There is another kind of beggars called fakirs; they are just as wicked and foolish as the sunnyasees; but they are Mahomedans and not Brahmins.
ANIMALS.—Some of the fiercest and most disagreeable animals are highly honored in India.
The monkey is counted as a god; the consequence is, that the monkeys, finding they are treated with respect, grow very bold, and are continually scrambling upon the roofs of the houses. In one place there is a garden where monkeys riot about at their pleasure, for all in that garden is for them alone, the delicious fruits, the cool fountains, the shady bowers, all are for the worthless, mischievous monkeys.
But if it be strange for men to worship monkeys, is it not stranger still to worship snakes and serpents? Yet there is a temple in India where serpents crawl about at their pleasure, where they are waited upon by priests, and fed with fruits and every dainty. How much delighted must the old serpent be with this worship!
Kites also, those fierce birds, are worshipped. There is meat sold in shops on purpose for them; and it is bought and thrown up in the air to the great greedy creatures.
There are splendid peacocks flying about in the woods, but the Hindoos do not worship them; they shoot and eat them.
Of all the animals in India there is none which terrifies man so much as the tiger. The Bengal tiger is a fine and fierce beast. Woe to the man or woman on whom he springs! What then do you think must become of the man who falls into his den? These dens are generally hid in jungles, which are places covered with trees, and overgrown with shrubs and tall grass.
A gentleman was once walking through a jungle, when he felt himself sinking into the ground, while a cloud of dust blinded his eyes. Soon he heard a low growling noise. He fancied that he had sunk into a den, and so he had. Beside him lay some little tigers, too young indeed to hurt him; but these tigers had a mother, and she could not be far off, though she was not in the den when the stranger fell in. The astonished man felt there was no time to be lost, for the tigress, he knew, would soon return to her cubs. How could he prepare to meet her? He had neither gun nor sword, nor even stick in his hand. But a thought came into his head. Snatching a silk handkerchief from his neck, and taking another from his pocket, he bound them tightly round his arm up to his elbow; and thus prepared to meet his enemy. She soon appeared, crouching on the ground, and then with a spring leaped upon the stranger. At the same moment the brave man thrust his arm between her open jaws, and seizing hold of her rough tongue, twisted it backwards and forwards with all his might. The beast was now unable to close her mouth, and to bite with her sharp fangs; but she could scratch with her sharp claws; and scratch she did, till the clothes were torn off the man’s body, and the flesh from his bones. But the brave man would not loose his hold; and the tigress was tired out first: alarmed,—with a sudden start backward, she jerked her tongue out of the man’s hand, and rushed out of the den and out of the jungle.