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Modern India by William Eleroy Curtis

Part 7 out of 8

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the world, but we can show them several quite as picturesque and
attractive in our own beloved Rocky Mountains. The only advantage
they have over us there is the superior height of the mountains
and the superior size of the trees. But you must remember that
our country is young yet, and India is one of the oldest nations
in the world.

The first few miles of track lie in a dense jungle, with vegetation
of truly tropical luxuriance. Cane stalks grow fifty and sixty feet
high, the grass is fifteen feet deep, beautiful bamboo trees, whose
foliage is as fine as feathers, and palms which have plumage like
a peacock and a bird of paradise, lift their proud and haughty
heads above an impenetrable growth which, the guides tell us, is
the home of tigers, rhinoceroses, panthers, bears, wild hogs,
buffaloes, deer and all sorts of beasts, and snakes as big around
as a barrel. Fern trees are lovely, and are found here in their
greatest glory, but nevertheless we have foliage at home, and
they are no more beautiful than our elms, oaks, and other trees
that I might mention.

This is a great tea country, and the mountain sides have been
cleared in many places for plantations. A tea planter in India
is a heavy swell. He may be no more brilliant or intellectual
or virtuous or handsome, but the fact that he grows tea instead
of potatoes or wheat or sugar gives him a higher standing in the
social scale. I was asking an explanation of this phenomenon
from a very wise man the other day, and, although he insisted
that his attention had never been called to it before, he was
willing to admit that it was so, and he explained it on the theory
that so many sons of dukes and earls and lords and the swagger
set in England had come to India to engage in tea growing that
they had created a caste of their own; so that whenever a man
said he was a tea planter the public immediately assumed that
his father belonged to the nobility and treated him accordingly.
The tea planters usually live in good style. They have beautiful
bungalows, gardens, lawns and groves, and although they complain
of the depression of the industry, there is no evidence that they
suffer for want of the necessities of life. In the Darjeeling
district are about two hundred large plantations, employing from
one to two thousand laborers each, and producing about 12,000,000
pounds a year. Most of the product is shipped to England.

They carry you up the mountains in tiny little cars seating six
persons and open all around so that the passengers can take in all
there is to see, and they have plenty of scenery. The trains are
not allowed to run faster than six miles an hour as a precaution
against accidents, which allows plenty of time to look about,
and they twist around so that you can see things from various
points of view. And if a passenger gets impatient or is in a
hurry he can jump out of the car and walk ahead.

There is little doubt that the views from Darjeeling include the
most majestic assemblage of mountains on the earth's surface.
For a distance of 200 miles east and west there arise a succession
of peaks not less than 22,000 feet high, and several of them
more than 25,000. In the immediate vicinity and within sight
are the highest mountains in the world. Everest, the king of
mountains, which measures 29,200 feet, is only eighty miles distant;
Kinchinjunga, which is forty-five miles distant, is 28,156 feet
high, and also, in the immediate vicinity, are the following:

Janu 25,304 Kabru 24,015
Chumalari 23,943 Pauhanri 23,186
Donkia 23,176 Baudim 22,017
Narsingh 22,146 Kanhenjhan 22,500
Chomaino 23,300

Between these mountain peaks is an almost continuous succession
of snow fields and glaciers beyond all comparison. The snow line
is 17,000 feet in midsummer, and in winter comes down to 12,000 and
15,000 feet, and when that altitude is reached snow is continuous
and impassable. This is the highest and the most extensive of
all mountain ranges. Along the northern frontier of India for
2,000 miles it stands like a vast hedge, the most formidable
natural boundary in the world, nowhere lower than 17,000 feet,
and impassable for armies the entire distance, with the exception
of two gateways: Jeylup Pass here and at the Khyber Pass of which
I told you in a previous chapter. There are passes over the snow,
but their elevation is seldom less than 16,000 feet; the average
elevation of the watershed exceeds 18,000 feet, and the great
plateau of Thibet, which lies upon the other side, is between
15,000 and 16,000 feet above the sea.

This plateau, which is sometimes called the "Roof of the World,"
is 700 miles long and 500 miles wide, and could not be crossed
by an army not only because of the winds and the cold, but also
because there is very little water, no fuel and no supplies. No
invading force could possibly enter India from the north if these
passes were defended, because the inhospitable climate of Thibet
would not sustain an army, and the enormous distance and altitude
would make the transportation of supplies for any considerable
force practically impossible. During the summer the plateau is
covered with flocks and herds, but when the cold weather comes
on the shepherds drive them into the foothills, where they find
shelter. The width of the main range of the Himalayas will average
about 500 miles between its northern and southern foot-hills; it
embraces every possible kind of climate, vegetation and natural
products, and is a vast reservoir from which four of the greatest
rivers of the world flow across the plains of India, carrying
the drainage from the melting snows, and without this reservoir
northern India would be a hopeless and dreary desert.

There is a lively dispute among geographers, topographers and other
learned pundits of the scientific bureaus of the Indian government
as to whether Everest is really the king of the mountains. Other
peaks in the group have their advocates, and over in Cashmere
are several which lift their heads nearly as high as 30,000 feet,
but few of them have been accurately measured, and the height of
none can be determined with exactness. Mount Godwin, in Cashmere,
is very near the height of Everest, and many claim that Kinchinjunga
is even higher.

Darjeeling is a sanitarium of the greatest benefit to the people
of India. The town is made up chiefly of hotels, hospitals and
summer bungalows belonging to the mercantile class of Calcutta.
Few officials except military officers ever go there. The official
society follows the viceroy to Simla, where the summer is always
gay, but those who seek health and rest only and are fond of
nature prefer Darjeeling. The hotels are good, there are plenty of
boarding houses, there are hospitals for all sorts of infirmities,
and perhaps there is no other place in the world with such an
ideal climate within a day's travel of the tropics. The hotels,
villas, boarding houses, hospitals and asylums are scattered all
over the hillside without regularity of arrangement. Wherever a
level spot has been found some kind of a house has been erected,
usually without any architectural taste, and the common use of
corrugated iron for building material has almost spoiled the
looks of the place. There is plenty of timber, and the great
mountains are built of stone, so that there is no excuse for the
atrocious structures that have been erected there.

Everybody who comes is expected to get up at half-past 3 in the
morning in order to see the sun rise. Everything is arranged
by the managers of the hotel. They have fixed the sunrise at
that hour in order to compel their guests to make the greatest
possible effort to see it because they will thus remember the
incident, and the experience will remain longer in their memory.
They give you a cup of coffee and a roll, and, if you insist
upon it, you can get an egg, although the cook is not inclined
to be obliging at that hour in the morning. They put you in a
sort of sedan chair called a "dandy," and you are carried by
four men seven miles up the mountains to a point 12,000 feet
above the sea. From there you can look upon the most impressive
spectacle that human eye has ever witnessed, the rising of the sun
over an amphitheater surrounded by the highest group of peaks on
the globe. Their snow-covered summits are illuminated gradually,
beginning at the top, as if a searchlight were slowly turned upon
them. Mount Everest stands in the center, but is so much farther
away that it does not seem so much higher than the rest.

There is little mountain climbing in India compared with the
Alps, because the distances and the difficulties are so great.
A Boston gentleman and his wife made the ascent of Mount Everest
in 1904, and it is claimed that they went higher than anyone
had ever gone before.

Darjeeling is not a large town, but it is filled with interesting
people, and on Sunday a market is held in the principal bazaar
which is declared to be the most picturesque and fascinating
in all India. Throngs of natives in quaint costumes come from
all parts of the country around, representatives of tribes which
do not often stray so far away from their homes. They come from
Nepaul, Thibet, Sikkim and the surrounding countries, and bring
articles of home manufacture to exchange for "store goods." The
features of the people are unmistakable testimony of their Mongolian
origin. They are short of stature, with broad, flat faces, high
cheek bones and bright, smiling eyes wide apart. The men grow no
beards, but have long pigtails of coarse coal-black hair. The
women are sturdy, good-natured and unembarrassed; they are adorned
with a great quantity of jewelry, chiefly of silver, but often
of gold. They wear circlets around their heads made of coral,
turquoise, amber, agate, jade or other precious stones, with five
or six necklaces and enormous girdles of the same material. Huge
ear rings, four or five inches long, pull down the lobes of their
ears. Their wrists are heavy with bracelets, their limbs with
anklets, and their fingers are half hidden with rings. The entire
fortune of a family is usually invested in personal adornments
for the women members. They find this much safer than savings

The attention of the world has recently been attracted in that
direction because of an unusual and very significant movement
of the Indian government, which, in the winter of 1904, took
advantage of the embarrassments of Russia in the farther East,
and sent a military expedition over the northern border on the
pretext of escorting a diplomatic mission. Colonel Younghusband
was sent as an envoy extraordinary--very extraordinary--for,
with 2,500 British soldiers, he was instructed to make a treaty
of commerce and good will with the Grand Lama of Thibet, and his
orders were to stay at Lhassa until the treaty was negotiated
and as much longer as was necessary to compel the Thibetans to
respect its terms and carry out its stipulations. That means the
permanent occupation of Lhassa by a British army and the opening
of an unknown and mysterious region to trade.

Thibet is the unknown, mysterious country of the world, a land
of desert and mountains inhabited by a primitive and bigoted
people, who have for many years been under the protection of
China, and paid tribute to the emperor until the late war with
Japan in 1895. After the result of that conflict became known
they seemed to lose their respect for and confidence in their
protectors and have sent no envoys or money to Peking since.
We know very little about Thibet. Foreigners are not permitted
to enter the country, and only a few venturesome explorers have
endured the hardships and faced the dangers of a visit to that
forbidden land. Indeed, it is so perilous an undertaking that
a skeptical public frequently takes the liberty to doubt the
statements of the men who have gone there. But all agree that it
is the hermit of nations, and its people are under the control of
cruel and ignorant Buddhist priests, who endeavor to prevent them
from acquiring any modern customs or ideas. One of the objects of
Colonel Younghusband's expedition is to change this situation
and persuade the ignorant and bigoted ecclesiastics who govern
Thibet to open their gates and admit foreign merchants and foreign
merchandise into that benighted country. There is considerable
commerce, however. Parties of Thibetan traders are continually
coming across the frontier into Darjeeling with all sorts of
native products and may be seen in the market that is held every
Sunday morning and during the weekdays in the bazaars of the city.
After selling their goods they buy cottons, drugs, groceries,
hardware and other European goods and take them back into their
own country; but foreigners are not allowed to pass the line,
and practically all of the trade of Thibet is monopolized by
the Chinese, who sell the natives large quantities of cotton
fabrics and other imported merchandise as well as tea, silk and
other Chinese goods. This trade is supposed to be worth many
millions of dollars, and the ability of India to furnish the
tea and of England to furnish the manufactured goods that the
inhabitants of Thibet may need is considered ample reason for
sending the Younghusband expedition into that country. But there
are other reasons quite as important.

Lying between Thibet and India is the independent state of Nepal,
or Nepaul, the home of the Gurkhas, one of the finest fighting
races in the world, and there are eighteen full regiments of
them in the Indian army. The Gurkhas are a mountain people,
industrious, temperate, hardy, brave, loyal, honest, and without
sense of fear. They are the main dependence of the Indian government
among the native troops. Nepal has its own government and the
people are proud of their independence. While they are entirely
friendly to Great Britain and have treaties with India under
which the latter extends a protectorate over the province and
enters into an offensive and defensive alliance, the Maharaja
permits no British adviser to take part in his government and
receives a representative of the viceroy only in the capacity of
envoy or minister plenipotentiary. The latter dare not interfere
with the administration of the government and never presumes
to tender his advice to the native rulers unless it is asked.
His duties are chiefly to keep the viceroy at Calcutta informed
as to what is going on in the Nepal province and to cultivate
the good will of the officials and the people.

There has never been a census of Nepal and the population has been
variously estimated from 2,000,000 to 5,000,000. It is probably
near the latter figure. The people are mostly engaged in raising
cattle, sheep and goats and growing wheat, barley and other grains
in the valleys. The principal exports, which amount to about
$8,000,000 a year, are wool, hides and grain, and the imports,
which amount to about $5,000,000, are cotton goods and other
wearing apparel, iron and steel, cutlery and other manufactured

The people of Nepal profess the Hindu faith and have close relations
with the Brahmins at Benares, which is the Rome, or the Mecca, of
Brahminism. They sometimes in the past have beep bold enough to
defy British authority, and, for example, protected Nana Sahib,
the leader of the mutiny of 1857, and gave him an asylum when he
fled from British vengeance. However amicable the relations between
Nepal and the British government, the latter is scrupulously careful
not to furnish any excuse for complaint or controversy, because
a collision with this powerful people would not only result in
the loss of the finest corps in the Indian army, but would make
it extremely unpleasant for the people of Assam, Bengal, Oudh
and the Punjab, which provinces lie next on the south.

One hundred years ago an army from Nepal invaded Thibet and sacked
an important town. The Thibetans appealed to China, which had not
yet lost its military vigor, and sent an army to invade Nepal.
It came within eighteen miles of Gurkha, the capital, when the
Nepals proposed a parley, paid a heavy indemnity and entered into
a treaty of permanent peace, promising never to invade Thibet
again. That was the last heroic act of the Chinese government,
and then, in compliance with the terms of the treaty, all the
passes through the Himalaya Mountains between the two countries
were permanently closed by common consent, and in many cases
were walled up with masonry, adding an artificial barrier to
the natural wall. It was also agreed that there should be no
communication across the border and that the inhabitants of both
provinces would remain upon their own sides. This prohibition
has been enforced until to-day, and has not been violated except
by Buddhist priests and monks and a few venturesome explorers.
No Englishman may even now enter Nepal or pass from Nepal into
Thibet without permission from the authorities of both governments.

Mindful of the aggressive policy of Russia, which controls Turkestan,
the country north of Thibet, the British government some years ago
sent an envoy named McCauley to Lhassa, with the permission of
the Chinese government, to open commercial relations with Thibet
and find another market for the tea of Assam and the manufactured
merchandise of India. But he was unable to do anything. He could
not induce the priests, or lamas, who control the government,
to negotiate with him. They would not respond to his advances
and gave him plainly to understand that they did not care to
improve their relations with India. Immediately after his departure
the Thibetans began to fortify the passes over the mountains,
and invaded the little province of Sikkim, which also adjoins
Thibet. The British sent up troops and forbade the continuance
of the work. The Thibetans withdrew to the interior and agreed to
make a commercial treaty and open their market to Indian goods,
promising to send a plenipotentiary to Calcutta for that purpose
within six months; but he has never appeared, and frequent reminders
from the British have passed without notice.

When Lord Curzon came to India he determined to reverse the policy
of indifference which had been pursued by Lord Elgin, his
predecessor. The opening of Thibet to Indian trade has been one
of the principal features of his administrative programme. In
1900 he sent to Lhassa an ambassador in the person of Colonel
Younghusband, a distinguished Asiatic traveler, who speaks the
language of Thibet, to talk things over and persuade the Dailai
Lama, as the chief ruler of Thibet is called, to carry out his
promise about the treaties. The Grand Lama refused to receive
Colonel Younghusband, and would have nothing whatever to do with
him, rejecting his overtures without explanation and treating
his messages with contempt.

While England was suffering the worst of the disasters of the
recent war in South Africa the Russian government sent a secret
embassy to Lhassa, carrying rich presents and large sums of money
to the Grand Lamal for the ostensible purpose of securing permission
to construct a branch from its Siberian Railway to Lhassa across
Chinese Turkestan. The Grand Lama afterward sent an embassy to
return the visit at St. Petersburg, which was received with great
honors and presented with rich gifts. The Grand Lama, in recognition
of these attentions, conferred upon the czar the title of "Lord and
Guardian of the Gifts of Faith." It is the supreme Buddhist honor,
and while the title is empty, it is particularly significant in
this case, because it implies protection. It is believed that a
secret treaty was made under which Russia promised to guarantee
the independence of Thibet and protect that government against
invasion in exchange for the privilege of constructing a railway
line through its territory. The Thibetans are supposed to have
accepted these terms because of their fear of China. Until 1895
Thibet was a province of the Chinese Empire, and paid tribute to
the emperor every year, but since the war with Japan the Grand
Lama has sent no messenger to Peking, has paid no tribute and
has ignored the Chinese representative at Lhassa. The priests
postponed negotiations on the pretext that it was necessary to
consult Peking, and promised to send a mission to Calcutta within
six months, but never have done so. In the meantime there has
been continual friction on the border; the Indian authorities
have repeatedly reminded the Grand Lama of his promise and its
postponement, but he has stubbornly refused to communicate with
them, and has even returned their communications unopened.

When the secret relations between Russia and Thibet were discovered
the Chinese authorities were naturally indignant and the Indian
authorities were alarmed. After a conference China granted permission
for England to use whatever methods it thought best to bring the
Grand Lama to terms. Thereupon Colonel Younghusband was sent to
Lhassa again. The Grand Lama again refused to see him, declined
to appoint an official to confer with him and returned his
credentials unopened, and used other means to show his indifference
and contempt for India and England.

When Younghusband returned to Calcutta and reported the failure
of his mission and the insults offered him Lord Curzon decided
that the time had come to act, and as soon as preparations could
be made Colonel Younghusband started back to Lhassa escorted
by 2,500 armed men and carrying provisions for two years. He
was instructed to avoid collisions, to make friends with the
people, to establish permanent posts on the line of march wherever
he thought necessary and to remain at Lhassa until he secured
a treaty opening the markets of Thibet to British merchants.
The treaty is made, and by its terms the Thibetans are to pay
England an indemnity of $3,750,000 to cover the cost of the
expedition. Until the indemnity is paid the Indian troops will
continue to occupy the Churubi Valley which leads to Lhassa.

Lord Curzon did not dispatch this expedition and undertake this
strategic movement without considering the present situation of
Russia. The czar took occasion to engage in negotiations not
only with Thibet, but with Afghanistan also, at the very moment
when England was suffering her most serious disasters and
embarrassments of recent history, and is getting tit for tat.
Before Colonel Younghusband's expedition was dispatched the British
ambassador at St. Petersburg was instructed to inquire if the
Russian government had any relations with Thibet or any interests
there, and was officially informed that it had not, and hence
the etiquette of the situation had been complied with and Lord
Curzon was perfectly free to act.



No one can realize what an awful religion Brahminism is until
he visits Benares, the most sacred city of India, upon the banks
of the Ganges, the most sacred river, more holy to more millions
of human souls than Mecca to the Moslem, Rome to the Catholic
or Jerusalem to the Jew. This marvelous city it so holy that
death upon its soil is equivalent to life eternal. It is the
gate to paradise, the abundant entrance to everlasting happiness,
and its blessings are comprehensive enough to include all races,
all religions and all castes. It is not necessary to be a Brahmin
or to worship Siva or Krishna or any other of the Hindu gods,
nor even to believe in them. Their grace is sufficient to carry
unbelievers to the Hindu heavens provided they die within the
area inclosed by a boulevard encircling this city.

There are in Benares 2,000 temples and innumerable shrines, 25,000
Brahmin priests, monks, fakirs and ascetics, and it is visited
annually by more than half a million pilgrims--a larger number than
may be counted at Mecca or Jerusalem, or at any other of the sacred
cities of the world. There are more than 500,000 idols established
in permanent places for worship in Benares, representing every
variety of god in the Hindu pantheon, so that all the pilgrims
who go there may find consolation and some object of worship.
There are twenty-eight sacred cows at the central temples, and
perhaps 500 more at other places of worship throughout the city;
the trees around the temple gardens swarm with sacred monkeys
and apes; there are twenty-two places where the dead are burned,
and the air of the city is always darkened during the daytime by
columns of smoke that rise from the funeral pyres. No other city,
not even London, has so many beggars, religious and otherwise;
nowhere can so many pitiful spectacles of deformity and distress be
seen; nowhere is such gross and repulsive obscenity and sensuality
practiced--and all in the name of religion; nowhere are such sordid
deceptions imposed upon superstitious believers, and nowhere
such gloomy, absurd and preposterous methods used for consoling
sinners and escaping the results of sin. Although Benares in
these respects is the most interesting city in India, and one of
the most interesting in the world, it is also the most filthy,
repulsive and forbidding. Few people care to remain there more
than a day or two, although to the ethnologist and other students,
to artists and people in search of the picturesque, it has more
to offer than can be found elsewhere in the Indian Empire.

Benares is as old as Egypt. It is one of the oldest cities in
existence. It was already famous when Rome was founded; even
when Joshua and his trumpeters were surrounding the walls of
Jericho. It is the hope of every believer in Brahminism to visit
Benares and wash away his sins in the water of the sacred Ganges;
the greatest blessing he can enjoy is to die there; hence, the
palaces, temples, and lodging-houses which line the river banks
are filled with the aged relatives and friends of their owners
and with pilgrims who have come from all parts of India to wait
with ecstatic patience the summons of the angel of death in order
to go straight to heaven.

Nothing in all their religion is so dear to devout Hindus as the
Ganges. The mysterious cavern in the Himalayas which is supposed
to be the source of the river is the most sacred place on earth.
It is the fifth head of Siva, and for 1,600 miles to its delta
every inch of the banks is haunted with gods and demons, and has
been the scene of events bearing upon the faith of two-thirds
of the people of India. The most pious act, and one that counts
more than any other to the credit of a human soul on the great
books above, is to make a pilgrimage from the source to the mouth
of the Ganges. If you have read Kipling's story of "Kim," you will
remember the anxiety of the old lama to find this holy stream, and
to follow its banks. Pilgrims to Benares and other cities upon
the Ganges secure bottles of the precious water for themselves
and send them to friends and kindred in foreign lands. No river
in all the world is so worshiped, and to die upon its sacred
banks and to have one's body burned and his ashes borne away
into oblivion upon its tawny current is the highest aspiration
of hundreds of millions of people.

The Ganges is equally sacred to the Buddhist, and Benares is
associated more closely with the career of Buddha than any other
city. Twenty-five hundred years ago Buddha preached his first
sermon there, and for ten centuries or more it was the headquarters
of Buddhism. Buddha selected it as the center of his missionary
work. He secured the support of its scholars, teachers and
philosophers, and from there sent forth missionaries to China,
Japan, Burmah, Ceylon, the Malay Peninsula, Siam, Thibet, and
other countries until half the human race accepted him as divine,
his teachings as the law of God, and Benares as the fountain
of that faith. It is a tradition that one of the wise men who
followed the Star of Bethlehem to the Child that was cradled in
a manger was a learned pundit from Benares, and it is certainly
true that the doctors of theology who have lived and taught in the
temples and monasteries there have exercised a greater influence
upon a larger number of men than those of any other city that
ever existed. But in these modern days Benares is wholly given
over to ignorance, superstition, vice, filth and idolatry. The
pure and lofty doctrines of Buddha are no longer taught. The
"Well of Knowledge" is a filthy, putrid hole filled with slime
and rotting vegetation. Buddhism has been swept out of India
altogether, and Brahminism is taught and practiced there in its
most repulsive and depraved forms.


Occasionally some reformer appears who endeavors to rebuke the
depravity and appeals to the thinking members of the Brahmin
sect to restore the ancient philosophy and morality of their
fathers. I saw such an one at Benares. He lives in a bare and
comfortless temple surrounded by a garden; is entirely dependent
upon charity; every mouthful of food that he eats is brought to
him by his disciples. He spends his entire time, day and night,
in contemplation; he sleeps when he is exhausted; he eats when
food is handed him, and if he is neglected he starves until some
thoughtful person brings him a bowl of rice or curry. He wears
nothing but a single shirt of cotton; he owns nothing in all
the world except a brass bowl, which is used for both food and
drink, and a few relics of his predecessor and teacher whom he
lived with and served and whose mantle fell upon him. To those
who come to his temple with serious minds and anxious to know
the truth, he talks freely, and his pride is gratified by having
his visitors inscribe their names in a large book which is kept
for that purpose. And contributions of money are very acceptable
because they enable his disciples to circulate his thoughts and
discourses in printed form. I noticed that most of the names in
the visitors' book were those of Americans, and it occurred to
me that his contemplations must be seriously disturbed by having
so many of them intrude upon him. But he assured me that he was
delighted to see every stranger who called; that it gratified him
to be able to explain to American travelers the true principles of
Brahminism and the correct doctrines of that sect. This was the
more important, he said, because nearly every foreigner formed
his impressions of Brahminism by what he saw and heard among
the pilgrims about the temples.

It is only by contact with the crowds of eager pilgrims and devotees
which throng the streets and temples of Benares that one may
realize the vital force which Brahminism exercises in India.
Next to Mohammedanism it is the livest and most influential and
practical of all religions. The devotee lives and breathes and
feels his faith. It enters every experience of his career, it
governs every act, and compared with Brahminism, Christianity
is perfunctory and exercises practically little control over
its believers. Yet Christianity has come here, as it has entered
all the other sacred cities of India, and under the very shadow
of the Hindu holy of holies, within the circle that bounds the
favored gate of heaven, it has set up and maintained several
of the most prosperous and well attended schools in India. The
government has established a college of high standard in a handsome
gothic building, which many consider the best in India. And all
agree that it is an admirable institution. It has about seven
hundred students and teaches modern sciences which contradict
every principle that the Brahmins propose. There is also a school
there for the higher education of women with about 600 students,
maintained by the Maharaja of Vizianagram, a learned and progressive
Hindu prince, who has large estates in the neighborhood, and
there are several other distinctly modern institutions in whose
light Brahminism cannot live. They are growing and it is slowly
decaying. The number of devotees and pilgrims who come there is
still enormous, but those who have the best means of knowing
declare that it is smaller every year. But while the decrease is
comparatively small, its significance is great, and so great that
prominent Brahmins have recently held a conference to consider
what shall be done to protect the faith and defend it against
the vigorous assaults of the school teachers, the missionaries
and the materialists.

It does not take Hindus long to learn that the teachings of their
priests do not conform to the conditions of modern civilization,
and that their practices are not approved by those who believe
in modern standards of morals. It is difficult for an educated
man to adhere to or accept the teachings of the Hindu priests
while their practices are absolutely repugnant to him. The church,
therefore, if it may be called a church, must be reformed, and
its practices must be revised, if the decay which is now going
on is ever arrested.

Several religions have been born and bred and have died in Benares.
Vedic, Moslem, Buddhist, Brahmin have been nursed and flourished and
have decayed within the same walls. It is impossible to ascertain
when the Ganges was first worshiped, or when people began to build
temples upon its banks, or when Benares first became sacred.
Water was one of the first objects worshiped; the fertilizing and
life giving influence of a stream was one of the first phenomena
of nature recognized. Ganga, the beautiful heroine of a Hindu
legend, is supposed to have lived at the source of the water to
which her name is given, and the river is often represented as
flowing from the head of Siva, the chief deity of the Brahmins,
the most repulsive, the most cruel, the most vicious of all the

Siva is at once the generator and the destroyer. He represents
time, the sun, water, fire and practically all the mysteries of
nature, and Benares is the center of his influence and worship.
The temple which attracts the most pilgrims is dedicated to him.
The "Well of Knowledge," which is in the courtyard of the Golden
Temple, is his chosen residence, and is resorted to by every pilgrim
who drinks the putrid water from a ladle with which it is dipped
up by the attendant priest. All around the Golden Temple are other
temples and shrines dedicated to other gods, but Siva is supreme,
and before his image is the kneeling bull, the common symbol of
Phallic worship as represented in the legend of Europe. Siva's
hair is a bunch of snakes, serpents wind around his neck, arms,
waist and legs; a crescent is stamped upon his forehead, which
was the chief symbol of the ancient cult of Arabia destroyed by
Mohamet Aurangzeb, one of the Mogul emperors, who was a Mohammedan
fanatic. He came here in the middle of his reign, destroyed half
the Hindu temples and upon the ruins of the oldest and the finest
shrine of Siva erected a mosque which still stands and its slender
minarets almost pierce the sky. This mosque was thrust into the
most sacred place of Hindu worship as an insult to the Brahmins,
but the latter are more tolerant, and though they are very largely
in the majority and control everything there, they permit it
to stand untouched, but the worshipers of Islam are compelled
to enter it through a side door. This, however, is due more to
a desire to preserve the peace and prevent collisions between
fanatics and fakirs than for any other reason.

The great temple of Siva, the Golden Temple, is not imposing. It
is a small building with a low dome in the center and a smaller
dome at each corner, above which rises an artistic tower. These
and the roof are covered with beaten gold; hence the name of the
temple. None but Hindus are permitted to cross the threshold,
but strangers are permitted to block up the entrance and see
everything that is going on inside. It is crowded with priests,
pilgrims and sacred bulls and cows. The floor is covered with
filth, the air is fetid and the atmosphere all around it reeks
with offensive odors, suggesting all kinds of disease. There is
always a policeman to protect strangers from injury or insult,
and if you give the priests a little backsheesh they will look
out for you.

Benares is the seventh city in size in India. Ten years ago it
was fifth, but between the years 1891 and 1901 the population
was reduced 10,000 inhabitants by cholera, famine and plague,
and it dropped down two pegs in the list. It is a miracle that
the entire population does not perish, because, notwithstanding
the cautions and efforts of the government, every sanitary law
is violated by thousands of people daily. The temples and other
places frequented by pilgrims are filthy hotbeds of disease, and
the water they drink from the holy wells is absolutely putrid,
so that the odor can be detected a considerable distance. And
yet half a million devotees from every part of India come here
annually, and not only drink the poisonous stuff, but bathe in
the polluted river and carry back to their homes bottles of it
carefully corked and labeled, which the doctors tell us is an
absolutely certain method of distributing disease. While almost
all the large cities of India increased in population during the
the last decade, Bombay and Benares fell off, the former from
plagues and famine and the latter from all kinds of contagious
and other diseases.

It is a city of great wealth and has many handsome and costly
palaces and mansions which have been erected there by pious Hindu
princes, rajahs, merchants, bankers and others who spend a part of
each year within its sacred precincts, renewing their relations
with the gods just as other people go to the springs and seashore
to restore their physical vitality. The residential architecture
is picturesque but not artistic. The houses are frequently of
fantastic designs, and are painted in gay colors and covered with
carvings that are often grotesque. They have galleries around
them, and broad overhanging eaves to keep out the rays of the
sun, and many of them are set in the midst of attractive groves
and gardens. Some of the modern buildings are very fine. There
is plenty of room for the display of landscape gardening as well
as architecture, but the former has been neglected. The one thing
that strikes a stranger and almost bewilders him is the vivid
colors. They seem unnatural and inappropriate for a sacred city,
but are not more incongruous than other features.

The streets in the outer part of the city are wide, well paved
and well shaded. The business portion of the town, where the
natives chiefly live, is a wilderness of narrow streets hemmed
in with shops, factories, dwelling houses, temples, shrines,
restaurants, cafes and boarding houses for pilgrims. Every shop
is open to the street, and the shelves are bright with brass,
silver and copper vessels and gaily painted images of the gods
which are purchased by the pilgrims and other visitors. Benares
is famous all over the world for its brass work and its silks.
Half the shops in town are devoted to the sale of brass vessels
of various kinds, chiefly bowls of many forms and styles which
are required by the pilgrims in performing their religious duties.
In addition to these there are a hundred different varieties of
domestic and sacred utensils, many of them beautifully chased
and engraved, and they are sold to natives at prices that seem
absurd, but foreigners are expected to pay much more. Indeed,
every purchase is a matter of prolonged negotiation. The merchant
fixes his price very high and then lowers it gradually as he
thinks discreet, according to the behavior of his customer.

Handmade silks from looms in the cottages of the peasants can
still be purchased in Benares and they wear forever. Some are
coarse, and some are fine, but they are all peculiar to this
place and cannot be purchased elsewhere because the product is
limited and merchants cannot buy them in sufficient quantity to
make a profitable trade. The heavier qualities of silk are used
chiefly for men's clothing. They wash like linen, they never wear
out and are cool and comfortable. The brocades of Benares are
equally famous, and are used chiefly for the ceremonial dresses
of the rich and fashionable. Sometimes they are woven of threads
of pure gold and weigh as much as an armor. These are of course
very expensive, and are usually sold by weight. Very little account
is taken of the labor expended upon them, although the designs
and the workmanship are exquisite, because the weavers and
embroiderers are paid only a few cents a day. Beside these heavy
fabrics are costly tissues as fine as spiders' webs, also woven
of silver and gold and silk and linen. They are used by the women
as head dresses and scarfs and rich men use them for turbans.
Sometimes an Indian noble will have seventy or eighty yards of this
delicate gossamer wound about his head and the ends, beautifully
embroidered, with long fringes of gold, hang gracefully down upon
the shoulders.

It is almost impossible to go through the narrow streets of Benares
in the middle of the day, because they are so crowded with men,
women, children, priests, pilgrims, peddlers, beggars, mangy
dogs, sacred cows, fat and lazy bulls dedicated to Siva, and
other animate and inanimate obstructions. It seems to be the
custom for people to live and work in the streets. A family dining
will occupy half the roadway as they squat around their brass
bowls and jars and cram the rice and millet and curry into their
mouths with their fingers. The lower classes of Hindus never
use tables, knives or forks. The entire family eats out of the
same dish, while the dogs hang around waiting for morsels and a
sacred cow is apt to poke its nose into the circle at any time.
The street is often blocked up by a carpenter who is mending a
cabinet or putting a new board into a floor.

A little farther along a barber may be engaged in shaving the
face and head of some customer. Both of them are squatting face
to face, as often in the middle of the road as elsewhere, and
with bowls, razors, soap, bottles and other appurtenances of
the trade spread out between them. Barbers rank next to priests
in the religious aristocracy, and, as it is forbidden by the
Brahmins for a man to shave himself, they are of much importance
in the villages. Houses are usually set apart for them to live
in just as we furnish parsonages for our ministers. The village
barber has certain rights and exemptions that are not enjoyed by
other people. He is not required to do military service in the
native states; he does not have to pay taxes, and all members
of his caste have a monopoly of their business, which the courts
have sustained. The Brahmins also require that a man must be
shaved fasting.

Another matter of great importance which the barbers have to
do with is a little tuft of hair that is allowed to grow from
the top of the head of a child when all the rest of the scalp
is shaven. This is a commendable precaution, and is almost
universally taken in the interest of children, the scalp lock
being necessary to snatch the child away from the devil and other
evil spirits when it is in danger from those sources. As the
person grows older and capable of looking after himself this
precaution is not so important, although many people wear the
scalp lock or sacred topknot through life.

The sacred thread is even of greater importance in Hinduism,
and the Brahmins require that each child shall be invested with
it in his eighth year. Until that year also he must bear upon
his forehead the sign of his caste, which Ryas, our bearer, calls
"the god mark." The sacred thread is a fine silk cord, fastened
over the left shoulder, hanging down under the right arm like
a sash. None but the two highest castes have the right to wear
it, although members of the lower castes are even more careful
to do so. It is put on a child by the priest or the parent on
its eighth birthday with ceremonies similar and corresponding
to those of our baptism. After the child has been bathed and its
head has been carefully shaved it is dressed in new garments,
the richest that the family can afford. The priest or godfather
ties on the sacred thread and teaches the child a brief Sanskrit
text called a mantra, some maxim or proverb, or perhaps it may be
only the name of a deity which is to be kept a profound secret
and repeated 108 times daily throughout life. The deity selected
serves the child through life as a patron saint and protector.
Frequently the village barber acts in the place of a priest and
puts on the sacred thread. A similar thread placed around the
neck of a child, and often around its waist by the midwife
immediately after birth, is intended as an amulet or charm to
protect from disease and danger. It is usually a strand of silk
which has been blessed by some holy man or sanctified by being
placed around the neck of an idol of recognized sanctity.

The streets of the native quarters of Indian cities are filled
with naked babies and children. It is unfashionable for the members
of either sex to wear clothing until they are 8 or 10 years old.
The only garment they wear is the sacred string, with usually
a little silver charm or amulet suspended from it. Sometimes
children wear bracelets and anklets of silver, which tinkle as
they run about the streets. The little rascals are always fat
and chubby, and their bright black eyes give them an appearance
of unnatural intelligence. The children are never shielded from
the sun, although its rays are supposed to be fatal to full grown
and mature persons. Their heads being shaved, the brain is deprived
of its natural protection, and they never wear hats or anything
else, and play all day long under the fierce heat in the middle
of the road without appearing any the worse for it, although
foreign doctors insist that this exposure is one of the chief
causes of the enormous infant mortality in India. This may be
true, because a few days after birth babies are strapped upon
the back of some younger child or are carried about the streets
astride the hips of their mothers, brothers or sisters without
any protection from the sun.

[Illustration: A HINDU BARBER]

All outdoors is an Indian barber-shop. The barbers have no regular
places of business, but wander from house to house seeking and
serving customers, or squat down on the roadside and intercept
them as they pass. In the large cities you can see dozens of
them squatting along the streets performing their sacred offices,
shaving the heads and oiling the bodies of customers. Cocoanut oil
is chiefly used and is supposed to add strength and suppleness
to the body. It is administered with massage, thoroughly rubbed
in and certainly cannot injure anybody. In the principal parks
of Indian cities, at almost any time in the morning, you can see
a dozen or twenty men being oiled and rubbed down by barbers or
by friends, and a great deal of oil is used in the hair. After
a man is grown he allows his hair to grow long and wears it in a
knot at the back of his head. Some Hindus have an abundance of
hair, of which they are very proud, and upon which they spend
considerable care and labor.

The parks are not only used for dressing-rooms, but for bedrooms
also. Thousands of people sleep in the open air day and night,
stretched full length upon the ground. They wrap their robes
around their heads and leave their legs and feet uncovered. This
is the custom of the Indians of the Andes. No matter how cold
or how hot it may be they invariably wrap the head and face up
carefully before sleeping and leave the lower limbs exposed.
A Hindu does not care where he sleeps. Night and day are the
same to him. He will lie down on the sidewalk in the blazing
sunshine anywhere, pull his robe up over his head and sleep the
sleep of the just. You can seldom walk a block without seeing
one of these human bundles all wrapped up in white cotton lying
on the bare stone or earth in the most casual way, but they are
very seldom disturbed.

You have to get up early in the morning to see the most interesting
sights in Benares, which are the pilgrims engaged in washing
their sins away in the sacred but filthy waters of the Ganges,
and the outdoor cremation of the bodies of people who have died
during the night and late in the afternoon of the preceding day.
Hindus allow very little time between death and cremation. As
soon as the heart ceases to beat the undertakers, as we would
call the men who attend to these arrangements, are sent for and
preparation for the funeral pyre is commenced immediately. Three
or four hours only are necessary, and if death occurs later than
1 or 2 o'clock in the afternoon the ceremony must be postponed
until morning. Hence all of the burning ghats along the river
bank are busy from daylight until mid-day disposing of the bodies
of those who have died during the previous eighteen or twenty

The death rate in Benares is very high. Under ordinary circumstances
it is higher than that of other cities of India because of its
crowded and unsanitary condition, and because all forms of contagious
diseases are brought by pilgrims who come here themselves to die. As
I have already told you, it is the highest and holiest aspiration
of a pious Hindu to end his days within an area encircled by
what is known as the Panch-Kos Road, which is fifty miles in
length and bounds the City of Benares. It starts at one end of
the city at the river banks, and the other terminus is on the
river at the other end. It describes a parabola. As the city is
strung along the bank of the river several miles, it is nowhere
distant from the river more than six or seven miles. All who die
within this boundary, be they Hindu or Christian, Mohammedan or
Buddhist, pagan, agnostic or infidel, or of any other faith or
no faith, be they murderers, thieves, liars or violators of law,
and every caste, whatever their race, nationality or previous
condition, no matter whether they are saints or sinners, they
cannot escape admission to Siva's heaven. This is the greatest
possible inducement for people to hurry there as death approaches,
and consequently the non-resident death rate is abnormally high.

We started out immediately after daylight and drove from the
hotel to the river bank, where, at a landing place, were several
boats awaiting other travelers as well as ourselves. They were
ordinary Hindu sampans--rowboats with houses or cabins built
upon them--and upon the decks of our cabin comfortable chairs
were placed for our party. As soon as we were aboard the boatmen
shoved off and we floated slowly down the stream, keeping as
close to the shore as possible without jamming into the rickety
piers of bamboo that stretched out into the water for the use
of bathing pilgrims.

The bank of the river is one of the most picturesque and imposing
panoramas you can imagine. It rises from the water at a steep
grade, and is covered with a series of terraces upon which have
been erected towers, temples, mosques, palaces, shrines, platforms
and pavilions, bathing-houses, hospices for pilgrims, khans or
lodging-houses, hospitals and other structures for the accommodation
of the millions of people who come there from every part of India
on religious pilgrimages and other missions. These structures
represent an infinite variety of architecture, from the most severe
simplicity to the fantastic and grotesque. They are surmounted by
domes, pinnacles, minarets, spires, towers, cupolas and canopies;
they are built of stone, marble, brick and wood; they are painted
in every variety of color, sober and gay; the balconies and windows
of many of them are decorated with banners, bunting in all shapes
and colors, festoons of cotton and silk, garlands of flowers and
various expressions of the taste and enthusiasm of the occupants
or owners.

From the Sparrow Hills at Moscow one who has sufficient patience
can count 555 gilded and painted domes; from the cupola of St.
Peter's one may look down upon the roofs of palaces, cathedrals,
columns, obelisks, arches and ruins such as can be seen in no other
place; around the fire tower at Pera are spread the marvelous glories
of Stamboul, the Golden Horn and other parts of Constantinople;
from the citadel at Cairo you can have a bird's-eye view of one
of the most typical cities of the East; from the Eiffel Tower all
Paris and its suburbs may be surveyed, and there are many other
striking panoramas of artificial scenery, but nothing on God's
footstool resembles the picture of the holy Hindu city that may
be seen from the deck of a boat on the Ganges. It has often been
described in detail, but it is always new and always different,
and it fascinates its witnesses. There is a repulsiveness about
it which few people can overcome, but it is unique, and second
only to the Taj Mahal of all the sights in India.

A bathing ghat is a pavilion, pier or platform of stone covered
with awnings and roofs to protect the pilgrims from the sun. It
reaches into the river, where the water is about two feet deep,
and stone steps lead down to the bottom of the stream. Stretching
out from these ghats, in order to accommodate a larger number of
people, are wooden platforms, piers of slender bamboo, floats
and all kinds of contrivances, secure and insecure, temporary
and permanent, which every morning are thronged with pilgrims
from every part of India in every variety of costumes, crowding
in and out of the water, carrying down the sick and dying, all
to seek salvation for the soul, relief for the mind and healing
for the body which the Holy Mother Ganges is supposed to give.

The processions of pilgrims seem endless and are attended by
many pitiful sights. Aged women, crippled men, lean and haggard
invalids with just strength enough to reach the water's edge;
poor, shivering, starving wretches who have spent their last
farthing to reach this place, exhausted with fatigue, perishing
from hunger or disease, struggle to reach the water before their
breath shall fail. Here and there in the crowd appear all forms
of affliction--hideous lepers and other victims of cancerous
and ulcerous diseases, with the noses, lips, fingers and feet
eaten away; paralytics in all stages of the disease, people whose
limbs are twisted with rheumatism, men and women covered with all
kinds of sores, fanatical ascetics with their hair matted with
mud and their bodies smeared with ashes, ragged tramps, blind
and deformed beggars, women leading children or carrying infants
in their arms, handsome rajahs, important officials attended by
their servants and chaplains, richly dressed women with their
faces closely veiled, dignified and thoughtful Brahmins followed
by their disciples, farmers, laborers bearing the signs of toil,
and other classes of human society in every stage of poverty or
prosperity. They crowd past each other up and down the banks,
bathing in the water, drying themselves upon the piers or floats,
filling bottles and brass jars from the sacred stream, kneeling
to pray, listening to the preachers and absorbed with the single
thought upon which their faith is based.

Such exhibitions of faith can be witnessed nowhere else. It is
a daily repetition of the scene described in the New Testament
when the afflicted thronged the healing pool.

After dipping themselves in the water again and again, combing
their hair and drying it, removing their drenched robes--all
in the open air--and putting on holiday garments, the pilgrims
crowd around the priests who sit at the different shrines, and
secure from them certificates showing that they have performed
their duty to the gods. The Brahmins give each a text or a name
of a god to remember and repeat daily during the rest of his or
her life, and they pass on to the notaries who seal and stamp the
bottles of sacred water, sell idols, amulets, maps of heaven, charts
showing the true way of salvation, certificates of purification,
remedies for various diseases, and charms to protect cattle and
to make crops grow. Then they pass on to other Brahmins, who
paint the sign of their god upon their forehead, the frontal
mark which every pilgrim wears. Afterward they visit one temple
after another until they complete the pilgrimage at the Golden
Temple of Siva, where they make offerings of money, scatter barley
upon the ground and drop handfuls of rice and grain into big
stone receptacles from which the beggars who hang around the
temples receive a daily allowance. Finally they go to the priests
of the witness-bearing god, Ganasha, where the pilgrimage is
attested and recorded. Then they buy a few more idols, images
of their favorite gods, and return to their homes with a tale
that will be told around the fireside in some remote village
during the rest of their lives.


But the most weird and impressive spectacle at Benares, and one
which will never be forgotten, is the burning of the bodies of
the dead. At intervals, between the temples along the river bank,
are level places belonging to the several castes and leased to
associations or individuals who have huge piles of wood in the
background and attend to the business in a heartless, mercenary
way. The cost of burning a body depends upon the amount and kind
of fuel used. The lowest possible rate is three rupees or about
one dollar in our money. When the family cannot afford that they
simply throw the body into the sacred stream and let it float
down until the fish devour it. When a person dies the manager of
the burning ghat is notified. He sends to the house his assistants
or employes, who bring the body down to the river bank, sometimes
attended by members of the family, sometimes without witnesses.
It is not inclosed in a coffin, but lies upon a bamboo litter,
and under ordinary circumstances is covered with a sheet, but
when the family is rich it is wrapped in the richest of silks and
embroideries, and the coverlet is an expensive Cashmere shawl.

Arriving at the river an oblong pile of wood is built up and
the body is placed upon it. If the family is poor the pile is
low, short and narrow, and the limbs of the corpse have to be
bent so that they will not extend over the edges, as they often
do. When the body arrives it is taken down into the water and
laid in a shallow place, where it can soak until the pyre is
prepared. Usually the undertakers or friends remove the coverings
from the face and splash it liberally from the sacred stream.
When the pyre is ready they lift the body from the litter, adjust
it carefully, pile on wood until it is entirely concealed, then
thrust a few kindlings underneath and start the blaze. When the
cremation is complete the charred sticks are picked up by the
beggars and other poor people who are always hanging around and
claim this waste as their perquisite. The ashes are then gathered
up and thrown upon the stream and the current of the Ganges carries
them away.

Certain contractors have the right to search the ground upon
which the burning has taken place and the shallow river bed for
valuables that escaped the flames. It is customary to adorn the
dead with the favorite ornaments they wore when alive, and while
the gold will melt and diamonds may turn to carbon, jewels often
escape combustion, and these contractors are believed to do a
good business.

All this burning takes place in public in the open air, and sometimes
fifty, sixty or a hundred fires are blazing at the same moment.
You can sit upon the deck of your boat with your kodak in your
hand, take it all in and preserve the grewsome scene for future

While the faith of many make them whole, while remarkable cures
are occurring at Benares daily, while the sick and the afflicted
have assured relief from every ill and trouble, mental, moral and
physical, if they can only reach the water's edge, nevertheless
scattered about among the temples, squatting behind pieces of
bamboo matting or lacquered trays upon which rows of bottles
stand, are native doctors who sell all sorts of nostrums and
cure-alls that can possibly be needed by the human family, and
each dose is accompanied by a guarantee that it will surely cure.
These fellows are ignorant impostors and the municipal authorities
are careful to see that their drugs are harmless, while they make
no attempt to prevent them from swindling the people. It seems
to be a profitable trade, notwithstanding the popular faith in
the miraculous powers of the river.

Another class of prosperous humbugs is the fortune-tellers, who
are found around every temple and in every public place, ready
to forecast the fate of every enterprise that may be disclosed
to them; ready to predict good fortune and evil fortune, and
sometimes they display remarkable penetration and predict events
with startling accuracy.

Benares is as sacred to the Buddhists as it is to the Brahmins,
for it was here that Gautama, afterward called Buddha (a title
which means "The Enlightened"), lived in the sixth century before
Christ, and from here he sent out his missionaries to convert
the world. Gautama was a prince of the Sakya tribe, and of the
Rajput caste. He was born 620 B. C. and lived in great wealth
and luxury. Driving in his pleasure grounds one day he met a man
crippled with age; then a second man smitten with an incurable
disease; then a corpse, and finally a fakir or ascetic, walking
in a calm, dignified, serene manner. These spectacles set him
thinking, and after long reflection he decided to surrender his
wealth, to relinquish his happiness, and devote himself to the
reformation of his people. He left his home, his wife, a child
that had just been born to him, cut off his long hair, shaved
his head, clothed himself with rags, and taking nothing with
him but a brass bowl from which he could eat his food, and a
cup from which he could drink, he became a pilgrim, an inquirer
after Truth and Light. Having discovered that he could drink from
the hollow of his hand, he gave away his cup and kept nothing
but his bowl. That is the reason why every pilgrim and every
fakir, every monk and priest in India carries a brass bowl, for
although Buddhism is practically extinct in that country, the
teachings and the example of Gautama had a perpetual influence
over the Hindus.

After what is called the Great Renunciation, Gautama spent six
years mortifying the body and gradually reduced his food to one
grain of rice a day. But this brought him neither light nor peace
of mind. He thereupon abandoned further penance and devoted six
years to meditation, sitting under the now famous bo-tree, near
the modern town of Gaya. In the year 588 B. C. he obtained Complete
Enlightenment, and devoted the rest of his life to the instruction
of his disciples. He taught that all suffering is caused by indulging
the desires; that the only hope of relief lies in the suppression
of desire, and impressed his principles upon more millions of
believers than those of any other religion. It is the boast of
the Buddhists that no life was ever sacrificed; that no blood was
ever shed; that no suffering was ever caused by the propagation
of that faith and the conversion of the world.

After he became "enlightened," Gautama assumed the name of Buddha
and went to Benares, where he taught and preached, and had a
monastery at the town called Sarnath, now extinct, in the suburbs.
There, surrounded by heaps of ruins and rubbish, stand two great
topes or towers, the larger of which marks the spot where Buddha
preached his first sermon. It is supposed to have been built
in the sixth century of the Chinese era, for Hiouen Thsang, a
Chinese traveler who visited Sarnath in the seventh century,
describes the tower and monastery which was situated near it. It
is one of the most interesting as it is one of the most ancient
monuments in India, but we do not quite understand the purpose for
which it was erected. It is 110 feet high, 93 feet in diameter,
and built of solid masonry with the exception of a small chamber
in the center and a narrow shaft or chimney running up to the top.
The lower half is composed of immense blocks of stone clamped
together with iron, and at intervals the monument was encircled
by bands of sculptured relief fifteen feet wide. The upper part
was of brick, which is now in an advanced state of decay and
covered with a heavy crop of grass and bushes. A large tree grows
from the top.

There used to be an enormous monastery in the neighborhood, of
which the ruins remain. The cells and chapels were arranged around
a square court similar to the cloisters of modern monasteries.
A half mile distant is another tower and the ruins of other
monasteries, and every inch of earth in that part of the city is
associated with the life and labor of the great apostle of peace
and love, whose theology of sweetness and light and gentleness
was in startling contrast with the atrocious doctrines taught
by the Brahmins and the hideous rites practiced at the shrines
of the Hindu gods. But these towers are not the oldest relics
of Buddha. At Gaya, where he received the "enlightenment," the
actual birthplace of Buddhism, is a temple built in the year
500 A. D., and it stands upon the site of one that was 700 or
800 years older.

Benares is distinctly the city of Siva, but several thousand
other gods are worshiped there, including his several wives.
Uma is his first wife, and she is the exact counterpart of her
husband; Sati is his most devoted wife; Karali is his most horrible
wife; Devi, another of his wives, is the goddess of death; Kali
is the goddess of misfortune, and there are half a dozen other
ladies of his household whose business seems to be to terrorize
and distress their worshipers. But that is the ruling feature
of the Hindu religion. There is no sweetness or light in its
theology--it exists to make people unhappy and wretched, and to
bring misery, suffering and crime into the world.

The Hindus fear their gods, but do not love them, with perhaps
the exception of Vishnu, the second person in the Hindu trinity,
while Brahma is the third. These three are the supreme deities
in the pantheon, but Brahma is more of an abstract proposition
than an actual god. For purposes of worship the Hindus may be
divided into two classes--the followers of Siva and the followers
of Vishnu. They can be distinguished by the "god marks" or painted
signs upon their foreheads. Those who wear red are the adherents
of Siva, and the followers of Vishnu wear white. Subordinate
to these two great divinities are millions of other gods, and
it would take a volume to describe their various functions and

Vishnu is a much more agreeable god than Siva, the destroyer; he
has some human feeling, and his various incarnations are friendly
heroes, who do kind acts and treat their worshipers tolerably

The "Well of Healing," one of the holiest places in Benares,
is dedicated to Vishnu. He dug it himself, making a cavity in
the rock. Then, in the absence of water, he filled it with
perspiration from his own body. This remarkable assertion seems
to be confirmed by the foul odor that arises from the water,
which is three feet deep and about the consistency of soup. It
looks and smells as if it might have been a sample brought from
the Chicago River before the drainage canal was finished. It is
fed by an invisible spring, and there is no overflow, because,
after bathing in it to wash away their sins, the pilgrims drink
several cups of the filthy liquid, which often nauseates them,
and it is a miracle that any of them survive.

One of the most curious and picturesque of all the temples is
that of the goddess Durga, a fine building usually called the
Monkey Temple because of the number of those animals inhabiting
the trees around it. They are very tame and cunning and can spot
a tourist as far as they can see him. When they see a party of
strangers approaching the temple they begin to chatter in the
trees and then rush for the courtyard of the temple, where they
expect to be fed. It is one of the perquisites of the priests
to sell rice and other food for them at prices about ten times
more than it is worth, but the tourist has the fun of tossing
it to them and making them scramble for it. As Durga is the most
terrific of all of Siva's wives, and delights in death, torture,
bloodshed and every form of destruction, the Hindus are very
much afraid of her and the peace offerings left at this temple
are more liberal than at the others, a fact very much appreciated
by the priests.

Another of the most notable gods worshiped at Benares is Ganesa,
the first born of Siva and one of his horrible wives. He is the
God of Prudence and Policy, has the head of an elephant, which
is evidence of sagacity, and is attended by rats, an evidence
of wisdom and foresight. He has eight hands, and from the number
of appeals that are made to him he must keep them all busy. He is
invoked by Hindus of all sects and castes before undertaking any
business of importance. It is asserted that none of the million
deities is so often addressed as the God of Wisdom and Prudence.
If a man is undertaking any great enterprise, if he is starting in
a new business, or signing a contract, or entering a partnership;
if he is about to take a journey or buy a stock of goods or engage
in a negotiation, he appeals to Ganesa to assist him, and leaves
an offering at one of his temples as a sort of bribe. If a woman
is going to make a dress, or a servant changes his employer, or
if anyone begins any new thing, it is always safer to appeal
in advance to Ganesa, because he is a sensitive god, and if he
does not receive all the attention and worship he deserves is
apt to be spiteful. Some people are so particular that they never
begin a letter without saluting him in the first line.

Driving along the roads of this part of India one often sees
stones piled up against the trunk of a tree and at the top a
rude elephant's head, decorated with flowers or stained with oil
or red paint, and there will always be a little heap of gravel
before it. That elephant's head represents the god Ganesa, and
each stone represents an offering by some one who has passed
by, usually the poorest, who have not been able to visit the
temple, and, having nothing else to offer, not even a flower,
drop a stone before the rude shrine.

There are many sacred cows in Benares. You find them in temples
and wandering around the streets. Some of them are horribly diseased
and they are all lazy, fat and filthy. They have perfect freedom.
They are allowed to wander about and do as they please. They
feed from baskets of vegetables and salad that stand before the
groceries and in the markets, and sometimes consume the entire
stock of some poor huckster, who dare not drive them away or
even rebuke them. If he should attempt to do so the gods would
visit him with perpetual misfortunes. Children play around the
beasts, but no one ever abuses them. Pilgrims buy food for them
and stuff them with sweetmeats, and it is an act of piety and
merit to hang garlands over their horns and braid ribbons in
their tails. When they die they are buried with great ceremony,
like the sacred bulls of Egypt.

Benares is the principal center of the idol trade, and a large
part of the population are engaged in making images of the various
gods in gold, silver, brass, copper, wood, stone, clay and other
materials. Most of the work is done in the households. There
are several small factories, but none employs more than ten or
a dozen men, and the streets are lined with little shops, no
bigger than an ordinary linen closet in an American house. Each
opens entirely upon the street, there are no doors or windows,
and when the proprietor wants to close he puts up heavy wooden
shutters that fit into grooves in the threshold and the beam
that sustains the roof. The shelves that hang from the three
walls are covered with all kinds of images in all sizes and of
all materials, and between sales the proprietor squats on the
floor in the middle of his little establishment making more.
The largest number are made of brass and clay. They are shaped
in rude molds and afterward finished with the file and chisel.
The large idols found in the temples are often works of art,
but many of them and some of the most highly revered are of the
rudest workmanship.

There is a funny story that has been floating about for many
years that most of the idols worshiped in heathen lands are made
in Christian countries and shipped over by the car load. This
is certainly not true so far as India is concerned. There is
no evidence upon the records of the custom-house to show that
any idols are imported and it would be impossible for any
manufacturer in the United States or Europe to compete with the
native artisans of Benares or other cities.



About 5,000 missionaries of various religions and cults are working
among the people of India; two-thirds of them Protestants, and about
1,500 Americans, including preachers, teachers, doctors, nurses,
editors and all concerned. Their names fill a large directory,
and they represent all grades and shades of theology, philosophy,
morality and other methods of making human beings better, and
providing for the salvation of their souls. India is a fertile
and favorite field for such work. The languid atmosphere of the
country and the contemplative disposition of the native encourage
it. The Aryan always was a good listener, and you must remember
that India is a very big country--a continent, indeed, with a mixed
multitude of 300,000,000 souls, some striving for the unattainable
and others hopelessly submerged in bogs of vice, superstition
and ignorance. There are several stages of civilization also.
You can find entire tribes who still employ stone implements and
weapons, and several provinces are governed by a feudal system
like that of Europe in the middle ages. There are thousands who
believe that marriage is forbidden by the laws of nature; there
are millions of men with several wives, and many women with more
than one husband. There are tribes in which women control all
the power, hold all the offices, own all the property and keep
the line of inheritance on their side. There are vast multitudes,
on the other hand, in India who believe that women have no souls
and no hereafter, and advocate the murder of girl babies as fast
as they are born, saving just enough to do the cooking and mending
and to keep the race alive. Communities that have reached an
intellectual culture above that of any nation in Europe are
surrounded by 250,000,000 human beings who cannot read or write.
There are thinkers who have reasoned out the profoundest problems
that have ever perplexed mankind, and framed systems of philosophy
as wise as the world has ever known, and many of their wives
and daughters have never been outside of the houses in which
they were born; all of which indicates the size of the field of
missionary labor and the variety of work to be done.

India contains some of the most sublime and beautiful of all the
non-Christian religions, and perfect systems of morals devised
by men who do not believe in a future life. More than 60,000,000
of the inhabitants accept Jesus Christ as an inspired teacher
and worship the same God that we do under another name, and more
than three times that number believe that the Ruler of All Things
is a demon who delights in cruelty and slaughter and gives his
favor only in exchange for suffering and torture. A tribe in
northwest India believes that God lives on the top of a mountain
in plain sight of them, and up in the northeast are the Nagas,
who declare that after the Creator made men He put them into a
cellar from which they escaped into the world because one day
he forgot to put back the stone that covers a hole in the top.
More fantastic theories about the origin and the destiny of man
are to be found in India than in any other country, and those
who have faith in them speak 167 different languages, as returned
by the census. Some of these languages are spoken by millions
of people; others by a few thousand only; some of them have a
literature of poetry and philosophy that has survived the ages,
while others are unwritten and only used for communication by
wild and isolated tribes in the mountains or the jungles.

Christian missionaries have been at work in India for four hundred
years. St. Francis Xavier was one of the pioneers. Protestants
have been there for a little more than a century, and since 1804
have distributed 13,000,000 of Bibles. During the last ten years
they have sold 5,000,000 copies of the Scriptures either complete
or in part; for the Gospels in each of the great Indian languages,
like two sparrows, can now be bought for a farthing. In 1898,
497,000 copies were issued; in 1902, more than 600,000; and thus
the work increases. More than 140 colporteurs, or agents, mostly
natives, are peddling the Bible for sale in different parts of
India. They do nothing else. More than 400 native women are engaged
in placing it in the secluded homes of the Hindus among women of
the harems, and teaching them to read it. No commercial business
is conducted with greater energy, enterprise and ability than
the work of the Bible Society, in this empire, and while the
missionaries have enormous and perplexing difficulties to overcome,
they, too, are making remarkable headway.

You frequently hear thoughtless people, who know nothing of the
facts, but consider it fashionable to sneer at the missionaries,
declare that Hindus never are converted. The official census
of the government of India, which is based upon inquiries made
directly of the individuals themselves, by sworn agents, and
is not compiled from the reports of the missionary societies,
shows an increase in the number of professing Christians from
2,036,000 in 1891 to 2,664,000 in 1901, a gain of 625,000, or
30 per cent in ten years, and in some of the provinces it has
been remarkable. In the Central Provinces and United Provinces
the increase in the number of persons professing Christianity,
according to the census, was more than 300 per cent. In Assam,
which is in the northeastern extremity of India, and the Punjab,
which occupies a similar position in the northwest, the increase
was nearly 200 per cent. In Bengal, of which Calcutta is the
chief city, the gain was nearly 50 per cent; in the province
of Bombay it was nearly 40 per cent, and in Madras and Burmah
it was 20 per cent.

The dean of the American missionary colony is Rev. R. A. Hume,
of Ahmednagar, who belongs to the third, and his daughter to
the fourth, generation of missionaries in the family. He was
born in Bombay, where his father and his grandfather preached
and taught for many years. Rev. Mr. Ballantine, the grandfather
of Mrs. Hume, went over from southern Indiana in 1835 and settled
at Ahmednagar, where the Protestants had begun work four years

The first Christian mission ever undertaken by Americans in a
foreign country was at Bombay in 1813, when Gordon Hall and Samuel
Newall, fresh from Williams College, went to convert the heathen
Hindus. The governor general and the officials of the East India
Company ordered them away, for fear that they would stir up trouble
among the natives and suffer martyrdom, but they would not go, and
were finally allowed to remain under protest. A Baptist society
in England had sent out three men--Messrs. Carey, Ward and
Marshman--a few years before. They went to Calcutta, but the
East India Company would not permit them to preach or teach,
so they removed to Gerampore, where they undertook evangelical
work under the protection of the Dutch. But nowadays the British
government cannot do enough to help the missionaries, particularly
the Americans, who are treated in the same generous manner as
those of the Established Church of England, and are given grants
of money, land and every assistance that they officially could

Speaking of the services of the missionaries during the recent
famine, Lord Curzon said: "I have seen cases where the entire
organization of a vast area and the lives of thousands of beings
rested upon the shoulders of a single individual, laboring on
in silence and in solitude, while his bodily strength was fast
ebbing away. I have known of natives who, inspired by his example,
have thrown themselves with equal ardor into the struggle, and
have unmurmuringly laid down their lives for their countrymen.
Particularly must I mention the noble efforts of missionary agencies
of various Christian denominations. If there ever was an occasion
in which it was open to them to vindicate the highest standards
of their beneficent calling it was here, and strenuously and
faithfully have they performed the task."

In 1901 the government of India recognized the labors and devotion
of the American missionaries during the previous famine by bestowing
upon Dr. Hume the Kaiser-I-Hind gold medal, which is never bestowed
except for distinguished public services, and is not conferred
every year. It is considered the highest honor that can be bestowed
upon a civilian.

Sir Muncherjee Bharnajgree, a Parsee member of parliament, recently
asserted that the American missionaries were doing more for the
industrial development of the Indian Empire than the government
itself. The government recognizes the importance of their work
and has given liberal grants to the industrial schools of the
American Board of Foreign Missions, which are considered the
most successful and perhaps the most useful in India. It is
significant to find that the most important of these schools
was founded by Sir D. M. Petit, a wealthy Parsee merchant and
manufacturer, at the city of Ahmednagar, where 400 bright boys
are being trained for mechanics and artisans under the direction
of James Smith, formerly of Toronto and Chicago. D. C. Churchill,
formerly of Oberlin, Ohio, and a graduate of the Boston School
of Technology, a mechanical engineer of remarkable genius, has
another school in which hand weaving of fine fabrics is taught
to forty or fifty boys who show remarkable skill. Mr. Churchill,
who came out in 1901, soon detected the weakness of the native
method of weaving, and has recently invented a hand loom which
can turn out thirty yards of cloth a day, and will double, and
in many cases treble, the productive capacity of the average
worker. And he expects soon to erect a large building in which
he can set up the new looms and accommodate a much larger number
of pupils. J. B. Knight, a scientific agriculturist who also came
out in 1901, has a class of forty boys, mostly orphans whose
fathers and mothers died during the late famine. They are being
trained in agricultural chemistry and kindred subjects in order to
instruct the native farmers throughout that part of the country.
Rev. R. Windsor, of Oberlin, is running another school founded by
Sir D. M. Petit at Sirur, 125 miles east of Bombay, where forty
boys are being educated as machinists and mechanics. At Ahmednagar,
Mrs. Wagentreiver has a school of 125 women and girls, mostly
widows and orphans of the late famine, who are being taught the
art of lacemaking, and most of her graduates are qualified to
serve as instructors in other lace schools which are constantly
being established in other parts of India. There is also a school
for potters, and the Americans are sending to the School of Art
at Bombay sixty boys to be designers, draughtsmen, illustrators
and qualified in other of the industrial arts.

It is interesting to discover that the School of Industrial Arts
founded by Sir D. M. Petit at Ahmednagar owes its origin to the
Chicago Manual Training School, whose aims and methods were carefully
studied and applied to Indian conditions with equally satisfactory
results. The principal and founder of the school, James Smith, was
sent out and is supported by the New England Congregational Church
on the North Side, Chicago, and generous financial assistance
has been received from Mr. Victor F. Lawson and other members of
that church. It was started in 1891 with classes in woodwork and
mechanical drawing, and has prospered until it has now outgrown
in numbers and importance the high school with which it was
originally connected.

This school is the most conspicuous example of combined English
education and industry in western India, and has received the
highest praise from government officers. Its grant from the
government, too, is higher than that of any other school in the
province. The government paid half of the cost of all the buildings
and equipments, while a very large part of the other half was
paid by people of this country, foremost among the donors being
the late Sir D. M. Petit, Bart., who built and equipped the first
building entirely at his own expense.

Mr. Churchill's workshops have also been very highly commended by
the government inspectors, and his invention has attracted wide
notice because it has placed within reach of the local weavers
an apparatus which is an immense saving in labor and will secure
its operators at least three times the results and compensations
for the same expenditure of time and toil. It thus affords them
means of earning a more comfortable living, and at the same time
gives the people a supply of cheap cotton cloth which they require,
and utilizes defective yarn which the steam power mills cannot
use. The government inspectors publicly commend Mr. Churchill
for declining to patent his invention and for leaving it free
to be used by everybody without royalty of any kind.

It is exceedingly gratifying to hear from all sides these and
other similar encomiums of the American missionaries, and it
makes a Yankee proud to see the respect that is felt for and paid
to them. Lord Curzon, the governors of the various provinces and
other officials are hearty in their commendation of American men
and women and American methods, and especially for the services
our missionaries rendered during the recent famines and plagues.
They testify that in all popular discontent and uprisings they
have exerted a powerful influence for peace and order and for
the support of the government. Lord Northcote, recently governor
of Bombay, in a letter to President Roosevelt, said:

"In Ahmednagar I have seen for myself what practical results
have been accomplished, and during the famine we owed much to the
practical schemes of benevolence of the American missionaries."

On the first of January, 1904, the viceroy of India bestowed upon
William I. Chamberlin of the American Mission College at Madras the
Kaiser-I-Hind gold medal for his services to the public. A similar
medal was conferred upon Dr. Louis Klopsch of the Christian Herald,
New York, who collected and forwarded $600,000 for direct famine
relief and provided for the support of 5,000 famine orphans for
five years. Other large sums were sent from the United States.
The money was not given away. The American committee worked in
cooperation with the agents of the government and other relief
organizations, so as to avoid duplication. They provided clothing
for the naked and work at reasonable wages for the starving. They
bought seed for farmers and assisted them to hire help to put
it in the ground. The rule of the committee in the disbursement
of this money was not to pauperize the people, but to help those
who helped themselves, and to require a return in some form for
every penny that was given. Dr. Hume says: "The gift was charity,
but the system was business." The American relief money directly
and indirectly reached several millions of people and has provided
for the maintenance and education of more than five thousand
orphans, boys and girls, who were left homeless and helpless
when their fathers and mothers died of starvation. More than
320 widows, entirely homeless, friendless and dependent, were
placed in comfortable quarters, taught how to work, and are now
self-supporting. Two homes for widows are maintained by the
missionaries of the American Board, one in Bombay in charge of
Miss Abbott and her sister, Mrs. Dean, with nearly 200 inmates,
and the other at Ahmednagar, in charge of Mrs. Hume.

The medical and dispensary work of the American missions is also
very extensive, and its importance to the peasant class and the
blessings it confers upon the poor cannot be realized by those
people who have never visited India and other countries of the
East and seen the condition of women. As I told you in a previous
chapter, ninety per cent of the Hindu population of India will not
admit men physicians to their homes to see women patients, and the
only relief that the wives, mothers and daughters and sisters in
the zenanas can obtain when they are ill is from the old-fashioned
herb doctors and charm mixers of the bazaars. Now American women
physicians are scattered all over India healing the wounded and
curing the sick. There are few from other countries, although
the English, Scotch and German Lutherans have many missions.



Next to the United States, India is the largest cotton-producing
country in the world, and, with the exception of Galveston and
New Orleans, Bombay claims to be the largest cotton market. The
shipments have never reached $50,000,000 a year, but have gone
very near that point. Every large state in southern India produces
cotton, but Bombay and Berar are the principal producers. The
area for the whole of India in 1902-3 was 14,232,000 acres, but
this has been often exceeded. In 1893-4 the area planted was
nearly 15,500,000. The average is about 14,000,000 acres. Cotton
is usually grown in conjunction with some other crop, and in
certain portions of India two crops a year are produced on the
same soil. The following table will show the number of bales
produced during the years named:

Bales of Bales of
400 lbs. 400 lbs.

1892-3 1,924,000 1897-8 2,198,000
1893-4 2,180,000 1898-9 2,425,000
1894-5 1,957,000 1899-0 843,000
1895-6 2,364,000 1900-1 2,309,000
1896-7 1,929,000 1901-2 1,960,000

The failure of the crop in 1899-1900 was due to the drought which
caused the great famine.

About one-half of the crop is used in the local mills. The greater
part of the remainder is shipped to Japan, which is the best
customer. Germany comes next, and, curiously enough, Great Britain
is one of the smallest purchasers. Indian cotton is exclusively of
the short staple variety and not nearly so good as that produced
in Egypt. Repeated attempts have been made to introduce Egyptian
cotton, but, while some of the experiments have been temporarily
successful, it deteriorates the second year.

The cost of producing cotton is very much less than in the United
States, because the land always yields a second crop of something
else, which, under ordinary circumstances, ought to pay taxes
and often fixed charges, as well as the wages of labor, which
are amazingly low, leaving the entire proceeds of the cotton
crop to be counted as clear gain. The men and women who work in
the cotton fields of India are not paid more than two dollars
a month. That is considered very good wages. All the shipping is
done in the winter season; the cotton is brought in by railroad
and lies in bags on the docks until it is transferred to the
holds of ships. During the winter season the cotton docks are
the busiest places around Bombay.

The manufacture of cotton is increasing rapidly. There are now
eighty-four mills in Bombay alone, with a capital of more than
$25,000,000, and all of them have been established since 1870,
including some of the most modern, up-to-date plants in existence.
The people of Bombay have about $36,000,000 invested in mills,
most of it being owned by Parsees. There are mills scattered all
over the country. The industry dates from 1851, and during the
last twenty years the number of looms has increased 100 per cent
and spindles 172 per cent. January 1, 1891, there were 127 mills,
with 117,922 operatives, representing an investment of L7,844,000.
On the 31st of March, 1904, according to the official records,
there were 201 cotton mills in India, containing 43,676,000 looms
and 5,164,360 spindles, with a combined capital of L12,175,000.
This return, however, does not include thirteen mills which were
not heard from, and they will probably increase the number of
looms and spindles considerably and the total capital to more
than $60,000,000.

The wages paid operatives in the cotton mills of India are almost
incredibly low. I have before me an official statement from a
mill at Cawnpore, which is said to give a fair average for the
entire country. The mills of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta and
other large cities pay about one-half more. At smaller places
farther in the north the rates are much less. The wages are given
in rupees and decimals of a rupee, which in round numbers is
worth 33 cents in our money.


1885. 1890. 1900. 1903.
Head mistry 17.00 24.80 34.90 33.00
Card cleaner 5.00 5.25 8.70 8.84
Spare hands 5.00 5.25 5.90 6.58
Head mistry 8.50 19.60 34.00 36.42
Minder 5.00 6.37 6.20 7.12
Spare hands 5.00 5.00 6.00 6.50
Weaving department--
Mistry 13.50 18.00 18.80 17.81
Healder 5.00 5.50 7.60 7.09
Weaver 6.00 10.50 8.62 9.14
Finishing department--
Washers and bleachers 6.00 18.00 18.70 21.25
Dyer 5.00 5.50 5.50 6.08
Finishing man 5.00 5.50 6.00 6.53
Engineering shop--
Boiler mistry 6.00 9.00 9.30 10.16
Engine man 8.00 11.00 10.80 14.62
Oil man 6.00 6.00 6.20 6.64
Boiler man 6.00 6.00 6.90 7.31
Carpenter 10.00 10.00 11.10 11.67
Blacksmith 11.50 13.50 13.80 15.84
Fitter 10.00 11.00 13.98

These wages, however, correspond with those received by persons in
other lines of employment. The postmen employed by the government,
or letter carriers as we call them, receive a maximum of only
12.41 rupees a month, which is about $3.50, and a minimum of
9.25, which is equivalent to $3.08 in our money. Able-bodied
and skilled mechanics--masons, carpenters and blacksmiths--get
no more than $2.50 to $3.50 a month, and bookkeepers, clerks
and others having indoor occupations, from $4.10 to $5.50 per
month. Taking all of the wage-earners together in India, their
compensation per month is just about as much as the same class
receive per day in the United States.

The encouragement of manufacturing is one of the methods the
government has adopted to prevent or mitigate famines, and its
policy is gradually becoming felt by the increase of mechanical
industries and the employment of the coolie class in lines other
than agriculture. At the same time, the problem is complicated
by the fact that the greater part of the mechanical products of
India have always been produced in the households. Each village
has its own weavers, carpenters, brass workers, blacksmiths and
potters, who are not able to compete with machine-made goods.
Many of these local craftsmen have attained a high standard of
artistic skill in making up silk, wool, linen, cotton, carpets,
brass, iron, silver, wood, ivory and other materials. But their
arts must necessarily decay or depreciate if the local markets are
flooded with cheap products from factories, and there a question
of serious consequence has arisen.

There is very active rivalry in the tea trade of late years.
China formerly supplied the world. Thirty years ago very little
was exported from any other country. Then Japan came in as an
energetic competitor and sent its tea around everywhere, but
the consumption increased as rapidly as the cultivation, so that
China kept her share of the trade. About fifteen years ago India
came into the market; and then Ceylon. The Ceylon export trade
has been managed very skillfully. There has been an enormous
increase in the acreage planted, and 92 per cent of the product
has been sent to the United Kingdom, where it has gradually
supplanted that of China and Japan. Australia has also become
a large consumer of India tea, and the loyalty with which the
two great colonies of Great Britain have stood together is
commendable. In England alone the consumption of India tea has
increased nearly 70 per cent within the last ten years. This is
the result of careful and intelligent effort on the part of the
government. While wild tea is found in Assam and in several of
the states adjoining the Himalayas, tea growing is practically
a new thing in India compared with China and Japan. It was not
until 1830, when Lord William Benthinck was viceroy, that any
considerable amount of tea was produced in India. He introduced
the plant from China and brought men from that country at the
expense of the East India Company to teach the Hindus how to
cultivate it. For many years the results were doubtful and the
efforts of the government were ridiculed. But for the great faith
of two or three patriotic officials the scheme would have been
abandoned. It was remarkably successful, however, until now the
area under tea includes more than half a million acres, the number
of persons employed in the industry exceeds 750,000, the capital
invested in plantations is more than $100,000,000 and the approximate
average yield is about 200,000,000 pounds. In 1903 159,000,000
pounds were exported to England alone, and the total exports
were 182,594,000 pounds. The remainder is consumed in India,
and more than a million pounds annually are purchased for the
use of the army. Among other consumers the United States bought
1,080,000 and China 1,337,000 pounds. Russia, which is the largest
consumer of tea of all the nations, bought 1,625,000 pounds,
and this was a considerable increase, showing that India tea is
becoming popular there.

The industry in India and Ceylon, however, is in a flourishing
condition, the area under cultivation has expanded 85 per cent
and the product has increased 167 per cent during the last fifteen
years. The cultivation is limited to sections where there is a
heavy rainfall and a humid climate, because tea requires water
while it is growing as well as while it is being consumed. Where
these conditions exist it is a profitable crop. In the valleys
of Assam the yield often reaches 450 pounds to the acre. The
quality of the tea depends upon the manner of cultivation, the
character of the soil, the amount of moisture and sunshine and
the age of the leaf at the time of picking. Young, tender leaves
have the finest flavor, and bring the highest prices, but shrink
enormously in curing, and many growers consider it more profitable
to leave them until they are well matured. It requires about
four pounds of fresh leaves to make one pound of dry leaves,
and black tea and green tea are grown from the same bush. If the
leaf is completely dried immediately after picking it retains
its green color, but if it is allowed to stand and sweat for
several hours a kind of fermentation takes place which turns it

There are now about 236,000 acres of coffee orchards in India,
about 111,760 persons are employed upon them and the exports
will average 27,000,000 pounds a year. The coffee growers of
India complain that they cannot compete with Brazil and other
Spanish-American countries where overproduction has forced down
prices below the margin of profit, but the government is doing
as much as it can to encourage and sustain the industry, and
believes that they ought at least to grow enough to supply the
home market. But comparatively little coffee is used in India.
Nearly everybody drinks tea.

Three million acres of land is devoted to the cultivation of
sugar, both cane and beet. During the Cuban revolution the industry
secured quite an impetus, but since the restoration of peace and
the adjustment of affairs, prices have gone down considerably,
and the sugar of India finds itself in direct competition with
the bounty-paid product of Germany, France, Belgium, Austria
and other European countries. In order to protect its planters
the government has imposed countervailing duties against European
sugar, but there has been no perceptible effect from this policy
as yet.

The indigo trade has been very important, but is also in peril
because of the manufacture of chemical dyes in Germany and France.
Artificial indigo and other dyes can be produced in a laboratory
much cheaper than they can be grown in the fields, and, naturally,
people will buy the low-priced article, Twenty years ago India
had practically a monopoly of the indigo trade, and 2,000,000
acres of land were planted to that product, while the value of
the exports often reached $20,000,000. The area and the product
have been gradually decreasing, until, in 1902, only a little
more than 800,000 acres were planted and the exports were valued
at less than $7,000,000.

The quinine industry is also in a deplorable state. About thirty
years ago the Indian government sent botanists to South America
to collect young cinchona trees. They were introduced into various
parts of the empire, where they flourished abundantly until the
export of bark ran nearly to 4,000,000 pounds a year, but since
1899 there has been a steady fall. Exports have declined, prices
have been low, and the government plantations have not paid expenses.
Rather than export the bark at a loss the government has manufactured
sulphate at its own factories and has furnished it at cost price
to the health authorities of the native states, the British
provinces, the army and the hospitals and dispensaries.

One of the most interesting places about Calcutta is the Royal
Botanical Gardens, where many important experiments have been
made for the benefit of the agricultural industry of India. It is
one of the most beautiful and extensive arboreums in the world,
and at the same time its economic usefulness has been unsurpassed
by any similar institution. It was established nearly 150 years
ago by Colonel Kyd, an ardent botanist, under the auspices of
the East India Company, and from its foundation it was intended
to be, as it has been, a source of botanical information, a place
for botanical experiments, and a garden in which plants of economic
value could be cultivated and issued to the public for the purpose
of introducing new products into India. It has been of incalculable
value in all these particulars, not only by introducing new plants,
but by demonstrating which could be grown with profit.


The garden lies along the bank of the Ganges, about six miles
south of the city, and is filled with trees and plants of the
rarest varieties and the greatest beauty you can imagine. No
other garden will equal it except perhaps that at Colombo. It
is 272 acres in extent, has a large number of ponds and lakes,
and many fine avenues of palms, mahogany, mangos, tamarinds,
plantains and other trees, and its greatest glory is a banyan
tree which is claimed to be the largest in the world.

A banyan, as you know, represents a miniature forest rather than
a single tree, because it has branches which grow downward as
well as upward, and take root in the ground and grow with great
rapidity. This tree is about 135 years old. The circumference of
its main trunk five and a half feet from the ground is 51 feet.
Its topmost leaf is eighty-five feet from the ground. It has 464
aerial roots, as the branches which run down to the ground are
called, and the entire tree is 938 feet in circumference. It
is large enough to shelter an entire village under its foliage.

Several other remarkable trees are to be found in that garden.
One of them is called "The Crazy Tree," because about thirty-five
different varieties of trees have been grafted upon the same
trunk, and, as a consequence, it bears that many different kinds
of leaves. Its foliage suggests a crazy quilt.

Benares is the center of the opium traffic of India, which, next
to the land tax, is the most productive source of revenue to
the government. It is a monopoly inherited from the Moguls in
the middle ages and passed down from them through the East India
Company to the present government, and the regulations for the
cultivation, manufacture and sale of the drug have been very
little changed for several hundred years. There have been many
movements, public, private, national, international, religious
and parliamentary, for its suppression; there have been many
official inquiries and investigations; volumes have been written
setting forth all the moral questions involved, and it is safe
to say that every fact and argument on both sides has been laid
before the public; yet it is an astonishing fact that no official
commission or legally constituted body, not a single Englishman who
has been personally responsible for the well-being of the people of
India or has even had an influential voice in the affairs of the
empire or has ever had actual knowledge and practical experience
concerning the effects of opium, has ever advocated prohibition
either in the cultivation of the poppy or in the manufacture of
the drug. Many have made suggestions and recommendations for
the regulation and restriction of the traffic, and the existing
laws are the result of the experience of centuries. But anti-opium
movements have been entirely in the hands of missionaries, religious
and moral agitators in England and elsewhere outside of India,
and politicians who have denounced the policy of the government
to obtain votes against the party that happened to be in power.

This is an extraordinary statement, but it is true. It goes without
saying that the use of opium in any form is almost universally
considered one of the most dangerous and destructive of vices,
and it is not necessary in this connection to say anything on
that side of the controversy. It is interesting, however, and
important, to know the facts and arguments used by the Indian
government to justify its toleration of the vice, which, generally
speaking, is based upon three propositions:

1. That the use of opium in moderation is necessary to thousands
of honest, hard-working Hindus, and that its habitual consumers
are among the most useful, the most vigorous and the most loyal
portion of the population. The Sikhs, who are the flower of the
Indian army and the highest type of the native, are habitual
opium smokers, and the Rajputs, who are considered the most manly,
brave and progressive of the native population, use it almost

2. That the government cannot afford to lose the revenue and
much less afford to undertake the expense and assume the risk of
rebellion and disturbances incurred by any attempt at prohibition.

3. That the export of opium to China and other countries is
legitimate commerce.

The opium belt of India is about 600 miles long and 180 miles
wide, lying just above a line drawn from Bombay to Calcutta. The
total area cultivated with poppies will average 575,000 acres.
The crop is grown in a few months in the summer, so that the land
can produce another crop of corn or wheat during the rest of the
year. About 1,475,000 people are engaged in the cultivation of the
poppy and about 6,000 in the manufacture of the drug. The area
is regulated by the government commissioners. The smallest was in
1892, when only 454,243 acres were planted, and the maximum was
reached in 1900, when 627,311 acres were planted. In the latter
year the government adopted 625,000 acres as the standard area,
and 48,000 chests as the standard quantity to be produced in
British india. Hereafter these figures will not be exceeded. The
largest amount ever produced was in 1872, when the total quantity
manufactured in British India was 61,536 chests of 140 pounds
average weight. The lowest amount during the last thirty-five
years was in 1894, when only 37,539 chests were produced. In
addition to this from 20,000 to 30,000 chests are produced in
the native states.

The annual average value of the crop for the last twenty years
has been about $60,000,000 in American money, the annual revenue
has been about $24,000,000, and the officials say that this is a
moderate estimate of the sum which the reformers ask the government
of India to sacrifice by suppressing the trade. In addition to
this the growers receive about $5,500,000 for opium "trash,"
poppy seeds, oil and other by-products which are perfectly free
from opium. The "trash" is made of stalks and leaves and is used
at the factories for packing purposes; the seeds of the poppy
are eaten raw and parched, are ground for a condiment in the
preparation of food, and oil is produced from them for table,
lubricating and illuminating purposes, and for making soaps,
paints, pomades and other toilet articles. Oil cakes made from the
fiber of the seeds after the oil has been expressed are excellent
food for cattle, being rich in nitrogen, and the young seedlings,
which are removed at the first weeding of the crop, are sold in
the markets for salad and are very popular with the lower classes.

No person can cultivate poppies in India without a license from
the government, and no person can sell his product to any other
than government agents, who ship it to the official factories at
Patna and Ghazipur, down the River Ganges a little below Benares.
Any violation of the regulations concerning the cultivation of
the poppy, the manufacture, transport, possession, import or
export, sale or use of opium, is punished by heavy penalties,
both fine and imprisonment. The government regulates the extent
of cultivation according to the state of the market and the stock
of opium on hand. It pays an average of $1 a pound for the raw
opium, and wherever necessary the opium commissioners are authorized
to advance small sums to cultivators to enable them to pay the
expense of the crop. These advances are deducted from the amount
due when the opium is delivered. The yield, taking the country
together, will average about twelve and a half pounds, or about
twelve dollars per acre, not including the by-products.

The raw opium arrives at the factory in big earthen jars in the
form of a paste, each jar containing about 87-1/2 pounds. It
is carefully tested for quality and purity and attempts at
adulteration are severely punished. The grower is paid cash by
the government agents. The jars, having been emptied into large
vats, are carefully scraped and then smashed so as to prevent
scavengers from obtaining opium from them, and there is a mountain
of potsherds on the river bank beside the factory.

Each vat contains about 20,000 pounds of opium, lying six or
eight inches deep, and about the consistency of ordinary paste.
Hundreds of coolies are employed to mix it by trampling it with
their bare feet. The work is severe upon the muscles of the legs
and the tramplers have to be relieved every half hour. Three
gangs are generally kept at work, resting one hour and working
half an hour. Ropes are stretched for them to take hold of. After
the stuff is thoroughly mixed it is made up into cakes by men
and women, who wrap it in what is known as opium "trash," pack
it in boxes and seal them hermetically for export. Each cake
weighs about ten pounds, is about the size of a croquet ball,
and is worth from ten to fifteen dollars, according to its purity
under assay.

The largest part of the product is shipped to China, but a certain
number of chests are retained for sale to licensed dealers in
different provinces by the excise department. In 1904 there were
8,730 licensed shops, generally distributed throughout the entire
empire. But it is claimed by Lord Curzon that the average number
of consumers is only about two in every thousand of the population.

The revenue from licenses is very large. No dealer is permitted
to sell more than three tolas (about one and one-eighth ounces)
to any person, and no opium can be consumed upon the premises
of the dealer. Private smoking clubs and public opium dens were
forbidden in 1891, but the strict enforcement of the law has been
considered inexpedient for many reasons, chief of which is that
less opium is consumed when it is smoked in these places than when
it is used privately in the form of pills, which are more common
in India than elsewhere. Frequent investigation has demonstrated
that opium consumers are more apt to use it to excess when it is
taken in private than when it is taken in company, and there are
innumerable regulations for the government of smoking-rooms and
clubs and for the restriction and discouragement of the habit.
The amount consumed in India is about 871,820 pounds annually.
The amount exported will average 9,800,000 pounds.

Opium intended for export is sold at auction at Calcutta at the
beginning of every month, and, in order to prevent speculation,
the number of chests to be sold each month during the year is
announced in January. Considerable fluctuation in prices is caused
by the demand and the supply on hand in China. The lowest price
on record was obtained at the June sale in 1898, when all that
was offered went for 929 rupees per chest of 140 pounds, while
the highest price ever obtained was 1,450 rupees per chest. The
exports of opium vary considerably. The maximum, 86,469 chests,
was reached in 1891; the minimum, 59,632, in 1896.

The consumption in India during the last few years has apparently
decreased. This is attributed to several reasons, including increased

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