Part 2 out of 8
cultivation has increased 229,000,000 acres. What we call internal
revenue has increased 17 per cent during the last ten years; sea
borne foreign commerce has risen in value from L130,500,000 to
L163,750,000; the coasting trade from L48,500,000 to L63,000,000,
and the foreign trade by land from L5,500,000 to L9,000,000.
Similar signs of progress and prosperity are to be found in the
development of organized manufactures, in the increased investment
of capital in commerce and industry, in dividends paid by various
enterprises, in the extended use of the railways, the postoffice
and the telegraph. The number of operatives in cotton mills has
increased during the last ten years from 118,000 to 174,000, in
jute mills from 65,000 to 114,000, in coal and other mines from
35,000 to 95,000, and in miscellaneous industries from 184,000
to 500,000. The railway employes have increased in number from
284,000 to 357,000 in ten years.
A corresponding development and improvement is found in all lines
of investment. During the ten years from 1894 to 1904 the number
of joint stock companies having more than $100,000 capital has
increased from 950 to 1,366, and their paid up capital from
L17,750,000 to L24,500,000. The paid in capital of banks has
advanced from L9,000,000 to L14,750,000; deposits have increased
from L7,500,000 to L23,650,000, and the deposits in postal savings
banks from L4,800,000 to L7,200,000, which is an encouraging
indication of the growth of habits of thrift. The passenger traffic
on the railways has increased from 123,000,000 to 195,000,000,
and the freight from 20,000,000 to 34,000,000 tons. The number of
letters and parcels passing through the postoffice has increased
during the ten years from 340,000,000 to 560,000,000; the postal
money orders from L9,000,000 to L19,000,000, and the telegraph
messages from 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 in number.
The income tax is an excellent barometer of prosperity. It exempts
ordinary wage earners entirely--persons with incomes of less than
500 rupees, a rupee being worth about 33 cents of our money.
The whole number of persons paying the income tax has increased
from 354,594 to 495,605, which is about 40 per cent in ten years,
and the average tax paid has increased from 37.09 rupees to 48.68
rupees. The proceeds of the tax have increased steadily from
year to year, with the exception of the famine years.
There are four classifications of taxpayers, and the proportion
paid by each during the last year, 1902, was as follows:
Salaries and pensions 29.07
Dividends from companies and business 7.22
Interest on securities 4.63
Miscellaneous sources of income 59.08
The last item is very significant. It shows that nearly 60 per
cent of the income taxpayers of India are supported by miscellaneous
investments other than securities and joint stock companies. The
item includes the names of merchants, individual manufacturers,
farmers, mechanics, professional men and tradesmen of every class.
The returns of the postal savings banks show the following classes
Wage earners 352,349
Professional men with fixed incomes 233,108
Professional men with variable incomes 58,130
Domestics, or house servants 151,204
The interest allowed by the savings bank government of India is
3-1/2 per cent.
Considering the awful misfortunes and distress which the country
has endured during the last ten years, these facts are not only
satisfactory but remarkable, and if it can progress so rapidly
during times of plague and famine, what could be expected from
it during a cycle of seasons of full crops.
During the ten years which ended with 1894 the seasons were all
favorable, generally speaking, although local failures of harvests
occurred here and there in districts of several provinces, but
they were not sufficient in area, duration or intensity to affect
the material conditions of the people. The ten succeeding years,
however, ending with 1904 witnessed a succession of calamities
that were unprecedented either in India or anywhere else on earth,
with the exception of a famine that occurred in the latter part
of the eighteenth century. Those ten years not only saw two of
the worst famines, but repeated visitations of widespread and
fatal epidemics. It is estimated that during the ten years ending
December, 1903, a million and a half of deaths were caused by the
bubonic plague alone, and that the mortality from that pestilence
was small in comparison with that caused by cholera, fever and
famine. The effects of those epidemics had been to hamper trade,
to alarm and demoralize the people, to obstruct foreign commerce,
prevent investments and the development of material resources.
Yet during the years 1902 and 1903 throughout all India there
was abundant prosperity. This restoration of prosperity is most
noticeable in several of the districts that suffered most severely
from famine. To a large measure the agricultural population have
been restored to their normal condition.
It is difficult in a great country like India where wages are
so small and the cost of living is so insignificant compared
with our own country, to judge accurately of the condition of
the laboring classes. The empire is so vast and so diverse in
all its features that a statement which may accurately apply
to one province will misrepresent another. But, taking one
consideration with another, as the song says, and drawing an
average, it is plainly evident that the peasant population of
India is slowly improving in condition. The scales of wages have
undoubtedly risen; there has been an improvement in the housing
and the feeding of the masses; their sanitary condition has been
radically changed, although they have fought against it, and
the slow but gradual development of the material resources of
the country promises to make the improvement permanent.
The chief source of revenue in India from ancient times has been
a share in the crops of the farmers. The present system has been
handed down through the centuries with very little modification, and
as three-fifths of the people are entirely and directly dependent
upon the cultivation of the land, the whole fabric of society
has been based upon that source of wealth. The census gives
191,691,731 people as agriculturists, of whom 131,000,000 till
their own or rented land, 18,750,000 receive incomes as landlord
owners and the remainder are agricultural laborers. The landlord
caste are the descendants of hereditary chiefs, of former revenue
farmers and persons of importance to whom land grants were made
in ancient times. Large tracts of land in northern India are
owned by municipalities and village communities, whose officials
receive the rents and pay the taxes. Other large tracts have
been inherited from the invaders and conquerors of the country.
It is customary in India for the landlord to receive his rent
in a part of the crop, and the government in turn receives a
share of this rent in lieu of taxes. This is an ancient system
which the British government has never interfered with, and any
attempt to modify or change it would undoubtedly be resisted.
At the same time the rents are largely regulated by the taxes.
These customs, which have come down from the Mogul empire, have
been defined and strengthened by time and experience. Nearly
every province has its own and different laws and customs on
the subject, but the variation is due not to legislation, but
to public sentiment. The tenant as well as the landlord insists
that the assessments of taxes shall be made before the rent rate
is determined, and this occurs in almost every province, although
variations in rent and changes of proprietorship and tenantry
very seldom occur. Wherever there has been a change during the
present generation it has been in favor of the tenants. The rates
of rent and taxation naturally vary according to the productive
power of the land, the advantages of climate and rainfall, the
facilities for reaching market and other conditions. But the
average tax represents about two-thirds of a rupee per acre, or
21 cents in American money.
We have been accustomed to consider India a great wheat producing
country, and you often hear of apprehension on the part of American
political economists lest its cheap labor and enormous area should
give our wheat growers serious competition. But there is not
the slightest ground for apprehension. While the area planted
to wheat in India might be doubled, and farm labor earns only
a few cents a day, the methods of cultivation are so primitive
and the results of that cheap labor are comparatively so small,
that they can never count seriously against our wheat farms which
are tilled and harvested with machinery and intelligence. No
article in the Indian export trade has been so irregular or has
experienced greater vicissitudes than wheat. The highest figure
ever reached in the value of exports was during the years 1891-92,
when there was an exceptional crop, and the exports reached
$47,500,000. The average for the preceding ten years was $25,970,000,
while the average for the succeeding ten years, ending 1901-02,
was only $12,740,000. This extraordinary decrease was due to
the failure of the crop year after year and the influence of
the famines of 1897 and 1900. The bulk of the wheat produced
in India is consumed within the districts where it is raised,
and the average size of the wheat farms is less than five acres.
More than three-fourths of the India wheat crop is grown on little
patches of ground only a few feet square, and sold in the local
markets. The great bulk of the wheat exported comes from the large
farms or is turned in to the owners of land rented to tenants
for shares of the crops produced.
The coal industry is becoming important. There are 329 mines
in operation, which yielded 7,424,480 tons during the calendar
year of 1902, an increase of nearly 1,000,000 tons in the five
years ending 1903. It is a fair grade of bituminous coal and
does well for steaming purposes. Twenty-eight per cent of the
total output was consumed by the local railway locomotives in
1902, and 431,552 tons was exported to Ceylon and other neighboring
countries. The first mine was opened in India as long ago as
1820, but it was the only one worked for twenty years, and the
development of the industry has been very slow, simply keeping
pace with the increase of railways, mills, factories and other
consumers. But the production is entirely sufficient to meet
the local demand, and only 23,417 tons was imported in 1902,
all of which came as ballast. The industry gives employment to
about 98,000 persons. Most of the stock in the mining companies
is owned by private citizens of India. The prices in Calcutta
and Bombay vary from $2.30 to $2.85 a ton.
India is rich in mineral deposits, but few of them have been
developed, chiefly on account of the lack of capital and enterprise.
After coal, petroleum is the most important item, and in 1902
nearly 57,000,000 gallons was refined and sold in the India market,
but this was not sufficient to meet half the demand, and about
81,000,000 gallons was imported from the United States and Russia.
Gold mining is carried on in a primitive way in several of the
provinces, chiefly by the washing of river sand. Valuable gold
deposits are known to exist, but no one has had the enterprise
or the capital to undertake their development, simply because
costly machinery is required and would call for a heavy investment.
Most of the gold washing is done by natives with rude, home-made
implements, and the total production reported for 1902 was 517,639
ounces, valued at $20 an ounce. This, however, does not tell
more than half the story. It represents only the amount of gold
shipped out of the country, while at least as much again, if
not more, was consumed by local artisans in the manufacture of
the jewelry which is so popular among the natives. When a Hindu
man or woman gets a little money ahead he or she invariably buys
silver or gold ornaments with it, instead of placing it in a
savings bank or making other investments. Nearly all women and
children that you see are loaded with silver ornaments, their
legs and feet as well as their hands and arms, and necklaces of
silver weighing a pound or more are common. Girdles of beautifully
wrought silver are sometimes worn next to the bare skin by ordinary
coolies working on the roads or on the docks of the rivers, and
in every town you visit you will find hundreds of shops devoted
to the sale of silver and gold adornments of rude workmanship
but put metal. The upper classes invest their savings in gold
and precious stones for similar reasons. There is scarcely a
family of the middle class without a jewel case containing many
articles of great value, while both the men and women of the rich
and noble castes own and wear on ceremonial occasions amazing
collections of precious stones and gold ornaments which have
been handed down by their ancestors who invested their surplus
wealth in them at a time when no safe securities were to be had
and savings banks had not been introduced into India. A large
proportion of the native gold is consumed by local artisans in
the manufacture of these ornaments, and is not counted in the
official returns. An equal amount, perhaps, is worked up into
gold foil and used for gilding temples, palaces and the houses
of the rich. Like all orientals, the Indians are very fond of
gilding, and immense quantities of pure gold leaf are manufactured
in little shops that may be seen in every bazaar you visit.
India now ranks second among the manganese ore producing countries
of the world, and has an inexhaustible supply of the highest
grade. The quality of the ores from the central provinces permits
their export in the face of a railway haul of 500 miles and sea
transportation to England, Belgium, Germany and the United States,
but, speaking generally, the mineral development of India has
not yet begun.
TWO HINDU WEDDINGS
There was a notable wedding at Baroda, the capital of one of the
Native States of the same name, while we were in India, and the
Gaikwar, as the ruling prince is called, expressed a desire for us
to be present. He has a becoming respect for and appreciation of
the influence and usefulness of the press, and it was a pleasure
to find so sensible a man among the native rulers. But, owing
to circumstances over which we had no control, we had to deny
ourselves the gratification of witnessing an event which few
foreigners have ever been allowed to see. It is a pity winter
is so short in the East, for there are so many countries one
cannot comfortably visit any other time of year.
Baroda is a non-tributary, independent native state of the first
rank, lying directly north of the province of Bombay, and its
ruler is called a "gaikwar," which signifies "cowherd," and the
present possessor of that title is one of the biggest men in the
empire, one of the richest and one of the greatest swells. He
is entitled to a salute of twenty-one guns, an honor conferred
upon only two other native princes, the Maharajah of Mysore and
the Nizam of Hyderabad. He is one of the ablest and one of the
most progressive of the native princes. His family trace their
descent back to the gods of mythology, but he is entirely human
himself, and a handsome man of middle age. When we saw him for
the first time he had half a dozen garlands of flowers hanging
around his neck, and three or four big bouquets in his hand,
which, according to the custom of the country, had been presented
to him by affectionate friends. It was he who presented to the City
of Bombay the beautiful statue of Queen Victoria which ornaments
the principal public square. It is one of the finest monuments to
be seen anywhere, and expressed his admiration of his empress,
who had shown particular interest in his career. The present
gaikwar was placed upon the throne in 1874 by Lord Northbrook,
when he was Viceroy of India, to succeed Malhar Rao, one of those
fantastic persons we read about in fairy stories but seldom find
in real life. For extravagant phantasies and barbaric splendors
he beat the world. He surpassed even those old spendthrifts of
the Roman Empire, Nero, Caligula and Tiberius. He spent a million
of rupees to celebrate the marriage ceremonies of a favorite
pigeon of his aviary, which was mated with one belonging to his
prime minister. But the most remarkable of his extravagant freaks
was a rug and two pillow covers of pearls, probably the greatest
marvel of all fabrics that were ever woven since the world was
The carpet, ten feet six inches by six feet in size, is woven
entirely of strings of perfect pearls. A border eleven inches wide
and a center ornament are worked out in diamonds. The pillow covers
are three feet by two feet six inches in size. For three years
the jewel merchants of India, and they are many, were searching
for the material for this extraordinary affair. It cost several
millions of dollars and was intended as a present for a Mohammedan
lady of doubtful reputation, who had fascinated His Highness.
The British Resident at his capital intervened and prohibited
the gift on the ground that the State of Baroda could not afford
to indulge its ruler in such generosity, and that the scandal
would reflect upon the administration of the Indian Empire. The
carpet still belongs to the State and may be seen by visitors
upon a permit from one of the higher authorities. It is kept at
Baroda in a safe place with the rest of the state jewels, which
are the richest in India and probably the most costly belonging
to any government in the world.
The regalia of the gaikwar intended for state occasions, which
was worn by him at the wedding, is valued at $15,000,000. He
appeared in it at the Delhi durbar in 1903. It consists of a
collar and shoulder pieces made of 500 diamonds, some of them as
large as walnuts. The smallest would be considered a treasure by
any lady in the land. The border of this collar is made of three
bands of emeralds, of graduated sizes, the outer row consisting
of jewels nearly an inch square. From the collar, as a pendant,
hangs one of the largest and most famous diamonds in the world,
known as the "Star of the Deccan." Its history may be found in
any work on jewels. There is an aigrette to match the collar,
which His Highness wears in his turban.
This is only one of several sets to be found in the collection,
which altogether would make as brave a show as you can find at
Tiffany's. There are strings of pearls as large as marbles, and
a rope of pearls nearly four feet long braided of four strands.
Every pearl is said to be perfect and the size of a pea. The
rope is about an inch in diameter. Besides these are necklaces,
bracelets, brooches, rings and every conceivable ornament set
with jewels of every variety, which have been handed down from
generation to generation in this princely family for several
hundred years. One of the most interesting of the necklaces is
made of uncut rubies said to have been found in India. It has
been worn for more than a thousand years. These jewels are kept
in a treasure-room in the heart of the Nazar Bgah Palace, guarded
night and day by a battalion of soldiers. At night when the palace
is closed half a dozen huge cheetahs, savage beasts of the leopard
family, are released in the corridors, and, as you may imagine, they
are efficient watchmen. They would make a burglar very unhappy.
During the daytime they are allowed to wander about the palace
grounds, but are carefully muzzled.
Malhar Rao built a superb palace at a cost of $1,500,000 which
is considered the most perfect and beautiful example of the
Hindu-Saracenic order of architecture in existence, and its interior
finish and decoration are wonderful for their artistic beauty,
detail and variety. In front of the main entrance are two guns
of solid gold, weighing two hundred and eighty pounds each, and
the carriages, ammunition wagons and other accoutrements are made
of solid silver. The present Maharajah is said to have decided
to melt them down and have them coined into good money, with
which he desires to endow a technical school.
Behind the palace is a great walled arena in which previous rulers
of Baroda have had fights between elephants, tigers, lions and other
wild beasts for the amusement of their court and the population
generally. And they remind you of those we read about in the
Colosseum in the time of Nero and other Roman emperors. Baroda
has one of the finest zoological gardens in the world, but most of
the animals are native to India. It is surrounded by a botanical
garden, in which the late gaikwar, who was passionately fond of
plants and flowers, took a great deal of interest and spent a
great deal of money.
He built a temple at Dakar, a few miles from Baroda, which cost
an enormous sum of money, in honor of an ancient image of the Hindu
god, Krishna. It has been the resort of pilgrims for hundreds of
years, and is considered one of the most sacred idols of India.
In addition to the temple he constructed hospices for the shelter
and entertainment of pilgrims, who come nowadays in larger numbers
than ever, sometimes as many as a hundred thousand in a year, and
are all fed and cared for, furnished comfortable clothing and
medical attendance, bathed, healed and comforted at the expense
of His Highness, whose generosity and hospitality are not limited
to his own subjects. The throne of the idol Krishna in that temple
is a masterpiece of wood carving and bears $60,000 worth of gold
ornaments. Artists say that this temple, although entirely modern,
surpasses in the beauty of its detail, both in design and
workmanship, any of the old temples in India which people corne
thousands of miles to see.
Fate at last overtook the strange man who did all these things
and he came to grief. Indignant at Colonel Phayre, the British
Resident, for interfering with his wishes in regard to the pearl
carpet and some other little fancies, he attempted to poison
him in an imperial manner. He caused a lot of diamonds to be
ground up into powder and dropped into a cup of pomolo juice,
which he tried to induce his prudent adviser to drink. Ordinary
drug store poison was beneath him. When Malhar Rao committed a
crime he did it, as he did everything else, with royal splendor.
He had tried the same trick successfully upon his brother and
predecessor, Gaikwar Khande Rao, the man who built a beautiful
sailors' home at Bombay in 1870 to commemorate the visit of the
Duke of Edinburgh to India. Colonel Phayre suspected something
wrong, and declined to drink the toast His Highness offered. The
plot was soon afterward discovered and Viceroy Lord Northbrook,
who had tolerated his tyranny and fantastic performances as long
as possible, made an investigation and ordered him before a court
over which the chief justice of Bengal presided. The evidence
disclosed a most scandalous condition of affairs throughout the
entire province. Public offices were sold to the highest bidder;
demands for blackmail were enforced by torture; the wives and
daughters of his subjects were seized at his will and carried
to his palace whenever their beauty attracted his attention. The
condition of the people was desperate. In one district there was
open rebellion; discontent prevailed everywhere and the methods
of administration were infamous. It was shown that a previous
prime minister had been poisoned by direct orders of his chief
and that with his own hands the gaikwar had beaten one of his
own servants to death. Two Hindu judges of the court voted for
acquittal, but the remainder found him guilty. As the judgment
was not unanimous, Mahal Rao escaped the death penalty which he
deserved, and would have suffered but for the sympathy of his
judicial co-religionists. He was deposed and sent to prison,
and when an investigation of his finances was made, it was found
that during the last year of his reign he had wasted $3,500,000
in gifts to his favorites, in gratifying his whims and fancies,
and for personal pleasures. All of which was wrung from the people
After his conviction the widow of his brother and predecessor,
Khande Rao, whom he had poisoned, was allowed to exercise the
right of adoption, and her choice fell upon the present gaikwar,
then a lad of eleven, belonging to a collateral branch of the
family. He was provided with English tutors and afterward sent to
England to complete his education. He proved a brilliant scholar,
an industrious, earnest, practical man, and, as I have said,
Queen Victoria took a great personal interest in him. When he
came to the throne in 1874, he immediately applied himself with
energy and intelligence to the administration of the government
and surrounded himself with the best English advisers he could
get. Since his accession the condition of Baroda has entirely
changed and is in striking contrast with that which existed under
his predecessors. Many taxes have been abolished and more have
been reduced. Public works have been constructed everywhere;
schools, colleges, hospitals, asylums, markets, water works,
electric lighting plants, manufactories and sanitary improvements
have been introduced, competent courts have been established and
the province has become one of the most prosperous in India.
Baroda is called "The Garden of India." It occupies a fine plain
with rich alluvial soil, well watered, and almost entirely under
cultivation. It produces luxurious crops of grain, cotton, sugar,
tobacco and other staples, and the greater part of them are turned
from raw material into the finished product in factories scattered
through the state. We were advised that Baroda is the best place
in India to study the native arts and fabrics. The manufacturing
is chiefly controlled by Parsees, descendants of Persian fugitives
who fled to India and settled in Baroda more than a thousand years
ago, and in their temple at Navasari, a thriving manufacturing
town, the sacred fire has been burning uninterruptedly for five
hundred years. The City of Baroda has about 125,000 population.
The principal streets are lined with houses of teakwood, whose
fronts are elaborately carved. Their like cannot be seen elsewhere.
The maharajah keeps up the elephant stables of his predecessor
in which are bred and kept the finest animals in India. He also
breeds the best oxen in the empire.
Through the good offices of Mr. Fee, our consul at Bombay, we
received invitations to a Hindu wedding in high life. The groom
was a young widower, a merchant of wealth and important commercial
connections, a graduate of Elphinstone College, speaks English
fluently, and is a favorite with the foreign colony. The bride
was the daughter of a widow whose late husband was similarly
situated, a partner in a rich mercantile and commission house,
well known and respected. The family ate liberal in their views,
and the daughter has been educated at one of the American mission
schools, although they still adhere to Hinduism, their ancestral
religion. The groom's family are equally liberal, but, like many
prominent families of educated natives, do not have the moral
courage or the independence to renounce the faith in which they
were born. The inhabitants of India are the most conservative of
all peoples, and while an educated and progressive Hindu will
tell you freely that he does not believe in the gods and
superstitions of his fathers, and will denounce the Brahmins as
ignorant impostors, respect for public opinion will not permit
him to make an open declaration of his loss of faith. These two
families are examples, and when their sons and daughters are
married, or when they die, observe all the social and religious
customs of their race and preserve the family traditions unbroken.
The home of the bridegroom's family is an immense wooden house
in the native quarter, and when we reached it we had to pass
through a crowd of coolies that filled the street. The gate and
outside walls were gayly decorated with bunting and Japanese
lanterns, all ready to be lighted as soon as the sun went down.
A native orchestra was playing doleful music in one of the courts,
and a brass band of twenty pieces in military uniforms from the
barracks was waiting its turn. A hallway which leads to a large
drawing-room in the rear of the house was spread with scarlet
matting, the walls were hung with gay prints, and Japanese lanterns
were suspended from the ceiling at intervals of three or four
feet. The first room was filled with women and children eating
ices and sweetmeats. Men guests were not allowed to join them.
It was then half past four, and we were told that they had been
enjoying themselves in that innocent way since noon, and would
remain until late in the evening, for it was the only share they
could have in the wedding ceremonies. Hindu women and men cannot
mingle even on such occasions.
The men folks were in the large drawing-room, seated in rows
of chairs facing each other, with an aisle four or five feet
wide in the center. There were all sorts and conditions of men,
for the groom has a wide acquaintance and intimate friends among
Mohammedans, Jains, Parsees, Roman Catholics, Protestants and all
the many other religious in Bombay, and he invited them to his
marriage. Several foreign ladies were given seats in the place of
honor at the head of the room around a large gilt chair or throne
which stood in the center with a wreath of flowers carelessly
thrown over the back. There were two American missionaries and
their wives, a Jesuit priest and several English women.
[Illustration: NAUTCH DANCERS]
Soon after we were seated there was a stir on the outside and
the groom appeared arrayed in the whitest of white linen robes,
a turban of white and gold silk, an exquisite cashmere shawl over
his shoulders, and a string of diamonds around his neck that
were worth a rajah's ransom. His hands were adorned with several
handsome rings, including one great emerald set in diamonds, so
big that you could see it across the room. Around his neck was
a garland of marigolds that fell to his waist, and he carried a
big bridal bouquet in his hand. As soon as he was seated a group
of nautch dancers, accompanied by a native orchestra, appeared
and performed one of their melancholy dances. The nautches may be
very wicked, but they certainly are not attractive in appearance.
Their dances are very much like an exercise in the Delsarte method
of elocution, being done with the arms more than with the legs,
and consisting of slow, graceful gesticulations such as a dreamy
poet might use when he soliloquizes to the stars. There is nothing
sensuous or suggestive in them. The movements are no more immodest
than knitting or quilting a comfortable--and are just about as
exciting. Each dance is supposed to be a poem expressed by gesture
and posturing--the poetry of motion--a sentimental pantomime,
and imaginative Hindus claim to be able to follow the story.
The orchestra, playing several queer looking fiddles, drums,
clarinets and other instruments, is employed to assist in the
interpretation, and produces the most dreary and monotonous sounds
without the slightest trace of theme or melody or rhythm. While I
don't want to be irreverent, they reminded me of a slang phrase
you hear in the country about "the tune the old cow died of."
Hindu music is worse than that you hear in China or Japan, because
it is so awfully solemn and slow. The Chinese and Japanese give
you a lot of noise if they lack harmony, but when a Hindu band
reaches a fortissimo passage it sounds exactly as if some child
were trying to play a bagpipe for the first time.
When I made an observation concerning the apparent innocence
and unattractiveness of the nautch girls to a missionary lady
who sat in the next seat, she looked horrified, and admonished
me in a whisper that, while there was nothing immodest in the
performance, they were depraved, deceitful and dissolute creatures,
arrayed in gorgeous raiment for the purpose of enticing men. And
it is certainly true that they were clad in the most dazzling
costumes of gold brocades and gauzy stuffs that floated like
clouds around their heads and shoulders, and their ears, noses,
arms, ankles, necks, fingers and toes were all loaded with jewelry.
But their costumes were not half as gay as those worn by some
of the gentlemen guests. The Parsees wore black or white with
closely buttoned frocks and caps that look like fly-traps; the
Mohammedans wore flowing robes of white, and the Hindus silks
of the liveliest patterns and the most vivid colors. No ballroom
belle ever was enveloped by brighter tinted fabrics than the silks,
satins, brocades and velvets that were worn by the dignified
Hindu gentlemen at this wedding, and their jewels were such as
our richest women wear. A Hindu gentleman in full dress must
have a necklace, an aigrette of diamonds, a sunburst in front
of his turban, and two or three brooches upon his shoulders or
breast. And all this over bare legs and bare feet. They wear
slippers or sandals out of doors, but leave them in the hallway
or in the vestibule, and cross the threshold of the house in
naked feet. The bridegroom was bare legged, but had a pair of
embroidered slippers on his feet, because he was soon to take
a long walk and could not very well stop to put them on without
They brought us trays of native refreshments, while the nautch girls
danced, handed each guest a nosegay and placed a pair of cocoanuts
at his feet, which had some deep significance--I could not quite
understand what. The groom did not appear to be enjoying himself.
He looked very unhappy. He evidently did not like to sit up in a
gilded chair so that everybody could stare and make remarks about
him, for that is exactly what his guests were doing, criticising
his bare legs, commenting upon his jewels and guessing how much
his diamond necklace cost. He was quite relieved when a couple
of gentlemen, who seemed to be acting as masters of ceremonies,
placed a second garland of flowers around his neck--which one
of them whispered to me had just come from the bride, the first
one having been the gift of his mother--and led him out of the
room like a lamb to the slaughter.
When we reached the street a procession of the guests of honor
was formed, while policemen drove the crowd back. First came
the military band, then the masters of ceremonies--each having
a cane in his hand, with which he motioned back the crowd that
lined the road on both sides six or eight tiers deep. Then the
groom marched all alone with a dejected look on his face, and
his hands clasped before him. After him came the foreign guests,
two and two, as long as they were able to keep the formation,
but after going a hundred feet the crowd became so great and
were so anxious to see all that was going on, that they broke
the line and mixed up with the wedding party, and even surrounded
the solitary groom like a bodyguard, so that we who were coming
directly after could scarcely see him. The noisy music of the
band had aroused the entire neighborhood, and in the march to
the residence of the bride's family we passed between thousands
of spectators. The groom was exceedingly nervous. Although night
had fallen and the temperature was quite cool, the perspiration
was rolling down his face in torrents, and he was relieved when we
entered a narrow passage which bad been cleared by the policemen.
The bride's house was decorated in the same manner as the groom's,
and upon a tray in the middle of a big room a small slow fire of
perfumed wood was burning. The groom was led to the side of it,
and stood there, while the guests were seated around him--hooded
Hindu women on one side and men and foreign ladies on the other.
Then his trainers made him sit down on the floor, cross-legged,
like a tailor. Hindus seldom use chairs, or even cushions. Very
soon four Brahmins, or priests, appeared from somewhere in the
background and seated themselves on the opposite side of the
fire. They wore no robes, and were only half dressed. Two were
naked to the waist, as well as barefooted and barelegged. One,
who had his head shaved like a prize fighter and seemed to be
the officiating clergyman, had on what looked like a red flannel
shirt. He brought his tools with him, and conducted a mysterious
ceremony, which I cannot describe, because it was too long and
complicated, and I could not make any notes. A gentleman who
had been requested to look after me attempted to explain what
it meant, as the ceremony proceeded, but his English was very
imperfect, and I lost a good deal of the show trying to clear up
his meaning. While the chief priest was going through a ritual
his deputies chanted mournful and monotonous strains in a minor
key--repetitions of the same lines over and over again. They
were praying for the favor of the gods, and their approval of
After the groom had endured it alone for a while the bride was
brought in by her brother-in-law, who, since the death of her
father, has been the head of the household. He was clad in a
white gauze undershirt, with short sleeves, and the ordinary
Hindu robe wrapped around his waist, and hanging down to his
bare knees. The bride had a big bunch of pearls hanging from
her upper lip, gold and silver rings and anklets upon her bare
feet, and her head was so concealed under wrappings of shawls
that she would have smothered in the hot room had not one of
her playmates gone up and removed the coverings from her face.
This playmate was a lively matron of 14 years, a fellow pupil
at the missionary school, who had been married at the age of
9, so she knew all about it, and had adopted foreign manners
and customs sufficiently to permit her to go about among the
guests, chatting with both gentlemen and ladies with perfect
self-possession. She told us all about the bride, who was her
dearest friend, received and passed around the presents as they
arrived, and took charge of the proceedings.
The bride sat down on the floor beside the husband that had been
chosen for her and timidly clasped his hand while the priests
continued chanting, stopping now and then to breathe or to anoint
the foreheads of the couple, or to throw something on the fire. There
were bowls of several kinds of food, each having its significance,
and several kinds of plants and flowers, and incense, which was
thrown into the flames. At one time the chief priest arose from
the floor, stretched his legs and read a long passage from a
book, which my escort said was the sacred writing in Sanskrit
laying down rules and regulations for the government of Hindu
wives. But the bride and groom paid very little attention to
the priests or to the ceremony. After the first embarrassment
was over they chatted familiarly with their friends, both foreign
and native, who came and squatted down beside them. The bride's
mother came quietly into the circle after a while and sat down
beside her son-in-law--a slight woman, whose face was entirely
concealed. When the performance had been going on for about an
hour four more priests appeared and took seats in the background.
When I asked my guardian their object, he replied, sarcastically,
that it was money, that they were present as witnesses, and each
of them would expect a big fee as well as a good supper.
"Poor people get married with one priest," he added, "but rich
people have to have many. It costs a lot of money to get married."
Every now and then parcels were brought in by servants, and handed
to the bride, who opened them with the same eagerness that American
girls show about their wedding presents, but before she had been
given half a chance to examine them they were snatched away from
her and passed around. There were enough jewels to set the groom
up in business, for all the relatives on both sides are rich,
several beautifully embroidered shawls, a copy of Tennyson's
poems, a full set of Ruskin's works, a flexible covered Bible
from the bride's school teacher, and other gifts too numerous
to mention. The ceremony soon became tedious and the crowded
room was hot and stuffy. It was an ordeal for us to stay as long
as we did, and we endured it for a couple of hours, but it was
ten times worse for the bride and groom, for they had to sit on
the floor over the fire, and couldn't even stretch their legs.
They told us that it would take four hours more to finish the
ritual. So we asked our hosts to excuse us, offered our sympathy
and congratulations to the happy couple, who laughed and joked
with us in English, while the priests continued to sing and pray.
THE RELIGIONS OF INDIA
The most interesting of all the many religious sects in India are
the Parsees, the residue of one of the world's greatest creeds,
descendants of the disciples of Zoroaster, and the Persian fire
worshipers, who sought refuge in India from the persecution of
the all-conquering Mohammedans about the seventh century. They
have not increased and probably have diminished in numbers, but
have retained the faith of their fathers undefiled, which has
been described as "the most sublime expression of religious purity
and thought except the teachings of Christ." It is a curious
fact, however, that although the Parsees are commercially the
most enterprising people in India, and the most highly educated,
they have never attempted to propagate or even to make known
their faith to the world. It remained for Anquetil Duperron, a
young Frenchman, a Persian scholar, to translate the Zend Avesta,
which contains the teachings of Zoroaster, and may be called
the Parsee bible. And even now the highest authority in Parsee
theology and literature is Professor Jackson, who holds the chair
of oriental languages in Columbia University, New York. At this
writing Professor Jackson is in Persia engaged upon investigations
of direct interest to the Parsees, who have the highest regard
and affection for him, and perfect confidence in the accuracy
of his treatment of their theology in which they permit him to
The Parsees have undoubtedly made more stir in the world in
proportion to their population than any other race. They are
a small community, and number only 94,000 altogether, of whom
76,000 reside in Bombay. They are almost without exception
industrious and prosperous, nearly all being engaged in trade and
manufacturing, and to them the city of Bombay owes the greatest
part of its wealth and commercial influence.
While the Parsees teach pure and lofty morality, and are famous
for their integrity, benevolence, good thoughts, good works and
good deeds, their method of disposing of their dead is revolting.
For, stripped of every thread of clothing, the bodies of their
nearest and dearest are exposed to dozens of hungry vultures,
which quickly tear the flesh from the bones.
In a beautiful grove upon the top of a hill overlooking the city
of Bombay and the sea, surrounded by a high, ugly wall, are the
so-called Towers of Silence, upon which these hideous birds can
always be seen, waiting for their feast. They roost upon palm
trees in the neighborhood, and, often in their flight, drop pieces
of human flesh from their beaks or their talons, which lie rotting
in the fields below. An English lady driving past the Towers of
Silence was naturally horrified when the finger of a dead man
was dropped into her carriage by one of those awful birds; and
an army officer told me, that he once picked up by the roadside
the forearm and hand of a woman which had been torn from a body
only a few hours dead and had evidently fallen during a fight
between the birds. The reservoir which stores the water supply
of Bombay is situated upon the same hill, not more than half a
mile distant, and for obvious reasons had been covered with a
roof. Some years ago the municipal authorities, having had their
attention called to possible pollution of the water, notified
the Parsees that the Towers of Silence would have to be removed
to a distance from the city, but the rich members of that faith
preferred to pay the expense of roofing over the reservoir to
abandoning what to them is not only sacred but precious ground.
The human mind can adjust itself to almost any conditions and
associations, and a cultured Parsee will endeavor to convince
you by clever arguments that their method is not only humane and
natural, but the best sanitary method ever devised of disposing
of the dead.
Funeral ceremonies are held at the residence of the dead; prayers
are offered and eulogies are pronounced. Then a procession is
formed and the hearse is preceded by priests and followed by
the male members of the family and by friends. The body is not
placed in a coffin, but is covered with rich shawls and vestments.
When the gateway of the outer temple is reached, priests who
are permanently attached to the Towers of Silence and reside
within the inclosure, meet the procession and take charge of
the body, which is first carried to a temple, where prayers are
offered, and a sacred fire, kept continually burning there, is
replenished. While the friends and mourners are engaged in worship,
Nasr Salars, as the attendants are called, take the bier to the
ante-room of one of the towers. There are five, of circular shape,
with walls forty feet high, perfectly plain, and whitewashed.
The largest is 276 feet in circumference and cost $150,000. The
entrance is about fifteen or twenty feet from the ground and is
reached by a flight of steps. The inside plan of the building
resembles a circular gridiron gradually depressed toward the
center, at which there is a pit, five feet in diameter. From
this pit cement walks radiate like the spokes of a wheel, and
between them are three series of compartments extending around
the entire tower. Those nearest the center are about four feet
long, two feet wide and six inches deep. The next series are a
little larger, and the third, larger still, and they are intended
respectively for men, women and children.
When the bearers have brought the body into the anteroom of the
tower they strip it entirely of its clothing. Valuable coverings
are carefully laid away and sent to the chamber of purification,
where they are thoroughly fumigated, and afterward returned to
the friends. The cotton wrappings are burned. The body is laid
in one of the compartments entirely naked, and in half an hour
the flesh is completely stripped from the bones by voracious
birds that have been eagerly watching the proceedings from the
tops of the tall palms that overlook the cemetery. There are
about two hundred vultures around the place; most of them are
old birds and are thoroughly educated. They know exactly what
to expect, and behave with greatest decorum. They never enter
the tower until the bearers have left it, and usually are as
deliberate and solemn in their movements as a lot of undertakers.
But sometimes, when they are particularly hungry, their greed
gets the better of their dignity and they quarrel and fight over
After the bones are stripped they are allowed to lie in the sun
and bleach and decay until the compartment they occupy is needed
for another body, when the Nasr Salars enter with gloves and
tongs and cast them into the central pit, where they finally
crumble into dust. The floor of the tower is so arranged that all
the rain that falls upon it passes into the pit, and the moisture
promotes decomposition. The bottom of the pit is perforated and
the water impregnated with the dust from the bones is filtered
through charcoal and becomes thoroughly disinfected before it
is allowed to pass through a sewer into the bay. The pits are
the receptacles of the dust of generations, and I am told that
so much of it is drained off by the rainfall, as described, that
they have never been filled. The carriers are not allowed to
leave the grounds, and when a man engages in that occupation
he must retire forever from the world, as much as if he were
a Trappist monk. Nor can he communicate with anyone except the
priests who have charge of the temple.
The grounds are beautifully laid out. No money or labor has been
spared to make them attractive, and comfortable benches have
been placed along the walks where relatives and friends may sit
and converse or meditate after the ceremonies are concluded.
The Parsees are firm believers in the resurrection, and they
expect their mutilated bodies to rise again glorified and
incorruptible. The theory upon which their peculiar custom is
based is veneration for the elements. Fire is the chief object
of their worship, and they cannot allow it to be polluted by
burning the dead; water is almost as sacred, and the soil of
the earth is the source of their food, their strength and almost
everything that is beautiful. Furthermore, they believe in the
equality of all creatures before God, and hence the dust of the
rich and the poor mingles in the pit.
Parsee temples are very plain and the form of worship is extremely
simple. None but members of the faith are admitted. The interior
of the temple is almost empty, except for a reading desk occupied
by the priest. The walls are without the slightest decoration and
are usually whitewashed. The sacred fire, the emblem of spiritual
life, which is never extinguished, is kept in a small recess
in a golden receptacle, and is attended by priests without
interruption. They relieve each other every two hours, but the
fire is never left alone.
The Mohammedans have many mosques in Bombay, but none of them
is of particular interest. The Hindu or Brahmin temples are also
commonplace, with two exceptions. One of them, known as the Monkey
Temple, is covered with carved images of monkeys and other animals.
There are said to be 300 of them, measuring from six inches to
two feet in height. The other is the "Walkeshwar," dedicated to
the "Sand Lord" occupying a point upon the shore of the bay not
far from the water. It has been a holy place for many centuries.
The legend says that not long after the creation of the world
Rama, one of the most powerful of the gods, while on his way
to Ceylon to recover Stia, his bride, who had been kidnaped,
halted and camped there for a night and went through various
experiences which make a long and tedious story, but of profound
interest to Hindu theologians and students of mythology. The
temple is about 150 years old, but does not compare with those
in other cities of India. It is surrounded by various buildings
for the residence of the Brahmins, lodging places for pilgrims
and devotees, which are considered excellent examples of Hindu
architecture. Several wealthy families have cottages on the grounds
which they occupy for a few days each year on festival occasions
or as retreats.
[Illustration: BODY READY FOR THE FUNERAL PYRE--BOMBAY BURNING
Upon the land side of the boulevard which skirts the shore of
the bay, not far from the university of Bombay, is the burning
ghat of the Hindus, where the bodies of their dead are cremated
in the open air and in a remarkably rude and indifferent manner.
The proceedings may be witnessed by any person who takes the
trouble to visit the place and has the patience to wait for the
arrival of a body. It is just as public as a burial in any cemetery
in the United States. Bodies are kept only a few hours after
death. Those who die at night are burned the first thing in the
morning, so that curious people are usually gratified if they
visit the place early. Immediately after a poor Hindu sufferer
breathes his last the family retire and professional undertakers
are brought in. The latter bathe the body carefully, dress it
in plain white cotton cloth, wrap it in a sheet, with the head
carefully concealed, place it upon a rude bier made of two bamboo
poles and cross pieces, with a net work of ropes between, and
four men, with the ends of the poles on their shoulders, start
for the burning ghat at a dog trot, singing a mournful song.
Sometimes they are followed by the sons or the brothers of the
deceased, who remain through the burning to see that it is properly
done, but more often that duty is entrusted to an employe or a
servant or some humble friend of the family in whom they have
confidence. Arriving at the burning ghat, negotiations are opened
with the superintendent or manager, for they are usually private
enterprises or belong to corporations and are conducted very
much like our cemeteries. The cheapest sort of fire that can be
provided costs two rupees, which is sixty-six cents in American
money, and prices range from that amount upwards according to the
caste and the wealth of the family. When a rich man's body is
burned sandal-wood and other scented fuel is used and sometimes
the fire is very expensive. After an agreement is reached coolies
employed on the place make a pile of wood, one layer pointing
one way and the next crossed at right angles, a hole left in
the center being filled with kindling and quick-burning reeds.
The body is lifted from the bier and placed upon it, then more
wood is piled on and the kindling is lit with a torch. If there
is plenty of dry fuel the corpse is reduced to ashes in about
two hours. Usually the ashes are claimed by friends, who take
them to the nearest temple and after prayers and other ceremonies
cast them into the waters of the bay.
The death rate in Bombay is very large. The bubonic plague prevails
there with a frightful mortality. Hence cremation is safer than
burial. In the province of Bombay the total deaths from all diseases
average about 600,000 a year, and you can calculate what an enormous
area would be required for cemeteries. In 1900, on account of
the famine, the deaths ran up to 1,318,783, and in 1902 they
were more than 800,000. Of these 128,259 were from the plague,
13,600 from cholera, 5,340 from smallpox, and 2,212 from other
contagious diseases. Hence the burning ghats were very useful,
for at least 80 percent of the dead were Brahmins and their bodies
were disposed of in that way.
It is difficult to give an accurate idea of Brahminism in a brief
manner, but theoretically it is based upon the principles set
forth in a series of sacred books known as the Vedas, written
about 4,000 years ago. Its gods were originally physical forces
and phenomena--nature worship,--which was once common to all
men, the sun, fire, water, light, wind, the procreative and
productive energies and the mystery of sex and birth, which impressed
with wonder and awe the mind of primitive humanity. As these
deities became more and more vague and indefinite in the popular
mind, and the simple, instinctive appeal of the human soul to
a Power it could not see or comprehend was gradually debased
into what is now known as Brahminism, and the most repugnant,
revolting, cruel, obscene and vicious rites ever practiced by
savages or barbarians. There is nothing in the Vedas to justify
the cruelties of the Hindu gods and the practices of the priests.
They do not authorize animal worship, caste, child-marriage,
the burning of widows or perpetual widowhood, but the Brahmins
have built up a stupendous system of superstition, of which they
alone pretend to know the mystic meaning, and their supremacy is
established. Thus the nature worship of the Vedas has disappeared
and has given place to terrorism, demon worship, obscenity, and
The three great gods of the Hindus are Siva, Vishnu and Brahma,
with innumerable minor deities, some 30,000,000 altogether, which
have been created during emergencies from time to time by worshipers
of vivid imaginations. When we speak of Hinduism or Brahminism as
a religion, however, it is only a conventional use of a term,
because it is not a religion in the sense that we are accustomed
to apply that word. In all other creeds there is an element of
ethics; morality, purity, justice and faith in men, but none of
these qualities is taught by the Brahmins. With them the fear
of unseen powers and the desire to obtain their favor is the
only rule of life and the only maxim taught to the people. And
it is the foundation upon which the influence and power of the
Brahmins depend. The world and all its inhabitants are at the
mercy of cruel, fickle and unjust gods; the gods are under the
influence of the Brahmins; hence the Brahmins are holy men and
must be treated accordingly. No Hindu will offend a Brahmin under
any circumstances, lest his curse may call down all forms of
misfortune. A Hindu proverb says:
"What is in the Brahmin's books, that is in the Brahmin's heart.
Neither you nor I knew there was so much evil in the world."
The power of the priests or Brahmins over the Hindus is one of
the phenomena of India. I do not know where you can get a better
idea of their influence and of the reverence that is paid to
them than in "Kim," Rudyard Kipling's story of an Irish boy who
was a disciple of an old Thibetan lama or Buddhist monk. That
story is appreciated much more keenly by people who have lived
or traveled in India, because it appeals to them. There is a
familiar picture on every page, and it is particularly valuable
as illustrating the relations between the Brahmins and the people.
"These priests are invested," said one of the ablest writers on
Indian affairs, "with a reverence which no extreme of abject
poverty, no infamy of private conduct can impair, and which is
beyond anything that a mind not immediately conversant with the
fact can conceive. They are invariably addressed with titles of
divinity, and are paid the highest earthly honors. The oldest
and highest members of other castes implore the blessing of the
youngest and poorest of theirs; they are the chosen recipients
of all charities, and are allowed a license in their private
relations which would be resented as a deadly injury in any but
This reverence is largely due to superstitions which the Brahmins
do their best to cultivate and encourage. There are 30,000,000
gods in the Hindu pantheon, and each attends to the affairs of his
own particular jurisdiction. Most of them are wicked, cruel and
unkind, and delight in bringing misfortunes upon their devotees,
which can only be averted by the intercession of a priest. Gods and
demons haunt every hill and grove and gorge and dark corner. Their
names are usually unknown, but they go on multiplying as events
or incidents occur to which the priests can give a supernatural
interpretation. These gods are extremely sensitive to disrespect
or neglect, and unless they are constantly propitiated they will
bring all sorts of disasters. The Brahmin is the only man who
knows how to make them good-natured. He can handle them exactly
as he likes, and they will obey his will. Hence the superstitious
peasants yield everything, their money, their virtue, their lives,
as compensation for the intercession of the priests in their
The census of 1901 returned 2,728,812 priests, which is an average
of one for every seventy-two members of the Hindu faith, and
it is believed that, altogether, there are more than 9,000,000
persons including monks, nuns, ascetics, fakirs, sorcerers, chelas,
and mendicants or various kinds and attendants employed about
the temples who are dependent upon the public for support. A
large part of the income of the pious Hindu is devoted to the
support of priests and the feeding of pilgrims. Wherever you
see it, wherever you meet it, and especially when you come in
contact with it as a sightseer, Brahminism excites nothing but
pity, indignation and abhorrence.
Buddhism is very different, although Buddha lived and died a
Hindu, and the members of that sect still claim that he was the
greatest, the wisest and the best of all Brahmins. No two religions
are so contradictory and incompatible as that taught by Buddha and
the modern teachings of the Brahmins. The underlying principles of
Buddha's faith are love, charity, self-sacrifice, unselfishness,
universal brotherhood and spiritual and physical purity. He believed
in none of the present practices of the Hindu priests. There is
a striking resemblance between the teachings of Buddha and the
teachings of Christ. Passages in the New Testament, reporting
the words of the Savior, seem like plagiarisms from the maxims of
Buddha, and, indeed, Buddhist scholars tell of a myth concerning
a young Jew who about five centuries after Buddha, and twenty
centuries ago, came from Syria with a caravan and spent several
years under instruction in a Buddhist monastery in Thibet. Thus
they account for the silence of the scriptures concerning the
doings of Christ between the ages of 12 and 20, and for the
similarity between his sermons and those preached by the founder
of their religion. Buddha taught that good actions bring happiness
and bad actions misery; that selfishness is the cause of sin,
sorrow and suffering, and that the abolition of self, sacrifices
for others and the suppression of passions and desires is the
only true plan of salvation. He died 543 years before Jesus was
born, and within the next two centuries his teachings were accepted
by two-thirds of the people of India, but by the tenth century
of our era they had been forgotten, and a great transformation
had taken place among the Indo-Ayran races, who began to worship
demons instead of angels and teach fear instead of hope, until
now there are practically no Buddhists in India with the exception
of the Burmese, who are almost unanimous in the confession of
that faith. It is a singular phenomenon that Buddhism should
so disappear from the land of its birth, although 450,000,000
of the human race still turn to its founder with pure affection
as the wisest of teachers and the noblest of ideals.
The teachings of Buddha survive in a sect known as the Jains,
founded by Jina, or Mahavira, a Buddhist priest, about a thousand
years ago, as a protest against the cruel encroachments of the
Hindus. Jina was a Perfect One, who subdued all worldly desires;
who lived an unselfish life, practiced the golden rule, harmed
no living thing, and attained the highest aim of the soul, right
knowledge, right conduct, temperance, sobriety, chastity and a
There are now 1,334,148 Jains in India, and among them are the
wealthiest, most highly cultured and most charitable of all people.
They carry their love of life to extremes. A true believer will
not harm an insect, not even a mosquito or a flea. All Hindus
are kind to animals, except when they ill treat them through
ignorance, as is often the case. The Brahmins represent that
murder, robbery, deception and every other form of crime and
vice may be committed in the worship of their gods. They teach
that the gods themselves are guilty of the most hideous depravity,
and that the sacrifice of wives, children, brothers, sisters
and friends to convenience or expediency for selfish ends is
justifiable. Indeed, the British government has been compelled to
interfere and prohibit the sacrifice of human life to propitiate
the Hindu gods. It has suppressed the thugs, who, as you have
read, formerly went about the country killing people in order
to acquire holiness; it has prohibited the awful processions
of the car of Juggernaut, before which hysterical fanatics used
to throw their own bodies, and the bodies of their children, to
be crushed under the iron wheels, in the hope of pleasing some
monster among their deities. The suppression of infanticide,
which is still encouraged by the Brahmins, is now receiving the
vigilant attention of the authorities.
Every effort has been made during the last fifty years to prevent
the awful cruelties to human beings that formerly were common in
Hindu worship, but no police intervention has ever been necessary
to protect dumb animals; nobody was ever punished for cruelty to
them; on the contrary, animal worship is one of the most general
of practices among the Hindus, and many beasts and reptiles are
sacred. But the Jains go still further and establish hospitals
for aged and infirm animals. You can see them in Bombay, in Delhi,
Lucknow, Calcutta and other places where the Jains are strong.
Behind their walls may be found hundreds of decrepit horses,
diseased cows and bullocks, many dogs and cats and every kind of
sick, lame and infirm beast. Absurd stories are told strangers
concerning the extremes to which this benevolence is carried,
and some of them have actually appeared in published narratives
of travel in India. One popular story is that when a flea lights
upon the body of a Jain he captures it carefully, puts it in
a receptacle and sends it to an asylum where fat coolies are
hired to sit around all day and night and allow fleas, mosquitoes
and other insects to feed upon them. But although untrue, these
ridiculous stories are valuable as illustrating the principles
in which the Jains believe. They are strict vegetarians. The
true believers will not kill an animal or a fish or a bird, or
anything that breathes, for any purpose, and everybody can see
that they strictly practice what they preach.
His most gracious majesty, King of Great Britain and Ireland and
Emperor of India, has more Mohammedan subjects than the Great
Turk or any other ruler. They numbered 62,458,061 at the last
census. They are a clean, manly, honorable and industrious portion
of the population. Commercially they do not rank as high as the
Parsees, who number only 94,190, or the Jains, who number 1,334,148,
but are vastly superior to the Hindus from any point of view.
They are not so ignorant nor so filthy nor so superstitious nor
so submissive to their priests. They are self-respecting and
independent, and while the believers in no other creed are more
scrupulous in the performance of their religious duties, they
are not in any measure under the control or the dictation of
their mullahs. They have their own schools, called kuttebs, they
take care of their own poor very largely; drunkenness and gambling
are very rare among them. They are hospitable, kind to animals
and generous. The difference between the Mohammedans and the
Hindus may be seen in the most forcible manner in their temples.
It is an old saying that while one god created all men, each
man creates his own god, and that is strikingly true among the
ignorant, superstitious people of the East. The Hindu crouches in
a shadow to escape the attention of his god, while the Mohammedan
publicly prays to his five times a day in the nearest mosque,
and if no mosque is near he kneels where he stands, and takes
full satisfaction in a religion of hope instead of fear.
From the political standpoint the Mohammedans are a very important
factor in the situation in India. They are more independent than the
Hindus; they occupy a more influential position than their numbers
entitle them to; they have most profound pride in their religion
and race, and in their social and intellectual superiority, and
the more highly they are educated the more manly, self-reliant and
independent they become, and the feeling between the Mohammedans
and the Hindus is bitterly hostile. So much so as to make them
a bulwark of the government. Several authorities told me that
Mohammedans make the best officials in the service and can be
trusted farther than any other class, but, speaking generally,
Islam has been corrupted and debased in India just as it has
been everywhere else.
One of the results of this corruption is the sect known as Sikhs,
which numbers about 2,195,268. It thrives best in the northern
part of India, and furnishes the most reliable policemen and
the best soldiers for the native army. The Sikhs retain much
that is good among the teachings of Mohammed, but have a bible
of their own, called the Abi-granth, made up of the sermons of
Nanak, the founder of the sect, who died in the year 1530. It
is full of excellent moral precepts; it teaches the brotherhood
of man, the equality of the sexes; it rejects caste, and embraces
all of the good points in Buddhism, with a pantheism that is
very confusing. It would seem that the Sikhs worship all gods
who are good to men, and reject the demonology of the Hindus.
They believe in one Supreme Being, with attributes similar to the
Allah of the Mohammedans, and recognize Mohammed as his prophet
and exponent of his will. They have also adopted several Hindu
deities in a sort of indirect way, although the Sikhs strictly
prohibit idolatry. Their worship is pure and simple. Their temples
are houses of prayer, where they, meet, sing hymns, repeat a
ritual and receive pieces of "karah prasad," a consecrated pastry,
which means "the effectual offering." They are tolerant, and
not only admit strangers to their worship, but invite them to
participate in their communion.
The morning we arrived in Agra we swallowed a hasty breakfast
and hurried off to the great mosque to witness the ceremonies
of what might be termed the Mohammedan Easter, although the
anniversary has an entirely different significance. The month
of Ramadan is spent by the faithful followers of the Prophet
in a long fast, and the night before it is broken, called
Lailatul-Kadr, or "night of power," is celebrated in rejoicing,
because it is the night on which the Koran is supposed to have
come down from heaven. In the morning following, which is as
much a day of rejoicing as our Christmas, the men of Islam gather
at the mosques and engage in a service of thanksgiving to Allah
for the blessings they and their families have enjoyed during
the year past, and pray for a repetition of the same mercies for
the year to come. This festival is called the "Idu I-Fitr," and
we were fortunate enough to witness one of the most impressive
spectacles I have ever seen. Women never appear, but the entire
male population, with their children assembled at the great park
which surrounds the mosque, clad in festival attire, each bringing
a prayer rug to spread upon the ground. About ten thousand persons
of all ages and all classes came on foot and in all sorts of
vehicles, with joyous voices and congratulations to each other
that seemed hearty enough to include the whole world. Taking
advantage of their good humor and the thankful spirits hundreds
of beggars were squatting along the roadside and appealing to
every passerby in pitiful tones. And nearly everyone responded.
Some people brought bags of rice, beans and wheat; others brought
cakes and bread, but the greater number invested in little sea
shells which are used in the interior of India as currency, and
one hundred of them are worth a penny.
Rich people filled their pockets with these shells and scattered
them by handsful among the crowd, and the shrieking beggars scrambled
for them on the ground. There were long lines of food peddlers,
with portable stoves, and tables upon which were spread morsels
which the natives of India considered delicacies, but they were
not very tempting to us. The food peddlers drove a profitable
trade because almost every person present had been fasting for
a lunar month and had a sharp appetite to satisfy. After the
services the rich and the poor ate together, masters and servants,
because Mohammed knew no caste, and it was an interesting sight
to see the democratic spirit of the worshipers, for the rich
and the poor, the master and the servant, knelt down side by
side upon the same rug or strip of matting and bowed their heads
to the ground in homage of the God that made them all. Families
came together in carriages, bullock carts, on the backs of camels,
horses, mules, donkeys, all the male members of the household
from the baby to the grandfather, and were attended by all men
servants of the family or the farm. They washed together at the
basins where the fountains were spouting more joyously than usual,
and then moved forward, laughing and chattering, toward the great
mosque, selected places which seemed most convenient, spread
their rugs, matting, blankets and sheets upon the ground, sat in
long rows facing Mecca, and gossiped cheerfully together until
the great high priest, surrounded by mullahs or lower priests,
appeared in front of the Midrab, the place in every mosque from
which the Koran is read, and shouted for attention.
Ram Zon, one of our "bearers," who is a Mohammedan, disappeared
without permission or notice early in the morning, and did not
report for duty that day. His piety was greater than his sense of
obligation to his employers, and I saw him in the crowd earnestly
going through the violent exercise which attends the worship of
[Illustration: MOHAMMEDANS AT PRAYER]
When the hour for commencing the ceremony drew near the entire
courtyard, several acres in extent, was covered with worshipers
arranged in rows about eight feet apart from north to south,
all facing the west, with their eyes toward Mecca in expectant
attitudes. The sheikh has a powerful voice, and by long experience
has acquired the faculty of throwing it a long distance, and,
as he intoned the service, mullahs were stationed at different
points to repeat his words so that everybody could hear. The
first sound was a long wailing cry like the call of the muezzeins
from the minarets at the hour of prayer. It was for the purpose
of concentrating the attention of the vast audience which arose
to its feet and stood motionless with hands clasped across their
breasts. Then, as the reading proceeded, the great crowd, in perfect
unison, as if it had practiced daily for months, performed the
same motions one after the other. It was a remarkable exhibition
of precision. No army of well drilled troops could have done
The following were the motions, each in response to the intonation
of a prayer by the high priest:
1. Both hands to forehead, palms and fingers together, in the
attitude of prayer.
2. Bend body forward at right angles, three times in succession,
keeping hands in the same position.
3. Return to upright position, with hands lowered to the breast.
4. Bow head three times to the ground.
5. Rise and stand motionless with hands at sides.
6. Hands lifted to ears and returned to side, motions three times
7. Body at right angles again, with hands clasped at forehead.
8. Body erect, kneel and bow forward, touching the forehead three
times to the earth.
9. Fall back upon knees and with folded hands.
10. Rise, stand at attention with clasped hands until the cry
of the mullah announced that the ceremony was over; whereupon
everybody turned to embrace his family and friends in a most
affectionate manner, again and again. Some were crying, some
were laughing, and all seemed to be in a state of suppressed
excitement. Their emotions had been deeply stirred, and long fasting
is apt to produce hysteria.
The boom of a cannon in a neighboring fortress, was a signal
that the obligations of Ramadan had been fulfilled, that the
fast was broken, and thousands of people rushed pell-mell to
the eating stands to gorge themselves with sweetmeats and other
food. The more dignified and aristocratic portion of the crowd
calmly sat down again upon their rugs and mats and watched their
servants unload baskets of provisions upon tablecloths, napkins
and trays which they spread upon the ground. Not less than seven
or eight thousand persons indulged in this picnic, but there was
no wine or beer; nothing stronger than tea or coffee, because
the Koran forbids it. And after their feast at the mosque the
rest of the day was spent in rejoicing. Gay banners of all colors
were displayed from the windows of Mohammedan houses, festoons
of flowers were hung over the doors, and from the windowsills;
boys were seen rushing through the streets loaded with bouquets
sent from friend to friend with compliments and congratulations;
firecrackers were exploded in the gardens and parks, and during
the evening displays of fireworks were made to entertain the
Moslem population, who were assembled in each other's houses
or at their favorite cafes, or were promenading the streets,
singing and shouting and behaving very much as our people do on
the Fourth of July.
HOW INDIA IS GOVERNED
The present form of government in India was adopted in 1858,
after the terrible Sepoy mutiny had demonstrated the inability of
the East India Company to control affairs. By an act of parliament
all territory, revenues, tributes and property of that great
corporation, which had a monopoly of the Indian trade, and, next
to the Hanseatic League of Germany, was the greatest Trust ever
formed, were vested in the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland,
who in 1876 assumed the additional title of Empress of India. The
title and authority were inherited by Edward VII. He governs through
the Secretary of State for India, who is a Cabinet minister, and
a Council of not less than ten members, nine of whom must have
the practical knowledge and experience gained by a residence of at
least ten years in India and not more than ten years previous to
the date of their appointment. This Council is more of an advisory
than an executive body. It has no initiative or authority, but
is expected to confer with and review the acts of the Secretary
of State for India, who can make no grants or appropriations
from the revenues or decide any questions of importance without
the concurrence of a majority of its members. The Council meets
every week in London, receives reports and communications and
acts upon them.
The supreme authority in India is the Viceroy, the direct personal
representative of the emperor in all his relations with his
300,000,000 Indian subjects; but, as a matter of convenience,
he makes his reports to and receives his instructions from the
Secretary of State for India, who represents that part of the
empire both in the ministry and in parliament. The present viceroy
is the Right Honorable George Nathaniel Curzon, who was raised
to the peerage in October, 1898, as Baron Curzon of Kedleston.
He is the eldest son of Lord Scarsdale, was born Jan. 11, 1859,
was educated at Eton and Oxford; selected journalism as his
profession; became correspondent of the London Times in China,
India and Persia; was elected to parliament from Lancashire in
1886, and served until 1898; was private secretary to the Marquis
of Salisbury, and under-secretary of state for India in 1891-92;
under-secretary of state for foreign affairs in 1895-98; married
Mary Leiter, daughter of Mr. L. Z. Leiter of Washington and Chicago,
in 1895, and was appointed viceroy of India to succeed the Earl
of Elgin, September, 1898.
There have been twenty-five viceroys or governors general of
India since Warren Hastings in 1774, and the list includes some
of the ablest statesmen in English history, but Lord Curzon is
the only man in the list who has ever been his own successor.
When his first term expired in September, 1903, he was immediately
reappointed for another five years. Whether he continues through
the second term depends upon certain contingencies, but it is
entirely probable that he will remain, because he has undertaken
certain reforms and enterprises that he desires to complete. His
administration has been not only a conspicuous but a remarkable
success. Although he has been severely criticised for his
administrative policy and many of his official acts have been
opposed and condemned, the sources from which the criticisms
have come often corroborate the wisdom and confirm the success
of the acts complained of. Lord Cornwallis was twice Governor
General of India, but there was a long interval between his terms,
the first beginning in 1786 and the second in 1805. He is the only
man except Lord Curzon who has been twice honored by appointment
to the highest office and the greatest responsibility under the
British crown except that of the prime minister.
The Viceroy is assisted in the administration of the government
by a cabinet or council of five members, selected by himself,
subject to the approval of the king. Each member is assigned to
the supervision of one of the executive departments,--finance,
military, public works, revenue, agriculture and legislative.
The viceroy himself takes personal charge of foreign affairs.
The commander in chief of the army in India, at present Lord
Kitchener, is ex-officio member of the council.
For legislative purposes the council is expanded by the addition of
ten members, appointed by the Viceroy from among the most competent
British and native residents of India upon the recommendation
of provincial, industrial and commercial bodies. The remaining
members are the heads of the various executive departments of the
government. By these men, who serve for a period of five years,
and whose proceedings are open to the public and are reported and
printed verbatim, like the proceedings of Congress, the laws
governing India are made, subject to the approval of the Viceroy,
who retains the right of veto, and in turn is responsible to
the British parliament and to the king.
Thus it will be seen that the system of government in India is
simple and liberal. The various industries and financial interests,
and all of the great provinces which make up the empire, have a
voice in framing the laws that apply to the people at large;
but for convenience the territory is divided into nine great
provinces, as follows:
Madras, with a governor whose salary is $40,000 a year.
Bombay, whose governor receives the same salary.
Bengal, with a lieutenant governor; salary, $33,000.
United Provinces, lieutenant governor; salary, $33,000.
Punjab, lieutenant governor; salary, $33,000.
Burma, lieutenant governor; salary, $33,000.
Assam, chief commissioner; salary, $16,500.
Central Provinces, chief commissioner, $16,500.
Northwestern Frontier Province, governed by an agent to the governor
general, whose salary is $16,500.
The governors of Bombay and Madras are appointed by the king;
the lieutenant governors and commissioners by the Viceroy. All of
them have legislative councils and complete executive organizations
similar to that of the general government at Calcutta. Each makes
its own local laws and enjoys administrative independence similar to
that of the states of the American Union, and is seldom interfered
with by the Viceroy or the authorities in London, the purpose
being to encourage home rule as far as possible. The provinces
are divided into districts, which are the units of administration,
and each district is under the control of an executive officer,
who is responsible to the governor of the province.
Exclusive of the great provinces named are eighty-two of the
ancient principalities, most of them retaining their original
boundaries, governed by native chiefs, who are allowed more or
less independence, according to their ability, wisdom and zeal.
The control exercised by the central government varies in the
different states, but there are certain general rules which are
applied to all. The native princes have no right to make war or
peace, or communicate officially with each other or with foreign
governments except through the Viceroy. They are permitted to
maintain a limited independent military force; they are allowed
to impose a certain amount of taxes; no European is allowed to
reside at their courts without their consent, but commerce, trade,
industry, education, religious worship, the press and other rights
and privileges are free to all just as much as in England or the
United States. The native chiefs are not permitted to interfere with
the judiciary, which has a separate and independent organization,
as in Great Britain, with the Viceroy and the council of state
corresponding to the House of Lords, as the highest court of
appeal. Each native chief is "assisted" in his government by a
"Resident," who is appointed by and reports to the Viceroy, and
is expected to guide the policy and official acts of the native
ruler with tact and delicacy. He remains in the background as much
as possible, assumes no authority and exercises no prerogatives,
but serves as a sort of ambassador from the Viceroy and friendly
adviser to the native prince.
The following is a list of the ruling native princes in the order
of their rank as recognized by the British government, and the
salutes to which they are entitled:
Salute of twenty-one guns--
Baroda, the Maharaja (Gaikwar) of.
Hyderabad, the Nizam of.
Mysore, the Maharaja of.
Salute of nineteen guns--
Bhopal, the Begam (or Newab) of.
Gwalior, the Maharaja (Singhai) of.
Indore, the Maharaja (Holkar) of.
Jammu and Kashmire, the Maharaja of.
Kalat, the Khan of.
Kolhapur, the Maharaja of.
Mewar (Udaipur), the Maharaja of.
Travancore, the Maharaja of.
Salute of seventeen guns--
Bahawalpur, the Nawab of.
Bharatpur, the Maharaja of.
Bikanir, the Maharaja of.
Bundi, the Maharao Raja of.
Cochin, the Raja of.
Cutch, the Rao of.
Jeypore, the Maharaja of.
Karauli, the Maharaja of.
Kota, the Maharao of.
Marwar (Jodhpur), the Maharaja of.
Patiala, the Maharaja of.
Rewa, the Maharaja of.
Tonk, the Newab of.
Salute of fifteen guns--
Alwar, the Maharaja of.
Banswara, the Maharawal of.
Datia, the Maharaja of.
Dewas (senior branch), the Raja of.
Dewas (junior branch), the Raja of.
Dhar, the Raja of.
Dholpur, the Maharaja Rana of.
Dungarpur, the Maharawal of.
Idar, the Maharaja of.
Jaisalmir, the Maharawal of.
Khairpur, the Mir of.
Kishangarh, the Maharaja of.
Orchha, the Maharaja of.
Partabgarth, the Marharawat of.
Sikkam, the Maharaja of.
Sirohi, the Maharao of.
Salute of thirteen guns--
Benares, the Raja of.
Cooch Behar, the Maharaja of.
Jaora, the Nawab of.
Rampur, the Newab of.
Tippera, the Raja of.
Salute of eleven guns--
Agaigarh, the Maharaja of.
Baoni, the Newab of.
Bhaunagar, the Thakur Sahib of.
Bijawar, the Maharaja of.
Cambay, the Nawab of.
Chamba, the Raja of.
Charkhari, the Maharaja of.
Chhatarpur, the Raja of.
Faridkot, the Raja of.
Gondal, the Thakur Sahib of.
Janjira, the Newab of.
Jhabua, the Raja of.
Jahllawar, the Raj-Rana of.
Jind, the Raja of.
Gunagarth, the Newab of.
Kahlur, the Rajah of.
Kapurthala, the Raja of.
Mandi, the Raja of.
Manipur, the Raja of.
Morvi, the Thakur Sahib of.
Nabha, the Raja of.
Narsingarh, the Raja of.
Nawanagar, the Jam of.
Palanpur, the Diwan of.
Panna, the Maharaja of.
Porbandar, the Rana of.
Pudukota, the Raja of.
Radhanpur, the Newab of.
Rajgarth, the Raja of.
Rajpipla, the Raja of.
Ratlam, the Raja of.
Sailana, the Raja of.
Samthar, the Raja of.
Sirmur (Nahan), the Raja of.
Sitamau, the Raja of.
Suket, the Raja of.
Tehri (Garhwal), the Raja of.
The Viceroy has a veto over the acts of the native princes as
he has over those of the provincial governors, and can depose
them at will, but such heroic measures are not adopted except
in extreme cases of bad behavior or misgovernment. Lord Curzon
has deposed two rajahs during the five years he has been Viceroy,
but his general policy has been to stimulate their ambitions,
to induce them to adopt modern ideas and methods and to educate
Within the districts are municipalities which have local magistrates
and councils, commissioners, district and local boards and other
bodies for various purposes similar to those of our county and
city organizations. The elective franchise is being extended in
more or less degree, according to circumstances, all over India,
suffrage being conferred upon taxpayers only. The municipal boards
have care of the roads, water supply, sewerage, sanitation, public
lighting, markets, schools, hospitals and other institutions
and enterprises of public utility. They impose taxes, collect
revenues and expend them subject to the approval of the provincial
governments. In all of the large cities a number of Englishmen
and other foreigners are members of boards and committees and
take an active part in local administration, but in the smaller
towns and villages the government is left entirely to natives,
who often show conspicuous capacity.
The policy of Lord Curzon has been to extend home rule and
self-government as rapidly and as far as circumstances will justify.
The population of India is a dense, inert, ignorant, depraved and
superstitious mass of beings whose actions are almost entirely
controlled by signs and omens, and by the dictation of the Brahmin
priests. They are therefore not to be trusted with the control
of their own affairs, but there is a gradual and perceptible
improvement in their condition, which is encouraged by the
authorities in every possible way. And as fast as they show
themselves competent they are trusted with the responsibility
of the welfare of themselves and their neighbors. The habitual
attitude of the Hindu is crouching upon the ground. The British
government is trying to raise him to a standing posture, to make
him a man instead of the slave of his superstitions.
No one can visit India, no one can read its history or study
its statistics, without admitting the success and recognizing
the blessings of British occupation. The government has had its
ups and downs. There have been terrible blunders and criminal
mistakes, which we are in danger of repeating in the Philippine
Islands, but the record of British rule during the last
half-century--since the Sepoy mutiny, which taught a valuable
lesson at an awful cost--has been an almost uninterrupted and
unbroken chapter of peace, progress and good government. Until
then the whole of India never submitted to a single ruler. For
nearly a thousand years it was a perpetual battlefield, and not
since the invasion of Alexander the Great have the people enjoyed
such liberty or tranquillity as they do today. Three-eighths
of the country still remains under the authority of hereditary
native rulers with various degrees of independence. Foreigners
have very little conception of the extent and the power of the
native government. We have an indefinable impression that the
rajah is a sensuous, indolent, extravagant sybarite, given to
polo, diamonds and dancing girls, and amputates the heads of
his subjects at pleasure; but that is very far from the truth.
Many of the princes in the list just given, are men of high
character, culture and integrity, who exercise a wise, just and
patriarchal authority over their subjects. Seventeen of the rajputs
(rashpootes, it is pronounced) represent the purest and bluest
Hindu blood, for they are descended from Rama, the hero of the
Ramayama, the great Hindu poem, who is generally worshiped as
an incarnation of the god Bishnu; and their subjects are all
their kinsmen, descended from the same ancestors, members of
the same family, and are treated as such. Other rajahs have a
relationship even more clannish and close, and most of them are
the descendants of long lines of ancestors who have occupied the
same throne and exercised the same power over the same people from
the beginning of history. None of the royal families of Europe
can compare with them in length of pedigree or the dimensions of
their family trees, and while there have been bad men as well
as good men in the lists of native rulers; while the people have
been crushed by tyranny, ruined by extravagance and tortured by
the cruelty of their masters, the rajahs of India have averaged
quite as high as the feudal lords of Germany or the dukes and
earls of England in ability and morality.
It has been the policy of Lord Curzon since he has been Viceroy
to extend the power and increase the responsibility of the native
princes as much as possible, and to give India the largest measure
of home rule that circumstances and conditions will allow. Not
long ago, at the investiture of the Nawab of Bahawalpur, who
had succeeded to the throne of his father, the Viceroy gave a
distinct definition of the relationship between the native princes
and the British crown.
"It is scarcely possible," he said, "to imagine circumstances
more different than those of the Indian chiefs now and what they
were at the time Queen Victoria came to the throne. Now their
sympathies have expanded with their knowledge and their sense of
responsibility; with the degree of confidence reposed in them.
They recognize their obligations to their own states and their
duty to the imperial throne. The British crown is no longer an
impersonal abstraction, but a concrete and inspiring force. The
political system of India is neither feudalism nor federation.
It is embodied in no constitution; it does not rest upon treaty,
and it bears no resemblance to a league. It represents a series
of relationships that have grown up between the crown and Indian
princes under widely different historical conditions, but which
in process of time have gradually conformed to a single type. The
sovereignty of the crown is everywhere unchallenged. Conversely,
the duties and the services of the state are implicitly recognized,
and, as a rule, faithfully discharged. It is this happy blend of
authority with free will, of sentiment with self-interest, of
duties with rights, that distinguishes the Indian Empire under
the British crown from any other dominion of which we read in
history. The princes have gained prestige instead of losing it.
Their rank is not diminished, and their privileges have become
more secure. They have to do more for the protection they enjoy,
but they also derive more from it; for they are no longer detached
appendages of empire, but its participators and instruments.
They have ceased to be architectural adornments of the imperial
edifice, and have become the pillars that help to sustain the
At the same time Lord Curzon has kept a tight rein upon the rajahs
and maharajas lest they forget the authority that stands behind
them. He does not allow them to spend the taxes of the people
for jewels or waste it in riotous living, and has the right to
depose any of them for crime, disloyalty, misgovernment or any
other cause he deems sufficient. The supreme authority of the
British government has become a fact which no native state or
ruler would for a moment think of disputing or doubting. No native
chief fails to understand that his conduct is under scrutiny, and
that if he committed a crime he would be tried and punished by
the courts as promptly and as impartially as the humblest of his
subjects. At the same time they feel secure in their authority and
in the exercise of their religion, and when a native prince has no
direct heir he has the right to select his successor by adoption.
He may choose any child or young man among his subjects and if the
person selected is of sound mind and respectable character, the
choice is promptly ratified by the central government. There is
no interference with the exercise of authority or the transaction
of business unless the welfare of the people plainly requires it,
and in such cases, the intervention has been swift and sure.
During the five years that he has been Viceroy, Lord Curzon has
deposed two native rulers. One of them was the Rajah of Bhartpur,
a state well-known in the history of India by its long successful
resistance of the British treaty. In 1900 the native prince, a
man of intemperate habits and violent passions, beat to death
one of his personal servants who angered him by failing to obey
orders to his satisfaction. It was not the first offense, but
it was the most flagrant and the only one that was ever brought
officially to the attention of the government. His behavior had
been the subject of comment and the cause of scandal for several
years, and he had received frequent warnings. Hence, when the
brutal murder of his servant was reported at the government house,
Lord Curzon immediately ordered his arrest and trial. He was
convicted, sentenced to imprisonment for life, deprived of all
his titles and authority, and his infant son was selected as his
successor. During the minority of the young prince the government
will be administered by native regents under British supervision.
In 1901 the uncle of the Maharaja of Panna died under mysterious
circumstances. An investigation ordered by Lord Curzon developed
unmistakable evidence that he had been deliberately poisoned. The
rajah was suspended from power, was tried and convicted of the
crime, and in April, 1902, was deposed, deprived of all honors
and power and sentenced to imprisonment for life, while one of
his subordinates who had actually committed the crime by his
orders was condemned to death.
In January, 1903, the Maharaja of Indore, after testifying to his
loyalty to the British crown by attending the durbar at Delhi,
and after due notice to the viceroy, abdicated power in favor of
his son, a boy 12 years old. The step was approved by Lord Curzon
for reasons too many and complicated to be repeated here. During
the minority of the young man the government will be conducted
by native ministers under British supervision, and the boy will
be trained and educated with the greatest care.
In 1894 the Maharaja of Mysore died, leaving as his heir an infant
son, and it became necessary for the viceroy to appoint a regent
to govern the province during his minority. The choice fell upon
the boy's mother, a woman of great ability and intelligence, who
justified the confidence reposed in her by administering the
affairs of the government with great intelligence and dignity.
She won the admiration of every person familiar with the facts.
She gave her son a careful English education and a few months
ago retired in his favor.
In several cases the privilege of adoption has been exercised by
the ruling chief, and thus far has been confirmed by the British
authority in every case.
There are four colleges in India exclusively for the education
of native princes, which are necessary in that country because
of the laws of caste. It is considered altogether better for a
young prince to be sent to an English school and university,
or to one of the continental institutions, where he can learn
something of the world and come into direct association with
young men of his own age from other countries, but, in many cases,
this is impracticable, because the laws of caste will not permit
strict Hindus to leave India and forbid their association with
strangers, Even where no religious objections have existed, the
fear of a loss of social dignity by contamination with ordinary
people has prevented many native princes and nobles from sending
their sons to ordinary schools. Hence princes, chiefs and members
of the noble families in India have seldom been educated and until
recently this illiteracy was not considered a discredit, because it
was so common. To furnish an opportunity for the education of that
class without meeting these objections, Lord Mayo, while viceroy,
founded a college at Ajmer, which is called by his name, A similar
institution was established at Lahore by Sir Charles Atchison,
Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab in 1885. The corner stone was
laid by the Duke of Connaught, A considerable part of the funds
were contributed by the Punjab princes, and the balance necessary
was supplied by the imperial government. Similar institutions
have since been founded at Indore and Rajkot, and in the four
schools about 300 of the future rulers of the native states are
now receiving a healthy, liberal, modern education. The course
of study has been regulated to meet peculiar requirements. It is
not desired to make great scholars out of these young princes to
fill their heads with useless learning, but to teach them knowledge
that will be of practical usefulness when they assume authority,
and to cultivate manly habits and pure tastes. Their physical
development is carefully looked after. They play football, cricket
and other games that are common at the English universities;
they have gymnasiums and prizes for athletic excellence. They
are taught English, French and the oriental languages; lower
mathematics, geography, history and the applied sciences,
particularly chemistry, electricity and engineering.
Lord Curzon has taken a deep interest in these institutions.
He usually attends the graduating exercises and makes addresses
to the students in presenting prizes or diplomas; and he gives
them straight talks about the duties and the privileges of young
men of their positions and responsibilities. He tells them that
a rajah is worthless unless he is a gentleman, and that power
can never safely be intrusted to people of rank unless they are
fitted to exercise it. With a view of extending their training
and developing their characters he has recently organized what is
called the Imperial Cadet Corps, a bodyguard of the Viceroy, which
attends him upon occasions of state, and is under his immediate
command. He inspects the cadets frequently and takes an active
personal interest in their discipline and education. The course
of instruction lasts for three years, and is a modification of
that given the cadets at West Point. The boys are taught military
tactics, riding and the sciences. Very little attention is paid
to higher mathematics of other studies except history, law and
the modern languages. No one is eligible for admission to this
corps except members of the families of the ruling native princes,
and they must be graduates of one of the four colleges I have
mentioned, under 20 years of age. There is great eagerness on the
part of the young princess to join the dashing troop of horsemen.
Four of the privates are now actual rulers of states with several
millions of subjects and more than thirty are future maharajas.
The honorary commander is the Maharaja Sir Pertas Singh, but the
actual commander is a British major. It is proposed to offer
commissions in the Indian army to the members of this corps at
the close of their period of training, but that was not the chief
purpose in Lord Curzon's mind when he suggested the organization.
He desired to offer the most tempting inducement possible for
the young princes to attend college and qualify themselves for
their life work.
American visitors to India are often impressed with the presence
of the same problems of government there that perplex our own
people in the Philippines, and although England has sent her
ablest men and applied her most mature wisdom to their solution,
they are just as troublesome and unsettled as they ever were,
and we will doubtless have a similar experience among our own
colonial or, as they are called, insular possessions. There are
striking coincidences. It makes one feel quite at home to hear
Lord Curzon accused of the same errors and weaknesses that Judge
Taft and Governor Wright have been charged with; and if those
worthy gentlemen could get together, they might embrace with
sympathetic fervor. One class of people in India declares that
Lord Curzon sacrifices everything of value to the welfare of
the natives; another class insists that he has his foot upon the
neck of the poor Hindu and is grinding his brown face into the
dust. In both England and India are organizations of good people
who have conceived it to be their mission to defend and protect
the natives from real or imaginary wrongs they are suffering,
while there are numerous societies and associations whose business
is to see that the Englishman gets his rights in India also.
It may console Lord Curzon to know that the criticisms of his
policy and administration have been directed at every viceroy
and governor general of India since the time of Warren Hastings,
and they will probably be repeated in the future as long as there
are men of different minds and dispositions and different ideas
of what is right and proper.
England has given India a good government. It has accomplished
wonders in the way of material improvements and we can say the
same of the administration in the Philippine Islands, even for
the short period of American occupation. Mistakes have been made
in both countries. President Roosevelt, Secretary Taft, Governor
General Wright and his associates would find great profit in
studying the experience of the British. The same questions and
the same difficulties that confront the officials at Manila have
occurred again and again in India during the last 200 years,
and particularly since 1858, when the authority and rights of
the East India Company were transferred to the crown. And the
most serious of all those questions is how far the native shall
be admitted to share the responsibilities of the government.
The situations are similar.
The population of India, like that of the Philippines, consists
of a vast mixed multitude in various stages of civilization, in
which not one man in fifty and not one woman in 200 can read
Ninety per cent of the people, and the same proportion of the
people of the Philippines, do not care a rap about "representative
government." They do not know anything about it. They would not
understand what the words meant if they ever heard them spoken.
The small minority who do care are the "educated natives," who are
just as human as the rest of us, and equally anxious to acquire
money and power, wear a title, hold a government office and draw a
salary from the public funds. There are many most estimable Hindu
gentlemen who do not come within this class, but I am speaking
generally, and every person of experience in India has expressed
the same opinion, when I say that a Hindu immediately becomes a
politician as soon as he is educated. It he does not succeed in
obtaining an office he becomes an opponent of the government,
and more or less of an agitator, according to his ability and
The universities of India turn out about five thousand young men
every year who have been stuffed with information for the purpose
of passing the civil service examinations, and most of them have
only one aim in life, which is to secure government employment.
As the supply of candidates is always much larger than the demand,
the greater number fail, and, in their disappointment, finding no
other profitable field nor the exercise of their talents, become
demagogues, reformers and critics of the administration. They
inspire and maintain agitations for "home rule" and "representative
government." They hold conventions, deliver lectures, write for
the newspapers, and denounce Lord Curzon and his associates.
If they were in the Philippine Islands they would organize
revolutions and paper governments from places of concealment
in the forests and mountains. They classify their emotions and
desire for office under the name of patriotism, and some of them
are undoubtedly sincere. If they had a chance they would certainly
give their fellow countrymen the best government and the highest
degree of happiness within their power. They call themselves
"the people." But in no sense are they representatives of the
great masses of the inhabitants. They have no influence with
them and really care nothing about them. If the English were to
withdraw from India to-day there would be perpetual revolution.
If the Americans were to withdraw from Manila the result would
be the same.
It should be said, however, that, with all their humbug about
benevolence, the British have never had the presumption to assert
that their occupation of India is exclusively for the benefit of
the natives. They are candid enough to admit that their purpose
is not entirely unselfish, and that, while they are promoting
civilization and uplifting a race, they expect that race to consume
a large quantity of British merchandise and pay good prices for
it. The sooner such an understanding is reached in the Philippines
the better. We are no more unselfish than the British, and to
keep up the pretext of pure benevolence while we are in the
Philippines for trade and profit also, is folly and fraud. It
is neither fair nor just to the Filipinos nor to the people of
the United States. At the same time the British authorities in
India have given the natives a fair share of the offices and have
elevated them to positions of honor, influence and responsibility.
But they have discovered, as our people must also discover in the
Philippines, that a civil service examination does not disclose
all the qualities needed by rulers of men. The Hindu is very
similar in character, disposition and talent to the Filipino;
he has quick perceptions, is keen-witted, cunning and apt at
imitations. He learns with remarkable ease and adapts himself
to new conditions with great facility, but no amount of those
qualities can make up for the manly courage, the sterling honesty,
the unflinching determination and tireless energy of the British
character. The same is true in the Philippine Islands.
At the last census only 864 Englishmen held active civil positions
under the imperial government and 3,752 natives. The number of
natives employed in the public service has been constantly increasing
since 1879, while the number of Englishmen has been gradually growing
less. No person other than a native of India can be appointed to
certain positions under the government. Native officers manage
almost all of the multifarious interests connected with the revenues,
the lands, the civil courts and local administration. The duties
of the civil courts throughout India, excepting the Court of
Appeals, are almost entirely performed by native judges, who
exercise jurisdiction in all cases affecting Europeans as well
as natives, and the salaries they receive are very liberal. No
country in the world pays better salaries than India to its
judiciary. In Bengal a high court judge whether English or native,
receives $16,000 a year, and the members of the lower courts
are paid corresponding amounts.
It is asserted by prominent and unprejudiced members of the bar
that nothing in the history of civilization has been more remarkable
than the improvement that has taken place in the standard of
morality among the higher classes of Indian officials, particularly
among the judiciary. This is due in a great measure to the fact
that their salaries have been sufficient to remove them from
temptation, but a still greater influence has been the example
of the irreproachable integrity of the Englishmen who have served
with them and have created an atmosphere of honor and morality.
The English officials employed under the government of India
belong to what is known as "The Covenanted Civil Service" the term
"covenanted" having been inherited from the East India Company,
which required its employes to enter into covenants stipulating
that they would serve a term of years under certain conditions,
including retirement upon half pay when aged, and pensions for