Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

11.  The Act alluded to probably is 14 Elizabeth, c. 5.  Other Acts of the same reign dealing with vagrancy and the first poor-law are 39 Elizabeth, c. 3, and 43 Elizabeth, c. 2 (A.D. 1601).  In 1595 vagrancy had assumed such alarming proportions in London that a provost-marshal was appointed to give the wanderers the short shrift of martial law.  The course of legislation on the subject is summarized in the article ‘Poor Laws’ in Chambers’s Encyclopaedia (1904), and the articles ‘Poor-Law and Vagrancy’ in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., 1910.  See also the chapter entitled ’The England of Elizabeth’ in Green’s History of the English People.

12.  As already observed, chapter 29, note 12, the term Gosain is by no means restricted to the special devotees of Siva; many Gosains—­ for example, those in Bengal and those at Gokul in the Mathura district—­are followers of Vishnu.  The term ‘fakir’ is vaguely used, and often applied to Hindoos.

13.  Even still, something of this unquiet spirit hovers about India, and the incompatibility between the ideas of twentieth-century Englishmen and those of Indian peoples whose mental attitude approaches that of Europeans of the twelfth century is a perennial source of unrest.

CHAPTER 56

Govardhan, the Scene of Krishna’s Dalliance with the Milkmaids.

On the 10th[1] we came on ten miles over a plain to Govardhan, a place celebrated in ancient history as the birthplace of Krishna, the seventh incarnation of the Hindoo god of preservation, Vishnu, and the scene of his dalliance with the milkmaids (gopis); and, in modern days, as the burial—­or burning-place of the Jat chiefs of Bharatpur and Dig, by whose tombs, with their endowments, this once favourite abode of the god is prevented from being entirely deserted.[2] The town stands upon a narrow ridge of sandstone hills, about ten miles long, rising suddenly out of an alluvial plain and running north-east and south-west.  The population is now very small, and composed chiefly of Brahmans, who are supported by the endowments of these tombs, and the contributions of a few pilgrims.  All our Hindoo followers were much gratified as we happened to arrive on a day of peculiar sanctity; and they were enabled to bathe and perform their devotions to the different shrines with the prospect of great advantage.  This range of hills is believed by Hindoos to be part of a fragment of the Himalaya mountains which Hanuman, the monkey general of Rama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, was taking down to aid his master in the formation of his bridge from the continent to the island of Ceylon, when engaged in the war with the demon king of that island for the recovery of his wife Sita.  He made a false step by some accident in passing Govardhan, and this small bit of his load fell off.  The rocks begged either to be taken on to the god Rama, or back to their old place; but

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