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William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.
the man whose dish was put forward when the saint’s appetite happened to be sharp.  The death of the poor old Begam has, it is said, just canonized another saint, Shakir Shah, who lies buried at Sardhana, but is claimed by the people of Meerut, among whom he lived till about five years ago, when he desired to be taken to Sardhana, where he found the old lady very dangerously ill and not expected to live.  He was himself very old and ill when he set out from Meerut; and the journey is said to have shaken him so much that he found his end approaching, and sent a messenger to the princess in these words:  ‘Aya tore, chale ham’; that is, ’Death came for thee, but I go in thy place’; and he told those around him that she had precisely five years more to live.  She is said to have caused a tomb to be built over him, and is believed by the people to have died that day five years.

All these things I learned as I wandered among the tombs of the old saints the first few evenings after my arrival at Meerut.  I was interested in their history from the circumstance that amateur singers and professional dancers and musicians should display their talents at their shrines gratis, for the sake of getting alms for the poor of the place, given in their name—­a thing I had never before heard of—­though the custom prevails no doubt in other places; and that Musalmans and Hindoos should join promiscuously in their devotions and charities at all these shrines.  Manohar Nath’s shrine, though he was a Hindoo, is attended by as many Musalman as Hindoo pilgrims.  He is said to have ‘taken the samadh’, that is, to have buried himself alive in this place as an offering to the Deity.  Men who are afflicted with leprosy or any other incurable disease in India often take the samadh, that is, bury or drown themselves with due ceremonies, by which they are considered as acceptable sacrifices to the Deity.  I once knew a Hindoo gentleman of great wealth and respectability, and of high rank under the Government of Nagpur, who came to the river Nerbudda, two hundred miles, attended by a large retinue, to take the samadh in due form, from a painful disease which the doctors pronounced incurable.  After taking an affectionate leave of all his family and friends, he embarked on board the boat, which took him into the deepest part of the river.  He then loaded himself with sand, as a sportsman who is required to carry weights in a race loads himself with shot, and stepping into the water disappeared.  The funeral ceremonies were then performed, and his family, friends, and followers returned to Nagpur, conscious that they had all done what they had been taught to consider their duty.  Many poor men do the same every year when afflicted by any painful disease that they consider incurable.[5] The only way to prevent this is to carry out the plan now in progress of giving to India in an accessible shape the medical science of Europe—­a plan first adopted under Lord W. Bentinck, prosecuted by Lord Auckland, and superintended by two able and excellent men, Doctors Goodeve and O’Shaughnessy.  It will be one of the greatest blessings that India has ever received from England.[6]

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