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The Battle of the Cow.
pated, as that a pack of these quick-scented creatures should happen to be attracted to the spot, and, unsodding the remains of the slaughtered animal, hold their nocturnal carnival, and then leave exposed its bones and skull on the field. Next morning, when the head and front of the offence too plainly told its tale, the whole town rose up to a man to demand vengeance. The new-born child, deemed unworthy to live with the blood of kine upon his head, was first sacrificed to appease the manes of the departed quadruped. The hue and cry then followed the Moonshee, who had not reckoned upon his being outwitted and betrayed by jackals. He appealed to the Rajah for protection. But the enormity of his crime left no hopes of mercy from any quarter. Abandoned to his fate, the Moonshee gave the slip to his enemies, and, escaping to his kith and kin, kindled the flames of a war, which, raging for many years, at length terminated in the downfall of the Hindoos.
It is said the place held out so long as the waters of a sacred tank possessed the virtue of restoring life to the fallen soldiers of the Hindoo garrison. But charm was counteracted by charm. A live heifer is more venerated by the Hindoo than the gods of his Triad. But in the shape of meat, it is highest abomination. The Moslems, therefore, played the ruse of throwing in a steak of beef, and defiling thereby the sanctity of the tank out of which their opponent drank. No more could the besieged Hindoos touch a drop of its water. The spell was broken that had made them invincible, and thirst staring them in the face, the screw of their courage got loose, and they gave up the struggle.* This remarkable tank may yet be seen some 200 yards on the west of the town. The site occupied by the present Railway station-house is on the very spot of the battle-field. The spade of the workmen has struck upon many skulls and bones there beneath the turf. Politically, the siege of Pundooa was not less important than the siege of ancient Illion or Lunkathough no rustic Homer or Valmiki has been at pains to commemorate the hapless end of a bovine Bhuggobuttee. In truth it was a desperate struggle for the domination of race over race, and of religion over religion, which ended in the complete triumph of Islam over Hindooism. To this day, there exists a bitter antagonism between the two races at Pundooa, and one is apt to suppose that the ghost of the cow still haunts the place for its unavenged fate.
The tower commemorates the victory of the Islamite. The iron rod running up to its top is verily an anticipation of Franklin's discovery—though Mahomedan credulity should regard it to have been the walking-stick of Shah Sufi, the hero of the war. Hard by is his tomb —an object of great sanctity to the Mussulmans of Lower
* Many such instances occur in the history of India, to show how superstition hastened the end of the ancient Hindoo sovereignty. The fall of Balabhipoor, in ancient Saurashtra, was hastened by polluting with the blood of kine the sacred fountain from which arose, at the summons of Rajah Silladitya, the seven-headed horse Septaswa, which draws the car of the sun, to bear him to battle. In a later age, Allaoodeen practised the same ruse against the celebrated Achil, the Keeche prince of Gagrown, which caused the surrender of this impregnable fortress. (See Col. Tod's Rojasthan, vol. i. page 219.)
Bengal. The mosque is a superb building, two hundred feet long, with sixty domes—a number intended, perhaps, to have preserved an arithmetic correspondence with the threescore Rajahs who fell in the siege.
The Peer-pukur at Pundooa is a large tank, forty feet deep, and 500 years old. It has a pretty appearance with the ruined imambarees and tombs studding its banks. The most remarkable tenant of this tank is a tame alligator called Fatikhan, which has been taught to obey the call of a fakeer living upon the embankments. On summons the monster shows himself upon the surface, and keeps floating for several minutes. To amuse the spectators, he is called to approach the ghaut, and then ordered to make his exit. But the animal is loath to depart, till a fowl or some other food is thrown to him, when he is content to retire into the depths of the tank. This beats Pliny's elephants dancing the rope-dance, or Queen Berenice's lion dining at her table and licking her cheeks.*
* The Maharajah Sheodan Sing had one day been amusing us with the feats of his youth, his swimming from island to island, and bestriding the alligators for an excursion. There are two of these alligators quite familiar to the inhabitants of Oodipoor, who come when called 'from the vasty deep' for food, and I have often exasperated them by throwing an inflated bladder, which the monsters greedily received, only to dive away in angry disappointment.' (Col. Tod, vol. i. page 648.) Captain Von Orlich saw thirty alligators in a tank near Kurrachee, who, at the call of the fakeer, 'instantly crept out of the water, and like so many dogs lay in a semi-circle at the feet of their master.' The art of taming and training beasts and birds has been practised in India from a long antiquity. Talkingbirds were common in the age of Menu, who advises a king to hold his council in a place from which such birds are to be carefully removed. The ancient Greek writers mention that, in the festive pro
The Pundooa of Bengal history is not to be confounded with the Pundooa under notice. The latter seems to have either given its name to, or derived it from, the place where Sultan Shumsoodeen Bengara removed the seat of Government from Gour in 1350, and where his son and successor Secunder built a superb mosque in 1360 A.D. The two places flourished nearly at the same time.*
Past hurrying on by Boinchi. The mere glimpse caught of its dense mass of buildings and huts is enough to give an idea of its populous and thriving character. Fifty years ago, no such rural prosperity met the eye of the traveller passing through these regions. Then a brick-house dared not pop up its head in such an obscure provincial town. The well-doing burgher was sure to have betrayed himself to the dacoits. To this day, the country gentleman does not neglect the precaution of fortifying his house with a high wall, and nailing the doors of his gate with huge nails to resist Present state of Hindoo Towns and Villages. 147
cessions of the Hindoos, tame lions and panthers formed a part of the show to which singing birds, and others remarkable for their plumage, were also made to contribute sitting on trees, which were transported on large waggons, and increased the variety of the scene.' The magpie plays an important part in the drama of the Rutnavali, as does the Sari-sook in the Bhagbut. Such were the public amusements of the generations who knew not anything of idolatry to adorn their processions. Very probably it was from the Indians that the Romans borrowed many of their games in the Circus and Amphitheatre. The wild-beast fights of the Mogul emperors were but a revival of the ancient Hindoo diversions. To this day those diversions survive in the bulbul-fights and ram-fights of our countrymen, in the teaching of parrots and magpies to utter the names of Radha and Krishna, and in the artificial mountains, trees, and gardens, forming a part of our nuptial processions.
* See Stewart's History of Bengal.
the battering of the dhekye. The stair-cases in his zenana are all made to end in trap-doors. On his roof are piles of stones kept in readiness to crush the marauder who might venture to assail the little garrison. But no man now dares to defy the authority of law. The humblest individual is now assured of protection by the State in the possession of what is earned by his diligence, or hoarded by his self-denial. There are few subjects to which the attention of our provincial gentry is so urgently needed to be turned now as the sanitation of their townships—a subject important for its results in the physical history of a nation. The lapse of three thousand years has not suggested one improvement on the principles of town-building laid down by old Menu. Drainage there is none in the topography of a Hindoo town or village.
The roads are mere footpaths, traversable at the best by a single draft bullock. Bowers and gardens are indeed important in rural housekeeping. But the axe should level all that riots and rots-all that hinders ventilation, sunshine, and evaporation. The gloomy orchard is no longer wanted to shelter the householder overtaken by dacoits. Tanks and ponds are the best features in an Indian village, and their ghauts often form the gayest scenes in a village life. But out of twenty such public reservoirs, fifteen are mere cess-pools which poison the air of the village by their stench and malaria.
It is remarkable in all Hindoo towns and villages to see the low-castes occupy everywhere only the outskirts and live in small low wigwams. The hatred of the an