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192 BENARES, THE SACRED CITY sisted by a council of elders called the panchayet, exercising certain kinds of judicial and legislative powers, and acting as intermediaries between the government and the people. Among the recognized officials, having specific duties and privileges, are hereditary police, traders, and artisans; the priest who performs religious ceremonies, and sometimes the dancing girl who assists at festivities; the guru who is the village schoolmaster, and the accountant who acts as finance minister for these miniature republics. They are paid by allowances of grain, or by the grant of cultivated land as hereditary possessions..
Khandawa, however, has not retained its ancient Hindu constitution, but has become part of a zemindary, the system of private proprietorship which grew out of the Mogul method of collecting land-revenue. The old temple is one of the few within the limits of Benares which date farther back than the first Muhammadan invasion. It is much bolder and finer in style than the modern Benares temples. Embedded in one side of the portico are a few fragments of sculpture belonging to a still older shrine. Among them is a piece of vigorous carving of those quaint and playful dwarf-like figures which are frequent in Indian sculpture of the early Buddhist times, when the disembodied spirit was believed to resemble a human dwarf in size and appearance. The only touch of modernity about the temple is an English eightday clock, presented by the owner of the village, so that its inhabitants might know the time of day. It is hung up inside the shrine over the phallic emblem of Shiva. ·
Round about the temple are picturesquely grouped
several smaller shrines. They each contain a few pieces of old sculpture, representing one or other of the 300,000,000 deities the Hindu pantheon is said to contain. The Hindu peasant is as confirmed an idolater as the Muhammadan is iconoclast. With a profound indifference to archæological or sectarian distinctions he will take a fragment of sculpture, Bud. dhist, Jain, or Hindu, headless, armless, or legless, build a little shrine for it, give it the name which pleases him best, and worship it as a manifestation of his favourite divinity.
Along the four sides of the tank are broad avenues of trees. Under them the cattle tread out the corn and turn the slow, creaking mill which crushes the juicy sugar-cane. Their mangers, like village altars, are raised on mud pedestals between the trees. Beyond the neat thatched huts an endless expanse of ripening crops promises a plenteous harvest.
Leaving Khandawa, the pilgrims continue their journey by the shady road through the fertile fields, and on the second day reach Dhupchandi, a village 194 BENARES, THE SACRED CITY eight miles farther on. The third day's journey of fourteen miles brings them to Râmeswar, and to a temple there dedicated to Râma. On the fourth they arrive at Shivapur, eight miles farther. Here there is a tank and a Shiva temple containing a number of shrines in which fragments of ancient sculpture are set up for worship, including one of the Panch Pândavas, the five heroes of the Mahâbhârata, and one of Surya, the sun-god, in his seven-horsed car.
At Kapildhara, the fifth day's stage, six miles beyond Shivapur, the pilgrims offer oblations to the. Pitris, the souls of the ancestors. It is one of the places deemed propitious for the Shradha ceremonies of deceased relatives, which are believed to help the souls of the departed on their final pilgrimage to Yama-puri, the kingdom of Death."
According to the Hindu doctrine of the future life, there are two paths, followed by souls of different states of development, according to their karma. The saints who have fulfilled their karma travel by the Devayana, the way of the gods, through the rays of the sun, and never return to be reborn on earth.
Ordinary souls, which have yet to finish the cycle of transmigrations, travel by the Dhumayana of the seven planes, but they can only reach two-Swarloka, heaven, or Bhuvar-loka, the astral plane, according to the life they have led in the world. The souls of ordinary mortals will, it is believed, always remain tied to earth, and eventually become evil spirits tormenting mankind, unless the Shradha ceremonies are duly performed to help them on their way to Yama.
For the first ten days after death the ceremonies performed by the relatives are to help the disembodied
" Thin vaporous clouds of smoke risc from the funeral pyres. The slanting raya
of the morning sun cast long shadows across the ghar" (page 137)