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.