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After we had visited several of the temples we went to the observatory of Rajah Jan Singh, built at the close of the seventeenth century, and looking down from its battlements we see the sacred river shining in the morning sun; the teeming, busy hive of temples and shrines, from which the hum of worship seems to arise; masses of pilgrims sluggishly moving toward the river to plunge into its holy waters and be cleansed of sin. We are pointed out the site of the holy well of Manikarnaki, dug by the god Vishnu, consecrated by the god Mahadeva, whose waters will wash away any sin and make the body pure. From here we went down to the water, and, on board of a steam launch, slowly we steamed under the banks, and the view of the city as seen from our boat was one of the most striking the world can afford. Although the day was not far advanced the sun was out in all his power. Here was the burning Ghat, the spot where the bodies of the Hindoos are burned. No office is so sacred to the dead as to burn his body on the banks of the Ganges. As we slowly steamed along, a funeral procession was seen bearing a body to the funeral pyre. We observed several slabs set around the burning Ghat. These were in memory of widows who had burned themselves on that spot in honor of their husbands, according to the old rite of suttee. We passed the temple of the Lord Tavaka, the special god who breathes such a charm into the ear of the dying that the departing soul goes into eternal bliss.
into eternal bliss. We passed the temple built in honor of the two feet of Vishnu, and which are worshiped with divine honors. We saw the Ghats, or steps erected by Sindia, an Indian prince, built in heavy masonry, but brokèn as by an earthquake and slowly going to ruin. We pass the lofty mosque of Aurungzebe, notable only for its two minarets, which, rising to one hundred and fifty feet, are the highest objects in Benares, and are a landmark for miles and miles. We pass shrines and temples without number, the mere recital of whose names and attributes would fill several chapters. All this is lost in the general effect of the city as seen from the river. Benares sits on the sacred river, an emblem of the strange religion which has made it a holy city, and there is
solemnity in the thought that for ages she has kept her place on the Ganges, that for ages her shrines have been holy to millions of men, that for ages the wisest and purest and best of the Indian race have wandered as pilgrims through her narrow streets, and plunged themselves as penitents into the waters to wash away their sins. It is all a dark superstition, but let, us honor Benares for the comfort she has given to so many millions of sinful, sorrowing souls. And as we pass along the river toward our house, and leave the white towers and steps of Benares glistening in the sunshine, we look back upon it with something of the respect and affection that belong to antiquity, and which are certainly not unworthily bestowed upon so renowned, so sacred, and so venerable a city.
VISIT to India without an experience in the jungle
would be a barren and imperfect proceeding, and since our coming to this country nothing has been
more discussed as among the possible experiences of Indian travel, than what we should do among the elephants and among the tigers, the panthers and the beasts of prey. After Mr. Borie returned from his visit to the man-eating tigers, which the Maharajah of Jeypore kept in a special cage for the edification of his people, he made the official announcement that his curiosity and ambition were satisfied, and that under no circumstances would he go into the jungle to fight a tiger. There was some disappointment over this determination, because we had depended largely upon Mr. Borie to redeem the character of the members of our expedition in the hunting-field. We felt, also, that it was a neglected opportunity for Mr. Borie himself, because he is esteemed in Philadelphia, and, as his friends, we were all anxious that he should carry home to that