Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official
by William Sleeman
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19     Next Part
Home - Random Browse







Transcriber's Note

In producing this e-text the numerous notes have been moved to the end of their respective chapters and renumbered. The printed 'Additions and Corrections' have been included in the relevant text.

In the printed edition the spelling of certain words is not always consistent. This is especially true of the use of diacritical marks on certain words, even within a single page. This e-text attempts to reproduce the spellings exactly as used in the printed edition.

The use of italics is shown as italics.



Were any one to ask your countrymen in India what has been their greatest source of pleasure while there, perhaps nine in ten would say, the letters which they receive from their sisters at home. These, of all things, perhaps, tend most to link our affections with home by filling the landscapes, so dear to our recollections, with ever varying groups of the family circles, among whom our infancy and our boyhood have been passed; and among whom we still hope to spend the winter of our days.

They have a very happy facility in making us familiar with the new additions made from time to time to the dramatis personae of these scenes after we quit them, in the character of husbands, wives, children, or friends; and, while thus contributing so much to our happiness, they no doubt tend to make us better citizens of the world, and servants of government, than we should otherwise be, for, in our 'struggles through life in India', we have all, more or less, an eye to the approbation of those circles which our kind sisters represent—who may, therefore, be considered in the exalted light of a valuable species of unpaid magistracy to the Government of India.

No brother has ever had a kinder or better correspondent than I have had in you, my dear sister; and it was the consciousness of having left many of your valued letters unanswered, in the press of official duties, that made me first think of devoting a part of my leisure to you in these Rambles and Recollections, while on my way from the banks of the Nerbudda river to the Himalaya mountains, in search of health, in the end of 1835 and beginning of 1836. To what I wrote during that journey I have now added a few notes, observations, and conversations with natives, on the subjects which my narrative seemed to embrace; and the whole will, I hope, interest and amuse you and the other members of our family; and appear, perchance, not altogether uninteresting or uninstructive to those who are strangers to us both.

Of one thing I must beg you to be assured, that I have nowhere indulged in fiction, either in the narrative, the recollections, or the conversations. What I relate on the testimony of others I believe to be true; and what I relate upon my own you may rely upon as being so. Had I chosen to write a work of fiction, I might possibly have made it a good deal more interesting; but I question whether it would have been so much valued by you, or so useful to others; and these are the objects I have had in view. The work may, perhaps, tend to make the people of India better understood by those of my own countrymen whose destinies are cast among them, and inspire more kindly feelings towards them. Those parts which, to the general reader, will seem dry and tedious, may be considered, by the Indian statesman, as the most useful and important.

The opportunities of observation, which varied employment has given me, have been such as fall to the lot of few; but, although I have endeavoured to make the most of them, the time of public servants is not their own; and that of few men has been more exclusively devoted to the service of their masters than mine. It may be, however, that the world, or that part of it which ventures to read these pages, will think that it had been better had I not been left even the little leisure that has been devoted to them.

Your ever affectionate brother,







CHAPTER 1 Annual Fairs held on the Banks of Sacred Streams in India

CHAPTER 2 Hindoo System of Religion

CHAPTER 3 Legend of the Nerbudda River

CHAPTER 4 A Suttee on the Nerbudda

CHAPTER 5 Marriages of Trees—The Tank and the Plantain—Meteors—Rainbows

CHAPTER 6 Hindoo Marriages

CHAPTER 7 The Purveyance System

CHAPTER 8 Religious Sects—Self-government of the Castes—Chimneysweepers— Washerwomen [1]—Elephant Drivers

CHAPTER 9 The Great Iconoclast—Troops routed by Hornets—The Rani of Garha—Hornets' Nests in India

CHAPTER 10 The Peasantry and the Land Settlement

CHAPTER 11 Witchcraft

CHAPTER 12 The Silver Tree, or 'Kalpa Briksha'—The 'Singhara', or Trapa bispinosa, and the Guinea-Worm

CHAPTER 13 Thugs and Poisoners

CHAPTER 14 Basaltic Cappings of the Sandstone Hills of Central India—Suspension Bridge—Prospects of the Nerbudda Valley—Deification of a Mortal

CHAPTER 15 Legend of the Sagar Lake—Paralysis from eating the Grain of the Lathyrus sativus

CHAPTER 16 Suttee Tombs—Insalubrity of deserted Fortresses

CHAPTER 17 Basaltic Cappings—Interview with a Native Chief—A Singular Character

CHAPTER 18 Birds' Nests—Sports of Boyhood

CHAPTER 19 Feeding Pilgrims—Marriage of a Stone with a Shrub

CHAPTER 20 The Men-Tigers

CHAPTER 21 Burning of Deori by a Freebooter—A Suttee

CHAPTER 22 Interview with the Raja who marries the Stone to the Shrub—Order of the Moon and the Fish

CHAPTER 23 The Raja of Orchha—Murder of his many Ministers

CHAPTER 24 Corn Dealers—Scarcities—Famines in India

CHAPTER 25 Epidemic Diseases—Scape-goat

CHAPTER 26 Artificial Lakes in Bundelkhand-Hindoo, Greek, and Roman Faith

CHAPTER 27 Blights

CHAPTER 28 Pestle-and-Mortar Sugar-Mills—Washing away of the Soil

CHAPTER 29 Interview with the Chiefs of Jhansi—Disputed Succession

CHAPTER 30 Haunted Villages

CHAPTER 31 Interview with the Raja of Datiya—Fiscal Errors of Statesmen— Thieves and Robbers by Profession

CHAPTER 32 Sporting at Datiya—Fidelity of Followers to their Chiefs in India— Law of Primogeniture wanting among Muhammadans

CHAPTER 33 'Bhumiawat'

CHAPTER 34 The Suicide-Relations between Parents and Children in India

CHAPTER 35 Gwalior Plain once the Bed of a Lake—Tameness of Peacocks

CHAPTER 36 Gwalior and its Government

CHAPTER 37 [2] Contest for Empire between the Sons of Shah Jahan

CHAPTER 38 [2] Aurangzeb and Murad Defeat their Father's Army near Ujain

CHAPTER 39 [2] Dara Marches in Person against his Brothers, and is Defeated

CHAPTER 40 [2] Dara Retreats towards Lahore—Is robbed by the Jats—Their Character

CHAPTER 41 [2] Shah Jahan Imprisoned by his Two Sons, Aurangzeb and Murad

CHAPTER 42 [2] Aurangzeb Throws off the Mask, Imprisons his Brother Murad, and Assumes the Government of the Empire

CHAPTER 43 [2] Aurangzeb Meets Shuja in Bengal, and Defeats him, after Pursuing Dara to the Hyphasis

CHAPTER 44 [2] Aurangzeb Imprisons his Eldest Son—Shuja and all his Family are Destroyed

CHAPTER 45 [2] Second Defeat and Death of Dara, and Imprisonment of his Two Sons

CHAPTER 46 [2] Death and Character of Amir Jumla

CHAPTER 47 Reflections on the Preceding History

CHAPTER 48 The Great Diamond of Kohinur

CHAPTER 49 Pindhari System—Character of the Maratha Administration—Cause of their Dislike to the Paramount Power

CHAPTER 50 Dholpur, Capital of the Jat Chiefs of Gohad—Consequence of Obstacles to the Prosecution of Robbers

CHAPTER 51 Influence of Electricity on Vegetation—Agra and its Buildings

CHAPTER 52 Nur Jahan, the Aunt of the Empress Nur Mahal,[3] over whose Remains the Taj is built

CHAPTER 53 Father Gregory's Notion of the Impediments to Conversion in India— Inability of Europeans to speak Eastern Languages

CHAPTER 54 Fathpur-Sikri—The Emperor Akbar's Pilgrimage—Birth of Jahangir

CHAPTER 55 Bharatpur—Dig—Want of Employment for the Military and the Educated Classes under the Company's Rule

CHAPTER 56 Govardhan, the Scene of Kriahna's Dalliance with the Milkmaids

CHAPTER 57 Veracity

CHAPTER 58 Declining Fertility of the Soil—Popular Notion of the Cause

CHAPTER 59 Concentration of Capital and its Effects

CHAPTER 60 Transit Duties in India—Mode of Collecting them

CHAPTER 61 Peasantry of India attached to no existing Government—Want of Trees in Upper India—Cause and Consequence—Wells and Groves

CHAPTER 62 Public Spirit of the Hindoos—Tree Cultivation and Suggestions for extending it

CHAPTER 63 Cities and Towns, formed by Public Establishments, disappear as Sovereigns and Governors change their Abodes

CHAPTER 64 Murder of Mr. Fraser, and Execution of the Nawab Shams-ud-din

CHAPTER 65 Marriage of a Jat Chief

CHAPTER 66 Collegiate Endowment of Muhammadan Tombs and Mosques

CHAPTER 67 The Old City of Delhi

CHAPTER 68 New Delhi, or Shahjahanabad

CHAPTER 69 Indian Police—Its Defects—and their Cause and Remedy

CHAPTER 70 Rent-free Tenures—Right of Government to Resume such Grants

CHAPTER 71 The Station of Meerut—'Atalis' who Dance and Sing gratuitously for the Benefit of the Poor

CHAPTER 72 Subdivisions of Lands—Want of Gradations of Rank—Taxes

CHAPTER 73 Meerut-Anglo-Indian Society

CHAPTER 74 Pilgrims of India

CHAPTER 75 The Begam Sumroo

CHAPTER 76 ON THE SPIRIT OF MILITARY DISCIPLINE IN THE NATIVE ARMY OF INDIA Abolition of Corporal Punishment—Increase of Pay with Length of Service—Promotion by Seniority

CHAPTER 77 Invalid Establishment

Appendix: Thuggee and the part taken in its Suppression by General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B., by Captain J. L. Sleeman Supplementary Note by the Editor Additions and Corrections



1. A blunder for 'Sweepers' and 'Washermen'

2. Chapters 37 to 46, inclusive, are not reprinted in this edition.

3. A mistake. See post, Chapter 52, note 1.


The Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official, always a costly book, has been scarce and difficult to procure for many years past. Among the crowd of books descriptive of Indian scenery, manners, and customs, the sterling merits of Sir William Sleeman's work have secured it pre-eminence, and kept it in constant demand, notwithstanding the lapse of nearly fifty years since its publication. The high reputation of this work does not rest upon its strictly literary qualities. The author was a busy man, immersed all his life in the practical affairs of administration, and too full of his subject to be careful of strict correctness of style or minute accuracy of expression. Yet, so great is the intrinsic value of his observations, and so attractive are the sincerity and sympathy with which he discusses a vast range of topics, that the reader refuses to be offended by slight formal defects in expression or arrangement, and willingly yields to the charm of the author's genial and unstudied conversation.

It would be difficult to name any other book so full of instruction for the young Anglo-Indian administrator. When this work was published in 1844 the author had had thirty-five years' varied experience of Indian life, and had accumulated and assimilated an immense store of knowledge concerning the history, manners, and modes of thought of the complex population of India. He thoroughly understood the peculiarities of the various native races, and the characteristics which distinguish them from the nations of Europe; while his sympathetic insight into Indian life had not orientalized him, nor had it ever for one moment caused him to forget his position and heritage as an Englishman. This attitude of sane and discriminating sympathy is the right attitude for the Englishman in India.

To enumerate the topics on which wise and profitable observations will be found in this book would be superfluous. The wine is good, and needs no bush. So much may be said that the book is one to interest that nondescript person, the general reader in Europe or America, as well as the Anglo-Indian official. Besides good advice and sound teaching on matters of policy and administration, it contains many charming, though inartificial, descriptions of scenery and customs, many ingenious speculations, and some capital stories. The ethnologist, the antiquary, the geologist, the soldier, and the missionary will all find in it something to suit their several tastes.

In this edition the numerous misprints of the original edition have been all, and, for the most part, silently corrected. The extremely erratic punctuation has been freely modified, and the spelling of Indian words and names has been systematized. Two paragraphs, misplaced in the original edition at the end of Chapter 48 of Volume I, have been removed, and inserted in their proper place at the end of Chapter 47; and the supplementary notes printed at the end of the second volume of the original edition have been brought up to the positions which they were intended to occupy. Chapters 37 to 46 of the first volume, describing the contest for empire between the sons of Shah Jahan, are in substance only a free version of Bernier's work entitled, The Late Revolution of the Empire of the Great Mogol. These chapters have not been reprinted because the history of that revolution can now be read much more satisfactorily in Mr. Constable's edition of Bernier's Travels. Except as above stated, the text of the present edition of the Rambles and Recollections is a faithful reprint of the Author's text.

In the spelling of names and other words of Oriental languages the Editor has 'endeavoured to strike a mean between popular usage and academic precision, preferring to incur the charge of looseness to that of pedantry'. Diacritical marks intended to distinguish between the various sibilants, dentals, nasals, and so forth, of the Arabic and Sanskrit alphabets, have been purposely omitted. Long vowels are marked by the sign ^. Except in a few familiar words, such as Nerbudda and Hindoo, which are spelled in the traditional manner, vowels are to be pronounced as in Italian, or as in the following English examples, namely: a, as in 'call'; e, or e, as the medial vowel in 'cake'; i, as in 'kill'; i, as the medial vowels in 'keel'; u, as in 'full'; u, as the medial vowels in 'fool'; o, or o, as in 'bone'; ai, or ai, as 'eye' or 'aye', respectively; and au, as the medial sound in 'fowl'. Short a, with stress, is pronounced like the u in 'but'; and if without stress, as an indistinct vowel, like the A in 'America'.

The Editor's notes, being designed merely to explain and illustrate the text, so as to render the book fully intelligible and helpful to readers of the present day, have been compressed into the narrowest possible limits. Even India changes, and observations and criticisms which were perfectly true when recorded can no longer be safely applied without explanation to the India of to-day. The Author's few notes are distinguished by his initials.

A copious analytical index has been compiled. The bibliography is as complete as careful inquiry could make it, but it is possible that some anonymous papers by the Author, published in periodicals, may have escaped notice.

The memoir of Sir William Sleeman is based on the slight sketch prefixed to the Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, supplemented by much additional matter derived from his published works and correspondence, as well as from his unpublished letters and other papers generously communicated by his only son, Captain Henry Sleeman. Ample materials exist for a full account of Sir William Sleeman's noble and interesting life, which well deserves to be recorded in detail; but the necessary limitations of these volumes preclude the Editor from making free use of the biographical matter at his command.

The reproduction of the twenty-four coloured plates of varying merit which enrich the original edition has not been considered desirable. The map shows clearly the route taken by the Author in the journey the description of which is the leading theme of the book.


My edition published by Archibald Constable and Company in 1893 being out of print but still in demand, Mr. Humphrey Milford, the present owner of the copyright, has requested me to revise the book and bring it up to date.

This new edition is issued uniform with Mr. Beauchamp's third edition of Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies by the Abbe J. A. Dubois (Oxford: at the Clarendon Press, 1906), a work bearing a strong resemblance in substance to the Rambles and Recollections, and, also like Sleeman's book in that it 'is as valuable to-day as ever it was—even more valuable in some respects'.

The labour of revision has proved to be far more onerous than was expected. In the course of twenty-one years the numerous changes which have occurred in India, not only in administrative arrangements, but of various other kinds, necessitate the emendation of notes which, although accurate when written, no longer agree with existing facts. The appearance of many new books and improved editions involves changes in a multitude of references. Such alterations are most considerable in the annotations dealing with the buildings at Agra, Sikandara, Fathpur-Sikri, and Delhi, and the connected political history, concerning which much new information is now available. Certain small misstatements of fact in my old notes have been put right. Some of those errors which escaped the notice of critics have been detected by me, and some have been rectified by the aid of criticisms received from Sir George Grierson, C.I.E., Mr. William Crooke, sometime President of the Folklore Society, and other kind correspondents, to all of whom I am grateful. Naturally, the opportunity has been taken to revise the wording throughout and to eliminate misprints and typographical defects. The Index has been recast so as to suit the changed paging and to include the new matter.

Captain James Lewis Sleeman of the Royal Sussex Regiment has been good enough to permit the reproduction of his grandfather's portrait, and has communicated papers which have enabled me to make corrections in and additions to the Memoir, largely enhancing the interest and value of that section of the book.


1. Certain small changes have been made.


The Sleemans, an ancient Cornish family, for several generations owned the estate of Pool Park in the parish of Saint Judy, in the county of Cornwall. Captain Philip Sleeman, who married Mary Spry, a member of a distinguished family in the same county, was stationed at Stratton, in Cornwall, on August 8, 1788, when his son William Henry was born.

In 1809, at the age of twenty-one, William Henry Sleeman was nominated, through the good offices of Lord De Dunstanville, to an Infantry Cadetship in the Bengal army. On the 24th of March, in the same year, he sailed from Gravesend in the ship Devonshire, and, having touched at Madeira and the Cape, reached India towards the close of the year. He arrived at the cantonment of Dinapore, near Patna, on the 20th December, and on Christmas Day began his military career as a cadet. He at once applied himself with exemplary diligence to the study of the Arabic and Persian languages, and of the religions and customs of India. Passing in due course through the ordinary early stages of military life, he was promoted to the rank of ensign on the 23rd September, 1810, and to that of lieutenant on the 16th December, 1814.

Lieutenant Sleeman served in the war with Nepal, which began in 1814 and terminated in 1816. During the campaign he narrowly escaped death from a violent epidemic fever, which nearly destroyed his regiment. 'Three hundred of my own regiment,' he observes, 'consisting of about seven hundred, were obliged to be sent to their homes on sick leave. The greater number of those who remained continued to suffer, and a great many died. Of about ten European officers present with my regiment, seven had the fever and five died of it, almost all in a state of delirium. I was myself one of the two who survived, and I was for many days delirious.[1]

The services of Lieutenant Sleeman during the war attracted attention, and accordingly, in 1816, he was selected to report on certain claims to prize-money. The report submitted by him in February, 1817, was accepted as 'able, impartial, and satisfactory'. After the termination of the war he served with his regiment at Allahabad, and in the neighbouring district of Partabgarh, where he laid the foundation of the intimate knowledge of Oudh affairs displayed in his later writings.

In 1820 he was selected for civil employ, and was appointed Junior Assistant to the Agent of the Governor-General, administering the Sagar and Nerbudda territories. Those territories, which had been annexed from the Marathas two years previously, are now included in the jurisdiction of the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces. In such a recently-conquered country, where the sale of all widows by auction for the benefit of the Treasury, and other strange customs still prevailed, the abilities of an able and zealous young officer had ample scope. Sleeman, after a brief apprenticeship, received, in 1822, the independent civil charge of the District of Narsinghpur, in the Nerbudda valley, and there, for more than two years, 'by far the most laborious of his life', his whole attention was engrossed in preventing and remedying the disorders of his District.

Sleeman, during the time that he was in charge of the Narsinghpur District, had no suspicion that it was a favourite resort of Thugs. A few years later, in or about 1830, he was astounded to learn that a gang of Thugs resided in the village of Kandeli, not four hundred yards from his court-house, and that the extensive groves of Mandesar on the Sagar road, only one stage distant from his head-quarters, concealed one of the greatest bhils, or places of murder, in all India. The arrest of Feringheea, one of the most influential Thug leaders, having given the key to the secret, his disclosures were followed up by Sleeman with consummate skill and untiring assiduity. In the years 1831 and 1832 the reports submitted by him and other officers at last opened the eyes of the superior authorities and forced them to recognize the fact that the murderous organization extended over every part of India. Adequate measures were then taken for the systematic suppression of the evil. 'Thuggee Sleeman' made it the main business of his life to hunt down the criminals and to extirpate their secret society. He recorded his experiences in the series of valuable publications described in the Bibliography. In this brief memoir it is impossible to narrate in detail the thrilling story of the suppression of Thuggee, and I must be content to pass on and give in bare outline the main facts of Sleeman's honourable career.[2]

While at Narsinghpur, Sleeman received on the 24th April, 1824, brevet rank as Captain. In 1825, he was transferred, and on the 23rd September of the following year, was gazetted Captain. In 1826, failure of health compelled him to take leave on medical certificate. In March, 1828, Captain Sleeman assumed civil and executive charge of the Jabalpur (Jubbulpore) District, from which he was transferred to Sagar in January, 1831. While stationed at Jabalpur, he married, on the 21st June, 1829, Amelie Josephine, the daughter of Count Blondin de Fontenne, a French nobleman, who, at the sacrifice of a considerable property, had managed to escape from the Revolution. A lady informs the editor that she remembers Sleeman's fine house at Jabalpur. It stood in a large walled park, stocked with spotted deer. Both house and park were destroyed when the railway was carried through the site.

Mr. C. Eraser, on return from leave in January, 1832, resumed charge of the revenue and civil duties of the Sagar district, leaving the magisterial duties to Captain Sleeman, who continued to discharge them till January, 1835. By the Resolution of Government dated 10th January, 1835, Captain Sleeman was directed to fix his head-quarters at Jabalpur, and was appointed General Superintendent of the operations for the Suppression of Thuggee, being relieved from every other charge. In 1835 his health again broke down, and he was obliged to take leave on medical certificate. Accompanied by his wife and little son, he went into camp in November, 1835, and marched through the Jabalpur, Damoh, and Sagar districts of the Agency, and then through the Native States of Orchha, Datiya, and Gwalior, arriving at Agra on the 1st January, 1836. After a brief halt at Agra, he proceeded through the Bharatpur State to Delhi and Meerut, and thence on leave to Simla. During his march from Jabalpur to Meerut he amused himself by keeping the journal which forms the basis of the Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official. The manuscript of this work (except the two supplementary chapters) was completed in 1839, though not given to the world till 1844. On the 1st of February, 1837, in the twenty-eighth year of his service, Sleeman was gazetted Major. During the same year he made a tour in the interior of the Himalayas, which he described at length in an unpublished journal. Later in the year he went down to Calcutta to see his boy started on the voyage home.

In February, 1839, he assumed charge of the office of Commissioner for the Suppression of Thuggee and Dacoity. Up to that date the office of Commissioner for the Suppression of Dacoity had been separate from that of General Superintendent of the measures for the Suppression of Thuggee, and had been filled by another officer, Mr. Hugh Eraser, of the Civil Service. During the next two years Sleeman passed much of his time in the North-Western Provinces, now the Agra Province in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, making Muradabad his head-quarters, and thoroughly investigating the secret criminal organizations of Upper India.

In 1841 he was offered the coveted and lucrative post of Resident at Lucknow, vacant by the resignation of Colonel Low; but that officer, immediately after his resignation, lost all his savings through the failure of his bankers, and Sleeman, moved by a generous impulse, wrote to Colonel Low, begging him to retain the appointment.

Sleeman was then deputed on special duty to Bundelkhand to investigate the grave disorders in that province. While at Jhansi in December, 1842, he narrowly escaped assassination by a dismissed Afghan sepoy, who poured the contents of a blunderbuss into a native officer in attendance.[3]

During the troubles with Sindhia which culminated in the battle of Maharajpur, fought on the 29th December, 1843, Sleeman, who had become a Lieut.-Colonel, was Resident at Gwalior, and was actually in Sindhia's camp when the battle unexpectedly began. In 1848 the Residency at Lucknow again fell vacant, and Lord Dalhousie, by a letter dated 16th September, offered Sleeman the appointment in the following terms:

The high reputation you have earned, your experience of civil administration, your knowledge of the people, and the qualifications you possess as a public man, have led me to submit your name to the Council of India as an officer to whom I could commit this important charge with entire confidence that its duties would be well performed. I do myself, therefore, the honour of proposing to you to accept the office of Resident at Lucknow, with especial reference to the great changes which, in all probability, will take place. Retaining your superintendency of Thuggee affairs, it will be manifestly necessary that you should be relieved from the duty of the trials of Thugs usually condemned at Lucknow. In the hope that you will not withhold from the Government your services in the capacity I have named, and in the further hope of finding an opportunity of personally making your acquaintance, I have the honour to be, Dear Colonel Sleeman, Very faithfully yours, DALHOUSIE.[4]

The remainder of Sleeman's official life, from January, 1849, was spent in Oudh, and was chiefly devoted to ceaseless and hopeless endeavours to reform the King's administration and relieve the sufferings of his grievously oppressed subjects. On the 1st of December, 1849, the Resident began his memorable three months' tour through Oudh, so vividly described in the special work devoted to the purpose. The awful revelations of the Journey through the Kingdom of Oude largely influenced the Court of Directors and the Imperial Government in forming their decision to annex the kingdom, although that decision was directly opposed to the advice of Sleeman, who consistently advocated reform of the administration, while deprecating annexation. His views are stated with absolute precision in a letter written in 1854 or 1855, and published in The Times in November, 1857:

We have no right to annex or confiscate Oude; but we have a right, under the treaty of 1837, to take the management of it, but not to appropriate its revenues to ourselves. We can do this with honour to our Government and benefit to the people. To confiscate would be dishonest and dishonourable. To annex would be to give the people a government almost as bad as their own, if we put our screw upon them (Journey, ed. 1858, vol. i, Intro., p. xxi).

The earnest efforts of the Resident to suppress crime and improve the administration of Oudh aroused the bitter resentment of a corrupt court and exposed his life to constant danger. Three deliberate attempts to assassinate him at Lucknow are recorded.

The first, in December, 1851, is described in detail in a letter of Sleeman's dated the 16th of that month, and less fully by General Hervey, in Some Records of Crime, vol. ii, p. 479. The Resident's life was saved by a gallant orderly named Tikaram, who was badly wounded. Inquiry proved that the crime was instigated by the King's moonshee.

The second attempt, on October 9, 1853, is fully narrated in an official letter to the Government of India (Bibliography, No. 15). Its failure may be reasonably ascribed to a special interposition of Providence. The Resident during all the years he had lived at Lucknow had been in the habit of sleeping in an upper chamber approached by a separate private staircase guarded by two sentries. On the night mentioned the sentries were drugged and two men stole up the stairs. They slashed at the bed with their swords, but found it empty, because on that one occasion General Sleeman had slept in another room.

The third attempt was not carried as far, and the exact date is not ascertainable, but the incident is well remembered by the family and occurred between 1853 and 1856. One day the Resident was crossing his study when, for some reason or another, he looked behind a curtain screening a recess. He then saw a man standing there with a large knife in his hand. General Sleeman, who was unarmed, challenged the man as being a Thug. He at once admitted that he was such, and under the spell of a master-spirit allowed himself to be disarmed without resistance. He had been employed at the Residency for some time, unsuspected.

Such personal risks produced no effect on the stout heart of Sleeman, who continued, unshaken and undismayed, his unselfish labours.

In 1854 the long strain of forty-five years' service broke down Sleeman's strong constitution. He tried to regain health by a visit to the hills, but this expedient proved ineffectual, and he was ordered home. On the 10th of February, 1856, while on his way home on board the Monarch, he died off Ceylon, at the age of sixty-seven, and was buried at sea, just six days after he had been granted the dignity of K.C.B.

Lord Dalhousie's desire to meet his trusted officer was never gratified. The following correspondence between the Governor-General and Sleeman, now published for the first time, is equally creditable to both parties:

BARRACKPORE PARK, January 9th, 1856. MY DEAR GENERAL SLEEMAN, I have heard to-day of your arrival in Calcutta, and have heard at the same time with sincere concern that you are still suffering in health. A desire to disturb you as little as possible induces me to have recourse to my pen, in order to convey to you a communication which I had hoped to be able to make in person. Some time since, when adjusting the details connected with my retirement from the Government of India, I solicited permission to recommend to Her Majesty's gracious consideration the names of some who seemed to me to be worthy of Her Majesty's favour. My request was moderate. I asked only to be allowed to submit the name of one officer from each Presidency. The name which is selected from the Bengal army was your own, and I ventured to express my hope that Her Majesty would be pleased to mark her sense of the long course of able, and honourable, and distinguished service through which you had passed, by conferring upon you the civil cross of a Knight Commander of the Bath. As yet no reply has been received to my letter. But as you have now arrived at the Presidency, I lose no time in making known to you what has been done; in the hope that you will receive it as a proof of the high estimation in which your services and character arc held, as well by myself as by the entire community of India. I beg to remain, My dear General, Very truly yours, DALHOUSIE.

Major-General Sleeman.

Reply to above. Dated 11th January, 1856.

MY LORD, I was yesterday evening favoured with your Lordship's most kind and flattering letter of the 9th instant from Barrackpore. I cannot adequately express how highly honoured I feel by the mention that you have been pleased to make of my services to Her Majesty the Queen, and how much gratified I am by this crowning act of kindness from your Lordship in addition to the many favours I have received at your hands during the last eight years; and whether it may, or may not, be my fate to live long enough to see the honourable rank actually conferred upon me, which you have been so considerate and generous as to ask for me, the letter now received from your Lordship will of itself be deemed by my family as a substantial honour, and it will so preserved, I trust, by my son, with feelings of honest pride, at the thought that his father had merited such a mark of distinction from so eminent a statesman as the Marquis of Dalhousie. My right hand is so crippled by rheumatism that I am obliged to make use of an amanuensis to write this letter, and my bodily strength is so much reduced, that I cannot hope before embarking for England to pay my personal respects to your Lordship. Under these unfortunate circumstances, I now beg to take my leave of your Lordship; to offer my unfeigned and anxious wishes for your Lordship's health and happiness, and with every sentiment of respect and gratitude, to subscribe myself,

Your Lordship's most faithful and Obedient servant, W. H. SLEEMAN, Major-General.

To the Most Noble The Marquis of Dalhousie, K.T., Governor-General, &c., &c., Calcutta.

Sir William Sleeman was an accomplished Oriental linguist, well versed in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, and also in possession of a good working knowledge of Latin, Greek, and French. His writings afford many proofs of his keen interest in the sciences of geology, agricultural chemistry, and political economy, and of his intelligent appreciation of the lessons taught by history. Nor was he insensible to the charms of art, especially those of poetry. His favourite authors among the poets seem to have been Shakespeare, Milton, Scott, Wordsworth, and Cowper. His knowledge of the customs and modes of thought of the natives of India, rarely equalled and never surpassed, was more than half the secret of his notable success as an administrator. The greatest achievement of his busy and unselfish life was the suppression of the system of organized murder known as Thuggee, and in the execution of that prolonged and onerous task he displayed the most delicate tact, the keenest sagacity, and the highest power of organization.

His own words are his best epitaph: 'I have gone on quietly,' he writes, '"through evil and through good report", doing, to the best of my ability, the duties which it has pleased the Government of India, from time to time, to confide to me in the manner which appeared to me most conformable to its wishes and its honour, satisfied and grateful for the trust and confidence which enabled me to do so much good for the people, and to secure so much of their attachment and gratitude to their rulers.' [5]

His grandson. Captain J. L. Sleeman, who, when stationed in India from 1903 to 1908, visited the scenes of his grandfather's labours, states that everywhere he found the memory of his respected ancestor revered, and was given the assurance that no Englishman had ever understood the native of India so well, or removed so many oppressive evils as General Sir W. H. Sleeman, and that his memory would endure for ever in the Empire to which he devoted his life's work.

This necessarily meagre account of a life which deserves more ample commemoration may be fitly closed by a few words concerning the relatives and descendants of Sir William Sleeman.

His sister and regular correspondent, to whom he dedicated the Rambles and Recollections, was married to Captain Furse, R.N.

His brother's son James came out to India in 1827, joined the 73rd Regiment of the Bengal Army, was selected for employment in the Political Department, and was thus enabled to give valuable aid in the campaign against Thuggee. In due course he was appointed to the office of General Superintendent of the Operations against Thuggee, which had been held by his uncle. He rose to the rank of Colonel, and after a long period of excellent service, lived to enjoy nearly thirty years of honourable retirement. He died at his residence near Ross in 1899 at the age of eighty-one.

In 1831 Sir William's only son, Henry Arthur, was gazetted to the 16th (Queen's) Lancers, and having retired early from the army, with the rank of Captain, died in 1905.

His elder son William Henry died while serving with the Mounted Infantry during the South African War. His younger son, James Lewis, a Captain in the Royal Sussex Regiment, who also saw active service during the war, and was mentioned in dispatches, has a distinguished African and Indian record, and recently received the honorary degree of M.A. from the Belfast University for good work done in establishing the first Officers' Training Corps in Ireland. The family of Captain James Lewis Sleeman consists of two sons and a daughter, namely, John Cuthbert, Richard Brian, and Ursula Mary. Captain Sleeman, as the head of his family, possesses the MSS. &c. of his distinguished grandfather. The two daughters of Sir William who survived their father married respectively Colonel Dunbar and Colonel Brooke.


1. Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, vol. ii, p. 105.

2. The general reader may consult with advantage Meadows Taylor, The Confessions of a Thug, the first edition of which appeared in 1839; and the vivid account by Mark Twain in More Tramps Abroad, chapters 49,50.

3. The incident is described in detail in a letter dated December 18, 1842, from Sleeman to his sister Mrs. Furse. Captain J. L. Sleeman has kindly furnished me with a copy of the letter, which is too long for reproduction in this place.

4. This letter is printed in full in the Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, pp. xvii-xix.

5. Letter to Lord Hardinge, dated Jhansee, 4th March, 1848, printed in Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, vol. i, p. xxvii.



(1.) 1819 Pamphlet. Letter addressed to Dr. Tytler, of Allahabad, by Lieut. W. H. Sleeman, August 20th, 1819. Copied from the Asiatic Mirror of September the 1st, 1819. [This letter describes a great pestilence at Lucknow in 1818, and discusses the theory that cholera may be caused by 'eating a certain kind of rice'.]

(2.) Calcutta, 1836, 1 vol. 8vo. Ramaseeana, or a Vocabulary of the Peculiar Language used by the Thugs, with an Introduction and Appendix descriptive of the Calcutta system pursued by that fraternity, and of the measures which have been adopted by the Supreme Government of India for its suppression.

Calcutta, G. H. Huttmann, Military Orphan Press, 1836. [No author's name on title-page, but most of the articles are signed by W. H. Sleeman.] Appendices A to Z, and A.2, contain correspondence and copious details of particular crimes, pp. 1-515. Total pages (v,+270+515) 790. A very roughly compiled and coarsely printed collection of valuable documents. [A copy in the Bodleian Library and two copies in the British Museum. One copy in India Office Library.]

(2a.) Philadelphia 1839, 1 vol. 8vo. The work described as follows in the printed Catalogue of Printed Books in the British Museum appears to be a pirated edition of Ramaseeana:

The Thugs or Phansigars of India: comprising a history of the rise and progress of that extraordinary fraternity of assassins; and a description of the system which it pursues, &c. Carey and Hart. Philadelphia, 1839. 8vo.

A Hindustani MS. in the India Office Library seems to be the original of the vocabulary and is valuable as a guide to the spelling of the words.

(3.) (?)1836 or 1837, Pamphlet. On the Admission of Documentary Evidence. Extract. [This reprint is an extract from Ramaseeana. The rules relating to the admission of evidence in criminal trials are discussed. 24 pages.]

(4.) 1837, Pamphlet. Copy of a Letter which appeared in the Calcutta Courier of the 29th March, 1837, under the signature of 'Hirtius', relative to the Intrigues of Jotha Ram. [This letter deals with the intrigues and disturbances in the Jaipur (Jyepoor) State in 1835, and the murder of Mr. Blake, the Assistant to the Resident. (See post, chap, 67, end.) The reprint is a pamphlet of sixteen pages. At the beginning reference is made to a previous letter by the author on the same subject, which had been inserted in the Calcutta Courier in November, 1836.]

(5.) Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. vi. (1837), p. 621. History of the Gurha Mundala Rajas, by Captain W. H. Sleeman. [An elaborate history of the Gond dynasty of Garha Mandla, 'which is believed to be founded principally on the chronicles of the Bajpai family, who were the hereditary prime ministers of the Gond princes.' (Central Provinces Gazetteer, 1870, p. 282, note.) The history is, therefore, subject to the doubts which necessarily attach to all Indian family traditions.]

(6.) W. H. Sleeman. Analysis and Review of the Peculiar Doctrines of the Ricardo or New School of Political Economy. 8vo, Serampore, 1837. [A copy is entered in the printed catalogue of the library of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.]

(7.) Calcutta (Serampore), 1839, 8vo. A REPORT on THE SYSTEM OF MEGPUNNAISM, or The Murder of Indigent Parents for their Young Children (who are sold as Slaves) as it prevails in the Delhi Territories, and the Native States of Rajpootana, Ulwar, and Bhurtpore. By Major W. H. Sleeman. —— From the Serampore Press. 1839. [Thin 8vo, pp. iv and 121. A very curious and valuable account of a little-known variety of Thuggee, which possibly may still be practised. Copies exist in the British Museum and India Office Libraries, but the Bodleian has not a copy.]

(8.) Calcutta, 1840, 8vo. REPORT ON THE DEPREDATIONS COMMITTED BY THE THUG GANGS of UPPER AND CENTRAL INDIA, From the Cold Season of 1836-7, down to their Gradual Suppression, under the operation of the measures adopted against them by the Supreme Government in the year 1839.

By Major Sleeman Commissioner for the Suppression of Thuggee and Dacoitee.

Calcutta: G. H. Huttmann, Bengal Military Orphan Press. 1840. [Thick 8vo, pp. lviii, 549 and xxvi. The information recorded is similar to that given in the earlier Ramaseeana volume. Pages xxv-lviii, by Captain N. Lowis, describe River Thuggee. Copies in the British Museum and India Office, but none in the Bodleian. This is the only work by Sleeman which has an alphabetical index.]

(9.) Calcutta 1841, 8vo. On the SPIRIT OF MILITARY DISCIPLINE in our NATIVE INDIAN ARMY.

By Major N.[sic] H. Sleeman, Bengal Native Infantry. 'Europaeque saccubuit Asia.' 'The misfortune of all history is, that while the motives of a few princes and leaders in their various projects of ambition are detailed with accuracy, the motives which crowd their standards with military followers are totally overlooked.'—Malthus. Calcutta: Bishop's College Press. M.DCCC.XLI. [Thin 8vo. Introduction, pp. i-xiii; On the Spirit of Military Discipline in the Native Army of India, pp. 1-59; page 60 blank; Invalid Establishment, pp. 61-84. The text of these two essays is reprinted as chapters 28 and 29 of vol. ii of Rambles and Recollections in the original edition, corresponding to Chapters 21 and 22 of the edition of 1893 and Chapters 76, 77 of this (1915) edition. Most of the observations in the Introduction are utilized in various places in that work. The author's remark in the Introduction to these essays—'They may never be published, but I cannot deny myself the gratification of printing them'—indicates that, though printed, they were never published in their separate form. The copy of the separately printed tract which I have seen is that in the India Office Library. Another is in the British Museum. The pamphlet is not in the Bodleian.]

(10.) 1841 Pamphlet. MAJOR SLEEMAN on the PUBLIC SPIRIT of THE HINDOOS. From the Transactions of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society, vol. 8. Art. XXII, Public Spirit among the Hindoo Race as indicated in the flourishing condition of the Jubbulpore District in former times, with a sketch of its present state: also on the great importance of attending to Tree Cultivation and suggestions for extending it. By Major Sleeman, late in charge of the Jubbulpore District.

[Read at the Meeting of the Society on the 8th September, 1841.]

[This reprint is a pamphlet of eight pages. The text was again reprinted verbatim as Chapter 14 of vol. 2 of the Rambles and Recollections in the original edition, corresponding to Chapter 7 of the edition of 1893, and Chapter 62 of this (1915) edition. No contributions by the author of later date than the above to any periodical have been traced. In a letter dated Lucknow, 12th January, 1853 (Journey, vol. 2, p. 390) the author says-'I was asked by Dr. Duff, the editor of the Calcutta Review, before he went home, to write some articles for that journal to expose the fallacies, and to counteract the influences of this [scil. annexationist] school; but I have for many years ceased to contribute to the periodical papers, and have felt bound by my position not to write for them.']

(11.) London, 1844, 2 vols. large 8vo. RAMBLES AND RECOLLECTIONS OF AN INDIAN OFFICIAL by Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Sleeman, of the Bengal Army. 'The proper study of mankind is man.'—POPE. In Two Volumes. London: J. Hatchard and Son, 187, Piccadilly. 1844. [Vol. I, pp. v and 478. Frontispiece, in colours, a portrait of 'The late Emperor of Delhi', namely, Akbar II. At end of volume, six full- page coloured plates, numbered 25-30, viz. No. 25, 'Plant'; No. 26, 'Plant'; No. 27, 'Plant'; No. 28, 'Ornament'; No. 29, 'Ornament'; No. 30, 'Ornaments'.

Vol. 2, pp. vii and 459. Frontispiece, in colours, comprising five miniatures; and Plates numbered 1-24, irregularly inserted, and with several misprints in the titles.

The three notes printed at the close of the second volume were brought up to their proper places in the edition of 1893, and are there retained in this (1915) edition. The following paragraph is prefixed to these notes in the original edition: 'In consequence of this work not having had the advantage of the author's superintendence while passing through the press, and of the manuscript having reached England in insulated portions, some errors and omissions have unavoidably taken place, a few of which the following notes are intended to rectify or supply.' The edition of 1844 has been scarce for many years,]

(11a.) Lahore 1888, 2 vols. in one 8vo. RAMBLES AND RECOLLECTIONS, &o. (Title as in edition of 1844.) Republished by A. C, Majumdar. Lahore: Printed at the Mufid-i-am Press. 1888. [Vol. 1, pp. xi and 351. Vol. 2, pp. v and 339. A very roughly executed reprint, containing many misprints. No illustrations. This reprint is seldom met with.]

(11b.) Westminster, 1893, 2 vols. in 8vo. RAMBLES AND RECOLLECTIONS, &c. A New Edition, edited by Vincent Arthur Smith, I.C.S.; being vol. 5 of Constable's Oriental Miscellany. The book is now scarce.

(12.) Calcutta, 1849. REPORT On BUDHUK Alias BAGREE DECOITS and other GANG ROBBERS BY HEREDITARY PROFESSION, and on The Measures adopted by the Government of India for their Suppression. By Lieut.-Col. W. H. Sleeman, Bengal Army. Calcutta: J. C. Sherriff, Bengal Military Orphan Press. 1849. [Folio, pp. iv and 433. Map. Printed on blue paper. A valuable work. In their Dispatch No. 27, dated 18th September, 1850, the Honourable Court of Directors observe that 'This Report is as important and interesting as that of the same able officer on the Thugs'. Copies exist in the British Museum and India Office Libraries, but there is none in the Bodleian. The work was first prepared for press in 1842 (Journey, vol. 1, p, xxvi).]

(13.) 1852, Plymouth, Pamphlet. AN ACCOUNT of WOLVES NURTURING CHILDREN IN THEIR DENS. By an Indian Official. Plymouth: Jenkin Thomas, Printer, 9, Cornwall Street. 1852. [Octavo pamphlet. 15 pages. The cases cited are also described in the Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, and are discussed in V. Ball, Jungle Life in India (De la Rue, 1880), pp. 454-66. The only copy known to me is that in possession of the author's grandson.]

(14.)Lucknow, 1852. Sir William Sleeman printed his Diary of a Journey through Oude privately at a press in the Residency. He had purchased a small press and type for the purpose of printing it at his own house, so that no one but himself and the compositor might see it. He intended, if he could find time, to give the history of the reigning family in a third volume, which was written, but has never been published. The title is: Diary of a Tour through Oude in December, 1849, and January and February, 1850.

By The Resident Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Sleeman. Printed at Lucknow in a Parlour Press. 1852.

Two vols. large 8vo. with wide margins. Printed well on good paper. Vol. 1 has map of Oude, 305 pp. text, and at end a printed slip of errata. Vol. 2 has 302 pp. text, with a similar slip of errata. The brief Preface contains the following statements: 'I have had the Diary printed at my own expense in a small parlour press which I purchased, with type, for the purpose. . . . The Diary must for the present be considered as an official document, which may be perused, but cannot be published wholly or in part without the sanction of Government previously obtained.' [1] Eighteen copies of the Diary were so printed and were coarsely bound by a local binder. Of these copies twelve were distributed as follows, one to each person or authority: Government, Calcutta; Court of Directors; Governor-General; Chairman of Court of Directors; Deputy Chairman; brother of author; five children of author, one each (5); Col. Sykes, Director E.I.C. A Memorandum of Errata was put up along with some of the copies distributed. (Private Correspondence, Journey, vol. 2, pp. 357, 393, under dates 4 April, 1852, and 12 Jan., 1853.) The Bodleian copy, purchased in June, 1891, was that belonging to Mrs, (Lady) Sleeman, and bears her signature 'A. J. Sleeman' on the fly-leaf of each volume. The book was handsomely bound in morocco or russia, with gilt edges, by Martin of Calcutta. The British Museum Catalogue does not include a copy of this issue. The India Office Library has a copy of vol. 1 only. Captain J. L. Sleeman has both volumes.

(15.) 1853, Pamphlet. Reprint of letter No. 34 of 1853 from the author to J, P. Grant, Esq., Officiating Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign Department, Fort William. Dated Lucknow Residency, 12th October, 1853. [Six pages. Describes another attempt to assassinate the author on the 9th October, 1853. See ante, p. xxvi.]

(16.) London 1858, 2 vols. 8vo. A Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, in 1849-50, by direction of the Right Hon. the Earl of Dalhousie, Governor-General. With Private Correspondence relative to the Annexation of Oude to British India, &c. By Major-General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B., Resident at the Court of Lucknow.

In two Volumes. London: Richard Bentley, Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty. 1858. [Small 8vo. Frontispiece of vol. 1 is a Map of the Kingdom of Oude. The contents of vol. 1 are: Title, preface, and contents, pp. i-x; Biographical Sketch of Major-General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B., pp. xi-xvi; Introduction, pp. xvii-xxii; Private Correspondence preceding the Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, pp. xxiii-lxxx; Diary of a Tour through Oude, chapters i-vi, pp. 1-337. The contents of vol. 2 are: Title and contents, pp. i-vi; Diary of a Tour through Oude, pp. 1-331; Private Correspondence relating to the Annexation of the Kingdom of Oude to British India, pp. 332-424. The letters printed in this volume were written between 5th Dec., 1849, and 11th Sept., 1854, during and after the Tour. The dates of the letters in the first volume extend from 20th Feb., 1848, to 11th Oct., 1849. The Tour began on 1st Dec., 1849, The book, though rather scarce, is to be found in most of the principal libraries, and may be obtained from time to time.]


(1.) 1809. Two books describing author's voyage to India round the Cape.

(2.) 1837. Journal of a Trip from Simla to Gurgoohee. [Referred to in unpublished letters dated 5th and 30th August, 1837.]

(3.) Circa1824. Preliminary Observations and Notes on Mr. Molony's Report on Narsinghpur. [Referred to in Central Provinces Gazetteer, Nagpur, 2nd ed., 1870, pp. xcix, cii, &c. The papers seem to be preserved in the record room at Narsinghpur.]

(4.) 1841. History of Byza Bae (Baiza Bai). [Not to be published till after author's death. See unpublished letter dated Jhansi, Oct. 22nd, 1841.]

(5.) History of the Reigning Family of Oude. [Intended to form a third volume of the Journey. See Author's Letter to Sir James Weir Hogg, Deputy Chairman, India House, dated Lucknow, 4th April, 1852; printed in Journey, vol. 2, p. 358.]

The manuscripts Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5, and the printed papers Nos. 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, and 15, are in the possession of Captain J, L. Sleeman, Royal Sussex Regiment, grandson of the author. The India Office Library possesses copies of the printed works Nos. 2, 7, 8, 9, 11a, 12, 14 (vol. 1 only) and 16.


1. The book was written in 1851, and the Directors' permission to publish was given in December, 1852. (Journey, ii, pp. 358, 393, ed. 1858. The Preface to that ed. wrongly indicates December, 1851, as the date of that permission.)


Edition 1844. Edition 1893. Edition 1915. Vol. 1, chap. 1-36 Vol. 1, chap. 1-36 Chap. 1-36 " " 37-46 " " 37-46 titles only " 37-46 titles only " " 47,48 " " 47,48 " 47,48 Vol. 2, " 1 " " 49 " 49 " " 2 " " 50 " 50 " " 3 " " 51 " 51 " " 4 " " 52 " 52 " " 5 " " 53 " 53 " " 6 " " 54 " 54 " " 7 " " 55 " 55 " " 8 Vol. 2 " 1 " 56 " " 9 " " 2 " 57 " " 10 " " 3 " 58 " " 11 " " 4 " 59 " " 12 " " 5 " 60 " " 13 " " 6 " 61 " " 14 " " 7 " 62 " " 15 " " 8 " 63 " " 16 " " 9 " 64 " " 17 " " 10 " 65 " " 18 " " 11 " 66 " " 19 " " 12 " 67 " " 20 " " 13 " 68 " " 21 " " 14 " 69 " " 22 " " 15 " 70 " " 23 " " 16 " 71 " " 24 " " 17 " 72 " " 25 " " 18 " 73 " " 26 " " 19 " 74 " " 27 " " 20 " 75 " " 28 " " 21 " 76 " " 29 " " 22 " 77


A.C. After Christ.

Ann. Rep. Annual Report.

A.S. Archaeological Survey.

A.S.R. Archaeological Survey Reports, by Sir Alexander Cunningham and his assistants; 23 vols. 8vo, Simla and Calcutta, 1871-87, with General Index (vol. xxiv, 1887) by V. A. Smith.

A.S.W.I. Archaeological Survey Reports, Western India.

Beale. T. W. Beale, Oriental Biographical Dictionary, ed. Keene, 1894.

C.P. Central Provinces.

E.& D. Sir H. M. Elliot and Professor J. Dowson, The History of India as told by its own Historians, Muhammadan Period; 8 vols. 8vo, London, 1867-77.

E.H.I. V. A. Smith, Early History of India, 3rd ed., Oxford, 1914.

Ep. Ind. Epigraphia Indica, Calcutta.

Fanshawe. H. C. Fanshawe, Delhi Past and Present, Murray, London, 1902.

H.F.A. V. A. Smith, A History of Fine Art in India and Ceylon, 4to, Oxford, 1911.

I.G. Imperial Gazetteer of India, Oxford, 1907, 1908.

Ind. Ant. Indian Antiquary, Bombay.

J.A.S.B. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta.

J.R.A.S. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London.

N.I.N.& Qu. North-Indian Notes and Queries, Allahabad, 1891-6

N.W.P. North-Western Provinces.

Z.D.M.G. Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenlaendischen Gesellschaft, Leipzig.


Annual Fairs held upon the Banks of Sacred Streams in India.

Before setting out on our journey towards the Himalaya we formed once more an agreeable party to visit the Marble Rocks of the Nerbudda at Bheraghat.[1] It was the end of Kartik,[2] when the Hindoos hold fairs on all their sacred streams at places consecrated by poetry or tradition as the scene of some divine work or manifestation. These fairs are at once festive and holy; every person who comes enjoying himself as much as he can, and at the same time seeking purification from all past transgressions by bathing and praying in the holy stream, and making laudable resolutions to be better for the future. The ceremonies last five days, and take place at the same time upon all the sacred rivers throughout India; and the greater part of the whole Hindoo population, from the summits of the Himalaya mountains to Cape Comorin, will, I believe, during these five days, be found congregated at these fairs. In sailing down the Ganges one may pass in the course of a day half a dozen such fairs, each with a multitude equal to the population of a large city, and rendered beautifully picturesque by the magnificence and variety of the tent equipages of the great and wealthy. The preserver of the universe (Bhagvan) Vishnu is supposed, on the 26th of Asarh, to descend to the world below (Patal) to defend Raja Bali from the attacks of Indra, to stay with him four months, and to come up again on the 26th Kartik.[3] During his absence almost all kinds of worship and festivities are suspended; and they recommence at these fairs, where people assemble to hail his resurrection.

Our tents were pitched upon a green sward on one bank of a small stream running into the Nerbudda close by, while the multitude occupied the other bank. At night all the tents and booths are illuminated, and the scene is hardly less animated by night than by day; but what strikes a European most is the entire absence of all tumult and disorder at such places. He not only sees no disturbance, but feels assured that there will be none; and leaves his wife and children in the midst of a crowd of a hundred thousand persons all strangers to them, and all speaking a language and following a religion different from theirs, while he goes off the whole day, hunting and shooting in the distant jungles, without the slightest feeling of apprehension for their safety or comfort. It is a singular fact, which I know to be true, that during the great mutiny of our native troops at Barrackpore in 1824, the chief leaders bound themselves by a solemn oath not to suffer any European lady or child to be injured or molested, happen what might to them in the collision with their officers and the Government. My friend Captain Reid, one of the general staff, used to allow his children, five in number, to go into the lines and play with the soldiers of the mutinous regiments up to the very day when the artillery opened upon them; and, of above thirty European ladies then at the station, not one thought of leaving the place till they heard the guns.[4] Mrs. Colonel Faithful, with her daughter and another young lady, who had both just arrived from England, went lately all the way from Calcutta to Ludiana on the banks of the Hyphasis, a distance of more than twelve hundred miles, in their palankeens with relays of bearers, and without even a servant to attend them.[5] They were travelling night and day for fourteen days without the slightest apprehension of injury or of insult. Cases of ladies travelling in the same manner by dak (stages) immediately after their arrival from England to all parts of the country occur every day, and I know of no instance of injury or insult sustained by them.[6] Does not this speak volumes for the character of our rule in India? Would men trust their wives and daughters in this manner unprotected among a people that disliked them and their rule? We have not a garrison, or walled cantonments, or fortified position of any kind for our residence from one end of our Eastern empire to the other, save at the three capitals of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay.[7] We know and feel that the people everywhere look up to and respect us, in spite of all our faults, and we like to let them know and feel that we have confidence in them.

Sir Thomas Munro has justly observed, 'I do not exactly know what is meant by civilizing the people of India. In the theory and practice of good government they may be deficient; but, if a good system of agriculture, if unrivalled manufactures, if the establishment of schools for reading and writing, if the general practice of kindness and hospitality, and, above all, if a scrupulous respect and delicacy towards the female sex are amongst the points that denote a civilized people; then the Hindoos are not inferior in civilization to the people of Europe'.[8]

Bishop Heber writes in the same favourable terms of the Hindoos in the narrative of his journey through India; and where shall we find a mind more capable of judging of the merits and demerits of a people than his?[9]

The concourse of people at this fair was, as usual, immense; but a great many who could not afford to provide tents for the accommodation of their families were driven away before their time by some heavy showers of, to them, unseasonable rains. On this and similar occasions the people bathe in the Nerbudda without the aid of priests, but a number of poor Brahmans attend at these festivals to receive charity, though not to assist at the ceremonies. Those who could afford it gave a trifle to these men as they came out of the sacred stream, but in no case was it demanded, or even solicited with any appearance of importunity, as it commonly is at fairs and holy places on the Ganges. The first day, the people bathe below the rapid over which the river falls after it emerges from its peaceful abode among the marble rocks; on the second day, just above this rapid; and on the third day, two miles further up at the cascade, when the whole body of the limpid stream of the Nerbudda, confined to a narrow channel of only a few yards wide, falls tumultuously down in a beautiful cascade into a deep chasm of marble rocks. This fall of their sacred stream the people call the 'Dhuandhar', or 'the smoky fall', from the thick vapour which is always seen rising from it in the morning. From below, the river glides quietly and imperceptibly for a mile and a half along a deep, and, according to popular belief, a fathomless channel of from ten to fifty yards wide, with snow-white marble rocks rising perpendicularly on either side from a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet high, and in some parts fearfully overhanging. Suspended in recesses of these white rocks are numerous large black nests of hornets ready to descend upon any unlucky wight who may venture to disturb their repose;[10] and, as the boats of the curious European visitors pass up and down to the sound of music, clouds of wild pigeons rise from each side, and seem sometimes to fill the air above them. Here, according to native legends, repose the Pandavas, the heroes of their great Homeric poem, the Mahabharata, whose names they have transferred to the valley of the Nerbudda. Every fantastic appearance of the rocks, caused by those great convulsions of nature which have so much disturbed the crust of the globe, or by the slow and silent working of the, waters, is attributed to the god-like power of those great heroes of Indian romance, and is associated with the recollection of scenes in which they are supposed to have figured.[11]

The strata of the Kaimur range of sandstone hills, which runs diagonally across the valley of the Nerbudda, are thrown up almost perpendicularly, in some places many hundred feet above the level of the plain, while in others for many miles together their tops are only visible above the surface. These are so many strings of the oxen which the arrows of Arjun, one of the five brothers, converted into stone; and many a stream which now waters the valley first sprang from the surface of the earth at the touch of his lance, as his troops wanted water. The image of the gods of a former day, which now lie scattered among the ruins of old cities, buried in the depth of the forest, are nothing less than the bodies of the kings of the earth turned into stone for their temerity in contending with these demigods in battle. Ponds among the rocks of the Nerbudda, where all the great fairs are held, still bear the names of the five brothers, who are the heroes of this great poem;[12] and they are every year visited by hundreds of thousands who implicitly believe that their waters once received upon their bosoms the wearied limbs of those whose names they bear. What is life without the charms of fiction, and without the leisure and recreations which these sacred imaginings tend to give to the great mass of those who have nothing but the labour of their hands to depend upon for their subsistence! Let no such fictions be believed, and the holidays and pastimes of the lower orders in every country would soon cease, for they have almost everywhere owed their origin and support to some religious dream which has commanded the faith and influenced the conduct of great masses of mankind, and prevented one man from presuming to work on the day that another wished to rest from his labours. The people were of opinion, they told me, that the Ganges, as a sacred stream, could last only sixty years more, when the Nerbudda would take its place. The waters of the Nerbudda are, they say already so much more sacred than those of the Ganges that to see them is sufficient to cleanse men from their sins, whereas the Ganges must be touched before it can have that effect.[13]

At the temple built on the top of a conical hill at Bheraghat, overlooking the river, is a statue of a bull carrying Siva, the god of destruction, and his wife Parvati seated behind him; they have both snakes in their hands, and Siva has a large one round his loins as a waistband. There are several demons in human shape lying prostrate under the belly of the bull, and the whole are well cut out of one large slab of hard basalt from a dyke in the marble rock beneath. They call the whole group 'Gauri Sankar', and I found in the fair, exposed for sale, a brass model of a similar one from Jeypore (Jaipur), but not so well shaped and proportioned. On noticing this we were told that 'such difference was to be expected, since the brass must have been made by man, whereas the "Gauri Sankar" of the temple above was a real Pakhan, or a conversion of living beings into stone by the gods;[14] they were therefore the exact resemblance of living beings, while the others could only be rude imitations'. 'Gauri', or the Fair, is the name of Parvati, or Devi, when she appears with her husband Siva. On such occasions she is always fair and beautiful. Sankar is another name of Siva, or Mahadeo, or Rudra. On looking into the temple at the statue, a lady expressed her surprise at the entireness as well as the excellence of the figures, while all round had been so much mutilated by the Muhammadans. 'They are quite a different thing from the others', said a respectable old landholder; 'they are a conversion of real flesh and blood into stone, and no human hands can either imitate or hurt them.' She smiled incredulously, while he looked very grave, and appealed to the whole crowd of spectators assembled, who all testified to the truth of what he had said; and added that 'at no distant day the figures would be all restored to life again, the deities would all come back without doubt and reanimate their old bodies again'.

All the people who come to bathe at the fair bring chaplets of yellow jasmine, and hang them as offerings round the necks of the god and his consort; and at the same time they make some small offerings of rice to each of the many images that stand within the same apartment, and also to those which, under a stone roof supported upon stone pillars, line the inside of the wall that surrounds the circular area, in the centre of which the temple stands. The images inside the temple are those of the three great gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, with their primaeval consorts;[15] but those that occupy the piazza outside are the representations of the consorts of the different incarnations of these three gods, and these consorts are themselves the incarnations of the primaeval wives, who followed their husbands in all their earthly ramblings. They have all the female form, and are about the size of ordinary women, and extremely well cut out of fine white and green sandstone; but their heads are those of the animals in which their respective husbands became incarnate, such as the lion, the elephant, &c., or those of the 'vahans', or animals on which they rode, such as the bull, the swan, the eagle, &c. But these, I presume, are mere capricios of the founder of the temple. The figures are sixty-four in number, all mounted upon their respective 'vahans', but have been sadly mutilated by the pious Muhammadans.[16]

The old 'Mahant', or high priest, told us that Mahadeo and his wife were in reality our Adam and Eve; 'they came here together', said he, 'on a visit to the mountain Kailas,[17] and being earnestly solicited to leave some memorial of their visit, got themselves turned into stone'. The popular belief is that some very holy man, who had been occupied on the top of this little conical hill, where the temple now stands, in austere devotions for some few thousand years, was at last honoured with a visit from Siva and his consort, who asked him what they could do for him. He begged them to wait till he should bring some flowers from the woods to make them a suitable offering. They promised to do so, and he ran down, plunged into the Nerbudda and drowned himself, in order that these august persons might for ever remain and do honour to his residence and his name. They, however, left only their 'mortal coil', but will one day return and resume it. I know not whether I am singular in the notion or not, but I think Mahadeo and his consort are really our Adam and Eve, and that the people have converted them into the god and goddess of destruction, from some vague idea of their original sin, which involved all their race in destruction. The snakes, which form the only dress of Mahadeo, would seem to confirm this notion.[18]


1. The Nerbudda (Narbada, or Narmada) river is the boundary between Hindustan, or Northern India, and the Deccan (Dakhin), or Southern India. The beautiful gorge of the Marble Rocks, near Jubbulpore (Jabalpur), is familiar to modern tourists (see I.G., 1908, s.v. 'Marble Rocks'). The remarkable antiquities at Bheraghat are described and illustrated in A.S.R., vol. ix, pp. 60-76, pl. xii- xvi. Additions and corrections to Cunningham's account will be found in A.S.W.I Progr. Rep., 1893-4, p. 5; and A.S. Ann. Rep., E. Circle, 1907-8, pp. 14-18.

2. The eighth month of the Hindoo luni-solar year, corresponding to part of October and part of November. In Northern India the year begins with the month Chait, in March. The most commonly used names of the months are: (1) Chait; (2) Baisakh; (3) Jeth; (4) Asarh; (5) Sawan; (6) Bhadon; (7) Kuar; (8) Kartik; (9) Aghan; (10) Pus; (II) Magh; and (12) Phalgun.

3. Bhagvan is often used as equivalent for the word God in its most general sense, but is specially applicable to the Deity as manifested in Vishnu the Preserver. Asarh corresponds to June-July, Patal is the Hindoo Hades. Raja Bali is a demon, and Indra is the lord of the heavens. The fairs take place at the time of full moon.

4. Barrackpore, fifteen miles north of Calcutta, is still a cantonment. The Governor General has a country house there. The mutiny of the native troops stationed there occurred on Nov. 1, 1824, and was due to the discontent caused by orders moving the 47th Native Infantry to Rangoon to take part in the Burmese War. The outbreak was promptly suppressed. Captain Pogson published a Memoir of the Mutiny at Barrackpore (8vo, Serampore, 1833).

5. Ludiana, the capital of the district of the same name, now under the Punjab Government. Hyphasis is the Greek name of the Bias river, one of the five rivers of the Punjab.

6. Railways have rendered almost obsolete the mode of travelling described in the text. In Northern India palankeens (palkis) are now seldom used, even by Indians, except for purposes of ceremony.

7. This statement is no longer quite accurate, though fortified positions are still very few.

8. The editor cannot find the exact passage quoted, but remarks to the same effect will be found in The Life of Sir Thomas Munro, by the Rev. G. R. Gleig, in two volumes, a new edition (London, 1831), vol. ii, p. 175.

9. Narrative of a Journey through the Upper Provinces of India, from Calcutta to Bombay, 1834-5, and a Journey to the Southern Provinces in 1826 (2nd edition, 3 vols. 8vo, London, 1828.)

10. The bees at the Marble Rocks are the Apis dorsata. An Englishman named Biddington, when trying to escape from them, was drowned, and they stung to death one of Captain Forsyth's baggage ponies (Balfour, Cyclopaedia of India, 3rd ed., 1885, s.v. Bee').

11. The vast epic poem, or collection of poems known as the Mahabharata, consists of over 100,000 Sanskrit verses. The main subject is the war between the five Pandavas, or sons of Pandu, and their cousins the Kauravas, sons of Dhritarashtra. Many poems of various origins and dates are interwoven with the main work. The best known of the episodes is that of Nala and Damayanti, which was well translated by Dean Milman, See Macdonell, A History of Sanskrit Literature (Heinemann, 1900).

12. The five Pandava brothers were Yudhishthira, Bhimia, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva, the children of Pandu, by his wives Kunti, or Pritha, and Madri.

13. 'The Narbada has its special admirers, who exalt it oven above the Ganges, . . . The sanctity of the Ganges will, they say, cease in 1895, whereas that of the Narbada will continue for ever' (Monier Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India, London, 1883, p. 348), See post, Chapter 27.

14. Sleeman wrote 'Py-Khan', a corrupt spelling of pakhan, the Sanskrit pashana or pasana, 'a stone'. The compound pashana-murti is commonly used in the sense of 'stone image'. The sibilant sh or s usually is pronounced as kh in Northern India (Grierson, J.R.A.S., 1903, p. 363).

15. Sarasvati, consort of Brahma; Devi (Parvati, Durga, &c.), consort of Siva; and Lakshmi, consort of Vishnu. All Hindoo deities have many names.

16. The author's explanation is partly erroneous. The temple, which is a very remarkable one, is dedicated to the sixty-four Joginis. Only five temples in India are known to be dedicated to these demons. For details see Cunningham, A.S.R., vol. ix, pp. 61-74, pl. xii- xvi; vol. ii, p. 416; and vol. xxi, p. 57. The word vahana means 'vehicle'. Each deity has his peculiar vehicle.

17. The heaven of Siva, as distinguished from Vaikuntha, the heaven of Vishnu. It is supposed to be somewhere in the Himalaya mountains. The wonderful excavated rock temple at Ellora is believed to be a model of Kailas.

18. This 'notion' of the author's is not likely to find acceptance at the present day.


Hindoo System of Religion.

The Hindoo system is this. A great divine spirit or essence, 'Brahma', pervades the whole universe; and the soul of every human being is a drop from this great ocean, to which, when it becomes perfectly purified, it is reunited. The reunion is the eternal beatitude to which all look forward with hope; and the soul of the Brahman is nearest to it. If he has been a good man, his soul becomes absorbed in the 'Brahma'; and, if a bad man, it goes to 'Narak', hell; and after the expiration of its period there of limited imprisonment, it returns to earth, and occupies the body of some other animal. It again advances by degrees to the body of the Brahman; and thence, when fitted for it, into the great 'Brahma'.[1]

From this great eternal essence emanate Brahma, the Creator, whose consort is Sarasvati;[2] Vishnu, the Preserver, whose consort is Lakshmi; and Siva, alias Mahadeo, the Destroyer, whose consort is Parvati. According to popular belief Jamraj (Yamaraja) is the judicial deity who has been appointed by the greater powers to pass the final judgement on the tenor of men's lives, according to proceedings drawn up by his secretary Chitragupta. If men's actions have been good, their souls are, as the next stage, advanced a step towards the great essence, Brahma; and, if bad, they are thrown back, and obliged to occupy the bodies of brutes or of people of inferior caste, as the balance against them may be great or small. There is an intermediate stage, a 'Narak', or hell, for bad men, and a 'Baikunth', or paradise, for the good, in which they find their felicity in serving that god of the three to which they have specially devoted themselves while on earth. But from this stage, after the period of their sentence is expired, men go back to their pilgrimage on earth again.

There are numerous Deos (Devas), or good spirits, of whom Indra is the chief; [3] and Daityas, or bad spirits; and there have also been a great number of incarnations from the three great gods, and their consorts, who have made their appearance upon the earth when required for particular purposes. All these incarnations are called 'Avatars', or descents. Vishnu has been eleven times on the globe in different shapes, and Siva seven times.[4] The avatars of Vishnu are celebrated in many popular poems, such as the Ramayana, or history of the Rape of Sita, the wife of Rama, the seventh incarnation;[5] the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavata [Purana], which describe the wars and amours of this god in his last human shape.[6] All these books are believed to have been written either by the hand or by the inspiration of the god himself thousands of years before the events they describe actually took place. 'It was', they say, 'as easy for the deity to write or dictate a battle, an amour, or any other important event ten thousand years before as the day after it took place'; and I believe nine-tenths, perhaps ninety-nine in a hundred, of the Hindoo population believe implicitly that these accounts were also written. It is now pretty clear that all these works are of comparatively recent date, that the great poem of the Mahabharata could not have been written before the year 786 of the Christian era, and was probably written so late as A.D. 1157; that Krishna, if born at all, must have been born on the 7th of August, A.D. 600, but was most likely a mere creation of the imagination to serve the purpose of the Brahmans of Ujain, in whom the fiction originated; that the other incarnations were invented about the same time, and for the same object, though the other persons described as incarnations were real princes, Parasu Rama, before Christ 1176, and Rama, born before Christ 961. In the Mahabharata Krishna is described as fighting in the same army with Yudhishthira and his four brothers. Yudhishthira was a real person, who ascended the throne at Delhi 575 B.C., or 1175 years before the birth of Krishna.[7] Bentley supposes that the incarnations, particularly that of Krishna, were invented by the Brahmans of Ujain with a view to check the progress of Christianity in that part of the world (see his historical view of the Hindoo astronomy). That we find in no history any account of the alarming progress of Christianity about the time these fables were written is no proof that Bentley was wrong.[8]

When Monsieur Thevenot was at Agra [in] 1666, the Christian population was roughly estimated at twenty-five thousand families. They had all passed away before it became one of our civil and military stations in the beginning of the present century, and we might search history in vain for any mention of them (see his Travels in India, Part III). One single prince, well disposed to give Christians encouragement and employment, might, in a few years, get the same number around his capital; and it is probable that the early Christians in India occasionally found such princes, and gave just cause of alarm to the Brahman priests, who were then in the infancy of their despotic power.[9]

During the war with Nepal, in 1814 and 1815,[10] the division with which I served came upon an extremely interesting colony of about two thousand Christian families at Betiya in the Tirhut District, on the borders of the Tarai forest. This colony had been created by one man, the Bishop, a Venetian by birth, under the protection of a small Hindoo prince, the Raja, of Betiya.[11] This holy man had been some fifty years among these people, with little or no support from Europe or from any other quarter. The only aid he got from the Raja was a pledge that no member of his Church should be subject to the Purveyance system, under which the people everywhere suffered so much,[12] and this pledge the Raja, though a Hindoo, had never suffered to be violated. There were men of all trades among them, and they formed one very large street remarkable for the superior style of its buildings and the sober industry of its inhabitants. The masons, carpenters, and blacksmiths of this little colony were working in our camp every day, while we remained in the vicinity, and better workmen I have never seen in India; but they would all insist upon going to divine service at the prescribed hours. They had built a splendid pucka[13] dwelling-house for their bishop, and a still more splendid church, and formed for him the finest garden I have seen in India, surrounded with a good wall, and provided with admirable pucka wells. The native Christian servants who attended at the old bishop's table, taught by himself, spoke Latin to him; but he was become very feeble, and spoke himself a mixture of Latin, Italian, his native tongue, and Hindustani. We used to have him at our messes, and take as much care of him as of an infant, for he was become almost as frail as one. The joy and the excitement of being once more among Europeans, and treated by them with so much reverence in the midst of his flock, were perhaps too much for him, for he sickened and died soon after.

The Raja died soon after him, and in all probability the flock has disappeared. No Europeans except a few indigo planters of the neighbourhood had ever before known or heard of this colony; and they seemed to consider them only as a set of great scoundrels, who had better carts and bullocks than anybody else in the country, which they refused to let out at the same rate as the others, and which they (the indigo lords) were not permitted to seize and employ at discretion. Roman Catholics have a greater facility in making converts in India than Protestants, from having so much more in their form of worship to win the affections through the medium of the imagination.[14]


1. Men are occasionally exempted from the necessity of becoming a Brahman first. Men of low caste, if they die at particular places, where it is the interest of the Brahmans to invite rich men to die, are promised absorption into the great 'Brahma' at once. Immense numbers of wealthy men go every year from the most distant parts of India to die at Benares, where they spend large sums of money among the Brahmans. It is by their means that this, the second city in India, is supported. [W. H. S.] Bombay is now the second city in India, so far as population is concerned.

2. Brahma, with the short vowel, is the eternal Essence or Spirit; Brahma, with the long vowel, is 'the primaeval male god, the first personal product of the purely spiritual Brahma, when overspread by Maya, or illusory creative force', according to the Vedanta system (Monier Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India, p. 44).

3. Indra was originally, in the Vedas, the Rain-god. The statement in the text refers to modern Hinduism.

4. The incarnations of Vishnu are ordinarily reckoned as ten, namely, (1) Fish, (2) Tortoise, (3) Boar, (4) Man-lion, (5) Dwarf, (6) Rama with the axe, (7) Rama Chandra, (8) Krishna, (9) Buddha, (10) Kalki, or Kalkin, who is yet to come. I do not know any authority for eleven incarnations of Vishnu. The number is stated in some Puranas as twenty-two, twenty-four, or even twenty-eight. Seven incarnations of Siva are not generally recognized (see Monier Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India, pp. 78-86, and 107-16). For the theory and mystical meaning of avatars, see Grierson, J.R.A.S., 1909, pp. 621-44. The word avatar means 'descent', scil. of the Deity to earth, and covers more than the term 'incarnation'.

5. Sita was an incarnation of Lakshmi. She became incarnate again, many centuries afterwards, as the wife of Krishna, another incarnation of Vishnu [W. H. S.]. Reckoning by centuries is, of course, inapplicable to pure myth. The author believed in Bentley's baseless chronology.

6. For the Mahabharata, see ante, note 11, Chapter 1. The Bhagavata Purana is the most popular of the Puranas, The Hindi version of the tenth book (skandha) is known as the 'Prem Sagar'. The date of the composition of the Puranas is uncertain.

7. The dates given in this passage are purely imaginary. Parts of the Mahabharata are very ancient. Yudhishthira is no more an historical personage than Achilles or Romulus. It is improbable that a 'throne of Delhi' existed in 575 B.C., and hardly anything is known about the state of India at that date.

8. It is hardly necessary to observe that this grotesque theory is utterly at variance with the facts, as now known.

9. The existing settlements of native Christians at Agra are mostly of modern origin. Very ancient Christian communities exist near Madras, and on the Malabar coast. The travels of Jean de Thevenot were published in 1684, under the title of Voyage, contenant la Relation de l'Indostan. The English version, by A. Lovell (London, 1687), is entitled The Travels of Monsieur de Thevenot into the Levant, in three Parts. Part III deals with the East Indies, The passage referred to is: 'Some affirm that there are twenty-five thousand Christian Families in Agra, but all do not agree in that' (Part III, p. 35). Thevonot's statement about the Christians of Agra is further discussed post in Chapter 52.

10. The war with Nepal began in October, 1814, and was not concluded till 1816. During its progress the British arms suffered several reverses.

11. The Betiya (Bettiah of I. G., 1908) Raj is a great estate with an area of 1,824 square miles in the northern part of the Champaran District of Bihar, in the Province of Bihar and Orissa. A great portion of the estate is held (1908) on permanent leases by European indigo-planters.

12. For discussion of this system see post, Chapter 7.

13. 'Pucka' (pakka) here means 'masonry', as opposed to 'Kutcha' (kachcha), meaning 'earthen'.

14. Native Christians, according to the census of 1872, number 1,214 persons, who are principally found in Bettia thana [police-circle]. There are two Missions, one at Bettia, and the other at the village of Chuhari, both supported by the Roman Catholic Church. The former was founded in 1746 by a certain Father Joseph, from Garingano in Italy, who went to Bettia on the invitation of the Maharaja. The present number of converts is about 1,000 persons. Being principally descendants of Brahmans, they hold a fair social position; but some of them are extremely poor. About one-fourth are carpenters, one- tenth blacksmiths, one-tenth servants, the remainder carters. The Chuhari Mission was founded in 1770 by three Catholic priests, who had been expelled from Nepal [after the Gorkha conquest in 1768]. There are now 283 converts, mostly descendants of Nepalis. They are all agriculturists, and very poor (Article 'Champaran District' in Statistical Account of Bengal, 1877).

The statement in I.G. 1908, s.v. Bettiah, differs slightly, as follows:

'A Roman Catholic Mission was established about 1740 by Father Joseph Mary, an Italian missionary of the Capuchin Order, who was passing near Bettiah on his way to Nepal, when he was summoned by Raja Dhruva Shah to attend his daughter, who was dangerously ill. He succeeded in curing her, and the grateful Raja invited him to stay at Bettiah and gave him a house and ninety acres of land.' The Bettiah Mission still exists and maintains the Catholic Mission Press, where publications illustrating the history of the Capuchin Missions have been printed. Father Felix, O.C., is at work on the subject.


Legend of the Nerbudda River.

The legend is that the Nerbudda, which flows west into the Gulf of Cambay, was wooed and won in the usual way by the Son river, which rises from the same tableland of Amarkantak, and flows east into the Ganges and Bay of Bengal.[1] All the previous ceremonies having been performed, the Son [2] came with 'due pomp and circumstance' to fetch his bride in the procession called the 'Barat', up to which time the bride and bridegroom are supposed never to have seen each other, unless perchance they have met in infancy. Her Majesty the Nerbudda became exceedingly impatient to know what sort of a personage her destinies were to be linked to, while his Majesty the Son advanced at a slow and stately pace. At last the Queen sent Johila, the daughter of the barber, to take a close view of him, and to return and make a faithful and particular report of his person. His Majesty was captivated with the little Johila, the barber's daughter, at first sight; and she, 'nothing loath', yielded to his caresses. Some say that she actually pretended to be Queen herself; and that his Majesty was no further in fault than in mistaking the humble handmaid for her noble mistress; but, be that as it may, her Majesty no sooner heard of the good understanding between them, than she rushed forward, and with one foot sent the Son rolling back to the east whence he came, and with the other kicked little Johila sprawling after him; for, said the high priest, who told us the story, 'You see what a towering passion she was likely to have been in under such indignities from the furious manner in which she cuts her way through the marble rocks beneath us, and casts huge masses right and left as she goes along, as if they were really so many coco-nuts'. 'And was she', asked I, 'to have flown eastward with him, or was he to have flown westward with her?' 'She was to have accompanied him eastward', said the high priest, 'but her Majesty, after this indignity, declared that she would not go a single pace in the same direction with such wretches, and would flow west, though all the other rivers in India might flow east; and west she flows accordingly, a virgin queen.' I asked some of the Hindoos about us why they called her 'Mother Nerbudda', if she was really never married. 'Her Majesty', said they with great respect, 'would really never consent to be married after the indignity she suffered from her affianced bridegroom the Son; and we call her Mother because she blesses us all, and we are anxious to accost her by the name which we consider to be at once the most respectful and endearing.'

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19     Next Part
Home - Random Browse