One of his followers, who stood beside his chair, said that ’when a tiger had killed one man he was safe, for the spirit of the man rode upon his head, and guided him from all danger. The spirit knew very well that the tiger would be watched for many days at the place where he had committed the homicide, and always guided him off to some other more secure place, when he killed other men without any risk to himself. He did not exactly know why the spirit of the man should thus befriend the beast that had killed him; but’, added he, ’there is a mischief inherent in spirits; and the better the man the more mischievous is his ghost, if means are not taken to put him to rest.’ This is the popular and general belief throughout India; and it is supposed that the only sure mode of destroying a tiger who has killed many people is to begin by making offerings to the spirits of his victims, and thereby depriving him of their valuable services. The belief that men are turned into tigers by eating of a root is no less general throughout India.
The Sarimant, on being asked by me what he thought of the matter, observed ’there was no doubt much truth in what the man said: but he was himself of opinion that the tigers which now infest the wood from Sagar to Deori were of a different kind—in fact, that they were neither more nor less than men turned into tigers—a thing which took place in the woods of Central India much more often than people were aware of. The only visible difference between the two’, added the Sarimant, ’is that the metamorphosed tiger has no tail, while the bora, or ordinary tiger, has a very long one. In the jungle about Deori’, continued he, ’there is a root, which, if a man eat of, he is converted into a tiger on the spot; and if, in this state, he can eat of another, he becomes a man again—a melancholy instance of the former of which’, said he, ’occurred, I am told, in my own father’s family when I was an infant. His washerman, Raghu, was, like all washermen, a great drunkard; and, being seized with a violent desire to ascertain what a man felt in the state of a tiger, he went one day to the jungle and brought home two of these roots, and desired his wife to stand by with one of them, and the instant she saw