Tour Of India - The Moghulai
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
From Bombay to Daulatabad—An extraordinary fortress—The caves of Ellora—A Mohammedan festival—A C.M.S. mission—Two warm receptions and a confirmation—ii Moghulai administration—Defects and advantages—Nature of a Christian's oath—The story of the rupee and the coconut—A touch of the sun,
February 25th, ROZA, DECCAN.—This professes to be a tour of C.M.S. missions with Jim, but so far we have seen much less of missions than of other things.
I left Bombay on Wednesday night by a train which contrived to take eleven hours over the hundred and sixty miles to Manmad, which we reached at nine o'clock in the morning. It is the point on the main Bombay-Calcutta line where the Hyderabad railway branches off.
At Manmad we were joined by two S.P.G. ladies from Ahmednagar (where I toured a month ago), Jim thinking it would promote good relations if they could personally visit the C.M.S. ladies.
At noon the whole five of us embarked in a special saloon which they had attached for Jim to the slowest and hottest train I have yet endured out here. It must have been well up the nineties. The Deccan was as bare and flat and veld-like as ever, and it took us four hours to reach Daulatabad.
There are three cities close together, each of some historical importance, viz., Daulatabad, Aurangabad, and Roza.
Daulatabad was a famous Hindu fortress, being called Deogiri in those days. In 1293 it was captured by Ala-ud-din, who was the greatest of the second set of Mohammedan emperors at Delhi. This sportsman not only changed its name to Daulatabad, but removed thither the whole population of Delhi en bloc, in a famine year, too! It is the most extraordinary fortress I have ever seen. An isolated hill rises out of the plain, five hundred feet high, in shape a perfect pyramid, but the bottom hundred feet are perpendicular, just as if cut with a knife : in fact, one can hardly believe it is natural, though the natives say it is, and no tool-marks are visible : but the whole hill looks artificial.
The only way up to the citadel passes through a long tunnel which winds in total darkness through the rock, like a rabbit-hole. Where it emerges at the top it used to be covered with an iron shutter, which we saw and in siege-time this shutter was heated red-hot, a device which absolutely " diddled " all besiegers.
The city of Aurangabad is named after Aurangzeb, who made it his capital for some time; but we have not been there yet. We drove from Daulatabad eight miles up to this place, Roza, which is where Aurangzeb is buried. It is also the burial-place of a Moslem saint, and a great place of pilgrimage : and we happen to have hit off the days of the yearly feast.
There is no mission here, but we have come up for three days to see the famous caves of Ellora. These thirty-two caves are cut along the base of a long ridge some five hundred feet high, on the top of which Roza stands.
There is a lovely view for miles over the plain below us, and it is only a mile by road down to the caves. Some of them are marvellous efforts. Of the thirty-two, the first twelve are Buddhist and date from A.D. 350 to 750. They are mostly plain pillared halls with cells and chapels, with one chaitya, which is very like a church.
Then come fifteen Brahmanical caves dating A.D. boo to Soo. These are much more elaborate and the walls are sculptured with reliefs. In the middle of them is the Kailasa Temple, and beyond them are five Jain caves, dating 850 to 1300, and much more highly finished in detail than the others.
But the Kailasa Temple is the wonder of the place. Like all the caves, it is carved out of live rock, but in this case alone they've carved it from the open air above, instead of leaving it a cave. So it is a complete cathedral framed in the hillside. The top and front are open to the air : the sides and back are about twenty feet from the rock-wall. The dimensions of the temple are one hundred and sixty-four feet long, one hundred and nine feet wide, and ninety-six feet high : it looks about as big as St. Mary's at oxford, minus the spire. The whole is most elaborately carved, and it is almost incredible that it is a monolith. Fergusson is sure to have pictures of it.
We went out this evening to see the meta, or feast. To-day is the great day of it. There are, the tasildar told us, a hundred thousand people in Roza, whereof the normal population is two thousand two hundred and eighteen : so you can imagine the state of the village tank, in which all the pilgrims first wash and then drink: our bath-water came from it till we protested. (A tasildar is a district magistrate : what they call mamlatdar in Bombay.)
We first walked to a spur of hill from which we could see the crowds and the booths and the tents and the wagons spread all about and around the town : then we descended and saw the . procession. A box of sandalwood-oil is carried in state to the saint's tomb, and we saw it being carried. First came a rabble in brilliant clothes, singing weirdly. Then came a kind of improvised bodyguard armed with every conceivable species of knife, sword, spear, and gun : those who had guns were busy firing feux-de joie of alarming loudness. Then came the draped box, borne on men's heads under a red canopy with silver poles ; then more rabble, and at the rear the Nizam's representative in a smart motor-landaulette. Behind him was another large crowd, into which our party got swept, and so we walked in the procession right up to the gate of the tomb, and quite rivalled the sandalwood as a cynosure.
There were hundreds of beggars sitting at the gateways and corners, crying "Al-lab " just like the man in Kismet : fortunately the humorous coinage of the State enables the charitable to give something to each without great expense, since the smallest current coin is the cowrie-shell, of which no fewer than five thousand seven hundred and sixty go to the rupee !
Wednesday, BADNAPUR.-We left Roza on Monday. Jim and I came here by train, three stations south-east of Aurangabad, while the rest of the party drove to Aurangabad and are awaiting us there : we rejoin them tonight.
The missionaries met us here and we took up our quarters in a camp just outside the village, by the river-bed (now dry), under a grove of tamarinds and banyan-trees.
The Christians in this district are almost all Mangs, who, if you remember, are the lowest tribe of all, the rope-makers. In the 'Nagar mission, where I was in January and which is only thirty miles west of this, across the Godavari, the Christians are Mahars, the tribe above the Mangs : but here the Mahars have not yet come over, though they are ready to if they could have separate churches : which of course they mustn't.
In Badnapur all the Mangs are Christians, but only about ten per cent. of the total Mang population of the district has been reached, owing to lack of workers and funds. The civilizing effects of Christianity are more noticeable than ever here : the C.M.S., being so keen on the Bible, are the more particular to insist that their people should learn to read : and a man who can read is a very rare bird ' in the Moghulai. (Moghulai is the ordinary name for the Nizam's dominions : it was an offshoot of the Moghul Empire.) So already there are Mang Christians in some of the most responsible State positions. The Government thinks highly of them and encourages the mission in every way. They strongly approve of the con-version of Hindus to Christianity as a pis-alley to Mohammedanism. The oath of a Christian has received legal recognition in the Moghulai courts as thirty times as reliable as that of a Hindu, and they trust them more than Mohammedans even, in practice. A Hindu is almost incapable of telling the truth unless he is holding a cow's tail, and even then you can't be sure of him.
The afternoon we arrived Jim held a Confirmation in our big tent, and later on laid the foundation-stone of a church, for which the Government has given the land.
Yesterday we drove out to another village ten miles off, called Saigao, where again all the Mangs are Christian. We drove in Congas drawn by trotting bullocks, and got there in an hour and a half. We were received by a motley procession, and marched in state to the church, led by a band of two cornets (played by Mohammedans), a fife, and cymbals, while in front of all was a Hindu, who let off cracker-bombs in our honour all the way. (Who would receive a bishop with Chinese crackers in England? We have such poor imaginations !) He fastened each cracker on to the end of a long staff and then leaped into the air, using the staff as a jumping-pole and as the point hit the ground it exploded the cracker with a tremendous bang. I should have liked to photograph it, but I was in the middle of the procession myself.
In the church Jim held a biggish Confirmation, thirty-four confirmed. The proceedings were enlivened by a small boy of about five in the front row. The innumerable babies always behave queerly, but this one was distinctly original. He first escaped from his mother, who was handicapped (I) by a smaller infant, (2) by being a Confirmation candidate ; then advanced to the open space in front of Jim's chair, where he proceeded to divest himself of his only garment, a cotton coat. He then lay on his back and slapped his stomach loudly for some minutes, after which he solemnly dressed again and repeated the performance with variations (one very embarrassing) all through the service.
After the service we had the usual pan-supari, i.e., garlanding, oil of sandalwood on our hands, betel-nut to eat, speeches, and music. All of which was very hot, it being two o'clock in a sun-baked compound, with only a cotton skamiana to shade us.
We got back to camp at five, and I shot some pigeons and missed several more, while Jim under-went another .pan-supari at a neighbouring village.
This morning Jim has gone to inspect a church twelve miles off, and we all go in to Aurangabad this evening. To-morrow afternoon I set forth for Calcutta. Characteristically the Moghulai post-office has lost all our mail-letters, so I don't know when, if at all, I shall get what you wrote on February 9th.
P.S.—We saw Aurangzeb's tomb at Roza, but it isn't much to look at. He ordered his funeral expenses to be paid out of the proceeds of some caps he had quilted with his own hands but they only fetched ten rupees.
February 28, BADNAPUR, HYDERABAD STATE.-We got the telegraphed report of the Lords' Debate at Roza. I'm looking forward to hearing the Bengali point of view next week. It seems to me the coexistence of the two Governments in a centre like Calcutta is the crux of the capitals question.
We are in the Moghulai here—i.e., the native State of Hyderabad, generally called the Nizam's dominions. It is a very humorous country, from what I have seen and heard of the methods of its government. I'm told the people say they will never know prosperity till they come under the British Raj ; but in some ways I fancy they would find our methodical efficiency less congenial than the existing haphazard despotism. It takes ages to get anything done, since the Government officials lose half the letters they receive and fail to answer the rest : but when any officer is moved to do anything, his action has all the grace of an unexpected benefaction. The padre here told me that a correspondence of two letters a side takes an average of eighteen months to conduct.
I gather the most serious abuse is the way the Government officials on tour harass and fleece the villages. They just loot anything they want, and beat any one who suggests payment. On approaching a strange village the padres have sometimes seen the inhabitants all taking to the jungle under the impression they were officials. But there is a delightful uncertainty about their measures : sometimes they can do better than we ever could. For instance, in the last famine the bannias (money lenders) in a certain town " cornered " wheat and demanded extortionate prices : whereupon the tasildar sent to say that unless they lowered their prices within four hours he would authorize a general loot. The result was an instantaneous easing of the wheat-market.
On the other hand, when another town was terrorized by dacoits, it appealed to the Nizam and he sent his own bodyguard to protect them. A week later they appealed again—to be left to the dacoits
The mission-work here is almost entirely among the Mangs. The mission is on the best of terms with the Government, since Mohammedans greatly prefer Christians to Hindus. (The Government of the Moghulai is Mohammedan, since it is an off-shoot of the old Moghul Empire : but the people are nearly all Hindus, in the villages at any rate.) In fact, they delight to favour Christian Mangs: and flout the patils of the villages, who naturally resent it, and are therefore the chief enemies of the mission. Another cause of the pat ils,,' hostility is that they used to employ the Mangs to steal crops and divide the proceeds; but now the Mangs, being Christian, refuse to do this.
I think the improvement wrought by Christianity is even more visible among the Mangs than it was at 'Nagar among the Mahars. The padres are very pleased over a recent case in the law-courts, where the evidence of one Christian Mang was held to outweigh that of twenty-five Hindu Mahars —who had all been suborned by a claimant to a property—expressly because he was a Christian. He was made to recite the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments in court!
The Hindu villagers themselves say of the Christians, " They trust one another," which is really a more remarkable testimony than the other : because it is not natural for a Hindu to connect trust or love with religion at all.
In fact, the popular view of religion is entirely external, and, so to speak, business-like. Which reminds me of a delicious story of one of the clergy of the 'Nagar mission, only it will lose its savour on paper. He was sitting one evening in the church compound at Karegao, when he saw a man coming stealthily out of the church. As the man's get-up was Hindu and not Christian, he called out to him in Mahrathi, and asked him what he was doing there. The man came up to him salaaming profoundly and saying, " Sahib, I am a poor man."
" Well, what is the matter ? " said the padre.
"Oh, sahib, thy servant is a poor man, a very poor man! Yesterday I lost a rupee. I searched and searched but could not find it. I did not know how to live. And it chanced that my cousin saw me in my trouble, and he said, ' What is amiss ?' and I answered him, I have lost my rupee, and I do not know where to find it.' Then he answered me, ' That God who lives in the church over there is a good fellow ; try him.' So I waited till the dusk, and having waited, I went softly to the church and entered in and stood before the image of him and said, ` 0 thou God, if thou wilt find my rupee for me I will give thee a coco-nut.' Then returned I to my house, and behold in half an hour afterwards I found my rupee. So I waited till this evening's dusk, and I have been in and have paid him the coco-nut he is a good God."
Friday, AURANGABAD.-When writing this letter on Wednesday at Badnapur I must have left tao little between my head and the sun : anyway, soon after starting for the train to come in here I felt a headache, and on arriving here found my temperature was 102, so I retired to bed. Yesterday it was 101, and the doctor came and sampled my blood. To-day he reports it is not fever, and that I shall be able to travel by Monday. My hostess is being most kind and looking after me splendidly.