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University of California. 





Frontispiece, Vol. II, 










VOL. 11. 




2, Whitehall Gardens, S.W. 


liL'j -^--^^ 


, 1. 




The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts . . . . i 

Tree and Serpent Worship 83 

Totemism and Fetishism 146 

Animal- Worship 201 

The Black Art 259 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies . .287 

Bibliography 327 

Index 333 








Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi foscinat a^os. 

Virgil, Eclogues, iii. 103. 

AsMA 'BINT 'Umais relates that she said, " O Prophet ! the 
family of Ja' afiar are affected by the baneful influence of the 
Evil Eye. May I use spells for them or not?" The 
Prophet said, " Yes ; for if there were an3rthing in the world 
which would overcome fate, it would be the Evil Eye." — 
Miskdt, xxi.-i. Part II. 

The belief in the baneful influence of the Evil Eye prevails 
widely.* According to Pliny,* it was one of the special 
superstitions of the people of India, and at the present day 
it forms an important part of the popular belief. But the 
investigation of its principles is far from easy. It is Very 
closely connected with a number of kindred ideas on the 
subject of diabolical influence, and few natives care to speak 
about it except in a furtive way. In fact, it is far too serious 

* For some of the literature of the Evil Eye see Tylor, " Early History,** 
134 ; Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties/* 187 sq. ; 
Westropp, " Primitive Symbolism,** 58 sqq. ; Gregor, ** Folk-lore of North- 
East Scotland,** 8. 

> " Natural History,** vii. 2. 


2 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

a matter to be discussed lightly. Walking about villages, 
you will constantly see special marks on houses, and symbols 
and devices of various kinds, which are certainly intended 
to counteract it ; but hardly any one cares directly to 
explain the real motive, and if you ask the meatiing of them, 
you will almost invariably be told that they are purely 
decorative, or that they have been made with some object 
which obviously conceals the real basis of the practice. 

One, and perhaps the most common theory of the Evil 
Eye is that "when a child is born, an invisible spirit is 
born with it ; and unless the mother keeps one breast tied 
up for forty days, while she feeds the child with the other 
(in which case the spirit dies of hunger), the child grows up 
with the endowment of the Evil Eye, and whenever any 
person so endowed looks at anything constantly, something 
will happen to it." ^ So, in Ireland we are told that " the 
gift comes by Nature and is born with one, though it may 
not be called into exercise unless circumstances arise to 
excite the power ; then it comes to act like a spirit of bitter 
and malicious envy that radiates a poisonous atmosphere, 
-which chills and blights ever5rthing within its reach." ' 

In Bombay the " blast of the Evil Eye is supposed to be 
a form of spirit possession. In Western India all witches 
and wizards are said to be, as a rule, evil-eyed. Of the rest, 
those persons only who are born under certain circumstances 
are believed to be evil-eyed. The circumstances are as 
follows : — Among the Hindus it is believed that when a 
woman is pregnant, she begins to conceive peculiar longings 
from the day of conception, or from the fifth month. They 
consist in eating various fruits and sweetmeats, in walking 
under deep shades, or in gardens where brooks gurgle, or in 
putting on rich clothes or ornaments, and in many other 
like things. If in the case of any woman these desires are 
not gratified, the child whom she gives birth to becomes 
weak and voracious, and is said to have an Evil Eye. If 

> Ibbetson, ** Panj^b Ethnography," 117. 
» Lady Wilde, " Legends," 24. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 3 

such a person sees a man or woman eat anything which he 
feels a longing for, the eater either vomits what he or she 
has eaten, or falls sick. By some it is believed that if a 
person come from without at the time of dinner, and enters 
the house without washing his feet, the man who is eating 
becomes sick or vomits the food he has eaten, or does not 
feel longing for food for some time, until the blast of the 
Evil Eye is warded off." Mr. Campbell explains this on the 
principle that '' as he comes from places where three or four 
roads meet, and which are spirit haunts, an evil spirit 
accompanies him without entering his body, from the place 
of its residence by which he has passed. If he washes his 
feet, the spirit goes back ; but if he enters the house with 
spirit-laden feet, the spirit enters the house with him, and 
^ects any one of the persons eating." * 

The real fact seems to be that in most cases the Evil Eye 
is the result of covetousness.* Thus, a man blind of an eye, 
no matter how well-disposed he may be, is almost certain to 
envy a person blessed with a peculiarly good pair of eyes. 
But if the blind man's attention be distracted hy something 
conspicuous in the appearance of the other, such as lamp- 
black on his eyelids, a mole, or a scar, the feeling of dissatis- 
faction, which is fatal to the complete effect of the envious 
glance, is certain to arise. This theory that the glance may 
be neutralized or avoided by some blot or imperfection is 
the basis of many of the popular remedies or prophylactics 
invented with the object of averting its influence. 

Hence comes the device of making an intentional blot in 
anything one values, so that the glance of the Evil Eye may 
be deprived of its complete satisfaction. Thus, most people 
put lampblack on the eyes of their children as a protection 
against fascination, because black is a colour hateful to. evil 
spirits ; it has the additional advantage of protecting the 
eye from the fierce heat of the Indian summer. Women 
when delivery approaches often mark themselves with black 

1 Campbell, " Notes." 207. 

* On this see valuable, notes by W. Cojckburn in " Panjab Notes and 
Queries,'' i. 14. 

B 2 

4 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

to avert the demon who causes protracted labour. It is 
also believed that a person whose eyelids are encircled with 
lampblack is incapable of casting the Evil Eye himself; and 
it is considered nice in a woman to ornament herself in this 
way, since because she herself, except at some crisis of her 
life, such as marriage or parturition, is not liable to fascina- 
tion, it shows her indisposition to covet the beauty of others, 
with the inference that she has no cause to do so. 

On the same principle, when a parent has lost a child by 
any disease which, as is usually the case, can be attributed 
to fascination or other demoniacal influence, it is a common 
practice to call the next baby by some opprobrious name, 
with the intention of so depreciating it that it may be 
regarded as worthless, and so protected from the Evil Eye 
of the envious. Thus a male child is called Kurisra or 
** Dunghill ; " Kadheran or Ghasita, " He that has been 
dragged along the ground ; *' Dukhi or Dukhita, " The 
afflicted one ; " Phatingua, " Grasshopper ; " Jhingura, 
" Cricket ; " Bhlkhra or Bhtkhu, " Beggar ; " Ghanb, " Poor," 
and so on. So, a girl is called Andhri, " Blind ; " Tinkauriyi 
or Chhahkauriy4, " She that was sold for three or six cowry 
shells;" Dhuriyd, "Dusty;" MachhiyA, "Fly," and so 

All this is connected with what the Scotch call " fore- 
speaking," when praise beyond measure, praise accompanied 
with a sort of amazement or envy, is considered likely to be 
followed by. disease or accident.^ Thus Professor Rhys 
writes of the Isle of Man : * " You will never get a Manxman 
to say that he is very well. He usually admits that he is 
* middling ; ' and if by any chance he risks a stronger 
adjective, he hastens to qualify it by saying * now ' or 'just 
now,' with an emphasis indicative of his anxiety not to say 
too much. His habits of speech point back to the time 

* For many lists of such names see Temple, " Proper Names of 
Panjibis,'* 22 sqq. ; "Indian Antiquary," viii. 321 sq. ; x. 321 sq.; 
•* Panjib Notes and Queries," i. 26, 51 ; iii. 9. 

* Grcgor, " Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," 35. 

* "Folk-lore," iii. 85. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 5 

ivhen the Manx mind was dominated by the fear of awaking 
malignant influences in the spirit world around him." So> 
in Ireland, to avoid being suspected of having the Evil Eye, 
it is necessary when looking at a child to say, " God bless 
it ! " and when passing a farmyard where the cows are 
collected for milking to say, ** The blessing of God be on 
jrou and all your labour ! " * 

The same customs prevail in India. Thusj if a native 
gentleman brings his child to visit a European, he dislikes 
to hear it praised, unless the praise be accompanied with 
some pious ejaculation. And it is safer to speak in a com- 
plimentary way of some conspicuous ornament or piece of 
dress, which is always put on as a protective. 

In connection with the question of naming, a reference 
may be made to some taboos which are probably based on 
similar principles. A name is part of a person in the 
belief of savages, and a man can be injured through his 
name as well as through the parings of his nails or hair, 
which are carefully looked after. Thus with all Hindus two 
names are given to children, one secret and used only for 
ceremonial purposes, and the other for ordinary use. The 
witch if she learns the real name can work her evil charms 
through it.' Hence arises the use of many contractions and 
perversions of the real name and many of the nicknames 
which are generally given to children, as well as the 
ordinary terms of endearment which are constantly em- 
ployed. We have this name taboo coming out in a cycle of 
folk-tales, such as " Rumpelstilzchen," " Tom Titty Tot," 
and " Whuppity Stoorie." Here the imp or gnome has a 
secret name of his own, which he thinks it impossible for 
any one to find out, and he himself uses it only when he 
thinks he is sure to be alone. 

This seems to be the most rational explanation of the 
curious taboo according to which a Hindu woman will not 

» Lady Vl^ilde, « Legends," 20. 

2 " Folk-lore," i. 273 ; Spencer, ** Principles of Sociology," i. 242 ; 
Lubbock, "Origin of Civilization,'* 243; Farrer, "Primitive Manners," 
119 sq. 

6 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

name her husband, or if she wants to refer to him, does so 
in some indirect way as the father of her child and so on. 
To this, however, there is one notable exception. Thus, 
writing of Bombay, Mr. Campbell says : * "At marriages, 
coming of age, first pregnancy and festive days, such as the 
N&gpanchamt and Mangal^ Gauri in August, it is usual for 
the woman to recite some couplet or verse in which the 
husband's name occurs. At marriages this naming is, in 
practice, little more than a game. An old man or an old 
lady gets close to the door and refuses to allow the young 
women to go until they have told their husbands' name. At 
the pregnancy ceremony the same custom is observed." 
Mr. Campbell takes this to be ** part of a ceremony whose 
object is to drive to a distance any spirits whose influence 
might blight the tender life of the unborn child. This 
seems natural when it is remembered that the names of 
men are either the names of gods, of precious stones, or of 
spices, all of which have a power to scare spirits ; and as 
repeating the thousand names of Mahideva is a service in 
which he greatly delights, apparently because it keeps spirits 
at a distance, so this repeating of the husband's and wife's 
name seems to have the same object." The name, in other 
words, is kept secret on account of its sanctity, and the 
custom would be based on the same rules of taboo which 
have been designed among most savages for the protection 
of kings and other persons of dignity from the influence of 
evil spirits. 

Another mode of protecting boys from demoniacal 
influence is based on the same idea of the blot of imperfec- 
tion. Boys of rich parents are often dressed in mean or 
filthy clothes so that they may be considered unworthy of 
the malicious glance of some envious neighbour or enemy. 

Still another device, that of dressing up the boy during 
infancy as a girl, in other words a pretended change of sex, 
may perhaps lead us on the track of a possible explanation 
of some very curious and obscure practices in Europe. 

1 '* Notes," 400. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts, 7 

We know that legends of actual change of sex are not 
unknown in Indian folk-lore. Thus, we have the very 
primitive legend of Id& or lU, who was the daughter of the 
Manu Vaivaswata, who prayed to Mitra and Varuna for a 
boy and was given a girl. But the prayers of her father to 
the deities resulted in her being changed into a man» 
Sudyumna, Siva changed him back again into a woman> 
and she, as I1&, became the wife of Budha. In more modern 
times we have the very similar story of the daughter of the 
Bhadauri3ra R&ja. He had a daughter, who was seized by 
force for the seraglio of the Emperor at Delhi, but she fled 
to the temple of Devi at Batesar and by the aid of the god- 
dess was changed into a boy. By another version of the 
tale he arranged with another R&ja that their children 
should be contracted, if one chanced to be a boy and the 
other a girl. Both had daughters, but the Rdja concealed 
the circumstance and allowed the marriage to go on as if 
his child was a son. When the fraud was detected the girl 
tried to commit suicide in the Jumnd, but came out a boy» 
and everyone was satisfied.^ 

One explanation of the custom of pretended change of 
sex as shown in the case of the Amazons, has been thus 
explained by Mr. Abercromby:' "The great desire of 
women, more especially during a period of warlike barbarism, 
is to bear male children. Turning our attention to the 
result of flattening a girl's breasts and letting her wear male 
attire, it is obvious that a sex distinction has been obliterated, 
and she has become externally assimilated to a male youth. 
Moreover, the object has evidently been intentional. It 
would be no outrage to the reasoning powers of the Sarma- 
tians to suppose that they believed a woman's chances of 
bearing male children were vastly enhanced by her wearing 
a man's dress, and by being in some degree conformed to 
the male type by forcible compression of the breasts during 
maidenhood. They would argue thus : a woman wants to 

^ Cunningham, " Archasological Reports/' vii. 6. 
2 "Folk-lore/Mi. 179. 

8 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

bear male children, therefore she ought to be made as much 
like a man as possible. A conviction of this kind is gained 
by a process identical with the immature reasoning that 
underlies what is called sympathetic magic." 

This may possibly be one explanation of the practice 
among Chamdrs and other low castes in Northern India, 
when at marriages boys dress up as women and perform a 
rude and occasionally obscene dance. Among the Modh 
Brdhmans of Gujardt, at marriages, the bridegroom's 
maternal uncle, whose special position is almost certainly a 
survival from times when descent through the mother was 
the only recognized form, dresses as a Jhanda or Pathdn 
Faqlr, whose ghost is dangerous, in woman's clothes from 
head to waist, and in men's clothes below, rubs his face with 
oil, daubs it with red powder, goes with the bride and bride- 
groom to a place where two roads meet (which, as we have 
seen, is a haunt of spirits), and stays there till the pair offer 
the goddess food.* 

Now, there are numerous customs which have been 
grouped in Europe under the name of the False Bride. 
Thus, among the Esthonians the false bride is enacted by 
the bride's brother dressed in woman's clothes ; in Polonia 
by a bearded man called the Wilde Brant ; in Poland, by 
an old woman veiled in white, and lame ; again, among the 
Esthonians, by an old woman with a birch-bark crown ; in 
Brittany, where the substitutes are first a little girl, then the 
mistress of the house, and lastly, the grandmother.* 

The supposition may then be hazarded, that in the light 
of the Indian examples the object may be that some one 
assumes the part of the bride in order to divert on himself 
from her the envious glance of the Evil Eye. With the 
same object it is very common in India to bore the noses of 
little boys and thus to make them resemble girls. The 
usual names of Nathu or Bul&qi, the former where the ring 
was placed in the side of the nose and the latter in the 
septum, are evidence of this. 

^ " Bombay Gazetteer," v. 45 sq. ' " Folk-lore," iv. 147. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 9 

The theory of the blot of imperfdction again appears in 
the custom of not washing the foce of a little boy till he is 
six years old.^ Similarlyi young men, if vigorous and 8tout» 
consider themselves very liable to the fascination of lean 
people, and tie a rag round the left arm, or a blue thread 
round their necks, often tmsting the blue feathers of the 
roller bird into the thread as an additional precaution* Nor 
do they care to expose their bodies to the public gaze, but 
wear a light shawl of a gaudy colour, even in the warmest 
season of the year. Should such a youth, if sufficiently con- 
ceited about his personal appearance, detect a suspicious 
person looking at him, he will immediately pretend to limp, 
or contort his face and spasmodically grasp his ankle or his 
elbow as if he were in pain, to distract and divert the atten- 
tion he fears. 

So, all natives dread being stared at, particularly by r ^- < 
Europeans ; and you will often see a witness cast his eyes 
on the ground when the magistrate looks him full in the 
face, sometimes because he knows he is lying and fears the 
consequences, but it is often done through fear of fascina- 
tion. A European, in fact, is to the rustic a strange in- 
scrutable personage, gifted with many occult powers both 
for good and evil, ' and there are numerous extraordinary 
legends current about him. We shall return to this in deal- 
ing with the wonderful Momi&t story. Here it may be 
noted that he has control over the Jinn. There was a place 
near Dera Ghizi Kh&n so possessed by them that passers- 
by were attacked. A European officer poured a bottle of 
brandy on the spot and no Jinn has been seen there ever 
since. A very dangerous ghost which some time ago used 
to infest a road in the R(irki Cantonment was routed in the 
same way by an artilleryman, who spat on him when he 
came across him one dark night. The nails of a European, 
like those of the Rikshasa, distil a deadly poison, and hence 
he is afraid to eat with his fingers, as all reasonable people 
do, and prefers to use a knife and fork. 

^ ** Panjib Notes and Queries,** ii. 42. 

10 Folk-lore of Northern India, 

A few other examples illustrating the same principle 
may be given here. When a man is copying a manuscript, 
he will sometimes make an intentional blot. A favourite 
trick is to fold the paper back before the ink of the last line 
has time to dry, so as to blot and at the same time make it 
appear the result of chance. We have noticed the same 
idea in the case of carpet patterns. A similar irregularity 
is introduced in printing chintzes and like handicrafts, and 
this goes a long way to explain the occasional and almost 
unaccountable defects to be found in some native work. 
The letter from a Rija is spotted with gold leaf, partly to 
divert fascination and partly to act as a scarer of demons. 
In fact the two conceptions meet and overlap all through 
the theory of these protectives. 

Another plan is to paint up some hideous figure on the 
posts or arch of the door. The figure of a Churel or the 
caricature of a European with his gun is often delineated in 
this way. Others paint a figure of Yamaraja or some of the 
gods or saints for the same purpose, and the regular guardian 
deities, like HanumS.n, Bhairon, or Bhim Sen, often figure on 
these protective frescoes. So in Italy Mania was a most 
frightful spirit. " Her frightful image used to be hung over 
the doors to frighten away evil. This is quite identical 
with the old Assyrian observance recorded by Lenormant of 
placing the images of evil or dreaded deities in places to 
scare away the demons themselves." * 

Confectioners, when one of their vessels of milk is exposed 
to view, put a little charcoal in it, as careful Scotch mothers 
do in the water in which they wash their babies.' The idea 
is probably connected with the use of fire as a charm. In 
Scotland it used to be the practice to throw a live coal into 
the beer vat to avert the influence of the fairies, and a cow's 
milk was secured against them by a burning coal being 
passed across her back and under her belly immediately 
after calving.' In India, if a cow gives a large quantity of 

^ Leland, " Etrascan Roman Remains," 53. 

* Gregor, " Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," 7. 

' Brand, " Observations," 753. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts, ix 

milk, the owner tries to hide it, and if it chances to get sour, 
he attributes the loss to foscination, or the machinations of 
some enemy, witch, or demon* A mother while dressing 
her baby makes a black mark on its cheek, and before a 
man eats betel he pinches off the comer of the leaf as a safe* 
guard. When food is taken to the labourer in the field, a 
piece of charcoal or copper coin is placed in the basket as 
a preservative ; and when horses while feeding throw a little 
grain on the ground, it is not replaced, because the horse is 
believed to do this to avoid fascination. Grooms, with the 
same object, throw a dirty duster over the withers of a horse 
while it is feeding, and they are the more particular to do 
this when it is new moon or moonlight, when spirits are 
abroad. In the same way, when a man purchases food in 
the open market, he throws a little into the fire, and when a 
man is having a specially good dinner, he should select an 
auspicious moment and do the same. The same idea 
accounts for various customs of grace-giving at meals. 
Thus, when the Br&hmans at P(ina begin dinner they repeat 
the name of Govinda; the Shenavis say, Har! ffarf 
MaAddeva, and when half finished sing verses ; the Mh&rs 
never eat without saying Krishnarpana ! or " It is dedicated 
to Krishna " ; ^ the Muhammadan, when he begins to eat, 
says, Bismillah ! — " In the name of God ! " and when he 
finishes he says, Al-hamdulillah I — " Praise be to God ! " 
Orthodox Hindus pretend that this offering of food at a 
meal is a sacrifice to Annadeva, the god of food ; but here 
many varied beliefs, such as fear of fascination, earth and 
fire worship, appear to combine to establish these and 
similar practices. 

We now come to consider the various articles which are 
believed to have the power of scaring spirits, and counteract- 
ing demoniacal influence of various kinds. 

First among these is iron. Why iron has been regarded 
as a scarer of demons has been much debated. Natives of 
India will tell you that it is the material out of which 

1 Campbell, "Notes," 184. 

22 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

weapons are made, and that an armed man should fear 
nothing. Others say that its virtues depend on its black 
colour, whichi as we shall see, is obnoxious to evil spirits. 
Mr. Campbell ^ thinks the explanation may be that in all 
cases of swooning and seizures iron is of great value, either 
applied in the form of the cautery or used as a lancet to let 
blood. The real reason is probably a very interesting sur- 
vival of folk-thought. We know that in many places the 
stone axe and arrow head of the Age of Stone are invested 
with magic qualities, and Mr. Macritchie has gone so far as 
to assume that the various so-called fairy houses and fairy 
hills which abound in Europe are really the abodes of a 
primitive pigmy race, which survive to our days as the fairies. 
The belief in the fairies would thus go back to a time 
anterior to the use of metals, and these supernatural beings 
would naturally feel an abhorrence for iron, a new discovery 
and one of the greatest ever made by man. There is good 
evidence in custom that the Age of Stone existed in many 
places up to comparatively modern times. The Hebrews 
used a stone knife for circumcision, their altars were for- 
bidden to be hewn, and even Solomon ordered that neither ) 
hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron should be heard while / 
his Temple was building. The same idea appears in many ' 
cases in India. The Magahiya Doms, who are certainly ' 
one of the most primitive races in] the country, place iron 
under a stringent taboo, and any Magahiya who breaks into 
a house with an iron implement is not only put out of caste, 
but it is believed that some day or other he will lose his eye- 
sight. The Agariyas, the primitive iron smelters of the 
Central Indian Hills, have deified iron under the form of 
Loh&sura, as the Kaseras or brass-founders worship brass as 

This idea appears in many various forms. We have 
already noticed the use of iron as a charm against hail. In 
the same way a sword or knife is placed in the bed of the 
young mother. She is, at this crisis of her life, particularly 

» " Notes," 34. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts, 13 

exposed to the influence of evil spirits, as the Scotch fiuries 
are very fond of milk, and try to gratify their desires on 
*' tinsained " or unchurched women.^ There is a case in the 
Indian Law Reports, where the knife thus placed near the 
woman was used to murder her.* Pliny advises that a piece 
of iron should be placed in the nest of a sitting hen to save 
her eggs from the influence of thunder. This is now done 
in Sicily, with the object of absorbing every noise which 
might be injurious to the chickens.' So, the Indians of 
Canada put out swords in a storm to frighten off the demon 
of thunder/ The common belief is that the evil spirit is 
such a fool that he runs against the sharp edge of the 
weapon and allows himself to be wounded. 

The magic sword constantly appears in folk-lore. We 
have Excalibur and Balmung ; in the tales of Somadeva it 
confers the power of making the wearer fly through the air 
and renders him invincible ; the snake demon obtains from 
the wars of the Gods and the Asuras the magic sword 
Vaiduryakanti. " Whatever man obtains that sword will 
become a chief of the Siddhas and roam about xm-^ 
conquered ; and that sword can only be obtained by the aid 
of heroes." * 

While a house is being built, an iron pot, or a pot painted 
black, which is good enough to scare the demon, is always 
kept on the works, and when it is finished the young^ 
daughter of the owner ties to the lintel a charm, which is 
also used on other occasions, the principal virtue of which 
consists in a small iron ring. Here is combined the virtue 
of the iron and the ring, which is a sacred circle. In India, 
iron rings are constantly worn as an amulet against disease, 
as in Ireland an iron ring on the fourth finger cures rheu- 
matism. The mourner, during the period of ceremonial 
impurity, carries a knife or a piece of iron to drive off the 

^ Gregor, " Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," $, 60, 62. 

' Reg. vs. Lalla, " Nizimat Adilat Reports," 22nd September, 1853. 

* Gubematis, " Zoological Mythology," ii. 281. 

* "Folk-lore," i. 154. 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 386, 575 ; ii. 64. 

14 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

ghost of the dead man, and the bridegroom in the marriage 
procession wears a sword as a protection ; if he cannot 
procure a licence from a magistrate to carry a real sword, 
he gets one made of lath, which is good enough to frighten 
the evil spirit. In this case he fastens an iron spike to the 
point. On the same principle the blacksmith's anvil is used 
as a hail charm, and any one who dares to sit on it is likely 
to be punished for the contempt by an attack of boils. The 
Romans used to drive large nails into the side posts of the 
door with the same object. We have already noticed the 
value of iron nails for the purpose of laying the ghost of the 
Churel, and such nails are in India very commonly driven 
into the door-post or into the legs of the bed, with the object 
of resisting evil spirits. The horse-shoe is one special form 
of the charm. The wild Irish, we are told, used to hang 
round the necks of children the beginning of St. John's 
-Gospel, a crooked nail out of a horse-shoe, or a piece of 
wolf-skin.* Why the horse-shoe should be used in this way 
has been much debated. Mr. Farrer thinks it may be 
connected with the respect paid to the horse in folk-lore.' 
The Irish say that the reason is that the horse and ass were 
in the stall when Christ was born, and hence are blessed 
for evermore.' The idea that its shape connects it with 
the Yoni and phallicism hardly deserves mention. One 
thing is clear, that the element of luck largely enters into 
the matter ; the shoe must have been found by chance on 
the road. Mr. Leland says, "To find and pick up any- 
thing, at once converts it into a fetish, or insures that all 
will go well with it, if we say when taking it up, * I do not 
pick it up,' — naming the object — * I pick up good luck, 
which, may never abandon me ! ' * This, combined with the 
general protective power of iron, is probably a sufficient 
explanation of the practice. The custom is common in 
India. The great gate of the mosque at Fatehpur Sikri is 
•covered with them, and the practice is general at many 

^ Brand, " Observations," 339. *^ " Primitive Manners," 293. 

5 Lady Wilde, " Legends," 181. * " Etruscan Roman Remains,** 264. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 15 

There is also a cycle of legends which connect iron with 
the philosopher's stone and transmutation into gold. The 
great Chandra Varma, who was bom of the embraces of 
Chandrama, the Moon god» possessed the power of con* 
verting iron into gold. Laliya, a blaclcsmith of Ahmad&b&d, 
made an axe for a Bhil, who returned and complained that 
it would not cut. Laliya, on looking at it, found that the 
blade had been turned into gold. On questioning the Bhtl, 
he ascertained that he had tried to sharpen it on what 
turned out to be the philosopher's stone. Laliya, by pos- 
session of the stone, acquired great wealth, and was finally 
attacked by the king's troops. At last he was obliged to 
throw the stone into the Bhadar river, where it still lies, 
but once some iron chains were let down into the water, 
and when they touched it the links were converted into 

Gold and Silver Protectives. 

Gold, and in a less degree silver, have a similar protective 
influence. The idea is apparently based on their scarcity 
and value, and on their colour — ^yellow and white being 
obnoxious to evil spirits. Hence a little bit of gold is put 
into the mouth of the dying Hindu, and both gold and silver, 
combined with tigers' claws and similar protectives, are 
largely used as amuletsi. These metals are particularly 
effective in the form of ornaments, many of which are 
images of the gods, or have some mystic significance, or are 
made in imitation of some sacred leaf, flower, or animal. 
This is one main cause of the recklessness with which rich 
natives load their children with masses of costly jewellery, 
though they are well aware that the practice often leads to 
robbery and murder. 

Copper and Brass Protectives. 
Next come copper and brass. The use of copper in the 

1 " Bombay Gazetteer," v. 123 ; and for another instance, see Jarrett, 
" AJn-i-Akbari,*' ii. 197. 

i6 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

form of rings and amulet cases is very common. Many of 
the vessels used in the daily service of the gods, such as the 
Argha, with which the daily oblations are made, are made 
of this metal. So with brass and various kinds of alloy 
used for bells, drinking and cooking utensils. 

The common brass Lota is always carried about by a man 
during the period of mourning as a preservative against the 
evil spirits which surround him until the ghost of the dead 
man is finally laid. Copper rings are specially worn as an 
antidote to pimples and boils, while those of iron are sup- 
posed to weaken the influence of the planet Sani or Saturn, 
which is proverbially unlucky and malignant. His Evil W 
Eye, in particular, brings misfortune at intervals of twenty- 
four years ; all offerings to him are black, and consequently 
ill-omened, such as sesamum, charcoal, buffaloes, and black 
salt ; and only the Dakaut, the lowest class of Brdhman 
priest, will accept such offerings.* 

Coral and Marine Products Protectives. 

Next in value to these metals come coral and other 
marine products, which in the case of the Hindus probably 
derive their virtue from being strange to an inland-dwelling 
people, and as connected with the great ocean, the final home 
of the sainted dead. Coral is particularly valued in the form 
of a necklace by those who cannot afford the costlier metals, 
and its ashes are constantly used in various rustic remedies 
and stimulants. In Gujarat a coral ring is used to keep ofiF 
the evil influence of the sun,' and in Bengal mourners touch 
it as a form of purification. According to the old belief in 
England, coral guarded off lightning, whirlwind, tempests 
and storms from ships and houses, and was hung round the 
necks of children to assist teething and keep off the falling 
sickness.* So with shells, particularly the Sankha or conch 
shell, which is used for oblations and is regarded as sacred 
to Vishnu. It is blown at his temples when the deity 

» Lil Bihdri D6, " Folk-tales,*' io8 sqq. ; Wilson, " Indian Caste,*' 
ii. 174. 
» '' Campbell, " Notes," 69. » Brand, " Observations," 344, 733. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 17 

receives his daily meal, in order to wake him and scare off 
vagrant spirits, who would otherwise consume or defile the 
offering. This shell, in popular belief, is the bone of the 
demon Panchajana, who, according to the Vishnu Purina,* 
"lived in the form of a conch shell under the ocean. 
Krishna plunged into the water, killed him, took the shell, 
which constituted his bones, and afterwards used it for a 
horn. When sounded it fills the demon hosts with dismay, 
animates the gods, and annihilates unrighteousness." 

All these shells appear to derive part of their virtue from 
the fact that they are perforated. The cowry shell, which 
is worn round the neck by children as an antidote to the 
Evil Eye and diabolical influence, is supposed to have such 
sympathy with the wearer that it cracks when the evil glance 
falls upon it, as in England coral was thought to change 
colour and grow pale when its owner was sick. The cowry 
shell is, with the same object, tied round the neck or pasterns 
of a valued horse, or on a cow or buffalo. The shell armlet 
worn by Bengal women has the same protective influence.* 

Precious Stones Protectives. 

Precious stones possess similar value. Sir Thomas Brown 
would not deny that bezoar was antidotal, but he could not 
bring himself to believe that " sapphire is preservative against 
enchantments." In one special combination of nine varieties, 
known as the Nauratana, they are specially efficacious — ^the 
ruby sacred to the sun, the pearl- to the moon, coral to 
Mars, emerald to Mercury, topaz . to Jupiter, diamond to 
Venus, sapphire to Saturn, amethyst to R&hu, and the cat's- 
eye to Ketu. In the mythology the gods interrupted PArvat! 
when she was with Mah4deva, and nine jewels dropped from 
her anklet. When he looked at them he saw his image 
reflected in each of them, and they appeared in the form of 
the nine Kany&s or heavenly maidens. The Naulakha or 
nine Idkh necklace constantly appears in Indian folk-lore. 

1 V. 21. 

* For further examples see Campbell, " Notes," 126 sqq. 


i8 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

In the story of the Princess Aubergine we read that " inside 
the fish there is a bumble-bee, inside the bee a tiny box, and 
inside the box is the wonderful nine likh necklace. Put it 
on and I shall die." And in one of Somadeva's stories, at 
the marriage, Jaya gives the bride a necklace of such a kind 
that, as long as it is upon a person's neck, hunger, thirsty 
and death cannot harm him.* It is of jewels that the lamps 
which light fairy-land are made. 

Many of the precious stones have tales and qualities of 
their own. Once upon a time a holy man came and settled 
at Panna who had a diamond as large as a cart-wheeL 
The Rija, hearing of this, tried to take it by force, but the 
saint hid it in the ground out of his way. He told the Ralja 
that the diamond wheel could not leave his dominions, and 
that no one could ever find it. The Muhammadans say 
that all the diamonds found since, in these famous mines, 
were fragments of the wheel.' The wearing of a ring of 
sapphire, sacred to Sani or Saturn, is supposed to turn out 
lucky or unlucky, according to circumstances. For this 
reason, the wearer tries it for three days, that is, he wears 
it on Saturday, which is sacred to Saturn, and keeps it on 
till Tuesday. During this time, if no mishap befalls him> 
he continues to wear it during the period when the planet's 
influence is unfavourable; but should any mishap befall 
him during the three days, he gives the ring to a Brdhman.' 
The amethyst obtains its name because any one who wears 
it cannot be affected by wine. The turquoise or Ftroza is 
a mystic stone in India. If you bathe wearing a turquoise, 
the water touched by it protects the wearer from boils, and 
snakes will not approach him.* Shylock got a turquoise 
from Leah which he would not have given for a wilderness 
of monkeys, because it changed colour with the health of 
the owner, and the Turkeys, says an old writer, "doth 

' Temple, "Wideawake Stories," 83 ; Tawney, '*^Katha Sarit Sigara," 
i. 478. 

* Cunningham, " Archaeological Reports," vii. Sf^ 
> Campbell, "Notes," 119. 

* " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 53, 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 19 

move when there is any peril prepared to him that weareth 
it."/ So the onyx, known as the Sulaim&ni, or stone of 
Solomon, has mystic virtues, as, according to Burton, 
carbuncles and coral, beryl, pearls and rubies were believed 
to drive away devils, to overcome sorrow, and to stop 

Beads Protectives. 

With poorer people beads take the place of gems, and 
in particular the curious enamelled bead, which probably 
came from China and is still found in old deserted sites, 
mostly of Buddhistic origin, enjoys special repute. We 
have already met with the parturition bead, and in Kolhapur 
there is a much-valued Arabic stone which, when any woman 
is in labour, is washed and the water given to her to drink. 
In Scotland the amber bead cures inflamed eyes and sprains^ 
as in Italy looking through amber beads strengthens the 
sight.* Here the perforation confers a mystical quality. 
As an antidote to the Evil Eye blue beads are specially 
valued, and are hung round the necks and pasterns of 
horses and other valuable animals. The belief in the 
e£Kcacy of beads is at the basis of the use of rosaries, which^ 
as used in Europe, are almost certainly of Eastern origin, 
imported in the Middle Ages in imitation of those worn by 
Buddhistic or Hindu ascetics, who ascribe to them manifold 
virtue. Such are those of the Tulasl or sacred basil, worn 
by Vaishnavas, and those of the Rudriksha, worn by 

Blood a Protective. 

Blood is naturally closely connected with life. "The 
flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall 
ye not eat." Hence blood comes to be a scarer of demons. 
In Scott's Lay the wizard's book would not open till he 
smeared the cover with the Borderer's curdled gore. In 

^ " Brand, " Observations," 733. * " Anatomy of Melancholy," 434. 
• Henderson, ** Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 146; Lcland. 
" Etruscan Roman Remains/' 267. 

C 2 

20 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Cornwall, the burning of blood from the body of a dead 
animal is a very common method of appeasing the spirits 
of disease/ and the blood sacrifices so prevalent all over the 
worid are performed with the same object. A curious Evil 
Eye charm is recorded from Allah4b4d. A woman of the 
Chamir or carrier caste gave birth to a dead child. Think- 
ing that this was due to fascination, she put a piece of the 
cloth used at her confinement down a well, having previously 
enclosed in it two leaves of betel, some cloves, and a piece 
of the castor-oil plant.' Here we have, first, a case of well- 
worship ; secondly, the use of betel, cloves, and the castor- 
oil plant, all scarers of evil spirits ; and thirdly, an instance 
of the use of blood for the same purpose. We have else- 
where noticed the special character attached to menstrual 
or parturition blood. But blood itself is most effectual 
against demoniacal influence. There are many cases where 
blood is rubbed on the body as an antidote to disease. In 
Bombay some Marhitas give warmed goat's blood in cases 
of piles, and in typhus, or red discoloration of the skin with 
blotches, the patieiit is cured by killing a cock and rubbing 
the sick man with the blood. Others use the blood of the 
great lizard in cases of snake-bite.' A bath of the blood of 
children was once ordered for the Emperor Constantine, 
and because he, moved by the tears of the parents, refused 
to take it, his extraordinary humanity was rewarded by a 
miraculous cure. 

Similarly, among the Drdvidians, the Kos drink the blood 
of the sacrificial bull ; the Malers cure demoniacs by giving 
the blood of a sacrificed buffalo ; the Pahariyas, in time of 
epidemics, set up a pair of posts and a cross beam, and 
hang on it a vessel of blood.* So, the Jews sprinkled the 
door-posts and the horns of the altar with blood, and the 
same customs prevail among many other peoples. 

We shall meet with instances of the same rite when 

1 Hunt, " Popular Romances," 213. 

* " PanjAb Notes and Queries," iii. 67. 
' Campbell, " Notes," 49 sq. 

* Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 115, 270, 272. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 21 

dealing with the blood covenant and human sacrifice. On 
the same analogy many Indian tribes mark the forehead of 
the bride with blood or vermilion, and red paint is smeared 
on the image of the village godling in lieu of a regular 


Similarly, incense is largely used in religious rites, partly 
to please with the sweet savour the deity which is being 
worshipped, and partly to drive away demons who would 
steal or defile the offerings. Bad smells repel evil spirits, 
and this is probably why assafoetida is given to a woman 
after her delivery. In Ireland, if a child be sick, they take 
a piece of the cloth worn by the person supposed to have 
overlooked the infant and burn it near him. If he sneezes, 
he expels the spirit and the spell is broken, or the doth is 
burned to ashes and given to the patient, while his forehead 
is rubbed with spittle. In Northern India, if a child be 
sick, a little bran, pounded chillies, mustard, and sometimes 
the eyelashes of the child are passed round its head and 
burned. If the burning mixture does not smell very badly, 
which it is needless to say is hardly ever the case, it is a 
sign that the child is still under the evil influence ; if the 
odour be abominable, that the attack has been obviated.^ 
Similarly, in Bengal, red mustard seeds and salt are mixed 
together, waved round the head of the patient, and then 
thrown into the fire.* This reminds us of the flight of the 
Evil One into the remote parts of Egypt from the smell of 
the fish liver burnt by Tobit, and an old writer says: 
" Wyse clerkes knoweth well that dragons hate nothyng 
more than the stenche of breenynge bones, and therefore 
they gaderyd as many as they might fynde, and brent them 5 
and so with the stenche thereof they drove away the 
dragons, and so they were brought out of greete dysease." • 

> '' Panj&b Notes and Queries," i. 51. 
» Risley, " Tribes and Castes," ii. 209. 
» Brand, *' Observations," i66. 

22 Folk-lore of Northern India, 


We have just met with an instance of the use of spittle for 
the scaring of the disease demon or the Evil Eye. This is a 
very common form of charm for this purpose. In one of the 
Italian charms the performer is directed to spit behind 
himself thrice and not to look back. In another, " if your 
eyes pain you, you must take the saliva of a woman who 
has given birth only to boys, not girls. And she must have 
abstained from sexual union and stimulating food for three 
days. Then, if her saliva be bright and clear, anoint your 
eyes with it and they will be cured." * At Innisboffin, in 
Ireland, when the old women meet a baby out with its nurse 
they spit on the ground all round it to keep fairies from it. 
In Wicklow they spit on a child for good luck the first day 
it is brought out after birth.' In several of the European 
folk-tales we find that spittle has the power of speech. 
The habit of spitting on the handsell or first money taken 
in the morning is common. It is done " either to render it 
tenacious that it may remain with them and not vanish away 
like a fairy gift, or else to render it propitious and lucky, 
that it may draw more money to it." • Muhammad advised 
that when the demon Khanzab interrupted any one at his 
prayers, he was to spit over his left shoulder three times. 

In India, spittle is regarded as impure. Hence a native 
cleans his teeth daily with a fresh twig of the Ntm tree, and 
regards the European's use of the same tooth-brush day after 
day as one of the numerous extraordinary impurities which 
we permit. Hence, too, the practice of spitting when any 
one who is feared or detested passes by. When women see 
a falling star they spit three times to scare the demon. In 
Bombay, spittle, especially fasting spittle, is used to rub on 
wounds as a remedy. It cures inflammation of the eyes, 
an idea which was familiar to the Jews. It guards children 
against the Evil Eye. In the Konkan, when a person is 
affected by the Evil Eye, salt and mustard are waved round* 

^ Leland, "Etruscan Roman Remains/' 260, 279 ; Hartland, " Legend 
of Perseus," ii. 258 sqq. 
« " Folk-lore/' iv. 358, 361. » Brand, loc. cit^ 724. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring op Ghosts. 23 

his head, thrown into the fire, and he is told to spit. In 
Gujardt, when an orthodox Shiah Musakn&n travels with a 
Sunniy he spits, and among the Roman Catholics of Kanara^ 
at baptism the priest wets his thumb with spittle and with 
it touches the child's ears and nostrils.* 


We have seen above that salt is also used in the same 
ivay. Salt, apparently from its power of checking decay^ is 
regarded as possessing mystical powers. All over Europe 
the spilling of salt in the direction of a person was con- 
sidered ominous. '' It was held to indicate that something 
had already happened to one of the family, or was about to 
befall the person spilling it, and also to denote the rupture 
of friendship." * The custom of putting a plate of salt on a 
corpse with the object of driving off evil spirits is common 
in Great Britain. We have already seen that salt is given 
to children after they have eaten sweets. Many classes of 
Hindu ascetics bury their dead in salt. It is waved round 
the head of the bride and bridegroom, and buried near the 
house door as a charm. In classical antiquity it was mixed 
with water and sprinkled on the worshippers. 


Another way of dispelling evil spirits is by the various 
forms of salutation, which generally consist in the invocation 
of some deity. The Hindu says, '*Rdm! Rdm!" when he 
meets a friend, ox Jay Gop&l! "Glory to Krishna!" or 
whoever his personal god may be, and the same idea accounts 
for many of the customs connected with the reception of 
guests, who, coming from abroad, may bring evil spirits with 

The Separable Soul: Waving. 
Another series of prophylactics depends on the idea of the 

1 Campbell, " Notes," 131 ; Tylor, " Primitive Culture," ii. 439. 
- Brand, loc. cit.^ 668. 

24 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

separable soul or that spirits are always fluttering in the air 
round a person's head. Hence a long series of customs 
known as Parachhan, performed at Hindu marriages in 
Upper India, when lights, a brass tray, grain, and household 
implements like the rice pounder or grindstone are waved 
round the head of the married pair as a protective. In 
Somadeva's tale of Bhunandana we find that he '^ performs 
the ceremony of averting evil spirits from all quarters by 
waving the hand over the head."* This is perhaps one 
explanation of the use of flags at temples and village shrines, 
though in some cases they appear to be used as a perch, on 
which the deity sits when he makes his periodical visits. 
Hence, too, feathers have a mystic significance, though in 
some cases, as in those of the peacock and jay, the colour 
is the important part. Hence the waving of the fan and 
Chaurt over the head of the great man and the use of the 
umbrella as a symbol of royalty. A woman carrying her 
child on her return from a strange village, lest she should 
bring the influence of some foreign evil spirit back with her, 
will, before entering her own homestead, pass seven little 
stones seven times round the head of the baby, and throw 
them in difiierent directions, so as to pass away any evil that 
may have been contracted. When a sorcerer is called in to 
attend a case attributed to demoniacal possession, he whisks 
the patient with a branch of the Nlm, Mad4r, or Camel 
thorn, all of which are more or less sacred trees and have 
acquired a reputation as preservatives. When this is com- 
pleted, the aspersion of the afflicted one, be he man or 
beast, with some water from the blacksmith's shop, in which 
iron has been repeatedly plunged and has bestowed additional 
efficacy upon it, usually follows. 

Blacksmith, Respect for. 
The respect paid to the trade of the blacksmith is a 
curious survival firom the time of the early handicrafts and 
the substitution of weapons of iron for those of stone.' In 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," ii. 198. 

* Schrader, " Prehistoric Antiquities," 163 sqq. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 2$ 

Scotland the same belief in the virtues of the water of the 
forge prevails, and in Ireland no one will take anything by 
stealth from such a place.' In St. Patrick's Hsrmn we have 
a prayer against '* the spells of women, of smiths, and of 
druids." Culann, the mystic smith, appears in Celtic folk- 
lore. In all the mythologies the idea is widespread that the 
art of smithing was first discovered and practised by super- 
n atural personages. We see this through the whole range of 
folk-lore, from the Cyclopes to Wayland Smith, who finally 
came to be connected with the Devil of Christianity.' 


We have already referred to water as a protective against 
the influence of evil spirits. We see this principle in the 
rite of ceremonial bathing as a propitiation for sin. It 
also appears in the use of water which has been blown 
upon by a holy man as a remedy for spirit possession. 
Among many menial tribes in the North- Western Provinces 
with the same object the bride is washed in the water in 
which the bridegroom has already taken his wedding bath. 
Again, on a lucky day fixed by the Pandit the rite of 
Nah&wan or ceremonial bathing is performed for the 
protection of the young mother and her child two or 
three days after her confinement. Both of them are bathed 
in a decoction of the leaves of the Nim tree. Then a 
handful of the seeds of mustard and dill are waved round 
the mother's head and thrown into a vessel containing fire. 
When the seeds are consumed the cup is upset, and the 
mother breaks it with her own foot. Next she sits with 
grain in her hand, while the household brass tray is beaten 
to scare demons and the midwife throws the child into the 
air. All this takes place in the open air in the courtyard of 
the house. Here we have a series of antidotes to demoniacal 

» Gregor, " Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," 45 ; Lady MTilde, 
" Legends,** 205. 

« " Folk-lore," ii. 292 ; Rhys, " Lectures," 446, 553 ; Campbell, " Popular 
Tales," Introduction, Ixx. ; ii. 98 ; Hartland, " Legend of Perseus," i. 37. 

:26 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

possession, the purport of which will be easily understood 
on principles which have been already explained. 


With this use of grain we meet with another valuable 
antidote. We have it in Great Britain in the rule that 
" the English, when the bride comes from church, are wont 
to cast wheat upon her head.'* * It survives in our custom 
of throwing rice over the wedded pair when they start on 
the honeymoon. On the analogy of other races one object 
of the rite would seem to be to keep in the soul which is 
likely to depart at such a crisis in life as marriage. Thus, 
" in Celebes they think that a bridegroom's soul is apt to 
fly away at marriage, so coloured rice is scattered over him 
to induce it to stay. And, in general, at festivals in South 
Celebes rice is strewed on the head of the person in whose 
honour the festival is held, with the object of retaining his 
soul, which at such times is in especial danger of being lured 
away by envious demons." ^ 

This rite appears widely in Indian marriage customs. 
Among the Mh^rs of Khindesh, on the bridegroom approach- 
ing the bride's house, a piece of bread is waved round his 
head and thrown away.' In a Kunbi's wedding a ball of 
rice is waved round the boy's head and thrown away, and 
at the lucky moment grains of rice are thrown over the 
couple. Among the Telang Nhivis of Bijaypur the chief 
marriage rite is that the priest throws rice over the boy and 
girl. The grain acquires special efficacy if it be either 
parched, and thus purified by fire, or if it be stained in some 
lucky or demon-scaring colour.* Thus, in Upper India 
grain parched with a special rite is thrown over the pair as 
they revolve round the marriage shed, and this function is, 
if possible, performed by the brother of the bride. Rice 
stained yellow with turmeric is very often used for this 
purpose. Another device is to make a pile of rice, with a 

» Brand, " Observations," 355. * Frazer, " Golden Bough," L 125. 

» "Bombay Gaietteer," xii. 117. * Campbell, " Notes,'* 95. 

The Evil Eyb and the Scaring of Ghosts, vj 

knot of turmeric and a copper coin concealed in it. This 
at a particular stage of the service the bride knocks down 
with her foot. The Lodhis of the Dakkhin» in the same 
way, put a pile of rice at the door of the boy's house, which 
he upsets with his foot. All through Northern India the 
exerciser shakes grain in a fan, which is, as we shall see, a 
potent fetish, and by the number of grains which remain in 
the interstices calculates which particular ghost is worrying 
the patient. On the same principle the Or&ons put rice in 
the mouth of the corpse, and the Koiris, when they marry, 
walk round a pile of water-pots and scatter rice on the 
ground.^ The custom of sprinkling grain at marriage 
appears in many of the folk-tales. 


We are familiar in Roman literature with the use of beans 
at funerals, and at the Lemuria thrice every other night to 
pacify the ghosts of the dead beans were flung on the fire of -^ 
the altar to drive the spirits out of the house. The same 
idea appears in the Carlings or fried peas given away and 
eaten on the Sunday before Palm Sunday.' No special 
sanctity appears to apply to the pea or bean in India, but 
they are replaced by the Urad pulse, which is much used in 
rites of all kind, and especially in magic, when it is thrown 
over the head of the person whom the magician wishes to 
bring under his control." 


Barley, another sacred grain, is rubbed over the corpse of 
a Hindu and sprinkled on the head before the cremation rite 
is performed. So, the Or&ons throw rice on the urn as they 
take it to the tomb, and sprinkle grain on the ground behind 
the bones to keep the, spirit from coming back.* 

1 Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 261, 321. 
« Brand, " Observations,'' 58. 
• Hartland, " Legend of Perseus," ii. 289. 
^ Dalton, loc, cit.^ 261. 


28 Folk-lore OF Northern India. 


Til or black sesamum, again, has certain qualities of the 
same kind. Hence it is used in the funeral rites, and in 
form of Tilanjall or a handful mixed with water is one of 
the offerings to the sainted dead, and made up in the form 
of a cow, called Tiladhenu, it is presented to Brdhmans. 


Most grains in the ear have also mystic uses. It is hung 
up over the house door to repel evil spirits, and in Hos- 
hang&bid they tie a sheaf of com on a pole and fasten it to 
the cattle shed as a preservative.* The combination of 
seven kinds of grain, known as Satnaja, is an ingredient in 
numerous charms and is used in many forms of worship. 


So with the products of the sacred cow, which are, as 
might have been expected, most valuable for this purpose. 
Hence the use of Ghilor or clarified butter in the public and 
domestic ritual. Milk for the same reason is used in offer- 
ings and sprinkled on the ground as an oblation. Cow- 
dung, in particular, is regarded as efficacious. After the 
death or birth impurity the house is carefully plastered with 
a mixture of cowdung and clay. No cooking place is pure 
without it, and the corpse is cremated with cakes of cow- 
dung fuel. Even the urine of the cow is valued as a 
medicine and a purificant. The cow guards the house from 
evil, and every rich man keeps a cow so that»his glance may 
£all on her when he wakes from sleep, and he regards her as 
the guardian of the household. 


Colours, again, are scarers of evil spirits. They particu- 
larly dread yellow, black, red, and white. The belief in the 
efficacy of yellow accounts for the use of turmeric in the 

* " Settlement Report,'* 274. 

The Evil Eye and the^Sqaring of Ghosts. 29 

domestic ritual.^ A few days befcnre the marriage rites 
commence the bride and bridegroom\are anointed with a 
mixture of oil and turmeric known aft Abtan. The bride 
assumes a robe dyed in turmeric, which she wears until the 
wedding. The marriage letter of invitation is coloured 
with turmeric, and splashes of it are nulde on the wall and 
worshipped by the married pain In tKe old times the woman 
who performed Satt, and nowadays married women who 
die, are taken to the pyre wrapp^ in a shroud dyed wit$ 
turmeric. The corpse is very,>drten smeared with turmeric 
before cremation, a custom/^hich is not peculiar to the so- 
called Aryan Hindus, beause it prevails among the Th&rus, 
one of the most primitive tribes of the sub-Himilayan 
forests. The same principle probably explains the use of 
yellow clothes by certain classes of ascetics, and of Chandan 
or sandal-wood in making caste marks and for various cere- 
monial purposes. 

Yellow and red are the usual colours of marriage garments, 
and the parting of the bride's hair is stained with vermilion, 
though here the practice is probably based on the symbolical 
belief in the Blood Covenant. The same idea is probably 
the explanation of the flinging of red powder and water 
coloured with turmeric at the Holt or spring festival 

Black, again, is feared by evil spirits, and the husbandman 
hangs a black pot in his field to scare spirits and evade the 
Evil Eye, and young women and children have their eyelids 
marked with lampblack. In the Mirzapur Baiga's sacrifice 
the black fowl or the black goat is the favourite victim, and 
charcoal is valued, some put into the milk as a preservative 
and some buried under the threshold to guard the household 
from harm. 


For the same reason various kinds of grass are considered 
sacred, such as the Kusa, the Ddrva, the Darbha. Among the 
Prabhus of Bombay juice of the Ddrva grass is poured into 
the left nostril of a woman when the pregnancy and coming 

* " North Indian Notes and Queries," ii. 29. 

30 Folk-lore of Northern India, 

of age rites are performed, and the Kanaujiya Br&hman 
husband drops some of the juice down her nose when she 
reaches maturity,* The Sholapur Mings when they come 
back from the grave strew some Hariyili grass and Ntm 
leaves on the place where the deceased died. The Miinj 
grass is also sacred, and a thread made of it is worn at one 
stage of the Brahman's life. Some of these sacred grasses 
form an important ingredient in the Srdddha offerings to 
the sacred dead, some are used in the marriage and crema- 
tion ritual, on some the dsring man is laid at the moment of 
dissolution. They are potent to avert the Evil Eye, and 
hence the mother of R&ma and Lakshmana, when she looks 
at them, breaks a blade of grass.^ 


Next come special marks made on the body. Such are 
the marks branded on various parts of their bodies by many 
classes of ascetics, and the caste marks made in clay or 
ashes by most high-class Hindus. It has been suggested 
that many of these marks are of totemistic origin. That 
this is so among races beyond the Indian border is almost 
certainly the case.' But though tattooing, a widespread 
practice of the Indian people, very possibly originated in 
totemism, still, as far as has hitherto been ascertained, no 
distinct trace remains of a tribal tattoo, and it is safer at 
present to class marks of this kind in the general category 
of devices to repel evil spirits. Among purely sectarial 
marks we have the forehead mark of the Saivas, composed 
of three curved lines like a half-moon, to which is added a 
round mark on the nose ; it is made with the clay of the 
Ganges, or with sandal-wood, or the ashes of cowdung, the 
ashes being supposed to represent the disintegrating force 
of the deity. The mark of the Vaishnavas is in the form of 
the foot of Vishnu, and consists of two lines rather oval 
drawn the whole length of the nose and carried forward in 

1 Campbell, " Notes," 92. - Growse, " RAmiyana," 99. 

» Frazer, " Totemism,'' 26 sq. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 3x 

straight lines across the forehead. It is generally mad& 
with the clay of the Ganges, sometimes with the powder of 
sandal-wood. The S&kta forehead mark is a small semi^ 
circular line between the eyebrows, with a dot in the middle. 

The practice of tattooing is common both among the- 
Aryan and Dr&vidian races, but is more general among the 
lower than the higher castes. Thus, the Ju4ng women 
tattoo themselves with three strokes on the forehead just 
over the nose, and three on each of the temples. They^ 
attach no meaning to the marks, have no ceremony in 
adopting them, and are ignorant of the origin of the practice. 
The Khariya women make three parallel marks on the- 
forehead, the outer lines terminating at the ends in a crooks 
and two on each temple. The Ho women tattoo themselves 
in the form of an arrow, which they regard as their national 
emblem. The Birhor women tattoo their chests, arms, and 
ankles, but not their faces. The Or4on women have three 
marks on the brow and two on each temple. The young 
men burn marks on their fore-arms as part of the ordeal 
ceremony ; girls, when adult, or nearly so, have themselves 
tattooed on the arms and back. The Kis&n women have^ 
no such marks ; if a female of the tribe indulges herself in. 
the vanity of having herself tattooed, she is at once turned 
adrift as having degraded herself. Here we may have some 
faint indications of a tribal tattoo, but among most of the 
tribes which practise the custom it has become purely 
protective or ornamental.* 

Among the Dr4vidian tribes of the North- Western Pro- 
vinces tattooing generally prevails. The Korwas and many 
other of these tribes get their women tattooed by a woman 
of the Bidi sub-division of Nats. They are tattooed only 
on the breast and arms, not on the thighs. There are no 
ceremonies connected with it, nor any special pattern. Any 
girl gets herself tattdoed in any figure she approves for a 
small sum. Well-to-do women always get it done ; but if a 
woman is not tatooed, it is not considered unlucky. The, 

1 Oalton, "Descriptive Ethnology," 157, 161, 191, 219, 251. 

32 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

men of the tribe are not tattooed. The Ghasiya women 
tattoo themselves on the breasts, arms, thighs, and feet. 
They say that when a woman dies who is not tattooed, the 
Great Lord Parameswar is displeased and turns her ouit of 
heaven, or has her branded with the thorn of the acacia. 
In the same way among the Cham^rs, when a woman who 
has not been tattooed dies, Parameswar asks her where are 
the marks and signs which she ought to possess to show 
that she had lived in the world. If she cannot show them, 
she will in her next birth be re-born as a Bhfitni, Pretni, or 

At present among low-caste women the process of tattoo- 
ing is regarded as a species of initiation, and usually marks 
the attainment of puberty. It thus corresponds with the rite 
of ear-piercing among males. To the east of the North- 
West Provinces a girl is not allowed to cook until she is 
tattooed with a mark representing the Siti ki Rasoi or cook- 
house of Sltd, and in Bengal high-caste people will not drink 
from the hands of a girl who does not wear the Ullikhi or 
star-shaped tattoo mark between her eyebrows. A Chamdr 
woman who is not tattooed at marriage will not, it is 
believed, see her father and mother in the next world. This 
reminds us of the idea prevalent in Fiji, that women who 
are not tattooed are liable to special punishment in the land 
of the dead.^ In Bombay the custom has been provided 
with a Brdhmanical legend. One day Lakshml, the wife 
of Vishnu, told her husband that whenever he went out on 
business or to visit his devotees she became frightened. 
Hearing this, Vishnu took his weapons and stamped them 
on her body, saying that the marks of his weapons would 
save her from evil. 

Hence women in Bombay tattoo themselves with the 
figures of the lotus, conch shell, and discus, and from this 
the present custom is said to have originated.^ 

In Upper India the forms of the tattoo marks fall into 

1 Bholanith Chandra, ** Travels of a Hindu," i. 326 ; " Panjdb Notes 
and Queries," i. 27, 99 ; Farrer, ** Primitive Manners," 125. 
» Campbell, " Notes,'* p. 134. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 33 

various classes. Some are rude or conventionalized represen- 
tations of animals, plants, and flowers. The operators carry 
round with them sketches of the different kinds of ornament, 
and the girl selects these according to taste. The peacock, 
the horse, the serpent, the scorpion, tortoise, centipede, 
appear constantly in various forms. Others, again, are 
representations of jewellery actually worn — necklaces, 
bracelets, armlets, or rings. Others, again, are purely 
religious, such as the trident or matted hair of Siva, the 
weapons of Vishnu, and the cooking house of SIt4, the type 
of wifely virtue. Some of these marks were probably of 
totemistic origin, but they have now become merely oma- 
mentative, as was the case in Central Asia in the time of 
Marco Polo, where they were regarded only as " a piece of 
elegance or a sign of gentility," and among the Thracians, 
as described by Herodotus.' It may be noticed that in the 
time of Marco Polo people used to go from Upper India to 
Zayton in China to be tattooed." These animal forms of 
tattooing are found also among the DrAvidian tribes of the 
Central Provinces, where the forms used are a peacock, an 
antelope, or a dagger, and the marks are made on the back 
of the thighs and legs. In Bengal tattooing is used as a 
cure for goitre.' 

We may close this long catalogue of devices intended to 
scare spirits, with a number of miscellaneous examples. 

It seems to be a well-established principle that evil spirits 
fear leather. On this is perhaps based the idea of the shoe 
being a mode of repelling the Evil Eye and the influence of 
demons. We find this constantly appearing in the folk-lore 
of the West. Thus, the Highlanders paid particular attention 
to the leaving of the bridegroom's left shoe without buckle 
or latchet, to prevent the secret influences of witches on the 
wedding night.* And Hudibras tells how — 

» Yule, "Marco Polo," ii. 69, 99; Herodotus, v. 6 ; and for the Dacians, 
Pliny, ** Natural History," vii. 10; xxii. 2. 

» Loc, city ii. 218. 

' Hislop, " Papers," ii., note ; Risley, " Tribes and Castes," i. 292. 

* Brand, " Observations," 399. For the Indian versions of Cinderella 
and her shoe, sec " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 102, 121. 


34 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Augustus having by oversight 
Put on his left shoe 'fore his right, 
Had like to have been slain that day 
By soldiers mutinying for pay." 

Maidens in Europe ascertain whether they will be married 
and who will be their future husbands by throwing the 
slipper at the new year. The throwing of old shoes at an 
English wedding seems on the same principle to be based 
on the idea of scaring the demon of barrenness. According 
to Mr. Hartland,* the gipsies of Transylvania throw old 
shoes and boots on a newly married pair when they enter 
their tent, expressly to enhance the fertility of the union. 

In the same way in India, people who are too poor to 
afford another protective place on the top of their houses a 
shoe heel upwards. This seems to give some additional 
efficacy to the charm, because we find the same rule in force 
elsewhere. Thus, in Cornwall, a slipper with the point 
turned up placed near the bed cures cramp.' In P(!lna, if a 
man feels that he has been struck by an incantation, he at 
once takes hold of an upturned shoe.' 

The fear which spirits feel for leather is also illustrated 
by the procedure of the Dr^vidian Baiga, who flagellates 
people suffering from demoniacal possession with a tawse or 
leathern strap. In the Dakkhin a person troubled with 
nightmare sleeps with a shoe under his pillow, and an 
exorcist frightens evil spirits by threatening to make them 
drink water from a tanner's well. We shall see that this is 
one way of punishing and repelling the power of witches. 
The PClna Kunbis believe that a drink of water from a 
tanner's hand destroys the power of a witch. In the Panjib, 
if a man sits on a currier's stone, he gets boils.* The same 
principle probably accounts for much of the fear or contempt 
generally felt in India regarding shoe-beating as a form of 
punishment. At the same time it is said in Persia and 
Arabia that the dread of a flagellation with the slipper is 

1 " Legend of Perseus/' i. 171. 

^ Hunt, " Popular Romances," 409. ' Campbell, " Notes," 105. 

-* " North Indian Notes and Queries,*' i. 86. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 35 

based on the idea that while a flogging with the regular 
scourge involves little discredit, a beating with an)rthing not 
originally intended for the purpose, such as a shoe or 
knotted cloth, is disgraceful. 

The same feeling for the power of leather possibly explains 
the use as a seat of various kinds of skins, such as those of 
the tiger and antelope, by many kinds of ascetics, and in the 
old ritual the wife with her husband sat on the hide of a 
bull to promote the fertility of their union. 


Garlic, again, from its pungency, is valued in the same 
way. Garlic was one of the substances used by Danish 
mothers to keep evil from children.* The Swedish bride- 
groom sews in his clothes garlic, cloves, and rosemary. 
Garlic was an early English cure for a fiend-struck patient. ' 
Juvenal said that the Egyptians had gods growing in their 
gardens, in allusion to their reverence for onions or garlic. 
In Sanskrit garlic is called Mlechha-kanda, " the foreigner's 
root," and its virtues for the removal of demons are so well 
known that it will be oflen seen hung from the lintel of the 
house door. The same idea may account for the very 
common prejudice among some castes against eating 


Glass in the form of beads, which seem to derive some of 
their efficacy from being perforated, is also very useful in 
this way. Mirrors from time immemorial have been held to 
possess the same quality. ** Fascinators, like basilisks, had 
their own terrible glance turned against them if they saw 
themselves reflected," " Si on luy presenie un miror^ par 
endardement reciproque, ces rayons retournent sur r autheur 
d' tceuxJ* Philostratus declares that if a mirror be held 
before a sleeping man during a hail or thunder-storm, the 
storm will cease.' Hence women in India wear mirrors in 

^ Brand, "Observations," 335. 

' Campbell, "Notes," 91, quoting Chambers, ** Book of Days,'* 720. 

* Leland, " Etruscan Roman Remains," 93. 

D 2 

36 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

their thumb rings, and the jatni covers her sheet with little 
pieces of shining glass. 

Pieces of horn, especially that which is said to come from 
the jackal, and that of the antelope, are also efficacious. 
The bizir Banya treasures up the gaudy labels from his 
cloth bales for the same purpose. Garlands of flowers 
possess the same quality, and so do various fruits, such as 
dates, cocoanuts, betel-nuts, and plantains, which are placed 
in the lap of the bride or pregnant woman to scare the evil 
spirits which cause barrenness, and sugar is distributed at 
marriages. The bones of the camel are very useful for 
driving off insects from a sugar-cane field, and buried under 
the threshold keep ghosts out of the house. Pliny says that 
a bracelet of camel's hair keeps off fever.* 

Lastly, the demon may be trapped by physical means. 
" To be delivered from witches they hang in their entries 
whitethorn gathered on May Day."' So, many of the 
menial castes in the North- West Provinces keep a net and 
some thorns in the delivery room to scare evil spirits. 

There are certain persons who are naturally protected 
from the Evil Eye and demoniacal agency, or who have 
control over evil spirits. Such is a man born by 
the foot presentation, who can cure rheumatism and 
various other diseases by merely rubbing the part 
affected. Men with double thumbs are considered safe 
against the Evil Eye, and so is a bald man, apparently 
because no one thinks it worth his while to envy such 
people. According to English belief, children born after 
midnight have power all through their lives of seeing the 
spirits of the departed. In India, people who are born 
within the period of the Salono festival in August are not 
only protected from, but possess the power of casting, the 
Evil Eye. The same is the case of those who have acci- 
dentally eaten ordure in childhood. We have already 
noticed the mystic power of cowdung. Dung generally is 

1 ** Pani&b Notes and Queries," iv. 132 ; Campbell, * Notes," 284. 
» Brand, ** Observations," 121. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 37 

offensive to spirits. It was believed in Europe that horse- 
dung placed before the house or behind the door brought 
good luck.^ Women who eat dung possess, as we shall see, 
the power of witchcraft. 

A man with only one eye is dreaded because he is 
naturally envious of those with good sight, and he is prover- 
bially a scoundrel. The giant with one eye is familiar in 
folk-lore, and he is generally vicious and malignant. We 
have the black man of Celtic folk-lore who has only one eye 
and one leg.' In the Irish tales Crinnaur, like the Cyclopes, 
has only one eye. Sindbad in his third voyage encounters 
a monster of the same kind. Laplanders have a one-eyed 
giant Stalo, and in one of the modern versions of the Perseus 
myth there are two hags who have only a single eye 
between them. The same idea appears in Indian folk-lore. 
The planet Sukra is said to have only one eye. Such was 
also the case with the monster Kabandha, who was killed > 
by R&ma, and Ar4yi, the female fiend of the Veda. The 
one-eyed devil appears in one of the Kashmir tales.' 

GoNDs: Procedure in Cases of Fascination. 

The Gonds have a special procedure in cases of deaths 
which they believe to have occurred through fascination. 
The burning of the body is postponed till it is made to point 
out the delinquent. The relations solemnly call upon the 
corpse to do this, and the theory is that if there has been 
foul play of any kind, the body on being taken up, will force 
the bearers to convey it to the house of the person by whom 
the spell was cast. If this be three times repeated, the 
owner of the house is condemned, his property is destroyed, 
and he is expelled from the neighbourhood.* 

In ordinary cases most people find it advisable to carry an 

^ Brand, " Observations," 598. 

' Rhys, " Lectures," 348 ; Miss Cox, " Cinderella,*' 489 ; Grimm, 
" Household Tales," ii. 429 ; Hartland, " Legend of Perseus," i. 12. 
» Knowles, " Folk-lore of Kashmir," 333. 
* Dalton, *' Descriptive Ethnology,'* 283. 

38 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

amulet of some kind as a preservative. An amulet is pri- 
marily a portion of a dead man or animal, by which hostile 
spirits are coerced or their good offices secured.^ The 
amulet, then, in its original sense, is supposed to concen- 
trate in itself the virtues and powers of the man or animal of 
which it formed a part. Hence the claws of the tiger, which 
represent in themselves the innate strength and bravery of 
the animal, are greatly esteemed for this purpose, and the 
sportsman, when he shoots a tiger, has to count over the 
claws carefully to the coolies in charge of the dead animal, 
or they will certainly misappropriate them. In the same 
way a portion of the umbilical cord is placed among the 
clothes of the mother and infant to avert the Evil Eye and 
scare the demons which are then particularly active. 

Mr. Ferguson may be correct in his opinion that in India, 
prior to the distribution of the remains of the Buddha at 
Kusinagara, we have no historical record of the worship of 
relics ; * still the idea must have prevailed widely among the 
Hindu races, out of whom the votaries of the new faith were 
recruited. With some of these relics of the Buddha, such 
as his begging bowl, which was long kept in a Dagoba or 
Vih^ra erected by King Kanishka, then removed for a time 
to Benares, and finally to Kandahar, where it is now held in 
the highest respect by Musalm^ns, and has accumulated 
round it a cycle of legends like those connected with the 
Sangrail, we reach the zone of pure fetishism. 

Another form of amulet is a piece of metal, stone, bone, 
or similar substance worn on the person, with an invocation 
inscribed on it to some special god. These are very com- 
monly used among Muhammadans. By Hindus the 
" Yantras or mystic diagrams are thought to be quite as 
effectiye in their operation as the Mantras or spells, and, of 
course, a combination of the two is held to be absolutely 
irresistible. An enemy may be killed or removed to some 
other place, or a whole army destroyed, or salvation and 

^ Spencer, ** Principles of Sociology " i. 254, note, 301. 
'*' History of Indian Architecture," 57 sqq. ; Cunningham, "Archaeo- 
logical Reports," ii. 87 ; xvi. 8 sqq. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 39 

supreme felicity obtained by drawing a six-sided or eight- 
sided diagram and writing a particular Mantra underneath. 
If this be done with the blood of an animal killed sacrificially 
in a SmasAna or place where corpses are burned, no power 
in earth or heaven can resist the terrific potency of the 
charm.'* * On the same principle Hindus head their letters 
with the words Sri Rdmjtl " the great god, Rima," or the 
figures 74, of which one not very probable explanation is 
that they represent the weight in maunds of the gold orna- 
ments taken from the R&jput dead at the famous siege of 

The equilateral triangle is another favourite mystic sign. 
According to the Christian ideas, the figure of three triangles 
intersected and containing five lines, is called the pentangle 
of Solomon, and when it is delineated on the body of a man, 
it marks the five places in which our Saviour was wounded ; 
it was, therefore, regarded as ^fuga demonum^ or a means of 
frightening demons.' Similarly in Northern India, the 
equilateral triangle is regarded as a mystic sign, and the 
little broadcloth bags hung round the necks of children to 
avert the Evil Eye are made in this shape. The diamond 
shape is also approved because it contains two equilateral 
triangles base to base. 

Another form of mystic sign is the mark of the spread 
hand with the fingers extended. This is made by the women 
of the family on the outer wall and round the door-post, and 
is considered to be particularly efficacious. Mr. Campbell 
suggests that the custom is based on the belief in the hand 
being a spirit entry.* Natives will tell you that it is because 
the number five, that of the fingers, is lucky. However this 
may be, the custom is very generally prevalent. The Bloody 
Hand of Ulster, worn as a crest by the Baronets of one 
creation, is well known.^ The Uchlas of Piina strew sand 
on the spot where the dead man breathed his last. They 
cover the spot with a basket, which they raise next morning 

^ Monier- Williams, " Brahmanism and Hinduism/' 203. 

» Aubrey, ** Remaines," 57. ' ** Notes," 177. 

* Westropp, " Primitive Symbolism,*' 58 sqq., 61 sqq. 

40 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

in the hope of finding the mark of a palm, which shows that 
the dead is pleased and brings vigour on the family ; and 
the Thikurs on the fifth day after the birth of a child dip a 
hand in red powder and water and make a mark on the wall 
of the lying-in room, which they worship.' At the rock-cut 
temple of Tilok Sendur in Hoshangdbdd, an annual festival 
is held, and those who come to demand any special benefit, 
such as health or children, mark their vow by staining their 
hand dipped in red paint against the rock wall, fingers 
upward. If the prayer be heard, they revisit the place and 
make the same mark, this time with the fingers downward ; 
but whether Mahideva is not gracious to his votaries, or 
whether it is that the sense of favours to come is not keen 
enough after the prayer of the moment has been granted, 
the hand-stamps pointing downwards are not a tenth in 
number of those pointing upwards.' The stamping of the 
hand and five fingers immersed in a solution of sandal-wood 
has always been regarded as a peculiarly solemn mode of 
attesting an important document, and it is said that 
Muhammad himself adopted this practice.'^ 

There are numerous varieties of these protective amulets. 
One purpose which they serve is the procuring of offspring. 
Children naturally require special protection. Thus, the 
Mirzapur Korwas tie on the necks of their children roots of 
various jungle plants, such as the Siy^r Singht, which owes 
its name and repute to its resemblance to the so-called horn 
of the jackal. In cases of disease the Kharwdrs wear leaves 
of the Bel, a sacred tree, cloves and flowers selected by a 
BrAhman. In the Konkan, in order that a child may not 
suffer from the Evil Eye, a necklace of marking nuts is put 
round its neck.'* The GAjars of Haz^ra hang the berries of 
the Batkar tree [Celtis caucasid) round the necks of men and 
animals to protect them from the Evil Eye.' The pious 
Musalmdn inscribes on his amulet the five verses known as 

* ** Bombay Gazetteer," xviii. 473, 426. 

2 ** Settlement Report," 59 sqq. 

' Tod, "Annals,** i. 383, note, 411, note. 

< Campbell, "Notes/* 251. 

' " Panjilb Notes and Queries,** ii. 44. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 41 

Aydtu-l-Hife or " verses of protection," or he makes a magic 
square with the letters making up the word H&fiz, *' the 
protector." Many village Musalm&ns use little stone or 
glass tablets for the same purpose. Some have a hocus- 
pocus inscription purporting to be a verse of the Qurdn in 
Arabic ; others have the name of Fitima coupled with that 
of the famous martyrs Hasan and Husain. Another amulet 
of a very elaborate character is described as containing a 
piece of the umbilical cord encased in metal, a tiger's claw, 
two claws of the large horned owl turned in opposite direc- 
tions, aiid encased in metal, a stone known as the Athrihi k& 
manki, because it has the property of turning eight colours 
according to the light in which it is placed (probably a 
tourmaline or quartzose pebble), and a special Evil Eye 
destroyer in the shape of a jasper or marble bead. These 
five articles are necessaries, but as an extra precaution the 
amulet contained some crude gold, a whorled shell, an 
ancient copper coin, some ashes from the fire of a Jogi 
ascetic, and the five ingredients of the sacred incense. The 
owner admitted that it would have been improved had it 
also contained a magic square.^ This reminds us of the 
necklace of amber beads hung round the neck of Scotch 
children to keep off ill-luck, and the Irish scapular, a piece of 
cloth on which the name of the Virgin Mary is written on 
one side, and I.H.S. on the other, which are preservatives 
against evil spirits. In old times in England such charms 
were called Characts, and one found with a criminal 
contained an invocation to the three holy kings, Caspar, 
Melchior and Balthasar.' 

One of the most valuable of these protectives is the magic 
circle, which appears in various forms through the whole 
range of folk-lore. The idea is that no evil spirit can cross 
the sacred line. Thus, in Mirzapur they make a circle of 
grain round the circular pile of com on the threshing-floor 
to guard it from evil. Among some castes the circle round 

^ " Panjib Notes and Queries," iii. 186. 

» " Folk-lore," ii. 75 ; Lady Wilde, ** Legends,'* no; Brand, " Obscrva- 
tions," 754. 

42 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

which the bride and bridegroom revolve at marriage is 
guarded by a circular line of string hung on the necks of a 
number of water-pots surrounding it We have seen how 
the Baiga perambulates his village and drops a line of spirits 
round the boundary to repel foreign ghosts. This accounts 
for the stone circles which are found both in Europe and in 
India, and in Ireland are considered to be the resort of the 

We have constant references to the same custom in the 
folk-tales. Lakshmana, in the Rimayana, draws such a 
circle round Sit4 when he is obliged to leave her alone. 
We have many references to the circle within which the 
ascetic or magician sits when he is performing his sorceries. 
Thus, in the story of Nischayadatta, the ascetics " quickly 
made a great circle with ashes, and entering into it, they 
lighted a fire with fuel, and all remained there muttering a 
charm to protect themselves." In the tales of the Vetila, 
we find the mendicant under a banyan tree engaged in 
making a circle, and Ksantisila makes a circle of the yellow 
powder of bones, the ground within which was smeared 
with blood, and which had pitchers of blood placed in the 
direction of the cardinal points.^ 

The same idea appears in the magic circle used as an 
ordeal, or to compel payment of a debt. Thus, we read in 
Marco Polo : ' " If a debtor have been several times asked 
by his creditor for payment and shall have put him off day 
by day with promises, then if the creditor once meet the 
debtor and succeed in drawing a circle round him, the latter 
must not pass out of this circle until he shall have satisfied 
the claim, or given security for its discharge. If he in any 
other case presume to pass the circle, he is punished with 
death, as a transgressor against right and justice." In 
Northern India this circle is known as a Gururu or Gaurua, 
and a person who takes an oath stands within it, or takes 
from inside an article which he claims. In one form of this 
ceremony the circle is made on the ground with calf's dung 

1 Lady Wilde, loc, ciL^ 79. 

3 Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sdgara," i. 337; ii. 233, 358. » ii. 279. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 43 

by an unmarried girl, and in the centre is placed a vessel of 
water. If money is in dispute, the amount claimed is placed 
in the water vessel by the defendant. The narrator tells a 
story to prove the efficacy of the rite : — 

''My father owed a Kalw4r one rupee and the Kalwir 
claimed five. The matter was brought before the tribal 
council, and the Kalw&r swore to the five rupees upon the 
Gaurua. Within an hour his boy, while playing behind the 
house, was carried off by a wolf. He was rescued, but he 
was under the curse of the Gaurua, and shortly after he put 
his finger into a rat hole, was bitten by a snake, and died 
within the hour." * 

The Ring, Bracelet, and Knotted Cord. 

From the same principle arises the belief in the magic 
virtue of the ring, the bracelet, and the knotted cord. 

To begin with rings — ^we have in Plato the story of Gyges, 
who by means of the ring of invisibility introduced himself 
to the wife of Candaules, King of Lycia, murdered the latter 
and got possession of his kingdom. This is like the cloak 
or cap which appears so constantly in folk-lore. In the 
Indian tales invisibility is generally obtained by means of 
a magic ointment, to which there are many parallels in 
Western stories. We find also the magic ring, which, like 
that of Ala-ud-din, when touched procures the presence and 
aid of the demons. A woman's nose-ring in India has 
special respect paid to it, and for a stranger even to mention 
it is a breach of delicacy.^ It is the symbol of married 
happiness, and is removed when the wearer becomes a 
widow. Among Muhammadans, Shiah women remove 
their nose-rings during the Muharram as a sign of mourn- 
ing. There was an old habit in England of marrying by 
the rush ring, "but it was chiefly practised by designing 
men, for the purpose of debauching their mistresses, who 
sometimes were so infatuated as to believe that this mock 

^ ** North Indian Notes and Queries,*' i. 61. 

^ Tod, "Annals/' i. 457; " North Indian Notes and Queries," i, 169. 

44 Folk-lore of Northern India, 

ceremony was a real marriage.^ In the same way in India 
a ring of Kusa grass is put on the finger during the most 
sacred rites and at marriage. The custom appears in the 
folk-tales. The ring represents an imperishable bond 
between the giver and the receiver, and is a symbol of the 
original blood covenant, which is an important element in 
the belief of all primitive people. ' 

The idea of the magic ring constantly appears in folk- 
lore. Thus, we have the ring placed in a sacred square 
and sprinkled with butter-milk, which immediately gives 
whatever the owner demands. In one of the Kashmir 
tales the merchant's son speaks to the magic ring, and 
immediately a beautiful house and a lovely woman with 
golden hair appeared.^ So, in the tales of Somadeva, 
Sridatta places a ring on the finger of the unconscious 
princess and she immediately revives ; the disloyal wife 
here, as in the "Arabian Nights," takes a ring from each 
of her lovers as a token.* 

The same idea attaches to the bracelet, which is in close 
connection with the soul of the wearer. Such is the Chan- 
danhir or sandal-wood necklace of Chandan Raja, and 
Sodewa Bit is born with a golden necklace round her neck, 
concerning which her. parents consulted the astrologers. 
They announced, " This is no common child ; the necklace 
of gold about your daughter's neck contains your daughter's 
soul. Let it, therefore, be guarded with the utmost care ; 
for if it were taken off and worn by another person, she 
would die." * The same idea appears in the Kashmir tales, 
where Panj Ph6l refuses to give up her necklace, as "it 
contains the secret of her life, and was a charm to her 
against all dangers, sickness and trials ; deprived of it she 
might become sick and miserable, or be taken away from 

* Brand, " Observations," 359. 

3 Trumbull, " Blood Covenant," 65 ; Lubbock, " Origin of Civilization," 
25; Tylor, "Early History," 128 sq.; Jones, "Finger-ring Lore,** 
91 sqq. 

» Knowles, " Folk-tales," 23. 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 61 ; ii. 80; Lane, "Arabian 
Nights," i.9. 

* Miss Frere, " Old Deccan Days," 230, 236. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 45 

them and die." ^ All this is based on the conception of the 
external soul, to which reference has been already made. 
The Mils of BirbhAm exchange necklaces at marriages, 
and the Princess Kalingaseni wears a bracelet and necklace 
of lotus fibre to secure relief from the pains of love.' 

The same idea shows itself in the use of strings and knots. 
In Northern India a piece of bat's bone is tied round the 
ankle as a remedy for rheumatism, and answers to the eel- 
skin, which is used for the same purpose in Europe.' In 
the Shetland Islands, to cure a sprain, a thread of black 
wool with nine knots is tied on the injured place with a 
metrical spell.^ An Italian charm says : " Take from a live 
hare the ankle bone, remove the hair from his belly, from 
the hair make a thread, and with it tie the bone to the body 
of the sufferer, and you will see a wonderful cure."* In 
Ireland a strand of black wool is tied round the ankle, and 
a charm is recited to cure a sprain; a red string is tied 
round a child's neck in chincough and epilepsy.* In 
Hoshangibid a thread is tied round the ankle as a remedy 
in fever. If possible, a bit of Ashtara root should be fastened 
in the knot, and before tying it an oblation of butter is burnt 
before it.' Similarly, a peacock's feather tied on the ankle 
cures a wound. In the Panjib, it is a charm against snake- 
bite to smoke one of the tail feathers of the peacock in a 
tobacco pipe.* The Rijput father binds round the arm of 
his new-bom infant a root of that species of grass known 
as the AmardAb or " imperishable " Diib, well known for 
its nutritive qualities and luxuriant vegetation, in the same 
way as Scotch women wear round their necks blue woollen 
threads or small cords till they wean their children.' We 

^ Knowles, " Folk-tales," 467. 

' Risley, " Tribes and Castes,'* ii. 49 ; Tawney, ioc. ctf; i. 300. 
' Henderson, ** Folk-lore of Northern Counties,'* 155 ; Gregor, " Folk- 
lore of North-East Scotland," 145. 
■• " Notes and Queries,'* i. scr. iv. 500. 
^ Leland, '* Etruscan Roman Remains/' 259. 

• Lady V^ilde, " Legends," 195. 197, 199. 
7 •* Settlement Report," 278, 286. 

• " North Indian Notes and Queries," i. 1 5. 

• Tod, ** Annals," i. 415; Henderson, ** Folk-lore of the Northern 
Counties," 20. 


46 Folk-lore of Northern India, 

have already noticed the efificacy of various grasses as spirit 

Lastly, the cord itself has powers in folk-lore, and we meet 
with the magic cord, which, tied round the neck of the hero 
by a witch, makes him turn into a ram or an ape.' 

The belief in the efficacy of the magic circle accounts for 
a variety of other customs. Thus, in a family sacrifice 
among the Chakmas of Bengal, round the whole sacrificial 
platform had been run, from the house mother's distaflf, a 
long white thread which encircled the altar, and then carried 
into the house, was held at the two ends by the good man's 
wife. Among the Haris, at marriages, the right hand little 
finger of the bridegroom's sister's husband is pierced, and a 
few drops of blood allowed to fall on threads of jute, which 
are rolled up in a tiny pellet. This the bridegroom holds in 
his hand, while the bride attempts to snatch it from him. 
Her success in the attempt is considered to be a good omen 
of the happiness of the marriage.* Here we have a survival 
of descent in the female line, the blood covenant, and the 
magic influence of the cord all combined. 

Connected with this is the belief in the forming a con- 
nection by knotting the magic string. We have the Euro- 
pean true love-knot, an emblem of fidelity between the pair 
betrothed. So in Italy interlaced serpents and all kinds of 
interweaving, braiding, and interlacing cords are valuable as 
protectives because they attract the eyes of witches.* Thus, 
among the Kirans of Bengal, the essential part of the 
marriage ceremony is believed to be the laying of the bride's 
right hand in that of the bridegroom, and binding their two 
hands together with a piece of string spun in a special 
way.* This belief in the mystjic power of knots is common ^ 
in all folk-lore** The clothes of the bride and bridegroom 

^ Knowles, "Folk-tales of Kashmir," 71; Tawney, '* Katha Sarit 
S&gara," i. 340. 
3 Risley, "Tribes and Castes," i. 173, 315. 
' Leland, "Etruscan Roman Remains," i68. 

* Risley, /oc, cit., i. 425,. 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sagara," i. 576, quoting Lenoimant, " Chal- 
dean Magic and Sorcery/' 141 j Ralston, "Songs of the Russian 
People," 288. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 47 

in Upper India are knotted together as they revolve round 
the sacred fire. A similar belief explains the wearing of the 
Janeft or sacred thread by high-caste Hindus. The knots 
on it, known as Brahma-granthi, or *'the knots of the 
Creator," repel evil influences, and Muhammadans on their 
birthdays tie knots in a cord, which is known as the S&lgi- 
rah or " year knot." 


Another device to avoid fascination or other dangerous 
influence is to cover the face so as to prevent the evil 
glance reaching the victim for whom it is intended. Thus, 
at widow marriages in Northern India, the bride and bride- 
groom are covered with a sheet during the rite, probably in 
order to avert the envious or malignant influence of the 
spirit of the woman's first husband. It is in secret that the 
bridegroom marks the parting of the bride's hair with 
vermilion. So in Bombay,* the Chitp4wan bride in one part 
of the wedding service has her head covered with a piece of 
broadcloth. The Ramoshis tie the ends of the bride's and 
bridegroom's robes to a cloth which four men of the family 
hold over them. The Dhors of PAna put a face-cloth on 
the dead, which is a general practice all over the world. 
The same belief is almost certainly at the root of much of 
the customs of Pardah and the seclusion of women. It is 
as much through fear of fascination as modesty that women 
draw their sheet across the face when they meet a stranger 
in the streets. We come across the same feeling in the 
rule by which all doors were closed when the princess in 
the "Arabian Nights" went to the bath, and when not 
long ago the Mikado of Japan and other Eastern potentates 
took their walks abroad. We thus reach by another route 
the cycle of Godiva legends.^ 


Closely connected with the class of ideas which we have 

» Campbell, " Notes," 60. 

« Harland, " Science of Fairy Tales," 79 sqq. 

48 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

been discussing is the belief in omens. This constitutes a 
very important branch of folk-lore both in the West and 
in the East. The success of a journey or enterprise is 
believed in a great measure to depend on the object which 
was first seen in the morning, or observed on the road at an 
early period of the march. Thus, according to Theophras- 
tus, " The superstitious man, if a weasel run across his 
path, will not pursue his walk until some one else has tra- 
versed the road, or until he has thrown three stones across 
it.*' And Sir Thomas Brown writes : " If an hare cross the 
highway, there are few above threescore years that are not 
perplexed thereat, which, notwithstanding, is but an augurial 
terror according to that received expression, Inauspicatum 
dat iter oblatus lepus. And the ground of the conceit was 
probably no greater than this, that a fearful animal passing 
by us portended unto us something to be feared ; as upon 
the like consideration, the meeting of a fox presaged some 
future imposture.'* 

Tulasi D^s, in his Ramdyana, sums up the favourable 
omens : — 

" On the left-hand side a blue-necked jay was picking up 
food, as if to announce the very highest good fortune ; on a 
fair field on the right were a crow and a mungoose in the 
sight of all ; a woman was seen with a pitcher and a child ; 
a fox showed himself winding about ; and in front a cow 
was suckling its calf; a herd of deer came out on the right ; 
a Br^hmani kite promised all success ; also a Syima bird 
perched on a tree to the left ; a man was met bearing 
curds, and two learned Brahmans with books in their 
hands.** » 

The face of a Teli or oilman, perhaps from the dirt which 
accompanies his business, is about the worst which can 
be seen in the early morning ; but, with the curious incon- 
sistency which crops up everywhere in phases of similar 
belief, that of a sweeper is lucky. His face should be always 
looked at first, but on meeting a Br&hman, the glance should 
start from his feet. 

* Growse, 146. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 49 

The Thags, like all criminal tribes of the present day, 
were great believers in what Dr. Tyler calls Angang or 
meeting omens.' With them, if a wolf crossed the path from 
right to left it was considered a bad omen ; if from right to 
left the import was uncertain. The call of the wolf was 
considered ominous ; if heard during the day, the gang had 
immediately to leave the neighbourhood. The same idea 
attached to a crow sitting silent on a tree, which is curiously 
in contradistinction to the Roman belief — Saepe sinistra 
cava praedixit ab ilice comix. It was also considered very 
unlucky if a member of the gang had his turban knocked off 
by accidentally touching a branch. 

The jungle tribes have a strong belief in such omens. 
The Korwas of Mirzapur abandon a journey if a jackal cross 
the road from the left, or if a little bird, known as the Suiya 
or small parrot, calls in the same direction. The Patdris and 
Majhwdrs return if the Nilg&fi cross the road from the right. 

All natives have more or less the same feeling, and 
scientific treatises have been written on the subject. Men- 
tioning a monkey in the morning brings starvation for the 
rest of the day; though looking on its face is considered 
lucky. Hence monkeys are commonly tied in stables to 
protect horses, and an old adage says that "the evil of 
the stable is on the monkey's head." So, in Morocco the 
wealthy Moors keep a wild boar in their stables, in order 
that the Jinn and evil spirits may be diverted from the 
horses and enter into the boar.^ For the same reason an 
English groom is fond of keeping a cat near his horses. 

If a dog flaps its ears and shakes its head while any 
business is going on, disaster is sure to follow, and people 
careful in such matters will stop the work if they can. The 
baying of a dog indicates death and misfortune, an idea 
common in British folk-lore.' 

The time when screech-owls cry and lean dogs howl, 
And spirits walk and ghosts break up their graves. 

1 "Primitive Culture," i. 120. 

2 Frazer, ** Golden Bough," ii. 151. 

» Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 48 ; Lady Wilde, 
*' Legends," 146 sqq. 


50 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Even the little house lizard is, like his kinsfolk, the " mur- 
dering basilisks, their softest touch as smart as lizard's 
stings," considered by the Beng&lis very unlucky, and when 
they hear its twittering they postpone a journey.' 

The hare is always a bad omen. He is a god among the 
Kalmucs, who call him Sakya Muni, or the Buddha, and 
say that on earth he allowed himself to be eaten by a starv- 
ing man, for which gracious act he was raised to domineer 
over the moon, where they profess to see him. There are 
traces of the same idea in Upper India.' The sites of many 
cities are said to have been founded where a hare crossed 
the path of the first settler. The hare is detested by the 
agricultural and fishing population of the Hebrides, and it 
is one of the ordinary disguises of the witch in European 

Black is, of course, unlucky, and if a man, when digging 
the foundations of a new house, turns up a piece of charcoal, 
it is advisable to change the site. 

Owls are naturally of evil omen. Even the stout-hearted 
Zklim Sinh, the famous regent of Kota, abandoned his house 
because an owl hooted on the roof.^ The hooting of the 
owl is a sign that the bird means to leave the place, and 
wise people would do well to follow his example. One kind 
of owl, the Raghui Chiraiya, learns people's names, and if 
any one by chance answer his call he is sure to die. 

To see a Dhobi, or washerman, who is associated with 
foul raiment, is exceedingly dangerous. I once had a bearer 
who was sadly afflicted because on tour he had to sleep in 
the same tent with a Dhobi. The old man was constantly 
bruising his shins over the ropes and pegs, because he was 
in the habit of stumbling out before dawn with his hands 

1 L41 Bihiri D6, " Govinda Simanta,** i. 12. 

2 Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," ii. 66. It has been suggested that 
the idea arose from the Sanskrit word sastn, meaning *' hare-marked " or 
" the moon " ; but this seems rather putting the cart before the horse. 
Conway, " Demonology,*' i. 125 ; Gubematis, "Zoological Mythology,** 
ii. 8 ; Aubrey, " Remaines ," 20, 109. 

» ** Bombay Gazetteer," vi. 126 ; Gregor, " Folk-lore of North-East 
Scotland,'' 128 ; Ladj^ Wilde, ** Legends," 179. 
* Tod, "Annals,*' li. 577 sq. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 51 

pressed over his eyes to protect himself from the sight of his 
ill-omened companion. 

A one-eyed man is, as we have already said, very unlucky. 
When Jaswant R&o Holkar lost one of his eyes, he said, " I 
was before bad enough ; but now I shall be the Guru, or 
preceptor, of rogues." * I once had an office clerk afflicted in 
this way, and his colleagues refused to sit in the same room 
with him, because their accounts always went wrong when 
he looked in their direction. When it was impossible to 
provide any other accommodation for him, they insisted that 
he should cover the obnoxious organ with a handkerchief 
when he had to work in their neighbourhood. 

One of the last of the Anglo-Indians, who had become 
thoroughly orientalized, used to insist on his valet, when he 
came to wake him, holding in his hand a tray containing 
some milk and a gold coin, so that his first glance on waking 
might fall on these lucky articles. 


There are mystic qualities attached to numbers. Thus, 
when Hindus have removed the ashes from a burning 
ground they write the figures 49 on the spot where the corpse 
was cremated. The Pandits explain this by saying that 
when written in Hindi the figures resemble the conch-shell 
and wheel of Vishnu, or that it is an invocation to the forty- 
nine winds of heaven to come and purify the ground. It is 
more probably based on the idea that the number seven, as 
is the case all over the world, has some mystic application. 
So in the folk-tales the number three has a special applica- 
tion to the tests of the hero who endures the assaults of 
demons or witches for three successive nights. The idea of 
luck in odd numbers is universal, and the seventh son of a 
seventh son is gifted with powers of healing. 

Bodily Functions. 

The functions of the body supply many omens. Thus, iia 

^ Malcolm, " Central India," i. 253, note. 
E 2 

52 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Somadeva we read : " My right eye throbbed frequently, as 
if with joy, and told me that it was none other than she." ^ 

" When our cheek burns, or ear tingles, we usually say 
some one is talking of us," writes Sir Thomas Brown, " a 
conceit of great antiquity, and ranked among superstitious 
opinions by Pliny. He supposes it to have proceeded from 
the notion of a signifying Genius, or Universal Mercury, 
that conducted sounds to their distant subjects, and taught 
to hear by touch." The number of beliefs of this class is 
infinite and recorded in numerous popular handbooks. 

Lucky and Unlucky Days. 

So, there are days which are lucky and unlucky. A Persian 
couplet lays down that one should not go east on Saturday 
and Monday ; west on Friday and Sunday ; north on Tues- 
day and Wednesday; south on Thursday. Even Lord 
Burghley advised his son to be cautious as regards the first 
Monday in April, when Cain was born and Abel slain ; the 
second Monday in August, when Sodom and Gomorrah 
^ere destroyed ; the last Monday in December, which was 
the birthday of Judas. Akbar laid down that the clothes 
which came into his wardrobe on the first day of the month 
Farwardin were unlucky.^ The way some people get over 
'omens of this kind is to send some article ahead of the 
traveller on the unlucky day, which absorbs the ill omen, 
which would otherwise have fallen upon him. 

The catalogue of superstitions of this class might be 
almost indefinitely extended. The principles on which 
most of them depend are clear enough. They rest on a sort 
of sympathetic magic. Things which are good-looking, 
people who are healthy or prosperous, give favourable omens, 
while those that are ugly, or of low caste, or associated with 
menial or unpleasant duties, and so on, are ominous. Euro- 
peans in India usually quite fail to realize the influence 
which such ideas exercise over the minds of the people. 
Most of us have been struck by the almost unaccountable 

* Tawney, loc df., \\ 128. ' Blochmann, " Afni Akbari," i. 91. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 53 

failure of natives to attend a summons from the Courts^ to 
keep an appointment to meet a European officer for the 
inspection of a school or market. If inquiries are made it 
will often be found that some idea of this kind explains the 

ThuSy Colonel Tod describes how he had a visit from 
Minik Chand. ** He looked very disconsolate and explained 
that he had seven times left his tent and as often turned 
back, the bird of omen having each time passed him on the 
adverse side ; but that at length he had determined to dis- 
regard it, as having forfeited confidence he was indifferent to 
the future." * 

The same idea of good or evil omen attaches to many places 
and persons. " Nolai was built by R4ja Nol. Its modern 
appellation of Barnagar has its origin in a strange, vulgar 
superstition of names of ill omen, which must not be pro- 
nounced before the morning meal. The city is called either 
Nolai or Barnagar, according to the hour at which the 
mention becomes necessary." * So with the town of Jammu 
in Kashmir, which is unlucky froni its association with 
Yama, the god of death ; with Talw4ra in the Hoshy&rpur 
District, which is connected with the sword {talwdr) ; with 
Rohtak, which should be called Rustajgarh, and with 
numerous other places in Northern India. Thus, if people 
want to speak of Bulandshahr in the morning they call it by 
the old Hindi name of Unchg4nw ; Bhonginw in Mainpuri 
they call Pachkosa; N&nauta in Sah&ranpur, Pht!ltashahr ; 
Mandwa in Fatehpur, Rotiw^a, and so on." 

So, there is hardly a village in which it is not considered 
ominous to name before breakfast some one who, from his 
misery, rascality, or some other reason, is considered un- 
lucky. In Mathura there is a tank built by Rdja Patni 

" Should a stranger visit it in the morning and inquire of 
any Hindu by whom it was constructed, he will have con- 

^ "Annals," i. 694. ' Malcolm, •* Central India,'* i. 12, note. 

' " North Indian Notes and Queries,'* i. 137, 207 ; ii. 28 ; iii. 18 ; 
" Panjib Notes and Queries," i. 15, 87, 137. 

54 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

siderable difficulty in eliciting a straightforward answer. The 
R4ja, it is said, was of such a delicate constitution that he 
eould never at any time take more than a few morsels of 
the simplest food ; hence arises the belief that any one who 
mentions him the first thing in the morning will, like him, 
Save to pass the day fasting." * When we wonder at people 
suffering bondage of this kind, we must not forget that 
similar beliefs prevail in our own country. " In Buckie 
there are certain family names which no fisherman will 
pronounce. The ban lies particularly heavy on Ross. 
CouU also bears it, but not to such a degree. The folks of 
that village talk of spitting out the bad name." ^ 

A similar euphemistic form of expression is often used in 
regard to animals. If you are civil and do not abuse the 
house rats, they will not damage your goods. ^ 

The Mirzapur Patiris when they have to mention a 
monkey in the morning, call him HanumS.n, and the bear 
Jatari, or "he with the long hair," or Dimkhauiya, "he 
that eats white ants." The Pankas call the camel Lamb- 
ghtncha or " long-necked." " I asked the Rdja," says 
Gen. Sleeman, "whether we were likely to fall in with any 
hares, making use of the term Khargosh, or ' ass-eared.' " 
•* Certainly not," said the Rija, " if you begin by abusing 
them by such a name. Call them Lambkanna or * long-eared,* 
and you will get plenty." 

It is, of course, easy to avoid the effect of evil omens by 
the use of a little tact and wit, as was the case with William 
the Conqueror, and there are many natives who are noted 
for their cleverness in this way. Of an Eastern Sultan it is 
told that, leaving his palace on a warlike expedition, his 
standard touched a cluster of lamps, called Surayya, because 
they resembled the Pleiades. He would have turned back, 
but one of his officers said, " My Lord ! our standard has 
reached the Pleiades ;" so he was relieved, advanced, and 
was victorious. 

1 Growse, " Mathura," 128. 

2 Gregor, *•' Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," 200 sq. 
^ " North Indian Note and Queries,'* i. 1 5. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 55 

Facilitating Departure of and Barring the Ghost. 

We now come to consider the various means adopted to 
facilitate the journey of the departing soul, and to prevent 
it from returning as a malignant ghost to bring trouble, 
disease, or death on the survivors. 

First comes the custom of placing the dying man on the 
ground at the moment of dissolution. This is done partly, 
as we have seen, through some feeling of the sanctity of 
Mother earth and that anyone resting on her bosom is safe 
from demoniacal agency, and partly that the spirit may 
meet with no obstruction in its passage through the air. 
This last idea prevails very generally. Thus, in Great 
Britain, death is believed to be retarded and the dying 
person kept in a state of suffering by having any lock closed 
or any bolt shut in the dwelling.* 

The tortures which the soul undergoes in its journey to 
the land of the dead are vividly pictured in some of the 
sacred writings.* He is scorched by heat and pierced by 
wind and cold, attacked by beasts of prey, stumbling through 
thorns and filth, until he at last reaches the dread river 
Vaitarani, which rolls its flood of abominations between 
him and the other shore. So, when a Hindu dies, a lamp 
made of flour is placed in his hands to light his ghost to the 
realm of Yama. Devout people believe that the spirit takes 
X three hundred and sixty days to accomplish the journey, so 
an offering of that number of lamps is made. In order, also, 
to help him on his way, they feed a Br&hman every day for 
a year ; if the deceased was a woman, a Br&hmani is fed. 
The lamps are lighted facing the south, and this is the only 
occasion on which this is done, because the south is the 
realm of death, and no one will sleep or have their house 
door opening towards that ill-omened quarter of the sky. 

With the same intention of aiding the spirit on his way, 
the relations howl during the funeral rites, like the keeners 

' Hunt, " Popular Romances," 379 ; " Contemporary Review," xlviii. 
108 ; Gregor, " Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," 206. 
^ Monier- Williams, " Brihmanism and Hinduism," 293. 

56 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

at ah Irish wake, in order to scare the evil spirits who would 
obstruct the passage of the soul to its final rest.* 

Another plan is to carry out the corpse by a special wsty, 
which is then barred up, so that it may not be able to find 
its way back. The same end is attained by carrying out 
the corpse feet foremost. Thus Wtarco Polo writes : " Some- 
times their sorcerers shall tell them that it is not good luck 
to carry the corpse out by the door, so they have to break a 
hole in the wall, and to draw it out that way when it is taken 
to the burning." It is needless to say that the same custom 
prevails in Great Britain.' The Banj&ras of Khindesh 
reverse the process. They move their huts after a death, and 
mate a special entrance instead of the ordinary door, which 
is supposed to be polluted by the passage of the spirit of the 
dead.' A somewhat similar custom prevails among the 
Maghs of Bengal. When the friends return from the crema- 
tion ground, if it is the master of the house who has died, 
the ladder leading up to the house is thrown down, and 
they must effect an entrance by cutting a hole in the back 
wall and so creeping up.^ The theory appears to be that 
the evil spirits who were on the watch for the ghost may be 
lurking near the route by which the corpse was removed. 
We have the same idea in the European custom of saluting 
a corpse which is being carried past. Grose distinctly states 
that the homage was really offered to the attendant evil 
spirits.' So, the Birhors of Bengal, on the sixth day after 
birth, take the child out of the house by an opening made 
in the wall, so as to evade the evil spirit on the watch at 
the door.* 

The most elaborate precautions are, however, devoted to 
barring out the ghost and preventing its return to its former 
home. The first of these consist of rules to prevent the 

* Spencer, "Principles of Sociology,'* i. 153. 

2 Gregor, loc, cit, 206 ; Conway, ** Demonology," i. 53 ; Farrer, 
" Primitive Manners," 23. 
" •* Bombay Gazetteer," xii. 107 ; Campbell, " Notes," 394. 
^ Risley, " Tribes and Castes," ii. 34. 
' Brand, " Observations," 450. 

• Dalton, "Descriptive Ethnology," 219. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 57 

breach of the curiosity taboo. All through folk-lore we 
have instances of the danger of looking back, as in the case 
of Lot's wife. One of the maxims of Pythagoras was : " On 
setting out on a journey, do not return back ; for if you do 
the fairies will catch you." * In ,one of the Kashmir tales 
the youth is warned not to look back, otherwise he would 
be changed into a pillar of stone.' In one of the Italian 
spells the oflBciant is told : " Spit behind you thrice and 
look not behind you.*" In* an Indian tale the god promises 
to help the Br&hman and to follow him. The Br&hman 
looks back and the deity becomes a stone.^ The danger of 
looking back is that the person's soul may be detained 
among the ghosts of the dead. This is the reason why 
Hindu mourners do not look back when they are return- 
ing from the cremation ground, and so we find that in 
Naxos it is a rule that none of the women who follow the 
bier must look back, for if she do she will die on the spot, 
or else one of her relations will die.' 

Another means is to bar the return of the ghost in a 
physical way. Thus, when the Aheriyas of the North- 
western Provinces burn the corpse, they fling pebbles in 
the direction of the pyre to prevent the spirit accompanying 
them. In the Himalayas, when a man has attended the 
funeral ceremonies of a relative, he takes a piece of the 
shroud worn by the deceased and hangs it on some tree in 
the cremation ground, as an offering to the spirits which 
frequent such places. On his return, he places a thorny 
bush on the road wherever it is crossed by another path, / 
and the nearest male relative of the deceased, on seeing this, 
puts a stone on it, and pressing it down with his feet, prays 
the spirit of the dead man not to trouble him.* Among the 
Bengal Limbus, the Phedangma attends the funeral, and 
delivers a brief address to the departed spirit on the general 

» •" Folk-lore," i. 155. « Knowles, " Folk-tales," 401. 

' Leland, " Etruscan Roman Remains," 260. 

* " North Indian Notes and Queries," ii. 10 ; iii. 90. 

* « Folk-lore," iv. 257. 

* " Himilayan Gazetteer," ii. 832 ; Tylor, ** Primitive Culture," ii. 126 ; 
Wilson, " Essays," ii. 292 ; Spencer, " Principles of Sociology," i. 147. 

58 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

doom of mankind and the succession of life and death, 
concluding with the command to go where his fathers have 
gone, and not to come back to trouble the living with 

Practically the same custom still prevails in Ireland. 
When a corpse is carried to the grave, it is the rule for the 
bearers to stop half-way while the nearest relatives build 
up a small monument of loose stones, and no hand would 
dare to disturb this monument while the world lasts.* 

In the case of the Dhdngars and Basors, both menial 
tribes in the North- Western Provinces, we come across an 
usage which appears to be of a very primitive type and to 
be intended to secure the same object of barring the return 
of the ghost. After they have buried the corpse they return 
to the house of the dead man, kill a hog, and after separating 
the limbs, which are cooked for the funeral feast, they bury 
the trunk in the courtyard of the house, making an invoca- 
tion to it as the representative of the dead man, and ordering 
him to rest there in peace and not worry his descendants. 
In the grave in which they bury this they pile stones and 
thorns to keep the ghost down. 

Many other mourning customs appear to be based on the 
same principle. Thus, the old ritual directs that all who 
return from a funeral must touch the Lingam, fire, cow- 
dung, a grain of barley, a grain of sesame and water — " all," 
as Professor De Gubernatis says, " symbols of that fecundity 
which the contact with a corpse might have destroyed." ' 
The real motive is doubtless to get rid of the ghost, which 
may have accompanied the mourners from the cremation 
ground. In Borneo rice is sprinkled over them with the 
same object, and the Basutos who have carried a corpse to 
the grave have their hands scratched with a knife and 
magic stuff is rubbed into the wound to remove the ghost 
which may be adhering to them.^ 

^ Risley, " Tribes and Castes," ii. 19. 
2 Lady Wilde, " Legends,'* 83. 
^ " Zoological Mythology," i. 49. 
* Frazer, " Golden Bough," i. 154. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 59 

In Upper India, among the lower Hindu castes, when 
the mourners^ return after the ceremony, they bathe, water 
being a scarer of ghosts, and at the house door they touch a 
stone, cowdung, iron, fire, and water, which have been 
placed outside the house in readiness when the corpse was 
removed. They then touch each their left ears with the 
little finger of the left hand, chew leaves of the bitter Nim 
tree as a sign of mourning, and, after sitting some time in 
silence, disperse. Others, as the Ghasiyas, pass their feet 
through the smoke of burning oil, and others merely rub 
their feet with oil to drive away the ghost. The same idea 
of barring the return of the ghost by means of fire is found 
among the Nats of KAthidwdr, who burn hay on the face of 
the corpse before cremating it, and among the Thoris, who 
brand the great toe of the right foot of the deceased.* 

This sitting in silence after the funeral is commonly ex- 
plained merely as a mark of sympathy for the bereaved 
relatives, but an analogous custom in Ireland leads to the 
inference that the real reason may be to give the ghost time 
to depart, and not to interrupt in any way its progress to 
the spirit land. On the west coast of Ireland, after the 
death no wail is allowed to be raised until three hours have 
elapsed, because the sound of the crying would hinder the 
soul from speaking to God when it stands before Him, and 
would waken up the great dogs that are watching for the 
souls of the dead to devour them.* 

We have in these rites and in the ordinary ritual some 
fiirther illustrations of the protective influence of various 
articles which scare evil spirits. Thus, after the cremation 
the officiating Brdhman touches fire and bathes in order to 
purify himself and bar the return of the ghost ; and the 
relative who lights the funeral pyre keeps a piece of iron 
with him, and goes about with a brass drinking vessel in his 
hand as a preservative against evil spirits while the period of 
mourning lasts. The system of protection is exactly the 
same as in the case of the young mother and her child 

* " Bombay Gazetteer," viii. 159. 
2 Lady Wilde, " Legends," 83. 


6o Folk-lore of Northern India. 

during the period of impurity consequent on parturition. As 
the Hedley Kow, the North British goblin, is peculiariy 
obnoxious at childbirth, so the Rikshasi of Indian folk-lore 
carries off the baby if the suitable precautions to repel her 
are neglected.* 

Another method of barring the ghost is to bury the dead 
face downwards. This is common among sweepers of 
Upper India, whose ghosts, as seen in the probable connec- 
tion of the Chiihra and the Churel, are always malignant. 
The same custom prevails among the Chslran Banjdras of 
Kh&ndesh. With this may be contrasted the Irish custom 
of loosening the nails of the coffin before interment, in order 
to facilitate the passage of the soul to heaven.^ 

A more elaborate ritual is that performed by the Mangars 
of Bengal. " One of the maternal relatives of the deceased, 
usually the maternal uncle, is chosen to act as priest for the 
occasion, and to conduct the ritual for the propitiation of 
the dead. First of all he puts in the mouth of the corpse 
some silver coins and some coral, which is much prized by 
the Himalayan races. Then he lights a wick soaked in 
clarified butter, touches the lips with fire, scatters some 
parched rice about the mouth, and, lastly, covers the face 
with a cloth. Two bits of wood about three feet long are 
set up on either side of the grave. In the one are cut nine 
steps or notches, forming a ladder for the spirit of the dead 
to ascend to heaven ; on the other every one present at the 
funeral cuts a notch to show that he has been there. As 
the maternal uncle steps out of the grave, he bids a solemn 
farewell to the dead and calls upon him to ascend to heaven 
by the ladder prepared for him. When the earth has been 
filled in, the stick notched by the funeral party is taken 
away to a distance and broken in two pieces, lest by its 
means the dead man should do the survivors a mischief. 

1 Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 14, 271 ; Tawney^ 
" Katha Sarit Sigara,** i. 305, 546 ; Tylor, " Primitive Culture," ii. 194 
sq. ; ** Contemporary Review," xlviii. 113; Grierson, **Behir Peasant 
Life,'' 388 ; " Folk-lore," ii. 26, 294. 

^ ** Bombay Gazetteer," xii. 109 ; ** Illustrations of the History ard 
Practices of the Thags," 9. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 6i 

The pole used to carry the corpse is also broken up, and the 
spades and ropes are left in the grave." ' 

Among other devices to bar the return of the spirit may 
be noted the custom after a death in the family of preparing 
a resting-place for the ghost, until on the completion of the 
prescribed funeral rites it is admitted to the company of the 
sainted dead. Thus, among high-caste Hindus a jar of 
water is hung on a Pipal tree for the refreshment of the spirit. 
The lower castes practise a more elaborate ritual. When 
the obsequies are completed they plant by the bank of a 
tank a bunch of grass, which the chief mourners daily water 
until the funeral rites are over. In Bombay Mr. Campbell 
writes : * " With a few exceptions generally among almost 
all classes of Hindus, when the dead is carried to the 
burning ground, on nearing the cemetery, a small stone is 
picked up and applied to the eyes, chest, and feet of the 
deceased. This stone is called Jivkh&da or the spirit 
stone, is considered as the representative or type of the 
deceased, and offerings of milk and water are given to it for 
ten days." Further he says: "On nearing the burning 
ground a small stone is picked up, and with it the feet, nose, 
and chest of the deceased are touched thrice. This stone is 
called Ashma, and is considered as a type of the deceased, 
and to it funeral oblations are offered for ten days. The 
bier is then put down, and a ceremony called Visrinti 
SrAddha is performed by the chief mourner, who comes 
forward and offers two balls of rice, called Bhtit or ' spirit,' 
and Khechar, or * roamer in the sky,' to the deceased. A 
hole is dug and the balls are buried there, and the litter is 
raised again on shoulders by four persons and carried to the 

The same idea of barring the return of the ghost accounts 
for the tombstone and cairn. British evil spirits have been 
secured in this way. Mr. Henderson tells of a vicious spirit 
which was entombed under a large stone for the space of 
ninety years and a day. Should any luckless person sit on 

1 Risley, " Tribes and Castes," ii. 75. ^ " Notes,'' 214, 473. 

62 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

that stone, he would be unable to leave it for ever.* In 
India, when a Ho or Munda dies, a very substantial coffin 
is constructed and placed on faggots of brushwood. The 
body, carefully washed and anointed with oil, is reverently 
laid in this coffin, and all the clothes, ornaments, and agri- 
cultural implements that the deceased was in the habit of 
using are placed with it, and also any money that he had 
with him when he died. Then the lid of the coffin is put 
on and the whole is burned. The bones are collected, taken 
in procession to the houses of friends, and every place where 
the deceased was in the habit of visiting. They are finally 
buried under a large slab, and a megalithic monument is 
erected to the memory of the dead. A quantity of rice is 
thrown into the grave with other food.' 

This custom of parading the corpse also prevails in 

" I believe it is the custom in most, if not all, small 
towns in the south for a body to be carried, on its way to 
the graveyard, round the town by the longest way to bid its 
last farewell to the place. If the body be that of a murdered 
man, it is, if possible, carried past the house of the murderer. 
In county Wicklow, if an old church lies on the way to the 
grave, the body is borne round it three times." ' 

The Korkus of Hoshangdbid have a remarkable method 
of laying the ghost. " Each clan has a place in which the 
funeral rite of every member of that clan must be performed ; 
and however far the Korku may have wandered from the 
original centre of his tribe, he must return there to set his 
father's spirit to rest, and enable it to join its own family 
and ancestral ghosts. In this spot a separate stake {munda) 
is set up for every one whose rites are separately performed, 
and if a poor Korku performs them for several ancestors at 
. once, he still puts up only one stake. It stands two or two 
and a half feet above the ground, planed smooth and 
squared at the top ; on one side is carved at the top the 

1 "Folk-lore of the Northern Counties,'* 264. 
^ Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 202 sq. 
» " Folk-lore," iv. 360. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 63 

likeness of the sun and moon, a spider, and a wheat ear, and 
below it a figure representing the principal person in whose 
honour it is put up, on horseback, with weapons in his 
hands. If more than one person's death is being celebrated, 
the rest are carved below as subordinate figures. I could 
not learn that the spirits are supposed to specially haunt 
this grove of stakes, or that Korkus have any dread of going 
near it at night ; but they are far bolder than Hindus in this 
respect. When the fimeral rite is to be performed, the first 
thing is to cut a bamboo and take out the pith, which is to 
represent the bones of the deceased, unless he has been 
burnt, in which case the bones themselves will have been 
preserved. A chicken is then sacrificed at the grave, and 
all that night the mourners watch and dance, and sing and 
make merry. 

" Next day they go out very early, and cut down some 
perfectly unblemished tree, either teak or Salii, not hollow 
or decayed or marked with an axe, which they cut to make 
the Munda stake. It is brought home at once and fashioned 
by a skilful man. In the afternoon it is carried to the place 
where cattle rest outside the village at noontide, and is 
washed and covered with turmeric like a bridegroom, 
and five chickens are sacrificed to it. It is then brought 
home again, and the pith representing the bones is taken 
outside the village and hung to some tree for safety during 
the night." (The idea, as we have elsewhere seen, is more 
probably to allow the ghost an opportunity of revisiting them.) 

" AU the friends and relations have by this time assembled, 
and tliis evening the chief funeral dinner is given. Next 
day, the whole party set out for the place where the stakes 
of their clan are set up, and after digging a hole and putting 
two copper coins in it, and the bones of the deceased or the 
pith which represents them, they put the stake in and fix 
it upright. Then they offer a goat or chickens to it, which 
are presently eaten close by, and in the evening the whole 
party returns home." ^ 

All this ritual, carried out by one of the most primitive 
* « Settlement Report," 263 sq. 

64 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Indian tribes, admirably illustrates the principles which we 
have been discussing. The obvious intention of the custom 
is to provide a resting-place for the spirit of the dead man, 
so that it may no longer be a source of danger to the 

Similar customs prevail among other aboriginal races of 
the Central Provinces. In some places they burn their 
dead and then erect platforms, at the corners of which they 
place tall, red stones. In other places a sort of low square 
mound is raised over the remains of the deceased, at the 
corners of which are erected wooden posts, round which 
thread is wound to complete the sacred circle, and a stone 
is set up in the centre. Here offerings are presented, as in 
the jungle worship of their deities, of rice and other grains, 
fowls or sheep. On one occasion after the establishment of 
the Bhonsla or Marhata Government in GondwAna a cow 
was offered to the manes of a Gond ; but this having come 
to the notice of the authorities, the relations were publicly 
whipped, and all were interdicted from doing such an act 

To persons of more than usual reputation for sanctity 
offerings continue to be presented for many years after their 
decease. In the District of BhandAra rude collections of 
coarse earthenware in the form of horses may be seen, which 
have accumulated from year to year on the tombs of such 
men.^ The Pauariyas of Chota NAgpur bury their dead, 
except the bodies of their priests, which are carried on a cot 
into the forests covered with leaves and branches and kept 
there, the reason assigned being that if laid in the village 
cemetery their ghosts become very troublesome. The 
bodies of people who die of contagious disease are similarly 
disposed of, the fact of death in this way being supposed to 
be the direct act of one of the deities who govern plagues.' 

In a country where immediate burial or cremation is 
necessary and habitual, we need not expect to meet many 
examples of the customs, of which Mr. H. Spencer gives 

* Hislop, ** Papers," 19. 

* Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 274. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 65 

examples,^ of placing the body on a platform or the like in 
order to secure its personal comfort and conciliate the spirit. 
With the object of keeping a place ready for the spirit, some 
tribes are careful to preserve the body. The Singpoo of the 
north-eastern frontier keep the bodies of their dead chiefs 
for several years, and the K(ikis dry the dead at a slow fire,' 
practices which among more civilized races rise to embalm- 
ing, as among the Chinese and Eg5rptians. The Thirus of 
the sub-Him41ayan TarAl have a custom of placing the 
corpse on the village fetish mound during the night after 
death, and then the mourning goes on. The practice is 
perhaps intended as much to prevent, by the sanctity of the 
spot on which it is placed, the spirit from harming the 
survivors, as from any special desire to conciliate it. Among 
all Hindus, of course, as far as exigencies of the rapid 
disposal of the remains allow, it is habitual to treat the 
dead with respect ; corpses are carefully covered with red 
cloth, and removed reverently for burial or cremation. 

There is also among some tribes the custom of disinterring 
corpses after temporary burial. Thus, the Bhotiyas of the 
Himalayas burn their dead only in the month of KArttik ; 
those who die in the meantime are temporarily buried and 
disinterred when the season for cremation arrives. The 
Kathkiris, a jungle tribe in Bombay, dig up the corpse some 
time after burial and hold a wake over the ghastly relics. 
They appear to do this only in the case of persons dying of 
cholera or small- pox, with some idea of appeasing the deity 
of disease. In parts of Oudh the custom is said still to 
prevail among the lower castes during epidemics, and it has 
recently attracted the attention of the sanitary officers.' 

The Funeral Feast. 

The funeral feast is evidently a survival of the feast when 
the dead kinsman was consumed by his relatives, who 

1 ** Principles of Sociology," i. 161. 

^Dalton, "Descriptive Ethnology," 12; Tylor, " Primitive Culture," 
ii. 33 sq. 
' " North Indian Notes and Queries," 11. 7 ; iii. 17 ; Campbell, " Notes,** 




66 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

wished thus to partake of the properties of the dead. By 
another theory the feasting of the mourners is intended to 
resist the attempt of the ghost of the dead man to enter 
their bodies, food being offensive to spirits. 

Mutilation a Sign of Mourning. 

Perhaps the only distinct survival of the ceremonial 
mutilation so common among savages as a sign of mourning, 
is the shaving which is compulsory on all the clansmen who 
shared in the death pollution. In the Odyssey, at the death 
of Antilochus, Peisistratus says, " This is now the only due 
we pay to miserable men, to cut the hair and let the tear 
fall from the cheek,*' and at the burial rites of Patroklus 
" they heaped all the corpse with their hair which they cut 
off and threw thereon." The cutting of the hair is always a 
serious matter. "Amongst the Maoris many spells were 
uttered at hair-cutting; one, for example, was spoken to 
consecrate the obsidian knife with which the hair was cut ; 
another was pronounced to avert the thunder and lightning 
which hair-cutting was believed to cause." ^ This ceremonial 
shaving is also perhaps the only survival in Northern India 
of puberty initiation ceremonies. In some cases the hair cut 
appears to be regarded as a sacrifice. Thus between the 
ages of two and five the Bhils shave the heads of their 
children. The child's aunt takes the hair in her lap, and 
wrapping it in her clothes, receives a cow, buffalo, or other 
resent from the child's parent.^ 

Respect Paid to Hair. 

All over the world the hair is invested with particular 
sanctity as embodying the strength of the owner, as in the 
Samson-Delilah story. Vishnu, according to the old story, 
took two hairs, a white and a black one, and these became and Krishna. Many charms are worked through 
hair, and if a witch gets possession of it she can work evil 
to the owner. An Italian charm directs, " When you enter 

1 Frazer, " Golden Bough,'* i. 196. ' " Bombay Gazetteer," iii. 220. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring op Ghosts. 67 

any city, collect before the gate as many hairs as you will -^ 
which may lie on the road, sa}dng to yourself that you do 
this to remove your headache, and bind one of the hairs to 
your head." * The strength of Nisus lay in his golden hair, 
and when it was pulled out he was killed by Minos. It is 
this power of hair which possibly accounts for its preserva- 
tion as a relic of the dead in lockets and bracelets, or, as 
Mr. Hartland shows, the idea at the root of these practices 
is that of sacramental communion with the dead.' 

We have already come across instances of growing hair as 
a curse. Mr. Frazer gives numerous examples of this 
custom among savage races, and in the Teutonic m3^hology 
the avenger of Baldur will not cut his hair until he has 
killed his enemy. 

In the folk-tales hair is a powerful deus ex machind^ human 
hair for choice, but any kind will answer the purpose. It 
is one of the most common incidents that the hero recognizes 
the heroine by a lock of her hair which floats down the 

A curious instance of mutilation regarded as a charm may 
be quoted from Bengal. Should a woman give birth to 
several stillborn children, in succession, the popular belief 
is that the same child reappears on each occasion. So, to 
frustrate the designs of the evil spirit that has taken posses- 
sion of the child, the nose or a portion of the ear is cut off 
and the body is cast on a dunghill. 

Food for the Dead. 

Another means for conciliating the spirit of the dead man 
is to lay up food for its use.* This is intended partly as 
provision for the ghost in its journey to the other world. 

1 Leland, ** Etruscan Roman Remains," 281. 

2 " Legend of Perseus," ii. 320. 

'Temple, "Wide-awake Tales," 414 ; "Legends of the Panjib," i. 
Introduction xix. ; " Folk-lore," ii. 236 ; Miss Cox, " Cinderella," 504 ; 
Clouston, " Popular Tales," i. 341 ; Campbell, " Santil Folk-tales,*' 16 ; 
Grimm, " Household Tales,'' ii. 382. 

* Spencer, "Principles of Sociology," i. 157, 206; Tylor, " Primitive 
Culture," i. 482 ; Lubbock, " Origin of Civilization," 37 ; Farrer, " Primi- 
tive Manners," 21 sq. 

F 2 

68 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

But in some cases it would seem that there is a different 
basis for the custom. As we have seen, it is dangerous to 
eat the food of fairy-land, and unless food is supplied to the 
wandering ghost, it may be obliged to eat the food of the 
lower world and hence be unable to return to the world of 
men. According to the ancient Indian ritual it was recom- 
mended to put into the hands of the dead man the reins of 
the animal killed in the funeral sacrifice, or in default of an 
animal victim at least two cakes of rice or flour, so that he 
may throw them to the dogs of Yama, which would other- 
wise bar his passage,* and the same idea constantly appears 
in the folk-tales where the hero takes some food with him 
which he flings to the fierce beasts which prevent him from 
gaining the water of life or whatever may have been the 
test imposed upon him. The use of pulse in the funeral 
rites depends upon the same principle, and in the Greek 
belief the dead carried vegetables with them to hell, either 
to win the right of passage or as provisions for the road. 

Articles left with the Corpse. 

Hence too comes the practice of burning with the corpse 
the articles which the dead man was in the habit of using. 
They rise with the fumes of the pyre and solace him in the 
world of spirits. The Kos told Colonel Dalton that the 
reason of this was that they were unwilling to derive any 
immediate benefit by the death of a member of the family. 
Hence they burn his wearing apparel and personal effects, 
but they do not destroy clothes and other things which have 
not been worn. For this reason, old men of the tribe, in a 
spirit of careful economy, avoid wearing new clothes, so that 
they may not be wasted at the funeral.' 

The custom of laying out food for the ghost still prevails 
in Ireland, where it is a very prevalent practice during some 
nights after death to leave food outside the house, a griddle 
cake or a dish of potatoes. If it is gone in the morning, the 

^ Gubernatis, "Zoological Mjrthology,'* i. 49. 
» "Descriptive Ethnology/' 205. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts, 6g 

spirits must have taken it, for no human being would touch 
the food left for the dead, as it might compel him to 
join their company. On November Eve food is laid out in 
the same way.^ 

There are numerous examples of similar practices in India. 
The Mh&rs of Khindesh, when they remove a corpse, put in 
its mouth a P4n leaf with a gold bead from his wife's neck- 
lace. At the grave the brother or son of the dead man 
wets the end of his turban and drops a little water on the 
lips of the corpse.* So the Greeks used to put a coin in 
the dead man's mouth to enable him to pay his fare to 
Charon. In the Panjd.b it is a common practice to put in 
the mouth of the corpse the Pancharatana or five kinds of 
jewels, gold, silver, copper, coral, and pewter. The leaves 
of the Tulasi or sweet basil and Ganges water are put into 
the mouth of a dying man, and the former into the ears 
and nostrils also. They are said to be offerings to Yama, 
the god of death, who on receiving them shows mercy to 
the soul of the deceased. The same customs generally 
prevail among the Hindus of Northern India. 

Among the Buddhists of the Himalaya, Moorcroft was 
present at the consecration of the food of the dead.* The 
L&ma consecrated barley and water and poured them from 
a silver saucer into a brass vessel, occasionally striking two 
brass cymbals together, reciting or chanting prayers, to 
which from time to time an inferior Lima uttered responses 
aloud, accompanied by the rest in an undertone. This 
was intended for the use of the souls in hell, who would 
starve were it not provided. The music and singing, if we 
may apply the analogy of Indian practices, are intended to 
scare the vagrant ghosts, who would otherwise consume or 
defile the food. 

The same is the case among the Drividian races. Thus, 
the Bhuiy&rs of Mirzapur after the funeral feast throw a 
cupful of oil and some food into the water hole in which the 

» Lady Wilde, "Ugends," ii8, 140. 

« *• Bombay Gazetteer,*' xii. 118 ; •* Folk-lore," iv. 245. 

» " Travels in the Himalaya," i. 342. 

70 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

ashes of the dead man are deposited. They say that he will 
never be hungry or want oil to anoint himself after bathing. 
The Korwas, when burning a corpse, place with it the orna- 
ments and clothes of the deceased, and an axe, which they 
do not break, as is the habit of many other savages. They 
say that the spirit of the dead man will want it to hack his 
way through the jungles of the lower world. When the 
BhuiyArs cremate a corpse they throw near the spot an axe, 
if the deceased was a man, and a Khurpi or weeding spud, 
if a woman. No one would dare to appropriate such things, 
as he would be forced to join the ghastly company of their 
owners. Where the corpse is burned they leave a platter 
made of leaves containing a little boiled rice, and they 
sprinkle on the ground all the ordinary kinds of grain and 
some turmeric and salt as food for the dead in the next 

All these tribes and many low-caste Hindus in Northern 
India lay out platters of food under the eaves of the house 
during the period of mourning, and they ascertain by peculiar 
marks which they examine next day whether the spirit has 
partaken of the food or not. Among the jungle tribes there 
is a rule that the food for the dead is prepared, not by the 
house-mother, but by the senior daughter-in-law, and even 
if incapacitated by illness from performing this duty, she is 
bound at least to commence the work by cooking one or two 
cakes, the rest being prepared by one of the junior women of 
the family. 

Among the more Hinduized Majhw4rs and Patdris we 
reach the stage where the clothes, implements of the deceased, 
and some food are given to the Pat4ri priest, who, by 
vicariously consuming them, lays up a store for the use of 
the dead man in the other world. This is the principle on 
which food and other articles are given to the Mah&brihman 
or ordinary Hindu funeral priest at the close of the period of 

Among the Bengal tribes, the M41 Pahariyas pour the 
blood of goats and fowls on their ancestral memorial pillars 
that the souls may not hunger in the world of the dead. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 71 

Among the BhOmij, at the funeral ceremony^ an outsider, 
who is often a Laiya or priest, comes forward to personate 
the deceased, by whose name he is addressed, and asked 
what he wants to eat. Acting thus as the dead man's proxy, 
he mentions various articles of food, which are placed before 
him. After making a regular meal, he goes away, and the 
spirit of the deceased is believed to go with him. So among 
the Kolis of the Konkan, the dead man's soul is brought 
back into one of the mourners. Among the V&rlis of Th&na, 
on the twelfth day after death, a dinner is given to the 
nearest relations, and during the night the spirit of the dead 
enters into one of the relations, who entertains the rest with 
the story of some event in the dead man's life. Among the 
Sant&ls, one of the mourners drums by the ashes of the dead, 
and the spirit enters the body, when the mourner shaves, 
bathes, eats a cock, and drinks some liquor.^ 

Among the Bengal Chakmas, a bamboo post or other 
portion of a dead man's house is burned with him, probably 
in order to provide him with shelter in the next world. 
Among the KAmis, before they can partake of the funeral 
feast, a small portion of every dish must be placed in a leaf 
plate and taken out into the jungle for the spirit of the dead 
man, and carefully watched until a fly or other insect settles 
upon it. The watcher then covers up the plate with a slab 
of stone, eats his own food, and returns to tell the relatives 
that the spirit has received the offering prepared for him. 

The Fly as a Life Index. 

The fly here represents the spirit, an idea very common 
in folk-lore, where an insect often appears as the Life Index. 
An English lady has been known in India to stop playing 
lawn-tennis because a butterfly settled in the court. In 
Cornwall wandering spirits take the form of moths, ants, 
and weasels.* We have the same idea in Titus Andronicus, 

1 Risley, '* Tribes and Castes," i. 126, 174, 395; ii- 7i ; "Bombay 
Gazetteer,'' xiii. 187 ; Daltoa, <' Descriptive Ethnology,*' 218. 
3 Hunt, ^ Popular Romanges/' 82. 

72 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

when Marcus, having been rebuked for killing a fly, gives as 
his reason, — 

" It was a black, ill-favoured fly, 
Like to the empress Moor ; therefore I kiiUd him/' 

A fly is the guardian spirit of St. Michael's well in Banff.^ 

Recalling the Ghost. 

But while it is expedient by some or other of these devices 
to bar or lay the ghost, or prevent its return by providing 
for its journey to, and accommodation in the next world, 
some tribes have a custom of making arrangements to bring 
back the soul of the deceased to the family abode, where he 
is worshipped as a household spirit. Some of the Central 
Indian tribes catch the spirit re-embodied in a fowl or fish, 
some bring it home in a pot of water or flour.' Among the 
Tipperas of Bengal, when a man dies in a strange village 
separated from his home by the river, they stretch a white 
string from bank to bank along which the spirit is believed 
to return.' This illustrates an idea common to all folk-lore 
that the ghost cannot cross running water without material 
assistance. Among the Hos on the evening of the cremation 
day certain preparations are made in anticipation of a visit 
from the ghost. Some boiled rice is laid apart for it, and 
ashes are sprinkled on the floor, in order that, should it 
come, its footsteps may be detected. On returning they 
carefully scrutinize the ashes and the rice, and if there is 
the faintest indication of these having been disturbed, it is 
attributed to the action of the spirit, and they sit down 
shivering with horror and crying bitterly, as if they were 
by no means pleased with the visit, though it be made at 
their earnest solicitation.* 


This use of ashes as a means of identifying the ghost, 
constitutes in itself quite an important chapter in folk-lore. 

' Brand, " Observations," 519. • Tyler, '* Primitive Culture," ii. 152. 

' Risley, loc, cit^ ii. 326. * Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology, 204 sq. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 73 

It reminds us of the Apocryphal legend of Bel and the 
Dragon. The idea probably originally arose from the 
respect paid to the ashes of the house fire by primitive races, 
among whom the hearth and the kitchen are the home of 
the household godlings. 

There are numerous instances of this practice from 
Europe. In the Western Islands of Scotland on Candle- 
mas Day the mistress takes a sheaf of oats, dresses it in 
woman's apparel, and after putting it in a large basket 
beside which a wooden club is placed, cries three times, 
** Briid is come ! Briid is welcome ! " Next morning they 
look for the impression of Briid's club in the ashes, which 
is an omen of a good harvest.^ Ash-riddlin is a custom in 
the northern counties. The ashes being riddled or sifted on 
the hearth, if any one of the family be to die within the 
year, the mark of a shoe will be impressed upon the ashes.' 
In Wales they make a bonfire, and when it is extin- 
guished each one throws a white stone into the ashes. In 
the morning they search out the stones, and if any one is 
found wanting, he that threw it will die within the year.' 
In Manxland the ashes are carefully swept to the open 
hearth and nicely flattened down by the women before they 
go to bed. In the morning they look for footmarks on the 
hearth, and if they find such footmarks directed to the 
door, it means in the course of the year a death in the 
family, and if the reverse, they expect an addition to it by 
marriage.* According to one of the Italian charms, ** And 
they were accustomed to divine sometimes with the ashes 
from the sacrifices. And to this day there is a trace of it, 
when that which is to be divined is written on the ashes 
with the finger or with the stick. Then the ashes are 
stirred by the fresh breeze, and one looks for the letters 
which they form by being moved." ' 

Amongst some Hindus, on the tenth night after the death 
of a person, he who fired the funeral pyre is required to sift 

* Dyer, "Popular Customs," 57. • Ibid., 199. 

* Ibid., 398. * "Folk-lore,'* ii. 310. 

* Leland, ^' Etruscan Roman Remains," 345. 

74 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

some ashes, near which a lamp is placed, and the whole 
covered with a basket. Next morning the ashes are ex- 
amined, and the ghost is supposed to have migrated into 
the animal whose mark appears on the ashes.^ So, at the 
annual feast of the dead, the jungle tribes of Mirzapur spread 
ashes on the floor, and a mark generally like that of a 
chicken's foot shows that the family ghosts have visited the 
house. ** On New Year's Eve," says Aubrey, " sift or 
smooth the ashes and leave it so when you go to bed; 
next morning look, and if you find there the likeness of a 
cofl&n, one will die ; if a ring, one will be married." * In 
North Scotland, on the night after the funeral, bread and 
water are placed in the apartment where the body lay. The 
dead man was believed to return that night and partake of 
the food ; unless this were done the spirits could not rest 
in the unseen world. This probably accounts for the so- 
called " food vases " and " drinking cups " found in the long 
barrows.' All Hindus believe that the ghosts of the dead 
return on the night of the DiwAll or feast of lamps. 

Replacing Household Vessels. 

After a death all the household earthen pots are broken 
and replaced. It has been suggested that this is due either 
to the belief that the ghost of the dead man is in some of 
them, or that the custom may have some connection with 
the idea of providing the ghost with utensils in the next 
world.* In popular belief, however, the custom is explained 
by the death pollution attaching to all the family cooking 
vessels, which, if of metal, are purified with fire. The 
vessel is the home of the spirit : " At most Hindu funerals 
a water jar is carried round the p}rre, and then dashed to 
the ground, apparently to show that the spirit has left its 

* " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 35 . 

' " Remaines," 95 ; Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties,**^ 

» Gregor, " Folk-lore of North-East Scotland,** 213. 

* Frazer, *' Contemporary Review,*' xlviii. 117; Spencer, "Principles, 
of Sociology," i. 195. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 75 

earthly home. So, the Surat Chondras set up as spirit 
homes large whitewashed earthen jars laid on their sides. 
Soy to please any spirit likely to injure a crop, an earthen 
jar is set on a pole as the ^rit*s house, and so at a wedding 
or other ceremonies, jars, sometimes empty, sometimes 
filled with water, are piled as homes for planets and other 
marriage gods and goddesses, that they may feel pleased and 
their influence be fiiendly." * 

We have already met with the Kalasa or sacred jar. The 
same idea of the pollution of earthen vessels prevailed 
among the Hebrews, when an earthen vessel remaining in 
a tent in which a person died was considered impure for 
seven days.' 

Funeral Rites in Effigy. 

When a person dies at a distance from home, and it is 
impossible to perform the funeral rites over the body, it is 
cremated in effigy. The special term for this is Kusa-putra, 
or " son of the Kusa grass." Colonel Tod gives a case of 
this when Rija Ummeda of BClndi abdicated : '' An image 
of the prince was made, and a pyre was erected on which 
it was consumed. The hair and whiskers of Ajit, his suc- 
cessor, were taken off and offered to the Manes ; lamenta- 
tions and wailing were heard in the Queen's apartments, 
and the twelve days of mourning were held as if Ummeda 
had really deceased ; on the expiration of which the installa- 
tion of his successor took place." ' 

Ghosts Lengthening Themselves. 

Ghosts, as we have already seen in the case of the 
Naugaza, have the power of changing their length. In the 
well-known tale in the Arabian Nights the demon is shut 
up in a jar under the seal of the Lord Solomon, as in one 
of the German tales the Devil is shut up in a crevice in a 

* Campbell, "Notes," 334. • Numbers xix. 15. 

■ " Annals," iL 542. 

76 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

pine tree, and the ghost of Major Weir of Edinburgh resided 
in his walking-stick/ Some of the Indian ghosts, like the 
Ifrtt of the Arabian Nights, can grow to the length of ten 
yojanas or eighty miles. In one of the Bengal tales a ghost 
is identified because she can stretch out her hands several 
yards for a vessel.^ Some ghosts possess the very dangerous 
power of entering human corpses, like the VetAla, and 
swelling to an enormous size. The Kharwirs of Mirzapur 
have a wild legend, which tells how long ago an unmarried 
girl of the tribe died, and was being cremated. While the 
relations were collecting wood for the pyre, a ghost entered 
the corpse, but the friends managed to expel him. Since 
then great care is taken not to leave the bodies of women 
unwatched. So, in the Panj4b, when a great person is 
cremated the bones and ashes are carefully watched till 
the fourth day, to prevent a magician interfering with them. 
If he has a chance, he can restore the deceased to life, and 
ever after retain him uiider his influence. This is the origin 
of the custom in Great Britain of waking the dead, a practice 
which " most probably originated from a silly superstition 
as to the danger of a corpse being carried off by some of 
the agents of the invisible world, or exposed to the ominous 
liberties of brute animals." * But in India it is considered 
the best course, if the corpse cannot be immediately dis- 
posed of, to measure it carefully, and then no malignant 
Bhiit can occupy it. We have already met with instances 
of a similar idea of the mystic effect supposed to follow on 
measuring or weighing grain. 

Kindly Ghosts. 

Most of the ghosts whom we have been as yet considering 
are malignant. There are, however, others which are 
friendly. Such are the German Elves, the Robin Good- 

1 Grimm, " Household Tales," ii. 402; Clouston, "Popular Tales/*!. 

« Lane, "Arabian Nights," i. 71; Lil Bihiri D^, " Folk-talcs," 198, 

» Brand, " Observations,** 435. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 77 

fellow, Puck, Brownie and the Cauld Lad of Hilton of 
England, the Glashan of the Isle of Man, the Phouka or 
Leprehaun of Ireland. Such, in one of his many forms, is 
the Brahmadaitya, or ghost of a Br&hman who has died 
unmarried. In Bengal he is believed to be more neat and 
less mischievous than other ghosts ; the Bhiits carry him in 
a palanquin, he wears wooden sandals, lives in a Banyan or 
Bel tree, and SankhachClrni is his mistress. He appears to 
be about the only respectable bachelor ghost. In one of the 
folk-tales a ghostly reaper of this class assists his human 
friend, and can cut as much of the crop in a minute as an 
ordinary person can in a day. ^ So, the Manx Brownie is 
called the Fenodyree, and he is described as a hairy, clumsy 
fellow who would thresh a whole bamfiil of com in a single 
night for the people to whom he felt well disposed.* This 
Brahmadaitya is the leader of the other ghosts in virtue of 
his respectable origin ; he lives in a tree, and, unlike other 
varieties of BhAts, does not eat all kinds of food, but only 
such as are considered ceremonially pure. He never, like 
common Bhdts, frightens men, but is harmless and quiet, 
never plaguing benighted travellers, nor entering into the 
bodies of living men or women, but if his dignity be in- 
sulted, or any one trespass on his domains, he wrings their 

Tree Ghosts. 

Hence in regard to trees great caution is required. A 
Hindu will never climb one of the varieties of fig, the Ficus 
Cordifolia, except through dire necessity, and if a Brdhman 
is forced to ascend the Bel tree or Aegle Marmelos for the 
purpose of obtaining the sacred trefoil so largely used in 
Saiva worship, he only does so after offering prayers to the 
gods in general, and to the Brah madaitya in particular who 
may have taken up his abode in this special tree. 

These tree ghosts are, it is needless to say, very numerous. 

1 Lil BiMri Da, " Folk-tales of Bengal," 198,206; " Govinda Simanta," 
i. 135 ; " North Indian Notes and Queries ," iii. 199. 
« " Folk-lore/' ii. 286. 

78 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Hence most local shrines are constructed under trees, and 
in one particular tree, the Bira, the jungle tribes of Mirza- 
pur locate Bdgheswar, the tiger godling, one of their most 
dreaded deities. In the Konkan, according to Mr. Camp- 
bell,* the medium or Bhagat who becomes possessed is called 
Jhdd, or "tree," apparently because he is a favourite 
dwelling-place for spirits. In the Dakkhin it is believed 
that the spirit of the pregnant woman or Churel lives in a 
tree, and the Abors and Padams of East Bengal believe that 
spirits in trees kidnap children.' Many of these tree spirits 
appear in the folk-tales. Thus, Devadatta worships a tree 
which one day suddenly clave in two and a nymph appeared 
who introduced him inside the tree, where was a heavenly 
palace of jewels, in which, reclining on a couch, appeared 
Vidyatprabhd, the maiden daughter of the king of the 
Yakshas; in another story the mendicant hears inside a 
tree the Yaksha joking with his wife." So Daphne is turned 
into a tree to avoid the pursuit of her lover. 

The Brahmaparusha. 

But there is another variety of Br4hman ghost who is 
jmuch dreaded. This is the Brahmaparusha or Brahma 
Rdkshasa. In one of the folk-tales he appears black as 
soot, with hair yellow as the lightning, looking like a 
thunder-cloud. He had made himself a wreath of entrails ; 
he wore a sacrificial cord of hair ; he was gnawing the flesh 
of a man's head and drinking blood out of a skull. In 
another story these Brahma Rikshasas have formidable 
tusks, flaming hair, and insatiable hunger. They wander 
about the forests catching animals and eating them.* Mr. 
Campbell tells a Marha.ta legend of a master who became a 
Brahmaparusha in order to teach grammar to a pupil. He 
haunted a house at Benares, and the pupil went to take 
lessons from him. He promised to teach him the whole 

1 " Notes," 165. » Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology/' 25. 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 229; ii. 116; Tylor, "Primitive 
Culture," i. 476; ii. 148, 215. 

* Tawney, loc, city ii. 338, 511. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 79 

science in a year on condition that he never left the house. 
One day the boy went out and learned that the house was 
haunted, and that he was being taught by a ghost. The 
boy returned and was ordered by the preceptor to take his 
bones to Gaya, and perform the necessary ceremonies for 
the emancipation of his soul. This he did, and the uneasy 
spirit of the learned man was laid.* We have already en- 
countered similar angry Br&hman ghosts, such as Harshu 
P4nr6 and Mahent. 

The Jak and JiKNi. 

The really friendly agricultural sprites are the pair known 
in some places as the ]kk and J^kni, and in others as 
Chordeva and Chordevt, the " thief godlings." With the 
Jik we come on another of these curious survivals from the 
early mythology in a sadly degraded form. As Varuna, the 
god of the firmament, has been reduced in these later 
days to Barun, a petty weather godling, so the J4k is the 
modern representative of the Yaksha, who in better times 
was the attendant of Kuvera, the god of wealth, in which 
duty he was assisted by the Guhyaka. The character of 
the Yaksha is not very certain. He was called Punya-janas, 
" the good people," but he sometimes appears as an imp of 
evil. In the folk-tales, it must be admitted, the Yakshas 
have an equivocal reputation. In one story the female, or 
Yakshint, bewilders travellers at night, makes horns grow 
on their foreheads, and finally devours them; in another 
the Yakshas have, like the Churel, feet turned the wrong 
way and squinting eyes ; in a third they separate the hero 
firom the heroine because he failed to make due offerings to 
them on his wedding day. On the other hand, in a fourth 
tale the Yakshini is described as possessed of heavenly 
beauty ; she appears again when a sacrifice is made in a 
cemetery to get her into the hero's power, as a heavenly 
maiden beautifully adorned, seated in a chariot of gold sur- 
rounded by lovely girls ; and lastly, a Brahman meets some 

1 "Notes," 146 sq. 

8o Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Buddhist ascetics, performs the Uposhana vow, and would 
have become a god, had it not been that a wicked man 
compelled him by force to take food in the evening, and so 
he was re-bom as a Guhyaka.^ 

In the modern folk-lore of Kashmir, the Yaksha has turned 
into the Yech or Yach, a humorous, though powerful, sprite 
in the shape of a civet cat of a dark colour, with a white 
cap on his head. This small high cap is one of the marks 
of the Irish fairies, and the Incubones of Italy wear caps, 
" the symbols of their hidden, secret natures." The feet of 
the Yech are so small as to be almost invisible, and it 
squeaks in a feline way. It can assume any shape, and if 
its white cap can be secured, it becomes the servant of the 
possessor, and the white cap makes him invisible.' 

In the Vishnu Purdna we read that Vishnu created the 
Yakshas as beings emaciate with hunger, of hideous aspect, 
and with big beards, and that from their habit of crying for 
food they were so named.' By the Buddhists they were 
regarded as benignant spirits. One of them acts as sort of 
chorus in the Meghadfita or " Cloud Messenger " of Kili- 
ddsa. Yet we read of the Yaka Alawaka, who, according to 
the Buddhist legend, used to live in a Banyan tree, and 
slay any one who approached it ; while in Ceylon they are 
represented as demons whom Buddha destroyed.* In later 
Hinduism they are generally of fair repute, and one of them 
was appointed by Indra to be the attendant of the Jaina 
Saint Mahdvlra. It is curious that in Gujardt the term 
Yaksha is applied to Musalmdns, and in Cutch to a much 
older race of northern conquerors.' 

At any rate the modern ]&k and ]&kni, Chordeva and 
Chordevt, are eminently respectable and kindly sprites. 
They are, in fact, an obvious survival of the pair of corn 

1 Tawney, loc. city i. 337, 204 ; ii. 427, 83. 

' Temple, "Wide-awake Stories," 317 ; "Indian Antiquary," xi. 260 
sq. ; Leland, " Etruscan Roman Remams," 163. 

• As liixovcijakshy "to eat ;" a more probable derivation is Yaksh, "to 
move," " to worship." 

* Spencer Hardy, " Manual of Buddhism," 269 ; Conway, " Demono- 
logy,"i. 151 sq. 

» " Bombay Gazetteer," v, 133, 236. 

The Evil Eye and the Scaring of Ghosts. 8i 

spirits which inhabit the standing crop.* The J&k is com- 
pelled to live apart from the J4kni in neighbouring viUages, 
but he is an uxorious husband, and robs his own village to 
supply the wants of his consort. So, if you see a com- 
paratively barren village, which is next to one more pro- 
ductive, you may be sure that the Jik lives in the former 
and the Jdkni in the latter. The same is the character of 
the Chor or Chordeva and the Chomt or Chordevi of the 
jungle tribes of Mirzapur 

Ghosts which Protect Cattle. 

In the Hills there are various benevolent ghosts or god- 
lings who protect cattle. Sdin, the spirit of an old ascetic, 
helps the Bhotiyas to recover lost cattle, and Siddhua and 
Buddhua, the ghosts of two harmless goatherds, are invoked 
when a goat falls ill.' In the same class is Nagardeo of 
Garhwdl, who is represented in nearly every village by a 
three-pronged pike or Trisdla on a platform. When cows 
and buffaloes are first milked, the milk is offered to him. 
It is perhaps possible that from some blameless godling 
of the cow-pen, such as Nagardeo, the cult us of Pasupa- 
tinHtha, " the lord of animals," an epithet of Siva or Rudra, 
who has a stately shrine at Hardwdr, where his lingam is 
wreathed with cobras, was derived. Another Hill godling 
of the same class is Chaumu or Baudh&n, who has a shrine 
in every village, which the people at the risk of offending him 
are supposed to keep clean and holy. Lamps are lighted, 
sweetmeats and the fruits of the earth are offered to him. 
When a calf dies the milk of the mother is considered 
unholy till the twelfth day, when some is offered to the 
deity. He also recovers lost animals, if duly propitiated, 
but if neglected, he brings disease on the herd.' 

Another cattle godling in the Hills is Kaluva or Kalbisht, 
who lived on earth some two hundred years ago. His 
enemies persuaded his brother-in-law to kill him. After his 

1 Frazer, '* Golden Bough," ii. 17. * "Himilayan Gazetteer," iii. 117. 

* Ibid, ii. 833 ; " North Indian Notes and Queries,*' i. 56. 


82 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

death he became a benevolent spirit, and the only people he 
injured were the enemies who compassed his death. His 
name is now a charm against wild beasts, and people who 
are oppressed resort to his shrine for justice. Except in 
name he seems to have nothing to say to Kalu Kahdr, who 
was born of a Kahir girl, who by magical charms compelled 
King Solomon to marry her. His fetish is a stick covered 
with peacock's feathers to which offerings of food are made. 
He has more than a quarter of a million worshippers, 
according to the last census, in the Meerut Division. 


We close this long list of ghostly personages with those 
who are merely bugaboos to frighten children. Such are 
Hawwa, probably a corruption through the Prdkrit of the 
Sanskrit Bh6ta, and Humma or Humu, who is said to be 
the ghost of the Emperor Humayiin, who died by an 
untimely death. Akin perhaps to him are the Humanas of 
Kumaun, who take the form of men, but cannot act as 
ordinary persons.^ 

These sprites are to the Bengali matron what Old Scratch 
and Red Nose and Bloody Bones are to English mothers,' 
and when a Bengali baby is particularly naughty its mother 
threatens to send for Warren Hastings. Akin to these is 
Ghoghar, who represents Ghuggu or the hooting of the owl.' 
Nekt Bibt, " the good lady ;" Mano or the cat ; Bhakur ; 
Bhokaswa ; and Dokarkaswa, " the old man with the bag," 
who carries off naughty children, who is the Mr. Miacca of 
the English nursery.* 

1 Ganga Datt, " Folk-lore,' 71. 

' Aubrey, " Remaines," 59 ; Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern 
Counties,'* 263. 

' Ghoghar in Bombay takes the form of a native seaman or Lascar 
" Bombay Gazetteer," iv. 343. 

* Jacobs, "English Fairy Tales.'' 







Sylvarum numina, Fauni 
Et satyri fratres. 

Ovidy Metamorp. iii. 163. 

Avrhp iv avr^ 
Kvaycof AcXixro bpaKmv, KC^aXal dc 01 ffcav 
Tptls dfjL<f)L(rrp€^t£, Ms av;^evor €K7r€<f>vviai, 

Jliad, xi. 38-40. 

The worship of trees and serpents may be conveniently 
considered together; not that there is much connection 
between these two classes of belief, but because this course 
has been followed in Mr. Ferguson's elaborate monograph 
on the subject. 

The worship of trees appears to be based on many con- 
verging lines of thought, which it is not easy to disentangle, 
Mr. H. Spencer ^ classes it as an aberrant species of ancestor 
worship : " A species somewhat more disguised externally, 
but having the same internal nature; and though it de- 
velops in three different directions, still these have all one 
common origin. First, the toxic excitements produced by 
certain plants are attributed to the agency of spirits or 
demons ; secondly, tribes that have come out of places 
characterized by particular trees or plants, unawares change 
the legend of emergence from them into the legend of descent 
from them ; thirdly, the naming of individuals after plants 
becomes a source of confusion." 

According to Dr. Tylor,* again, the worship depends upon 
man's animistic theory of nature : " Whether such a tree 

^ " Principles of Sociology/' i. 359. 
» "Primitive Culture/' ii. 221, 89. 

G 2 

84 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

is looked on as inhabited by its own proper life and soul, 
or as possessed like a fetish by some other spirit which 
has entered it or used it for a body, is often hard to deter- 
mine. The tree may be the spirits' perch or shelter (as we 
have seen in the case of the Churel or Rikshasa), or the 
sacred grove is assumed to be the spirits* resort." 

Mr. Frazer has given a very careful analysis of this branch 
of popular religion/ He shows that to the savage in general 
the world is animate and trees are no exception to the rule ; 
he thinks they have souls like his own and treats them 
accordingly; they are supposed to feel injuries done to 
them ; the souls of the dead sometimes animate them ; the 
tree is regarded sometimes as the body, sometimes as the 
home of the tree spirit ; trees and tree spirits give rain and 
sunshine; they cause the crops to grow; the tree spirit 
makes the herds to multiply and blesses women with 
offspring ; the tree spirit is often conceived and represented 
as detached from the tree and even as embodied in living 
men and women. 

The basis of the cultus may then perhaps be stated as 
follows : There is first the tree which is regarded as embody- 
ing or representing the spirit which influences the fertility 
of crops and human beings. Hence the respect paid to 
memorial trees, where the people assemble, as at the village 
Pipal, which is valued for its shade and beauty and its long 
connection with the social life of the community. This 
would naturally be regarded as the abode of some god and 
forms the village shrine, a convenient centre for the religious 
worship of the local deities, where they reside and accept 
the worship and offerings of their votaries. 

It may, again, be the last survival of the primitive forest, 
where the dispossessed spirits of the jungle find their final 
and only resting-place. Such secluded groves form the only 
and perhaps the earliest shrine of many primitive races. 

Again, an allegorical meaning would naturally be attached 
to various trees. It is invested with a mystic power owing 
to the mysterious waving of its leaves and branches, the 
* " Golden Bough," i. 39. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 85 

result of supernatural agency; and this would account for 
the weird sounds of the forest at night. 

Many trees are evergreen, and thus enjoy eternal life. 
Every tree is a sort of emblem of life, reproducing itself in 
some uncanny fashion with each recurring spring. 

It has some mystic connection with the three worlds — 

Quantum vertice ad auras 

Aetherias tantum radice in Tartara tendii. 

Like Yggdrassil, it connects the world of man with the 
world of gods, and men may, like Jack of the Beanstalk, 
climb by its aid to heaven. In this connection it may be 
noted that many Indian tribes bury their dead in trees. 
The Khasiyas of East Bengal lay the body in the hollow 
trunk of a tree. The N^gas dispose of their dead in the 
same way, or hang them in cofi&ns to the branches. The 
Mariya Gonds tie the corpse to a tree and burn it. The 
Malers lay the corpse of a priest, whose ghost often gives 
trouble, under a tree and cover it with leaves.^ Similar 
customs prevail among primitive races in many parts of the 

The tree embodies in itself many utilities necessary to 
human life, and many qualities which menace its existence. 
Its wood is the source of fire, itself a fetish. Its fruits, 
juices, flowers or bark are sources of food or possess in- 
toxicating or poisonous attributes, which are naturally con- 
nected ■ witji demoniacal influences. Trees often develop 
into curious or uncanny forms, which compel fear or adora- 
tion. Thus according to the old ritual* trees which have 
been struck by lightning, or knocked down by inundation, 
or which have fallen in the direction of the south, or which 
grew on a burning ground or consecrated site, or at the 
confluence of large rivers, or by the roadside ; those which 
have withered tops, or an entanglement of heavy creepers 

1 Dalton, "Descriptive Ethnology," 56, 40, 43, 283; Hislop, ** Papers," 
3 '* Brihatsanhita," Rajendra L^a Mitra, '^ Indo-Aryans," i. 245. 

86 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

upon them, or are the receptacles of many honey-combs or 
birds' nests, are reckoned unfit for the fabrication of bed- 
steads, as they are inauspicious and sure to bring disease 
and death. The step from such beliefs to the worship of 
any curious and remarkable tree is easy. 

Hence the belief that the planting of a grove is a work of 
religious merit, which is so strongly felt by Hindus, and the 
idea that the grove has special religious associations, shown 
by the marriage of its trees to the well, and other rites of 
the same kind. In the Konkan it is very generally believed 
that barrenness is caused by uneasy spirits which wander 
about, and that if a home be made for the spirit by planting 
trees, it will go and reside there and the curse of barren- 
ness will be removed.^ 

Though this branch of the subject has been pushed to 
quite an unreasonable length in some recent books,* there 
may be some association of tree worship with the phallic 
cultus, such as is found in the Asherah or " groves " of the 
Hebrews, the European Maypole, and so on. This has been 
suggested as an explanation of the honour paid by the 
Gypsy race in Germany to the fir tree, the birch and the 
hawthorn, and of the veneration of the Welsh Gypsies to 
the fasciated vegetable growth known to them as the Broado 
Koro.* In the same way an attempt has been made to 
connect the Bel tree with the Saiva worship of the Lingam 
and the lotus with the Yoni. But this part of the subject 
has been involved in so much crude speculation that any 
analogies of this kind, however tempting, must be accepted 
with the utmost caution. 

Further than this, it may be reasonably suspected that 
this cultus rests to some extent on a basis of totemism. 
Some of the evidence in support of this view will be discussed 
elsewhere, but it is, on the analogy of the various modes in 
which the Brdhmanical pantheon has been recruited, not 
improbable that trees and plants, like the Tulasi and the 

1 Campbell, "Notes/* 225. 

* Forlong, " Rivers of Life ;" Westropp, " Primitive Symbolism." 

' Groome, "Encyclopaedia Britannica," s.v. "Gypsies." 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 87 

Pipal, may have been originally tribal totems imported into 
Brihmanism from some aboriginal or other foreign source. 

On the whole it is tolerably certain that there is more 
in tree worship than can be accounted for either by Mr. 
Ferguson's theory that the worship sprang from a perception 
of the utility or beauty of trees, or by Mr. Spencer's theory 
of nicknames. It is sufficient to say that both fail to account 
for the worship of insignificant and comparatively useless 
shrubs, weeds, or grasses. 

Tree worship holds an important part in the popular 
ritual and folk-lore. This is shown by the prejudice against 
cutting trees. The jungle tribes are very averse to cutting 
certain trees, particularly those which are regarded as 
sacred. If a Kharwdr, except at the time of the annual 
feast, cuts his tribal tree, the Karama, he loses wealth and 
life, and none of these tribes will cut the large Sal trees 
which are fixed by the Baiga as the abode of the forest 
godling. This feeling prevails very strongly among the 
Maghs of Bengal. Nothing but positive orders and the 
presence of Europeans would induce them to trespass on 
many hill-tops, which they regarded as occupied by the 
tree demons. With the Europeans, however, they would 
advance fearlessly, and did not hesitate to fell trees, the 
blame of such sacrilege being always laid on the strangers. 
On felling any large tree, one of the party was always pre- 
pared with a green sprig, which he ran and placed in the 
centre of the stump when the tree fell, as a propitiation to 
the spirit which had been displaced so roughly, pleading at 
the same time the orders of the strangers for the work. In 
clearing one spot an orderly had to take the d&h or cleaver 
and fell the first tree himself before a Magh would make 
a stroke, and was considered to bear all the odium of 
the work with the disturbed spirits till the arrival of the 
Europeans relieved him of the burden.' 

In folk-lore we have many magic trees. We have the 
Kalpataru or Kalpadruma, also known as Kalpavriksha, or 
Manoratha dayaka, the tree which grows in Swarga or the 

^ "Calcutta Review," xxvi. 512. 

88 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

paradise of Indra and grants all desires. There is, again, 
the P4rij4ta, which was produced at the churning of the 
ocean, and appropriated by Indra, from whom it was re- 
covered by Krishna. The tree in the Meghaddta bears 
clothes, trinkets, and wine, which is like the Juniper tree of 
the German tale, which grants a woman a son. Many such 
trees appear in the Indian folk-tales. The King Jimutaketu 
had a tree in his house which came down from his an- 
cestors, and was known as " the giver of desires " ; the 
generous Induprabha craved a boon from Indra, and became 
a wishing tree in his own city ; and the faithful minister of 
Yasaketu sees a wave rise out of the sea and then a wishing 
tree appears, " adorned with boughs glittering with gold, 
embellished with sprays of coral, bearing lovely fruits and 
flowers of jewels. And he beheld on its trunk a maiden, 
alluring on account of her wonderful beauty, reclining on a 
gem-bestudded couch." ' So, in the story of Devadatta, the 
tree is cloven and a heavenly nymph appears. We have 
trees which, like those in the Odyssey, bear fruit and flowers 
at the same time, and in the garden of the Asura maiden 
" the trees were ever producing flowers and fruits, for all 
seasons were present there at the same time." ^ 

We have many trees, again, which are produced in mi- 
raculous ways. In one of the modern tales the tiger collects 
the bones of his friend, the cow, and from her ashes spring 
two bamboos, which when cut give blood, and are found to 
be two boys of exquisite grace and beauty.* So in Grimm's 
tale of" One Eye, Two Eyes, and Three Eyes," the tree 
grows from the buried entrails of the goat. In another of 
Somadeva's stories the heroine drops a tear on the Jambu 
flower and a fruit grew, within which a maiden was pro- 
duced/ The incident of the tree which grows on the 
mother's grave and protects her helpless children is the 
common property of folk-lore. Again, we have the heavenly 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit SAgara,'* i. 174 ; ii. 181, 592, 286. 

* Ibid., ii. 270. 

* ** North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 123 ; Grimm, " Household 
Tales," ii. 429. ^ 

* Ibid., ii. 142. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 89 

fruit which was given by the grateful monkey, and freed 
him who ate it from old age and disease, like the tree in 
Aelian which makes an old man become younger and 
younger until he reaches the antenatal stage of non- 

We have many instances of trees which talk. The 
mango tree shows the hero how the magic bird is to be cut 
out of it ; the heroine is blessed and aided by the plantain 
tree, cotton tree, and sweet basil; she is rewarded by a 
plum and fig tree for services rendered to them.* In one of 
the Kashmir tales the tree informs the hero of the safety of 
his wife. So, in Grimm's tale of the " Lucky Spinner," the 
tree speaks when the man is about to cut it down.* 

In one of the stories, as a link between tree and serpent 
worship, the great palace of the snake king is situated 
under a solitary Asoka tree in the Vindhyan forest. In the 
same collection we meet continually instances of tree 
worship. The BrAhman Somadatta worships a great 
Asvattha, or fig tree, by walking round it so as to keep it on 
his right, bowing and making an oblation ; Mrigankadatta 
takes refuge in a tree sacred to Ganesa ; and Naravihana- 
datta comes to a sandal tree surrounded with a platform 
made of precious jewels, up which he climbs by means of 
ladders and adores it.* 

We have a long series of legends by which certain famous 
trees are supposed to have been produced from the tooth - 
twig of some saint. The famous hawthorn of Glastonbury 
was supposed to be sprung from the staff of Joseph of 
Arimathea, who having fixed it in the ground on Christmas 
Day, it took root immediately, put forth leaves, and the 
next day was covered with milk-white blossoms.' Tra- 
ditions of the DantadhAvana or tooth-brush tree of Buddha 
still exist at Gonda ; another at Ludhidna is attributed to 
Abdul Qadir Jilani ; there is a Buddha tree at Saketa, and 

^ Grimm, " Household Tales," ii. 596. 
' Temple, " Wide-awake Stories,'* 413. 
• • Knowles, "Folk-tales," 184; Grimm, /oc, cit, ii. 428. 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sagara," i. 153 ; ii. 387, 460. 

* Dyer, " Popular Customs," 467. 

go Folk-lore of Northern India. 

the great Banyan tree at Broach was similarly produced 
by Kabir. So, the Santdls believe that good men turn into 

Next come the numerous sacred groves scattered all over 
the country. These, as we have seen, are very often re- 
garded as a survival from the primeval jungle, where the 
forest spirits have taken refuge. The idea is common both 
to the Aryan as well as to the DrAvidian races, from the 
latter of whom it was possibly derived. 

Thus, among the jungle races we find that there are many 
groves, known as Sarna, in which the Cheros and Kharwars 
offer triennial sacrifices of a buffalo or other animal. The 
Kisdns have sacred groves, called Sd. The Mundiri Kols 
keep " a fragment of the original forest, the trees in which 
have been for ages carefully protected, left when the 
clearance was first made, lest the sylvan gods ot the place, 
disgusted at the wholesale felling of the trees which pro- 
tected them, should abandon the locality. Even now if a 
tree is destroyed in the sacred grove, the gods evince their 
displeasure by withholding seasonable rain." This idea of 
the influence of cutting trees on weather has been illus- 
trated by Mr. Frazer from the usages of other races.' So, 
among the Khdndhs, " that timber may never be wanting, 
in case of accidents from fire or from enemies, a con- 
siderable grove, generally of Sal, is uniformly dedicated by 
every village to the forest god, whose favour is ever and 
anon sought by the sacrifice of birds, hogs, and sheep, with 
the usual accompaniments of rice and an addled egg. The 
consecrated grove is religiously preserved, the trees being 
occasionally pruned, but not a twig cut for use without the 
formal consent of the village and the formal propitiation of 
the god." ' Among the Kols, in these groves the tutelary 
deities of the village are supposed to sojourn when attending 
to the wants of their votaries.* In the Central Provinces 

* Fiihrer, " Monumental Antiquities," 304 ; ** North Indian Notes and 
Queries,*' i. 4, 37 ; " Bombay Gazetteer," ii. 355. 

2 « Golden Bough," i. 61. 

' ** North Indian Notes and Queries,*' ii. 112. 

* Dalton, "Descriptive Ethnology," 129, 132, 141, 186, 188. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 91 

the Badiyas worship the manes of their ancestors in a grove 
of Saj trees/ In BerAr the wood of the Pathrot forests is 
believed to be dedicated to a neighbouring temple, and no 
one will cut or buy it ; and in other places in the same 
province the sacred groves are so carefully preserved, that 
during the annual festivals held in them it is the custom 
to coUect and burn solemnly all dead and fallen branches 
and trees.' 

Among the higher races the same feelings attach to the 
holy groves of Mathura, each of which has appropriated 
one of the legends of the Krishna myth. Thus, there is a 
particularly sacred grove at BhadanwAra, and it is believed 
that any one violating the sanctity of the place by telling a 
lie within its precincts will be stricken with leprosy. In 
another at Hasanpur Bara the trees are under the pro- 
tection of the curse of a Faqir, and in many places people 
object to having toddy collected from the palm trees, be- 
cause it necessitates cutting their necks.' In the Northern 
Hills the S41 and bamboos at Barmdeo are never cut, as 
they are sacred to the local Devi.* In Kulu, "near the 
village were a number of cypresses, much decayed, and 
many quite dead. Some of my people had begun to strip 
off their dry branches for fuel, when one of the conductors 
of our caravan came to me in great agitation, and implored 
me to command them to desist. The trees, he said, were 
sacred to the deities of the elements, who would be sure to 
revenge any injury done to them by visiting the neighbour- 
hood with heavy and untimely snow." * 

In a village in Lucknow, noticeable among the trees is a 
" single mango tree, of fine growth and comely shape. It 
is the survivor of some old grove, which the owner, through 
straitened circumstances, has reluctantly cut down. He 
called it Jdk, or Sakhiya, the witness of the place where 
the old grove stood."* ]&k is, as we have seen, the Corn 

1 Hislop, •' Papers," 20. » " Berir Gazetteer," 29, 31. 

* Growse, ** Mathura,'' 70, 76 sqq., 83, 420, 470, 458. 

* " Him&layan Gazetteer," Hi. 47. • Moorcroft, " Travels,** i. 21 r. 

* ** North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. i6» 

92 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

spirit. The preservation of these little patches of the 
primeval jungle, with a view to conciliate the sylvan spirits 
of the place, is exactly analogous to what is known in 
Scotland as the " Gudeman's Croft," " Cloutie's Croft," or 
" Gudeman's Field." Often in Northern India little patches 
are left uncultivated in the corners of fields as a refuge for 
the spirits, as in North Scotland many farmers leave a 
corner of the field untilled, and say it is for the " Aul Man," 
or the Devil.* 

Some trees are, again, considered to be mystically con- 
nected with the fortunes of people and places. Thus, the 
Chilbil tree at Gonda, which, like others which have already 
been mentioned, sprouted from the tooth-twig of a saint, 
was supposed to be mysteriously connected with the fate 
of the last of the Gonda R&jas. His kingdom was to last 
until the day a monkey sat on the tree, and this, it is said, 
happened on the morning when the Mutiny broke out which 
ended in the ruin of the dynasty.' In the same way the 
moving wood of Dunsinane was fateful to the fortunes of 

We have already referred to some of the regular tree 
sprites, like the Churel, R4kshasa, and Bansapti Mi. They 
are, like Kliddo, the North British sprite, small and delicate 
at first, but rapidly shooting into the clouds, while everything 
it overshadows is thrown into confusion.' 

How sprites come to inhabit trees is well shown in an 
instance given from Bombay by Mr. Campbell. " In the 
Dakkhin, when a man is worried by a spirit, he gives it a 
tree to live in. The patient, or one of his relations, goes to 
a seer and brings the seer to his house, frankincense is 
burnt, and the sick man's spirit comes into the seer's body. 
The people ask the spirit in the seer why the man is sick. 

^ Conway, " Demon ology," i. 315 sq. ; Farrer, " Primitive Manners," 
309 ; Sir W. Scott, " Letters on Demonology," 79 ; Gregor, " Folk-lore 
of North-East Scotland," n6, 179; Henderson, "Folk- lore of the 
Northern Counties,'^ 278. 

' "Oudh Gazetteer," i. 566 ;*Fuhrer, " Monumental Antiquities," 304. 
See instances collected by Hartland, ** Legend of Perseus," ii. 35 sqq. 

• Henderson, loc, at,, 273. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 93 

He says, ' The ghost of the man you killed has come back, 
and is troubling you.' Then they say, *What is to be 
done ? ' The spirit says, * Put him in a place in his or in 
your land.' The people say, ' How can we put him ? ' 
The spirit says, * Take a cock, five cocoanuts, rice, and red 
lead, and fill a bamboo basket with them next Sunday 
evening, and by waving the basket round the head of the 
patient, take the ghost out of the patient.' When Sunday 
afternoon comes they call the exorcist. If the ghost has 
not haunted the sick man for a week, it is held that the 
man was worried by that ghost, who is now content with 
the proposed arrangement. If the patient is still sick, it is 
held that it cannot be that ghost, but it must be another 
ghost, perhaps a god who troubles him. 

" The seer is again called, and his familiar spirit comes 
into him. They set the sick man opposite him, and the 
seer throws rice on the sick man, and the ghost comes into 
the patient's body and begins to speak. The seer asks 
him, * Are you going or not ? ' The ghost replies, ' I will 
go if you give me a cock, a fowl, a cocoanut, red lead, and 
rice.' They then bring the articles and show them to the 
spirit. The spirit sees the articles, and says, ' Where is the 
cocoanut ? ' or, * Where is the rice ? ' They add what he 
says, and ask, ' Is it right ? ' * Yes, it is right,' replies the 
spirit. ' If we drive you out of Bdpu, will you come out ? ' 
ask the people. * I will come out,' replies the ghost. The 
people then say, ' Will you never come back ? ' 'I will 
never return,' replies the ghost. * If you ever return,' says 
the seer's spirit, ' I will put you in a tanner's well, sink you, 
and ruin you.' * I will,' says the spirit, ' never come back, 
if you take these things to the Pipal tree in my field. You 
must never hurt the PJpal. If you hurt the Pipal, I will 
come and worry you.' 

" Then the friends of the patient make the cooked rice in 
a ball, and work a little hollow in the top of the ball. They 
sprinkle the ball with red powder, and in the hollow put a 
piece of a plantain leaf, and on the leaf put oil, and a wick, 
which they light. Then the Gidi, or flesh-eating priest, 

94 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

brings the goat in front of the sick man, sprinkles the goat s 
head with red powder and flowers, and says to the spirit, 
'This is for you; take it.' He then passes three fowls 
three times from the head to the foot of the sick man, and 
then from the head lowers all the other articles. The G4di, 
or Mh4r, and some friends of the patient start for the place 
named by the spirit. When the party leave, the sick man 
is taken into the house and set close to the threshold. 
They put water on his eyes, and filling a pot with water, 
throw it outside where the articles were, and inside and 
outside scatter cowdung ashes, saying, * If you come in you 
will have the curse of Rdma and Lakshmana.' When the 
Gddi and the party reach their destination, the G4di tells 
the party to bring a stone the size of a cocoanut. When 
the stone is brought, the Gidi washes it and puts it to the 
root of the tree and sets about it small stones. On the tree 
and on the middle stone he puts red lead, red powder, and 
frankincense. The people then tell the spirit to stay there, 
and promise to give him a cocoanut every year if he does 
them no harm. They then kill the goat and the fowls, 
and, letting the blood fall in front of the stone, offer the 
heart and liver to the spirit, and then return home." * 

From ceremonies like these, in which a malignant spirit 
is entombed in a tree and its surrounding stones, the 
transition to the general belief in tree sprites is easy. The 
use of the various articles to scare spirits will be understood 
from what has been already said on that subject. 

The Karam Tree. 

Passing on to trees which are considered specially sacred, 
we find a good example in the Karam (Neuclea parvifolia)^ 
which is revered by the Kharwdrs, Minjhis, and some of 
the other allied DrAvidian races of the Vindhyan and 
KaimOr ranges. 

In Shdhabdd, their great festival is the worship of the 
sacred tree. ** Commenced early in the bright portion of 

* Campbell, " Notes," 221 sq. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 95 

the month Bh&don (August — September), it continues for 
fifteen days. It marks the gladness with which people 
wind up their agricultural operations all over the world. 
The festivities begin with a fast during the day. In the 
evening the young men of the village only proceed in a gay 
circle to the forest. A leafy branch of the Karam is 
selected, cut, and daubed with red lead and butter. Brought 
in due state, it is planted in the yard in front of the house, 
and is decorated with wreaths of wild flowers, such as 
autumn yields to the Hill men with a bountiful hand. The 
homely ritual of the Kharwdr then follows, and is finished 
with the offering of corn and molasses. The worship over, 
the head of the village community serves the men with a 
suitable feast. But the great rejoicing of the season is 
reserved for a later hour. After dinner the men and women 
appear in their gala dress, and range themselves in two 
opposite rows. The MAndar, or national drum of the 
aborigines, is then struck, and the dance commences with 
a movement forward, until the men and women draw close. 
Once face to face, a gradual movement towards the right 
is commenced, and the men and women advance in a 
slow but merry circle, which takes about an hour to 

" Under the influence of the example of the Hindus, the 
practice of a national dance in which women take a promi- 
nent part is already on the decline. When indulged in, it 
is done with an amount of privacy, closed to the public, 
but open to the members of the race only. It is difiicult, 
however, to explain why the Karam tree should be so greatly 
adored by the Kharwdrs. It is an insignificant tree, with 
small leaves, which hardly affords shelter or shade, and 
possesses no title to be considered superior to others in its 
native forest. Nor in the religious belief of the Kharwars 
have we been able to trace any classic tale connected with 
the growth of the Karam grove, similar to that of the 
peacefiil olive of old, or aromatic laurel. One im- 
portant, though the last incident of the Karam worship 
is the appearance of the demon to the Kharwdr village men. 

96 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

GeneraUy at the conclusion of the dance the demon takes 
possession of a Kharwdr, who commences to talk, tremble, 
and jump, and ultimately climbs up the branch of the 
Karam and begins to eat the leaves. Consultation about 
the fortunes of the year then takes place, and when the 
demon has foretold them the festivities are concluded." * 

This account omits two important points which enable us 
to explain the meaning of the rite. The first is that when 
the festivities are over the branch of the Karam tree is taken 
and thrown into a stream or tank. This can hardly, on the 
analogy of similar practices to which reference has been 
already made, be an)rthing but a charm to produce season- 
able rain. Another is that sprigs of barley grown in a special 
way, as at the Upper India festival of the Jayi, which will be 
discussed later on, are offered to the tree. This must be an 
invocation to the deity of the tree to prosper the growth of 
the autumn rice, which is just at this time being planted 

I have seen the Karama danced by the Mfi.njhis, a DrAvi- 
dian tribe in Mirzapur, closely allied to the Kharwars. The 
people there seem to affect no secrecy about it, and are quite 
ready to come and dance before Europeans for a small 
gratuity. The men expect to receive a little native liquor 
between the acts, but the ladies of the ballet will accept only 
a light supper of coarse sugar. The troupe consists of about 
a dozen men and the same number of women. The sexes 
stand in rows opposite to each other, the women clinging 
together, each with her arms clasped round her neighbour's 
waist. One man carrying the sacred Mdndar drum, beats it 
and leads the ballet, hopping about in a curious way on one 
leg alternately. The two lines advance and retreat, the 
women bowing low all the time, with their heads bending 
towards the ground, and joining occasionally in the refrain. 
Most of the songs are apparently modern, bearing on the 
adventures of R4ma, Lakshmana, and Sttk ; some are love 
songs, many of which are, as might have been expected, 
rude and indecent. The whole scene is a curious picture of 
» " Calcutta Review," Ixix. 364 sq. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 97 

genuine aboriginal life. At the regular autumn festival the 
ceremony degenerates into regular saturnalia, and is, if 
common rumour be trusted, accompanied by an absolute 
abandonment of decency and self-respect which culminates 
in the most unrestrained debauchery. 

The modern explanation of the dance is embodied in a 
folk-tale which turns on the verbal confusion between Karam, 
the name of the tree, and the Sanskrit Karma, meaning 
" good works." It is, of course, comparatively modern, and 
quite useless as a means for ascertaining the real basis of the 
custom, which is probably a means of propitiating the tree 
god to grant favourable weather. 

The Fig Tree. 

Among the sacred trees the various varieties of the fig 
hold a conspicuous place. Many ideas have probably united 
in securing reverence for them. Thus the Banyan with its 
numerous stems may fitly be regarded as the home of gods 
or spirits. Others are valued as a source of food, or 
because they possess juices valued as drink or medicine. 

Such is the Umbar, the Udambara of the Sanskrit writers, 
which is known as Kshlra Vriksha or " milk tree," and 
Hemadugha or " golden juiced," the Ficus glomerata of 
botanists, from the succulent roots of which water can be 
found in times of drought. The juice has, in popular belief, 
many valuable properties. A decoction of it is useful for 
bile, melancholy, and fainting ; it prevents abortion and 
increases the mother's milk.* According to the old ritual, 
of its wood is made the seat of the father god Vivasvat, 
which is specially worshipped at the close of the Soma 
sacrifice ; the throne on which Soma is placed is made of it, 
and so is the staff given by the Adhvaryu to the sacrificer 
at the initiation rite, and the staff of the Vaisya student. 

So with the Pipal ( Ficus religiosa), which is connected with 
old temples, as it forces its roots into the crumbling masonry, 
grows to a great age, and, like the poplar, moves its leaves at 

1 Campbell, " Notes," 237. 

98 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

the slightest breath of wind. The English tradition about 
the aspen is that since its wood was used to make the Cross 
it ever trembles with shame. The Pippala or Asvattha is 
said by some to be the abode of Brahma, and is sometimes 
invested with the sacred thread by the regular Upaniyana 
rite. Others say that in it abide Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, 
but specially Vishnu in his incarnation as Krishna. Others, 
again, connect it with Basdeo or Vasudeva, the father of 

The Vata or Nyagrodha {Ficus Indica) was, according to 
the ancient ritual, possessed of many virtues, and the 
king was directed to drink its juice instead of that of the 
Soma.^ The famous AUahibid fig tree is mentioned in the 
Rdmiyana and in the Uttara Rdma Charitra., Sita 
and Lakshmana are said to have rested beneath its branches. 
Another legend tells how the Rishi Mdrkandeya had the 
presumption to ask NdrSyana to show him a specimen of his 
delusive power. The god in answer to his prayer drowned 
the whole world in a sudden flood, and only the Akshaya 
Vata or imperishable Banyan tree raised its h^ad above the 
waters, with a little child seated on its topmost bough, that 
put out its head and saved the terrified saint just as he was 
on the point of drowning. The Buddhist pilgrim, Hwen 
Thsang, says that in his time before the principal room of 
the temple there was a tree with wide-spreading branches, 
which was said to be the dwelling of a man-eating demon. 
The tree was surrounded with human bones, the remains of 
pilgrims who had offered themselves at the temple, a custom 
which had been observed from time immemorial. General 
Cunningham identifies this tree with the Akshaya Vata, 
which is still an object of worship. The well-known 
Banyan tree of Ceylon is said to be descended from it.' 

It was under the Bodhi tree at Gaya that the Buddha 
obtained enlightenment. The great sacred Banyan tree of 
the Him^aya is said to have reached from Badarinalth to 

^ Haug, " Aitareya Brahmanam," ii. 486 sq. 

* Cunningham, " Bhilsa Topes," 24 ; " Archaeological Reports," i. 5 sq. ; 
Ferguson, " Eastern Architecture," 69 ; Fiihrer, " Monumental Anti- 
quities,'* 127. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 99 

Nand Praydg, a distance of eighty miles.* In Bombay 
women worship the Banyan tree on the fifteenth of the 
month of Jeth in honour of Savitri, the pious wife of Satya- 
van, who when her husband was cutting a Banyan tree was 
struck by the axe and killed. Yama appeared and claimed 
her husband, but at last he was overcome by the devotion of 
Savitri and restored her husband to her.* 

Of the G61ar (Ficus glomeratd) it is believed that on the 
night of the Div41t the gods assemble to pluck its flowers ; 
hence no one has ever seen the tree in blossom. It is 
unlucky to grow a Giilar tree near the house, as it causes 
the death of sons in the family. 

High-caste Hindu women worship the Pipal tree in the 
form of Vasudeva on the Amdvasya or fifteenth day of the 
month, when it falls on Monday. They pour water at its 
roots, smear the trunk with red lead and ground sandal- 
wood, and walk round it one hundred and eight times in the 
course of the sun, putting at each circuit a copper coin, a 
sweetmeat, or a Brdhmanical cord at the root, all of which 
are the perquisite of beggars. An old woman then recites 
the tale of the R4ja Nikimjali and his queen Satyavrati, who 
won her husband by her devotion to the sacred tree. 
Hence devotion to it is supposed to promote wedded happi- 

In Rijputana the Pipal and Banyan are worshipped by 
women on the 29th day of Baisikh (April — May) to preserve 
them from widowhood.' The Pipal is invoked at the rite of 
investiture with the sacred thread at marriages and at the 
foundation-laying of houses. Vows are made under its 
shade for the boon of male offspring, and pious women veil 
their faces when they pass it. Many, as they revolve 
round it, twist a string of soft cotton round the trunk. The 
vessel of water for the comfort of the departing soul on its 
way to the land of the dead is hung from its branches, and 
beneath it are placed the rough stones which form the 
shrine of the village godling. Its wood is used in parts of 

> "Himilayan Gazetteer,*' ii. 783. ^ Campbell, " Notes," 238. 

» Tod, ** Annals,'' i. 611. 

H 2 

100 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

the Arani, or sacred fire-drill, and for the spoons with which 
butter is poured on the holy fire. When its branches are 
attacked by the lac insect, a branch on which they have 
settled is taken to the Ganges at Allahabad and consigned 
to the Ganges. This, it is believed, saves the tree firom 
further injury. 

The tree should be touched only on Sunday, when 
Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, abides in it ; on every other 
day of the week, poverty and misfortune take up their 
quarters in it. The son of a deceased parent should pour 
three hundred and sixty brass vessels of water round its 
root to ensure the repose of the dead man. Hindus on 
Sunday after bathing pour a vessel of water at its root and 
walk round it four times. Milk and sugar are sometimes 
mixed with the water to intensify the charm. When the 
new moon falls on Monday, pious Hindus walk one hundred 
and eight times round it and wind cotton threads about the 
trunk. In rich Hindu families small silver models of the 
tree answer the same purpose. When a statement is made 
on oath, the witness takes one of the leaves in his hand and 
invokes the gods above him to crush him, as he crushes the 
leaf, if he is guilty of falsehood. 

Though Sir Monier- Williams gives currency to it, it may 
be suspected that the story of the Banyas who objected to 
Ptpal trees being planted in their bizar, as they could not 
carry on their roguery under the shade of the holy tree, has 
been invented for the delectation of the confiding European 
tourist. As a matter of fact you will often see merchants 
plant the tree in the immediate neighbourhood of their shops. 
It is needless to say that this regard for the Pipal extends 
through Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Sumatra, and Java.* 

The SlL. 

The S61 or Sdkhu is also a holy tree. It is held in much 
respect by the jungle races, who consider it the abode of 
spirits and erect their shrines under its shade. The Bigdis 

^ See instances collected by Wake, "Serpent Worship,'' i8. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. ioi 

and Bauris of Bengal are married in an arbour made of the 
branches of the SAl {Shorea robusta) after they have been first 
married to a Mahua tree (Bassia latifolid). Patches of this 
tree are often reserved as fragments of the primitive 
jungle, of which it must have constituted an important 

The ShIsham. 

The Shisham or Sison, the Sinsapa of the Sanskrit 
writers, is in the tales of Somadeva the haunt of the VetAla.* 

The Jand. 

In the Panjdb the Jand tree {Prosopis spicigerd) is very 
generally reverenced, more especially in those parts where it 
forms a chief feature in the larger flora of the great arid 
grazing tracts. It is commonly selected to mark the abode 
or shelter the shrine of some deity. It is to it that, as a 
rule, rags are dedicated as offerings, and it is employed in 
the marriage ceremonies of many tribes. Most Khatris and 
Brdhmans perform rites to it, especially at festivals con- 
nected with domestic occurrences. A custom prevails in 
some families of never putting home-made clothes upon the 
children, but of begging them from friends. This is, as we 
have already seen, done with the view of avoiding the Evil 
Eye. The ceremony of putting on these clothes is usually 
performed when the child is three years of age. It is taken 
to the Jand tree, from which a bough is cut with a sickle 
and planted at the root of the tree as a propitiation of the 
indwelling spirit. The Sw&stika symbol is made before it 
with the rice, flour, and sugar brought as an offering to the 
tree. Nine threads from the Mauli, or string used by women 
to tie up their back hair, are then taken out and cut into 
lengths, one of which is tied round the tree with the knot 
characteristic of Siva or Krishna, and another fbund a piece 
of dried molasses, which is placed on the Swastika. Man- 
tras or spells are repeated and the sugar and rice are distri- 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sfi-gara," ii. 293. 

I02 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

buted among the women and children ; for no male adult, 
except the officiating Brdhman, attends the ceremony. The 
Brahman then dresses the child in the new clothes, on which 
he impresses the mark of his hand in saffron, and girds the 
child's loins with a hair string, on which is tied the bag or 
purse containing the Br&hman's fee. The hair string has in 
front a triangular piece of red silk, which, as we have 
already noticed, is one of the most familiar forms of amulet 
intended to repel the influence of evil spirits. Similarly at 
marriages, they perform the ceremony of cutting off and 
burning a small branch of the tree, and offerings are made 
to it by the relations of persons suffering from small-pox.* 

The Aonla. 

The Aonla [Emblica officinalis) is another sacred tree. It 
is considered propitious and chaste, and is worshipped in the 
month of Kdrttik (December) by Br&hmans being fed under 
it, hair strings {mauli) being tied round it, and seven 
circumambulations made in the course of the sun. The 
eleventh of the month Phdlgun (February) is sacred to it, 
and on this occasion libations are poured at the foot of the 
tree, a string of red or yellow colour is bound round the 
trunk, prayers are offered to it for the fruitfulness of 
women, animals, and crops, and the ceremony concludes 
with a reverential inclination to the sacred tree.^ 

The Mahua. 

The Mahua {Bassia latifolia), which so admirably combines 
beauty with utility, and is one of the main sources whence 
the jungle tribes derive their food and intoxicants, is held in 
the highest respect by the people of the Central Indian 
Highlands. It is the marriage tree of the Kurmis, Lohdrs, 
Mahilis, Mundas, and Santdls of Bengal. Many of the 

* Ibbetson, *< Panj&b Ethnography," i iS ; " Panj&b Notes and Queries," 
ii. 55 ; O'Brien, " Mult^ni Glossary," 82. 

^ **Panjdb Notes and Queries," ii. 74; Elliot, "Supplementary 
Glossary," 26. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 103 

Dr& vidian races, such as the Bhuiyas, adore it, and a branch 
is placed in the hands of the bride and bridegroom during 
the marriage ceremony. They also revolve round a bough 
of the tree planted in the ground by the Baiga or aboriginal 
priest. Some of the semi-Hinduized Bengal Gonds have 
the remarkable custom of tying the corpses of adult males 
by a cord to the Mahua tree, in an upright position, previous 
to burial. It is also the rule with them that all adult males 
go to the forest and clear a space round an Asan tree 
{Terminalia alata tonneniosa)^ where they make an altar and 
present offerings to the tribal godling, Bara Deo, after which 
they have a general picnic.^ 

The Cotton Tree. 

The Salmali or Semal (Bombax heptaphyllum) is likewise 
sacred, an idea perhaps derived from its weird appearance 
and the value of its fibre, which was largely used by the 
primitive races of the jungle. It gave its name to one of 
the seven Dvipas or great divisions of the known continent, 
and to a special hell, in which the wicked are tortured with 
the K<ita Salmali, or thorny rod of this tree. In the folk- 
tales a hollow cotton tree is the refuge of the heroine.' 
The posts of the marriage pavilion and stake round which 
the bride and bridegroom revolve are very commonly made 
of its wood among the Kols and allied Drdvidian tribes, as 
are also the parrot totem emblems used at marriages by the 
Kharwars and many menial castes. The Ba.nsphors, a 
branch of the great Dom race in the North-Western Pro- 
vinces, fix up a branch of the Gtjlar and Semal in the 
marriage shed. " Among the wild tribes it is considered 
the favourite seat of gods still more terrible than those of 
the Pipal, because their superintendence is confined to the 
neighbourhood, and having their attention less occupied, 
they can venture to make a more minute scrutiny into the 

^ Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 148, 281, 283 ; Roussclet, " India 
and its Native Princes,'* 369 sq. 
* Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 162. 

104 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

conduct of the people immediately around them. The Pipal 
is occupied by one or two of the Hindus triad, the gods of 
creation, preservation, and destruction, who have the afifairs 
of the universe to look after, but the cotton and other trees 
are occupied by some minor deities, who are vested with a 
local superintendence over the afifairs of a district, or perhaps 
of a single village." * 

The NlM. 

The Nimba or Nim {Azidirachta Indicd) is sacred in con- 
nection with the worship of the godlings of disease, who are 
supposed to reside in it. In particular it is occupied by 
SitalA and her six sisters. Hence during the season when 
epidemics prevail, from the seventh day of the waning moon 
of Chait to the same date in Assirh, that is during the hot 
weather, women bathe, dress themselves in fresh clothes, 
and ofifer rice, sandal-wood, flowers, and sometimes a burnt 
ofifering with incense at the root of the tree. 

The Ntm tree is also connected with snake worship, as its 
leaves repel snakes. In this it resembles the Yggdrassil of 
Europe, the roots of which were half destroyed by the 
serpents which nestled among them. The leaves and wood 
of the ash tree, the modern successor of the mystic tree of 
Teutonic mythology, are still regarded throughout all 
Northern Europe as a powerful protective from all manner 
of snakes and evil worms.* In Cornwall no kind of snake is 
ever found near the ashen tree, and a branch of it will 
prevent a snake from coming near a person.' Nim leaves 
are, it may be noted, useless as a snake scarer unless they 
are fresh.* 

The leaves are also used throughout Northern India as a 
means of avoiding the death pollution, or rather as a mode 
of driving ofif the spirit which accompanies the mourners 

^ Sleeman, " Rambles and Recollections," ii. i8 ; Tylor, " Primitive 
Culture," ii. 225. 

2 " Quarterly Review,'' cxiv. 226; ** Folk-lore,'' iii. 88. 

' Hunt, " Popular Romances/' 420. 

* Temple, '* Legends of the Panjib," i. 473. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 105 

from the cremation ground. Hence after the funeral they 
chew the leaves and some water is sprinkled over them with 
a branch of the tree. " So great is the power of the Nim 
over spirits and spirit disease, that in Bombay, when a 
woman is delivered of a child, Nlm leaves and cow's urine 
are, as a rule, kept at the entrance of the lying-in room, in 
order that the child and its mother may not be affected by 
an evil spirit, and on their New Year's Day it is considered 
essential for every Hindu to worship the Nim tree and to 
eat its leaves mixed with pepper and sugar, that he may not 
suffer from any sickness or disease during the year. In 
practice very few worship the tree, but its leaves are 
generally eaten by most of them. Among the Chitpdwan 
Brihmans, a pot filled with cow's urine is set at the door of 
the lying-in room with a Nim branch in it, and anyone 
coming in must dip the branch in the urine and with it 
sprinkle his feet. Among Govardhan Br&hmans of P6na, 
when a child is born, Nim leaves are hung at the front and 
back doors of the house. In Ahmadnagar, when a person / 
is bitten by a snake, he is taken to Bhairoba's temple, [ 
crushed Nim leaves mixed with chillies are given him to eat, 
and Nim leaves waved round his head. Among the Namdeo 
Shimpis of Ahmadnagar each of the mourners carries from 
the pyre a twig of the Nim tree, and the Kanphatas of Cutch 
get the cartilage of their ears slit, and in the slit a Nim J 
stick is stuck, the wound being cured by a dressing of Nlm 
oil." ' 

We have already found this tree connected with Sun 
worship, as in the case of the NimbArak Vaishnavas, as 
well as with that of Sital4, the goddess of small-pox. 
Among the wilder tribes it is also revered. The Jogis, a 
criminal tribe in Madras, reverence it and brand their dogs 
with a representation of the tree.' The BanjAras, or wan- 
dering carriers, use a branch of the tree as a test of con- 
tinence. The jealous husband throws it on the ground and 
says, " If thou be a true woman, lift that Nim branch." 

* Campbell, ** Notes," 234. 

^ MuUaly, ** Notes on Madras Criminal Tribes,'^ 20. 

io6 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

The Doms, or vagrant sweepers of the Eastern District of 
the North- Western Provinces, hold the Nlm tree sacred to 
K411 or Sitaia, and the Kurmis dedicate it to K&lt BhavAni, 
and worship this tree and the Pipal under which the image 
of Devi is placed.^ 

The Cocoanut. 

The cocoanut is considered one of the most sacred fruits, 
and is called Sriphala, or the fruit of Sri, the goddess of 
prosperity. It is the symbol of fertility, and all through 
Upper India is kept on shrines and presented by the priests 
to women who desire children. One of the main causes of 
the respect paid to it seems to be its resemblance to a 
human head, and hence it is often used as a type of an 
actual human sacrifice. It is also revered for its uses as 
food and a source of intoxicating liquor. But it is not a 
native of Northern India, and is naturally more revered in 
its home along the western coast. In Gujarat and Kanara 
it represents the house spirit, and is worshipped as a family 
god. The Konkan Kunbis put up and worship a cocoanut 
for each of their relations who dies, and before beginning 
to cut the rice, break a cocoanut and distribute it among 
the reapers. The Prabhus, at every place where three roads 
meet, wave a cocoanut round the face of the bridegroom, 
and break it into pieces to repel evil influences. The 
Musalm&ns of the Dakkhin cut a cocoanut and lime into 
pieces and throw them over the head of the bridegroom to 
scare evil spirits. Among some classes of ascetics the skull 
is broken at the time of cremation with a cocoanut in order 
to allow the ghost to escape. In Western India, at the 
close of the rains, cocoanuts are thrown in to pacify the 
sea. Its place as a substitute for a human sacrifice in 
Northern India seems to have been taken by the pumpkin, 
which is used in much the same way. 

The Mimosa. 
The Khair, or Mimosa {Acacia catechu) seems to owe most 
* " Panjib Notes and Queries," iii. 38. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 107 

of the estimation in which it is held to its use in producing 
the sacred fire. It forms, on account of its hardness, the 
base of the Arani or sacred fire-drill, and in it the wedge of 
the softer Pipal wood works and fire is produced by friction. 
The Yiipa or sacrificial post to which the victim was 
tied for the sacrifice was often made of this wood. In the 
great horse sacrifice of the R4m4yana, twenty-one of these 
posts were erected, six made of Vilva {A£-/e marme/os), six 
of Khadira or Acacia, six of Paldsa {Butea froncbsa\ one of 
Udumbara {Ficus gloineratd)^ Sleshmataka {Cordia myxa)y 
and one of Devadru, the Deoddr pine tree. 

Of the Khair tree Bishop Heber thus writes in his 
Journal : * "As I returned home I passed a fine tree of the 
Mimosa, with leaves at a little distance so much resembling 
those of the mountain ash, that I was for a moment de- 
ceived, and asked if it did not bear fruit. He answered, 
' No ; but it was a very noble tree, being called the " Im- 
perial tree," for its excellent qualities. That it slept all 
night, and was alive all day, withdrawing its leaves if any one 
attempted to touch them. Above all, however, it was useful 
as a preservative against magic ; a sprig worn in the turban, 
or suspended over the bed, was a perfect security against all 
spells, Evil Eye, etc., insomuch that the most formidable 
wizard would not, if he could help it, approach its shade. 
One indeed, they said, who was very renowned for his 
power (like Lorrinite of Kehama) . of killing plants and dry- 
ing up their sap with a look, had come to this very tree and 
gazed upon it intently ; * but,' said the old man, who told me 
this with ah air of triumph, * look as he might, he could do 
the tree no harm,' a fact of which I made no question. I 
was amused and surprised to find the superstition, which in 
England and Scotland attaches to the rowan tree, here 
applied to a tree of nearly similar form." 

This superstition regarding the rowan tree and the 
elder is familiar in European folk-lore. In Ireland the 
roots of the elder and those of an apple tree which bears 
red apples, boiled together and drunk fasting, expel evil 

» i. 287. 

io8 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

spirits. In connection with this idea that the mimosa 
sleeps at night, pious Hindus prefer not to eat betel leaves 
after sunset, as catechu forms part of the ingredients with 
which they are prepared. 

The Plantain. 

The plantain is also sacred, probably on account of the 
value of its fruit. The leaves are hung on the marriage 
booth, and a branch is placed near the pole or sacred fire 
round which the bride and bridegroom revolve. In Madras, 
when premature delivery takes place, the child is laid on a 
plantain leaf smeared with oil, the leaf is changed daily, 
and the baby is thus treated for the period which is less 
than the normal time of delivery. In Bengal, in conse- 
crating an image of Durga, a plantain tree is brought in 
and bathed. It is clothed as a woman with Bel apples 
representing the breasts ; nine sorts of leaves smeared with 
red paint are hung round the breast and it is worshipped.* 
The leaves are also used as a remedy for wounds and ulcers, 
a practice which prevailed in the time of Shakespeare. In 
" Romeo and Juliet " Benvolio says : — 

" Take thou some new infection to thine eye, 
And the rank poison of the old will die." 

To which Romeo answers : — 

" Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.'* 
" For what, I pray thee ? " 
" For your broken skin." 

In the folk- tales the deserted wife sweeps the ground 
round a plantain tree and it gives her a blessing.' 

The Pomegranate. 

So with the pomegranate, which among the Pdrsis of 
Bombay is held in high respect. Its twigs were used to 
make the sacred broom, its seeds, in order to scare evil 

* Ward, ** Hindus,** ii. 13, quoted by Campbell, ** Notes," 229. 

* Lil Bihiri D^, " Folk-tales," 280. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. log 

spirits, were thrown over the child when it was girt with 
the sacred thread, and its juice was squeezed into the mouth 
of the dying.* In its fruit Andr Shihzddt, the Princess 
Pomegranate, commonly lies hidden. But it is in Upper 
India considered unlucky to have such a tree in the house, 
as it is envious and cannot bear that any one should be 
lovelier than itself.' 

The Tamarind. 

The Ordons of Bengal revere the tamarind and bury their 
dead under its shade.' One special rite among the DrA vi- 
dian races is the Iml! ghontni or " the grinding of the 
tamarind,** when the mother of the bridegroom grinds on the 
family curry stone some pods of the tamarind. The tree 
was a special favourite with the early Musalmdn conquerors, 
and the finest specimens of it will be found in their ceme- 
teries and near their original settlements. 

The Siras. 

In the Panjab the leaves of the Siras {Acacia sirisa) are a 
powerful charm. In many villages in Upper India they will 
be seen hung up on the rope crossing the village cattle path, 
when epidemics prevail among men or animals.* In this 
case the effect of the charm is enhanced by adding to them 
a tile covered with some hocus-pocus formula, written by a 
Faqir, and rude models of a pair of wooden sandals, a mud 
rake, a plough-share and other agricultural implements 
which are considered effectual to scare the demon which 
brings the plague. 

The Mango. 

The Mango is used in much the same way. It is, as we 
shall see, used in making the aspersion at rural ceremonies. 

^ Campbell, loc. cit^ 229. 

' " North Indian Notes and Queries,'* i. 207. 

• Dalr.on, "Descriptive Ethnology,'* 189. 

* " Sirsa Settlement Report," 154. 

no Folk-lore of Northern India. 

The leaves are hung up at marriages in garlands on the 
house door, and on the shed in which the rite is performed, 
and after the wedding is over these are carefully consigned 
to running water by the bride and bridegroom. It is also 
used as a charm. Before you see a flower on a mango tree 
shut your eyes and make some one lead you to a tree in 
flower. Rub the flowers into your hands, and you thus 
acquire the power of curing scorpion stings by moving your 
hand over the place. But this power lasts only for one year, 
and renewed when the season of flowers again 

The TuLAst. 

The Tulasi or holy basil {Ocymunt sanctum) is closely 
connected with the worship of Vishnu. At the last census 
over eleven hundred persons in the North-Western Pro- 
vinces recorded themselves as worshippers of the plant. It 
is known in Sanskrit as Haripriya, or " the beloved of 
Vishnu,'* and Bhtitaghni, or " destroyer of demons." It 
seems to owe the favour with which it is regarded to its 
aromatic and healing properties. Vishnu, so runs the 
legend, was fascinated with the beauty of Vrindd, the wife 
of Jilandhara, to redeem him from whose enthralment, the 
gods applied to Lakshmi, Gauri, and Swadhd. Each gave 
them seed to sow where Vishnu was enchanted. The seeds 
given by the deities sprang up as the Dhdtri or Emblica 
Myrobalan, the Malati or jasmine, and the Tulasi, or 
basil, and appearing in female form they attracted the 
admiration of the deity and saved him from the wiles of 

Another legend comes from Bombay.' Tulasi was 
daughter of the Raja Dharmadhwaja, and by her devotions 
gained the favour of Vishnu, but she married the demon 
Sankhachtida, who by the virtue of his wife overcame the 
gods. They appealed to Vishnu, but he could not help 
them, as the demon was his votary. At last it was resolved 
that he should personate her husband and gain her love. 

' Wilson, ** Works,'' iii. 68. * Campbell, " Notes," 248. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. hi 

When Tulasl was aware of the deception she was about to 
curse him, but he pacified her by promising to marry her 
and make her name immortal. He added that those women 
who married an image of him to the Tulasl on the eleventh 
day of the month Kirttik would prosper. 

The Tulasi is also connected with Sita and Rukmini, and 
the prayer to her is : "I adore that Tulasi, in whose roots 
are all the places of pilgrimage, in whose centre are all the 
deities, and in whose upper branches a,re all the Vedas." 
The plant is specially worshipped by women after bathing, 
and more particularly at the full moon of KArttik, if the 
bathing be in the Ganges. The chief ceremony is, however, 
the marriage of the infant Krishna to the plant, which is 
carried out by pious people, often at a considerable cost, in 
accordance with the standard ritual. 

The Palasa. 

The Paldsa or Dhik is sacred, partly on account of its 
use in producing the sacred fire, and partly because its 
orange blossoms are used to dye the coloured dust and water 
thrown about at the Holi festival. It is supposed to be in 
some way connected with the Soma, and by one account 
was produced from the feather of the falcon imbued with 
the Soma. Its trifoliate leaves represent the trident, or 
the three great gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, or birth, 
life, and death. The leaves are used to form the platters 
employed at various feasts and religious rites; the wood 
in the Y{ipa, or sacrificial pole, and in the funeral pyre. 

In one respect it resembles the rowan, which is also a 
sacred tree, but why this is so has been much debated. 
" Possibly the inaccessible rocks on which the tree is not 
unfrequently found to grow and the conspicuous colour of 
its berries may have counted for something, but this falls de- 
cidedly short of a solution of the question. One kind of answer 
that would meet the case, provided it be countenanced by 
facts, may be briefly indicated, namely, that the berries of 
the rowan were used in some early period in the brew- 

112 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

ing of an intoxicating drink, or better still, of the first 
intoxicating drink known to the Teuto-Aryan Celts." * The 
connection between the Palasa and the Soma perhaps indi- 
cates that this may have been the case. It was again a 
Vedic custom to drive the cows from their calves by striking 
them with a rod of a Palasa tree. In Yorkshire it used to 
be the custom for *' farmers to have whip-stocks of rowan tree 
wood, and it was held that thus supplied, they were safe 
against having their draught fixed, or their horses made 
restive by a witch. If ever a draught came to a standstill, 
then the nearest witchwood tree was resorted to, and a 
stick cut to flog the horses on with, to the discomfiture of 
the malevolent witch who had caused the stoppage." In 
some parts of Scotland the milkmaid carries a switch of the 
magical rowan to expel the demon which sometimes enters 
the cow ; and in Germany, striking the cow with this magical 
wand is believed to render her fertile.' 

The Bel. 

The Bel {Aegle mannelos) is specially dedicated to Siva, 
because it has three leaflets in the leaf, and because of its 
medicinal value. Siva is called Bilvadanda, "he with a 
staff" of the Bel wood," and its leaves are used in his service. 
Its leaves laid on the Lingam cool and refresh the heated 
deity. The wood is one of those used for the sacrificial 
post. Its fruit is called Srlphala, because it is supposed to 
have been produced from the milk of the goddess Sri. 

The Bamboo. 

The bamboo is sacred on account of its manifold uses and 
because among the jungle races fire is produced by the 
friction of two strips of bamboo. Besides this it contains a 
sort of manna, known as Binslochan or Tabashir, which is 

* Rhys, ** Lectures/' 359. 

* Kelly, " Curiosities,' 159; Conway, " Demonology," i. 126; Guber- 
natis, "Zoological Mythology,'* i. 225 ; Dyer, "Popular Customs," 274 ; 
Brand, ** Observations," 616. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 113 

in high repute as a medicine. The flowering of the bamboo 
is generally regarded as a sure sign of famine. The bamboo 
often appears in the folk-tales. Thus in one of the tales of 
Somadeva/ "they asked Sumeru about the origin of the bow, 
and he said : ' Here is a great and glorious wood of bamboo 
canes ; whatever bamboos are cut from it and thrown into 
this lake, become great and wonderful bows ; and those 
bows have been acquired by several of the gods, and by 
Asuras and Gandharvas and distinguished Vidyadhdras.' " 
In one of the Santdl tales," the bamboo grows from the 
grave of the murdered girl, and remonstrates when the Jogi 
goes to cut it, but out of a piece he finally makes a flute of 
wondrous sweetness. Among the jungle races the bamboo 
often is used to make the poles of the marriage shed, while 
the central post is made of the wood of the holy Siddh tree, 
the Hardwickia binata. 

In Gujarit,' the Turis, to keep off evil spirits, lay two 
slips of bamboo in the lying-in room. The Prabhus of Pdna 
at their marriages put bamboo baskets on the heads of the 
bride, bridegroom, and guests. The Mhirs and MAngs make 
the married pair stand in bamboo baskets. The Mudsis of 
Bengal make the wedded pair revolve round a bamboo post. 
The Birhors worship Darha in the form of a split bamboo ; 
the Kachdris and Gdros worship a bamboo planted in the 
ground ; the Rajmahdl hill-man worships three bamboos 
with streamers, as Chaunda GuslLtn/ The use of the 
bamboo decorated with a streamer as a perch for the deity is 
common at all low-caste shrines in Northern India. 

The Sandal. 

The Sandal, again, in the form of powder or paste is very 
largely used in all Hindu rites, and in making the marks 
characteristic of sect or caste. " In Bombay, every evening, 
the P&rsis burn sandal chips in their houses, as the smell of 

1 Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 439- 

2 Campbell, "Santil Folk-tales," 54. ^ Campbell, " Notes," 239. 
* Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 109, 220, 234. 


114 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

sandal is supposed to drive away evil spirits, and the Pftna 
Ghadsis or musicians say that they are sprung from 
sandal wood, because it is one of their tribal guardians/ " 

The Birch. 

The Bhftrja, a species of birch, is also sacred. It, too, is 
supposed to drive away evil spirits. Its bark, now called 
Bhojpatra, is used for writing charms, and for other mystic 
purposes. When a corpse is burnt by low-caste people, 
when a person dies at the hands of an executioner, when he 
dies on a bed, or when he is drowned and his body cannot 
be found, a rite known as Pal4svidhi is performed. An 
effigy of the deceased is made, in which twigs of the PalAsa 
tree represent the bones, a cocoanut or Bel fruit the head, 
pearls or cowry shells the eyes, and a piece of birch bark or 
the skin of a deer the cuticle. It is then filled up with 
Urad pulse instead of flesh and blood, and a presiding priest 
recites a spell to bring life into the image, which is symbol- 
ized by putting a lighted lamp close to the head. When 
the light goes out, life is believed to be extinct and the 
funeral rites are performed in the regular way, the only 
exception being that the period of impurity lasts for three, 
instead of ten days. 

Other Sacred Trees. 

The number of these trees and plants which scare evil 
spirits or are invested with other mystic qualities is infinite. 
We may close the catalogue with the Babtil or Kikar [Acacia 
Arabica)^ which when cut pours out a reddish juice. One of 
these trees, when the Musalmdns tried to cut it near a shrine 
at Lahore, is said to have poured out drops of blood as a 
warning. But on the whole it is an unlucky tree, and the 
resort of evil spirits. If you throw water for thirteen days 
successively on a Babtil tree, you will get the evil spirits 
which inhabit it into your power. They tell of a man who 

^ Campbell, ioc, cit^ 232, 

Tree and Serpent Worship, 115 

did this near Sah&ranpur, who when taken to his cremation, 
no sooner was the light set to his pyre than he got up and 
walked home, and is alive to this day. His neighbours 
naturally look on his proceedings with a certain degree of 
suspicion. The ghost of a man burnt with this wood will 
not rest quietly, and any one who rests on a bed made of it 
is afiSicted with evil dreams. An old servant of mine once 
solemnly remonstrated against the use of such a bed by his 
master. Such a bed, he remarked, should be only used for 
a clergyman guest, who by virtue of his profession is 
naturally protected against such uncanny visitations. 

Tree Marriages. 

We now come to discuss the curious custom of marriages 
to trees. This prevails widely throughout Northern India. 
Thus, in some parts of K4ngra, if a betrothed but as yet 
unmarried girl can succeed in performing the marriage 
ceremony with the object of her choice round a fire made 
in the jungle with certain wild plants, her betrothal is 
annulled, and this informal marriage is recognized.* In 
the Panjdb a Hindu cannot be legally married a third time. 
So, if he wishes to take a third wife, he is married to a 
Babfll tree {Acacia Arabica), or to the Akh plant {AscUpia 
giganiea)^ first, so that the wife he subsequently marries is 
counted as his fourth, and the evil consequences of marry- 
ing a third time are thus avoided.' In Bengal, writes Dr. 
Buchanan,' " Premature marriage is considered so necessary 
to Hindu ideas of prosperity, that even the unfortunate 
children who are brought up for prostitution are married 
with all due ceremony to a plantain tree, before the age 
when they would be defiled by remaining single." In the 
North- Western Provinces, among some of the higher classes 
of Brahmans, if a man happens to lose one or two wives 
and is anxious to marry a third, the ceremony of his third 

» Ibbetson/'Panjib Ethnography," 119. 

3 " Panj^b Notes and Queries," ii. 42 ; " North Indian Notes and 
Queries," ii. 27. 
* "Eastern India," iii. 555. 

I 2 

ii6 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

marriage is first gone through with an Akh plant. The 
family priest takes the intending bridegroom to the fields 
where there are Akh plants and repeats the marriage 
formula. This is known as Arka Viv&h, or Akh marriage, 
and it is believed that the plant itself dies soon after being 
married. In Oudh, it is very unlucky to marry a couple if 
the ruling stars of the youth form a more powerful com- 
bination than those of the female. The way to get out of 
the difficulty is to marry the girl first to a Pipal tree. In 
the Panjdb, rich people who have no children marry a 
Brdhman to a Tulasl plant. The pseudo-father of the bride 
treats the BrAhman ever afterwards as his son-in-law, 
which, it is needless to say, is a very good thing for the 
Brahman.^ If the birth of a child does not follow this 
ceremony, they have good reason for apprehending that a 
messenger from Yama, the god of death, will harass them 
on their way to the spirit world. 

In Bombay, among the Kudva Kunbis of Gujarit, when 
there are certain difficulties in the marriage of a girl, she is 
married to a mango or some other fruit tree. Mr. Camp- 
bell ^ accounts for this on the principle that a spirit fears 
trees, especially fruit trees. Among another branch of the 
same tribe, when a girl is marriageable and a bridegroom 
cannot be found, the practice is to substitute a bunch of 
flowers, and the marriage ceremony proceeds. Next day, 
by which time the flowers have begun to fade, they are 
thrown into a well, and the bride of yesterday is considered 
a widow. As a widow can marry at any time without 
social discredit, the parents find a husband for her at their 

So in Bengal, the Rautiyas before the wedding go through 
the form of marriage to a mango tree.* Among the Mun- 
diri Kols, "the bride and bridegroom are well anointed 
with turmeric, and wedded, not to each other, but the bride 
to a Mahua tree, and the groom to a mango, or both to 

^ " North Indian Notes and Queries," ii. 151 sq. '^ " Notes," 461. 

» "Bombay Gazetteer," vii. 61. 

* Risley, "Tribes and Castes," ii. 201. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 117 

mango trees. They are made to touch the tree with red 
lead, and then to clasp it, and they are tied to it." * Among 
the Kurmts, the bridegroom on the wedding morning is first 
married to a mango tree. He embraces the tree, is for a 
time tied to it in a peculiar manner with a thread, and he 
daubs it with red lead. Then the thread is removed from 
the tree, and is used to attach some of the leaves to the 
bridegroom's wrist. The bride is similarly wedded to a 
Mahua tree.' 

Similarly in the Himalayas, if anyone desires to marry a 
third timef, whether his other wives are alive or not, he is 
married to the Akh plant. He builds an altar near the 
plant, or brings a branch home and plants it near the altar. 
The regular marriage ceremony is then performed, and a 
thread is wound ten times round the plant with the recita- 
tion of appropriate verses. Four days the plant remains 
where it was fixed, and on the fifth day the celebrant is 
entitled to commence the marriage ceremony with his third 
wife. Similarly, a person is married to an earthen jar, 
when from some conjunction of the planets the omens are 
unfavourable, or when, from some bodily or mental defect, 
no one will marry the boy or girl. The usual ceremonies 
are gone through, and the neck of the boy or girl is 
connected by a string with the neck of the vessel, and 
water is sprinkled over them with a brush made of five 

In Nepal every Newdr girl is, while a child, married to a 
Bel fruit, which, after the ceremony, is thrown into some 
sacred river. When she arrives at puberty a husband is 
selected for her, but should the marriage prove unpleasant, 
she can divorce herself by the simple process of placing a 
betel-nut under her husband's pillow, and walking off. 
Widows are allowed to re-marry ; in fact, a Newdr woman 
is never a widow, as the Bel fruit to which she first married 
is supposed to be always in existence.* 

^ Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 194. ^ ibid., 319. 

• Atkinson, ** Himalayan Gazetteer," ii. 912. 

* Wright, " History of Nepal,'' 33. 

ii8 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Before considering a possible explanation of this group of 
customs, we may note other instances of pseudo-marriages. 
We have, in the first place, instances of the marriage of 
girls to a god. " In the GurgAon District, in the RewUri 
Tahsll, at the village of B4s Doda, a fair is held on the 
26th of Chait and the two following days. I was told that 
formerly girls of the Dhtnwar class used to be married to 
the god at these festivals, and that they always died soon 
afterwards, but that of late years the practice has been 
discontinued." * 

Again, we have some traces of the allied custom of com- 
pulsory religious prostitution. It is said that Santal girls 
are required to submit to compulsory prostitution once in 
their lives at TelkApi GhlLt. " It is said that the custom 
originally arose from the killing of a girl by her parents for 
incontinence ; since when, girls have been permitted to do 
as they please, and what was once permissive has become 
compulsory."^ There is no reference to this in Colonel 
Dalton's account of the Santdls, and Mr. Beglar's authority 
is not quite satisfactory. But on the analogy of similar 
rites in Babylon, as described by Herodotus, it is very 
likely that such a custom once prevailed. There is some 
evidence that similar customs once prevailed at the temple 
of JaggannAth and other Indian shrines. 

We have, again, folk-tale references to the same custom 
in a tradition of the Vallabhacharya sect of the daughter of 
a banker, who, by her devotion to him, won the love of the 
god Krishna in the form of an image. Finally the deity- 
revealed himself, and she went with him to Brindaban and 
remained with her divine husband till he carried her off to 
the heaven of Vishnu. This, however, is hardly perhaps 
more than an example of the mystic union of the god with 
his worshippers, which forms such a large part of the 
Vaishnava hagiology, and is familiar in the tales of Krishna 
and the Gopis. 

There is, again, among children in the neighbourhood of 
Sahdranpur, a game which may be a survival of some more 

^ " Settlement Report," 38. » " Archaeological Reports," x. 177. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 119 

primitive rite. At the Hj festival, which occurs in the 
rainy season, giris dressed in their best go to a tank near 
the city. After dropping offerings into the water in honour 
of Khwdja Khi^r, they divide into two parties, each of which 
selects a leader, one of whom is known as the bride and the 
other a bridegroom. The latter is decorated with a paper 
crown decked with tinsel. The clothes of the pair are 
knotted together, and they are made to walk round a Tulasl 
plant or a Pipal tree on the banks of the tank, in a mock 
form of the marriage ritual. Meanwhile each party chaffs 
the other, saying, " Your bride (or bridegroom) is one-eyed." 
They return home with merriment of this kind, and when 
they come to the house the knot tied in the garments of the 
pair is unloosed. 

We have, again, instances of the marriages of, or to 
animals. In parts of the Panj&b, if a man have lost two 
or three wives in succession, he gets a woman to catch a 
bird and adopt it as her daughter. He then marries the 
bird, and immediately pays over the bride-gift to the woman 
that adopted his bird-bride, which he divorces. After this 
he can get himself married to another woman, and she will 
probably live.* 

So, there have been many instances of Rdjas marrying 
animals with the customary rites. Some years ago, one of 
the GS.ekwlLrs of Baroda spent a large sum in marrying some 
favourite pigeons, and a RAja of Nadiya spent a l&kh of 
rupees in marrying two monkeys. 

Lastly, there are numerous survivals of what can hardly 
be anything else but tree marriage. Among the BAwariyas, 
a vagrant tribe in Sirsa, the bride and bridegroom go 
outside the village to a Jand tree, which, as we have seen 
already, is regarded as sacred, move round it seven times, 
and then cut off a branch with an axe.* In a Bhtl marriage, 
the pair walk round the Salydra tree, which is placed in the 
marriage booth, twelve times.^ We have a similar custom 
among most of the menial tribes. The Kols make the 

* " North Indian Notes and Queries/' i. 15. 

' " Settlement Report," 167. ^ *' Bombay Gazetteer," iii. 221. 

120 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

marriage booth of nine bamboo poles, with a bamboo or a 
branch of the Siddh tree as the central post. As the bride- 
groom smears the parting of the bride's hair with red lead, 
he makes a daub of the same substance on the tree. Much 
the same custom prevails among all the inferior castes. 
The worship of trees at marriage prevails in Madras, where 
some Rdjas worship at their marriages the fire and the 
Vahni tree, a twig of which is used as an arrow at the 
hunting feast at the Navaratri or Dasahra.^ 

On the whole, it seems probable that this custom of 
pseudo-marriages may be based on various principles. The 
popular explanation of the custom is, as we have seen, that 
it is intended to avoid the curse of widowhood, the tree- 
husband being always alive; the woman, even if her 
husband die, can never be a widow, nor can the parents be 
liable to the contempt which, according to popular Hindu 
belief, awaits those who keep a girl who has reached 
maturity unmarried. But when we find the same custom 
prevailing among races who habitually permit pre-nuptial 
infidelity, and among whom every marriageable widow is 
either subjected to the levirate or made over to a stranger, 
it seems obvious that this cannot be the original explanation 
of the practice. 

Again, according to Mr. Frazer, who has collected 
numerous examples of the custom, " it is difficult to separate 
from totemism the custom observed by totem clans in 
Bengal of marrying the bride and bridegroom to trees before 
they are married to each other." * 

But the idea that, as we have seen in one of the cases of 
tree marriages, the tree itself is supposed to die soon after 
the ceremony, seems to point to the fact that the marriage 
may be intended to divert to the tree some evil influence, 
which would otherwise attach to the wedded pair. We 
have an instance of a somewhat analogous practice from 
Bombay. " Among the Konkan Kunbis, when a woman is 
in labour and cannot get a speedy delivery, some gold orna- 
ment from her hair is taken to a R<ii plant (the Dhdk — 

^ Oppert, " Original Inhabitants," 73. ^ " Totemism," 33 sqq. 


Treje and Serpent Worship. 121 

Callotrepis gigantea of Northern India), and after digging at 
its roots, one of the roots is taken out, and the ornament is 
buried in its stead. The root is then brought home and put 
in the hair of the woman in labour. It is supposed that by 
this means the woman gets speedy delivery. As soon as she 
is delivered of a child, the root is taken from her hair and 
brought back to the R6t plant, and after digging at its root 
the ornament is taken out and the root placed in its former 
place." ^ The idea seems to be that the evil influence 
hindering parturition is thus transferred to the plant. And 
this may be one explanation of the practice where, as we 
have seen, a man is married to a bird, or so on, when his 
former wives have died. The bird acts as the scape-animal, 
and carries the disease spirit away with it. 

Lastly, we have seen instances in which the wedded pair 
are made to clasp the tree or are tied to it in some special 
way. There are numerous cases in which women, in order 
to procure offspring, clasp an idol, Uke that of Hanuman 
and one of the other guardian deities. The clasping of the 
tree at marriage may possibly be a sort of sympathetic 
magic to bring on the pair the fertility and power of repro- 
duction, of which vegetable life is the well-known symbol. 
We have the same principle of the wedding of the grove to 
its well, and every Hindu who goes to the expense of making 
a tank, does not drink of its waters until he has married 
the tank to a plantain or some other tree growing on its 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 

In the story of the king and his son, told in the Baital 
Pachisi, the king supplicates the sacred tree to give him a 
son. The request is granted, and the king then implores 
the tree to make his people happy ; the result was that poor 
wretches, hitherto living in the woods, came forth and con- 
certed measures to seize his kingdom. Rather than shed 
blood, the old king, his queen, and his son retired to a lofty 

* Campbell, " Notes," 250. 

1Z2 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

mountain. There the son finds something white lying 
under a mimosa tree. On inquiry he learnt that it is a 
heap of serpents' bones left there by Garuda, who comes 
daily to feed on serpents. On hearing this, the king goes 
towards a temple, but is arrested by the cry of a woman, 
who says : " My son to-day will be eaten by Garuda." She 
and her people were, in fact, serpents in human shape. 
The king was moved to pity, and as in the famous legend 
of Buddha and the tigress, he offered to expose himself to 
Garuda in the room of her son. This is discovered; 
Garuda releases the king, and at his request re-animates the 
serpents to whom the bones belong.^ 

Here we have an example of the combination of tree and 
serpent worship, and it would be easy to adduce more in- 
stances, as has been done by Mr. Ferguson and other 
writers of his school. But in dealing with this phase of 
belief much caution is required. As Dr. Tylor observes t 
"Serpent-worship unfortunately fell years ago into the 
hands of speculative writers, who mixed it up with occult 
philosophies, Druidical mysteries, and that portentous 
nonsense called the Arkite symbolism, till now sober 
students hear the very name of ophiolatry with a shiver." ^ 

It is almost needless to say that snake- worship prevails 
largely in Northern India. The last census showed in the 
North- Western Provinces over twenty-five thousand 
worshippers ; one hundred and twenty-three persons re- 
corded themselves as votaries of Gtlga, the snake god. 
There are also a certain number who worship Deotd, 
or the snake godling, and Ahlran, another deity of the same 
class, who is worshipped in Sultdnpur by daily offerings of 
red lead, water, and rice. Sokha, said to be the ghost of a 
Brihman killed by a snake, has nearly fourteen thousand 
worshippers. In the Panjab, again, there are over thirty- 
five thousand special votaries of the snake godlings, of 
which the great majority worship Gtlga. 

^ Mannings, " Ancient India," ii. 330 sq. ; Tawney, " Katha Sarit 
Sigara," i. 185. 
' " Primitive Culture," ii. 239. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 123 

That the cultus of the snake has been derived from 
aboriginal beliefs appears tolerably certain. The Hindus of 
Vedic times looked on the serpent with fear and dislike. 
It was impersonated as Ahi or Vritra, the snake demon 
which brings darkness and drives away the kindly rain. 
The regular snake-worship, as we now find it, was obviously 
of a later date. 

It does not appear difficult to disentangle the ideas on 
which snake-worship is based. To begin with, the snake 
is dreaded and revered on account of the mysterious fear 
which is associated with it, its stealthy habits, its sinuous 
motion, the cold fixity of its gaze, the protrusion of its 
forked tongue, the suddenness and deadliness of its attacks. 
It would be particularly dreaded by women, whose habits 
of walking barefoot in fields in the early dawn, and groping 
in dark comers of their huts, render them specially exposed 
to its malice. The chief basis of the cultus would then be 
fear, as in the case of the tiger and other beasts of prey. 

It would soon be discovered that there were various 
harmless snakes which would, as house-hunters, come to be 
identified with the ancestral ghosts as the protectors of 
houses and goods. The power of controlling and taming 
the more venomous snakes would then be discovered, and 
the snake-charmer would come to be regarded as the wisest 
of mankind, as a wizard, and finally as a priest. We have 
thus three aspects under which the snake is worshipped by 
many savage races — as a dreaded enemy, as the protector 
of home and treasure, as the accompaniment and attribute 
of wisdom. The village temple would be often in early 
times a storehouse of treasure, and the snake, respected as 
its guardian, would finally, as in Kashmir, be installed there 
as a god. 

Next, we have the early connection between the serpent 
and the powers of nature, the cloud and the rain, as appears 
in the familiar Vedic legend of Indra and the Dragon Ahi, 
and Seshaniga, the great world serpent, which appears 
in so many of the primitive mythologies. 

The serpent would again receive respect as the emb lem 


124 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

of life; his shape would, as in many forms of primitive 
ornament, be associated with the ring, as a symbol of 
eternity ; he is excessively long-lived, and periodically 
renews his life. 

He has, further, as in the Saiva cultus, become associated 
with phallicism, and with'the sexual powers, as in the Adam 
legend. " The serpent round the neck of Siva denotes the 
endless cycle of recurring years, and a^ second necklace of 
skulls about his person, with numerous other serpents, 
symbolizes the eternal revolution of ages and the successive 
dissolution and regeneration of the races of mankind." ^ 

Lastly, the cultus may have a totemistic basis. As Strabo 
describes the Ophiogeneis or serpent races of Phrygia 
actually retaining physical affinity with the snakes to whom 
they were to be believed to be allied, the Cheros of the 
eastern districts of the North- Western Provinces and the 
Bais Rdjputs of Oudh profess to be descended from the 
Great Serpent. Gautama Buddha himself is said to have 
been of serpent lineage. 

But the great serpent race was that of the NAgas, to 
whom much ill-considered argument and crude speculation 
have been devdted. According to one theory they were 
Skythic emigrants from Central Asia, but whether antece- 
dent or subsequent to the so-called Aryan inroad is disputed. 
They seem to have been accustomed to use the serpent as a 
national symbol, and hence became identified with the snake. 
Some of the myths seem to imply that they suffered perse- 
cution at the hands of the Brdhmans, such as the tale of 
the burning of the Khindava forest, the opening scenes of 
the Mahibhirata, and the exploits of the youthful Krishna. 
They are, again, associated with Buddhism on monuments 
like those of Ajanta, and another theory would make them 
out to be the Dasyus, or aboriginal races of Upper India, 
who were the first to adopt Buddhism and were extermi- 
nated in the Brahmanical revival. Little, in fact, is known 
of them, save that they may have been early worshippers 

^ Monier- Williams, ** Brfi,hmanism and Hinduism," 319 sqq. 

^or i 






Tree and Serpent Worship. 125 

of the snake, may have embraced Buddhism, and may have 
introduced the worship into India from some northern 
home.^ But Mr. Ferguson's theory that snake-worship was 
of purely Turanian origin is, to say the least, very doubtful, 
and his belief that Saivism is antagonistic to snake-worship, 
and that Vaishnavism, which he regards as a modification 
of Buddhism, encourages it, is opposed by the numerous 
examples of the connection of the serpent with the Lingam. 


Below the seven P4t41as, according to the Vishnu Purina, 
is Vishnu incarnated as Seshaniga, and known by the name 
Ananta, or '' Endless." He has a thousand heads adorned 
with the m3rstical Swastika, and in each head a jewel to give 
light. He is accompanied by Varuni, the goddess of wine 
(who has nowadays been replaced by Madain, who is 
venerated by Chamdrs in Oudh), supports the world on his 
head, holds in one hand a pestle and in the other a plough, 
which, as we shall see later on, connects him with agri- 

Snake Shrines, 

In various places snakes are provided with special shrines. 
Thus, in Garhwal, Seshan&ga is honoured at Pandukeswar ; 
Bhekal N&g at Ratgdon ; Sangal Ndg at Talor ; Binpa Ndg 
at Margion, and many others of the same kind.* In fact, 
all along the Him&laya the worship extensively prevails. 
Kailang Nig is the chief Himalayan godling, and as the 

1 Wheeler, " History of India," i. 148 ; " Gazetteer Central Provinces," 
Ixiii. ; Ixxii. ; Campbell, ** Notes," 269 ; Ferguson, " Tree and Serpent 
Worship," Appendix D; Elliot, "Supplementary Glossary,*' s.v. "Gaur 
Taga " ; Tod, ** Annals," i. 38 ; Atkinson, *< Himilayan Gazetteer," 
ii. 280 sqq., 297 ; Temple, " Legends of the Panjib," i. 414 sq. 

^ Bhekal NS,g is perhaps the Sanskrit bheka, "frog." It has been 
suggested that the gypsy Beng or Devil is connected with Bheka, and 
thus allied to serpent-worship (Groome, " Encyclopaedia Britannica," Art. 
"Gypsies"). Sir G. Cox (" Introduction," 87, note) makes out Bheki, or 
" the squatting frog," to be an old name for the sun. For the Himi- 
layan snake shrines see Atkinson, loc at,, ii. 374 sq. 

126 Folk-lore of Northern India, 

Vedic Ahi controls the clouds, so he gives fine weather. A 
victim is killed, and one of his disciples, after drinking the 
blood, gets into a state of afflatus. Finally, he gasps out 
that the sacrifice is accepted, and falls down in a state of 
exhaustion. The old shrine to the serpent deity at Kdngra, 
known as Baghsu Ndg, has been converted into a Saiva 
temple under the name of BaghsunS.tha, another instance 
of the adoption of strange deities into orthodox Hinduism. 

** The Nig is specially the guardian of cattle and water- 
springs. According to the legend, the valleys of Kashmir 
and Nep&l were in some remote period the abode of NAgas. 
The milk of a cow is usually presented to a N4g, and goats 
and sheep are usually sacrificed to him, as to other godlings. 
So far as I am aware, the only place in the Himalaya where 
the living snake is worshipped is at the foot of the Rotung 
pass." ^ The NepAl serpent king is Karkotaka, who dwelt 
in the lake Nigavdsa, and Siva in the form of Karkotaka 
Ndga has a temple at Barha Kotra in the B4nda District. 

In one of the Nep41 temples is a representation of a N4g 
KanyS, a serpent maiden or mermaid, sitting on a tortoise.' 
This serpent maiden constantly appears in Indian folk-lore. 
Such is VijayAvatf, daughter of Gandam&lin, one of the 
snake kings, who is of surpassing loveliness, rescues and 
marries the hero. She is represented by the Melusina of 
European folk-lore, and one of her kindred survived to our 
own day, to appear as Elsie Venner in one of the finest 
novels of this generation.* 

Curious as it may appear, all the Kashmir temples were 
originally surrounded by artificial tanks, constructed in 
order to propitiate the Ndgas. Ancient stones covered 
with figures of snakes are occasionally to be seen worked up 
into the walls of modern buildings. Abul Fazl says that in 
his time there were nearly seven hundred figures of snake 
gods existing in Kashmir. The snake, it is needless to say, 
is a common emblem in temples all over the country. An 

* Oldham, " Contemporary Review," April, 1885. 

2 ** Oldfield, •* Sketches,'' ii. 204 ; Wright, " History,'' 85. 

5 Tawney, ** Katha Sarit SAgara," ii. 173, 544. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 127 

ancient temple at BilAspur in the Central Provinces has, as 
its only image, that of the cobra.* 

Snake-worship appears constantly in history and legend« 
There is a passage in Plutarch from which it appears to 
have been the custom to sacrifice an old woman (previously 
condemned to death for some crime) to the serpent gods by 
burying her alive on the banks of the Indus. Ktesias also 
mentions the worship of snakes, and in the Buddhist legends 
snakes are often referred to as the guardian deities of towns.' 

In the folk-tales, Narav&hanadatta worships snakes in a 
grove sacred to them, and Bhlmabhatta goes to the temple 
of the chief of the snakes, which he finds full of long wreaths 
of flowers in form like serpents, and a great lake sacred to 
Visuki, studded with red lotuses, which seemed like clouds 
of smoke from the fume of snake poison.* 

A curious legend tells how KadrA and Vinati were the 
two wives of the patriarch Kasyapa, the former being the 
mother of the serpent race, and the other of the birds. A 
discussion arose between them regarding the colour of the 
tails of the horses of the sun, Vinati insisting that they were 
white and Kadrii that they were black. It was agreed that 
whichever of the two was proved to be wrong should serve 
the other. So KadrA contrived to fasten one of her black 
snakes on to the back of one of the horses, and Vinati, 
thinking this was the real tail, accepted defeat; so the 
snakes rule the birds for ever. 

Nahusha, according to one version of his legend, aspired 
to the love of the queen of India when her husband con- 
cealed himself because he had killed a Brahman. A 
thousand Rishis bore the litter of the presumptuous sinner 
through the air, and when in his pride he touched Agastya 
Muni with his foot, the offended sage cursed him, and he 
became a serpent. Finally he was pardoned by the inter- 
cession of Yudhishthira, threw off his serpent form, and 
was raised to the heaven of the gods. 

1 ** Calcutta Review," li. 304 sg. ; liv. 25 sq. ; Ferguson, " Eastern 
Architecture/' 289 ; " Central Provinces Gazetteer," 86. 

2 Tawney, loc, at i. 577. * Ibid., i. 312; ii. 225. 

128 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Near Jait, in the Mathura District, is a tank with the 
broken statue of a hooded serpent in it. Once upon a time 
a R&ja married a princess from a distant land, and wished 
to bring her home with hiip. She refused to come until he 
announced his lineage. Her husband told her that she 
would regret her curiosity, but she persisted. At last he 
took her to the river and warned her again, but in vain. 
Then he told her not to be alarmed at anything she saw, 
adding that if she did so, she would lose him. Saying this, 
he began to descend slowly into the water, all the time 
trying to dissuade her, till the water rose to his neck. Then, 
after a last attempt to induce her to abandon her curiosity, 
he dived and reappeared in the form of a Ndga, and raising 
his head over the water, he said, " This is my lineage. I 
am a Nigavansi." His wife could not suppress an exclama- 
tion of grief, on which the Niga was turned into stone, 
where he lies to this day. Here we have another instance 
of the consequences of the violation of the curiosity taboo.^ 

The town of Nigohan in the Lucknow District is said to 
have been founded by Raja N&huk of the Chandravansi line 
of kings. Near it is a large tank, in which the legend says 
that the R&ja, transformed into a snake for the sin of killing 
a Brihman, was compelled to live. Here at length the 
Pindava brothers, in their wanderings after their battle with 
the Kauravas, came, and as they went to draw water, the 
serpent put to each of them five questions touching the 
vanity of human wishes and the advantages of absorption 
from the world. Four out of the five brethren failed to answer 
and were dragged under the water, but the riddle was solved 
by the fifth. The spell was thus loosed, and the Rdja's 
deliverer had come. The P&ndu put his ring round the 
body of the serpent, and he was restored to human form. 
In his gratitude he performed a great sacrifice, and to this 
day the cultivators digging small wells in the centre of the 
tank in the dry season, come across the burnt barley, rice, 
and betel-nuts used in the sacrifices.^ 

^ "Archaeological Reports/' vii. 4. 2 « Settlement Report," 121. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 129 

The old Buddhist traveller thus describes the serpent 
deity in the temple at Sankisa in the FamikhAbid District — 
" A white-eared dragon is the patron of this body of the 
priests. It is he who causes fertilizing and seasonable 
showers of rain to fall within their country, and preserves it 
from plagues and calamity, and so causes the priesthood to 
dwell in security. The priests, in gratitude for these favours, 
have erected a dragon chapel, and within it placed a seat for 
his accommodation ; and, moreover, they make special con- 
tributions in the shape of religious ofiFerings to provide the 
dragon with food. Towards the end of each season of rest, 
the dragon incontinently assumes the form of a little serpent, 
both of whose ears are white. The body of priests, recog- 
nizing him, place in the midst for his use a copper vessel full 
of cream. The serpent then proceeds to come down from 
the highest part of the alcove, all the while moving, as 
though he would pay his respects to all those around him. 
He then suddenly disappears. He makes his appearance 
once every year." ^ 

According to Gen. Cunningham, the only spot which can 
be identified with any certainty at Sankisa is the tank of the 
N4ga, which still exists to the south-east of the ruins. The 
name of the Ndga is Kirewar, which appears to mean " the 
black one," and that of the tank Kandaiya T41. Milk is still 
offered to him on every day of May, the Nigpanchami 
festival in August, and at any other time when rain is 

There are many instances of this control of the N4ga over 
the weather. Thus, in Nepil, when Rija Gunkamdeva 
committed incest, the gods in their wrath withheld the rain. 
Finally the R&ja managed to catch the great N4ga Karkotaka, 
and the other N4gas came and worshipped him and gave 
him each a likeness of himself drawn with his own blood, and 
declared that whenever there was a drought hereafter, plen- 
tiful rain would fall as soon as these pictures were worshipped. 

So, Gorakhnitha confined the nine Nigas, and there was 

1 Beal, " Travels of Fah Hian,*' 67 sq. 

2 ** Archaeological Reports," i. 274. 


130 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

a drought until Matsyendran&tha appeared and released 
them, on which the clouds gave rain.^ 

The plan of propitiating the N4ga with an offering of milk is 
found also in the case of the Durham legend of the Lambton 
worm and the dragon of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire.^ 

The sacred dragons of this kind are innumerable. The 
Buddhist cave at Pabhosa in the AUah&bid District was the 
home of a monster of this class, who was subdued by 
Buddha.'' That in the dragon tank at R&magrima used to 
assume the form of a Br&hman.* Dr. Buchanan tells of 
another at Bhdgalpur. " They showed me a hole in a rock 
opening into a hollow space close by the path leading up to 
their village. They said that this hole was the abode of a 
very large serpent, which they considered a kind of god. In 
cold weather they never saw it, but in the hot season it was 
constantly observed lying in the hollow before its den. The 
people pass by it without apprehension, thinking it under- 
stands their language, and would on no account injure one 
of them, should even a child or a drunken person fall 
on it." ' 

But all such snakes are not friendly. In the Hitopadesa, 
the faithful mungoose takes the place in the legend of Beth- 
gelert of the hound and kills the deadly snake. Some 
reference to this famous folk-tale will be made in another 
connection. AghS.sura, " the evil demon," the king of the 
serpents, tried to devour the divine infant Krishna. When 
he and his foster-father Nanda were asleep together, a huge 
boa-constrictor laid hold of Nanda by the toe, and would 
speedily have devoured him, but Krishna, hearing his cries, 
ran to his side and lightly set his foot on the monster's head. 
At the very touch the serpent was transformed, and assumed 
the figure of a lovely youth ; " for years ago a Ganymede of 
Heaven's Court, by name Sudarsana, in pride of beauty and 
exalted birth, had vexed the holy sage Angiras when in deep 

» Wright, " History of Nepil," 85, 141. 

2 Henderson, ** Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 289 ; " Gloucester- 
shire Folk-lore," 23. 
' Fiihrer, *' Monumental Antiquities," 144. * Beal, loc. city 90. 

» " Eastern India," ii. 149. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 131 

contemplation, by dancing backwards and forwards before 
him, and by his curses had been metamorphosed into a snake, 
in that vile shape to expiate his offence, until the advent of 
Krishna."^ We have already spoken of another famous 
Mathura snake, the Niga of Jait, whose tail is supposed to 
reach underground to Brindaban, seven miles away.' The 
curious dragon cave at Kausambhi at Allah4b4d was one 
of the last notable discoveries of the Archaeological Survey.' 

The Snake Gods. 

Besides the sacred N&gas there are the regular snake gods. 
The serpent deity of Benares is Ndgiswar, who is repre- 
sented by a serpent twining round the chief idol, and like his 
kindred rules the weather. The N4g Ku4n, or dragon well, 
is one of the oldest shrines in the city.* T4ra is the snake 
goddess of the Kols, and the Khdndhs call her T4rd Penu, 
the heavenly " star snake." V4suki, the " abider," now 
known as Bisuk N&g, has many shrines, and in all of them, 
as at Ddraganj, near AUahdbid, described by Sir Monier- 
Williams,* the priest in charge is always a man of low caste, 
a fact pointing to the non-Aryan character of the worship. 
He forms one of the triad of the snake gods which rule the 
snakes of earth and hell, his fellows being Sesha and 
Takshaka, " he who cuts off." Vdsuki often appears in the 
folk-tales. We find him resisting Garuda, the destroyer of 
his subjects. His brother's son Kirtisena is, according to 
one legend, a Br&hman, and weds a mortal maiden by the 
Gandharva form; hig eldest brother Vasunemi presents a 
benevolent Savara with a magic lute; V&suki himself 
marries the princess YasodharA, and their son is Priyadar- 
sana. Visuki has a thousand ears. Once he served the 
gods by becoming the rope which the mount Mandara was 

1 Growse, " Mathura," 55, 58. 2 i^i^^ 71, 

' "Reports" xxi. 2, "Academy," 23rd April, 1887. 
^ Sherring, " Sacred City,*' 75, 87 sqq. ; Fiihrer, " Monumental Anti- 
quities,*' 211. For weather snakes see Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 

° " BrMimanism and Hinduism," 323. 

K 2 


132 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

whirled round, and the sea was churned and produced Srt or 
Lakshml, goddess of wealth.^ The foot of the celebrated 
iron pillar at Delhi was driven so deep in order that it might 
rest on the head of V&suki. A Brihman told the king that 
this would secure the stability of his kingdom. The R4ja 
doubted this, and had the pillar dug up, when its base was 
found wet with the blood of the serpent king. Owing to the 
incredulity of the R4ja it could never again be firmly fixed, 
and his want of faith led to the ultimate downfall of his 
dynasty. The same tale has reached the Himalaya, and is 
told of the foundation of Almora." 

The Sinhas. 

Next come the Sinhas, or snake godlings of the Panjdb 
and the western parts of the North- Western Provinces. 
" They are males, and though they cause fever they are not 
very malevolent, often taking away pain. They have got 
great power over milch cattle, and the milk of the eleventh 
day after calving is sacred to them, and libations of milk 
(as in the case of the Sankisa dragon) are always acceptable. 
They are generally distinguished by some colour, the most 
commonly worshipped being K41i, 'the black one,' Hari, 
* green,' Bh6ra, *grey,' Sinh. But the diviner will often 
declare a fever to be caused by some Sinh no one has ever 
heard of before, but to whom a shrine must be built. And 
so they multiply in a most perplexing manner. Dead men 
also have a way of becoming snakes — a fact which is re- 
vealed in a dream, when again a shrine must be built. If a 
peasant sees a snake he will salute it, and if it bite him, he 
or his heirs, as the case may be, will build a shrine on the 
spot to prevent the recurrence of such an occurrence. They 
are the servants of Visuki Niga, King of P&t41a, or Tar- 
tarus, and their worship is certainly connected with that of 
the Pitris or ancestors, though it is difficult to see exactly in 
what the connection lies." ' 

1 Tawney, loc, city i. 32, 55, 538 : ii. 568. 

2 Gangadatta, " Folk-lore of Kumaun," Introduction, vii. 

» Ibbetson, "Panjib Ethnography," 114; "Legends of the Panjib," 
i. 426. 

Tree and Serpent Worship, 133 

Connection of Snakes with Ancestor-worship. 

The connection is thus explained by Mr. Spencer : " The 
other self of the dead relative is supposed to come back 
occasionally to the old house ; how else is it possible of the 
survivors sleeping there to see him in their dreams ? Here 
are creatures which commonly, unlike wild animals, come 
into houses; come in, too, secretly at night. The impli- 
cation is clear. That snakes which specially do this are 
the returned dead, is inferred by people in Asia, Africa, and 
America ; the haunting of houses being the common trait 
of the kind of snakes reverenced and worshipped." ^ The 
benevolent household snake, which in the folk-tales assists 
the hero and protects the family of which he is the guardian, 
thus represents the soul of some deceased ancestor which 
has taken up its residence there. That the dead do appear 
as snakes is familiar in European folk-lore. Thus, for 
instance, the pious iEneas saw his father Anchises in the 
snake which crept from his tomb. We have already come 
across the same idea in the case of the Sati. It was an old 
European idea that this household snake, if not conciliated, 
and when dead buried under the threshold, a sacred place, 
prevented conception.' 

Deified Snake Heroes. 

We have already mentioned the regular snake godling 
Gfiga. With him are often worshipped his father Jaur or 
Jewar Sinh, and Arjan and Sarjan, his twin half-brothers.' 

Pipa, the Brdhman, is another deity of the same class in 
R^jputdna. He was in the habit of giving milk to a serpent 
whose retreat was on the banks of the Sampu, or Snake 
Lake. The serpent used in return to present him daily 
with two pieces of gold. Being obliged to go away on 
business, he gave instructions to his son to continue the 

* " Principles of Sociology," i. 345 ; Gubernatis, " Zoological My- 
thology," ii. 407 sq. ; Wake, ** Serpent-worship," 105 ; Tylor, ** Primitive 
Culture," ii. 240. 

- Leland, " Etruscan Roman Remains," 132. 

* " Panjib Notes and Queries," i. 2. 


134 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

offering ; but the youth, deeming it a good opportunity of 
becoming master of the treasure, took a stick with him, and 
when the serpent came forth for his expected food, he 
struck him violently. But the snake managed to retreat 
into his hole. On his return, the young Brahman related 
his adventures to his mother. She was horrified at the 
account, and forthwith made arrangements for sending her 
son away out of danger. But in the morning when she 
went to call him she found to her horror that her son was 
dead, and a huge snake lay coiled up beside his body. Pipa 
on his return was inconsolable, but, stifling his thoughts of 
revenge, he propitiated the monster with copious libations 
of milk. The serpent was appeased, and revealed to Pipa 
the treasures which he guarded, commanding him to erect 
a monument which should transmit the knowledge of the 
event to future ages. Hence Pipa has become a sort of 
snake godling, and the town of Pipar and the Sampu Lake 
still by their names commemorate the legend.^ 

This famous tale, which was originally founded on a story 
in the Panchatantra, has come into European folk-lore 
through the Gesta Romanorum, and forms an excellent 
example of a genuine Indian folk-tale which has been 
naturalized in Western lands.' The incident of the animals 
which produce gold is common both in European and 
Indian folk-lore. Even Marabhuti in the tale of Somadeva 
is able to spit gold, and every one knows Grimm's pretty 
tale of the " Three little men in the wood," in which a piece 
of gold drops from the mouth of the good girl every time 
she speaks. 

Snake Treasure Guardians. 

Snakes throughout folk-lore are the guardians of treasure.^ 
The griffins of Scythia guarded the treasures coveted by the 

1 Tod, " Annals," i. ^^^ sqq. 

2 Clouston, "Popular Tales," i. 127; Grimm, '* Household Tales," ii. 
405 ; Tawney, *' Katha Sarit Sigara," ii. 454 ; Jacobs, ** English Fairy 
Tales/' 207, 251. 

* Gubernatis, ** Zoological Mythology," ii. 407; Clouston, loc. cit, i. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 135 

Arimaspians ; the dragon watched the golden apples of the 
Hesperides ; in the Nibelungenlied the dragon Fafnir keeps 
guard over a vast treasure of gold, which Sigurd seizes after 
he has killed the monster. It is a common Indian belief that 
when a very rich man dies without an heir, he cannot take 
away his thoughts from his treasure, and returns to guard it 
in the form of a monstrous serpent. But after a time he 
becomes tired of this serpent life, and either in a dream, or 
assuming the human voice, he asks the persons living near 
the treasure to take it and ofifer him one of their dearest 
relatives in return. When some avaricious person complies 
with the serpent's wishes, he gets possession of the wealth, 
and the serpent then enters into some other state of exist- 
ence. Instances of treasure speaking are not uncommon. 
Some time ago two old ladies, whose houses were divided 
by a wall, formally applied to me to have the wall excavated 
in the presence of respectable witnesses, because a treasure- 
guarding snake was often heard speaking from inside the 
wall, and begging some one to take over the wealth which 
was in his charge. 

Snake charmers are supposed to have the power of 
recognizing these serpent treasure guardians, follow them 
stealthily to their holes, and ask them to point out the 
deposit. This they will do in consideration of the offering 
of a drop of blood from the little finger of a first-born son,^ 
an obvious survival of human sacrifice, which is constantly 
found connected with the serpent cultus. 

Various suggestions have been made to account for the 
idea of snakes guarding treasure. By one theory there is 
some connection between the snake and primitive metal- 
lurgy ; by another, that the snake may have been the totem 
of the early jewellers ; by a third, that the jewelled head of 
the snake is at the bottom of the matter.' But it seems 
more probable that the idea is based on the conception of 
the snake as a haunter of houses and temples, and the diving 
protector of the inmates and their wealth. 

* " Panjib Notes and Queries," ii. 91. 
^ Conway, ** Demonology,*' i. 3J3 s<^. 


136 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Indian folk-lore is full of such stories. In the Dakkhin 
tale, Seventee Bi! gets possession of the enormous diamond 
which the cobra used to take about in his mouth ; and in 
the Bengal story Faqir Chand obtains the serpent's crest- 
jewel.* The same idea appears in the Arabian Nights. 
Mr. Forbes tells rather a ghastly tale on this subject. He 
personally investigated a mysterious chamber supposed to 
contain treasure. Viewed from above it was a gloomy 
dungeon of great depth. He desired his men to enter it, 
but they positively refused, alleging that " wherever money 
was concealed, there existed one of the Genii in the mortal 
form of a snake to guard it." He at last prevailed on them 
to descend by means of ropes. They had not been at the 
bottom many seconds, when they called out vehemently that 
they were encircled by a large snake. Finally he observed 
something like billets of wood, or rather more resembling 
a ship's cable coiled up in a dark hole. Then he saw the 
monster raise his head over an immense length of body, 
coiled in volumes on the ground. A large snake was subse- 
quently destroyed by fire, but no treasure was found, " the 
owner having doubtless already removed it." ^ 

Powers of Snakes in Folk-lore. 

Manifold are the powers of snakes in folk-lore. He can 
strike people dead with his look from a distance, like the 
" death-darting eye of cockatrice " in " Romeo and Juliet." 
He has the power of spitting fire from his mouth, which 
destroys his enemies and consumes forests. His saliva is 
venomous, and there are many stories of snakes spitting 
venom into food. In one of the versions of Bethgelert, the 
prince, but for his guardian bird, would have drunk as water 
the venom of the black snakes which drips from a tree. In 
the legends of Rdja Rasdlu, GAga, and Newal D4i, the 
snake has power to kill and restore to Hfe ; it has the faculty of 

1 Miss Frere, "Old Deccan Tales," 33; L^l Bihiri Dd, ** Folk-tales " 

2 "Oriental Memoirs," ii. 19, 385. 


Tree and Serpent Worship. 137 

metamorphosis and flying through the air. In one of the 
Kashmtr tales, the Br&hman, wishing to get rid of his wife, 
gives her a snake in a bag ; but when she opens it, it turns 
into a beautiful little boy.^ We have, again, the world-wide 
story of the snake rescued by the traveller, which rewards 
the service rendered to him by biting his benefactor. When 
Indra carried off the nectar, the snakes licked the bed of 
Kusa grass on which the vessel lay. The sharp edges of the 
grass cut them as they licked, so they have had double 
tongues ever since.' Every Indian rustic believes in the 
Domunha or snake with a mouth at both ends, which is, as 
might have been expected, most virulent. There are snake 
women, like Lamia or Vasudeva, the mystic serpent, who 
go about at night, and by day resume their hateful form. 
The humanity of the serpent race comes out clearly in the 
legend of Saf idon, which attributes the leprosy still found in 
the Panjdb to the sacrilegious acts of Visuki, the king of 
the serpents.' 

Modern Snake-worship. 

Some instances may be given of the form assumed by the 
worship of the snake in modern times. 

The great snake festival is the N4gpanchami, or " Dragon's 
fifth," held on the fifth day of the month of Bhidon. In the 
Hills it is called the Rikht or Biruri Panchami. Rikheswara 
has now become a title of Siva as lord of the Nigas, a form in 
which he is represented as surrounded by serpents and crowned 
with the chaplet of hooded snakes. On the day of the feast 
the people paint figures of serpents and birds on the walls of 
their houses, and seven days before the festival they steep a 
mixture of wheat, gram, and pulse in water. On the morn- 
ing of the feast they take a wisp of grass, tie it up in the 
form of a snake, dip it in the water in which the gram has 

^ Knowles, " Folk-tales/' 492. 
5 Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 182. 

' Tawney, ioc. «/., ii. 99 ; Temple, ** Legends of the Panjib/' i. Intro- 
duction, XV.; "Wideawake Stories," 193, 331. 

138 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

been steeped, and offer it with money and sweetmeats to the 

In Udaypur on this day they strew particular plants about 
the thresholds of houses to prevent the entrance of venomous 
reptiles, and in Nepil the day is observed as the anniversary 
of a great struggle between a famous Ndga and Garuda, the 
foe of the serpent race.^ In the eastern districts of the 
North- West Provinces on this day milk and dried rice are 
poured into a snake's hole ; while doing this they call out 
" Snake ! snake ! " The feeding of snakes on this holiday is 
done in much the same way in Bombay.' After the DiwAll 
in Kdngra, a festival is held to bid good-bye to the snakes, 
at which an image of the N4ga made of cowdung is wor- 
shipped. If a snake be seen after this it is called '* ungrate- 
ful,'* and immediately killed.* 

In the North- Western Provinces the usual custom is for 
the head of the family to bathe on the morning of the feast, 
to paint on the wall of his sleeping-room two rude repre- 
sentations of serpents, and to make offerings to Brahmans. 
On this day people pray to what Dr. Buchanan calls " the 
chief eight dragons of the pit," * girls throw some playthings 
into the water, and labourers take a holiday and worship 
the tools of their craft. 

In Behdr during the month of S4wan (August) crowds of 
women calling themselves N4gin, or " wives of the snake," 
go about begging for two and a half days, during which 
period they neither sleep under a roof nor eat salt. Half 
the proceeds of the begging are given to BrAhmans, and the 
other half invested in salt and sweetmeats, which are eaten 
by all the people of the village.^ 

In Garhwdl, the ground is freely smeared with cowdung 
and mud, and figures of five, seven, or nine serpents are 

1 Atkinson, " Him^ayan Gazetteer," ii. 851. 

2 Tod, " Annals," i. 614 ; Wright, " History," 37. 

* Rousselet, '* India and its Native Princes," 28. 

* ** Panjib Notes and Queries," iii. 75. 

* ** Eastern India," ii. 481. 

. 8 Grierson, " Bihir Peasant Life,** 405 ; " Maithili Chrestomathy," 23 
sqq., where examples of the songs are given ; " Panjib Notes and 
Queries,'* iii. 38. 


Tree and Serpent Worship, 139 

rudely drawn with sandal-wood powder or tumeric; rice, 
beans, or peas are parched ; lamps are lighted and waved 
before them ; incense is burnt and food and fruit offered. 
These [observances take place both morning and evening, 
and the night is spent in listening to stories in praises of the 

In parts of the North-Western Provinces, with the usual 
NAgpanchamf, is performed what is known as the Gurul 
festival. On that day offerings are made by women to the 
Dragon godling N4g Deot4. Girls let dolls float in the 
water of some convenient river or tank, and the village lads 
beat the dolls with long switches specially cut for the pur- 
pose. The legend of this rite is thus told. When R4ja 
Janamejdya held the Sarpa Sattra or snake rite in order to 
destroy Takshaka, the king of the serpents, all the snakes 
were captured by spells and killed. But Takshaka escaped 
and was found to have taken refuge with Indra, on whose 
throne he seated himself in the shape of a mosquito. Indra 
was ordered to produce the fugitive, and begged the life of 
Takshaka, which was granted on condition that he was 
banished from the land. So the snake king took the shape 
of a BrAhman lad and retired to the Caucasus. There he 
settled and married, but he foolishly told the story to his 
wife, and she being unable to keep the secret, it finally 
reached the ears of Janamejaya, who sentenced him to 
death. Takshaka then retorted by ordering JanamejAya to 
cause everyone in his dominions to kill his wife as a revenge 
for his own wife's treachery. Janamej&ya was unwilling to 
issue such a cruel order, so he consulted the Brahmans. 
Finally, it was proclaimed that on the Ndgpanchami, every 
woman, to prove her devotion to her husband, should make 
a doll and offer it up as a vicarious sacrifice for herself. It 
would seem that the rite is the survival of some rite of 
human sacrifice in connection with snake-worship. 

The Agarwdla Banyas, who say that they are descended 
from Rija Visuki, have a special rite in honour of Astika 
Muni, who is said to have been the instructor of Visuki. 
^ Atkinson, " Him^yan Gazetteer,'* ii. 836. 

140 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

They bathe and make marks representing the snake on the 
walls of the house, which they worship, feed Brdhmans, and 
do the Artt or lamp rite. Each woman takes home with 
her some of the sesamum offered to the snake, which they 
sprinkle with the recitation of a spell in their houses as a 
means of driving away venomous snakes. 

Cure of Snake-bite. 
In HoshangibAd there were once two brothers, R&jawa 
and Soral ; the ghost of the former cures snake-bite, and that 
of the latter cattle murrain. The moment a man is bitten, 
he must tie a string or a strip of his dress and fasten it 
round his neck, crying, " Mercy ! O God RAjawa ! " To 
caU on Ghori B4dsh4h, the Delhi Emperor, who conquered 
the country, or R&mji Dis B4ba will do as well. At the 
same time he makes a vow to give so much to the god if he 
recovers. When he gets home they use various tests to 
ascertain if the poison is in him still. They take him in and 
out over the threshold, and light a lamp before him, acts 
which are supposed to have the effect of developing latent 
poison. They then give him salt and leaves of the bitter 
Nim tree. If he can take them he is safe. These are all, 
as we have already seen, scarers of evil spirits, in this case 
the snake demon. If he cannot take them, the whole village 
goes out and cries to RAjawa Deo until he recovers. No 
one (Sir C. A. Elliott's informant told him) had been ever 
known to die of a snake-bite after this treatment. But the 
god has no power over the dreaded Biscobra, which takes 
its name from the Hindi Bishkh&pra, Sanskrit Vishakhar- 
para, or " poison-headed," which is said to be so deadly that 
its very breath is venomous, one of the numerous popular 
delusions out of which it is hopeless to argue the rustic. 
The bitten man must not untie the string round his neck 
till the day when he goes to offer what he vows, which 
should be, at latest, on the next Dasahra ; but if he attempts 
to cheat the god by offering ever so little less than he pro- 
mised, he will die on the spot in agonies.^ 
1 " Settlement Report," 120 sq. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 141 

All through Upper India the stock remedy for snake-bite 
is the exorcism of the Ojha or sorcerer, a performance known 
as Jh4r Ph6nk, consisting of a series of passes, massage, 
and incantations, which are supposed to disperse the venom. 
Many, too, have faith in the so-called " Snake stone," which 
seems to be usually a piece of bone soaked in blood and 
repeatedly baked. This is supposed to have absorbent 
properties and to draw the venom out of the wound. It 
probably works by faith, and is as effective as the Achates 
or Agate of which Pliny writes : " People are persuaded 
that it availeth much against the venomous spiders and 
scorpions, which property I could very well believe to be in 
the Sicilian Agate, for that so soon as serpents come within 
the air and breath of the said province of Sicily, as venomous 
as they be otherwise, they die thereupon." * 

The Snake in Folk-lore. 

The -references to the snake in folk-lore and popular 
belief are so numerous that only a few examples can be 
given. The Dhdman {Ptyas mucosus\ a quite harmless 
snake, is said in Bombay to give a fatal bite on Sundays, 
and to kill cattle by crawling under them, or putting its tail 
up their nostrils. Its shadow is also considered malignant. 
It is believed to suck the milk of cattle, and that if a buffalo 
is looked on by it, it immediately dies. Of the Ghonas 
snake it is believed that it bites only at night, and at what- 
ever hour of the night the victim is bitten, he dies just 
before daybreak.' 

About these snake stones some curious tales are told. By 
one account, when a goat kills a snake, it eats it and then 
ruminates, after which it spits out a bead, which, when 
applied to a snake-bite, absorbs the poison and swells. If it 
be put into milk, and squeezed, the poison drips out of it 
like blood, and the bitten person is cured If it be not put 
in milk it will burst in pieces. By another account, in the 
pouch-like appendages of the older Adjutant birds {Leptoptilos 

1 " Natural History," xxxvii. 10. ^ »< Gazetteer," xi. 36. 

142 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Argala) the fang of a snake is sometimes found. This, if 
rubbed over the place where a poisonous snake has bitten a 
man, is supposed to prevent the venom spreading to the 
vital parts of the body. Others say that it is found within 
the head of the Adjutant, and that it is only necessary to 
rub it to the bitten place and put it into milk, when it 
becomes black through the venom. What was known as 
the Ovum Anguinum of the Britons is said to have been a 
bead which assists children to cut their teeth and cures the 
chincough and the ague. Mr. CampbelP says he once 
possessed one of these " snake's eggs," which was a blue 
and white glass bead and supposed to be a charm used by 
the women of the prehistoric races. 

A very common incident in the folk-tales is that the 
heroine is beset by snakes which come out of her nose or 
mouth at night and kill her newly-wedded husband, as the 
evil spirit kills the husband of Sara in the marriage chamber, 
until the hero lies awake and succeeds in destroying them. 

Another power snakes possess is that of identifying the 
rightful heirs of kingdoms, and, as in the case of Drona, who 
found the Ahir Adirdja sleeping in the shade of the hood of 
a cobra, announce that he is born to rule.^ So in the 
mythology the Niga king Machalinda spreads his hood over 
the Buddha to protect him from the rain and flies.' Many 
of these NAgas indeed are friendly, as in the case of the 
Banjdra, who, in order to avoid octroi duty, declared his 
valuable goods to be Glauber salts, and Glauber salts they 
became until they were restored to their original condition 
by the intercession of the kindly Ndga of the Gundwa tank.* 
In one of Somadeva's tales the friendly snake clings round 
the R4ja till he promises to release the Bodhisattwa out of 

Snakes and Euphemism. 

Snakes should, of course, be addressed euphemistically as 
" Maternal uncle," or " Rope," and if a snake bites you, you 

'^ *' Popular Tales," ii. 385. ' Fuhrer, " Monumental Antiquities," 28. 
» Hardy, " Manual of Buddhism," 146. * ** Oudh Gazetteer," i. 597. 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 143 

should never mention its name, but say, " A rope has touched 
me." The Mirzapur Kharwdrs tell of a man who once came 
on a Nigin laying her eggs. When she saw him she fell at 
his feet and asked him to throw the eggs in a water-hole. 
So he took up the eggs on a bamboo sieve and went with 
her to the brink. The NAgin plunged in and said, " Do not 
be afraid ! Come on ! " He followed her, the waters dried 
up, and he came to the palace of the Ndg, who entertained 
him royally, and offered to give him anything he wished. 
The boor asked only for a pan, pot, and spoon, which the 
Ndga gave him, and he came home to find his relations 
doing the death ceremonies in his honour, believing he had 
been carried off by a tiger. He said nothing of his adven- 
tures till the day of his death, when he told the story. So 
the N4ga in other tales of the same class blesses and rewards 
the lucky man who has delivered the young snake from his 
persecutors who caught him while in the upper air. So 
in the Arabian Nights, the relations of JuUanar of the sea 
show their gratitude to the king who is kind to her on 

On the basis of the same idea which has been already 
referred to in the case of the Churel, it is believed that if the 
shadow of a pregnant woman fall on a snake it becomes 

The Snake Jewel. 

The SQ^ke, like the **toad ugly and venomous," wears on 
his head the Mani or precious jewel, which is a stock sub- 
ject in Indian folk-tales. Thus, in one of Somadeva's 
stories, "when Nala heard this, he looked round, and 
beheld a snake coiled up near the fire, having his head 
encircled with the rays of the jewels of his crest." * It is 
sometimes metamorphosed into a beautiful youth ; it equals 
the treasure of seven kings ; it can be hidden or secured 
only by cowdung or horsedung being thrown over it ; and 
if it is acquired the serpent dies. It lights the hero on his 

' *' Panjib Notes and Queries," i. 15, 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 564 ; ii. 315. 

144 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

way to the palace under the sea where is the silver jewelled 
tree ; or it is possessed by the sleeping beauty, who cannot 
return to her home beneath the waters, and loses the hero 
until it is recovered. Its presence acts as an amulet against 
evil, and secures the attainment of every wish. It protects 
the owner from drowning, the waters parting on each side 
of him, and allowing him to pass over rivers dry-shod.* 

The Rainbow and the Snake. 

So the rainbow is connected with the snake, being the 
fume of a gigantic serpent blown up from underground. In 
Persia it was called the "celestial serpent." We have 
already seen that the Milky Way is regarded as the path of 
the Ndgas in the sky. It is possibly under the influence of 
the association of the snake, a treasure guardian, that the 
English children run to find where the rainbow meets the 
earth, and expect to find a crock of gold buried at its base.* 

The Household Snake. 

The belief in the influence of the guardian domestic or 
national snake is universal. When the Persians invaded 
Athens the people would not leave the city till they learned 
that the guardian snake had refused its food and abandoned 
the citadel. A snake at Lanuvium and at Epirus resided in 
a grove and was waited on by a virgin priestess, who entered 
naked and fed it once a year, when by its acceptance or 
reftisal of the offiering, the prospects of the harvest were 
ascertained. The Teutons and Celts had also their sacred 
guardian snake. 

In the Panjib Hills, every householder keeps an image of 
the N4ga or harmless snake, as contrasted with the Sdnp, 
which is venomous. This snake is put iij charge of the 
householder's homestead, and is held responsible that no 
cobra or dangerous serpent enters it. It is supposed to have 

1 Temple, "Wideawake Stories," 304, 424; "Panjib Notes and 
Queries,'* i. 15, 76. 

2 Sleeman, " Rambles," i. 42 ; Conway, " Demonology," i. 354. 


//. 144- 

Tree and Serpent Worship. 145 

the power of driving all cobras out of the place. Should 
rain drive the house snake out of his hole, he is worshipped. 
No image of a cobra or other venomous snake is ever made 
for purposes of worship. Ant-hills are believed to be the 
homes of snakes, and there the people ofifer sugar, rice, and 
millet for forty days.* These correspond to the benevolent 
domestic snakes, of whom Aubrey says that '' the Bramens 
have them in great veneration ; they keep their corne. I 
think it is Tavemier mentions it." ' 

They are, in fact, as we have already seen, the representa- 
tives of the benevolent ancestral ghosts. Hence the deep- 
rooted prejudice against killing the snake, which is both 
guardian and god. " If," says Mr. Lang,' " the serpent were 
the deity of an earlier race, we could understand the pre- 
judice against killing it, as shown in the Apollo legend." 
The evidence accumulated in this chapter will perhaps go 
some way to settle this question, as far as India is con- 

* " Panj^b Notes and Queries/' iii. 92, 59. 

' ** Remaines," 39. He perhaps refers to Tavemier, " Travels * Ball's 
Edition), i. 42 ; ii. 249. 
» •* Custom and Myth," ii. 197. 




Olim truncus eram ficulnus, inutile lignum. 
Cum faber Incertus scamnum faceretne Priapum, 
Maluit esse deum. 

Horace f Sat. I. viii. 1-3. 

" A TOTEM is a class of material objects, which a savage 
regards with superstitious respect, believing that there exists 
between them and every member of the class an intimate 
and altogether special relation." * As distinguished from a 
fetish, a totem is never an isolated individual, but always a 
class of objects, generally a class of animals or plants, rarely 
class of inanimate objects, very rarely a class of artificial 

Origin of Totemism. 

As regards the origin of totemism great diversity of opinion 
wxists. Mr. Herbert Spencer considers that " it arose from 
a misinterpretation of nicknames ; savages first took their 
names from natural objects, and then confusing these objects 
with their ancestors of the same name, paid the same 
respect to the material totem as they were in the habit of 
doing to their own ancestors." * The objection to this is, 
as Mr. Frazer shows, that it attributes to verbal misunder- 
standings far more influence than, in spite of the comparative 
m5rthologists, they ever seem to have exercised. 

Sir J. Lubbock derives the idea from the practice of 
naming persons and families after animals, but " in dropping 

1 Frazer, " Totemism," i ; and his article on " Totemism," in " Ency- 
clopaedia Britannica," ^th Edition 
' " Principles of Sociology," i. 367. 


the intermediate links of ancestor-worship and verbal mis- 
understanding, he has stripped the theory of all that lent it 
even an air of plausibility." * 

Recent inquiries in the course of the Ethnographical 
Survey of Bengal and the North- Western Provinces enable 
us perhaps to approach to a solution of the problem. 

To begin with, at a certain stage of culture the idea of the 
connection between men and animals is exceedingly vivid, 
and reacts powerfully on current beliefs. The animal or 
plant is supposed to have a soul or spirit, like that of a 
human being, and this soul or spirit is capable of transfer to 
the man or animal and vice versd. This feeling comes out 
strongly in popular folk-lore, much of which is made up of 
instances of metamorphosis such as these. The witch or 
sorcerer is always changing into a tiger, a monkey, or a fish ; 
the princess is always appearing out of the aubergine or 

We have, again, the familiar theory to which reference 
has already been made, that the demon or magician has an 
external soul, which he keeps occasionally in the Life Index, 
which is often a bird, a tree, and an animal. If this life 
index can be seized and destroyed, the life of the monster is 
lost with it. 

These principles, which are thoroughly congenial to the 
beliefs of all primitive races, naturally suggest a much closer 
union between man and other forms of animal or vegetable 
life than people of a higher stage of development either 
accept or admit. With people, then, at this stage of culture, 
the theory that the ancestor of the clan may have been a 
bear or a tortoise would present no features of impro- 

This theory accounts, as Mr. Frazer shows, for many of 
the obscure rites of initiation which prevail among most 
savage tribes and in a modified form among the Brihman- 
ized Hindus. The basis of such rites is probably to extract 
the soul of the youth and temporarily transfer it to the 
totem, from which in turn fresh life is infused into him. 

* " Origin of Civilization," 260, and Mr. Frazer's criticism, loc. cit. 

L 2 

148 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

- Lastly, the result of the Indian evidence is that it is only 
in connection with the rules of exogamy that totemism at 
the present day displays any considerable degree of vitality. 
The real basis of exogamy in Northern India seems to be 
the totem sept, which, however, flourishes at the present 
day only among the Drividian tribes and those allied to 
them. But it would, it is almost certain, be incorrect to 
say that while totemism is at present most active among the 
Drdvidians, in connection with marriage, it was peculiar to 
them. It is more reasonable to infer that it continues to 
flourish among these races, because of their isolation from 
Brahmanical influence. As among the inferior races of the 
Gangetic valley, the primitive family customs connected 
with marriage, birth, and death have undergone a process of 
denudation from their connection with the more advanced 
Hindu races which surround them, so to a large degree in 
Northern India, the totemistic sept names have been 
gradually shed off, and replaced by an eponymous, local, or 
territorial nomenclature. In short, under the pressure of 
higher culture, the kindred of the swan, turtle, or parrot 
have preferred to call themselves Kanaujiya or " men of 
Kanauj," Sarwariya or " residents of the land beyond the 
Sarju river," and Raghuvansa or Bhriguvansa, " descendants 
of the sages Raghu or Bhrigu.'^ 

We find, then, among such races, as might have been 
expected, that at the present day the totemistic sept system 
exists only in obscure and not easily recognizable forms. 
Folk etymology has also exercised considerable influence, 
and a sept ashamed of its totemistic title readily adopts 
some title of the eponymous type, or a local cognomen 
sounding something like the name of the primitive totem* 
It is perhaps too much to expect that a careful exploration 
of the sept titles or tribal customs of Northern India will 
lead to extensive discoveries of the primitive totemistic 
organization. The process of trituration which has affected 
the caste nomenclature for such a lengthened period, and 
the obscuration of primitive belief by association with more 
cultured tribes, have been so continuous as to leave only a 



few fragments and isolated survivals ; but it is by a course 
of such inquiry that the totemistic basis of the existing 
caste system can alone be reached. 

I have considered this question in the light of the most 
recent evidence in another place/ and it is needless to repeat 
the results which were there arrived at. 

For the purpose of such an investigation it is convenient 
to have some sort of working classification of the tests of, 
and the forms in which, totemism usually appears. These 
have been laid down by the late Professor Robertson-Smith 
as follows : — 

{a) The existence of stocks named after plants, animals, 
or similar totems. 

[b) The prevalence of a conception that the members of 
the stock are of the blood of the eponym, or are sprung from 
a plant, etc., of the species chosen as the totem. 

{c) The ascription of a sacred character to the totem. 

Stocks Named from Animals, Plants, etc. 

First as to the stocks named from animals, plants, etc. 
There are two divisions of the Pdra Brihmans of the 
Dakkhin, known as Bakriydr and Chheriydr, founded on 
the names of the male and female goat. In Upper India, 
the Kdchhis or market gardeners, and the Kachhwdha sept 
of RS.jputs allege that they take their names from the 
Kachchhapa or tortoise, as the Kurmis refer their name to 
the KOrma or turtle. The Ahban Rdjputs and the Ahiwisis 
of Mathura connect their names with Ahi, the dragon. 
The Kalhans Rdjputs derive their name from the Kilahans 
or black goose. Among Brihmans and other high castes> 
Bhiradvaja, " the lark, the bringer of food," has given its 
name to many sections. Mr. Risley thinks that the fact of 
there being a Kasyapa division of Kumhdrs or potters, who 
venerate the tortoise, points to the name being a corruption 
of Kachchhapa, the tortoise, in which case their name would 
have the same origin as that of the Kdchhis already 

* " Tribes and Castes," Introduction. 

150 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Many people, again, claim kindred with the sun and 
moon. Such are the Natchez of North America and the 
Incas of Peru.* There are many children of the sun and 
moon in Arabia,' and g3rpsies of the east of Europe have a 
legend that they are descended from the sun and moon ; 
the sun having debauched his moon sister, was condemned 
to wander for ever, in consequence of which their de- 
scendants can never rest.' So in India, the SArajbansi and 
Chandrabansi Rijputs are said to take their names from 
Si^raj, the sun, and Chandra, the moon, respectively. 

According to Captain J. Montgomerie,* round Kashmir, 
and among the aboriginal tribes of the Him&la3^n slopes, 
men are usually named after animals, as the Bakhtiy&ris, 
one of the nomad tribes of Persia, name their children 
usually not after the Prophet, but after wild animals, such 
as the wolf, tiger, and the like, adding some descriptive 
epithet. In the same way a tribe of Lodi Pathdns in the 
Panj&b are known as Nihar or " wolf." This is said to be 
due to their rapacity, and may be as likely a nickname as a 
survival of totemism.' 

Totem Names among the Dravidians. 

The evidence of this point is, as has been already said, 
much more distinct among the Dravidians than among the 
more Hinduized races. Details of such names among the 
Agariyas, Nats, Baiswars, and Ghasiyas have been given in 
detail elsewhere.* Thus, to take the Dhdngars, a caste in 
Mirzapur, allied to the Ordons of Bengal, we find that they 
have eight exogamous septs, all or most of which are of 
totemistic origin. Thus, Ilha is said to mean a kind of fish, 
which members of this sept do not eat ; Kujur is a kind of 
jungle herb which this sept does not use ; Tirik is probably 

> Frazcr, *' Golden Bough," i. 13, note. 

- Robertson-Smith, " Kinship,*' 17. 

» Leland, " Etruscan Roman Remains," 90. 

• Quoted by McLennan, *^ Fortnightly Review,'' 1869, p. 419. 

• O'Brien, " Mult^ni Glossary," 260 so. 

• " Tribes and Castes of the North-western Provinces and Oudh," 



the Tirki or bull sept of the OrAons. In Chota N&gpur, 
members of this sept do not touch any cattle after their 
eyes are open. It illustrates the uncertainty of these usaf;es 
that in other places they say that the word Tirki means 
^^ young mice/' which they are prohibited from using.^ 
Again, the Mirzapur sept of the Dhdngars, known as Lakara, 
is apparently identical with that called Lakrar among the 
Bengal Ordons, who must not eat tiger's flesh as they are 
named after the tiger ; in Mirzapur they derive their name 
from the Lakar Bagha, or hyaena, which they will not hunt 
or kill. The Bara sept is apparently the same as the Barar 
of the Orions, who wiU not eat the leaves of the Bar tree 
or Ficus Indica. In Mirzapur they will not cut this tree. 
The Ekka sept in Mirzapur say that this name means 
*' leopard/' an animal which they will not kill, but in Chota 
NAgpur the same word is said to mean " tortoise " and to be 
a totemistic sept of the Ordons. So, the Mirzapur Dh&ngars 
have a Tiga sept, which they say takes its name from a 
jungle root which is prohibited to them ; but the Or&ons of 
Bhigalpur have a Tig sept, which, according to them» 
means '^ monkey." The last of the Mirzapur septs is the 
Kh&ha, which, like the Khakkar sept of the Orions, means 
" crow," and neither will eat the bird. Similar instances 
might be almost indefinitely repeated from usages of the 
allied tribes in Mirzapur and the adjoining Bengal Districts. 

The Panjab Snake Tribe. 

In the PanjAb there is a special snake tribe. They 
observe every Monday and Thursday in the snake's honour, 
cooking rice and milk, setting a portion aside for the snake, 
and never eating or making butter on those days. If they 
find a dead snake, they put clothes upon it, and give it a 
regular funeral. They will not kill a snake, and say that its 
bite is harmless to them. The snake, they say, changes its 
form every hundred years, and then becomes a man or a 

1 Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 254 ; Risley, " Tribes and Castes,'* 
ii. 327- 

152 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

bull.' SO| in Senegambia, " a p}^hon is expected to visit 
every child of the Python clan within eight da)^ after birth ; 
and the Psylli, a snake clan of ancient Africa, used to 
expose their infants to snakes in the belief that the snakes 
would not harm true-born children of the clan."' So, in 
Northern India the Bais RSjputs are children of the snake, 
and supposed to be safe from its bite, and N&ga Rija is 
the tribal godling of the B&jgis. There is a well-known 
legend of a queen of India, who is said to have sent to 
Alexander, among other costly presents, a girl, who, having 
been fed with serpents from her infancy, partook of their 
venomous nature. The well-known tale of Elsie Venner 
has been already referred to in the same connection. 

ToTEMisM IN Proper Names. 

The subject of Indian proper names has not yet received 
the attention it deserves. The only attempt to investigate 
the subject, so far, is that of Major Temple.* In his copious 
lists there is ample evidence that names are freely adopted 
from those of animals, plants, etc. Thus we have Bagha, 
" Tiger " ; Bheriya, " Wolf " ; BiUa, " Cat '' ; Ch6ha, " Rat," 
and so on from animals ; Bagla, " Heron " ; Tota, " Parrot," 
and so on from birds ; Ajgar, " Python " ; Mendak, " Frog " ; 
Kachhua, " Tortoise ; " ; Bhaunra, " Bumble Bee " ; Ghun, 
" Weevil " ; Dimak. " White Ant," etc. From plants come 
B6ta, "Tree"; Harabansa, "Green Bamboo" (or more 
probably Hari-vansa, " the genealogy of Hari " or Vishnu) ; 
N!ma,"Nimtree''; Pipal, " Pipal tree ". ; Guliba, " Rose *' ; 
Imliya, " Tamarind " ; Sewa, " Apple " ; Ilicha, " Carda- 
mum " ; Mirchi, " Pepper " ; Bhutta, " Maize." 

The evidence of nomenclature must, of course, be received 
with caution. The essence of totemism is a confessed belief 
in animal descent, a name declaring that descent and some 
sacredness attached to the animal or other fancied ancestor. 
Many of these names may be nicknames, or titles of oppro- 

^ " Panjib Notes and Queries," ii. 91. 

' Frazer, " Golden Bough," ii. 95. 

' " Dissertation on the Proper Names of Panjibis," 155 sq. 


brium selected^ as we have already shown, to bafiSe the 
Evil Eye or the influence of demons. Besides, as has been 
pointed out, it does not necessarily follow because an English- 
man lives in " Acacia Villa " or " Laburnum Cottage," and 
calls his daughter " Rose " or " Violet," that he is in the 
totemistic stage. At the same time, it is quite possible that 
further inquiry will discover undoubted instances of totemism 
in the nomenclature of Northern India, as is the case with 
other races in a similar stage of culture. 

Descent from the Totem. 

We next come to Professor Robertson-Smith's second 
test, the belief in descent from the totem. This branch of 
the subject has been very faUy illustrated by Mr. Frazer.* 
As in old times in Georgiana, according to Marco Polo, all 
the king's sons were born with an eagle on the right shoulder 
marking their royal origin,' so Chandragupta, king of 
Ujjain, was the son of a scorpion. " His mother accident- 
ally imbibed the scorpion's emission, by means of which she 
conceived." ' The Jaitwas of Rdjput&na trace their descent 
from the monkey god Hanumdn, and confirm it by alleging 
that the spine of their princes is elongated like a tail. In 
the RAmdyana, one of the wives of King Sdgara gives birth 
to a son who continues the race ; the other wife produces an 
Ikshviku, a gourd or cane containing sixty thousand sons. 
The famous Chandragupta was miraculously preserved by 
the founder of his race, the bull Chando.* The wolf is in 
the same way traditionally connected with the settlement of 
the Janwdr Rdjputs in Oudh, and they believe that the 
animal never preys on their children. Every native believes 
that children are reared in the dens of wolves, and there is a 
certain amount of respectable evidence in support of the 

» ** Totemism," 3 sqq. « Yule, " Marco Polo,'' i. 52. 

3 Hardy, ** Manual of Buddhism^*' 251. 

* Max Miiller, "Ancient Sanskrit Literature," 290. 

* "North Indian Notes and Queries," i. 10; ii. 215 ; iii. 144; Ball, 
** Jungle Life," 455 sqq. 

154 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Similar examples are numerous among the Dr&vidian 
tribes. The Cheros of the Vindhyan plateau claim descent 
from the N4ga or dragon. The R4ja and chief members of 
the Chota Ndgpur family wear turbans so arranged as to 
make the head-dress resemble a serpent coiled round the 
skull, with its head projecting over the wearer's brow. The 
seal of the Mahirdja and the arms of his family show as a 
crest a cobra with a human face under its expanded hood, 
surrounded with all the insignia of royalty. The Sant&l 
legend ascribes the origin of the tribe to the wild goose, and 
similar stories are told by the family of the RSja of Sinh- 
bhdm, the Hos, the Malers, and the Kiirs.* 

Special Respect Paid to the Totem. 

Next come instances of special respect paid to the totem. 
Some idea of the kind may be partly the origin of the 
worship of the cow and the serpent. Dr. Ball describes how 
some Kh&ndhs refused to carry the skin of a leopard because 
it was their totem.^ The Kadanballis of Kanara will not 
eat the S&mbhar stag, the Bargaballis the Barga deer, and 
the Kuntiballis the woodcock. The Vaydas of Cutch 
worship the monkey god whom they consider to be their 
ancestor, and to please him in their marriage ceremony, the 
bridegroom goes to the bride's house dressed up as a monkey 
and there leaps about in monkey fashion.* It is possibly 
from regard to the totem that the Parih&r Rijputs of 
RSjputina will not eat the wild boar, but they have now 
invented a legend that one of their princes went into a river 
while pursuing a boar and was cured of a loathsome disease.^ 
There is a Celtic legend in which a child is turned into a 
pig, and Gessa is laid on Diarmid not to kill a pig, as it has 
the same span of life as himself.*^ 

The Bengal Biwariyas take the heron as their emblem, 
and must not eat it.* The Orissa KumhArs abstain from 

* Dalton "Descriptive Ethnology," 126, 162, 165 sq., 179 185, 209, 
231, 265. 

* "Jungle Life," 600. » Campbell. " Notes," 7. 

* " RAjput&na Gazetteer," i. 223. * Rhys, " Lectures," 508. 

* Dalton, loc, cit,y 327. 


eating, and even worship the S&l fish, because the rings on 
its scales resemble the wheel which is the symbol of their 
craft/ The peacock is a totem of the J4ts and of the 
Khindhsy as the Yizidis worship the T&ous, a half mythical 
peacock, which has been connected with the Phcenix which 
Herodotus saw in Egypt.' The Parhaiyas have a tradition 
that their tribe used to hold sheep and deer sacred, and used 
the dung of these animals instead of cowdung to plaster 
their floors. So the Kariyas do not eat the flesh of sheep, 
and may not even use a woollen rug. The same prohibition 
of meats appears to be a survival of totemism in Arabia.* 

The Devak. 

One of the best illustrations of this form of totemism is 
that of the Devak or family guardian gods of Berdr and 
Bombay. Before concluding an alliance, the Kunbi and 
other Berar tribes look to the Devak, which literally means 
the deity worshipped at marriage ceremonies; the fact being 
that certain families hold in honour particular trees and 
plants, and at the marriage ceremony branches of these 
trees are set up in the house. It is said that a betrothal, in 
every other respect irreproachable, will be broken off if the 
two houses are discovered to pay honour to the same tree, 
in other words if they worship the same family totem and 
hence must belong to one and the same endogamous group.* 

The same custom prevails in Bombay. "The usual 
Devaks are some animals, like the elephant, stag, deer, or 
cock, or some tree, as the Jambul, Ber, Mango, or Banyan. 
The Devak is the ancestor or the head of the house, and so 
families which have the same guardian do not intermarry. 
If the Devak be an animal, its flesh is not eaten ; but if it 
be a fruit tree, the use of the fruit generally is not forbidden, 
though some families abstain from eating the fruit of the 
tree which forms their Devak or badge."' Mr. Campbell 

^ Risley, " Tribes and Castes," Introduction, xlvii. 
2 Conway, " Demonology," i. 27 ; ** Herodotus,'* ii. 73. 
« Dalton, loc, cit,y 131, note ; Ball, loc. cit.^ 89 ; Robertson-Smith, 
•* Kinship," 306 sq. 

* " Berdr Gazetteer," 187. » Campbell, "Notes," 8 sqq. 

156 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

gives numerous examples of these femily totems, such as 
wheat bread, a shell, an earthen pot, an axe, a Banyan tree, 
an elephant. Oil-makers have as their totem an iron bar, 
or an oil-mill; scent-makers use five piles, each of five 
earthen pots, with a lighted lamp in the middle. The 
Bangars' Devak is a conch-shell, that of the Pardesi 
R&jputs an earthen pot filled with wheat, and so on. Many 
of these are probably tribal or occupational fetishes, of which 
instances will be given in another place. 

The Vahanas and AvatIras. 

Some have professed to find indications of totemism 
in the V4hanas and Avat&ras, the " Vehicles " and the 
*' Incarnations " of the m5rthology ; but this is far from 
certain. It has been suggested that these may represent 
tribal deities imported into Hinduism. Brahma rides on the 
Hansa or goose ; Vishnu on Garuda, half eagle and half 
man, which is the crest of the Chandravansi Rdjputs ; Siva 
on his bull Nandi; Yama on a buffalo; Kirttikeya on a 
peacock ; KAmadeva on the marine monster Makara, or on 
a parrot ; Agni on a ram ; Varuna on a fish. Ganesa is 
accompanied by his rat, whence his name Akhuratha, " rat- 
borne." This an ingenious comparative mythologist makes 
out to represent " the pagan Sun god crushing under his 
feet the mouse of night." * VS.yu rides on an antelope, 
Sani or Safcurn on a vulture, and Durg4 on a tiger. 

The same is the case with the Avatiras or incarnations of 
the deities. Vishnu appears in the form of Vdrdha, the boar ; 
Kurma, the tortoise; Matsya, the fish; Nara Sinha, the 
man-lion; Kalki, the white horse. Rudra and Indra are 
also represented in the form of the boar. 

The Boar as a Totem. 

How the boar came to be associated with Vishnu has been 
much disputed. One and not a very plausible explanation 

* Gubematis, '* Zoological Mythology,*' ii. 68 ; and see Lang, '* Custom 
and Myth," 113. 


which has been suggested is that it is because the boar is a 
destroyer of snakes/ We know that in R&jput&na there 
was a regular spring festival at which the boar was killed 
because he was regarded as the special enemy of Gaurf , the 
Rijput tribal goddess.' 

The comparative mythologists account for the spring 
boar festival by connecting it with the ceremonial eating of 
the boar's head at Christmas in Europe, as a symbol of the 
gloomy monster of winter, killed at the winter solstice, after 
which the days get longer and brighter.' Mr. Frazer 
explains it by the killing of the Corn Spirit in the form of 
the boar.^ 

But it is, perhaps, simpler to believe with Sir A. Lyall * 
that " when the Brdhmans convert a tribe of pig- worship- 
ping aborigines, they tell their proselytes that the pig was 
an Avat&r of Vishnu. The Minas in one part of Rijpu- 
t&na used to worship the pig. When they took a turn 
towards Isldm they changed their pig into a saint called 
Father Adam, and worshipped him as such." Mr. Frazer 
has pointed out that the "customs of the Egyptians touching 
the pig are to be explained as based upon an opinion of the 
extreme sanctity rather than of the extreme uncleanness of 
the animal ; or rather to put it more correctly, they imply 
that the animal was looked on not simply as a filthy and a 
disgusting creature, but as a being endowed with high super- 
natural powers, and that as such it was regarded with that 
primitive sentiment of religious awe and fear in which the 
feelings of reverence are almost equally blended." 

There are indications of the same belief in India. Thus,, 
in Baghera " the boar is a sacred animal, and the natives 
there say that if any man were to kill a wild boar in the 
neighbourhood, he would be sure to die immediately after- 
wards, while no such fatal result would follow if the same 
man killed a boar anywhere else." * In the same way the 
Prabhus of Bombay eat wild pork once a year as a religious 

* Conway, ** Demonology/'>i. 144. ^ Tod, "Annals,'' i. 599, 

• Gubematis, loc, city ii. 13. * ** Golden Bough,'' ii. 26 saq., 58. 

^ *' Archaeological Reports/ vi. 135 

* ** Asiatic Studies,'* 264. ^ ''Archaeological Reports, vi. 137^ 

158 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

duty. The Vaddars of the Dakkhin say that they are not 
troubled with ghosts, because the pork they eat and hang in 
their houses scares ghosts. We know that among the 
Drdvidian races and many of the menial tribes of Hindustan 
the pig is the favourite offering to the local godlings and to 
the deities of disease. Swine's teeth are often worn by 
Hindu ascetics, and among the Kolarian races the women 
are forbidden to eat the flesh. In Northern India the chief 
place where the worship of Vishnu in his VarAha or boar 
incarnation is localized is at Soron on the banks of the 
Bdrht Gangi, or old Ganges, in the Etah District. The 
name of the place has been derived from Sukarakshetra, 
" the place of the good deed," because here Vishnu slew the 
demon Hiranyakesu. It is certainly Sukarakshetra, "the 
plain of the hog." * 

Garuda, another of these vehicles, is the wonder-working 
bird common to many mythologies — the Rukh of the 
Arabian Nights, the Eorosh of the Zend, the Simurgh of the 
Persians, the Anka of the Arabs, the Kargas of the Turks, 
the Kirni of the Japanese, the Dragon of China, the Norka 
of Russia, the Phoenix of classical fable, the Griffin of 
chivalry and of Temple Bar. 

From totemism we get a clue to many curious usages, 
especially in the matter of food. From this idea probably 
arose the unclean beasts of the Hebrew ritual. Many 
Hindu tribes will not eat the onion or the turnip. Br4h- 
mans and Bachgoti Rijputs object to potatoes. The 
R&jputs place a special value on the wood of the Ntm tree ; 
one clan alone, the RaikwArs, are forbidden to use it as 
a tooth-stick. Some Kolarian tribes, as we have already 
seen, reftise to use the flesh or wool of the sheep. The 
Murmu, or Santils of the blue bull sept, will not eat the 
flesh of that animal. The system of the Ordons is more 
elaborate still, for no sub-tribe can eat the plant or animal 
after which it is named. So, the Bansetti Binjhiyas, who 
take their name from the bamboo, do not touch the tree at 
a wedding ; the Harbans Chamltrs, who are said to be in 
* Fiihrer, ** Monumental Antiquities," 88. 


some way connected with a bone {hadda\ cannot wear bones 
in any shape ; the Rikhiisan Chiks do not eat beef or pork ; 
the Sanu&ni Dhenu&rs cannot wear gold ; the Dhanu&r 
Kharijras cannot eat rice gruel. Numerous instances of 
this kind are given by Mr. Risley.' The transition from 
such observances and restrictions to the elaborate food 
regulations of the modern castes is not difficult. 

Fetishism Defined. 

Fetishism is "the straightforward, objective admiration 
of visible substances fancied to possess some mysterious 
influence or faculty. . . . The original downright adoration 
of queer-looking objects is modified by passing into the 
higher order of imaginative superstition. First, the stone 
is the abode of some spirit, its curious shape or position 
betraying possession. Next, the strange form or aspect 
argues some design or handiwork of supernatural beings, or 
is the vestige of their presence upon earth, and one step 
further leads us to the regions of mythology and heroic 
legend." ' The unusual appearance of the object is thus 
supposed to imply an indwelling ghost, without which 
deviation from the ordinary type would be inexplicable. 
Hence fetishism depends on animism and the ghost theory, 
to which in order of time it must have succeeded. 

Fetishism Illustrated in Afghanistan. 

The process by which the worship of such a fetish grows 
is well illustrated by a case from Afghanistan. " It is 
sufficient for an Afghan devotee to see a small heap of stones, 
a few rags, or some ruined tomb, something, in short, upon 
which a tale can be invented, to imagine at once that some 
saint is buried there. The idea conceived, he throws some 
more stones upon the heap and sticks up a pole or flag ; 
those who come after follow the leader; more stones and 

* ** Tribes and Castes," ii. Appendix; Dalton, loc, cit, 162, note, 213, 

2 Lyall, "Asiatic Studies," 9 sq. 

i6o Folk-lore of Northern India. 

more rags are added ; at last its dimensions are so consider- 
able that it becomes the vogue ; a Mullah is always at hand 
with a legend which he makes or had revealed to him in a 
dream ; all the village believe it ; a few pilgrims come ; 
crowds follow ; miracles are wrought, and the game goes on, 
much to the satisfaction of the holy speculator, who drives a 
good trade by it, till some other Mullah more cunning than 
himself starts a saint of more recent date and greater 
miraculous powers, when the traffic changes hands." ' 

The same process is daily going on before our eyes in 
Northern India, and it would be difficult to suggest anything 
curious or abnormal which the Hindu villager will not adopt 
as fetish. 

The Lorik Legend. 

The legend of Lorik is very popular among the Ahir tribe, 
and has been localized in the Mirzapur District in a curious 
way which admirably illustrates the principles which we have 
been discussing. The story is related at wearisome length, 
but the main features of it, according to the Shdhdbid 
version, are as follows : Siudhar, an Ahir, marries Chandani, 
and is cursed by Pdrvatt with the loss of all passion. 
Chandani forms an attachment for her neighbour Lorik and 
elopes with him. The husband pursues, fails to induce her 
to return, fights Lorik and is beaten. The pair go and meet 
Mahapatiya, a Dusadh, the chief of the gamblers. He and 
Lorik play until the latter loses everything, including the 
girl. She urges that her jewels did not form part of the 
stake, and induces them to gamble again. She stands 
opposite Mahapatiya and distracts his attention by giving 
him a glance of her pretty ankles. Finally Lorik wins every- 
thing back. The girl then tells Lorik how she has been 
insulted, and Lorik with his mighty sword cuts off the 
gambler's head, when it and the body are turned into stone. 

Lorik had been betrothed to a girl named Satmandin> 
who was not of age and had not joined her husband. Lorik 
had an adopted brother named Semru. Lorik and Chan- 

^ Ferrier, " Caravan Journey," i86. 


dani, after killing the gambler, went on to Hardoi, near 
Mongir, where Lorik defeated a Rija and conquered his 
country. Lorik was finally seized and put into a dungeon, 
whence he was released by the aid of the goddess Durgi. 

He again conquered the RSja, recovered Chandant, had a 
son born to him, and gained considerable wealth. So they 
determined to return to their native land. 

Meanwhile Semru, Lorik's brother by adoption, had been 
killed by the Kols and all his cattle and property were 
plundered. Lorik's real wife, SatmanAin, had grown into a 
handsome woman, but still remained in her father's house. 
Lorik was anxious to test her fidelity ; so when she came 
to sell milk in his camp, not knowing her husband, he 
stretched a loin cloth across the entrance. All the other 
women stepped over it, but the delicacy of Satman4in was 
so excessive that she would not put her foot across it. 
Lorik was pleased, and filling her basket with jewels, 
covered them with rice. When she returned, her sister saw 
the jewellery and charged her with obtaining them as the 
price of her dishonour. She indignantly denied the accusa- 
tion, and her nephew, Semru's son, prepared to fight Lorik 
to avenge the dishonour of his aunt. Next day the matter 
was cleared up to the satisfaction of all parties. 

Lorik then reigned with justice, and incurred the dis- 
pleasure of Indra, who sought to destroy him. So the 
goddess Durgd took the form of his mistress Chandant and 
tempted him. He succumbed to her wiles, and she struck 
him so that his face turned completely round. Overcome 
by grief and shame, he went to Benares, and there he and 
his friends were turned into stone and sleep the sleep of 
magic at Manikarnika Gh&t. 

The Mirzapur Version. 

The Mirzapur version is interesting firom its association 
with fetishism. As you descend the MArkundi Pass into the 
valley of the Son, you observe a large isolated boulder split 
into two parts, with a narrow fissure between them. Further 
on in the bed of the Son is a curious water- worn rock, which, 


i62 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

to the eye of faith, suggests a rude resemblance to a head- 
less elephant. On this foundation has been localized the 
legend of Lorik, which takes us back to the time when the 
Aryan and the aboriginal Dasyu contended for mastery in 
the wild borderland. There was once, so the tale runs, a 
barbarian king who reigned at the fort of Agori, the frontier 
fortress on the Son. Among his dependents was a cowherd 
maiden, named Manjant, who was loved by her clansman 
Lorik. He, with his brother S&nwar, came to claim her as 
his bride. The Rdja insisted on enforcing the Jus primae 
noctts. The heroic brethren, in order to escape this infamy, 
carried off the maiden. The R&ja pursued on his famous 
wild elephant, which Lorik decapitated with a single blow. 

When they reached in their flight the M&rkundi Pass, 
the wise Manjanl advised Lorik to use her father's sword, 
which, with admirable forethought, she had brought with her. 
He preferred his own weapon, but she warned him to test 
both. His own sword broke to pieces against the huge boulder 
of the Pass, but Manjant's weapon clave it in twain. So 
Lorik and his brother, with the aid of the magic brand, 
defeated the infidel hosts with enormous slaughter, and 
carried off the maiden in triumph. 

If you doubt the story, there are the cloven boulder and 
the petrified elephant to witness to its truth, and both are 
worshipped to this day in the name of Lorik and his bride 
with offerings of milk and grain. 

This tale embodies a number of incidents which con- 
stantly appear in the folk-tales. We have the gambling 
match in the Mahdbhirata and in the tale of Nala and 
Damayanti, as well as in the Celtic legend of the young 
king of Easaidh Ruadh.^ The magic sword and the various 
fidelity tests appear both in the folk-tales of the East and 

1 Muir, " Ancient Sanskrit Texts," v. 425 sq. ; Lai Bihiri D^, " Folk- 
tales ,'--'•• 
" Wideawake btories," 277 sqq. ; 

\ of Bengal," 193 sq., 277 ; Temple, " Legends of the Panjib," 48 sqq. ; 

ideawake Stories," 277 sqq. ; Campbell, " Popular Tales," i. 2 ; 
Tawney, " Katha Sarit S&gara,^' ii. 323 ; and for fidelity tests, Grimm, 
" Household Tales," i. 453 ; Tawney, loc. cit, ii. 601 ; Clouston, " Popular 
Romances," i. 43, 173. 


Of living creatures turned into stone we have many 
instances in connection with the PAndava legend, as in 
Cornwall, the granite rocks known as the " Merry Maidens " 
and the " Pipers " are a party who broke the Sabbath, were 
struck by lightning, and turned into stone.* 

JiRlYl BhavInI. 

Of a similar type is Jirdyd Bhavdnt, who is worshipped 
at Jungail, south of the Son. In her place of worship, a 
cave on the hillside, the only representative of the goddess 
is an ancient rust-eaten coat of mail. This gives her name, 
which is a corruption of the Persian Zirah, meaning a coat 
of armour. Close by is a little stream, known as the 
Suaraiya, the meaning of which is, of course, assumed to 
be " Hog river," from the Hindi SClar, a pig. Here we 
have all the elements of a myth. In one of the early fights 
between Hindu and Musalm&n, a wounded hero of Isl&m 
came staggering to the bank of the stream, and was about 
to drink, when he heard that its name was connected with 
what is an abomination to the true believer. So he preferred 
to die of thirst, and no one sees any incongruity in the fact 
that the armour of a martyr of the faith has become a 
form of the Hindu goddess. The shrine is now on its pro- 
motion, and Jirdyd BhavAnt will be provided with a 
Sanskrit etymology and develop before long into a genuine 
manifestation of Kdli. 

Village Fetish Stones. 

It is hardly necessary to say that, as Sir J. Lubbock has 
shown, the worship of fetish stones prevails in all parts of 
the world.^ There is hardly a village in Northern India 
without a fetish of this kind, which is very often not appro- 
priated to any special deity, but represents the Grimadevata 

1 Tylor, " Primitive Culture," i. 352, note ; " Wideawake Stories," 
419 sqq. ; ** Panjib Notes and Queries," iv. 201 ; Knowles, "Folk-tales 
of Kashmir," 192 ; Tawney, loc, ciU, i. 123 ; Grimm, loc, cit, ii. 400 ; Hunt, 
"Popular Romances," 178. 

2 Also see Rhys, "Lectures,'' 206; Lang, "Custom and Myth," 52. 

M 2 

164 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

or G&nw-devi, or Deohdr, the collective local divine cabinet 
which has the affairs of the community under its charge. 

Why spirits should live in stones has been debated. Mr. 
Campbell perhaps presses the matter too far when he 
suggests that stones were by early man found to contain 
fire, and that heated stones being found useful in disease, 
cooking, and the like may have strengthened the idea. 
" The earliest theory was perhaps that as the life of the 
millet was in the millet seed and the life of the Mango tree 
was in the Mango stone, a human spirit could live in a rock 
or a pebble. The belief that the soul, or part of the soul of 
a man, lives in his bones, seems closely connected with the 
belief in the stone as a spirit house. Probably it was an 
early belief that the bones should be kept, so that if the 
spirit comes back and worries the survivors he may have a 
place to go to." * 

It is quite possible that the worship of stocks and stones 
may not in all places be based on exactly the same train of 
ideas. To the ruder races,'the more curious or eccentric the 
form of the stone is, the more likely it is to be the work and 
possibly the abode of a spirit, and in a stoneless land, like 
the Gangetic plain, any stone is a wonder, and likely to be 
revered. The conception of the worshipper will always vary 
in regard to it. To the savage it will be the actual home or 
the occasional resting-place of the spirit ; to the idolater of 
more advanced ideas it will be little more than a symbol, 
which reminds him of the deity without shape or form whom 
he is bound to worship. 

Other fetish stones, again, by their form prove that they 
are the work of another or a higher race. Thus, on the 
village fetish mounds we often find the carved relics of some 
Buddhistic shrine, or the prehistoric stone implements, 
which were the work of a forgotten i>eople. 

Lastly, many stones lend themselves directly to the needs 
of the phallic cultus. 

One form of stone is regarded with special reverence, 
those that have holes or perforations. Among these may 

1 "Notes," 163. 


be mentioned the Silagrima, a sort of ammonite found in 
the Gandak river, which has perforations, said to be the 
work of the Vajrakita insect and hence sacred to Vishnu. 
The story goes that the divine NArdyana once wandered 
through the world in the form of the Vajrakita or golden 
bee. The gods, attracted by his beauty, also took the form 
of bees, and whirled about him in such numbers that Vishnu, 
afraid of the consequences, assumed the form of a rock and 
stopped the moving of Garuda and the gods. On this 
Garuda, followed by all the gods, made each a separate 
dweUing in the rock for the conversion of the infidels. So 
the Cornish Milpreve, or adder stone which is a preservative 
against vij)ers, is a ball of coralline limestone, the sections 
in the coral being thought to be entangled young snakes.^ In 
Italy, pieces of stalagmite full of cavities are valued as 

The respect for these perforated stones rests, again, on 
the well-known principle that looking through a stone which 
has a hole bored through it improves the sight. 

All over the world it is a recognized theory that creeping 
through the orifice in a perforated stone or under an arching 
stone or tree is a valuable remedy in cases of disease. Mr. 
Lane describes how women in Cairo walk under the stone 
on which the decapitated bodies of criminals are washed, in 
the hope of curing ophthalmia or procuring offspring. The 
woman must do this in silence, and with the left foot fore- 
most.^ In Cornwall, Mr. Hunt writes : " In various parts 
of the country there are, amongst the granitic masses, rocks 
which have fallen across each other, leaving small openings, 
or there are holes, low and narrow, extending under a pile 
of rocks. In nearly every case of this kind, we find it is 
popularly stated that any one suffering from rheumatism or 
lumbago would be cured if he crawled through the opening. 
In some cases nine times are insisted on to make the charm 
complete." ' So, walking under a bramble which has formed 
a second root in the earth is a cure for rheumatism, and 

^ Hunt, " Popular Romances/' 418. ^ " Modern Egyptians," i. 325. 
* " Popular Romances," 177. 

i66 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

strumous children were passed nine times through a cleft 
ash tree, against the sun. The tree was then bound up, and 
if the bark grew the child was cured, if the tree died the 
death of the child was sure to follow.* 

In the same way at many shrines it is part of the worship 
to creep through a narrow orifice from one side to the other. 
At Kankhal, worshippers at the temple of Daksha creep 
through a sort of tunnel from one side to the other. The 
same is the rule at the temple at Kabraiya in the Hamlrpur 
District, and at many other places of the same kind.^ 

The same principle probably accounts for the respect paid 
to the grindstone. Part of the earliest form of the marriage 
ritual consisted in the bride standing on the family grind- 
stone. At the present day she puts her foot upon it and 
knocks down little piles of heaped grain. It is waved over 
the heads of the pair to scare evil spirits. In Bombay it is 
said that sitting on a grindstone shortens life, and the 
Kunbis of Koliba place a grindstone in the lying-in room, 
and on it set a rice flour image of a woman, which is wor- 
shipped as the goddess, and the baby is laid before it. Such 
a stone readily passes into a fetish, as at Ahmadnagar, where 
there is a stone with twjx^hojes, which any two fingers of 
any person's hand can fill, and the mosque where it stands 
is, in consequence, much respected.* 

Much, however, of the worship of stones appears to be the 
result of the respect paid to the tombstone or cairn, which, 
as we have already said, keeps down the ghost of the dead 
man, and is often a place in which his spirit chooses to 

These rude stones are very often smeared with ruddle or 
red ochre. We have here a survival of the blood sacrifice of 
a human being or animal which was once universal/ Sutth 
sacrifices rest on the principle that it is necessary to supply 
attendants to the dead or to the tribal gods in the other 

* ** Popular Romances," 412, 415. 

2 Fiihrer, ** Monumental Antiquities," 173. 
' " Bombay Gazetteer," xi. 56 ; xvii. 698. 

* Robertson-Smith, ** Kinship," 49 ; Lubbock, ** Origin of Civilization,** 
306 ; Tylor, ** Primitive Culture," ii. 164 ; Conway, " Demonology,*' ii. 284. 


world ; and the commutation of human sacrifices, first into 
those of animals, and then into a mere scarlet stain on the 
fetish stone, is a constantly recurring fact in the history of 
custom.^ It may be worth while to discuss this transition 
firom the Indian evidence. 

Human Sacrifice among the Indo-Aryans. 

That human sacrifice prevailed among the early Aryans 
in India is generally admitted. The whole question has 
been treated in detail by that eminent Hindu scholar, 
Rajendra L^a Mitra. He arrives at the conclusion that, 
looking to the history of the ancient civilisation and the 
ritual of the Hindus, there is nothing to justify the belief 
that the Hindus were incapable of sacrificing human victims 
to their gods ; that the Sunasepha hymns of the Rig Veda 
Sanhita most probably refer to a human sacrifice ; that the 
Aitareya BrAhmana refers to an actual and not to a typical 
human sacrifice ; that the Parushamedha originally required 
the actual sacrifice of men ; that the Taitareya BrAhmana 
enjoys the killing of a man at the horse sacrifice ; that the 
Satapatha Br&hmana sanctions human sacrifice in some 
cases, but makes the Parushamedha emblematic ; that the 
PurAnas recognize human sacrifices to ChandikA, but 
prohibit the Parushamedha rite; that the Tantras enjoin 
human sacrifices to ChandikA, and require that when human 
victims are not available, an effigy of a human being should 
be sacrificed to her.^ 

Human Sacrifice in the Folk-tales. 

There is ample evidence from the folk-tales of the exist- 
ence of human sacrifice in early times. We have in the 
tales of Somadeva constant reference to human sacrifices 

^ Spencer, ''^ Principles of Sociology," i. 268 ; Lang, " Custom and 
Myth,*' i. 270. 

' " Indo-Aryans," ii. 70 sqq. ; •* Journal Asiatic Society, Bengal,*' 1876 ; 
Max Miiller, " Ancient Sanskrit Literature,*' 408 sq. ; Muir, " Ancient 
Sanskrit Texts," i., ii., passim \ Wilson, " Rig Veda," 1. 59, 63 ; " Essays," 
ii. 247 sqq. ; Atkinson, " Him&layan Gazetteer," ii. 800, 867. 

i68 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

made in honour of Chandika or Chdmundd. We find one 
Muravara, a Turushka or Indo-Scythian, who proposes to 
make a human sacrifice in memory of his dead father ; we 
have expiatory sacrifices to ChandikA to save the life of a 
king. In one of the Panjdb tales a ship will not leave port 
till a human victim is offered. In one of the modern tales 
we have an account of a man and his family who sacrifice 
themselves before the god Jyoti Bara, " the great diviner/' 
who is worshipped by the Sinsya gypsies.* 

The folk-tales also disclose ample evidence of cannibalism. 
The Magian cannibals of the Book of Sindibad used to eat 
human flesh raw, and the same tale is told by Herodotus of 
the Massagetae, the Padaei of India, whom Col. Dalton 
identifies with the Birhors of Chota NAgpur, and of the 
Essedones near Lake Moeotis.' It is needless to say that 
Indian folk-tales abound with references to the same prac- 
tices. We have cannibal RsLkshasas in abundance, and in 
one of Somadeva's stories DevaswAmin, the Brahman, looks 
out and finds his " wife's mouth stained with blood, for she 
had devoured his servant and left nothing of him but the 
bones." And in the tale of Asokadatta we have a woman who 
climbs on a stake and cuts slices of the flesh of an impaled 
criminal, which she eats.' In the Mahibhdrata we find the 
legend of Kalmashapada, who, while hunting, meets Saktri^ 
son of Vasishtha, and strikes him with his whip. The in- 
censed sage cursed him to become a cannibal. This curse was 
heard by Viswamitra, the rival of Vasishtha, and he so con- 
trived that the body of the king became possessed by a man- 
eating R&kshasa. Kalmashapada devoured Saktri and the 
hundred sons of Vasishtha, who finally restored him to his 
original state. In a tale recently collected among the 
DrAvidian M&njhis, a girl accidentally cuts her finger and 
some of the blood falls upon the greens, whereupon her 

* Tawney, ** Katha Sarit S^ara," i. 336 ; ii. 253, 338 ; Temple, " Wide- 
awake Stories/' 147 ; Ul BihAri D6, " Folk-tales," 194 ; Miss Frere, 
"Old Deccan Days," 6 ; " North Indian Notes and Queries," ii. iii, 129 j 
iii. 105. 

2 Burton, " Arabian Nights," iv. 376. 

* Tawney, loc. «/., i. 212 ; ii. 616. 


brothers, finding that it flavoured the mess, killed and 
devoured her.* 

Human Sacrifice in Modern Times. 

Up to quite modern times the same was the case, and 
there is some evidence to show that the custom has not quite 

Until the beginning of the present century, the custom of 
offering a first-born child to the Ganges was common. Akin 
to this is the Gangd JAtra, or murder of sick relatives on 
the banks of the sacred river, of which a case occurred 
quite recently at Calcutta. At Katwa, near Calcutta, a 
leper was burnt alive in 1812 ; he threw himself into a pit 
ten cubits deep which was filled with burning coals. He 
tried to escape, but his mother and sister thrust him in 
again and he was burnt. They believed that by so doing he 
would gain a pure body in the next birth.' Of this religious 
suicide in Central India, Sir J. Malcolm wrote : " Self- 
sacrifice of men is less common than it used to be, and the 
men who do it are generally of low tribes. One of their 
chief motives is that they will be born RS.jas at their next 
incarnation. Women who have been long barren, vow their 
first child, if one be given to them, to Omkdr Mandhita. 
The first knowledge imparted to the infant is this vow, and 
the impression is so implanted in his mind, that years before 
his death he seems like a man haunted by his destiny. 
There is a tradition that anyone saved after the leap over 
the cliff near the shrine must be made Rija of the place ; 
but to make this impossible, poison is mixed with the last 
victuals given to the devoted man, who is compeUed to carry 
out his purpose.* 

The modern instances of human sacrifice among the 
KhAndhs of Bengal and the Mers of RAjputdna are suffi- 
ciently notorious. It also prevailed among some of the 
Drdvidian tribes up to quite recent times. The Kharw4rs> 

^ ** North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 65. 

' Ibid., ii. 22. ' " Central India," ii. 210. 

170 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

since adopting Hinduism, performed human sacrifices to 
Kill in the form of Chandf. Some of our people who fell 
into their hands during the Mutiny were so dealt with. 
The same was the case with the Bhuiyas, Kh^ndhs, and 
Mundas. Some of the Gonds of Sarguja used to offer 
human sacrifice to Burha Deo, and still go through a form 
of doing so/- There is a recent instance quoted among the 
Tiyars, a class of boatmen in Benares ; one Tonurim sacri- 
ficed four men in the hope of recovering the treasures of 
seven Rajas ; another man was killed to propitiate a Rik- 
shasa who guarded a treasure supposed to be concealed in a 
house where the deed was committed.* About 1881 a village 
headman sacrificed a human being to Kill in the Sambalpur 
District, and a similar charge was made against the chief of 
Bastar not many years ago. 

Of the Karhfilda Brihmans of Bombay, Sir J. Malcolm 
writes : ® " The tribe of Brihmans called KarhAda had for- 
merly a horrid custom of annually sacrificing to their deities 
a young Brahman. The Sakti is supposed to delight in 
human blood, and is represented with fiery eyes and covered 
with red flowers. This goddess holds in one hand a sword 
and in the other a battle-axe. The prayers of her votaries 
are directed to her during the first nine days of the Dasahra 
feast, and on the evening of the tenth a grand repast is pre- 
pared, to which the whole family is invited. An intoxicating 
drug is contrived to be mixed with the food of the intended 
victim, who is often a stranger whom the master of the 
house has for several months treated with the greatest kind- 
ness and attention, and sometimes, to lull suspicion, given 
him his daughter in marriage. As soon as the poisonous 
and intoxicating drug operates, the master of the house un- 
attended takes the devoted person into the temple, leads him 
three times round the' idol, and on his prostrating himself 

1 Campbell, " Khondistdn," fassim; Frazer, *' Golden Bough," i. 384 
sqq. ; " Rdjputina Gazetteer," li. 47 ; Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 
130, 147, 176, 285 sq., 281. 

2 Chevers, " Medical Jurisprudence," 406, 411. 

8 Campbell, " Notes," 339 ; Wilson, " Indian Caste," ii. 22 sq. ; 
** Bombay Gazetteer," x. 114. 


before it, takes this opportunity of cutting his throat. He 
collects with the greatest care the blood in a small bowl, 
which he first applies to the lips of the ferocious goddess, 
and then sprinkles it over her body ; and a hole having been 
dug at the feet of the idol for the corpse, he deposits it with 
great care to prevent discovery. After this the Karhdda 
BrAhman returns to his family, and spends the night in mirth 
and revelry, convinced that by the bloodthirsty act he has 
propitiated the goddess for twelve years. On the morning 
of the following day the corpse is taken from the hole in 
which it had been thrown, and the idol deposited till next 
Dasahra, when a similar sacrifice is made." 

There seems reason to suspect that even in the present 
day such sacrifices are occasionally performed at remote 
shrines of K411 or Durg4 Devt. Within the last few years 
a significant case of the kind occurred at Benares. There 
are numerous instances from NepsQ.* At Jaypur, near 
Vizagapatam, the Rdja is said, at his installation in 1861, to 
have sacrificed a girl to DurgA.' A recent case of such 
sacrifice with the object of recovering hidden treasure 
occurred in Ber&r ; a second connected with witchcraft at 
Muzaffamagar.* At Chanda and Lanji in the Province of 
N&gpur there are shrines to K&li at which human sacrifices to 
the goddess have been offered almost within the memory of 
this generation. 

Besides the religious form of human sacrifice in honour of 
one of these bloodthirsty deities, there are forms of the 
rite which depend on the mystic power attributed to human 
flesh and blood in various charms and black magic. 

In connection with human flesh a curious story is told 
of a man who went to bathe in the Ganges, and met 
one of the abominable Faqtrs known as Augars or Aghor- 
panthis, who carry about with them fragments of a human 
corpse. He saw the Faqir cut off and eat a piece of the 
flesh of a corpse, and he then offered him a piece, saying 

» Wright, " History," 11, note. « BaU, "Jungle Life," 580. 

' "North Indian Notes and Queries,'' i. 112, 148. And for other in- 
stances, see Balfour, •* Cyclopsedia," iii. 477 sqq. 

172 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

that if he ate it he would become enormously rich. He 
refused the ghastly food, and the Faqlr then threw a piece 
at him which stuck to his head, forming a permanent lump/ 
In one of the tales of Somadeva the witches are seen flying 
about in the air, and say, " These are the magic powers of 
witches' spells, and are due to the eating of human flesh." 
In another the hero exchanges an anklet with a woman for 
some human flesh.^ 

The same mysterious power is attributed to human blood* 
The blood of the Jinn has, it is hardly necessary to say, 
special powers of its own. Thus, in one of the Kashmir 
stories the angel says: "This is a most powerful Jinn. 
Should a drop of his blood fall to the ground while life is in 
him, another Jinn will be quickly formed therefrom, and 
spring up and slay you."* Bathing in human blood has 
been regarded as a powerful remedy for disease. The Em- 
peror Constantine was ordered a bath of children's blood, 
but moved by the prayers of the parents, he forbore to apply 
the remedy and was rewarded by a miraculous recovery. In 
one of the European folk-tales a woman desirous of offspring 
is directed to take a horn and cup herself, draw out a clot 
of blood, place it in a pot, lute it down and only uncover it 
in the ninth month, when a child would be found in the 
pot. In the German folk-tales, bathing in the blood of 
innocent maidens is a cure for leprosy.* 

The same beliefs largely prevail in India. In 1870, a 
MusalmsLn butcher losing his child was told by a Hindu 
conjuror that if he washed his wife in the blood of a boy, 
his next infant would be healthy. To ensure this result a 
child was murdered. A similar case occurred in Muzaffar- 
nagar, where a child was killed and the blood drunk by a 
barren woman.^ In one of the tales of Somadeva the preg- 

* " Panjib Notes and Queries," iii. 75. 

2 Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 157, 214. 

3 Knowles, " Folk-tales," 2. 

* Leland, "Etruscan Roman Remains," 294; Grimm, "Household 
Tales," i. 396 ; Hartland, " Legend of Perseus," i. 98. 

* " Report Inspector-General Police, N.-W.P., 1870," page 93 ; " Pan- 
}kb Notes and Queries," ii. 205 ; iii. 74, 162 ; Chevers, ** Medical Juris- 
prudence," 842, 396 ; Campbell, " Notes," 338. 


nant queen asks her husband to gratify her longing by filling 
a tank with blood for her to bathe in. He was a righteous 
man, and in order to gratify her craving he had a tank filled 
with the juice of lac and other extracts, so that it seemed 
to be full of blood. In another tale the ascetic tells the 
woman that if she killed her young son and offered him to 
the divinity, another son would certainly be born to her. 
Quite recently at Muzaffamagar a childless Jit woman was 
told that she would attain her desire if she bathed in water 
mixed with the blood of a Brahman child. A Hindu coolie 
at Mauritius bathed in and drank the blood of a girl, think- 
ing that thereby he would be gifted with supernatural 
powers. It would be easy to add largely to the number of 
instances of similar beliefs.^ 

Survivals of Human Sacrifice. 
There are, in addition, numerous customs which appear 
to be survivals of human sacrifice, or of the blood covenant, 
which also prevailed in Arabia.* Among the lower castes 
in Northern India the parting of the bride's hair is marked 
with red, a survival of the original blood covenant, by which 
she was introduced into the sept of her husband. We see 
that this is the case from the rites of the more savage tribes. 
Among the Kewats of Bengal, a tiny scratch is made on the 
little finger of the bridegroom's right hand and of the bride's 
left, and the drops of blood drawn from these are mixed 
with the food. Each then eats the food with which the 
other's blood has been mixed. Among the Santdls blood is 
drawn in the same way from the little finger of the bride 
and bridegroom, and with it marks are made on both above 
the clavicle.* 

Human Sacrifice and Buildings. 
One standing difGiculty at each decennial census has been 
the rumour which spreads in remote tracts that Government 

^ " North Indian Notes and Queries," i. 148 ; iii. 71. 

2 Robertson-Smith, " Kinship," 48 sq. 

3 Risley, " Tribes and Castes," i. 456 ; Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology,*' 

174 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

is making the enumeration with a view of collecting victims 
to be sacrificed at some bridge or other building, or that a 
toll of pretty girls is to be taken to reward the soldiery after 
some war. Thus, about a fort in Madras it had long been a 
tradition that when it was first built a girl had been built 
into the wall to render it impregnable.^ It is said that a 
R4ja was once building a bridge over the river Jargo at 
Chun&r, and when it fell down several times he was advised 
to sacrifice a Br&hman girl to the local deity. She has now 
become the Mart or ghost of the place, and is regularly wor- 
shipped in time of trouble.' In Kumaun the same belief 
prevails, and kidnappers, known as Dokhutiya, or two-legged 
beasts of prey, are said to go about capturing boys for this 
purpose. In Kithiiwar, if a castle was being built and the 
tower would not stand, or if a pond had been dug and would 
not hold water, a human victim was offered.' The rumour 
that a victim was required spread quite recently in connec- 
tion with the Hughli Bridge at Calcutta and the Benares 
water-works. The NarmadH, it was believed, would never 
allow herself to be bridged until she carried away part of the 
superstructure, and caused the loss of lives as a sacrifice.. 
At Ahmad&bid, by the advice of a Br&hman, a childless 
V&nya was induced to dig a tank to appease the goddess 
Sitald. The water refused to enter it without the sacrifice of 
a man. As soon as the victim's blood fell on the ground, 
the tank filled and the goddess came down from heaven and 
rescued the victim.* In building the fort of Sikandarpur in 
Baliya, a Brahman and a Dusadh girl were both immolated.*^ 
The Vadala lake in Bombay refused to hold water till the 
local spirit was appeased by the sacrifice of the daughter of 
the village headman. When the Shorkot fort was being 
built one side repeatedly fell down. A Faqlr advised the 
Rdja to put a first-born son under the rampart. This was 
done and the wall stood. The child's mother went to Mecca, 
and returned with an army of Muhammadans ; but they 

» " Folk-lore," iv. 260. 

2 " North Indian Notes and Queries/' iii. 40. ^ Ibid., 106. 

* '* Bombay Gazetteer," ii. 349 ; xiv. 49. 

^ Fiihrer, " Monumental Antiquities," 194. 


could not take the fort. Then a Faqir transformed himself 
into a cock and flew on the roof of the palace, where he set 
up a loud crow. The Raja was frightened and abandoned 
the place. As he was leaving it, he shouted, " Shame on 
thee, O Fort ! to remain standing ! " and the walls at once 
fell down.^ 

Modifications of Human Sacrifice. 

There are also many instances of the transition from 
human sacrifices to those of a milder form. Thus, when 
Ahmaddbad was building, Minik Bdwa, a saint, every day 
made a cushion, and every night picked it to pieces. As he 
did so the day's work fell down. The Sultdn refrained from 
sacrificing him, but got him into a small jar and kept him 
there till the work was over.' The VilUlis of Pfina on the 
fifteenth day after a death shape two bricks like human 
beings, dress them, and lay them on a wooden stool. They 
weep by them all night, and next day, taking them to the 
burning ground, cremate them. Among the Telugu Br4h- 
mans of Pdna, if a man dies at an unlucky time, wheaten 
figures of men are made and burnt with the corpse. The 
Konkani Marithas of Kanara on the feast of RaulnAth get a 
man to cut his hand with a knife and let three drops of blood 
fall on the ground.^ Formerly in HoshangdbAd, men used 
to swing themselves from a pole, as in the famous Bengal 
Charakh Pfiji. In our territories this is now uncommon, as 
the village headmen being afraid of responsibility for an 
accident, generally, instead of a man, fasten up a white 
pumpkin, which they swing about.* 

At the installation of a Bhuiya Rija, a man comes 
forward whom the RAja touches on the neck, as if about to 

* For similar instances see " Archaeological Reports," v. 98 ; " Bombajr 
Gazetteer," XX. 144; "Folk-lore Records," iii. Part II. 182; " Oudh 
Gazetteer," iii. 253; ** Indian Antiquary," xi. 117; "Calcutta Review," 
Ixxvii. 106; Lil Bihiri D^, "Folk-tales," 130; " Paniib Notes and 
Queries," iii. 1 10 ; " North Indian Notes and Queries, ' ii. 27, 63, 93 ;. 
Campbell, " Sant^l Folk-tales," 106. 

* " Bombay Gazetteer," iv. 276. ^ « Campbell, " Notes," 348. 

* " Settlement Report," 126. 

176 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

cut off his head. The victim disappears for three days ; 
then he presents himself before the R&ja, as if miraculously 
restored to life. Similarly, the Gonds, instead of a human 
sacrifice, now make an image of straw, which they find 
answers the purpose. The Bhuiyas of Keunjhar used to 
offer the head of their prime minister to Thakurdnl MM. 
She is now transformed into the Hindu Durga and accepts 
a sacrifice of goats and sheep.* In Nepdl, after the Sithi 
Jitra feast, the people divide into two parties and have a 
match at stone-throwing ; formerly this used to be a serious 
matter, and any one who was knocked down and fell into the 
hands of the other side was sacrificed to the goddess Kankes- 
wari. The actual killing of the victim, as in the case of 
sacrifices to the goddess Bachhld Devi, has now been dis- 
continued under the influence of British officers.' We shall 
meet later on in another connection other instances of mock 
fights of the same kind. 


In connection with human sacrifice may be mentioned the 
curious superstition about MomiM or mummy. 

The virtues of human fat as a magical ointment appear all 
through folk-lore. Othello, referring to the handkerchief 
which he had given to Desdemona, says, — 

'* It was dyed in the mummy which the skilful 
Conserved of maidens' hearts.'' 

Writing of witches Reginald Scot says : " The devil teacheth 
them to make ointment of the bowels and members of chil- 
dren, whereby they ride in the air and accomplish all their 
desires. After burial they steal them out of their graves and 
seethe them in a cauldron till the flesh be made potable, of 
which they make an ointment by which they ride in the air." 
In Macbeth the first witch speaks of — 

" Grease that sweaten 
From the murderer's gibbet.'* 

' Dalton, "Descriptive Ethnology," 146, 281 ; Risley, "Tribes and 
Castes," i. 115. 
2 Wright, " History," 35 sq., 156, note, 126, 205, 265. 


Indian witches are believed to use the same mystic prepara- 
tion to enable them to fly through the air, as their European 
sisters are supposed to use the fat of a toad.^ Human £a.t 
is believed to be specially efficacious for this purpose. In 
one of Somadeva's stories the Brihman searches for treasure 
with a candle made of human fat in his band.' One of the 
Mongol Generals, Marco Polo tells us, was accused of boiling 
down human beings and using their fat to grease his 
mangonels ; and Carpini says that when the Tartars cast 
Greek fire into a town they used to shoot human fat with 
it, in order to cause the fire to burn more quickly,'^ So, in 
Europe a candle of human fat is said to have been used by 
robbers with the Hand of Glory to prevent the inmates 
waking, and on the Scotch border the torch used in the 
mystic ceremony of " saining " was made from the fet of a 
slaughtered enemy/ 

In India, the popular idea about Momiilt is that a boy, the 
fatter and blacker the better, is caught, a small hole is bored 
in the top of his head, and he is hung up by the heels over a 
slow fire. The juice or essence of his body is in this way 
distilled into seven drops of the potent medicine known as 

This substance possesses healing properties of a super- 
natural kind. Sword cuts, spear thrusts, wounds from 
arrows and other weapons of warfare are instantly cured by 
its use, and he who possesses it is practically invulnerable. 
In Kumaun, this substance is known as N^riyan Tel or R4m 
Tel, the "oil of Vishnu or Rima." 

It is further believed that a European gentleman, known 
as the Momiii-wila Sahib, has a contract firom Government 
of the right of enticing away suitable boys for this purpose. 
He makes them smell a stick or wand, which obliges them 
to follow him, and he then packs them off to some hill station 
where he carries on this nefarious manufacture. 

As an instance of this belief, " A very black servant of a 

1 Tawney, « Katha Sarit Sigara," ii. 594. 2 ibj^j^^ i ^q^ 

' Yule, " Marco Polo » ii. 165. 

* Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties,'' 54, 200 sqq. 


178 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

firiend of mine states that he had a very narrow escape from 
this sahib at the Nauchandi fair at Meerut, where Govern- 
ment allows him to walk about for one day and make as 
many suitable victims as he can by means of his stick. The 
S&hib had just put his hand in his pocket and taken out the 
sticky which was dry and shrivelled and about a span long, 
when the servant with great presence of mind held out his 
hands and said, * Bos ! Bas ! ' * Enough ! enough ! ' Thus 
intimidated, the Sahib went away into the crowd. In con- 
nection with MomiHt, a lady here narrowly escaped a very 
uncanny reputation. Some of her servants gave out that she 
possessed a Momi&i stick, for which she had paid a hundred 
rupees. On hearing this an inquiry was made which brought 
out that the lady had missed a pod of vanilla about seven 
inches long, of a very special quality, that she kept rolled up 
in a piece of paper among some of her trinkets. The ayah 
who mislaid it was scolded for her carelessness, and told that 
it was worth more than she thought. She promptly put two 
and two together. The shrivelled appearance which is sup- 
posed to be peculiar to mysterious sticks, such as snake 
charmers produce, the fuss made about it, and the value 
attached to it convinced her that her mistress owned a 
Momiai stick."* 

These mystic sticks appear constantly in folk-lore. We 
have the caduceus of Hermes, the rod of Moses, the staff of 
Elisha, the wand of Circe, or of Gwydion or Skirni. In one 
of Somadeva's tales the Kapilika ascetic has a magic stick 
which dances. In one of the Kashmir tales the magic wand 
placed under the feet of the prince makes him insensible, 
when laid under his head he revives. Many people in 
England still believe in the divining rod which points out 
concealed springs underground.* 

Every native boy, particularly those who are black and 
fet, believes himself a possible victim to the wiles of the 
dreaded MomiHl SUhib, who frequents hill stations because 

* ** North Indian Notes and Queries/' i. 19a 

« Miss Cox, " Cinderella," 485 ; Knowles, " Kashmir Tales," 199 ; 
Clouston, " Popular Tales," i. 88 ; Rhys, " Lectures/' 241 ; Tawney, 
" Katha Sarit Sigara," ii. 612. 


he is thus enabled to carry on his villainous practices with 
comparative impunity and less danger of detection. Even 
to whisper the word Momiil is enough to make the crowd of 
urchins who dog the steps of a district officer when he is on 
his rounds through a town, disperse in dismay. Surgeons 
are naturally exposed to the suspicion of being engaged in 
this awful business, and some years ago most of the coolies 
deserted one of the hill stations, because an enthusiastic 
anatomist set up a private dissecting-room of his own. 
Freemasons, who are looked on by the general native public 
as a kind of sorcerers or magicians, are also not free from 
this suspicion. That such ideas should prevail among the 
rural population of India is not to be wondered at, when in 
our own modern England it is very commonly believed that 
luminous paint is made out of human fat.^ 

The Danapurwala Sahib. 

Another of these dreaded Sihibs is the DdnapurwAla 
Sdhib, or gentleman from Dinapur. Why this personage 
should be connected with Dinapur, a respectable British 
cantonment, no one can make out. At any rate, it is 
generally believed that he has a contract from Government 
for procuring heads for some of the museums, and he too 
has a magic stick with which he entices unfortunate 
trrvellers on dark nights and chops off their heads with a 
pa* of shears. The influence of these magic wands by 
smelling may perhaps be associated with the fact that the 
nose is a spirit entry, as we have seen in the case of sneezing. 

Fetish Stones. 

To return after this digression to fetish stones* Of 
this phase of belief we have well-known instances in the 
coronation stone in Westminster Abbey, which is associated 

\ " Folk-lore Record/* iii. Part II. 283. For the commonplace Momiit 
which is used as an application by women before parturition, see Watt's 
"Dictionary of Economic Products," ii. 115. 

N 2 

i8o Folk-lore of Northern India, 

with the dream of Jacob, and the Hajuru'l Aswad of Mecca, 
which Sir R. Burton believed to be an aerolite. No one 
will bring a stone from the Sacred Hill at Govardhan near 
Mathura, because it is supposed to be endowed with life. 
The Y4davas, who are connected with the same part of the 
country, had a stone fetish, described in the Vishnu Purina, 
which brought rain and plenty. There are numerous legends 
connected with many of these fetish stones, such as that in 
the temple of Daksha at Kankhal and Gorakhn&tha in 
Kheri,* which are said to owe the fissures in them to the 
blow of the battle-axe or sword of one of the iconoclast 
Muhammadan Emperors. Of Gorakhn&tha it is said that 
Aurangzeb attempted to drag up the great Lingam, and 
failed to do so even with the aid of elephants. When he 
came to investigate the cause of his failure, tongues of flame 
burst from the bottom of the pillar. 

The stalactites in the Behir Hills are regarded as the 
images of the gods.' The pestle and mortar in which a 
noted Darvesh of Oudh used to grind his drugs are now 
worshipped, and a leading family in the Lucknow District 
keep before their family residence a large square stone which 
they reverence. They say that their ancestors brought it 
from Delhi, and that it is the symbol of their title to the 
estates, which were granted to them by one of the Emperors. 
He enjoined them to take it as the foundation of their 
settlement, and since that time each new Rija on his acces- 
sion presents flowers, sweetmeats, and money to it.' 

A great rock in the river above Badarindth, the famous 
shrine in the Hills, is worshipped as Brahm Kap41 or the 
skull of Brahma, and Nandi Devt, the mountain goddess of 
the Himalaya, is worshipped in the form of two great stones 
glittering with mica, and reflecting the rays of the sun.* At 
Amosi in the Lucknow District they worship at marriages 
and birth of boys the door-post of the house of an old 
R&jput leader, named BinHik, who is honoured with the 

* Fuhrer, ** Monumental Antiquities," 284. 
^ Buchanan, " Eastern India/ i. 526. 

' " Oudh Gazetteer," i. 303 ; ii. 415. 

* Atkinson, " Himilayan Gazetteer,'* ii. 311, note, 792 sq. 


title of Biba or " father." ' At Deodhiira in the Hills the 
grey granite boulders near the crest of the ridge are said to 
have been thrown there in sport by the P4ndavas. Close 
to the temple of Devi at the same place are two large 
boulders, the uppermost of which is called Ransila, or " the 
stone of battle," and is cleft through the centre by a deep, 
fresh-looking fissure, at right angles to which is a similar 
rift in the lower rock. A small boulder on the top is said 
to have been the weapon with which Bhimsen produced 
these fissures, and the print of his five fingers is still to be 
seen upon it. Ransila itself is marked with the lines for 
playing the gambling game of Pachfsi, which, though it led 
to their misfortunes, the P&ndavas even in their exile could 
not abandon. There are many places where the marks of 
the hoofs of the horse of Bhimsen are shown.' ** One spot 
on the margin of Lake Regillus was regarded during many 
ages with superstitious awe. A mark, resembling in shape a 
horse's hoof, was discernible in the volcanic rock ; and this 
mark was believed to have been made by one of the celestial 
chargers." ' 

Fetishes among the Santals. 

The SantHls, like all uncivilized races, have a whole army 
of fetishes. A round piece of wood, nearly a foot in length, 
the top of which is painted red, is called Banhl, or ** the 
protector of the jungle." Another stands for Laghfi, the 
goddess of the earth, who is sometimes represented by a 
mountain. An oblong piece of wood, painted red, stands 
for Mahdmil, " the great Mother," Devi's daughter ; a small 
piece of white stone daubed with red is BurhiyS. Mil, or 
** the old Mother," her granddaughter ; an arrow-head 
stands for D6dh4 M4t, "the milk Mother," the daughter 
of Burhiya ; a trident painted red represents the monkey 
god HanumAn, who executes all the orders of Devt. " Sets 
of these symbols are placed, one on the east and one on the 

1 "Oudh Gazetteer," i. 6i. ^ "Himalayan Gazetteer," ii. 282. 

' Macaulay, ** Battle of Lake Regillus," Introduction. 

i82 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

west of their huts to protect them from evil spirits, snakes, 
tigers, and all sorts of misfortune." ^ 

Very similar to this is the worship of Birn4th, the fetish 
of the Mirzapur Ahirs. His platform, which is made of clay, 
usually contains one, three, or five rude wooden images, 
each about three feet high, with a rough representation of 
a human face sculptured on the top. He was, it is said, 
an Ahir who was killed by a tiger, and he is now worshipped 
by them in times of trouble. His special function is to 
protect the cattle from beasts of prey. The worshipper 
bathes, plasters his platform with fresh clay, and laying his 
offering on it, says : " BlrnHth ! Keep our cattle safe and 
you will get more." The same form of worship prevails 
all along the Central Indian Hills. " In the south of the 
BhandHra District the traveller frequently meets with 
squared pieces of wood, each with a rude figure carved in 
front, set up close to each other. These represent Ban- 
gardm, Bangard B4i, or Devt, who is said to have one sister 
and five brothers, the sister being styled Kill, and four out 
of the five brothers being known as Gantarim, Champarim, 
Niikarim, and Potlinga. They are all deemed to possess 
the power of sending disease and death upon men, and under 
these or other names seem to be generally feared in the 
region east of Nigpur, Bhimsen, again, is generally adored 
under the form of one or two pieces of wood standing three 
or four feet in length above the ground, like those set up 
in connection with Bangardm's worship." " 

Fetish Stones which Cure Disease. 

Many of these stones have the power of curing disease, 
and the water with which they have been bathed is con- 
sidered a useful medicine. This is the case with a number 
of sacred Mahideva Lingams all over the country. A 
common proverb speaks of the old woman who is ready 
enough to eat the Prasad or offering to the god, but hesitates 

* Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology/* 220. 
- " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 2, 


to drink the water in which his feet have been washed. In 
Western India no orthodox Br4hman will eat his food till he 
has thrice sipped the water in which his Silagr&ma stone 
has been washed.^ We have already noticed the fetish bowl» 
the washings of which are administered by midwives to 
secure easy parturition. So, in Western lands the stones 
fetched by Merlin had the power of healing if washed in 
water and the patient bathed in it.' Stone celts are, in 
Cornwall, supposed to impart a healing effect to water in 
which they have been soaked.' In Java a decoction of the 
lichen which grows on fetish stones is used as a remedy for 
disease.* In the Isle of Lewis cattle disease is attributed to 
the bites of serpents, and the suffering animals are made to 
drink water into which charm stones are put ; in the High- 
lands large crystals of a somewhat oval shape were kept by 
the priests to work charms with, and water poured thereon 
was given to cattle as a preventative of disease.* 

Fetish Stones the Abode of Spirits. 

The virtue of all these fetish stones rests in their embody- 
ing the spirits of gods or deified men. As we have shown, 
this is a common principle of popular belief. In one of 
Miss Stokes's Indian tales, " The man who went to seek his 
fate," the fate is found in stones, some standing up and some 
lying down. The man beats the stone which embodies his 
fate because he is miserably poor. Mr. H. Spencer thinks 
that the idea of persons being turned into stones may have 
arisen from instances of actual petrifaction of trees and the 
like ; but this is not very probable, and it is much simpler 
to believe with Dr. Tylor that it depends on the principles 
of animism.* 

^ Campbell, " Notes,*' 30. - Rhys, " Lectures," 193. 

* Hunt, " Popular Romances," 427. 

^ Forbes, " Wanderings of a Naturalist," 103. 

* Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 165 ; Brand, 
*' Observations," 621. 

« " Principles of Sociology," i. 109 sq., 310; Tylor, "Primitive Cul- 
ture," i. 353. 

i84 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Family Fetishes. 

Some fetishes, like the Bombay Devaks, are special to 
particular families. Such is the case with the ThUrus, a 
non-Aryan tribe in the sub-Himilayan Tarii. Each member 
of the tribe constructs a hollow mound in front of his door, 
and thereon erects a stake of Paldsa wood {Butea frondosa), 
which is regarded as the family fetish and periodically 

Tool Fetishes. 

Next comes the worship of the tool fetish, which, accord- 
ing to Sir A. Lyall, is " the earliest phase or type of the 
tendency which later on leads those of one guild or walk in 
life to support and cultivate one god, who is elected in lieu 
of the individual trade fetishes melted down to preside over 
their craft or trade interests." ^ 

A good example of this is the pickaxe fetish of the Thags. 

When K41t refused to help them in the burial of their 
victims she ^ave them one of her teeth for a pickaxe, and 
the hem of her lower garment for a noose. Hence the 
pickaxe was venerated by the Thags. Its fabrication was 
'superintended with the utmost care, and it was consecrated 
with many ceremonies. A lucky day was selected, and a 
smith was appointed to forge it with the most profound 
secrecy. The door was closed against all intruders; the 
leader never left the forge while the manufacture was going 
on ; and the smith was allowed to do no other work until 
this was completed. Next came the consecration. This 
was done on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday, and 
care was taken that the shadow of no living thing fell upon 
the axe. The consecrator sat with his face to the west, and 
received the implement in a brass dish. It was then washed 
in water which was allowed to fall into a pit made for the 
purpose. Then further ablutions followed, the first in sugar 
and water, the second in sour milk, and the third in spirits. 
The axe was then marked from the head to the point with 

* "Asiatic Studies/' 16. 


sev^n spots of red lead, and replaced on the brass dish with 
a cocoanut, some cloves, white sandalwood, and other 

A fire was next made of cowdung and the wood of 
the Mango and Ber tree. All the articles deposited on the 
brass plate, with the exception of the cocoanut, were thrown 
into the fire, and when the flame rose the Thag priest passed the 
pickaxe with both hands seven times through the fire. The 
cocoanut was then stripped of its husk and placed on the 
ground. The officiant, holding the axe by the point, asked : 
" Shall I strike ? " The bystanders assented, and he then 
broke the cocoanut with the blunt end of the weapon, 
exclaiming, " All hail, Devi ! Great Mother of us all I " The 
spectators responded, " All hail, Devt, and prosper the 
Thags." If the cocoanut was not broken at one blow, all the 
labour was lost ; the goddess was considered unpropitious, 
and the entire ceremony had to be repeated. The broken 
shell and kernel of the cocoanut were then thrown into the 
fire, the pickaxe wrapt in white cloth was placed on the 
ground towards the west, and all present prostrated them- 
selves before it.* 

Here we have another example of magic in its sympathetic 
form, the use of sundry spirit scarers, which have been 
already discussed, and the cocoanut representing an actual 
human victim. 

Weapons and Implement Fetishes. 

In the same way soldiers and warlike tribes worship their 
weapons. Thus, the sword was worshipped by the Rijputs, 
and when a man of lower caste married a RAjput girl, she 
was married, as in the case of Holkar, to his sword with his 
kerchief bound round it* This sword-worship is specially 
performed, as by the Baiswars of Mirzapur and the Gautam 
sept of Rijputs. The Nepilese worship their weapons and 
regimental colours at the Dasahra festival. At the Diw&lt, 

1 •* Illustrations of the History and Practice of the Thags," 46 sqq. 
* Tod, *• Annals," i. 615 ; " Panj^b Notes and Queries," iii. 221. 

i86 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

or feast of lamps, on the first day they worship dogs ; on 
the second day cows and bulls ; on the third day capitalists 
worship their treasure under the name of Lakshmt, the 
goddess of wealth; on the fourth day every householder 
worships as deities the members of his family, and on the 
fifth day sisters worship their brothers.* 

The same customs prevail among the artisan castes 
in Northern India. The hair-scraper of the tanner is 
worshipped by curriers, and the potter's wheel, regarded as 
a type of productiveness, is reverenced at marriages by many 
of the lower castes. Even the clay which has been mixed 
by the potter has mystic powers. When a person has 
been bitten by a mad dog, a lump of this clay is brought, 
and the wound is touched with it while a spell is recited." 
Carpenters worship their yard measure ; Chamdrs swear by 
the shoemaker's last, and the children of the Darzi or tailor 
are made to worship the scissors. 

In Bengal, the Alakhiya sect of Saiva ascetics profess 
profound respect for their alms-bag ; the carpenters worship 
their adze, chisel, and saw; the barbers their razors, scissors, 
and mirror. At the Sripanchamt, or fifth day of the month 
of Mdgh, the writer class worship their books, pens, and 
inkstand. The writing implements are cleaned, and the 
books, wrapped in white cloth, are strewn over with flowers 
and the leaves of young barley.* 

The same customs prevail in Bombay. A mill is the 
Devak or guardian of oil-makers ; dancing girls worship a 
musical instrument; jewellers worship their pincers and 
blowpipe ; curriers worship an axe, and market gardeners a 
pair of scales.* 

In the Panj&b, farmers worship their oxen in August, 
their plough at the Dasahra festival, and they have a cere- 
mony at the end of October to drive away ticks from their 
cattle ; shepherds worship their sheep at the fiiU moon of 

1 Oldfield, " Sketches," 344, 352. 
^ " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 54. 

» Wilson, "Essays,'' ii. 188; Risley, "Tribes and Castes," i. 16,67, 
93. 451- 
* Campbell, " Notes," 9. 


July ; bankers and clerks worship their books at the Diw&lt 
festival ; grain-sellers worship their weights at the Dasahra, 
Diw&lfy and Holi, and, in a way, eveiy morning as well 
Oilmen worship their presses at odd times ; artisans salute 
their tools daily when they bathe ; and generally the means 
of livelihood, whatever they may be, are worshipped with 
honour at the Diw&li, Dasahra, and Holi.' So the Pokharna 
Br&bmans, who are said to have been the navvies who 
originally excavated the lake at Pushkar, worship in 
memory of this the Kud&la, or mattock.' 

All these customs are as old as the time of the Chaldeans, 
" who sacrifice unto their net and burn incense unto their 
drag, because by them their portion is fat and their meat 
plenteous." * 

Among these implement fetishes the corn-sieve and the 
plough, the basket, the broom, and the rice-pounder are of 
special importance. 

The Corn-sieve. 

The corn-sieve or winnowing basket, the Mystica vannus 
lacchi of Virgil, has always enjoyed a reputation as an 
emblem of increase and prosperity, and as possessing 
magical powers. The witch in Macbeth says : — 

*' Her husband's to Aleopo gone, Master of the Tiger; 
But in a sieve Til thither sail" 

It was used in Scotland to foretell the future at AUhallow 
Eve. Divination was performed with a pair of shears and a 
sieve. Aubrey describes how "the shears are stuck in a 
sieve, and the maidens hold up the sieve with the top of 
their fingers by the handle of the shears, then say, * By 
St. Peter and St. Paul, he hath not stolen it.' After many 
adjurations the sieve will turn at the name of the thief." * 

In India the sieve is the first cradle of the baby, and in 

* " Panjib Notes and Queries," ii. 20 sq., 93. 
2 Tod, "Annals,'' ii. 320. 

' Habakkuk i. 16; Isaiah xxi. 5. 

* Dyer, ** Popular Customs," 400 ; Brand, " Observations," 209, 773 ; 
Aubrey, •* Remaines," 25. 

i88 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Bombay the winnowing fan in which a newly-born child is 
laid is used on the fifth day for the worship of Satv&i. This 
makes it impure, and it is henceforward used only for the 
house sweepings. In Northern India, when a mother has 
lost a child, she puts the next in a sieve and drags it about, 
calling it Kadheran or Ghasttan, *' the dragged one," so as 
to baffle the Evil Eye by a pretence of contempt. 

All through Upper India, at low-caste marriages, the 
bride's brother accompanies the pair as they revolve in the 
marriage shed, and sprinkles parched grain over them out 
of a sieve as a charm for good luck and a means of scaring 
the demon which causes barrenness. So Irish brides in old 
times used to be followed by two attendants bearing high 
over the heads of the couple a sieve filled with meal, a sign 
of the plenty that would be in the house, and an omen of 
good luck and the blessing of children.* We have already 
seen that this rite survives in the custom of flinging rice 
over the newly-married pair as they leave for the honey- 

This habit of scaring the spirits of evil by means of the 
sieve appears in a special usage at the Diwdli festival. Very 
early in the morning the house-mother takes a sieve and a 
broom, and beats them in every corner of the house, ex- 
claiming, " God abide, and poverty depart ! " The fan is 
then carried outside the village, generally to the east or 
north, and being thrown away, is supposed, like the scape- 
goat, to bear away with it the poverty and distress of the 
household. The same custom prevails in Germany. The 
Posterli is imagined to be a spectre in the shape of an old 
woman. In the evening the young fellows of the village 
assemble, and with loud shouts and clashing of tins, ring- 
ing of cow-bells and goat-bells, and cracking of whips, 
tramp over hill and dale to another village, where the young 
men receive them with like uproar. One of the party re- 
presents the Posterli, or they draw it in a sledge in the 
shape of a puppet, and leave it standing in a corner of the 

1 Udy Wilde, "Legends/' 1 16. 


other village. In the same way the Eskimo drive the demon 
Tuna out of their houses.' 

Among the Kols, when a vacancy occurs in the office of 
the village priest, the winnowing fan with some rice is used» 
and by its magical power it drags the person who holds it 
towards the individual on whom the sacred mantle has 
fallen. The same custom prevails among the OrAons.' 

The Greeks had a special name, Koskinomantis, for the 
man who divined in this way with the sieve, and the practice 
is mentioned by Theocritus.' The sieve is very commonly 
used in India as a rude form of the planchette. Through 
the wicker-work of the raised side or back a strong 
T-shaped twig is fixed, one end of which rests on the 
finger. A question is asked, and according as the sieve 
turns to the right or left, the answer is " Yes " or " No." 
This is exactly what is known as " Caufif-riddling " in 
Yorkshire and Scotland.* In the eastern districts of the 
North- Western Provinces, when the Ojha or "cunning 
man " is called in to cure disease, or possession by evil 
spirits, he puts some sesamum into a sieve, shakes it about, 
and then proceeds to identify the ghost concerned by count- 
ing the number of grains which remain stuck between the 
reeds. At a Santal cremation, a man takes his seat near 
the ashes, and tosses rice on them with a winnowing fan 
till a frenzy appears to seize him, and he becomes inspired 
and says wonderful things.* 

It is one of the curiosities of comparative folk-lore that 
this instrument should be credited with magical powers all 
over two continents.* 

The winnowing basket, again, perhaps from its associa- 

^ Grimm, " Teutonic Mythology," 934 ; Frazer, ** Golden Bough," ii. 
2 Dalton, *' Descriptive Ethnology," 187, note, 247. 
> " Idylls,'' iii. 31. 

* Henderson, *' Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 52; Gregor, 
" Folk-lore of North-East Scotland,'' 43, 92. 

* Dalton, he. at, 218. 

« "Academy," 23rd July, 1887; "Gentleman's Magazine," July, 1887 ; 
Henderson, ioc, «/., 233; Brand, "Observations," 233; Lady Wilde, 
" Legends," 207. 

igo Folk-lore of Northern India, 

^. tion, like the winnowing fan, with the sacxed grain, has 

? mystic powers. In Scotland it was used in the rite of 

creeling as a means of scaring barrenness. " The young 

^ wedded pair, with their friends, assemble in a convenient 

. spot. A small creel or basket is prepared for the occasion, 

into which they put some stones; the young men carry it 

alternately, and allow themselves to be caught by the 

maidens, who have a kiss when they succeed. After a great 

/ deal of innocent mirth and pleasantry, the creel falls at 

length to the young husband's share, who is obliged 

generally to carry it for a long time, none of the young 

^ women having compassion upon him. At length his fair 

■ mate kindly relieves him from his burden ; and her com- 

. plaisance, in this particular, is considered as a proof of her 

satisfaction at the choice she has made.* " 

In Bengal, at the full moon immediately following the 
DurgA P6j&, the festival of Lakshmt, the goddess of wealth, 
is held. In every Hindu house a basket, which serves as 
the representative of prosperity, is set up and worshipped. 
This basket, or corn measure, is filled with paddy, encircled 
with a garland of flowers, and covered with a piece of cloth. 
They sit up all night and watch for Lakshmi to arrive, and 
any negligence in watching is believed to bring misfortune 
on the family.^ 

The Broom. 

The same idea applies to the broom used in sweeping the 
house or collecting the grain on the threshing-floor. We 
have already seen the use of it to drive out poverty. 
" Pythagoras warned his followers against stepping over a 
broom. In some parts of Bavaria, housemaids in sweeping 
out the house are careful not to step over the broom for 
fear of the witches. Again, it is a Bavarian rule not to step 
< over a broom while a confinement is taking place in a 
house ; otherwise the birth will be tedious, and the child 
will always remain small with a large head. But if anyone 

1 Brand, " Observations," 354. * " Calcutta Review," xviii. 60. 


has stepped over a broom inadvertently, he can undo the 
spell by stepping backwards over it again." * So, in Bombay, 
they say you should never step over a broom, or you will 
cause a woman to suffer severely in childbed. 

In Bombay, some old Hindu woman, to cure a child 
affected by the Evil Eye, waves salt and water round its 
face and strikes the ground with a broom three times ; and 
among the Bani IsrAlls of Bombay, when the midwife drives 
off the blast of the Evil Eye, she holds in her left hand a. 
shoe, a winnowing fan, and a broom.' In Italy, the broom 
is an old Latin charm against sorcery. The Beriyas, a 
gypsy tribe of the Ganges-Jumna Du&b, drive off the disease 
demon with a broom. In Oudh, it is said, when a broom- 
stick has been done with, it should always be laid down, and 
not left standing. Mahli-Brihmans, who gain by officiating 
at funeral ceremonies, are alleged to violate this rule in order 
to cause deaths.' 

The Rice-pounder. 

The rice-pounder, too, has magical powers. We have 
seen that it is one of the articles waved round the heads of 
the bride and bridegroom to scare evil spirits. In Bengal, 
it is worshipped when the child is first fed with grain. And 
there is a regular worship of it in the month of Baisikh, or 
May. The top is smeared with red lead, anointed with oil, 
and offerings of rice and holy Dfirva grass made to it. The 
worship has even been provided with a Brahmanical legend.. 
A Guru once ordered his disciple to pronounce the word 
Dhenk at least one hundred and eight times a day. Nirada 
Muni was so pleased with his devotion, as he is the patron 
deity of the rice-pounder, that he paid him a visit riding on 
one, and carried off his votary to heaven.* 

1 "Folk-lore," i. 157; ii. 293. « Campbell, ** Notes," 53. 

^ " Panj^b Notes and Queries/' iii. 202 ; Leland, " Etruscan Roman. 
Remains," 79. 
* " Calcutta Review," xviii. 51. 

192 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

The Plough. 

Next comes the plough as a fetish. The carrying about 
of the plough and the prohibition common in Europe against 
moving it on Shrove Tuesday and other holidays have, like 
many other images of the same class, been connected with 
Phallicism.^ But, considering the respect which an agri- 
cultural people would naturally pay to the chief implement 
used in husbandry, it is simpler to class it with the other 
tool fetishes of a similar kind. In India, as in Europe on 
Plough Monday,* there is a regular worship of the plough at 
the end of the sowing season, when the beam is coloured 
with turmeric, adorned with garlands, and brought home 
from the field in triumph. After that day it is considered 
unlucky to use it or lend it. The beam is put up in the 
village cattle track when rinderpest is about, as a charm to 
drive away the disease. Among some castes the polished 
share is fixed up. in the marriage shed during the ceremony. 
Among the Ordons, the bride and bridegroom are mad« to 
stand on a curry stone, under which is placed a sheaf of corn 
resting on the plough yoke, and among the same people 
their god Darha is represented by a plough-share set upon 
an altar dedicated to him.^ Here we have the mystic 
influence of grain and iron combined with the agricultural 
implement fetish. 


Fire is undoubtedly a very ancient Hindu protective 
fetish, and its virtue as a scarer of demons is very generally 
recognized. One of the earliest legends of the Hindu race 
is that recorded in the Rig Veda, where Agni, the god of 
fire, conceal^ Jii.Qiself in heaven, was brought down to 
earth by M^atarisvan, and made over to the princely tribe of 
Bhrigu, in which we have the Oriental version of the myth 
of Prometheus. In the Vedas, Agni ranks next to the Rain 
god, and takes precedence of every other god in connection 

* Cox, " Mythology of the Aryan Nations," ii. 119, note. 
2 Chambers, " Book of Days," i. 94 sq, 

• Dalton, loc. cit^ 252, 258. 


//. 193. 


with sacrificial rites. Even the Son godling is regarded as 
a form of the heavenly fire. One of the titles of Agni is 
Pramantha, because on each occason when he was required 
he was summoned by the firiction of the Arant^ or sacred fi^- 
drill. This word Pramantha is probably the equivalent of 
the Prometheus of the Greeks. 

Origin of Fire-worship. 

According to Dr. Tylor, " the real and absolute worship 
of fire falls into two great divisions, the first belonging to 
fetishism, the second to polytheism proper, and the two 
apparently representing an earlier and later stagp of 
theological ideas. The first is the rude, barbarous adora- 
tion of the actual flame which he watches writhing, devour- 
ing, roaring like a wild animal ; the second belongs to an 
advanced generalization that any individual fire is a 
manifestation of one general elemental being, the fire god." ' 
In a tropical country it would naturally be associated with 
the worship of the sun, and with that of the sainted dead 
as the medium by which the spirit wings its way to the other 
world. Among many races fire is provided for the ghost 
after interment, to enable it to warm itself and cook its food. 
As Mr. Spencer points out, the grave fire would tend to 
develop into kindred religious rites.* *^ 

The Sacred Fire. 

But it is almost certainly erroneous to class the sacred 
fire as an institution peculiar to the so-called Aryan races. 
The Homa is, of course, one of the most important elements 
of the modern Hindu ritual ; but at the same time it pre- 
vails extensively as a means of propitiating the local or 
village godlings among many of the Drividian races, who are 
quite as likely to have discovered for themselves the mystical 
art of fire production by mechanical means, as to have 

1 "Primitive Culture," ii. 277. 

2 " Principles of Sociology," i. 158, 273. 


194 Folk-lore of Northebu* India. 

adopted it by a process of conscious or unconscious imitation 
from the usages of their Hinda neighbours. 

The production of fire by means of friction is a discovery 
which would naturally occnr to jungle races, who must 
have constantly seen it occur by the ignition of the bamboo 
stalks rubbed together by the blasts of summer. From this 
would easily be developed the very primitive fire-drill or 
Asgara, used to this day by the Cheros, Korwas, Bhiliyas 
and other DrAvidian dwelliers in the jungle. These people 
even to the present day habitually produce fire in this way. 
A small round cavity is made in a dry piece of bamboo, in 
which two men alternately with their open hands revolve 
a second pointed piece of the wood of the same tree. 
-Smoke and finally fire are rapidly produced in this way, 
and the sparks are received on a dry leaf or other suitable 
tinder. The use of the flint and steel is also common, and 
was possibly an early and independent invention of the 
same people. Even to the present day in some of their 
more secret worship of the village godlings of disease, fire 
is produced for the fire sacrifice by this primitive method. 

The Fire-drill. 

What has been called the Aryan fire-drill, the Arani, 
which in one sense means " foreign " or "strange," and in 
another ** moving" or "entering," "being inserted," is not 
apparently nowadays used in the ordinary ritual for the 
production of fire for the Homa or fire sacrifice. The rites* 
connected with the sacred fire have been given in detail in 
another place.^ In Northern India, at least, the production 
of the sacred fire has become the speciality of one branch of 
the Br^hmans, the Gujardti, who are employed to conduct 
certain special services occasionally conducted at large cost 
by wealthy devotees, and known as Jag or Yaksha, in the 
sense of some particular religious rite. 

The Arani in its modern form consists of five pieces. 
The Adhararanl is the lower bed of the instrument, and is 

» " Tribes and Castes of the N.-W.P. and Oudh," s.v. " Agnihotri." 


usually made of the hard wood of the Khadira or Khair — 
Acacia catechu. In this are bored two shallow holes, one, 
the Carta, a smdl shallow round cavity, in which the 
plunger or revolving drill works and produces fire by friction. 
Close to this is a shallow oblong cavity, known as the Yont 
or matrix, in which combustible tinder, generally the husk 
of the cocoanut, is placed, and in which the sparks and 
heated ashes are received and ignited. The upper or 
revolving portion of the drill is known as Uttararanl or 
Pramantha. This consists of two parts, the upper portion 
a piece of hard, round wood which one priest revolves with 
a rope or cord known as Netra. This part of the implement 
is known as Mantha or " the churner." It has a socket at 
the base in which the Sanku, a spike or dart, is fixed. 
This Sanku is made of a softer wood, generally that of the 
Ptpal, or sacred fig tree, than the Adhararant or base ; and 
each Aran! is provided with several spare pieces of fig wood 
for the purpose of replacing the Sanku, as it becomes 
gradually charred away by frictio^. The last piece is the 
Upamantha or upper churner, which is a flat board with a 
socket. This is pressed down by one priest, so as to force 
the Sanku deep and hard into the Carta or lower cavity, 
and to increase the resistance. 

The working of the implement thus requires the labour 
of two priests, one of whom presses down the plunger, and 
the other who revolves the drill rapidly by means of the 
rope. It is not easy to obtain specimens of the implement, 
which is regarded as possessing mystical properties, and the 
production of the sacred fire is always conducted in secret.. . 

We have in one of the African folk-tales aTeference to 
the production of the fire by friction, in which the hyaena 
gets his ear burnt.i In one of the tales of Somadeva we 
read, ** Then the Brdhman blessed the king and said to him, 
' I am a Brahman named Niga Sarman, and bear the fruit, 
I hope, from my sacrifice. When the god of fire is pleased 
with this Vilva sacrifice, then Vilva firuits of gold will come 
out of the fire cavity. Then the god of fire will appear in 
^ Grimm, " Household Tales,*' ii. 547. 
O 2 

jg6 Folk-lore of Northern Ikdia, 

bodily foritiy and grant me a boon, and so I have spent 
much time in offering Vilva fruits/ Then the seven^rarod^. 
god appeared from the sacrificial cavity, bringing the king 
a golden Vilva fruit of his tree of valour." * 

N The Agnikunda, the hole or enclosed space for the sacred 

fire, out of which, according to the popular legend, various 

^ Rajput tribes were produced, is thus probably derived from 
the Carta or pit out of which the sparks fly in the fire- 

The Agnihotri Br&hman has to take particular care to 
preserve the germ of the sacred fire, as did the Roman 
vestal virgins. It is in charge of the special guardians at 
some shrines, such as those of Sambhundth and Kharg 
Jogini at NepAl.' 

The Muhammadan Sacred Fire. 

But it is not only in the Hindu ritual that the sacred fire 
holds a prominent place. Thus, in ancient Ireland, the 
sacred fire was obtained by the friction of wood and the 
striking of stones, and it was supposed " that the spirits of 
fire dwelt in these objects, and when the priests invoked 
them to appear, they brought good luck to the household 
for the coming year, but if invoked by other hands on that 
special day, their influence was malific." ' 

So, among the Muhammadans in the time of Akbar, " at 
) noon^of the day when the sun enters the 19th degree of 
Aries, the whole world being surrounded by the light, they 
expose a round piece of a white shining stone, called in 
Hindi Sftrajkrant.* A piece of cotton is then held near it, 
which catches fire from the heat of the stone. The celestial 
fire is committed to the care of proper persons." * Perhaps 

1 Tawney, " Katha Sarit S&gara/' i. 322. 

« Oldfield, " Sketches/' ii. 242 ; Wright, " History," 35 ; and compare 
Prescott, " Peru," i. chap. 3 ; Lubbock, "Origin of Civilization," 312. 
» Lady Wilde, ''Legends," 126. 

* Abul Fazl appears to have confused Suraj Sankrinti or the entrance 
of the sun into a constellation with SClrya-K^ta or ** sun-beloved,'' the 
sun-crystal or lens, which gives out heat when exposed to the rays of the 

* Blochmann, ^ Ain-i- Akbari," i. 48. 


the best example of the Mnhammadan sacred fire is that 
at the Im&mbdra at Gorakhpur. There it was first started 
by a renowned Shiah Faqtr, named Roshan 'Ali, and has 
been maintained unquenched for more than a hundred 
years, a special body of attendants and supplies of wood 
being provided for it. There seems little reason to believe 
that the fire is a regular Muhammadan institution ; it has 
probably arisen firom an imitation of the customs of the 
Hindu Jogis. 

It is respected both by Hindus and Musalm&ns, and as in 
the case of the fires of the same kind, maintained by many 
noted Jogis^ its ashes have a reputation as a cure for fever. 
We shall meet with the same belief of the curative effects of 
the ashes of the sacred fire in the case of the Holi. The ashes 
of the Jogi*s fire form a part of many popular charms. In 
Italy, the holy log burnt on Christmas Eve, which corre* 
spends to the Yule log of the North of Europe, is taken with 
due observances to the Faunus, or other spirits of the forest.* 
In Ireland part of the ashes from the bonfire on the 24th of 
June is thrown into sown fields to make their produce 
abundant.* The ceremony of strewing ashes on the peni- 
tent on Ash Wednesday dates from Saxon times." A 
modem Muhammadan of the advanced school has en- 
deavoured to rationalise the curative effect of the ashes of 
the Gorakhpur fire by the suggestion that it is the potash in 
it which works the cure, but probably the element of faith 
has much to do with it.* 

Volcanic Firr ; Will-o'-the-Wisp. 

Fire of a volcanic nature is, as might be expected, 
regarded with veneration* Such is the fire which in some 
places in ELashmtr rises out of the ground.* 

The meteoric light or Sbahdba is also much respected. 
In Hoshang&b&d there is a local godling, known as Khapra 

^ Leiand, ** Etruscan Roman Rtmains," 103. 

* " Folk-lore," iv. 359. • Dyer, ^ Popular Customs," 92. 
^ *^ North Indian Notes and Queries,^ i. i^. 

* Httgel, " Travels," quoted by Jarrett, ** Afn-i-Akbari," ii. 314. 



198 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

B&ba, who lives on the edge of a tank, and is said to appear 
in the darkness with a procession of lights/ In Rohilkhand 
and the western districts of Qudh, one often hears of the 
Shah&ba. In burial-grounds, especially where the bodies 
of those slain in battle are interred, it is said that phantom 
armies appear in the night. Tents are pitched, the horses 
are tethered, and lovely girls dance before the heroes and the 
Jinn who are in their train. Sometimes some foolish mortal 
is attracted by the spectacle, and he suffers .for his fool- 
hardiness by loss of life or reason. Sometimes these ignes 
fatui mislead the traveller at night, as Robin Goodfellow 
" misleads night wanderers, laughing at their harm," or the 
Cornish piskies, who show a light and entice people into 
bogs.* There appears to be in Northern India no trace of 
the idea which so widely appears in Europe, that such lights 
are the souls of unbaptized children.' 

The Tomb Fetish. 

Ne3rt comes the respect paid to the cairn which covers 
the remains of the dead or is a mere cenotaph commemo- 
rating a death. We have already seen instances of this in 
the pile of stones which marks the place where a tiger has 
killed a man, and in the cairns in honour of the jungle 
deities, or the spirits which infest dangerous passes. The 
rationale of these sepulchral cairns is to keep down the 
ghost of the dead man and prevent it from injuring the 
living. We see the same idea in the rule of the old ritual, 
that on the departure of the last mourner, after the con- 
clusion of the funeral ceremony, the Adhvdiyu, or officiating 
priest, should place a circle of stones behind him, to prevent 
death overtaking those who have gone in advance.^ 

The primitive grave-heap grows into the cairn, and the 

» " Settlement Report," 121. 

3 "North Indian Notes and Queries," ii. 117; Hunt, ** Popular 
Romances," 81 ; Campbell, *' Popular Tales," ii. 82. 
* Conway, " Demonology," i. 225. 
« Rajendra lAla Mitra, '* Indo-Ajyans," i. 146. 



csdrn into the tomb or Sti^pa.^ In the way of a tomb 
Hindus will worship almost ansrthing. The tomb of an 
English lady is worshipped at Bhandira in the Central 
Provinces. At Murmari, in the N&gpur District, a similar 
tomb is smeared with turmeric and lime, and people offer 
cocoanuts to it in the hope of getting increased produce 
from their fields. The tomb of an English officer near the 
Fort of Bijaygarh in the Aligarh District was/,when I visited 
the place some years agO| revered as the shrine of the local 
village godling. There is a similar case at R&walpindi. 
There is a current tale of some people offering brandy and 
cigars to the tomb of a European planter who was addicted 
to these luxuries in his lifetime, but no one can tell where 
the tomb actually exists.* 

Miscellaneous Fetishes. 

We have already referred to the SilagrAma fetish. Akin 
to this is the Vishnupada, the supposed footmark of Vishnu, 
which is very like the footmark of Hercules, of which 
Herodotus speaks.' 

There is a celebrated Vishnupada temple at Gaya, where 
the footprint of Vishnu is in a large silver basin under a 
canopy, inside an octagonal shrine. Pindas or holy balls 
and various kinds of offerings are placed by the pilgrims 
inside the basin and around the footprint.* It was probably 
derived from the footmark of Buddha, which is a feivourite 
subject in the early §u3dhistic sculptures. Dr. Tylor, 
curiously enough, thinks that it may have some connection 
with the footmarks of extinct birds or animals imprinted on 
the strata of alluvis^ rocks.' 

1 Ferguson, ** Tree and Serpent Worship," 88 ; " History of Indian 
Architecture/* 60 ; Cunningham, " Bhilsa Topes," 9 ; Spencer, " Prin- 
ciples of Sociology," i. 254 sq. 

3 " Central Provinces Gazetteer," 63 ; " Panj^b Notes and Queries," 
ii. 8 ; " North Indian Notes and Queries," ii. 93. 

* iv. 82. 

* Monier-Williams, ^* Hinduism and Br^manism," 309. 

* Tennent, *• Ceylon, ii. 132 ; Ferguson, " Indian Architecture,/ 184, 
with engraving ; Tylor, " Early History," 1 16. 


Even among Muhammadans we have the same idea, and 
the Qadam-i-RasAl| or mosque of the footprint of the 
Prophet at Lucknow, used to contain a stone marked with 
his footmarks, which was said to have^Been brought by 
some pilgrim from Arabia. It disappeared during the 
Mutiny*^ There is another in a mosque at Chunftr and at 
many other places. 

The same respect is paid to the footprint of R&manand 
in his monasteiy at Benares, and the pin of Brahma's 
slipper is now fixed up in the steps of the bathing-place at 
Bith<lr, known as the residence of the infamous Nina S&hib, 
where it is worshipped at an annual feast. 

1 « Oudh Gazetteer,'' iu 370. 



Tfl» df xal KvTOfUlkw vnayt (vy6v AKtat tinrovs 

Tovs ZrtKM Zt(f>vpt» avifiM ^Apirvia UoUdpyfi 
Boo'KoiJLttnj \€ifi&vi irap^ poor 'Oicfoyotb. 

Iliads xvi. 148*5 1. 

Origin of Animal-worship, 

We now come to consider the special worship of certain 
animals. The origin of this form of belief may possibly be 
traced to many different sources. 

In the first place, no savage fixes the boundary line 
between man and the lower forms of animal life so definitely 
as more civilized races are wont to do. The animal, in 
their belief, has very much the same soul, much the same 
feelings and passion as men have, a theory exemplified in 
the way the Indian ploughman speaks to his ox, or the 
sheph^d calls his flock. 

To him, again, the belief is familiar that the spirits of his 
ancestors appear in the form of animals, as among the 
Drftvidian races they come in the shape of a tiger which 
attacks the surviving relatives, or as a chicken which leaves 
the mark of its footsteps in the ashes when it re-visits its 
former home. 

So, all these people believe that the witch soul wanders 
about at night, and for want of a better shape enters into 
some animal, takes the form of a tiger or a bear, or flies 
through the air like a bird. 

All through folk-lore we find the idea that man has kinship 

202 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

with animals generally accepted. We constantly find the 
girl wooed by the frog, marrying the pigeon, elephant, eagle, 
or whale. Every child in the nursery reads of the frog 
Prince, and no savage sees any particular incongruity in his 
marriage and transformation. In more than one of the 
Indian tales the childless wife longs for a child and is 
delivered of a snake. 

The incident of animal metamorphosis is also familiar. 
Thus, in one of Somadeva's tales his mistress turns a man 
into an ox; in another his wife transforms him into a 
buffalo ; in a third the angry hermit turns the king into an 
elephant.^ Everyone remembers the terrific scene of trans- 
formation into various animals which makes up the tale of 
the second Qalandar in the Arabian Nights. Animals, too, 
constantly assume other shapes. In one of the Bengal 
stories the mouse becomes a cat. In other Indian tales the 
golden deer becomes the mannikin demon, the white hind 
becomes the white witch, the hero's mother becomes a black 
bitch, the hero himself a parrot, and so on.^ In fact a large 
part of the incidents of Indian stories turns on various forms 
of metamorphosis, and every English child knows how the 
lover of Earl Mar's daughter took the shape of a dove. 

We have again the veiy common incident in the folk-tales 
of animals understanding the speech of human beings, and 
men learning the tongue of birds, and the like. Solomon, 
according to the Qur&n, knew the language of animals; in 
the tales of Somadeva, the Vaisya Bh&sh&jna knows the 
language of all beasts and birds, a faculty which in Germany 
is gained by eating a white snake.^ 

Then there is the large cycle of tales in which the grateful 
animal warns the hero or heroine of approaching danger, as 
in the story of Bopuluchi, or brings news, or produces gold. 

^ Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 342 ; ii. 135, 230, 302, 363 ; 
"North Indian Notes and Queries," Hi. 13; Clouston, "Popular Tales," 

2 Ul BiMri D6, "Folk-tales," 139. 

» Tawney, 16c, city i. 499 ; ii. 276 ; Grimm, " Household Tales,*' No 
33 ; !• 357; Knowles, " Folk-tales of Kashmir/' 432 ; Campbell, ** SantA. 
Folk-tales," 22; Miss Cox, ••Cinderella," 496; Campbell, " Popular 
Tales,'* i. 283. 

Animal Worship. 203 

The idea of grateful animals assisting their benefaictors runs 
through the whole range of folk-lore.^ 

Another series of cognate ideas has been very carefully 
analyzed by Mr. Campbell. The spirits of the dead haunt 
two placesy the house and the tomb. Those who haunt the 
house are friendly ; those who haunt the tomb are unfriendly. 
Two classes of animals correspond to these two classes of 
spirits — an at-home, fearless class, as the snake, the rat, 
flies and ants and bees, into which the home-haunting or 
friendly spirits would go ; and a wild, unsociable class, such 
as bats and owls, dogs, jackals,'or vultures, into which the 
unfriendly or tomb-haunting spirits would go. In the case 
of some of these tomb-haunting animals, the dog, jackal, 
and vulture, the feeling towards them as tomb-haunters seems 
to have given place to the belief that as the spirit lives in 
the tomb where the body is laid, so, if the body be eaten by 
an animal, the spirit lives in the animal, as in a living 

Other animals, again, are invested with particular qualities, 
fierceness and courage, strength or agility, and eating part 
of their flesh, or wearing a portion as an amulet, conveys to 
the possessor the qualities of the animal. A familiar in- 
stance of this is the belief in the claws and flesh of the tiger 
as amulets or charms against disease and the influence of 
evil spirits. 

Many animals, too, are respected for their use to man or 
as scarers of demons, as the cow ; as possessors of wisdom, 
like the elephant or snake; as semi-human in origin or 
character, as the ape. But it is, perhaps, dangerous to 
attempt, as Mr. Campbell has done, to push the classifica- 
tion much farther, because the respect paid to any particular 
animal is possibly based on varied and diverging lines of 

Lastly, as Mr. Frazer has shown, many anJmals are re- 

* Temple, "Wideawake Stories," 74, 41^2; litl Bih&ri Dd, he. cit„ 40, 
106, 134, 138, 155,210, 223; "Cinderella," 526; "North Indian Notes 
and Queries" iiu 13; Clouston, loc. cit^ i. 223. 

» Campbell, " Notes," 259. 

204 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

garded as representing the Corn spirit, and are either 
revered or killed in their divine forms to promote the return 
6f vegetation with each recurring spring. 


To illustrate some of these principles from the worship of 
certain special animals, we may begin with tl:^ horse. 

War horses were so highly prized by the early A^y^^s in 
their battles with the aborigines, that the horse, und^r the 
name of Dadhikra, '' he that scatters the hoar frost like 
milk," soon became an object of worship, and in the Veda 
we have a spirited account of the worship paid to this 
godlike being.^ 

Another horse often spoken of in the early legends is 
Sy&ma Karna, '* he with the black ears," which alone was 
considered a suitable victim in the horse sacrifice or 
Asvamedha. One hundred horse sacrifices entitled the 
sacrificer to displace Indra from heaven, so the deity was 
always trying to capture the horse which was allowed to 
roam about before in^molation. The saint G&lava, who was 
a pupil of Visvamitra, when he had completed his studies, 
asked his tutor what fee he should pay. The saint told him 
that he charged no fee, but he insisted in asking, till at last 
the angiy Rishi said that he would be content with nothing 
less than a thousand black- eared horses. After long search 
GIdava found three childless R^'as, who had each two 
hundred such horses, and they consented to exchange them 
for sons. G&lava then went to Yay&ti, whose daughter 
could bear a son for any one and still remain a virgin. By 
her means the three Rijas became fathers of sons, Visvamitra 
took them, and to make up the numbi&r, had biniself two 
sons by the same mystic bride. 

. In the Mah&bh&rata, Uchchaihsravas, ^* he with the long 
ears," or '' he that neighs loudly," is the king of the horses, 
and belongs to Indra. He is swift as thought, follows the 

* "Rig Veda," iv. 33 ; Datt, ** History of Civilization," i. 72 sq., 79 ; 
Monier-Williams, *' Bnlhmanism and Hinduism,** 329. 

Animal Worship. 205 

path of the sun, and is luminous and white, with a black 
tail, made so by the magic of the serpents, who have covered 
it with black hair. In the folk-tales he consorts with mares 
of mortal birth, and begets steeds of unrivalled speed, like 
the divine Homeric coursers of iBneas.^ In the tales of 
Somadeva we find the king addressing his faithful horse, 
and praying for his aid in danger, as Achilles speaks to his 
steeds Xanthos and Balios, and in the Karling legend of 
Bayard.' We meet also with the horse of Manidatta, which 
was '^ white as the moon; the sound of its neighing was as 
musical as that of a clear conch or other sweet-sounding 
instrument ; it looked like the waves of the sea of milk 
surging on high ; it was marked with curls on the neck, and 
adorned with the crest jewels, the bracelet, and other signs, 
which it seemed it had acquired by being born in the race 
of Gandharvas." 

At a later mythological stage we meet Kalki, the white 
horse which is to be the last Avat4ra of Vishnu, and re- 
minds us of the white horse of the Book of Revelation. 
We meet in the Rig Veda with Yatudhanas, the demon horse, 
which feeds now upon human flesh (like the Bucephalus of 
the kgend of Alexander), now upon horseflesh, and now 
upon milk from cows. He has a host of brethren, such as 
Arvan, half horse, half bird, on which the Daityas are sup- 
posed to ride. Dadhyanch or Dadhicha has a curious legend. 
He was a Rishiand. Indra, after teaching him the sciences, 
threatened to cut his head off if he communicated the know- 
ledge to any one else. But the Aswins tempted him to 
disobey the god, and then, to save him from the wrath of 
Indra, cut off his head and replaced it with that of a horse. 
Finally Indra found his horse-head in the lake at Kurukshetra, 
and using it as Sampson did the jaw-bone of the ass, he 
slew the Asuras. We have, again, Vishnu in the form of 
Hayagriva, or " horse-necked," which he assumed to save 

1 Wright, " History," 165 ; " Iliad," v. 265 sqq. ; Tawney, " Katha 
Sarit SAgara," ii. 593. 

2 Tawney, J^tt/., i. 130, 574, quoting Grimm, "Teutonic Mythology," 
i. 392. 

2o6 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

the Veda, carried off by two Asuras, and in another shape 
he is Hayasiras or Hayasirsha, which vomits forth fire and 
drinks up the waters. In the Pur^nas we meet the Daitjra 
Kesi, who assumes the form of a horse and attacks Krishna, 
but the hero thrusts his hand into his mouth and rends 
him asunder. A large chapter of Scottish folk-lore depends 
on the doings of magic horses such as these.^ 

The flying horse of the Arabian Nights has been trans- 
ferred into many of the current folk-tales, and has found its 
way into European folk-lore.' In the same connection we 
meet the magic bridle ; the flying car, such as Pushpaka, 
the flying vehicle of Kuvera, the god of wealth ; the flying 
bed, the Urin Khatola of the Indian tales ; the fljdng boat, 
and the flying shoes.' 

There are numerous other horses famous in Hindu legend. 
The saint Alam Sayyid of Baroda was known as Ghorfe KSl 
P!r, or the horse saint. His horse was buried near him, 
and Hindus hang images of the animal on trees round his 
tomb.* We have already spoken of Gdga and his mare 
JavAdiyA. The horse of the king of Bhilsa or Bhadrivatl 
was of dazzling brightness, and regarded as the palladium 
of the kingdom, but in spite of all the care bestowed upon 
it, it was carried off by the PAndavas. 

There is a stock horse miracle story told in connection 
with Lai Beg, the patron saint of the sweepers. The king 
of Delhi lost a valuable horse, and the sweepers were ordered 
to bury it, but as the animal was very fat, they proceeded to 
cut it up for themselves, giving one leg to the king's priest. 
They took the meat home and proceeded to cook it, but 
being short of salt, they sent an old woman to buy some. 
She went to the salt merchant's shop and pressed him to 
serve her at once, ** If you do not hurry," said she, " a 
thousand rupees' worth of meat^will be ruined." He informed 
the king, who, suspecting the state of the case, ordered the 

^ Campbell, " Popular Tales," Introduction, Ixxviii. 
* Miss Cox, " Cinderella," 476; Clouston, " Popular Tales," i. 373. 
> Clouston, he, city u 417; Grimm, "Household Tales," ii. 479; 
Tawney, A?^. at, ii. 261 ; Clouston, ibid:, i. no, 218; Tawney, ibid,, i. 13. 
^ Roussdet, " India and its Native Princes,'' 116. 

Animal Worship. 207 

sweepers to produce the horse. They were in dismay at 
the order, but they laid what was left of the animal on a 
mound sacred to ULl Beg, and prayed to him to save them, 
whereupon the horse stood up, but only on three legs. So 
they went to the king and confessed how they had disposed 
of the fourth leg. The unlucky priest was executed, and the 
horse soon after died also.^ 

The horse is regarded as a lucky and exceedingly pure 
animal. When a cooking vessel has become in any way 
defiled, a common way of purifying it is to make a horse 
smell it. In the Dakkhin it is said that evil spirits will not 
approach a horse for fear of his foam.' In Northern India, 
the entry of a man on horseback into a sugar-cane field 
during sowing time is regarded as auspicious. This 
taking of omens from horses was well known in Germany, 
and Tacitus says, ^^ PropHum gentis equorum praesagia 
ac monitus expeririy kinnitus ac fremitus observant ^^ ' There 
does not appear to be in India any trace of the idea preva- 
lent in England that the horse has the power of seeing ghosts, 
or that it can cure diseases such as whooping cough.^ But, 
like the bull, the stallion is believed to scare the demon of 
barrenness. In the Ramiyana, Kausalyi touches the stallion 
in the hope of obtaining sons, and with the same object the 
king and queen smell the odour of the burnt marrow or fat 
of the horse. The water in which a fish is washed has the 
same effect on women in Western folk-lore. With the same 
object, at the Asvamedha, the queen lies at night beside the 
slain sacrificial horse.* ^ 

It is popularly supposed that the horse originally had 
wings, and that the chestnuts or scars on the legs are the 
places where the wings originally grew. Eating horseflesh 
is supposed to bring on cramp, and when a Sepoy at rifle 
practice misses the target, his comrades taunt him with 
having eaten the unlucky meat.* 

^ " Indian Antiquary," xi. 325 sq. ; '* Panj&b Notes and Queries," ii. 2. 
2 Campbell, " Notes," 392. ' *| Germania," 10. 

* Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties,'^ 142. 

* Gubematis, ** Zoological Mythology," i. 332. 

* "Panj&b Notes and Queries," i. 113, 

2o8 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Modern Horse-worship. 

Of modern horse-worship there are many examples* The 
Palliw&l Br&hmans of Jaysalmer worship the bridle of a 
horse, which Colonel Tod siq)poses to prove the Scythic origin 
of the early colonists, who were equestrian as ¥^11 as 
nomadic.^ Horse-worship is still mixed up with the creed of 
the Buddhists of Yun4n, who doubtless derived it from 

In Western India this form of worship is common. It is 
the chief object of reverence at the Dasahra festival. Some 
Rijput Bbils worship a deity called Ghor&deva or a stone 
horse ; the Bhitiyas worship a clay horse at the Dasahra, 
and the Ojha Kumhirs erect a clay horse on the sixth day 
after birth, and make the child worship it. Rag horses are 
offered at the tombs of saints at Gujarit. The Kunbis wash 
their horses on the day of the Dasahra, decorate them with 
flowers, sacrifice a sheep to them, and sprinkle the blood on 
them.* The custom among the Drividian races of offering 
clay horses to the local gods has been already noticed. The 
Gonds have a horse godling in Kodapen, and at the opening 
of the rainy season they worship a stone in his honour 
outside the village. A Gond priest offers a pottery image of 
the animal and a heifer, saying, " Thou art our guardian ! 
Protect our oxen and cows ! Let us live in safety ! " * The 
heifer is then sacrificed and the meat eaten by the wor- 
shippers. The Devak or marriage guardian of some of the 
Dakkhin tribes is a horse. 

The Worship of the Ass. 

The contempt for the ass seems to have arisen in post- 

Vedic times. Indra had a swift-footed ass, and one of the 

epithets of Vikramaditya was Gadharbha-rfipa, or "he in 

the form of an ass." The Vishnu Pur&na tells of the demon 

Dhenuka, who took the form of an ass and began to kick 

Balar&ma aiyl Krishna, as they were plucking fruit in the 

demon's grove. Balar&ma seized him, with sundry of his 

^ "Annals," ii. 319. ' Lubbock, "Origin of Civiliiation,** 275. 

3 Campbell, " Notes," 292. * Hislop, " Papers," Appendix, i. iii. 

Animal Worship. 209 

companions and flung him on the top of a palm tree. 
Khara, a cannibal R&kshasa who was killed by R&ma 
Chandra, also used to take the form of an ass. Muhammad 
said, " The most ungrateful of all voices is surely the voice 
of asses.'* Muhammadans believe that the last animal which 
entered the ark was the ass to which Iblis was clinging. At 
the threshold the beast seemed troubled and could enter no 
farther, when Noah said unto him, *' Fie upon thee ! Come 
in ! " But as the ass was still in trouble and did not advance, 
Noah cried, " Come in, though the Devil be with thee ! " 
So the ass entered, and with him Iblis. Thereupon Noah 
asked, " O enemy of Allah I Who brought thee into the 
ark ? " And Iblis answered, " Thou art the man, for thou 
saidest to the ass, 'Come in, though the Devil be with 

The worship of the ass is chiefly associated with that of 
Sitali, whose vehicle he is. The Agarwila sub-caste of 
Banyas have a curious rule of making the bridegroom just 
before marriage mount an ass. This is done in secret, and 
though said to be intended to propitiate the goddess of 
small-pox, is possibly a survival of some primitive form of 

In folk-lore the ass constantly appears. We have in 
Somadeva the fable of the ass in the panther's skin, which 
also appears in the fifth book of the Panchatantra. Pro- 
fessor Weber asserts that it was derived from the original in 
Msop, but this is improbable, as it is also found in the 
Buddhist Jdtakas. In one of the Kashmir tales we have 
the bird saying, " If any person will peel off the bark of my 
tree, pound it, mix the powder with some of the juice of its 
leaves and then work it into a ball, it will be found to work 
like a charm ; for any one who smells it will be turned into 
an ass."* We have instances of ass transformation in 
Apuleius and Lucian, and in German and other Western 

^ Burton, " Arabian Nights," ii. 340. 

» Knowles, " Folk-tales," 90 ; Tawney, " Katha Sarit S&gara," ii. 168 ; 
Clouston, " Popular Tales," i. 97 ; Grimm, " Household Tales," ii. 419. 

VOL. II. , P 

210 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

The Lion. 

The lion, from his comparative rarity in Northern India, 
appears little in popular belief. It is one of the vehicles of 
Pdrvatl, and rude images of the animal are sometimes 
placed near shrines dedicated to Devf. There is a current 
idea that only one pair of lions exists in the world at the 
same time. They have two cubs, a male and a female, 
which, when they arrive at maturity, devour their parents. 
In the folk-tales the childless king is instructed that he will 
find in the forest a boy riding on a lion, and this will be 
his son. The lovely maiden in the legend of Jimutavihana 
is met riding on a lion. We have the lion Pingalika, king 
of beasts, with the jackal as his minister, and in one of the 
cycle of tales in which the weak animal overcomes the more 
powerful, the hare by his wisdom causes the lion to drown 
himself. The basis of the famous tale of Androcles is pro- 
bably Buddhistic, but only a faint reference to it is found in 
Somadeva. In one of the modern stories the soldier takes 
a thorn out of the tiger's foot, and is rewarded with a box 
which contains a manikin, who procures for him all he 

The Tiger. 

The tiger naturally takes the place of the lion. According 
to the comparative mythologists, " the tiger, panther, and 
leopard possess several of the mystical characteristics of 
, the lion as the hidden sun. Thus, Dionysos and Siva, the 
phallical god par excellence^ have these animals as their 
emblems." * Siva, it is true, is represented as sitting in his 
ascetic form on a tiger skin, but it is his consort, Durgi, 
who uses the animal as her vehicle. Quite apart from the 
solar myth theory, the belief that witches are changed into 
tigers, and the terror inspired by him, are quite sufficient to 
account for the honour bestowed upon him. 

* Tawney, loc, cit^ i. yj^ 78 ; ii. 28, 32 ; Grimm, loc. ciU^ ii. 404 ; Tawney, 
loc, city ii. 107. 
' Gubernatis, loc, cit^ ii. 160. 

Animal Worship. 211 

Much also of the worship of the tiger is probably of 
totemistic origin. Thus the Baghel R&jputs claim descent, 
and from him {pdgh^ vydghra^ " the spotted one ") derive 
their name. This tribe will not, in Central India, destroy 
the animal. So, " no consideration will induce a Sumatran 
to catch or wound a tiger, except in self-defence, or imme- 
diately after the tiger has destroyed a friend or a relation. 
When a European has set traps for tigers, the people 
of the neighbourhood have been known to go by night to 
the spot and explain to the tiger that the traps were not 
set by them, nor with their consent." The Bhlls and the 
Bajriwat R&jputs of Rijput&na also claim tiger origin.^ 

Another idea appearing in tiger-worship is that he eats 
human flesh, and thus obtains possession of the souls of the 
victims whom he devours. For this reason a man-eating 
tiger is supposed to walk along with his head bent, because 
the ghosts of his victims sit on it and weigh it down.^ 

He is, again, often the disguise of a sorcerer of evil 
temper, an idea similar to that which was the basis of the 
European dread of lycanthropy and the were-wolf. " Ac- 
counts differ as to the way in which the were-wolf was 
chosen. According to one account, a human victim was 
sacrificed, one of his bowels was mixed with the bowels 
of animal victims, the whole was consumed by the wor- 
shippers, and the man who unwittingly ate the human 
bowel was changed into a wolf. According to another 
account, lots were cast among the members of a particular 
family, and he upon whom the lot fell was the were-wolf. 
Being led to the brink of a tarn, he stripped himself, hung 
his clothes on an oak tree, plunged into the tarn, and swim- 
ming across it, went into desert places. There he was 
changed into a wolf, and herded with wolves for nine years. 
If he tasted human blood before the nine years were out he 
had to remain a wolf for ever. If during the nine years he 

1 Forsyth, " Highlands of Central Indian," 278 ; Tod, " Annals," ii. 
660; Rowney, ** Wild Tribes," 139; Dalton, "Descriptive Ethnology," 
214; Frazer, "Golden Bough," ii. no. 

3 Trumbull, *' Blood Covenant," 312 ; Tylor, " Primitive Culture," i. 
309 ; Sleeman, " Rambles," i. 153 sqq. 

P 2 

212 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

abstained from preying on men, then, when the tenth year 
came round, he recovered his human shape. Similarly, 
there is a negro family at the mouth of the Congo who are 
supposed to possess the power of turning themselves into 
leopards in the gloomy depths of the forest. As leopards, 
they knock people down, but do no further harm, for they 
think that if, as leopards, they once lapped blood, they 
would be leopards for ever." * 

Hence in India the jungle people who are in the way of 
meeting him will not pronounce his name, but speak of 
him as Gidar, " the jackal," JAnwar, " the beast," or use 
some other euphemistic term. They do the same in many 
cases with the wolf and bear, and though they sometimes 
hesitate to kill the animal themselves, they will readily 
assist sportsmen to destroy him, and make great rejoicings 
when he is killed. A Shikari will break off a branch on the 
road as he goes along, and say, " As thy life has departed, 
so may the tiger die ! " When he is killed they will bring 
forward some spirits and pour it on the head of the animal, 
addressing him, " Mahiraja ! During your life you confined 
yourself to cattle, and never injured your human subjects. 
Now that you are dead, spare us and bless us ! " In 
Akola the gardeners are unwilling to inform the sportsmen 
of the whereabouts of a tiger or panther vfhich may have 
taken up its quarters in their plantation, for they have a 
superstition that a garden plot loses its fertility from the 
moment one of these animals is killed there. So, with the 
Ainos of Japan, who when a bear is trapped or wounded by 
an arrow, go through an apologetic or propitiatory cere- 

In Nep&l they have a regular festival in honour of the 
tiger known as the Bdgh Jitra, in which the worshippers 
used to dance in the disguise of tigers. 

1 " Folk-lore,'* i. 169; Lyall, "Asiatic Studies," 13 ; Spencer, "Prin- 
ciples of Sociology," i. 323 ; Conway, ** Demonology," i. 313 sq. ; Scott, 
"Letters on Demonology," 174. 

2 " Ber&r Gazetteer,*'* 62 ; Wright, " History of Nepil," 38 ; Frazer, 
" Golden Bough," ii. loi. 

Animal Worship. 213 

Tiger-worship among the Jungle Races. 

But, as is natural, the worship of the tiger prevails 
more widely among the jungle races. We have already 
met with Bagheswar, the tiger deity of the Mirzapur forest 
tribes. The Santdis also worship him, and the Kis&ns 
honour him as Banrdja, or " lord of the jungle." They 
will not kill him, and believe that in return for their 
devotion he will spare them. Another branch of the tribe 
does not worship him, but all swear by him. The Bhuiyars, 
on the contrary, have no veneration for him, and think 
it their interest to slay him whenever they have an oppor- 
tunity. The Ju&ngs take their oaths on earth from an 
ant-hill, and on a tiger's skin ; the ant-hill is a sacred ^ ^1 ^u-^v 
object with the Khariyas, and the tiger skin is brought in 
when the Hos and Santils are sworn. Among the eastern 
Santils, the tiger is worshipped, but in Ramgarh only those 
who have suffered from the animal's ferocity condescend to 
adore him. If a man is carried off by a tiger, the Bagh 
Bhtit, or " Tiger ghost," is worshipped, and an oath on a 
tiger's skin is considered most solemn.^ 

BlGH Deo, the Tiger Godling. 

Further west the Kurkus of Hoshangibid worship the 
tiger godling, B&gh Deo, who is the Wigh Deo of Berir. 
At Petri in Ber&r is a sort of altar to Wdghai Devi, the 
tiger goddess, founded on a spot where a Gond woman was 
once seized by a tiger. She is said to have vanished as if 
by some supernatural agency, and the Gonds who desire 
protection from wild beasts present to her altar gifts of 
every kind of animal from a cow downwards. A Gond 
presides over the shrine and receives the votive offerings. 

In Hoshangibdd the Bhomka is the priest of Bdgh Deo. 
"On him devolves the dangerous duty of keeping tigers out of 
the boundaries. When a tiger visits a village, the Bhomka 
repairs to Bkgh Deo, and makes his offerings to the god, 
and promises to repeat them for so many years on condition 

* Dalton, loc\ciU^ 132, 133, 158, 214. 

214 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

that the tiger does not appear for that time. The tiger, on 
his part, never fails to fulfil the compact thus solemnly made 
by his lord ; for he is pre-eminently an upright and honour- 
able beast — 'pious withal,' as Mandeville says, not faithless 
or treacherous like the leopard, whom no compact can bind. 
Some Bhomkas, however, masters of more powerful spell, 
are not obliged to rely on the traditional honour of the 
tiger, but compel his attendance before Bagh Deo ; and 
such a Bhomka has been seen, a very Daniel among tigers, 
muttering his incantations over two or three at a time as 
they crouched before him. Still more mysterious was the 
power of K^bfait Bhomka (now, alas ! no more). He died, 
the victim of misplaced confidence in a Louis Napoleon of 
tigers, the basest and most bloodthirsty of his race. He 
had a fine large Saj tree into which, when he uttered his 
spells, he would drive a nail. On this the tiger came and 
ratified the contract with enormous paw manual. Such was 
that of Timtir the Lame, when he dipped his mighty hand 
in blood and stamped its impression on a parchment 
grant." ' 

In the same way in other parts of the Central Provinces 
the village sorcerers profess to be able to call tigers from the 
jungles, to seize them by the ears, and control their voracity 
by whispering to them a command not to come near their 
villages, or they pretend to know a particular kind of root, 
by burying which they can prevent the beasts of the forest 
from devouring men or cattle. With the same object they 
lay on the pathway small models of bedsteads and other 
things which are supposed to act as charms and stop their 

Magical Powers of Dead Tigers. 

All sorts of magical powers are ascribed to the tiger after 
death. The fangs, the claws, the whiskers are potent 
charms, valuable for love philters and prophylactics against 
demoniacal influence, the Evil Eye, disease and death. The 

1 " Berir Gazetteer," 191 sq. ; " HbshangaMd Settlement Report,*' 
255 sq. 

Animal Worship. 215 

milk of a tigress is valuable medicine, and it is one of the 
stock impossible tasks or tests imposed upon the hero to 
find and fetch it, as he is sent to get the feathers of the 
eagle, water from the well of death, or the mystical cow 
guarded by D4nos or Rikshasas.* The fat is considered a 
valuable remedy for rheumatism and similar maladies. The 
heart and flesh are tonics, stimulants and aphrodisiacs, and 
give strength and courage to those who use them. The 
Miris of Assam prize tiger's flesh as food for men ; it gives 
them strength and courage ; but it is not suited for women, 
as it would make them too strong-minded.' The whiskers 
are believed, among other qualities which they possesSj^To" 
be a slow poison when taken with food, and 'the curious 
rudimentary clavicles, known as Santokh or " happiness," 
are highly valued as amulets. There is a general belief that 
a tiger gets a new lobe to his liver every year. A favourite 
amulet to repel demoniacal influence consists of the whiskers 
of the tiger or leopard mixed with nail parings, some sacred 
root or grass, and red lead, and hung on the throat or upper 
arm. This treatment is particularly valuable in the case of 
young children immediately after birth. Tiger's flesh is also 
a potent medicine and charm, and it is burnt in the cow- 
stall when cattle disease prevails. The flesh of the tiger, or 
if that be not procurable, the flesh of the jackal is burnt in 
the fields to keep off blight from the crops. 

Tigers, Propitiation of. 

Some tigers are supposed to be amenable to courtesy. In 
one of the Kashmir tales, the hero in search of tiger's milk 
shoots an arrow and pierces one of the teats of the tigress, 
to whom he explains that he hoped she would thus be able 
to suckle her cubs with less trouble. In other tales we find 
the tiger pacified if he is addressed as " Uncle." ' So, Colonel 
Tod describes how a tiger attacked a boy near his camp, and 
was supposed to have, like the fierce Rakshasa of the Nepil 

> See for example Knowles, ** Kashmir Folk-tales," 3, 45, 46, 

* Dalton, loc, cit., 33. 

3 Knowles, loc. cit, 47 ; Campbell, " S'litil Tales," 18. 

2i6 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

legend, released the child when he was addressed as 
" Uncle." ' " This Lord of the Black Rock, for such is 
the designation of the tiger, is one of the most ancient 
bourgeois of Morwan ; his stronghold is K41a Pahdr, 
between this and Magawdr ; and his reign during a long 
series of years has been unmolested, notwithstanding 
numerous acts of aggression on his bovine subjects. In- 
deed, only two nights before he was disturbed gorging on a 
buffalo belonging to a poor oilman of Morwan. Whether 
the tiger was an incarnation of one of the Mori lords of 
Morwan, tradition does not say ; but neither gun, bow, nor 
spear has ever been raised against him. In return for this 
forbearance, it is said, he never preyed on man ; or if he 
seized one, would, on being entreated with the endearing 
epithet of ' Uncle,' let go his hold." ' 


Among the Gonds tiger-worship assumes a particularly 
disgusting form. At marriages among them, a terrible ap- 
parition appears of two demoniacs possessed by Bdgheswar, 
the tiger god. They fall ravenously on a bleating kid, and 
gnaw it with their teeth till it expires. " The manner," 
says Captain Samuells, who witnessed the performance, " in 
which the two men seized the kid with their teeth and killed 
it was a sight which could only be equalled on a feeding day 
in the Zoological Gardens or a menagerie." ^ 

Men Metamorphosed into Tigers. 

The only visible difference between the ordinary animal 
and a man metamorphosed into a tiger was explained to 
Colonel Sleeman to consist in the fact that the latter had 
no tail. In the jungles about Deori there is said to be a 
root, which if a man eats, he is converted into a tiger on the 
spot ; and if, when in this state, he eats another species of 
root, he is turned back into a man again. 

» Wright •* History," 169. « "Annals," ii. 669. 

* Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 280. 

Animal Worship. 217 

"A melancholy instance of this/* said Colonel Sleeman's 
informant, " occurred in my own father's family when I was 
an infant. His washerman Raghu was, like all washermen, 
a great drunkard. Being seized with a violent desire to 
ascertain what a man felt like in the state of a tiger, he 
^ent one day to the jungle and brought back two of these 
roots, and desired his wife to stand by with one of them, 
and the instant she saw him assume the tiger's shape to 
thrust the root she held into his mouth. She consented, 
and the washerman ate his root and instantly became a 
tiger, whereupon she was so terrified that she ran off with 
the antidote in her hand. Poor old Raghu took to the 
ivoods, and there ate a good many of his friends from the 
neighbouring villages ; but he was at last shot, and recog- 
nized from his having no tail. You may be quite sure when 
you hear of a tiger having no tail that it is some unfortunate 
man who has eaten of that root, and of all the tigers he will 
be found the most mischievous." ^ 

This is a curious reversal of the ordinary theory regarding 
the tail of the tiger, to which a murderous strength is 
attributed. A Hindu proverb says that the hair of a tiger's 
tail may be the means of losing one's life. This has been 
compared by Professor De Gubernatis with the tiger Manti- 
kora spoken of by Ktesias, which has on its tail hairs which 
are darts thrown by it for the purpose of defence.' 

A Nepal legend describes how some children made a clay 
image of a tiger, and thinking the figure incomplete without 
a tongue, went to fetch a leaf to supply the defect. On their 
return they found that Bhairava had entered the image and 
had begun to devour their sheep. The image of Bdgh 
Bhairava and the deified children are still to be seen at this 
place. We have the same legend in the Panchatantra and 
the tales of Somadeva, where four Brdhmans resuscitate a 
tiger and are devoured by it.* 

We have many instances in the folk-tales of the tiger be- 

^ " Rambles and Recollections/* i. 154 sqq. 

' "Zoological Mythology,*' i. i6o sq. 

3 Wright, "History/' i6i ; Tawney, " Katha Sarit SAgara," ii. 348 sq. 

2i8 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

fooled. In one of the tales told by the Mdnjhis of Mirzapur 
the goat has kids in the tiger's den, and when he arrives she 
makes her kids squall and pretends that she wants some 
tiger's flesh for them.' In a Panjdbi tale the farmer's wife 
rides up to the tiger calling out, " I hope I may find a tiger 
in this field, for I have not tasted tiger's flesh since the day 
before yesterday, when I killed three," whereupon the tiger 
runs away. The tale which tells how the jackal succeeds in 
getting the tiger back into the cage and thus saves the 
Brahman is common in Indian folk-lore.* 


In the Nepdl legend which we have been discussing we 
find Bhairava associated with the tiger, but his prototype, 
the local godling Bhairon, has the dog as his sacred animal, 
and his is the only temple in Benares into which the dog is 

Two conflicting lines of thought seem to meet in dog- 
worship. As Mr. Campbell says, " There is a good house- 
guarding dog, and an evil scavenging and tomb-haunting 
dog. Some of the products of the dog are so valued in 
driving off spirits that they seem to be a distinct element in 
the feeling of respect shown to the dog. Still it seems better 
to consider the dog as a man-eater, and to hold that, like the 
tiger, this was the original reason why the dog was con- 
sidered a guardian." * It is perhaps in this connection that 
the dog is associated with Yama, the god of death. 

An ancient epithet of the dog is Kritajna, " he that is 
mindful of favours," which is also a title of Siva. The most 
touching episode of the Mahibhdrata is where Yudishthira 
refuses to enter the heaven of Indra without his favourite 
dog, which is really Yama in disguise. These dogs of Yama 
probably correspond to the Orthros and Kerberos of the 
Greeks, and Kerberos has been connected etymologically 

^ " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 65. 

« Temple, "Wideawake Stories/' 116; Campbell, " Santal Folk-tales,** 
40; Ciouston, " Popular Tales," i. 146. i 
» Sherring, " Sacred City," 63, 65. * " Notes," 276. 






Animal Worship. 219 

with Sarvaxi, which is an epithet of the night, meaning 
originally " dark" or "pale." ' The same idea shows itself 
in the Parsi respect for the dog, which may be traced to 
the belief of the early Persians. The dog's muzzle is placed 
near the mouth of the dying P4rsi in order that it may 
receive his parting breath and bear it to the waiting angel, 
and the destruction of a corpse by dogs is looked on with no 
feeling of abhorrence. The same idea is found in Buddhism, 
where on the early coins " the figure of a dog in connection 
with a Buddhist StApa recalls to mind the use to which the 
animal was put in the bleak highlands of Asia in the pre- 
ferential form of sepulchre over exposure to birds and wild 
beasts in the case of deceased monks or persons of position 
in Tibet. Strange and horrible as it may seem to us to be 
devoured by domestic dogs, trained and bred for the 
purpose, it was the most honourable form of burial among 
Tibetans." ' 

The Kois of Central India hold in great respect the P4n- 
dava brethren Arjuna and Bhlma. The wild dogs or Dhol 
are regarded as the DOtas or messengers of the heroes, and 
the long black beetles which appear in large numbers at the 
beginning of the hot weather are called the Pdndavas' goats. 
None of them will on any account interfere with these divine 
dogs, even when they attack their cattle.' 

Dog-worship: Bhairon, 
In modern times dog-worship appears specially in con- 
nection with the cultus of Bhairon, the Brihmanical 
Bhairava, the Bhairoba of Western India. No Maratha will 
lift his hand against a dog, and in Bombay many Hindus 
worship the dog of Kdla Bhairava, though the animal is 
considered unclean by them. Khand^ Rdo or Khandoba or 
Khandoji is regarded as an incarnation of Siva and much 

^ Cox, ** Mythology of the Aryan Nations," ii. 336. 

2 •» Journal Asiatic Society, Bengal/' lix. 212. The horror with which 
the Homeric Greeks regarded the eating of a corpse by dogs comes out 
very strongly in the Iliad. 

» " Indian Antiquary,** v. 358 sq.J 

220 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

worshipped by Marithas, He is most frequently represented 
as riding on horseback and attended by a dog and accom- 
panied by his wife MalsurA, another form of Pdrvati. His 
name is usually derived from the Khanda or sword which 
he carries, but Professor Oppert without much probability 
would connect it with that of the aboriginal Khdndhs who 
are supposed to have been original settlers in Khindesh, 
after whom it was called/ In many temples of Bhaironndth, 
as at Benares and Hardwdr, he is depicted on the wall in a 
deep blue colour approaching to black, and behind him is 
the figure of the dog on which he rides. Sweetmeat sellers 
make little images of a dog in sugar, which are presented to 
the deity as an offering. 

At Loh^ni, in the PanjAb, a common-looking grave is 
much respected by the Hindus. It is said to contain the 
remains of a dog formerly possessed by the chief of the 
victorious Thakurs, which is credited with having done 
noble service in battle, springing up and seizing the wounded 
warriors' throats, many of whom it slew. Finally it was 
killed and buried on the spot with beat of drum, and has 
since been an object of worship and homage. " Were it 
not," says General Cunningham, "for the Sagparast of 
Naishapur, mentioned in Khusru's charming Darvesh tales, 
this example of dog-worship would probably be unique." " 
This is, it is hardly necessary to say, a mistake. 

Thus, close to Bulandshahr, there is a grove with four 
tombs, which are said to be the resting-place of three holy 
men and their favourite dog, which died when the last of 
the saints departed this life. They were buried together, and 
their tombs are held in much respect by Muhammadans.' 

In Pfina, Dattatreya is guarded by four dogs which are 
said to stand for the four Vedas, and at Jejuri and Ndgpur 
children are dedicated to the dogs of Khand^ Rio. The 
Ghisadis, on the seventh day after a birth, go and worship 
water, and on coming back rub their feet on a dog. At 

* "Original Inhabitants," IJ7 scj. 

* " Archaeological Reports, xxi ii. 26. 

* "North Indian Notes and Queries," i. 118. 

Animal Worship. 221 

Dharwar, on the fair day of the Dasahra at Malahdri's temple, 
the Vdggayya ministrants dress in blue woollen coats and 
meet with bell and skins tied round their middles, the 
pilgrims barking and howling like dogs. Each Vdggayya 
has a wooden bowl into which the pilgrims put milk and 
plantains. Then the Vdggayyas lay down the bowls, fight 
with each other like dogs, and putting their mouths into 
the bowls, eat the contents.* In Nepil, there is a festival, 
known as the Khichi PAjS., in which worship is done to 
dogs, and garlands of flowers are placed round the neck of 
every dog in the country.* Among the Gonds, if a dog dies \ 
or is born, the family has to undergo purification.^ 

Dogs in Folk-lore : The Bethgelert Legend. 

The famous tale of Bethgelert, the faithful hound which 
saves the child of his master from the wolf and is killed by 
mistake, appears all through the folk-tales and was probably 
derived from India. In the Indian version the dog usually 
belongs to a Banya or to a Banjdra, who mortgages him to 
a merchant. The merchant is robbed and the dog discovers 
the stolen goods. In his gratitude the merchant ties round 
the neck of the dog a scrap of paper, on which he records 
that the debt has been satisfied. The dog returns to his 
original master, who upbraids him for deserting his post, 
and, without looking at the paper, kills him, only to be 
overcome by remorse when he learns the honesty of the 
faithful beast. This famous tale is told at Haidar&bid, 
Lucknow, Sitapur, Mirzapur, and Kashmir. In its more 
usual form, as in the Panchatantra and the collection of 
Somadeva, the mungoose takes the place of the dog and 
kills the cobra on the baby's cradle/ 

Throughout folk-lore the dog is associated with the 

1 Campbell, " Notes," 276 sq. » Wright, " History," 39 sq. 

» Hislop, " Papers." 6. 

* " Folk-lore," iii. 127 ; " Panjib Notes and Queries," Hi. 94, 148 ; iv. 
46, 150, 173; "North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 18, 67; Knowles, 
" Folk-tales of Kashmir," 36, 429 ; Clouston, " Popular Tales," ii. 166 •,: 
Tawney, " Katha Sarit sdgara," ii. 90 ; " Gesta Romanorum,** Introd. xlii. 

222 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

spirits of the dead, as we have seen to be the case with 
Sy4ma, "the black one," and Sabala or Karvara, the 
" spotted ones," the attendants of Yama.* Hence the dog 
is regarded as the guardian of the household, which they 
protect from evil spirits. According to Aubrey,- " all over 
England a spayed bitch is accounted wholesome in a house ; 
that is to say they have a strong belief that it keeps away 
evil spirits from haunting of a house." As in the Odyssey, 
the two swift hounds of Telemachus bear him company and 
recognize Athene when she is invisible to others, and the 
dogs of Virgil howl when the goddess approaches, so the 
Muhammadans believe that dogs recognize Azrall, the angel 
of death, and in Northern India it is supposed that dogs 
have the power of seeing spirits, and when they see one 
they howl. In Shakespeare King Henry says : — 

" The owl shriek'd at thy birth, an evil sign ; 
The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time ; 
Dogs howled and hideous tempests shook down trees/' 

Hence in all countries the howling of dogs in the vicinity 
of a house is an omen of approaching misfortune. 

The respect for the dog is well shown in the case of the 
Bauris of Bengal, who will on no account kill a dog or 
touch its body, and the water of a tank in which a dog has 
been drowned cannot be used until an entire rainy season 
has washed the impurity away. They allege that as they 
kill cows and most other animals, they deem it right to fix 
on some beast which should be as sacred to them as the 
cow to the Brdhman, and they selected the dog because it 
was a useful animal when alive and not very nice to eat 
when dead, " a neat reconciliation of the twinges of con- 
science and cravings of appetite." ' 

Various omens are in the Panjib drawn from dogs. 
When out hunting, if they lie on their backs and roll, as 
they generally do when they find a tuft of grass or soft 
ground, it shows that plenty of game will be found. If a 

1 Conway, " Demonology," i. 134 ; Gregor, " Folk-lore of North- 
East Scotland,'' 126 sq. 
« " Remaines," 53. » Risley, " Tribes and Castes," i. 79 sq. 

Animal Worship. 223 

dog lies quietly on his back in the house, it is a bad omen, 
for the superstition runs that the dog is addressing heaven 
for support, and that some calamity is bound to happen.* 

We have seen already that some of the Central Indian 
tribes respect the wild dog. The same is the case in the 
Hills, where they are known as " God's hounds," and no 
native sportsman will kill them.^ In one of Grimm's tales 
we read that the " Lord God had created all animals, and 
had chosen out the wolf to be his dog," and the dogs of 
Odin were wolves.' Another sacred dog in Indian folk-lore 
is that of the hunter Shambuka. His master threw him into 
the sacred pool of Uradh in the Himalaya, Coming out 
dripping, he shook some of the water on his owner, and 
such was the virtue of even this partial ablution that on 
their death both hunter and dog were summoned to the 
heaven of Siva.'* 

All over Northern India the belief in the curative power 
of the tongue of the dog widely prevails. In Ireland they 
say that a dried tongue of a fox will draw out thorns, how- 
ever deep they be, and an old late Latin verse says : — 

In cane bis Hna sunt, et lingua medicina 
Maris odoratus, amor intiger^ atque latratus!" 

Among Musalmdns the dog is impure. The vessel it 
drinks from must be washed seven times and scrubbed with 
earth. The Qurdn directs that before a dog is slipped in 
chase of game, the sportsman should call out, " In the name 
of God, the great God ! " Then all game seized by him 
becomes lawful food. 

The Goat. 

The goat is another animal to which mystic powers are 
attributed. In the mythology of the West he is associated 
with Dionysos, Pan, and the Satyr. In England it is com- 

1 " Panj4b Notes and Queries," i. 88. 

2 " Journal Asiatic Society, Bengal,*' 1847, p. 234. 
' " Household Tales," ii. 444. 

* Atkinson, " Himalayan Gazetteer," ii. 329. 

•* " Folk-lore," iv. 351 ; " Gesta Romanorum," 25. 

-9& '*4^f • ^^'^^^ 

224 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

monly believed that he is never seen for twenty-four hours 
together, and that once in this space he pays a visit to the 
Devil to have his beard combed,^ The Devil, they say, 
somietimes appears in this form, which accounts for his 
horns and tail. The wild goat was associated with the 
worship 6f Artemis, the Arab unmarried goddess.* In the 
R4d3i4yana, Agamukhi, or " goat's face," is the witch who 
wishes Sit& to be torn to pieces. 

Mr. Conway asks whether this idea about the goat is due 
to the smell of the animal, its butting and injury to plants, 
or was it demonized merely because of its uncanny and 
shaggy appearance ? ' Probably the chief reason is because 
it has a curious habit of occasionally shivering, which is 
r^^rded as caused by some indwelling spirit. The Thags 
in their sacrifice used to select two goats, black, and perfect 
in all their parts. They were bathed and made to face the 
west, and if they shook themselves and threw the water off 
their hair, they were regarded as a sacrifice acceptable to 
Devi. Hence in India a goat is led along a disputed 
boundary, and the place where it shivers is regarded as 
the proper line. Plutarch says that the Greeks would not 
sacrifice a goat if it did not shiver when water was thrown 
over it. 

In the Panjalb it is believed that when a goat kills a snake 
it eats it and then ruminates, after which it spits out a 
Manka or bead, which, when applied to a snake-bite, absorbs 
the poison and swells. If it be then put in milk and squeezed, 
the poison drips out of it like blood, and the patient is cured. 
If it is not put in milk, it will burst to pieces.* It hence 
resembles the Ovum Anguinum, or Druid's Egg, to which 
reference has been already made.* If a person suffers from 
spleen, they take the spleen of a he-goat, if the patient be a 
male ; or of a she-goat, if the patient be a female. It is 
rubbed on the region of the spleen seven times on a Sunday 
or Tuesday, pierced with acacia thorns and hung on a 

1 Brand, " Observations," 583. ^ Robertson-Smith, " Kinship," 194. 
* " Demonology," i. 122. 
4 "North Indian Notes and Queries,'* i. 15. 
Brand, " Observations,'* 785. 

Animal Worship, 225 

tree. As the goat's spleen dries, the spleen of the patient 

The horn is regarded as somehow most closely connected 
with the brain. So, in the " Merry Wives of Windsor," 
Mrs. Quickly says : " If he had found the young man, he 
would have been horn mad," and Horace gives the advice, 
" Fenum habet in comu longefuge.^^ Martial describes how 
in his time the Roman shrines were covered with horns, 
Dissimulatque deum comibus orafrequens} 

It is for this reason that the local shrines in the Himalaya 
are decorated with horns of the wild sheep, ibex, and goat. 
In Persia many houses are adorned with rams' heads fixed to 
the corners near the roof, which are to protect the building 
from misfortune. In Bilochistdn and Afghanistan it is 
customary to place the horns of the wild goat and sheep on 
the walls of forts and mosques.' Akbar covered his Kos 
Minars or mile-stones with the horns of the deer he had 
killed. The conical support of the Banjdra woman's head- 
dress was originally a horn, and many classes of Faqirs tie a 
piece of horn round their necks. We have the well-known 
horn of plenty, and it is very common in the folk-tales to 
find objects taken out of the ears or horns of the helpful 

Goat and Totemism. 

We perhaps get a glimpse of totemism in connection with 
the goat in some of the early Hindu legends. When Parusha, 
the primeval man, was divided into his male and female 
parts, he produced all the animals, and the goat was first 
formed out of his mouth. There is, again, a mystical con- 
nection between Agni, the fire god, Br4hmans, and goats, as 
between Indra, the Kshatriyas, and sheep, Vaisyas and kine, 
SOdras and the horse. These may possibly have been tribal 

^ " Epigrams," i. 6, 

2 "Panjdb Notes and Queries," iv. 131 ; Moorcroft, "Travels,*' i. 22; 
** Journal Asiatic Society Bengal,*' 1840, p. 572 ; ** Atn-i-Akbari," i. 289. 
' Miss Cox, " Cinderella," 473, 


226 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

totems of the races by whom these animals were venerated.* 
The sheep, as we have already seen, is a totem of the 
Keriyas. The Aheriyas, a vagrant tribe of the North- Western 
Provinces, worship Mekhasura or Meshasura in the form of 
a ram. 

Cow AND Bull Worship. 

But the most famous of these animal totems or fetishes is 
the cow or bull. According to the school of comparative 
mythology the bull which bore away Europe from Kadmos 
is the same from which the dawn flies in the Vedic hymn. 
He, according to this theory, is " the bull Indra, which, like 
the sun, traverses the heaven, bearing the dawn from east 
to west. But the Cretan bull, like his fellow in the Gnossian 
labyrinth, who devours the tribute children from the city of the 
Dawn goddess, is a dark and malignant monster, akin to the 
throttling snake who represents the powers of night and 
darkness."^ This may be so, but the identification of 
primitive religion, in all its varied phases, with the sun or 
other physical phenomena is open to the obvious objection 
that it limits the ideas of the early Aryans to the weather 
and their dairies, and antedates the regard for the cow to a 
period when the animal was held in much less reverence than 
it is at present. 

Respect for the Cow Modern. 

That the respect for the cow is of comparatively modern 
date is best established on the authority of a writer, himself 
a Hindu. " Animal food was in use in the Epic period, and 
the cow and bull were often laid under requisition. In the 
Aitareya Br&hmana, we learn that an ox, or a cow which 
suffers miscarriage, is killed when a king or honoured guest 
is received. In the Brdhmana of the Black Yajur Veda the 
kind and character of the cattle which should be slaughtered 
in minor sacrifices for the gratification of particular divinities 

^ Muir, "Ancient Sanskrit Texts," i. 24 sq. ; iii. 166, 310 sq. ; 
McLennan, "Fortnightly Review," 1870, 198 sq. 
* Cox, " Mythology of the Aryan Nations,'* i. 107, 437 sq. ; ii. 49 sq. 






Animal Worship. 227 

are laid down in detail. Thus a dwarf one is to be sacrificed 
to Vishnu, a drooping-horned bull to Indra, a thick-legged 
cow to VAjoi, a barren cow to Vishnu and Varuna, a black 
cow to Pftshan, a cow having two colours to Mitra and 
Varuna, a red cow to Indra, and so on. In a larger and 
more important ceremonial, like the Aswamed^a, no less 
than one hundred and eighty domestic animals, including 
horses, bulls, goats, sheep, deer, etc., were sacrificed. 

" The same BrAhmana lays down instructions for carving, 
and the Gopatha Br&hmana tells us who received the por- 
tions. The priests got the tongue, the neck, the shoulder, 
the rump, the legs, etc., while the master of the house wisely 
appropriated to himself the sirloin, and his wife had to be 
satisfied with the pelvis. Plentiful libations of Soma beer 
were to be allowed to wash down the meat. In the Sata- 
patha Br&hmana we have a detailed account of the slaughter 
of a barren cow and its cooking. In the same Brahmana 
there is an amusing discussion as to the propriety of eating 
the meat of an ox or cow. The conclusion is not very 
definite. ' Let him (the priest) not eat the flesh of the cow 
and the ox. Nevertheless Yajnavalkya said (taking appa- 
rently a very practical view of the matter), * I, for one, eat it, 
provided it is tender.' " ^ 

The evidence that cows were freely slaughtered in ancient 
times could be largely extended. It is laid down in the 
early laws that the meat of milch cows and oxen may be 
eaten, and a guest is called a Goghna or " cow-killer," 
because a cow was killed for his entertainment.^ In the 
Grihya SAtra we have a description of the sacrifice of an ox 
to Kshetrapati, " the lord of the fields." In another ancient 
ritual the sacrifice of a cow is stated to be very similar to 
that of the Sati, and, according to an early legend, kine were 
created from Parusha, the primal male, and are to be eaten 
as they were formed from the receptacle of food.' 

1 Romesh Chandra Datt, " History of Indian CivilizatioD," i. 253 sq. 
3 Biihler, "Sacred Laws," Part i. 64, 119, note. 

* Rajendra Lila Mitra, " I ndo- Aryans," ii. 134; Muir, "Ancient 
Sansknt Texts," i. 24 sqq. 


228 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

It need hardly be said that the worship of the cow is not 
peculiar to India, but prevails widely in various parts of the 

Origin of Cow-worship. 

The explanation of the origin of cow-worship has been a 
subject of much controversy. The modern Hindu, if he has 
formed any distinct ideas at all on the subject, bases his 
respect for the cow on her value for supplying milk, and for 
general agricultural purposes. The PanchagAvya, or five 
products of the cow — milk, curds, butter, urine, and dung — 
are efficacious as scarers of demons, are used as remedies 
in disease, and play a very important part in domestic ritual 
Gaurochana, a bright yellow pigment prepared from the 
urine or bile of the cow, or, as is said by some, vomited by 
her or found in her head, is used for making the sectarial 
mark, and as a sedative, tonic, and anthelmintic. In Bombay 
it is specially used as a remedy for measles, which is con- 
sidered to be a spirit disease.* 

There is, again, something to be said for the theory which 
finds in these animals tribal totems and fetishes.^ We have 
a parallel case among the Jews, where the bull was probably 
the ancient symbol of the Hyksos, which the Israelites 
having succeeded them could adopt, especially as it may 
have been retained in use by their confederates the Midianites ; 
and it appears in the earliest annals of Israel as a token of 
the former supremacy of Joseph and his tribe, and was 
subsequently adopted as an image of lahveh himself. 

So, speaking of Egypt, Mr. Frazer writes : " Osiris was 
regularly identified with the bull Apis of Memphis and the 
bull Mnevis of Heliopolis. But it is hard to say whether 

^ Schliemann, " Ilios," 112 ; Rawlinson, "Herodotus," ii. 27 sq., 41 ; 
Ewald, " History of Israel," ii. 4; Robertson- Smith, "Kinship," 196; 
Frazer, " Golden Bough,*' ii. 40. 

3 Campbell, " Notes," 285. 

8 Gubematis, " Zoological Mythology," i. 3 sqq. ; Cox, " Introduction," 
151 sqq. ; Kuenen, " Religion of Israel," i. 236 sq. ; Goldziher, " Mythology 
among the Hebrews/* 226, 343 ; Wake, " Serpent-worship," 35 ; Spencer, 
" Principles of Sociology," i. 340 ; McLennan, " Fortnightly Review," 1870, 
p. 199. 

Animal Worship. 229 

these bulls were embodiments of him as the corn spirit, as 
the red oxen appear to have been, or whether they were not 
entirely distinct deities which got fused with Osiris by syncre- 
tism. The fact that these two bulls were worshipped by all 
the Eg}rptians, seems to put them on a different footing from 
the ordinary sacred animals, whose cults were purely local. 
Hence, if the latter were evolved from totems, as they pro- 
bably were, some other origin would have to be found for the 
worship of Apis and Mnevis. If these bulls were not origin- 
ally embodiments of the corn god Osiris, they may possibly 
be descendants of the sacred cattle worshipped by a pastoral 
people. If this were so, ancient Egypt would exhibit a strati- 
fication of the three great types of religion corresponding to 
the three great stages of society. Tot^mism or (roughly 
speaking) the worship of wild animals — the religion of society 
in the hunting stage — ^would be represented by the worship 
of the local sacred animals ; the worship of cattle — ^the 
religion of society in the pastoral stage — ^would be repre- 
sented by the cults of Apis and Mnevis ; and the worship of 
cultivated plants, especially of corn — the religion of society 
in the agricultural stage — would be represented by the wor- 
ship of Osiris and Isis. The Egyptian reverence for cows, 
which were never killed, might belong either to the second or V 
third of these stages." ^ 

There is some evidence that the same process of religious 
development may have taken place in India. It is at least 
significant that the earlier legends represent Indra as created 
from a cow ; and we know that Indra was the Kuladevatal or 
family godling of the race of the Kusikas, as Krishna was 
probably the clan deity of some powerful confederation of 
Rijput tribes. Cow- worship is thus closely connected with 
Indra and with Krishna in his forms as the " herdman god," 
Govinda or Gop&la ; and it is at least plausible to conjecture 
that the worship of the cow may have been due to the absorp- 
tion of the animal as a tribal totem of the two races, who 
venerated these two divinities. 

Further, the phallic significance of the worship, in its 
^ " Golden Bough/' ii. 60. 

230 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

modern form at least, and its connection with fertility can- 
not be altogether ignored.* This is particularly shown in the 
close connection between Siva's bull Nandi and the Lingam 
worship ; and there seems reason to suspect that the bull is 
intended to intercept the evil influences which in the popu- 
lar belief are continually emitted from the female principle 
through the Yon!. As we have already seen, the dread of 
this form of pollution is universal. Hence when the Lingam 
is set up in a new village the people are careful in turning 
the spout of the Yoni towards the jungle, and not in the 
direction of the roads and houses, lest its evil influence should 
be communicated to them; and in order still further to 
secure this object, the bull Nandi is placed sitting as a 
guardian between the Yoni and the inhabited site.* 

Cow-worship assumes another form in connection with the 
theory of transmigration. It has become part of the theory 
y^ that the soul migrates into the cow immediately preceding 
its assumption of the human form, and she escorts the soul 
across the dreaded river Vaitarani, which bounds the lower 

Cow-woRSHiP: Its Later Development. 

Though cow-worship was little known in the Vedic period, 
by the time of the compilation of the Institutes of Manu it 
had become part of the popular belief. He classes the 
slaughter of a cow or bull among the deadly sins ; " the 
preserver of a cow or a Br&hman atones for the crime of kill- 
ing a priest ; '* ' and we find constant references in the 
mediaeval folk-lore to the impiety of the Savaras and other 
DrUvidian races who killed and ate the sacred animal. Sakti- 
deva one day, " as he was standing on the roof of his palace, 
saw a Chandila coming along with a load of cow's flesh, and 
said to his beloved Vindumati : ' Look, slender one ! How 
can the evil-doer eat the flesh of cows, that are the object of 
veneration to the three worlds ? ' Then Vindumati, hear- 

1 Hartland, " Lejjend of Perseus/' i. 158. 

2 Sellon, " Memoirs Anthropological Society of London," i. 328. 
» " Institutes,"* xi. 60, 80. 

Animal Worship. 231 

ing that, said to her husband : * The wickedness of this act is 
inconceivable ; what can we say in palliation of it ? I have 
been bom in this race of fishermen for a very small offence 
owing to the might of cows. But what can atone for this 
man's sin ? * " ^ 

Re-birth through the Cow. 

When the horoscope forebodes some crime or special 
calamity, the child is clothed in scarlet, a colour which re- 
pels evil influences, and tied on the back of a new sieve, 
which, as we have seen, is a powerful fetish. This is passed 
through the hindlegs of a cow, forward through the forelegs 
towards the mouth, and again in the reverse direction, signi- 
fying the new birth from the sacred animal. The usual wor- 
ship and aspersion take place, and the father smells his child, 
as the cow smells her calf. This rite is known as the Hiranya- 
garbha, and not long since the Mah&r&ja of Travancore was 
passed in this way through a cow of gold.' 

The same idea is illustrated in the legend of the Pushkar 
Lake, which probably represents a case of that fusion of 
races which undoubtedly occurred in ancient times. The 
story runs that Brahma proposed to do worship there, but 
was perplexed where he should perform the sacrifice, as he 
had no temple on earth like the other gods. So he collected 
all the other gods, but the sacrifice could not proceed as 
Savitri alone was absent ; and she refused to come without 
Lakshml, P&rvati, and Indr^nl. On hearing of her refusal, 
Brahma was wroth, and said to Indra : " Search me out a 
girl that I may marry her and commence the sacrifice, for 
the jar of ambrosia weighs heavy on my head." Accordingly 
Indra went and found none but a GAjar's daughter, whom he 
purified, and passing her through the body of a cow, brought 
her to Brahma, telling him what he had done. Vishnu said : 
" BrAhmans and cows are really identical ; you have taken 
her from the womb of a cow, and this may be considered a 
second birth." Siva said : " As she has passed through a 

» Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," i. 227. 

3 " North Indian Notes and Queries/' iii. 215. 

232 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

cow, she shall be called G&yatri." The Br&hmans agreed 
that the sacrifice might now proceed ; and Brahma having 
married Giyatrl, and having enjoined silence upon her, 
placed on her head the jar of ambrosia and the sacrifice was 

Respect Paid to the Cow. 

The respect paid to the cow appears everywhere in 
folk-lore. We have the cow Kdmadhenii, known also as 
K4madugh4 or Kdmaduh, the cow of plenty, SavaU, "the 
spotted one," and Surabht, "the fragrant one," which 
grants all desires. Among many of the lower castes the 
cow-shed becomes the family temple.' In the old ritual, 
the bride, on entering her husband's house, was placed on 
a red bulPs hide as a sign that she was received into the 
tribe, and in the Soma sacrifice the stones whence the 
liquor was produced were laid on the hide of a bull. When 
a disputed boundary is under settlement, a cow skin is 
placed over the head and shoulders of the arbitrator, who 
is thus imbued with the divine influence, and gives a just 
decision. It is curious that until quite recently there was a 
custom in the Hebrides of sewing up a man in the hide of 
a bull, and leaving him for the night on a hill-tpp, that he 
might become a spirit medium.* The pious Hindu touches 
the cow's tail at the moment of dissolution, and by her aid 
he is carried across the dread river of death. I have nwjre 
than once seen a criminal ascend the scaffold with the 
utmost composure when he was allowed to grasp a cow's 
tail before the hangman did his office. The tail of the cow 
is also used in the marriage ritual, and the tail of the wild 
cow, though nowadays only used by grooms, was once the 
symbol of power, and waved over the ruler to protect him 
from evil spirits. Quite recently I found that one of the 
chief BrUhman priests at the sacred pool of Hardw&r keeps 

^ Atkinson, " Himalayan Gazetteer," ii. 914 ; " R^jputina Gazetteer,*" 
ii. 67. 

^ " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 39. 

* Miss Gordon-Cumming, "From the Hebrides to the Himalaya,** 
i. 141. 

Animal Worship. 233 

a wild cow's tail to wave over his clients, and scare demons 
from them when they are bathing in the Brahma Kund or 
sacred pool. 

The Hill legend tells how Siva once manifested himself 
in his fiery form, and Vishnu and Brahma went in various 
directions to see how far the light extended. On their re- 
turn Vishnu declared that he had been unable to find out 
how far the light prevailed ; but Brahma said that he had 
gone beyond its limits. Vishnu then called on KimadhenA, 
the celestial cow, to bear testimony, and she corroborated 
Brahma with her tongue, but she shook her tail by way of 
denying the statement. So Vishnu cursed her that her 
mouth should be impure, but that her tail should be held 
holy for ever.* 

Modern Cow-worship. 

There are numerous instances of modern cow-worship. 
The J4ts and GOjars adore her under the title of G&t 
Mdtd, " Mother cow." The cattle are decorated and sup- 
plied with special food on the Gopashtami or Gokulash- 
tami festival, which is held in connection with the Krishna 
cultus. In NepAl there is a New&ri festival, known as the 
GS,fe Jitra, or cow feast, when all persons who have lost 
relations 4uring the year ought to disguise themselves as 
cows and dance round the palace of the king.' In many 
of the Central Indian States, about the time of the Diw41i, 
the Maun Char4An, or silent tending of cattle, is performed. 
The celebrants rise at daybreak, wash and bathe, anoint 
their bodies with oil, and hang garlands of flowers round 
their necks. All this time they remain silent and com- 
municate their wants by signs. When all is ready they 
go to the pasture in procession in perfect silence. Each of 
them holds a peacock's feather over his shoulder to scare 
demons. They remain in silence with the cattle for an 
hour or two, and then return home. This is followed by 

1 Atkinson, ioc, «/., ii. 771 ; Wright, ** History of Nepal," 82. 
' "Panjib Notes and Queries," iii. 109. 


234 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

an entertainment of wrestling among the Ahirs or cow- 
herds. Whennight has come, a gun is fired, and the Mih4- 
r4ja breaks his fast and speaks. The rite is said to be in 
commemoration of Krishna feeding the cows in the pastures 
of the land of Braj.^ 

During an eclipse, the cow, if in calf, is rubbed on the 
horns and belly with red ochre to repel the evil influence, 
and prevent the calf being born blemished. Cattle are not 
worked on the Amdvas or Ides of the month. There are 
many devices, such as burning tiger's flesh, and similar 
prophylactics, in the cow-house to drive away the demon 
of disease. So, on New Year's Day the Highlander used to 
fumigate his cattle shed with the smoke of juniper.' Cow 
hair is regarded as an amulet against disease and danger, 
in the same way as the hair of the yak was valued by the 
people of Central Asia in the time of Marco Polo.' An ox 
with a fleshy excrescence on his eye is regarded as sacred, 
and is known as Nadiya or Nandi, " the happy one," the 
title of the bull of Siva. He is not used for agriculture, 
but given to a Jogi, who covers him with cowry shells, and 
carries him about on begging excursions. One of the most 
unpleasant sights at the great bathing fairs, such as those 
of Prayig or Hardwir, is the malformed cows and oxen 
which beggars of this class carry about and exhibit. The 
Gonds kill a cow at a funeral, and hang the tail on the 
grave as a sign that the ceremonies have been duly per- 
formed." The Kurkus sprinkle the blood of a cow on the 
grave, and believe that if this be not done the spirit of the 
departed refuses to rest, and returns upon earth to haunt 
the survivors.* The Vrishotsarga practised by Hindus on 
the eleventh day after death, when a bull calf is branded 
and let loose in the name of deceased, is apparently an 
attempt to shift on the animal the burden of the sins of the 
dead man, if it be not a survival of an actual sacrifice. 

^ ** North Indian Notes and Queries," i. 154. 

« Dyer, '' Popular Customs," 18. » Yule, « Marco Polo," ii. 341. 

* Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 283. 

* " Indian Antiquary," i. 348 sq. 

Animal Worship. 235 

Feeling against Cow-killing. 

Of the unhappy agitation against cow-killing, which has 
been in recent years such a serious problem to the British 
Government in Northern India, nothing further can be said 
here. To the orthodox Hindu, killing a cow, even acci- 
dentally, is a serious matter, and involves the feeding of 
Brdhmans and the performance of pilgrimages. In the 
Hills a special ritual is prescribed in the event of a plough 
ox being killed by accident.* The idea that misfortune 
follows the killing of a cow is common. It used to be said 
that storms arose on the Plr Panj&l Pass in Kashmir if a 
<:ow was killed." 

General Sleeman gives a case at S4gar, where an epidemic 
was attributed to the practice of cattle slaughter, and a 
popular movement arose for its suppression.' Sindhia 
offered Sir John Malcolm in 1802 an additional cession of 
territory if he would introduce an article into the Treaty 
-with the British Government prohibiting the slaughter of 
<:ows within the territory he had been already compelled 
to abandon. The Emperor Akbar ordered that cattle 
should not be killed during the Pach6sar, or twelve sacred 
days observed by the Jainas; Sir John Malcolm gives a 
-copy of the original FirmAn.* Cow-killing is to this day 
prohibited in orthodox Hindu States, like NepAl. 

BuLL-woRSriip among BanjAras. 

There is a good example of bull-worship among the 
wandering tribe of Banj&ras. " When sickness occurs, 
they lead the sick man to the foot of the bullock called 
Hatddiya ; for though they say that they pay reverence to 
images, and that their religion is that of the Sikhs, the 
object of their worship is this Hat&diya, a bullock devoted 
to the god B&lajt. On this animal no burden is ever laid, 

^ Atkinson, ** HimAlayan Gazetteer,'* ii. 913. 

' Jarrett, " Afn-i-Akbari," ii. 348, quoting Erskine ; " Babar," Introduc- 
tion, 47. 

» " Rambles," i. 199 sqq. * " Central India," i. 329, note; ii. 164. 

236 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

but he is decorated with streamers of red-dyed silk and 
tinkling bells, with many brass chains and rings on neck 
and feet, and strings of cowry shells and silken tassels 
hanging in all directions. He moves steadily at the head 
of the convoy, and the place he lies down on when tired, 
that they make their halting-place for the day. At his feet 
they make their vows when difficulties overtake them, and 
in illness, whether of themselves or cattle, they trust to his 
worship for a cure." The respect paid by Banjiras to 
C2fttle seems, however, to be diminishing. Once upon a 
time they would never sell cattle to a butcher, but nowadays 
it is an every-day occurrence.^ 

Superstitions about Cattle. 

Infinite are the superstitions about cattle, their marks,, 
and every kind of peculiarity connected with them, and this- 
has been embodied in a great mass of rural rhymes and 
proverbs which are always on the lips of the people. Thus, 
for instance, it is unlucky for a cow to calve in the month of 
Bhadon. The remedy is to swim it in a stream, sell it to a 
Muhammadan, or in the last resort give it away to a 
GujarUti Br&hman. Here may be noticed the curious 
prejudice against the use of a cow's milk, which prevails 
among some tribes such as the Hos and some of the 
aboriginal tribes of Bengal. The latter use a species of 
wild cattle, the Mithun, for milking purposes, but will not 
touch the milk of the ordinary cow.* 

The Buffalo. 

The respect paid to the cow does not fully extend to the 
buffalo. The buffalo is the vehicle of Yama, the god of 
death. The female buffalo is in Western India regarded as 
the incarnation of Savitri, wife of Brahma, the Creator. 

^ Balfour, ** Journal Asiatic Society Bengal," xiii. N.S.; Gunthorpe,. 
" Notes on Criminal Tribes of Ber^r," 36. 

* Ball, "Jungle Life," 165 ; "North Indian Notes and Queries," i.6o; 
" Calcutta Review," Ixxx. 53, 58. 

Animal Worship, 237 

Durgi or Bhav&ni killed the buffalo-shaped Asura Mahisa, 
MahisAsura, after whom MaisAr is called. According to 
the legend as told in the MArkandeya Purina, Ditl, having 
lost alj her sons, the Asuras, in the fight with the gods, 
turned herself into a buffalo in order to annihilate them. 
She underwent such terrible austerities to propitiate 
Brahma, that the whole world was shaken and the saint 
Suparsva disturbed at his devotions. He cursed Ditt that 
her son should be in the shape of a buffalo, but Brahma so 
far mitigated the curse that only his head was to be that of 
a buffalo. This was MahisAsura, who ill-treated the gods, 
until they appealed to Vishnu and Siva, who jointly pro- 
duced a lovely representation of a Bhavdnf , the Mahisdsur- 
mardanl, who slew the monster. This Mahisisura is 
supposed to be the origin of the godling Mahasoba, wor- 
shipped in Western India in the form of a rude stone 
covered with red lead. 

Another of these buffalo demons is Dundubhi, *' he that 
roars like the sound of the kettle-drum," who in the Ram4- 
yana bursts with his horns the cavern of Bali, son of Indra 
and king of monkeys. Bali seized him by the horns and 
dashed him to pieces. The comparative mythologists 
regard him as one of the forms of the cloud monster the 

Sadasiva, one of the forms of Mahideva, took the form 
of a buffalo to escape the Pindavas, and sank into the 
ground at Ked&rn&th. The upper portion of his body is 
said to have come to the surface at Mukhir Bind in Nepil, 
where he is worshipped as Pasupatinitha. When the 
Pindavas were freed from their guilt, they in their 
gratitude built five temples in honour of the hinder parts 
of the deity, which are now known as the Pdnch Keddr- 
Kedarn§.th, Madhya Maheswar, Rudrandth, Tungunith, and 

The buffalo is constantly sacrificed at shrines in honour 
of Durgd Devi. The Toda worship of the buffalo is familiar 
to all students pf Indian ethnology. 

^ GubernatiS) " Zoological Mythology," i. 75. 

238 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

The Antelope. 

The black buck was in all probability the tribal totem of 
some of the races occupying the country anciently known as 
Aryivarta. Mr. Campbell accounts for the respect paid to 
the animal by the use of hartshorn as a remedy for faint- 
ness, swoons, and nervous disorders.^ But this hardly 
explains the respect paid to it, and the use of its dung by 
the Bengal Parhaiyas instead of cowdung to smear their 
floors looks as if it were based on totemism.^ This too is 
shown by the regard paid its skin. As Mr. Frazer has 
proved, it is a custom among many savage tribes to retain 
the skin as an image of the deity which the animal repre- 
sented.* Hence according to the old ritual, the skin of 
the antelope was the prescribed dress of the student of 
theology, and it is still the seat of the ascetic* 

The antelope constantly appears in the folk-tales as a 
sort of Deus ex machina^ which leads the hero astray in the 
chase and brings him to the home of the ogress or the 
ensorcelled maiden.' In the Mah&bhirata, the King 
Partkshit is led astray by a gazelle, and King Pandu dies 
when he meets his wife Madri, because he had once killed 
under similar circumstances a gazelle with his mate. In 
the Vishnu Purana, Bharata loses the fruits of his austerities 
by becoming enamoured of a fawn. These fairy hinds 
appear throughout the whole range of folk-lore. A NepAlese 
legend tells how the three gods Vishnu, Siva, and Brahma 
once appeared in the form of deer, whence the place where 
they were seen is known as Mrigasthali.® 

The Elephant. 

The elephant naturally claims worship as the type of 
strength and wisdom. To the rustic he impersonates 

1 "Notes," 287. 2 Dalton, "Descriptive Ethnology,*' 131. 

^ " Golden Bough,'* ii. 93. * Manu, "Institutes," ii. 41. 

* Burton, "Arabian Nights," ii. 508; Tawney, "Katha Sarit Sigara," 
i. 166; Clouston, "Popular Tales,'' i.; "Gesta Romanorum,*' Tale xviii. 
« Wright, "History,** 81. 


//. 238. 

Animal Worship. 239 

Ganesa, the god of wisdom, the remover of obstacles, who 
is propitiated at the commencement of any important enter- 
prise, such as marriage and the like. Many legends are 
told to account for his elephant head. One tells how his 
mother Pdrvatt was so proud of her baby that she asked 
Sani to look at him, forgetting the baneful effects of the 
look of the ill-omened deity. When he looked at the child 
its head was burned to ashes, and Brahma, to console her, 
told her to fix on the first head she could find, which hap- 
pened to be that of the elephant. By another account she 
put Ganesa to guard the door while she was bathing, and 
when he refused to allow Siva to enter, the angry god cut 
off his head, which was afterwards replaced by that of 
the elephant. Again, one of his tusks was broken off by 
Parasurima with the axe which Siva, father of Ganesa, had 
given him. 

Again, there are the Lokapilas, the eight supporters of 
the world. These eight pairs of elephants support the 
earth. Indra with Air&vata and Abhramu support the east ; 
Agni with Pundarika and Kapili the south-east ; Yama with 
VAmana and Pingald the south ; S6rya with Kumuda and 
Anupam4 the south-west ; Varuna with Anjana and Anjana-^ 
vatl the west ; Viyu with Pushpadanta and Subhadanti the 
north-west ; Kuvera on the north with Sarvabhauma, and 
Soma on the north-east with Suprattka. As usual, there 
are differences in the enumeration. 

From these all the modern elephants are descended. As 
Abul Fazl writes : " When occasion arises people read in- 
cantations in their names and address them in worship. 
They also think that every elephant in the world is offsprings 
of one of them. Thus, elephants of a white skin and white 
hairs are related to the first, and elephants with a large head 
and long ears, of a fierce and bold temper, and eyelids far 
apart, belong to the second. Such as are good-looking, 
black, and high in the back, are the offspring of the third. 
If tall, ungovernable, quick in understanding, short-haired,, 
and with red and black eyes, they icome firom the fourth. 
If bright black, with one tusk longer than the other, with a 

240 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

white breast and belly, and long and thick forefeet, from the 
fifth. If fearful, with prominent veins, a short hump and ears, 
and a long trunk, from the sixth. If thin-bellied, red-eyed, 
and with a long trunk, from the seventh. And if of a com- 
bination of the preceding seven qualities, from the eighth." * 

Through India the reverence for the white elephant of 
Burma and Siam has arisen. The figure of the elephant 
appears on some of the pillars of Asoka. There is an 
elephant gate at Fatehpur Sikri, one of the King Huvishkaat 
Mathura, and another connected with the dynasty of Kanauj 
at DabhAon in the Azamgarh District. Delhi contains the 
remarkable elephant statues, believed by General Cunning- 
ham to have been erected in honour of Jaymal and Patta, 
the two Rdjput heroes who defended the Fort of Chithor 
against Akbar.' 

The elephant constantly occurs in folk-lore. In the pro- 
jection of its forehead it possesses a pearl, known as the 
Kunjara Mani, or Gaja Mukta, which is invested with 
magical qualities. In the folk-tales the wooden horse of 
Troy is represented by an artificial elephant filled with 
soldiers ; other elephants have the power of flying through 
the air ; in other stories, as in one of La Fontaine's fables, 
an elephant selects a king by raising him up with his trunk ; 
the elephant Kuvalyaptda is the guardian of a kingdom, and 
touching an elephant is one of the tests of a woman's chastity. 
We have also numerous instances of the metamorphosis of 
human beings into elephants.* 
^ The hair of the elephant's tail is in high repute as an 

amulet, and little village children, when an elephant passes, 
pat the dust where his feet have rested and sing a song, 
of which one version is — 

Hathi hathi, bdrdi 
Sone ki tarwdr di — 

'* Give us a hair, elephant, like a sword of gold." 

* Blochmann, " Atn-i-Akbari," i. 121. 

* Fiihrer, " Monumental Antiquities," 8, 73, 105, 188 ; Cunningham, 
"Archaeological Reports," i. 225. 

» Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sdgara," i. 73, 177, 328 sq. ; ii. 102, 215, 
500, 540; Knowles, " Kashmir Folk-tales," 17. 

Animal Worship, 241 

In Europe, it may be noted, the hair from the tail of a 
horse is commonly regarded as a cure for wens.^ 

In the Fatehpur District there is an elephant turned 
into stone. The famous Jaychand of Kanauj, it is said, as 
in the Carthage legend, offered to ParAsara Rishi as many 
villages as an elephant could walk round. It traversed an 
enormous extent of country, and finally halted at Irddatnagar, 
where it was turned into stone, and once a year an enormous 
fair is held in its honour.* 

The Cat. 
The cat is everywhere invested with demoniac qualities, 
and is the companion of the witch. In " Macbeth " the 
first witch says, " Thrice the brinded cat has mewed." 
Among Muhammadans the cat is a pure animal, and to kill 
a cat is very unlucky, and brings on trouble and sickness/ 
So, among Hindus, the killing of a cat can be expiated only 
by the performance of the rite known as the Prajapati 
Yajna, which secures the birth of male issue. They say 
that Mahddeva and P^rvatt were one day playing dice, and 
Pirvati called in Ganesa in his form as a rat to upset the 
dice with his tail and cause her to make a good throw. 
Mahideva was wroth, and called in a demon like a cat, but 
he was afraid to kill Ganesa. Then Mah^deva cursed any 
one in after days who should kill a cat. We have the same 
tale in the Rasdlu cycle, where the rat of Dhol Raja changes 
the course of the game between him and Rdja Sarkap. The 
cat is respected because she is the vehicle of Shashthi, the 
protectress of children, and part of the orthodox Hindu rite 
at dinner is giving food to the cat. Among the Oraons, as 
we have seen, the birth fiend Chordeva comes in the form 
of a cat. 

The Rat and Mouse. 

The rat is sacred as the vehicle of Ganesa. In Bombay, 
"" to call a rat a rat is considered by lower classes of Hindus 

* Black, " Folk Medicine," 152. ^ Fiihrer, loc. #//., 161. 


242 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

as unlucky, and so they call him Undir M4ma, or * the rat 
uncle.' He is so called because he is probably supposed to 
be the spirit of an uncle. It is considered a great sin to 
kill a rat, and so, when rats give trouble in a house, the 
women of the house make a vow to them that, if they cease 
troubling, sweet balls will be given to them on a certain day, 
and it is believed by the Hindus that when such a vow has 
been made, the rats cease troubling them for some time." * 
In parts of England it is believed that a field mouse creeping 
over the back of a sheep gives it paralysis, and that this 
can be cured only by shutting up a mouse in a hollow of 
the trunk of the witch elm or witch hazel tree and leaving 
it to die of famine.' 

The curiously deformed idiot boys which are collected at 
the shrine of Shdh Daula at Gujarat are known from their 
wizened appearance as the rats of Shah Daula.* 

The Squirrel. 

The little Indian squirrel is called in the Panjib RAma 
Chandra KSl Bhagat, or the saint of Rdma Chandra, because 
when he was building the bridge across the strait to Lanka, 
the squirrel helped by shaking dust from his tail, and the 
god stroked it on the back, hence the dark marks which it 
bears to the present day. Many of the Drividian tribes 
claim descent from the squirrel. 

The Bear. 

The bear is regarded as a scarer of disease, and sickly 
children are taken for a ride on the back of a tame bear or 
one of his hairs is worn round the neck as an amulet. It 
was Jdmbavat, the king of the bears, who carried off the 
celebrated amulet, Syamantaka. He was pursued by Krishna, 
to whom he surrendered the gem and gave him his daughter 
JS.mbavatt to wife. He afterwards with his army of bears 
assisted Rinia in his invasion of Lanka. 

^ Campbell, " Notes," 267. 2 Brand, " Observations," 739. 

3 ** Panjd,b Notes and Queries," iv. 2. 

Animal Worship. 243 

The Jackal. 

The jackal is an important character in the folk-tales, 
where he assumes the part taken in Europe by the fox. 
Many are the tales told of his acuteness. The pack is 
supposed to howl only at each watch of the night, and the 
leader says, Main Dilli ka Bddshdh h^n — " I am King of 
Delhi" thrice, and his companions say. Ho! hoi hoi — 
" Yes ! of course you are." 

The Hare. 

Of the hare in the moon we have spoken already, and 
also referred to the animal in connection with omens. In 
Cornwall, when a girl has loved not wisely but too well, she 
haunts her deceiver in the shape of a white hare.^ 

Birds: The Crow. 

Passing on to birds, the crow is a famous totem or sacred 
bird.^ It personifies in Indian tradition the soul of the dead 
man ; hence, to give food to the crows, known in Northern 
India as Kdgaur, is equivalent to offering food to the Manes, 
Rdma in the Rimiyana orders Sitd to make this offering, 
and Yama, in reward for its services, conceded to it the 
right of eating the funeral meats, for which reason the souls 
of the dead, when this food is given to the crows, are enabled 
to pass into a better world. Hence the bird is known as 
Balipushta or " nourished by offerings," and Balibhuj or 
" devourer of oblations." * 

In the Mahdbhdrata, the son of Drona, one of the few 
survivors of the Kauravas, sees an owl killing the crows on a 
sacred fig tree, and this suggests to him the idea of attacking 
the camp of the Pdndavas. This contest of the owl and the 
crow forms the subject of one of the tales of Somadeva/ 

^ Hunt, " Popular Romances," 377. 

^ For the crow in English folk-lore, see Henderson, " Folk-lore of the 
Northern Counties,'' 126 ; Gregor, " Folk-lore of N.E. Scotland,*' 135 sq. 

8 Gubernatis, " Zoological Mythology," ii. 253 sq. ; " Panjib Notes 
and Queries," i. 27. 

4 Tawney, ** Katha Sarit S&gara," ii. 64, 73. 

R 2 

244 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

The incident of the wicked crow, which bit the foot of SitA, 
is related in the R4m4yana. The Bhitus of Central India, 
a class of migratory athletes, worship Niriyana and the 
bamboo, with which all their feats are performed. When 
they bury their dead they place rice and oil at the head of 
the grave, and stand near to worship whatever animal comes 
to eat the offerings. They draw the happiest omen of the 
state of the departed from crows visiting the spot.* 

In the Garuda Purina a tale is told of a wicked hunter 
who was killed by a tiger in the depths of the forest, and his 
ghost became a troublesome Bhiit, until one day a crow 
carried off one of the bones and dropped it into the Ganges, 
when the sinner was at once carried in a heavenly chariot 
to the mansions of the blessed. This legend is localized in 
the Hills and tells how Karma Sarma was killed by a tiger 
in the forest. A crow took up one of his bones and carried 
it to the shrine at Tungkshetra, and such is the virtue of the 
soil there that the hunter was at once carried off to the 
heaven of Indra.^ 

Bhusundi is the legendary crow of the battlefield, who 
drinks the blood of the slain. He had more blood than he 
could drink in the wars of the two Asuras, Sumbha and 
Nisumbha, who contended with the gods. He just quenched 
his thirst in the wars of Rdma, but broke his beak against 
the hard, dry ground, which had soaked in the small amount 
of blood shed by the comparatively degenerate heroes of the 
Mahibhslrata. He now croaks over the armies as they go 
out to war, and looks for some Armageddon, when his thirst 
will at last be satisfied. 

Manifold are the ideas about crows and omens taken 

from their appearance and cawing. Some people think a 

crow has only one eye, which he shifts from one cavity to 

the other as he finds it convenient. In the Panjib, if a 

crow picks up a woman's handkerchief and then drops it, 

she will not use it, but gives it to a beggar.* The brains of 

1 Balfour, " Journal Asiatic Society of Bengal,'* N.S. xiii. 
3 Monier- Williams, " Brihmanism and Hinduism," 301 ; Atkinson, 
" Himilayan Gazetteer,'' ii. 329. 
3 " North Indian Notes and Queries,'' i. 15. 

Animal Worship, 245 

a crow are a specific against old age, but the cawing of a 
crow is ominous at the beginning of a journey. If a crow 
hops and caws on the roof a guest may be expected. 
Musalmdns have both fear and respect for the crow, because 
it was he showed Cain how to bury Abel. 

The Hand of Glory. 

It is a common belief in Europe that the Hand of Glory, 
or the dried-up hand of a criminal who has been executed, 
is a powerful charm for thieves. In Ireland, " if a candle is 
placed in a dead hand, neither wind nor water can extinguish 
it, and if carried into a house, the inmates will sleep the 
sleep of the dead as long as it remains under the roof, and 
no power on earth can wake them as long as the dead hand 
holds the candle." The hand of a dead man is also used to 
stir the milk when butter will not form.^ So, in Northern 
India, thieves have a superstition that the ashes of a corpse 
will, if sprinkled by the door of a house, prevent the inmates 
from awaking during the commission of a burglary. The 
Hand of Glory, according to Sir G. Cox, is "the light 
flashing from the dim and dusky storm-cloud,"* but this can 
hardly, with the utmost ingenuity, be invoked to explain 
the similar usage of Indian burglars, who carry about with 
them the stick out of a crow's nest, the Gad kl Lakri, which 
opens locks and holds the household spell-bound. The 
Indian thief, like his English brother, by the way, often 
carries about a piece of charcoal as a charm in his opera- 

The Fowl. 

Among some of the Indian races the value set on the 
fowl may possibly, as Mr. Campbell suggests, depend on 
the feeling that the spirits of the dead wandering near their 

1 Lady Wilde, "Legends," 81 sq., 172; ''Panjib Notes and Queries,** 
iii. 24; Brand, "Observations,** 732; Henderson, "Folk-lore of the 
Northern Counties," 239 sq.; Aubrey, " Remaines/' 197 ; "North Indian 
Notes and Queries,'* ii. 215. 

* ** Mythology of the Aryan Nations,** ii, 219 sq. 

246 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

ancient homes find an asylum in the domestic fowls/ At 
any rate, as a sacrifice, the black fowl is very generally 
preferred. This is so among the Drividian races of Central 
India. In Ireland the first egg laid by a little black hen, 
eaten the very first thing in the morning, will keep you from 
fever for the year.* In Germany it was held that to find 
treasure, that is to say, to scare the fiends which guard 
and hide it, one should use a black he-goat and a black fowl.* 
One of the Italian charms directs, "To bewitch one till he 
die, take a black hen and pluck from it every feather ; and 
this done, keep them all carefully, so that not one be lost. 
With these you may do any harm to grown-up people or 
children."* Another possible reason for the respect paid to 
the fowl is that the corn spirit is often killed in the form 
of a cock to promote the periodical yegetation of the 

The Dove and Pigeon. 

The dove is held in much respect by MusalmAns. " Among 
the Northern Semites the dove is sacred to Ashtoreth and 
has all the marks of a totem, for the Syrians would not eat 
it. It was not merely a symbol, but received divine honour. 
In Arabia we find a dove idol in the Qaaba, and sacred 
doves surround it." * So, the Kheshgi Pathins of Qasiir in 
the Panjib will not kill pigeons; they are similarly protected 
by Hindus at Bharatpur, and among Muhammadans they 
rank as the Sayyid among birds. In Northern India a 
house with pigeons is supposed to be safe from ghosts. 
The dove is believed to utter a peculiar note four times in 
succession, in which she bewails her neglected lover. She 
says, — 

Ayd thdy chald gayd. 

» " Notes," 264. 9 « Folk-lore," iv. 350. 

' Grimm, ** Teutonic Mythology," iii. 977. 

* Leland, " Etruscan Roman Remains," 354. 

* Robertson-Smith, '* Kinship," 196 sq. 

Animal Worship. 247 

" WhUe I was grinding flour and spinning, he came and 
departed." ^ 

The Goose or Swan. 

The goose or swan is possibly an illustration of what may 
be a tribal totem. It is said in the Bhdgavata Purina that 
at one time there existed one Veda, one god Agni, and one 
caste. This we learn from the commentator was in the 
Krita age, and the one caste he tells us of was named 
Hansa or Swan. The Kansas are, again, in the Vishnu 
Purina, said to be one of four castes or tribes existing in a 
district exterior to India, and finally we learn from the 
Linga Pur&na that Hansa was a name of Brahma himself. 
It is reasonable to suppose that we have a swan tribe in the 
Indian Kansas.' As an argument in favour of the theory 
that the Hansa was a tribal totem, we find that the Kalhans 
Rijputs of Oudh are said to take their name from the Kila 
Hansa or Black Swan; that Rijputs nowadays will not 
eat it ; and that the same respect is shown to a bird of 
allied type, the Brdhmani Duck, and its mate, the Chakwa, 
Chakwi of our rivers. They were once two lovers, separated 
by fate, changed into ducks, and all through the night they 
call sadly to each other across the broad stream of the 
Ganges, which keeps them apart. 

To the Hansa is ascribed the fabulous power of being 
able to separate milk from water after the two have been 
mixed together.' In England the goose is supposed to 
have some uncanny way of predicting weather.* In Welsh 
belief the wild goose is a witch, especially if first seen on the 
first Thursday night of the lunar month.* The ancient 
Greeks ascribed to the swan the gift of prophecy and song ; 
the sacred geese of the capital were respected at Rome, and 
the ancient Germans considered it a prophetic bird. The 

^ "North Indian Notes and Queries/' i. 12, 42, 60; ii. 29; iii^ 161; 
Grimm, " Household Tales, i. 367 ; ii. 428, 573. 
' McLennan, " Fortnightly Review," vi. 582. 
» Knowles, " Kashmir Folk-tales," 449. 
* Brand, " Observations," 699. * Rhys, " Lectures," 175. 

248 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

goose was a favourite Buddhist emblem, and a flock of them 
is depicted on the Lion Pillar at Betiya in TirhAt.^ 

In the story of Nala and Damayanti, a flock of these birds 
arranges the interviews between the lovers, and in the 
Mahabharata the Rishis take the form of a swan to convey 
the divine message. According to the comparative mytho- 
logists, it is needless to say, the Hansa is the sun.' 

Sundry Sacred Birds. 

Mention has already been made of Garuda, half man, 
half bird, the vehicle of Vishnu. He is the son of one of 
the daughters of Daksha, whom we have already met with 
in connection with the moon, and the sage Kasyapa. 
According to the Mahabharata, he was given leave to devour 
wicked men, but not to touch a Brahman. Once he did 
devour a Brdhman, but the holy man so burnt his throat 
that he wsis glad to disgorge him. In the RdmAyana we 
meet with Jat4yu, who is said to be a son of Garuda and 
king of the vultures. He tried to stop the chariot in which 
Rdvana was abducting SttA, and though wounded, was able 
to carry the news to Rdma. 

A bird known as the Malahiri or " filth destroyer " is a 
sort of totem of the Kanjar gipsies. If they see it singing 
on a green branch to the front or right, it is an auspicious 
omen, and they start at once on the prowl. 

So with the Khanjarit, in Sanskrit Khanjandkriti, the wag- 
tail, which is also known as Rim Chiraiya or " the bird of 
Rima." It is associated with Vishnu, because the marks 
on its throat are said to resemble the Sdlagrima. It comes 
from the heaven of R4ma in the end of the rains, and remains 
till the close of spring, and then bears back to Rima a report 
of the state of the world and the crops. When it first 
appears every one bows to it. A Sanskrit text lays down 
that when a person first sees the bird, if he be standing near 
a Brihman, or near water, or sitting on an elephant, or at 

1 Ferguson, " History of Indian Architecture," 54 ; Tennent, " Ceylon,** 
i. 484. 
" Gubematis, " Zoological Mythology," ii. 307 sqq. 

Animal Worship. 249 

daybreak, or when the bird is flying near or sitting on a 
serpent, it is considered propitious. * When a person first sees 
it in the east, it brings him good luck all through the year ; 
when seen in the south-east, it predicts loss by fire ; to the 
south-west, fighting ; to the west, acquisition of wealth ; if 
seen to the north-east, the observer will gain good clothes 
and jewels. He who sees it in the north-west will die. 
The superstitions in Europe connected with the magpie 
and cuckoo are of much the same class. In Ireland it is 
said, " Beware of killing the water wagtail, for it has three 
drops of the Devil's blood in its little body, and ill-luck ever 
goes with it and follows it." ^ 

The Ojhiyils or wizards of the Central Provinces sell the 
skins of a species of Buceros, called Dhanchirya, which are 
used to hang up in the house to secure wealth {dhan)^ whence 
its name ; and thigh bones of the same bird are hung round 
the wrists of children as a charm against evil spirits.* 

The Hoopoe. 

The legend of the hoopoe is thus told by Arrian : ** To 
the king of the Indians was bom a son. The child had 
elder brothers, who, when they came to man's estate, turned 
out to be very unjust and the greatest of reprobates. They 
despised their brother because he was the youngest ; and they 
scoffed at their father and their mother, whom they despised 
because they were old and grey-headed. The boy, accord- 
ingly, and his aged parents could no longer live with these 
wicked men, and away they fled from home, all three to- 
gether. In the course of the protracted journeys which they 
had then to undergo, the old people succumbed to fatigue 
and died, and the boy showed them no light regard, but 
buried them in himself, having cut off his head with a sword. 
Then, as the Brachmanes (Br&hman) tell us, the all-seeing 
sun, in admiration of this surprising act of piety, transformed 
the boy into a bird, which is most beautiful to behold, and 
which Uves to a very advanced age. So on his head there 

* Lady Wilde, " Legends," 177. * Hislop, " Papers." 6. 

250 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

grew up a crest, which was, as it were, a memorial of what 
he had done in the time of his flight/* ^ 

Somadeva gives another story of this bird. Rajatadanshtra 
one day saw his sister SomaprabhA playing on a Pinjara, and 
when she would not give it to him, took the form of a bird 
and flew away with it to heaven. She cursed him that he 
should become a bird with a golden crest, but promised that 
when in his bird shape he should fall into a blind well, " and 
a merciful person draws you out, and you do him a service 
in return, you shall be released from this curse." ' 

The Muhammadan tradition is that the Hudhud, or 
hoopoe, had the power of finding water which the devils 
have buried under the earth, and she assisted Solomon to 
find water for ablution, and helped him to find Bilqts, the 
queen of Sheba. In Sweden the appearance of the hoopoe 
is looked on as an omen of war.' 

The Woodpecker. 
So of the woodpecker, which is said to have been a R&ja 
in a former birth, and still to retain his royal crest. In 
Italian tradition the woodpecker {Picus Martis) is a digger 
in forests, where he lives alone and digs and hews, and knows 
all hidden secrets and treasures.* In India the Titihri, or 
sandpiper, is said to sleep with his legs in the air and thus 
supports the firmament. 

The Peacock. 
The peacock is, of course, a sacred bird. He is specially 
venerated by the Jats, who strongly object to seeing the 
bird killed near their villages. A bunch of the feathers is 
waved over the sick to scare the demon of disease. As we 
have already seen, it is a charm against snake-bite to 
smoke one of its feathers in a pipe. In Europe the loud 
calling of the bird presages a death. 

* "North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 178. 
2 Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," ii. 105. 

' Brand, " Observations,** 701. 

* Leland, " Etruscan Roman Remains," 272. 

Animal Worship. 251 

The Pheasant. 
Once upon a time the Mon41 pheasant of the Hills and 
the Kalchuniya had a dispute as to when the sun arose. 
The MonS.1 woke first and then walked between the legs of 
the other, who was so injured that he has never been able 
to do an3^hing but skip ever since. 

The Kite. 

Young kites do not open their eyes till they are shown a 
tit of gold. The best cure for weak eyes is to apply to 
them antimony mixed with the yolk of a kite's egg, a good 
instance of sympathetic magic, because the kite is the most 
long-sighted of birds. When sweepers suffer from rheumatic 
pains, they kill a kite on Tuesday, cut up the bones, and 
tie them to the affected part, which brings about an 
immediate cure.' 

The Partridge. 

The partridge and the peacock once contended in dancing, 
and when the turn of the partridge came he borrowed the 
T)retty feet of the peacock, which he has never returned 
since. R&ja Nala, at one period of his life, came under the 
malignant influence of Sani or Saturn and lost all he possessed 
in the world. At last, as he was starving, he managed to 
catch a black partridge and set about roasting it. But the 
ill-luck of the evil planet asserted itself and the dead bird 
•came to life and flew away. The result is the black marks 
of charring which still remain upon its body. Now it cries 
in the words, Subhdn tert qudrat — " Great is the power of 
the Almighty," because it was saved from the fire. 

The Parrot. 

Last among sacred birds comes the parrot. Of course, 
according to Professor De Gubernatis and his school, he 

^ " Panjib Notes and Queries," iii. 81 ; " North Indian Notes and 
<3ucries,** iii. 162. 

252 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

represents the sun.^ The bird appears constantly in the 
folk-tales as gifted with the power of speaking and possessed 
of wisdom. The wife of the sage Kasyapa was, according 
to the Vishnu Purdna, the mother of all the parrots. In 
the folk-tales we have the parrot who knows the four Vedas, 
who is like the falcon in the Squire's tale of Chaucer.' In 
others he warns the hero of fortune, befriends the heroine, 
and is the companion of R4ja Rasdlu.* The talking parrot 
constantly warns the deceived husband. The bird seems to 
have been a sort of marriage totem among the Drdvidian 
races, for images of it made of the wood of the cotton tree 
or of clay are hung up in the marriage shed among the Kols 
and lower castes in the North- Western Provinces, 

The Alligator. 

The alligator and crocodile are revered because of their 
habit of killing human beings. Writing of South Africa, 
Mr. Macdonald says: "To the Bathlapin the crocodile is 
sacred, and by all it is revered, but rather under the form of 
fear than of affection. I have often thought that the ' river 
calling ' of South Africa, where there are no crocodiles, is 
the survival of an ancient recoUection of the time when the 
ancestors of the present Kaffirs dwelt on the margins of 
rivers infested by these murderous brutes, and where they 
often saw their women drawn underneath when going to 
the river to fetch water." * The crocodile may thus be the 
type of many of the Indian water demons to whom reference 
has been already made. Hence, it is a general rule among 
savages to spare crocodiles, or rather only to kill them in 
obedience to the law of blood feud, that is, as a retaliation 
for the slaughter of men by crocodiles. In India it became 
a favourite form of religious suicide to be devoured by the 
crocodiles at GangasS^gar. Makara, a sort of marine monster^ 

^ " Zoological Mythology," i. 375. 

« Tawney, ** Katha Sant Sigara," ii. 18. 

» Temple, "Wideawake Stories," 139, 205, 255 sqq. 

* " Folk-lore," iii. 342. 

Animal Worship, 253 

half crocodile and half shark, is the vehicle of Kdmadeva, 
the god of love, and Gang4 Mdl is depicted as riding on an 
alligator. They are sometimes put into tanks and worshipped, 
and fishermen have a tradition that, if duly appeased, they 
never attack them.^ 


Fish are in many places regarded as sacred. The salmon 
of knowledge appears in the Celtic folk-lore.' The sacred 
speckled trout are found in many Irish wells, and the same 
idea prevails in many parts of Europe,' We find the fish 
figuring in the Hindu myth of the Creation. Manii, while 
he was bathing, found a fish in the water, which said, " I 
will save thee from the flood which shall destroy the world." 
The fish grew and was about to go to the ocean, when he 
directed Manu to build a boat. When the deluge came, 
the fish dragged the boat by his horn to a place of safety. 
The m)^h appears in other forms, more or less akin to the 
Hebrew story based on Babylonian tradition. 

There are many places in India where fish are protected, 
such as those at Kota and in the Mahdnadi river, the Betwa 
at Bhilsa, Hardwslr, Mathura, Mijzapur, Benares, Nepdl, 
and in Afghanistan.* In the Saraswata pool in the Himalaya 
lived the sacred fish called Mrikunda ; they are fed on the 
fourteenth of the light half of each month, and oblations 
are offered for the repose of the Manes of deceased relations.* 
It is a common custom among pious Hindus to feed fish at 
sacred places with a lakh or more of little balls of flour 
wrapped up in Bhojpatra or birch bark or paper with the 
name of R4ma written upon it. Their eating the name of 
the deity ensures their salvation, and thus confers religious 
merit on the giver. The fish is the vehicle of Khwdja Khizr, 
the water god, and hence has become a sort of totem of the 
Shiah Musalmdns and the crest of the late royal family of 

* " North Indian Notes and Queries," i. 4, 38. 

« Rhys, "Lectures," 553. » Lady Wilde, "Legends," 238 sq. 

* Rousselet, "India and its Native Princes," 402 ; " North Indian Notes 
and Queries," i. 76 ; ii. 57> 93 ; iii. 130- 

* Atkinson, " Himalayan Gazetteer," ii. 380, 775. 

254 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Oudh. Pictures of fish are constantly drawn on the walls of 
houses as a charm against demoniacal influence. 

The Fish in Folk-lore. 

The fish constantly appears in the folk-tales. We have 
in Somadeva the fish that laughed when it was dead ; the fish 
that swallows the hero or heroine or a boat.* In one of 
the Kashmir tales we have the fish swallowing the ring, 
which is like the tale which Herodotus tells of Polycrates. 
In another we have the Oriental version of the story of 
Jonah, where the merchant is found by the potter in the 
belly of the fish.' So, Pradyumna, son of Krishna and 
Rukmint, was thrown into the ocean by the demon Sambara, 
and recovered from the belly of a fish by his wife Miyi 
Devi. In many of the modern tales the fish takes the form 
of the Life Index. The king Bhartari, the brother of the 
celebrated Raja Vikramaditya, who is now a godling and 
spends part of the day at Benares and part at the Chundr 
Fort, had a fish, " the digestion of which gave him know- 
ledge of all that occurred in the three worlds." By a divine 
curse the nymph Adriki was transformed into a fish which 
lived in the Jumnd. Here she conceived by the king 
Uparichara, was caught by a fisherman, taken to the king 
and opened, when she regained her heavenly form, and 
from her were produced Matsya, the male, and Matsyi, the 
female fish, the progenitors of the finny race. The fish 
often plays a part in the miraculous conception myths, as in 
the Mahibharata we read of a fish which devours the seed, 
and a girl having eaten it brings forth a child. The fish 
incarnation of Vishnu possibly represents the adoption of a 
fish totem into Brdhmanism. It is needless to say that the 
legendary fish has been identified with the sun by the 
?chool of comparative mythologists.' 

^ Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sdgara," i. 24, 207 ; ii. 599. 

a Knowles, ** Folk- tales," 27, 158. 

' Cox, *' Mythology of the Aryan Nations," i. 292, note ; ii. 25 sq. 

Animal Worship. 255 

The Eel. 

The eel is a totem of the Munddri Kols of Bengal and of 
the Orions, neither of whom will eat it. In Northern 
England an eel skin tied round the leg is a cure for cramp. 
Eel fat, in the European tales, is used as a magic ointment, 
and gives the power of seeing the fairies.* 

The Tortoise. 

The tortoise, again, is sacred. Vishnu appeared as a 
tortoise in the Satya Yuga or first age to recover some 
things of value which had been lost in the deluge. In the 
form of a tortoise he placed himself at the bottom of the sea 
of milk, and made his back the basis on which the gods 
and demons, using the serpent Visuki as a rope, churned 
the ocean by means of the mount Mandara. The GanrAr, 
a tribe of Bengal fishermen, make sacrifices of the river 
tortoise to the goddess Kolokumdri, the daughter of the 
deep; this is the only sacrifice she will accept, and she 
brings sickness on those who fail to make this offering.^ 
The tortoise is a totem of the Mundiri Kols, and the 
KharwSrs and MAnjhis of Mirzapur worship clay images 
of it, which they keep in their house, because on one 
occasion it conveyed their first ancestor across a river in 

The Gonds have a similar tradition that the tortoise 
saved their ancestor Lingo from the clutches of the 
alligator. The tortoise is also a helper in one of the 
German tales.* In one of Somadeva's stories, the tortoise 
is sacrificed by a Br&hman to the Manes of his father.* 

The Frog. 
The frog, again, is invested with mystical powers. The 

^ Hartland, " Science of Fairy Tales," 65. 

2 Buchanan, " Eastern India," iii. 532. 

' Grimm, ** Household Tales," ii. 407. * Tawney, loc^ at, ii. 271. 

256 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

monstrous toad of Berkeley Castle is said to be really a 

In English folk-lore it is associated with witches, and 
wears a precious jewel in its head. Hindus believe that the 
female frog is the spirit of Mandodari, the wife of Rivana. 
It is a common belief that the fat of the frog forms a magic 
ointment which enables witches to fly through the air.^ 
According to a Scotch Saga, the middle piece of a white 
snake roasted by the fire gives a knowledge of supernatural 
things to anyone who shall put his finger in the fat which 
drops from it. According to one of the Indian legends, 
Agni, the fire god, took refuge in the water to escape the 
gods, but the frogs, suffering from the heat, informed the 
gods, and the angry deity cursed them that their speech 
should henceforth be inarticulate. The frog by his voice 
announces the coming of rain ; hence when rain holds off 
it is a common charm to pour water over a frog, another 
instance of sympathetic magic. 


Even insects are in some cases regarded with veneration. 
In Cornwall, the ants are " the small people " in their state 
of decay from off the earth ; it is deemed most unlucky to 
destroy a colony of ants.* 

The ant-hill is, as we have seen, used as an altar by some 
of the Dr^vidian tribes, and on it they take their oaths. 
Hence ants are carefully fed on certain days by both 
Hindus and Jainas, and are regarded as in some way con- 
nected with the souls of the sainted dead. We have in 
many of the folk-tales the ant as a helper. 

So, in many parts of the Panjab, the many-coloured 
grasshopper, which feeds on the leaves of the Maddr or 
great [swallow wort, is called R4mji-ki-ga6 or *' Rima's 
-cow," which reminds us of the respect paid by English 

' " Gloucestershire Folk-lore," 9. 

* Tawney, loc, cit, ii. 594 ; Grimm, loc, cit., i. 357. 

* Hunt, " Popular Romances,'' 130. 

Animal Worship. 257 

children to the ladybird insect.* So, the Greeks and 
Romans called the Cicada Mantis or '^the soothsayer/' 
and it is often delineated on their tombs as a charm against 
evil. Mystic powers of the same kind are attributed to the 
spider, and to Daddy Longlegs in our nurseries. 

The souls of the dead are believed to enter into flies and 
bees. Hence in parts of Great Britain news of a death in a 
family is whispered into the beehive.' In -one of Soma- 
deva's tales we find the monkeys trying to warm themselves 
over a firefly, which is gifted with various miraculous 
powers.* A fly falling into an inkstand is a lucky omen. In 
the Rdm&yana Hanum&n metamorphoses himself into a fly to 
reach Sttk, and there are many instances of this in the tales. 

Lastly, comes the Tassar silkworm. In Mirzapur, when 
the seed of the silkworm is brought to the house, the Kol 
or Bhuiyir puts it in a place which has been carefully 
plastered with cowdung to bring good luck. From that 
time the owner must be careful to avoid ceremonial im- 
purity ; he must give up cohabitation with his wife, he 
must not sleep on a bed, he must not shave nor have his 
nails cut, nor anoint himself with oil, nor eat food cooked 
with butter, nor tell lies, nor do ansrthing opposed to his 
simple code of morality. He vows to SingArmatl Devi 
that if the worms are duly born he will make her an 
ofiiering. When the cocoons open and the worms appear, 
he collects the women of his house and they sing the usual 
song as at the birth of a baby into the fam'ily, and some 
red lead is smeared on the parting of the hair of all the 
married women of the neighbourhood. He feeds his 
clansmen, and duly makes the promised ofiiering to Sing^r- 
matl Devi. When the worms pair, the rejoicings are made 
as at a marriage. 

In Bengal, in addition to these precautions, the women, 
apparently through fear of sexual pollution, are carefully 
excluded from the silkworm shed.* We have the same idea 

^ " Panjib Notes and Queries/' iii. 8. 

* Brand, ".Observations." 685. ^ " Katha Sarit Sagara," ii. 39. 

* Buchanan, "Eastern India," ii. 157. *' 


258 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

in the Western Isles of Scotland, where they send a man 
very early on the morning of the first of May to prevent 
any woman from crossing, for that, they say, would pre- 
vent the salmon from coming into the river all the year 

^ Dyer, " Popular Customs," 270. 



Simulacraque cerea figit 
£t miserum tenues in jecur urget acus. 

Ovidt Heroides, vi. 91, 92. 

From the Baiga or Ojha, who by means of his grain sieve 
fetish identifies the particular evil spirit by which his patient 
is afflicted, we come to the regular witch or wizard. He 
works in India by means and appliances which can be 
readily paralleled by the procedure of his brethren in 
Western countries.^ 

The Witch. 

The position of the witch has been so clearly stated by 
Sir A. Lyall, that his remarks deserve quotation. " The 
peculiarity of the witch is that he does everything without 
the help of the gods. It begins when a savage stumbles on 
a few natural effects out of the common run of things, 
which he finds himself able to work by unvarying rule of 
thumb. He becomes a fetish to himself. Fetishism is the 
adoration of a visible object supposed to possess active 
power. A witch is one who professes to work marvels, not 
through the aid or counsel of the supernatural beings in 
whom he believes as much as the rest, but by certain occult 
faculties which he conceives himself to possess. There is a 
real distinction even in fetishism between the witch and the 

* For the European witch, consult among other authorities Scott, 
"Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft,'* /ajj/»«y Chambers, " Book 
of Days,'' i. 356 sq. ; Gregor, " Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," 69 sq. ; 
Conway, ** Demonology," ii. 317, 327 ; Lubbock, " Origin of Civilization," 
245 sq. 

S 2 

26o Folk-lore of Northern India. 

brother practitioner on a fetish, or between the witch and 
the Shaman, who rolls about the ground and screams out 
his oracles ; and this line, between adoration and inspira- 
tion, vows and oracles on the one side, and thaumaturgy 
by occult, incomprehensible arts on the other, divides the 
two professions from bottom to top. Hence, the witch, 
and not the man who works through the fetish, is proscribed. 
Hence any disappointment in the aid which the aboriginal 
tribes are entitled to expect from their gods to avoid 
averting disease or famine, throws the people on the scent 
of witchcraft." * 

Again, "The most primitive witchcraft looks very like 
medicine in the embryonic state ; but as no one will give 
the aboriginal physician any credit for cures or chemical 
effects produced by simple human knowledge, he is soon 
forced back into occult and mystic devices, which belong 
neither to religion nor to destiny, but are a ridiculous 
mixture of both ; whence the ordinary kind of witchcraft is 

And he goes on to show how " the great plagues, cholera 
and the small-pox, belong to the gods ; but a man cannot 
expect a great incarnation of Vishnu to cure his cow, or find 
his lost purse ; nor will public opinion tolerate his going to 
any respectable shrine with a petition that his neighbour's 
wife, his ox, or his ass may be smitten with some sore 
disease." This, however, must be taken with the correction 
that, as we have seen already, the deities which rule disease 
are of a much lower grade than the divine cabinet which 
rules the world. The main difference then between the 
hedge priest and the witch is, as Sir A. Lyall shows, that 
the former serves his god or devil, whereas the latter makes 
the familiar demon, if one is kept, serve him. 

Witchcraft: How Developed. 

The belief in witchcraft is general among the lower and 
less advanced Indian races. Colonel Dalton's assertion that 

^ " Asiatic Studies," 79 sqq., 89 sqq. 

The Black Art. 261 

the JuAngs, who were quite recently in the stage of wearing 
leaf aprons, do not believe in witchcraft or sorcery, must be 
accepted with great caution. It is quite certain that all the 
allied Dr&vidian races, even those at a somewhat higher 
state of culture than the JuAngs, such as Kols, Kharwdrs, 
and Cheros, firmly believe in witchcraft. But all these 
people observe the most extreme reticence on the subject. 
If you ask a Mirzapur Hill-man if there are any witches in 
his neighbourhood, he will look round furtively and sus- 
piciously, and even if he admits that he has heard of such 
people, he will be very reluctant to give much information 
about them. 

A belief in witchcraft is, then, primarily the heritage of 
the more isolated and least advanced races, like the Kols 
and Bhtls, Santils and Th&rus. In fact, whatever may be 
the ethnical origin of the theory, it is at present in Northern 
India almost specialized among the Dr&vidian, or aboriginal 
peoples. It also widely prevails among those who lead a 
nomadic life and are thus brought more directly in contact 
with nature in her wilder and sterner moods, such as the 
Nat and the Kanjar, the HAbOra and the Sdnsiya. So, in 
Europe sorcery and fortune-telling, the charming of disease, 
the making of love philters, and so on are the function of 
the Romani ; and Mr. Leland hazards the supposition that 
Herodias was a gipsy.* 

The belief that a certain person is a witch is probably 
generated in various ways. Many a one becomes reputed 
as a witch from the realization of some unlucky prophecy, 
or the fulfilment of some casual, passionate curse or impre- 
cation upon an enemy or rival. The old Scottish rhymes 
exactly express this feeling : — 

There dwelt a weaver in Moffat toun, 
That said the minister would die sune ; 
The minister died, and the fouk o* the toun 
They brant the weaver wi' the wadd o* the lume, 
And ca'd it weel- waned on the warloch loon.' 

* ''Etruscan Roman Remains," 155. 

' Chambers, " Popular Rhymes of Scotland," 23. 

t62 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

With this is intimately connected the belief in the Evil 
Eye, and that certain persons have the power of calling 
down on their enemies the influence of evil spirits; and, 
as in Western lands, such a power is often attributed to 
persons afflicted with ugliness, deformity, crankiness of 
temper, liability to sudden fits of passion, epilepsy, and the 
like. Disease or death, famine, accident, or any form of 
trouble, never, in popular belief, come naturally. There is 
alwa3^ behind calamity some malignant power which selects 
the victim, and the attribution of this faculty to any one 
naturally regarded as uncanny, or who practises rites or 
worship strange to orthodox belief, is in the opinion of the 
rustic only reasonable. 

The Jigar Khor. 

One particularly dreaded form of witch is the Jigar Khor or 
liver-eater, of whom Abul Fazl gives a description : " One 
of this class can steal away the liver of another by looks 
and incantations. Other accounts say that by looking at a 
person he deprives him of his senses, and then steals from 
him something resembling the seed of a pomegranate, which 
he hides in the calf of his leg ; after being swelled by the 
fire, he distributes it among his fellows to be eaten, which 
ceremony concludes the life of the fascinated person. A 
Jigar Khor is able to communicate his art to another by 
teaching him incantations, and by making him eat a bit of 
the liver cake. These Jigar Khors are mostly women. It 
is said they can bring intelligence from a long distance in a 
short space of time, and if they are thrown into a river with 
a stone tied to them, they nevertheless will not sink. In 
order to deprive any one of this wicked power, they brand 
his temples and every joint of his body, cram his eyes with 
salt, suspend him for forty days in a subterraneous chamber, 
and repeat over him certain incantations." 

Of the modern Jigar Khors of the Panjdb we are told that 
when a witch succeeds in taking out a man's liver, she will 
not eat it for two and a half days. If after eating it she is 

The Black Art. 263 

put under the iniSuence of an exorclser, she can be forced to 
take the liver of some animal and put it back to replace 
that taken from the original victim.* In one of the tales of 
Somadeva the wicked wife of the barber is a witch, and 
when he is asleep she takes out his entrails and sucks them, 
and then replaces them as before.' 

The Witch in Folk-lore. 

We have already learned to look to the folk-tales for the 
most trustworthy indications of popular belief, and here the 
dark shadow of witchcraft overclouds much of their delicate 
fancy. Here we find the witch taking many forms — of an 
old woman in trouble, of a white hind with golden horns, of 
a queen. Others, like the archwitch KAlaritrl or " black 
night," are of repulsive appearance ; she has dull eyes, a 
depressed, flat nose. Her eyebrows, like those of the were- 
wolves or vampires of Slavonia,' meet together; she has 
large cheeks, widely parted lips, projecting teeth, a long 
neck, pendulous breasts, a large belly, and broad, expanded 
feet. *' She appears as if the Creator had made a specimen 
of his skill in producing ugliness." Like the Jigar Khor she 
obtains her powers by eating human flesh, or like modern 
witches, who claim to possess the Diyan kA, Mantra or 
Ddkinf s spell, by which she can tear out the heart of her 

The powers of such witches are innumerable. They can 
find anything on earth, can open or patch up the sky, possess 
second sight, can restore the dead to life, can set fire to 
water, can turn stones into wax, can separate lovers, can 
metamorphose the hero into any shape they please. They 
control the weather and cause storms and tempests. If 
they follow one they hate and measure his footsteps in the 
dust, he at once becomes lame.* 

* " North Indian Notes and Queries," i. 14. 

* Tawney, " Katha Sarit S4gara," i. 289. 

» Tylor, '* Primitive Culture," ii. 176 ; Tawney, ioc. cit,, i. 375. 

* Temple, "Wideawake Stories," 395; Tawney, Ioc, cit^ i. 157, 159, 
289, 340 ; ii. 164, 240 ; Brand, ** Observations/' 589 ; Rhys, " Lectures," 
199 : Hunt, " Popidar Romances/' 327. 

264 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

They carry on their unholy revels in cemeteries and 
cremation grounds. They meet under the leadership of the 
dreaded Bhairava, as German witches assemble on the 
Blocksberg. So Diana Herodias leads the Italian witches 
who meet at the walnut tree of Benevento, as those of 
Cornwall collect at Trewa.* 

Many witches obtain power over the fever demon. She 
fastens a string round the hero's neck, and by a spell turns 
him into an ape. She often kills a child, and the heroine, 
like Genoveva, is falsely accused, and expelled from her 
home, until the plot is discovered and she is restored to 
her husband's love. Lastly, we have the conflict between 
the powers of good and evil, the benevolent and malignant 
witch, which forms one of the stock incidents of the 
European folk-tales.' The malignant, liver-eating witch is 
naturally associated with the tomb-haunting badger. One 
of them appeared quite recently at AhmadS.b4d, and being 
supposed to carry off children in the disguise of a badger, 
was called Adam Khor, or the devourer of the sons of men.* 

Instruction in Witchcraft. 

Writing of Italy, Mr. Leland says : * — " Among the 
priestesses of the hidden spell, an elder dame has usually 
in hand some younger girl, whom she instructs, firstly, in 
the art of bewitching or injuring enemies, and secondly, in 
the more important processes of annulling or unbinding the 
spells of others, or causing mutual love or conferring luck." 

So, among the Agariyas of Bengal, there are old women, 
professors of witchcraft, who stealthily instruct the young 
girls. " The latter are all eager to be taught, and are not 
considered proficient till a fine forest tree selected to be 
experimented on is destroyed by the potency of their 
charms; so that the wife a man takes to his bosom has 

^ Leland, "Etruscan Roman Remains," 150; Hunt, loc, city 328. 
2 Dyer, " Popular Customs," 395 ; Tawney, loc. ctt, i. 313. 

* "Bombay Gazetteer," iv. 27; Temple, "Legends of the PanjAb,'' 
iii. 13- 

* Loc, cit., 3. 

The Black Art. 265 

probably done her tree, and is confident in the belief that 
she can, if she pleases, dispose of her husband in the same 
manner, if he makes himself obnoxious." * 

So, in Bombay, when a Guru, or teacher, wishes to 
initiate a candidate into the mysteries of the Black Art, he 
directs the candidate to watch a favourable opportunity for 
the commencement of the study, the opportunity being the 
death of a woman in childbirth. As soon as this event 
takes place, the candidate is instructed what to do. He 
watches the procession as the dead is being taken to the 
burning or burial ground, and takes care to see who the 
bearers are. He then takes a small tin box in his hand, 
and picking up a pinch of the earth out of the hind footsteps 
of the two rear bearers, he keeps the earth in the tin box. 
Then he watches where the dead body is being burnt, and 
goes home. 

" Next day he goes to the spot, and taking a little of the 
ashes of the corpse, puts it in the tin box. Subsequently, on a 
suitable day, that is on a new moon or on an eclipse day, 
he goes to the burning ground at midnight, and taking oflF 
his clothes, he sits on the ground, and placing the tin box 
in front of him, lights a little incense, and repeats the 
incantations taught to him by his guru or teacher. When 
he has practised the repetition of the incantations, the 
spirit Hadal becomes subject to his control, and by her help 
he becomes able to annoy any one he pleases. 

" Among the troubles which the witch or magician brings 
updh his enemies, the following are said to be the most 
common in the Dakkhin as well as in the Konkan. The 
witch causes star-shaped or cross-like marks of marking- 
nuts on the body of the person she has a grudge against. 
The peculiarity of these marks is that they appear in 
numbers in different parts of the body, and as suddenly 
disappear. The other troubles are the drying-up of the 
milk of milch cattle, or turning the milk into blood; 
stopping or retarding the growth of the foetus in cattle, and 
turning them into moles ; stealing grain or other field 
* Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 323, 

266 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

produce from the faxm-yards of the victim ; letting loose 
wolves, jackals, or rats into the victim's field ; pricking 
needles or thorns into the victim's eyes or body ; applying 
turmeric to the eyes of a female victim, or putting lamp- 
black into her eyes ; or tearing the open end of her robe ; 
and causing death to an enemy by means of a method of 
the Black Art, called MAth, literally ' a handful.' 

" The Miith generally consists of a handful of rice or Urad 
pulse (Phaseolus radiatus) charmed and sent by the witch 
against her enemy through the agency of the familiar spirit. 
It is likened to a shock of electricity sudden and sharp, 
which strikes in the centre of the heart, causes vomiting and 
spitting of blood, and may, if not warded against, end in the 
death of the victim. Practised experts pretend to see the 
Mtith rolling through the air, like a red-hot ball, and say 
that they can avert its evil consequences in two ways — 
either by satiating it, which is done so as to cause a little 
bleeding, and allowing the blood to drop on a charmed 
lemon, which is afterwards cut and thrown into a river ; or 
by reversing its action and sending it back to the person 
who issued it, which is done by charging a lemon and 
throwing it in the direction whence the MOth has been seen 
to come. The operation of a MAth is most dreaded in many 
parts of Bombay, and especially in the Konkan. Cases of 
sudden illness, blood vomiting, or sudden death are frequently 
attributed to the agency of a Mflth or charmed handful of 
rice or pulse sent by an enemy." ^ 

We have here examples of the dread of the woman dying 
at her confinement, which we have already noticed in the 
case of the Churel, and the nudity charm is also familiar. 

Witch Seasons. 

In Central India, witches are supposed, by the aid of their 
familiars, who are known as Bir, or ** the hero," to inflict 
pain, disease, and death upon human beings. Their power 
of witchcraft, like that of all Indian witches, exists on the 

» Campbell, " Notes," 203 sq. 

The Black Art. 267 

fourteenth, fifteenth, and twenty-ninth of each month, and 
in particular at the Diwilt or feast of lamps, and the Nau- 
rdtri or nine days devoted to the worship of Durg4. 

In the same way the Irish witches flit on November Eve, 
and " on that night mortal people should keep at home, or 
they will suffer for it ; for souls of the dead have power over 
all things on that night of the year, and they hold a festival 
with the fairies, and drink red wine from the fairy cups and 
dance to fairy music till the moon goes down."* Of the 
Allhallows demon Professor Rhys writes : " This night 
was the Saturnalia of all that was hideous and uncanny in 
the world of spirits. It had been fixed as the time of all 
others when the Sun god, whose power had been gradually 
falling off since the great feast associated with him on the 
first of August, succumbed to his enemies, the powers of 
darkness and of winter. It was their first hour of triumph 
after an interval of subjection, and the popular imagination 
pictured them stalking abroad with more than ordinary 
insolence and aggressiveness." ^ 

At other times the Indian witches appear, dress, talk, and 
eat like other women, but " when the fit is on them, they are 
sometimes seen with their eyes glaring red, their hair dis- 
hevelled and bristled, while their heads are often turned round 
in a strange, convulsive manner. On the nights of those 
days, they are believed to go abroad, and after casting off 
their garments, to ride about on tigers and other wild animals ; 
and if they desire to go on the water, alligators come Uke the 
beasts of the forests at their call, and they disport in rivers 
and lakes upon their backs till dawn of day, about which 
period they always return home, and resume their usual 
forms and occupations." ' 

Witches Taking the Form of Tigers. 

The idea that witches take the form of tigers is widespread. 
Colonel Dalton describes how a Kol, tried for the murder of 

^ Lady Wilde, " Legends," 78. ^ ** Lectures," 516 sq. 

» Malcolm, ''Central India," ii. 212. 

268 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

a wizard, stated in his defence that his wife having been killed 
by a tiger in his presence, he stealthily followed the animal 
as it glided away after gratifying its appetite, and saw that 
it entered the house of one PAsa, a Kol, whom he knew. He 
called out PAsa's relations, and when they heard the story, 
they not only credited it, but declared that they had long 
suspected PCisa of possessing such power ; on entering they 
found him, and not a tiger ; they delivered him bound into 
the hands of his accuser, who at once killed him. In expla-^ 
nation of their proceedings, they deposed that PClsa had one 
night devoured an entire goat, and roared like a tiger while 
he was eating it ; and on another occasion he had informed 
his friends that he felt a longing for a particular bullock, and 
that very night the bullock was carried off by a tiger.* 

Mr. Campbell gives a very similar story from Bombay, in 
which a man-eating tiger was supposed to be a witch in dis- 
guise.' All these stories very closely resemble the European 
were- wolf and similar legends.* In Mirzapur they tell a tale 
of one of the DrAvidian Bhuiydrs, whose wife went recently 
on the Pura Mamudr Hill, when an evil spirit in the form of 
a tiger attacked and killed her. This was after her death 
ascertained to be the case by the inquiries of the village 
Baiga, who now does an annual ceremony and sacrifice near 
the place. For such witch tigers the favourite remedy is to 
knock out their teeth to prevent their doing any more 
mischief and becoming the Indian equivalent of the 

Witches Extracting Substances from their Victims* 

Another remedy is thus described by Abul Fazl : " The 
sorceress casts something out of her mouth like the grain of 
a pomegranate, which is believed to be part of the heart 
which she has eaten. The patient picks it up as part of his 

1 Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 29a ' " Notes," 257 sq. 

» Tylor, ** Primitive Culture," i. 312 sqq. ; Henderson, " Folk-lore of the 
Northern Counties," 201 sq. 

* Balfour, " Cyclopaedia,*^' i. 961 ; Lyall, " Asiatic Studies," 85 ; " Panjib 
Notes and Queries,** iii. 7. 

The Black Art. 269 

own intestine and greedily swallows it. By this means, as if 
liis heart was replaced in his body, he recovers his health by 

The idea that witches extract substances out of a sick per- 
son's body is very common.^ The witch in Macbeth says, 
" I will drain him dry as hay." In the same way the original 
object of kissing is said to be to extract an evil spirit out of a 
person. Many people get a holy man to kiss a sick child and 
blow over some water which is given it to drink, and thus 
the evil spirit is removed. 

General Sleeman gives the case of a trooper who had 
taken some milk from an old woman without payment, and 
was seized with severe internal pains, which he attributed to 
her witchcraft. She was sent for, but denied having be- 
witched him. She admitted, however, that " the household 
gods may have punished him for his wickedness." She was 
ordered to cure him, and set about collecting materials for 
the purpose, but meanwhile the pains left him. 

Another man took a cock from an old Gond woman and 
was similarly affected. " The old cock was actually heard 
crowing in his belly." In spite of all the usual remedies he 
died, and the cock never ceased crowing at intervals till his 

He tells of another witch who was known to be such by 
the juice of the sugar-cane she was eating turning into 
blood. A man saw her staring at him and left the district 
at once. " It is well known that these spells and curses can 
only reach a distance of ten or twelve miles, and if you 
offend one of these witches, the sooner you put that distance 
between you and them, the better." 

Another witch was bargaining with a man for some sugar- 
cane. She seized one end of the stalk and the purchaser 
the other. A scufBe ensued, and a soldier came up and 
cut the cane in two with a sword. Immediately a quantity 
of blood flowed from the cane to the ground, which the 
witch had been drawing through it from the man's body. So 
we read of the two witches in the Italian tale, who " seeing 
1 Tylor, ** Early History," 276. 

270 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

that he would not go, cast him by their witchcraft into a 
deep sleep, and with a small tube sucked all his blood from 
his veins, and made it into a blood pudding which they 
carried with them. And this gave them the power to be 
invisible till they should return." * 

" It is the general belief that there is not a village or a 
single family without its witch in this part of the country. 
Indeed, no one will give his daughter in marriage to a family 
without one, saying, * If my daughter has children, what 
will become of them without a witch to protect them from 
witches of other families in the neighbourhood ? ^ " ' Sir John 
Malcolm notices the same fact. " In some places men will 
not marry into a family where there is not a Ddkini or witch 
to save them from the malice of others ; but this name, 
which is odious, is not given to those persons by their 
relations and friends. They are termed Rakhwdli or 

Witches and Cats. 

One sign of the witch is that she is accompanied by her 
cat. This is an idea which prevails all over the world. 
Thus, in Ireland, cats are believed to be connected with 
demons. On entering a house the usual salutation is, " God 
save all here except the cat ! " Even the cake on the griddle 
may be blessed, but no one says, " God bless the cat ! " * 
The negroes in Mussouri say " some cats are real cats and 
some are devils ; you can never tell which is which, so for 
safety it is well to whip them all soundly." * One explana- 
tion of the connection of witches and cats is that " when 
Galinthis was changed into a cat by the Fates, Hecate took 
pity on her and made her her priestess, in which office she 
continues to this day." * We have already seen that it is 
probably her stealthy ways and habit of going about at night 
which gave the cat her uncanny character. 

^ Leland, " Etruscan Roman Remains," 218. 

• Rambles and Recollections," i. 84 sqq. 

' " Central India," ii. 216. * Lady Wilde, " Legends," 151. 

* Leland, loc, cit., 221. • Brand, " Observations," 609. 

The Black Art. 271 

The cat, say the jungle people, is aunt of the tiger, and 
taught him everything but how to climb a tree. The Ord.ons 
of Chota Ndgpur say that Chordeva, the birth fiend, comes 
in the form of a cat and worries the mother.* The Thags 
used to call the caterwauling of cats Kdlt ki Mauj\ or the 
roaring wave of Kill, and it was of evil omen. The omen 
could be obviated only by gargling the mouth in the morning 
with sour milk and spitting it out. We have already seen 
the danger of killing a cat. Z&lim Sinh, the famous regent 
of Kota, thought that cats were associated with witches, and 
on one occasion when he believed himself exposed to en- 
chantment, ordered that every cat should be expelled firom 
his cantonment.' 

Witch Ordeals. 

All the ordeals for witches turn on the efficacy of certain^ 
things to which reference has been already made as scarers. 
of evil spirits. 

Thus, the ordeal of walking over hot coals and on heated 
ploughshares was a common method of testing a witch both 
in India and in Europe.' Zdlim Sinh, however, generally 
used the water ordeal, a test which is known all over the 
world.* Even Pliny knew that Indian witches could not 
sink in water.* Manu prescribes water as a form of oath,^ 
and to this day it is a common form of oath ordeal for a man 
to stand in water when he is challenged to swear. Zdlim 
Sinh used to say that handling balls of hot iron was too 
slight a punishment for such sinners as witches, for it was 
well known that they possessed substances which enabled 
them to do this with impunity ; so he used to throw them 
into a pool of water ; if they sank, they were innocent ; if 
they, unhappily, came to the surface, their league with the 
powers of darkness was apparent. A bag of cayenne pepper 

1 Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 252. 
' Malcolm, ** Central India," ii. 214, note. 
» Leland, loc, city,S7 ; Brand, loc, ciU, 740 ; Clouston, " Popular Tales," 

i. 177- 
* Tod, " Annals," ii. 106. * " Natural History," vii. 2. 

272 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

tied over the head, if it failed to suffocate, afforded another 

" The most humane method employed was rubbing the 
eyes with a well-dried capsicum ; and certainly if they could 
furnish the demonstration of their innocence by withholding 
tears, they might justly be deemed witches." * Akin to these 
tests is the folk-tale ordeal by which the calumniated heroine 
bathes in boiling oil to prove her chastity.* 

Santal Witch Ordeals. 

Forbes gives the tests in vogue in his day among the 
Sant&ls, whom he calls Soontaar. Branches of the S41 tree 
(Skorea robt^sta) marked with the names of all the females 
of the village, whether married or unmarried, who had 
attained the age of twelve years, were planted in the morn- 
ing in water for the space of four and a half hours ; and the 
withering of any of these branches was proof of witchcraft 
against the person whose name was attached to it. Small 
portions of rice enveloped in pieces of cloth marked as 
before, were placed in a nest of white ants ; the consumption 
of the rice in any of the bags was proof of witchcraft against 
the woman whose name it bore. Lamps were lighted at 
night ; water was placed in cups made of leaves, and mustard 
oil was poured drop by drop into the water, while the name 
of each woman in the village was pronounced. The appear- 
ance of the shadow of any woman in the water during the 
ceremony proved her to be a witch.' 

Witch Tests, BilIspur. 

One of the most noted witch-finders in the BilAspur 
District of the Central Provinces had two most effectual 
means of checkmating the witches. " His first effort was to 
get the villagers to describe the marked eccentricities of the 
old women of the community, and when these had been 

1 Tod, "Annals," ii. 638 ; Malcolm, loc. city ii. 212. 
• Temple, " Legends of the Panjib," i. Introduction, xxij; " Wideawake 
Stories," 429. 
' " Oriental Memoirs," ii. 374 sq. 

The Black Art. 273 

detailed, his experience soon enabled him to seize on some 
ugly or unlucky idiosyncrasy, which indicated in un- 
mistakable clearness the unhappy offender. If no con- 
clusion could be arrived at in this way, he lighted an 
ordinary earthen lamp, and repeating consecutively the 
name of each woman in the village, he fixed on the witch or 
witches by the flicker of the wick when the name or names 
were mentioned. The discovery of the witch soon led to 
her being grossly maltreated, and, under the Native Govern- 
ment, almost invariably in her death. Since the intro- 
duction of the British rule these cases are becoming year 
year rarer; but the belief itself remains strong and 
universal, and the same class of superstitions pervades 
every-day life." * 

Witch Tests, Bastar. 
In Bastar, " a fisherman's net is wound round the head of 
the suspected witch to prevent her escaping or bewitching 
her guards. Two leaves of the Pipal or sacred fig tree, one 
representing her and the other her accusers, are thrown 
upon her outstretched hands. If the leaf in her name fall 
uppermost, she is supposed to be a suspicious character ; if 
the leaf fall with the lower part upwards, it is possible that 
she may be innocent, and popular opinion is in her favour." 
The final test is the usual water ordeal.' 

Miscellaneous Tests : Eggs. 
Several persons, natives of the Khasiya Hills, were con- 
victed of beating to death a man whom they believed to be a 
wizard. They confessed freely, saying that he destroyed 
their wives and daughters by witchcraft. One of the 
accused was the brother of the wife of the deceased. It 
appears that they discovered he was a sorcerer by the 
appearance of an egg when broken.^ A similar case is 
reported among the Banjdras of Berdr.* The use of eggs 

* " Central Provinces Gazetteer," no sq. • Ibid., 39 
» "Reports Nizimat AdAlat," 14th December, 1854. 

* " Berir Gazetteer," 197. 


274 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

in this way opens up an interesting chapter in folk-lore. 
Thus, we have the famous legend which tells how a golden 
egg was produced at the beginning of all things, and from 
it Prajapati Brahma, the g^eat progenitor of the universe, 
was produced. This piece of primitive folk-lore appears in 
the folk-tales in the numerous stories of children produced 
from eggs.* In one of the Kashmir tales the egg of the 
wondrous bird has the power of transmuting anything it 
touches into gold.' Again, we have everywhere instances of 
the belief in the power of eggs as guardians against evil 
spirits. " An egg laid on Ascension Day hung to the roof 
of the house preserveth the same from all hurts." ' Children 
in Northumberland, when first sent abroad in the arms of 
the nurse, are presented with an egg, salt, and fine bread. 
In India, we constantly see the eggs of the ostrich hung up 
in mosques and tombs to repel evil influences. We have the 
same idea in the use of eggs at Easter in England. In the 
Konkan, Kunbis give a mixture of eggs and turmeric to a 
man who spits blood ; and to remove the effects of the Evil 
Eye, they wave bread and an egg round a sick person. The 
Sult4nk4rs, when their wives are possessed with evil spirits, 
offer rice, a fowl, and an egg, and the spirit passes away^ 
The Beni Israels, to avert evil, break a hen's egg under the 
forefoot of the bridegroom's horse.^ 

There is another form of witch test in Chhatlsgarh, where 
a pole of a particular wood is erected on the banks of a 
stream, and each suspected person, after bathing, is required 
to touch the pole ; it is supposed that if any witch does this 
her hand will swell. 

The Rowan Tree. 

According to British folk-lore, one of the most potent 
antidotes for witches is a twig of the rowan tree bound with 
scarlet thread, or a stalk of clover with four leaves laid in 

* Hartland, " Legend of Perseus," i. 98. 

* Knowles, " Folk-tales," ^^. 

* Dyer, "Popular Customs," 164; Brand, "Observations," 108, 341. 

* Campbell, " Notes," 83. 

The Black Art. 275 

the byre, or a bough of the whitty, or " wayfaring tree." * 
Many, in fact, are the herbs which are potent in this way, 
of which the chief is perhaps that Moly, " that Hermes once 
to wise Ulysses gave." In India, the substitute for these 
magic trees is a branch of the tamarind, or a stalk of the 
castor-oil tree {Palma Christi). If, after receiving in silence 
an ordinary scourging by the usual methods, the suspected 
person cries out at a blow with the magic branch, he is 
certainly guilty.' These plants are eversrwhere supposed to 
exercise power over witches, and even in places like the 
North- Western Provinces, where witch-hunting is happily a 
thing of the past, a Chamdr or currier, a class which enjoy 
an uncanny reputation, is exceedingly afraid of even a slight 
blow with a castor-oil switch. 

Witch-finding among Kols. 

The Kolarian witch-finder's test is to put a large wooden 
grain measure under a flat stone as a pivot on which the 
latter can revolve. A boy is then seated on the stone 
supporting himself with his hands, and " the names of all 
the people in the neighbourhood are slowly pronounced. As 
each name is uttered a few grains of rice are thrown at the 
hoy. When they come to the name of the witch or wizard, 
the stone turns and the boy rolls off." • This, no doubt, is 
the effect of the boy's falling into a state of coma, and losing 
the power of supporting himself with his hands. 

Marks of Witches. 

Some witches are believed to learn the secrets of their 
craft by eating filth. We have already seen that this is also 
believed to be the case with evil spirits. Such a woman, in 
popular belief, is always very lovely and scrupulously neat 

» "Folk-lore," ii. 290; Gregor, ** Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," 
188 ; Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 201, 218 sq., 
244 ; Aubrey, " Remaines," 247 ; Farrer, " Primitive Manners," 290 sq. 

• '* Central Provinces Gazetteer," 157. 

• Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 199. 

T 2 

276 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

in her personal, appearance, and she always has a clear line 
of red lead applied to the parting of her hair. Witches have 
a special power of casting evil glances on children, and 
after a child is buried, they are believed to exhume the 
corpse, anoint it with oil, and bring it to life to serve some 
occult purpose of their own. On the same principle the 
K&firs believe that dead bodies are restored to life, and 
made hobgoblins to aid their owners in mischief.^ Indian 
witches, moreover, are supposed to keep a light burning 
during the ceremony of child exhumation, and if the father 
or the mother has the courage to run and snatch away the 
child just as it is revived, and before the witch can blow out 
the light, the child will be restored to them safe and sound.* 

Charms Recited Backward. 

One well-known characteristic of witches is that she cannot 
die as long as she is a witch, but must while alive pass on 
her craft to another, is well recognized in India. Hence a 
witch is always on the look-out for some one to whom she 
may delegate her functions, and many well-meaning people 
have been ruined in this way through misplaced confidence 
in the benevolence of a witch.* 

Indian witches also resemble their European sisters in 
their habit of reciting their charms backward, — 

He who 'd read her aright must say her 
Backwards like a witch's prayer. 

And in **Much ado about Nothing," Hero says of 

Beatrice, — 

** I never yet saw man 
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured. 
But she would spell him backward.'' 

This backward recital of spells appears all through folk- 
lore.* Indian witches are supposed to repeat two letters 

^ Spencer, " Principles of Sociology,** i. 240. 

• " Panjib Notes and Queries," ii. 6. 

' See Leland, '' Etruscan Roman Remains," 199. 

* Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 32 ; Gregor, 
** Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," 183. 

The Black Art. 277 

and a half from a verse in the Qurin, known only to them- 
selves, and to say them backwards. We have the same 
belief in one of the tales of Somadeva, where Bhtmabhatta 
prays in his extremity to Mother Ganges, and she says, 
" Now receive from me this charm called * forwards and 
backwards.' If a man repeats it forwards, he will become 
invisible to his neighbour ; but if he repeats it backwards, he 
will assume whatever shape he desires." * The use of this 
charm enables the witch to take the liver out of a living 
child and eat it. But, in order to do this effectively, she 
must first catch some particular kind of wild animal not 
larger than a dog, feed it with cakes of sugar and butter, 
ride on it, and repeat the charm one hundred times. When 
dying, the breath will not leave the body of the witch until 
she has taught the two and a half letters to another woman, 
or failing a woman, until she has repeated it to a tree.' 

Witchcraft by Means of Hair, Nail Parings, etc. 

The idea is common in folk-lore that a witch can acquire 
power over her victim by getting possession of a lock of 
hair, the parings of his nails, or some other part of his 
body. In the " Comedy of Errors," Dromio of Syracuse 
says, — 

" Some devils ask but the parities of one's nail, 
A rush, a hair, a drop of blood, a pin, 
A nut, a cherry stone." 

In Ireland, nail-parings are an ingredient in many charms, 
and hair-cuttings should not be placed where birds can find 
them, for they take them to build their nests, and then you 
will have headaches all the year after.* The same is the 
case with the leavings of food, which should be thrown to 
the crows lest some ill-disposed person get possession of 
them. On the same principle English mothers hide away 

» Tawney, ''Katha Sarit Sigara,*' ii. 221. 
' " Panj^b Notes and Queries," iii. 7. 

• Lady Wilde, " Legends," 197, 206. See instances collected by Hart- 
land, ** Legend of Perseus," ii. 64 sq. 

278 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

the first tooth of a child.i There are numerous instances 
of these and similar beliefs all through the whole range of 
folk-lore. Hence natives of India are very careful about 
the disposal of hair-cuttings and nail-parings ; and it is only 
at shrines and sacred places of pilgrimage where shaving is 
a religious duty that such things are left lying about on the 
ground. In the GrihyasAtras it is provided that the hair 
cut from a child's head at the end of the first, third, fifth, or 
seventh year shall be buried in the earth at a place covered 
with grass or in the neighbourhood of water. The care- 
lessness shown at places of pilgrimage in this respect rests 
on the belief that the sanctity of the place is in itself a 
protective against sorcery. But some people do not depend 
on this, and fiing the hair into running water. At Hardw&r 
the barber at the sacred pool takes the hair which he keeps 
collected in a bag and fiings it into the air on the top of the 
neighbouring hill, at least he assures his patrons that he 
does so. 

Witchcraft by Means of Images. 

Another means which witches are supposed to adopt in 
order to injure those whom they dislike, is to make an 
image of wax, flour, or similar substances, and torture it, 
with the idea that the pain will be communicated to the 
person whom they desire to annoy. 

Thus, among Muhammadans, when the death of an 
enemy is desired, a doll is made of earth taken from a 
grave, or a place where bodies are cremated, and various 
sentences of the Qurdn are read backwards over twenty-one 
small wooden pegs. The officiant is to repeat the spell 
three times over each peg, and is then to strike them so as 
to pierce various parts of the body of the image. The image 
is then to be shrouded like a corpse, conveyed to a cemetery, 

' Aubrey, ** Remaines,** 11 ; and for examples of similar practices see 
Sir W. Scott, " Letters on Demonology/" 273 ; Spencer, ** Principles of 
Sociology,'* i. 243; Tylor, ** Primitive Culture," i. 116 ; ii. 149; Lubbock, 
" Origin of Civilization," 241, 244 ; Henderson, loc, cit, 148 ; Farrer, 
" Primitive Manners," 287 ; Oldenberg, " Grihya Sdtras," i. 57. ; Hart- 
land, " Legend of Perseus," ii. 70 sq. 

The Black Art. 279 

and buried in the name of the enemy whom it is in- 
tended to injure. He will, it is believed, certainly die after 
this rite is performed. The practice has becom.e a branch 
of the fine arts and numerous methods are detailed by 
Dr. Herklots.* 

It is almost unnecessary to say that similar ideas prevail 
in Europe. The wounded Melun in " King John " says : — 

*' Have I not hideous death within my view, 
Retaining but a quantity of life, 
Which bleeds away, even as a form of wax 
Resolveth from his figure 'gainst the fire ?" 

An old woman in Cornwall was advised "to buy a 
bullock's heart, and get a packet of pound pins. She was 
to stick the heart as full of pins as she could, and the body 
that wished her ill felt every pin run into the bullock's 
heart, same as if they had been run into her." ' Examples of 
such images may be seen in the Pitt-Rivers collection at 
Oxford. Sir W. Scott describes how, under the threshold 
of a house in Dalkeith, was found the withered heart of 
some animal, full of many scores of pins ; and Aubrey tells 
us of one Hammond, of Westminster, who was hanged or 
tried for his life in 1641 for killing a person by means of an 
image of wax. This was one of the charges made against 
the unfortunate Jane Shore.* 

In Bengal, " a person sometimes takes a bamboo which 
has been used to keep down a corpse during cremation, and 
making a bow and arrow with it, repeats incantations over 
them. He then makes an image of his enemy in clay, and 
lets fly an arrow into this image. The person whose image 
is thus pierced is said to be immediately seized with a pain 
in his breast." In the folk-tales restoration to life is usually 
effected by collecting the ashes or bones of the deceased and 
making an image of them, into which life is breathed/ 

1 " Qinftn-i-Islim," 222 sq. 

• Hunt, •* Popular Romances," 320. 

• "Letters on Demonology,'* 273 ; " Remaines,'' 61, 228 ; "Folk-lore," 
iii. 385 ; iv. 256 ; Miss Cox, ** Cinderella," 491. 

• Ward, "Hindus,** i. 100; Temple, "Legends of the Panj&b,» i. In- 
troduction, xvii ; and compare Tawney, " Katha Sarit Sigara," ii. 

28o Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Witchcraft through the Footsteps. 

It was a precept of Pythagoras not to run a nail or a 
knife into a man's foot. This, from the primitive point of 
view, was really a moral, not merely a prudential precept. 
For it is a world-wide superstition that by injuring the foot- 
steps you injure the foot that made them. Thus, in Mecklen- 
burgh it is thought that if you thrust a nail into a man's 
footsteps the man will go lame. The Australian blacks held 
exactly the same view. " Seeing that a Tutungolung was 
very lame," says Mr. Howitt, " I asked him what was the 
matter. He said, * Some fellow has put bottle in my foot.' 
I asked him to let me see it. I found that he was probably 
suffering from acute rheumatism. He explained that some 
enemy must have found his foot-track, and have buried in it 
a piece of broken bottle." ' The same feeling widely prevails 
in Northern India, and rustics are in the habit of attributing 
all sorts of pains and sores to the machinations of some 
witch or sorcerer who has meddled with their footprints. 

Punishment of Witches. 

The method by which witches are punished displays a 
diabolical ingenuity. The Indian newspapers a short time 
ago recorded six out of nine murders in the Sambalpur 
District as due to " the superstition, which is so general, 
that the spread of cholera is due to the sorcery of some 
individual, whose evil influence can be nullified if he be 
beaten with rods of the castor-oil plant. The people who 
are thus suspected are so cruelly beaten that in the majority 
of cases they die under the infliction." 

A milder form of treatment is to make the witch drink the 
filthy water of a washerman's tank, which is believed to 
destroy her skill.^ The punishment in vogue in Central 
India was to make witches drink the water used by curriers, 
leather being, as we have seen, a scarer of evil spirits, and 
drinking such water involves degradation from caste. In 

1 " Folk-lore," i. 157 : Hartland, •* Legend of Perseus," ii. 78. 
» " Hoshang^bid Settlement Report/' 287. 

The Black Art. 281 

more serious cases the witch's nose was cut off, or she was 
put to death,* 

In Bastar, if a man is adjudged guilty of witchcraft, he is 
beaten by the crowd, his hair is shaved, the hair being 
supposed to constitute his power of mischief, his front teeth 
are knocked out, in order, it is said, to prevent him from 
muttering incantations, or more probably, as we have already 
seen, to prevent him from becoming a Loupgarou. All 
descriptions of filth are thrown at him ; if he be of good 
caste, hog's flesh is thrust into his mouth, and lastly he is 
driven out of the country, followed by the abuse and execra- 
tions of his enlightened fellow-men. Women suspected of 
sorcery have to undergo the same ordeal ; if found guilty, 
the same punishment is awarded, and after being shaved, 
their hair is attached to a tree in some public place. In 
Chhattisgarh, a witch has her hair shaved with a blunt 
knife, her two front teeth are knocked out, she is branded in 
the hinder parts, has a ploughshare, which is a strong fetish, 
tied to her legs, and she is made to drink the water of a 

Witchcraft Punishments among the Dravidians. 

In former times among the Dravidian races persons 
denounced as witches were put to death in the belief that 
witches breed witches and sorcerers. A terrible raid was 
made on these unfortunate people when British authority 
was relaxed during the Mutiny, and most atrocious murders 
were committed. " Accusations of witchcraft are still some- 
times made, and persons denounced are subjected to much 
ill-usage, if they escape with their lives." ' Among the Bhils 
suspected persons used to be suspended from a tree head 
downwards, pounded chillies being first put into the witch's 
eyes to see if the smarting would bring tears from her. 
Sometimes after suspension she was swung violently from 
side to side. She was finally compelled to drink the blood 

* Malcolm, "Central India/' ii. 212 sq. 

• " Central Provinces Gazetteer,'' 39, 157. 
» Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 199. 

^82 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

of a goat, slaughtered for the purpose, which is regarded as 
a substitute for the sick man's life, and to satisfy the witch's 
craving for blood. She was then brought to the patient's 
bedside, and required to make passes over his head with a 
Ntm branch ; a lock of hair was also cut from the head of 
the witch and buried in the ground, that the last link 
between her and her former powers of mischief might be 

Other Witchcraft Punishments. 

Dr. Chevers has collected a number of instances in which 
the punishment of death or mutilation was inflicted on sup- 
posed witches. He quotes a case in 1802^, in which several 
of the witnesses declared that they remembered numerous 
instances of persons being put to death for sorcery ; one of 
them, in particular, proved that her mother had been tried 
and executed as a witch. In another case a Kol, thinking 
that some old women had bewitched him, placed them in a 
line and cut off all their heads, except that of the last, who, 
objecting to this drastic form of ordeal, ran away and 
■escaped. In another, the nose-ring of a suspected witch 
was torn out with such violence as to cause extensive lacera- 
tion. There are recorded instances of even more brutal 
forms of mutilation. A case occurred at Dhdka in which 
some people went to the house of a supposed witch, intend- 
ing, as they said, to make her discontinue her enchantments, 
and ill-treated her in such a shameful way as to leave her in 
a dying state. She appears to have been in the habit of 
prescribing medicine for children, and this seems to have 
been the only basis for the reports that she practised magic* 

Drawing Blood from a Witch. 

One favourite way of counteracting the spells of a witch 
is to draw blood from her. Thus, Professor Rhys, writing 

^ Chevers, ** Indian Medical Jurisprudence," 546 sq. 
' Ibid., 12, note, 14, note, 393, 488, 492, note, 493, 514; Ball, "Jungle 
Life,*' 115 sq. ; "Calcutta Review," v. 52. 

The Black Art, 283 

of Manxland, says": " There is a belief that if you can draw 
Wood, however little, from a witch or one who has the Evil 
Eye, he loses his power of harming you ; and I have, been 
told that formerly this belief was sometimes acted on. 
Thus, on leaving church, for instance, the man who fancied 
himself in danger from another would go up to him, or 
walk by his side, and inflict on him a slight scratch or 
some other trivial wound, which elicited blood." ^ In the 
First Part of " Henry VI." Talbot says to the Pucelle de 
Orleans, — 

" PU have a bout with thee ; 
Devil or devil's dam, PU conjure thee ; 
Blood will I draw on thee, thou art a witch." 

And Hudibras says, — 

'' Till drawing blood o' the Dames like witches, 
They're forthwith cur'd of their capriches." 

So at the present day in Mirzapur, when a woman is 
marked down as a witch, the Baiga or Ojha pricks her 
tongue with a needle, and the blood thus extracted is 
received on some rice, which she is compelled to eat. In 
another case she is pricked on the breast, tongue, and 
thighs, and given the blood to drink. The ceremony is 
most efficacious if performed on the banks of a running 
•stream. This is probably a survival of the actual blood 
sacrifice of a witch. 

Witch Haunts, 

'* In any country an isolated or outlying race, the lin- 
gering survivors of an older nationality, is liable to the 
imputation of sorcery."' This is exactly true of Asia. 
Marco Polo makes the same assertion about Pachai In 
Badakhshdn. He says the people of Kashmir " have 
extraordinary acquaintance with the devilries of enchant- 

1 " Folk-lore," ii. 293 ; Hunt, " Popular Romances," 315. 
« Tylor, •' Primitive Culture," i. 113. 

284 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

menty insomuch that they can make their idols to speak. 
They can also by their sorceries bring on changes of 
weather, and produce darkness, and do a number of things 
so extraordinary, that without seeing them no one would 
believe them. Indeed this country is the very original 
source from which idolatry has spread abroad." In 
Tibet, he says, "are the best enchanters and astrolo- 
gers that exist in that part of the world ; they perform 
such extraordinary marvels and sorceries by diabolical 
art, that it astounds one to see or even hear of them." * 
So in European folk-lore the north was considered the- 
home of witches, and in Shakespeare La Pucelle invokes 
the aid of the spirit under the " lordly monarch of the 

In India, the same is the case with the Konkan in 
Bombay.' The semi-aboriginal Th4rus of the Himalayan 
TarAi are supposed to possess special powers of this kind, 
and Thiruhat, or "the land of the Thdrus," is a common 
synonym for " Witchland." At Bh4galpur, Dr. Buchanan 
was told that twenty-five children died annually through the 
malevolence of witches. These reputed witches used to driver 
a roaring trade, as women would conceal their children on 
their approach and bribe them to go away. In Gorakhpur, 
he says, the Tonahis or witches were very numerous, " but 
some Judge sent an order that no one should presume to- 
injure another by enchantment. It is supposed that the 
order has been obeyed, and no one has since * imagined 
himself injured, a sign of the people being remarkably easy 
to govern,"' and it may be added of the patriarchal style 
of government in those early days. Nowadays the accu- 
sation of witchcraft is practically confined to the menial 
tribes. The wandering, half-gipsy Banj4ras, or grain- 
carriers, are notoriously witch-ridden, and the same is the 
case with the Dom, Sinsiya, Hibiira, and other vagrants 
of their kin. 

' Yule, ** Marco Polo," i. 172, 175, with note; ii. 41; Sir W. Scott,. 
** Letters on Demonology," 68 sq. 
3 Campbell, " Notes," 141. • *' Eastern India," ii. 108, 445- 

The Black Art. 285 

NoNl Chamarin, the Witch. 

At the present day the half-deified witch most dreaded in 
the Eastern Districts of the North- Western Provinces is 
Lon4, or Non&, a Chamarin, or woman of the currier caste. 
Her legend is in this wise. The great physician Dhanwan- 
tara, who corresponds to LuqmAn Hakim of the Muham- 
madans, was once on his way to cure King Parikshit, and 
was deceived and bitten by the snake king Takshaka. 
He therefore desired his son to roast him and eat his flesh, 
and thus succeed to his magical powers. The snake king 
dissuaded them from eating the unholy meal, and they let 
the cauldron containing it float down the Ganges. A cur- 
rier woman, named Lond, found it and ate the contents, and 
thus succeeded to the mystic powers of Dhanwantara. She 
became skilful in cures, particularly of snake-bite. Finally 
she was discovered to be a witch by the extraordinary 
rapidity with which she could plant out rice seedlings. 
One day the people watched her, and saw that when she 
believed herself unobserved, she stripped herself naked, and 
taking the bundle of the plants in her hands threw them 
into the air, reciting certain spells. When the seedlings 
forthwith arranged themselves in their proper places, the 
spectators called out in astonishment, and finding herself 
discovered, NonA rushed along over the country, and the 
channel which she made in her course is the Lonl river 
to this day. So a saint in Broach formed a new course 
for a river by dragging his clothes behind him. In Nona's 
case we have the nudity charm, of which instances have 
been already given. 

PtTTANA, the Witch Fiend. 

Another terrible witch, whose legend is told at Mathura, 
is Pfitand, the daughter of Bali, king of the lower world. 
She found the infant Krishna asleep, and began to suckle 
him with her devil's milk. The first drop would have 
poisoned a mortal child, but Krishna drew her breast with 
such strength that he drained her life-blood, and the fiend. 

286 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

terrifying the whole land of Braj with her cries of agony^ 
fell lifeless on the ground. European witches suck the 
blood of children ; here the divine Krishna turns the tables 
on the witch.* 

The Witch of the Palwars. 

The Palwir RAjputs of Oudh have a witch ancestress^ 
Soon after the birth of her son she was engaged in bakings 
cakes. Her infant began to cry, and she was obliged to 
perform a double duty. At this juncture her husband 
arrived just in time to see his demon wife assume gigantic 
and supernatural proportions, so as to allow both the 
baking and nursing to go on at the same time. But finding^ 
her secret discovered, the witch disappeared, leaving her 
son as a legacy to her astonished husband.' Here, though 
the story is incomplete, we have almost certainly, as in the 
case of Noni ChamArin, one of the Melusina type of legend,, 
where the supernatural wife leaves her husband and children,, 
because he violated some taboo, by which he is forbidden ta 
see her in a state of nudity, or the like.' 

The history of witchcraft in India, as in Europe, is one of 
the saddest page^ in the annals of the people. Nowadays,, 
the power of British law has almost entirely suppressed the 
horrible outrages which, under the native administration,, 
were habitually practised. But particularly in the more 
remote and uncivilized parts of the country, this super-^ 
stition still exists in the minds of the people, and occasional 
indications of it, which appear in our criminal records, are 
quite sufficient to show that any relaxation of the activity of 
our magistrates and police would undoubtedly lead to its 
revival in some of its more shocking forms. 

* Gubematis, "Zoological Mythology," ii. 202; Growse, "Mathura^** 

2 " Oudh Gazetteer," iii. 480. 
» Hartland, *' Science of Fairy Tales," 270 sqq. 



*Ev d' cVi^ci V€i6v /iaXoic^v vUipav apovpav, 
"Evpfuuf, rpiiroKov' iro^oi 5* apor^pcr iv avrtj 
Zcvyfa div€voifT€S (Xdarptov tv6a xcu ivBcu 

Iliad f xviii. 541-43. 

The subject of rural festivals is much too extensive for 
treatment in a limited space. Here reference will be made 
only to a few of those ceremonies which illustrate the prin- 
ciples recently elucidated from the folk-lore of Europe by 
Messrs. Frazer, Gomme, and Mannhardt.^ 

The AkhtIj. 

The respect paid to ploughing is illustrated by the early 
Vedic legend of SU4, who, like the Etruscan Tago, sprung 
from a furrow.* It is only in a later development of the 
story that she becomes the daughter of Janaka, and wife of 
R&ma Chandra. 

The agricultural year in Northern India begins with the 
ceremony of the Akhttj, "the undecaying third," which is 
celebrated on the third day of the light fortnight in the 
month of BaisAkh, or May. In the North-Western Pro- 
vinces the cultivator first fees his Pandit to select an 
auspicious hour on that day for the commencement of 

* Frazer, "Golden Bough;" Gomme, "Ethnology in Folk-lore ;** 
Mannhardt, " Wald-und Feldkulte." 
' Leland, " Etruscan Roman Remains,'' 96. 

288 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

ploughing. In most places he does not begin till 3 p.m. ; 
in Mirzapur the time fixed is usually during the night, as 
secrecy is in most of these rural ceremonies an important 
part of the ritual. 

In Rohilkhand the cultivator goes at daybreak to one of 
his fields, which must be of a square or oblong shape. He 
takes with him a brass drinking vessel of water, a branch of 
the Mango tree, both of which are, as we have seen, effica- 
cious in scaring spirits, and a spade. The object of the 
rite is to propitiate Prithivl, " the broad world," as con- 
trasted with Dhartt MM, or " Mother Earth," and Sesha 
N4ga, the great snake which supports the world. When- 
ever Sesha yawns he causes an earthquake. 

The Pandit first makes certain observations by which he 
is able to determine in which direction the snake happens 
at the time to be lying, because, in order to ease himself of 
his burden, he moves about beneath the world, and lies, 
sometimes north and south, north-west and south-east, 
and so on. This imaginary line having been marked off, 
the peasant digs up five clods of earth with his spade. 
This is a lucky number, as it is a quarter more than four. 
Hence Sawii, or one and a quarter, has been taken as one of 
the titles of the Mahirdja of Jaypur. He then sprinkles water 
five times into the trench with the branch of the sacred 
mango. The object of this is by a form of sympathetic magic 
to ensure the productiveness of the crop, and scare the demons 
of evil which would injure it. In Bombay, at the beginning 
of the sowing season, a cocoanut is broken and thrown at 
each side of the plough, so that the soil spirits may leave 
and make room for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, 
who is represented by the plough.* During all these pro- 
ceedings the peasant watches the omens most carefully, 
and if anything inauspicious happens, the ceremony must 
be discontinued and recommenced at a luckier hour later on 
in the day. When he gets home, some woman of the 
family, who must not be a widow, who is naturally con- 
sidered unlucky, presents him with curds and silver for 
1 Campbell, " Notes,'' 89. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 289 

good luck. He then stays all day in the house, rests, and 
does no work, and does not even go to sleep. He avoids 
quarrels and disputes of all kinds, and on that day will 
give neither grain nor money, nor fire to any one.* Next 
day he eats sweet food and balls of wheaten flour, toasted 
with curds and sugar, but carefully abstains from salt 

These usages have parallels in the customs of other lands. 
Thus, the rule against giving fire on the sowing day pre- 
vailed in Rome, and is still observed in the rural parts of 
England. In Iceland and the Isle of Man it is believed 
that fire and salt are the most sacred things given to man, 
and if you give them away on May Day you give away your 
luck for the year ; no one will give fire from a house while an 
unbaptized baby is in it." 

In Rajputina the custom is less elaborate. The first 
day of ploughing after the rains begin is known as the 
Halsotiya festival. Omens being favourable, the villagers 
proceed to the fields, each household^carrying a new earthen 
pot, coloured with turmeric, the virtues of which have been 
already explained, and full of Bdjra millet. Looking to the 
north, the home of the gods, they make an obeisance to the 
earth, and then a selected man ploughs five furrows. The 
ploughman's hands and the bullock's hoofs are rubbed with 
henna, and the former receives a dinner of delicacies.' 

In Mirzapur, only the northern part of the field, that 
facing the Himalaya is dug up in five places with a piece of 
mango wood. The peasant, when he goes home, eats rich 
food, and abstains from quarrels. 

All over the country the people seem to be becoming 
less careful about these observances. Some, without con- 
sulting a Pandit at all, go early to the field on the morning 
after the Holi fire is lighted, scratch the ground with a 
ploughshare, and on their return eat cakes and sweetmeats. 

^ On the rule against giving fire from his house, see Hartland, 
** Legend of Perseus," ii. 94. 

2 Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 74 ; ** Folk-lore," 
iii. 12,84,90; Dyer, "Popular Customs," 14; Lady Wilde, ** Legends," 
103, 106, 203. 

3 " Gazetteer," iii. 237. 


290 Folk-lore of Northern India, 

Others, on the first day after the Holt, when they hear the 
voice of the Koil, or Indian cuckoo at twilight, go in silence 
to the field and make a few scratches.^ 

Among the Dr&vidian Hill tribes of Mirzapur, the cere- 
mony seems to be merely a formal propitiation of the 
village godlings. Among the Korwas, before ploughing 
commences, the Baiga makes an offering of butter and 
molasses in his own field. This he burns in the name of 
the village godlings, and does a special sacrifice at their 
shrine. After this ploughing commences. The Kharwirs, 
before sowing, take five handfuls of grain from the sowing 
basket, and pray to Dharti M4t4, the earth goddess, to be 
propitious. They keep the grain, grind it, and offer it at 
her annual festival in the month of Siwan or August. The 
Pankas only do a burnt offering through the Baiga, and 
ofEer up cakes and other food, known as Nfeuj. Before the 
spring sowing, a general offering of five cocks is made to the 
village godlings by the Baiga, who consumes the sacrifice 
himself. All these people do not commence agricultural 
work till the Baiga starts wcrk in his own field, and they 
prefer to do this on Monday. 

In Hoshangdb4d the ceremony is somewhat different. 
The ploughing is usually begun by the landlord, and all the 
cultivators collect and assist at the ceremony in his field 
before they go on to their own. " It is the custom for him 
to take a rupee and fasten it up in the leaf of the Pal&sa 
tree with a thorn. He also folds up several empty leaves 
in the same way and covers them all with a heap of leaves. 
When he has done worship to the plough and bullocks, he 
yokes them and drives them through the heap, and all the 
cultivators then scramble for the leaf which contains the 
rupee. They then each plough their fields a little, and 
returning in a body, they are met by the daughter or sister 
of the landlord, who comes out to meet them with a brass 
vessel fiiU of water, a light in one hand and the wheaten 
cakes in the other. The landlord and each of the cultivators 
of his caste put a rupee into her water vessel and take a 
* " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 95. 


Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 291 

bit of the cake, which they put on their heads. On the same 
day an earthen jar full of water is taken by each cultivator 
to his threshing-floor, and placed to stand on four lumps of 
earth, each of which bears the name of one of the four 
months of the rainy season. Next morning as many lumps 
as are wetted by the leaking of the water jar (which is very 
porous and always leaks), so many months of rain will there 
be, and the cultivator makes his arrangements for the 
sowing accordingly." * 

In the Himalaya, again, there is a different ritual : " On 
the day fixed for the commencement of ploughing the 
ceremony known as Kudkhyo and Halkhyo takes place. 
The Kudkhyo takes place in the morning or evening, and 
begins by lighting a lamp before the household deity and 
ofifering rice, flowers, and balls made of turmeric, borax, and 
lemon juice. The conch is then sounded, and the owner of 
the field or relative whose lucky day it is, takes three or 
four pounds of seed-grain from a basin and carries it to the 
edge of the field prepared for its reception. He then scrapes 
a portion of the earth with a mattock, and sows a part of 
the seed. One to five lamps are placed on the ground, and 
the surplus seed is given away. At the Halkhyo ceremony, 
the balls as above described are placed on the ploughman, 
plough, and plough cattle ; four or five furrows are ploughed 
and sown, and the farm servants are fed." ^ This custom 
of giving away what remains of the seed-grain to labourers 
and beggars prevails generally throughout Northern India. 

A curious rite is performed in Kulu at the rice planting. 
" Each family in turn keeps open house. The neighbours, 
men and women, collect at the rice-fields. As soon as a 
field is ready, the women enter it in line, each with a bundle 
of young rice in her hands, and advance dabbing the young 
plants into the slush as they go. The mistress of the house 
and her daughters, dressed in their gayest, take their stand 
in front of the line, and supply more bundles of plants as 
they are wanted. The women sing in chorus as they work ; 

1 "Settlement Report," 123 sq. 

3 Atkinson, " Himalayan Gazetteer," ii. 856. 

U 2 

292 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

impromptu verses are often put in, which occasion a great 
deal of laughter. Two or three musicians are generally 
entertained by the master of the house, who also supplies 
food and drink of his best for the whole party. The day's 
work often ends with a tremendous romp, in which every 
one throws mud at his neighbours, or tries to give him or 
her a roll in it. No such ceremony is observed in sowing 
other crops, rice having been formerly, in all probability, 
the most important crop. It is also the custom to make a 
rude image of a man in dough and to throw it away as a 
sacrifice to the Ishta Deoti or household deity." ^ This 
can hardly be anything but a survival of an actual sacrifice 
to appease the field godlings at sowing time. The rude 
horseplay which goes on is like that at the Saturnalia and 
on the English Plough Monday. 

Going on to the Dravidian races, the Mundas have a feast 
in May at the time of sowing for the first rice crop. '* It is 
held in honour of the ancestral shades and other spirits, 
who, if unpropitiated, would prevent the seed from germi- 
nating. A he-goat and a cock are sacrificed." Again in 
June they have a festival to propitiate the local gods, that 
they may bless the crops. " In the Mundiri villages every- 
one plants a branch of the Bel tree in his land, and con- 
tributes to the general ofiFering, which is made by the priest 
in the sacred grove, a fowl, a pitcher of beer, and a handful 
of rice." In July, again, each cultivator sacrifices a fowl, 
and after some mysterious rites, a wing is stripped off and 
inserted in a cleft of a bamboo, and stuck up in the rice- 
field- or dung-heap. If this is omitted, the rice crop, it is 
supposed, will not come to maturity. It appears more like 
a charm than a sacrifice. Among the Kols of Chota NAgpur, 
there is a special dance, *' the women follow the men and 
change their attitudes and positions in obedience to signals 
from them." In one special figure " the women all kneel and 
pat the ground with their hands, in tune of music, as if 
coaxing the earth to be fertile." ' 

* ** North Indian Notes and Queries/' iii. 196. 
' Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology," 198. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 293 

Prohibition of Ploughing. 

A clergyman in Devonshire informed Brand that the old 
farmers in his parish called the three first days of March 
** Blind Days," which were anciently considered unlucky, 
and on them no farmer would sow his seed.* 

In Northern India there are certain days on which 
ploughing is forbidden, such as the Nagpanchami or snake 
feast held on the fifth of the light half of S&wan, and the 
fifteenth of the month K4rttik. Turning up the soil on such 
days disturbs Seshandga, the great world serpent and Mother 
Earth. But Mother Earth is also supposed to sleep on six 
days in every month — the 5th, 7th, gth, nth, 21st, and 24th ; 
or, as others say, the ist, 2nd, 5th, 7th, loth, 21st, and 24th. 
On such days it is inadvisable to plough if it can be possibly 
avoided. The fifteen days in the month of Kudr which 
are devoted to the worship of the Pitri or sainted dead, are 
also an inauspicious time for agricultural work. 

All these ceremonies at the commencement of the agri- 
cultural season remind us in many ways of the observance 
of the festivals of Plough Monday and similar customs in 
rural England.* 

The Rakshabandhan and JIyI Festivals. 

We have already noticed the use of the knotted cord or 
string as an amulet. On the full moon of Si wan is held 
the Salono or Rakshabandhan festival, when women tie these 
amulets round the wrists of their friends. Connected with 
this is what is known as the barley feast, the ]iyt or Jawira 
of Upper India, and the Bhujariya of the Central Provinces. 
It is supposed to be connected in some way with the famous 
story of Alha and Udal, which forms the subject of a very 
popular local epic. They were Rijputs of the Bandphar clan, 
and led the Chandels in their famous campaign against the 
Rdhtaurs of Kanauj, which immediately preceded, and in fact 
led up to, the Muhammadan conquest of Northern India.' 

* ** Observations," 316. 

^ Chambers, " Book of Days," i. 94 sqq. ; Aubrey ** Remaines," 40 sq. 

* Cunningham, " Archaeological Reports," ii. 455. 

294 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

In connection with this simple rural feast, a most elaborate 
ritual has been prescribed under Br&hmanical influence, but 
all that is usually done is that on the seventh day of the 
light half of S4wan, grains of barley are sown in a pot of 
manure, and spring up so rapidly that by the end of the 
month the vessel is full of long, yellowish- green stalks. On 
the first day of the next month, Bhidon, the women and 
girls take these out, throw the earth and manure into water, 
and distribute the plants to their male friends, who bind them 
in their turbans and about their dress.^ 

We have already come across an instance of a similar 
practice among the Kharwdrs at the Karama festival, and 
numerous examples of the same have been collected by 
Mr. Frazer.' Thus, ** in various parts of Italy and all over 
Sicily it is still customary to put plants in water or in earth 
on the Eve of St. John, and from the manner in which they 
are found to be blooming or faded on St. John's Day omens 
are drawn, especially as to fortune in love. In Prussia two 
hundred years ago the farmers used to send out their 
servants, especially their maids, to gather St. John's wort on 
Midsummer Eve or Midsummer Day. When they had 
fetched it, the farmer took as many plants as there were 
persons and stuck them on the wall or between the beams ; 
and it was thought that the person whose plant did not 
bloom would soon fall sick or die. The rest of the plants 
were tied in a bundle, fastened to the end of a pole, and set 
up at the gate or wherever the corn would be brought in at 
the next harvest. This bundle was called Kupole, the 
ceremony was known as Kupole's festival, and at it the 
farmer prayed for a good crop of hay, etc." 

We have the same idea in the English rural custom of 
"wearing the rose." There can be no reasonable doubt 
that all these rites were intended to propitiate the spirit of 
vegetation and promote the germination and growth of the 
next crop.* 

* Atkinson, loc, cit, ii. 886. « " Golden Bough,'* i. 249, 

* " Hoshangibad Settlement ^Report/' 124; Atkinson, ii?^. «/., ii. 870 ; 
** Panjdb Notes and Queries," iv. 197. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 295 

The DiwlLt, or Feast of Lamps. 

The regular Diw41i, or Feast of Lamps, which is per- 
formed on the last day of the dark fortnight in the month of 
Kdrttik, is more of a city than a rural festival. But even in 
the villages everyone burns a lamp outside the house on that 

The feast has, of course, been provided with an appropriate 
legend. Once upon a time an astrologer foretold to a Rija 
that on the new moon of KArttik his K41, or fate, would 
appear at midnight in the form of a snake ; that the way to 
avoid this was that he should order all his subjects on that 
night to keep their houses, streets, and lanes clean; that 
there should be a general illumination ; that the king, too, 
should place a lamp at his door, and at the four corners of 
his couch, and sprinkle rice and sweetmeats everywhere. 

If the door-lamp went out it was foretold that he would 
become insensible, and that he was to tell his R&nt to sing 
the praises of the snake when it arrived. These instructions 
were carefully carried out, and the snake was so pleased 
with his reception, that he told the R4ni to ask any boon she 
pleased. She asked for long life for her husband. The 
snake replied that it was out of his power to grant this, but 
that he would make arrangements with Yamarija, the lord 
of the dead, for the escape of her husband, and that she was 
to continue to watch his body. 

Then the snake carried off the spirit of the king to 
Yamarija. When the papers of the king's life were 
produced before Yamarija his age was denoted by a cipher, 
but the kindly snake put a seven before it, and thus raised 
his age to seventy years. Then Yamarija said : " I find 
that this person has still seventy years to live. Take him 
back at once." So the snake brought back the soul of the 
king, and he revived and lived for seventy years more, and 
established this feast in honour of the event Much the 
same idea appears in one of Grimm's German tales.* 

The original basis of the feast seems to have been the idea 

1 ** Household Talcs." ii. 276. 

296 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

that on this night the spirits of the dead revisit their homes, 
which are cleaned and lighted for their reception. Now it is 
chiefly observed in honour of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth 
and good luck, who is propitiated by gambling. On this night 
the women make what is called " the new moon lampblack " 
{Amdwas Kd iTo/ii/), which is used throughout the following 
year as a charm against the Evil Eye, and, as we have 
already seen, the symbolical expulsion of poverty goes on. 

Immediately following this festival is the Bhaiyya Dftj, or 
" Brothers' second," when sisters make a mark on the fore- 
heads of their brothers and cause them to eat five grains of 
gram. These must be swallowed whole, not chewed, and 
bring length of days. The sister then makes her brother sit 
facing the east, and feeds him with sweetmeats, in return 
for which he gives her a present. 

The Govardhan. 

Following the Diw41i comes what is known as the 
Govardhan, or Godhan, which is a purely rural feast. In 
parts of the North-Western Provinces, the women, on a 
platform outside the house, make a little hut of mud and 
images of Gauri and Ganesa ; there they place the parched 
grain which the girls offered on the night of the Diw41i ; 
near it they lay some thorny grass, wave a rice pounder 
round the hut, and invoke blessings on their relations and 
friends. This is also a cattle feast, and cowherds come 
round half drunk and collect presents from their employers. 
They sing, " May this house grow as the sugar-cane grows, 
as Ganga increases at the sacred confluence of PrayAg ! " 

In the Panj&b " the women make a Govardhan of cow- 
dung, which consists of Krishna lying on his back surrounded 
with little cottage loaves of dung to represent mountains, 
in which are stuck stems of grass with tufts of cotton or 
rag on the top for trees, and by little dung balls for cattle, 
watched by dung men dressed in little bits of rag. Another 
opinion is that the cottage loaves are cattle, and the dung 
balls calves. On this they put the churn-staff, five white 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 297 

sugar-canes, some parched rice, and a lamp in the middle. 
The cowherds are then called in, and they salute the whole, 
and are fed with rice and sweets. The Brd.hman then takes 
the sugar-cane and eats a bit, and till then no one must eat, 
cut, or press cane. Rice-milk is then given to the Br&hmans, 
and the bullocks have their horns dyed and are extra well 

The Emperor Akbar, we are told, used to join in this 

The custom in Cawnpur, known as the D&ng, or " Club," 
DiwAlt is very similar. The cowherds worship Govardhan 
in the form of a little heap of cowdung decorated with 
cotton, and go round to the houses of the persons whose 
<:attle they graze, dance to the music of two sticks beaten 
together and a drum played by a Hindu weaver, and get 
presents of grain, cloth, or money." 

Cattle Festivals. 

There are a number of similar usages in various parts of 
the country solemnized with the object of protecting the 
herds. Thus in Hoshangdbdd they have the rite of frighten- 
ing the cattle. " Everyone keeps awake all night, and the • 
-herdsmen go out begging in a body, singing, and keeping the 
<cattle from sleeping. In the morning they are all stamped 
with the hand dipped in yellow paint for the white ones, and 
white paint for the red ones, and strings of cowries or pea- 
cocks' feathers are tied to their horns. Then they are 
-driven out with wild whoops or yells, and the herdsman 
standing at the doorway smashes an earthen water jar on 
the last. The neck of this is placed on the gateway leading 
to the cattle sheds, and preserves them from the Evil Eye. 
In the afternoon the cattle are all collected together, and 
the Parih4r priest sprinkles them with water, after which 
they are secure from all possible evil." * 

* Ibbctson, " Panj4b Ethnography,** 120. 

* Blochmann, " Ain-i-Akbari," 1. 217. 

•Wright, "Cawnpur Memorandum," 105; Buchanan, "Eastern 
India," i. 194. 

* " Settlement Report," 17. 

298 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

This reminds us of the custom of Manx cattle dealers^ 
who drive their herd through fire on May Day, so as to 
singe them a little, and preserve them from harm.* The 
same was probably the origin of the bull-running in the 
town of Stamford of which Brand gives an account. So the 
Chinese make an effigy of an ox in clay, which after being 
beaten by the governor, is stoned by the people till they^ 
break it in pieces, from which they expect an abundant year* 

We have already met with instances where the scape 
animal merges in a sacrifice. In Garhwdl, at the sacrifice in 
honour of Devt, the Br4hmans make a circle of flour filled 
with various sorts of colours. Inside this they sit and repeat 
sacred verses. Then a male buffalo is made to move round 
the circle seven times, and everyone throws some holy rice 
and oats over it. After this the headman of the village 
strikes it lightly on the back with a sword and makes it run^. 
on which the people follow and hack it to pieces with their 

So in Bengal, on the last day of the month Kdrttik 
(October-November) a pig is turned loose among a herd of 
buffaloes, who are encouraged to gore it to death. The 
carcase is given to the Dus4dh village menials to eat. The 
Ahirs, who practise this strange rite, aver that it has no 
religious significance, and is merely a sort of popular amuse« 
ment. They do not themselves partake of any part of the 
pig.' It is plainly a survival of a regular sacrifice, probably- 
intended to promote the fertility of the herds and crops. 

Similar customs for the protection of cattle prevail in other 
parts of the country. Thus, in Mirzapur, at the DiwAlt, a 
little earthen bell is procured from the village potter, and 
hung round the necks of the cattle as a protective. 

In Berdr, at the Pola festival, the bullocks of the whole 
village pass in procession under a sacred rope made of 
twisted grass and covered with mango leaves. The sacred 
pole of the headman is then borne aloft to the front. He 

* " Folk-lore,'' ii. 303 ; Brand, " Observations,*' 7 ; Rhys, " Lectures,'^ 
' " North Indian Notes and Queries," ii. 92. 
» Risley, " Tribes and Castes," i. 290. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 299 

gives the order to advance, and all the bullocks, his own 
leading the way, file under the rope according to the respec- 
tive rank of their owners. The villagers vie with each other 
in having the best decorated and painted bullocks, and large 
sums are often expended in this way. This rope is supposed 
to possess the magic power of protecting the cattle from 
disease and accident.^ 

In Northern India it is a common charm to drive the 
cattle under a rope fixed over the village cattle path, and 
among the DrAvidians of Mirzapur, two poles and a cross 
bar are fixed at the entrance of the village with the same 
object. The charm is rendered more powerful if a plough 
beam is sunk in the ground close by. 

The custom of the silent tending of cattle has been 
already mentioned. At the cattle festival in Rijputina, in 
the evening the cow is worshipped, the herd having been 
previously tended. " From this ceremony no rank is ex- 
cepted ; on the preceding day, dedicated to Krishna, prince 
and peasant all become pastoral attendants of the cow in 
the form of Prithivi or the Earth." ' In some places the 
flowers and other ornaments of the cattle, which they lose 
in their wild flight, are eagerly picked up and treated as 
relics bringing good fortune. We have a similar idea in the 
blessing of cattle in Italy,' and this is probably the origin of 
the observance described by Aubrey, when " in Somerset- 
shire, where the wassaile (which is, I think, Twelfe Eve), 
the ploughmen have their Twelfe cake, and they go into 
the ox-house to the cattle, and drink to the ox with the 
crumpled horn that treads out the come." * 

The Sleep of Vishnu. 

According to the rural belief, Vishnu sleeps for four 
months in the year, from the eleventh of the bright half 
of the month Asirh, the Deosoni EkAdasht, "the reposing 

I " BeiAr Gazetteer/' 207. « Tod, "Annals," i. 631. 

• Gubematis, "Zoological Mythology," i. 51. 

* " Remaines," 40 ; Brand, " Observations," 17. 

300 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

of the god/' till the eleventh of the bright half of the month 
Kirttik, the Deothin, or " god's awakening." So the demon 
Kumbha Karana in the R&m&yana when he is gorged sleeps 
for six months. According to Mr. Campbell/ during these 
four months while the god sleeps demons are abroad, and 
hence there are an unusual number of protective festivals in 
that period. On the day he retires to rest women mark 
the house with lines of cowdung as a safeguard, fast during 
the day, and eat sweetmeats at night. During the four 
months of the god's rest it is considered unlucky to marry, 
repair the thatch of a hut, or make the house cots. His 
rising at the Deothin marks the commencement of the sugar- 
cane harvest, when the cane mill is marked with red paint, 
and lamps are lighted upon it. The owner of the crop then 
does worship in his field, and breaks off some stalks of 
sugar-cane, which he puts on the boundary. He distri- 
butes five canes each to the village Br&hman, blacksmith, 
carpenter, washerman, and water carrier, and takes five 

Then on a wooden board about one and a half feet long 
two figures of Vishnu and his wife Lakshm! are drawn with 
lines of butter and cowdung. On the board are placed some 
cotton, lentils, water-nuts, and sweets; a fire sacrifice is 
offered, and the five canes are placed near the board and 
tied together at the top. The S&lagrima, or stone emble- 
matical of Vishnu, is lifted up, and all sing a rude melody, 
calling on the god to wake and join the assembly. " Then 
all move reverently round the emblems, the tops of the cane 
are broken off and hung on the roof till the Holl, when they 
are burnt. When the worship has been duly performed, and 
the officiating Brihman has declared that the fortunate 
moment has arrived, the cutting may commence. The whole 
village is a scene of festivity, and dancing and singing go on 
frantically. Till this day no Hindu will eat or touch the 
crop. They believe that even jackals will not eat the cane 
till then. The real fact is that till then the juice has not 
properly come up, and the cane is not worth eating. On 
* Campbell, " Notes," 376. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 301 

the first day the cane is cut the owner eats none of it, it 
would bring him bad luck." ^ 

Ceremonies to Avert Blight, etc. 

There are various ceremonies intended to save certain 
crops from the ravages of blight and insects. Blight is very 
generally attributed to the constant measurement of the 
soil . which goes on during settlement operations, to the 
irreligious custom of eating beef, or to adultery, or to a 
demon of the east wind, who can be appeased with prayers 
and ceremonies.^ No pious Hindu, if the seed fails, will 
re-sow his winter crop. 

When sugar-cane germinates, the owner of the crop does 
worship on the next Saturday before noon. On one of the 
days of the Nauratri in the month of Ku4r the cultivator 
himself, or through his family priest, burns a fire sacrifice in 
the field and offers prayers. In the month of Kdrttik he has 
a special ceremony to avert a particularly dangerous grub,, 
known as the Stindi. For this purpose he takes from his 
house butter, cakes, sweets, and five or six lumps of dough 
pressed into the shape of a pear, with some clean water. He 
goes to the field, offers a fire sacrifice, and presents some of 
the cakes to the field spirit. He then buries one of the lumps 
of dough at each corner of his field, and, having eaten the 
rest of the cakes, goes home happy.' 

When field-mice do injury to the crop the owner goes to a 
Sy&na, or cunning man, who writes a charm, the letters of 
which he dissolves in water and scatters it over the plants- 
The ancient Greek farmer was recommended to proceed as 
follows : " Take a sheet of paper and write on it these words^ 
' Ye mice here present, I adjure ye that ye injure me not, 
neither suffer another mouse to injure me. I give you yonder 
field (specifying the field), but if ever I catch you here again^ 
by the help of the Mother of the gods, I will rend you in 
seven pieces.' Write this and stick the paper on an unhewn 

^ "Bareilly Settlement Report," 93 sq. 

' Sleeman, " Rambles and Recollections," i. 235, 240. 

» ** Bareilly Settlement Report," 93. 

302 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

stone in the field where the mice are, taking care to keep the 
written side uppermost." ^ 

General Sleeman gives a case of a cowherd who saw in a 
vision that the water of the Biy&s river should be taken up 
in pitchers and conveyed to the fields attacked with blight, 
but that none of it should be allowed to fall on the ground 
in the way. On reaching the field a small hole should be 
made in the bottom of the pitcher so as to keep up a small 
but steady stream, as the bearer carried it round the border 
of the field, so that the water might fall in a complete ring 
except at a small opening which was to be kept dry, so that 
the demon of the blight could make his escape through it. 
Crowds of people came to fetch the water, which was not 
supposed to have any particular virtue except that arising 
from this revelation.* 

Scaring OF Locusts. 

Locusts, one of the great pests of the Indian peasant's life, 
are scared by shouting, lighting of fires, beating of brass pots, 
and in particular, by ringing the temple bell. In Sirsa, the 
Karwa, a flying insect which injures the flower of the B&jra 
millet, is expelled by a man taking his sister's son on his 
shoulder and feeding him with rice-milk while he repeats the 
following charm : " The nephew has mounted his uncle's 
shoulder. Go, Karwa, to some other field ! " ' 

In the Panj&b a popular legend thus explains the enmity 
between the starling and the locust. Once upon a time the 
locusts used to come and destroy the crops as they were 
ripening. The people prayed to N&riyana, and he im- 
prisoned them in a deep valley in the Himalaya, putting the 
starlings to keep them in confinement. Now and again the 
locusts try to escape and the starlings promptly put them to 
death. The legend is probably based on the fact that both 
the starlings and the locusts come from the Hills, and about 
the same time.* 

1 •* Folk-lore," i. 163. « " Rambles and Recollections," i. 248. 

» ** Settlement Report," 256. 

^ ** North Indian Notes and Queries," ii. 64. 



Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 303 

Another device to scare them is based on the well-known 
principle of treating with high distinction one or two chosen 
individuals of the obnoxious species, while the rest are pur- 
sued with relentless vigour. " In the East Indian island of 
Bali, the mice which ravage the rice-fields are caught in great 
numbers and burnt in the same way that corpses are burnt. 
But two of the captured mice are allowed to live and receive 
a little packet of white linen. Then the people bow down 
before them, as before gods, and let them go." * So in Mirza- 
pur the Dr4vidian tribes, when a flight of locusts comes, catch 
one, decorate its head with a spot of red lead, salaam to it, 
and let it go, when the whole flight immediately departs. 

Betel Planting. 

When cultivators in the North- Western Provinces sow 
betel, they cook rice-milk near the plants and offer it to the 
local godling. They divide the offering, and a little coarse 
sugar is dedicated to Mahibir, the monkey god, which is 
taken home and distributed among the children. This is 
known as Jeonir PtijA or " the banquet rite." The Barais, 
who make a speciality of cultivating the plant, have two god- 
lings of their own, Sokha Bdba, the ghost of some famous 
magician, and N^gbeli, the " creeper N&ga," or snake, who 
is connected with the sinuous growth of the tendrils. 

In Bengal, the Baruis, a similar caste, worship their 
patron goddess on the fourth day of the month Baisakh with 
offerings of flowers, rice, sweetmeats, and sandal-wood paste. 
Some do the Navami Piiji in honour of Ushas, or the Aurora, 
on the sixth day of the waning moon in Asin. Plantains, 
rice, sugar, and sweetmeats are placed in the centre of the 
garden, from which the worshippers retire, but after a little 
time return, and carrying out the offerings, distribute them 
among the village children. In Bikrampur, Sunjdi, a form 
of Bh&gawati, is worshipped. 

They do not employ Brdhmans in the worship, because, 
they say, a BrAhman was the first cultivator of betel. 

^ Frazer, " Golden Bough," ii. 131. 

304 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

Through his neglect the plant grew so high that he used 
his sacred thread to fasten up the tendrils, but as it still shot 
up faster than he could supply thread, its charge was given 
to a Kiyasth or writer. Hence it is that a Brihman cannot 
enter a betel garden without defilement.^ In another form 
of the story, the thread of the Br&hman grew up to the sky 
and became a betel tendril. So, in a Tartar story, the hop 
plant originates from the bow-string of a man that had been 
turned into a bear.' 

All over India, the betel plant, perhaps on account of the 
delicacy of its growth, is considered as being very susceptible 
to demoniacal influence, and a woman or a person in a state 
of ceremonial pollution is excluded from the nursery. We 
meet with an instance of the same idea among the Ainos. 
" They prepare for the fishing by observing rules of cere- 
monial purity, and when they have gone out to fish the 
women at home must keep strict silence, or the fish would 
hear them and disappear. When the first fish is caught he 
is brought home and passed through a small opening at the 
end of the hut, but not through the door ; for if he were 
passed through the door, the other fish would certainly see 
him and disappear."' 

All these protective measures intended to guard the crop 
from defilement and demoniacal influence are rather like the 
old English rule of the young men and girls walking round 
the corn to bless it on Palm Sunday, an observance which 
Audley drily remarks in his. time " gave many a conception."* 

Sugar-cane Sowing. 

When sugar-cane is being planted, the sower is decorated 
with silver ornaments, a necklace, flowers, and a red mark 
is made on his forehead. It is considered a favourable omen 
if a man on horseback come into the field while the sowing 
is going on. After the sowing is completed, all the men 

1 Risley, "Tribes and Castes," i. 72. ' "Folk-lore," iii. 321. 

» Frazer, " Golden Bough," ii. 122. 

* "Remaines," 9 ; Brand, "Observations," 118. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 305 

employed come home to the farmer's house and have a good 
dinner.* All surplus seed is carefully destroyed with fire, as 
it is believed that the plants grown from it would be worth- 
less and produce only flowers and seed. 

In the Panj4b, on the first day of sowing, sweetened rice 
is brought to the field, the women smear the outside of the 
vessel with it, and it is then distributed to the workmen. 
Next morning a woman puts on a necklace and walks round 
the field, winding thread on a spindle. This forms a sacred 
circle which repels evil influence from the crop. On the 
night of the DeothAn, when Vishnu wakes from his four 
months' sleep, lamps are lighted on the cane mill, and it is 
smeared with daubs of red paint.' 

Cotton Planting. 

When the cotton has sprung up, the owner of the field 
goes there on Sunday forenoon with some butter, sweetmeats, 
and cakes. He burns a fire sacrifice, offers up some of the 
food, and eats the remainder in silence. Here we have 
another instance of the taboo against speaking, which so 
commonly appears in these rural ceremonies.* 

When the cotton comes into flower, some parched rice is 
taken to the field on a Wednesday or Friday; some is 
thrown broadcast over the plants, and the rest given to 
children, the object assigned being that the bolls may 
swell, as the rice does when parched. Many instances of 
symbolical or sympathetic magic of the same kind might be 
collected from the usages of other races. Thus, for instance, 
in Sumatra, the rice is sown by women, who, in sowing, let 
their hair hang loose down their back, in order that the rice 
may grow luxuriantly and have long stalks.* 

When the cotton is ripe and ready for picking, the women 
pickers go to the north or east quarters of the field with 

* " Bareilly Settlement Report," 93. 
- " KamU Settlement Report," 151. 

' ". Bareilly Settlement Report," 93 ; " North Indian Notes and Queries," 
iii. 94 ; and compare Tylor, " Primitive Culture," ii. 40 ; Lady Wilde, 
" Legends," 199. 

* Frazer, " Golden Bough," iii. 94. 


3o6 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

parched rice and sweetmeats. These directions are, of 
course, selected with reference to the Himalaya, the home of 
the gods, and the rising sun. They pick two or three large 
podsi and then sit down and pull out the cotton in as long a 
string as possible without breaking it. They hang these 
threads on the largest cotton plant they can find in the field, 
round which they sit, and fill their mouths as full as possible 
with the parched rice, which they blow out as far as they can 
in each direction ; the idea being, of course, the same as in 
the ceremony when the plant flowers. A fire offering is made 
and the picldng commences.^ 

The custom in KarnAl is very similar. When the pods 
open and the cotton is ready for picking, the women go 
round the field eating rice-milk, the first mouthful of which 
they spit on the field towards the west. The first cotton 
picked is exchanged for its weight in salt, which is prayed 
over and kept in the house till the picking is over, when it 
is distributed among the members of the household and 

The Last Sheaf. 

In Hoshangabdd, when the reaping is nearly over, a small 
patch of corn is left standing in the last field, and the reapers 
rest a little. Then they rush at this piece, tear it up, and 
cast it in the air, shouting victory to their deities, Omkdr 
MahArija, Jhamajl, Rdmji D4s, or other local godlings 
according to their persuasions. A sheaf is made of this 
corn, which is tied to a bamboo, stuck up on the last harvest 
cart, carried home in triumph, and fastened up at the 
threshing-floor or to a tree, or on the cattle shed, where its 
services are essential in averting the Evil Eye.' 

The same custom prevails in the eastern districts of the 
North- Western Provinces. Sometimes a little patch in the 
corner of the field is left untilled as a refuge for the field 
spirit ; sometimes it is sown and the corn reaped with a rush 

^ " BareiJly Settiement Report," 87 sq. 

» " Kamdl Settlement Report/' 183. * " Settlement Report," 78. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 307 

and shout and given to the Baiga as an offering to the local 
godlings, or distributed among beggars. 

This is a most interesting analogue of a branch of Euro- 
pean folk-lore which has been copiously illustrated by 
Mr. Frazer.* It is the Devon custom of " Crying the Neck." 
The last sheaf is the impersonation of the Corn Mother, and 
is worshipped accordingly. We have met already with the 
same idea in the reservation of small patches of the original 
forest for the accommodation of the spirits of the jungle. 


There are many customs connected with the disposal of 
the first-fruits of the crop. The eating of the new grain is 
attended with various observances, in which the feeding of 
Br4hmans and beggars takes a prominent place. In KAngra, 
the first-fruits of corn, oil, and wine, and the first fleece of 
the sheep are not indeed actually given, but a symbolical 
offering is made in their stead. These offerings are made to 
the ]kk or field spirit to whom reference has already been 
made. The custom has now reached a later stage, for the 
local Rija puts the right of receiving the offerings on behalf 
of flie J4k to public auction.* 

In the same way at Lad&kh, " the main rafters of the 
houses are supported by cylindrical or square pillars of wood, 
the top of which, under the truss, is, in the houses of the 
peasantry, encircled by a band of straw and ears of wheat, 
forming a primitive sort of capital. It is the custom, I was 
told, to consecrate the two or three first handsful of each 
year's crop to the spirit who presides over agriculture, and 
these bands are thus deposited. Sometimes rams' horns are 
added to this decoration." ' 

In Northern India the first pressing of the sugar-cane is 
attended with special observances. When the work of 

^ " Golden Bough," i. 333 sqq. ; Brand, " Observations," 311 ; Hender- 
son, ** Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 87 ; " Folk-lore," iv. 123 ; Hunt, 
^' Popular Romances," 385. 

2 " Panjib Notes and Queries," iii. 56. 

' " North Indian Notes and Queries," i. 57. 

X 2 

3o8 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

pressing commences, the first piece of sugar made is pre- 
sented to friends or beggars, as is the first bowl of the 
extracted juice, and in the western districts of the North- 
western Provinces some is offered in the name of the saint 
Shaikh Farld, who from this probably gains his title of 
Shakkarganj, or " Treasury of sugar." 

The Sant&ls have a harvest-home feast in December, at 
which the Jag Mdnjhi, or headman of the village, entertains 
the people. The cattle are anointed with oil and daubed 
over with vermilion, and a share of rice-beer is given to each 

Everywhere in treading out the grain the rule that the 
cattle move round the stake in the course of the sun is rigidly 

Ceremonies at Winnowing. 

Winnowing is a very serious and solemn operation, not 
lightly to be commenced without due consultation of the 

In Hoshang&b4d, when the village priest has fixed a 
favourable time, the cultivator, his whole family, and his 
labourers go to the threshing-floor, taking with them the 
prescribed articles of worship, such as milk, butter, turmeric, 
boiled wheat, and various kinds of grain. The threshing- 
floor stake is washed in water, and these things are offered 
to it and to the pile of threshed grain. The boiled wheat is 
scattered about in the hope that the Bh6ts or spirits may 
content themselves with it and not take any of the harvested 
corn. Then the master stands on a three-legged stool, and 
taking five basketsfiil from the threshed heap, winnows 
them. After winnowing, the grain and chaff" are collected 
again and measured ; if the five baskets are turned out full, 
or anything remains over, it is a good omen. If they cannot 
fill the baskets, the place where they began winnowing is 
considered unlucky and it is removed a few yards to another 
part of the threshing-floor. The five basketsful are presented 

^ Dalton, "Descriptive Ethnology/' 213. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 309 

to a Brahman, or distributed in the village, not mixed with 
the rest of the harvest. 

Winnowing can then go on as convenient, but one pre- 
caution must be taken. As long as winnowing goes on the 
basket must never be set down on its bottom, but always 
upside down. If this were not done, the spirits would use 
the basket to carry off the grain. The day's results are 
measured generally in the evening. This is done in perfect 
silence, the measurer sitting with his back to the unlucky 
quarter of the sky, and tying knots to keep count of the 
number of the baskets. The spirits rob the grain until it is 
measured, but when once it has been measured they are 
afraid of detection.^ 

In the Eastern PanjAb, the clean grain is collected into a 
heap. Preparatory to measuring, the greatest care has to 
be observed in the preparation of this heap, or evil spirits 
will diminish the yield. One man sits facing the north, and 
places two round balls of cowdung on the ground. Between 
them he sticks in a plough-coulter, a symbol known as 
Sh^od Matd or " the mother of fertility." A piece of the 
Akh or swallow-wort and some Dtib grass are added, and 
they salute it, saying: "O Mother Shdod! Give the increase! 
Make our bankers and rulers contented ! " The man then 
carefully hides the image of Shdod from all observers while 
he covers it up with grain, which the others throw over his 
head from behind. When it is well covered, they pile the 
grain upon it, but three times during the process the cere- 
mony of is performed. The man stands to the south 
of the heap and goes round it towards the west the first and 
third time, and the reverse way the second time. As he 
goes round, he has the hand furthest from the heap full of 
igrain, and in the other a winnowing fan, with which he taps 
the heap. When the heap is finished they sprinkle it with 
Ganges water, and put a cloth over it till it is time to 
measure the grain. A line is then drawn on the ground all 
round the heap, inside which none but the measurer must 

* " Settlement Report," 78 sq. 

310 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

go. All these operations must be performed in profound 

In Bareillyi when the whole of the grain and chaflf has 
been winnowed, all the dressed grain is collected into a 
heap. " The winnower, with his [^basket in» his right hand> 
goes from the south towards the west, and then towards the 
north, till he reaches the pole to which the treading-out 
cattle have been tethered. He then'returns the same way,, 
goes to the east till he reaches the pole, and back again to 
the south ; then he places the basket on the ground and 
utters some pious ejaculation. Then an iron sickle, a stick of 
the sacred Kusa grass, and a bit of swallow-wort, with a 
cake of cowdung in a cleft stick, are placed on the heap,, 
and four cakes of cowdung at the four corners ; and a line 
is traced round it with cowdung. A fire oflfering is then 
made, and some butter and coarse^sugar are offered as sacri- 
fice. Water is next thrown round the piled grain and the 
remainder of the sugar distributed to those present." ' 

In the Etah District, the owner of the field places to the 
north of the pile of grain a threshing-floor rake, a bullock's 
muzzle, and a rope at a distance of three spans from the 
piled grain ; and between these things#and the pile he lays a 
little offering consisting of a few ears of grain, some leaves 
of the swallow-wort, and a few flowers. These things are 
laid on a piece of cowdung. He then covers the pile of 
grain with a cloth to protect it firom thieving Bhtits, and 
puts in a basket three handfuls of grain as the perquisite of 
the village priest who lights the Hoi! fire. Something is 
also laid by for the village beggars. Then he sprinkles a 
little grain on the cloth, and fiUs'aJbasket full of grain which 
he pours back on the pile as an emblem of increase. He 
then bows to the gods who live in the northern hills, and 
mutters a prayer; it is only at this time that he breaks 
the silence with which the whole ceremony is performed. 
The cloth is then removed, and the rite is considered 

* « KamM Settlement Report;' 173. » " Settlement Report,'' 78- 

Some Rural. Festivals and Ceremonies. 311 

Measurement of Grain. 

All these precautions are based on principles which have 
been already discussed, and we meet in them with the 
familiar fetishes and demon-scarers, of which we have 
already quoted instances — ^the iron implements, the sacred 
grasses and plants, water and milk, cowdung, the winnow- 
ing fan, and so on. 

All over Northern India a piece of cowdung, known as 
Barh4wan,'* that which gives the increase," is laid on the 
piled grain, and a sacred circle is made with fire and water 
round it. Silence, as we have already seen, is a special 
element in the worship. All this rests on the idea that until 
the grain is measured, vagrant Bhiits will steal or destroy it. 
This is something like the principle of travellers, who keep a 
cowry or two in their purses, so that thieves may not be 
able to divine the contents. So, in a Talmudic legend we 
read, " It is very difl&cult for devils to obtain money, because 
men are careful to keep it locked or tied up ; and we have 
^ no power to take an5rthing that is measured or counted ; we 
are permitted to take only what is free and common." * 

In the Eastern Panj4b grain must not be measured on the 
day of the new or full moon, and Saturday is a bad day for 
it. It must be begun at dawn, or sunset, or midnight, when 
the Bhtits are otherwise engaged. Four men go inside the 
enclosure line with a wooden measuring vessel, and no one 
must come near them till they have finished. They sit 
facing the north and spread a cloth on the ground. One 
fills the measure from the heap with the winnowing fan, 
another empties it on the cloth, substituting an empty one 
for it. The man who has the measure puts down for every 
measure filled a small heap of grains of corn, by which the 
account is kept. Perfect silence must be observed till the 
whole ojperation is finished, and especially all counting aloud 
of the number of measures must be avoided. But when 
once the grain is measured, it is safe firom the Evil Eye ; the 
people are at liberty to quarrel over the division of it.* 

^ Conway, " Demonology," ii. 117. 
« «*Kamai Settlement Report," 174. 

^iz , Folk-lore of Northern India. 

The same rule of silence often appears in the custom of 
Europe. Favete Unguis was the principle on such occasions 
in Rome. So in the " Tempest " Prospero says, — 

'* Hush and be mute, 
Or else our spell is marred." 

In the Highlands, on New Year's Day, a discreet person is 
sent to draw a pitcher of water from the ford, which is drunk 
next day as a charm against the spell of witchcraft, the ma- 
lignity of Evil Eyes, and the activity of all infernal agency. 
So the baker who makes the bannocks on Shrove Tuesday 
must be mute as a stone ; the cake on St. Mark's Eve must 
be made in silence, and the same is the rule on St. Faith's 

The same rule of secrecy and silence is observed in the 
worship of Dulha Deo. Among the Gaiti Gonds, their great 
festival is held after the ingathering of the rice harvest, 
when they proceed to a dense part of the jungle, which no 
woman is permitted to enter, and where, to represent the 
great god, a copper coin has been hung up, enclosed in a 
joint of bamboo. Arriving, at the spot, they take down the 
copper god in his case, and selecting a small area about a 
foot square, they lay on it the copper coin, before which they 
arrange as many small heaps of uncooked rice as there are 
deities worshipped by them. The chickens brought for 
sacrifice are loosed and permitted to feed on the rice, after 
which they are killed and their blood sprinkled between 
the copper coin and the rice. Goats are also offered, 
and their blood presented in the same manner. Until 
prohibited by the Hindus, sacrifices of cows were also 
common. On the blood some country spirits is poured 
as a libation to their deities. The copper coin is now 
lifted, replaced in its bamboo case, which is shut up with 
leaves, wrapped up in grass, and returned to its place in 
the tree, to remain there till it is required on the following 


^ Dyer, •* Popular Customs,'' 17, 90, 199, 384. 
« Hislop, " Papers," 22. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 313 

The HoLt : Its Origin. 

The most famous and interesting of the village festivals is 
the Holl, which is held in the early spring, at the full moon 
of Phaigun. One account of its origin describes it as 
founded' in honour of a female demon or R&kshast called 
Dundhas, " she who would destroy many." 

Another account connects the observance with the well- 
known legend of Hiranya-kasipu, " golden-dressed," and his 
son Prahiada. Hiranya-kasipu was, it is said, a Daitya, 
who obtained from Siva the sovereignty of the three worlds 
for a million years, and persecuted his pious son PrahUda 
because he was such a devoted worshipper of Vishnu. 
Finally the angry god, in his Nara-sinha or man-lion in- 
carnation, slew the sinner. 

Harndkas, as the father is called in the modern version of 
the story, was an ascetic, who claimed that the devotion of 
the world was to be paid to him alone. His son Prahl&da 
became a devotee of Vishnu, and performed various miracles, 
such as saving a cat and her kittens out of the blazing kiln 
of a potter. His father was enraged at what he considered 
the apostasy of his son, and with the assistance of his sister 
Holl or Holiki, commenced to torture Prahl4da. Many 
attempts on his life failed, and finally Vishnu himself entered 
a pillar of heated iron, which had been prepared for the 
destruction of Prahldda, and tore Harna.kas to pieces. Then 
HoH tried to bum herself and Prahlada together, but the 
fire left him unscathed and she was consumed. The fire 
is now supposed to be burnt in commemoration of this 

This legend has been localized at a place called Deokali 
near Irichh in the Jh&nsi District, where Hiranya-kasipu is 
said to have had his palace. Just below it is a deep pool, 
into which Prahlada was flung by the orders of his father, 
and the mark of the foot of the martyr is still shown on a 
neighbouring rock.* 

Another legend identifies Holl with the witch PAtand, who 

^ Fuhrer, " Monumental Antiquities," 118. 

314 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

attempted to destroy the infant Krishna by giving him her 
poisoned nipple to suck.^ 

Lastly, a tale told at Hardwir brings us probably nearer 
the real origin of the rite. Holikd. or Holi was, they say, 
sister of Sambat or Sanvat, the Hindu year. Oncei at the 
beginning of all things, Sambat died, and Holi in her exces- 
sive love for her brother insisted on being burnt on his pyre, 
and by her devotion he was restored to life. The Holt fire 
is now burnt every year to commemorate this tragedy. 

Propitiation of Sunshine. 

There seems to be little doubt- that the custom of burnings 
the Holt fire rests on the same basis as that of similar obser- 
vances in Europe. The whole subject has recently beett 
copiously illustrated by Mr. J. G. Frazer.* His conclusion 
is that " they are sun charms or magical ceremonies intended" 
to ensure a proper supply of sunshine for men, animals, and 
plants. We have seen that savages resort to charms for 
making sunshine, and we need not wonder that primitive 
man in Europe has done the same. Indeed, considering the 
cold and cloudy climate of Europe during a considerable 
portion of the year, it is natural that sun charms should 
have played a much more prominent part among the super- 
stitious practices of European peoples than among those of 
savages who live near the equator. This view of the festival 
in question is supported by various considerations drawn 
partly from the rites themselves, partly from the influences 
they are believed to exert on the weather and on vegetation- 
For example, the custom of rolling a burning wheel down a. 
hill-side, which is often observed on these occasions, seems 
a very natural imitation of the sun's course in the sky, and 
the imitation is particularly appropriate on Midsummer Day,. 

1 Buchanan, ''Eastern India," ii. 480; Wilson, "Essays," ii. 233; 
Atkinson, ** Himilayan Gazetteer," ii. 867 sq. ; " Panjib Notes and 
Queries," iii, 127 ; Growse, ** Mathura," 56. 

* "Golden Bough,^ ii. 246; and see Conway, " Demonology," i. 65 
sqq. ; Henderson, " Folk-lore of the Northern Counties/* 72 sqq. ; Gregor, 
" Folk-lore of North-East Scotland," 167 sq. ; Brand, " Observations,'*" 
165 sqq. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies, 315 

when the sun's annual declension begins. Not less graphic 
is the imitation of his apparent revolution by swinging a 
burning tar barrel round a pole. The custom of throwing 
blazing discs^ shaped like suns^ into the air, is probably also 
a piece of imitative magic." ' In these, as in so many cases, 
the magic force is supposed to take effect through mimicry 
or sympathy. 

It is true, of course, that the climatic conditions of 
Northern India do not, as a rule, necessitate the use of 
incantations to produce sunshine. But it must be remem- 
bered that the native of the country does not look on the 
fierceness of the summer sun with the same dread as is felt 
by Europeans. To him it is about the most pleasant and 
healthy season of the year, and people who are sometimes 
underfed and nearly always insufficiently dressed have more 
reason to fear the chills of December and January than the 
warmth of May and June. It is also usually recognized in 
popular belief that seasonable and sufficient rainfall depends 
on the due supply of sunshine. 

The HolI Observances. 

The HoU, while generally observed in Northern India, is 
performed with special care by the cowherd classes of the 
land of Braj, or the region round the city of Mathura, where 
the myth of Krishna has been localized, and it is here that 
we meet with some curious incidents which are undoubtedly 
survivals of the most primitive usages. 

The ceremonies in vogue at Mathura have been very care- 
fully recorded by Mr. Growse.' He notes " the cheeriness 
of the holiday-makers as they throng the narrow, winding 
streets on their way to and from the central square of the 
town of Barsina, where they break into groups of bright and 
ever varying combinations of colour, with the buffooneries of 
the village clowns, and the grotesque dances of the lusty 
swains, who^ with castanets in hand, caricature in their 

» Frazcr, "Golden Bough," ii. 268. » ** Mathura," 84 sq. 

3i6 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

movements the conventional graces of the Indian ballet 

"Then follows a mock fight between the men of the 
adjoining village of Nandgd.nw and the women of Bars&na. 
The women have their mantles drawn down over their faces 
and are armed with long, heavy bamboos, with which they 
deal their opponents many shrewd blows on the head and 
shoulders. The latter defend themselves as best they can 
with round leather shields and stag horns, as they dodge in 
and out among the crowd, and now and again have their 
flight cut oif, and are driven back upon the crowd of excited 
viragoes. Many laughable incidents occur. Not unfre- 
quently blood is drawn ; but an accident of this kind is re- 
garded rather as an omen of good fortune*, and has never been 
known to give rise to any ill-feeling. Whenever the fury of 
their female assailants appears to be subsiding, it is again 
excited by the men shouting at them snatches of ribald 

The Lighting of the HolI Fire. 

Next day the Holi fire is lit. By immemorial custom, the 
boys are allowed to appropriate fuel of any kind for the fire, 
the wood-work of deserted houses, fences, and the like, and 
the owner never dares to complain. We have the same 
■custom in England. The chorus of the Oxfordshire song 
sung at the feast of Gunpowder Plot runs, — 

A stick and a stake 
For King James's sake ; 
If you won't give me one, 

I'll take two, 
The better for me, 
The worse for you. 

This is chanted by the boys when collecting sticks for the 
bonfire, and it is considered quite lawful to appropriate any 
old wood they can lay hands on after the recitation of these 

Mr. Growse goes on to describe bow a large bonfire had 

* Dyer, " Popular Customs,** 414. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 317 

been stacked between the pond and the temple of Prahl&da 
(who, as we have already seen, is connected with the legend), 
inside which the local village priest, the Kherapat or Panda, 
who was to take the chief part in the performance of the 
day, was sitting, telling his beads. At 6 p.m. the pile was 
lit, and being composed of the most inflammable materials, 
at once burst into a tremendous blaze. The lads of the 
village kept running close round it, jumping and dancing 
and brandishing their bludgeons, while the Panda went 
round and dipped in the pond, and then with his dripping 
turban and loin-cloth ran back and made a feint of passing 
through the fire. In reality he only jumped over the outer- 
most verge of the smouldering ashes, and then dashed into 
his cell again, much to the dissatisfaction of the spectators, 
who say that the former incumbent used to do it much more 
thoroughly. If on the next recurrence of the festival the 
Panda shows himself equally timid, the village proprietors 
threaten to eject him as an impostor from the land which 
he holds rent-free, simply on the score of his being fire- 

It is hardly necessary to say that this custom of jumping 
through the fire prevails in many other places. We have 
already had an instance of it in the case of the fire worship 
of R&hu. In Greece people jump through the bonfires 
lighted on St. John's Eve. The Irish make their cattle 
pass through the fire, and children are passed through it in 
the arms of their fathers. The passing of victims through 
the fire in honour of Moloch is well known.^ 

The Throwing of the Powder. 

In the Indian observance of the HoH next followed a 
series of performances characterized by rude horseplay and 
ribald singing. Next day came the throwing of the powder. 
*' Handfuls of red powder, mixed with glistening talc, were 
thrown about. Up to the balconies, above and down on the 

» "Hunt, "Popular Romances," 208; "Folk-lore," i. 520; ii. 128; 
Dyer, /oc. at,, 234. 

3i8 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

heads of the people below; and seen through this atmo- 
sphere of coloured cloudy the frantic gestures of the throng, 
their white clothes and faces all stained with red and 
yellow patches, and the great timbrels with branches of 
peacocks' feathers, artificial flowers and tinsel stars stuck in 
their rims, borne above the players' heads, and now and 
then tossed up in the air, combined to form a curious and 
picturesque spectacle." 

Then followed another mock fight between men and 
women, conducted with perfect good-humour on both sides, 
and when it was all over, many of the spectators ran into 
the arena, and rolled over and over in the dust, or streaked 
themselves with it on the forehead, taking it as the dust 
hallowed by the feet of Krishna and the Gopis. 

The HolI in MIrwIr. 

Colonel Tod gives an interesting account of the festival 
as performed at Mirwir. He describes the people as 
lighting large fires into which various substances, as well as 
the common powder, were thrown ; and around which 
groups of children danced and screamed in the streets, 
*' like so many infernals ; until three hours after sunrise of 
the new moon of the month of Chait, these orgies are con- 
tinued with increased vigour; when the natives bathe, 
change their garments, worship, and return to the ranks of 
sober citizens, and princes and chiefs receive gifts from their 
domestics." ^ 

The Ashes of the HolI Fire. 

The belief in the efficacy of the HolI fire in preventing 
the blight of crops, and in the ashes as a remedy for disease, 
has been already noticed. So in England, the Yule log was 
put aside, and was supposed to guard the house from evil 

» "Annals," i. 599 sq. * Dyey^ /^^^ ^it^ 52. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 319 

The Basis of the HolI Rite. 

We have seen that the primary basis of this and similar 
xites is probably the propitiation of sunshine. But the 
present observances in India are probably a survival of a 
very much more primitive cultus. We have already seen 
that in one form of the popular legend, Holl is the sister of 
Sambat, the year, and revived him from death by burning 
berself with his corpse. We find the same idea in NepAl, 
where a wooden post adorned with flags is erected in front 
of the palace, and this is burned at night, representing the 
"burning of the body of the old year, and its re-birth with 
each succeeding spring.* 

The Drdvidian Hill tribes of Mirzapur do not perform 
the Hoi! ceremony like their Hindu neighbours, but on 
the same date the Baiga burns a stake, a ceremony which 
is known as Sambat Jalind, or "the burning of the old 

In Kumaun each clan puts up the Chir or rag-tree. A 
middle-sized tree or a large branch is cut down and stripped 
of its leaves. Young men go round and beg scraps of cloth, 
which are tied to the tree, and it is then set up in the middle 
of the village. Near it the Holl fire is burnt. On the last 
day the tree itself is burnt, and the people jump over the 
ashes as a cure for itch and similar diseases. While the tree 
is burning, men of other clans try to snatch away some of 
the rags. It is regarded as being very propitious to be able 
to do this, and the clan which loses is not allowed to set up 
the tree again. Faction fighting in order to gain the right 
of setting up the tree has practically ceased under British 

The ceremony in another form appears at Gw&lior. 
There, instead of a tree, they burn large heaps of cowdung 
fuel. The Marwdris erect a nude figure known as Nathurdm, 
made of bricks, of a most disgusting shape. This, when 
the pile of cowdung cakes is consumed, is broken to pieces 

1 Wright, « History," 41. 

2 " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 92. 

320 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

with blows of shoes and bludgeons. Another beautifully 
carved image of the same kind is paraded through the 
bazars and kept safely from year to year. This Nathurim 
is said to have been a scamp from some part of Northern 
India, who went to Mirwir and seduced a number of women, 
until he was detected and put to death. He then became a 
malignant ghost and began to torment women and children, 
and now his spirit can be appeased only by a series of 
indecent songs and gestures performed by the women. No 
M4rw£lri household is without an image of Nathur4m; and a 
representation of him is laid with the married pair after the 
wedding, while barren women and those whose children die 
pray to him for offspring. He is in short a phallic fetish. 

The HoH, then, in its most primitive form, is possibly an 
aboriginal usage which has been imported into Br&hmanism. 
This is specially shown by the functions of the Kherapat or 
village priest, who lights the fire. He is sometimes a 
Br&hman, but often a man drawn from the lower races. As 
we have seen, his duties among the Drdvidian races are per- 
formed by the Baiga, who is always drawn from the non- 
Aryan races. It seems probable that the legends connecting 
the rite with Prahldda and Krishna are a subsequent inven- 
tion, and that the fire is really intended to represent the 
burning of the old year and the re-birth of the new, which 
they pray may be more propitious to the families, cattle, and 
crops of the worshippers. The observance seems also to in- 
clude certain ceremonies intended to scare the evil spirits 
which bring disease and famine. The compulsory entry of 
the local priests into the fire can hardly be anything but a 
survival of human sacrifice, intended to secure the same 
results ; and the dancing, singing, waving of flags, scream- 
ing, the mock fight, and the throwing of red powder, a colour 
supposed, as we have seen, to be obnoxious to evil spirits, 
are probably based on the same train of ideas. 

Finally comes the indecency of word and gesture, which 
is a distinct element in the rite. There seems reason to be- 
lieve that in the worship of certain deities in spring, pro- 
miscuous intercourse was regarded as a necessary part of the 

SoME^ Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 321 

ceremony.^ This appears at what is called the K&hi ka Mela 
in Kulu, in which indecency is supposed to scare evil spirits.' 
We have already noticed the practice of indecency as a rain 
charm^ and it seems at least a plausible h}rpothesis that the 
unchecked profligacy which prevails among the Hindus at 
the spring feast and at the Kajali in autumn may be intended 
to repel evil spirits which checkthefecundityof men, animals, 
and crops. The same idea probably also underlies the 
licentious observance of the Karama among the Drdvidian 
races. The same theory explains similar usages in Europe, 
such as the Lupercalia, Festum Stultorum, Matronalia 
Festa, Liberalia, and our own All Fools' Day, where the in- 
decent part of the performance has disappeared under the 
influence of a purer faith and a higher morality, and a little 
kindly merriment is its only survival. 

Of the mock fight as a charm for rain we have spoken 
already, and at the Holi it may be merely a fertility charm. 
Of these mock fights we have numerous instances in the 
customs of Northern India. Thus, in Kumaun, in former 
days at the Bagwdh festival the males of several villages used 
to divide into two bodies and sling stones at each other across 
a stream. The results were so serious that it was suppressed 
after the British occupation of the country.* The people in 
some places attribute the increase of cholera and other 
plagues to its discontinuance. In the plains, the custom 
survives in what is known as the Barra, when the men of two 
villages have a sort of Tug of War with a rope across the 
boundary of the village. Plenty is supposed to follow the 
side which is victorious. 

Another of these spring rites is that known as the R41i 
ka Mela in Kdngra, the R41i being a sort of rude image of 
Siva or P&rvati. The girls of the village in March take 
baskets of Dftb grass and flowers, of which they make a 
heap in a selected place. Round this they walk and sing 
for ten days, and then they erect two images of Siva and 

1 "Folk-lore," ii. 178 ; "Herodotus," ii. 58. 
' " North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 184. 
' Ibid., iii. 17, 99. 



322 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

P4rvat!, who are married according to the regular rites. At 
the conjunction or Sankr&nt in the month of Baisdkh the 
images are flung into a pool and mock funeral obsequies are 
performed. The object of the ceremonial is said to be to 
secure a good husband.* 

In Gorakhpur this spring rite takes the form of hunting 
and crucifying a monkey on the village boundary. This is 
said to be intended to scare these animals, which injure the 
crops. But the rite seems to be intended to secure fertility, 
and is possibly the survival of aYi actual sacrifice. 

Of the same class is what is known in the Hills as the 
Badw&r rite, where a Dom, one of the menial castes, is made 
to slide down a rope from a high precipice. The intention 
is to promote the fertility of the crops and expel the demons 
of disease. 

Marriage of the Powers of Vegetation. 

Mr. Frazer has collected instances of the marriage of the 
powers of vegetation, of which we have a survival in the 
English King and Queen of the May. This seems to be 
the explanation of the remarkable rite among the Kharw&rs, 
of which Mr. Forbes has given an account.' 

" One of the most remarkable of the Kharwir deities is 
called Durgdgiya Deoti ; this spirit rejoices in the name of 
Mflchak Rinl. She is a Chamirin by caste, and her home 
is on a hill called BuhorSj ; her priests are Baigas. All the 
Kharwars regard her with great veneration, and offer up 
pigs and fowls to her several times during the year. Once 
a year, in the month of Aghan, what is called the Kslruj 
Pfiji takes place in her honour. 

"The ceremony is performed in the village threshing- 
floor, when a kind of bread and kids are offiered up. Once 
in three years the ceremony of marrying the Rdnl is per- 
formed with great pomp. Early in the morning of the 
bridal day both men and women assemble with drums and 

* " Indian Antiquary," xi. 297. 

* "North Indian Notes and Queries," iii. 24. 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 323 

horns, form themselves into procession and ascend the hill, 
singing a wild song in honour of the bride and bridegroom. 
One of the party is constituted the priest, who is to perform 
the wedding ceremony. This man ascends the hill in front 
of the procession, shouting and dancing till he works him- 
self into a frenzy. The procession halts at the mouth of a 
cave, which does, or is supposed to, exist on the top of the 
hill. The priest then enters the cave and returns bearing 
with him the Rint, who is represented as a small oblong- 
shaped and smooth stone, daubed over with red lead. After 
going through certain antics, a piece of Tasar silk cloth is 
placed on the Rdnf s head, and a new sheet is placed below 
her, the four corners being tied up in such a manner as to 
allow the Rani, who is now supposed to be seated in her 
bridal couch, to be slung on a bamboo, and carried like a 
dooly or palanquin. 

" The procession then descends the hill and halts under 
a Banyan tree till noon, when the marriage procession starts 
for the home of the bridegroom, who resides on the Kandi 

" On their arrival there, offerings, consisting of sweetened 
milk, two copper pice, and two bell-metal wristlets, are 
presented to the bride, who is taken out of her dooly and 
put into the cave in which the bridegroom, who, by the 
way, is of the Agariya caste, resides. This cave is supposed 
to be of immense depth, for the stone goes rolling down, 
striking the rocks as it falls, and the people all listen eagerly 
till the sound dies out, which they say it does not do for 
nearly half an hour. 

" When all is silent, the people return rejoicing down the 
hill, and finish off the evening with a dance. The Strangest 
part of the story is that the people believe that the caves 
on the two hills are connected, and that every third year 
the Rint returns to her father's house. They implicitly 
believe that the stone yearly produced is the same. The 
village Baigas could probably explain the mystery. 

•* In former times the marriage used to take place every 
year, but on one occasion, on the morning succeeding the 

Y 2 

324 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

marriage ceremony, the R&ni made her appearance in the 
Baiga's house. The Baiga himself was not present, but his 
wife, who was at home, was very indignant at this flightiness 
on the part of the Rknt, and the idea of her going about the 
country the morning after her marriage so shocked the 
Baig^in's sense of propriety, that she gave the Rknt a good 
setting down, and called upon her to explain herself, and as 
she could give no satisfactory account of her conduct, she 
was punished by being married every three years, instead of 
yearly as before." 

The mock marriage of Ghazi Miy«Ln, to which some 
reference has been already made, a very favourite rite 
among the Musalm&ns and low Hindu castes of the North. 
Western Provinces, is very possibly the survival of some 
non-Ar3ran rite of this kind, performed to secure the annual 
revival of the year and the powers of vegetation. 

The DrIvidian Saturnalia. 

Some of the Dravidian tribes enjoy the Saturnalia in other 

Thus, the Gond women have the curious festival known 
as Gurt6tn4 or "breaking of the sugar." "A stout pole about 
twelve or fifteen feet high is set up, and a lump of coarse 
sugar with a rupee in it placed on the top ; round it the 
Gond women take their stand, each with a little green 
tamarind rod in her hands. The men collect outside, and 
each has a kind of shield made of two parallel sticks joined 
with a cross-piece held in the hand to protect themselves 
from the blows. They make a rush together, and one of 
them swarms up the pole, the women all the time plying 
their rods vigorously ; and it is no child's play, as the 
men's backs attest next day. When the man gets to the top, 
he takes the piece of sugar, slips down, and gets off as 
rapidly as he can. This is done five or six times over with 
the greatest good-humour, and generally ends with an attack 
of the women en masse upon the men. It is the regular 
Saturnalia for the women, who lose all respect, even for a 

Some Rural Festivals and Ceremonies. 325 

settlement officer ; and on one occasion when he was 
looking on, he only escaped by the most abject submission 
and presentation of rupees." * 

The Bhlls of Gujardt plant a small tree or branch firmly 
in the ground. The women stand near it, and the men out- 
side. One man rushing in tries to uproot the tree, and the 
men and women fall upon him and beat him so soundly that 
he has to retire. He is succeeded by another, who is be- 
laboured in the same way,, and this goes on till one man 
succeeds in bearing off the tree^ but seldom without a load 
of blows which cripples him for days»*. 

All these mock combats have their parallels in English 
customs, such as the throwing of the hood at Haxey, the 
football match at Derby, the fighting on Lammas Day at 
Lothian, and hunting of the ram at Elton*' 

The Desauli of the Hos. 

The Hos of Chutia N&gpur have a similar festival, the 
Desauli held in January, '*^when the granaries are full of 
grain, and the people are, to use their own expression, * full 
of devilry ! ' They have a strange notion that at this period 
men and women are so overcharged with vicious propensities 
that it is absolutely necessary for the safety of the person to 
let off steam by allowing for the time full vent to the passions. 
The festival, therefore, becomes a sort of Saturnalia, during 
which servants forget their duty to their masters, children 
their reverence for their parents, men their respect for 
women, and women all notions of gentleness, modesty, and 
delicacy ; they become raging Bacchantes. It opens with a 
sacrifice to Desauli of three fowls, a cock and two hens, one 
of which must be black,, and offered with some flowers of the 
PaUsa tree {Butea frondosd)^ bread made from rice flour and 
sesamum seeds. The sacrifice and offering are made by the 
village priest, if there be one, or if not by any elder of the 
village who possesses the necessary legendary lore ; and he 

* " Hoshangibid Settlement Report/' 126 sq. 

' ** Bombay Gazetteer,'* vi. 29. 

» Dyer^ ** Popular Customs," 32, 75, 85, 353 sq. 

326 Folk-lore of Northern India. 

prays that during the year they are going to enter on they 
and their children may be preserved from all misfortune 
and sickness, and that they may have seasonable rain and 
good crops. Prayer is also made in some places for the 
souls of the departed. At this period an evil spirit is sup- 
posed to infest the locality, and to get rid of it, men, women, 
and children go in procession round and through every part 
of the village with sticks in their hands, as if beating for 
game, singing a wild chant and vociferating loudly, till they 
feel assured that the bad spirit must have fled, and they 
make noise enough to frighten a legion. These religious 
ceremonies over, the people give themselves up to feasting, 
drinking immoderately of rice-beer till they are in a state of 
wild ebriety most suitable for the purpose of letting off 
steam." ' 

With these survivals of perhaps the most primitive ob- 
servances of the races of Northern India we may close this 
survey of their religion and folk-lore. To use Dr. Tylor's 
words in speaking of savage religions generally, " Far from 
its beliefs and practices being a rubbish heap of miscel- 
laneous folly, they are consistent and logical in so high a 
degree as to begin, as soon as even roughly classified, to 
display the principles of their formation and development ; 
and these principles prove to be essentially rational, though 
working in a mental condition of intense and inveterate 

* Dalton, " Descriptive Ethnology,** 196 sq. 
» ** Primitive Culture,'* i. 22 sq. 


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Abdul Qadir JiiJIni, a saint, I. 

Abdul Wahid, a Pir, I. 203. 
Abhramu, the elephant, II. 239. 
Abor tribe, belief in tree spirits, II. 78. 
Abu 'Ali Qalandar, a saint, I. 218. 
Abul FazI, murder of, I. 138. 
Acberi, a Bhiit, I. 137, 263. 
Achilles, horses of, II. 205. 
Adbhiitandthaj a deified aerolite, I. 82. 
Aditi, the eternal Mother, I. iii, 242. 
Aditya, worship of, I. 5. 
Adonis, I. 48. 
Aerolites, theory regarding, I. 82 ; 

used as fetish stones, I. 82. 
Aeshma, I. 280. 
Aetites, the, I. 1 16. 
Agamukhi. a demon, II. 324. 
Aiiariya tribe, respect for iron, II. 12 ; 

instruction in witchcraft, II. 264. 
Agarw^la tribe, worship of the ass, II. 

209; of the snake, II. 139. 
Agastya, the saint, I. 25, 64, 76, 77. 
AghSsura, the serpent king, II. 130. 
Aghorpanthi sect, eaters of human 

flesh, II. 171. 
Agni, the fire god, I. 2 ; II. 156, X92 ; 

well of, I. 53. 
Agnidurga^ worship of, I. 9$. 
Agnikunda, the fire-pit, II. 196. 
Agwin, worship of, I. 128. 
Agwdni, sister of Sttala, I. 128. 
Ahalya, legend of. I. 13. 
Ahban RSjput, a totem sept, II. 149. 
Aheriya tribe, barring the ghost, II. 

57 ; sheep worship, II. 226 ; sun 

worship, I. 9 ; worship of V&lmiki, 

I. 195. 
Ahi, the weather dragon, I. 66; II. 

123, 126. 
Ahiran, worship of, II. 122. 
Ahiwdsi, a totem tribe, II. 149. 

Aindrini, one of the Mothers, I. 112. 

Air, spirits of the, I. 65. 

A'rivata, a sacred elej^nt, II. 239. 

Airi, a BhAt, I. 261. 

Aiyan^, worship of, I. 262. 

*Ajab S&lSr, a Plr, I. 205. 

Ak^h Bel creeper, a charm for barren- 
ness, I. 227. 

Akata Btr, wcnrship of, I. 255. 

Akbar, rules about cow-killing. IL 
235 ; fire worship, IL 196 ; sun 

^ worship, I. 7. 

Akh tree, marriage with, II. 115, 117. 

Akhttj, a rural festival, II. 287. 

Akshaya Vata, a sacred tree, II. 98. 

Alakhiya sect, fetish worship of the 
alms-bag, II. 186. 

Alam Sayyid, a saint, II. 206. 

AUwaka, a Yaksha, II. 80. 

Alexander of Macedon, legend of, I. 


AJha and Udal, song of, used as a rain 
charm, I. 75 ; II. 293 ; supposed to 
be still alive, I. 283. 

'Ali, one of the Ptrs, I. 202 ; wor- 
shipped by wrestlers, I. 87. 

All Fools' Day, II. 321. 

Alligator, a sacred animal, II. 252. 

Amivas, a day of rest for cattle, II. 


Amazons, the, II. 7. 

Amba Bhawftni, worship of, I. 113. 

Amber bead, used as an amulet, li. 19. 

Amethyst, a sacred stone, IL 17, 18. 

Amina Sati, a Pir, I. 205. 

Amputation, prejudice against, L 280. 

Amrita, legend of, I. 19. 

Amritsar, lake of, I. 58. 

Amulets, II. 15, 37. 

Anasdya, legend of, I. 39. 

Ancestors, worship of, I. 175 ; identi- 
fied with the soil godling, I. 106 ; 
re-born in a calf, 1. 179 ; re-bom in a 
child, I. 179; worship connected 



with tree worship, II. 83 ; with 
snake worship, II. 145. 

Androclus and the lion, II. 210. 

Animal, a demon scarer, 1 1. 203 ) parts 
of, used in amulets, II. 38, 203 ; 
euphemism in connection with, II. 
54; grateful, II. 202; house and 
tomb haunters, II. 203 ; representing 
the Com Spirit, II. 204: under- 
standing human speech, II. 202; 
worship of, II. 201 sqa. 

Animism, theory of, II. 83, 183. 

Anjana, the elephant, II. 2^1, 

Anjanavati, the elephant, II. 239. 

Anka, the, II. 158. 

Annadeva, the food godling, II. 11. 

Annapilma, worship of, I. 283. 

Ant, the, II. 256. 

Ant&i, the whoopiug cough Mother, I. 

Antelope, the, II. 238. 
Ant-hill, an altar, I. 10 ; II. 256 
Anumati, a title of the moon, I. 15. 
Anupama, the elephant, IL 239. 
Anvil, sacred, I. 74 ; II. 14. 
Aonla, a sacred tree, II. 102. 
Apis, worship of, II. 229. 
Appointment, charm to obtain, I. 152. 
Apsaras, the, I. 265. 
Arani, the fire drill, II. 107, 194. 
Arch, mystic effect of, I. 117. 
Ardhanari, a title of Siva, I. 1 12. 
Argha, the, II. 16. 
Arjan, a snake godling, II. 133. 
Arrow causing a well to flow, I. 52. 
Arthur, King. I. 283. 
Artisans, fetishes of, II. 186. 
Arunah Ketavah, the, I. 19* 
Arvan, the, II. 205. 
Asapura, a Mother, I. 113. 
Asarori, worship of, I. 115. 
Ascetics, use of dust, I. 29. 
Asgara, the fire drill, II. 194. 
Ash tree connected with snakes, II. 

AshUb-ul-kabf, the, I. 283. 
Asherah, the, II. 86 
Ashes, footmarks of ghosts seen in, I. 

176 ; II. 73 ; respect for, 1. 292 ; 

from a cremation ground, I. 261 ; of 

the sacred fire, II. 197, 318. 
Ashma stone, the, II. 61. 
Ashraf 'Ali, shrine of, I. 225. 
Ashta Matri, the, I. 112. 
Asmodeus, I. 280. 
Asoka, pillars of, I. gt. 
Aspen, a sacred tree, II. q8. 
Ass, worship of, II. 208 : in a panther's 

skin, II. 209 ; the vehicle of Sttala, 

I. 136 ; II. 209. 

Assis-ins, sect of, I. 215. 
Astbhuja Devi, worship of, I. 63, 284. 
Astika Muni, legend of, II. 139. 
Asuras, the, I. 251, 282. 
Asvamedha, rite, II. 204. 
Athletes, patron of, I. 210. 
Athr&ha ka manka, the, II. 41. 
Atmadevata, worsMp of, I. 112. 
Augar sect, eaters of human flesh, II. 

Aula Btbi, a disease goddess, I. 130. 
Avalanche, demon of, I. 264. 
Avat^, an incarnation, II. 156. 
Axe, a fetish, II. 184. 


BAba Kap^r, a saint, I. 219. 
Babiil, sacred tree, II. 114. 
Bachelor ghosts, I. 261. 
Bachgoti Rftiput sept, objection to 

potatoes, II. 158. 
Bachla Devi, worship of, II. 176. 
Bad smells offensive to BhAts, II. 21. 
Badarinith, shrine at, I. 127. 
BaHiya tribe, tree worship, II. 91. 
Badw&r rite, the, II. 322. 
Bagaha, worship of, I. 267. 
Bagilya, a whirlwind sprite, I. 81. 
B4garwdla, a title of Gilga, I. 211. 
Bi^di tribe, respect for the Sal tree, 

II. 100. 
BUgh.Bhiit, the tiger gho<it, II. 213. 
Bigh Deo, the tiger godling, II. 213. 
Bigh Jitra, the tiger festival, II. 212. 
Baghel Rajput sept, respect for the 

tiger, II. 211. 
Bigheswar, worship of, I. 256 ; II. 

78, 213. 
Bagh<;u N&g, worship of, II. 126. 
Baghw&h festival, the, II. 321. 
BahS.-ud-din Zikariya, a Ptr, I. 203, 

Bahdwal Haqq, the saint, I. 228. 
Baheliya tribe, worship of VUlmtki, I. 

Bahlano, a Ptr, I. 205. 

Baiga,adevil piiest, I. 95, 147, 152, 

157 9 proceedings as a ghost-finder, 

I. 103, 152. 
Bairim, a saint, I. 221. 
Bais Rajput sept, snake descent, II. 

124, 152. 
Baiswir tribe, sword worship, II. 185. 
Baitai, aBhiit, I. 2^3. 
BIjgi tribe, totemism, II. 152. 
Bajr^vat tribe, tiger origin, II. 211. 
Bakhtiyir tribe, totemism, II. X5a 



B&laji, worship of. II. 335. 

B&lakhiiya, the, I. 244. 

Bila tribe, sun worship among, I. 9. 

BUla P!r, a saint, I. 220. 

Balarfima, legend of, I. 37. 

Baldness, a protection against the Evil 

Eye, II. 36. 
Bali, a Daitya, I. 252. 
Bamboos, respect for, II. 1 13. 
Bandarpiinchh hill, the, I. 87. 
Band6, a Ptr, I. 205. 
Bangara, a codling of fever, I. 136. 
BangaraBii, worship of, II. 182. 
Banhi, worship of, H^ 181. 
Bani Isr&el tribe, broom worship, II. 

191 ; birth rites, 1. 277 ; burial rites, 


Banj&ra tribe, bull worship, II. 235 ; 

corpse removal, II. 56 ; barring the 

ghost, II. 56 ; continence, tests of, 

II. 105 ; use of horns. II. 225 ; 

worship of Mitthu BhAkhiya, I. 197. 
B&npa N&g, worship of, II. 125. 
Bansapti M&i, the jungle Mother, I. 

62, 115. 
Banshee, the, I. 256. 
B&nsphor tribe, respect for trees, II. 

Banya, influencing rain, I. 78. 
Banyan tree, the, II. 98. 
Bara Deo, worship of, I. 61 ; II. 103. 
B&rahdudri, worship of, I. 105. 
Barant a, well of, I. 52. 
Barbarossa. I. 283. 
Barbers, saint of, I. 204. 
Bareheaded person influencing rain, I. 

Bargaballi tribe, totemism, II. 154. 
Barhiwan, the, II. 31 1. 
Barley, a sacred grain, I. 152, 227 ; II. 

Barra rite, the, II 321. 
Barrenness, cures for, I. 50, 68, 69, 87, 

100, 160, 225 ; II. 190 ; caused by 

wandering spirits, II. 86. 
Barring the ghost, II. 56. 
Barun, a weather godling, I. 2. 
Barw^r tribe, worship of the Ptr, I. 

Basant Sh&h, a saint, I. 59. 
Basanti, the sister of Sttala, I. 128. 
Basket, a fetish, II. 113, 189 ; upturned, 

II. 309. 
Basor tribe, barring the ghost. II. 58. 
Bisuk N^, the snake god, II. 131. 
Bat, the, I. 279 ; bone ot, II. 45. 
Bathing, ceremonial, II. 25 ; a cure for 

disease, I. 39 ; at eclipses^ I. 22 ; in 

the Ganges, I. 37. 
Battlefield ghosts, I. 259. 

Battnk Bhairon, a godling, I. 109. 

Baudhin worship of, II. 81. 

Bauri tribe, respect for the dog, II. 

222 ; for the S&l tree. II. loi. 
B&wariya tribe, goat sacrifice, I. 263 ; 

totemism, II. 154; tree marriage. It. 

Bayard, IT. 205. 
Bazar prices fixed by Khw&ja Khizr, I. 

Bead, a protective, I. 115; II. 19. 
Bean, sacred, II. 27. 
Bear, the, II. 242. 
Beasts, unclean, II. 158. 
Beauty regained by bathing, I. 59. 
Bed, flying, II. 2di5. 
Bel and the Dragon, II. 73. 
Bel tree, sacred, II. 86, 112 ; marriage 

with, II. 117. 
Bela, worship of, I. 199. 
Bell, rung to scare Bh^te, I. 78 ; use 

of, I. 167 ; worship of, 1. 168. 
Beoh&r B&ba, worship of, I. 255. 
Ber^, a cholera Mother, I. 113. 
Beriya tribe, use of the broom, II. 191. 
Bero, a title of the sun, I. 9. 
Betel planting, II. 303 ; nuts scrambled 

for, I. 50. 
Bethgelert, legend of, II. 130, 221. 
Bhidon, new moon of, I. 16. 
Bhadra Kill, a sister of Sttala, I. 129 
Bhigiratha, a saint, I. 35. 
Bhagwin. a title of the sun, I. 9. 
Bhiilla, worship of, I. 8. 
Bhainsasura, a demon, I. 44. 
Bhains^uri Devi, worship of, I. 85. 
Bhairava, worship of, I. 04^ 108. 
Bhairavi, worship of, I. 3, 108. 
Bhairoba, worship of, I. 108. 
Bhairon 1 worship of, I. 84, 107, 
Bhaironnith / 109, 205, 209 ; II. 219. 
Bhairwanand, worship of, I. 195. 
Bhajang, a snake godiing, I. 214. 
Bhdkur, a bugaboo, II. 82. 
Bhandari tribe, repelling the Churel, 

I. 272. 
Bhiradvaja. a totem sept. II. 149. 
Bhiskatacharya, legend of, I. 7. 
bhitiya tribe, horse worship, II. 208. 
Bhitu tribe, respect for the crow, II. 244. 
Bhekal N^, worship of, II. 125. 
Bherunda, a Yogini, I. 129. 
Bhtl tribe, worship of Amba Bhavdni, 

I. 113; horse worship, II. 208; 

charming of rain, I. 73 ; origin from 

the tiger. II. 21 1 ; rite of Sati, I. 186 ; 

Saturnalia, II. 325 ; tree marriage, 

IT. 119; witchcraft, II. 261. 



BhtmpenlM'orship of, I. 66, 89,250; 
Bhfmsen < II. 182 ; lice of, I. 58. 
Bhtshma, worship of, I. 36, 92. 
Bhtw^u, worship of, L 9a 
Bhokaswa, a bugaboo, II. 82. 
Bholanith, worship of, I. 194, 280. 
Bhomkaia village priest, I. 95, 153, 
Bhop>a / 157 ; II. 213. 
Bhotiya tribe, religious rites, I. 173; 

II. 65 ; worship of Sain, II. 81. 
Bhriwari, worship of, I. 55. 
Bhuiya tribe, ancestor worship, I. 178 ; 

of Bhtmsen, I. 91 ; human sacritice, 

II. 175 ; recalling; the dead, I. 182 ; 

respect for the Mahua tree, II. 103 ; 

monkey worship, I. 86, 88 ; sun 

worship, I. 9. 
Bhuiydr tribe, ancestor worship, I. 178 ; 

dream ghosts, I. 233 ; food for the 

dead, II. 69 ; tiger worship, II. 213. 
Bhujariya rite, II. 293. 
Bhdkhi M^ta, worship of, I. 1 1 6. 
Bhdmak, a village priest, I. 90. 
Bhiimij tribe, buffalo huut» I, 173; 

funeral feast, II. 71. 
BhOmisvara Mahideva, worship of, I« 

Bhiimtsvari Devi, worship of, I. 107, 
Bhumiya, worship gX^ I. 12, 74, 95, 

Bhdmiya R&ni, worship of, I. 105. 
Bhfira Sinh, worship of, II. 132. 
Bhusundi, the crow, II. 244. 
Bhfit, a malignant ghost, I. 234 ; food 

of, I. 236 ; places infested by, I. 

277 ; posture of, I. 237 ; speech of, 

I. 238; tests of, I. 237; treasure 

guarded by, I. 286 ; varieties of, I. 

242 ; worship of, I. 94. 
Bhi^t Bhairon, worship of, I. 109. 
Bhutisvara, a title of Siva, I. 234. 
Bibi Kamilo, a saint, I. 218, 221. 
Bibi Ri6, worship of, I. 209. 
Bijaliya Bir, a lightning godling, I. 

Bijaysen, worship of, I. 137. 
Bijiesvari Devi, a goddess of lightning, 

I. 224. 

Bind tribe, worship of Kllsi B4ba, I. 

Binjhiya tribe, totemism, IT. 158. 
Bir, a ghost, I. 178, 253 ; a companion 

of the witch, II. 266. 
Birch, a sacred tree, II. 86, 114. 
Bird, marriage to, I. 236; II. 119; 

omens from, II. 48. 
Birhor tribe, respect for the bamboo, 

II. 113; cannibalism, II. 168; 
funeral rites, II. 56 ; tattooing, II. 

Bimath, worship of, II. 182. 

Birth rites, I. 277 ; fiends, I 264. 

Biruri Panchami feast, the, II. 137. 

Birwat, a demon, L 62. 

Biscobra, the, II. 140. 

Black Art, the, II. 259 sqq. 

Black colour, dreaded by evil spirits, 

I. 142 ; II. 3, 28, 50. 
Blacksmith, respect for the, I. 74 ; II. ] 

14, 24 ; saint of, I. 203. I 

Blight, averting of, II. 301. 

Blind of an eye, I. 77 ; II. 3. 

Blockberg, a haunt of witches, I. 61. 

Blood, bath of, II. 173; clouds dis- 
persed by, I. 80 ; covenant, II. 29, 
46 ; drawn from a victim by a witch, 

II. 269; drawn from a witch, II. 
282 ; human, powers of, I. 80 ; II. 
172; pollution by, I. 269; a pro- 
tective, II. 19 ; survival of sacrifice 
of, I. 51 ; taboo of, I. 27. 

Bloody Hand of Ulster, II. 39. 

Blot intentional, a protective, II. 3, 

Boar, a totem, II. 156. 
Boat, launched in honour of Khw&ja 

Khizr, I. 47 ; flying, II. 206. 
Bodhi tree, the, II. 98. 
Body, functions of, omens from, II. 51. 
Boils, cured at a shrine, I. 221 ; at a 

tank, I. 59. 
Bolster, the giant, I. 91. 
Bona Dea, the, I, 69. 
Boram, a title of the sun, I. 9 ; identi- 
fied with the monkey godling, I. 86 ; 

worship of, I. 86. 
Bottles tied to trees, I. 162. 
Boundaries guarded by the sainted 

dead, I. 182. 
Boys dressed as girls, II. 6. 
Bracelet, the, a protective, II. 43, 44. 
Brahm, a Brihman ghost, I. 192. 
Brahro Kap41, the, II. 180. 
Brahma, worship of, I. 2 ; vehicle of, 

II. 156 ; temple of, I. 54 ; skull of, 

I. 94 ; slipper of, II. 200. 
Brahmadaitya, the, I. 243 ; II. 77. 
Brahmagranthi, the, II. 47. 
Brahmaparusha, the, II. 78. 
Brahmaraksbasa, the, I. 253 ; II. 7& 
Brahmarandhra, the, I. 238. 
Brihman, ghosts of, I. 253 ; II 77 ; 

a god, I. 189 ; use of sacred grass, 

II. 36 ; suicide of, I. 193. 
Brahmani, worship of, I. 1 12. 
Br^mani duck, the. II. 247. 
Br^manical cord, the, II. 47. 
Brahmi, a mother, I. 112. 

Brass, a protective, II. 15 ; worship of, 
II. 12. 



Bride, false. II. 8 ; grain thrown over 
the, II. 26. 

Bridegroom revolving round the sacred 
fire, I. II; deified, I. 119; capture 
of, I. 121. 

Bridle, magic, II. 206. 

Briid, II. 73. 

Broado Koro, the, II 86. 

Brocken, the, an abode of witches, I. 

Broom, a fetish, I. 81, 133 ; II. 190. 

Brownie, II. 77. 

Bruce, legend of, I. 283. 

Buahna, a Pir, I. 205. 

Bu 'All Qalandar, a saint, I. 218. 

Buccas, the, I. 285. 

Bucephalus, II. 205. 

Buddha, begging bowl of, II. 38 ; con- 
nected with the hare, II. 50 ; fv>ot- 
print of, II. 199 ; relics of, causing 
rain, I. 75 ; shadow of, I. 233 ; 
sneezing superstition, I. 240 ; snake, 
descent of, II. 124 ; producing a 
well, I. 52. 

Buddhists, food for the dead, II. 69 ; 
worship of Indra, I. 66 ; moon wor- 
ship, I. 18 ; horse worship, II. 208. 

Buddhua, a kindly ghost, II. 81. 

Buffalo, rtspect for, II. 236 ; sacrificed. 
1. 173 ; vehicle of Yama, I. 169 ; II. 

Bugaboos, II. 82. 

Buildings, human sacrifices at, II. 173. 

Bull, released at a death. I. 105 ; hide 
of, II. 232 ; worship of, II. 226. 

Bundela, a title of Hardaul, I. 140. 

BAndi, RAja of, I. 257. 

Bunker's Hill, ghosts at, I. 259. 

B6rha Deo, human sacrifice in honour 
of, II. 170. 

Burh6 BUba, a Pir, I. 206. 

Burhiya MsU, a Mother, II. 181. 

Burial during epidemics, I. 136 ; face 
downwards, II. 60 ; grounds infested 
by Bhflts, 1. 277 ; of the nude corpse, 
I. 68 ; in trees, II. 103. 

Burmiya, a birth fiend, I. 265. 

Buma, a water demon, I. 45. 

Butchers, saint of, I. 204. 

Butterfly, a Life Index, II. 71. 

Caduceus, the, II. 178. 
Cairn, the, I. 39; II. 61, 198. 
Camel, bones of, II. 36. 
Canal, ancient traditions of, I. 37. 

Cannibal Rikshasa, the» I. 247, 253; 

II. 168. 
Cannibalism, II. 168. 
Canopus, the constellation, I. 25. 
Cap of invisibility, the, II. 43. 
Car flying, the, II. 2o5. 
Caste saints, I. 203. 
Castigation, I. 99 sq. 
Castor oil plant, a protective, II. 20, 

Cat, the, II. 241 ; metamorphosed into 

a girl, I. 93 ; companion of a witch, 

II. 27a 
Cat*s-cye stone, the, II. 17. 
Cattle disease charms, I. 71, 160, 166 ; 

disease demon, I. 144 1 festivals, II. 

297; superstitions regarding, II, 

Cauff riddling. II. 189. 
Cauld Lad otHilton. the, II. 77. 
Cave deities, I. 283 ; refuge of ascetics, 

I. 285 ; spirits, I. 282 ; burial in, I. 

Celts, magical powers of I. 97. 
Cemeteries, a haunt of Bhiits, I. 278, 

Chain, sacred, I. 99. 
Chakma tribe, sacrificial rites, II. 46; 

funeral ceremonies, II. 71. 
Chakratlratha, a sacred lake, I. 58. 
Chakravy^ha fort, the, I. 116. 
Chalauwa, the, I. 164. 
Chimar, worship of, I. 1 29. 
Chamanya, sister of Sttala, I. 129. 
Chamar tribe, branding of, I. 170 ; 

burial customs, I. 168 ; worship of 

Madain, II. 125 ; worship of the 

Ptr, I. 206 ; tattooing, 11. 32 ; 

totemism, II. 158. 
Chambal river, legend of, I. 39. 
Chambasapa, worship of, I. 183. 
Chambhir tribe, bunal rites, I. 30. 
Champaram, worship of, II. 182. 
Charaunda, worship of, I. 112 ; II. 168. 
Chance, element of, in superstition, I. 

Chindali, worship of, I. 95. 
Chandanh^r, an amulet, II. 44. 
Chandika, worship of, I. 3, 112; II. 

Chando Omal, the Moon deity, I. 10. 
Chin HSji, a saint, I. 287. 
Chandra, the Moon godling, I. 12. 
Chandrabansi Rijput sept, totemism, 


Chandragupta, descent from the bull, 

IL 153. 
Ching rite, the, II. 309. 
Changelings, I. 265. 
Chan wand, worship of, I. 106. 




Charact, the, II. 41. 

Charan tribe, burial rites, II. 60 ; 

women, worship of, I. 112. 
Charanamrita, the, I. 242. 
Charan DSs, a saint, I. 1S4. 
Charcoal, a protectivCt II. XO, 245 ; 

omens from, II. 50. 
Charms recited backwards, II. 276 ; 

used in exorcism, I. 159. 
Chauk Chanda festival, I. 17. 
Chaumu, worship of, II. 81. 
Chaunda Gusitn, worship of, II. 113. 
Chero tribe, sacred groves, II. 90 ; 

snake descent, II. 154; totemism, II. 


Cbajju-panthi sect, the, I, 184. 

Chatthi, a birth fiend, I. 265. 

Chhtpicaste, worship of Nimdeo, 1. 204. 

Chik tribe, totemism, II. 159. 

Children, exposed to attacks of Bitdts, 
I* 235 ; named after ancestors, I. 
179; offered to the Ganges, II. 169 ; 
protective godlings of, I. 137; re- 
garded as Bhiits, I. 260 ; vowed to 
Sakhi Sarwar, I. 209. 

Chilianw&la, ghosts at, I. 259. 

Chindiya Deo, worship of, I. 162. 

Chtr tree, the, II. 319. 

Chistiya Faquirs, I. 215. 

Chithariya ) Bhawini, worship of^ I. 

Chithraiya) 161. 

Chitpdwan tribe, birth rites, I. 277; 
marriage rites, II. 47. . 

Cholera, caused by witchcraft, I. 143 ; 
demon of, expeUed, I. 141 ; charm 
against, I. 141. 

Chondra tribe, use of vessels, II. 75. 

Chondu, the itch godling, I. 136. 

Chordeva, the field sprite, II. 79. 

Chordevan, a birth fiend, I. 264. 

Chordevi, a field sprite, II. 79. 

Churel, the, I. 269 ; modes oi repelling, 

I. 272 ; image of, painted on houses, 

II. 10. 

Chum used in hail charming, I. 80. 

Chyavana, legend of, I. 59. 

Circe, wand of, II. 178. 

Circle, magic, I. 103, 142; II. 41. 

City overturned, I. 217; selection of 

site, II. 50. 
Clay flung to disperse the whirlwind, 

I. 81. 
Cloak of invisibility, the, II. 43. 
Clod festival, the, I. 16. 
Clothes burnt with the corpse, II. 68 ; 

filthy, put on children, II. 6^ 
Clouiie*s Croft, I. 278 ; II. 92. 
Cloves, used in ceremonies, I. 152 ; II. 

Cock, sacrifice of, I. 20, 284. 

Cocoanut symbolizing a victim, I. 46, 

148, 227, 238 ; II. 106. 
Colours, protective, II. 28. 
Coluinn gun Cheann, I. 256. 
Conception by a ghost, 1. 1 18. 
Conch shell, the, I. 80 ; II. 16. 
Concord, ghosts at, I. 259. 
Confectioners, protection from the Evil 

Eye, II. 10. 
Copper, a protective, II. 15. 
Coral, a protective, II. 16. 
Cord, knotted, II. 43 ; magic, II. 46. 
Corn Mother, the, I. 117; II. 157; 

sieve, a fetish, I. 152; II. 187. 
Coronation stone, the, II. 179. 
Corpse, earned out by a special way, 

II. 56 ; articles left with, II 68 ; 

disinterring of, II. 65 ; parading <>f, 

II 62 ; protection of, II. 65 ; river 

springing from, I. 41 ; saluting, II. 

56 ; spectres, I. 243 ; tying of, I. 273. 
Cots, hung on shrines, I. 97. 
Cotton printers, saint of, I. 204 ; tree, 

respect for, II. 103; planting of, II. 

Counting, I. 274. 

Couvade, the, I. 113, 270, 274. 

Covetousness, a cause of &scination, II. 

Cow, worship of, II. 226 ; dung, virtue 

of, 1. 180 s II. 28 ; kilHng of, 1. 127 ; 

II. 227, 235; respect paid to, 11. 

232 ; sacrifice of, II. 64, 226 ; sh^d, a 

temple, II. 232 ; tail of, II. 233 ; a 

totem, II. 228. 
Cowry, a protective, II. 17. 
Crawling under a stone, 1. 227 ; II. 165. 
Creeling, rite of, II. 190. 
Criminal executed, influence over 

barrenness, I. 226. 
Cross roads, I. 77, 78, 165 
Crow, the, I. 166; II. 243; omens 

from, II. 48, 245. 
Crown worn by the bridegroom, I. 239. 
Cryiiig the Neck, II. 307. 
Cup marks, I 235. 
Curiosity taboo, the, I. 121, 238 ; II. 

57, 128. 
Currier's stone, the, II. 34. 
Cybele Rhoea, I. 117. 
Cyclopes, the, I. 2 ; II. 37. 
Cj^ress tree, the, II. 91. 

Dabh grass, sacred, I. 160. 
Dadhicha, II. 205. 
Dadhikra, II. 204. 



Dadh3ranch, II. 205. 

Didu» a saint, I. 184. 

Daemon, the, I. 234. 

DafSU caste, priests of the Ptr I. 206. 

Daharchandi posts, the, I. lOi. 

Daitra Btr, I. 255. 

Daitya, the, I. 255. 

Daitya ka HSr, the, I. 256. 

D&kini, the, I. 94. 

Diksha, legend of, I. 12. 

Dalbhyeswara, a weather godling, I. 

Dalhtm, the, I. 267. 
Dinapurwila Sahib, the, II. 179. 
Dance, sacred, I. 154 ; II. 95. 
Dando, a ^host, I. 262. 
Ding Diwili feast, the, II. 297. 
Dano, the, I. 233, 253, 284. 
Dantadhivana, the, II. 89. 
Dantan Deo, worship of, I. 119. 
Darbha grass, sacred, I. 273 ; II. 29. 
Darha, worship of, II. 113, 192. 
Darrapit Deo, a hill godling, I. 62, 
Dasaratha, l^end of, I. 228. 
Dast-i-ghdib, the, I. 214. 
Dattitreya, a saint, I. 196 ; II. 220. 
Days, lucky and unlucky, II. 52. 
Dead, offerings to, II. 6i8 ; road of the, 

II. ss. 
Death summons, the, I. 256 ; well of, 

II. 215. 
Deazil, rite of) I. 1 1. 
Debt, removed at a tank, I. 59. 
Deerhurst, dragon of, II. 130. 
Demeter, worship of, I. 26, 117. 
f)eo, ihe, I. 253. 

Deohir, a shrine, I. 97 ; II. 164. 
Deordsan, a demon, I. 62. 
Deota, the, I. 3. 
Deothin feast, the. II. 300. 
Desauli feast, the, II. 325. 
Deserts, a haunt of Bhiits, I. 278. 
Deva, the, I. 3. 
Devadekhni, the, I. 84. 
Devak, the, II. 155. 
Devaki, daughter of, I. 94. 
Devasena, a Mother, I. 112. 
Devi, worship of, I. 62, 84, 125, 236. 
Devi Dii, worship of, I. 32. 
Devil, clubfooted, I. 280. 
Devirs Punch Bowl, the, I. 54. 
Dhik, a sacred tree, II. iii. 
Dhiman snake, the, II. 141. 
Dhanchirya bird, the, II. 249. 
Dhingar tribe, barring the ghost, II. 

58 ; worship of R&u, 1. 19 ; to- 

temism, II. 150. 
Dhinuk tribe, ghost worship, I. 198. 
Dhanwantara, legend of, I. 196 ; II. 


Dharii ri, worship of, I. 26. 

Dharkir tribe, hill worship, I. 62. 

Dharmasila, a sacred hill, I. 64. 

Dharmdevata, a title of the sun, I. 9. 

Dharmi, a title of the sun, I. 10. 

Dharti Mata, worship of, I. 26, 32. 

Dhela Chauth Mela, the, I. 16. 

Dhenuir tribe, totemism, II. 159. 

Dhenuka, a demon, II. 208. 

Dhor tribe, marriage rites, II. 47. 

Dhriti, a Mother, I. 112. 

Dhruva, legend of, I. 24. 

Diamond, legend of, II. 18. 

Diarmid, legend of, II. 154. 

Dichali godling of death, I. 136. 

Dih, worship of, I. 95. 

Dill, a protective, II. 25. 

Direction of village shrines, I. 96. 

Dirty places, haunts of BhQts, 1. 293. 

DLsease, charms, I. 159; cured by 
fetish stones, II. 182 ; cured by the 
nudity charm, I. 70, 72 ; demoniacal 
theory of, I. 123 ; exorcism of, I. 
146 ; godlingsof, I. 123 ; scapegoats, 

I. 169 ; transference of, I. 104, 290. 
Distillers, worship of, I. 183. 

Diuli ceremony, ihe, I. 165. 
DiwSli festival, the. II. 295; water 
drawn at, I. 50 ; return ot spirits at, 

II. 74, 296. 

Dn3rindeva worship of, I. 196. 

Dog, connected with Bhairon, I. 108, 

160; II. 219; bite, charm for, I. 

151 ; a destroyer of corpses, II. 219 ; 

respect paid to grave of, II. 220; 

fairy, I. 243 ; associated with spirits, 

II. 222 ; tongue of, II. 223 ; tortured 

to stop rain, I. 77 ; wild, II. 223 ; 

worship of, II. 218. 
Dokarka!>wa, a bugaboo, II. 82. 
Dokhutiya, the, 1 1. 174. 
Doll producing water, I. 50. 
Dom tribe, respect for iron, II, 1 2 ; 

for the N!m tree, 11. 106 j worship 

of Gandak, I. 197. 
l>oniunha snake, the, II. 137. 
Dove, the, II. 246. 
Drac, a water demon, I. 44. 
Diagon, the, II. J 58 ; cave of, II. 130 

sq. ; sacred, II. 129. 
Drake, Sir F , I. 256. 
Draupadi, worship of, I. 94. 199. 
Dreams, savage theory of, I. 231. 
Drona Acbirya, worship of, I. 196, 
Driwned people, ghosts of, I. 45. 
Drowning people, prejudice against 

saving, I. 46. 
Drum, beaten at shrines, I. 95, 99 ; 

sacred, I. 28, 108. 
Diib grass, sacred, I. 49 ; II. 29, 45. 

Z 2 



Duck, used in disease transference, I. 

DMha Mai, worship of, II. 181. 
Ddlha Deo, worship of, I. 75, 119, 

292 ; II. 312. 
Ditnd, the headless horseman, I. 256. 
Dundhas, a RUkshasi, II. 313. 
Dundubhi, a buffalo demon, II. 237. 
Dung, offensive to Bhdts, II. 36. 
Diingar Deo, worship of, I. 61, 103. 
Durga Devi, vehicle of, II. 156; 

worship of, I. 3, 94 ; II. 108. 
Durga Ktli. sister of Sttala, I. 129. 
Durgilgiya Deota, II 322. 
DArva grass, sacred, II. 29. 
Dusadh tribe, worship of Gauraiya, I. 

197 ; of R^u, I. 19 ; of Salhes, I. 

Dust, mjrstic power of, I. 28. 
Dwira Gusdtn, worship of. I. 104. 
Dw^pila, a guardian deity, I. 84. 
Dyaus, worship of, I. 5, 36. 
layers, saint of, I. 203. 
Dying man laid on the ground, I. 27 ; 

II. 55. 


Eagle, feathers of, IL 215. 

Ear, a spirit entry, I. 242. 

Earth, dying person laid on, II. 55 ; 
flung into the grave, I. 30 ; a house- 
hold goddess, I. 29 ; a remedy for 
disease, I, 28 ; sleep of, II. 293 ; 
worship of, I. 26 ; worship of, a rain 
charm, I. 72. 

Earthen vessels broken at death and 
eclipses, I. 21 ; II. 74. 

Earthquakes, I. 35. 

Eating food from the hand of a corpse, 

I. 171 ; in secret, I. 293. 
Eclipses, I. 18; ol^rvances at, I. 21 ; 

protection of cattle at, II. 234. 
Eel, the, II. 255. 

Egg, belief regarding, I. 104; II. 13. 
Eilythyia, I. 115. 
Ekka, a totem sept, II. 151. 
Elder tree, respect for, II. 107. 
Eldest son, a family priesr, I. 177, 180. 
Elephant, the, II. 238 ; in folk-lore, 

II. 240 ; footsteps of, I. 28 ; con- 
nected with Ganesa, II. 239 ; hair of, 
II. 240 ; selecting a king, II. 240; 
white, II. 240. 

Elflocks, I. 107. 

Eiisha, the prophet, I. 48 ; staff of, II. 

Elisoeus, a saint, I. 48. 

Ellekone, the, I. 255. 
Elsie Venner, II, 126. 
Elves, the, II. 76. 
Embalming corpses, II. 65. 
Emerald, a sacred stone. II. 17. 
Emigration, due to displeasure of the 

load deities, I. loi. 
Eorosh, the, II. 158. 
Epilepsy, charms for, II. 45. 
Equilateral triangle, the, II. 39. 
Erinnyes, the, I. 126. 
Eumenides, the, I. 126. 
Euphemistic names of animals, II. 54, 

142 ; ot deities, I. 126. 
Europeans, ghosts of, I. 228 ; tombs 

of, II. 199 ; power over ghosts. II. 

9 ; figure of, painted on houses, II. 

Evergreen trees, 11. 85. 
Evil Eye, the, II. i sqq. ; causing 

cholera, I. 143 ; influencing rain, 

I. 78 ; charms to avert, I. 160 ; thto- 
ries regarding, II. 2 ; persons 
naturally protected from, II. 36. 

Exogamy, II. 148. 

Exorcism, of disease, I. 146 ; instruc- 
tion in, I. 147 ; of snake-bite, II. 

Eyes, offering of, I. 209 ; throbbing of, 

II. 52. 

Face, covering the, II. 47. 

Fairy, gifts, 1. 287; changelings, I. 
265 ; lake of gifts, I. 55 ; in the 
court of Indra, I. 66 ; haunting 
mountains, I. 61 ; guarding treasures, 

I. 249; successors of a pigmy race, 

II. 12. 

False Bride, the, II. 8. 

Family fetishes, II. 184. 

Famine, exorcism of, I. 1 16; goddess 

of, I. 116. 
Fan, a fetish, I. 133 ; II. 27, 187. 
Faqir, causing rain, I. 50. 
Fat, human, II. 176 ; of the eel. II. 

Ffttima, a Pir, I. 202 ; worship of, I. 

Faun, the, I. 264. 
Fazl-ul-haqq, I. 222. 
Feast, the funeral, II. 65. 
Feathers, a protective, II. 9. 
Fee I Fo ! Fum ! I. 246. 
Feet, turned backward, I. 238, 262, 

270 ; II. 79 ; flat, I. 242 ; a spirit 

entry, I. 241 ; washing of, I. 31, 




Female line, descent an, I. 70, III ; 

II. 46. 
Fcnodyree, the, 11. 77. 
Festum Stultoram, the, II. 321. 
Fetish, defined, II. 159; stones, II. 

179; stones an abode of spirits. 11. 

183 ; stones curing disease, 11. 183. 
Fever, caused by the snake godlings, I. 

136; II. 132; charms, I. 239; II. 

Fidelity tests, II. 162, 240. 
Field sprites, II. 307. 
Fig tree, respect for, II. 97. 
Filthy places, haunts of Bh&ts, I. 


Fir tree, respect for, II. 86. 

Fire, drill, the, II. 194; fetish, the, II. 
192 ; walking through, i. 19 ; II. 
317 ; ordeal, I. 52 ; refusal to give 
from the house hearth, II. 289 ; a 
scarer of Bhuts. II. 59 ; worship of, 
I. 265 ; II. 193 ; worship of Rahu, 

I. 19. 
First-fruits, II. 307. 
Firstborn son, I. 35. 

Fish in folk-lure, II. 254; food of 

BhAte, I. 243; sacred, II. 253; a 

vehicle, I. 47 ; II. 156. 
FlagellaticJn, I. 99, 155 ; II. 34, 
Flags, use of, II. 24. 
Flesh, human, powers of, II. 171. 
Flies, II. 257 ; dispelled by a saint, I. 

218 ; abode of the ghost, II. 257. 
Floods and drowning people, I. 46; 

propitiation of, I. 46. 
Flour mill, a fetish, I. 135. 
Flowers, a haunt of Bhiits, I. 291, 
Fly, a Life Index, II. 71. 
Flying Dutchman, the, I. 44. 
Food, of BhAts, I. 236 ; for the dead, 

II. 67 ; at eclipses, I. 21 ; protected 
from the Evil Eye, I. n ; from 
Rikshasas, I. 248 ; connected with 
totemism, II. 158 ; of spirit land, I. 
271 ; II. 68 ; vases, II. 74. 

Foot presentation, persons bom by, II. 

Footsteps, witchcraft through, II. 280. 

Forespeaking, II. 4. 

Forest, remnant of, II. 90. 

Forge, water of, II. 25. 

Forty-nine, a mystic number. II. 51. 

Fowl, the, II. 245 ; offering of, I. 103 ; 
let loose, I. 169. 

Fraud in exorcism, I. 159. 

Freemasons, II. 179. 

Frog, the, II. 255 ; used in rain- 
charming, I. 73. 

Fruit whicti makes an old man young, 
II. 89 i a spirit scarer, II. 36. 

Funeral, feast, the, II. 65; in effigy, 
II. 75, 114$ use of Nim leaves at» 
II. 105. See Burial. 

Gabriel's Hounds, I. 245. 
Gi& J4tra, the, II. 233. 
G^kw^rs, ancestor worship, I. 181. 
Gaja Mukta, the. II. 240. 
Galava, legend of, II. 204. 
Gallows, superstition regarding, I. 226^ 
Gambling in folk-tales, II. 160. 
Ganapati, worship of, I. 90, 95. 
Gandak, worship of, I. 197. 
Gindhari, legend of, I. 127. 
Ganesa, worship of, I. 1 10, 160 ; con- 
nected with the elephant, II. 239 ; 

legend of, I. 13 ; vehicle of, II. 

156 ; worship of, I. 49, 84^ 
Ganga Jdtra, the, II. 169. 
Ganganith, worship of, I. 194. 
Ganges, worship of, I. 35. 
Ganor, queen of, I. 195. 
Gansim, worship of, I. 117. 
Gantarim, worship of, II. 182. 
G^nwdevata, a village godling, I. 96 ; 

II. 164. 
Ganymede, I. 119. 
Gardener, a priest of Sitala, I. 131. 
Gardevi. a river spirit, I. 43. 
Garha Era, worship of, I. 45. 
Garland, a protective, II. 36, 
Garlic, a protective, II 35. 
Gdro tribe, biidegroom capture, I. 

121 ; theory of diiiease, I. 124 ; 

worship of the bamboo, II. 113. 
Garuda, II. 138, 158, 165, 248. 
Gill Mita, worship of, II. 233. 
Gauhar Sh4h, a saint, I. 189. 
Gaur Rajput sept, ghost of, I. 253. 
Gaaraiya, worship of, I. 197. 
Gauri, worship of, I. 49, 112; II. 157. 
Gaurochana, II. 228. 
Gaurua, the, II. 42. 
Gautam Rijput sept, sword worship, 

II. 185. 
Gautama, legend of, I. 13 ; well of, 

Gayal, the, I. 234. 
Gayatri, the, I. 8 ; II. 232. 
Genda Bir, worship of, I. 254. 
Gettysburg, ghosts at, I. 259. 
Getuli, the, I. 285. 
Ghaddar, the, I. 267. 
Gbadsi tribe, legend of the sandal, 

II. 114. 
Ghagarapen, worship of, I. 168. 



Ghanta Karnna, worship of. I. 84, 137. 

Ghasiya tribe, ancestor worship, i. 
176; barring- the ghost, II. 59; 
worship of Dulha Deo, I. 120 ; 
earth worship, I. 32 ; moon legend, 
I. SI ; tattooing, II. 32. 

Ghataut, the, I. 1 1*5. 

Ghatotkacha, worsmp of, I. 94. 

Ghaus-ul-Azam, the saint, I. 216. 

Ghazi Miylln« a saint, I. 203 sqq.; mar- 
riage of, II. 324. 

Ghiziya, wor«hip of, I. 217. 

Ghentu, the itch godling, I. 136. 

Gbergis, I. 48. 

(ihi, a protective, II. 28. 

Ghis^di tribe, respect for dc^ II. 

Ghoghar, a bugaboo, II. 82. 

Ghoradeva, worship of, II. 208. 

Ghost, barring of, II. 55 ; departure 
facilitated, II. 55 ; detection of, by 
the Ojha, I. 152 ; friendly, II. 76 ; 
dread of the foam of the horse, II. 
207 ; power of lengthening them- 
selves, II. 75 ; of murdered persons, 
I. 234 ; occupying the body during 
a dream, I. 232 ; recalling, II. 72 ; 
resting-place for, II. 58 ; of trees, II. 
77 ; fear of running water, II. 72. 

Ghostly Army, the, I. 258. 

Ghoul, the, I. 267. 

Ghrauka Devi, worship of, I. 133. 

GhAl, the, I. 267. 

Gideon, fleece of, I. 49. 

Gira, the, I. 27a 

Glashan, the, II. 77. 

Glass, a spirit scarer, II. 35. 

Goat, blood of, offered, I. 98 ; dung 
used in charming rain and hail, I. 
77, 80; offered to Nanda Devi, I. 
173; habit of shaking or shivering, 
I. 263 ; II. 224 ; connected with 
totemism, II. 225. 

God, marriage to a, I. 109 ; II. 118. 

Goddm, rite, I. 132. 

Godiva, legend of. I. 68 ; II. 47. 

Godling, identification of, 1. 100 ; local, 

I. 94 ; pure and impure, I. 4. 
Goea, I. 26. 

Goghar ki Dhir, a sacred hill, I. 64. 
Gohem, a cholera godling, I. 136. 
Gold, house of, I. 39; producing 
animals, II. 134; a protective, 11. 

Gond tribe, ancestor worship, I. 178; 
worship of Bhtmsen, I. 66, 90 ; ex- 
pulsion of cholera, I. 144 ; cow- 
killing, II. 234 ; respect for the dog, 

II. 221 ; worship of Dulha Deo, I. 
119; procedure in cases of fascina- 

tion, IL 37 ; worship of Gansim, I. 

118, 172 ; worship of Gh&garapen, 

I. 168 ; horse worship, II. 208 ; 

human sacrifice, II. 170, 176 ; their 

progenitor Lingo, I. 284; identifi- 
cation of local godlings, I. loi ; 

marriage rites, I. 239 ; river demons, 

worship of, I. 43 ; saturnalia, II. 

324 ; tiger worship, I. 268 ; tree 

burial, II. 103. 
Goose, the, II. 247 ; used in disease 

transference, I. 165; vehicle of 

Brahma, II. 156. 
Gop&la, worship o( II. 229. 
Gorakhnith, the saint, I. 91, 212 ; II. 

Gor Biba, a godling. I. 84. 
Goreswara, a title of Siva, I. 84. 
Goril, a godling, I. 156. 
Govardhan, Brihmans, birth rites, II. 

105 ; ceremony, II. 296; hill of, II. 

Govinda, worship of, II. 229. 
Grace giving, II. 1 1. 
Grahadhira, a name of the Pole 

Star, I. 25. 
Grain, a protective, II. 26 ; sprinkled 

over a bride, II. 26 ; measurement 

of IL 311. 
Grimade^ata, the village godling, I. 

94, 96 ; IL 163. 
Grass, a protective, 1. 22 ; II. 29 ; ring 

of, II. 43. 
Grasshopper, the, IL 256. 
Grease, hateful to fairies, 1. 243. 
Great Bear, the, I. 24. 
Griffin, the, IL 158. 
Grindstone, a fetish, II. 166. 
Ground, sleeping on the, 1. 237. 
Grove, planting of, a religious duty, II. 

86 ; sacred, IL 90. 
Gudeman's Croft, I. 278 ; IL 92. 
Giiga, worship of, 1. 206, 211 ; IL 

122; mare of. I. 212; II. 206; 

connected with snake worship, I. 

Gfijar tribe, use of amulets, IL 40 ; 

cow worship, II. 233 ; patron saint 

of, I. 210. 
Gdlar, a sacred tree, II. 99; wood 

used in laying spirits, I. I02. 
Gun-firing at childbirth, 1. 169 ; to 

scare the cholera demon, I. 141. 
Gurang Mipa, a Rdkshasa, I. 250. 
Gurda, the sacred chain, 1. 99, 155. 
Gurtiitna rite, the, JI. 324. 
Gurui festival, the, II. 139, 
Gururu, the, II. 42. 
Gus&tn sect, disposal cf the dead, I. 




Gwydion, legend of, I. 26. 

Gyges, talc of, II. 43. 

Gypsies, notoriows for witchcraft, II. 
261 ; descended from the sun and 
moon, II. 150; respect for the fir 
tree, II. 86. 


Hadakai, worship of, I. 113. 

Hadal. a Daitya, I. 255. 

Hail, I. 78 ; scaring the demon of. I. 
79 ; persons who control, I. 80 ; 
cutting hailstones, I. 79. 

Hair, cutting, II. 66; a deus ex 
machind^ II. 67 ; of the elephant's 
tail, II. 240 ; growing as a form of 
curse, I. 239 ; II. 67 ; bride's hair 
parting marked with red, II. 173 ; 
respect for, II. 66 ; scraper, a fetish, 
II. 186 ; a spirit entiy, I. 107 ; used 
in witchcraft ; I. 280 ; II. 277. 

Hajar-ul-Aswad, the, II. 180. 

Hal&lkhor tribe, burial rites, I. 30. 

llalkhyo rite, II. 291. 

Hand, of GJory, the, I. 261 j II. 177, 
245 ; clapping, I. 168, 241 ; laying 
on of hands, I. 242 ; the hidden, I. 
214 ; a spirit entry, I. 241 ; spread, 

II. 39. 

Hangman's rope, the, I. 226. 

Hansa, the, II. 247. 

Hanuman, invoked in spells, 1. 150; a 
village godling, I. 87 ; emblem o\ 
virile i ower, I. 87 ; fetish worship of, 
II. 181 ; worship of, I. 85 ; wor- 
shipped by wrestlers, 1. 87. 

Harbu, a Pir, I. 206. 

Hania \ 

Hardaul Ula / 

Hardaur Lila > worship of, I. 138 sq. 

Hardiha V 

Hardiya ) 

Hare, the, II. 243 ; bone of, II. 45 ; 
euphemism, II. 54; in the moon, 
I. 13; II. 50; omens from, II. 48, 
50 ; sites selected by, II. 50. 

Hari tribe, marriage rites, II. 46. 

Hari Sinh, worship of, II. 132. 

Hariyiri PAja, the rite of, I. 32. 

Harrow used in charming away rain, 

Harshu P&nr^, worship of, I. 191. 
Hasan, a Ptr. I. 202. 
Hat. the wishing, I. 214. 
Hatidiva, a sacred bull, II. 235. 
Hathlil, worship of, I. 205. 
Hatthi, a cholera goddess, I. 146. 
Havva, an evil spirit, I. 115 ; II. 82. 

Hawthorn tree, respect for, IL 86. 
^^"^ ^»«« «<"*l'!P <rf Vishnu, 

f horse 

.5 "• 

Hazrat Dddd, a saint, I. 203. 

Hazrat PIr Zari, a saint, I. 217. 

Head, of victim, I. 96 ; a spirit entry, 

I. I58» 238. 

Headache, charm to remove, I. 151. 

Headless horseman, the. I. 217, 256. 

Headman worshipped, I. 178. 

Healer developing into a god, I. 147. 

Hearth, respect for, I. 292. 

Hedali. a Daitya, I. 255. 

Heir identified by a snaJce, II. 142. 

Helios, worship of, I. 5. 

HemSdpant, a Rikshasa, I. 251. 

Hephaestus, I. 280. 

Heroic godlings, I. 83 sqq. 

Hill demons, I. 263. 

Himalaya, worship of, I. 60 ; home of 
the sainted dead, I. 60. 

Himavat, father of Ganga, I. 36, 6i. 

Hind, the, in folk-lore, II. 238. 

Hiranya-kasipu, legend of, II. 313. 

Hiriya Deva, worship of, I. 168. 

Ho tribe, barring the ghost, II. 62 ; 
clothes for the dead, II. 68; the 
Desauli rite, II. 325 ; objection to 
using cow's milk, II. 236 j recalling 
the ghost, II. 72 ; tattooing customs, 

II. 31 ; oath by the tiger, II. 213. 
Hot^, sacrifice of, I. 126, 137, 197, 200 ; 

II. 58. 

Holl, the feast, orij^nn of, II. 313 ; in 
Braj, II. 315 ; in'Jecency at, I. 6S ; 
in Mirw4r, II. 318 ; lighting the 
fire, II. 316. 

Holika, legend of, I. 146 ; II. 313. 

Homa, the fire sacrifice, I. 20. 

Home for the ghost, II. 61. 

Hoopoe, the, II. 249. 

Horka Mdi, worship of, I. 146. 

Horn, a spirit scarer, II. 36, 225 ; fixed 
on shrines, II. 225 ; on trees, I. 23. 

Horse, a scarer of demons, II. 207; 
flying, II. 206; eating flesh of, II. 
207 ; lucky, II. 207 ; protected from 
the Evil Eye, II. 17 ; sacrificed to 
propitiate floods, I. 46 ; shoe, a pro- 
tective, II. 14; winged, II. 207; 
worship of, II. 204, 208. 

Hot springs, I. 53. 

House, empty, ghosts of, I. 291 ; 
haunted, I. 291 ; protected from the 
Evil Eye. I. 160. 

Huika Devi, a ch:)lera goddess, I. 146. 

Human, brains, eating of, I. 247 ; 
sacrifice among the Indo-Aryans, II. 
167 ; at erection of buildings, II. 



173 ; connected with small-pox wor- 
ship, I. 130 ; modifications of, 1. 146 ; 
II. 175 ; survivals of, I. 79, 91, 169; 
II. 173- 320. 

Humanas, the, II. 82. 

Humayun, ghost of, II. 82. 

Hnmma, a ghost, II. 82. 

Hunting the wren, I. 172. 

Huntsmen, ghosts of, 1. 261. 

Husain, a Ptr, I. 202. 

Husain Bbagat, I. 204. 

Hut-burning, a cure for barrenness, I. 

Hydra, the, I. 44. 

Hydn^hobia, cures for, I. 51, 151, 

Hylas, I. 119W 

iBLts, I. 266 ; and the ass, II. 209. 

Ides, a day of rest for cattk, II. 234. 

Ifrlt, the, I. 266. 

Ignes &tui, II. 198. 

Ikshviku, a legend of, II. 153. 

I la, legend of, II. 7. 

Ilha, a totem sept. II. 15a 

Ilishia, a saint, I. 47. 

Ulm Bakhsh, a wonder-working tomb, 

I. 222. 

Images, witchcraft by means of, II. 

Im^ Husain, army of, I. 259. 

Imdm Raza, invocation of, I. i6l. 

Imli ghotna rite, II. 109. 

Implement fetishes, II 185. 

Incense, a protective, II. 21. 

Incest, I. 36. 

Incubi, the, I. 238, 264. 

Indecency a scaier of Bhiits, I. 68 j II. 

Indigestion, godling of, I. 136. 

Indra, ass of. II. 208 ; a weather god- 
ling, I. 66, *]^ ; worship of, I. 2, 73 ; 

II. 229. 

Indradyumna, legend of, I. 286. 
Indrini, a Mother, I. 112. 
Infanticide, I. 172. 
Influenza, caused by a Mother, I. 113 ; 

charm to remove, I. 166. 
Initiation at puberty, I. 242 ; II. 147.. 
Insects, folk-lore of, II. 256. 
Insult> a form of penance, I. 16. 
Iron, the philosopher's stone, II. 15; 

pillar at Delhi, II. 132 ; a scarer of 

Bh0ts, II. II. 
Ismdil Jogi, invocation of, I. 79, 151, 

Itch, godling of, I. 125, 136. 

Jack of the Beanstalk, II. 8$. 

Jackal, the, II. 243 ; horn of, II. 40 ; 

of Mal&mat Shih, I. 219 ; weddings 

of, I. 292. 
Jagadaml»i Devi, worship of, I. 85. 
Jagrini, a title of Sttala, I. 126. 
Jahnu, a saint, I. 36. 
Jaina sect, birth rites, I. 277 ; mourning 

customs, I. 29 ; worship of Bhairava, 

I. 108 ; worship of saints, I. 183. 
Jaisar Ptr, a saint, I. 222. 
jaitwa tribe, totemism, II. 153. 
jak, a field sprite, II. 79, 91. 
jakhii, worship of, I. 269. 
Jakni, a field sprite, II. 79. 
Jaladurga, worship of, I. 95. 
Jimbavat, the bear king, II. 242. 
Janamejilya, worship of, II. 139. 
J and tree, the, II. loi. 
Jandi PCija, the, I. 136. 
JaneO, the sacred cord, II. 47> 
Jann, the, I. 266. 

Janw^ Kijput sept, totemism, II. 153. 
Jara. a Rakshasi, II. 248. 
Jarasandha, legend of, I. 248, 252. 
Jdt tribe, cow worship, II. 233 ; patron 

saint, I. 210 ; worship of K&lu Mahar, 

I. 107; worship of Farld, I. 215 ; 

worship of Tejaji, I. 213 ; weather 

incantations, I. 67. 
Jata Rohini, a river demon, I. 43. 
Jathera, the village godlings, I. 107. 
Jaur Sinh, worship of, II. 133. 
Javildiya, the mare of G{^, I. 212. 
Jawira rite, the, II. 293. 
Jay, feathers of, II. 9 ; omens from, II. 

Jaya, a Mother, I. 112; a Yogini, I. 

Jayi, festival, II. 96, 293. 
Jewar Sinh, worship of, II. 133. 
Jewelry, use of, II. 15. 
Jhdd, the, II. 78. 
Jhambaji, worship of, I. 184. 
Jhtnwar tribe, worship of Sajchi Sarwar, 

I. 210. 
Jhunuki, sister of Sttala, I. 128. 
Jigar Khor, the liver eater, II. 262, 
Jilaiya a birth fiend, I. 264. 
Jinn, the, I. 265 sq. ; blood of, II. 172. 
Jiraya Bhawdni. worship of, II. 163. 
Jtvkhada, the, II. 61. 
Jndnav^pi well, the, I. 52. 
Job, tomb of, I. 224. 
Jogi sect, worship of Bhairon, I. 109 ; 

respect for the Nlm tree, II. 105. 
Johila river, legend of, I. 39. 
Jokhii, I. 269. 



Jokhaiya, worship of, I. 199, 206. 

Jonah, II. 254. 

journey forbidden during small-pox, I. 


Juang tribe, neglect of the sainted dead, 
I. 178 ; tattooing, 11. 31 ; tiger wor- 
ship, II. 213 ; witchcraft, II. 261. 

Jumna, worship of, I. 36. 

Junctions of rivers, sacred, I. 38. 

Jungle Mothers, the, I. 114. 

Juno Lucino, I. 115. 

Jur Sttal rite, I. 132. 

Jus primse noctis, the, II. 162. 

Jvaraharlsvara, the godling of malaria, 
I. 136. 


Kabandha. a R&kshasa, II. 37. 
Ksibtr, a saint, I. 183 sq ; II. 90. 
Kachiri tribe, worship of the bamboo, 

II. 113. 
Kichhi tribe, totemism, II. 149. 
Kachhwalia Rajput sept, totemism, II. 

KadanbaLi tribe, totemism, II. 154. 
Kndri, a saint, I. 29. 
Kafari, a black ghost, I. 238. 
Kahi ka Mela, the, II. 321. 
Kailantr Nig, worship of, II. 125. 
Kail^ Maura, a bead, I. 1 16. 
Kaimur mountains, respect for, I. 63. 
Kajari festival, indecent rites, I. 68. 
Kakki, the mare of Sakhi Sarwar, I. 

K41 Bhairon, worship of, I. 84, 108; 

II. 219. 
KUla Mahar, worship of, I. 107. 
Kalasa. a sacred jar, I. 97, 255 ; II. 75. 
Kalauria, a n3miph, I. 36. 
Kalejawili, a title of Sttaia, I. 126. 
Kalhans RHjput sept, worship of Ratan 

Pdnr6, I. 192 ; totemism, II. 149. 
Kdli, worship of, I. 3, 73, 85, 143, 283 ; 

human sacrifice in honour of, II. 171. 
Kdlidlls, worship of, I. 196. 
Kdli Devi, worship of, II. 170. 
Kilika Bhawini, worship of, I. 129, 

K&li Sinh, worship of, II. 132. 
Kaliya, a water demon, I. 42. 
Kalki, an incarnaiion, II. 156, 205. 
Kalmashapada, legend of, II. 168. 
Kalpadruma \ 

Kalpataru l- a sacred tree, II. 87. 

Kilu Kahir, worship of, II. 82. 
Kaluva, worship of, II. 8x. 

Kaly&n Bhirati, a saint, I. 220. 

Kimadeva, vehicle of, II. 156. 

Kamadhenu } a sacred cow, 1. 38 $ II. 

Kamaduh ) 232. 

Kamilo, a saint, I. 221. 

Kimi tribe, funeral rites, II. 71. 

Kanchhedan rite. I. 242. 

Kinhpuriya Rajput sept, tribal deity of, 

Kankeswari, worship of, II. 1 76. 
Kanphata J ogi sect, I. 242 ; II. 105. 
Kansisura, the godling of brass, II. 12. 
Kantakasaiyya, the nail bed, I. 92. 
Kapilakriya, the rite, I. 239. 
Kapila, a saint, 1. 35 j the elephant, II. 

Karama, a sacred tree, L 40 ; II. 87, 

94 ; the dance, II. 95. 
Karamn&sa, an ill-omened river, I. 40. 
Karan tribe, marriage rites, II. 46. 
Karana, legend of, I. 181. 
K^i Gord Deo, worship of, I. 206. 
Kirewar, the dragon, II. 129. 
Kargas, the, II. 158. 
Karha<1a Brahmans, human sacrifice, 

II. 170. 
Karkotaka, a serpent king, I. 42 ; II. 

Karl, the Great, I. 283. 
Karpdratilaka, a Yogini, I. 129. 
Karttikeya, vehicle of, II. 156. 
Kasera caste, respect for brass, II. 12. 
Kasi Baha, worship of, I. 145. 
Kasyapa, legend of, II. 127. 
Kithi tribe, sun worship, I. 9. 
Kathkdri tribe, disinterring corpses, II. 


Kauf^n'}* g°^^^"g of ravines, I. 62. 

Kauamudika, a Y(^ini, I. 129. 

Kaumiri, a Mother, I. 112. 

Kaur tribe, Sati worship, I. 187. 

Kawaj, a water godling, I. 47. 

Kavasth tribe, worship of Chitragupta, 
I. 196. 

Keening, I. 168 ; II. 55. 

Ke pie, the, I. 44. 

Kerir Btr, worship of, I. 254. 

Kerberos, II. 218., II. 206. 

Ketu, the eclipse demon, I. 19. 

Kewat caste, use of blood, II. 1 73. 

Khabtsh, worship of, I. 260. 

KhRha, a totem sept, II. 151. 

Khair, a sacred tree, II. 106. 

Khaliri Mata, worship of, I. 114. 

Khand^ Rio, worship of, II. 219. 

Khindh tribe, ancestor worship, I. 179; 
barrenness charms, I. 226; god of 
boundaries, I. 290; theory ot ois- 



ease, L 124 1 godling of ravines, I. 

62$ human sacrifice, 11. 169; snake 

worship, II. 131 ; totemism, II. 154; 

respect for trees, II. 9a 
Khandoba, worship of, I. 90 ; II. 

Khan/ab, a demon, II. 22. 
Khapra BUba, worship of, II. 197. 
Khar Pfija, the, I. 32. 
Khara, a demon, 11. 209. 
Kbarbar Btr, a demon, I. 254. 
Kharg Jogini, sacred fire of, II. 196. 
Khariya tribe, ancestor worship, I. 178; 

sun worship, I. 9; tattooing, II. 31 ; 

oath on the tiger, II. 213 ; totemism, 

n. 155. 159. 

Kharwar tribe, use of amulets, II. 40 ; 
theory of disease, I. 124; worship of 
Dulha Deo, I. 120; earth worship, 
I. 32 ; ghost l^end, II. 76; sacred 
groves, II, 90 ; device to scare hail, 
I. 79; human sacrifice, II. 169; 
worship of the Karam tree, II. 87 ; 
marriage of MQchak R^ni, II. 322 ; 
rag offerings, I. 163 ; expulsion of 
rinderpest, I. 170; snake legend, II. 
143 ; sun worship, I. 9 ; prejudice 
against cutting trees, II. 87 ; legend 
ol the Vetaia, II. 76. 

Khasiya tribe, tree burial, II. 85. 

Khera, worship of, I. 105. 

Kheia Devata, worship of, I. 106. 

Kberapat, a village pnest, II. 320. 

Kheshgi Pathin tribe, respect for the 
pigeon, II. 246. 

Khetpil 1 worship of, I. 84, 105 ; 

Khetrapala / II. 227. 

Khicha Pdja, the, II. 221. 

Khodiar, a Mother, I. 113. 

Khor, a cause of disease, I. 124. 

Khw^ja Habtb, Ajami, a Ptr, I. 203. 

Khwija Hasan Basri, a Ptr, I. 203. 

Khwaja Khizr, the water godling, I. 

47. 74. 
Klkar, a sacred tree, II. 1 14. 
King held responsible for drought, I. 


Kinship of men and animals, II. 201. 

Kirani Mdta, worship of, I. 215. 

Kiraniya, a royal parasol, I. 8. 

Kiratadevi, worship of, I. 94. 

Kirni, the, II. 158. 

Kisdn tribe, ancestor worship, I. 178 ; 
sacred groves, II. 90 ; sun worship, 
I. 9 ; tattooing, II. 31 ; tiger wor- 
ship, II. 213. 

Kite, the, II. 251. 

Kliddo, a sprite, II. 92. 

Knife, a protection against BhQts, II. 13. 

Knockers, the, I. 285. 

Knot*, mystic power of, I. 77 ; II. 43, 


Kobolds, the, I. 285. 

Koboli, the, I. 285. 

Kodapcn, worship of, II. 208. 

Koi tribe, dog worship, II. 219. 

Kul tiibe, the couvade, I. 276 ; disease 
godlings, I. 136; mode ot divination, 
I. 153 ; respect for eeb, II. 255 ; 
ghosts of persons killed by tigers, I. 
267 ; sacred groves, II. 90 ; marria|;e 
rites, II. 103 ; measuring grain at 
marriages, I. 104 ; mountain worship, 

I. 61 ; worship of Naga Era, I. 45 ; 
appointment 01 priest, II. 189 ; wor- 
ship of Raja L&khan, I. 198 ; snake 
goddess, II. 131 ; sun worship, I. 
10 ; tree deities, II. 103 : tree mar- 
riage, II. 116, 119; witch-finding, 

II. 275. 

Koli tribe, theory of disease, I. 124 ; 

theory abuut second marriages, I. 

23s ; recalling the ghost, II. 71. 
Korwa tribe, use of amulets, II. 40 ; 

ancestor wor»hip, I. 177 sq. ; cave 

deities, I. 284; dread of caves, I. 

284 ; dreams, I. 232 ; belief in the 

Churel, I. 271 ; earth worship, I. 

32 ; dread of earthquakes, I. 35 ; 

theory of ghosts, I. 232 ; mountain 

worship, I. 61 ; belief in omens, II. 

49 ; ploughing ceremonies, II. 290 ; 

rag offerings, I. 161 ; rain charming, 

I. 74 ; disease scapegoats, I. 169 ; 

storm charming, I. 81 ; sun worship, 

I. 9 ; tattooing, II. 31. 
Koskinomantis, the, II. 189. 
Koti Rini, worship of, I. 62. 
Kravyada, a title of the Rakshasa, I. 

Krishna, worship of, I. 3, 17, 42, 78, 

161 ; II. 229. 
Kshetrapala, a warden deity, I. 84. 
Kshetrapati, cow sacrifice in honour of, 

II. 227. 

Kudkhyo, the rite, II. 291. 

Kujur,a totem sept, II. 150. 

KCikar Deora, the, I. 221. 

Kiiki tribe, theory of disease, I. 124 ; 
funeral rites, II. 65. 

Kuladevata, a mother, I. 112. 

Kumbhakarana, a demon, II. 300. 

Kumhdr tribe, totemism, II. 149, 154; 
worship of the, II. 2C^ ; wor- 
ship of Prajapati, I. 196. 

Kumuda, the elephant, II. 239. 

Kunbi tribe, ancestor worship, I. 179 ; 
birth rites, II. 120; respect for the 
cocoanut, II. 106 ; respect for dust, 
I. 28 ; horse vtorship, II. 208 ; re- 



spect for the Ntm tree, II. io6; 
parturition charm^ II. 120 ; use of 
rice ac marriages, II. 26 ; sheep wor- 
ship, I. 164 ; totemism, II. 149 ; 
tree marriage, II. 102, 117. 

Kunjara Mam, the, II. 240. 

Kunwar Dhtr, worship o^ I. 205. 

Kur tribe, mountain worship, I. 61 ; 
sun worship, I. 10. 

Kur Deo, a guardian godling, I. 137. 

Kurku tribe, use of cow's blood, II. 
234 ; disease godlings, I. 137 ; bar- 
ring the ghost, II. 62 ; identification 
of the village godlings, I. 103 ; 
mountain worship, I. 61 ; sun wor- 
ship, I. 10. 

Kurma, an incarnation, II. 156. 

Kurmi tribe. Ses Kunbi. 

Ku>a grass, sacred, II. 29. 

Ku^aputra rite, II. 75. 

Ki!Um4nda, worship of, I. 94. 

La Bella Marts, invocation of, I. 

Label, a protective, II. 36. 
Ladder for the ghost, II. 60. 
Laghu, worship of, II. 181. 
Lakara, a totem sept, II. 151. 
Lakes, sacred, I. 54. 
Lakhdata, the saint, I. 208. 
I^kshmi, worship of, II. 100, 19a 
Ldlanwala, a saint, I. 208. 
IA\ Beg, a saint, I. 196, 203 ; II. 206. 
Lalita, worship of, I. 119. 
IJX Plr, a saint, I. 203. 
Lamas, control over the weather, I. 67. 
Lame demons, I. 280. 
Lamia, I. 2. 

Lamkariya, sister of Sitala, I. 128. 
Lamp, to light the soul, II. 55 ; magic, 

I. 219 ; charm to stop rain, I. 76 ; 

rock cave, I. 285 ,- worship, I. 93. 
Lampblack, a protective, I. 28, 93 ; II. 

3. 29. 
Landslip, demon of, I. 264. 
Langra Tir, worship of, I. 205. 
Lankhini, worship of, I. 95. 
Last, dead, spirit of, I. 46 ; tree of the 

forest, II. 84. 
T.ast, shoemaker's, a fetish, II. 186. 
L^th Bhairon, worship of, II. 109. 
Lacora Btr, worship of, I. 255. 
Learning, charm to gain, I. 222. 
Leather, a protective, 11. 33. 
Lemuri, the, I, 259. 

Lengthenini;, ghost's power of, I. 250. 
Leper, sacrific^, II. 169. 
Leprehaun, the, I. 287 ; II. 77. 
Leprosy, caused by Vdsuki, II. 137 ; 

caused by telling lies in a grove, I[. 

91 ; cured at a shrine, I. 221 ; cured 

at a tank, I. 58 sq. ; theory of, I. 

Letters, protection o( from the Evil 

Eye, II. 10. 
Liberalia, festival, the, II. 321. 
Lice, produced by a curse, I. 125. 
Life Index, the, I. 250 ; II. 7'- 
Lighting the departing soul, II. 55. 
Lightning scared by nudity, I. 69; 

goddess of, I. 224. 
Likeness, dislike to having taken, I. 

Lilith, I. 128, 279. 

Limbu tribe, barring the ghost, II. 57. 
Lingam, watered to bring rain, I. 73, 

Lingayjt 8oetrl)urial rites, I. 30 ; fla- 
gellation, I. 155 ; worship of Cham- 
ba.^dpa, I. 183. 

Lingo, the progenitor of the Gonds, I. 

Lingri Ptr, worship of, I. 161. 

Lion, the, II. 210 ; of Ahmad Khin, 

I. 219. 

Lizard, blood of, II. 20 ; omens from, 

II. 50. 

Local godlings, worship of, I. 94. 
Lockjaw, charm to cure, I. 131. 
Locusts, scaring of, II. 302. 
Lodhi tribe, use of rice, 11. 27. 
Lodi Pathdn tribe, totemism, II. 150. 

Loh^ura, the godling of iron, II. 12. 

Lohu river, the, I. 248. 

Lokap^las. the, II. 239. 

Lona Chamarin, the witch, I. 151, 160 ; 

IL 285. 
Lonisura, a lake demon, I. 54. 
Looking back, II. 57. 
Lorik, legend of, II. 160. 
Lota, the, a protective, II. 16. 
Lot's wife, II. 57. 
Lotus, a sacred plant, II. 86. 
Lough Neagh, legend of, I. 57. 
Love knot, the, II. 46. 
Lupercalia, the, I. 100, 225; II. 321. 
Lycanthropy, II. 211. 


Machalinda, a snake king, II. 142. 
Machandri Pilja, the, I. 31. 



Madaxn, worship of, II. 125. 

Madsbi, Faqir, the, L 216. 

Magh tribe, fbnend rites, XL 56; pie- 

judice against cutting trees, II. 87. 
Magic, circle, the, I. 103, 142 } II. 41 ; 

sympathetic, I. 66, 70, 146 ; 11. 52, 

185, 251 ; trees, II. 87. 
M&hlhrahmans, functions of, I. 17 1 ; 

II. 70, 191. 
Mahid&ni Deo, a demon. I. 284. 
Maham&i« worship of, I. 85, 126 s II. 

Mahendri, worship of, I. 112. 
Maheni, worship of, I. 193. 
Maheshwari, a Mother, I. 112. 
Mahish&sura, a demon, I. 45 ; II. 237. 
Mahishoba, worship of, I. 45 ; II. 237. 
Mahua tree, respect for, I. 90 ; II. 102 

sq. ; of marriage, I. 163 ; II. 102 sq., 

Mai Aeshan, worship of, I. 209. 
Maiden in a tree, II. 88. 
Mainp&t, a mountain deity, I. 61. 
Majhwdr tribe. See l/L^ihi, 
Makan Deo, a demon, I. 216. 
Makara, a vehicle, II. 156. 
MnkhdQm Sahib, a saint, I. 221. 
Mdl tribe, use of necklaces, II. 45 ; 

food for the dead, II. 70. 
Malah&ri bird, the, II. 248. 
Malamat Shih, a saint, I. 219. 
Malayagandhini, a Yogini, I. 129. 
Maler tribe, use of blood, II. 20 ; tree 

burial, II. 85 ; worship of Dwara 

Gusitn, I. 104. 
Malevolent dead, worship of, I. 230 

Malik Ambar, a saint, I. 258. 
Malinath, a P!r, I. 206. 
Mai Pahariya tribe, use of necklaces, 

II. 45 ; sacrifice to the dead, II. 70. 
Malsara, worship of, II. 220. 
Mama Devi, worship of, I. 117. 
Mamduh, a ghost, I. 252. 
M dna Sarovara, Isike, I. 54. 
Manasa, worship of, I. 214. 
Mandakarni, legend of, I. 57. 
Mand^kini river, legend of, I. 39, 55. 

Mandrake, the, I. 226. 
Mangar tribe, funeral rites, II. 60. 
Mangesar, a hill godlirg, I. 63. 
Mango, a sacred tree, II. 109 sq. 
Mang tribe, respect for the bamboo, II. 

113 ; use of sacred grass, II. 30. 
Mdnjhi tribe, cannibalism, II. 168 ; 

mode of repelling the Churel, I. 27 1 ; 

food for the dead, II. 70 ; earth 

worship, I. 32 ; Karama dance, II. 

95 ; belief in omens, II. 49 ; theory 

of the Rftkshasa, I. 233 ; S^itumalia, 

II. 97. 
Mano, a bugaboo, II. 82. 
Manoratha dayaka, a sacred tree, II. 

Mansa Ram, ghost of, I. 253. 
Mantikora, the tiger, II. 217. 
Mantra, a spell, I. 150. 
Manushgandha, I. 246. 
Maraki, a cholera Mother, I. 113. 
Marang Biira, a mountain deity, 1. 61. 
Marathon, ghosts at, I. 259. 
Mare, the, in folk-lore, I. 212 ; of 

Guga, I. 212. 

Mari Bhawani f %^?^^T .t ^l'" 
MariMii \ ^^^^^* ^' '37, 142, 

Mind, the, I. 266. 

Marine products, protectives, II. 16. 

Mariya Gond tribe, worship of Bhlm* 
sen, I. 90 ; tree burial, II. 85. 

Mariyamma, worship of, I. 72. 

Marjani, a Yogini, I. 129. 

Markandeya, legend of, II. 98. 

Marriage, to animals, II. 119; to a 
bird, I. 236 ; II. 119; ol brother 
and sister, I. 36 ; causing showers, 

I. 75 ; to a god, I. 109 ; II. 118; of 
Ghizi Miyan, I. 207 ; godling of, I. 
119; of powers of vegetation, I. 207 ; 

II. 322 ; to a sword, II. 185 ; to 
trees, II. 115; tree of, II. 102; of 
the Tulasi and Salagrima, I. 49. 

Martyrs^ worship of, I. 201. 

Marutputra, a title of Hanumin, I. 88. 

Maruts, the, I. 2, 78. 

Mas&n, worship of, I. 133, 259. 

Mas&ni, sister of Sttala, I. 128. 

Mdta, the small-pox goddess, I. 103, 

Miia Janami 1 the goddess of births, 
Mitajanuvi / I. 115. 
Mata Piija, the, I. 132. 
MMli, a Yogini, I. 129. 
M^tangi, worship of, I. 94, 132. 
Maternal uncle, position of, I. 155 ; 

II. 8, 60. 
Matmangara rite, I. 27, 292. 
Malri Puja, the, I. 113. 
Matronalia Festa, the, II. 321. 
Matsva, an incarnation, II. 156. 
Matuwih, the, I. 102. 
Maun Charaun, rite, II. 233. 
May feast, the. II. 322. 
Maypole, the, II. 86. 
Maya, worship of, I. III. 
Measurement, mystic effect of, I. 104 ; 

II. 311. 
Medha, a Mother, I. 112, 



Megha Rija, a rain godling, I. 74. 

Mekhisura, worship of, II. 226. 

Mela Devi, worship of, I. 133. 

Melusina, II. 126. 

Menstruation, I. 273 ; II. 20. 

Mer tribe, human sacrifice, II. 169. 

Merhala, sister of Sttala, I. 128. 

Mermaid, the, II. 126. 

Mesh&sura, worship of, II. 226. 

Metamorphosis into tigers, II. 216. 

Meteors, I. 32. 

Mhar tribe, respect for the bamboo, II. 
113 ; use of bread, II. 26 ; food for 
the dead, II. 69 ; nudity rite, I. 68. 

Mice, rites to avert, II. 301. 

Mihila, sister of Sttala, I. 128. 

Milk, drinking of, I. 237 ; drunk by 
BhQts, L 237 ; offered to the N^a, 
II. 129 sq. ; poured on the ground, 

I. 26; prejudice against usint;, II. 
236 ; protection of, Irom the Evil Eye, 

II. 10 ; a protective, II. 28 ; river 
flowing with, I. 39 ; of a tigress, II. 
215 ; produced from a well, I. 51. 

Milky Way, the, I. 25. 

Mimosa tree, respect for, II. 106 

Mtna tribe, animal worship, II. 157. 

Mine, spirits of, I. 282. 

Mtr Abdul Ala, a saint, I. 220. 

Mirdn Sihib, a saint, I. 216. 

Mtri tribe, respect for the tiger, II. 

Mirrors, belief regarding, I. 233 ; II. 


Mr. Miacca, II. 82. 

Mitthu Bhiikhiya, worship of, I. 197. 

Miyltn Ahmad, a saint, I. 219. 

Miyan Rajjab, a Plr, I. 205. 

Mnevis, worship of, II. 229. 

Mock fights, II. 176, 321. 

Modh Brihmans, marriage rites, II. 8. 

Mohini, worship of, I. 95. 

Momi^i, II. 176. 

Momiaiwala Sahib, the, II. 177. 

Monkey, bones of, I. 89; euphemi<:m, 
II. 54 ; feeding of, I. 88 ; hunting, 
II. 322; marrying, I. 89; II. 119; 
omens from, II. 49 ; respect for, I. 
86, 88 ; sacrifice of, II. 322 ; worship 
of, I. 86. 

Moon, drinking the, I. 14 ; abode of 
the dead, I. 18; emblem drawn on 
houses as a protective, I. 160 ; con- 
nected with the hare, II. 50 ; new, of 
Bhidon, I. 17; phases of, I. 13; 
spo s, I. 13 ; worship of, I. 12 sq. 

Morgi n La Fay, I. 45. 

Mo-^rs rod of, II. 178. 

Mothers, worship of the, I. Iii ; 
Mother Sati, I. 188. 

Motir&m, worship of, I. 197. 
Mountain deities, I. 62 ; worship of, I. 

Mouse, the, II. 241. 
Mouth, a spirit entry, I. 24a 
Mrigasiras, the constellation, I. 25. 
Mulsi tribe, respect for the bamboo, II. 

113; dancing, I. 154. 
Miichak Rial, worship of, II. 322. 
Muhammad, a Ptr, I. 202. 
Mutn-ud-dt(i Chishti, a saint, I. 214. 
Mukii, a ghost, I. 269. 
Mukmum, a sacred tree, I. IQ4. 
Mdla, the asterism, I. 24, 277. 
Mummy, use of, II. 176. 
Munda tribe, barring the ghost, II. 

62 ; human sacrifice, II. 170 ; rice- 
sowing ceremony, 11. 292. 
Mungoose, omens from the, II. 48 ; in 

the Bethgelert legend, II. 221. 
Milnj grass, sacred, II. 30. 
Murmu tribe, totemism, II. 158. 
Music, a demon scarer, I. 168. 
Mustard, a spirit scarer, I. 80, 273 ; II. 

Math, the, II. 266. 
Mutilation, I. 280 ; II. 66; of witches, 

II. 282. 
Mutua Devata, worship of, I. 103, 137. 
Mysteries, use of dust in, I. 30. 


Nadiya, the bull of Siva, II. 234. 
Ndga, the snake, I. 43; II. 152. 
N%a race, the, II. 124. 
N^a Era, a water godling, I. 45. 
Niga Rdja, worship of, II. 152. 
Naga tribe, tree burial, II. 85. 
NagarDeo, worship of, II. 81. 
Nagar Seth, a rain priest, I. 73. 
NSgbansi tribe, mountain worship, I. 

Nigtswar, a snake godling, II. 131. 
Nigiya Btr, worship cf, I. 235. 
N^ Kanya. the mermaid, II. 126. 
Nllg Kuan, a sacred well, II. 131. 
Nllgpanchami festival, the, II. 129, 

Nihar Khin, worship of, I. 193. 
Ndhar R4o, worship of, I. 95. 
Nihar tribe, totemism, II. 150. 
Nahiwan, rite of, II. 25. 
NaOiuk, legend of, II. 128. 
Nahusha, legend of, II. 127. 
Ndikrilm, worship of, II. 182. 
Nails, of Europeans, II. 9 ; of iron, I. 

273 ; II. 14 ; parings of, I. 280 j II. 

277; of Rikshasas, I. 249. 



Naini Til, lake, I. 55. 
Nakshatras, the asterisms, I. 24. 
^ala and Damayanti, legend of, I. 64. 
Hkm Deo, a saint, I. 184, 204. 
Nimdeo tribe, death rites, II. 105. 
Names, fixed by astrolc^, I. 24 ; op- 
probrious, II. 4 ; taboo o( II. 5. 
Ninak, shrine of, I. 209. 
Nanda Devi, a mountain goddess, I. 

62, 173 ; II. l8a 
Nand Ashtami, feast of, I. 173. 
Nand Bhairon, worship of, I. 109. 
Nandi, the bull of Siva, 11. 234. 
Nirada, worship of, I. 196. 
Nara Sinha, an incarnation, I. 213; 

11. 156. 
Narasinhika, a Mother, I. 1 12. 
Nirdyanbali rite, the, I. 245. 
Niidyana Chakra, a charm, I. 75. 
Narmada river, legend of, I. 39. 
Nasn&s, the, I. 267. 
Nathu Kah&r, worship of, I. 199. 
Nathurim, worship of, II. 319. 
Nat tribe, barring the ghost, II. 59. 
Nature worship, I. i. 
Nausaza, the, I. 223, 250 ; II. 75. 
Nauldkha, the, II. 17. 
Nauratana, the, II. 17. 
Nauratri, feast of, II. 267. 
Navagraha, the nine constellations, I. 

Navalii, worship of, I. 269. 
Navami Piija, the, II. 303. 
Naya, a village priest, I. 157. 
Na>aki, a Yogini, I. 129. 
Necklace, magic, II. 17. 
Negra, godling of indigestion, I. 136. 
Neki BIbi, a bugaboo, II. S2. 
Nereids, the, I. 2. 
Net. a demon scarer, II. 36. 
Neville's Cross, ghosts at, I. 259. 
Newir tribe, tree marriage, II. 117. 
New moon, rites at, I. 16. 
Nhivi tribe, use of rice, II. 26. 
Night, personified, I. 257 ; spirits of, 

I. 250 ; summons, I. 257. 
Nightmare, caused by evil spirits, I. 

233 ; charms against, II. 34. 
Nikke, I. 44. 

Mlgie, omens from, II. 49. 
N!m tree, the, II. 104 ; connected with 

s>mall-pox, I. 129, 135; a cure for 

snake-bite, II. 105. 
Nin.birak sect, legend of, I. 6 ; II. 

Nine yard tombs, I. 223. 
Nirgan Shah, a saint, 1. 185. 
Nirriti, I. 247. 
Nisi, I. 257. 
^:xy, I. 44. 

Nizim-ud-dtn Auli3ra, a saint, I. 214. 
Noah, zrk ol, I. 26 ; legend of, I. 48, 

Noise, a scarer of demons, I. 23, 79, 

Nona Cham&rin, the witch, I. 79 ; II. 

Norka, the, II. 158. 
Nose, a spirit haunt, I. 241 ; ring, 

respect for, II. 43. 
Nudity, of Bhfits, I. 243 ; a charm in 

cattle disease, I. 70 ; in death rites, 

I. 173; to cause rain, I. 67 sqq. ; 

to stop rain, I. 76; in temple 

building, I. 71 ; in the scapegoat 

rite, I. 173. 
Numbers, mystic, II. 51. 
Nyagrodha tree, the, II. 98. 

^Oba, a cholera goddess, I. 146. 

Odd numbers, II. 51. 

Odin, dogs of, II. 223. 

Oil, used in ceremonies, I. 93, 148. 

Oilman, ghost of, I. 260 ; omens from, 
II. 48. 

Ointment, magic, I. 228 ; II. 43. 

Ojha, an exerciser, I. 129, 147, 156I 

Ojhyil tribe, use ot bells, I. 168. 

Old Man of the Mountains, the, I. 215. 

Old Nick, I. 44. 

Old Scratch, II. 82. 

Oliya, a hail charmer, I. 80. 

Omens, II. 47 ; avoidance of, II. 54 ; 
firom crows, II. 245; from doj^s, II. 
222 ; from the hoise, II. 207 ; from 
wells, I. 52. 

One-eyed people, II. 37, 51. 

Onion, prejudice against eating, II. 35. 

Onvx, a sacred stone, II. 19. 

Opniogeneis, the, II. 124. 

Ophthalmia, cure of, I. 209. 

Opprobrious names, II. 4. 

Orion tribe, birth fiends, I. 264; cat 
fiend, II. 271 ; disposal of the dead, 
I. 237; modes of divination, I. 153 ; 
earth marriage, I. 30; plough, re- 
spect for, II. 192 ; appointment of 
priest, II. 189; respect for eels, II. 
255 ; use of rice, II. 27 ; sun worship, 
I. 9 sq. ; respect for the tamarini 
tree, II. 109 ; totemism^ II. 158. 

Ordeal, of magic circle, II. 42 ; for 
witches, II. 271 sq. 

Ordure, eating of, II. 36. 

Oshadhipati, a title of the moon, I. 14. 



Osiris, II. 229. 

Ovum Auguinum, the, II. 142, 224. 
Owls, I. 279 ; eating flesh of, I. 279 ; 
omens from, II. 50. 

Pabu, a Pir, I. 206. 

Pachtsi, game of, II. i8f . 

Pachpiriya sect, the, I. 205. 

Padam tribe, belief in tree spirits, II. 

Padoei, a race of cannibals, II. 168. 
Padma, a mother, I. 112. 
Pahdr Pando, a hill godling, I. 62. 
Pahariya tribe, use of blwod, II. 20, 
Palaces under the water, I. 56. 
Palisa tree, sacred, II. iii. 
Palasvidhi rite, the, 11. 1 14. 
Palihdr, worship of, I. 205. 
Palliwal Br^hmaus, horse worship, II. 

Palm tree, respect for, II. 91. 
Palwdr sept, witchcraft, II. 286. 
Panchajana, a demon, II. 17. 
Pancharatana, the, II. 69. 
Panch Pir, the, I. 94, 205. 
Panda, a priest, II. 317. 
Pdndavas, the, worship of, I. 206 ; II. 

128, 237. 
Pdnipat, ghosts at, I. 259. 
Panj Pir, the, I. 202. 
Panka tribe, theory of disease, I. 124 ; 

earth worship, I. 32 ; euphemism, II. 

54 ; wind charming, I. 82. 
Parachhan rite, II. 24. 
Parameswar, a title of the sun, I. 10. 
Parisara, worship of, I. 196 ; II. 241. 
Pardah, custom of, II. 47. 
Pardesi Rdjput sept, totemism, II. 156. 
Parhaiya tribe, sheep worship, I. 164; 

totemism, II. 155. 
Pari, the, I. 265. 

Parihar Rijput sept, totemism, II. 154. 
Parijita, a magic tree, II. 88. 
Parisadas, worship of, I. 94. 
Parjanya, worship of, I. 33. 
Parrot, the, II. 251. 
Pirsi tribe, use of earth, I. 29 ; use of 

sandal- wood, II. 113. 
Partridge, the, II. 251. 
Parturition charms, II. 3, 12, 19, 120, 

183 ; impurity, I. 273. 
Par^ravas, legend of, I. 238. 
Parusha, the eternal male, I. 1 1 1 ; II. 

Parushamedha rite, the, II. 167. 
Pirvatl, spouse of Siva, I. 12, 62. 

Pisi tribe, worship of the Ptr, I. 206. 

Pasupatinitha, worship of, II. 81, 237. 

Pat, a shrine, I. 268. 

Pitila, opening of, I. 282. 

Pat^ri tribe, ancestor worship, I. 177 ; 

use of bells, I. 168; belief in the 

Churel, I. 271 ; earth worship, I. 

32 ; euphemism, II. 54 ; food for the 

dead, II. 70 ; belief in omens, II. 

49; rag offerings, L 163; scape 

animal, I. 169. 
Pathdn tribe, respect for the dove, 

II. 246. 
Pattiw^h, the, I. 102. 
Pauariya tribe, death rite, II. 64. 
Pawan kk p(it, a title of Hdnumin, I. 

Peacock, the, II. 45, 155, 233, 250. 
Pearl, sacred, II. 17. 
Pebbles flung at the ghost, II. 57. 
Perambulation in the course of the sun, 

I. 10. 
Perforated shells, II. 17 s stones, I. 

227; II. 164. 
Pestle producing water, I. 50. 
Phalgu river, legend of, I. 39. 
Phallicism, in worship of Btitmsen, I. 

90 ; in cow worship, II. 229 ; in 

serpent worship, II. 124 ; in tree 

worship, II. 86 J offerings, I. 90; 

stones adapted to, 11. 164; in worship 

of the plough, II. 192. 
Phapholewili, a title of Sttala, I. 126. 
Pharsipen, worship of, I. 120. 
Pheasant, the, II. 251. 
Pheru, a whirlwind demon, I. 81. 
Philosopher's stone, the, II. 15. 
Phoenix, the, II. 155, 158. 
Phouka, the, II. 77. 
Phdlmati, a sister of Sltala, I. 129. 
Pigeon, the, I. 209 ; II. 246 ; marriage 

of, II. 119. 
Pillar worship of Bhtmsen, I. 90. 
Pillows, offering of, I. 209. 
Pindhiri tribe, worship of Ramasa Pir, 

I. 200. 
Pingala, the elephant, II. 239. 
Pingalika, the lion, II. 210, 
Pinnacle shaking, I. 223. 
Pins, offered in wells, I. 163, 
Ptpa, worship of, II. 133. 
Pipal tree, the, I. 163; II. 61, 97; 

leaves used as a witch test, II. 273. 
Ptrs, the, I. 201, 204. 
Pir 'Ali Rangrez, a saint, I. 203. 
Pir Badr, a water godling, I. 47. 
Pir HathtlS, a saint, I. 203. 
Plr.i-'Azam, a saint, I. 216. 
Plr-i-Dastglr, a saint, I. 216. 
Pir Jahaniyin, a saint, I. 202, 221. 



Pir Jalil, a saint, I. 203. 

Ptr Muhammad, a samt, I. 203. 

Pisicha, the, I. 94, 245 ; BhiUha, I. 

Pitri, the sainted dead, residing in the 

moon, I. 18 ; worship of, I. 177. 
Places, omens from, II. 53. 
Planchette, the, II. 189. 
Plantain uce, respect for, I. 131 1 II. 

Pleiades, the, I. 25. 
Plenty, horn of, II. 225. 
Piough, a fetish, II. 192 ; Monday, II. 

Ploughing, rites in co.inection with, II. 

Ploughshare, used in sorcery, I. 160. 
Pokhar, a sacred lake, I. 54. 
Pokhama Brithmans, feiish worship, 

II. 187. 
PolamdS, a sister of Sttala, I. 128. 
Pole star, the, I. 24. 
Pomaliya tribe, practice of the Couvade, 

I. 276. 
Pomegranate, a sacred tree, II. 108. 
Poplar tree, sacred, II. 97, 
Pora Mii, worship of, I. 114. 
Porcupine quill, used in a charm, I. 

Pot, the inexhaustible, I. 215. 
Potlinga, worship of, II. 182. 
Potter^s wheel, a fetish, II. 186. 
Poverty, expulsion of, II. 188. 
Powder, thrown at the Holl, 11. 317. 
Prabhu tribe, birth fiends, I. 264; 

respect for the bamboo, II. 113; 

respect for the boar, II. 157 ; respect 

for the coGoanut, II. 106. 
Prahldda, legend of, II. 313. 
Prajapati, worship of, I. 5, 196; II. 

Prakriti, worship of, I. III. 
Pramantha, the, II. 193. 
Pregnant women, II. 2 ; at eclipses, I. 

22 ; and snakes, II. 143. 
Pret, the, I. 94, 244. 
Pretiya.Brihmans, I. 245. 
Pretsila, the, I. 245. 
Priest, worship of, I. 178. 
Prithivi, worship of, I. 26 ; II. 288. 
Privy, a haunt of Bhiits, I. 293, 
Priyavrata, legend of, L 9. 
Prometheus, fl. 193. 
Proper names and totemism, II. 152. 
Prostitution, religious, II. 118. 
Puberty, initiation rite, II. 66 ; flagella- 
tion at, I. 100 ; seclusion at, I. 93. 
Puck, II. 77. 
Pumpkin, substituted for a human 

sacrifice, II. 17$, 

Pundarika, the elephant, II. 239. 
Piira Br&hmans, totemism, II. 149. 
Pflran Mai, ghost of, I. 253. 
Purse, the inexhaustible, I. 215. 
P(!lshan, worship of, I. 2. 
Pushkar, a sacred lake, I. 54. 
Pushpadanta, the elephant, II. 239. 
Pushti, a Mother, I. 112. 
Pfitona, a witch, I. 94 ; II. 285, 313. 

Qadam-i-Ras6l, the, II. 200. 
Quern, the magic, I. 50. 
Qutb Sh&h, a saint, I. 218. 
Qutb-ud-dtn Bakhtiyir Kiki, a saint, I. 

Qutbud'dtn Ushi, a saint, I. 216. 
Qutrub, the, I. 267. 


Raddbr tribe, birth rites, I. 277. 

Ridha, worship of, I. 3, in. 

Ra^ Dds, a saint, I. 184. 

Rki Sinh, worship of, I. 200. 

Raft, launched in honour of Khwija 

Khizr, I. 48 ; used to expel demons, 

I. 48. 
Rag, horses offered, II. 208 ; offerings 

of, I. i6i ; tree, II. 319. ' 

Rahma, a saint, I 81. 
R&hu, the eclipse demon, I. 19. 
Raikw&r tribe, objection to the Ntm 

tree, II. 158. 
Railway accident, persons killed at, 

I. 259. 
Rain, binding up, I. 77 ; charms, I. 

67 ; II. 96 ; clouds influenced by the 

Evil Eye, I. 78 ; stopped by cutting 

trees, II. 90 j devices to prevent, 

I. 76. 
Rainbow, the, I. 25 ; II. 144. 
REja, of Bdndi, the, I. 257 ; Chandol, 

worship of, I. 198; Kidir, I. 47; 

Ldkhan, worship of, I. 198. 
Rajab Slllir, a saint, I. 205. 
Rajawa, a snake godling, II. 140. 
Rijput tribe, ancestor worship, I. 181 ; 

Sati worship, I. 187. 
RSka, a moon goddess, I. 15. 
Rakhwili, a guardian witch, II. 270. 
Rakhshabandhan rite, II. 293. 
Rikshasa, the, I. 246 1 a builder, I. 

250; a cannibal, II. 168; folly of, 

I. 249; Majhw^ belief regarding, 

I. 233 ; modem, I. 252. 



RIkshasi, the, I. 95. 247, 253. 

Raii kk Mela, the, II. 321. 

Ram, worship of, II. 226. 

R&ma and S!ta, wells of. I. 52. 

Rdmanand, footprints of, II. 200. 

Rimdnuja sect, rules of eating, I. 293. 

Ram&sa Ptr, worship of, I. 200. 

Rdmdyana, the epic, I. 85. 

Rambha, a fairy, I. 265. 

Ram Deo, a P!r, I. 206. 

Ramoshi tribe, marriage rites, 11. 47 ; 

nudity rite, I. 68. 
Rana, a Rakshasa, I. 55. 
Rini BSchhal, the, I. 211. 
Ransila, a sacred rock, I. 91 ; II. 18 1. 
Rantideva Rllja, I. 39. 
Rasilu, lejjend of, I. 250 ; II. 136, 241. 
Rds Mandala dance, the, I. 155. 
Rat, the, II. 241 ; produced by 

neglected rite*?, I. 73; euphemism, 

II. 241 ; of Sh&h Daula, II. 242 ; 

a vehicle, II. 156. 
Ratan Hdji, a saint, I. 212. 
Ratan Panr^, worship of, I. 192. 
Raudri, a Mother, I. 112., 
Rauka Devi, worship of, I. 133. 
Rautiya tribe, tree marriage, II. 1 16. 
RsLvana, a Rdkshasa, I. 247. 
Re-birth through the cow, II. 231. 
Recalling the ghost, II. 72. 
Red, a protective, II. 28. 
Red Nose and Bloody Bones, II. 82. 
Regillus, lake of, II. 181. 
Relics of saints, I. 75, 202 ; worship of, 

II. 38. 
Renuka, legend of, I. 58, 94. 
Rhoea Sybeli, goddess of ravines, I. 

Rice pounder, fetish, II. 191 ; thrown 

over the bride, II. 26, 188; rite 

during planting, II. 291. 
Rikheswara, worship of, II. 137. 
Rikbi Panchami feast, the, II. 137. 
Riksha, the constellation, I. 24. 
Ring, magic, II. 44 ; protective power 

of, II. 13, 16, 43. 
Rip Van Winkle, I. 270. 
River, associated with the Himalaya, 

I. 42 ; springing from a corpse, I. 
41 ; home of the dead, I. 42 ; ill- 
omened, I. 40 ; junction sacred, I. 
38 ; of death, II. 55 ; retiring at the 
prayer of a saint, I. 218 ; worship, 
I- 35 sqq. 

Road, a haunt of Bhdts, I. 77 sq., 290 j 

II. 3. 

Robbers, deified, I. 197. 
Robin Goodfellow, II. y6y 198. 
Rod used in water finding, I. 5a 
Rohi&nw^la, a saint, I. 208. 

VOL. lU 

Rohini, legend of, I. 13. 

Roof, a haunt of Bh^ts, I. 293. 

Rosaries, II. 19. 

Rowan, a sacred tree, II. 107, iii, 

Ruby, a sacred stone, II. 17. 
Rudra Siva, worship of, I. 3, Q4. 
Ruins, a haunt of Bhuts, I. 28a 
Ri^khar Bdba, a saint, I. 220. 
Rukh, a mystic bird, II. 158. 
Rukmini, worship of, I. 3. 
Rumpelstilzchen, tale of, II. 5. 
Riiniya, a demon, I. 264. 
Rupee, used in a charm, I. 1 16. 
Rural festivals, II. 287. 
Rush ring, the, II. 43. 

Sa, a sacred grove, II. 90. 

Sabari, worship of, I. 94. 

Sachi, a Mother, I. 112. 

Sacrifice, vicarious, I. 74, 76; scape 
animal merging into, I. 1 72. 

Sadasiva, legend of, II. 237. 

Sadhu, the, I. 183. 

Sadhua Bhagat, a saint, I. 204. 

Sigara, legend of, I. 35. 

Sahja Mdi, worship of, I. 205. 

Sahu Sdlir, worship of, I. 205. 

Siim, a title of Bh^miya, I. 105. 

Sain Bhagat, a saint, I. 204. 

Sainhikeya, a demon, I. 19. 

Saining, rite of, II. 177. 

Sainted dead, the, I. 175 sqq. 

Sdkamabari Devi, worship of, I. 224. 

Sakhi Sarwar, a saint, I. 208. 

Sakhiya, the, II. 91. 

Sdkhu tree, respect for, II. icx). 

Sakhu Bai, worship of, I. 187. 

Sdkini, worship of, I. 94. 

Sikti, worship of, I. 3, 84, 94. 

Sdl tree, respect for, I. 32 ; II. Sy, 100. 

Salagr^ma, the, I. 274; II. 165, 183; 
married to the Tulasi, I. 49. 

Saigirah, the, II. 47. 

Salhes, worship of, I. 197. 

Saltm Chishti, a saint, I. 190, 285. 

Saliva, effects of, I. 262 ; II. 22. 

Salono festival, the, II. 36, 293. 

Salt, abstinence from, I. 7. ; a protec- 
tive, I. 243 ; II. 23. 

Salutation, a means of scaring demons, 
II. 23. 

Sambat, the, II. 314. 

Sdmbhar lake, legend of, I. 55. 

Sambhun^th, fire worship in honour of, 
II. 196. 

A a 



Sambra, a goddess, I. 55. 
Sampson, L 239 ; II. 66, 205, 
Simudrika, worship of, I. 95. 
Sandal, a sacred tree, II. 113. 
Sangal Nfig, worship of, II. 125. 
Sani, the planet, I. 1 10, 130; II. 16, 

Sankardchirya, a saint, I. 6. 
Sankara Devi, worship of, I. 133. 
Sankhachdrni, the, II. 77. 
Sankhini, worship of, I. 95. 
S^p Deota, worship of, II. 122. 
Santil tribe, cremation rites, II. 189 ; 

fetishes, II. 181 ; harvest home, II. 

308 ; oath on the tiger, II. 213 ; 

legend of origin, II. 154 ; mountain 

worship, I. 61 ; post worship, I. 

loi ; religious prostitution, II. 1 18 ; 

totemism, II. 158 ; tiger worship, 

II. 213; belief about trees, II. 90; 

witch ordeals, II. 272. 
Santanu, legend o( I. 36. 
Sllnti, a mother, I. 112. 
Santokh, the, II. 215. 
Sinwar, worship of, I. 205. 
Sapaha, worship of, I. 267. 
Sapinda karana, rite, I. 245. 
Sapphire, a sacred stone, II. 17. 
Saptasri Devi, worship of, I. 284. 
Saratoga, ghosts at, I. 259. 
Sarhul, a feast, I. 51. 
Sarjan, worship of, II. 133. 
Sarju river, legend of, I. 39. 
Sarna, a sacred grove, II. 90. 
Sarvabhauma, the elephant, II. 239. 
Sarvari, II. 219. 
Sateswar, legend of, I. 125. 
Sathi, a birth fiend, I. 264. 
Sati, the, I. 185, 197 ; shrines of, I. 

Saturn, the planet. See Sam. 
Saturnalia, II. 97, 324. 
Satvii, a birth fiend, I. 264; II. 

Satyavrata, legend of, I. 38. 
Satyr, the, I. 264. 
Saubha Devi, worship of, I. 95. 
Saukan Maura, the, I. 236. 
Saura sect, sun worship, I. 6. 
Savala, the sacred cow, II. 232. 
Savitri, worship of, I. 112 ; II, 236. 
Siyam, a title of Bhdmiya, I. 105. 
Sayyid Ahmad, a saint, I. 208. 
Sayyid Kablr, a saint, I. 217. 
Sa37id MahmM, a saint, I. 223. 
Sayyid Saadat Pir, I. 258. 
Sayyid SlUir Masaud, I. 207. 
Sayyid Yusuf, I. 222. 
Sayyids, the, I. 201. 
Scalplock, the, I. 107, 239. 

Scape animals, I. 1 1 3, 141 sq., 166, 

Scapular, the, II. 41. 
Scavenger, a priest, I. 95. 
Scissors, a fetish, II. i86. 
Scorpion, sting, charms, I. 151 ; II. 

no ; controlled by a saint, I. 185. 
Scott, Michael, I. 252. 
Scrofula, cure of, I. 221. 
Sculptures, obscene, I. 69. 
Second marriage and Bhdts, I. 235. 
Secrecy in rites, I. 28, 33, 293 ; II. 95, 

Sectarial marks, II. 30. 
Sedala, sister of Sttala, I. 128. 
Sedhu Lala, worship of, I. 129. 
Semal, a sacred tree, II. 103. 
Serpent. See Snake. 
Sesamum, mystic power of, 1. 102 ; II. 

Seshan^, the world serpent, I. 49; 

II. 123, 125, 288. 
Seth, tomb of, I. 224. 
Seven, a mystic number, I. 46, 77, 128, 

148; II. 51 ; the sleepers, I, 283. 
Seventy-four, a mystic number, II. 39. 
Sewanriya, a deity of boundaries, I. 

Sex, change of, II. 6. 
Shadow, part of the soul, I. 43, 133, 

233, 260 ; not cast by Bhdts, I. 237. 
Shahdba, the, II. 197. 
Sh4h Abdul Ghafiir, a saint, I. 219. 
Shdh Daula, a saint, I. 220 ; rais of, 

II. 242. 
Shibgarh lake, legend of, I. 57. 
Shdhpasand, the £iiry, I. 266. 
Shdh Q^sim Sulaimani, the saint, I. 

184, 202. 
Shih Ruqa-i-Alam, a Ptr, I. 203. 
Shdh Shams Tabriz, a Plr, I. 203. 
Shah Viiayat, a saint, I. 285. 
Shdhza, worship of, I. 205. 
Shaikh Ahmad Abdul Haqq, I. 223. 
Shaikh Bdrhan, a saint, I. 190. 
Shaikh Fartd, a saint, I. 203, 214 ; II. 

Shaikh Jaldl Makhddm, Jahaniydn 

Jahingasht, a Pir, I. 203. 
Shaikh Kabtr, a saint, I. 220. 
Shaikh Mina Shah, a saint, I. 281. 
Shaikh Muhammad Ghaus, a saint, I. 

Shaikh Saddu, worship of, I. 204, 217, 

Shait^n, the, I. 266. 
Shambuka, legend of, II. 223. 
Shamsi sect, the, I. 184. 
Shiod M^ta, worship of, II. 309. 
Shashthi, worship of, I. 131. 



Shaving, rite of, I. 47 ; II. 66. 

Sheaf, the last, II. 306 ; a protective, 
II. 28. 

Shears, divmation by, II. 187. 

Sheep, respect for, I. 163. 

Shell, a protective, II. 16. 

Shiqq, the, I. 267. 

Shtsbam tree, sacred, II. loi. 

Shoe, a scarer of demons, I. 80 ; II. 
34 ; flying, II. 206. 

Shoebeating, I. 80 ; II. 34. 

Shrine, in honour of persons killed by 
accident, I. 234 ; which cure barren- 
ness, I. 227 ; which cure disease, I. 
220 ; of Bh^miya, I. 105 ; direction 
of, I. 96, 98 ; with images or relics, 

I. 224 ; of Sakhi Sarwar, I. 21a 
Siddhua, a kindly ghost, II. 81. 
Sidi Maula, a saint, I. 220. 
Sieve, a fetish, I. 152. 
Sikandar Diwina, a Ptr, I. 205. 
Sikh Sayyids, I. 201. 

Silat, the, I. 267. 

Silence in rites, II. 59, 165, 311 sq. 

Silkworms, II. 257. 

Silver, touched at the new moon, I. 

16 ; a protective, II. 15. 
Simurgh,a mystic bird, II. 158. 
Sin -eating, I. 170. 

Sing Bont^a, a title of the sun, I. 10. 
Sinhas, the, II. 132. 
Sinhika, a Rikshasi, I. 261. 
Siras tree, respect for, II. 109. 
Slta, purified by bathing, I. 59 : test of 

chastity, I. 52 ; sprung from a lur- 

row, II. 287 ; kitchen of, I. 52 ; II. 

32 ; pool of, I. 59 ; palanquin of, I. 

62 ; well of, I. 52 ; worship of, I. 94 
Sttala, the small-pox goddess, I. 125 ; 

II. 174 ; connected with the Nlm 
tree, II. 104. 

Sith Bhruaith mounds, I. 282. 

Sithi Jatra feast, II. 176. 

Sitting in silence, II. 59. 

Siva, vehicle of, II. 156. 

Skandhah^ta, the, I. 258. 

Skin, a seat, II. 35. 

Skull-breaking rite, I. 239. 

Sleeping person awakened, I. 232. 

Small-pox, and the Nlm tree, II. 104 ; 
precautions during epidemics, I. 135 ; 
transference of, I. 165 ; worship of 
goddess of, I. 125. 

Smell, bad, a spirit scarer, II. 21. 

Snake, an ancestor, II. 133 ; killing of, 
a cause ot barrenness, I. 226 ; bite 
cured at a shrine, I. 221 ; charm for 
bite of, 1. 151, 239 ; II. 140 ; charm- 
inj( of, IL 141 ; connected with 
Uiw&li feast, II. 295 ; double- 

tongued, II. 137 J feeding, II. 138 ; 
euphemism, II. 142 ; heroes deified, 
II. 133 ; in folk-lore, II. 136, 141 ; 
gods, II. 131 ; household, II. 144; 
jewel, the, II. 143 ; connected with 
the N!m tree, II. 104; path of, I. 
25 ; connected with the rainbow, II. 
144 ; connected with the Sati, I. 
187 ; shrines, II. 125 ; race, II 124, 
151 ; stone, II. 141, 224 ; in tem- 
ples, II. 126; treasure guardians, II. 
134; tribe, the, II. 151; ruler of 
the weather, II. 129 ; women, II. 
137 ; worship of, I. 12 1 sqq. 

Sneezing, I. 240. 

Snow, caused by tree-cutting, II. 91. 

Sobarna T!r, worship of, I. 205. 

Sokha 1 an exerciser, I. 147 ; II. 

Sokha Baba ) 122. 

Solar myth, the, I. 56. 

Solomon, I. 151, 266 ; II. 19, 39, 75, 

Soma, the moon godling, I. 12 ; II. 

Somavansi tribe, belief about second 
marriage, I. 235. 

Son river, legend of, I. 39. 

Soral, a snake godling, II. 140. 

Sorcerers, I. 156. 

Soul, departing in a dream, I. 231 ; 
facilitating departure of, II. 55 ; 
separable, I. 231 ; II. 23. 

South, the abode of the dead, I. 98. 

Speech, of Bhftts, I. 238. 

Spirits of the dead, hostile, I. 230 ; en- 
tries of, 1. 238 ; lovers, 1. 238 ; mortal, 
I. 178. 

Spitting, I. 5, 79; of gold, II. 134. 

SpUrle, a demon scarer, II. 22 ; effects 
of, I. 262. 

Spleen disease, charm for, II. 224. 

Spolviero, a wind sprite, I. 81. 

Spread hand, the, II. 39. 

Spri:4gans, the, I. 286. 

Springs, connected with the Ganges, I. 
38 ; hot, I. 53. 

Square, magic, I. 159. 

Squirrel, the, II. 242. 

Sraddha, rites, I. 179, 234 ; II. 30. 

bringiri Devi, worship of, I. 1 14. 

Stalactite, a fetish, II. 180. 

Star, falling, I. 82; II. 22; showing 
to, I. 25 ; worship of, I. 23 ; as kiue, 

Starling and locusts, II. 302. 

St. George, I. 48. 

Stick, magic, II. 177 sq. 

Stocks named from animals, &c., II. 

Stone, circle, the, II. 42 ; creature 

A a 2 



turned into, II. 163 ; receptacle for 
the ghost* II. 61 ; endued with life, 
II. 164 ; used as fetishes, II. 163 ; 
perforated, II. 19, 164 ; precious, II. 
17 ; connected with rainfall, I. 75 ; 
weapons, II. 12, 164. 

String, magic, II. 45. 

Strix, the, I. 279. 

StOpa, the, II. 199. 

Subhich^ra, a Yogini, I. 129. 

Subhadanti, the elephant, II. 239. 

Substitutes for sacrifice I. 97. 

Succubi, the, I. 238, 264. 

Sudarsana, legend of, II. 130. 

Sudarsan Sah, expulsion of sorcerers, 
I. 156. 

Sugar, a spirit scarer, II. 36. 

Sugar-cane, rite^^ I. 216 ; II. 304, 307. 

Sugrtva, a monkey king. I. 63. 

Suicide, burial of, I. 269, 290 ; reli- 
gious, I. 256; II. 169; worship of, 
I. 191 sqq. 

Suiri tribe, worship of Hanum^, I. 86. 

Sulakshana, a Yogini, I. 129. 

Sultan Baytiztd, worship of, I. 220. 

Sult^ni sect, the, I. 208. 

Sun, emblem of, drawn as a protective, 

I. 160 ; eye of, I. 12 ; impregnation 
by, I. II, 69 ; power of summoning 
friends, I. 11 ; kindred of the, II. 
150 ; connected with the Ntm tree, 

II. 105; walking in the course of, 1. 10. 
Sunanda, a Yo{)ini, I. 129. 
Suuasepha, worship of, I. 94. 
Sdnga, a water finder, I. 50. 
Sung^, worship of, II. 303. 
Sunshine, propitiation of. II. 314. 
Sunstroke, theory of, I. 125. 
Suprattka, the elephant, II. 239. 
Surabhandeswari, worship of, I. 95. 
Surabhi, the mystic cow, II. 232. 
Suraj Deota, worship of, I. 74. 
SOrajbansi Rijput sept, totemism, II. 


Suraj NMyan ^ worship of, I. 5, 74, 

Sdrya, / 77. 283. 

Si^ryabhdn, worship of, I. 61. 

Sdryapati, worship of, I. 6. 

Suthdn, worship of, I. 205. 

Svadha, a Mother, I. 112. 

Svisva, a title of Bhairon, I. 108. 

Swan, the, II. 247 ; maiden, cycle of 
tales, I. 36, 45, 68, 238. 

Swastika, the, I. ii, 160; II. loi, 125. 

Sweeper, burial of, I. 144, 269 ; ghosts 
of, II. 60; omens from, II. 48 ; saint 
of, I. 203. 

Sword, magic, II. 13, 162 ; marriage to, 
II. 185 ; a protective, II. 14 ; wor- 
ship of, II. 185. 

Syama Karana, the horse. II. 204. 
Syaniala, worship of, I. 95. 
Syamji, worship of, I. 196. 
Syana, an exorciser, I. 147. 

Taboo, of names, II. 5. 

Tadala, a sacred lake, I 56. 

Tail, of the tiger, II. 217. 

Takshaka, a snake king, I. 17 ; II. 


Talio Daitya, a demon, I. 284. 

Tamarind tree, respect for, II. I09» 

Tank, sacred, I. 58} containing trea- 
sure, I. 60. 

Tanner, water of, drunk, II. 280. 

Ta a Bai, I. 249. 

Tira Penu, worship of, II. 131. 

Tir Blr, a demon, I. 235. 

Taroba, a sacred lake, I. 56. 

Tarpana rite, the, I. 180. 

Tattooing, II. 30. 

Tauz, I. 48. 

Teeth, of witches, II. 281. 

Tejaji, worship of, I. 213. 

Telemachus, dogs ot, II. 222. 

Teli, omens from, II. 48. 

Tempests, caused by Deos, I. 254. 

Temple builoing and nudity, I. 71. 

Terminus, I. 290. 

Tests, of hero, II. 215 ; of witches, II. 

Thags, fetish axe, II. 184 ; belief in 
omens, II. 49 ; patron saint, I. 215 ; 
worship of Devi, I. 63. 

Thakur tribe, birth rites, II. 40. 

Thammuz, I. 48. 

Thandi, a title of Sttala, I. 130. 

Tharu tribe, burial rites, II. 65 ; fetish 
worship, II. 184; post worship, I. 
loi J use of turmeric, II. 29 ; witch- 
craft, II. 261, 284 

Thatch-burning to cure barrenness, I. 

Theh, a sacred mound, I. 107. 

Thorns, a demon scarer, II. 36, 57. 

Three, a mystic number, II. 51. 

Threshold, respect for, I. 241. 

Threshing-floor, protection of, II. 41. 

Thumbs, double, II. 36. 

Thunder and lightning, I. 33 sq., 135. 

Tiga, a totem sept, II. 151. 

Tiger, the, II. 210 ; befooled, II. 218; 
charming, I. 153 ; II. 214 ; claws, 
II. 38 ; euphemism, II. 212 ; laying 
of ghost, I. 267 ; magical powers of, 
II. 214; man-eating, II. 211 ; pro- 



pitiation of, II. 215 ; a vehicle, II. 

Tilanjali rite, the, II. 28. 
Tippera tribe, recalling the ghost, II. 

Tirik, a totem sept, II. 151. 
Tiyar tribe, human sacrifice, II. 170. 
Toad, fat of, II. 177 ; stone, the, I. 

Toda tribe, buffalo worship, II. 237 j 

worship of Hiriya Deva, I. 168. 
Tula, a demon, I 261. 
Tomb, fetish, II. 198 ; haunters, II. 

218; miracle-working, I. 184. 
Tombstone, the, II. 61, 166. 
Tom Tit Tot, II. 5. 
Tool fetish, the, II 184. . 
Toothache charms, I. 151. 
Topaz, a sacred stone, II. 17. 
Tortoise, th<', II. 255. 
Totem, the, 11. 146 sqq. 
Totemism, II. 86, 120, 124 ; II. 146 

sqq., 225. 
Transmigration, II. 230. 
Treasure, buried, I. 282; guarded by 

Bhuts, I. 282 ; discovered by human 

sacrifice, II. 170; guarded by snakes, 

I. 282 ; II. 134; speaking, II. 135 ; 
in tanks, I. 60; underground, I. 

Tree, growing from bones, II. 88 ; 
burial in, II. 85 ; caution in climbing, 
II- n ; prejudice against cutting, 

II. 90 ; bearing fruit and flowers at 
the same time, II. ^\ ghosts, I. 
243 ; II. 77 ; connected with places, 
II. 92 ; influencing rain, II. 90 ; 
marriages, II. 115 ; married to a well, 
II. 86 ; abode of Rikshasas, II. 84 ; 
serpent worship, II. 83 sq. ; sprites, 
II. 92 ; which talks, II. 89 j spirits 
giving rain, II 84. 

Trinivartta, a tempest demon, 1. 78. 
Tripura, worship of, I. 95. 
Trisanku, legend of, I. 38, 41, 94. 
Tnghlaq, the Emperor, I. 228. 
Tukarim, worship of, I. 196. 
Tulasi plant, the, I. 21 ; II. Iio; 

married to the Sdlagr4ma, I. 49 ; to 

a Brdhman, 11. 116. 
Tulasi Dds, worship of, I. 85, 196. 
Tulja Bhawdni, worship of, I. 155. 
Tumour, charm to remove, I. 160. 
Turi tribe, respect for the bamboo, II. 


Turkin, a form of Sttala, I. 126. 
Turquoise, a sacred stone, IL 18. 
Turmeric, a protective, I. 237 ; II. 

Toshti, a Mother, I. 112. 


UcHCHAisRAVAS, a horse, II. 204. 

Uchla tribe, death rites, II. 39. 

Uj, legend of, I. 223. 

Ujali Mslta, worship of, I. 127. 

Uma, legend of, I. 12. 

Urebar, a sacred tree, II. 97. 

Umbilical cord, the, II. 38. 

Umljrella, use of, II. 24. 

Uncle, appeal to, I. 249 ; a name for 

the moon, I. 14. 
Undine, I. 45. 
Unsained children, II. 13. 
Urad, a sacred grain, I. 77, 80, 147 ; 

II. 27. 
Urin Khatola, the, II. 206. 
Urine, of the cow, II. 28. 
Urvasi, legend of, I. 265. 
Ushas, worship of, I. 2, 5 ; II. 303. 
Uttara Kuru, a paradise, I. 60. 

Vaddar tribe, respect for the boar, II. 

158; theory of disease, I. 124. 
Vdggayya tribe, dog worship, II. 221. 
Vdhana, a vehicle, II. 156. 
Vaishnavi, a Mother, I. 112. 
Vaitarani river, the, I. 40 ; II. 55. 
Vajraklta insect, the, II. 165. 
Vaka, legend of, I. 250. 
Vala, legend of, I. 255. 
Vallabh^ch^ya sect, marriage with a 

god, II. 118. 
Vdlmlki, worship of, I. 195. 
Vampire, the, I. 243 ; II. 263. 
Vanadurga, worship of, I. 95. 
Varaha, the boar incarnation, I. 35 ; II. 

Varahi, the Mother, 112. 
Varli tribe, recalling the ghost, II. 71. 
Varuna, a rain god, I. 2 ; vehicle of, II. 

VaiTini, worship of, II. 125. 
Vasavas, the, I. 36. 
Vasishtha, a sage, I. 38, 196. 
Vastra-harana tree, the, I. 161. 
Vasudeva, worship of, II. 98. 
Vasuki, the snake god, II. 131. 
Vasunemi, a snake god, II. 131. 
Vata, a sacred tree, IL 98. 
Vayda tribe, totemism, II. 154. 
Vayu, worship of, I. 2 ; II. 156. 
Vehicles, of the gods, II. 156. 
Vena Raja, I. 39. 128, 146. 
Veni Midhava, worship of, I. 39, 
Vermilion, a protective, II. 21. 



Vessels, cleaned with earth, I. 29 ; re- 
placed after a death, II. 74. 

Vct&la, the, I. 94, 148, 149. a43 ; U- 

Vijaya, a Mother, I. 112. 

Vikramaditya, II. 208. 

Village, abandoned, I. loi, 282 ; god- 
lings, I. 83, 96 ; ill-omened, II. 53 ; 
overturned by a curse, I* 217; shrines, 

Vinata, legend of, II. 127. 

Vindhyablslni Devi, worship of I. 63, 

Vindh3ran hills, respect for, I. 63. 

Vinjitn, a hill goddess, I. 63. 

Vtiabhadia, legend of, I. 12. 

Vimn employed in working charms, I. 

Visaladeva, legend of, I- 252. 
Vishnu, head of, worshipped, I. 94; 

identified with Bhiimiya, I. 107 ; 

sleep of, II. 299 ; vehicle of, II. 

156 ; worship of, I. 3, 84, 209. 
Vishnupada, worship of, II. 199. 
Visranti Sriddha, rite, II. 6i. 
Visvakanna, legend of, I. 5. 
Visvamitra, a sage, I. 38. 
Volcanic fire, the, II. 197. 
Vomiting caused by Rikshasas, I. 248. 
Vrihaspati, legend of, I. 14. 
Vrishakdpi, the monkey, I. 85. 
Vrishotsarga rite, the, II. 234. 
Vritra, the weather dragon, I. 255 5 II. 

Vulture, a vehicle, II. 156. 
Vydsa, legend of, I. 38 ; worship of, I. 



WAgh Deo, worship of, II. 213. 

WagtaU, the, II. 248. 

Waking the dead, II. 76. 

Wall shaking, I. 223. 

Warden deities, I. 84. 

Warren Hastings, ghost of, II. 82. 

Warts charming of, I. 15. 

Wa^hrnnan, ghost of, I. 133 ; omens 

from, II. 50. 
Watching the corpse, II. 76. 
Water, bui^ing of, I. 78 ; demons, I. 

42; of t' e Ganges, I. 37; god, I. 

47 ; holes, danger of looking into, I. 

43 ; horse, I. 44 ; a protective, II. 

25 ; of wells curing disease, I. 50. 
WaterfeUs, I, 53. 
Waving rite, the, I. 239 ; II. 23. 
WayJand Smith, I 280. 
Weapon fetishes, II. 185. 

Wearing the Rose, II. 294. 

Weasel, omens from, II. 48. 

Weather, demoniacal control o^ I. 67. 

Weddings, godling of, I. 119, 139. 

Well, otdeath, II. 215 ; digging o^, I. 
48 ; folk-lore of, I. 48 ; connected 
with the Ganges, I. 51 ; discovery by 
goats, I. 51 ; <^life, I. 47 ; magic, I. 
210 ; marriage of, I. 49 ; connected 
with rainfall, I. 52 ; oniens from, I. 
53 ; worship of, I. 11, 51. 

Werewolf, the, II. 211, 281. 

Whiripools, the haunt of demons, I. 43. 

Whirlwind, the, I. 78, 80 sqq. ; god- 
ling of, I. 88, 267. 

White, a protective colour, II. 28. 

Whooping cough, charm to cure, I. 
164 ; II. 207. 

Whuppity Stoorie, II. 5. 

Wild dogs, II. 223. 

Wild huntsman, the, I. 261. 

Will-o'-the-Wisp, I. 261 ; II. 197. 

Wind enclosed in a sack, I. 67, 

Winnowing, II. 308 : basket fetish, II. 

Witch, the, II. 259 ; charm against, I. 
150 ; extracting parts of the body, II. 
268 ; in folk-lore, II. 263 ; haunts 
of, II. 283 ; ordeals, II. 271 ; pun- 
ishment of, II. 280 ; seasons, II. 266; 
causing cholera, I. 143 ; or tempests, 

I. 80 : tests of, II. 272 ; as tigers, II. 

Witchcraft, by mesms of images, II. 

278 ; instruction in, II. 264. 
Wolf, children, II. 153 ; omens from, 

II. 49; totemism, II. 153 ; prejudice 
against killing, I. 75. 

Woli, a hail charmer, I. 8a 

Women, exposed to BhOts, I. 235 ; ex- 
cluded from worship, I. 33; II. 257 ; 
loved by Bhdts, I. 238 ; rites con- 
fined to, I. 69, 92, 204 ; saint of, I. 

WoTider- working tombs, I. 225« 

Woodpecker, the, II. 250. 

Wool used in a charm, I. 163 ; II. 45. 

W- rm, charm to remove, I. 160. 

Worthies, worship of, I. 183. 

Wren hunting, I. 172. 

Wrestlers, worship of Hanumlin, I. 87 ; 
of Sakhi Sarwar, I. 210. 

Wulpurgis night, I. 64. 


Yadava, tribe, fetish worship, II. 180. 
Yaksha, the, I. 60, 94 ; II. 79. 



Yama, the god of death, I. 33, 36, 98, 

233 ; II* 156; dogs of, II. 222. 
Yamuna, worship of, I. 36. 
Yantra, the, II. 38. 
Yard measure, a fetish, II. 186. 
Yatudhanas, the, II. 205. 
Yawning, I, 240. 
Year, burning the, II. 314. 
Yech, the, II. 80. 

Yellow, a protective colour, II. 28. 
Yggdrassil, a sacred tree, II. 85, 104. 
Yoginis, worship of the, I. 94, 128. 
Young men attacked by the Rikshasi, 

I. 253. 
Youthful deities, I. 207. 
Yudishthira, legend of, II. 218. 

Yule loir, the, II. 197.; 

Yiipa, the sacrificial post, II. 107, iii. 

ZaHIR DtWAN "> worship o^ I. 211, 
Zahir Plr > 222. 

Zain Kh&n, a Jinn, I. 216. 
Zalgur, the horse, I. 44. 
Zamtndir, a title of Bh{lmiya, I. 105. 
Zinda Shdh Madir. a saint, 216. 
Zodiac, signs of the, I. 24. 
Zu*-1-Qarnain, a title of Alexander of 
Macedon, I. 48. 




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Susan, Countess of Malmes- 


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Now complete in Six Volumes. Cloth in box, gj. net 

Edited by KATE M. WARREN 

Foolscap 8vo, \s. 6d. net each volume. 

Also Art Canvas gilt extra, with Photogravure Frontispiece, 

2s. 6d, net per Volume ; complete in case, i$s. net 

" The text of the present issue, which has been prepared with great 
care, is based on that of the editions of 1590 and 1596. Each volume is 
provided with an admirable glossary, and with notes, containing all that 
is necessary for an understanding of the text. The introductions are 
ably written, and show much critical power." — Spectator^ 




Crown 8vo, 6^. 

" No more agreeable picture of a clergyman has been 
drawn since * The Vicar of Wakefield/ No more sympathetic 
or humorous treatment of a provincial society has been pub- 
lished since * Cranford.' It is only the form of these two 
books which suggests comparison, for * Sunningwell ' stands 
by itself and owes nothing to any one model." — Speaker, 

" This IS a scholarly, well- written, and interesting book, 
not without a good deal both of humour and of pathos." — 
Manchester Guardian, 

"There can be little doubt that the author presents a 
truthful picture of the ecclesiastical life of the last generation ; 
the work is one, moreover, that in an age of hurried book- 
making deserves recognition by reason of its thoughtful and 
scholarly character." — Morning Post 

" * Sunningwell ' is a book into the making of which much 
shrewd and humorous observation and much cultured and 
vigorous thought have gone, and it is a book worth reading — 
even worth buying." — Scotsman, 

" The views put forward throughout the volume, whether 

or not the writer's own, are always worth considering, even 

when we dissent from them — certainly they cannot be lightly 

put aside. And the book is excellent reading, for it is full of 

vigorous and weighty sayings and full of humour too." — 



The Taming of the Jungle 

The Cover specially designed by J. T. Nettleship. 

" ' The Taming of the Jungle ' is one of the most striking books 
of Indian life that we have seen since Mr. Kipling produced his 
* Plain Tales from the Hills/ and it does not suffer by comparison 
with the work that made Mr. Kipling famous. Indeed, if Dr. 
Doyle had been first in the field, we venture to think that Mr. 
Kipling's work would have been adjudged less good than this later 
effort."— Literature, 

" One needs no previous knowledge of this folk of the Terai, 
away there under the Himalayas, to appreciate the insight and 
observation which characterise every stroke of the charming sketches. 
It would be altogether unfair to say that the author owes his inspira- 
tion to Mr. Kipling. He speaks from long and close experience \ 
and, what is better still, his note is his own. ... In a brilliant 
illustration by Mr. Nettleship, full of fire and movement, the beasts 
of the jungle are seen careering across the back of the book. The 
covers, in fact, have been drawn as well as any huntsman could do 
\\.:'— Punch, 

" The book reflects the romance of the jungle and the thoughts 
and customs of an uncultured race, endowed with many admirable 
characteristics and some of the qualities of barbarism, in a manner 
that deserves appreciative recognition. The author has evidently 
lived among the people and closely studied their ways, so that, while 
the picture that he presents is engaging, it also conveys a sense of 
verisimilitude." — Morning Post, 

" I am impelled to say a word in warm praise of the extremely 

pleasant little book of Indian stories, without caring a fig for the 

purely academic question as to whether they would have been put 

forth exactly as they stand had Mr. Kipling never lived. Dr. 

Doyle knows the folk of the Terai intimately ; he has the power of 

spinning a good story out of the good stuff with which his memory 

is stored."— T. P. O'Connor, in M, A, P, 


.s- < 

Janice Meredith 

A Story of the American Revolution 


Crown 8vo, 6s. 

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historical than for its literary merit, will considerably add to his reputa- 
tion."— 7:^ Daily News. 

" The story is an excellent and carefully executed romance of love and 
war." — Spectator. 

" Janice and her girl friends are delightful." — Literature. 

" Mr. Ford has the right feeling for romance ; he knows how to bring 
his reader into the thick of the excitement and give him the right thrill of 
personal participation in the struggle, and he keeps his grip on the 
reader's attention through a long and interesting book." — The Speaker. 


The Story of an Untold Love 

Crown 8vo, 6j. 

" You must by all means read 'The Story of an Untold Love.'" — 

** The book may be commended to readers of all classes and tastes." 
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Tattle Tales of Cupid 

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" A very attractive and highly entertaining book by the clever author 
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Crown 8vo, 6x. 
" In seeking a parallel to this weird, powerful and horriWe story, our 
minds revert to such tales as *The Mysteries of Adolpho,' 'Frankenstein,' 
* Wuthering Heights,' * The Fall of th^ House of Usher,' and ' Marjery of 
Quelher.' But * Dracula' is even more appalling in its gloomy fascination 
than any one of these." — Daily Mail. 

" It is horrid and creepy to the last degree. It is also excellent, and 
one of the best things in the supernatural line that we have been lucky 
enough to hit upon." — Pall Mall Gazette. 



The Dominion of Dreams 

Fourth Edition. Crown 8vo, 6s. 

" For the gifts of Miss Fiona Macleod, it is impossible to use the common words of 
gratitude. To people who live in a paved city, or a half-paved suburb, dimly con- 
scious of sky, and aware of the voice of the wind only when a gale sings in the telegraph 
wires, her writings are as the water of life. We know not, neither do we care, whether 
Fiona Macleod be man, woman, or spirit, though we suppose her treasure is hidden in 
an earthen vessel. Enough for us that she hears, as only poets hear, the old authentic 
voices of the vf orld."— Daily Chronicle, 

"Of the extreme beauty and subtlety of Miss Fiona Macleod's writing there is no 
need now to speak. She has caught the habit of the true Gael, who sees an idea in a 
picture, and expresses a thought in a metaphor." — Literature, 

Green Fire 

A Story of the Western Islands. 
Crown 8vo, 6.r. 

"There are few in whose hands the pure threads have been so skilfully and deli- 
cately woven as they have in Fiona Macleod's." — Pall Mall Gazette. 

"The fuller revelation which we looked for from Miss Fiona Macleod's earlier 
works has been amply fulfilled in this volume." — Western Mail, 

The Laughter of Peterkin 

A Re-telling of Old Stories of the Celtic Wonder-world. 

Illustrated by Sunderland Rollinson. 

Crown 8vo, 6s, 

"The writing is full of beauty and passion." — St. James's Gazette. 
"To no more skilful hands than those of Fiona Macleod could the re-telling of 
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By Order of the Company 

Crown 8vo, 6s, 

•* Miss Mary Johnston's former novel prepared the reader to welcome her name on 
a title-page, and ' By Order of the Company ' will not disappoint such expectations, 
for it is quite as good reading as ' The Old Dominion. ' The pictiu-e of the very 
earliest days of Virginia is excellently painted, and the personages of the story are 
sympathetic and interesting." — Spectator. 

* ' * By Order of the Company ' is fascinating ; as a picture of Virginian life about 
the year 1621, it is fully as good. And as a record of the deeds of brave men, and 
one lady who was passing fair, it is worth a dozen of the novels that are turned out by 
the type-writers and phonographs of those writers known above everything else as 
•popular."' — Black and White. 

The Old Dominion 

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"We have had of late an abundance of romance, but not better than this. The 
heroine is adorable. The whole book is a masterpiece of romance." — British Weekly. 

" It is an exciting narrative of a perilous ad*renture, and of a hate that was con- 
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and the interest is sustained to the end." — Punch. 


Caleb West 


(Author of " Tom Grogan," etc.) 

Second Edition, Crown 8vo, 6s, 

'*It is a long time since we have met with so satisfactory a book as 
* Caleb West.' Readers must go to the book for themselves, and enjoy its 
pathos, its humour, its rich character-drawing, and its thrilling adventures, as 
we must confess that we have done." — Speaker, 

" The reader will find enough of all sorts to hold his interest to the end, 
Mr. Hopkinson Smith writes well and carefully, and often charms us with 
literary workmanship of a really high order." — Westminster Gazette, 

'* Mr. F. Hopkinson Smith is to be congratulated on having written a really 
fine novel, which is full of admirable character. " — Daily Telegraph, 


Crown 8vo, 6j. 

** There is good food for thought as well as a right good story in Mr. 
Macllwaine's record of * Dinkinbar.* " — Daily Chronicle, 

** Have been much interested in a book constructed on very unconventional 
lines, entitled * Dinkinbar,' by Herbert Macllwaine. I have read a great many 
stories of bush life, but none that seemed to present it with such vivid natural- 
ness. "■— Weekly Sun, 

**Mr. Herbert Macllwaine's name is new to us, but in ♦ Dinkinbar* he has 
written the best story of Australian bush life we ever came across." — Standard, 


Fate the Fiddler 

Crown 8vo, 6s, 

In the Shadow of the Crown 


With an Introduction by Maurice Hewlett 

Second Edition. Crown 8vo. 6s, 

" Remembering that as a rule historical novels are somewhat dull, and that 
therefore the reading public is inclined to neglect them, we repeat with added 
emphasis that in our opinion Mr. Bidder's contribution to this kind of literature 
deserves a large audience and close attention." — Litei-ary World, 

** A very brightly written and coherent story," — Daily Telegraph, 

*♦ The author, while giving free play to a picturesque imagination, has succeeded 
in imparting an air of reality to everything, the romantic atmosphere blending 
with the truths of history." — Scotsman. 

" *In the Shadow of the Crown* is a remarkable book, and one of great 
promise." — Pall Mall Gazette, 


English Contemporary Art 

Translated from the French of Robert de la Sizeranne 

With numerous Illustrations after Lord Leighton, P.R.A., Sir 

John Millais, P.R.A., G. F. Watts, R.A., Sir E. 

BuRNE-JoNES, Prof. Herkomer, R.A., etc. 

Demy 8vo, 12s, 

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Ma// Gazette, 


A Series of Portraits of Distinguished Men and Women of the day, 
reproduced from Original Drawings. 


£2 2s. net. 

"One of the most artistic and spirited of modern collections of portraits of 
our contemporaries is the handsome folio published by Messrs. A. Constable 
& Co., and entitled * Portraits of Men and Women,^ by the Marchioness of 
Granby. " — Athenaum, 

National Worthies 

A Selection from the National Portrait Gallery. 

With Biographical Notes. 

About 150 Illustrations. Crown 4to. £,2 2s. net. 

Only 750 copies printed, of which 260 have 

been reserved for America. 

The binding of this Volume in full leather is reproduced in facsimile from 
an example by Roger Payne, now exhibited in the King's Library at the British 
Museum. The publishers are indebted to Mr. Cyril Davenport, F.S.A., for 
advice and assistance in the reproduction of this beautiful example of the cele- 
brated eighteenth-century English craftsman. 

To Messrs. A. Constable & Co. has come the happy thought of issuing in 
a volume entitled * National Worthies * reproductions of 154 of the pictures in 
the National Portrait Gallery. A fine paper has been used, and the portraits, 
for the most part, come out remarkably well. They have been judiciously 
selected. They are followed by notes on each, consisting of concise biographical 
sketches, with suitable quoted comments on each." — TAe Globe. 

Ornament in European Silks 


With One Hundred and Sixty-nine Illustrations. 

Crown 4to. Bound in half vellum, gilt. 32X. net. 


The Romance of our Ancient 


With nearly 200 Illustrations by Alexander Ansted. 

Crown 8vo, 6s. 

"A very interesting book, carefully put together from the best authorities, 
and excellently illustrated. The successive styles of architecture, the chief fea- 
tures of the church, and the peculiarities found in individual buildings — these and 
other things, more varied and numerous than we can describe here, are dealt 
with. . . . May be confidently recommended." — Spectator, 

London City Churches 


With numerous Illustrations by Leonard Martin, and a Map. 

Imperial i6mo, 6j. Second Edition, with a Map. 

** The illustrations to this book*are good, and it deserves to be widely read.'* 
— Morning Post. * *«*<|| 

** The author of this book knows the Citv churches one and all, and has 
studied their monuments and archives with the patient reverence of the true 
antiquarian, and, armed with the pen instead of the chisel, he has done his best 
to give permanent record to their claims on the nation as well as on the man 
in the street." — Leeds Mercury, 

Uniform with the above. 

London Riverside Churches 


Illustrated by Alexander Ansted. 

Imperial i6mo, ds. 

Leaves fromjthe Golden Legend 

Chosen by H. D. MADGE, LL.M. 

With numerous Illustrations by H. M. Watts. 

Post 8vo, half linen, gilt top, 3^. 6d, net. 

**Oneof the prettiest of current publications is 'Leaves from the Golden 

Legend,* a small volume which is a miracle of good taste in the matters of 

type, paper, illustrations and binding." — Globe, 

Human Immortality 

Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. 
Fourth Edition. i6mo, 2s. 6d, 
** Professor James is well known as one of the most suggestive and original 
writers, and as certainly the most brilliant psychologist living. Whatever, there- 
fore, he has to say on this subject is worth listening to ; for he thinks freely, and 
he knows all that the scientist knows, and more too." — Spectator, 




Nev uniform Edition. 

Crown 8vo, bound in red cloth. 

With a Frontispiece in photogravure to each Volume after 

Frederick Sandys, Leslie Brooke, William Hyde, 

Rob Sauber, Bernard Partridge, and others. 

6s. each. 
















The Tale of Chloe — The House on the 
Beach— Farina — The Case of General Ople 
AND Lady Camper. 

POEMS. 2 Volumes. 

Uniform with the above, without Frontispiece, 

An Essay on Comedy 
and the Use of the Comic Spirit 

BHtle^£i- Tanner, The Set-wood Printing Works, Frome and London. 



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