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.

15.  In this matter also time has wrought great changes.  The scientific branches of the Indian services, the medical, engineering, forestry, geological survey, and others, have greatly developed, and many officials, in India, whether of European or Indian race, now occupy high places in the world of science.

16.  Compare Bolingbroke’s observation, already quoted, that ’history is philosophy teaching by example’.

CHAPTER 74

Pilgrims of India.

There is nothing which strikes a European more in travelling over the great roads in India than the vast number of pilgrims of all kinds which he falls in with, particularly between the end of November [sic], when all the autumn harvest has been gathered, and the seed of the spring crops has been in the ground.  They consist for the most part of persons, male and female, carrying Ganges water from the point at Hardwar, where the sacred stream emerges from the hills, to the different temples in all parts of India, dedicated to the gods Vishnu and Siva.  There the water is thrown upon the stones which represent the gods, and when it falls upon these stones it is called ‘Chandamirt’, or holy water, and is frequently collected and reserved to be drunk as a remedy ’for a mind diseased’[1]

This water is carried in small bottles, bearing the seals of the presiding priest at the holy place whence it was brought.  The bottles are contained in covered baskets, fixed to the ends of a pole, which is carried across the shoulder.  The people who carry it are of three kinds—­those who carry it for themselves as a votive offering to some shrine; those who are hired for the purpose by others as salaried servants; and, thirdly, those who carry it for sale.  In the interval between the sowing and reaping of the spring crops, that is, between November and March, a very large portion of the Hindoo landholders and cultivators of India devote their leisure to this pious duty.  They take their baskets and poles with them from home, or purchase them on the road; and having poured their libations on the head of the god, and made him acquainted with their wants and wishes, return home.  From November to March three-fourths of the number of these people one meets consist of this class.  At other seasons more than three-fourths consist of the other two classes—­of persons hired for the purpose as servants, and those who carry the water for sale.

One morning the old Jemadar, the marriage of whose mango-grove with the jasmine I have already described,[2] brought his two sons and a nephew to pay their respects to me on their return to Jubbulpore from a pilgrimage to Jagannath.[3] The sickness of the youngest, a nice boy of about six years of age, had caused this pilgrimage.  The eldest son was about twenty years of age, and the nephew about eighteen.

After the usual compliments, I addressed the eldest son:  ’And so your brother was really very ill when you set out?’

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Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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