seven constellations on the moon's path), "when the sun 
enters the sign Capricorn, and the time of the day will 
be near the constellation Pisces, that is to say, exactly 
one hour and thirty-six minutes after sunrise, the hour 
of the end of Kali-Yug will strike, and the much desired 


Satya-Yug will commence" (that is to say, the end of 
the Maha-Yug, the great cycle that embraces the four 
minor Yiigas). "This time Satya-Yug will last i,ioo 
years. During all this time a man's lifetime will be 128 
years. The days will become longer and will consist 
of twenty hours and forty-eight minutes, and the nights 
of thirteen hours and twelve minutes, that is to say, 
instead of twenty-four hours we shall have exactly 
thirty-four hours and one minute. The first day of 
Satya-Yug will be very important for us, because it is 
then that will appear to us our new King with white 
face and golden hair, who will come from the far North. 
He will become the autonomous lyord of India. The 
Maya of human unbelief, with all the heresies over 
which it presides, will be thrown down to Patala" (sig- 
nifying at once hell and the antipodes), " and the 
Maya of the righteous and pious will abide with them, 
and will help them to enjoy life in Mretinloka" (our 

**L,et it also be known to everyone that, for the dis- 
semination'of this divine document, every separate copy 
of it will be rewarded by the forgiveness of as many sins 
as are generally forgiven when a pious man sacrifices to 
a Brahman one hundred cows. As for the disbelievers 
and the indifferent, they will be sent to Naraka" (hell). 
"Copied out and given, by the slave of Vishnu, Madlau 
Shriram, on Saturday, the 7th day of the first half of 
Shravan" (the fifth month of the Hindu year), "1801, of 
Shalivahan's era" (that is, 26th July, 1879). 

The further career of this ignorant and cunning 
epistle is not known to me. Probably the police put 
a stop to its distribution; however, this only concerns 
the wise administrators. But it splendidly illustrates, 
from one side, the credulity of the populace, drowned in 


superstition, and from the other the unscrupulousness of 
the Brahmans. 

Concerning the word Patala, which literally means 
the opposite side, a recent discovery of Swami Daya- 
nand Saraswati, whom I have already mentioned in the 
preceding letters, is interesting, especially if this dis- 
covery can be accepted by philologists, as the facts seem 
to promise. Dayanand tries to show that the ancient 
Aryans knew, and even visited, America, which in an- 
cient MSS. is called Patala, and out of which popular 
fancy constructed, in the course of time, something like 
the Greek Hades. He supports his theory by many 
quotations from the oldest MSS., especially from the 
legends about Krishna and his favourite disciple Arjuna. 
In the history of the latter it is mentioned that Arjuna, 
one of the five Pandavas, descendants of the moon 
dynasty, visited Patala on his travels, and there married 
the widowed daughter of King Nagual, called Illupl. 
Comparing the nanlies of father and daughter we reach 
the following considerations, which speak strongly in 
favour of Dayanand's supposition. 

(i) Nagual is the name by which the sorcerers of 
Mexico, Indians and aborigines of America, are still 
designated. Like the Assyrian and Chaldean Nargals, 
chiefs of ^e Magi, the Mexican Nagual unites in his 
person the functions of priest and of sorcerer, being 
served in the latter capacity by a demon in the shape of 
some animal, generally a snake or a crocodile. These 
Naguals are thought to be the descendants of Nagua, 
the king of the snakes. Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg 
devotes a considerable amount of space to them in his 
book about Mexico, and says that the Naguals are ser- 
vants of the evil one, who, in his turn, renders them but 
a temporary service. In Sanskrit, likewise, snake is 


Naga, and the ''King of the Nagas" plays an important 
part in the history of Buddha; and in the Purdnas there 
exists a tradition that it was Arjuna who introduced 
snake worship into Patala. The coincidence, and the 
identity of the names are so striking that our scientists 
really ought to pay some attention to them. 

(2) The name of Arjuna's wife Illupl is purely old 
Mexican, and if we reject the hypothesis of Swami Daya- 
nand it will be perfectly impossible to explain the actual 
existence of this name in Sanskrit manuscripts long 
before the Christian era. Of all ancient dialects and 
languages it is only in those of the American aborigines 
that you constantly meet with such combinations of con- 
sonants as pi, tly etc. They are abundant especially in 
the language of the Toltecs, or Nahuatl, whereas, neither 
in Sanskrit nor in ancient Greek are they ever found at 
the end of a word. Even the words Atlas and Atlantis 
seem to be foreign to the etymology of the European 
languages. Wherever Plato may have found them, it 
was not he who invented them. In the Toltec language 
we find thie root atl, which means water and war, and 
directly after America was discovered Columbus found 
a town called Atlan, at the entrance of the Bay of Uraga. 
It is now a poor fishing village called Aclo. Only in 
America does one find such names as Itzooatl, Zem- 
poaltecatl, and Popocatepetl. To attempt to explain 
such coincidences by the theory of blind chance would 
be too much, consequently, as long as science does not 
seek to deny Dayanand's hypothesis, which, as yet, it 
is unable to do, we think it reasonable to adopt it, be it 
only in order to follow out the axiom "one hypothesis is 
equal to another." Amongst other things Dayanand 
points out that the route that led Arjuna to America five 
thousand years ago was by Siberia and Behring's Straits. 


It was long past midnight, but we still sat listening to 
this legend and others of a similar kind. At length the 
innkeeper sent a servant to warn us of the dangers that 
threatened us if we lingered too long on the verandah 
on a moonlit night. The programme of these dangers 
was divided into three sections — snakes, beasts of prey, 
and dacoits. Besides the cobra and the "rock-snake," 
the surrounding mountains are full of a kind of very 
small mountain snake, called furzen, the most dangerous 
of all. Their poison kills with the swiftness of lightning. 
The moonlight attracts them, and whole parties of these 
uninvited guests crawl up to the verandahs of houses, 
in order to warm themselves. Here they are more snug 
than on the wet ground. The verdant and perfumed 
abyss below our- verandah happened, too, to be the 
favourite resort of tigers and leopards, who come thither 
to quench their thirst at the broad brook which runs 
along the bottom, and then wander until daybreak under 
the windows of the.. bungalow. I^astly, there were the 
mad dacoits, whose dens are scattered in mountains 
inaccessible to the police, who often shoot -Europeans 
simply to afford themselves the pleasure of sending ad 
patres one of the hateful bellatis (foreigners). Three 
days before our arrival the wife of a Brahman disap- 
peared, carried off by a tiger, and two favourite dogs of 
the commandant were killed by snakes. We declined 
to wait for further explanations, but hurried to our rooms. 
At daybreak we were to start for Karli, six miles from 
this place. 


At five o'clock in the morning we had already arrived 
at the limit, not only of driveable, but, even, of rideable 
roads. Our bullock-cart could go no further. The last 
half mile was nothing but a rough sea of stones. We 
had either to give up our enterprise, or to climb on all- 
fours up an almost perpendicular slope two hundred feet 
high. We were utterly at our wits' end, and meekly 
gazed at the historical mass before us, not knowing what 
to do next. Almost at the summit of the mountain, 
under the overhanging rocks, were a dozen black open- 
ings. Hundreds of pilgrims were crawling upwards, 
looking, in their holiday dresses, like so many green, 
pink, and blue ants. Here, however, our faithful Hindu 
friends came to our rescue. One of them, putting the 
palm of his hand to his mouth, produced a strident sound 
something' between a shriek and a whistle. This signal 
was answered from above by an echo, and the next 
moment several half naked Brahmans, hereditary watch- 
men of the temple, began to descend the rocks as 
swiftly and skilfully as wild cats. Five mjnutes later 
they were with us, fastening round our bodies strong 
leathern straps, and rather dragging than leading us 
upwards. Half an hour later, exhausted but perfectly 
safe, we stood before the porch of the chief temple, 
which until then had been hidden from us by giant trees 
and cactuses. 

This majestic entrance, resting on four massive pillars 
which form a quadrangle, is fifty-two feet wide and is 
covered with ancient moss and carvings. Before it 


Stands the "lion column," so-called from the four lions 
carved as large as nature, and seated back to back, at its 
base. Over the principal entrance, its sides covered with 
colossal male and female figures, is a huge arch, in front 
of which three gigantic elephants are sculptured in relief, 
with heads and trunks that project from the wall. The 
shape of the temple is oval. It is 128 feet long and fort}- 
six feet wide. The central space is separated on each side 
from the aisles by forty-two pillars, which sustain the 
cupola-shaped ceiling. Further on is an altar, which 
divides the first dome from a second one which rises 
over a small chamber, formerly used by the ancient 
Aryan priests for an inner, secret altar. Two side pas- 
sages leading towards it come to a sudden end, which 
suggests that, once upon a time, either doors or walls 
were there which exist no longer. Each of the forty-two 
pillars has a pedestal, an octagonal shaft, and a capital, 
described by Fergusson as "of the most exquisite work- 
manship, representing two kneeling elephants sur- 
mounted by a god and a goddess." Fergusson further 
says that this temple, or chaitya, is older and "better pre- 
served than any other in India, and may be assigned to 
a period about 200 years B.C., because Prinsep, who has 
read the inscription on the Silastamba pillar, asserts that 
the lion pill^ir was the gift of Ajmitra Ukasa, son of Saha 
Ravisobhoti, and another inscription shows that the 
temple was visited by Dathama Hara, otherwise Datha- 
hamini. King of Ceylon, in the twentieth year of his 
reign, that is to say, 163 years before our era. For some 
reason or other, Dr. Stevenson points to seventy years 
B.C. as the date, asserting that Karlen, or Karli, was 
built by the Emperor Devobhuti, under the supervision 
of Dhanu-Kakata. But how can this be maintained in 
view of the above-mentioned perfectly authentic inscrip- 


tions? Even Fergusson, the celebrated defender of the 
Egyptian antiquities and hostile critic of those of India, 
insists that Karli belongs to the erections of the third 
century B.C., adding that **the disposition of the various 
parts of its architecture is identical with the architecture 
of the choirs of the Gothic period, and the polygonal 
apsides of cathedrals." 

Above the chief entrance is found a gallery, which 
reminds one of the choirs, where, in Catholic churches, 
the organ is placed. Besides the chief entrance there 
are two lateral entrances, leading to the aisles of the 
temple, and over the gallery there is a single spacious 
window in the vShape of a horseshoe, so that the light 
falls on the daghopa (altar) entirely from above, leaving 
the aisles, sheltered b}^ the pillars, in obscurity, which 
increases as you approach the further end of the build- 
ing. To the eyes of a spectator standing at the entrance, 
the whole daghopa shines with light, and behind it is 
nothing but impenetrable darkness, where no profane 
footsteps were permitted to tread. A figure on the dag- 
hopa, from the summit of which "Raja priests" used to 
pronounce verdicts to the people, is called Dharma-Raja, 
from Dharma, the Hindu Minos. Above the temple are 
two stories of caves, in each of which are wide open 
galleries formed by huge carved pillars, an^ from these 
galleries an opening leads to roomy cells and corridors, 
sometimes very long, but quite useless, as they invariably 
come to an abrupt termination at solid walls, without the 
trace of an issue of any kind. The guardians of the 
temple have either lost the secret of further caves, or 
conceal them jealously from Europeans. 

Besides the Vih^ras already described, there are many 
others, scattered over the slope of the mountain. These 
temple-monasteries are all smaller than the first, but, 


according to the opinion of some archaeologists, they are 
much older. To what century or epoch they belong is 
not known except to a few Brahmans, who keep silence. 
Generally speaking, the position of a European archae- 
ologist in India is very sad. The masses, drowned in 
superstition, are utterly unable to be of any use to him, 
and the learned Brahmans, initiated into the mysteries 
of secret libraries in pagodas, do all they can to prevent 
archaeological research. However, after all that has 
happened, it would be unjust to blame the conduct of 
the Brahmans in these matters. The bitter experience 
of many centuries has taught them that their only 
weapons are distrust and circumspection, without these 
their national history and the most sacred of their trea- 
sures would be irrevocably lost. Political coups d'etat 
which have shaken their country to its foundation, 
Mussulman invasions that proved so fatal to its welfare, 
the all-destructive fanaticism of Mussulman vandals and 
of Catholic padres, who are ready for anything in order 
to secure manuscripts and destroy them — alj, these form 
a good excuse for the action of the Brahmans. How- 
ever, in spite of these manifold destructive tendencies, 
there exist in many places in India vast libraries capable 
of pouring a bright and new light, not only on the his- 
tory of India itself, but also on the darkest problems of 
universal history. Some of these libraries, filled with 
the most precious manuscripts, are in the possession of 
native princes and of pagodas attached to their terri- 
tories, but the greater part is in the hands of the Jainas 
(the oldest of Hindu sects) and of the Rajputana Takurs, 
whose ancient hereditary castles are scattered all over 
Rajistan, like so many eagles' nests on high rocks. The 
existence of the celebrated collections in Jassulmer and 
Patana is not unknown to the Government, but they 


remain wholly beyond its reach. The manuscripts are 
written in an ancient and now completely forgotten 
language, intelligible only to the high priests and their 
initiated librarians. One thick folio is so sacred and 
inviolable that it rests on a heavy golden chain in the 
centre of the temple of Chintamani in Jassulmer, and is 
taken down only to be dusted and rebound at the advent 
of each new pontiff. This is the work of Somaditya 
Suru Acharya, a great priest of the pre- Mussulman time, 
well-known in histor^^ . His mantle is still preserved in 
the temple, and forms the robe of initiation of every new 
high priest. Colonel James Tod, who spent so many 
years in India and gained the love of the people as well 
as of the Brahmans — a most uncommon trait in the bio- 
graphy of any Anglo-Indian — has written the only true 
history of India, but even he was never allowed to touch 
this folio. Natives commonly believe that he was offered 
initiation into the mysteries at the price of the adoption 
of their religion. Being a devoted archaeologist he 
almost resolved to do so, but, having to return to Eng- 
land on account of his health, he left this world before 
he could return to his adopted country, and thus the 
enigma of this new book of the sibyl remains unsolved. 
The Takurs of Rajputana, who are said to possess 
some of the underground libraries, occupy in India a 
position similar to the position of European feudal 
barons of the Middle Ages. Nominally they are depen- 
dent on some of the native princes or on the British 
Government; but de facto thej^ are perfectly independent. 
Their castles are built on high rocks, and besides the 
natural difficulty of entering them, their possessors 
are made doubly unreachable by the fact that long 
secret passages exist in every such castle, known only to 
the present owner and confided to his heir only at his 



death. We have visited two such underground halls, 
one of them big enough to contain a whole village. No 
torture would ever induce the owners to disclose the 
secret of their entrances, but the Yogis and the initiated 
Adepts come and go freely, entirely trusted by the 

A similar story is told concerning the libraries and 
subterranean passages of Karli. As for the archaeolo- 
gists, they are unable even to determine whether this 
temple was built by Buddhists or Brahmans. The huge 
daghopa that hides the holy of holies from the eyes of 
the worshippers is sheltered by a mushroom-shaped roof, 
and resembles a low minaret with a cupola. Roofs of 
this description are called "umbrellas," and usually 
shelter the statues of Buddha and of the Chinese sages. 
But, on the other hand, the worshippers of Shiva, who 
possess the temple nowadays, assert that this low build- 
ing is nothing but a lingam of Shiva. Besides, the 
carvings of gods and goddesses cut out of the rock for- 
bid one to think that the temple is the production of the 
Buddhists. Fergusson writes, ''What is this monument 
of antiquity? Does it belong to the Hindus, or to the 
Buddhists? Has it been built upon plans drawn since 
the death of Sakya Sing, or does it belong to a more 
ancient reMgion?" 

That is the question. If Fergusson, being bound by 
facts existing in inscriptions to acknowledge the anti- 
quity of Karli, will still persist in asserting that Ele- 
phanta is of much later date, he will scarcely be able to 
solve this dilemma, because the two styles are exactly 
the same, and the carvings of the latter are still more 
magnificent. To ascribe the temples of Klephanta and 
Kanari to the Buddhists, and to say that their respective 
periods correspond to the fourth and fifth centuries in 



the first case, and the tenth in the second, is to introduce 
into history a very strange and unfounded anachronism. 
After the first century a.d. there was not left a single 
influential Buddhist in India. Conquered and perse- 
cuted by the Brahmans, they emigrated by thousands to 
Ceylon and the trans-Himalayan districts. After the 
death of King Asoka, Buddhism speedily broke down, 
and in a short time was entirely displaced by the theo- 
cratic Brahmanism. 

Fergusson's hypothesis that the followers of Sakya 
Sing, driven out by intolerance from the continent, 
probably sought shelter on the islands that surround 
Bombay, would hardly sustain critical analysis. Ble- 
phanta and Salsetta are quite near to Bombay, two and 
five miles distant respectively, and they are full of 
ancient Hindu temples. Is it credible, then, that the 
Brahmans, at the culminating point of their power, just 
before the Mussulman invasions, fanatical as they were, 
and mortal enemies of the Buddhists, would allow these 
hated heretics to build temples within their possessions 
in general and on Gharipuri in particular, this latter 
being an island consecrated to their Hindu pagodas? 
It is not necessary to be either a specialist, an architect, 
or an eminent archaeologist, in order to be convinced at 
the first glance that such temples as Elephamta are the 
work of Cyclopses, requiring centuries and not years for 
their construction. Whereas in Karli everything is 
built and carved after a perfect plan, in Blephauta it 
seems as if thousands of different hands had wrought at 
different times, each following its own ideas and fashion- 
ing after its own device. All three caves are dug out of 
a hard porphyry rock. The first temple is practically a 
square, 130 feet 6 inches long and 130 feet wide. It 
contains twenty-six thick pillars and sixteen pilasters. 


Between some of them there is a distance of 12 or 1 6 feet, 
between others 15 feet 5 inches, 13 feet 3^ inches, and so 
on. The same lack of uniformity is found in the 
pedestals of the columns, the finish and style of which 
is constantly varying. 

Why, then, should we not pay some attention to the 
explanations of the Brahmans? They say that this 
temple was begun by the sons of Pandu, after "the great 
war," Mahabharata, and that after their death every true 
believer was bidden to continue the work according to 
his own notions. Thus the temple was gradually built 
during three centuries. Every one who wished to re- 
deem his sins would bring his chisel and set to work. 
Many were the members of royal families, and even 
kings, who personally took part in these labours. 

On the right hand side of the temple there is a corner 
stone, a lingam of Shiva in his character of Fructifying 
Force, which is sheltered by a small square chapel with 
four doors. Round this chapel are many colossal human 
figures. According to the Brahmans, these are statues 
representing the royal sculptors themselves' they being 
doorkeepers of the holy of holies, Hindus of the highest 
caste. Each of the larger figures leans upon a dwarf 
representative of the lower castes, which have been pro- 
moted by ,the popular fancy to the rank of demons 
(Pisachas). Moreover, the temple is full of unskilful 
work. The Brahmans hold that such a holy place could 
not be deserted if men of the preceding and present 
generations had not become unworthy of visiting it. As 
to Kanari or Kanhari, and some other cave temples, 
there is not the slightest doubt that they were all erected 
by Buddhists. In some of them were found inscriptions 
in a perfect state of preservation, and their style does not 
remind one in the least of the symbolical buildings of 


the Brahmans. Archbishop Heber thinks the Kanari 
caves were built in the first or second centuries B.C. 
But Elephanta is much older and must be classed among 
prehistoric monuments, that is to say, its date must be 
assigned to the epoch that immediately followed the 
"great war," Mahabharata. Unfortunately the date of 
this war is a point of disagreement between European 
scientists; the celebrated and learned Dr. Martin Haug 
thinks it is almost antediluvian, while the no less cele- 
brated and learned Professor Max Miiller places it as 
near the first century of our era as possible. 

The fair was at its culmination when, having finished 
visiting the cells, climbing over all the stories, and 
examining the celebrated "hall of wrestlers," we de- 
scended, not by way of the stairs, of which there is no 
trace to be found, but after the fashion of pails bringing 
water out of a deep well, that is to say, by the aid of 
ropes. A crowd of about three thousand persons had 
assembled from the surrounding villages and towns. 
Women were there adorned from the waist down in 
brilliant-hued saris, with rings in their noses, their ears, 
their lips, and on all parts of their limbs that could hold 
a ring. Their raven-black hair which was smoothly 
combed back, shone with cocoanut oil, and was adorned 
with crimson flowers, which are sacred to Shiva and to 
Bhavani, the feminine aspect of this god. 

Before the temple there were rows of small shops and 
of tents, where could be bought all the requisites for the 
usual sacrifices — aromatic herbs, incense, sandal wood, 
rice, gulab, and the red powder with which the pilgrim 
sprinkles first the idol and then his own face. Fakirs, 
bairagis, hosseins, the whole body of the mendicant 
brotherhood, was present among the crowd. Wreathed 


in chaplets, with long uncombed hair twisted at the top 
of the head into a regular chignon, and with bearded 
faces, they presented a very funny likeness to naked 
apes. Some of them were covered with wounds and 
bruises due to mortification of the flesh. We also saw 
some bunis, snake-charmers, with dozens of various 
snakes round their waists, necks, arms, and legs — models 
well worthy of the brush of a painter who intended to 
depict the image of a male Fury. One jadugar was 
especially remarkable. His head was crowned with a 
turban of cobras. Expanding their hoods and raising 
their leaf-like dark green heads, these cobras hissed 
furiously and so loudly that the sound was audible a 
hundred paces off. Their "stings" quivered like light- 
ning, and their small eyes glittered with anger at the 
approach of every passer-by. The expression, "the sting 
of a snake," is universal, but it does not describe accu- 
rately the process of inflicting a wound. The "sting" of 
a snake is perfectly 'harmless. To introduce the poison 
into the blood of a man, or of an animal, the snake must 
pierce the flesh with its fangs, not prick with its sting. 
The needle-like eye teeth of a cobra communicate with 
the poison gland, and if this gland is cut out the cobra 
will not live more than two days. Accordingly, the 
supposition of some sceptics, that the bunis cut out this 
gland, is quite unfounded. The term "hissing" is also 
inaccurate when applied to cobras. They do not hiss. 
The noise they make is exactly like the death-rattle of 
a dying man. The whole body of a cobra is shaken by 
this loud and heavy growl. 

Here we happened to be the witnesses of a fact which 
I relate exactly as it occurred, without indulging in ex- 
planations or hypotheses of any kind. I leave ' to 
naturalists the solution of the enigma. 


Expecting to be well paid, the cobra-turbaned buni 
sent us word by a messenger boy that he would like 
very much to exhibit his powers of snake-charming. 
Of course we were perfectly willing, but on condition 
that between us and his pupils there should be what Mr. 
Disraeli would call a ** scientific frontier."*' We selected 
a spot about fifteen paces from the magic circle. I will 
not describe minutely the tricks and wonders that we 
saw, but will proceed at once to the main fact. With 
the aid of a vaguda, a kind of musical pipe of bamboo, 
the buni caused all the snakes to fall into a sort of cata- 
leptic sleep. The melody that he played, monotonous, 
low, and original to the last degree, nearly sent us to 
sleep ourselves. At all events we all grew extremely 
sleepy without any apparent cause. We were aroused 
from this half lethargy by our friend Gulab-Sing, who 
gathered a handful of a grass, perfectly unknown to us, 
and advised us to rub our temples and eyelids with it. 
Then the buni produced from a dirty^bag a kind of round 
stone, something like a fish's eye, or an onyx with a 
white spot in the centre, not bigger than a ten-kopek 
bit. He declared that anyone who bought that stone 
would be able to charm any cobra (it would produce no 
effect on snakes of other kinds) paralyzing the creature 
and then causing it to fall asleep. Moreoyer, by his 
account, this stone is the only remedy for the bite of a 
cobra. You have only to place this talisman on the 
wound, where it will stick so firmly that it cannot be 
torn off until all the poison is absorbed into it, when it 
will fall off of itself, and all danger will be past. 

Being aware that the Government gladly offers any 
premium for the invention of a remedy for the bite of 
the cobra, we did not show any unreasonable interest on 
* Written in 1879. 



the appearance of this stone. In the meanwhile, the 
buni began to irritate his cobras. Choosing a cobra 
eight feet long, he literally enraged it. Twisting its tail 
round a tree, the cobra arose and hissed. The buni 
quietly let it bite his finger, on which we all saw drops 
of blood. A unanimous cry of horror arose in the 
crowd. But master buni stuck the stone on his finger 
and proceeded with his performance. 

**The poison gland of the snake has been cut out,'* 
remarked our New York colonel. "This is a mere 

As if in answer to this remark, the buni seized the 
neck of the cobra, and, after a short struggle, fixed a 
match into its mouth, so that it remained open. Then 
he brought the snake over and showed it to each of us 
separately, so that we all saw the death-giving gland in 
its mouth. But our colonel would not give up his first 
impression so easily. "The gland is in its place right 
enough," said he, "but how are we to know that it really 
does contain poison?" 

Then a live hen was brought forward arid, tying its 
legs together, the buni placed it beside the snake. But 
the latter would pay no attention at first to this new 
victim, but went on hissing at the buni, who teased and 
irritated it lentil at last it actually struck at the wretched 
bird. The hen made a weak attempt to cackle, then 
shuddered once or twice and became still. The death 
was instantaneous. Facts will remain facts, the most 
exacting critic and disbeliever notwithstanding. This 
thought gives me courage to write what happened fur- 
ther. Little by little the cobra grew so infuriated that 
it became evident the jadugar himself did not dare to 
approach it. As if glued to the trunk of the tree by its 
tail, the snake never ceased diving into space with its 


Upper part and trying to bite everything. A few steps 
from us was somebody's dog. It seemed to attract the 
whole of the buni's attention for some time. Sitting on 
his haunches, as far as possible from his raging pupil, he 
stared at the dog with motionless glassy eyes, and then 
began a scarcely audible song. The dog grew restless. 
Putting his tail between his legs, he tried to escape, but 
remained, as if fastened to the ground. After a few 
seconds he crawled nearer and nearer to the buni, whin- 
ing, but imable to tear his gaze from the charmer. I 
understood his object, and felt awfully sorry for the dog. 
But, to my horror, I suddenly felt that my tongue would 
not move. I was perfectly unable either to get up or 
even to raise my finger. Happily this fiendish scene was 
not prolonged. As soon as the dog was near enough, 
the cobra bit him. The poor animal fell on his back, 
made a few convulsive movements with his legs, and 
shortly died. We could no longer doubt that there was 
poison in the gland. In the meanwhile the stone had 
dropped from the buni's finger and he approached to 
show us the healed member. We all saw the trace of 
the prick, a red spot not bigger than the head of an 
ordinary pin. 

Next he made his snakes rise on their tails, and, Hold- 
ing the stone between his first finger and, thumb, he 
proceeded to demonstrate its influence on the cobras. 
The nearer his hand approached to the head of the 
snake, the more the reptile's body recoiled. I^ooking 
steadfastly at the stone they shivered, and, one by one, 
dropped as if paralyzed. The buni then made straight 
for our sceptical colonel, and made him an offer to try 
the experiment himself. We all protested vigorously, 
but he would not listen to us, and chose a cobra of a 
very considerable size. Armed with the stone, the 


colonel bravely approached the snake. For a moment 
I positively felt petrified with fright. Inflating its hood, 
the cobra made an attempt to fly at him, then suddenly 
stopped short, and, after a pause, began following with 
all its body the circular movements of the colonel's 
hand. When he put the stone quite close to the rep- 
tile's head, the snake staggered as if intoxicated, its 
hissing grew weak, its hood dropped helplessly on both 
sides of its neck, and its eyes closed. Drooping lower 
and lower, the snake fell at last on the ground like a 
stick, and slept. 

Only then did we breathe freely. Taking the sorcerer 
aside we expressed our desire to buy the stone, to which 
he easily assented, and, to our great astonishment, asked 
for it only two rupees. This talisman became my own 
property and I still keep it. The buni asserts, and our 
Hindu friends confirm the story, that it is not a stone 
but an excrescence. It is found in the mouth of one 
cobra in a hundred, between the bone of the upper jaw 
and the skin of the palate. This "stone" is not fastened 
to the skull, but hangs, wrapped in skin, from the palate, 
and so is very easily cut off; but after this operation the 
cobra is said to die. If we are to believe Bishu Nath, 
for that was our sorcerer's name, this excrescence con- 
fers upon tjie cobra who possesses it the rank of king 
over the rest of his kind. 

"Such a cobra," said the buni, "is like a Brahman, a 
Dwija Brahman amongst Shudras, they all obey him. 
There exists, moreover, a poisonous toad that also, 
sometimes, possesses this stone, but its efiect is much 
weaker. To destroy the effect of a cobra's poison you 
must apply the toad's stone not later than two minutes 
after the infliction of the wound ; but the stone of a 
cobra is effectual to the last. Its healing power is certain 



as long as the heart of the wounded man has not ceased 
to beat." 

Bidding us good-bye, the buni advised us to keep the 
stone in a dry place and never to leave it near a dead 
body, also, to hide it during the sun and moon eclipses, 
"otherwise," said he, **it will lose all its power." In 
case we were bitten by a mad dog, he said, we were to 
put the stone into a glass of water and leave it there 
during the night, next morning the sufferer was to drink 
the water and then forget all danger. 

"He is a regular devil and not a man!" exclaimed our 
colonel, as soon as the buni had disappeared on his way 
to a Shiva temple, where, by the way^ we were not 

"As simple a mortal as you or I," remarked the 
Rajput with a smile, "and, what is more, he is very 
ignorant. The truth is, he has been brought up in a 
Shivaite pagoda, like all the real snake-charmers. Shiva 
is the patron god of snakes, and the Brahmans teach the 
bunis to produce all kinds of mesmeric tricks by empiri- 
cal methods, never explaining to them the theoretical 
principles, but assuring them that Shiva is behind every 
phenomenon. So that the bunis sincerely ascribe to 
their god the honour of their * miracles.* " 

"The Government of India offers a re-^ard for an 
antidote to the poison of the cobra. Why then do the 
bunis not claim it, rather than let thousands of people 
die helpless?" 

"The Brahmans would never suffer that. If the 
Government took the trouble to examine carefully the 
statistics of deaths caused by snakes, it would be found 
that 710 Hhidu of the Shivaite sect has ever died from the 
bite of a cobra. They let people of other sects die, but 
save the members of their own flock." 


"But did we not see how easily he parted with his 
secret, notwithstanding we were foreigners. Why should 
not the English buy it as readily?" 

"Because this secret is quite useless in the hands of 
Europeans. The Hindus do not try to conceal it, because 
they are perfectly certain that without their aid nobody 
can make any use of it. The stone will retain its wonder- 
ful power only when it is taken from a live cobra. In 
order to catch the snake without killing it, it must be 
cast into a lethargj^ or, if you prefer the term, charmed. 
Who is there among the foreigners who is able to do 
this? Even amongst the Hindus, you will not find a 
single individual in all India who possesses this ancient 
secret, unless he be a disciple of the Shivaite Brahmans. 
Only Brahmans of this sect possess a monopoly of the 
secret, and not all even of them, only those, in short, 
who belong to the pseudo-Patanjali school, who are 
usually called Bhuta ascetics. Now there exist, scattered 
over the whole of In,4ia, only about half-a-dozen of their 
pagoda schools, and the inmates would rather part with 
their very lives than with their secret." 

"We have paid only two rupees for a secret which 
proved as strong in the colonel's hands as in the hands 
of the buni. Is it then so difficult to procure a store of 
these stones?" 

Our friend laughed. 

"In a few days," said he, "the talisman will lose all its 
healing powers in your inexperienced hands. This is the 
reason why he let it go at such a low price, which he is, 
probably, at this moment sacrificing before the altar of 
his deity. I guarantee you a week's activity for your 
purchase, but after that time it will only be fit to be 
thrown out of the window." 

We soon learned how true were these words. On the 


following day we came across a little girl, bitten by a 
green scorpion. She seemed to be in the last convul- 
sions. No sooner had we applied the stone than the 
child seemed relieved, and, in an hour, she was gaily 
playing about, whereas, even in the case of the sting of 
a common black scorpion, the patient suffers for two 
weeks. But when, about ten days later, we tried the 
experiment of the stone upon a poor coolie, just bitten 
by a cobra, it would not even stick to the wound, and 
the poor wretch shortly expired. I do not take upon 
myself to offer, either a defence, or an explanation of 
the virtues of the ** stone." I simply state the facts and 
leave the future career of the story to its own fate. The 
sceptics may deal with it as they will. Yet I can 
easily find people in India who will bear witness to my 

In this connection I was told a funny story. When 
Dr. (now Sir J.) Fayrer, who lately published his T/ia- 
natophidia, a book on the venomous snakes of India, a 
w^ork well known throughout Europe, he categorically 
stated in it his disbelief in the wondrous snake-charmers 
of India. However, about a fortnight or so after the 
book appeared amongst the Anglo-Indians, a cobra bit 
his own cook. A buni, who happened to pass by, readily 
offered to save the man's life. It stands to reason that 
the celebrated naturalist could not accept such an offer. 
Nevertheless, Major Kelly and other officers urged him 
to permit the experiment. Declaring that in spite of 
all, in less than an hour his cook would be no more, he 
gave his consent. But it happened that in less than an 
hour the cook was quietly preparing dinner in the 
kitchen, and, it is added. Dr. Fayrer seriously thought 
of throwing his book into the fire. 

The day grew dreadfully hot. We felt the heat of the 


rocks in spite of our thick-soled shoes. Besides, the 
general curiosity aroused by our presence, and the un- 
ceremonious persecutions of the crowd, were becoming 
tiring. We resolved to "go home," that is to say, to 
return to the cool cave, six hundred paces from the 
temple, where we were to spend the evening and to 
sleep. We would wait no longer for our Hindu com- 
panions, who had gone to see the fair, and so we started 
by ourselves 

On approaching the entrance of the temple we were 
struck by the appearance of a young man, who stood 
apart from the crowd and was of an ideal beauty. He 
was a member of the Sadhu sect, a *' candidate for saint- 
ship," to use the expression of one of our party. 

The Sadhus differ greatly from every other sect. 
They never appear unclothed, do not cover themselves 
with damp ashes, wear no painted signs on their faces, 
or foreheads, and do not worship idols. Belonging to 
the Adwaiti section of the Vedantic school, they believe 
only in Parabrahm (the great spirit). The* young man 
looked quite decent in his light yellow costume, a kind 
of nightgown without sleeves. He had long hair, and his 
head was uncovered. His elbow rested on the back of a 
cow, which was itself well calculated to attract attention, 
for, in addition to her four perfectly shaped legs, she had 
a fifth growing out of her hump. This wonderful freak 
of nature used its fifth leg as if it were a hand and arm, 
hunting and killing tiresome flies, and scratching its 
head with the hoof. At first we thought it was a trick to 
attract attention, and even felt offended with the animal, 
as well as with its handsome owner, but, coming nearer, 
we saw that it was no trick, but an actual sport of mis- 
chievous Nature. From the young man we learned that 


the COW had been presented to him by the Maharaja 
Holkar, and that her milk had been his only food during 
the last two years. 

Sadhus are aspirants to the Raj Yoga, and, as I have 
said above, usually belong to the school of the Vedanta. 
That is to say, they are disciples of initiates who have 
entirely resigned the life of the world, and lead a life 
of monastic chastity. Between the Sadhus and the 
Shivaite bunis there exists a mortal enmity, which 
manifests itself by a silent contempt on the side of the 
Sadhus, and on that of the bunis by constant attempts 
to sweep their rivals off the face of the earth. This 
antipathy is as marked as that between light and dark- 
ness, and reminds one of the dualism of the Ahura-Mazda 
and Ahriman of the Zoroastrians. Masses of people look 
up to the first as to Magi, sons of the sun and of the 
Divine Principle, while the latter are dreaded as danger- 
ous sorcerers. Having heard most wonderful accounts 
of the former, we were burning with anxiety to see 
some of the ''miracles" ascribed to them by some even 
among the Englishmen. We eagerly invited the Sadhu 
to visit our vihara during the evening. But the hand- 
some ascetic sternly refused, for the reason that we were 
staying within the temple of the idol-worshippers, the 
very air of which would prove antagonistic to him. We 
offered him money, but he would not touch it, and so we 

A path, or rather a ledge cut along the perpendicular 
face of a rocky mass 200 feet high, led from the chief 
temple to our vihara. A man needs good eyes, sure feet, 
and a very strong head to avoid sliding down the preci- 
pice at the first false step. Any help would be quite out 
of the question, for, the ledge being only two feet wide, 
no one could walk side by side with another. We had 


to walk one by one, appealing for aid only to the whole 
of our personal courage. But the courage of many of us 
was gone on an unlimited furlough. The position of 
our American colonel was the worst, for he was very 
stout and short-sighted, which defects, taken together, 
caused him frequent vertigos. To keep up our spirits we 
indulged in a choral performance of the duet from Norma, 
" Moriam' insieme," holding each other's hands the 
while, to ensure our being spared by death or dying all 
four in company. But the colonel did not fail to frighten 
us nearly out of our lives. We were already half way up 
to the cave when he made a false step, staggered, lost 
hold of my hand, and rolled over the edge. We three, 
having to clutch the bushes and stones, were quite 
unable to help him. A unanimous cry of horror escaped 
us, but died away as we perceived that he had succeeded 
in clinging to the trunk of a small tree, which grew on 
the slope a few steps below us. Fortunately, we knew 
that the colonel was 'good at athletics, and remarkably 
cool in danger. Still the moment was a critical one. The 
slender stem of the tree might give way at any moment. 
Our cries of distress were answered by the sudden 
appearance of the mysterious Sadhu with his cow. 

They were quietly walking along about twenty feet 
below us, on»such invisible projections of the rock that a 
child's foot could barely have found room to rest there, 
and they both travelled as calmly, and even carelessly, as 
if a comfortable causeway were beneath their feet, instead 
of a vertical rock. The Sadhu called out to the colonel 
to hold on, and to us to keep quiet. He patted the neck 
of his monstrous cow, and untied the rope by which he 
was leading her. Then, with both hands he turned her 
head in our direction, and clucking with his tongue, he 
cried "Chal!" (go). With a few wild goat-like bounds 


the animal reached our path, and stood before us motion- 
less. As for the Sadhu himself, his movements were 
as swift and as goat-like. In a moment he had reached 
the tree, tied the rope round the colonel's body, and put 
him on his legs again ; then, rising higher, with one effort 
of his strong hand he hoisted him up to the path. Our 
colonel was with us once more, rather pale, and with the 
loss of his pince-nez, but not of his presence of mind. 

An adventure that had threatened to become a tragedy 
ended in a farce. 

''What is to be done now?" was our unanimous in- 
quiry. **We cannot let you go alone any further." 

"In a few moments it will be dark and we shall be 
lost," said Mr. Y , the colonel's secretary. 

And, indeed, the sun was dipping below the horizon, 
and every moment was precious. In the meanwhile, the 
Sadhu had fastened the rope round the cow's neck 
again and stood before us on the pathway, evidently not 
understanding a word of our conversation. His tall, 
slim figure ^seemed as if suspended in the air above the 
*precipice. His long, black hair, floating in the breeze, 
alone showed that in him we beheld a living being and 
not a magnificent statue of bronze. Forgetting our 
recent danger and our present awkward situation. Miss 

X , who was a born artist, exclaimed: *.*I/)ok at the 

majesty of that pure profile; observe the pose of that 
man. How beautiful are his outlines seen against the 
golden and blue sky. One would say, a Greek Adonis, 
not a Hindu!" 

But the ''Adonis" in question put a sudden stop to 

her ecstasy. He glanced at Miss X with half-pity^ 

ing, half-kindly, laughing eyes, and said with his ringing 
voice in Hindi — 

"Bara-Sahib cannot go any further without the help 


of someone else's eyes. Sahib's eyes are his enemies. 
Let the Sahib ride on my cow. She cannot stumble." 

"I! Ride on a cow, and a five-legged one at that? 
Never! " exclaimed the poor colonel, with such a help- 
less air, nevertheless, that we burst out laughing, 

"It will be better for Sahib to sit on a cow than to lie 
on a chitta" (the pyre on which dead bodies are burned), 
remarked the Sadhu with modest seriousness. "Why 
call forth the hour which has not yet struck?" 

The colonel saw that argument was perfectly useless, 
and we succeeded in persuading him to follow the 
Sadhu's advice, who carefully hoisted him on the cow's 
back, then, recommending him to hold on by the fifth 
leg, he led the way. We all followed to the best of our 

In a few minutes more we were on the verandah of 
our vihara, where we found our Hindu friends, who had 
arrived by another path. We eagerly related all our 
adventures, and thefa looked for the Sadhu, but, in the 
meanwhile, he had disappeared together with his cow. 

"Do not look for him, he is gone by a road knowil 
only to himself," remarked Gulab-Sing carelessly. "He 
knows you are sincere in your gratitude, but he would 
not take your money. He is a Sadhu, not a buni," 
added he proudly. 

We remembered that it was reported this proud friend 
of ours also belonged to the Sadhu sect. "Who can 
tell," whispered the colonel in my ear, "whether these 
reports are mere gossip, or the truth?" 

Sadhu-Nanaka must not be confounded with Guru- 
Nanaka, a leader of the Sikhs. The former are Adwaitas, 
the latter monotheists. The Adwaitas believe only in 
an impersonal deity named Parabrahm. 

In the chief hall of the vihara was a life-sized statue 


of Bhavani, the feminine aspect of Shiva. From the 
bosom of this devaki streams forth the pure cold water 
of a mountain spring, which falls into a reservoir at her 
feet. Around it lay heaps of sacrificial flowers, rice, 
betel leaves and incense. This hall was, in consequence, 
so damp that we preferred to spend the night on the 
verandah in the open air, hanging, as it were, between 
sky and earth, and lit from below by numerous fires 
kept burning all the night by Gulab-Sing's servants, to 
scare away wild beasts, and, from above, by the light of 
the full moon. A supper was arranged after the Kastern 
fashion, on carpets spread upon the floor, and with thick 
banana leaves for plates and dishes. The noiselessly 
gliding steps of the servants, more silent than ghosts, 
their white muslins and red turbans, the limitless depths 
of space, lost in waves of moonlight, before us, and 
behind, the dark vaults of ancient caves, dug out by 
unknown races, in unknown times, in honour of an 
unknown, prehistoric religion — all these, our surround- 
ings, transported us into a strange world, and into 
distant epochs far different from our own. 

We had before us representatives of five different 
peoples, five different types of costume, each quite un- 
like the others. All five are known to us in ethno- 
graphy under the generic name of Hindus,j Similarly 
eagles, condors, hawks, vultures, and owls are known to 
ornithology as "birds of prey," but the analogous dif- 
ferences are as great. Bach of these five companions, a 
Rajput, a Bengali, a Madrasi, a Sinhalese and a Mah- 
ratti, is a descendant of a race, the origin of which 
European scientists have discussed for over half a cen- 
tury without coming to any agreement. 

Rajputs are called Hindus and are said to belong to 


the Aryan race; but they call themselves Surya-vansa, 
that is to say, descendants of Surya or the sun. 

The Brahmans derive their origin from Indu, the 
moon, and are called Indu-vansa ; Indu, Soma, or Chan- 
dra, meaning moon in Sanskrit. If the first Ar5^ans, 
appearing in the prologue of universal history, are Brah- 
mans, that is to say, the people who, according to Max 
Miiller, having crossed the Himalayas conquered the 
country of the five rivers, then the Rajputs are no 
Aryans ; and if they are Aryans they are not Brahmans, 
as all their genealogies and sacred books {Puranas) 
show that they are much older than the Brahmans ; and, 
in this case, moreover, the Aryan tribes had an actual 
existence in other countries of our globe than the much 
renowned district of the Oxus, the cradle of the Ger- 
manic race, the ancestors of Aryans and Hindus, in the 
fancy of the scientist we have named and his German 

The "moon" line begins with Pururavas (see the 
genealogical tree prepared by Colonel Tod from the 
MS. Pur anas in the Oodeypore archives), T:hat is to say, 
two thousand two hundred years before Christ, and 
much later than Ikshvaku, the patriarch of the Surya- 
vansa. The fourth son of Pururavas, Rech, stands at 
the head 0/ the line of the moon-race, and only in the 
fifteenth generation after him appears Harita, who 
founded the Kanshikagotra, the Brahman tribe. 

The Rajputs hate the latter. They say the children 
of the sun and Rama have nothing in common with 
the children of the moon and Krishna. As for the 
Bengalis, according to their traditions and history, they 
are aborigines. The Madrasis and the Sinhalese are 
Dravidians. They have, in turn, been said to belong to 
the Semites, the Hamites, the Aryans, and, lastly, they 


have been given up to the will of God, with the conclu- 
sion drawn that the Sinhalese, at all events, must be 
Mongolians of Turanian origin. The Mahrattis are 
aborigines of the West of India, as the Bengalis are 
of the East; but to what group of tribes belong these 
two nationalities no ethnographer can define, save per- 
haps a German. The traditions of the people them- 
selves are generally denied, because they are not in 
harmony with foregone conclusions. The meaning of 
ancient manuscripts is disfigured, and, in fact, sacri- 
ficed to fiction, if only the latter proceeds from the 
mouth of some favourite oracle. 

The ignorant masses are often blamed and found to 
be guilty of superstition for creating idols in the spiritual 
world. Is not, then, the educated man, the man who 
craves after knowledge, who is enlightened, still more 
inconsistent than these masses, when he deals with his 
favourite authorities? Are not half a dozen laurel- 
crowned heads allowed by him to do whatever they like 
with facts, to draw their own conclusions, according to 
their own liking, and does he not stone every one who 
would dare to rise against the decisions of these quasi- 
infallible specialists, and brand him as an ignorant fool ? 

lyCt us remember the case in point of I^ouis Jacolliot, 
who spent twenty years in India, who actually knew the 
language and the country to perfection, and who, never- 
theless, w^as rolled in the mud by Max Miiller, whose 
foot never touched Indian soil. 

The oldest peoples of Europe are mere babes com- 
pared with the tribes of Asia, and especially of India. 
And oh! how poor and insignificant are the genealogies 
of the oldest European families compared with those 
of some Rajputs. In the opinion of Colonel Tod, who 
for over twenty years studied these genealogies on the 


Spot, they are the completest and most trustworthy of the 
records of the peoples of antiquity. They date from 1,000 
to 2,200 years B.C., and their authenticity may often be 
proved by reference to Greek authors. After long and 
careful research and comparison with the text of the 
PurdnaSy and various monumental inscriptions, Colonel 
Tod came to the conclusion that in the Oodeypore 
archives (now hidden from public inspection), not 
to mention other sources, may be found a clue to the 
history of India in particular, and to universal ancient 
history in general. Colonel Tod advises the earnest 
seeker after this clue not to think, with some flippant 
archaeologists who are insufficiently acquainted with 
India, that the stories of Rama, the Mahabharata, 
Krishna, and the five brothers Pandu, are mere alle- 
gories. He affirms that he who seriously considers 
these legends will very soon become thoroughly con- 
vinced that all these so-called "fables" are founded on 
historical facts, by the actual existence of the descen- 
dants of the heroes, by tribes, ancient towns, and coins 
still extant ; that to acquire the right to pronounce a 
final opinion one must read first the inscriptions on the 
Inda-Prestha pillars of Purag and Mevar, on the rocks 
of Junagur, in Bijoli, on Aravuli and on all the ancient 
Jain a temples scattered throughout India, where are to 
be found numerous inscriptions in a language utterly 
unknown, in comparison with which the hieroglyphs 
will seem a mere toy. 

Yet, nevertheless. Professor Max Miiller, who, as 
already mentioned, was never in India, sits as a judge 
and corrects chronological tables as is his wont, and 
Europe, taking his words for those of an oracle, endorses 
his decisions. Et dest ainsi que s'ecrit Vhistoire. 

Talking of the venerable German Sanskritist's chron- 


ology, I cannot resist the desire to show, be it only to 
Russia, on what a fragile basis are founded his scientific 
discussions, and how little he is to be trusted when he 
pronounces upon the antiquity of this or that manuscript. 
These pages are of a superficial and descriptive nature, 
and, as such, make no pretence to profound learning, so 
that what follows may seem incongruous. But it must 
be remembered that in Russia, as elsewhere in Europe, 
people estimate the value of this philological light by 
the points of exclamation lavished upon him by his 
admiring followers, and that no one reads the Veda 
Bhashya of Swami Dayanand. It may even be that I 
shall not be far from the truth in saying that the very 
existence of this work is ignored, which may perhaps be 
a fortunate fact for the reputation of Professor Max 
Miiller. I shall be as brief as possible. When Professor 
Max Miiller states, in his Sahitya-Granthay that the 
Aryan tribe in India acquired the notion of God step by 
step and very slowly, he evidently ' wishes to prove that 
the Vedas are far from being as old as is supposed by 
some of his colleagues. Having presented, in due 
course, some more or less valuable evidence to prove 
the truth of this new theory, he ends with a fact which, 
in his opinion, is indisputable. He points to the word 
hira7iya-garbha in the mantrams, which, he trans- 
lates by the word **gold," and adds that, as the part of 
the Vedas called chanda appeared 3,100 years ago, the 
part called mantrams could not have been written earlier 
than 2,900 years ago. I,et me remind the reader that 
the Vedas are divided into two parts: chandas— slokas, 
verses, etc.; and mantrams— prayers and rhythmical 
hymns, which are, at the same time, incantations used 
in white magic. Professor Max Miiller divides the 
mantram ("Agnihi Poorwebhihi," etc.) philologically 


and chronologically, and, finding in it the word hiranya- 
garbha, he denounces it as an anachronism. The 
ancients, he says, had no knowledge of gold, and, there- 
fore, if gold is mentioned in this mantram it means that 
the mantram was composed at a comparatively modern 
epoch, and so on. 

But here the illustrious Sanskritist is very much mis- 
taken. Swami Dayanand and other pandits, who some- 
times are far from being Dayanand's allies, maintain that 
Professor Max Miiller has completely misunderstood 
the meaning of the term hira^iya. Originally it did not 
mean, and, when united to the word garbha, even now 
does not mean, gold. So all the Professor's brilliant 
demonstrations are labour in vain. The word hiranya 
in this mantram must be translated "divine light" — 
mystically a symbol of knowledge; analogically the 
alchemists used the term "sublimated gold" for "light," 
and hoped to compose the objective metal out of its raj^s. 
The two words, hirAnya-gaj^bha, taken together, mean, 
literally, the "radiant bosom," and, when used in the 
Vedas, designate the first principle, in whose bosom, 
like gold in the bosom of the earth, rests the light of 
divine knowledge and truth, the essence of the soul 
liberated from the sins of the world. In the mantrams, 
as in the chandas, one must alwa^^s look for a double 
meaning; (i) a metaphysical one, purely abstract, and 
(2) one as purely physical ; for everything existing upon 
the earth is closely bound to the spiritual world, from 
which it proceeds and by which it is reabsorbed. For 
instance Indra, the god of thunder, Surya, the sun-god, 
Vayu, god of the wind, and Agni, god of fire, all four 
depending on this first divine principle, expand, accord- 
ing to the mantram from hiranya-garbha, the radiant 
bosom. In this case the gods are the personifications of 


the forces of Nature. But the initiated Adepts of India 
understand very clearly that the god Indra, for instance, 
is nothing more than a mere sound, born of the shock 
of electrical forces, or simply electricity itself Surya is 
not the god of the sun, but simply the centre of fire in 
our system, the essence wheiice come firCy warmth ^ lights 
and so on ; the very thing, namely, which no European 
scientist, steering an even course between Tyndall and 
Schropfer, has, as yet, defined. This concealed meaning 
has totally escaped Professor Max Miillefs attention, 
and this is why, clinging to the dead letter, he never 
hesitates before cutting a Gordian knot. How then 
can he be permitted to pronounce upon the antiquity 
of the VedaSy when he is so far from the right under- 
standing of the language of these ancient writings. 

The above is a rcsiwie'oi Dayanand's argument, and to 
him the Sanskritists must apply for further particulars, 
which they will certainly find in his Rigvedadi Bhashya 

In the cave, every one slept soundly round the fire 
except m3^self None of my companions seemed to 
mind in the least either the hum of the thousand voices 
of the fair, or the prolonged, far-away roar of the tigers 
rising from the valley, or even the loud prayers of the 
pilgrims who passed to and fro all night long, never 
fearing to cross the steep passage which, even by day- 
light, caused us such perplexity. They came in parties 
of twos and threes, and sometimes there appeared a 
lonely unescorted woman. They could not reach the 
large vihara, because we occupied the verandah at its 
entrance, and so, after grumbling a little, they entered a 
small lateral cave something like a chapel, containing a 
statue of Devaki-Mata, above a tank full of water. Each 


pilgrim prostrated himself for a time, then placed his 
offering at the feet of the goddess and bathed in the 
"holy waters of purification," or, at the least, sprinkled 
some water over his forehead, cheeks, and breast. Iya.stly, 
retreating backwards, he knelt again at the door and 
disappeared in the darkness with a final invocation: 
"Mata, maha mata!" — Mother, O great mother! 

Two of Gulab-Sing's ser^-ants, with traditional spears 
and shields of rhinoceros skin, who had been ordered 
to protect us from wild beasts, sat on the steps of the 
verandah. I was unable to sleep, and so watched with 
increasing curiosity everything that was going on. The 
Takur, too, was sleepless. Every time I raised my eyes, 
heavy with fatigue, the first object upon which they fell 
was the gigantic figure of our mysterious friend. 

Having seated himself after the Eastern fashion, with 
his feet drawn up and his arms round his knees, the 
Rajput sat on a bench cut in the rock at one end of the 
verandah, gazing out into the silvery atmosphere. He 
was so near the abyss that the least incautious move- 
ment would expose him to great danger. But the granite 
goddess, Bhavani herself, could not be more immov- 
able. The light of the moon before him was so strong 
that the black shadow under the rock which sheltered 
him was c\oubly impenetrable, shrouding his face in 
absolute darkness. From time to time the flame of the 
sinking fires leaping up shed its hot reflection on the 
dark bronze face, enabling me to distinguish its sphinx- 
like lineaments and its shining eyes, as unmoving as the 
rest of the features. 

''What am I to think? Is he simply sleeping, or is he 
in that strange state, that temporary annihilation of 
bodily life? . . . Only this morning he was telling 
us how the initiate Raj -yogis were able to plunge into 


this State at will Oh, if I could only go to 

sleep. . . ." 

Suddenly a loud prolonged hissing, quite close to my 
ear, made me start, trembling with indistinct reminis- 
cences of cobras. The sound was strident and evi- 
dently came from under the hay upon which I rested. 
Then it struck one! two! It was our American alarum- 
clock, which always travelled with me. I could not 
help laughing at myself, and, at the same time, feeling 
a little ashamed of my involuntary fright. 

But neither the hissing, nor the loud striking of the 

clock, nor my sudden movement, that made Miss X 

raise her sleepy head, awakened Gulab-Sing, who still 
hung over the precipice. Another half hour passed. 
The far-away roar of the festivity was still heard, but 
everything round me was calm and still. Sleep fled 
further and further from my eyes. A fresh, strong wind 
arose, before the dawn, rustling the leaves and then 
shaking the tops of the trees that rbse above the ab3^ss. 
My attention became absorbed by the group of three 
Rajputs before me — by the two shield bearers and their 
master. I cannot tell why I was specially attracted at 
this moment by the sight of the long hair of the servants, 
which was waving in the wind, though the place they 
occupied was comparatively sheltered. I turned my eyes 
upon their Sahib, and the blood in my veins stood still. 
The veil of somebody's topi, which hung beside him, 
tied to a pillar, was simply whirling in the wind, while 
the hair of the Sahib himself lay as still as if it had been 
glued to his shoulders, not a hair moved, nor a single 
■fold of his light muslin garment. No statue could be 
more motionless. 

What is this then? I said to myself. Is it delirium? 
Is this a hallucination, or a wonderful inexplicable 


reality? I shut my eyes, telling myself I must look no 
longer. But a moment later I again looked up, startled 
by a crackling sound from above the steps. The long, 
dark silhouette of some animal appeared at the entrance, 
clearly outlined against the pale sky. I saw it in profile. 
Its long tail was lashing to and fro. Both the servants 
rose swiftly and noiselessly and turned their heads 
towards Gulab-Sing, as if asking for orders. But where 
was Gulab-Sing? In the place which, but a moment 
ago, he occupied, there was no one. There lay only the 
topi, torn from the pillar by the wind. I sprang up : a 
tremendous roar deafened me, filling the vihara, waken- 
ing the slumbering echoes, and resounding, like the 
softened rumbling of thunder, over all the borders of the 
precipice. Good heavens ! A tiger ! 

Before this thought had time to shape itself clearly in 
my mind, the sleepers sprang up and the men all seized 
their guns and revolvers, and then we heard the sound 
of crashing branchea, and of something heavy sliding 
down into the precipice. The alarm was general. 

"What is the matter now?" said the calm voice of 
Gulab-Sing, and I again saw him on the stone bench. 
"Why should you be so frightened?" 

"A tiger! Was it not a tiger?" came in hasty, 
questioning tones from Europeans and Hindus. 

Miss X — - trembled like one stricken with fever. 

^'Whether it was a tiger, or something else, matters very 
little to us now. Whatever it was, it is, by this time, at 
the bottom of the abyss," answered the Rajput yawning. 

"I wonder the Government does not destroy all these 

horrid animals," sobbed poor Miss X , who evidently 

believed firmly in the omnipotence of her Executive. 

"But how did you get rid of the 'striped one'?" in- 
sisted the colonel. " Has any one fired a shot?" 


"You Europeans think that shooting is, if not the 
only, at least the best way to get rid of wild animals. 
We possess other means, which are sometimes more 
efficacious than guns," explained Babu Narendro-Das- 
Sen. ** Wait until you come to Bengal, there you will 
have many opportunities to make acquaintance with the 

It was now getting light, and Gulab-Sing proposed to 
us to descend and examine the rest of the caves and the 
ruins of a fortress before the day became too hot, so, at 
half-past three, we went by another and easier way to 
the valley, and, happily, this time we had no adventures. 
The Mahratti did not accompany us. He disappeared 
without informing us whither he was going. 

We saw I^ogarh, a fortress which was captured by 
Sivaji from the Moguls in 1670, and the ruins of the 
hall, where the widow of Nana Farnavese, under the 
pretext of an English protectorate, became de facto the 
captive of General Wellesley in 1804, with a yearly 
pension of i2',ooo rupees. We then started for the village 
of Vargaon, once fortified and still very rich. We were 
to spend the hottest hours of the day there, from nine in 
the morning until four in the afternoon, and proceed 
afterwards to the historical caves of Birsa and Badjah, 
about three miles from Karli. 

At about two P.M. when, in spite of the huge punkahs 
waving to and fro, we were grumbling at the heat, 
appeared our friend the Mahratta Brahman, whom we 
thought we had lost on the way. Accompanied by half- 
a-dozen Daknis (inhabitants of the Dekhan plateau) he 
was slowly advancing, seated almost on the ears of his 
horse, which snorted and seemed very unwilling to 
move. When he reached the verandah and jumped 


down, we saw the reason of his disappearance. Across 
the saddle was tied a huge tiger, whose tail dragged in 
the dust. There were traces of dark blood in his half- 
opened mouth. He was taken from the horse and laid 
down by the doorstep. 

Was it our visitor of the night before? I looked at 
Gulab-Sing. He lay on a rug in a corner, resting his 
head on his hand and reading. He knitted his brows 
slightly, but did not say a word. The Brahman who had 
just brought the tiger was very silent too, watching 
over certain preparations, as if making ready for some, 
solemnity. We soon learned that, in the ejQS of a 
superstitious people, what was about to happen was a 
solemnity indeed. 

A bit of hair cut from the skin of a tiger that has been 
killed, neither by bullet, nor by knife, but by a **word," 
is considered the best of all talismans against his tribe. 

"This is a very rare opportunity," explained the 
Mahratti. *'It is very seldom that one meets with a 
man who possesses the word. Yogis and Sadhus do not 
generally kill wild animals, thinking it sinful to destroy 
any living creature, be it even a cobra or a tiger, so they 
simply keep out of the way of noxious animals. There 
exists only one brotherhood in India whose members 
possess all secrets, and from whom nothing in nature 
is concealed. Here is the body of the tiger to testify- 
that the animal was not killed with a weapon of any 
kind, but- simply by the word of Gulab-I,al-Sing. I 
found it, very easily, in the bushes exactly under our 
vihara, at the foot of the rock over which the tiger had 
rolled, already dead. Tigers never make false steps. . 
Gulab-I^al-Sing, you are a Raj-Yogi, and I salute you!" 
added the proud Brahman, kneeling before the Takur. 

**Do not use vain words, Krishna Rao!" interrupted 


Gulab-Sing. ''Get up; do not play the part of a 

"I obey you, Sahib, but, forgive me, I trust my own 
judgment. No Raj -Yogi ever yet acknowledged his 
connection with the brotherhood, since the time Mount 
Abu came into existence." 

And he began distributing bits of hair taken from the 
dead animal. No one spoke. I gazed curiously at the 
group of my fellow-travellers. The colonel, President 
of our Society, sat with downcast eyes, very pale. His 

secretary, Mr. Y , lay on his back, smoking a cigar 

and looking straight above him, with no expression in 
his eyes. He silently accepted the hair and put it in 
his purse. The Hindus stood round the tiger, and 
the Sinhalese traced mysterious signs on its forehead. 
Gulab-Sing continued quietly reading his book. 

The Birza cave, about six miles from Vargaon, is 
constructed on the same plan as Karli. The vault-like 
ceiling of the temple rests upon twenty-six pillars, 
eighteen feet' high, and the portico on four, twenty-eight 
feet high ; over the portico are carved groups of horses, 
oxen, and elephants, of the most exquisite beauty. The 
**Hall of Initiation" is a spacious, oval room, with pillars, 
and eleven very deep cells cut in the rock., The Bajah 
caves are older and more beautiful. Inscriptions may 
still be seen showing that all these temples were built 
by Buddhists, or, rather, by Jainas. Modern Buddhists 
believe in one Buddha only, Gautama, Prince of Kapila- 
vastu (six centuries before Christ) whereas the Jainas 
recognize a Buddha in each of their twenty-four divine 
teachers (Tirthankaras) the last of whom was the Guru 
(teacher) of Gautama. This disagreement is very em- 
barrassing when people try to conjecture the antiquity 


of this or that vihara or chaitya. The origin of the 
Jaina sect is lost in the remotest, unfathomed antiquity, 
so the name of Buddha, mentioned in the inscriptions, 
may be attributed to the last of the Buddhas as easily as 
to the first, who lived (see Tod's genealogy) a long time 
before 2,200 B.C. 

One of the inscriptions in the Baira cave, for instance, 
in cuneiform characters, says: "From an ascetic in 
Nassik to the one who is worthy, to the holy Buddha, 
purified from sins, heavenly and great." 

This tends to convince scientists that the cave was 
cut out by Buddhists. 

Another inscription, in the same cave, but over an- 
other cell, contains the following: "An agreeable ofier- 
ing of a small gift to the moving force [life], to the mind 
principle [soul], the well-beloved material body, fruit of 
Manu, priceless treasure, to the highest and here present. 

Of course the conclusion is drawn that the building 
does not belong to the Buddhists, but to the Brahmans, 
who believe in Manu. 

Here are two more inscriptions from Bajah caves. 
"An agreeable gift of the symbol and vehicle of the 
purified Saka-Saka." 

" Gift of the vehicle of Radha [wife of Krishna, symbol 
of perfection] to Sugata who is gone for ever." 

Sugata, again, is one of the names of Buddha. A new 
contradiction ! 

It was somewhere here, in the neighbourhood of Var- 
gaon, that the Mahrattis seized Captain Vaughan and his 
brother, who were hanged after the battle of Khirki. 

Next morning we drove to Chinchor, or, as it is called 
here, Chinchood. This place is celebrated in the annals 


of the Dekkan. Here one meets with a repetition in 
miniature of what takes place on a larger scale at L'hassa 
in Tibet. As Buddha incarnates in every new Dalai- 
I^ama, so, here, Gunpati (Ganesha, the god of wisdom 
with the elephant's head) is allowed by his father Shiva 
to incarnate in the eldest son of a certain Brahman 
family. There is a splendid temple erected in his 
honour, where the avatars (incarnations) of Gunpati 
have lived and received adoration for over two hundred 

This is how it happened. 

About 250 years ago a poor Brahman couple were 
promised, in sleep, by the god of wisdom that he would 
incarnate in their eldest son. The boy was named 
Maroba (one of the god's titles) in honour of the deity. 
Maroba grew up, married, and begot several sons, after 
which he was commanded by the god to relinquish the 
world and finish his days in the desert. There, during 
twenty-two years, according to the legend, Maroba 
wrought miracles and his fame grew day by day. He 
lived in an impenetrable jungle, in a corner of the thick 
forest that covered Chinchood in those days. Gunpati 
appeared to him once more, and promised to incarnate 
in his descendants for seven generations. After this 
there was no limit to his miracles, so that the people 
began to worship him, and ended by building a splendid 
temple for him. 

At last Maroba gave orders to the people to bury 
him alive, in a sitting posture, with an open book in his 
hands, and never to open his grave again under penalty 
of his wrath and maledictions. After the burial of 
Maroba, Gunpati incarnated in his first-born, who began 
a conjuring career in his turn. So that Maroba-Deo I. 
was replaced by Chintaman-Deo I. This latter god had 


eight wives and eight sons. The tricks of the eldest of 
these sons, Narayan-Deo I., became so celebrated that 
his fame reached the ears of the Emperor Alamgir. In 
order to test the extent of his "deification," Alamgir 
sent him a piece of a cow's tail wrapped in rich stufi"s 
and coverings. Now, to touch the tail of a dead cow is 
the worst of all degradations for a Hindu. On receiving 
it Narayan sprinkled the parcel with water, and, when 
the stuffs were unfolded, there was found enclosed in 
them a nosegay of white syringa, instead of the ungodly 
tail. This transformation rejoiced the Kmperor so much 
that he presented the god with eight villages, to cover 
his private expenses. Narayan's social position and 
property were inherited by Chintaman-Deo II., whose 
heir was Dharmadhar, and, lastly, Narayan II. came 
into power. He drew down the malediction of Gunpati 
by violating the grave of Maroba. That is why his son, 
the last of the gods, is to die without issue. 

When we saw him, he was an aged man, about ninety 
years old. He was seated on a kind of platform. His 
head shook and his eyes idiotically stared without seeing 
us, the result of his constant use of opium. On his 
neck, ears, and toes, shone precious stones, and all 
around were spread offerings. We had to take off our 
shoes before we were allowed to approach this half- 
ruined relic. 

On the evening of the same day we returned to Bom- 
bay. Two days later we were to start on our long 
journey to the North- West Provinces, and our route 
promised to be very attractive. We were to see Nassik, 
one of the few towns mentioned by Greek historians, its 
caves, and the tower of Rama; to visit Allahabad, the 
ancient Prayaga, the metropolis of the moon dynasty, 


built at the confluence of the Ganges and Jumna; 
Benares, the town of five thousand temples and as many 
monkeys ; Cawnpur, notorious for the bloody revenge of 
Nana Sahib; the remains of the city of the sun, de- 
stroyed, according to the computations of Colebrooke, 
six thousand years ago; Agra and Delhi; and then, 
having explored Rajistan with its thousand Takur 
castles, fortresses, ruins, and legends, we were to go to 
Lahore, the metropolis of the Punjab, and, lastly, to stay 
for a while in Amritsar. There, in the Golden Temple, 
built in the centre of the "Lake of Immortality," 
was to be held the first meeting of the members of our 
Society, Brahmans, Buddhists, Sikhs, etc. — in a word, 
the representatives of the one thousand and one sects of 
India, who all sympathized, more or less, with the idea 
of the Brotherhood of Humanity of our Theosophical 


Bknarks, Prayaga (now Allahabad), Nassik, Hurd- 
war, Bhadrinath, Matura — these were the sacred places 
of prehistoric India which we were to visit one after the 
other; but to visit them, not after the usual manner of 
tourists, a vol d'oiscau^ with a cheap guide-book in our 
hands and a cicerone to weary our brains, and wear out 
our legs. We were well aware that all these ancient 
places are thronged with traditions and overgrown with 
the weeds of popular fancy, like ruins of ancient castles 
covered with ivy ; that the original shape of the building 
is destroyed by the cold embrace of these parasitic plants, 
and that it is as difficult for the archaeologist to form an 
idea of the architecture of the once perfect edifice, judg- 
ing only by the heaps of disfigured rubbish that cover 
the country, as for us to select from out the thick mass 
of legends good wheat from weeds. No, guides and no 
cicerone could be of any use whatever to us. The only 
thing they could do would be to point out to us places 
where once there stood a fortress, a castle, a temple, a 
sacred grove, or a celebrated town, and then to repeat 
legends wiiich came into existence only lately, under 
the Mussulman rule. As to the undisguised truth, the 
original history of every interesting spot, we should 
have had to search for these by ourselves, assisted only 
by our own conjectures. 

Modern India does not present a pale shadow of 
what it was in the pre-Christian era, nor even of the 
Hindostan of the da3'S of Akbar, Shah-Jehan and Au- 
rungzeb. The neighbourhood of every town that has 


been shattered by many a war, and of every mined 
hamlet, is covered with round reddish pebbles, as if 
with so many petrified tears of blood. But, in order to 
approach the iron gate of some ancient fortress, it is not 
over natural pebbles that it is necessary to walk, but 
over the broken fragments of some older granite re- 
mains, under which, very often, rest the ruins of a third 
town, still more ancient than the last. Modern names 
have been given to them by Mussulmans, who generally 
built their towns upon the remains of those they had 
just taken by assault. The names of the latter are 
sometimes mentioned in the legends, but the names of 
their predecessors had completely disappeared from the 
popular memory even before the Mussulman invasion. 
Will a time ever come for these secrets of the centuries 
to be revealed? 

Knowing all this beforehand, we resolved not to lose 
patience, even though we had to devote whole years to 
explorations of the same places, in order to obtain better 
historical information, and facts less disfigured than 
those obtained. by our predecessors, who had to be con- 
tented with a choice collection of naive lies, poured forth 
from the mouth of some frightened semi-savage, or some 
Brahman, unwilling to speak and desirous of disguising 
the truth. As for ourselves, we were differently situated. 
We v/ere helped by a whole society of educated Hindus, 
who were as deeply interested in the same questions as 
ourselves. Besides, we had a promise of the revelation 
of some secrets, and the accurate translation of some 
ancient chronicles, that had been preserved as if by a 

The history of India has long since faded from the 
memories of her sons, and is still a mystery to her 
conquerors. Doubtless it still exists, though, perchance, 


only partly, in manuscripts that are jealously concealed 
from every European eye. This has been shown by 
some pregnant words, spoken by Brahmans on their 
rare occasions of friendly expansiveness. Thus, Colonel 
Tod, whom I have already quoted several times, is said 
to have been told by a Mahant, the chief of an ancient 
pagoda-monastery: *' Sahib, you lose your time in vain 
researches. The Bellati India [India of foreigners] is 
before you, but you will never see the Gupta India 
[secret India]. We are the guardians of her mysteries, 
and would rather cut out each other's tongues than 

Yet, nevertheless. Tod succeeded in learning a good 
deal. It must be borne in mind that no Englishman 
has ever been loved so well by the natives as this old 
and courageous friend of the Maharana of Oodeypur, 
who, in his turn, was so friendly towards the natives 
that the humblest of them never saw a trace of con- 
tempt in his demeanour. He wrote before ethnology 
had" reached its present stage of developn^ent, but his 
book is still an authority on everything concerning 
Rajistan. Though the author's opinion of his work 
was not very high, though he stated that "it is nothing 
but a conscientious collection of materials for a future 
historian," stijl in this book is to be found many a thing 
undreamed of by any British civil servant. 

lyCt our friends smile incredulously. lyCt our ene- 
mies laugh at our pretensions *' to penetrate the world- 
mysteries of Ar^^avarta," as a certain critic recently 
expressed himself. However pessimistic may be our 
critics' views, yet, even in the event of our conclusions 
not proving more trustworthy than those of Fergusson, 
Wilson, Wheeler, and the rest of the archaeologists and 
Sanskritists who have written about India, still, I hope, 


they will not "be less susceptible of proof. We are daily- 
reminded that, like unreasonable children, we have 
undertaken a task before which archaeologists and his- 
torians, aided by all the influence and wealth of the 
Government, have shrunk dismayed; that we have taken 
upon ourselves a work which has proved to be beyond 
the capacities of the Royal Asiatic Society. 

Let it be so. 

Let everyone try to remember, as we ourselves re- 
member, that not very long ago a poor Hungarian, 
who not only had no means of any kind but was 
almost a beggar, travelled on foot to Tibet through 
unknown and dangerous countries, led only by the love 
of learning and the eager wish to pour light on the 
historical origin of his nation. The result was that 
inexhaustible mines of literary treasures were dis- 
covered. Philology, which till then had wandered in 
the Egyptian darkness of etymological labyrinths, and 
was about to ask the sanction of i;he scientific world to 
one of the ivildest of theories, suddenly stumbled on 
the clue of Ariadne. Philology discovered, at last, that 
the Sanskrit language is, if not the forefather, at least — 
to use the language of Max Miiller — *'the elder brother" 
of all classical languages. Thanks to the extraordinary 
zeal of Alexander Csoma de Koros, Tifeet yielded a 
language the literature of which was totally unknown. 
He partly translated it and partly analyzed and ex- 
plained it. His translations have shown the scientific 
world that (i) the originals of the Ze7id-Avcsta, the 
sacred scriptures of the sun-worshippers, of Tripitaka^ 
that of the Buddhists, and of Aytareya-Brahmanam, that 
of the Brahmans, were written in one and the same 
Sanskrit language ; (2) that all these three languages — 
Zend, Nepalese, and the modern Brahman Sanskrit — are 


more or less dialects of the first; (3) that old Sanskrit 
is the origin of all the less ancient Indo-European 
languages, as well as of the modern European tongues 
and dialects ; (4) that the three chief religions of heathen- 
dom — Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Brahmanism — are 
mere heresies of the monotheistic teachings of the Vedas, 
which does not prevent them from being real ancient 
religions and not modern falsifications. 

The moral of all this is evident. A poor traveller, 
without either money or protection, succeeded in gain- 
ing admittance to the Lamaseries of Tibet and to the 
sacred literature of the isolated tribe which inhabits it, 
probably because he treated the Mongolians and the 
Tibetans as his brothers and not as an inferior race — a 
feat which has never been accomplished by generations 
of scientists. One cannot help feeling ashamed of hu- 
manity and science when one thinks that he whose 
labours first gave to science such precious results, he 
who was the first soWer of such an abundant harvest, 
remained, almost until the day of his death, a poor and 
obscure worker. On his way from Tibet he walked to 
Calcutta without a penny in his pocket. At last Csoma 
de Koros became known, and his name began to be 
pronounced w^ith honour and praise whilst he w^as dying 
in one of the^ poorest parts of Calcutta. Being already 
very ill, he wanted to get back to Tibet, and started on 
foot again through Sikkhim. He succumbed to his ill- 
ness on the road and was buried in Darhjeeling. 

It is needless to say we are fully aware that what we 
have undertaken is simply impossible within the limits 
of ordinary new^spaper articles. All we hope to accom- 
plish is to lay the foundation stone of an edifice, whose 
further progress must be entrusted to future generations. 
In order to combat successfully the theories worked out 


by two generations of Orientalists, half a century of 
diligent labour would be required. And, in order to 
replace these theories with new ones, we must get new 
facts, facts founded not on the chronology and false 
evidence of scheming Brahmans, whose interest is to 
feed the ignorance of European Sanskritists (as, unfortu- 
nately, w^as the experience of Lieutenant Wilford and 
Louis JacoUiot), but on indubitable proofs that are to be 
found in inscriptions as yet undeciphered. The clue to 
these inscriptions Europeans do not possess, because, as 
I have already stated, it is guarded in MSS. which are 
as old as the inscriptions and which are almost out of 
reach. Even in case our hopes are realized and we 
obtain this clue, a new difficulty will arise before us. 
We shall have to begin a systematic refutation, page by 
page, of many a volume of hypotheses published by the 
Royal Asiatic Society. A work like this might be 
accomplished by dozens of tireless, never- resting Sans- 
kritists — a class which, even in Irfdia, is almost as rare 
as white elephants. 

Thanks to private contributions and the zeal of some 
educated Hindu patriots, two free classes of Sanskrit 
and Pali had already been opened — one in Bombay by 
the Theosophical Society, the other in Benares under 
the presidency of the learned Rama-Misra^-Shastri. In 
the present year, 1882, the Theosophical Society has, 
altogether, fourteen schools in Ceylon and India. 

Our heads full of thoughts and plans of this kind, we, 
that is to say, one American, three Europeans, and three 
natives, occupied a whole carriage of the Great Indian 
Peninsular Railroad on our way to Nassik, one of the 
oldest towns in India, as I have already mentioned, and 
the most sacred of all in the e3^es of the inhabitants of 
the Western Presidency. Nassik borrowed its name 


from the Sanskrit word "Nasika," which means nose. 
An epic legend assures lis that on this very spot Laksh- 
man, the eldest brother of the deified King Rama, cut 
off the nose of the giantess Sarpnaka, sister of Ravana, 
who stole Sita, the ''Helen of Troy" of the Hindus. 

The train stops six miles from the town, so that we had 
to finish our journey in six two- wheeled, gilded chariots, 
called ekkas, and drawn by bullocks. It was one o'clock 
A.M., but, in spite of the darkness of the hour, the horns 
of the animals were gilded and adorned with flowers, and 
brass bangles tinkled on their legs. Our way lay through 
ravines overgrown with jungle, where, as our drivers 
hastened to inform us, tigers and other four-footed 
misanthropes of the forest played hide-and-seek. How- 
ever, we had no opportunity of making the acquaintance 
of the tigers, but enjoyed instead a concert of a whole 
community of jackals. They followed us step by step, 
piercing our ears with shrieks, wild laughter and bark- 
ing. These animals lire annoying, but so cowardly that, 
though numerous enough to devour, not «3nly all of us, 
but our gold-horned bullocks too, none of them dared to 
come nearer than the distance of a few steps. Every 
time the long whip, our weapon against snakes, alighted 
on the back of one of them, the whole horde disappeared 
with unimagmable noise. Nevertheless, the drivers did 
not dispense with a single one of their superstitious 
precautions against tigers. They chanted mantrams in 
unison, spread betel over the road as a token of their 
respect to the Rajas of the forest, and, after every coup- 
let, made the bullocks kneel and bow their heads in 
honour of the great gods. Needless to say, the ekka, as 
light as a nutshell, threatened each time to fall with its 
passenger over the horns of the bullocks. We had to 
endure this agreeable way of travelling for five hours 


under a very dark sky. We reached the Inn of the 
Pilgrims in the morning at about six o'clock. 

The real cause of Nassik's sacredness, however, is not 
the mutilated trunk of the giantess, but the situation of 
the town on the banks of the Godavari, quite close to the 
sources of this river which, for some reason or other, are 
called by the natives Ganga (Ganges). It is to this magic 
name, probably, that the town owes its numerous magni- 
ficent temples, and the selectness of the Brahmans who 
inhabit the banks of the river. Twice a year pilgrims 
flock here to pray, and on these solemn occasions the 
number of the visitors exceeds that of the inhabitants, 
which is only 35,000. Very picturesque, but equally 
dirty, are^the houses of the rich Brahmans built on both 
sides of the way from the centre of the town to the 
Godavari. A whole forest of narrow pyramidal temples 
spreads on both sides of the river. All these new 
pagodas are built on the ruins of those destroyed by the 
fanaticism of the Mussulmans. A legend informs us 
that most of them rose from the ashes of the tail of the 
monkey god Hanuman. Retreating from Lanka, where 
the wicked Ravana, having anointed the brave hero's 
tail with some combustible stuff set it on fire, Hanuman, 
with a single leap through the air, reached Nassik, his 
fatherland. And here the noble adoruMent of the 
monkey's back, burned almost entirely during the 
voyage, crumbled into ashes, and from every sacred 
atom of these ashes, fallen to the ground, there rose a 

temple And, indeed, when seen from the 

mountain, these numberless pagodas, scattered in a most 
curious disorderly way, look as if they had really been 
thrown down by handfuls from the sky. Not only the 
river banks and the surrounding country, but every little 
island, every rock peeping from the water is covered 


with temples. And not one of them is destitute of a 
legend of its own, different versions of which are told by 
every individual of the Brahmanical community accord- 
ing to his own taste — of course in the hope of a suitable 

Here, as everywhere else in India, Brahmans are 
divided into two sects — worshippers of Shiva and wor- 
shippers of Vishnu — and between the two there is rivalry 
and warfare centuries old. Though the neighbourhood 
of the Godavari shines with a twofold fame derived from 
its being the birthplace of Hanuman and the theatre of 
the first great deeds of Rama, the incarnation of Vishnu, 
it possesses as many temples dedicated to Shiva as to 
Vishnu. The material of which the pagodas consecrated 
to Shiva are constructed is black basalt. And it is, 
exactly, the colour of the material which is the apple of 
discord in this case. The black material is claimed by 
the Vaishnavas as their own, it being of the same colour 
as the burned tail of Rama's ally. They try to prove 
that the Shivaites have no right to it. From the first 
days of their rule the English inherited endless law-suits 
between the fighting sectarians, cases decided in one law- 
court only to be transferred on appeal to another, and 
always having their origin in this ill-omened tail and 
its pretensions. This tail is a mysterious deus ex macJmia 
that directs all the thoughts of the Nassik Brahmans pro 
and contra. 

On the subject of this tail were written more reams 
of paper and petitions than in the quarrel about the 
goose between Ivan Ivanitch and Ivan Nikiphoritch ; 
and more ink and bile were spilt than there was mud in 
Mirgorod, since the creation of the universe. The pig 
that so happily decided the famous quarrel in Gogol 
would be a priceless blessing to Nassik, and the struggle 


for the tail. But unhappily even the "pig" if it hailed 
from "Russia" would be of no avail in India; for the 
English would suspect it at once, and arrest it as a 
Russian spjM 

Rama's bathing place is shown in Nassik. The ashes 
of pious Brahmans are brought hither from distant parts 
to be thrown into the Godavari, and so to mingle for ever 
with the sacred waters of Ganges. In an ancient MS. 
there is a statement of one of Rama's generals, who, 
somehow or other, is not mentioned in the Ramaya7ia. 
This statement points to the river Godavari as the frontier 
between the kingdoms of Rama, King of Ayodya (Oude), 
and of Ravana, King of Lanka (Ceylon). Legends and 
the poem oi Ramaya7ia state that this was the spot where 
Rama, while hunting, saw a beautiful antelope, and, in- 
tending to make a present to his beloved Sita of its skin, 
entered the regions of his unknown neighbour. No 
doubt Rama, Ravana, and even Hanuman, promoted, for 
some unexplained reason, to the rank of a monke}^ are 
historical personages who once had a real existence. 
About fifty 3^ears ago it was vaguely suspected that the 
Brahmans possessed priceless MSS. It was reported 
that one of these MSS. treats of the prehistoric epoch 
when the Ar>'ans first invaded the countrj^ and began an 
endless war with the dark aborigines of southern India. 
But the religious fanaticism of the Hindus never allowed 
the English Government to verify these reports. 

The most interesting sights of Nassik are its cave- 
temples, about five miles from the town. The day before 
we started thither, I certainly did not dream that a "tail" 
would have to play an important part in our visit to 
Nassik, that, in this case, it would save me, if not from 
death, at least from disagreeable and perhaps dangerous 
bruises. This is how it happened. 


As the difficult task of ascending a steep mountain 
lay before us, we decided to hire elephants. The best 
couple in the town was brought before us. Their owner 
assured us *'that the Prince of Wales had ridden upon 
them and was very contented." To go there and back 
and have them in attendance the whole day — in fact 
the whole pleasure-trip — was to cost us two rupees for 
each elephant. Our native friends, accustomed from 
infancy to this way of riding, were not long in getting 
on the back of their elephant. They covered him like 
flies, with no predilection for this or that spot of his 
vast back. They held on by all kinds of strings and 
ropes, more with their toes than their fingers, and, on 
the whole, presented a picture of contentment and com- 
fort. We Europeans had to use the lady elephant, as 
being the tamer of the two. On her back there were 
two little benches with sloping seats on both sides, and 
not the slightest prop for our backs. The wretched, 
undergrown youngsters seen in European circuses give 
no idea of the real size of this noble beast. The mahout, 
or driver, placed himself between the huge animal's 
ears whilst we gazed at the "perfected" seats ready for 
us with an uneasy feeling of distrust The mahout 
ordered his elephant to kneel, and it must be owned that 
in climbing qn her back with the aid of a small ladder 
I felt what the French call chair de poule. Our she- 
elephant answered to the poetical name of "Chanchuli 
Peri,", the Active Fairy, and really was the most obedient 
and the merriest of all the representatives of her tribe 
that I have ever seen. Clinging to each other we at last 
gave the signal for departure, and the mahout goaded 
the right ear of the animal with an iron rod. First the 
elephant raised herself on her fore-legs, which move- 
ment tilted us all back, then she heavily rose on her 


hind ones, too, and we rolled forwards, threatening to 
upset the mahout. But this was not the end of our 
misfortunes. At the very first steps of Peri we slipped 
about in all directions, like qiiivering fragments of 

The journey came to a sudden pause. We were 
picked up in a hasty way, replaced on our respective 
seats, during which proceeding Peri's trunk proved very 
active, and the journey continued. The very thought 
of the five miles before us filled us with horror, but we 
would not give up the excursion, and indignantly re- 
fused to be tied to our seats, as was suggested by our 
Hindu companions, who could not suppress their merry 
laughter. . . However, I bitterly repented this dis- 
play of vanity. This unusual mode of locomotion was 
something incredibly fantastical, and, at the same time, 
ridiculous. A horse carrying our luggage trotted by 
Peri's side, and looked, from our vast elevation, no 
bigger than a donkey. At every mighty step of Peri 
we had to be prepared for all sorts of unexpected 
acrobatic feats, while jolted from one side to the other 
by her swinging gait. This experience, under the 
scorching sun, unavoidably induced a state of body 
and mind something between sea-sickness and a de- 
lirious nightmare. As a crown to our pl^^asures, when 
we began to ascend a tortuous little path over the 
stony slope of a deep ravine, our Peri stumbled. This 
sudden shock caused me to lose mj^ balance altogether. 
I sat on the hinder part of the elephant's back, in the 
place of honour, as it is esteemed, and, once thoroughly 
shaken, rolled down like a log. No doubt, next moment 
I should have found m3^self at the bottom of the ravine, 
with some more or less sad loss to my bodily constitu- 
tion, if it had not been for the wonderful dexterity and 


instinct of the clever animal. Having felt that some- 
thing was wrong she twisted her tail round me, stopped 
invStantaneously and began to kneel down carefully. But 
my natural weight was too much for the thin tail of this 
kind animal. Peri did not lose hold of me, but, having 
at last knelt down, she moaned plaintively, though dis- 
creetly, thinking probably that she had nearly lost her 
tail through being so generous. The mahout hurried to 
my rescue and then examined the damaged tail of his 

We now witnessed a scene that clearly showed us the 
coarse cunning, greediness and cowardice of a low-class 
Hindu, of an outcast, as they are denominated here. 

The mahout very indifferently and composedly ex- 
amined Peri's tail, and even pulled it several times to 
make sure, and was already on the point of hoisting 
himself quietly into his usual place, when I had the 
unhappy thought of muttering something that ex- 
pressed my regret and compassion. My words worked 
a miraculous transformation in the mahout'^ behaviour. 
He threw himself on the ground, and rolled about like a 
demoniac, uttering horrible wild groans. Sobbing and 
crying he kept on repeating that the Mam-Sahib had 
torn off his darling Peri's tail, that Peri was damaged 
for ever in everybody's estimation, that Peri's husband, 
the proud Airavati, lineal descendant of Indra's own 
favourite elephant, having witnessed her shame, would 
renounce his spouse, and that she had better die. . . . 
Yells and bitter tears were his only answer to all remon- 
strances of our companions. In vain we tried to per- 
suade him that the "proud Airavati" did not show the 
slightest disposition to be so cruel, in vain we pointed 
out to him that all this time both elephants stood quietly 
together, Airavati even at this critical moment rubbing 


his trunk affectionately against Peri's ueck, and Peri not 
looking in the least discomfited by the accident to her 
tail. All this was of no avail ! Our friend Narayan lost 
his patience at last. He was a man of extraordinary 
muscular strength and took recourse to a last original 
means. With one hand he threw down a silver rupee, 
with the other he seized the mahout's muslin garment 
and hurled him after the coin. Without giving a 
thought to his bleeding nose, the mahout jumped at the 
rupee with the greediness of a wild beast springing upon 
its prey. He prostrated himself in the dust before us 
repeatedly, with endless "salaams," instantly changing 
his deep sorrow into mad joy. He gave another pull at 
the unfortunate tail and gladly declared that, thanks to 
the "prayers of the sahib," it really was safe; to demon- 
strate which he hung on to it, till he was torn away and 
put back on his seat. 

"Is it possible that a single, miserable rupee can have 
been the cause of all this?" we asked each other in utter 

"Your astonishment is natural enough," answered the 
Hindus. "We need not express how ashamed and how 
disgusted we all feel at this voluntary display of humilia- 
tion and greed. But do not forget that this wretch, who 
certainly has a wife and children, serves^ his emplojxr 
for twelve rupees a 3^ear, instead of which he often gets 
nothing but a beating. Remember also the long cen- 
turies of tyrannical treatment from Brahmans, from 
fanatical Mussulmans, who regard a Hindu as nothing 
better than an unclean reptile, and, nowada3^s, from the 
average Englishman, and maybe you will pity this 
wretched caricature of humanity." 

But the "caricature" in question evidently felt per- 
fectly happy and not in the least conscious of a humilia- 


tion of any kind. Sitting on the roomy forehead of his 
Peri, he was telling her of his unexpected wealth, re- 
minding her of her "divine" origin, and ordering her to 
salute the " sahibs " with her trunk. Peri, whose spirits 
had been raised by the gift of a whole stick of sugar- 
cane from me, lifted her trunk backwards and playfully 
blew into our faces. 

On the threshold of the Nassik caves we bid good- 
bye to the modern pigmy India, to the petty things of 
her everyday life, and to her humiliations. We re- 
entered the unknown world of India, the great and the 

The main caves of Nassik are excavated in a mountain 
bearing the name of Pandu-Lena, which points again to 
the undying, persistent, primaeval tradition that ascribes 
all such buildings to the five mythical (?) brothers of 
prehistoric times. The unanimous opinion of archae- 
ologists esteems these 'caves more interCvSting and more 
important than all the caves of Elephanta ijnd Karli put 
together. And, nevertheless — is it not strange ? — with the 
exception of the learned Dr. Wilson, who, it may be, was 
a little too fond of forming hasty opinions, no archae- 
ologist has, as yet, made so bold as to decide to what 
epoch they belong, by whom they were erected, and 
which of the three chief religions of antiquity was the 
one professed by their mysterious builders. 

It is evident, however, that those who wrought here 
did not all belong either to the same generation or to 
the same sect. The first thing which strikes the atten- 
tion is the roughness of the primitive work, its huge 
dimensions, and the decline of the sculpture on the solid 
walls, whereas the sculpture and carvings of the six 
coloSvsi which prop the chief cave on the second floor, 


are magnificently preserved and very elegant. This 
circumstance would lead one to think that the work 
was begun many centuries before it was finished. But 
when? One of the Sanskrit inscriptions of a com- 
paratively recent epoch (on the pedestal of one of the 
colossi) clearly points to 453 B.C. as the year of the 
building. At all events, Barth, Stevenson, Gibson, 
Reeves, and some other scientists, who being Westerns 
can have none of the prejudices proper to the native 
Pundits, have formed this conjecture on the basis of 
some astronomical data. Besides, the conjunction of 
the planets stated in the inscription leaves no doubt as 
to the dates, it must be either 453 B.C., or 1734 of our era, 
or 2640 B.C., which last is impossible, because Buddha 
and Buddhist monasteries are mentioned in the inscrip- 
tion. I translate some of the most important sentences : 
"To the most Perfect and the Highest! May this be 
agreeable to Him ! The son of King Kshaparata, Lord of 
the Kshatriya tribe and protector of people, the Ruler of 
Dinik, bright as the dawn, sacrifices a hundred thousand 
cows that graze on the river Banasa, together with the 
river, and also the gift of gold by the builder of this holy 
shelter of gods, the place of the curbing of the Brahmans' 
passions. There is no more desirable place than this 
place, neither in Prabhasa, where accumulate hundreds of 
thousands of Brahmans repeating the sacred verse, nor in 
the sacred city Gaya, nor on the steep mountain near 
Dashatura, nor on the Serpents' Field in Govardhana, 
nor in the city Pratisraya where stands the monastery of 
Buddhists, nor even in the edifice erected by Depana- 
kara on the shores of the fresh water [?] sea. This 
place, giving incomparable favours, is agreeable and 
useful in all respects to the spotted deerskin of an as- 
cetic. A safe boat given also by him who built the 


gratuitous ferry daily transports to the well -guarded 
shore. By him also who built the house for travellers 
and the public fountain, a gilded lion was erected by 
the ever- assaulted gate of this Govardhana, also another 
[lion] by the ferry-boat, and another by Ramatirtha. 
Various kinds of food will always be found here bj^ the 
scanty flock; for this flock more than a hundred kinds 
of herbs and thousands of mountain roots are stored 
by this generous giver. In the same Govardhana, in 
the luminous mountain, this second cave was dug by 
the order of the same beneficent person, during the very 
year when the Su7iy Shukra a?id Rahu, much respected by 
7ne7ty were in the full glory of their rise; it was in this year 
that the gifts were offered. I^akshmi, Indra and Yama 
having blessed them, returned with shouts of triumph 
to their chariot, kept on the way free from obstacles 
[the sky], by the force of mantrams. When they [the 
gods] all left, poured a heavy shower. . . " and so on. 

Rahu and Kehetti -are the fixed stars which form the 
head and the tail of the constellation of the Dragon. 
Shukra is Venus. Lakshmi, Indra and Yama stand here 
for the constellations of Virgo, Aquarius and Taurus, 
which are subject and consecrated to these three among 
the twelve higher deities. 

The first .?aves are dug out in a conical hillock about 
two hundred and eighty feet from its base. In the chief 
of them stand three statues of Buddha; in the lateral 
ones a lingam and two Jaina idols. In the top cave there 
is a statue of Dharma Raja, or Yudhshtira, the eldest of 
the Pandus, who is worshipped in a temple erected in his 
honour between Pent and Nassik. Farther on is a whole 
labyrinth of cells, where Buddhist hermits probably 
lived, a huge statue of Buddha in a reclining posture, 
and another as big, but surrounded with pillars adorned 


with figures of various animals. Styles, epochs and 
sects are here as much mixed up and entangled as 
different trees in a thick forest. 

It is very remarkable that almost all the cave temples 
of India are to be found inside conical rocks and moun- 
tains. It is as though the ancient builders looked 
for such natural pyramids purposely. I noticed this 
peculiarity in Karli, and it is to be met with only in 
India. Is it a mere coincidence, or is it one of the rules 
of the religious architecture of the remote past? And 
which are the imitators — the builders of the Egyptian 
pyramids, or the unknown architects of the under- 
ground caves of India? In pyramids as well as in caves 
everything seems to be calculated with geometrical 
exactitude. In neither case are the entrances ever at 
the bottom, but always at a certain distance from the 
ground. It is well known that nature does not imitate 
art, and, as a rule, art tries to copy certain forms of 
nature. And if, even in this similarity of the symbols of 
Egypt and India, nothing is to be found but a coinci- 
dence, we shall have to own that coincidences are some- 
times very extraordinary. Egypt has borrowed many 
things from India. We must not forget that nothing 
is known about the origin of the Pharaohs, and that the 
few facts science has succeeded in discovering, far from 
contradicting our theory, suggest India as the cradle of 
the Egyptian race. In the days of remote antiquity 
Kalluka-Bhatta wrote : *' During the reign of Visvamitra, 
first king of the Soma-Vansha dynasty, after a five days 
battle, Manu-Vena, the heir of ancient kings, was aban- 
doned by the Brahmans, and emigrated with his army, 
and, having traversed Arya and Barria, at last reached 
the shores of Masra " 

Arya is Iran or Persia; Barria is an ancient name of 


Arabia; Masr or Masra is a name of Cairo, disfigured by- 
Mussulmans into Misro and Musr. 

Kalluka-Bhatta is an ancient writer. Sanskritists still 
quarrel over his epoch, wavering between 2,000 years 
B.C., and the reign of the Emperor Akbar (the time of 
John the Terrible and Elizabeth of England). On the 
grounds of this uncertainty, the evidence of Kalluka- 
Bhatta might be objected to. In this case, there are the 
words of a modern historian, who has studied Eg>^pt all 
his life, not in Berlin or London, like some other his- 
torians, but in Egypt, deciphering the inscriptions of 
the oldest sarcophagi and papyri, that is to say, the 
words of Henry Brugsch-Bey: 

*'. . . I repeat, my firm conviction is that the 
Egyptians came from Asia long before the historical 
period, having traversed the Suez promontory, that 
bridge of all the nations, and found a new fatherland 
on the banks of the Nile." 

An inscription on "a Hammamat rock says that San- 
kara, the last Pharaoh of the eleventh dynasty, sent a 
nobleman to Punt: **I was sent on a ship to Punt, to 
bring back some aromatic gum, gathered by the princes 
ofthe Red Land." 

Commenting on this inscription, Brugsch-Bey explains 
that ''under^the name of Punt the ancient inhabitants of 
Chemi meant a distant land surrounded by a great 
ocean, full of mountains and valleys, and rich in ebony 
and other expensive woods, in perfumes, precious stones 
and metals, in wild beasts, giraffes, leopards and l)ig 
monkeys." The name of a monkey in Egypt was Kaflf, 
or Kafi, in Hebrew Koflf, in Sanskrit Kapi. 

In the eyes of the ancient Egyptians, this Punt w^as a 
sacred land, because Punt or Pa-nuter was "the original 
land of the gods, who left it under the leadership of 


A-Mon [Manu-Vena of Kalluka-Bhatta?] Hor and Hator, 
and duly arrived in Chemi." 

Hanunian has a decided family likeness to the Egyptian 
Cynocephalus, and the emblem of Osiris and Shiva is the 
same. Qui vivra vei'ra ! 

Our return journey was very agreeable. We had 
adapted ourselves to Peri's movements, and felt our- 
selves first-rate jockeys. But for a whole week after- 
wards we could hardly walk. 


What would be your choice if j^ou had to choose be- 
tween being blind and being deaf? Nine people out of 
ten answer this question by positively preferring deafness 
to blindness. And one whose good fortune it has been to 
contemplate, even for a moment, some fantastic fairy-like 
corner of India, this country of lace-like marble palaces 
and enchanting gardens, would willingly add to deafness, 
lameness of both legs, rather than lose such sights. 

We are told that Saadi, the great poet, bitterly com- 
plained of his friends looking tired and indifferent while 
he praised the beauty and charm of his lady-love. "If 
the happiness of contemplating her wonderful beauty," 
remonstrated he, "was yours, as it is mine, you could 
not fail to understand my verses, which, alas, describe 
in such meagre and inadequate terms the rapturous 
feelings experienced by- every one who sees her even 
from a distance!" 

I full}^ sympathize with the enamoured poet, but can- 
not condemn his friends who never saw his lady-love, 
and that is, why I tremble lest my constant rhapsodies 
on India should bore my readers as much as Saadi bored 
his friends. But what, I pray you, is the poor narrator 
to do, when new, undreamed-of charms are daily dis- 
covered in the lady-love in question? Her darkest 
aspects, abject and immoral as they are, and sometimes 
of such a nature as to excite your horror — even these 
aspects are full of some wild poetry, of originality, 
which cannot be met with in any other country. It is 
not unusual for a European novice to shudder with 


disgust at some features of local everyday life; but at 
the same time these very sights attract and fascinate the 
attention like a horrible nightmare. We had plenty of 
these experiences whilst our ecole buisso7iiere lasted. We 
spent these days far from railways and from 2cny other 
vestige of civilization. Happily so, because European 
civilization does not suit India any better than a fashion- 
able bonnet would suit a half naked Peruvian maiden, a 
true " daughter of Sun," of Cortes' time. 

All the day long we wandered across rivers and 
jungles, passing villages and ruins of ancient fortressCvS, 
over local-board roads between Nassik and Jubblepore, 
travelling with the aid of bullock cars, elephants, horses, 
and very often being carried in palks. At nightfall we 
put up our tents and slept anywhere. These days offered 
us an opportunity of seeing that man decidedly can sur- 
mount trying and even dangerous conditions of climate, 
though, perhaps, in a passive way, by mere force of habit. 
In the afternoons, when we, whitfe people, were very 
nearly fainting. with the roasting heat, in spite of thick 
cork topis and such shelter as we could procure, and 
even our native companions had to use more than the 
usual supplies of muslin round their heads — the Bengali 
Babu travelled on horseback endless miles, under the 
vertical rays of the hot sun, bareheaded, pjctected only 
by his thick crop of hair. The sun has no influence 
whatever on Bengali skulls. They are covered only on 
solemn occasions, in cases of weddings and great fes- 
tivities. Their turbans are useless adornments, like 
flowers in a European lady's hair. 

Bengali Babus are born clerks; they invade all rail- 
road stations, post and telegraph offices and Government 
law courts. Wrapped in their white muslin toga virilis, 
their legs bare up to the knees, their heads unprotected, 


they proudly loaf on the platforms of railway stations, 
or at the entrances of their offices, casting contemptuous 
glances on the Mahrattis, who dearly love their numerous 
rings and lovely earrings in the upper part of their right 
ears. Bengalis, unlike the rest of the Hindus, do not 
paint sectarian signs on their foreheads. The only 
trinket they do not completely despise is an expensive 
necklace; but even this is not common. Contrary to all 
expectations, the Mahrattis, with all their little effemi- 
nate ways, are the bravest tribe of India, gallant and 
experienced soldiers, a fact which has been demonstrated 
by centuries of fighting; but Bengal has never as yet 
produced a single soldier out of its sixty-five million 
inhabitants. Not a single Bengali is to be found in the 
native regiments of the British arm}^ This is a strange 
fact, which I refused to believe at first, but which has 
been confirmed by many English ofiicers and by Bengalis 
themselves. But with all this, they are far from being 
cowardly. Their wealthy classes do lead a somewhat 
effeminate life, but their zemindars and peasantry are 
undoubtedly brave. Disarmed by their present Govern- 
ment, the Bengali peasants go out to meet the tiger, 
which in their country is more ferocious than elsewhere, 
armed only with a club, as composedly as they used to 
go with riflj^s and swords. 

Many out-of-the-way paths and groves which most 
probably had never before been trodden by a European 
foot, were visited by us during these short days. Gulab- 
Lal-Sing was absent, but we were accompanied by a 
trusted servant of his, and the welcome we met with 
almost everywhere was certainly the result of the magic 
influence of his name. If the wretched, naked peasants 
shrank from us and shut their doors at our approach, the 
Brahmans were as obliging as could be desired. 


The sights around Kandesh, on the way to Thalner 
and Mhau, are very picturesque. But the effect is not 
entirely due to Nature's beauty. Art has a good deal to 
do with it, especially in Mussulman cemeteries. Now 
they are all more or less destroyed and deserted, owing 
to the increase of the Hindu inhabitants around them, 
and to the Mussulman princes, once the rightful lords of 
India, being expelled. Mussulmans of the present day 
are badly off and have to put up with more humiliations 
than even the Hindus. But still they have left many 
memorials behind them, and, amongst others, their 
cemeteries. The Mussulman fidelity to the dead is a 
very touching feature of their character. Their devotion 
to those that are gone is always more demonstrative 
than their affection for the living members of their 
families, and almost entirely concentrates itself on their 
last abodes. In proportion as their notions of paradise 
are coarse and material, the appearance of their ceme- 
teries is poetical, especially in India. One may pleasantly 
spend whole liQurs in these shad}^ delightful gardens, 
amongst their white monuments crowned with turbans, 
covered with roses and jessamine and sheltered with 
rows of cypresses. We often stopped in such places to 
sleep and dine. A cemetery near Thalner is especially 
attractive. Out of several mausoleums in a good state of 
preservation the most magnificent is the monument of 
the family of Kiladar, who was hanged on the city tower 
by the order of General Hislop in 1818. Four other 
mausoleums attracted our attention and we learned that 
one of them is celebrated throughout India. It is a 
white marble octagon, covered from top to bottom with 
carving, the like of which could not be found even in 
Pere La Chaise. A Persian inscription on its base 
records that it cost one hundred thousand rupees. 


By da}^ bathed in the hot rays of the sun, its tall minaret- 
like outline looks like a block of ice against the blue 
sky. By night, with the aid of the intense, phosphores- 
cent moonlight proper to India, it is still more dazzling 
and poetical. The summit looks as if it were covered 
with freshly fallen snow-crystals. Raising its slender 
profile above the dark background of bushes, it suggests 
some pure midnight apparition, soaring over this silent 
abode of destruction and lamenting what will never 
return. Side by side with these cemeteries rise 
the Hindu ghats, generally by the river bank. There 
really is something grand in the ritual of burning the 
dead. Witnessing this ceremony the spectator is struck 
with the deep philosophy underlying the fundamental 
idea of this custom. In the course of an hour nothing 
remains of the body but a few handfuls of ashes. A pro- 
fessional Brahman, like a priest of death, scatters these 
ashes to the winds over a river. The ashes of what once 
lived and felt, loved and hated, rejoiced and wept, are 
thus given back again to the four elements : to Earthy 
which fed it during such a long time and out of which it 
grew and developed ; to Fire, emblem of purity, that has 
just devoured the body in order that the spirit may be 
rid of everything impure, and may freely gravitate to 
the new sphere of posthumous existence, where every 
sin is a stumbling block on the way to "Moksha," or 
infinite bliss; to Air^ which it inhaled and through which 
it lived, and to Water, which purified it physically and 
spiritually, and is now to receive its ashes into her pure 

The adjective "pure" must be understood in the figu- 
rative sense of the man tram. Generally speaking, the 
rivers of India, beginning with the thrice sacred Ganges, 
are dreadfully dirty, especially near villages and towns. 


In these rivers about two hundred millions of people 
daily cleanse themselves from the tropical perspiration 
and dirt. The corpses of those who are not worth burn- 
ing are thrown in the same rivers, and their number is 
great, because it includes all Shudras, pariahs, and 
various other outcasts, as well as Brahman children 
under three years of age. 

Only rich and high-born people are buried pompousl3^ 
It is for them that the sandal-wood fires are lit after sun- 
set; it is for them that man trams are chanted, and for 
them that the gods are invoked. But Shudras must not 
listen on any account to the divine words dictated at 
the beginning of the world by the four Rishis to Veda- 
Vyasa, the great theologian of Aryavarta. No fires for 
them, no prayers. As during his life a Shudra never 
approaches a temple nearer than seven steps, so even 
after death he cannot be put on the same level with 
the ''twice-born." 

Brightly burn the fires, extending like a fiery serpent 
along the river. The dark outlines of strange, wildly- 
fantastical figures silently move amongst the flames. 
Sometimes they raise their arms towards the sky, as if 
in a prayer, sometimes they add fuel to the fires and 
poke them with long iron pitchforks. The dying flames 
rise high, creeping and dancing, sputtering, with melted 
human fat and shooting towards the sky whole showers 
of golden sparks, which are instantly lost in the clouds 
of black smoke. 

This on the right side of the river. Let us now see 
what is going on on the left. In the early hours of the 
morning, when the red fires, the black clouds of miasmas, 
and the thin figures of the fakirs grow dim and vanish 
little by little, when the smell of burned flesh is blown 
away by the fresh wind which rises at the approach of 


the dawn, when, in a word, the right side of the river 
with its ghotas plunges into stillness and silence, to be 
reawakened when the evening comes, processions of a 
different kind appear on the left bank. We see groups of 
Hindu men and women in sad, silent trains. They 
approach the river quietly. They do not cry, and have 
no rituals to perform. We see two men carrying some- 
thing long and thin, wrapped in an old red rug. Hold- 
ing it by the head and feet they swing it into the dirtj", 
yellowish waves of the river. The shock is so violent 
that the red rug flies open and we behold the face of a 
young woman tinged with dark green, who quickly dis- 
appears in the river. Further on another group ; an old 
man and two young women. One of them, a little girl 
of ten, small, thin, hardly fully developed, sobs bitterly. 
She is the mother of a still-born child, whose body is to 
be thrown in the river. Her weak voice monotonously 
resounds over the shore, and her trembling hands are 
not strong enough to lift the poor little corpse that is 
more like a tiny brown kitten than a human being. The 
old man tries to console her, and, taking the body in 
his own hands, enters the water and throws it right in 
the middle. After him both the women get into the 
river, and, having plunged seven times to purify them- 
selves from the touch of a dead body, they return home, 
their clothes Gripping with wet. In the meanwhile 
vultures, crows and other birds of prey gather in thick 
clouds and considerably retard the progress of the bodies 
down the river. Occasionally some half-stripped skele- 
ton is caught by the reeds, and stranded there helplessly 
for weeks, until an outcast, whose sad duty it is to busy 
himself all his life long with such unclean work, takes 
notice of it, and catching it by the ribs with his long 
hook, restores it to its highway towards the ocean. 


But let US leave the river bank, which is unbearably 
hot in spite of the early hour. L,et us bid good-bye to 
the watery cemetery of the poor. Disgusting and heart- 
rending are such sights in the eyes of a European ! And 
unconsciously we allow the light wings of reverie to 
transport us to the far North, to the peaceful village 
cemeteries where there are no marble monuments 
crowned with turbans, no sandal-wood fires, no dirty 
rivers to serve the purpose of a last resting place, but 
where humble wooden crosses stand in rows, sheltered 
by old birches. How peacefully our dead repose under 
the rich green grass! None of them ever saw these 
gigantic palms, sumptuous palaces and pagodas covered 
with gold. But on their poor graves grow violets and 
lilies of the valley, and in the spring evenings nightin- 
gales sing to them in the old birch-trees. 

No nightingales ever sing for me, either in the neigh- 
bouring groves, or in my own heart. The latter least 
of all. 

Let us stroll along this wall of reddish stone. It will 
lead us to a fortress once celebrated and drenched with 
blood, now harmless and half ruined, like many another 
Indian fortress. Flocks of green parrots, startled by our 
approach, fly from under every cavity of the old wall, 
their wings shining in the sun like so many flying 
emeralds. This territory is accursed by Englishmen. 
This is Chandvad, where, during the Sepoy mutiny, 
the Bhils streamed from their ambuscades like a mighty 
mountain torrent, and cut many an English throat. 

Tatva, an ancient Hindu book, treating of the geo- 
graphy of the times of King Asoka (250-300 B.C.), teaches 
us that the Mahratti territory spreads up to the wall of 
Chandvad or Chandor, and that the Kandesh country 


begins on the other side of the river. But English 
people do not believe in Taiva or in any other authority 
and want us to learn that Kandesh begins right at the 
foot of Chandor hillocks. 

Twelve miles south-east from Chandvad there is a 
whole town of subterranean temples, known under the 
name of Enkay-Tenkay. Here, again, the entrance is a 
hundred feet from the base, and the hill is pyramidal. 
I must not attempt to give a full description of these 
temples, as this subject must be worked out in a way 
quite impossible in a newspaper article. So I shall only 
note that here all the statues, idols, and carvings are 
ascribed to Buddhist ascetics of the first centuries after 
the death of Buddha. I wish I could content myself with 
this statement. But, unfortunately, messieurs les arche- 
ologues meet here with an unexpected difficulty, and a 
more serious one than all the difficulties brought on them 
by the inconsistencies of all other temples put together. 

in these temples there are more idols designated 
Buddhas than an3rwhere 'else. They cover the main 
entrance, sit in thick rows along the balconies, occupy 
the inner walls of the cells, watch the entrances of all 
the doors like monster giants, and two of them sit in the 
chief tank, where spring water washes them century after 
century without any harm to their granite bodies. Some 
of these Buddhas are decently clad, with pyramidal 
pagodas as their head gear; others are naked; some sit, 
others stand ; some are real colossi, soine tiny, some of 
middle size. However, all this would not matter; we 
may go so far as to overlook the fact of Gautama's or 
Siddhartha- Buddha's reform consisting precisely in his 
earnest desire to tear up by the roots the Brahmanical 
idol-worship. Though, of course, we cannot help re- 


membering that his religion remained pure from idol- 
worship of any kind during centuries, until the Lamas 
of Tibet, the Chinese, the Burmese, and the Siamese 
taking it into their lands disfigured it, and spoilt it with 
heresies. We cannot forget that, persecuted by conquer- 
ing Brahmans, and expelled from India, it found, at last, 
a shelter in Ceylon where it still flourishes like the 
legendary aloe, which is said to blossom once in its life- 
time and then to die, as the root is killed by the exuber- 
ance of blossom, and the seeds cannot produce anything 
but weeds. All this we may overlook, as I said before. 
But the difficulty of the archaeologists still exists, if not 
in the fact of idols being ascribed to early Buddhists, 
then in the physiognomies, in the type of all these 
Bnkay-Tenkay Buddhas. They all, from the tiniest to 
the hugest, are Negroes, with flat noses, thick lips, forty- 
five degrees of the facial angle, and curly hair! There 
is not the slightest likeness between these negro faces 
and any of the Siamese or Tibetan Buddhas, which all 
have purely Mongolian features and perfectly straight 
hair. This unexpected African type, unheard of in 
India, upsets the antiquarians entirely. This is why 
the archaeologists avoid mentioning these caves. Enkay- 
Tenkay is a worse difficulty for them than even Nassik ; 
they find it as hard to conquer as the Persians found 

We passed by Maleganva and Chikalval, where we 
exanvined an exceedingly curious ancient temple of the 
Jainas. No cement was used in the building of its 
outer walls, they consist entirely of square stones, which 
are so well wrought and so closely joined that the blade 
of the thinnest knife cannot be pushed between two of 
them ; the interior of the temple is richly decorated. 


On our way back we did not stop in Thalner, but 
went straight on to Ghara. There we had to hire ele- 
phants again to visit the splendid ruins of Mandu, once 
a strongly fortified town, about twenty miles due north- 
east of this place. This time we got there speedily 
and safely. I mention this place because some time 
later I witnessed in its vicinity a most curious sight, 
offered by the branch of the numerous Indian rites, 
which is generally called "devil worship." 

Mandu is situated on the ridge of the Vindhya Moun- 
tains, about two thousand feet above the surface of the 
sea. According to Malcolm's statement, this town was 
built in A.D. 313, and for a long time was the capital of 
the Hindu Rajas of Dhara. The historian Ferishtah 
points to Mandu as the residence of Dilivan-Khan- 
Ghuri, the first King of Malwa, who flourished in 1387- 
1405. In 1526 the town was taken by Bahadur-Shah, 
King of Gujerat, but in 1570 Akbar won this town 
back, and a marble slab over the town gate still bears 
his name and the date of his visit. '^ 

On entering this vast cify in its present state of soli- 
tude (the natives call it the **dead town") we all expe- 
rienced a peculiar feeling, not unlike the sensation of a 
man who enters Pompeii for the first time. Everything 
shows that Mandu was once one of the wealthiest towns 
of India. The town wall is thirty-seven miles long. 
Streets ran whole miles, on their sides stand ruined 
palaces, and marble pillars lie on the ground. Black 
excavations of the subterranean halls, in the coolness 
of which rich ladies spent the hottest hours of the day, 
peer from under dilapidated granite walls. Further on 
are broken stairs, dry tanks, waterless fountains, endless 
empt}^ yards, marble platforms, and disfigured arches of 
majestic porches. All this is overgrown with creepers 


and shrubs, hiding the dens of wild beasts. Here and 
there a well-preserved wall of some palace rises high 
above the general wreck, its empty windows fringed 
with parasitic plants blinking and staring at us like 
sightless eyes, protesting against troublesome intruders. 
And still further, in the very centre of the ruins, the 
heart of the dead town sends forth a whole crop of 
broken cypresses, an un trimmed grove on the place where 
heaved once so many breasts and clamoured so many 

In 1570 this town was called Shadiabady the abode of 
happiness. The Franciscan missionaries, Adolf Aqua- 
viva, Antario de Moncerotti, and others, who came here 
in that very year as an embassy from Goa to seek 
various privileges from the Mogul Government, de- 
scribed it over and over again. At this epoch it was 
one of the greatest cities of the world, whose magnifi- 
cent streets and luxurious ways used to astonish the 
most pompous courts of India. It seems almost in- 
credible that i'n such a short period nothing should 
remain of this town but the heaps of rubbish, amongst 
which we could hardl^^ find room enough for our tent. 
At last we decided to pitch it in the only building which 
remained in a tolerable state of preservation, in Yami- 
Masjid, the cathedral-mosque, on a granite platform 
about twenty-five steps higher than the square. The 
stairs, constructed of pure marble like the greater part 
of the town buildings, are broad and almost untouched 
by time, but the roof has entirely disappeared, and so 
we were obliged to put up with the stars for a canopy. 

All round this building runs a low gallery supported 
by several rows of thick pillars. From a distance it 
reminds one, in spite of its being somewhat clumsy and 
lacking in proportion, of the Acropolis of Athens. From 


the Stairs, where we rested for a while, there was a view 
of the mausoleum of Gushanga-Guri, King of Malwa, 
in whose reign the town was at the culmination of its 
brilliancy and glorj-. It is a massive, majestic, white 
marble edifice, with a sheltered peristyle and finely 
carved pillars. This peristyle once led straight to the 
palace, but now it is surrounded with a deep ravine, full 
of broken stones and overgrown with cacti. The interior 
of the mausoleum is covered with golden lettering of 
inscriptions from the Koran, and the sarcophagus of 
the sultan is placed in the middle. Close by it stands 
the palace of Baz-Bahadur, all broken to pieces — nothing 
now but a heap of dust covered with trees. 

We spent the whole day visiting these sad remains, 
and returned to our sheltering place a little before sun- 
set, exhausted with hunger and thirst, but triumphantl}^ 
carrying on our sticks three huge snakes, killed on our 
way home. Tea and supper were waiting for us. To 
our great astonishment we found visitors in the tent. 
The Patel of the neighbouring village-^something be- 
tween a tax-collector aud'a judge — and two zemindars 
(land owners) rode over to present us their respects and 
to invite us and our Hindu friends, some of whom they 
had known previously, to accompany them to their 
houses. On ^hearing that we intended to spend the 
night in the **dead town" they grew awfully indignant. 
They assured us it was highly dangerous and utterly 
impossible. Two hours later hyenas, tigers, and other 
beasts of prey were sure to come out from under every 
bush and every ruined wall, without mentioning thou- 
sands of jackals and wild cats. Our elephants would 
not stay, and if they did stay no doubt they would be 
devoured. We ought to leave the ruins as quickly as 
possible and go with them to the nearest village, which 


would not take us more than half an hour. In the 
village everything had been prepared for us, and our 
friend the Babu was already there, and getting impatient 
at our delay. 

Only on hearing this did we become aware that our 
bareheaded and cautious friend was conspicuous by his 
absence. Probably he had left some time ago, without 
consulting us, and made straight, to the village where 
he evidently had friends. Sending for us was a mere 
trick of his. But the evening was so sweet, and we felt 
so comfortable, that the idea of upsetting all our plans 
for the morning was not at all attractive. Besides, it 
seemed quite ridiculous to think that the ruins, amongst 
which we had wandered several hours without meeting 
anything more dangerous than a snake, swarmed with 
wild animals. So we smiled and returned thanks, but 
would not accept the invitation. 

"But you positively must not dare to stay here," in- 
sisted the fat Patel. *'In case of accident, I shall be 
responsible for' you to the Government. Is it possible 
you do not dread a sleepless night spent in fighting 
jackals, if not something worse? You do not believe 
that you are surrounded with wild animals. ... It 
is true they are invisible until sunset, but nevertheless 
they are dangerous. If 3'ou do not belier/e us, believe 
the instinct of j^our elephants, who are as brave as you, 
but a little more reasonable. Just look at them ! " 

We looked. Truly, our grave, philosophic-looking 
elephants behaved very strangely at this moment. 
Their lifted trunks looked like huge points of interroga- 
tion. They snorted and stamped restively. In another 
minute one of them tore the thick rope, with which 
he was tied to a broken pillar, made a sudden volte-face 
with all his heavy body, and stood against the wind, 


sniffing the air. Evidently he perceived some dangerous 
animal in the neighbourhood. 

The colonel stared at him through his spectacles and 
whistled very meaningly. 

'♦Well, well," remarked he, "what shall we do if tigers 
really assault us?" 

"What shall we do indeed?" was my thought. "Takur 
Gulab-Lal-Sing is not here to protect us." 

Our Hindu companions sat on the carpet after their 
oriental fashion, quietly chewing betel. On being asked 
their opinion, they said they would not interfere with 
our decision, and were ready to do exactly as we liked. 
But as for the European portion of our party, there was 
no use concealing the fact that we were frightened, and 
we speedily prepared to start. Five minutes later we 
mounted the elephants, and, in a quarter of an hour, 
just when the sun disappeared behind the mountain and 
heavy darkness instantaneously fell, we passed the gate 
of Akbar and descended into the valley. 

We were hardly a quarter of a mile'^from our aban- 
doned camping place when the cypress grove resounded 
with shrieking howls of jackals, followed by a well- 
known mighty roar. There was no longer any possibility 
of doubting. The tigers were disappointed at our escape. 
Their discontentment shook the very air, and cold per- 
spiration stood on our brows. Our elephant sprang 
forward, upsetting the order of our procession and 
threatening to crush the horses and their riders before 
us. We ourselves, however, were out of danger. We 
sat in a strong howdah, locked as in a dungeon. 

"It is useless to deny that we have had a narrow 
escape! " remarked the colonel, looking out of the window 
at some twenty servants of the Patel, who were busily 
lighting torches. 


In an hour's time we stopped at the gate of a large bun- 
galow, and were welcomed by the beaming face of our 
bareheaded Bengali. When w^e were all safely gathered 
on the verandah, he explained to us that, knowing be- 
forehand that our "American pigheadedness" would not 
listen to any warning, he had dodged up this little scheme 
of his own and was very glad he had been successful. 

"Now let us go and wash our hands, and then to 
supper. And,'* he added, addressing me, "was it not your 
wish to be present at a real Hindu meal? This is your 
opportunity. Our host is a Brahman, and you are the 
first Europeans who ever entered the part of his house 
inhabited by the family." 

Who amongst^ Europeans ever dreamed of a country 
where every step, and the lea§t action of everyday life, 
especially of the family life, is controlled by religious 
rites and ca7inot be performed except according to a 
certain programme? India is this country. In India 
all the important incidents of a man's life, siicli as birth, 
reaching certain periods of a child's life, marriage, father- 
hood, old age and death, as well as all the physical and 
physiological functions of everyday routine, like morning 
ablutions, dressing, eating, et tout ce qui s'e?i suit, from a 
man's first hour to his last sigh, everything must be 
performed according to a certain Brahmanical ritual, on 
penalty of expulsion from his caste. The Brahmans 
may be compared to the musicians of an orchestra in 
which the difierent musical instruments are the nu- 


merous sects of their country. They are all of a different 
shape and of a different timbre; but still every one of 
them obeys the same leader of the band. However 
widely the sects may differ in the interpretation of their 
sacred books, however hostile they may be to each other, 
striving to put forward their particular deity, every one 
of them, obeying blindly the ancient custom, must 
follow like musicians the same directing wand, the laws 
of Manu. This is the point where they all meet and 
form a unanimous, single-minded community, a strongly 
united mass. And woe to the one who breaks the 
symphony by a single discordant note! The elders and 
the caste or sub-caste councils (of these there are any 
number), whose members hold office for life, are stern 
rulers. There is no appeal against their decisions, and 
this is why expulsion from the caste is a calamity, entail- 
ing truly formidable consequences. The excommuni- 
cated member is worse off than a leper, the solidarity of 
the castes in this respect being something phenomenal. 
The only thing that can bear an 3^ comparison with it is 
the solidarity of the discipks of Loyola. If members of 
two different castes, united by the sincerest feelings of 
respect and friendship, may not intermarry, may not dine 
together, are forbidden to accept a glass of water from 
each other, CiT to offer each other a hookah, it becomes 
clear how much more severe all these restrictions must 
be in the case of an excommunicated person. The poor 
wretch must literally die to everybody, to the members 
of his own family as to strangers. His own household, 
his father, wife, children, are all bound to turn their 
faces from him, under the penalty of being excommuni- 
cated in their turn. There is no hope for his sons and 
daughters of getting married, however innecent they 
may be of the sin of their father. 


From the moment of "excommunication" the Hindu 
must totally disappear. His mother and wife must not 
feed him, must not let him drink from the family well. 
No member of any existing caste dares to sell him his 
food or cook for him. He must eitber starve or buy 
eatables from outcasts and Europeans, and so incur the 
dangers of further pollution. When the Brahmanical 
power was at its zenith, such acts as deceiving, robbing 
and even killing this wretch were encouraged, as he was 
beyond the pale of the laws. Now, at all events, he is 
free from the latter danger, but still, even now, if he 
happens to die before he is forgiven and received back 
into his caste, his body may not be burned, and no 
purifying mantrams will be chanted for him ; he will be 
thrown into the water, or left to rot under the bushes 
like a dead cat. 

This is a passive force, and its passiveness only makes 
it more formidable. Western education and English 
influence can do nothing to change it. There exists 
only one course of action for the excommunicated; he 
must show signs of repentance and submit to all kinds 
of humiliations, often to the total loss of all his worldly 
possessions. Personally, I know several young Brah- 
mans, who, having brilliantly passed the university 
examinations in England, have had to s.ubmit to the 
most repulsive conditions of purification on their return 
home; these purifications consisting chiefly in shaving 
off half their moustaches and ej^ebrows, crawling in the 
dust round pagodas, clinging during long hours to the 
tail of a sacred cow, and, finally, swallowing the excre- 
ments of this cow. The latter ceremony is called 
•*Pancha-Gavya," literally, the five products of the cow: 
milk, curds, butter, etc. The voyage ov^r Kalapani, 
the black water, that is to say the sea, is considered the 


worst of all the sins. A man who commits it is con- 
sidered as polluting himself continually, from the first 
moment of his going on board the bellati (foreign) ship. 

Only a few days ago a friend of ours, who is an lyL.D., 
had to undergo this "purgation," and it nearly cost him 
his reason. When we remonstrated with him, pointing 
out that in his case it was simply foolish to submit, he 
being a materialist by conviction and not caring a straw 
for Brahmanism, he replied that he was bound to do so 
for the following reasons : 

**I have two daughters," he explained, "one five, the 
other six years old. If I do not find a husband for the 
eldest of them in the course of the coming year, she will 
grow too old to get married, nobody will think of 
espousing her. Suppose I suffer my caste to excom- 
municate me, both my girls will be dishonoured and 
miserable for the rest of their lives. Then, again, I 
must take into consideration the superstitions of my old 
mother. If such a misfortune befell me, it would simply 
kill her. ..." 

But why should he not free himself from every bond 
to Brahmanism and caste? Why not join, once for all, 
the ever-growing community of men who are guilty of 
the same offence? Why not ask all his family to form a 
colony and jo^n the civilization of the Europeans? 

All these are very natural questions, but unfortunately 
there is no difiiculty in finding reasons for answering 
them in the negative. 

There were thirty-two reasons given why one of 
Napoleon's marshals refused to besiege a certain fortress, 
but the first of these reasons was the absence of gun- 
powder, and so it excluded the necessity of discussing 
the remaining thirty-one. Similarly the first reason 
why a Hindu cannot be Europeanized is quite sufficient. 


and does not call for any additional ones. This reason 
is that by doing so a Hindn would ?iot wiprove /its position. 
Were he such an adept of science as to rival Tyndall, 
were he such a clever politician as to eclipse the genius 
of Disraeli and Bismarck, as soon as he actually had 
given up his caste and kinsmen, he would indubitably 
find himself in the position of Mahomet's cofiin ; meta- 
phorically speaking, he would hang half-way between 
the earth and the sky. 

It would be an utter injustice to suppose that this 
state of things is the result of the policy of the English 
Government; that the said Government is afraid of 
giving a chance to natives who may be suspected of 
being hostile to the British rule. In reality, the Govern- 
ment has little or nothing to do with it. This state of 
things must be attributed entirely to the social ostracism, 
to the contempt felt by a "superior" for an ''inferior'* 
race, a contempt deeply rooted in some members of the 
Anglo-Indian society and displayed at the least provo- 
cation. This question of racial ''superiority" and "in- 
feriority" plays a more impoi;tant part than is generally 
believed, even in England. Nevertheless, the natives 
(Mussulmans included) do not deserve contempt, and so 
the gulf between the rulers and the ruled widens with 
every year, and long centuries would not suffice to fill 
it up. 

I have to dwell upon all this to give my readers a clear 
idea on the subject. And so it is no wonder the ill-fated 
Hindus prefer temporary humiliations and the physical 
and moral sufferings of the "purification," to the 
prospect of general contempt until death. These were 
the questions we discussed with the Brahmans during 
the two hours before dinner. 

Dining with foreigners and people belonging to dif- 


ferent castes is, no doubt, a dangerous breach of Manu*s 
sacred precepts. But this time, for once, it was easily- 
explained. First, the stout Patel, our host, was the 
head of his caste, and so was beyond the dread of ex- 
communication; secondly, he had already taken all 
the prescribed and advisable precautions against being 
polluted by our presence. He was a free-thinker in his 
own way, and a friend of Gulab-Lal-Sing, and so he 
rejoiced at the idea of showing us how much skilful 
sophistry and strategical circumspection can be used by 
adroit Brahmans to avoid the law in some circumstances, 
while adhering at the same time to its dead letter. Be- 
sides, our good-natured, well-favoured host evidently 
desired to obtain a diploma from our Society, being well 
aware that the collector of his district was enrolled 
amongst our members. 

These, at any rate, were the explanations of our Babu 
when we expressed our astonishment; so it was our 
concern to make the most of our chance, and to thank 
Providence for this rare opportunity.. And this we 
accordingly did. 

Hindus take their food only twice a day, at ten o'clock 
in the morning and at nine in the evening. Both meals 
are accompai;iied by complicated rites and ceremonies. 
Bven very young children are not allowed to eat at odd 
times, eating without the prescribed performance of 
certain exorcisms being considered a sin. Thousands 
of educated Hindus have long ceased to believe in all 
these superstitious customs, but, nevertheless, they are 
daily practised. 

Sham Rao Bahunathji, our host, belonged to the ancient 
caste of Patarah Prabhus, and was very proud of his 
origin. Prabhu means lord, and this caste descends 


from the Kshatriyas. The first of them was Ashvapati 
(700 B.C.), a lineal descendant of Rama and Prithu, who, 
as is stated in the local chronology, governed India in 
the Dvapara and Treta Yugas, which is a good while 
ago! The Patarah Prabhus are the only caste within 
which Brahmans have to perform certain purely Vedic 
rites, known under the name of the ''Kshatriya rites." 
But this does not prevent their being Patans, instead of 
Patars, Patau meaning the fallen one. This is the fault 
of King Ashvapati. Once, when distributing gifts to 
holy anchorites, he inadvertently forgot to give his due 
to the great Bhrigu. The offended prophet and seer 
declared to him that his reign was drawing near its 
end, and that all his posterity would perish. The king, 
throwing himself on the ground, implored the prophet's 
pardon. But his curse had worked its fulfilment already. 
All that he could do to stop the mischief consisted in a 
solemn promise not to let the king's descendants dis- 
appear completely from the earth. However, the Patars 
soon lost their throne and their power. Since then they 
have had to "live by their pens," in the employment of 
many successive governments, to exchange their name of 
Patars for Patans, and to lead a humbler life than many 
of their late subjects. Happily for our talkative Am- 
phitryon, his forefathers became Brahmans, that is to 
say "went through the golden cow." 

The expression "to live by their pens" alludes, as we 
learned later on, to the fact of the Patans occupying all 
the small Government posts in the Bombay Presidency, 
and so being dangerous rivals of the Bengali Babus since 
the time of British rule. In Bombay the Patau clerks 
reach the considerable figure of five thousand. Their 
complexion is darker than the complexion of Konkan 
Brahmans, but they are handsomer and brighter. As to 


the mysterious expression, **went through the golden 
cow," it ilhistrates a ver>^ curious custom. The Kshatriyas, 
and even the much-despised Shudras, may become a sort 
of left-hand Brahmans. This metamorphosis depends on 
the will of the real Brahmans, who may, if they like, sell 
this right for several hundreds or thousands of cows. 
When the gift is accomplished, a model cow, made of 
pure gold, is erected and made sacred by the perform- 
ance of some mystical ceremonies. The candidate must 
now crawl through her hollow bodj- three times, and 
thus is transformed into a Brahman. The present 
Maharaja of Travankor, and even the great Raja of 
Benares, who died recently, were both Shudras who 
acquired their rights in this manner. We received all 
this information and a notion of the legendary Patar 
chronicle from our obliging host. 

Having announced that we must now get ready for 
dinner, he disappeared in the company of all the gentle- 
men of our party. Being left to ourselves, Miss X and 

I decided to have a good look at the hoi^se whilst it was 
empty. The Babu, being ^ downright, modern Bengali^ 
had no respect for the religious preparations for dinner, 
and chose to accompany us, proposing to explain to us 
all that we should otherv\'ise fail to understand. 

The Prabhij brothers always live together, but every 
married couple have separate rooms and servants of 
their own. The habitation of our host was very spacious. 
There were small several bungalows, occupied by his 
brothers, and a chief building containing rooms for 
visitors, the general dining-room, a lying-in ward, a 
small chapel with any number of idols, and so on. The 
ground floor, of course, was surrounded by a verandah 
pierced with arches leading to a huge hall. All round 
this hall were wooden pillars adorned with exquisite 


carving. For some reason or other, it struck me that 
these pillars once belonged to some palace of the "dead 
town." On close examination I only grew more con- 
vinced that I was right. Their style bore no traces of 
Hindu taste; no gods, no fabulous monster animals, 
only arabesques and elegant leaves and flowers of non- 
existent plants. The pillars stood very close to each 
other, but the carvings prevented them from forming 
an uninterrupted wall, so that the ventilation was a 
little too strong. All the time we spent at the dinner 
table miniature hurricanes whistled from behind every 
pillar, waking up all our old rheumatisms and tooth- 
aches, which had peacefully slumbered since our arrival 
in India. 

The front of the house was thickly covered with iron 
horse-shoes — the best precaution against evil spirits and 
evil eyes. 

At the foot of a broad, carved staircase we came across 
a couch or a cradle, hung from the ceiling by iron 
chains. I saw somebody lying on it, whom, at first 
sight, I mistook for a sleepin.^ Hindu, and was going to 
retreat discreetly, but, recognizing my old friend Hanu- 
man, I grew bold and endeavoured to examine him. 
Alas ! the poor idol possessed only a head and neck, the 
rest of his body was a heap of old rags. ^ 

On the left side of the verandah there were many more 
lateral rooms, each with a special destination, some of 
which I have mentioned already. The largest of these 
rooms was called "vattan," and was used exclusively by 
the fair sex. Brahman women are not bound to spend 
their lives under veils, like Mussulman women, but still 
they have very little communication with men, and keep 
aloof. Women cook the men's food, but do not dine 
with them. The elder ladies of the family are often 


held ill great respect, and husbands sometimes show a 
shy courteousness towards their wives, but still a woman 
has no right to .speak to her husband before strangers, 
nor even before the nearest relations, such as her sisters 
and her mother. 

As to the Hindu widows, they really are the most 
wretched creatures in the whole world. As soon as a 
woman's husband dies she must have her hair and her 
eyebrows shaven off. She must part with all her trinkets, 
her earrings, her nose jewels, her bangles and toe-rings. 
After this is done she is as good as dead. The lowest 
outcast would not marry her. A man is polluted by her 
slightest touch, and must immediately proceed to purify 
himself. The dirtiest work of the household is her dut}^, 
and she must not eat with the married women and 
the children. The "sati," the burning of the widows, is 
abolished, but Brahmans are clever managers, and the 
widows often long for the sati. 

At last, having examined the family chapel, full of 
idols, flowers, rich vases with burning 'incense, lamps 
hanging from its ceiling, and aromatic herbs covering 
its floor, we decided to get ready for dinner. We care- 
fully washed ourselves, bvit this was not enough, we 
were requested to take off our shoes. This was a some- 
what disagreeable surprise, but a real Brahmanical 
supper was worth the trouble. 

However, a truly amazing surprise was still in store 
for us. 

On entering the dining-room we stopped short at the 
entrance — both our European companions were dressed, 
or rather undressed, exactly like Hindus! For the sake 
of decency they kept on a kind of sleeveless knitted 
vest, but they were barefooted, wore the snow-v/hite 
Hindu dJmtis (a piece of muslin wrapped round to the 


waist and forming a petticoat), and looked like some- 
thing between white Hindus and Constantinople ga7X07is 
de baiiis. Both were indescribably funn3% I never saw 
anything funnier. To the great discomfiture of the men, 
and the scandal of the grave ladies of the house, I could 

not restrain myself, but burst out laughing. Miss X 

blushed violently and followed my example. 

A quarter of an hour before the evening meal every 
Hindu, old or young, has to perform a "puja" before the 
gods. He does not change his clothes, as we do in Europe, 
but takes off the few things he wore during the day. He 
bathes by the family well and loosens his hair, of which, 
if he is a Mahratti or an inhabitant of the Dekkan, he 
has only one long lock at the top of his shaven head. 
To cover the body and the head whilst eating would be 
sinful. Wrapping his waist and legs in a white silk 
dhuti, he goes once more to salute the idols and then 
sits down to his meal. 

But here I sll'all allow myself to digress. '*Silk pos- 
sesses the property of dismissing the evil spirits who 
inhabit the magnetic fluids of the atmosphere," says the 
Mantram, book v., verse 23. And I cannot help wonder- 
ing whether this apparent superstition may not con- 
tain a deeper meaning. It is difficult, J own, to part 
with our favourite theories about all the customs of 
ancient heathendom being mere ignorant superstitions. 
But have not some vague notions of these customs being 
founded originally on a true knowledge of scientific 
principles found their way amongst European scientific 
circles? At first sight the idea seems untenable. But 
why may we not suppose that the ancients prescribed 
this obser\^ance in the full knowledge that the effect of 
electricity upon the organs of digestion is truly bene- 


ficial? People who have studied the ancient philosophy 
of India with a firm resolve to penetrate the hidden 
meaning of its aphorisms have for the most part grown 
convinced that electricity and its effects were known to 
a considerable extent to some philosophers, as, for in- 
stance, to Patanjali. Charaka and Sushruta had pro- 
pounded the system of Hippocrates long before the time 
of him who in Europe is vSupposed to be the ** father of 
medicine." The Bhadrinath temple of Vishnu possesses 
a stone bearing evident proof of the fact that Surya- 
Sidhanta knew and calculated the expansive force of 
steam many centuries ago. The ancient Hindus were 
the first to determine the velocity of light and the laws 
of its reflection; and the table of Pythagoras and his 
celebrated theorem of the square of hypothenuse are to 
be found in the ancient books of Jyotisha. All this 
leads us to suppose that ancient Aryans, when institut- 
ing the strange custom of wearing silk during meals, 
had something serious in view, more serious, at all 
events, than the "dismissing of demons.*' 

Having entered the "refectory," we immediately no- 
ticed what were the Hindu precautions against their 
being polluted by our presence. The stone floor of 
the hall was divided into two equal parts. This divi- 
sion consisted of a line traced in chalk, with Kabalistic 
signs at either end. One part was destined for the 
host's party and the guests belonging to the same 
caste, the other for ourselves. On our side of the 
hall there was yet a third square to contain Hindus 
of a different caste. The furniture of the two bigger 
squares was exactly similar. Along the two opposite 
walls there were narrow carpets spread on the floor, 
covered with cushions and low stools. Before every 


occupant there was an oblong on the bare floor, traced 
also with chalk, and divided, like a chess board, into 
small quadrangles which were destined for dishes and 
plates. Both the latter articles were made of the thick 
strong leaves of the butea fro7idosa: larger dishes of 
several leaves pinned together with thorns, plates and 
saucers of one leaf with its borders turned up. All the 
courses of the supper were already arranged on each 
square ; we counted forty-eight dishes, containing about 
a mouthful of forty-eight different dainties. The ma- 
terials of which they were composed were mostly teri-a 
incognita to us, but some of them tasted very nice. All 
this was vegetarian food. Of meat, fowl, eggs and fish 
there appeared no traces. There were chutneys, fruit 
and vegetables preserved in vinegar and honey, pan- 
chamrifs, a mixture of pampello -berries, tamarinds, 
cocoa milk, treacle and olive oil, and kuslwter, made 
of radishes, honey and flour; there were also burning 
hot pickles and spices. All this was crowned with a 
mountain of ex(Juisitely cooked rice and another moun- 
tain of chapatis, which are something like brown pan- 
cakes. The dishes stood in four rows, each row con- 
taining twelve dishes; and between the rows burned 
three aromatic sticks of the size of a small church taper. 
Our part of the hall was brightly lit with f^reen and red 
candles. The chandeliers which held these candles 
were of a very queer shape. They each represented the 
trunk of a tree with a seven-headed cobra wound round 
it. From each of the seven mouths rose a red or a 
green wax candle of spiral form like a corkscrew. 
Draughts blowing from behind every pillar fluttered the 
yellow flames, filling the roomy refectory with fantastic 
moving shadows, and causing both our lightly-clad 
gentlemen to sneeze very frequently. I^eaving the dark 


silhouettes of the Hindus in comparative obscurity, this 
unsteady light made the two white figures still more 
conspicuous, as if making a masquerade of them and 
laughing at them. 

The relatives and friends of our host came in one 
after the other. They were all naked down to the 
waist, all barefooted, all wore the triple Brahmanical 
thread and white silk dhutis, and their hair hung loose. 
Every sahib was followed by his own servant, who 
carried his cup, his silver, or even gold, jug filled with 
water, and his towel. All of them, having saluted the 
host, greeted us, the palms of their hands pressed to- 
gether and touching their foreheads, their breasts, and 
then the floor. They all said to us: ''Ram-Ram" and 
"Namaste" (salutation to thee), and then made straight 
for their respective seats in perfect silence. Their civili- 
ties reminded me that the custom of greeting each other 
with the twice pronounced name of some ancestor was 
usual in the remotest antiquity. 

We all sat down, the Hindus calm and stately, as if 
preparing for some mysjtic celebration, we ourselves 
feeling awkward and uneasy, fearing to prove guilty 
of some unpardonable blunder. An invisible choir of 
women's voices chanted a monotonous hymn, celebrat- 
ing the glory of the gods. These were half a dozen 
nautch-girls from a neighbouring pagoda. To this ac- 
companiment we began satisfying our appetites. Thanks 
to the Babu's instructions, we took great care to eat onl)^ 
with our right hands. This was somewhat difficult, be- 
cause we were hungry and hasty, but quite necessary. 
Had we only so much as touched the rice with our left 
hands whole hosts of Rakshasas (demons) would have 
been attracted to take part in the festivity that very 
moment; which, of course, would send all the Hindus 


out of the room. It is hardly necessary to say that 
there were no traces of forks, knives or spoons. That 
I might run no risk of breaking the rule I put my left 
hand in my pocket and held on to my pocket-handker- 
chief all the time the dinner lasted. 

The singing lasted only a few minutes. During the 
rest of the time a dead silence reigned amongst us. It 
was Monday, a fast da}^ and so the usual absence of 
noise at meal times had to be observed still more strictly 
than on any other day. Usually a man who is com- 
pelled to break the silence by some emergency or other 
hastens to plunge into water the middle finger of his 
left hand, which till then had remained hidden behind 
his back, and to moisten both his eyelids with it. But a 
really pious man would not be content with this simple 
formula of purification; having spoken, he must leave 
the dining-room, wash thoroughly, and then abstain 
from food for the remainder of the day. 

Thanks to this solemn silence, I was at liberty to 
notice everything that was going on with great atten- 
tion. Now and again, whene^ver I caught sight of the 

colonel or Mr. Y , I had all the difficulty in the world 

to preserve my gravity. Fits of foolish laughter would 
take possession of me when I observed them sitting 
erect with such comical solemnity and^ working so 
awkwardly with their elbows and hands. The long 
beard of the one was white with grains of rice, as if 
silvered with hoar-frost, the chin of the other was yellow 
with liquid saffron. But unsatisfied curiosity happily 
came to my rescue, and I went on watching the quaint 
proceedings of the Hindus. 

Each of them, having sat down with his legs twisted 
under him, poured some water with his left hand out of 
the jug brought by the servant, first into his cup, then 


into the palm of his right hand. Then he slowly and 
carefully sprinkled the water round a dish with all 
kinds of dainties, which stood by itself, and was destined, 
as we learned afterwards, for the gods. During this 
procedure each Hindu repeated a Vedic niantram. Fill- 
ing his right hand with rice, he pronounced a new series 
of couplets, then, having stored five pinches of rice on 
the right side of his own plate, he once more washed his 
hands to avert the evil eye, sprinkled more water, and 
pouring a few drops of it into his right palm, slowly 
drank it. After this he swallowed six pinches of rice, 
one after the other, murmuring prayers all the while, 
and wetted both his eyes with the middle finger of his 
left hand. All this done, he finally hid his left hand 
behind his back, and began eating with the right hand. 
All this took only a few minutes, but was performed 
very solemnly. 

The Hindus ate with their bodies bent over the food, 
throwing it up and catching it in their mouths so dex- 
terously that not a grain of rice was lost, not a drop of 
the various liquids spilt. Zealous to show his considera- 
tion for his host, the colonel tried to imitate all these 
movements. He contrived to bend over his food almost 
horizontally, but, alas! he could not remain long in this 
position. The natural weight of his powerful limbs 
overcanie him, he lost his balance and nearly tumbled 
head foremost, dropping his spectacles into a dish of 
sour milk and garlic. After this unsuccessful experience 
the brave American gave up all further attempts to 
become "Hinduized," and sat very quietly. 

The supper was concluded with rice mixed with 
sugar, powdered peas, olive oil, garlic and grains of 
pomegranate, as usual. This last dainty is consumed 
hurriedly. Everyone nerv^ously glances askance at his 


neighbour, and is mortally afraid of being the last to 
finish, because this is considered a very bad sign. To 
conclude, they all take some water into their mouths, 
murmuring prayers the while, and this time they must 
swallow it in one gulp. Woe to the one who chokes ! 
'Tis a clear sign that a bhiita has taken possession of his 
throat. The unfortunate man must run for his life and 
get purified before the altar. 

The poor Hindus are very much troubled by these 
wicked bliutas, the souls of the people who have died 
with ungratified desires and earthly passions. Hindu 
spirits, if I am to believe the unanimous assertions of 
one and all, are always swarming round the living, 
always ready to satisfy their hunger with other people's 
mouths and gratify their impure desires with the help of 
organs temporarily stolen from the living. They are 
feared and cursed all over India. No means to get rid 
of them are despised. The notions and conclusions of 
the Hindus on this point categorically contradict the 
aspirations and Hopes of Western spiritualists. 

**A good and pure spirit, they are confident, will not 
let his soul revisit the earth, if this soul is equally pure. 
He is glad to die and unite himself to Brahma, to live an 
eternal life in Svarga (heaven) and enjoy the society of 
the beautiful Gandharvas or singing angeh. He is glad 
to slumber whole eternities, listening to their songs, 
whilst his soul is purified by a new incarnation in a body, 
which is more perfect than the one the soul abandoned 

The Hindus believe that the spirit or Atma, a par- 
ticle of the Grfat AlyL, which is Parabrahm, cannot be 
punished for sins in which it never participated. It is 
Manas, the animal intelligence, and the animal soul or 
Jiva, both half material illusions, that sin and suffer and 


transmigrate from one body into the other till they 
purify themselves. The spirit merely overshadows their 
earthly transmigrations. When the Ego has reached 
the final state of purity, it will be one with the Atma, 
and gradually will merge and disappear in Parabrahm. 
But this is not what awaits the wicked souls. The soul 
that does not succeed in getting rid of earthly cares and 
desires before the death of the body is weighed down by 
its sins, and, instead of reincarnating in some new form, 
according to the laws of metempsychosis, it will remain 
bodiless, doomed to wander on earth. It will become a 
bhuta, and by its own sufferings will cause unutterable 
sufferings to its kinsmen. That is why the Hindu fears 
above all things to remain bodiless after his death. 

"It is better for one to enter the body of a tiger, of a 
dog, even of a yellow-legged falcon, after death, than 
to become a bhuta ! " an old Hindu said to me on one 
occasion. "Every animal possesses a body of his own 
and a right to make an honest use of it. Whereas the 
bhiitas are doomed dakoits, brigands a^d thieves, they 
are ever watching for an ppportunit}'- to use what does 
not belong to them. This is a horrible state — a horror 
indescribable. This is the true hell. What is this 
spiritualism they talk so much of in the West? Is it 
possible the intelligent English and Americans are so 
mad as this?" 

And all our remonstrances notwithstanding, he re- 
fused to believe that there are actually people who are 
fond of bhutas, who would do much to attract them 
into their homes. 

After supper the men went again to the family w^ell to 
wash, and then dressed themselves. 

Usually at this hour of the night the Hindus put on 
clean malmalas, a kind of tight shirt, white turbans, and 


wooden sandals with knobs pressed between the toes. 
These curious shoes are left at the door whilst their 
owners return to the hall and sit down along the walls 
on carpets and cushions to chew betel, smoke hookahs 
and cheroots, to listen to sacred reading, and to witness 
the dances of the nautches. But this evening, probably 
in our honour, all the Hindus dressed magnificently. 
Some of them wore darias of rich striped satin, no end 
of gold bangles, necklaces mounted with diamonds and 
emeralds, gold watches and chains, and transparent 
Brahmanical scarfs with gold embroidery. The fat 
fingers and the right ear of our host were simply blaz- 
ing with diamonds. 

The women, who waited on us during the meal, dis- 
appeared afterwards for a considerable time. When 
they came back they also were luxuriously overdressed 
and were introduced to us formally as the ladies of the 
house. They were five : the wife of the host, a woman 
of twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, then two 
others looking sfomewhat younger, one of whom carried 
a baby, and, to our great astonishment, was introduced 
as the married daughter of the hostess; then the old 
mother of the host and a little girl of seven, the wife of 
one of his brothers. So that our hostess turned out to 
be a grandmother, and her sister-in-law, who was to 
enter finally into matrimony in from two to three years, 
might have become a mother before she was twelve. 
They were all barefooted, with rings on each of their 
toes, and all, with the exception of the old woman, wore 
garlands of natural flowers round their necks and in 
their jet black hair. Their tight bodices, covered with 
embroidery, were so short that between them and the 
sari there was a good quarter of a yard of bare skin. 
The dark, bronze-coloured waists of these well-shaped 


women were boldlj' presented to any one's examination 
and reflected the lights of the room. Their beautiful 
arms and their ankles were covered with bracelets. At 
the least of their movements they all set up a tinkling 
silvery sound, and the little sister-in-law, who might 
easily be mistaken for an automaton doll, could hardly 
move under her load of ornaments. The young grand- 
mother, our hostess, had a ring in her left nostril, which 
reached to the lower part of the chin. Her nose was con- 
siderably disfigured by the weight of the gold, and we 
noticed how unusually handsome she was only when 
she took it off to enable herself to drink her tea with 
some comfort. 

The dances of the nautch girls began. Two of them 
were very pretty. Their dancing consisted chiefly in 
more or less expressive movements of their eyes, their 
heads, and even their ears, in fact, of the whole upper 
part of their bodies. As to their legs, they either did 
not move at all or moved with such a swiftness as to 
appear in a cloud of mist. ' 

After this eventful day I, slept the sleep of the just. 

After many nights spent in a tent, it is more than 
agreeable to jjleep in a regular bed, even if it is only a 
hanging one. The pleasure would, no doubt, have been 
considerably increased had I but known I was resting 
on the couch of a god. But this latter circumstance was 
revealed to me only in the morning, when descending 
the staircase I suddenly discovered the poor general en 
chef, Hanuman, deprived of his cradle and unceremo- 
niously stowed away under the stairs. Decidedl3% the 
Hindus of the nineteenth century are a degenerate and 
blaspheming race! 


In the course of the morning we learned that this 
swinging throne of his, and an ancient sofa, were the 
only pieces of furniture in the whole house that could 
be transformed into beds. 

Neither of our gentlemen had spent a comfortable 
night. They slept in an empty tower that was once the 
altar of a decayed pagoda and was situated behind the 
main building. In assigning to them this strange resting 
place, the host was guided by the praiseworthy intention 
of protecting them from the jackals, which freely pene- 
trate into all the rooms of the ground floor, as they are 
pierced by numberless arches and have no door and no 
window frames. The jackals, however, did not trouble 
the gentlemen much that night, except by giving their 

nightly concert. But both Mr. Y and the colonel 

had to fight all the night long with a vampire^ which, 
besides being a flying fox of an unusual size, happened 
to be a spirit, as we learned too late, to our great mis- 

This is how it liappened. Noiselessly hovering about 
the tower, the vampire from tkne to time alighted on the 
sleepers, making them shudder under the disgusting 
touch of his cold sticky wings. His intention clearly 
was to get a nice suck of European blood. They were 
wakened by his manipulations at least t2n times, and 
each time frightened him away. But, as soon as they 
were dozing again, the wretched bat was sure to return 
and perch on their shoulders, heads, or legs. At last 
Mr. Y — -, losing patience, had recourse to strong 
measures J**; he caught him and broke his neck. 

Feeling perfectly innocent, the gentlemen mentioned 
the tragi/c end of the troublesome flying fox to their host, 
and instantly drew down on their heads all the thunder- 
clouds Of heaven. 


The yard was crowded with people. All the inhabi- 
tants of the house stood sorrowfully drooping their heads, 
at the entrance of the tower. Out host's old mother tore 
her hair in despair, and shrieked lamentations in all the 
languages of India. What was the matter with them all? 
We were at our wits* end. But when we learned the cause 
of all this, there was no limit to our confusion. 

By certain mysterious signs, known only to the family 
Brahman, it had been decided ten years ago that the soul 
of our host's elder brother had incarnated in this blood- 
thirsty vampire-bat. This fact was stated as being be5^ond 
any doubt. For nine years the late Patarah Prabhu 
existed under this new shape, carrying out the laws of 
metempsychosis. He spent the hours between sunrise 
and the sunset in an old pipal-tree before the tower, 
hanging with his head downwards. But at night he 
visited the old tower and gave fierce chase to the insects 
that sought rest in this out-of-the-way corner. And so 
nine years were spent in this happy existence, divided 
between sleep, food, and the gradual redemption of old 
sins committed in the shap^ of a Patarah Prabhu. And 
now? Now his listless body lay in the dust at the 
entrance of his favourite tower, and his wings were half 
devoured by the rats. The poor old woman, his mother, 
was mad with ^sorrow, and cast, through her tears, re- 
proachful, angry looks at Mr. Y , who, in his new 

capacit}^ of a heartless murderer, looked disgustingly 

But the affair was growing serious. The comical side 
of it disappeared before the sincerity and the intensity of 
her lamentations. Her descendants, grouped around her, 
were too polite to reproach us openly, but the expression 
of their faces was far from reavSSuring. The family priest 
and astrologer stood by the old lady, Shastras in hand, 


ready to begin the ceremon}^ of purification. He solemnly 
covered the corpse with a piece of new linen, and so hid 
from our eyes the sad remains on which ants were literally 

Mr. Y did his best to look unconcerned, but still, 

when the tactless Miss X came to him, expressing 

her loud indignation at all these superstitions of an in- 
ferior race, he at least seemed to remember that our host 
knew English perfectly, and he did not encourage her 
farther expressions of sympathy. He made no answer, 
but smiled contemptuously. Our host approached 
the colonel with respectful salaams and invited us to 
follow him. 

**No doubt he is going tc ask us to leave his house 
immediately ! " was my uncomfortable impression. 

But my apprehension was not justified. At this epoch 
of my Indian pilgrimage I was far, as yet, from having 
fathomed the metaphysical depth of a Hindu heart. 

Sham Rao began by delivering a very far-fetched, 
eloquent preface. He reminded us that he, personally, 
was an enlightened man, a man who possessed all the 
advantages of a Western education. He said that, owing 
to this, he was not quite sure that the body of the vam- 
pire was actually inhabited by his late brother. Darwin, 
of course, and some other great naturalists of the West, 
seemed to believe in the transmigration of souls, but, as 
far as he understood, they believed in it in an inverse 
sense;, that is to sa}^, if a baby had been bom to his 
mother exactly at the moment of the vampire's death, 
this baby would indubitabl}^ have had a great likeness 
to a vampire, owing to the decaying atoms of the vam- 
pire being so close to her. 

"Is not this an exact interpretation of the Darwinian 
school?" he asked. 


We modestly answered that, having travelled almost 
incessantly during the last year, we could not help 
being a bit behindhand in the questions of modern 
science, and that we were not able to follow its latest 

"But I have followed them!" rejoined the good- 
natured Sham Rao, with a touch of pomposity. "And 
so I hope I may be allowed to say that I have under- 
stood and duly appreciated their most recent develop- 
ments. I have just finished studying the magnificent 
A7ttkropoge7iesis of Hseckel, and have carefully discussed 
in my own mind his logical, scientific explanations of 
the origin of man from inferior animal forms through 
transformation. And what is this transformation, pray, 
if not the transmigration of the ancient and modern 
Hindus, and the metempsychosis of the Greeks?" 

We had nothing to say against the identity, and even 
ventured to observe that, according to Haeckel, it does 
look like it. 

"Exactly!" exclaimed he joyfully. ^'This shows that 
our conceptions are neitheif silly nor superstitious, as is 
maintained by some opponents of Manu. The great 
Manu anticipated Darwin and Hseckel. Judge for your- 
self; the latter derives the genesis of man from a group 
of plastides, fr^m the jelly-like moneron; this moneron, 
through the amoeba, the ascidian, the brainless and 
heartless amphioxus, and so on, transmigrates in the 
eighth remove into the lamprey, is transformed, at last, 
into a vertebrate amniote, into a premammalian, into a 
marsupial animal. . . . The vampire, in its turn, 
belongs to the species of vertebrates. You, being well 
read people all of you, cannot contradict this statement." 

He was right in his supposition ; we did not contra- 
dict it. 


"In this case, do me tlie honour to follow my argu- 
ment. . . ." 

We did follow his argument with the greatest atten- 
tion, but were at a loss to foresee whither it tended to 
lead us. 

"Darwin," continued Sham Rao, "in his Origin of 
Species, reestablished almost word for word the palin- 
genetic teachings of our Manu. Of this I am perfectly- 
convinced, and, if you like, I can prove it to you book 
in hand. Our ancient law-giver, amongst other sayings, 
speaks as follows: 'The great Parabrahm commanded 
man to appear in the universe, after traversing all the 
grades of the animal kingdom, and springing primarily 
from the worm of the deep sea mud.' The worm be- 
came a snake, the snake a fish, the fish a mammal, and 
so on. Is not this very idea at the bottom of Darwin's 
theory, when he maintains that the organic forms have 
their origin in more simple species, and says that the 
structureless protoplasm born in the mud of the Lauren- 
tian and Silurian periods — the Manu's *mud of the seas,' 
I dare say — gradually transformed itself into the anthro- 
poid ape, and then finally into the human being?" 

We said it looked very like it. 

"But, in spite of all my respect for Darwin and his 
eminent follower Haeckel, I cannot agree jvith their final 
conclusions, especially with the conclusions of the 
latter," continued Sham Rao. "This hasty and bilious 
German is perfectly accurate in copying the embryology 
of Manu and all the metamorphoses of our ancestors, 
but he forgets the evolution of the human soul, which, 
as it is stated by Manu, goes hand in hand with the 
evolution of matter. The son of Swayambhuva, the Self 
Becoming, speaks as follows: 'Everything created in a 
new cycle, in addition to the qualities of its preceding 


transmigrations, acquires new qualities, and the nearer 
it approaches to man, the highest type of the earth, the 
brighter becomes its divine spark; but, once it has 
become a Brahma, it will enter the cycle of conscious 
transmigrations.' Do you realize what that means? It 
means that from this moment, its transformations de- 
pend no longer on the blind laws of gradual evolution, 
but on the least of a man's actions, which brings either 
a reward or a punishment. Now you see that it depends 
on the man's will whether, on the one hand, he will 
start on the way to Moksha, the eternal bliss, passing 
from one Loka to another till he reaches Brahmaloka, 
or, on the other, owing to his sins, will be thrown back. 
You know that the average soul, once freed from earthly 
reincarnations, has to ascend from one Loka to another, 
always in the human shape, though this shape will grow 
and perfect itself with every Loka. Some of our sects 
understood these Lokas to mean certain stars. These 
spirits, freed from earthly matter, are what we mean by 
Pitris and Devas, whom we worship. Aiid did not your 
Kabalists of the middle ages3designate these Pitris under 
the expression Pla7ietary Spirits ? But, in the case of a 
very sinful man, he will have to begin once more with 
the animal forms which he had already traversed uncon- 
sciously. Bothi Darwin and Haeckel lose sight of this, 
so to speak, second volume of their incomplete theory, 
but still neither of them advances any argument to 
prove it false. Is it not so?" 

"Neither of them does anything of the sort, most 

"Why, in this case," exclaimed he, suddenly changing 
his colloquial tone for an aggressive one, "why am I, 
I who have studied the most modern ideas of Western 
science, I who believe in its representatives — why am I 


suspected, pray, by Miss X of belonging to the tribe 

of the ignorant and superstitious Hindus? Why does 
she think that our perfected scientific theories are super- 
stitions, and we ourselves a fallen inferior race?" 

Sham Rao stood before us with tears in his eyes. We 
were at a loss what to answer him, being confused to the 
last degree by this outburst. 

"Mind you, I do not proclaim our popular beliefs to 
be infallible dogmas. I consider them as mere theories, 
and try to the best of my ability to reconcile the ancient 
and the modern science. I formulate hypotheses just 
like Darwin and Hseckel. Besides, if I understood 

rightly, Miss X is a spiritualist, so she believes in 

bhutas. And, believing that a bhuta is capable of pene- 
trating the body of a medium, how can she deny that a 
bhuta, and more so a less sinful soul, may enter the body 
of a vampire-bat?" 

I own, this logic was a little too condensed for us, and 
so, avoiding a direct answer to a metaphysical question 
of such delicacy, we tried to apologize and excuse Miss 
X 's rudeness as well as we could. 

"She did not mean to offend you," we said, "she only 
repeated a calumny, familiar to every European. Be- 
sides, if she had taken the trouble to think it over, she 
probably would not have. said it. . . m" 

Little by little we succeeded in pacifying our host. He 
recovered his usual cheerfulness, but could not resist the 
temptation of adding a few words to his long argumenta- 
tion. He had just begun to reveal to us certain peculiari- 
ties of his late brother's character, which induced him 
to be prepared, judging by the laws of atavism, to see 
their repetition in the propensities of a vampire bat, 

when Mr. Y suddenly dashed in on our small group 

and spoiled all the results of our conciliatory words by 


screaming at the top of his voice: *'The old woman has 
gone demented! She keeps on cursing us and says that 
the murder of this wretched bat is only the forerunner 
of a whole series of misfortunes brought on her house 
by you, Sham Rao," said he, hastily addressing the be- 
wildered follower of Hseckel. "She says you have pol- 
luted your Brahmanical holiness by inviting us. . . 
Colonel, you had better send for the elephants. In 
another moment all this crowd will be on us. . . ." 

**For goodness' sake!" exclaimed poor Sham Rao, 
"have some consideration for my feelings. She is an old 
woman, she has some superstitions, but she is mj^ mother* 
You are educated people, learned people. . . Advise me, 
show me a way out of all these diflSculties. What should 
you do in my place?" 

"What should I do, sir?" exclaimed Mr. Y , com- 
pletely put out of temper by the utter ludicrousness of 
our awkward predicament. "What should I do? Were 
I a man in your position and a believer in all you are 
brought up to believe, I should take my revolver, and in 
the first place, shoot all ths vampire bats in the neigh- 
bourhood, if only to rid all your late relations from the 
abject bodies of these creatures, and, in the second place, 
I should endeavour to smash the head of the conceited 
fraud in the shiape of a Brahman who invented all this 
stupid story. That is what I should do, sir!" 

But this advice did not content the miserable descend- 
ant of Rama. No doubt he would have remained a long 
time undecided as to what course of action to adopt, torn 
as he was between the sacred feelings of hospitality, the 
innate fear of the Brahman-priest, and his own supersti- 
tions, if our ingenious Babu had not come to our rescue. 
Learning that we all felt more or less indignant at all 
this row, and that we were preparing to leave the house 


as quickly as possible, he persuaded us to stay, if only 
for an hour, saying that our hasty departure would be a 
terrible outrage upon our host, whom, in any case, we 
could not find fault with. As to the stupid old woman, 
the Babu promised us to pacify her speedily enough : he 
had his own plans and views. In the meantime, he said, 
we had better go and examine the ruins of an old fortress 
close by. 

We obeyed very reluctantly, feeling an acute interest 
in his "plans." We proceeded slowly. Our gentlemen 
were visibly out of temper. Miss X tried to calm her- 
self by talking more than usual, and Narayan, as phleg- 
matic as usual, indolently and good-naturedly chaffed 
her about her beloved ''spirits." Glancing back we saw 
the Babu accompanied by the family priest. Judging 
by their gestures they were engaged in some warm dis- 
cussion. The shaven head of the Brahman nodded right 
and left, his j^ellow garment flapped in the wind, and his 
arms rose towards the sky, as if in an appeal to the 
gods to come down and testify to the truth of his words. 

"I'll bet you a thousand dollars, no plans of our Babu's 
will be of any avail with this fanatic!" confidentl}^ 
remarked the colonel as he lit his pipe. 

But we had hardly walked a hundred steps after this 
remark when we saw the Babu running after us and 
signalling us to stop. 

"Everything ended first-rate!" screamed he, as soon 
as we could hear. "You are to be thanked . . . You 
happen to be the true saviours and benefactors of the 
deceased bhuta . . . You . . ." 

Our Babu sank on the ground holding his narrow, 
panting breast with both his hands, and laughed, laughed 
till we all burst into laughter too, before learning any- 
thing at all. 


"Think of it," began the Babu, and stopped short, 
prevented from going on by his exuberant hilarity. 
"Just think of it ! The whole transaction is to cost me 
only ten rupees. . . I offered five at first . . . but 
he would not. . . He said this was a sacred matter. . . 
But ten he could not resist ! Ho, ho, ho. . ." 

At last we learned the story. All the metempsychoses 
depend on the imagination of the family GuruSy who 
receive for their kind offices from one hundred to one 
hundred and fifty rupees a year. Every rite is accom- 
panied by a more or less considerable addition to the 
purse of the insatiable family Brahman, but the happy 
events pay better than the sad ones. Knowing all this, 
the Babu asked the Brahman point-blank to perform a 
false samadhiy that is to say, to feign an inspiration and 
to announce to the sorrowing mother that her late son's 
will had acted consciously in all the circumstances; that 
he brought about his end in the body of the flying fox, 
that he was tired of that grade of transmigration, that 
he longed for death in order to attain ^ higher position 
in the animal kingdom, th§t he is happy, and that he is 
deeply indebted to the sahib who broke his neck and so 
freed him from his abject embodiment. 

Besides, the observant eye of our all-knowing Babu 
had not failed lo remark that a she-buffalo of the Guru's 
was expecting a calf, and that the Guru was yearning 
to sell it to Sham Rao. This circumstance was a trump 
card in the Babu's hand. I,et the Guru announce, under 
the influence of samadhi, that the freed spirit intends to 
inhabit the body of the future baby-buffalo and the old 
lady will buy the new incarnation of her first-born as 
sure as the sun is bright. This announcement will be 
followed by rejoicings and by new rites. And who will 
profit by all this if not the family priest? 


At first the Guru had some misgivings, and swore by 
everything sacred that the vampire bat was veritably 
inhabited by the brother of Sham Rao. But the Babu 
knew better than to give in. The Guru ended by under- 
standing that his skilful opponent saw through his tricks, 
and that he was well aware that the Shastras exclude the 
possibility of such a transmigration. Growing alarmed, 
the Guru also grew meek, and asked only ten rupees and 
a promise of silence for the performance of a samadhi. 

On our way back we were met at the gate by Sham 
Rao, who was simply radiant. Whether he was afraid of 
our laughing at him, or was at loss to find an explanation 
of this new metamorphosis in the positive sciences in 
general, and Haeckel in particular, he did not attempt 
to explain why the afiair had taken such an unexpectedly 
good turn. He merely mentioned aw^kwardly enough 
that his mother, owing to some new mysterious conjec- 
tures of hers, had dismissed all sad apprehensions as to 
the destiny of her elder son, and he then dropped the 
subject completely. 

In order to wipe away the traces of the morning's 
perplexities from our minds, Sham Rao invited us to sit 
on the verandah, by the wide entrance of his idol room, 
whilst the family prayers were going on. Nothing could 
suit us better. It w^as nine o'clock, the usual time of 
the morning prayers. Sham Rao went to the well to 
get ready, and dress himself, as he said, though the 
process was more like undressing. In a few moments 
he came back wearing only a dhuti, as during dinner 
time, and with his head uncovered. He went straight to 
his idol room. The moment he entered we heard the 
loud stroke of a bell that hung under the ceiling, and 
that continued tolling all the time the prayers lasted. 


The Babu explained to us that a little boy was pulling 
the bell rope from the roof. 

Sham Rao stepped in with his right foot and very 
slowly. Then he approached the altar and sat on a little 
stool with his legs crossed. At the opposite side of the 
room, on the red velvet shelves of an altar that resembled 
an etagere in the drawing-room of some fashionable 
lady, stood many idols. They were made of gold, of 
silver, of brass and of marble, according to their im- 
portance and merits. Maha-Deva or Shiva was of gold, 
Gunpati or Ganesha of silver, Vishnu in the form of a 
round black stone from the river Gandaki in Nepal. In 
this form Vishnu is called Lakshmi-Narayan. There 
were also many other gods unknown to us, who were 
worshipped in the shapes of big sea-shells, called Chakra. 
Surya, the god of the sun, and the kula-devas, the 
domestic gods, were placed in the second rank. The 
altar was sheltered by a cupola of carved sandal-wood. 
During the night the gods and the ofiferings were covered 
by a huge bell glass. On the walls there were many 
sacred images representing the chief episodes in the 
biographies of the higher gods. 

Sham Rao filled his left hand with ashes, murmuring 
prayers all the while, covered it for a second with the 
right one, thew put some matter to the ashes, and mixing 
the two by rubbing his hands together, he traced a line 
on his face with this mixture by moving the thumb of 
his right hand from his nose upwards, then from the 
middle of the forehead to the right temple, then back 
again to the left temple. Having done with his face he 
proceeded to cover with wet ashes his throat, arms, 
shoulders, his back, head and ears. In one corner of 
the room stood a huge bronze font filled with water. 
Sham Rao made straight to it and plunged into it three 


times, dhuti, head, and all, after which, he came out 
looking exactly like a well-favoured dripping wet Triton. 
He twisted the only lock of hair on the top of his shaved 
head and sprinkled it with water. This operation con- 
cluded the first act. 

The second act began with religious meditations and 
with mantrams, which, by really pious people, must be 
repeated three times a day — at sunrise, at noon and at 
sunset. Sham Rao loudly pronounced the names of 
twenty-four gods, and each name was accompanied by a 
stroke of the bell. Having finished he first shut his 
eyes and stuffed his ears with cotton, then pressed his 
left nostril with two fingers of his left hand, and having 
filled his lungs with air through the right nostril, pressed 
the latter also. Then he tightly closed his lips, so that 
breathing became impossible. In this position every 
pious Hindu must mentally repeat a certain verse, which 
is called the Gayatri. These are sacred words which no 
Hindu will dare to pronounce aloud. Even in repeating 
them mentally he must take every precaution not to 
inhale anything impure. 

I am bound by my word of honour never to repeat the 
whole of this prayer, but I may quote a few unconnected 
sentences : 

*'0m. . . . Earth. . . . Heavem . . . I^et 
the adored light of ... . [here follows a name 
which must not be pronounced] shelter me. I^et thy 
Sun, O thou only One, shelter me, the unworthy. . . . 
I shut my eyes, I shut my ears, I do not breathe 

in order to see, hear and breathe thee 

alone. Throw light upon our thoughts [again the secret 
name]. . ." 

It is curious to compare this Hindu prayer with the 
celebrated prayer of Descartes' " Meditation III " in his 


V Existence de Dieu. It runs as follows, if I remember 
rightly : 

"Now I shut my eyes, cover my ears, and dismiss all 
my five senses, I will dwell on the thought of God alone, 
I will meditate on His quality and look on the beauty of 
this wondrous radiancy." 

After this prayer Sham Rao read many other prayers, 
holding with two fingers his sacred Brahmanical thread. 

After a while began the ceremony of *'the washing of 
the gods." Taking them down from the altar, one after 
the other, according to their rank, Sham Rao first 
plunged them in the big font, in which he had just 
bathed himself, and then bathed them in milk in a smaller 
bronze font by the altar. The milk was mixed up with 
curds, butter, honey, and sugar, and so it cannot be said 
that this cleansing served its purpose. No wonder we 
were glad to see that the gods underwent a second 
bathing in the first font and then were dried with a clean 

When the gods were arranged in their respective 
places, the Hindu traced* on them the sectarian signs 
with a ring from his left hand. He used white sandal 
paint for the lingani and red for Gunpati and Surya. 
Then he sprinkled them with aromatic oils and covered 
them with fi-esh flowers. The long ceremony was 
finished by "the awakening of the gods." A small bell 
was repeatedly rung under the noses of the idols, who, 
as the Brahman probably supposed, all went to sleep 
during this tedious ceremony. 

Having noticed, or fancied, which often amounts to 
the same thing, that they were wide awake, he began 
offering them his daily sacrifices, lighting the incense 
and the lamps, and, to our great astonishment, snapping 
his fingers from time to time, as if warning the idols to 


"look out." Having filled the room with clouds of 
incense and fumes of burning camphor, he scattered 
some more flowers over the altar and sat on the small 
stool for a while, murmuring the last prayers. He 
repeatedly held the palms of his hands over the flame 
of the tapers and rubbed his face with them. Then he 
walked round the altar three times, and, having knelt 
three times, retreated backwards to the door. 

A little while before our host had finished his morn- 
ing prayers the ladies of the house came into the room. 
They brought each a small stool and sat in a row mur- 
muring prayers and telling the beads of their rosaries. 

The part played by the rosaries in India is as impor- 
tant as in all Buddhist countries. Every god has his 
favourite flower and his favourite material for a rosary. 
The fakirs are simply covered with rosaries. The rosary 
is called mala and consists of one hundred and eight 
beads. Very pious Hindus are not content to tell the 
beads when praying; they must hide their hands during 
this ceremony in a bag called gomukha, which means 
the cow's mouth. 

We left the women to their prayers and followed our 
host to the cow house. The cow symbolizes the ** foster- 
ing earth," or Nature, and is worshipped accordingly. 
Sham Rao sat down by the cow and washed her feet, 
first with her own milk, then with water. He gave her 
some sugar and rice, covered her forehead with pow- 
dered sandal, and adorned her horns and four legs with 
chains of flowers. He burned some incense under her 
nostrils and brandished a burning lamp over her head. 
Then he walked three times round her and sat down to 
rest. Some Hindus walk round the cow one hundred 
and eight times, rosary in hand. But our Sham Rao 
had a slight tendency to freethinking, as we knew, and 


besides, he was too much of an admirer of Haeckel. 
Having rested himself, he filled a cup with water, put in 
it the cow's tail for a moment, and then drank it! 

After this he performed the rite of worshipping the 
sun and the sacred plant ttilsi. Unable to bring the 
god Surya from his heavenly altar and wash him in the 
sacred font. Sham Rao contented himself by filling his 
own mouth with water, standing on one leg, and spirt- 
ing this water towards the sun. Needless to say it 
never reached the orb of day, but, very unexpectedly, 
sprinkled us instead. 

It is still a mystery to us why the plant tulsi, Royal 
Basilicum, is worshipped. However, towards the end of 
September we yearly witnessed the strange ceremony of 
the wedding of this plant with the god Vishnu, notwith- 
standing that tulsi bears the title of Krishna! s bride, 
probably because of the latter being an incarnation of 
Vishnu. On these occasions pots of this plant are 
painted and adorned with tinsel. A magical circle is 
traced in the garden and t;he plant is put in the middle 
of it. A Brahman brings an idol of Vishnu and begins 
the marriage ceremony, standing before the plant. A 
married couple hold a shawl between the plant and the 
god, as if screening them from each other, the Brahman 
utters prayers, and young women, and especially un- 
married girls, who are the most ardent worshippers of 
tulsi, throw rice and saffron over the idol and the plant. 
When the ceremony is concluded, the Brahman is pre- 
sented with the shawl, the idol is put in the shade of his 
wife, the Hindus clap their hands, rend everyone's ears 
with the noise of tom-toms, let ofi* fire-works, ofier each 
other pieces of sugar-cane, and rejoice in every conceiv- 
able way till the dawn of the next day. 


Our kind host Sham Rao was very gay during the 
remaining hours of our visit. He did his best to enter- 
tain us, and would not hear of our leaving the neigh- 
bourhood without having seen its greatest celebrity, its 
most interesting sight. A jadu wald — sorceress — ^well 
known in the district, was just at this time under the 
influence of seven sister-goddesses, who took possession 
of her by turns, and spoke their oracles through her 
lips. Sham Rao said we must not fail to see her, be it 
only in the interests of science. 

The evening closes in, and we once more get ready 
for an excursion. It is only five miles to the cavern of 
the Pythia of Hindostan ; the road runs through a jungle, 
but it is level and smooth. Besides, the jungle and its 
ferocious inhabitants have ceased to frighten us. The 
timid elephants we had in the "dead city" are sent 
home, and we are to mount new behemoths belonging 
to a neighbouring Raja. The pair, that stand before the 
verandah like two dark hillocks, are steady and trust- 
worthy. Many a time these two have hunted the royal 
tiger, and no wild shrieking or thunderous roaring can 
frighten them. And so, let us start! The ruddy flames 
of the torches dazzle our eyes and increase the forest 
gloom. Our surroundings seem so dark, so mysterious. 
There is something indescribably fascinating, almost 
solemn, in these night-journeys in the out-of-the-way 
corners of India. Everything is silent and deserted 
around you, everything is dozing on the earth and over- 
head. Only the heavy, regular tread of the elephants 

A witch's den. 177 

breaks the stillness of the night, like the sound of fall- 
ing hammers in the underground smithy of Vulcan. 
From time to time uncanny voices and murmurs are 
heard in the black forest. 

"The wind sings its strange song amongst the ruins," 
says one of us, "what a wonderful acoustic phenomenon ! " 

"Bhuta, bhuta!" whisper the awestruck torch-bearers. 
They brandish their torches and swiftly spin on one 
leg, and snap their fingers to chase away the aggres- 
sive spirits. 

The plaintive murmur is lost in the distance. The 
forest is once more filled with the cadences of its in- 
visible nocturnal life — the metallic whirr of the crickets, 
the feeble, monotonous croak of the tree-frog, the rustle 
of the leaves. From time to time all this suddenly stops 
short and then begins again, gradually increasing and 

Heavens! What teeming life, what stores of vital 
energy are hidden under the smallest leaf, the most 
imperceptible blades of grass, in this tropical forest! 
Myriads of stars shine ii^, the dark blue of the sky, 
and myriads of fireflies twinkle at us from every bush, 
moving sparks, like a pale reflection of the far-away 

We left the thick forest behind us, and reached a deep 
glen, on three sides bordered with the thick forest, 
where even by day the shadows are as dark as by night. 
We were about two thousand feet above the foot of the 
Vindhya ridge, judging by the ruined wall of Mandu, 
straight above our heads. 

Suddenly a very chilly wind rose that nearly blew our 
torches out. Caught in the labyrinth of bushes and 
rocks, the wind angrily shook the branches of the 


blossoming syringas, then, shaking itself free, it turned 
back along the glen and flew down the valley, howling, 
whistling and shrieking, as if all the fiends of the forest 
together were joining in a funeral song. 

**Here we are," said Sham Rao, dismounting. "Here 
is the village ; the elephants cannot go any further." 

**The village? Surely you are mistaken. I don't see 
anything but trees." 

**Itis too dark to see the village. Besides, the huts 
are so small, and so hidden by the bushes, that even by 
daytime you could hardly find them. And there is no 
light in the houses, for fear of the spirits." 

"And where is your witch? Do you mean we are to 
watch her performance in complete darkness?" 

Sham Rao cast a furtive, timid look round him; and 
his voice, when he answered our questions, was some- 
what tremulous. 

"I implore you not to call her a witch! She may hear 
you. . . . It is not far oiF, it is not more than half a 
mile. Do not allow this short distance to shake your 
decision. No elephant, and, even no horse, could make 
its way there. We must walk. . . . But we shall 
find plenty of light there. . . ." 

This was unexpected, and far from agreeable. To 
walk in this gloomy Indian night; to scramble through 
thickets of cactuses; to venture in a dark forest, full of 

wild animals — this was too much for Miss X . She 

declared that she would go no further. She would wait 
for us in the howdah, on the elephant's back, and 
perhaps would go to sleep. 

Narayan w^as against this par^i de plaisir from the very 
beginning, and now, without explaining his reasons, he 
said she was the only sensible one among us. 

"You won't lose anything," he remarked, "by staying 


where you are. And I only wish everyone would follow 
your example." 

"What ground have you for saying so, I wonder?" 
remonstrated Sham Rao, and a slight note of disappoint- 
ment rang in his voice, when he saw that the excursion, 
proposed and organized by himself, threatened to come 
to nothing. "What harm could be done by it? I won't 
insist any more that the 'incarnation of gods' is a rare 
sight, and that the Europeans hardly ever have an op- 
portunity of witnessing it; but, besides, the Kangalim 
in question is no ordinary woman. She leads a holy 
life; she is a prophetess, and her blessing could not 
prove harmful to any one. I insisted on this excursion 
out of pure patriotism." 

"Sahib, if your patriotism consists in displaying 
before foreigners the worst of our plagues, then why 
did you not order all the lepers of your district to 
assemble and parade before the eyes of our guests? You 
are s^patel, you have the power to do it»" 

How bitterly Narayan's voice sounded to our un- 
accustomed ears. Usually he was so even-tempered, 
so indifferent to everything belonging to the exterior 

Fearing a quarrel between the Hindus, the colonel 
remarked, in i. conciliatory tone, that it was too late for 
us to reconsider our expedition. Besides, without being 
a believer in the "incarnation of gods," he was person- 
ally firmly convinced that demoniacs existed even in the 
West. He was eager to study every psychological 
phenomenon, wherever he met with it, and whatever 
shape it might assume. 

It would have been a striking sight for our European 
and American friends if they had beheld our procession 
on that dark night. Our way lay along a narrow wind- 


ing path up the mountain. Not more than two people 
could walk together — and we were thirty, including the 
torch-bearers. Surely some reminiscence of night sallies 
against the confederate Southerners had revived in the 
colonel's breast, judging by the readiness with which he 
took upon himself the leadership of our small expedi- 
tion. He ordered all the rifles and revolvers to be 
loaded, despatched three torch-bearers to march ahead 
of us, and arranged us in pairs. Under such a skilled 
chieftain we had nothing to fear from tigers ; and so our 
procession started, and slowly crawled up the winding 

It cannot be said that the inquisitive travellers, who 
appeared later on, in the den of the prophetess of Mandu, 
shone through the freshness and elegance of their cos- 
tumes. My gown, as well as the travelling suits of the 

colonel and of Mr. Y were nearly torn to pieces. 

The cactuses gathered from us whatever tribute they 
could, and the Babu's dishevelled hair swarmed with a 
whole colony of grasshoppers and fireflies, which, pro- 
bably, were attracted thither hy the smell of cocoa-nut 
oil. The stout Sham Rao panted like a steam engine. 
Narayan alone was like his usual self; that is to say, 
like a bronze Hercules, armed with a club. At the last 
abrupt turn of the path, after having surmounted the 
difficulty of climbing over huge, scattered stones, we 
suddenly found ourselves on a perfectly smooth place; 
our eyes, in spite of our many torches, were dazzled 
with light; and our ears were struck by a medley of 
unusual sounds. 

A new glen opened before us, the entrance of which, 
from the valley, was well masked by thick trees. We 
understood how easily we might have wandered round 
it, without ever suspecting its existence. At the bottom 

A witch's den. i8i 

of the glen we discovered the abode of the celebrated 

The den, as it turned out, was situated in the ruin of 
an old Hindu temple in tolerably good preservation. 
In all probability it was built long before the "dead 
city," because during the epoch of the latter, the heathen 
were not allowed to have their own places of worship ; 
and the temple stood quite close to the wall of the town, 
in fact, right under it. The cupolas of the two smaller 
lateral pagodas had fallen long ago, and huge bushes 
grew out of their altars. This evening, their branches 
were hidden under a mass of bright coloured rags, bits 
of ribbon, little pots, and various other talismans; 
because, even in them, popular superstition sees some- 
thing sacred. 

** And are not these poor people right? Did not these 
bushes grow on sacred ground? Is not their sap im- 
pregnated with the incense of offerings, and the exhala- 
tions of holy anchorites, who once lived and breathed 

The learned, but superstitious Sham Rao would only 
answer our questions by new questions. 

But the central temple, built of red granite, stood 
unharmed by time, and, as we learned afterwards, a 
deep tunnel opened just behind its closely-shut door. 
What was be3^ond it no one knew. Sham Rao assured 
us that no man of the last three generations had ever 
stepped over the threshold of this thick iron door; no 
one had seen the subterranean passage for many years. 
Kangalim lived there in perfect isolation, and, accord- 
ing to the oldest people in the neighbourhood, she had 
always lived there. Some people said she was three 
hundred years old; others alleged that a certain old 
man on his death-bed had revealed to his son that this 


old woman was no one else than his own uncle. This 
fabulous uncle had settled in the cave in the times when 
the "dead city" still counted several hundreds of inhabi- 
tants. The hermit, busy paving his road to Moksha, 
had no intercourse with the rest of the world, and 
nobody knew how he lived and what he ate. But a 
good while ago, in the days when the Bellati (foreigners) 
had not yet taken possession of this mountain, the old 
hermit suddenly was transformed into a hermitess. She 
continues his pursuits and speaks with his voice, and 
often in his name ; but she receives worshippers, which 
was not the practice of her predecessor. 

We had come too early, and the Pythia did not at 
first appear. But the square before the temple was full 
of people, and a wild, though picturesque, scene it was. 
An enormous bonfire blazed in the centre, and round it 
crowded the naked savages like so many black gnomes, 
adding whole branches of trees sacred to the seven 
sister- goddesses. ^ Slowly and evenly they all jumped 
from one leg to another to a tune of a single monoto- 
nous musical phrase, which 'they repeated in chorus, 
accompanied by several local drums and tambourines. 
The hushed trill of the latter mingled with the forest 
echoes and the hysterical moans of two little girls, who 
lay under a heap of leaves by the fire. The poor chil- 
dren were brought here by their mothers, in the hope 
that the goddesses would take pity upon them and 
banish the two evil spirits under whose obsession they 
were. Both mothers were quite young, and sat on their 
heels blankly and sadly staring at the flames. No one 
paid us the slightest attention when we appeared, and 
afterwards during all our stay these people acted as if 
we were invisible. Had we worn a cap of darkness they 
could not have behaved more strangely. 

A witch's den. 183 

"They feel the approach of the gods! The atmosphere 
is full of their sacred emanations!" mysteriously ex- 
plained Sham Rao, contemplating with reverence the 
natives, whom his beloved Haeckel might have easily 
mistaken for his "missing link," the brood of his 
" Bathybius Hseckelii." 

"They are simply under the influence of toddy and 
opium ! " retorted the irreverent Babu. 

The lookers-on moved as in a dream, as if they all 
were only half-awakened somnambulists ; but the actors 
were simply victims of St. Vitus's dance. One of them, 
a tall old man, a mere skeleton with a long white beard, 
left the ring and begun whirling vertiginously, with his 
arms spread like wings, and loudly grinding his long, 
wolf-like teeth. He was painful and disgusting to look 
at. He soon fell down, and was carelessly, almost me- 
chanically, pushed aside by the feet of the others still 
engaged in their demoniac performance. 

All this was frightful enough, but many more horrors 
were in store for us. 

Waiting for the appearance of the prima donna of this 
forest opera company, we sat down on the trunk of a 
fallen tree, ready to ask innumerable questions of our 
condescending host. But I was hardly seated, when a 
feeling of indescribable astonishment and horror made 
me shrink back. 

I beheld the skull of a monstrous animal, the like of 
which I could not find in my zoological reminiscences. 

This head was much larger than the head of an elephant 
skeleton. And still it could not be anything but an 
elephant, judging by the skilfully restored trunk, which 
wound down to my feet like a gigantic black leech. But 
an elephant has no horns, whereas this one had four of 
them! The front pair stuck from the flat forehead 


slightly bending forward and then spreading out; and 
the others had a wide base, like the root of a deer's horn, 
that gradually decreased almost up to the middle, and 
bore long branches enough to decorate a dozen ordinar}^ 
elks. Pieces of the transparent amber-yellow rhinoceros 
skin were strained over the empty eye-holes of the skull, 
and small lamps burning behind them only added to the 
horror, the devilish appearance of this head. 

"What can this be?" was our unanimous question. 
None of us had ever met anything like it, and even the 
colonel looked aghast. 

** It is a Sivatherium," said Narayan. " Is it possible you 
never came across these fossils in European museums? 
Their remains are common enough in the Himalaj^as, 
though, of course, in fragments. They w^ere called after 

"If the collector of this district ever hears that this 
antediluvian relic adorns the den of your — ahem! — 
witch," remarked the Babu, "it won't adorn it many 
days longer." 

All round the skull, and oc the floor of the portico 
there were heaps of white flowers, which, though not 
quite antediluvian, were totally unknown to us. They 
were as large as a big rose; and their white petals were 
covered with a red powder, the inevitable.* concomitant 
of every Indian religious ceremony. Further on, there 
were groups of cocoa-nuts, and large brass dishes filled 
with rice ; and each adorned with a red or green taper. 
In the centre of the portico there stood a queer-shaped 
censer, surrounded with chandeliers. A little boy, 
dressed from head to foot in white, threw into it hand- 
fuls of aromatic powders. 

"These people, who assemble here to worship Kan- 
galim," said Sham Rao, "do not actually belong either 


to her sect or to any other. They are devil -worshippers. 
They do not believe in Hindu gods, but live in small 
communities; they belong to one of the many Indian 
races, which usually are called the hill-tribes. Unlike 
the Shanars of Southern Travancore, they do not use 
the blood of sacrificial animals; they do not build 
separate temples to their bhutas. But they are possessed 
by the strange fancy that the goddess Kali, the wife of 
Shiva, from time immemorial has had a grudge against 
them, and sends her favourite evil spirits to torture 
them. Save this little diiFerence, they have the same 
beliefs as the Shanars. God does not exist for them; 
and even Shiva is considered by them as an ordinary 
spirit. Their chief worship is offered to the souls of the 
dead. These souls, however righteous and kind they 
may be in their lifetime, become after death as wicked 
as can be ; they are happy only when they are torturing 
living men and cattle. As the opportunities of doing so 
are the only reward for the virtues they possessed when 
incarnated, a very wicked man is punished by becoming 
after his death a very soft-hearted ghost ; he loathes his 
loss of daring, and is altogether miserable. The results 
of this strange logic are not bad, nevertheless. These 
savages and devil-worshippers are the kindest and the 
most truth-lo^iing of all the hill-tribes. They do what- 
ever they can to be worthy of their ultimate reward; 
because, don't you see, they all long to become the 
wickedest of devils ! . . ." 

And put in good humour by his own wittiness. Sham 
Rao laughed till his hilarity became offensive, consider- 
ing the sacredness of the place. 

** A year ago some business matters sent me to Tine- 
velli," continued he. "Staying with a friend of mine, 
who is a Shanar, I was allowed to be present at one of 


the ceremonies in the honour of devils. No European 
has as yet witnessed this worship — whatever the mis- 
sionaries may say; but there are many converts amongst 
the Shanars, who willingly describe them to the padres. 
My friend is a wealthy man, which is probably the 
reason why the devils are especially vicious to him. 
They poison his cattle, spoil his crops and his coffee 
plants, and persecute his numerous relations, sending 
them sunstrokes, madness and epilepsy, over which 
illnesses they especially preside. These wicked demons 
have settled in every corner of his spacious landed pro- 
perty — in the woods, the ruins, and even in his stables. 
To avert all this, my friend covered his land with stucco 
pyramids, and prayed humbly, asking the demons to 
draw their portraits on each of them, so that he may 
recognize them and worship each of them separately, as 
the rightful owner of this, or that, particular pyramid. 
And what do you think? . . . Next morning all the 
pyramids were found covered with drawings. Each of 
them bore an incredibly good likeness of the dead of 
the neighbourhood. My friend had known personally 
almost all of them. He found also a portrait of his own 
late father amongst the lot. . . ." 

*'Well? And was he satisfied?" 

"Oh, he was ver>' glad, very satisfied. Tt enabled him 
to choose the right thing to gratify the personal tastes 
of each demon, don't you see? He was not vexed at 
finding his father's portrait. His father was somewhat 
irascible; once he nearly broke both his son's legs, ad- 
ministering to him fatherly punishment with an iron 
bar, so that he could not possibly be very dangerous 
after his death. But another portrait, found on the best 
and the prettiest of the pyramids, amazed my friend a 
good deal, and put him in a blue funk. The whole dis- 

A witch's den. 187 

trict recognized an English officer, a certain Captain 
Pole, who in his lifetime was as kind a gentleman as 
ever lived." 

''Indeed? But do you mean to say that this vStrange 
people worshipped Captain Pole also?" 

••Of course they did! Captain Pole was such a worthy 
man, such an honest officer, that, after his death, he 
could not help being promoted to the highest rank of 
Shanar devils. The Pe-Kovil, demon's house, sacred to 
his memory, stands side by side with the Pe-Kovil 
Bhadrakali, which was recently conferred on the wife 
of a certain German missionary, who also was a most 
charitable lady and so is very dangerous now." 

'•But what are their ceremonies? Tell us something 
about their rites." 

"Their rites consist chiefly of dancing, singing, and 
killing sacrificial animals. The Shanars have no castes, 
and eat all kinds of meat. The crowd assembles about 
the Pe-Kovil, previously designated by the priest ; there 
is a general beating of drums, and slaughtering of fowls, 
sheep and goats. When Captain Pole's turn came an 
ox was killed, as a thoughtful attention to the peculiar 
tastes of his nation. The priest appeared, covered with 
bangles, and holding a wand on which tinkled number- 
less little bells,"and wearing garlands of red and white 
flowers round his neck, and a black mantle, on which 
were embroidered the ugliest fiends you can imagine. 
Horns were blown and drums rolled incessantly. And 
oh, I forgot to tell you there was also a kind of fiddle, 
the secret of which is known only to the Shanar priest- 
hood. Its bow is ordinary enough, made of bamboo; 
but it is whispered that the strings are human veins. 
.... When Captain Pole took possession of the 
priest's body, the priest leapt high in the air, and then 


rushed on the ox and killed him. He drank off the hot 
blood, and then began his dance. But what a fright he 
was when dancing ! You know, I am not superstitious. 
. . . . Ami? . . .'^ 

Sham Rao looked at us inquiringly, and I, for one, 

was glad, at this moment, that Miss X was half a 

mile off, asleep in the howdah. 

"He turned, and turned, as if possessed by all the 
demons of Naraka. The enraged crowd hooted and 
howled when the priest begun to inflict deep wounds all 
over his body with the bloody sacrificial knife. To see 
him, with his hair waving in the wind and his mouth 
covered with foam ; to see him bathing in the blood of 
the sacrificed animal, mixing it with his own, was more 
than I could bear. I felt as if hallucinated, I fancied I 
also was spinning round. . . ." 

Sham Rao stopped abruptly, strtfck dumb. Kangalim 
stood before us ! 

Her appearance was so unexpected that we all felt 
embarrassed. Carried away by Sham Rao's description, 
we had noticed neither how nor whence she came. Had 
she appeared from beneath the earth we could not have 
been more astonished. Narayan stared at her, opening 
wide his big jet-black eyes; the Babu clicked his tongue 
in utter confusion. 

Imagine a skeleton seven feet high, covered with 
brown leather, with a dead child's tiny head stuck on 
its bony shoulders; the eyes set so deep and at the 
same time flashing such fiendish flames all through your 
body that you begin to feel your brain stop working, 
your thoughts become entangled and your blood freeze 
in your veins. 

I describe my personal impressions, and no words of 
mine can do them justice. My description is too weak. 


Mr. Y and the colonel both grew pale under her 

stare, and Mr. Y made a movement as if about to 


Needless to say that such an impression could not 
last. As soon as the witch had turned her gleaming 
eyes to the kneeling crowd, it vanished as swiftly as it 
had come. But still all our attention was fixed on this 
remarkable creature. 

Three hundred years old! Who can tell? Judging 
by her appearance, we might as well conjecture her to 
be a thousand. We beheld a genuine living mummy, or 
rather a mummy endowed with motion. She seemed to 
have been withering since the creation. Neither time, 
nor the ills of life, nor the elements could ever affect this 
living statue of death. The all-destroying hand of time 
had touched her and stopped short. Time could do no 
more, and so had left her. And with all this, not a 
single grey hair. Her long black locks shone with a 
greenish sheen, and fell in heavy masses down to her 

To my great shame, I must confess that a disgusting 
reminiscence flashed into my memory. I thought about 
the hair and the nails of corpses growing in the graves, 
and tried to examine the nails of the old woman. 

Meanwhile, shifc stood motionless as if suddenly trans- 
formed into an ugly idol. In one hand she held a dish 
with a piece of burning camphor, in the other a handful 
of rice, and she never removed her burning eyes from 
the crowd. The pale yellow flame of the camphor 
flickered in the wind, and lit up her death-like head, 
almost touching her chin; but she paid no heed to it. 
Her neck, as wrinkled as a mushroom, as thin as a stick, 
was surrounded by three rows of golden medallions. 
Her head was adorned with a golden snake. Her 


grotesque, hardly human body was covered by a piece 
of saffron-yellow muslin. 

The demoniac little girls raised their heads from be- 
neath the leaves, and set up a prolonged animal-like 
howl. Their example was followed by the old man, 
who lay exhausted by his frantic dance. 

The witch tossed her head convulsively, and began 
her invocations, rising on tiptoe, as if moved by some 
external force. 

"The goddess, one of the seven sisters, begins to take 
possession of her," whispered Sham Rao, not even 
thinking of wiping away the big drops of sweat that 
streamed from his brow. "Look, look at her!" 

This advice was quite superfluous. We were looking 
at her, and at nothing else. 

At first, the movements of the witch were slow, un- 
equal, somewhat convulsive; then, gradually, they became 
less angular; at last, as if catching the cadence of the 
drums, leaning all her long bod}^ forward, and writhing 
like an eel, she rushed round and round the blazing 
bonfire. A dry leaf caught in a hurricane could not fly 
swifter. Her bare bony feet trod noiselessly on the rocky 
ground. The long locks of her hair flew round her like 
snakes, lashing the spectators, who knelt, stretching 
their trembling arms towards her, and writhing as if they 
were alive. Whoever was touched by one of this Fury's 
black curls, fell down on the ground, overcome with 
happiness, shouting thanks to the goddess, and con- 
sidering himself blessed for ever. It was not human 
hair that touched the happy elect, it was the goddess 
herself, one of the seven. 

Swifter and swifter fly her decrepit legs; the young, 
vigorous hands of the drummer can hardly follow her. 
But she does not think of catchino: the measure of his 

A witch's den. 191 

music; she rushes, she flies forward. Staring with her 
expressionless, motionless orbs at something before her, 
at something that is not visible to our mortal eyes, she 
hardly glances at her worshippers; then her look be- 
comes full of fire; and whoever she looks at feels 
burned through to the marrow of his bones. At every 
glance she throws a few grains of rice. The small 
handful seems inexhaustible, as if the wrinkled palm 
contained the bottomless bag of Prince Fortunatus. 

Suddenly she stops as if thunderstruck. 

The mad race round the bonfire had lasted twelve 
minutes, but we looked in vain for a trace of fatigue on 
the death-like face of the witch. She stopped only for 
a moment, just the necessary time for the goddess to 
release her. As soon as she felt free, by a single effort 
she jumped over the fire and plunged into the deep 
tank by the portico. This time, she plunged only 
once ; and whilst she stayed under the water, the second 
sister-goddess entered her body. Th^ little boj- in 
white produced another dish, with a new piece of burn- 
ing camphor, just in time f^^r the witch to take it up, 
and to rush again on her headlong way. 

The colonel sat w4th his watch in his hand. During 
the second obsession the witch ran, leaped, and raced 
for exactly fourteen minutes. After this, she plunged 
twice in the tank, in honour of the second sister; and 
with every new obsession the number of her plunges 
increased, till it became six. 

It was already an hour and a half since the race 
began. All this time the witch never rested, stopping 
only for a few seconds, to disappear under the water. 

"She is a fiend, she cannot be a woman!" exclaimed 
the colonel, seeing the head of the witch immersed for 
the sixth time in the water. 


'*Hang me if I know! " grumbled Mr. Y , nen^ously 

pulling his beard. ''The only thing I know is that a 
grain of her cursed rice entered my throat, and I can't 
get it out!" 

"Hush, hush! Please, do be quiet!" implored Sham 
Rao. *'By talking you will spoil the whole business! " 

I glanced at Narayan and lost myself in conjectures. 

His features, which usually were so calm and serene, 
were quite altered at this moment, by a deep shadow of 
suffering. His lips trembled, and the pupils of his eyes 
wei'e dilated, as if by a dose of bellado7i7ia. His eyes 
were lifted over the heads of the crowd, as if in his dis- 
gust he tried not to see what was before him, and at the 
same time could not see it, engaged in a deep reverie, 
which carried him away from us, and from the whole 

"What is the matter with him?" was my thought, but 
I had no time to ask him, because the witch was again 
in full swing, chasing her own shadow. 

But with the seventh goddess the programme was 
slightly changed. The running of the old woman 
changed to leaping. Sometimes bending down to the 
ground, like a black panther, she leaped up to some 
worshipper, and halting before him touched his fore- 
head with her finger, while her long, thin body shook 
with inaudible laughter. Then, again, as if shrinking 
back playfully from her shadow, and chased by it, in 
some uncanny game, the witch appeared to us like a 
horrid caricature of Dinorah, dancing her mad dance. 
Suddenly she straightened herself to her full height, 
darted to the portico and crouched before the smoking 
censer, beating her forehead against the granite steps. 
Another jump, and she was quite close to us, before the 
head of the monstrous Sivatherium, She knelt down 


again and bowed her head to the ground several times, 
with the sound of an empty barrel knocked against 
something hard. 

We had hardly the time to spring to our feet and 
shrink back when she appeared on the top of the Siva- 
therium's head, standing there amongst the horns. 

Narayan alone did not stir, and fearlessly looked 
straight in the eyes of the frightful sorceress. 

But what was this? Who spoke in those deep manly 
tones? Her lips were moving, from her breast were 
issuing those quick, abrupt phrases, but the voice 
sounded hollow as if coming from beneath the ground. 

**Hush, hush!" whispered Sham Rao, his whole body 
trembling. " She is going to prophesy ! . . ." 

**She?" incredulously inquired Mr. Y . "This a 

woman's voice? I don't believe it for a moment. Some- 
one's uncle mUvSt be stowed away somewhere about the 
place. Not the fabulous uncle she inherited from, but 
a real live one! . . ." 

Sham Rao winced under the irony of this supposition, 
and cast an imploring look at. the speaker. 

"Woe to you! woe to you!" echoed the voice. "Woe 
to you, children of the impure Jaya and Vijaya! of the 
mocking, unbelieving lingerers round great Shiva's door! 
Ye, who are cursed by eighty thousand sages ! Woe to 
you who believe not in the goddess Kali, and you who 
deny us, her Seven divine Sisters! Flesh-eating, yellow- 
legged vultures! friends of the oppressors of our land! 
dogs who are not ashamed to eat from the same trough 
with the Bellati!" (foreigners). 

"It seems to me that your prophetess only foretells 

the past," said Mr. Y , philosophically putting his 

hands in his pockets. "I should say that she is hinting 
at 3^ou, my dear Sham Rao." 


**Yes! and at us also," murmured the colonel, who 
was evidently beginning to feel uneasy. 

As to the unlucky Sham Rao, he broke out in a cold 
sweat, and tried to assure us that we were mistaken, that 
we did not fully understand her language. 

**It is not about you, it is not about you! It is of me 
she speaks, because I am in Government service. Oh, 
she is inexorable!" 

"Rakshasas! Asuras!" thundered the voice. *'How 
dare you appear before us? how dare you to stand on 
this holy ground in boots made of a cow's sacred skin? 
Be cursed for etern " 

But her curse was not destined to be finished. In an 
instant the Hercules-like Narayan had fallen on the 
Sivatherium, and upset the whole pile, the skull, the 
horns and the demoniac Pythia included. A second 
more, and we thought we saw the witch flying in the 
air towards the portico. A confused vision of a stout, 
shaven Brahman, suddenly emerging from under the 
Sivatherium and instantly disappearing in the hollow 
beneath it, flashed before m,y dilated eyes. 

But, alas! after the third second had passed, we all 
came to the embarrassing conclusion that, judging from 
the loud clang of the door of the cave, the representa- 
tive of the Seven Sisters had ignomin-Iously fled. The 
moment she had disappeared from our inquisitive eyes 
to her subterranean domain, we all realized that the 
unearthly hollow voice we had heard had nothing super- 
natural about it and belonged to the Brahman hidden 
under the Sivatherium — to someone's live uncle, as Mr. 
Y had rightly supposed. 

Oh, Narayan! how carelessly, how disorderly the 
worlds rotate around us. ... I begin to seriously 

A witch's den. 195 

doubt their reality. From this moment I shall earnestly 
believe that all things in the universe are nothing but 
illusion, a mere Maya. I am becoming a Vedantin. 
. . . I doubt that in the whole universe there may be 
found anything more objective than a Hindu witch 
flying up the spout. 

Miss X woke up, and asked what was the meaning 

of all this noise. The noise of many voices and the 
sounds of the many retreating footsteps, the general 
rush of the crowd, had frightened her. She listened to 
us with a condescending smile, and a few yawns, and 
went to sleep again. 

Next morning, at daybreak, we very reluctantly, it 
must be owned, bade good-bye to the kind-hearted, good- 
natured Sham Rao. The confoundingly easy victory of 
Narayan hung heavily on his mind. His faith in the 
holy hermitess and the seven goddesses was a good deal 
shaken by the shameful capitulation oi* the Sisters, who 
had surrendered at the first blow from a mere mortal. 
But during the dark hours of the night he had had time 
to think it over, and to shake off the uneasy feeling of 
having unwillingl}^ misled and disappointed his European 

Sham Rao still looked confused when he shook hands 
with us at parting, and expressed to us the best wishes 
of his family and himself. 

As to the heroes of this truthful narrative, they 
mounted their elephants once more, and directed their 
heavy steps towards the high road and Jubbulpore. 



The direction of our pilgrimage of self-improvement 
lay towards the north-west, as was previously decided. 
We were very impatient to see these status in statu of 
Anglo-India, but . . . Do what you may, there always 
will be a but. 

We left the Jubbulpore line several miles from Nassik ; 
and, to return to it, we had to go back to Akbarpur, 
then travel by doubtful Local-Board roads to the station 
Vanevad and take the train of Holkar's line, which joins 
the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. 

Meanwhile, the Bagh caves were quite close to us, 
not more than fifty miles off, to the east from Mandu. 
We were undecided whether to leave them alone or go 
back to the Nerbudda. In the country situated on the 
other side of Kandesh, our Babu had some "chums," as 
everywhere else in India; ^ the omnipresent Bengali 
Babus, who are always glad to be of some service to 
you, are scattered all over Hindostan, like the Jews in 
Russia. Besides, our party was joined by a new member. 

The da}^ before we had received a letter from Swami 
Dayanand, carried to us by a travelling Sannyasi. Daya- 
nand informed us that the cholera was increasing every 
day in Hardwar, and that we must postpone making his 
acquaintance personally till the end of May, either in 
Dehra-Dun, at the foot of Himalaya, or in Saharanpur, 
which attracts ever}^ tourist by its charming situation. 

The Sannyasi brought us also a nosegay from the 
Swami, a nosegay of the most extraordinary flowers, 
which are totally unknown in Europe. They grow only 


in certain Himalayan valleys ; they possess the wonder- 
ful capacity of changing their colour after midday, and 
do not look dead even when faded. The Latin name of 
this charming plant is Hibiscus mutabilis. At night they 
are nothing but a large knot of pressed green leaves, 
but from dawn till ten o'clock the flowers open and look 
like large snow-white roses; then, towards twelve o'clock, 
they begin to redden, and later in the afternoon they 
look as crimson as a peony. These flowers are sacred 
to the Asuras, a kind of fallen angels in Hindu myth- 
ology, and to the sun-god Surya. The latter deity fell 
in love with an Asura at the beginning of creation, and 
since then is constantly caught whispering words of fiery 
love to the flower that shelters her. But the AsurS is a 
virgin; she gives herself entirely to the service of the 
goddess Chastity, who is the patroness of all the ascetic 
brotherhoods. The love of Surya is vain, Asura will not 
listen to him. But under the flaming arrows of the en- 
amoured god she blushes and in appearance loses her 
purity. The natives call this plant lajjalUy the modest 
one. • 

We were spending the night by a brook, under a 
shadowy fig-tree. The Sannyasi, who had made a wide 
circuit to fulfil Dayanand's request, made friends with 
us ; and we sat up late in the night, listening whilst he 
talked about his travels, the wonders of his native 
country, once so great, and about the heroic deeds of 
old Runjit-Sing, the Lion of the Punjab. 

Strange, mysterious beings are found sometimes 
amongst these travelling monks. Some of them are 
very learned; read and talk Sanskrit; know all about 
modern science and politics; and, nevertheless, remain 
faithful to their ancient philosophical conceptions. 
Generally they do not wear any clothes, except a piece 


of muslin round the loins, which is insisted upon by the 
police of the towns inhabited by Europeans. They w^ander 
from the age of fifteen, all their lives, and die generally 
very aged. They live never giving a thought to the 
morrow, like the birds of heaven, and the lilies of the 
field. They never touch money, and are contented with 
a handful of rice. All their worldly possessions consist 
of a small dry pumpkin to carry water, a rosary, a brass 
cup and a walking stick. The Sannyasis and the 
SwSmis are usually Sikhs from the Punjab, and mono- 
theists. They despise idol-worshippers, and have no- 
thing to do with them, though the latter very often call 
themselves by their names. 

Our new friend was a native of Amritsar, in the 
Punjab, and had been brought up in the ''Golden 
Temple," on the banks of Amrita-Saras, the "Lake of 
Immortality." The head Guru, or instructor, of Sikhs 
resides there. He never crosses the boundaries of the 
temple. His chief occupation is the study of the book 
called Adigrantha^ which belongs to the sacred litera- 
ture of this strange bellicose sect. The Sikhs respect 
him as much as the Tibetans respect their Dalai-Lama. 
The Lamas in general consider the latter to be the 
incarnation of Buddha, the Sikhs think that the Maha- 
Guru of Amritsar is the incarnation of Nanak, the founder 
of their sect. Nevertheless, no true Sikh will ever say 
that Nanak was a deity ; they look on him as a prophet, 
inspired by the spirit of the only God. 

This shows that our Sannyasi was not one of the 
naked travelling monks, but a true Akali ; one of the six 
hundred warrior-priests attached to the Golden Temple, 
for the purpose of serving God and protecting the temple 
from the destructive Mussulmans. His name was Ram- 
Runjit-Das; and his personal appearance was in perfect 

god's warrior. 199 

accordance with his title of "God's warrior." His 
exterior was very remarkable and typical ; and he looked 
like a muscular centurion of ancient Roman legions, 
rather than a peaceable servant of the altar. 

Ram-Runjit-Das appeared to us mounted on a magnifi- 
cent horse, and accompanied by another Sikh, who 
respectfully walked some distance behind him, and was 
evidently passing through his noviciate. Our Hindu 
companions had discerned that he was an Akali, when 
he was still in the distance. He wore a bright blue tunic 
without sleeves, exactly like that we see on the statues 
of Roman warriors. Broad steel bracelets protected his 
strong arms, and a shield protruded from behind his 
back. A blue, conical turban covered his head, and 
round his waist were many steel circlets. The enemies 
of the Sikhs assert that these sacred sectarian belts 
become more dangerous in the hand of an experienced 
"God's warrior," than any other weapon. 

The Sikhs are the bravest and the most warlike sect 
of the whole Punjab. The word sikh means disciple. 
Founded in the fifteenth cpntury by the wealthy and 
noble Brahman Nanak, the new teaching spread so suc- 
cessfully amongst the northern soldiers, that in 1539 
A.D., when the founder died, it counted one hundred 
thousand followei-s. At the present time, this sect, har- 
monizing closely with the fiery natural mysticism, and 
the warlike tendencies of the natives, is the reigning 
creed of the whole Punjab. It is based on the prin- 
ciples of theocratic rule; but its dogmas are almost 
totally unknown to Europeans ; the teachings, the reli- 
gious conceptions, and the rites of the Sikhs, are kept 
secret. The following details are known generally: the 
Sikhs are ardent monotheists, they refuse to recognize 
caste; have no restrictions in diet, like Europeans; and 


bury their dead, whicli, except among Mussulmans, is a 
rare exception in India. The second volume of the Adi- 
grantha teaches them *'to adore the only true God; to 
avoid superstitions ; to help the dead, that they viay lead a 
righteous life; and to earn one's living, sword in hand.'* 
Govinda, one of the great Gurus of the Sikhs, ordered 
them never to shave their beards and moustaches, and 
not to cut their hair — in order that they may not be 
mistaken for Mussulmans or any other native of India. 

Many a desperate battle the Sikhs fought and won, 
against the Mussulmans, and against the Hindus. Their 
leader, the celebrated Runj it-Sing, after having been 
acknowledged the autocrat of the Upper Punjab, con- 
cluded a treaty with Lord Auckland, at the beginning of 
this century, in which his country was proclaimed an 
independent state. But after the death of the "old 
lion," his throne became the cause of the most dreadful 
civil wars and disorders. His son, Maharaja Dhulip- 
Sing, proved quite unfit for the high post he inherited 
from his father, and, under him, the Sikhs became an 
ill-disciplined restless mobo Their attempt to conquer 
the whole of Hindostan proved disastrous. Persecuted 
by his own soldiers, Dhulip-Sing sought the help of 
Englishmen, and was sent away to Scotland. And some 
time after this, the Sikhs took their j^ace amongst the 
rest of Britain's Indian subjects. 

But still there remains a strong body of the great Sikh 
sect of old. The Kuks represent the most dangerous 
underground current of the popular hatred. This new 
sect was founded about thirty years ago [written in 
1879] by Balaka-Rama, and, at first, formed a bulk of 
people near Attok, in the Punjab, on the east bank of 
the Indus, exactly on the spot where the latter becomes 
navigable. Balaka-Rama had a double aim; to restore 


the religion of the Sikhs to its pristine purity, and to 
organize a secret political body, which must be ready for 
everything, at a moment's notice. This brotherhood 
consists of sixty thousand members, who pledged them- 
selves never to reveal their secrets, and never to disobey 
any order of their leaders. In Attok they are few, for 
the town is small. But we were assured that the Kuks 
live everywhere in India. Their community is so per- 
fectly organized that it is impossible to find them out, or 
to learn the names of their leaders. 

In the course of the evening our Akali presented us 
with a little crystal bottle, filled with water from the 
"Lake of Immortality." He said that a drop of it would 
cure all diseases of the eye. There are numbers of fresh 
springs at the bottom of this lake, and so its water is 
wonderfully pure and transparent, in spite of hundreds 
of people daily bathing in it. When, later on, we visited 
it, we had the opportunity to verify the fact that the 
smallest stone at the bottom is seen perfectly distinctly, 
all over the one hundred and fifty square yards of the 
lake. Amrita-Saras is the most charming of all the 
sights of Northern India. The reflection of the Golden 
Temple in its crystal waters makes a picture that is 
simply feerique. 

We had stilUseven weeks at our disposal. We were 
undecided between exploring the Bombay Presidency, 
the North- West Provinces and the Rajistan. Which 
were we to choose? Where were we to go? How best 
to employ our time? Before such a variety of interest- 
ing places we became irresolute. Hyderabad, which is 
said to transport the tourists into the scenery of the 
Arabian Nights ^ seemed so attractive that we seriously 
thought of turning our elephants back to the territory of 
the Nizam. We grew fond of the idea of visiting this 


"City of the I,ion," which was built in 1589 by the 
magnificent Mohamed-Kuli-Kutb-Shah, who was so 
used to luxuries of every kind as to grow weary even of 
Golkonda, with all its fairyland castles and bright 
gardens. Some buildings of Hyderabad, mere remnants 
of the past glory, are still known to renown. Mir- 
Abu-Talib, the keeper of the Royal Treasury, states 
that Mohamed-Kuli-Shah spent the fabulous sum of 
;^2,8oo,ooo sterling on the embellishment of the town, at 
the beginning of his reign; though the labour of the 
workmen did not cost him anything at all. Save these 
few memorials of greatness, the town looks like a heap of 
rubbish nowadays. But all tourists are unanimous on 
one point, namely, that the British Residency of Hydera- 
bad still deserves its title of the Versailles of India. 

The title the British Residency bears, and everything 
it may contain at the present time, are mere trifles com- 
pared with the past. I remember reading a chapter of 
the History of Hyderabad, by an English author, which 
contained something to the following effect: Whilst 
the Resident entertained the gentlemen, his wife was 
similarly employed receiving the ladies a few yards off, 
in a separate palace, which was as sumptuous, and bore 
the name of Rang-Mahal. Both palaces were built by 
Colonel Kirkpatrick, the late minister « at the Nizam's 
court. Having married a native princess, be constructed 
this charming abode for her personal use. Its garden is 
surrounded by a high wall, as is customary in the 
Orient, and the centre of the garden is adorned with a 
large marble fountain, covered with scenes from the 
Rdmdyana, and mosaics. Pavilions, galleries and ter- 
races — everything in this garden is loaded with adorn- 
ments of the most costly Oriental style, that is to say, 
with abundance of inlaid designs, paintings, gilding, 

god's warrior. 203 

ivory and marble. The great attraction of Mrs. Kirk- 
patrick's receptions were the nautches, magnificently 
dressed, thanks to the generosity of the Resident. Some 
of them wore a cargo of jewels worth ;^30,ooo, and liter- 
ally shone from head to foot with diamonds and other 
precious stones. 

The glorious times of the East India Company are 
beyond recall, and no Residents, and even no native 
princes, could now afford to be so ** generous." India, 
this "most precious diamond of the British crown," is 
utterly exhausted, like a pile of gold in the hands of an 
alchemist, who thriftlessly spent it in the hope of finding 
the philosopher's stone. Besides ruining themselves 
and the country, the Anglo-Indians commit the greatest 
blunders, at least in two points of their present Govern- 
ment system. These two points are: first, the Western 
education they give to the higher classes ; and, secondly, 
the protection and maintenance of the rights of idol- 
worship. Neither of these systems is»wise. By means 
of the first they successfully replace the religious feelings 
of old India, which, howeve.r false, had the great advan- 
tage of being sincere, by a positive atheism amongst the 
3^oung generation of the Brahmans; and by the means 
of the second they flatter only the ignorant masses, from 
whom nothing i*s to be feared under any circumstances. 
If the patriotic feelings of the bulk of the population 
could possibly be roused, the English would have been 
slaughtered long ago. The rural populace is unarmed, 
it is true, but a crowd seeking revenge could use the 
brass and stone idols, sent to India by thousands from 
Birmingham, with as great success as if they were so 
many swords. But, as it is, the masses of India are in- 
different and harmless; so that the only existing danger 
comes from the side of the educated classes. And the 


English fail to see that the better the education they 
give them, the more careful they must be to avoid re- 
opening the old wounds, always alive to new injury, in 
the heart of every true Hindu. The Hindus are proud 
of the past of their country, dreams of past glories are 
their only compensation for the bitter present. The 
English education they receive only enables them to 
learn that Europe was plunged in the darkness of the 
Stone Age, when India was in the full growth of her 
splendid civilization. And so the comparison of their 
past with their present is only the more sad. This con- 
sideration never hinders the Anglo-Indians from hurting 
the feelings of the Hindus. For instance, in the unani- 
mous opinion of travellers and antiquarians, the most 
interesting building of Hyderabad is Chahar-Minar, a 
college that was built by Mohamed-Kuli-Khan on the 
ruins of a still more ancient college. It is built at the 
crossing of four streets, on four arches, which are so 
high that loaded «camels and elephants with their turrets 
pass through freely. Over these arches rise the several 
stories of the college. Each storj^ once was destined for 
a separate branch of learning. Alas! the times when 
India studied philosophy and astronomy at the feet of 
her great sages are gone, and the English have trans- 
formed the college itself into a warehouse. The hall, 
which served for the study of astronomy, and was filled 
with quaint, mediaeval apparatus, is now used for a 
depot of opium; and the hall of philosophy contains 
huge boxes of liqueurs, rum and champagne, which are 
prohibited by the Koran, as well as by the Brahmans. 

We were so enchanted by what we heard about 
Hyderabad, that we resolved to start thither the very 
next morning, when our ciceroni and companions de- 
stroyed all our plans by a single word. This word 

god's warrior. 205 

was: heat. During the hot season in Hyderabad the 
thermometer reaches ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit 
in the shade, and the temperature of the water in the 
Indus is the temperature of the blood. As to Upper 
Sindh, where the dryness of the air, and the extreme 
aridity of the sandy soil reproduce the Sahara in minia- 
ture, the usual shade temperature is one hundred and 
thirty degrees Fahrenheit. No wonder the missionaries 
have no chance there. The most eloquent of Dante's 
descriptions of hell could hardly produce anything but a 
cooling effect on a populace who live perfectly contented 
under these circumstances. 

Calculating that there was no obstacle to our going to 
the Bagh caves, and that going to Sindh was a perfect 
impossibility, we recovered our equanimity. Then the 
general council decided that we had better abandon all 
ideas of a predetermined plan, and travel as fancy led us. 

We dismissed our elephants, and next day, a little 
before sunset, arrived at the spot where the Yagrey and 
Girna join. These are two little rivers, quite famous in 
the annals of the Indian mythology, and which are 
generally conspicuous by their absence, especially in 
summer. At the opposite side of the river, there lay the 
illustrious Bagh caves, with their four openings blinking 
in the thick evening mist. 

We thought of crossing to them immediately, by the 
help of a ferry boat, but our Hindu friends and the boat- 
men interposed. The former said that visiting these 
caves is dangerous even by daytime; because all the 
neighbourhood is full of beasts of prey and of tigers, 
who, I concluded, are like the Bengali Babus, to be met 
with everywhere in India. Before venturing into these 
caves, you must send a reconnoitring party of torch- 
bearers and armed shikaris. As to the boatmen, they 


protested on different grounds, but protested strongly. 
They said that no Hindu would dare to approach these 
caves after the sun set. No one but a Bellati would 
fancy that Vagrey and Girna are ordinary rivers, for 
every Hindu knows they are divine spouses, the god 
Shiva and his wife Parvati. This, in the first instance ; 
and in the second, the Bagh tigers are no ordinary tigers 
either. The sahibs are totally mistaken. These tigers 
are the servants of the Sadhus, of the holy miracle- 
workers, who have haunted the caves now for many 
centuries, and who deign sometimes to take the shape 
of a tiger. And neither the gods, nor the Sadhus, nor 
the glamour, nor the true tigers are fond of being dis- 
turbed in their nightly rest. 

What could we say against all this? We cast one 
more sorrowful look at the caves, and returned to our 
antediluvian carriages. The Babu and Narayan said we 
must spend the night at the house of a certain "chum" 
of the Babu, who resided in a small town, three miles 
further on, and bearing the same name as the caves; 
and we unwillingly acquiescefi. 

Many things in India are wonderful and unintelligible, 
but one of the most wonderful and the most unintelligible, 
is the geographical and the topographical disposition of 
the numberless territories of this coilhtry. Political 
conjunctures in India seem to be everlastingly playing 
the French game casse-tete, changing the pattern, di- 
minishing one part and adding to another. The land 
that only yesterday belonged to this Raja or that Takur, 
is sure to be found to-day in the hands of quite a different 
set of people. For instance, we were in the Raj of Amjir 
in Malva, and we were going to the little city of Bagh, 
which also belongs to Malva and is included in the Amjir 
Raj. In the documents, Malva is included in the in- 

god's warrior. 207 

dependent possessions of Holkar; and nevertheless the 
Amjir Raj does not belong to Tukuji- Rao- Holkar, but 
to the son of the independent Raja of Amjir, who was 
hanged, "by inadvertence" as we were assured, in 1857. 
The cit3% and the caves of Bagh, very oddly belong to 
the Maharaja Sindya of Gwalior, who, besides, does not 
own them personally, having made a kind of present of 
them, and their nine thousand rupees of revenue, to some 
poor relation. This poor relation, in his turn, does not 
enjoy the property in the least, because a certain Rajput 
Takur stole it from him, and will not consent to give it 
back. Bagh is situated on the road from Gujerat to 
Malva, in the defile of Oodeypur, which is owned accord- 
ingly by the Maharana of Oode}- pur. Bagh itself is built 
on the top of a woody hillock, and being disputed property 
does not belong to any one in particular, properly speak- 
ing; but a small fortress, and a bazaar in the centre of it 
are the private possessions of a certain dhani ; who, 
besides being the chieftain of the Blrimalah tribe, was 
the personal "chum" ofour Babu, and a " great thief and 
highway robber," according to the assertions of the said 

"But why do you intend taking us to the place of 
a man whom you consider as a thief and a robber?" 
objected one of us timidl3^ 

"He is a thief and a brigand," coolly answered the 
Bengali, "but only in the political sense. Otherwise he 
is an excellent man, and the truest of friends. Besides, 
if he does not help us, we shall starve; the bazaar and 
everything in the shops belong to him." 

These explanations of the Babu notwithstanding, we 
were glad to learn that the "chum" in question was 
absent, and we were received by a relation of his. The 
garden was put at our disposal, and before our tents 


were pitched, we saw people coming from every side of 
the garden, bringing us provisions. Having deposited 
what he had brought, each of them, on leaving the tent, 
threw over his shoulder a pinch of betel and soft sugar, 
an offering to the "foreign bhutas," which were supposed 
to accompany us wherever we went. The Hindus of 
our party asked us, very seriously, not to laugh at this 
performance, saying it would be dangerous in this out- 
of-the-way place. 

No doubt they were right. We were in Central mdia, 
the very nest of all kinds of superstitions, and were 
surrounded by Bhils. All along the Vindya ridge, from 
Yama, on the west of the "dead city," the country is 
thickly populated by this most daring, restless and 
superstitious of all the half-savage tribes of India. 

The Orientalists think that the name Bhils comes 
from the Sanskrit root bhidy which means to separate. 
Sir J. Malcolm supposes accordingly that the Bhils are 
sectarians, who separated from the Brahmanical creed, 
and were excommunicated. All this looks very probable, 
but their tribal traditions say something different. Of 
course, in this case, as in every other, their history is 
strongly entangled with mythology ; and one has to go 
through a thick shrubbery of fancy before reaching the 
tribe's genealogical tree. 

The relation of the absent dhani, who spent the 
evening with us, told us the following: The Bhils are 
the descendants of one of the sons of Mahadeva, or 
Shiva, and of a fair woman, with blue eyes and a white 
face, whom he met in some forest on the other side of 
the Kalapani, "black waters," or ocean. This pair had 
several sons, one of whom, as handsome as he was 
vicious, killed the favourite ox of his grandfather Maha- 
deva, and was banished by his father to the Jodpur 

god's warrior. 209 

desert. Banished to its remotest southern corner, he 
married; and soon his descendants filled the whole 
country. They scattered along the Vindya ridge, on 
the western frontier of Malva and Kandesh ; and, later, 
in the woody wilderness, on the shores of the rivers 
Maha, Narmada and Tapti. And all of them, inheriting 
the beauty of their forefather, his blue eyes and fair 
complexion, inherited also his turbulent disposition and 
his vice. 

"We are thieves and robbers," naively explained the 
relative of the Babu's "chum," "but we can't help it, 
because this is the decree of our mighty forefather, the 
great Maha-deva-Shiva. Sending his grandson to repent 
his sins in the desert, he said to him: 'Go, wretched 
murderer of my son and your brother, the ox Nardi ; go 
and live the life of an exile and a brigand, to be an ever- 
lasting warning to your brethren ! . .' These are the 
very words of the great god. Now, do you think we 
could disobey his orders? The least of our actions is 
always regulated by our Bhamyas — chieftains — who are 
the direct descendants of Nadir-Sing, the first Bhil, 
the child of our exiled ancestor, and being this, it is 
only natural that the great god speaks to us through 

Is not it strange that Apis, the sacred ox of the 
Egyptians, is honoured by the followers of Zoroaster, as 
well as by the Hindus? The ox Nardi, the emblem of 
life in nature, is the son of the creating father, or rather 
his life-giving breath. Ammianus Marcellinus men- 
tions, in one of his works, that there exists a book which 
gives the exact age of Apis, the clue to the mystery of 
creation and the cyclic calculations. The Brahmans 
also explain the allegory of the ox Nardi by the con- 
tinuation of life on our globe. 


The "mediators" between Shiva and the Bhils possess 
such unrestricted authority that the most awful crimes 
are accomplished at their lightest word. The tribe have 
thought it necessary to decrease their power to a certain 
extent by instituting a kind of council in every village. 
This council is called iarvi^ and tries to cool down the 
hot-headed fancies of the dha7iis, their brigand lords. 
However, the word of the Bhils is sacred, and their 
hospitality is boundless. 

The history ana the annals of the princes of Jodpur 
and Oode3^pur confirm the legend of the Bhil emigra- 
tion from their primitive desert, but how they happened 
to be there nobody knows. Colonel Tod is positive that 
the Bhils, together with the Merases and the Goands, 
are the aborigines of India, as well as the tribes who 
inhabit the Nerbuda forests. But why the Bhils should 
be almost fair and blue-eyed, whereas the rest of the hill- 
tribes are almost African in type, is a question that is 
not answered b}^ this statement. The fact that all these 
aborigines call themselves Bhuinapiit7'a and Vanapiitf-a^ 
sons of the earth and sons of the forest, when the 
Rajputs, their first conquerors, call themselves Surya- 
vansa and the Brahmans Indu-putras, descendants of the 
sun and the moon, does not prove eveiy thing. It seems 
to me, that in the present case, their appearance, which 
confirms their legends, is of much greater value than 
philology. Dr. Clark, the author of Travels in Scandi- 
navia^ is very logical in saying that, **by directing our 
attention on the traces of the ancient superstitions of a 
tribe, we shall find out who were its primitive forefathers 
much more easily than by scientific examination of their 
tongue ; the superstitions are grafted on the very root, 
whereas the tongue is subjected to all kinds of changes." 


But, unfortunately, everything we know about the his- 
tory of the Bhils is reduced to the above-mentioned tra- 
dition, and to a few ancient songs of their bards. These 
bards or that fas live in Rajistan, but visit the Bhils 
yearly, in order not to lose the leading thread of the 
achievements of their countrymen. Their songs are 
history, because the bhattas have existed from time im- 
memorial, composing their lays for future generations, 
for this is their hereditary duty. And the songs of the 
remotest antiquity point to the lands over the Kala- 
pani as the place whence the Bhils came; that is to 
say, some place in Europe. Some Orientalists, especially 
Colonel Tod, seek to prove that the Rajputs, who con- 
quered the Bhils, were newcomers of Scythian origin, 
and that the Bhils are the true aborigines. To prove 
this, they put forv\^ard some features common to both 
peoples, Rajput and Scythian, for instance (i) the wor- 
ship of the sword, the lance, the shield and the horse; 

(2) the worship of, and the sacrifice to; the sun (which, 
as far as I know, never was worshipped by the Scythians) ; 

(3) the passion of gambling (which again is as strong 
amongst the Chinese and the Japanese) ; (4) the custom 
of drinking blood out of the skull of an enemy (which is 
also practised by some aborigines of America), etc., etc. 

I do not intend entering here on a scientific ethno- 
logical discussion; and, besides, I am sure no one fails 
to see that the reasoning of scientists sometimes takes 
a very strange turn when they set to prove some favourite 
theory of theirs. It is enough to remember how entan- 
gled and obscure is the history of the ancient Scythians 
to abstain from drawing any positive conclusions what- 
soever from it. The tribes that go under one general 
denomination of Scythians were many, and still it is 
impossible to deny that there is a good deal of simili- 



tude between the customs of the old Scandinavians, wor- 
shippers of Odin, whose land indeed was occupied by 
the Scythians more than five hundred years B.C. and 
the customs of the Rajputs. But this similitude gives 
as much right to the Rajputs to say that we are a colony 
of Surya-vansas settled in the West as to us to maintain 
that the Rajputs are the descendants of Scythians who 
emigrated to the East. The Scythians of Herodotus 
and the Scythians of Ptolemy, and some other classical 
writers, are two perfectly distinct nationalities. Under 
Scythia, Herodotus means the extension of land from 
the mouth of Danube to the Sea of Azoff, according to 
Niebuhr ; and to the mouth of Don, according to Raw- 
linson; whereas the Scythia of Ptolemy is a country 
strictly Asiatic, including the whole space between the 
river Volga and Serika, or China. Besides this, Scythia 
was divided by the western Himalayas, which the Roman 
writers call ImauSy into Scythia i7itra Imaum, and Scythia 
extra Imaum. Given this lack of precision, the Rajputs 
may be called the Scythians of Asia, and the Scythians 
the Rajputs of Europe, with the same degree of likeli- 
hood. Pinl^erton's opinion is that European contempt for 
the Tartars would not be half so strong if the European 
public learned how closely we are related to them ; that 
our forefathers came from northern Asia, and that our 
primitive customs, laws and mode of living were the 
same as theirs; in a word, that we are nothing but a 
Tartar colony . . . Cimbri, Kelts and Gauls, who 
conquered the northern part of Europe, are different 
names of the same tribe, whose origin is Tartary. Who 
were the Goths, the Swedes, the Vandals, the Huns and 
the Franks, if not separate swarms of the same bee- 
hive? The annals of Sweden point to Kashgar as the 
fatherland of the Swedes. The likeness between the 

god's warrior. 


languages of the Saxons and the Kipchak-Tartars is 
striking; and the Keltic, which still exists in Brittany 
and in Wales, is the best proof that their inhabitants 
are descendants of the Tartar nation. 

Whatever Pinkerton and others may say, the modem 
Rajput warriors do not answer in the least the descrip- 
tion Hippocrates gives us of the Scythians. The "father 
of medicine" says: ''The bodily structure of these men 
is thick, coarse and stunted; their joints are weak and 
flabby; they have almost no hair, and each of them 
resembles the other." No man, who has seen the hand- 
some, gigantic warriors of Rajistan, with their abundant 
hair and beards, will ever recognize this portrait drawn 
by Hippocrates as theirs. Besides, the Scythians, who- 
ever they may be, buried their dead, which the Rajputs 
never did, judging by the records of their most ancient 
MSS. The Scythians were a wandering nation, and are 
described by Hesiod as "living in covered carts and 
feeding on mare's milk." And the Rajputs have been 
a sedentary people from time immemorial, inhabiting 
towns, and having their hist6ry at least several hundred 
years before Christ — that is to say, earlier than the epoch 
of Herodotus. They do celebrate the Ashvamedha, the 
horse sacrifice; ^ut will not touch mare's milk, and 
despise all Mongolians. Herodotus says that the Scy- 
thians, who called themselves Skoloti, hated foreigners, 
and never let any stranger in their country; and the 
Rajputs are one of the most hospitable peoples of the 
world. In the epoch of the wars of Darius, 516 B.C., the 
Scythians were still in their own district, about the 
mouth of the Danube. And at the same epoch the 
Rajputs were already known in India and had their 
own kingdom. As to the Ashvamedha, which Colonel 
Tod thinks to be the chief illustration of his theory, the 


custom of killing horses in honour of the sun is men-, 
tioned in the Rig- Veda^ as well as in the Aitareya- 
Brahmana. Martin Haug states that the latter has 
probably been in existence since 2000-2400 B.C. 

But it strikes me that the digression from the Babu's 
chum to the Scythians and the Rajputs of the antedilu- 
vian epoch threatens to become too long, so I beg the 
reader's pardon and resume the thread of my narrative. 


Next day, early in the morning, the local shikaris 
went under the leadership of the warlike Akali, to hunt 
glamoured and real tigers in the caves. It took them 
longer than we expected. The old Bhil, who represented 
to us the absent dhani, proposed that in the meanwhile 
we should witness a Brahmanical wedding ceremony. 
Needless to say, we jumped at this. The ceremonies of 
betrothal and marriage have not changed in India dur- 
ing the last two millenniums at least. They are per- 
formed according to the directions of Manu, and the old 
tlieme has no new variations. India's religious rites 
have crystallized long ago. Whoever has seen a Hindu 
wedding in 1879, saw it as it was celebrated in ancient 
Aryavarta many centuries ago. 

A few days before we left Bombay we read in a small 
local newspaper two announcements of marriages: the 
first the marriage of a Brahman heiress, the second of a 
daughter of the fire-worshippers. The first announce- 
ment was something to the following efiect: "The family 
of Bimbay Mavlankar, etc., etc., are preparing for a 
happy event. This respectable member of our com- 
munity, unlike the rest of the less fortunate Brahmans of 
his caste, has found a husband for his granddaughter in 
a rich Gujerat family of the same caste. The little 
Rama-bai is already five, her future husband is seven. 
The wedding is to take place in two months and promises 
to be brilliant." 


The second announcement referred to an accomplished 
fact. It appeared in a Parsi paper, which strongly insists 
on the necessity of giving up ** disgusting superannuated 
customs," and especially the early marriage. It justly 
ridiculed a certain Gujerati newspaper, which had just 
described in very pompous expressions a recent wedding 
ceremony in Poona. The bridegroom, who had just 
entered his sixth year "pressed to his heart a blushing 
bride of two and a half!'* The usual answers of this 
couple entering into matrimony proved so indistinct that 
the Mobed had to address the questions to their parents : 
"Are you willing to have him for your lawful husband, 
O daughter of Zaratushta?" and "Are you willing to be 
her husband, O son of Zoroaster?" "Everything went 
as well as it could be expected," continued the news- 
paper; "the bridegroom was led out of the room by the 
hand, and the bride, who was carried away in arms, 
greeted the guests, not with smiles, but with a tremen- 
dous howl, whicli made her forget the existence of such 
a thing as a pocket-handkerchief, and remember only 
her feeding-bottle; for the latter article she asked re- 
peatedly, half choked with sobs, and throttled with the 
weight of the family diamonds. Taking it all in all, it 
was a Parsi marriage, which shows the progress of our 
speedily developing nation with the exactitude of a 
weather glass," added the satirical newspaper. 

Having read this we laughed heartily, though we did 
not give full credit to this description, and thought it a 
good deal exaggerated. We knew Parsi and Brahman 
families in which were husbands of ten years of age ; but 
had never heard as yet of a bride who was a baby in arms. 

It is not without reason that the Brahmans are fervent 
upholders of the ancient law which prohibits to every- 


one, except the officiating Brahmans, the study of 
Sanskrit and the reading of the Vedas. The Shudras 
and even the high-born Vaishyas were in olden times to 
be executed for such an offence. The secret of this 
rigour lies in the fact that the Vedas do not permit 
matrimony for women under fifteen to twenty years of 
age, and for men under twenty- five, or even thirty. 
Eager above all that every religious ceremony should fill 
their pockets, the Brahmans never stopped at disfiguring 
their ancient sacred literature; and not to be caught, 
they pronounced its study accursed. Amongst other 
" criminal inventions," to use the expression of Swami 
Dayanand, there is a text in the Brahmanical books, 
which contradicts everything that is to be found in the 
Vedas on this particular matter: I speak of the Kudva 
Kunbis, the wedding season of all the agricultural classes 
of Central Asia. This season is to be celebrated once 
in every twelve years, but it appears to be a field from 
which Messieurs les Brahmans gathered the most abundant 
harvest. At this epoch, all the mothers have to seek 
audiences from the goddes^ Mata, the great mother — of 
course through her rightful oracles the Brahmans. MatS 
is the special patroness of all the four kinds of marriages 
practised in India: the marriages of adults, of children, 
of babies, and 01' specimens of humanity that are as yet 
to be born. 

The latter is the queerest of all, because the feelings 
it excites are so very like gambling. In this case, the 
marriage ceremony is celebrated between the mothers 
of the future children. Many a curious incident is the 
result of these matrimonial parodies. But a true Brahman 
will never allow the derision of fate to shake his dignity, 
and the docile population never will doubt the infallibility 
of these ** elect of the gods." An open antagonism -to 


the Brahmanical institutions is more than rare ; the feel- 
ings of reverence and dread the masses show to the 
Brahmans are so blind and so sincere, that an outsider 
cannot help smiling at them and respecting them at the 
same time. 

If both the mothers have children of the same sex, it 
will not upset the Brahman in the least ; he will say this 
was the will of the goddess Mata, it shows that she desires 
the new-born babies to be two loving brothers, or two 
loving sisters, as the case may be, in future. And if the 
children grow up, they will be acknowledged heirs to the 
properties of both mothers. In this case, the Brahman 
breaks the bonds of the marriage by the order of the 
goddess, is paid for doing so, and the whole affair is 
dropped altogether. But if the children are of different 
sexes these bonds cannot be broken, even if they are 
bom cripples or idiots. 

While I am dealing with the family life of India, I had 
better mention some other features, not to return to them 
any more. No Hindu has the right to remain single. 
The only exceptions are, in case the child is destined to 
monastic life from the first days of his existence, and in 
case the child is consecrated to the service of one of the 
gods of the Trimurti even before he is born. Religion 
insists on matrimony for the sake of having a son, whose 
duty it will be to perform every prescribed rite, in order 
that his departed father may enter Swarga^ or paradise. 
Even the caste of Brahmacharyas, who take vows of 
chastity, but take a part and interest in worldly life — 
and so are the unique lay-celibates of India — are 
bound to adopt sons. The rest of the Hindus must 
remain in matrimony till the age of forty; after which 
they earn the right to leave the world, and to seek salva- 


tion, leading an ascetic life in some jungle. If a member 
of some Hindu family happens to be afflicted from birth 
with some organic defect, this will not be an impediment 
to his marrying, on the condition that his wife should 
be also a cripple, if she belongs to the same cavSte. The 
defects of husband and wife must be diiferent: if he is 
blind, she must be hump-backed or lame, and vice versa. 
But if the young man in question is prejudiced, and 
wants a healthy wife, he must condescend to make a 
mesalliance; he must stoop to choose a wife in a caste 
that is exactly one degree lower than his own. But in 
this case his kinsmen and associates will not acknowledge 
her; Wi^parvenue will not be received on any conditions 
whatever. Besides, all these exceptional instances de- 
pend entirely on the family Guru — on the priest who 
is inspired by the gods. 

All the above holds good as far as the men are con- 
cerned ; but with the women it is quite different. 

Only the nautches — dancing girls consecrated to gods, 
and living in temples — can be said to be free and happy. 
Their occupation is hereditary, but they are vestals and 
daughters of vestals, however strange this may sound to 
a European ear. But the notions of the Hindus, espe- 
cially on questions of morality, are quite independent, 
and even anti-Western, if I may use this expression. 
No one is more severe and exacting in the questions of 
feminine honour and chastity ; but the Brahmans proved 
to be more cunning than even the Roman augurs. Rhea 
Sylvia, for instance, the mother of Romulus and Remus, 
was buried alive by the ancient Romans, in spite of the 
god Mars taking an active part in \i.^rfaux pas. Numa 
and Tiberius took exceedingly good care that the good 
morals of their priestesses should not become merely 
nominal. But the vestals on the banks of the Ganges 


and the Indus understand the question differently from 
those on the banks of the Tiber. The intimacy of the 
nautch-girls with the gods, which is generally accepted, 
cleanses them from every sin and makes them in every 
one's eyes irreproachable and infallible. A nautcha 
cannot sin, in spite of the crowd of the ** celestial musi- 
cians" who swarm in every pagoda, in the form of baby- 
vestals and their little brothers. No virtuous Roman 
matron was ever so respected as the pretty little nautcha. 
This great reverence for the happy " brides of the gods " 
is especially striking in the purely native towns of Cen- 
tral India, where the population has preserved intact 
their blind faith in the Brahmans. 

Every nautcha can read, and receives the highest 
Hindu education. They all read and write in Sanskrit, 
and study the best literature of ancient India, and her 
six chief philosophies, but especially music, singing 
and dancing. Besides these "godborn" priestesses of 
the pagodas, th^re are also public nautches, who, like 
the Egyptian almeas, are within the reach of ordinary 
mortals, not only of gods ; .they also are in most cases 
women of a certain culture. 

But the fate of an honest woman of Hindostan is quite 
different; and a bitter and incredibly unjust fate it is. 
The life of a thoroughly good woman, especially if she 
happens to possess warm faith and unshaken piety, is 
simply a long chain of fatal misfortunes. And the 
higher her family and social position, the more wretched 
is her life. Married women are so afraid of resembling 
the professional dancing girls, that they cannot be per- 
suaded to learn anything the latter are taught. If a 
Brahman woman is rich her life is spent in demoralizing 
idleness; if she is poor, so much the worse, her earthly 
existence is concentrated in monotonous performances 


of mechanical rites. There is no past, and no future 
for her; only a tedious present, from which there is 
no possible escape. And this only if ever>'thing be well, 
if her family be not visited by sad losses. Needless 
to say that, amongst Brahman women, marriage is not 
a question of free choice, and still less of affection. 
Her choice of a husband is restricted by the caste to 
which her father and mother happen to belong; and 
so, to find a suitable match for a girl is a matter of great 
difficulty, as well as of great expense. In India, the 
high-caste woman is not bought, but she has to buy the 
right to get married. Accordingly, the birth of a girl is 
not a joy, but a sorrow, especially if her parents are not 
rich. She must be married not later than when she is 
seven or eight; a little girl of ten is an old maid in 
India, she is a discredit to her parents and is the miser- 
able butt of all her more fortunate contemporaries. 

One of the few noble achievements of Englishmen in 
India which have succeeded is the decrease of infanti- 
cide, which some time ago was a daily practice, and still 
is not quite got rid of TyitJ:le girls were killed by their 
parents everywhere in India ; but this dreadful custom 
was especially common amongst the tribes of Jadej, once 
so powerful in Sindh, and now reduced to petty brigand- 
age. Probably tnese tribes were the first to spread this 
heartless practice. Obligatory marriage for little girls 
is a comparatively recent invention, and it alone is 
responsible for the parents' decision rather to see them 
dead than unmarried. The ancient Aryans knew nothing 
of it. Even the ancient Brahmanical literature shows 
that, amongst the pure Aryans, woman enjoyed the 
same privileges as man. Her voice was listened to by 
the statesmen ; she was free either to choose a husband, 
or to remain single. Many a woman's name plays an 


important part in the chronicles of the ancient Aryan 
land; many women have come down to posterity as 
eminent poets, astronomers, philosophers, and even 
sages and lawyers. 

But with the invasion of the Persians, in the seventh 
century, and later on of the fanatical, all-destroying 
Mussulmans, all this changed. Woman became en- 
slaved, and the Brahmans did everything to humiliate 
her. In towns, the position of the Hindu woman is still 
worse than amongst agricultural classes. 

The wedding ceremonies are very complicated and 
numerous. They are divided into three groups: the 
rites before the wedding; the rites during the ceremony; 
and the rites after the celebration has taken place. The 
first group consists of eleven ceremonies: the asking in 
marriage; the comparison of the two horoscopes; the 
sacrifice of a goat; the fixing of a propitious day; the 
building of the dltar ; the purchase of the sacred pots for 
household use ; the invitation of guests ; the sacrifices to 
the household gods; mutual presents and so on. All 
this must be accomplished as a religious duty, and is 
full of entangled rites. As soon as a little girl in some 
Hindu family is four years old, her father and mother 
send for the familj^ Guru, give him her horoscope, drawn 
up previously by the astrologer of their caste (a very 
important post), and send the Guru to this or that 
inhabitant of the place who is known to have a son of 
appropriate age. The father of the little boy has to put 
the horoscope on the altar before the family gods and to 
answer: "I am well disposed towards the Panigrhana; 
let Rudra help us." The Guru must ask when the 
union is to take place, after which he is bowed out. A 
few days later the father of the little boy takes the 


horoscope of his son as well as of the little girl to the 
chief astrologer. If the latter finds them propitious to 
the intended marriage, it will take place; if not, his 
decision is immediately sent to the father of the little 
girl, and the whole affair is dropped. If the astrologer's 
opinion is favourable, however, the bargain is concluded 
on the spot. The astrologer offers a cocoa-nut and 
a handful of sugar to the father, after which nothing 
can be altered; otherwise a Hindu vendetta will be 
handed down from generation to generation. After 
the obligatory goat-sacrifice, the couple are irrevocably 
betrothed, and the astrologer fixes the day of the 

The sacrifice of the goat is very interesting, so I am 
going to describe it in detail. 

A child of the male sex is sent to invite several 
married ladies, old women of twenty or twenty-five, to 
witness the worship of the Lares and Penates. Each 
family has a household goddess of its own — ^which is not 
impossible, since the Hindu gods number thirty-three 
crores. On the eve of the sacrificial day, a kid is 
brought into the house, and all the family sleep round 
him. Next morning, the reception hall in the lower 
story is made ready for the ceremony. The floor is 
thickly covered with cow-dung, and, right in the middle 
of the room a square is traced with white chalk, in 
which is placed a high pedestal, with the statue of the 
goddess. The patriarch of the family brings the goat, 
and, holding him by the horns, lowers his head to salute 
the goddess. After this, the **old" and young women 
sing marriage hymns, tie the legs of the goat, cover his 
head with red powder, and make a lamp smoke under 
his nose, to banish the evil spirits from round him. 
When all this is done, the female element puts itself out 


of the way, and the patriarch comes again upon the 
stage. He treacherously puts a ration of rice before the 
goat, and as soon as the victim becomes innocently 
absorbed in gratifying his appetite, the old man chops 
his head off with a single stroke of his sword, and bathes 
the goddess in the smoking blood coming from the head 
of the animal, which he holds in his right arm, over the 
idol. The women sing in chorus, and the ceremony of 
betrothal is over. 

The ceremonies with the astrologers, and the exchange 
of presents, are too long to be described. I shall men- 
tion only, that in all these ceremonies the astrologer 
plays the double part of an augur and a family lawyer. 
After a general invocation to the elephant-headed god 
Ganesha, the marriage contract is written on the reverse 
of the horoscopes and sealed, and a general blessing is 
pronounced over the assembly. 

Needless to say that all these ceremonies had been 
accomplished lon-g ago in the family to whose marriage 
party we were invited in Bagh. All these rites are 
sacred, and most probably we, being mere strangers, 
would not have been allowed to witness them. We saw 
them all later on in Benares — thanks to the intercession 
of our Babu. 

When we arrived on the spot, where the Bagh cere- 
mony was celebrated, the festivity was at its height. 

The bridegroom was not more than fourteen years old, 
while the bride was only ten. Her small nose was 
adorned with a huge golden ring with some very bril- 
liant stone, which dragged her nostril down. Her face 
looked comically piteous, and sometimes she cast fur- 
tive glances at us. The bridegroom, a stout, healthy- 
looking boy, attired in cloth of gold and wearing the 


many storied Indra hat, was on horseback, surrounded 
by a whole crowd of male relations. 

The altar, especially erected for this occasion, pre- 
sented a queer sight. Its regulation height is three 
times the length of the bride's arm from the shoulder 
down to the middle finger. Its materials are bricks and 
whitewashed clay. Forty-six earthen pots painted with 
red, yellow and green stripes — the colours of the Tri- 
murti — rose in two pyramids on both sides of the "god 
of marriages" on the altar; and all round it a crowd of 
little married girls were busy grinding ginger. When 
it was reduced to powder the whole crowd rushed on 
the bridegroom, dragged him from his horse, and, 
having undressed him, began rubbing him with wet 
ginger. As soon as the sun dried him he was dressed 
again by some of the little ladies, whilst one part of 
them sang and the other sprinkled his head with water 
from lotus leaves twisted into tubes. We understood 
that this was a delicate attention to the Water gods. 

We were also told that the whole of the previous 
night had been given up \o the worship of various 
spirits. The last rites, begun weeks ago, were hurriedly 
brought to an end during this last night. Invocations 
to Ganesha, to the god of marriages; to the gods of the 
elements, water, fcfre, air and earth; to the goddess of 
the small-pox and other illnesses; to the spirits of 
ancestors and planetary spirits, to the evil spirits, good 
spirits, family spirits, and so on, and so on. Suddenly 
our ears were struck by strains of music. . , . Good 
heavens! what a dreadful symphony it was! The ear- 
splitting sounds of Indian tom-toms, Tibetan drums, 
Singalese pipes, Chinese trumpets, and Burmese gongs 
deafened us on all sides, awakening in our souls hatred 
for humanity and humanity's inventions. 


"De tous les bruits du monde celui de la musique est 
le plus desagreable ! " was my ever- recurring thought. 

Happily, this agony did not last long, and was re- 
placed by the choral singing of Erahmans and nautches, 
which was very original, but perfectly bearable. The 
wedding was a rich one, and so the "vestals" appeared 
in state. A moment of silence, of restrained whisper- 
ing, and one of them, a tall, handsome girl with eyes 
literally filling half her forehead, began approaching 
one guest after the other in perfect silence, and rubbing 
their faces with her hand, leaving traces of sandal and 
sajfifron powders. She glided towards us also, noiselessly 
moving over the dusty road with her bare feet; and 
before we realized what she was doing she had daubed 

me a^ well as the colonel and Miss X , which made 

the latter sneeze and wipe her face for at least ten 
minutes, with loud but vain utterances of indignation. 

The Babu and Mulji offered their faces to the little 
hand, full of bafifron, with smiles of condescending 
generosity. But the indomitable Narayan shrank from 
the vestal so unexpectedly at the precise moment when, 
with fiery glances at him, she stood on tiptoe to reach 
his face, that she quite lost countenance and sent a full 
dose of powder over his shoulder, whilst he turned away 
from her with knitted brow. Her forehead also showed 
several threatening lines, but in a moment she over- 
came her anger and glided towards Ram-Runjit-Das, 
sparkling with engaging smiles. But here she met with 
still less luck; offended at once in his monotheism and 
his chastity, the "God's warrior" pushed the vestal so 
unceremoniousl}^ that she nearly upset the elaborate 
pot-decoration of the altar. A dissatisfied murmur ran 
through the crowd, and we were preparing to be con- 
demned to shameful banishment for the sins of the 


warlike Sikh, when the drums sounded again and the 
procession moved on. In front of everyone drove the 
trumpeters and the drummers in a car gilded from top 
to bottom, and dragged by bullocks loaded with gar- 
lands of flowers; next after them walked a whole de- 
tachment of pipers, and then a third body of musicians 
on horseback, who frantically hammered huge gongs. 
After them proceeded the cortege of the bridegroom's 
and the bride's relations on horses adorned with rich 
harness, feathers and flowers ; they went in pairs. They 
were followed by a regiment of Bhils in full . . . 
disarmour — because no weapons but bows and arrows 
had been left to them by the English Government. All 
these Bhils looked as if they had tooth-ache, because of 
the odd way they have of arranging the ends of their 
white pagris. After them walked clerical Brahmans, 
with aromatic tapers in their hands and surrounded by 
the flitting battalion of nautches, who amused them- 
selves all the way by graceful glissades ''and pas. They 
were followed by the lay Brahmans — the "twice born." 
The bridegroom rode on- a handsome horse; on both 
sides walked two couples of warriors, armed with yaks* 
tails to wave the flies away. They were accompanied 
by two more men on each side with silver fans. The 
bridegroom's groujf) was wound up by a naked Brahman, 
perched on a donkey and holding over the head of the 
boy a huge red silk umbrella. After him a car loaded 
with a thousand cocoa-nuts and a hundred bamboo- 
baskets, tied together by a red rope. The god who 
looks after marriages drove in melancholy isolation on 
the vast back of an elephant, whose mahout led him 
by a chain of flowers. Our humble party modestly 
advanced just behind the elephant's tail. 
The performance of rites on the way seemed endless. 



We had to stop before every tree, every pagoda, every 
sacred tank and bush, and at last before a sacred cow. 
When we came back to the house of the bride it was four 
in the afternoon, and we had started a little after six in 
the morning. We all were utterly exhausted, and Miss 

X literally threatened to fall asleep on her feet. 

The indignant Sikh had left us long ago, and had per- 
suaded Mr. Y and Mulji — whom the colonel had 

nicknamed the "mute general" — to keep him company. 
Our respected president was bathed in his own perspira- 
tion, and even Narayan the unchangeable yawned and 
sought consolation in a fan. But the Babu was simply 
astonishing. After a nine hours' walk under the sun, 
with his head unprotected, he looked fresher than ever, 
without a drop of sweat on his dark satin-like forehead. 
He showed his white teeth in an eternal smile, and 
chaffed us all, reciting the "Diamond Wedding" of 

We struggled- against our fatigue in our desire to wit- 
ness the last ceremony, after which the woman is for 
ever cut off from the external' world. It was just going 
to begin ; and we kept our eyes and ears wide open. 

The bridegroom and the bride were placed before the 
altar. The officiating Brahman tied their hands with 
some kus-kus grass, and led them three times round 
the altar. Then their hands were untied, and the Brah- 
man mumbled a mantram. When he had finished, the 
boy husband lifted his diminutive bride and carried her 
three times round the altar in his arms, then again 
three turns round the altar, but the boy preceding the 
girl, and she following him like an obedient slave. 
When this was over, the bridegroom was placed on a 
high chair by the entrance door, and the bride brought 
a basin of water, took off his shoes, and, having washed 


his feet, wiped them with her long hair. We learned 
that this was a very ancient custom. On the right side 
j of the bridegroom sat his mother. The bride knelt 
l before her also, and, having performed the same opera- 
j tion over her feet, she retired to the house. Then her 
mother came out of the crowd and repeated the same 
ceremony, but without using her hair as a towel. The 
young couple were married. The drums and the tom- 
toms rolled once more; and half-deaf we started for 

In the tent we found the Akali in the middle of a 
sermon, delivered for the edification of the "mute 

general" and Mr. Y . He was explaining to them 

the advantages of the Sikh religion, and comparing it 
with the faith of the "devil-worshippers," as he called 
the Brahmans. 

It was too late to go to the caves, and, besides, we 

had had enough sights for one day. So we sat down to 

rest, and to listen to the words of wisdom falling from 

the lips of the "God's warrior."* In my humble opinion, 

he was right in more than one thing; in his most 

imaginative moments Satan himself could not have 

invented anything more unjust and more refinedly cruel 

than what was invented by these "twice-born" egotists 

J in their relation to the weaker sex. An unconditioned 

civil death awaits her in case of widowhood — even if this 

sad fate befalls her when she is two or three 5^ears old. 

It is of no importance for the Brahmans if the marriage 

I never actually took place; the goat sacrifice, at which 

I the personal presence of the little girl is not even re- 

j quired — she being represented by the wretched victim — 

is considered binding for her. As for the man, not only 

j is he permitted to have several lawful wives at a time, 


but he is even required by the law to marry again if his 
wife dies. Not to be unjust, I must mention that, with 
the exception of some vicious and depraved Rajas, we 
never heard of a Hindu availing himself of this privilege, 
and having more than one wife. 

At the present time, the whole of orthodox India is 
shaken by the struggle in favour of the re-marriage of 
widows. This agitation was begun in Bombay, by a few 
reformers, and opponents of Brahmans. It is already 
ten years since Mulji-Taker-Sing and others raised this 
question ; but we know only of three or four men who 
have dared as yet to marr>' widows. This struggle is 
carried on in silence and secrecy, but nevertheless it is 
fierce and obstinate. 

In the meanwhile, the fate of the widow is what the 
Brahmans wish it to be. As soon as the corpse of her 
husband is burned the widow must shave her head, and 
never let it ^row again as long as she lives. Her 
bangles, necklaces and rings are broken to pieces and 
burned, together with her hair and her husband's re- 
mains. During the rest of her life she must wear 
nothing but white if she was less than twenty-five at her 
husband's death, and red if she was older. Temples, 
religious ceremonies, societj^ are closed to her for ever. 
She has no right to speak to any of her relations, and no 
right to eat with them. She sleeps, eats and works 
separately; her touch is considered impure for seven 
years. If a man, going out on business, meets a widow, 
he goes home again, abandoning every pursuit, because 
to see a widow is accounted an evil omen. 

In the past all this was seldom practised, and con- 
cerned only the rich widows, who refused to be burned ; 
but now, since the Brahmans have been caught in the 
false interpretation of the Vcdas, with the criminal in- 


tention of appropriating the widows' wealth, they insist 
on the fulfilment of this cruel precept, and make what 
once was the exception the rule. They are powerless 
against British law, and so they revenge themselves on 
the innocent and helpless women, whom fate has deprived 
of their natural protectors. Professor Wilson's demon- 
stration of the means by which the Brahmans distorted 
the sense of the VedaSy in order to justify the practice of 
widow-burning, is well worth mentioning. During the 
many centuries that this terrible practice prevailed, the 
Brahmans had appealed to a certain Vedic text for their 
justification, and had claimed to be rigidly fulfilling the 
institutes of Manu, which contain for them the interpre- 
tation of Vedic law. When the East India Company's 
Government first turned its attention to the suppression 
of sutteey the whole country, from Cape Comorin to the 
Himalayas, rose in protest, under the influence of the 
Brahmans. "The English promised not to interfere in 
our religious affairs, and they must keep their word!" 
was the general outcry. Never was India so near revo- 
lution as in those days. 'The English saw the danger 
and gave up the task. But Professor Wilson, the best 
Sanskritist of the time, did not consider the battle lost. 
He applied himself to the study of the most ancient 
MSS., and gradually became convinced that the alleged 
precept did not exist in the Vedas; though in the Laws 
of Manu it was quite distinct, and had been translated 
accordingly by T. Colebrooke and other Orientalists. 
An attempt to prove to the fanatic population that 
Manu's interpretation was wrong would have been 
equivalent to an attempt to reduce water to powder. 
So Wilson set himself to study Manu, and to compare 
the text of the Vedas with the text of this law-giver. 
This was the result of his labours: the Rig- Veda orders 


the Brahman to place the widow side by side with the 
corpse, and then, after the performance of certain rites, 
to lead her down from the funeral pyre and to sing the 
following verse from Grhya Sutra: 

Arise, O woman! return to the world of the living! 

Having gone to sleep by the dead, awake again ! 

Long enough thou hast been a faithful wife 

To the one who made thee mother of his children. 

Then those present at the burning were to rub their 
eyes with collyrium, and the Brahman to address to 
them the following verse : 

Approach, you married women, not widows, 

With your husbands bring ghi and butter. 

Let the mothers go up to the womb first. 

Dressed in festive garments and costly adornments. 

The line before the last was misinterpreted by the 
Brahmans in the most skilful way. In Sanskrit it reads 
as follows: 

Aroiiantu janayo yonim agre . . . 

Yonim agre literally means to the womb first. Having 
changed onl}^ one letter of the last word agre, "first," 
in Sanskrit ^^ITTf, the Brahmans wrote instead agneh, 
"fire's," in Sanskrit 3|tJ , and so acquired the right to 
send the wretched widows yoimn agiieh — to the womb 
of fire. It is difiicult to find on the face of the world 
another such fiendish deception. 

The Vedas never permitted the burning of the widows, 
and there is a place in Taittiriya-Aranyaka, of the Yajur 
Vedtty where the brother of the deceased, or his disciple, 
or even a trusted friend, is recommended to say to the 
widow, whilst the pyre is set on fire: "Arise, O woman! 
do not lie down any more beside the lifeless corpse; 
return to the world of the living, and become the wife 
of the one who holds you by the hand, and is willing to 


be your husband." This verse shows that during the 
Vedic period the re-marriage of widows was allowed. 
Besides, in several places in the ancient books, pointed 
out to us by Swami Dayanand, we found orders to the 
widows "to keep the ashes of the husband for several 
months after his death and to perform over them certain 
final rituals." 

However, in spite of the scandal created by Professor 
Wilson's discovery, and of the fact that the Brahmans 
were put to shame before the double authority of the 
Vedas and of Manu, the custom of centuries proved so 
strong that some pious Hindu women still burn them- 
selves whenever they can. Not more than two years 
ago the four widows of Yung-Bahadur, the chief minister 
of Nepal, insisted upon being burned. Nepal is not 
under the British rule, and so the Anglo-Indian Govern- 
ment had no right to interfere. 



At four o'clock in the morning we crossed the Vagrey 
and Girna, or rather, comme colons local, Shiva and 
Parvati. Probably, following the bad example of the 
average mortal husband and wife, this divine couple 
were engaged in a quarrel, even at this early hour of the 
day. They were frightfully rough, and our ferry, strik- 
ing on something at the bottom, nearly upset us into the 
cold embrace of the god and his irate better half. 

Like all the cave temples of India, the Bagh caverns 
are -dug out in the middle of a vertical rock — with the 
intention, as it seems to me, of testing the limits of 
human patience. Taking into consideration that such a 
height does not prevent either glamour or tigers reach- 
ing the caves, I cannot help thinking that the sole aim 
of the ascetic builders was to tempt weak mortals into 
the sin of irritation by thei inaccessibility of their airy 
abodes. Seventy-two steps, cut out in the rock, and 
covered with thorny weeds and moss, are the beginning 
of the ascent to the Bagh caves. Foot-marks worn in 
the stone through centuries spoke of the numberless 
pilgrims who had come here before us. The roughness 
of the steps, with deep holes here and there, and thorns, 
added attractions to this ascent; join to this a number 
of mountain springs exuding through the pores of the 
stone, and no one will be astonished if I say that we 
simply felt faint under the weight of life and our archae- 
ological difficulties. The Babu, who, taking oflf his 
slippers, scampered over the thorns as unconcernedly 
as if he had hoofs instead of vulnerable human heels, 


laughed at the *' helplessness of Europeans," and only 
made us feel worse. 

But on reaching the top of the mountain we stopped 
grumbling, realizing at the first glance that we should 
receive our reward. We saw a whole enfilade of dark 
caves, through regular square openings, six feet wide. 
We felt awestruck with the gloomy majesty of this 
deserted temple. There was a curious ceiling over the 
square platform that once served as a verandah; there 
was also a portico with broken pillars hanging over our 
heads; and two rooms on each side, one with a broken 
image of some flat-nosed goddess, the other containing 
a Ganesha; but we did not stop to examine all this in 
detail. Ordering the torches to be lit, we stepped into 
the first hall. 

A damp breath as of the tomb met us. At our first 
word we all shivered: a hollow, prolonged echoing 
howl, dying away in the distance, "v^hook the ancient 
vaults and made us all lower our voices to a whisper. 
The torch-bearers shrieked "Devi! . . Devi! . ." 
and, kneeling in the dnsi, performed a fervent p7i/d 
in honour of the voice of the invisible goddess of the 
caves, in spite of the angry protestations of Narayan 
and of the **God'§ warrior." 

The only light of the temple came from the entrance, 
and so two-thirds of it looked still gloomier by contrast. 
This hall, or the central temple, is very spacious, eighty- 
four feet square, and sixteen feet high. Twenty-four 
massive pillars form a square, six pillars at each side, 
including the corner ones, and four in the middle to prop 
up the centre of the ceiling ; otherwise it could not be 
kept from falling, as the mass of the mountain which 
presses on it from the top is much greater than in Karli 
or Elephanta. 


There are at least three different styles in the architec- 
ture of these pillars. Some of them are grooved in spirals, 
gradually and imperceptibly changing from round to 
sixteen sided, then octagonal and square. Others, plain 
for the first third of their height, gradually finished under 
the ceiling by a most elaborate display of ornamentation, 
which reminds one of the Corinthian style. The third 
with a square plinth and semi-circular friezes. Taking 
it all in all, they made a most original and graceful 

picture. Mr. Y , an architect by profession, assured 

us that he never saw anything more striking. He said 
he could not imagine by the aid of what instruments 
the ancient builders could accomplish such wonders. 

The construction of the Bagh caves, as well as of all 
the cave temples of India, whose history is lost in the 
darkness of time, is ascribed by the European archae- 
ologists to the Buddhists, and by the native tradition to 
the Pandu brothers. Indian paleography protests in 
every one of its new discoveries against the hasty con- 
clusions of the Orientalists. And much may be said 
against the intervention of Buddhists in this particular 
case. But I shall indicate only one particular. The 
theory which declares that all the cave temples of India 
are of Buddhist origin is wrong. The Orientalists may 
insist as much as they choose on the hypothesis that the 
Buddhists became again idol-worshippers; it will ex- 
plain nothing, and contradicts the history of both 
Buddhists and Brahmans. The Brahmans began per- 
secuting and banishing the Buddhists precisely because 
they had begun a crusade against idol-worship. The 
few Buddhist communities who remained in India and 
deserted the pure, though, maybe — for a shallow ob- 
server — somewhat atheistic teachings of Gautama Sidd- 
hartha, never joined Brahmanism, but coalesced with 


the Jainas, and gradually became absorbed in them. 
Then why not suppose that if, amongst hundreds of 
Brahmanical gods, we find one statue of Buddha, it only 
shows that the masses of half-converts to Buddhism 
added this new god to the ancient Brahmanical temple. 
This would be much more sensible than to think that 
the Buddhists of the two centuries before and after the 
beginning of the Christian era dared to fill their temples 
with idols, in defiance of the spirit of the reformer Gau- 
tama. The figures of Buddha are easily discerned in 
the swarm of heathen gods ; their position is always the 
same, and the palm of its right hand is always turned 
upwards, blessing the worshippers with two fingers. 
We examined almost every remarkable vihara of the 
so-called Buddhist temples, and never met with one 
statue of Buddha which could not have been added in a 
later epoch than the construction of the temple ; it does 
not matter w^hether it was a year •«>r a thousand years 
later. Not being perfectly self-confident in this matter, 

w^e always took the opinion of Mr. Y , who, as I said 

before, was an experienced architect; and he invariably 
came to the conclusion that the Brahmanical idols 
formed a harmonic and genuine part of the whole, 
pillars, decorations, and the general style of the temple ; 
whereas the statue of Buddha was an additional and dis- 
cordant patch. Out of thirty or forty caves of Ellora, all 
filled with idols, there is only one, the one called the 
Temple of the Tri-Lokas, which contains nothing but 
statues of Buddha, and of Ananda, his favourite disciple. 
Of course, in this case it would be perfectly right to 
think it is a Buddhist vihara. 

Most probably, some of the Russian archaeologists will 
protest against the opinions I maintain, that is to say, 
the opinions of the Hindu archaeologists, and will treat 


me as an ignoramus, outraging science. In self-defence, 
and in order to show how unstable a ground to base 
one's opinions upon are the conclusions even of such 
a great authority as Mr. Fergusson, I must mention the 
following instance. This great architect, but very 
mediocre archaeologist, proclaimed at the very beginning 
of his scientific career that **all the cave temples of 
Kanara, without exception, were built between the fifth 
and the tenth centuries." This theory became generally 
accepted, when suddenly Dr. Bird found a brass plate 
in a certain Kanara monument, called a tope. The plate 
announced in pure and distinct Sanskrit that this tope 
was erected as a homage to the old temple, at the be- 
ginning of 245 of the Hindu astronomical (Samvat) 
era. According to Prinsep and Dr. Stevenson, this date 
coincides with 189 a.d., and so it clearly settles the 
question of when the tope was built. But the question 
of the antiquity of jthe temple itself still remains open, 
though the inscription states that it was an old temple 
in 189 A.D., and contradicts the above-quoted opinion of 
Fergusson. However, this important discovery failed to 
shake Fergusson's equanimity. For him, ancient in- 
scriptions are of no importance, because, as he says, 
"the antiquity of ruins must not be fixed on the basis ot 
inscriptions, but on the basis of certain architectural 
canons and rules," discovered by Mr. Fergusson in 
person. Fiat hypothesis , ruat caelum ! 

And now I shall return to my narrative. 

Straight before the entrance a door leads to another 
hall, which is oblong, with hexagonal pillars and niches, 
containing statues in a tolerable state of preservation; 
goddesses ten feet and gods nine feet high. After this 
hall there is a room with an altar, which is a regular 
hexagon, having sides each three feet long, and pro- 


tected by a cupola cut in the rock. Nobody was ad- 
mitted here, except the initiates of the mysteries of the 
adytum. All round this room there are about twenty 
priests* cells. Absorbed in the examination of the altar, 
we did not notice the absence of the colonel, till we 
heard his loud voice in the distance calling to us : 

** I have found a secret passage. . . . Come along, 
let us find where it leads to!" 

Torch in hand, the colonel was far ahead of us, and 
very eager to proceed ; but each of us had a little plan of 
his own, and so we were reluctant to obey his summons. 
The Babu took upon himself to answer for the whole 

**Take care, colonel. This passage leads to the den 
of the glamour. . . . Mind the tigers ! " 

But once fairly started on the way to discoveries, our 
president was not to be stopped. Noleiis volcns we 
followed him. ^ 

He was right ; he had made a discovery ; and on enter- 
ing the cell we saw a most unexpected tableau. By the 
opposite wall stood two torch-bearers with their flaming 
torches, as motionless as if they were transformed into 
stone caryatides; and from the wall, about five feet 
above the ground, protruded two legs clad in white 
trousers. Theft was no body to them; the body had 
disappeared, and but that the legs were shaken by a 
convulsive effort to move on, we might have thought 
that the wicked goddess of this place had cut the colonel 
into two halves, and having caused the upper half 
instantly to evaporate, had stuck the lower half to the 
wall, as a kind of troph}^ 

**What is become of you, Mr. President? Where are 
you?" were our alarmed questions. 

Instead of an answer, the legs were convulsed still 


more violently, and soon disappeared completely, after 
whicli we heard the voice of the colonel, as if coming 
through a long tube : 

**A room ... a secret cell. ... Be quick! 
I see a vv^hole row of rooms. . . . Confound it! my 
torch is out! Bring some matches and another torch!" 

But this was easier said than done. The torch-bearers 
refused to go on ; as it was, they were already frightened 
out of their wits. Miss X glanced with apprehen- 
sion at the wall thickly covered with soot and then at 

her pretty gown. Mr. Y sat down on a broken 

pillar and said he would go no farther, preferring to 
have a quiet smoke in the company of the timid torch- 

There were several vertical steps cut in the wall ; and 
on the floor we saw a large stone of such a curiously 
irregular shape that it struck me that it could not be 
natural. The quick-eyed Babu was not long in dis- 
covering its peculiarities, and said he was sure **it was 
the stopper of the secret passage." We all hurried to 
examine the stone most minutel}^ and discovered that, 
though it imitated as closely as possible the irregularity 
of the rock, its under surface bore evident traces of work- 
manship and had a kind of hinge to be easily moved. 
The hole was about three feet high, but 'not more than 
two feet wide. 

The muscular ''God's warrior" was the first to follow 
the colonel. He was so tall that when he stood on a 
broken pillar the opening came down to the middle of 
his breast, and so he had no difficulty in transporting 
himself to the upper story. The slender Babu joined 
him with a single monkey-like jump. Then, with the 
Akali pulliiig from above and Narayan pushing from 
below, I safely made the passage, though the narrow- 


ness of the hole proved most disagreeable, and the 
roughness of the rock left considerable traces on my 
hands. However trying archaeological explorations may 
be for a person afflicted by an unusually fine presence, I 
felt perfectly confident that with two such Hercules-like 
helpers as Narayan and Ram-Runjit-Das the ascent of 
the Himalayas would be perfectly possible for me. Miss 

X came next, under the escort of Mulji, but Mr. 

Y stayed behind. 

The secret cell was a room of twelve feet square. 
Straight above the black hole in the floor there was 
another in the ceiling, but this time we did not discover 
any "stopper." The cell was perfectly empty with the 
exception of black spiders as big as crabs. Our appari- 
tion, and especially the bright light of the torches, mad- 
dened them ; panic-stricken they ran in hundreds over 
the walls, rushed down, and tumbled on our heads, 
tearing their thin ropes in their inconsiderate haste. 

The first movement of Miss X was to kill as many 

as she could. But the four Hindus protested strongly 
and unanimously. The, old lady remonstrated in an 
offended voice : 

"I thought that at least you, Mulji, were a reformer, 
but you are as superstitious as any idol-worshipper." 

"Above everyt-hing I am a Hindu," answered the 
"mute general." "And the Hindus, as you know, con- 
sider it sinful before nature and before their own con- 
sciences to kill an animal put to flight by the strength 
of man, be it even poisonous. As to the spiders, in 
spite of their ugliness, they are perfectly harmless." 

"I am sure all this is because you think you will 
transmigrate into a black spider!" she replied, her 
nostrils trembling with anger. 

"I cannot say I do," retorted Mulji; "but if all the 


English ladies are as unkind as you I should rather be a 
spider than an Englishman." 

This lively answer coming from the usually taciturn 
Mulji was so unexpected that we could not help laugh- 
ing. But to our great discomfiture Miss X was 

seriously angr}^ and, under pretext of giddiness, said 
she would rejoin Mr. Y below. 

Her constant bad spirits were becoming trying for our 
cosmopolitan little party, and so we did not press her to 

As to us we climbed through the second opening, but 
this time under the leadership of Narayan, He dis- 
closed to us that this place was not new to him ; he had 
been here before, and confided to us that similar rooms, 
one on the top of the other, go up to the summit of the 
mountain. Then, he said, they take a sudden turn, and 
descend gradually to a whole underground palace, which 
is sometimes temporarily inhabited. Wishing to leave 
the world for a. while and to spend a few days in 
isolation, the Raj -Yogis find perfect solitude in this 
underground abode. Our president looked askance at 
Narayan through his spectacles, but did not find any- 
thing to say. The Hindus also received this information 
in perfect silence. 

The second cell was exactly like 4;he first one; we 
easily discovered the hole in its ceiling, and reached 
the third cell. There we sat down for a while. I felt 
that breathing was becoming difiicult to me, but I 
thought I was simply out of breath and tired, and so did 
not mention to my companions that anything was wrong. 
The passage to the fourth cell was almost stopped by 
earth mixed with little stones, and the gentlemen of the 
party were busy clearing it out for about twenty minutes. 
Then we reached the fourth cell. 


Narayan was right, the cells were one straight over the 
other, and the floor of the one formed the ceiling of the 
other. The fourth cell was in ruins. Two broken pillars 
lying one on the other presented a very convenient 
stepping-stone to the fifth story. But the colonel 
stopped our zeal by saying that now was the time to 
smoke "the pipe of deliberation" after the fashion of 
red Indians. 

*• If Narayan is not mistaken," he said, "this going up 
and up may continue till to-morrow morning." 

"I am not mistaken," said Narayan almost solemnly. 
"But since my visit here I have heard that some of 
these passages were filled with earth, so that every com- 
munication is stopped; and, if I remember rightly, we 
cannot go further than the next story." 

"In that case there is no use trying to go any further. 
If the ruins are so shaky as to stop the passages, it would 
be dangerous for us." ^ 

"I never said the passages were stopped by the hand 
of time. . . They did it on purpose. . ." 

"WhoM^.? Do you mean glamour? . . ." 

"Colonel!" said the Hindu with an effort. "Don't 
laugh at what I say. ... I speak seriously." 

"My dear fellow, I assure you my intention is neither 
to offend you nor io ridicule a serious matter. I simply 
do not realize whom you mean when you say they^ 

"I mean the brotherhood. . . . The Raj-Yogis. 
Some of them live quite close to here." 

By the dim light of the half-extinguished torches we 
saw that Narayan's lips trembled and that his face grew 
pale as he spoke. The colonel coughed, rearranged his 
spectacles and remained silent for a while. 

"My dear Narayan," at last said the colonel, "I do not 
want to believe that your intention is to make fun of our 



credulity. But I can't believe either, that you seriously 
mean to assure us that any living creature, be it an 
animal or an ascetic, could exist in a place where there 
is no air. I paid special attention to the fact, and so I 
am perfectly siire I am not mistaken: there is not a 
• single bat in these cells, which shows that there is a lack 
of air. And just look at our torches! you see how dim 
they are growing. I am sure, that on climbing two or 
three more rooms like this, we should be suffocated!" 

**And in spite of all these facts, I speak the truth," 
repeated Narayan. "The caves further on are inhabited 
by them. And I have seen them with my own eyes." 

The colonel grew thoughtful, and stood glancing at the 
ceiling in a perplexed and undecided way. We all kept 
silent, breathing heavily. 

**L,et us go back!" suddenly shouted the Akali. "My 
nose is bleeding." 

At this very moment I felt a strange and unexpected 
sensation, and I sank heavily on the ground. In a 
second I felt an indescribably delicious, heavenly sense 
of rest, in spite of a dull pain'beating in my temples. I 
vaguely realized that I had really fainted, and that I 
should die if not taken out into the open air. I could 
not lift my finger; I could not utter a sound; and, in 
spite of it, there was no fear in my soul — nothing but an 
apathetic, but indescribably sweet feeling of rest, and a 
complete inactivity of all the senses except hearing. A 
moment came when even this sense forsook me, because 
I remember that I listened with imbecile intentness to 
the dead silence around me. Is this death? was my 
indistinct wondering thought. Then I felt as if mighty 
wings were fanning me. "Kind wings, caressing, kind 
wings!" were the recurring words in my brain, like the 
regular movements of a pendulum, and interiorily under 


an unreasoning impulse, I laughed at these words. Then 
I experienced a new sensation : I rather k7iew than felt 
that I was lifted from the floor, and fell down and down 
some unknown precipice, amongst the hollow rollings 
of a distant thunder-storm. Suddenly a loud voice 
resounded near me. And this time I think I did not 
hear, but felt it. There was something palpable in this 
voice, something that instantly stopped my helpless 
descent, and kept me from falling any further. This 
was a voice I knew well, but whose voice it was I could 
not in my weakness remember 

In what way I was dragged through all these narrow 
holes will remain an eternal mystery for me. I came to 
myself on the verandah below, fanned by fresh breezes, 
and as suddenly as I had fainted above in the impure air 
of the cell. When I recovered completely the first thing 
I saw was a powerful figure clad in white, with a raven 
black Rajput beard, anxiously leaning" over me. As soon 
as I recognized the owner of this beard, I could not 
abstain from expressing my feelings by a joyful exclama- 
tion: "Where do you come, from?" It was our friend 
Takur Gulab-Lal-Sing, who, having promised to join us 
in the North- West Provinces, now appeared to us in' 
Bagh, as if falling from the sky or coming out of the 

But my unfortunate accident, and the pitiable state of 
the rest of the daring explorers, were enough to stop any 
further questions and expressions of astonishment. On 

one side of me the frightened Miss X , using my 

nose as a cork for her sal- volatile bottle; on the other 
the "God's warrior" covered with blood as if returning 
from a battle with the Afghans ; further on, poor Mulji 
with a dreadful headache. Narayan and the colonel, 
happily for our party, did not experience anything worse 


than a slight vertigo. As to the Babu, no carbonic acid 
gas could inconvenience his wonderful Bengali nature. 
He said he was safe and comfortable enough, but awfully 

At last the outpour of entangled exclamations and 
unintelligible explanations stopped, and I collected my 
thoughts and tried to understand what had happened to 
me in the cave. Narayan was the first to notice that 
I had fainted, and hastened to drag me back to the 
passage. And this very moment they all heard the 
voice of Gulab-Sing coming from the upper cell: '' Tuvi- 
hare iha aiieka kya kam thaV "What on earth brought 
you here?" Even before they recovered from their 
astonishment he ran quickly past them, and descending 
to the cell beneath called to them to "pass him down 
the bai" (sister). This "passing down" of such a solid 
object as my body, and the picture of the proceeding, 
vividly imagined, made me laugh heartily, and I felt 
sorry I had not been able to witness it. Handing him 
over their half-dead load, they hastened to join the 
Takur; but he contrived ,. to' do without their help, 
though how he did it they were at a loss to under- 
stand. By the time they succeeded in getting through 
one passage Gulab-Sing was already at the next one, in 
spite of the heavy burden he carried; and they never 
were in time to be of any assistance to him. The 
colonel, whose main feature is the tendency to go into 
the details of everything, could not conceive by what 
proceedings the Takur had managed to pass my almost 
lifeless body so rapidly through all these narrow holes. 

"He could not have thrown her down the passage 
before going in himself, for every single bone of her 
body would have been broken," mused the colonel. 
"And it is still less possible to suppose that, descending 


first himself, he dragged her down afterwards. It is 
simply incomprehensible ! " 

These questions harassed him for a long time after- 
wards, until they became something like the puzzle: 
Which was created first, the egg or the bird? 

As to the Takur, when closely questioned, he shrugged 
his shoulders, and answered that he really did not re- 
member. He said that he simply did whatever he could 
to get me out into the open air; that all our travelling 
companions were there to watch his proceedings; he 
was under their eyes all the time, and that in circum- 
stances when every second is precious people do not 
think, but act. 

But all these questions arose only in the course of the 
^ay. As to the time directly after I was laid down on 
the verandah, there were other things to puzzle all 
our party; no one could understand how the Takur 
happened to be on the spot exactly^vvhen his help was 
most needed, nor where he came from — and everyone 
was anxious to know. On the verandah they found me 
lying on a carpet, with th'e Takur busy restoring me to 

my senses, and Miss X with her eyes wide open at 

the Takur, whom she decidedly believed to be a mate- 
rialized ghost. 

However, the explanations our friend gave us seemed 
perfectly satisfactory, and at first did not strike us as un- 
natural. He was in Hardwar when Swami Dayanand 
sent us the letter which postponed our going to him. On 
arriving at Kandua by the Indore railway, he had visited 
Holkar; and, learning that we were so near, he decided 
to join us sooner than he had expected. He had come 
to Bagh yesterday evening, but knowing that we were to 
Start for the caves early in the morning he went there 
before us, and simply was waiting for us in the caves. 


"There is the whole mysterj'- for you," said he. 

**The whole mystery?" exclaimed the colonel. "Did 
you know, then, beforehand that we would discover the 
cells, or what?" 

"No, I did not. I simply went there myself because 
it is a long time since I saw them last. Examining 
them took me longer than I expected, and so I was too 
late to meet you at the entrance." 

"Probably the Takur-Sahib was enjoying the fresh- 
ness of the air in the cells," suggested the mischievous 
Babu, showing all his white teeth in a broad grin. 

Our president uttered an energetic exclamation. 

"Exactly! How on earth did I not think of that 
before? . . . You could not- possibly have any breath- 
ing air in the cells above the one you found us in. . . . 
And, besides, . . . how did you reach the fifth cell, 
when the entrance of the fourth was nearly stopped and 
we had to dig it out?" 

"There are other passages leading to them. I know 
all the turns and corridors of these caves, and every- 
one is free to choose his way," answered Gulab-Sing; 
and I thought I saw a look of intelligence pass be- 
tween him and Narayan, who simply cowered under his 
fiery eyes. "However, let us go to the cave where 
breakfast is ready for us. Fresh air will do all of you 

On our way we met with another cave, twenty or 
thirty steps south from the verandah, but the Takur did 
not let us go in, fearing new accidents for us. So we 
descended the stone steps I have already mentioned, 
and after descending about two hundred steps towards 
the foot of the mountain, made a short reascent again 
and entered the "dining-room," as the Babu denominated 
it. In my 7'ble of "interesting invalid," I was carried to 


it, sitting in my folding chair, which never left me in 
all my travels. 

This temple is much the less gloomy of the two, in 
spite of considerable signs of decay. The frescoes of the 
ceiling are better preserved than in the first temple. 
The walls, the tumbled down pillars, the ceiling, and 
even the interior rooms, which were lighted by ventila- 
tors cut through the rock, were once covered by a var- 
nished stucco, the secret of which is now known only to 
the Madrasis, and which gives the rock the appearance 
of pure marble. 

We were met by the Takur's four servants, whom we 
remembered since our stay in Karli, and who bowed 
down in the dust to greet us. The carpets were spread, 
and the breakfast ready. Every trace of carbonic acid 
had left our brains, and we sat down to our meal in the 
best of spirits. Our conversation soon turned to the 
Hardwar Mela, which our unexpectedly-recovered friend 
had left exactly five days ago. All the information we 
got from Gulab-Lal-Sing was so interesting that I wrote 
it down at the first opportunity. 

After a few weeks we visited Hardwar ourselves, and 
since I saw it, my memory has never grown tired of 
recalling the charming picture of its lovely situation. 
It is as near a p'rimitive picture of earthly Paradise as 
anything that can be imagined. 

Every twelfth year, which the Hindus call Ktwibhay 
the planet Jupiter enters the constellation of Aquarius, 
and this event is considered very propitious for the be- 
ginning of the religious fair; for which this day is 
accordingly fixed by the astrologers of the pagodas. 
This gathering attracts the representatives of all sects, 
as I said before, from princes and maharajas down to 
the last fakir. The former come for the sake of religious 


discussions, the latter, simply to plunge into the waters 
of Ganges at its very source, which must be done at a 
certain propitious hour, fixed also by the position of the 

Ganges is a name invented in Europe. The natives 
always say Gangd^ and consider this river to belong 
strictly to the feminine sex. Ganga is sacred in the 
eyes of the Hindus, because she is the most important of 
all the fostering goddesses of the country, and a daughter 
of the old Himavat (Himalaya), from whose heart she 
springs for the salvation of the people. That is why she 
is worshipped, and why the city of Hardwar, built at her 
very source, is so sacred. 

Hardwar is written Hari-dvdra, the doorway of the 
sun-god, or Krishna, and is also often called Gangadvara, 
the doorway of Ganga; there is still a third name of the 
same town, which is the name of a certain ascetic Kapela, 
or rather Kapila, Who once sought salvation on this 
spot, and left many miraculous traditions. 

The town is situated in a charming flowery valley, at 
the foot of the southern slope of the Sivalik ridge, be- 
tween two mountain chains. In this valley, raised 1,024 
feet above the sea-level, the northern nature of the 
Himalayas struggles with the tropical growth of the 
plains; and, in their efforts to excel each other, they 
have created the most delightful of all the delightful 
corners of India. The town itself is a quaint collection 
of castle-like turrets of the most fantastical architecture ; 
of ancient viharas ; of wooden fortresses, so gaily painted 
that they look like toys; of pagodas, with loopholes and 
overhanging curved little balconies; and all this over- 
grown by such abundance of roses, dahlias, aloes and 
blossoming cactuses, that it is hardly possible to tell a 
door from a window. The granite foundations of many 


houses are laid almost in the bed of the river, and so, 
during four months of the year, they are half covered 
with water. And behind this handful of scattered 
houses, higher up the mountain slope, crowd snow-white, 
stately temples. Some of them are low, with thick walls, 
wide wings and gilded cupolas; others rise in majestical 
many-storied towers; others again with shapely pointed 
roofs, which look like the spires of a bell tower. Strange 
and capricious is the architecture of these temples, the 
like of which is not to be seen anywhere else. They 
look as if they had suddenly dropped from the snowy 
abodes of the mountain spirits above, standing there in 
the shelter of the mother mountain, and timidly peeping 
over the head of the small town below at their own 
images reflected in the pure, untroubled waters of the 
sacred river. 

Here the Ganges is not yet polluted by the dirt and 
the sins of her many million adorers. Releasing her 
worshippers, cleansed from her icy embrace, the pure 
maiden of the mountains carries her transparent waves 
through the burning pl'ain^ of Hindostan; and only 
three hundred and forty-eight miles lower down, on 
passing through Cawnpore, do her waters begin to grow 
thicker and darker, while, on reaching Benares, they 
transform themselves into a kind of peppery pea soup. 

Once, while talking to an old Hindu, who tried to 
convince us that his compatriots are the cleanest nation 
in the world, we asked him : 

** Why is it then that, in the less populous places, the 
Ganges is pure and transparent, whilst in Benares, 
especially towards evening, it looks like a mass of liquid 

**0 sahibs!" answered he mournfully, "it is not the 
dirt of our bodies, as you think, it is not even the 


blackness of our sins, that the devi (goddess) washes 
away. . . . Her waves are black with the sorrow 
and shame of her children. Her feelings are sad and 
sorrowful ; hidden suffering, burning pain and humilia- 
tion, despair and shame at her own helplessness, have 
been her lot for many past centuries. She has suffered 
all this till her waters have become waves of black bile. 
Her waters are poisoned and black, but not from physi- 
cal causes. She is our mother, and how could she help 
resenting the degradation we have brought ourselves to 
in this dark age." 

This sorrowful, poetical allegory made us feel very 
keenly for the poor old man; but, however great our 
sympathy, we could not but suppose that probably the 
woes of the maiden Ganga do not affect her sources. In 
Hardwar the colour of Ganges is crystal aqua 7narhia^ 
and the waters run gaily murmuring to the shore-reeds 
about the wonder^ they saw on their way from the 

The beautiful river is the greatest and the purest of 
goddesses, in the eyes of the Hindus ; and many are the 
honours given to her in Hardwar. Besides the Mela 
celebrated once every twelve years, there is a month in 
every year when the pilgrims flock together to the 
Harika-Paira, stairs of Vishnu. Whosoever succeeds in 
throwing himself first into the river, at the appointed 
day, hour and moment, will not only expiate all his 
sins, but also have all bodily sufferings removed. This 
zeal to be first is so great that, owing to a badly-con- 
structed and narrow stair leading to the water, it used to 
cost many lives yearly, until, in 1819, the East India Com- 
pany, taking pity upon the pilgrims, ordered this ancient 
relic to be removed, and a new stairway, one hundred 
feet wide, and consisting of sixty steps, to be constructed. 


The month when the waters of the Ganges are most 
salutary, falls, according to the Brahmanical computa- 
tion, between March 12th and April loth, and is called 
Chaitra. The worst of it is that the waters are at their 
best only at the first moment of a certain propitious 
hour, indicated by the Brahmans, and which sometimes 
happens to be midnight. You can fancy what it must 
be when this moment comes, in the midst of a crowd 
which exceeds two millions. In 1819 more than four 
hundred people were crushed to death. But even after 
the new stairs were constructed, the goddess Ganga has 
carried awa}- on her virgin bosom man}^ a disfigured 
corpse of her worshippers. Nobody pitied the drowned, 
on the contrary, they were envied. Whoever happens 
to be killed during this purification by bathing, is sure 
to go straight to Swarga (heaven). In 1760, the two 
rival brotherhoods of Sannyasis and Bairagis had a 
regular battle amongst them on the^sacred day of Purbi, 
the last day of the religious fair. The Bairagis were 
conquered, and there were eighteen thousand people 
slaughtered. * , 

"And in 1796," proudly narrated our warlike friend 
the Akali, "the pilgrims from Punjab, all of them Sikhs, 
desiring to punish the insolence of the Hossains, killed 
here about five fiundred of these heathens. My own 
grandfather took part in the fight!" 

Later on we verified this in the Gazetteer of India, 
and the "God's warrior" was cleared of every suspicion 
of exaggeration and boasting. 

In 1879, however, no one was drowned, or crushed to 
death, but a dreadful epidemic of cholera broke out. 
We were disgusted at this impediment ; but had to keep 
at a distance in spite of our impatience to see Hardwar. 
And unable to behold distant summits of old Himavat 


ourselves, we had in the meanwhile to be contented with 
what we could hear about him from other people. 

So we talked long after our breakfast under the cave 
vault was finished. But our talk was not so gay as it 
might have been, because we had to part with Ram- 
Runjit-Das, who was going to Bombay. The worthy 
Sikh shook hands with us in the European way, and 
then raising his right hand gave us his blessing, after 
the fashion of all the followers of Nanaka. But when 
he approached the Takur to take leave of him, his 
countenance suddenly changed. This change was so 
evident that we all noted it. The Takur was sitting 
on the ground leaning on a saddle, which served him 
as a cushion. The Akali did not attempt either to give 
him his blessing or to shake hands with him. The 
proud expression of his face also changed, and showed 
confusion and anxious humility instead of the usual 
self-respect and self-sufficiency. The brave Sikh knelt 
down before the Takur, and instead of the ordinary 
''Namaste!" — "Salutation to you," whispered rever- 
ently, as if addressing the Guru of the Golden Lake: "I 
am your servant, Sadhu-Sahib! give me your blessing!" 

Without any apparent reason or cause, we all felt self- 
conscious and ill at ease, as if guilty of some indiscretion. 
But the face of the mysterious Rajput remained as calm 
and as dispassionate as ever. He was looking at the 
river before this scene took place, and slowly moved his 
eyes to the Akali, who lay prostrated before him. Then 
he touched the head of the Sikh with his index finger, 
and rose with the remark that we also had better start at 
once, because it was getting late. 

We drove in our carriage, moving very slowly because 
of the deep sand which covers all this locality, and the 


Takiir followed us on horseback all the way. He told 
us the epic legends of Hardwar and Rajistan, of the great 
deeds of the Hari-Kulas, the heroic princes of the solar 
race. Hari means sun, and Kula family. Some of the 
Rajput princes belong to this familj^ and the Maharanas 
of Oodeypur are especially proud of their astronomical 

The name of Hari-Kula gives to some Orientalists 
ground to suppose that a member of this family emi- 
grated to Egypt in the remote epoch of the first Pharaonic 
dynasties, and that the ancient Greeks, borrowing the 
name as well as the traditions, thus formed their legends 
about the mythological Hercules. It is believed that the 
ancient Egyptians adored the sphinx under the name 
of Hari-Mtikh, or the "sun on the horizon." On the 
mountain chain which fringes Kashmir on the north, 
thirteen thousand feet above the sea, there is a huge 
summit, which is exactly like a hetld, and which bears 
the name of Harimukh. This name is also met with in 
the most ancient of the Pzcrdnas. Besides, popular 
tradition considers this Hinjalayan stone head to be the 
image of the setthig sim. 

Is it possible, then, that all these coincidences are 
only accidental? And why is it that the Orientalists will 
not give it more serious attention? It seems to me that 
this is a rich soil for future research, and that it is no 
more to be explained by mere chance than the fact that 
both Egypt and India held the cow sacred, and that the 
ancient Egyptians had the same religious horror of 
killing certain animals, as the modern Hindus. 


When evening began to draw on, we were driving 
beneath the trees of a wild jungle; arriving soon after 
at a large lake, we left the carriages. The shores were 
overgrown with reeds — not the reeds that answer our 
European notions, but rather such as Gulliver was likely 
to meet with in his travels to Brobdingnag. The place 
was perfectly deserted, but we saw a boat fastened close 
to the land. We had still about an hour and a half of 
daylight before us, and so we quietly sat down on some 
ruins and enjoyed the splendid view, whilst the servants 
of the Takur transported our bags, boxes and bundles 

of rugs from the carriages to the ferry boat. Mr. Y 

w^as preparing to paint the picture before us, which 
indeed was charmiilg. 

"Don't be in a hurry to take down this view," said 
Gulab-Sing, "In half an hour we shall be on the islet, 
where the view is still lovelier. We may spend there 
the night and to-morrow morning as well." 

"I am afraid it will be too dark in an hour," said Mr. 

Y , opening his colour box. "And as for to-morrow, 

we shall probably have to start very early." 

"Oh, no ! there is not the slightest need to start early. 
We may even stay here part of the afternoon. From 
here to the railway station it is only three hours, and 
the train only leaves for Jubbulpore at eight in the 
evening. And do you know," added the Takur, smiling 
in his usual mysterious way, "I am going to treat you 
to a concert. To-night you shall be witness of a very 
interesting natural phenomenon connected with this 


We all pricked up our ears with curiosity. 

••Do you mean that island there? and do you really 
think we must go?" asked the colonel. "Why should 
not we spend the night here, where we are so deliciously 
cool, and where . . ." 

••Where the forest swarms with playful leopards, and 
the reeds shelter snug family parties of the serpent race, 
were you going to say, colonel?" interrupted the Babu, 
with a broad grin. •• Don't you admire this merry 
gathering, for instance? Look at them! There is the 
father and the mother, uncles, aunts, and children. . . . 
I am sure I could point out even a mother-in-law." 

Miss X looked in the direction he indicated and 

shrieked, till all the echoes of the forest groaned in 
answer. Not farther than three steps from her there 
were at least forty grown up serpents and baby snakes. 
They amused themselves by practising somersaults, 
coiled up, then straightened again ^nd interlaced their 
tails, presenting to our dilated eyes a picture of perfect 

innocence and primitive contentment. Miss X 

could not stand it any 16nger and fled to the carriage, 
whence she showed us a pale, horrified face. The 
Takur, who had arranged himself comfortably beside 
Mr. Y in order to watch the progress of his paint- 
ing, left his seat and looked attentively at the dangerous 
group, quietly smoking his gargari — Rajput narghile — 
the while. 

"If you do not stop screaming you will attract all the 
wild animals of the forest in another ten minutes," said 
he. "None of you have anything to fear. If you do 
not excite an animal he is almost sure to leave you 
alone, and most probably will run away from you." 

With these words he lightly waved his pipe in the 
direction of the serpentine family-party. A thunder- 


bolt falling in their midst could not have been more 
effectual. The whole living mass looked stunned for a 
moment, and then rapidly disappeared among the reeds 
with loud hissing and rustling. 

"Now this is pure mesmerism, I declare," said the 
colonel, on whom not a gesture of the Takur was lost. 
"How did you do it, Gulab-Sing? Where did you learn 
this science?" 

"They were simply frightened away by the sudden 
movement of my chibook, and there was no science and 
no mesmerism about it. Probably by this fashionable 
modern word 3^ou mean what we Hindus call vashi- 
karana vidya — that is to say, the science of charming 
people and animals by the force of will. However, as I 
have already said, this has nothing to do with what 
I did." 

"But you do not deny, do you, that you have studied 
this science and possess this gift?" 

" Of course I don't. Every Hindu of my sect is bound 
to study the mysteries of physiology and psychology 
amongst other secrets left to us by our ancestors. But 
what of that? I am very much afraid, my dear colonel," 
said the Takur with a quiet smile, "that you are rather 
inclined to view the simplest of my acts through a 
mystical prism. Naraj'-an has been teiling you all kinds 
of things about me behind my back. . . . Now, is it 
not so?" 

And he looked at Narayan, who sat at his feet, with 
an indescribable mixture of fondness and reproof. The 
Dekkan colossus dropped his eyes and remained silent. 

"You have guessed rightly," absently answered Mr. 

Y , busy over his drawing apparatus. "Narayan 

sees in you something like his late deity Shiva ; some- 
thing just a little less than Parabrahm. Would you 


believe it? He seriously assured us — in Nassik it was 

that the Raj -Yogis, and amongst them yourself— though 
I must own I still fail to understand what a Raj -Yogi is, 
precisely — can force any one to see, not what is before 
his eyes at the given moment, but what is only in the 
imagination of the Raj-Yogi. If I remember rightly he 
called it Maya. . . . Now, this seemed to me going 
a little too far!" 

"Well! You did not believe, of course, and laughed 
at Narayan?" asked the Takur, fathoming with his eyes 
the dark green deeps of the lake. 

*'Not precisely. . . . Though, I dare say, I did 

just a little bit," went on Mr. Y , absently, being 

fully engrossed by the view, and trying to fix his eyes on 
the most effective part of it. **I dare say I am too scep- 
tical on this kind of question." 

*' And knowing Mr. Y as I do," said the colonel, "I 

can add, for my part, that even were kny of these pheno- 
mena to happen to himself personally, he, like Dr. Car- 
penter, would doubt his own eyes rather than believe." 

"What 3'ou say is a li^tle/bit exaggerated, but there 
is some truth in it. Maj^be I would not trust myself in 
such an occurrence ; and I tell you why. If I saw some- 
thing that does not exist, or rather exists only for me, 
logic would inter/ere. However objective my vision 
may be, before believing in the materiality of a halluci- 
nation, I feel I am bound to doubt my own senses and 
sanity. . . . Besides, what bosh all this is! As if I 
ever will allow myself to believe in the reality of a thing 
that I alone saw; which belief implies also the admission 
of somebody else governing and dominating, for the 
time being, my optical nerves, as well as my brains." 

"However, there are any number of people, who do not 
doubt, because they have had proof that this phenomenor 



really occurs," remarked the Takur, in a careless tone, 
which showed he had not the slightest desire to insist 
upon this topic. 

However, this remark only increased Mr. Y ^'s 


** No doubt there are ! " he exclaimed. "But what does 
that prove? Besides them, there are equal numbers of 
people who believe in the materialization of spirits. 
But do me the kindness of not including me among 

''Don't you believe in animal magnetism?" 

''To a certain extent, I do. If a person suffering from 
some contagious illness can influence a person in good 
health, and make him ill, in his turn, I suppose some- 
body else's overflow of health can also affect the sick 
person, and, perhaps cure him. But between physio- 
logical contagion and mesmeric influence there is a 
great gulf, and I ddn't feel inclined to cross this gulf on 
the grounds of blind faith. It is perfectly possible that 
there are instances of thought-transference in cases of 
somnambulism, epilepsy, trafice. I do not positively 
deny it, though I am very doubtful. Mediums and 
clairvoyants are a sickly lot, as a rule. But I bet you 
anything, a healthy man in perfectly normal conditions 
is not to be influenced by the tricks of mesmerists. I 
should like to see a magnetizer, or even a RSj-Yogi, 
inducing me to obey his will." 

" Now, my dear fellow, you really ought not to speak 
so rashly," said the colonel, who, till then, had not taken 
any part in the discussion. 

*' Ought I not? Don't take it into your head that it 
is mere boastfulness on my part. I guarantee failure in 
my case, simply because every renowned European 
I^esmerist has tried his luck with me, without any 


result; and that is why I defy the whole lot of them to 
try again, and feel perfectly safe about it. And why a 
Hindu Raj -Yogi should succeed where the strongest of 
Ktiropean mesmerists failed, I do not quite see. . .** 

Mr. Y was growing altogether too excited, and 

the Takur dropped the subject, and talked of something 

For my part, I also feel inclined to deviate once more 
from my subject, and give some necessary explanations. 

Miss X excepted, none of our party had ever been 

numbered amongst the spiritualists, least of all Mr. 
Y . We Theosophists did not believe in the playful- 
ness of departed souls, though we admitted the possi- 
bility of some mediumistic phenomena, while totally 
disagreeing with the spiritualists as to the cause and 
point of view. Refusing to believe in the interference, 
and even presence of the spirits, in the so-called 
spiritualistic phenomena, we nevertheless believe in the 
livhig spirit of man ; we believe in the omnipotence of 
this spirit, and in its natural, though benumbed capaci- 
ties. We also believe that, -when incarnated, this spirit, 
this divine spark, may be apparently quenched, if it is 
not guarded, and if the life the man leads is unfavour- 
able to its expansion, as it generally is; but, on the 
other hand, our conviction is that human beings can 
develop their potential spiritual powers ; that, if they 
do, no phenomenon will be impossible for their liberated 
wills, and that they will perform what, in the eyes of the 
uninitiated, will be much more wondrous than the 
materialized forms of the spiritualists. If proper train- 
ing can render the muscular strength ten times greater, 
as in the cases of renowned athletes, I do not see why 
proper training should fail in the case of moral capaci- 
ties. We have also good grounds to believe that the 


secret of this proper training — though unknown to, and 
denied by, European physiologists and even psycholo- 
gists—is known in some places in India, where its 
knowledge is hereditary, and entrusted to few. 

Mr. Y was a novice in our Society and looked 

with distrust even on such phenomena as can be pro- 
duced by mesmerism. He had been trained in the 
Royal Institute of British Architects, w^hich he left with 
a gold medal, and with a fund of scepticism that caused 
him to distrust everything, en dehors des 77iatheviatiques 
pures. So that no wonder he lost his temper when 
people tried to convince him that there existed things 
which he was inclined to treat as " mere bosh and 

Now I return to my narrative. 

The Babu and Mulji left us to help the servants to 
transport our luggage to the ferry boat. The remainder 
of the party had grown very quiet and silent. Miss 

X dozed peacefully in the carriage, forgetting her 

recent fright. The colonel, stretched on the sand, 
amused himself by throwing stones into the water. 
Narayan sat motionless, with his hands round his knees, 
plunged as usual in the mute contemplation of Gulab- 

I,al-Sing. Mr. Y sketched hurriedly and diligently, 

only raising his head from time to time to glance at the 
opposite shore, and knitting his brow in a preoccupied 
way. The Takur went on smoking, and as for me, I sat 
on my folding chair, looking lazily at ever>'thing round 
me, till my eyes rested on Gulab-Sing, and were fixed, 
as if by a spell. 

"Who and what is this mysterious Hindu?" I won- 
dered in my uncertain thoughts. ''Who is this man, who 
unites in himself two such distinct personalities: the one 
exterior, kept up for strangers, for the w^orld in general, 


the other interior, moral and spiritual, shown only to a 
few intimate friends? But even these intimate friends — 
do they know much beyond what is generally known? 
And what do they know? They see in him a Hindu who 
differs very little from the rest of educated natives, 
perhaps only in his perfect contempt for the social con- 
ventions of India and the demands of Western civiliza- 
tion. . . . And that is all — unless I add that he is 
known in Central India as a sufficiently wealthy man, 
and a Takur, a feudal chieftain of a Raj, one of the 
hundreds of similar Rajes. Besides, he is a true friend 
of ours, who offered us his protection in our travels and 
volunteered to play the mediator between us and the 
suspicious, uncommunicative Hindus, Beyond all this, 
we know absolutely nothing about him. It is true, 
though, that I know a little more than the others; but 
I have promised silence, and silent I shall be. But the 
little I know is so strange, so unusual, that it is more 
like a dream than a reality." 

A good while ago, more than twenty-seven years, I 
met him in the house of *a sj:ranger in England, whither 
he came in the company of a certain dethroned Indian 
prince. Then our acquaintance was limited to two con- 
versations ; their unexpectedness, their gravity, and even 
severity, produced a strong impression on me then ; but, 
in the course of time, like many other things, they sank 
into oblivion and Lethe. About seven years ago he wrote 
to me to America, reminding me of our conversation and 
of a certain promise I had made. Now we saw each other 
once more in India, his own country, and I failed to see 
any change wrought in his appearance by all these long 
years. I was, and looked, quite young, when I first saw 
him ; but the passage of years had not failed to change 
me into an old woman. As to him, he appeared to me 


twenty-seven years ago a man of about thirty, and still 
looked no older, as if time were powerless against him. 
In England, his striking beauty, especially his extra- 
ordinary height and stature, together with his eccentric 
refusal to be presented to the Queen — an honour many a 
high-born Hindu has sought, coming over on purpose 
— excited the public notice and the attention of the 
newspapers. The newspaper-men of those days, when 
the influence of Byron was still great, discussed the 
"wild Rajput" with untiring pens, calling him ** Raja- 
Misanthrope" and "Prince Jalma-Samson," and in- 
venting fables about him all the time he stayed in 

All this taken together was well calculated to fill me 
with consuming curiosity, and to absorb my thoughts till 
I forgot every exterior circumstance, sitting and staring 
at him in no wise less intensely than Narayan. 

I gazed at the remarkable face of Gulab-Lal-Sing with 
a mixed feeling of indescribable fear and enthusiastic 
admiration ; recalling the mysterious death of the Karli 
tiger, my own miraculous ^escape a few hours ago in 
Bagh, and many other incidents too many to relate. It 
was only a few hours since he appeared to us in the 
morning, and yet what a number of^ strange ideas, of 
puzzling occurrences, how many enigmas his presence 
stirred in our minds! The magic circle of m}^ revolving 
thought grew too much for me. "What does all this 
mean!" I exclaimed to mj^self, trying to shake off my 
torpor, and struggling to find words for my meditation. 
"Who is this being whom I saw so many years ago, 
jubilant with manhood and life, and now see again, as 
3'oung and as full of life, only still more austere, still 
more incomprehensible. After all, maybe it is his 
brother, or even his son?" thought I, trying to calm my- 


self, but with no result. "No! there is no use doubting; 
it is he himself, it is the same face, the same little scar 
on the left temple. But, as a quarter of a century ago, 
so now: no wrinkles on those beautiful classic features; 
not a white hair in this thick jet-black mane; and, in 
moments of silence, the same expression of perfect rest 
on that face, calm as a statue of living bronze. What a 
strange expression, and what a wonderful Sphinx-like 

"Not a very brilliant comparison, my old friend!" 
suddenly spoke the Takur, and a good-natured laughing 
note rung in his voice, whilst I shuddered and grew red 
like a naughty schoolgirl. "This comparison is so in- 
accurate that it decidedly sins against history in two 
important points. Prima, the Sphinx is a lion; so am 
I, as indicates the word Sing in my name ; but the Sphinx 
is winged, and I am not. Secondo, the Sphinx is a woman 
as well as a winged lion, but the Rajput Sinhas never 
had anything effeminate in their characters. Besides, 
the Sphinx is the daughter of Chimera, or Echidna, 
who were neither beautiful nor good ; and so you might 
have chosen a more flattering and a less inaccurate 

I simply gasped in my utter confusion, and he gave 
vent to his merriment, which by no means relieved me. 

"Shall I give you some good advice?" continued 
Gulab-Sing, changing his tone for a more serious one. 
"Don't trouble your head with such vain speculations. 
The day when this riddle yields its solution, the Rajput 
Sphinx will not seek destruction in the waves of the sea; 
but, believe me, it w^on't bring any profit to the Russian 
CEdipus either. You already know ever)^ detail you ever 
will learn. So leave the rest to our respective fates." 

And he rose because the Babu and Mulji had informed 


US that the ferry boat was ready to start, and were shout- 
ing and making signs to us to hasten. 

**Just let me finish," said Mr. Y , "I have nearly 

done. Just an additional touch or two." 

*%et us see your work. Hand it round!" insisted the 

colonel and Miss X , who had just left her haven of 

refuge in the carriage, and joined us still half asleep. 

Mr. Y hurriedly added a few more touches to his 

drawing and rose to collect his brushes and pencils. 

We glanced at his fresh wet picture and opened our 
eyes in astonishment. There was no lake on it, no 
woody shores, and no velvety evening mists that covered 
the distant island at this moment. Instead of all this 
we saw a charming sea view; thick clusters of shapely 
palm-trees scattered over the chalky cliffs of the littoral ; 
a fortress-like bungalow with balconies and a flat roof, 
an elephant standing at its entrance, and a native boat 
on the crest of a foaming billow. 

"Now what is this view, sir?" wondered the colonel. 
"As if it was worth your while to sit in the sun, and 
detain us all, to draw fancy pictures out of your own 

"What on earth are you talking about?" exclaimed 

Mr. Y . "Do you mean to say you do not recognize 

the lake?" 

"Listen to him — the lake! Where is the lake, if you 
please? Were you asleep, or what?" 

By this time all our party gathered round the colonel, 
who held the drawing. Narayan uttered an exclama- 
tion, and stood still, the very image of bewilderment 
past description. 

"I know the place!" said he, at last. "This is Dayri- 
Bol, the country house of the Takur-Sahib. I know it. 
Last year during the famine I lived there for two months." 


I was the first to grasp the meaning of it all, but 
something prevented me from speaking at once. 

At last Mr. Y finished arranging and packing his 

things, and approached us in his usual lazy, careless 
way, but his face showed traces of vexation. He was 
evidently bored by our persistency in seeing a sea, 
where there was nothing but the corner of a lake. But, 
at the first sight of his unlucky sketch, his countenance 
suddenly changed. He grew so pale, and the expres- 
sion of his face became so piteously distraught that it 
was painful to see. He turned and re-turned the piece 
of Bristol board, then rushed like a madman to his 
drawing portfolio and turned the whole contents out, 
ransacking and scattering over the sand hundreds of 
sketches and of loose papers. Evidently failing to find 
what he was looking for, he glanced again at his sea- 
view, and suddenly covering his face with his hands 
totally collapsed. 

We all remained silent, exchanging glances of wonder 
and pity, and heedless of the Takur, who stood on the 
ferry boat, vainly calling to jis-to join him. 

"lyook here, Y !" timidly spoke the kind-hearted 

colonel, as if addressing a sick child. "Are you sure 
you remember drawing this view?" 

Mr. Y did not give any answer, as if gathering 

strength and thinking it over. After a few moments he 
answered in hoarse and tremulous tones : 

"Yes, I do remember. Of course I made this sketch, 
but I made it from nature. I painted only what I saw. 
And it is that very certainty that upsets me so." 

"But why should you be upset, my dear fellow? 
Collect yourself! What happened to you is neither 
shameful nor dreadful. It is only the result of the tem- 
porary influence of one dominant will over another, less 


powerful. You simpl}^ acted under 'biological influence,' 
to use the expression of Dr. Carpenter." 

"That is exactly what I am most afraid of. ... I 
remember everything now. I have been busy over this 
view more than an hour. I saw it directly I chose the 
spot, and seeing it all the while on the opposite shore I 
could not suspect anything uncanny. I was perfectly 
conscious, ... or, shall I say, I fancied I was con- 
scious of putting down on paper what everyone of you 
had before your eyes. I had lost every notion of the 
place as I saw it before I began my sketch, and as I see 
it now. . . . But how do you account for it? Good 
gracious! am I to believe that these confounded Hindus 
really possess the mystery of this trick? I tell you, 
colonel, I shall go mad if I don*t understand it all!" 

'*No fear of that, Mr. Y ," said Narayan, with a 

triumphant twinkle in his eyes. "You will simply lose 
the right to deny Yoga-Vidya, the great ancient science 
of my countr>\" 

Mr. Y did not answer him. He made an effort to 

calm his feelings, and braveV stepped on the ferry boat 
with firm foot. Then he sat down, apart from us all, 
obstinately looking at the large surface of water round 
us, and struggling to seem his usual self. 

Miss X was the first to interrupt the silence. 

"Ma chere!" said she to me in a subdued, but trium- 
phant voice. "Ma chere. Monsieur Y devient 

vraiment un medium de premiere force ! " 

In moments of great excitement she always addressed 
me in French. But I also was too excited to control my 
feelings, and so I answered rather unkindly : 

"Please stop this nonsense, Miss X . You know 

I don't believe in spiritualism. Poor Mr. Y , was 

not he upset?" 


Receiving this rebuke and no sympathy from me, she 
could not think of anything better than drawing out the 
Babu, who, for a wonder, had managed to keep quiet till 

"What do you say to all this? I for one am perfectly 
confident that no one but the disembodied soul of a 
g^eat artist could have painted that lovely view. Who 
else is capable of such a wonderful achievement ?" 

"Why? The old gentleman in person. Confess that 
at the bottom of your soul you firmly believe that the 
Hindus worship devils. To be sure it is some deity of 
ours of this kind that had his august paw in the matter.'* 

" II est positivement malhonnete, ce Negre-la ! '* 

angrily muttered Miss X , hurriedly withdrawing 

from him. 

The island was a tiny one, and so overgrown with tall 
reeds that, from a distance, it looked like a pyramidal 
basket of verdure. With the exception of a colony of 
monkeys, who bustled away to a few mango trees at our 
approach, the place seemed uninhabited. In this virgin 
forest of thick grass thef-e ^as no trace of human life. 
Seeing the word grass the reader must not forget that it 
is not the grass of Europe I mean; the grass under 
which we stood, like insects under a rhubarb leaf, waved 
its feathery many-coloured plumes much above the 
head of Gulab-Sing (who stood six feet and a half in 
his stockings), and of Narayan, who measured hardly an 
inch less. From a distance it looked like a waving sea 
of black, yellow, blue, and especially of rose and green. 
On landing, we discovered that it consisted of separate 
thickets of bamboos, mixed up with the gigantic sirka 
reeds, which rose as high as the tops of the mangos. 

It is impossible to imagine anything prettier and more 
graceful than the bamboos and sirka. The isolated tufts 


of bamboos show, in spite of their size, that they are 
nothing but grass, because the least gush of wind shakes 
them, and their green crests begin to nod like heads 
adorned with long ostrich plumes. There were some 
bamboos there fifty or sixty feet high. From time to 
time we heard a light metallic rustle in the reeds, but 
none of us paid much attention to it. 

Whilst our coolies and servants were busy clearing a 
place for our tents, pitching them and preparing the 
supper, we went to pay our respects to the monkeys, the 
true hosts of the place. Without exaggeration there 
were at least two hundred. While preparing for their 
nightly rest the monkeys behaved like decorous and 
well-behaved people; every family chose a separate 
branch and defended it from the intrusion of strangers 
lodging on the same tree, but this defence never passed 
the limits of good manners, and generally took the shape 
of threatening grimaces. There were many mothers 
with babies in arms amongst them ; some of them treated 
the children tenderly, and lifted them cautiously, with a 
perfectly human care ; others, less thoughtful, ran up 
and down, heedless of the child hanging at their breasts, 
preoccupied with something, discussing something, and 
stopping every moment to quarrel with other monkey 
ladies — a true picture of chatty old gossips on a market 
day, repeated in the animal kingdom. The bachelors 
kept apart, absorbed in their athletic exercises, per- 
formed for the most part with the ends of their tails. 
One of them, especially, attracted our attention by 
dividing his amusement between saufs perilleux and 
teasing a respectable looking grandfather, who sat 
under a tree hugging two little monkeys. Swinging 
backward and forward from the branch, the bachelor 
jumped at him, bit his ear playfully and made faces a': 

AN isle; of mystery. 271 

him, chattering all the time. We cautiously passed from 
one tree to another, afraid of frightening them away ; 
but evidently the years spent by them with the fakirs, 
who left the island only a year ago, had accustomed 
them to human society. They were sacred monkeys, as 
we learned, and so they had nothing to fear from men. 
They showed no signs of alarm at our approach, and, 
having received our greeting, and some of them a piece 
of sugar-cane, they calmly stayed on their branch- 
thrones, crossing their arms, and looking at us with a 
good deal of dignified contempt in their intelligent 
hazel eyes. • 

The sun had set, and we were told that the supper was 
ready. We all turned "homewards," except the Babu. 
The main feature of his character, in the eyes of ortho- 
dox Hindus, being a tendency to blasphemy, he could 
never resist the temptation to justify their opinion of 
him. Climbing up a high branch he crouched there, 
imitating every gesture of the monkeys and answering 
their threatening grimaces by still uglier ones, to the 
unconcealed disgust of odr piotis coolies. 

As the last golden ray disappeared on the horizon, a 
gauze-like veil of pale lilac fell over the world. But as 
every moment decreased the transparency of this tropical 
twilight, the tint gradually lost its softness and became 
darker and darker. It looked as if an invisible painter, 
unceasingly moving his gigantic brush, swiftly laid one 
coat of paint over the other, ever changing the exquisite 
background of our islet. The phosphoric candles of the 
fireflies began to twinkle here and there, shining brightly 
against the black trunks of the trees, and lost again on 
the silver}^ background of opalescent evening sky. But 
in a few minutes more thousands of these living sparks, 
precursors of Queen Night, played round us, pouring 


like a golden cascade over the trees, and dancing in the 
air above the grass and the dark lake. 

And behold! here is the queen in person. Noise- 
lessly descending upon earth, she reassumes her rights. 
With her approach, rest and peace spread over us ; her 
cool breath calms the activities of day. Like a fond 
mother, she sings a lullaby to nature, lovingly wrapping 
her in her soft black mantle; and, when everything is 
asleep, she watches over nature's dozing powers till the 
first streaks of dawn. 

Nature sleeps ; but man is awake, to be witness to the 
beauties of this solemn evening hour. Sitting round 
the fire we talked, lowering our voices as if afraid of 
awaking night. We were only six; the colonel, the four 

Hindus and myself, because Mr. Y ^ and Miss X 

could not resist the fatigue of the day and had gone to 
sleep directly after supper. 

Snugly sheltered by the high "grass," we had not the 
heart to spend this magnificent night in prosaic sleep- 
ing. Besides, we were waiting for the "concert'* which 
the Takur had promised ^ts. ' 

"Be patient," said he, "the musicians will not appear 
before the moon rises." 

The fickle goddess was late; she kept us waiting till 
after ten o'clock. Just before her ' arrival, when the 
horizon began to grow perceptibly brighter, and the 
opposite shore to assume a milky, silvery tint, a sudden 
wind rose. The waves, that had gone quietly to sleep 
at the feet of gigantic reeds, awoke and tossed uneasily, 
till the reeds swayed their feathery heads and murmured 
to each other as if taking counsel together about some- 
thing that was going to happen. . . . Suddenly, in 
the general stillness and silence, we heard again the 
same musical notes, which we had passed unheeded, 


when we first reached the island, as if a whole orchestra 
were trying their musical instruments before playing 
sopie great composition. All round us, and over our 
heads, vibrated strings of violins, and thrilled the separate 
notes of a flute. In a few moments came another gust 
of wind tearing through the reeds, and the whole island 
resounded with the strains of hundreds of -^olian harps. 
And suddenly there began a wild unceasing symphony. 
It swelled in the surrounding woods, filling the air 
with an indescribable melody. Sad and solemn were its 
prolonged strains ; they resounded like the arpeggios of 
some funeral march, then, changing into a trembling 
thrill, they shook the air like the song of a nightingale, 
and died away in a long sigh. They did not quite cease, 
but grew louder again, ringing like hundreds of silver 
bells, changing from the heartrending howl of a wolf, 
deprived of her young, to the precipitate rhythm of a gay 
tarantella, forgetful of every earthly sorrow; from the 
articulate song of a human voice, to the vague majestic 
accords of a violoncello, from merry child's laughter to 
angry sobbing. And all thi^ was repeated in every 
direction by mocking echo) as if hundreds of fabulous 
forest maidens, disturbed in their green abodes, answered 
the appeal of the wild musical Saturnalia. 

The colonel and I glanced at each other in our great 

"How delightful! What witchcraft is this?" we ex- 
claimed at the same time. 

The Hindus smiled, but did not answer us. The 
Takur smoked his gargari as peacefully as if he was 

There was a short interval, after which the invisible 
orchestra started again with renewed energy. The 
sounds poured and rolled in un restrain able, overwhelm- 


ing waves. We had never heard anj^thing like this in- 
conceivable wonder. Listen ! A storm in the open sea, 
the wind tearing through the rigging, the swish of the 
maddened waves rushing over each other, or the whirl- 
ing snow wreaths on the silent steppes. Suddenly the 
vision is changed; now it is a stately cathedral and the 
thundering strains of an organ rising under its vaults. 
The powerful notes now rush together, now spread out 
through space, break off, intermingle, and become en- 
tangled, like the fantastic melody of a delirious fever, 
some musical phantasy born of the howling and whist- 
ling of the wind. 

Alas! the charm of these sounds is soon exhausted, 
and you begin to feel that they cut like knives through 
your brain. A horrid fancy haunts our bewildered 
heads; we imagine that the invisible artists strain our 
own veins, and not the strings of imaginary violins ; their 
cold breath freezes Us, blowing their imaginary trum- 
pets, shaking our nerves and impeding our breathing. 

"For God*s sake stop this, Takur! This is really too 
much," shouted the colon,el, at the end of his patience, 
and covering his ears with his hands. "Gulab-Sing, I 
tell you you must stop this." 

The three Hindus burst out laughing; and even the 
grave face of the Takur lit up with a inerry smile. 

"Upon my word," said he, "do you really take me 
for the great Parabrahm? Do you think it is in my 
power to stop the wind, as if I were Marut, the lord of 
the storms, in person. Ask for something easier than 
the instantaneous uprooting of all these bamboos." 

"I beg your pardon; I thought these strange sounds 
also were some kind of psychologic influence." 

"So sorry to disappoint you, my dear colonel; but 
you really must think less of psjxhology and electro- 


biology. This develops into a mania with you. Don't 
you see that this wild music is a natural acoustic phe- 
nomenon? Each of the reeds around us — and there are 
thousands on this island — contains a natural musical in- 
strument; and the musician, Wind, comes here daily 
to try his art after nightfall — especially during the last 
quarter of the moon." 

"The wind!" murmured the colonel. "Oh, yes! But 
this music begins to change into a dreadful roar. Is 
there no way out of it?" 

*'I at least cannot help it. But keep up your patience, 
you will soon get accustomed to it. Besides, there will 
be intervals when the wind falls." 

We were told that there are many such natural orches- 
tras in India. The Brahmans know well their wonderful 
[properties, and calling this kind of reed vind-devi, the 
lute of the gods, keep up the popular superstition and 
say the sounds are divine oracles. "* The sirka grass and 
[the bamboos always shelter a number of tiny beetles, 
which make considerable holes in the hollow reeds. 
The fakirs of the idol-worshipping sects add art to this 
natural beginning and work the plants into musical in- 
struments. The islet we visited bore one of the most 
celebrated vind-devis, and so, of course, was proclaimed 
sacred. • 

"To-morrow morning," said the Takur, "you will see 
what deep knowledge of all the laws of acoustics was in 
the possession of the fakirs. They enlarged the holes 
made by the beetle according to the size of the reed, 
sometimes shaping it into a circle, sometimes into an 
oval. These reeds in their present state can be justly con- 
sidered as the finest illustration of mechanism applied 
to acoustics. However, this is not to be wondered at, 
because some of the most ancient Sanskrit books about 



music minutely describe these laws, and mention many 
musical instruments which are not only forgotten, but 
totally incomprehensible in our days." 

All this was very interesting, but still, disturbed by 
the din, we could not listen attentively. 

"Don't worry yourselves," said the Takur, who soon 
understood our uneasiness, in spite of our attempts at 
composure. "After midnight the wind will fall, and 
you will sleep undisturbed. However, if the too close 
neighbourhood of this musical grass is too much for 
you, we may as well go nearer to the shore. There is 
a spot from which you can see the sacred bonfires on 
the opposite shore." 

We followed him, but while walking through the 
thickets of reeds we did not leave off our conversation. 

"How is it that the Brahmans manage to keep up 
such an evident cheat?" asked the colonel. "The 
stupidest man cannot fail to see in the long run who 
made the holes in the reeds, and how they come to give 
forth music." 

"In America stupid men ni^iy be as clever as that; I 
don't know," answered the Takur, with a smile; "but 
not in India. If you took the trouble to show, to de- 
scribe, and to explain how all this is done to any Hindu, 
be he even comparatively educated, he will still see 
nothing. He will tell you that he knows as well as 
yourself that the holes are made by the beetles and 
enlarged by the fakirs. But what of that? The beetle 
in his eyes is no ordinary beetle, but one of the gods 
incarnated in the insect for this special purpose; and 
the fakir is a holy ascetic, who has acted in this case 
by the order of the same god. That will be all you will 
ever get out of him. Fanaticism and superstition took 
centuries to develop in the masses, and now they are as 


Strong as a necessary physiological function. Kill these 
two and the crowd will have its eyes opened, and will 
see truth, but not before. As to the Brahmans, India 
would have been very fortunate if everything they have 
done were as harmless. Let the crowds adore the muse 
and the spirit of harmony. This adoration is not so 
very wicked, after all." 

The Babu told us that in Dehra-Dun this kind of reed 
is planted on both sides of the central street, which 
is more than a mile long. The buildings prevent the 
free action of the wind, and so the sounds are heard 
only in time of east wind, which is very rare. A year 
ago Swami Dayanand happened to camp off Dehra-Dun. 
Crowds of people gathered round him every evening. 
One day he delivered a very powerful sermon against 
superstition. Tired out by this long, energetic speech, 
and, besides, being a little unwell,^ the Swami sat down 
on his carpet and shut his eyes to rest as soon as the 
sermon was finished. But the crowd, seeing him so 
unusually quiet and silent, all at once imagined that his 
soul, abandoning him in this* prostration, entered the 
reeds — that had just begun to sing their fantastical rhap- 
sody — and was now conversing with the gods through 
the bamboos. Many a pious man in this gathering, 
anxious to show the teacher in what fulness they grasped 
his teaching and how deep was their respect for him 
personally, knelt down before the singing reeds and 
performed a most ardent puja. 

"What did the Swami say to that?" 

"He did not say anything. . . . Your question 
shows that you don't know our Swami yet," laughed the 
Babu. "He simply jumped to his feet, and, uprooting 
the first sacred reed on his way, gave such a lively Euro- 
pean bakshish (thrashing) to the pious puja-makers. 



that they instantly took to their heels. The Swami ran 
after them for a whole mile, giving it hot to everyone in 
his way. He is wonderfully strong is our Swami, and 
no friend to useless talk, I can tell you." 

"But it seems to me," said the colonel, "that that is 
not the right way to convert crowds. Dispersing and 
frightening is not converting." 

"Not a bit of it. The masses of our nation require 
peculiar treatment. . . Let me tell you the end of this 
story. Disappointed with the effect of his teachings on 
the inhabitants of Dehra-Dun, Dayanand Saraswati went 
to Patna, some thirty-five or forty miles from there. 
And before he had even rested from the fatigues of his 
journey, he had to receive a deputation from Dehra-Dun, 
who on their knees entreated him to come back. The 
leaders of this deputation had their backs covered with 
bruises, made by the bamboo of the Swami! They 
brought him back with no end of pomp, mounting him 
on an elephant and spreading flowers all along the road. 
Once in Dehra-Dun, he immediately proceeded to found 
a Samaj, a society as you'woufd say, and the Dehra-Dun 
Arya-Samaj now counts at least two hundred members, 
who have renounced idol-worship and superstition for 

"I was present," said Mulji, "two years ago in Benares, 
when Dayanand broke to pieces about a hundred idols in 
the bazaar, and the same stick served him to beat a 
Brahman with. He caught the latter in the hollow idol 
of a huge Shiva. The Brahman was quietly sitting there 
talking to the devotees in the name, and so to speak, 
with the voice of Shiva, and asking money for a new suit 
of clothes the idol wanted." 

"Is it possible the Swami had not to pay for this new 
achievement of his?" 


**0h, yes. The Brahman dragged him into a law 
court, but the judge had to pronounce the Swami in the 
right, because of the crowd of sympathizers and defenders 
who followed the Swami. But still he had to pay for all 
the idols he had broken. So far so good ; but the Brah- 
man died of cholera that very night, and of course, the 
opposers of the reform said his death was brought on 
by the sorcery of Dayanand Saraswati. This vexed us 
all a good deal." 

"Now, Narayan, it is your turn," said I. "Have you 
no story to tell us about the Swami? And do you not 
look up to him as to your Guru?" 

•*I have only one Guru and only one God on earth, as 
in heaven," answered Narayan ; and I saw that he was 
very unwilling to speak. "And while I live, I shall not 
desert them." 

" I know who is his Guru and his, God ! " thoughtlessly 
exclaimed the quick-tongued Babu. "It is the Takur- 
Sahib. In his person both coincide in the eyes of 

"You ought to be ashamed to talk such nonsense, 
Babu," coldly remarked Gulab-Sing. "I do not think 
m3^self worthy of being anybody's Guru. As to my being 
a god, the mere wqrds are a blasphemy, and I must ask 
you not to repeat them. . . . Here we are!" added 
he more cheerfully, pointing to the carpets spread by 
the servants on the shore, and evidenth^ desirous of 
changing the topic. " Let us sit down !" 

We arrived at a small glade some distance from the 
bamboo forest. The sounds of the magic orchestra 
reached us still, but considerably weakened, and only 
from time to time. We sat to the windward of the reeds, 
and so the harmonic rustle we heard was exactly like the 
low tones of an ^olian harp, and had nothing disagree- 


able in it. On the contrary, the distant murmur only 
added to the beauty of the whole scene around us. 

We sat down, and only then I realized how tired and 
sleepy I was — and no wonder, after being on foot since 
four in the morning, and after all that had happened to 
me on this memorable day. The gentlemen went on 
talking, and I soon became so absorbed in my thoughts 
that their conversation reached me only in fragments. 

"Wake up, wake up!** repeated the colonel, shaking 
me by the hand. **The Takur says that sleeping in the 
moonlight will do you harm." 

I was not asleep ; I was simply thinking, though ex- 
hausted and sleepy. But wholly under the charm of 
this enchanting night, I could not shake off my drowsi- 
ness, and did not answer the colonel. 

*'Wake up, for God's sake! Think of what you are 
risking!" continued the colonel. "Wake up and look 
at the landscape before us, at this wonderful moon. 
Have you ever seen anything to equal this magnificent 

I looked up, and the fimjliar lines of Pushkin about 
the golden moon of Spain flashed into my mind. And 
indeed this was a golden moon. At this moment she 
radiated rivers of golden light, poured forth liquid gold 
into the tossing lake at our feet, and sprinkled with 
golden dust every blade of grass, every pebble, as far as 
the eye could reach, all round us. Her disk of silvery 
yellow swiftly glided upward amongst the big stars, on 
their dark blue ground. 

Many a moonlit night have I seen in India, but every 
time the impression was new and unexpected. It is no 
use trying to describe these j^m'^z^^ pictures, they cannot 
be represented either in words or in colours on canvas, 
they can only be felt — so fugitive is their grandeur and 



beauty! In Europe, even in the south, the full moon 
eclipses the largest and most brilliant of the stars, so 
that hardly any can be seen for a considerable distance 
round her. In India it is quite the contrary; she looks 
like a huge pearl surrounded by diamonds, rolling on 
a blue velvet ground. Her light is so intense that one 
can read a letter written in small handwriting; one 
even can perceive the different greens of the trees and 
bushes — a thing unheard of in Europe. The effect of 
the moon is especially charming on tall palm trees. 
From the first moment of her appearance her rays glide 
over the tree downwards, beginning with the feathery 
crests, then lighting up the scales of the trunk, and de- 
scending lower and lower till the whole palm is literally 
bathing in a sea of light. Without any metaphor the 
surface of the leaves seems to tremble in liquid silver all 
the night long, whereas their under surfaces seem blacker 
and softer than black velvet. But woe to the thought- 
less novice, woe to the mortal who gazes at the Indian 
moon with his head uncovered. It is very dangerous 
not only to sleep under, 'but t^ven to gaze at the chaste 
Indian Diana. Fits of epilepsy, madness and death are 
the punishments wrought by her treacherous arrows on 
the modern Acteon who dares to contemplate the cruel 
daughter of Latona in her full beauty. The Hindus 
never go out in the moonlight without their turbans or 
pagris. Even our invulnerable Babu always wore a 
kind of white cap during the night. 

As soon as the reeds concert reaches its height and 
the inhabitants of the neighbourhood hear the distant 
*' voices of the gods," whole villages flock together to 
the bank of the lake, light bonfires, and perform their 
pujas. The fires lit up one after the other, and the 
black silhouettes of the worshippers moved about on 


the Opposite shore. Their sacred songs and loud excla- 
mations, "Hari, Hari, Maha-deva!" resounded with a 
strange loudness and a wild emphasis in the pure air of 
the night. And the reeds, shaken in the wind, answered 
them with tender musical phrases. The whole stirred a 
vague feeling of uneasiness in my soul, a strange intoxi- 
cation crept gradually over me, and in this enchanting 
place the idol- worship of these passionate, poetical souls, 
sunk in dark ignorance, seemed more intelligible and 
less repulsive. A Hindu is a born mystic, and the 
luxuriant nature of his country has made of him a 
zealous pantheist. 

Sounds of alguja, a kind of Pandean pipe with seven 
openings, struck our attention; their music was wafted 
by the wind quite distinctly from somewhere in the 
wood. They also startled a whole family of monkeys 
in the branches of a tree over our heads. Two or three 
monkeys carefully slipped down, and looked round as 
if waiting for something. 

"What is this new Orpheus, to whose voice these 
monkeys answer?" asked I laughingly. 

"Some fakir probably. The alguja is generally used 
to invite the sacred monkeys to their meals. The com- 
munity of fakirs, who once inhabited this island, have 
removed to an old pagoda in the forest. Their new 
resting-place brings them more profit, because there are 
many passers by, whereas the island is perfectly isolated," 

*' Probably they were compelled to desert this dreadful 
place because they were threatened by chronic deafness," 

Miss X expressed her opinion. She could not help 

being out of temper at being prevented from enjoying 
her quiet slumber, our tents being right in the middle 
of the orchestra. 

*^A propos of Orpheus," asked the Takur, "do you 


know that the lyre of this Greek demigod was not 
the first to cast spells over people, animals and even 
rivers? Kui, a certain Chinese musical artist, as they 
are called, expresses something to this effect: 'When I 
play my kyyig the wild animals hasten to me, and range 
themselves into rows, spell-bound by my melody.' This 
Kui lived one thousand years before the supposed era of 

"What a funny coincidence!" exclaimed I. "Kui is 
the name of one of our best artists in St. Petersburg. 
Where did you read this?" 

"Oh, this is not a very rare piece of information. 
Some of your Western Orientalists have it in their 
books. But I personally found it in an ancient Sans- 
krit book, translated from the Chinese in the second 
century before your era. But the original is to be found 
in a very ancient work, named Th^ Preserver of the Five 
Chief Virtues. It is a kind of chronicle or treatise on 
the development of music in China. It was written by 
the order of Emperor Hoang-Tee many hundred years 
before your era." 

"Do you think, then, that the Chinese ever understood 
anything about music?" said the colonel, with an in- 
credulous smile. /*In California and other places I 
heard some travelling artists of the celestial empire. . . 
Well, I think, that kind of musical entertainment would 
drive any one mad." 

••That is exactly the opinion of many of your Western 
musicians on the subject of our ancient Aryan, as well 
as of modern Hindu, music. But, in the first instance, 
the idea of melody is perfectly arbitrary; and, in the 
second, there is a good deal of difference between the 
technical knowledge of music, and the creation of 
melodies fit to please the educated, as well as the un- 


educated, ear. According to technical theory, a musical 
piece may be perfect, but the melody, nevertheless, may 
be above the understanding of an untrained taste, or 
simply unpleasant. Your most renowned operas sound 
for us like a wild chaos, like a rush of strident, entangled 
sounds, in which ^ve do not see any meaning at all, and 
which give us headaches. I have visited the I^ondon 
and the Paris opera; I have heard Rossini and Meyer- 
beer; I was resolved to render myself an account of my 
impressions, and listened with the greatest attention. 
But I own I prefer the simplest of our native melodies 
to the productions of the best European composers. Our 
popular songs speak to me, whereas they fail to produce 
any emotion in you. But leaving the tunes and songs out 
of question, I can assure you that our ancestors, as well 
as the ancestors of the Chinese, were far from inferior to 
the modern Europeans, if not in technical instrumen- 
tation, at least in their abstract notions of music." 

*' The Aryan nations of antiquit}^ perhaps; but I hardly 
believe this in the case of the Turanian Chinese!" said 
our president doubtfully.' . 

"But the music of nature has been everywhere the 
first step to the music of art. This is a universal rule. 
But there are different ways of following it. Our musical 
system is the greatest art, if— pardon me this seeming 
paradox — avoiding all artificiality is art. We do not 
allow in our melodies any sounds that cannot be classi- 
fied amongst the living voices of nature; whereas the 
modern Chinese tendencies are quite different. The 
Chinese system comprises eight chief tones, which serve 
as a tuning-fork to all derivatives; which are accordingly 
classified under the names of their generators. These 
eight sounds are: the notes metal, stone, silk, bamboo, 
pumpkin, earthenware, leather and wood. So that they 


have metallic sounds, wooden sounds, silk sounds, and 
so on. Of course, under these conditions they cannot pro- 
duce any melody; their music consists of an entangled 
series of separate notes. Their imperial hymn, for in- 
stance, is a series of endless unisons. But we Hindus 
owe our music only to living nature, and in nowise to 
inanimate objects. In a higher sense of the word, we 
are pantheists, and so our music is, so to speak, pan- 
theistic; but, at the same time, it is highly scientific. 
Coming from the cradle of humanity, the Aryan races, 
who were the first to attain manhood, listened to the 
voice of nature, and concluded that melody as well as 
harmony are both contained in our great common 
mother. Nature has no false and no artificial notes; 
and man, the crown of creation, felt desirous of imitating 
her sounds. In their multiplicity, all these sounds — 
according to the opinion of some of your Western 
physicists — make only one tone, which we all can hear, 
if we know how to listen, in the eternal rustle of the 
foliage of big forests, in the murmur of water, in the roar 
of the storming ocean, anc\ eVen in the distant roll of 
a great city. This tone is the middle F, the funda- 
mental tone of nature. In our melodies it serves as the 
starting point, which we embody in the key-note, and 
around which are grouped all the other sounds. Having 
noticed that every musical note has its typical repre- 
sentative in the animal kingdom, our ancestors found 
out that the seven chief tones correspond to the cries of 
the goat, the peacock, the ox, the parrot, the frog, the 
tiger, and the elephant. So the octave was discovered 
and founded. As to its subdivisions and measure, they 
also found their basis in the complicated sounds of the 
same animals." 

'• I am no judge of 5^our ancient music," said the colonel. 


*'nor do I know whether your ancestors did, or did not, 
work out any musical theories, so I cannot contradict 
you; but I must own that, listening to the songs of the 
modern Hindus, I could not give them any credit for 
musical knowledge." 

"No doubt it is so, because you have never heard a 
professional singer. When you have visited Poona, and 
have listened to the Gay an Samaj, we shall resume our 
present conversation. The Gayan SamSj is a society 
whose aim is to restore the ancient national music." 

Gulab-Lal-Sing spoke in his usual calm voice, but the 
Babu was evidently burning to break forth for his coun- 
try's honour, and at the same time, he was afraid of 
offending his seniors by interrupting their conversation. 
At last he lost patience. 

"You are unjust, colonel ! " he exclaimed. "The music 
of the ancient Aryans is an antediluvian plant, no doubt, 
but nevertheless it is well worth studying, and deserves 
every consideration. This is perfectly proved now by a 
compatriot of mine, the Raja Surendronath Tagor. . . 
He is a Mus, Z>.. he has Ipts of decorations from all 
kinds of kings and emperors of Europe for his book 
about the music of Aryans. . . And, well, this man 
has proved, as clear as daylight, that ancient India has 
every right to be called the mother of music. Even the 
best musical critics of England say so! . . . Every 
school, whether Italian, German or Aryan, saw the light 
at a certain period, developed in a certain climate and 
in perfectly different circumstances. Every school has 
its characteristics, and its peculiar charm, at least for its 
followers ; and our school is no exception. You Europeans 
are trained in the melodies of the West, and acquainted 
with Western schools of music ; but our musical system, 
like many other things in India, is totally unknown to 


you. So you must forgive iny boldness, colonel, when I 
say that you have no right to judge! " 

*' Don't get so excited, Babu," said the Takur. "Ever>' 
one has the right, if not to discuss, then to ask questions 
about a new subject. Otherwise no one would ever get 
any information. If Hindu music belonged to an epoch 
.^K as little distant from us as the European — which you 
^seem to suggest, Babu, in your hot haste; and if, be- 
sides, it included all the virtues of all the previous 
musical systems, which the European music assimilates; 
then no doubt it would have been better understood, 
and better appreciated than it is. But our music be- 
longs to pre-historic times. In one of the sarcophagi at 
Thebes, Bruce found a harp with twenty strings, and, 
judging by this instrument, we may safely say that the 
ancient inhabitants of Egypt were w^ell acquainted with 
the mysteries of harmony. But, except the Egyptians, 
we were the only people possessing this art, in the 
remote epochs, when the rest of mankind were still 
struggling with the elements for bare existence. We 
possess hundreds of San'skrit -MSS. about music, which 
have never been translated, even into modern Indian 
dialects. Some of them are four thousand and eight 
thousand years old. Whatever your Orientalists may 
say to the contrary, we will persist in believing in their 
antiquity, because we have read and studied them, while 
the European scientists have never yet set their eyes on 
them. There are many of these musical treatises, and 
they have been written at different epochs ; but they all, 
without exception, show that in India music was known 
and systematized in times when the modern civilized 
nations of Europe still lived like savages. However 
true, all this does not give us the right to grow indig- 
nant when Europeans say they do not like our music, as 


long as their ears are not accustomed to it, and their 
minds cannot understand its spirit. . . To a certain 
extent we can explain to you its technical character, and 
give you a right idea of it as a science. But nobody can 
create in you, in a moment, what the Aryans used to call 
Rakti; the capacity of the human soul to receive and be 
moved by the combinations of the various sounds of 
nature. This capacity is the alpha and omega of our 
musical system, but you do not possess it, as we do not 
possess the possibility to fall into raptures over Bellini." 

*' But why should it be so? What are these mysterious 
virtues of your music, that can be understood only by 
yourselves ? Our skins are of different colours, but our 
organic mechanism is the same. In other words, the 
physiological combination of bones, blood, nerves, veins 
and muscles, which forms a Hindu, has as many parts, 
combined exactly after the same model as the living 
mechanism known under the name of an American, 
Englishman, or any other European. They come into 
the world from the same workshop of nature ; they have 
the same beginning and the. same end. From a physi- 
ological point of view we are duplicates of each other." 

"Physiologically yes. And it would be as true psy- 
chologically, if education did not interfere, which, after 
all is said and done, could not but influence the mental 
and the moral direction taken by a human being. Some- 
times it extinguishes the divine spark ; at other times it 
only increases it, transforming it into a lighthouse which 
becomes man's lode-star for life." 

"No doubt this is so. But the influence it has over 
the physiology of the ear cannot be so overpowering 
after all." 

"Quite the contrary. Only remember what a strong 
influence climatic conditions, food and everyday sur- 


roiindings have on the complexion, vitality, capacity for 
reproduction, and so on, and you will see that you are 
mistaken. Apply this same law of gradual modification 
to the purely psychic element in man, and the results 
will be the same. Change the education and you will 
change the capacities of a human being. . . . For 
instance, you believe in the powers of gymnastics, you 
believe that special exercise can almost transform the 
human body. We go one step higher. The experience 
of centuries shows that gymnastics exist for the soul as 
^vell as for the body. But what the soul's gymnastics 
-ire is our secret. What is it that gives to the sailor the 
sight of an eagle, that endows the acrobat with the skill 
of a monkey, and the wrestler with muscles of iron? 
Practice and habit. Then why should not we suppose 
the same possibilities in the soul of the man as well as 
in his body? Perhaps on the grounds of modern science 
— which either dispenses with thfe soul altogether, or 
does not acknowledge in it a life distinct from the life 
of the body. . ." 

"Please do not speak in thi^ way, Takur. You, at 
least, ought to know that I believe in the soul and in its 

"We believe in the immortality of spint, not of soul, 
following the triplvi division of body, soul and spirit. 
However, this has nothing to do with the present dis- 
cussion. . . And so you agree to the proposition that 
every dormant possibility of the soul may be led to 
perfected strength and activity by practice, and also 
that if not properly used it may grow numb and even 
disappear altogether. Nature is so zealous that all her 
^fts should be used properly, that it is in our power 
to develop or to kill in our descendants any physical 
or mental gift. A systematic training or a total dis- 



regard will accomplish both in the lifetime of a few 

"Perfectly true; but that does not explain to me the 
secret charm of your melodies. . . ." 

"These are details and particulars. Why should I 
dwell on them when you must see for yourself that my 
reasoning gives you the clue, which will solve many 
similar problems? Centuries have accustomed the ear 
of a Hindu to be receptive only of certain combinations 
of atmospheric vibrations; whereas the ear of a Euro- 
pean is used to perfectly different combinations. Hence 
the soul of the former will be enraptured where the soul 
of the latter will be perfectly indifferent. I hope my 
explanation has been simple and clear, and I might have 
ended it here were it not that I am anxious to give you 
something better than the feeling of satisfied curiosit}^ 
As yet I have solved only the physiological aspect of the 
secret, which is as easily admitted as the fact that we 
Hindus eat by the handful spices which would give you 
inflammation of the intestines if you happened to swallow 
a single grain. Our aur^l nerves, which, at the begin- 
ning, were identical with ' yours, have been changed 
through different training, and became as distinct from 
yours as our complexion and our stomachs. Add to 
this that the eyes of the Kashmir 'weavers, men and 
women, are able to distinguish three hundred shades more 
than the eye of a European. . . . The force of habit, 
the law of atavism, if you like. But things of this kind 
practically solve the apparent difficulty. You have come 
all the way from America to study the Hindus and their 
religion ; but you will never understand the latter if you 
do not realize how closely all our sciences are related, 
not to the modern ignorant Brahmanism, of course, but 
to the philosophy of our primitive Vedic religion." 


*'I see. You mean that your music has something to 
do with the Vedas?'' 

"Exactly. It has a good deal — almost everything — to 
do with the Vedas. All the sounds of nature, and, in 
consequence, of music, are directly allied to astronomy 
and mathematics ; that is to say, to the planets, the signs 
of the zodiac, the sun and moon, and to rotation and 
numbers. Above all, they depend on the Akdsha, the 
ether of space, of the existence of which your scientists 
have not made perfectly sure as yet. This was the 
teaching of the ancient Chinese and Egyptians, as well 
as of ancient Aryans. The doctrine of the 'music of 
the spheres* first saw the light here in India, and not in 
Greece or Ital}', whither it was brought by Pythagoras 
after he had studied under the Indian Gymnosophists. 
And most certainly this great philosopher — ^who revealed 
to the world the heliocentric system before Copernicus 
and Galileo — knew better than anyone else how de- 
pendent are the least sounds in nature on Akasha and 
its inter-relations. One of the four Vedas, namely, the 
Sdma- Veda, entirely consists of hymns. This is a col- 
lection of mantrams sung during the sacrifices to the 
gods, that is to say, to the elements. Our ancient 
priests were hardly acquainted with the modern methods 
of chemistry and piiysics; but, to make up for it, they 
knew a good deal which has not as yet been thought of 
by modern scientists. So it is not to be wondered at 
that, sometimes, our priests, so perfectly acquainted with 
natural sciences as they were, forced the elementary 
gods, or rather the blind forces of nature, to answer their 
prayers by various portents. Every sound of these 
mantrams has its meaning, its importance, and stands 
exactly where it ought to stand; and, having a ratson 
d'etre, it does not fail to produce its effect. Remember 



Professor I^eslie, who says that the science of sound is 
the most subtle, the most unseizable and the most com- 
plicated of all the series of physical sciences. And if 
ever this teaching was worked out to perfection it was 
in the times of the Rishis, our philosophers and saints, 
who left to us the Vedas^ 

"Now, I think I begin to understand the origin of 
all the mythological fables of the Greek antiquity," 
thoughtfully said the colonel; "the syrinx of Pan, 
his pipe of seven reeds, the fauns, the satyrs, and the 
lyre of Orpheus himself. The ancient Greeks knew 
little about harmony; and the rhythmical declamations 
of their dramas, which probably never reached the 
pathos of the simplest of modern recitals, could hardly 
suggest to them the idea of the magic lyre of Orpheus. 
I feel strongly inclined to believe what was WTitten by 
some of our great philologists: Orpheus must be an 
emigrant from India; his very name op<^09, or 6p<f>v6^, 
shows that, even amongst the tawny Greeks, he was 
remarkably dark. This was the opinion of Lempriere 
and others." 

•'Some day this opinion may become a certainty. 
There is not the slightest doubt that the purest and 
the highest of all the musical forms of antiquity belongs 
to India. All our legends ascrilDe magic powers to 
music; it is a gift and a science coming straight from 
the gods. As a rule, we ascribe all our arts to divine 
revelation, but music stands at the head of everything 
else. The invention of the vhtd, sl kind of lute, belongs 
to Narada, the son of Brahma. You will probably laugh 
at me if I tell you that our ancient priests, whose duty 
it was to sing during the sacrifices, were able to produce 
phenomena that could not but be considered by the 
ignorant as signs from supernatural powers; and this. 


remember, without a shadow of trickery, but simply 
with the help of their perfect knowledge of nature and 
certain combinations well known to them. The phe- 
nomena produced by the priests and the Raj -Yogis are 
perfectly natural for the initiate — however miraculous 
they may seem to the masses." 

**But do you really mean that you have no faith what- 
ever in the spirits of the dead?" timidly asked Miss 

X , who was always ill at ease in the presence of the 


"With your permission, I have none." 

"And . . . and have you no regard for mediums?" 

"Still less than for the spirits, my dear lady. I do 
believe in the existence of many psychic diseases, and, 
amongst their number, in mediumism, for which we 
have got a queer sounding name from time immemorial. 
We call it Bhuta-Ddk, literally a bhuta-hostelry. I 
sincerely pity the real mediums, and do whatever is in 
my power to help them. As to the charlatans, I despise 
them, . and never lose an opportunity of unmasking 
them." * ^ - 

The witch's den near the "dead city" suddenly 
flashed into my mind; the fat Brahman, who played 
the oracle in the head of the Sivatherium, caught and 
rolling down the hole'; the witch herself suddenly taking 
to her heels. And with this recollection also occurred 
I to me what I had never thought of before: Narayan 
had acted under the orders of the Takur — doing his 
best to expose the witch and her ally. 

"The unknown power which possesses the mediums 
(which the spiritualists believe to be spirits of the dead, 
while the superstitious see in it the devil, and the scep- 
tics deceit and infamous tricks), true men of science 
suspect to be a natural force, which has not as yet been 


discovered. It is, in reality, a terrible power. Those 
possessed by it are generally weak people, often women 
and children. Your beloved spiritualists, Miss X— — , 
only help the growth of dreadful psychic diseases, but 
people who know better seek to save them from this 
force you know nothing whatever about, and it is 
no use discussing this matter now. I shall only add 
/ one word : the real living spirit of a human being is as 
free as Brahma; and even more than this for us, for, 
according to our religion and our philosophy, our spirit 
is Brahma himself, higher than whom there is only the 
unknowable, the all-pervading, the omnipotent essence 
of Parabrahm. The living spirit of man cannot be 
ordered about like the spirits of the spiritualists, it 
cannot be made a slave of. . . . However, it is 
getting so late that we had better go to bed. Let us 
say good-bye for to-night." 

Gulab-Lal-Sing would not talk any more that night, 
but I have gathered from our previous conversations 
many a point without which the above conversation 
would remain obscure. 

The Vedantins and the followers of Shankaracharj'-a's 
philosophy, in talking of themselves, often avoid using 
the pronoun /, and say, "this body went," "this hand 
took," and so on, in everything concerning the auto- 
matic actions of man. The personal pronouns are only 
used concerning mental and moral processes, such as, 
"I thought," "he desired." The body in their eyes is 
not the man, but only a covering to the real man. 

The real interior man possesses many bodies; each of 
them more subtle and more pure than the preceding; 
and each of them bears a different name and is inde- 
pendent of the material body. After death, when the 


earthly vital principle disintegrates, together with the 
material body, all these interior bodies join together, and 
either advance on the way to Moksha, and are called 
Deva (divine), though it still has to pass many stadia 
before the final liberation, or is left on earth, to wander 
and to suffer in the invisible world, and, in this case, is 
called bhuta. But a Deva has no tangible intercourse 
with the living. Its only link with the earth is its 
posthumous affection for those it loved in its lifetime, 
and the power of protecting and influencing them. Love 
outlives every earthly feeling, and a Deva can appear to 
the beloved ones only in their dreams — unless it be as 
an illusion, which cannot last, because the body of a 
Deva undergoes a series of gradual changes from the 
moment it is freed from its earthly bonds; and, with 
every change, it grows more intangible, losing every 
time something of its objective nature. It is reborn; it 
lives and dies in new Lokas or spheres, which gradually 
become purer and more subjective. At last, having got 
rid of every shadow of earthly thoughts and desires, it 
becomes nothiftg from a n'laterial point of view. It is 
extinguished like a flame, and, having become one with 
Parabrahm, it lives the life of spirit, of which neither 
our material conception nor our language can give any 
idea. But the eternity of Parabrahm is not the eternity 
of the soul. The latter, according to a Vedanta expres- 
sion, is an eternity in eternity. However holy, the life 
of a soul had its beginning and its end, and, conse- 
quently, no sins and no good actions can be punished or 
rewarded in the eternity of Parabrahm. This would be 
contrary to justice, disproportio7iate, to use an expression 
of Vedanta philosophy. Spirit alone lives in eternity, 
and has neither beginning nor end, neither limits nor 
central point. The Deva lives in Parabrahm, as a drop 


lives in the ocean, till the next regeneration of the uni- 
verse from Pralaya; a periodical chaos, a disappearance 
of the worlds from the region of objectivity. With every 
new Maha-yuga (great cycle) the Deva separates from 
that which is eternal, attracted by existence in objective 
worlds, like a drop of water first drawn up by the sun, 
then starting again downwards, passing from one region 
to another, and returning at last to the dirt of our planet. 
Then, having dwelt there whilst a small cycle lasted, it 
proceeds again upwards on the other side of the circle. 
So it gravitates in the eternity of Parabrahm, passing 
from one minor eternity to another. Each of these 
*' human," that is to say conceivable, eternities consists 
of 4,320,000,000 years of objective life and of as many 
years of subjective life in Parabrahm, altogether 
8,640,000,000 years, which are enough, in the eyes of 
the Vedantins, to redeem any mortal sin, and also to 
reap the fruit of any good actions performed in such a 
short period as human life. The individuality of the 
soul, teaches the Vedanta, is not lost when plunged in 
Parabrahm. as is supposed by some of the European 

Only the souls of bhutas — ^when the last spark of 
repentance and of tendency to improvement are extin- 
guished in them — ^will evaporate for ever. Then their 
divine spirit, the undying part of them, separates from 
the soul and returns to its primitive source ; the soul is 
reduced to its primordial atoms, and the monad plunges 
into the darkness of eternal unconsciousness. This is 
the only case of total destruction of personality. 

Such is the Vedanta teaching concerning the spiritual 
man. And this is why no true Hindu believes in the 
disembodied souls voluntarily returning to earth, except 
in the case of bhutas. 


I^AviNG Malva and Indore, the quasi-independent 
country of Holkar, we found ourselves once more on 
strictly British territory. We were going to Jubblepore 
by railway. 

This town is situated in the district of Saugor and 
Nerbudda ; once it belonged to the Mahrattis, but, in 
1817, the English army took possession of it. We 
stopped in the town only for a short time, being anxious 
to see the celebrated Marble Rocks. As it would have 
been a pity to lose a whole day, we hired a boat and 
started at 2 a.m., which gave us the double advantage of 
avoiding the heat, and enjoying a splendid bit of the 
river ten miles from the town. 

The neighbourhood of Jubblepore is charming; and 
besides, both a geologist* and a mineralogist would find 
here the richest field for scientific researches. The 
geological formation of the rocks offers an infinite 
variety of granites; and the long chains of mountains 
might keep a hundred of Cuviers busy for life. The 
limestone caves of Jubblepore are a true ossuary of 
antediluvian India; they are full of skeletons of mon- 
strous animals, now disappeared for ever. 

At a considerable distance from the rest of the moun- 
tain ridges, and perfectly separate, stand the Marble 
Rocks, a most wonderful natural phenomenon, not verj- 
rare, though, in India. On the flattish banks of the 
Nerbudda, overgrown with thick bushes, you suddenl}^ 
perceive a long row of strangely-shaped white cliffs. 


They are there without any apparent reason, as if they 
were a wart on the smooth cheek of mother nature. 
White and pure, they are heaped up on each other as if 
after some plan, and look exactly like a huge paper- 
weight from the writing-table of a Titan. We saw them 
when we were half-way from the town. They appeared 
and disappeared with the sudden capricious turnings of 
the river; trembling in the early morning mist like a 
distant, deceitful mirage of the desert. Then we lost 
sight of them altogether. But just before sunrise they 
stood out once more before our charmed eyes, floating 
above their reflected image in the water. As if called 
forth by the wand of a sorcerer, they stood there on the 
green bank of the Nerbudda, mirroring their virgin 
beauty on the calm surface of the lazy stream, and 
promising us a cool and welcome shelter. . . And 
as to the preciousness ^of every moment of the cool hours 
before sunrise, it can be appreciated only by those who 
have lived and travelled in this fiery land. 

Alas! in spite of all our precautions, and our unusually 
early start, our enjoymenS: qf {his cool retreat was very 
short-lived. Our project was to have prosaic tea amid 
these poetic surroundings; but as soon as we landed, 
the sun leaped above the horizon, and began shooting 
liis fiery arrows at the boat, and at our unfortunate heads. 
Persecuting us from one place to another, he banished 
us, at last, even from under a huge rock hanging over 
the water. There was literally no place where we could 
seek salvation. The snow-white marble beauties became 
golden red, pouring fire-sparks into the river, heating 
the sand and blinding our eyes. 

No wonder that legend supposes in them something 
between the abode and the incarnation of Kali, the 
fiercest of all the goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. 



^KFor many Yugas this goddess has been engaged in a 
^^ desperate contest with her lawful husband Shiva, who, 
in his shape of Trikutishvara, a three-headed lingam, 
has dishonestly claimed the rocks and the river for his 
own — the very rocks and the very river over which 
Kali presides in person. And this is why people hear 
dreadful moaning, coming from under the ground, every 
time that the hand of an irresponsible coolie, working 
by Government orders in Government quarries, breaks 
a stone from the white bosom of the goddess. The 
unhappy stone-breaker hears the cry and trembles, and 
his heart is torn between the expectations of a dreadful 
punishment from the bloodthirsty goddess and the fear 
of his implacably exacting inspector in case he disobeys 
his orders. 

Kali is the owner of the Marble Rocks, but she is the 
patroness of the ex-Thugs as \Ajell. Many a lonely 
traveller has shuddered on hearing this name; many 
a bloodless sacrifice has been offered on the marble 
altat of Kali. The country is full of horrible tales 
about the achievements of jthe Thugs, accomplished in 
the honour of this goddess. These tales are too recent 
and too fresh in the popular memory to become as yet 
mere highly- coloured legends. They are mostly true, 
and many of them are proved by official documents of 
the law courts and inquest commissions. 

If England ever leaves India, the perfect suppression 
of Thugism will be one of the good memories that 
will linger in the country long after her departure. 
Under this name was practised in India during two 
long centuries the craftiest and the worst kind of homi- 
cide. Only after 1840 was it discovered that its aim 
was simply robbery and brigandage. The falsely inter- 
preted symbolical meaning of Kali was nothing but a 


pretext, otherwise there would not have been so many 
Mussulmans amongst her devotees. When they were 
caught at last, and had to answer before justice, most 
of these knights of the rumdl — the handkerchief with 
which the operation of strangling was performed — 
proved to be Mussulmans. The most illustrious of their 
leaders were not Hindus, but followers of the Prophet, 
the celebrated Ahmed, for instance. Out of thirty- 
seven Thugs caught by the police there were twenty- 
two Mahometans. This proves perfectly clearly that 
their religion, having nothing in common with the 
Hindu gods, had nothing to do with their cruel pro- 
fession ; the reason and cause was robbery. 

It is true though that the final initiation rite was 
performed in some deserted forest before an idol of 
Bhavani, or Kali, wearing a necklace of human skulls. 
Before this final initiation the candidates had to undergo 
a course of schooling, the most difficult part of which 
was a certain trick of throwing the rumal on the neck 
of the unsuspecting victim and strangling him, so that 
death might be instantantous. ' In the initiation the part 
of the goddess was made manifest in the use of certain 
symbols, which are in common use amongst the Free- 
masons — for instance, an unsheathed dagger, a human 
skull, and the corpse of Hiram- Abifi; **son of the 
widow," brought back to life by the Grand Master of 
the lodge. Kali was nothing but the pretext for an 
imposing scenarium. Freemasonry and Thugism had 
many points of resemblance. The members of both 
recognized each other by certain signs, both had a pass- 
word and a jargon that no outsider could understand. 
The Freemason lodges receive among their members 
both Christians and Atheists; the Thugs used to receive 
the thieves and robbers of every nation without any 


distinction ; and it is reported that amongst them there 
were some Portuguese and even Englishmen. The 
difference between the two is that the Thugs certainly 
were a criminal organization, whereas the Freemasons 
of our days do no harm, except to their own pockets. 

Poor Shiva, wretched Bhavani ! What a mean inter- 
pretation popular ignorance has invented for these two 
poetical types, so deeply philosophical and so full of 
knowledge of the laws of nature. Shiva, in his primi- 
tive meaning is "Happy God"; then the all-destroying, 
as well as the all-regenerating force of nature. The 
Hindu trinity is, amongst other things, an allegorical 
representation of the three chief elements: fire, earth 
and water. BrahmS, Vishnu and Shiva all represent 
these elements by turns, in their different phases; but 
Shiva is much more the god of the fire than either 
BrahmS or Vishnu: he burns and purifies; at the same 
time creating out of the ashes new forms, full of fresh 
life. Shiva-Sankarin is the destroyer or rather the 
scatterer; Shiva- Rakshaka is the preserver, the regene- 
rator. He is representjed with flames on his left palm, 
and with the wand of deatli and resurrection in his right 
hand. His worshippers wear on their foreheads his sign 
traced with wet ashes, the ashes being called vibhiUi, or 
purified substance, and the sign consisting of three 
horizontal parallel lines between the eyebrows. The 
colour of Shiva's skin is rosy-yellow, gradually changing 
into a flaming red. His neck, head and arms are covered 
with snakes, emblems of eternity and eternal regenera- 
tion. "As a serpent, abandoning his old slough, re- 
appears in new skin, so man after death reappears in 
a younger and a purer body," say the Purdnas. 

In her turn, Shiva's wife Kali is the allegory of earth, 
fructified by the flames of the sun. Her educated wor- 


shippers say they allow themselves to believe their 
goddess is fond of human sacrifices, only on the strength 
of the fact that earth is fond of organical decomposition, 
which fertilizes her, and helps her to call forth new 
forces from the ashes of the dead. The Shivaites, when 
burning their dead, put an idol of Shiva at the head of 
the corpse ; but when beginning to scatter the ashes in 
the elements, they invoke Bhavani, in order that the 
goddess may receive the purified remains, and develop 
in them germs of new life. But what truth could bear 
the coarse touch of superstitious ignorance without 
being disfigured ! 

The murdering Thugs laid their hands on this great 
philosophic emblem, and, having understood that the 
goddess loves human sacrifice, but hates useless blood- 
shed, they resolved to please her doubly: to kill, but 
never to soil their hands by the blood of their victims. 
The result of it was the knighthood of the rumal. 

One day we visited a very aged ex-Thug. In his 
young days he was transported to the Andaman Islands, 
but, owing to his sincere repentance, and to some services 
he had rendered to the Government, he was afterwards 
pardoned. Having returned to his native village, he 
settled down to earn his living by weaving ropes, a pro- 
fession probably suggested to him by some sweet remini- 
scences of the achievements of his youth. He initiated 
us first into the mysteries of theoretic Thugism, and 
then extended his hospitality by a ready offer to show 
us the practical side of it, if we agreed to pay for a sheep. 
He said he would gladly show us how easy it was to send 
a living being ad patres in less than three seconds; the 
whole secret consisting in some skilful and swift move- 
ments of the right-hand finger joints. 

We refused to buy the sheep for this old brigand, but 


we gave him some money. To show his gratitude he 
offered to demonstrate all the preliminary sensation of 
the rumal on any English or American neck that was 
willing. Of course, he said he would omit the final 
twist. But still none of us were willing; and the grati- 
tude of the repentant criminal found issue in great 

The owl is sacred to Bhavani Kali, and as soon as a 
band of Thugs, awaiting their victims, had been signalled 
by the conventional hooting, each of the travellers, let 
them be twenty and more, had a Thug behind his 
shoulders. One second more, and the rumal was on 
the neck of the victim, the well-trained iron fingers of 
the Thug tightly holding the ends of the sacred hand- 
kerchief; another second, the joints of the fingers per- 
formed their artistic twist, pressing the larynx, and the 
victim fell down lifeless. Not^a sound, not a shriek! 
The Thugs worked as swiftly as lightning. The 
strangled man was immediately carried to a grave pre- 
pared in some thick forest, usually under the bed of some 
brook or rivulet in their, periodical state of drought. 
Every vestige of the victim disappeared. Wlio cared to 
know about him, except his own family and his very 
intimate friends ?, The inquests were especiallj^ difficult, 
if not impossible, thirty years ago [1879], when there 
were no regular railway communications, and no regular 
Government system. Besides, the country is full of 
tigers, whose sad fate it is to be responsible for every 
one else's sins as well as for their own. Whoever it 
was who happened to disappear, be it Hindu or Mussul- 
man, the answer was invariably the same : tigers ! 

The Thugs possessed a wonderfully good organization. 
Trained accomplices used to tramp all over India, 
stopping at the bazaars, those true clubs of Eastern 


nations, gathering information, scaring their listeners 
to death with tales of the Thugs, and then advising 
them to join this or that travelling party, who of course 
were Thugs playing the part of rich merchants or pil- 
grims. Having ensnared these wretches, they sent 
word to the Thugs, and got paid for the commission 
in proportion to the total profit. 

During many long years these invisible bands, scat- 
tered all over the country, and working in parties of 
from ten to sixty men, enjoyed perfect freedom, but 
at last they were caught. The inquiries unveiled 
horrid and repulsive secrets: rich bankers, officiating 
Brahmans, Rajas on the brink of poverty, and a few 
English officials, all had to be brought before justice. 

This deed of the East India Company truly deserves 
the popular gratitude which it receives. 

On our way back from the Marble Rocks we saw 
Muddun-Mahal, another mysterious curio; it is a house 
built — no one knows by whom, or with what purpose 
— on a huge boulder. This" stone is probably some kind 
of relative to the cromlechs of the Celtic Druids. It 
shakes at the least touch, together with the house and 
the people who feel curious to see insi^de it. Of course 
we had this curiosity, and our noses remained safe only 
thanks to the Babu, Narayan and the Takur, who took, 
as great care of us as if they had been nurses, and we 
their babies. 

Natives of India are truly a wonderful people. How- 
ever unsteady the thing may be, they are sure to walk 
on it, and sit on it, with the greatest comfort. They 
think nothing of sitting whole hours on the top of a post 
— maybe a little thicker than an ordinar>^ telegraph post. 
They also feel perfectly safe with their toes twisted 


round a thin branch and their bodies resting on nothing, 
as if they were crows perched on a telegraph wire. 

"Salam, sahib!" said I once to an ancient, naked 
Hindu of a low caste, seated in the above described 
fashion. "Are you comfortable, uncle? And are you 
not afraid of falling down?" 

"Why should I fall?" seriously answered the "uncle," 
expectorating a red fountain — an unavoidable result of 
betel-chewing. "I do not breathe, mam-sahib!" 

"What do you mean? A man cannot do without 
breathing!" exclaimed I, a good deal astonished by this 
wonderful bit of information. 

"Oh yes, he can. I do not breathe just now, and so I 
am perfectly safe. But soon I shall have to fill up my 
breast again with fresh air, and then I will hold on to 
the post, otherwise I should fall." 

After this astounding physiological information, we 
parted. He would not talk any more, evidently fearing 
to endanger his comfort. At that time, we did not receive 
any more explanations on the subject, but this incident 
was enough to disturb tie scientific equanimity of our 

Till then, we were so naive as to fancy that only 
sturgeons and similar aquatic acrobats were clever 
enough to learn how to fill up their insides with air in 
order to become lighter, and to rise to the surface of the 
water. What is possible to a sturgeon is impossible to 
man, speculated we in our ignorance. So we agreed to 
look upon the revelation of the above described "uncle" 
in the light of a brag, having no other aim but to chafif 
the "white sahibs." In those days, we were still inex- 
perienced, and inclined to resent this kind of informa- 
tion, as coming very near to mockery. But, later on, 
we learned that his description of the process necessary 


to keep up this bird like posture was perfectly accurate. 
In Jubblepore we saw much greater wonders. Strol- 
ling along the river bank, we reached the so-called 
Fakirs' Avenue; and the Takur invited us to visit the 
courtyard of the pagoda. This is a sacred place, and 
neither Europeans nor Mussulmans are admitted inside. 
But Gulab-Sing said something to the chief Brahman, 
and we entered without hindrance. 

The yard was full of devotees, and of ascetics. But 
our attention was especially attracted by three ancient, 
perfectly naked fakirs. As wrinkled as baked mush- 
rooms, as thin as skeletons, crowned with twisted 
masses of white hair, they sat or rather stood in the 
most impossible postures, as we thought. One of them, 
literally leaning only on the palm of his right hand, was 
poised with his head downwards and his legs upwards ; 
his body was as motionless as if he were the dry branch 
of a tree. Just a little above the ground his head rose 
in the most unnatural position, and his eyes were fixed 
on the glaring sun. I cannot guarantee the truthfulness 
of some talkative inhabitants of the town, who had 
joined our party, and who assured us that this fakir 
daily spends in this posture all the hours between noon 
and the sunset. But I can guarantee that not a muscle 
of his body moved during the hour and twenty minutes 
we spent amongst the fakirs. 

Another fakir stood on a "sacred stone of Shiva," a 
small stone about five inches in diameter. One of his 
legs was curled up under him, and the whole of his 
body was bent backwards into an arc; his eyes also 
were fixed on the sun. The palms of his hands were 
pressed together as if in prayer. He seemed glued to 
his stone. We were at a loss to imagine by what means 
this man came to be master of such equilibration. 


The third of these wonderful people sat crossing his 
legs under him ; but how he could sit was more than we 
could understand, because the thing on which he sat 
was a stone lingam, not higher than an ordinar\' street 
post and little wider than the "stone of Shiva/' that is 
to say, hardly more than five or seven inches in diameter. 
His arms were crossed behind his back, and his nails 
had grown into the flesh of his shoulders. 

"This one never changes his position," said one of 
our companions. "At least, he has not changed for the 
last seven years.** 

His usual food, or rather drink, is milk, which is 
brought to him once in every forty-eight hours and 
poured into his throat with the aid of a bamboo. Every 
ascetic has willing servants, who are also future fakirs, 
whose duty it is to attend on them ; and so the disciples 
of this living mummy take him off his pedestal, wash 
him in the tank, and put him back like an inanimate 
r object, because he can no longer stretch his limbs. 

"And what if I were to push one of these fakirs?" 
asked I. "I daresay the least touch would upset them.** 

"Try!" laughingly advised the Takur. "In this state 
of religious trance it is easier to break a man to pieces 
than to remove him from his place." 

To touch an ascetic in the state of trance is a sacri- 
lege in the eyes of the Hindus; but evidently the Takur 
was well aware that, under certain circumstances, there 
may be exceptions to every Brahmanical rule. He had 
another aside with the chief Brahman, who followed us, 
darker than a thunder-cloud; the consultation did not 
last long, and after it was over Gulab-Sing declared to 
^ us that none of us was allowed to touch the fakirs, but 
that he personally had obtained this permission, and so 
was going to show us something still more astonishing. 



He approached the fakir on the little stone, and, care- 
fully holding him by his protruding ribs, he lifted him 
and put him on the ground. The ascetic remained as 
statuesque as before. Then Gulab-Sing took the stone 
in his hands and showed it to us, asking us, however, 
not to touch it for fear of offending the crowd. The 
stone was round, flattish, with rather an uneven surface. 
When laid on the ground it shook at the least touch. 

"Now, you see that this pedestal is far from being 
steady. And also you have seen that, under the weight 
of the fakir, it is as immovable as if it were planted in 
the ground." 

When the fakir was put back on the stone, he and it 
at once resumed their appearance, as of one single body, 
solidly joined to the ground, and not a line of the fakir's 
body had changed. By all appearance, his bending body 
and his head thrown backward sought to bring him down ; 
but for this fakir there was evidently no such thing as 
the law of gravity. 

What I have described is a fact, but I do not take 
upon myself to explain it. . At the gates of the pagoda 
we found our shoes, which we had been told to take off 
before going in. We put them on again, and left this 
"holy of holies" of the secular mysteries, with our 
minds still more perplexed than before. In the Fakirs' 
Avenue we found Narayan, Mulji and the Babu, who 
were waiting for us. The chief Brahman would not 
hear of their entering the pagoda. All the three had 
long before released themselves from the iron claws of 
caste ; they openly ate and drank with us, and for this 
offence they were regarded as excommunicated, and 
despised by their compatriots much more than the 
Europeans themselves. Their presence in the pagoda 
would have polluted it for ever, whereas the pollution 


brought by us was only temporary; it would evaporate 
in the smoke of cow-dung — the usual Brahmanical in- 
cense of purification — liJie a drop of muddy water ia 
the rays of the sun. 

India is the country for originalities and everything 
unexpected and unconventional. From the point of 
view of an ordinary European observer every feature 
of Indian life is contrarj' to what could be expected. 
Shaking the head from one shoulder to another means 
no in every other countr}^ but in India it means an 
emphatic yes. If you ask a Hindu how his wife is, 
even if you are well acquainted with her, or how many 
children he has, or whether he has any sisters, he will 
feel oifended in nine cases out of ten. So long as the 
host does not point to the door, having previously 
sprinkled the guest with rose-water, the latter would 
not think of leaving. He wou^d stay the whole day 
without tasting any food, and lose his time, rather than 
offend his host by an unauthorized departure. Every- 
thing contradicts our Western ideas. The Hindus are 
strange and original, but ^their religion is still more 
original. It has its dark points, of course. The rites 
of some sects are truly repulsive; the officiating Brah- 
mans are far from, being without reproach. But these 
are only superficialities. In spite of them the Hindu 
religion possesses something so deeply and mysteriously 
irresistible that it attracts and subdues even unimagina- 
tive Englishmen. 

The following incident is a curious instance of this 
fascination : 

N. C. Paul, G.B.M.C., wrote a small, but very in- 
teresting and very scientific pamphlet. He was only a 
regimental surgeon in Benares, but his name was well 
known amongst his compatriots as a very learned 


specialist in physiology. The pamphlet was called A 
Treatise on the Yoga Philosophy^ and produced a sensa- 
tion amongst the representatives of medicine in India, 
and a lively polemic between the Anglo-Indian and 
native journalists. Dr. Paul spent thirty-five years in 
studying the extraordinary facts of Yogism, the exist- 
ence of which was, for him, beyond all doubt. He not 
only described them, but explained some of the most 
extraordinary phenomena,^ for instance, levitation^ the 
seeming evidence to the contrary of some laws of nature, 
notwithstanding. With perfect sincerity, and evident 
regret. Dr. Paul says he could never learn anything 
from the Raj -Yogis. His experience was almost wholly 
limited to the facts that fakirs and Hatha- Yogis would 
consent to give him. It was his great friendship with 
Captain Seymour chiefly which helped him to penetrate 
some mysteries, whicji, till then, were supposed to be 

The history of this English gentleman is truly in- 
credible, and produced, about twenty-five years ago, an 
unprecedented scandal in the records of the British 
army in India. Captain Seymour, a wealthy and well- 
educated officer, accepted the Brahmanical creed and 
became a Yogi. Of course he was pi^claimed mad, and, 
having been caught, was sent back to England. Sey- 
mour escaped, and returned to India in the dress of a 
Sannyasi. He was caught again, and shut up in some 
lunatic asylum in London. Three days after, in spite of 
the bolts and the watchmen, he disappeared from the 
establishment. Later on his acquaintances saw him in 
Benares, and the governor-general received a letter from 
him from the Himalayas. In this letter he declared that 
he never was mad, in spite of his being put into a 
hospital; he advised the governor-general not to inter- 


fere with what was strictly his own private concern, and 
announced his firm resolve never to return to civilized 
society. "I am a Yogi," wrote he, "and I hope to ob- 
tain before I die what is the aim of my life — to become 
a Raj-Yogi." After this letter he was left alone, and no 
European ever saw him except Dr. Paul, who, as it is 
reported, was in constant correspondence with him, and 
even went twice to see him in the Himalayas under the 
pretext of botanic excursions. 

I was told that the pamphlet of Dr. Paul was ordered 
to be burned "as being offensive to the science of physi- 
ology and pathology." At the time I visited India copies 
of it were very great rarities. Out of a few copies still 
esLtant, one is to be found in the library of the Maharaja 
of Benares, and another was given to me by the Takur. 

This evening we dined at the refreshment rooms of the 
railway station. Our arrival caifsed an evident sensa- 
tion. Our party occupied the whole end of a table, at 
which were dining many first-class passengers, who all 
stared at us with undisguised a,stonishment. Europeans 
on an equal footing with Hindus! Hindus who con- 
descended to dine with Europeans! These two were 
rare and wonderful sights indeed. The subdued whis- 
pers grew into loii'd exclamations. Two officers who 
happened to know the Takur took him aside, and, 
having shaken hands with him, began a very animated 
conversation, as if discussing some matter of business ; 
but, as we learned afterwards, they simply wanted to 
gratify their curiosity about us. 

Here we learned, for the first time, that we were 
under police supervision, the police being represented 
-by an individual clad in a suit of white clothes, and 
possessing a very fresh complexion, and a pair of long 
moustaches. He was an agent of the secret police, and 



had followed us from Bombay. On learning this flatter- 
ing piece of news, the colonel burst into a loud laugh ; 
which only made us still more suspicious in the eyes of 
all these Anglo-Indians, enjoying a quiet and dignified 
meal. As to me, I was very disagreeably impressed by 
this bit of news, I must confess, and wished this un- 
pleasant dinner was over. 

The train for Allahabad was to leave at eight p.m., 
and we were to spend the night in the railway carriage. 
We had ten reserved seats in a first-class carriage, and 
had made sure that no strange passengers would enter 
it, but, nevertheless, there were many reasons which 
made me think I could not sleep this night. So I ob- 
tained a provision of candles for my reading lamp, and 
making myself comfortable on my couch, began reading 
the pamphlet of Dr. Paul, which interested me greatly. 

Amongst many other interesting things. Dr. Paul 
explains very fully and learnedly the mystery of the 
periodical suspension of breathing, and some other 
seemingly impossible phenamena, practised by the 

Here is his theory in brief. The Yogis have discovered 
the reason of the wondrous capacity of the chameleon to 
assume the appearance of plumpness hi of leanness. This 
animal looks enormous when his lungs are filled with 
air, but in his normal condition he is quite insignificant. 
Many other reptiles as well acquire the possibility of 
swimming across large rivers quite easily by the same 
process. And the air that remains in their lungs, after 
the blood has been fully oxygenated, makes them ex- 
traordinarily lively on dry land and in the water. The 
capacity of storing up an extraordinary provision of 
air is a characteristic feature of all the animals that are 
subjected to hibernation. 


The Hindu Yogis studied this capacity, and perfected 
and developed it in themselves. 

The means by which they acquire it — known under 
the name of Bhastrika Kumbhaka — consist of the follow- 
ing: The Yogi isolates himself in an underground cave, 
where the atmosphere is more uniform and more damp 
than on the surface of the earth : this causes the appe- 
tite to grow less. Man's appetite is proportionate to the 
quantity of carbonic acid he exhales in a certain period 
of time. The Yogis never use salt, and live entirely on 
milk, which they take only during the night. They 
move very slowly in order not to breathe too often. 
Movement increases the exhaled carbonic acid, and so 
the Yoga practice prescribes avoidance of movement. 
The quantity of exhaled carbonic acid is also increased 
by loud and lively talking: so the Yogis are taught to 
talk slowly and in subdued tones; and are even advised 
to take the vows of silence. Physical labour is pro- 
pitious to the increase of carbonic acid, and mental to 
its decrease; accordingly the Yogi spends his life in 
contemplation and deep meditation. Padmdsana and 
Siddhasana are the two methods by which a person is 
taught to breathe as little as possible. 

Suka-Devi, a welt-known miracle-monger of the second 
century B.C. says: 

"Place the left foot upon the right thigh, and the 
right foot upon the left thigh ; straighten the neck and 
back; make the palms of the hands resf upon the 
knees; shut the mouth; and expire forcibly through both 
nostrils. Next, inspire and expire quickly until you 
are fatigued. Then inspire through the right nostril, 
fill the abdomen with the inspired air, suspend the 
breath, and fix the sight on the tip of the nose. Then 
expire through the left nostril, and next, inspiring 


through the left nostril, suspend the breath . . , ." 
and so on. 

''When a Yogi, by practice, is enabled to maintain 
himself in one of the above-mentioned postures for the 
period of three hours, and to live upon a quantity of 
food proportional to the reduced condition of circulation 
and respiration, without inconvenience, he proceeds to 
the practice of Pranayama," writes Dr. Paul. "It is the 
fourth stage or division of Yoga." 

The Prandyai7ia consists of three parts. The first 
excites the secretion of sweat, the second is attended by 
convulsive movements of the features, the third gives 
to the Yogi a feeling of extraordinary lightness in his 

After this, the Yogi practises Pratydhdray a kind of 
voluntary trance, which is recognizable by the full 
suspension of all the senses. After this stage the Yogis 
study the process of Dhdrand; this not only stops the 
activity of physical senses, but also causes the mental 
capacities to be plunged «into a deep torpor. This stage 
brings abundant suffering; 'it requires a good deal of 
firmness and resolution on the part of a Yogi, but it 
leads him to Dhydnay a state of perfect, indescribable 
bliss. According to their own description, in this state 
they swim in the ocean of eternal light, in Akasha, or 
Ana7ita Jyotiy which they call the "Soul of the Universe." 
Reaching the stage of Dhyana, the Yogi becomes a seer. 
The Dhyana of the Yogis is the same thing as Turiya 
Avasthd of the Vedantins, in the number of whom are 
the Raj -Yogis. 

"Samadhi is the last stage of self-trance," saj^s Dr. 
Paul. "In this state the Yogis, like the bat, the hedge- 
hog, the marmot, the hamster and the dormouse, acquire 
the power of supporting the abstraction of atmospheric 


air, and the privation of food and drink. Of Samadhi or 
human hibernation there have been three cases within 
the last twenty-five years. The first case occurred in 
Calcutta, the second in Jesselmere, and the third in the 
Punjab. I was an eye-witness of the first case. The 
Jesselmere, the Punjab, and the Calcutta Yogis assumed 
a death-like condition by swallowing the tongue. . . 
How the Punjabi fakir (witnessed by Dr. McGregor), by 
suspending his breath, lived forty days without food and 
drink, is a question which has puzzled a great many 
learned men of Europe. . . It is on the principle of 
Laghima and Garimd (a diminution of one's specific 
gra^jity by swallowing large draughts of air) that the 
Brahman of Madras maintained himself in an aerial 
posture. . . ." 

However, all these are physical phenomena produced 
by Hatha- Yogis. Each of then; ought to be investi- 
gated by physical science, but they are much less 
interesting than the phenomena of the region of psycho- 
logy. But Dr. Paul has next to nothing to say on this 
subject. During the thirty-fiVe years of his Indian 
career, he met only three Raj -Yogis; but in spite of the 
friendliness they showed to the English doctor, none 
of them consented-, to initiate him into the mysteries of 
nature, a knowledge of which is ascribed to them. One 
of them simply denied that he had any power at all ; the 
other did not deny, and even showed Dr. Paul some very- 
wonderful things, but refused to give any explanations 
whatever; the third said he would explain a few things 
on the condition that Dr. Paul must pledge himself never 
to repeat anything he learned from him. In acquiring 
this kind of information. Dr. Paul had only one aim — to 
give these secrets publicity, and to enlighten the public 
ignorance, and so he declined the honour. 


However, the gifts of the true Raj -Yogis are much 
more interesting, and a great deal more important for 
the world, than the phenomena of the lay Hatha- Yogis. 
These gifts are purely psychic : to the knowledge of the 
Hatha- Yogis the Raj -Yogis add the whole scale of mental 
phenomena. Sacred books ascribe to them the following 
gifts : foreseeing future events ; understanding of all lan- 
guages; the healing of all diseases; the art of reading 
other people's thoughts; witnessing at will everything 
that happens thousands of miles from them ; understand- 
ing the language of animals and birds; Prakamyay or 
the power of keeping up youthful appearance during in- 
credible periods of time ; the power of abandoning Jheir 
own bodies and entering other people's frames; Vashitvay 
or the gift to kill, and to tame w^ild animals with their 
eyes; and, lastly, the mesmeric power to subjugate any 
one, and to force any one to obey the unexpressed orders 
of the RSj-Yogi. 

Dr. Paul has witnessed the few phenomena of Hatha- 
Yoga already described ; there are many others about 
which he has heard, and* which he neither believes nor 
disbelieves. But he guarantees that a Yogi can suspend 
his breath for forty-three minutes and twelve seconds. 

Nevertheless, European scientific '\uthorities maintain 
that no one can suspend the breath for more than two 
minutes. O science! Is it possible then that thy name 
is also vanitas vanitatu7?i, like the other things of this 

We are forced to suppose that, in Europe, nothing is 
known about the means which enabled the philosophers 
of India, from times immemorial, gradually to transform 
their human frames. 

Here are a few deep words of Professor Boutleroff, a 
Russian scientist whom I, in common with all Russians, 


greatly respect: "... All this belongs to knowledge; 
the increase of the mass of knowledge will only enrich 
and not abolish science. This must be accomplished on 
the strength of serious observation, of study, of experi- 
ence, and under the guidance of positive scientific 
methods, by which people are taught to acknowledge 
every other phenomenon of nature. We do not call you 
blindly to accept hypotheses, after the example of bygone 
years, but to seek after knowledge; we do not invite you 
to give up science, but to enlarge her regions. . ." 

This was said about spiritualist phenomena. As to 
the rest of our learned physiologists, this is, approxi- 
mately, what they have the right to say: ** We know well 
certain phenomena of nature which we have personally 
studied and investigated, under certain conditions, which 
we call normal or abnormal, and we guarantee the 
accuracy of our conclusions." • 

However, it would be very well if they added : 

"But having no pretensions to assure the world that we 
are acquainted with all the forces of nature, known and 
unknown, we do not claim tjie right to hold back other 
people from bold investigations in regions which we 
have not reached as yet, owing to our great cautiousness 
and also to our moral timidity. Not being able to main- 
tain that the human organism is utterly incapable of de- 
veloping certain transcendental powers, which are rare, 
and observable only under certain conditions, unknown 
to science, we by no means wish to keep other explorers 
within the limits of our own scientific discoveries." 

By pronouncing this noble, and, at the same time, 
modest speech, our physiologists would doubtless gain 
the undying gratitude of posterity. 

After this speech there would be no fear of mockery, 
no danger of losing one's reputation for veracity and 


sound reason ; and the learned colleagues of these broad- 
minded physiologists would investigate every pheno- 
menon of nature seriously and openly. The phenomena 
of spiritualism would then transmigrate from the region 
of materialized ** mothers-in-law" and half-witted for- 
tune-telling to the regions of the psycho-physiological 
sciences. The celebrated "spirits" would probablj^ 
evaporate, but in their stead the living spirit, which 
"belongeth not to this world," would become better 
known and better realized by humanity, because hu- 
manity will comprehend the harmony of the whole only 
after learning how closely the visible world is bound to 
the world invisible. 

After this speech, Haeckel at the head of the evolu- 
tionists, and Alfred Russel Wallace at the head of the 
spiritualists, would be relieved from manj' anxieties, and 
would shake hands in brotherhood. 

Seriously speaking, what is there to prevent humanity 
from acknowledging two active forces within itself; one 
purely animal, the other purely divine? 

It does not behove even the greatest amongst scientists 
to tr}^ to "bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades," even 
if they have chosen ** Arcturus with his sons" for their 
guides. Did it never occur to therr. to apply to their 
own intellectual pride the questions the "voice out of 
the whirlwind" once asked of long-suffering Job : "where 
were they when were laid the foundations of the earth? 
and have the gates of death been opened unto them?" 
If so, only then have they the right to maintain that 
here and not there is the abode of eternal light. 







DS glrvptsky, Helene Petrovnfi 

LX3 iH-hn-H^-^hn) 

B64.3 From the caves and jungles 

1908 of Hindostan